Sunday, June 26, 2011

Innovative Fund Raising -- ALA 2011

Most of this was not new (for any private college, but it was useful to check that.) There were a couple of things though:

The public library in Williamsport, PA has program to enable donors to support days of service. Literally, you call the library's general phone number and you hear that, "today's library services are brought to you by ...." I love this idea! What a great way to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. They are under charging at $100 per day, but I wonder if the idea would fly at Rollins? By the way, a day of service for the Olin Library would cost you $6,000, an hour just $400. Williamsport thanks donors with this card.

Gettysburg College library accepts donations to supply coffee from friends and a poster asking students to, "thank a friend for coffee!" The student all write cute thank yous on the poster and then the library publishes this in their friends newsletter.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Berlin Declaration -- ALA 2011

The Berlin Declaration is one of the founding documents of the open access movement. Berlin 9 (the first of the Berlin Open Access Conference Series to take place in North America) "convenes leaders in the science, humanities, research, funding, and policy communities around The Berlin Declaration." 

Dieter Stein talked about the changing role of librarians in an open access environment. So much of our society is based on science and "free and equal participation and access" to scientific research is a necessary foundation for participation in "democratic discourse." I was reminded of the debate around global warming. This is true on a global, as well as a national level.
He argued that open access is not just open access to the final, published end results of research, but throughout the research process and the relationship is changing between the research and the reader(s.)

Lorraine Haricombe gave a far more pragmatic presentation based on her experience at Kansas University:
  • No whining!
  • Two of David Shulberger's Seven steps:
    • 6. "Develop habits of depositing articles." (But students will respond much better to a mediated service in which library staff add manuscripts to the IR on the author's behalf.)
    • 7. "Develop PR program and outreach strategies." (Liaison librarians and faculty liaisons have been really useful in this regard.)

Lunch with Brewster Kahle and Robert Miller -- ALA 2011

Ray English arranged this lunch meeting with these two representatives of the Internet Archive. Unfortunately it was a long table at a loud restaurant, so I will have to wait for Ray's summary, but their project to create an open  lending library of digital books will definitely appear on the Oberlin Group agenda in October. Stay tuned.

ALA 2011 -- ACRL Copyright Discussion Group

ARL Fair Use Best Practices project released a report in December 2010 -- there are problems and solutions out in the community, and identifies 'points of friction.' E-reserves, access for the disabled, digitization for preservation, digital exhibits,  ILL, institutional repositories, and non-consumptive research. The project is designed to provide some kind of clear 'best practices' for libraries to follow to make appropriate, canonical, fair use of materials. Librarians end up being gatekeepers, they are on the front line for answering copyright questions.
The Center for Social Media has developed other codes and the fair use principles will follow a similar format. Expect to see the code by the end of the year.

Friday, June 24, 2011

ALA 2011 -- the exhibits

Today was my time to check out the exhibits. Two things in particular: web-scale discovery/management systems and e-books.

But first a shout out to Lexis-Nexis (bet you didn't expect to hear that on this blog!) At the last ALA I whined at their both about the absence of a mobile site for their resources. Now they have one. We will add this to our own mobile site, so stay tuned. Elsevier on the other hand has taken a different tack and created apps for Science Direct and Scopus. Good, but they really need to create a mobile friendly site(s) as well.


Even though we have Summon, I try to keep up with other major unified discovery tools. Someone from EBSCO finally explained to me why libraries would want to choose EBSCO Discovery Service even though they have to use federated searching to access none EBSCO resourses and those results are retrieved, late (of course, it is fed searching after all) and somewhat uncomfortably, to the left of the main results where students really aren't going to see them. The answer is; if you are a heavily EBSCO library EDS makes sense, particularly if you can swap even more resources to subscribe via EBSCO. EDS is basically EBSCOHost.

I also stopped by the OCLC booth to get an update on their Web Management Services, which get more impressive, comprehensive, and practical each time I check in. The big development at the moment seems to be in their electronic resources module at the moment. They are still pushing WorldCat Local as a unified discovery service and say it can provide discovery for all resources, but I think that is an over enthusiastic salesperson speaking. We shall see.


Checked in with EBL, whose non-linear lending model looks interesting. Also Project MUSE, who has a long way to go on the University  Press Content Consortium, but it looks very promising. I also stopped by the Overdrive booth. They are mostly knowne for working with public libraries, but do also contract with academic libraries. Everyone is working on downloadable copies to e-reader devices, but Overdrive is way ahead in this.

