Dylan Tweney at RLG on the information universe

June 26, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

RLG Annual Meeting MP3s and notes are up, with tons of interesting stuff as always. The keynote speech by Dylan Tweney of Wired is really thought-provoking. All kinds of ideas in there about web history, 2.0 functions, and the (potential) role of libraries and librarians in the 2.0 universe. To wit:

By 2012, the demand for speed will have turned all publishers into de facto bloggers, and all search engines into Google.

There is an opportunity for librarians on the internet, but the window is closing.

What the information universe wants: a hackable library database.

read read read read read! Don’t miss his suggestion at the end:  create a books-digitization site similar to YouTube and let users digitize books themselves. Work out the copyright issues later. Wow!

MP3 of the follow-up Q&A session is also online.


Twitter might be useful after all

June 25, 2007 at 8:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have to confess that I was totally rolling my eyes about Twitter as being another flash-in-the-pan geekfad, but this nice presentation by David Free and David Lee King from the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase is both brief and informative, and has some great examples of how libraries and librarians can actually use twitter.  Still of limited usefulness for someone like me, who (*gasp*) doesn’t own a cellphone and therefore can’t go around texting and tweeting left and right, but well worth a look-see.

Other presentations from the BSSS covered LOCKSS, folksonomy, and LibraryThing for Libraries.

Thomas Mann, continuing to rock

June 21, 2007 at 7:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Thomas Mann (the LC guy, not the Magic Mountain guy) has written previously about the “crisis in cataloging” these days and the apparent attacks on controlled vocabulary and full cataloging, and he seriously rocks.  Library Juice points to his latest effort, “The Peloponnesian War and the Future of Reference, Cataloging, and Scholarship in Research Libraries.” The whole essay is great and while it covers what is familiar territory for Mann–the difference between scholarly research and “quick information seeking” and the tools needed for the former, and value of traditional library strengths such as controlled vocabulary, high-quality cataloging and reference, patron education–one especially nice touch is the inclusion of specific examples of these concepts in action.

There’s so much information in this essay I really can’t do better than recommend that everyone read it, including library administrators, reference librarians, catalogers, digital librarians, advocates of faceted searching and tagging, etc.  Here is my favorite snippet to pull out, however:

If our goal is to promote scholarship, then “least effort” on the researchers’ part means “most effort” on our part, in our acquisition efforts, in creating high quality cataloging, in providing proactive reference service, and in assuring the long-term preservation of our material.


I hope that this will be as widely disseminated as Karen Calhoun’s and Deanna Marcum’s recent reports which completely ignore Mann’s points about the very complex searching needs of scholars, which are entirely different from the (also legitimate) needs satisfied by sitting down and typing a couple of keywords into a “single search box.”

WorldCat.org getting all listy

June 18, 2007 at 8:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Nifty little new feature in worldcat.org : the ability to select records to add to your personal lists–a very cool LibraryThing-like way to make something like a bibliography.  I like a lot of things about this feature.

What I don’t like is not knowing how to get to other people’s lists to look at them–I guess you go to Lists and choose Search for Lists, but what if you don’t know what to search for, but want to browse?  Or what if (gasp) people didn’t use controlled vocabulary when they named their lists?  There needs to be some function that just gives links to the lists so you can click around and find them serendipitously.  But, it’s an exciting little feature, and you can export your list as a comma-delimited file, hmm!

Here is my list of lists. Not much in them yet; will have to play around more.  Say hello to professor P. V. Glob.

OverDrive Community Reserve

June 15, 2007 at 8:45 pm | Posted in 2.0 | Leave a comment

Saw an announcement about this service on the handy Library Technology Guides blog. Community Reserve (could they have come up with a clunkier, less exciting name?) is “a digital resource sharing service within the Digital Library Reserve platform that enables participating libraries to manage and share download audio books, eBooks, music, and video in supported formats. Use it to distribute locally produced, non-commercial content and share digital materials across OverDrive’s library network at no added cost.”

A handful of public libraries have signed up and the vendor’s FAQ notes that Community Reserve contains “over 100 titles” (I’m underwhelmed, but it is pretty new). I’m not quite sure I get the purpose of this product given the market strength of YouTube, but perhaps it allows a sort of inventory control (use statistics, etc.) and does it allow you to add these locally-produced digital things into a database that includes your paid digital materials? Or is Community Reserve a separate entity altogether?

WorldCat Local again

June 1, 2007 at 4:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The University of Washington Libraries have a neat experiment with WorldCat Local going on, at least for as long as their “Search UW Libraries and beyond” beta test is up. I haven’t had time to play with it much, but became curious about it following a discussion about it on the RADCAT list. Some people in that discussion cited difficulties with being able to perform a traditional “browse” on an author’s name, and pointed out how important that is for humanities research (among other things). So I played around with a little author searching.

Here’s what I don’t like about it. A plain old search for “pam allen” (no quotes) brings up several options in the “Refine your search” sidebar. One of these is “Pam Allen,” so I click on it (that part is pretty cool). I get results for several different Pam Allens, one of whom is the Interweave Knits editor I’m interested in. But there’s no way to differentiate her from the other Pam Allens, I think? And when I go into a record for one of her books, clicking on her name in the record doesn’t lead me to a list of only *this* Pam Allen’s publications; it performs an author search for Pam Allen, bringing up a whole lot of other Pams and Allens. I’m not even getting Pam Allen the Knitter in the first three pages of results (horrors!).

So I’d love to see this search interface tied to the authority file (remember that thing, guys?) so the searching is more sophisticated. It’s fine for the search interface to be made simpler, but why make the functionality so much less?

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