Current Cites

Current Cites, August 2005

Edited by Roy Tennant

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


Editor's Note: With this issue Current Cites celebrates 180 months of continuous free publication (15 years for readers who are math challenged). This all-volunteer operation began as an in-house publication at the UC Berkeley Library, created by the Library Technology Watch Program, now defunct. Current Cites took on a life of its own, however, and remains one of the few early free Internet-distributed publications still in existence. Thanks for sticking with us, since we have entirely too much fun doing it to want to stop. If you're curious about our early history (including what the first issue looked like), see our history page.


"Testing the Barriers to Digital Libraries: A Study Seeking Copyright Permission to Digitize Published Works"  New Library World  106(7)(2005): 332-342. - Interesting look at what it takes to get permission to digitize a printed work. Librarians at Carnegie Mellon took a random sampling of titles off the shelf, still under copyright, and then proceeded to ask publishers if they could digitize the material. About a quarter said yes. Academic and non-profit institutions were likelier to give their consent. Overall the authors list their results as "disappointing", emphasizing that such an exercise can be extremely complex and lengthy. On the plus side, the effort helped define "best candidates" and this in turn helped improve outcomes. - LRK

Aula, Ann, and Mika  Kaaki. "Less is More in Web Search Interfaces for Older AdultsFirst Monday  10(7)(4 July 2005)( http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_7/aula/). - The authors have been studying how older Web users face obstacles in using the Internet, and now they have designed an elderly-friendly search tool called Etsin. They conducted usability studies to compare their search tool with Google -- the search engine of choice for most casual Web users. They found that their own product was easier for the elderly to use than Google, mainly due to a very simple design interface. User experience is improved by decreasing the number of features to choose from, they argue, helping elderly searchers feel more in control of the online experience. Unsurprisingly, they further argue that consulting with elderly users (via focus groups, etc) is a critical step in interface design. Even though this seems an obvious requirement, there's an implication here that even now, designers can forget this crucial step. They also find that visual icons have higher value among the elderly as visual cues -- and that novice users benefit the most from an emphasis on iconography. - TH

Cohen, Laura B.. "Finding Scholarly Content on the Web: From Google Scholar to RSS Feeds"  Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries  42(Web IX)(September 2005): 7-17. - After a hiatus, Laura Cohen is back in the Choice special Web issue with another nicely organized overview of current web technology useful for academic research. Bombarded as we are with news of recent innovations, it is hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes, and this article takes the step back for you. In her discussion of search engines, concept clustering, scholarly content in the deep web, blogs and RSS feeds, she always does a thorough job of describing what behaviors to expect from the tools and what particular use they can be put to in an academic setting. Librarians in other types of libraries should read it, too - while the sample searches and subjects are appropriate for the intended readership, the knowledge to be gained about web technology is good for all. For further exploration, Cohen appends a complete list of sources cited. - JR

Crawford, Walt. "Investigating the BiblioblogosphereCites & Insights: Crawford at Large  5(10)(2005): 2-13. (http://cites.boisestate.edu/v5i10b.htm). - In this article, Crawford ranks top library Weblogs (blogs) on various criteria (see the Wikipedia entry for blogosphere to help decipher the article's title). Over 200 blogs were winnowed down to 60 finalists using a weighted "reach" formula that took into account Bloglines readership data and AlltheWeb, Google, and MSN "link:" search data (see the analysis spreadsheet). Blogs were then analyzed on a variety of criteria (e.g., starting date, frequency of posts, total and average length of posts, and number of comments) for specific periods in 2005 (see the expanded spreadsheet). Blogs were then grouped by "reach" into three groups. Needless to say, this study provoked considerable comment, especially by library bloggers (blogging is one of the most personal forms of publication and ego investment is likely to be high). One of the most interesting follow-up postings was "Library Blogs and Google PageRank" by Michael Lorenzen, whose analysis suggests a different rank order for library blogs, although some blogs, such as the ResearchBuzz, remained top blogs in the biblioblogosphere. - CB