More from the Summon Advisory Board.

Other recent interesting developments include:

Things we will see in the next few weeks/months include:

A new, more scanable results lay out.
Better handling of multiple content types.
Fine tuning availability (so that users can easily and conveniently distinguish between an item available locally in fulltext and one available locally in print.)
Discipline searching -- so that we can present a "physics" slice of the database (for instance) to users to a libguide, webpage, etc.

Tammy Allgood from ASU and David Pattern from the University of Huddersfield talked about embedding Summon in sites beyond the library. For instance Tammy has been successful in placing a default Summon search box in their iteration of Blackboard, in the campus portal and marketing info all over the ASU web presence. I would really like us to do more of this. They have branded Summon as "Library One Search."
 David is using QRcodes in marketing materials to take people directly to their Summon iteration. He is also making great use of the API to liberally sprinkle access to Summon in their catalog etc. 

Andrea Michalek, of Summon, gave us some background into how relevancy is calculated and has promised to share her PowerPoint with me, it might help with the librarians, and perhaps in advanced instruction sessions.
There was lots more, but that is enough for now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summon Advisory Board at ALA 2011

Today was an all day Summon Advisory Board Meeting.

The Summon team are still focused on comprehensiveness and continuing to grow the index (currently up around 800,000,000 items, including those in local catalogs) and relevancy. They see their competition for student attention as Google. Good to see them concentrating on both comprehensiveness and relevancy.
The big issue as this ALA is Serial Solutions announcement that they are moving into the web scale management marketplace along side OCLC. Their aim is to enable libraries to "turn off their ILS." This is going to get interesting.

More news:

Database recommender is now coming from an analysis of the retrieved results.
Summon staff have spent a lot of time and money on the hardware and infrastructure underlying the system so that indexing and other good stuff can happen overnight.

More news coming very soon:

Monday, June 06, 2011

Intriguing summer reads about technology's turning society upside down.

I have added this reading list recently published by the Chronicle of Higher Education with links to available copies of the books. Interestingly, Rollins owns seven of the ten books linked here.

Geeks at the Beach

9 intriguing summer reads (and a video) about technology's turning society upside down

Technology nowadays is supposed to be disruptive—in a good way— so let it disrupt your summer vacation. Enrich it, we mean, with these provocative books. Last grades submitted? Last commencement handshake done? Take a little time to find out what's in store next year and after that: Social media might rot students' brains—or create a cognitive surplus that improves society; hackers' pranks have definitely improved aspects of MIT; and Twitter may help repressive regimes more than it aids democracy activists. Also watch a video in which a professor outlines the future of smarter robots. Most of these are available in various e-book formats as well as print, so toss your tablet computer or smartphone into the beach bag along with the flip-flops.

Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other (Basic Books). You're not as good at multitasking as you think. That's a key take-away from the latest book by Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who blends personal observations with case studies from her research on how children, teenagers, and elderly people interact with various gadgets. She's not antitechnology—her once-gushing views on virtual identity landed her on the cover of Wired magazine in the 1990s, as outlined in a Chronicle profile this year. In her new book, she argues that we're so excited about checking e-mail and Facebook that we're neglecting face-to-face relationships, but that it's not too late to make some "corrections" to our high-tech habits. It's time to turn off the BlackBerry for a few minutes and set some ground rules for blending cyberspace with personal space.—Jeffrey R. Young

Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers Into Collaborators [note: link to an earlier edition, with a different subtitle] (Penguin). The technology enthusiast Clay Shirky argues for the transformative potential of the Internet, as more people use their free time in active, collaborative projects rather than watching television. Critics have argued that this view fails to take into account yet more opportunities for passive entertainment, but Mr. Shirky, an associate teacher at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program who was featured last year in The Chronicle, points to examples such as Wikipedia and a ride-sharing Web site as proof that "the harnessing of our cognitive surplus allows people to behave in increasingly generous, public, and social ways." —Ben Wieder

