Archive for April, 2011

What We’re Reading — Week of April 18, 2011

Friday, April 22nd, 2011 by Bruce

Like, Share, Discover: Facebook For Scientists : NPR

This is more like “what we’re listening to” but I was struck by how ResearchGate has all of the characteristics necessary for a successful scholarly hub (including financial backing) (Merrilee)

Lester Bangs’ Basement: What it means to have all music instantly available. – By Bill Wyman – Slate Magazine

Everything (you’ve already heard about) is online already (Merrilee)

iPhoneTracker @ GitHub

Whether you know it or not, your iPhone is collecting data on where you’ve been. This tool provides both the information and software needed to see it yourself, so at least you can go into that dark night informed, if not incognito. (Tennant)

What We’re Reading — Week of April 11, 2011

Monday, April 18th, 2011 by Bruce

Lower Costs and Better Care for Neediest Patients : The New Yorker

Open data plus big data analysis to produce a health care heatmap finds the “worst of the worst” patients. 324 admissions in five years. (Michalko)

The End of Content Ownership | Lance Ulanoff |

Then again, I recently heard at a meeting, “the cloud is really outsourcing” (Merrilee)

It will be hard to find a public library 15 years from now – The Shatzkin Files

Consultant to book publishers Mike Shatzkin expands on his controversial (to some) comments on the future of the public library. I think it’s useful to consider how this applies to academic libraries as well. (Merrilee)

Libraries and reorganisations

Friday, April 15th, 2011 by John

Lorcan Dempsey has often pointed out that a university library is the creature of its parent institution. This is most certainly true, and is a reason why – though we can think of ourselves as a ‘sector’ – we are certainly not all alike. I worked at the University of Edinburgh before joining OCLC Research in 2007. A year or two earlier, Edinburgh made the decision to converge IT, Management Information Systems, Learning Technology and the Library into Information Services. Organisationally, this led to a carving up of the previous library structure, so that – for example – the Liaison Librarian team joined a new User Services division, while a separate division called Library & Collections appeared. This organisation resulted from a new approach to service based upon a view of information as a central resource. The Library continues to have a strong physical existence and branding, but the unit within the university structure that takes responsibility for a (very large!) set of services, and which leads on innovations within its constituent parts, is ‘Information Services’.

Here at St Andrews a similar but short-lived restructuring happened a few years ago, but – as is quite commonly the case – it did not last. So once again we have the Library as a primary organisational unit, as well as being the name by which our main and subsidiary premises are known. As the Library, however, we are perfectly capable of being innovative and collaborative. The physical Main Library includes a centrally important IT Help Desk, and we collaborate with IT Services over a growing range of ‘information services’. Being a small research library obliges this, since our resources are weighted towards the work we do in liaison and collections management, leaving us with a very slender Library Systems resource.

On the theme of reorganisation, the UK university system is in turmoil at the present time over a range of political challenges. In Scotland, it is the forthcoming Scottish elections to our Holyrood Parliament that are exercising it – in particular the question of how higher education is to be funded here, with the parties most likely to form the next government (which will almost certainly be either a minority or a coalition government) setting their faces against English-style tuition fees. Various senior academics have been pointing out the difficulties of sustainability presented by this stance. One of the most prominent is Professor Lord Stewart Sutherland, who gave a public lecture in St Andrews earlier this week, calling on UK universities to develop greater autonomy, and at least to partly privatise their own operations as government funding is progressively reduced. He also called for a debate in Scotland on what the purpose of universities is, and thus what society could reasonably expect of them, before we go any further with deciding how much funding they should enjoy from the public purse. Without that understanding, universities become victims in an endless ‘blame game’ – held responsible for a range of social problems, including economic under-performance, graduate skill shortages, and lack of social mobility. Are all of these central to the purpose of our universities?

This was a provocative lecture, delivered with eloquence and humour, and it provided a blast of cool common sense to an overheated pre-election atmosphere in Scotland. Stewart Sutherland was Principal of the University of Edinburgh when I first arrived there, in 1998. I’m sure he would want the views of librarians – and information services staff more broadly – to be heard on the purpose of their parent institutions, and thus on their own.


Thursday, April 14th, 2011 by Merrilee

Details about the first gathering of the OCLC Research Library Partnership are now online. FutureCast will help us collectively imagine the future environment that will impact our work: higher education, electronic publishing, and consumer technology. I think of this as a “think up” exercise — research libraries do not exist in a vacuum, and when considering our future, it’s not only important but vital that we take into consideration the larger environment.

