Professional Development

Lauren at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando

Friday, July 8, 2016 5:32 pm

Productivity with vendors (book and ILS), committee obligations, and future of cataloging were the three main themes for me in Orlando. Meetings by chance also played a key role in making this an above average conference for me.

I caught up with our Casalini sales rep on how to implement a more Gobi-like version of their fresh interface which will help me and Linda, along with a few others here at ZSR. I met our Eastview sales rep, who had helped us with one of our year-end purchases and I finally broke a logjam around finalizing a license agreement with Springer. For about a year I’ve been talking with colleague and Springer employee Robert Boissy about overcoming discovery discovery problems (with linked data), so he mentioned an interesting new vendor, Yewno. The shortest way I can explain is that it is like a discovery service (e.g. Summon, EDS) but uses artificial intelligence and visualization. They ingest content after they have agreements in place, but I was told at the Yewno booth that it isn’t pre-indexing like the discovery services we know right now. It definitely bears watching as they grow. Maybe the Google of academic content? It reminds me of an internet search engine I used over a decade ago, KartOO, which has been completely closed down, but maybe it was just ahead of its time.

(captured from the Yewno website for illustration)

(captured from the Yewno website)

I continued work on two division-level committees: the ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee and the ALCTS Advocacy and Policy Committee. Now that the conference is over, I’m officially the chair of latter. The group will be working on ALA’s Advocacy Implementation Plan. I saw WSSU colleagues Wanda Brown and Cindy Levine at the Opening Session. I commented to them that I felt like I had been to church after hearing the speaker, Michael Eric Dyson. (I believe he said he was a minister earlier in his life. His inflection surely seemed indicative of it!) Cindy may be joining the Advocacy Committee as a result of that chance meeting. I also attended the Closing Session where Jamie Lee Curtis captivated me with the way she revealed her forthcoming book and perspective on belonging and immigration, at a level that kids get. The title is This Is Me: The Story of Who We Are and Where we Came From — the library edition will not have the pop-up, because Curtis understands how that is a problem for libraries. Both speakers were highly complimentary of libraries and librarians, and far more dynamic and poignant on their topics than I can illustrate. You simply had to be there. I had the good fortune to get in line for the Closing Session with the exiting President of ALCTS, Norm Madeiros, and we conversed about the state of ALCTS membership (declining, like others) and the wonderful value we get from our association. Norm is sincerely worried and he has raised my level of concern, which I think will nicely feed into my work with ALCTS Advocacy. (See also Thomas’ post re: ALA Divisions and membership decline. Norm was at the same “free” lunch with Thomas.) Incidental meetings like this at ALA are just as important as the unexpected exchanges we have with colleagues in crossing the building here at ZSR in our daily work.

At Norm’s President’s Program, Dr. Michael R. Nelson, spoke about “Enabling Innovation in the Era of the Cloud–A Syllabus.” He had a great long list of books as “recommended reading.” In random order from my rough notes, here are just a few sample titles and my memory jogs about them: Drive by Daniel Pink (bonuses are bad unless done in way everyone thinks is fair); Words That Work by Frank Luntz (get complicated ideas into simple bumper stickers and add two good factoids); Beyond the Gig Economy (today’s kids will have about 20 jobs in their career); Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age by Steven Johnson (or watch this); Art of the Long View by Peter Schwartz (or his short essay in Wired in 2009, “Your Future in 5 Easy Steps” and see also the “app.”)

Regarding the future of cataloging: I attended a number of sessions where I heard updates about BIBFRAME and linked data and a little about library migrations from an integrated library system (ILS) to a library service platform (LSP). Come see me if you want more details. Carolyn’s , Jeff’s and Steve’s posts also offer some insights and they can also tell you more than they wrote. I heard details from them when we gathered with members of Special Collections earlier this week to share what we learned. Also Steve recently sent email about a series of webinars from ALCTS that many of us will watch. To my mind, the future of cataloging is a heavy consideration as we investigate next generation systems. I stopped by the booths of multiple vendors of LSPs and will share some observations at an upcoming meeting of the ILS Task Force.

 

 

Jeff at ALA Annual 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 4:01 pm

Assuming you are six years old, Orlando is a dream destination. If, like me, you’re 37, you need some compelling reason to go. Enter ALA Annual 2016.

On Saturday I attended the program “Linked Data: Globally Connecting Libraries, Archives, and Museums.” Reinhold Heuvelmann of the German National Library described his library’s system of metadata creation, in which they use their own standard, called Pica, and are able to export in numerous formats, including MARC, Dublin Core, and BIBFRAME, among others. This kind of cross-walking will be essential in the future as we move into linked data, it would seem. Mr. Heuvelmann pointed out that with linked data, library users per se are not the intended audience; general web searchers are. I’d never exactly thought of it this way before, but it’s worth doing so, if only as an exercise in humility. Our library catalogs aren’t the be-all and end-all.

Later that morning, because I am an incompetent convention center navigator and sometimes you’ve walked too far to turn back, I ended up watching Canadian author Margaret Atwood talk about her forthcoming contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare series, of which I was already aware. Her contribution is a prose retelling of The Tempest. Ms. Atwood’s sense of humor was a delight, and it made me happy to scan the packed house and be reminded that, however our jobs and our profession might change, we are still in the end essentially a bunch of book lovers.

