Schemes to Add Functionality to the Web OPAC

Schemes to add functionality to the web OPAC fall into four categories: web OPAC enhancements, web OPAC wrappers, web OPAC replacements, and integrated library system replacements. I’m outlining these four techniques in a report I’m editing for an OhioLINK strategic task force and a bit of a reality check on this categorization is desired, so if I’m missing anything big (conceptually or announcements of projects/products that fall into these categories), please let me know in the comments. Generally speaking, this list is ordered by cost/complexity to implement — from lowest to highest — as well as the ability to offer the described enhanced services from least likely to most likely.

Digital Preservation Activities: NSF’s “DataNet” and the NSF/Mellon Blue Ribbon Task Force

The past few weeks have seen announcements of large digital preservation programs. I find it interesting that the National Science Foundation is involved in both of them.

Sustainable Digital Data Preservation and Access Network Partners


The NSF’s Office of Cyberinfrastructure has announced a request for proposals with the name Sustainable Digital Data Preservation and Access Network Partners (DataNet). The lead paragraph of its synopsis is:

Two Lectures on Copyright and Fair Use Today

Spotted in the Chronicle of Higher Education Online this morning is mention of two lectures by Wendy Seltzer that will happen today on the topic of copyright and fair-use doctrine. Here are the summaries and hCalendar events (the latter being useful if your browser and/or RSS reader understands the hCalendar microformat markup). Long-time readers of DLTJ might remember Professor Seltzer’s battle with the NFL over the overly broad statement about use of telecasts by posting a 33-second clip the SuperBowl on YouTube, which, at the moment, is still online.

Fronting Tomcat with Apache HTTPD to Remove Ports and Context Paths

In this How-To guide, I show a combination of software and configuration to clean up URLs by removing the port numbers of the Java servlet engine (Tomcat) and the context path of the application. The goal is to create “cool URLs” that are are short (removing the unnecessary context path) and follow conventions (using the default port “80” rather than “8080”). OhioLINK also uses a custom access control module — built for Apache HTTPD — which makes the fronting of Apache HTTPD for Tomcat even more desirable.

Offering Premium Resources

I love my local public library system, the Columbus Metropolitan Library. I’m a big fan of its helpful staff, plentiful collections, and convenient delivery service. Today I appaud it for coming up with what I think is the best terminology for our patrons to understand what we mean when we say databases. CML's 'Beyond Google' Box In a box on their homepage with the heading “Beyond Google” the CML says “Your library card is all you need to access our premium online resources!” What a great phrase for those things — premium online resources. By using the word “premium,” this phrase points out the notion that these are things with added value. That added value may come from the fact that the resources are licensed and are therefore beyond what you would get just looking at the open web. Or it could mean that it is a curated collection created and offered to the open web by the library itself. Some may waver over the use of the word “resources” but I think that is a meaningful phrase

Undergraduates Own More Laptops than Desktops

The Chronicle of Higher Education today reports on a study by the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research on the usage of information technology by undergraduate students. Page three of the key findings report [PDF] contains this graph. Change in Technology Ownership from 2005 to 2007, from ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2007 One of the key findings that shocked me was the predominance of laptop computers over desktop computers for undergraduate students. Students reported last year an ever-so-slight ownership of desktop computers (68.9% versus 68.3%). Laptops overtook desktops this year, with three-quarters of students reporting ownership of a laptop and just over half reporting ownership of a desktop. (These numbers would also seem to indicate that a significant number of students own both a laptop and a desktop machine.) Another interesting finding is the growth in “smartphone” devices in the past two years. These are hand-helds that combine the functions of a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) with that of a mobile phone. One wonders if this number will jump significantly with Apple’s marketing push to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of next year

ODCE 2008 Call-For-Proposals

ODCE 2008 Conference LogoWhere can faculty, administrators, librarians and technology gurus all meet to discuss learning, libraries, technology and the convergence of these activities? At the Ohio Digital Commons for Education 2008 – The Convergence of Learning, Libraries and Technology Conference, of course!

Be a part of ODCE 2008! The Ohio Digital Commons for Education partners — Ohio Learning Network, OhioLINK, and the Ohio Supercomputer Center/OSCnet–are seeking interactive and engaging proposals for presentations, pre-conference workshops and technology demonstrations. Proposals are sought for the following themes and topics:

Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century

More on Commercial Versus Not-For-Profit Open Access Publishing

DLTJ featured a discussion last month on what I saw as the outcomes of “clashing values” between the interest of businesses and that of not-for-profit higher education. The discussion started with “Educational Patents, Open Access Journals, and Clashing Values” and continued with a focus on open access publishing specifically with “What Is BioMed Central?.” Here is a update on the topic in the form of an e-mail from Ray English and a press release from Marquette Books.

Ray English’s Perspective on Open Access Publisher Economics

HTML Template of a TRAC:CC Report

Just in case this might be useful to others, I’ve created a report template based on the “Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification: Criteria Checklist” report. It has the section, subsection, criteria and evidence from the original report marked up in an HTML document — ready for you to add the narrative on how your repository meets the criteria. The original report included a table-style layout as an appendix; personally, I like this more free-form narrative approach.

I need to set work on this aside for a moment — if anyone gets to filling out appropriate portions based on the Fedora digital object repository, please let me know.

Analysis of Google Scholar and Google Books

Two papers were published recently exploring the quality of Google Scholar and Google Books.


Google Scholar


Philipp Mayr and Anne-Kathrin Walter, both of GESIS / Social Science Information Center in Bonn, Germany, uploaded an article to arXiv called “An exploratory study of Google Scholar.” 1 Originally created as a presentation for a 2005 conference, it was updated in January 2007 to reflect new findings and published as a paper. Excerpts from the abstract include:
The study shows deficiencies in the coverage and up-to-dateness of the [Google Scholar] index. Furthermore, the study points up which web servers are the most important data providers for this search service and which information sources are highly represented. We can show that there is a relatively large gap in Google Scholar’s coverage of German literature as well as weaknesses in the accessibility of Open Access content. Major commercial academic publishers are currently the main data providers.