Thursday, December 11, 2008

I am proud to be able to announce that Dorothy Mays has been awarded the Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award this year. One of three faculty members, the others being Ed Royce and Bruce Stephenson. Dorothy is the first librarian at Rollins to ever be awarded this honor.

Each year, the College presents up to three Cornell Distinguished Faculty Awards recognizing exceptional professional accomplishments in at least two of the faculty's three primary emphases of teaching, research and service. Because teaching is the first priority at Rollins, it is expected that all awardees will have established a record of excellence in instruction. With the exception of holders of endowed chairs, all tenured and tenure-track faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences are eligible for consideration.

This is richly deserved. Dorothy provides much of the best teaching we provide in the library and also teaches in other departments like History. Her research is excellent and very well regarded (I am looking forward to seeing her most recent work on Gatorland in print soon), and her service (most recently in connection with curriculum reform) is exemplary.

So send her a note and congratulate her.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nightime launch

On Friday night, after the library closed, I went up to the darkened Tower Room at the top of the Library and watched the nighttime launch of the shuttle. The photos don't do the event any justice. I took them on my phone, but trust me it was magnificent to watch it light up the night sky, soar above the treetops first image), pierce the clouds (second image), and then see it pass by the moon (last two images.)

Another reason I am lucky to live in Florida.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Really, really good news

Rollins has been conducting a customer service study this semester. The people involved recently surveyed the A&S students (the residential, liberal arts component of our student body) about offices and departments on campus and rated their customer service on a scale of 1-4 (1 being lowest, 4 being highest.) Two departments on campus stood out head and shoulders above the rest in terms of how the A&S students perceived the quality of service provided.
Drum roll please .....
Olin Library was rated at 3.56 with a standard deviation of 0.6 (non-statistical translation: we rated very high and most respondents agreed with that high rating.)
Second drum roll .....
Only one other department on campus exceeded our rating, and then only by 0.06. If you have ever used the services of Doc and his team this result will not surprise you. They do a magnificent job of finding solutions rather than problems and have created a great atmosphere down in the basement of Mills. Do you know any other Post Offices you can say that about?
But enough about them! Congratulations to everyone in Olin. This is a great validation of all the hard work all the staff have put into improving service to our users over the last few years and fulfilling our mission --
Exceptional service, information resources, and a welcoming environment for the Rollins community.
When we brought in Leslie Bonner to consult with us on customer service a couple of years ago, I said I wanted Circulation to become a model for other service points on campus. I wanted other departments to come to us and ask us how we did such a good job. Well, Roger Casey wants to use the results of this survey to do just that. He will be asking Olin, and the Post Office to explain to other departments what we do and how we do it in an effort to help them improve their own customer service. Stay tuned for more details.
But for the moment, let's just bask in the glory .... and if you see an Olin person around, congratulate them. This is entirely due to their hard work.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2008

ECAR just published their new report on undergraduate information technology use. Here are the key findings according to OCLC Abstracts (who produced a nice short summary in their 10/27/08 issue):
  • More than 80 percent of respondents own laptops, 53.8 percent own desktops, and one-third own both a laptop and a desktop.
  • Laptop ownership increased from 65.9 percent in 2006 to 82.2 percent in 2008. Freshmen respondents are entering college with new laptops in hand—this year 71.1 percent have a laptop less than one year old.
  • Ownership of Internet-capable cell phones is also on the rise, now owned by 66.1 percent of respondents. Most respondents, however, do not yet take advantage of the Internet capability, citing high cost, slow response and difficulty of use as primary reasons.
  • Despite barriers to use, almost one-fourth of respondents access the Internet from a cell phone or PDA at least monthly, and 17.5 percent do so weekly or more often.
  • Respondents report spending an average 19.6 hours per week actively doing online activities for work, school or recreation, and 7.4 percent spend more than 40 hours per week doing so.
  • Almost all students surveyed use the college or university library Web site (93.4 percent) and presentation software (91.9 percent). Also used by most students are spreadsheets (85.9 percent), social networking sites (85.2 percent), text messaging (83.6 percent) and course management systems (82.3 percent).
  • About one-third of respondents report using audio-creation or video-creation software and 73.9 percent use graphics software (Photoshop, Flash, etc.).
  • Almost one-third engage in online multiuser computer games (World of Warcraft, EverQuest, poker, etc.) and about 1 in 11 respondents (8.8 percent) report using online virtual worlds (Second Life, etc.).
  • Students are interactive on the Web, with more than one-third contributing content to blogs, wikis, and photo and video Web sites.
  • Over 85 percent of respondents report using social networking sites. The striking change over the last two years was in how many respondents now use social networking sites on a daily basis, from 32.8 percent in 2006 to 58.8 percent in 2008.
It looks like the big winners are laptops, cell phones (but not their Internet capabilities), library websites, social networking, and graphics software.

No surprise that Second Life is the big loser.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Biblio Burro

This story makes you proud to be a librarian. Bookmobiles in the the US began in Hagerstown, MD in the early twentieth century. I remember using them as a child in rural Britain in the 1960's. It was the compactness, the warm smell of books and coachwork, and the miraculous appearance of the bookmobile on our housing estate that I loved most.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shaping Liberal Arts College Library Collections

I am at the FDR Presidential Library at this conference, hosted by Vassar College.

I spend the morning touring the FDR Museum with friends. It is well worth a visit, particularly the special exhibit on FDR's first 100 days and the Eleanor Roosevelt exhibit. Such an impressive woman.

In her welcoming remarks to the Conference, the Director of the Presidential Library quoted FDR when he opened the Library in 1941. To build and maintain libraries and archives FDR said a, "nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future." Words to live by.

I have come away from this conference more convinced than ever that, as I concluded in a recent post, our future is in consortia. What distinguishes us as a liberal arts college library for our users is our close relationship with them and our focus on student learning. Some of our collections, and how they are built and shaped, are related to that those liberal artsy distinguishing features. But mostly, in terms of information resources, our users want it all. Therefore we need to embed ourselves in large scale consortia that provide convenient unmediated borrowing and also join purchase licensing opportunities. Then we can concentrate on what we do well -- individual service to students and faculty.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What is this "Followers" thing?

Look at the top of the right hand column of this blog. Notice the widget for "discerning people who follow this blog." It is a new widget from Google that I did not know about until Jeff Scott became a follower of my blog. It is a nice little feature that enables me to sense my audience (at least some of them) and enables you to keep track of blogs that interest you.

So, give it a whirl. If you don't already have a Google account, set one up and follow this blog.

By the way, Jeff's blog, Gather No Dust, is worth checking out. Thoughtful comments from a public library director.

