Monday, July 31, 2006

Frederick G. Kilgour 1914-2006

We just heard that Fred Kilgour, OCLC's founder, has died at 92. He gave a lecture at OCLC sometime in the past couple of years and his mind was still sharp and his manner still feisty.

Here are the official words.

Frederick G. Kilgour, a librarian and educator who created an international computer library network and database that changed the way people use libraries, died on July 31, 2006. He was 92 years old and had lived since 1990 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Kilgour is widely recognized as one of the leading figures in 20th century librarianship for his work in using computer networks to increase access to information in libraries around the world. He was among the earliest proponents of adapting computer technology to library processes. At the dawn of library automation in the early 1970’s, he founded OCLC Online Computer Library Center and led the creation of a library network that today links 55,000 institutions in 110 countries.

Kilgour had been an academic librarian and historian of science and technology at Harvard and Yale for 30 years when the Ohio College Association hired him in 1967 to establish the world’s first computerized library network, the Ohio College Library Center, on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus. Under Kilgour’s leadership, the nonprofit corporation introduced a shared cataloging system in 1971 for 54 Ohio academic libraries.

At the time, most libraries maintained card catalogs as guides to their collections, and librarians would type individual cards for each item, which was labor-intensive, expensive and involved a great deal of duplicate effort.

The shared cataloging system and database that Kilgour devised made it unnecessary for more than one library to originally catalog an item. Libraries would either use the cataloging information that already existed in the database, or they would put it in for other libraries to use. The shared catalog also provided information about materials in libraries in the rest of the network. For the first time, a user in one library could easily find out what was held in another library. The network quickly grew outside Ohio to all 50 states and then internationally.

The database that Kilgour created, now called WorldCat, is regarded as the world’s largest computerized library catalog, including not only entries from large institutions such as the Library of Congress, the British Library, the Russian State Library and Singapore, but also from small public libraries, art museums and historical societies. It contains descriptions of library materials and their locations. More recently, the database provides access to the electronic full text of articles, books as well as images and sound recordings. It spans 4,000 years of recorded knowledge. It contains more than 70 million records and one billion location listings. Every 10 seconds a library adds a new record. It is available on the World Wide Web.

Thanks to Kilgour, WorldCat connects libraries of all types and sizes, from giant research libraries to small public libraries around the world. It enables people to have access to library collections irrespective of where they are located.

Frederick Gridley Kilgour was born in Springfield, Mass. on Jan. 6, 1914, to Edward Francis and Lillian Piper Kilgour. He worked his way through Harvard College. Upon graduating in 1935, he took a job as assistant to the director of Harvard University Library.

While there, he began experimenting in automating library procedures, primarily the use of punched cards for a circulation system. He also studied under George Sarton, a pioneer in the new discipline of the history of science, and began publishing scholarly papers. He also launched a project to build a collection of microfilmed foreign newspapers to help scholars have access to newspapers from abroad. This activity quickly came to the attention of government officials in Washington, D.C.

In 1942 to 1945, Kilgour served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was Executive Secretary and Acting Chairman of the U.S. government’s Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications (IDC), which developed a system for obtaining publications from enemy and enemy-occupied areas. This organization of 150 persons in outposts around the world microfilmed newspapers and other printed information items and sent them back to Washington, DC.

An example of the kind of intelligence gathered was the Japanese “News for Sailors” reports that listed new mine fields. These reports were sent from Washington, D.C. directly to Pearl Harbor and U.S. submarines in the Western Pacific. Kilgour received the Legion of Merit for his intelligence work in 1945.

From 1946 to 1948, Kilgour served as deputy director in the Office of Intelligence Collection and Dissemination in the Department of State.

In 1948, he was named Librarian of the Yale Medical Library. At Yale he was also a lecturer in the history of science and technology and published many scholarly articles on those topics.
While running the Yale Medical Library, Kilgour began publishing studies and articles on library use and effectiveness. He asked his staff to collect empirical data, such as use of books and journals by categories of borrowers to guide selection and retention of titles. He viewed the library “not merely as a depository of knowledge,” but as “an instrument of education.”

