Current Cites

December 2013

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

Chapman, Suzanne, Shevon  Desai, and Kat  Hagedorn, et. al."Manually Classifying User Search Queries on an Academic Library Web SiteJournal of Web Librarianship   7(4)(2013): 401-421. ( - Most libraries have search boxes on their home page. Exactly how they are used is critically important in determining the effectiveness of our websites are as a whole. Normal practice is to look at the top, say, 10 percent of queries but that leaves out, as the authors remind us, the other 90 percent. This 'long tail' as they put it, is the focus of their study. They proceed to take a random sampling of all queries made over a 4 month period. They then develop a classification scheme ('database', 'exploratory', etc.) and try to assign each query to a specific category. The system needs refinement but the results demonstrate a significantly altered picture of user priorities (eg. fewer 'known item' searches, more 'exploratory' searches). Interesting work. Note, the article is part of a special issue devoted to 'Data-Driven Decision Making'. - LRK

Cobus-Kuo, Laura, Ron  Gilmour, and Paul  Dickson. "Bringing in the Experts: Library Research Guide Usability Testing in a Computer Science ClassEvidence Based Library and Information Practice  8(4)(2013): 43-59. ( - In this article, the authors describe a usability study of library research guides conducted in conjunction with a human-computer interaction (HCI) course. The library's web team worked with the professor to create an assignment that required students to participate in the study as both a subject and an analyst. After the data was collected, the students presented their analysis and worked with the web team in small groups and as a whole to develop best practices for the research guides. Overall, the study found that students wanted the guides to be consistent and to be better organized. They liked a feature that gave them a short list of the best databases to use for the given topic, and quick links and embedded search boxes. As a result of the study, a set of standard practices were instituted to insure that guides are consistent and students can easily find what they identified as the most useful types of information. As HCI and other web design classes are likely to include a usability component, it may be possible to replicate this study at many institutions. - AC

Erway, Ricky. Starting the Conversation: University-wide Research Data Management Policy  Dublin, Ohio: OCLC, 2013.( - In short order, academic research libraries have found themselves front and center in the debate about how to manage research data to comply with funder mandates and institutional objectives. This report about research data management policies is aimed at library directors, but it is well worth reading by other library professionals who will be playing a support role in research data management efforts. It overviews types of research data management stakeholders, includes a number of checklist questions for them to consider, and offers a suggestion about how to get a university-wide dialog going. - CB

Head, Alison J. Learning the Ropes: How Freshmen Conduct Course Research Once They Enter College  Seattle, WA: Project Information Literacy, 5 December 2013.( - Since 2008, Project Information Literacy has been exploring the research practices of college students. Many of their past reports have warranted mention in Current Cites, and the latest study is no exception. It concludes that the the Google-centric search skills that worked for most freshmen in high school are not sufficient in college, and many students end up feeling overwhelmed. Librarians and first-year writing classes are identified as important resources for learning new research skills, but more can be done. The report concludes with four recommendations on how to address the identified problems. This should be required reading for any librarian teaching first-year college students; at a minimum, watch the preview video. - PH

Lown, Cory, Tito  Sierra, and Josh  Boyer. "How Users Search the Library From a Single Search BoxCollege & Research Libraries  74(3)(May 2013): 227 - 241. ( - Web analytics and search logs are critical tools for libraries to analyze how users navigate, what they search for, and when and where they appear to be getting lost. The North Carolina State University library is fortunate in having staff capable of creating "a homegrown, combined search application called QuickSearch." (p. 231) Developing the application themselves allowed improvements that could be customized for their resources and users based on data collected in previous versions. QuickSearch was implemented before the adoption of Summon, producing a valuable comparison of search box usage with and without a discovery platform. After reviewing the literature on single search boxes before and after the advent of federated search and discovery platforms, the authors present data confirming that researchers often do not use single search boxes in a way anticipated by librarians. They conclude that "[n]ew information resources, such as discovery platforms, have the potential to improve the user experience of library search, but only if we understand how to integrate these tools with other services and information resources so that they are useful and understandable." (p. 240) - NN

Miller, Larisa K. "All Text Considered: A Perspective on Mass Digitizing and Archival ProcessingThe American Archivist  76(2)(Fall/Winter 2013): 521–541. ( - Archival processing has long been a procedure where holdings are described at a collection level with a "finding aid" of varying depth and detail, depending on the collection and the time available for processing. "This article," Miller states in the abstract, "explores the idea of coupling robust collection-level descriptions to mass digitization and optical character recognition to provide full-text search of unprocessed and backlogged modern collections, bypassing archival processing and the creation of finding aids." This is no small claim, as following this path would stand present archival practice on its head. Rather than describing the collection in summary form and perhaps digitizing some representative samples, Miller suggests allowing the digitized collection to reveal itself. Not being an archivist myself, I won't presume to predict how the archival community will react to such an idea, but the reaction of the users of such collections would almost certainly be "Right on!". Highly recommended for any archivist. - RT

