The end of an era — goodbye to Jim Michalko

Today is the day when we say goodbye to our leader and colleague Jim Michalko. Rather than wallowing in our loss, we’d like this post to celebrate Jim’s accomplishments and acknowledge his many wonderful qualities.

Jim Michalko February 2016

Jim Michalko February 2016

Before OCLC, Jim was the president of the Research Libraries Group. He came to RLG from the administration team at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries in 1980. In those relatively early days of library automation, RLG was very much a chaotic start up. Jim, with both a MLS and an MBA, came on as the business manager and as part of the senior administrative team helped to get the organization on more stable footing. He was named RLG president in 1989.

In 2006, Jim once again played a key role in a time of uncertainty, helping to bring RLG into the OCLC fold. This included both integrating RLG data assets into OCLC services and bringing forward programmatic activities into OCLC Research. A key part of those programmatic activities is collaboration with the research library community, and the OCLC Research Library Partnership is a key component in driving our work agenda. Under Jim’s leadership, the Partnership has grown from 110 in 2006 to over 170 institutions now, including libraries at 25 of the top 30 universities in the Times Higher Education World University rankings.

Jim is a wise and gentle leader with a sardonic sense of humor. We’ve appreciated his ability to foster experimentation (and his patience while those experiments played out), his willingness to get obstacles out of our way so that we can get our work done, his tolerance of our quirks and other personal qualities, and his ability to maximize our strengths.

Jim’s retirement is part of a larger story that is playing out in the larger research library community as those who have overseen generations of change in technology, education, and policy are moving on. We will honor these leaders by following in their footsteps, while reminding ourselves that the path they set was marked by innovation.


Celebrate Fair Use Week – by not getting in the way

It’s Fair Use Week and lots of libraries are getting on board, offering workshops, infographics, tips, and drop in office hours that are all geared towards encouraging fair use of copyrighted materials. For some awesome examples, check out the #fairuseweek2016 hash tag on Twitter.

This is great and good activity but also a reminder (to me) that all too often, libraries, archives, and museums can be unnecessary gatekeepers when it comes to cultural heritage. We blogged about this last year and pointed to Michelle Light’s talk Controlling Goods or Promoting the Public Good: Choices for Special Collections in the Marketplace — this article calls for for an end to inappropriate control of intellectual property rights, and calls for us to change our practices around charging permission fees for use of archival materials.

Boy Scouts - With giant American flag. From The New York Public Library,

Boy Scouts – With giant American flag. From The New York Public Library,

Earlier this year, and with much fanfare, the New York Public Library announced that they had released digital access to their public domain materials, making it easy for the public to use and reuse more than 180,000 digitized items. This was an important milestone to be sure, but perhaps hidden amidst the excitement about “free for all” was the fact that NYPL also does not put restrictions around use of materials that are in copyright or where copyright status is unknown. They have provided a nice request that you credit NYPL and link back to the item in NYPL Digital Collections (and, they make it dead easy to get that link in their system).

So, as you cook up your own celebrations during Fair Use Week, I encourage you to think about other ways you can empower researchers and other users, and consider how you can get out of the way in reproductions and permissions practices (and become one of the Good Guys).


Gifts for Librarians and Archivists – 2015 edition

For the last few years, we’ve featured a list of fun gifts for librarians and archivists. In the past, we have crowd sourced the list but this year we decided to do something a little different and invite some people to submit their gift ideas. So, if you are looking for a gift for the information professional in your life (for the holidays, or anytime, really) here are some ideas to get you started. Please add your own favorites in the comments!

Trevor Dawes, Associate University Librarian, Washington University in St. Louis

messenger bag“What librarian wouldn’t love a new bag?  Sure we collect bags at conferences, but when you want that more professional look, there’s the Visconti Foster. Drop your laptop in and you’re ready for your next meeting whether it’s down the hall or across town.”

Barbara J Ford, Mortenson distinguished professor emerita, University of Illinois

Barbara is all business and suggests the “opportunity to attend IFLA in Columbus, Ohio in August 2016 & to visit the ‘mothership’ to learn more about OCLC.” Thanks, Barbara! IFLA features not only opportunities to visit the OCLC campus, but also The Ohio State University Libraries, Columbus Metropolitan Library, and more. We’ll definitely see you in Ohio in August!

Julie Elmore, Director, Oakland City-Columbia Twp. Public Library, Oakland City, IN

tile“For those of us less organized librarians, I present the Tile App. I am forever leaving my keys (and other things) in an office somewhere and I love my Tile!  Now when it’s time to go home, but my car keys were left in genealogy when I first came in the door, I press a button on my phone and they ring until I find them.

“Last year my husband made me a themed basket of hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Works. What made it great was he selected only scents that were vacation related (e.g. Caribbean Escape, Honolulu Sun, and various island drinks).  Knowing that we come in contact with lots of, well, potentially germy items, and knowing that all library people deserve an island vacation, he felt it was a perfect merger!

“Over the top gift…. I love my Varidesk. It allows me the freedom to stand or sit at my workspace and requires very little effort in the way to switch it back and forth.  A simple squeeze on the levers and it quickly goes from standing to sitting mode.  Combined with a free app you can download onto your desktop, you can rotate the frequency of your positioning.” [Editorial note — I have a Varidesk and I love it!]

Mike Furlough, Executive Director of HathiTrust

Mike suggests and has the iPhone app (the website says that the Android app is coming as well). “You can pay once and get access to all of the sound generators.  If nothing else, it’s a fun way to kill some time while on a plane.  No one has yet created a generator for a library reading room.  But I find the airport background noise oddly comforting.”

Joe Janes, Associate Professor, University of Washington Information School

desk set“What could be better than the only romantic comedy ever made about library automation?  That can mean nothing other than Desk Set, from 1957, available on DVD and Blu-RayA minor Hepburn & Tracy film, to be sure, but who can resist Kate’s enthusiasm, professionalism, feminism, and silver lame party dress?  The movie that made a lot of us want to be librarians.”


Ann Thornton, University Librarian and Vice Provost, Columbia University

Ann has a lovely practice of giving “honor gifts” to members of her management team. “They are so dedicated, and it is nice to honor them with a gift that further supports their work.” Ann explains that “the staff member receives a brief written acknowledgement that a donation was made in his/her honor along with a message that is both a thank you for hard work and an expression of best wishes in the coming year…. Most universities have easy ways to donate online — some even save your credit card information. And those gifts can be easily directed to the libraries or even specific library divisions or programs.”

Scott Walter, University Librarian, DePaul University

Scott suggests the The Querkywriter blutooth keyboard“It’s been 25 years since I actually wrote on a typewriter, but they still figure in my household decorating scheme. Like my Book Book, which always draws attention in a library crowd, I’m hoping to bring past and present together with this new wireless keyboard. Maybe even edge a bit toward steampunk…”

David Wright, Reader Services Division, The Seattle Public Library

due date“Librarians and library lovers seeking a subtle way to signal their love of books in those rare moments when not reading one will draw plenty of envious comments for this Library Card Smartphone Cover – it’s a great conversation starter.

“Between Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps (which contains that gorgeously detailed Map of Literature that went viral this year), and Andrew DeGraff’s brilliant, thoughtful Plotted: A Literary Atlas​, it has been a wonderful season for literary infographics – great books to pass around the holiday gathering to delight readers and non-readers alike.”

Many thanks to colleagues Jim Michalko, Jennifer Peterson and Roy Tennant who made the necessary contacts to help with this post!


What is your library mission statement or manifesto?

For an upcoming event, I am working with a speaker who is not from the library world. He asked, “is there a commonly held mission statement or manifesto that would resonate with all librarians?” Good question…

On our own website, we talk about OCLC’s mission and purpose. (I’ve added the emphasis here and elsewhere):

Libraries fuel learning, research and innovation. Together we make breakthroughs possible. Both big and small. Whether we’re supporting advancements on the leading edge of science or helping children build a strong learning foundation, shared knowledge is the common thread. People can find the answers they need to solve important problems in their lives, in their communities and in the world.

The American Library Association (ALA) has a distilled core values of librarianship which is easier to point to than to reproduce in full but in glancing at this, providing access is front and center. This is tied up with concepts like democracy, education and lifelong learning, intellectual freedom, and social responsibility. But access comes first.

I also found this from the Urban Libraries Council, a word cloud made up from member libraries’ mission statements – the Urban Libraries Council of course represents large public libraries in the US and Canada.

Mission Cloud from the Urban Libraries Council

I also asked colleagues, who supplied some great suggestions.

  • Eric Childress nominated S. R. Ranganathan’s “five laws of library science.” (Of course, my colleagues Lynn Connaway and Ixchel Faniel recently “reordered” those laws).
  • Jim Michalko pointed me to the Association for Research Libraries’ text mined corpus of strategic plans, which may help to show where commonalities are for collaborative investment. Terms that were common among many of the plans include: research, learn, teach, collaborate, create, innovate. 
  • Ricky Erway reminded me of our 2009 Support for the Research Process: An Academic Library Manifesto which urges research libraries to remain relevant in support of scholarly research and publishing.
  • Roy Tennant nominated David Lankes’ formulation, “The Mission of Librarians is to Improve Society through Facilitating Knowledge Creation in their Communities” as well as his own further distillation, “The mission of librarians is to empower individuals and the communities of which they are a part.” [Roy has an entire blog post on this at the Digital Shift.]
  • Jackie Dooley proposed Andromeda Yelton’s “Libraries are really about transforming people through access to information.” (From a recent Boston Globe article.)

What is your mission statement or manifesto of choice? What guideposts do you have for your own work? Leave a comment and let us know!

Digitization challenges – a discussion in progress

Internet Archive book scanner | Wikimedia Commons

It has been some time since we hosted our Digitization Matters symposium, which led to our report, Shifting Gears. This event and findings from the surveys of archives and special collections in the US and Canada, and  the UK and Ireland have helped to shape our work in the OCLC Research Library Partnership for some time. However, we felt like enough time had gone by, and enough had changed that it was time for us to begin some new discussions in order to frame future work.

We often hear from library colleagues that they continue to experience challenges associated with digitization of collections, so earlier this month we hosted some discussions (via WebEx) to try to get a handle on what some of those challenges are. Prior to the conversations, we asked participants to characterize their digitization challenges, and then did some rough analysis on the responses. Challenges fell into a number of areas.

  • Rights issues (copyright, privacy)
  • Born Digital, web harvesting
  • Issues with digital asset management systems (DAMS) or institutional repositories (IR)
  • Storage and preservation
  • Metadata: Item-level description vs collection descriptions
  • Process management / workflow / shift from projects to programs
  • Selection – prioritizing users over curators and funders
  • Audio/Visual materials
  • Access: are we putting things where scholars can find them?

We opted not to include the first four issues in our initial discussion — copyright, and rights issues in general, are quite complicated (and with a group that includes people from Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand I’m not sure we could address it well). We have done quite a bit of work on born digital (and are currently investigating some areas related to web harvesting). At least for our first foray, discussions on DAMS and IRs seemed like they could have gone down a very tool-specific path. Likewise with storage and preservation. Even taking these juicy topics off the table, we still found we had plenty to chew on.

Metadata: Item-level description vs collection descriptions

Many of our discussion participants are digitizing archival collections — there is an inherent challenge in digitizing collections at the item or page level when the bulk of the description is at a collection level. People described “resistance” to costly item level description, and a desire to find an “adequate” aggregate description. On the other hand, there was an acknowledgement of the tension between keeping costs down and satisfying users who may have different expectations. A key here may be a more nuanced view of context — for correspondence, an archival approach may be fine. In other circumstances, not. Some institutions are digitizing collections (such as papyri) where the ability to describe the items is not resident in the library. How can we engage scholars to help us with this part of our work?

