Current Cites

Current Cites, March 2005

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community  18(1)(2005) - This issue of Serials has a number of interesting papers on open access. In "A Mandate to Self Archive? The Role of Open Access Institutional Repositories," Stephen Pinfield, tackles the controversial issue of mandating the deposit of articles in institutional repositories. In "Open Access: Evidence-Based Policy or Policy-Based Evidence? The University Press Perspective," Martin Richardson describes experiments at Oxford University Press with different OA journal publishing models. In "Open Access: Principle, Practice, Progress," Jan Velterop argues that the open access battle for hearts and minds is gaining ground, but implementation issues remain and misconceptions about OA persist. In "Open Access: Reflections from the United States," Ann Okerson weighs the pros and cons of OA for US research libraries, noting that institutional repositories are likely to be expensive, and their focus in the U.S. is likely to be on locally produced scholarly materials other than articles. Consequently: "It is unlikely that under this kind of scenario in the US, scattered local versions of STM articles would compete effectively with the completeness or the value that the publishing community adds." She also suggests that library cost savings resulting from OA journals are "unlikely, unless substantial production cost reductions can be realised by many categories of publisher." In "Open Access to the Medical Literature: How Much Content Is Available in Published Journals?," Marie E. McVeigh and James K. Pringle report that for the research and clinical medicine journals that they studied "26% of the journals made their most recent issues open access, and 21% of articles since 1992 were available as open access." In "Overview of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry into Scientific Publications," Ian Gibson discusses the important activities of the Select Committee that he chaired. Finally, in "Scientific Publications: Free for All? The Academic Library Viewpoint," Tom Graham examines the key findings of the Select Committee's influential report and criticizes the U.K. Government's response to it. - CB

Associated Press.  "Next Hot Trend for Cell Phones: Reading?MSNBC.com  (18 March 2005)(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7232995/). - "Your eyes probably hurt just thinking about it," this article begins, and...yep. Nevertheless thousands of Japanese folks are downloading and reading full-text novels on their cell phone screens. Of course, the average Japanese consumer is a sophisticated user of wireless technology anyhow; the cell phone there is routinely used as both "an entertainment and communication device." And now there are a number of websites where folks can browse and select from among classics, bestsellers and "works written especially for the medium." Quite honestly, it does not sound very enjoyable. "Only a few lines pop up at a time because the phone screen is about half the size of a business card." The latest technology is Java-based and incorporates such ease-of-use features as "automatic page-flipping, or scrolling." According to the article, this trend could spread to the U.S., noting that "Random House recently bought a stake in VOCEL, a San Diego-based company that provides such mobile-phone products as Scholastic Aptitude Test preparation programs." Consumers in China and South Korea hava already begun to embrace cell phone reading. What's weird is that people are using this medium even when not on the go; a recent marketing study found that 50 percent of cell phone readers are female, and many are doing their cell phone reading in the home. What sorts of books are people reading on their cell phones? Classics they never got around to, sex manuals they'd be embarrassed to buy in the dead.tree version...but the most popular content is an electronic dictionary. - SK

Babb, Nancy M.  "Cataloging Spirits and the Spirit of Cataloging"  Cataloging & Classification Quarterly  40(2)(2005) - Here's the problem: take any spiritual communication in published form. You have the medium who physically delivers the message and the originating spirit who generated the message. Who should get credit? If you're a cataloger, you'll know that this is no idle question since the work has to be attributed to someone. The author of this article, Nancy M. Babb, a cataloger at SUNY Buffalo, stresses that giving credit to the spirit illustrates the advance in cataloging over the centuries in that a "bibliographic" entity is preferred over a "biographical" one. Such considerations are "exemplar of complex authorship", Babb argues. They illustrate a more "inclusive and expansive concept" of authorship; one that is centered on "what will be of most value to catalog users". Babb in this breathless review of cataloging history confirms what many of us have long suspected, namely, that "an author need not physically exist to have recognized bibliographic identity within the library catalog." - LRK

Bailey, Jr., Charles W.  Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals  Mountain View, CA: Association of Research Libraries, March 2005.(http://info.lib.uh.edu/cwb/oab.pdf). - Long-time Current Cites contributor Charles W. Bailey, Jr. has published a bibliography on the movement to free the scholarly literature. Available both online and in print from the Association of Research Libraries, this thorough and authoritative bibliography will serve as the seminal bibliographic source for this movement. Over 1,300 selected English language books, conference papers, journal articles and a number of other sources (including digital videos) are included. Anyone interested in the Open Access movement will likely find this contribution to the effort to be an instant classic. - RT

