Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming…

Most of you (except Poor Pitiful LITA Councilor) are back at work and dealing with the onslaught of post-conference catch-up. But know that your conference posts have been appreciated, read, and enjoyed! At yesterday’s meeting, LITA Board members had many fine things to say about all your efforts. Reporters from Library Journal and American Libraries, our version of the MSM (Mainstream Media), have been following your posts, as well.

I plan to complement Will’s “Federated Search” program write-up with a post once I get home, since, after arriving late, I caught the last speaker, which he missed, and I also snagged all the handouts. Will did such a great job on that post that I hesitate to even touch the topic, but I’ll try. I also have notes from the Google Scholar/Print talk, though I may just comment on Leo’s fine writeup. If you have notes from things you attended, come on and blog while it’s fresh!

ALCTS PARS Reformatting Committee: Analog Digital Hat Dance

ALCTS PARS Reformatting Committee

Sunday, June 26, 2005
8:00-10:00 a.m.

Analog and Digital Preservation Technology

Apologies for the lateness and the brevity of this post. I was both late for this session and had to leave early—the very worst kind of guest. However, I determined that I still really wanted to blog it. I went for the brief time allotted in part because I’ve been to good PARS sessions in the past. Even more, I went because this was the only session at ALA that came up in the event planner on a keyword search for microfilm. My day job is as a newspapers and microform librarian.

This was held in one of the smaller conference rooms on the first floor of McCormick. Fairly well attended, i.e., someone in almost every third seat.

When I arrived, the first speaker, whose name I did not get, was discussing video preservation strategies. He mentioned film widths I’ve never even heard of.

The next speaker was Priscilla Caplan, Assistant Director for Digital Library Services, Florida Center for Library Automation. Her talk was on Digital Preservation & Trusted Repositories. She described preservation strategies, standards & frameworks, tools, and applications and initiatives for CRL certification.

Priscilla cited a Trusted Digital Repository (TDR) report from RLG/OCLC working group. [Must look up!]

Her main thrust was Trust But Verify!

Dean Michele Cloonan from Simmons College followed. I had to (reluctantly) leave during her talk.

Dean Cloonan spoke about we have to consider copyright issues with every single copy we make, any format, any reason. Fair uses is evolving—who wants to be the test case?

In digitization projects, there are always human, financial, and technical expertise needs. Social issues are key—mission, copyright, etc.

Analog preservation has been reactive—deterioration has prompted. However, digital preservation must be proactive—build it in.

An observation: “Vietnam is a country, not a war,” i.e., ongoing, never done. Build, create, constituency. Collaboration!

Time to dash, very unfortunately! I guess I missed whatever discussion there was of microfilm….

The Delicate Process Dance

(Btw: we have over 80 posts on this blog. Woohoo!)

I’m sitting here in ALA Council listening to discussion about the recommendations from the Task Force on Library School Closings. Earlier today I negotiated discussions about two draft resolutions, one on biometrics and one on RFID, and offered to bring the matter to LITA. When someone from IFC asked me why LITA needed to weigh in–after all, OITP had reviewed the resolutions, wasn’t that enough–I said that LITA’s strategic plan notes that emerging technologies is one of its central concerns.

I did not add that it’s really good for LITA members to be continually challenged to think about intellectual freedom issues related to technology–and it’s really good for other divisions to be reminded that all library and information science professionals, including LITA’s members, have a place at the table on cross-cutting intellectual freedom issues, particularly issues that are so clearly commingled with technology.

Then I moved on to talk to one Councilor about another, non-LITA resolution, and to reassure another that I would not forget about his concerns about the online event planner. I made sure two Councilors who had been having trouble with their wifi connection were hooked up (one Councilor had never used a laptop, let alone wifi, but despite the fact that her laptop was buttoned down more tightly than a missile silo, soon she was happily emailing away). I also seconded a minor change to ALA’s strategic plan that ALCTS had introduced to ensure that the plan referred to international standards (in addition to local, state, and federal standards), and was pleased to see the motion pass swiftly and smoothly, with only minor objections, primarily from people who misunderstood what we meant by “standards.”

I was IM’ing someone in a big organization today and explaining that Councilors bring many competing (and complementary!) interests to the table in our debates and discussions. She started to commiserate, but I stopped her. I think this is a Good Thing. It’s good for ALA, and it’s good for those of us who get a chance (or in my case, three so far) to serve on ALA’s governing body and participate in this delicate process dance.

Sitting on Council can be like watching paint dry, given the necessary slowness of parliamentary procedure. But at the end of the day I’m proud to serve LITA in this capacity.

