Current Cites

Current Cites, July 2007

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Keri Cascio, Frank Cervone, Susan Gibbons, Leo Robert Klein, Brian Rosenblum, Karen G. Schneider, Roy Tennant

Abbott, Andrew. The University Library  Chicago: University of Chicago, May 2006.( - Agree with this report or not, it offers an invaluable outside-in perspective on current hot-button issues in academic librarianship. Respected scholar Andrew Abbott (author of The System of Professions) produced this "a serious theoretical analysis of library research" for a task force appointed by the provost of the University of Chicago, where Abbott teaches. Abbott offers fresh and often trenchant observations, many backed quite refreshingly by real data, about issues such as use of the university library by undergraduates and faculty, off-site storage, research study rooms, and even the current vogue for building faculty-graduate research centers, which he refers to as "Potemkin Villages" that "exist more as targets for external funding than as physical realities." - KGS

Anderson, Nate. "Deep Packet Inspection Meets 'Net neutrality, CALEAArs Technica  (25 July 2007)( - Information travels the Net through 'packets'. Whether we're sending email, watching video or talking to friends using VoIP, it all consists of packets. So, what if there were a technology that could identify each packet as to where it's going and what it consists of? This is precisely what 'Deep Packet Inspection' or 'DPI' does and Nate Anderson of Ars Technica does a splendid job explaining the implications. Short synopsis: Bad news for Net Neutrality (and privacy). - LRK

Blyberg, John. "Always Pushing InformationnetConnect  (15 July 2007)( - Blyberg writes about, and expands upon, his "ILS customer bill of rights" that he first blogged about in November 2005. His list includes: 1) Open, read-only, direct access to the database, 2) A full-blown, W3C standards-based API (application programming interface) to all read-write functions, 3) The option to run the ILS on hardware of our choosing, on servers we administer, and 4) High security standards. I'm certain that at least some vendors would take exception to these points, either from the perspective that they already have them implemented (my guess is that most vendors believe they already have high security standards), or that they wouldn't be supportable (e.g., to run on any hardware of your choosing, which would greatly multiply their support headaches). Nonetheless, these are important points well worth discussing and advocating with your vendor. - RT

Bonnie, McCune. "10 Tips for Getting Grants to Keep Your Library Afloat"  Computers in Libraries  27(7)(July/August 2007): 10-14. - You spend many precious hours working on a grant proposal, only to find out that your project wasn't chosen. What went wrong? Funding insider Bonnie McCune, the library community programs consultant for the Colorado State Library, shares ten tips for getting your grant proposals accepted. Suggestions include tailoring your request for smaller foundations, making key contacts in funding organizations, planning for evaluation, and honing your message. Her best advice is not to get discouraged. When you take the time to learn from your past rejections, you improve your chances for success in the future. - KC

Brown, Laura, Rebecca  Griffiths, and Matthew  Rascoff, et. al.University Publishing in a Digital Age  New York: Ithaka, 2007.( - While the journal publishing activities of university presses are important, the key role that they have played in the scholarly publishing ecology has been book publishing. Scholarly books often have very limited sales, but they are critical to faculty in some disciplines, especially those in the humanities. These disciplines value books highly, and without publishing one or more scholarly books faculty in them cannot get tenure. Unfortunately, the long-term trend has been for universities to require that university presses be increasingly self-sustaining, and this, combined with the very corrosive effect of the serials crisis on academic libraries' monograph budgets, has resulted in presses seeking more profitable sources of income than obscure monographs. By publishing more popular books, they can subsidize the continued publication of scholarly monographs, but not at a level that scholars in book-heavy disciplines would desire, creating a scholarly monograph crisis. Of late, university presses have increasingly been put under the administrative control of academic libraries, new digital/print-on-demand university presses have begun to be established, and there has been increased interest in reexamining the role of traditional university presses. The 69-page Ithaka report is one of the most detailed investigations of how university publishing could evolve. It advocates a stronger role for universities in scholarly publishing; a strategic evaluation of what local scholarly publishing activities should be; a cohesive university-wide approach to publishing activities; the development of scalable, collaborative, cross-institutional publishing infrastructure; the full utilization of online publishing capabilities; strategic capital investment; and vigorous leadership by university administrators, libraries, and presses. It's a provocative, important report that deserves to be widely read; however, while it advocates using a range of economic publishing models tailored to local needs, most discussion is focused on traditional fee-based approaches. - CB

