Discussion:
NGC4LIB Digest - 22 Aug 2008 to 23 Aug 2008 (#2008-39)
(too old to reply)
Jesse Ephraim
2008-09-06 19:48:32 UTC
Permalink
>ILSes are, in fact, quite complicated, since, not only do

>they manage workflows, but have to deal with each

>individual doing everything a little bit differently

>(as Jonathan Rochkind says, "we're unique little snowflakes").

...

>However, if they were 'simple systems' like you claim, the OSS

>alternatives would have far surpassed the competition years ago.



Complexity is a relative thing. From a programmatic standpoint, ILSes
are not very complex - certainly nowhere near the level of most business
systems and games. Some of them - Horizon, for example - would barely
pass muster as shareware, at least from a reliability and design
standpoint. I helped build much, much more complex business and
entertainment applications during my decade as a professional
programmer.



Even at that, there is a lot of unnecessary complexity in many ILSes,
often stemming from the use of archaic data handling methods and
proprietary, closed systems. There are a lot of parts to ILSes, and it
would take a little time to build a complete system from scratch, but
they are ultimately just specialized forms of a certain type of common
business software. Patrons are "customers," books and such are our
"products," and circulation is just a type of "order fulfillment."
Rules and exceptions that may apply to certain individuals, items,
branches ("distribution centers"), records, etc., but that is also true
of the systems used by warehouses and distribution centers.



Amazon and LibraryThing are doing the innovation that libraries SHOULD
have been doing a decade ago. They are leaving the library world in the
dust. LibraryThing even markets their own technology to libraries,
when ILS vendors - or libraries themselves - should have been developing
the same types of software back in the 1990s. Good for them. Shame on
us.



As far as open source systems vs. commercial systems, the normal
"survival of the fittest" rules don't really apply. Libraries often
don't make the most logical, cost-effective technology choices,
particularly when it comes to ILSes. Since libraries have allowed ILS
vendors to slap huge price tags on their software - often with
ridiculously high "maintenance fees" - they have dug themselves into a
situation where dropping those systems becomes politically complex. It
is hard to justify an ILS change to city councils, library boards, and
school administrators when you have bought into a system that costs tens
of thousands of dollars.



Since most librarians are not very technically proficient, and most
libraries (outside of some large public ones or university systems)
don't have techs on staff, they often buy into systems without knowing
how to realistically evaluate them. Many stay away from open source
systems because they don't have anyone on staff who can install and
maintain them, or they have some vague concept (often promoted by
commercial vendors) of them being "unstable."



Since hiring a devoted tech person with coding and other development
skills is not possible for most small (and many mid-sized) libraries, we
need to see library schools teaching those skills, or at least teaching
students how to realistically evaluate ILS software.



Jesse Ephraim



Youth Services Librarian

Southlake Public Library

1400 Main St., Ste. 130

Southlake, TX 76092



Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us

Phone: (817) 748-8248

FAX: (817) 748-8250

www.southlakelibrary.org <http://www.southlakelibrary.org/>

uncommonly friendly service
David Dorman
2008-09-06 20:17:09 UTC
Permalink
At 03:48 PM 09/06/2008, Jesse Ephraim wrote:
>. . . . . . .
>Since most librarians are not very technically proficient, and most
>libraries (outside of some large public ones or university systems)
>don't have techs on staff, they often buy into systems without knowing
>how to realistically evaluate them. Many stay away from open source
>systems because they don't have anyone on staff who can install and
>maintain them, or they have some vague concept (often promoted by
>commercial vendors) of them being "unstable."

Jesse,

Please don't tar "commercial vendors" as being against open source:
some of us develop, distribute and support open source software for
libraries. And please don't perpetuate the myth that commercial
support is not available for open source software.

David


>
>
>Since hiring a devoted tech person with coding and other development
>skills is not possible for most small (and many mid-sized) libraries, we
>need to see library schools teaching those skills, or at least teaching
>students how to realistically evaluate ILS software.
>
>
>
>Jesse Ephraim
>
>
>
>Youth Services Librarian
>
>Southlake Public Library
>
>1400 Main St., Ste. 130
>
>Southlake, TX 76092
>
>
>
>Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us
>
>Phone: (817) 748-8248
>
>FAX: (817) 748-8250
>
>www.southlakelibrary.org <http://www.southlakelibrary.org/>
>
>uncommonly friendly service

David Dorman
US Marketing Manager, Index Data
52 Whitman Ave.
West Hartford, Connecticut 06107
***@indexdata.com
860-389-1568 or toll free 866-489-1568
fax: 860-561-5613

INDEX DATA Means Business
for Open Source and Open Standards
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
www.indexdata.com
Jason Etheridge
2008-09-07 05:18:01 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, Sep 6, 2008 at 3:48 PM, Jesse Ephraim
<***@ci.southlake.tx.us> wrote:
> Many stay away from open source systems because they don't have
> anyone on staff who can install and maintain them, or they have some
> vague concept (often promoted by commercial vendors) of them being
> "unstable."

Or they don't know about the commercial companies that do support the
open source systems, or think them too young.

--
Jason Etheridge
| VP, Community Support and Advocacy
| Equinox Software, Inc. / The Evergreen Experts
| phone: 1-877-OPEN-ILS (673-6457)
| email: ***@esilibrary.com
| web: http://www.esilibrary.com
Tomasz Neugebauer
2008-09-08 15:47:26 UTC
Permalink
Jesse,

You said, "Since hiring a devoted tech person with coding and other development skills is not possible for most small (and many mid-sized) libraries [...]".

I think that libraries *choose* not hire people with information technology skills. Hiring an IT professional with project management expertise might be perceived as an admission that librarians are not self-sufficient, that they need software engineers and information systems analysts to innovate the library. Libraries attempt to hide this "insufficiency" by choosing instead to 'outsource' IT needs. The idea here is to buy the library technology needs like a product, just like they have been buying books - business as usual. The result is the perpetuation of insufficient information technology expertise within libraries. This is a choice (a mistake), not a result of 'impossibility'.


Tomasz Neugebauer
Digital Projects & Systems Development Librarian
***@concordia.ca
Concordia University Libraries
1400 de Maisonneuve West (LB 341-3)
Tel.: (514) 848-2424 ex. 7738







-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Jesse Ephraim
Sent: Saturday, September 06, 2008 3:49 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] NGC4LIB Digest - 22 Aug 2008 to 23 Aug 2008 (#2008-39)

>ILSes are, in fact, quite complicated, since, not only do

>they manage workflows, but have to deal with each

>individual doing everything a little bit differently

>(as Jonathan Rochkind says, "we're unique little snowflakes").

...

>However, if they were 'simple systems' like you claim, the OSS

>alternatives would have far surpassed the competition years ago.



Complexity is a relative thing. From a programmatic standpoint, ILSes
are not very complex - certainly nowhere near the level of most business
systems and games. Some of them - Horizon, for example - would barely
pass muster as shareware, at least from a reliability and design
standpoint. I helped build much, much more complex business and
entertainment applications during my decade as a professional
programmer.



Even at that, there is a lot of unnecessary complexity in many ILSes,
often stemming from the use of archaic data handling methods and
proprietary, closed systems. There are a lot of parts to ILSes, and it
would take a little time to build a complete system from scratch, but
they are ultimately just specialized forms of a certain type of common
business software. Patrons are "customers," books and such are our
"products," and circulation is just a type of "order fulfillment."
Rules and exceptions that may apply to certain individuals, items,
branches ("distribution centers"), records, etc., but that is also true
of the systems used by warehouses and distribution centers.



Amazon and LibraryThing are doing the innovation that libraries SHOULD
have been doing a decade ago. They are leaving the library world in the
dust. LibraryThing even markets their own technology to libraries,
when ILS vendors - or libraries themselves - should have been developing
the same types of software back in the 1990s. Good for them. Shame on
us.



As far as open source systems vs. commercial systems, the normal
"survival of the fittest" rules don't really apply. Libraries often
don't make the most logical, cost-effective technology choices,
particularly when it comes to ILSes. Since libraries have allowed ILS
vendors to slap huge price tags on their software - often with
ridiculously high "maintenance fees" - they have dug themselves into a
situation where dropping those systems becomes politically complex. It
is hard to justify an ILS change to city councils, library boards, and
school administrators when you have bought into a system that costs tens
of thousands of dollars.



Since most librarians are not very technically proficient, and most
libraries (outside of some large public ones or university systems)
don't have techs on staff, they often buy into systems without knowing
how to realistically evaluate them. Many stay away from open source
systems because they don't have anyone on staff who can install and
maintain them, or they have some vague concept (often promoted by
commercial vendors) of them being "unstable."



Since hiring a devoted tech person with coding and other development
skills is not possible for most small (and many mid-sized) libraries, we
need to see library schools teaching those skills, or at least teaching
students how to realistically evaluate ILS software.



Jesse Ephraim



Youth Services Librarian

Southlake Public Library

1400 Main St., Ste. 130

Southlake, TX 76092



Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us

Phone: (817) 748-8248

FAX: (817) 748-8250

www.southlakelibrary.org <http://www.southlakelibrary.org/>

uncommonly friendly service
Charley Pennell
2008-09-08 17:31:56 UTC
Permalink
This is a pretty cynical generality to make, and certainly not true in
many cases. Libraries that do not hire the best person that they could
afford to hire for the task at hand are pretty short-sighted and would
certainly not be able to keep up on the technology side without
qualified programmers, DBAs, Web designers, and so on. The NCSU
Libraries, while hardly a small- to medium-sized institution, routinely
hires IT professionals to build Web apps and/or databases, and to design
and implement our Endeca search environment. In some cases, these folks
also have an MLS/MIS, but in others they do not. However, it could
easily be demonstrated that hiring people with an investment in the
public service mission of the library is pretty much mandatory if you
want to retain these IT professionals. Libraries of any size are not
going to be able to compete with Google or EA on salaries and benefits,
so IT folks who are primarily interested in making big bucks and hanging
out with other gaming nerds would probably not be happy in a library
setting. This might be one reason we tend to hire librarians rather
than IT people. On the other hand, if the IT person was committed to
our mission and willing to work for libraryish salaries, we would be
fools not to hire them.

Charley

Tomasz Neugebauer wrote:
> Jesse,
>
> You said, "Since hiring a devoted tech person with coding and other development skills is not possible for most small (and many mid-sized) libraries [...]".
>
> I think that libraries *choose* not hire people with information technology skills. Hiring an IT professional with project management expertise might be perceived as an admission that librarians are not self-sufficient, that they need software engineers and information systems analysts to innovate the library. Libraries attempt to hide this "insufficiency" by choosing instead to 'outsource' IT needs. The idea here is to buy the library technology needs like a product, just like they have been buying books - business as usual. The result is the perpetuation of insufficient information technology expertise within libraries. This is a choice (a mistake), not a result of 'impossibility'.
>
>
> Tomasz Neugebauer
> Digital Projects & Systems Development Librarian
> ***@concordia.ca
> Concordia University Libraries
> 1400 de Maisonneuve West (LB 341-3)
> Tel.: (514) 848-2424 ex. 7738
>
Jesse Ephraim
2008-09-08 17:49:43 UTC
Permalink
>Please don't tar "commercial vendors" as being
>against open source: some of us develop, distribute
>and support open source software for libraries.

Yes, some of you do. I said "often promoted by," not "promoted by all."

>And please don't perpetuate the myth that commercial support
>is not available for open source software.

That is true.

When I say "commercial vendors" in this sense, I am generally talking
about companies that create (from scratch), sell, and maintain
proprietary ILSes, not those who are working with open source packages.

Jesse Ephraim

Youth Services Librarian
Southlake Public Library
1400 Main St., Ste. 130
Southlake, TX 76092

Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us
Phone: (817) 748-8248
FAX: (817) 748-8250
www.southlakelibrary.org
uncommonly friendly service
Joshua Ferraro
2008-09-08 18:33:01 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 1:49 PM, Jesse Ephraim
<***@ci.southlake.tx.us> wrote:
>>Please don't tar "commercial vendors" as being
>>against open source: some of us develop, distribute
>>and support open source software for libraries.
>
> Yes, some of you do. I said "often promoted by," not "promoted by all."
>
>>And please don't perpetuate the myth that commercial support
>>is not available for open source software.
>
> That is true.
>
> When I say "commercial vendors" in this sense, I am generally talking
> about companies that create (from scratch), sell, and maintain
> proprietary ILSes, not those who are working with open source packages.
Just FYI, the preferred phrase in that context would be 'proprietary vendors'.
Those of us providing commercial open source software tend to be pretty
sensitive about the distinction ;-).

Cheers,

--
Joshua Ferraro SUPPORT FOR OPEN-SOURCE SOFTWARE
CEO migration, training, maintenance, support
LibLime Featuring Koha Open-Source ILS
***@liblime.com |Full Demos at http://liblime.com/koha |1(888)KohaILS
David Dorman
2008-09-08 19:22:58 UTC
Permalink
At 01:49 PM 09/08/2008, Jesse Ephraim wrote:
> >Please don't tar "commercial vendors" as being
> >against open source: some of us develop, distribute
> >and support open source software for libraries.
>
>Yes, some of you do. I said "often promoted by," not "promoted by all."
>
> >And please don't perpetuate the myth that commercial support
> >is not available for open source software.
>
>That is true.
>
>When I say "commercial vendors" in this sense, I am generally talking
>about companies that create (from scratch), sell, and maintain
>proprietary ILSes, not those who are working with open source packages.

