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January 31, 2004


In other news:

I've been offered a 10-week internship in the news library of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I'd be stunned, but I'm rather caught up in my draft. It'll sink in soon ...

Wow. Getting a position (albeit extremely temporary) in the very occupation that I went to school for ... that's never happened to me before.

Anyone with tips on news librarianship, Atlanta or living in a place for more than 2 weeks but less than 6 months ... hit that Comment link. T'would be much appreciated. And I'll send you goo-goo clusters(?) from there.


For those of you who wondered if I had already thrown in the towel on this blog ... my apologies.

As you can guess from the funky base URL, Confessions is on a homegrown set-up. It resides on a home network that connects to the outside world from its little Linux box via microwave broadband. Turns out there was a firmware bug of some sort and the one-entity ISP was out of town.

The disadvantages of a home network ...

And while it was a situation over which I had no control, I do again apologize to anyone left scratching their head. I realized two things during my enforced hiatus:

1) I would love it if Movable Type had a client-side app for creating new entries. Yes, I could have just opened a text editor and typed stuff in to cut and paste later. But I really got hooked on XJournal for the Mac, which allows you to create and save ready-made LiveJournal posts while offline. I used it a fair bit to blog bits of MidWinter, even though I did end up cutting and pasting the material I put here (yes, I put almost all of my slack-jawed yokel posts in my personal journal). I think an offline MT app would be a useful, though not needful, thing.

2) Confessions really isn't ready for prime time, but at some point ... I might consider hosting options. I don't think the TypePad option is quite the way to go, but I could be wrong. But that's WAY off in the future ...

In the meantime ... it feels good to be back.

January 22, 2004

Blankety blank blank

There are three odd things about this entry:

1) It has almost nothing whatsoever to do with libraries.*

2) I'm not a big reader of the SF Chronicle. Its Calendar/Lifestyle section does not send me to the moon. (It has a great news library where I would LOVE to work ... ahem)

3) I'm one of those freaks who seem to be congentially unable to use swear words properly and naturally. Too many years as a Sunday school teacher (yes, really), I suspect. I've tried. I've failed. My mother uses saltier language than I do. **


There's currently a bill in Congress, drafted by a CA legislator, that would make certain words illegal to air on broacast TV. Mind you, the FCC has long-established precedent in assessing penalties on stations that air Carlin's 7 dirty words (and a few others), but that was semi-overturned when the Commission ruled late last year that Bono's expletive that wasn't bleeped by NBC didn't violate FCC rules because he used the term as an adjective without any sexual connotations.

Tim Goodman, the SF Chronicle's TV reviewer, has a brilliantly funny take on the bill, the situation that provoked it, and where Michael Powell can place it and his visions of media deregulation -- hint: the sun doesn't shine there, and it's not the dark side of the moon.

* Thanks to Chris Zammarelli for the links. And as pointed out by a denizen of LibraryUnderground ... would libraries that get the E-rate (and thus must use Internet filters on all machines) be able to access the bill itself online?

** In case you think I'm a total priss, among the comedian(nes) that I adore are: Robin Williams, Lewis Black, George Carlin (early stuff), Eddie Izzard and Margaret Cho. And I can watch Kevin Smith movies all day long ...


Yes, I'm contaminating my research, but this is slightly important in my twisted worldview. And: if you're in California, and you support CLA's stance, join and put your money where your mouth is.
- CLA member as of a half-hour ago

From a press release issued today:

ACLU and California Library Association Launches Campaign to Take Action
Against the Patriot Act and Restore Constitutional Rights

Groups Urge Congress to Reject Bush Call to Make PATRIOT Act Permanent
and Call for Support of the SAFE Act
To view the ad and Safe Act: http://aclunc.org/911/040122-safeact.html

SAN FRANCISCO - The ACLU and the California Library Association (CLA)
are calling upon voters to urge their California representatives to
support legislation that would roll back some of the USA PATRIOT Act's
most dangerous provisions, including the government's ability to
indiscriminately search individual's library records, Internet activity
and bookstore purchases.

"Several of the provisions in the USA Patriot Act go too far and
increase the chances that innocent Americans will be swept into
terrorism investigations by removing traditional checks and balances on
law enforcement and oversight powers from the judiciary," said Dorothy
Ehrlich, Executive Director of the ACLU-NC. "That is why we are
launching this campaign today, to bring the Patriot Act back in line
with the Constitution by urging our representatives to endorse the SAFE

As part of the campaign, full-page ads in twelve alternative newspapers
throughout California, with a combined circulation of more then one
million, will start running on January 21-28. The headline in the ad
reads:"Don't you hate it when someone reads over your shoulder?
Especially when that someone is the Justice Department" and calls upon
individuals to contact their representatives and urge them to support
the SAFE Act. To date, northern California representatives Lynn Woolsey,
Barbara Lee, and Pete Stark are co-sponsors of the bill.

"In the State of the Union, President Bush called on Congress to make
permanent some of the worst provisions in the USA Patriot Act," said Bob
Kearney, Associate Director of the ACLU-NC. "We are calling on the
Northern California delegation to lead Congress in the opposite
direction. We must pass the SAFE Act."

Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced the
SAFE Act late last year and Representative Butch Otter (R-ID) introduced
a companion bill in the house. The bill, if passed, would do the

* Limit the government's ability to conduct widespread searches
of an individual's records, without probable cause or individualized

* Limit the government's use of "sneak and peek searches" and
require notification within seven days (currently notification can be
delayed indefinitely);

* Make sure that intelligence agents cannot search library
records unless there is suspicion that an individual is involved with a
foreign power.

"Your public library should be a SAFE haven where you can be assured
that, whatever magazine you read, web site you visit or book you check
out, that information will be kept private," said Susan Hildreth, CLA
President. "We support the SAFE Act so that libraries can continue to
remain institutions of free expression and exploration of ideas. We are
proud that the California Library Association and the ACLU-NC have
forged this partnership to restore our precious constitutional rights."

Chair of the CLA's Intellectual Freedom Committee, Karen Schneider
added: "The Patriot Act is a clear and present danger to our civil
liberties, and an assault on free speech in an open society. This is an
important time for advocates of free speech everywhere to join forces to
defend our Constitutional rights."

The PATRIOT Act was rushed through Congress in just 45 days after the
terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. On Wednesday, Los Angeles
became the largest locality to join over 230 governing bodies --
including the state legislatures of Hawaii, Alaska and Vermont - to pass
resolutions opposing provisions of the PATRIOT Act. In northern
California alone, resolutions were passed 47 communities San Francisco,
San Jose and Sacramento.

"As we strive to protect our country, we must remember to uphold the
very freedoms we seek to protect," Ehrlich said. "In the aftermath of
9/11 many liberties were curtailed, but now, millions of Americans are
demanding that freedom be restored to keep America both safe and free."

Through a website www.aclunc.org/freedom the ACLU and CLA are urging
individuals to send letters to their U.S. Senators and Representatives
urging them to support the Safe Act. Both the ACLU of Northern
California and the ACLU of Southern California along with the California
Library Association are launching the campaign.

January 21, 2004

Spreading the word

Sent via Joan Goddard and Karen Schneider on CALIX-L ... originated from Mitch Freedman. If you have ideas, post them below ... I left out the contact emails for the people involved, but if you leave a comment with your addy attached, I'll forward it to you with all the contact info:

January 21, 2004

Dear Colleagues,

Please forgive any duplication.

We need your input for a 12-minute video and related training materials
to promote improved compensation and pay equity for librarians and
library workers. We would like to hear your anecdotes, war stories, and
examples that highlight important aspects of the issue, such as:

* amusing or illustrative examples of a patron's unsuccessful efforts to
find information via Google, and how a librarian ("the ultimate search
engine") saved the day

* anecdotes demonstrating aspects of library work that are valuable to
the community but aren't reflected in compensation

* stories about dangers and other unique challenges on the job that
the general public might not expect library staff to face

* the level of pay of librarians and support staff relative to other
occupations, and the cost of supporting a family; documented examples of
poor pay for librarians and/or support staff

* stories about struggles to gain and protect even modest salary

* any other suggestions, information or examples that demonstrate the
high value that librarians and library workers provide to their patrons,
in contrast to the level of salaries that they are paid.

Please feel free to forward this message to any list or people who might
be able to contribute.

The comments from the other affiliates, the various other roundtables,
the type of library and type of work divisions lists, and the
chapters/state association lists would be especially helpful, too, but
we didn't have e-mail privileges for them. Also, if any lists or
individuals who should have been included were omitted, please forward
this message to them, as well as the aforementioned roundtables,
divisions, chapters/state associations, and affiliates.

January 20, 2004

Collectivism rears its ugly head

I'm struggling with defining my methodology, so posting may well be somewhat light for a while.

In the meantime, please enjoy Prof. Lessig's elaboration on the 'Dean-Copps-Lessig version of the Internet'.

Copps, by the way, refers to Michael J. Copps, one of two 'liberal' members of the 5-person FCC who helped beat the drum last year warning the public of the FCC's plans to extend radio deregulation rulemaking for cross-ownership to television. Copps is now fighting the battle to keep the same thing fromhappening to the Internet as we currently know it.

January 19, 2004


It's Martin Luther King Day (I used to greet people with "Happy Martin!"). While it will be difficult to turn on the TV news and not hear a snippet of the "I Have a Dream" speech, you may want to check out some more diverse material via Stanford's King Papers Project. My own favourite is the Beyond Vietnam speech.

In an attempt to make this relevant to this particular blog, two observations:

1) As far as I know, Dr. King didn't talk about library service directly, but I think he would have been heartened by Carla Hayden's focus on equity of access within libraries as ALA President.

2) Here's something that a lot of people probably don't know (although some do): King's writings, speeches, sermons, etc. are all copyrighted to his Estate and that copyright is vigourously enforced. I mean, CTEA would have covered his work regardless unless he explicitly put it into the public domain anyway, but it saddens me nonetheless. And I can see why he did it. The Nobel Prize doesn't pay THAT much, activism doesn't pay and there are still a lot of poor Baptist preachers out there, I don't care what you see on TBN. And he left a wife and four small children. Control over his work was the best financial security he could leave for them.

