Open Access

This is one of my priorities–getting the word out that Open Access is what libraries are all about, especially libraries at land grant universities. What is OA? To me it means unrestrained public access to information, period. Peter Suber, Steven Harnad, and others have much more eloquently defined it already.

Today the Chronicle announced “With New Agreement, MLA Journals Shift Copyright to Authors” with a link to “MLA Journals Adopt New Open-Access-Friendly Author Agreements.” Both are very brief notices. I guess there isn’t much that needs to be said. Perhaps they are waiting to see how the world responds.

I’m especially excited because of my work with ETDs (Electronic Theses and Dissertations). There have been flurries of discussion on ETD-L about creative writing theses (only since 2006? Curious, since ETDs have been around for nearly two decades. I better check my search strategy.)

Virginia Tech doesn’t have an OA policy, nor does the library. But not many universities do. There are a variety of reasons. Academics don’t like to be told what to do, so even when they believe in it they don’t want to be required to deposit their works in the university’s OA repository. Many of the pre-tenure academics just want to get published–in a prestigious journals would be best so OA is not a major consideration.

Like recycling or not wasting natural resources, there needs to be a bigger campaign for OA awareness. One resource to promote is Beall’s List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers. See Carl Elliott’s article in the Chronicle about it.


Tim Berners-Lee’s 1994 “The World Wide Web”

What a coincidence! I’m reading about the Web’s early availability at the same time that I’m preparing a 5-minute history of my department, the Digital Library and Archives. To make by brief presentation (for the library’s In Service Day) interesting I decided to go to the Wayback Machine and capture screen shots to show DLA’s evolution from the Scholarly Communications Project.

The first Web page in the Internet Archive is from Oct. 18, 1996. Man, is it ugly! But I was so proud. James Powell, the library programmer and sys admin, had designed the logo with its not-so-subtle message that through (personal, though indirect) interaction we could provide missing information. He showed me the few HTML tags I needed to create our web pages, including tables, and imbed images. What a coup!

Before there was the Web, however, there was the Gopher. I tracked down some early stats and was surprised to see that we already had 5 ejournals on the Gopher that we migrated to the Web in 1994.

It’s interesting to be reading Berners-Lee as he describes what the W3 can do–what we have taken for granted for quite some time, like URIs and client-server architecture. While he had a concept of how W3 could scale, I was wearing blinders–knowing intellectually what could be done, the vast interlinkages possible, but not really comprehending that one day I’d be responsible for hundreds of thousands of DLA’s Web pages.

[gotta run to the library reading group re lib pub strategies w/Julie Speer, but at this point in the reading [p.794], it doesn’t seem like TB-L addresses preservation or archiving the Web]

Knowledge Networks: response to nature

Knowledge networks have a broader connotation for me as a librarian. This is what we do! We create networks among knowledge resources first for our employer’s community but also deliberately (see Open Access Overview) as well as inadvertently for the public. VTechWorks  is our fledgling online repository that enables us to create links among its resources, which are largely the university’s unique resources. Addison, the library’s online catalog, uses bibliographic records to link (largely fee-based) library resources in certain categories like authors, titles, subjects, etc.  Summon is a knowledge network that expands upon Addison, VTechWorks and many, many other subscription databases that the library provides to the current university community, and sometimes to the public.

I would say that only a portion of the library’s knowledge networks have effective feedback loops. For example, an interlibrary loan request may lead to the library purchasing a copy or access to an e-version of the work. Most of our feedback loops are more nuanced. That is, we may log server statistics (accesses, downloads, etc.), but like circulation statistics, this doesn’t mean we regularly analyze them and weed our virtual and physical collections of unused publications. [Tangent—It’s a lesson we have not learned about our digital libraries—that they should be weeded of unused materials. Libraries have tended to weed their buildings only when shelving gets tight, or, as we are currently discovering, we need more room for people in the library and less room for the materials on the shelves because the balance of library uses has shifted from works on the shelves to works on servers and networks.]

These are now very traditional library resources and services. However, libraries are changing, and the VT library in particular. We have new leadership and we’re ‘open to the definition of what an academic library is and considering what people need it to become.’ In particular the Ubiquitous Librarian, Brian Mathews, has writen Think Like a STARTUP.

This is all I have time to write and I know I haven’t addressed the real issue that nature was getting at.

1st Blog: Ubiquitous Librarian, McLuhan for NMR

Finally, my first blog post and I hate that it’s going to be negative. But I can delete it later, right?

Actually, it’s not the first. Last month I was reading Brian Mathew’s Ubiquitous Librarian and wrote these thoughts in an email to myself;>)

I forget that he has a blog but every once in a while I get far enough down on the CHE online page to see the link. Always enjoy reading them. Today’s is about linking between online books. Haven’t finished it yet but what struck me is that he’s got an illustration of a shelf of his books. How would he illustrate his collection of online books? His list of files wouldn’t be nearly as visually interesting.

I’ve been reading more online since I got the easily transportable MacAir, and I don’t feel like I need an ebook reader. Wouldn’t it be just another device to put in the bag I carry to/from the library where I work (in addition to my lunch and empty containers)? I still read paper every night before I go to sleep.

Another concern is that I download and put in my Read folder things I think I’d like to read. Often I get to them but sometimes not and I can see that folder growing like a poorly managed library collection that’s rarely weeded. I don’t like the thought of downloading and not reading lots of books. [When will we stop calling the ebooks, ejournals, ETDs, etc. and just books, journals, etc.?]

How do blogs intersect? If I wanted to put this in mine and Brian’s both?

A Q for Brian: how would I allow or disallow people to interact w/me? Suppose there’s somebody who I don’t respect who wants to influence my reading? And, yes, I want to separate my mystery novels from my digital preservation and cost modeling articles.

Totally agree: “It’s not about losing what’s in the stacks; it’s about greater access to content that is linked together more effectively.”

Anyway, today I’m reading McLuhan’s “Galaxy Reconfigured” for the NMR seminar and, so far, not liking it much. Normally I think I’m pretty literate and have a decent vocabulary, but not when I’m reading McLuhan. I somehow didn’t read him when I was in college in the late 60s in California, I must have gotten by by reading about what he said.

Back to it.