In 1961, he was one of the leaders in the development of a prototype computerized library catalog system for the medical libraries at Columbia, Harvard and Yale Universities that was funded by the National Science Foundation. In 1965, Kilgour was named associate librarian for research and development at Yale University. He continued to conduct experiments in library automation and to promote their potential benefits in the professional literature.

In his professional writings, Kilgour was one of the earliest proponents of applying computerization to librarianship. He pointed out that the explosion of research information was placing new demands on libraries to furnish information completely and rapidly. He advocated the use of the computer to eliminate human repetitive tasks from library procedures, such as catalog card production. He recognized nearly 40 years ago the potential of linking libraries in computer networks to create economies of scale and generate “network effects” that would increase the value of the network as more participants were added.

In 1967, the Ohio College Association (a group comprising the presidents of Ohio’s colleges and universities) hired Kilgour to lead a nonprofit corporation, the Ohio College Library Center (OCLC), in the development of a computerized library system for the academic libraries in the state. In 1971, after four years of development, OCLC introduced its online shared cataloging system, which would achieve dramatic cost savings for libraries. For example, in the first year of system use, the Alden Library at Ohio University was able to increase the number of books it cataloged by a third, while it reducing its staff by 17 positions. Word of this new idea spread on campuses across the country, starting an online revolution in libraries that continues to this day.
Kilgour was president of OCLC from 1967 to 1980, presiding over its rapid growth from an intrastate network to an international network. In addition to creating the WorldCat database, he developed an online interlibrary loan system that last year libraries used to arrange nearly 10 million loans. Today, OCLC has a staff of 1,200 and offices in seven countries. Its mission remains the same: to further access to the world’s information and reduce library costs.
In 1981 he stepped down from management but continued to serve on the OCLC Board of Trustees until 1995.

In 1990, he was named Distinguished Research Professor of the School of Information and Library Science, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served on the faculty until his retirement in 2004.

Kilgour was the author of 205 scholarly papers. He was the founder and first editor of the journal, Information Technology and Libraries. In 1999, Oxford University Press published his book, The Evolution of the Book. His other books include: Engineering in History; The Library of the Medical Institution of Yale College and its Catalogue of 1865; and the Library and Information Science CumIndex.

He received numerous awards from library associations and five honorary doctorates.
In 1982, the American Library Association presented him with Honorary Life Membership. The citation read:

In recognition of his successful pioneering efforts to master technology in the service of librarianship; the acuity of his vision that helped to introduce the most modern and powerful technologies into the practice of librarianship; the establishment and development of a practical vehicle for making the benefits of technology readily available to thousands of libraries; his long and distinguished career as a practicing librarian; his voluminous, scholarly and prophetic writings; and above all his fostering the means for ensuring the economic viability of libraries, the American Library Association hereby cites Frederick Gridley Kilgour as scholar, entrepreneur, innovator, and interpreter of technology steadfastly committed to the preservation of humanistic values.

In 1979, the American Society for Information Science and Technology gave him the Award of Merit. The citation read:

Presented to Frederick G. Kilgour, in recognition of his leadership in the field of library automation: As Executive Director of OCLC since 1967, he has succeeded in changing the conception of what is feasible in library automation and library networking. His major technological developments, superb planning and executive abilities, deep insight into bibliographic and information needs, and unfaltering leadership have transformed a state association of libraries in a national interlibrary bibliographic utility.

OCLC has proved the feasibility of nationwide sharing of catalog-record creation and has helped libraries to maintain and to enhance the quality and speed of service while achieving cost control—and even cost reduction—in the face of severely reduced funding. This achievement may be the single greatest contribution to national networking in the United States. His work will have a lasting impact on the field of information science.

In 1940, he married Eleanor Margaret Beach, who had graduated from Mt. Holyoke and taken a job at the Harvard College Library, where they met. He is survived by his wife and their daughters, Martha Kilgour and Alison Kilgour of New York City, and Meredith Kilgour Perdiew of North Edison, New Jersey; and two grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Friday, July 28, 2006

DOPA - Opiate for the Uninformed

Aptly acronymed bill DOPA passed the US House of Representatives yesterday with a vote of 410-15. What a disaster. If you've forgotten what this legislation proposed..."To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms."

Here's how "social networking websites" are defined:
(i) is offered by a commercial entity;
(ii) permits registered users to create an on-line profile that includes detailed personal information;
(iii) permits registered users to create an on-line journal and share such a journal with other users;
(iv) elicits highly-personalized information from users; and
(v) enables communication among users.