Assuming life + 75 years ... there's another 39 years before King's works will pass into the public domain. And while the King Papers Project is doing the Lord's work in keeping the works available for scholars and laymen, there's so much more that can and should be done. At least we still have fair use (for now).

January 18, 2004


(Warning: for anyone of you that had to sit near me at Midwinter as person after person asked me about my thesis ... skip this post. Really, there isn't much new and you should be well nigh sick of this. Especially you, Rick [if you're reading this] ... you must have heard this 10 times already ... go play)

I've mentioned here and there that I'm working on a thesis as the culmination of the MLS program at SJSU. It's one of three options at SLIS ... I assume that most MLIS students write some form of thesis or have a comprehensive.

Thus far, it's been a frightening, alienating experience. Much beating about the head and shoulders about why I did this option, as opposed to others. However, after approximately 7 months of making the proposal, finding a committee, spending too much time, money and gasoline searching for documents, risking my immune system with 50 year old tomes ... I have a title. And a title is a big deal. I don't feel involved and committed to the papers I write until I have a title.

Mind you, it's not a great title:

Irreconcilable Allegiances: A Qualitative Evaluation and Comparison of the Reactions of American Librarians and other Library Workers to Government Concerns over National Security and Libraries in the Early Cold War and the Post-September 11th Eras

but what would you expect from a thesis?

Still working on the abstract ...

Intellectual freedom as an operating principle of American librarianship was still a fairly new concept when confronted by the political pressures of the Cold War, motivated by concerns over national security. The aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks and the current War on Terrorism have also resulted in threats to information access. This paper reviews and compares the reactions of librarians to infringing behavior for both periods by examining the professional literature of the time ...

Despite my horoscope (week of Jan. 15, 2004), perhaps things will come together after all. Fingers crossed.

January 17, 2004

An interesting juxtaposition

Heather Ebey of Librarian Way has a great synopsis of some major digitization projects going on, including one at Stanford, about which my boss's boss's boss's boss has been interviewed in several venues. (People just love to hear about robots ...) The end of the interview correlates very closely with Keller et al.'s First Monday article on the continuing values of libraries in the Digital Age.

Very much more optimistic than the article that inspired the previous entry.

January 16, 2004

The Twilight of Digitalization?

This article was linked in a post on LISNews and while I'm sure that all three of you reading this have already seen it there. And you saw that I commented on it there, as well. So why drag it over here? I couldn't resist, exactly.

I'm hesitant to call the author's argument wrong-headed, although a lot of people may do just that (and they wouldn't necessarily be wrong). Thomas Hecker makes a number of arguments and assumptions ... and some of them are pretty familiar, actually:

  • Paper is a superior form for long-term archival storage and access
  • To some extent, librarians and archivists aren't in full control of efforts to preserve electronic journal content -- it is, and indeed should be, a cooperative effort with journal publishers and content generators (i.e. authors), but truthfully ... given the state of copyright and the scholarly communications landscape, the preservation community is not in the driver's seat and it's taking a considerable amount of time and effort to 1) get the cooperation of all the other actors and 2) work out all of the details to make our efforts as much of a win-win situation as we can
  • Redundancy in preservation efforts (physical or digitally oriented) is not wasted effort; in fact, it's our best bet for making sure that things survive because ... well, stuff happens -- at the digital end, this principle is the key premise of Stanford University LOCKSS initiative: Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe

Setting aside all of the arguments regarding global material resources management and sustainability ... his conclusions at the end of the article give me cause to practice my Spock impression (that is, raise one eyebrow):

Academic libraries that commit wholeheartedly to digital books and journals are opting to serve only the present without an eye to the future. Academic libraries that maintain a robust physical archive will not only be serving the present but will be preserving the past and the present for the future.

Are academic libraries taking a major risk in shifting towards electronic-only material as a substantial basis for their collections and practices? Yup. Are we doing this blindly out of naive, misplaced technophilia? Maybe some are, but I would suspect that most aren't. There are supply and demand issues with electronic vs. print formats that libraries must contend with, and we must do that in under the pressure of stagnant or dwindling capital resources. I tend to check myself when I hear about academic libraries who decide to go all-digital for their journal collections (Drexel, I'm looking at you ... you too, Princeton), but 1) not everyone is going that route and 2) it's worth a shot. I suppose my point (and I do have one, in addition to the one on the top of my head) is librarians aren't thinking that one format, one medium, one standard practice will save us from the decline of civilization. Starting from that premise is so counterproductive that it's distracting.

And yes, I was serious in my comment on LISNews: I kept on flashing to Isaac Asimov's Nightfall while reading the article and I wanted to giggle. Unfair of me, but then again, I'm pretty sure that "Nightfall" was the first sci-fi literature I was exposed to -- at the tender age of 8 (same year I started drinking coffee ... coincidence?).

My $0.02, YMMV, etc. Comments, corrections, reinterpretations and clarifications welcome. So are coupons for Peet's coffee, which is neither here nor there.