That afternoon I met with my ALCTS AS Organization and Management Committee, which I will be chairing as of 7/1. We brainstormed ideas for a program for next year’s annual conference in Chicago; something about sourcing difficult-to-get materials, maybe; or the oft-inadequate amount of personnel committed to e-resources. Or something else; I’m working on it. I spent that evening waiting for over two hours to eat mediocre-at-best “Louisiana” food, as did several of my colleagues. No one was having much fun, except the keyboardist, and Chelcie, who, as it turns out, loves jaunty synth solos every bit as much as Steve hates them.

But in my heart of hearts, all this was mere precursor to the talk I gave on Sunday morning at the ALCTS-sponsored program “Re-Tooling Acquisitions for Lean Times.” My co-presenter was John Ballestro from Texas A&M. I titled my presentation “What if Help Isn’t on the Way?” and talked about 1) our experience as a tech services department that has realigned to maximize efficiency and 2) some simple time-savers that can be embraced without any significant infusion of cash or personnel (hence the title). It went well. After our talk, hands shot up, and the questions didn’t stop until the fifteen minutes we’d allowed for Q&A were gone. We’d either confused them or sparked their interest. Either way, it was over.

Later that afternoon I met with my ALCTS Planning Committee. Our primary responsibility these days is to review committee reports and assess the degree to which ALCTS committees are advancing the Strategic Plan that we wrote the previous year. On Sunday afternoon Erica Findley of Multnomah County Library talked about their local Library.Link project, in which ten public libraries in Oregon have gotten together to publish linked data to the web in cooperation with Zepheira. They are currently assessing results using Google Analytics; so far most referrals have come from the libraries’ websites, but a good amount came from the open web as well, and the hope is that the latter will only increase. Participating in this endeavor has meant no change to the libraries’ cataloging process, as Zepheira does the web publishing for them, using data extracted from their catalogs. I look forward to hearing an update on this project in the future.

Leslie at MLA 2016

Monday, March 14, 2016 8:08 pm

This year’s meeting of the Music Library Association was held in Cincinnati, where, during breaks and receptions, we enjoyed 1920s tunes performed by members of the Cincinnati Opera, and by MLA’s own big band, in the Netherland Plaza Hotel’s beautifully-restored 1930 Art Deco ballroom.

DIVERSITY

It has long been recognized that America’s conservatories and orchestras remain overwhelmingly white (less than 5% of students in music schools are non-Asian minorities). While administrators of these institutions are currently struggling to rectify the situation, libraries (it was noted at the MLA meeting) have a chance to be an exemplar. In a joint project with ARL called the Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, MLA has supported internships and fellowships for MLIS students with music backgrounds to work in music libraries. The diversity aimed for includes not just race/ethnicity, but also gender, marital status, disabilities, etc. In the opening plenary session, we heard from some of the former fellows. Benefits that were particularly appreciated included the visibility and recognition acquired while a student, which subsequently opened doors to professional opportunities; peer mentors (previous fellows) who provided ongoing support with entry into the profession, and after; and help with the hidden costs of college (additional fees, textbooks, etc.) for which first-generation students are often unprepared. Difficulties encountered included locating sources of help – one fellow reported “cold calling” random MLA members before discovering the DII program. This prompted a discussion, during the Q&A, on how the program could be better publicized.

On a similar outreach note, MLA (whose membership encompasses North America – U.S. and Canada) plans to invite Latin American colleagues to next year’s meeting in Orlando, billing it a Pan-American conference.

LINKED DATA

MLA’s initiatives in this field:

  • Two new thesauri have been published in the past year — for medium-of-performance terms (LCMGT), and for music genre/form terms (LCGFT) – along with best-practices documents for both.
  • Involvement in LD4L (Linked Data for Libraries), a collaborative project of Cornell, Harvard, and Stanford.
  • The NACO Music Project, working on authority data.
  • A Bibframe Task Force, which is undertaking various projects to enhance the new encoding schema to meet music users’ needs.

We heard about other projects that member libraries have done to enhance discoverability of special collections:

The Linked Jazz Project, best known for its visualizations, is based on data extracted from oral-history transcripts in numerous jazz archives. The data is then converted to RDF triples reflecting relationships between jazz artists (x talks about y; y knows of x). The data is enhanced via crowdsourcing. The developers hope others will use the LJ data to build additional linked-data sets: mashing LJ data with performances at Carnegie Hall is one such project; another is unearthing female jazz artists (neglected in traditional jazz histories) by enriching LJ data with other sources such as DBpedia, MusicBrainz, and VIAF (the international authority file).

Colleagues at Michigan State used Discogs (a crowdsourced, expert-community-reviewed database of metadata on pop music recordings) to process a gift collection of 1200 LPs of Romani music, which also included pop music containing Gypsy stereotypes. They hope to use this collection as a pilot to develop a process for a much larger corporate gift of 800,000 pop recordings and videos. They were able to extract data directly from the Discogs website using Discogs’ API (which outputs in JSON – they used Python to convert the JSON to XML and then MARCXML). Cataloging challenges included: dealing with usage differences between Discogs’ “release” and RDA’s “manifestation”; similarly, between Discogs’ “roles” for artists and RDA’s “relationship designators”; and mapping Discogs’ genres and subgenres to LC’s genre/form terms and medium-of-performance terms, supplementing with LC subject headings as needed. Discogs’ strengths: expertise in languages (from its international contributor community) and in obsolete formats; and the ability to link to the Discogs entry from the library catalog. Our presenters plan to propose to the Discogs community indexing the UPC (universal product code, the barcodes on CDs); a similar resource, MusicBrainz, does this.