The meeting will be heavily discussion driven — guided by keynote speakers and response panels, we’ll discuss and collectively forecast what the impact will be on the research library enterprise. How can we prepare for the future? What do we need to do take us from here to there? The conversation and outcomes will be lively, will guide our future collaborative activity, and will rely on your input—so be sure to attend!

This meeting is exclusively for members of the OCLC Research Library Partnership and invited guests. There is, as usual, no charge. Are you a member of the OCLC Research Library Partnership? Please register! Not sure? < Get in touch!

OCLC Research Library Partnership – a word about intent

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 by Jim

I’m just returning from an OCLC board meeting and the Global Council meeting that followed it. OCLC Research was given some nice support by the board in the launch of the OCLC Research Library Partnership (all of the trustees representing libraries have already affiliated or are positively inclined) and there was a recognition that it fit with OCLC’s other investments in fostering and renewing our channels of engagement with OCLC members. There was also some discussion among the Global Council delegates about the launch. Some of it favorable, some not and some confused.

Some of the confusion came from delegates who had received invitations but not had any follow-up. Others wondered why they’d been approached. And others wondered why they hadn’t. Some of this confusion comes from timing – our follow-on to the invitations hadn’t yet caught up with all the invitees while our broader outreach and announcements hadn’t yet begun.

The unfavorable comments converged around a few key concerns.

The Partnership represented an opportunity and outreach to a particular sector of OCLC members that isn’t duplicated for others.

The Partnership by reaching out to research libraries and requiring dues is a vehicle for large institutions to buy influence.

The Partnership by requiring dues represents the only member activity that has a separate fee for participation. (Of course, products and services are always priced but membership in the cooperative is not.)

Lorcan and I were able to talk to many of the delegates about these concerns during the breaks. I thought some of what we said might be of broader interest given that I blogged about the Partnership here just a few days ago.

Basically I tried to unpack the phrase

    OCLC Research Library Partnership.

This is OCLC Research Partnering with Libraries
The work of OCLC Research needs to be focused on genuine library concerns and issues. A lot of that work can be done most effectively and with the most impact if it is done collaboratively with libraries that have the capacities, interests, and resources to invest in this work. We welcome any library that wants to work in this way. Often larger institutions have the capacity and will but there are many smaller libraries as well as specialized institutions that have comparable capacities.

This is Libraries Partnering with OCLC Research
Libraries investing in solutions to problems, in approaches to new issues and in the development of possible future library services want to leverage the capacities of OCLC Research as well as work collaboratively with other similarly motivated institutions.

This is OCLC Partnering with Research Libraries
Research libraries are one of OCLC’s most important constituencies both as contributors to the cooperative and as consumers of its services. We need and want to understand their working issues and challenges. Often these are experienced earlier and with degrees of complexity that ultimately became broadly felt in the library community. Our ability to reflect those issues and challenges in our strategy as well as the products and services that support libraries is good for the cooperative.

There are dues associated with the OCLC Research Library Partnership because working collaboratively requires dedicated resources to make it happen effectively. Partnering demands issue identification, community building, working group support, and the synthesis and socialization of outcomes. OCLC Research has some staff effort dedicated to that kind of support and leadership. The dues supplement the OCLC funding and partially offset what would otherwise be incremental spending.

Dues buys that type of support. It doesn’t buy influence over direction of products or library support services. The future of the library community drives product strategy and then customers influence the product directions. Given that you might want to watch out for the Norwegians. ;) OCLC was fortunate enough to win a tender by BIBSYS , the national library system for Norway.

CNI slakes all appetites

Monday, April 11th, 2011 by Ricky

CNI Briefings are such a great opportunity to see old friends meet new friends and get smarter — all at breakneck speed. I treasure the opportunities to get updates on familiar topics and to be exposed to newer initiatives. The sessions are pitched at a perfect level to get current in an efficient way.
Merrilee and I gave a session titled, “Out of the Eddies and into the Mainstream: Making Special Collections Less Special and More Accessible.” It chewed through nine OCLC Research reports (four of which are in various stages of pre-publication) and offered up the morsels of wisdom contained therein. Bite-sized and easily digestible! The slides are available on SlideShare. We’ve provided notes (the tab next to comments) for those who weren’t there, so that none of the morsels slip through the cracks.
In addition to the feast of session topics, CNI puts on a pretty good spread in between sessions, too. I took full advantage of both.