January 14, 2004

Caveat lector

I'm still recovering from San Diego. And there are still a few entries I have to post from ALA Midwinter. They're mostly from multi-panel presentations, and I didn't do the best job of capturing everything that was said, but I think there was some interesting themes addressed.

There are also some entries in my personal LJ that are more personal takes on the conference. They're not here because they are gushingly, whiz-bang-gee unprofessional and I'm still getting my bearings. I met a lot of people. I participated a lot of interesting discussions. Some scales dropped from my eyes. There's a lot I need to sort out about what I want to do within this profession.

I'm really excited ... about a lot of things.

Edit: While I was occupied, Steven Cohen added his own Library Deathmatch bouts ... cool ones, too.

The Post-CIPA world

Unfortunately, I missed the President's keynote at ALA, but Jessamyn West covered it briefly. Sounds like it was a really different take on the post-CIPA landscape, and I look forward to seeing the presentation in detail online.

January 12, 2004

LITA: Top Tech Trends

(Caveat lector: I'm posting this for some personal sense of completion ... I didn't do a good job of taking notes, in part because I arrived late by a 1/2-hour or so, I sat way in the back since it was a very popular and thus full session and I'm simply not good at tracking interspersed voices. If you get anything out of these notes, hooray. If you find better sets of notes online, please add a comment/drop me a line with the link ...)

Top Tech Trends -- Sunday, January 11, 2004 8:30 am - 11:00 am

Cliff Lynch, moderator
Walt Crawford
Roy Tennant
Joan Frye Williams
Thomas Wilson
Tom Dowling
Marshall Redding

overuse of XML (not so much in the library world, but in the corporate world -- too many assumptions made about the synatic interoperatibility of mapped terms/field/values); This does not (yet) occur in the library world;the barriers of entry for XML have been greatly reduced, but the knowledge of how to use XML properly/fittingly is easier to skip now, hence increasing misuse

swamping of search results; any tool -- XML, portals -- can be used poorly

meta-searching -- we need to think about the end result, which could easily overwhelm the user; tailored searching/multiple portals can reign in the possibility of chaos

The meta-search function goes back 20 years, and there were problems then that were blamed on the technology (unfairly) -- what makes it different now?

Ideal reference is too idealized; oftentimes, 'good enough' is what the person needs, not 'perfect'

We never had complete control over taxonomy, categorization and interpretation

There is always semantic issues, and that will continue, regardless of the tool

IS conferences are starting to look at personal information mgmt and looking beyond 'information discovery'

Information tools are two things: branded products and bodies of discrete particles of content; Metasearch and OpenURL resolvers work to add layers of granularity to search inquiries

Our systems and interfaces are too rigid; our tools may be better/more precise, but are not popular

We need to change our mental metaphor of how to present information tools

We cannot satisfy all of the information needs to everyone; but there is a sense that libraries can be the first resort in some areas, the back-up in others, and the last resort in still others ... for issues of the first resort, certain tools don't work well

Libraries now have disintegrated library automation systems; it doesn't have to be a single turnkey operation from one vendor, but there needs to be intelligent communication between components and cross-functionality

There is no protocol/standard that can't be corrupted by a vendor in order to hold an advantage over a customer base; it's not a level playing field

Libraries should be using broad protocols rather than trying to create its own; however, there's a market trend of customization for librarians/libraries

Eventually, library automation systems are going to have to evolve, which will be hard for legacy systems

There are grassroots movements surrounding technology trends: 1) the serials crisis and increasing faculty disapproval; 2) pessimism over RFID tags; 3) Diversity in networks (moving away from one server, one OS, one workstation type) -- computer security is ultimately an unwinnable race)

We've been told that people want lots of options and menus and interfaces -- the iPod is a significant trend away from this : simpler interface

There is both convergence and division of features/functionality: some people want everything in one object, some want single-function objects

Overautomation: people want automation at the customer end, but just because we can automate doesn't necessarily mean we should

Personnel issues: people are being redeployed instead of being laid off

There's paranoia over RFID tags, but no one seems to worry about Bluetooth/Wi-fi

There's not much talk about DRM, but there's talk about the tools used/can be used to establish DRM restrictions

Data back-ups among the corporate world is growing -- keeping data in multiple locations

January 10, 2004

Info Commons meeting notes

[Previous remarks missed]
Frederick Emrich -- definitions of information commons

Forum/discussion --

Comments: in common parlance, "commons" are perceived/assumed to be market failures; economists are starting to study the commons; "the tragedy of the commons"; Eleanor Ostrum - different types of common resources; Carol Rosen - the comedy of the commons; an new paradigm of resources, not based on scarcity

important to make counter-models, but also make arguments not based on economics/value -- "there are things that should not be evaluated just on an economic [basis]."

Important to go beyond current market models back to earlier political economy; cultural democracy as a core value

Arguments based on: commons as essential component of democracy; broader welfare of society

ALA needs to go towards the open access/Creative Commons model with its own intellectual property

The spectrum and the commons -- how do we maintain it; what infrastructure, protection, norms, governance does it get/build

Maintaining the commons means making sure that things enter the commons -- such as the public domain; for-profit and scholarly access is not an either/or proposition

As publishers shift from print to print/online to print only, how does the pre-print access work?

