Saturday, January 16, 2010

ALA Midwinter 2010 Saturday

Went to the Ebrary breakfast to be underwhelmed by their new DASH product. Basically you get to add pdf's to your Ebrary account. This means you get to take advantage of the great Ebrary search and info management features, but the documents you load aren't openly available on the web, just to your users. I suppose if a library had an Ebrary account but not an institutional repository then it might be helpful, but it feels like a solution in search of a problem. It is hardly difficult to find ways to load and make pdf's available to campus these days.

Then a session on getting librarians involved in legislative advocacy. Like most of these events, the panel told lots of war stories to the sparse audience about how much fun and how easy this is. I am not convinced these help others get involved. I am thinking about ways to organize Marilyn Ochoa's and my session at FLA in April (see page 7 of the preliminary program) to be more productive. Role playing? Actual calling and e-mailing from the session? Detailed, specific information for participants?

I spent some time at this conference looking at other players in the developing unified discovery service marketplace. Primo from Ex Libris clearly grows out of the company's ILS roots, just as Summon grows out of Serials Solutions' e-journal roots. Ex Libris are very proud of their known item searching, because they are listening to their customers (librarians) not the end user. EBSCO's contender is based on database, rather than article, searching (perhaps a distinction without a difference.) It has all the great features of EBSCO host searching, and is using federated searching to get to stuff they cannot get permission to pre-index. These resources are presented in the bottom right. It is a sensible, if unfortunate, solution. You can get WorldCat records this way (presumably they use the WorldCat API) quite cheaply, or they can be pre-indexed for beaucoup bucks. This could be a fall back position for Summon if they get serious about putting WorldCat in their service.

Then I went to listen to the big guys' take on the future role of academic libraries at the Elsevier 12th Digital Libraries Symposium: The New Role and Image of Academic Libraries (sorry it is not online yet, but will probably be here when it is.) Wendy Lougee (Minnesota) talked about their study of how their libraries fit into the research process and how that is changing (she talked about the "diffuse library", a somewhat old idea but a great phrase, and the libraries providing expertise, process, sensemaking and consultation), William Tabb (John Hopkins) gave a "how we done it good in my library" talk but made it sound important as only an ARL director can, and Carol Tenopir (Tennessee) talked about her study of the value research libraries provide in the grant money acquisition process (for research intensive institutions they provide great ROI, for teaching intensive ones they don't: big surprise. I am simplifying, but she based this on library materials cited in grant proposals and the value the grant writer/researcher placed on them. It would be more interesting to know how the grant reviewer to office valued them and if you could control for other variables and look at change in grants monies and library materials funding over time.)

Perhaps the most useful thing I picked up there was this issue of their Connect newsletter, all about libraries and mobile technology.

1 comment:

Tish said...

Just to clarify, users may share collections created using DASH! with other institutions and freely on the web too (as long as they have rights of course). Additionally, while DASH! is in beta, ebrary can help libraries do with the process, which by the way, should be automated in the near future.

Also note that ebrary does offer special training on how to use DASH! Librarians can sign up at