Monday, December 15, 2008

Journal of Access Services Jumps the Shark, Pt. 2

As I said in my post on the matter ( I'm fond of the Annoyed Librarian as well. But I find the decision to devote a quarterly issue of a supposedly peer-reviewed journal to a collection of edited blog posts to be somewhat bizarre. For those of us who don't have access to your introductory essay, I wonder if you might explain why you think this was a sensible move?
Wayne's response:
...that's a very good question. It is bizarre, but I don't see that one satirical issue of one journal amounts to that much."

"The journal issue was the idea of the journal editor, though. I don't know the motive. I'd have to look back through emails to make sure, but as I understand it the journal already had a regular humor column. Perhaps the AL special issue was supposed to be an extension of that."
The issue editor thought is was bizarre but didn't think one satirical issue of one journal amounts to much. What?! Would any peer-reviewed journal in any other profession ever make the decision to publish a satirical issue? Would we ever see The New England Journal of Medicine decide to post a series of satirical essays from Dr. Phil? We want our profession to be taken seriously but then are willing to compromise standards. In this case, in order to get some publicity? 

Wayne's decision to edit the issue and not question the journal editor was likely out of a sense of service to the profession. However, the decision still undermines the credibility of the Journal of Access Services and further erodes the perception of Haworth Press in general. This should be of a major concern since a significant number of LIS titles are Haworth titles. As a member of a promotion and tenure committee, I do not know if I could ever again think of JAS as 'quality' publication, although some would argue that I shouldn't have to begin with.  
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is a Green Ocean Strategy Needed for Libraries?

Our medical center leadership has embraced the Blue Ocean Strategy as introduced by  W. Chan Kim and RenĂ©e Mauborgne. As a result, our library has also begun to use the metaphor presented in the book in our planning processes. 

Red oceans represent all the products and services in existence today - the known market space. In red oceans, boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are well understood. Organizations try to outperform their competition in order to grab a greater share of existing demand. As the space gets more and more crowded, products turn into commodities, and increasing competition turns the water bloody. Picture sharks in the water.

Blue oceans represent all the products and services not in existence today - the unknown market space. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There are two ways to create blue oceans. In a few cases, organizations can give rise to completely new products and services. But in most cases, a blue ocean is created from within a red ocean when a company alters the boundaries of an existing product or service. Blue ocean strategy is all about doing business where there is no competitor. 

For generations, libraries existed in blue ocean space. I would argue that many of the services that libraries provide now exist in the red ocean.

Let's say that a library creates a product or service in blue ocean space. For example, traditional reference services. For generations, reference librarians were alone in this information space. Along came the Internet. The tides shifted this service from the blue ocean into the red ocean. Traditional reference services now have to compete with Google in this space. The Blue Ocean Strategy suggests that organizations need move away from red oceans and should identify new service and product spaces. This approach is also consistent with Clayton Christensen's disruptive technology theory.

However, I believe that the greatest challenge facing libraries may not be in identifying new blue ocean strategies. Yes, that is a difficult task in itself. The much more difficult task may be the ability to identify when a product and service that was in blue ocean space is starting to drift into the red ocean. The problem is that while the red ocean is easy to enter, it is hard to survive. What an organization needs to either avoid, or knowingly enter, the red ocean is what I call the Green Ocean Strategy.

(NOTE 1: OK. Yes, I know. Red and blue make purple. I went with green to conjure up an image of murky, algae infested waters. This color wheel inconsistency aside, I have never seen naturally occurring purple waterways, but have seen green. NOTE 2: This concept is not even half-baked, so I am interested in feedback. NOTE 3: This is a different concept than the similarly named environmental approach also derived from the book) 

Perhaps the hardest thing an organization can do is to spot when the tidal shift between the blue and red oceans is underway. The ability to navigate through these waters requires the organization to make hard decisions. Does it complete in the red ocean, pull out of the waterway, or does it modify the product or service so that it is back in the blue ocean?

Making such decisions is complicated by the fact that significant resources and investments have been made to get into the blue ocean space.The decision to reallocate resources or eliminating products and services after significant investments have been made becomes extremely difficult to do. However, a Green Ocean Strategy would appear to be required to help guide the transition and prepared the organization to make those very hard decisions about whether when a service/product is ready to jump the shark.  

A complicating factor is that the Green Ocean has relatively calm waters. There are no rapids to alert the organization that a tidal shift has begun. The service or product simply drifts slowly into the red ocean until the organization wakes up one day, surprised, and surrounded by sharks. The organization may become paralyzed and unable to make a quick enough decision to get them back into the blue ocean.   

Lastly, sometimes an organization wears colored glasses which tricks itself into believing that they are still in the blue ocean when they are really in the red. They become so emotionally attached to the service or product they they do not see, or simply ignore the sharks. The auto industry is learning this nautical lesson the hard way. When you look at their situation, what they lacked was an effective Green Ocean Strategy.

Are libraries simply allowing too many services to drift into the red ocean and land up spending too many resources fighting off the sharks?  Instead, should we be spending more time coming up with a Green Ocean Strategy that includes concepts such as planned obsolescence or service life-cycles that acknowledges the perils of living in the red ocean? 
Sphere: Related Content

Monday, December 01, 2008

Faculty Acknowledge Blogs Contribute to Scholarly Communication

One of my more recent hot topics is the need for librarians to expand how we define our own scholarly communications to keep up with changes in the practice of librarianship.  A new report by the Ithaka Group being distributed by ARL explores how (non-librarian) faculty / scholars are making use of digital scholarly resources in the course of research. In the report entitled Current Models of Digital Scholarly Communication, authors Nancy Maron and Kirby Smith detail the various digital resources that expands the definition of what is a scholarly resource. Such resources include electronic-only data, e-journals, and blogs. 

The report states that blogs are “being put to interesting use by scholars” and contribute to scholarship by providing a forum for discussion. Faculty acknowledge that blog postings allow scholars to share research findings and open up a dialog that can help to further shape and refine their ideas. Blogs can add a layer of commentary to published literature and can give frequent updates of researchers’ opinions rather than just facts and can also attract well established, well known writers in specific disciplines.

While any scholar can use digital communications tools to post their ideas and share them with others, old traditions of establishing scholarly legitimacy through credentialing, peer review, and citation metrics still remain paramount. Although there have been many innovations such as open peer-review, many scholars still choose not to take advantage of these new innovations and continue to publish traditional articles.

Issues of informality and not having a traditional peer-review process are still keeping blogs and scholarly social networks from being accepted as creditable scholarly communication. Still, blogs still can offer faculty / scholars the lowest cost model for quickly communicating their ideas and to receive quick feedback. 
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Moving Towards an Innovative Library

I have been working for a couple months on a graphic that represents the elements of innovative library organizations. The one I came up with was inspired by that which appeared in The Game Changer.

The graphic below depicts a continuum of six concepts which are vital to building a more innovative organization.

Inspiring Leadership

In trying to determine where the continuum in the above model begins, I decided it begins with leadership. Leadership sets the tone for everything that a library does. Innovation is all about change. During times of change an organization will be unstable, characterized by confusion, fear, a temporary loss of direction, reduced personal productivity, and a general lack of clarity about the organization's direction and mandates. A time of change can be a period filled with emotion, with employees focusing on what is changing and being lost and therefore unable to look into beyond the present and into the future. Employees not only need to have confidence in their leadership so they have someone to look to during times of change, they need to be inspired by them.

