NOTE: March is a fully booked month for me, what with article deadlines, speaking engagements, and a visit from my son, so there won't be another issue until April.
WHO'S GOING TO PRESERVE ZINE CONTENT?
by Marylaine Block
Whenever I send out ExLibris to subscribers, I always include the "permanent" URL for that particular issue. But what, exactly, do we who create e-zines mean when we say "permanent"? Just how much of a promise is that?
For me, all it really signifies is that as long as I want to pay the monthly fee to maintain marylaine.com as a showcase for my writing, I'll maintain the complete archive here. But when I no longer have much to say about libraries and the internet, or if I maybe get the opportunity again to get paid for writing a weekly column about American life, I'll probably let the web site lapse, in which case, all the articles I've posted here will vanish.
Perhaps that's no great loss; after all, libraries and the internet are changing at warp speed, and even things that might have sounded really good at the time I wrote them may lose their relevance over time. Maybe all that will be lost is the historical value: what were people saying about the internet and libraries at a particular moment in time.
But my zine is just one of many. Think of all the others -- Library Juice [http://www.libr.org/Juice/], New Breed Librarian [http://www.newbreedlibrarian.org/], LLRX [http://llrx.com/], FreePint [http://www.freepint.com/index.html], Cites & Insights [http://cical.home.att.net/index.html], D-Lib Magazine [http://www.dlib.org/], or First Monday [http://www.firstmonday.dk/], just to name a few. It could easily be argued that in this age of instant electronic access, these journals are at least as influential as the older established print publications, and yet the survival of their archives is entirely dependent on their creators' continuing interest and ability to support the server costs and contribute their own time. That's a lot of valuable content which is fundamentally at risk, content specifically aimed at the very professionals who invented the concept of archiving and indexing.
My question is this: shouldn't the full-text database providers serving libraries, like Wilson, or OCLC, or Ebsco, negotiate with me and Rory Litwin and Cindy Chick and Tara Calishain and Walt Crawford and others like us, to archive the content of our zines and index it right along with the other librarians' publications they offer full-text? Wouldn't this make their databases more complete, reflecting the full range of librarians' discussions of current issues? Wouldn't this serve their mission of preserving valuable content and keeping it from disappearing forever?
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Some futurists assert that making text accessible at the paragraph level, with user-defined links to other paragraphs, inherently makes the text more worthwhile. Serious prose writers and serious readers will disagree. . . Order and cumulative exposition are significant to well-written linear text that seeks to impart knowledge. Paragraphs in substantial books have meaning only in context of what precedes and follows them.
Walt Crawford, Michael Gorman. Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality. ALA, 1995.
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You are welcome to copy and distribute or e-mail any of my own articles for noncommercial purposes (but not those by my guest writers) as long as you retain this copyright statement:
Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2002.
[Publishers may license the content for a reasonable fee.]