March 30, 2004

Going on right now at the NASA Ames Research Center is the Astrobiology Science 2004 Conference. The program includes a Science Fiction Night and a Mars Terraforming panel with Arthur C. Clarke, Greg Bear and Kim Stanley Robinson. via LocusMag.

The website for the Engineering Library Division of the American Society for Engineering Education has moved here.

March 29, 2004

A couple of recent articles from the IEEE on women in computing:

March 26, 2004

Have that massive EndNote file lying around and not sure how to share your extensive bibliographic research with the world? Oh sure, setting up your own searchable web database isn't that hard, who wants to go through it yourself when you can get someone else to do it for you. is a new site that will mount your EndNote or ProCite database online for you and make it searchable. Free for now, it will be a for-pay service very soon. As long as the price is reasonable, this is a great idea. There's lots of research in niche areas out there looking for way to make it more accessible, and this could provide it. I sure we all could think of a project that could find a good home here -- computer chess, IL in the sciences....the possibilities are endless. Via LISNews.

A couple of very interesting articles on information seeking behavior in the most recent Journal of Academic Librarianship (v30i1):

March 25, 2004

The CAUT Almanac of Post-Secondary Education: 2004 is now available. Prepared by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, this document has all the stats on post-secondary education in Canada that you can shake a stick at. Absolutely fascinating reading, even, I imagine, for non-Canadians as it gives plenty of details of the make-up of students and profs in Canada, including lots of salary information. Most stats on profs are also split by gender. There are a couple of pages on librarians & libraries, which are also very interesting.

March 24, 2004

Another signal that the academics are getting it, if only slowly: Managing academic e-journals by Hovav and Gray in CACM v47i4, April 2004. From the abstract: "Though e-publishing is relatively inexpensive, e-publisher survival still depends on the age-old virtues of content quality and author credibility." While not actually about Open Access publishing (they're a bit vague on the cost/price issues), this is an interesting piece on what some computer scientists think about the pros and cons of e-only publishing. It's interesting that while they use some of the library literature in their bibliography (almost nothing later than 2000), they don't really seem to mention libraries very much in their article. It's like they haven't noticed what's going on down at their local library that much in the last few years.

March 23, 2004

Ephemera for Engineers and Scientists by Donald Christiansen is from the IEEE's Today's Engineer (Feb 2004). A common theme for us librarians, it points out that lots and lots of those citations to web sources you see in scholarly papers these days just disappear over time and are thus: ephemeral! From TheResourceShelf.

March 22, 2004

Better late than never, I'd like to mention the new Engineering Information Literacy discussion list, ELD-ILit.

Want to implement the LC subject headings for your home collection? Using XML? Sounds daunting? Check out The Library of Congress Comes Home by Kendall Grant Clark from O'Reilly's site. This is sort of a teaser article for next month, when he promises to go into the nitty-gritty, but he does tackle some interesting points, like why LC and not Dewey. In all, this has to be one of the most interesting articles about what libraries really are I've every read outside the library literature. A sample quote:

What can we say about lending libraries from the perspective of information management? Libraries, including some personal ones, are dijalog (simultaneously digital & analog - JD) institutions. Libraries are (1) chunks of physical space, (2) highly organized and regimented, which exist, in part, to facilitate (3) the navigation of a virtual space, in this case, the information space of all (ideally, anyway) recorded human knowledge.

Eventhough I mentioned it last December, I would like to point once again to O'Reilly's Bioinformatics web site. Some recent content includes:

March 19, 2004

We've all seen George Porter's posts on the various listservs (STS-L, ERIL-L, etc...), usually letting us know about another new Open Access journal or set of journals. This is a great service, which I'm sure we all appreciate. But, how does he do it? How does he know all this stuff? Well, he recently posted his secrets to various lists. He has graciously allowed me to reprint his post here:

I've gotten a number of notes asking how I find out about ejournals. There is no single answer to that question. In the case of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, I received a notification from PMC-News mailing list <>. On the other hand, I scanned the titles on the PubMed Central site to determine that Clinical
Microbiology Reviews had been completed. I'm sure a notification email will be forthcoming in the next several hours/days.

There are several major repositories which I monitor on a weekly basis:

PubMed Central <>
SciELo Wirtualna Biblioteka Nauki - Kolekcja matematyczno-fizyczna [Polish virtual library - collection of mathematics -physics] <>
EMIS ELibM: Mathematical Journals <>
BioMed Central | for authors | Launched and forthcoming journals <>

Less frequently, I comb through:

Online-Only Journals Monitored by CAS <>
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) <>
Sciation: HELP/NEWS <>
IoP News HighWire -- Free Online Full-text Articles

HighWire provides several alerting email lists (instructions at bottom of free article webpage), as does, <>.

