Professional Development

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Summer camp for librarians

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 1:07 pm

As part of our summer tchnology explortion grant Susan and I attended curate camp, an un-conference that grew out of code4lib.

The sessions that were proposed focused on data management and curation for the most part. In contrast Susan and I have focused on data use and data-focused research methods. It was interesting to see the perspectives of librarians and archivists whose job it is to ensure ongoing access to and storage of data. The types of data discussed included everything from images of disks file systems to digital media to research data.

Despite the broad range of data/media discussed there were common issues that bubbled up – how to ensure long term preservation both in terms of bit-checking and format conversion, seeking out new collaborative opportunities with faculty and researchers, and creating systems to enable acquisition and dissemination of data.

A number of institutions we heard from are already dealing with large digital objects (300gb video files), born digital collections (disks and other media), and multiple institutional collaborations (lockss, Duracloud). There was also an interesting discussion surrounding the management and acquisition of scientific research data. One science data librarian discussed a digital lab notebook called Omero and widened the presentation into a discussion about a new suite of ‘research services’ that libraries can support. We also heard briefly about project Bamboo (, a Mellon funded project to support research data management in the humanities.

These sorts of projects are in sync with the work that Susan and I have been doing this summer to identify and explore data research tools and certainly hints at a need for libraries to help support them.

More to come from the camp. As I write this there is an interesting discussion about metadata standards and systems in progress.

American Association of Law Librarians – 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011 5:08 pm

This weekend, I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the American Association of Law Librarians in Philadelphia, PA. Some of you may remember that my last trip to Philly resulted in theft of my phone :( so I exercised my best big-city behavior this time and kept my phone in my pocket – except for a few pictures.

What amazed me about AALL was how it is a highly focused ALA. The vendor hall, as you might expect, is focused very much on law librarians but I did get a chance to connect with a few scanner vendors to talk about their work with ILL and E-Reserves software. I also managed to run into a number of our colleagues from WFU and a few people that I have met at other conferences!

On Sunday I shared the stage with Andrew Pace from OCLC and Roy Balleste from the St. Thomas Law Library. It was interesting to hear from both Andrew, who discussed OCLC services as they related to cloud computing, and Roy, whose library has adopted the OCLC Web-Scale product. There was considerable interest in the audience and I was reminded how important continuations were to law libraries when the first question focused on this issue.

On a side note I had a chance to attend the Voyager Law Users Group meeting while there and got some interesting information about the new mass data change features in Voyager 8 and heard about where Voyager libraries think they are headed (ILS wise) in the coming years. Too much detail for this post but if you are interested stop by!

ASERL discovery webinar

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 2:19 pm

Today Lynn, Carolyn, Tim, Steve, Susan, Leslie, Jean-Paul, Kevin and Erik got together to attend the ASERL webinar on discovery services. We hear from Wally Grotophorst at George Mason University and Marshall Breeding at Vanderbilt.

Wally talked about the George Mason University experience with Aquabrowser. He discussed some approaches to cross data indexing including just in time solutions (e.g. Metalib, Deep Web), hybrid systems (Primo, Encore, EDS, OPAC) and just in case (e.g. Summon) solutions.

He provided an overview of different perspectives of “just in case” solutions and pointed out that these systems can lead users to approach the system from a perspective that assumes “If we dont have it, you probably dont need it.” another interesting (adapted) quote was: “The value of summon is inversely proportional to the sophistication of your researcher.”

Wally did a great job of looking at the user experience in products like Summon and comparing how libraries are finding ways to bring the benefits of JIC search systems while not losing the value of their catalog-based discovery layers (e.g. Villanova).

Marshall approached the issue by talking about different types of search methods – database specific, federated and discovery products (defined as any system designed to locally index a wide variety of data). He reviewed approaches and data models for centrally indexed discovery products (both local and web-scale) and touched on some of the changes in the ILS that the growth of e-books are likely to bring (e.g decrease in role of circulation, discovery). Marshall suggested that next-generation ILSs may include a tighter integration between back-office systems and discovery layers. This is something the industry is already seeing with OCLC’s Web-Scale management system.

The presentation will be posted online soon on the ASERL website.

ALA – graffiti research and panel sessions

Monday, June 27, 2011 6:09 am

On Saturday I had the pleasure of coordinating a panel on cloud computing “Updates to cloud computing for library services” that built on the session from last year. This year we had speakers from a wide range of areas talk about cloud computing in the 2 hour session.

Chris Tonjes from DC Public Library talked about the Amazon downtime. Krista Stapelfeldt from the University of Prince Edward Island talked about Islandora, a project based on fedora and drupal that uses cloud platforms. Carissa Smith from DuraSpace talked about the new DuraCloud platform (yes ZSR has a trial account!) and Yan Han from the University of Arizona talked about his work with the Afganistan digital library and other projects and how cloud computing made those projects possible.