Process management / workflow / shift from projects to programs

Many institutions are still very much in project mode, looking to transition to programs. For those who have or are working towards digitization programs, there is a struggle to get stakeholders all on the same page: at some institutions, the content owners, metadata production unit, and technical teams seldom if ever come together; here, getting all parties together to establish shared expectations is essential. Some institutions are looking to establish workflows that will more effectively allow them to leverage patron-driven requests, while others are thinking about the implications of contributing content to aggregators like DPLA. One institution has started scanning with student employees — when students have a few minutes here or there, they can sit down at a scanning station and scan for 10-15 minutes — this leads to a steady stream of content.

Selection – prioritizing users over curators and funders

Many institutions are still operating under a model whereby curators or subject librarians feed the selection pool, either through a formal or informal process. Even in these models, it can be difficult to get input from all — there tend to be a small pool of people who engage in the process. At one institution, people who come with a digitization request are also asked to serve as “champions” and are expected to bring something to the project — contributing student hours to enhance metadata, for example. One institutions views selection as coming through three streams — donor initiated, vendor or commercial partner initiated, and initiated by the curatorial group (emphasizing that the three are not mutually exclusive). Another institution is looking at analytics and finding that curator initiated requests generate less online traffic than patron initiated requests. In a similar vein, a third institution is looking at what is being used in the reading room and considering making digitization requests based on that information. Even though people’s survey responses indicated that they would like to move selection more towards directly serving researchers needs, from the discussion I’d observe that few institutions have established models to do so.

Audio/Visual materials

As with born digital, everyone has A/V materials in their collection, and making them more accessible is a concern. A participant from one institution observed that they see key differences in interest for these formats — for example, filmmakers, not scholars, are the people who will seek out video. If there is a transcript for materials, that may impact demand. A/V projects tend to focus on at-risk materials, since costs are so high. Some institutions are beefing up their reformatting capacities, in anticipation of needing to act on these materials. If you are interested in this area, you will want to track the activities of the  (US based) Federal Agencies Audio-Visual Working Group.

Access: are we putting things where scholars can find them

For many institutions, aggregation is the name of the game, and thinking as a community about aggregating content is key: “Standalone silos don’t help users find our things.” Whether materials are in discovery repositories that are hosted by the institution or elsewhere, discoverability and user experience are concerns. One institution assigns students to search for materials via Google and in repositories. Are collections findable?

Thanks to all who took part in our discussions! I hope we’ll have more to report in the future.



OCLC Research Library Partnership, making a difference: part 2

I previously shared the story of Keio University, who benefited from attending our 2013 partner meeting — I wanted to share two more “member stories” which have roots in the OCLC Research Library Partnership.

OCLC member stories are being highlighted on the OCLC web page — there are many other interesting and dare I say inspiring stories shared there, so go check them out.

The scholarly record: a view from the campus

[Thanks to Geneva Henry, University Librarian and Vice Provost for Libraries at the George Washington University, for contributing this guest blog post.]

Geneva Henry, George Washington University

Geneva Henry, George Washington University

While many may think of the scholarly record as the products surrounding scholarly works that are eventually disseminated, usually through publications, there is another aspect to the scholarly record that people at academic institutions – especially administrators – care about. This can be thought of as the campus scholarly record that frames the identity of an institution. In considering this perspective, there is an even more compelling reason to consider how the many activities surrounding scholarly dissemination are captured and managed. The libraries at academic institutions are arguably the obvious leaders to assume responsibility for managing these resources; libraries have been the stewards of the scholarly record for a very long time.  But librarians must now recognize the changing nature of the elements of that record and take a proactive role in its capture and preservation. Moreover, they have a responsibility to the many campus stakeholders who have an interest in these resources for differing and sometimes conflicting purposes.

Research activities and early dissemination of findings have changed with the proliferation of social media and the Web. Scholars can exchange information via blog posts, twitter messages, Facebook posts and every other means of social media available, with feedback from colleagues helping to refine the final formal publication. The traditional methods of peer review are now being further enhanced through web-based prepublications and blogs where reviewers from anywhere can provide less formal feedback to authors. For an increasing number of scholars, social media is the new preprint. Data is posted and shared, comments are exchanged, methods are presented and questioned, revisions happen and the process can continue, even after the “formal” publication has been released in a more traditional form. This requires librarians to think about how they’re preserving their websites and social media outputs that now need to be part of the scholarly record as well as the overall campus record of scholarship.

The campus is full of stakeholders who have an interest in this new, constantly evolving record. Some would like all of this information fully exposed to publicize the work being done, while others feel that there are limits to how much should be made available for everyone to view. Systems such as VIVO and Elements provide platforms that will highlight faculty activities to provide more visibility into the research activities on campus. Sponsored research offices want insights into what people are doing so that they can match research opportunities with relevant researchers and help with identifying partners at other institutions. Media relations staff want to identify experts as media inquiries come in related to current issues happening in the world. Academic departments are interested in showcasing the scholarly record of their faculty in order to attract more graduate students and new faculty to their departments. Promotion and tenure committees want a full understanding of all of the activities of faculty members, including their service activities; increasingly, social media is blurring the line between scholarship and service as one feeds into the other.

Faculty members, the source of creating these resources, are understandably confused. Their attitudes and perceptions range from excited to worried, from protective to open. Their activities on social media do not always relate cleanly to a single scholarly record and will often be mixed with personal, non-scholarly information they may not want the world to see (e.g. pictures of their dinner, political commentaries, stories of their family vacation). This mixed landscape helps to fuel the legal concerns of an institution’s general counsel and the image consciousness of the public relations folks who are cautious about what might end up in the public with the exercising of academic freedom.

Circling back, now, to the library as the logical keeper of the academic record, it is important to realize that there is a vast range of stakeholders that the records serve. These stakeholders become partners with the library in helping to determine what information will be kept, what will be exposed and what needs to remain in restricted access. Partnerships with campus IT units that manage security and authoritative feeds from enterprise systems are critical. Sometimes some stakeholders will ask that exposed information be “redacted” from its online availability and librarians must be able to intelligently communicate the limits of successfully removing this from the world wide web.

The change in the scholarly record raises many questions and will continue to present challenges for libraries and academic institutions. As faculty change institutions, who will be responsible for managing their record of scholarship that is disseminated through social media so that it is preserved long-term? Constantly changing methods for communicating and sharing knowledge will require a scholarly record that can readily accommodate innovations. What will the scholarly record of the future be and what should be captured?  While we don’t have a crystal ball to help with this prediction, we do have a good barometer surrounding us in our libraries everyday: study your students and how they communicate.

The Evolving Scholarly Record, Washington, DC edition


Brian Lavoie, presenting in the GWU International Brotherhood of Teamsters Labor History Research Center

Brian Lavoie, presenting in the GWU International Brotherhood of Teamsters Labor History Research Center

On December 10th, we held our second Evolving Scholarly Record Workshop at George Washington University in Washington, DC (you can read Ricky Erway’s summary of the first workshop, starting here). Many thanks to Geneva Henry and all the staff at GWU for hosting us in the fabulous International Brotherhood of Teamsters Labor History Research Center.This workshop, and others, build on the framework presented in the OCLC Research report, The Evolving Scholarly Record.

Our first speaker, Brian Lavoie (OCLC Research) presented the ESR Framework and put it into context. What is considered part of the record is constantly expanding – for example, blogs and social media, which would previously not have been included. The evolution of how scholarship is recorded, makes it challenging to organize the record in a consistent and reliable ways. The ecosystem of stakeholders is evolving as well. It became clear to Brian and others involved in discussions around the problem space that a framework was necessary in order to support strategic discussions across stakeholders and across domains.

In addition to traditional scholarly outcomes, there are two additional areas of focus, process and aftermath.

Process is what leads up to the publication of the outcomes – in the framework, process is composed of method, evidence and discussion (important because outcomes usually consolidate thanks to discussions with peers). Anchoring outcomes in process will help reproducibility. Scholarly activities continue in aftermath: discussion (including post publication reviews and commentaries), revision (enhancement, clarification), re-use (including repackaging for other audiences).

In the stakeholder ecosystem, the traditional roles (create, fix, collect, use) are being reconfigured. For example, in addition to libraries, service providers like Portico and JSTOR are now important in the collect role. Social media and social storage services, which are entirely outside the academy, are now part of create and use.  New platforms, like figshare, are taking on the roles of fix and collect. The takeaway here? The roles are constant, but the configurations of the stakeholders beneath them are changing.

Our second speaker, Herbert van de Sompel (Los Alamos National Laboratory) gave perspective from the network point of view. His talk was a modified reprise of his presentation at the June OCLC / DANS workshop in Amsterdam, which Ricky nicely summarized in a previous posting. Herbert will also be speaking at our workshop coming up in March, so if you’d like to catch him in action, sign up for that session.

Our third speaker was Geneva Henry (George Washington University) – Geneva represented the view from the campus. We will be posing her viewpoint in a separate blog post, later this week but her remarks touched on the various campus stakeholders in the scholarly record – scholars, media relations, promotion and tenure committee, the office of research, the library.

Daniel Hook (Digital Science), shared his “view from the platform.” (Digital Science is the parent company of several platform services, such as FigShare, AltMetrics, Symplectic Elements, and Overleaf). Daniel stressed the importance in transparency and reproducibility of research – there is a need for a demonstrable pay-off for investors in research. There is a delicate balance to be reached in collaboration versus competition in research. We are in an era of increased collaboration and the “fourth age of research” is marked by international collaboration. Who “owns” research, and the scholarly record? Individual researchers? Their institutions? Evaluation of research increasingly calls for demonstrating impact of research. Identifiers are glue – identifiers for projects, for researchers, for institutions. The future will be in dynamically making assertions of value and impact across institutions, and to build confidence in those assertions.

Finally Clifford Lynch (Coalition for Networked Information) gave some additional remarks, highlighting stress points. Potentially, the scholarly record is huge, especially with an expanded range of media and channels. The minutes of science are recording every minute, year in year out. Selection issues are challenging, to say the least. Is it sensible to consider keeping everything?  Cliff called for hard questions to be asked, and for studies to be done. Some formats seem to be overlooked — video, for example.

We concluded the meeting with a number of break-out sessions that took up focused topics. The groups came back with tons of notes, and also some possible “next steps” or actions that could be taken to move us forward. Those included.

  • Promulgating name identifiers and persistent IDs for use by other stakeholders
  • Focusing on research centers and subject/disciplinary repositories to see what kinds of relationships are needed
  • Mining user studies/reviews to pull out research needs/methods/trends/gaps and find touch-points to the library
  • Following the money in the ESR ecosystem to see whether there are disconnects between shareholder interests and scholar value
  • Pursuing with publishers whether they will collect the appropriate contextual processes and aftermaths
  • Investigating funding, ROI, and financial tradeoffs
  • Getting involved during the grant planning processes so that materials flow to the right places instead of needing to be rescued after the fact

Thanks to all of our participants, but particularly to our hosts, our speakers, our notetakers and those who helped record the event on Twitter. We’re looking forward to another productive workshop in Chicago (in March) and then expect to culminate the three workshops at the ESR workshop in San Francisco (in June) where we’ll focus on how we can collaboratively move things forward to do our best to ensure stewardship of the scholarly record now and into the future.

OCLC Research Library Partnership, making a difference

keioI’m very pleased (and excited!) to share this story with you, because we always love to hear how our work makes a difference. After attending a 2013 OCLC Research Library Partnership meeting at Yale University, librarians from Keio University Library in Tokyo changed the way they handle special collections as a result of what they learned.

