Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Fall Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group

The Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG) comprises educational and commercial institutions that meet semi-annually. Sun Microsystems and Stanford University are the main sponsors of PASIG, so the fall meetings have occurred in San Francisco (with the spring meetings rotating throughout the world). The Sheridan Libraries DataNet award was still recent news during the 2009 Fall meeting, so there was a great deal of interest regarding our initial plans.

I provided a presentation about the Data Conservancy (the name of our DataNet award) that focused on the proposal elements and initial technical architecture. The most important point that I had mentioned was there are significant unknowns and research questions related to data curation infrastructure, particularly related to storage systems. It is tempting to assume that storage is storage and one can simply deposit large amounts of complex scientific data onto storage systems to complete the curation process, but nothing could be further from the truth. Storage is a necessary but far from sufficient condition.

Even at the storage layer, there are fundamental questions regarding failure rates, large-scale system performance, interfaces with preservation and access systems, etc. There are several vendors within the storage hardware and software sector so the ability to span across different vendors is an important consideration as well. More recently, cloud-based storage (and associated services) have become more available as options.

One of the key questions for the Data Conservancy will be comparative advantage. That is, how we do leverage the expertise and capabilities of partners, including commercial storage providers, while focusing on our core areas of expertise such as preservation policies, processes and actions. This type of question could be explored through PASIG.

Both educational and commercial institutions have presented their technology offerings for preservation and archiving through PASIG, which has been helpful in terms of developing a better understanding of the landscape. However, it is my hope that PASIG (and other digital preservation meetings) start to address the "ecological" view of infrastructure development. No single institution will develop the capacity to curate all scientific data, so it's critical for our community to consider the distributed nature of curation, including storage systems. As we build out our local node of infrastructure at Johns Hopkins through the Data Conservancy, we will undoubtedly need to find ways to integrate and connect with other nodes of infrastructure.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Fall Digital Library Federation Forum

The most recent DLF Forum occurred November 11-12 in Long Beach, CA. As others have observed, this Forum represented a departure from previous Forums. Roy Tennant, a member of the planning committee, described the Forum through one of his blog posts. Roy was one of the members of an extraordinary planning committee that demonstrated professionalism of the highest order. It was an honor for me to work with this planning group.

The Forum came at a time of transition for DLF specifically and libraries more generally. Libraries continue to grapple with budget cuts, some of which seem quite severe, that include travel restrictions or embargoes resulting in fewer attendees than previous Forums. For these reasons, the planning committee and CLIR adopted a different approach for this Forum. The theme was "Strategies for Innovation" with a subtheme of "Getting Results." The Forum provided an opportunity for reflection on lessons learned and consideration of strategies for moving forward.

Perhaps what struck me the most about this Forum was the passion, energy, and thoughtful dialogue of every participant. I can honestly say I've never attended a meeting or forum where everyone was so focused and engaged over two days without digressing into what could have been many pathways for chaos. It was a daunting challenge to organize and implement such a Forum and our community rose to this challenge. In addition to the people in the room, there was an extremely rich "back channel" conversation through Second Life and Twitter. On several occasions, the Forum participants in the room found ourselves responding to comments from our colleagues who participated from afar.

While there were many worthwhile observations, we tried to encapsulate the overarching ideas through the following principles:
  • Libraries must transform themselves to better support the mission of our institutions
  • Innovation is an essential component for transformation
  • Innovation comes in many varieties
  • Successful innovation can not happen without effective people, processes, practices and technologies
This last point is one that has continued to bounce around my head since the Forum. I worry a great deal that libraries do not have "industrial strength" capabilities in terms of people, processes, practices and technologies. I have no doubt regarding our service orientation and commitment, but I believe we have a long way to go in terms of developing infrastructure -- both people and technology -- that can meet the needs of our scholars.

Perhaps this is something the to be hired DLF Program Officer will think about.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

CNI Fall 2009 Membership Meeting

One of the most interesting presentations at the CNI meeting featured our own Sayeed Choudhury reporting on plans for the Data Conservancy, the DataNet project that he is leading. I will leave it to Sayeed to report on that, but I sat in on a couple of other good talks.

CLIR Postdoctoral Fellows program
Several current and former CLIR Postdoctoral Fellows talked about their experience working in libraries for the first time. This program attempts to bring recent Ph.D. recipients into the library to work on innovative new ways of integrating academic libraries into the teaching and research roles of the university. Gabrielle Dean of the Sheridan Libraries talked about some of the practical benefits of the program for the fellows. These include:
  • a chance to pursue a new career path
  • interesting things to work on and further develop your CV
  • interaction with other Fellows--this often becomes a long term association
  • broader view of academia; scholars sometimes get so focused on their research that they don't see the bigger picture
Several library representatives who have hosted Fellows talked about the benefits of the program. The Fellows have instant credibility with the faculty and graduate students as a result of their recent research. There was much agreement that both the library and the Fellow benefits from this association. Several agreed that there needs to be a tangible project for the Fellow and that there is a clear plan to integrate them into the library

Institutional Repository at UC
Catherine Mitchell from the University of California talked about their IR known as eScholarship. They have decided to stop focusing so much on having faculty submit their already-published work, and instead, to play a larger role in publishing. They recently formed a committee comprising faculty and librarians to gather data about the publishing landscape at UC. Some of the key points they found were:
  • few faculty understood the term "open access" or "institutional repository"
  • the university needs to play a larger role in publishing, not just access
  • campus based journal and monograph publishing needs more support (peer review, distribution, etc.)
  • multimedia publishing and data sets need support
This study and subsequent conversations with more faculty led to the following change in orientation for eScholarship:
  • not calling themselves a "repository" any more
  • they will focus on providing a compelling set of services for faculty rather than trying to get them on board with supporting open access or the institutional repository movement
  • librarians need to learn how to speak to users in a way that will catch their interest
  • eScholarship will be "rebranded" and focus on providing a publishing platform for faculty journals and monographs. This includes providing a clear distinction between peer-reviewed publications and others
  • new services such as the ability to see a rendering of the PDF before downloading it and tracking item "views" as well as downloads
These changes have brought them success in their new way of defining succes (that is, value rather than just numbers). They have increased their journal publishing from 27 titles to 37 in a few months. Participating research units have increased by 10%. eScholarship has seven full time employees at the California Digital Library plus multiple liaisons at each campus.

Monday, December 21, 2009

CNI 2009 Fall Memebership Meeting

I spent a lot of the CNI 2009 Fall Membership Meeting in discussions with people about our current data publishing project and work planning for Year 1 activities for the Data Conservancy. I did manage, however, to make it to a number of the sessions.

Here are few highlights from the CNI 2009 Fall Memebership Meeting:

- A team from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) presented about their work thus far on a framework for annotation of scholarly (and other) resources. Dubbed the Open Annotation Collaboration, the work has its foundations in the Open Archives Initiative Object Reuse and Exchange (OAI-ORE) work, in which the principals were heavily involved. This framework will allow annotation for a wide variety of applications and will provide strong support for annotation of immutable objects.

- A team with members from LANL and Old Dominion University presented on Memento, a system for viewing the web of the past. The system takes advantage of OAI-ORE and a facility of Web Architecture known as content negotiation to provide more seamless interaction with services that provide archive versions of their content (e.g., Internet Archive, Wikipedia). In addition to the development of a new for describing the relationships between the different temporal versions of a resource, the project has developed an application programming interface (API) that allows the various archives to expose their archive content in a consistent manner.

- The meeting ended with a talk from Bernard Frischer, the Director of the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory at the University of Virginia. He talked about using new 3D tools to support the work of humanists. He argued that most humanists rely heavily on 2D objects (printed text on the page) and would benefit tremendously from the availability of two more dimensions -- the third spacial dimension and the temporal (or time) dimension -- to support their research, teaching, and learning. He showed various examples of new tools and how they might help. The last thing that he showed us was a 3D animation of gladiators fighting, from which it was clear that his work would benefit from engagement with the gaming industry. The kinds of animation he showed are already available in video games.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Data Conservancy Presentation at Educause

At the 2009 National Educause Conference, I presented a talk about the Data Conservancy, our NSF DataNet funded data curation infrastructure development effort. Rather than write about what I presented, I will point you to the recording for this session at Educause:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Digital Library Federation Forum

The Digital Library Federation Forum held Nov. 11-12 in Long Beach represented a radical change in format from the previous meetings. The resignation of the previous executive director prompted a re-evaluation of the goals of the organization. This edition of the forum, planned and led by our own Sayeed Choudhury, comprised an opening day of invited speakers and a second day of discussion and planning by two interest groups and by the forum as a whole. I have attended DLF for several years, but this was the most exciting one by far. I will report on one of the first day speakers and on the discussion of the Project Management Group.