A third project, at Cornell, was ultimately unsuccessful, but also illustrates the variety of data resources and tools that people are trying to link up. For a collection of hip-hop flyers, they constructed RDF triples using data from MusicBrainz, ArtStor, and Cornell’s existing metadata on the related events etc. They chose Bibframe for their encoding schema, and compiled an ontology from Getty’s AAT vocabulary, various music and event ontologies, and Schema.org. Reconciliation of names from all these sources was done using the open-source analytics tool OpenRefine. The problems developed as they came to feel that Bibframe did not meet their test for describing flyers; they decided to abandon it in favor of LD4L. Reconciliation of names also proved more problematic than expected.

DISCOVERY

In a session on music discovery requirements, colleagues noted two things that current ILSs and discovery layers are not good at: showing hierarchies (for instance, making available additional search terms in thesauri, ontologies, etc.); and mapping multiple physical formats to one title (for multi-media items, such as a book issued with a disc, or a score with a recording, or a CD with a DVD – in most interfaces, the content of the second piece will not be retrieved under a format-facet search).

A presenter from Stanford proposed facet displays that include drop-down menus showing a relevant thesaurus, allowing users to further narrow to a subgenre, for instance. For music, the newly-developed medium-of-performance thesaurus, if displayed with multiple search instances, could enable musicians to enter all the instruments in their ensemble, and retrieve music for that specific combination of instruments. Also discussed were domain-specific search interfaces, such as the ones done by UVA for music and videos. Needless to say, there are potential applications for other disciplines.

Colleagues at East Carolina have made use of Blacklight to map multiple physical formats to the same title.

Midwinter 2016: A False Memoir?

Thursday, January 14, 2016 10:03 am

This year’s Midwinter was a bit unusual for me in that I didn’t find as many programs of obvious interest as I usually do, which led to my attending some sessions that I normally wouldn’t have. About this I have no complaints. It was fun, as was this outdoor section of the Brattle Book Shop (est. 1825):

The Role of the Professional in Technical Services Interest Group put on a program about the changing landscape of tech services (in our case Resource Services) departments as silos surrounding different functional areas continue to break down and collaboration and outsourcing of work to vendors become more common. Sally Gibson from Illinois State talked about “solution creators” as a distinct role within TS departments; these individuals excel at recognizing patterns and redundancies and at thinking creatively about workflows. Her emphasis on attitudes and behaviors (as opposed to technical skill sets) as essential traits is something we’re hearing more about lately in ALCTS-land.

After the meeting of my ALCTS-AS Organization and Management Committee got out early, having bravely crossed a windswept bridge leading away from the sea, I wandered into YALSA’s 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee’s annual review of YA fiction. This was not my usual scene. A lengthy procession of super-earnest Boston-area youths (some in middle and some in high school, I gathered) took the podium to provide one- to three-minute reviews of new works of YA fiction, recommending whether they ought to make YALSA’s final list of recommended books. What kind of kid wants to go present at a conference for librarians? The answer: good kids. Their enthusiasm and sincerity were infectious; I found myself remembering that protocol-obsessed adolescents were my favorite patrons in my early days working at the circ desk of a public library. I will always miss that.

On Sunday I learned a bit about the rise of the online scientific megajournal, a phenomenon about which I previously knew little. Two representatives from publishers of such journals (Springer Nature and Elsevier) as well as one from AIP led a very participatory discussion of the value of these online journals, which publish several thousand articles per year and have been accused of causing a proliferation of lower-quality scientific publishing. From the perspective of authors, the journals sometimes function as a backup plan to publication in the more prestigious traditional journals. Audience members expressed concern about the extent to which megajournals depend for their profits on Article Processing Charges (ACPs) paid by authors. This would seem a valid concern. The publishers make the case that their journals provide an important service by bringing more scientific findings out of the gray literature and into the main scientific corpus. “This can only be a good thing,” said one. My sense is that some commentators would disagree.

I enjoyed a presentation by two librarians from the coolest combination of colleges possible – Nurhak Tuncer from the City College of Chicago’s Malcolm X College and Reed David from the University of Alaska Anchorage – in which the challenge of cataloging self-published ebooks was discussed. This is something Carolyn has worked on here, cataloging the ebooks published by Bill Kane’s in-house Library Partners Press. The main emphasis of the presentation was on decisions the cataloger must make about Publisher, Place of publication, etc. In the same session, Karen Snow from Dominican University talked about ethical decisions involved in cataloging and/or re-cataloging “false memoirs” – books presented as fact but later shown to be largely fictional (think A Million Little Pieces, The Education of Little Tree). Some libraries choose to re-class and move these books to fiction; others leave them where they are with the addition of notes. Practices vary, and the right decision for an academic library might not be right for a public one. Ms. Snow encouraged establishing a consistent policy. I think I disagree: to me these need to be treated on a case-by-case basis.

We are nearing the end. At my ALCTS Planning Committee meeting, we discussed strategies for requiring more accountability from various ALCTS committees with regards to the alignment of their activities to the Strategic Plan we adopted last year. Expect a new reporting form, people! Finally, on Monday morning, Nancy Lorimer, Head of Metadata Services at Stanford, presented on her library’s participation in the Linked Data for Production project, in which attempts are being made at coming up with real-world workflows that incorporate linked data, for instance, the insertion of URIs into legacy MARC bib records and authority records. As entities (a somewhat far-ranging concept) become more important in a linked data environment, authority control becomes a central concern. The fact that we’re on top of this at ZSR is good to know. Thanks, Steve.

