Current Cites

Volume 14, no. 8, August 2003

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Terry Huwe, Shirl Kennedy, Leo Robert Klein, Roy Tennant

Bates, Marcia J.. Task Force Recommendation 2.3 Research and Design Review: Improving User Access to Library Catalog and Portal Information   Wash., DC: Library of Congress, June 2003. ( - Don't let the daunting title get you down. This report, an outgrowth of the Library of Congress Conference on Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium, responds to the charge to "explore ways to enrich metadata records by focusing on providing additional subject and other access mechanisms...and increasing granularity of access and display (e.g., by enabling progression through hierarch and versions and by additional description information including summaries)". Bates and those with whom she discussed this work item came to understand that this charge could be recast as three distinct areas of inquiry: 1) user access vocabulary, 2) links among bibliographic families, and 3) staging of access to resources in the interface. Bates begins with the obligatory review of pertinent literature, but in an informative and interesting manner, which properly sets the stage for the next section of "Implications and Recommendations." Well worth reading for anyone interested in where we're heading with bibliographic search systems -- or at least with where we should be heading. - RT

Bausch, Paul.  "Amazon Hacks: Power-Search for BooksO'Reilly and Associates: Amazon Hacks   (August 2003) ( - OK. Technically, this is not an article. Rather, this is "Sample Hack #9" from a new O'Reilly and Associates title, Amazon Hacks. In our library, we use all the time to verify titles because its search engine is so much better than the lame one at Baker & Taylor Online. But I gotta tell you...I did not have a clue that Amazon's search engine supported the kind of advanced syntax that is described in this particular hack. You will learn how to go above and beyond what the advanced search form offers by employing judicious grouping of phrases, Boolean operators and creative alterations to URLs. Says the author -- an experienced Web application developer and the co-creator of Blogger --"Over its lifetime, has invested $900 million in technology." The collection of hacks is on O'Reilly's website, but only a few are available in full-text. - SK

Darlington, Jeffrey, Andy  Finney, and Adrian  Pearce.  "Domesday Redux: The Rescue of the BBC Domesday Project VideodiscsAriadne   (36) (July 2003) ( - This fascinating article describes how a team of UK preservationists rescued the BBC Domesday videodiscs from certain obsolescence. The modern-day Domesday Project aimed to capture a snapshot of life in Britain in 1986, on a pair of videodiscs, as a celebration of the 900th anniversay of the original Domesday Book of William the Conqueror. Videodiscs are now an anachronism, but these discs were rescued just in time, and recreated using modern technologies. The story is interesting, and is one of the first of many we will experience over the years, as we rescue important data from the death grip of obsolete technologies. - RT

Festa, Paul.  "Battle of the Blog: Dispute Exposes Bitter Power Struggle Behind Web LogsCNET   (4 August 2003) ( - All is not well in blogland. As many of our readers know, blogs, newsletters, web sites, and virtually any Internet technology that can use or produce a syndication service use a technology called RSS. RSS variously stands for "Really Simple Syndication," "RDF Site Summary," or "Rich Site Summary," depending on which version you're talking about. And therein is the rub. The war is being fought over who should control the RSS format, which is expressed in XML. Dave Winer, of UserLand Software fame and now of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, believes it should be him, while others prefer to launch out on their own. Therefore, there are now two warring versions of RSS, one dubbed RSS 2.x and the other still in search of a name. If you want to wade into this battle, you should first start with the recently released RSS Primer cited elsewhere in this issue, then choose your weapons. But my suggestion is to just fire up your favorite RSS reader, and leave the fighting to others. - RT

Kauppila, Paul, and Sharon  Russell.  "Economies of Scale in the Library World: the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Library in San Jose, California."  New Library World   104(7) (2003):  255-266. - What do you do when money's tight and both the state university and the local public library need new library buildings? Why, combine the two in one building, of course. At least that's what they're doing in San Jose in the "first large-scale joint-use venture of its kind in the nation". The facility itself just opened this month so there's not much of a record as to whether this marriage is going to work or not. The collections will remain separate with the academic portion sticking with LC classification and the public part continuing with Dewey. Both technical services and reference will be combined though staff may hale from either the city or university. Certain databases licensed to the university will only be available to students and faculty and not to the general public. Boy, is this a leap in faith! The authors call it a "win-win" situation but only time will tell. Note, available through Emerald at - LRK

Keller, Michael A., Victoria A.  Reich, and Andrew C.  Herkovic.  "What Is A Library Anymore, Anyway?First Monday   8(5) (May 5, 2003) ( - This paper was presented at the Fourth Annual Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World, which was held in February 2003, in Washington, DC. The authors tackle a familiar topic -- rumors of our imminent demise -- with imagination and energy. They avoid defensive tones, but bluntly assert that forecasts of obsolescence are often the result of projection upon libraries from other perspectives. Moreover, it is interesting to observe what suppositions are embedded in those forecasts, because they all too often miss the deeper functions libraries perform. The authors argue that "local custodianship" of collections is a key value point for libraries, and by focusing on collections as an expression of local community will help assure their future. The extent to which libraries forget their roles as custodians of collections may determine how bright their future turns out to be. - TH