Brad Wheeler, CIO and VP for IT at Indiana University, gave one of the most interesting and challenging talks about collaboration that I've seen in a while. He opened by stating his view of the two core challenges facing DLF:
  • Will the behaviors of DLF participants yield solutions that matter for higher education as well as our own campuses?
  • Will DLF members collaborate, cooperate, or pontificate? (we aren't going to win the latter--there are many others in higher education with much more experience)
Most universities and university libraries have tended to work on optimizing local services rather than develop services that matter across higher education. There are many services that could be better provided by outside entities or one institution serving as the provider for a consortium. Several major universities, including Indiana, are allowing Google to provide email and calendar services at no cost! There is still plenty of work to be done locally (like special collections), but we have to focus on working collaboratively. In an article in the EDUCAUSE Review from 2006, Charles Vest talks about the emergence of a "meta-university" that is made possible by our communication infrastructure and the open-access movement. The notion of the meta-university will not replace residential campuses, but it will "bring cost-efficiencies to institutions through the shared development of educational materials." Wheeler cited the Hathi Trust, Sakai, and Kuali as good examples of these types of meta-university collaborations.

Wheeler reported that libraries "talk a good game" about collaboration, but that we have not stepped up as we should. You cannot engage in collaboration as a dabbling option--you have to really commit to it. He listed the following as collaboration essentials:
  • goal alignment (you need to date before you get married)
  • values alignment (commit to having the same outcome)
  • temporal alignment (if you need something NOW, your collaborators have to agree)
  • talent alignment
  • governance clarity
  • problem solving alignment
  • elastic community
The Project Management Group met on the second morning to discuss the notion of "innovation in libraries" from the project manager's perspective. There were lightening talks by Delphine Khanna of Penn and Jennifer Vinopal of NYU, followed by a discussion of the main obstacles to innovation and what DLF could do to help libraries be more innovative. Some of the obstacles were pretty straightforward (lack of time and resources, lack of knowledge of best practices in project development), but the obstacle that received the most discussion was "organizational culture and structure". Some of the examples of organizational culture inhibiting innovation were:
  • lack of institutional support for innovation
  • lock of goal alignment within the organization
  • barriers to cross-departmental and cross-institutional collaboration
  • organization focusing on solving yesterday's problems
  • inability to prioritize
  • hiatus between "digital library" and "traditional library services"
During the discussion of what DLF could do to help innovation, the notion of helping develop best practices for project management and software development emerged as the biggest need. Project management in libraries is usually not done with any formal program or following developed standards. DLF could support training, consultation from outside the library world, and perhaps, the development of a set of best practices that could be applied to different types of projects. We are not advocating a single project management approach, but the idea of a more formal set of options than we are currently using was appealing to many participants.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Charleston Conference, November 2009

Sue Vazakas

This was my first time at this conference, whose subtitle is "Issues in Book and Serial Acquisition." There is a day of pre-conferences followed by 2 1/2 days of regular conference.

Here's the program.

My morning pre-conference:

Ebrarians: Meeting the Challenges of E-resources Head On had new professionals, from small- to medium-sized schools, discussing their e-resource situations.


  • Don't buy resources you can't keep (he told of a school with money who bought lots of expensive e-things but recently had to cancel them)

  • Justify expenses with statistics, statistics, statistics

  • All of the speakers' libraries have gone PPV (pay-per-view)

  • Make sure all licenses specify "no changes without telling us in plenty of time!" (horror stories)

  • Many places systematically reexamine licenses with each renewal

  • Reading books on mobile devices is going to bypass external readers like Kindle and Sony

  • COMMUNICATE with the IT department! Crucial!

  • What we do, we have to do really well; e.g., buy fewer resources and handle them better

  • We don't all have to own a print copy, but we need to have enough staff to keep tabs on who in the consortium DOES have the last print copy, as well as maintenance, etc.

  • To get training for this kind of job: classes inadequate and books wrong; what's best are apprenticeships and actually working in Cataloging, IT, or Special Collections (to learn what to save)
My afternoon pre-conference:

Changing Face of Library Workflow Management: Open Source, Grid Computing, and Cloud Services

This one was fascinating. BTW, "cloud computing" is now at the top of Gartner's "hype cycle."

The 1st speaker (OCLC) said that we all agree that all the many pieces such as cataloging/acquisitions/licenses/ERM/metadata etc. should be in a single system, and that it would be great to be able to push it to a cloud. But if we agree on these things, why are libraries and library departments still fighting for control?

The next generation of library management services is going to be circ/acquisition/license management/workflow/etc. as cooperative intelligence -- not individually hard-coded systems, but a single networked presence.

The 2nd speaker discussed GALILEO in Georgia , an example of a network for the entire state.
Also, Georgia library consortia are served with an open source ILS called EVERGREEN (Georgia's own system is named PINES). In 1999, the libraries thrashed out a single policy (e.g., same fines, loan periods, etc.), and now anyone can get a library card at any library in the state and return books to any library in the state.

The bottom line of this session was: libraries need to control their own destinies.

THURSDAY started off with a B A N G ! If you've never heard David Lankes speak, you've missed out. Here is his keynote speech (streaming video). Treat yourself and listen to it!

In a nutshell: let's get off our butts, decide what our ideal future is, decide how to get there, and break that down into steps so we can get from today to there.

We have to know WHY we're doing what we do and not just keep doing the same thing. Let's not become the music business who wanted to keep control instead of taking musicians and music fans to paradise and allowing them to get anything they wanted from anywhere. The analogy for us is: do we want to acquire more stuff? Or do we want to provide access?

More inspirational talking, followed by: "We're not in jobs; we're on a mission to improve the world!!"

The Pricing Digital Journals session started with librarian David Stern trying once again to explain to vendors that "great deals don't matter anymore if libraries have to reduce costs."
  • The vendors must understand that we are examining cost per use very closely, and having immediate access to tons of things doesn't matter when we don't have the flexibility to tailor the title lists.

  • When a journal package has a high % of use, it would be more expensive to break it and do ILL instead. But when a package has a low % of use, it might be cheaper to break it to use ILL instead. But when we break it, the price cap goes away. So offer a few of the different ways to get "hybrid" models; e.g., different subject packages (e.g., philosophy, math) can have different access tiers.
The next speaker was Wiley's Christopher McKenzie (grrrrrr...), followed by an IoP guy. Wiley said that they know that libraries don't want to keep seeing new journals or fancier platforms. He reminded us several times that Wiley is the biggest publisher of society info in the world, and that journals are often the societies' biggest revenue source and Wiley must keep that in mind (rolling of eyes). They plan to create customized subject-based collections; e.g., maybe a client wants only the sci/tech pieces of the regular sci/tech/med collection.

The IoP guy made an announcement: as of 2010, they will finally offer e-only pricing! And this comment of his was interesting: they don't offer tiered pricing based on usage, because they're afraid that the libraries in China will limit usage in order to lower their prices.

I Hear The Train a-Comin' -- Greg Tananbaum writes a column for Against the Grain. His theme was that libraries should not compete with university presses but instead work together. During this past summer, lib-license had a thread about going from an approval model to a demand model, which would be a disaster for presses.

Instead, we should link to little-used books and open them up, and not just to PDF's. Let's link them to other things, too, and across disciplines. Presses must be a bigger online presence.

Physical infrastructure is no longer the libraries' area of value. E-books go direct to patrons. The U.S. government now has 97% of their publications online. Let's not become Blockbuster, who croaked to NetFlix, who is now croaking to the home DVR. Physical aspects have been eliminated.

So digital books is the Next Big Train. Books aren't like specialized journal articles just for academies; books are for everyone! When books go completely digital, everything will be different.

I was sick and missed the whole day on Friday :(

Here are the highlights from my Saturday morning session on Digital Historical Newspapers.
  • Digital projects at libraries tend to be heavily image-based, which means QUALITY, not speed. Google Books is all about SPEED and their huge mass scanning often yields poor quality (like you can see fingers). Also, you get millions of hits for a book but you can only see some pages and not the whole book.

  • The Bentley Historical Library at U. Michigan digitized their old vertical files, and now have an amazing online collection of local and other information not available anywhere else

  • The way to have a successful collection of digital newspapers is: find an unmet information need, build consensus about it (e.g., they asked their history department what would be useful), identify important resources that match the need, and digitize them. Example: Birmingham Public Library's "Birmingham Iron Age" collection.