And now, the aforementioned earnest young adults:

ALA 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 3:31 pm

In case I’d been longing for parades (turns out I had), a confluence of well-known events made the 2015 ALA Annual Conference the perfect place to be. How do New Orleans and San Francisco parades compare, you ask? San Francisco parades involve less alcohol; more illegal-smelling smoke; smaller floats; fewer thrown objects; and more daytime nudity (not pictured).

The first session I attended was put on by the Cataloging Norms Interest Group of ALCTS. Nancy Fallgren of the National Library of Medicine gave an update on NLM’s BIBFRAME pilot project, which has been underway for some time. BIBFRAME Lite is an experimental set of core elements meant to be used in the new encoding framework, and NLM is working on mapping from MARC, Dublin Core, and other non-MARC legacy formats to BF Lite. However, Ms. Fallgren emphasized that their primary focus is on creation of new metadata using BIBFRAME, not conversion. A print monograph BIBFRAME mockup is viewable here.

At the same session, Roman Panchyshyn from Kent State talked about the non-stop nature of change experienced by technical services staff in the 21st Century. Managing change has become a key function for managers in technical services departments. Traditional breakdowns between acquisitions, cataloging, serials, etc. are disappearing. This trend, I think, is reflected here in Resource Services at ZSR. Mr. Panchyschyn identified eight skills/competencies that all technical services staff need to possess in order to keep up. I won’t list all of them here (full list available upon request), but suffice it to say they are metadata-centric, linked data-oriented, and future-looking. Liberal use of hyphens, sadly, isn’t one of them.

Still at the same session, Diane Hillmann from Syracuse speculated as to whether libraries will retain their legacy metadata once conversion to BIBFRAME is complete. She concluded that this is advisable; storage is relatively cheap, and you never know when you might need the data again. “Park the MARC,” she advised, wisely I think. As to whether we are making the right choice in moving toward BIBFRAME, Ms. Hillmann said that this is a moot question: there is no one right choice, and in future we will need to be multiply conversant as metadata takes on new forms and different libraries and other cultural heritage communities decide to go in divergent directions. This is part of the promise of BIBFRAME: it is to be flexible, extensible, and adaptable.

Believe it or not, I did go to other sessions and meetings. Later on Saturday I met with my ALCTS Acquisitions Section Organization and Management Committee, and on Sunday I met with my division-level ALCTS Planning Committee, where we continued to work on a three-year ALCTS strategic plan, with new emphasis on how best to track progress on that plan once it is in place. My work on the Planning Committee has provided a broad view of ALCTS as a whole – its different divisions, its reporting structure and micro-cultures, and its direction. I’ve only completed one year of a three-year term, so I have more enlightenment to look forward to, as my power and influence grow daily.

Roy Tennant from OCLC gave a fun presentation titled “Ground Truthing MARC,” in which he made a worthy comparison between the geographical process of ground truthing and the value of analyzing the existing MARC record landscape before we move to convert it en masse. He has been performing some interesting automated analyses of the ridiculously huge universe of records present in OCLC’s database, and found some interesting (if not surprising) results. A relatively small number of tags (100, 245, etc.) make up the vast majority of instances of populated subfields in OCLC; whereas hundreds of tags are used only infrequently and, all told, constitute a very small percentage of the data in OCLC. This type of analysis, he believes, will be essential as we start to think about mapping OCLC’s data into a BIBFRAME environment.

In other presentations, Amber Billey from the University of Vermont made an interesting case that in requiring NACO-authorized catalogers to choose between “Male,” “Female,” and “Not known” when assigning gender to an authority (RDA Rule 9.7), LC is expressing a false and regressively binary conception of gender. She and others have submitted a fast-track proposal that “Transgender” be added as an additional option; this proposal would seem to have merit. Joseph Kiegel from the University of Washington and Beth Camden from Penn discussed their libraries’ experiences migrating to the Ex Libris Alma and Kuali Ole ILS’s, respectively. In such migrations technical support is essential, whether provided by the system vendor or (as in the case of an open-source system like Kuali Ole) a third-party company that contracts to provide support.

On the last day, Corynne McSherry from the Electronic Frontier Foundation discussed several important copyright-related legal cases from the last year, including Authors Guild v. Hathitrust, Authors Guild v. Google, and Cambridge University Press v. Patton. The EFF is seeking a Digital Millennium Copyright Act exception for circumventing access-restriction technology in no-longer-supported video games so that archivists can preserve them, as these games are an important part of our cultural heritage. This was an entirely new topic to me and caused me to think back fondly on the days when Halo was young and I was too, when video games weren’t things to preserve, but to play. I suppose that preservation is the next-best thing.

Leslie at MLA 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015 8:26 pm

Lots of good presentations at this year’s meeting of the Music Library Association in Denver. As at ALA, winter weather prevented a number of colleagues from attending, but we were able to Skype presenters in most cases, and for the first time, selected sessions were live-streamed. The latter will be posted on the MLA website.

DIGITAL HUMANITIES

In a session on “digital musicology,” several exciting projects were described:

Contemporary Composers Web Archive (CCWA). A Northeastern consortium project in progress. They’re crawling and cataloging composers’ websites, and contributing the records to OCLC and the Internet Archive. The funding is temporary, so here’s hoping they find a way to continue this critical work preserving the music and music culture of our times.

