NASCAR looks to add track in NYC in ‘09-10

ISC (or NASCAR for those who don’t believe they are different companies) has just bought 450 acres in New York City (on Staten Island). Here is an AP article from the Arizona Republic. According to the article, ISC “has its sights on completing a new facility there as early as 2009.” Read the rest of this entry »

Big 12 expansion

Besides my College Football Top Ten, I don’t talk much about sports on this blog, but I’ve been thinking recently about the Big 10(+1)’s plans to look into adding another team (or more). As a Rutgers University alumnus, this is particular interesting to ponder since they are one of the teams being mentioned. I may be biased, but I see them as the best fit. I do think, however that Missouri is a close second and Pittsburgh is a possibility as well.

According to Wikipedia, rumored teams include:

* University of Notre Dame
* University of Texas
* University of Connecticut
* Rutgers University
* Syracuse University
* University of Missouri
* University of Nebraska
* University of Pittsburgh
* University of Cincinnati
* West Virginia University
* Iowa State University
* University of Maryland
* University of Kentucky
* University of Louisville

Before we get into why I like these teams, lets talk about some of the other teams I’ve heard speculated by some informed or not so-informed people. The first thing people need to remember is that unlike many other major college conferences, the Big 10(+1) is not separable from the academics and missions of the University members. In fact, I believe the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (which is made up of the Big 10(+1) and University of Chicago) has veto power over any additions to the conference. This means, if you are not a member of Association of American Universities (or likely to become one), you are not going to make the cut. The following on Wikipedias list are not currently a member of AAU:

* University of Cincinnati
* University of Connecticut
* University of Louisville
* University of Notre Dame
* West Virginia University

A few of the above could probably get in if they wanted to, but the fact remains they haven’t tried to make that leap to be recognized by the AAU as a leading research-intensive university. Add to the fact that none of these (besides Notre Dame) adds a lot to the conference overall in terms of market or prestige, I will eliminate all of them besides Notre Dame from my short list on these grounds.

Notre Dame would be such a huge win on the athletic side, that the Big 10(+1) would take them in the heart beat and while they are a smaller school (11,300 students) by Big 10(+1) standards and are not an AAU school, they are excellent in what they do academically, so I am sure the CIC would not stand in the way. However, what does this alignment gain Notre Dame? Not much. They already have a conference for other sports. And not just any conference, the Big East, which is a (the?) top conference in many of them (especially basketball). Notre Dame with being able to stay independent and have their own TV contracts has nothing to fain from joining in. They really are a better fit academically with the Georgetown’s of the world anyway.

Moving on, University of Texas? Why would they leave the Big 12? They already have the highest or second highest sports revenue because of the way the Big 12 profit sharing works. Would the other public Texas schools let them even if they wanted to? How about the Texas legislative branch? Also, they aren’t a fit geographically. I have read that any new schools must be in a current member state or a contiguous state. While I’m sure rules can be broken, this doesn’t make sense.

Syracuse is an AAU school and brings a good football traditional and a great basketball one, so I can see why it is one of the most mentioned. However, it is a private school, not huge (12,491 FTE undergrads), and doesn’t bring a big media market. Athletically and academically it might be a nice fit, but I don’t see what it brings in monetarily compared to the other schools being talked about.

Iowa State seems to be mentioned by a lot of people. However, mostly on blogs by people from Iowa or adjoining states. Sure Iowa v. Iowa State in conference would make a nice rivalry, but don’t they already play every year? US News and World Report has them ranked 88 in national universities and is an AAU school. While 88th is a little on the low side, I think if the Big 10(+1) could show that Iowa State would add enough academically that the CIC wouldn’t put up a huge fuss. Still, what do they add? Not really any new markets since they already have Iowa. I don’t see it.

University of Maryland fits the bill academically (53rd in US News). They could land the DC market, so I can see some interest. However, I don’t see what leaving the ACC does for Maryland. They get to play the likes of North Carolina and Duke in basketball every year and their football team normally (but not this year) does okay there. Plus, it isn’t a great fit geographically. Doesn’t seem like a good fit.

The University of Kentucky hasn’t gotten a lot of press as a possibility, but like Maryland I don’t see it happening. Why would they leave the SEC? They are one of the top 20 or 25 in college sports revenue and the SEC confines are a good fit. Also, the academic rank of 128 in US News isn’t going to bring any love via the CIC either.

