Tuesday, June 19, 2007

ALA in Washington, DC

It is that time of year, I will be taking a break from blogging for vacation and to attend ALA's Annual Conference in Washtington, DC. ALA annual is always a great experience with opportunity to attend not only ACRL meetings and sessions, but also children and young adult literature sessions by YALSA and ALSC, and various technology sessions by LITA.

Falling under the shameless self promotion category, I will also be presenting two poster sessions at the conference:
  • Keep Blogging Along: Side By Side Library Blogs
    Sunday, June 24th: Session IV, Table 19
    1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

  • A Tale of Collaboration: Art of the Picture Book Conference
    Monday, June 25th: Session V, Table 10
    11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Focusing mainly on blogs currently used for the IRC, the blogging poster session will also briefly discuss Library Cloud as a professional development tool. Stop by and say "hello."

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Big Brother ... Google

A top story today on eWeek.com is an interesting article by Lisa Vaas, Is it OK that Google Owns Us? In it she contends:

"Make no mistake, Google owns you. The ways in which it owns you are laid out in a complaint filed by EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) and other privacy groups with the Federal Trade Commission over Google's proposed merger with targeted advertising company DoubleClick." (Vaas, eWeek, 6/17/07)

She goes on to describe the different ways Google collects and retains data on users; from simple searching to Google Check Out. It really is mind boggling. Just for fun, here's a short list of the data collecting technologies that I use on a monthly, weekly, even daily basis:
  • Google search
  • Google desktop
  • Google maps
  • Google calendar
  • Google video / YouTube

And let's not forget:

  • Picasa web albums
  • Blogger
  • Gmail

And new Google purchases:

  • Feedburner (recent merger)
  • DoubleClick (merger pending)

The article is fair minded, pointing out Google is not necessarily the evil empire as it is portrayed in the report. But I wonder how librarians are viewing this type of information/data caching? Respect for patron and personal privacy are basic credos of librarianship. How will this ongoing debate effect libraries that are scanning books for Google Scholar? What about the points Rebecca raised in her post Google, OCLC, and the Future of Cataloging?

"Some say that in the end it's up to consumers to police the information they give to Google or to anybody, but in fact Google garners information from the simplest action as performing a search. " (Vaas, eWeek, 6/17/07)

As Google continues to gobble up other entities ... professionally and personally users will need to decide how much information is too much.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Live blogging

With ALA fast approaching I have been pondering the number of Bloggers who may actually blog "live" from sessions. However, beyond the idea of clicking keyboards being (a) umseemly, (b) borderline rude, and (c) potentially distracting to the session presenter, I did not consider any potential copyright infringement issues. After reading NCAA vs Blogger on the Inside Higer Ed blog this morning I wonder.

"On Friday, the association [NCAA] did just that when the University of Louisville, acting on NCAA orders, evicted a credentialed reporter for The Louisville Courier-Journal from a baseball playoff game for doing his job. According to the NCAA, it would be fine for the reporter to write online about the atmosphere of a game, the mood of the fans, even the quality of the hot dogs in the stands. But mention that someone just hit a home run — information the NCAA wants to preserve for those that pay to broadcast games — and the reporter is outta there." (Inside Higher Ed, NCAA vs Blogger, 6/12/07)

Potential ramifications for not only NCAA and sports, but any other event where live blogging may occur, are widespread. Let's say, hypothetically, a presenter at ALA Annual is discussing a topic that has been submitted for publication. Is the session information copyrighted to the presenter? Or, is it free for public consumption once presented as long as bloggers cite the information and presenter?

Looking at the big picture it may not matter. Librarians are proponents of disseminating and presenting information. If those blogging live ask the presenter for permission to blog during their session, all will be well (if they say no, take notes and blog later). But as blogging continues to be a popular form of communicating information, we may need to revisit.

Update: 6/13/07

The Chronicle's Wired Campus Blog posted about this topic yesterday as well (guess my Bloglines account lagged a bit). Read more at No Blogging Allowed at College Sports. Additionally, the Chronicle article links to USA Today's Revoked Press Credential Spurs Blogging Question.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Google, OCLC, and the Future of Cataloging

It's been a few months since I wrote, the reason being that I haven't seen anything really exciting that I wanted to write about that hadn't already been around the block a few times in the library blogosphere. But today I read a couple of blog posts and an email that all seem to relate in my mind so I just had to comment.

First, the email: Today the CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation) announced that they are joining the Google Books scanning project. This is huge news considering the size of these 12 libraries. Granted, that 2 of the member libraries (University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin-Madison) were already members. But the addition of these 10 additional libraries with their huge collections boosts the library partners on this project from 15 to 25 and will exponentially increase the number of books scanned. This makes Ohio State as the first Ohio university to take part in this and I'll be very interested to hear their views as the project proceeds.

I'm all for the increased accessibility of information and if Google is leading the charge, more power to them. But it got me thinking as to where OCLC is in all of this. We already know that their mission statements are a tad overlapping (Google's & OCLC's) although Google makes no specific mention of libraries. I think OCLC is finally understanding that Google is not only quickly becoming competition, they are in fact way ahead in the game. OCLC seems to be considering moves toward more openness and coming out of its proprietary shell. Paul Miller over at Panlibus highlights some of OCLC's more recent podcast discussions of not only future possibilities but also how that may effect their current business model. My hope is that OCLC is sincere about being more open to third parties and getting the information out there. I think that this openness would spur desperately needed innovation in library technologies. While Open WorldCat is move in the right direction, it isn't even a baby step in comparison to where libraries should be on the Web at this point.

This leads me to the other blog post (that I was pointed to by Nicole at What I Learned Today) at Cataloging Futures. The discussion began by talking about how to upgrade catalogers' skill sets and the question was raised as to whether or not catalogers need to have programming skills. I read this post (and comments) just after the aforementioned email and Panlibus post and I have to tell you, my immediate instinct was an emphatic yes. MARC was wonderful and necessary when it was created. But its time has passed and as a standard it isolates the rich information libraries have in their catalogs from the rest of the world who use XML, SQL, etc. After more reflection, I don't think that all catalogers need to be programmers, but many more of them need to develop an understanding at very least. We need more people programming in and for our profession before we render ourselves irrelevant in the information industry.

Before, I really anger too many catalogers, I have to say I don't see catalogers as irrelevant or disappearing anytime soon; even without programming skills. Catalogers have (in my view) 2 distinct areas in their work: classifying/organizing information and coding that into MARC format when necessary. The first part is the most valuable part of their job and something that will continue to be crucially valuable to all information (not just in libraries). The second area however needs to be simplified, streamlined, and made relevant for todays world. My hope is that it will be a librarian who can bridge this gap to make the transition not only possible but preferably seamless to patrons.

Why lump all three of these topics together? Well, because it all seems to be vicious circle. A lot of librarians see the disconnect that libraries are having with patrons who are seeking information in a much more immediate fashion and are at a loss of how to address this disconnect. They look to their vendors and OCLC to give them products that will solve these problems. Most of the vendors and OCLC realize that things need to change and so they study and discuss the problems and test potential products in committees and focus groups over months and years. Meanwhile, Google is actually delivering more and more information and services to our patrons which in turn makes them less satisfied and more frustrated with the services and perceived value we provide. This cannot continue and at some point libraries and our services will either catch up or fall irrevocably behind.

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