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Journal of Web Librarianship: Web-Scale Discovery: Impact on Library Database Web Page Views and Usage

Wed, 2016-06-22 08:06
10.1080/19322909.2016.1191048
Zebulin Evelhoch

Library Tech Talk (U of Michigan): New Computer refresh cycle tool for the Library

Wed, 2016-06-22 00:00

The University of Michigan Library replaces roughly 1/4 of our computers every year. It is a long and complicated process when one considers the number of library staff and the number of computers (both in office and public areas where staff machines are used) involved. This year we use a locally developed tool to streamline the process.

Library Tech Talk (U of Michigan): New Computer refresh cycle tool for the Library

Wed, 2016-06-22 00:00

The University of Michigan Library replaces roughly 1/4 of our computers every year. It is a long and complicated process when one considers the number of library staff and the number of computers (both in office and public areas where staff machines are used) involved. This year we use a locally developed tool to streamline the process.

Library Tech Talk (U of Michigan): New Computer refresh cycle tool for the Library

Wed, 2016-06-22 00:00

The University of Michigan Library replaces roughly 1/4 of our computers every year. It is a long and complicated process when one considers the number of library staff and the number of computers (both in office and public areas where staff machines are used) involved. This year we use a locally developed tool to streamline the process.

Library Tech Talk (U of Michigan): New Computer refresh cycle tool for the Library

Wed, 2016-06-22 00:00

The University of Michigan Library replaces roughly 1/4 of our computers every year. It is a long and complicated process when one considers the number of library staff and the number of computers (both in office and public areas where staff machines are used) involved. This year we use a locally developed tool to streamline the process.

DuraSpace News: VIVO Updates for June 19–New Member U New Mexico, New Site U Wollongong, ALA

Wed, 2016-06-22 00:00

From Mike Conlon, VIVO project director

DuraSpace News: VIVO Updates for June 19–New Member U New Mexico, New Site U Wollongong, ALA

Wed, 2016-06-22 00:00

From Mike Conlon, VIVO project director

DuraSpace News: VIVO Updates for June 19–New Member U New Mexico, New Site U Wollongong, ALA

Wed, 2016-06-22 00:00

From Mike Conlon, VIVO project director

DuraSpace News: VIVO Updates for June 5–Be a VIVO Member, Showcase Your Scholarship

Wed, 2016-06-22 00:00

From Mike Conlon, VIVO project director

Showcase the scholarship at your institution!  This week, the VIVO membership drive began in earnest with an email to all VIVO community members.  I hope you received the email and are considering how your institution might financially support VIVO:

DuraSpace News: VIVO Updates for June 5–Be a VIVO Member, Showcase Your Scholarship

Wed, 2016-06-22 00:00

From Mike Conlon, VIVO project director

Showcase the scholarship at your institution!  This week, the VIVO membership drive began in earnest with an email to all VIVO community members.  I hope you received the email and are considering how your institution might financially support VIVO:

Karen Coyle: Catalog and Context, Part I

Tue, 2016-06-21 18:51
This multi-part post is based on a talk I gave in June, 2016 at ELAG in Copenhagen.

Imagine that you do a search in your GPS system and are given the exact point of the address, but nothing more.

Without some context showing where on the planet the point exists, having the exact location, while accurate, is not useful.



In essence, this is what we provide to users of our catalogs. They do a search and we reply with bibliographic items that meet the letter of that search, but with no context about where those items fit into any knowledge map.

Because we present the catalog as a retrieval tool for unrelated items, users have come to see the library catalog as nothing more than a tool for known item searching. They do not see it as a place to explore topics or to find related works. The catalog wasn't always just a known item finding tool, however. To understand how it came to be one, we need a short visit to Catalogs Past.

Catalogs Past
We can't really compare the library catalog of today to the early book catalogs, since the problem that they had to solve was quite different to what we have today. However, those catalogs can show us what a library catalog was originally meant to be.

A book catalog was a compendium of entry points, mainly authors but in some cases also titles and subjects. The bibliographic data was kept quite brief as every character in the catalog was a cost in terms of type-setting and page real estate. The headings dominated the catalog, and it was only through headings that a user could approach the bibliographic holdings of the library. An alphabetical author list is not much "knowledge organization", but the headings provided an ordered layer over the library's holdings, and were also the only access mechanism to them.

