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    Answers from your OPAC?

    April 9th, 2008

    OK, this is cool.  As blogged on Catalogablog yesterday.  Go to this sample record at the American University of Rome Library and double-click any word you see on the display there, e.g. Arlington.  Up pops a little info on the person, word or whatever.  Powered by Answer Tips.

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    Krista Godfrey came to talk about Second Life

    March 20th, 2008

    Krista Godfrey of McMaster University came up to York on Tuesday to talk about what they’re doing in Second Life. She blogged about it, and includes a link to her slides.

    It was a most interesting talk. Few of us had seen Second Life in action before. The general feeling here, I think, is that we’re not going to get into Second Life or any other online environments very soon, but we’ll follow what Mac is doing and see how things develop. It’s good they’re investigating.

    Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology?

    March 13th, 2008

    Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology is an interesting post by Tom Scheinfeldt, director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason U, and one of the people behind Zotero, a great tool that we’re all interested in. He talks some differences in how history was done in the 19th century, in the 20th, and how it’s done now.

    Late 19th and early 20th century scholarship was dominated not by big ideas, but by methodological refinement and disciplinary consolidation. Denigrated in the later 20th century as unworthy of serious attention by scholars, the 19th and early 20th century, by contrast, took activities like philology, lexicology, and especially bibliography very seriously. Serious scholarship was concerned as much with organizing knowledge as it was with framing knowledge in an ideological construct….

    I believe we are at a similar moment of change right now, that we are entering a new phase of scholarship that will be dominated not by ideas, but once again by organizing activities, both in terms of organizing knowledge and organizing ourselves and our work. My difficulty in answering the question “What’s the big idea in history right now?” stems from the fact that, as a digital historian, I traffic much less in new theories than in new methods. The new technology of the Internet has shifted the work of a rapidly growing number of scholars away from thinking big thoughts to forging new tools, methods, materials, techniques, and modes or work which will enable us to harness the still unwieldy, but obviously game-changing, information technologies now sitting on our desktops and in our pockets. These concerns touch all scholars. Our Zotero research management tool is used by three quarters of a million people, all of them grappling with the problem of information overload. And although much of the discussion remains informal, it’s no accident that Wikipedia is right now one of the hottest topics for debate amongst scholars.

    The Joy of LibX

    February 25th, 2008

    The Emerging Technology Interest Group (aka the Emerging Technology & Innovation Group) held a demonstration of LibX today over the lunch break. This was the first of a planned series of demonstration/discussion sessions that will in future be held on the Tuesday following Library Forum.

    Tim moderated the session and ran through the installation and configuration of the York University edition of the LibX toolbar and some of its main features. A lively discussion followed and Bill and Stacy shared some of their LibX experiences and introduced the group to another useful Firefox extension the OpenURL Referrer. This is an excellent and recommended companion to LibX. John mentioned that LibX uses DOIs (Document Object Identifiers) and Bill showed us how LibX also uses COinS (Context Objext in Spans) to create active links in web pages.

    If you were unable to attend the session you can review the handout that was distributed.

    Organizing Blogs by Subject — Yahoo Pipes and Wizz Reader

    February 19th, 2008

    I’ve been playing with Yahoo Pipes for a while now. It’s a fairly straight forward and customizable RSS aggregator. One thing I really like about it is that you can collect a bunch of blog feeds and then display them chronologically. This sets them free from their respective blogs which sets me free from having to click on each blog to see what’s up.

    One Pipe I’ve created is dedicated to Library & Technology blogs. It collects posts from 38 blogs and serves them up chronologically. But I’m not terribly happy with the Yahoo display. I could grab the RSS and get at it through my browser, but I have to remember to check that. I tried one of those RSS to HTML sites to try and set my various subject collections up in an HTML table, but the display was unpredictable, and well, just not all that great to look at.

    Then I discovered the Wizz RSS News Reader extension for Firefox and I think this does the trick. Now I can see all of my subject collections freed from their original blogs all from the comfort of my browser (see the screen shot below). I sense this might be ‘the hard way’ but it’s working for me. :-)


    CNN using Perceptive Pixel

    February 7th, 2008

    CNN Brings Us Closer to Minority Report swallows a YouTube clip of a reporter using an amazing touch-screen system from Perceptive Pixel to move and resize a number of video feeds on a big screen. Wild stuff.

    Skills for the Digital Librarian

    February 7th, 2008

    This is not so much new or emerging but it’s an interesting study nonetheless: What Is Needed to Educate Future Digital Librarians: A Study of Current Practice and Staffing Patterns in Academic and Research Libraries.

    “… surveyed current digital library professionals in academic libraries in the United States to identify their activities and skills and to detect any gaps in their training. We analyzed input from the survey responses to learn more about the nature of digital library work practices and to identify common and necessary attributes (knowledge and skills) required of “digital librarians.” The findings from our study have implications for the design of digital library education that meets real workplace needs.”

    So take stock: have you got what it takes?

    Visual History of Integrated Library Systems

    February 3rd, 2008

    This chart created by Marshall Breeding is kinda neat. It’s a visual history of the development of the ILS from 1970-today.

    How’s Do You Feel About Your ILS?

    February 2nd, 2008

    The Digital Library Federation conducted a survey of academic libraries in the fall of 2007 to find out what sort of interest there was in exploring the “integration of ILS data with non-ILS discovery systems.” Of the 100 respondents 40% are looking to change their ILS and 35% of this group are considering open source solutions. That’s a fairly sizable number.

    The chair of the DLF group, John Mark Ockerbloom, referenced the report recently in a post on Everybody’s Library called ‘Blowing the lid off the ILS (and the providers’ chance to have a say)‘. He writes,

    What’s become increasingly clear to those of us trying to move information discovery forward is that we can no longer expect a single ‘integrated library system’ to satisfy our current and emerging collection discovery needs by itself.

    The post is really a follow up to an invitation for interested parties (developers, vendors, and other service providers) to participate in another DLF initiative to draft a ’set of functional requirements’ that could be used to develop ’standard machine interfaces that allow us to build and provide new discovery systems on top of whatever ILS we have …’

    Dan Scott spoke at OLA yesterday morning about the progress of the Evergreen implementation that Laurentian, Windsor and McMaster are working on.

    It’s all sounding good and evidence that movement away from the perceived restrictions of current proprietary integrated library systems is steadily gathering momentum.

    Ask MeFi question from grad student with lots of article PDFs

    January 30th, 2008

    How can I create an indexing system for the collection of scholarly journal articles that I’m quickly amassing? a psychology grad student asked on MetaFilter.

    Here we’d recommend RefWorks on ScholarsPortal. It’s interesting to see what the MeFi people recommend. Someone mentions Zotero, and when the next version of it is out (with support for saving information remotely, so it can be shared across different machines) it could pick up lots more users. It’s impressive now, but the isolated nature of it keeps me from using it.