Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Notes from the event "The Google Books Settlement and the Future of Information Access"

I often start blog posts, then save them to finish later. Sometimes later is "much later" like this one. (Amazing that it took me so long to finish a blog post that is so brief!)

In August, there was a one-day conference entitled "The Google Books Settlement and the Future of Information Access". The web site includes videos from the event. In addition, these two blog posts may be of interest to you:

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Monday, September 28, 2009

For New Yorkers: Report on the Meeting of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, Sept. 25

On September 25, 2009, members of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries met at the METRO offices in New York City. As I have done since I joined the Council two years ago, I am providing my notes here for everyone to read. These are not the official minutes from the meeting. If any at the meeting has a correction, please let me know. Questions (from anyone) are always welcome.

In attendance were:
  • Bridget Quinn-Carey
  • Jerry Nichols
  • Sam Simon
  • Norm Jacknis (chair)
  • Ellen Bach (by phone)
  • Sara Kelly Johns
  • Barbara Hamlin
  • Tim Johnson
  • Jill Hurst-Wahl
Absent were:
  • David S. Ferriero
  • John Monahan
Also in attendance from the State Library were:
  • Bernard Margolis
  • Loretta Ebert
  • John Brock
Bernie Margolis has been writing periodic updates to the library community. The archives of these updates can be found at

NormJacknisNewly Appointed Members: The terms of Ellen Bach, David Ferriero and Norm Jacknis are ending at the end of September. In addition, the Council has one open spot due to Lucretia McClure's resignation within the last year, due to health reasons. The Board of Regents have appointed the following people to replace these members:
  • John Hammond (Potsdam, NY)
  • Dionne Mack-Harvin (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Mary Muller (Troy, NY)
  • Louise Sherby (New York, NY)
The five-year terms of these four people will begin on October 1.

By the way, David Ferriero has been nominated by the Obama administration to be the next Archivist of the United States. Congratulations David!

State Budget Update:
  • Good news - It is expected that all state aid to library systems will be paid by the end of the calendar year.
  • Cash-flow concerns with NYS government are continuing. This is impacting all areas.
  • It is likely that the 2010 budget for the State Library will be the same as 2009. With required increases to covers some cost areas (e.g., benefits), this means that there will be a virtual decrease of 7-8%.
  • Funding for the Office of Cultural Education continues to come from filing fees. Unfortunately, the fees do not cover the cost of operating the OCE, which include the State Library, State Museum and State Archive. The Council discussed options that might be pursued in conversations at the State level.
New Leadership in SED/Board of Regents:
Broadband Initiatives: The State Library is seeking money from several sources for its broadband initiatives, including federal grants. The grant applications from the State Library to the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) program total $34 million.

While much of the state has access to broadband Internet connections, there are some areas that do not. In addition, some areas lack broadband competition which means that their access is expensive. Having access to high-speed Internet connections is important for citizens of NYS either through their homes or local libraries because Internet access is increasingly vital for educational and job opportunities. Broadband access also has a positive impact on economic development.

LSTA Grants to Library Systems for 2010-2012:
It is hoped that these can be increased by $100,000/year to NYS libraries.

NYCIS Vision/NOVELny and ARIA:
NYCIS is the New York State Comprehensive Information System. ARIA is the Academic Research Information Access (ARIA) act. My notes here are truly skimpy. I would suggesting reading testimony given by Bernie Margolis for information on this idea.

The Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award: The Council discussed continued funding for this award as well as how to promote it more broadly. "Named after Joseph F. Shubert, former State Librarian, the Award is given to individual libraries and to library consortia to recognize achievements that improve the quality of library service to their users. The Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award recognizes that attainment of excellence often happens in small steps; is a process, not a final product; and focuses on meeting user needs. Yet, the result of the process assures a comprehensive approach to excellence in libraries and information services." Recipients are announced in the fall and they receive the award at the NYLA conference.

School Library Summit: Action steps from the Summit can be found at

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner from the American Association of School Librarians can be found at While these are fine, NYS need to develop its own standards.

