December 17, 2004

Happy Chrismakkuh

I don't expect to post much (if at all) until I get back to work the first week in January. Enjoy!

December 15, 2004

From recent Dlibs

December 14, 2004

U of M FAQ on Google scanning project + musings

This page from the University of Michigan's news service gives some nitty gritty detail on how copyright will be handled in Google's new collaborative project with various libraries. My take? It's really breathtaking. Access to many thousands of public domain titles will be an amazing resource for students & researchers of all stripes. As well, a window into the copyrighted titles will make it a lot easier for people to identify books they want to track down (buy or borrow). It's interesting to note that Google could almost replace the catalogue for these institutions...hmmm, I wonder if Google's thought of that? I wonder, though, does this kind of thing make the actual collections of academic libraries more likely to be used, or less. Will Google users just not use anything that's more than a click away?

One thing I always wonder about: how often do students buy articles from publishers that they could get access to for free if they only knew about how to access them (online or print) through the library? How often will students buy a copy of a Google book (print or online) because they neither know nor care that they could borrow it for free from their library? (via JoAnn Sears on PAMNET)

York U space research

This is a nice little story about my institiution's space science & engineering researchers and the work they're doing. The York Centre For Research in Earth & Space Science is here.

December 10, 2004

So, you think you know something about IL?

Then take the Christmas Quiz 2004 from the Information Literacy Weblog.

Welcome to our world

Online Research Worries Many Educators is a story that will be familiar to all academic librarians. A few choice quotes (via Lisnews.):

Georgia Tech professor Amy Bruckman tried to force students to leave their computers by requiring at least one book for a September class project. She wasn't prepared for the response: "Someone raised their hand and asked, "Excuse me, where would I get a book?'"

Alex Halavais, professor of informatics at the University at Buffalo, said students are so accustomed to instant information that 'the idea of spending an hour or two to find that good source is foreign to them.'

"If I'm going to go to the library, chances are somebody hasn't paid a librarian 100 bucks to point me to a particular book," said Beau Brendler, director of the Consumer Reports WebWatch.

December 8, 2004

Catching up on some EEVL news

A few recent (and not so recent) notes from EEVL:

Tech cheating turns professors into sleuths

Another interesting article on plagiarism, this one via Lisnews.

Péter Jacsó on Google Scholar

Check here for Jacsó's very detailed (and highly critical) review of Google Scholar. His main points are:

Google, Inc. has the intellectual and financial resources (and the largest group of cheerleaders) to create a superb resource discovery tool of scholarly publications. It needs to:

  • exploit the highly structured and tagged Web pages with rich metadata readily available in the digital archives of most of the scholarly publishers
  • create field-specific indexes for many distinct data elements
  • offer an advanced menu with pull-down menus for limiting the search by publisher, journal, document type, publication year, etc.
  • consolidate cited references through the ever increasing DOI registry
  • collect information of all the relevant materials from the publishers' archive
  • develop utilities that enable libraries to launch a known-item federated search in the full-text aggregators' databases licensed by the library in order to check if any have the document from a journal that is not licensed digitally from the publisher.

All valid points, and I hope the fine folk at Google are paying attention to all the free R&D the library community is contributing to their cause. On the other hand, they're probably wishing they were a little less Beta and a bit more Alpha in terms of their content, interface and help files. I find it interesting that there's so much negative commentary, with an almost mean-spirited glee in the product's obvious short comings. It's not perfect, there are glaring shortcomings that will have to be fixed before it can compete with other, more polished, services. But, on the other hand, it is only Beta. The potential is enormous and I think we need to be realistic about what our patrons want to use. They want one search fits all with instant access to free full text. Google Scholar is going to be part of that mix. Services that can't add enough value to their data will find it hard to justify charging the big bucks to libraries and other clients. Publishers that are slow to collaborate with Google will find that they're journals aren't used as much. Is there a tremendous amount if information in the huge datafiles built lovingly over the decades by organizations like Biosis and INSPEC (to name two at random)? No question. That needs to be preserved. We should be especially concerned about the indexing of publications like conferences, defunct journals and mountains of grey literature. But, we also need to recognize that it won't be librarians that will spell the success or failure of Google Scholar. It will be our patrons: faculty, staff, students and the general public. (via OAN.)

December 6, 2004

The web is a very strange place

Like most bloggers, I keep an eye on the hit stats. Not obsessively, but every day or two I check to see what's happening. I'm particularly interested by the referer stats that I get. In any case, the hits have really jumped the last week or two -- all thanks to Noah Wiley and his new movie The Librarian. As you may recall, I mentioned the existence of the flick a while back, not reviewing it or anything. So, you can imagine my amusement to see all the hits coming in. Bizarrely, as of this morning, I'm in the top ten google hits on Noah Wiley and number 1 for Noah Wiley librarian and "noah wiley" librarian. This post will no doubt only make it worse.

December 2, 2004

Big Cheats on Campus

On a considerably less cheerful note, this ABC News story on cheating at universities is eye-opening.

Another couple from SciAm this time

A couple from the Grauniad...

...that I've been meaning to post for quite some time: (via Locusmag)