Current Cites

November 2011

Edited by Roy Tennant

Contributors: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Alison Cody, Peter Hirtle, Leo Robert Klein, Roy Tennant

Redefining the Academic Library  Washington, DC: Education Advisory Board, November 2011.( - This long but incredibly pithy and insightful presentation does an excellent job of summarizing the challenges academic libraries face and also some potential responses to those challenges. Although I doubt that this presentation was intended to be out "in the wild" rather than behind the login that the casual user faces at the Education Advisory Board web site, out in the wild it is so I'm going to call attention to it. Even without the presenter's notes, the slides have enough content to them that the intent is plain -- to see the situation of academic libraries clearly and without rose-tinted lenses, and to offer innovative responses. This is one of the single best sources for this kind of guidance I've seen in a long time, and I don't say that merely because it draws upon the work of some of my colleagues at OCLC. If you work in an academic library, you need to read this, take it to heart, and act. - RT

Crow, Raym, October  Ivins, and Allyson  Mower, et. al.Library Publishing Services: Strategies for Success. Research Report, Version 1.0, November 1, 2011  Washington, DC: SPARC, 2011.( - Starting in the late 1980's with e-journals such as the University of Houston Libraries' The Public-Access Computer Systems Review, academic libraries have been pioneers in digital publishing, gradually adding e-books and electronic conference proceedings to a growing list of published types of material. In the last decade, this trend has gained significant momentum, driven by a perceived need to reform the scholarly communication system and by the growing success of the open access movement. This draft report summarizes the findings of the Library Publishing Services: Strategies for Success project, which was conducted by the libraries of Purdue University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Utah. It was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Berkeley Electronic Press, and Microsoft Research. The project had four major activities: "1) a survey of librarians designed to provide an overview of current practice for library publishing programs (led by consultant October Ivins); 2) a report presenting best practice case studies of the publishing programs at the partner institutions (written by consultant Raym Crow); 3) a series of workshops held at each participating institution to present and discuss the findings of the survey and case studies; and 4) a review of the existing literature on library publishing services." - CB

Foss, Elizabeth, Allison  Druin, and Robin  Brewer, et. al."Children’s Search Roles at Home: Implications for Designers, Researchers, Educators, and ParentsJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology  (18 November 2011 (Early View))( - The authors of this article explored the search process that children ages 7, 9 and 11 go through when using the internet to find information. Researchers visited 83 children from public schools to conduct in-home search exercises and interviews with the children and their parents. Children were asked to perform two self-generated search tasks, and then presented with three specific questions meant to assess their skills and thought process. Using transcripts and recordings, the researchers identified several different search roles that children took on. These included Domain Specific Searchers, who had developed a body of knowledge around a topic of interest and exhibited good search skills while looking for information on that topic, but could not apply those skills to other topics; Power Searchers, who showed an understanding of the features and functions of the search engine; and Rule Bound Searchers, who were unwilling to deviate from previously established search patterns. The authors identified several interesting trends around age groups, including reasons for searching and for stopping a search, and who influenced their search techniques. They also found that children were frustrated by problems stemming from mechanics, such as spelling, but that they weren't using tools meant to assist with these problems, like spelling suggestions. The study highlights interesting shifts in children's search process as they age, and identifies several different search styles. - AC

Hubble, Ann, Deborah A  Murphy, and Susan Chesley  Perry. "From Static and Stale to Dynamic and Collaborative: The Drupal DifferenceInformation Technology and Libraries  30(4)(December 2011): 190-197. ( - Interesting snapshot of an important yet typical transition that many institutions are making at the moment from static web pages to content management systems. Part of the attraction of this account is its honesty. The authors stress both the good and bad parts of their experience: Resources were limited. Everyone had other responsibilities. A couple of times they preface their sentences with, "if we could start over..." Drupal, their CMS of choice, had a 'steep learning curve' but their requirement, namely, to serve as the front end for databases and subject guides in addition to the usual things an automated website offers, was hardly trivial. In the end, they proved equal to the task though it is clear they still have a few kinks to iron out. - LRK

Library of Congress. Copyright Office, . Legal Issues in Mass Digitization : A Preliminary Analysis and Discussion Document  Washington, D.C.: Copyright Office, 31 October 2011.( - In the aftermath of the court's rejection of the amended settlement in the Google Books lawsuit, the Copyright Office has prepared a description of the legal issues involved in mass digitization projects. The document consists of questions and issues rather than answers, though two elements stand out. First, with regard to use of orphan works in mass digitization projects, the Copyright Office rejects the principles it espoused in its earlier Orphan Works Report, concluding instead in this analysis that "As a practical matter, the issue of orphan works cannot reasonably be divorced from the issue of licensing." It is not explained why it is necessary to license works whose copyright owners cannot be found, who would pay the licensing fees, or to whom the license fees would be paid. Most of all, the report generates new admiration for the rejected settlement. The settlement proposed creative solutions to most of the issues that the report raises. One has to wonder if in retrospect the cultural community will not view the collapse of the settlement and the likely subsequent decade of inertia as a lost opportunity. - PH

Lombardi, Victor. "When Rebooting A Project, Throw Out The Bathwater But Keep The BabyFast Company Design  (28 November 2011)( - This brief but important advice piece uses an example of how BMW fixed an automobile design feature that didn't work well for customers. Rather than scrapping it entirely and starting from scratch, they kept what worked and replaced what didn't. "The lesson is this: Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater," Lombardi asserts, "but make sure you throw out the bathwater...What's the bathwater? It's the features that don't work well or that barely anyone uses. It's the part of the design that's confusing, frustrating, or simply extraneous. It's the stuff that customers don't like, adds too much complexity to the product, and causes maintenance problems and customer-support pain..." This is a lesson worth remembering the next time you're faced with a failed project. - RT

Ouellette, Dana. "Subject Guides in Academic Libraries: A User-Centred Study of Uses and PerceptionsCanadian Journal of Information and Library Science  35(4)(December 2011): 226-241. ( - The current issue of "Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science" has a pretty decent swath of articles on a variety of subjects including this one on student use (or non-use as the case might be) of subject guides. Frankly, we have been here before. Students don't use subject guides unless they have to, either because they are completely unfamiliar with the topic or because their instructor tells them. Even then, they use the guides primarily for articles. As one student explains, "Unless I really need more information, I just go straight to databases." Short and sweet is their preference. Too many tabs confuse them. One tab for articles and another for e-journals confuses them. The author recommends that practitioners "conduct usability testing with their client group". Elsewhere in this issue are articles on how to study the use of public spaces, on the nature of patron uncertainty and its implication for information professionals and finally, an article that begins its discussion of 'innovation' in libraries by mentioning a book called, "Theory of Economic Development and Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy". Quite a collection. - LRK

Wall, Kay L.. "Clemson's Road MapLibrary Journal  (15 November 2011)( - A good article and accompanying sidebars on a planning process Clemson University Library undertook to dramatically revise how it uses the space they manage. Why? "The bricks and mortar of academic libraries are seemingly permanent," writes Wall, "yet the activities and services they are designed to deliver have been radically transformed in recent years." The story of how they put together a plan to meet those different needs can serve as a useful case study for any large library needing to rethink its use of space. Do not miss the excellent sidebars, which appear below the main article on the LJ web site. They are chock-full of useful guidance for any library contemplating such an activity. - RT