Friday, March 30, 2007

Librarian-in-Residence at Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Do you have a library topic you have always wanted to study and research in depth?

Have you ever had the urge to learn more about libraries outside the United States?

Have you ever yearned to share experiences and ideas with other librarians in a cosmopolitan and fascinating environment?

Do you have a very supportive employer?

If so, you may want to consider applying for the Librarian-in-Residence Program at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Thanks to my colleague Arthur Smith for bringing this to my attention.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Europe in 2020

Noted in the World Future Society's e-newsletter Futurist Update, April 2007 (links and emphasis added):

"On his Web site FutureCheck, Dutch futurist Marcel Bullinga offers a tantalizing glimpse of Europe in the year 2020--a society boosted by the transparent, intelligent, virtual world. This video is an abridged version of what Bullinga shows during his live presentations."

The 1:35 video is on the FutureCheck site and Youtube here.

social computing specialization

This is cool - posted by OnlineCommunityReport:

The University of Michigan has launched what they describe as "the nation's first graduate degree specialization in social computing". The Social Computing Specialization of the School of Information prepares students to serve as online community strategists, social network analysts, and other positions relating to online community. Congratulations to Paul Resnick and colleagues at the University for the design and launch of a terrific program.

Indeed. Almost makes me want to go back in time!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ebooks Polemic

A self-described rant on why the "ebook market is broken." Hat tip to Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing.

"I've been ruminating for a whole long time now about the dog that didn't bark in the nighttime world of publishing — the coming ebook revolution, which has been coming now for something like 20 years and counting without much sign of actually arriving."

'In the pre-internet dark age, there was a subculture of folks who would get their hands on books and pass them around and encourage people to read them for free, rather than buying their own copies. Much like today's ebook pirates, in terms of the what they did (with one or two minor differences). There was a closely-related subculture who would actually sell copies of books without paying the authors a penny in royalties, too.
We have a technical term for such people: we call them "librarians" and "second-hand bookstore owners". '

User-Driven Innovation

My April copy of Business 2.0 arrived yesterday. On pages 50 and 51 is a piece*, "Building a Better Book Club" on Tim Spaulding and LibraryThing, described in the article as "a social network based not on who you know but on what you've read."

It's a positive piece and deservedly so as LibraryThing clearly provides members with value by making a service lots of people want as well as offering an active role in designing the service as it develops.

There was a (to me) related article in the Sunday New York Times, "How to Improve It? Ask Those Who Use It."

Two quotes from each article.

On LibraryThing: "But Spaulding expects LibraryThing's real growth to come from using the community's collective wisdom to improve the way the world finds books [...] Spaulding's next target is to get into the business of advising libraries on how to manage their catalogs."

On user-driven innovation: "Mr. von Hippel [Sloan School of Management] is the leading advocate of the value of letting users of products modify them or improve them, because they may come up with changes that manufacturers never considered. [...] Mr von Hippel...says that as user communities...spread, they will dominate innovation."

*Jessamyn West is quoted as is Chris Locke (co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto and, right now, embroiled in a blogosphere brouhaha with Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users).

Friday, March 23, 2007

Weekend in Dartmouth

Last Friday Val and I loaded up to attend one of his industry conferences. This one was Arctic Science Summit Week 2007. Held at Dartmouth in Hanover, NH, the conference attracted scientists and researchers from all over the world who work on the arctic--both North and South poles. Needless to say, very interesting stuff from the snippets I heard over dinner--but they definitely speak their own language. It gave me new insight into what WE must sound like when we all get together at conferences!!

The buzz at the conference was the start of IPY, which stands for International Polar Year, which comes around every 50 years or so. With all the discussion about global warming, it's a timely topic and you probably already have displays set up in your library about it! Flickr brims with cool photos about it.

The main speaker at the Saturday night banquet mentioned the need for worldwide cooperation on data standardization and formats--and the need to communicate wider, in common human language, about the research and findings this group comes up with.

It made me want to stand up in front of everyone and shout out, Have you Thought about Talking to a Librarian?

We (you) excel at this stuff! Worldwide cooperation--I have known no other group who so willingly and diligently works together for the benefit of the whole. And marketing and clear communication is something that more and more librarians are talking about today.

