Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 231.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 08:35:00 +0100
Subject: [STOA] "We want it to be Jacksonian, noisy, and
This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education
(http://chronicle.com) was forwarded to you from: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, September 12, 2000
U. of North Carolina Gets $4-Million to Expand 'Public Library
of the Internet'
By FLORENCE OLSEN
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's MetaLab, one
of the busiest digital libraries on the Internet, on Monday
received a $4-million gift and a new name, ibiblio.org. Its
benefactor says the gift will help the site develop its unique
character as "the public library of the Internet."
The Red Hat Center, a private foundation in Durham, N.C., made
the gift and announced a five-year joint project with the
university to expand ibiblio. Robert Young, who is one of the
founders of the Linux software company Red Hat, says ibiblio
demonstrates the value of free public libraries and
exemplifies the ideals of the open-source movement.
The movement maintains that knowledge, unlike real property,
should be free. Linux is an open-source computer operating
system -- created by volunteers from all over the world.
Consisting of computer code that is publicly available, it has
attracted a considerable amount of interest as an alternative
to Microsoft's Windows products.
U.N.C.'s enormous library server, which handles an average of
1.5 million transactions daily, is one of the largest
repositories of Linux software and software documentation.
"Developers and programmers around the world take this stuff
for granted -- but value it highly," Mr. Young says.
The server also is the repository for digitized historical
collections that include Documenting the American South, a
series of book-length narratives of life under slavery, and
the folk-music collection of the songwriter and musician Roger
McGuinn, who cofounded the Byrds.
Paul Jones, the director of the online library, says the gift
will enable ibiblio to award research fellowships and develop
the software infrastructure for expanding its collection of
digital materials. Mr. Jones is an associate professor of
information and library science who also teaches in the School
of Journalism and Mass Communications.
From its beginnings as SunSITE.unc.edu, the digital library
has grown by permitting people to share songs, software, and
other intellectual property, Mr. Jones says. Anyone with
something valuable to share could upload the material to be
added to the library's collection. "All they had to do was
fill out the equivalent of an electronic card-catalog card,"
he says. Up until last week, the library's only online
self-promotion was a small label that read: "Serving your
Internet needs since 1992."
During the next six to eight months, Mr. Jones says he expects
to introduce user-based rankings and ratings of ibiblio
library materials, adopting some of the methods and
open-source software used by slashdot.org, another popular
Internet site. "We want it to be Jacksonian, noisy, and
participatory," he says.
Mr. Young, a prominent proponent of open-source software, says
Congress, in recent years, has been too protective of patent
and copyright holders at the expense of the public's interest.
"If all knowledge was owned by some megacorporation, and if
copyrights were indefinite as some people in Congress are
proposing," he says, "the world's most profitable corporation
today would be Ancient Greek Mathematicians Inc."
He says ibiblio is proof that "extending patents and copyright
rules to the satisfaction of Disney or Time Warner is not
necessarily in the interest of all of us as citizens."
Western scientific progress has been made by sharing
knowledge, Mr. Young says, "and that's what the MetaLab and
the University of North Carolina have always stood for."
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The Stoa: A Consortium for Electronic Publication
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