Keio University’s Mita Media Center Manager Hideyuki Seki, Chief Executive Shigehiko Kazama and University Librarian Shunsaku Tamura attended Past Forward! Meeting Stakeholder Needs in 21st Century Special Collections, which focused on new ways to provide researchers with access to special collections. Before attending the meeting, staff at Keio University Library were very protective of their rare books, focusing primarily on preservation and limiting access to them. But throughout the Past Forward! meeting, they heard other librarians talk about the benefits they experienced from providing their students and faculty access their special collections, and they saw firsthand how Yale University’s Beinecke Library provides access to and beautifully displays its books. This led to a profound change in the way Keio University Library thinks about its special collections. As a result, Keio implemented changes to strike a balance between outreach and preservation. The library now encourage access to its rare books and special collections, which not only gives students and faculty a positive experience but directly contributes to the university’s scholarly mission.

Hideyuki Seki shared his story with Program Officer Jennifer Schaffner; you can watch it below. Thanks to Seki-san and to Keio colleagues for being willing to share this story — it can be difficult to recognize when you need to change practices and even more challenging to make changes so I applaud their courage in sharing. And thanks to Jen for asking Seki-san to tell the story.

If you have a story to share about out the Partnership has impacted you or your institution, please get in touch!

Gifts for archivists and librarians: from the practical to the luxurious

We asked for suggestions for gifts that would be suitable for librarians or archivists and the community responded! Thank you so much for all the wonderful and thoughtful gift ideas!

Here are the nominations: if you have other ideas please leave them in the comments below. To ensure that you get what you want, think about leaving this page on computers in your reading room or information commons — I’m sure that certain someone will get the hint.

Lumio Book Lamp

Lumio Book Lamp

Practical gifts: some information professionals are very focused on getting the job done. For these folks, a gift that helps them do the work at hand is just the thing. Gifts in this category include:

  • A mobile scanner: Laura suggests that perhaps the Flip-Pal might be useful for those who are zipping around “scanning madly.”
  • Of course it’s not all about shelving books or arranging collections. We also attend lots of meetings and conferences. How about a fountain pen? Nadia Nasr suggests the Cross Stratford as a nice looking model that’s affordable.
  • For all that professional reading, what about a book shaped lamp? Lumio’s book lamp (although pricey) was suggested by Stephanie as being “pretty rad.” Comes in dark walnut and blonde maple to compliment any decor.
  • What is more painful that losing your place in a book? Hunting around for a bookmark. Lynn Jones suggests the Albatros Bookmark — you never need to look for your bookmark because it’s in the book — it also places itself.  Comes in packs of 6.
  • What about a card catalog shaped flash drive? These will be available soon from Unshelved. Thanks to Carol Street for the suggestion.
The Archivist Wine

The Archivist Wine

Food and drink: everyone likes to eat and drink. Here are some suggestions vetted by librarians and archivists

  • The chefs among us might appreciate cookbooks from historical societies. Melissa M. loves her cookbooks from the King’s Landing Historical Settlement in New Brunswick. I couldn’t find those online but you can find plenty of good ideas in Cookbook Finder. I noted that King’s Landing does have an historic inn that serves period food, so check with your local historical society!
  • Beer for archivists: Although I normally hate to reinforce stereotypes about archivists that involve either attics or cellars, I was pleased to hear Jill Tatem’s nomination for Cellar Dweller, which is only available at the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland. Since this is the site of the 2015 Society of American Archivists annual meeting, I know many archivists will take a rain check on this brew.
  • A toast to archivists! From Sonoma Estate Vintners, the Archivist. Pick your poison: cab, chardonnay, or pinot noir. The description includes the word “appraise” so you know you are in the right place.


Pride and Prejudice Tote

Pride and Prejudice Tote

Clothing and accessories: suggestions range from items that are practical to those that show your style.

  • Melissa M. says, “every processing archivist could use steel-toed boots (required for the first archival job I ever had, and I actually managed to find quite a stylish pair).” Melissa was not able to find her boots, which fetched compliments outside the workplace, but perhaps something like these engineer boots would work.
  • To go with your boots, perhaps some library card socks from NYPL? (Hat tip to Bruce Washburn.)
  • You can wear your heart on your sleeve, and now you can wear your favorite book, as a t-shirt, or water-resistant tote. From Lithographs. Also available, posters and (temporary) tatoos. From Lorcan Dempsey and Pam Kruger.
  • A favorite from last year was the microfiche jewelery from Oinx. Styles have been updated and now you and spread the “I’d rather be fiching” message via t-shirt and bumper sticker.
Mini Hollinger Document Cartons

Mini Hollinger Document Cartons

Little luxuries: sometimes it’s the little things

  • Candles are a great seasonal gift. You can choose between The Archivist candles from Greenmarket (lots of choose from, particularly if you like the idea of “fragrance records accumulated to preserve moments, stories, and people they represent”) and Library candles from Paddywax (which feature scents that will conjure your favorite author). Thanks to Casey Davis and Carol Street for calling these to our attention!
  • Hollinger boxes are a staple for archivists, and mini document boxes have long been a popular giveaway at conferences — so popular that Hollinger now sells them as a separate item. Jennifer suggests that in addition to being just plain adorable, they would be the perfect way to pop the question.
  • Cream for hands, dried out from processing documents and handling other materials, was a popular item on last year’s list. This year, Melissa M. recommends Lush’s Charity Pot lotion.

Can’t buy happiness: of course, the things that everyone really wants can’t be purchased. At the top of almost every information professional’s wish list is space (to put anything, as our anonymous contributor put it). Another thing that we’d all like to see is reflected in this lovely blog post by Maarja Krusten:

…the greatest gift you can give archivists and librarians is the opportunity to share physically and virtually the knowledge found in their collections and holdings.

Now, that sentiment is something I think we can all get behind! Happy holidays to all of you!

Gifts for archivists (and librarians)?

[Update: our holiday gift guide is now available! Thanks for the contributions]

Last year we asked on the ArchiveGrid blog for suggestions for gifts for archivists — and we were blown away by the number (and quality!) of suggestions (posted in 24 fun and practical gifts for archivists). This year, we’re moving the conversation over to HangingTogether and extending the fun to librarians. So, librarians and archivists, what would you like as a gift? We’ll assemble the best of the best and post them in a week or two. Then it’s up to you to leave the link for that special someone to find. Or use it to treat your colleagues. We look forward to your suggestions in the comments below!

[Untitled, Anacostia family c. 1950. Smithsonian Institution]

[Untitled, Anacostia family c. 1950. Smithsonian Institution]

Libraries & Research: Changes in libraries

[This is the fourth in a short series on our 2014 OCLC Research Library Partnership meeting, Libraries and Research: Supporting Change/Changing Support. You can read the firstsecond, and third posts and also refer to the event webpage that contains links to slides, videos, photos, and a Storify summary.]

And now, onward to the final session of the meeting, which focused appropriately enough on changes in libraries, which include new roles and and preparing to support future service demands. They are engaging in new alliances and are restructuring themselves to prepare for change in accordance with their strategic plans.

[Paul-Jervis Heath, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, and Jim Michalko]

[Paul-Jervis Heath, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, and Jim Michalko]

Lynn Silipigni Connaway (Senior Research Scientist, OCLC Research) [link to video] shared the results of several studies that identify the importance of user-centered assessment and evaluation. Lynn has been working actively in this area since 2003, looking at not only researchers but also future researchers (students!). In interviews on virtual reference, focusing on perspective users, Lynn and her team found that students use Google and Wikipedia but also rely on human resources — other students, advisers, graduate students and faculty. In looking through years of data, interviewees tend to use generic terms like “database” and refer to specific tools and sources only when they are further along in their career — this doesn’t mean they don’t use them, rather, they get used to using more sophisticated terminology as they go along. No surprise, convenience trumps everything; researchers at all levels are eager to optimize their time so many “satisfice” if the assignment or task doesn’t warrant extra time spent. From my perspective, one of the most interesting findings from Lynn’s studies relates to students’ somewhat furtive use of Wikipedia, which she calls the Learning Black Market (students look up something in Google, find sources in Wikipedia, copy and paste the citation into their paper!). Others use Facebook to get help. Some interesting demographic differences — more established researchers use Twitter, and use of Wikipedia declines as researchers get more experience. In regards to the library, engagement around new issues (like data management) causes researchers to think anew about ways the library might be useful. Although researchers of all stripes will reach out to humans for help, librarians rank low on that list. Given all of these challenges, there are opportunities for librarians and library services — be engaging and be where researchers are, both physically and virtually. We should always assess what we are doing — keep doing what’s working, cut or reinvent what is not. Lynne’s presentation provides plenty of links and references for you to check out.

Paul-Jervis Heath (Head of Innovation & Chief Designer, University of Cambridge) [link to video] spoke from the  perspective of a designer, not a librarian (he has worked on smart homes, for example). He shared findings from recent work with the Cambridge University libraries. Because of disruption, libraries face a perfect storm of change in teaching, funding, and scholarly communications. User expectations are formed by consumer technology. While we look for teachable moments, Google and tech companies do not — they try to create intuitive experiences. Despite all the changes, libraries don’t need to sit on the sidelines, they can be engaged players. Design research is important and distinguished from market research in that it doesn’t measure how people think but how they act. From observation studies, we can see that students want to study together in groups, even if they are doing their own thing. The library needs to be optimized for that. Another technique employed, asking students to use diaries to document their days. Many students prefer the convenience of studying in their room but what propels them to the library is the desire to be with others in order to focus. At Cambridge, students have a unique geographic triangle defined by where they live, the department where they go to class, and the market they prefer to shop in. Perceptions about how far something (like the library) is outside of the triangle are relative. Depending on how far your triangle points are, life can be easy or hard. Students are not necessarily up on technology so don’t make assumptions. It turns out that books (the regular, paper kind) are great for studying! But students use ebooks to augment their paper texts, or will use when all paper books are gone. Shadowing (with permission) is another technique which allows you to immerse yourself in a researcher’s life and understand their mental models. Academics wear lot of different hats, play different roles within the university and are too pressed for time to learn new systems. It’s up to the library to create efficiencies and make life easier for researchers. Paul closed by emphasizing six strategic themes: transition from physical to digital; library spaces; sustainable classic library services; supporting research and scholarly communications; making special collections more available; and creating touchpoints that will bring people back to the library seamlessly.

Jim Michalko (Vice President, OCLC Research Library Partnership) [link to video] talked about his recent work looking at library organizational structures and restructuring. (Jim will be blogging about this work soon, so I won’t give more than a few highlights.) For years, libraries have been making choices about what to do and how to do it, and libraries have been reorganizing themselves to get this (new) work done. Jim gathered feedback from 65 institutions in the OCLC Research Library Partnership and conducted interviews with a subset of those, in order to find out if structure indeed follows strategy. Do new structures represent markets or adjacent strategies (in business speak)? We see libraries developing capacities in customer relationship management and we see this reflected in user-focused activities. Almost all institutions interviewed were undertaking restructuring based on a changes external to the library, such as new constituencies and expectations. Organizations are orienting themselves to be more user centered, and to align themselves with a new direction taken by the university. We see many libraries bringing in skill sets beyond those normally found in the library package. Many institutions charged a senior position with helping to run a portion of a regional or national service. Other similarities: all had a lot of communication about restructuring. Almost all also related to a space plan.

This session was followed by a discussion session and I invite you to watch it, and also to watch this lovely summary of our meeting delivered by colleague Titia van der Werf (less than 7 minutes long and worth watching!):

If you attended the meeting or were part of the remote viewing audience for all or part of it, or if you watched any of the videos, I hope you will leave some comments with your reactions. Thanks for reading!

Libraries & Research: Supporting change in the university

[This is the third in a short series on our 2014 OCLC Research Library Partnership meeting, Libraries and Research: Supporting Change/Changing Support. You can read the first and second posts and also refer to the event webpage that contains links to slides, videos, photos, and a Storify summary.]

