Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wayback Wednesday: Looking back over 2011

I cannot let the last Wednesday in 2011 go by without looking backwards over the last 12 months. What stands out amid the growing din of the "news"?

  • Google shut down its newspaper digitization program. (post) This was one of many things that Google did away with in 2011, in an effort to rid itself of those products and services that have not had the desired impact. (article)  Of course, after its long shopping spree, something was bound to be let go. (post)
  • Google's amended Book Search settlement was rejected. (post) This was, of course, a surprise to no one.
  • In 2011, the Authors Guild turned its attention to the digitization work that the HathiTrust had been engaged in. (post)  The trial is scheduled to begin in November 2012. (article)
Georgia State 
  • I keep thinking that the copyright lawsuit against members of the George State University administration should be settled by now.  The judge was expected to release his decision in early fall.  I've searched for any recent news and found none. Because so many colleges and universities are using digital course reserves, this will have far reaching implications. (related blog post)
And...yes...those all (above) have to do with copyright. 
    Kenneth Crews (post), Clifford Lynch (post) and Henrik de Gyor 
    • I am always amazed by the people I get to talk to...from Henrik de Gyor (Another DAM Podcast), who is a fellow blogger, to people like Clifford Lynch and Kenny Crews. While these weren't news highlights for you, they were for me!
    Andrew Young & Martin Luther King IIIMartin King III and Ambassador Andrew Young 
    •  In April, I was invited to a meeting with Ambassador Andrew Young and Martin King III.  The photo on the right was taken on my iPhone and you can see Ambassador Young checking his iPhone!
    • Is this digitization related?  Yes.  JPMorgan Chase has been working with the King Center to digitization over one million documents.  (article)  This fall, Syracuse University's library announced plans to digitize audio and video materials in the King Center archive. (article)  The idea for SU to get involved with digitizing materials at the King Center was born at this meeting.
    • There were other digitization-related ideas that came out of this meeting, and I hope they come to fruition.
    • The never know who is interested in digitization! The project of your dreams may be waiting for you in the next meeting that you attend.
    Amazing Digitization Programs
    • There are many amazing digitization programs going on now and they people involved aren't always who you would imagine.  For example, it's JPMorgan Chase that is working with the King Center on its digitization efforts. JPMC didn't hand the project off to someone else, instead they learned what needed to be done, how to do it, and then got to work.
    • Among the programs that I should be following more closely is the Digital Public Library of America.  This sounds like an effort that more people and organizations need to know about and get involved in. 
    • The need to handle "big data" - which can be created through digitization - is growing, and so some of the "projects" people need to get involved in are around analysis, open access, preservation, etc.  These projects may not be glamorous, but they are definitely necessary.
    • We have so much born digital content now that comes to us in a variety of way, that digitization doesn't have that "oh wow" affect on people. People are concerned about ebooks, new apps, tablet computers, smartphones, etc.  Digitization remains important when people look for something from the non-computer era, but that isn't something that people do every day.  Does this mean that we should digitize less?  No.  But it does mean that we need to continue to educate people about why it is important.
    On a Personal NoteMap of the Atlas of New Librarianship
    • I wrote more than 130 blog posts this year in Digitization 101.  While that will sounds like a lot to some people, actually my blogging has slowed down...and my focus has shifted.  I find myself drawn more to copyright concerns these days, even though the topic of digitization is important to me (and my teaching).   In 2012, look for a continued stream of posts on digitization, digital libraries, copyright, etc., but don't be surprised if you see a greater proportion of blog posts on copyright.
    • Teaching at Syracuse University has kept me quite busy.  (Sometimes too busy!)  Yet this was a prolific year for me in terms of publications.  In March, The Information and Knowledge Professional's Career Handbook written by Ulla de Stricker and I was released and has received positive reviews.  In April, The Atlas of New Librarianship, which was written and edited by David Lankes, was released.  It includes a section on "special librarians" written by Ruth Kneale and I.  And finally, Academic Entrepreneurship and Community Engagement: Scholarship in Action and the Syracuse Miracle which contains a chapter that I wrote.
    • I've done my best to enjoy every day!  I hope you've done the same.

