Current Cites

June 2009

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Keri Cascio, Frank Cervone, Susan Gibbons, Leo Robert Klein, Brian Rosenblum, Roy Tennant, Jesús Tramullas

M-Libraries: Information Use on the Move   Cambridge, UK: Arcadia Programme, Cambridge University Library, 29 May 2009.( - What do students do with their cellphones and how should libraries support these devices? Those are the questions addressed in this report that surveyed cellphone use at two universities in the UK. The study found that most students use their phones for calling, texting, and taking photos, while less than a quarter use them to routinely access the Internet. Reason enough, the author concludes, to hold off on developing content such as websites and ebooks specifically for the devices. The author then goes over a number of potential services such as mobile-friendly OPACs and library alerts through SMS that she feels are more promising. While it's hard to say at what level of adoption, mobile-specific or smartphone-specific content and services should be developed, perhaps the author's best point is simply to make sure that what we already have online, is also accessible to these newer devices. - LRK

ALA Office for Research and Statistics, . "Public Libraries and E-Government Services ALA Office for Research and Statistics  (June 2009)( - E-government has become more and more prevalent over the past few years. Many programs and services are available to citizens only after navigating an online application. This fact hit home with Missouri public libraries earlier this year--the Department of Revenue decided to save money by not sending MO tax forms to public libraries. This change in procedures led to long conversations with our customers on how they could find forms online or file electronically. As part of their Public Library Funding&Technology Access Study, the ALA Office for Research and Statistics just published an issue brief titled "Public Libraries and E-Government Services." Public libraries are hubs for internet connectivity and computer access, which in turn makes them hubs for users of E-government services. There are challenges to be faced as public libraries move forward with assisting customers: financial constraints due to a poor economy; users who are not familiar with computers or the internet; staff who are either overworked or don't have the skills to navigate E-government; and the inconsistency of services and Web site usability across E-Government services. Hopefully collaboration between government agencies and public libraries will make the process more efficient for all parties involved. - KC

Bailey, Charles W., Jr. A Look Back at Twenty Years as an Internet Open Access Publisher Digital Scholarship, June 2009.( - Charles W. Bailey, Jr. started the PACS-L discussion list for librarians back before most of us knew about discussion lists at all. It was a seminal event in bringing librarians to the Internet, and it was a defining experience for me, a new librarian eager to learn about computer networks. The list then spawned a journal, and helped ignite Bailey's ongoing professional interest in open access publishing. This interest was embodied in a number of well-regarded publications including the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography and the Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals (PDF). Bailey's bibliographic reminiscence, then, is much more than explicating a personal journey — it's a record of much of the open access scholarly publishing movement over the last couple decades. Any of us who have been involved in such activities may wish to look back with Charles, and think about how far we've come. Also, Charles has contributed regularly and well to this particular open access publication for over eight years. - RT

Chudnov, Dan. "The Illusion of Stability"  Computers in Libraries  29(6)(June 2009): 31-33. - This column looks at strategies for making sure your online infrastructure is solid. Chudnov covers a number of strategies, including how to test software as it is being developed by writing and using unit tests, using "continuous build" tools such as Hudson, using a version control system such as Bazaar, and monitoring your servers and processes using applications such as Nagios. He also highlights an application introduced at the 2009 Code4Lib Conference by Brown University called the library dashboard, which is designed to not just monitor systems but also usage of library services such as checkouts. Overall, an excellent column on a vital topic written in a very accessible way, even for those who do not write software. - RT

Corn, Michael A. Strategic Outsourcing and Cloud Computing: Reality Is a Sober Adversary (Research Bulletin, Issue 12)  Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, 16 June 2009.( - "Be very afraid." That's the warning of this ECAR Research Bulletin for those thinking about outsourcing IT services. Emerging cloud-based services are attractive because of their quick access and usability, but Michael Corn, Chief Privacy and Security Officer at the University of Illinois, thinks we might be embracing these services too quickly. While recognizing that higher education institutions must find ways to make use of these services for data storage and sharing, project management, and communication, Corn argues that institutions need to take a cautious and strategic approach to outsourcing, thinking about long-term effects rather than viewing outsourcing as the solution to individual services. Corn outlines several parameters that are crucial to consider, including vendor trust, governance, and agility, and provides examples of specific questions that institutions should ask (Do we have a documented strategy for outsourcing? What is the maturity of the commercial market for this service? What is the broader impact on the local IT environment?). Drawing a connection to the debate over centralized vs. decentralized IT, Corn reminds us that "effective outsourcing requires its own particular expertise; an expertise that controls for the loss of the flexibility and functional insight that in-house solutions offer." - BR