[Driek Heesakkers, Paolo Manghi, Micah Altman, Paul Wouters, and John Scally]

[Driek Heesakkers, Paolo Manghi, Micah Altman, Paul Wouters, and John Scally]

As if changes in research are not enough, changes are also coming at the university level and at the national level. The new imperatives of higher education around Open Access, Open Data and Research Assessment are impacting the roles of libraries in managing and providing access to e-research outputs, in helping define the university’s data management policies, and demonstrating value in terms of research impact. This session explored these issues and more!

John MacColl (University Librarian at University of St Andrews) [link to video] opened the session, speaking briefly about the UK context to illustrate how libraries are taking up new roles within academia. John presented this terse analysis of the landscape (and I thank him for providing notes!):

  • Professionally, we live increasingly in an inside-out environment. But our academic colleagues still require certification and fixity, and their reputation is based on a necessarily conservative world view (tied up with traditional modes of publishing and tenure)
  • Business models are in transition. The first phase of transition was from publisher print to publisher digital. We are now in a phase which he terms as deconstructive, based on a reassessment of the values of scholarly publishing, driven by the high cost of journals.
  • There are several reasons for this: among the main ones are the high costs of publisher content, and our responsibility as librarians for the sustainability of the scholarly record; another is the emergence of public accountability arguments – the public has paid for this scholarship, they have the right to access outputs.
  • What these three new areas of research library activity have in common is the intervention of research funders into the administration of research within universities, although the specifics vary considerably in different nations.

John Scally (Director of Library and University Collections, University of Edinburgh) [link to video] added to the conversation, speaking about the role of the research library in research data management (RDM) at the University of Edinburgh. From John’s perspective, the library is a natural place for RDM work to happen because the library has been in the business of managing and curating stuff for a long time and services are at the core of the library. Naturally, making content available in different ways is a core responsibility of the library. Starting research data conversations around policy and regulatory compliance is difficult — it’s easier to frame as a problem around storage, discovery and reuse of data. At Edinburgh they tried to frame discussions around how can we help, how can you be more competitive, do better research? If a researcher comes to the web page about data management plans (say at midnight, the night before a grant proposal is due) that webpage should do something useful at the time of need, not direct researchers to come to the library during the day. Key takeaways: Blend RDM into core services, not a side business. Make sure everyone knows who is leading. Make sure the money is there, and you know who is responsible. Institutional policy is a baby step along the way, implementation is most important. RDM and open access are ways of testing (and stressing) your systems and procedures – don’t ignore fissures and gaps. An interesting correlation between RDM and the open access repository – since RDM has been implemented at Edinburgh, deposits of papers have increased.

Driek Heesakkers (Project Manager at the University of Amsterdam Library) [link to video] told us about RDM at the University of Amsterdam and in the Netherlands. Netherlands differs from other landscapes, characterized as “bland” – not a lot of differences between institutions in terms of research outputs. A rather complicated array of institutions for humanities, social science, health science, etc, all trying to define their roles in RDM. For organizations who are mandated to capture data, it’s vital that they not just show up at the end of the process to scoop up data, but that they be embedding in the environment where the work is happening, where tools are being used.  Policy and infrastructure need to be rolled out together. Don’t reinvent the wheel – if there are commercial partners or cloud services that do the work well, that’s all for the good. What’s the role of the library? We are not in the lead with policy but we help to interpret and implement — similarly with technology. The big opportunity is in the support – if you have faculty liaisons, you should be using them for data support. Storage is boring but necessary. The market for commercial solutions is developing which is good news – he’d prefer to buy, not built, when appropriate. This is a time for action — we can’t be wary or cautious.

Switching gears away from RDM, Paul Wouters (Director of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at the University of Leiden) [link to video] spoke about the role of libraries in research assessment. His organization combines fundamental research and services for institutions and individual researchers. With research becoming increasingly international and interdisciplinary, it’s vital that we develop methods of monitoring novel indicators. Some researchers have become, ironically and paradoxically, fond of assessment (may be tied up with the move towards the quantified self?). However, self assessment can be nerve wracking and may not return useful information. Managers may are also interested in individual assessment because it may help them give feedback.  Altmetrics do not correlate closely to citation metrics, and and can vary considerably across disciplines. It’s important to think about the meaning of various ways of measuring impact. As an example of other ways of measuring, Paul presented the ACUMEN (Academic Careers Understood through Measurement and Norms) project, which allows researchers to take the lead and tell a story given evidence from his or her portfolio. An ACUMEN profile includes a career narrative supported by expertise, outputs, and influence. Giving a stronger voice to researchers is more positive than researchers not being involved in or misunderstanding (and resenting) indicators.

Micah Altman (Director of Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries) [link to video] discussed the importance of researcher identification and the need to uniquely identify researchers in order to manage the scholarly record and to support assessment. Micah spoke in part as a member of a group that OCLC Research colleague Karen Smith-Yoshimura led, the Registering Researchers Task Group working group (their report, Registering Researchers in Authority Files is now available). It explored motivations, state of the practice, observations and recommendations. The problem is that there is more stuff, more digital content, and more people (the average number of authors on journal articles have gone up, in some cases way up). To put it mildly, disambiguating names is not a small problem. A researcher may have one or more identifiers, which may not link to one another and may come from different sources. The task group looked at the problem not only from the perspective of the library, but also from the perspective of various stakeholders (publishers, universities, researchers, etc.). Approaches to managing name identifiers result in some very complicated (and not terribly efficient) workflows. Normalizing and regularizing this data has big potential payoffs in terms of reducing errors in analytics, and creating a broad range of new (and more accurate) measures. Fortunately, with a recognition of the benefits, interoperability between identifier systems is increasing, as is the practice of assigning identifiers to researcher. One of the missing pieces is not only identifying researchers but also their roles in a given piece of work (this is a project that Micah is working on with other collaborators). What are steps that libraries can take? Prepare to engage! Work across stakeholder communities; demand more than PDFs from publishers. And prepare for more (and different) types of measurement.

Paolo Manghi (Researcher at Institute of Information Science and Technologies “A. Faedo” (ISTI), Italian National Research Council) [link to video] talked about the data infrastructures that support access to the evolving scholarly record and the requirements needed for different data sources (repositories, CRIS systems, data archives, software archives, etc.) to interoperate. Paolo spoke as a researcher, but also as the technical manager of the EU funded OpenAIRE project. This project started in 2009 out of a strong open access push from the European Commission. The project initially collected metadata and information about access to research outputs. The scope was expanded to include not only articles but also other research outputs. The work is done by human input and also technical infrastructure. They rely on input from repositories, also use software developed elsewhere. Information is funneled via 32 national open access desks. They have developed numerous guidelines (for metadata, for data repositories, and for CRIS managers to export data to be compatible with OpenAIRE). The project fills three roles — a help desk for national agencies, a portal (linking publications to research data and information about researchers) and a repository for data and articles that are otherwise homeless (Zenodo). Collecting all this information into one place allows for some advanced processes like deduplication, identifying relationships, demonstrating productivity, compliance, and geographic distribution. OpenAIRE interacts with other repository networks, such as SHARE (US), and ANDS (Australia). The forthcoming Horizon 2020 framework will cause some significant challenges for researchers and service providers because it puts a larger emphasis on access for non-published outputs.

The session was followed by a panel discussion.

I’ll conclude tomorrow with a final posting, wrapping up this series.

Libraries & Research: Supporting change in research

[This is the second in a short series on our 2014 OCLC Research Library Partnership meeting, Libraries and Research: Supporting Change/Changing Support. You can read the first post and also refer to the event webpage contains links to slides, videos, photos, Storify summaries.]

[Anja Smit, Adam Farquhar, Antal van den Bosch, and Ricky Erway]

[Anja Smit, Adam Farquhar, Antal van den Bosch, and Ricky Erway]

Anja Smit (University Librarian at Utrecht University) [link to video] chaired this session which focused on the ways in which libraries are or could be supporting eScholarship. In opening she shared a story that reflects how the library is really a creature of the larger institution. At Utrect the library engaged in scenario planning* and identified their future as being all about open access and online access to sources. When they brought faculty in to comment on their plans, they were told that they were “going too fast” and that they needed to slow down. Sometimes researchers request services and sometimes the library just acts to fill a void.  But innovation is not only starting but also stopping. The Utretch experience with VREs are an example of a well-reasoned library “push” of services – thought they would have 200 research groups actively using the VRE but only 25 took it up. Annotated books on the other hand is an example of “pull,” something requested by researchers. Dataverse (a network for storing data) started as a service in the library that was needed by faculty but ultimately moved to DANS due to scale and infrastructure issues.  The decision to discontinue local search was a “pull” decision, based on evidence that researchers were not using it. Ultimately, librarians need to be “embedded” in researcher workflows. If we don’t know what they are doing, we won’t be able to help them.

Ricky Erway (Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research) [link to video] gave her own story of push and pull — OCLC Research was asked by the Research Information Management Interest Group to “do something about digital humanities”. The larger question was, where can libraries make a unique contribution?  Ricky and colleague Jennifer Schaffner immersed themselves in the researchers’ perspective regarding processes, issues, and needs, and then tried to see where the library might fill gaps. Their paper [Does Every Research Library Need a Digital Humanities Center?] was written for library directors not already engaged with digital humanities. The answer to the question posed in the title of the paper is, “It depends.”  The report suggests that a constellation of engagement possibilities should be considered based on local needs. Start with what you are already offering and ensure that researchers are aware of those services. Scholars enthusiasm for metadata was a surprising finding — humanities researchers use and value metadata sources such as VIAF. (Colleague Karen Smith-Yoshimura has previously blogged about contributions to VIAF from the Syriac scholarly community and contributions from the Perseus Catalog.) A challenge for libraries is figuring out, when to support, when to collaborate, and when to lead. There is no one size fits all in digital humanities and libraries — not only is it the case that “changes in research are not evenly distributed,” but also every library has its own set of strengths and services which may be good matches for local needs.

Adam Farquhar (Head of Digital Scholarship at the British Library) [link to video] talked about what happens when large digital collections are brought together with scholars. Adam’s role, in brief is to get the British Library’s digital collections into the hands of scholars so they can create knowledge. Adam and his team have been trying to find ways to take advantage of the digital qualities of digital collections — up to now, most libraries have treated digital collections the same as print collections apart from delivery. This is a mistake, because there are unique aspects to large-scale digital collections and we should be leveraging them. The British Library has a cross-disciplinary team which is much needed for tackling the challenges at hand. Rather than highlighting the broad range of projects being undertaken at the BL, Adam chose instead to focus on a few small, illustrative examples. In the British Library Labs, developers are invited to sit alongside scholars and co-evolve projects and solutions. The BL Labs Competition is a challenge to encourage people to put forward interesting projects and needs. Winners of the 2014 competition included one from Australia (showing that there is global interest in the BL’s collections). One winner is the Victorian Meme Machine, which will pair Victorian jokes with likely images to illustrate what makes Victorian jokes funny. Another project extracted images from digitized books and put a million images on Flickr (where people go to look for images, not for books). These images have received 160 million views in the last year. These are impressive metrics especially when you consider that previously no one alive had looked any of those images. Now lots of people have and they have been used in a variety of ways, from an art piece at Burning Man, to serious research, to commercial use. Adam’s advice? Relax and take a chance on release of information into the public domain.

