The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

May 26, 2004

More fruits

Today the War History Project was officially launched. This project is the digitisation of all fifty volumes of the Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–1945. I understand that there may be some issues with the project pages on Macs (CSS trouble), which I would be grateful to hear about, and there may still be some anomalies in the texts themselves. The fact that there are currently only forty-five volumes online is not, however, a mistake — five volumes have copyright issues until next year.

The project pages mark the first time I’ve used CSS absolute positioning, and in a way which (I believe, but see above) doesn’t break anything. I had been sceptical that this was possible, but the marching soldiers effect that occurs when decreasing and increasing the width of a browser window has convinced me.

Posted by jamie at 21:46+12:00 | Comments (2) | Permalink

May 05, 2004

Library minus books

Some of the top people at Victoria University of Wellington have hit upon a cunning plan. They want to get rid of 150 thousand books (about a fifth of the whole collection) in a way which requires academic staff to go through all of them at least once, and many of them a second time. By that I mean wandering the shelves finding books marked with stickers and writing a mark on the sticker.

What will happen to the books that go? Well, no one seemed to really know until it was clarified today that the books will be in off-site storage of some kind, rather than pulped, which seemed the other option considered.

The reason for getting rid of books is to make space in the library building, probably to allow the information technology people to move there and out of another building, thus saving money on rents in that other building. In other words, it is your typical cost-cutting exercise. To which I say that if your approach to a library is to cut costs by removing books, why not shut the library down, sell the books and the building that housed them, declare an end-of-day profit and never have costs again?

I would love to know how this sort of behaviour can possibly be justified by anyone other than those who see a university as a business (and I am sure there are a few smart business people who don’t run roughshod over the essence of their business in the name of money), and the question immediately arises of why such people have any power to make decisions at a university. Even the typically wishy-washy mission and values statement for the university seems to take the right side on this one:

We will actively seek ways of organising and managing ourselves that best support our teaching and research.

It is of course easier to do research when you don’t have much material to search through — why haven’t other universities figured that out yet?

Apparently the mayor of Wellington, the same evil witch who loves tarmac more than people, is one of the people who gets to appoint the Vice Chancellor, on whose shoulders responsibility for the administration of the university rests. That’s an ill omen. Books not roads!

Posted by jamie at 17:29+12:00 | Comments (10) | Permalink