University of Nebraska has been mentioned by some. It does add one thing that I don’t think any other rumored school besides Notre Dame could bring and that is the level of football history and excitement nation-wide, They don’t add much in basketball, but I’m not sure that would be a deal-breaker. Since Lincoln is on the eastern side of the state, they are not a real bad fit geographically. Academically they are 96th in US News. I think that would make a harder sell to the CIC though as I am sure they do not want to make this look like it is all about money and a 96th ranked school makes it look that way a lot more then a 71st ranked school would. While Nebraska would bring some notoriety, again, not a huge market. Also, I think the Big 12 has served Nebraska well and I don’t see the Big 12 letting them go very easily even if they wanted to leave. Thus, I think the Corn huskers are staying where they are.

This leaves the three teams I think have the biggest chance of being asked and accepted: Pittsburgh, Missouri, and Rutgers. All of them bring some good things to the table and are worthy of consideration. Also, I can see all of them being willing to leave under the right circumstances. And in fact, if the Big 10 wanted to be the Big 14, I can see all three of them being added, but I think they will probably stop at 10 despite statements saying they would consider 14 or 16 teams.

Missouri is ranked lower then Nebraska on the US News and World Report (102) but I don’t think the perception that this will only be about football would be as strong with them as it would be about Nebraska. Missouri has made rumblings that they are unhappy with how revenues are split in the Big 12 and they have been jumped over by worse teams for bowl games so I am not so sure they are thrilled with the Big 12 right now. They also bring in both the Kansas City and strengthen the ties to the St. Louis market. Not as big as New York/Philly like Rutgers, but still a nice addition. Still, I don’t think the Big 12 would let them leave without a fight.

One thing some people may not know is that the University of Pittsburgh is actually a fairly large (17,427 undergraduates) public university. It has a good tradition in basketball and football, and is closer to the center of the conference than Penn State. It is raked 56th in US News and is home to the internationally renowned University of Pittsburgh Medical Center so it makes sense academically and geographically. While it would seem that it would add the Pittsburgh market, it really doesn’t since Penn State already encroaches on it (as, I would imagine to some extent, Ohio State does from the west). Also, while Pitt is good in both major men’s sports, I’m not sure the Big 10(+1) is really interested in a top basketball program joining in. In this case, I think the basketball, if anything, might be a minus. Also, as a founding Big East member, I think they might be less likely to leave the Big East than Rutgers would be. Thus, why I wouldn’t be surprised if they were offers a spot in the Big 10(+1), I think television markets are working against them.

The last one on the list is Rutgers. As I mentioned, I received a degree from the fine institution so I am biased, but I think Rutgers makes a lot of sense. They are in the New York market and, often overlooked, are close to the Philadelphia market as well. They are raked slightly lower then Pitt (66th) but have a great reputation. One thing that hurts their ranking a bit is endowments, but I think Rutgers will start seeing that go up compared to other similar schools due to the history of the University (It didn’t become Rutgers The State University until 1956). With 28,031 undergraduate on the New Brunswick campus, it is a large(r) school and that means alumni watching TV. Also, while nay-sayers point out NYC is a pro-sports town, one needs to remember a lot of New York and New Jersey residents went to school at Big 10(+1) schools. This means alumni receptions at Rutgers stadium. This also means recruiting in the area. Geography is not as much of an asset as with Pittsburgh or maybe even Missouri, but it has good transportation hubs so it is not horrible. Rutgers has one four straight bowl games so they are an up and comer. While they won the first football game ever, they are not really a perennial powerhouse, but they have been pretty good of late and I think they can hold their own through Big 10(+1) conference play and might be able to grow into one of the teams in the top half of the conference. Mens basketball hasn’t been great either, but again,I’m not sure that is a problem. One plus that Rutgers (along with some other schools in the list that I didn’t mention) is the women’s basketball program is very good. I think that helps them a little bit as well. Also, I am pretty sure that Rutgers, as a large land grant institution, would love to join the CIC, which I think would be offered if they joined the conference.

