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).


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. On the last point in this posting -- regarding "[taking] the opportunity of the NSF data management rule to offer a service to our faculty" -- I hope that those of you within JHU Sheridan Libraries noted the June 9, 2011 email to LM-Announce from Barbara Pralle and Sayeed Choudhury (sent by Barbara) announcing that we are doing just that.

    The following is an excerpt that includes a large portion of that message:

    Dear Colleagues,

    In January of this year the National Science Foundation (NSF) mandated that all future proposals submitted to the NSF must include a data management plan. We are fortunate within the Sheridan Libraries to be in the position that we’ve already been building valuable expertise in scientific data planning and management through the Data Conservancy. A key outcome of the Data Conservancy is the development of technical, human, and financially sustainable services. With the goal of building financially sustainable data management services and the opportunity to provide services and support in our own community, the DRCC and ELP began collaborating on the development and proposal for a set of services that will support JHU Researchers with their data management plans while writing proposals, and with the management of their data once a NSF award has been made.

    Knowing that JHU actively pursues NSF awards throughout the University, a set of services were proposed early in the spring. In late April the schools of the Whiting School of Engineering, Krieger Arts & Sciences, School of Medicine, and Bloomberg School of Public Health agreed to provide direct funding for data management consulting services at the proposal stage. They also requested that the Sheridan Libraries establish a service center to manage the data management services. The service center will provide services and will be funded through fees charged back to each grant for the services rendered.

    A phased staffing plan has been approved. We will be hiring two data management consultants as early as July. Several technical positions and a dual consultant manager position will be hired in early October. Overall staffing will be assessed in January to determine if changes are needed. The data management consultant positions posted this past week on the JHU employment site at:

    In July we will begin to provided data management planning support for researchers preparing NSF proposals. In October we will begin to provide data management services for researchers who have received NSF awards. We are working as quickly as we can to build the operations and infrastructure to support these services and will be sharing additional information including contact information as we get closer to July. Our goal this coming fiscal year is to build and establish sustainable services...

    In the meanwhile, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Barbara at 410 516 8279 or We appreciate your interest.

    Best wishes,
    Sayeed and Barbara