RISM OPAC. The Repertoire international des sources musicales is the oldest internationally-organized music index (of manuscripts and early printed editions), but only a small portion has so far been made available online. The new online search interface they’re developing retrieves digital scores available on the websites of libraries, archives, composers, and others worldwide. They expect to have 2 million entries when national inventories are completed.

Music Treasures Consortium (MTC). A similar project hosted by the Library of Congress, it links to digitized manuscripts and early printed editions in conservatories, libraries, and archives in the US, UK, and Germany. It’s modeled on an earlier project, the Sheet Music Consortium (hosted by UCLA).

Blue Mountain Project. Named after a Kandinsky painting representing creativity, this Princeton project, funded by a NEH grant, aims to provide coverage of Modernism and the Avant-Garde in arts periodicals 1848-1923. References to music in these sources are often fleeting, so there is a need for enhanced “music discovery.” The presenter discussed the challenges of digitizing magazines: the mix of text, images, and ads; multiple languages of periodicals in this project; variations in the transcription/spelling of names (they plan to cross-index to VIAF, the international authority file).

In the Q & A period, discussion centered on the global importance of projects such as these, and the concomitant need for best-practices standards (including a requirement to link to VIAF) and multi-language capabilities in metadata schema.

INFORMATION LITERACY

Now that the ACRL Framework has replaced learning objectives with “threshold concepts,” music librarians have begun taking first stabs at interpreting these for their discipline:

Scholarship as a conversation = performance as a conversation. Most music students enter college as performers, so this can serve as a base for scaffolding. One notable difference: performance lacks a tradition of formal citation — might some way be found to codify the teacher/student oral tradition by which the performing arts are transmitted?

Authority as constructed and contextual = performers as authorities (Performer X as a leading interpreter of Composer Y’s works); also, the changing of performance practices over time; learning to listen with a critical evaluative ear.

Information creation as process: understanding the editing process for scores, and also of recordings and video (vs. live performance).

Research as inquiry: every performing-arts student who spends long hours in practice and rehearsal is familiar with the concept of an iterative process — an excellent jumping-off point for understanding research as an iterative process.

Searching as strategic exploration: this has been related to musicians’ vexed relationship with library discovery interfaces that don’t work well for music retrieval! Resourcefulness and persistence is needed to meet performers’ information needs regarding specialized details such as instrumentation, key, range, etc.

Information has value = creative output has value. Understanding how the artist fits into the marketplace; the complexities of copyright as it applies to the arts.

COPYRIGHT

The music library community has long been frustrated by issues surrounding music recordings released online but governed by EULAs (end-user license agreements) that prohibit institutional purchase. MLA and the University of Washington have recently received a IMLS grant to develop strategies for addressing these issues, “culminating in a summit with stakeholders and industry representatives.” On the agenda: EULA reform (developing a standard language); preservation (given the industry’s apalling track record, perhaps the library community can create dark archives?); and public relations. Strategies being considered: developing a MLA best practices document; creating a test case; approaching either the smaller labels (who are generally more open to negotiation) or going directly for the big three (Sony, Warner, and Universal) on the theory that if they agree, others will follow.

Another session on recordings and fair use discussed the best practices movement. Noting that the courts, when confronted by new questions, have begun referring to community practice, many disciplines and professions are drafting best-practices documents. Unlike guidelines, whose specificity make them prone to obsolescence, best-practices statements “reflect the fundamental values of a community” — which not only helps them better stand the test of time, but also results in more commonalities between communities, so that they reinforce each other, lending them more weight in the face of legal challenges. The NRPB (National Recordings Preservation Board) recently completed a study that recommended such a document, and the ARSC (Association of Recorded Sound Collections) has a handbook forthcoming.

USAGE PATTERNS

At a poster session, I learned about two surveys done at Kent State that queried the preferences of music and other performing-arts students re the materials they use. One survey noted the significant number of print resources that still occupied top places in a ranking of preferred materials: print scores were much preferred to e-scores (68% to 28%); ditto for books (80% print to 27% electronic); CDs were still used regularly. E-journals, however, were preferred to print (64% to 32%). The survey’s conclusion found a “strong sentiment” in favor of a mix of print and electronic.

The other survey debated the relevance of audio reserves. It confirmed widespread use of extra-library resources by students for their listening assignments: YouTube, streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora, MP3s they had purchased themselves. Reasons given for preferring these sources: ability to listen on a smartphone or tablet (a preference also noted by commercial database vendors, who have begun developing mobile-device capabilities); personal comfort, and convenience. On the other hand, two encouraging reasons students give for using the library’s CD collection: the superior sound quality, and the availability of library staff for help.

CATALOGING

I attended a half-day workshop on genre and medium terms for music. Historically, the Library of Congress subject headings have combined, in long pre-coordinated strings, many disparate aspects of the materials we catalog: topic (Buddhism), genre (drama, folk music), form (symphonies), medium (painting, piano), physical format (scores), publication type (textbooks, catalogs), intended audience (children’s books, textbooks for foreign speakers). Since these can be more effectively machine-manipulated as discrete data than in strings, there’s a project afoot to parse them into separate vocabularies, to be used in new RDA fields, for more precise search-and-sort capabilities in our discovery interfaces.