I appreciate that, but there was a disconnect between what you said
and what you meant. It would promote clarity to contrast "open
source vendors" with "proprietary vendors." We commercial open
source vendors are still trying to convince librarians that open
source software can be as commercial as proprietary software if it is
distributed and supported by a commercial company. Lots of
librarians still don't know that. That's why I try to promote the
proper use of the term "commercial."

David


>Jesse Ephraim
>
>Youth Services Librarian
>Southlake Public Library
>1400 Main St., Ste. 130
>Southlake, TX 76092
>
>Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us
>Phone: (817) 748-8248
>FAX: (817) 748-8250
>www.southlakelibrary.org
>uncommonly friendly service

David Dorman
US Marketing Manager, Index Data
52 Whitman Ave.
West Hartford, Connecticut 06107
***@indexdata.com
860-389-1568 or toll free 866-489-1568
fax: 860-561-5613

INDEX DATA Means Business
for Open Source and Open Standards
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
www.indexdata.com
Cab Vinton
2008-09-08 21:51:50 UTC
Permalink
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Tomasz's comments are a gross
over-simplification and apply only to larger libraries and library
systems.

Roughly a third of US public libraries serve populations under 3,000
and have fewer than 3 FTE's. Our total annual budget is around $110k
and I can assure you that hiring a qualified IT pro is out of the
question for us.

I worked with a local IT guy to try to develop a model for hiring
someone cooperatively between a number of local small libraries but
without success. We got hung up on the logistical aspects of how to
divide the work and compensation between the different libraries.

A consortium would solve the problem, but good luck selling that idea
in a state whose motto is "Live free or die" :-)

Cab Vinton, Director
Sanbornton Public Library
Sanbornton, NH

On Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 11:47 AM, Tomasz Neugebauer
<***@concordia.ca> wrote:

> I think that libraries *choose* not hire people with information technology skills. Hiring an IT professional with project management expertise might be perceived as an admission that librarians are not self-sufficient, that they need software engineers and information systems analysts to innovate the library. Libraries attempt to hide this "insufficiency" by choosing instead to 'outsource' IT needs. The idea here is to buy the library technology needs like a product, just like they have been buying books - business as usual. The result is the perpetuation of insufficient information technology expertise within libraries. This is a choice (a mistake), not a result of 'impossibility'.
Tomasz Neugebauer
2008-09-09 19:21:56 UTC
Permalink
The claim that some sort of "impossibility" is the cause of insufficient IT expertise within libraries is an attempt to shift the responsibility for a decision or series of decisions or policies that result in this insufficiency to an immutable natural law. IT expertise within libraries is not a natural phenomenon, ruled by some sort of natural unchangeable law that is beyond our control. Administrators and policy makers within libraries (including university administrations and governments) make the decisions that result in the current state of things.

There are certainly libraries that have understood the importance of IT, and hired appropriately, NCSU is probably a good example, as was pointed out by Charley. I have to admit that I thought about listing NCSU in my original post, but I decided that it was not necessary. My point is that librarians and the administrators who make decisions that impact the state of libraries need to take responsibility. IT expertise within libraries is something that is within their control, and unfortunately, IT expertise is still not on top of the agenda for many libraries, for many reasons. I listed one such reason: unfortunately, the question of who is responsible for library IT development - librarians or software engineers - is still problematic.

Cab, it is true that I am not familiar with your particular situation, but are you saying that developing IT expertise is, in your case, the result of 'an impossibility'? That seems to be contradicted by your own statements about the fact that the reason for the failure in hiring someone cooperatively between a number of local small libraries was due to logistical aspects of how to divide the work and compensation between the different libraries.


Tomasz Neugebauer
Digital Projects & Systems Development Librarian
***@concordia.ca
Concordia University Libraries
1400 de Maisonneuve West (LB 341-3)
Tel.: (514) 848-2424 ex. 7738








-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Cab Vinton
Sent: Monday, September 08, 2008 5:52 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Tomasz's comments are a gross
over-simplification and apply only to larger libraries and library
systems.

Roughly a third of US public libraries serve populations under 3,000
and have fewer than 3 FTE's. Our total annual budget is around $110k
and I can assure you that hiring a qualified IT pro is out of the
question for us.

I worked with a local IT guy to try to develop a model for hiring
someone cooperatively between a number of local small libraries but
without success. We got hung up on the logistical aspects of how to
divide the work and compensation between the different libraries.

A consortium would solve the problem, but good luck selling that idea
in a state whose motto is "Live free or die" :-)

Cab Vinton, Director
Sanbornton Public Library
Sanbornton, NH

On Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 11:47 AM, Tomasz Neugebauer
<***@concordia.ca> wrote:

> I think that libraries *choose* not hire people with information technology skills. Hiring an IT professional with project management expertise might be perceived as an admission that librarians are not self-sufficient, that they need software engineers and information systems analysts to innovate the library. Libraries attempt to hide this "insufficiency" by choosing instead to 'outsource' IT needs. The idea here is to buy the library technology needs like a product, just like they have been buying books - business as usual. The result is the perpetuation of insufficient information technology expertise within libraries. This is a choice (a mistake), not a result of 'impossibility'.
Jonathan Rochkind
2008-09-09 20:33:14 UTC
Permalink
Tomasz Neugebauer wrote:
> top of the agenda for many libraries, for many reasons. I listed one such reason: unfortunately, the question of who is responsible for library IT development - librarians or software engineers - is still problematic.
>
You can be both a librarian and a software engineer. You can also be a
software engineer who is committed to and understands the unique
problems of libraries without having a library degree; and you can be a
librarian who understands how to speak techie and plan, project manage,
and evaluate technical projects without being a software engineer.

There are many of us who have both those competencies who participate in
communities like code4lib. There aren't nearly enough of us who have
both those competencies working in libraries in general. I think that's
what libraries really need more of. And it is too most definitely under
the control of libraries though, in terms of who they hire, what
qualifications they look for, what staff development opportunities they
provide or expect, etc.

The modern library _is_, in my opinion, a type of IT organization. If
the people making the decisions about what software to purchase, how to
allocate resources generally, who to hire or fire or promote, and how to
run the organization generally---don't understand technology and don't
particularly want to understand technology--that's what really puts us
in trouble. But that too is under _somebody's_ control. Just not mine.

Jonathan
Taco Ekkel
2008-09-10 06:42:45 UTC
Permalink
jonathan: completely different topic, but did you get my reply of
september 1st?

hope you're well!

taco



On 9 sep 2008, at 22:33, Jonathan Rochkind wrote:

> Tomasz Neugebauer wrote:
>> top of the agenda for many libraries, for many reasons. I listed
>> one such reason: unfortunately, the question of who is responsible
>> for library IT development - librarians or software engineers - is
>> still problematic.
>>
> You can be both a librarian and a software engineer. You can also be
> a software engineer who is committed to and understands the unique
> problems of libraries without having a library degree; and you can
> be a librarian who understands how to speak techie and plan, project
> manage, and evaluate technical projects without being a software
> engineer.
>
> There are many of us who have both those competencies who
> participate in communities like code4lib. There aren't nearly enough
> of us who have both those competencies working in libraries in
> general. I think that's what libraries really need more of. And it
> is too most definitely under the control of libraries though, in
> terms of who they hire, what qualifications they look for, what
> staff development opportunities they provide or expect, etc.
> The modern library _is_, in my opinion, a type of IT organization.
> If the people making the decisions about what software to purchase,
> how to allocate resources generally, who to hire or fire or promote,
> and how to run the organization generally---don't understand
> technology and don't particularly want to understand technology--
> that's what really puts us in trouble. But that too is under
> _somebody's_ control. Just not mine.
>
> Jonathan



--
Taco Ekkel
Director of Development

AquaBrowser / Medialab Solutions
Modemstraat 2B
1033 RW Amsterdam

office +31(0)20 635 3190
cell +31(0)630 181 165
www.aquabrowser.com
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-10 16:39:25 UTC
Permalink
On 09/09/2008, Jonathan Rochkind <***@jhu.edu> wrote:
> You can be both a librarian and a software engineer. You can also be a
> software engineer who is committed to and understands the unique problems of
> libraries without having a library degree

Pardon me, but as one example of the latter I had *huge* problems in
getting the general library world approval, no matter the ideas, the
expertize involved or the generic directions taken. If the *real*
librarians don't agree with your point of view, it just won't happen
no matter what it actually is, even in matters of your own expertize.
(And no, this still applies after we take out those cases where I was
wrong, thank you very much :)

I'm not saying this to put down the librarian race, but I'm sorry to
say there's quite a bit of librarian snobbiness going around.
(However, I haven't seen this amongst two groups in perticular;
catalogers and the newer generations of librarians, a funny little
observation)

Just don't think for a second that techies and librarians are treated
as equals. (Oh sure, *you* treat them as equals, and *you* haven't
seen this at your library ... :)


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Kevil, L H.
2008-09-10 17:53:55 UTC
Permalink
Hi Alex,

I think you are on the right track. Just a little addendum on what I
believe is a very serious problem: 'professional' positions, those that
pay more than minimum wage :-) , are often governed by bureaucratic
personnel regulations, so that only recipients of a master's degree in
librarianship may be hired or receive the usual promotion opportunities.
Since so much of what we do is governed by administrative
classification, IT people are effectively cut out of many normal
operations, such as committee service. (Not always a bad thing, mind
you.) This in and of itself will create an unfortunate divergence
between two groups that should be joined at the hip. At my university
not only are the technical people managed outside the usual structure,
but they must be paid hourly, even the department head.

Until this is addressed, we will continue to have separate and unequal
tracks for staff and will continue the time-worn rut of libraries
shooting themselves in the foot regarding technology.


L. Hunter Kevil, Ph.D.
Collection Development Librarian
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65201
573-884-8760
***@missouri.edu



-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries
[mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Alexander Johannesen
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 11:39 AM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software

On 09/09/2008, Jonathan Rochkind <***@jhu.edu> wrote:
> You can be both a librarian and a software engineer. You can also be a
> software engineer who is committed to and understands the unique
problems of
> libraries without having a library degree

Pardon me, but as one example of the latter I had *huge* problems in
getting the general library world approval, no matter the ideas, the
expertize involved or the generic directions taken. If the *real*
librarians don't agree with your point of view, it just won't happen
no matter what it actually is, even in matters of your own expertize.
(And no, this still applies after we take out those cases where I was
wrong, thank you very much :)

I'm not saying this to put down the librarian race, but I'm sorry to
say there's quite a bit of librarian snobbiness going around.
(However, I haven't seen this amongst two groups in perticular;
catalogers and the newer generations of librarians, a funny little
observation)

Just don't think for a second that techies and librarians are treated
as equals. (Oh sure, *you* treat them as equals, and *you* haven't
seen this at your library ... :)


Alex
--
------------------------------------------------------------------------
---
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic
Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/
--------
Kyle Banerjee
2008-09-11 05:19:44 UTC
Permalink
> The modern library _is_, in my opinion, a type of IT organization. If the
> people making the decisions about what software to purchase, how to allocate
> resources generally, who to hire or fire or promote, and how to run the
> organization generally---don't understand technology and don't particularly
> want to understand technology--that's what really puts us in trouble.

This is what it boils down to. Any technologically dependent outfit
needs employees who have at least a basic understanding of what they
work with every day. This doesn't mean libraries need in house
developers, only that they know enough about the technology to ask
good questions and make good decisions.

I would consider it a major step forward if it became more common for
libraries to base major technology decisions on how things actually
work and how well they play with other services rather than just focus
on how cool things look.

kyle
--
Cab Vinton
2008-09-10 01:46:04 UTC
Permalink
Well, there's a lovely book on just what the nature of "impossibility" is:
http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/14099349

In any event, it's a bit of stretch to consider the type of ad hoc
consortium I discussed as hiring "sufficient IT expertise within
libraries". In fact, it seems far closer to the "outsourcing" that
Tomas bemoans.

More to the point, my point is that I don't think it's reasonable to
expect a majority, or even a significant minority, of libraries
operating with 2 full-time employees and limited budgets to be able to
hire in-house IT expertise ALONG WITH expertise in all of the
following areas essential to the operation of any library: human
resources, facilities management, customer service, local politics/
advocacy, public relations, marketing, fundraising, long-term
strategic planning, accounting, state and federal legal and regulatory
issues, collection development, cataloging, reference, programming and
instruction, etc. ad nauseam.

Given this menu of functions, it seems more than a little provincial
to insist that IT expertise be accorded privileged status. And I don't
imagine many would be shocked to learn that any individual w/ serious
IT chops who could also prove himself or herself competent in all of
the above areas would be compensated at far higher rates than all but
a handful of small libraries could afford.

Cheers,

Cab Vinton, Director
Sanbornton Public Library
Sanbornton, NH

On Tue, Sep 9, 2008 at 3:21 PM, Tomasz Neugebauer
<***@concordia.ca> wrote:

> Cab, it is true that I am not familiar with your particular situation, but are you saying that developing IT expertise is, in your case, the result of 'an impossibility'? That seems to be contradicted by your own statements about the fact that the reason for the failure in hiring someone cooperatively between a number of local small libraries was due to logistical aspects of how to divide the work and compensation between the different libraries.
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-10 16:42:44 UTC
Permalink
On 10/09/2008, Cab Vinton <***@gmail.com> wrote:
> More to the point, my point is that I don't think it's reasonable to
> expect a majority, or even a significant minority, of libraries
> operating with 2 full-time employees and limited budgets to be able to
> hire in-house IT expertise ALONG WITH expertise in all of the
> following areas essential to the operation of any library: human
> resources, facilities management, customer service, local politics/
> advocacy, public relations, marketing, fundraising, long-term
> strategic planning, accounting, state and federal legal and regulatory
> issues, collection development, cataloging, reference, programming and
> instruction, etc. ad nauseam.