  • The U. Florida speaker said RefWorks was the way they did theirs, although they had explored open-source methods (e.g., Zotero) because their Caribbean partners didn't have much of a budget. The project cost $4,000 -- one grad student brought in 600 titles, for 10 hours./week for 24 weeks. Here's their site.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Right to Information Access

"The Right to Information Access" was the theme for the first Jeremiah Kaplan Institute on Libraries, The Information Society, and Social Policy presented by the Penn State University Libraries and the Rock Ethics Institute. Each of the four main speakers addressed the question "Although we are guaranteed the right to free epression, how can we ensure the right to access?". The speakers were John Willinsky, professor of education at Stanford and the founder of the Public Knowledge Project; Maybeth Peters, US Registrar of Copyright; John Palfrey, professor of law at Harvard University and co-author of the book "Born Digital"; and Clifford Lynch, Director of the Coalition of Networked Information.

In the keynote address, John Willinsky talked about the importance of institutional repositories and how we have to do a better job getting faculty to deposit their research there. Researchers worldwide should be able to have access to all of the university's research, whether their institutions subscribe to expensive journals or not. He largely blamed the faculty for not taking the time to deposit their articles, but he also urged libraries to make things as easy as possible. He also talked about his work in building the Open Journal System to make it easier for faculty and nonprofit groups to publish their own journals.

Ms. Peters talked a bit about copyright law in the US, but most of her talk focused on the Google Books settlement. While she thinks that there are several positive outcomes from the proposed settlement, she is concerned that the settlement is actually trying to make an end-run around copyright law. The orphan works component of the settlement is something that Congress should be legislating rather than having it become de facto law because of a class action lawsuit settlement. She is also concerned about the anti-trust implications surrounding Google. Under the settlement Google would have broad powers to make orphaned works available without going through a rigorous search for copyright owners. They would also face no liability if a copyright owner stepped up later--Google would only be required to take down the material. There is a hearing scheduled for mid November on the settlement.

Professor Palfrey reported on some of the findings about "Digital Natives" from his book "Born Digital". Digital Natives are individuals born after 1980 that have access to more than one digital device (computer, phone, iPod, etc.) and are sophisticated users of such devices. Most of the Digital Natives have very different views about copyright and the use of copyrighted materials. Most understand that pirating music and other digital materials is illegal, but they continue to do so anyway. Reasons range from "everybody is doing it" to "I want to stick it to the man". Palfrey is interested in how we can encourage the good things that Digital Natives can do such as bringing new creativity into research while discouraging the bad things such as multitasking during lectures and pirating music.

Clifford Lynch talked about our struggle to reconcile the right to information versus the right to entertainment. That is, the notion of the right to information is a pretty easy sale, but we are more timid about the right to entertainment (novels, music, movies). However, what is viewed as "just entertainment" by some is seen as a subject of scholarly study to others. The lines are not nearly so black and white as some think. He also talked about the right to information access going beyond just making the digital files available. True freedom of access would include the skills and availability to act on the data by modeling it, transforming it, etc.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NISO Forum: Library Resource Management Systems

The common problem presented in this forum is dealing with data in and date out. Accessing and sharing enterprise data across systems are still difficult. The phrases frequently came up during the forum are “shared data”, “shared services”, “ leverage the network(the web)”.
Here are some highlights from the forum:

Ex Libris interviews with libraries and other stake holders globally starting in March 2008. The finds-out is:
• Meet users needs – provide a single interface for discovery and delivery of all library/institutional assets
• Do more with less by consolidating workflows, uniting traditional library functions with those of the “digital library”
• Support collaboration to increase productivity, leverage “network effect”, Support re-use of metadata
• Build future services with SOA-based interoperability, Network-based (SaaS) deployment option
• Collect and incorporate user-provided data
• Enable new type of services (To enable easy data “mash-up). Expand the reach (meet the users where they are).
(Toward Service-Oriented Librarianship, Oren Beit-Arie, Ex Libri)

HEFCE funded SCONUL Shared Services feasibility study at UK, the question is
What, if any, opportunities exist to develop a shared service response (possibly Open Source) within the current LMS landscape
Whether there is a viable business case and delivery model to support any such opportunities
Here are some highlights from the study:
• 92% interest in a shared service undertaking e-Journals licensing;
• 92% interest in a shared service undertaking e-Books licensing;
• 84% interest in a shared system for Electronic Resource Management;
• 77% interest in a shared service undertaking Electronic Resource Management.
• High level of readiness to consider Open Source software (30% with a further 45% neutral)
(Investing in a Time of Disruptive Change, Rachel Bruce, JISC)
Lorcan Dempsey has a blog post which has link and comment to the SCONUL Shared Services report (

“Open source systems so far seem to replicate the old systems.” (Library Domain Model workshop delegate - 19 June, 2009, JISC)
The three new paths at this point are:
1. OLE – Ready to launch 2-year build phase,
o Apply for membership in the Kuali foundation, which already has governance model established, levaging the shared service such as Rice and Fluide.
o Developing a final proposal to Mellon foundation for funding
o Jan 2011, develop URM data model and core services; Jan 2012, core partner institution replace existing ILS
2. URM -- (Ex libris)
o Commercially licensed open platform, SaaS model with local hosting option
o Decoupling metadata services(MMS) from URM and URD2(discovery and delivery)
3. OCLC WorldCat Local cooperative library management system -- Web-scale library automation

The question left after the forum is: Will networked ILS, shared data, shared index, shared service, be the solution? How to ensure agility and flexibility?

Some other note-worthy projects:
• XC user reserarch preliminary report
• KBART: knowledge base and related tools
• VIAF: The Virtual International Authority File, available as Linked Data
• Bibtip, and Bx: recommender service
• Project MESUR: project that looks at the definition and validation of a range of Usage-based metrics of scholarly impact

All the presentations quoted are available at:

Monday, October 19, 2009

At the 10/19 "Open Source, Open Sesame" PTPL meeting at Gallaudet University, Marshall Breeding stated that 98% of libraries still use proprietary, not open source, ILSs. Libraries are exploring whether open source solutions can scale and become a viable alternative to commercial systems. When considering alternatives, libraries should choose a software solution based on the mert of service it delivers, the functionality provided, and the availability of APIs in order to provide interoperability with other vendors' products and provide extended functionality.

Rather than providing users with disjointed discovery silos (e.g., catalog, eresources/link resolver, federated search, IR), libraries are looking for solutions that provide Web scale discovery/deep searching of content, necessitating consolidated pre-populated indexing such as provided by Summon, PrimoCentral, WorldCat Local, and Ebsco's Discovery Service. The discovery solution should search inside a book/journal full text, across library collections including harvested local repository collections, as well as across Google Library, Internet Archive content, and other high quality Web repositories. Bradley Daigle, University of Virginia, postulated that the true value of a library's content repository is that it's permanent, trustworthy, sustainable, and discoverable.

Next generation solutions will provide a single point of entry into all the content and services offered by the library. Our current legacy ILS systems force users and staff to shift in and out of multiple systems/modules. Also at this point, open source ILS are designed on traditional ILS module architecture.

Next generation solutions will use the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) model to allow independent software pieces to be brought together, interchanged/repurposed to create new back end services. SOA and enterprise integration will support more efficient sharing of services. Recombining services into a system that meets a library's workflow needs including unified fulfillment (circulation, ILL, consortial borrowing, and request management) are a goal for our next gen systems.
An Age of Discovery: Distinctive Collections in the Digital Age October 15-16, 2009

Each year the annual membership meeting of ARL closes with a Fall Forum. This year’s topic grew out of the recent report of the ARL Working Group on Special Collections. As the name suggests, the program focused on the impact of digital on collecting, preserving and providing access to rare or unique research collections. There were several recurring themes.

Cross-collection collaborations. Don Waters (Mellon Foundation) took issue with the idea that it is a library’s special collections that give it its distinction. This could lead to silos and keep collections separate. Instead the library community must work together to build the collections and services to our unique collections that our users demand and deserve. Susan Nutter (North Carolina State University) summed this up as: “Special Collections must be mainstreamed. We cannot afford to keep them separate and special.”

User-centric collaborations. Listening to what users want and building services to meet those needs was another theme. G. Wayne Clough (Smithsonian) gave many examples of how curators are rethinking how they present collections online by creating ways for the public to tell the Smithsonian what they think about the collections rather than just having sites where the curators tell people what they are seeing. Clough also cautioned the group against building websites that create a physical building online but instead use the digital environment to build virtual collections that cross institutional boundaries. Josh Greenberg (New York Public Library), Fred Heath (University of Texas) and Will Noel (Walters Art Museum) were just three of the speakers who talked about ways Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social networking tools have been used to promote and provide access to Special Collections materials.