With all that said, I think Rutgers is the choice 1a and Missouri 1b. Pitt is a not so distant third. Maybe that 14 team league is sounding good if the Big (10(+1) is thinking along similar lines.

Thoughts?

OCLC’s new Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records

As you may recall, the “leaked” news of the impending change in OCLC’s “Policy for the Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records” caused quite a stir in the library community. During this stir there was a lot of speculation on what the change would mean to libraries and other interested parties. While I had some of my own speculation, I decided to take a wait and see attitude about the changes themselves. Really, I, and I am sure others, were originally most concerned about was the way OCLC originally planed to implement these changes. Not to say that we weren’t concerned about what the new policy would mean, but I was reassured by some people from OCLC that the change weren’t all that bad. While they (understandably) wouldn’t say what any of the changes were I took there reassurance as a positive sign. This combined with Karen Calhoun’s e-mail to AUTOCAT led me to be not as worried as I originally was when the news first broke.

The new policy was posted briefly on Sunday but has been taking down because OCLC is “reconsidering some aspects of the policy”. More information will be available in the near future but considering that OCLC has left the FAQ and Summary up, it is reasonable to expect the new policy won’t change drastically. Dan Scott, among others, archived copies of the policy as posted on November 2, so we can see what OCLC is reconsidering. I am not really sure what to take from the withdraw of the posting. If they were hoping for constructive feedback, they should have left it up and issued a public request for comment.

Assuming my assumption is correct that the policy won’t change drastically as OCLC reconsiders, what will the new mean for libraries? The Summary of the Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records says we are free to:

  1. To use, reproduce, incorporate into works and display WorldCat records.
  2. To transfer WorldCat records of you own holdings.”

Under the following conditions:

  1. Noncommercial use
  2. Noncommercial transfer
  3. Attribution
  4. Reasonable Use
  5. Modification
  6. Conveyance

(see the Summary for how OCLC describes each of these).

The old policy, at least the way I read it, allowed for non-commercial transfer before. So what is new or different? First thing I noticed is this policy is definitely clearer than the earlier one. That is without question a good thing. Of course, if the policy is clear but severely restricts usage, that would be an issue. So what are the restrictions that the new policy puts in place? First, the restrictions on internal library non-commercial use are minimal. Basically, libraries can do pretty much what they want with WorldCat records INTERNALLY for the library as long as it is for “reasonable” non-commercial use. More on reasonable use latter on.

But before we go on, what appears to be the reason for this new policy. For that, I think the best analysis I have seen thus far comes from Terry Reese. Terry believes that:

essentially OCLC is looking for a way to tell libraries that they don’t own the data that’s in their own catalogs.  In essence — this is what this policy comes down to.  The policy wraps some very nice changes for non-members into the statement in order to hide some really sucky changes that I don’t believe that they have the ability to ask for or enforce. 

While the new policy doesn’t do much to restrict internal library use, since OCLC can change the policy at any time, (and judging from this new policy, thy believe they can change the rights retrospectively) this should concern libraries. Basically it is saying members libraries do not own the data they have created and/or paid for (WorldCat records are not free to member libraries).

We start getting into more significant restrictions when transferring records outside of the library. In order for a member library to transfer records, they must 1) provide Attribution, 2) not modify the OCLC number or remove the link to this policy (Modification Restriction), and 3) commercial transfer is prohibited. Both the Attribution and the Modification Restriction are aiming at the same thing… making sure the user knows where the records come from and what the use restrictions are. That, in of itself is not a big issue to me. As Eric Childress points out, many Open Source Software licenses, including the GPL, have similar requirements. The non-commercial use is not a new restriction. Although I’d prefer the non-commercial use restriction not to be there, I can understand why OCLC would want it.

What is new, as Ed Summers points out, is the viral nature of this restriction. I.e. if I give my records to a non-OCLC member, they will have to follow this policy as well. The new policy, makes it so that (without a separate agreement with a OCLC) a non-OCLC member “may transfer WorldCat Records of its own holdings to OCLC Members and Non-OCLC members under separate agreement with OCLC.” In other words, without a separate agreement with OCLC they can not transfer records to anyone – for commercial or non-commercial uses. This, along with the “reasonable use” clause is a significant restriction to the use and transfer for non-OCLC members that obtain WorldCat records. This also means a small public library that gets there records via Z39.50 from member libraries can not share them – not even to patrons for personal use. Non-OCLC Members that have WorldCat records will have to shut down Z39.50 and similar services unless OCLC decides at their “sole discretion” to allow this on a case-by-case basis. This is a significant restriction on current use and I hope it is one of the things OCLC is reconsidering.

