My Communications of the ACM came in the main recently, and in an article about the future of scholarly publishing in computer science (in general — and what the ACM Publications Board is thinking about doing), there was this paragraph about the attitudes of a subset of ACM members towards open access publishing.
A colleague e-mailed me the other day expressing appreciation for the DLTJ blog in part, and also describing a mystery that she is running in her library:
Because I am staring out the window, at yet another snow-storm-in-the-works, having just learned that school is called off AGAIN (waiting for the library urchins to pour in), I am trying to get caught up on life outside of a small prairie town.
To combat some serious winter blues (and who doesn’t have them this year?), we have decided to have a just-for-fun “crime spree” at our library. Thus far, the local Chief of Police has no leads (he has graciously agreed to participate and has been kept in the dark as to the identities of the perpetrators). We decided that having a crime spree might be a more interesting way to get people to talk about the library.
In September, Carl Grant wrote a blog post on the ownership of library data (“We have a problem… another vendor appearing to need education about exactly WHO owns library data“) that has been rolling around my own thoughts for, well, months. The spark of Carl’s post was a Twitter conversation where a major library system vendor appeared to be taking steps to limit what library/customers can do with their own data.
Should librarians be learning to how to develop software? This theme has come up in the past few years1 and I think it is a good thing. I once had a boss that told his group “I want you guys to automate yourself out of your job because there are far more interesting things you could be working on.” I think that is an empowering philosophy for staff of any type.
Yesterday I heard Catherine Murray-Rust give a keynote at the Georgia Knowledge Repository workshop. She used the phrase, and I think I transcribed this correctly, “provisioning of knowledge” when describing the activities that institutional repositories can do. That phrase reminded me about a recent discussion on a mailing list (I can’t find it now) where people were seeking short definitions of what it is that libraries do. I think I have a new one: in your knowledge journey, libraries are your provisioner, quartermaster, and curator of resources.
pro·vi·sion \prə-ˈvi-zhən\ : to supply with needed materials (as food)1
I’m in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the Access 2011 meeting which starts tomorrow. Coming across from the eastern timezone I had to come a day early, so — being a self-confessed library nerd — I checked out the Vancouver Public Library. I’m impressed with not only the physical structure but also the obvious degree of community engagement. The Central Library was very busy on a Tuesday afternoon, and first impressions are that it is beloved by its patrons. Included below are some pictures and some notes; some of the pictures have annotations — you can mouse over the boxes to see them. You can also click on the pictures to go to larger versions on Flickr.
When this first came out I thought it was a stunningly good way to demonstrate the kinds of search skills that libraries teach patrons when demonstrating how to use the internet. So I sent a message to the generic service address and started a conversation with a product marketing manager at Google. After some back-and-forth with him and other librarians, it does seem like there is a possibility of a really neat collaboration. To start us off, Google put together the information below on how to embed the question in library websites (see below). On a conference call with other librarians we also talked about possibilities like a categorization of questions (so if you wanted a chemistry question or one that uses Google Street View you would be able to find it quickly) and “guest written” questions based off of real life reference interviews.
“How much effort do you want to spend securing your computer systems? Well, how much do you not want to be in front of a reporter’s microphone if a security breach happens?” I don’t remember the exact words, but that quote strongly resembles something I said to a boss at a previous job. Securing systems is unglamorous detail work. One slip-up plus one persistent (or lucky) attacker means years of dedicated efforts are all for naught as personal information is inadvertently released. See, for example, what happened recently with Sony Online Entertainment’s recent troubles.
Almost a decade ago while at the University of Connecticut I conducted a survey of ARL libraries on their patron privacy practices. The full text of that survey and ARL member responses are available from Google Books and from HathiTrust. Lee Anne George of ARL confirmed via e-mail that permission has been given for full view of SPEC Kits up through 2005 as well as other ARL publications. Lee Anne said that there are over 400 titles now in full view.