Current Cites

Volume 14, no. 10, October 2003

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 -

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Margaret Gross, Shirl Kennedy, Leo Robert Klein, Roy Tennant

A Guide to Institutional Repository Software   New York: Open Society Institute, October 2003. ( - This brief guide identifies open source software for building repositories. The criteria for inclusion include that they are distributed under an open source license, they comply with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, and they are "currently released and publicly available". Although the descriptions are very brief, this document provides a quick overview of the choices for institutions seeking to launch a repository. Of particular benefit is the summary table at the end, where it is easy to compare features between competing choices. Well, easy if you have a magnifying glass or read it online with Acrobat's zoom feature, given the size of the print. - RT

Proceedings of the 2003 Dublin Core Conference   Seattle, WA: Information School, University of Washington, October 2003. ( - The Dublin Core Conference has emerged as a rich source of technical papers squarely focused on practical, down-to-earth library issues. Surprisingly, although DC often shows up in many of these papers, it doesn't show up in all by any means, and the breadth of the papers belies the apparent narrowness of the conference title. Were I to be asked to come up with a name for the conference based solely on the papers, the word "metadata" must surely be a component, as that appears to be the binding thread of this conference. From all appearances, all of the papers given at the conference are here in Adobe Acrobat format, and presented through an interesting application called "Seamark" from Siderean Software, which also serves as the host for the papers (I can't help wondering if anyone is backing these up somewhere, but maybe it is my proximity to the Silicon Valley that makes me loathe to trust preservation to a Thus, a trip to this site can be a two-fold benefit -- the papers themselves, and the system that makes the papers searchable and browseable in new and interesting ways. In other words, this is a "don't miss" site. - RT

Bialik, Carl.  "Radio Reporter Tests Wi-Fi for Filing Stories on the GoWall Street Journal   (17 October 2003) (,,SB10661702513143900-H9jeoNplaN2npyna3yHaayFm4,00.html). - ABC News Radio correspondents, as part of a current trial, have been filing their stories via public Wi-Fi connections rather than using their traditional digital audio recorders and then rushing back to the studio to file. Not only does this save time, but "the station gets live reports complete with ambient street sounds." This story follows Bob Schmidt, a veteran correspondent in New York City, as he gathers man-in-the-street reactions to a revelation that some Manhattan movie theatres will begin selling reserved seats for $15. Filing stories via Wi-Fi is not exactly a smooth, trouble-free process. Before he even does any interviews, Schmidt scopes out a potential Wi-Fi hot spot. "As with many such access points, its origin is unclear; some individuals and businesses leave their connections open to the public, sometimes unwittingly." Since this one provides too faint a signal for Schmidt to use, he misses filing in time for the 11 a.m. newscast. He also runs into several technical issues involving his laptop, and the whole experience proves somewhat frustrating. In spite of the precarious Wi-Fi situation -- "It's really the wild, wild west," Schmidt said -- he is bullish on the future of the this technology as a media tool. - SK

Darlington, Jeffrey.  "PRONOM -- A Practical Online Compendium of File FormatsRLG DigiNews   7(5) (15 October 2003) ( - As anyone familiar with the issue of digital preservation knows, the real problem facing those in the field is migration. That is, bringing files forward from dead file formats into formats that can be used with current software. Clearly, one piece of this problem is simply knowing what you have in hand and what you need to make sense of it (i.e., which software may be able to read it). This article describes efforts to help this problem, through an online registry of file formats and associated information. The web site, called PRONOM, is a project of the National Archives of the UK, the contents of which ("over 250 software products, 550 file formats and 100 manufacturers") will be searchable online any day now. With this service, as well as the web site highlighted in this same RLG DigiNews issue, JHOVE, which identifies file formats based on the file itself rather than the often missing or inaccurate filename extension, we are beginning to get some real traction with the migration issue. - RT

Hugos, Michael.  "Toward A New Technology StrategyDarwin   (October 2003) ( - Getting IT "stuff" these days is easy. Much is available at attractive price points. However, utilizing this "stuff" to maximize its potential involves people. The basic point here is that computers should be used for things that they do best -- crunching data, managing inventory, running accounting and financial systems -- which frees people to do what they do best -- "think and communicate and solve problems." This essay indentifies "six basic IT building blocks" -- ASCII flat files, ftp, e-mail, batch processing, relational databases and Web pages. An organization looking to maximize its IT investment can mix and match these in different combinations or tack them onto existing systems to create something entirely new. The objective should be to have systems that handle all of the routine transactions. The oddball stuff "that does not follow one of the simple routine processing rules" can be bounced to a live human being, who uses brainpower to fix the problem. People enjoy working on non-routine tasks. Says the author, "The human brain has been evolving for the last 150,000 years to do just this kind of work." Hard to argue with that. - SK

