Current Cites

Current Cites, May 2007

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Keri Cascio, Susan Gibbons, Leo Robert Klein, Jim Ronningen, Brian Rosenblum

"DigCCurr2007, an International Symposium on Digital Curation  (April 18-20, 2007)( - Last month's DigCCurr conference (it's pronounced "Dig Seeker" and stands for Digital Curation Curriculum) in Chapel Hill focused on "what digital curators do and what they need to know." The conference is part of an initiative to prepare students to work in the field of digital preservation, but the discussions will be just as useful for cultural heritage organizations trying to develop expertise and skills among their own staff. Several points were made repeatedly: digital curation is a collaborative endeavor; the range of skills required goes far beyond the technical; terminology matters because it helps define what we do (Cliff Lynch called the term digital curation "truly frightening"); and when the future is unclear, a return to the foundations of our professions can help illuminate the way forward. There are many good papers and presentations are on the conference website, including Adrian Cunningham's forceful discussion on the experience of the National Archives Australia, in which he "draws a line in the sand" and calls on us to remember the differences between archives and libraries, and Ken Thibodeau's bird's-eye view of the "critical competencies for digital curation." At a more nuts-and-bolts level, Liz Madden describes some "data-wrangling" approaches to moving data from one stage of the digital life cycle to the next. Hers is wise advice based on experience in the trenches, and not to be ignored. - BR

Gibson, Craig, and Dorothy C  Lockaby. "The Johnson Center Library at George Mason University"  Reference Services Review  35(2)(2007): 322-330. - Can a library center built in 1995 already be obsolete? The construction of any library is naturally a reflection of the technology and perceived needs at the time. If both these change, the role of the library might have to be reconsidered. That at least is the challenge confronting the Johnson Center Library at George Mason. The authors make clear through an interesting discussion that the developers got some things right and some things wrong. The question now is how to build on the positive while making optimal use of the space. - LRK

Hendrix, Dean. "Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Knowledge, Use, and Attitudes of Academic Librariansportal: Libraries and the Academy  7(2)(April 2007): 191-212. ( - Discussions about P2P networks on academic campuses usually focus on various dangers--security holes, bandwidth usage, and legal threats from ambitious music industry lawyers. But P2P technologies are also driving new library activities and initiatives, such as instant messaging reference services, and Stanford's LOCKSS program for preservation of e-journals. This article analyzes the use and knowledge of P2P technologies among librarians in the U.S, taking into account variables such as age, gender, year of MLS, and library job description. The general conclusion: academic librarians are behind the curve. Nearly 45% of the total questions on all the returned surveys were answered with: "not sure." One shortcoming of the study (acknowledged by the author) is that it asks only about file sharing applications, and doesn't include instant messaging. Still, the general conclusions of the article remain valid: as a group, we do not extensively use P2P technologies, and thus we don't have a great understanding of the relevant technical, social and legal issues, haven't thought a lot about how we might use P2P to help advance our missions, and don't have a strong voice in larger, campus-wide discussions about P2P. - BR

Huang, Phil. "How You Can Protect Public Access Computers and Their Users"  Computers in Libraries  27(5)(May 2007): 16-20. - When I worked in a public library, we were always on the lookout for strange goings-on at the public computer terminals. It's amazing how many patrons could get around our security software, and how many users didn't think to safeguard their personal information while surfing the Web or creating a resume. Phil Huang gives libraries tips on both sides of this issue--how to protect public access computers from unwanted security breaches and how to protect your users from unwittingly giving away their personal data. If you're looking for a framework to create a workshop on computer and Internet safety for your users (and maybe even for your staff), this article is a great starting point. - KC

Lally, Ann M., and Carolyn E.  Dunford. "Using Wikipedia to Extend Digital CollectionsD-Lib Magazine  13(5/6)(May/June 2007)( - An example of a library "getting in the flow," this article documents the University of Washington Libraries' effort to put their digital collections where their users will see them--in Wikipedia. The result was so successful in driving more users to their collections that they "now consider Wikipedia an essential tool for getting our digital collections out to our users at the point of their information need." It's a nice way to strengthen Wikipedia too. The article also contains some useful tips on creating articles and cross-references within Wikipedia, monitoring for changes and vandalism, and communicating with other Wikipedia users. - BR

Marcus, Cecily, Lucinda  Covert-Vail, and Carol A.  Mandel. NYU 21st Century Library Project: Designing a Research Library of the Future for New York University: Report of a Study of Faculty and Graduate Student Needs for Research and Teaching  (January 2007)( - Over the 2005-06 academic year the New York University Libraries undertook a study to determine how to "improve its physical spaces and services to best address the current needs of scholars, as well as to create an environment that could be adapted to the needs of the future of scholarly research." The synthesized results of interviews and focus groups with 65 NYU faculty and graduate students make up the bulk of this 57-page report. The interplay of the library's physical and virtual spaces, the continued reliance on serendipitous discovery, and the growing importance of interdisciplinary and collaborative research represent just three of the many themes that emerged from the interviews. An easy, yet very thought-provoking read. - SG

Moggridge, Bill. Designing Interactions  Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2007.( - "Designers of digital technology products no longer regard their job as designing a physical object - beautiful or utilitarian - but as designing our interactions with it." [Publisher's blurb.] Moggridge, a founder of design firm IDEO, has compiled the design stories of digital artifacts which have, without exaggeration, changed the world: screen interfaces, input devices, handheld communicators, games, search systems. Reading them is not only informative but inspiring in that it encourages creative thinking about possibilities (and I suppose the corollary is disappointment with the junk you're stuck with). The book itself is beautifully designed, tempting to browse and suprisingly affordable ($40) for a 766-page tome liberally illustrated in rich color. It includes a DVD of interviews with the designers, intercut with film of their products in development and use, and adds an expressiveness (of people and things both) which makes so much sense as another way to appreciate their process. The website is very generous with clips from the interviews, chapter descriptions and a downloadable chapter of the week. Book, DVD and website can be a refreshing mental vacation for those of us who, in our working lives, are encrusted with the minutiae of digital information. - JR

Surowiecki, James. "Feature PresentationNew Yorker  83(14)(28 May 2007)( - The message of this article is that the customer is the problem. Not because they're the unwilling victims of impossible-to-use devices but because they actively seek out such devices and only realize the error of their ways once they're back at home trying to make the things work. Twenty-minutes is about all the time they're willing to fiddle with something before throwing up their hands and taking it back. One suggested remedy to this quandary is to make the device feature-rich yet easy to operate. As to striking the right balance, the author ends on a (perhaps overly) pessimistic note pointing out "that even when you give consumers what they want they can still end up hating you for it." - LRK