Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New OCLC report now available about online catalogs

The research report, “Online Catalogs: What Users and Librarians Want”, came out recently. Authored by an OCLC research team headed by Karen Calhoun, Vice President, WorldCat and Metadata Services, the report presents findings about the data quality expectations of catalog end users and librarians. I haven't actually had time to crack it yet myself (!) but am looking forward to the long flight to Amsterdam for the WorldCat Mashathon when I can.

From the news brief, the Online Catalogs report offers:

· Insight for readers seeking to define requirements for improved catalog data

· Information about the metadata elements that are most important to end users in determining if an item will meet his or her needs

· Support for the enhancements end users and librarians would like to see made in online library catalogs

· Insight into the end user’s discovery experience

· Findings for readers in areas associated with contributing, synchronizing or linking data from multiple sources in library catalogs and integrated library systems

If you've already read the report, what do you think? Do these findings ring true with your experience, or with what you observe about your users?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

There may still be an event or two you can participate in, to celebrate Earth Day.

Remind your library supporters that using the library makes every day an earth day. (Sharing resources, sharing knowledge, bringing people together under a common desire to improve their lives through a richer, more complex world view. (Or simply knowing how to fix their truck...)

I love the polar bear in this image...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oracle to Buy Sun

Holy cow! I hadn't heard anything about the possibility of this acquisition.
More information at the Sun news area.

Of course, I have not been keeping up with my Jonathan reading, either.

What does this mean for Java and Solaris? I guess it remains to be seen. Hmmm.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More on OLSSI 2009

The Ohio Library Support Staff Institute, has opened registration for OLSSI 2009. The title is fun: "The Superheroes of YOUR Library: SUPPORT STAFF!" (Having just read the paperback compilation of the 12 Watchmen stories, I am back into superheroes. Or maybe I'm just reliving my youth...)

Anyway, the conference will be held August 2 – 4, 2009, on the beautiful campus of Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

OLSSI has added a discounted Early Bird Registration Rate of $200 until May 15th. And their scholarship contest is still open for first-time attendees.

This is a great opportunity to build skills in your front line and behind the scenes staff, and expose them to some new ways of thinking about libraries. As Alan Kay said, "Point of view is worth 80 IQ points!"

Friday, April 17, 2009

Third and final installment on How to Survive a Network Attack

It's been a crazy week here at OCLC. Lots of good stuff in the works. I have been joking that the whole company will exhale a collective sigh of relief when all the planned spring and summer upgrades/enhancements/releases finally go through.

I spent an extended holiday weekend last weekend in my hometown of Alva, Oklahoma visiting as many family members as possible. Where else do you find a baby calf, a rabbit, a dog, 2 kittens and an indeterminate amount of chickens in the same backyard? I love it!

I was recently reminded that I hadn't give you the final installment in the IAG occasional series on "How to Survive a Network Attack" for small and medium-sized libraries. If you have IT people who specialize in security, rock on. If not, maybe these tips will help. This is the third chunk.
Find the previous two chunks are here:
Reduce the likelihood of an attack.
Have visibility into the problem.

Determine what you’re up against.

In the middle of a problem, it can be easy to jump to conclusions that will lead you astray.

* Is there really an attack going on, or is there another cause, such as a misconfiguration, equipment failure or power outage?
* Is your network the target of an attack, or is it the source?
* Is your network the target of an attack directed specifically at your organization, or are you caught up in a larger issue?
* Is the apparent intent of the attack to cause a service interruption, or are interruptions the side effect of a different type of attack?

Be able to block.
* Choke points in your network: Identify in advance the most efficient places in your network to perform filtering. A good place to look is Access Control Lists on the router that connects your network to the Internet.
* Quality of Service (QoS) controls: Even better than being able to block is to be able to control the amount of resources devoted to different types of traffic. With QoS controls configured in your network, you may be able to throttle the bad traffic while ensuring that there are enough resources devoted to critical services.
* Maintain a relationship with your Internet Service Provider: By the time traffic reaches your network it may be too late, and it may be more than it can handle.

Above all, don’t panic.


My take is that there are people who make their living providing security for online services. And lucky for libraries, there are data streams that are much more prone to attacks, too. I know we all love our MARC XML (sent through RESTful queries, no doubt) but banks and health care providers deal with data that is every bit as sensitive (I would argue much more so) than library data.

So if we take some pro-active steps, we will probably survive a network attack just fine and even live to tell the tale.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Judith Krug

Word came yesterday of the passing of Judith Krug, the longtime director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom and the Freedom to Read Foundation. What a loss for the library profession.

There will be many obituaries written about Judy over the next few weeks. They'll focus on her unwavering commitment to intellectual freedom, her years of slugging it out with censors, her creation of Banned Books Week, her many honors. But I remember Judy best as my colleague at ALA during the 1990s.

Judy was tough, acerbic, and had more than a touch of the cynic about her, especially when discussing ALA politics. But she leavened this with a sense of humor that could take you totally by surprise. She had a way of looking at the world that was so fresh and so insightful that it was as if you had never seen what she was talking about before.

Arguing with Judy was a trip! She always knew more than I did, but that lack of knowledge didn't stop me from trying. After years of working in public libraries, and dealing with real challenges to books in the various collections I tended, I thought she could be awfully self-righteous and ivory tower about her attitude to the would-be censors. But I came to realize that Judy served as the moral compass for intellectual freedom. Maybe we couldn't always be as absolutist as she was, but we needed her to be the point to which we aspired.

Cancer is the only foe Judy couldn't lick. Please help remember her by joining me in making a donation to the Freedom to Read Foundation in her memory.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

2009 WorldCat Mashathon in Amsterdam

Because I'm an organizer for the event (whahoo!), I am pleased to announce the WorldCat Mashathon registration for Amsterdam is now open. Here is the *official* announcement:

Join fellow coders for the WorldCat Mashathon in Amsterdam, May 13-14. Sponsored by the OCLC Developer Network and International Institute of Social History (IISH), the two-day event will be held Wednesday and Thursday at IISH headquarters in Amsterdam.

The European Mashathon follows on the heels of a previous WorldCat Hackathon in New York City. Participants will spend the two days brainstorming and coding mash-ups with local systems, OCLC Web Services, and many other Web Services to embellish existing, and create new, library services.

WorldCat includes national catalogues from the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, Iceland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, France, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Russia and many more—so there are plenty of potential uses and apps just waiting to happen.

Why attend the WorldCat Hackathon?
• Brainstorm potential uses for and play with the WorldCat Search API.
• Gain development access to 1.2 billion items from more than 10,000 libraries worldwide.
• Integrate these resources with many others to create innovative new services.
• Meet fellow developers across the information industry.
• Share your creative vision and be a part of the next wave of online library development.

Ideas, outcomes and code from the Mashathon, together with a participants list, will be shared during and after the event for others to download and build on.

Learn more and register for the WorldCat Mashathon
on the OCLC Developer Network wiki.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

One from the Road

Here's the latest podcast in the "Thinking Out Loud" series, a recap of my recent road trip in California with Joan Frye Williams. As always, life on the road can be amazing.