April 22, 2009 By Wayne Hanson
Digital technology impacts libraries and archiving.
The French Parliament last week unexpectedly defeated an Internet piracy bill which would require ISPs to act against customers who illegally download copyrighted material. According to media reports, most expected the bill to pass and so, in a lightly attended session, the Socialist party led opponents to defeat the bill. The French "Creation and Internet Law" will be back in Parliament on April 28, and will be closely watched, as it is touted as a precedent to stop pirating of music, films, videos and other copyrighted materials. French writers, musicians and artists have supported the bill, but the EU has objected to the bills' denying Internet access to illegal downloaders after three violations.
The World Digital Library opened Tuesday at UNESCO headquarters in Paris and on the Web, offering free online access to some 1,200 cultural treasures from many countries. The collection includes manuscripts, recordings, books, films, prints, photos and more in seven different languages. The WDL prototype was developed by the Library of Congress; UNESCO; the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of Alexandria, Egypt; the National Library of Brazil; the National Library of Egypt; the National Library of Russia; and the Russian State Library.
Last week, Judith Fingeret Krug, 69, died after a lengthy illness. Krug, director of the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom and executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, fought censorship and was involved in First Amendment cases all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. She founded ALA's Banned Books Week, an annual week-long event that celebrates the freedom to choose and the freedom to express one's opinion.
"Many libraries are facing difficult budget situations due to the bad economy," said Washington State Librarian Jan Walsh. "What makes this so painfully ironic is that more people are using libraries nowadays than before, yet several libraries are in danger of seeing cuts in hours, services or staff." A survey of 34 of the state's libraries revealed that two-thirds of respondents have experienced budget cutbacks, and one faces closure.
In another story from Washington state, the Washington State Digital Archives has added records of about 48,000 World War I veterans from Washington. Copies of World War I Service Statement Cards from 1917 to 1919, recently indexed by Washington Historical Records Project volunteers, are now available and searchable online at the Digital Archives. Information includes full name, serial number, race, place inducted, place of birth, unit assignments, ranks attained, engagements fought in, wounds received, dates served overseas, date of demobilization, and degree of disability (if any).
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.