Well, that would describe Amazon, Open WorldCat, any blogging software, Second Life and so on and so on.

The large vote in favour of the Bill suggests two main things to me: political expediency and ignorance (of the Ted Stephens sort). DOPA still has to pass the Senate, but I hold no hope of it being defeated there.

Links to comments here (this site includes a link to contact your sentators), here, here and here.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wikipedia - "a lumpy work in progress"

Whew....did all the IAgers consume much caffeine today? We are active!

A short note to draw your attention to a New Yorker article about Wikipedia. Well worth reading as it is informative and balanced.

"...Wikipedia is a combination of manifesto and reference work. Peer review, the mainstream media, and governement agencies have landed us in a ditch. Not only are we impatient with the authorities but we are in the mood to talk back. Wikipedia offers endless opportunties for self-expression. It it the love child of reading groups and chat rooms, a second home for anyone who has written an Amazon review. This is not the first time that encyclopedia-makers have snatched control from an elite, or cast a harsh light on certitude. Jimmy Wales may or may not be the new Henry Ford, yet he has sent us tooling down the interstate, with but a squint back at the railroad. we're on the open road now, without conductors and timetables."

Hat tip to Arts & Letters Daily for the pointer to the article.

The Future of Librarians in the Workforce

The OCLC Library and Information Center received an e-mail yesterday letting us know we'd been selected to be part of a study on the future of librarians in the workforce. The principal investigator for the study is Dr. Jose Marie-Griffiths, whom I was privileged to know when we were both working in Michigan. She is now the dean of the School of Library and Information Science at UNC Chapel Hill. The survey is funded by IMLS and supported by SLA, the Special Libraries Association. (The Library is part of my portfolio at OCLC.)

This sounds like a fascinating project. The survey is intended to give us some ideas about the staffing and service needs of libraries over the next 10 to 15 years. The project will survey (or at least attempt to survey---your cooperation will be invaluable in this) 40,000 libraries to assess, in the words of the e-mail, "trends in services provided, functions performed, and competency requirements." The survey will be split into sections with different libraries being asked subsets of the questions to reduce the burden on each participant. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that OCLC VP of Marketing and Library Services Cathy DeRosa is on the advisory panel for the project.

This is the kind of study that can affect the field for years: our education programs, our hiring decisions, our relationships with other institutions. If your library is selected to participate, I hope you'll take the time to answer the survey fully and honestly.

Read this book: The Change Function

I never completely got over being a reference/reader's advisory librarian, so here's my recommendation for your summer reading list: The Change Function: Why Some Technologies Take Off and Others Crash and Burn, by Pip Coburn (Portfolio, 2006. ISBN 1-59184-132-1, OCLC #62888357).

Coburn's main contention is that technology for technology's sake is a loser's game. This seems like a "duh..." idea until he starts to describe all the products that have been created just because they could be, without thinking of potential actual users. (Don't get him started on picture phones!) His belief is that companies need to be customer centric in all ways at all times, and he demonstrates many applications of this idea.

So why is this important to libraries? Because we can fall prey to this, too. If any technology we introduce doesn't reduce a person's pain points or solve a real problem they face, and if it isn't simple and non-threatening to adopt, it won't be adopted. No amount of hand-wringing by our technologists or placing the blame on the user is going to change that.

Of course, it isn't just the librarians who need to understand this. We who sell to you in the library field have to understand this, too, and all too often, we don't. Books like this can help us see this issue in a new light.

There's an excellent post/review of this book by Michael Casey over at LibraryCrunch.

Low tech green telecommuters

Alice note: I wrote this last week, saved it as draft and forgot about it. After all the heat wave headlines this week, even more reason to consider it...

I went low-tech today and hung my laundry out to dry the old-fashioned way--on a clothesline. Why? Mainly because the Al Gore movie message is still bouncing around in my head.

What other low-tech things do we tend to forget about as options, in our libraries? And what are we doing to make our libraries *green*?

While I'm thinking about it, have you thought of making your libraries a temporary respite for telecommuting workers who don't have A/C?
Or who need a place to meet up with other workers once in awhile?

