Current Cites

Current Cites, April 2005

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

Chen, Xiaotian. "Figures and Tables Omitted from Online Periodical Articles: A Comparison of Vendors and Information Missing from Full-Text Databases"  Internet Reference Services Quarterly  10(2)(April 2005): 77-90. - An online article may consist of a number of parts, the two most prominent being text and image(s). If we ignore formatting for a moment, we're clearly at a stage in our development where text poses far fewer problems either to capture, store or reproduce than do images. This being the case, what is the likelihood that database vendors will cut corners and dump the images? This is an important consideration because some of the article's informational value may reside in the images -- be they tables, charts or whatever. The author identified a number of articles from various print publications and then checked the accuracy of their representation in a number of "full-text" databases. What she found was that several commercial vendors tended to skip the images and that some even failed to indicate that there was anything missing at all. The author concludes, "it would be a big improvement if 'full-text' would actually mean all that is implied --the full article as originally published. To have anything less is misleading." - LRK

Chudnov, Daniel, Richard  Cameron, and Jeremy  Frumkin, et. al."Opening Up OpenURLs With AutodiscoveryAriadne  (43)(April 2005)(http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue43/chudnov/). - A revised and updated version of an unpublished piece cited in the December 2004 issue of Current Cites, this article describes a world in which OpenURLs could be used more openly for a variety of additional purposes beyond solving the classic "appropriate copy" problem. The authors identify a number of specific scenarios in which by simply placing OpenURL metadata in easily discoverable locations such as embedded in HTML pages, any number of simple "hacks" to support new services become possible. Once again we have an illustration of the power of simple solutions to foster innovation. - RT

Davis, Harold. Building Research Tools With Google for Dummies  Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Inc., 2005.(http://www.braintique.com/research/). - A review copy of this book showed up in the mail, and when I opened the package, I mentally rolled my eyes. "Dummies" books...hmmm... My customers love them, some of them really are excellent, but others...well, take "Sex for Dummies," for example. It's by "Dr. Ruth" and the title alone is kind of scary. What's even more frightening is the subsequent volume you may need, "Parenting for Dummies." But I digress. This particular book, Building Research Tools With Google for Dummies, is badly misnamed. Yeah, it does cover using the Google APIs to build your own applications -- something that most definitely is not for dummies -- but there is ever so much more information in here, a fair amount of which has nothing to do with Google. For example. there's an entire chapter on competitive intelligence. Another chapter, entitled "Researching Like a Pro," pays homage to the reference interview and actually explains "Why Google Is Not the Web." (This is something I try to explain to at least a couple of my customers every week.) Yet another chapter tells you how to package and deliver your research results. The author -- a technology consultant and programmer with a law degree (?!) -- does a good job of delving into the nuts and bolts of Google; while most information professionals know their way around Google's advanced features, this provides a refresher on some useful things you or I may have overlooked. The book also touches on my own two biggest web research caveats -- the need to use more than one search engine and the need to verify the information you find on the web. Google APIs -- I don't go there myself, but I will happily try clever things constructed by other people -- like some of the Ten Tools That Use the Google APIs included in this book. I kinda like this book and will keep it on the shelf next to my copy of Google Hacks, by Tara Calishain and Rael Dornfest. - SK

Gonzalez, Linda. "What is FRBR?NetConnect  (15 April 200)(http://libraryjournal.com/article/CA515803). - This brief and gentle introduction to some key concepts laid out in the IFLA-produced Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records paper should be read by any librarian wondering what all the "ferber" fuss is about. Scratch that. It should be read by any librarian period. It's time for us to admit our library catalogs are a mess from a user's perspective, and FRBR can provide at least a partial solution to the problems we face in fixing our systems. Therefore, knowledge of the basic concepts that are already beginning to transform our bibliographic systems should be considered basic, foundational, professional knowledge. So start here, if you must, but then feel free to follow up with the full report. - RT

Hammond, Tony, Timo  Hannay, and Ben  Lund, et. al."Social Bookmarking Tools (I)D-Lib Magazine  11(4)(April 2005)(http://dlib.org/dlib/april05/hammond/04hammond.html). - Virtually since the advent of the World Wide Web in the early 90s, users of it have been struggling with bookmarks. Sure, it's easy to bookmark a web site, but it doesn't take long before an undifferentiated list becames unwieldy. Meanwhile, this initial problem has grown up into a suite of solutions and opportunities best described as link management and social bookmarking, while a number of new tools, techniques and services have created entirely new methods of interaction. This useful overview article, as well as a companion case study of Connotea can serve as useful background for a more visionary piece by Chudnov, et.al. also cited in this issue. - RT

