Sustaining the Digital Library: Symposium

This list of presentations from the Sustaining the Digital Library : Symposium, 13-14 September 2007, University of Edinburgh sounds interesting:

1. Keynote Presentation [pdf], Rick Luce, Vice Provost and Director of University Libraries, Emory University

Rick asks an interesting question: “Could it be that we are well enough funded to be comfortable with our traditional roles?”

2. How Users Behave [ppt], Dave Nicholas, Director of the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, University College London

This presentation remarks that we “Have been bleating on about users for years, but have not made much progress” and asks “How many libraries [have] a department dedicated to following the users every move and relating that to academic outcomes and impacts?”

3. Public Good vs Private Profit [ppt], Michael Jubb, Director, Research Information Network

4. Reskilling the Library [ppt], Sheila Cannell, Director of Library Services, University of Edinburgh

5. The Economics of Scholarly Publication [ppt], John Houghton, Professor of Economics, Victoria University of Melbourne

6. The New Curators [ppt] Peter Buneman, Director of Research, UK Digital Curation Centre

7. Business models for an open digital world [ppt] David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe

8. Summary [ppt] Martin Lewis, University Librarian, University of Sheffield

Via Lorcan Dempsey.

PTSEM Digital Library

I know I haven’t spoken much about my new job, but now I have something big to announce. The Princeton Theological Seminary has signed with Mark Logic to assist in the development of our digital library! The big release was today at a conference at the seminary, but I was at a training class so I’m not sure how it was received.

We’re just starting out, but I’m very excited about the potential this system holds for us – so keep and eye out for new great things!

Digital Copies

Yesterday at the NFAIS Humanities Roundtable, one talk was about the rules for making sure you get a good deal when having an outside company scan and use your library content. Today, I was pointed to an article in the New York Times comparing the Open Content Alliance partners with the Google Book Search partners. Both are very related topics and I’m glad that I got to hear the talk before reading the article.

As someone who’s working with a digital library, there are some very interesting questions raised in the article. I know nothing of the contracts associated with the Open Content Alliance or Google – we do all of our digitization our own way – but some libraries seem to think that Google is to restrictive and others are worried that by providing our content to big companies such as these there is a potential that there will not be equal access.

One point in the talk yesterday was that you should always make sure you get copies of the scans – no matter who you sign with. This is a great point, and I’d take it one step further and say that if you’re not allowed to use those scans in any manner in which you see fit then you don’t sign with vendor X. Now here’s where the difference between Google & OCA come in. OCA charges $30 a book (I’m curious if this is no matter what the size of the book …) and Google scans for free. So in the case of the OCA, I see libraries having a bit more leverage to bargain for their content and use thereof.

On another related note. We’re trying to decide what else to scan in our collections and I’ve been browsing around other digital libraries to see what’s out there. Did you know that the Internet Archive has a huge collection of digital texts including those from the OCA?? This is a great tool, it aggregates digital content from many different sources making it easier on the user to find what they want. If I had to give one complaint it’s that the search isn’t that user friendly – I get duplicates and triplicates and sometimes I find volume 4 but not volume 1-3.

What I want to know is are researchers using this tool? Do they even know that it exists?

Another great tool (that is indexed by the Internet Archive) is the Making of America project – when they provide results I can see all of the volumes associated with a title – very handy.

Anyway, I think I got of topic a bit, but you get the idea – digital libraries are neat, but be careful what your deal says if you sign with someone like Google or the Open Content Alliance.

NFAIS – User-Generated Content – Nature Precedings

I want to preface this by saying I will probably never ever need to use this tool – but it was really awesome sounding so I wanted to share it with you all!

Hilary Spencer from Nature came to talk at the NFAIS meeting about Nature Precedings and Nature Network.

Nature Precedings allows scientists to post pre and post publication research papers and presentations to share with the community. It allows for documents that were not previously available to be open to the scientific research community. While similar to arXiv, it is not a replacement or competitor. ArXiv is for documents from the Physics and Math research communities.

The problem with Precedings as I see it is that each item is pre-screened to make sure it’s being submitted by a valid scientific community member. If Precedings is going to grow the way they hope it will (and the way I think it will) they’re going to have to come up with a more convenient method for adding content – or the process is going to slow down under the load. A possible answer to this is using information from Nature Network to validate the content being submitted to Precedings.

Nature Network is like Facebook for scientists – but very very protected. Users are screened to make sure that they are who they say they are and that they have something to contribute to the scientific community. Each profile on Network has a list of publications for the member – possibly allowing the people at Nature to write a script to check submissions to Precedings against Network – eliminating the human element and speeding the process along. While Hilary mentioned something like this – most of this is conjecture on my part.

This is a great step – especially since it’s being made by a publishing company. Unfortunately, they’re only one publishing company and many others have rules that prohibit the publishing of papers in their journals if they appear in any form elsewhere. This is an issue that Nature is dealing with – and to start they are promising that they will consider items in Precedings for publishing if they are submitted by the authors. Other issues include people being afraid of sharing their research and having it stolen – a valid fear – and another that Nature is addressing. Nature is making times in the Precedings depository citeable so that original authors can show that they came up with the idea first.

Overall, it seems like a great tool – and something that will be a great benefit to the scientific community – I hope it continues to grow and that we see similar tools for other disciplines.

[update] Originally I was calling Precedings by the wrong name. I have changed all occurances of Proceedings to Precedings (which is the right name). [/update]

[update2] Hilary has corrected me. Precedings screens members, but Network does not. [/update2]

Ours forever?

Cliff writes and interesting post about our online identities. The short summary is this – he posted a video for his staff use. He then deleted the account that held the video, only to find out that his video was cited in a paper.

I’ve come across this issue before. I’ve wanted to change my username for StumbleUpon which is different from every other professional account I have – but I know I can’t because so many people are connected to it.

Cliff asks:

  1. How will we manage our online identities throughout our lifetimes?
  2. What do we (as librarians and indexers) do about media that is constantly being updated/moved/deleted?
  3. Where is that darn video?!?

I don’t have an answer to Cliff’s questions – but it does add to the problem of digital preservation we’re all facing.