Advertise your library as a central meet-up place once a week--and then have wi-fi, plenty of plugs and moblie phone reception, and closed rooms where people can talk freely without disturbing others...

squidoo whydontcha

I first noticed squidoo several months ago. I think Steven posted about it. Sometime later I wandered over and took a look at Michael and Jenny's Library 2.0 Reading List and I thought This is cool and then something along the lines of This is really gonna take off. Then, I forgot about it.

Meanwhile...someone (can't trackback to whom - apologies!) directed me to Seth Godin's Flipping the Funnel. I printed it out (I know, so and it sat on my desk at home for awhile. Until today. I read it (practically the whole thing) on the way to work this morning (while at stoplights). Essentially, Seth (who's behind Squidoo) has this idea that if you (as a business, politician, non-profit, what have you) 1) identify your biggest fans and 2) teach them about social networking and 3) get out of the way - you're golden. (Unless you are not cool and then you'll get roasted and that's the way things work ... better luck next time. That is, you have to have something worth talking about in the first place.) He talks specifically about, flickr, blogging, and ... squidoo (of course he did, what's he gonna do?). I went back to squidoo today and illustrated, yet again, how truly useful it can be.

Cool ideas from Seth in the funnel piece aside (and I do plan to pull them into what I think will be my next chapter for the LBC project) what about squidoo itself? I wonder why us library-related bloggers, especially those that are all into the Web 2.0 stuff, have not gotten more into it. It seems like a super easy way to pull a personalized view of whatever that's far more dynamic than flickr, del., and our blogs can do (even when we're manually mashing). I admit that I thought it was cool but never went back. Or is there something else you're playing with that you like better?

(And - did everybody already talk about this and I missed it? - If yes, please point me there.)

In Acadia National Park, we couldn't resist!  Posted by Picasa

Quintessential Maine, right here. Posted by Picasa

Wild Blueberry Land, somewhere on the backroads in Maine. This was the funniest thing I had seen in a long time... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hp's Fingerskilz campaign

Has everyone but me seen this campaign?
HP's Fingerskilz.
I think it's brilliantly-timed, brilliantly executed, clever and has obviously made headlines. (Of course, the other most e-mailed stores were about tacos and ice cream--so go figure, it's summertime.)

Love the tagline, "The computer is personal again" and the idea that a bored employee created these movies while at the office.

Now, as a marketer, I think this is brilliant. As a customer, do you think it is brilliant--or duplicitous?

Why or why not?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sony's new eBook reader

Sony has announced its new eBook reader, due out in time for the holidays. I know I got all excited for the last eBook reader, out about 6 years ago, but maybe technology has improved enough to make this one worthwhile?

One question I had...where is Sony getting the Connect content?

And speaking of eBooks, did I mention the NetLibrary interactive user demo that my part of the creative world worked on? We have a few refinements to make, but still. I'm excited to think it will help users be more successful with eBooks and eAudiobooks from libraries.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Serious Fun

Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users has a great post (as she often does) on usability through fun. She begins: "I've heard myself say that things can be both usable AND fun, but what if things might be more usable because they're fun? What if we started including fun in our specs?"

What if an OPAC was fun to use? What if your library newsletter and annual report was fun (and funny--Sierra makes clear the distinction between the two)? "The more fun something is, the more likely you are to keep doing it. The more you do it, the better you'll get." This is no-brainer stuff in some ways...we know we do things more readily if they engage us. But there is a sad lack of fun in most of the operations and procedures in libraryland (do students find "information literacy" classes fun?). Ergo, many are not engaging.

Sierra includes an example librarians can relate to. Cities over a certain size are required to produce water quality reports which include a lot of data and so are usually really tedious to look at and read, especially for Jane Q. Public. The city of Bryant, TX made their report fun and more "usable" by turning it into a calendar with tongue-in-cheek "movie" posters featuring real city employees--Flushdance and Reservoir Clogs are two examples. The information provided is the same as it was before but it's presented in a fun--and funny--wrapper. And, duh! More people are reading the data without feeling like it's a chore.

Two related posts on Creating Passionate Users: on cognitive seduction and on not underestimating the power of fun.

In my opinion, this can be added to the lists of skills 21st librarians need that Meredith and Karen have been compiling here, here, and here.