I wonder if calling this feature "followers" is a misstep on Google's part? There are no followers in America, only leaders. Just as more of us like to think of ourselves as writers than readers. Maybe they should have called it "members", "patrons" or "trendsetters."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

How are we doing: Return of the Comments.

Even more comments. These were all left for us during September. Keep them coming.

Comments on our Service
"Tim in IT hooked up wireless for me & showed great service."
"The lady at the help desk was so helpful! I could not find this one thing, and she helped me find it and was just so great and cheerful as well. I hope to see her around and would love for her assistance at any time!"
"Great help!"
"Librarians Rock!"
"Steve V is awesome!"
Jonathan's Response: Thanks for all these great complements. When you gave me a name, I passed the complement on to the supervisor and to the person named.

Comment: "Would it possible to get a AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) for the library?"
Jonathan's Response: We passed on your idea to the Health Center. We will see what they think.

Comment: "I would appreciate free drinks and snacks!"
Jonathan's Response: Hey, who doesn't? But you will have to wait for exam time. During the week of exams we provide free drinks and snacks during the evenings.

Comment: "When I did my undergraduate degree in the 80's, it was possible to park in the back parking lot and enter through the back door. Now that I'm disabled, it would be wonderful to park out back and enter the back door."
Jonathan's Response: You still can, just ring the bell to the right of the loading dock door and someone will let you in when that office is staffed (Mon-Fri 7:45am - 4pm.) Also, both pathways round the library are wheelchair accessible. I suggest you take the upper or left hand pathway. It leads to the ramp on to the Library loggia and from there to the front door. I am looking into improving the signs near the handicap parking spots so that your options are more obvious.

Comment:"I would love to see "Mr. Holland's Opus". The library should own it. It deals a lot with music."
Jonathan's Response: Thanks for the suggestion. We have just ordered a copy. In future you can always suggest a book or DVD for the library here.

Comment: "USB drives for 24 hour use would be a big plus!"
Jonathan's Response: We have a bunch of USB sticks available for 4-hour check out for use inside the library. We will add a few more for 24-hour checkout for use anywhere. Thanks for the suggestion.

Comments on the Bookmark Cafe:
"If possible, could the Bookmark Café be open on Fridays as well?"
"No Dr. Java?"
Jonathan's Response:
I am guessing that last one is about the same issue. I have passed these comments on to Dining Services and they will be testing some open hours on Friday over the next few weeks. This library gets kinda quiet on Friday's so we shall see how this goes, but if the demand is there, they will do it.

"I think you should put some of those brown comfortable chairs (that you have by the entry) upstairs in a quiet zone. Thanks!"
Jonathan's Response: Great minds think alike! One of our proposed unfunded capital projects this year was for exactly this. In fact I think all the furniture in Olin is showing its age and needs to be updated; with comfortable leather chairs figuring prominently in the plans on all floors. Unfortunately the key word here is "unfunded." You can rest assured that everyone will hear if we get funded for this. If you know someone who has somehow dodged the current financial meltdown in the global economy and wants to invest some money in a cool project in the library, let me know. We will gladly give them credit!

"The women's restroom by the 24 hour lab is missing its' sign! A little confusion."
Jonathan's Response: Thanks for letting us know. We have reported this and will get it replaced.

Comment: "The past three times I've visited the 3rd floor, particularly the Pillow Room for quiet study, I have had difficulty doing so with many students talking, joking and carrying on. Perhaps another plain text reminder could be posted on the wall of the Pillow Room, reiterating the quiet study policies."
Jonathan's Response: Sorry to hear that. We are preparing a poster for the Pillow Room to remind people that the 3rd floor is a quiet study floor and noise travels. In the meantime, you should always feel free to ask people to tone it down or move to another floor. If you want us to do this, just ask any staff person.

Comment: "Would it be possible to have the parking lot out back to be reserved 7am to 5pm, as its funny to see the parking lot today at 7:20 with 4 spots left and the night shift having to park across campus as midnight as there are no spots when they came 4:30."
Jonathan's Response: As everyone knows, parking is not easy on campus. I have passed this comment on to Campus Safety and they are considering it. But I have to tell you: the 4pm end to faculty/staff reserved parking is standard across campus. It will get real confusing if we just change it for one lot. Also Holt students trying to get to early evening classes need those spots as well.

Thanks to everyone. Keep those comments coming!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Publishers did not take the bait

C&RL just placed my latest article on their pre-print server. It will be published in the Spring 2009 issue of the journal. I originally came across the USOE policy while writing my dissertation, specifically when I got hold of Julius Marke's book, Copyright and Intellectual Property. There are obvious links to the current NIH Public Access Policy and I thought a historical comparison might be interesting. Let me know what you think.

By the way, I am really glad to see this open access pre-print server. ACRL: livin' the OA dream!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Degrees of Freedom

Bethany just received copies of her book Degrees of Freedom: American Women Poets and the Women's College 1905-1955, hot off the press from Bucknell. The final result of many years of work. Guess how good this feels from her smile!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The Provost just asked everyone who reports to him two questions:
  1. What is your greatest challenge facing your department?
  2. What will the greatest challenge be in twenty years time?
My first reaction to (2) was, how to retire with dignity. It will be about that time. Twenty years ago I had just started as an assistant manager in the Waldenbooks in a mall in Rochester, NY. A couple of years later I was working at RIT and just being blown away by, e-mail, modems, Gophers and Hytelnet. Anyway, you get the point. Twenty years is a long time.

I asked the library staff how they would answer those questions. They, as always, had some thoughtful things to say. Here are some excerpts.

"I think the biggest challenge for libraries will be how to prevent students from becoming hopelessly seduced by the lures of quick & easy Internet searching.

I find our students are increasingly sophisticated with technology, but very impatient with the time and attention serious research requires. Some won't consult the book catalog because they don't want to walk upstairs. Some can't be bothered to learn about various databases, because Google is so much easier and "good enough." This will be a battle both for librarians and for faculty (who will need to hold students to the grindstone and send them back to the library if their sources are lousy.)

I can't resist answering what I think the biggest challenge is to Rollins as a whole: keeping a liberal arts degree relevant in an increasingly specialized world. Already we have begun adding some programs to our curriculum to satisfy parents who want some level of practicality for their hard-earned tuition dollars (INB and the 3,2 Crummer program, in particular.) I fully support programs like INB, but we are starting to walk a fine line. Students can go to Full Sail and get a specialized certificate in a fraction of the time it takes to get a liberal arts degree. Or enroll in the U. of Phoenix and pick up a more practical degree from the comfort of your home.