While a director or formal management group may be the most visible leaders, most library organizations have leaders throughout. Innovative organizations would also seem to have a higher number of change agents and idea champions. As Helene Blowers points out, Innovation starts with 'I.' The challenge is identifying innovation leaders, cultivating their potential, and empowering them to act. While these individuals may not be leaders in the hierarchical sense, they are extremely important leaders in building staff buy-in and moving ideas ahead. It therefore takes inspiring leadership to spot and cultivate organizational leaders.

Courageous Culture

If leadership is the starting point of the innovative continuum, then creating a courageous culture is the foundation. A climate and culture that conducive to innovation will generally be open to change, willing to take risks, tolerant of debate and disagreement, playful, will stress flexibility, adaptability, and celebrate both individual and group achievements and failures.

When it comes to implementing innovative change, there is an inevitable resistance as individuals discover that they may be giving something up. In many organizations, simply suggesting a change is often met with a negative attitude. Nothing is more deadening to the innovative process than having idea shot down even before it has a chance. A change in culture, behavior patterns and how change is approached are critical to moving towards an innovative organization.

Training and Development

Sir Francis Bacon is quoted as saying "Knowledge is Power." Indeed, innovative organizations have knowledgeable staff equipped with the skills they need to innovate and perform. An organization looking to become more innovative should expect, no, require that it's staff advances their understanding and broaden their point of view beyond their individual responsibilities.

To that end, many library organizations are moving towards a competency-based assessment system which recognizes individualized learning styles and methods. In this model, every employee and their supervisor should be accountable for continuous learning with training goals spelled out in annual performance reviews. Exploring and refining new skills, ideally outside of their area of expertise, should be of high value to the organization.

Enabling Organizational Structures

Most mature organizations, and libraries certainly are that, reach a sustaining level where the focus is on efficiency. Employees are slotted into specialized roles and are gathered together in social groups based on those roles and the resulting processes. Therefore, each employee's web of social connections mirrors the way their work is organized. As Chris Trimble points out, most social connections are made with others with closely related specialties, which share similar perspectives, and are shaped by the demands of the same customers.

Being a part of a particular social network for a prolonged period of time does influence individuals in significant ways, such as internalizing the "ways of thinking" (groupthink) of that network. Yet, innovation initiatives are often most successful when there is an unusual interaction between employees. How do many brainstorming or strategic planning sessions start off? By counting off and creating new groups. Otherwise, people tend to organize into the same social groups.

Organizations that are unstable, or responding to instability, are also more likely to innovate. A constant of slight discomfort gets individuals out of their comfort zones, gets them talking to one another, and can create new connections where none previously existed. Trimble states:
"Breaking networks is the only way to prepare an organization to take innovation efforts beyond mere ideas. You can train an individual about what an innovation is and why it demands different behavior, but you can't retrain an organization simply by training the individuals within it. The individuals may acquire knowledge, but organizations are more powerful than individuals..."

Streamlined Processes

Andrew Van De Ven observes that people and organizations are largely designed to focus on, harvest, and protect existing practices than paying attention to developing new ideas. The more successful an organization is, the more difficult this becomes. Clayton Christensen echoes this theory. While the process of conceiving an idea may be an individual activity, innovation is a collective achievement of pushing and riding those ideas.

Transforming innovation into practice involves so many individuals that those involved may lose sight of the big picture. Innovation transforms the structure and practices of an organization. The challenge is creating a culture where process does not get in the way of innovation.

Resource Reallocation

Many innovative ideas die simply due to limited resources. While resources are often equated with dollars, resources also refers to the reallocation of time, people, materials, existing equipment, and assistance. To become more innovative, inspired library leaders need to reposition staff to support innovative projects and programs, through new hires and reassignments where appropriate.

The efforts of staff that develop successful systems should also be rewarded. Innovation activities need to be recognized when decisions are made about merit increases, promotions, and even tenure decisions. If such rewards exist, then more staff will be interested in engaging in innovative activities. In the end, participation in the development of innovative solutions needs to become a vital part of the librarian's career track, and as such, should be reflected in how the librarians work, and resulting scholarship, is defined and evaluated.
Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Journal Of Access Services Jumps the Shark

I may be in the minority that feels that (tenure track) librarians need to change how we define scholarship. Until there is a paradigm / culture shift, the peer-reviewed journal will remain one of the gold standards. However, the integrity of the entire system is built upon maintaining the quality of our journals.  

It is of great concern when I see a refereed journal, either intentionally or inadvertently, set aside their standards. This appears to have happened with Haworth’s Journal of Access Services. The journal's editor recently decided to dedicate all of Vol 5(4) to  a series of essays written by an 'anonymous' blogger. [I refuse to acknowledge this person by pseudonym]

[For the purpose of full disclosure, I am unable to independently assess the quality of the issue's content since the electronic version title is currently embargoed. Doing so would be like reviewing a movie without screening it. However, I am not focusing on the content but the editor's decision.]

When I put on my hats as both a scholar and the the Chair of our promotion and tenure committee, the decision by the editor and publisher creates a crack in the foundation of our profession's scholarly communication. It is as if the editor of the American Psychologist decided to dedicate an issue to the essays of Dr. Phil.   

There are so many problems with this decision that I do not know where to start. I think I will let others highlight them for me.

Chadwick Seagraves observes: (make sure to read his entire post!)

Ponder this. This Journal now gives legitimacy to an anonymous writer, in a professionally sanctioned and sponsored serial...You know, you come to expect some level of authority from peer reviewed journals. Does this mean I can submit articles under my own pseudonyms and be potentially accepted for publication in the Journal of Access Services? Apparently it does...the beginning of the end of the authority of peer review is now here
Rudilibrarian notes:
Has scholarship in librarianship grown so weak that AL is now the best of what’s out there? Is this what passes for reasoned argument? Is Access Services so devoid of smart people doing interesting work that this is the best the journal could find to publish? It seems like one of the premier publishing houses in the field of LIS thinks so.

 Mary Carmen Chimato comments:

I would like to take a moment to thank the Journal of Access Services for driving home the point that the work we do here in access services is ripe for the mocking

From Colleen Harris:

You have just admitted that you are not a scholarly journal to be taken seriously. And as someone moving back over to Access after a long stint away, I'll be certain to send my work to the Journal of Library Administration, the Journal of Academic Librarianship, or hell, even to that cute little kid 'zine Highlights before I let my professional work be associated with you.

Karen Glover is saddened: 

I assumed this was a joke but am slowing beginning to realize the seriousness of it. I will not begin to complain about what this does to scholarship. I will, however, complain about what this does to Access Services... I am left feeling like the butt of a library joke. It saddens me that the one avenue of thoughtful discussion on subjects in my area is reduced to an extended tirade
At least one of the editorial board members was even unaware that this decision was made before seeing the issue themselves. 

My guess is that that the editor a) decided to take advantage of the recent attention given to the 'guest' author to promote their journal; or b) was duped; or c) seriously thinks the author offers a fresh voice.  The impact this decision could have on the state of our scholarly communication could be profound, assuming anyone notices, or even cares.  It makes our 'profession' more amateurish. 

Lastly, I applaud the bloggers quoted above for not hiding their opinions behind the veil of anonymity (although it took digging to identify Rudy Leon).   

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Personal Health Records Need MARC/AACR Approach, I Think

I attended an IT Innovation in Healthcare conference in town today. Practically the entire morning was spent talking about the personal health record (PHR) and related electronic medical record (EMR). While the EMR is information about your health compiled by your health care providers, the PHR is maintained by you.  The ideal PHR would  gather data from many sources and making this information accessible online to anyone who has the necessary electronic credentials to view it.

