14.0231 UNC "Public Library of the Internet"

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Wed Sep 13 2000 - 07:39:35 CUT

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                   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
             From: scaife@pop.uky.edu
             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: scaife@pop.uky.edu

        Tuesday, September 12, 2000

        U. of North Carolina Gets $4-Million to Expand 'Public Library
        of the Internet'


        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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    Copyright 2000 by The Chronicle of Higher Education


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