----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Richter" <[log in to unmask]>
> Karl Miller wrote:
> > So what is the library's primary function? They don't have the expertise
> > or the salary base to provide first class digitisation. They can't mount
> > their holdings for downloads unless they have copyright or if it is
> > domain. If a library is about books, then you
> > probably need a building. If it is about information, you probably don't
> > need such a big building.
> This seems straightforward, even simplistic, but I suggest that it is not.
> What is the information contained in a book? As I tried to point out
> with my quote from GBS, a book is more than the text it contains. It is
> typography, illustrations, binding and more. The Book of Kells is a
> volume of information but it is more a work of art independent of its
> Sound preservation provides a more extreme case; much of the discussion
> on this list is of the form: what information is to be preserved about
> this instance/recording? That, too, is on two levels: the information
> inherent in the recorded sound and that about the recording. It is not
> immediately obvious that the volume (say on CD) required to store the
> information on an LP is less than the volume of the LP itself. A similar
> case in books would be one of those microscopically engraved volumes
> whose content and full description might well be larger than the pinhead
> on which it is written.
> The library as a lending institution is about information, not about
> books. The historic medium of lending was the book, but that has been
> changing over recent decades. Here is the first place where copyright
> becomes a key issue in both books and recordings. The library is also a
> repository; in that sense it is only about books, sound recordings and
> other physical media. The library is also a research institution and as
> such is almost exclusively about information. Even for a work of art,
> such as a book, the researcher is seeking its properties, not its
> esthetics per se. In audio, the corresponding properties may be
> recording and publication data.
> None of the above will be news to the subscribers here, but it may
> clarify what seem to be differences of opinion. In my judgement, they
> are at most differences of emphasis which can confuse because simple
> terms such as "library" are used in different senses.
Well, here you begin to separate two important concepts...
the information ON/IN an item (book, phonorecord, film, usw.)
and the information ABOUT the item!
Since I am both a record collector who enjoys listening to my
archive (or will once again after I find an N8-3D needle), and
a discographer, I am interested in both. However, in the case of
phonorecords, there are actually two different fields of study
for these! A musicologist can (or could, one assumes) explain
chapter & verse about why the music heard sounds like it does,
and what this tells us about the history of music and of the
artists we hear. A discographer, OTOH, can explain the history
of the company/ies involved in the manufacture of the record
(as well as identify, in many cases, the performers heard).
This means that in an ideal world, the library (or similar
institution) would retain the actual phonorecord itself,
both for playing and for discographic research...while also
making available (to its clients, to the general public, or
both) the contents of the phonorecord, presumably in digital
form...as well as a well-maintained database which includes
as complete a data record as possible concerning the phonorecord!
This would apply as well (I assume) to other items containing
data...books, newspapers, movies and all the others I can't