IL 2010: Failcamp

speakers: Krista Godfrey, Char Booth, & Jan Dawson (moderated by Amy Buckland)

Buckland: Librarians seem to like reinventing the wheel. We only share our successes and not our failures (so that others may avoid them).


AskON is an online chat reference service created by Knowledge Ontario. They wanted to integrate VOIP into their chat service so that they could add in vocal cues to clarify/focus the reference interview. They first used LivePerson, but the click-to-chat call button didn’t work, so they looked into Skype. When they were looking at feedback, they found that the data gathering portion was incomplete (forgotten or misused). However, they were able to follow-up on the feedback and found that staff preferred the workflow of text to vocal chat. Also, often both staff and users didn’t have proper equipment for vocal chat.


Fell into SecondLife and it snowballed from there. This snowballing is often the source of some fails. She was offered a chance to be on a panel talking about SL and then also some free space within it. So, her library began to explore how they could use the space in SL.

At one point they had six librarians covering shifts in SL, but after a while, participation dropped due to increases in traditional reference services and busy schedules. Fewer and fewer students were already active users, and they weren’t likely to start using it for reference services. They still have the island and hope to do something with it someday, but have stopped trying to do reference services there.


Don’t focus so much on the cause of failure. Figure out your contingency plan, then implement it if necessary.

Her library created a kiosk with a live image of a librarian’s face. The idea was to create a virtual reference space, but no one used it that way. In the end, they found it was more of a humorous PR tool.

Fake it like you’re making it. You can have self-doubt, but don’t show it. Your success will be more likely.


Are there any library initiatives to record and share failures? Not yet, but Kendra Levine offered to start one.

Library wanted to have a subject guide as a wiki, but it failed. How do you deal with a failure that you really wanted to work?

How do you process the failure as a group? If something does fail, assess it. It’s easier to walk away and ignore it, but you can’t learn from that.

Sometimes failures can turn out to be wild successes, but not in the way it had been originally designed. Tweak with purpose. And stop trying to control the user – learn what they need and how they want it, and you’ll have more success.

You need to know what resources you have from admin. You can’t go in to fix something if you don’t have the tools you need to fix any problems.

CIL 2010: Digitization Practices

Speakers: Deborah E. B Keller, Jody L. DeRidder, Amy Buckland, & Louise O’Neill

[I arrived late due to slow lunch service, so I missed the first half of this presentation.]

Louise O’Neill spoke about digitization at McGill University (Montreal, QC). The goal of the program is to make rare and unique items available to everyone and to the students & faculty of the university. They want to make the items both discoverable and deliverable through their catalog(ue).

They’re also making material available in hardcopy (Espresso Book Machine and/or OCR PDF), mainly public domain items or those with permission; thus making them available to the masses without damaging the originals. Items are selected by anticipated demand and uniqueness, and also priority is placed on items that will be used directly in research and instruction.

Amy Buckland shared some examples of collections/projects. They just bought a 3-D scanner to digitize realia, like their Olympic torch collection. All physical exhibits are digitized and made available online for those who may not be able to visit the library. They also put the digitized items in their Second Life locations as appropriate.

Their biggest challenge is copyright. The technical issues are what you may expect, but copyright is the biggest barrier they have to getting valuable research items off the dusty shelves and into spaces where they can and will be used.

IL2009: Cloud Computing in Practice: Creating Digital Services & Collections

Speakers: Amy Buckland, Kendra K. Levine, & Laura Harris (

Cloud computing is a slightly complicated concept. Everyone approaches defining it from different perspectives. It’s about data and storage. For the purposes of this session, they mean any service that is on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service.

Cloud computing frees people to collaborate in many ways. Infrastructure is messy, so let someone else take care of that so you can focus on what you really need to do. USB sticks can do a lot of that, but they’re easy to lose, and data in the cloud will hopefully be migrated to new formats.