So if you know an arctic scientist--or even if you don't--you might mention your expertise around the faculty club once again.

More Flickr photos of Baker Library. Oh, and I visited the King Arthur Flour Company while the scientists were slaving away. Here I am, on the Flour King's throne! (On St. Patrick's Day, no less...)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

OCLC Anchorpeople?

Yep, there we are, OCLC Ken and Barbie anchorpeople in our starched and pressed conservative suits at the Blog Salon at ALA MidWinter. Neat haircuts all.
Generalizations are a bit silly usually.

That's Chrystie, Alice and Alane in front. Eric (who was wearing a tie but who wears jeans to work) and George in back--and the top of Walt's head.

Picture from Alice's Flickr pics.

Thanks--maybe--to anchorboy and colleague Andy for pointing out these deep thoughts from a new, anonymous biblioblogger who might work at OSU.

Picture from Andy's MySpace page.

Update Friday March 23: Well, interesting. On Wednesday, if you had clicked on the first link in this post, you would have gone to the post on a blog that dissected the dress and demeanours of OCLC staff (including our new colleagues from RLG). But this morning, the link takes you to a sign-in page for a blog that's closed to invited readers only. I wonder why?

Free iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts

Not to seem like the free coffee hound here, but...more free coffee today! If there is a Dunkin Donuts close to you. Since I live in the Northeast US, it shows I have 8 in an 8 mile radius. We need every single one of them. I love it.

Of course (cough cough), this campaign is blatently American. "America Runs on Dunkin'." Readers with long memories will remember how much I liked the campaign originally. I still do. But I have been checking our stats and IAG's international readership has grown tremendously. Thank you! (Or should I say, danke, merci, doh je, cheers ta and aabhar...)

So if there is not a Dunkin Donuts near you, perhaps you can print the page off and take it to your favorite coffee shop anyway. You never know what kindness a sympathetic coffee pourer might show.

Have photos from a weekend jaunt to Dartmouth in Hanover, NH that I still need to download. Beautiful place!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

So Long, Library Media Project

For the last ten years, I've been on the project board of the Library Media Project, the successor to the MacArthur Foundation Library Video Project, which some of you long-time public librarians may remember. For those of you who don't remember, here's a brief video history of the project, in which you can see a mustachioed, prescription eyeglass wearing, not completely bald version of yours truly shot at my former employer, The Library of Michigan.

Sadly, the project is coming to an end. The interest in video as a separately curated collection in public libraries seems to have waned, and money is tight in many areas. Mary Kirby and Sue Stephenson, who run the project from a small office in Chicago, have done a valiant job but there simply isn't enough money left in the till from the group's funders and from sales to keep the doors open.

So LMP is having, in effect, a going out of business sale. There are episodes of Nova, American Playhouse, American Short Stories, Civilization, and other classic PBS series, plus some amazing independent films like Atomic Cafe, Best Boy, and The Day After Trinity, all available at ridiculously low prices. There are also copies of the cinema classics collection, curated by Roger Ebert, which include healthy discounts for libraries on purchases of 5 copies or more.

Many of the videos in the original MacArthur grant will not be available on DVD and are no longer being produced in VHS, so this may be your last chance to add some sterling documentaries and special interest video to your collection.

When I was running the Fairfield County Public Library in the 1980s, the MacArthur Project was the only way I could get affordable non-fiction videos with public performance rights into the collection. Seeing the project shut down now, nearly 20 years later, is painful, but I hope you won't miss this opportunity to add something a little more substantial than the latest "let's blow something up" movie to your collection!

where it's at

Where have I been? Well, very swept along by extremely rigorous travel and work schedule (and, as many of you know, swept away by a more personal undertow). When will I be back? Well, I'm not sure. But several times this last week I found myself thinking back to posts here, email strings there, and even real-time physical conversations over there (visiting OCLC last Mon-Fri). All of them renewed reminders that I'm striving for sychronicity. And although things are just starting to move from awareness and into practice, one little piece of something did click over and into sync for me this week. So I'll tell you about it, and maybe this can count as back (we'll see):