    Tuesday, December 27, 2011

    Events: Upcoming conferences that may be of interest to you

    I have not been posting regularly about upcoming conferences that may be of interest to you.  My apologies.  Here are a few that have recently appeared in my mail.

    Born of Disruption: An Emerging New Normal for the Information Landscape
    NFAIS Annual Conference
    Feb. 26-8, 2012
    Philadelphia, PA

    Future Perfect 2012: Digital Preservation by Design
    March 26-27, 2012
    Wellington, NZ

    DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: New Foundations: Creation - Curation - Use
    Sponsored by The Northeast Document Conservation Center
    June 13-15, 2012
    Boston, MA

    Blog Posts: Digital formats

    Carl Fleischhauer, a Digital Initiatives Project Manager in NDIIPP, has written two excellent blog posts on digital formats:
    These are not blog posts to be read quickly, so take your time and follow the links in them.

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Blog Post: Supporting Open Source Tools for Digital Preservation and Access

    As Bill LeFurgy writes:
    Cultural heritage organizations and others from around the world have developed a host of means to facilitate work during each phase of the digital content life cycle.  Many of these tools are open source, which permits broad community sharing.  A search for “digital preservation” on SourceForge, for example, currently yields over 30 programs.
    Read the full blog post to see what the Library of Congress has contributed to this effort.

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    May the holidays bring you joy, peace and love

    No matter which holiday you celebrate during this December, may it bring you joy, peace, love, good health, and hope for the future!

    Macy's holiday windows on 6th Ave. (NYC), 2007
    One of the Macy holiday windows from 2007.

    The words "library" and "librarian"

    Carnegie Library Building in downtown SyracuseOver the past several years, I have been involved in conversations about the respect that the words "library" and "librarian" receive.  Tell someone that you are going to a "library" and that person will instantly have an image of what the place might look like and what its services might be.  The word conjures familiar images, and often those images do not fit our current reality.  Libraries rely heavily on technology, contain cafes, might contain studios where people can work on creative endeavors, and can be quite noisy - which all fly in the face of that traditional image we all have.

    The same is true of the word "librarian".  Thousands of people around the word are professional librarians (with a masters degree), and they serve their users/patrons/customers/members/owners in a variety of different ways.  Often these people are not in physical libraries and they may not have the title of "librarian", yet they are part of the "library" profession.  Saying that they are a librarian communicates something about their skills and knowledge, as well as their values.  However, the word "librarian" can also put that person in a box that limits what people believe they can do.  Would you seek out a librarian to help you handle, organize, and analyze massive data sets?  Would you turn to a librarian for help in bringing an invention to life?  Would you put a librarian on the front lines in your operation, knowing that the person could access and analyze information quickly, and thus ensure that the front line team had the information it needed to make quick, accurate decisions?

    Ruth KnealeResearch conducted on behalf of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) during 2007-2009 showed that (and these are my interpretation of the results):
    • Many members did not hold the title of "librarian".  In fact, there were thousands of different job titles among the SLA members.
    • Although many didn't have the job title of librarian, a vocal segment of the membership did value the word and saw themselves as being librarians.
    • Those that hire "librarians" value their skills and knowledge.  If fact, it is the skill and knowledge that is most important, not that the person is a "librarian".
    • What we call ourselves - as librarians - may not be in agreement with the image that our employers have of us.  The word "librarian" may conjure the wrong image in their heads.  An image that is limited and limiting. 
    Which brings me to a question that was asked of Dave Lankes this fall:
    so which is more important, the name ‘librarian’ or what librarians could accomplish...?
    Chadwick SeagraveI must admit that this question made me stand still and think.  I have called myself a consultant, analyst, supervisor, manager, and professor...but have always considered myself at the core to be a librarian.  What if I totally stopped using that word; would their be a negative impact?  Could I use words that are more descriptive?  Could I use words that resonate better with the communities where I'll be talking about what my [library and information science] students can do for them?