Cynthia Requardt

NISO Forum: Library Resource Management Systems

I have participated in the NISO Forum on Library Resource Management Systems from 10/8 to 10/9. As one of the twitter said, this event "was thanksgiving dinner for the brain. I'm stuffed", me, too.

The forum started with a keynote from Oren Beit-Arie, "Toward Service-Oriented Librarianship" , and ended with Marshall Breeding's closing presentation "Where can we go from here?".

Besides of the case study of successful stories from libraries used either open source ILS or vendor provided ILS, there are some open source project progress reports from OLE (by Tim McGeary, Lehigh University) and from VuFind (by Andrew Nagy, Serials Solutions). The roundtable discussion gave audience a chance to ask questions to the panlists who are from commercial and open sources support companies.

I list three points I got from the presentations and discussions, (that is my digest so far, not complete) there are: stop doing things in silo way; think where you are and where you are going before deciding on projects; and always think library is not above but part of learning society, sometimes the best solution is outside of library domain.

1. The good example of silo way doing things is CATALOGING! Open mind and open up metadata have been called by libraries and by library consortium. With today's technology it is very easy to reproduce bibliographic utilities like WorldCat, new bibliographic utility and e-resource knowledge bases are now offered to sharing the work. Silo development is also seen by libraries under the open source development, if the project is just to reproduce what is already available without new functionalities, it is wasting library resources. Why it is wasting? Because it does not match the direction that library should be going.

2. As Oren states, library projects can be "classified" into three category: traditional, transitional, and transformational.

- The traditional project is "doing the same thing differently", we still only provide "metadata services" designed for printed materials. With e-resources usage passing the 50% bench mark of library total resources usage, the majority of workflow and staff resources are still towards traditional way doing things. This is what we need to stop doing.

- The transitional project is "doing NEW things in support of traditional functions", discovery tools mentioned as in this category. Library of Congress using Flicks for its photo collection also cited as example of the project in this category. The suggestion for projects in this category is to "focus on the unique (the institutional), and integrate the common (global information). Also stop duplicate efforts.

- The transformational is " doing entirely new and different things", the Datanet project mentioned by Oren as a example of project in this category. Library services need to be considered as an integrated services to, and as part of the parent organization solution to support e-learn and e-research.

3. The functions that library provides as a stand alone services will be very limited.
MacKenzie Smith in her talk of "Integrating Library Resource Management Systems into Campus Infrastructure for Research and Education" showed the data and IT resources used by the university communities, library's data is very tiny in the map, and library services is heavily depended on the resources from university. Ezproxy, sfx, and e-reserves are mentioned as depended on SSO/Shibboleth support from the university IT, and the user data and research data will also be needed for library future development. It is important to look at the big picture before thinking of library data storage and network needs, and purchase for application software that might be better off by using enterprise applications support.

What I have learned from the meetings have direct impact on my projects such as shibboleth/remote access, course reserves system investigation, and planning for future library resources management tools...

I believe the meeting materials will help many of us to think ahead or/and rethink what we are doing now, I have included the conference link below, and the speakers' biography and most of power point presentations can be found from the link. link

Foster Zhang/Library systems

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Service Excellence: Positioning Library Staffs for the Future, New York Public Library, September 21-22, 2009

Really interesting conference put together by DeEtta Jones and the NYPL. NYPL has been going through a bit of a renaissance, their circulation is up, hours have increased, staff morale is up, yet their budget is down. Part of their transformation comes from a program they call LeadershipNow. The program is to get all staff to think about their future TOGETHER and how to bring the best of your staff out when they are tired. They also looked outside the Library world for examples.

The first morning speaker was Danny Meyer, author of Setting the Table and the founder and CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group which runs some of New York's most beloved and highly acclaimed restaurants. His premise was that everyone has the same 5 stakeholders:
  1. staff
  2. customers
  3. community
  4. suppliers
  5. investors
How you prioritize these 5 is how you build your business. He believes that most important stakeholder is not customer - but staff. If, as an organization, you put your staff first they then are positioned to create the appropriate experience for your customers. Reminded us that in your organization everything other than people is an inanimate object so it all really comes down to people.

He believed it was important to water the flowers not just keep pulling the weeds - in other words discover what it is that is working right and really build on that rather than just keep trying to work on problems. In addition, he talked about the difference between service and hospitality. Service is what you do TO someone; hospitality is what you do FOR someone. Huge difference, huge. Service is a process that has to happen the same way every time. It is what is written in your service manual. Service is a monologue; hospitality is a dialogue.

6 key characteristics of someone with high HQ (hospitality quotient): kind, curious, high work ethic, empathy, integrity, and self awareness. You cannot expect your customers to have a good experience if your staff is not having a good experience working for you. Focusing on your staff helps you set up what Meyers calls a Virtuous Cycle, which you can find out about in his book. The other important thing is that all his senior leaders are subject to 360 evaluations.

The afternoon speaker was supposed to be Jeff Jarvis the author of What Would Google Do? Unfortunately Mr. Jarvis had health problems and had to withdraw. In his place Gary Wasdin, formerly at NYPL (and co-creator of the Leadership Now program with DeEtta) and now at U. Alabama let the group in a discussion on Re-Imagining Libraries: Putting Googley Ideas Into Practice. Some ideas include:
  1. Find one thing you control and relinquish it.
  2. Screw something up. If you are a manager or supervisor, make some mistakes and make sure people know about it.
  3. Disband AT LEAST one committee.
  4. Ask your manager or supervisor "If I told you I was leaving my job, how hard would you work to change my mind?"
  5. Take the Library Cyclone quiz...if every object and person in your library were to be blown out into the parking lot, what would you put back in place and what would you toss out?
  6. Post a large blank banner with markers in your library and ask your customers to share their ONE GOOD IDEA FOR THE LIBRARY. Act on as many as you can and publicize that you did. Do the same thing on your Web site.
Wasdin highlighted the following key points from the WWGD? book:
  • The customer is in charge. They may be always right, never right, or somewhere in between, but they are always in charge.
  • There is no more mass market....there is now a mass of niche markets
  • Your worst customer is your best friend
  • Do what you do best, and link to the rest
  • Middlemen are doomed
  • Collaborate
  • Listen and accept what you hear
  • Don't be evil
  • There is an inverse relationship between control and trust
  • Your best customer is your partner
  • The most effective advertising will come from your customers
  • "Free" is an excellent business model
  • Be transparent
  • Make excellent and visible mistakes
  • Somethings should always be in beta
  • Keep it simple
  • Create platforms where communities and thrive.
He asked us to think about the fact that only libraries can make what we call the people that come in and use our services controversial.....customers, patrons, users, readers....I think we need to get over that and worry much more about providing better experiences.

He also asked the crowd a very simple question - what business are libraries in? I have to admit, I think most of the answers were pretty narrow - information literacy, books, instruction, providing information resources. Granted I don't think I have the perfect answer but, upon reflection I believe libraries are really about connections - connecting people to information, connecting disparate types of information together, connecting old knowledge with new knowledge, connecting.

The final presenter I want to mention is Michael Lascarides who is a User Analyst in the Digital Experience Group at NYPL. That group (note I said GROUP) is responsible for all user interfaces at NYPL except for a few (they are a III ILS library). He talked about how we need to stop thinking about the difference between digital and physical collections - they are not two separate things.

Drill bit analogy - remember no one wants a 1/2 inch drill bit they want a 1/2 inch hole. Our collections, any part of them, are NOT special - how the collection fills a specific need is what makes it special. I think this is what is THE MOST IMPORTANT fact libraries really need to understand as we move forward - what is great about libraries is not about us or our stuff, it is about how people use our stuff.

Things we can do today for FREE to understand our user:
  1. spend a day watching your users - keep your mouth shut and really observe
  2. Google Analytics - does about 90% for free what you pay big $$ for
  3. Twitter search for your library and see what people are tweeting about you
  4. Look what is on every screen of your site - remember that in the web world instructions are a sign of bad design
  5. send user feedback to your ILS or other software vendor - your patrons are not stupid
  6. INFOMAKI - open source software that allows you to set up one question surveys
  7. Decide what metrics constitute success - think about the stories you want to tell
  8. List the things that make your library unique
  9. write down 10 things your patrons are passionate about
  10. Audience, serve, words - ask your staff who is your audience, who do you serve, and what words do they use
  11. Start blogging
  12. Share content
  13. Play especially with the line between physical and virtual
  14. steal and idea
  15. look for stories in your search terms
All in all it was a great two days.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

10th Sakai Conference and DataNet

I attended the 10th Sakai Conference specifically for Jim Martino's presentation and associated discussions about our NSF DataNet award. It's our intention to build on Sakai's growing ability to connect with distributed repositories to provide access to scientific data within our DataNet framework. In addition to the DataNet specific items, I noted more general trends or observations.