An early word about the OCLC Research Library Partnership

Monday, April 11th, 2011 by Jim

I am very pleased to announce to our hangingtogether audience something that we’ve been working towards for some time — the OCLC Research Library Partnership. This new — or perhaps more appropriately, evolved entity will launch on 1 July 2011.

The OCLC Research Library Partnership builds on and extends the work of the current RLG Partnership. Like its predecessor, the new OCLC Research Library Partnership will include college and university libraries, municipal research libraries, national libraries and archives, privately funded research collections, plus special institutions and large-scale cultural repositories of various kinds. Current Partners are located on several continents and represent some of the world’s greatest libraries. We hope that an expanded and more inclusive Partnership will emerge over the next 2-3 years; we’d like it to become a considerably larger transnational group of research-led institutions.

OCLC Research Library Partners will be part of a leading-edge, peer-based, transnational collaborative. Institutions will participate in a challenging and rewarding set of activities designed to improve the information-driven environment in which your students and scholars work. Partners’ efforts will be backed by the full capacities of OCLC Research, and Partners will collectively influence and direct a substantial portion of the OCLC Research effort. Institutions will have an opportunity to share expertise with some of the most innovative and forward-thinking library managers and leaders in the world.

Notably, annual Partnership fees are now significantly lower for most institutions. This is possible because OCLC has increased its investment in the Partnership as a means of supporting the research library community. It’s very heartening to me to have my colleagues in OCLC management express their support for research libraries in this concrete fashion. I hope you see it as an evidence of the way OCLC wants to work with the research library community and recognizes that its future and that of research libraries is a shared one.

Below the fold is a small yet influential sampling of recent outputs. This subset of a very much larger body of work reflects the reach of the Partnership into the global community of research libraries and the issues they are facing—both individually and system-wide.

Following in the model that we’ve already established, the Partnership will continue to help research libraries operate in an environment transformed by Google, Amazon and other game-changing organizations. Distinctive strategic areas of focus for the Partnership will include: enhancing and extending rich information discovery; supporting the abilities of research libraries to mobilize unique collections; facilitating (both technically and operationally) the wide use of shared print repositories; creating a knowledge access environment that integrates all forms of research content within efficient organization and discovery processes; and exploring global approaches to research information management.

Over the last two months we have sent invitations to a roster of research libraries across the globe. We are starting to see them respond and are encouraged. If the Partnership and its work intrigue you I urge you to check with your
director about the invitation they may have received. All the materials describing the offer, the benefits, and the way to join are on our website.

We need you to co-invest in this new effort, both with your money and with your time, energy and ideas. We hope your enthusiasm for peer-based collaboration combined with the new, very affordable dues, will persuade you to join the Partnership so you may reap the benefits from this exciting and rewarding set of shared activities. If you have questions about affiliation more generally, please don’t hesitate to contact Nancy Elkington, Director, Partner Relations, at +1-614-764-6375 (voice) or
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What We’re Reading — Week of April 4, 2011

Friday, April 8th, 2011 by Bruce

Irish coffee: S.F. elixir on brink of extinction

A parable, beautifully told by Warren Hinckle, about the perils of not sharing. For some reason it made me think of the Kindle and DRM. (Bruce)

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: JA Konrath Interviews Barry Eisler

Pretty extraordinary conversation about how professional authors can make a substantial living without publishers. A 99 cent book and you keep 39. (Jim)

University of Wisconsin-Madison Strives to Balance Public Records with Academic Freedom | Scholar as Citizen

Fascinating to read how the U. Wisconsin-Madison is responding to the Wisconsin Republic Party’s open records request for a professor’s correspondence, apparently without thinking about “false drops” either. (Karen)

‘Citizen Scientists’ Crowdsource Radiation Measurements In Japan : Shots – Health Blog : NPR

Demand has outpaced the supply of radiation detectors, and the accuracy of the data is questioned, but I thought the impulse and ability to do this were both pretty interesting. (Bruce)

Color, A Twitter For Photo And Video, Launches With $41 Million – Bruce Upbin – Tradigital – Forbes

Location and time based service could be a game changer. How do traditional information sources (like books) slot in, or do they (Merrilee)

Facebook wants your burning questions | ITworld

Look out Yahoo Answers, (and chat reference services), Facebook is coming to town. (Merrilee)