Archive for October, 2009

OAIster Update: More Access & No Conditions

Friday, October 30th, 2009 by Roy

In previous posts, I sought to clarify our plans for taking over the OAIster aggregation of metadata from the University of Michigan. Since then a couple key things have changed, which are being communicated to the repositories being harvested as well as to the broader community.

One of the changes is that there are no longer any “terms and conditions” regarding the metadata. In keeping with the open style of the Open Archives Initiative community, if you make your metadata available for harvesting, you must intend for it to be harvested. We will also feel free to index it, provide access to it, and allow Google to crawl it. After all, we believe that discovery and access is the whole point of opening up your metadata for harvesting. If it isn’t, then all you have to do is let us know.

The other key change is that we have decided that the OAIster aggregation is an important enough destination for finding open access content that we will make it possible to search only the OAIster records on, at separate web address, should you wish to do so. The records will still be integrated into the database as well, and continue to be available as a separate database in FirstSearch, but there seemed to be enough interest in the OAIster aggregation as a unified database that we decided to support those uses. This will take a little time to put together, and our plan is to make it available after the first of the year.

We listened to your feedback, we carefully considered your comments, and we feel that it is important enough to get this right that we are willing to make an investment in it. We hope you feel that it is a worthy use of your resources. We do.

The Cult of Brewster Finds Its Church

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 by Roy

The Internet Archive's New HomeLast night Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive unveiled his latest project in a venue suitable for any high priest or cult leader — a former Christian Science Church in San Francisco. As it turns out, the Internet Archive recently purchased the building, and as Brewster remarked during the grand unveiling of the Bookserver project, it even matches their long-time logo, which was selected on purpose to imply a physical library.

Although the mood in the great room of the church that eventually Brewster hopes to turn into a modern-day library reading room was more hallelujah-inspiring than anything, the day preceding had been more down-and-dirty technical. The two-day meeting (still going on as I write this), is more about AtomPub and identifiers than holy water and consecrated wafers, but all of it does take a certain amount of faith. Read the rest of this entry »

Delivering the goods

Monday, October 12th, 2009 by Merrilee

I’ve been skimming the report from the University of Minnesota Discoverability. Lorcan recently blogged about this report in detail, but this bit caught my eye:

Users draw little distinction between discovery and delivery; systems, data, and information objects should be optimized for fulfillment.

This is no surprise, but the finding deserves attention in relationship to unique materials. In special collections, the “information objects” that should be “optimized for fulfillment” are usually not. The report does not specifically address concerns related to special collections, focusing instead on materials where timeliness of delivery is a factor. However, with the expectation of timely and convenient availability of materials (if not instant access to materials) a growing trend in general collections, what about special collections?

Two activities in the RLG Partnership are addressing this: Sharing Special Collections (led by my colleague Dennis) and Streamlining Photography and Scanning (led by my colleague Jennifer). Both groups are have working groups populated by smart and motivated professionals.

We’re some distance from special collections that are optimized for fulfillment, but I’m pleased that we have great minds focusing on the issue. Take a look at these activities and let us know what you think.

Emphasis on Ebooks

Friday, October 9th, 2009 by Jim

Along with some colleagues I attended the O’Reilly Emphasis on Ebooks online conference today. It’s part of the ongoing O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference.

In Research we’re investing significant time over the next several months to thinking about services built around books and how those services will change as the migration from physical to ebooks progresses. This half-day conference seemed relevant.

It had three panels organized around

Ebook Pricing: Is $9.99 the new price for ebooks? How can publishers add value and increase margins with ebooks?
What Do Readers Want? How are readers responding to ebooks and the plethora of new devices? What do they think of our efforts to date?
The Future of Electronic Reading: Ebooks, Ereaders, and Beyond: This presentation will cover the current state of the art in eBooks and eReaders – discussing the technologies currently at play and those coming in the near future.”