The discussion centered around the fact that it is very difficult to move information between systems. The challenge is the lack of standards. The various PHR and EMR systems don't talk to one another. This got me thinking. The health care industry needs to take some lessons from the library community and establish some data standards.  

Libraries got over the hump from a paper-based to an electronic catalog in part since we had two tools to work from; AACR and MARC. AACR covers the description of, and the provision of access points for, all library materials. MARC provides the protocol by which computers exchange, use, and interpret bibliographic information and is responsible for the foundation of the online catalogs we have today. Add on top of this Z39.50 like functionality and we have a basis for a PHR system which could do what it is envisioned to do; harvest and syndicate content between other records systems. 

There is, however, a bigger challenge. As I bounced this concept off of a CIO of a major academic medical center, they said those standards are in place. They have SNOMED

The librarians out there will immediately see the problem with the response.  For the CIOs out there, well, please have your librarian explain it to you. 
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Monday, November 10, 2008

100 Days Until Analog TV Turns to Snow

100 days from today the television broadcast technology that has served us for nearly three generations will be shut down. On February 17, 2009 all full-power broadcast television stations in the US will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital.  

The first television image was broadcast back in 1924, John Logie Baird transmitted a picture of the Maltese Cross. The TV system he developed was a mechanical system with a resolution of only 30 lines. It was the disruptive technology of the day. His 1928 trans-atlantic transmission of the image of a human face (right) was a broadcasting milestone.  

In 1936, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) adopted a technology using the electronic television technology of EMI and began the first regular high resolution service of 405 lines per. It was the technology that won over Baird's.

Cable television was started by appliance store owners John and Margaret Walson in the spring of 1948 in the Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. Local residents had problems receiving the three nearby Philadelphia network stations with local antennas because of the region's surrounding mountains. Walson erected an antenna on a local mountain to get signals from Philadelphia and connected the antennae to his appliance store via a cable and modified signal boosters. Eventually the signal was sent to his customer's homes. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 31, 2008

Does the Innovation-Decision Process Impact Library Innovation?

It occurs to me that while libraries DO want to innovate our service development lifecycles are way too long to be really innovative. We wait until a technology has emerged before we even start learning about it. We then investigate possible service applications of a technology only when a majority of the staff are comfortable. Adding onto the lifecycle is the need to build consensus during the planning process and making sure the service is perfect before releasing it. 

So, the question I keep asking colleagues is if libraries could speed up the service development lifecycle if we were more proactive in providing awareness and how-to knowledge about innovative / disruptive technologies / services as they were emerging, rather than waiting until they emerged? 

The latest book on innovation I have opened up is Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations.  One section jumped out at me since it was a mashup of the innovation theme with library decision making process. Or, as defined by Rogers, the innovation-decision process:
The innovation-decision process is essentially an information-seeking information-processing activity in which the individual is motivated to reduce uncertainty about the advantages and disadvantages of an innovation. This is a social process involving talking to others.
Rogers describes three types of innovation related knowledge. 

Awareness-knowledge is simply information that the innovation exists. This information simply motivates than individual to seek out  How-To Knowledge, which consists of how to use the innovation 'properly.'  This is an essential type since rejection may occur if the amount of information relative to the complexity of the innovation is inadequate.  Principles-knowledge consists of information about the underlying functionality of how the innovation works.

What I instinctively liked about the Learning 2.0 approach, and what I now understand,  is that its success may be because it contains all three knowledge areas. Participants are made aware of various online tools, are provided and a hands on / how to  opportunity to play with each, and by the end the participants should have a conceptual understanding of the underlying principles of Web 2.0 / the social web. 

So, it makes sense to me that if a library creates a participatory technology learning environment it would create a more active innovation-decision process, which would then speed up the service development lifecycle.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Testing iPhone App

I just installed a blog writing application on my iPod Touch. While not my preferred method of creating an entry, it may work in a pinch.

I will find out soon if I can save this as a draft to work on later, or if the only option is to post.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Random 2008 LITA National Forum Thoughts

I attended the 2008 LITA National Forum in Cincinnati the other weekend. This was my first time attending the forum. It was nice to have a conference nearby given the recent cuts in travel allocations.

I participated in my first Forum by writing a series of posts for the LITA blog including Tim Spalding's keynote, a discussion about IT Management, the implementation of Library Labs, and the development of a Homegrown CMS. I was a bit frustrated by the number of typos that got through. The spellchecker on WordPress wasn't working on my Mac (kept getting javascript error) and I am used to going back into my published posts to make minor edits. (Which I have already done three times to this post)

The conference was well run and the communications from the organizers were great. The facilities were very nice, although open wireless access was non-existent in many of the breakout rooms. The hotel also seemed to turn off the 'default' service at the end of the sessions. At least the hotel provided 'free' wired Internet to attendees.

One thing I really liked about the Forum was that the conference planners put on a fairly green event. Participants only received two handouts: a USB key containing all he conference materials (thanks to Serials Solutions) and a badge. No packets of vendor materials. No printed conference program. No bag! Almost all conference materials including schedules, handouts, and PowerPoint's were made available prior to the conference. Participants were encouraged to print off what they needed. I just downloaded the materials to my laptop or just popped in the USB key. The wiki was also very helpful! This is in stark contrast to most conferences in which one receives literally pounds of paper, much of which goes into the garbage (hoping the hotel recycles!).

The Forum is described as a "highly regarded annual event for those involved in new and leading edge technologies in the library and information technology field." There were some interesting topics presented such as the management of web site redesigns, content management systems, and IT Dept. However, based solely on what I saw and heard at this one conference, it not for technology-oriented librarians looking for leading edge innovative solutions. (I guess I have to get myself up to Access one of these years.) Instead, the conference would seem to serve a very good niche for those responsible for managing virtual public services and are looking for already emergent technology solutions.

Did I have too high of expectations for the conference content? Probably. Did I expect a higher technology level of attendees? Probably. Case in point. In one session, the speaker asked how many of the 30 people in the room heard of Joomla. Two of us raised our hands. With that said, experiencing both Tim Spalding and Michael Porter presentations for the first time was worth the price of admission.

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Annoyed Librarian: Unmasked?

There has been quite a bit of chatter in the blogosphere from Library Journal's recent decision to hire the Annoyed Librarian.   

After returning to my hotel room after dinner last night (in Cinci attending the LITA Forum) I had a message awaiting on the hotel phone with the following message:
"There is a very important matter I need to discuss with you. Please meet me in the southeast corner of the lower level of the Mall parking garage across from the hotel at 2 am. I know the identity of the Annoyed Librarian."
After a long night, I may now know the identity of the Annoyed Librarian. And no, it isn't Meredith Farkas.

I left my 11th floor hotel room at around 1:45am, sneaking down the back stairs to alley. I then walked through the shadows and around the dumpsters of the alleyway, making my across the street over into the garage, looking back often making sure I wasn't being followed.

When I arrived to the lower level nobody was there. Fifteen minutes passed, and then a half hour. Then out of the corner of my eye I caught a faint glow. There he was, waiting in a dark corner, huddled against the wall.

" So, you want to know who the Annoyed Librarian is?"

"Well, it could help me to increase the profile of my blog," I said as I took out me phone to update my Facebook status," Why are you wanting to tell me?" 

"Your Tim Spalding blog post was the first result that came up when I Googled "2008 LITA Forum blog."

