NASIG 2012: Everyone’s a Player — Creation of Standards in a Fast-Paced Shared World

Speaker: Nettie Lagace, NISO – National Information Standards Organization

NISO is responsible for a lot of the things we work with all the time, by making the systems work more seamlessly and getting everyone on the same page. More than you may think. They operate on a staff of five: one who is the public face and cheerleader, one who travels to anywhere needed, one who makes sure that the documents are properly edited, and two who handle the technical aspects of the organization/site/commitees/etc.

Topic committees identify needs that become the working groups that tackle the details. Where there is an issue, there’s a working group, with many people involved in each.

New NISO work items consider:
What is not working and how it impacts stakeholders.
How it relates to existing efforts.
Beneficiaries of the deliverables and how.
Stakeholders.
Scope of the initiative.
Encouragement for implementation.

Librarians aren’t competitive in the ways that other industries might be, so this kind of work is more natural for them. The makeup of the working group tries to keep a balance so that no single interest category makes up the majority of the membership. Consensus is a must. They are also trying to make the open process aspect be more visible/accessible to the general public.

Speaker: Marshall Breeding

Library search has evolved quite a bit, from catalog searches that essentially replicated the card catalog process to federated searching to discovery interfaces to consolidated indexes. Libraries are increasingly moving towards these consolidated indexes to cover all aspects of their collections.

There is a need to bring some order to the market chaos this has created. Discovery brings value to library collections, but it brings some uncertainty to publishers. More importantly, uneven participation diminishes the impact, and right now the ecosystem is dominated by private agreements.

What is the right level of investment in tools that provide access to the millions of dollars of content libraries purchase every year? To be effective, these tools need to be comprehensive, so what do we need to do to encourage all of the players to participate and make the playing field fair to all. How do libraries figure out which discovery service is best for them?

The NISO Open Discovery Initiative hopes to bring some order to that chaos, and they plan to have a final draft by May 2013.

Speaker: Regina Reynolds, Library of Congress

From the beginning, ejournals have had many pain points. What brought this to a head was the problem with missing previous titles in online collections. Getting from a citation to the content doesn’t work when the name is different.

There were issues with missing or incorrect numbering, publishing statements, and dates. And then there are the publishers that used print ISSN for the electronic version. As publishers began digitizing back content, these issues grew exponentially. Guidelines were needed.

After many, many conversations, The Presentation & Identification of E-Journals (PIE-J) was produced and is available for comment until July 5th. The most important part is the three pages of recommended practices.

See also: In Search of Best Practices for Presentation of E-Journals by Regina Romano Reynolds and Cindy Hepfer

IL 2010: Adding Value to Your Community

speaker: Patricia Martin

[I took notes on paper because my netbook power cord was in my checked bag that SFO briefly lost on the way here. This is an edited transfer to electronic.]

She told a story about how a tree in her yard sprang up and quickly produced fruit, due in part to the fertilization that came from some bats living in her garage. The point being is that libraries are sitting on hidden assets (i.e. bat shit), but we haven’t packaged it in a way our community will recognize and value it (i.e. bat guano fertilizer).

She thinks that the current conditions indicate we are on the cusp of a renaissance generation that will lead to an explosion of creativity. Every advanced civilization gets to a point where there is so much progress made that traditions become less relevant and are shed. We need to keep libraries, or at least their role in society/education, relevant or they will be lost.

Martin says that the indicators of a renaissance are death (recession), a facilitating medium (internet), and an age of enlightenment (aided by the internet). We are seeing massive creativity online, from blog content larger than the volumes in the Library of Congress to Facebook to the increase in epublications over their print counterparts.

Capitalism relies on conformity, but conformity won’t give us the creativity we need. Brands/companies who are succeeding are those who provide a sense of belonging/community for their users, who empower creativity among them, and who manage the human interface.

The old ways have the brand at the center, but the new way is to have the user at the center. This sounds easy, until you have to live it. When the user is at the center, they want to build a community/tribe together, which creates sticker brands.

Jonathan Harris wants us to move forward towards creating a vibrant culture online that’s not about celebrity tweets. He is studying the things that people yearn for and creating a human interface to explore it. It is projected that 80% of data generated will come from social networks – how will we make sense of it all? Why would the RenGen (renaissance generation) still use libraries if the traditional book is our brand? We need a new story about the future where libraries are present, in whatever form they become.

A president of a cloud computing company is quoted by Martin as saying that in the future, screens will be everywhere. The return on transaction (faster) will replace the return on investment. He saw the cloud storage demand grow 500 times in 2009, and expects that rate will only continue into the future as we generate more and more data.

