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Consortium of 12 Universities Begins Project to Deliver AcademicE-Books

>From the Chronicle of Higher Education, a report on the CIC e-books
project. The Moderators

---------- Forwarded message ----------
  Wednesday, January 23, 2002

  Consortium of 12 Universities Begins Project to Deliver
  Academic E-Books


  Academic libraries and university presses at Big Ten
  universities and the University of Chicago have teamed up in
  an e-publishing venture that aims to put hundreds of scholarly
  books in electronic form.

  Last month, leaders of the 12 universities, which have worked
  together for decades as part of a consortium called the
  Committee on Institutional Cooperation, committed from $50,000
  to $100,000 to develop a prototype for the joint e-publishing
  venture, said Tom Peters, director of the center for library
  initiatives for the consortium.

  The hope is that university presses in the consortium might
  one day offer all of their books in electronic form in a
  version that could be linked to a joint online library catalog
  that the group already operates. It could quickly become be a
  sizable collection: The university presses publish about 1,000
  new books each year.

  The electronic books would be offered at no charge to
  libraries within the consortium, said Mr. Peters. The
  consortium is also considering making the service available to
  other academic libraries for a fee that would help pay to run
  the operation, he added.

  Details of the project -- including its name -- have yet to be
  worked out. Each university has assigned a campus librarian
  and a staff member from its university press to draft a plan
  for the project by June.

  "Libraries and presses have usually been treated as entirely
  separate entities," said Douglas Armato, director of the
  University of Minnesota Press, which is part of the
  consortium. "But it only makes sense that we could find ways
  to address each others' issues."

  The project is driven in part by "a lot of dissatisfaction"
  among university libraries and publishers with commercial
  e-publishing efforts such as netLibrary's, said Mr. Armato.
  That company, which sells collections of electronic books to
  libraries, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in
  November and has since been purchased by OCLC Online Computer
  Library Center Inc., a nonprofit library organization.

  Another commercial service, ebrary, just unveiled the latest
  version of its e-book service last week.

  But members of the CIC consortium said that their project
  would not necessarily make such third-party services obsolete.

  "We're not sure whether we're going to be in direct
  competition with ebrary and Questia," said Mr. Peters,
  referring to another commercial e-book collection. "It's too
  soon to tell."

  Some of the university presses in the consortium have long
  worked to make their content available in electronic form,
  though they have not worked with other universities to do so
  in a consistent format, said Paula Kaufman, leader of the
  consortium's library director's group and the university
  librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


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