I agree with you about hiring proper IT skills is hard for most
libraries, but just like to point out; can you think of any of those
"other" areas which are important to the library where IT isn't used,
or couldn't be improved with IT, or where the current IT could be
improved dramatically? Just a thought to the powers that be.


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Bigwood, David
2008-09-10 16:21:44 UTC
Permalink
IT is certainly important to today's library. However, so is marketing
and grant writing and fund-raising. Arguing that all libraries should
have an IT person is like saying they should all have a marketing person
and a grant writing person and a fund-raiser. That makes already 4
full-timers and no core library functions are being done.

Larger libraries have the ability to make decisions about allocating
funds between IT, marketing, grant writing, fund-raising and all the
other important functions. Smaller libraries don't. A large number of
libraries don't even have 4 full time staff. A library with only a
techie, marketer, grant writer, and fund-raiser would not be serving the
community very well.

Sincerely,
David Bigwood
***@gmail.com
http://catalogablog.blogspot.com
Twitter: LPI_Library
Ross Singer
2008-09-10 16:43:12 UTC
Permalink
Well, as a counter-argument, some of these roles *could* be filled if
libraries worked better consortially.

No, a library that is so small as to only have 4 staff probably
doesn't need a full time techie, marketer, grant writer or fund
raiser.

However, if they invested *some* of their resources towards the
percentage of these roles (shared with other, similar libraries), the
ROI would more than likely pay off in the long run.

The grant-writer PTE alone could probably find money for the PTE Tech person.

-Ross.

On Wed, Sep 10, 2008 at 12:21 PM, Bigwood, David <***@lpi.usra.edu> wrote:
> IT is certainly important to today's library. However, so is marketing
> and grant writing and fund-raising. Arguing that all libraries should
> have an IT person is like saying they should all have a marketing person
> and a grant writing person and a fund-raiser. That makes already 4
> full-timers and no core library functions are being done.
>
> Larger libraries have the ability to make decisions about allocating
> funds between IT, marketing, grant writing, fund-raising and all the
> other important functions. Smaller libraries don't. A large number of
> libraries don't even have 4 full time staff. A library with only a
> techie, marketer, grant writer, and fund-raiser would not be serving the
> community very well.
>
> Sincerely,
> David Bigwood
> ***@gmail.com
> http://catalogablog.blogspot.com
> Twitter: LPI_Library
>
Deemer, Selden S
2008-09-11 14:44:31 UTC
Permalink
With some trepidation, I'm going to dip a toe into this pool. I have worked as a librarian since 1971. Even though I elected to take some PL/1 programming classes in library school, by and large, libraries were unaffected by computers when I got into the field. This is certainly not the case in 2008, nor has it been the case for a considerable amount of time.

While I can accept the argument that a small library may not have the resources to hire even a fraction of an IT person, I cannot accept that librarians do not have the ability to acquire a modicum of IT skills.

Unfortunately, far too many of the librarians I have worked with over the past 35+ years have an attitude of "I can't do this unless someone teaches me to do it." What a crock. Today's libraries are inseparable from computers and IT. Someone who can't motivate him/herself to keep up with the technology should get out of the field and find some activity that doesn't require knowledge of computers (although that's increasingly difficult in today's world).

Selden Deemer, Library Systems Administrator
Emory University Libraries, Atlanta, Georgia
EMAIL: ***@emory.edu
PHONE: 404-727-0271
FAX: 404-727-0827



This e-mail message (including any attachments) is for the sole use of
the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged
information. If the reader of this message is not the intended
recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution
or copying of this message (including any attachments) is strictly
prohibited.

If you have received this message in error, please contact
the sender by reply e-mail message and destroy all copies of the
original message (including attachments).
Kevin M Kidd
2008-09-11 16:14:40 UTC
Permalink
I will re-iterate what several have already said in this forum: the problems we are having with the lack of technical knowledge in the library community is an indictment of library education in general.

Here at Boston College, we have had several newly-minted librarians come through recently, MLS in hand, who managed to finish library school with a mere smattering of technology competence sprinkled into their degree requirements. In this day and age, such a situation is nothing short of astounding. What technology should MLS students learn?

For starters, I would say they need more than a smattering of the following:
HTML/CSS
JavaScript
Relational Databases/SQL
Some Scripting languages (Perl/PHP, etc)

They should understand client-server architecture. They should know something about how networks function and the difference between internet protocols like HTTP, FTP, SSH and Telnet.

Again, this is just for starters.

I feel fortunate that, when I was at Syracuse Library School in the mid-1990s, my professors were both technologists and librarians. Many of them were working on cutting-edge technology projects, and I was a direct beneficiary of their knowledge and experience.

Unfortunately - 12 years on - this is obviously not the experience of most current students and recent graduates.

It's a big problem.

--------------------------------------
Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
Library Applications & Systems Manager
Boston College Libraries
Phone: 617-552-1359
Fax: 617-552-1089
e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/


-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Deemer, Selden S
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 10:45 AM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software

With some trepidation, I'm going to dip a toe into this pool. I have worked as a librarian since 1971. Even though I elected to take some PL/1 programming classes in library school, by and large, libraries were unaffected by computers when I got into the field. This is certainly not the case in 2008, nor has it been the case for a considerable amount of time.

While I can accept the argument that a small library may not have the resources to hire even a fraction of an IT person, I cannot accept that librarians do not have the ability to acquire a modicum of IT skills.

Unfortunately, far too many of the librarians I have worked with over the past 35+ years have an attitude of "I can't do this unless someone teaches me to do it." What a crock. Today's libraries are inseparable from computers and IT. Someone who can't motivate him/herself to keep up with the technology should get out of the field and find some activity that doesn't require knowledge of computers (although that's increasingly difficult in today's world).

Selden Deemer, Library Systems Administrator
Emory University Libraries, Atlanta, Georgia
EMAIL: ***@emory.edu
PHONE: 404-727-0271
FAX: 404-727-0827



This e-mail message (including any attachments) is for the sole use of
the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged
information. If the reader of this message is not the intended
recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution
or copying of this message (including any attachments) is strictly
prohibited.

If you have received this message in error, please contact
the sender by reply e-mail message and destroy all copies of the
original message (including attachments).
Ranti Junus
2008-09-11 16:57:52 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 12:14 PM, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
>
> They should understand client-server architecture. They should know something about how networks function and the difference between internet protocols like HTTP, FTP, SSH and Telnet.
>

I think there's already a program offered for this: MIS (Management
Information Systems), which is usually offered through a Business
school.


ranti.

--
Bulk mail. Postage paid.
Kevin M Kidd
2008-09-11 17:04:50 UTC
Permalink
>I think there's already a program offered for this: MIS (Management
>Information Systems), which is usually offered through a Business
>school.

Indeed. But I am talking about ALA accredited MLS programs.

--------------------------------------
Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
Library Applications & Systems Manager
Boston College Libraries
Phone: 617-552-1359
Fax: 617-552-1089
e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
Julian Clark
2008-09-11 17:50:51 UTC
Permalink
Human-computer interaction, systems analysis, information technology policy,
software evaluation, database design, information retrieval systems,
transformational information technologies. These are courses offered at my
school. We also have a new research center that might help to solve the
problem presented in this thread.
Brian Stamper
2008-09-21 15:34:07 UTC
Permalink
Some Googling suggests to me that would be Georgetown?

On Thu, 11 Sep 2008 13:50:51 -0400, Julian Clark
<***@gmail.com> wrote:

> Human-computer interaction, systems analysis, information technology
> policy,
> software evaluation, database design, information retrieval systems,
> transformational information technologies. These are courses offered at
> my
> school. We also have a new research center that might help to solve the
> problem presented in this thread.
Ranti Junus
2008-09-21 15:34:38 UTC
Permalink
>>I think there's already a program offered for this: MIS (Management
>>Information Systems), which is usually offered through a Business
>>school.
>
> Indeed. But I am talking about ALA accredited MLS programs.

*nods* I was trying to say that MLS programs might need to
collaborate with other departments/colleges rather than reinvent the
wheel. I took a course like that, where the course was open for LIS
and Computer Science students.


ranti.

--
Bulk mail. Postage paid.
Brian Stamper
2008-09-11 17:30:44 UTC
Permalink
As a person who does not have an MLS but would like to get one, I'm glad
you bring this up. I'm becoming more and more interested in the
technologies that *could* be applied to libraries, and this is what I
would like to study in a Master's program. I would also like to continue a
career in academic libraries, so an actual MLS is necessary. But as I go
shopping around for MLS programs, it is hard to find any that have a
decent technology component. So what do I have to do, some kind of dual
Master's program? Seems like that shouldn't be necessary, but most places,
if I want to do the kinds of things I want to do, it would be.

Glad you mentioned Syracuse, but that's one of the few places I've already
heard that does this well. (Actually, it's the only one that comes to
mind.) Any other nominations out there?

Brian Stamper
The Ohio State University


On Thu, 11 Sep 2008 12:14:40 -0400, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:

> I will re-iterate what several have already said in this forum: the
> problems we are having with the lack of technical knowledge in the
> library community is an indictment of library education in general.
>
> Here at Boston College, we have had several newly-minted librarians come
> through recently, MLS in hand, who managed to finish library school with
> a mere smattering of technology competence sprinkled into their degree
> requirements. In this day and age, such a situation is nothing short of
> astounding. What technology should MLS students learn?
>
> For starters, I would say they need more than a smattering of the
> following:
> HTML/CSS
> JavaScript
> Relational Databases/SQL
> Some Scripting languages (Perl/PHP, etc)
>
> They should understand client-server architecture. They should know
> something about how networks function and the difference between
> internet protocols like HTTP, FTP, SSH and Telnet.
>
> Again, this is just for starters.
>
> I feel fortunate that, when I was at Syracuse Library School in the
> mid-1990s, my professors were both technologists and librarians. Many of
> them were working on cutting-edge technology projects, and I was a
> direct beneficiary of their knowledge and experience.
>
> Unfortunately - 12 years on - this is obviously not the experience of
> most current students and recent graduates.
>
> It's a big problem.
>
> --------------------------------------
> Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
> Library Applications & Systems Manager
> Boston College Libraries
> Phone: 617-552-1359
> Fax: 617-552-1089
> e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
> Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
Katherine McConnell
2008-09-11 17:56:44 UTC
Permalink
The Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto offers 3 streams of study:
Information Systems, Library Studies and Archival Studies.

Entry into the Information Systems stream requires somewhat of a technical background already but builds on these strengths with courses in Database Design, Retrieval Engine technology, XML, and several courses in system architecture and requirements analysis.

Still, as tremendously useful as these course are, it is not the education of a software developer. But it makes it much, much easier to collaborate with them.
--
Katherine McConnell, MISt
Project Analyst
Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto


-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Brian Stamper
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 1:31 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)

As a person who does not have an MLS but would like to get one, I'm glad
you bring this up. I'm becoming more and more interested in the
technologies that *could* be applied to libraries, and this is what I
would like to study in a Master's program. I would also like to continue a
career in academic libraries, so an actual MLS is necessary. But as I go
shopping around for MLS programs, it is hard to find any that have a
decent technology component. So what do I have to do, some kind of dual
Master's program? Seems like that shouldn't be necessary, but most places,
if I want to do the kinds of things I want to do, it would be.

Glad you mentioned Syracuse, but that's one of the few places I've already
heard that does this well. (Actually, it's the only one that comes to
mind.) Any other nominations out there?

Brian Stamper
The Ohio State University


On Thu, 11 Sep 2008 12:14:40 -0400, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:

> I will re-iterate what several have already said in this forum: the
> problems we are having with the lack of technical knowledge in the
> library community is an indictment of library education in general.
>
> Here at Boston College, we have had several newly-minted librarians come
> through recently, MLS in hand, who managed to finish library school with
> a mere smattering of technology competence sprinkled into their degree
> requirements. In this day and age, such a situation is nothing short of
> astounding. What technology should MLS students learn?
>
> For starters, I would say they need more than a smattering of the
> following:
> HTML/CSS
> JavaScript
> Relational Databases/SQL
> Some Scripting languages (Perl/PHP, etc)
>
> They should understand client-server architecture. They should know
> something about how networks function and the difference between
> internet protocols like HTTP, FTP, SSH and Telnet.
>
> Again, this is just for starters.
>
> I feel fortunate that, when I was at Syracuse Library School in the
> mid-1990s, my professors were both technologists and librarians. Many of
> them were working on cutting-edge technology projects, and I was a
> direct beneficiary of their knowledge and experience.
>
> Unfortunately - 12 years on - this is obviously not the experience of
> most current students and recent graduates.
>
> It's a big problem.
>
> --------------------------------------
> Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
> Library Applications & Systems Manager
> Boston College Libraries
> Phone: 617-552-1359
> Fax: 617-552-1089
> e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
> Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
Jonathan Rochkind
2008-09-16 18:20:10 UTC
Permalink
Does the information systems stream get you an ALA accredited degree?

Because we're talking about how people who want to work _in libraries_
need more tech background then they are getting. And I'm seeing schools
that say "Oh, if you want to work in a library, you take these courses,
but if you want to learn tech, you take these other courses." Um, how
about both/and?

