ER&L 2015 – All Thing Distributed: Collaborations Beyond Infrastructure

Collaboration
photo by Chris Lott

Speaker: Robert McDonald, Indiana University

Never use a fad term for your talk because it will make you look bad ten years later.

We’re not so tied up into having to build hardware stacks anymore. Now, that infrastructure is available through other services.

[insert trip down memory lane of the social media and mobile phones of 2005-2006]

We need to rethink how we procure IT in the library. We need better ways of thinking this out before committing to something that you may not be able to get out of it. Market shifts happen.

Server interfaces are much more user friendly now, particularly when you’re using something like AWS. However, bandwidth is still a big cost. Similar infrastructures, though, can mean better sharing of tools and services across institutions.

How much does your library invest in IT? How much of your percentage of your overall budget is that? How do you count that number? How much do we invest on open source or collaborative ventures that involve IT?

Groups have a negativity bias, which can have an impact on meetings. The outcomes need to be positive in order to move an organization forward.

Villanova opted to spend their funds on a locally developed discovery layer (VUFind), rather than dropping that and more on a commercial product. The broader community has benefitted from it as well.

Kuali OLE has received funding and support from a lot of institutions. GOKb is a sister project to develop a better knowledgebase to manage electronic resources, partnering with NCSU and their expertise on building an ERMS.

[Some stuff about HathiTrust, which is a members-only club my institution is not a part of, so I kind of tuned out.]

Something something Hydra and Avalon media system and Sufia.

Forking of open projects means that no one else can really use it, and that the local institution is on its own for maintaining it.

In summary, consider if you can spend money on investing in these kinds of projects rather than buying existing vendor products.

ER&L 2015 – Supporting Online Creative Collaboration: Tools and Social Context

#erl15 Monday
Amy Bruckman speaking at ER&L

Speaker: Amy Bruckman

If we had created a traditional organization and said we wanted to have video that would have anything anyone would want to learn about, could we have created something as vast and comprehensive as YouTube?

Could we have predicted open source software? WordPress is 62% of content management market share, Apache hosts 58% of web servers, and Wikipedia is the 6th most popular website in the world.

How do we get together and create something? How do you do it when you don’t know what the end product is supposed to do?

Newgrounds is a site where groups of people create animations and share them. Bruckman looks at how these folks collaborate. They found that the narrative structure of “continuation” shaped the process, requiring one person to complete their portion before the next could start on it, causing bottlenecks and conflicts of interest. Narrative structures can work in parallel, and collection structures have more guidelines for what is and is not included.

Does the final product need all contributions or can it be filtered? Is the product finished or is it iterative? How much coordination is required? In many projects, a strong central leader is required to move forward, and can be a bottleneck if they drop the ball.

To address all of this, Bruckman’s group developed a suite of tools called Pipeline. This replaced the burden of the leader, allowing individuals to claim tasks and automatically attribute credits at the end of the project. They created more of a wiki-like structure. Collaboration works better when we can see each other working and know that we can see each other working. Distributed leadership views leadership as a set of behaviors, not roles.

Pipeline allows groups that are initially centralized in leadership styles to decentralize, and for decentralized leadership to get more organized. It has been used for Newgrounds projects and GISHWHES teams.

There will never be a tool that will solve all problems. Better to design something that fits into an ecology of tool use for task management, communication, collaboration, etc.

Do users understand “fair use” and how does this impact their remix behaviors? Bruckman interviewed 33 content creators, analyzed forum postings about copyright, the content of remix sites, and surveyed the users of those sites.

No one read the Terms of Service agreements. A reading level analysis required college sophomore level reading, with some behind postgraduate level (particularly audio sites). Some sites TOS indicate you are giving them exclusive and irrevocable rights to the content you post there. Many people would behave differently online if they understood that.

People are not sharing content online because they are afraid they will get in trouble or that someone will reuse their content in ways they did not intend. Site designers could remedy some of these problems if they scaffolded the information to help folks understand through the design of the sites.

We are just at the beginning. People will do more amazing things together, if we give them good tools and social support. Research on developing these tools is important.

NASIG 2013: Collaboration in a Time of Change

CC BY 2.0 2013-06-10
“soccer practice” by woodleywonderworks

Speaker: Daryl Yang

Why collaborate?

