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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Fall 2001

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Conference Reports

Science and Technology Libraries Section
International Federation of Library Associations Annual Conference
August 18-24, 2001

Jean Poland
AUL for Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Cornell University
jp126@cornell.edu

This year, attendance at the annual International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) meeting broke all records. More than 5,000 participants came to Boston from 150 countries for the weeklong conference.

The IFLA Standing Committee of the Science and Technology Libraries (STL) Section traditionally meets twice, on the Saturday preceding the conference and on the last day of the conference, a Friday. During each conference, the STL Section sponsors an open session program and a study tour to an appropriate science/technology library. The work of the committee involves planning programs for future conferences, keeping contact with members of the STL Section, maintaining a discussion listserver for the group, assigning responsibility for a newsletter, and undertaking appropriate projects.

The Standing Committee elected a new Chair, Julia Gelfand from the US, and a new Secretary, Irma Pasanen from Finland. The open sessions and study tours for the next two IFLA meetings were discussed, the strategic plan was updated, a needs assessment project was initiated for sci-tech libraries in less-developed and developing countries. Complete minutes of the Standing Committee meeting are available at {http://ifla.inist.fr/VII/s7/meetings/min01.pdf}

The Open Session of the STL Section, held on August 21, featured three speakers who talked on the topic "Speaking Differently: Transitions in Scientific Communication," a theme that led to articulating new perspectives on scientific scholarly communication. Speakers included Felice Frankel, Artist in Residence in Science and Technology at the Edgerton Center and Research Scientist in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT; Michael Jensen, Director of Publishing Technologies at the National Academy Press; and Randall Davis, MIT professor of electrical engineering who chaired the Committee on Intellectual Property Rights and the Emerging Information Infrastructure for the National Research Council.

As she talked about "Making Good Science Look Good," Felice Frankel showed slides of the development of many of her famous photographs. Through her work producing images for the leading science journals (see {web.mit.edu/edgerton/felice/felice.html}) she is encouraging researchers to look at things differently. She expressed concern about how digital enhancements can affect an image and talked about when it might be appropriate to add enhancements and how to document them for the reader. For more information on communicating technical information through image/text links she referred the audience to {http://web.mit.edu/i-m/intro.htm}.

The National Academy Press publishes reports for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, as well as the National Research Council. In his presentation, "Entrepreneurs of Social Value: Public Discourse in the Sciences," Michael Jensen talked about the structure, staffing, and publishing philosophy of the National Academy Press (NAP), focusing particularly on the balance the press is trying to achieve between free and cost-recovery information dissemination. He used the phrase "nonprofit entrepreneurs" to describe NAP's approach. While NAP sells paper copies of its publications, online versions are freely available. This availability has in fact increased sales. Mr. Jensen's slides are available at http://nap.edu/staff/mjensen/ifla2001

Among the reports in the National Academy Press catalog of publications is The Digital Dilemma, the report of the National Research Council committee chaired by Randall Davis, who talked about "The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age." He alluded to the challenges involved in compiling a report with a committee representing varied aspects of digital copyright issues. (Karen Hunter from Elsevier Science, Cliff Lynch of the Coalition for Networked Information, Gary Strong from the Queens Borough Public Library, and Jonathan Tasini of the National Writers Union were among the eighteen committee members.) The resulting report is a valuable and articulate summary of the effect of the digital revolution on intellectual property issues. The report is available on the Web through the National Academy Press at http://www.nap.edu/books/0309064996/html/.

Steve Gass, Head of the MIT Engineering and Science Libraries, hosted a study tour for STL Section members. He reviewed the structure of the Libraries for the group, talked about Dspace, the "digital repository designed to capture and distribute the intellectual output of MIT." Among the current requirements for inclusion in DSpace: material must be in digital form, not ephemeral, complete and ready to be made public. Dspace will be beta tested this fall and open to the whole MIT community in the spring.

Joe Jackson from the MIT Media Lab to talked to the group about his work with electronic ink (e-ink), which maintains the display capability of paper and uses very low power. E-ink is composed of tiny microcapsules containing positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles suspended in a clear fluid within a plastic film. By applying appropriate electrical charges, background can appear white and lettering black. For more information on the product see http://www.eink.com/.

The Autumn 2001 issue of the IFLA Section of Science and Technology Libraries Newsletter is available on the web at {http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s7/news/autumn01.pdf} and is a good source for more information about the organization.

Upcoming IFLA meetings will be held in Glasgow (2002), Berlin (2003), and Buenos Aires (2004).

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