The Who, What, When, Where and Why of Library Discovery (text as intended for presentation)

Me and my Jester's Cap

Last week I was at the NISO Forum: The Future of Library Resource Discovery with a great group of colleagues as we challenged ourselves to think about the role of discovery services in the information-seeking habits of our patrons. In the closing keynote, I was projecting what library resource discovery interface might look like five years from now, and I was weaving in comments and ideas that had bubbled up in the in-person conversation and the Twitter channel. And yes, I did wear a jester’s cap for the presentation.

Included below is the text of the presentation as intended to be given on October 6, 2015, at the Mt. Washington Conference Center in Baltimore, Maryland. (I did stray from the text in a few places, but not in any significant way.) At the bottom is a postscript based on a conversation I had afterwards about the role of mobile devices in library resource discovery.


First off, the hat. I started blogging as the Disruptive Library Technology Jester about 10 years ago. Just after I started the blog a colleague, Greg German, gave me this hat, and I thought this forum on library discovery services was a good time to give it its professional debut. A jester’s role in medieval courts was thought to be able to speak truth to power. I don’t know if it will so empower me today, but it does have the added bonus of embarrassing my 14-year-old daughter as I wore it in the car on the way to the airport on Sunday.

Secondly, [mock-Shakespearean-actor-tone] and with the gracious blessing bestowed by the NISO education committee for whom we are grateful for organizing this event, the jester will not prognosticate in a long monologue upon this stage for the next hour, but instead will enlist accomplices from among those present here and those watching from afar through glowing windows connected to us by a mystical ether.[/mock-Shakespearean-actor-tone] (Not a day of Shakespearean training, can you tell?) Instead I want to provoke a few thoughts and prick a few comfortable conceptions in this last session before we all leave the Forum exhausted but fulfilled. And if I make you laugh along the way, well, that’s just a bonus.

To do this, I want to lead us through an exploration of this topic via the five double-u’s of journalism: who, what, where, when, and why. The who, the what, the where, the when, and the why of a discovery service. And since the end of a meeting like this is a time for looking ahead, let’s speculate what this might look like just five years from now. As a foil I want to use this gadget, the Amazon Echo. Have you heard about it yet? Let’s see what Amazon wants us to think about it.

'Introducing Amazon Echo' -- the first one minute and 25 seconds were played in the presentation

There is also a cute, not-safe-for-work parody of this commercial if you search YouTube for “Amazon Echo Early Beta Version”. But I think this gets the point across for one vision of a discovery service — ask a question into the air and get an instance, accurate, and concise answer back. Is what many library users are looking for when they come to our one-search-box discovery service? How do we want our discovery service to look like this and in what ways do we want to be distinctly different? Let’s run through the questions.


Close your eyes. I want you to imagine the most challenging person to support. For librarians that work on reference desks or for user experience facilitators, this probably not a hard challenge. For the rest of us, perhaps if you work in tech support think of someone that you’ve had to help with a computer problem. Or just think of someone who walked up to you in the hardware store and asked you which screws you think they should buy. Or someone at a grocery store asking you how to know when a melon is ripe. Got that person in mind? Okay, keep your eyes closed and picture that person.

Do they know how to navigate the web, operate a mouse, and understand the user interface cues that are now ingrained in your experience? Do they have a speech, mobility or visual impairment? Do they have the life experience needed to even form the question they are asking, or are they a child or a budding scholar in an unfamiliar research area?

Our discovery services need to take this range of “whoness” into account. They need to work for a wide variety of skill, abilities and knowledge. The Amazon Echo probably has some kind of built-in discriminator filter that learns the voice of each person, and it might start to tailor answers based on its knowledge of that individual. Our discovery layers don’t have that context of the person asking the question.


Speaking of context — in that Amazon Echo ad, a simple factual question met with a simple factual answer. Is this what we envision library discovery to be? Personally, and as much as I love libraries, the library’s discovery service is not the first, second, or third place I going to go to look for the answer to that question. No, instead the “what” of our discovery service should be deeply rooted in the tradition of the reference interview. An interaction with the questioner that clarifies the intention of the question and the form of the reply: a factual answer or instruction on how to arrive at the answer; whether an encyclopedia article is enough or an in-depth review article is sought; whether a single reputable source is all that is needed, or a comprehensive literature review is required.