We’re voting on whether to close debate on the “Endangered Libraries List” (I loved the comment from one Councilor that he would only vote for it if ALL libraries would be listed on it), so I better wrap up this post. Do you realized it’s about 100 days to forum? Can’t wait!

ALCTS Newspaper Users Discussion Group

ALCTS Newspaper Users Discussion Group

Sat., 06/25/2005
2:00-4:00 p.m.
Palmer House Private Dining Room 5

Smallish room, approx. 25 attendees tops. I recognize most from previous NUDG sessions at midwinter and annual.

OCLC Terminologies Project and the Newspaper Genre List.

Eric Childress and Diane Vizine-Goetz, both from OCLC
The mapping of fields from the U.S. Newspaper Project (circa 1970-1990) to MARC fields should be useful for those projects still working with the old data.

Attendees described OCLC’s efforts to convert USNP LDRs to MARC 21 MFHD later this summer. Mark Sweeney, not present, has been involved in efforts.

Microfilm and Digital Newspaper Projects in Pennsylvania
Sue Kellerman, Penn State University Libraries

Overview of progress on the PA Newspaper Project, which went on hiatus for 15 years due to lack of funding. Old data, rechecking, cooperation among repositories, filming, next steps. Plus very successful project to digitize Penn State student newspaper. See

Civil War newspaper digitization project using which has a thematic approach. Using Active Paper from Olive–now Israeli.

Some discussion of National Digital Newspaper Project, funding, etc. People present from Berkeley, Tennessee, and Utah (all first round grant recipients) discussed progress, issues, etc. Technical and program information is on the web at

Jessica from UWash described an interesting, rich thematic approach to a collection on 1919 including newspapers, pictures, and other formats. The Seattle General Strike Project:

Sue Kellerman will be the new chair of NUDG. We have to standardize our meeting times for Midwinter.

“We will all be out of our comfort zone for a while.”

“We will all be out of our comfort zone for a while.”

Googling the Better Mousetrap: Cyber Resources on the Front Line of Reference

RUSA 2005 President’s Program

Monday, 06/27/2005
Sheraton Chicago Ballroom VI/VII

[Mere minutes late! Getting better at timing leaving the McCormick wifi teat and busing to a hotel. In my next life, I’m staying at the Sheraton. It’s right on the river, and I found the ballroom easily! Large ballroom, not quite full but crowded.]

Most complicated evaluation form ever seen. Eek—forgot to fill out! Will mail…


John Dove, President, Xrefer
Chris Nasso, Gale Group
Bill Pardue, Arlington Heights Memorial Library
Marilyn Parr, Library of Congress
J. L. Needham, Google
Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia/Wikimedia

Abstract: How do information/reference sources live and grow on the web? A panel of librarians, publishers, and search engine designers will discuss:

  • Design issues for online information resources: past, present, and future
    Patterns of user behavior that affect resource design
    Information quality control in distributed production environments (content vs. containers)
    The development of finding tools for online resources
  • I don’t think the panelists managed to cover all the points in the abstract, but it was a really good discussion.

    Marilyn started things off nicely with a short discussion of LOC’s history with computing since 1960. I was interested that she mentioned how digitization of photographs led to LOC’s entry into electronic resource creation. Now, LOC pages are accessed 1 million times a day, many times through referrals from Google. She hears increasingly from the public that “the Library of Congress should use Google for search.” (Well, American Memory results can be daunting.)

    J.L. started off by noting that the program title was an example of improper use of the Google brand. He also admitted to only 6 months of exposure to library land at Google. (We must be gentle?)

    He noted that previously e-books have been mostly invisible on the web to users and search engines. He said it is time to up the ante with publishers—for both cataloging and search engine optimization (not his term). He said publishers need to reallocate resources to provide access to the document itself rather than to their home page.

    Bill described how NorthStarNet uses distributed content creation—it is a reference resource created and maintained by its users—mostly reference librarians. It is a directory, a calendar. Provides contributors with a blogging interface, forums, and a possible “community in a box”.

    Chris described how as a regular public library user, he has observed patrons searching online for information he knows the library owns (doesn’t he mean rents?), but they are looking in a place where he knows they won’t find it. Jokes that guards are finding his behavior suspicious—kinda have concerns there myself—privacy anyone? Anyway, he sees a big evolution in the industry. Gale/Google “” aims to improve the content of the internet, and that users will get the “going through their library” concept.

    Jimmy gave a precise explanation of Wikipedia’s history, philosophy, and process. He spoke a little about the influence of the four freedoms of free software. He considers Wikipedia’s strength to be its strong, passionate community.