It's Friday. It's all good.

Movies from ALA

The Google Libraries team has been busy since ALA Annual. They put together two movies on the Librarian Center Web site that were an interesting distraction before settling in for a long Friday of writing, thinking and likely turning off e-mail. I know! I may even shut off my computer (gasp) to attempt some prolonged periods of thoughtful effort.(gasp gasp)

Do you do this? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. But I realized I get some of my best thinking done on a plane, because I rarely--unless it's a long flight--crack open the laptop enroute. So I can sit with my thoughts, a pen and paper.

Unless I get distracted...

Good luck to you this Friday, if you too have a Monday deadline with the luxury of a (mostly) meeting-free day.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Blurring "Here" and "There"

Here's a sentence to ponder: Suzanne Vega will perform a live concert in Second Life on August 3. New World Notes, a blog covering Second Life, has the details. (Note the author's dual pics....his meatspace self and his digital self)

Her avatar looks like her and will apparently be manipulated--"puppeteered" by her as she performs (not such an easy task as I understand it....we don't yet get to slip on a magic cloak and merge with our avatars).

This is all wondrous to me, as if the sci-fi worlds I loved to read about when I was a teenager are coming to pass. It makes my brain hurt too as I muse on the nature of self and place and being in at least two places at once.

The company making Vega's avatar is making two others, for Howard Rheingold and Kurt Vonnegut who will, apparently, make Second Life appearances.

That's it....I have got to get me an avatar and be in Second Life. I doubt that mine will be age-accurate as Suzanne's is. And I've always wanted wings....

Downtime Lemonade

We've hit a few rough moments these last few days server-side at WebJunction, I'm not denying it. In the midst of some pretty hard thinking about our future and the technology we'll need to support it, we've run into a buggy site goblin that's causing unpredictable little hiccups in our (usually fab) site service. After months of unstoppable uptime, we're stumbling a bit. Is this a coincidence? Probably not. As a friend of mine once wisely said, the universe is not stupid!

In spite of how frustrating it can be when technology is not working, especially when it's what you depend on as the container/connector for your community, I've found a few lessons, and they're recurring, in these past few days. First, I've been reminded that it's not supposed to be about the tools. Second, when I get too far ahead of myself, thinking too much about the future and not enough about the now, I miss things.

On the subject of present-ness, I'm going back to my desk tomorrow with a new mantra: what does WebJunction need to be today and tomorrow? As always, and I learn this over and over again as well, the solution's in the balance. This time it's the between our futuristic selves and our immediately present selves that will sustain us (and the process of change) over time.

On the subject of tech tools, and this one is harder, I'm gonna just let these questions sit there and marinate: do we (the WebJunction community) exist outside our site or our technology? Is there a WebJunction "way" or "type" of library practice that's not tool dependent? If the internet were gone tomorrow, would we ... say ... call each other on the phone to network, share, and learn?

(I know I said I was gonna let it sit but ... Maybe. I hope so. Ok, I bet we would.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Have we mentioned this? Perhaps not, but seeing Paula Hane has just written about it at Information Today, it's time to say...coming soon, to a search box on your screen, it's

As Paula writes, "The search box will make visible all 70-plus million records in the WorldCat database—not just the smaller data subsets of 3.4 to 4.4 million currently made available by the Open WorldCat partner sites, such as Google, Yahoo!, and others. And, where Open WorldCat inserts “Find in a Library” results within regular search engine results—where they can get lost— promises to provide greater visibility and accessibility of library materials. "

Yes! All the records! Outside the "closed silo"!

You can be sure you'll see a search box here at IAG as soon as it's ready.

Chris Anderson on The Long Tail

Hey everyone. I'm back from a lovely vacation to Maine and Canada. Thanks especially go out to the Calais Free Library in Calais, Maine (pronounced "Callous"--although the people there are anything but...) for welcoming strangers. Calais is a border town with Canada and we stopped there on our way north. If you're into tides and tidal action--or maybe just geology--the Bay of Fundy and Hopewell Rocks was quite a sight, too.

We encountered the world's largest blueberry and other adventures. I actually forgot my camera battery in Moncton, so I can't surprise and delight you with heaps of photos yet.

