Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The ultimate survey(?)

Since survey talk is in the air here at Rolfing, I thought I'd post a link to this OCLC newsletter article on the ultimate survey question.

The question is described this way in the article:
Using the phone, the mail or the Internet, organizations send out a one-question survey that asks: On a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague? Promoters score a nine or 10 and are loyal enthusiasts who keep buying from a company and urge their friends to do the same. Passives receive seven or eights and are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who can be easily wooed by the competition. Detractors are the rest: unhappy customers who feel ignored or mistreated and plot to get even. The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from promoters.
The question comes from the book - "The Ultimate Question"


Monday, January 29, 2007

Top-ten Library 2.0 "No-brainers"

I saw this article listing 10 things any library could (should?) be doing with library 2.0. Although it's aimed at public libraries, I thought most of the items could apply to an academic library as well. Some of the ideas include having RSS feeds for news, adding to Firefox for public computers, a wiki or Google docs for staff information sharing, using Flickr to post pictures of the library.

My Top-ten Library 2.0 "No-brainers" for Public Libraries

Google Books and Google Maps

It is interesting to think of the things you can do if instead of a bibliographic record containing metadata about an information resource, it actually contains all the contents of the information resource.

One thing Google is now doing with its expanding collection of scanned books is creating maps on the search result page that highlight all the locations mentioned in the book. See the bottom of this page for an example. As Lorcan Dempsey points out this system is far from infallible (for example giving a map of St. Augustine, Florida when the book references the Bishop of Hippo not the city named after him). However, when it works it could be a very helpful way to evaluate the book.

Notice each marker on the New York map in the linked example contains the context from the book where the location was mentioned. I'm guessing this is only the beginning of creative uses of the scanned data. Has anyone actually found features like this in Google books or similar collections helpful?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

R does not stand for Radical

Just read and would reccomend Karen Coyle and Diane Hillmann's article "Resource Description and Access (RDA) : Cataloging Rules for the 20th Century" at D-Lib Magazine.

This article provides a helpful history of cataloging standards in the US. It argues that those standards (including MARC) were driven by the need of physical card catalogs and that a radical revision in those standards is necessary if library catalogs (and by extension libraries) are going to have a place in the digital present. Unfortunately in the authors view RDA (the proposed name for the next edition of the rules) does not adequately address this problem. They suggest that even LC lacks confidence in RDA and thus has launched its new working group on the future of cataloging.

My take aways from the article are:
1. We need to understand our past, in part so we can understand how it limits us.

2. As catalogers we need a much better understanding of what computers can do with data and how to create computer friendly data.

3. We need to figure out why exactly we have a local catalog. We also need to do a better job of leveraging networked bibliographic data.

4. The article also speculates that the libraries (esp. catalogers) will do less with published material in the future and instead focus on local, unique, unpublished research material.

5. Finally it argues, and I tend to agree, that we don't have time for gradual change (and RDA is an example of gradual change). Rather if libraries have a future they have to act soon and decisively to carve out that future.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Steering Committee Members

The members of the inaugural Information and the Future Task Force Steering Committee are...

Matt Ostercamp (Chair)
Rebecca Miller
Everett Meadors
Marie Hay
Cindee Phillips

Thanks to one and all for being willing to participate! An agenda for our first meeting will be posted soon.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Chronicle of Higher Education - Information Technology

The January 5th edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education had an interesting section on Managing Technology. There was one article called "The Library as Search Engine" which also focused on Google Book Search. But I found the references to libraries in other articles the most interesting.

For example, here's an excerpt from a student panel:
Question: How often do you go to a library, and what do you do there?....
Sarah: My dad is still into the whole book thing. He has not realized that the Internet kind of took the place of that. So we go to the library almost every Sunday. I actually have a library card, but I have not rented a book for a long time, but I go to our school's library a lot because they have most of the course books...
Deanna: As far as using library for research, I do most of my research online with online libraries, but last time I went to the library it was probably three months ago. And I usually only go there to get books for pleasure, not for school.
Ashley: I actually have several late fees on my library card right now. It is kind of deterring me away from the library....
"How the New Generation of Well-Wired Multitaskers is Changing Campus Culture." The Chronicle of Higher Education. 5 Jan. 2007: B10.

