Thursday, June 16, 2011

SLA 2011 by Sue Vazakas

SLA (Special Libraries Assoc) was in Philadelphia, June 11-15.

My hours in the "Info Expo" (vendor exhibit hall) were very informative, as usual.


-- There actually *isn't* a joint e-book deal between Wiley and IEEE (said the latter); but rather just a joint imprint.

-- The American Society of Microbiology's e-books are DRM-protected.

-- Inspec's new e-book package will be delayed until the end of 2011 because they broke up with their platform partner, which I later found out was SPIE. But their e-books are already available on 7 platforms including NetLibrary and MyiLibrary.

-- Swets has an e-book ordering/comparison tool that looked great:

  • acquisitions tool with a single purchasing platform

  • compares purchase and access models

  • compares prices for the same title on all available platforms

  • no fee or handling charges

  • includes Google Preview so you can see the book's outline

  • includes pubs and aggregators (but not EBL, at least yet)

  • searches book titles and LSCH headings, not FT

  • shows your existing purchases so you don't buy twice

  • usage stats, link resolver, etc. etc.

  • can order whether we have relationship with publisher or not; if not, pop-up tells us
-- In Fall, Springer will launch Springer Reference, with peer-reviewed e-reference books. All of these will still be available in the big e-book packages, too. Good news for our biology crowd: an essential multi-volume ref that can only be searched one volume at a time will be on this platform! (Robin is thrilled.)

--Vendors and colleagues alike report that JSTOR is missing articles and has some black boxes where images are supposed to be. (Lehigh used students to do a project to spot-check JSTOR.) Harvard and UC are supposed to be the back-ups for JSTOR but they have gaps, too -- let's offer them our volumes before we trash them. We can't just blindly use JSTOR as a "trusted 3rd party" until we actually check it.

Opening Speaker: Thomas Friedman

A great speaker even if you don't agree with everything he says. Memorable thoughts:

  1. "Average" is officially OVER. A CEO can reach anyone in the *world* who's above average; the people who didn't get laid off were people who did old work in a new way or did new work. You have to be able to invent and reinvent the job. Find your specialty.

  2. Story: TF and a pal were out having breakfast. He ordered eggs and toast, his friend ordered eggs and fruit. The waitress brought their plates and said to the friend, "I brought you extra fruit." *That* was her specialty, her power; she was in charge of the fruit. She got a 50% tip.

  3. Creativity is having different specialties and using one specialty's framework through which to view another one. The most creative thing he ever heard was Steve Jobs' 2005(?) commencement address at Stanford. Find it on YouTube and listen.
Session Highlights

BEST ONE: Informatics

  • A chemist, biologist, and astrophysicist all explained WHAT the data are, WHERE they're being generated from, and HOW we are/will handle them.

  • Chemistry is using InChI ("inchy"), machine-readable code that gives you the exact, unique compound, like a more sophisticated CASRN, for easier linking. They will help find ALL the times the compound appears, even within patents, where applicants deliberately misspell things so others can't find them!

  • The biologist gave a brief history of the HGP and GenBank; she was great. Now, at 1 AM every morning, all researchers' new stuff in all countries' depositories *share* it all! As of this October, 2,500 human genomes will be sequenced so we can look for polymorphisms. It's personalized medicine, and pharmacological sciences will shortly become VERY important. And bioinformaticians are the new biologists.

  • The astro guy talked about astroinformatics and the Sloan Sky Survey and crowd-sourcing projects like Galaxy Zoo.
Vendor Perspectives on Mobile Libraries

  • Innovative Interfaces has a platform called Air Pac that does everything you need to do from any e-device: check out, look at fines, place holds, renew, authenticates, gives real-time book status, etc. For admins, it's a wireless way to do inventory, RFID, weeding, and other projects.

  • Alexander Street said that by 2014 (in 3 years), the number of mobile devices will be greater than the number of desktop computers. They have a platform that helps deal with videos and streaming music.
Science Poster Session -- They were all about e-books, mobile devices, and QR codes.

Science 2.1: Focus on Data

  1. Chemistry prof - bombshell: We shouldn't be recommending trusted sources like Merck and CRC to students! He had his students find melting points from lots of different "trusted" sources, and analyzed them for outliers. Chemical companies took notice and some have built on these data to make sure that mistakes that have been perpetuated in the literature and in patents are no longer used. This is the Useful Chem Project. He also talked about the Open Notebook project. This was absolutely fascinating!

  2. U. Wisconsin librarian (Dorothea Salo) on data curation - Also fascinating! Discussed various ways to handle data like the Duke Data Accesioner and SWORD. She said that she shudders when people like the previous speaker say that they keep their data on Google Docs and that they need to be kept in *real* places, like Merritt UC3.

    She also said that ALL of us are smarter than ANY of us, and that crowd-sourcing can be tremendous, like U. Iowa's Civil War Diaries Transcription Project.
She gave a later talk on a different topic, and exhorted us to take the opportunity of the NSF data management rule to offer a service to our faculty (like the SCG did with the PubMedCentral rule).