Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New website

Since the very beginning of this blog I have written about the Olin library website. I am delighted to be able to say that we are very close to having a new website. The image here is the home page, notice there is no great verbiage to wade through. We think most people come tot he library online to search for and find information. So the first thing you get is access to our iteration of Summon, and subject and title access to databases. Clustered around that is the ability to navigate to more specific kinds of searches, and information about, or services of, the library.

Some of the links still don't work, some of the images are stock images, but you get the idea. I have to give a big thank you to Paul Gindlesperger for all his work in coding this site. At the beginning of the fall term we got access to the college CMS and began writing our new site. Over the fall we have had numerous meetings about what we want it to look like and how we want it function. We have tried to design it based on these principles.

  1. Our top priority is enabling our users to find the information they seek.
  2. We seek to help relative novice student users, while enabling more sophisticated users to get what they need in a familiar "native mode" or via quick shortcuts.
  3. The website should include a significant education component, and not assume that users are in the building or can seek in person help.
  4. It should be aesthetically gorgeous.
  5. Information about us, our services, facilities, or resources, that are key to our users use of the (online and physical) library are of primary importance (e.g. hours, phone #, etc.). Other information about us is secondary (e.g. history, statistics, etc.)
  6. Metadata should be consistent and not hide us from search engines (on and off campus)
  7. If we disagree on architecture, nomenclature, etc. usability testing will be used to decide the outcome.
  8. Pages should be coded so that we continuously collect data about usage etc.
  9. We use that data and usability testing to make decisions about revisions of the site.
  10. The site should be efficiently maintained, hopefully by a variety of people in the library.
We hope to launch it early in the spring, and then take the spring semester to do usability testing, and refine the site.

I would love to hear your reactions to it. What do you think we have got right? Wrong?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

For all my northern friends

My brother just sent me a photo of snow on the hills outside Lancaster, so I sent him this to show him what he is missing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

More on the Google Book Search Settlement

The library associations are right on this one. As I wrote in an earlier post, the usefulness of Google Book Search will come down to the price of the institutional licenses for libraries. The original libraries that opened their collections to Google for scanning did so because they thought that the resulting digitized texts would be available to their users and everyone else. Librarians did not participate in this to create a huge new revenue stream for the heirs of death authors and for brain dead publishers. If that was the deal, those authors and publishers could have rummaged through their own libraries to find the copies to digitize.

Reading Books on Smartphones.

Flurry is a mobile computing research company based in San Fransisco. Their research supports my (and many others) claim that smartphone will be the ultimate book reader. "The sharp rise in eBook activity on the iPhone indicates that Apple is positioned take market share from the Amazon Kindle as it did from the Nintendo DS. Despite the smaller form factor of the display, we predict that the iPhone will be a significant player in the book category of the Media & Entertainment space."

Read the full post here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Matching teaching to learning styles

Interesting article in the Chronicle today, Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style May Not Help Students.

"... teachers should worry about matching their instruction to the content they are teaching. Some concepts are best taught through hands-on work, some are best taught through lectures, and some are best taught through group discussions."

So what is the best "teaching style" for library instruction content? I suppose a further question is, does all library instruction all into one style of content? In general I would argue that most classic library instruction is about skills acquisition and development, which would suggest kinesthetic learning (learning through practical hands on experience.) Very often we reduce that to hands on computer work with library services and resources, sometimes supplemented with hands on work with printed materials.

But what is the "practice" is the verbalization of thought and decision making in the content of information retrieval and analysis? Can thinking be hands on?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Is the Great Recession the Tipping Point for the Book Industries?

Will we look back twenty years from now and see our current Great Recession as a tipping point for the book industries (writing books and about books, publishing, distribution (bookstores, libraries, online, etc.)?

This week we just learnt that Baker & Taylor, and their academic library book vendor subsidiary YBP, has bought Blackwell. This is a very significant move towards monopoly in the academic library book sales market. While there are still other players in the marketplace -- Ambassador, Midwest Library Services, Coutts -- YBP will dominate. But they will dominate a market that, in terms of the portion of library collection budgets spent on books, continues to shrink. Basically, it seems in this recession Blackwell could not compete in the US market.