It was obvious that knowing the identify of the Annoyed Blogger had taken its toll. Even when he was in the shadows of the garage I could tell was quite thin and, when the end of his cigarette glowed when he drew on it, his eyes were quite bloodshot.

The man I began to think of as Deep Link then began to sip the drink he had gingerly, then wiped his mouth inelegantly with the back of his hand.

"He ran the blog. Insulating himself through the functionaries around him. This guy is smart and can be smooth if necessary. "

"Wait a second, he?! I thought the Annoyed one was a she! How worried was he that the fact that she was a he would be found out?"

"How worried was he? Worried?" Deep Link began pacing around nervously, his lower jaw seemed to quiver. "The covert activities at LJ involves everybody and are incredible. The cover up has little to do with the blog itself. It is all a publicity stunt thought up by LJ and the Annoyed Librarian."

He walked forward towards me and in front of one of the cars in the garage and, standing erect, placed his gloved hands authoritatively on the hood as if it were a rostrum. Deep Link then confirmed what all the bloggers had missed.

"You mean the past ALA President that has been called antidigital, elitist, and a luddite by his detractors?" 

"Think about it." Deep Link said pulling out copies of posts and looking at them like a dealer studying his hand. 

"All the posts about ALA politics and even a mention of him sending fan mail. There was even several attempts to divert any attention away from himself. In fact, if you noticed, the Annoyed Librarian blog started near the end of his term as President. The Annoyed Librarian is his alter ego. Do you think he really retired?"

Deep Link then went on to talk about how politics had infiltrated every corner of LJ, a strong arm takeover, and the frightening implications on how far LJ would go to meet their ends. The involvement of at least 50 undercover LJ operatives.

So what we may be looking at can only be described as GormanGate.

As daylight began to break we parted ways. I sought out the closest LillyPad site to work on this post.... 

So that is what I know. Please feel to comment if you have other evidence which can help confirm this information. 

(thanks to Woodward and Bernstein for the inspiration and an occasional description. EDIT: Sorry Bob! Spellcheck initially changed your name...)
Sphere: Related Content

Monday, October 13, 2008

Consensus Building Cripples Library Innovation

I am not a fan of consensus building, an approach that is common in many, if not most, library organizations. While such an approach can be effective for small groups it has a number of shortcomings in larger groups, or if used to manage an organization.

One of the problems I have with consensus building is that an individual or a small minority can effectively block agreement to a proposal or idea. It unfairly tips the decision-making scales towards a staff member who may simply like the existing conditions, which may continue to exist long after the majority would like the conditions changed. Consensus building has the potential to reward the least accommodating group or staff members while punishing those trying to innovate. 

By giving all group or staff members the right to block any idea or proposal, an organization can essentially be held hostage to an inflexible minority or an individual. The impact this has on a library's ability to create innovative library services can be significant since creative or alternative ideas can be blocked or slowed by a small minority.

Consensus building also focuses on the need to discuss the topic ad nauseam and the need to seek the input of anyone would could possibly be affected.  This turns decision making into a very time-consuming process. This poses a liability to organizations trying to become more innovative since decisions often need to be made quickly. Since innovative process often result in half -baked solutions, it is simply not feasible to incorporate the opinions of everyone who could be affected in a reasonable period of time.
Library organizations probably migrate to consensus building since they generally want to work towards agreement, not disagreement. Yet, innovative organizations more often create atmospheres in which there is a great deal of disagreement and debate. Staff in innovative organizations learn how to disagree and build up a tolerance for disagreement. In such organizations, everyone is encouraged to act based on their individual motivations, and are rewarded simply for acting, rather than for success or failure. If libraries wish to create a culture innovation, we must 'allow' staff with the desire and energy to act on their own vision. This means that libraries must also empower staff to act by changing the system of rewards and support non-consensus decision-making processes.

Throughout history the most innovative ideas have been in opposition of the consensus opinion. According to Robert S. Root-Bernstein, the decision to go forward with an innovative idea should not be made because everyone agreed that it would work, but instead on different set of criteria: 
  • that it was controversial, striking at the heart of the field. (Libraries tend to want to avoid controversy) 
  • that it hasn’t been tried before and was therefore likely to yield new knowledge regardless of the outcome. (Libraries tend to wait until 'someone else' does it first and publishes it in the literature. And if it fails nobody will ever forget it did.)
  • that it was designed in such a way that it would easily be seen whether it worked or not (Libraries tend to over-think solutions and make things more complex then they need to be)
  • that the research was relatively inexpensive compared with the possible pay-off if success were to occur. (See above)
  • that the idea had a champion (or leader) who was willing and eager to risk his or her time and effort to implement the program. (Libraries support this notion, but there also needed to be a task force or committee with full representation and, oh, there still needs to be a consensus) 
Sphere: Related Content

Monday, October 06, 2008

Changing Academic Librarianship Scholarship Criteria

I am privileged to be serving as the Chair of our University Libraries Promotion and Tenure Committee.

In preparation for this responsibility, I have been catching up on various trends relating to scholarship and what is going on at tenure granting academic libraries. There is a great wiki site on the topic that appears to be managed by Chris Lewis, Media Librarian at American University.

Specifically, I have been curious about the criteria used to define and evaluate scholarship in tenure and promotion cases. This post is one of many I expect to write on the topic over the next year.

I have a healthy respect for the need and desire to keep the traditions of the academy. Still, I seem to be wondering aloud alot more lately about the increasing gap between how scholarship in academic librarianship is defined and the practices of the profession. As a profession we talk about the need to be more innovative and make use of emerging technologies. However, how can we ever expect faculty to push the innovation and emerging technology envelopes if the criteria we use to define and evaluate scholarship remains rooted in the dark ages of academia and librarianship?

I applaud a number of libraries in redefine how they define and evaluate scholarship. Here are just a few I uncovered:

From the Florida Atlantic University Libraries Promotion Guidelines:
  • The research and development of courses or classes in librarianship or a scholarly topic on which the individual has expertise
  • Obtaining grants and other funding, such as fellowships, internships or study leaves, which benefit the FAU Libraries or librarianship
  • Developing original computer software or successful adaptations of software for the FAU Libraries or professional uses
  • Developing original uses of other technologies to enhance FAU Libraries’ operations.
The above items caught my attention. Unlike some criteria I have seen, FAU does not appear to distinguish scholarship as being independent from job related activities. The creation of curriculum and courses relating to a specialty are considered. Grants and external funding in support of library services, not just the associated publications are considered. Software or technologies created or adapted in support of library services are also considered.

The University at Buffalo included many of the traditional contributions but included "Significant web based publications that can be peer reviewed." In evaluating such works, the document states:
    Peer review is characterized by the disinterested, critical review of the candidate’s research or creative activity by respected members of that community.
    What caught my attention is how they they do not define peer review. The document does not indicate peer-review as being a prerequisite to publication. One therefore could assume that peer-review includes feedback obtained after publication. What I like here is that one could define blogging as a 'significant web based publication' and comments and track backs becoming evidence of peer review.

    Oregon State University also has an interesting way of defining scholarship:
    In some fields, refereed journals and monographs are the traditional media for communication and peer validation; in others, exhibitions and performances. In still other fields, emerging technologies are creating, and will continue to create, entirely new media and methods.

