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OCLC + Google = Forward Motion

OCLC announced that they would be sharing their bib records with Google.  This doesn’t include all records in Worldcat but instead those records made in coordination with Google Book Search items.  This link would allow users to locate items through either Google Book Search or Worldcat.org, and hopefully end up at their local library in the end.  I am curious to see how much more traffic gets pushed to the library from Google.

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Ranting on Berry’s Rants

flagpole

To get the full effect you may want to glance at this article first.

To be honest, I was hoping to see a punch line at the end of this article, so that the rather outlandish points delivered by the author could be accounted to blatant humor. Unfortunately it didn’t come and what lay before me was a piece of paranoid rhetoric that warned of the impending “end of days” for the professional librarian. True these are opinions but the knee-jerk reactions to the actions of new library leaders struggling to find a new voice for their libraries is shocking and without reason. Why wouldn’t we need to rethink our practices if the audience has changed its own vision for the library? In some libraries they constantly fight a battle to draw back their population from the migration to the “bookstore” or seclusion of the at home online experience. Even reference services are seeing a downturn in numbers, which could be a factor in their management’s decision to try something new and unexpected. What follows are my free flowing retorts to the article entitled “Blatant Berry: The Vanishing Librarians” published on LibraryJournal.com, 02/15/2008.

Click here to read the entire post.

WorldCat Link Manager – Making it easier to get what you need…

link

From their News feed, OCLC announced the new and improved WorldCat Link Manager. Though there are other systems available for linking OpenURL documents to records, how could we look past a service brought forth by an organization from which most of our record authority springs.

From their site:

WorldCat Link Manager is open, interoperable link-server software that OCLC provides as a fully supported, hosted service. When your library users click a journal citation in your catalog or in your electronic databases, they are taken directly to the full content of the article in your collection.

Maybe this won’t change everyone’s mind, but with the ease of use many of the other OCLC projects have spawned, I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t eagerly adopted by libraries.

For other link resolvers see:

If you know of any others that should be on the list, leave a comment and I will add them. Thanks.

Ready Text Reference

Cell Phone

In a recent Lifehacker article, it was made known that the SMS service GoLive! was making it easier to search Wikipedia via a simple text message. Users simply:

Text the words about <your search term> to short code 23907 and you’ll get back a link to a mobile-friendly, shortened Wikipedia page

Though the service charges you for web browsing on your cell, unlike other services which return a handy text message answer, there is something to be said for a system such as this in the realm of ready reference. What if we could link up Encyclopedia Britannica or the OED as a library service for text messaging. In earlier post I had mentioned the possibility of the I-Phone as a collection browsing tool, but what if our OPAC’s came ready made with a “light” mobile driven interface.

I must admit that I am not necessarily longing for the limited interface provided on most mobile devices, but another article made me see uses for cell phones on another level.  Through the use of Bluetooth technology, a device detection app called Proximity, and a bit of scripting; it is possible to command your computer to perform certain actions upon your arrival and departure.  For the library setting I could envision your library cell phone controlling the access to your terminal, setting you to away for your IM and Chat reference services, opening your email client, and maybe even keeping track of your departure for a meeting in your calendar.

Perhaps all this gadgetry and tinkiering really isn’t going to save us time or revolutionize library service, but sometimes knowing that you command the computer with nothing more than your mere presence; well it’s pretty sweet.

One-stop shopping versus window browsing

06/21/2007 1 comment

Store

After looking at countless OPACs and library websites, I began to wonder how a user’s behaviors affect their interactions with the library. I reflected upon my own selection habits and found myself on the fence. I love the exploration of specialty stores and all the intricacies found within these focused outlets. However, there is usually a point at which I would love to buy food, lumber, gas, and insurance all in the same place; just for the sheer convenience of it. I suppose the difference in each situation is exploration versus efficiency. With the option for larger variety but greater division put against small selection within one roof; the real matter at hand is time.

The majority of users are already crunched for time, even with the best time management skills, and casually browsing for sources just won’t do. But the question remains, are the federated and meta searching tools we have before us actually satisfying our users’ needs? There is something unsettling about realizing just how difficult it is to collect all the possibilities for research sources. Going back to the store analogy, you can at least be assured that the basic concept of the store remains true in each business. In the world of databases, the same information can often be rearranged and presented in decidedly different fashions. Is it fair to continue to ask users to relearn the primary methods for constructing their searches?

There may be a handful of solutions to this problem but two still stick out in my mind (three if you count the ability to force vendors to use the same programming and database languages). The first possible solution is a robust catalog portal system. Something like Sirsi’s EPS Rooms perhaps. True there are OPACs which are just as powerful, but the ability to connect your library’s page content and other related resources, can make looking as rewarding as finding.

The second possibility would be to have a shift in the thinking behind how we keep bibliographic records. Making the records extensible and modular would allow for more complex networks to be formed between records. The developments made by the FRBR and RDA groups are promising. With the right interface, browsing and collocation could be made much more intuitive. The way we approach records needn’t be limited by the card catalog of yore. The ability to create hyperlinks and associate online records makes the necessity of FRBR and RDA even more of a concern for modern libraries.

Though we may never actually attain 100% of resources in a one-stop shopping search tool, we need to be aware of the dangers of giving users lengthy lists of resources. Within the Google era when presented with a list of 20 billion results and a deadline before you, it is no wonder that only a small percentage of those results are even considered. If the lists we keep of databases and websites could be associated with tags or even subject terms from a catalog system; we may be able to guide the user to what they really need. Imagine if the catalog began to understand how you were searching and even who you are, and then asked if certain tags you have searched before should be applied to your current queries. Yeah, yeah, yeah it’s a bit creepy in some sort of sci-fi movie vein, but I kinda like it when the system helps me out and shows me something I didn’t even think of.

Widgets widgets all around, but will they click the link?

04/12/2007 1 comment

albatross

On a recent posting the Librarian in Black, Sarah Houghton, celebrated the development of a new tool called Library Thing for Libraries. The tool will allow library catalogs to include a widget which would display related editions, similar titles, and any other feature tagged by Library Thing. There will be a breakdown in paid and free options that seems quite interesting:

In keeping with our policy on thingISBN, our “related editions” widget will be free—allowing any library in the country to “FRBRize their catalog” without paying LibraryThing or anyone else a dime.** The paid widgets will include book recommendations, tag-based browsing, ratings, reviews and so forth.

click here to read the entire post

Library Catalog 2.2 “Tell me what I want, and I’ll tell you what I think.”

04/03/2007 1 comment

Apple Sliced

In recent post the Shifted Librarian, Jenny Levine, commented on innovative library catalogs utilizing user created comments within the item record. The library mentioned in particular was the Hennepin County library and the wonderful work of Glenn Peterson. As Jenny points out the prepub edition of the next Harry Potter book already has 60 comments attached to it. The most interesting point was that the comments were “FRBRized” so that the comments could remain attached to the “book” no matter what the edition or copy.

Click here to read the entire post.