Now today I read this story in the New York Times that Kirkus Review is closing down as well. It was always one of the major reviewing venues for librarians. As the ways in which professionals and readers alike find out about recently published books continue to change, Kirkus could survive and this recession struck the coup de grace.

There are many other examples (the rise of the Kindle and Nook, and Google Book Search come to mind) but those two will do for this week.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Noise and Space in Club Olin

I couldn't have put it better myself, than TJ Fisher in the latest issue of the Sandspur

"As the time comes for spending hours upon hours in the library, the most important thing to remember is to be considerate and respectful of those around you. Do not make noise or hold group discussions where there are quiet study signs, and try not to take up all the high demand real estate in the library for catching a couple Zs between study sessions."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

How good is Summon?

So I am in my Faculty Evaluation Committee meeting today, at which the committee decides on my tenure, serious business. Half way through the meeting a professor says, "By the way, that R-Search is great. My students love it. I love it!"

This doesn't often happen with other library services ....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wayne Wiegand at Rollins

Wayne is the F. William Summers Professor of Library and Information Studies and Professor of American Studies at Florida State University and currently a resident scholar in the Winter Park Institute.

More importantly he is the dean of American library history and we are really lucky to have him with us here at Rollins. This semester he has been teaching a class on censorship and part of a book discussion group that has been discussing the issues raised by Sven Birkerts' Gutenberg Elegies: the fate of reading in an electronic age. At the moment a couple of our librarians are working with him to organize a seminar/workshop/discussion group next semester for librarians and others on a topic of interest -- more on that later. What I want to let everyone know now is that he will be giving a public lecture on Wednesday November 18th on “Main Street Public Library; Community Places and Reading Spaces in the Heartland, 1865-1965” at 7pm in the Suntrust Auditorium in the Crummer School on Rollins campus.

If you are at all interested in libraries, community spaces, reading and are anywhere near central Florida on the 18th I hope you will consider coming. It is free and open to the public.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Open Access Week

Did you know this week is Open Access Week? We are not making a particularly big deal about it here at Rollins because it comes just a bit too early in an effort on campus to pass an Open Access Policy concerning A&S faculty publications.

If you are not even sure what open access is, take a look at this great little video.

Open Access 101, from SPARC from Karen Rustad on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why does college tuition continue to rise?

This is a big question and lots of people have weighed in on it. Many agree that one contributing factor is that the costs of higher education rise more quickly than the CPI. One small part of those costs are library collection costs -- particularly continued journal price inflation. Recently we saw a particularly egregious example of this when the Nature Publishing Group (NPG) raised institutional subscription prices on their new acquisition, Scientific American from $39.95 per year, to an amazing $299 per year. Three hundred bucks is not such a big figure in comparison with the hundreds of thousands of dollars we spend each year on library materials but a single order of magnitude increase does get my attention.

So this time we did not just roll over and take it.

I organized my Oberlin Group colleagues to sign a joint letter to NPG and publicized the letter with the media. Our ultimate hope is that NPG will reconsider this decision and revoke this price increase. If the letter doesn't achieve this, then I expect the marketplace will. Rollins, along with a number of other college libraries, have already cancelled their subscriptions.

Monday, September 28, 2009

20th Anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall

Professor Nancy Decker's German students are organizing a party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall in October 1989. They have erected a huge polystyrene version of a section of the wall and placed it outside the library in the atrium. As you can see from the pictures it is certainly dramatic. The top photo is the east side (plain except for the names of people who died trying to cross the wall.) The bottom on is decorated with graffiti, like the west side of the original. On October 3, they will move it to Mills Lawn, the symbolic heart of campus and destroy it during a party.

The opening of the wall, the reunification of Germany and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, was one of the most significant periods of my life. They were events that I had grown up never expecting to see. Most of our incoming class were not even born when the wall came down.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Think You Are Really Going To Like R-Search

The holy grail of academic libraries for the last few years has been a search engine that rivals Google in attracting our students. Even pre-Google we knew we had to find some way of making searching, and more importantly finding, the good stuff in libraries easier.