Jordan, Mark.  "The Self-Education of Systems Librarians"  Library Hi Tech 21(3) (2003): 273-279 ( ibrarians.pdf). - If you are a systems librarian, the article title no doubt caught your eye -- I mean, who among us can't say they are self-educated to one degree or another? So if you've read this far you will likely find Jordan's piece to be informative and insightful -- perhaps even comforting. After first discussing the definition of systems librarianship, Jordan provides a brief literature review, highlights essential attitudes and traits of systems librarians, and then provides specific methods to keep up-to-date in key technology areas. Thankfully, as Jordan notes, these days opportunities for developing important skills are "open to anyone with a connection to the Internet and a motivation to learn." Full disclosure: Jordan cites some of my work. - RT

Lin, Nancy. ACLS History E-Book Project: Report on Technology Development and Production Workflow for XML Encoded E-Books   New York: American Council of Learned Societies, 3 October 2003. ( - The History E-Book Project of the American Council of Learned Societies seeks to "assist scholars in the electronic publishing of high-quality works in history, to explore the intellectual possibilities of new technologies, and to help assure the continued viability of the history writing in today's changing publishing environment." The project released 500 books on the web in September 2002, to those who have licensed access to the collection. In this whitepaper, Ms. Lin lays out in an informative, readable, and understandable way the technical infrastructure they created to put these books online. Decisions are documented, with accompanying justification, as well as sufficient detail to fully understand what they chose to do and why. Overall, this whitepaper is a rare glimpse into why and how a particular technical infrastructure was developed to support publishing books online, and should be required reading by anyone seeking to do the same. - RT

Norman, D. A. Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things [sample draft chapters]   New York: Basic Books, [eta:] January 2004. ( - A thing of beauty is a joy forever. That no one disputes. But quantifying exactly how much of a joy has always been a problem. Researchers know aesthetics play a role in how we evaluate a product but few know exactly to what degree. These things, after all, are hard to measure. So more often than not the pure utility of an object, its "cognitive" aspect as Don Norman would say, is emphasized over more emotional considerations. This produces a lopsided view of how people interact with things, making the prediction of their acceptance or rejection extremely difficult. Don Norman believes both emotional and cognitive aspects are necessary. This belief is backed up by research he discusses in the rest of the book. "Aesthetically pleasing objects," he concludes, "actually work better." - LRK

Rehmann, Ulf.  "Documenta Mathematica: A Community-Driven Scientific JournalHigh Energy Physics Libraries Webzine   (October 2003) ( - This article provides a brief overview of Documenta Mathematica, a free peer-reviewed mathematics e-journal (founded in 1996) that also has a low-cost annual print-on-demand edition. What did it cost to produce the e-version of this journal in 1999? The author, who is the journal's Technical Managing Editor, estimates it cost approximately 200 euros. Of course, the authors, editors, and referees were not paid; however, the author notes that this is typical for mathematics journals, which also usually require authors to submit TeX typeset files for their manuscripts. Assuming a modest 400 libraries worldwide accessed the journal, the author estimates that they saved 128,800 euros compared to what it would have cost if the journal were priced like the typical mathematics journal. (The author does not attempt to calculate the costs of readers printing e-journal articles.) The author also provides production cost information for the proceedings of the 1998 International Congress of Mathematicians. - CB

Young, Arthur P., Ronald R.  Powell, and Peter  Hernon.  "Attributes for the Next Generation of Library DirectorsProceedings of the ACRL 11th National conference, Charlotte NC, April 10-13 2003   ( - With so many library administrators retiring within the next decade, there will be a critical need to recruit senior library staff. This paper attempts to identify the attributes (defined as traits, skills and knowledge) that the next generation of library directors should have. In order to identify these attributes, Delphi Technique surveys were conducted amongst incumbent library directors from ARL member universities, ACRL member institutions, and large public libraries. [More information on the Delphi Technique of consensus development may be found at: The Delphi Method: Techniques and Applications by Harold A. Linstone and Murray Turoff, Editors, 2002 or The Delphi Technique] While variations exist, primarily based on the survey participants' background, i.e. on the type of their library affiliation, six common attributes were identified: 1. Leadership Abilities and Skills, 2. Management Skills, 3. Knowledge Areas (technical competencies), 4. Cognitive Skills/Abilities, 5. Interpersonal Abilites, 6. Personal traits. This article will be amplified, as well as survey specifics presented in the authors' book currently in press: The Next Library Leadership: Attributes of Academic and Public Library Directors, Westport Conn.: Libraries Unlimited. - MG

Current Cites - ISSN: 1060-2356
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