Brooklyn Public Library


Additional Resources for Your Research Needs

May 18, 2011 10:22 AM | 0 comments

This post comes from Melissa, a librarian here at Brooklyn Public Library.

I have this friend who, among other pursuits, is a writer. When she needs to do research for an article or other work, she's dependent on free online content and public library resources. Yes, we have books on our shelves, and can even get my friend needed titles that we don't own via interlibrary loan. Let's also assume that she can navigate effectively around the internet.

But I would also urge her to take a look at our latest video tutorial to see how useful JSTOR can be:

Despite the obvious benefits of Google and library books, there's still a big category of content that my friend could miss. How will she be able to get to academic explorations of the incarceration of women? Where could she find in-depth analysis of welfare reform and the feminization of poverty? What if she needs some scholarly context for her work with community projects on the Lower East Side?

Perhaps these sorts of situations sound familiar to you? Well, in addition to the newspaper and magazine articles, encyclopedias, test preparation materials and other tools that are covered in BPL's digital resources, we also have subscriptions of a more scholarly nature. One of these is JSTOR, a database that indexes over a thousand academic journals and includes articles, images, book reviews and other content.

Although most of BPL's subscription databases are available remotely, the license we have with JSTOR allows for access only from within Central Library. In order to use it you need to plan ahead and come in when we're open.

But it's not so bad! Take the 2/3 train or get on the B41 bus and disembark by the plaza. And if you bike, your reward for your research jaunt can be a leisurely ride through an increasingly verdant Prospect Park.

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Managing eResources at BPL

May 4, 2011 12:05 PM | 0 comments

This post comes from Melissa, a librarian here at Brooklyn Public Library.

Lots of people read eBooks. The 2010 winter holiday season provided the perfect opportunity for many of us to give our loved ones eReading devices, and the number of eReaders (both human and machine) will only keep growing. BPL, of course, is among many libraries that offer downloadable media for borrowing. (Fun fact: our vendor’s server actually shut down because of the volume of requests right after Christmas!)

Library collections already represent a tangle of business relationships, decisions for which are made to take into account efficiency, community benefit, financial constraints and research needs. But when it comes to print materials, the public (you!) doesn't really need to be affected by all that. The book or magazine is borrowable according to library loan rulesthat's it. Even access to the subscription databases requires only the use of an Internet-connected computer. 

But successful use of eBooks and other digital content through the library means that you need not only a valid library account but probably two personal devices (unless you're going to be reading all your eBooks on your computer). Let's not even get into the economic and environmental implications of needing so much hardware to keep up with the new horizons in publishing and reading. Let's instead talk about why today has been designated a Day Against DRM.

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management or in the glass-half-empty view, Digital Restrictions ManagementThere's a batch of lay-readers' definitions (part of an informal survey of e-reading habits) that are a rather enjoyable read themselves. Bear in mind that DRM is separate from copyright, but the one usually ends up being discussed in conjunction with the other.

Libraries are rather interestingly positioned on this issue (of course, I'm biased) because we might, as BPL does, subscribe to digital media collections that almost inevitably use DRM. However, given that access is something paramount to our values as well as our basic operations, we also have a responsibility to the public (again, you!) to proceed with care.

The book- (and other tangible item) lending that public libraries have done for decades gets its legal backing from the doctrine of first sale, but the world of lending materials is a more complicated place now. Copyright law, never known for its simplicity, adds to the general confusion over DRM. I have heard it said more than once that the reason most people end up pirating content is because it's easier than the alternatives. 

If DRM is not effective against piracy, what might it be good for? On the reader's side, is the language of "rights" applicable here, in the sense that there could be an eBook User's Bill of Rights or a Reader's Bill of Rights for Digital Books (and note that the latter brings up important points about privacy)?

Of course, the codexor, as you may refer to it, bookis still a vital format. BPL continues to add paper books to the collection, and we make booklists and other recommendations for readers regardless of the technology involved.

You may not want to celebrate a Day Against DRM, but do think about what you as a reader could do to make electronic texts accessible and ownable in ways that fairly compensate authors and publishers. 

What new developments will the next few years bring?

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