The art of the reference interview carefully guides the user through the maze of possibilities. The user might not even know they’ve been lead through one of a thousand paths that could have been taken when the question was first formed. Do our discovery layers account for that complexity as they lead users to their end goal? Or are our discovery layers attempting to mimic the Amazon Echo, or the single Google Search box, to present users with the single, one-size-fits-all answer to their question.


If we go back to the Amazon Echo, that was an innocuous black cylinder in various rooms of our house. Do we envision black cylinders from our library’s discovery provider in our homes, offices and dorm rooms answering esoteric questions? Do we expect these cylinders to be placed on reference desks across the country where patrons can ask their questions?

Let’s not stop at Amazon’s black cylinders — we also have Apple’s Siri on a watch and Google Now on a phone. For me, “where” is clearly not a place where we need to keep up with the jones’s. While our library discovery interface should have all of the responsive design techniques that make it scale from phone size to wall size, we should not lose sight of where users will conduct their research — on their tablets and desktops. [I got push-back on this idea after the talk; see the postscript below.] Let’s test this, of course, with anthropological study and user experience testing, but nothing I have read so far leads me to believe that we need to go down this path.

Within our own community though,i think we are looking for the ubiquity of our discovery service in all the places the user is. They may not speak their question aloud to the room, but we do want to meet them where they are.


When do undergraduates do their research? At 10pm on Sunday night, of course. In fact, I wonder if one of the contextual clues that the discovery service could use to tune its reference interview algorithm is the time of day, day of the week, and week of the year. The Google web search engineers would call this a “signal” — one of more than 200 clues it says it uses to tailor search results to a user’s specific needs. The reference interview’s artful probing questions present more signals.


There is one signal that requires very special handling. Why is the patron asking this question? What more can I infer from the series of questions he or she has asked the discovery service over the course of lifetime. I don’t want to know. If fact I’m actively going to take steps to be sure I don’t know. This here, I’ll argue, is what distinguishes us from Echo, Siri, Cortana, Google Now, and the rest off the emerging personal assistants. If I were to ask my discovery service the height of Mount Everest, then ask the distance between Baltimore and Mount Everest, then ask how warm Mount Everest is in October, I don’t want advertisements for books on mountains or tourist packages to Nepal to follow me around the web for the next six months.

The third principle of the American Library Association Code of Ethics says, “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.” As a librarian, there are few things that make me more anxious than to show up as a professional quoted in an article like this.

I know this is going to be controversial. In a world that is being given customization, complete contextual awareness, and near prescient capabilities for meeting its information needs, it seems important that the library profession should chase after those capabilities. I don’t know. There is a large working group within NISO right now trying to put meaning that code of ethics principle in a meaningful way in our highly networked, distributed service model. Records of patron activities cross many organizational, contractual, and network layer boundaries. I, too, have been amazed at the capabilities of systems that are arguably not bounded by professional ethics like ours. I just don’t think our libraries should go there.

Jester’s Cap

I don’t know. I’m just a guy with a funny cap on his head teaching himself how to juggle. Maybe our five-years-older selves will have figured all of this out. We’ll look back and wonder why it took so much thought to create this thing we called a discovery service. Maybe we’ll wonder why we put so much thought into something that was such a flash in the pan. Maybe in five years Googlezon will give each of us our Evolving Personalized Information Construct and we don’t have to go to the library any more for our information needs. Or maybe we will have found that a gathering in Baltimore, Maryland back in 2015 generated some really good ideas — ideas that sparked a wave of innovation between publishers, service providers, and libraries with far reaching impacts.


That’s what I think will happen. Now comes the audience participation part, but not with the juggling. I want us to cast our imaginations forward five years and see how we’ve addressed some of the things we’ve talked about over the past two days. I’ve written down some key thoughts and ideas expressed here in the room, on twitter, in Marshall’s document and other documents. If this is something you said or wrote, and are willing to fess up to it, I’d like to give you a chance in this closing session to project yourself into that future place. If you didn’t say what was written on the card, but you want to add your own ideas, jump in as well.



