NISO Forum – Trends and Thoughts

Earlier this month, I went to the NISO Forum on library resource management systems, which was conveniently located right here in the Financial District of Boston.  The program was fantastic, and the presentations are now available and well worth a look, even in slide format.

A number of words, themes, and ideas resonated throughout the two-day program:

  • Agility: The real-time web is here. Terabytes are here. E-books are here. What are we going to do and and can we do it fast enough?
  • Collaboration: Dare I say, 2.0?  Not the traditional library consortium, but ad-hoc, dynamic, and extending beyond libraries to the broader research and education communities. Data curation, network-level services, putting the library where the user is – all these require collaboration beyond the traditional scope of library consortia or collaboratives.
  • Context: Lorcan Dempsey has a wonderful graphic, used by Rachel Bruce of JISC in her presentation and included in a blog post by Dempsey about the forum, that gets at the importance of context, and Kevin Kidd describes work that Boston College is undertaking in this area.  It is no longer enough for the library to operate in the library environment; we must be present and relevant in the library users’ workflows elsewhere: in the open web, in institutional systems, in the personal tools researchers use in their daily lives.  This requires reconsidering and rethinking what it means to be committed to privacy. How can we collect, aggregate, and use user data to provide services that are quickly becoming essential to our users, while still respecting and guarding privacy? Is it possible?
  • Network level: “work at the network level as far as possible” (Bruce), “working at the highest appropriate level” (Kyle Banerjee, speaking about large consortial system implementation of resource sharing and delivery), “cloud library as a shared network resource” (Kat Hagedorn, speaking about Hathi Trust’s cloud library project)
  • Open source: Experimentation and adoption for both small and large systems and services, from the consortial implementation of Evergreen discussed by Grace Liu to the Annette Bailey’s experience using open source to develop tools that work with vended systems.

(Heh, I didn’t intentionally put those in alphabetical order!)

My head was really spinning by the end, and I haven’t even mentioned all the sessions here.  Follow the link through to see Oren Beit-Arie’s keynote, Judi Briden’s presentation about the latest anthropological research at U of Rochester, and more.

Twitter – what’s the fuss?

I set up a Twitter account almost two years ago and then promptly let it languish.  Until this week I had tweeted a grand total of maybe five times.  I wasn’t sure why I needed it, and since hardly anyone followed me, I felt like I was talking to myself when I posted.

But Twitter has been in the news quite a lot the last the couple months: on librar* blogs, in tech media, and even in the NY Times. Two articles in particular convinced me to give Twitter another try.

The first is Twitter: Why You Should Care by Randy Cassingham of This is True, whose hook is, “This is the secret to making Twitter really useful: No one cares what it is you’re doing.”  That got to the crux of the matter for me: while it’s interesting to see one update a day or so from friends on Facebook, getting dozens of what-i’m-doing-right-now postings per day just didn’t capture my imagination, and posting them seemed narcissistic to boot.

The second article is a recent column by David Pogue of the New York Times, Twitter Is What You Make It, in which he recounts his former ambivalence toward Twitter, his foray into the service, and the results of his “Twitter for beginners” Google search, and concludes – well, you can probably guess.

So I decided to start tweeting again, and it does feel more useful to me this time. For one thing, there are a lot more people – even libraries and organizations – using Twitter; it’s a source of interesting links, ideas, and tidbits of information. For another, I used to post more library-oriented Facebook updates.  Now that a much higher percentage of my Facebook friends are from other parts of my life, I’m using that service a little  differently. I’m experimenting with Twitter as a primarily professional tool for posting quick thoughts and links of interest.

To get started with Twitter you’ll want to set up an account on the site, but one of the notable facts about it is that a large percentage of users do not post or read tweets via Twitter’s website, but through third-party tools and browser extensions.  This could be because the site is kind of clunky and unintuitive (another reason I didn’t really get into it in the past), but it is also due to the real-time, always-in-the-background way that people use the service. At a recent NEASIST meetup about Twitter (aka “tweet up”), attendees shared tips and tools they are using, among a lot of other interesting discussion.  The following desktop tools and iPhone apps are the most popular among folks I’m following:

After you set up an account, with or without additional tools, you’ll probably want to follow other users.   Once you find a couple interesting people to follow, you can find more by checking out who they follow, and so on. You might find these directories of librar* Twitter users helpful:

Oh, and if you want to follow me, I’m acbtanya.

On joining the conversation again

I’m not much of a joiner.  I don’t like bandwagons and I am highly suspicious of fanaticism.  I was a late supporter of Obama – excuse me, President Obama! – for this reason: so many people were so into him.  For similar reasons, it took me a while to figure out that I really liked Ray LaMontagne’s music, and I felt very, very uncomfortable with the crowd when I saw him perform live.

When I was doing software implementation, my professional focus became rather more narrow than it had been previously.  I found myself with little time or inclination to read a lot of blogs, and because I was no longer in an academic library, I could no longer easily take advantage of free-to-me library lit, which I used to peruse occasionally.  I kept up with a few favorite blogs (T. Scott and Free Range Librarian, notably) and got my own subscription to Against the Grain, but that was about it.

Now that I’m back in an academic setting, I am trying to broaden my horizons once more, and the tenor of librar* blogging seems to have changed over the past two years. I’ve resubscribed to a number of blogs I had dropped and added some new favorites (Pegasus Librarian), but the overall pace of blogging seems to have slowed quite a bit and given way to new media such as Twitter, tools like FriendFeed, which aggregates a person’s online presence and provides for conversation on the site itself, and other forums.

The possible level of participation is much higher, the time delay sometimes nil.  To participate, though, in many cases means joining: making a declaration that you are part of the group.  It’s much different from subscribing to a blog feed and making a comment once in a while.  I’ve dipped my toe in the water by joining the Library Society of the World FriendFeed room, but not the LinkedIn group. I’m not sure why this should be an issue for me, but it is.*  By the same token, I’m sure I’ll join in more, because I’m too interested in what’s happening, in the things being said and the ideas being discussed, not to be there in some capacity.


*Facebook doesn’t present this problem – at all, even Groups. I could write a separate post about why that is.


I think I first read about Twitter on Creating Passionate Users, but soon thereafter it started popping up on a lot of library blogs I read.  I didn’t want to get crushed in the stampede, so I waited out the buzz until this weekend when I got talking about it with a friend and decided to set up an account.  If you’re interested, you can find me at acbtanya, but be forewarned: I have no idea how or how often I’ll use it.

Ingenta Shares Holdings with Google Scholar

This little note was squeezed into the middle of an All My Eye entry about Ingenta at the Frankfurt Book Fair:

We’ve been working closely with Google for over 2 years now, and the latest development is that we will be making our library holdings data available to Google Scholar’s Library Links program.

The full press release is dated September 25 and I’m surprised I haven’t heard about it before today.

So scholars within an institution’s IP range (on campus or using proxied Scholar links) will get appropriate copy links to Ingenta content without an intermediate OpenURL layer; Ingenta presumably gets its contented highlighted in some way; and Google gets data about library holdings, which it may already have in the case of libraries who participate in the Library Links program. The downside is that the scholar may have no idea why he or she is entitled to the full text, unless the library ponies up for IngentaConnect Premium, which adds branding to the Ingenta site.

It is unclear to me what the user will see for content the library doesn’t license and how the distinction will be made. All in all, an interesting development and one to watch.