    This definition seems to allow the library system maximum flexibility in accepting a wide variety of activities as scholarship, including the development of software, application of technology to enhance library services, and yes, even blogging. Sphere: Related Content

    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    ResearchBlogging Mentioned in the Economist

    During the last year I have been serving as a library 'consultant' for the ReasearchBlogging project. The project is in the very capable hands of Dave Munger

    An article mentioning the project appeared in the print edition of the Economist. I was expecting Dave to be mentioned or quoted in the article. He was not. To give someone the benefit of a doubt, Dave could have been left on the cutting room floor.  After spending time with Dave in March, he is devoted to making the site work and deserves the credit. 

    While the Seed Media Group can certainly deserves recognition for development efforts and hosting the site, the concept was brought to them by Dave and is 'owned' by Research Blogging, Inc.  a non-profit he set up for the project. In fact, it is really owned by those involved in the project - the hundreds of bloggers and readers to make the site function. 

    Don't get me wrong. The project has been very fortunate to have the Seed providing development support. The folks there have simply been great to work with! The project may not have gotten off the ground without them. I just feel strongly that Dave deserves the credit for the project, something the article does not articulate.

    OK, off the soap box.  

    A quick primer for those not familiar with the project. Bloggers, often experts in their discipline, frequently find peer-reviewed research they'd like to share. They write thoughtful posts about the research for their blogs. However, these post are often difficult to discover. ResearchBlogging is meant as a discovery tool for those communications and a way to uncover peer-review research.

    My thinking, and interest in the project, is that in time the site could be used to help build a quality index of the blogs themselves. Blogs citing blogs; a Blogger Citation Index (BCI), of sorts.  

    Bloggers interested in the project can register with the site. A simple form is used to create a snippet of code that is placed in their posts.  This snipet not only notifies ResearchBlogging about the existence of the post, but also creates a properly formatted citation for their blog. ResearchBlogging then regularly scans registered blogs for posts containing the code snippet. (Made easier if the original article has a DOI!).

    Interestingly enough, while I have been involved in the project, library and information science is not yet a default topic. While there are a number of LIS bloggers there is less discussion about peer-review literature when compared to other sciences. Perhaps if more LIS bloggers would participate we can get it added. Until then, just add the topic 'Library and Information Science' under 'other.'

    Sphere: Related Content

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Google (Android) Phone to Debut on Oct. 22

    The first Google (Android) phone will be release by T-Mobile on October 22nd.

    The HTC-made device has quadband GSM together withWiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, a 3.2-megapixel fixed-focus camera and a 3.2-inch 320 x 480 flush-fit touchscreen. The phone also has a trackball, a slide-out keyboard and, of course, quick access to Google services. 

    The phone will 'retail' for for $179 with a two-year contract. The data plan will cost $25 per month on top of the calling service, which is currently at the low end of the price range U.S. wireless carriers.

    The device will be sold only in the U.S. cities where the company has rolled out its third-generation wireless data network. Sphere: Related Content

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    15 Years Since the Release of WinMosaic Beta

    This September 28th marks the 15th anniversary since the first beta release of the NCSA WinMosaic web browser. 

    Development of Mosaic began in December 1992 by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina with the original application designed and was originally programmed for Unix's X-Window System. Funding came from the High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative, a program created by the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, authored by then Senator Al Gore.

    The first public beta release (Version 0.6b) occurred on September 28, 1993 with Version 1.0 being released on November 11, 1993.

    I remember having to download WinMosaic either from an anonymous FTP site or a Gopher server. I remember having to install (and learning to hate) and configure Trumpet Winsock to make it work. In fact, you can go old school and download it now. (now, make sure to LOADHIGH and include HIMEM.SYS and EMM386.EXE !)

    A cottage industry began with companies such as Spry releasing their versions of Mosaic buddled with Internet services.  

    I got my copy of Mosaic in a Box at the 1995 Spring Internet World conference in San Jose.  It came on a 3-1/2 inch floppy which required "a 386PC or higher, 4MB of RAM, a mouse, a modem, and standard phone line, and Windows 3.1 or later.

    Who knew that at the same time a few miles away at Stanford Larry Page and Sergey Brin were disagreeing with each other over everything and would up with this idea.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Library Innovation Requires Regularizing the Irregular

    To move towards a move innovative organization requires experimentation, trial and error, doing new things, and breaking rules. Libraries looking to become more innovative are confronted with reality: it takes 100 crazy ideas to find 10 worth funding experimentally in order to identify 1 project worth pursuing. As it has been said, it takes a lot of acorns to grow an oak tree.

    The challenge is that most library organizations are structured and managed to continue current practices rather for than for innovation. Both strategy and resource alignment are focused on supporting short term missions and goals. This holds library organizations captive to a culture that is antagonistic toward innovation. Such a culture kills most attempts at innovation and can eventually drive innovative individuals away. It is not that the individuals within a library do not want to innovate, they talk about it all the time. Simply put, the structure of library organizations and their approach to management may make them unwittingly systematically hostile to innovation.

    Gary Hamel notes that that the bottleneck within an organization that ultimately throttles innovation is almost always located at the top. Organizations are trained to look to the top for clues about where it's going. In such organization the vast majority of people have simply ceded responsibility for innovation. When the authority to set strategy and direction is held so narrowly then attempts at innovation inevitably falter. Therefore, new voices and new thinking are essential for a library to create a culture of innovation.

    In his book The Future of Management, Hamel discusses new management principles which can help transform a library into a more innovative culture, including:
    • variety, diversity, experimentation, depoliticizing / depolarization of decision making
    • resource allocation flexibility
    • enabling activism through democracy (devolution of accountability, distributed leadership, unalienable >
    • engagement and mobilization through a common cause
    • increasing the odds and successful contribution of serendipity
    Other interesting quotes from Hamel:
    “To a large extent, managers play the role of parents, school principles, crossing guards and hall monitors. They employ control from without because employees have been deprived of the ability to exercise control from within. Adolescents outgrow most of these constraining influences; employees often aren’t given that chance. The result: disaffection. Adults enjoy being treated like 13-year olds even less than 13-year olds.”

    “One can fairly describe the development of modern management as an unending quest to regularize the irregular, starting with errant and disorderly employees. Increasingly, though, we live in an irregular world, where irregular people take advantage of irregular events and use irregular means to produce irregular products that yield irregular profits.”

    “Try to imagine what a democracy of ideas would look like. Employees would feel free to share their thoughts and opinions, however politically charged they might be. No single gatekeeper would be allowed to quash an idea or set the boundaries on its
    dissemination. New ideas would be given the chance to garner support before being voted up or down by senior execs. The internal debate about strategy, direction and policy would be open, vigorous, and uncensored. Maybe this sounds hopelessly romantic, but such a thoughtocracy already exists—not in any big company, but on the web.”

    "When you step on a treadmill and start to jog, your heart automatically increases the blood supply to your muscles. When you stand up in front of an audience to speak, your adrenal gland spontaneously pumps out a hormone that accelerates your heart rate and heightens your faculties. And when you glance at someone who is physically attractive to you, your pupils dilate reflexively, drinking in the agreeable visage. Automatic. Spontaneous. Reflexive. These aren’t the words we typically use to describe deep change in large organizations. And therein lies the challenge: to make deep change more of an autonomic process—to build organizations that are capable of continuous self-renewal in the absence of a crisis."

    Sphere: Related Content

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    Technology Use During Gustav

    I have a new Labor Day weekend tradition; hurricane watching. Much like tornadoes hitting trailer parks, having a major hurricane over the holiday weekend seems to be something we can count on. Fortunately, Gustav was not has bad as it could have been.

    Over the weekend I looked for ways in which technology was being used to manage and communicate during the storm.