    John had recorded comments from Terry Winograd and Amy someone, a reference librarian. Terry said we need to get to a mind reader—and for that to happen, a search engine needs to know you. John said that if a search engine tried to know him via his shared home PC, it would go crazy. Amazon’s “people who purchase…” feature already gets pretty weird trying to reconcile him, wife, and son. Amy said we don’t need a mind reader machine; we have reference librarians. John talked about reference needs moving to 24/7 and self service. Content + librarians + users need another business model, not advertising based and not F2F. Google Print is fabulous, but how will users make sense of the retrievals of the Bodleian’s 18th century results? The librarian role in this has not yet been invented. Someday in the future, a 5th grade grandchild will ask him, “what’s a results list?” So we need a good online self-service reference platform.

    Highlights of the extremely lively Q & A:

    How will Google do the ranking of hits from Google Print?
    J.L.: already working with different algorithms for different formats.

    What if a librarian who wants to teach evaluation plants bad info in Wikipedia?
    Jimmy: in his experience, librarians are more ethical than that. [Laughter.] Described how new posts are the most scrutinized. The constant review process has made bad behavior rare.

    Wikipedia and controversial posts, i.e, George Bush entry during election?
    Jimmy: media reports were completely wrong. The Bush and Kerry entries were not controversial—it was just vandalism from outside the community that made them lock the entries. They are about to go live with new software that will allow a time delay mode to keep vandalism at bay.

    What do Google and Wikipedia know that the library community does not? (wow, this spark ignited things!)
    Bill: Rely on the community to generate reputation and usefulness. Marilyn: LOC uses Google to find LOC stuff. The LOC’s own metadata doesn’t talk to each other, leading to incomprehensible results. J.L.: Currently the open web has no competition. Libraries are walled gardens. Speed drives decisions (milliseconds matter.) Comprehensiveness is key. He used Wikipedia to get info on a Chinese province recently. Search engine indexing of our walled gardens is key. John: Google speaks to Ranganathan’s Fourth Law. Speed, yes. But relevance and authority need context. Chris: Search engines have such sheer breadth of coverage. Individuals information needs morph so quickly—within one search session even.

    Lowered expectations—Google gives sufficient answers. Students going for full text convenience of lesser source rather than go for better print resource one floor away.
    Jimmy: Funny line about regular emails from college students getting Fs for citing Wikipedia. He says, “You are in college! Learn to use sources!” [laughter.] It’s a problem that wider digitization efforts may solve. Marilyn: Google draws students into things they wouldn’t have found.

    Which product is fun? Which offers community? It has upped the burden of scholarly resources. Chris: new name for Thomson-Gale? [laughter.] John: new name for Xrefer that does not include “Thomson”! [much laughter]. Then gave example of how Xrefer content map on Armageddon led to paper on Pink Floyd.

    Users don’t care about the container! LIS schools spend so much time on encyclopdediae, almanacs, gazetteers, etc.
    Chris: we want to be fun for the user, but we must offer authority to the librarian customer. We will all be out of our comfort zone for a while.

    LIS educator: we are trapped! Cri de couer; we don’t know what is going to happen, butwe have to keep all segments happy.

    This started devolving into a wonderful conversation between vendors, publishers and audience–impossible to credit who said what, plus questioners would amplify, translate, perform! Ideas:
    Jimmy: Wikipedians (my term) get to be quiz show winners—exercise serendipity by following links.
    John: we can’t prejudge what users need. Publishers need to present hundreds if not thousands of results on one page to show context. J.L.: Serendipity abounds on Google. Now using format icons to present context.

    Expanding John’s comment that “ads aren’t it; free isn’t it”?
    John: don’t libraries need more than one encyclopedia? Need best thoughts of best thinkers. Need editors. What is the business model? Look at extrapolations. Ads don’t meet academic approbation. But academic journals often have ads. And open access publishers are using AdSense to generate some revenue.

    Google Scholar is looking to aggregate all emanations of an article. Thomson Gale wants any content of value. Expansive search vs. focused search. Learning styles. 8 modalities of reference inquiry. Sometimes source matters but sometimes it doesn’t. Creating content is a form of service. The classics were gatekept. Librarian’s role is getting to the right question. How is 24/7 reference mediated? We need to build bridges. Need diversity of sources and contexts.

    I think this session might have gone on happily until all were completely exhausted. But someone else needed the room. The moderator mentioned the panelists had a lively lunch beforehand. The give-and-take on the panel and with the audience was wonderful to see. Information=conversation indeed! There was agreement and disagreement but there was listening on all sides. Hmm. How can the range of conversation, including the front-line librarians, LIS educators, info literacy, etc., continue? Maybe a wiki? Kudos to panelists and questioners!

