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I thought that perhaps some readers of liblicense-l would be interested in
this "new product" report that was presented to a group of consortial
(ICOLC - International Coalition of Library Consortia) leaders in Denver a
week or so ago. The product seems to concentrate on developing monographs
online and attempts to be library friendly in so doing.

Would be interested in comments, reactions.

Ann Okerson

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 4 Oct 1998 11:08:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ann Okerson <ann.okerson@yale.edu>
To: consort@ohiolink.edu,
    Northeast Research Libraries Consortium <nerl-l@lists.yale.edu>
Subject: ICOLC#4/netLibrary.com

This was a fascinating presentation, featuring a service unlike that
offered by any other ICOLC vendor presentations.  Alan Charnes of the
Colorado Alliance (CARL) was instrumental in bringing the presentation to
the meeting, because CARL has been working with netLibrary.com as a
partner and advisor in developing the service.  In short, netLibrary.com
aims to build a wide-ranging electronic library containing numerous and
diverse books (initially scholarly?) and reference works.  The extensive
technical development work is aimed at replicating the features of today's
library online, while offering materials more cost-effectively.  The
netLibrary folks have clearly listened to their library advisors and seem
to understand a great many contemporary problems and issues that libraries
are grappling with (costs, space, etc.).  netLibrary will be commercially
available in 2/99.

In the end, there was a sense from the audience that 

- This has been an energizing presentation and netLibrary is a most
  interesting endeavor with a lot of potential.
- Content is a more complicated matter than perhaps the developers
- The pricing looks good but there is some concern that, as currently
  defined, it will not sustain the service over time.
- netLibrary might need to divorce self from old print/library metaphors
  (though this is also an intriguing part of the system and perhaps its
- netLibrary can work with single libraries, consortia, or even
  multi-consortia in flexible and potentially exciting ways.

For more information:

Brian J. Stern
General Manager, Higher Education


netLibrary.com, by Interactive Knowledge, Inc.

The presentation was delivered by Tim Schiewe, the founder and CEO.  Mr.
Schiewe is a former banker (his specialty was assessing, for the Bank of
America, the amount of loan defaults from underdeveloped nations).  In the
course of this work he was responsible for crafting a sophisticated audit
program that threw him into software development and partnerships.  He
began the presentation with a longish story about this past history, along
with his interactions with notables such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
These personal stories were an entertaining way to open the presentation.
Several slides were devoted to the evolution of the current netLibrary
concept, which was developed in 1/97 and added CARL as a partner in 9/97.

Key goals of netLibrary:

- Replicate the current library system in an online format.
- Publish on the net and protect the publisher as well or better than in
  the traditional environment.

This is done initially by:

- Taking a hardbound book
- Keying it in (double-keying) if no machine-readable copy is given by
- Putting it then into a standard format
- Plugging in a search engine
- Running it through proprietary software to protect it

It then becomes possible to:

- Search everything at once
- Take advantage of the "multimedia layer" around the e-book
- Using a "file drawer" metaphor, the reader can put things in drawers
  (media, audio, images, etc.)
- The reader can retrieve any of these, i.e., "bring books to life" with

The software has been developed to mimic today's working library, for

- If the reader tries to check out a book, it's shown as checked out 
- Software produces a report for librarian (what is being accessed, read,
  which parts of it) which the librarian can use buy extra copies of
  popular books -- or tailor acquisitions or services as needed.
- If the library desires a limited circ period (i.e., 1 hour), the book
  checks itself self back in after the requisite period and the reader's
  copy is disabled.
- The reader can annotate book online.  Can save notes, send them, put
  them back onto book if s/he checks out the book again.
- In short, if the library has "one copy" of a book, the transactions
  around that book are treated as a single copy.  Only one copy can be in
  use at a given time and other readers have the option of queuing for it.
  This protects the publishers' income and intellectual property
  (unauthorized copying is also impossible, apparently).
- There are a number of reader enhancements, for books transferred to the
  reader's computer.

This total package comprises netLibrary.com It is about building books,
gathering data about use, enriching reader's functionality.

We will be able to look at this library online this coming Friday (10/9).
10,000 books (???) from Project Gutenberg will be available for
experimentation, along with about 100 (?) university press books.  A
pricing schedule that offers discounts off the list price of the print
equivalent of the books (assumption is that e- is charged at the same
price as p-) was presented.  Discounts are available for higher levels of
purchase, i.e., purchasing 500 books (the minimum necessary for the system
to ensure effective searching and cross-referencing) secures a 5%
discount, where as purchasing 2500 and up secures a 30% discount.  When
one buys the book, one "owns it forever" (this I did not understand, as
the books reside on a central server at netLibrary).

