Current Cites

October 2008

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Keri Cascio, Warren Cheetham, Alison Cody, Brian Rosenblum

Castiglione, James. "Environmental scanning: an essential tool for twenty-first century librarianshipLibrary Review  57(7)(2008): 528-536. (;jsessionid=83F5AEB8D672ECE0DD08C08E715A75DF?contentType=Article&contentId=1740626). - This paper sets a lofty goal -- a global, coordinated effort towards consistent Environmental Scanning (ES) by professional library associations. Fortunately, before we reach that global level, the author takes an introductory journey through the field of ES and encourages the use of ES in all levels and sectors of LIS practice, in order to achieve a "more precise alignment of library resources and services with the rapidly changing information service requirements of our stakeholders". In arguing for a comprehensive ES program, Castiglione singles out monitoring of the technological environment as an important specialist role that could be shared globally by professional library organisations. He argues that such a high level information gathering and sharing effort could help present a unified global voice with which our profession could engage in dialogue with major companies spearheading technological changes. - WC

Lankes, R. David. "Credibility on the internet: shifting from authority to reliabilityJournal of Documentation  64(5)(2008): 667-686. (;jsessionid=83F5AEB8D672ECE0DD08C08E715A75DF?contentType=Article&contentId=1745106). - As internet technology develops and as people become more "information self-sufficient", the tools and techniques they use to determine the credibility of online information changes. It feels like this paper sits the internet searcher at the centre of a conceptual "onion" surrounded by translucent layers of thought-processes, judgements, decisions, and technologies which all lead the searcher to make a sub-conscious assessment about the credibility and reliability of the information they have found online. Lankes does a good job of patiently peeling back the onion layers, explaining the significance and importance of each layer. The paper moves from an exploration of non-library use of the internet (online banking, purchasing books, voting etc), through to how users learn and participate online, a detailed look at the technological levels of the internet which affect users, and a discussion about the growing culture of transparency. This all builds to a discussion about how "the power of choice is shifting models of credibility from traditional authorities to what will be called a 'reliability approach' where the user determines credibility by synthesizing multiple sources of credibility judgements". This is the point where the high concepts reach real-world practice, and should be of particular interest to LIS educators training the next generation of library staff, and library staff involved in information literacy training. - WC

Leetaru, Kalev. "Mass Book Digitization: The Deeper Story of Google Books and the Open Content AllianceFirst Monday  13(10)(6 October 2008)( - This article compares and evaluates in some detail the Google Books and Open Content Alliance (OCA) initiatives, providing an excellent overview of their production workflows (to the extent they are known), how they address issues of transparency and openness, their approach to rights management, and their use of metadata. Because the purpose of these initiatives is access rather than preservation, the transparency of the production and scanning operations is not as crucial as the transparency of rights issues and the usability of the final product. Despite OCA's "open" model and the common criticisms of Google as being secretive and proprietary, the author finds that Google is in many ways more transparent, and he raises concerns about the long-term sustainability of the OCA rights model, its metadata management, and its transparency. On a related note, as this issue of Current Cites was going to press, Google, the Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild announced a settlement to the class action lawsuit filed against Google in 2005. The settlement (not addressed in this article) should clarify a number of rights issues, but will undoubtedly receive much commentary as people work through it over the coming weeks. - BR

Osswald, Achim . "E-science and information services: a missing link in the context of digital librariesOnline Information Review  32(4)(2008): 516-523. (;jsessionid=83F5AEB8D672ECE0DD08C08E715A75DF?contentType=Article&contentId=1740716). - Librarians wanting to make a significant professional impact in the online environment should consider how to share their skills with scientists working on the web. e-Science is "based on distributed networks providing the software and computer power necessary to process large sets of data, by interconnecting computers and tools wherever they are available". The supposed benefits of this are enhanced information exchange, better communication and cooperation, and increased competitiveness. According to Osswald's research, very few e-Science projects in the European Union and Germany use the expertise of library and information services (LIS). The danger of this is two-fold; reduced quality of e-Science-related research, and a decrease in the role and influence of LIS experts in the field. This paper outlines how scientists use e-Science resources, some of the problems they face in using and sharing large datasets, and outlines some areas where LIS can add value to e-Science. These areas include;data capture, reference and access, personalisation, value-adding services, and academic publishing and resource linking. A brief comparison of similar e-Science projects in the UK and USA suggest an absence of LIS expertise in these regions as well. Librarians have been quick to adapt to the online world, however it appears that the profession has some work to do to become influential in the field of e-Science. In doing so, perhaps in some small way we will repay the debt we owe scientists for the creation and development of the internet, which has become so central to our professional. - WC

Salaway, Gail, Judith B.  Caruso, and Mark R.  Nelson. The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2008  Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, 2008.( - This study presents the results of a 2008 survey of information technology use by selected categories of U.S. higher education students (i.e., freshmen, seniors, and community college students) as well as focus group findings from that population. The sample included 27,317 students from 98 institutions. Although we tend to think of today's students as the "Net Generation," 46% of respondents did not own a desktop computer and 20% did not own a laptop (all figures rounded). Nonetheless, students averaged 20 hours a week online. The library Web site (93%), social network sites (85%), text messaging (84%), course management systems (82%), downloading music and videos (77%), and instant messaging (74%) were popular online destinations and activities. Online content creation was a much less frequent activity, ranging from 47% who put up content on photo and video sites to 17% engaged in social bookmarking. - CB

Sessoms, Pam, and Eric  Sessoms. "LibraryH3lp: A New Flexible Chat Reference SystemThe Code4Lib Journal  (4)(22 September 2008)( - Open source software allows developers to find answers to problems without reinventing the wheel. The "Night Owl" virtual reference service in North Carolina was getting frustrated with using IM chat services and a commercial virtual reference system simultaneously. The chat widgets and services were consistently getting more traffic, but there were some usability concerns, including compatibility with screen readers and the lack of clickable links during the chat. Using the XMPP (jabber) protocol, the authors were able to reach their design goals, including flexible routing of chats, clickable links, and pop-out chat windows. The article gives lots of technical information about the LibraryH3lp system, but also brings to light many of the challenges faced by "real, working librarians who [are] struggling with using the existing tools while striving to expand their growing service." - KC

Vishwanath, Arun, and Hao  Chen. "Personal Communication Technologies as an Extension of the Self: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of People's Associations with Technology and Their Symbolic Proximity with OthersJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology  59(11)(September 2008): 1761-1775. ( - What's your emotional attachment to IM? Which modes of communication do you prefer to use when talking to particular groups of people? Vishwanath and Chen set out to find out, and to compare answers across cultures. They asked college students in the U.S., Germany and Singapore to estimate the distance between themselves and seven personal technologies (cell phone, personal e-mail, blog, IM, home page, home phone and office/school phone), and then to indicate which technologies they used to contact particular groups of people (partners, family, friends, strangers, etc.). They found that the technologies considered closest to the self are similar in each of the three cultures (e-mail and cell phone were in the top four for each), but they were used to maintain contact with different groups of people. In addition, results for the U.S. showed that the respondents were very clear in using particular modes of communication to maintain particular relationships; conversely, U.S. respondents were also more willing to cross those self-imposed lines. Overall, if you can wrap your head around the idea of measuring the emotional attachment between yourself and your cell phone as a distance (not to mention the methods used to analyze the data), the article provides some interesting food for thought. Of potential interest to U.S. reference librarians was their finding that the modes of communication associated with "strangers from the same country" were cell phones, personal home pages and IM. This may point to the popularity of IM reference services on some college campuses, and also begs the question: do we try out an SMS reference service? - AC