Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Madras, Giridhar (2008). Current Science, 95(8), p. 1081. 25 October 2008

Madras, Giridhar (2008). Current Science, 95(8), p. 1081. 25 October 2008


This book discusses the initiatives taken by various institutions in India towards digital library, open courseware, open access (OA) journals and finally, national and institutional repositories.

OA is a term often used but misunderstood, even by academicians. OA literature is often digital, available free of charge, and usually free of most licensing restrictions. OA research articles fall into two categories: OA journals and OA repositories. Unlike other professionals, research scholars write journal articles for free to advance knowledge in their field and, possibly, their careers. The entire process of writing a research paper, reviewing by other peers and editorial decisions are carried out at nearly no cost. However, the publisher charges for access to the journal. In the OA model, it is available free for readers but not free for producers. OA journals normally charge the authors (who are likely to pass on the cost either to the publisher or the agency that funded the research) to publish the research paper. These charges may be exorbitant in some cases, but the charges are also waived by a few OA journals. However, scholars publish their research for impact and the most prestigious journals in many fields are not OA yet.

Therefore, a researcher, especially from South Asia/India, is likely to publish in a journal that is considered prestigious internationally, rather than just OA. In these cases, OA repositories would greatly help. Many OA repositories comply with the OA initiative protocol (OAIP) for metadata harvesting, thus allowing a user to access a paper without being aware where the archive is located. Almost all publishers of journals allow archiving a postprint of the research paper after peer review in an institutional repository. Thus the author can submit the paper in a repository after it has been accepted for publication. However, most publishers do not allow archiving of papers that have been copy-edited and published by them. While many OA repositories in India claim to have thousands of papers, because these are not post-prints submitted by authors but the copy-edited paper published by the society/publisher. Thus many of these papers are inaccessible outside the organization, which defeats the very purpose of OA. Unless authors clearly perceive the advantages of depositing in a repository (like improved impact etc.), it is unlikely that post-print deposition will increase. Most of the research in developing countries like India is publicly funded and the funding agencies can mandate that the research papers arising from this funding should be deposited by the authors in an institutional repository. This would greatly impact the open access movement in India.

The book would be a good starting point for novices who are unaware of the number of digital libraries, OA journals, etc. in India. It would have been better if the authors had discussed the access to these websites, the advantages and disadvantages of some of these OA initiatives and the details of the holdings. Instead, this book is just a compendium of screenshots of many digital libraries, OA journals and repositories in India. A few typographical error, like, ‘IISc, located at Bangalore, is India’s most renounced research institution . . . .’ (p. 101) could have been avoided.

Natarajan, M. (2008). Annals of Library and Information Studies, 55(1), p.81.

Natarajan, M. (2008). Annals of Library and Information Studies, 55(1), p.81.

This book describes some of the digital initiatives in India and outside with particular reference to South Asia. It discusses and identifies areas like the type of contents included in e-form, the agency / organization which is involved, the supporting organisation, software used, their web addresses and a brief description of the activities. The book is mainly focused as a reference source for identifying the sources available on open access. It has chapters on digital library initiatives, open courseware initiatives, open access journals, Metadata harvesting services, National level open access repositories, and Institutional Repositories.

The first chapter on digital library initiatives in different types of institutions is highlighted with the multilingual content aspects. About the organization and the detailed history is also included. The second chapter on Open Courseware initiatives, describes the efforts made by the Consortium for Educational Communication for learning with the allied / related projects at the end of each initiatives with other initiatives like UNESCO-SALIS and National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning.

The third chapter discusses the open access e-journals from INSA, Indian journals.org and even from private publishers including the availability of issues. The fourth chapter on Metadata harvesting services provides the highlights of CASSSIR from NCSI, for the development of OAI-based Institutional research repository services in India. The other initiatives are also highlighted. The National level open access repositories discusses on special subject oriented repositories like for catalysis database, Librarians' Digital Library, OpenMed@NIC, etc. Some of the Institutional Repositories are discussed under institutional Repositories before concluding the digital initiatives taken in the South Asia.

It has concluded that there is a need for policy frameworks at institutional level with infrastructure, trained manpower and the required financial resources. The open access should be available from any region and at any time is a trivial issue and bridges the social divide. It gives the visibility of e-resources available in south Asia, which will act as reference source for open access initiatives for digital contents. This is available at FREE of cost.

Balnaves, Edmund (2008). IFLA Information Technology Section Newsletter, July 2008, p.10.

Balnaves, Edmund (2008). IFLA Information Technology Section Newsletter, July 2008, p.10. www.ifla.org/VII/s21/news/ITSnewsletter_July_08.pdf

There could be no better demonstration than this work that a critical mass has been achieved in the software toolkit and professional competency around Digital Library development. Das has compiled a survey of digital library initiatives in the South East Asian region. The work draws its focus and inspiration from the Open Access Movement. It traverses from open courseware initiatives to open access journals, metadata services, and digital library repositories.

The narrative of digital resource development has passed from isolated heroic achievements to a widespread adoption. An added impetus has been gained by the open access movement, combined with the release of open source tookits for the effective deployment of open access resources. The Whole Earth Catalog inspired a generation to the “power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested.“ This work provides a regional snapshot of the ways in which the open access movement is similarly inspiring the creative deployment of digital library initiates.

The screen shots of resources and applications presented in this work are often of a poor resolution, and are irregularly referenced in the discussion. A more systematic presentation of each different system would have added to the utility of this resource.
Nevertheless, this work provides a valuable snapshot of current Digital Library initiates in the South Asian region. It would be very interesting to repeat a comparative survey in 10 years time to review:

  • Which services have survived the test of time. The sustainability of digital resource initiatives is a very interesting issue.
  • How services have changed, expanded and grown, and the degree of distributed resource sharing that has evolved.

IFLA Asia and Oceania Section Newsletter, June 2008, 20(1), p.28.

IFLA Asia and Oceania Section Newsletter, June 2008, 20(1), p.28. www.ifla.org/VII/s26/pubs/RSAO-Newsletter20-1.pdf

The South Asia sub-region is now in the forefront of the Open Access movement within developing countries in the world, with India being the most prominent partner in terms of its successful Open Access and Digital Library initiatives. Institutional and policy frameworks in India also facilitate innovative solutions for increasing international visibility and accessibility of scholarly literature and documentary heritage in this country.

This publication has its genesis in the recommendations and proceedings of UNESCO-supported international conferences and workshops including the 4th International Conference of Asian Digital Libraries (ICADL2001, Bangalore); the International Conferences on Digital Libraries (ICDL2004 & ICDL2006, New Delhi); and the International Workshop on Greenstone Digital Library Software (2006, Kozhikode), where many information professionals of this sub-region demonstrated their Digital Library and Open Access initiatives. This book describes successful digital library and open access initiatives in the South Asia sub-region that are available in the forms of open courseware, open access journals, metadata harvesting services, national-level open access repositories and institutional repositories. This book may be considered an authoritative Source-book on Open Access development in this sub-region.

Other Reviews

Open Access to Knowledge and Information: Scholarly Literature and Digital Library Initiatives -The South Asian Scenario

Reviews of book published in different journals and periodicals: Open Access to Knowledge and Information: Scholarly Literature and Digital Library Initiatives -The South Asian Scenario; by Anup Kumar Das; edited by Bimal Kanti Sen and Jocelyne Josiah. New Delhi: UNESCO, 2008, 137p.