Current Cites

August 2008

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Keri Cascio, Frank Cervone, Warren Cheetham, Brad Eden, Brian Rosenblum, Roy Tennant

Albrecht, Katherine. "RFID Tag - You're It Scientific American  299(3)(September 2008): 72-77. ( - RFID tags come in a number of shapes and sizes. Libraries are using them to track circulation, and governments are using them to track people traveling across borders. Albrecht, the director of consumer privacy group CASPIAN, looks at potential for abuse as RFID chips become more ubiquitous in our society. A good article to read to be informed of the "con" side of the privacy and security issues if you are in discussions with your community about the possibility of using RFID technology in your library. This article is available in the online version of SciAm with a different title, but it doesn't include some of the helpful explanatory graphics from the print version. - KC

Bejune, Matthew, and Jana  Ronan. Social Software in Libraries: SPEC Kit 304.  Washington, DC.: Association of Rearch Libraries, July 2008.( - Looking specifically at ten types of applications (social networking, media sharing, social bookmarking, wikis, blogs, rss, chat and IM, VoIP, virtual worlds, and widgets), and with a response rate of 52% (64 out of 123 libraries), this survey makes clear that use of social software by ARL member libraries has rapidly increased in the last decade. Over 95% of responding libraries report that they use some kind of social software application, and most libraries are implementing multiple types of applications, often integrated into larger tools. IM and chat are the most popular type of application (59 libraries, or 94%) while VoIP is the least used (18 libraries, 28%). Although implementation is widespread, support models vary widely. Almost half the libraries report that social software activities remain uncoordinated, reliant upon the efforts of individual librarians. Most activities started as grassroots efforts by such librarians, with only five libraries (8%) reporting that library users requested such services. The survey does not explore assessment in detail, but finds that perceived benefits include enhanced visibility and communication, while challenges include finding time to learn the tools, and developing the staff expertise (self-study being the most common method). The executive summary of this SPEC Kit is available free online. The full version contains over 60 examples of social software usage at responding libraries. - BR

Council on Library and Information Resources, . No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research Libraries for the 21st Century  Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2008.( - This report deals with the challenging question of how research libraries should reinvent themselves to deal with rapidly developing digital technologies and other thorny 21st century issues. The first part of the report presents proceedings from a February 2008 symposium held by the Council on Library and Information Resources to explore this topic. It also contains recommendations derived from that symposium and from the second part of the report, which contains essays by Paul N. Courant, Andrew Dillon, Richard E. Luce, Stephen G. Nichols, Daphnee Rentfrow, Abby Smith, Kate Wittenberg, and Lee L. Zia. CLIR President Charles Henry sums it up this way: "This report demands change. Common themes include collaboration between librarians, faculty, and information technology experts to articulate strategies and tactical approaches to a rapidly changing environment. This represents a broad research agenda that cannot be executed by a single profession. We are asked collectively to rethink current hiring practices, to provide for new career paths and opportunities for professional development, and to consider redefining libraries as multi-institutional entities. The latter entails a mandate to eliminate redundancy by calibrating resources, staff, and infrastructure functions to the collective enterprise of the federated institutions. This transcends the traditional concept of a library (and by extension a university or college) while preserving the programmatic strengths and mission of the individual schools, and in fact should enhance intellectual productivity in a far more cost-effective fashion." - CB

Farmer, Lesley S.J.. "Girls and Technology: What Public Libraries Can DoLibrary Hi Tech News  25(5)(June 2008)( - Public libraries that have computers labs, offer free internet access, IT training programs and console games that all enjoy high usage may make the mistake of not analysing the use and effectiveness of those programs. After all, if it ain't broke (people are using the library and facilities are booked out) then why fix it (why waste time analysing success)? Farmer's article is a call to public libraries to ensure that their programs are meeting the needs of an underserved cohort of library members -- teenage girls. Farmer's assertions that "even in the twenty-first century, a gendered digital divide exists"and "libraries offer a safe learning environment for girls to explore technology" should remind public library managers, childrens' and youth services librarians and IT librarians to ensure that their IT programs and facilities include this important group of library members. An easy-to-read article backed up by statistics, an outline of principles to consider when planning IT programs, and some examples of successful public library programs. - WC

Gatenby, Janifer. "The Networked Library Service Layer: Sharing Data for More Effective Management and Co-operationAriadne  (56)(30 July 2008)( - One could argue, as Gatenby does here, that despite the fact that most libraries have been networked for well over a decade, they have yet to take full advantage of the opportunities to work more efficiently and effectively. That is, some data and services that libraries need may be more profitably maintained not at the local level by individual libraries, but at a group or global level. In this piece Gatenby identifies various kinds of library data and suggests ways in which it could become more useful and valuable if we move it up into shared spaces. She states that doing so is a crucial first step to being able to completely re-engineer integrated library systems to function at the network level. "It is important for libraries to own and control their data resources; to be free to share them, provide access to them and to expose the data," she asserts, "It is less important that the libraries own or run the software that manipulates and manages the data." Full disclosure: I work with Janifer Gatenby at OCLC. - RT