Kunze, John A.. Towards Electronic Persistence Using ARK Identifiers   Oakland, CA: California Digital Library, July 2003. ( - The topic of persistent identifiers is as old as the first broken URL. With PURLs, Handles, URNs, and lord only knows what else, why another scheme in the form of Archival Resource Keys (ARKs)? Because, as Kunze points out, existing schemes are constructed on the wrong foundation. PURLs and Handles are simply indirect naming schemes that allow an authority to change the physical location of an item without causing the published identifier to break. But persistence is much more than that, Kunze asserts. "A founding principle of the ARK is that persistence is purely a matter of service, and is neither inherent in an object nor conferred on it by a particular naming syntax. The best an identifier can do is lead users to those services." By definition, Kunze explains, an ARK is bound to three things: "(a) object access, (b) object metadata, and (c) a faceted commitment statement." In other words, an ARK for a given object can be queried to retrieve a statement that describes the level of persistence that the owning organization declares regarding that object (the specific statement is entirely up to the individual institution, and can be anything from "we'll drop this like a hot potato at the first sign of trouble" to "we'll go down fighting to keep this available" and numerous points in between, worded in whatever way is appropriate). Although some details on the scheme are included in this succinct document, the whole nine yards are also available in the full ARK specification. Kunze ends by describing how the California Digital Library is using ARKs for digital objects it controls. Whether or not ARK as a persistent identifier scheme wins the day, Kunze has a handle on exactly what makes or breaks persistence -- commitment, not redirection. - RT

"Married to the Mob(log)?   (29 July 2003) ( - My sons roll their eyes so far back into their skulls that only the whites are showing. Mom just got a camera phone. Right now, I am amusing myself mainly by taking pictures of myself at work and e-mailing them to friends. But just wait till I start my own moblog (pronouced MO-blog, as in "mobile blog")! This, folks, is the bleeding edge. If you have a camera phone with wireless Web access, there are a bunch of sites that make it relatively easy for you to create your own online digital journal. And people are doing this in droves. Think of the possibilities! This article describes how a student in Singapore took cell phone photos of an out-of-control teacher ripping up a classmate's paper and then posted these on the Web. This single act touched off a nationwide debate "over the state of student-teacher relations in the country's education system." While a lot of moblogs are merely content to explore the bizarre and indulge the voyeur, some are said to be changing the very nature of journalism. For example, some folks stuck in the recent northeastern U.S. blackout (who were able to get a scarce wireless signal) provided illustrated on-the-scene reports throughout the event. - SK

Moffat, M.. RSS - A Primer for Publishers & Content Providers   (August 2003) ( - RSS is an interesting technology that underlies blogs (web logs), as well as some newsletters, journals, and web sites. Basically, it is a method to provide current awareness kinds of services using a simple XML-encoded metadata format. This primer, aimed at those providing content on the Internet, is a very useful primer for virtually anyone wanting to know more about this technology. - RT

Rimmer, Matthew.  "The Dead Poets Society: The Copyright Term and the Public Domain First Monday   8(6) (2 June 2003) ( - The author evaluates U.S. copyright litigation from a variety of perspectives, including history, intellectual property law, constitutional law and freedom of speech, cultural heritage, and international trade. He essentially argues that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act 1998, which was recently upheld by the U. S. Supreme Court, will inhibit the advancement of cultural and artistic expression using new technologies. He cites the Eldritch Press and Project Gutenberg as examples of innovative uses of digital technology that may become less possible in the future, if the law becomes adopted as an international standard by other nations. - TH

Susman, Thomas M., David J.  Carter, and  Ropes & Gray LLP, et. al.Publisher Mergers: A Consumer-Based Approach to Antitrust Analysis   Washington, DC: Information Access Alliance, 2003. ( - This report discusses the critical importance of the wide dissemination of legal and research information, analyzes the skyrocketing cost of scholarly journals and its effect on libraries' ability to purchase these journals, examines the roles of publisher mergers in such price increases, and proposes new criteria for antitrust regulators to use in evaluating publisher mergers that are based on how libraries make collection development decisions. The focus is on two sectors of the scholarly publishing marketplace that have been most heavily impacted by cost increases: legal and STM (scientific, technical, and medical) information. A key argument of the report is that the scholarly publishing marketplace has exceptional characteristics: journals on the same topic provide unique content and they do not substitute for each other. Consequently, demand is often "inelastic": driven by researchers' needs for a journal's specific content, libraries are often reluctant to cancel its subscription, even in the face of significant cost increases. However, given budget constraints and constantly rising costs, libraries are forced to make decisions about what journals to cut, and, when they do so, they frequently group journals into broad academic fields, analyzing relative price and usage factors. This analysis results in journals in different sub-disciplines being in competition with each other for library funding despite the fact that their content may have little overlap. Antitrust regulators may not be aware of this collection development strategy and believe that journals in different sub-disciplines do not compete with each other. This new view of the dynamics of the library marketplace has profound implications for how antitrust analysis should be conducted: "Market definition would be based on broad portfolios of journals consistent with the portfolios that libraries construct when selecting journals, rather than on narrow content-based comparisons that fail to take account of the competition for library dollars between journals with little content overlap." - CB

Tufte, Edward.  "PowerPoint Is EvilWired Magazine   11(9) (September 2003) ( - When the author of "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" comes out against your product, in this case PowerPoint, likening it to a bad drug, you might wish you hadn't got out of bed that day. Tufte blasts the popular Microsoft product for its "pushy style", a style which "routinely disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content". In the right hands, it can be "a competent slide manager" but it can also lend itself (perhaps inherently?) to what he condemns as nothing but "chartjunk". Great article to get slideware newbies thinking about the impact of visual information. - LRK

Current Cites - ISSN: 1060-2356
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