Wednesday, August 29, 2007
A. Library Web Chic - we're headed in the same direction, technology-wise and often philosophically (though she's way ahead of me, at least I can see her on the horizon) - I highly recommend her blog at http://librarywebchic.net/... and NOT just because she's legitimized my "Web Head" nickname - see her entry on "Why My Job is So Hard" and note that she mentions "Web Heads" at least 2 x! ;)
If you want to know where our web work is headed, start paying attention to the Web Chic, one of my fav fellow Web Heads! [though her caution about redesign hell in a recent entry has me a little worried...]
B. The IT Support team where I work. Yes, often librarians live in a love-hate relationship with IT Support/Automation, whatever they call the dept. of tech gurus who keep things ticking. But I've always been on the systems end of things, MLS notwithstanding, so I tend to see where they're coming from. And no, we don't always agree - the best gurus out of corporate/private industry, for example, will tell you - no participation in the website is the best thing because, after all, it reduces the variables that can mean failures/mistakes/compromises. Still, the team I work with now - though they're new to an environment that was kept together largely by the power of inertia, status quo, duct tape, and other magic - are really moving things forward. I love our mutual respect and find that this is definitely the best way to do business. They've got it tough, but they really are doing wonders! Kudos to them!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Preparing this blog entry was decidedly low-tech, laptop battery having died long before. LibraryCamp NYC 2007 was a great event – we’re all grateful to Stephen Franceour, et al. (Rachel Watstein, Linda Rath & Louise Klusek, for example), and Baruch College, our gracious hosts for putting it together. Approximately 100 people attended – among them some stellar minds representing many types of libraries (and related organizations). In the morning, we all put together a list of topics on which to have sessions & slotted 24 different sessions – (8 rooms, 3 time slots) for the day. Of course, it was an embarrassment of riches, so you couldn’t possibly attend the sessions on all of your favorite topics – but that’s ok (my brain was on overload by the end, anyway!).
I enjoyed twittering about it & watching others do so throughout the day (lovin’ that wifi) & it was also exciting to watch the LibraryCamp wiki develop throughout the day as we all posted notes about the sessions we’d attended and/or moderated. (Mine on LibX were pretty rough, so I’m hoping someone has edited them since I posted them yday afternoon.)
For all of the proceedings & info about LibraryCamp NYC 2007, go to http://librarycampnyc.wikispaces.com/
Library2.0 Show & Tell [see notes at http://librarycampnyc.wikispaces.com/2.0+Show+and+Tell]
- Public summer rding club book reviews via wiki – Princeton Public Library; lots of training required for wiki (I think that it’s the http://booklovers.pbwiki.com/)
- Poetry blog (at Princeton P.L. - http://pplpoetpodcast.wordpress.com/) – local poets who posted & read poems on podcasts (over 250 visitors a day) – very popular
- Staff are on Facebook and the library itself is on Facebook [NJIT Robert Van Houghton Library] as an individual (ref libs have own accounts)
- III has a new community commenting feature
– several internal wikis (says should have one internal instead of several); Columbia
- A reference stats database made through Zoho Creator by Ellyssa Kroski (see http://oedb.org/blogs/ilibrarian/2007/reference-statistics-with-zoho-creator/)
- To keep up: subscribe to del.icio.us library2.0 and top tags on digg, reddit, youtube, etc. – popurls (http://popurls.com/)
- Quantifiable/measurable results of implementation of Web2.0
[My thoughts in response to others’ comments/concerns:
User needs assessment is the starting point – only choose wikis or whatever tool as a result of that user needs assessment
Transformability is the key reason for wiki (RSS feed – can subscribe via email).
Also, you can tie down the MediaWiki and other wikis so that an exclusive group can collaborate
How important a moderator is in an unconference. The moderator can ensure that a greater percentage of the collective wisdom of the room is tapped by making sure that anyone who has an important point to make is given an opportunity to enter the discussion and to keep the more verbally aggressive folks from dominating completely.]
Official notes & links to del.icio.us bookmarks of sites mentioned in this session are at http://librarycampnyc.wikispaces.com/LibX
LibX Firefox extension
LibX allows you to build toolbar for your library as a Firefox browser extension
- easy -- nonprogrammers can use it
- easy for end-users to implement – quick, easy download into Firefox [Example of LibX toolbar to search UVA’s catalog]
Works for several different (the big ones, like III included) ILS’ – Edition Builder – online web forms to fill in values for your own library to create toolbar
Only for Firefox, of course,
LibX got a grant from IMLS to create an ext. for IE
Greasemonkey framework (more info – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greasemonkey) plugs into Firefox, supports user-created scripts
In IE7 Pro, your Firefox extensions will work
LibX uses OCLC Xisbn lookup – example use - look it up in Amazon, then do search in the LibX toolbar for your library’s catalog
To use the LibX bar you’ve created for your library’s catalog, remote users have to install the extension
Open search plugin – search plugins (like Google toolbar in Firefox)
An extension just adds functionality; but the Google toolbar in Firefox is a plug-in
Open search plugin uses A9 open search – could be installed where the Google toolbar is, as another search option, but of your library catalog
LibX integrates with OpenURL resolver – so you can work with Google Scholar, JSTOR, & your dbs
Right-click on page and choose “redirect through EZProxy” so that the end-user can go right into the article, for example; any text highlighted, you can right-click and drag (in Windows)
Extension for managing citations (similar to an app like EndNote) = Zotero (www.zotero.org)
Conduit – what is it? For free, builds your own toolbar – has some drawbacks in functionality
LibX built by Virginia Tech, edition builder http://www.libx.org;8080/editionbuilder/src/zul/
Can download the source code to UNIX environment
Edit out all code not specific to your system (can copy others’ code & take/edit from their Firefox ext.)