Originally we thought dumping everything into our catalog or into our Integrated Library System (in our case, Sirsi) might be the answer, but those systems were designed to retrieve records of books and harked back to the old card catalog.

Then we thought we might be able to develop a "scholar's workstation" in some form, but that never really panned out.

Recently we thought federated searching might do the job, but lowest common denominator searching and the need to connect to multiple databases in real time led to slow and inappropriately displayed results that frustrated users and (even more) reference librarians.

I am over holy grails, but R-search, our name for Serial Solutions Summon service, is really cool. No more choosing databases, clean single search box, fulltext just one click away, intuitive limits and refining of search results, and nice previews. I think students are going to love this.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, September 11, 2009

WorldCat Local quick start

Here at Rollins we have been playing with OCLC's Quick Start for WorldCat Local. Playing being the operative word. It is really easy to set this up and it has some interesting potential.

Could this replace our OPAC? With the interesting reframing of our collection within the larger WorldCat collection (once again de-centering our catalog.)

The interface is clean, and includes the nice link to electronic content, and to ILL. I also like the limiting features that are all the rage in library databases these days.

But what is the relationship between this and When I search Google I come across WorldCat records. When I click on a record I go to the generic WorldCat record, not the WorldCat Local record. What would OCLC have to do to change that? Because that is true web scale discovery: web search and local retrieval.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Teaching RCC

I have been kinda quiet this summer, working on my garden and preparing to teach RCC this Fall. The latter has given me a new understanding of teaching faculty. This is a lot of work! particularly since this is new prep for me and I haven't been able to find a good textbook for the course (there are reasonable ones on the invention of writing and the proliferation of media since the nineteenth century, but not one that does both) an introduction to the history of recorded information. Here is the course description:

"Why do almost all humans learn to speak and understand language as infants, but we don't all learn to read and write, and if we do it is difficult and we do it much later? The answer is that writing is a technology rather than an innate part of being human. This course will be an introduction to the history of recorded information focusing on the moments of technological change: from orality to literacy, from scroll to codex, from manuscript to print, and the one we are currently living through, i.e., from print to digital. We will see examples of some of these technologies in the Library's Special Collections. We will participate in weekly field trips to an Elementary School in Orlando to help students there learn to read. We will also visit the Orlando Sentinel office as the employees of that newspaper go through this digital revolution. This course will help you better understand what we can and cannot learn from history, what is happening around you as some daily newspapers go out of business and books can be read on your iPhone, and your role as agents of change."

Here is a list of all the books (there are a bunch of articles and blog entries as well, but these are the books) from which I selected readings for this course and how to locate them at Rollins and beyond.

Casson, Lionel. Libraries in the Ancient World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press, 1983. (see also her The Printing Press as an Agent of Change."

Hessler, Peter. Oracle Bones: A Journey between China's Past and Present. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.

Houston, Stephen D. The First Writing: Script Invention As History and Process. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Johns, Adrian. The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Manguel, Alberto. A History of Reading. New York: Viking, 1996.

McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore. The Medium Is the Massage. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.

McNeely, Ian F., and Lisa Wolverton. Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008.

O'Donnell, James Joseph. Avatars of the Word: From Papyrus to Cyberspace. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1998.

Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Methuen, 1982.

Plato and William S. Cobb. The Symposium: and, The Phaedrus ; Plato's Erotic Dialogues. SUNY Series in Ancient Greek philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

Roberts, Colin H., and T. C. Skeat. The Birth of the Codex. London: Published for the British Academy by the Oxford University Press, 1983.

Stephens, Mitchell. A History of News: From the Drum to the Satellite. New York: Penguin Books, 1989.

Trithemius, Johannes. In Praise of Scribes. De Laude Scriptorum. Lawrence, Kan: Coronado Press, 1974.

There are a huge number of readings I could have chosen from, if you have any suggestions, let me know.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Good News In interlibrary loan.

