Featured Entries

  • Discovery vs discoverability ...  – January 02, 2013 – I have been interested in the different dynamics of the inside-out and outside-in library for a while (see here for example). One especially interesting characteristic is the quite different approach to discovery in each case, even though this distinction has not yet crystallized in clear service categories. I was struck...read full entry...
  • Two things prompted by a new website: space as a service and full library discovery – August 31, 2012 – Drawn by a Tweet I looked at Stanford's very nice new library website just now. I only spent a few minutes there but I was immediately and strongly struck by two things. Each makes so much sense that I imagine they will become routine. The first was the foregrounding of...read full entry...
  • Making things of interest Discoverable, Referencable, Relatable, ... – June 10, 2012 – I came across the Ernest Hemingway phrase 'gradually, then suddenly' in an online discussion recently. Here is the context on the useful Goodreads quotable quote page. It seemed a statement appropriate to our times, and especially apt to a recent phenomenon: the growing importance of large-scale knowledge bases which collect...read full entry...
  • Linking not typing ... knowledge organization at the network level – January 01, 2012 – 'Knowledge organization' seems a slightly quaint term now, but we don't have a better in general use. Take the catalogue. This has been a knowledge organization tool. When an item is added, the goal is that it is related to the network of knowledge that is represented in the catalogue....read full entry...
  • Internal boundary changes .. the library in the institution – March 31, 2011 – It has been interesting in recent years to see how library boundaries within universities have shifted as relationships with other campus providers potentially change. This is natural enough as the network has changed the way in which research, learning and administration are carried out within the university in important ways,...read full entry...
  • The library network and the scholarly record – February 13, 2011 – The library community is a highly interconnected one. Networks are motivated both by library mission and effective management of resources. This trend will accelerate as the Internet favors shared services, and libraries will see more benefit in building such shared services. The Hathi Trust is an important example. The growth...read full entry...
  • 3 stages of library websites ... – August 22, 2010 – While writing about subject pages and library websites the other day, it occurred to me that we might think of library websites in three stages - which emerged successively and continue to exist together. Always mindful of the rule of three ;-) We might clumsily call these stages: [1] fragmentary,...read full entry...
  • Sorting out demand ... Top tech trend 3 – August 08, 2010 – [This is 3. Here is 1 and 2.] I was pleased to participate in LITA’s Top Tech Trends panel at ALA this year (see the video and live coverage). We were each asked to talk about three trends: current, a bit further out, and a bit further out again. In...read full entry...
  • On the discrimination of curators and curations .... – July 25, 2010 – As existing practices evolve and new ones emerge it often takes time for the way in which we talk about them to settle down. There may be some interim terminological confusion. This has happened in our world with 'archive' for example. We can also see this happen with curation/curation/curator. In...read full entry...
  • Untangling the library systems environment – October 25, 2009 – NISO organized a meeting on library resource management a couple of weeks ago: I notice that the presentations are now available on the web. They make an interesting collection, and I return to them in a moment. I have written about the library systems environment in these pages from time...read full entry...
  • Community is the new content – October 18, 2009 – We are now very used to interacting with resources in a social context. The application of community to content, in terms of discussion, recommendation, reviews, ratings and so on, is evident in many of the services we use, and in some form in most of the major network servies we...read full entry...
  • Ebooks and/or digital books – August 20, 2009 – I was in a meeting with a group of folks from research libraries the other week. I was interested in a particular terminological issue: 'ebooks' and 'digital books' were each being used in conversation. I asked was there a pattern of consistent use here. 'Not complete consistency' was the answer,...read full entry...
  • Shifting the sourcing model  – July 19, 2009 – A recurrent theme of this blog has been that networking changes the way we think about organizational boundaries. So, we have seen a major shift to webscale which has reconfigured whole industries as well as individual organizations. Some obvious examples are the influence of Expedia/Orbitz/Travelocity on travel, Amazon on retail,...read full entry...
  • Libraries and catalogues: systemic attention – June 05, 2009 – The Research Information Network in the UK has released a timely report: Creating catalogues: bibliographic records in a networked world [Splash page; pdf]. It is concise and has a useful Summary and Key Findings section. I found it an interesting read, in no small part because it rehearses various key...read full entry...
  • Entrepreneurial skills are not given out with grant letters – May 03, 2009 – Ithaka produced a report last year - Sustainability and revenue models for online academic resources PDF - for the Strategic Content Alliance (SCA), a UK collaboration of cultural and educational organizations. They followed up with a series of case studies (scroll down the list of SCA publications to the sustainability...read full entry...
  • Always on: libraries in a world of permanent connectivity – January 07, 2009 – The January issue of First Monday has appeared and I am pleased to have an article in it about libraries and mobile communications. Here is the abstract: Mobile communication has been more widely adopted more quickly than any other technology ever (Castells, et al., 2007). It represents a diffusion of...read full entry...