Antal van den Bosch (Professor at the Radboud University Nijmegen) [link to video] spoke from his perspective as a researcher. Scientists have long had the ability to shift from first gear (working at the chalkboard) to 5th or 6th gear (doing work on the Large Hadron Collider). Humanists have recently discovered that there is a 3rd or 4th gear and want to go there. In the humanities there is fast and slow scholarship. In his own field, linguistics and computer science, there is no data like more data. Large, rich corpuses are highly valued (and more common over time). One example is Twitter – in the Netherlands, seven million Tweets a day are generated and collected by his institute. Against this corpus, researchers can study the use of language at different times of day and use location metadata to identify use of regional dialect. Another example is the HiTiME (Historical Timeline Mining and Extraction) project which uses linked data in historical sources to enable the study of social movements in Europe. Within texts, markup of persons, locations, and events allow visualizations including timelines and social networks. Analysis of newspaper archives revealed both labor strikes that happened and those that didn’t. However, library technology was not up to the task of keeping up with the data so that findings were not repeatable, underscoring the need for version control and adequate technological underpinnings. Many times in these projects the software goes along with the data, so storing both data and code is important.  Most researchers are not sure where to put their research data and may be using cloud storage like GitHub. Advice and guidance are all well and good but what researchers really need is storage, and easy to use services (“an upload button, basically”). In the Netherlands and in Europe, there are long tail storage solutions for e-research data. Many organizations and institutions say “here, let me help you with that.” Libraries seem well situated to help with metadata, but researchers want full text search against very big data sets like Twitter or Google Books. Libraries should be asking themselves if they can host something that big. If libraries can’t offer collections like these, at scale, researchers may not be interested.  On the other hand in the humanities which has a “long tail of small topics,” there are many single researchers doing small research projects and here the library may be well positioned to help.

If you are interested in more details you can watch the discussion session that followed:

I’ll be back later to summarize the last two segments of the meeting.

*A few years ago, Jim and I attended one of the ARL 2030 Scenarios workshops. Since that time, I’ve been quite interested in the use of scenario planning as an approach for organizations like libraries that hope to build for resilience.


Libraries & Research, Supporting Change/Changing Support: Introduction

Libraries and Research: Supporting Change/Changing Support was a meeting on 11-12 June for members of the OCLC Research Library Partnership. The meeting focused on how the evolving nature of academic research practices and scholarship are placing new demands on research library services. Shifting attitudes toward data sharing, methodologies in eScholarship, and rethinking the very definition of scholarly discourse . . . . these are all areas that have deep implications for the library. But it is not only the research process that is changing; research universities are evolving in new directions, often becoming more outcome-oriented, changing to reflect the increased importance of impact assessment, and competing for funding. Libraries are taking on new roles and responsibilities to support change in research and in the academy. From our perch in OCLC Research, we can see that as libraries prepare to meet new demands and position themselves for the future, libraries themselves are changing, both in their organizational structure and in their alliances with other parts of the university and with external entities.

This meeting focused on three thematic areas: supporting change in research; supporting change at the university level; and changing support structures in the library.

Our meeting venue, close to the Centraal Station.

Our meeting venue, close to the Centraal Station.

For the first time, and in response to an increasing number of active partners in Europe we held our Partnership meeting outside of the United States. Since we have a number of partners in the Netherlands, we opted to hold our meeting in Amsterdam. We were in a terrific venue, and the beautiful weather didn’t hurt.

Meeting attendees were greeted by Maria Heijne (Director of the University of Amsterdam Library and of the Library of Applied Sciences/Hogeschool of Amsterdam). [Link to video.] Maria highlighted the global perspective represented by those attending the meeting — which haled from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Australia, Japan, the US and Canada. The UofA library is a unique combination of library, special collections, and museum of archaeology. The offer a strong combination of services for the university and for the city of Amsterdam. Like so many libraries in the Partnership and beyond, the UofA library is preparing for a new facilities, and looking to shift effort from cataloging and other backroom functions to working more closely with researchers and other customers.

Maria Heijne, University of Amsterdam

Maria Heijne, University of Amsterdam

Titia van der Werf (Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research) introduced the meeting and our themes [link to video], welcoming special guests from DANS, LIBER, RLUK and from OCLC EMEA Regional Council. The OCLC Research Library Partnership focuses on projects that have been defined as being of importance to partners. Examples of work in OCLC Research in support of the Partnership include looking at shifts in publication patterns and shifts in research (as highlighted in the Evolving Scholarly Record report), challenges in restructuring and redefining within the library (reflected in work done by my colleague Jim Michalko), and studying the behavior of researchers so we can understand evolving needs (reflected in our work synthesizing user and behavior studies). We also see interest and uptake in new ways of thinking about cataloging data, recasting metadata as identifiers (such as identifiers for people, subjects, or for works). As research changes, as universities change, so too do libraries need to change.

With that introduction to our meeting, I’ll close. Look for a short series of posts summarizing the remainder of the meeting, focusing on the three themes.

[The event webpage contains links to slides, videos, photos, Storify summaries]

A Year of Living Dangerously For Archives (and you)

[Female acrobats on trapezes at circus | Library of Congress ]

[Female acrobats on trapezes at circus | Library of Congress ]

[This post is in honor of American Archives Month, which starts today!]

This year at the Society of American Archivists annual meeting, incoming SAA president Kathleen Roe kicked off her initiative “A Year of Living Dangerously for Archives.” You can read about the initiative on the SAA Website, but I can also boil this down for you. Those of us who work in cultural heritage institutions get it — archives are important. We spend a lot of time telling one another how about our wonderful collections, and about the good work we do. However, despite our passion and conviction, we don’t spend nearly enough time making the case outside the building how important archives are.

I like this formulation: Archives change lives. Tell people about it.

I’m eager to hear all the stories that come out of this Year of Living Dangerously (YOLDA, as I’m dubbing it, which goes nicely with YOLO, don’t you think?). I urge you to participate in YOLDA by sharing your stories on the SAA website but also by pointing us to your work in the comments. Let’s use this year to inspire one another. I think it’s more dangerous to not take action than to find ways to advocate for ourselves, but if it makes you happy to think of yourself as an action hero, than go for it!

Tag, you’re it: Books that have stayed with you

old book by Thalita Carvalho | Flickr | cc:by

old book by Thalita Carvalho | Flickr | cc:by

Recently, this has been going around on Facebook:

List ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. It is not about the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.

Once you’ve listed your books, you are supposed to “tag” 10 people. I am not usually a big fan of these chain letter things, but I really enjoyed reading the lists that were posted, particularly when they involved commentary. When my college friend Cathy tagged me, in turn, I asked OCLC Research colleagues to contribute.

Earlier this month, the Facebook Data Science team posted an analysis of the “top” books from the meme. It was interesting to see how many of the books listed showed up on our lists but perhaps even more interesting to see the interests of our group reflected in some of the more unusual choices.

If you’d like to check out our lists, please read on. If you’d like to play, consider yourself tagged — leave your list of books below. And enjoy!

Karen Smith-Yoshimura (WorldCat list here)

  • Rublowsky, John. Is Anybody Out There? Read this as a kid – my introduction to what was then called “exo-biology”. Have been fascinated by astro-biology ever since.
  • Ridley, Matt. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. This book is just fascinating, and I keep re-reading it…
  • Laozi, Bi Wang, and Zhe Su. Laozi dao de jing. Not sure which edition I read, but this was the first Chinese book I read cover-to-cover and served as a basis of a discussion with a philosophy professor at TaiDa. Really opened my mind to a completely different way of thinking, and influences me still..
  • Hersey, John. The Wall. Read this as a teenager. My introduction to Holocaust fiction and inspired me to read far more about it.
  • Bosworth, Allan R. America’s Concentration Camps. Read as a teenager. My introduction to Japanese internment camps. One of the books that made me realize that the US has a number of dark periods in its history beyond what I had learned in school…
  • Sartre, Jean-Paul. Huis clos. The first French book I read cover-to-cover, again as a teenager. It was a time when “L’enfer, c’est les autres” really resonated!
  • Cheng, Nien. Life and Death in Shanghai. This autobiography really gripped me as no others about the Cultural Revolution.
  • Polo, Marco, William Marsden, and Jon Corbino. The Travels of Marco Polo, the Venetian. Not sure which edition I read, but read it as a teenager and likely put the “traveling bug” into me. A factor in my living/traveling for 9 years before returning to the US…
  • Hofstadter, Richard. Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. A book I read in college – understood from then on that the ignorance I often see around me is nothing new…
  • Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. One of the first books I remember reading ALL BY MYSELF as a child – and reread later for the wonderful portmanteau’s of language.

Devon Smith (WorldCat list here)

Jackie Dooley (WorldCat list here)

  • Hijuelos, Oscar. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Cuban American brothers in New York City and their visions of the perfect woman. I felt like the heat and humidity was enveloping me the entire time I was reading. Painfully human characters.
  • Tartt, Donna. The Secret History. An incredible writer in the technical sense who also weaves weird and wonderful tales. Classics prof draws his students into the supernatural, woo hoo! Many didn’t care for her next (The Little Friend), but I did. Can’t wait to dive into The Goldfinch.
  • Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings. Borges: the most amazing short story writer of all time. And of course the most fascinating fantasy library ever imagined is the centerpiece of The Circular Ruins.
  • Irving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany: A Novel. Such a weird but endearing protagonist, matched only perhaps by Iggy J. Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces (which, alas, didn’t occur to me until my list was already at ten).
  • Solženicyn, A. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. My first view of life as a member of Soviet society. Indelible.
  • Gardner, John. The Sunlight Dialogues. Gardner was one of my favorite novelists when I was in my 20s (add to that Vonnegut, Irving, and Robbins, weirdos all). Sunlight stands in for them. Or maybe I should have picked his retelling of Beowulf from the perspective of the monster Grendel.
  • García Márquez, Gabriel. One hundred years of solitude. Speaking as a student of Latin American literature, is it necessary to explain why this was, and is, so affecting and influential?
  • Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. It’s the librarian in me, but also, I suppose, the fallen Catholic. Not to mention his amazing depiction of the Middle Ages.
  • Craig, Charmaine. The Good Men: A Novel of Heresy. More ex-Catholic fascination with Medieval times and the joys of the Inquisition! Craig evokes the era with extraordinary skill. And she did her research in lots of Medieval libraries. Oh, and the Cathar Heresy is a fascinating bit of French history.
  • Neruda, Pablo, and Nathaniel Tarn. Selected Poems. Extraordinarily beautiful use of the Spanish language, generally well-translated into English–but read him in the Spanish if you’re able. One of the top reasons why I’m glad I majored in Latin American literature.

Bruce Washburn (WorldCat list here)

Bruce says, “Not all of these remain influential, for me anyway. One thing they have in common is that I’ve read each one multiple times and have recommended them to others.”

  • Gilliam, Harold, and Gene M. Christman. Weather of the San Francisco Bay Region. This might be the little book that has influenced me the most. I still have my copy from 1970. The great Harold Gilliam taught me all about fog. His 1962 commentary at the end regarding climate change is fascinating from this distance.
  • Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. This shows up on many lists, I imagine. If you read it when you were young, especially. Old Atticus is still kind of a role model. And I learned what a “chifforobe” is. That’s important information for a 12 year old.
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings. Actually the whole series. I read it in the early 70’s before LOTR became an industry. I remember an intro by Peter Beagle about these works, saying “the strangest strangers turn out to know them”. That hooked me.
  • DeLillo, Don. Libra. I’ve read this a bunch of times and am always entertained. It influenced me to read everything else from DeLillo.
  • Banks, Russell. AfflictionThe take-away for me was advice given to Wade Whitehouse by his brother. Wade is plagued by problems, including a bad tooth. His brother says list your problems in priority order and tackle one at a time starting with the tooth. Wade doesn’t listen.
  • Catton, Bruce. Mr. Lincoln’s Army. Actually, the Army of the Potomac trilogy. Here’s Catton describing the battle of Antietam: “south of the fence, filling all of the ground between the road and the wood, was Mr. Miller’s thriving cornfield — THE cornfield, forever, after that morning.
  • Gibson, William. Pattern Recognition. I’m not exactly sure why but I always really enjoy re-reading this one. There must be some pattern to that.
  • Ricks, Thomas E. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. Everything that can go wrong, does. Not that this should influence any further adventures, I’m sure those will be great.
  • McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian, or, The Evening Redness in the West. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I imagine. But after reading it I looked at the West differently. Harsh and arbitrary rather than pastoral and benign.
  • Wright, Lawrence. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Probably a good time to re-read this one again. I was willfully ignorant about the forces and people involved. Still kind of am.