The attendance for this Sakai conference was at least as much as prior conferences (so much so that they ran out of t-shirts), which is especially impressive given the current economic climate and associated travel restrictions. The number of members and institutions using Sakai continues to increase. Based on conversations with a couple of Sakai Board members, I also felt that Sakai 3.0 was moving in interesting ways that emphasize learning in different ways. The fact that "management" is part of the term "course management system" or "learning management system" has always struck me as odd. Do courses or learning really need to be managed? Within the Sakai community, there appears to be a greater awareness, even embracing, of the collaborative aspects of learning for which Sakai might have been conceived of in the first place.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Inspiration, Innovation, Celebration Conference (June3-4, 2009)

University of North Carolina-Greensboro

This was the first year for the conference. It was organized under the leadership of Rosann Bazirjuan, Dean of University Libraries UNCG. Approximately 75-100 participants attended for the day and a half conference with 20 sessions.
It focused on how and why libraries are moving more toward becoming entrepreneurial in some way for sustainability. The workshops covered ways to be collaborative both internally and externally (i.e. consortia, partnerships, etc.) integrating the library into the overall university and not functioning in isolation. There were discussions on creating activities, processes, products and services for sustainability and some profitability, tying back into the mission and vision of your institution.
This link will provide an overview of the conference’s presentations.

Anita Norton

Thursday, July 23, 2009

ALA Annual Conference, Chicago, IL 7/10-13/09

I focused on Sociology and Reference at this conference, attending the Anthropology and Sociology Section's Sociology Discussion Group, the ANSS Membership Committee meeting (I'm joining this committee), and RUSA's 15th Annual New Reference Research Forum. Picture to the left is Loyola University's Information Commons (see more below).

The Sociology Discussion Group featured a presentation with Q&A by Ross Housewright, a research analyst from Ithaka (a non-profit that includes JSTOR and Portico). Ross's presentation focused on a 2006 study that Ithaka had done of faculty and librarian attitudes and preferences for research. The survey was sent to 4-year colleges with 4100 responses from faculty and 350 responses from collection development librarians. The data is in ICPSR and available as a white paper on Ithaka's site. The survey discusses much of what has been discussed across the Sheridan Libraries lately, in discipline groups and the Collection Management Council about how faculty prefer to access library resources and in what format. Ithaka's study shows patterns by discipline with results that are familiar to us--Humanities still big users of print and the library building, with Sciences at the other end of the spectrum, online, off-campus access. Social Sciences falls in the middle with Sociology in the dead center. Ross showed us findings that indicate that Economics is trending like the sciences with pre-prints and online access very important. The study asked faculty and librarians what aspect of the relationship between faculty and librarians was most important--gateway, archive, or buyer. Faculty rate the buyer aspect as most important while not surprisingly, librarians see the gateway role as most important. The study also asked faculty to rate the reasons why they publish where they do. Highest rating went to "current issues circulated widely and well read by scholars in the field." Least important was "freely available." We have a long way to go to sell faculty on open access. We had a lively discussion about the study and how the results compared to our own experiences with faculty, so much so that Ross couldn't finish the presentation, but I look forward to reading the white paper.

Regarding the ANSS Membership Committee meeting, I'll simply report that it was co-chaired by Jen Darragh, who is joining us in August as Data Services Librarian, and she did an excellent job! She'll be a real asset to the library.

RUSA's 15th Annual New Reference Research Forum had three presentations. The first was from the recipients of the Reference Research Grant, Julie Gedeon and Carolyn Radcliff, from Kent State, who administer WOREP (Wisconsin Ohio Reference Evaluation Program). We used the WOREP survey in the RCO last fall and received a call from Carolyn as a follow-up for the grant. WOREP has been used since the 1980s and the administrators used the grant to study what makes reference service successful and what are the trends, focusing on data collected from 2000-2008, where 72.9% of the transactions were deemed successful. Factors that contribute to success are: enough help, enough time, clear explanations, knowledgeable librarians, courtesy, and professionalism. WOREP administrators saw that over time, more instruction and explanation were incorporated in the reference transaction, more active collaboration, the librarians weren't as busy (a trend), and more time was spent. Factors associated with lack of success are: too much information, more in-depth information needed, information couldn't be found, information not relevant, different point of view needed. From this study, administrators recommend reference librarians play to their strengths--attention to patrons and professionalism, enough time spent and follow up offered. The second presentation came from an academic librarian and a public librarian in Kansas on the effectiveness of online tutorials. They looked at straight HTML tutorials versus streaming media and performed studies that deemed the streaming media was more effective, using verbal and visual cues, and participants reporting more confidence (and more correct answers) using the video tutorial. The final presentation came from reference librarians at a North Carolina academic library and focused on Teachable Instants in Instant Messaging. They posited a set of theories about librarian behavior that should take place in chats--reinforce positive behavior, make thoughts transparent, show, don't tell, provide active learning, be the welcome wagon, make introductions, and share secret knowledge--and went through dozens (or hundreds!) of IM transcripts to see if these stragegies were used. 62% of them used at least one strategy and they noted lots of missed opportunities. Conclusions were that reference transactions are instructional opportunities; many librarians take a pass on the opportunity to teach; and librarians require training in instructional strategies. Presenters are publishing this as a chapter.

Visit to Loyola University's Information Commons. On Sunday, July 12, Liz Uzelac and I went north to Loyola University in Rogers Park, and toured their Information Commons (invitation extended by the Info Commons Director, Leslie Haas, on a listserv and seconded by our own Jeannette Pierce). Liz and I were able to talk to library director Bob Seal, who told us the Info Commons was built in 18 months (!). It's Silver LEED certified and was absolutely stunning (it would be hard not to be when you walk in and see Lake Michigan before you). It's connected to the Cudahy Library and in fact, it was decided to close the Cudahy entrance and have a single entrance through the Info Commons (I'm blanking on the reason; Liz may remember). Jeannette has transplanted the Info Desk/RCO model to the IC but they lack the proximity to each other that we have in MSEL (and need to keep in the BLC). Plans were in place before she joined Loyola. The Info Desk is on the second floor and the RCO is several yards away from it and not in its sightline. Jeannette told me that sometimes librarians sit at the Info Desk with the student worker and tech support and use the RCO for appointments. Building use has jumped and it sounds much like MSEL in terms of busy-ness. Group studies can be reserved online and there's a mix of Macs and PCs (20% Macs, 80% PCs). In their instruction classroom, instruction sessions can be taped (although not viewed simultaneously).

McCormick Place is incredibly inconvenient for exhibits (too far from everything else and shuttles take a while). ALA exhibits seem to focus more on public libraries than academic ones. I asked a few technical questions at the EBSCO booth but they were really more set up for sales and took my card and said they'd get back to me :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

10th Sakai Conference

John Dunn, Susan Hollar, Steve Smail and Gaurav Bhatnagar presented a session on integration of library resources into the next generation of Sakai (Sakai 3). Since Sakai 3 is still very much under construction, the format was more of a conversation among librarians and developers about choosing directions for further work. As the funding from the Mellon Foundation supporting the current library integrations has now ended, a new structure will need to be created to carry on this work. While no solution was achieved at the conference, a broader set of institutions than currently involved expressed interest in moving this project forward; a list of contacts was established, and phone conferences are planned. As for the scope and direction of further work, projects will probably be proposed by institutions with the most pressing need for a service, and resources contributed by them and others. A user-centered design process is being adopted. A first step in determining what these services might be is to survey library users; it would be nice if we could contribute, in some form, results of the recent extensive faculty surveys done here. Slides from this presentation are available at Of special interest are slides of mock-ups of possible future integrations.

Another interesting session was on the addition of a Z39.50 connector for the existing Citations List helper for the Sakai Resources tool, presented by Mame Awa Diop and Jean-Yves Côté from HEC Montréal. There are many libraries who do not have metasearch capabilities, and this connector allows them to use the Citations List functionality with catalogs and other services which support the Z39.50 protocol. The development team at HEC will contribute this code back to the community.

Two other library sessions were offered; one was a pre-conference workshop on library integration focused on small schools, conducted by Jezmynne Dene, Cheryl Cramer, Mike Osterman and Michael Spalti. Another panel session brought library professionals from four different institutions to discuss details of library integration with Sakai at their respective schools. Susan Hollar, Jezmynne Dene, Kalee Sprague and John Dunn presented this panel.