Point being – the ext. can get your library to where your (Firefox) users are
[Note to self: Look more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenSearch & check out Greasespot – user scripts]
RDF / Metadata interoperability / Semantic Web
My final session of the day blew my mind & convinced me that I have a lot to learn in yet another area – the Semantic web. I thought I was good at theory until I heard the heated debate about the use of RDF and microformats. What I got from the session – besides tons of questions (research topics for myself) – was that RDF issues haven’t yet been worked out and that there are arguments within the library community about whether or not it’s workable for libraries to start work in RDF. There were also discussions about microformats & lots of acronyms were thrown around. [Note: I have to look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_Description_Framework & others to get the basics about Semantic Web… I’d read a Business2.0 article (July 2007) called, “Weaving the [Semantic] Web” – clearly a number of folks in the non-library world are doing RDF, in hopes of something that will ultimately supplant Google – a somewhat creepy but interesting quote from that article “The CIA is already loading its phone taps into semantic mills, sifting for terror clues.”]
Here are my raw notes, they may or may not be 100% accurate in representing the issues, since I didn’t quite understand all of the discussion. See the official notes at http://librarycampnyc.wikispaces.com/Semantic+Web
RDF W3C standard “resource description framework” subject map – metadata model
Graph based node & arc
If you id evything with URIs, then can assert that the URIs are objects, have certain things
Predicate has a URI too
Formalizes modeling for metadata
Lots more machine processible than the way we describe things in library world
Last.fm is using RDF (RDF-based)
Emerging framework for data, not application
Zotero makes use of RDF
Linking open data (semantics built into data structure)
Microformats are not the same, but useful
RDF-ication of bib data (instd of MARC)
Not all content on the web needs to be part of RDF
RDF for normalization
XML serialization of RDF is not good – per the comoderator – that’s where complexity gets intro’d
Microformats great for existing web data – digital objects
[What I’m getting from all this is that RDF issues are not nearly worked out enough to try looking at….]
What’s a triple/triple store – subject, predicate, and object (res. A – relationship – res. B)
Web is a graphic structure
We’re not going to standardize on RDF, not going to standardize at all…
How you’re modeling data vs. what data exchange method(?)
A major problem clearly is that the data is in multiple locations – slightly diff in each diff. location
Talis is an all RDF-based integrated library system from
See the real Flickr photos of LibCampNYC for yourself at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/librarycampnyc2007/
Monday, August 13, 2007
The ones I've watched so far that I highly recommend are:
- http://www.commoncraft.com/bookmarking-plain-english - Social Bookmarking in Plain English (a la del.icio.us)
- http://www.commoncraft.com/rss_plain_english - RSS in Plain English
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
"There will come a day when libraries and networked technology are so closely associated that the very term “library” will be synonymous with “online” just as it is with “books”. As Jessamyn is quoted in the recent NYT article, librarianship is becoming “a techie profession.” For newcomers to the industry, that train has left the station–it is a techie profession. In the near future, new librarians will need to be technologists. At the very least, they’ll need to be able to participate in an information-centric community that requires all the disparate parts of the library to come together in a seamless fashion. The very best librarians will be able to cultivate those systems."
Ergo, we must be (or become) fluent with technology. A key aspect of that fluency the capacity to keep up with technological change. Like many newer librarians out there (so I've been working in the field since 1998, and even before if you count the news library I worked at before any of my degrees were complete), I am the least senior, the most liable to be laid off, the least well-paid of my colleagues, and I have to teach others the basics about today's technology. But someday, the managers of libraries across this country will have to wake up and start creating a meritocracy - one wherein performance of librarians will be measured by:
- a customer-centric, outreach-oriented service ethos
- a professional, enthusiastic & constructive attitude about all of one's colleagues (including the people you manage and including the folks who make it all happen - your IT Support people - even if they don't have an MLIS!)