Roy Tennant (WorldCat list here)

Roy says, “Although I cheated and did 15. So sue me. ;-)” Never a rule follower, that Roy….

  • Kazantzakis, Nikos. Report to Greco. I fell in love with Kazantzakis before I met my Greek American wife. So my inevitable trip to his beloved Crete was made all the more sweet when it happened. I raise a glass of Raki and toast him and his work.
  • Gonzales, Laurence. Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why : True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death. Read it. Understand it. And one day, when you need to live it, you’ll be ready.
  • Herbert, Frank. Dune. The single best marriage of Ecology and Science Fiction there ever was, or ever will be. Two of my loves, joined at the hip and completely believable. Amazing.
  • Eiseley, Loren C. All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life. Loren Eiseley is my hero. I need no other. A scientist, a thinker, an outdoorsman, a writer, a poet and a prose poet, a true Renaissance Man. What I aspire to be, and fall short of, but love to strive to achieve.
  • Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. I read this in two weeks as a teenager, and I felt like I was 80 when I was done. It was like mainlining all the hate and disaster this world has to offer and it was almost more than I could take. It still is.
  • Zinsser, William Knowlton. On Writing Well The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. My bible of writing. May I one day prove worthy.
  • Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. The Lord of the Rings. I read this as a mid-teen and the poem “All That is Gold Does Not Glitter” become my mantra, as I spent 17 virtually alone in my treehouse on an Indiana farm.
  • Trevor, Elleston. The Flight of the Phoenix. I’ve always tried to be the ultimate Boy Scout — prepared for anything, and ready to deal with whatever is thrown at me. So I fell in love with this story of doing exactly that to survive. Rebuild a crashed plane and fly it out of the desert. Awesome.
  • White, T. H. The Once and Future King. Because some legends require a whopping good telling.
  • Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. One of the best introductions to Socialism, buried, in the end, by its account of slaughterhouses. Which goes to prove that people care more about what they eat than just about anything else.
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. There are no words.
  • Solženicyn, Aleksandr I. The Gulag Archipelago: 1918 – 56 ; an Experiment in Literary Investigation. It was slow going in a lot of places, but this is one of the most important accounts of 20th Century history. And every now and then you would come across a true gem of insight. Without him no one outside of Russia would know.
  • Robbins, Tom. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. If you can only read one thing before you die, read the Preface of this book. I mean, srsly.
  • Stegner, Wallace. Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West. As someone who learned to run rivers at 21, and within a few months of that set off down the Colorado River as a guide, I cannot begin to imagine what Powell and his men thought as they made the same journey for the very first time. And with science.
  • Abbey, Edward. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness. I’ve always been in love with the outdoors, so this paean to nature, and to the desert that I learned to love in my teens and early 20s, really spoke to me. It still does.

Ricky Erway (WorldCat list here)

Ricky says, “I’m being literal, going to earliest influences.”

Melissa Renspie (WorldCat list here)

Melissa writes, “Now that I step back and look at it, I wonder what it means that my list is made up of books I read as a child or a young adult. I’ve also read most of them to my children. I can interpret this in several ways: 1.) I’ve read these books so many times they’re burned in my mind, or 2.) I really love children’s books. When I was young I wanted to write children’s books when I grew up. That hasn’t happened yet but it still could. Maybe I just haven’t grown up yet?! ;-)”

Ralph LeVan (WorldCat list here)

  • Leithold, Louis. The Calculus, with Analytic Geometry. My dad pushed me into mathematics. (I suspect he felt weak in it.) I enjoyed it, but never felt the passion for it that I do for programming. But, this book was just about as good as it got. Leithold had a wonderful way of making the concepts simple.
  • Heinlein, Robert A. Stranger in a Strange Land. Counter-culture in Los Angeles in the 60’s. This book defined it.
  • Pratchett, Terry. Small Gods: A Novel of Discworld. A book about a man and his personal relationship with his god. This is one of the two books I try hardest to get people to read.
  • Pratchett, Terry. Reaper Man. “There is no justice, there is just us.” Terry Pratchett creates characters that you care about. I often cry while reading his books. One of his most endearing characters is Death.
  • Knuth, Donald Ervin. The Art of Computer Programming. My sophomore year of college was about working my way through this book. I won’t swear that a lot of it stuck to me, but the experience certainly did.
  • Heller, Joseph. Catch-22, A Novel. My mother told me to read this. I’ve always respected her suggestions and this was a good one. I was depressed for a week after reading it.
  • Cheech And Chong. Cheech And Chong. I know this is supposed to be books, but this album was exactly what my life in Azusa was like. I knew all the characters in this album. I snuck friends into the drive-in in the trunk of my car. Dave’s not here.
  • Chabon, Michael. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. I love this book. It’s one of two books I try to make people read. It’s a great mystery. It’s a great love story. It’s a loving insight into Yiddish culture. The story is one surprise after another right up to the end.
  • Cherryh, C. J. Downbelow Station. I love the books of CJ Cherryh! This book is part of her Company series. It does a wonderful job of making you feel like you understand what it’s like to live on a space station. It’s not a happy life.
  • Kraft, Philip. Programmers and Managers: The Routinization of Computer Programming in the United States. The Communist Manifesto for programmers. I was lucky to take a couple programming and society classes at UC Irvine in the late 70s. This book has a lot to say about where we fit into our businesses.

And finally, my own list.

  • Eastman, P. D. Go, Dog, Go! I loved the illustration of the dogs in the houseboat, and playing in the trees — I could look at this for extended periods of time.
  • Baum, L. Frank. The Wizard of Oz. …and the many other books that followed – thankfully I didn’t know it was an allegorical commentary on the gold standard
  • Paterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terabithia. So beautiful, and so sad.
  • McCullough, Colleen. The Thorn Birds. The first book I checked out of the adult section of the library – don’t judge, I was 10 or 11.
  • Michener, James A. Centennial. I loved James Michener books because they were so very, very long. I have never wanted a story I liked to end.
  • King, Stephen. The Shining. Stephen King is an amazing story teller with a very twisted mind.
  • Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. For a while I could not get enough of the dystopian future thing.
  • Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. I spent several years in college and after doing research in archives trying to figure out why in the heck the Joads would move on from the FSA camp, which seemed like heaven to me.
  • Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. The levels of manipulation are fascinating.
  • Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. A college friend assigned it to me. I love rereading it, and of course all the derivatives are fantastic.

Talk Like a Pirate – library metadata speaks

Pirate Hunter, Richard Zacks

Pirate Hunter, Richard Zacks

Friday, 19 September is of course well known as International Talk Like a Pirate Day. In order to mark the day, we created not one but FIVE lists (rolled out over this whole week). This is part of our What In the WorldCat? series (#wtworldcat lists are created by mining data from WorldCat in order to highlight interesting and different views of the world’s library collections).

If you have a suggestion something you’d like us to feature, let us know or leave a comment below.

OCLC Research Update at ALA Annual, 2014: something for everyone

For some time now, we have been doing an OCLC Research Update at the American Library Association meeting (both ALA Annual and Midwinter) in order to, well, give an update on our work. Which is quite wide ranging. logo   Last month several of my colleagues participated in the update. Eric Childress played MC, giving a variety of mini-updates on OCLC Research — for example, Lorcan’s honorary doctorate from the Open University, the ALCTS Presidential Citation, awarded to OCLC Research for the compendium, Understanding the Collective Collection, our What in the WorldCat? lists, and a teaser for Lorcan’s forthcoming book, The Network Reshapes the Library. In addition, meatier presentations were featured during the update:

The presentations, with speaker notes, are available on Slideshare. I’ve given you plenty of links to follow but you can also look for more blog postings on these projects in the future!

How Wikipedia works, the anatomy of an editathon

Last year, at the RBMS preconference in Minneapolis, I was joined by Bob Kosovsky (New York Public Library) Ryan Cartwright (MNopedia Associate Project Editor, Minnesota Historical Society) and János McGhie (St. Paul Public Library) for what I thought was a great session on the connections between Wikipedia and libraries (you can find a link to the audio from the session by scrolling down here). We had a great turn out (standing room only!), and a lot of interest for further involvement. So for the 2014 preconference in Las Vegas, Bob and I put in a proposal for a workshop on Wikipedia, hoping to capitalize on the interest showed by our colleagues. Unfortunately (for us), there were too many fantastic workshop proposals put forward and we were asked to reapply for 2015. 

Bob and I were disappointed but regrouped — all we really needed, we reasoned, was a room with wireless and projection, and a place where people could sit with laptops, someplace not too far from the conference venue. So, in be bold fashion, we approached the University of Las Vegas Libraries. Fortunately, they had a conference room available that fit the bill so we were back on! Thank you, UNLV!

Editing libraries into Wikipedia [Wikimedia Commons]

Editing libraries into Wikipedia [Wikimedia Commons]

Held on June 27th, the first ever RBMS Wikipedia Editathon was more “how to” than an actual working session (although we did get some editing done!). We covered some basics like editing and creating citations (and took a tour of the Visual Editor — if you have a Wikipedia User account and install this, it will make your editing life much easier, unless you are already a Mediawiki markup wizard). We also looked at Wikimedia Commons, a repository for image and other files. Participants exchanged tips on how to host an editathon for different audiences (I loved hearing about what Mt Holyoke has been up to, with students, staff, faculty and alum all participating). We discussed conflict of interest (an important topic for GLAM professionals) and notability. We also talked about how to react when our edits or contributions are reverted.

So, did we achieve all of our goals and objectives? On the one hand, there was very little “product” in terms of improving articles that came out of our time together. On the other hand, most of our participants came into the workshop with a Wikipedia user account but had not done a lot of editing. Everyone had a little knowledge, but I feel like we are all stronger editors for having shared experiences with one another.

My personal takeaway is that I’d like to do more of these events, however informal, at professional conferences I attend in the future. Fortunately, the next meeting I’ll be attending is Wikimania (which will be wall to wall inspiration) followed by the Society of American Archivists meeting, where Dominic McDevitt-Parks (NARA) and Sara Snyder (Smithsonian Archives of American Art) will be hosting a session called “Editathon: You Have One Hour to Increase Access to Archival Science Info on Wikipedia…Go!” So, the next time you see me at a meeting, please ask about editing libraries and archives into Wikipedia!

The Wikipedia Library Project: what is it, how can you get involved

The Wikipedia Library Owl [Wikimedia Commons]

The Wikipedia Library [Wikimedia Commons]

For some time now I’ve been involved with the Wikipedia Library Project — you can find about more about the project on Wikipedia, naturally, but I’ll also break it down for you here.

The Wikipedia Library Project was started by an active Wikipedia, Jake Orlowitz, who wanted to solve a big problem — although those who edit Wikipedia always strive to use the best sources in their citations, they don’t always have access to those sources. Many of the most authoritative sources are published in journals that aren’t easily available to those without an affiliation to a college or university. In order to solve this problem, Jake conceived of the Wikipedia Library with the help of an Individual Engagement Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation.

