Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Informationist: Collaboration Between Scientists and Librarians March 30, 2010

This was an interesting seminar sponsored by Elsevier in trying to look at the expanding and changing role of librarians in the sci/tech/med arenas. Speakers included Dr. Ellen Detlefsen (U. Pittsburg), Dr. Edward Shortliffe (Pres. CEO AMIA), Annette Williams (Esking Biomedical Library at Vanderbilt University), Dr. Medha Bhagwat (NIH), Dr. John Schnase (Goddard Space Flight Center), and Dr. Steve Kempler (Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center). The bottom line was all about informatics, data, data manipulation, and the role librarians or informationists might play in that process as informatics grows. For me the real take away was that the ability of professionals to interpret and analyze information and informatics is extremely important in an information rich world.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Code4Lib 2010

I attended the Code4Lib conference from Feb 22 to Feb 25 2010. The Code4Lib conference is a grassroots-organized one-track conference of people who get their hands dirty with library technology, in innovative ways. Another review of Code4Lib 2010 by a first-time attending DLF participant can be found here. This was the third Code4Lib conference I have attended, and it continues to be the most useful conference I have found for helping my work at the libraries.

As with any conference, some of the most useful time comes in informal discussions with other attendees in hallways, over meals, and late at night in the conference hotel -- there was barely a single moment I wasn't either sleeping or talking about ideas for library technology with someone. This year, most of the other core Blacklight contributors attended the conference, and I spent a lot of time discussing Blacklight plans with them. Meeting in person can help build shared understanding and social bonds useful for a distributed cross-country collaboration in ways online communication does not.

Blacklight was also well represented on the formal conference schedule, with Stanford staff especially making several presentations about what they've done with their Blacklight implementation, giving me ideas, and helping me understand the possibilities.

Another interesting theme in this year's conference was tools for managing metadata. I am pleased to see innovative technology and approaches being applied to metadata control, as well-controlled metadata is really at the heart of many library digital services, and our tools for supporting such have in some cases not been as sophisticated as they could be. Metadata-related presentations included Jennifer Bowen from the XC project talking about their metadata toolkit component for aggregating and normalizing metadata from diverse sources; University of Washington Libraries staff talking about techniques for 'matching dirty data'; and a presentation on HIVE, a tool for exploring multiple controlled vocabularies in an integrated and efficient way.

A presentation that happened to be the final presentation on the conference schedule hit a trendy topic: Mobile Web App Design: Getting Started. Presenter Michael Doran made a very convincing argument that it doesn't make sense to spend time developing applications for specific mobile platforms (all of which require custom work per-platform), but instead makes more sense to develop standard HTML/CSS/Javascript pages that can be viewed on desktop or mobile computers, but taking special care to optimize display for the general mobile environment (not for a particular platform). Doran provided an overview of some techniques and tools helpful to succeeding with this path.

One of the interesting things about the structure of the Code4Lib conference is that it's a one-track conference, where all attendees see the same presentations, and all presentations are only 20 minutes long. There is also time for spontaneously signed-up-for 5-minute lightning talks, and spontaneously chosen break-out group discussions. The goal is to maximize participation and maximize the amount of useful ideas, and connections with other developers, you can get. For me, it was a very succesful conference, I left with many ideas for future projects, and many new professional contacts who I know are experts on certain topics I may want to follow up on later, and who may even be future collaborators.

Video of all of the conference presentations will eventually be available for free online; if some of the presentations sound interesting, check back at the schedule page, when the video is ready it will be linked there. With all-volunteer labor doing the video editing, encoding, and uploading, it could be a little while though.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Webwise Conference 2010

This year Webwise meetings focused on digital media use for 21th century. As library turn to transitional technology and face the user initiated services requests, librarian suddenly found them behind users and face digital media literacy issues.