Story is the new killer app – the ultimate human interface. The new story of the future will be built around preconition.

Libraries can create value by leaving the desk and going into the community to provide neutral information to meet the needs of the community. We add value by putting users at the center, letting them collaborate on the rules, and curating the human interface.

CIL 2010: Conversations with the Archivist of the United States

Speakers: “Collector in Chief” David Ferriero interviewed by Paul Holdengräber

Many people don’t know what the archivist does. They often think that the National Archives are a part of the Library of Congress. In fact, the agency is separate.

Ferriero is the highest ranking librarian in the administration. It’s usually a historian or someone with connections to the administration. He was surprised to get the appointment, and had been expecting to head the IMLS instead.

He is working to create a community around the records and how they are being used. His blog talks about creating citizen archivists. In addition, he is working to declassify 100 million documents a year. There is an enormous backlog of these documents going back to WWII. Each record must be reviewed by the agency who initially classified them, and there are 2400 classification guides that are supposed to be reviewed every five years, but around 50% of them have not.

You can’t have an open government if you don’t have good records. When records are created, they need to be ready to migrate formats as needed. There will be a meeting between the chief information officers and the record managers to talk about how to tackle this problem. These two groups have historically not communicated very well.

He’s also working to open up the archives to groups that we don’t often think of being archive users. There will be programs for grade school groups, and more than just tours.

Large digitization projects with commercial entities lock up content for periods of time, including national archives. He recognizes the value that commercial entities bring to the content, but he’s concerned about the access limitations. This may be a factor in what is decided when the contract with Ancestry.com is up.

“It’s nice having a boss down the street, but not, you know, in my face.” (on having not yet met President Obama)

Ferriero thinks we need to save smarter and preserve more digital content.

Pandora Town Hall (Richmond, VA)

Open question/answer forum with Tim Westergren, the founder of the Music Genome Project and Pandora Internet Radio.

June 29, 2009
approx 100 attending
free t-shirts! free burritos from Chipotle!

Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora

His original plan was to get in a car & drive across country to find local music to add to Pandora, but it wasn’t quite as romantic as he thought it would be. On the way home, he planned a meetup on the fly using the Pandora blog, and since then, whenever he visits a new city, he organizes get together like this one.

Tim is a Stanford graduate and a musician, although he didn’t study it specifically. He spent most of his 20s playing in bands, touring around the country, but not necessarily as a huge commercial success. It’s hard to get on the radio, and radio is the key to professional longevity. Eventually, he shifted to film score composition, which required him to analyze music and break it down into components that represent what is happening on the screen. This generated the idea of a musical genome.

The Music Genome Project was launched in 2000 with some seed money that lasted about a year. Eventually, they ran out of money and couldn’t pay their 45 employees. They tried several different ways to raise money, but nothing worked until some venture investors put money into it in 2004. At that point, they took the genome and repurposed it into a radio (Pandora) in 2005.

They have never advertised — it has all been word of mouth. They now add about 65,000 new listeners per day! They can see profitability on the horizon. Pandora is mainly advertising supported. The Amazon commissions provide a little income, but not as much as you might think they would.

There are about 75,000 artists on the site, and about 70% are not on a major label. The song selection is not based on popularity, like most radio, but rather on the elements of the songs and how they relate to what the user has selected.

Playlists are initially created by the song or artists musical proximity to begin with, and then is refined as the user thumbs up or down songs. Your thumbs up and down effect only the station you are listening to, and it effects whatever the rest of the playlist was going to be. They use the over-all audience feedback to adjust across the site, but it’s not as immediate or personalized.

They have had some trouble with royalties. They pay both publishing and performer royalties per song. They operate under the DMCA, including the royalty structure. Every five years, a committee determines what the rate will be for the next year. In July 2007, the committee decided to triple the ratings and made it retroactive. It essentially bankrupted the company.

Pandora called upon the listeners to help them by contacting their congressional representative to voice opposition to the decision. Congress received 400,000 faxes in three days, breaking the structure on the Hill for a week! Their phones were ringing all day long! Eventually, they contacted Pandora to make it stop. They are now finishing up what needs to be done to bring the royalty back to something more reasonable. (Virtually all the staffers on Capitol Hill are Pandora users — made it easy to get appointments with congress members.)

Music comes to Pandora from a variety of sources. They get a pile of physical and virtual submissions from artists. They also pay attention to searches that don’t result in anything in their catalog, as well as explicit suggestions from listeners.