When a user asks how long it takes to get a book or article via ILL, or we mention it during an instruction session, we usually say, "plan on two weeks."
Well Melanie just gave me the report for the last academic year and she has shaved a considerable amount of time off those two weeks. On average, for articles, it takes less than 10 days from the user placing the request to them being notified that the item is available for them to view or print, and less than seven days for books. Overall, on average it takes nine days. That includes weekends and holidays.
Even better, she managed to do this while ILL borrowing increased from 1731 in 2007-08 to 3150 in 2008-09. Even better, she has a couple of things in the works (ILL Direct for books and RapidILL for articles) that should shave even more time off those numbers.
Congratulations Melanie, you get a pickle!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What are people saying about your library?

There has been this really interesting discussion in the ALA group at LinkedIn recently about how to monitor the reputation of your library in "cyberspace." People use the following tools:

Dogpile -- which captures the ones above and MySpace, FaceBook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter
LinkedIn application called Company Buzz

Emily InLow-Hood mentioned that Beth Kanter had some good ideas about this as well. can you think of any others?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Recycling the Shelflist

Part of the R2 project means the shelflist is redundant. We should have probably done this many years ago, but better late than never. We decided to make quite a big deal out of retiring the beast as a way of making our community more aware of our move from print to digital.
At the end of May we offered individual cards to faculty and staff and a lot of people took us up on the offer to get a card for the books they wrote, or favorite titles. Last week the cabinets were offered to the highest bidder (the big ones went for $200 and the small ones for $120. Amazing.)
On Friday the staff recycled the remaining cards. It took 125 years to build the list and just 35 minutes to recycle it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Multimedia Online

The issue of how to provide access to audio and video content for our users will appear in our strategic plan as we update it this summer. Since the advent of CDs and then DVDs we have been relatively stable in this area. We buy quite a few DVDs and have a small collection of CDs. The DVDs are still heavily used, the CDs not so much.

We have already subscribed to the Naxos Music Library and Classical Music Library services that stream audio to authorized users. We have options to subscribe to more music services, and of course our students are accessing far more via services like iTunes.

Video is coming up close behind. Obviously on the open web services like YouTube are making video content much more accessible than it used to be and Neilsen is reporting that, while traditional TV still dwarfs video viewed over the Internet, Internet viewing is growing fast.

The question facing libraries is how do we participate in this move to multimedia content over the Internet with the particular issues that face information providers like libraries? These include:

  • We provide content free to authorized end users.
  • Instructors rely on the library to make scheduling of content for classroom use convenient.
  • The content we want to distribute includes far more high-value content (professional films, movies, documentaries, etc. ) than the open web. Content that is usually subject to copyright and access restrictions.
  • We are very concerned about the cost structures (annual subscriptions, purchase, etc.) and how sustainable these are.
  • We are very concerned about preservation over the very long term and the corollary: migration of previously collected content to new formats and platforms.
  • We are concerned about description, discovery, and retrieval of content.
All these makes video content over the web from your library a tough nut to crack. But there are beginning to be services out there that are interesting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Open Access to my dissertation

Yeah, OK, this is just yet another shameless plug for my dissertation. How long is he going to milk this PhD? You may ask.

But honestly, I have a much higher purpose. For the last few years the University of Pittsburgh, my alma mater, has required that dissertations be submitted in digital form. They are then made accessible via the university's ETD site. This is another example of an institutional repository (IR.) In this case a repository for a specific type of document; theses and dissertations. But it could serve up any kind of document or file. Other common IR's store and provide access to student work, organizational documents, scholarly articles, and archival materials. We are currently exploring how to create one here at Rollins around the products of our faculty/student research program. More on that to come.

If you are brave enough to dip into my dissertation, take a look at page iii, the copyright statement. I have agreed to allow access under a Creative Commons attribution share alike license so that, even if you access the document via ProQuest's Digital Dissertations, it is clear that you have more rights to use it that they might ordinarily allow you.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wolfram Alpha

This is the latest search engine (is that even the right phrase? Wolfram Alpha themselves call it a "computational knowledge engine") that is sweeping the web this month

It isn't even live yet, but the high digirati have seen demos and are very excited. If you were at the FLA Conference you heard Richard Maddaus mention it.