Up until now, Rollins has not seemed concerned about competition from such sources....the students who select these schools are not our traditional bread and butter. But as the economy tightens, and job markets become more specialized, we need to be on our guard. I think these educational options qualify as "disruptive technology." A defining characteristic of any disruptive technology is that by the time the established companies perceive them as threats, it is already too has been embraced by society." Dorothy Mays

"We, the library, are charged with keeping current in every discipline, in every media, even as we, the college, make changes to the core curriculum. The faculty help us meet that challenge with their suggestions. Unfortunately, the need to maintain an ever-expanding collection clashes with our available shelf space, bandwidth, and budget!

Now and over the next twenty years, we need to strike a balance between the old and the new, the general and the specific. Between physical books and electronic resources. Between what is important in the education of every Rollins student and what is relevant to individual courses of study. Between classic knowledge and timely information." Shawne Holcomb.

"The greatest challenges of today are continuing to provide an excellent education during a struggling economy. That means outdoing other places of higher education by getting the best faculty, facilities and resources available. Rollins has to maintain it's top notch standard while becoming less and less reliant on tuition and more reliant on the endowment and the responsible investment of that endowment. This will allow Rollins to sustain the excellent facilities and keep attracting great faculty while becoming more socially just in the opportunities that it gives to talented but less privileged students.

In 20 years Rollins will have to adjust to the changing landscape of central Florida. Hopefully by that time Orlando will be a legitimate city with workable public transit and a job market outside of construction and hospitality. Rollins will have to maintain the proper balance of remaining excellent in the liberal arts but at the same time preparing students for the job market.

I want to add a point to my second part of the question. The goals of the college are not merely to prepare students for the local job market and that sort of seems to be what I am saying. Rather, I think it is important for students to be prepared for things locally and also globally and this is more in tune with the Rollins vision statement." TR Parker.

"We know why we’re useful (strong resources and a variety of great instructors to help with library research.) Yet “knowing” why we’re useful in itself isn’t enough.
The greatest challenge we face as a library involves adequately demonstrating to students why our resources are beneficial to them. In other words, many students are proficient in using technology. And yet because of this natural facility, they might not immediately understand or appreciate the benefits we have for them and the many ways we can help them with their research.

Trends in the future: 20 years---
Increased commuting (distance learners) combined with less disciplined self-researchers. This trend indicates that as librarians we will need to better market ourselves to justify our relevance to increasingly sophisticated information consumers.
One growing microtrend (Penn) that has been identified is the rise of the *DIY doctor, or self-diagnosing patient who researches his or her own medical condition.
Yet, according to Pew Internet and American Life Project, “three fourths of individuals do not check the source or date when looking at health information online.” I’ll view this one microtrend as something that I see as emblematic of society becoming potentially less engaged with libraries and librarians despite overconfidence in the accuracy of “good enough” research.

If DIY medical researchers are so notoriously lax about online health information (considering that their research concerns their health or the health of a loved one, something that is so potentially important), there is no reason to think information consumers are any more disciplined in other types of research (it is difficult to say other types of research are LESS important, and yet certainly health research strikes me as being high in the general hierarchy of things you need to get right,) despite broader access to information.
This potential for spotty research coupled with the increase in commuters and distance learners will mean librarians will have to find a way to provide legitimate resources, demonstrate the role of the librarian in providing accurate research, and often do this within the constraints of a distance relationship. (Or at least provide the information on less than a strictly face to face basis.) And I think that when you have less direct contact with patrons, for lack of a better word, the potential quality of the reference transaction decreases. Yet, if you consider DIY medical researchers, they at least need to see a doctor to receive a prescription, while there is no mandate to visit a librarian. (The one advantage we have in this context is that while generally speaking library services are free, part of the reason many people might be increasingly self-medicating involves the prohibitive costs of visiting a doctor.)

Also, we will need to negotiate the more difficult question, as librarians do we simply provide information for patrons or do we also interpret information transactions in any significant way? Whereas in the past librarians may have started the research from the beginning, in the future we need to find our place as providers within less carefully defined “gaps” in prior knowledge. You might not begin the reference question in the beginning, but perhaps somewhere in the middle.

While examining our role as information specialists, I’ll continue with the medical analogy I started earlier. (Obviously, as librarians we do not give out medical advice.) Yet, this aside, what is our specific role in the information transaction? Consider the role of a doctor and pharmacist in the life of a patient. Would we equate more closely to the role of an MD making an examination of need and then making a diagnosis? Or are we simply a pharmacist distributing the information once a need has been established? I think our role falls somewhere in between doctor and pharmacist (there is the reference interview, but there is also the part where we explore and share information sources), and yet this role is one that the profession will continue to negotiate.

*117 million people researching their medical conditions in 2005 compared to 136 million in 2006 (16 percent increase.) Also, the demographic researching their medical condition tends to be young 20 or 30 somethings, according to Penn & Zalesene (Microtrends 2007)." Michael Furlong

These are all great ideas. Unfortunately, I failed to tell them that the Provost wanted very concise, one or two sentence responses! An impossible assignment, but here is my feeble attempt.

Our greatest challenge now is to successful manage the hybrid world of the print and digital library. This puts huge pressure on our services, our systems, and our resources because we cannot simply concentrate on one environment or the other and our users exist on a continuum from those heavily invested in print to those who have almost completely migrated to the digital environment.

Twenty years from now we will already know if the future of the library is as a museum of the book, a respected and beloved institution on campus that is essentially irrelevant to the educational mission of the College in anything but a historical sense. If we have avoided that slow death then the real challenge will be to find a role for the local, Rollins, library in a world of global digital information resources and services. As a recent CLIR Report makes clear, research and the resources that the research process uses and creates will be global. The role of the local library will be to improve, in partnership with the faculty, the information literacy of the students, and organize the access and filtering of vast quantities of information for our networked and digital community. The latter will be far more effective for consortia of libraries, rather than stand alone libraries.

More than one or two sentences, I know. So, stay ahead of the game, be the information experts embedded in your campus network, and get thee to a consortium!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We have a winner ... again

It looks as though she is on a winning streak. Last Year Rosana Diaz-Zambrana of Modern Languages has won the first Annual Olin Library Interlibrary Borrowing Prize. Well she has done it again; more than doubling her number of interlibrary loan requests made in the 07-08 academic year from 50 to 103!

This is a great opportunity to announce that we have just implemented the ILLiad software at Rollins which is going to make a huge difference to interlibrary loan service, making it both easier to request and receive materials and more efficient for our staff and student workers to process those requests.