Three vocabularies are being developed:

  • Genre/form (LCGFT) — e.g., drama, folk music
  • Demographic groups (LCDGT) — author’s nationality, gender, etc.; intended audience
  • Medium of performance (LCMPT) — for music: instruments/voices

Given the many thousands of existing subject terms, this is clearly a challenging task, and I acquired a new appreciation for its complexities as I listened to the LC folks describe their struggles wrestling music terminology (as just one disciplinary example) to the ground. Problems debated included: types of music that musicians have long regarded as genres in their own right (think string quartets) but are really just defined by their instrumentation or number of players; ditto for music set to certain texts (Magnificats, Te Deums); bringing out the distinctions between art music, folk music, and popular music (an attempt to remedy the original classical-centrism of the LC terminology); terms like “world music” that seem to have been invented mainly for marketing purposes; music for specific events or functions; stuff like master classes, concert tours, etc.; ethnomusicological (area studies) terms, which proved too numerous, and too inconsistently defined in reference sources, to be dealt with in the project’s initial phase; and tension between the need to build a logical hierarchy and recognizing the more fluid conventions practiced by user communities. While the new vocabularies are still under construction, we learned about the major changes, and how to encode the terms in RDA records.

In a session on Bibframe (a new encoding format designed to replace the aging MARC format), we heard about LD4L, a project conducted by Standford, Cornell, Harvard, and LC to develop an open-source extensible ontology to aid in conversion of MARC to Bibframe; and another project at UC-Davis to develop a roadmap for Bibframe workflows, from acquisitions operations to cataloging and conversion, and even a prototype discovery layer.

SIDELIGHTS

A Friday-night treat was the screening of a silent film (The General, starring Buster Keaton) accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (a 6-piece strings-and-winds band). The score was one they had compiled from music used by theater orchestras of the period, now archived in the University of Colorado’s American Music Research Center.

Lauren at ALA Midwinter 2015 (aka Chicago’s 4th Biggest Blizzard)

Thursday, February 5, 2015 5:59 pm

My notes on: IPEDS, ebook STLs and video, our vendors, linked data, BIBFRAME, OCLC and Schema.org, ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee, advocacy

At the ARL Assessment Forum, there was much complaining over the contradiction in instructions with IPEDs collection counts and circulation. Susan and I had the luck of chatting in the hallway with Bob Dugan from UWF, who turned out to be the main official communicator from libraryland with the person for the library section of IPEDs. Bob is also the author of a LibGuide with clarification info from the IPEDs help desk. Bob seems hopeful that changes in definitions for gathering the info (but not the numbers/form) could happen in time for the next cycle. My main specific takeaways from the various speakers:

  • the only figures that that will be checked between the current IPEDs survey and the previous survey is total library expenditures (not just collection);
  • in spite of the language, the physical circulation part of the survey seems to focus on lending, not borrowing, and may duplicate the ILL info section;
  • some libraries are thinking to use COUNTER BR1 and BR2 reports for ebook circulation and footnote which vendors use which type (BR1 or BR2).

ALCTS Technical Services Managers in Academic Libraries Interest Group discussed a wide range of current issues and it was both reassuring and annoying that no matter the library size, public or private, right now everyone has the same problems and no great answers: high cost ebook STLs, difficulties with video, etc. I inferred that our tactic of explaining prices and the options to faculty (e.g. explaining a mediation message about an EBL ebook or that the producer of a desired video is requiring libraries to pay significantly more than the individual pricing advertised) produces greater customer satisfaction than setting broad restrictive rules to stay within budget.

Jeff, Derrik, and I had a good meeting with a domestic vendor regarding ebooks and I discussed some specific needs with a foreign vendor. All felt like we made progress.

Linked data in libraries is for real (and will eventually affect cataloging). I attended several relevant sessions and here is my distillation: LD4L and Vivo, as a part of LD4L, are the best proof-of-concept work I’ve heard about. When starting to learn about linked data, there is no simple explanation; you have to explore it and then try to wrap your brain around it. Try reading the LD4L Use Cases webpages to get an understanding of what can be achieved and try looking at slide #34 in this LD4L slideshow for a visual explanation of how this can help researchers find each other. Here’s a somewhat simple explanation of Vivo from a company that helped start it and now is the “first official DuraSpace Registered Service Provider for VIVO.” OCLC is doing a lot of groundwork for linked data, using Schema.org, and that effort plays into the work being done by LD4L. While OCLC has been using Schema.org, Library of Congress has invested in developing BIBFRAME. I’m looking forward to reading the white paper about compatibility of both models, released just before the conference. The joint ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee (which replaced MARBI) is naturally interested in this topic and it was discussed at the Committee meeting. The Committee also gathered input from various groups on high level guidelines (or best practices) for metadata that Erik Mitchell, a committee member, originally drafted.

I also attended the meeting of the ALCTS Advocacy Committee, which has a liaison to the ALA Advocacy Coordinating Group. I understand that advocacy will be emphasized in ALA’s forthcoming strategic plan. If you’re not familiar with the Coordinating Group, it has a broader membership than just ALA division representation, but does include ACRL, LITA, and APALA in addition to ALCTS. I believe ZSR is well-represented in these groups and thus has some clear channels for advocacy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charleston Conference 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014 3:09 pm

Contents: 1. short tidbits (e.g. Alma from Ex Libris, “screen reading” effects, take care in using downloads as a measure, shared print storage) and 2. the rising cost of e-book short-term loans with a DDA program

1. the short bits

Alma – was the commercial ILS that I heard mentioned repeatedly, often in the context of migrations. At a poster session, I spoke with a librarian from the University of Tennessee Libraries about their migrating order records to Alma (from Aleph) and the next day I spoke with a librarian from another state about migration to Alma. I came away with the impression that both were satisfied so far. I heard other librarians mention Alma as the ILS of interest or having recently selected it.

