IL2012 Keynote: Library as Platform

Library as Platform

David Weinberger was up as our keynote speaker to talk to us about the library as a platform. David is such an awesome speaker and cover so much ground quickly in his enthusiasm that I’m sure I’m skipping some major points below, but here’s what I could type while he was talking :)

David starts by pointing out that while digitization is great, the real power is in the network, connecting the pieces together, not just digitizing content.

The library as platform provides a unifying framework, allows us to take social networks seriously (take then as a fundamental thing that’s happening in our culture that’s really changing the culture), and increases the value of the library (both real and perceived).

J.L. Austin the philosopher talks about the “real”. What is David distinguishing real platform from? He’s distinguishing platform from portal. We need to continue to give portal access, but we need the platform to build the community network around our content.

One type of community network is a knowledge network. Knowledge networks are really really really really big! In fact they don’t have a circumference. And they’re linked in the way no other networks are.

Knowledge networks are hard for people to understand because in our culture scale (sizes of things) are so central to our culture. Basically (up until now) knowledge has resided in paper books and libraries. We have a limitation to storage of knowledge because of the size of these buildings. These limitations have also led to knowledge being filtered. And so we have shaped knowledge around these vessels. David thinks this is far from excellent (as do I).

So, now we have a new medium for finding and sharing and storing knowledge … the Internet. David is saying that knowledge now lives in networks, in the connection between posts and articles and pages on the Internet.

Networked science is one example of how this network is working well. David showed us an article from a paper in 1919 about an eclipse. If you wanted to learn more about the topic you were stuck in the square of the article. There was no way to get more information because print was your only option.

In 2011, however, an article is published on TimeScience mentioning another article and if you want to learn more about it you go to and look at the article and find more information. Up around the article then grows a web of more information, reinterpretations of the data, questions and answers, misinformation, zealots and more.

The net is exposing a long-hidden truth … we don’t agree about anything … With the network though we’re finding a way to argue “fruitfully.”

One way to maintain these discussions/disagreements is to “fork” them. Forking is taking the discussion and moving it to another place, another page, another email thread, etc. This is seen in namespaces on the network. David showed us a thread that appeared on the Dark Knight trailer on YouTube where people started talking about the validity of circumcision. While not appropriate in that place, it was a good productive discussion that can be forked off and discussed elsewhere.

Another example David shared of the success of networks lies with software developers. Software developers now live in the faster most efficient learning ecosystem ever. You can go to sites like Stack Overflow where people share their knowledge and best practices and learn from each other. A side note from me – this is why open source works! The shared knowledge produces a better product and makes it work in more environments. Developers in open source and on these shared knowledge networks are willing to admit that they don’t know everything and they’re generous in sharing their knowledge with others. This learning and sharing goes on in the public so the public sphere gets more intelligent and learns more. This type of shared knowledge and learning isn’t happening nearly enough in libraries!

Our task as librarians is to try and make these networks smarter. We want these networks to add value so that people get smarter. This is why David like’s the idea of library as platform.

Libraries aren’t solely about the assets that they have and what’s analog and what’s digital, but about our range of services.

David broke this in to three parts:

Top layer: network of people ideas and works. This is your portal access.

Next: the api tools and services. This is for the developers, this provides the tools to allow people to mix and mash your data.

Then: data and metadata. The separation between data and metadata is no longer quite different things. If you remember the author, but not the title, the author becomes metadata for finding the data (the title). Metadata is now a lever for picking up data. This does mean that we have to rethink privacy and how we can use/share this data within those confines.

Library platforms need to be though of as local. We’re serving physical communities and do have funding limitations that prevent us from making our platforms global. Physical localities provide much of the required sameness needed for enabling conversations. Our platforms are connected to the network though, so we have access to the global information network. We need our local platforms to connect to the wider network.

David suggests changes to Ranganathan’s rules by adding ‘Every book it’s network’ to the list of the rules. And while the library is a growing organism, the library is also a connected organism.

The Accidental Systems Librarian

Accidental SL Title

After nearly 2 years in the works, The Accidental Systems Librarian second edition is finally ready for preorder!! That’s right folks, after juggling health issues, travel for work and just general stress I am happy to announce that this second edition of the first Information Today Inc book I ever read will be released next month, but can be preordered today for a nice discount.

