Professional Development

Author Archive

ALA Midwinter according to Derrik

Friday, February 7, 2014 12:09 pm

Vendor meetings

As usual, I spent a large part of this conference in the vendor exhibit hall.

I learned that Alexander Street Press is close to signing a deal to offer a certain film collection that I’ve heard people here express specific interest in (I don’t want to jinx the deal by naming the collection before it’s finalized). Bad news: it will be by subscription only, at least at the start. I also had an interesting after-dinner conversation with the President of Alexander Street Press, about how hard it is to come up with a good short-term loan model for streaming media (do you charge by the minute? what’s the appropriate price point?), and the difficulty of getting rights holders on board with it.

Data-Planet (provider of Statistical Datasets database) is targeting June/July for the release of a java-free user interface, and are also contemplating offering a one-time purchase option for their Statistical Data Sheets.

Elsevier‘s main development focus seems to be on Mendeley right now.

I learned more about the respective e-book models of both JSTOR and Project MUSE. Both e-book collections primarily feature university presses. A Project MUSE presenter said they try to select their e-books to match their existing subject strengths, so that the journal and book collections will complement each other. MUSE offers single-title purchasing via YBP, and JSTOR expects to offer it “in a few months.” JSTOR also offers a DDA model for e-books.

Oxford University Press now offers individual title purchasing for their Oxford Scholarship Online books. They are also now offering journal backfiles for title-by-title purchase.

A week before ALA, ZSR was asked/invited to become a Beta test site for the new EBL administrative module. So I spent half an hour at the ProQuest booth with Alison Bobal of EBL, getting a sneak preview. The new module seems much easier to use, and includes some functionality that up until now could only be handled by contacting EBL support, so I’m excited to be an early adopter. I also appreciate the opportunity to help shape the product. We went live on the new admin module today!

At the Third Iron booth, I learned more about a new feature of BrowZine, a product we subscribed to last August that allows WFU users to create a personalized collection of library-subscribed journals on their mobile devices. BrowZine can now include journals from ProQuest, EBSCOhost, and Ovid aggregator databases (initially it only included journals on publisher websites). We have, of course, turned on this new feature.

I learned about a couple of new e-book providers, and also had one-on-one meetings with our sales reps from APA Publishing, SAGE, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Thomson, and Wiley.

 

Committee meetings

I am in my third year of serving on the ALCTS Transforming Collections Task Force. The Task Force manages an ALCTS microgrant program to fund projects in support of the ALCTS goal of transforming collections. The first year we received a good number of applications, but the second year (last year) we only got a few few, so a good portion of this committee meeting was spent discussing whether or not to continue the microgrants (we decided yes, for at least one more year) and how to drum up applications. We talked about the many different ways in which collections and collecting are being transformed (e.g. shared collections, DDA, digitized local collections, open-access journals, user-generated content, etc.) and brainstormed ways to promote the theme of transforming collections.

I am also a member of the newly-formed ALCTS Standards Committee. The purposes of the committee are to educate ALCTS members about and encourage their involvement in the development of relevant standards and to support ALA’s voting representative to NISO. As this was the committee’s first meeting, it was mostly about getting organized, discussing how to best fulfill the committee’s role.

At my previous ALA conferences, I have enjoyed attending presentations sponsored by the Publisher-Vendor-Library Relations Interest Group (PVLR). At last month’s conference, I had (or made) time available to attend the PVLR business meeting. The group is made up of 3 co-chairs and anybody else who wants to attend. There were about 15-20 people there, and the meeting was simply an open discussion of possible topics for future PVLR presentations. Ideas included security/hacking; data mining & analysis (how to explain legitimate uses to publishers, how to explain rights holders’ concerns to the end-user); self-publishing; hybrid Open Access; and the future of society publishing.

 

Presentations

I did manage to attend a few presentations. In one, Rick Anderson, Associate Dean for Scholarly Resources & Collections at the University of Utah, discussed “predatory publishing,” and what makes a publisher “predatory.” Anderson admitted that there could be several kinds of predation, but he focused on two broad categories: misrepresentation (e.g. deliberately misleading journal titles, publisher name mimicking a legitimate-sounding organization, fictitious editorial board or real people’s names used without permission) and selling false prestige (e.g. false claims of peer review or impact factor). Anderson encouraged getting the word out to scholars about predatory publishers, but emphasized the need to do it delicately, lest we inadvertently send the message that all open-access third-world, small, or new publishers are bad. Following Anderson’s remarks, Regina Reynolds of the U.S. ISSN Center discussed how the ISSN network (U.S. and internationally) can and cannot help. Reynolds stressed that the ISSN is not a stamp of legitimacy, it’s just a “dumb number.” On the other hand, the ISSN network recognizes that they cannot be perceived to enable fraudulent publishing, so they have established some guidelines, such as no longer assigning an ISSN prior to the publication of the first issue, and being more careful about publishers requesting a large block of ISSNs.

In a session sponsored by ProQuest, Michael Levine-Clark presented results of his analysis of e-book usage over multiple years on the ebrary and EBL platforms. ProQuest had provided him with usage data from both providers, covering 4 years and 750,000 titles. It’s hard to pick out the salient points when there was so much information presented, but here’s my version of the highlights:

  • University press titles consistently got higher use (sessions, page views, printing, etc.) than the overall collection average. BUT this might simply be because university press titles are available in more libraries and therefore to more users. Levine-Clark was working with aggregate data, and did not have information about individual library usage or holdings.
  • Books in the Social Sciences seem to be used at a slightly higher rate than the Humanities or STM. BUT page views and printing per user session were highest in STM. In other words, even though a lower percentage of STM books got used, they seem to get used more intensely.
  • Question: Does more page views per session = more time in the book? or just rapidly “flipping” through? Levine-Clark did not have data regarding amount of time spent in the book.
  • Question: What constitutes a meaningful use of an e-book? Levine-Clark suggested that copying may be the best measure (indicates the user found something they wanted to save). Printing or time in the book might be other possibilities, though it is not uncommon for a user to print something just for offline reading.

The presentation slides are available at http://www.slideshare.net/michaellevineclark.

One of the authors who spoke at the conference was David Baldacci. I credit Baldacci with getting me interested again in reading for pleasure, after I heard him speak back in 2002 or 2003, so of course I had to go hear him again. He only spoke for about 20 minutes, but made up for it with an unannounced book signing, signing proofs of his forthcoming young-adult fiction novel The Finisher.

Charleston Conference online

Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:49 am

I have never actually attended the Charleston Conference, but this year they broadcast a small number of sessions live over the Internet. I tuned in to watch two of those sessions.