Click here to set up your account.
Our interlibrary loan service remains free to all Rollins students, faculty, and staff and there is no limit on the number of request you may submit. Here is how we hope it makes your life easier:
  1. You only have to enter your personal information once. Unless you change your address etc. you never have to do it again.
  2. If you find out about a book or journal article when searching one of the databases provided by the library and the book or the article is not available online or on campus, simply clicking on the Findit button will enable you to place an interlibrary loan request and you will not need to retype any of the information about the article or book. Just click the button at the bottom of the page and your done.
  3. Using your FoxID and password gives you access to your interlibrary loan account from on or off campus, anytime day or night. You can place requests, view what you have on order, check on the status of your request, cancel requests, and review all your old requests.
  4. When your materials arrive, if they were sent online (and most journal articles are) you will receive an e-mail with a link to the article that you can then view or print out. This link will be active to 30 days. If your materials arrive in print, you will receive an e-mail letting you know the book is ready for pick up at the Circulation Desk.
This is just the beginning. We are looking into more ways to speed up interlibrary loan service. Stay tuned.
Thanks to Bill Svitavsky, Melanie Osborn, Paul Gindlesperger, Jim Spitzer, and Katie Sanchez for all their hard work in making this happen. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for improving this and all other library services.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Second Year (and a little bit).

Back on August 7th 2007, I wrote an entry celebrating everything that everyone in the library had achieved in my first year. Well time flies and my second anniversary is already growing smaller in the rear view mirror and the semester is upon us. Before we get too busy to think, here is a list (in no particular order) of what the library personnel, above and beyond their normal work, have achieved in the 2007-08 academic year.

  • Installed Findit, open link resolver.
  • R2 Consulting began our rethinking of technical services from request to shelf.
  • Revised our gift policy.
  • Began Your Librarian program.
  • Added access to Science and Nature online.
  • Started using Meebo to provide chat reference and began using Gmail for e-mail an text reference.
  • Added Credo and Oxford Reference Online, and Prokaryotes, digital reference collections.
  • Provided campus wide access to RefWorks bibliographic management software.
  • Reviewed all our multidisciplinary database offerings and added access to EBSCO's Academic Search Premier and ended access to WilsonWeb's Omnifile (thereby adding access to over 4,500 more fulltext journals, magazines, and newspapers).
  • Reviewed our anthropology database offerings and added access to AnthroSource and ended access to e-HRAF.
  • Installed rocking chairs and other furniture on the loggia and new furniture in the entrance way.
  • Installed plasma screens in the group study rooms and elsewhere in the Library.
  • Said goodbye to Janet, Kerry, Yvonne and Carolyn (all have gone on to great opportunities elsewhere).
  • Said hello to Darcella Deschambault, Denisa Metko, and Meredith Lowe.
  • Added FoxHunt, federated searching.
  • Promotion of Wenxian to full professor, mid-course reviews for Mary, Jonathan, annual review for Yvonne, annual reviews for all staff.
  • Upgrade Sirsi integrated library system.
  • Added more content to our Digital Archives including collections on Winter Park and Florida, and Treasures at Rollins Archives.
Back on August 7th, 2007 I also see that I held an ice cream party for everyone. I had better get on that right away!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Revising the Gift Policy

As part of our continuing response to R2 Consulting's report, we have revised our gift policy and are beginning the process of publicizing it on campus and beyond.

Library gift policies are delicate things. We, like all libraries, value financial and material donations. In fact, before the second world war the gifts were one of the major ways some of the great American libraries were built. But we can't accept every gift, only those that enrich our collection and support the curriculum. How do we do that while not upsetting potential donors and also making efficient use of our staff resources and facilities? It is not always an easy balance to strike. Here are the highlights our current effort to achieve that balance. I would love to hear your thoughts.
  1. We have reversed the priority of our gifts, emphasizing gifts of money rather than gifts of books and other materials.
  2. Nothing changes about gifts of money or about the Book a Year program.
  3. In terms of gifts of materials, we will require that people agree to our guidelines before accepting the gift. If not, we will help them find another library etc,. that may take the gift.
  4. We will no longer create a list of all the items given whether or not they are added to our collection. This becomes the responsibility of the donor. Previously, we devoted a lot of time to making lists for donors.
  5. If we do not add materials to the collection we will offer them to Rebecca Montaner's Book Network Project (Rebecca is a graduate of Rollins) and, if they don't take them, the materials will be discarded. Again, our previous procedures involved long periods of storage, negotiations with multiple used book dealers, attempts to place the books in other libraries, etc. A big investment in time and space.
  6. Currently, when we add a donated book to the collection we add an individualized bookplate that includes the text "Gift of [name of donor]" Again, a huge investment of time. Instead we will now add a generic Olin Library bookplate and a local note in the library's online catalog (MARC field 590) with the same text. These notes would be visible in the catalog whenever anyone views a record and also searchable.
  7. Mary Throumoulos, our Collection development Librarian, will be the point person on these gifts. She and the liaison librarian will decide what gets added to the collection. She will also be the person to suggest other possible recipients of the gift if we cannot take it.
  8. Finally, these are guidelines. We can do something different if it is in the best interests of the College in any particular case. Mary -- with input from me if necessary -- will make these decisions.
These changes are an opportunity for the library to devote staff and space to higher priority tasks. We are very grateful for donations of materials that enrich our collection and further the mission of Rollins College and we will make such donations accessible to the Rollins Community as efficiently as possible. More details are here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Introduction of the Photocopier

Thanks to Darla Moore for telling me that the second season premiere of AMC's Mad Men included the introduction of the first photocopier to the show's fictional ad agency. Even if, like me, you have never seen the show you have probably heard about the care the producers take to represent the period, the early 1960's, accurately in terms of clothes, design, furniture, etc. So this was a good opportunity for me to see how they treated the disruptive technology of the period -- the photocopier.

My dissertation concerns the development of the Copyright Act of 1976. The Act was the result of 21 years of work by Congress, the Copyright Office, and various interest groups including librarians. During the period 1955-1976, from the perspective of librarians and publishers the photocopier was the disruptive technology. Just as the Web and digital media are for us today. Networked computers were developing and the implications for copyright were beginning to be explored, but they were not well understood. Photocopiers were improving rapidly, moving from cumbersome, expensive, mediated devices in libraries and offices to small (er), easier to use, self-serve devices located in libraries, schools, offices throughout America. This episode is just one example of what that might have been like for people at the time.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


As many of you know we tried the leather chairs in the walkway by the Circulation Desk down to the Multimedia lab. They were popular, but we heard complaints about the noise from the Circulation Desk (you might, like me, ask why someone who wanted a quiet space would sit next to a busy desk, but hey!) We heard that we should get more such chairs for the cafe. We also saw that these leather chairs frequently migrated to the cafe in the evenings.
As a temporary measure we have moved the leather chairs to the cafe with the thought that if they were popular in a noisy walkway, they would be even more popular in the cafe. The coffee tables don't match for the moment, but we will work on that.
We continue to work on getting more comfortable furniture throughout the library. For the moment the walkway will be empty.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Interesting article in the Times on Sunday by Motoko Rich. "Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? Is the Internet the enemy of reading, or has it created a new kind of reading, one that society should not discount?" Two people have already e-mailed it to me and it is one of the NYT's most e-mailed articles at the moment.