They have a plan to offer musicians incentives to participate. For example, if someone thumbs up something, there would be a pop-up that suggest checking out a similar (or the same) band that is playing locally. Most of the room would opt into emails that let them know when bands they like are coming to town. Musicians could see what songs are being thumbed up or down and where the listeners are located.

Listener suggestion: on the similar artists pages, provide more immediate sampling of recommendations.

What is the cataloging backlog? It takes about 8-10 weeks, and only about 30% of what is submitted makes it in. They select based on quality: for what a song is trying to do, does it do it well? They know when they’ve made a wrong decision if they don’t include something and a bunch of people search for it.

Pandora is not legal outside of the US, but many international users fake US zip codes. However, in order to avoid lawsuits, they started blocking by IP. As soon as they implemented IP blocking, they received a flood of messages, including one from a town that would have “Pandora night” at a local club. (The Department of Defense called up and asked them to block military IP ranges because Pandora was hogging the bandwidth!)

Why are some songs quieter than others? Tell them. They should be correcting for that.

The music genome is used by a lot of scorers and concert promoters to find artists and songs that are similar to the ones they want.

Could the users be allowed more granular ratings rather than thumbing up or down whole songs? About a third of the room would be interested in that.

Mobile device users are seeing fewer advertisements, and one listener is concerned that this will impact revenue. Between the iPhone, the Blackberry, and the Palm Pre, they have about 45,000 listeners on mobile devices. This is important to them, because these devices will be how Pandora will get into listener’s cars. And, in actuality, mobile listeners interact with advertisements four times as much as web listeners.

Tim thinks that eventually Pandora will host local radio. I’m not so sure how that would work.

Subscription Pandora is 192kbps, which sounds pretty good (and it comes with a desktop application). It’s not likely to get to audiophile level until the pipes are big enough to handle the bandwidth.

Variety and repetition is their biggest areas where they get feedback from listeners. The best way to get variety is to add different artists. If you thumb down an artist three times, they should be removed from the station.

They stream about 1/3 of the data that YouTube streams daily, with around 100 servers. Tim is not intimately familiar with the tech that goes into make Pandora work.

[The questions kept coming, but I couldn’t stay any longer, unfortunately. If you have a chance to attend a Pandora Town Hall, do it!]

LITA 2008: What is “Social Cataloging” and Why Should You Care?

“Having games in the library strikes me as being like having bocce in the frat house.”

Speaker: Tim Spalding, Founder of LibraryThing

“I have no practical advice for you, but I have inspiration and screen shots.” Such as, images from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and book pile photo submissions.

Social cataloging does not need to be defined. LibraryThing is a good example of social cataloging, but it’s not the only resource out there like that. (LibraryThing is now larger than the Library of Congress.) Good Reads focuses more on the social aspects, and Shelfari is being revived by Amazon. There are other sites like CiteULike and Last.fm that do social cataloging of things other than books.

Social cataloging explores the socialization. LibraryThing embraces the social and the digital because there is no physical aspect (except for what you have in your own collection).

Social cataloging ladder:

  • personal cataloging – your stuff
  • exhibitionism, voyeurism – about you and your stuff
  • self expression – book pile photos, reviews
  • implicit social cataloging – tag clouds on books that incorporate data from all owners, recommendations, connect with other owners of more obscure books
  • social networking – “friends” lists, users who share your books, groups
  • sharing – book covers of different editions, author photos
  • explicit social cataloging – work-level records (any title you would agree on at a cocktail party) for both books and authors, series data
  • collaborative cataloging – building the catalogs of famous dead people, developing an open-source alternative to Dewey

Regarding why Spalding felt it necessary to pull data from libraries and not just Amazon, he says, “Once you are over the age of 30 and you are not a Philistine, you have books that Amazon is not currently selling.”

Interesting factoid about how things are tagged on LibraryThing: LGBT and GLBT tags have two completely different lists of books.

Traditional cataloging is based on the physical form of cataloging with cards. It was too difficult to change subjects or to add weight to particular subjects because you couldn’t do that with physical cards. We need to get away from this now that we have all the flexibility of digital cataloging. Digital cataloging is social cataloging.

LibraryThing users are doing about 1,000 work combinations per day! Voluntarily! Experts on book topics are the ones pulling the data together, not experts on cataloging.

LibraryThing members figured out what books are on Dr. Horrible’s shelf based on a fuzzy still from the video. And then the guy who lives in the apartment where it was filmed corrected the editions listed.

There are many non-librarians who are passionate about books and classification. People care about libraries and library data.

On the other hand, we suck. Our catalogs are fundamentally not open to the web because our pages are often session-specific and not friendly to index spiders. Worldcat.org is getting fewer visitors, whereas Dogster.com is getting more.

Library 2.0 is in danger. Libraries are concentrating on what they can do, not what they can do best. We don’t need to have blogs or pages on Facebook. “Having games in the library strikes me as being like having bocce in the frat house.”

Do not pay anyone for Library 2.0 stuff. Do it yourself. OCLC is not yourself.

Or, pay Spalding for his 2.0 enhancements (LibraryThing for Libraries).

Social cataloging is about the catalog, about what you can do right now, about passion, and about giving (not taking).

ex libris

I finally read Anne Fadiman’s book Ex Libris this weekend. It has been on my wishlist for a year and on my bookshelf for about six months. It’s a slim paperback of 162 pages, but like most non-fiction, it took me three sittings to make my way through it. Most of the essays come from … Continue reading “ex libris”

I finally read Anne Fadiman’s book Ex Libris this weekend. It has been on my wishlist for a year and on my bookshelf for about six months. It’s a slim paperback of 162 pages, but like most non-fiction, it took me three sittings to make my way through it. Most of the essays come from her column “The Common Reader” in the Library of Congress’ publication Civilization, and they are personal stories about her experiences with books and reading.

Continue reading “ex libris”

publication pattern change

A magazine with “weekly” in the title will actually be published 52 times this year — go figure!

I heard on Marketplace this morning that the magazine US Weekly will actually be published 52 times this year. The reporter said that the magazine had made enough money from ad revenue and sales to be able to publish an issue every week this year. I was curious to see what the publication pattern history has been, so I took a look at the Library of Congress record for the magazine. It appears that from 1985-Jan 1991, the magazine was published weekly, but from Feb 1991 until now it was published bi-weekly. I expect that something about this may show up on SERIALST, eventually.

dixie chicks on the next geraldo!

It’s so beautiful outside today that I wish my campus had a campus-wide wireless network. That way, I could borrow a laptop and work on the lawn. Ahh… one can dream… The Specious Report has written a satire of Natalie Maines’ apology. I think it is much more appropriate. Geraldo Rivera has “volunteered” to leave … Continue reading “dixie chicks on the next geraldo!”

It’s so beautiful outside today that I wish my campus had a campus-wide wireless network. That way, I could borrow a laptop and work on the lawn. Ahh… one can dream…

The Specious Report has written a satire of Natalie Maines’ apology. I think it is much more appropriate.

Geraldo Rivera has “volunteered” to leave Iraq after broadcasting the location of the Army troops he was quasi-embedded with, as well as their possible future movements. I thought that the Fox News Channel was the breeding ground for conservative war hawks. I had no idea that they were actually working for Saddam!

Ever since the Patriot Act was passed in Congress, librarians have been discussing what to do about patron privacy. Booksellers have also been concerned, but their situation is somewhat more complex than libraries, since they have a history of using their customer histories to provide more customized service. One bookstore owner in Washington State has decided to not follow many libraries’ leads and is retaining his customer records in full. He briefly explains why he has made this decision, despite privacy concerns surrounding the Patriot Act.

public radio is endangered

I was talking with my Dean earlier today, and she told me about a network of Christian radio stations moving in to take out National Public Radio stations by taking over their frequencies. At first I thought it couldn’t be true, much less legal, but then I found a recent New York Times article reporting … Continue reading “public radio is endangered”

I was talking with my Dean earlier today, and she told me about a network of Christian radio stations moving in to take out National Public Radio stations by taking over their frequencies. At first I thought it couldn’t be true, much less legal, but then I found a recent New York Times article reporting on two NPR affiliate stations in Louisiana that were kicked off of the airwaves by American Family Radio resulting in a community of 95,000 people not having access to public radio (which includes local programming, unlike what AFR provides). As an on-air person at a local student-run radio station with a short broadcast range, this is disturbing to me.

“The Christian stations routed NPR in Lake Charles under a federal law that allows noncommercial broadcasters with licenses for full-power stations to push out those with weaker signals — the equivalent of the varsity team kicking the freshmen out of the gym.”

Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, Ombudsman for NPR has written a response to accusations of NPR having an agenda, liberal or otherwise, that is articulate and thoughtful.

If public radio was supposed to be an alternative, why do so many people feel excluded from those values?

Well, Congress voted yesterday. I knew they would give Dubya the power to join the “world’s worst leaders with the world’s worst weapons” but I kept hoping that more of them would hear the opposition (which is much larger and stronger than the media chooses to portray). Guess I should have known better, what with the elections being so soon.