FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

July 15, 2008 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on July 15, 2008.

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to:

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. And you can pay via PayPal, on the FYI France homepage:

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Darnton on digital libraries


Robert Darnton's recent Google-article in The New York Review of Books may be read profitably, and with interest, by any librarian -- anywhere, and "digital" or other -- also by any lover of books or collector of same, and by any publisher, any writer, any reader... any Web developer or designer...

Also anyone French, wondering "how the Americans think", ought to read Darnton's piece -- likewise anyone in the US, wondering how the French or for that matter any of "the foreigners" are handling the latest iterations of digital information.

The article is available conveniently now online, as follows:

It is a fascinating piece, beautifully-balanced, intriguing, engagé as the French say. Robert Darnton's Eight Points may well supply the framework for both "digital library" and "library" development discussions, going forward -- in any event they are very deserving of meticulous study and debate by all involved.


And see also, for The Fray, a letter published in the current NYRB issue about one of the many interesting issues raised in the article, and Darnton's response --


Darnton is not only a well-known US historian of France, a specialist in books and print and texts and cats and many other arcane subjects, he also now is Director of Harvard's library --

-- and so he is in a good position to speak, if not for the entire US academic and library establishment, at least about some of its worries and insecurities in the face of digital information's onslaught. Particularly regarding Google, the Promise and the Problem...

As to that last, Darnton in this NYRB piece is neither "pro" nor "con". Instead and wisely he offers an acute sensitivity to the user's perspective(s): qua researcher and writer and teacher and librarian himself he wonders, for instance, inter much alia,


For anyone unfamiliar with Darnton's own oeuvre, a few examples:


Jack Kessler,

p.s. Two irresistible endnotes:

* An immediately-favorite cartoon appeared a few days ago in my San Francisco Chronicle: Hamlet is standing on a stage, having his chat with Horatio about the skull of poor Yorick -- the words pouring forth are a string of "1"s and "0"'s... the caption, "Digital Shakespeare".

* And... digital libraries fit imperfectly into non-US notions of administrative law, apparently --

-- "immatériel"... once again the French have the correct term for a thing -- for digital libraries and digital information generally, at times -- neither pro nor con -- diaphanous...






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M. Eiffel

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