Finding, Using, and Sharing Scholarly Content

The speakers for this session were Beth LaPensee of JSTOR and Alice Preston from Ithaka.

JSTOR is currently in the process of doing a major site redesign, and Beth LaPensee gave an overview of some of the changes that might (emphasis on the word might; this is still a work in progress) be included in the final version, which will be released sometime next year. Some of the more notable changes that she mentioned include:

  • The ability to limit searches to journals within a specific discipline from the basic search page.
  • The option to rerun previous searches within a session.
  • An auto-complete feature when searching by journal title.
  • The ability to search at any point while browsing; i.e., there will be a box on all of the browse pages that will allow you to search within a specific journal or issue of a journal that you have browsed to, without having to navigate back to the search page.
  • The main page for browsing a journal will be combined with the information page for that journal.
  • On the combined information page/browse page for each journal, there will be options for accessing the journal’s content for people who do not subscribe to JSTOR, such as “Publisher Sales Service” (a.k.a. article pay-per-view).
  • Citation linking and related articles linking.
  • Article-level links out of JSTOR to journal content that is on the wrong side of their moving wall.
  • Faceted searching (which is already available in the JSTOR Sandbox).
  • The ability to adjust the relative importance of keywords in your searches by using graphical sliders next to each keyword.
  • MyJSTOR, which will include things like the ability to save searches; notification of new results for searches; and the ability to save a list of favorite journals and favorite disciplines, which will be used as the default for your searches.

Alice Preston talked about Aluka, another project from Ithaka. Aluka is a digital library of material about Africa. It currently contains 20 terabytes of data, including high-resolution specimen sheets of African plants that can be zoomed in on to the microscopic level, photographs and laser scans of endangered cultural heritage sites, and digitized original source materials from southern Africa’s liberation movements.

JSTOR subscribers have a free preview of Aluka until the end of the year—it’s a link at the top of the JSTOR home page. Aluka will be offered free of charge to institutions in Africa, and Ithaka hopes that when Aluka is formally launched that enough institutions in the developed world will subscribe to Aluka to subsidize that free access for Africa.

Libraries as Digital Publishers: A New Model for Scholarly Access to Information

This panel featured six speakers who are involved in a new project to digitize books and make them available both online and print-on-demand via Amazon. Two of the speakers, Lotfi Belkhir and Robin Asbury, work for the companies that are behind the project—Kirtas Technologies and BookSurge, respectively—and the other four speakers are with institutions that are digitizing books: Martin Halbert and Lisa Macklin, from Emory University; Joyce Rumery, from the University of Maine, and Linda McKenzie from the Toronto Public Library.

This project differentiates itself from Google’s scanning project by focusing on quality control. As Lotfi explained in his presentation, Google and their partner libraries are privileging quantity—digitizing the most books possible in the shortest period of time—over quality—creating the most complete, accurate, and usable digital copies of books possible. (To demonstrate the problems in the Google method, he showed a set of images of one book that Google scanned that contained a very intricately manicured set of fingernails, and, in some of the images, the entire hand, earning some chuckles from the audience.) In his view, there’s no point in doing a project with such low quality control. The cost of scanning books is only a tiny fraction of the total cost of a digitization process; most of the cost will come in the following years as storage costs. In Lotfi’s opinion, there is no point in scrimping on the scanning and then spending all of that money to store a low-quality product—especially since the institution is unlikely to be able to afford to scan books again any time in the near future.
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The Ultimate Debate: Do Libraries Innovate?

Hello LITAblog readers! I’m Julia Bauder, a student in the MLIS program at Wayne State and one of the LITA conference bloggers. I’ll be blogging three sessions this weekend. First up is The Ultimate Debate: Do Libraries Innovate?, featuring Andrew Pace of North Carolina State University as the moderator, Joseph Janes of the University of Washington, Karen Schneider, and Stephen Abram of SirsiDynix.

Unfortunately, I missed the beginning of this panel. There are two Renaissance Hotels hosting ALA programs, I discovered today about five minutes before this discussion was due to start, and the Renaissance Hotel hosting this program was not the one right across the street from the convention center—it was the one two Metro stops away.
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