Current Cites

September 2009

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Keri Cascio, Alison Cody, Peter Hirtle, Leo Robert Klein, Roy Tennant

"The iSchools, Education for Librarianship, and the Voice of Doom and GloomJournal of Academic Librarianship  35(5)(September 2009): 405-409. ( - Editorial on the anxiety (I think I'd call that) of library schools trading in their name of 'library' for the bright new shiny name of 'information', and in the process losing track of their original mission. The author doesn't see this anxiety as justified. He has a look at degrees that the various schools give out and enrollment figures and concludes that the majority still support a library-based curriculum. His 'bottom line'? That "library and information studies education does not appear to be broken, that opportunities to broaden and extend the field are decidedly more beneficial than harmful, and that the future appears to be quite secure". - LRK

Creative Commons. Defining "Noncommercial"  San Francisco, CA: Creative Commons Corporation, September 2009.( - Creative Commons licenses have been a godsend to creators who wish to allow some uses of their works. CC licenses can only work, however, if creators and users are in agreement as to extent of the licensing terms. This study investigates what creators and users mean by "noncommercial," a limitation that is found in two-thirds of CC licenses. The surprising results are that while there is some level of general agreement about the meaning of the term, "there is more uncertainty than clarity around whether specific uses of online content are commercial or noncommercial." While the report seems to be quite comfortable with this ambiguity, I have to wonder whether confusion over fundamental terms in licenses won't eventually hinder CC's core mission of facilitating the legal reuse of content. - PH

Herring, Mark. "Reviews in History: E-Books Special Reviews in History  (792-795)(September 2009)( - While ostensibly long reviews of four electronic resources, Mark Herring offers in reality an assessment of the current state and likely future of electronic monographs and sources in the humanities. His reviews of the Gutenberg-e project and ACLS's Humanities-e Books are particularly thoughtful (though the former would have been aided by reference to the Waters and Meisel report). Anyone interested in the role of electronic monographs and ebook readers in the humanities would do well to consider Herring's concerns. - PH

King, David Lee. "Building the Digital Branch: Guidelines to Transform Your Website"  Library Technology Reports  46(6)(August/September 2009) - As my library ponders its options for a new look and feel for our website, I was pleased to get the current copy of Library Technology Reports written by David Lee King. "Building the Digital Branch: Guidelines to Transform Your Website" takes us through the planning, implementation, and assessment phases of creating a new home for our libraries on the Internet. Topics include the explaining the differences between a digital branch and a website; staffing your digital branch; choosing a content management system; creating a style guide; and keeping things fresh. A must read for anyone involved in library website design, content, or maintenance. - KC

Nichols, Jane, Alison M.  Bobal, and Susan  McEvoy. "Using a Permanent Usability Team to Advance User-Centered Design in LibrariesElectronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship  10(2)(Summer 2009)( - Best practices for designing or redesigning a website indicate that we should always do some usability testing, and many larger libraries run a variety of tests throughout the process. But how many have considered making usability testing a regular function? Oregon State University has had a usability team since 2006, when it was formed to conduct testing on a new metasearch system. Since then, the team has tested several different interfaces (ranging from chat boxes to digital libraries) using a variety of methods. The team uses a model where every member works on every project, but levels of participation vary. The team consists of staff throughout the library. Only two members -- the web coordinator and a programmer -- are considered permanent; others rotate on and off, some spending a year or two on the team, and others joining to work on a particular project. This makeup helps to ensure both continuity and consistency, but also affords a way for the group to more easily facilitate communication for any given project by pulling aboard a member of that department. OSU has found that this model has caused an awareness of usability to permeate the culture at the library, to the point where usability testing is conducted when almost any new service -- "web or otherwise" -- is introduced. Overall, this appears to be a successful model, though it may not be feasible for smaller libraries to create a permanent team. - AC

Waller, Vivienne. "The Relationship Between Public Libraries and Google: Too Much InformationFirst Monday  14(9)(7 September 2009)( - Waller uses personal relationship terms to characterize the relationship between libraries and Google. She posits that this relationship began as a "romance", then "cracks appeared", "we want different things", and finally coming to the need to "negotiate" a new relationship. If you can get beyond the analogy and the fact that characterizing this as a relationship is like me saying I have a "relationship" with Rachel Maddow, there are some things to ponder here. Many will come as no surprise (Waller cites such well-known issues as sponsored search results, filtering in China, etc.), but it doesn't hurt for librarians to consider all of these as a piece, and consider our role within an information environment that is increasingly dominated by commercial companies that do not share our mission and goals -- despite a mission statement by one of them that appears on the face of it to co-opt our role. - RT