Being back, I see that The Long Tail is finally out as a printed book and that Chris Anderson--you remember him from the 2005 OCLC Symposium (scroll down)--is also talking to NPR and LJ. You heard it here first. Or maybe I should say, I heard it here first...thanks our resident futurist, Alane.

Did I mention I just acquired a 60 gig external hard drive along my travels? I luuuuv it and my laptop does, too. Hard drives with bigger memory in a smaller package is surely on the long tail of rich content/Web 2.0, eh?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Columbus, home sweet home away from home

Yesterday I was chatting with George on the phone when I mentioned that I was on my way to Columbus, Ohio for a visit to OCLC, otherwise known by us "regional" staff as "the mothership". He says - oh - will you be here with Janet (a WebJunction colleague)? No - I say - she's coming in for an entirely different reason altogether! I guess I'll see you both there!

Then today when I was getting on the plane bound for Columbus, Ohio - a standard connection through Minneapolis / St. Paul - I ran into Jennifer Hootman from MINITEX, on her way to ... where else? ... Columbus, Ohio. (We happen to be traveling to the same event - WebJunction Community Partner training for WebJunction Minnesota - which - we're so excited about - but that's another story...) .

Just then the nice lady in front of me says "Do you work for OCLC?" and I say "Yes - I do!" and then the guy behind me says "I do too! We work for RLG/OCLC, live in Mountain View, and it's our first trip to Columbus, Ohio." If we had done a poll, I now realize, who knows how many people on that plane were bound for OCLC. Next time, I think we should try to get a carpool going from the airport.

You know what? It felt pretty great. Not only was I suddenly the "insider" who had been to Columbus and OCLC more times than anybody can shake a stick at. But also there was a sense that I work, sometimes closely, sometimes remotely, with all these wonderful people - most of them folks who really care about and work hard for both libraries & communities. Although I have my share of challenging workdays, like anyone, it feels really good to be here.

And ... although I'll certainly be happy to get back on the plane for my own hometown when our work here is finished on Friday, Columbus really is a sweet place to visit and get connected to.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Coming Soon to a Library Near You

July has traditionally been a pretty quiet month for library programs, and this year seems to be no exception. I'm only doing two presentations this month. One is tomorrow at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Research Advisory Committee meeting here in Columbus. This talk will be a brief history of OCLC, given in the context of the group catalog for transportation libraries. The second will be in Madison on July 26 to the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) Executive Institute.

The flood gates open again in August. Right now, I have 18 presentations in 12 states scheduled between August 11 and November 17. I'm going to be in so many towns and cities that the Postal Service should give me the mail to deliver.

I knew I was in trouble when I was talking to my sister, who is a contract negotiator for the Communications Workers of America, and we fell into an animated discussion about the best airport restaurants around the country. (I'm partial to the Wolfgang Puck Express restaurant in the Denver airport, the only good thing about that airport in my opinion, and Legal Sea Foods in Washington National Airport.) My parents and siblings, who aren't road warriors, were shocked and then amused at the variety of airports we had eaten in and could remember.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Brian Bannon, librarian's hero.

Speaking of performance-anxiety-producing companions, my dear friend and colleague Brian Bannon has just, after several years at the Seattle Public Library, been appointed Chief of Branches at the San Francisco Public Library where he'll oversee 26 branches and their Branch Library Improvement Program. Anyone who's run into Brian's work for Seattle Public knows that he has the vision, talent and passion to take SFPL's branch spaces and service to fantastic heights. And because his enthusiasm for service and change in libraries is tempered only by his uncanny ability to actually get stuff done, he's a great model for librarianship, public and otherwise. As his colleague, I aspire to his greatness. As his friend, I am just damn proud.

Knock 'em dead, Brian Bannon. The Seattle Public Library (heck, all of Seattle) will miss you - but we wish you well!

Lazy Post, Full Brain

I am closing in on a deadline for about 5000 words which will be a chapter in a book published by Information Today (the amiable Rachel Singer Gordon is the editor--I say amiable because she is, so far, a gentle editor. Mind you, I haven't passed the deadline yet.) Nothing like a little pressure to stoke the creative fires...although this is offset by the performance anxiety induced by knowing my companion authors include Michael Stephens, Jenny Levine, Stephen Abram, and John Blyberg.