The session was overflowing again this year and I cannot thank Krista, Yan, Carrissa and Chris enough for taking time to contribute to the session. There were a lot of questions from libraries who were seeking to either contextualize their own experience with cloud computing or who wanted to push in a new direction (e.g. Hosted digital library applications).

I also had the opportunity to present with Birong Ho and Scott Garrison on Sunday in a session titled “Does VuFind Meet the Need of Web 2.0 Users?” Birong and Scott are from Western Michigan and have done some really interesting work extending VuFind’s capabilities. In preparation for the talk Birong and I independently pulled some data from our catalog about types of searching in VuFind. While our numbers did not always match (particularly for the default search type), it was interesting to see a close match on the frequency of the use of subject searches (~24%). Of note there was an interesting discussion around the utility and sustainability of tagging in catalogs that sprung up mostly because attendees had some varied experience with this service.

After the Vufind session I wandered into the Vendor area and 1, caught up with some colleagues from UNC who are now at NCSU and 2, saw a poster from Clemson University on using a graffiti wall for research. The librarians used focused questions, sticky notes and a post-it board to gather data from students. The Clemson wall (top) is admittedly, a bit more academic than our own graffiti wall efforts (bottom) :).

The rest of Sunday was Lita Top Technology Trends (Social book reading, the death of the mouse and a discussion around individual information portals were my favorite trends), the presentation of the LITA Hi Tech Award to John Wilkin for his work on HathiTrust (Congratulations John!), and the opportunity to catch up with LIS folks at the ALISE reception.

NISO RDA webinar

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 2:29 pm

Today, Erik, Carolyn, Lauren C, Derrik, Alan Keely, Leslie McCall, Steve Kelly, Beth Tedford, Mark McKone, Linda Ziglar, Jean-Paul and Chris B. attended the first of a two part NISO seminar on RDA. The webinar gave a good overview of FRBR and how RDA facilitates the creation of records following the FRBR metadata model.

Rorbert Maxwell did the first part of the session. He did a good job of reviewing the FRBR model and in discussing where RDA standard was relevant. After a tour of what types of searching this approach would enable the presenter said that the next stepss are to implement RDA, design and ER database structure, and figure out how to handle legacy MARC data.

The second part of the session was by John espley at VTLS who covered some of these ‘next steps’ at a high level. He covered some various data modesl including flat file, ER models, and linked MARC records. I was curious to see that he did not discuss object databases or tripple stores as an option. He showed a sample FRBR ER diagram to illustrate how a database model would work.

John talked at length about the role of metadata encoding models and made the assertion that a common encoding model was not a necessary feature of next-generation systems. He asserted rather that interoperability between systems would be based on appropriate encoding crosswalk methods. John indicated that some areas of development included added ability to use Macros, easy access to the RDA toolkit, and more sophisticated workforms.

SerialsSolutions Summon and HathiTrust full-text indexing

Monday, April 25, 2011 1:08 pm

“Just as GoogleBook search brought book search to the open web, this advancement brings full text book search and integrated content discovery to serious researchers. . .”

Today Mary Beth, Susan, Derrik, Lauren C, Tim, Audra, Craig, Cristina, Steve, Leslie, Lynn, Kaeley, Erik, Barry and Giz attended a webinar about the recent launch of the full text indexing of HathiTrust records in the SerialsSolutions Sumon service. David Lankes started the session with his view of how services like the HathiTrust compare with other cooperative projects and what motivates information seekers when they approach systems with an information need. David focused on a few themes, notably the concept that collaborative collections create opportunities for new communities to form around.

John wilkin gave an overview of the state of the hathitrust. Some interesting numbers included a current ~31% overlap with ARL libraries and near 50% overlap with Oberlin group libraries. The HathiTrust currenlty has around 8.2 Million titles with approximately 26% of them (2.1M) in the public domain. Wilkin indicated that with current contribution levels they are seeing about a 1% growth in overlap for every 200K submitted titles.

John Law finished up the webinar indicating that the Summon service would offer the full text index of HathiTrust records as an include-able option with other resources. The key idea appeared to be that full text indexing would be included in Summon with various options for content delivery (e.g. direct link for public domain resources, catalog link for owned resources, ILLfulfillmentlink for others). Interstingly, John Law indicated that these links will not always be based on OpenURL but will be ‘pre-calculated.’ SerialsSolutions is planning on offering some advanced content inclusion options (e.g. public domain only or fully indexed collection) using specific fulfillment options for each type of resource/licensing restriction.

As expected the questions from the audience focused on timeline (mid year), technical details (to be determined in the client center), and requests for a demo (forthcoming). A few questions centered around matching and merging of titles/records to provide a streamlined record discovery and presentation service for patrons. In response John Law said that SerialsSolutions is planning on finding ways to merge catalog records from the subscribing library with full text indexing from HathiTrust to provide both single-point access and enhanced bibliographic/full text access. There was a question about what the user experience would look like for items not in the public domain. It appears that Summon will attempt to make a ‘best-guess’ about resources but will provide multiple links (ILL, content link when possible). There was some interest about how resrouces outside of the puGiven the attendance from ZSR this is clearly an interesting area and I expect there will be more questions in the months to come!

