ISSN: 1060-2356 - http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CurrentCites/2004/cc04.15.11.html
Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Terry Huwe, Shirl Kennedy, Leo Robert Klein, Jim Ronningen, Roy Tennant
OCLC Top 1000 Dublin, OH: OCLC, November 2004. (http://www.oclc.org/research/top1000/). - This web site isn't the usual thing you see reviewed here in Current Cites, but neither is it hard to justify highlighting it. OCLC Research staff plumbed the depths of the largest bibliographic database in the world and discovered the 1,000 most widely held books among member libraries. Be careful, though, the site is interesting enough to keep you glued to your computer screen for more time than you likely have to spare. The U.S. focus is clear, with the 2000 U.S. Census topping the list by far -- beating out the Holy Bible by a substantial margin. But close on the heels of those come such works as Mother Goose (#3), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (#7). and Garfield (yes, Garfield, at #18). But don't stop at surveying the list for your personal favorites, be sure to visit the About page that describes how they used the principles of FRBR to create the list, the Factoids page with a bunch of interesting facts about the list, and the Lagniappes page for a couple unexpected gifts. Rock on, OCLC! - RT
Ayers, Edward L.. "The Academic Culture & the IT Culture: Their Effect on Teaching and Scholarship" Educause Review 39(5) (November/December 2004): 48-62. - A reflective and sometime humorous assessment of the degree to which information technology has been adopted by academics: not much. The author, Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia and a professor of history there, bases his comments upon what he's observed personally, and he contrasts concisely the cultural differences between academe and IT. He reminds those of us fascinated by information media that most faculty regard it as extraneous to their own work, and will embrace it only to the degree that it facilitates (as effortlessly and transparently as possible) their primary research. And once their writing is ready for publication, few are interested in exploiting the possibilities of networks to disseminate their scholarship, though Ayers sees a gradual change there. He describes the development of his own web-enhanced presentation of his Civil War scholarship, and his satisfacation at being able to present digital versions of the primary source documents which would normally be inaccessible to his readers. After giving that concrete example of what could be achieved on a larger scale, Ayers concludes unsurprisingly with a call for increased dialogues between the two cultures. - JR
Carnevale, Dan. "Don't Judge a College by Its Internet Address" Chronicle of Higher Education 51(14) (26 November 2004): A29. (http://chronicle.com/free/v51/i14/14a02901.htm). - True or false: If a college or university has an Internet address that ends in .edu, it must be a bona fide, accredited institution of higher learning. Uh, not actually...and potential students could well be suckered into signing on with a diploma mill, since a startling number of unaccredited institutions have found virtual homes in the .edu domain. Educause, overseen by the U.S. Department of Education, is the administrator for the .edu domain. But at the top of the food chain is the U.S. Department of Commerce, which makes the rules as to who can get a .edu address. Part of the problem is that many of these unaccredited entities were given .edu addresses by Network Solutions, the domain registration company that assigned the addresses before Educause took over. Educause maintains it "would be too costly and difficult" to track down and revoke the .edu registrations of these unaccredited institutions. Also, accreditation itself is fluid -- an institution could easily lose its accreditation...or vice versa. At any rate, the director of policy and networking programs says Educause "does not have the authority to take away .edu addresses from institutions that were granted them before Educause took over, even if the institutions lose their accreditation or change their names." Many college officials say that since so many unaccredited institutions have .edu addresses, more effort should be made to educate the public about how to determine the accreditation status of a particular institution. The State of Oregon Office of Degree Authorization keeps a comprehensive list of unaccredited institutions, as does the State of Michigan (pdf). - SK
David, Shay. "Opening the Sources of Accountability" First Monday 9(11) (1 November 2004) (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_11/david/). - David takes a hard look at "FLOSS" (Free/Libre Open Source Systems) from the perspective of accountability. He argues that increasing accountability improves the value of FLOSS to society -- in essence, by their works ye shall know them. He goes on to say that open source computing has already fostered a collaborative culture that has brought some results, but the journey has just begun. Accountability in a digital society has taken on a life of its own, he argues, and he analyzes the open environment of FLOSS to find hidden meanings. Electronic voting and digital medical records are two excellent tests of his thesis, as correct and reliable information is critical for success in each case, yet trust is in short supply if recent history is any guide. He argues that code "visibility" -- a self-imposed standard of care and sensible licensing arrangements -- is a potential alternative to the liability remedies that some scholars offer as the safest bet. If developers can craft "sensible licensing agreements" and accommodate collaborative activity through social versus legal mechanisms, there is a reasonable hope that the barriers to accountability will diminish. He adds that developers should begin to think of ways to build a framework for moral and ethical deliberations to guide open source design, too. - TH