Another significant aspect of the new policy is the idea of “Reasonable Use.” The summary describes Reasonable Use as:

Use must not discourage the contribution of bibliographic and holdings data to WorldCat or substantially replicate the function, purpose, and/or size of Worldcat.

This, along with the viral restrictions, is probably one of the biggest things in the new policy. Some commercial library automation vendors have discussed the possibility of creating a shared database of holdings for people that use there software. While there are different ways this can be done, it seems clear that this restriction would make it very difficult, if not impossible, to do, even if a separate non-commercial entity was created for this purpose. As Terry Reese points out what I s at stake here is the ability for libraries to create network-level discovery services (outside of OCLC anyway).

One question I do have is where does this leave the Open Library? It is a little unclear from the policy to me. Certainly the Open Library is non-commercial, but does the Open Library “discourage the contribution of bibliographic and holdings data to WorldCat or substantially replicate the function, purpose, and/or size of Worldcat.” For an answer to this, I looked at the FAQ, but things still are a little unclear to me. The FAQ does say that building a cataloging service using WorldCat records would be a no-no. This seems to imply to me that the Open Library could not make records obtained via WorldCat after this policy goes into effect available in Z39.50, OAI, or direct download. I.e. Replace the Function. I am not sure that is a goal of The Open Library, but if it is, they will no longer be able to provide access in this way to records that came through WorldCat. Purpose is an interesting because issue because what is the purpose of WorldCat? I looked at the WoldCat FAQ and the WorldCat web site for an answer and didn’t really come up with a purpose statement. Sure, it’s purpose is to help libraries catalog (which is covered by the function restrictions), but is it more than that? It seems to me the purpose can also be said to include the display the holdings of individual libraries. In that regard, there is a difference in purpose with WorldCat and Open Library. WorldCat is interested in holdings were as Open Library wants a Web page for every book, whether it is in a library or not. Or as the Open Library puts it:

A major difference between OCLC and the OpenLibrary is that OCLC is building a catalog to share among libraries, while OpenLibrary is building a catalog to share with the public, with the hope that this will get more people involved in using libraries.

Thus, you can say that Open Library does not have the same purpose. I think where they might get in trouble with using WorldCat records obtained after this policy goes into effect is if they start trying to offer a service that displays holdings information. While I think that this policy might not necessarily kill off Open Library’s use of WorldCat records, Tim Spalding disagrees and a commenter, infiniteletters, on Tim’s blog believes it will also kill off “a lot of these international library catalogs too, such as Cooperative Online Bibliographic System and Services (COBISS)“. However, even if WorldCat’s terms allowed Open Library to use the records, would Open Library even want these viral records? It is my understanding that they want records without use restrictions.

The other restriction is size. The scale of the collection is important factor. I assume they put that in so that someone doesn’t collect WorldCat records in order to create a national or international union catalog with records that have passed through WorldCat. My assumption is that this would then, in turn, mean that using WorldCat records to create smaller union catalogs, such as SUNY Union Catalog would be permitted. However, that is not really clear. Certainly I think such a use would follow the defined intent of the policy. Eric Childress says that OCLC’s “intent is to be generous in granting exceptions for uses that are consistent with the overall intent of the Policy.” However, it also would compete with Local WorldCat so maybe they wouldn’t permit it. OCLC has made a request form for clarification available, so if you are not sure if your transfer is permitted, you may want to fill out the form and ask them. Whatever you do, don’t take my word for it as I am not a lawyer.

OK, so what does this all mean for OCLC member libraries? Well, I think for current day-to-day cataloging operations, probably not much. No matter how enraged a library is about the policy, what could they do? I don’t see many libraries pulling out of OCLC because of this because they are the only game in town. Some commentators in the library blogosphere are using the”M:” word. That’s right, Monopoly. It is hard to argue that OCLC isn’t a monopoly. Where else can we go for this type of service since they have gobbled up RLG? The new policy as currently written restricts our future options. Basically, we will not be able to replace OCLC WorldCat with any thing, non-commercial or not, to cooperatively share records – at least not retrospectively. It would have to be started off with a “clean slate” of records. Libraries who got records that somehow passed through WorldCat could not cooperatively share them without OCLC’s permission. I am not sure you can blame OCLC for wanting to do that, but it does create a huge vendor lock in issue – and one that I wonder would pass a legal challenge if someone decided to bring OCLC to court under Monopoly laws.

