Free Gutenberg!

Actually, it is a free Gutenberg the Geek


Update:  Gutenberg the Geek is no longer available for free – it is back up to 99 cents.

Gutenberg Press

Gutenberg Press

Stop the presses!  blogger Jeff Jarvis – author of What Would Google Do? – is offering his Kindle Single – Gutenberg the Geek today (4/27/12) for free through Amazon.


It was well worth the 99 cents I spent for it and gives a nice synopsis and comparison between Gutenberg as an entrepreneur and our high-tech entrepreneurs of today.

 Free Gutenberg! :


The Broken Publib Listserve or Control through Incorporation

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


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:   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:

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


Happy Birthday Bill!

William Shakespeare at 448

William Shakespeare is 448!

Thou doth not look a day over 440 ~ Party on and Party Bard! 

Today, April 23, 2012 William Shakespeare would be 448.

Shakespeare Festivals and Theaters around the US:

Shakespeare Fellowship



Coming Soon . . .

Dear Publib friends:

We will resume the publication of Best of Publib reviews of the listserve topics at the end of this semester with a special edition covering January through May 2012.

If you have recommendations for important strings of content that were well vetted on Publib between January and May, please contact me and we will process it at the end of May.

I’ll be back . . .🙂
Robert L. Balliot


Celebrating Charles Dickens: Nicholas Nickleby (1838)

The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again. –  Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens


Nicholas Nickleby Cover

Nicholas Nickleby Cover

A young gentleman must earn a living when his father’s death leaves the family bereft of financial support because of a bad investment.  To support his mother and sister, he accepts a position as a schoolmaster in a country school and is horrified about what he sees.  After an incident at the school, the young man leaves with a new friend.  This is the story of Nicholas Nickleby, who is the title character of Charles John Huffam Dickens’s third novel.

Dickens first wrote Nicholas Nickleby as a serial in 1838. Hablot K. Browne (known as Phiz) contributed illustrations for the story.  The following year it was republished in book format. A second edition was published with revisions in 1848.

As the novel progresses, Nicholas finds another position as a private tutor and then works in a theater company owned by the Crummles, a husband and wife team.  (Nicholas isn’t the only one working–his sister Kate briefly works too)  When an urgent situation arises, Nicholas and Smike immediately leave but not without a dramatic personal farewell from Mr. Crummles.  Nicholas’s new position is as a clerk in the Cheeryble brothers’ shop; the brothers are merchants.  All the while his uncle, Ralph Nickleby, becomes obsessed about ruining his nephew…


Chimney-Scene--- by 'Phiz'

If you have read any of Dickens’s novels, he writes about serious topics. For Nicholas, one especial topic touched on is the notorious boarding schools of the day–something Dickens observed first hand. Poverty and greed are other recurring themes.  There also are plenty of comical scenes throughout the story.  For instance, coming down a chimney is no way to make a neighborly impression!  Romance is also part of the plot line.  Nicholas develops feelings for Madeline Bray and intervenes for her during a crucial moment in the story.

Nicholas Nickleby Illustration

Nicholas Nickleby Illustration - by Hablot K. Browne

This was my fourth Dickens novel.  In junior high school, I read Great ExpectationsOliver Twist, and Tale of Two Cities for fun. I bought Nicholas Nickleby (published by Penguin Classics with a 2003 copyright date) at Borders three years ago, read a few chapters, and set it aside.  This year is Dickens’s bicentennial birthday so it was a good reason for me to resume reading the novel.  Although the novel is long, I enjoyed it.  What’s a Dickens novel without memorable villians, eccentrics, and comics? You’ll meet plenty along the way.  At times there were slow parts, but it didn’t detract from the story. I enjoyed seeing the illustrations as I read.  For the Penguin edition, Mark Ford wrote the introduction, and a Dickens chronology is included. Appendixes and explanatory notes follow the text.

Like Dickens’s other novels, Nicholas Nickleby has been adapted for TV and as a movie.  It was a TV mini series in 1947 and 1982. The latest TV adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby was in 2001.  In college, I watched it on Bravo one night and enjoyed it. (We had good cable service for a small college!) In this adaptation, James D’Arcy stars in the title role, Sophia Myles as his sister Kate, and Charles Dance as Ralph Nickleby.  It was this 2001 adaptation that introduced me to the novel.

In 2002, Charlie Hunnam starred as Nicholas in a movie adaptation of the novel. Of course, a lot of the novel was cut for the movie, so you don’t get the full story.  I have seen this too and prefer the 2001 adaptation.

Nicholas Nickleby is still available in print and online for your reading pleasure.  If you read this novel years ago or haven’t read it yet, do pick it up and enjoy!

Link of interest

Charles Dickens Museum:

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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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