Current Cites

Volume 14, no. 9, September 2003

Edited by Roy Tennant

The Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720
ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2003/cc03.14.9.html

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

Cataloging Culutural Objects: A Guide to Describing Cultural Works and Their Images   NY: Visual Resources Association, September 2003. (http://www.vraweb.org/CCOweb/). - It may be jumping the gun a bit to review this publication before it is actually published, but we are nothing if not current here at Current Cites, so we will do it anyway (so sue us!). This publication-in-process is a joint effort of the Visual Resources Association and the Digital Library Federation. It aims to "provide guidelines for selecting, ordering, and formatting data used to populate catalog records" relating to cultural works. Although this work is far from finished (Chapters 1, 2, 7, and 9 are available, as well as front and back matter), the authors are making it available so pratictioners can use it and respond with information about how it can be improved to better aid their work. A stated goal is to publish it in print at some point in the future. Besides garnering support from the organizations named above as well as the Getty, the Mellon Foundation and others, the effort is being guided by experienced professionals at the top of their field. Get the point? If you're involved with creating metadata relating to any type of cultural object and/or images of such, this will need to be either on your bookshelf, or bookmarked in your browser, or both. - RT

Cedergren, Magnus.  "Open Content and Value CreationFirst Monday   8(8) (4 August 2003) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue8_8/cedergren/index.html). - The author defines open content as materials that others can improve upon and redistribute, or as content that is produced without expectation of immediate financial reward. He argues that this sort of open content is becoming an important development track in the shifting media landscape. He suggests that open content is distinct from open source programming, yet related in some ways. However, content by definition is not programming, and invites additional, extensive and subjective responses and review. Therefore content creates new value streams, often with broad appeal to non-technologists. The author explores the dynamics of value creation in terms of the economic literature as well as the dynamics of software piracy. He asserts that the lifespan of open content will be heavily influenced relationships between producers and distributors, all of whom are presumably working for free. - TH

Kawakami, Alice, and Pauline  Swartz.  "Digital Reference: Training and Assessment for Service Improvement. "  Reference Services Review   31(2) (2003):  227-236. - It must be a sign of our maturity with electronic reference that many libraries have moved from simply getting the system off the ground to assessing quality of service. This progression was inevitable of course. But even here the newness of the service is reflected. The article looks at an assessment of technical competencies needed to work the digital reference desk at UCLA. The authors found that librarians were still having problems either getting the software to work or taking full advantage of its capabilities. Some of these problems could (and should) be alleviated by improvements to the software, in addition of course to more training. Once that happens we can start looking forward to quality assessments that go beyond the more immediate technical issues. - LRK

Knezo, Genevieve J. . 'Sensitive But Unclassified' and Other Federal Security Controls on Scientific and Technical Information: History and Current Controversy   Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, 2 April 2003. (http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL31845.pdf). - The U.S. Government has always maintained a level of security over the release of scientific and technical information that is deemed vital to national interests. The events of 9/11 have added to and broadened existing controls governing access of this type of information. The challenge to policy makers is how to balance the free flow of scientific information with the needs of national security. Ms. Knezo has produced a well research and well documented (There are 163 footnote references) report that examines the background of these safeguard measures. She also explores several key policy issues pertaining the the release of data. The report is organized into four major sections. The report begins with a review and summary of significant pieces of legislation, including patent law, the Atomic energy Act, the USA Patriot Act, etc. Secondly the author examines the various definitions of 'Sensitive But Unclassified' (SBU), and how this term has evolved for use by various governmental and military organizations. The third and fourth sections of the report cover controversies and policy options respectively. The policy options seek to develop a coherent, consistent and balanced definition of the SBU classification, and its application to the publication of scientific and technical information, emanating from both governmental and private sectors. All this shielded by controls designed to prevent sensitive data from getting into the hands of terrorists. A good read for those seeking background information, and current status in understanding how information is to be protected. - MG

LePoer, Peter, and Judith  Theodori.  "The Design and Management of a Dynamically Created Intranet at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics LaboratoryIntranet Professional: Managing Knowledge Ecosystems   6(5) (September/October 2003) (http://www.infotoday.com/IP/sep03/lepoer_theodori.shtml). - This is a short article focusing on the development and maintenance of interactive resources on the intranet at the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University. After reading the article, it is evident that success in providing web based interactivity is the result of close collaboration between a librarian and an IT professional. The foundation of the system is a Microsoft SQL Server database at the back end, which when queried, dynamically generates content for their intranet websites. Library staffers maintain the database using a Microsoft Access 2000 front end. It is here that adding, editing and deleting occur via data entry forms. Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP) are the "glue" which connect the front end interface with the back end database. Scripts running on the server, rather than the client, communicate information to the SQL Server. Based on user input they construct a SQL query, receive the desired content matching the query, then build HTML to dynamically generate standard web pages. A 'User Favorites' feature, developed using cookies, and server-side and client-side scripts, further enhance the system. The Microsoft.Net platform is being considered for future developments. - MG