The Wikipedia Library has two strands — the first, working with publishers, and the second working with libraries. In partnering with publishers, Jake and others who are active in the project have secured a number of accounts that can be issued to active Wikipedians who express interest. This part of the project has been quite successful, with many publishers are currently represented (and more in discussions, as I understand).

In partnering with libraries (the area where I’ve been active) the hope is to place Wikipedians as Wikipedia Visiting Scholars – visiting scholars will have access to research resources at that institution, including e-resources, and will be able to improve articles this way. We are also using this as an opportunity to test a script that works with the OCLC WorldCat knowledge base API to show users what resources they have full text access to.

We talked about the project at the recent ALA meeting in a session called Wikipedia and Libraries: Increasing Your Library’s Visibility – though the meeting was thinly attended, we had good audience interchange and there was a lot of interest in the project. We hope to reprise the session as a webinar in the near future so stay tuned! If you are interested in joining in the project, please do be in touch.


Do you want to be the “good guys”? Reproduction, permissions, and copyright assertions

Cowgirl , Mrs. Benjamin F. Russell, George Eastman House [via Flickr]

Cowgirl, Mrs. Benjamin F. Russell, George Eastman House [via Flickr]

Following up on Jackie’s post on the RBMS 2014 Preconference, and Michelle Light’s #bestplenaryever* I asked Michelle to give me a list of the various reproduction, permissions, and copyright policies she found helpful or influential (with the caveat that this list is by no means exclusive and that there are other “good guy” policies out there). Michelle told me that her criteria for “good guy” policies are:

1) no requirement for the institution to grant permission to publish when the institution did not own the copyright or when the material was in the public domain
2) no use fees, or no use fees for public domain materials and materials copyrighted by others
3) some mention about fair use
4) clear statement that it is the users’ responsibility to research copyright and gather any necessary permissions

So with that brief introduction, here’s Michelle’s list of “the good guys:”

And of course I’d like to add Michelle’s recently revised policies:

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Special Collections:

My hope is that in putting this information in one place (quickly) and following Michelle’s amazing talk will inspire many of you to take a fresh look at your own policies, and help you put your institution on the side of the good guys. If you know of other policies that should be included in this list, please leave a comment below, and I will edit this post to include them!

*Update: Michelle has posted a copy of her talk, Controlling Goods or Promoting the Public Good: Choices for Special Collections in the Marketplace, online. See also the comments below for more additions to “good guys” policies.

IMLS meeting, Libraries as Learning Spaces

Miniature human face models made through 3D Printing (Rapid Prototyping) [Wikimedia Commons]

Miniature human face models made through 3D Printing (Rapid Prototyping) [Wikimedia Commons]

On May 15th, I attended an IMLS meeting at San Francisco Public Library on “Libraries as Learning Spaces,” one of three stakeholder meetings devised to focus on broad themes and gather community feedback (the other two themes are digitization and STEM). There were around 60 people attending the meeting (in addition to a livestream audience). I knew only a handful of people at the meeting (which I think is a good thing!). North Carolina State University, for example, represented the research library sector (with Susan Nutter presenting on the fantastically successful Hunt Library). There was no “center” for the meeting — there was broad representation from public and state libraries, academic libraries, library schools, and also a number of researchers and representatives from foundations, and several “miscellaneous” participants. A common theme from the podium was, “I’m so happy to be here, but I hardly know anyone.” The audience was quite engaged — so much so that although I put my hand up several times, the mic never made it’s way to me.

My intention is not to summarize the meeting (there is a Storify from Lisa Waite Bunker that does a nice job of that) but rather to call out a few things about the presentations and discussion that were noteworthy to me.

  • I was expecting there to be at least some discussion about MOOCs – there was nothing. Someone uttered the word once. I don’t even think it was one of the panelists. [You might know that MOOCs, online learning, and the shifts that they may cause in libraries are of interest to me.]
  • The meeting was mostly about public libraries, and mostly about youth and a lot about maker spaces. I don’t know a lot about maker or hands on innovation spaces in research or academic libraries. Am I missing something?
  • There was a focus on skills for librarians, which of course we hear about all the time, but some of the presentations and discussion talked about  using maker and innovation spaces as a way to engage all or more staff in conversations around new skills, innovation, new services.
  • There seems (to me) to be an unreasonable focus on creating learning spaces IN libraries (maker spaces, after school programs, writing programs) when libraries are embedded in communities where there are existing, active and credible examples of all of these already. Why recreate learning spaces in libraries? Why not get libraries and library resources embedded in those other spaces? I think this is particularly true for maker spaces, which require equipment, expertise and space that may not be found in the library. The panel that focused on partnerships never called out the library going outside as a feature of those partnerships (the panel focused more on what makes a good partnership — good content, but not what I would have hoped for).

The evening before the meeting, the Internet Archive hosted a reception for meeting participants. We were led on a tour by Brewster Kahle, who told us the big long story of the IA, starting with harvesting the web and ending with recording television news and investing in employee housing for foundation workers. Since I live locally, I’ve attended functions at the IA many, many times and I am always impressed by the ongoing activities and operations there.

My thanks to IMLS and the San Francisco Public Library for putting together an engaging and thought provoking day.

Our upcoming meeting, Libraries and Research: Supporting Change/Changing Support

SC_CS_EventPageThose of us who work with institutions that are engaged with the OCLC Research Library Partnership are all abuzz about our upcoming meeting, Libraries and Research: Supporting Change/Changing Support.

The meeting on 11-12 June (exclusively for OCLC Research Library Partners) will put a spotlight on how the evolving nature of academic research practices and scholarship places new demands on research library services. Shifting attitudes toward data sharing, methodologies in eScholarship, and rethinking the very definition of scholarly discourse all have implications for the library. But it is not only the research process that is changing — research universities are evolving in new directions, often becoming more outcome-oriented, changing to reflect the increased importance of impact assessment, and competing for funding. Libraries are taking on new roles and responsibilities to support change in research and in the academy. As they are preparing to meet new demands and position themselves for the future, libraries themselves are changing, both in their organizational structure and in their alliances with other parts of the university and with external entities.

We are also planning an optional, pre-meeting workshop on 10 June — Evolving Scholarly Record and Evolving Stewardship Ecosystem. The workshop is co-organized by OCLC Research and DANS (Data Archiving and Networked Services), one of the major research data archiving centers in the Netherlands. This workshop will cover the evolving scholarly record and the role of libraries, data archives, repositories and other stakeholders in its stewardship. Registration is now open to all interested staff from libraries, data archives, repositories, and other stakeholders who have a mission for collecting, making available and preserving the scholarly record.

Amsterdam, view from the Doubletree Hilton. Photo by Screenpunk, cc by-nc 2.0

Amsterdam, view from the Doubletree Hilton. Photo by Screenpunk, cc by-nc 2.0

So if you are in the Partnership and have not yet signed up, or if you are interested in the pre-meeting workshop, please join us. It won’t hurt that we’ll have Amsterdam as a backdrop for our discussions and deliberations!


ARL Leadership Fellows — the 2013-2015 class visits OCLC HQ

On May 5th, a number of the 2013-2015 ARL Leadership Fellows gathered in Dublin, Ohio to exchange information with OCLC staff. The ARL Leadership Fellows program is an executive leadership program designed to develop future senior-level leaders in large research libraries. This is the third time that OCLC has hosted an ARL Fellows group.

The agenda was collaboratively built based on requests for topics that the Fellows put forward – our jam packed day included an overview of OCLC’s mission and structure, a view of the “collective collection” and shared print management, OCLC business partnerships, WorldShare Management Services and WorldCat Discovery Services​, and an overview of OCLC Research projects such as managing researcher IDs, the evolving scholarly record, and some early research on research library restructuring and reorganization. Additionally the fellows had an open ended discussion with OCLC President and CEO Skip Prichard.
ARL Fellows

It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with this group — prior to this meeting, I had only met a handful them, and this was a great way to meet a fantastic group of fellow professionals.

The ARL Fellows who visited OCLC were:

  • Annie Bélanger, Associate University Librarian, Information Resources and Academic Excellence, University of Waterloo Library 
  • Janet Bishop, Coordinator for Archives and Special Collections and Associate Professor, Colorado State University Libraries 
  • Cecilia Botero, Associate Dean, George A. Smathers Libraries, and Fackler Director, Health Science Center Libraries, University of Florida Libraries 
  • Paul Bracke, Associate Dean for Assessment and Technology, Purdue University Libraries 
  • Diane Butler, Director, Information Technology and Access Services, Rice University Library 
  • Pascal Calarco, Associate University Librarian, Research and Digital Discovery Services, University of Waterloo Library 
  • Patrick Deaton, Associate Director for Learning Spaces and Capital Management, North Carolina State University Libraries 
  • Meredith Evans, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Library 
  • Evelyn Frangakis, Aaron and Clara Greenhut Rabinowitz Assistant Director for Preservation, New York Public Library
  • Bill Hook, Associate Dean of Libraries, Vanderbilt University Library 
  • Melissa Just, Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services, Rutgers University Libraries 
  • Simon Neame, Associate University Librarian, University of British Columbia Library 
  • Susan Parker, Deputy University Librarian, University of California, Los Angeles, Library 
  • Tim Pyatt, Huck Chair and Head, Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University Libraries 
  • Neil Romanosky, Assistant Director for Administration, Health Sciences Libraries, New York University 
  • Meredith Taylor, Assistant Director for Organizational Development, University of Texas Libraries 
  • Michael Vandenburg, Associate University Librarian, Queen’s University Library​

(You can see the full roster of amazing fellows and their bios here.)

Many thanks to the OCLC staff who helped me plan, and gave presentations which made this successful visit possible:
Bill Carney, Carey Champoux, Lorcan Dempsey, Brian Lavoie, Doug Loynes, Janet Mason, Jim Michalko, John McCullough, Andrew Pace, Merrilee Proffitt, Skip Prichard, Karen Smith-Yoshimura

Thresholds for Discovery

I’m pleased to report that we have an article in the most recent Code4Lib Journal! The article, Thresholds for Discovery: EAD Tag Analysis in ArchiveGrid, and Implications for Discovery Systems is based on an analysis of how EAD (Encoded Archival Description) is used in the ArchiveGrid corpus. We go beyond that to look at EAD-in-use through the lens of discovery — how well is EAD currently meeting our objectives making our finding aids not only more discoverable, but more functional in discovery environments? In many ways, this article is a reaction to the many questions we receive about ArchiveGrid and why we do not provide a variety of indexes or advanced search features — the encoding and the data simply do not, at this point, support this functionality. We hope this paper can serve as the beginning of a discussion about some focussed efforts to improve the current situation.

With more than 120,000 finding aids, we believe this is the largest analysis of EAD done to date, and I’ll immodestly propose that the article is worthy of your attention!

Many thanks to Kathy Wisser and Jackie Dean for sharing their work with us — their earlier study of EAD usage provided an excellent model, and I’m grateful that they were willing to share their early results with us. Their article will be published in the next American Archivist, providing yet another look at EAD. Thanks also to my co authors: Bruce Washburn; the extraordinary developer behind ArchiveGrid and many other wonderful things; and Marc Bron, a PhD candidate in the computer science department at University of Amsterdam, who worked with us as an intern in the spring and did the analysis quite handily along with a number of other projects.

We look forward to your comments on the article, as well as your ideas for how to move forward to better thresholds for discovery.

What’s happening over at ArchiveGrid

As a member of the small but mighty ArchiveGrid team, it’s my happy job to bring you a few updated on what has been happening with our sandbox discovery service for archival descriptions. Today I wanted to tell you about some updates to the system architecture and also a bit about how we are trying to understand how users interact with ArchiveGrid.