Based on a conversation, I would present the “Where” section differently. Users may come to the library resource discovery service from a mobile device with a very small screen, but they will likely do so with a much different intent than if they were on a desktop or tablet device. The smaller devices are more likely to be used for “known item” searches — such as when the patron wants to send a citation to a collaborator in the course of a conversation. (Such known item searches are also useful for more traditional reasons such as finding an item in the stacks.) In those cases, the discovery service should take the mobile nature of the inquiry as another signal to use to tailor the user experience to that small device. I will still argue that very, very few are going to conduct a full-blown literature search — with all of the bells and whistles — on a small mobile device.

Registration Now Open for a Fall Forum on the Future of Library Discovery

Helping patrons find the information they need is an important part of the library profession, and in the past decade the profession has seen the rise of dedicated “discovery systems” to address that need. The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is active at the intersection of libraries, content suppliers, and service providers in smoothing out the wrinkles between these parties:

Next in this effort is a two-day meeting where these three groups will hear about the latest activities and plan activities to advance the standards landscape. Registration for this meeting has just opened, and included below is the announcement. I’ll be Baltimore in early October to participate and offer the closing keynote, and I hope you will be able to attend in person or participate in the live stream.

NISO will host a two–day meeting to take place in Baltimore, Maryland on October 5 & 6, 2015 on The Future of Library Discovery. In February 2015, NISO published a white paper commissioned from library consultant Marshall Breeding by NISO’s Discovery to Delivery Topic Committee. The in-person meeting will be an extension of the white paper with a series of presenters and panels offering an overview of the current resource discovery environment. Attendees will then participate in several conversations that will examine possibilities regarding how these technologies, methodologies, and products might be able to adapt to changes in the evolving information landscape in scholarly communications and to take advantage of new technologies, metadata models, or linking environments to better accomplish the needs of libraries to provide access to resources.

For the full agenda, please visit:

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Opening Keynote: Marshall Breeding, Independent Library Consultant,
  • Scott Bernier, Senior Vice President, Marketing, EBSCO
  • Michael Levine-Clark, Professor / Associate Dean for Scholarly Communication and Collections Services, University of Denver Libraries
  • Gregg Gordon, President & CEO, Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN)
  • Neil Grindley, Head of Resource Discovery, Jisc
  • Steve Guttman, Senior Product Manager, ProQuest
  • Karen Resch McKeown, Director, Product Discovery, Usage and Analytics, Gale | Cengage Learning
  • Jason S. Price, Ph.D., Director of Licensing Operations, SCELC Library Consortium
  • Mike Showalter, Executive Director, End-User Services, OCLC
  • Christine Stohn, Product Manager, ExLibris Group
  • Julie Zhu, Manager, Discovery Service Relations, Marketing, Sales & Design, IEEE
  • Closing Keynote: Peter Murray, Library Technologist and blogger at the Disruptive Library Technology Jester

This event is generously sponsored by: EBSCO, Sage Publications, ExLibris Group, and Elsevier. Thank you!

Early Bird rates until September! The cost to attend the two-day seminar in person for NISO Members (Voting or LSA) is only $250.00; Nonmember: $300.00; and for Students: $150.00. To register, click here.

Please visit the event page for the most up-to-date information on the agenda, speakers and registration information.

For any questions regarding your in-person or virtual attendance at this NISO event, contact Juliana Wood, Educational Programs Manager, via email or phone 301.654.2512.

We hope to see you in Baltimore in the Fall!

Announcing “The Future of Library Resource Discovery” — a NISO Two-day Forum in October in Baltimore

Cover page from the NISO white paper "The Future of Library Resource Discovery"

Cover page from the NISO white paper “The Future of Library Resource Discovery”

In early October, NISO will be hosting a two-day forum on the future of resource discovery in libraries. This is an in-person meeting to extend the work of Marshall Breeding’s paper on the same topic that was published earlier this year:

  • Full paper, PDF, 53 pages
  • Summary from Information Standards Quarterly, Spring 2015, 27(1): pp. 24-30.

Marshall will start the forum with a presentation on the topics presented in the paper. Participants will then break up into smaller groups to go into more depth on the ideas and the implications with reporting back to the larger group. I will finish up the forum on the second day with a keynote that wraps together the ideas expressed during the meeting and a vision of where resource discovery in libraries is heading.

If you can, attend the face-to-face meeting with all the rich interaction of the breakout sessions. If you can make it to Baltimore on October 5th and 6th, sign up to watch and interact through a live webcast. Details on registration are on the NISO web page for the forum.

