Current Cites

April 2012

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

Carr, Nicholas. "The Library of UtopiaTechnology Review  (May/June 2012)( - The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has received much attention and support, and it behooves all of us to watch closely what it is attempting to do. But after reading this overview of DPLA, one is left puzzling why so much time, energy, excitement, and money have gone into the initiative. Given the complexities of copyright law and publishing business models, the only thing it seems likely to be able to deliver in the near term is a search engine that coordinates the digitization activities of others. This could be valuable, but it is far from the dreams of the DPLA's founders. Nevertheless, if someone asks for a brief overview of the DPLA and what it hopes to achieve, Carr's article will be an excellent place to start. - PH

Cohen, Daniel J., and Joan F.  Troyano. "A Community-Sourced JournalJournal of Digital Humanities  1(1)(Winter 2011)( - The Journal of Digital Humanities, as this introductory editorial explains, is an experiment in altering the production of peer-reviewed journals. All of the articles in it first appeared on the open web and were among the resources highlighted on the Digital Humanities Now web site as an “Editors’ Choice.” From that subset, those articles that were of greatest influence as measured by interest, transmission, and response were selected for formal publication in the journal. The implications of this model of academic publishing are interesting to ponder. Tim Hitchcock in a “post-endum” to his article on “Academic History Writing and its Disconnects” discusses one issue. He notes that the original blog posting on which the article is based was written in his “normal ‘ranting’ voice,” but that publication forced him to change the voice to a different form: “more distant, more careful, more ‘academic…’.” He worries that the transition may have destroyed all the fun of the original. The journal is full of other interesting articles, but I suspect its real value will reside in being a laboratory in which the future of peer-reviewed scholarship in an age of social media can be refined. - PH

Hoeppner, Athena. "The Ins and Outs of Evaluating Web-Scale Discovery ServicesComputers in Libraries  32(3)(April 2012)( - If the title leaves you wondering what "web-scale" means, particularly in the library context, see Marshall Breeding's Jan/Feb. column in this same magazine, where he discusses the term and its use in library automation. Basically it means a single place to search all of the content a library owns or licenses, implemented "in the cloud" as a locally branded central service. In this piece, Hoeppner explains this and more in greater detail and leads the reader through some of the major offerings in this area and what to look for, including such things as differences in the way items are indexed. Recommended for all librarians, but those not charged with selecting such systems should feel free to drop off when the going gets detailed. - RT

Mathews, Brian. Think Like a Startup  (3 April 2012)( - This provocative paper invites libraries to "think like a startup" -- that is, to throw out old assumptions and start with first principles. Mathews writes that he frequently reminds his staff "Don't think about better vacuum cleaners, think about cleaner floors." That kind of thinking, he asserts, can lead to breakthroughs in user service. Rather than tweaking our existing services, he seeks the kind of broader, systemic change that can only come from throwing off the shackles of how we've always done things in the past. Although you may hesitate to be admonished to fix your ways of working, don't make the mistake of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are suggestions here that bear action. A few of my favorites: "Now is not the time to find new ways of doing the same old thing," "Don't just expand services, solve problems," "The library is a platform, not a place, website, or person," "Libraries need less assessment and more R&D," and "Build a strategic culture, not a strategic plan". Don't let the full span of what he proposes overwhelm you - pick one thing and see what it can do for your library and those you serve. You might be surprised. - RT

Ramdeen, Sarah, and Bradley M.  Hemminger. "A Tale of Two Interfaces: How Facets Affect the Library Catalog SearchJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology  63(4)(April 2012): 702-715. ( - In this study, the authors had 40 freshmen compare two interfaces to access the library catalog at the University of North Carolina - one with facets, and one without. Three types of search tasks were used: a known item search, a partially known item search, and an unknown item search. Students performed three of each type of task on each interface, for a total of 18 searches per subject. The researchers found that the searches performed on the faceted interface were completed more quickly, and that students were more confident in the accuracy of the results. The facets were particularly useful for the more exploratory searches, where students employed them both to adjust their results, and also to verify that they were on the right track. Almost all of the students indicated a preference for the faceted interface, but several noted that they wouldn't have used it if they hadn't had a training session. This underscores a continuing need to point out that faceting exists, and perhaps to also briefly explain how it might be useful. - AC

Swan, Alma. Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Open Access  Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2012.( - Although the title of this UNESCO report suggests a fairly narrow treatment of open access issues, it actually provides a broad overview of open access topics in its first six sections. Three sections and two appendices are specifically devoted to open access promotion or policy guidelines. Since Alma Swan is a noted expert on open access issues, the report is a very good overview, and, given the range of material it covers, it is very concise. Readers who want such an overview of the current state of open access need look no further. Institutions who are considering adopting an open access policy will find the "Policy Framework for Open Access" and the "Summary Policy Guidelines" sections to be quite helpful. - CB