Commercial offering of a digital asset mangement system

Thursday, April 21, 2011 3:38 pm

Today Susan and Erik attended a webinar on a Digital Asset management system offered by a ExLibris information systems. It was interesting to see how the vendor discussed asset management and how this current example of a system differs from those previously offered, particularly because we have used a few of their previous products! In the current system a sharp distinction was made between archiving/preservation activities (which fall under the purview of the software) and the discovery layer (which does not).

The speaker discussed a number of use cases that focused on archiving books, legal documents, websites, and a variety special collections resources. I was left wondering what differentiated this sort of system from traditional IR or digital archive systems. The webinar included a few interesting features such as format conversion, metadata tracking on submission and preservation processes, and a form of version control for migrated digital objects.

We were motivated to attend this webinar more to inform our interest in the ‘state of the art’ with regards to digital asset management systems and hope to be able to complete some comparative analysis of systems in the coming months.

ASERL Webinar on Next-Generation Discovery Systems

Friday, February 25, 2011 2:58 pm

Roz, Erik, Ellen M., Kaeley, Craig, Audra, Rebecca, Kevin, Derrick, Susan and Mary S.attended the ASERL Next Gen Discovery Tools session.

The session was an overview of various next-generation discovery systems (e.g Serials Solutions Summon, WorldCat Local and Ebsco Discovery Services among others). ECU reported on their methodology for evaluating and selecting a product (ultimately Summon). They observed that following the launch they added OAI harvested digital collections resources, used google analytics to measure use (OpenURL clicks was used as a measure), and worked with SerialsSolutions to resolve data mapping issues.

ECU also mentioned a recent nice issue of Library Technology Reports by Jason Vaughan at UNLV that reviews these systems.

NCSU followed with an overview of their Summon experience. Libraries in general seemed to recognize that a main purpose of these sorts of systems is to simplify the initial research process but the NCSU folks discussed some of the concerns of advanced users (IL instruction, depth of search features). NCSU showed the percentage of use of a one search system that grouped results (Articles, Books & Media, Website) into different columns. The results showed that over 40% of the time articles were selected while Books and media were a close second at 36%. The website was used around 2% of the time!

Overall a very informative session.

iRODS user conference

Thursday, February 17, 2011 7:58 pm

Today I went to the iRODS user conference in Chapel Hill, NC. iRODS stands for Integrated Rule Oriented Data System. the system is intended to be used as a data and digital object curation system that supports data curation activities (e.g. preservation activities) and access activite (e.g. create, access, replace, update, version). iRODS is usable as a subsystem for Dspace and Fedora as well as a number of other products and is flexible enough to serve as a platform for other file system services (e.g. Dropbox).

The morning session focused on new features in version 2.5. As I was not familiar with the system I spent the time stepping through a tutorial on the iRODS website. The afternoon focused on use cases which were rather interesting.

The first use case focused on continuous integration using maven/git/hudson which are some tools we have been discussing internally here at ZSR. The development environment at RENCI is called GForge & appears to be a solid approach to enabling distributed development of services. We heard from DataDirect Networks that discussed how they are using iRODS to change how get away from file system work. I also got to see some demonstrations of use cases in Archives and file management systems. Lots more information about iRODS and the conference is available on the iRODS wiki.

One fun project I learned about. National Climatic Data Center. For me the really incredible idea was that an iRODS approach to file system storage combined with lots of good metadata would enable a distributed (multi-institution, multi-site) structure that researchers could use to do retrievals and run processes based on common metadata elements or other file identifiers – for more info see the TUCASI Project.

Vufind updates

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 12:05 am

JP already talked about Vufind but I thought I would add in my notes from the Vufind talk today. Demian Katz (Villanova) took some time in the afternoon to talk about Vufind and its growing support for metadata standards other than MARC. The update centered on how Vufind had been re-tuned to be more agnostic with regards to metadata standards and encoding models. The redesign made use of “Record Drivers” to take control of both screen display functionality and data retrieval processes, OAI harvesters to gather data and XSL importing tools to facilitate metadata crosswalks and full text indexing.

Demian talked at some length about basic features of the metadata indexing toolkit. At the Vufind 2.0 conference he talked a bit about his ability to use the MST from the Extensible Catalog project and I wonder (no answer, just a question) how the toolkit development with Vufind matches with the XC project. Demian reported on the OAI-PMH harvester that will gather records remotely and load them into Vufind. i have used an early version of this tool to successfully harvest and import HathiTrust records and am encouraged to see that development has continued. Demian also mentioned a new XSLT importer tool that enables mapping an XML document into an existing SOLR configuration.

This represents an interesting step forward for Vufind as it will allow ZSR to think about harvesting and indexing data from our Dspace instance as well as other sources that support OAI harvesting. All of these features are going to come in the Vufind 1.1 release on March 21st! More to come on this as we get our test instance of Vufind running.

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