In a pre-conference segment, Judy Ruttenberg from the Association of Research Libraries spoke about legal issues in providing online resource access for print-disabled patrons. I learned that Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, requiring accessible electronic technology, applies to institutions receiving certain federal funding (and Ruttenberg made it sound like it applies to virtually all universities in the U.S.), but it does not apply to the private sector. So while it is illegal for a school/university to require the use of an inaccessible device, it is not illegal for Amazon or B&N (for example) to produce an inaccessible e-reader. As a matter not just of legality but of providing good service, Ruttenberg encouraged compliance with standards, especially WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines-I had to look it up). She also suggested that libraries could partner with campus offices for students with disabilities, and with professors, to advocate for technology and service standards and to help make sure content is accessible. Finally, Ruttenberg addressed the challenge of getting e-resource licenses in line with accessibility needs, especially given that content providers are not liable. As with the technology, model license language is a moving target, but she recommended pointing to standards (such as WCAG 2.0), as well as asking for the right to make the content usable. She closed by quoting someone (sorry, I didn’t catch who) asking why we don’t push for indemnification against third-party lawsuits for inaccessibility. In the Q&A, a discussion arose around whether an institution would be within their rights to make content accessible even if the license doesn’t permit it; Kevin Smith (Duke’s Scholarly Communications Officer), who was in the audience, asked which lawsuit you would rather defend-a content provider alleging you didn’t have the right to do that, or a disabled student who couldn’t access course material.

The other session I watched was a presentation of research on the effects of discovery systems on e-journal usage. The researchers (Michael Levine-Clark, U. of Denver; Jason Price, SCELC; John McDonald, U. of Southern California) looked at the usage of journals from 6 major publisher at 24 libraries-6 for each of the four major discover systems (Summon, Primo, EBSCO Discover Service [EDS], and WorldCat Local [WCL]). The presentation went fast and I had a hard time keeping up, but the methodology seemed logical and the results interesting. Results varied of course, especially the effect of the discovery system on the different publishers’ content, but there did appear to be a resulting increase in journal usage, with Primo and Summon affecting usage more than EDS and WCL. The main purpose of the current study was to see if they could detect a difference, which they did. Their next step will be to try to determine what factors are causing the differences.

Derrik at NCLA 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013 12:13 pm

Here’s my summary of last week’s North Carolina Library Association conference. Overall, I thought it was a great conference, and I was glad I attended.

E-books

Christopher Harris, editor for the American Libraries e-content blog, gave a very good update on the e-book industry, although it was mostly geared toward public libraries. Some of my favorite sound bites and key concepts:

  • Don’t stress out about change. “Stuff is constantly changing; let it flow.”
  • The last disruptive technology we saw was the iPod and mp3′s. Experts (audiophiles) hate mp3′s because of the lower sound quality, but for the average user, an iPod & earbuds sure beats walking around with a phonograph or boombox. Librarians need to avoid being the nay-saying experts.
  • If all we’re doing is providing e-books, we’re in trouble because it can be outsourced at a much lower cost. Libraries can be filters and help users avoid “analysis paralysis,” like shopping at Trader Joe’s, where much of the selection has already been done for you.

Harris encouraged us to be willing to experiment with new models of purchase and access, and to think with our “math brains” instead of our “emotional” brains. For example, we all got up in arms when Harper Collins announced a 26-loan maximum, but Harris pointed out that for a $20 book that amounts to about $0.72 per loan. “How much per loan does a print book cost?” (in labor and building/shelving costs), he asked. Harris reviewed the current license models used by some of the “Big 6″ publishers. He pointed out that Macmillan does not sell to library consortia, and said (almost angrily), “That’s where we should plant our flag!” because resource sharing is much more important than a 26- or 52-loan limit.

Harris’ parting advice:

The next day, I attended a panel discussion and found out that NC LIVE is already working on a new model for shared e-books. I confess I didn’t understand all this very well, and it’s all still in Beta, but I’ll try to keep this general in hopes that I won’t go too far off track. NC LIVE has been working with Wake County Public Library to develop a shared platform for library e-books. Note that it will be the platform technology that is shared, not necessarily the e-books. It will be up to individual libraries to implement the platform (developed by NC LIVE) on their own websites. The vision is that each member library will be able to purchase e-books and place them on the NC LIVE platform, either shareable or private to the purchasing library. NC LIVE has started negotiating with several NC publishers to make their e-books available on the platform. It wasn’t clear to me whether those are e-books that NC LIVE will purchase, or if they’ll simply be available for member libraries to purchase. Target launch date for the platform is January 2014. There will be some content from one publisher (John Blair, based in Winston-Salem) available at that time, and NC LIVE hopes to have additional content from other publishers available by July. For now, the only access model for these e-books will be single concurrent user.

 

Digital/Digitized Library Collections

I went to a couple of presentations on digital collections available via the State Library. See http://digital.ncdcr.gov/. There’s a lot of good stuff available for NC historical research, such as family bibles, wills, property records, cemetery photographs, a Civil War Roster index, an index of the Raleigh News & Observer covering 1926-1992, and an archive of all NC government websites. I also went to a session that gave an update on NC ECHO [http://ncecho.org/], which searches across the digital collections of various libraries, museums, and archives in North Carolina (including Digital Forsyth, for example). NC ECHO uses the OAI-PMH standard to gather metadata from the various collections, then builds a searchable index of all these collections.

 

Electronic Resource Management Systems

I formed and participated in a panel discussion about E-Resource Management Systems (ERMS). Our panel included librarians using an open-source ERMS (me, talking about CORAL), a ILS-vendor’s ERMS, and a content-vendor’s ERMS. It was fun (in an e-resource-managing-geeky sort of way) to see how the strengths of the systems varied according to provider. The presentation was well attended, and I received some positive feedback afterward.

 

Keynotes

I won’t try to summarize the keynote addresses, but here are a couple of my favorite highlights:

In speaking of our responsibility to present readers with all sides of a controversial topic, ALA President Barbara Stripling pointed out that in a print environment, libraries could place all the relevant resources together on the shelf, so readers have to “at least trip over” other points of view on their way to the books they’re looking for. But in an online environment, it is too easy to limit yourself to resources that you already agree with, so libraries have a responsibility to teach users to look for those other points of view.

I’m sure others will offer a better description of ACRL President Trevor Dawes’ address, but the point that stood out the most to me was his explanation of why Financial Literacy is one of his main areas of focus. Dawes said that student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt in the United States. (Actually, that happened in 2010, but Yikes!)

 

Vendors

If you’ve read my past conference summaries, you won’t be surprised that I had some productive conversations with vendors in the exhibit hall. I talked with the Gale rep about the Cengage bankruptcy, and was again assured that it’s “business as usual” for Gale; she compared the bankruptcy to refinancing a mortgage (yeah, I know it’s more complicated than that, but I still thought it was a good analogy). The Reference USA rep gave me a heads up on a new data visualization feature, and told me to contact our sales rep about it (I think it’s available at no additional cost, waiting to hear back). I got an update on the new Alexander Street Press platform for streaming music & video, which is scheduled to be released later this week (but they’ve already had to push it back once). And I had another license-unjamming conversation with a publisher (like happened at ALA earlier this year). I had gone months without hearing a reply, then talked to the sales rep at the conference on Thursday, and I heard back from the license contact within a day!

 

A belated ALA report

Thursday, August 22, 2013 4:52 pm

Somehow, writing a blog post about my ALA 2013 experience seems to have slipped through the cracks. Could have something to do with the 5 licenses I currently have up in the air, I suppose. So here’s my report, to the best of my (and my notes’) memory. I thought I had some pictures to add, but alas, I can’t find them now, so this may be a boring post.

E-book Data Evaluation

Two presenters, one from a public library system and one from a university library, talked about how they use e-book usage data. The public librarian said that it is difficult, and perhaps invalid, to compare usage of e-books to usage of print books. She pointed out such differences as different loan periods; wait time for holds (much longer for print); overdues (none for e); different user base; e-book collection has more current, frontlist titles, and very few children’s e-books. The university librarian spoke a fair bit about demand-driven acquisition (DDA), but it didn’t sound like his library had any better grasp of things than we do. The bottom lines: be skeptical of the data, and so far no clear patterns are emerging.

Electronic Resource Management Interest Group

Two presenters from university libraries spoke about electronic resource management in the context of multiple user access models. That is, our users are presented with multiple means of accessing data; in our context, we’re talking VuFind, Summon, LibGuides, individual databases, library website, etc. The first speaker pointed out how difficult it is for the average user to navigate between those multiple avenues: If a user links from Summon into VuFind, how easy is it to get back to where they were in Summon? Is it confusing when they suddenly find themselves in a different UI? She challenged us to think about ways to make this environment more user-friendly. The second presenter pointed out that in many cases, we are managing similar data in multiple places. He also encouraged everyone to study information architecture to better understand the searchers’ perspective. Quotable quotes from this session: “We don’t call it cataloging any more; now it’s ‘discovery enhancement’,” and “There is not enough time or resources in the universe to be fully on top of e-resources maintenance.”

BIBFRAME Update

Steve gave a good report of this session in his ALA post. As a reminder, BIBFRAME (short for “bibliographic framework”) is being developed as a way of encoding bibliographic data (simplified version: replacement for MARC). As Steve said, BIBFRAME is still a long way from taking any recognizable form, but Eric Miller, co-founder and president of Zepheira (company working on BIBFRAME), described what I would call the theory behind BIBFRAME. According to Miller, the goal is to “make interconnectedness commonplace.” He compared it to Legos-you can buy them in different sets, but all are interoperable, allowing small bits of data to be joined in interesting ways. They don’t have to tell you in advance what the building blocks will form, just give communities the blocks and allow them to recombine them in ways meaningful to them. Beyond that, most of this session got very technical and was pretty much over my head.

Meeting with publishers & vendors

As usual, a very valuable aspect of ALA is the opportunity to meet with various vendors and publishers and either learn more about what they’re planning, tell them what we want them to plan, or both.

At the Project MUSE User Group breakfast, I learned that Project MUSE will have Highwire manage their computer operations (or something like that) beginning sometime next year. They assured us that they don’t plan to change the user interface; it will stay the same, but with Highwire “under the hood.” The MUSE folks said they are also looking at altmetrics and trying to find ways to measure the “impact” of humanities content. Project MUSE has been offering e-books for a year or two now (from 83 university presses & rising). Their e-books are now available for single-title purchase via YBP. In the Q&A, I asked if they are planning to stick with PDF format, or if they’re thinking of branching out into EPUB or other e-book formats. Answer: PDF for now, but EPUB and “other formats” are “on the radar” with the transition to Highwire. (My translation: don’t hold your breath.)

I also attended ProQuest’s sponsored breakfast, where speaker Megan Oakleaf gave essentially the same talk she gave at NASIG earlier that month, on using data to demonstrate the library’s value, based on things the larger institution values. I did like one example she gave, suggesting we look at course readings listed in Sakai/course syllabi and try to determine how much those readings would cost the students if they had to purchase each article individually. We need to explicitly connect the dots. Following Dr. Oakleaf, a Summon representative talked about the upcoming Summon 2.0. Then Kari Paulson, formerly President of EBL and now head of ProQuest’s combined EBL/ebrary division, talked about her vision for their new e-book venture. I mostly like what she said-striving to give customers more options (i.e. various acquisition models), integration with other ProQuest products, basically take the best of both EBL and ebrary-but it’s difficult to tell at this point how much of that is marketing-speak. But I at least like the overall vision. In a lighter moment, as Paulson began her portion, she quipped, “I no longer have sleepless nights worrying about what ebrary is up to.”

In other vendor interactions, I had a good discussion over lunch with Gale sale rep Matt Hancox, who picked my brain about DDA (and how Gale might enter that arena), and who also gave me a heads up about their parent company Cengage filing for bankruptcy (they’re calling it “debt restructuring,” but it’s business as usual for Gale customers). I also got a chance to meet a couple of vendor e-mail contacts face-to-face. My notes say something about JSTOR’s e-books and DDA, but I don’t remember anything beyond that. And finally (not just last in my report but also last in my conference), I dropped by the Palgrave booth to complain about our stalled license negotiation. We had sent in our request for some changes to the license back in December, and all we had heard back since then was that it was in their lawyer’s queue. I mentioned this to the person standing in the Palgrave booth at ALA, and said that it give the impression that they don’t care about our business. Well, it turns out that the person I was speaking to was in their Marketing department, and she took me very seriously. She said she had a meeting with their Legal department in a couple of weeks and would bring up our conversation. A good way to end the conference, eh? About 3 weeks later I got an e-mail from our Palgrave contact saying that our license was being reviewed by Legal. Nice!

Somehow, writing a blog post about my ALA 2013 experience seems to have slipped through the cracks. Could have something to do with the 5 licenses I currently have up in the air, I suppose. So here’s my report, to the best of my (and my notes’) memory. I thought I had some pictures to add, but alas, I can’t find them now, so this will probably be a boring post.

E-book Data Evaluation

Two presenters, one from a public library system and one from a university library, talked about how they use e-book usage data. The public librarian said that it is difficult, and perhaps invalid, to compare usage of e-books to usage of print books. She pointed out such differences as different loan periods; wait time for holds (much longer for print); overdues (none for e); different user base; e-book collection has more current, frontlist titles, and very few children’s e-books. The university librarian spoke a fair bit about demand-driven acquisition (DDA), but it didn’t sound like his library had any better grasp of things than we do. The bottom lines: be skeptical of the data, and so far no clear patterns are emerging.

Electronic Resource Management Interest Group

Two presenters from university libraries spoke about electronic resource management in the context of multiple user access models. That is, our users are presented with multiple means of accessing data; in our context, we’re talking VuFind, Summon, LibGuides, individual databases, library website, etc. The first speaker pointed out how difficult it is for the average user to navigate between those multiple avenues: If a user links from Summon into VuFind, how easy is it to get back to where they were in Summon? Is it confusing when they suddenly find themselves in a different UI? She challenged us to think about ways to make this environment more user-friendly. The second presenter pointed out that in many cases, we are managing similar data in multiple places. He also encouraged everyone to study information architecture to better understand the searchers’ perspective. Quotable quotes from this session: “We don’t call it cataloging any more; now it’s ‘discovery enhancement’,” and “There is not enough time or resources in the universe to be fully on top of e-resources maintenance.”

BIBFRAME Update

Steve gave a good report of this session in his ALA post [http://cloud.lib.wfu.edu/blog/pd/2013/07/12/steve-at-ala-annual-2013-and-rda-training-at-winthrop-university/]. As a reminder, BIBFRAME (short for “bibliographic framework”) is being developed as a way of encoding bibliographic data (simplified version: replacement for MARC). As Steve said, BIBFRAME is still a long way from taking any recognizable form, but Eric Miller, co-founder and president of Zepheira (company working on BIBFRAME), described what I would call the theory behind BIBFRAME. According to Miller, the goal of BIBFRAME is to “make interconnectedness commonplace.” He compared it to Legos-you can buy them in different sets, but all are interoperable, allowing small bits of data to be joined in interesting ways. They don’t have to tell you in advance what the building blocks will form, just give communities the blocks and allow them to recombine them in ways meaningful to them. Beyond that, most of this session got very technical and was pretty much over my head.

