Fuel for the Everlasting Flame War…

…that is iOS vs. Android. I wrote a long Google+ post on the topic.

Side note: always tricky to decide where to post my thoughts, what with multiple facebook, twitter, G+ accounts and this blog, and also whether to push posts in one venue to the others. Not a unique problem by any means […]

Google Books

I’m nearly done with Steven Levy’s excellent history of Google and it’s got me thinking about Google Book Search/Print/Books and the settlement with the Authors Guild and APA.  I don’t want to get bogged down in the details of Google’s initial effort versus it’s eventual settlement because I think another important element is often […]

The DPLA as a generative platform

As usual, someone else said it better than I could.  Ovet at Inkdroid, Ed Summers nicely states what I was getting at in my comments at The PLA Blog:

Keeping an open mind in situations like this takes quite a bit of effort. There is often an irresistable urge to jump to particular use […]

5 Myths About the ‘Information Age’ – Robert Darnton – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Not much I can argue with here.  I do think his five points have a bit of the straw man to them, but not dramatically so.  My comments, point by point:

We need better statistics and a few more years perspective, but my guess is the trend go forward will be for less printed […]

Scalability

Recently on the This Week in Tech podcast (twit.tv), I heard an interesting comparison of a difference between Apple and Google. In reference to the Apple App Store, one of the commentators said that Apple’s model was to have the equivalent of a giant room full of employees doing nothing but manually approving each […]

The Changing Nature of the Catalog : A Response to Calhoun, Mann, and Yee

The Changing Nature of the Catalog – A Response to Calhoun, Mann, and Yee (PDF)

The central premise of Calhoun’s report is that technology has “created an era of discontinuous change in research libraries—a time when the cumulated assets of the past do not guarantee future success” (2006, p. 5).  Calhoun’s perspective is that this notion applies directly to traditional library cataloging.  Yee argues that traditional cataloging is fundamental to the value of libraries (2007).  Mann makes the case that research libraries’ primary mission is to serve the specific needs of serious scholarship (2006).  Each is right in their own way.  Mann and Yee, though, fail to recognize the changes that the coming of the Information Age has wrought on the world outside libraries.  Far too much valuable information is outside the reach of traditional catalogs.  Libraries must embrace technology to extend the grasp of catalogs beyond local holdings.

Continue reading The Changing Nature of the Catalog: A Response to Calhoun, Mann, and Yee

Martha M. Yee: Will The Response Of The Library Profession To The Internet Be Self-Immolation?

Yee, M. M. (n.d.). Will The Response Of The Library Profession To The Internet Be Self-Immolation? Special Libraries Cataloguing, Inc.

All this because some research studies show that undergraduates prefer to use Amazon.com and Google rather than libraries and their catalogs. … The excuse used, the preference on the part of undergraduates for quick answers, is nothing new. Undergraduates have always tended to over-use ready reference sources

Yee seems to think that belittling a position is the same as rebutting it.  It is a profound mistake to minimize the internet by simply categorizing it as “ready reference.”  The net is an unparalleled source of quick information, of course, but it’s also a far, far more vast domain than Yee’s dismissive sentence would imply.  The internet runs the full gamut, from “ready reference” to online periodicals to serious scholarship to raw data.

I could be wrong, but I suspect that the preference for “Amazon.com and Google” and the like over catalogs is not so much split between undergrads and more advanced scholar, per se, but between younger people and their elders.  As internet-native generations become scholars and older generations depart, which way will the trend go?  Will libraries stay ahead of the curve?

Continue reading Martha M. Yee: Will The Response Of The Library Profession To The Internet Be Self-Immolation?

Thomas Mann: The Changing Nature of the Catalog and Its Integration with Other Discovery Tools. A Critical Review

Mann, T. (2006, April 3). The Changing Nature of the Catalog and Its Integration with Other Discovery Tools. Final Report. March 17, 2006. Prepared for the
Library of Congress by Karen Calhoun. A Critical Review
by Thomas Mann. Library of Congress Professional Guild, AFSCME, Local 2910.

Calhoun is primarily concerned with research libraries, but I believe her conclusions are more broadly applicable to all libraries, and my comments in the previous post reflect that.  Mann, though, is specifically concerned with research libraries, academia, and scholarship, so I will share his focus and mostly constrain my comments to the field of research libraries.

In the real world … the goal of any business is to make a profit–which is not the same thing as the goal of increasing market share.  … the very funding that enables research libraries to continue in operation is not dependent on market place forces to begin with. (pp.3-4).

This is a direct shot at Calhoun’s report, and at first glance it appears to strike home.  The goal of libraries obviously isn’t to make profits.  But then again, some would argue that market share is a fair measure of library performance–libraries want their base to choose them over alternative sources of information.  Businesses and libraries can have different motivations and still compete with each other.  Mann clearly disagrees though–he believes that research libraries should primarily aim to serve the small population of serious researchers.  I think Mann has a valid point of view–I don’t completely agree with his conclusions but I believe they are deserving of serious consideration.  But he is mistaken to think that libraries, research or otherwise, are free from market forces; taken to the logical extreme, a library with no users has no value.  Well before that point, a dwindling pool of users would quickly lead to reduced funding.  A death-spiral of reduced use and budget cuts could easily result.

Continue reading Thomas Mann: The Changing Nature of the Catalog and Its Integration with Other Discovery Tools. A Critical Review

Karen Calhoun: The Changing Nature of the Catalog and its Integration with Other Discovery Tools

Preface:

I found this wonderful quote in the midst of writing the below entry. I think it’s wonderfully apropos to the discussion.

Those who assume hypotheses as first principles of their speculations … may indeed form an ingenious romance, but a romance it will still be. –Roger Cotes, Preface to Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, Second Ed., 1713 (though I found the quote in Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver)

Calhoun, K. (2006). The Changing Nature of the Catalog and its Integration with Other Discovery Tools. Prepared for the Library of Congress.

[Technology has] created an era of discontinuous change in research libraries—a time when the cumulated assets of the past do not guarantee future success. …  The catalog is in decline, its processes and structures are unsustainable, and change needs to be swift. … Notwithstanding widespread expansion of digitization projects, ubiquitous e-journals, and a market that seems poised to move to e-books, the role of catalog records in discovery and retrieval of the world’s library collections seems likely to continue for at least a couple of decades and probably longer (p.5).

Continue reading Karen Calhoun: The Changing Nature of the Catalog and its Integration with Other Discovery Tools