My ALA Anaheim 2012 Schedule

It is that time of year again where representatives from the library profession all gather for the annual Annual Library Association meeting. This year it is in Anaheim, California on June 21–26. And as the pace of technology continues to push libraries into new areas of content and service, this meeting promises to be an exciting one. Or, at least I’m planning on having a fun and engaging time. Here is my tentative schedule of public events. If you’d like to get together to chat outside these times, please get in touch.

Updated to correct the date for the LYRASIS lounge.


Time: Saturday, June 23 Friday June 22, 2012 from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Location: Anabella House – Magnolia Poolside Meeting Room and Private Patio

LYRASIS members, friends, and those interested are invited to join staff for this get-together. RSVP via Facebook or email.

Conversation Starters: Discovery Here, Discovery There: Pros and Cons of Local or Remote Hosting of Discovery Tools

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Saturday, June 23, 2012 from 9:15 AM to 10:00 AM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – 208A
Discovery systems are powerful tools to help users find information resources across the breadth of the library’s online holdings. Many of these tools offer APIs for libraries to build their own user interfaces to the search index, allowing a library to keep site visitors within the library until the time they access the full text of a resource. What are the pros and cons of keeping discovery local? This talk will explore the user interaction, interface design, and user expectations of such homegrown interfaces.

Discovery systems continue to be a hot topic, as is the question about whether libraries should run their own systems or subscribe to commercial services. This is a topic that is also addressed in the FOSS4Lib Control versus Responsibility 40-question survey tool. I’m interested to hear Ken Varnum‘s take on it and the kinds of questions that come from the audience.

As an aside, ALA is two new session formats this year: 5-minute/20-slide “Ignite” style sessions and 45-minute “conversation starter” sessions. This is one of the latter.

Kuali OLE: Community Ready Software for Your Library!

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Saturday, June 23, 2012 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – 210D
Kuali OLE (pronounced oh-lay) is in the first year of building a community-source library management system that takes advantage of existing Kuali Foundation software. Operating since July 2010, and supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Kuali OLE is one of the largest academic library software collaborations in the United States. This program will provide an overview of our current software release and how you can get involved with Kuali OLE at your library.

At LYRASIS I’m hearing lots of questions from our members about the Kuali OLE project. I’m heading to this session to see what the needs of libraries would be as a part of forming a strategy for LYRASIS. OLE is an important open source software project for library automation of a kind we haven’t seen in a decade (since the foundation was laid for Evergreen and Koha). The fruits of the early labor are just ripening, and the results could have a profound impact — not only on the ILS marketplace but also in how libraries come together to work on shared software development. Note that this is one of several sessions at ALA featuring the OLE project.

New Library Technology Paradigms: OS vs Black Box vs Hybrids

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Saturday, June 23, 2012 from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – 206A
Some libraries build new Open Source Products, some adopt existing ones and others buy packaged products. How do libraries make the choice? What are the trade-offs, benefits and pitfalls of building something in house, using an existing OS solution, buying something out of the box or building a hybrid solution. Our panelists will talk about how and why they build systems and what drives their decision making processes.

Here’s the place in the program where I’ll be speaking. Joining me on the panel moderated by Evviva Weinraub is Bohyun Kim and Megan Banasek on the decision-making process for choosing software. I’ll be talking about the FOSS4Lib Decision Support tools and the other two speakers will be talking about their experiences.

ACRL / SPARC Forum: Campus Open Access Funds: The State of Play

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Saturday, June 23, 2012 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Location: Disneyland Hotel – Disneyland Grand Ballroom South
A sustainable, Open Access scholarly communication system requires robust, stable sources of funding. One key source of such funding are campus-based Open Access funds – pools of money provided academic institutions specifically earmarked to help authors offset the cost of journal publication. These funds have sprung up on campuses large and small, in colleges and universities across the U.S., Canada, and increasingly, worldwide. How are these funds created? Where are they located and who administers them? Where does the money come from? Are authors using these funds? Where can my institution turn for information on creating such a fund?

This forum will explore all of these questions and more, as a panel of experts delve into the latest developments in creating, implementing and sustaining this crucial resource.

