For the record

“Library 2.0 Gang” is the name that Talis has given to their regular discussion podcast–or maybe just a name that Richard used for that particular episode? I was invited to be on the show once, but I am not in fact part of any “library 2.0 gang”, and certainly have not proclaimed myself to be! I don’t think there is any ‘library 2.0 gang’ outside of that one discussion. I think the phrase ‘library 2.0’ is kind of a silly phrase, and am a bit embarrassed to have it written that I’ve proclaimed myself to be a part of such a ‘gang’. Oh well. Let’s set the record straight though and say that if there was any proclaiming to be part of a ‘library 2.0 gang’, it was certainly not ‘self-‘proclaiming.

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OAISter -> points to plenty of non open access stuff

So I had been operating under the incorrect assumption that OAISter only aggregated feeds which claimed to be of open access materials.

After embarrassingly sending them a letter (and cc’ing code4lib) asking for clarification I noticed their collection development policy page. (Embarrassing because I should have checked first).

http://www.oaister.org/restricted.html

  • We harvest and retain all records that point to digital resources.
  • This includes freely-available and restricted-access digital resources.

Continue reading “OAISter -> points to plenty of non open access stuff”

Library as IT Organization

Premise for debate:  The contemporary library is an IT organization.

I tend to think that’s true, but I admit I’m not sure what the definition of an “IT organization” is that I’m operating with to think that. And “is” or “should be”?  Or is it not true at all, because too much of the library’s mission isn’t about IT at all?

Discuss. While you discuss, consider:

Strains and Joys Color Mergers Between Libraries and Tech Units
http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i19/19a00103.htm?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

ILS satisfaction survey

Check out Marshal Breeding’s survey results, from his survey which mostly focused from my reading on various kinds of ILS satisfaction.

Horizon is near the bottom of every satisfaction question, and Horizon libararies are near the top of “would your library consider open source”. Hmm, coincidence? And what’s up with only half of Horizon customers expressing interest in migrating to another system soon? Have they not gotten the news? Do the other believe that SD is going to extend support indefinitely, or plan on running without support (in either case, never getting a new version?). I am curious what’s up with those 50% of Horizon customers who do not plan on migrating to another system!

The very top of “would your libary consider open source” is Voyager customers; another ILS whose customers seem to believe that their product’s current owner will be abandoning it (despite the owner’s protestations to the contrary).

And what’s up with Polaris and Library Solutions customers having such high satisfaction? Neither are products most of us even consider. What do their respective customer bases look like? I wonder if they are products well-customized for particular niches that may not include most of us? I don’t think I know anyone that works at a library with Polaris or Library Solutions.

III’s relatively high satisfaction has me suspicious though. It doesn’t match my anecdotal knowledge. The folks I know who work at libraries with III are not especially satisfied compared to those of us who have other systems.

Code4Lib Journal

The first issue of the Code4Lib Journal is out. I have nothing more to say about than what I said in my editorial introduction, except to re-iterate that this project ended up taking quite a bit more time then I naively thought it would!

Update Dec 28. It occurs to me that the ‘qualification’ for an article to get into a standard scholarly journal might be “Is this reporting significant research?”  In contrast, I hope the ‘qualification’ for Code4Lib Journal is “Is this article going to be helpful to others trying to improve library services?”  You can have an article about really good research, and the article might accurately report that research—but it might not be very good at explaining to someone else what they can actually _do_ with it (to repeat it, or to act upon what they’ve found). This could be because of the way it’s written, or because of what’s left out. Personally (and I only speak for myself),  that article would need more work before going in c4lj. On the other hand, there can be an article that isn’t about original research _at all_, but is incredibly helpful to others in innovating in their library, and that would be a shoe-in to c4lj, but probably wouldn’t qualify for a journal with a mission more traditional-scholarly.