And we have begun, in earnest, working on AARFO ("Another Amazing Report From OCLC" or, if you share the views of some of our readers and commenters you might prefer this title "Another Alarmist Report From OCLC"). It has a vague shape as yet but will definitely include another big survey, and will muse on privacy, trust and the value of information.

And I am heading to Boise, Idaho soon to participate in giving a workshop being offered by the State Library, "Evolving Library Services for Digital Natives". My co-presenters are Aaron Schmidt, Sarah Houghton, Stephen Abram....not a slouch among them so I have to do my homework.

My head is full and my laptop is overheating and I am suffering synthesis-fatigue so I am just popping into IAG to share some things with you.

The following 3 from The Institute of the Future.

All The World's A Game: the future of context aware gaming. May 2006 (PDF report). This seems to be just one chapter from the full report but it's still interesting, and the full report may appear sometime.

The Cybernomadic Landscape March 2004 (PDF report)

The New Spatial Lanscape: artifacts from the future. 2004 (PDF report)

And revisiting/rethinking an article I co-wrote with OCLC VP Gary Houk, in 2003, published in the Oregon Library Association Quarterly: "Handcrafted or Mass Produced: what are you willing to pay and is it worth it?"

Rereading the 1993 piece "The Places of Books in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" by Geoffrey Nunberg (who wrote the delightful ditty we reproduced at the beginning of the Social Landscape of the Environmental Scan) .

A 2005 Wired article by the now somewhat notorious writer Kevin Kelly (he wrote the article "Scan This Book!" for the NYT Magazine) that will, I hope, show his creds in writing futurist stuff. The guy was involved in The Well. Say no more.

A long, fascinating essay "Networked Place" by Karys Varnelis and Anne Friedberg that "addresses both the networking of space and the spatiality of the network."

And these books are in a pile beside my desk in my office at home....I am trying to read (or reread) them all at once but that's not really working. I do not exist in more than one place at a time unfortunately (or at least, that I am aware off).

Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos.... Charles Seife
Programming the Universe : A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos Seth Lloyd
FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop--From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication Neil Gershenfeld
Future Frequencies Derek Woodgate
Shaping Things Bruce Sterling
The Social Life of Information John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid
The Rise of the Network Society, Manuel Castells.

I am not a pointy-headed wordsmith all the time. I am happily reading the second book, The Water Room, of a (so far) four book mystery series by Christopher Fowler, featuring two still-working London policemen in their mid-eighties. Quirky, funny, and a celebration of older people.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Sharing horizons that are new to us,
Watching the signs along the way,
Talking it over just the two of us,
Working together day to day.

(“We’ve Only Just Begun” – The Carpenters ; Music by Roger Nichols, Lyrics by Paul Williams) [Web site ; Wikipedia entry]

This song debuted on the radio in the fall of 1970, a year when OCLC was still very young [OCLC history], and a few years before RLG appeared on the scene [RLG Timeline]. Described by Richard Carpenter as “probably our best single” (see AMG article), it seems appropriate to invoke the words of this enduring favorite as IAG and all of our OCLC colleagues bid welcome to our newest colleagues from Mountain View, California, and to the marvelous organizations they’ve served so well for so long, into the OCLC family on this first official day of the two organizations coming together as one.

Over the last few weeks, OCLC and RLG staff have been crisscrossing the continent to meet in Mountain View, Dublin, New York, New Orleans, and wherever we can to compare notes, make plans, and get to know one another better. I was delighted to be part of an OCLC contingent visiting RLG in Mountain View recently, and I enjoyed the first-rate hospitality and superb company of my RLG Programs (RLG Programs staff) colleagues – a hospitality we look forward to retuning when they visit Dublin in the near future. We’re excited about the potential synergies between RLG Programs and OCLC Research, and, of course, beyond OCLC Programs and Research, a host of wonderful product and service enhancements will emerge as RLG’s offerings enrich OCLC’s lines (see FAQ for some recently-decided particulars).

Combining two world-class organizations will necessarily pose its share of challenges – as any transition does – but the broader, richer cooperative that will emerge should make the enterprise well worth the effort. We’re anticipating good things, and based on the conversations with and comments from many librarians at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, so are you.

So, a hearty welcome to one and all. We’re looking forward to working together day to day.