It started when a colleague of mine said that "social" aspect of what we do is "WOW. sticky. Kewl." We were in a large meeting. Everybody laughed. I laughed too. But then I paused. WOW. sticky. Kewl. That's it! (Later I learned that he had wanted to say "WOW. sexy. Kewl." but his group thought better of saying sexy in a meeting and so they changed it. Sexy. Sticky. Whatever. He captured the concept.) I mentioned it a few times to different people and got different reactions. Most people laughed. Some people got hung up on the sticky. (Is it good to be sticky? Or bad?) But everybody got it. "WOW. sticky. Kewl." is the it factor. It's that thing that's hard to describe, but that everybody knows about and comes back for. Some people have it. Some people don't. Some organizations have it. Some organizations don't. Some libraries have it. Some libraries don't.

Finding, having or being it is about finding, having and being that thing that keeps you, your organization or your library alive. And I don't mean alive that in the you're not dead, so you must be alive sense of the word. I mean it in that verve, vim and vigor sort of way. I'm talking about meaning, relevance and maybe even emotional draw. I'm talking about charisma and magnetism, maybe even charm. No wonder it is often associated with sexy. Should we even wonder then, when wow sticky kewl is associated with social?

I know it can't be the same thing for everyone. And I know I shouldn't try and essentially define it. But I do know that we've lost it when we stop at content or collections. It is dependent on human connection. It might even be about conversation and collaboration. This makes me wonder: are our personal it factors are the same as our professional ones? That's definitely what has happened to me at WebJunction, where this small little business idea (ItGirl) turned from a consulting gig to this real-life community project connecting more than 26,000 of us in libraryland. Putting that idea of connecting people with each other (as well as with information) at the center of my personal and professional life has been part of my and our success there.

So now I have to ask: could your personal it factor be the thing that helps your library find, have, and be alive? Or has it already? And does it (also) have to do with connection? How is that different from what we traditionally do or have done in libraries?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Free coffee tomorrow from 10 AM to noon

It's the second annual Starbucks coffee break. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're giving it away tomorrow morning. Send yourself, send your staff or send your spouse. And next year we'll have to work a free public library card sign-up into the deal.
Free coffee, free access to information=what could be finer!

California Dreamin'...and Delivering!

Joan Frye Williams and I did 2-1/2 hours on the changes in the library world this morning at the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Public Library. We had some terrific discussion, especially when a trustee from one of the area public libraries challenged us about dumbing down libraries.

After Joan and I wrapped up, six local librarians talked about some initiatives their institutions were taking.

Erin Pawlus of the Burbank Public Library talked about the very entertaining blog she and some of her colleagues have done. She also included some principles her team put together for what and why they would blog.

Terri Maguire from the County of Los Angeles Public Library discussed a consultancy Paco Underhill (author of Why We Buy and The Call of the Mall) is doing for the library. Watch for the results of this work to be published: it could be incendiary. One key finding: only 9% of library users ever use the OPAC there.

David Campbell from Palos Verde Library District talked about a staff training opportunity the library had launched. Everyone who completes the training gets an MP3 player and is entered into a drawing for a digital camera, an iPod or a Wii. The training consists of 10 exercises, including starting a blog, posting a photo album to Flickr, and create an RSS feed.

Nanette Schneir of the Santa Monica Public Library demonstrated the Vocera communication system her library uses. It is extremely cool---it allows staff to range throughout the building while still being able to handle reference calls or back up the desk.

Karen Schatz described the new Help Desk that replaced the old reference desk at the Oxnard Public Library. It's staffed by trained (but not-MLS) employees, it's placed in a very visible, highly strategic location, and it allows the reference librarians to provide more quality and quantity time with customers who really need help.

Finally, Danis Kreimeier and John Legree (whom Danis referred to as her library's "IT Bad Boy") talked about some of the outstanding innovations they have added to the Yorba Linda Public Library web site. The "Book Feed" is includes a constantly updated list of the books that have been returned to the library, the list of the Top 10 requested items in the collection, and a real time list of materials on order, for example. They also have a section where teens can review books, and a dynamic reader's advisory system.

So I learned a heck of a lot more than I taught today. A fine finish to my too brief visit to Southern California. (Photos of San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point coming as soon as I can dump my photos to the album.)