  • The book and the cover up – November 15, 2008 – I spent a couple of hours in Heffer's in Cambridge a while ago. Turning a corner I was pleasantly surprised by a set of handsome books in fine covers especially set out for inspection. It turned out they were a special issue to mark the 30 year anniversary of the...read full entry...
  • Blogging and Montaigne: musing and raving, humours and conceits – October 19, 2008 – I returned from my travels last night to find a new edition of the Atlantic waiting for me. It grabbed attention as it has been redesigned, and I liked the redesign. But also, my eye was caught by the title of Andrew Sullivan's essay 'Why I blog'. Sullivan's whole essay...read full entry...
  • Stitching costs – October 08, 2008 – We are familiar with switching costs, the costs of changing a supplier. I may decide not to change my phone or email arrangements, for example, because I do not want to incur the effort of notifying all my contacts. Libraries are very familiar with switching costs given the range of...read full entry...
  • Stuck in the middle .... – August 03, 2008 – Much of our current model of network information and communication behavior is in the middle ground, it is based on the personal computer (desk- or lap-top) as a consumption target and the organizational website as the delivery target. In other words, the library website is the front door to network...read full entry...
  • Name authorities – July 14, 2008 – Libraries have invested significantly in name authority work over the years, and have created extensive infrastructure to help manage names of people and organizations. The relationship between this work and broader interest in this topic is something that will need to be addressed in coming years if this work is...read full entry...
  • Some thoughts about egos, objects, and social networks ... – April 06, 2008 – More of a linked list of other people's thoughts ... about egos and objects. I quote some pieces below: all of the posts are suggestive and worth reading. The linking theme is that people connect and share themselves through 'social objects', pictures, books, or other shared interests, and that successful...read full entry...
  • The two ways of Web 2.0 – March 02, 2008 – I find Web 2.0 increasingly confusing as a label; no surprise there. This is not just because of its essential vagueness, but because I think it tends to be used in a couple of very different ways. Where this happens there is bound to be some confusion. Schematically, I will...read full entry...
  • Library process automation: the ecology of providers – January 20, 2008 – Just as I began to see messages about the publication of Marshall Breeding's report on his survey of library perceptions of their system vendor I was reading The new economics of the BI market by Jerry Held on The Database Column blog. He talks about consolidation within the BI (Business...read full entry...
  • The less common reader – January 06, 2008 – The much-discussed, and somewhat contested, NEA report on reading came out at around the same time as The Uncommon Reader, a fictional account by Alan Bennett of the late discovery of reading by the Queen (of England). The conjunction was discussed in the New York Times: PERHAPS the most fantastical...read full entry...
  • Logistics and synchronization: making data work harder – November 20, 2007 – Updated: 11/21/07 I have spoken about library logistics before. Logistics is about moving information, materials and services through a network cost-effectively. Resource sharing is supported by a library logistics apparatus. The emerging e-resource discovery to delivery chain, tied together with resolution services, is a logistics challenge. Many of the e-resource...read full entry...
  • Quotes of the day (and other days?): persistent academic discourse – October 28, 2007 – Here is Grainne Conole, professor of e-learning at the Open University writing about academic papers, conference papers, and blogging: Coming back to the question of which represents academic discourse – to my mind it’s all three – in different ways writing a paper, giving a presentation and blogging all help...read full entry...
  • The network reconfigures the library systems environment – July 06, 2007 – One of the main issues facing libraries as they work to create richer user services is the complexity of their systems environment. Consider these pictures which I have been using in presentations for a while now. Reductively, we can think of three classes of systems - (1) the classic ILS...read full entry...
  • Systemic change: CIC and Google – June 06, 2007 – Today Google and CIC announce an agreement to digitize ten million volumes across the CIC libraries. Google has been adding new partners since the first announcement was made about the Google 5. Some folks have wondered what rationale has governed selection of partner opportunities. We do not know, but they...read full entry...
  • Four sources of metadata about things – May 20, 2007 – I think it is useful to think of four sources of descriptive metadata in libraries. These are not mutually exclusive, and one of the interesting questions we have to address is how they will be mobilized effectively together. I don't have good names for these. How about: professional, contributed, programmatically...read full entry...
  • Books are technology too – April 16, 2007 – The Google digitization of books appears to have caught the public imagination. Recent weeks have seen high profile articles in The Economist [subscription required]and The New Yorker as well as several newspaper pieces (see the links and response on this OUP blog entry for example). Google Book Search is a...read full entry...
  • Registries: the intelligence in the network – August 20, 2006 – Interaction between systems and services on the network requires intelligence. Intelligence about what is in the environment (search or resolution targets, for example), about how to interact with found entities (addresses or interface specifications, for example), about who is authorized to do what, and so on. Think of two parallels....read full entry...