I offered a session on multi-repository integration with Sakai, focusing on local needs we anticipate having with repository integration in the near future, and how changes in the architecture of the next generation of Sakai will require the use of different methods from the current version. Strategies and technical information about current work from a couple of new projects in this area were discussed, with an eye toward how these technologies might be used to present a single standard repository interface to several disparate data sources. Slides are available at

These were just the library-related talks. There were many other interesting sessions related to pedagogy etc. which were of great interest. If you are would like to check out more presentations, have a look at slides from some of the presentations at - search for the tag Sakai09.

Monday, July 6, 2009

SLA’s 100th Annual Conference
Washington D.C., June 13-17, 2009
Notes from Jim Gillispie

As you might guess, my activities at the SLA Conference focused on the programs of the Social Sciences Division, Legal Division, and Government Information Division. By far the best program this year was “Census 2010: Not your Grandmother’s Census. “ The 2010 census is a significant milestone for academic folks as it marks the replacement of census long form data with the American Community Survey (ACS). For many years the census long form has been used to by government agencies and academics to measure the health and well being of communities by benchmarking their social economic characteristics. Aggregated data from the long form included statistics on education, occupation, commuting, income, and housing structures. The down side of the census long form is:
- Data is only collected every 10 years
- The long form questionnaire is time consuming for citizens to complete and expensive for the Census Bureau to follow-up on when individual forms are not returned.
An ongoing solution to the decennial census long form is the American Community Survey (ACS). In 1996 testing for the ACS illustrated that a continuous survey could provide data that was once only captured every ten years. The ACS has been timed to first release small geography data at roughly the same time as the 2010 decennial census – now with just a short form incouding questions on age, race, Hispanic origin and household relationships. A positive aspect of ACS is that data will be available for small geographies (i.e. census tracts and block groups) for every year after 2010. The annual information will represent information that is more like a three year average then data from a single point in time. This will be a new concept for readers to understand and see how it applies to their specific research.

The 2010 census and ACS represents an exciting time for the availability of new information for library readers. I’m looking forward to sharing this information, and teaching reader how to use the data.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DLF Spring Forum 2009

The forum was smaller than usual, but that had the benefit of making it a more intimate gathering, where you could have conversations with almost everyone. If there was someone with an interesting idea or presentation, you could easily find them and continue the conversation. As with many conferences, some of the most useful parts happen in the hallways and on breaks.

One of the most interesting presentations to me was Melanie Schlosser's “Whose Stuff Is It, Anyway? A Study of Copyright Statements on DLF-Member Digital Library Collections”. Schlosser did a survey of copyright statements presented on items in library digital materials, and found that most libraries were presenting incomplete, inaccurate, or mis-leading copyright statements, leaving users un- or mis-informed about their legal rights to use the materials. Schlosser suggested that libraries missions required us to do a better job of providing information on particular items we 'publish' online, as well as using it as an opportunity to educate users about their rights under copyright in general.

This forum for the first time (as far as I'm aware) featured something taken from smaller and more informal conferences: "Lightning Talks." Short 5 minute talks any attendees can sign up to give right at the conference. I gave a presentation on Umlaut, the open source software we use to power our Find It service, explaining why i think this is an important innovative building block to a powerful user-centered library infrastructure. I am always trying to stir up more interest in Umlaut, because I think the more libraries adopt and contribute to it, the safer our own resource investment in the open source product is.

Another session that got a lot of 'buzz' was Clay Redding from LC's presentation about the new service. In addition to providing a simple free online interface to the LC subject authorities (which is in some ways arguably easier for finding subjects for assignment than the for-fee Catalogers Desktop I used in library school), what's especially exciting about is that it provides machine-access to the same information, theoretically supporting seamless (and free) integration of live LC subject authorities lookup into other third party software, any other software whose developers are interested in making use of it. There are still a few quirks to the service, and a few parts of the original LC subject authority records not represented in the service. It's just the beginning of a work in progress (at least we hope LC keeps it progressing). But it's this kind of service that will bring library metadata into the internet era, in my opinion. For another similar work-in-progress service (although not presented on at DLF) for name authorities, see also the VIAF project at

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SLA 2009 Washington, DC

I spent most of the time talking with publishers and information providers at the exhibition area during the SLA conference. The primary goal was to find out shibboleth enablememt and technical contact person for follow up questions. The "survey" result is being updated in the Internet2 wiki page at

With the conference "guest pass", I was able to sit in few sessions that include Collin L. Powell's keynote (I did not know he is that humorous), Meg Smith (The Washington Post): Searching social media sites, and OCLC cataloging services ...

Some observations:
. no ILS vendors exhibite at this year SLA except Sirsidynix with 2 staff telling people to contact their customer agent for questions. a sign of no new production or major development to show off from ILS vendors. In comparsion with the past SLA conference, ILS vendors are among the major players

. Information providers are all trying to show their new google like interface, IEEE for example, developed search interface for mobile devices.

. Ebooks are catching up, Springer showed that their ebooks increased 63% every year, and have designed "MyCopy" service that with subscription to the ebook, customer can request to print the book with $24 per copy. In near future, the ebook can be printed in remote facilty with epub standards.

. Many talks on social network, and impact on library services. I like Meg Smith of the Washington Post talk, because she is able to really use the information from facebook and other social network to improve the quality of her work as a journal writer. We need the "same" story for librarians.

. OCLC Cataloging Services had a difficult start, at least for the session, only 6 people sit in the room prepared for 100. This services is offered so that library needs no cataloger, just send books to OCLC, they will do the cataloging for you.

. OCLC cloud computing/OCLC web scale ILS is still in cloud, by talking with OCLC staff at exhibition and presenter at various OCLC sessions, this web scale ILS is still at planing stage.

. Last but not least, I won a Kindle 2 ebook reader from CQ publisher, I returned it to Amazon to exchange for Kindle DX so that at least I can read some ebooks in Chinese.

-- Foster Zhang, Library systems

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rare Books and Manuscripts June 2009

The RBMS "Preconference" took place in Charlottesville, VA, June 17-20, 2009. The theme of the meeting was "Seas of Change" and there was a special emphasis on "new and emerging voices," but the meeting was also devoted to a retrospective look back over RBMS' fifty-year lifespan.

I presented at a seminar called "Finding Common Ground: CLIR Postdoctoral Fellows on Scholarly Engagement with Hidden Special Collections and Archives." Our aim was to show the value of "scholarly engagement": the value of holdings are increased and research becomes more efficient and exciting when librarians and scholars colloborate. Specifically we focused on the opportunities that arise on the "common ground" of special collections for conversation. What do librarians learn about their holdings when they talk with scholars, and what do scholars learn about their research areas when they talk with librarians? We presented several "case studies" that demonstrated the potential of the special collections conversation to lead to new knowledge. But because the session was a seminar, we were also really interested in hearing about the experiences of session attendees. People told many wonderful stories about special collections interactions that led to concrete outcomes like publications and performances, but also less tangible outcomes like creating excitement for primary source research among high school students. Out of these stories, we drew up a list of ideas about how to encourage meaningful, productive conversations in the special collections environment.

I was pleased to discover that the issues our group addressed were also addressed--somewhat differently--in several other sessions. One in particular that seemed to represent, perhaps, the conference's high point was "Public Services and 'Un-Hidden' Collections: What We Know and What We Need to Know," with Shannon Bowen from the University of Wyoming; Jennifer Schaffner of OCLC Research; and Victoria Steele of the New York Public Library (but until recently, head of special collections at UCLA). After presenting evidence of the impact of the "More Product, Less Process" approach to processing backlogs, the presenters made the case that this shift has led to more pressures on public services. Ie, as more finding aids and even container lists have become available to researchers, especially online, reference requests, copy orders and other kinds of research services have increased to the point that many libraries are finding it difficult to both process and service special collections. It was recommended that special collections staff need to keep careful statistics to show their impact quantitatively, but also that other kinds of evidence needs to be amassed. (Hence the connection to my group's "scholarly engagement" session.) A call also went out for a sexier name for "public services"! If anyone has any good suggestions, let me know and I'll pass them along.

--Gabrielle Dean

SLA 2009

Highlights of some of the SLA 2009 sessions I attended follow. If you’re interested in additional details or specifics from these and other sessions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at

Biomedical and Life Sciences Division Contributed Papers Breakfast – A) Excellent presentation on the implementation and use of Vivo, an open source expert database technology, developed at Cornell and being implemented at University of Florida. B) The second presentation focused on an evaluation of a broad range of e-book platforms at the University of Toronto. Interesting findings were shared including the discovery that students prefer Springer over eBrary because they could save single chapters (verses being restricted to only viewing 5 pages at a time.)