Meeting with publishers & vendors

As usual, a very valuable aspect of ALA is the opportunity to meet with various vendors and publishers and either learn more about what they’re planning, tell them what we want them to plan, or both.

At the Project MUSE User Group breakfast, I learned that Project MUSE will have Highwire manage their computer operations (or something like that) beginning sometime next year. They assured us that they don’t plan to change the user interface; it will stay the same, but with Highwire “under the hood.” The MUSE folks said they are also looking at almetrics and trying to find ways to measure the “impact” of humanities content. Project MUSE has been offering e-books for a year or two now (from 83 university presses & rising). Their e-books are now available for single-title purchase via YBP. In the Q&A, I asked if they are planning to stick with PDF format, or if they’re thinking of branching out into EPUB or other e-book formats. Answer: PDF for now, but EPUB and “other formats” are “on the radar” with the transition to Highwire. (My translation: don’t hold your breath.)

I also attended ProQuest’s sponsored breakfast, where speaker Megan Oakleaf gave essentially the same talk she gave at NASIG earlier that month [http://cloud.lib.wfu.edu/blog/pd/2013/06/26/nasig-2013/], on using data to demonstrate the library’s value, based on things the larger institution values. I did like one example she gave, suggesting we look at course readings listed in Sakai/course syllabi and try to determine how much those readings would cost the students if they had to purchase each article individually. We need to explicitly connect the dots. Following Dr. Oakleaf, a Summon representative talked about the upcoming Summon 2.0. Then Kari Paulson, formerly President of EBL and now head of ProQuest’s combined EBL/ebrary division, talked about her vision for their new e-book venture. I mostly like what she said-striving to give customers more options (i.e. various acquisition models), integration with other ProQuest products, basically take the best of both EBL and ebrary-but it’s difficult to tell at this point how much of that is marketing-speak. But I at least like the overall vision. In a lighter moment, as she began her portion, Paulson quipped, “I no longer have sleepless nights worrying about what ebrary is up to.”

In other vendor interactions, I had a good discussion over lunch with Gale sale rep Matt Hancox, who picked my brain about DDA (and how Gale might get a piece of that pie), and who also gave me a heads up about Cengage filing for bankruptcy (they’re calling it “debt restructuring,” but it’s business as usual for Gale customers). I also got a chance to meet a couple of vendor e-mail contacts face-to-face. My notes say something about JSTOR’s e-books and DDA, but I don’t remember anything beyond that. And finally (not just last in my report but also last in my conference), I dropped by the Palgrave booth to complain about our stalled license negotiation. We had sent in our request for some changes to the license back in December, and all we had heard back since then was that it was in their lawyer’s queue. I mentioned this to the person standing in the Palgrave booth at ALA, and said that it give the impression that they don’t care about our business. Well, it turns out that the person I was speaking to was in their Marketing department, and she took me very seriously. She said she had a meeting with their Legal department in a couple of weeks and would bring up our conversation. A good way to end the conference, eh? About 3 weeks later I got an e-mail from our Palgrave contact saying that our license was (finally) being reviewed by Legal!Somehow, writing a blog post about my ALA 2013 experience seems to have slipped through the cracks. Could have something to do with the 5 licenses I currently have up in the air, I suppose. So here’s my report, to the best of my (and my notes’) memory. I thought I had some pictures to add, but alas, I can’t find them now, so this will probably be a boring post.

E-book Data Evaluation

Two presenters, one from a public library system and one from a university library, talked about how they use e-book usage data. The public librarian said that it is difficult, and perhaps invalid, to compare usage of e-books to usage of print books. She pointed out such differences as different loan periods; wait time for holds (much longer for print); overdues (none for e); different user base; e-book collection has more current, frontlist titles, and very few children’s e-books. The university librarian spoke a fair bit about demand-driven acquisition (DDA), but it didn’t sound like his library had any better grasp of things than we do. The bottom lines: be skeptical of the data, and so far no clear patterns are emerging.

Electronic Resource Management Interest Group

Two presenters from university libraries spoke about electronic resource management in the context of multiple user access models. That is, our users are presented with multiple means of accessing data; in our context, we’re talking VuFind, Summon, LibGuides, individual databases, library website, etc. The first speaker pointed out how difficult it is for the average user to navigate between those multiple avenues: If a user links from Summon into VuFind, how easy is it to get back to where they were in Summon? Is it confusing when they suddenly find themselves in a different UI? She challenged us to think about ways to make this environment more user-friendly. The second presenter pointed out that in many cases, we are managing similar data in multiple places. He also encouraged everyone to study information architecture to better understand the searchers’ perspective. Quotable quotes from this session: “We don’t call it cataloging any more; now it’s ‘discovery enhancement’,” and “There is not enough time or resources in the universe to be fully on top of e-resources maintenance.”

BIBFRAME Update

Steve gave a good report of this session in his ALA post [http://cloud.lib.wfu.edu/blog/pd/2013/07/12/steve-at-ala-annual-2013-and-rda-training-at-winthrop-university/]. As a reminder, BIBFRAME (short for “bibliographic framework”) is being developed as a way of encoding bibliographic data (simplified version: replacement for MARC). As Steve said, BIBFRAME is still a long way from taking any recognizable form, but Eric Miller, co-founder and president of Zepheira (company working on BIBFRAME), described what I would call the theory behind BIBFRAME. According to Miller, the goal of BIBFRAME is to “make interconnectedness commonplace.” He compared it to Legos-you can buy them in different sets, but all are interoperable, allowing small bits of data to be joined in interesting ways. They don’t have to tell you in advance what the building blocks will form, just give communities the blocks and allow them to recombine them in ways meaningful to them. Beyond that, most of this session got very technical and was pretty much over my head.

Meeting with publishers & vendors

As usual, a very valuable aspect of ALA is the opportunity to meet with various vendors and publishers and either learn more about what they’re planning, tell them what we want them to plan, or both.

At the Project MUSE User Group breakfast, I learned that Project MUSE will have Highwire manage their computer operations (or something like that) beginning sometime next year. They assured us that they don’t plan to change the user interface; it will stay the same, but with Highwire “under the hood.” The MUSE folks said they are also looking at almetrics and trying to find ways to measure the “impact” of humanities content. Project MUSE has been offering e-books for a year or two now (from 83 university presses & rising). Their e-books are now available for single-title purchase via YBP. In the Q&A, I asked if they are planning to stick with PDF format, or if they’re thinking of branching out into EPUB or other e-book formats. Answer: PDF for now, but EPUB and “other formats” are “on the radar” with the transition to Highwire. (My translation: don’t hold your breath.)