Despite how popular Apple products are today, they almost went bankrupt in the 90s. Experts believe that despite their innovation, their lack of collaboration led to this near-downfall. iTunes, iPod, iPad — these all require working with many developers, and is a big part of why they came back.

Microsoft started off as very open to collaboration and innovation from outside of the company, but that is not the case now. In order to get back into the groove, they have partnered with Nokia to enter the mobile phone market.

Collaboration can create commercial success, innovation, synergies, and efficiencies.

What change?

The amount of information generated now is vastly more than has ever been collected in the past. It is beyond our imagination.

How has library work changed? We still manage collections and access to information, but the way we do so has evolved with the ways information is delivered. We have had to increase our negotiation skills as every transaction is uniquely based on our customer profile. We have also needed to reorganize our structures and workflows to meet changing needs of our institutions and the information environment.

Deloitte identified ten key challenges faced by higher education: funding (public, endowment, and tuition), rivalry (competing globally for the best students), setting priorities (appropriate use of resources), technology (infrastructure & training), infrastructure (classroom design, offices), links to outcomes (graduation to employment), attracting talent (and retaining them), sustainability (practicing what we preach), widening access (MOOC, open access), and regulation (under increasing pressure to show how public funding is being used, but also maintaining student data privacy).

Libraries say they have too much stuff on shelves, more of it is available electronically, and it keeps coming. Do we really need to keep both print and digital when there is a growing pressure on space for users?

The British Library Document Supply Centre plays an essential role in delivering physical content on demand, but the demand is falling as more information is available online. And, their IT infrastructure needs modernization.

These concerns sparked conversations that created UK Research Reserve, and the evaluation of print journal usage. Users prefer print for in-depth reading, and HSS still have a high usage of print materials compared to the sciences. At least, that was the case 5-6 years ago when UKRR was created.

Ithaka S+R, JISC, and RLUK sent out a survey to faculty about print journal use, and they found that this is still fairly true. They also discovered that even those who are comfortable with electronic journal collections, they would not be happy to see print collections discarded. There was clearly a demand that some library, if not their own, maintain a collection of hard copies of journals. Libraries don’t have to keep them, but SOMEONE has to.

It is hard to predict research needs in the future, so it is important to preserve content for that future demand, and make sure that you still own it.

UKRR’s initial objectives were to de-duplicate low-use journals and allow their members to release space and realize savings/efficiency, and to preserve research material and provide access for researchers. They also want to achieve cultural change — librarians/academics don’t like to throw away things.

So far, they have examined 60,700 holdings, and of that, only 16% has been retained. They intend to keep at least 3 copies among the membership, so there was a significant amount of overlap in holdings across all of the schools.

VLACRL Spring 2011: Clay Shirky, Fantasy Football, and the Future of Library Collections

As we shift to a demand-driven collection development approach, we will better be able to provide content at the point of need.

Speaker: Greg Raschke

Raschke started off with several assumptions about the future of library collections. These should not be a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention: The economics of our collections is not sustainable – the cost and spend has gone up over the years, but there is a ceiling to funding, so we need to lower the costs of the entire system. We’re at a tipping point where just in case no longer delivers at the point of need. We must change the way we collect, and it will be hard, but not impossible.

The old system of supply-side collection development assumes that we’re working with limited resources (i.e. print materials), so we have to buy everything just in case someone needs it 10 years down the road when the book/journal/whatever is out of print. As a result, we judge the quality of a collection by its size, rather than by its relevance to the users. All of this contributes to an inelastic demand for journals and speculative buying.

The new system of demand-driven collections views them as drivers of research and teaching. It’s not really a new concept so much as a new workflow. There’s less tolerance in investing in a low-use collection, so there is an increase in the importance of use data and modifying what we collect based on that use data. The risks of not evolving and failing to innovate can be seen in the fate of the newspapers, many of whom held onto the old systems for too long and are dying or becoming irrelevant as a result.

Demand-driven collection development can create a tension between the philosophy of librarians as custodians of scholarship and librarians as enablers of a digital environment for scholars. Some think that this type of collection development may result in lower unit costs, but the reality is that unless the traditions of tenure and promotion change, the costs of publishing scholarly works will not go down. One of the challenging/difficult aspects of demand-driven collection development is that we won’t be getting new funds to do it – we must free funds from other areas in order to invest in these new methods (i.e. local digital production and patron-driven acquisitions).

