Schedule for ALA Annual 2008

Here is my planned schedule for ALA Annual in Anaheim. Reality, of course, may be different. If anyone is interested in talking about electronic textbooks, discovery interfaces and their underlying indexing structures, and service-oriented architecture for library services, please get in touch with me and let’s see if we can find a time to get together.

Friday, June 27

  • 11:30 AM — Private meeting
  • 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM — OCLC Symposium: The Mashed-Up Library (Marriot; Platinum Ballroom)
  • 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM — LITA Happy Hour (Mist Pool Bar at Hotel Menage)

Saturday, June 28

Discussions of Textbooks Hit the Mainstream Media

There has been an increasing focus on the cost of textbooks in the mainstream media this year, and I don’t think it is the case that I’m just becoming more sensitized to it. Take for example the editorial from the Washington Post on February 7th. The second paragraph succinctly describes the issues being debated most often:

There are several reasons that textbooks are so costly. For one, even though there have been no major advances in fields such as calculus and elementary physics in decades or even centuries, publishers still churn out new editions of textbooks on these subjects every three or four years. The changes are typically superficial, but they prevent students from being able to purchase used, older editions. Publishers also frequently bundle unwanted additional materials such as CD-ROMs and study guides with textbooks. Professors rarely assign these extra materials, which drive up costs, and students often cannot sell the books back to bookstores once the shrink-wrap has been removed. Publishers can get away with these shenanigans because there’s a fundamental disconnect in the textbook marketplace: The people paying for the books (the students) are not the ones choosing them (the teachers).

Getting the Word Out: LISWire and LISEvents

Blake Carver (of LISNews and LISHost fame) announced two new projects yesterday: LISWire and LISEvents. In the same spirit that I would categorize open source, open access, and open knowledge, these services level the playing field for the publication of library-oriented press releases and announcements of events.

What ever happened to Google Knowls?

It was announced on December 13th last year with much discussion here on DLTJ and elsewhere on the blogosphere. It would seem uncharacteristic of Google to announce something like that and keep the world waiting for months to see at least a beta of the concept. Is there some sort of technical problem with the concept? Legal or business model problem? Or was it just a trial balloon for a service yet to be developed and Google wanted some free market research from the community?

Anybody know?

OAI-ORE Alpha Specifications Updated

As a result of discussions coming from the OAI-ORE open meeting in Baltimore in the first week of March, the document editors released a new version of the ORE alpha specifications (labeled “0.3″) earlier this month to coincide with the open meeting at Southampton, UK. In a message to the technical committee, Herbert Van de Sompel summarized the changes as:

  • Data Model: changes in the relationship between Resource Map and Aggregation; introduction of a solution regarding the reference in context; revised approach regarding nesting aggregations.
  • Atom serialization: Significant revision of the mapping from the ORE Model to Atom.

On Innovation in the ILS Marketplace

Last month the ILS Discovery Interface Task Force of the DLF called a meeting of library system vendors (including one commercial support organization for open source ILS software) to talk about the state of computer-to-computer interfaces in-to and out-of the ILS. The meeting comes as the work of the task force is winding down. An outcome of the meeting, the “Berkeley Accord,” was posted last week to Peter Brantley’s blog. The accord has three basic parts: automated interfaces for offloading records from the ILS, a mechanism for determining the availability of an item, and a scheme for creating persistent links to records.

Preserving Digital Video

My place of work is looking to acquire educational videos in a digital form with an eye towards long-term preservation. At this point we receive a physical form (preferably DVD, but sometimes VHS) and digitize it to a very lossy access format (RealMedia, in this case). With this change, we would get a preservation-worthy digital copy from the producer/distributor and forego the physical version.

There is quite a lot written on preserving video, but I wanted to distill the requirements down into statements that vendors could reasonably provide today. I think these are pretty sound requirements, but I’m looking for feedback. In particular, I’m not quite sure how to handle the transfer of closed caption text from the publisher/distributor; suggestions are welcome.

DLTJ Updated to WordPress 2.5

Unlike previous upgrades, this left some functionality broken — notably some of the links in the second block under the “about” heading to the left (if you are reading this from itself). But, you know what? — it’s Friday afternoon and all of the important bits are working. I think. So if you see anything odd, please let me know.