Friday, March 09, 2007


Just as "Google"became a verb, so has "YouTube", I think. Just google the phrase "let's youtube." (Isn't that a sentence that would make a grammar purist wince?)

So, we've YouTubed. Our media production manager, Rich, took the many hours of film from the Symposium at ALA MidWinter (many because there was more than one camera) and edited it all down to just under three minutes, and loaded it to YouTube. I am biased of course but I think it's good. And I think OCLC is the first library-related company to have a video on YouTube...

Question about ALA conferences

I just read an interesting article in the online Chronicle about childcare at academic/industry conferences. I must admit, the thought of this issue has never crossed my mind before. Even though I have plenty of colleagues and librarian friends with children. So let me ask the floor--> Is there a big need for onsite childcare at large library conferences, such as ALA or ALA MW? (What about small ones, like OCLC Members Council meetings?)

I guess I had always assumed that if you had young kids, you left them with a trusted spouse, parent, family member, etc. and came anyway. With today's phone conferencing, video and podcasting options, you can worst case attend remotely if the conference organizers know you are interested and they're willing to work with you.

Still, I'd be curious to know what libraryland thinks of this issue. Do we as an industry need to consider childcare at our conferences?

Some Good News!

Librarians, need to feel better about our career choice? Check out this story from Wednesday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer that indicates young people (12-18) are reading and buying books in record numbers, and that they are taking advantage of libraries to feed their reading habits. Some of this is attributed to the post-Harry Potter afterglow, some to the vast array of new, well-written books for teens.

I don't know why any of this would surprise us (although it sure is nice to have some outside validation). Thirty-plus years ago, Charlie Robinson (one of my library heroes) was urging public librarians to "give 'em what they want." Why would teens be any different? As we build collections of materials for users instead of critics, and we include a diversity of formats, the momentum builds.

Enjoy your weekend. The long-suffering Joyce and I are headed to Los Angeles for the weekend, and I'll be teaming up with Joan Frye Williams for a presentation at the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Public Library on Tuesday, sponsored by MCLS, the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Citizen Marketers recap

Ben McConnell of Church of the Customer, Creating Customer Evangelists and now Citizen Marketers fame came and spoke to OCLC staff and area marketers on Thursday, Feb. 22. I've been slow to post my notes from his talk--but here we are, finally:

There are 48 million content creators out on the Web. (That is like the population of all of South Korea.) Most of these are amateur content creators. Meaning--they are not being paid to create this content. So when this creative group of people connects with products, they become "Citizen Marketers." It's the idea that your brand reputation is in the hands of a customer, for good or ill. Anyone who interacts with you has the power to praise you or to vilify.

More stats:
  • 55% of kids aged 12-17 use social networks.
  • 84 million households have broadband.
  • There are 1 million new broadband subscribers per week, worldwide.
The democratization of access to information is spreading like wildfire.

An example: is the Barack Obama for President community. The tagline--"This campaign is about You." You can join in, find other supporters, create a blog, learn more about the senator's stance on issues and more. In the first week it was launched, it gained 700,000 members. Those members in turn created 40,000 blogs and 2,400 groups. (Alice editorial note: Who says youth don't want to be engaged in the political process? They just want it on their terms!)

The Control of the Message (previously the realm of marketers and strategists) is now totally Out of Control. And if you give people a voice, a vote and a vocation--they can influence your brand in today's culture.

What are the top 5 most influential media?
5. Articles
4. Newspaper inserts
3. coupons
2. TV
1. Word of Mouth

Ben and Jackie have separated the Citizen marketers into four broad categories: Firecrackers, Filters, Fanatics and Facilitators. They've got great examples for each type--and each type is someone to encourage, be ready for and respond to--immediately.

One ominous note: You are your Google results!! Ignore natural search engine rankings at your peril, because for many people that's the only way they see you.

Ben and Jackie also brought up something they call the 1% rule. And it's that a whole multitude of people may READ or WATCH stuff--but only 1% of people will be motivated enough to create something. So how do you work with those Citizen Marketer 1%ers?
  • Enable co-creation: Ben's example is Shakira's fan-only "Hips Don't Lie" video--Shakira used all the home video segments on her real video. It was co-created by her and all her fans.
  • Enable community: The Discovery channel formalized their evangelist network of 1%er educators to help train one another. (And sure enough, usage skyrocketed...)