Here the audience chimed in with questions about fair use.  While the
presenters seemed to understand fair use pretty well, one of the things
that troubled me is that publishers set the definition of fair use for
their books.  Currently some publishers permit one page as fair use, but
the system can permit whatever is chosen.  This troubled me not a little,
as I do not believe that producers set the definition of fair use, nor
that there is a single "bright line" definition of it.  For a useful
explication of this, see an article by Pamela Samuelson in the April 1998
issue of Communications of the ACM, called "Encoding the Law Into Digital
Libraries."  Pam's point is that this is a complex matter and that by
encoding user restrictions now we are jeopardizing law and public policy.

Security matters:  netLibrary is built with a high degree of privacy and
security, esp. because the principals come out of the banking industry
where security is key.  For example, if a password is being used by two
people at once, both are kicked off for an hour (presumably until the
matter is resolved?).  netLibrary can administer IP domains and passwords
if the customer desires.  

A consortium to netLibrary means one contract, one billing point.  Several
consortia or alliances can get together and act as one customer.


1.  Security  -- An IP address is not secure.  Can netLibrary provide
other modes such as public key, etc?  How is access given?

-IP address is primarily used for "branding" (i.e., netLibrary can make
the collection look like the customers, with its web design, links,
logos).  netLibrary will sit with each customer to determine systems needs
vis a vis security.  For example, CARL has 400,000 patrons.  CARL
authenticates these patrons (not netLibrary).  CARL maintains a unified
patron file thru work with individual libraries.  netLibrary will work in
a variety of different models.

2.  Selection model - can libraries join together?

- Yes.  Libraries can join together not only as consortia but as various
groups of self-selected libraries.

3.  What rights do you have to what sorts of materials at this time?

- netLibrary began its negotiations with university presses. Current
permissions include some MIT books and others.  Talks are ongoing with
Princeton, Chicago, etc. 
The key question is:  what are the right books to put up first?
netLibrary is interested in the views of its customers and offers the
opportunity to serve on a library advisory board.

4.  It is common knowledge that people will not read books on a CRT.  How
many books have *you* read online?  Technology not the key worry; using it
effectively, however, is.

- It is true that people do not now wish to read whole books online.
Therefore, reference books are going up first.  Will make deals with
providers such as RocketBooks, PalmPilot (via partnership) so users will
be able to unload electronic books to your own computer and read more
easily. (Remaining question:  what are reference books, by this

5.  Buying a book may be an antiquated concept in the e-environment.  
What netLibrary seems to offer is one or more Simultaneous Users for each
book -- thus, the "buying" metaphor is antiquated.  This presentation
describes many new possibilities but it is weighed down with old

- The old metaphors offer a lot of functionality and are easy to
understand; there is a lot of value in traditional libraries.  But the
service will evolve over time.

6.  The pricing seems low for perpetual access to these books.  The
audience accordingly asked questions about sustainability/affordability.

- netLibrary is talking with many prospective commercial partners, for
example Oracle, Proctor & Gamble, etc., about building "wings" of this new
"library", i.e., Oracle might conceivably sponsor a "technical wing."
Thus all the books in it would be subsidized for users and the corporate
sponsorship would sustain the services to some extent.  netLibrary intends
to be in business for a long time.

7.  Reference works go out of date.  Our consortium would rather buy
access to the newest reference works all the time.  Can this service be
integrated with our library catalog?

- The content needs to be defined by the library community.
- All books come with MARC records; netLibrary will make sure it
  integrates into your system.  

8.  Is this one-time purchase price (discounted) really the whole, entire

-When you (the library or consortium) buy the book you own it.  No other
fees are attached.  Some reports are free (the popular book report); other
more sophisticated ones will be charged for.

9.  What will the lag time be between expressing demand and seeing a book
in the service?

- Probably very little.

10. Will the software and content be available only on netLibrary servers
or an they replicated on customer's site?  Libraries can deliver content
more quickly -- perhaps.

- Currently, the only architecture developed is for the netLibrary sites.
It involves an high-security authentication process.  Willing to discuss
mounting on customer servers, though.  Let's talk.

11.  If the library "owns" the book, may it re-sell or give it to someone

- Yes.  It can also lend via ILL.

12.  Can netLibrary hyperlink between books of various publishers?


13.  Any other costs beyond buying these electronic-version books?

- As above, there is a cost for the books and some reports (advanced
reports).  The current pricing list includes the use of the software by
libraries and readers.

13.  We are most interested in hard to get titles (OP, foreign, etc.).  Do
you have plans to expand beyond standard scholarly mainstream works?

- We are working with some special collections and are interested in
working with more.  So, there is some move in that direction.  Foreign
language materials are a way off in the distance.