    Greenstone Digital Libraries: Installation to Production

    Sunday, June 26th, 10:30am – 12:00pm
    Session descr. from the LITA site: Greenstone digital library software is a comprehensive, multilingual open-source system for constructing, presenting, and maintaining digital collections. Greenstone developer Ian H. Witten will introduce Greenstone and demonstrate installation and collection building. Washington Research Library Consortium and University of Chicago Library representatives will discuss Greenstone implementations at their organizations, including software requirements and selection, collection and interface customization and use of METS-encoded metadata. Laura Sheble will present results from the 2004 Greenstone User Survey.

    [Note from Claire: sorry, everyone, my laptop died so I don’t have complete notes on this session; hopefully my co-blogger has a more complete record]

    Speaker 1: Ian Witten, University of Waikato, developers of the Greenstone library system

    Goals of Greenstone have been:
    -to be able to present collections of digital material and to support custom presentation of these colls.
    -large scale support, up to several Gb text
    -support associated/linked images, movies, etc.
    -serve on web or publish to CD
    -run anywhere, on any platform, and with support for many languages
    -non-exclusive as to format
    -non-prescriptive as to metadata, etc.

    Easy to install, supports full text or fielded search. Extensible.

    -Open source (SourceForge)
    -5,000 copied downloaded each year
    -supports 38 languages
    -Supported by some important international agencies; UNESCO distributes and provides Greenstone training

    Ian did a demo of the Greenstone system (I believe he said he was showing version 2):
    Running the librarian interface, demoed creation of a new collection with these main steps
    “Gather” – drag/drop images and other Beatles miscellany into a collection window. Greenstone detects mime types, prompts to install plugins for mime types not previously encountered (MP3 and MARC)

    “Enrich” – optional step to add metadata, which Ian skipped for demo purposes

    “Design” to create indexes. Uses any available extracted metadata if metadata not explicitly provided in the Enrich step (titles from MP3 and HTML files, etc.)

    “Build” to build the collection

    Demo’ed a search for “love” in full text & title. Shows thumbnails of images, which it creates as the image files are imported in the “Gather” phase.

    Bulding a more sophisticated collection for Beatles miscellany took about 1.5, this involved adding a MIDI plugin, adding metadata for the objects, adding DC classifiers, adding a browse by media type function.

    Greenstone 3 is a complete rewrite and is in the works; can be downloaded in beta form now but not recommended for production use. V2 is still the supported/recommended product. Changes coming in 3: generates XML rather than HTML, METS is the foundation and underlying collection format, JAVA-based and uses SOAP.

    Speaker 2: Alison Zhang, Washington Research Library Consortium

    WRLC is 8 academic libraries in the DC area

    In 2002, received and IMLS grant to provide dig. collections in a consortial environment

    Needed power and flexibility from a digital library delivery system. Features sought:
    User interface: good browse, powerful search, customizable, collection-based indexing and labeling, linkable digital objects & metadata, multipage object display (books or other complex text objects), support for multiple formats (MD?), support for standard schema, federated search
    Staff interface: ease of use, support for Dublin Core, support master and derivative vers. of objects, templates, direct view of digital objects, allow search edit and delete of records, support global changes/updates, local authority control.

    None of the software evaluated met all requirements, so decided to customize two open source packages: DCDot for metadata creation and Greenstone for display/user int. Neither supports federated search or multipage object view.

    Most of staff interface is DCDot-based, customized. Created own multipage viewer.

    Example collections, for which customized HTML templates were built (17 dig. collections built since 2002 using Greenstone): Art images Collection, Finding Aids collection (EAD-based, first Greenstone customer to do this).

    Delved a bit into the details of how to customize Greenstone, referred us to the doc. she wrote which is linked to from the Greenstone site: “Customizing the Greenstone User Interface”

    Customizing DCDot – most customization involved Perl. Created templates, implemented a drop-down authority list that updates dynamically as additions are made.

    Created own collection management system to tie everything together and are in the process of replacing DCDot with another management interface, possibly DSpace.

    Speaker 3: Tod Olson, University of Chicago Library

    Chopin Scores project: over 400 scores from Chopin’s early period.

    Tabbed user interface display, choose to view bibliographic desc. or the document itself, which has a multipage browse feature.

    Built this project on AACR2 MARC from library catalog. Preservation scans and structural metadata were input into a relational database. MARC was transformed to MODS, which were then combined with images and structural md to create a METS record. METS transformed via XSLT into the Greenstone structure. Tod explained in some detail which bits of the METS structmap, etc. were mapped to the Greenstone format.

