The Switch To Google Reader is Official

February 24, 2007

Recent issues with Bloglines picking up feeds in a timely manner have been well documented – Walt at Random’s Are you reading this?,  David Rothman’s Dumping Bloglines, Information Wants to Free’s Bloglines Issues and my own. For the past week and half, I have been monitoring how feeds are discovered in both Bloglines and Google Reader. I did a couple of things – I subscribed to several different feeds for individual blogs (especially those that had been giving my trouble including Walt at Random, Tame the Web and my own). Fortunately, Bloglines makes this easy. I deleted all of my subscriptions in Google Reader and then imported my Bloglines opml file. Thus, the feeds that I subscribed to in both were identical.

At this point, whenever I checked my subscriptions, I logged into both Bloglines and Google Reader simultaneously to check what was new. Sadly, I didn’t really find anything conclusive. The only solid thing that I can say is that the number of new feeds that I had to read in Bloglines and Google Reader was never the same. So far, there were always more new articles in Google Reader (by a lot). Other things that I have noticed were that different feeds for one blog do not ever get updated simultaneously – while the atom feed might get updated first in Bloglines, the FeedBurner feed might get updated first in Google Reader. Although FeedBurner feeds seem to get picked up by aggregators prior to other types of feed, Bloglines and Google Reader do not discover them at the same time. It all seems to be remarkably random. However, Google Reader does not seem to have the same problems with serious lag times that Bloglines does. As such, I have officially switched. I still log into Bloglines from time to time in order to log through my clipped articles. Eventually, I think I will be able to weed them all out.

Bye, bye Blogines – I am a bit sad to see you go!


Information Commons Resources

February 24, 2007

These are the resources that I used for my facilities paper on the information commons model in academic libraries.  

Information Commons Bibliography

  • Albanese, Andrew Richard. “Campus Library 2.0,” Library Journal, Vol.129, Iss.5 (April 15, 2004), pp.30-33.
  • Bailey, Russell and Barbara Tierney. “Information Commons Redux: Concept, Evolution, and Transcending the Tragedy of the Commons,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship. Vol. 28, No. 5 (September 2002), pp.277-286.
  • Bartle, Lisa R. “Designing an Active Academic Reference Service Point,” Reference & User Services Quarterly, Vol.38, No.4, pp.395-401.
  • Bazillion, Richard J. and Connie L. Braun, “Building Virtual – and Spatial – Libraries for Distance Learning,” Cause/Effect, (Winter 1995), pp.51-54. Available at http://www.educause.edu/LibraryDetailPage/666?ID=CEM9549. Accessed on February 24, 2007.
  • Beagle, Donald. “Conceptualizing an Information Commons,” The Journal of Academic  Librarianship, Vol.25, No.2 (March 1999), pp.82-89.
  • Bell, Steven J. “ New Information Marketplace Competitors: Issues and
    Strategies for Academic Libraries,” portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol.2, No.2 (2002), pp.277-303.
  • Church, Jennifer. “The Evolving Information Commons,” Library Hi Tech, Vol.23, No.1 (2005), pp.75-81.
  • Cowgill, Allison, Joan Beam and Lindsey Wess. “Implementing an Information Commons in a University Library,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Vol.27, No.6 (November 2001), pp.432-439.
  • Davis, Philip M. “Tragedy of the Commons Revisited: Librarians, Publishers, Faculty and the Demise of a Public Resource,” portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol.3, No.4 (2003), pp.547-562.
  • Fagerheim, Britt Anna and Sandra J. Weingart. “Using Focus Groups to Assess Student Needs,” Library Review, Vol.54, No.9 (2005), pp.524-530.
  • Favini, Robert. “The Library and Academic Computing Center: Cultural Perspectives and Recommendations for Improved Interaction,” ACRL National Conference, Nashville Papers, Nashville, TN, 1997. Available at http://www.ala.org/ala/acrlbucket/nashville1997pap/favini.htm. Accessed February 24, 2007.
  • Frade, Patricia A. and Allyson Washburn. “The University Library: The Center of a University Education,” portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol.6, No.3 (2006), pp.327-346.
  • Fu, Tina C., Kim Bartosz and Guy La Haie. “The Impact of “Scholar’s Workstations” in an Undergraduate Academic Library: Would a Holistic Approach Work?” The Reference Librarian, No.74 (2001), pp.187-205.
  • Gardner, Susan and Susanna Eng. “What Students Want: Generation Y and the
    Changing Function of the Academic Library,” portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol.5, No.3 (2005), pp.405-420.
  • MacWhinnie, Laurie A. “The Information Commons: The Academic Library of the  Future,” portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol.3, No.2 (2003), pp.241-257.
  • Malenfant, Chuck. “The Information Commons as a Collaborative Workspace,” Reference Services Review, Vol.34, No.2 (2006), pp.279-286.
  • Mangan, Katherine S. “Packing Up the Books,” Chronicle of Higher Education, Vol.51, Iss.43, (July 1, 2005), p.A27-A28.
  • McKinstry, Jill and Peter McCracken. “Combining Computing and Reference
    Desks in an Undergraduate Library: A Brilliant Innovation or a Serious Mistake,” portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol.2, No.3 (2002), pp.391-400.
  • McRobbie, Michael A. The Library and Education: Integrating Information Landscapeshttp://www.clir.org/PUBS/reports/pub119/mcrobbie.html.
  • Spencer, Mary Ellen. “Evolving a New Model: The Information Commons,” Reference Services Review, Vol.34, No.2 (2006), pp.242-247.
  • Van Scoyoc, Anna M. and Caroline Cason. “The Electronic Academic Library:
    Undergraduate Research Behavior in a Library Without Books,” portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol.6, No.1 (2006), pp.47-58.
  • Warnken, Paula. “New Technologies and Constant Change: Managing the Process,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Vol.30, No.4 (July 2004), pp.322-327.
  • Whitchurch, Michael J. and C. Jeffrey Belliston. “Information Commons at Brigham Young University: Past, Present and Future,” Reference Services Review, Vol.34, No.2 (2006), pp.261-278.