Presenters include:

  • Chuck Eckman, Librarian and Dean of Library Services at Simon Fraser University
  • Sue Kriegsman , Program Manager for the Office for Scholarly Communication at Harvard University Library
  • Andrew Waller, Librarian at University of Calgary

These panelists will share their experiences in establishing and running some of the most visible and longest-running Open Access Campus Funds in existences, and discuss what’s working, what need fine tuning, and what they see pending as new developments on the horizon for these crucial resources.

Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative update

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Sunday, June 24, 2012 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Location: Anaheim Marriott Grand Salon A-C

Community forum to share news and views on the LC Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative.

I’m expecting lots of news here, particularly with the recent news of the modeling initiative. I’m also eager to hear how librarians can participate more deeply in the effort.

As an aside, if this session wasn’t going on I’d be going to the Responsive Web Design: get beyond the myth of the mobile Web. Responsive web design is an important technique, and I’m glad to see it getting some play to a broader library audience.

Chat Library Technology With Me at the LYRASIS Booth

Exhibitor information in the ALA scheduler
Time: June 24, 2012 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Location: Exhibit floor booth 2001

Want to talk open source software? FOSS4Lib? Ebooks? Discovery layers? Come meet with me at the LYRASIS booth and we can chat about these topics and more.

The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Research, Digital Scholarship and Implications for Libraries

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Sunday, June 24, 2012 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – Ballroom A
Tony Hey will describe the emergence of a new, ‘fourth paradigm’ for scientific research – involving the acquisition, management and analysis of vast quantities of scientific data. This ‘data deluge’ is already affecting many fields of science most notably fields like biology, astronomy, particle physics, environmental science and oceanography. The term eScience or eResearch is used to describe the development of the tools and technologies to support this more data-intensive, collaborative and often multidisciplinary research. This revolution will not be confined to the physical sciences but will also transform large parts of the humanities and social sciences as more and more of their primary research data is now being born digital.

Tony Hey is Vice President of Microsoft Research Connections, and he has a lot of good things to say on the ‘data’ that we should be listening about.

The Ultimate Debate: Cloud Computing: Floating or Free Falling?

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Monday, June 25, 2012 from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – 213AB
The Ultimate Debate returns for the seventh straight year with a lively discussion over the promises and pitfalls of cloud computing. Three panelists will tease out the various components of cloud computing to give you the insight needed to decide if you should be in the clouds or on terra firma.

A recent article on GigaOm1 said, “The good news is that you’re not going to mind that your cloud computing budget will be higher than what you’re paying now for IT, because you’ll be able to do more.” I wonder if that is true. Cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service specifically has taken off in libraries of all types and sizes, but I haven’t seen where we’ve engaged in a cost-benefit analysis. I expect this “ultimate debate” will shed some light on the topic.

Drive Your Project Forward with Scrum

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Monday, June 25, 2012 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – 203A
NPR Librarian, Janel Kinlaw, shares lessons learned from adapting Scrum, an agile process framework, to content management projects. She’ll discuss how this approach freed the team to innovate in structuring projects, gathering feedback from end-users in real-time, identifying risk and scope creep sooner and aligning library goals to the broader objectives of the organization. Janel will demonstrate where the Scrum process took us further than traditional methodologies.

This last session is for the geeky side of me. I haven’t worked in a formal Scrum environment, but I enjoy hearing of the story of those that do.


  1. The cloud will cost you, but you’ll be happy to pay, by Dave Roberts, GigaOm Cloud Computing News, published Jun. 9, 2012 []

Views on Sharing (or, What Do We Want From OCLC?)

Within the span of a recent week we’ve had two views of the OCLC cooperative. In one we have a proposition that OCLC has gone astray from its core roots and in the other a celebration of what OCLC can do. One proposes a new mode of cooperation while the other extols the virtues of the existing cooperative. Both writers claim — independently — to “talk to librarians” and represent the prevailing mood of the profession. Can these two viewpoints be reconciled?

“Too Many Cooks?”

The pro-establishment view first. In a post by Chip Nilges on the OCLC Cooperative Blog, we get the view that the backing of the wider librarian community is key to OCLC being able to negotiate with content vendors like H.W. Wilson. Chip’s “talk to librarians” quote is:
I spend quite a bit of time talking both to librarians and industry partners–publishers, booksellers, Web-technology providers, search engine companies–all kinds of people doing interesting things in our space. And in those talks, there is often a discussion of one of the following: content, technology or community. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that the best results come from places where all three come together.