It sounds as though it could be good for data and number crunching questions, but I always remember one of my ultimate reference questions, "How long was Christ's ministry?" I will enjoy seeingwhat it does with that.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Twitter at Olin

Dorothy has set up a Twitter account for Olin. Take a look and let me know what you think.
By the way, I was adding txt message tweats today from the FLA Conference from my mobile phone, TR was doing the same from his iPhone, and this blog post is also being written on my phone.
Mobile is not only about consuming information, but also creating it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Our first video!

Congrats to TR Parker and Nadia Johnson for producing this great video that you can now find on our homepage. Hopefully the first of many.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Google Book Search Settlement

I have been thinking about the impact of the impending Google Book Search settlement on libraries like Rollins.

There have been a number of good summaries of the settlement including Jonathan Band's for the ARL. Also good commentary from Robert Darton (and Paul Courant response), Lawrence Lessig, Siva Vaidhyanathan, and Mike Madison (who has links to others.) The ALA et al. have also decided to submit comments to the court. But here is a really short summary of the 200 page plus settlement. I would be delighted to hear any comments and corrections.

  1. The settlement will end the class action suit brought by the publishers and authors for copyright infringement of their rights in copyrighted works digitized by Google. It does not affect those materials digitized by Google that are in the public domain.
  2. Google will continue to digitize in-copyright books and will enable users to search the entire contents of these digitized books.
  3. Google will generate revenue from advertising and by selling the ability to see the fulltext of digitized books.
  4. Rightsholders can set the price of books,if they do not Google will set the price in a range between $1.99 and $29.99. 51%will be priced in $5.99. These prices can be changed based on sales data. the pricing structure will be renegotiated at regular intervals.
  5. A Book Rights Registry (BRR) will be created to distribute payments from Google to rightsholders when Google displays more than the "snippets" it currently displays for works in copyright.
  6. Google will retain 37% of the revenue, 63% will go to the BRR. Initially Google will pay $45,000,000 to the BRR for copyrighted materials scanned before January 2009.
  7. The settlement excludes periodicals, musical notation and lyrics, unpublished papers, books published in the U.S. that are not registered with the Copyright Office, and books published after January 5th, 2009.
  8. The settlement is organized in terms of three groups of books: those in the public domain, those in copyright but not commercially (out of print) and those in copyright and commercially available (in print.)
  9. Rightsholders can opt out of the settlement, can remove specific books from the Google system, or vary the basic rules of the settlement for specific titles. Band for one expects that publishers will do this for their titles that are in print and therefore the settlement will basically cover out of print, in copyright books. Google estimates this at about 70% of published works. However, the University of Michigan has received for an IMLS grant that aims to clarify the copyright status of books published after 1923 and before 1963 because they think a large proportion of these works are orphan works, or have fallen out of copyright because rights holders did not complete all the necessary formalities to ensure or renew copyright.
  10. Rightsholders of inserts (forewords, essays, tables, illustrations, etc.) in other works can choose not to have those displayed,though they cannot choose to have the whole book removed from the Google Book Project.
  11. The settlement is also organized in terms of three user groups: all users, public libraries and universities, and institutions.
  12. The settlement recognizes various types of libraries that have contributed books from their collection to the project: fully participating libraries, cooperating libraries,public domain libraries, and other libraries. Since Rollins has not contributed any books to the project none of these apply to us.
  13. The settlement also includes some non-exclusivity terms that mean that libraries and rights holders (publishers) can continue to digitize outside of the Google Book Project.
  14. The fully participating libraries will also be allowed to create two centers that will host the "research corpus." The Research Corpus is the entire contents of the Google Book Project and can be used -- on and off0site - for non-consumptive research (image analysis and text extraction, textual or linguistic analysis, and research on automated translation, indexing and search. Basically research that does not involve understanding the intellectual content of the text.
  15. Finally, Google has agreed to provide free search,the permitted displays,the Public Access Services (PAS) to public and academic libraries and and institutional subscriptions for 85% of the in copyright, but out of print digitized books in the project within five years.if not, the fully participating libraries or the BRR can find someone else to do it.