The Future of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (Stanford University's YouTube channel). The dream of creating general-purpose robot helpers is back! Since he was a kid, Andrew Ng has wanted to build smart robots. Soon after becoming a computer-science professor at Stanford University, though, he advised his grad students that making all-purpose thinking machines was just too hard. But now Mr. Ng has had a breakthrough that renewed his faith in his childhood dream. In a short talk he delivered last month at a Stanford conference on new ideas, he showed off an algorithm that can be applied to different kinds of problems, so that the same algorithm can do speech recognition and also help a robot make sense of images it sees through its camera eyes. C-3PO is looking more realistic by the minute. The talk is available on Stanford's YouTube channel, proving that some of the newest academic ideas these days can be found in video form rather than text. —Jeffrey R. Young

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (Simon & Schuster) and The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) (University of California Press). The search to determine how Google came to be and how it has shaped society gets two new entries this year. For In the Plex, Steven Levy, a senior writer at Wired, interviewed hundreds of Google employees past and present, including top management—and ate countless meals at the company's Mountain View burrito joint—to document how Google grew from humble origins, in a garage belonging to friends of the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, to its current ubiquity. The implications form the subject of Siva Vaidhyanathan's Googlization of Everything. Mr. Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies and law at the University of Virginia and frequent contributor to The Chronicle Review, reminds readers that they aren't consumers of Google's offerings. Rather, their use of Google's services is the product it sells to advertisers. Both books look at the continuing evolution of the Google Books settlement as a key test of how far the company's reach could extend and a sign of how the perception of Google has changed from that of scrappy upstart with a clever motto, "Don't be evil," to global behemoth accused by some of being just that. —Ben Wieder

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Knopf). Is the Internet on its way to getting monopolized? That question underlies Tim Wu's The Master Switch. The eccentric Columbia Law School professor—he's known to dress up as a blue bear at the annual Burning Man festival—recounts how ruthless companies consolidated their power over earlier information industries like the telephone, radio, and film. So which tech giant seems likely to grab control of the net? Let's just say you probably won't see Steve Jobs reading Mr. Wu's book on the beach this summer. —Marc Parry

Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century (Polity Press). To judge by the sometimes breathless news stories about publishing in the digital age, it feels like we're perpetually on the verge of a tipping point, when e-books will overtake print books as a source of revenue for publishers. John B. Thompson, a sociologist at the University of Cambridge, analyzes the inner workings of the contemporary trade-publishing industry. (He did the same for scholarly publishing in an earlier work, Books in the Digital Age.) Mr. Thompson examines the roles played by agents, editors, and authors as well as differences among small, medium, and large publishing operations, and he probes under the surface of the great digital shift. We're too hung up on the form of the book, he argues: "A revolution has taken place in publishing, but it is a revolution in the process rather than a revolution in the product."—Jennifer Howard
The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (PublicAffairs). Sure, the 2009 rebellion in Iran was on Twitter. The uprising in Lebanon and pro-democracy movements in Russia and China also made Facebook and even old-fashioned e-mail. But technology is actually doing far more to bolster authoritarian regimes than to overturn them, writes Evgeny Morozov in this sharp reality check on the media-fueled notion that information is making everybody free. Mr. Morozov, a visiting scholar at Stanford University, points out that the Iranian government posted "most wanted" pictures of protesters on the Web, leading to several arrests. The Muslim Brotherhood blogs actively in Egypt. And China pays people to make pro-authority statements on the Internet, paying a few cents for each endorsement. The Twitter revolution, in this book, is "overblown and completely unsubstantiated rhetoric."—Josh Fischman

Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT (MIT Press). The word "hacking" is said to have originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, sometimes referring to students' ingenious pranks involving the university's iconic buildings. The tradition of engineering-related pranks on the campus is celebrated in this well-illustrated coffee-table book by T.F. Peterson (described as "MIT historian" but actually a nom de plume hack), just released in an updated edition. One of the glossy photos shows a fire truck placed on campus's Great Dome in 2006 to commemorate the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 2001. MIT even employs a team of security officials charged with removing hacks, though they agree to let the most clever and harmless stunts stay around for a few days. —Jeffrey R. Young

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (Norton). Multimedia—dangerous! Online research—depthless! Classroom screens—dubious! If you want a contrarian take on technology, Nicholas Carr is your man. In The Shallows, just out in paperback, the Colorado-based author warns that the Internet is rewiring our brains and short-circuiting our ability to think. And that has big consequences for teaching, he told The Chronicle last year: "The assumption that the more media, the more messaging, the more social networking you can bring in will lead to better educational outcomes is not only dubious but in many cases is probably just wrong."—Marc Parry