Fescemyer, Kathy. "Serials Clutter in Online Catalogs"  Serials Review  31(1)(March 2005): 14-19. - Dealing with serials records in the OPAC can be confusing even to librarians. It isn't always apparent what record is the microfilm and what record is the electronic version. The author looked at how easy it was to find a number of titles in nine large academic libraries. Next she measured the physical length of the records she found. In many cases, it was difficult to find the right record when using titles such as "Science" or "Nature". Many of the records contained holdings information that ran to several hundred lines. The author argues for simpler records with one bibliographic record per journal regardless of format. She also points to the need to prioritize information making less information the default setting. Someone looking for a call number ought not to have to trudge though a sea of volume and issue listings. Of course, this is as much an OPAC-Vendor problem as a library problem. Doing what the author suggests (i.e. making a simpler interface for serials) can only be achieved in certain OPACs (if at all) through considerable customization. It ought not to be so hard! - LRK

Mao, Ji-Ye, Karel  Vredenburg, and Paul W.  Smith, et. al."State of User-Centered Design Practice"  Communications of the ACM  48(3)(March 2005): 105-109. - Some interesting results from a survey of people involved with User-Centered Design (UCD). The authors suggest that UCD is meeting with growing acceptance as a necessary component of software development. This is thanks to the realization on the part of developers that if users can't use their software, they'll go elsewhere. Nevertheless, UCD continues to be plagued by difficulties in measuring success and establishing clear goals. Some of the more common techniques used are "iterative design, usability evaluation, task analysis, informal expert review, and field studies". The authors found that techniques tended to be either used or avoided due to the perceived cost in time and money. They argue for a more complete approach. (Note, CACM also has an interesting section on the "Disappearing Computer" -- featuring interesting projects that make use of ubiquitous computing). - LRK

Mendoza, Martha. "AP Review: Gov't Reducing Access to InfoGuardian Unlimited  (13 March 2005)(http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4862137,00.html). - In a piece that will likely suprise few librarians, an Associated Press review has documented a major clampdown on the release of government information to the American public. "The federal government - not including the CIA - created 14 million new classified documents in fiscal year 2003, a 60 percent increase over 2001, according to the Information Security Oversight Office. At the same time, the agency reports that it cut back on the number of documents that were declassified" the article states. The Associated Press documents a number of other findings from its review that anyone interested in government by the people, for the people, will find chilling. - RT

Olsen, Stefanie. "Yahoo's Game of Photo TagCNet News.com  (22 March 2005)(http://news.com.com/2102-1032_3-5630403.html?tag=st.util.print). - A number of web sites such as the photo sharing site Flickr and the link sharing site Del.icio.us hav e provided a way for users to attach their own topics (or "tags") to their links and photos. This activity inspired Thomas Vander Wal to coin the term "folksonomies" for user-created taxonomies. The purchase of Flickr by Yahoo! has provided even more attention to this phenomenon, highighted in this article. Although this is one of the hottest new topics in the press at the moment, the jury is still out on just how effective this technique will be in making things easier to find. As quoted in the article, information architect Peter Merholtz thinks that "the future of folksnomies involves meshing these user-generated categorizations with more standardized categorizations, such as the Library of Congress or the Getty Thesaurus of place names, so you could start to connect data to allow more of these associations to be made." - RT

Rossman, Parker. "Beyond the Book: Electronic Textbooks Will Bring Worldwide Learning"  The Futurist  39(1)(January-February 2005): 18-23. - Gee whiz! And you'll eat your dinner in a tasty little pill ... when you need a break from soldering the wiring of our utopian days to come, take a look at this. It's worth it because it's the kind of writing that creates unrealistic expectations and causes purse string-holding politicians to salivate over the spending cuts of the world of tomorrow. It's part Futuramaesque boosterism (I'll admit to a pang of nostalgia for the Disney shows of my childhood), part mid-90's Wired magazine wipe-the-slate-clean prognosticating (without the fuchsia and lime green) and part laundry list of the kinds of educational technology which divert students' attention from the content to the medium. You'll notice that "academic rigor" isn't an ingredient in this recipe, but it is meant for a general audience. Granted that this mix of fact and imagination does give some plausible examples of how some of the poor or handicapped might benefit from digital information, but it does a disservice to the teachers who struggle daily with aging infrastructure, shrinking resources and students who want to hear that books are obsolete. But I forgot - that's not a futurist's job. - JR