For details of what various users will be able to do and under what circumstances see this table. Many people are interested in research libraries, the libraries that have provided the copies of the books google is scanning, but what does this mean for Rollins and liberal arts college libraries like us if this settlement goes through?

There will be one PAS terminal in the Olin Library. If the price is right, which is by no means certain, we will be able to subscribe so that students, faculty, and staff can access the fulltext of the books in the database on-campus. The price is likely to be somewhat similar to the price of other large scale e-book vendors' collections like NetLibrary, ebrary, etc. but since the collection will be so much larger, it might well be totally unreasonable. We will know this before December 2009. But it is not at all clear whether we would be able to offer remote access. If we are able to subscribe, it is unlikely that we will simply load the records of such books into our OPAC because these millions of titles would overwhelm our collection of about 300,000 books. But we might well index the Google Book Search titles in a meta discovery tool like the upcoming Summon (from SerialsSolutions) so that users can easily find titles in Google Books while searching a wide array of sources. It will have a radical impact on interlibrary loan of books, aiding discovery in some cases and thus increasing interlibrary loan, and enabling some users to get what they need from a book without interlibrary loaning it, and thus decreasing interlibrary loan in others. But I don't think we will be able to ILL books from Google to users elsewhere. There will some ability to link to titles form Blackboard. It will also probably be an aid for us in weeding the collection, increasing the cases in which a little used book can be withdrawn because we can rely for a low level of use on the digitized copy in the Book Project. It probably will not have too much impact on new book purchases since digital access to in copyright and in print books will be severely limited. It could be a great opportunity for statewide cooperation. I wonder if Google would be prepared (or be able to persuade publishers) to negotiate access to every academic library in Florida or better yet every resident of Florida via the State Library? Publishers have shown a distinct lack of foresight in this regard so far, so I am not sure that is going to happen.

I have to end on a note of caution. I am glad to see the non-exclusivity terms of the agreement. This means that other digitization projects can continue. But this 800lbs gorilla in the room will definitely dampen others' enthusiasm to embark on mass digitization projects. But as David Courant of Michigan has pointed out, those haven't got too far anyway. If this agreement goes through, Google will have established a very strong market position as an early entrant; that, combined with its dominance of search, will make it tough to beat in the oh-so-unprofitable world of book distribution. There's the rub: we have created a monopoly player that will dominate one of the most important expressions of our cultural heritage and knowledge base -- books.

Imagine if we created just one library that had almost every book published before 2009 and that library was a publicly traded company that made money through advertising to its users and selling services associated with its collections. Well, we just did.

The immediate impacts on our work described above are just the beginning. I think this settlement and Google Book Search in general will have huge, long term, and tough to imagine effects on libraries and publishing.

Monday, March 30, 2009

NITLE Summit Meeting

I am in Philadelphia at the 2009 NITLE Summit.

  • Some good posters last night. Including ones on students using video blogs to reflect on their learning experiences at Emory & Henry College, the DELI initiative from Connecticut College in wich they support courses with digital technologies like a video iPod for each student in a language course, and Project Bamboo.
  • This morning I was at a session on Ithaka's focus group study of undergraduate research by Sambrina Manville.
  • Cheap video at sites like YouTube and JayCut. QuickTime Pro (but that costs about $30.) Placestories. Here is an example from Jay Cut, done in real time using video (the bad, dark red one) from my phone. If I can do it, so can you.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Collection Development and Resource Sharing Conference, Tallahassee

Roy Ziegler of FSU organized a really good conference to discuss the Janus Challenges. I went as part of an effort I am involved in to help academic libraries escape their public/private college/university silos and cooperate a bit better than they have in the past. I was part of a panel of library directors that spoke at the end of the conference.