I also attended ProQuest’s sponsored breakfast, where speaker Megan Oakleaf gave essentially the same talk she gave at NASIG earlier that month [http://cloud.lib.wfu.edu/blog/pd/2013/06/26/nasig-2013/], on using data to demonstrate the library’s value, based on things the larger institution values. I did like one example she gave, suggesting we look at course readings listed in Sakai/course syllabi and try to determine how much those readings would cost the students if they had to purchase each article individually. We need to explicitly connect the dots. Following Dr. Oakleaf, a Summon representative talked about the upcoming Summon 2.0. Then Kari Paulson, formerly President of EBL and now head of ProQuest’s combined EBL/ebrary division, talked about her vision for their new e-book venture. I mostly like what she said-striving to give customers more options (i.e. various acquisition models), integration with other ProQuest products, basically take the best of both EBL and ebrary-but it’s difficult to tell at this point how much of that is marketing-speak. But I at least like the overall vision. In a lighter moment, as she began her portion, Paulson quipped, “I no longer have sleepless nights worrying about what ebrary is up to.”

In other vendor interactions, I had a good discussion over lunch with Gale sale rep Matt Hancox, who picked my brain about DDA (and how Gale might get a piece of that pie), and who also gave me a heads up about Cengage filing for bankruptcy (they’re calling it “debt restructuring,” but it’s business as usual for Gale customers). I also got a chance to meet a couple of vendor e-mail contacts face-to-face. My notes say something about JSTOR’s e-books and DDA, but I don’t remember anything beyond that. And finally (not just last in my report but also last in my conference), I dropped by the Palgrave booth to complain about our stalled license negotiation. We had sent in our request for some changes to the license back in December, and all we had heard back since then was that it was in their lawyer’s queue. I mentioned this to the person standing in the Palgrave booth at ALA, and said that it give the impression that they don’t care about our business. Well, it turns out that the person I was speaking to was in their Marketing department, and she took me very seriously. She said she had a meeting with their Legal department in a couple of weeks and would bring up our conversation. A good way to end the conference, eh? About 3 weeks later I got an e-mail from our Palgrave contact saying that our license was (finally) being reviewed by Legal!

NASIG 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 2:24 pm

This year’s conference of the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) was held June 6-9 in Buffalo, NY. After a bumpy plane ride, Chris and I arrived safely in Buffalo. (NASIG VP/Pres-elect Steve Kelley got there a day ahead of us.)

The opening session was presented by Dr. Bryan Alexander, from the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE). His address was primarily an overview of technology trends, especially use of mobile devices. The audience seemed engaged, but the audio was terrible where I sat, and then I lost most of my notes on his talk due -ironically- to a technology error, so Steve or Chris will have to fill you in.

I thought Saturday’s plenary address was a good combination of “Libraries are important” and “Libraries must change” [nod to Carol]. The speaker, Megan Oakleaf of Syracuse University, focused on how to communicate the importance of libraries to stakeholders. She said there is a lot of information on the value of libraries in general, but not much on their value to the sponsoring organization. The usual value metrics-user satisfaction, service quality, collection counts, usage (“a lot of people downloaded a lot of things”)-don’t communicate a compelling message. Oakleaf said we should identify what the institution/community values, then tie the message of library outcomes to those values. How/what does the library contribute toward student recruitment? student success? faculty recruitment/tenure/promotion? research funding? local economy? Do students who use more library resources ultimately get better grades? She encouraged us to think about what data we need to collect in order to answer such questions.

Sunday’s plenary session featured Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of The Googlization of Everything (and Why We Should Worry). He was scheduled to talk about “the Challenge of Big Data,” and it so happened that this session came just a few days after news of the NSA’s Prism surveillance program broke. I found his presentation fascinating. He pointed out that Google (along with other big-data endeavors) is in the prediction business, using the massive amounts of data on past user behavior to read our minds. He wondered aloud about the NSA’s ability to read and misread our information, and about how statistical correlation could kill the scientific method. This new system means no second chances; the stupid mistakes of our youth never go away. Yet most of us continue to carry GPS devices (aka cell phones) with us wherever we go, and we continue to use Google and grocery store “loyalty” cards. My favorite take-away was Vaidhyanathan’s explanation of privacy. He said that privacy is not about hiding all information, but is the ability to influence your reputation within certain contexts. There are some things you want your brother to know, but not your sister, or your clergy but not your coach. When the defaults are set to lock the flow of information open, then we lose that control and have no privacy. He said he sees a new digital divide, between those who are savvy enough to shape their digital profile and those who are victims of the system, who don’t understand, for instance, the connection between their poor credit score and their difficulty finding a job. He urged those of us on the savvier side to fight for those who don’t know how to protect their rights.

And that’s the short version of my notes on that session!

EBSCO Usage Consolidation
You probably didn’t know this, but ZSR recently subscribed to EBSCO Usage Consolidation (UC), an online service for aggregating journal usage statistics. So I went to a session in which librarians from two universities described their experience with the product. Their review was mixed. Specific problems noted included (1) a lot of up-front effort to reconcile title differences; (2) difficult user interface; (3) default cost-per-use display includes usage from aggregator databases without factoring in the cost. They liked having cost-per-use data, and the number of available reports, but librarians at one university found it too cumbersome for title-by-title review.

Designing User-Centered Services for Virtual Users
The main take-away from this session was how nice it is to work at ZSR. The presenters made a big deal out of public services and technical services working together, like it was something novel to get public services’ “endorsement” for customizing the EBSCOhost interface. Steve and I talked later about how nice it is that everybody here is focused on what is best for our users.

Aggregator Databases: Cornerstone or Annex?
The presenters in this session described their efforts to assess the value of full-text content in aggregator databases. Rather than looking just at title counts, they compared full-text aggregator titles against ISI’s top-ranked journals (i.e. highest impact factors) in various subjects. For example, they determined that Academic Search Premier contained 11 of ISI’s top 25 journals in Education. Not surprisingly, they said they ended up with more questions than answers, such as the value of the aggregators’ indexing for article discovery. It was an interesting (if tedious) methodology, but ultimately doesn’t apply much to us given the role of NC LIVE providing much of our access to aggregator databases.

FRBR, Linked Data, & New Possibilities for Serials Cataloging
This was a very good presentation about the potential of linked data to bring together catalog records for related resources. The presenters described a scenario of a patron looking for the English translation of an Einstein paper. The original German work was published as a journal article in 1903. After much digging, they discovered the English translation within a 1989 monograph, but there was nothing in the respective catalog records directly linking the two manifestations together. The principles of FRBR and linked data can overcome MARC’s weakness in showing such relationships between items. Journals, articles, authors, and even subject headings, are all described as individual entities, and the coding describes their relationships to each other. The presenters talked about BIBFRAME, the Library of Congress’ “Bibliographic Framework Initiative” that is working toward replacing MARC. I admit I didn’t understand all this very well, and I’ll definitely be looking to learn more about it.

ONIX-PL
Finally, I had the opportunity at NASIG to pick Selden Lamoureux’s brain to learn more about ONIX-PL. What’s that? I’m glad you asked. ONIX-PL is a NISO standard, kind of like MARC for e-resource licenses. The standard was released in 2009, but uptake has been slow (practically nil in the US). Learning to encode licenses in ONIX-PL isn’t easy, so there hasn’t been much incentive for publishers to start using the standard. NISO recently received a Mellon grant to encode a collection of license templates, to give publishers and libraries a starting point, and NISO has contracted with Selden Lamoureux to do the encoding. So it was a great opportunity for me to meet up with her and learn more about ONIX-PL and the encoding project (which I plan to write more about in an upcoming article).