There is a fundamental conflict between market and conflict; if ALA is going to be a player, it has to change its policies regarding 1) copyright sign-offs and 2) continued retention of Jenner and Block

We have to speak out, educate ourselves and learn more about 1) the bigger picture and 2) individual actions

Why can't ALA create its own commons?

Must look at policy issues as well

Metaphor of the commons and the reality of the commons -> look at the philosophy and best practices

Public space as the commons; "the library is the original information commons" - Nancy Kranich

Info Commons workshop in Cerritos at the Cerritos Public Library in March 2004; conference centre on the third floor

Economic pressures on the physical space of public libraries as a part of the commons

Looking at art spaces and as a commons example

Larry Lessig at ALISE -- intellectual property and how it inhibits innovation and creativity

Creating the narrative to change notions of property

Moral rights -- separate from economic rights (ex.: attribution rights, association rights)

Moral rights cut both ways, usually a benefit, but can be a detriment -- can be used to stop parody or satire based on derivative works

Examples of commons aren't comprehensively catalogued, but there are working definitions and identifiers of commons

Important not to inflate community with commons

Public and school librarians also need to be part of this work/committee

Proposal -- one of the largest encroachment on the commons has been CTEA, which is keeping a large amount of material out of the public domain; 50-100 librarians holding a protest against Disney's role in CTEA at DisneyWorld, with signs that violate the copyright on Mickey

Entire issue on School Library Journal on Knowledge Quest and the information commons(?)

Getting oriented

Because it was my first ALA conference, I went to the New Members Round Table Orientation. I got second tote bag (in addition to the main conference tote). I wonder if there's a market on eBay for these things.

Karen Cook -- ALA 101: How ALA Works
It's okay to be late to an event; multitasking is expected
ALA has 64,000 members; very complex organization
Why to get involved in ALA: 1) learn about the profession; 2) improve one's job skills; 3) network; 4) serve the profession; 5) serve your community
How to get involved (Cook's 6 paths of enlightenment):
1) attend as many conferences as you can -- conferences help you stay abreast in your field and network with other professionals; lots of financial help to attend conferences (school, national assn, regional/state assn.)
2) Read! ALA publications, library journals, books, list-servs/websites
3) Get active in NMRT -- learn the ropes in NMRT and get on a committee; meet movers and shakers who also get their start in NMRT; serve as a NMRT liaison to another unit
4) Get involved at the local level - school chapters, state & regional associations
5) Learn about ALA via the ALA website and handbook; attend committee meetings and keep showing up; go to interest group meetings
6) Sometimes the key is being there, showing up, being willing to work

Go to the exhibit hall ... it's never too early to form good relationships with vendors

Direction of the profession -- physical materials and spaces are only part of what we do, and we need embrace

Sally Gibson -- NMRT initiatives: How to get the most out of MidWinter
Getting involved helps get you more invested in ALA as a whole, and in the conferences; guaranteed one-year committee appointments available to NMRT members; a lot of committee work is virtual, but committees do meet in-person at conferences; interns also appointed from NMRT to other units
Getting involved in multiple assns.: be realistic about your limitations

Carla Hayden --
Key part of conference: meeting colleagues from across the country
Get involved with committees
ALA serves not only the profession, but serves the public

Keith Michael Fiels --
Join. Be active. Get involved. ALA welcomes you. (Okay, he was very charming, and told a couple of interesting stories about how he got involved in ALA, but the above is basically what it boiled down to ...)

Walt Crawford -- Publishing in the Library Field
First Have Something to Say, Chapter 2 - "Room for One More"
The worst reason to write is because you have to.
Write what you know/are in
Many, many venues for library publishing -- workplace newsletter, association newsletter, etc.
Don't be afraid to submit to American Libraries or Library Journal
Write on what you do or would read
Do your best, regardless of what you write, for whatever venue you choose
ALA publications look for new authors and freelance submissions
Develop a thick skin -- if you never get rejected, you're not trying hard enough
Non-traditional publishing -- if you're comfortable with it, go for it
Writing is a great way to meet people -- editors, collaborators, fellow writers, etc.

January 09, 2004

Taming the Electronic Tiger

My first event at Midwinter was an ALCTS pre-Conference symposium called "Taming the Electronic Tiger". I really don't see myself in an academic library position post-MLS, but if there is one area that tempts me, it's the digital resources arena. And this preconference dealt with the nuts and bolts of electronic resources management (ERM). It was sponsored by EBSCO and another vendor, and the audience was predominantly academic librarians.