Guy, Marieke. "A Desk Too Far?: The Case for Remote WorkingAriadne  (56)(June 2008)( - Remote working (or telecommuting) has been around almost as long as computers, but has not been actively encouraged or taken advantage of within libraries. The author (whose focus is on recent legislation on this topic in the UK) provides information on the pros and cons of remote working for both individuals and companies. Some of the benefits include: work-life balance, higher productivity, flexibility, environmental concerns, and reduction of overhead costs for utilities and space. Some of the challenges include: loss of face-to-face contact with colleagues, perceptions in-house towards those who work remotely, morale issues, organizational and technical issues, and support from the education and public sector. The author describes some solutions to meet the challenges, and closes with a look at the 21st century office of the future. The article revisits many of the challenges and opportunities inherent with remote working, but the focus of the article is on UK-related legislation and law, and thus may not have applicability to efforts in this area outside of the UK. - BE

Housewright, Ross, and Roger  Schonfeld. Ithaka's 2006 Studies of Key Stakeholders in the Digital Transformation of Higher Education  New York: Ithaka, 18 August 2008.( - In 2006, Ithaka administered two surveys of university faculty and librarians (targeted at collection development directors). The survey generated 4,100 faculty responses and 350 from librarians, and resulted in thousands of pages of data. This report distills some of the more interesting findings and key implications from that data. Ithaka has also posted the data at ICPSR, where member institutions can access it. It is always difficult to distill the findings of such a report into a one-paragraph citation, so don't expect any miracles this time. Rather, here are a few quotes to pique your interest: "An important lesson is that the library is in many ways falling off the radar screens of faculty." "Faculty, across disciplines and institutional sizes, expect the importance of e-books to grow only slightly in the future...Somewhat oddly given this low level of faculty interest in e-books, many librarians consider the provisioning of e-books an important role..." "It is clear that [institutional] repositories have not become embedded in faculty workflows; in fact, many faculty are not even aware of their existence." Much more in the full report. - RT

Miller, Rebecca. "Future-Proof Your LibraryLibrary Journal  (15 August 2008)( - For this piece LJ emailed formerly named library "Movers and Shakers" for "their ideas on how to ensure a vital library for the future." As you might imagine, they got back a wide range of thoughts and ideas that are well worth pondering. Here's a few to pique your interest. "Future-proof librarians must be not just comfortable with change but able to lead it." - David Lee King; "Flexibility is the key to future-proofing -- in staffing, in budgeting, in planning. We can't continue to do what we've always done -- we need latitude from administrations and funding sources to take risks and be proactive and responsive." - Jennifer Nelson; "In order for libraries to be sustainable, we need to abandon the idea of sustainability. I believe relevancy is the key, not sustainability. And although these two ideas can (and do, in a way) support each other, it can be detrimental to libraries to become too focused on trying to achieve long-term sustainability that we miss out on remaining relevant to our communities' current, vital (and, yes, even sometimes short-term) needs." - Helene Blowers; "The future-proof library will encourage my heart -- to grow, explore, learn, and experience. It will know me and provide information I didn't even know I needed. I will experience information in new ways, inside the library or wherever the library happens to be: on my 'digital lifestream' device, via my home information/entertainment devices, and via the cloud of data that will be available to me wherever I go." - Michael Stephens - RT

Pratt, Mary K.. "Five Ways To Drive Your Best Workers Out the DoorComputerworld  (August 25, 2008)( - While this article is written with the corporate IT crowd in mind, it's also applicable for library info tech managers. In fact, it's applicable to ANY manager. The advice here is not anything groundbreaking, but it does provide a good reminder for us of what we should try to avoid while managing. Particularly helpful are the "Better Way" suggestions related to each "mistake" that could potentially be made by a manager. Since it is so hard to find good employees with the requisite library and IT skills in the first place, it makes sense that we be mindful of not doing things that make people want to leave. - FC

Tonkin, Emma. "Persistent Identifiers: Considering the OptionsAriadne  (56)(30 July 2008)( - Experienced web users know that things change, and in so doing, links can break. So the idea of creating an identifier that can point to an object no matter where it moves has been with us for almost as long as the web itself. Perhaps that explains why there are so many ways it can be done, each of which is enumerated here by Tonkin. Briefly highlighted are URN, PURL, DOI, NBN, ARK, and OpenURL. Tonkin then discusses a number of issues relating to this problem space: opacity; authority and centrality; semantics, flexibility and complexity; availability and viability; and technical solutions versus social commitment. As a testimony to the difficulty of this problem, Tonkin concedes that "technology cannot create a persistent identifier, in the digital library community's sense of the term" and that this is an area "in which there are more questions than answers." I couldn't agree more, but perhaps after reading this paper you will have a few less questions than before. - RT