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.

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