Who doesn’t like a good deal? Some deals are better than others, some are too good to be true, but who doesn’t like to get something that is good quality for very little or no cost? With the launch of the World Bank’s Open Knowledge Repository, such a deal is now on offer.
In April 2012, the World Bank announced the adoption of a new open access policy and the launch of their Open Knowledge Repository (OKR), the first phase of this policy. The Repository gives access to more than 2100 books and papers produced since 2009 and issues from 2007-2010 volumes of the World Bank’s two journals — World Bank Research Observer (WBRO) and World Bank Economic Review (WBER). Starting in 2013, the repository will include links to datasets used for publications and over time, there are plans to add translations of those publications originally published in English. Along with the launch of the Open Knowledge Repository, the World Bank has launched a revised Policy on Access to Information. This policy governs information relating to World Bank projects, meetings, and advisory activities.
Rendering such a large variety of World Bank products open access is a boon for researchers, because of both the sheer volume of information now available for free and also the large range of topics covered, from agriculture and energy, to development and health. Additionally, included among the monographs now available for free are the World Development Report and other flagship publications for which access was previously more limited.
The Open Knowledge Repository interface is user-friendly and the layout uncluttered. Visitors can query the collection using a single Google-esque search box and filters to modify or restrict queries. Records for publications include complete metadata (handy for cataloguers though perhaps of less interest for other users), abstracts, and links to publications in the same series, by the same author(s), or on similar subjects.
Libraries of all kinds are always on the lookout for new resources to help support the needs of their patrons and the discovery of free resources offers added benefits. While some users will still prefer to consult the print versions of these publications, the availability of these monographs online for free means that the portion of our budget previously allocated to their purchase could now be liberated and reassigned.
While this resource may be of greater use to researchers at academic or special libraries, this new open access policy may have more wider-reaching effects that could benefit. Publications are now to be covered by Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) copyright license, which allows distribution, reuse, and building upon the World Bank’s published works, even commercially, as long as credit for the original publication is given to the World Bank. One of the most flexible and permissive licenses offered by Creative Commons, this license allows wider dissemination and use of the publications and data produced by the World Bank. Perhaps more organizations, including those who already make many of their publications available online, will follow the World Bank’s lead to make even more information and even better resources available for online and for free.
Source: World Bank, Press Release No. 2012/379/EXTOP, “World Bank Announces Open Access Policy for Research and Knowledge, Launches Open Knowledge Repository.” Permanent link: http://go.worldbank.org/VOS0JQ0VK0.
Back in 2010, I attended a presentation given by Michael Stephens on libraries and social media entitled “The Hyperlinked Library — Trends, Tools and Transparency”. As I had followed his blog Tame the Web for few years and had also read a few of his papers and presentations, this was possibly the first time I was looking forward to an event co-sponsored by our library association. I was impressed by his straight-forward, animated and engaging way of speaking and the fact that the presentation left us feeling excited and encouraged to try and use these tools in our libraries. Although many of the newer staff had personal experience using LinkedIn and Facebook, our library was only just starting to create a Facebook presence and there was only a weak interest among staff and administration to take steps forward with social media, particularly Twitter.
I changed jobs and my new post overwhelmed me. I postponed thinking further about using Twitter or any social media for the library, hoping to get my feet beneath me before taking such steps. So it is with a bit of sheepishness that I admit that I only finally joined Twitter last week. I feel a bit like a Johnny-come-lately, to say the least.
In addition to Michael Stephens’ inspiring presentation, SES and my husband had both made convincing arguments in favour of my joining Twitter. Twitter could give me entrance and access to a wider community of similar interests, both academic and professional, with whom I could share information and experiences and from whom I could gather advice and ideas. I would be able to have interactions and connections with other librarians, invaluable for a solo librarian if only because it would help me step beyond my home library and my personal echo chamber. I could gain better familiarity with a technology whose usage is still increasing and whose applications could be both personally and professional useful.
But still I dragged my feet.
The reopening of the Library in January meant digging my way through my inbox, checking in journal issues that had piled up in the intervening weeks. The colleague who delivers the mail had filled the box as full as possible and left the rest on my desk. Normally, as I prepare the tables of contents for distribution, I browse and find at least one or two articles of personal interest to me. At least three periodicals had December or January issues with “best articles of 2011″ or “most important x of 2011″, and as these articles traditionally provide good synopses of 2011 from different perspectives, I had expected these issues would provide rich and intriguing content.
Instead, I found myself trotting over to Google Reader (which I still use as I am still evaluating some of the options SES suggested in “Google Reader Fail”) and scrolling. It was a mixed bag, but there were some very good and helpful year-in-review style posts that might have been otherwise overlooked in the first month of the year, when suddenly one realizes that there are hundreds of new e-mails and thousands of new posts and one really needs to invest in a better strategy to manage information overload.
Now that February is giving me a chance to breathe, I wanted to share the few end-of-year review posts that I think are not to be missed.
As you may have noticed, on Wednesday, 18 January 2012, Wikipedia didn’t work.Wikipedia and a wide range of other sites including blogs like BoingBoing went black and many other sites including Google and Flavorwire used censored logos and content in protest against legislation proposed in Congress to protect copyright. The two pieces of legislation, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), would ostensibly block sites that illegally provide copyrighted content for free, but would also have a detrimental effect on access to websites and information legally and legitimately available on the Internet.
On Wednesday morning, I received one request from a colleague for clarification on why Wikipedia wasn’t available. For another user, I tried unsuccessfully to track down the posts I’d seen the previous day about how to make one’s blog go dark; the posts themselves were difficult to find because the blogs supporting them were on strike. For my own benefit, I found myself visiting sites I knew were down, simply to see what was up in place of the usual content. A couple library-themed online comics and most of the library-related blogs I follow had messages in protest and links to resources for learning more about the laws and contacting government representatives. I eagerly read the information posted on the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and thoroughly enjoyed the LOLcats protest video with appropriate lyrics set to the tune of Don McLean’s signature song “American Pie.”
One afternoon, a staff member came into the library with an unusual request. For her upcoming holiday, instead of escaping to a beach or the mountains, she had decided to try something a little different. She would be traveling to South Africa and donate her time to a project tagging penguins on a wildlife reserve. She had already borrowed books on penguins and made an appointment to visit a local zoo and speak with those specializing in animal care. Now, all she needed was a camera.
Her previous camera was not up to the trip and she was looking for something a little more advanced, with a different feature set. She did not want to know what camera I would recommend for her, but rather where she should look to find information to help her make her decision. Where could she find reviews of various products, created by experts and everyday people, to enable her to make an informed choice?
After reading SES’s post “Thinking Big Thoughts: Blogs to Follow”, I added GOOD to my feed reader and I am happy I did — while I might not go so far as to read all the posts, there have been a fair number that interested me enough to click-through to the full article. One such post was Cord Jefferson’s “Community Engagement: How the Internet Ruined My Perception of What’s Popular” and the concept of the Internet echo chamber, which led me to a new understanding about the ramifications of my dependence on RSS feeds for news and trends.
As someone who helped coordinate an effort to gather signatures on a petition to keep My So-Called Life on the air, I can appreciate Jefferson’s confusion at finding out that the television show Community was being put on indefinite hiatus. Everyone I knew liked My So-Called Life; students, teachers and parents signed the petition before we sent it off to the show’s producers. While there are any number of reasons or combination of reasons that lead television producers to cancel shows, we could not understand how a show that was so popular could be cancelled.