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.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Changing Classroom

With our faster internet, I was watching a YouTube video posted on the ACRLog on the changing classroom:
Near the end, it said "we are currently preparing students for jobs that don't exist yet, using technologies that haven't been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet."

I was thinking about it in relation to some of our discussions about whether or not we should be meeting students where they're at. It seems like one of the most important abilities they will need in their futures is a knowledge of how to deal with a changing world of technology. And that will maybe require teaching them different things than we have taught them in the past. Of course, it can be challenging to figure out exactly what those things are, since we don't know exactly what the future will look like! But it seems like flexibility, ingenuity, and being able to figure things out on their own will be important. Although those are hard qualities to necessarily teach...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Minutes 3/29/07

I just posted the minutes for our meeting today on the wiki:

It was so quick and easy! Lovely...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Searching TOC information

I was at a CARLI cataloging meeting yesterday where we discussed many things including adding table of contents (TOC) information to bibliographic records. The Library of Congress has been working with publisher to add URLs to bib records that link to TOC information, publisher summaries of the book, and brief author biographies. While this is helpful information if a patron chooses to click on the links this information is not included in keyword searching because only the link is part of the bib record.

Librarians of course would like TOC information to be included in keyword searching. It seems to me that it should be possible to harvest key terms from these LC web pages and incorporate them into OPAC searching. A first step might we using a tool like Google's Custom Search Engine to index the LC TOC pages. If we can abstract all the LC links from are catalog we should be able to give patrons the option of searching within those pages if we would want. But the real hurdle is adding that information back into the catalog so it can be used by when searching in the OPAC. Not sure it will work in a proprietary ILS but doesn't seem impossible to me. A meta search engine might be a provisional next step. I'll keep thinking about it...

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Monday, March 19, 2007

ILS News, Google etc.

Here are a few random things I've wanted to post about but haven't
  • It's not really news anymore but Sirsi/Dynix (the largest ILS vendor) has announced that is is not going to release upgrades for its two ILSs (Unicorn and Horizon) but instead is unveiling a new technology platform named Rome. If you are interested in staying current in the ever changing world of library automation vendors I highly recommend Andrew Pace's blog Hectic Pace. Mr. Pace (Andrew?) works at NC State and is a columnist for American Libraries.
  • Google has created a book bar API that allows you to add book images from Google Books to your website. I haven't spent a lot of time with this but it looks like it will create a pretty clean and dynamic virtual book displays that we should be able to incorporate into library sites.
  • Speaking of Google (2) there was an interesting article in this month's Atlantic about online translation services of which Google is now one of the leaders. Apparently translation is increasing being done by doing mathematical analysis of existing works in translation with very little knowledge of the actual languages. Personally, I'm continually amazed at what can be accomplished by high powered mathematical analysis. I think that as librarians we have not really tapped the power mathematics but also wonder about a world where number crunching becomes increasingly central.
  • Speaking of Googe (3) you may want to check out Casey Bisson's short take on the Google economy and how it changes the way we think about information.
  • In other news, former Head of Technical Services at Rolfing, Blake Walters, now has his own library blog.
  • Finally, I don't know if electric paper is actually doable but the concept is fascinating.

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Ideas from American Libraries

I was reading the March issue of American Libraries, and came across these interesting ideas:

Leslie Burger, the ALA president, thinks librarians should get more involved in Yahoo Answers, which allows people to post questions and anyone to answer.

Librarians are getting involved in Second Life, a virtual-reality web site. They have created an island called Info Island.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Minutes 3/15/07

The minutes for the steering committee meeting on 3/15/07 are now available on the wiki:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Code4Lib Keynote Address

K.G. Schneider's identified those 5 things as issues librarians can address in her Code4Lib conference keynote address. You can find the powerpoint presentation here.

Following a 5-3-1 rule she eventually focuses in on the need for librarians to develop their own software (perhaps not surprisingly at a Code4Lib event) and praises the Evergreen ILS project. Claiming we need to downplay the "opensource" aspect of Evergreen and instead focus on it being good software. It suddenly seems as if discussion of open source ILSs are everywhere and will be interesting to see where all of this leads.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

The problem with blogs

This blog post (ironically!) discusses some of the problems with the blogosphere, including some that we've talked about, such as things being ranked by popularity and teaching people to think critically about what they find:

NextGen Serials?

At WALE 2006 Margi Mann gave a presentation on the future of Tech. Services. She suggested at the end of the presentation that suggested that one model for the future of TS was an "atomic" model where TS used software from different vendors to perform different functions. Thinking about this and emerging web technologies, I started brainstorm on the future of serials...

I can imagine that a serials vendor (I'll assume EBSCO is the vendor but it wouldn't have to be) could build in a serials check-in component to their current online serials subscription management site (EBSCOnet for example). Then they could start collecting real time data on when specific issues were being checked in around the country. If this data was made available to local librarians it would greatly help with claiming. By using the data from hundreds of libraries much of the guess work of setting up prediction patterns could be removed. Since this system is already integrated within EBSCO claiming and tracking claims could also be simplified. Libraries could also easily share patterns or post special notes about individual titles. In other words EBSCO could collect and profit off the data that librarians are already generating in their local systems and librarians would benefit from having access in one place to data they now have to go searching for such as which libraries have checked in a specific journal.

As far as integrating with the OPAC for each subscription EBSCO could provide a feed that would be connected to the bib. record. When a patron accessed that record the feed would show them real time holdings. The same technology could be used to push holding info into WorldCat (or electronic journal web pages or wherever someone would want to display holdings info). The information in EBSCOnet already duplicates the payment and order history that we load into our current system.

If something like this emerged I think it would be a more significant leveraging of Web2.0 technology then much of what we currently see in libraries. It matches up nicely with Tim O'Reilly's core competencies of Web2.0 companies:
  • Services not packaged software
  • Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
  • Trusting users as co-developers (minimally checking in issues and building the receipt database)
  • Leveraging the long tail through customer self service (since the data is maintained by hundreds of librarians data could be gathered on even obscure titles)
  • Software above the level of a single device
  • And possibly lightweight user interface and develoment models.