The first panelists were the most interesting. They included the founders or CEOs from Scribd, Lexcycle (the folks who produce the Stanza ereader), Bookoven and Librivox. Innovators and successful early pioneers. Here’s some of the things they said.

I can’t attribute these remarks to the specific individuals given the limitations of Webex conferencing and the rapid-fire talk that was going on.

All the stuff you can’t do with an ebook can explain the price difference – sell it, lend it, annotate etc. Take a dollar off for every one of those and you get to $10 from 15.

What’s the range of opportunity that e provides that’s unavailable in print? We don’t know what that richer object is yet.

What’s really wanted is the ‘everything’ edition. You get all the formats including print for a small increment. And what constitutes the ‘everything’ edition will take shape by audience and segment and genre which will lead to differential pricing even for the ‘everything’ edition.

Offering new free titles raises interest across the entire list of a publisher. (An old public domain offering doesn’t do it). What’s the conversion after the free title? Lots of consumers think e is a platform for consuming free content and don’t go any further. [The speaker referred to these consumers as Freegans - a designation I'll use in the future.]
Read the rest of this entry »

A DLF Forum Like No Other

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 by Roy

Ever since it was announced that the Digital Library Federation was merging with CLIR, I’ve heard people wondering about the fate of the Forum, which has long been appreciated as one of the signal benefits of the Digital Library Federation. As stated in the press release:

“While we do not believe an independent, governance-based organizational model is still viable, our assessment has underscored the continued value in the [DLF] Forum and the potential for catalyzing our community. Dissolving the Digital Library Federation and re-conceiving the program agenda within CLIR offers considerable promise,” noted the Review Committee.

Thankfully Sayeed Choudhury of Johns Hopkins University, a long-time DLF Forum participant and well-respected in the community, stepped forward to lead the planning of the Fall Forum. Joined by a team of DLF activists (and me, go figure), he is intent on changing the typical Forum into a transformative experience. This coming Forum, to be held November 11-12 in Long Beach, CA, is focused entirely on “Strategies for Innovation”.

Rather than being based on the classic “call for papers”, this time the planning committee is soliciting specific speakers who we believe can best focus on what it takes to be innovative and how we can collectively more forward in these trying times. Therefore the talks themselves will not be the usual “this is my institution, this is what we did, and this is what happened” kind of thing. We’re after experiences, certainly, but focused on what we can take away from them  to inform our efforts to be innovative. Currently  the speaker line-up includes:

  • Brad Maclean, DuraSpace
  • John Wilkin, The HathiTrust and the University of Michigan
  • Bess Sadler, University of Virginia
  • Katherine Kott, Stanford University
  • Sayeed Choudhury, Johns Hopkins University

And we are working hard to line up others to flesh out the main perspectives we want to have at the table: libraries, funders, technology, and community.

The first day will be comprised of these stage-setting talks and an evening reception where we can informally discuss what we’ve heard. The second day will be devoted to discussion and participation. Attendees will divide into one of  three groups in the morning of the second day: Developers, Project Managers,  or Administrators. The focus in each of these groups will be to discuss how to be innovative and what strategies we think would be the most effective to move us all forward. The groups will report back and form the foundation for the culminating session of the Forum, which will be a group work session to identify specific strategies to pursue. As Sayeed said in a recent message to DLF-ANNOUNCE:

With this approach, it is difficult to know precisely what will result from the conversations and reflections, but one desirable outcome would be a set of near-term community source software development needs, along with a clear understanding of the organizational and financial arrangements to meet those needs.  Another important outcome would be a road map for subsequent Forums and perhaps even DLF itself.

This Forum will be an opportunity to share your thoughts about what has worked — and what has not — in terms of innovation within libraries and how to make changes in order to support innovation more effectively.  It will be your chance to identify the most pressing technical needs that must be addressed if we are to make rapid progress for supporting new forms of learning and research.  This Forum will be an assembly for open discussion where you can help shape the future of DLF.

Be there to be heard.