It describes the latest round of a debate that goes all the way back to Plato's Phaedrus. What is the impact of a new technology on how we learn and share information and knowledge? In Plato's case he was concerned, amongst other things, about the impact of literacy on a highly valued oral tradition. Now we are concerned about the impact of the web on literacy. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.

I think it is still important to learn to read, as Rich puts it, texts with "a predetermined beginning, middle and end, where readers focus for a sustained period on one author’s vision." It is not so much the predetermined beginning, middle, and end that I value but the sustained concentration on another's vision and argument. Our attention spans and our willingness to engage with someone else's ideas for a sustained period seem to be shrinking. Reading online encourages us to take (an albeit false) sense of control and it also encourages to read in smaller chunks. Reading on the web is focused on self. We are able to construct narratives and arguments that satisfy us from many sources, rather than being forced to confront another author's vision.

What the web is good for though, amongst other things, is rewarding us for evaluating sources, and enabling us to evaluate arguments, authors, sources, etc. quickly.

So I think we need to learn to do both, just as memorizing a poem is also still a useful skill and accomplishment.

Just as Plato couldn't stop the shift from orality to literacy, we will not stop this shift from print to digital. How we store, learn, and share information and knowledge will change with this shift. We need to find ways to separate the elements and techniques of print culture that will be of continuing value from the simply familiar and comfortable. At the same time we have to consciously encourage the valuable elements and techniques of our evolving digital culture. Just as Cassiodorus did not sit back and watch the classical Roman culture of the scroll fade away during a period of massive economic and societal change, but worked to bring what he valued into the new technology of the codex and nascent medieval world and by doing so changed that future.

One thing struck me in the article, Nadia's mother worked hard to encourage her daughter to read but does not read much herself. That may be the key.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Just put the juicy stuff up

Sorry, I have been away for a long time. Some very generous research time from the College (and also from my colleagues at the Library. They managed pretty much without me for six weeks.) Then a couple of weeks of vacation. Most of these two months have been spent on drafting my dissertation. But now I am back.

While I was away I saw this article in the Times (7/13/08.) I think Markoff has it right. The iPhone in particular and the use of the web on mobile devices in general is having a huge impact on the web and the library world (and higher education in general) have to catch up. One stat I saw indicates that 22% of the visitors to the Olin website use Safari and my guess is that many of those aren't coming from Mac lap and desktops, but are coming from the iPhone.

As readers of this blog know, Rollins is in the process of building a new web presence and I know the people involved are aware of the need to meet the needs of mobile web users. But we also need to do more in the Library.

What is Sirsi doing to support mobile users of our OPAC? How about our other vendors? Our librarians also need to think about how their services are accessed from mobile devices. We are already open to text messages, IM and chat but we need to do more.

A version of our website needs to be optimized for mobile devices as Markoff says, it should be a, "custom-tailored, vertically oriented Web site" where "text appears large enough for users to read comfortably, and mobile Web sites are redone so that the user scrolls only up and down, not sideways, to view information." As Ben Shneiderman, is quoted as saying in the article, “ just put the juicy stuff up."

Good advice.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Last ALA post

I ran with Sue O'Dell, Science librarian at Bowdoin, today. She is always two steps ahead of me. I was interested to hear her say that Bowdoin automatically adds links to library resources and services in every Blackboard course at the college and librarians have instructor level access to all Blackboard courses. If the faculty member wants them to the librarians also add far more information up to course level research guides using LibGuides. Cool.

I spent time in the exhibits today. SerialsSolutions, OCLC (I wrote about those earlier.) Also Digital Commons as an alternative institutional repository platform. Quite impressive, but not cheap.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the digital library, but a couple of incidents gave me pause. First, I went out looking for the Sunday issue of the LA Times yesterday. Everywhere I looked seemed to have run out. If the paper newspaper is a dinosaur, why can't I find a copy? Then, as I wandered through the exhibits there was plenty of space until I suddenly found myself surrounded by thousands of librarians. I looked up and noticed I was in the book aisle, surrounded by the big publishers. Again, if the library of the 21st century is digital, why was this aisle the most crowded?

There could be any number of answers. Librarians are still clinging to outmoded technologies of print. Books purchases are small and many, digital purchases are big and few so librarians cluster in the book aisle. Or (most likely) both were both pure chance.

Anyway, it's fun to speculate.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More ALA

Serials Solutions breakfast this morning (very good croissants but not enough coffee.) As the digital library has grown SerialsSolutions has grown to be our other integrated library system(ILS). As our users shift from print to digital it is perhaps more important than Sirsi.
SerialsSolutions is really on a roll at the moment. The knowledge base they maintain is impressive. It's interesting that they maintain it and their users report issues with journal coverage etc., they edit the knowledge base. Everyone wins. It reminds me of OCLC's WorldCat. But Serials Solutions is owned by ProQuest, OCLC is a not for profit member "collaborative" (a word much bandied about by OCLC leadership these days). There has been a real cultural shift since 1980. What once would have been structured as a public good, a result of collective action, is now structured as private property.
Then onto a program organized by the ALA Washington Office's OITP about the future of libraries in the 21st century. The panelists were Jose-Marie Griffith, Stephen Abrams, and Joan Frye Williams. The most interesting speaker was Frye Williams (she also spoke at the FLA Conference, where some other Rollins' librarians heard and liked her). Some of the things that struck me: "stop being the grocery store and start being the kitchen", the library in the 21st century should be about ideas, the thought process, about relationships with people, our "members" (not users or patrons) . All this reminds me of the learning commons idea. Finally she said we need to begin "modeling predictive behavior" (what our "members" are going to want to do next. All good stuff.
Stephen Abram was his usual combative, Buzz Lightyear self. I am a little sick of a VP from the company that is one of the largest brakes on innovation in our library (admittedly mostly the fault of our expertise gap, not their software) telling me I need to stop hanging on to the traditional ways of doing things and embrace the new -- how about we ditch Sirsi and go with WorldCat for description, Aquabrowser for the OPAC, and Gobi and Banner for acquisitions and fiscal control? That leaves Circulation of the print library. I am grossly simplifying, but you get the point.
Other points of interest: lay librarians (think students), the increasing importance of library as place, BiblioCommons (think LibraryThing).
Then another session, "No catalog like no catalog" questioning the role of the local OPAC, or any OPAC for that matter. Again with the Stephen Abram! Can no one stop this man? Joe Janes said something interesting though, "How does a library get better every time it is used?" It is not a riddle, but a question about how to use information about how our libraries are used to inform improvement and increase value.
After that the SPARC forum on the Harvard OA IR policy. There is still no there there, but there will be.

