- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Seven universities hit by Hurricane Katrina are getting free online access to more than 10,000 scientific, technical and medical books from their publisher, along with another 5,000 or so books to be published next year.

In addition, 32 school libraries that were hit by last year’s hurricanes or at schools that took in large numbers of displaced students are getting $230,000 in grants from a discount retailer.

Xavier University is one of the seven campuses getting the e-book collection, which Springer Inc. was showcasing yesterday at the New Orleans convention of the American Library Association (ALA).

“It’s an enormous amount of money being represented,” Xavier head librarian Robert Skinner said.

Since Springer is one of the world’s biggest science publishers and Xavier’s reputation is built on the sciences, “this is right up our alley,” he said.

The ALA’s annual meeting, which brought 18,000 people to New Orleans, is the first major convention to return to the city since Katrina. First lady Laura Bush spoke yesterday at a town hall meeting about the role of school libraries in restoring learning and reuniting communities in times of crisis.

In addition to Xavier, universities getting the e-books are Tulane, Loyola and Dillard universities, the University of New Orleans and Southern University at New Orleans, and Louisiana State University’s medical school, which has a campus and library separate from LSU’s main campus in Baton Rouge.

The collection includes every title published this year and last by Springer, which owns 70 publishing houses in more than 20 countries.

Since libraries order a year in advance, the 2007 titles also are part of the offer, Ray Colon, Springer’s global manager for e-books, said in an interview last week.

Prices depend on both an institution’s size and the amount of research likely there. If the New Orleans schools had to buy them, Tulane would pay about $445,000 and the other six schools about $125,000 each, for a total of nearly $1.2 million, Mr. Colon said.

The ALA and Dollar General Corp. announced the first grants to school libraries under the company’s $800,000 book and equipment replacement program. Seven of the first 32 recipients are in Texas, six in Mississippi and the rest in Louisiana.

It is open to any library affected by a natural disaster or terrorism, but those affected by last year’s hurricanes — Wilma, which hit Florida, as well as Katrina and Rita, which hit Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas — have priority for early grants.

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