Some of the early card catalogs had separate cards for headings and for bibliographic data. If entries in the catalog had to be hand-written (or later typed) onto cards, the easiest thing was to slot the cards into the catalog behind the appropriate heading without adding heading data to the card itself.

Often there was only one card with a full bibliographic description, and that was the "main entry" card. All other cards were references to a point in the catalog, for example the author's name, where more information could be found.
Again, all bibliographic data was subordinate to a layer of headings that made up the catalog. We can debate how intellectually accurate or useful that heading layer was, but there is no doubt that it was the only entry to the content of the library.

The Printed Card
In 1902 the Library of Congress began printing cards that could be purchased by libraries. The idea was genius. For each item cataloged by LC a card was printed in as many copies as needed. Libraries could buy the number of catalog card "blanks" they required to create all of the entries in their catalogs. The libraries would use as many as needed of the printed cards and type (or write) the desired headings onto the top of the card. Each of these would have the full bibliographic information - an advantage for users who then would not longer need to follow "see" references from headings to the one full entry card in the catalog.


These cards introduced something else that was new: the card would have at the bottom a tracing of the headings that LC was using in its own catalog. This was a savings for the libraries as they could copy LC's practice without incurring their own catalogers' time. This card, for the first time, combined both bibliographic information and heading tracings in a single "record", with the bibliographic information on the card being an entry point to the headings.

Machine-Readable Card Printing
The MAchine Readable Cataloging (MARC) project of the Library of Congress was a major upgrade to card printing technology. By including all of the information needed for card printing in a computer-processable record, LC could take advantage of new technology to stream-line its card production process, and even move into a kind of "print on demand" model. The MARC record was designed to have all of the information needed to print the set of cards for a book; author, title, subjects, and added entries were all included in the record, as well as some additional information that could be used to generate reports such as "new acquisitions" lists.

Here again the bibliographic information and the heading information were together in a single unit, and it even followed the card printing convention of the order of the entries, with the bibliographic description at top, followed by headings. With the MARC record, it was possible to not only print sets of cards, but to actually print the headers on the cards, so that when libraries received a set they were ready to do into the catalog at their respective places.

Next, we'll look at the conversion from printed cards to catalogs using database technology.

-> Part II

Cynthia Ng: A Letter of Thanks

Tue, 2016-06-21 17:09
I have often thought that I have been fortunate to meet a lot of great people during my time in library school and since then in the working world. While I have thanked many of them in writing and in person, I wanted to reflect on how the combination of people and their support has … Continue reading A Letter of Thanks

DPLA: Catch up with DPLA at ALA Annual in Orlando

Tue, 2016-06-21 14:00

The American Library Association’s Annual Conference kicks off later this week in Orlando, Florida and DPLA staffers are excited to hit the road, connect with a fantastic community of librarians and show our support for the city of Orlando.  Here’s your guide to when and where to catch up with DPLA’s staff and community members at ALA Annual.  If you’ll be following the conference from afar, connect with us on Twitter and following the conference at #alaac16.

[S] = DPLA Staff Participating, [K] = Knight Foundation Sponsored Panel, [H] = DPLA Hub and/or Contributing Institution represented

FRIDAY, June 24, 2016 12:00pm – 2:00pm: Ebook Working Group Project Update [S]
Location: Networking Uncommons, Orange County Convention Center This meeting is open to all librarians curious about current issues, ongoing projects, and ways to get involved. Attendees will learn how the Ebook Working Group fits in with other library ebook groups, and explore the projects we currently work on, including the Library E-content Access Project (LEAP), SimplyE/Open eBooks, SimplyE for Consortia, Readers First and other library-created ebook projects. Current members of the working groups will have the opportunity to meet and share updates, and connect with potential new members. DPLA Staff Presenting: Michelle Bickert, Ebook Program Manager, and Rachel Frick, Business Development Director SATURDAY, June 25, 2016 8:30am – 10:00am: Linked Data – Globally Connecting Libraries, Archives, and Museums

In the past years, libraries have embraced their role as global participants in the Semantic Web. Developments in library metadata frameworks such as BibFrame and RDA built on standard data models and ontologies including RDF, SKOS and OWL highlight the importance of linking data in an increasingly global environment. What is the status of linked data projects in libraries and other memory institutions internationally? Come hear our speakers address current projects, including RightsStatements.org, opportunities and challenges.