Jonathan

Katherine McConnell wrote:
> The Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto offers 3 streams of study:
> Information Systems, Library Studies and Archival Studies.
>
> Entry into the Information Systems stream requires somewhat of a technical background already but builds on these strengths with courses in Database Design, Retrieval Engine technology, XML, and several courses in system architecture and requirements analysis.
>
> Still, as tremendously useful as these course are, it is not the education of a software developer. But it makes it much, much easier to collaborate with them.
> --
> Katherine McConnell, MISt
> Project Analyst
> Faculty of Medicine
> University of Toronto
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Brian Stamper
> Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 1:31 PM
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)
>
> As a person who does not have an MLS but would like to get one, I'm glad
> you bring this up. I'm becoming more and more interested in the
> technologies that *could* be applied to libraries, and this is what I
> would like to study in a Master's program. I would also like to continue a
> career in academic libraries, so an actual MLS is necessary. But as I go
> shopping around for MLS programs, it is hard to find any that have a
> decent technology component. So what do I have to do, some kind of dual
> Master's program? Seems like that shouldn't be necessary, but most places,
> if I want to do the kinds of things I want to do, it would be.
>
> Glad you mentioned Syracuse, but that's one of the few places I've already
> heard that does this well. (Actually, it's the only one that comes to
> mind.) Any other nominations out there?
>
> Brian Stamper
> The Ohio State University
>
>
> On Thu, 11 Sep 2008 12:14:40 -0400, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
>
>
>> I will re-iterate what several have already said in this forum: the
>> problems we are having with the lack of technical knowledge in the
>> library community is an indictment of library education in general.
>>
>> Here at Boston College, we have had several newly-minted librarians come
>> through recently, MLS in hand, who managed to finish library school with
>> a mere smattering of technology competence sprinkled into their degree
>> requirements. In this day and age, such a situation is nothing short of
>> astounding. What technology should MLS students learn?
>>
>> For starters, I would say they need more than a smattering of the
>> following:
>> HTML/CSS
>> JavaScript
>> Relational Databases/SQL
>> Some Scripting languages (Perl/PHP, etc)
>>
>> They should understand client-server architecture. They should know
>> something about how networks function and the difference between
>> internet protocols like HTTP, FTP, SSH and Telnet.
>>
>> Again, this is just for starters.
>>
>> I feel fortunate that, when I was at Syracuse Library School in the
>> mid-1990s, my professors were both technologists and librarians. Many of
>> them were working on cutting-edge technology projects, and I was a
>> direct beneficiary of their knowledge and experience.
>>
>> Unfortunately - 12 years on - this is obviously not the experience of
>> most current students and recent graduates.
>>
>> It's a big problem.
>>
>> --------------------------------------
>> Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
>> Library Applications & Systems Manager
>> Boston College Libraries
>> Phone: 617-552-1359
>> Fax: 617-552-1089
>> e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
>> Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
>>
>
>

--
Jonathan Rochkind
Digital Services Software Engineer
The Sheridan Libraries
Johns Hopkins University
410.516.8886
rochkind (at) jhu.edu
Katherine McConnell
2008-09-16 19:38:44 UTC
Permalink
Yes, the MISt (Information Systems) degree from the University of Toronto is an ALA-accredited (professional librarian) degree. You get the same degree as those who specialized in the library or archival streams.

Katherine


-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Jonathan Rochkind
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 2:20 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School

Does the information systems stream get you an ALA accredited degree?

Because we're talking about how people who want to work _in libraries_
need more tech background then they are getting. And I'm seeing schools
that say "Oh, if you want to work in a library, you take these courses,
but if you want to learn tech, you take these other courses." Um, how
about both/and?

Jonathan

Katherine McConnell wrote:
> The Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto offers 3 streams of study:
> Information Systems, Library Studies and Archival Studies.
>
> Entry into the Information Systems stream requires somewhat of a technical background already but builds on these strengths with courses in Database Design, Retrieval Engine technology, XML, and several courses in system architecture and requirements analysis.
>
> Still, as tremendously useful as these course are, it is not the education of a software developer. But it makes it much, much easier to collaborate with them.
> --
> Katherine McConnell, MISt
> Project Analyst
> Faculty of Medicine
> University of Toronto
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Brian Stamper
> Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 1:31 PM
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)
>
> As a person who does not have an MLS but would like to get one, I'm glad
> you bring this up. I'm becoming more and more interested in the
> technologies that *could* be applied to libraries, and this is what I
> would like to study in a Master's program. I would also like to continue a
> career in academic libraries, so an actual MLS is necessary. But as I go
> shopping around for MLS programs, it is hard to find any that have a
> decent technology component. So what do I have to do, some kind of dual
> Master's program? Seems like that shouldn't be necessary, but most places,
> if I want to do the kinds of things I want to do, it would be.
>
> Glad you mentioned Syracuse, but that's one of the few places I've already
> heard that does this well. (Actually, it's the only one that comes to
> mind.) Any other nominations out there?
>
> Brian Stamper
> The Ohio State University
>
>
> On Thu, 11 Sep 2008 12:14:40 -0400, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
>
>
>> I will re-iterate what several have already said in this forum: the
>> problems we are having with the lack of technical knowledge in the
>> library community is an indictment of library education in general.
>>
>> Here at Boston College, we have had several newly-minted librarians come
>> through recently, MLS in hand, who managed to finish library school with
>> a mere smattering of technology competence sprinkled into their degree
>> requirements. In this day and age, such a situation is nothing short of
>> astounding. What technology should MLS students learn?
>>
>> For starters, I would say they need more than a smattering of the
>> following:
>> HTML/CSS
>> JavaScript
>> Relational Databases/SQL
>> Some Scripting languages (Perl/PHP, etc)
>>
>> They should understand client-server architecture. They should know
>> something about how networks function and the difference between
>> internet protocols like HTTP, FTP, SSH and Telnet.
>>
>> Again, this is just for starters.
>>
>> I feel fortunate that, when I was at Syracuse Library School in the
>> mid-1990s, my professors were both technologists and librarians. Many of
>> them were working on cutting-edge technology projects, and I was a
>> direct beneficiary of their knowledge and experience.
>>
>> Unfortunately - 12 years on - this is obviously not the experience of
>> most current students and recent graduates.
>>
>> It's a big problem.
>>
>> --------------------------------------
>> Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
>> Library Applications & Systems Manager
>> Boston College Libraries
>> Phone: 617-552-1359
>> Fax: 617-552-1089
>> e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
>> Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
>>
>
>

--
Jonathan Rochkind
Digital Services Software Engineer
The Sheridan Libraries
Johns Hopkins University
410.516.8886
rochkind (at) jhu.edu
Kyle Banerjee
2008-09-11 17:38:55 UTC
Permalink
> I will re-iterate what several have already said in this forum: the problems we are having with the lack of technical knowledge in the library community is an indictment of library education in general.
>

It is, but this is not a new problem. Most librarians' understanding
of the catalog (i.e. their primary access mechanism) is nothing to
write home about. To anyone looking to pick up the skills they need,
they are far better just getting involved in projects that interest
them than hoping they'll learn from a program.

kyle
Kevin Kidd
2008-09-21 15:32:56 UTC
Permalink
>It is, but this is not a new problem. Most librarians' understanding
>of the catalog (i.e. their primary access mechanism) is nothing to
>write home about. To anyone looking to pick up the skills they need,
>they are far better just getting involved in projects that interest
>them than hoping they'll learn from a program.

Your solution - simply encouraging librarians to get involved in technology projects that interest them - is the de facto way things are done now.

Clearly this is not working.

The point of making technical education part of the curriculum at a library school is that we instill in students the fact that technology and librarianship go hand-in-hand. This is the undeniable reality of librarianship today. I don't care if you want to be an archivist, a reference librarian or a systems librarians, you need to understand this stuff.

I would also disagree with the implication that taking courses in technology is inadequate for teaching the skills librarians need. Are computer science degrees handed-out to people based upon how many projects they dabble in?

Of course, librarians should - and do - involve themselves in technology projects. But the learning curve is very often steep. With a deeper classroom-acquired practical and theoretical knowledge of technology/computer science, librarians will be better prepared to learn new technologies and - more importantly - better equipped to imagine creative ways that such technologies can be effectively applied in the library.

--------------------------------------
Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
Library Applications & Systems Manager
Boston College Libraries
Phone: 617-552-1359
Fax: 617-552-1089
e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
Peter Schlumpf
2008-09-11 17:56:01 UTC
Permalink
Interesting thoughts.

I am one with a computer science and engineering background who chose to
take his skills to libraries, and took some graduate courses in library
science while at the University of Illinois in the late 1980s. I saw so
much potential. I've often wondered how the library community could have
influenced the development of computers early on, and what computers would
be like today if it had. Computing came out of math and engineering, but I
think the library community could have played a much greater role in the
early development of computing.

One thing that has always struck me is how the library community is so
inwardly self-obsessed and insecure, which one can see in the never-ending
debate: "Is librarianship a profession?" that continues to this day. Why
can't they feel secure in themselves as professionals and get on with the
work at hand? It's a waste of time and energy to even have that debate. I
think that's a big part of the problem.

I agree that MLS students should learn technologies like Javascript,
HTML/CSS, SQL, certain programming languages and Internet protocols, but
those things come and go. They should also have some understanding of the
principles that underly those technologies -- A basic grounding in math.
Algorithms and data structures. Programming (doesn't much matter what
language). Finite state machines. Networking. Human-computer interface
design. That kind of knowledge doesn't get old. They aren't going to be
computer scientists, but maybe this knowledge could be cast in a way that's
relevant to working in libraries, and they'll know how the technology they
use really works.

Peter Schlumpf
Avanti Library Systems
www.avantilibrarysystems.com
***@gmail.com


On 9/11/08, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
>
> I will re-iterate what several have already said in this forum: the
> problems we are having with the lack of technical knowledge in the library
> community is an indictment of library education in general.
>
> Here at Boston College, we have had several newly-minted librarians come
> through recently, MLS in hand, who managed to finish library school with a
> mere smattering of technology competence sprinkled into their degree
> requirements. In this day and age, such a situation is nothing short of
> astounding. What technology should MLS students learn?
>
> For starters, I would say they need more than a smattering of the
> following:
> HTML/CSS
> JavaScript
> Relational Databases/SQL
> Some Scripting languages (Perl/PHP, etc)
>
> They should understand client-server architecture. They should know
> something about how networks function and the difference between internet
> protocols like HTTP, FTP, SSH and Telnet.
>
> Again, this is just for starters.
>
> I feel fortunate that, when I was at Syracuse Library School in the
> mid-1990s, my professors were both technologists and librarians. Many of
> them were working on cutting-edge technology projects, and I was a direct
> beneficiary of their knowledge and experience.
>
> Unfortunately - 12 years on - this is obviously not the experience of most
> current students and recent graduates.
>
> It's a big problem.
>
> --------------------------------------
> Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
> Library Applications & Systems Manager
> Boston College Libraries
> Phone: 617-552-1359
> Fax: 617-552-1089
> e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
> Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:
> ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Deemer, Selden S
> Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 10:45 AM
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software
>
> With some trepidation, I'm going to dip a toe into this pool. I have worked
> as a librarian since 1971. Even though I elected to take some PL/1
> programming classes in library school, by and large, libraries were
> unaffected by computers when I got into the field. This is certainly not the
> case in 2008, nor has it been the case for a considerable amount of time.
>
> While I can accept the argument that a small library may not have the
> resources to hire even a fraction of an IT person, I cannot accept that
> librarians do not have the ability to acquire a modicum of IT skills.
>
> Unfortunately, far too many of the librarians I have worked with over the
> past 35+ years have an attitude of "I can't do this unless someone teaches
> me to do it." What a crock. Today's libraries are inseparable from computers
> and IT. Someone who can't motivate him/herself to keep up with the
> technology should get out of the field and find some activity that doesn't
> require knowledge of computers (although that's increasingly difficult in
> today's world).
>
> Selden Deemer, Library Systems Administrator
> Emory University Libraries, Atlanta, Georgia
> EMAIL: ***@emory.edu
> PHONE: 404-727-0271
> FAX: 404-727-0827
>
>
>
> This e-mail message (including any attachments) is for the sole use of
> the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged
> information. If the reader of this message is not the intended
> recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution
> or copying of this message (including any attachments) is strictly
> prohibited.
>
> If you have received this message in error, please contact
> the sender by reply e-mail message and destroy all copies of the
> original message (including attachments).
>
Deborah DeGeorge
2008-09-21 15:33:36 UTC
Permalink
Conversely, at my library school alma mater (School of Information, University of Michigan), technology courses make up the bulk of the program. It's "traditional" library courses which are lacking -- I think there might be four? at this point.

I got my MLIS 10 years ago, but I was under the impression that more library programs were taking a more technology-based path. Evidently not, which surprises me.

Deb

-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Peter Schlumpf
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 1:56 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)

Interesting thoughts.

I am one with a computer science and engineering background who chose to
take his skills to libraries, and took some graduate courses in library
science while at the University of Illinois in the late 1980s. I saw so
much potential. I've often wondered how the library community could have
influenced the development of computers early on, and what computers would
be like today if it had. Computing came out of math and engineering, but I
think the library community could have played a much greater role in the
early development of computing.

One thing that has always struck me is how the library community is so
inwardly self-obsessed and insecure, which one can see in the never-ending
debate: "Is librarianship a profession?" that continues to this day. Why
can't they feel secure in themselves as professionals and get on with the
work at hand? It's a waste of time and energy to even have that debate. I
think that's a big part of the problem.