Steve Shadle – “How Libraries Use Publisher Metadata” Steve worked with Springer on metadata and realized other publishers could use the same kind of understanding. Publishers at the presentation were engaged and asking questions. (I say, “hooray!”)

Carol Tenopir – “To Boldly Go Beyond Downloads” reported from research with focus groups and interviews that downloads are on the decline and “be careful about using it as a measure.” The survey just went out, so keep an eye out for later reports from that part of the research.

David Durant (ECU) and Tony Horava (University of Ottawa) - “Future of Reading and Academic Library” The presenters referenced Jakob Neilson’s F shaped pattern (of eye tracking) and explained linear and tabular reading and how they affect learning. Their research includes the differences between “screen reading” and reading from print. Look for their article in the January 2015 issue of Portal.

Emory and Georgia Tech’s shared print repository, Emtech, was helped along by support from the presidents at both universities and the prior establishment of a 501-3c to support other initiatives. (I asked because I had wondered how a private/public partnership for something long-term like this could work.) They determined that they had only 17% overlap in collections and each library is putting 1 million volumes into the shared facility — serials from Tech and monographs from Emory. They are storing microforms there; with the Atlanta climate, a cooler will have to be used when pulling those from facility, so that they gradually warm up from the 50 degrees without moisture forming on them. It will be one unified collection and they are contemplating whether they will need a separate OCLC holding symbol. This will be Harvard style — with static, not mobile, shelving.

Jeff already reported on plenaries and one session that he and I both attended,plus DDA with Kanopy streaming video, and included some lovely photos.

 

2. increasing cost of short-term loans (STLs):

Summary: All parties, publishers, librarians and aggregators are adopting a “let’s work together” attitude and showing understanding that workable pricing models are yet to be figured out with e-books because monographs are different from journals; everyone is inclined towards keeping DDA rather than eliminating it. The consortia named below who facilitated a lively lunch all pulled DDA records from their catalogs but I learned in a sidebar conversation that a large consortium removed only the EBL DDA records for the same titles in ebrary Academic Complete (generally considered to be primarily a backlist) and made no other changes. We’re implementing this change, literally as I’m writing this, since we just got the subscription product through NC LIVE. (See also Carol’s report.)

Details on STLS: Following up on this summer’s announcement that a number of publishers were raising the prices of STLs, I asked Derrik to do some analysis of our own experience prior to the conference. The bottom line on his analysis is that the rise in cost is affecting our bottom line noticeably. I managed to get to a lively lunch session with a mix of publishers, librarians, and aggregators in the audience. Facilitators included a representative from: Connecticut-Trinity-Wesleyan (CTW Consortium); Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium; Tri-College Consortium (Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Haverford); The Five Colleges Consortium (Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst) The lively lunch facilitators asked specific questions and my take-aways were:

  • reaffirmation that sales of books (whatever format) are dropping and the volume of STLs isn’t rising to meet the cost of publishing them (not from conference, but see this explanation of the cost of publishing an e-book)
  • inconclusive discussion on setting an optimal dollar amount or percentage of list price (I went to the mic and commented that setting a percentage was a questionable strategy with some publishers now raising the list price for electronic to be more than print; note that the e-book was not always, but often, close to hardcover price until recently)
  • in general an embargo was undesirable from all perspectives
  • differentiated pricing on frontlist versus backlist could be considered (I wonder if this wouldn’t add undesirable complexity and there might be a better solution)

Also on the STL crisis topic, Carol and I both were at a session titled, Sustainability not Profitability: the Future of Scholarly Monographs and STL.” Carol’s coverage, also linked above, differs slightly from mine (and is brief).

  • Barbara Kawecki from YBP gave the landscape of library activity to start the session: from 1998 to now there has been a dramatic decline in print purchasing. A loss of 50,000 units to a publisher is significant. YBP has seen a dramatic increase in records sent for DDA but only tiny amount is purchased and a large percentage of spending is on STL.
  • Rebecca Seger of Oxford University Press then gave an overview of the cost of monograph publishing and stated that the real problem is shrinking monograph budget (which I heard multiple times at the conference). She explained that with journals publishers can estimate revenue because of subscriptions, but publishers have used the print approval plans of libraries historically to estimate revenue for monographs. Each title might sell 400-700 “units” for the lifetime. Publishers can’t sell that amount now and can’t estimate revenue based on approval plans anymore because of all the changes libraries are making relative to DDA/STL. It costs about $10,000 to publish a monograph and printing is only about a third of that cost (or more for a smaller publisher).
  • Lisa Nachtigall from Wiley also described the impact of DDA/STL:

2009 to now: 92% print to 77% print
3rd party sales of e big increase: now 7%
32% less revenue from top 100 titles from 2009 to now; 28% less if take out the top 5 performers
70% of all etransactions from DDA/STL
Only 32% of DDA records went to transaction and 82% of that are STLs
86% less revenue on the e

Lisa is in the editorial part of Wiley and says that because of all of this Wiley is exiting Physics altogether, getting out of higher level research areas and will focus on textbooks. She noted that faculty will not able to disseminate their research in the same ways.