Panelists: Gordon Dunsire, Chair, RDA Steering Committee, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Reinhold Heuvelmann, Senior Information Standards Specialist, German National Library; Richard Urban, Asst. Professor, School of Information, Florida State University

1:00pm – 2:30pm: Library Consortia, E-books and the Power of Libraries: Innovative Shared E-book Delivery Models from a Library Consortium near You [S]

This program will include an interactive panel discussion of the major trends in e-books and how library consortia are at the forefront of elevating libraries as a major player in the e-book market. Leading models from library consortia that showcase innovation and advocacy including shared collections using open source, commercial and hybrid platforms and the investigation of a national e-book platform for local content from self-published authors and independent publishers.

Panelists: Michelle Bickert, Digital Public Library of America; Veronda Pitchford, Director of Membership Development and Resource Sharing, Reaching Across Illinois Library System; Valerie Horton, Executive Director, Minitex; Greg Pronevitz, Executive Director, Massachusetts Library System

1:00pm – 2:30pm:  Transforming Libraries: Knight News Challenge Winners Announced [K]

For their latest Knight News Challenge, the Knight Foundation asked applicants to submit their best idea answering the question: “How might libraries meet 21st century information needs? This program will include a presentation of the newest winners of the challenge and a panel discussion on transformational change in the library field.

Panelists: Lisa Peet, Associate News Editor at Library JournalFrancesca Rodriquez. Foundation Officer at Madison Public Library Foundation; Matthew Phillips, Manager, Technology Development Team at Harvard University Library

3:00pm – 4:00pm: Can I Use It? New Tools for Determining Rights and (Re)Use Status for Our Digital Collections [S] [K] [H]

Two innovative approaches help libraries address rights and reuse status for growing digital collections. RightsStatements.org addresses the need for standardized rights statements through international collaboration around a shared framework implemented by the Digital Public Library of America, New York Public Library, and other institutions. The Copyright Review Management System provides a toolkit for determining copyright, building off the copyright status work for materials in HathiTrust.

Panelists: Emily Gore, Director for Content, Digital Public Library of America; Greg Cram, Associate Director, Copyright and Information Policy, The New York Public Library; Rick Adler, DPLA Service Hub Coordinator at University of Michigan, School of Information

SUNDAY, June 26, 2016 10:30am – 11:30am:  From the Macro to the Micro: How Small-Scale Digitization Can Make a Big Difference [K] [H]

Digitization programs can be resource rich, even when institutions may be resource poor. Developing a program for the digitization of cultural heritage materials benefits from planning at the macro level, with organizational buy-in and strategic considerations addressed. Once this foundation is in place,an organization can successfully implement a digitization service aligned with organizational mission that benefits important known stakeholders and the wider community. This panel will focus on digitization programs from these two perspectives with emphasis on the creation of a mobile digitization service and how this can be replicated to sustain small-scale digitization programs that can have a huge and positive impact – not only for the institution but for the communities they serve.

Panelists: Caroline Catchpole, Mobile Digitization Specialist at Metropolitan New York Library Council; Natalie Milbrodt, Associate Coordinator at Metadata Services at Queens Library; Jolie O. Graybill, Assistant Director at Minitex; Molly Huber, Outreach Coordinator at Minnesota Digital Library

Additional Knight Foundation Sponsored Panels:  See you in Orlando!

“Greetings from Orlando, The City Beautiful” postcard c. 1930-1945 from the collection of Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

DPLA: Catch up with DPLA at ALA Annual in Orlando

Tue, 2016-06-21 14:00

The American Library Association’s Annual Conference kicks off later this week in Orlando, Florida and DPLA staffers are excited to hit the road, connect with a fantastic community of librarians and show our support for the city of Orlando.  Here’s your guide to when and where to catch up with DPLA’s staff and community members at ALA Annual.  If you’ll be following the conference from afar, connect with us on Twitter and following the conference at #alaac16.

