50 book challenge

I plan to read at least 50 books this year.

I just read about this 50 Book Challenge thing on a variety of blogs, and it intrigued me. I keep a recently read list on this blog, and I was surprised to discover that I read 67 books last year. Some of them were short and fluffy, while a few were rather substantial. Most were read before July. I’ve gotten out of the habit of obsessive reading, and I’m thinking that a goal might help me get more motivated to make time for books. Also, the number 111 after my unread tag on LibraryThing is an unpleasant sight. So, I plan to participate in the 50 Book Challenge in some fashion. I have no goals beyond reading at least 50 books this year and I don’t have a list of what I will read beyond the unread books in my current and future collection.

library thing

About 95% of my permanent collection has been cataloged using LibraryThing. I’ve been having fun looking at the shelves of those who have similar libraries to my own. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best features of LibraryThing. I hope that a critical mass is reached that will make the social networking aspect of the catalogs a tremendously useful tool for reader advisory.

google print

My thoughts on Google Print, such as they are.

Benjamin asked for my opinion on Google Print. I started to reply in the comments, but it quickly grew from a small reply to something entry-sized:

I haven’t blogged on Google Print because I haven’t decided what I think about it. It’s gotten coverage on a variety of librarian blogs, as well as some public radio programs that I’ve heard.

The way I see it, it’s often difficult to find material in books because they aren’t always indexed very well. Unlike many journals, they aren’t available full-text so that you can search the entire book. Some companies are providing books in full-text formats, and there are several models for it, but their emphasis is on new books. I think what Google Print has to offer is full-text searching of old and out of print books. Often these have useful information for modern scholars.

My concern about Google Print is twofold:
1. Copyright — They need to be careful in not stepping over the line of copyright or else the whole project may be tainted.
2. Searching — If I’m doing scholarly research, I don’t want to get 10,000 hits on a keyword search. I’m not sure how Google’s relevance rankings will work for books, but I hope that the search results will be as precise and accurate as a good reference database’s.

I’m keeping an open mind, waiting to see how it all turns out. I don’t want to trash Google Print just because it may step on the toes of libraries. I do hope that libraries will keep the books that are scanned into Google Print, because I doubt our users who want to read the whole book rather than gleaning information from parts of it will be willing to read it on a computer screen or print out the entire thing. On the other hand, our emerging users are more comfortable with screen text than even my generation, so I could be wrong.


Finally, I have found an article on FRBR that makes sense to me. [LJ NetConnect, Spring 2005] I’ve been reading buzz about it in the library blogosphere for a while, but I couldn’t figure out what the thing was. Linda Gonzalez explains that FRBR “is a conceptual model for how bibliographic databases might be structured, considering what functions bibliographic records should fulfill in an era where card catalogs are databases with unique possibilities.”

For example, an OPAC using the FRBR principles would display on one screen all of the holdings for a journal, regardless of format and including title changes. This is an issue serials catalogers have been struggling with for decades, and the problem has only increased with the introduction of electronic formats. Instead of trying to find a way to loosen cataloging standards to incorporate public service needs, the burden of displaying data from the catalog in a user-friendly form would be placed on the database coding. Brilliant!

openurl, firefox, and google scholar

Peter Brinkley of the University of Alberta Libraries has developed a Firefox extension that adds an OpenURL button to Google Scholar search results.[web4lib]

“The purpose is to enable users at an institution that has an OpenURL link-resolver to use that resolver to locate the full text of articles found in Google Scholar, instead of relying on the links to publishers’ websites provided by Google. This is important because it solves the “appropriate copy problem”: the link to a publisher’s site is useless if you don’t have a subscription that lets you into that site, and your library may provide access to the same article in an aggregator’s package or elsewhere.”

From all appearances, this is a fantastic tool that embraces Google while still providing even more of that useful service that librarians do. If you have an OpenURL link resolver that you are able to tweak like SFX, go for it! (Next step, educate your users about Firefox….)

Update: One of the library coding gods, Art Rhyno, has developed a bookmarklet that prepends your library’s proxy server URL string to the links in the Google Scholar results. That’s another work-around if you don’t have an OpenURL link resolver. If it’s something your library gets, then you’ll get passed through authenticated to the full-text content. If not, then you can obtain access or the content some other way.

One snag I seen in all of this is that depending on how your proxy server is set up, this may not work. Some libraries *cough*UofKY*cough* use a proxy server that requires the user to make modifications to their web browser before authenticating them. I’m not sure whether or not this would cause confusion for the users who haven’t done that modification.