E-LIS E-Prints for Library & Info Science

I had heard of E-LIS but forgot about it. From the site:

E-LIS relies on the voluntary work of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and is non-commercial. It is not a funded project of an organization. It is community-owned and community-driven. We serve LIS researchers by facilitating their self-archiving, ensuring the long-term preservation of their documents and by providing word-wide easy access to their papers.

If you publish, consider putting a copy of your pre-print (or post-print) into E-LIS so that everyone can have access.

Days 3 and 4: Sunny and Sixty

The Riverwalk was absolutely hopping Thursday night compared to the rest of the week! It finally warmed up and dried out (coincidentally on the day we got out early for lunch) and it was still warm enough to eat outside in the evening. Earlier in the day I visited the Alamo, which has very pleasant grounds for a stroll, and learned something about Texas history.

Not that I missed out on all the good stuff! The conference sessions were very research oriented and a lot of the content was, frankly, over my head. Several presentations were by PhD students in Computer Science and several more were by folks best described as “researchers” rather than practicing librarians, programmers, etc. I left with an understanding of what their projects are meant to do–in most cases!–but not exactly how they work.

For example, a method for web archiving for preservation was presented (mod_oai info), as was a tool that operates as a recommendation and migration service for digital preservation (CRiB info). You put in information about what you’re preserving, it tells you a range of options based on how you weight certain criteria. It also evaluates your original and migrated objects for any differences between the two. (I’m sure I’m grossly oversimplifying.)

That session got me thinking that preservation was largely absent as a topic at the conference. That’s fine, but that in turn got me thinking that while an open source system may be an important component of preservation (if you’re trying to keep something usable for many years, it may not make much sense to embed it in a proprietary system), you can’t assume that just because a system is open source it is therefore a good preservation tool.

One of the final sessions, on Friday, included a presentation on adapting FRBR for repository metadata. The adapted model uses terms like “scholarly work” in place of “work” and “copy” in place of “item,” which I particularly like since many copies are not, in fact, physical items.

It was interesting to hear someone outside the serials/cataloging community describe the FRBR model. Seeing the adapted model helped me understand the difference between expression and manifestation better. The speakers I’ve heard tend to say things like, “An expression is, you know, an expression of a work.”

Day 2: No Lines at the Bathroom

Quick facts about Open Repositories: there are about 350 people here, but no lines at the women’s bathrooms; many PowerBooks are in attendance; use of PowerPoint is considerably above average; number of cell phones ringing during presentations is considerably below average; and “continuous partial attention” is highly evident in the presentation rooms, where there is free wireless.

Yesterday morning brought the last of the user group sessions. I went to some talks about DSpace, including one about a study done at Cornell to evaluate participation and growth of their DSpace implementation and to determine why scholars do not use it. Based on comments made after the presentation, the study confimed previous findings and experience at other institutions.

One big concern was the practice (now maybe less widespread?) of institutions populating a new DSpace installation with communities, even if there are no documents associated with it. Consensus is that this is not good marketing and makes for poor end-user experience. It’s kind of like social networking sites: if lots of people are using one, more people want to join; if no one’s using it, it’s must be uncool, a bad idea, etc.

Later in the day, James Hilton, the CIO at University of Virginia, gave the first keynote address. Hilton is a dynamic speaker; he used to be a professor of psychology (not sure if he still teaches at all), and he must be very engaging in the classroom. He related his favorite feedback that he ever received from a student: “Breathe occasionally.” Hilton discussed the pros and cons of using open source software and dwelt on the idea of inter-institutional collaboration in developing new applications and tools. He talked about what collaboration means and contrasted it with cooperation. Collaboration involves shared purpose and vision, while cooperation can be as simple as not actively harming the other party.

Hilton digressed (his word) into the danger of the “pure property” concept of ideas and how it may paralyze and cripple creative and intellectual development in the future. Rules about what can be copyrighted and patented are expanding and threaten what the university is all about.

Hilton was a great after-lunch speaker–I definitely recommend you take the opportunity to hear him if it comes along.

Day 1: Commotion at the Menger

I came back from dinner tonight to find a large fire truck, ambulance, and police car pulled up in front of my hotel. My first thought after, “Oh no, my Mac!” was that if something involving fire trucks happens at the Menger, they can just blame it on the ghosts and be done with it, without any negative impact on business. I haven’t seen any ghosts yet myself, although the water did sputter a lot when I first turned the tap on. In any case, as you may have surmised, the hotel was not, in fact, on fire and my Mac is fine.

The Open Repositories sessions have so far been pretty interesting. Since Binghamton doesn’t actually have a repository, I was hoping concerned that the user group sessions, which comprise the first day of the conference, might be over my head so I could go to La Villita. Some of the details in the presentations were pretty specific, but one theme has quickly emerged: taking repositories beyond being, well, repositories and developing them to actively support the research process and provide an interactive and social environment.

Examples:

  • The National Science Digital Library’s Fedora platform works with WordPress, MediaWiki, and Connotea to create a “living library” for science, technology, engineering, and math.
  • The eSciDoc project of the Max Planck Society and FIZ Karlsruhe supports collaborative authoring.
  • Rice University has adapted DSpace for its digitized collections, as well as using it for “born-digital” stuff, so they can provide unified access to various types of digital materials. See their digital collections.
  • Coming up tomorrow Georgia Tech will discuss its new services that are associated with DSpace; you can read about it today at DLib.