[S] = DPLA Staff Participating, [K] = Knight Foundation Sponsored Panel, [H] = DPLA Hub and/or Contributing Institution represented

FRIDAY, June 24, 2016 12:00pm – 2:00pm: Ebook Working Group Project Update [S]
Location: Networking Uncommons, Orange County Convention Center This meeting is open to all librarians curious about current issues, ongoing projects, and ways to get involved. Attendees will learn how the Ebook Working Group fits in with other library ebook groups, and explore the projects we currently work on, including the Library E-content Access Project (LEAP), SimplyE/Open eBooks, SimplyE for Consortia, Readers First and other library-created ebook projects. Current members of the working groups will have the opportunity to meet and share updates, and connect with potential new members. DPLA Staff Presenting: Michelle Bickert, Ebook Program Manager, and Rachel Frick, Business Development Director SATURDAY, June 25, 2016 8:30am – 10:00am: Linked Data – Globally Connecting Libraries, Archives, and Museums

In the past years, libraries have embraced their role as global participants in the Semantic Web. Developments in library metadata frameworks such as BibFrame and RDA built on standard data models and ontologies including RDF, SKOS and OWL highlight the importance of linking data in an increasingly global environment. What is the status of linked data projects in libraries and other memory institutions internationally? Come hear our speakers address current projects, including RightsStatements.org, opportunities and challenges.

Panelists: Gordon Dunsire, Chair, RDA Steering Committee, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Reinhold Heuvelmann, Senior Information Standards Specialist, German National Library; Richard Urban, Asst. Professor, School of Information, Florida State University

1:00pm – 2:30pm: Library Consortia, E-books and the Power of Libraries: Innovative Shared E-book Delivery Models from a Library Consortium near You [S]

This program will include an interactive panel discussion of the major trends in e-books and how library consortia are at the forefront of elevating libraries as a major player in the e-book market. Leading models from library consortia that showcase innovation and advocacy including shared collections using open source, commercial and hybrid platforms and the investigation of a national e-book platform for local content from self-published authors and independent publishers.

Panelists: Michelle Bickert, Digital Public Library of America; Veronda Pitchford, Director of Membership Development and Resource Sharing, Reaching Across Illinois Library System; Valerie Horton, Executive Director, Minitex; Greg Pronevitz, Executive Director, Massachusetts Library System

1:00pm – 2:30pm:  Transforming Libraries: Knight News Challenge Winners Announced [K]

For their latest Knight News Challenge, the Knight Foundation asked applicants to submit their best idea answering the question: “How might libraries meet 21st century information needs? This program will include a presentation of the newest winners of the challenge and a panel discussion on transformational change in the library field.

Panelists: Lisa Peet, Associate News Editor at Library JournalFrancesca Rodriquez. Foundation Officer at Madison Public Library Foundation; Matthew Phillips, Manager, Technology Development Team at Harvard University Library

3:00pm – 4:00pm: Can I Use It? New Tools for Determining Rights and (Re)Use Status for Our Digital Collections [S] [K] [H]

Two innovative approaches help libraries address rights and reuse status for growing digital collections. RightsStatements.org addresses the need for standardized rights statements through international collaboration around a shared framework implemented by the Digital Public Library of America, New York Public Library, and other institutions. The Copyright Review Management System provides a toolkit for determining copyright, building off the copyright status work for materials in HathiTrust.

Panelists: Emily Gore, Director for Content, Digital Public Library of America; Greg Cram, Associate Director, Copyright and Information Policy, The New York Public Library; Rick Adler, DPLA Service Hub Coordinator at University of Michigan, School of Information

SUNDAY, June 26, 2016 10:30am – 11:30am:  From the Macro to the Micro: How Small-Scale Digitization Can Make a Big Difference [K] [H]

Digitization programs can be resource rich, even when institutions may be resource poor. Developing a program for the digitization of cultural heritage materials benefits from planning at the macro level, with organizational buy-in and strategic considerations addressed. Once this foundation is in place,an organization can successfully implement a digitization service aligned with organizational mission that benefits important known stakeholders and the wider community. This panel will focus on digitization programs from these two perspectives with emphasis on the creation of a mobile digitization service and how this can be replicated to sustain small-scale digitization programs that can have a huge and positive impact – not only for the institution but for the communities they serve.

Panelists: Caroline Catchpole, Mobile Digitization Specialist at Metropolitan New York Library Council; Natalie Milbrodt, Associate Coordinator at Metadata Services at Queens Library; Jolie O. Graybill, Assistant Director at Minitex; Molly Huber, Outreach Coordinator at Minnesota Digital Library

Additional Knight Foundation Sponsored Panels:  See you in Orlando!

