Archive for November, 2009

But we’re not Japanese when it comes to Google

Monday, November 30th, 2009 by Jim

Apropos my earlier post about Japan, I was struck during my time in Japan by something I had not seen in the US – print and billboard advertising from Google. Here’s a picture of a very large billboard ad plunked down in the middle of Shinagawa station, one of the biggest public transport hubs in Tokyo.
Google in Shinagawa Station
As it happens today’s New York Times has an interesting article about Google’s trailing position in the Japanese market. They need to take out those ads and billboards. As the article titled In Japan, an Odd Perch for Google: Looking Up at the Leader says in part

“…Japan is one of a few major countries Google has yet to conquer. The Web giant still trails far behind Yahoo Japan, the front-runner here, operated by the Japanese telecommunications giant Softbank.

In a reversal of the rivalry in the United States, Yahoo Japan dominates Japan’s Web search market with 56.5 percent of all queries, according to the Internet research company, GA-Pro. Google, at 33.7 percent, is a distant second.

Unaccustomed to being second, Google is bending some of its most time-honored traditions in a renewed push into the Japanese market. Earlier this year, Google’s splash page for Japan abandoned the company’s classic spare design and added links to YouTube, Gmail and other services — an attempt to lure Japanese users who favor sites decorated with a cacophony of text and graphics.”

Of course, there are lots of ways in which we don’t share important Japanese sensibilities. I can’t imagine a US university declaring their Engineering building ‘The House of Creation and Imagination’ as this directory sign does ;).
Engineering building directory Hyoshi campus Keio U.
But Google might.

Climate change for libraries

Monday, November 30th, 2009 by John

At the RLG Partnership Annual Meeting in 2007, Timothy Burke told the assembled research librarians ‘you have to figure out how to be hydraulic engineers of information flow rather than the guardians of the fortress’. It’s an image that has stuck with me. Everywhere now in our professional literature we see the challenges of our work represented by the imagery of flow and fluidity. We try to scope and identify workflows that are changing or need to change. The platform of the web dips and peaks faster and differently than we can predict, and as it does so content suddenly flows in different directions, taking new channels. Stability in this environment is rare, and a relief when we find it, even though it may lie in places that librarians take some time to trust – like Google and Wikipedia.

I often show a slide produced by Rick Luce, Vice-Provost and Director of Libraries at Emory University, when describing the territory of our Research Information Management (RIM) programme. This appeals to me because it indicates that library attention needs to be focused on the workflow layer, rather than the repository layer that sits below it.

Understanding the particular environments of researchers, and the flows that matter to them, is perhaps not a new challenge for research libraries, but it is a newly urgent one. In the pre-digital world the flows were not digital flows, with the capture challenges and opportunities that now exist. The library dealt mainly in the solid world of published literature. It collected from the physical outputs that emerged at the end of flow processes, and could structure its operations around that bounded reality (within its ‘fortress’ print stores, to use Tim Burke’s analogy). Now, we see potential for library services everywhere, because we have systems that capture flows, and allow them to combine, split and replicate wherever it is useful for them to do so, and legal barriers do not obstruct. But to do so optimally, we need to understand researchers’ worlds at a level of detail that is still not familiar to libraries. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re more Japanese than we are Australian…

Sunday, November 29th, 2009 by Jim

November was a BIG travel month for me. I was privileged to deliver the keynote at the Libraries Australia 2009 Forum in Hobart, Tasmania Sullivan's Cove in Hobart from Convention Center /> then the keynote at the Museum, Library and Archive Forum sponsored by Keio University in Tokyo, Japan. In between I attended an OCLC Board/Management retreat in Dublin, Ohio. All were pleasant and informative experiences (except for that 30 hour trip from Hobart to Columbus, Ohio). There were some superficial things in common – in both Japan and Australia OCLC was regarded as an important partner and OCLC Research work was well-known and discussed. In all three venues we ended up discussing grand challenges that face the library world including Google Book Search (#1 by a large margin even though neither Australia nor Japan will be impacted by whatever settlement emerges), e-readers, new scholarly outputs, the move from print to electronic books, cloud computing and print-on-demand.

Having been at home for a few days with opportunity to reflect I’m struck by how different the Australian library environment is from that in the USA and how many similarities the Japanese environment has to the USA.
Read the rest of this entry »

Do born-digital materials belong “in” special collections?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 by Jackie

Some of us listened in on this morning’s CNI Conversation, in the course of which Cliff Lynch mentioned that the October 16th ARL special collections forum in D.C. was time well spent–with which I agree wholeheartedly. During the Q&A I asked him whether he thinks born-digital collections (e-manuscripts, institutional websites, administrative records, etc.) should be considered “special collections” in terms of custodianship and other aspects of curatorial management. This is a question that began to arise at special collections conferences a couple years ago, and that has sometimes elicited a resounding NO, as in, “That’s unthinkable! We’re all about curation of rare and unique physical artifacts.”

The colleagues whom I’ve heard express this opinion generally seem to have a professional orientation more from the rare books and manuscripts perspective (library based) than institutional archives. (Archivists in the latter context have no issue with born-digital materials being managed as part of traditional archival collections.)

Cliff’s response: he sees no problem considering born-digital materials that comprise unique, distinctive collections to warrant the same type of curatorial oversight that physical special collections receive. His opinion is based at least in part on the special expertise required in areas such as provenance and context, specialized metadata, and a commitment to permanent preservation.

Beyond that, here’s the nugget offered by Cliff that I found particularly useful: Perhaps the tipping point at which a collection should be managed by “special collections” is when an acquiring institution accepts official responsibility for managing (i.e., “owning”) it, such as via an agreement with a donor. In other words, the special collections library is the organization that will provide access, interpret, assist users, understand any intellectual property rights, and assure preservation of that body of digital files and content.

What do you think? Is this a reasonable way to look at it?

Academic Library Manifesto

Monday, November 9th, 2009 by Ricky

Support for the Research Process: An Academic Library Manifesto (PDF) was just released by the RLG Partnership Research Information Management Roadmap Working Group. You don’t need to nail it to your library’s door, but you might want to think about how many of these things you currently do, how many you could do, and what you could stop doing (or streamline) so that you can better support your institution’s research mission.

Getting smarter about archives and special collections

Monday, November 2nd, 2009 by Jackie

Other OCLC Research colleagues and I have been mentioning in recent months that we’re working toward launching a survey of special collections and archives in academic and research libraries. It seemed about time to follow up on ARL’s catalytic survey from way back in 1998. At long last (seems that way to those of us designing it), blast-off is in sight! It’ll be arriving mid-week in the e-mail box of the director of every library that belongs to the RLG Partnership in the U.S. or Canada, ARL, CARL (Canada), IRLA, and the Oberlin Group. Those of you running a special collections department or archives in one of those zones may want to be sure that it makes it to your desk soon thereafter (responses due by 18 December).

The questions cover the gamut from the routine (how much stuff do you have, how accessible is it, how many reading room visitors, etc.) to the timely (are you using the latest archival management tools and Web 2.0 social networking technologies, have you made progress on born-digital, do you have any staff or money left in this budget climate, etc.). Get ready to tell us all about your institutional selves. The project is described in detail here. Questions? Let me know.