Many of the titles highlighted have been documented for years in Caltech's Online Journal Database <>, through the efforts of all of the Caltech librarians (Dana Roth, Daniel Taylor, Jim O'Donnell, Hema Ramachandran, Caroline Smith, Judy Nollar, John McDonald, Kim Douglas, and Sandy Garstang -- to name a few).

Monitoring a wide range of discussion groups is also a key strategy. While I am personally involved with web4lib, lita-l, sts-l, chminf-l, eldnet-l, slapam-l, eril-l, SPARC Open Access Forum, and quite a few others, other Caltech librarians actively participate in still more groups including liblicense-l, serialst, ....

March 16, 2004

The latest issue of Wired has a long series of articles on Google entitled The Complete Guide to Googlemania!, including such articles as "How to Kill Google!"

And on the subject of ISTL, their latest issue is out as well. This one concentrates on agricultural librarianship and prints the contents of the United States Agricultural Information Network conference from 2003. Unfortunately, of the dozen or so entries on the TOC, only 4 (!) are full text, the rest abstracts only. I really doubt the usefulness of this, other than being able to contact the authors if you want more information. Also, on principle, I hate when journals reprint conference proceedings. Those proceedings really belong in one of the various eprint servers (see previous post). I hate to be negative about a journal that I generally think is the best one out there for scitech librarians, but I gotta call 'em as I see 'em.

As for the other content in ISTL, I would not hesitate to recommend it's high quality. I won't list all the contents here, as would should all be checking it out anyway. I will mention a couple of articles particularly relevant to our mission here:

  • "The NASA Astrophysics Data System" by Leith B. Woodall. A database review of a db we already probably all know about, but I always find it useful to refresh my memory with articles like this.
  • "The Top Ten Things a new Sci/Tech Librarian Should Know: Developing Core Competencies" by Victoria S. Mitchell is actually several lists, my fave point is: "Your colleagues are just as clueless or insecure as you are." Not that I'm clueless or insecure ;-) This is based on a session at the 2003 ALA conference in Toronto.

The latest High Energy Physics Library Webzine is out with the usual array of fine articles, this time concentrating on eprints/archives/preservation. I find it interesting (and instructive) that there exists two such incredibly wonderful FREE, ONLINE journals supporting scitech librarianship. The lesson from HEPLWZ and ISTL is that this is obviously a sustainable model, and I really expect that other similar niche web journals should sprout up in other areas. In fact, I would be interested in hearing about others in the comments to this post.

The most relevant HEPLWZ articles for us here are:

March 15, 2004

Physics Today March 2004- Publish or Perish--An Ailing Enterprise? by Mohamed Gad-el-Hak and published in Physics Today is about the glut of scitech publishing out there. Be it books or journals or, I guess, even web sites, there is just so much being published today that by necessity much of it must be of little value. All you hear about is new journals being launched to make sure quality work gets published, when maybe what we need is fewer journals with less of the other stuff being published. An interesting perspective from a scholar and one librarians should be aware of. If probably means we should subscribe to fewer but better journals and buy fewer but better books. Easier said than done when it seems to be all about publisher's package deals these days. Get 5 journals you want along with 5 (or 55 or 555) you don't really care about. via Lisnews.

D-Lib Magazine's latest issue is out. The featured collection this month is on Cosmic Evolution. Last month, I neglected to mention an interesting article in Dlib entitled "Supporting Member Collaboration in the Math Tools Digital Library: A Formative User Study" by Shechtman, Chung and Roschelle.

CSICOP On-line: Scientifically Investigating Paranormal and Fringe Science Claims is a great site for those of us that are scientifically rather than supernaturally inclined. CSIOP, by the way, stands for Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. The are also the publishers of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.via SciFi Weekly.

At last - proof that Guinness bubbles sink must be one of the most startling scientific discoveries of all times. via GoogleNews.

March 1, 2004

Something I would like to bring to all of our attention is the DoIS : Documents in Information Science journal and conference archive. Some of the journals you can find in full text inlcude Computers in Libraries, First Monday, ISTL and IFLA Journal. Some even have RSS feeds! This a great attempt to gather together a rather dispersed online LIS literature and centralize access in one place. I would encourage other publishers, like for the ASLIB Proceedings, to at least deposit their back issues here. The journal list is here and the conference list is here. I'm not sure if this can function as a regular eprint server (like E-LIS), but that would be a great idea too.

The latest issue of the ACM journalinteractions (v11i2) has a special feature on Human Computer Interaction with over a dozen short articles on a wide variety of topics. Well worth checking out for anyone interested.