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.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Microsoft Ends Book Scanning Project

Last week Microsoft announced that it was "winding down" its Live Book Search and Academic Search, the MS answer to Google Books and Scholar. Microsoft says that to date those projects have scanned 750,000 books and indexed 80 million articles.

Here is an interesting quote from the official Live Search blog:

Given the evolution of the Web and our strategy, we believe the next generation of search is about the development of an underlying, sustainable business model for the search engine, consumer, and content partner. For example, this past Wednesday we announced our strategy to focus on verticals with high commercial intent, such as travel, and offer users cash back on their purchases from our advertisers. [. . .] Based on our experience, we foresee that the best way for a search engine to make book content available will be by crawling content repositories created by book publishers and libraries.
It sounds to me like they didn't think they were going to make enough money to justify the expense and they figure that if they wait others will pay to scan the material. Of course Live Search as always struggled to compete with Google and Google's lead in providing access to print material surely is another factor. One wonders how the failed(?) negotiations with Yahoo! may have factored into this decision and if it is part of a larger shift in Microsoft's web strategy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

OCLC and China

I just became aware that the National Library of China has agreed to add bibliographic records into OCLC. 1.5 million records are expected to be added this year. You can read more in this OCLC press release.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Publishers on Copyright

This short article on the May 2008 copyright conference in Manhatten appeared on the Publisher's Weekly web site.

It gives a glimpse into the ongoing (at times heated) debate about the ongoing role of copyright. Is it an important tool to ensure a profit motive for artists and their publishers or is it an unhelpful device that prevents the spread of ideas and unduly limits exposure of creative material.

It is easy for librarians to be caught in the middle on this one. I think many of us are worried about overly restrictive copyright interpretations that challenge the very core of what we do (provide free information to others). However, if all information was freely available, say on the computer network you are currently reading, then that also promises to challenge our position as information mediators. Interesting times...

On other quick observation the article raises the question of the relative merit of electronic vs print information when reviewing Rowling's suit against the Harry Potter Lexicon. It notes that Rowling apparently was ok with an online lexicon but is opposed to the print manifestation and asks why the print is more onerous then electronic copy. I had not seen this issue framed this way and thought it was intriguing.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Data warehouses

There is an article in the May 9 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education that discussed the possibility of schools having huge databases of student information. Florida has assembled such a database, which allows them to track students from "kindergarten through graduate school and beyond." They said this kind of information can be very useful for assessment and research. They can do studies to see if their education is having positive effects.

But of course their are concerns about privacy. There is concern that it could violate FERPA laws. And a security breach into the system could be a major problem. Research studies must be careful as well. Even if personal information has been removed, if they are looking at a small group (say a class with a few students) it could reveal too much.

The article also mentioned that there have been several news reports lately on "fusion centers" at law-enforcement agencies that can quickly pull up personal information on anyone.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Has anyone heard about LinkedIn? They were also talking about it at LOEX, saying it's the Facebook for adults. They said to recommend students get on it to develop professional contacts for when they graduate.


At LOEX, I learned about a new tool called Diigo ( It is similar to, but it allows users to add notes, bookmark and highlight. You can also send messages from it sharing links in Facebook, blogs, or twitter. They were recommending using it for research guides. This would allow students to personalize them. And librarians or faculty could add notes for specific classes.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Flickr now has video!

Just when our library was finally starting to use Flickr for still photographs they introduce Flickr video. They only allow 90 second clips however so not directly going after YouTube.