ER&L: Library Renewal

Speaker: Michael Porter

Libraries are content combined with community. Electronic content access is making it more challenging for libraries to accomplish their missions.

It’s easy to complain but hard to do. Sadly, we tend to complain more than doing. If we get a reputation for being negative, that will be detrimental. That doesn’t mean we should be Sally Sunshine, but we need to approach things with a more positive attitude to make change happen.

Libraries have an identity problem. We are tied to content (ie books). 95% of people in poverty have cable television. They can’t afford it, but they want it, so they get it. Likewise, mobile access to content is moving to ubiquitous.

Our identity needs to be moved back to content. We need to circ electronic content better than Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, etc.

Electronic content distribution is a complicated issue. Vendors in our market don’t have the same kind of revenue as companies like Apple. We aren’t getting the best people or solutions — we’re getting the good enough, if we’re lucky.

Could libraries became the distribution hub for media and other electronic content?

ER&L 2010: Adventures at the Article Level

Speaker: Jamene Brooks-Kieffer

Article level, for those familiar with link resolvers, means the best link type to give to users. The article is the object of pursuit, and the library and the user collaborate on identifying it, locating it, and acquiring it.

In 1980, the only good article-level identification was the Medline ID. Users would need to go through a qualified Medline search to track down relevant articles, and the library would need the article level identifier to make a fast request from another library. Today, the user can search Medline on their own; use the OpenURL linking to get to the full text, print, or ILL request; and obtain the article from the source or ILL. Unlike in 1980, the user no longer needs to find the journal first to get to the article. Also, the librarian’s role is more in providing relevant metadata maintenance to give the user the tools to locate the articles themselves.

In thirty years, the library has moved from being a partner with the user in pursuit of the article to being the magician behind the curtain. Our magic is made possible by the technology we know but that our users do not know.

Unique identifiers solve the problem of making sure that you are retrieving the correct article. CrossRef can link to specific instances of items, but not necessarily the one the user has access to. The link resolver will use that DOI to find other instances of the article available to users of the library. Easy user authentication at the point of need is the final key to implementing article-level services.

One of the library’s biggest roles is facilitating access. It’s not as simple as setting up a link resolver – it must be maintained or the system will break down. Also, document delivery service provides an opportunity to generate goodwill between libraries and users. The next step is supporting the users preferred interface, through tools like LibX, Papers, Google Scholar link resolver integration, and mobile devices. The latter is the most difficult because much of the content is coming from outside service providers and the institutional support for developing applications or web interfaces.

We also need to consider how we deliver the articles users need. We need to evolve our acquisitions process. We need to be ready for article-level usage data, so we need to stop thinking about it as a single-institutional data problem. Aggregated data will help spot trends. Perhaps we could look at the ebook pay-as-you-use model for article-level acquisitions as well?

PIRUS & PIRUS 2 are projects to develop COUNTER-compliant article usage data for all article-hosting entities (both traditional publishers and institutional repositories). Projects like MESUR will inform these kinds of ventures.

Libraries need to be working on recommendation services. Amazon and Netflix are not flukes. Demand, adopt, and promote recommendation tools like bX or LibraryThing for Libraries.

Users are going beyond locating and acquiring the article to storing, discussing, and synthesizing the information. The library could facilitate that. We need something that lets the user connect with others, store articles, and review recommendations that the system provides. We have the technology (magic) to make it available right now: data storage, cloud applications, targeted recommendations, social networks, and pay-per-download.

How do we get there? Cover the basics of identify>locate>acquire. Demand tools that offer services beyond that, or sponsor the creation of desired tools and services. We also need to stay informed of relevant standards and recommendations.

Publishers will need to be a part of this conversation as well, of course. They need to develop models that allow us to retain access to purchased articles. If we are buying on the article level, what incentive is there to have a journal in the first place?

For tenure and promotion purposes, we need to start looking more at the impact factor of the article, not so much the journal-level impact. PLOS provides individual article metrics.

NASIG 2008: Information Shadows – Ubiquitous Computing Serializes Everyday Things

Presenter: Mike Kuniavsky

Thinks about how technology and people interact with each other, and how the technological side can be made more interesting or better for the user.