The Advisory Council voted to endorse the need for separate information literacy standards within New York State.

Loretta Ebert, Bernie Margolis & John BrockResearch Library Update:
The NYS budget problems are impacting the Research Library. Voluntary separation packages have been offered in order to decrease the number of staff and to save money. These staff members will not be replaced. Voluntary staff reductions can have an uneven impact, which the State Library will need to deal with.

It is hoped that Saturday hours can be implemented at the State Library. Loretta and Bernie discussed the options and concerns in regards to this. They know that the increased number of hours will be useful to the community and are committed to finding a way of making it happen.

Next Meeting:
The next Regents Advisory Council on Libraries meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4 at the METRO offices in NYC.

Herald SquareFinal Thoughts: When I first joined the Council, I sensed that some people didn't think it was relevant. As I attend meetings, engage in discussions, and interact with Regents and legislators, I see that this Council provides a voice and point of view that is valued. When we speak, people -- people who make a difference in the future of our libraries -- do listen.

If you are a member of the library community in NYS, I encourage you to interact with members of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries. Tell us your concerns and your ideas for improving library services in NYS. We need your input, so that our input to the Regents is well-informed and relevant to what you are doing now and in the future.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jill's Schedule -or- why isn't she blogging more?

SU lunchtimeI am beginning blog erratically because of my schedule. I am teaching three graduate classes in Syracuse University's iSchool, consulting, and snatching bits of time to enjoy the late summer/early fall weather. With my current schedule, something has to "give" and that seems to be blogging. Rather than blogging daily, it looks like I'll be blogging less often (weekly or maybe a bit more often).

Am I doing any speaking this fall? Yes:
Greenspace SyracuseI had hope to attend iPRES this fall, but have decided that fitting that in-between other commitments was a little "ambitious". Instead, I hope to read, listen to or watch whatever content is produced out of that event.

What am I teaching this fall? I'm teaching three graduate classes:
  • Creating, Managing & Preserving Digital Assets (IST 677) [taught online using Blackboard CE]
  • Digital Libraries (IST 676) [taught online using Blackboard CE and SharePoint]
  • Business Resources & Strategic Intelligence (IST 626) [taught on campus]
It all makes for busy days and great discussions. And would have it no other way!

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Article: LOCKSS Chief Scientist Speaks at Library of Congress

Article from Library of Congress Digital Preservation Newsletter, Sept. 2009.

LOCKSS Chief Scientist Speaks at Library of Congress

David Rosenthal, Chief Scientist of the LOCKSS program, spoke recently at the Library of Congress on How Are We Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents? Rosenthal’s talk was a reprise of his widely-discussed plenary at the Spring 2009 Coalition for Networked Information Task Force meeting. His presentation was filmed and is available as a webcast.

Rosenthal began with a provocative question, musing on whether the current digital infrastructure constructed over the past 20 years had actually saved anything from oblivion. He said he found little evidence that it had, and framed his argument as a subtle rebuttal to Jeff Rothenberg’s 1995 Scientific American paper “Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Information.”

Read more about Rosenthal’s talk at

As a work of the U.S. federal government, this newsletter is not protected by copyright. See Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105.
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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

John Unsworth's definition of a digital library

In 2000, John Unsworth then the Director, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia, provided this definition of a digital library in his paper "The Scholar in the Digital Library":
A "digital library," in this discussion, means something more than the Web at large: it means an intentional collection of digital resources assembled, catalogued, indexed, preserved, and presented to serve the needs of scholarship. The digital library can exist outside the university--and increasingly, we will see them come into being in the form of the archives of corporations (Corning, for example, has mountains of historical data about its own operations, its own research, its own innovations)--but even in those cases, the purpose is more or less the same (Corning wants their engineers to be able to bring past experience to bear on current research agendas). To be called a "digital library" in the sense that I mean it here, the institution in question would have to present full-text (and full-image) resources, not just finding aids that point to boxes on a shelf--not that these aren't very important: they're simply not what I'm talking about here.
I am still collecting definitions of what a digital library is. If you have one that I should see, please let me know. Thanks!