“Greetings from Orlando, The City Beautiful” postcard c. 1930-1945 from the collection of Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

Karen Coyle: Catalog and Context, Part II

Tue, 2016-06-21 04:13
In the previous post, I talked about book and card catalogs, and how they existed as a heading layer over the bibliographic description representing library holdings. In this post, I will talk about what changed when that same data was stored in database management systems and delivered to users on a computer screen.

Taking a very simple example, in the card catalog a single library holding with author, title and one subject becomes three separate entries, one for each heading. These are filed alphabetically in their respective places in the catalog.

In this sense, the catalog is composed of cards for headings that have attached to them the related bibliographic description. Most items in the library are represented more than once in the library catalog. The catalog is a catalog of headings.

In most computer-based catalogs, the relationship between headings and bibliographic data is reversed: the record with bibliographic and heading data, is stored once; access points, analogous to the headings of the card catalog, are extracted to indexes that all point to the single record.

This in itself could be just a minor change in the mechanism of the catalog, but in fact it turns out to be more than that.

First, the indexes of the database system are not visible to the user. This is the opposite of the card catalog where the entry points were what the user saw and navigated through. Those entry points, at their best, served as a knowledge organization system that gave the user a context for the headings. Those headings suggest topics to users once the user finds a starting point in the catalog.

When this system works well for the user, she has some understanding of where she was in the virtual library that the catalog created. This context could be a subject area or it could be a bibliographic context such as the editions of a work.

Most, if not all, online catalogs do not present the catalog as a linear, alphabetically ordered list of headings. Database management technology encourages the use of searching rather than linear browsing. Even if one searches in headings as a left-anchored string of characters a search results in a retrieved set of matching entries, not a point in an alphabetical list. There is no way to navigate to nearby entries. The bibliographic data is therefore not provided either in the context or the order of the catalog. After a search on "cat breeds" the user sees a screen-full of bibliographic records but lacking in context because most default displays do not show the user the headings or text that caused the item to be retrieved.

Although each of these items has a subject heading containing the words "Cat breeds" the order of the entries is not the subject order. The subject headings in the first few records read, in order:

  1. Cat breed
  2. Cat breeds
  3. Cat breeds - History
  4. Cat breeds - Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  5. Cat breeds
  6. Cat breeds - Thailand
  7. Cat breeds

If if the catalog uses a visible and logical order, like alphabetical by author and title, or most recent by date, there is no way from the displayed list for the user to get the sense of "where am I?" that was provided by the catalog of headings.

In the early 1980's, when I was working on the University of California's first online catalog, the catalogers immediately noted this as a problem. They would have wanted the retrieved set to be displayed as:

(Note how much this resembles the book catalog shown in Part I.) At the time, and perhaps still today, there were technical barriers to such a display, mainly because of limitations on the sorting of large retrieved sets. (Large, at that time, was anything over a few hundred items.) Another issue was that any bibliographic record could be retrieved more than once in a single retrieved set, and presenting the records more than once in the display, given the database design, would be tricky. I don't know if starting afresh today some of these features would be easier to produce, but the pattern of search and display seems not to have progressed greatly from those first catalogs.

In addition, it is in any case questionable whether a set of bibliographic items retrieved from a database on some query would reproduce the presumably coherent context of the catalog. This is especially true because of the third major difference between the card catalog and the computer catalog: the ability to search on individual words in the bibliographic record rather than being limited to seeking on full left-anchored headings. The move to keyword searching was both a boon and a bane because it was a major factor in the loss of context in the library catalog.

Keyword searching will be the main topic of Part III of this series.


Karen Coyle: Catalog and Context, Part II

Tue, 2016-06-21 04:13
In the previous post, I talked about book and card catalogs, and how they existed as a heading layer over the bibliographic description representing library holdings. In this post, I will talk about what changed when that same data was stored in database management systems and delivered to users on a computer screen.

Taking a very simple example, in the card catalog a single library holding with author, title and one subject becomes three separate entries, one for each heading. These are filed alphabetically in their respective places in the catalog.

In this sense, the catalog is composed of cards for headings that have attached to them the related bibliographic description. Most items in the library are represented more than once in the library catalog. The catalog is a catalog of headings.

In most computer-based catalogs, the relationship between headings and bibliographic data is reversed: the record with bibliographic and heading data, is stored once; access points, analogous to the headings of the card catalog, are extracted to indexes that all point to the single record.