O'Leary, Mick.  "E-Books Scenarios UpdatedONLINE   27(5) (September/October 2003) (http://www.infotoday.com/online/sep03/oleary.shtml). - In this column O'Leary takes a look back at some forecasts of the future of e-books he made some three years ago. He admits that a few of his predictions were off, including that the use of e-book readers would be "commonplace" by now. But he believes his predictions about the uses of e-books were "right on". These predictions include: 1) use, not read (that is, that e-books will be mostly for using for reference types of activities rather than sustained reading, 2) aggregations, not single works (for example, for searching), 3) institutional customers, not individuals, and 4) subscription pricing, not transactional. In association with his "use, not read" trend, he puts forward this rule of thumb: "The more time you spend with a book at one sitting, the less attractive it is as an e-book," which seems true to this reviewer. - RT

OCLC Online Computer Library Center. Libraries: How They Stack Up Dublin, OH: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, 2003. (http://www5.oclc.org/downloads/community/librariesstackup.pdf). - How much do you think that U.S. libraries spend each year? If you said $14 billion dollars, you're right according to an estimate in this new OCLC document. That's about half of the $31 billion that libraries spend worldwide. How many people worldwide are registered library users? One out of every six. Think that libraries are irrelevant in the age of Amazon.com? U.S. libraries circulate almost four times as many items each day as Amazon handles, and that's nearly as many items as FedEx ships each day. If you find such statistics about the economic aspects of libraries intriguing, this six-page compilation of facts from diverse sources is for you. - CB

Pedley, Paul.  "Tips on Negotiating Licences for Electronic ProductsFree Pint   (145) (18 September 2003) (http://www.freepint.com/issues/180903.htm?FreePint_Session=8baf0efb6b21698e1891023742586e74#tips). - "Electronic products" are not just databases. These days, we are also talking about "news feeds, e-books, reference materials, encyclopaedias, newspapers or electronic journals." If you haven't been there already, you may one day find yourself in the position of having to wrangle with vendors in order to obtain an optimum licensing agreement for your institution. One key point the author makes here is that "a licence does not confer ownership rights. It merely specifies the conditions upon which databases and other copyright works can be used and exploited, and by whom." He provides a well-thought-out list of ten things to keep in mind when you are negotiating such agreements. These includes such basic things as understanding what you are reading and knowing what will happen if there is a dispute, and issues you may not have considered, such as being sure the contract can not be reassigned without your permission. - SK

Rennie, Frank, and Robin  Mason.  "The Ecology of the ConnectionFirst Monday   8(8) (4 August 2003) (http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue8_8/rennie/index.html). - The authors argue that the growing pervasiveness of broadband access, combined with the increasing educational opportunities that follow access, are reshaping how the Internet works. They see the seeds of "self organization" and complex processes, combined with greater technological stability. They describe this more "organic" version of the Internet as the Connecticon. The Connecticon operates at three levels: infrastructure (servers and clients, etc), "human resources (the people who are online), and complex and creative interaction between the people. As the network grows and becomes adaptive, people use it in increasingly subtle and organic ways. The authors give several examples, all with a distinctly British flavor, of how the Connecticon works. These include Welsh Internet Radio, The Great Book of Gaelic, and The Cambridge Ring North East, a non-profit, home grown effort to bring broadband access to residents in the Cambridge region. This article's principal theories restate and extend some of the longstanding beliefs that Internet futurecasters have promoted -- namely, that creativity takes on local characteristics, and serves local constituencies better, if high speed access becomes affordable. - TH

Ronan, Jana Smith.  "Staffing a Real-Time Reference Service: The University of Florida. "  Internet Reference Services Quarterly   8(1/2) (2003):  33-47. - Here's another article on e-Reference, this one on staffing issues. It's billed as the "University of Florida Experience" but the author shows a wide familiarity with operations of all kinds both near and far, in academic and public libraries. It touches on everything from user expectations and skills required to the relative merits of centralized versus distributed workplace environments. All in all, it's a good introduction to the nuts-and-bolts of running such an operation. - LRK