Hickey, Thomas B.. "Experiments with a Small SupercomputerOCLC Newsletter  (267)(January-March 2005)(http://www.oclc.org/news/publications/newsletters/oclc/2005/267/research.htm). - As I reported in a recent Library Journal column, OCLC Research has been experimenting with using a cluster of off-the-shelf computer hardware to create a supercomputer. This brief but intriguing piece provides additional background, as well as context for OCLC's experiments with this method of speeding up both batch and online processing. As a tie-in to another piece cited in this issue, this cluster is being used to perform much of OCLC's FRBR work. Hickey once again proves that OCLC Research rocks, and that we can expect some interesting and exciting times ahead. - RT

Hirtle, Peter. "Adopting 'Orphan Works'RLG DigiNews  9(2)(15 April 2005)(http://www.rlg.org/en/page.php?Page_ID=20571#article3). - This brief but informative piece should be required reading for anyone interested in copyright and intellectual property issues. The issue of works under copyright for which the copyright owner cannot be located (dubbed "orphan" works) can substantially impact the ability of libraries and others to use the work in effective ways. For example, as identified in formal comments submitted to the Copyright Office by organizations such as the UC San Diego Libraries and the Cornell University Library, the inability to locate a copyright holder can prevent libraries from digitizing materials -- even when doing so is unlikely to result in any harm to the copyright holder (orphan works are most likely in this state due to the inability of the copyright holders to make any money from them). As Hirtle reports in his usual well-articulated style, the Copyright Office investigation of this issue is ongoing and those who wish to comment still have an opportunity to influence the outcome. - RT

Horowitz, Lisa R., Patricia A.  Flanagan, and Deborah L.  Helman. "The Viability of Live Online Reference: An Assessment"  portal: Libraries in the Academy  5(2)(April 2005): 239-258. - This is an interesting article about Chat reference at MIT. It's interesting not because it's about "how we done good" but because it's about "how we done bad". After a year and a half of existence, the initial attempt at Chat Reference at MIT came to an end. Basically the usage was too low to justify the time and training involved, particularly when compared to alternatives like Email Reference and traditional walk-ins. Nevertheless, you get the feeling while reading the article that had they handled the service a bit differently, things might have turned out better. Of particular value is their analysis of the software they were using (LSSI). The Web Team at MIT has already racked up considerable experience in usability thanks to a site-redesign running at the same time. Their analysis of the Chat-software is something all initiatives of this type should take to heart: "user interface guidelines used by the most popular chat software packages should be referenced to help choose an interface that would be most helpful of the user." The closer we get to the kind of "chat" our users are used to using, the easier it'll be both for ourselves and for them. - LRK

Jeon-Slaughter, Haekyung, Herkovic  Andrew C., and Keller  Michael A.. "Economics of Scientific and Biomedical Journals: Where Do Scholars Stand in the Debate of Online Journal Pricing and Site License Ownership Between Libraries and Publishers?First Monday  10(3)(7 March 2005)(http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_3/jeon/). - The authors evaluate the "big picture" of e-journal usage and licensure, taking into consideration the roles not only of libraries, but also of authors, users and publishers. These participants in the knowledge creation and consumption process have complex and vibrant with relationships with each other, and the balance of power between them is in flux. The authors argue that the importance of scholars' behavior in the pricing of scientific journals has been overlooked in the debate between libraries and publishers, particularly regarding site license practices. They cite a Stanford survey that indicates that rapidly increasing costs are the main reason for individual subscription cancellation, causing users to use the library more heavily. Consequently, libraries continue to be vital providers in the electronic era and their role in the evolution of scholarly communication will grow. The driving forces behind this growth are effective "branding" of the library and very strong and durable relationships with users. Indeed, libraries have taken a role of "agency" on behalf of users, and users are increasingly aware of this. On the other side of the marketplace, publishers must find new strategies for building better relationships with individual users. They conclude by asserting that a cooperative spirit among the three sectors (libraries, publishers, users) holds the greatest hope for an optimized digital future. - TH