This in itself could be just a minor change in the mechanism of the catalog, but in fact it turns out to be more than that.

First, the indexes of the database system are not visible to the user. This is the opposite of the card catalog where the entry points were what the user saw and navigated through. Those entry points, at their best, served as a knowledge organization system that gave the user a context for the headings. Those headings suggest topics to users once the user finds a starting point in the catalog.

When this system works well for the user, she has some understanding of where she was in the virtual library that the catalog created. This context could be a subject area or it could be a bibliographic context such as the editions of a work.

Most, if not all, online catalogs do not present the catalog as a linear, alphabetically ordered list of headings. Database management technology encourages the use of searching rather than linear browsing. Even if one searches in headings as a left-anchored string of characters a search results in a retrieved set of matching entries, not a point in an alphabetical list. There is no way to navigate to nearby entries. The bibliographic data is therefore not provided either in the context or the order of the catalog. After a search on "cat breeds" the user sees a screen-full of bibliographic records but lacking in context because most default displays do not show the user the headings or text that caused the item to be retrieved.

Although each of these items has a subject heading containing the words "Cat breeds" the order of the entries is not the subject order. The subject headings in the first few records read, in order:

  1. Cat breed
  2. Cat breeds
  3. Cat breeds - History
  4. Cat breeds - Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  5. Cat breeds
  6. Cat breeds - Thailand
  7. Cat breeds

If if the catalog uses a visible and logical order, like alphabetical by author and title, or most recent by date, there is no way from the displayed list for the user to get the sense of "where am I?" that was provided by the catalog of headings.

In the early 1980's, when I was working on the University of California's first online catalog, the catalogers immediately noted this as a problem. They would have wanted the retrieved set to be displayed as:

(Note how much this resembles the book catalog shown in Part I.) At the time, and perhaps still today, there were technical barriers to such a display, mainly because of limitations on the sorting of large retrieved sets. (Large, at that time, was anything over a few hundred items.) Another issue was that any bibliographic record could be retrieved more than once in a single retrieved set, and presenting the records more than once in the display, given the database design, would be tricky. I don't know if starting afresh today some of these features would be easier to produce, but the pattern of search and display seems not to have progressed greatly from those first catalogs.

In addition, it is in any case questionable whether a set of bibliographic items retrieved from a database on some query would reproduce the presumably coherent context of the catalog. This is especially true because of the third major difference between the card catalog and the computer catalog: the ability to search on individual words in the bibliographic record rather than being limited to seeking on full left-anchored headings. The move to keyword searching was both a boon and a bane because it was a major factor in the loss of context in the library catalog.

Keyword searching will be the main topic of Part III of this series.


M. Ryan Hess: Virtual Realty is Getting Real in the Library

Mon, 2016-06-20 23:41

My library just received three Samsung S7 devices with Gear VR goggles. We put them to work right away.

The first thought I had was: Wow, this will change everything. My second thought was: Wow, I can’t wait for Apple to make a VR device!

The Samsung Gear VR experience is grainy and fraught with limitations, but you can see the potential right away. The virtual reality is, after all, working off a smartphone. There is no high-end graphics card working under the hood. Really, the goggles are just a plastic case holding the phone up to your eyes. But still, despite all this, it’s amazing.

Within twenty-four hours, I’d surfed beside the world’s top surfers on giant waves off Hawaii, hung out with the Masai in Africa and shared an intimate moment with a pianist and his dog in their (New York?) apartment. It was all beautiful.

We’ve Been Here Before

Remember when the Internet came online? If you’re old enough, you’ll recall the crude attempts to chat on digital bulletin board systems (BBS) or, much later, the publication of the first colorful (often jarringly so) HTML pages.

It’s the Hello World! moment for VR now. People are just getting started. You can tell the content currently available is just scratching the surface of potentialities for this medium. But once you try VR and consider the ways it can be used, you start to realize nothing will be the same again.

The Internet Will Disappear

So said Google CEO Erik Schmidt in 2015. He was talking about the rise of AI, wearable tech and many other emerging technologies that will transform how we access data. For Schmidt, the Internet will simply fade into these technologies to the point that it will be unrecognizable.