“Digital Libraries” and DLF

I attended the DLF Fall Forum a couple weeks ago, and found it to be a very rewarding experience, even more so than I expected. It is always nice to be with so many people who are more or less on the same page when it comes to where library services are headed and the work we need to do (and are doing) to get there. I’ll provide a round up of some interesting presentations and things learned below, but first a word on the concept of the ‘digital library’.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that all (or anyway most) of our libraries are “digital libraries”. Every area of our library now involves digital resources and digital services–and this will only increase. From licensed ebooks to scanned books to licensed electronic scholarly content; from email reference to the OPAC to document delivery to federated search and licensed databases. There’s digital content and services everywhere. Our libraries are already digital libraries–the future is here (and probably always was, paradoxically). Our task is making them better, improving and adding digital services, improving access to and adding digital content. There is no reason to reserve the phrase ‘digital library’ to any particular programs, services, collections, or technology platforms–and there is no reason to segregate to particular organizational units attention to our digital future or our digital present (and the two better be related if we actually plan on moving from the present to that future). Digital content, access, services, and strategy need to be coordinated across the library. The “single business“.

I am certainly not alone in thinking this way, but it’s not clear to me if it’s yet the majority perspective among either DLF-community type people or the library community in general.

So, that rant aside, how about a DLF fall forum 2007 roundup? Continue reading ““Digital Libraries” and DLF”

Notes on future directions of Library Systems

Here are some notes on near/medium future directions of the library systems environment/architecture, and a sketch of requirements on where we want to go. These notes may or may not end up as part of an internal white paper here, as we analyze where we want to be headed (something good to do anyway, but we got a kick in the pants when the vendor ended development on our current ILS).

The challenge here for me was to produce something that took the set of assumptions that are obvious to many of us library tech geeks, and make them both clear and convincing to those they aren’t already obvious to. While at the same time being useful even to those of us in the ‘in’ group, by making things explicit on paper, helping us be clear to and among ourselves about what we mean, and confirm we actually agree and have thought it through. While at the SAME time being concise. I’m not sure I succeeded, especially on that last one, but here you go.

Continue reading “Notes on future directions of Library Systems”

Google’s algorithms

Very interesting article in today’s NYT Business section (Annoyingly, WordPress.com doesn’t let me put a COinS in my blog post! Argh! Sorry. June 3, 2007. New York Times. “Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine” by Saul Hansell) about Google’s relevancy ranking algorithms.

This article has a sub-text (well, not too sub) about how insanely awesome Google is, how much further ahead than anyone else they are. No doubt getting press like that is part of the reason Google gave the reporter access to this department which is usually instead cloaked in trade-secrecy.

Still, that’s definitley part of the story. It’s important to remember/realize taht Google’s relevancy ranking algorithms are very sophisticated and complex, and getting constantly more so, in order to give us the simplicity of the good results we see. Our simplistic conception of ‘page rank’ is just one increasingly small part of the whole set of algorithms. So, no, we can’t “just copy what Google does” (not least, but not only, because we are dealing with a different data domain than Google).

The solution to what we need isn’t just waiting out there in the open for us to copy. The solution(s) are waiting for us to discover and invent. On the other hand, of course we want to pay attention to what we can learn from Google and what Google does (in broad principles and–where we can figure them out–specific details) in figuring it out.

Some choice quotes: Continue reading “Google’s algorithms”

Erik Hatcher on what’s needed

Erik Hatcher’s essay on their experiences prototyping blacklight at UVa ought to be required reading for anyone interested in the future of library digital services.

To my mind, the most important point he makes is this:

Let me reiterate that what I see needed is a process, not a product. With Solr in the picture, we can all rest a bit easier knowing that a top-notch open source search engine is readily available… a commodity. The investment for the University of Virginia, then, is not in search engine technology per se, but rather in embracing the needs of the users at a fine-grained level.

This is a point I see many library decision makers not fully grasping. It’s not about buying a product (whether open source _or_ proprietary), it’s about somehow getting multiple parts of the libraries on board in a coordinated effort to focus our work where it matters. The tech may make this possible for the first time–and some tech may be better than other tech–but tech can’t solve things for you. Just plunking your money down for the ‘right’ product from a vendor (Yes, even if that vendor is OCLC!) can not be an end point.

But organizational strategy is a lot harder than just buying an expensive product, unfortunately.