Dehmlow, Mark. "The Ten Commandments of Interacting with Nontechnical PeopleInformation Technology and Libraries  28(2)(June 2009): 53-54. ( - Like the author, I too have worked "in between" the tech and non-tech worlds -- able to communicate with denizens of both but not fully of either. Perhaps that is why this short piece resonates so much with me. "Ironically," Dehmlow points out, "it turns out the most critical pieces to successfully implementing technology solutions and bridging the digital divide in libraries has been categorically nontechnical in nature; it all comes down to collegiality, clear communication, and a commitment to collaboration." Amen. He then goes on to enumerate his ten "commandments" for working with those who are not technically inclined. I suppose another reason I like this piece so much is that it reminds me very much of a recent piece I wrote, "Talking Tech: Explaining Technical Topics to a Non-Technical Audience". Knowing Mark personally, I'm flattered to think we agree so much on advice that can be so important to the success of managing technical change. - RT

FESABID, . Actas de las XI Jornadas Españolas de Documentación  (May 2009)( - The Jornadas Españolas de Documentación (FESABID) are the reference forum for the specialized professional community in Spain. The XI Conference was held in Zaragoza from 20 to 22 of May, and the presented papers have been openly published in the Federación Española de Sociedades de Archivística, Biblioteconomía, Documentación y Museística (FESABID) website. In the Conference Blog you can also find a great quantity of the presentations made in the different sessions. - JT

Pochoda, Phil. "University Press 2.0The University of Michigan Press Blog  (27 May 2009)( - University presses, for a variety of reasons, have been particularly challenged during this time of transition to digital publishing. Financially fragile even before the larger economic downturn, many university presses are now facing serious budgets cuts that may threaten their very survival — and in turn have a large impact on publishing opportunities for many professors. (See "Could a Press End Up on Chopping Block?" published in Inside Higher Ed earlier this year.) At the University of Michigan, the Press was recently restructured from an independent unit to a department that reports to the dean of the University Library, with a new emphasis on the production of digital monographs rather than print. In this essay Michigan Press director Phil Pochoda discusses the transition to digital publishing and the current challenges of university presses, focusing not just on economics, but also on cultural issues — in particular the tension between traditional book-centered humanities research and emerging digital scholarly practices. Pochoda then offers some thoughts on the direction presses need to head to remain viable in the digital age while preserving the integrity of scholarship: "The hallmark of UP 2.0 will be the creation of far-flung, interactive, digital, disciplinary-based communities, mediated by the digital book." - BR

Sartain, Julie. "Used IT Gear: How to Get Good Stuff Cheap and Avoid the LemonsComputerworld  43(22)(June 22, 2009): 28-31. ( - As budgets in most libraries continue to shrink, being more creative in purchasing technology is becoming an imperative. Something that has not traditionally been on most purchasing radars is used computer equipment. As a general guide, this article is peppered with tips on getting the best value out of used hardware. However, similar to the cautions one must exercise when purchasing a used car, there are many factors to consider before making a used computer purchase. For example, purchasing used equipment can factor nicely into a "Green IT" plan; however, you also have to consider that older equipment is generally less energy-efficient, which may outway the benefits of reuse. A quick read, this article may spur some creative purchasing in your library that will actually allow you to do more by paying less. - FC

Tapscott, Don. "The Impending Demise of the UniversityEdge: The Third Culture  288(4 June 2009)( - In this essay, Don Tapscott, author of Grown Up Digital questions how large research universities can survive in a world of digital natives. He suggests that traditional "broadcast learning" wherein the professor transmits knowledge to the student, the receiver, in a one-way, linear fashion is reaching a breaking point. The digital native students will demand a learning pedagogy that is interactive, collaborative and contextualized. "Universities should be places to learn, not to teach." We often hear the argument that universities, which dominate the list of oldest institutions, will be around long into the future. But Tapscott's essay serves to remind us all that a glorious past does not equal a glorious future. - SG