Current Cites

January 2009

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Frank Cervone, Alison Cody, Brad Eden, Leo Robert Klein, Karen G. Schneider, Roy Tennant,

Clark, Larra, and Denise  Davis. The State of Funding for Library Technology in Today's Economy  Chicago, Illinois: ALA Techsource, 2008.( - This timely report--really a selection of mini-reports--provides both insight and advice at a crucial time for libraries (and everything else). The bulk of the report corroborates what those in the field are experiencing or intuit: expenditures are shifting; libraries are relying more heavily on soft money such as fees, donations, and grants; technology budgets are pinched; nobody has enough bandwidth. Then in chapter 7, "Doing More with Less," library technologist Jason Griffey offers tips for stretching those IT dollars, while in chapter 8 John Carlo Bertot taps his years of wisdom to write about increasing broadband capacity for libraries. At 44 pages this is a slim volume, but as Spencer Tracy once said about Katherine Hepburn, "what's there is 'cherce.'" Read it, share it with staff, hand it to trustees and government officials. - KGS

Darnton, Robert. "Google and the Future of BooksNew York Review of Books  56(2)(12 February 2009)( - This erudite essayist takes on Google's impact on books, libraries, learning, and society, especially in light of its recent agreement with publishers. "After lengthy negotiations, the plaintiffs and Google agreed on a settlement, which will have a profound effect on the way books reach readers for the foreseeable future. What will that future be?," he ponders, and then immediately answers: "No one knows, because the settlement is so complex that it is difficult to perceive the legal and economic contours in the new lay of the land." Darnton holds out much for us to ponder as well, but he is also as bereft of solutions as are we: "Whether or not I have understood the settlement correctly, its terms are locked together so tightly that they cannot be pried apart. At this point, neither Google, nor the authors, nor the publishers, nor the district court is likely to modify the settlement substantially. Yet this is also a tipping point in the development of what we call the information society. If we get the balance wrong at this moment, private interests may outweigh the public good for the foreseeable future, and the Enlightenment dream may be as elusive as ever." - RT

Dempsey, Lorcan. "Always On: Libraries in a World of Permanent ConnectivityFirst Monday  14(1)(January 2009)( - Mobile communication has had a tremendous influence on libraries. The socialization and personalization of services has meant that "branding" the library in order to make it more visible and available to users is key. Rethinking how to promote collections, working collaboratively with other information organizations, and providing local expertise in computing and networks are only some of the effects that libraries are dealing with in this new environment. Dempsey provides an in-depth look at how this generational phenomenon changes the way libraries do business. When communication is always available and through multiple connection points with various levels of content presentation and thoroughness, and the library's current model of content delivery is the desktop or laptop computer, how does this have an impact on the way that we build applications? Dempsey discusses how syndication, synchronization, and feed-based integration affect libraries in five main ways: services, switching, sourcing, socializing and personalizing, and expectations. He then provides examples of how libraries are currently integrating mobile communication, focusing on themes such as space, alerting, reference/enquiry, people presence, and collections. In the end, Dempsey's article provides a concise presentation of mobile communication as it currently exists, and some directions for libraries to pursue in this new user environment. - BE

Houghton, John, Bruce  Rasmussen, and Peter  Sheehan, et. al.Economic Implications of Alternative Scholarly Publishing Models: Exploring the Costs and Benefits  London: JISC, 2009.( - This important report examines the costs and benefits of traditional subscription publishing, open access publishing, and self-archiving for UK higher education. It finds that: "open access publishing for journal articles [i.e., Gold OA] might bring system savings of around £215 million per annum nationally in the UK (at 2007 prices and levels of publishing activity), of which around £165 million would accrue in higher education.. . . a repositories and overlay services model may well produce greater cost savings than open access publishing--with our estimates suggesting system savings of perhaps £260 million nationally, of which around £205 might accrue in higher education." - CB