Electronic Resources & Libraries conference, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 3:56 pm

The seventh Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) conference was held on March 18-20, 2013. This was the second year that ER&L offered a “virtual conference,” streaming many of the live sessions via a secure internet connection. For less than the cost of two individual registrations, and with no airfare or hotel costs, we were able to register for a group viewing of the conference. By my count, there were seven ZSR folks who viewed at least one session of the conference! Our virtual conference registration also gives us access for a year to all the recorded sessions. The keynote addresses are currently available to anyone for free at http://www.electroniclibrarian.com/conference-info/2013-keynote-speakers.

I highly recommend the opening keynote address by Michael Eisenberg, Dean Emeritus of the University of Washington’s Information School and co-founder of Project Information Literacy (PIL). Eisenberg’s address was titled “Listening to Users,” and he based it on some of the PIL findings. According to Eisenberg’s research, multitasking students are more the exception than the rule. Today’s students tend to see technology as a distraction, and they will often unplug and “go monastic” when they are studying. Eisenberg said that employers recognize that graduates are good with technology, but they lack traditional low-tech research skills. He encouraged us to look beyond formal IL training and try to find ways to embed information literacy into online products themselves. The entire address is available at http://bit.ly/eisenbergerl13 (no password required).

The conference had several sessions on “discovery” systems. In one presentation (“What would Google do?”), Andrew Nagy of Serials Solutions reported that 45% of all search queries in Summon are 3 words or less. I didn’t catch the specific percentages (maybe I should re-watch the presentation), but Nagy said that for most of the searches with 2 or 3 search terms, the user does not end up clicking on any results. This “abandonment rate” levels out around 4-5 search terms. The two most frequent Summon searches are “JSTOR” and “PubMed” (the third most common, in case you’re curious, is “global warming”). It was in response to that phenomenon that Serials Solutions created the ability for librarians to create “best bets” for certain search terms-for example, we could set it to bring up a link to JSTOR when a user searches Summon for “JSTOR”, or set a link to a web page showing the library’s hours when users search on “library hours” (which we have already done). Nagy also gave us a sneak peek at some of the Summon enhancements coming out this summer.

There was also an interesting panel discussion about discovery systems (“Truth or Dare”), featuring representatives from Serials Solutions, EBSCO, Ithaka S&R, and a librarian. The ground rules were “No name-calling, no shouting, no sales pitch.” One interesting aspect was their discussion of search statistics. The librarian observed that each time a user selects a facet, it is logged as a new search, so the number of searches isn’t a very meaningful statistic; as one attendee observed on Twitter, “Number of searches is dead, and Discovery has killed it.” The panelists also made some general comments about continuing development, and the Serials Solutions rep remarked “We’re really just getting started in discovery; there’s so much more we need to do.”

The Tuesday morning keynote was framed as an interview with Dan Tonkery, who has been an Associate University Librarian, a founder of Horizon Information Services, and an VP at EBSCO. Tonkery talked about things librarians wish publisher understood, and things publishers wish librarians understood. I have long enjoyed this type of mutual-understanding presentation, and Tonkery’s sense of humor also made it enjoyable (although it also led him to over-generalize at times). A few examples of the types of topics he addressed:

  • Standards (e.g. COUNTER for usage statistics) – Publishers don’t usually care about standards unless there is a direct effect on revenue. They definitely want to track usage, but how the data are presented is less important.
  • Perpetual access – “Perpetual access” is a term libraries invented, and it tends to be something publishers either don’t care about or are not equipped to manage. A common approach is to not worry about tracking what a library’s perpetual access rights should be, and leave it to the library to alert them if something is wrong.
  • License negotiation – Publisher get a mixed message, because many libraries will sign whatever terms are put in front of them. Tonkery suggested that when handed a license with unfavorable terms, the librarian could just edit the document, sign it, and send it in, and “half the time, nobody will even notice.” (Did I mention he sometimes over-generalized?) If a publisher refuses to accept a crucial change, then the library should refuse to pay full price for the product. “Everything is negotiable.”
  • Publisher organization – Sales and Marketing departments don’t always talk to each other. Don’t assume your salesperson knows what marketing information you have received. Your sales reps also can’t do anything about license terms, but they can go back to the lawyers and say “We’re losing sales because of this.” Revenue is the language the publishers understand.

Of course there were a number of sessions that don’t have as many juicy tidbits to report on. There was the obligatory sesson on streaming video, with a Columbia University librarian describing their process for securing streaming rights (apparently they actively seek out rights to stream DVD’s that they purchase). A University of Michigan librarian described a pilot project of patron-driven acquisition of e-journals. In a separate session, another U.Mich. librarian described his research into effectiveness of OpenURL link resolvers, primarily using canned reports from SFX. I noticed that the best results they were getting at any point amounted to about an 81% success rate, which of course means that the “Full Text Options” links have about a 1 in 5 failure rate.

A new award was presented at the conference, the ER&L/EBSCO Information to Inspiration Fellowship, to support “research that will inspire and inform librarians worldwide about issues related to management of electronic resources.” The winner of this first award was NC LIVE!

The conference closed with a keynote address by Rachel Frick, Director of the Digital Library Federation. If that sounds familiar, it’s because she was also the opening keynote speaker at the North Carolina Serials Conference the preceding Friday. Her presentation also sounded familiar. At ER&L, she focused on being active contributors to the broader library community. Two of the points she made stood out to me this time. She told librarians to “Get off your e-horse!” In other words, stop thinking of products as e-this or e-that, especially when more and more of the stuff we deal with is electronic. Data and local content are part of everyone’s job, and everybody needs to have a knowledge of them.

Regarding contributing constructively to the conversation, Ms. Frick urged us to “Cut out the snark.” She said that the worst criticism of the DPLA project has been from within the library community. Snark, she said, “is really detrimental to new ideas.” We need to be open to feedback (both positive and negative). In turn, we should learn to deliver feedback in a way that is respectful & constructive.

As I’ve mentioned before, the recorded sessions of this conference will be available online to us for a year because we registered for the group online conference. Please contact me if you need access. The keynote addresses are available here and currently do not require log-in.

North Carolina Serials Conference, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013 5:27 pm

On Friday, March 15, Bradley, Linda Z., and I traveled to Chapel Hill for the 22nd annual North Carolina Serials Conference. They had a great program lined up. In addition to the breakout sessions, there were keynote addresses by DLF Program Director Rachel Frick and EBSCO’s Oliver Pesch, and a panel discussion with three journal editors.

In the opening keynote address, Rachel Frick (who is an alumna of both Guilford College and UNC-CH) spoke pretty passionately about taking advantage of online collaboration and the ability to create large networks of resources. She mentioned Hathi Trust, the Center for Research Libraries Print Archives, and the Digital Public Library of America, and strongly encouraged libraries to take advantage of cloud library projects and infrastructure. (Disappointed at the low number of raised hands showing who had read Constance Malpas’ OCLC Cloud Library Report, Ms. Frick said she was tempted to dismiss us right then so we could go read it.) Ms. Frick emphasized the importance of focusing efforts on unique, local collections and sharing those. She also urged everyone to contribute constructively to “the conversation,” to get involved, talk to people and seek out new ideas. My favorite quote, citing David Lankes: “The mission of libraries is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” I love the thought that our work facilitates the creation of new knowledge.