Peters, Diane. "CC’s Next Generation Licenses — Welcome Version 4.0!Commons News  (25 November 2013)( - Creative Commons licenses have become some of the most important resources in the digital toolbox. After two years of community discussions, new versions of the licenses have been released. The changes are subtle but important. They include licensing of data base rights in those countries that have them; refinement of the attribution requirement; greater international coverage; and a provision that allows one to correct mistakes in usage that might otherwise invalidate one's license. Some of the more radical suggestions, such as doing away with the non-commercial licenses because they do little to advance open culture and are misunderstood by most people who use them, were rejected. Since new versions rarely appear, this would be a good time to sit down with the new licenses and their background documents (especially "What's New in Version 4" and the summary of the policy decisions behind the new licenses) to ensure that one fully understands the mechanics and limitations of Creative Commons licensing. - PH

Salo, Dorothea. "Linked Data in the CreasesLibrary Journal  (12 December 2013)( - I've seen enough of Salo's work that when she pens an article or makes a presentation, I pay attention. She almost invariably makes me see something new that I hadn't considered, and this time is no exception. Fresh from a talk at the Semantic Web in Libraries 2013 meeting in Germany, Salo urges us to look beyond the Library of Congress BIBFRAME initiative, which is hampered by the limitations and challenges of the MARC environment. "Linked data shines most where diverse sources and types of data are forced to rub elbows," she asserts, "an increasing pain point for many libraries trying to make one-stop-shopping discovery layers and portals." There is much more here than I can cover in a brief synopsis, so you are urged to read the entire piece. But I leave you with one more quote: "Linked data will grow in the creases, the folds, the cracks of our notoriously rickety metadata edifices. It will often grow in the dark unnoticed, shielded by its champions...As it quietly solves stubborn problems, empowers our smallest libraries, and connects institutions big and small with the larger web, linked data will remake more and more library data in its image—and if good interface-design practices come along for the ride, no one ever has to know!" - RT

Schonfeld, Roger C. Stop the Presses: Is the Monograph Headed toward an E-only Future?  New York: Ithaka S+R, 2013.( - Is the scholarly monograph in print form endangered? Will it be replaced by digital monographs? In this issue brief, Roger C. Schonfeld, Program Director for Libraries, Users, and Scholarly Practices at Ithaka S+R, analyzes the state of scholarly monograph publishing and summarizes some key research on e-book use, long-form reading (i.e., cover-to-cover reading of a book), and e-books as discovery tools. He also touches upon transformational aspects of e-books, such as incorporation of digital media, and digital dissertations. He concludes "Digital versions of monographs have made some of these ways of using books much more efficient, but in other ways they cannot yet measure up to the codex. . . .Whatever the future may bring, the transition for scholarly monographs away from the print-only world seems likely to be longer and more complex than it was for academic journals." - CB

Vance, Jason. "Staplercide! The Lives and Deaths of Academic Library StaplersCollege & Research Libraries News  74(11)(December 2013): 570-572. ( - Amusing discussion of an aspect, or perhaps the better word is ‘accessory’, of public service that is as necessary as it is strangely neglected in the literature, namely, the front desk stapler. The author bemoans the short shelf-life of these tools. He indignantly discusses the abuse they have to endure. He employs analytics to measure their lifespan (average 15.3 days) and celebrates their short time on this earth through a touching gallery on Tumblr. They are made to be used, he concludes, echoing a well known library authority. - LRK

Wallis, Richard. "Schema Bib ExtendInformation Standards Quarterly  25(4)(Winter 2013): 30-32. ( - OCLC's "Technology Evangelist" in the UK, Richard Wallis, offers a summary of an alternative to MARC now available to make library offerings more findable on the Web. The author formed the group Schema Bib Extend to "... deliver some consistency of output across the domain" (p. 32) of bibliographic records described using the shared markup vocabulary of Traditional library classification is very "bibliographic specific" (p. 31), and the recognizable English language item types and item properties in allow "search engines and other applications [to] better understand your content and display it in a useful, relevant way." ("Getting started with") A list of further resources provided at the end of the article will help novice coders sort out the differences between metadata and meta tags, or between metadata and microdata. - NN