It also means that libraries may need to be vigilant about who is using their Z39.50 and other standard protocols to access records. In the FAQ, OCLC does not tell members to turn off these services, or even actively monitor them. However, if we become aware that someone is obtaining records from you this way for commercial purposes you will have to act. The FAQ basically asks you to e-mail them describing the situation which seems reasonable enough since it would be impossible to cover what a library should do in each individual instance of such an abuse. However, if someone or some organizations starts trying to harvest records from hundreds of libraries, this may become a bigger issue. Lets hope that doesn’t happen in any large scale manner. As already pointed out, non-OCLC members would have to turn off Z39.50 to meet the letter of the policy.

Related to this is that commercial software that smaller libraries use to search other library catalogs to retrieve records may become more expensive or choices may become more limited. I say this because one of the questions in the FAQ asks “My commercial company offers an option for users to search catalogs of libraries an use or download records that originally came from WorldCat.Is that OK under this policy?” The answer in the FAQ is “No. You will need to establish an agreement with OCLC first.” I am assuming that the world “commercial” is not in there by accident and this won’t directly effect Open Source projects. However, there are a number of commercial companies that support Open Source Software that can do this (such as the Koha through its cataloging module) and they may need to sign an agreement with OCLC. This will also effect commercial companies that offer Z39.50 service. For example, the way I read this FAQ, EndNote will not be able to offer pre-configured Z39.50 search targets of libraries that use OCLC without an agreement from OCLC. This is furhter backed up by Terry Reese being asked, even previously to this policy, to “limit the Z39.50 functionality so that it didn’t become a free Bookware like program.” This may make it harder for our patrons to get content into personal citation managers. I am not really sure how enforceable this would be, but it may be an issue.

I am concerned about how this policy, as written, effects are ability to send records to III for use in Encore or to another commercial vendor that offers a commercial resource discovery product. If you are operating the server locally, it may be less of an issue because you are not necessarily transferring the records. However, if they are are using a hosted solution, my reading of this policy is that it would be considered a commercial transfer. The way I read the policy it disallows any commercial transfer. Commercial use is defined very liberally and I believe the policy, as written, does not permit us to do this unless OCLC signs an agreement with the vendor allowing this use. I doubt that this is the intent of this policy, but it is the wording. My fear is further enhanced by the question in the FAQ that reads “”My commercial company offers an option for users to search catalogs of libraries and use or download records that originally came from WorldCat. Is that OK under this policy?” The answer in the FAQ is basically no: “You will need to establish an agreement with OCLC first.” I would assume that OCLC would be more than willing to allow this for one library, however if OCLC doesn’t offer a blanket clarification that this is reasonable use, libraries will need to ask OCLC for permission to do this with their records. It will be interesting to see how this turns out. If a commercial entity was offering to create a union catalog for a local organization using something like Endeca or Encore would it be allowed? The way I read the policy I say it wouldn’t be allowed unless OCLC offered the commercial entity an exception. Since such an exception would on some level compete with OCLC’s Local WorldCat product, there could be questions raised.

What will happen from here? It depends on what OCLC reconsiders and changes from the policy. Taking into account Eric Childress’ comment that OCLC intends to be generous with exceptions along with the earlier e-mail from Karen Calhoun that says one of the intents of the new policy is to “Expand the opportunities for record sharing among members and non-members”, I am hopeful that they are reconsidering a lot of what I and others find objectionable and that when the re-release the policy there will be improvements. At the same time, I am sure the policy won’t be everything I hope for which would be to have a truly Open WorldCat. I know OCLC believes that it is in the best interests of their members to restrict access, but I disagree. Libraries are in the business of providing information (usually for free), not in the business of restricting access to information. If OCLC goes too far with restricting use and transfer of WorldCat records we may see a legal battle ensue (which may be a small part of the reason for the reevaluation). Besides the afore-mentioned monopoly issues there are other legal questions. Is OCLC in a position where it has the rights to put restrictions on records created by public employees? Are MARC records even copyright-able in the first place? Whatever ends up happening, it will be interesting.