In marketing traditionally there are 4 Ps: Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. Ben posits that in today's world, there is a 5th: Participation.

So how do we integrate the 5th P into our libraries?
  1. Blogs
  2. Reaching out to your 1%ers: your advisory boards/teen panels/Friends of the library groups and empowering them even more to take the message out
  3. Lay the foundation for social networks. (Alice editorial: Alane and I are part of the last week next week of Five Weeks to a Social Library!)

The book has lots and lots of examples and stories. It's a quick read with lots of YouTube clips mentioned.
One parting question: How recommendable is your product?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ernest Gallo passes on

After 97 ripe years of living, Ernest Gallo has passed on. His passing is noteworthy here, because the Gallo brothers (Ernest and Julio) found their original wine recipe in the Stanislaus County Public Library. (Side note: I like their library ROI calculator there, too!)

Loyal IAG readers may remember that the Gallo family graciously agreed to help us kick off our library advocacy campaign. You'll find the PDF of the Gallo ad on the OCLC Advocacy site. The Gallo family--and in fact, all the Gallo staff we've ever worked with--have been absolutely top-notch and wonderfully supportive.

I'll toast to you, Mr. Gallo, next time I raise my glass!

The Holy Grail of Search

There's an interesting article in today's New York Times about the future of internet searching, at least as perceived from Microsoft's vantage point. At Techfest this week, a Microsoft researcher demonstrated a new service called "Mix," which (if it works as demonstrated) would allow users to organize their results more efficiently. Mix may be available within six to nine months, according to the article. You can find a brief description of Mix if you scroll about three-quarters down this page.

Another service, Web Assistant, (no release date given; this name has been kicking around Microsoft for at least 10 years) would be even more intuitive, driving you to results that could distinguish whether your were looking for a football team, an automobile, or an exotic cat when you search for "jaguars." It manages this legerdemain by learning from your previous searches and by those of other searchers who have looked up the same topic.

It seems to me that the better the search function gets, the more we as librarians should be rethinking our mission. We have already lost the ready reference trade to Google and its kin; where will we seek refuge when the search engines can actually deliver substantial, unambiguous results right to the desktop?

Attend the Information Literacy online discussion today at 2 pm EST

Whether you've got wow's or war stories, join the discussion hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Education on Information Literacy today at 2 pm EST. Diana G. Oblinger, a vice president of Educause, will serve as host and moderator for the discussion.

Looks like Diana came and spoke to OCLC a couple of years back, too, as part of the Distinguished Seminar Series from the Research group.

More information on the Chronicle's Wired Campus blog.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My excuse for ADD, Or Information Overload is Good for Us

Our inveterate reference librarian, Tam, in the OCLC Information Center forwarded a bit to me this morning from Web Worker Daily:

Bring on Information Overload: It’s Good for You

I have chosen to believe it wholeheartedly, because it some ways it excuses my now perpetual shock each afternoon when I realize, OMG the day is over already. And I have not accomplished nearly half of what was on my prioritized daily task list, even with all the little As and Bs and numbers beside each one! (Oh Stephen Covey, I do remember the parable of the rocks...)

I say this, knowing full well I have succumbed and requested a blackberry...which will make it better, right??

Monday, March 05, 2007

U.S. Library Bill of Rights

Hands up, US many of your places of work have the Library Bill of Rights displayed somewhere in a public area in your library?

Second question. Are the non-librarians on your staff familiar with the Library Bill of Rights?

We got to musing on the visibility of these Rights when the small team working on our forthcoming report wondered among ourselves...have you ever seen the Library Bill of Rights displayed in a library? And the answer was, "no."

Why not, we wonder? As the document states: "...the following basic policies should guide their services." Shouldn't the people served in libraries know what the service promises are?

If you have the Library Bill of Rights displayed (or your country's equivalent), please let me know! And if you don't, tell me why not. Also, they haven't been amended since 1996. Do they need to be?

I do think it a bit odd that "libraries" stand in for "librarians." (That's a synecdoche for you non-English majors) It's as if doctors' codes referred to hospitals' responsibilities to patients--which they don't.