    And what if people said, "gee...that kinda sounds like a librarian?"  I could acknowledge it and then point out that what we do now is so much more than the image that comes to mind.
    • We are the analysts and information organizers that people have been seeking.
    • We're the information and digital literacy trainers for the community.
    • We are the researchers and advisors for innovators and entrepreneurs that are bringing jobs back to economically stressed regions.
    • We are the people skilled in handling big data as well as ferreting out hidden details.
    Seattle Public LibraryFinally, when you go into a doctor's office, the person has his degree on the wall. The fact that the person has a degree gives you some level of confidence. This isn't just someone who was hired off the street to provide medical services. This is someone who was trained and vetted. The person was selected by the medical group because of the knowledge that person had acquired starting in medical school. In the same way, our employers need to look for people to handle their data who have the right degree for that activity. Too often organizations think that anyone can do it, but we know that is not true. They need to seek out the people who have studied that activity and who are intent on making it their life's mission (just like our doctors).

    I know...the words "library" and "librarian" are just words and how they are used or interpreted should not matter.  Sadly, however, it does matter and maybe not to you, but to a colleague that is job searching, a student that is graduating, or an organization that needs a skill and isn't sure where to find it.  In those and other situations, the words may hindering what is truly possible.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Podcast: Copyright & Commerce: Orphan Works & Fair Use in a Digital Age

    From the Beyond the Book web site:
    From the perspective of copyright, 2011 has been a year like so many others in the Digital Age. Suits and counter-suits over copyrighted text, music, film and video continue to fly in and out of court. The long-standing “Google Books” case is, for now, scheduled for trial in 2012, while the HathiTrust — a consortium of university libraries — has drawn a new lawsuit from authors for announcing plans to post online copyrighted texts that may or may not be “orphan works.”

    A panel of IP experts and commentators offered their answers and insights into these compelling issues ... at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Maria A. Pallante: The 12th Register of Copyrights and Director of the United States Copyright Office; Cecilia Kang: National technology reporter for the Washington Post; and Victor Perlman: General Counsel, American Society of Media Photographers spoke with CCC’s Chris Kenneally.

    The podcast is 77 minutes in length. (mp3)

    Wednesday, December 07, 2011

    Wayback Wednesday: Is every librarian a digital librarian?

    In September 2010, I wrote a Wayback Wednesday on digital libraries.  Now I want to write another post on the topic, but with a different focus.

    We have this concept of a digital library.  If you follow the links below, you will see that there are many definitions of what a digital library is. (more here) Very very simply put, a digital library is some manner of online resources.  There are graduate students who study digital libraries with a goal to become a digital librarian.  What the students learn how to do is to be a librarian whose tool set include the application of normal library ideas to a digital realm. Indeed, because most libraries now contain electronic/digital resources, every librarian is involved in a "digital library". 

    I interact daily with students that are interested in digital libraries and who want to take classes in the subject.  Yet, I look at courses such as "reference" and see the amount of digital content in them. Reference is not a course related to the area of digital libraries, yet many digital libraries are used in reference services.  Reference librarian are involved with contract negotiation, discussing the installation of digital resources, etc.  They need to understand a bit about how those digital resources are constructed, in order to teach how to use them.  Does that make a reference librarian a digital librarian?

    A cataloguer (or metadata librarian) may not have studied digital libraries, yet the person's work is vital for the creation of digital collections and digital libraries.  Are those workers digital librarians?

    I see students learning the latest technologies and delving into database construction, etc., but who do not take digital library specific courses. Yet when they graduate can they call themselves digital librarians?

    Or perhaps as hinted in the title of this post, the phrase "digital librarian" has outlived its usefulness.  Maybe it is time to admit that every librarian is a digital librarian.

    What do you think?

    Seattle Public LibraryPrevious blog posts: