Current Cites

December 2009

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Warren Cheetham, Alison Cody, Peter Hirtle, Roy Tennant

"Read All About ItThe Economist: Technology Quarterly  (12 December 2009): 13-14. ( - Between Amazon putting the holiday hard sell on their Kindle family of e-book readers and Barnes and Noble attempting to launch their entry into this space (the "Nook"), you're probably just about as fed up with e-book reader hype as I am. But just when you thought you had had enough, here comes an article that runs through most, if not all, of the current and near-term future technologies for e-book screen displays. Most are jaw-droppingly bizarre, from tiny balls full of charged black and white particles to tiny groups of three mirrors. "One way or another," asserts The Economist, "inexpensive colour e-readers with video are on their way." So which of these strange technologies will power tomorrow's displays? It's anyone's guess, and those who guess right will make a bundle. - RT

Eaton, Kit. "How the OLPC Version 3 Predicts the Future of PCsFast Company  (23 December 2009)( - The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project undoubtedly changed the landscape of low-end laptops, and now their vision for the third iteration of the device, planned for 2012, seems similarly poised to redefine the field. Envisioned as a very thin, roughly letter-sized plastic tablet, it is designed to be hung from the belt and steadied with a plastic thumb loop at one corner. It seems apparent that if they are able to achieve anything close to this at anywhere close to the target pricepoint ($75!) it will be stunning. Check out the photos of the device at this blog post to see what they have in mind. - RT

Erway, Ricky. "A View on Europeana from the US PerspectiveLiber Quarterly  19(2)(2009)( - Ricky Erway was presented with an impossible task at a conference in October, 2009: critique the rapidly evolving Europeana digital library before its sponsors and creators. She gracefully accepted the challenge, and the result is an article that will be of value to anyone engaged in a collaborative digitization project. Erway describes the major issues that confront digitization projects, identifies state-of-the-art projects from around the world that are addressing these issues, and asks how Europeana measures up in each area. Measuring oneself against Erways's categories is an exercise that all digitization projects would do well to undertake. And if nothing else, the article includes links to interesting digitization projects that may not be widely known in the U.S. (And kudos to Liber Quarterly for getting the text, which could age quickly, into print so quickly after the conference.) - PH

Griggs, Kim, Laurie M.  Bridges, and Hannah Gascho  Rempel. "library/mobile: Tips on Designing and Developing Mobile Web SitesThe Code4Lib Journal  (8)(21 September 2009)( - The opening section of this paper gives more than enough evidence as to why libraries of all types need to develop mobile phone applications and interfaces to library services. Some libraries are already taking great steps in this direction, and these initiatives are highlighted. It goes on to outline three important considerations when developing mobile applications, and makes the distinction that mobile developers need to move beyond shrinking content to fit small screens, and instead use the mobile experience as a new way to connect with patrons. The bulk of the article outlines the efforts of the Oregon State University Library to develop mobile applications. It covers some coding which helps to detect whether a person is using a mobile device to connect to an application, and if so, point their device to the appropriate mobile application. The list of ten design recommendations for designing for small screens is very useful, as is the explanation of their testing and validating processes. - WC

Hadro, Josh. "White House Signals Interest in Open Access with Public Call for CommentsLibrary Journal  (17 December 2009)( - It's big news when the White House shows interest in open access, so the Office of Science and Technology Policy's call in the Federal Register for "input from the community regarding enhancing public access to archived publications resulting from research funded by Federal science and technology agencies" raised the hopes of U.S. open access advocates. Subsequently, OSTP began to post discussion items on its blog for comment. The first post was "Policy Forum on Public Access to Federally Funded Research: Implementation," the current post is "Policy Forum on Public Access to Federally Funded Research: Features and Technology," and the third, which will be about management, will be posted on January 1. The "Archive for the 'Public Access Policy' Category" page provides access to all the posts and comments. You must register and login to post comments. (Comments can also be e-mailed to Initially, OSTP said that all comments must be received by January 7, 2010; however, that deadline has been extended to January 21, 2010, with a more detailed discussion of the three topics occurring between January 7, 2010 and that date. - CB

Head, Alison J., and Michael B.  Eisenberg. Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age  Seattle, WA: School of Information, University of Washington, 1 December 2009.( - This progress report from Project Information Literacy is a report of the "findings from 2,318 respondents to a survey carried out among college students on six campuses distributed across the U.S. in the spring of 2009". The abstract summarizes the findings, but there are many juicy tidbits in the full report. "Respondents, while curious in the beginning stages of research,employed a consistent and predictable research strategy for finding information, whether they were conducting course-related or everyday life research. Almost all of the respondents turned to the same set of tried and true information resources in the initial stages of research, regardless of their information goals. Almost all students used course readings and Google first for course-related research and Google and Wikipedia for everyday life research. Most students used library resources, especially scholarly databases for course-related research and far fewer, in comparison, used library services that required interacting with librarians. The findings suggest that students conceptualize research, especially tasks associated with seeking information, as a competency learned by rote, rather than as an opportunity to learn, develop, or expand upon an information-gathering strategy which leverages the wide range of resources available to them in the digital age." - RT

Pennenberg, Adam. "Forget E-Books: The Future of the Book Is Far More InterestingFast Company  (23 December 2009)( - The tag line of this piece serves as the thumbnail summary of it: "Coming soon... It's the end of the book as we know it, and you'll be just fine. But it won't be replaced by the e-book, which is, at best, a stopgap measure." In other words, the post is mostly a rehash of what has long been the visionary replacement of the book -- a digital mashup of virtually any type of digital resource (e.g., video) or service (e.g., annotation) -- thereby characterizing today's "e-book in name but not substance" as a stopgap measure similar to the early days of film, where cameras were simply pointed at stage plays. But the author uses some useful metaphors to make his case and the comments the post has begun to accumulate are thoughtful and worth your time. - RT

Shelton, Jill T., Emily M.  Elliott, and Sharon D.  Eaves, et. al."The Distracting Effects of a Ringing Cell Phone: An Investigation of the Laboratory and the Classroom SettingJournal of Environmental Psychology  29(4)(December 2009): 513-521. ( - Every instructional librarian has had a session interrupted by a student's ringing cell phone. But have you ever wondered exactly how distracting this phenomenon is? In this study the authors set out to answer this question. They conducted a series of four experiments -- two in the laboratory and two in real classrooms -- that measured the impact of a ringing cell phone on students' attention. The laboratory experiments used three different sounds, and measured how much and for how long those sounds diverted the participants' attention. While the findings of the laboratory experiments were interesting, the classroom experiments were particularly informative. In both of them, a student was planted in the classroom with the ability to set off a cell phone in her bag at a specific point in the lecture. For the first trial, she spent 30 seconds pretending to try and find the phone in her bag; for the second she just let it ring. In both cases the students were then tested on the facts that were delivered during the point in the lecture when the phone rang. In both classes, the students performed poorly on the quiz questions relating to the lecture material that was delivered during the distraction. However, in the class where the student also searched for the phone, performance was even worse, indicating that the distracting effects of the ring are compounded by the visual distraction of the phone's owner trying to locate it. The findings of these four experiments indicate that continuing to conduct class while a phone is going off is a poor choice. Rather than ignoring the phone, instructors would do better to wait for the phone to be silenced, or at least make a point of reviewing the information presented at that point later in the class. - AC