Current Cites

August 2009

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Susan Gibbons, Peter Hirtle, Karen G. Schneider, Roy Tennant

Capps, Robert. "The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just FineWired  (17)(September 2009)( - I've long written about the concept of "good enough" and how many library users are satisfied in their information search long before librarians (see, for example, So this piece in Wired was not news to me, but I appreciated the examples provided and was surprised by how Kaiser was applying these principles to medical care. In explaining why services and products can be successful while being of lower quality than others, Capps cites the Pareto principle, "also known as the 80/20 rule. And it happens to be a recurring theme in Good Enough products. You can think of it this way: 20 percent of the effort, features, or investment often delivers 80 percent of the value to consumers. That means you can drastically simplify a product or service in order to make it more accessible and still keep 80 percent of what users want -- making it Good Enough." There are lessons for all of our institutions in here, and for the services we aim to provide, but don't misunderstand. Capps is not advocating dumbing-down or reducing the quality of services necessarily. It's more nuanced than that. Kaiser is not seeking to lower the quality of medical care, it is seeking to appropriately manage care. When 80% of patient needs can be served by a doctor in an inexpensive office setting, this allows for the remaining 20% to be concentrated at a regional hospital, thereby cutting costs. Those of us in cultural heritage institutions should think carefully about how we can apply these principles to our own services. - RT

Dryden, Jean. "Copyright Issues in the Selection of Archival Material for Internet AccessArchival Science  8(2)(June 2008): 123-147. ( - With Google having basically solved the problem of digitizing our print heritage, attention will soon shift to digitizing unpublished materials. Dryden's pioneering study examines how Canadian archival repositories address copyright issues in their projects. The bad news is that repositories may be more restrictive than is necessary when selecting material for digitization. The good news is that most repositories do not really understand copyright and so do things beyond what their default practices would condone. In addition, very few institutions have been challenged by copyright owners. The study suggests that digitization projects should become much more comfortable with risk assessment when planning an archival digitization project. - PH

EDUCAUSE. 7 Things You Should Know about Cloud Computing  Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE, 3 August 2009.( - "Cloud computing" is the buzzword du jour, but what is it really? This succinct overview says: "In its broadest usage, the term cloud computing refers to the delivery of scalable IT resources over the Internet, as opposed to hosting and operating those resources locally, such as on a college or university network. Those resources can include applications and services, as well as the infrastructure on which they operate. By deploying IT infrastructure and services over the network, an organization can purchase these resources on an as-needed basis and avoid the capital costs of software and hardware." This two-page overview quickly gives you the basics without requiring a Ph.D. in computer science to understand it. - CB

Head, Alison, Joan  Lippincott, and John  Law (Moderator). "Returning the Researcher to the LibraryReturning the Researcher to the Library  (June 2009)( - A lively webcast focused on "creative thinking about academic libraries," featuring the insights and evidence from two leading researchers, Joan Lippincott Associate Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, and Alison Head, who leads the cutting-edge Project Information Literacy (PIL). Listen to Lippincott discuss the known behavior of "screenagers" and other user groups while Head shares PIL's research findings that what users want for their research needs are the "3 F's" -- full-text, findable, and free. Head also discusses user expectations, alluding to the gulf between what services libraries provide and what students expect, as well as user behavior, such as "presearch" in tools such as Wikipedia (not that any of us would ever do that). As for reading traditional print books and asking questions of traditional in-situ librarians--to this group, both information behaviors are so last-century. Use this webcast as a roadmap for rethinking academic services from the bottom up. Moderated by John Law of Serial Solutions (note that the webcast does begin with a three-minute "infomercial" for Summon, a product by Serial Solutions). Includes a bibliography. - KGS

Samuelson, Pamela. "The Audacity of the Google Book Search SettlementThe Huffington Post  (10 August 2009)( - As the official September 4, 2009 deadline has approached for filing an objection to the Google Book Search Copyright Class Action Settlement, there has been a frenzy of commentary about it. Pamela Samuelson's post is a good place to start to understand the controversy and how it could affect about 22 million authors who have published books in the U.S. since 1923. Also see her follow-up post, "Why Is the Antitrust Division Investigating the Google Book Search Settlement?" - CB

Shieber, Stuart M. "Equity for Open-Access Journal PublishingPLOS Biology  7(8)(August 2009): 1-3. ( - A connection between the current debate about health care and scholarly publishing would not occur to most people, but Shieber, the Director of the Office for Scholarly Communication at Harvard University, argues that both of them are examples of "moral hazard." Consumers who are insulated from the true costs of a product tend to overconsume. Shieber argues that one way to improve scholarly publishing is to make authors more aware of its costs by encouraging journals to shift from a subscription model to an open-access model supported by payments from authors. In this opinion piece, Shieber proposes an open-access compact in which universities, which currently fund much of the subscription model, commit to underwriting the cost of open-access journals through the payment of publishing fees. He sketches out some of the implementation issues that would need to be addressed to make this happen. Who knows if Shieber's suggested solution will work, but his opening is an excellent brief summary of some of the current problems in scholarly communications and publishing. - PH

Soltani, Ashkan, Shannon  Canty, and Quentin  Mayo, et. al."Flash Cookies and PrivacySSRN  (10 August 2009)( - Librarians have traditionally guarded the rights of users to read anonymously. But as more and more library services shift to commercial information providers, reader confidentiality may be disappearing. This pilot study looks at the use of "Flash cookies" on major web sites and discovers that they are common, immune to most of the privacy protections built into browsers, and seemingly often used to track user behavior. It made me wonder if any of the resources that our library has licensed are using this persistent bit of code - and what those companies might be doing with the data. - PH

Whitworth, Brian, and Rob  Friedman. "Reinventing Academic Publishing Online: Part 1: Rigor, Relevance and PracticeFirst Monday  14(8)(3 August 2009)( - The first part of what will be a two part examination of academic publishing. This theory-based article focuses on why the innovations of the digital age are largely absent from academic publishing. The authors portray the current knowledge exchange system as a feudal one that is "run by the few for the few." Whitworth and Friedman hypothesize that digital technology will trigger an upheaval in academic publishing that will push the knowledge exchange system into more democratic structure that will foster more cross-disciplinary research. Not an easy read, but well worth the effort. - SG

Yoffe, Emily. "Seeking: How the Brain Hard-Wires Us To love Google, Twitter, and Texting. And Why That's DangerousSlate  (12 August 2009)( - People familiar with my work (Hi Mom!) have heard my over-used saying "Only librarians like to search, everyone else prefers to find". Although librarians almost invariably laugh at what appears to be a wry truth, Slate is here to tell you that I'm wrong. We all prefer to search. At least, there are some research findings that seem to indicate that we are "hard-wired" to seek. "The juice that fuels the seeking system," states Yoffe, "is the neurotransmitter dopamine." That's right, the same neurotransmitter stimulated by such substances as cocaine and amphetamines. This doesn't necessarily mean that students needing to do research for a paper will perform online searches until they fall into a stupor (after all, at some point the mating instinct kicks in), but it does point out that any simplistic statement such as my favorite chestnut tends to hide the true complexity of human motivations. A good to thing to keep in mind as we seek new ways to engage our users in useful (and healthy) seeking behavior. - RT