    • The Department of Homeland Security created several Federal Hurricane Response Widgets.

    • NOAA also created several NOAAWatch Web Widgets.
    • General Motors saw a 30 percent increase in calls to its OnStar service. In addition to providing computerized maps and information on hotel vacancies, OnStar offered information on locations of Red Cross shelters. Many subscribers made use of a 30 minute free airtime GM offered to drivers to make calls to family and friends. It has been reported that at one point they were receiving 3000 calls an hour.
    • Globel Relief Technologies provided 29 PDA/GPS/Sat Phones to Red Cross volunteers. The PDAs recorded the status of electricity, food supplies and shelter, and even took pictures. The data and visual material was uploaded to the Red Cross operations center so agency officials could direct resources to where they were need most. Even FEMA doesn't use this technology.
    Sphere: Related Content

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    Will the FM Radio Band Be Expanded?

    I'm surprised I didn't come across this one earlier.

    In March, the FCC proposed turning over the bandwidth currently occupied by analog channels 5 and 6 over to the FM band (76-88 MHz). If approved, this could open opportunities for additional channels when the digital television transition is complete next February. The spectrum currently reserved for channels 5 and 6 is immediately adjacent to the existing FM broadcast dial and could be easily be re-appropriated to expand the FM dial to accommodate up to 60 new stations.

    This will be an interesting change. I know I am used to seeking out local college and Public Radio stations down in the lower FM band. The question I have is if the FCC will be simply expanding the low power band to accomondate new community stations. This may be the case since the idea was embedded deep within a proposal to promote diversity ownership. Sphere: Related Content

    Friday, August 22, 2008

    Class of 2012 Beloit College Mindset List

    The class of 2012 Beloit College Mindset list is out.

    A few that stood out that could have impact on how we deliver library services:

    • The class of 2012 has grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm,
    • colleges no longer trumpet the fact that residence halls are “wired” and equipped with the latest hardware.
    • Hardly recognize the availability of telephones in their rooms since they have seldom utilized landlines during their adolescence.
    • Will continue to use their cell phones and communicate via texting.
    • Roommates, few of whom have ever shared a bedroom, have already checked out each other on Facebook where they have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world.
    • GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
    • WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.
    • They may have been given a Nintendo Game Boy to play with in the crib.
    • Windows 3.0 operating system made IBM PCs user-friendly the year they were born.
    • As a precursor to “whatever,” they have recognized that some people “just don’t get it.”
    Sphere: Related Content

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Can the Elliott Wave Predict Library Usage Patterns?

    In the 1930's, Ralph Nelson Elliott, a corporate accountant, studied financial market price movements. He observed that certain patterns repeated themselves and what may appear to be random and unrelated actually create a recognizable pattern. Elliott called his discovery "The Elliott Wave Principle."

    While the theory is applied mostly to financial and commodity markets, the Elliott Wave addresses much more: it attempts to find patterns that underlie collective society. It can been viewed as a measure of mass human activity that can be applied to socio patterns as well (see: The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior and the New Science of Socionomics) These patterns underly the forces that drives the trends in human affairs from politics to popular culture.

    Robert Prechter, in his book "At the Crest of the Tidal Wave," argues that using the Elliott wave principle that we are at the crest of a tidal wave of change in the public mood that will stall or reverse a 200 year cycle of rising Western European prosperity. Prechter predicts " the darkening of the social mood produces a falling stock market and ultimately, social upheaval." Yep, Wave theorists paint a extremely depressing picture of the future.

    I am still trying to get a grasp of the concept, but essentially, the idea is that when quantified and graphed human activity creates a common and predictable 'wave' pattern. The trend line moves up or down the graph with the primary trend impulsively. These impulsive (dramatic) moves come in stair-step fashion, five waves at a time. Waves 1, 3, and 5 progress and waves 2 and 4 regress (or correct).

    The total move in the direction of the primary trend progresses because the sum of waves 1, 3, and 5 exceeds the sum of waves 2 and 4. Waves 1, 3, and 5 move in the direction of the primary trend, while waves 2 and 4 can either move in the opposite direction or sideways.

    The pattern is repeated on the decline as well as the incline. I believe that Wave and stock market watchers see the Great Depression as wave (4); the 2000 market as wave (5); we are heading down to corrective wave (A) - where Wave followers predict the Dow will drop to 1000. (You are saying by now "Thanks, Eric, for brightening my day!)

    Assuming that there is something to the principle, I wonder if one looks at circulation, gate count, interlibrary loan, reference transactions if the Elliott Wave will show itself.
    I will try to grab some stats in the upcoming month and report back if the Wave pattern emerges, or not.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Rethinking Scholarship in Academic Librarianship

    I was asked in a comment by Karen to to my Knol post if I had a promotion and tenure model in mind which took into account emerging scholarship methods. I didn't at the time. Since then, I have been doing some thinking, reading, and talking with colleagues.

    The nature of librarianship and scholarly communication has changed drastically over the past decade while the definition of scholarship for academic librarians is stuck in time. Scholarship in libraries with tenure track librarians is still universally equated with research and publication in traditional peer-reviewed journal articles and monographs. In fact, there are disincentives to exploring alternative forms of scholarship since faculty are reluctant to pursue them since such activities have historically not been valued positively, or not weighed equally, during faculty evaluations.

    The impact of the lack of exploration of alternative methods by faculty librarians may be more profound than one would imagine; a growing percentage of the output of our scholarly endeavors may no longer accurately reflect the changing nature and practices of our profession.

    One has to really give the Modern Language Association (the other, other MLA) and their task force a great deal of credit for communicating how they feel scholarship should be evaluated and promoted by rethinking tenure - and much more. The inspiration for their approach was Ernest Boyer's Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities for the Professorate. Boyer's text also inspired Oregon State University (the other, other OSU) to also rethink scholarship and to change their guidelines.

    Both MLA and OSU are broadening the view of scholarship beyond 'research." They are both articulating, advocating, and providing mechanisms for recognition of scholarship that is produced but not presented in traditional journal articles or monographs. The basic tenants of scholarship still exist in both their approaches by emphasizing the importance of validity, communicating to broader audiences, and ensuring that scholarship outcomes will be accessible and useful to others.

    To help ensure that our scholarship remains relevant and in sync with changes to the profession, a revised definition of what constitutes academic library scholarship is needed. While not exactly a model, the following is a statement on the role of scholarship that is inspired by the MLA, and largely borrowed from it and the Oregon document (and acknowledged here as such):

    The purpose of scholarship is to create something that did not exist before that is validated and communicated to others: a new understanding, new knowledge, new insights, new technologies and applications of knowledge that contribute to librarianship. Library faculty are expected to engage in scholarship, and each is also expected to perform responsibilities assigned their position. These assigned responsibilities typically include specific teaching, research, or administrative assignments.

    Scholarship and creative activity derive from many activities , including but not limited to: research contributing to a body of knowledge; development of new technologies, materials, methods, or educational approaches; integration of knowledge or technology leading to new interpretations or applications; creation and interpretation in the arts, including the performing arts; and work on steering committees, funding agency panels and editorships where the outcome is a fundamental change in the field’s direction.

    The kinds of scholarship for faculty across the range of positions at the library will vary. In some areas of librarianship, refereed journals and monographs are the traditional media for communication and peer validation; in others, presentations and exhibitions. In still other areas, emerging technologies are creating, and will continue to create, entirely new media and methods. Scholarship and creative activity its diverse forms must be based on a high level of professional expertise; must give evidence of originality; must be documented and validated as through peer review or critique; and must be communicated in appropriate ways so as to have impact on or significance beyond the library, University, or the discipline itself.