One criticism I have read about libraries' codes of ethics is that the individual practitioner is not explicitly held accountable (more on codes of ethics in a future post). Certainly, there are no librarians in the US LibraryBill of Rights.

In case you've forgotten, these Rights are:

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Material should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgement of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 18, 1948. Amended february 2, 1961, and January 23, 1980, inclusion of "age" reaffirmed January 23, 1996, by the ALA Council.

View from the outside

Amanda, from Notes from the Digital Frontier, does a nice bit on why she thinks libraries will continue. Keep in mind she is in no way connected to a library, that I can tell. (Other than being a user.)

Another good tidbit from inside and outside the library world: a colleague at OCLC in charge of social marketing for pointed me over to And would you look at that, Bill Drew has set up a Library 2.0 social network with 14,275 views so far in four (4) days ...Ning looks to be a very easy way to set up a social network that has friending, photos, blog posting capabilities and so much more. It may not be absolutely beautiful, but it's an easy way to get started and not re-invent the wheel.

I also wonder if would be a good social networking place for library or I started a WorldCat group. Go Join!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Side Streets

Till then I walk the side streets home,
Even when I’m on my own
“Side Streets” – Saint Etienne (Web site ; Wikipedia entry) from the album Tales from Turnpike House (Wikipedia entry)

Turnpike House is a real building in the London area, and the songs on Saint Etienne’s concept album, Tales from Turnpike House, weave flashes of several fictional character’s lives set in flats in the building. Reviews (sample reviews: 1, 2, 3) offer more backstory than I’ll offer here, but let’s just say the reviewers and I concur: Tales is the exception to the rule – this concept album actually works.

And speaking of concepts that work: OCLC Research has been working on a project called WorldCat Identities. Chief Scientist Thom Hickey – my boss – has been the lead on a project to build the infrastructure to automatically generate one HTML page per identity (i.e. an identity being character, person, animal, or organization, etc. referenced in selected fields in a bibliographic record) in WorldCat – about 19 million unique identities at last count. The pages draw from bibliographic data in WorldCat which is used in conjunction with authority file data to provide information about and list works by the identity, reveal related identities, display publishing patterns, and offer whatever other information of interest we can mine and display. And the works listed link to – you guessed it –

Like many projects OCLC Research has undertaken in recent years, WorldCat Identities builds on prior work by OCLC and RLG.. WorldCat identities draws inspiration from RLG’s RedLightGreen and leverages FRBR (work clustering), Audience Level (surmising audience), VIAF (linking common identities in diverse authority files), NameFinder (user-typo-tolerant searching support), Dewey Browser (DDC made visual) and makes use of SRU, a protocol that OCLC has worked with the Library of Congress and others to develop. And, of course, WorldCat – the collective work of thousands of libraries and tens of thousands of librarians – is the key data source.

Thom’s various entries on his blog, Outgoing (see this entry and later posts) and posts by Lorcan and Walt have talked about the project. Tim O'Reilly gave it a nice write up on O’Reilly Radar. And WorldCat Identities has also been mentioned by a number of other blogs (see the end of this post for links to posts I’ve found).

The attention is gratifying and confirms the generally positive reactions and excitement face-to-face demonstrations of iterations of the project have engendered when Thom has presented WorldCat Identities in various settings. We’re also delighted to be working with our RLG Programs colleagues and several RLG partner institutions to get some early, expert feedback on WorldCat Identities.

As a fallen cataloger and recovering reference librarian, I’ve been impressed with WorldCat Identities in many ways. It leverages libraries’ investments in bibliographic and authority data. Each page is just the sort of by-and-about presentation to make undergraduate-doing-a-paper-about-a-person reference transactions go much faster than helping the user assemble some version of the same on their own. And the links to related identities offer a very addicting experience for the curious – the “side streets” are many and often quite interesting. Some nice examples of pages that work well:

But all is by no means perfect. Searching the names listed above in WorldCat Identities returns search results that show variations in how the names have been recorded in bibliographic records – some differences in form of name no doubt reflect different authoritative forms of name adopted by various communities (and VIAF offers the potential means to link multiple authoritative forms efficiently), but more than a few the variations arise from errors in the underlying data, errors that keep apart things that should be put together or alternatively put together different persons and their works as a single identity.