I didn't stay for the entire thing (I left right before the panel on usage statistics started ... shame on me) and I didn't take notes on everything (I largely ignored the vendors' roundtable). But I did manage to get some of the highlights of the various panels, which is a testimony to the speakers' -- I'm not well-versed in most of the standards, protocols or software that were mentioned but I still feel that I got a lot out of the symposium:

Richard Boss -- The Role of Automated Library System
Electronic materials are high priorities for academic AND public libraries
For every cent spent in designing a system to hold/store/maintain electronic collections, you will spend .5 cents each year to maintain the system itself
How to choose a package? What are the details of the turnkey system you have/decide to buy?
Features/issues to consider:
* Scope of coverage * Can you put into the database a copy of the contract? * Costs? -- What's the pricing structure? Is a payment history available?* Access methods (terms, restrictions, actual process) * Administrative details -- How easy is it to renew? How is notification sent out? * Contact history * Usage statistics -- the aggregator or database producer usually work on this (Important element -- ascertaining cost-per-use; usage statistics and ERM costs must be merged/analyzed together on an individual basis [is not a standard functionality of current turnkey solutions]

Vendor survey

Out of 5 vendors surveyed (the speaker's outline mentioned a 6th - Endeavor - but I didn't catch the details of it), only one (Innovative) had an ERM product in the market at the time of the presentation; another product (by VTLS) was to be unveiled at the conference.

What to do in the meantime:
Current products that handle some ERM functions --
Ebsco (focused on e-journals nearly exclusively)

Requirements development:
Lack of association-wide standards
Aggregated standards document: "Report of the DLF Electronic Resource Management Initiative. Appendix A: Functional Requirements for Electronic Resources Management"

Right now, there's no one product that meets all of the specs laid out in the above document; As library automated systems move to XML, interfaces for ERM will get easier; 2005 should be a better year to ascertain the state of ERM and one that vendors should be focusing on

Q&A: Goldrush is not efficient or effective for patrons/end users

Standards being developed for these systems: DLF Initiatives; standards based on NISO standards; XML standards; APIs

Sandra Hull -- Positive Reinforcement, or, A Primer in Tiger Taming
If we're thinking about ERM, beyond one journal or one module ... consider the information environment we are operating in
The information environment: the library is only one but an integral part of the community
There is more than just licensed products to take into account: Demands and expectations have changed enormously and continue to change rapidly; people are working in different groups than they used to (intra and inter-collaboration by faculty
Resources are shrinking, but needs aren't
Extremely important -- user interface: the metaphor is instant gratification (think remote control) - easy navigation, easy to understand, smooth integration of access points, good search and retrieval; authentication; mechanics: printing, downloading, ILL
Back office pieces: UI, search, retrieval, display, link "out", authentication; mechanics (printing, downloading, ILL); TCO - total cost of ownership; resource management (time, data, infrastructure, people, money)
Build it yourself or buy a turnkey solution (remember maintenance costs, time, labour, etc.)?; how do you go forward?; smart buying decisions

Management interface: customizable (though it will never be a perfect fit for any one customer/library); ease of use
Search: powerful and sophisticated search options, federated searching (across multiple resources of various types -- full-text, e-journals, A&I databases, local interest databases); integrated and linked results lists (for example, via resolvers)
OpenURL linking -- important piece of the puzzle
ERM -- managing electronic resources
Beyond the ILS -- what else is happening within our institutions; what are the information needs of the broader community we serve? We're not addressing the collaboration space; information is being shared between institutions -- how is the library impacting/assisting that?
Future developments
-- Adding data sources (that are increasingly diverse and specialized)
-- Further integration into the library portal
-- Integration beyond the library portal
Challenges: multiple, non-standard, fluid, data formats from hundreds of sources -- how to keep up; realities of present technology choices, current limitations to apply uniform relevancy ranking, taxonomy and auto-classification to results; political realities -- balancing multiple entities within the larger organization; staff; budget

Norm Medeiros -- House of Horrors - Exorcising Electronic Resources
"We are all just prisoners of our own device" -- "Hotel California," The Eagles
Access / Administration / Control
Access - electronic resources are problematic, but so is print to some extent (ex.: serials); Michael Gorman got it wrong when he predicted that e-journals would be a minor, if not dying, aspect of the serials landscape
Problems: What is the role of the catalog? (what's the access point); redundant effort; thousands of e-journals; single-record vs. multi-record approach
Solutions: automated MARC-record creation; purchase of MARC record sets; database-driven web lists; personalized web sites
Administrative metadata (use statistics, license details, payment/subscription details, etc.): who cares about it? -- Tech services staff, reference librarians, ILL staff, statisticians
"E-journals are a pain in my ass." - Marilyn Cramer
Administration areas : Licensing, purchasing, administration
* Licensing: ILL, remote access, course management use, concurrent use
* Purchasing: Vendor name, expiration date, pricing model, consortial agreement
* Administration: OpenURL compliance, availability of usage stats, passwords, contact info
Pioneering systems: MIT's Vera, Penn State's ERLIC, John Hopkins HERMES
Tri-College's ERTS: Electronic Resources Tracking System (developed by Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges); database that stores and provides access to administrative metadata; limited duplication with ILS -- 4 categories: licensors, purchases, titles, vendors
DLF Electronic Resource Management Initiative (ERMI) -- a standards initiative for ERM
Libraries have been enticing users to e-resources and are close to losing control; there's a bunch of problems: issues late; access turned off; users discover problem before the library
Solutions: dispatch data
E-journals have not solved the serials crisis, but has in some aspects exacerbated it
Many faculty view e-journals as complements, not replacements to print journals
Divorcing the 'big deal'
Open access: the answer to our prayers? -- ex.: Public Library of Science; big money: Wellcome Trust and Howard Hughes Medical Institute will fund PLoS authorship; author fees: sustainable pricing model?; high impact
Medeiros (paraphrased)- 'I'm concerned with long-term preservation, but I'm VERY concerned with balancing my budget today. I can't look 10 years down the line when I can't balance my serials budget'.
As we go more a la carte and break from the 'big box' packages, usage stats will become important, if not essential, in deciding what to keep and what to let go.
DIY database systems for administrative metadata-- not recommended by Medeiros as of today: there are traditional and open-source products already on the market or in the pipeline