Oliver Pesch’s closing keynote address seemed to review the changes that libraries have made over the past 15-20 years (e.g. not just shifting from print to digital collections, but collaborative study spaces, wired study rooms, food outlets, etc.). I’m sad to say that’s about all I got out of it. Maybe others learned more.

I thought the panel discussion with the journal editors was quite interesting. The panel included editors from a society journal published by Nature, a social science journal published by SAGE, and a literature journal published by Duke U.P. I’ve heard presentations from journal publishers’ perspectives, but I think this was the first time I had been to one from the editors’ perspective. The society journal editor described a recent survey in which the editorial team asked the society members whether it was worth it to continue publishing the journal; the overwhelming response was yes, and that it was a valuable component of society membership. She presented other results of the survey. I was surprised that 67% of their authors expect a submitted article to be published online within 60 days. On a more disappointing (though not surprising) note, the social science journal editor remarked with a straight face that “Impact Factor is very important,” and one of the editors made a comment that seemed to equate open access publication with an absence of vetting or editorial oversight. [sigh]

I attended a breakout session that gave a good overview of RDA and serials cataloging. I was afraid it might overwhelm this non-cataloger, but it didn’t. Main takeaways: For now, expect a hybrid environment, and don’t worry about stylistic differences in records. Also, the presenters don’t expect the impact of RDA on serials cataloging to be significant. They also commented on some changes that are needed in OPACs, e.g. OPACs need to display the 264 field (since it is replacing the 260 field for publication data), plus some way to identify the type of resource, since the GMD (think “[Electronic resource]” after the title) is no longer part of the title field.

In another breakout session, Dianne Ford from Elon and Nancy Gibbs from Duke talked about their respective experiences with granting e-resource access to alumni. Both of them mentioned the relatively reasonable cost-Duke provides alumni access to eight different e-resources at a total cost of under $17,000/year (would be less for us). I was curious about how they handle user authentication. Elon uses Shibboleth, which allows different categories of users. At Duke the access and authentication are handled entirely by the Office of Alumni Affairs, so I didn’t get an answer there. Another challenge noted by Nancy Gibbs is that few, if any, vendors offer useable usage statistics; they either don’t offer any usage stats at all, or else the stats are combined with the overall campus use, so there’s no way, or else it’s very difficult, to distinguish how much the alumni are using the resources.

On Friday, March 15, Bradley, Linda Z., and I traveled to Chapel Hill for the 22nd annual North Carolina Serials Conference. They had a great program lined up. In addition to the breakout sessions, there were keynote addresses by DLF Program Director Rachel Frick and EBSCO’s Oliver Pesch, and a panel discussion with three journal editors.

 

In the opening keynote address, Rachel Frick (who is an alumna of both Guilford College and UNC-CH) spoke pretty passionately about taking advantage of online collaboration and the ability to create large networks of resources. She mentioned Hathi Trust, the Center for Research Libraries Print Archives, and the Digital Public Library of America, and strongly encouraged libraries to take advantage of cloud library projects and infrastructure. (Disappointed at the low number of raised hands showing who had read Constance Malpas’ OCLC Cloud Library Report [https://www.oclc.org/content/dam/research/publications/library/2011/2011-01.pdf], Ms. Frick said she was tempted to dismiss us right then so we could go read it.) Ms. Frick emphasized the importance of focusing efforts on unique, local collections and sharing those. She also urged everyone to contribute constructively to “the conversation,” to get involved, talk to people and seek out new ideas. My favorite quote, citing David Lankes [http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/atlas-new-librarianship]: “The mission of libraries is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” I love the thought that our work facilitates the creation of new knowledge.

 

Oliver Pesch’s closing keynote address seemed to review the changes that libraries have made over the past 15-20 years (e.g. not just shifting from print to digital collections, but collaborative study spaces, wired study rooms, food outlets, etc.). I’m sad to say that’s about all I got out of it. Maybe others learned more.

 

I thought the panel discussion with the journal editors was quite interesting. The panel included editors from a society journal published by Nature, a social science journal published by SAGE, and a literature journal published by Duke U.P. I’ve heard presentations from journal publishers’ perspectives, but I think this was the first time I had been to one from the editors’ perspective. The society journal editor described a recent survey in which the editorial team asked the society members whether it was worth it to continue publishing the journal; the overwhelming response was yes, and that it was a valuable component of society membership. She presented other results of the survey. I was surprised that 67% of their authors expect a submitted article to be published online within 60 days. On a more disappointing (though not surprising) note, the social science journal editor remarked with a straight face that “Impact Factor is very important,” and one of the editors made a comment that seemed to equate open access publication with an absence of vetting or editorial oversight. [sigh]

 

I attended a breakout session that gave a good overview of RDA and serials cataloging. I was afraid it might overwhelm this non-cataloger, but it didn’t. Main takeaways: For now, expect a hybrid environment, and don’t worry about stylistic differences in records. Also, the presenters don’t expect the impact of RDA on serials cataloging to be significant. They also commented on some changes that are needed in OPACs, e.g. OPACs need to display the 264 field (since it is replacing the 260 field for publication data), plus some way to identify the type of resource, since the GMD (think “[Electronic resource]” after the title) is no longer part of the title field.

 

In another breakout session, Dianne Ford from Elon and Nancy Gibbs from Duke talked about their respective experiences with granting e-resource access to alumni. Both of them mentioned the relatively reasonable cost-Duke provides alumni access to eight different e-resources at a total cost of under $17,000/year (would be less for us). I was curious about how they handle user authentication. Elon uses Shibboleth, which allows different categories of users. At Duke the access and authentication are handled entirely by the Office of Alumni Affairs, so I didn’t get an answer there. Another challenge noted by Nancy Gibbs is that few, if any, vendors offer useable usage statistics; they either don’t offer any usage stats at all, or else the stats are combined with the overall campus use, so there’s no way, or else it’s very difficult, to distinguish how much the alumni are using the resources.

ALA TechSource webinar on eBooks in Libraries, 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013 2:42 pm

On February 14th and 21st I attended a two-part webinar on e-books in libraries. The webinar was sponsored by ALA TechSource, and was presented by Sue Polanka, author of the blog No Shelf Required and of two books by the same name.

Part 1 of the webinar was primarily about different types of e-books and different purchase models. Part 2 was about e-reader lending programs, and was mainly targeted toward public libraries. As you might guess, both parts covered ground that we’ve already pretty well covered at ZSR. But I was able to pick up a few tidbits of knowledge that I’ll share here.

Polanka cited a Library Journal survey that found that about 92% of academic libraries provide some sort of access to e-books. I think that was intended to show the growth and prevalence of e-books, but it made me wonder about the remaining 8% (schools to avoid, perhaps?).