The rewards of adapting are well worth it. The more our constituencies use the library and its resources, the more vital we become. Look at your data, and then bet on the numbers. Put resources into enabling a digital environment for your scholars.

Demand-driven collection development is not just patron-driven acquisitions! It’s about becoming an advanced analyst and increasing the precision in collection development. For NCSU‘s journal review, they look at downloads, impact factors, publications by NCSU authors, publications that cite NCSU authors, and gather feedback from the community. These bibliometrics are processed through a variety of formulas to standardize them for comparison and to identify outliers.

For print resources, they pulled circulation and bibliographic information out of their ILS and dropped it into SAS to assess the use of these materials over time. It was eye-opening to see what subject areas saw circulation greater than one over 10 years from the year they were added to the collection and those that saw no circulations. As a result, they were able to identify funds that could go towards supporting other areas of the collection, and they modified the scopes of their approval profiles. [A stacked graph showing the use of their collection, such as print circulation, ejournals/books downloads, reserves, and ILL has been one of their most popular promotional tools.]

As we shift to a demand-driven collection development approach, we will better be able to provide content at the point of need. This includes incorporating more than just our local collections (i.e. adding HathiTrust and other free resources to our catalog). Look to fund patron-driven acquisitions that occur both in the ebook purchasing models and through ILL requests. Integrate electronic profiling with your approval plans so that you are not just looking at purchasing print. Consider ebook packages to lower the unit costs, and use short-term loans for ebooks as an alternative to ILL. Get content to users in the mode they want to consume it. Do less speculative buying, and move money into new areas. It is imperative that libraries/librarians collaborate with each other in digital curation, digital collections, and collective bargaining for purchases.

There are challenges, of course. You will encounter the CAVE people. Data-driven and user-driven approaches can punish niche areas, disciplinary variation, and resources without data. The applications and devices we use to interact with digital content are highly personalized, which is a challenge for standardizing access.

I asked Raschke to explain how he evaluates resources that don’t have use data, and he says he’s more likely to stop buying them. For some resources, he can look at proxy logs and whether they are being cited by authors at his institution, but otherwise there isn’t enough data beyond user feedback.

IL2009: Collaboration in the Clouds

Presenter: Tom Ipri

How will cloud computing impact the library as a space? Will we be able to provide the infrastructure to support collaborative computing within our buildings or resource networks?

Virtual computing labs allow students to access their software, settings, and files from any computer on campus. However, there are concerns about reliability, privacy, and the security of data. If you are sending your students to services outside of the university, what impacts are there on the policies of the university?

Who needs libraries when everything is in the cloud? The library can become fully both a warehouse and a gathering place.

IL2009: Creating Connections & Social Reference in Libraries

Presenter: Margaret Smith

Traditional reference has been one-on-one, but now there are options online for many-to-one reference, such as Yahoo! Answers, Askville, AskMetafilter, etc. The problem is that not all of the hives are equal in the quality of the answers they provide. For an example, look up "where do deer sleep?" sometime.

One of the benefits of social reference sites is that they generate a reference bank of questions and answers that can be linked to when/if someone asks the same question again. These can be both public forums like AskMetafilter, or a private forum like something you develop internally for your library or organization. Similarly, you can use wiki software to create an interactive social reference tool, but unlike a forum, it isn’t designed to make new content the most prominent.

One of the biggest challenges of implementing social reference sites is getting answers to the questions. A frustrating aspect of some social reference sources is an overwhelming number of unanswered questions. Your library can use any of the "free" services that are out there, or go with one of the vendor services like LibAnswers, just make sure you actively engage with it.

thing 18: web applications

It has been a while since I seriously looked at Zoho Writer, preferring Google Docs mainly for the convenience (I always have Gmail open in a tab, so it’s easy to one-click open Google Docs from there). Zoho Writer seems to have more editing and layout tools, or at least, displays them more like MS Word.

