The Broken Publib Listserve or Control through Incorporation

I have come here not to bury Publib, but to praise it.

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Ghost of Publib

Ghost of Publib

Last year, OCLC announced that they would graciously host the popular Publib listserve.  With 10 thousand + subscribers representing libraries throughout the world, it certainly represented a win/win situation.  OCLC – which sells its products to libraries would host and subscribers – who buy products from OCLC could continue to subscribe.  OCLC would benefit from the feel-good PR and the ability to data-mine and Publib subscribers could continue to enjoy the communication resource they have contributed to since the early 1990s.

While being hosted by UC Berkeley and Webjunction, Google and Yahoo! and all of the other major search engines readily indexed the discussions by Publib contributors. Even now, a quick engine search of almost any topic regarding public libraries renders a link to a Publib posting from previous years.  

But, all of those links are now broken and the provenance of indexing has been destroyed.  Although you may still view cached files, the only way to get live files is to go behind the wall set up by OCLC.  Access to the root directory is by subscription only, so the search engines would no longer index the content:  http://listserv.oclc.org/   So, everyone who searches any topic ever posted on Publib must now go through OCLC and search the files that they exclusively control. 

What a great benefit this must represent to corporate interests of OCLC! Thousands and thousands of postings on every topic regarding public libraries, created by uncompensated authors, and they now control all of the content and its indexing for almost no associated cost and can monitor and data-mine all usage by the library community.     OCLC established and litigated ownership and control of Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) in OCLC v The Library Hotel  and was recently accused of antitrust by SkyRiver and Innovative Interfaces.  Does OCLC now effectively have intellectual property rights to all of the work by Publib contributors?

Hosting a listserv is really not a big deal.  It is fairly low level technology and relatively easy to manage.  With a bit of server space, Open Source programs such as Mailman can be set up that can manage a huge number of subscribers:

http://wiki.list.org/display/COM/Organizations+that+use+Mailman

Hosting by a non-corporate entity such as a library school or a large library system would have made much more sense.  The original iteration with UC Berkeley hosting nested the conversation in a bastion of free speech.  Is removing and blocking indexing censorship? Is vetting all new subscribers appropriate?  Does the ability to restrict access represent ownership? Does hosting a listserve  and controlling access to everything previously written grant intellectual property rights and equate to ownership? Is Publib just another example of intellectual outsourcing?

Time will tell. But, at this time Publib is a ghost of what it once represented. 

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The Publib Archives

The Publib archives from the Webjunction listserve are available here: Archives  (Waitthey really aren’t anymore).

Archives compiled after Dec. 7, 2011 are available here: Archives

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Subscribe to the Publib Listserve- Part Deux

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How to Subscribe to the Publib Listserve – Part Deux

The recent migration of Publib to OCLC resulted in a non-intuitive subscription process. As of the time of this posting, the module is still incorrectly configured and Publib archives are in a private area. The following process provided by OCLC will allow new subscribers to register without using the steps for the GUI described in Subscribe to Publib Listserve – Part One

However,  you may still want to access those instructions to see how to access archives and structure your subscriptions.

  • From the email address you wish to use for your interaction with the list, send an email to:  listserv@webjunction.org and put subscribe publib in the body.  You can put this in the subject line as well, but it is not required. (Note from editor: leave subject line blank OR put subscribe publib in it)

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The Publib Archives

The Publib archives from the Webjunction listserve are available here: Archives

Archives compiled after Dec. 7, 2011 are available here: Archives

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Subscribe to Publib Listserve

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How to Subscribe to the Publib Listserve

The recent migration of Publib to OCLC resulted in a non-intuitive subscription process.  As of the time of this posting, the module is incorrectly configured and Publib archives are in a private area.  The following steps are a work-around that will allow new subscribers to register.  These steps should also make it apparent how to access the archives.

Update – Jan 15, 2012:   The following process provided by OCLC will allow new subscribers to register without using the steps below for the GUI: 

  • From the email address you wish to use for your interaction with the list, send an email to:  listserv@webjunction.org and put subscribe publib in the body.  You can put this in the subject line as well, but it is not required. (Note from editor: leave subject line blank OR put subscribe publib in it)

 

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Please join us on BestofPublib Facebook

The Publib Archives

The Publib archives from the Webjunction listserve are available here: Archives

Archives compiled after Dec. 7, 2011 are available here: Archives

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Problems with PubLib

The listserves PubLib and Web4Lib have been broken for over a week now.  Digests stopped going out after April 25th and receipt of individual postings is sporadic at best.  Best of PubLib will review the archives, which still remain active and inclusive for the month of April and present the synopsis on Monday, May 3rd 2010.

Because the two mailing lists are distinct with parallel problems, my conclusion is the  maintenance problem exists within the applications at WebJunction. The ListServe moderators have not addressed the problems on the mailing list to date.

The Publib Archives

The Publib archives from the Webjunction  listserve are available here:  Archives   Please note:  HTML is stripped out of achives. Compose in plaintext or richtext.

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This week in Best of PubLib and Survey 07.02.09

This week in Best of Publib updates:

The PubLib listserve conversation, ironically, delved into the problems subscribers are having posting to the listserve. Numerous subscribers complained of sporadic service and postings that essentially have ended up in the void.  We do not have a record of the postings that never happened, but we are sure that many great topics were potentially discussed. We will review the content regarding the topic of  problems with the listserv and add it to technology/software.

We would like to know more about any problems you are having with PubLib or if you are not having any problems – please fill out this little survey:

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