Fister, Barbara, and Niko Pfund. "We're Not Dead Yet! " Library Journal (15 November 2004) (http://libraryjournal.com/article/CA479162). - This is actually two pieces -- one by a librarian and another by a university press publisher. The librarian's tongue-in-cheek piece highlights the fact that libraries have been raiding their book funds to pay for increasingly expensive journals, thereby potentially harming the viability of university presses. Library purchases can be a significant percentage of the potential sales of university press books, so the recent decline in monographic purchasing can have a devastating impact on their bottom line. The publisher's piece is less playful but no less thought-provoking. - RT
Hernandez, Javier C.. "Google Offers Journal Searches" The Harvard Crimson (23 November 2004) (http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=504709). - Big, big news in both the search engine and academic library worlds this month. Google launched a new beta called Google Scholar, which "enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research." The buzz among information professionals, as well as the media, has been loud and raucous. One main issue -- If the average user thinks he or she is going to get free access to a wealth of full-text articles from academic journals, he or she is in for a rude awakening. Many of the results are citations, or citations and abstracts only. The searcher will have to pay to obtain the full article. Alternately, he or she could inquire at a public, special or academic library where affiliation permits full access to to a set of proprietary online databases, and obtain the information being sought for free. Cheryl M. LaGuardia, head of instructional services for Harvard College libraries, notes in this article that Google Scholar seems to do a better job with science searches than humanities-related queriest. She said she is looking forward to engaging CrossRef's technology "to blend the ease of Google with existing library systems." - SK
Novotny, Eric. "I Don't Think I Click: A Protocol Analysis Study of Use of a Library Online Catalog in the Internet Age. " College and Research Libraries 65(6) (November 2004): 525-563. - There's something magical about interface design. The research done to determine user behavior that leads to design decisions is positively fascinating. This time round we have a group at Penn State testing the proficiency of users on their brand new OPAC. The users were divided into two groups, "experienced" and "first-time". Results confirm other studies in this area, namely, that when confronting an OPAC, users both experienced and not, assume they're in front of something similar to Google. They go for keywords by default, expect results ranked by relevancy (as opposed to chronology), make no use of Boolean Operators, have no idea of what information is actually indexed, and lack the curiosity or time to "learn the system". "We can either abandon this population," the author stresses, "or design systems that do not require expert knowledge to be used effectively." - LRK
Sosteric, Michael. "The International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication--An Idea Whose Time Has Come (Finally!)" Learned Publishing 17(4) (2004): 319-325. - In this article, Sosteric, founder of the International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication (as well as of the Electronic Journal of Sociology), describes how this not-for-profit organization fosters the publication of scholarly e-journals with low production and operation costs. How low? How about as low as $3,000 for a new quarterly journal that's up in less than a month? But even with this cost structure, the ICAAP faces challenges since it "targets low-circulation and niche journals that cannot survive in an environment where first-tier journals suck all the finances from general library subscriptions." Scholars who want to publish these journals may have difficulty paying the ICAAP's modest fees without external support. In Canada, social science and humanities journals can receive up to CAD$90,000 over three years from a special funding program; however, the gotcha is that, to qualify, journals must have at least 200 paid subscribers, and, in the small Canadian market, publishers are afraid that switching from print to electronic might cause a subscription drop below this level. One can't help but wonder what could be accomplished with relatively modest subsidies from some other source, perhaps combined with the idea of open access. - CB
Thomas, Charles F. "Memory institutions as digital publishers: a case study on standards and interoperability" OCLC Systems & Services 20(3) (2004): 134-139. - Everyone loves standards. Who doesn't? Oftentimes however, they're presented as a sort of one-dimensional cure-all for all that ails us. The author of this article suggests a far more complicated picture. First there isn't only one set of standards but a proliferation, and the individual standards themselves aren't necessarily set in stone but are continually evolving. That's the reality. The author proposes a number of considerations, given this, so that we can make the "right standards choices". He even sees room, once core standards have been identified, for local innovations. - LRK
van der Kuil, Annemiek, and Martin Feijen. "The Dawning of the Dutch Network of Digital Academic REpositories (DARE): A Shared Experience" Ariadne (41) (2004) (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue41/vanderkuil/). - Funded by a government grant, the SURF Programme Digital Academic Repositories (DARE) is establishing institutional repositories at Dutch universities and harvesting metadata from them using the OAI-PMH protocol to create a demonstrator portal called DAREnet. Participating universities are utilizing diverse software, including ARNO, DSpace, i-Tor, and proprietary software. The project uses Dublin Core metadata (version 1.0). The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library) will preserve data from the participating institutional repositories. The project has dealt with a variety of issues, such as how can digital objects (vs. metadata) be harvested, what should the dc:identifier link to (e.g., the digital object or the repository record for the object), how should objects be identified (OpenURL, the CNRI handle, or DOI), and other issues. - CB
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Last update October 29, 2004.