Links


I’ve Been Outed!

February 24, 2007

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about trying to do something to create a social environment for distance education students at Southern Connecticut State University. I had created a Facebook account and started poking around to find out what Facebook is really all about. I did end up creating a Distance Education group – but admittedly, didn’t get much beyond that. It isn’t particularly useful to play around with social software sites without a community. I thought a bit about ways to market it. However at that point, school got a bit in the way (it’s kind of funny how that keeps happening) – and I forgot a bit about the whole thing.

So, I was quite happy to read a post over at Frequently Answered Questions by Rebecca Hedreen (distance education librarian at SCSU) outing my distance education group. As such, I probably should formally invite any distance education students at SCSU to join in. Hopefully, we can build a community for students to find answers to questions, get some help and form a support system.


IT Management In The Library

February 22, 2007

In a new blog, Red dirt librarian, Carolyn McDonald writes about Models for managing IT in libraries. In the post, McDonald suggests that there are three types of IT models: all IT support provided by the library, all IT support managed by an outside agency or a hybrid model where IT support is provided from within the library and from an outside department. McDonald writes:

This last option is the one I am most interested in. It seems to me there are significant advantages, and risk of major problems. I’ve seen both at work. So how do we get the mix right, how do we ensure good communication, how do we develop enough of an understanding of each other’s business to appreciate what is being done and enable the business of the organisation?

In four short sentences, McDonald gets to heart of the matter for those libraries that have a hybrid mix of IT management. There is a natural tension between library staff who want to ensure open and easy access for everyone and IT staff who are charged with protecting an institution’s computer and network assets. I know that it seems to people that if they ask an IT person for something the answer is always no. I also know that many IT people shake their heads because “those library people” are always asking for something else – and that it is usually something that isn’t straightforward or easy to accomplish (this is my role in my work life). Open lines of communication and understanding of the mission of each organization are essential keys to making this hybrid relationship work. It really is all about give and take – and a little understanding.

I often have to ask for exceptions to the rules, holes through the firewall, LDAP access, guest accounts for patrons, wireless access for visitors and all sorts of other things that aren’t often available anywhere but in the library. I have found that it helps to have a good working relationship with the IT department. I make concessions sometimes – and agree to wait on some initiatives. I also offer to help the IT department with big projects. I will at times volunteer library computers and staff for new IT initiatives because the library can provide sufficient critical mass for test cases. I have also found that it is critical for me to be open and honest with the IT department about library initiatives that involve technology. I don’t EVER spring anything on them as a done deal. In a hybrid mix, the relationship between the IT department and library systems people makes all the difference in the world.


It Takes All Kinds

February 22, 2007

In his Wikipedia too liberal for you? post, Walt Crawford introduced me to Conservapedia– a fascinating Christian and American alternative to Wikipedia. Wow, is really my only reaction. Crawford pointed out that Wikipedia is deemed biased because of the use of BCE and CE rather than BC and AD and because of the use of non-American-English spelling variants. From Conservapedia:

Wikipedia often uses foreign spelling of words, even though most English speaking users are American. Look up “Most Favored Nation” on Wikipedia and it automatically converts the spelling to the British spelling “Most Favoured Nation”, even there there are far more American than British users. Look up “Division of labor” on Wikipedia and it automatically converts to the British spelling “Division of labour,” then insists on the British spelling for “specialization” also.[3]. Enter “Hapsburg” (the European ruling family) and Wikipedia automatically changes the spelling to Habsburg, even though the American spelling has always been “Hapsburg”. Within entries British spellings appear in the silliest of places, even when the topic is American. Conservapedia favors American spellings of words.

Most English speaking users are American, huh? I was unaware of this fact previously. Good to know.