The downside of cloud computing is that it is so dependent upon constant connection and uptime. If your cloud computing source or network goes down, you’re SOL until it get fixed. Privacy can also be a legitimate concern, and the data could be vulnerable to hacking or leaks. Nothing lasts forever — for example, today, Geocities is closing.

Libraries are already in the cloud. We often store our ILS data, ILL, citation management, resource guides, institutional repositories, and electronic resource management tools on servers and services that do not live in the library. Should we be concerned about our vendors making money from us on a "recurring, perpetual basis" (Cory Doctorow)? Should we be concerned about losing the "face" of the library in all of these cloud services? Should we be concerned about the reliability of the services we are paying for?

Libraries can use the cloud for data storage (i.e. DuraSpace, Dropbox). They could also replace OS services & programs, allowing patron-access computers to b run using cloud applications.

Presentation slides are available at

Speaker: Jason Clark

His library is using four applications to serve video from the library, and one of them is TerraPod, which is for students to create, upload, and distribute videos. They outsourced the player to This way, they don’t have to encode files or develop a player.

The way you can do mashups of cloud applications and locally developed applications is through the APIs that defines the rules for talking to the remote server. The cloud becomes the infrastructure that enables webscaling of projects. Request the data, receive it in some sort of structured format, and then parse it out into whatever you want to do with it.

Best practices for cloud computing: use the cloud architecture do the heavy lifting (file conversion, storage, distribution, etc.), archive locally if you must, and outsource conversion. Don’t be afraid. This is the future.

Presentation slides will be available later on his website.

CIL 2009: Open Access: Green and Gold

Presenter: Shane Beers

Green open access (OA) is the practice of depositing and making available a document on the web. Most frequently, these are peer reviewed research and conference articles. This is not self-publishing! OA repositories allow institutions to store and showcase the research output of institutions, thus increasing their visibility within the academic community.

Institutional repositories are usually managed by either DSpace, Fedora, or EPrints, and there are third-party external options using these systems. There are also a few subject-specific repositories not affiliated with any particular institution.

The "serials crisis" results in most libraries not subscribing to every journal out there that their researchers need. OA eliminates this problem by making relevant research available to anyone who needs it, regardless of their economic barriers.

A 2008 study showed that less than 20% of all scientific articles published were made available in a green or gold OA repository. Self-archiving is at a low 15%, and incentives to do so increase it only by 30%. Researchers and their work habits are the greatest barriers that OA repository managers encounter. The only way to guarantee 100% self-archiving is with an institutional mandate.

Copyright complications are also barriers to adoption. Post-print archiving is the most problematic, particularly as publishers continue to resist OA and prohibit it in author contracts.

OA repositories are not self-sustaining. They require top-down dedication and support, not only for the project as a whole, but also the equipment/service and staff costs. A single "repository rat" model is rarely successful.

The future? More mandates, peer-reviewed green OA repositories, expanding repositories to encompass services, and integration of OA repositories into the workflow of researchers.

Presenter: Amy Buckland

Gold open access is about not having price or permission barriers. No embargos with immediate post-print archiving.

The Public Knowledge Project is an easy tool for creating an open journal that includes all the capabilities of online multi-media. For example, First Monday uses it.

Buckland wants libraries to become publishers of content by making the platforms available to the researchers. Editors and editorial boards can come from volunteers within the institution, and authors just need to do what they do.

Publication models are changing. May granting agencies are requiring OA components tied with funding. The best part: everyone in the world can see your institution’s output immediately!

Installation of the product is easy — it’s getting the word out that’s hard.

Libraries can make the MARC records freely available, and ensure that the journals are indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Doing this will build relationships between faculty and the library. Libraries become directly involved in the research output of faculty, which makes libraries more visible to administrators and budget decision-makers. University presses are struggling, but even though they are focused on revenue, OA journal publishing could enhance their visibility and status. Also, if you publish OA, the big G will find it (and other search engines).