ROI 2.0 Corporate Librarians – This session was led by George Scotti from Springer. He highlighted key studies that have looked at how to measure ROI (Return on Investment) in libraries specifically considering key measures in usages, time saved, and impact on decision making. From this research they came up with the following model for measuring ROI:
% of Needs Met X Time saved (in dollars) X Value of service (dollars that would have been spent outsourcing service) X Cost of operating library

Diversity in Leadership: Generation X – The Changing Paradigm in Knowledge-based Society – I came into the discussion part of this session which was quite lively and reminded me of a session I attended at the JHU Diversity Conference. Baby boomers were eagerly asking Gen Xers about how they could work better together. The single most compelling quote in the conversation was a Xer observing the following about Millenials, “We (Xers) are all about work life balance but Millenials are about work life integration.”

Translational Medicine Meets the Semantic Web – Oliver Bodenredier of Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications at NLM spoke on this compelling topic to a completely packed room. He shared an interesting HCLS mash-up on neuroscience resources and went on to explain that you can link data through key resources and shared identifiers. They have developed a system where they identify “triplets” in the data across public datasets that allow the data to all connect providing bridges across these datasets and a robust view. He noted there are billions of triplets to be found across distributed repositories in the “data cloud” and shared the following demo site:

Another session which drew a standing room only crowd was “The New Face of the Special Librarian: Embedded Librarians”. Mary Talley Garcia, currently conducting research into embedded librarianship, defined embedded librarianship as: a) librarian who drives interactions with customers, b) hearing unasked questions, c) generating work. She spoke about the need to reframe skills, do more analysis, upscale end work products, and impact the bottom line. Josh Duberman of the NIH Library went on to share with us their informationist model. Informationists are embedded into both physical and virtual research teams. They do rounds, develop protocols, handle individual instruction, analysis the literature, manage current awareness, help with publication preparation, conduct bibiometric analysis, competitive intelligence, complete research for policy decisions, etc. They view themselves as internal consultants. Lessons learned include: have high level of subject expertise, find mentor, be visible, and be flexible. A nice quote at the end of the presentation in response to questions about being virtually embedded was “Embedded-ness is a state of mind. You don’t need a library to be an embedded librarian.” The final speaker was a solo librarian from Suncor who shared how the librarian was embedded into the continuing education and training group. I followed up with Mary Talley Garcia after the meeting and she sent the following link to her second presentation highlighting in greater depth their research:

60 Sites in 60 Seconds – Too many sites covered in this fast paced session to list here but interesting ones to check out are: – Paste in a piece of text and a url and go right to that selection in an article. – A neat collaboration and file sharing service. – Biggest blog on social media sites.

Practical Strategies for Improving ROI – This panel of four shared some very specific strategies and examples of how they have communicated the value of their libraries to management. The first speaker, Karen Reczek of the Bureau Veritas, rescued her library by preparing a detailed account of all her services, the impact of these services on the organization, and clarifying if anyone in the organization could take them over if the library closed. Her advice was to a) reach out and make sure that there’s at least one service that upper management uses in the library, b) be flexible and willing to drop services if they are no longer a priority, c) figure out what information will affect the business of your organization. Steve Lastres of Debevoise & Plimpton manages an integrated Knowledge Management Center and Library in a large law firm. He recommended the library be canvassing for opportunities to provide information.

In addition I had numerous conversations with vendors about new products and services and networked with many different librarians, uncovering more than can be squeezed into this posting! Again feel free to get in touch with me if there's anything that is of particular interest.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication (OAI6)

Early this year, I was invited to speak at this years CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication. This years meeting, nicknamed "OAI6", just finished up and I wanted to offer my perspective on some of the highlights of the meeting.

For related tweets on Twitter, search tag #OAI6 or visit this link.

Herbert Van de Sompel (LANL) opened our session and the meeting with an excellent overview of scholarly communications landscape. The presentation is ripe with useful references and I urge you to take a look if you are interested in this topic. [Link]

In the same session, Rob Sanderson (University of Liverpool, soon to be LANL) introduced us to some impressive, yet simple tools to visualize ORE Resource Maps. These tools were developed as part of the Foresite Project and are available as open source for reuse. [Link]

Also in the same session, I talked about our application of ORE to simplify publishing workflows in our project to capture and link data with publications. [Link]

Later in the program, Johan Bollen (LANL, soon to be UI Bloomington) described the work done by himself, Herbert Van de Sompel, and others to perform quantitative analysis and assessment of article and journal value. The system they developed, called MESUR, looks at a variety of facets, not just impact factor. In fact, the work that they have done seems to show that impact factor is not a good indicator of a journals usefulness. [Link]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SLA 2009

SLA 2009, which also celebrated the centennial of the organization, was held June 13-16 in Washington, D.C.

In the interests of brevity, here are the most significant and/or interesting things that I learned. If you'd like to know more, please call or send me a note at

  • Branding -- More publishers are offering branding; that is, the ability to put a JHU or MSEL logo on their pages. My opinion is that we should brand everything possible.

  • Beilstein -- The name "Beilstein" is going away. If/when we renew in January 2010, we will be purchasing access to something called "reaxys" ("re-AX-is"), which is basically the continuation of Beilstein. (Yes, I gave Elsevier some grief about the stupid name.)

  • Patents -- Another way to get patents -- Free Patent Fetcher (I haven't tried it out yet.)

  • Morgan and Claypool, from whom we get the "Synthesis" series of online short e-books, now has a similar series in life sciences, called "Colloquium." These are research-oriented, not clinical. They have free downloadable MARC records.

  • SCOAP3 -- Attended a talk by Salvatore Mele of CERN, who visited JHU early last year. They're up to 63% of the commitments they need.

  • The Future of Print -- SIAM (Soc. Industrial Applied Math) will henceforth produce all new journals e- only.

  • Discount -- SPIE is giving a 10% price rollback in 2010, and fees will freeze at 2009 rate. If we get a 3-year contract ('10 - '12), the price for all three years will be that of 2010.

  • E-books -- SIAM is launching them, SPIE is launching them,

  • Open Access -- ROARMAP shows which countries have or are considering OA policies, and links to them. Harvard's OA person spoke and said that faculty must *regularly* be reminded of how much things cost. Most faculty are unaware of the copyright rights they do have, but they also self-archive without caring whether or not they're allowed to. She mentioned Sally Morris's 2009 article "Journal authors' rights: perception and reality." She had many talks with publishers about OA; watch PLoS1 (Public Lib of Science) for an article about "which publishers make it easy." Also, around September 1, some other Ivy Leagues will begin underwriting fees.

  • Inst. Repositories -- Harvard now has DASH, "Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard." They had about 40 undergrads doing the grunt work of entering metadata and other data into their repository.

  • Blog Rankings -- Kent Anderson, who edits the "The Scholarly Kitchen" blog, said that if your blog is on typepad or wordpress (like SLA's and like ours), you don't get authority for it. That is, "popularity ranking" engines will attribute traffic on our sites to typepad and wordpress rather than to SLA and MSEL. This speaker encouraged everyone to spend the time and the $35 to have blogs moved to our own domains. Also, this is the blog that wrote the phony article for Bentham Science and then blew the whistle when it was accepted.

    [Speaking of poor peer review, I have a handout listing peer-reviewed chemistry journals which accepted articles using Wikipedia in their reference lists.]

  • Web 2.0 - Google is now the web's library; Twitter and Facebook are its coffeeshops. More and more things are "out there." Example: an article about diabetes type 1 appeared in NEJM and a diabetic blogger twittered about it; a physician wrote to ask her if she had read the whole article and she said yes, because NEJM made it free; the doc said he would have sent the article to her if she couldn't get to it herself. Another example: Lance Armstrong twitters, so all his followers -- basically the whole cycling world -- now knows about what's going on with him at the same time "Cycling News" does.

  • -- Several sessions mentioned It's just what it sounds like; check it out.

  • Citation Info -- Great session about WoS, Scopus, and Google Scholar and their citation info. WoS ruled until 2004, and in late '04, both the others started. There were lots of interesting comparison stats, which are supposed to be available somewhere and I'll find them. Note: Scopus lists patents but does not follow who the patents cited. Also, Scopus records go back to 1823, but their citation info goes back only to 1996. Scopus just added 1,450 new arts and humanties journals last month.

    WoS now has Conference Proceedings Citation Index fully integrated. AND they now capture funding and grant data! Lots more new stuff about WoS, too; they're feeling the Scopus heat.

    They did mention Quosa, saying that you can download 50 articles at a time with it. (We have Quosa.)