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Event: Museum Computer Network, Nov. 11-14, 2009

From an email message.

Join the Museum Computer Network for the 37th annual conference in Portland, Oregon, November 11th 14th.

Museum Information, Museum Efficiency: Doing More with Less!


Join MCN for four days of programming with innovative sessions panels, papers, case studies, and workshops that illustrate how institutions are effectively functioning and planning to function during the tough times ahead.

Visit to view the preliminary program and for registration, hotel & travel information.


About the Museum Computer Network

Mission: The Museum Computer Network (MCN) supports the greater museum community by providing continuing opportunities to explore, implement, and disseminate new technologies and best practices in the field.

Founded in 1967, MCN is a nonprofit organization with members representing a wide range of information professionals from hundreds of museums and cultural heritage institutions in the United States and around the world. MCN helps museum information professionals and people
interested in technology in the cultural heritage community seek out and share ideas and information through a wide range of activities, including an annual conference, special interest groups, website, and other outstanding resources such as the new MCN Project Registry at
MuseTechCentral (

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Guest Blogger, Ben Goldman, on selection criteria

I'm delighted to have Ben Goldman contribute this guest blog post. Ben is a graduate of the iSchool at Syracuse University (MSLIS 2009). He is now the Digital Programs Archivist at American Heritage Center (University of Wyoming). Last month, Ben attended the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Annual Conference which moved him to think deeply and write. Ben sent back a short thought from the conference and was persuaded to write something more on selection criteria.

Ben and I would enjoy hearing your thinking on "selection criteria". Please leave a comment or consider writing a blog post in response.

The phrase ‘selection criteria’ is an interesting one. Paul Conway from the iSchool at the University of Michigan gave a short presentation at SAA on how experienced researchers feel about our digitization efforts. In general, those he interviewed somewhat mistrust our selection activities. They wonder what was not chosen and why, and who decided it was not worthy. He’s working on some articles that will express these assertions through more scientific means.

I find the argument convincing since it’s existed in archives for quite awhile. Subjectivity is present in many of our professional choices, from what we collect or don’t collect, to what we keep or discard within a collection, to how we choose to arrange and describe materials. These choices have definite consequences on the future understanding of the materials. Researchers have long wondered why and how archivists make these decisions, so it’s only natural they would wonder the same concerning our ‘selection criteria.’ 

I am not sure how most institutions decide what to digitize. I suspect that, like the American Heritage Center, most digitization is done in response to patron requests or as part of stand-alone - and possibly grant-funded - projects. The former leaves us with a mass of scattered material from random collections. And the latter is not likely to be a complete digitization of collection items; in reality it typically leaves out certain items for a variety of reasons (duplication, quality, importance, etc.). Either way, we are likely to have users that a) don’t understand why we’ve digitized what we have, and b) wonder what else we have that is related to the digitized items.

I am starting to think we need to be much more transparent about how we go about selecting for digitization, in the same way the profession has started to move towards more transparency in how we arrange and describe collections. As such, I think we need to make an effort to express why selected material was digitized. But I hardly think that is enough. I think we can also move toward models of digitization that leave users with fewer gaps and fewer concerns of the type expressed by researchers to Dr. Conway.

At the AHC, we’re been tossing around the idea of a ‘no-item scanning’ rule, where we only scan, at minimum, whole folders at a time. If a patron requests just one scan, we’d give them their scan, but take the additional time to scan the rest of the material in the folder. So when the next researcher comes to our digital collections, they won’t find a single scan from an entire folder and wonder what else is there, or why this one scan was chosen. They’d find the item plus all related material from the folder – a complete folder scan. The same would go for project-based digitization (though we’re trying to move beyond ‘projects’): we would scan whole parts – the folder, box, or series.

Would users like this? They may, after all, still wonder, ‘why this folder?’ But they wouldn’t be wondering, ‘what else is in this folder?’ and I think that would be a major step forward.