    Peer validation and communication can occur in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, peer-refereed publications. In cases where validation and communication are not obvious, faculty must document how it was accomplished.

    In certain positions, seeking competitive grants and contracts is an essential responsibility, and success in this endeavor—particularly when the grants are highly competitive or peer-reviewed— is a evidence of achievement in scholarship.

    In consideration for promotion and tenure, scholarship and creative activity are not merely to be enumerated but are to be carefully, objectively, and rigorously evaluated by professional peers, including ones external to the University.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    Will Librarians Embrace Knol? Chances are....

    ...we will not. At least initially.

    To play with Knol, I created my first document, a repurposing of my five part SOA blog series from last year. I could have created one very long blog post but decided to break it into more digestible chunks. The reformatted Knol version pulled it all together and it seems to works as a longer document. I will likely be questioned by faculty colleagues wondering why I didn't publish publish it in a traditional peer reviewed journal. This is part of the point of this post.

    I spent some time reading Richard Akerman's posts about Google's Knol. Much of the criticism he provides, such as search and discovery, are well founded. I do wonder if we have grown to expect only great things from Google and are increasingly disappointed / critical when they do not immediately deliver. (can you say Gphone?) All the current shortcomings of the Knol aside, two of Richard's comments interested me:

    "...a total lack of understanding of the current state of scholarly blogging..."

    "If you want to make Knol a system for presenting authoritative information, you might want to look at how scholars do it in modern web-enabled scientific articles"

    Google is not the only group that may not understand the current state. We only have to look in the mirror (well, not any of you. You ARE here reading this).

    I have posted my perspective on the value of blogging as scholarly communication. I am a tenure track faculty librarian and the incoming Chair of our Promotion and Tenure Committee. When talking with our faculty about "scholarly blogging" it still amazes me that is how many librarians simply do not see how blogging is shaping our professional communications. I'll speculate that a majority of topics presented at conferences and eventually land up in print literature started with a half-baked idea on a blog. Certainly, blogs are the major source of topics at the various library BarCamps.

    Librarians think of themselves as being on top of emerging technologies and using them to provide our customers with the best services possible. Yet, the communications methods that we use to share our ideas, our knowledge, are still grounded in the middle ages. A growing amount of content making its way into our traditional literature is so 'old' that it is no longer interesting. This may be the single reason why our traditional published literature has become so dreary.

    I am sure many of our professors could wax poetically about why Knol and blogging do not merit consideration as scholarly communications. They will talk about the lack of pre-publication peer-review and authority. Chances are they would be evaluating Knol without ever using it. Their perspectives would be no different than the critic that trashes a movie before seeing it. A major breakthrough moment would be if I would get the response "I read over the blog posts about Knol the other day..."

    So, while Knol has issues, it is the potential of this type of publishing I feel can help to revitalize the state of our professional communication. Tools such as blogs and Knol can let us toss out those half-baked ideas. The reviews and comments enables the author to build out newer/better/more thought out versions of the content. This is in contrast to a blog post which is generally stuck in time - much like the majority of our professional communications. Sphere: Related Content

    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    Taking QR Codes to the Streets

    At the Medical Library Association Conference this year I included QR Codes as a Tech Trend. The only place QR Codes are actually useful is still in Japan, where they are becoming ubiquitous. In the States, online guides Citysearch and Antenna Audio piloted QR Codes, in San Francisco back in the Spring. The are readers available for just about every mobile platform, including iPhone.

    The latest product on the market are QR Code patches, which point to a proxy server which then redirects a phone browser to the URL encoded in the code. So, when someone takes a photo of your jacket, backpack, or wherever the patch is attached they can go to your online presence.

    It also means that when someone takes a photo of you and posts it to Flickr, then someone can take a photo of that photo and be linked to the URL . Sphere: Related Content

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Cincinnati Motorized Logo LIVES!

    Back in 1927 a motorized sign commonly known as "YouBert" was installed above the Young & Bertke air systems building along I-75 north of downtown. After years of walking in place, YouBert has been motion less since 2005, after the sign's mechanism failed. Well, the logo is back at walking with a new motor and a fresh coat of paint.

    Sphere: Related Content

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Mobile Optimized Library Web Sites

    An article in today's NetworkWorld highlights the beta launch of Opera Mobile 9.5, a native Web browser for higher end 'smart' phones. Opera Dragonfly is Opera’s open source cross-platform developer tool. The beta browser is for Windows but Symbian support is in the works and Java support so it can run on the Samsumg SPH-M800 (a.k.a Instinct) is also rumored to be in the works.

    Other entrants into the mobile browser space include Mobile Firefox and Skyfire, expected sometime this year. All are in an effort to catch up with the Safari/iPhone platform. The evolution of mobile device browsers has benefited from a marked increase in processor power and the increased speed and coverage of wireless network infrastructures. The browser development has also been accelerated by the increased number of web sites being optimized for the mobile users.

    Libraries have been talking about optimizing their web sites for mobile devices for years, but mobile browsers have lagged in their ability to display content and have had limited functionality. In my hunt on how libraries are taking advantage of this fast-paced development today, I came across Megan Fox's Libraries on the Go: Handheld and Mobile Access to Information. The site includes many of her presentations, but also links to industry information. She also lists several libraries with mobile optimized sites, including:

    American University Libraries
    Ball State University Library
    Boston University Medical Center Mobile Library
    Cal Poly Pomona University Library
    Hanover College, Duggan Library
    Harvard College Library
    University of Illinois Library
    New York University Libraries
    University of Richmond Library
    St. John’s University, College of St. Benedict
    University of Virgina Library

    Sphere: Related Content

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    Using IDEAS to Create an Innovative Library

    I have been reading The Game Changer by A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan. The book provides a different way of thinking about management processes to make innovation a central driver of a business. It draws upon the authors experience at Proctor and Gamble. There, they made building an innovative culture a fundamental part of the organizational strategy by using the concept of IDEAS.

    Inclusive - the benefits of diverse thinking and ideas

    Decisive - eliminating organizational debate and overanalysis to enable faster innovation development

    - being in touch with customers

    Agile - able to react quickly to changing customer and market conditions and taking calculated risks

    Simple - ongoing streamlining and simplification of structures and processes.
    I think that libraries do the inclusive and external parts very well. However, we have a lot of work to on being decisive, agile, and simple.

    In fact, we tend to have very specific processes and procedures (committees; task forces) to encourage debate and overanalysis (all areas must be represented) which prevents us from being agile (12-18 month development cycle).

    The book also reinforces two other characteristics of innovation that I have learned. First, innovation is not about the end product. It is not about the widget produced. Instead, innovation is all about the new interpersonal connections and the intersection of ideas which emerge.

    Second, leadership plays a very important role. Leadership does not mean the administrative organization. Instead, it is about building a pipeline of leaders which allow a culture of innovation to grow and be sustained. These leaders can exist at any level of an organization. They must be given opportunities to lead and learn. Sphere: Related Content

    Tuesday, July 08, 2008

    To the Moon on 72Kb

    As a child of the 60's, I continue to be interested in space. Specifically, the technology of space. This week, the Science Channel is running a series this week called Moon Machines during their Space Week 2008.

    The episode I just watch is called "Navigation."It details the creation of the Apollo command module guidance computer (AGC) by the MIT Instrumentation Lab.