    Features of Greenstone3 that U of C looks forward to: support for Lucene or MG/MGPP (Greenstone internal indexing component), METS as internal structure, MySQL support, XML/XSLT for presentation, continued support for existing Greenstone2 data.

    Proof-of-concept Music Information Retrieval (MIR) component:
    Scores in the collection are matched to existing MIDI examples. Pitch intervals are encoded as text, which is added to the document metadata.

    User can input a tune into a keyboard. This MIDI file is similarly encoded as text, then a search looks for matches in the document metadata. It actually works!

    Chopin Early Editions

    Speaker 4: Laura Sheble, Wayne State
    Greenstone User survey

    Created a user survey to get feedback on Greenstone support mechanisms

    [Session notes cut off here, sorry – Claire] [no problem, great post! — kgs]

    Google and Libraries: What’s in Store for Google Print and Google Scholar

    Boy, that was a packed program! I thought yesterday’s “Top Technology Trends” was packed. Today there were even more people. (see photos…)


    What everyone came to see was the panel discussion featuring Google’s Adam Smith along with representatives from the five libraries that have agreed to let Google digitize their books. In order of seating, that was John Price-Wilkin (Michigan), Catherine Tierney (Stanford), Ronald Milne (Oxford), Dale Flecker (Harvard), and John Balow (NYPL). Maurice York (Emory) on the far left was moderator.

    Google Print

    Although the program was subtitled “What’s in Store for Google Print and Google Scholar”, most of the attention was paid to Google Print — quite rightly because it involves libraries handing over to Google the very things that make them unique, namely, their collections.

    It soon became clear however that some of the libraries appear to be engaged in “Pilot Projects”. Harvard for example, is starting out with 40,000 volumes.

    Why Google?

    The motivation for doing this was obvious: Google has the kind of deep-pockets (or claims it has) to undertake digitizing entire libraries — at a rate far faster than the libraries themselves could manage. It also has, in the words of Dale Flecker, the “nerve” to do it. When Google told Michigan it wanted to digitize their entire collection, John Price Wilkin called it an “amusing story”.

    What the libraries get in return are their books back (natch) plus a digital copy of the material. What the libraries will do with their copy isn’t immediately clear. John Balow conceded that these are still “early days”.

    Even Adam Smith admitted that Google is in “research-mode” concerning some aspects of both Scholar and Print. Its technology “continues to evolve”.

    Access & Preservation

    What isn’t in doubt is the increased access these titles will have once they’re part of Google. “It’s all about access,” Ronald Milne emphasized. For Oxford, the notion is to bring the “Republic of Letters” into the 21st Century.

    Not addressed are issues of preservation. Indeed, with the exception of Michigan, most didn’t think this was a “preservation project”. The kind of “industrial” process that Google is using (mum’s the word on what it actually is) can only be used on books that are in good shape.

    That said, it would be “more possible”, in the words of Catherine Tierney, for libraries like Stanford to concentrate on their more unique materials — with Google handling its part. Dale Flecker thought it might also make things cheaper.


    Google intends to scan everything including books not yet in the public domain. The user will only see “snippets” of works where Google has no agreement (read, permission) with the publisher. This naturally raises questions of copyright infringement.

    Adam Smith stressed that Google wasn’t setting up a “book distribution system but an indexing system”. That said, Smith admitted that copyright is a “complicated issue”. He suggested a public listing of “orphaned” works post-1923 so everyone would know what was in copyright and what wasn’t.

    Trust Google?

    One recurring theme was whether it made sense to put so many (library) eggs in the basket of what ultimately is a profit-driven corporation whose first loyalty is to its stockholders.

    None of the representatives seemed disturbed by this. As John Balow explained only half seriously, “We rely on the generosity of strangers. This is just another day of work.”

    And what if Google should pull out?

    “Time will tell,” John Price Wilkin concluded.


    Google Library Digitization Agreement With University Of Michigan… (Search Engine Watch).
    Includes link to the U-Mich/Google Agreement

    Michigan Digitization Project
    Good information about Michigan’s project plus links to the other Libraries in the Agreement.

    Don’t Get Goggle-Eyed Over Google’s Plan to Digitize. (Mark Y. Herring, Chronicle of Higher Ed. March 11, 2005).
    Looks at the Agreement with a Grain of Salt.

    Review of Google Scholar (Martin Myhill, Charleston Advisor – April 2005)
    Balanced — even helpful — review of Scholar.