I agree that MLS students should learn technologies like Javascript,
HTML/CSS, SQL, certain programming languages and Internet protocols, but
those things come and go. They should also have some understanding of the
principles that underly those technologies -- A basic grounding in math.
Algorithms and data structures. Programming (doesn't much matter what
language). Finite state machines. Networking. Human-computer interface
design. That kind of knowledge doesn't get old. They aren't going to be
computer scientists, but maybe this knowledge could be cast in a way that's
relevant to working in libraries, and they'll know how the technology they
use really works.

Peter Schlumpf
Avanti Library Systems
www.avantilibrarysystems.com
***@gmail.com


On 9/11/08, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
>
> I will re-iterate what several have already said in this forum: the
> problems we are having with the lack of technical knowledge in the library
> community is an indictment of library education in general.
>
> Here at Boston College, we have had several newly-minted librarians come
> through recently, MLS in hand, who managed to finish library school with a
> mere smattering of technology competence sprinkled into their degree
> requirements. In this day and age, such a situation is nothing short of
> astounding. What technology should MLS students learn?
>
> For starters, I would say they need more than a smattering of the
> following:
> HTML/CSS
> JavaScript
> Relational Databases/SQL
> Some Scripting languages (Perl/PHP, etc)
>
> They should understand client-server architecture. They should know
> something about how networks function and the difference between internet
> protocols like HTTP, FTP, SSH and Telnet.
>
> Again, this is just for starters.
>
> I feel fortunate that, when I was at Syracuse Library School in the
> mid-1990s, my professors were both technologists and librarians. Many of
> them were working on cutting-edge technology projects, and I was a direct
> beneficiary of their knowledge and experience.
>
> Unfortunately - 12 years on - this is obviously not the experience of most
> current students and recent graduates.
>
> It's a big problem.
>
> --------------------------------------
> Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
> Library Applications & Systems Manager
> Boston College Libraries
> Phone: 617-552-1359
> Fax: 617-552-1089
> e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
> Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:
> ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Deemer, Selden S
> Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 10:45 AM
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software
>
> With some trepidation, I'm going to dip a toe into this pool. I have worked
> as a librarian since 1971. Even though I elected to take some PL/1
> programming classes in library school, by and large, libraries were
> unaffected by computers when I got into the field. This is certainly not the
> case in 2008, nor has it been the case for a considerable amount of time.
>
> While I can accept the argument that a small library may not have the
> resources to hire even a fraction of an IT person, I cannot accept that
> librarians do not have the ability to acquire a modicum of IT skills.
>
> Unfortunately, far too many of the librarians I have worked with over the
> past 35+ years have an attitude of "I can't do this unless someone teaches
> me to do it." What a crock. Today's libraries are inseparable from computers
> and IT. Someone who can't motivate him/herself to keep up with the
> technology should get out of the field and find some activity that doesn't
> require knowledge of computers (although that's increasingly difficult in
> today's world).
>
> Selden Deemer, Library Systems Administrator
> Emory University Libraries, Atlanta, Georgia
> EMAIL: ***@emory.edu
> PHONE: 404-727-0271
> FAX: 404-727-0827
>
>
>
> This e-mail message (including any attachments) is for the sole use of
> the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged
> information. If the reader of this message is not the intended
> recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution
> or copying of this message (including any attachments) is strictly
> prohibited.
>
> If you have received this message in error, please contact
> the sender by reply e-mail message and destroy all copies of the
> original message (including attachments).
>
g***@GMAIL.COM
2008-09-21 15:35:08 UTC
Permalink
> For starters, I would say they need more than a smattering of the following:
> HTML/CSS
> JavaScript
> Relational Databases/SQL
> Some Scripting languages (Perl/PHP, etc)

Do all librarians need these skills? I'm not convinced that an IT
librarian and a reference librarian should receive the same training.
It's true that almost every librarian needs to use technology in some
format. However, the needs are different and thus I would think the
training also should be.

I feel it's dangerous to teach specific computer skills in an
undergrad or graduate level course. Most of my undergrad classes
focused on teaching the underlying concepts of computer science
instead of specific skills. One exception I can think of was my COBOL
class which I took mainly to get credits within a specific area. It
was one of the most worthless classes I've ever taken yet at one
point, COBOL was a very useful language to know. On the other hand,
my C++ course was useful but because it was designed to teach me the
general concepts associated with modern programming, not just the
specific language. I believe that library schools should ensure that
their students aren't petrified at the thought of technology.
However, I think students will get a better education if they learn
adaptabitily and how to self-learn as specific needs arrive.

Gem Stone-Logan
High Plains Library District
http://www.mylibrary.us/
Eric Lease Morgan
2008-09-11 17:54:05 UTC
Permalink
On Sep 11, 2008, at 10:44 AM, Deemer, Selden S wrote:

> Unfortunately, far too many of the librarians I have worked with
> over the past 35+ years have an attitude of "I can't do this unless
> someone teaches me to do it." What a crock. Today's libraries are
> inseparable from computers and IT. Someone who can't motivate him/
> herself to keep up with the technology should get out of the field
> and find some activity that doesn't require knowledge of computers
> (although that's increasingly difficult in today's world).


While I am certainly not going to say that every librarian needs to
know everything about computers, far from it, but I will say that a
library as a whole needs to know about computers and their
applicability to the profession.

To that end I wrote a blog piece for the LITA a couple of years ago,
and I think it is still relevant today. [1] In summary, the posting
advocates knowledge of:

* XML - modern-day MARC
* relational databases - the organization of information
* indexing - the searching/finding of information
* Web serving - making the information available
* programming/scripting - binding all of the above together

In the current environment, each one of these things plays in
important role in the creation, implementation, maintenance, and use
of "next generation" library catalogs.

P.S. I'm hiring. [2]


[1] http://litablog.org/2005/08/07/technical-skills-of-librarianship/

[2] http://libstaff.library.nd.edu/hr/documents/crra09022008.pdf

--
Eric Lease Morgan
Head, Digital Access and Information Architecture Department
Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame

(574) 631-8604
Jay Luker
2008-09-12 10:31:19 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 1:54 PM, Eric Lease Morgan <***@nd.edu> wrote:
>
> To that end I wrote a blog piece for the LITA a couple of years ago, and I
> think it is still relevant today. [1] In summary, the posting advocates
> knowledge of:
>
> * XML - modern-day MARC
> * relational databases - the organization of information
> * indexing - the searching/finding of information
> * Web serving - making the information available
> * programming/scripting - binding all of the above together
>
> In the current environment, each one of these things plays in important role
> in the creation, implementation, maintenance, and use of "next generation"
> library catalogs.

I'm curious if anyone's ever taken a stab at the flipside of a list
like this. In other words, what is the minimum a software engineer
should know about librarianship to be effective in the current
environment?

--
Jay Luker
Bernhard Eversberg
2008-09-12 10:49:55 UTC
Permalink
Jay Luker wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 1:54 PM, Eric Lease Morgan <***@nd.edu> wrote:
>> To that end I wrote a blog piece for the LITA a couple of years ago, and I
>> think it is still relevant today. [1] In summary, the posting advocates
>> knowledge of:
>>
>> * XML - modern-day MARC
>> * relational databases - the organization of information
>> * indexing - the searching/finding of information
>> * Web serving - making the information available
>> * programming/scripting - binding all of the above together
>>
> I'm curious if anyone's ever taken a stab at the flipside of a list
> like this. In other words, what is the minimum a software engineer
> should know about librarianship to be effective in the current
> environment?
>
It certainly isn't enough to know just XML and not MARC because XML
as such is merely a punctuation standard whereas MARC is not only that
but also a grammar and AACR/RDA/ISBD a manual of style. In other words,
XML as such cannot replace MARC but only ISO2709.

Relational databases are good at saving and retrieving stuff but not
at searching. Good OPACs usually have additional software for their
search functions, like tools for alphabetic browsing and keyword
indexing. SOLR, for example, doesn't internally use SQL and neither
does, to my knowledge, Google. (The latter also makes little use of XML)

The term "indexing" is ambiguous. In fact it has more than two meanings:

-- allocate subject terms or classes to resources (intellectually)
-- specifying the way in which metadata is to be processed for the
index or indices of a database
-- actually processing the metadata to create or update the index files.


B.Eversberg
Jesse Ephraim
2008-09-11 18:17:35 UTC
Permalink
> More to the point, my point is that I don't think it's reasonable to
> expect a majority, or even a significant minority, of libraries
> operating with 2 full-time employees and limited budgets to be able to
> hire in-house IT expertise ALONG WITH expertise in all of the
> following areas essential to the operation of any library: human
> resources, facilities management, customer service, local politics/
> advocacy, public relations, marketing, fundraising, long-term
> strategic planning, accounting, state and federal legal and regulatory
> issues, collection development, cataloging, reference, programming and
> instruction, etc. ad nauseam.

To me, the solution is to change the way librarian education is
structured.

I have been through graduate school twice, and was shocked to see how
simple it is to get a library degree. The work they expect out of the
students is more appropriate to a bachelor degree. I think we need to
go back to bachelor degrees in library science (for all the basics),
then have students specialize during the Masters, preferably in
something like IT, management, or marketing/advertising.

Jesse Ephraim

Youth Services Librarian
Southlake Public Library
1400 Main St., Ste. 130
Southlake, TX 76092

Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us
Phone: (817) 748-8248
FAX: (817) 748-8250
www.southlakelibrary.org
uncommonly friendly service
Julian Clark
2008-09-11 19:14:50 UTC
Permalink
I tend to agree with this kind of opinion re: LIS education. (Hopefully,
this thread has not gone too far off-tangent, due to being more appropriate
for another list.) I do not think that library science is strong enough on
its own to merit a BA or BS as a major. Having another undergraduate degree
in addition to education on librarianship. An ALA-accredited library science
degree that grants a ticket for admission to employment as a professional
librarian, IMHO, should fall somewhere between undergraduate and graduate
education. I am sometimes appalled at how easy LIS school (practicing
librarian track) is made to be for students. Specialization and/or
concentration would make LIS degrees at the graduate level much more
appropriate for that level. This is one of the reasons why I have chosen to
make my experience more challenging and fulfilling by pursuing research as a
part of my MLS degree program. Most graduate programs make people more
marketable, right (instead of serving as the absolute minimum requirement
for admission)?
Then again, it seems like most people entering LIS school these days (except
for most of those coming right out of undergrad) have had full careers doing
something else that would make them highly coveted and marketable (maybe
preferred?) in librarianship. In those cases, a graduate level certificate
(accredited, of course) might be appropriate.

On Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 14:17, Jesse Ephraim <***@ci.southlake.tx.us>wrote:

> > More to the point, my point is that I don't think it's reasonable to
> > expect a majority, or even a significant minority, of libraries
> > operating with 2 full-time employees and limited budgets to be able to
> > hire in-house IT expertise ALONG WITH expertise in all of the
> > following areas essential to the operation of any library: human
> > resources, facilities management, customer service, local politics/
> > advocacy, public relations, marketing, fundraising, long-term
> > strategic planning, accounting, state and federal legal and regulatory
> > issues, collection development, cataloging, reference, programming and
> > instruction, etc. ad nauseam.
>
> To me, the solution is to change the way librarian education is
> structured.
>
> I have been through graduate school twice, and was shocked to see how
> simple it is to get a library degree. The work they expect out of the
> students is more appropriate to a bachelor degree. I think we need to
> go back to bachelor degrees in library science (for all the basics),
> then have students specialize during the Masters, preferably in
> something like IT, management, or marketing/advertising.
>
> Jesse Ephraim
>
> Youth Services Librarian
> Southlake Public Library
> 1400 Main St., Ste. 130
> Southlake, TX 76092
>
> Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us
> Phone: (817) 748-8248
> FAX: (817) 748-8250
> www.southlakelibrary.org
> uncommonly friendly service
>
Deemer, Selden S
2008-09-11 23:42:33 UTC
Permalink
With some trepidation, I'm going to dip a toe into this pool. I have worked as a librarian since 1971. Even though I elected to take some PL/1 programming classes in library school, by and large, libraries were unaffected by computers when I got into the field. This is certainly not the case in 2008, nor has it been the case for a considerable amount of time.

While I can accept the argument that a small library may not have the resources to hire even a fraction of an IT person, I cannot accept that librarians do not have the ability to acquire a modicum of IT skills.

Unfortunately, far too many of the librarians I have worked with over the past 35+ years have an attitude of "I can't do this unless someone teaches me to do it." What a crock. Today's libraries are inseparable from computers and IT. Someone who can't motivate him/herself to keep up with the technology should get out of the field and find some activity that doesn't require knowledge of computers (although that's increasingly difficult in today's world).

Selden Deemer, Library Systems Administrator
Emory University Libraries, Atlanta, Georgia
EMAIL: ***@emory.edu
PHONE: 404-727-0271
FAX: 404-727-0827


________________________________
This e-mail message (including any attachments) is for the sole use of
the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged
information. If the reader of this message is not the intended
recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution
or copying of this message (including any attachments) is strictly
prohibited.

If you have received this message in error, please contact
the sender by reply e-mail message and destroy all copies of the
original message (including attachments).
Jesse Ephraim
2008-09-12 15:45:11 UTC
Permalink
>Unfortunately, far too many of the librarians
>I have worked with over the past 35+ years
>have an attitude of "I can't do this unless someone teaches
> me to do it."