And from an article about e-learning:
"Ten days ago, I facilitated a round table of librarians, and listening to them made me realize how much their world has changed. Libraries do not own the data anymore; they are becoming just access points to information. One of the most effective uses of technology, particularly at middle-range institutions that do not have a lot of money, is something people call "bricks and clicks" - hybrid courses that meet, say, two days a week on the Web. Those librarians were reporting that the library was becoming the place for the click part of the course, and they were setting up the equipment there. "How do you have the room?" I asked, and they responded, "We don't have books anymore."
This is what the revolution could look like. Libraries have the most amazing real estate on any campus. If you believe that real estate is location, location, location, librarians have got it. They are sending their books into retrievable storage, and they have lots of learning space. Campus libraries are learning labs, and through them, we can give students access to the full range of technology-enriched learning....
"E-Learning: Successes and Failures." The Chronicle of Higher Education. 5 Jan. 2007: B10.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Think you could study at MIT?

Mass. Institute of Technology has launched MIT OpenCourseWare which is a initiative to post content from all their courses online. From what I saw some courses have only a syllabus and bibliography posted while others have lecture notes in .pdf form and some have audio and video of lectures.

Having taught a college course I think looking at the texts and assignments from MIT is very interesting. Apparently one of their prime objectives is to allow people to study on their own (although they offer no credit or faculty support). It also seems like a potential tool to recruit students - by showing off the courses that you offer. Check it out.

Friday, January 05, 2007


While libraries talked about implementing the Netflix model for books - someone else went and did it. See:

This website will send you books off a list just like Netflix does with movies. On the bottom of the web page they ask libraries to contact them to discuss ways Bookswim can partner with libraries. I'm not clear how they can compete with traditional ILL although they could possibly give libraries a chance to outsource ILL. Should be interesting to see what happens.

I would also not be surprised to see them partner with TheLibraryThing. I can imagine a scenario where you discover books on TheLibraryThing and then click a link to add them to you bookswim list. You could also possibly manage you bookswim list on library thing and take advantage of the reviews, tags, cover art, etc. that library thing offers.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Improving IFTF

Information and the Future Task Force

Meeting Minutes 1/4/2007

Matt Ostercamp convened the meeting to introduce a new simplified vision statement for IFTF and present a new structure for the Task Force.

1. The new vision statement is: "To ask what if?" To learn about and reflect on emerging trends that may impact Rolfing Library.

The hope is that this vision statement will clear up confusion about why IFTF exists and narrow the task force's scope. It was emphasized that IFTF does not exist to create or change library policy but rather to learn about new ideas that can be shared with others on staff. Library policy should be created or changed in departmental or staff meetings. There was also discussion about if and how IFTF will interact with other TIU departments. There was concern that IFTF would be seen as an official representative of the library. It was agreed that if and when IFTF talks with others on campus we should avoid discussing library policy but rather focus on learning about new and potential campus initiatives in keeping with our purpose to learn about trends that impact the library.

2. Matt also explained that he would be creating a 3 to 6 person steering committee within IFTF to help plan and lead the full IFTF meetings. Full IFTF meetings would switch from monthly to every other month.

The reasons for making this switch included: A) To give people options in how much they want to participate in IFTF. B) Increase the amount of conversation and member contribution within IFTF. C) Make IFTF meetings more informative and productive. D) Share in the planning for IFTF.

More details on both of these points are available to Rolfing employees at:
f:\DATA\Tech Services\Administration\IF task force\IF Jan 2007.doc

Matt invited members interested in joining the steering committee to let him know by Jan. 12, 2007.

The next full IFTF meeting will be in March.