She talked about the advantages and disadvantages of buying e-books (1) directly from publishers, (2) from aggregators [think EBL or ebrary], and (3) from wholesalers [e.g. YBP], as well as hosting your own e-books locally (requires enormous IT and infrastructure resources). Polanka also brought up self-publishing, in which individual authors use a proprietary software service to publish their own books, and wondered aloud: How do we discover, review, purchase, and access these e-books?

My favorite insight from part 1 was Polanka’s Rule #1 of buying e-books: “You are not just buying content, you’re buying content inside a container.” In other words, collection decisions must also take the user experience into account. The container might include DRM, specific software or interface, or a specific vendor relationship. The content you want to purchase will often determine the business model, vendor, or license.

Part 2 of the webinar was about lending e-readers, and seem to be mainly aimed at public libraries-types of devices, how to set up a lending program, etc. [*yawn* been there, done that]

One caution Polanka discussed was new to me. She cautioned against lending out e-readers that are not “fully accessible.” This means that a blind individual must be able to access the same content as the sighted, with reasonable ease of use. Polanka described a presentation she attended in which a blind audience member demonstrated with a Nook. The audience member was able to push the power button, but that was all; she didn’t even have a way to tell if the device had actually powered on. According to Polanka, Apple devices (iPad, iPhone, etc.) are fully accessible, as is the Kindle 3; the Kindle Fire, Kindle DX, Nook, and Sony e-readers (among others) are not. (I found it ironic, however, that throughout the presentation, Polanka continued to use the Kindle and Nook among her examples of lending programs.) She also gave three examples of libraries that have been sued (and lost) over this. Yipe!

Derrik at NASIG 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 12:00 pm

One of the things I have always liked about NASIG is that representatives from journal publishers and subscription agents participate fully as members of the organization. Our Alexander Street Press sales rep, Jenni Wilson, has been serving on the NASIG Board, and the new President of NASIG is from Springer. I also find it valuable to attend presentations given by vendor reps, since these sessions teach me about the vendors’ processes, timelines, values, etc.

One such presentation this year was called “JSTOR and Summon Under the Hood.” Summon Product Manager Laura Robinson talked about how Serials Solutions approached the development of Summon. She said their goal is to help researchers start broad and then focus. She explained a little about their relevance ranking, and said they are exploring using the searcher’s geographic location to influence the rankings. Robinson also said that Summon is building a new knowledge base; this sounded important to me, but she made the comment in passing and didn’t go into any detail.

Ron Snyder from ITHAKA spoke about upcoming changes in JSTOR, based on their analysis of actual users’ behavior. He spoke about their Local Discovery Integration pilot, which I reported hearing about at this year’s ER&L conference. He also said they are trying to develop a machine-based article classifier, in an attempt to assign subject disciplines at the article level (JSTOR disciplines are currently at the journal level). Snyder also announced that there will be a complete overhaul of JSTOR’s search infrastructure this summer (but no mention of whether or how the user interface will change).

Another session, presented by Eleanor Cook from ECU and Megan Hurst from EBSCO, talked about the use of mobile technologies in libraries. Hurst gave some excellent definitions of the differences between mobile apps vs. mobile websites, e-readers vs. tablets, etc. She said that currently in the U.S. and its territories, there are more mobile devices than people (how many devices do you have?). Hurst also said that over the last 4 years, mobile traffic as a percentage of total web traffic has been roughly doubling every year; as of January 2012 in the U.S., mobile traffic accounted for about 8.75% of total web traffic.

The opening keynote address was given by Dr. Lynn Silipigni Connaway of OCLC. Dr. Connaway presented results from multiple studies from the US and UK on information-seeking behavior. Much of it sounded familiar (users prefer keyword searching, they are confident in their skills, and they value convenience and speed), but I appreciated that it was backed up by evidence, not just anecdotes. Dr. Connaway was an entertaining speaker, and included many direct quotes from users that were both humorous and a little painful. She said that many users don’t want to approach a librarian for help because we look busy and they don’t want to bother us. She also said that users often complain about insufficient or cryptic signage (e.g. “I’m a smart person, but when I go to the library it makes me feel stupid”). She also spoke about avoiding jargon, and urged us not to put it on the users to figure things out (e.g. Don’t say “former title,” say “used to be called”). She told about walking into a library where she saw a sign that said “Help”; she was confused by it and wasn’t sure what the desk was for, but observed that the users were ok with it and weren’t confused at all.

In another keynote address, Duke University’s Kevin Smith talked about copyright and fair use in light of current litigation. The main points I took away were (1) Don’t put professional activities on hold while waiting for the outcome of cases “out there”; and (2) Fair Use is always a risk analysis: when weighing the risks, be sure to consider the risk of doing nothing.

In Rick Anderson’s closing keynote address, he spoke about the shifting scholarly communication landscape and questioned the continuing relevance of the scholarly journal. He wondered aloud how long it will be before we can ask our smartphones: “Siri, I need 5 scholarly articles on the demographics of Iceland, published in the last 5 years, in journals with an impact factor of at least 11.” Anderson talked about blurry boundaries between types of information, saying that these changes will be a tremendous boon for researchers even while making things much harder for librarians.

I guess that about wraps it up for me. I’ll let Chris tell about the totally awesome presentation he heard about CORAL.

NISO webinar on Usage Statistics

Friday, June 15, 2012 4:35 pm

On Wednesday June 13, Lauren, Chris, and I met to watch a NISO-sponsored webinar on the latest developments in usage statistics standards COUNTER and SUSHI. For those of you wondering, COUNTER is the standard that defines what statistics should be provided by vendors and in what format; SUSHI is a communication protocol that defines how those stats can be shared between computers (and can thus be set up so that harvesting the stats can be automated).

In Wednesday’s webinar, Peter Shepherd (project director for COUNTER) and Oliver Pesch (co-chair of the SUSHI standing committee) spoke about changes coming with the newest release of COUNTER (release 4), then Amy Lynn Fry (E-resources Librarian at Bowling Green State University) described some of the methods and workflows BGSU uses to collect and record usage statistics.

Release 4 of the COUNTER code includes some good changes, IMHO. Shepherd described some of the committee’s objectives in developing the new release, including wanting all publishers to be able to use it, and also making it possible to include usage for local institutional repositories. Some of the new report features include:

  • no longer requires database “session” counts; instead reports “record views” and “result clicks”
  • allows for reporting usage from mobile devices (optional)
  • includes a report specifically for usage of “Gold” Open Access journals
  • will include additional data to facilitate the linking of usage stats to other data (e.g. subscription info)
  • a new report specifically for usage of online multimedia resources
  • a new report that will list journal stats by the year of publication (not just current vs. archival as in release 3)

Pesch said that automating the collecting of usage statistics (i.e. SUSHI) is a step toward “comprehensive” usage collection and increasing the value of usage stats. He also said that although there are changes to the COUNTER code, there are no changes to the SUSHI schema in COUNTER release 4 (the SUSHI communication protocol has been a part of the COUNTER standard since release 3). He described the tools available to providers at the SUSHI website, including FAQ, tools, and a COUNTER-SUSHI Implementation Profile.

Compliance with the COUNTER code of practice is verified by auditors, and compliant vendors are listed on the COUNTER website. Because of the number of changes in release 4, vendors have until December 31, 2013, to adopt the Release 4 standard in order to remain compliant.

… Now, where did I put my notes from NASIG?


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