New England Code4Lib Chapter

Thanks to a post on Roy Tennant’s blog, I have found out about a third Code4Lib regional group to go along with Appalachia and NYC Code4Lib regional groups that I previously wrote about. This one is in New England and hopes to have a one day event in mid-November or early December. Keep the regional groups coming!

OCLC WorldCat Hackathon

Word is getting out about the OCLC WorldCat Hackathon that will be held November 7-8 in New York City. According to the Web site, the Hackathon is “sponsored by the OCLC Developer’s Network and NYPL Labs of The New York Public Library, the WorldCat Hackathon gives participants the opportunity for two full days of brainstorming and coding mash-ups with local systems and other Web services to take advantage of all that WorldCat, the world’s largest bibliographic database, has to offer.”

As Peter Murray laments, I also “wish I could get to NYC for the two-day event.” Since it is only one day away from work (it is on a Friday/Saturday), I don’t think being away from work would be a problem for me, but staying in NYC can be quite expensive and Binghamton is a little far to drive back and forth (besides, parking would be really expensive if I actually drove into the city). Hopefully I can figure out a way to put it into my schedule/budget.

With the new Ex Libris Open-Platform Strategy, it will be interesting to see if Ex Libris will follow and host a similar event for their customers. Certainly, OCLC’s base of programmers, hackers, and tech enthusists are going to be smaller, but something like this could still attract a number of people if the 2007 EndUser Voyager Hackfest is any indication. Maybe this would be more viable as far as attracting developers if it is held in conjunction with ELUNA or the IGeLU conference? Do any of the Ex Libris product users/hackers have any thoughts?

Code4Lib regional chapters

It is interesting to see regional chapters of Code4Lib popping up, being that while Code4Lib is a brand, a community, an idea, an IRC channel, a e-mail list, a journal, and many other things, but it is not an organization – at least not in a traditional sense. There is no official leadership, there is no board, no steering committee, no 501(c)3, etc. It is an organic entity that keeps evolving and growing. As part of that growth, two regional Code4Lib chapters have recently emerged. The Code4LibNYC chapter in New York and Code4Lib Appalachia centered around Western North Carolina. I am sure it will not take long for a few more people to step up and organize other chapters. It will be interesting to see how these chapters evolve and fit into the greater Code4Lib community. What purpose will they server. Will they host mini-conferences of their own? Will a chapter try to host the Code4Lib conference as a joint effort? There are many possibilities and only time will tell. It won’t take long to find out what happens in the first Code4LibNYC chapter meeting which will be held at the METRO offices in New York City on East 11th street from 10 a.m. – 12:00 noon on Wednesday, September 10th. The meeting will include a series of 5-10 minute lightning talks. I’d love to travel down to the city for it, but the timing doesn’t work for me at this time (esp. considering it is 3 hours each way and ther is no train from Binghamton).

Maybe next time it will work out that I can make it…. I hope so.

II Conferencia Internacional de Software Libre – Encuentro Internacional sobre Conocimiento Libre – Tiny Content

The II Conferencia Internacional de Software Libre – Encuentro Internacional sobre Conocimiento Libre call for papers have just been announced. I received the call for papers on an e-mail list in English, but the website is currently only available in Spanish (although they have greyed-out places for English and Portuges). Seems like an interesting conference, but since I don’t speak or read Spanish, all I know about it is the call for papers. For those that are interested and don’t Speak or read Spanish, the call for papers is included below: Read the rest of this entry »

Riverhead Raceway, Riverhead NY, May 14 2005

Walter and I left his house a little after 12 noon to head to Riverhead Raceway. This was his first trip to the track while it was my second. I went there once before about two or three years ago. The worse thing about Riverhead is getting there. I don’t like dealing with traffic and until I get myself a private track chasin’ aeroplane, to get there you have to deal with traffic in NYC. Luckily, traffic wasn’t too bad by New York standards and we made it to the traffic in about 2.5 hours without too many issues. Read the rest of this entry »