  • Michael Levine-Clark (a frequent speaker on e-books and Associate Dean for Scholarly Communication and Collections Services at the University of Denver) counseled the audience for librarians and publishers to work together on this problem, which was also the attitude at the lively lunch I described above. He said he was willing to pay more for the titles that get used. Various pricing models are needed together right now. He is concerned about the level of risk — future access to the titles not purchased — but he noted that the budget doesn’t allow him to buy all of those titles now anyway. He had a lot of analytical graphs in his presentation, which may be found near the end of the entire presentation. He wondered about having a fee for DDA service to publishers and YBP as part of the solution (but several audience members noted that all libraries already pay a small fee to YBP for the service of managing the bibliographic records). He concluded that we need to pony up to keep all books available for long term. During Q&A with the audience, it came up that if part of the change to using STL includes charges for browses, then it may not work. There was agreement from the audience that we have to work with publishers to keep DDA. The concept of an annual fee, “pay to play,” was raised again.

This was a particularly good conference in terms of content and consistently nice weather.

The Ellers Visit the In-Laws; Charleston 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 12:00 pm

Eleven-day-old daughter and sleep-deprived wife in tow, I attended the 2014 Charleston Conference flying arguably in the face of reason. I had the advantage of a free place to stay: my parents-in-law live out on James Island, a 15-minute drive to the Francis Marion Hotel where the conference is held. Given this fact and the conference’s unique focus on acquisitions, it makes sense for this meeting to become an annual excursion for me.

The opening speaker, Anthea Stratigos (apparently her real last name) from Outsell, Inc. talked about the importance of strategy, marketing, and branding the experience your library provides. She emphasized that in tough budgetary times it is all the more important to know your target users and to deliver the services, products, and environment they are looking for rather than mindlessly trying to keep up with the Joneses and do everything all at once. “Know your portfolio,” advised Ms. Stratigos. I would say that we at ZSR do a good job of this.

At “Metadata Challenges in Discovery Systems,” speakers from Ex Libris, SAGE, Queens University, and the University of Waterloo discussed the functionality gap that exists in library discovery systems. While tools like Summon have great potential and deliver generally good results, they are reliant on good metadata to function. In an environment in which records come from numerous sources, the task of normalizing data is a challenge for library, vendor, and system provider alike. Consistent and rational metadata practices, both across the industry and within a given library, are essential. To the extent that it is possible, a good discovery system ought to be able to smooth out issues with inconsistent/bad metadata; but the onus is largely on catalogers. I for one am glad that we are on top of authority control. I am also glad that at the time of implementation I was safely 800 miles away in Louisiana.

In a highly entertaining staged debate over the premise that “Wherever possible, library collections should be shaped by patrons instead of librarians,” Rick Anderson from Utah and David Magier from Princeton contested the question of how large a role PDA/DDA should play in collection development in an academic context. Arguing pro-DDA, Mr. Anderson claimed that we’ve confused the ends with the means in providing content: the selection process by librarians ought properly to be seen simply as a method for identifying needed content, and if another more automated process (DDA) can accomplish the same purpose (and perhaps do it better), then it ought to be embraced. Arguing the other side, Mr. Magier emphasized DDA’s limitations, eloquently comparing over-reliance on it to eating mashed potatoes with a screwdriver just because a screwdriver is a useful tool. He pointed out that even in the absence of DDA, librarians have always worked closely and directly with patrons to answer their collection needs. In truth, both debaters would have agreed that a balance of DDA and traditional selection by librarians is the ideal model.

One interesting program discussed the inadequacy of downloads as proxy for usage given the amount of resource-sharing that occurs post-download. At another, librarians from UMass-Amherst and Simmons College presented results of their Kanopy streaming video DDA (PDA to them) program, similar to the one we’ll be rolling out later this month; they found that promotion to faculty was essential in generating views. On Saturday morning, librarians from Utah State talked about the importance of interlibrary loan as a supplement to acquisitions budgets and collection development policies in a regional consortium context. On this point, they try to include in all e-resource license agreements a clause specifying that ILL shall be allowed “utilizing the prevailing technology of the day” – an attempt at guaranteeing that they will remain able to loan their e-materials regardless of format, platform changes, or any other new technological developments.

Also on Saturday Charlie Remy of UT-Chattanooga and Paul Moss from OCLC discussed adoption of OCLC’s Knowledge Base and Cooperative Management Initiative. This was of particular interest as we in Resource Services plan on exploring use of the Knowledge Base early next year. Mr. Remy shared some of the positives and negatives he has experienced: among the former, the main one would be the crowdsourcing of e-resource metadata maintenance in a cooperative environment; among the negatives were slow updating of the knowledge base, especially with record sets from new vendors, along with the usual problem of bad vendor-provided metadata. The final session I attended was about link resolvers and the crucial role that delivery plays in our mission. As speakers pointed out, we’ve spent the past few years focusing on discover, discovery, discovery. Now might be a good time to look again at how well the content our users find is being delivered.

OCLC Member Forum – UNCG

Thursday, October 9, 2014 9:55 am

I recently attended the first regional OCLC member forum held at UNCG. The meeting focused on the many changes happening with OCLC products and a better understanding of how the products work together. I went to the break out session pertaining to Cataloging and Metadata. Within this session, members were able to give feedback on issues that we have been having particularly with Connexion and make request for features that don’t exist. OCLC has a web page dedicated to the forums which include pictures, questions and feedback from the attendees. Feel free to explore at the following link https://oclc.org/en-US/events/member-forums/after-party.html


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