King, Michael. "Open Education: A New ParadigmUniversity Business  12(1)(January 2009): 13-14. ( - While news of layoffs and headcount reductions are a daily reality, between 2010 and 2025 close to 80 million "baby boomers" will retire. By 2025, "only 20% of workers will possess the skills required by the jobs created today" according to the article's author and this will create a crisis in education. If these projections hold true, we will see several demands placed on the educational system that will stretch the limits of our current models. The strains created will include the demand for increased delivery capacity in order to reach people in non-traditional education settings, declining workforce populations in many developed countries which will decrease the potentially population of teachers, and dealing with the ramifications of current poor educational system performance. In order to address these issues, the author proposes that we have to provide more open access to education. Some of the ways that institutions can do this include providing more transparency in the data individual institutions provide and making institutional processes more transparent to assure quality and the ability to measure outcomes effectively, Finally, institutions in the future will have to foster an open culture of collaboration that encourages reuse and sharing of materials across institutions. The author suggests that open source solutions and cloud computing are two of the major factors that will contribute to the fostering of a more open culture. - FC

McClure, Randall, and Kellian  Clink . "How Do You Know That? An Investigation of Student Research Practices in the Digital AgePortal: Libraries in the Academy  9(1)(January 2009): 115-132. ( - Fruitful collaborative effort between a Freshman Composition Professor and an Academic Librarian that looks at the online research habits of undergraduates. Criteria for assessing student work consisted of the familiar three horsemen of information literacy: timeliness, authority and bias. Not surprisingly, the authors found that students need to work more on developing skills for judging authority and bias. Particularly interesting are the comments from teachers and students on the process. This is one of several interesting articles in the January issue of Portal. The issue is worth the visit just to have a look at Project MUSE's spiffy new website. - LRK

Nick, Nicholas, Nigel  Ward, and Kerry  Blinco. "A Policy Checklist for Enabling Persistence of IdentifiersD-Lib Magazine  15(1/2)(January/February 2009)( - These authors from the Australian Persistent Identifier Linking Infrastructure (PILIN) project (funded from 2006-2008) report on a policy checklist that was a partial outcome of their work "to strengthen Australia's ability to use global persistent identifier infrastructure, particularly in the repository domain." They correctly proclaim that "policy is far more important in guaranteeing persistence of identifiers than technology," an assertion also made by others in previous publications. Toward the end of establishing policies to ensure identifiers are persistent they have developed a checklist that organizations can use to work through what needs to happen. They also adhere to a point John Kunze has made in the past (as cited in the article) that organizations should declare their intentions regarding identifier persistence. Having good intentions is one thing, but a solid statement of responsibility is another. - RT

Stvilia, Besiki, and Corinne  Jorgensen. "User-generated Collection Level Metadata in an Online Photo-sharing SystemLibrary & Information Science Research  (13 January 2009)( - In this pre-press article, the researchers examined metadata provided by users of the photo-sharing website Flickr. Their goal was to see what they could learn about how users classify content, and if any of that knowledge could potentially be applied to our own systems. The researchers examined 3,000 photos from 879 individual users, 300 photoset (album) descriptions, and discussions from 200 group photo pools. Overall, the team found that Flickr users focused primarily on identifying people, places and activities in their photos. They also found many users who did not use tags at all on their photos, and instead relied on photoset descriptions to provide metadata. For those who did use tags, they were used both individually (to identify a particular friend) and collectively (to identify a public event or place, for example). This data was mapped against a previous photo sorting and identification study, and the authors provide a brief analysis. In addition, they also briefly compared Flickr's group categories and the guidelines for posting within those groups to a handful of current metadata frameworks. Continuation of the research should yield some interesting, more concrete, recommendations. - AC

Vaughn-Nichols, Steve. "Hands-on Linux: New versions of Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE Push the EnvelopeComputerworld  online only(December 28, 2008)( - Many libraries have considered using Linux on the desktop but few have been bold enough to make the move. In this article, Vaughn-Nichols updates us on the latest versions of three of the most popular distributions of Linux: Fedora, openSUSE, and Ubuntu. For anyone looking for some quick talking points on why Linux is better than either Windows or Mac OS, this article will prove valuable. In addition to the author's tips on how each of these distributions faired during a side-by-side installation comparison, he provides information on the positives and negatives of the additional components in each packaged distributions. Of particular note are the short video demonstrations of each of the distributions that are embedded within the article, so you can see what the author is talking about rather than just reading about it. - FC