Dueze, Mark. "Towards Professional Participatory Storytelling in Journalism and AdvertisingFirst Monday  10(7)(4 July 2005)(http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_7/deuze/). - Dueze surveys the potential of the Web -- the "graphic interface" of the Internet -- to change how stories are presented, perceived and can be modified. Media professionals in particular are faced with "fascinating opportunities as well as vexing dilemmas." The same might be said of the majority of us, as we face the Web, yet Dueze's analysis of the meaning of narrative, visual display of story, and the relationship between 'connectivity' and 'content' is insightful. It can be boiled down to the new ascendance of participation in the narrative experience, which blurs the line between community (or social interaction) and the Web as a pipeline or utility. The challenges of being distinctive in the new media are 'supercharging' the dialogue about how to use the Web, which has been an ongoing theme in all media professions' witness Jay Rosen, Dean of Journalism at NYU's remark on Blogs: "The system was, 'here's our news, take it or leave it;' now, sovereignty over the story is shifting." (New York Times, April 1, 2004, p. E3). Dueze presents the history of media, broadening the exploration with recent examples of hybrid forms of storytelling. He pulls theoretical analysis back to the real-world challenges facing media professionals, who now have to grapple with ideas like "co-creation" with customers, Blogs that rebut the press, etc. This is one of those articles where media analysis meets cultural studies, and the result is worth reading for anyone who manages digital media and conversations. - TH

Hands, Joss. "E-Deliberation and Local Governance: The Role of Computer Mediated Communication in Local Democratic Participation in the United KingdomFirst Monday  10(7)(4 July 2005)(http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_7/hands/). - Hands evaluates how local government Web sites in the United Kingdom are actually operating during a period when 'e-government' is being pushed more and more. The Web sites are designed to encourage and facilitate democratic deliberation, and are accumulating a great deal of information on how users view government Web sites. He poses the question, "To what end, and on whose terms, are citizens being encouraged to engage local government via computer-mediated communication?" To find out what the user traffic tells us, he examines 469 local government Web sites, reviewing the contextual evidence. He finds that while interaction is being encouraged, it remains limited and leans toward individualistic expressions rather than a communal dialogue where many people share common interests and discussion streams. - TH

Hill, Michael. "Libraries Offering Audiobook DownloadsAssociated Press (via Yahoo! News)  (26 August 2005)(http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/libraries_book_downloads). - I work in a military library and audio books are wildly popular with my customers, who are often on the move and lack the time to read dead.tree literature. And though we don't offer these yet at my library, what could be more convenient than downloadable audio books -- available for checkout 7/24/365? Basically, all the customer has to do is go to a library-specific website, browse the virtual stacks and download something that looks good. After three weeks or whatever standard loan period has been established, the downloaded files expire -- e.g., go dead and can no longer be played. The downloadable audio books space for libraries is dominated by OverDrive and OCLC's NetLibrary. People can listen to the books on their computers or on portable media players. One huge fly in the ointment is that these library download services are geared toward Windows users, meaning the files are not compatible with Apple's operating system or the iPod -- which holds the lion's share of the portable media player market. While iPod users can still listen to audio books purchased from Audible.com or the iTunes store, they will not be able to take advantage of the free service offered by their libraries -- although some libraries are buying and loaning out compatible media players to their customers. - SK

Hirschheim, Rudy. "The Internet-Based Education Bandwagon: Look Before You Leap"  Communications of the ACM  48(7)(July 2005): 97-101. - Fascinating questions are raised in this article about what exactly we're getting when we shift from a traditional classroom environment to web-based instruction. Are we providing a better product or are we merely tailoring it to fit the medium, and is that necessarily a good thing? The author warns against a "more standardized, minimalist product targeted for a mass market". He goes on, "the new delivery mode is pushing change, and universities must consider if they are happy with the direction being taken." The best outcome is "a judicious mixture of Internet and lecture content". - LRK