  • Discovery and disclosure – August 08, 2006 – Science Library Pad has a couple of posts about libraries and the long tail. He makes the following interesting point contrasting 'availability' with 'discoverability':For example, PhotoBucket is in the availability business. You get a bucket of storage, you dump your photos in. It is mostly not in the discoverability business....read full entry...
  • Lifting out the catalog discovery experience – May 14, 2006 – I have been talking to a variety of groups in recent weeks, and the future of the catalog has risen to the top of the list in discussion and questions. The catalog is a topic of major debate. However, this discussion is really raising a set of broader issues about...read full entry...
  • Libraries, logistics and the long tail – February 15, 2006 – [NOTE: this blog post formed the basis of a subsequent article: Libraries and the Long Tail: Some Thoughts about Libraries in a Network Age D-Lib Magazine, Vol. 12, No. 4, April 2006. http://www.dlib.org/dlib/april06/dempsey/04dempsey.html] [Warning: long, long, long] Those discussions of the long tail that I have seen or heard in...read full entry...
  • Circulating intentional data – November 27, 2005 – I have posted a couple of times recently about intentional data, data that records choices and behaviors. I mentioned holdings data, ILL records, circulation records, and database usage records. One could extend this list to any data which records an interaction or choice. We are used to looking at transaction...read full entry...
  • Discover, locate, ... vertical and horizontal integration – November 20, 2005 – I was involved in some work years ago which developed the discover-locate-request-deliver string of verbs to talk about integrating library services. One emphasis of the work was that discovery was one part only of a whole chain (discovery2delivery - D2D) through which requirements were met. Requiring the user to complete...read full entry...
  • Metasearch: a boundary case – August 29, 2005 – A couple of metasearch reports have been recently released. One, carried out as part of an NSDL project at the California Digital Library, proposes 'approaches, principles and practices' which might be applied by anybody evaluating integrated search options [pdf]. The second, the RLG Metasearch Survey Report, discusses member experiences and...read full entry...
  • Library logistics (again) – August 07, 2005 – I have suggested in these pages that logistics is a central part of what we do. Logistics is about moving information, materials and services through a network cost-effectively. Resource sharing is supported by a library logistics apparatus. The emerging e-resource discovery to delivery chain, tied together with resolution services, is...read full entry...
  • Libraries, maps and platforms – June 27, 2005 – Thom previews Mike Teets' library mapping demo on the evolving Product works page. This page will be enhanced in coming weeks to showcase various of the ongoing initiatives which will find their way into OCLC services. Google Maps seems to have sparked a growing interest in location-based services, partly because...read full entry...
  • In the flow – June 24, 2005 – Workflow is important. We often think of the network as multiple individual opportunities: a mass of websites. However, just as we increasingly work, learn, research, and play in a network environment, so will services evolve to reduce effort and improve effectiveness. These services will support flow construction and resource integration...read full entry...
  • All that is solid melts into flows .... – May 31, 2005 – Like most people ;-), I tend to think about metadata as 'schematized statements about resources': schematized because machine understandable; statements because they involve a claim about the resource by a particular agent; resource because any identifiable object may have metadata associated with it. Metadata is useful because it relieves a...read full entry...
  • The user interface that isn't – May 15, 2005 – Increasingly we need to think about library services in the context of the full web of user experience. This is easy to say, but it is rather more difficult to tease out what it means. One way to think about it is to think about some of the characteristics of...read full entry...
  • Recombinance all the way up ... remixing all the way down – May 06, 2005 – I have been using recombinance quite a lot in the last year or two to talk about how network flow affects structures. You can tell that I am generationally challenged: I should be saying remixing, which is cropping up in places in the same sense. This is happening to structures...read full entry...
  • Just how simple? – May 05, 2005 – So, thinking about some recent posts .... In the Bosworth presentation [ppt] mentioned below, the following desirable attributes of a 'web of data' are proposed: simple, standard, sloppy, and scalable. This is based on his view of what has made the web successful. Constrain choices and keep it simple. As...read full entry...
  • Metasearch, google and the rest – March 20, 2005 – How quickly things can change! Last year there were discussions about the Google-busting potential of metasearch. How naive. This year there are discussions about the metasearch-busting potential of Google Scholar. Let us wait and see. Clearly there are various issues with metasearch: the variety of data and interfaces that has...read full entry...
  • The integrated library system that isn't  – February 22, 2005 – One can read the phrase Integrated Library System (ILS) in two ways: as a system for the integrated library, or as an integrated system for the library. Although the latter is what was probably meant by the term, neither is an accurate description of what the ILS has become. In...read full entry...
  • Making data work harder – January 08, 2005 – As more activities move into a network space so more areas of our life are shedding data. This data is increasingly being mined for intelligence which drives services. And with data, quantity, as they say, has a quality all of its own. A major attribute of both Google and Amazon...read full entry...