Current Cites

June 2008

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Keri Cascio, Frank Cervone, Leo Robert Klein, Roy Tennant

American Libary Assocation. "Disaster Preparedness and RecoveryAmerican Library Association Website  (August 2007)( - I'm using the "current" in Current Cites this month to think about current events. I live in St. Louis, and I've been watching the flood waters rise in our area and throughout the Midwest. I'm starting a new job soon, and two of the branches for the St. Charles City-County Library District are under threat of flooding. They're still dry as of right now, and all of the staff are safe. However, much of the community will suffer losses this summer due to flooding. I look at the pictures of the Cedar Rapids Public Library, and know that could happen anywhere along a flood plain. If you haven't thought much about disaster preparedness at your library, take a look at some of the excellent resources linked from the "Disaster Preparedness and Recovery" page from the ALA Washington Office. Highlights include:

Remember, disaster isn't always delivered from Mother Nature. Pipes burst, cars drive into buildings, and fires happen. Be sure to have a disaster plan in place for your library and your community. - KC

Austin, Andy, and Christopher  Harris. "Drupal in LibrariesLibrary Technology Reports  44(4)(May/June 2008)( - As a Drupal user (at my site), I admit to being interested to see this issue of LTR, which highlights a popular content management system and illustrates how libraries are using it. But in reviewing it, I find it a mixed bag. Certainly it is a credible high-level guide to Drupal, but the appropriate audience for this treatment may be difficult to find. To get the most out of this, I suggest you line up a system administrator to do the heavy lifting for you (for example, creating the MySQL database and Drupal user, editing the config file appropriately, etc.) or else consult other sources for the details lacking here (admittedly the installation info included in the download may be sufficient). Other information lacking that I detected as a seasoned Drupal administrator include the inevitable work to manage spam users (a "user" account awaiting deletion at this moment on my site is, I kid you not, "free porn zip files", I wonder what library they work at?), dumping the database for backup and recovery (an inevitable event, let me assure you), and the often uncritical acceptance of such oddities as using "node" and "content" to mean the same thing and specifying different content types of "story" and "page" differentiated only by a default setting for whether the content is listed on the front page or not. One final nitpick: my pal Mark Jordan has had a site, drupalib, going for quite some time and there is no mention of it in the "Resources" section. Go figure. However, did I learn something? Yes, I did, even after having a Drupal site for a while. So the bottom line is if you are in the market for a content management system, you should check this out. If you are running Drupal now, maybe you'll learn something new, or else you'll have something to point people to when they ask why you're using this CMS. - RT

Bullen, Andrew. "Bringing Sheet Music to Life: My Experiences with OMRCode4Lib Journal  (3)(23 June 2008)( - Bullen describes a fascinating project to digitize sheet music, clean up the scan, put it through a special program to recognize the notes and then pipe it through midi software to recreate the music. Fascinating historical tidbits make what normally would be a dry technical exposition come alive, and provide more than adequate reason for going through these complicated procedures. This article can be further enhanced by viewing Bullen's lightning talk at the Code4Lib 2008 Conference in February, which used one of his recovered tunes as background (he also provided the intro music for all the 2008 Code4Lib videos). Highly recommended not just as a description of a technical digital library process, but as an excellent example of using digital library technologies to bring history alive. - RT

Fisher, Julian H. "Scholarly Publishing Re-invented: Real Costs and Real FreedomsJournal of Electronic Publishing  11(2)(2008)( - In discussions of the "gold road" to open access (open access journals), the focus is often on major open access publishers (e.g., BioMed Central) or "hybrid" publishers (e.g., Springer Open Choice), which offer per-article open access for a fee. Since both types of publishers rely heavily on publication fees to support open access, the analysis of the gold road option inevitably focuses on those fees and how they can be paid. However, for about two decades there has been another open access journal option that, while it has flourished, is often overlooked: what Tom Wilson calls the "Platinum Route." This strategy offers low-cost open access journal publishing without author fees, utilizing open source journal publishing systems and subsidized or low-cost technical infrastructure. Fisher's article makes the case for this type of open access journal publishing, often using the Scholarly Exchange, an open access journal publishing service, as an example (Fisher is one of its founders). How cheap can it be to publish such an e-journal? Fisher says: "My estimate is that a journal with 50 articles in a year could be published for under $4,000; double the number of articles, and the cost goes up to just over $7,000. At 250 articles a year, the cost is under $17,000. If the journal chose not to provide copy editing or XML conversion and tagging--two of the larger costs--the totals would be $1,200, $1,650, and $3,000 respectively." - CB