As Bruce wrote over at the ArchiveGrid blog, we’ve shifted over to the Bootstrap Framework. Bootstrap brings with it “responsive design,” which allows us to accommodate a broader variety of devices including phones and tablets) and added more access points to the MARC records from WorldCat (which accounts for 90% of the ArchiveGrid content).

We introduced more access points because we wanted to allow users more ways to flow to and find other items of interest without having to type in a new search. In order to see if this system change is having any impact, we’re using click trail heat maps; early comparisions of before and after show that there is a change in the system. For more details, head over to the ArchiveGrid blog, where Bruce writes about this topic. We’ll be revisiting this analysis so stay tuned!

In general, if you are interested in the nuts and bolts of building a system optimized for archival discovery, you’ll find the ArchiveGrid blog useful, and I commend it to you. Especially check out the postings categorized under Building ArchiveGrid.

OCLC Control Numbers in the wild

A few weeks ago, Jim posted about OCLC Control Numbers and their public domain status. In that posting, Jim wrote, of the OCN, “It’s an important element in linked library data that helps in the creation and maintenance of work sets and provides a mechanism to disambiguate authors and titles.” He went on to detail the numerous ways that the OCN has been “widely used within the broad system of information that flows among libraries, national information agencies, commercial information providers and organizations that supply consumers with book and journal-oriented services.”

While that’s all well and good (and true) I wanted to provide some specific details on how the OCN is being used outside of what most of us consider normal channels of book information flows, and that is how the OCN is being used in (English Language) Wikipedia and in the ambitious Wikidata project. These are based on some counts that Max and I did a while ago, but I think they are current enough to make my point, which is that the OCN is recognized as having value outside of the library and publishing domain.

Wikipedia relies pretty heavily on a number of templates — one such template is the Authority Control Template, which Max has written about before. Another template, which I know you’ve all seen before, is the Infobox Book template.

Infobox Book For Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness

Infobox Book For Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness

This template, like most Wikipedia templates, contains what we would immediately recognize as metadata. This example, of Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness, includes the author, date and country of publication, ISBN, and our friend the OCN. The OCN has been used in this template for a long time, and helps, as does the ISBN, to disambiguate works from one another. In Wikipedia, as in library catalogs, disambiguation is important, which is why the Wiki community values trusted identifiers like the OCN. And the OCN can really come in handy when there is no ISBN, as is the case with any book published before 1970.

Although not every Wikipedia article that is about a book has this template, but many do, so it can be a good way to see how many books have Wikipedia articles about them. A few months ago, I did a count on a dump of Wikipedia (using some jazzy scripts that Max wrote) and found that there were 29,673 instances of Infobox Book. In those templates, there were 23,304 ISBNs and 15,226 OCNs. Let’s hear it for identifiers!

Max did a count of identifiers in the newer Wikidata, and found that of around 14 million Wikidata items, 28,741 were books. 5403 Wikidata items have an ISBN-13 associated with them, and 12,262 have OCNs. Why is the number of ISBNs so low? Because Wikidata has a slot for ISBN-13 only; they are assuming that contributors will pad any ISBN-10s, but the numbers speak for themselves. Identifiers are of even greater importance in Wikidata than in Wikipedia, since Wikidata is all about metadata.

So there’s a look at how the humble OCN is being used, even outside the library and publishing context.

As a sidenote, there are several different flavors of Infobox Book, and one of them, I recently learned, is Infobox Dr Who Book. Go figure.

Building and managing your social media brand

This blog posting evolved out of an assignment we received, to share with colleagues at OCLC Research how to build and maintain a social media brand. While there’s nothing on this list that is particularly original, we both thought that the advice we came up with for colleagues was also worth sharing with a larger audience. Some of you may be consumers of social media, but not already actively blogging, Tweeting, or Tumbling. Others of you are hardened experts and we hope you will share your wisdom in the comments below!

Your online brand is the reputation you establish over time by providing useful and appreciated value to others. Establishing your brand and maintaining requires commitment, since constant activity is better than episodic participation. Also, it is much easier to damage your online brand than it is to build it, so participate thoughtfully and with grace.

  • Determine what your online “handle” (nickname) will be and use it everywhere. The more consistent you can be with the use of your chosen handle the more likely your potential audience will recognize that it represents you in a variety of contexts (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Register the domain name as well, in case you ever want to have your own web site.
  • Select the fora in which you will participate (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.). You should participate in sites and services where the audience you wish to reach can already be found. For example, if no one you know hangs out on Google+, then skip it. Don’t forget mailing lists, which can still be an important venue for participating with a given community.
  • Participate consistently. Participating in online forums should be a regular part of your professional life if you are trying to build and maintain an online brand. Being a consistently contributing member of a community is the most important method to build your reputation.
  • Contribute real value. Your contributions should carry value for those who will likely see it. For example, if you are trying to establish a reputation for insightful commentary about libraries you may wish to avoid commenting a lot about politics or what you had for dinner. This can vary a bit by venue, with some being more formal than others, but always consider the impression you are trying to make within a given venue.
  • Say why. If you’re linking to something, say why your readers should click through to it. Be a good citizen and give as much context as possible, even with character limits.
  • Do not post when impaired (e.g., angry, drunk, depressed, etc.). What seems like a good idea at the time may not be. If you must, write it up but don’t post it until you’ve slept on it.
  • Consider reposting key items at opposite times of day (to make your impact felt in the broadest set of timezones possible).
  • Use the option to schedule posts when appropriate. Most social software clients have methods to schedule a post hitting a particular service at a particular day and/or time. This can be used, for example, to keep up an online presence during a vacation or to repost in a different timezone.
  • Keep in mind that nothing on the Internet can be considered private. Nothing. Whatever you write can show up in places you don’t expect, so be nice. Always. This doesn’t mean you should not forcefully argue your point, just be respectful about it.
  • Post appropriately for the venue. Twitter, for example, is a friendly venue for humor and personal comments. LinkedIn groups, however, are likely not.
  • Avoid “tweet bombing”. If you only check your social media account once a day, don’t make the mistake of posting or tweeting a lot during that one session. If people see many posts coming from you during a short period, it becomes more annoying than helpful. Rather, use the scheduling feature that your client software may (should) have to space out your posts or shares over time.
  • Be a good (and reciprocal) citizen. Everyone loves to have their links and wisdom shared. If you share something you got from someone else, give credit where credit is due. A name check at the right time will go a long way towards establishing good relationships.
  • Be in the flow. At conferences, you can leverage the conference stream both to keep up with what is happening in parallel sessions but also to boost your own signal. People who don’t normally follow you will follow a conference stream — if you are active in the stream, you will pick up new followers and also find some new people to follow yourself.
  • Periodically review your online presence. Are you participating in the right forums? Are there new venues you should add to your repertoire? Others that you can withdraw from? Keep in mind that your assessment of a given venue may change over time. I initially thought Twitter was only really useful at conferences, but later assessments changed my mind.
  • Use services such as, Feedburner, etc. to assess, not obsess. That is, services that rate the impact of your social media presence can be useful to get feedback on your impact, but do not become obsessed with increasing your score. Remember that your overall professional brand also includes other important factors, such as the articles you publish and the presentations you give.
  • Don’t worry about turning your back: Once you’re engaged, it can be hard to step away from the stream, but it will be okay. Anything really important will come back around again.
  • Be yourself (within limits!). Although social media is durable, there is no reason to hide who you are. In fact, expressing your personality let’s people know that you are not just someone who works for a particular organization, but a person with passions, interests, and (hopefully) a sense of humor.

With time and consistent performance, your online reputation can be a strong complement to your overall professional reputation. By establishing a strong and valued online presence you can increase the demand for your work in other venues, such as presentations at professional conferences or invited articles for professional journals. Without such a presence in an era dominated by electronic communication, you may run the risk of damaging an otherwise stellar professional reputation.

Reflections on a year as an OCLC Diversity Fellow

[This post was written by Julianna Barrera-Gomez. I hope you will join me in congratulating Julianna on a successful year as a Diversity Fellow!]

Having just wrapped up my stint at OCLC Research as a 2012 OCLC Jay Jordan Diversity Fellow, I can now pause to reflect on my time there and the amazing opportunities I had. In my year-long position I got the chance to work with a lot of great people at OCLC, both inside and out of Research. The following is a sampling of things I got to do while here and some of the people I got to work with.

I started at OCLC as a member of Senior Research Scientist Lynn Silipigni-Connaway’s team, where I got a hearty dose of qualitative research support experience working with her various projects that evaluate the information seeking behavior of users (such as the Visitors and Residents and Cyber Synergy projects). Hours (and hours!) of team member time goes into devising methods of collecting and evaluating information. This includes things like formulating questions for phone interviews and online surveys, coming up with methods of analysis for the answers we receive, putting results and interviewee information into NVivo (a qualitative analysis software tool) and running queries, then hours more of analysis to come up with findings. All of that work is made worthwhile when we get to discuss findings and put them into a finished product, such as a paper or conference presentation. In addition to working with Lynn’s project, I also got to work with Postdoctoral Research Fellow Ixchel Faniel on her project titled Dissemination Information Packages for Information Reuse (DIPIR). I was very interested in working on these projects because I wanted to understand how users interact with various information systems (such as web-based databases and repositories) and what their expectations and issues are when finding and using online information. As an archivist, I leaped at the chance to be a part of these projects so I could learn how to replicate this sort of data gathering and analysis with archives users.

Poster from the DIPIR project presented at the 2013 iConference in Fort Worth, TX.  “A Comparative Study of Data Reuse among Quantitative Social Scientists and Archaeologists,” see the abstract at

Poster from the DIPIR project presented at the 2013 iConference in Fort Worth, TX. “A Comparative Study of Data Reuse among Quantitative Social Scientists and Archaeologists,” see the abstract at

Outside of the main office in Dublin, OH, I was able to work with the San Mateo, CA-based OCLC Research Library Partnership (RLP) members on an exciting archives project. I got an amazing chance to work with Program Officers Jackie Dooley and Ricky Erway on a report for their Demystifying Born Digital program, where I created experience-based recommendations (from our wonderfully helpful expert advisor group) and detail-rich advice on accessioning born-digital material. The report, titled Walk This Way: Detailed Steps for Transferring Born-Digital Content from Media You Can Read In-house gave me the chance to learn even more about archiving born-digital material and to respond to an identified need for support from RLP members. We’re hoping the report will provide further assistance and hopefully stimulate discussion in the archives community that will in turn help those who read it. As always, Jackie and Ricky welcome feedback and ideas — they really want to hear from you!

One of the most enjoyable opportunities I had this year was the time to meet and work with people outside of OCLC Research. I couldn’t resist vising the OCLC Library and I was thrilled to get the chance to work with Curator Kemberly Lang, helping her process, arrange and describe archival collections. I got to surround myself with collections documenting the history of OCLC and the Dewey Decimal Classification System, including records from the Forest Press Editorial Policy Committee and theDewey Decimal Classification Editor’s Office.

An example of a digitized collection I worked on, the OCLC Pacific Network’s News Updates span from 1978-2004 on CONTENTdm

An example of a digitized collection I worked on, the OCLC Pacific Network’s News Updates span from 1978-2004 on CONTENTdm

I’ve had the opportunity to work on teams with researchers and partners of OCLC Research from several leading research universities, with member bases spanning several time zones. It’s been demanding, but it is so invigorating when we’re able to produce something that’s interesting and useful. It was an intense year, and the experience has given me numerous occasions to realize the importance of research. At conferences I was heartened to hear from attendees at our focus groups or our talks how much they appreciate our user focus and the data-driven outputs we share. Working at OCLC has also given me a unique view of the power of collaborative efforts to provide information and services to those who need it. I leave OCLC armed with new knowledge and anointed with zeal, ready to continue the effort to make archives and special collections more accessible and illuminating for users.