Ubiquitous computing was coined to describe computers that are woven into every day life to the extent that they are indistinguishable from it. The power of technology should not be limited to viewing the world through its limited frame.

When something is cheap, you can have more than one, and with specific and varied uses. This is also a way of thinking of computer and networking technology. When processors were expensive, they had to serve multiple uses. Now that processing power is cheap, we have a wide array of products with different functions which all use these inexpensive processors.

When machine read-able code is meshed with human interface devices such as mobile phones, we are able to deliver even more information than what can be put on the packaging. Metadata can be attached to anything!

When Amazon expanded ISBN to ASINs, it allowed anyone to point to the “handle” for any object sold by Amazon. We can now grab that handle and toss it around as we wish.

For Kuniavsky, a serial is an agreement between a consumer and a publisher who provides a particular type of information in the form of a soft-cover book that arrives regularly in the mail. The paper manifestation of the agreement is one way it is fulfilled, but it’s not the only way.

A time-share condo is like a journal. The form and usage period is fixed, and the occupants are variable. (In this case, it’s as though the time-share condo is subscribed to you.) You own the possibility of an object with some rights to it forever. A vacation club changes the dynamic to owning the right to request a class of things that changes in a way that is predictably different.

Until recently, the logistics of sharing objects has been complex, unless the people involved were highly motivated. Ubiquitous computing gives us the ability to track, trade, and share objects in a way we never could before. Bag Borrow or Steal is a designer bag sharing site. It’s sort of like Netflix for the fashion-obsessed purse fiends.

The trackable metadata of physical objects that allow them to be converted to subscriptions. Technology enables these relationships to be embedded and automated. We are shifting from the ownership of objects to access to them.

Technologists often leave out the information management aspects when talking about the wonders of technology. Librarians and information managers understand how to deal with the digital representations of physical objects. We need to think about how our can work apply to the serialization of everyday objects.

The world needs shadow wranglers.

a few things

On Sunday, I tried out Skype for the first time. I had installed it on my laptop and gotten a headset and microphone earlier in the week because I had a phone interview with Susan Werner scheduled on Saturday. I thought I could use Skype and record the conversation to my laptop. Instead, I ended up using a speaker phone and recording the conversation to minidisc. So, it wasn’t until Sunday that I decided to give it a go and call my parents via Skype’s free domestic calls special (until the end of the year). Impressive. The sound quality was better than what I usually get on my cheap cell phone.

The interview with Susan Werner was awesome and a lot of fun. My week has been a bit much, but I hope to have the transcript transcribed and edited for public consumption by Saturday. It will be posted here as well as on Blogcritics.org. If you haven’t downloaded Susan’s alternative national anthem (“My Strange Nation”) yet, do it now.

Also on Sunday, I decided I’d better finally watch the two Netflix DVDs I’ve had for nearly two months. That was when I discovered I had misplaced them. After a frantic ten minute search of the house, I gave up and instead watched some stuff I’d downloaded a while ago. I let it simmer until last night, when in a flash of insight after some more searching I remembered one more place I might have stashed them, and there they were. However, by that point it was nearing midnight and I decided that Battlestar Galactica and Crash can wait for the weekend. Particularly since I’ll have Monday off, too!

la la

A few weeks ago, I heard about a new online service that’s sort of like a mashup of Netflix and a swap meet. Members can list CDs they’re willing to swap on la la, along with their wishlist. The system alerts members when one of their available CDs is wanted by another member, at which point they have a the choice of sending it to the member in the pre-paid envelope provided by la la, or declining. You can receive one CD for free, but if you want more it’ll cost $1 + $0.49 for shipping. Not bad considering that it costs $0.99+tax for just one song on iTunes. As long as you are sending as much as you’re receiving, you get new music for cheap. So far, I’ve sent out two CDs with no problems and I’m waiting on my first request to arrive. The only down side is that it’s all dependent on what other members are willing to swap. It may cost more to buy a new or used CD elsewhere (or download a bunch of iTunes songs), but you get them as soon as you buy them, and sometimes that’s worth paying for.