    Using Usage Data

    This had to be the single longest program offered at ALA this year, short of the all-day preconferences. FOUR hours! But for someone genuinely interested in the topic, such as myself, the program quite amazingly sustained interest throughout. But it would be absurd to even TRY to blog the program in any great detail. So I’ll just try to hit a few high points here and there. The program coordinator promised to post all of the presentation slides on the ALCTS website eventually, within a few weeks after the convention.

    Use Measures for Electronic Resources: Theory and Practice
    Monday, June 27, 2005 1:30 – 5:30 PM
    Collection Management and Development Section, Association for Library Collections and Technical Services

    Speakers (in the order they spoke):
    Martha Kyrillidou, Director, ARL Statistics Program
    Dr. Peter T. Shepherd, Project Director, COUNTER
    Oliver Pesch, Chief Strategist for Electronic Resources, EBSCO Information Services
    Daviess Menefee, Director of Public Relations, Elsevier
    Todd Carpenter, Business Development Director, BioOne
    Brinley Franklin, Director of Libraries, University of Connecticut
    Joe Zucca, University of Pennsylvania Library

    The program was organized into three large segments with 2 or 3 speakers representing each:

    1. Standards
    2. Vendors
    3. Universities


    Martha Kyrillidou began by discussing what she described as a draft report, titled “Strategies for Benchmarking Usage of Electronic Resources across Publishers and Vendors.” A preprint of this white paper is available online. The paper describes the ARL E-Metrics project, describing the history of attempts to evaluate usage of networked electronic resources, then analyzes results of a surveys of ARL members compiled in 2000 and again in 2004.

    Ultimately what you want, said Kyrillidou, is not to have to deal with each vendors statistical reporting system separately, trying to combine all those numbers. She suggested three possible approaches to a solution. The first would create a combined database for sharing data across institutions, kind of a new OCLC for statistical data. In the second proposed model, multiple databases would be used, but the databases would be capable of talking to each other. In the third approach, there would be no databases at all, but rather a standard, with everyone using the same XML DTD, or some equivalent type of technology.

    Use is not everything. Focus on the user. DigiQUALâ„¢ is an attempt to focus on digital library service quality. This project is funded via the NSF and NSDL. Institutions can use DigiQUAL to create a user survey for evaluating their web sites.

    Kyrillidou’s final slide showed a dress with the text “Does this make me look fat?” written across it. Everyone wants the statistics they collect to make them look good.

    Peter Shepherd is the COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources) project director. He began by providing an update on current COUNTER activities and progress. Release 2 of the COUNTER Code of Practice for Journals and Databases was released in April, 2005.

    Dr. Shepherd provided the following principles for usage statistics:

    Usage statistics:

    • Should be practical
    • Should be reliable
    • Only tell part of the story
    • Should be used in context

    How can usage statistics help us measure success?

    Both libraries AND vendors need usages statistics.

    COUNTER Release 2 includes specifications for consortia-level reports, although only 2 of the 5 reports must be available at the consortial level.

    Dr. Shepherd put in a plug for COUNTER membership. Libraries can join for only $375/year, and consortial membership is $500.


    Oliver Pesch provided an overview of EBSCO’s statistical strategies, and their stats management interface. He made the important point that libraries need to isolate federated search sessions and searches (via IP address or by usergroup/profile) so that these are counted differently than normal searches. He illustrated how a single user search can create multiple searches across various vendor statistical reporting systems. NISO is developing a standard which will allow metasearch activity to identify itself as such to databases.

    He also suggested that we take a look at ERUS as a stats consolidator. ILS vendors often provide options as well.

    Daviess Menefree provided similar background information on Elsevier’s statistical reporting activities.

    Todd Carpenter spoke on behalf of smaller publishers. Now that BioOne allows full-text crawling of its journals by the search engines, 96% of its traffic comes from Google.


    Brinley Franklin presented a summary of three in-house university unit cost studies which analyzed all aspects of journal costs, and compared print with electronic. Typically the non-subscription costs: staffing, housing of print journals, etc. were substantially higher than the subscription costs.

    In a Drexel University study from 2002, the cost per use for print journals was $17.50, while per use costs for e-journals was a mere $1.85. A similar study in Muenster, Germany the following year had much the same results: 16.68 Euros print per unit cost, and 3.47 Euros for e-journal per unit cost. Not to mention that in both studies the e-journal use was much higher than the print use.

    A 2003 University of Virginia study calculated a cost per article downloaded of $1.64 and a per search cost of $0.52. A University of Connecticut study found per search costs of $1.15 and $1.20 in 2002 and 2003, respectively. In a CARL study, Alliance libraries realized a per search cost of $0.25.

    Unit cost data can become a very powerful tool for management and collection development decisions. One conclusion that can be easily drawn from these studies is that universities should work cooperatively to substantially reduce bound journal collections. There is no reason for every institution to house and service the same enormous backfile print collections.