I agree. But being primarily a web librarian, I’m mostly concerned with how new technologies will translate in the library context. What will VR mean for library websites, online catalogs, eBooks, databases and the social networking aspects of libraries.

So after trying out VR, I was already thinking about all this. Here are some brief thoughts:

  • Visiting the library stacks in VR could transform the online catalog experience
  • Library programming could break out of the physical world (virtual speakers, virtual locations)
  • VR book discussions could incorporate virtual tours of topics/locations touched on in books
  • Collections of VR experiences could become a new source for local collections
  • VR maker spaces and tools for creatives to create VR experiences/objects
Year Zero?

Still, VR makes your eyes tired. It’s not perfect. It has a long way to go.

But based on my experience sharing this technology with others, it’s addictive. People love trying it. They can’t stop talking about it afterward.

So, while it may be some time before the VR revolution disrupts the Internet (and virtual library services with it), it sure feels imminent.


M. Ryan Hess: Virtual Realty is Getting Real in the Library

Mon, 2016-06-20 23:41

My library just received three Samsung S7 devices with Gear VR goggles. We put them to work right away.

The first thought I had was: Wow, this will change everything. My second thought was: Wow, I can’t wait for Apple to make a VR device!

The Samsung Gear VR experience is grainy and fraught with limitations, but you can see the potential right away. The virtual reality is, after all, working off a smartphone. There is no high-end graphics card working under the hood. Really, the goggles are just a plastic case holding the phone up to your eyes. But still, despite all this, it’s amazing.

Within twenty-four hours, I’d surfed beside the world’s top surfers on giant waves off Hawaii, hung out with the Masai in Africa and shared an intimate moment with a pianist and his dog in their (New York?) apartment. It was all beautiful.

We’ve Been Here Before

Remember when the Internet came online? If you’re old enough, you’ll recall the crude attempts to chat on digital bulletin board systems (BBS) or, much later, the publication of the first colorful (often jarringly so) HTML pages.

It’s the Hello World! moment for VR now. People are just getting started. You can tell the content currently available is just scratching the surface of potentialities for this medium. But once you try VR and consider the ways it can be used, you start to realize nothing will be the same again.

The Internet Will Disappear

So said Google CEO Erik Schmidt in 2015. He was talking about the rise of AI, wearable tech and many other emerging technologies that will transform how we access data. For Schmidt, the Internet will simply fade into these technologies to the point that it will be unrecognizable.

I agree. But being primarily a web librarian, I’m mostly concerned with how new technologies will translate in the library context. What will VR mean for library websites, online catalogs, eBooks, databases and the social networking aspects of libraries.

So after trying out VR, I was already thinking about all this. Here are some brief thoughts:

  • Visiting the library stacks in VR could transform the online catalog experience
  • Library programming could break out of the physical world (virtual speakers, virtual locations)
  • VR book discussions could incorporate virtual tours of topics/locations touched on in books
  • Collections of VR experiences could become a new source for local collections
  • VR maker spaces and tools for creatives to create VR experiences/objects
Year Zero?

Still, VR makes your eyes tired. It’s not perfect. It has a long way to go.

But based on my experience sharing this technology with others, it’s addictive. People love trying it. They can’t stop talking about it afterward.

So, while it may be some time before the VR revolution disrupts the Internet (and virtual library services with it), it sure feels imminent.


District Dispatch: Re:create event draws crowd

Mon, 2016-06-20 21:08

Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson, via Flickr.

Re:create, the copyright coalition that includes members from industry and library associations, public policy think tanks, public interest groups, and creators sponsored a program – How it works: understanding copyright law in the new creative economy – to a packed audience at the US Capital Visitors Center. Speakers included Alex Feerst, Corporate Counsel from Medium; Katie Oyama, Senior Policy Counsel for Google; Becky “Boop” Prince, YouTube CeWEBrity and Internet New Analyst; and Betsy Rosenblatt, Legal Director for the Organization for Transformative Works. The panel was moderated by Joshua Lamel, Executive Director of Re:create. Discussion focused on new creators and commercial businesses made possible by the Internet, fair use, and freedom of expression.

