Current Cites

Current Cites, August 2006

Edited by Roy Tennant

http://lists.webjunction.org/currentcites/2006/cc06.17.8.html

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


2006 August RLG Members Forum: More, Better, Faster, Cheaper  Mountain View, CA: Research Libraries Group, August 2006.(http://www.rlg.org/en/page.php?Page_ID=20968). - This two-day forum was organized around the focus of "How does one develop practical, effective, descriptive practices that consider audience, economy, and functionality, and strike the right balance among the three?" At this web site are a mix of MP3s of the talks, PowerPoint slides, and other materials -- mostly in Adobe Acrobat format. A couple of the topics covered include folksonomies and the future of MARC. Those interesting in metadata issues (both MARC and beyond -- way beyond) will be most delighted with this collection of presentations, but there are useful presentations on other topics as well. Highly recommended, especially since the provision of MP3s provides a richer interaction than just the slides and handouts alone. - RT

Bertot, John Carlo, Paul T.  Jaeger, and Lesley A.  Langa, et. al."Drafted: I Want You to Deliver E-GovernmentLibrary Journal  (15 August 2006)(http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6359866.html). - This article touched more than a couple of my personal hot buttons -- the main one being that public libraries are being more or less forced into providing more and more services at the same time financial support for public institutions of all types is on the wane. Federal, state and even local governments are putting more and more of their information and services online. Citizens without home computers and/or Internet access have few places to turn. One of these places is the local public library which -- as the article points out -- is "often the only place for public Internet access with trained staff." How many of us can honestly say we work in libraries where staffing is adequate? The powers-that-be seem to be just fine with adding yet more computers...but adding sufficient staff to maintain them and/or help customers use them is another issue entirely. The problem is obvious. Among other scenarios, this article describes how, earlier this year, senior citizens signing up for the Medicare prescription drug plan "were encouraged to seek information and register online." As a result, public library staffers not only had to assist these folks in using the Internet, but they also had to become familiar with the ins and outs of this particular government program. Hurricane Katrina, in the areas affected, resulted in an influx of people who needed to use library computers to register for FEMA benefits. I've tried to help several people in my library sign up for federal financial aid for college online...or file their income taxes. Privacy issues aside, this stuff is time-consuming...and while I am tied up extensively with one customer, several others are being inconvenienced. Those who control the purse strings need to realize that putting more computers in more public libraries is only part of the e-government iniative. There also must be enough trained library staffers to support this iniative. - SK

Bowers, Stacey L. "Privacy and Library Records"  Journal of Academic Librarianship  32(4)(July 2006): 377-383. - Good overview of privacy in libraries in urgent need of a short update. The author covers a lot of ground beginning with specific federal protections (there are none) to examples of state law. The author also discusses the FISA Act as well as the Patriot Act, though the information precedes the revelations of one and the revision of the other. The author concludes with the following words of advice from the 1988 New York Library Association guidelines that "the best protection comes from limiting the amount of confidential information collected and minimizing the time it is maintained in library data bases." - LRK

Chudnov, Daniel. "COinS for the Link TrailnetConnect  (Summer 2006)(http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6344742.html). - Content Objects in Spans (COinS) is a way to expose OpenURLs in web pages that does not presuppose a specific OpenURL resolver address. Put another way, it's a way to enable those who come across your content to use their own OpenURL resolver to get to the copy licensed on their behalf. Although at the moment to do anything useful with these a Javascript program must be installed in one's browser, we may not be far from the day when web browsers can natively use COinS to create valid and useable links. Chudnov, who has been involved with the COinS effort from the beginning, explains all this and more much better than I can. The bottom line: if you are using OpenURLs you should know about COinS, if not be using them in places where they make sense. The more widely COinS are adopted (and OCLC's WorldCat already does), the better off we will eventually be. Or, more accurately, the better off our users will be. - RT

Feeley, Jim. "Video EverywherePC World  24(9)(September 2006): 104-114. (http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,126161-page,1/article.html). - Let that phrase "video everywhere" resonate for awhile ... what does it call to mind? Bad TV? Surveillance? Tsunami in your lap? Feeley's article pulls together the many ways that access to video has proliferated, and reading it provides a strong whiff of cultural shift. There's a hunger for reality out there and digital video is feeding it: the assumption that eyewitness video of an event can be found on the web is increasingly true. The August 26th Economist has a special report on the newspaper industry which notes that the shift to web publishing has increased pressure on journalists to show and not just tell. And entertainment content is being offered for many new and interesting devices (of course the same crappy show that wouldn't keep you glued to the Naugahyde at home will be so much better on a tiny screen during your bus ride). Any information professional should read this because your customers are bound to ask you about video in new and surprising ways before too long. And you'll be relieved to know that Feeley doesn't indulge in a lot of amateur sociology like I do, he just lays out the current scene and keeps the focus on the systems that make it happen. - JR