    MINES (Measuring the Impact of Networked Electronic Services) provides a totally different approach to evaluating e-journal usage. MINES uses a web-based survey form and sampling plan to measure who is using which resources, from where, and for what. These brief (3 or 4 question) surveys pop up during the authentication process, and are answered by selected users before they gain access to the resource.

    E-Use Measurement: A Detour around the Publishers

    To say that Joe Zucca’s work is impressive is a major understatement. My reaction was “I want this guy doing MY stats!” Basically he and his people are bypassing vendor generated statistics entirely, and are generating incredibly granular statistics using web metrics. He showed us graphs and charts measuring usage of electronic resources by student housing locations: a “party” house vs. an academically oriented “house” or an average upper division house.

    One interesting byproduct of his statistical studies was a very high degree of correlation between checkout of print items with login access to electronic resources over time. The total numbers for e-resource use were an order of magnitude larger than the print checkout numbers, but when one went up or down, so did the other, proportionally.

    My personal conclusion: we (me, in my job as statewide database licensing project manager for the State of Washington) should be doing a lot more with usage statistics than we are.

    Radio Frequency Identification Technology in libraries: meeting with the RFID experts

    I came expecting yet-another-panel-of-experts. I left psyched up about creative uses for RFID which I hadn’t considered before. In other words, I got something new from the LITA International Relations committee sponsored discussion about RFID. Considering it was 8:30 in the godforsaken morning, that says something. I also nearly got frostbite since the Hotel Intercontinental has the coldest ballroom this side of Antarctica. Word to the wise — take a heavy sweater if you find yourself going there. My wee cardigan was no match for air-conditioning gone awry.

    The details:

    The panel was introduced by Nancy John from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Pat Harris, executive director of NISO batted lead. The big news from that corner is that NISO is sponsoring a workshop on RFID standards integration Oct.25-26 at the Texas Center for Digital Knowledge. Mark your calendars. I intend to attend if I can save my pennies. The workshop will include publishers, book sellers, librarians and industry knowledge managers. This is cool because there needs to be cooperation from stakeholders at every point in the publication cycle. Why tag your books if they can come that way from the publisher or book jobber? Speakers, agendas, sponsor information, registration and hotel information will be posted on the NISO web site after 7/15 (

    Harris began with a general introduction and overview of RFID technology which was totally appropriate for the mixed audience of RFID neophytes, nay-sayers, and veterans.
    She explained the advantages of RFID use in libraries: circulation, self-service, workflow management, security, inventory, usage, and better work place (less repetitive strain injury). She briefly touched on the privacy controversy as a disadvantage.

    NISO has been following RFID for at least 10 years and Harris says she believes RFID may be the trigger for the next round of major changes in libraries which will allow us to compete with the Barnes & Nobles of the world. There are many challenges, however, to RFID deployment at the global level due to interoperability issues. There are over 70 international standards pertaining to RFID says Harris. In order for libraries to strategically integrate RFID the profession needs to think about ways that RFID can help us manage rights expression and to gather new information on how people actually use libraries (this did get my spidey privacy senses tingling). Overall Harris says the market is maturing and librarians will need to embrace the technology as it evolves and that groups such as LITA will play a key role in determining how it plays out. Our community needs to focus on the emerging standards.

    Harris finished her presentation a little early and introduced a surprise speaker, Leif Anderson from the Danish National Library Authority. The Danes have been working on RFID in libraries for some years and have recently developed functional requirements for the use of the technology in Danish libraries. The Authority started this work by setting five objectives for RFID use:

    1 – it must support interlibrary loan
    2 – it should have a full standards-based interface to any integrated library system
    3 – It should assure reliance of information from several sources
    4 – it should use the information from current bar code systems
    5 – it should comply with existing international standards

    Based on this the Danish representatives to NISO set up a meeting and invited all printers in the Danish market to participate. They set up a working group of vendors which included 3M, Bibliotheca and several European and Danish vendors. They have been working for several years to figure out how they can meet the objectives. Their report detailing the technical specifications necessary for a vendor to meet the objectives will be released next month.