I have had the same experience over my 5 years as a librarian. It's one
of my biggest pet peeves. A person in a professional position of any
kind should expect to have to do a certain amount of self-directed
learning so that their skills remain current.

>From my perspective, if a person is not willing to do that - or is
technophobic - (s)he should not select librarianship as a career.

Jesse Ephraim

Youth Services Librarian
Southlake Public Library
1400 Main St., Ste. 130
Southlake, TX 76092

Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us
Phone: (817) 748-8248
FAX: (817) 748-8250
www.southlakelibrary.org
uncommonly friendly service
Karen Coyle
2008-09-12 16:18:46 UTC
Permalink
Jesse Ephraim wrote:
> I have had the same experience over my 5 years as a librarian. It's one
> of my biggest pet peeves. A person in a professional position of any
> kind should expect to have to do a certain amount of self-directed
> learning so that their skills remain current.
>
>
>
However, it wouldn't hurt if our profession provided more learning
opportunities and more direction for self-learners. Many other
professions have well-developed continuing education programs (e.g.
teachers, medical professionals). I feel like we have no guidance from
our professional organization, guidance for exactly what has been
discussed here: what skills do today's librarians need? This shouldn't
be left to a casual mailing list discussion, but should be a major ALA
project. Instead, on the ALA site I find "ACTION GOAL: By 2005, ALA will
be a leader in continuing education for librarians and library personnel"

And, guess what, the goal wasn't met. I know it wasn't met because one
of the goals is:

/"ALA will use computer/communications technologies effectively to
provide a variety of continuing education programs for members."/

and we KNOW that's not happening.

If people knew what they should be learning and had opportunities to
learn, I think we'd had a better profession. Give people a sense of
direction and a way to measure their accomplishments, and they'll go
much further.

Since no one can know everything about the profession, how about
developing "tracks" that people can follow: management, technology,
collection curation, etc. Each of these tracks could have specific
learning goals, a set of readings (published by ALA for its revenue
goals), regional courses. At ALA conferences (which ALA considers to be
its major contribution to continuing education) have training based on
these tracks (not just a bunch of random programs decided on 18 months
before). And tie promotions to continuing education achievements.

It seems to me to be a no-brainer.

kc

--
-----------------------------------
Karen Coyle / Digital Library Consultant
***@kcoyle.net http://www.kcoyle.net
ph.: 510-540-7596 skype: kcoylenet
fx.: 510-848-3913
mo.: 510-435-8234
------------------------------------
Kyle Banerjee
2008-09-12 17:02:34 UTC
Permalink
> I feel like we have no guidance from our professional
> organization, guidance for exactly what has been discussed here: what skills
> do today's librarians need? This shouldn't be left to a casual mailing list
> discussion, but should be a major ALA project.

Actually, a mailing list might be exactly the right place. ALA has its
functions, but I really can't see them helping light the way. By the
time ALA could get anything going, the info would be way too generic
and stale for any reasonable CE program.

> If people knew what they should be learning and had opportunities to learn,
> I think we'd had a better profession. Give people a sense of direction and a
> way to measure their accomplishments, and they'll go much further.
>
> Since no one can know everything about the profession, how about developing
> "tracks" .... Each of these tracks could have specific learning goals, a
> set of readings (published by ALA for its revenue goals), regional courses.

We shouldn't treat ourselves like grade school children who have to be
spoon fed everything. Part of being a professional is figuring out
what you need to learn/do and then finding a way to acquire and apply
that knowledge. Expecting committees to determine which readings or
goals are best sounds like a pretty surefire recipe for keeping us in
the stone ages.

Our job is to help people coming up in the field and to share what we
know with others. That's hard to do if knowledge gets funneled through
a choke point -- particularly if there are other barriers to use such
as a cumbersome publication process or costs that discourage use.

ALA has struggled with the same basic issues for a very long time, and
its own members depend heavily on email lists and other forums they
discovered on their own to meet their needs. That speaks volumes as to
what is effective and what is not.

kyle
Karen Coyle
2008-09-12 18:21:35 UTC
Permalink
... I usually agree with you, Kyle ;-)

Kyle Banerjee wrote:
> Actually, a mailing list might be exactly the right place. ALA has its
> functions, but I really can't see them helping light the way. By the
> time ALA could get anything going, the info would be way too generic
> and stale for any reasonable CE program.
>

But that's not because ALA shouldn't be able to do it, it's because ALA
is a ponderous, incompetent organization.

> We shouldn't treat ourselves like grade school children who have to be
> spoon fed everything. Part of being a professional is figuring out
> what you need to learn/do and then finding a way to acquire and apply
> that knowledge. Expecting committees to determine which readings or
> goals are best sounds like a pretty surefire recipe for keeping us in
> the stone ages.
>
I disagree with your approach here. It's not that committees should
decide, it's that our profession *should* have a sense of direction that
informs its members. It is exactly this kind of leadership that ALA has
failed to provide. Continuing education doesn't have to be done on the
Soviet model where all thought is controlled; it could have a role of
providing inspiration and inspiring enthusiasm. Most importantly, it
needs to overcome the (probably many) instances where an institution's
management does not encourage exploration and learning, thus stifling
the possibilities for its employees. I can't tell you how many of my
vacation days I had to use to attend professional events and training
sessions when I was at the U. And I imagine it's even worse for folks
working for public libraries, many of whom can't get a day off to attend
training, even if they want to do it on their own time. I really see a
lot of mis-guided individualism here, as I see generally in the techie
world. There's nothing wrong with providing learning opportunities, and
not everyone learns best alone. This is a kind of "sink-or-swim"-ism
that I think is overall detrimental to the goal of having a more
up-to-date profession.

kc

--
-----------------------------------
Karen Coyle / Digital Library Consultant
***@kcoyle.net http://www.kcoyle.net
ph.: 510-540-7596 skype: kcoylenet
fx.: 510-848-3913
mo.: 510-435-8234
------------------------------------
Kyle Banerjee
2008-09-12 19:20:31 UTC
Permalink
> ... our profession *should* have a sense of direction that informs its
> members. It is exactly this kind of leadership that ALA has failed to
> provide. Continuing education ... could have a role of providing
> inspiration and inspiring enthusiasm. Most importantly, it needs to overcome
> the (probably many) instances where an institution's management does not
> encourage exploration and learning, thus stifling the possibilities for its
> employees....

OK, I follow now. Shame on me for forgetting about this aspect since
it is endemic and it is a major barrier to progress. At my previous
job, going anywhere out of state was very difficult (even on my own
dime) so I really felt out of the flow for awhile. The role you
suggest makes more sense in this light.

> ... I really see a lot of mis-guided individualism here, as I see
> generally in the techie world. There's nothing wrong with providing learning
> opportunities, and not everyone learns best alone. This is a kind of
> "sink-or-swim"-ism that I think is overall detrimental to the goal of having
> a more up-to-date profession.

I think that the environment most librarians and systems people work
in is a major contributing factor to the strong individualism you see.
Getting resources is dang near impossible, serious proposals are
killed by analysis paralysis, and once the legal or procurement people
get involved (which is in just about everything), we are condemned to
the bureaucratic equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits.

Sometimes, the only realistic option is to strike off on your own. I
think this holds us back, because it keeps things uncoordinated and at
a small scale, but it gets us through the day.

kyle

--
----------------------------------------------------------
Kyle Banerjee
Digital Services Program Manager
Orbis Cascade Alliance
***@uoregon.edu / 541.359.9599
Kevin Kidd
2008-09-21 15:32:56 UTC
Permalink
Continuing education issues and ALA competence (or lack thereof) aside, it seems to me that the point of making technical education part of the curriculum at a library school is that we instill in students the fact that technology and librarianship go hand-in-hand. This is the undeniable reality of librarianship today. I don't care if you want to be an archivist, a reference librarian or a systems librarians, you need to understand this stuff.

I would also disagree with the implication that taking courses in technology is inadequate for teaching the skills librarians need. Are computer science degrees handed-out to people based upon how many projects they dabble in?

Of course, librarians should - and do - involve themselves in technology projects. But the learning curve is very often steep.

With a deeper classroom-acquired practical and theoretical knowledge of technology/computer science, librarians will be better prepared to learn new technologies and - more importantly - better equipped to imagine creative ways that such technologies can be effectively applied in the library.

--------------------------------------
Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
Library Applications & Systems Manager
Boston College Libraries
Phone: 617-552-1359
Fax: 617-552-1089
e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/

-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Karen Coyle
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2008 2:22 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)

... I usually agree with you, Kyle ;-)

Kyle Banerjee wrote:
> Actually, a mailing list might be exactly the right place. ALA has its
> functions, but I really can't see them helping light the way. By the
> time ALA could get anything going, the info would be way too generic
> and stale for any reasonable CE program.
>

But that's not because ALA shouldn't be able to do it, it's because ALA
is a ponderous, incompetent organization.

> We shouldn't treat ourselves like grade school children who have to be
> spoon fed everything. Part of being a professional is figuring out
> what you need to learn/do and then finding a way to acquire and apply
> that knowledge. Expecting committees to determine which readings or
> goals are best sounds like a pretty surefire recipe for keeping us in
> the stone ages.
>
I disagree with your approach here. It's not that committees should
decide, it's that our profession *should* have a sense of direction that
informs its members. It is exactly this kind of leadership that ALA has
failed to provide. Continuing education doesn't have to be done on the
Soviet model where all thought is controlled; it could have a role of
providing inspiration and inspiring enthusiasm. Most importantly, it
needs to overcome the (probably many) instances where an institution's
management does not encourage exploration and learning, thus stifling
the possibilities for its employees. I can't tell you how many of my
vacation days I had to use to attend professional events and training
sessions when I was at the U. And I imagine it's even worse for folks
working for public libraries, many of whom can't get a day off to attend
training, even if they want to do it on their own time. I really see a
lot of mis-guided individualism here, as I see generally in the techie
world. There's nothing wrong with providing learning opportunities, and
not everyone learns best alone. This is a kind of "sink-or-swim"-ism
that I think is overall detrimental to the goal of having a more
up-to-date profession.

kc

--
-----------------------------------
Karen Coyle / Digital Library Consultant
***@kcoyle.net http://www.kcoyle.net
ph.: 510-540-7596 skype: kcoylenet
fx.: 510-848-3913
mo.: 510-435-8234
------------------------------------
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-21 15:36:05 UTC
Permalink
On 12/09/2008, Karen Coyle <***@kcoyle.net> wrote:
> It seems to me to be a no-brainer.

Yes, but it won't hold up to committee scrutiny, so will never happen.

But I think you've got a far worse problem; you haven't got any cool
jobs around. How can you hope to attract talent if the jobs are
boring, under boring supervision, with a boring salery to boot? Sorry
mate(s), but as long as you let librarians govern there won't be good
tech. I have so little faith in this ever changing. I *wish* it wasn't
so, but anywhere I go in the library world (being in it, talking to
all of you, seeing it from a distance) you get the same "repository of
some stuff no one really needs using some boring software that's
almost already obsolete".

Even going through Eric's list of "librarian techie must-have skills"
list I find it severly lacking, only preparing you for what is
becoming increasingly obsolete today. Relational databases? XML? IT
management? Software life-cycle? This is all 101 stuff. Libraries are
supposed to be experts in information management, and you want to do
it with 101 technology? Surely you jest!

Where are the experts in cloud computing, in clustering, in
large-scale meta data management, in reducio indexing, in smart
spidering? Where are the geeks who enjoy semantic data modelling
across silos? Or the ones who knows all there is to know about digital
identity management? Things that's actually damn, seriouslly
you'll-all-go-down-in-flames-without-it technologies? Where is it?
Where's the direction you need to make to get to it? Where's your
passionate people who understands all this and wants to see it
through?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again; you need to come up with
something radically different here. You can't beat this with smart,
long-term and slowly adapting techniques you've mastered so well. You
need radical, and radical is *not* library thinking.


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Joyce a Brannan
2008-09-21 15:35:37 UTC
Permalink
And it the related, "Where did you learn to do that?" - implying that because I didn't have a class, I can't possibly know how to do something. Well, years ago, a GOOD teacher taught me how to teach myself, how to follow directions, how to learn.

But this is common in all areas, not just libraries. There is a commercial on TV that imply one cannot have the common sense to choose a laxative unless a doctor tells you which one to use.

Joyce A. Brannan
Resource Management / Technical Services Librarian
Julia Tutwiler Library
University of West Alabama
Livingston, AL 35470
205.652.3677
***@uwa.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Jesse Ephraim
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2008 10:45 AM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)

>Unfortunately, far too many of the librarians
>I have worked with over the past 35+ years
>have an attitude of "I can't do this unless someone teaches
> me to do it."
Weinheimer Jim
2008-09-12 21:29:55 UTC
Permalink
If I may interject a few points here in defense of my colleagues, I must state that librarians have already been overrun by an incredible number of novelties over a series of decades. Almost all of these novelties have meant more work for less pay, fewer positions, less funding and finally, less prestige. Now come the biggest changes of all, and this is after all of the pains with keeping up with overwhelming workloads, learning complex new library systems that change constantly, and you hear everywhere that the changes haven't even begun yet. I am not saying that this is the correct way to think, but a relatively hopeless attitude is very understandable if you have lived through some of these changes.

One of the major problems we are facing is that the way forward is very unclear right now. In my own opinion, FRBR is already practically obsolete even though it was published only about 10 years ago and hasn't even been implemented yet. I am very concerned that everyone will go through all of the work of retooling for FRBR, rewriting rules and retraining, and it won't make a bit of difference. Web2.0 technologies may change everything even more, or they may be a flash in the pan. The new computer formats are terribly complex and who knows? It may turn out that in 10 years people will say, °XML is so obsolete and now it's YML.° Librarians have seen similar stories several times.