    Apollo Guidance Computer Specifications:
    Instruction Set: Approximately 20 instructions;
    100 noun-verb pairs, data up to triple-precision
    Word Length: 16 bits (14 bits + sign + parity)
    Memory: ROM (rope core) 36K words; RAM (core) 2K words
    Disk: None
    Performance: approx. Add time - 20us
    Basic machine cycle: 2.048 MHz
    Technology: RTL bipolar logic (flat pack)
    Size: 24" x 12.5" x 6" (HWD)
    Weight: 70 lbs;
    Number produced: 75
    Cost: Unknown.
    Power consumption: Operating: 70W @ 28VDC; Standby 15.0 watts

    There were a few bits of information I thought were interesting:

    At the time they were building the AGC the 'integrated chip' was just being developed. It's a frequently cited that the space program and perhaps the AGC more than any other single part of this program that drove IC development, an observation Eldon Hall makes in his book Journey to the Moon. At one point NASA was consuming 60% of all chips being manufactured. They would weight them, then immerse them in a bath of freon. If they weighed even a few micrograms greater they would toss the entire batch away since there had to be some flaw which absorbed some of the freon.

    It is common to hear that many of our devices are more powerful than the Apollo guidance computer, but I never heard what the total was until now - 72kb. A $100 MP3 player has 50,000 times more storage space then the computer that got Apollo to the Moon. I think back to the Commodore 64 I had and even it was pretty close to the processing AGC power (I wonder if the MIT guys "peeked and poked")

    The programs were literally hardwired and "weaved" together using rope memory.

    The computer's other error codes included error 00404, which was shorthand for "IMU orientation unknown." This has been compared to the HTTP 404 "browser navigation" error code, although the later was not based on it.

    (If one is really into this stuff feel free to download the GNU Virtual AGC or build a real one in your basement. The original schematics are available.) Sphere: Related Content

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    8 Drugs Doctors Would Never Take

    As a health sciences librarian for almost 20 years, I have many issues with the coverage of medical topics in such popular literature. The latest to get me going is a Men's Health article entitled 8 Drugs Doctors Would Never Take.

    Sadly, this article is filled with overgeneralized statements such as "Unfortunately, it seems some doctors rarely pull the PDR off the shelf. Or if they do crack it open, they don't stay versed on emerging research that may suddenly make a once-trusted treatment one to avoid"

    Well, for one, I would question how up to date an MD was if they were still using a 'print' PDR. Second, the reader is supposed to trust a popular magazine article that relies upon a single source article and/or the comment of a single health professional to supports the author's argument for placing a drug on the list.

    The author, Morgan Lord, doesn't even appear on the Men's Health list of "experts," which include a bartender and "smart New Yorker, who isn't afraid to tell guys what women really want." He doesn't have an MD or even a PhD after his name. Just try to find more information on his credentials as a medical writer. He also writes for Women's Health magazine and is listed simply as an Assistant Editor on this Rodale Internation publication.

    I have no issue with Mr. Lord. He needs to support his family.

    My major concern is that this content also is published on other site sites including MSNBC and MSN. This provides a false sense of credibility. DrV's comments really sums things up:
    So, while I understand that Mr. Lord has as his job to report information that 'scares' people, I believe that he is remiss in not reporting why a person's Doctor may find important uses in these drugs or may even disagree with studies that are out there. If you've ever seen a patient die without a long term medicine to control their asthma, or you've seen someone whose life has been changed with the addition of a 'questionable' drug, then you will understand that blanket statements that a drug wouldn't be taken by your doctor may be dead wrong. Personally, I'd take this drug (or similar) if I had asthma, and I have family members on it as well. Please, Mr. Lord, do not make my job more difficult; patient compliance is hard enough already as it is.
    Sphere: Related Content

    Thursday, June 26, 2008

    Michael Schrage at ALA Friday 6/27 at 1:30p

    If you are at ALA, make sure you attend the OCLC Symposium: The Mashed-Up Library at 1:30 on Friday 6/27 that includes a great keynote speaker and panel that will discuss developing new library services by mixing data and functionality from several sources.

    The keynote speaker with Michael Schrage, author of Serious Play and Shared Minds—The New Technologies of Collaboration and columnist for CIO and MIT’s Technology Review.

    The panel includes Susan Gibbons, Associate Dean, Public Services & Collection Development, University of Rochester (NY) River Campus Libraries David Lee King, Digital Branch & Services Manager, Topeka & Shawnee County (KS) Public Library, and Mary Beth Sancomb-Moran, Librarian, University of Minnesota, Rochester.

    Any librarian that is concerned about how their organization can remain relevant in the time of technological change and how we can establish services where our customers are should attend. Sphere: Related Content

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    Will the Next Generation of Library Systems be Customer Generated?

    I have been lurking in on an OhioLink task force discussing "next generation" discovery layers. One of the latest postings to the group was by Peter Murray , who highlighted a report from the Next Generation Summit Search Interface Working Group of the Orbis/Cascade Alliance.

    The report supports several concepts I have been pushing for a couple years now, including the idea of consortia to support library systems development. However, the more important concept is included in the report’s recommendations:

    Regardless of who provides the Alliance’s next generation OPAC product, one of the deliverables that must be available as part of any solution is API or web services access to the catalog. Access at this level is important for two reasons:

    ... All major ILS vendors but III provide their customers a web services or HTTP REST API access to their systems, allowing for continued development around the catalog. Lacking such access, the Summit catalog will continue to be marginalized within the consortium’s academic campuses as tools and services are developed that take advantage of web service friendly applications.

    ... The Alliance should strive to create a resource that encourages users, libraries, and campuses to develop services around the Summit catalog. The library community has recognized that our patrons want social tools, which we tend to identify as tagging, commenting, etc. However, Web 2.0 applications like Flickr are popular because of the API access that they provide to their users as well. This access has enabled other web services, individuals, and organizations to develop different methods for exporting and utilizing the images placed within the Flickr photo archive. The Alliance should strive to make the Summit catalog open in this way, so that users and members alike are free to enhance Summit to meet individual, campus, or consortial needs.

    Aha. Without using the geek terminology what they are describing is actually Service Oriented Architecture. However, what I am really excited to read is the desire on the part of the Alliance to break library culture and control over bibliographic information and to let the customers play with it. The number of applications that make use of the Google Maps shows how creative customers can be in seeing new connections between information sources.

    I could see a customer building a new system in which leverages OPAC data in a weekend which could take a library organization a year to work through. Libraries should be building and licencing systems which exposes our content and data. Let the customers can play with it. Let them mash it up. Let them create systems that fit their immediate needs.

    The challenge is that libraries do build systems and services with our (librarian) needs in mind. Our need for control. Our need for perfection. Our need for process. A library information system (or service) that uses a development process that does not meet our internal cultural needs is almost immediately classified as being a failure. We then focus way too much energy doing a post mortem on what went wrong in the development process in an effort to "do it right the next time."

    It's no wonder that library systems of tomorrow are really just library systems of yesterday.

    It seems to me that as a profession we are stuck in a bad relationship with our systems and vendors. We just can't figure out a way to get out of it. Are we happy that III will not give us APIs? Are we so insecure with our relationship with them that we are content to take what they give us? Do we feel we are that powerless?

    The approach that the Alliance has outlined in their report is a extremely positive sign that some finally have had enough and are willing to make the hard decisions required for information system independence.

    Photo: "REST eye for the SOA GUY" by psd. Creative Commons. Sphere: Related Content