Learn more about the book on the official site and visit Information Today Inc to preorder (if you want). You can also keep an eye out for a book signing event at the Information Today booth at Internet Librarian at the end of October – I’ll be there!

Dewey Training Courses from OCLC

Dewey Call Numbers

I found this via Catalogablog:

We have completed development of an online set of training modules (available at no charge) for the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). The modules are based on DDC 23, and each consists of a slide presentation and a set of exercises. Several of the modules treat general principles governing the operation of the DDC; others treat the structure and use of specific tables and main classes. The presentations and exercises assume the availability of the latest version of the DDC database (i.e., WebDewey), and a professor, trainer, and/or experienced Dewey user for offering explanations and fielding questions.

The availability of many of the modules has been announced previously. What’s new now is that (1) the set of modules covers all of the DDC schedules and tables (modules for the 500s and 600s are newly provided), and (2) all modules have been updated to match DDC 23.

Why can’t library searches be this simple?

Google Flight Search

Time for a rant – and I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but why the heck does it have to be so hard to find things in libraries??

Yesterday my husband was traveling and he was worried that he’d miss his connection so while he was on the ground but not at the gate I wanted to find out where his next gate was. I decided to try a little something on Google. I typed in (without quotes) ‘United Flight 2456 gate’ and right there at the top of my results were the flights and the gate info!

I then thought, boy wouldn’t it be great if library catalogs were that smart and that friendly. So I went to my public library catalog and searched for (without quotes) ‘the help’. I don’t know where in the results (if at all) my book was, but it wasn’t on page one and there was no way to filter the results by author (that I saw).

So then I thought, well WorldCat does searching much better, so let’s see how hard it is to find out if my library has a copy of the book available using WorldCat. So I went and did the same exact search and results numbers 1, 3, and 4 were all The Help (no idea how result #2 got in there).

So then I clicked to see if my library had the material and things just went downhill. The first 4 libraries on the list of local libraries didn’t take me to the book, but to the library catalog homepage and then the one that did show me the book made me click yet again to get the availability information.

Why the heck does it have to be this hard?? I want to know if my library has a book and if it’s available and I know how to use the library, but our patrons are going through this nonsense when they can type in simple queries like ‘United Flight 2456 gate’ to Google and get the info they need without any additional clicks.

Now, Koha isn’t perfect, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention here that when you search for ‘the help’ (without quotes) on a Koha catalog the material you want is the first result (if you have your search set to sort by relevance – which is the default) and availability information displays right on the search results page (if you have that preference turned on – and why the heck wouldn’t you?) so that I don’t have to click any further unless I want to learn more about the material.

No wonder everyone turns to Google instead of to libraries for answers …

Open Source Software and Librarian Values


Looking to learn more about open source? Check out this article by Jason Puckett:

Puckett, Jason. “Open Source Software and Librarian Values.” Georgia Library Quarterly 49, no. 3 (July 1, 2012).

Jason is the one who taught me more about Zotero – one of my favorite open source tools!

Import Free Ebook Records to your Catalog


A couple years ago I brought a private project that shared Project Gutenberg records to your attention. Well, yesterday I thought I would go out and see if they had any more records to share so I could put them in to my Koha ILS demo site and found something awesome! Project Gutenberg has their own MARC exports (and other formats as well) that you can grab with over 40,000 records!!

If you’re using Koha, and want item records associated with these free MARC records take the file provided by Project Gutenberg and load it in to MarcEdit. Add a 942$c with your ebook type and then add a 952 with your branch and item type info. I did a tutorial video on this a while back that might help you. That’s what I did and now I have these titles in my catalog and searchable!

Learn more about the Koha item record in the 3.8 manual and get your own batch of free ebook MARC records at the Project Gutenberg wiki.

KohaCon12: Koha 3.8 What’s New?

Paul at KohaCon12

Paul was up first talking about Koha 3.8. He highlighted for us the features he thought were most important.

First some numbers!

  • 1087 changes were made to the source code! Some were small and some very large.
  • 71 different contributors
  • 26 organizations contributed (this uses the email domain – so it might be more)
  • The youngest contributor to Koha was 14!!

