Current Cites

May 2013

Edited by Roy Tennant

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

Deepspeed media. Internet Archive  Vimeo: Deepspeed media, March 2013.( - It is hard to imagine life without the Internet Archive. But when using the Wayback Machine or one of its other virtual services, it is easy to forget that there is a physical side to the repository as well. A brief recent note in The Atlantic directed me to this short video made in honor of the 10 Petabyte celebration that was held in the former Christian Science church that is home to the Internet Archive last October. It provides a visual and physical context for the services of the Internet Archive, from the highly successful (web site storage, TV capture, book scanning) to the misguided (book storage). I expected lots of images of impressive server rooms. Instead there are many scenes of staff working in spaces that are quieter and more reverent than almost any current physical library. The great truths in the piece are Brewster Kahle's observations that preservation is driven by access, that without the latter you cannot have the former, and that having multiple copies of items can help ensure their survival. While I agree with Brewster, I do wonder about the wisdom of having copies of the Internet Archive sitting on the San Andreas fault, below sea level in the Netherlands, and in Alexandria, Egypt (site of the most famous destroyed library of all time). - PH

Glance, David G., Martin  Forsey, and Myles  Riley. "The Pedagogical Foundations of Massive Open Online CoursesFirst Monday  18(5-6)(6 May 2013)( - In this article, the authors look at the pedagogical foundations of some of the learning activities typically used in MOOCs. They identified several characteristics - the online mode of delivery in general, use of online quizzes and assessments, short videos with quizzes, peer and self-assessment activities, short videos, and online forums. They then searched for studies that looked at the efficacy of each of these types of learning activities - not necessarily in pure online classes, but rather assessing them in general. Overall, the authors found that because the learning activities are the same as those being used in other, smaller, online learning environments, the pedagogical basis for their use is sound and the experience is in this aspect most likely equivalent to taking a similar course face-to-face. - AC

Harmon, Charles, and and Michael  Messina, eds. Using Social Media in Libraries: Best Practices    Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2013. - A diverse set of eight librarians chronicle the uses of social media in different types of libraries. In the introduction, Walt Crawford warns about avoiding some of the pitfalls, such as being attracted only by the allure of the new and "shiny:" ... [S]tarting a Pinterest presence because it's the hot new tool and you've heard how great it is for libraries -- that's falling for the shiny." In the foreword, Laura Solomon shares the perspective she gained as author of the 2011 ALA Special Report, Doing Social Media So It Matters. After reading about some of the difficulties libraries have had to overcome to implement social media, librarians may need the encouragement provided in the final line: "... [Expect] challenges and rewards, but overall have fun! That's what social technology is all about." No library should attempt to implement social media without reading this book, the ALA Report, or at least one similar book which outlines the planning needed to create a successful social media presence. - NN

Kim, Bohyun. "Keeping Up With...GamificationKeeping Up With...  (2)(May 2013)( - "Gamification" means turning something that previously was not a game (for example, learning to use a library) into one. The idea is that by adding fun to a previously dull task you can increase participation and learning. The term has been used fairly widely in the literature outside of librarianship, but has only relatively recently found its way into libraries. This current awareness piece provides a quick overview of gamification as it might apply to libraries, as well as links to a number of additional resources for further investigation. It's also worth noting that this is the second in a new monthly series from ACRL, with the first being on Digital Humanities. This series appears to be worth watching. - RT

Kyrillidou, Martha. "Research Library Trends: A Historical Picture of Services, Resources, and SpendingResearch Library Issues: A Quarterly Report from ARL, CNI, and SPARC  (280)(2012): 20-27. ( - This article presents an interesting analysis of selected key trends in ARL libraries from 1986-2011 (or for shorter periods in that time frame). An analysis of service trends in the 1991-2011 period reveals a drop of 10% in total staff, 29% in total circulation, and a whopping 65% in reference transactions. Meanwhile, ILL was up 158% in the same period, but it has started to drop in recent years. From 1986-2011 serials expenditures soared 402%. There has been "a sharp growth every year of the past two decades in electronic materials expenditures, anywhere between two and ten times faster than total materials expenditures have grown." However, this trend seems to be decelerating. Starting with the forthcoming 2011–2012 statistics, ARL has stopped collecting specific data on serials, monographs, or electronic resources expenditures. Instead it collects data for "one-time purchases and continuing purchases (i.e., subscriptions) irrespective of the format of the publication." Goodbye "serials crisis," hello "continuing purchases" crisis. - CB

LeBlanc, Paul J. "Thinking about Accreditation in a Rapidly Changing WorldEDUCAUSE Review Online  48(2)(1 April 2013)( - Articles predicting the end of the world as we know it should always be taken with a grain of salt but that doesn't mean they aren't fun to read. Caught in the cross-hairs of this article are faculty and institutions of higher learning whose function, according to the author, has remained largely unchanged "since the cathedral schools of medieval Europe". Manifestations of online learning such as MOOCs and in particular, CBE (competency-based education) mean that faculty can increasingly remain independent of institutions and that the institutions themselves may lose their "monopoly on delivery models". These changes in turn require regulatory agencies to rethink accreditation, placing more emphasis on performance and shifting the focus to "outputs instead of inputs". - LRK

Oettler, Alexandra. PDF/A In A Nutshell 2.0: PDF For Long-Term Archiving  Berlin, Germany: PDF/A Association, 6 May 2013.( - In 2003, Roy Tennant highlighted in Current Cites a new initiative to develop a stable subset of the PDF format that would not rely on external sources. This updated publication from the PDF/A Association provides a brief overview of the history and characteristics of the format, including its latest iteration, PDF/A-3. The report's purpose is to foster the use of PDF/A as a format, but it is fair in its assessment of the format's strengths and weaknesses. Preservation experts will want to consider more detailed analyses of PDF/A-3, but if you want an quick introduction to PDF/A, this is an excellent place to start. - PH

Sonsteby, Alec, and Jennifer  DeJonghe. "Usability Testing, User-Centered Design, and LibGuides Subject Guides: A Case StudyJournal of Web Librarianship  7(1)(Jan-Mar 2013): 83-94. ( - Roy Tennant may have given librarians a dispensation to not learn HTML ( "Why You Should Not Learn HTML", The Digital Shift, March 5, 2013), but we still have to contend with Web design and, most problematic, Web design within content management systems. LibGuides were designed to excuse librarians from learning HTML and this article highlights the trade-off. Librarians must guard against allowing easy construction methods to ultimately produce confused users. Page creators can be captured by the technology: because the software offers tabbed pages and boxes, we create tabs and boxes. Because it is easy to insert links, we insert a lot of links. On page 89, the authors summarize eight very useful things they learned in their user testing. The news that some users do not even see those lovely tabs we create has the potential to induce serious cases of takotsubo syndrome (broken heart) among librarians. Fortunately, this article and the resources in the References list provide tools to help us fix the problem. - NN