Current Cites

December 2007

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Keri Cascio, Leo Robert Klein, Brian Rosenblum, Roy Tennant

The Code4Lib Journal  (1)(17 December 2007) - This is the inaugural issue of the Code4Lib Journal, and if the beginning is any indication it will definitely be worth following for anyone interested in the topics we try to cover in Current Cites. Largely written by the library coders who are building new kinds of systems and infrastructure for libraries, you can't get any closer to the technology action without getting hit with shards of subroutines. The articles in this first include "Beyond OPAC 2.0: Library Catalog as Versatile Discovery Platform," "Facet-Based Search and Navigation With LCSH: Problems and Opportunities," "The Rutgers Workflow Management System: Migrating a Digital Object Management Utility to Open Source,"Communicat: The Next Generation Catalog That Almost Was"," "Connecting the Real to the Representational: Historical Demographic Data in the Town of Pullman, 1880-1940,". Add an editorial introduction, a book review, and a column, and there is much here to edify and entertain not just the geekiest among us, but civilians too. May it live long and prosper. - RT

"Creativity Support Tools: Accelerating Discovery and InnovationCommunications of the ACM  50(12): 20-32. ( - Ben Shneiderman, professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland and author of the classic "Designing the User Interface", sees a promising future in programming and visualizations tools. He identifies a shift from tools that simply aid productivity to tools that promote creativity itself. These new "creativity support tools" can lead to forms of expression and collaboration not previously possible. The only catch is that in order to build these tools, we need to better understand what creativity is and how it can be measured. No small task. But the benefit is an environment, as Shneiderman puts it, where "eager novices are performing like seasoned masters and the grandmasters are producing startling results". - LRK

"Special Section -- Virtual Reference ServicesBulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology  34(2)(December/January 2008)( - This special section of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology addresses the issues affecting virtual reference services in libraries. We are still asking: who's using these services, who's not using these services, and why? Joe Janes gives us insight into the frustrations of virtual reference, including the confusion of license agreements, staffing levels, and marketing. R. David Lankes introduces us to "StoryStarters," a site that connected experts and bloggers with question askers. For evaluating online reference services, we turn to Jeffery Pomerantz. He looks at evaluation from the perspective of library staff and library users. Pnina Shachaf provides us with an environmental scan of professional and ethical standards and how they are (or are not) applied to virtual reference services. In the last article in the section, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Marie L. Radford, and Timothy J. Dickey join together to study the non-users of virtual reference services while working together on an IMLS project called Seeking Sunchonicity. They found that non-users value personal relationships and privacy in their reference transactions, and weren't sure if virtual reference would fill these requirements for them. In all, this special section of the ASIST Bulletin is a must for those librarians considering a virtual reference service, as well as those with established programs. - KC

Farkas, Meredith. "The Bloggers Among Us: A survey of the library blogosphere shows the mainstreaming of the mediumLibrary Journal  (15 December 2007)( - Farkas, a long-time and well-respected library blogger, surveyed library bloggers (also called by some the "biblioblogosphere") to get a better sense of who is blogging and why. Having performed a previous survey, she compares numbers to detect trends. To no one's surprise, Farkas found many more bloggers than before, and women have begun to close the blogging gap with their male counterparts. The number of public librarians blogging have also increased in comparison to academic librarians. Many more statistics as well as insights gleaned from the data can be found in this article that tells us a lot about who we are as a blogging community. - RT

Johnson, Richard K., and Judy  Luther. The E-only Tipping Point for Journals: What's Ahead in the Print-to-Electronic Transition Zone  Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, 2007.( - Based on interviews with librarians at research libraries and representatives of various publishing industry sectors (excluding commercial publishers), a literature review, and their own extensive experience, the well-known authors of this report predict that the end is near for the print journal: "The role of the printed journal in the institutional marketplace faces a steep decline in the coming 5 to 10 years. Print journals will exist mainly to address specialized needs, users, or business opportunities. Financial imperatives will draw libraries first--and ultimately publishers also--toward a tipping point where it no longer makes sense to subscribe to or publish printed versions of most journals." - CB

Morgan, Eric Lease. "Today's Digital Information LandscapeMusings on Information and Librarianship  (01 December 2007)( - Eric Lease Morgan of the University Libraries of Notre Dame wrote a lecture for the University of North Texas on the landscape of today's library in a digital word. He puts into words something that I've recently addressed in a workshop for cataloging electronic resources: "Libraries are still about the processes of collection, preservation, organization, dissemination, and sometimes evaluation of data and information. While the mediums, environments, and tools have dramatically changed, the problems and services the profession addresses remain the same." In this lecture, Morgan brings together XML, indexing, social software, and open source catalogs and repositories. A great introduction to the issues that technical services departments are facing right now. I wish I could have attended this lecture and listened to the question and answer period! - KC

Patry, William. "What Does It Mean to Be Pro-IP?The Patry Copyright Blog  (10 December 2007)( - In the U.S. House of Representatives, Reps. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Howard Berman (D-CA), and nine other House members have introduced the "Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007" (PRO IP). In this lengthy posting on the PRO IP bill, noted copyright lawyer William Patry provides a trenchant analysis of its main provisions. Examining the proposed statutory damages changes in Sec. 104, Patry says: "Under this approach, for one CD the minimum award for non-innocent infringement must be $18,750, for a CD that sells in some stores at an inflated price of $18.99 and may be had for much less from or iTunes. The maximum amount of $150,000 then becomes three million, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars per CD. Now multiple that times a mere ten albums, and one gets a glimpse at the staggering amount that will be routinely sought, not just in suits filed, but more importantly in thousands for cease and desist letters, where grandmothers and parents are shaken down for the acts of their wayward offspring." - CB

Rossner, Mike, Heather  Van Epps, and Emma  Hill. "Show Me the DataThe Journal of Cell Biology  179(6)(17 December 2007)( - As the authors note, the journal impact factors calculated and published by Thomson Scientific have a considerable influence on the scientific community, influencing grant applications as well as hiring, salary and tenure decisions. Yet the community has little understanding of how those impact factors are determined. Criticisms of impact factors are nothing new (and are summarized here), but this editorial goes beyond that to raise serious questions about the integrity of the underlying data itself. Unable to independently validate the accuracy of Thomson's calculations, the authors discovered numerous errors in the incomplete data provided by Thomson. In the end, they were unable to properly assess the reliability of impact factors because the full data remains hidden. This editorial is both a rejection of Thomson Scientific's "ill-defined and manifestly unscientific" numbers, and a call for more open and transparent access to citation data. - BR

Weiss, Rick. "Measure Would Require Free Access to Results of NIH-Funded ResearchWashington Post  (21 December 2007): A33. ( - Open access advocates got an early Christmas present this year as the U.S. Congress passed the "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008" with the provision for an NIH open access mandate intact. The mandate states: "The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law." President Bush is expected to sign the bill shortly. - CB