My next favorite reason for Wikipedia’s bias is that

Gossip is pervasive on Wikipedia. Many entries read like the National Enquirer. For example, Wikipedia’s entry on Nina Totenberg states, “She married H. David Reines, a trauma physician, in 2000. On their honeymoon, he treated her for severe injuries after she was hit by a boat propeller while swimming.” That sounds just like the National Enquirer, and reflects a bias towards gossip. Conservapedia avoids gossip and vulgarity, just as a true encyclopedia does.

I will have to add that Conservapedia does seem to avoid vulgarity. Those who agreed with the librarians and parents who wanted to ban the Newbery award winning book, The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, will be happy to know that as of today, the word scrotum does not grace the pages of Conservapedia! Your children should be safe here. This may also be the place to go if you are trying to get away from news of Anna Nicole Smith’s death or Britney Spears’s newly bald head and flight from rehab.

And just in case you didn’t realize this, “In breton “wiki” means liberal, and “pedia” means bias. The founders of wikipedia were celtic.” This is the last of the reasons for Wikipedia’s biases. Seems to me the founders shouldn’t have needed the 27 other reasons.

Be sure to check out the Consverapedia Commandments

Walt Crawford did mention that one may experience trouble accessing the site – and I have experienced this. The site does seem to be getting more traffic than it can handle.


A Look At Tagging

February 20, 2007

Ever wonder about tagging and how people use it? Well, take a look at Tim Spalding’s recent analysis – When tags work and when they don’t: Amazon and LibraryThing. Spalding writes: “Both LibraryThing and Amazon allow users to tag books. But with a tiny fraction of Amazon’s traffic, LibraryThing appears to have accumulated *ten times* as many book tags as Amazon—13 million tags on LibraryThing to about 1.3 million on Amazon.” This is interesting stuff. I can’t say that I am surprised by the results. I use Amazon constantly – to buy stuff, to check citations, to search inside the book, to read reviews, to check upcoming release dates for new titles, etc. I love Amazon. I make wish lists. I read other people’s lists. I do not, however, tag anything.

Now, I also use LibraryThing. I currently have about 1750 books in my catalog, and I have added tags to the majority of them. As one of the commenters (Jason Lefkowitz) on Spalding’s post puts it – “People WILL tag things if the tags are useful to THEM.” Tagging items in Amazon wouldn’t really do anything for me. If I’m interested in a title, I put it on some type of list. However, in my LibraryThing catalog, the tags have meaning to me. Tags, in other words, add value to my information. I don’t have any need to try and add value to Amazon’s information. In my catalog, I have about 526o tags (roughly 3.09 tags per book). I own mostly fiction books. The information that is important to me is character names – this is one way that I like to search through my books. I also put the time period of the work in a tag. Thus, I can sort my collection by the time period during which the story takes place. This may not make sense to others, but it is how I want to be able to search and sort my books.

What does all this mean for tagging in library catalogs? Will it be a useful concept for people? I’m not sure. I can see some applications where people might tag information about books that they used in their research – but only if they saw some value to themselves. One other area where tags have really taken off is in the PennTags project. PennTags is a really wonderful example of students using tags in some inventive ways. Here students create their own spaces, add items to it and tag their data. The key (again) is that people are tagging their own data. Information in a library catalog (the way it currently exists in most cases) does not belong to the patron. In Ann Arbor District Library’s catalog (or SOPAC), people have been adding tags. It is pretty interesting to go through the tags and see what people are adding. It is difficult to tell how popular the feature is. From a cursory glance, it doesn’t appear that too many titles have been tagged. Ultimately, I doubt that patrons will find tagging overly useful in a library catalog unless it fills some need.

In the mean time, Tim Spalding’s look at tagging is worth a read or two. He has some great ideas for making tagging work in ecommerce sites. I hadn’t given much thought to the impact of “opinon tagging.” Food for thought!


Listserv Rage

February 19, 2007

Everyone has probably experienced road rage – an incredibly insidious phenomena. Fortunately, I only have a 4 mile commute to work – so I am able to keep my incidents to a minimum. This is especially auspicious since I am prone to severe irritation with the majority of drivers on the planet. I’ve been able to kind of keep the problem under control. However, lately, a new rage has started to emerge – that of listserv rage. I generally don’t participate in most listserv discussions – even though I must be subscribed to at least 20 different ones. If I have an answer to a question being asked, I will respond. But beyond that, I just lurk and hit the delete key over and over and over again.

Despite the fact that I don’t participate, I do find that I tend to get caught up in the battles that take place. Some listservs seem to be prone to these types of battles more than others. It becomes kind of like a sickness that I can’t help but follow. I wonder who might have responded now. Who will be silly enough to send an unsubscribe request to the whole listserv? Oh, so and so is out of the office again – and obviously doesn’t believe in unsubscribing from listservs. Who is going to scold whom today? And then I get listserv rage. I can’t believe that person wrote that. What were they thinking? How could they say such a thing?

I’m thinking of unsubscribing from them all. It might help my own sanity.

A big thanks to Jane’s (from A Wandering Eyre) husband, Mr. Rochester for helping me make the road rage connection. I feel his pain about the left lane drivers.