Tim Bucknall -- Keeping electronic resource management user-centered
KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid: Why aren't libraries more KISSable
User-centered design - Google?
User-centered - empowering users do find the results they want/need
UC principles:
1) offer tiered search options, and keep advanced options on an advanced search page
2) display information in friendly and advanced formats; limit the basic display to the info that meets the need of most of your users
3) user can metasearch one place with simplified interface, but still has access to more powerful search tools
4) if you categorize, do it on the basis of something the users understand and care about
5. make the system match user behaviour , don't try and make the user match the system's behaviour
6. don't make the user jump thru any extra hoops
7. make sure and put what the user is looking for where they look for it
8. find popular and successful features elsewhere and emulate them

Understand how your patrons use your system!

Assessment: anecdotal evidence, web log files and other statistics (must look at them carefully, might be misleading), usability testing

Keeping Database Access User-Centered
Put links everywhere (you'll have to use some sort of system/turnkey product to maintain/check all the URLs); must count stats
Implementing a link-resolver cause a major change in the way in which patrons access databases
Make remote access as seamless and as context sensitive as possible
pet peeve - dividing resources into poorly defined categories

Keeping Journal Access User-Centered
1) comprehensive - a single simple search interface ALL options for finding full-text journal literature
2) integrated - ALL options are available to you, no matter what

Friedemann Wiegel (Harrasowitz) -- Taming the Tiger Technologically: Through the Standards Jungle in 30 Minutes (and Out Against Unscathed!)

The ERM Standards Jungle
The Challenges: information and access = a coppice (complicated dance) of standards, a real jungle; standards don't work; a 'map' is needed
ERM model 1a: content -the raison d'�tre, access, acquisition (licensing not mentioned)
Model 1b: Content (includes storage and archival material), Identification (indentifiers and metadata), Licensing, Access, Acquisition
Model 2: resource evaluation; selection; licensing; ordering; payments; receiving; access and control

Model 1b and standards: Content -- SMGL (such as XML); Acquisitions -- ONIX & EDIX; Access -- ONIX (Online Networked[?] Information eXchange); Licensing -- MGPEG (MPEG 21 -- multimedia framework), a licensing standard?

EDI cycle: working for the big players, not working for the small ones; 95% of Fortune 1000 companies use it; 98% of SMEs don't

Minor amusements

I didn't really cover the vendor's roundtable section of the Electronic Resources symposium. However, my ears did prick up every time I heard this (and I heard it at least twice):

"And our pricing is publicly posted!"

The sneaky b-i-t-c-a-s (pronounced "bit-KAS," per Xander). Getting transparent on us. What's next, allowing for customizable component deals for electronic materials? Nah.

January 08, 2004


I'm about to go to my first ALA conference. And I'm a bundle of nerves. I think it would be natural to be really nervous if this was my first-ever library conference, but it'll be my fourth: I've been to 2 SLA Conferences (2002 & 2003) and last year's Internet Librarian conference sponsored by Information Today. But with ALA, I'm very nervous. I feel like I have a lot at stake.

1) There are a few really inspiring people I hope to meet, and hope not to irritate them to distraction by either a) sucking up to them like a giant Hoover, b) leaving them in terrible awe and wonderment at my shocking lack of manners and charm and interesting things to say or c) make their skin crawl just by staring at them slack-jawed and glassy-eyed.

2) I want to pinhole an editor and see if he's still interested in an article I submitted but haven't heard about in about six months.

3) I get to test-drive the professional resume and see how bad it truly is.

4) It will be my first opportunity to find out if I belong in ALA.

5) It will be an opportunity to find out if I belong in librarianship.

#4 is actually pretty important. I love SLA and I plan to be a member as long as I can afford it. I've learned so much by being involved with the local chapter, attending the conferences and networking with the people in my chapter and my division. And news librarians can party like you wouldn't believe.

But I don't think I really belong in SLA. I break out in a rash whenever someone brings up the word 'marketing', SLA's focus on best practices isn't designed to inculcate new members of the profession who may not have a set of standard practices yet and while the national will take some stands on issues that affect all sorts of libraries (such as filing amicus briefs along with other associations on challenges to certain legislation), the association doesn't have a philosophical concept of intellectual freedom that forms a core value for the membership.

SLA doesn't have my heart. At least, not yet.

Whether I can find a good niche in ALA and feel comfortable and make a contribution to the profession from there ... whether ALA membership will be a core, essential part of my professional identity is the reason why I'm going.