I have been dabbling with web applications like document editors and spreadsheet creators mostly because I don’t like the ones that I purchased with my iMac. I probably would like the Mac versions more if I were more familiar with their quirks, but I’m so used to Microsoft Office products that remembering what I can and can’t do in the Mac environment is too frustrating. While Google Docs isn’t quite the same as Microsoft Office, it’s more-so than iWork ’08.

Playing with Zoho Writer, however, reminded me that I need to work around my Google bias. Particularly since the Zoho products seem to have the productivity functions that make my life easier.

thing 17: UR wikis

At my library, we have a couple of wikis set up. One is basically a transfer of our main service desk manual from paper to online, and the other is Boatipedia, our FAQ. I agree with Carol in that the format works well for our manual, and I also agree with her that I’m not entirely sold on the idea of a FAQ in wiki format, unless the intent is more for the ease of allowing many authorized users to edit it. As Carol puts it, “we really don’t want anyone to be able to go in and change content — do we?”

As for other uses for an internal wiki… I could see myself using a wiki to organize information about our electronic resources, licenses, and contacts. Being able to search across pages to find information and the ability to have input from each of the individuals involved in the process would both be pluses for the format over more traditional paper files and email archives. However, we have paid for a tool specifically designed to do that, which also interfaces with the public side of linking users to the resources, so it wouldn’t make sense to use a wiki instead of or in addition to that tool.

thing 13: del.icio.us

When social bookmarking sites came on the scene, I was very resistant to using them. I had an organized system of bookmarking sites I visited regularly or sites that I needed to reference occasionally, and the del.icio.us format for displaying bookmarked URLs seemed cluttered and unorganized to me.

Fast-forward about five years, and we are now in a world where tagging and folksonomy are no longer scary new concepts (well, to those of us who have been reading, writing, and talking about them in the mean time). Tagging is now almost a requirement for a Web 2.0 service, and I use it frequently to keep track of things I want to go back to later, or to categorize what I am looking at.

About a year ago, I started using the del.icio.us extension for Firefox. At first, it was just a long list of the tags I used and had to be manually updated. Now it’s fully integrated with automatic syncing and the very useful search box (from the sidebar). It has nearly replaced the bookmark tool native to Firefox as my primary source of collected URLs that I find important to me. The best part is that I can access my bookmarks no matter which computer I am using, and this has come in handy on many occasions.

As I noted, I still use the bookmarking options within Firefox and do not send these things to my del.icio.us bookmarks, either. Mainly these are the sites I visit frequently, and I have them in my Bookmarks Toolbar folder so they’re just one click away. I have another folder of links to the tools that we use for on-call reference (Meebo, Ref Desk webmail, and LibStats), and I can tell Firefox to open all of the bookmarks in that folder with one click when my on-call shift begins.

One thing I’ve started doing with del.icio.us is creating sets of links that I can share with other people. I was inspired by a Computers in Libraries presentation on using del.icio.us for creating on-the-fly lists of resources for individuals and classes. If you’re interested, you can check out the list of podcasts I’m currently subscribed to.

Since I haven’t jumped on the Wordle bandwagon yet, and since it was a bonus activity for this thing, here’s the Wordle cloud for my del.ico.us tags:

wordle cloud of my del.icio.us tags

Learning 2008: Tools to Simplify Research

Presenters: Andy Morton & Laura Horne

Andy, being Andy, started the presentation with the YouTube video of Steve Ballmer going crazy. He did not do his own version of that intro.

RSS (the Common Craft video covers the basics) pulls in content from a variety of sources to one location, saving them to be read at your convenience. You can use web-based readers like Google Reader or Bloglines, or desktop tools like Outlook 2007 or NewsGator. [side note: Andy says that the university is moving to Office 2007 this summer. Gah! I thought I had escaped that nightmare….]

Undergraduate research is project focused, whereas scholars (faculty) will hold on to information for a long period of time because they are developing their field of study. This effects how both groups approach their information discovery. Scholars can use RSS to keep up with particular journals through publisher table of contents feeds or topics built using search alerts in specific databases.

CiteULike is del.icio.us for scholars, with a few additional organizational tools and features that makes it almost a hybrid of social bookmarking tool and a bibliographic management tool. There are far fewer users than on more general sites, which can be a positive or negative, depending on your perspective.

[side note: I did not have a computer with me when I took notes for the opening keynote, so I’ll be typing them up and adding them later.]