  • Facebook -- Fascinating Wash Post reporter, who won Pulitzer for her coverage of VA Tech shootings, explained how to use Facebook etc. for doing research. I was riveted.

  • "Summon" -- ProQuest has a new tool they think is the best completely seamless way of getting at all the library's stuff. Here's a picture of what the search pages look like.

    Okay, there's more, but you must be tired of reading by now. So much is going on in our world !!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

DLF Spring Forum 2009

In early May, I attended the Digital Library Federation Spring Forum 2009. Attendance was extremely low, compared to previous DLF Forums that I've attended. The atmosphere was somewhat somber, as DLF prepares to relinquish its independent status and return to the CLIR fold. Chuck Henry, the President of CLIR, talked about this during his opening remarks. CLIR is currently committed to continuing the two meetings per year format used by DLF. He also talked about expanding the mission into new domains, mentioning specificlly that CLIR is exploring relationships between spy agencies and humanists through its research programs.

Clay Redding gave a very interesting presentation describing how the Library of Congress is building linked data services for authorities and controlled vocabularies. The first data to be made available through this mechanism is the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). The idea behind the linked data approach is to provide information that can be acted on by both humans and machines. This is done by creating identifiers for each term and using a consistent knowledge representation to describe it. Additionally, each collection and concept has its own URI, making it a resource. These resources can be related to other URIs or terms using RDF. With this framework in place, existing semantic web tools can be brought to bear, including inferencing and visualization. While LCSH is first out of the gate, LC plans to release many more resources using this approach.

David Ruddy of Cornell also gave a talk about a novel approach to linking resources using OpenURL. The approach employed both institutional- and domain-based OpenURL resolvers, with the idea that the domain-specific resolvers could fill in needed data before passing requests on to the institutional resolvers. While still fairly adherent to the OpenURL 0.1 approach, it is heartening to see work like this that starts to move us toward a more sophisticated approach. I would like to see more applications take fuller advantage of the 2004 NISO OpenURL framework, as has the Djatoka service being developed at LANL and presented at Open Repositories 2009 by Ryan Chute.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

NISO Assessment and Performance Measures Meeting June 1, 2009 Baltimore.

There were a number of really good speakers that day. Here are some highlights from key points from my perspective.

From Steve Hiller - UWashington
We live in a competitive world. Even in academe there is competition. Key questions we need to ask ourselves:
  • What do we need to know about our customers to succeed?
  • What do our stakeholders need to know?
  • How do we measure our services, programs, resources to fill our customers needs and stakeholders expectations?
Libraries have generally collected performance measures in an input/output format (number of checkouts, gate count, number of volumes held, etc.). While these measures are generally easy to document they do not provide real outcome measures. They do not measure value or quality. They do not necessarily measure what is important to either your customers or your stakeholders. We need to be measuring what difference we make to our patrons, to the university, and the research process.

Back to competition. If you take the libraries budget - say $25M over ten years that is a quarter of a billion dollars. What kind of return did the university get on that investment? What other things could it have invested in that it didn't?

As an organization we need to be measuring:
  • Libraries contribution to teaching and research
  • The value of the library to the community
  • Changes in library use and what that means to the community
  • Our organizational effectiveness
  • Our collaborations
We have to keep asking are we measuring stuff that is easy to measure or important to measure?

Ideas for new metrics:
  • Uniqueness of collections
  • Value of consortia
  • Efficiencies of administration and budget
  • ROI
  • Data access, organization, and preservation
  • Contribution to faculty research
  • Generating new knowledge
  • Student outcomes and student learning
From Susan Gibbon's URochester
  • Libraries glorious past as the "heart" of the campus is not our future.
  • For the library, there are competing interest at the university level and we need to be articulating the value we are providing.
  • We need both qualitative and quantitative data.
  • The largeness of the collection does not equal its effectiveness or how it makes a difference.
  • Assessment is a shared responsibility throughout the organization. We need to build a culture that values assessment and is customer centric. Assessment has to be local.
  • By the time something is a trend we are too late.
  • They actually walk around occasionally and document how stuff is being used.
  • They have inserted the library into a number of "non-library" areas. The library is part of the writing program and is part of Student Services where librarians become advisers.
URocherster libraries recently completed a two year study on their graduate students and how they went about becoming the next generation of scholars through their dissertation process. Their report is in their IR.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Open Repositories 2009

In mid-May, I attended the annual Open Repositories meeting for the third time. I noted after attending this conference for the first time in 2007 that it was the most practical conference that I had attended in some time. And the last two years have done nothing to disabuse me of that notion. In fact, if there were anything that I would complain about, it would be that the conference is a bit overwhelming because it is so information rich.

I should note that Sayeed Choudhury and Elliot Metsger also attended this meeting and have already blogged about it.

Data Curation, Archiving, and Preservation

Because of the Data Conservancy (our DataNet project currently in the start-up phase) and our DataPub project currently underway, curation of and long-term access to data is of key importance to the Digital Research & Curation Center (DRCC) and the Sheridan Libraries in general. Many of the presentations covered issues of interest in this area. I'll highlight a few of them below.

As Sayeed mentioned in his post, Michael Witt of Purdue spoke about research into the development of data curation profiles. This work is a collaboration between Purdue and UIUC's Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Their approach is based on discussions with researchers and employs an initial unstructured interview to get the conversion started. One of the most interesting findings thus far relates to issues of the data sharing (with whom, after what activities. Michael presented an earlier version of this work at a Sun Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG) meeting. More information can be found on the project site.

John Kunze of the California Digital Library and our own Sayeed Choudhury both spoke in a session devoted to the recommended NSF DataNet projects. John spoke about the Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) project, led by University of New Mexico. Sayeed spoke about our project, the Data Conservancy. My focus was on the IT and data frameworks of the two projects. The approaches are different in many ways and it will be interesting to work together to establish the kinds of data management partnerships envisioned by NSF in the creation of the DataNet program.

In addition to the talks, Sayeed and I pulled together a birds of a feather session, which he was unfortunately unable to attend. I was there to represent the Data Conservancy's process and approach. John Kunze and Stephen Abrams, both of whom I was fortunate enough to wrangle at the last minute, represented the perspective and approach of DataONE.

Simple Web Service Offering Repository Deposit (SWORD) and the Open Archives Initiative Object Reuse and Exchange (OAI-ORE, or ORE for short) are two relatively recent developments meant to, respectively, reduce the burden of content deposit and improve the description and exchange of resource aggregations (think compound/complex objects) on the Web. We are employing both of these technologies in our DataPub (curating published data) project. Elliot has done a nice job of highlighting some of the ORE presentations in his post, so I will just add a few comments about the SWORD talks.

Pablo Fernicola gave a presentation describing work on an authoring add-in for Microsoft Word on the Windows platform. The add-in, currently in beta, will support ORE, SWORD, and the Publishing tagset of the NLM DTD. We have been working with Pablo on the ORE components of the add-in. This technology will allow an author to create a document, link it with data and rich media, describe the relationships of this components, and submit the package to a repository -- all without leaving Microsoft Word. While other approaches will be needed for other authoring environments (e.g., LaTeX), these tools go a long way to lowering the barriers to contributing and reusing content.

Adrian Stevenson and Julie Allinson shared a talk describing ongoing work in the second phase of development (SWORD2) and some of the history behind the development of the original SWORD protocol specification and implementations. It is now possible to deposit content into a properly configured Fedora, DSpace, or Eprints repository through Facebook, a web client, and a desktop client (among others). As I mentioned previously, the Microsoft Word will soon support SWORD deposit via an add-in.

Repository Challenge

The Repository Challenge started last year at the Southampton Open Repositories meeting and was organized by David Flanders, then of the JISC-funded Common Repositories Interface Group, with the goal of getting "developers working in small teams to try to quickly pull together established platforms and services to demonstrate how to achieve real-life, user-relevant scenarios and services."

This year's Challenge was again organized by Flanders, now of JISC proper.

The Repository Challenge winner this year was Tim Donohue of UIUC. Tim used JavaScript (JS) to implement a system he called "Mention It". This JS library allows a web page designer to embed into a web page an aggregation of mentions of a specified string on Twitter, FriendFeed, Technorati, and Google Blog Search. Among many other uses, this would allow repository developers to embed the display of mentions for a digital object by specifying its splash page, item, or Handle URI.

The runner-up, Rebecca Sutton Koesar of Emory, created FedoraFS, which combined a Fedora Commons repository with FUSE (Filesystem in User Space) to support access to repository content as if it were in regular files. For example, a PDF file stored as a datastream within a Fedora digital object could be accessed with a standard desktop PDF viewer. Her entry video is available on vimeo.