Klang, Mathias. "Free Software and Open Source: The Freedom Debate and its ConsequencesFirst Monday  10(3)(7 March 2005)(http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_3/klang/). - The Swedish author of this article published it in response to a lively online course that was held at the University of Göteborg on the topics of freeware and open access. He makes the timely point that to the average net citizen, the ethics of software and the meaning of open access are not really on the radar screen -- something that's easy for librarians and other superusers to lose track of. Experts, he argues, grasp the ethics and make informed choices, while casual users see freeware and vendor products as s both the online world and by extension the marketplace. He goes on to evaluate the characteristics of each group, and how their choices influence both the online world and by extension the software marketplace. His goal is not so much to offer solutions or strategic suggestions as it is to simply define the cognitive differences between the two cohorts of users. - TH

Molnar, David, and David  Wagner. "Privacy and Security in Library RFID: Issues, Practices and Architecture"  Proceedings of the 11th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security  (October 2004) - When a library adopts radio frequency ID tags for inventory control, it can become a hot button issue for the library's community. Many have heard of large retail chains which use RFID tags to compile data on consumer behavior, and of course it's become common (and warranted) to be on the alert for threats to the confidentiality of library patron records, so a level of paranoia may arise. This ACM conference paper carefully examines what threats to privacy there may be in RFID implementation for libraries, and proposes a solution to the insecure transmission of data between tag and reader. The first half sets out what is currently known about RFID tag technology, production and use, and which security problems exist. Scenarios are described in which an eavesdropper who doesn't have access to the patron files may yet, through consistent multiple efforts, track the movements of particular books which may be on a hotlist of titles to be monitored. The second half of the paper is more technical, and sets out a private authentication scheme which keeps tag and reader password transmission secret. In their conclusions, the authors make a recommendation which is simple enough to be restated here: libraries which use RFID systems in their current state should encode the very minimum of information in the tag, ideally just the item's barcode. - JR

Ober, John L.. Postprint Repository Services: Context and Feasibility at the University of California  Oakland, CA: California Digital Library, University of California, 31 March 2005.(http://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/responses/materials/UC_postprintstudy_final.pdf). - The California Digital Library (part of the University of California) recently established the Office of Scholarly Communications. But even before this event, the CDL had been working with faculty to try to change the scholarly communications paradigm. This publication is therefore merely the latest salvo in CDL's work to change how UC faculty publish and receive recognition for, and increased use of, their publications. Supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, this brief publication reports on research on six issues: 1) potential postprint volume (postprints being copies of published articles deposited in an institutional repository), 2) postprint service cost, 3) UC participation in non-UC repositories, 4) personal and departmental postprints, 5) open access journal publishing, and 6) copyright attitudes and behavior. The report recommends seven actions that the University of California should take based on the findings. - RT

Suber, Peter. "Getting to 100%SPARC Open Access Newsletter  (84)(2005)(http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/04-02-05.htm#100). - In this article, Suber considers the obstacles that slow the continued growth of open access journals and self archiving, and he provides "a short progress report on where we stand in removing them." First, there are disciplinary differences that affect OA journal economics and other key factors. One major difference is the level of research funding that the disciplines have: less funding, more difficulty in paying author fees. This can be overcome by universities paying membership fees to OA publishers that eliminate or reduce direct fee payment by authors; however, their willingness to do so is likely tied to an assessment of how membership costs stack up against traditional subscription costs. A widely heralded study by Cornell seemed to sink hopes that OA journals would be cheaper, but this study was found to have made questionable assumptions. Second, there are diverse OA journal business models, and the models of journals that do not use author fees are poorly understood (according to a recent study only 47% of OA journals have processing fees). On the other hand, self archiving faces two major problems: scholars need disciplinary archives or institutional repositories (IRs) to deposit articles in and, given how busy they are, they need to find the time to do so. (I would add that they need to be convinced to do so as well.) Progress is being made in automatic metadata generation upon deposit, and a recent study suggests that an active scholar may spend as little as 40 minutes per year self archiving. Universities should establish IRs, but what should scholars without access to disciplinary archives or IRs do in the meantime? Here's the big news: Suber is working with the Internet Archive to establish "an OAI-compliant 'universal repository' that will accept eprints from any scholar in any discipline." - CB