The most visible change in this version is the staff client! The old staff client was efficient, but not shiny – the new one is both shiny and efficient. We already had a shiny interface for the OPAC but now we gave the staff some eye candy as well.

A lot of attention has also been given to performance. Koha 1 and 2 were much faster than Koha 3, so it was time to speed things up in 3.8. One of the big changes in 3.8 is that the OPAC is now Plack compatible which will give 150% improved performance. Plack basically allows for the preloading of lots of data to save time. It is being used live on some French OPACs already!

Templates are now cached which gives us a 10% improvement in performance and memcache is now used for confirmation files giving another 10% improvement. Both of these do need to be activated first though – so that requires some setup.

Now for some “real” features (many are listed here already):

  • Cataloging
    • Possible to upload your own cover images
    • Bulk delete bibliographic records when deleting the last item
    • Materials specified is now displayed at checkout and checkin
    • Authority matching and linking improvements
    • In cataloging if you got the material via acquisitions you will now see a link to that
  • OPAC
    • Custom XSLT Stylesheets – you can now say: yes/no or link to a URL for custom stylesheet
    • Patrons can add star ratings
    • There is a way to show library information in the OPAC about the library when patrons mouse over the library name in the holdings table
      • This field takes HTML so you can even embed a map if you want
    • You can also turn on a bar of social network share buttons on each bib record in the OPAC
  • Acquisitions
    • You can now see cancelled orders
    • It is possible to modify notes/comments on an order line even after the order is received
    • Cloning budgets allows for creating a duplicate budget
    • Improved claiming letters
    • You can now enter shipping estimates on the vendor page to help determine when orders should arrive
    • Purchase suggestions now automatically filters to show only suggestions from your patrons (this is important to note in case you’re used to seeing all the suggestions at once)
  • Patrons
    • You can now group attributes
    • You can search for patron phones and emails
    • Fields on the patron add form can now be hidden using a system preference instead of jquery
    • From the checkout history there is a way to export a list of barcodes of items checked out
  • Circulation
    • Hourly loans
    • Offline circulation improvements with a new Firefox plugin
    • Floating collections
    • Suspending holds
    • Checkout slips are now customizable

There are many more new features, but Paul ran out of time :) Read the release notes for more info (and links to related manual pages).

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Looking for Excellent Library Support Stories

I found this call for participation that I thought would be of interest to many of you. Please share your excellent training stories so that others can learn from what you’ve done.

We are looking for higher education libraries, particularly in the US, UK and in Scandinavia, which are delivering exceptionally good and/or innovative support services to research and teaching staff.

If you think your academic library is doing well in supporting research and teaching faculty, we want to hear from you! Your library could be featured as an example of good practice helping the academic library community

  • to promote and develop novels ways to strengthen its relations with academic departments;
  • to enhance the marketing and profiling of library services for this constituency;
  • to maximise its value to research and teaching staff; and
  • to demonstrate that value within and beyond the institution.

If you would like to be considered as one of our eight case studies, to be undertaken during January to March 2012, or would like more information, please contact us.

ILS Survey Limited

I posted earlier today about a survey for libraries to share their satisfaction with their ILS. What I didn’t know was that if you chose the library type of anything other than Academic or Public you would be kicked out of the survey.

As an SLA member and a special library supporter I find this a bit offensive. Why don’t our opinions matter? A survey of libraries in the US done by the ALA finds that there are actually more special libraries than there are academic libraries (in fact there are many many more school libraries than publics or academics and they too are excluded from this survey) – this is a big portion of our profession and sharing their opinions will help others make informed decisions about their future ILS purchases.

If you’re looking for an more inclusive survey you might want to participate in the ILS Perceptions survey over at (which is closing any day now so get in there quick).

Survey on ILS Satisfaction

This came across my email today and I thought I should share it with you all.

Library Journal is conducting a snap survey to determine library and patron satisfaction with integrated library systems (ILS) in both public and academic libraries. Are you in charge of technology, collections, or reference at your library? We are eager to hear your thoughts about the systems that you and your patrons use every day.

Please click on this link to take a very brief survey (which will only take a few minutes to answer):

Results of this study will appear in an upcoming LJ article in Spring 2012. Thanks for supporting our research efforts!