I believe that it is less important for librarians to be able to build databases from scratch, but they need an underlying knowledge of how people find information--*NOT* how they use library catalogs, which I think is the underlying assumption of FRBR--but how people find information and how that process can be improved. An understanding of the capabilities of the most advanced computerized systems is necessary, but hands-on coding is unimportant. That is, it is unimportant *if* you have a good computer technician who will genuinely listen to what you say and will build the tools you want. Of course, this involves negotiation and listening on both sides.

This is one reason why I am so much in favor of open source products. Open source allows someone to build tools that they want. Also necessary today and in the future will be a sense of imagination so that you can envision new tools that may use the powers of whatever new tools we have, while utilizing the historic strengths of our profession.

Will this happen? I doubt it very seriously.

Jim Weinheimer


> > ... our profession *should* have a sense of direction that informs its
> > members. It is exactly this kind of leadership that ALA has failed to
> > provide. Continuing education ... could have a role of providing
> > inspiration and inspiring enthusiasm. Most importantly, it needs to
> overcome
> > the (probably many) instances where an institution's management does not
> > encourage exploration and learning, thus stifling the possibilities for its
> > employees....

> OK, I follow now. Shame on me for forgetting about this aspect since
> it is endemic and it is a major barrier to progress. At my previous
> job, going anywhere out of state was very difficult (even on my own
> dime) so I really felt out of the flow for awhile.  The role you
> suggest makes more sense in this light.

> > ... I really see a lot of mis-guided individualism here, as I see
> > generally in the techie world. There's nothing wrong with providing
> learning
> > opportunities, and not everyone learns best alone. This is a kind of
> > "sink-or-swim"-ism that I think is overall detrimental to the
> goal of having
> > a more up-to-date profession.

> I think that the environment most librarians and systems people work
> in is a major contributing factor to the strong individualism you see.
> Getting resources is dang near impossible, serious proposals are
> killed by analysis paralysis, and once the legal or procurement people
> get involved (which is in just about everything), we are condemned to
> the bureaucratic equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits.

> Sometimes, the only realistic option is to strike off on your own. I
> think this holds us back, because it keeps things uncoordinated and at
> a small scale, but it gets us through the day.

> kyle

> --
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> Kyle Banerjee
> Digital Services Program Manager
> Orbis Cascade Alliance
> ***@uoregon.edu / 541.359.9599
Kevin Kidd
2008-09-21 15:32:56 UTC
Permalink
>If I may interject a few points here in defense of my colleagues, I must state that librarians have already been >overrun by an incredible number of novelties over a series of decades. Almost all of these novelties have meant >more work for less pay, fewer positions, less funding and finally, less prestige. Now come the biggest changes >of all, and this is after all of the pains with keeping up with overwhelming workloads, learning complex new >library systems that change constantly, and you hear everywhere that the changes haven't even begun yet. I am >not saying that this is the correct way to think, but a relatively hopeless attitude is very understandable if you have >lived through some of these changes.

Please forgive me, but I reject such a beleaguered view of librarianship. We *must* embrace the role that is being thrust upon us. The small exchange here is not an attack upon the library profession. On the contrary, I read it as a sort of call to librarianship to continue to be what it has been to human civilization.

Librarians' experience of technology has not been as a flurry of "novelties" thrust at them as they cower in their cubicles working to save our common heritage. Librarians, not technicians, created MARC. Libraries were among the first business entities to be automated. Long before computers, librarians devised ways for essentially all of human knowledge to be categorized and made accessible at a moment's notice. We want people be informed. We want people to get the knowledge and information they need. We know how to find stuff - good stuff. Not only do we know how to preserve stuff for a very long time - we actually care about doing so.

I would argue that practical, hands-on knowledge of databases and computer systems is far from unimportant. Networked information systems and related technologies and standards can seems chaotic and overwhelming, but they are not novelties. Characterizing them as such suggests a superficial understanding of the technologies themselves and the implications of employing them.

It is past time to acknowledge that true skill with technology is going to be - if it isn't already - fundamental to the
future of librarianship. If we fail to, we relinquish to our respective IT departments and/or local "geek squad", the job of explaining technology and its application to research to our instructors/professors. Worse, we constrain our ability to think creatively about how to use this chaos of technology to the advantage of our patrons and ourselves. Let's not reject an understanding of the tools a library patron might use in favor of a theoretical understanding of the "information-seeking behavior" of library users. We need to understand both, and In many ways the two things are inseparable.

Our profession must continue to teach the ideals and the ethic of service that are the center of librarianship. Nowadays, this means teaching the traditional curriculum as well as inluding practical and theoretical training in technology as requirements for advanced library degrees.

It is absolutely true that everything will change - that everything continues to change. Absolutely. It is also true that these changes will carry with them unprecedented opportunities for libraries to serve their users. Indeed, the opportunities we have and the challenges we face are astounding. To me, it is an exciting and opportune time for us.

| On Fri, 12 Sep 2008 23:29:55 +0200
| Weinheimer Jim <***@AUR.EDU> wrote:
| If I may interject a few points here in defense of my colleagues, I must state that librarians have already been overrun by an incredible number of novelties over a series of decades. Almost all of these novelties have meant more work for less pay, fewer positions, less funding and finally, less prestige. Now come the biggest changes of all, and this is after all of the pains with keeping up with overwhelming workloads, learning complex new library systems that change constantly, and you hear everywhere that the changes haven't even begun yet. I am not saying that this is the correct way to think, but a relatively hopeless attitude is very understandable if you have lived through some of these changes.
|
| One of the major problems we are facing is that the way forward is very unclear right now. In my own opinion, FRBR is already practically obsolete even though it was published only about 10 years ago and hasn't even been implemented yet. I am very concerned that everyone will go through all of the work of retooling for FRBR, rewriting rules and retraining, and it won't make a bit of difference. Web2.0 technologies may change everything even more, or they may be a flash in the pan. The new computer formats are terribly complex and who knows? It may turn out that in 10 years people will say, °XML is so obsolete and now it's YML.° Librarians have seen similar stories several times.
|
| I believe that it is less important for librarians to be able to build databases from scratch, but they need an underlying knowledge of how people find information--*NOT* how they use library catalogs, which I think is the underlying assumption of FRBR--but how people find information and how that process can be improved. An understanding of the capabilities of the most advanced computerized systems is necessary, but hands-on coding is unimportant. That is, it is unimportant *if* you have a good computer technician who will genuinely listen to what you say and will build the tools you want. Of course, this involves negotiation and listening on both sides.
|
| This is one reason why I am so much in favor of open source products. Open source allows someone to build tools that they want. Also necessary today and in the future will be a sense of imagination so that you can envision new tools that may use the powers of whatever new tools we have, while utilizing the historic strengths of our profession.
|
| Will this happen? I doubt it very seriously.
|
| Jim Weinheimer
|
|
| > > ... our profession *should* have a sense of direction that informs its
| > > members. It is exactly this kind of leadership that ALA has failed to
| > > provide. Continuing education ... could have a role of providing
| > > inspiration and inspiring enthusiasm. Most importantly, it needs to
| > overcome
| > > the (probably many) instances where an institution's management does not
| > > encourage exploration and learning, thus stifling the possibilities for its
| > > employees....
| > 
| > OK, I follow now. Shame on me for forgetting about this aspect since
| > it is endemic and it is a major barrier to progress. At my previous
| > job, going anywhere out of state was very difficult (even on my own
| > dime) so I really felt out of the flow for awhile.  The role you
| > suggest makes more sense in this light.
| > 
| > > ... I really see a lot of mis-guided individualism here, as I see
| > > generally in the techie world. There's nothing wrong with providing
| > learning
| > > opportunities, and not everyone learns best alone. This is a kind of
| > > "sink-or-swim"-ism that I think is overall detrimental to the
| > goal of having
| > > a more up-to-date profession.
| > 
| > I think that the environment most librarians and systems people work
| > in is a major contributing factor to the strong individualism you see.
| > Getting resources is dang near impossible, serious proposals are
| > killed by analysis paralysis, and once the legal or procurement people
| > get involved (which is in just about everything), we are condemned to
| > the bureaucratic equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits.
| > 
| > Sometimes, the only realistic option is to strike off on your own. I
| > think this holds us back, because it keeps things uncoordinated and at
| > a small scale, but it gets us through the day.
| > 
| > kyle
| > 
| > --
| > ----------------------------------------------------------
| > Kyle Banerjee
| > Digital Services Program Manager
| > Orbis Cascade Alliance
| > ***@uoregon.edu / 541.359.9599

----------------------
Kevin M. Kidd
Library Applications & Systems Manager
Boston College Libraries
Phone: 617-552-1359
E-Mail: ***@bc.edu
Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
Weinheimer Jim
2008-09-22 07:21:17 UTC
Permalink
> >If I may interject a few points here in defense of my colleagues, I must
> state that librarians have already been >overrun by an incredible number of
> novelties over a series of decades. Almost all of these novelties have meant
> >more work for less pay, fewer positions, less funding and finally, less
> prestige. Now come the biggest changes >of all, and this is after all of the
> pains with keeping up with overwhelming workloads, learning complex new
> >library systems that change constantly, and you hear everywhere that the
> changes haven't even begun yet. I am >not saying that this is the correct
> way to think, but a relatively hopeless attitude is very understandable if you
> have >lived through some of these changes.
>
> Please forgive me, but I reject such a beleaguered view of librarianship. We
> *must* embrace the role that is being thrust upon us. The small exchange here
> is not an attack upon the library profession. On the contrary, I read it as a
> sort of call to librarianship to continue to be what it has been to human
> civilization.
>
> Librarians' experience of technology has not been as a flurry of
> "novelties" thrust at them as they cower in their cubicles working to
> save our common heritage. Librarians, not technicians, created MARC. Libraries
> were among the first business entities to be automated. Long before computers,
> librarians devised ways for essentially all of human knowledge to be
> categorized and made accessible at a moment's notice. We want people be
> informed. We want people to get the knowledge and information they need. We
> know how to find stuff - good stuff. Not only do we know how to preserve stuff
> for a very long time - we actually care about doing so.

I guess I wasn't clear in my original post. I agree with what you are saying, but I still want to emphasize that librarians have already gone through incredible changes in the last 20 or 30 years. I am sure that there are still plenty of staff in almost every library who remember the huge changes with the introduction of AACR2 and MARC21. Then there were all of the changes in inputting methods when new library catalogs (acquisitions, circ, and cataloging were normally all separate), and when a new system came in, everything had to be relearned. I remember in one library I worked, the acquisitions staff had to learn 3 different systems in one year! Then came the big changes with the introduction of the ILMS, which brought all of the functions together, and this has brought tremendous organi
zational change and staff cuts, as acquisitions and cataloging began to merge. All of this has happened without the infusion of new staff but actual declines, no additional money, and very !
little in
the way of prestige.

We can also discuss retrospective conversion projects that are fabulously labor intensive and the opposite of glamorous. The conversions have gone from merging the various functions into the ILMS, or inputting the information on cataloging cards into computerized formats. Anybody who has survived even a single retrospective conversion project (and most libraries have many of them) will have numerous war stories of faulty decisions and outright errors all waiting to be cleaned up "someday." These errors occur through no one's fault, but tasks of this complexity cannot be achieved flawlessly,

Now with the internet and RDA, OAI-PMH, FRBR and a blizzard of alphabet soup coming at us where everything is going to change, along with zillions of items on the World Wide Web which has materials that can metamorphose every day, while almost everything we read mentions the obsolescence of the traditional catalog record and functions (including some things that I have written), finally I don't think anyone really believes that librarians are going to get more help in the future, then based on this I can certainly understand that someone who has lived through these events would have a rather hopeless attitude. Librarians are supposed to learn these new skill sets and keep up with developments, wh
ile still being swamped with our "traditional work."

I am not saying that this is how it should be, but I think this is how it is in many departments (at least in my experience). My own opinion is: we absolutely must have additional help if we are to have any chance at all to cope, but we cannot expect our administrations to hire anyone. Therefore, we must find help outside, where there are many different types of "metadata creators" busy making different kinds of "metadata records" around the world. Their records *can* be utilized now, but the standards (if there are any at all) are wildly variable. I see librarians as the people who can take these records (harvesting them) and ensuring some level of quality control of description and access. There could be many ways of doing this, most of them very poor, but I believe that we could devise
some methods that may be acceptable. All of this would involve a new theoretical framework and go far beyond the limitations of FRBR, RDA, and MARC21 (in my opinion) and would demand some l!
evel of c
ooperation from all sides. I think this would be an exciting direction for almost everyone involved.

But it involves huge changes for everyone as well. I don't know if people are willing to change this much.

Jim Weinheimer
Weinheimer Jim
2008-09-22 08:43:23 UTC
Permalink
Alexander Johannesen wrote:

> Where are the experts in cloud computing, in clustering, in
> large-scale meta data management, in reducio indexing, in smart
> spidering? Where are the geeks who enjoy semantic data modelling
> across silos? Or the ones who knows all there is to know about digital
> identity management? Things that's actually damn, seriouslly
> you'll-all-go-down-in-flames-without-it technologies? Where is it?
> Where's the direction you need to make to get to it? Where's your
> passionate people who understands all this and wants to see it
> through?