There is a real chance that we can make some significant progress in expanding cooperation over the next few years. This is good because the future for a stand alone college library is not good. I am not sure the model, particularly in terms of collections, is sustainable over the long term.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pope Works to Improve Information Literacy of Curia

I love this.

“I have been told that consulting the information available on the Internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on,” Benedict wrote. “I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.”

As the ACRL Information Literacy Guidelines put it:

  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Communication mash up

I have just been appointed to a new committee on campus that is investigating unified communication. Our aged phone switch is dying and it seems like a good point to look at whether we can update communications systems on campus by bringing together your desk phone, cell phone and your computer and also introduce all kinds of features like converting voicemail to e-mail, integrating instant messaging and web conferencing.

This has the potential to be of great interest to the library. Many of the librarians are feeling somewhat trapped at the reference desk. they like to roam, but the Meebo chat window and the askalibrarian e-mail inbox, never mind the phone keeps drawing them back. If they could use smartphones to deal with all those media of communication they could roam a lot further, into the stacks, the labs, and into other buildings.

I would like to hear your comments about this project.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New bookstore in town

On my long run today I passed a new bookstore -- The Book Worm -- on the corner of Bumby and E. Washington. It was closed when I went past but I took a look in the window and it looks like a reasonable used book store. Worth a visit I think, and yes Bill, they sell comics.

It is right next door to a Mexican restaurant so I think I hear a lunch time road trip coming up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More on mobile computing

This was an issue at ALA Midwinter. I saw an interesting mention in the New York Times today.

The article starts out about the Kindle 2, but quickly moves on to two other issues, reading books on mobile phones and then who gets to make money from same -- the device vendors or the publishers. Here are some quotes about the former (links added by me).

"Perhaps most significantly, Amazon said it would start selling e-books that can be read on mobile phones and other devices, although Amazon did not say when it would do so or which devices would be compatible."

"Amazon also announced a new feature, Whispersync, which would allow readers to begin a book on one Kindle and continue, at the same point in the text, on another Kindle or a mobile phone."

"Amazon faces a serious challenge from Google, which has scanned some seven million books, many of them out of print. Google said last week that it would soon sell books from its publishing partners for reading on mobile devices like the iPhone from Apple and phones running Google’s Android operating system."

"Several companies have created e-book programs for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, which have been downloaded more than a million times."

The section ends with this prediction from Jeff Bezos. "Reading on these kinds of gadgets might be fine when waiting in line in the supermarket, but that most people would want a dedicated device with a specialized screen for reading."

I don't think Bezos is right about that, but we shall see.

Monday, February 09, 2009

What do we do with the shelflist?

If you have taken a look at my recent Facebook photo album recently (who am I kidding, why would you?) You know that we recently closed the shelflist. At the end of the semester we will dispose of it --cards and cabinet.

So, the question is: what do we do with it? Here are some ideas:


  1. Give the faculty cards representing their own books.
  2. Give people cards for favorite books.


  1. Auction individual sections off as wine cabinets.

So what ideas do you have?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Weird social networking moment

I just realized I had five tabs open in my web browser: A Multipoint Interactive Videoconferencing session from NITLE, a private wiki from Pbwiki about cooperation amongst academic libraries in Florida, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and now Blogger.

Synchronicity? Overkill? Just the way we work now?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Midwinter -- 5 Communicating with users

Here are a few things I want to find someone to try at Olin.

Set up a Flickr account, take a couple of dozen photos per week of people in the library, services, resources, events, etc , tag them, and add them to the site and see if it drives traffic to our website.

Create a Youtube video of the same kind of stuff every week, embed it in the website front page, and see what happens.

This is something that Bill and Paul have talked about before; the Libx Firefox plugin -- get it on all lab machines, staff PCs, do some training, maybe a Captivate file and see how people use it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Midwinter 4 -- Mobile computing

I have been interested in computing from cell phones and PDAs for a while. I think the reader device of choice will be the cell phone. Not because it is the best, but because it is the most convenient. People are already reading vast quantities of text from their cell phones via texting and in some cases e-mail. But phones like the iPhone, with reasonable browsers are making reading even more from that little screen a real option for more and more people.
Now OCLC is in the game -- see for WorldCat from your cell phone. If your phone has GPS capabilities (like the iPhone) then it will even show the library closest to you that owns the book. Olin Library really needs to make a mobile friendly version of its website. Like the Washington Post for example, which is my current favorite phone reading site.