As for #5 ... I'm going through a bad case of 'senioritis' right now, and I can write an entire entry just on that (and I probably will, in the near future).

In the meantime, I'm going to try to calm down and enjoy myself while learning as much as I can (and putting together my first thesis draft -- my iBook, Abelard, is coming with me). I don't think I'll be able to afford wireless at the conference, but I'll be writing and storing LiveJournal entries that I'll port here if and when relevant.

Have a great weekend.

January 07, 2004

Library Deathmatch : Prelim 1

Michael Gorman was kind enough to send me a presentation he made on library education at IFLA last year, in response to his related editorial published in SRRT's latest newsletter.

In reading the paper, I began thinking of how Mr. Gorman's argument--about how the current (and he argues, increasing) emphasis on information science is displacing librarianship as the focal point in many LIS schools--would fare against the positions of the following people:

Brewster Kahle
Jenny Levine
Barbara Quint

And thus, Library Deathmatch was conceived.

It is often said (and often true) that librarianship (regardless of whether or not you hold a particular genre of sheepskin) is a rather small profession. However, there are people who are not talking to each other and perhaps really should, if for nothing else than the entertainment value.

What two library/infosci luminaries would you like to see in the Thunderdome? Which philosophies/worldviews really need to go mano-e-mano or tete-a-tete via their most articulate proponents? Who would you like to see (or even pay to see) in a debate about librarianship, its direction(s) and its issues?

Tell me. You can even say who you think would win, but I'm not running any fantasy betting pools on it.

January 06, 2004

It's like he knew me ...

"Incidentally, several cases have been reported lately of people who have developed the ability to read and to view TV simultaneously. What the physiological and psychological effects of this practice may be, I do not dare to predict. Perhaps some strange new form of schizophrenia."

-- Robert B. Downs, Director, University of Illinois Library and Library School; Past President, American Library Association. "Are Books Obsolete," Library Journal, v. 79, no. 21 (1 December 1954): 2269-2273.

(I've pulled some random quotes in the course of my research ... I'll be posting others as the mood strikes.)

January 02, 2004

Jumping on the bandwagon

Walt Crawford has been getting a lot of blog press lately. However, I think he deserves every bit. Nonetheless, I've been holding off on my own 'giving of props' because I did not want to risk comparison to other, more well-written paeans.

Well, pfui on that. Here are some reasons I read and appreciate Cites & Insights, Walt's zine, every chance I get and why you should too:

1) Chock Full O'Goodness

Walt is a technology analyst at RLG, creators of RLIN and Eureka. And he apparently takes his job home with him.

If you're interested in information technology in libraries, read C&I
If you're interested in copyright and the public domain, read C&I
If you're interested in open access to scholarly workers, read C&I
If you're interested in technology-focused legislation that affects libraries, read C&I
If you're interested in CIPA and Internet filtering, read C&I
If you're interested in computer hardware and software that's used in libraries, read C&I
If you're interested in e-books, read C&I

And, if you're interested in organized, engaging, skeptical and unpretentious writing about library issues centering around technology, read C&I.

2) Fast, cheap and out of control

Okay, the third one is a complete lie, but I'm an Errol Morris fan.

Walt writes for a gaggle of publications. And doggone, I can't afford them all (especially the ones published by Information Today ... haven't they heard of student rates??). C&I is free. And archived and indexed. And even if you do read his columns in paid media (which you should ... we need to support library media when we can), C&I allows him a larger canvas to paint a deeper picture of issues than he can do in one page (even if it's 3-column, 10-point type).

3) It's portable

About the one thing that Walt consistently gets grief about: 'Why is C&I only available in PDF format?'

Well, I like it in PDF format. It's a very clean layout and it downloads/prints well without bloated to unconsciable megs due to funky typefaces. I tend to print it out, two pages per sheet, and stick it in my backpack/bookbag/etc. For a while, I tried crafting a Green Eggs & Ham-type tribute to C&I's format:

I can read it on the BART
I can read it on a cart

I can read it on a plane
I can read it in the rain

In a boat or in a car
I can even read it in a bar!

Not a poet and I know it. Nonetheless, I do tend to drag out my copy in the middle of BART trips to Berkeley or before SLA meetings (local and national) or during lunch. When there's something that really strikes my fancy (or has me scratching my head), I write notes in the margins. I would also cite directly from it (a couple of times, at least) in my LibSci classes.

4) Fabulous cultural taste

Walt is a fan of Joss Whedon's work ... don't be surprised to run into mentions of his DVD collection of Buffy or asides on the latest plot twists of Angel. Come on! Show the love!

5) He's very responsive.

I've fan-boyed (or fan-girled) him. I've questioned his judgment (politely, I hope). And I've asked him silly questions before bothering to research it for myself. He's been very helpful and gracious and cool in every instance. Given me publishing advice. He even gave me a shout-out in his latest special issue, a glossary of library and technology terms.

So if you're not reading C&I, you should start ... today.

January 01, 2004

Have a happy ...

Happy New Year!

But don't make fun of his ears, okay?

(Alright, it's the same entry as my personal journal ... it's a day to take it easy, or as easy as you can)