In The Literature
by Kathel Dunn, MSLS
|This issue of In the Literature first revisits the world of eBooks. The Hane articles look at the rising costs and questionable use of eBooks in libraries, and discusses future directions for eBook library publishing; Claessens takes an in-depth look at various web security issues that uncover some suprising information for surfers. Finally, a summary of the March 9, 2002 issue of BMJ, which is devoted to consumer health informatics, focuses on the Gagliardi study that rated the instruments used to measure the quality of web-based consumer health information.|
Hane, Paula J. ebrary launches ebrarian 2.0, announces new publisher partners. Information today March 2002;19(3):46.
Hane, Paula J. OCLC completes netLibrary acquisition, raises eBook fees. Information today March 2002;19(3):17-18.
- Since the Fall 2001 In the Literature column reviewed the article on eBooks (O'Leary, Mick. New academic information model bypasses libraries. Online July/August 2001; 25(4):72.), a number of changes have taken place and are worth a revisit to the eBook world. Paula J. Hane, the Information today NewsBreaks editor, reports that netLibrary declared bankruptcy in November 2001 and subsequently was purchased by OCLC. netLibrary offers eBooks to libraries. In re-examining its business model, it will raise the eBook prices "to cover costs to hosts, serve, and maintain ... collections." The article mentions discussion on the Digital Reference Services listserv in which librarians noted low usage of eBooks in general. The experience at the University of Texas at Austin was markedly different, with as many as 1,800 e-titles circulating in one 2-week period. Dennis Dillon, a librarian at UT Austin, attributed the eBooks acceptance and use to the placement of MARC records of the eBooks in the library catalog.
ebrary, a company that had not previously marketed to libraries, announced that it was launching ebrarian, with some initial library customers. ebrarian is much more tailored to libraries: its content can now be accessed through library catalogs providing full MARC records, which allows the materials to flow more smoothly through library processes from acquisitions to cataloging to public services points. ebrary currently has approximately 5,000 titles and is partnering with McGraw-Hill Companies, Random House, Penguin Classics, Taylor & Francis, Yale University Press, John Wiley & Sons, Greenwood, Harvard University Press, Cornell University Press and Indiana University Press.
- Claessens J, Preneel B, Vandewalle J. A tangled world wide web of security issues. First Monday 2002; 7(3). http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue7_3/claessens/index.html
- Claessens et al provide an updated review of security issues on the Web. They discuss security issues on multiple levels: communications, user authentication, mobile code, anonymity and privacy, content, payment, implementation, operating systems, users and legal. On the communication level, the authors describe the SSL/TLS protocol (Secure Sockets Layer)/IETF Transport Layer Security Group: "SSL/TLS provides entity authentication, data authentication, and data confidentiality. In short, SSL/TLS works as follows. A connection between a browser and a Web server is divided into two phases, the handshake and the data transfer. The purpose of the handshake is threefold: the Web browser and server need to agree on a set of cryptographic algorithms (ciphersuites) that will be used to protect the data, to authenticate each other, and to agree on cryptographic keys; secondly, they need to establish this set of cryptographic keys with which data will be protected; and lastly, the Web server authenticates to the browser and, optionally, the user/browser authenticates to the server." The authors also comment on the lack of visual confirmation for users of the level of security on a web site (the little lock being an example of such a visual clue). Issues of trust (for users) and the ability to protect user privacy are ongoing issues. Not surprisingly, the authors conclude that "the user might often be the weakest link in the system."
- BMJ. March 9, 2002. 324(7337).
- The March 9, 2002 issue of BMJ is devoted to a discussion of health information on the Internet. While the whole issue is worth reading for librarians (and others) this summary will look at one article: Gagliardi A, Jadad AR. Examination of instruments used to rate quality of health information on the internet: chronicle of a voyage with an unclear destination. 569-572. This paper is an update of the authors' 1998 JAMA study (Jadad AR, Gagliardi A. Rating health information on the internet: navigating to knowledge or to Babel? JAMA 1998;279:611-4.)
They identified 98 health information rating/ranking instruments through a series of searches and eliminated those that did not provide information by which they in turn could be evaluated. Of the 98 identified sites, only 11 contained information on their rating criteria. Only three sites indicated authorship, attribution and disclosure (ownership, financial, etc): the American Medical Association (http://ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category1/3952.html), Health on the Net Foundation (http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Conduct.html) and Health Improvement Institute Aesculapius award for rating sites (http://hii.org).
The authors mention that many rating sites appear and disappear with a certain rapidity - longevity not yet being a Web strong suit. They discuss new initiatives for certifying the validity of web site information including a European project that suggests an accreditation model.