There are also some not-quite-as-expected-by-the-user ordering and ranking of works associated with some identities (see for example Elvis Presley), but it’s not so obvious how to “fix” many of these unexpected results (the criteria applied make logical sense for most pages) – tinkering with ranking often fixes one case only to break many, many more. And, of course, for those music lovers among us, it’s wonderful to find so many persons involved with music, but at this stage in the project, WorldCat Identities does not yet include corporate headings so no musical groups are given their own pages (and yes, you may spot a few, but they’re not really supposed to be there – these reflect a small but visible corpus of MARC tagging errors). Note that corporate identities will be added at some point – it’s a research project, after all, and we didn’t put in every feature we’d planned on day one.

So I invite you, gentle reader, to try WorldCat Identities out and let us know what you think. And if you find some especially compelling side streets, please leave a comment on this post so we can all retrace your steps.

{Posts relating to WorldCat Identities in various blogs (feel free to add more references via the comments – apologies in advance to those I might have missed): English-language: Baby Boomer Librarian, Catalogablog, DigitalKoans, Family Man Librarian, Household Opera, Library Stuff, Notional Slurry, PersonaNonData, Thinking Out Loud, Tom Keags, Vacuum, Wikimetrics ; French-language: Figoblog, ; Italian-language: Fermo 2003 ; Japanese-language: Current Awareness Portal ; Romanian-language: ProLibro. Wikipedia articles incorporating WorldCat Identities links: Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt}

Photo: Doorways in the French Concession area of Shanghai. (c2004 Eric Childress)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

the future of publishing is social

This just in from Paul B Hartzog on Oort Cloud at one of my favorite blogs (Many 2 Many):

Basically, OpenLit is a simple catalytic cycle: Write - Share - Read - Respond

First, writers write.
Second, writers share with others what they have written.
Third, readers read what is available.
Fourth, readers respond to what they have read.

In this way, writers become better writers by virtue of having a distribution outlet that embeds constant feedback, and readers have access to better and better stories, where “better” actually means better for them based on their interaction with the writers.

I love this! This is so cool! I want it for more than science fiction! I want it for non-fiction! I want it for everything! I have been using Google docs to work with Steven and other folks willing to contribute sidebars to our project. It has been great having collaborative workspace for this, but now I see the real possibilities. Anyone want to build this for LIS publishing? Put something like this together with a self-publishing site like and I'll be the first to sign up.

Prodigal luggage

Luggage Update! This morning, as I was headed down for my 3rd cup of coffee of the morning (yes, it's been one of those weeks...), I look out in the mudroom as the sun is shining in and Lo and Behold! The Bag! The Bag is here! US Airways has come through! On Day 6 of the Lost Luggage ordeal!

So now that the rejoicing is over and the trackball is safely restored to its proper place (hooray!) ...I am faced with the realization that I do NOT get to go shopping this weekend for new all new work clothes. Bummer.

Thanks all for your good wishes of bag recovery. They worked!

netLibrary Tutorial on YouTube

Kudos to the North Metro Technical College Library in Acworth, Georgia which has posted a 2:32 video on creating a free account for netLibrary. That's the one that caught the attention of people at OCLC this morning, but NMTC Library has eight DIY videos posted to YouTube. They are all about two and a half minutes long and follow the same pattern..."How do I find....?" and cover tools to create citations to how to find print materials.

This isn't the only innovative thing the library is doing...they have a wiki for policies and procedures, and a blog since May 2005.
What I can't tell from rummaging around the NMTC library web site is how these videos are promoted to students. Nor can I tell what human is or humans are responsible for these good things.

But it's the border collie that's featured in three rotating promotional photographs on the main page that I particularly like, especially the one where it is wearing a nurse's cap and is participating in what looks like rounds at a hospital. There's a link to a video in which I am sure the dog is featured, but I haven't been able to view it. That kind of humour is rarely seen on academic web sites and I find it refreshing.

if you want to lose a couple of hours, just use "border collie" as a search term in YouTube and Flickr.

My border collies, Bonny and William, and Hamish the handsome mutt.