Carr, Leslie, and Tim  Brody. "Size Isn't Everything: Sustainable Repositories as Evidenced by Sustainable Deposit Profiles D-Lib Magazine  13(7/8)(July/August 2007)( - How can we measure the success of a digital repository? Simply looking at the number of deposited items is problematic for many reasons. A better method, the authors argue, is to measure "community engagement," which should be evident in deposit patterns. For example, a repository built through a few large batch deposits may have less community engagement than smaller repositories with daily deposits across a broad range of subject categories. This article attempts to develop a "metrics of community take-up" by analyzing the deposit profiles of repositories in the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR), looking in particular at the number of items deposited per day over the course of a year, and the deposit patterns across subjects or communities in a given repository. According to this data, 12 of 20 largest repositories (in size) would not make the list of 20 most active. While the metrics presented here are quite general, they provide a useful way forward for institutions thinking about how to measure the use of their repositories. In addition, much of this data is tracked, kept up-to-date and made available in the 900+ repository profiles on the ROAR website, allowing institutions to see their own deposit patterns and compare with others. - BR

Haya, Glenn, Else  Nygren, and Wilhelm  Widmark. "Metalib and Google Scholar: a User Study"  Online Information Review  31(3)(2007): 365-375. - Interesting interface shootout between Metalib and Google Scholar. The guinea pigs in this study were 32 "intermediate" undergrads from Uppsala University in Sweden. Neither option swept students off their feet but the response to Google Scholar was "more positive". This had to do with the familiarity of the interface plus ease of use. Interestingly enough, success rates increased considerably for both tools if the students went through a short training session prior to beginning their search. The main lesson to draw from studies like this is the importance of testing "meta-search" products in order to gauge their effectiveness. Simply making them available isn't enough. - LRK

Lamb, Brian. "Dr. Mashup or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the RemixEDUCAUSE Review  42(4)(July/August 2007): 13-24. ( - As Lamb explains, the term "mashup" is used to describe the "reuse, or remixing, of works of art, of content, and/or of data for the purposes that were not intended or even imagined by the original creators." HousingMaps (, which brings together housing vacancies on craigslist with Google Maps, is an excellent example. Although mashups are fraught with difficult questions for educators and policy-makers, such as whether a mashup is a derivative or original work, Lamb encourages the higher education community to be more "open" to the possibilities. Specifically, Lamb would like to see educators using open and discoverable resources (e.g. not locked inside course management systems), open and transparent licensing (e.g. Creative Commons), and open and remixable formats in order to encourage the reuse of their content. A well-written piece that should cause librarians to consider the appropriate types of content/data that we could be offering up to the mashup sandbox. - SG

Mary E. Piorun, ,  Lisa A. Palmer, and  Jim Comes. "Challenges and Lessons Learned: Moving from Image Database to Institutional Repository"  OCLC Systems & Services  23(2)(2007): 148-157. - The path to an Institutional Repository is not always a straight line as this narrative from the Medical School Library at UMass makes clear. Along the way at least in their case, were academic departments with conflicting objectives, budgets duly proposed and rejected, hardware and software issues. An epiphany of sorts came when they finally got the chance to choose their own software. "It was critical," they determined, "that the product be robust, require little special programming, and be implemented and maintained with current library staff." Finishing off this tale of joy and sorrow is a list of elements they felt either helped or hindered their success. - LRK

Swan, Alma. "What a Difference a Publisher MakesOptimalScholarship  (7 July 2007)( - In this posting to her new OptimalScholarship weblog, scholarly communication consultant Alma Swan examines the copy editing of journal articles. Does it add value, subtract value, or both? What are the typical differences between the author's final draft and the copy-edited paper? Are these differences significant? As digital repositories containing e-prints multiply, these issues are increasingly important. Swan discusses pertinent research studies that address these issues, and she discusses the VALREC project, which is developing a tool to alert readers to the differences between article versions. - CB

Vaas, Lisa. "Is It OK For Google To Own Us?eWeek  (July 9, 2007)(,1895,2155596,00.asp). - Google has been a lightning rod for many issues in libraryland, but this piece demonstrates that it's not just librarians that are concerned about what Google is up to. In this brief article, Vaas provides an overview of the issues in the current dispute between Google and Privacy International. The basic dispute stems from a recent report from Privacy International (available at[347]=x-347-553961), in which Privacy International labeled Google "hostile to privacy" for its lack of controls in protecting the personally identifiable information (PII) of its users. Although some of the findings in the Privacy International report have been disputed, both by Google and external parties, this article and the Privacy International report are reminders of the myriad ways seemingly innocuous information is being collected on a regular basis without any substantive regulations or guidelines on how that information can or should be used in the long term. - FC

Vondracek, Ruth. "Comfort and Convenience? Why Students Choose Alternatives to the Library"  Portal: Libraries in the Academy  7(3)(July 2007): 277-293. - Library surveys often go over what users like and dislike about the library. This survey is unique in that it specifically asked non-users what they liked about their non-library locations when doing research or study. Non-users or infrequent users were asked where they studied most when on their own or in a group. They were also asked about the characteristics of their preferred locations (e.g. quiet, convenience). The thinking behind these questions was to see if characteristics could be identified that could then be applied to the library. Results included making it easier to reserve group-study rooms and making individual study areas more quiet. - LRK