Gelston, Steff. "Welcome to the Generation Wars: Gen Y, Gen X and the Baby BoomersCIO Magazine  21(8)(February 1, 2008)( - The problems of the "generations at work" (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y) have been bemoaned in many contexts. In this piece, the author details many of the same issues related to the generations at work we experience within our libraries. What is different is that in this article, the context of all of these problems is corporate information technology organizations. While providing some small comfort that the "generation problem" is not something specific to our field, the real value of this short piece is its links to companion pieces, "Management Techniques for Bringing Out the Best in Generation Y" ( and "Generation X: Stepping Up to the Leadership Plate" ( What is most fascinating about this article is that in the intervening months since it was first published, a number of readers have commented on the article. These comments add a fascinating and somewhat vividly disturbing demonstration of the issues discussed in the article. In the comments you will find Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y going at each other in exactly the ways the author described. Perhaps if they had read the companion pieces, they would be better able to get along. - FC

Jelinkova, Klara, Terezsa  Carvalho, and Dorette  Kerian, et. al."Creating a Five-Minute Conversation about CyberinfrastructureEDUCAUSE Quarterly  31(2)(2008): 78-82. ( - This article provides a very concise summary of why cyberinfrastructure is important in higher education. It also offers a strategy for promoting cyberinfrastructure on campus. While it's intended to "to help you compose a five-minute conversation on cyberinfrastructure appropriate for various audiences," it also serves as a useful primer for readers who may be a little fuzzy on the potentials of cyberinfrastructure. A helpful list of EDUCAUSE cyberinfrastructure resources is included in the article. - CB

Nicholas, David, Paul  Huntington, and Hamid  Jamali. "User diversity: as demonstrated by deep log analysisThe Electronic Library  26(1): 21-38. ( - User log analysis has been performed since the time of the first HTTP servers; however most log analysis is abstracted from the details for the user community. It therefore leaves us with "big generalizations" (to quote the authors), but surprisingly little in the way of detailed information about the behaviors of our various user communities. In this study, the authors have applied techniques and methodologies deveoped at the Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research (CIBER) at the University of London, to analyze the behavioral patterns of a group of 750 researchers. As a result of their research, the authors have found that people from different disciplinary backgrounds approach the use of online journal databases in varying ways. Some disciplines are more predisposed to exploratory searching whereas other disciplines tend to use more directed search strategies. Moreover, the end purpose of these searches differs among the disciplines. Researchers in certain disciplines are more likely to focus on keeping up-to-date on the latest research in progress while researchers in other fields are more likely to be mainly focused on identifying recent articles of interest that have gone through the entire scholarly review process. In the interest of full disclosure, I am on the editorial board of The Electronic Library but I was not part of the review process for this article. - FC

Reynolds, Erica. "The Secret to Patron-Centered Web Design: Cheap, Easy, and Powerful Usability TechniquesComputers in Libraries  28(6)(June 2008): 6-8, 44-47. ( - This is an interesting look at the redesign effort of the Johnson County Library Website from the standpoint of usability testing. The author makes clear that usability testing is a lot of work. The stats speak for themselves: "78 card sorts, 22 paper prototypes, and 21 interface usability studies". Yet reading between the lines, you also get the impression that the process is a lot of fun. The development team is interacting with patrons and staff. It's a "fun activity". And this in turn builds enthusiasm and buy-in for the project. The process begins with identifying "20 core tasks". The team then figures out the right terms for navigation. They use prototypes to test out functionality. The ultimate benefit of all this careful testing is confidence in their design decisions and a new site that performs significantly better than the old one. - LRK

Section 108 Study Group. The Section 108 Study Group Report Executive Summary  Washington, DC: US Copyright Office; Library of Congress, March 2008.( - Several years ago, the Library of Congress' National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) and the US Copyright Office convened a 19-member study group to look at the issues related to Section 108 of the Copyright Act and digital works. Earlier this year, the study group produced its report and it should be on the summer reading list of anyone working with digital materials. While the diehard copyright aficionado will want to read the full report (, for most of us the executive summary is more than adequate. In 14 short pages, the group outlines their recommendations related to a number of pressing concerns in the copyright law such as legislative changes, exceptions to copyright claims to facilitate preservation and replacement, interlibrary loan exceptions, and display and performance of unlicensed digital works. - FC