Saturday, April 21, 2007

Calling All Techies

The Národní knihovna v Praze kindly offers wifi access in several reading rooms, which is very popular with the increasing numbers of laptop-toting students and others who use the library.
The Národní knihovna has also begun to digitize some of its periodicals and puts them on its Kramerius system. As the welcome screen (in English!) notes, due to copyright restrictions most of the digitized periodicals can only be accessed at the library. I don't know Czech copyright law, but evidently it's more inclusive than American, which is more than inclusive enough these days. Practically nothing on the site can be viewed outside the library. I think I may have been able to pull up something from around 1850, not a time period I really need at the moment.
I then tried accessing Kramerius using my laptop at the library, figuring I was on their wifi so it ought to work. No luck, no images. (I did download the required LizardTech DjVu plugin.) I can access the digitized images using the library's computers, but the screen resolution is such and the browser window is configured so that there is no comfortable way to get a good view of the page, let alone rapidly go through an issue. What's more, while in theory I could copy a page, the machines I've tried only have floppy drives, not USB, so I guess I'd have to buy floppies.
With all that, and since the periodicals I actually want are mostly not on Kramerius, I kind of gave up.
This morning, however, I happened to read a Dick Eastman article about the new wifi access at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Not only was I glad to learn that next time I'm in Salt Lake I'll have wifi at the FHL (a very fine place to work, though not on my dissertation), but the more technical part of the article explained that researchers at the FHL have access to the database via the library's subscription rather than via their own. This is because everyone is connected via the same IP address, the library's.
THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT! After all, if I visit my blog from the library here, Sitemeter tells me that someone from the Národní knihovna visited the blog.
Why, then, can't I use my laptop to access the Kramerius images from within the library? Anyone have any bright ideas? Does the system not like the main reading room's wifi? would it help if I used a different room, such as the Reference Center?
Suggestions are much desired, as I don't have much more time to get any use out of Kramerius before leaving Prague.

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Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

I am not sure why you can't view pictures wifi. Something must be different. Are you sure that everyone is connected via the same IP address? Did you check the IP of the library computer? Or maybe it is a filter of some kind. (It could just be malinky sea monkeys. They are very troublesome this time of year.)

If the library computer is a PC, you could do a screen capture (hit print screen) paste into Paint and save to the C drive. Then mail them to yourself. (If the image is too large, copy in sections and reassemble later.) Admittedly, this is not a very elegant solution.

April 21, 2007 11:56 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

I'm at the library now. It looks like the way to go is to save as PDF (20 pages or less at a time) and then dump those onto floppies. I'm not sure whether I can use email on their PCs. Often libraries block things like that on computers reserved for research and card catalogues.

April 21, 2007 1:35 PM  
Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

That will work even better. It is sometimes problematic to keep some files (like pdfs) under 1.44mb, though.

This is very April Dancer, Girl From U.N.C.L.E., you know. Sneaking important files off of a Czechoslovakian government computer using nothing but a floppy disc and your wits! The only thing you need now is theme music. (4:23)

April 22, 2007 2:42 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

Since it's there for patron use and the copy functions aren't disabled, I would assume they expect us to make copies of the relevant pages to study at our leisure. I'm concerned about the 1.44mb aspect though. If the files are big, I'll fill up the box of floppies right away, and (I had forgotten why this was an issue) my present laptop has no floppy drive.

April 22, 2007 8:46 AM  
Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Perhaps the only solution is to put on a latex one-piece jump suit and use your special ninja powers to break in during middle of the night, feed steaks to the attack dogs, drug the guards, use collapsible roll-up mylar mirrors to fool all of the security cameras, somersault through the laser-beam alarm system, and then copy the files into a special Angelina Jolie/Hello Kitty jumpdrive and escape through he air vent before the authorities are alerted.

Or you can just take the floppies and put them on a computer that you CAN send email from, and then send them to yourself.

It's always more fun to use your special ninja powers, though. ;o)

April 23, 2007 1:00 AM  
Blogger Princess Haiku said...

Copywrite laws are also stringent in the U.S. and the concept of what constitutes "Fair Use" is currently under legal debate.

April 23, 2007 9:01 AM  
Blogger Princess Haiku said...

I agree on the Theme music thing but would like to suggest the theme song from The Pink Panther.. Dum -ta dum, Ta dum, ta dum ta dum... gosh humming on a blog is harder than one would think.

April 23, 2007 9:05 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

In the US everything before about 1923 or so is in the public domain. After all, anyone still alive who wrote anything before then is surely not missing out on many royalties, as presumably this time period accounts for their juvenilia. Copyright is for the protection of creators, thus it's absurd to keep anything in copyright for more than 80 years. (I won't get into corporations that have acquired people's copyrights and make a fortune on them, a practice I detest.)

Fair use is a bit tricky, but scholarly use is included in fair use (in the US, anyway). Very few of these journals are available outside the Czech Republic, and some of them are hard to find even there. Digital copies prevent the constant wear on the originals that results from all of us checking them out and photocopying or photographing what we want. The purpose of copyright being 1) to protect financial interest and 2) to protect against theft and plagiarism... Well, I don't see any threat of monetary loss or plagiarism here. And if the library was determined to prevent copying, they could certainly do that. I think the technological content of their offerings has merely outstripped the technology available for use.

April 23, 2007 10:11 AM  

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