Open Library Environment Final Report Draft Released

Over the weekend, the folks at Duke University coordinating the development of the OLE Project Design Final Report released a draft for public comment. Weighing in at 100 pages (don’t let that put you off — there are lots of pictures), it represents the best thinking of a couple dozen individuals listening to hundreds of professionals working in libraries. Participants were challenged to consider not only their existing environments and workflows, but also how things could be put together differently. And “differently” — in this context — means thinking about tighter integration with information systems and processes at the host institution.

Three New Search Services: Wolfram|Alpha, Microsoft Bing, Google Squared

It has been a wild few weeks in search engines — or search-engine-like services. We’ve seen the introduction of no fewer than three high-profile tools … Wolfram|Alpha, Microsoft Bing, and Google Squared … each with their own strengths and needing their own techniques — or, at least, their own distinct frame of reference — in order to maximize their usefulness. This post describes these three services, what their generally good for, and how to use them. We’ll also do a couple of sample searches to show how each is useful in its own way.

Google Search Engine Adds Support for RDFa, Or Do They?

Via a post and an interview on the O’Reilly Radar blog, Google announced limited support for parsing RDFa statements and microformat properties in web page HTML coding and using those statements to enhance the relevance of search results as so-called “rich snippets”. In looking at the example review markup outlined in the O’Reilly post, though, I was struck by some unusual and unexpected markup. Specifically, that the namespace was this thing that I had never seen before, and the “rating” property didn’t have any corresponding range that would make that numeric value useful in a computational sense.

Tweaking the New FriendFeed Interface

FriendFeed went live yesterday with changes to the user interface and back-end systems. The changes were moderately positive, taken as a whole, but there are aspects of the new user interface that I don’t like — the color scheme, the removal of the service icons, and the (over)-use of whitespace. Fortunately, with Firefox plus a few extensions as my primary browser, I’m able to tweak the interface to be closer to my liking. If your tastes resemble mine, I both feel sorry for you and want to help you improve your view of FriendFeed.

Advances in OpenSearch Definitions

Screenshot of adding the OSU Libraries Catalog Search

Earlier this month, Ohio State University Libraries launched the OSUL Labs area. (Congratulations and kudos to Eric Schnell and the others at OSU that have taken this step to “include customers as active participants in the development and/or testing of new products and services.”) Their first release is an OpenSearch definition for the library catalog. It has been ages since I’ve messed with OpenSearch, and I didn’t remember (or didn’t know it was possible) to have the function add the OpenSearch definition right from the OpenSearch menu, as shown in this figure from the OSUL announcement of this feature. (What I remember is the “programatic” way of doing this.) The autodiscovery is done with a special <link> tag in the head of the HTML:

<link rel="search"
  title="Add OSU Libraries Catalog search" />

Beyond Federated Search Redux

It started with a post by Carl Grant on the Federated Search Blog: Beyond Federated Search – Winning the Battle and Losing the War?. I bookmarked this in Delicious and copied this extended quote from the text into the bookmark:

I’ve long argued that librarianship on top of digital information is about the authority/authenticity/appropriateness of the information provided to the user, as opposed to the overwhelming amounts of information available via other search tools that don’t provide that differentiation. In order to meet those tests, one thing that is clear is that libraries and librarians should never cede control to other organizations over the content they offer to their end-users. It doesn’t matter if that happens because the content providers fail to provide access via federated search, or whether the library has allowed third party organizations to determine what content they can access via a local index discovery tool. Ceding this control cripples the ability of a library to build unique and precise informational offerings that target the needs of their end-users.

This in turn got pulled into my FriendFeed stream and the ensuing discussion seemed too valuable to let sit there, so I’m creating this post with those replies and adding a little bit more of my own thoughts. (Since all of these were public comments, I believe it is good nettiquete to reproduce them here with attribution. If not, please let me know…particularly if you are one of the people quoted!)

Open Library Environment Project Picks Up the Pace

Participants in the design phase of the OLE Project met in Lawrence, Kansas, earlier this month for a week-long work session. Coming out of the session are several documents that form the foundational elements of the report to be published and delivered to Mellon in July. Interested parties are invited and encouraged to sign up for the project update webinar to be held on March 31st from 3:00pm to 4:30pm (Eastern time). There will be a project update at the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) Task Force Meeting on April 7th. Those in the midwest might also be interested in the Indianapolis OLE Workshop on April 22nd.

FulfILLment from Equinox Selected for Statewide Resource Sharing System

This is an announcement posted by the State Library of Ohio regarding the selection of FulfILLment from Equinox for a statewide resource sharing system.


The State Library of Ohio is pleased to announce Equinox Software Inc. has been selected to develop a new open source resource sharing solution called Equinox FulfILLment. The goal of the project is to develop a seamless resource sharing application under an open source licensing framework in an environment of disparate integrated library systems (ILSs).

Anatomy of the Zotero Library to RSS Feed Pipe

Note! A new feature on the Zotero website does away with the need to use this Yahoo! Pipe. RSS feeds are now generated by the Zotero website itself. Read more about it on the Zotero blog.

Last week I posted about a Yahoo Pipes construct that turns a Zotero website library into an RSS feed. As Dan Cohen noted in a twitter response to the posting, the Zotero team is planning to add an RSS capability in a future release of the website, so this pipe will ultimately be usurped by that capability, but in the meantime it is a handy tool. It was my first full-scale foray into creating a Yahoo Pipes construct from scratch, so I thought it would be useful to document how it works (in case I need to do something similar again). You might find this useful, too; especially the part about how to put a pubDate element into the RSS feed.

Can We Outsource the Preservation of Digital Bits?

A colleague forwarded an article from The Register with news of a new service from Iron Mountain for Cloud-Based File Archiving. It is billed as a “storage archiving service designed to help companies reduce costs of storing and managing static data files.” My place of work is facing an increasing need large-scale digital preservation storage with the acquisition of a large collection of music and the conversion of our educational videos from physical DVD preservation to digital preservation. We’re talking terabytes of content that is we need to keep in its archival form — uncompressed, high quality media files (not the lower quality, derivatives for day-to-day access). It doesn’t make sense to keep that on expensive SAN storage, of course, so this article struck me at just the right time to consider alternatives.