Other vendors, like ProQuest and SerialsSolutions are talking about this, but I see no evidence of progress yet. Our students should be able to download fulltext on to their cell phones, or send records via text message or otherwise to their phones. From our catalogs they should be able to download a record to their phone (or search the OPAC directly from their phone) and then wander the aisles of the stacks until their phone beeps when they are close to the location of the book. they should be able to access a database via their phone from the classroom and share the results with other phone users in the class.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Midwinter --3. Google for libraries?

At the Serials Solutions breakfast they introduced a new beta product, Summon.
Jane Burke described federated searching as a, "mature technology" well if that is mature then it is going nowhere because it sucks. But this new product is quite cool.
They want you to think of it as Google for libraries or a 'unified discovery tool." Lots of people have said that before, including many federated search fans, but this really is impressive. They pre-index your content (since their Knowledge Base already knows what databases you have access to and what digital content you subscribe to.) The user searches in a very Google like interface and gets immediate access to fulltext with one click. Expect to hear more about this. Now it just depends on how they price it. If we can ditch MARC records for digital journals in the catalog, the federated searching module, and perhaps iLink for our OPAC, this might be worth it.

Blogging from Midwinter -- 2

Saturday was open access day for me.

SCOAP3 is an emerging Open Access (OA) project. In which the money previously directed to publishers for High Energy Physics (HEP) journal subscriptions is redirected to SCOAP3 (at CERN) which then negotiates with publishers for peer review costs and the publishers agree to provide open access the resulting articles. Libraries initially pay the same money,in the future they may pay less.
Sounds wacky to me. It depends on the fact that authors of HEP articles are placing their research in and readers are reading them there. The only value provided by the publishers is as organizers of peer-review and as the final standard archive for authors, Promotion & Tenure (P&T) committees, funding agencies, etc.
It may work in a highly organized field of scholarly communication like HEP,but I doubt it is model for many others. Ultimately you have to ask yourself, if no one is reading the final journals why are we publishing them? Why not take the money and instead of transferring it to publishers,just organize the peer review yourselves? After all, the HEP researchers at CERN and elsewhere are the heart of the peer review system. The publishers are just managers and paper pushers. Also the journals' role as standards and archives has been built up over many decades because they are read. They are the way this scholarly community communicates. If that is no longer true then P&T committees etc. will eventually look elsewhere (e.g. for evidence of quality. Why not speed the process along?

Later in the day I was at the SPARC Forum on the OEM (Open Education Movement) think of this as OA to textbooks, syllabi, course materials, etc. Here are some links that might interest you:

The Cape Town Declaration

Flat World knowledge
Open Courseware at MIT
Make Textbooks Affordable. A PIRG that works to make textbooks more affordable.

All interesting stuff and worth a look.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blogging from Midwinter 2009 -- 1

For the next few days I will be adding some entries from ALA Midwinter in Denver.

Library Workforce Development Really no crisis here. Employers -- libraries -- will adjust. They will stop doing certain things they can't find suitable candidates for at the right price, reposition others as non-MLS positions, and find automated solutions to others. In the meantime library schools will ramp up production of new MLS students if they have students clamoring to get in. Students will only do so if well paying jobs are out there with a good ROI for the cost of the degree (which means an expection of a career,not just a first job.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The inauguration

We had a wonderful event in the library on Tuesday January 20th. About 50 people showed up. We just gathered around the plasma, since the cable in the Bib Lab was inexplicably not working, turned up the sound, and watched the historic events unfold on the Mall in Washington.

This was the latest in a series of political events in the library that started soon after I arrived with a viewing party for the 2006 mid term election, continued with the Super Tuesday primary. I was then delighted to work with the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership on campus on a big election night viewing party on Mills Lawn in November. But this one was special.