Fisher, William W. , and William  McGeveran. "The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital AgeSocial Science Research Network  (2006)(http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=923465). - This report from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School takes an in-depth look at the impact of copyright laws, copyright clearance procedures, DRM technologies, and overly cautious gatekeepers (e.g., universities) on digital learning. It uses four case studies as a starting point for this investigation (e.g., "The need of film studies professors to bypass encryption on DVDs--likely in violation of federal law--in order to show selected film clips to their students"). The authors provide an extensive discussion of potential reforms that may remove the many obstacles to digital learning put in place by these above factors. The authors conclude: "Without question, digital technology provides new opportunities for rich reuses of content in many educational contexts, from the traditional classroom to the cutting-edge openness of Wikipedia. That progress will continue. But significant obstacles also confront educational uses of content. The law itself is often unclear or unfavorable. Pervasive use of DRM and the permissions maze created by the present licensing regime further impede such uses. And educators and intermediaries have too often responded to these problems with inertia or fear rather than action." - CB

Huff-Hannon, Joseph. "Librarians at the GatesThe Nation  (22 August 2006)(http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060828/librarians/). - I think it's safe to say that most people do not think of librarians as heros. We do not save the lives of endangered citizens like fire fighters or police do, so it's easy to overlook librarians when one is asked to name a heroic profession. But librarians are among the staunchest defenders of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, and this article is giving us our due. The lead paragraph states that "Courage, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. And in an era of increasing controls on the gathering and dissemination of information, many Americans are unaware of the courageous stands librarians take every day." Huff-Hannon follows his introductory remarks with a number of vignettes illustrating the struggle individual librarians take on every day to ensure our rights and freedoms as U.S. citizens. - RT

Sale, Arthur. "The Acquisition of Open Access Research ArticlesUniversity of Tasmania EPrints Repository  (2006)(http://eprints.comp.utas.edu.au:81/archive/00000375/). - In this e-print, Sale examines what happened when the Department of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, the Queensland University of Technology, and the School of Computing at the University of Tasmania mandated the deposit of article e-prints. Based on an analysis of the deposit data at these academic units, Sale concludes: "What can be estimated is that a university-wide mandatory deposit policy takes at least three years to be (say) 80% effective, if it is the authors themselves who provide their documents. If the repository managers adopt a proactive policy of actively uploading missing documents on behalf of the authors, as at CERN http://public.web.cern.ch/ then the apparent transition will be faster, but the rise of self-archiving might be slowed due to lack of direct author incentive and involvement. Repository managerial promotion and assistance, such as that undertaken by the Library in QUT, matters very significantly under a mandatory policy, although under voluntary policies it seems to be largely a waste of money. . ." - CB

Srinagesh, Soumya. "Perspective: Teen's warning on the gospel of WikipediaCNET News.com.  (11 August 2006)(http://news.com.com/2010-1038_3-6104446.html?part=rss&tag=6104446&subj=news). - "As the deadline loomed, I knew there was no way I would be able to sort through thousands of Google search results or go to the library to research while simultaneously performing other vital homework completion functions like talking online, reading celebrity gossip and downloading music. So I did what any desperate, procrastinating student would do--I logged on to Wikipedia, pulled up the entries on Renaissance literature and filled in the gaps in my paper until I had a presentable product." Ladies and gentleman, welcome to what passes for college work these days. The author of this piece is obviously not dull normal; she is a CNET intern who will be entering Wellsley College in the fall. And she is acutely aware of the "pitfalls" of Wikipedia -- e.g., the democratic nature of its editing process. Nevertheless, the site looms as an omnipresent temptation for the lazy/procrastinating student. "Unlike search engines, Wikipedia searches do not bombard you with thousands of sites that have little or no relation to the subject you are researching. Unlike traditional textbooks, Wikipedia articles do not require a trip to the library, but are available from the comfort of your home or dorm." And this is what we are up against, folks. - SK