Ryan, Terry, Richard H. G.  Field, and Lorne  Olfman.  "The Evolution of US State Government Home Pages from 1997 to 2002Journal of Human-Computer Studies   59(4) (October 2003):  403-430. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WGR-4938JRM-2/2/26fb7e232b69d72e2f09bedae366dc75). - If home page design is your shtick, you're going to love this article examining state government home pages over a five-year period. The authors made screenshots of the various home pages courtesy of the Wayback Machine. They then asked volunteers to group the pages however they thought fit. By analyzing patterns in the groupings, the authors came up with a set of criteria ("dimensions") such as navigation, layout and information density. They then developed additional categories of design from "Simple Rectangle" and "Long List" to Portal. Finally, they discuss how their set of measures relate to the original home pages over time, what was hot, what simply shriveled up and died. (Available through ScienceDirect.) - LRK

Schonfeld, Roger C.. JSTOR: a History    Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003. - As the struggle continues over the problem of costly academic journal subscriptions for libraries it can be a welcome break to read this detailed and clearly-written history of JSTOR, the digital archive of the backfiles of hundreds of scholarly journals, which grew through careful negotiations with publishers who have actually agreed to give up royalties. A crucial point of agreement was the exclusion of the most recent years (usually five) of a serial, seen by publishers as the revenue-producing segment of the serial's lifespan; the phrase "moving wall" which describes the concept is now part of the librarian's lexicon. From its beginnings as a Mellon Foundation grant-funded project attempting to provide a solution for shelfspace overcrowding, to its status today as an independent non-profit treasured by scholars worldwide, there is fascinating organizational analysis here, treating issues in intellectual property, the economics of pricing and marketing, management politics, and of course the capabilities and limitations of digital technology. The author has been very thorough in documenting each twist and turn in the narrative, citing sources for every fact and providing a time line, list of abbreviations, extensive bibliography and statistical tables and graphs. This is valuable for all involved in digital archive projects and interesting for the endusers of JSTOR; for any readers who might be undecided about taking this book on, I'd recommend browsing the epilogue titled "Lessons Learned." It will whet your appetite for more. - JR

Sinclair, Jenny.  "Online Health Sites a Worldwide WorryThe Sydney Morning Herald   (16 September 2003) (http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/09/15/1063478109311.html). - A study by a Melbourne researcher -- who is also a nurse and a communications consultant -- concluded that most health-oriented websites "failed to meet basic standards." Many are "commercially driven," the study found, and others are downright misleading. The study reviewed the top 100 sites returned by a Yahoo! search for breast cancer, diabetes and depression, and compared them to the Health On the Net Foundation's code of conduct. The biggest failing was the amount of unverified information found on 58 of the sites. Other issues: "user confidentiality, openness about sponsorship and, importantly, making sure that users treat the information as complementary to proper medical treatment, rather than replacing it." The study did find that there was plenty of good information out there, and that it is generally a good idea for people to have unfettered access to online health information. - SK

Suitt, Halley.  "A Blogger in Their MidstHarvard Business Review   81(9) (September 2003):  30-40. (http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/common/item_detail.jhtml?id=R0309A). - Interesting case study in the September issue of the Harvard Business Review, for those who have access either online or receive the dead tree edition. Executives at a fictitious medical supply company learn that one of their employees ("Glove Girl") is commenting on their products and relationships with customers in her own weblog, which has developed quite a following. Largely because of Glove Girl, there has been a significant upsruge in the demand for their surgical gloves. And yet, some of her comments are edgy and not particularly flattering to the company. The executives are unsure what to do about this "unofficial" non-sanctioned communications vehicle. Weighing in with suggestions: David Weinberger, Pamela Samuelson, Ray Ozzie, Erin Motameni (VP of human resources, EMC). The author of the case study, Halley Suitt, maintains her own weblog. - SK

Van de Sompel, Herbert.  "Developing New Protocols to Support and Connect Digital Libraries: An Interview with Herbert Van de SompelOCLC Newsletter   (261) (July 2003) (http://www5.oclc.org/downloads/design/e-newsletter/n261/interview.htm). - As the "father" of the OpenURL standard and a key moving force behind the Open Archives Initiative, Van de Sompel is clearly on of librarianship's leading lights. His ability to think imaginatively about library problems, and to create simple yet effective solutions is remarkable. Therefore, this interview is both interesting and likely to prove prophetic regarding new ways libraries will be able to interoperate (e.g., a SOAP version of the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting). His comments on RDF and the Semantic Web are particularly worthy of your attention. - RT


Current Cites - ISSN: 1060-2356
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