    The next speaker was Vinod Chandra, CEO of VTLS. He discussed some implementation issues a library might face after choosing RFID and provided a glimpse of future trends. He went through the typical workflow of a conversion and illustrated some operational issues that librarians might encounter during the process: incremental implementation, minimizing expenses, check station failures, gate issues and privacy concerns. If a library does implement RFID incrementally (one branch or collection at a time) then the system must continue supporting bar codes. Use volunteers or purchase pre-tagged books to minimize labor costs of converting. Use a test suite for the SIP protocol during the initial implementation to ensure that the response between readers and tags and integrated library systems can reconnect in case of power failure. Discuss privacy issues with your constituency in order to educate users and avoid problems. In the future systems will be more affordable and there will continue being multiple vendors innovating quickly. Minimize your risk of obsolescence by ensuring your equipment interoperates with other systems and has backward compatibility. Chandra says another future trend will be RFID software which is hardware independent — it can work with all tags.

    Shai Robkin of Integrated Technology Group discussed the “real world” of RFID by listing constraints to implementation — financial, physical, political, existing infrastructure, personnel — and suggesting questions librarians should ask themselves before beginning a conversion project. In the financial realm there is usually a separation between a library’s capital and operational budgets. A change in operational budgets might affect your ability to maintain RFID. In the physical realm do you have a high percentage of A/V in your collections? Metal causes interference for the radio signals and can hinder the effectiveness of your implementation. Also consider how much metal shelving you may have. In the political realm ask yourself if you have buy-in from all stake-holders. Ensure that your technical infrastructure the is capable of handling RFID. Is your integrated library system compatible with your RFID vendor? Robkin says that not all vendors implement the SIP protocol as its written. Finally, doing a conversion can be labor intensive. How will you staff it? You need to educate your staff as well as your constituents. How will you manage self-check stations? They will require some employee oversight during the first few months.

    Lynne Jacobson discussed her library’s experience by outlining their decision for changing to RFID, explaining their vendor selection process, showing a video of their automatic sorting system in action (that was pretty darn nifty), and entertaining audience questions. We learned that her library had problems initially with jewel cases breaking in the sorting bins but using a stronger brand alleviated the issue.

    The session ended with a presentation by Lawrence McCrank which rocked my socks. The man, as Michael Stephens is wont to say, “gets it.” I think he scared some of the more conservative members of the audience. Nancy John mentioned something about rabble-rousing and alternating between feeling excited and irritated by McCrank’s prophecies when she provided the post-speaker summary.

    Rather than discuss the same ol’ same ‘ol this-is-how-RFID-works-and-this-is-how-we-done-good thing he talked about how to use RFID to be user directed instead of collection centered. McCrank has used something called immersion theory to design the library of the future and it’s all about the ubiquitous computing baby. He’s creating this visionary playground at Chicago State University but he was careful to let us know that political and economic reality enforces a great deal of compromise. The real deal won’t look exactly like the dream.

    CSU is using the Pareto principle to their advantage. They have closed stacks utilizing an automated sorting and retrieval system (ASRS) where 80% of their lower circulating items reside. The 20% in more active use is retained on the shelves as a browsing collection. RFID provides a double layer of security for them because it’s used when an item leaves the retrieval system and once again when a patron checks it out.

    McCrank says that RFID can be used as an integration point in the information environment. Using a smart card to gain access to the library can help mediate copyright and intellectual property issues. The smart card can retrain an individual’s preferences to make an entirely personalized library environment. Imagine that you and your card’o’customization enter the library with a backpack full of books you’re using for a research project. The card could signal the OPAC, retrieve the MARC heading and use the LCSH headings to create a metasearch that t navigates all of the library’s A&I databases, the OPAC, and recall all the necessary physical items from the ASRS.

    I found myself intrigued despite the glaringly obvious privacy concerns with this scenario. McCrank also mentioned the possibilities of integrating course management software and e-reserves into the mix. This is consistent with the top technology trends — people aren’t going to come to the library web site to retrieve things, we’ll need to push content out where its needed.

    Ultimately McCrank was not dismissive of the privacy issues but that is a sociopolitical issue which requires sociopolitical solutions. He asked the audience to deeply consider that the benefits of RFID may outweigh the drawbacks. Given that RFID will be included on everything from refrigerators and passports there may be bigger things to worry about than tracking books.

    I’m still not convinced that the benefits will override the potential erosion of my civil liberties but McCrank made an appealing pitch by shifting the focus of RFID in libraries from collections to users. I do agree with McCrank when he says that in order to remain relevant librarians will have to accept that ubiquitous computing will be part and parcel of our environment. We need to come up with intelligent solutions to the problems so we can derive the advantages of RFID.

    After an audience Q&A Nancy John summarized what the speakers said. In short: we learned about how RFID is used, the concerns, and the need for interoperability. Our colleagues in Europe are doing excellent work. We got practical answers to thorny questions about work flows and conversion. The real world does differ from the potential we see. We have lots of possibilities to consider but librarians are thoughtful in how they select RFID systems and will continue to keep alive the dialog about abuses.