We live in a time of creative resurgence; more creative content is produced and distributed now than in any time of history.  Some creators have successfully built profit-making businesses by “doing something they love,” whether it’s quilting, storytelling, applying makeup, or riffing on their favorite TV shows. What I thought was most interesting (because sometimes I get tired of talking about copyright) was hearing the stories of new creators – in particular, how they established a sense of self by communicating with people across the globe that have like-minded interests. People who found a way to express themselves through fan fiction, for example, found the process of creating and sharing with others so edifying that their lives were changed. Regardless of whether they made money or not, being able to express themselves with a diverse audience was worth the effort.

One story included a quilter from Hamilton, Missouri who started conducting quilting tutorials on YouTube. Her popularity grew to such an extent that she and her family – facing a tough economic time – bought an old warehouse and built a quilting store selling pre-cut fabrics. Their quilting store became so popular that fans as far away as Australia travel to see the store. And those people spent money in Hamilton. In four years, the Missouri Star Quilting Company became the biggest employee in the entire county, employing over 150 people, including single moms, retirees and students.

But enough about crafts. The panel also shared their thoughts on proposals to change “notice and take down” to “notice and stay down,” a position advocated by the content community in their comments on Section 512.  This provision is supposed to help rights holders limit alleged infringement and provide a safe harbor for intermediaries – like libraries that offer open internet service – from third party liability.  Unfortunately, the provision has been used to censor speech that someone does not like, whether or not copyright infringement is implicated. A timely example is Axl Rose, who wanted an unflattering photo of himself taken down even though he is not the rights holder of the photo. The speakers, however, did favor keeping Section 512 as it is.  They noted that without the liability provision, it is likely they would not continue their creative work, because of the risk involved in copyright litigation.

All in all, a very inspiring group of people with powerful stories to tell about creativity and free expression, and the importance of fair use.

The post Re:create event draws crowd appeared first on District Dispatch.

District Dispatch: Re:create event draws crowd

Mon, 2016-06-20 21:08

Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson, via Flickr.

Re:create, the copyright coalition that includes members from industry and library associations, public policy think tanks, public interest groups, and creators sponsored a program – How it works: understanding copyright law in the new creative economy – to a packed audience at the US Capital Visitors Center. Speakers included Alex Feerst, Corporate Counsel from Medium; Katie Oyama, Senior Policy Counsel for Google; Becky “Boop” Prince, YouTube CeWEBrity and Internet New Analyst; and Betsy Rosenblatt, Legal Director for the Organization for Transformative Works. The panel was moderated by Joshua Lamel, Executive Director of Re:create. Discussion focused on new creators and commercial businesses made possible by the Internet, fair use, and freedom of expression.

We live in a time of creative resurgence; more creative content is produced and distributed now than in any time of history.  Some creators have successfully built profit-making businesses by “doing something they love,” whether it’s quilting, storytelling, applying makeup, or riffing on their favorite TV shows. What I thought was most interesting (because sometimes I get tired of talking about copyright) was hearing the stories of new creators – in particular, how they established a sense of self by communicating with people across the globe that have like-minded interests. People who found a way to express themselves through fan fiction, for example, found the process of creating and sharing with others so edifying that their lives were changed. Regardless of whether they made money or not, being able to express themselves with a diverse audience was worth the effort.

One story included a quilter from Hamilton, Missouri who started conducting quilting tutorials on YouTube. Her popularity grew to such an extent that she and her family – facing a tough economic time – bought an old warehouse and built a quilting store selling pre-cut fabrics. Their quilting store became so popular that fans as far away as Australia travel to see the store. And those people spent money in Hamilton. In four years, the Missouri Star Quilting Company became the biggest employee in the entire county, employing over 150 people, including single moms, retirees and students.

But enough about crafts. The panel also shared their thoughts on proposals to change “notice and take down” to “notice and stay down,” a position advocated by the content community in their comments on Section 512.  This provision is supposed to help rights holders limit alleged infringement and provide a safe harbor for intermediaries – like libraries that offer open internet service – from third party liability.  Unfortunately, the provision has been used to censor speech that someone does not like, whether or not copyright infringement is implicated. A timely example is Axl Rose, who wanted an unflattering photo of himself taken down even though he is not the rights holder of the photo. The speakers, however, did favor keeping Section 512 as it is.  They noted that without the liability provision, it is likely they would not continue their creative work, because of the risk involved in copyright litigation.

All in all, a very inspiring group of people with powerful stories to tell about creativity and free expression, and the importance of fair use.

The post Re:create event draws crowd appeared first on District Dispatch.

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