Friday, June 27, 2008

ALA Conference

ALA is in Anaheim, CA this year. Strange to go from one Orange County to another, from one Disney location to another. I am afraid it is not my favorite city. It reminds me of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi."
Today was devoted to ACRL and my new role as chair of the Government Relations Committee. The association does all kinds of leadership orientation etc. You can really make a much or as little as you want out of these appointments. The thing I really enjoy about this committee is that its role is focused outside the profession on how we can influence government and public policy. If the members of the committee agree I hope this year we can focus on continuing to develop the legislative advocates program in very specific strategic ways. So that we eventually have advocates in each congressional district and state that is represented by members who sit on Congressional committees that are important in terms of library, higher education, and information policy. We shall see.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Amy Knapp

I heard some very sad news yesterday. Amy Knapp, the AUL at Pitt when I worked there, died of colon cancer. She was my age -- 46 -- and was diagnosed with the condition in May 2007. It is always terrible when someone in the prime of life dies, but this one hits me, and I am sure everyone who knew Amy, hard.

Amy was an extrovert, gregarious, yet also quite a private person and she somehow embodied for me the spirit of the libraries at Pitt. I was always struck by how perceptive she was and that, whatever meeting we were in, she was usually the smartest person in the room.

We took very different career paths. Amy was born and raised in western Pennsylvania, took all her degrees at Pitt including her doctorate in library science, and worked for the University Libraries from her first year as an undergraduate at the University's Titusville campus as a student employee, a librarian, and finally at Assistant University Librarian. She knew the University and the library system inside out. It is tough for me to imagine the place without her.

Here is the Post Gazette obituary.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Books on Florida

Recently I produced a list of books to help a couple of people understand modern Florida and the state's history. The Olin Library has a superb Florida studies collection and this is just a short list. Sorry for the weird citations but they came from our catalog. I can't pretend to have read them all. I have briefly annotated those that I have. What titles would you add? Leave a comment.

Belleville, Bill, 1945- Losing it all to sprawl: how progress ate my Cracker landscape

Colburn, David R. From yellow dog Democrats to red state Republicans: Florida and its politics since 1940.

Cruickshank, Helen G. editor. William Bartram in Florida 1774: the adventures of the Great American naturalist, explorer, artist.

Davis, Jack E., 1956- Making waves: female activists in twentieth-century Florida

Douglas, Marjory Stoneman. The Everglades: river of grass.

An extensive and poetic history of the Everglades from Florida’s Rachel Carson.

Faherty, William Barnaby, 1914- Florida's space coast: the impact of NASA on the Sunshine State.

Foglesong, Richard E., 1948-. Married to the mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando

Gannon, Michael, 1927- Florida: a short history

Grunwald, Michael, 1970- The swamp

An environmental history of the Everglades that manages to tell the history of the state at the same time.

Hiaasen, Carl. Paradise screwed: selected columns of Carl Hiaasen edited by Diane Stevenson.

Hiaasen, Carl. Skinny dip: a novel

It may be fiction, but once you live in Florida it doesn’t seem like it.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their eyes were watching God.

Hurston’s novel about the impact of the Hurricane of 1928 on the African Americans living south of Lake Okeechobee.

MacDonald, John D. (John Dann), 1916-1986. Condominium: a novel

Maurice O’Sullivan. The Florida reader: visions of paradise from 1530 to the present.

Mormino, Gary Ross, 1947- Land of sunshine, state of dreams: a social history of modern Florida.

Mormino has so much to tell that his book comes across as an abstract. It reads like a list, but what an amazing list.

Murphree, Daniel S. Constructing Floridians: Natives and Europeans in the colonial Floridas, 1513-1783

Ortiz, Paul, 1964- Emancipation betrayed: the hidden history of Black organizing and white violence in Florida from

Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan, 1896-1953. Cross Creek.

She wrote The Yearling. This is her memoir of her years on an orange grove in rural North Florida. Funny, but reflects the racial thinking of its time and place.

Ortiz, Paul, 1964- Reconstruction to the bloody election of 1920

Weaver, Brian. The citrus industry in the Sunshine State.

Whitney, Eleanor Noss. Priceless Florida: natural ecosystems and native species; illustrated by Eric Jadaszwesky.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

How are we doing: Part Deux

Time for more comments with my responses. Keep them coming.

Comment: Six people asked whether we can you keep café open until 12am.
Jonathan’s Response: Personally I would like the Café to be open all the hours the Library is open. While Dining Services have expanded hours in the last year, I understand the need for them to work efficiently and, based on how much revenue the Café generates. I have passed your suggestion on to Dining Services.

Comment: Stay open later. It would be great to stay open until 12am.
Jonathan’s Response: You must be referring to Friday and Saturday evenings, when we close at 7pm and 6pm respectively. We will be looking into this based on usage of the building. Remember, the Late Night Lab has been open to Rollins students until midnight on those nights during the Spring semester. That pilot will be evaluated to see if we can continue to maintain those hours in the next academic year.

As I write this of course the whole building is open 24/7. Enjoy!

Comment: Might be good to put a sign outside with the hours of Olin. If there is one I could not find it.
Jonathan’s Response: Good idea. We will get this fixed. We used to have the hours outside, but when the noticeboard was replaced by the plasma screen the hours notice went with it. Oops! The hours do appear on the plasma screen, but obviously that info changes.

Comment: “Please keep up the good work. Gets better all the time. Great improvement” and “All help desks are doing great”
Jonathan’s Response: Thanks for the kind words. We hope you see the improvement continue.

Comment: Kim did a fantastic job assisting me with computer difficulties. Although she didn’t have an immediate answer, she went above and beyond to help find the solution for me. Suggest a 24hr on tech for late night studying students.
Jonathan’s Response: I love it when individual staff members are mentioned, that way I can personally thank them for their contribution. It is good to see Kim going above and beyond. As for your suggestion about late night tech support, I will pass it on to IT.

Comment: I envision a site called "" where anyone w/an R-Card can post ideas on specific departments such as the library. Users could post ideas, constructive feedback, new idea, respond to ideas, vote on ideas, etc. Think (this) on steroids (electronically).

Jonathan’s response: Great idea. When the new website is launched later this year we are thinking of maintaining a blog that would function in exactly that way. We can take advantage of the “wisdom of the crowd” (see the book The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki) to improve services. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 28, 2008

This is a library — we’re not supposed to be cool.

The title of this post came from an interesting article in today's NY Times about user behavior in the Reading Rooms at the British Library. It seems that the Library liberalized its policy about access to the rooms when they moved to their new building in St. Pancras and some of the long time users are objecting to the number and type of people now using the space -- too many noisy undergraduates who are not serious enough about research evidently.

This is the classic conflict within library spaces -- how to attract new users and allow for new forms of use while enabling traditional silent study to continue -- that I have written about before. Of course this being the British Library it comes with overtones of a national crisis, class, and generational conflict. What the article missed is why the BL is liberalizing access. The current British government has made it clear that some portion of the Library's funding will be dependent upon increased use of the facility. The Labor government, to their credit, is not interested in encouraging even more exclusivity at taxpayers expense.

Fundamentally, every library faces this because every library is an expression of the society from which the library grows. As that society changes and conflict arises the library becomes one possible locus of conflict. This can be serious, as in Sarajevo in the 1990's or less so as in Olin at the moment.

Actually, I have not heard any comments about noise in Olin for a while. I wonder if that is because our efforts to encourage quiet and noisy use on different floors is working, or some set of quiet users have given up on us. I hope it is the former, not the latter. I am sure we will find out when we repeat the LibQual survey next year.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Publishers did not take the bait.

I just got back from the Florida Library Association annual conference in St. Pete's. I gave this presentation (it is best viewed using IE.) I hope to turn this into an article soon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Olin's version of the New York Lions

The NYPL has its lions, Patience and Fortitude, we have our peacocks, and ours are live! This pair have been spotted on campus before. On Sunday morning Les Lloyd spotted them enjoying the Library's atrium and patio. They must have wandered around Lake Virginia from the Genius Reserve, where a resident flock have lived for many years.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My first podcast

Last year Kara Malenfant, Scholarly Communications and Government Relations Specialist -- which has to be one of the longest titles in libraryland -- at ACRL) interviewed me for a promotion of the ACRL Legislative Advocates program. I have enjoyed being an Advocate. ACRL is looking for more volunteers. If you are interested, find out more here.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Research on the Web

I have just finished teaching a one credit course that the librarians teach here at Rollins. It is called "Research on the Web. " Three weeks of three 50 minute sessions. Pretty short, so it really just ends up being an introduction. But an introduction to what? Each librarian uses a different syllabus, content, and obviously teaches in different ways.

I chose to cover different forms of content or providers on the web (search engines, government information, digital books, digital archives, open access journals, images, and Web 2.0.) The assignment was to create a wiki that consists of a a series of annotated webliographies on any acceptable topic the students chose. So the first couple of class sessions were about wikis using Wikipedia as an example (this was also an opportunity to talk about wikipedia in general) and about evaluation.

We could have produced the same assignment as printed Word documents, but I wanted to make the point that the students are both consumers and producers of information on the web since the wiki is opening available, although it can only be edited by class members. But I found some other advantages to using a wiki. For instance, I can comment on the students' work on the page, simply by editing the wiki myself and I received an e-mail each time a student edited a page. Finally, the next group of students get to develop the site -- the cumulative, cooperative web.

I enjoyed the class. they were a good group of students, though 8 a.m. for three days per week was tough on all of us. It felt much too short to me. I think the students could have used more time to search, there are obviously many more forms of content and providers we could have explored. Also I found myself talking about the economics and history of information far more than I expected (or perhaps the students wanted.) It made me think about possibly teaching a more extensive course on the history and economics of information. Time was, the course would have been call the "History of the Book." I think it would be fun to teach an updated version.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Again with the website

The design of the Olin Library website has been a theme of this blog from very early on. Almost no one in the Library is particularly satisfied with the website as it is now, but we have been waiting to do a major redesign because the College is engaged in a wholesale redesign of the College web presence as part of a wider strategic marketing initiative.

But we have not been able to resist making some changes. Even though I have been trying to put the brakes on too much change in the website, while encouraging people in the Library to think about what kind of website they would like to see and use in the future, the pace of change has recently quickened. I thought it would be a good time to acknowledge some of these changes and talk about where they might lead us in the future.

Use the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine to look at the website as of August 2006

We have cut down on the number of quicklinks, changed the orientation from two vertical columns to two horizontal rows, removed the bottom row of links to library departments, and switched from a Times to a sans serif font.

More importantly, we have added a quick search of the library catalog and selected other databases, a beta of federated searching and more ways of connecting with librarians (see the Meebo IM box.) Hopefully these are the beginning of new ways of enabling people to search and new ways of communicating with our users, and more importantly, them communicating with us. In general I think we are seeing a move away from a website designed around how the library is organized and towards a website designed around how people want to use our library.

Moving beyond the homepage, our link to article indexes and databases has also changed significantly. Again, we are trying to provide multiple forms of access to the major reason people use our site -- to find information resources and documents. Instead of trying to find the one best way, we have given people lots of ways. Previously we had a two column list of databases, followed by a duplicate list of databases with descriptions. It worked, but people got confused by the two columns. Now they can choose from a quick list at the very top, a linked alphabet that takes them to databases plus short descriptions that start with that letter, or scroll down to that list of databases plus short descriptions . In my humble opinion, it is not there yet, but it is closer. We need to emphasize a sophisticated form of federated search for our users, reducing the need to choose a database unless they really want to.

Another page that is, I think, all new is the ask a librarian page. Just a very different design from other pages on the site. I will be interested to see what our students make of it when we conduct usability testing. What I really like about this is that we have really expanded the potential channels of communication between our users and librarians. We now need to find ways to get those channels off the library website and out to where our users are -- Foxlink, the student intranet, Blackboard, department websites etc.

Finally, our About page has changed. The design is still as clunky as ever, but there is some new content. We have begun to recognize that most people, most of the time, do not want to know about the library. So this is the place to put access to departments, to people, to plans, etc. I am happy to see access to the current plan, and that is a wiki, so that is constantly developing. Also the calendars are now part of the wider campus calendar. This calendar system is not perfect, but I think we are on the right track when we use existing infrastructure rather than trying to make our own.

Expect to see more radical changes in the future, I think we will soon see a website that emphasis find, help, online services, communication, and interactivity, while being aesthetically pleasing and amenable to small parts being broken off and added to other webpages. In the meantime, I want to recognize the changes that have taken place so far and also complement Paul Gindlesperger and Bill Svitavsky both of Electronic Resources who have done most of the web editing and development that has got us here, and to everyone else who has participated in making these changes.

I would love to hear your comments about these changes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Harvard and Open Access

After Harvard A&S faculty made their decision, the Rollins Arts & Sciences faculty Executive Committee asked me to prepare some information about the issues associated with this decisions. I haven't heard that they are going to take this any further, perhaps it is early days yet. Here is what I gave them.

Harvard's Decision to Publish on the Web the Scholarly Work of their Faculty

Jonathan Miller


Harvard A&S Decision

“The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) voted Tuesday (Feb. 12) to give the University a worldwide license to make each faculty member’s scholarly articles available and to exercise the copyright in the articles, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit.”

“Harvard will take advantage of the license by hosting FAS faculty members’ scholarly articles in an open-access repository, making them available worldwide for free. The faculty member will retain the copyright of the article, subject to the University’s license. The repository contents can be made widely available to the public through such search engines such as Google Scholar. Faculty members may request a waiver of the license for particular articles where this is preferable. The new legislation does not apply to articles completed before its adoption.”

Open Access Movement

This is a significant move in the much larger open access (OA) movement, which generally seeks to make scholarly research literature freely accessible on the Internet. For an overview of OA see Peter Suber’s work at

The other very significant OA development in the last year was passage of a measure by Congress that made the National Institutes of Health (NIH) access policy mandatory rather than voluntary. The NIH policy “ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. It requires scientists to submit journal articles that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central (” For more information on the NIH Access Policy see

Major Issues Involved in OA

OA is a response to two developments in scholarly publishing. The first is the high rate of inflation in the price of subscriptions to scientific, technical and medical (STM) journals. These increasing costs have put enormous pressure on library budgets over the last few decades. Interestingly, this price inflation has not happened to the same extent in the humanities. Overall, for instance, the Olin Library has experienced a 9-10% annual increase in journal subscription costs. Obviously this is not sustainable and has been addressed by moving monies from book purchases to journals, cuts in journal subscriptions, cuts in other library budgets, and (occasionally) increased library budgets. This unsustainable situation has led many librarians and faculty to address the model of scholarly communication and publishing in an attempt to change the rules of the game and force down, or at least slow the rate of increase in, prices. The best example of this is can be found at Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC of which Rollins is a member.

The second issue is the growth of the Internet and digital media. As we move from print to digital publication the cost structure of distribution of scholarly literature changes. Significant cost saving can be found in the elements of journal publishing associated with printing, distribution, and storage of printed journals while the costs associated with research, peer review, editing, and design remain somewhat stable. In the print world libraries (and to some extent individuals) paid subscriptions to publishers who financed editing, design, printing, and distribution of journals. Universities and granting agencies financed research costs, and publishers and universities shared the cost of peer review. Libraries (and therefore universities) financed long term storage of the literature. In the digital world, at least where Institutional Repositories (IR) like the ones used by Harvard and the NIH are concerned, universities and granting agencies continue to finance research costs, publishers are allowed, and usually offered some incentive like the 12-month moratorium allowed in the NIH Access Policy, to participate in peer review, editing, and design, and government, granting agencies, and universities finance storage and access. Distribution costs are minimal and borne by the individual or institution downloading individual articles from the IR. This model is still new and not yet stable. It is not clear that institutions (particularly government) will accept their role as really long term archivists of this scholarly literature, and it is not clear publishers will survive to participate in peer review, editing, and design.

Another big issue in the OA movement is copyright. In the traditional print journal model, the author assigned copyright to the journal publisher who made money by selling subscriptions, reprints, and permissions. Copyright can be handled in a variety of ways in OA distribution. The author can waive copyright, effectively placing the work in the public domain for anyone to use, copy, and distribute in any way their like. Or the author can make use of a license that enables certain uses of the work, but not – for instance – republishing for commercial gain. The best examples of such licenses are to be found at Creative Commons ( Increasingly, scholarly publishers are including language in their contracts with authors that allow the author to retain certain rights in the work, specifically the right to load a copy of the manuscript to a website, or into an IR. This language varies from publisher to publishers, sometimes from journal to journal. Sometimes publishers are open to negotiating such language with authors and sometimes they adamantly oppose it. In effect what Harvard and the NIH are doing is forcing the issue. They are saying to publishers if you want to publish work by Harvard professors, or by researchers funded by the NIH, let us have a copy for our IR. We won’t resell the works, but they will be accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Publishers will have to make a business decision about whether they can continue to make money under these circumstances. If they decide they cannot, then the IR’s will seek to assume the roles relinquished by them.

Issues for Rollins

First the development of the OA movement in scholarly literature is a boon to small schools like Rollins. We could never afford a comprehensive print journal collection. The ability to access some portion of the literature freely on the web has the potential to significantly expand our student and faculty access to the journal literature. However, the instability in the system over the next couple of decades has the potential to undermine our access. Also, the varying levels of quality of IR’s and the foreseeable challenges to the peer review system will mean that librarians and faculty will only have to work harder to help students navigate these murky waters. Information literacy competencies will only become more important in the years ahead.

If Rollins faculty wanted to institute a system similar to the one that will come about as a result of the Harvard system a number of issues will have to be confronted. First, we do not have the hardware and software available on campus necessary to upload article manuscripts, organize and make them accessible via search engines like Google Scholar, and archive them for the long term. However, such systems do exist and if this is a priority could be implemented relatively quickly (I would particularly recommend investigating a system called DSpace

Secondly, we would have to face the fact that we are not Harvard and have far less bargaining power with journal publishers that Harvard. Even the Harvard A&S faculty gave themselves a get out clause “Faculty members may request a waiver of the license for particular articles where this is preferable.” ( My rather cynical guess is that this translates as, “when the publisher baulks and the faculty member is anxious to get the work published.” This issue is particularly important for untenured faculty members under pressure to publish.

Thirdly, Rollins would have to commit to very long term storage of these materials. When librarians talk about long term storage we mean centuries. Rollins is a young institution and yet we have journals in the Olin Library from the 1870’s and before. Rollins would have to agree to this level of institutional commitment. In practice this means robust back up systems, long term financing, migration of files as formats become obsolete, and constant vigilance on the part of faculty and librarians.

Finally, we would have to design a system that could actually ensure that the IR received the appropriate files from faculty members and, where necessary enforce compliance.

All of this very practical. I have been interested in an IR since I arrived, and I know Donna Cohen was before me. Many institutions have already developed IR systems to collect various digital materials (faculty research, student research, institutional publications, archival documents, etc.) and many others are revisiting the issue in the light of the Harvard decision. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this issue further with the Committee or with the wider faculty.