Current Cites

Current Cites, October 2006

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Shirl Kennedy, Roy Tennant

Access Conference 2006 Presentations  Ottawa: University of Ottawa, October 2006.( - The place to find out about the latest in library technology is the Canadian Access Conference. Always a good time, it has recently been discovered by library technologists south of the border to be a don't miss event. Thus it is a fruitful and interesting cross-fertilization between the latest developments in Canada and the U.S., as well as Europe and points more distant. This year was no different, and the presentations and podcasts available here are testimony to the fact. Representative titles include "Library Chatbots in Electronic Reference" (a definite hit, you really must see Stella in action) and "Faceted Search with Solr". So don't expect simple explanations of basic technologies, expect to find out about cutting edge projects and the latest tools and technologies. - RT

Beyond the OPAC: Future Directions for Web-Based Catalogues  Canberra: Australian Committee on Cataloging, 18 September 2006.( - There is rightfully a great deal of anguish and hand-wringing over the state of our library catalogs, and this set of papers, presentations, and podcasts are a prime example. Take, for example, the no-holds-barred talk entitled "OPACs and the real information marketplace : why providing a mediocre product at a high price no longer works" by Lloyd Sokvitne. But the focus is also on potential solutions, with presentations on Resource Description and Access (RDA) and Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Retrieval (FRBR). - RT

"25 Terrifying Information Technology Horror StoriesCIO  (31 October 2006)( - "Not for the squeamish," we are warned, but you can learn something here from the misfortunes (and, sometimes, the heroism) of others. ERP nighmares at universities, data breachesm scary outdated federal systems, hurricanes, power outages, terrorism, government regulation compliance... All in all, a good seasonal read for those of us who nursemaid technology on a daily basis. - SK

Antelman, Kristin, Emily  Lynema, and Andrew K.  Pace. "Toward a Twenty-First Century Library CatalogInformation Technology and Libraries  25(3)(September 2006): 128-139. ( - The North Carolina State University Library made a splash in the library world by extracting all the data from their library catalog and using software from Endeca to provide an entirely new kind of library catalog. This article outlines what they did and how they did it, reports on usability testing of their Endeca-based system and their legacy system in head-to-head tests, and outlines future directions. This is just the kind of gutsy leadership we need to demonstrate that there is an alternative to the classic dysfunctional relationship between library catalog vendors and libraries. - RT

Bailey, Charles W., Jr.. "Strong Copyright + DRM + Weak Net Neutrality = Digital Dystopia?Information Technology and Libraries  25(3)(September 2006): 116-127. ( - Our very own Charles Bailey, Jr. addresses the confluence of a few related trends that threaten the very nature of the Internet. Stronger and longer U.S. copyright law has locked up more intellectual property than ever before. Coupled with better digital rights management (DRM) techniques, those who purchase content can do less and less with it. The potential loss of "net neutrality" (where the network is equal to all) and the potential rise of net "haves" and "have nots" in addition to the trends noted above would indeed seem to point to a dystopian future for the Internet. Bailey also makes note of ways in which some are fighting back, discusses the particular impact of these issues on libraries, and concludes with a call for those who believe that the Internet has enabled "an extraordinary explosion of innovation, creativity, and information dissemination" or potentially see the Internet ironically come to resemble the pre-Internet online services of the past. - RT

Carnevale, Dan. "E-Mail Is for Old PeopleThe Chronicle of Higher Education  (6 October 2006): A27. ( - OMG, old people still use e-mail! Not teens. According to this article: "A 2005 report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project called 'Teens and Technology' found that teenagers preferred new technology, like instant messaging or text messaging, for talking to friends and use e-mail to communicate with 'old people.' Along the same lines, students interviewed for this article say they still depend on e-mail to communicate with their professors. But many of the students say they would rather send text messages to friends, to reach them wherever they are, than send e-mail messages that might not be seen until hours later." Chat, Facebook, MySpace, podcasts, RSS feeds, and vodcasts are also popular ways to reach the younger crowd, and colleges and universities are trying to adopt to changing communication preferences. - CB

Entlich, Richard, and Ellie  Buckley. "Digging Up Bits of the Past: Hands-on With ObsolescenceRLG DigiNews  10(5)(15 October 2006)( - This is the fascinating tale of the File Format and Media Migration Pilot Service (FFMM) at the Cornell University Library, complete with macabre tales of bringing data back from the dead (and oh so appropriate for this Halloween issue of Current Cites). The service offered to recover data from obsolete storage media and file formats for the Cornell University community, and their experiences are both disturbing and insightful. Their case studies of rescuing data from the clutches of ancient operating systems, applications, and storage media are a cautionary tale for anyone responsible for information in digital form. The last time I checked, that was darn near all of us, whether we have digital content in library collections or on our own personal floppy disks. - RT

Maich, Steve. "Pornography, gambling, lies, theft and terrorism: The Internet sucksMacleans  (30 October 2006)( - I'm not sure whether this article was intended to be ironic or not. I'm sure there are people who feel this way. It certainly does go on, and it includes a number of...rather sweeping and/or eccentric statements, which all revolve around the main idea -- "Let's put this in terms crude enough for all cyber-dwellers to grasp. The Internet sucks." And so, by extension, do those of us who use it and find value in it. Some of the pronouncements here are just plain weird, and if you don't want to waste the time reading it yourself, I'm providing some excerpts:

- SK

Suber, Peter. "Open Access and QualitySPARC Open Access Newsletter  (102)(2006)( - Are online open access journals of lower quality than "toll-access" journals? Peter Suber methodically examines this question, mustering and refuting the arguments that support the notion that OA journals are inferior to TA journals. Along the way, the reader learns interesting facts, such as "the Kaufman-Wills report showed that more subscription journals charge author-side fees than OA journals." In his conclusion, he notes: "If the same squeamishness about online dissemination had infected print dissemination in the age of Gutenberg, on the ground that real scholarship was inscribed by hand on goatskin, then every kind of knowledge would have been held back." - CB