Here are some of the examples:
  • users create youtube video and share them in their social network as part of their calibration for social, learning, research or teaching need; we usually do not think to create stream video and put it on youtube is part of library's job.
  • more than 82% content shared online is video and pictures; we still only take text based content as the primary resources, even when we develop digital repository, the requirements being considered are still text based.
  • while text is the only content type used in the past for human knowledge preservation, today, video has been widely used to record the process of teaching and research, therefore carry more context and knowledge that is not captured by text document.
Here are more on the new concept of library contents development
  • user = content; user and contents are more close related with the help of social network tools.
  • user calibration = knowledge; users calibration by sharing media enabled content from research and learn, and by online discussion and recommendation, quickly turn content into knowledge, such share and discussion are often cross organizations and cross the board of countries, and cultures.
  • the challenger to library that "do not provide user what (we think) they need, give them what they want" become hard to meet, because now that user is also part of "content"
  • library work is not about cataloging and store items, it is about what users do with your resources
Library had to change because the society in 21st century are different from the past century
  • School is no long the single exclusive place for learn, library therefore is not the single exclusive place for geting scholarly information. Digital media and social network will become the life long learn tool, therefore learn to master the skill of the tool become important
  • Among three places, online become the most important one for kid to learn than school and family, MacArthur Foundation researcher report (kids may be missing out on life if they don't spend enough time online)
  • Adult include teachers, researchers, and librarians, must learn how to use social network tools to continue improve their skill and knowledge in order to perform their duties as needed by the society
the comparison of 20th and 21st century work environment
  • Number jobs/lifetime: 1-2 jobs vs 10-15 jobs (US Department of Labor 2004)
  • Job requirement: mastery of one field vs simultaneous mastery of many rapidly changing fields
  • Job competition: local vs global
  • Work model: Routine; hands-on; fact based vs Non-routine; technical; creative; interactive
  • Education model: institution centered; formal degree attainment is primary goal vs learner centered; self-directed, lifelong learning is primary goal
  • Organization culture: Top down vs multi-directional (bottom-up, top down, side to side, etc)
Those are the points I was able to collect during the pre-conference and 6 sessions of the main conference. This year, WebWise Conference brought together approximately 400 representatives of museums, libraries, archives, information and systems science, and other fields interested in the future of high-quality online content for inquiry and education.

Three people from Hopkins attended the conference, Phyllis Hecht, Associate Program Chair of Museum Studies, Dr. Baocheng Wang, a visiting scholar at Welch from the library of China Academy of Science, and me. Prof. Phyllis Hecht and me worked together since last year to turn on some museum study related contents and e-reserves in Sakai, and this is the first time we meet face to face in Denver!

Some of the presentations will be online from the following link:

Link to the study of 21st century skill:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

On February 24th I attended a webinar on "Cataloging Icky Things, or, If You Can Catalog a Book, You Can Catalog Anything!" presented by Pamela J. Newberg for ALCTS (Association for Library Collections and Technical Services). This was an overview of cataloging in various formats, including books with accompanying material, compact discs, kits, Playaways, DVDs and Blue-ray discs, and realia. A “Playaway,” for those who have not encountered them, is a dedicated audio media player, very popular in public libraries. “Realia” can cover any object for which cataloging is desired, including, but not limited to, models, specimens, games and toys. (Side note: included in the collection of the library I first worked for was a stuffed bird which purported to be the original raven of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem.)

From a cataloger’s point of view, the big question, after you determine “what is it?” is “what is the chief source of information?” For print materials, the chief source is the title page (which may be at the back of the book, as we think of it, depending on the language). For a kit, the chief source is the container, while for a DVD it is the title screen (yes, it should be viewed by the cataloger, according to the rules). The webinar covered fixed fields, format by format, and the preferred order of notes in the bibliographic record.

Ebooks were not included in this webinar, but I submitted a request to the organizers to have the next webinar focus on ebooks exclusively.

Darlene Townsend
Copy Cataloging Supervisor