Marmion, Dan, Eric  Flower, and D. Scott  Brandt, et. al."Celebrating 25 Years of CIL Magazine"  Computers in Libraries  25(7)(July/August 2005): 10-15. - Trip down memory lane for a number of contributors to Computers in Libraries in celebration of the magazine's 25th anniversary. Originally called Small Computers in Libraries, the magazine happily shook off the "Small" bit in 1989. Included along with the reminiscences are a number of magazine covers down through the ages, demonstrating not only how far our technology has come but our graphic skills as well! Lovely. - LRK

Morrison, Heather. " Dramatic Growth of Open Access: Revised Update The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics  (20 August 2005)(http://poeticeconomics.blogspot.com/2005/08/dramatic-growth-of-open-access-revised.html). - This posting uses various metrics to estimate the growth of open access (OA) materials, such as Directory of Open Access Journals entries, OAIster records, the number of free back issues from Highwire Press, and the number of BioMedCentral titles. One of the most striking statistics is the dramatic increase in the number of OAIster records: there were 3.7 million records in November 2004 and 5.7 million records in August 2005. Two million metadata records for digital works added in nine months! Of course, that number excludes works that are not in OAI-PMH-compliant archives or repositories, such as personal Websites, so it is only a partial measure of self-archiving and other non-journal-publishing OA activities. OA journals listed in the DOAJ increased from about 1,400 in 2/05 to 1,683 in 8/05; the number of journals published by BioMedCentral jumped from about 100 to 139 in the same period. Clearly, OA is continuing to gain ground at an impressive clip, especially on the self-archiving side of the equation. - CB

Parker, Kimberly, and Daniel  Dollar. "E-Terminology: Why Do I Need to Know What You Mean?"  portal: Libraries and the Academy  5(3)(July 2005): 421-426. - When historians finally record this stage in our digital research culture, I do hope they go beyond such simplistic statements as, 'and then it all became available online'. The authors here point out how complicated and confusing access to subscription-based resources can be. "As digital resources librarians," they observe, "we live in a world of platforms, gateways, packages, and aggregations." Their proposed solution, developing "precisely defined terminology", sounds a bit iffy, but they rightly stress the need for librarians to help make sense of this mishmash, "distilling", as they put it, "the important aspects of these definitions for readers". - LRK

Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition. Sponsorships for Nonprofit Scholarly & Scientific Journals: A Guide to Defining & Negotiating Successful Sponsorships  Washington, DC: SPARC, July 2005.(http://www.arl.org/sparc/resources/Sponsorship_Guide.pdf). - SPARC has long tried to help libraries, universities, professional societies, and others open access to scholarly research and publication. From pieces like "Getting Your Journal Indexed" to this latest publication, SPARC has tried to advise and assist those starting open access journals and other types of open access publications. Sections of this 59-page PDF include Evaluating the Potential for Journal Sponsorships, Planning the Journal's Sponsorship Program, Negotiating Sponsorships, and Sources Cited & Further Reading. For someone new to creating a financially viable open access journal, publications like this are invaluable. - RT

Singer, David, and Sara Moulton  Reger. "The Many Facets of ComplexityIBM Think Research  (2005)(http://www.research.ibm.com/thinkresearch/pages/2004/20041130_think.shtml). - No one sets out to make a poorly designed website. One of the inevitable culprits often is unnecessary complexity. The Research Team at IBM looks at complexity from an organizational standpoint, identifying problems and offering possible solutions. Part of a much larger and generally excellent series of reports and articles on Systems Development from the good people at IBM. - LRK

Topping, Darren, and Geraint  Evans. "Public libraries in Belfast and the Troubles, 1969-1994"  Library Management  26(6)(2005): 373-385. - Most of us are familiar with the stresses and stains that normally face an urban library system but what about a system in the midst of a prolonged civil conflict? In Belfast, during the "Troubles", libraries were repeatedly damaged as a consequence (often indirect) of bombings, people were shot at, one library was fire-bombed. The "Troubles" affected service hours, staffing levels and even collection development. The article relates that librarians "had to walk an extremely cautious line in terms of remaining valid within the community and remaining neutral." Often this wasn't possible. - LRK