- and of course, not least, technological fluency and a willingness to forever improve, change, experiment, and learn
Thursday, August 02, 2007
There really is no reason we shouldn't/couldn't be next on the list of innovative libraries. Lots of things are happening in CT libraries that we should be proud of. Some of them have been around for a while, but lest we forget how innovative they are, here's a short list (please add comments if you can think of more):
- recently: Danbury Public Library offers the first implementation of LibraryThing for libraries in their catalog with the leadership of Loose Cannon Librarian Kate Sheehan
- last fall: Darien Public Library (and the CT Library Consortium) offers an unconference for Library2.0 sorts that includes L2.0 luminaries and newbies alike - I'd daresay it was probably the first unconference in the state
- iCONN - once called the Connecticut Digital Library, now known by the catchier, more web-oriented "Connecticut's re-Search engine" is a leading statewide database program offering free database access to public, school, and academic libraries and through these institutions to all state residents. This initiative was sponsored by then Lt-Gov (now Governor!) Jodi Rell and has been wildly successful. It also includes a statewide interlibrary loan system. It surprised me that such leading states as California don't offer a program on par with this - but it does remind us of how lucky we are to be in a state where I think every town has at least 1 (and sometimes 2 - e.g., Derby - has an association library and a public library, both open to Derby residents) public libraries! iCONN has been innovative - some of these innovations have included:
- implementation of global ip recognition to allow most all state residents to easily enter the iCONN dbs - without even having to remember their library card number! now, I know that this might be controversial, but trust me, it will not alter your potential patrons' visiting habits - if anything, it will be more liable to offer a positive advertisement to bring patrons back into the library by reminding them what libraries have to offer - quality resources - be they online or in-person!
- federated searching of the many iCONN resources available to state residents
- the addition of real-time circ status info to the union catalog provided through iCONN - reQuest (this one was a huge task, requiring lots of that great library ideal - cooperation - all of the library networks and individual libraries who have this circ information showing up in reQuest had to work closely with both their library system's vendor and reQuest staff)
- use of survey pros (UCONN Center for Survey & Research Analysis) to learn about all state residents' awareness and use of iCONN - this is the type of marketing analysis / survey research work that's conducted by big coporations - with good reason - professionally-administered survey work is worth every penny in the name of improving the service or product you're offering.
- CCARD & C-CAR: Connecticard/CCARD is the initiative that allows anyone who gets a hometown public library card to use any other public library in our state - often using the same library card number! I'm reminded of one of the northern New England states where my mom migrates to each summer - she not only can't go to every library in her area with her one library card, she has to pay to belong to a given library. And ConnectiCar (C-CAR) - a statewide delivery service to obtain and return inter-library loans - how innovative! I'll grant you that this is probably a service that best suits a tiny state like CT, so our innovation here is partially dictated by geography, but it's still an innovation.
- the first statewide collaborative 24x7 virtual reference project - Askyourlibrary.org (this one is a little self-serving, I know, as I was its coordinator for a while, but still.... it was the leadership of my library network's higher ups (namely Mike Simonds and Amy Terlaga) plus the support of the network's members that made it happen and I was proud to have been a part of it). It had its share of bumps along the way, but it never stopped rolling and now it has evolved into an even more successful (higher rate of participation among the state's libraries) InfoAnytime through the work and support of the Connecticut Library Consortium.
- the Division of Library Development at the State Library has been very successful in helping even the tiniest of our libraries (some of whom have as few as 1 part-time professional staffing them) through its excellent training and staff development programs. It participates in the national WebJunction project, as well, which offers online learning opportunities (freely usable by staff in the state's libraries).
- Intellectual Freedom Warriors - the famous 4, need I say more? they stood up to the most problematic aspects of the Patriot Act (it's not that librarians won't/shouldn't cooperate with legal authorities, but the authorities - if they are doing seizures of information legitimately - shouldn't have a hard time producing a court order for said seizures and... furthermore, librarians who've had to respond to such requests should have the right to mention it to coworkers without being in violation of the law) and in doing so, brought attention to the reality of an issue that members of the Administration had characterized as a "hysterical" concern.
- Professional pay rates - we have among the highest pay rates for professional librarians in the nation. I'm not saying that it's perfect, I'm just saying that this state shows its commitment to education in its support for libraries and professionally trained librarians.
- And of course, many individual libraries in our state that I haven't cited already are also doing innovative things - some with large budgets, others with tiny ones. Some struggle to serve urban populations with tax bases that reflect the loss of the manufacturing sector that used to support their municipalities. Some struggle because they are small, rural, or mill-town-based libraries. Theoretically, county systems might aggregate more resources. But having worked in a county system, I would say that in some ways, our libraries reap benefits by being more locally controlled. In those smaller environments, sometimes great ideas are more liable to sprout, I think. And with the support of the State (self-serving here, I know) and the many great library consortia, associations, and friends' groups, we make up for many of the shortcomings in our approach.
I know that I'm missing plenty of great developments out there in CT library-land, so feel free to post your comments adding the many things I've missed.
- let's change the state's moniker from "the land of steady habits" to something more like "the state with a tradition of innovation". We used to lead the way back in the day when tool-and-die making was a respected (and known) trade. Why can't we remember that old Yankee ingenuity and start moving with the pace and track of 21st-century technology? I think we can.