Chip’s post is short but clear in its view that the community of OCLC members is something special and that it adds value to member libraries.

“The Cooperative We Need”

The other perspective comes from Carl Grant in a post on his Ex Libris blog. His thesis is that OCLC has an important role to play in adding value to bibliographic data, but that its motives are too intertwined with for-profit interests to carry out this role effectively. Carl’s “talk to librarians” quote is:
It appears to me that the interests of the OCLC we know today do not appear to be in total alignment with the needs and interests of its overall actual membership. Perhaps they are in alignment with the interests of the Board, Council, and other governing and administrative arms, but the feeling I get in talks with librarians is that it is not in alignment with what they want. As I talk to librarians, across the country today, I hear that what they want is an organization, a cooperative that is focused on developing and providing open and collaborative library content and services that are widely accessible by all in order that they (the librarians) can focus on re-establishing and/or maintaining the value of libraries in our society.

Carl goes on to propose the creation of a utility that aggregates the ratings and rankings of individual users into a database that can enhance the relevance ranking of the emerging generation of discovery layer products.

My Thoughts

This “talk to librarians” thread through the two posts makes me reflect on a question I asked earlier on DLTJ: “What Does it Mean to be a Member of OCLC?” Although I probably haven’t talked to nearly the number of librarians as Chip and Carl, in my discussions within the profession I still haven’t come to a resolution to this basic question. That question itself is tied to another question coming through in the contrast between these two posts: What Do We Want From OCLC?

Carl describes the problem in his post. When a not-for-profit vendor acquires a significant number of for-profit companies (and spins them back out again), how can we (members, vendors, and the library community in general) understand how the mix of commercial and non-commercial interests are playing out at the management level? Can the OCLC that is the bibliographic utility, the metadata switch between bibliographic-based services, and the R&D braintrust co-exist with the for-profit businesses, motivations, and operations? Or, to put it more sharply, does the negotiation of H.W. Wilson content for use on the subscription-based WorldCat database hinder the evolution of discovery layers that being developed by companies that don’t have the tax-advantaged not-for-profit status? (And don’t forget about the allegations of anti-competitive behavior in the SkyRiver/Innovative-versus-OCLC lawsuit.)

In closing this section, I want to pull out and emphasize another quotation from Carl’s post:

In the end, all of these business initiatives, and now resulting lawsuit, strongly work against OCLC being able to do what it does best—building collaboration, content, and related services as a non-profit entity to serve the larger profession.


Carl’s Grand Idea

What might get lost if you only closely read the first half of Carl’s post — as it initially did for me — is the second half where he describes the concept for enhancing WorldCat in a manner that benefits all…both library members and commercial entities. He does this by noting that the “valuable points of open source software” can be applied — in a social media fashion — to a service that aggregates usage, ratings, and comments in a way that advances relevance ranking of discovery tools. Now initially the mind swirls with concerns of privacy and informed user consent in gathering this data in one central pool. I don’t think we know enough yet in the library community about building privacy-robust systems that meet an American librarian’s information privacy ethos. But done right it also has the ability to build a reputation-based social feedback loop that adds important new information to the bibliographic utility. And because of its better-when-bigger characteristic, only a neutral party like the not-for-profit OCLC cooperative could serve as an aggregator and distributor of this data.

I highly recommend reading Carl’s post and thinking about ways of answering the question “What Do We Want From OCLC?” I commend Carl for his courage and vision in articulating his points and proposing something new for the profession to drive towards.

The text was modified to update a link from to on November 16th, 2012.

The text was modified to update a link from to on November 16th, 2012.

The text was modified to update a link from to on November 16th, 2012.

The text was modified to update a link from to on January 8th, 2013.

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!)
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New Directions for Discovering Information

I had the pleasure of presenting at the 2009 meeting of the Ohio Higher Education Computing Council (OHECC) on OhioLINK’s plans for a new discovery layer. Included below is a web version of the presentation slides and links to more information. I also attempted to record the audio from the presentation; if that is of an acceptable quality, I’ll add it here and synchronize it to the slide playback.The audio has now been added to the presentation on SlideShare and is available separately.

Slides from OHECC presentation

For a description of the OhioLINK project, see this earlier DLTJ posting with a description from the solicitation and this follow-up posting with answers to questions from potential bidders. (When reading these messages, please note that the time for submitting responses to the solicitation has passed.)