While this is all very good, I would like to point out that it is still all experimental. We still don't know which way to go, and it may turn out that the solution will be some method discovered six months from now. There is nothing surprising about this since we are in a time of major changes and attempts must be made to decide what works and what does not work. Library administrators facing tight budgets can find it very difficult to justify experimentation which automatically means that there can be failure and resultant "waste" (at least in a strictly budgetary sense). I would also like to point out that individual libraries have normally left these affairs up to the vendors since open-source solutions are relatively new.
 
> I've said it before, and I'll say it again; you need to come up with
> something radically different here. You can't beat this with smart,
> long-term and slowly adapting techniques you've mastered so well. You
> need radical, and radical is *not* library thinking.

Well said. We need radical changes and I see very few radical proposals coming from libraries. One of the main things--and easiest to implement--would be for libraries to open up their catalog records for general experimentation. I'm still not sure exactly why libraries are so reluctant to do this.

Jim Weinheimer
Jonathan Rochkind
2008-09-22 15:04:30 UTC
Permalink
Weinheimer Jim wrote:
>
> Well said. We need radical changes and I see very few radical proposals coming from libraries. One of the main things--and easiest to implement--would be for libraries to open up their catalog records for general experimentation. I'm still not sure exactly why libraries are so reluctant to do this.
>

I believe the answer to that reluctance is "OCLC".

Jonathan
Weinheimer Jim
2008-09-22 21:04:39 UTC
Permalink
> 1. Cloud computing is just a new "Web 2.0" name for what many in the
> industry have been doing for the last 10-15 years (and no, 10 years is
> not recently; that's *ancient* in Internet-time :),

I agree with what you say, but this shows a definite temporal shift in our respective "universes:" 10 to 15 years is ancient in internet time, but in library time, something that's been around for 15 years is still in diapers. So in the "library universe," these technologies are still working themselves out.

I'm not saying that this is the way it should be, and librarians have had their heads in the sand for too long concerning getting control of the new materials and formats (new in library terms, but they may have been around for 15+ years!). For example, has cloud computing and clustering proven themselves in library contexts? No, but that is because they haven't *really* been tried in libraries yet other than a few small projects. And why? Because there is this problem of experimentation that I mentioned before and so the entire affair becomes a reductio ad absurdum. I personally believe that opening up our data would be the beginning of a solution to multitudes of problems. Look at the attempts already with the LC Subject Headings. Bernhard Eversberg has already made something much better
than the official LC version, and while I personally don't care for the version at the lcsh.info site (that's just my opinion), that is irrelevant. At least new attempts are being made. I'!
d like to
see an attempt with Grokker technology for clustering.

> this is you guys, which is why I'm so sad to see the library lag
> behind and leaving the meta data tasks of the future in the hands of
> big corporations.

This is the key point: if librarians don't try to solve these issues, somebody else will.

Jim Weinheimer
Ross Singer
2008-09-23 13:18:10 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 5:04 PM, Weinheimer Jim <***@aur.edu> wrote:
> and while I personally don't care for the version at the lcsh.info site (that's just my opinion), that is irrelevant.

Well, lcsh.info's purpose isn't for making the LC Subjects Headings
available in a web browseable interface. It was designed as a project
to model LCSH in SKOS and make it available as Linked Data. So
instead of using:

650 _0 |a Semantic Web.

You'd use:

http://lcsh.info/sh2002000569#concept

The former is useless in a web context. Using the latter (whether or
not you believe SKOS is suitable for LCSH is beside the point for
this) ensures that two disparate resources are referring to the same
thing.

Bernhard Eversberg's interface is made for information consumers to
use, while Ed Summer's application exists for information creators.

I think this offhand critique of design misses the point of their
completely different purposes.

-Ross.
Stephens, Owen
2008-09-24 09:49:38 UTC
Permalink
I think this is an important point - the way lcsh.info is structured
opens up some interesting possibilities (e.g. substituting all LCSH
terms in your catalogue with URIs; building a search engine that
'crawls' LCSH and presents a search interface based on this, etc.)

Are there any examples of people using lcsh.info out there to look at?

Owen

Owen Stephens
Assistant Director: e-Strategy and Information Resources
Imperial College London Library
Imperial College London
South Kensington
London SW7 2AZ


Tel: 020 7594 8829
Email: ***@imperial.ac.uk


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Next generation catalogs for libraries
> [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Ross Singer
> Sent: 23 September 2008 14:18
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library
> School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)
>
> On Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 5:04 PM, Weinheimer Jim
> <***@aur.edu> wrote:
> > and while I personally don't care for the version at the
> lcsh.info site (that's just my opinion), that is irrelevant.
>
> Well, lcsh.info's purpose isn't for making the LC Subjects
> Headings available in a web browseable interface. It was
> designed as a project to model LCSH in SKOS and make it
> available as Linked Data. So instead of using:
>
> 650 _0 |a Semantic Web.
>
> You'd use:
>
> http://lcsh.info/sh2002000569#concept
>
> The former is useless in a web context. Using the latter
> (whether or not you believe SKOS is suitable for LCSH is
> beside the point for
> this) ensures that two disparate resources are referring to
> the same thing.
>
> Bernhard Eversberg's interface is made for information
> consumers to use, while Ed Summer's application exists for
> information creators.
>
> I think this offhand critique of design misses the point of
> their completely different purposes.
>
> -Ross.
>
Jim Weinheimer
2008-09-24 11:02:43 UTC
Permalink
I wanted to emphasize again that while I personally don't care for the
interface of lcsh.info, my preferences are irrelevant because this is a time
of experimentation and anyway, when everything is encoded correctly, it can
be displayed in almost any way we want, and have multiple displays selected
by the user. Someone else may find this type of display the best they have
ever seen. That's fine. Everybody can be satisfied this way.

This type of display is becoming very popular however, take a look at:
http://www.bestiario.org/harvard/b10/ (thanks to Nathan Rinne) which, while
I prefer it to the lcsh.info browsing (at least I don't have to look at
words upside down!), I still find it overwhelming, but someone else may love
it. As Ross mentioned, it is important that this information is finally
available as URIs and that is uses SKOS.

Jim

James Weinheimer ***@aur.edu
Director of Library and Information Services
The American University of Rome
via Pietro Roselli, 4
00153 Rome, Italy
voice- 011 39 06 58330919 ext. 327
fax-011 39 06 58330992

-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries
[mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Stephens, Owen
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 11:50 AM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was
Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)

I think this is an important point - the way lcsh.info is structured
opens up some interesting possibilities (e.g. substituting all LCSH
terms in your catalogue with URIs; building a search engine that
'crawls' LCSH and presents a search interface based on this, etc.)

Are there any examples of people using lcsh.info out there to look at?

Owen

Owen Stephens
Assistant Director: e-Strategy and Information Resources
Imperial College London Library
Imperial College London
South Kensington
London SW7 2AZ


Tel: 020 7594 8829
Email: ***@imperial.ac.uk


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Next generation catalogs for libraries
> [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Ross Singer
> Sent: 23 September 2008 14:18
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library
> School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)
>
> On Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 5:04 PM, Weinheimer Jim
> <***@aur.edu> wrote:
> > and while I personally don't care for the version at the
> lcsh.info site (that's just my opinion), that is irrelevant.
>
> Well, lcsh.info's purpose isn't for making the LC Subjects
> Headings available in a web browseable interface. It was
> designed as a project to model LCSH in SKOS and make it
> available as Linked Data. So instead of using:
>
> 650 _0 |a Semantic Web.
>
> You'd use:
>
> http://lcsh.info/sh2002000569#concept
>
> The former is useless in a web context. Using the latter
> (whether or not you believe SKOS is suitable for LCSH is
> beside the point for
> this) ensures that two disparate resources are referring to
> the same thing.
>
> Bernhard Eversberg's interface is made for information
> consumers to use, while Ed Summer's application exists for
> information creators.
>
> I think this offhand critique of design misses the point of
> their completely different purposes.
>
> -Ross.
>
Stephens, Owen
2008-09-24 11:36:08 UTC
Permalink
I think the point is that lcsh.info is essentially an m2m interface -
in a sense, what's not to like?

On 24 Sep 2008, at 12:07, "Jim Weinheimer" <***@AUR.EDU> wrote:

> I wanted to emphasize again that while I personally don't care for the
> interface of lcsh.info, my preferences are irrelevant because this
> is a time
> of experimentation and anyway, when everything is encoded correctly,
> it can
> be displayed in almost any way we want, and have multiple displays
> selected
> by the user. Someone else may find this type of display the best
> they have
> ever seen. That's fine. Everybody can be satisfied this way.
>
> This type of display is becoming very popular however, take a look at:
> http://www.bestiario.org/harvard/b10/ (thanks to Nathan Rinne)
> which, while
> I prefer it to the lcsh.info browsing (at least I don't have to look
> at
> words upside down!), I still find it overwhelming, but someone else
> may love
> it. As Ross mentioned, it is important that this information is
> finally
> available as URIs and that is uses SKOS.
>
> Jim
>
> James Weinheimer ***@aur.edu
> Director of Library and Information Services
> The American University of Rome
> via Pietro Roselli, 4
> 00153 Rome, Italy
> voice- 011 39 06 58330919 ext. 327
> fax-011 39 06 58330992
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Next generation catalogs for libraries
> [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Stephens, Owen
> Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 11:50 AM
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was
> Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)
>
> I think this is an important point - the way lcsh.info is structured
> opens up some interesting possibilities (e.g. substituting all LCSH
> terms in your catalogue with URIs; building a search engine that
> 'crawls' LCSH and presents a search interface based on this, etc.)
>
> Are there any examples of people using lcsh.info out there to look at?
>
> Owen
>
> Owen Stephens
> Assistant Director: e-Strategy and Information Resources
> Imperial College London Library
> Imperial College London
> South Kensington
> London SW7 2AZ
>
>
> Tel: 020 7594 8829
> Email: ***@imperial.ac.uk
>
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Next generation catalogs for libraries
>> [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Ross Singer
>> Sent: 23 September 2008 14:18
>> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
>> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library
>> School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)
>>
>> On Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 5:04 PM, Weinheimer Jim
>> <***@aur.edu> wrote:
>>> and while I personally don't care for the version at the
>> lcsh.info site (that's just my opinion), that is irrelevant.
>>
>> Well, lcsh.info's purpose isn't for making the LC Subjects
>> Headings available in a web browseable interface. It was
>> designed as a project to model LCSH in SKOS and make it
>> available as Linked Data. So instead of using:
>>
>> 650 _0 |a Semantic Web.
>>
>> You'd use:
>>
>> http://lcsh.info/sh2002000569#concept
>>
>> The former is useless in a web context. Using the latter
>> (whether or not you believe SKOS is suitable for LCSH is
>> beside the point for
>> this) ensures that two disparate resources are referring to
>> the same thing.
>>
>> Bernhard Eversberg's interface is made for information
>> consumers to use, while Ed Summer's application exists for
>> information creators.
>>
>> I think this offhand critique of design misses the point of
>> their completely different purposes.
>>
>> -Ross.
>>
Jesse Ephraim
2008-09-23 17:27:01 UTC
Permalink
>I personally believe that opening up our data
>would be the beginning of a solution to multitudes
>of problems.

I agree. That is one of the major things that holds libraries back.

>This is the key point: if librarians don't try to solve these issues,
somebody else will.

Exactly. LibraryThing has achieved more in the past two years than the
majority of libraries out there.

Jesse Ephraim

Youth Services Librarian
Southlake Public Library
1400 Main St., Ste. 130
Southlake, TX 76092

Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us
Phone: (817) 748-8248
FAX: (817) 748-8250
www.southlakelibrary.org
uncommonly friendly service
Tim Spalding
2008-09-23 17:48:56 UTC
Permalink
My big hope is for the OpenLibrary project, but, while I don't follow
Open Library as closely as I was once, I get the feeling that it's not
winning—it's not succeeding in breaking the library data out, getting
enough non-library or user data to mount a challenge that way, or
involving enough people in the library community. I'm doing a lot of
publishing talks now, and I haven't met anyone who's even heard of it.
Open sourcing book data seems like a complete no-brainer, and yet...

Similarly, although LibraryThing has basically let go of a million
covers and series data as good as anyone else's, and it's going
nowhere. What works for us—and it's working like hell—are the things
we sell as ready-made services (tags, recommendations, soon reviews).
I would bet you anything that, if we had *sold* the covers, they'd be
used more. Seriously. Maybe we could sell them and then—psych—not send
a bill.

I think these are complexly layered problems—technology, culture,
habit, markets. In all these respects, libraries are dissimilar from
tech companies. It's not merely that librarians don't have the tech
skills we might want. Even if they had them, the whole culture is
geared toward dealing with known evils, not risky goods.

I also wonder about the idea that librarians need to do more of the
library IT work. Is this how other industries work? Does the banking
industry leverage technology successfully because there is a class of
banker-coders? No, whether they do it in-house or out, they basically
outsource the task to people who aren't in their industry. This is
harder for libraries because library technology—standards, apps—are so
(over) specific to the library field. It forces libraries to
concentrate more and more on something that is not, in the end, their
core strength.

$.02

Tim

On Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 1:27 PM, Jesse Ephraim
<***@ci.southlake.tx.us> wrote:
>>I personally believe that opening up our data
>>would be the beginning of a solution to multitudes
>>of problems.
>
> I agree. That is one of the major things that holds libraries back.
>
>>This is the key point: if librarians don't try to solve these issues,
> somebody else will.
>
> Exactly. LibraryThing has achieved more in the past two years than the
> majority of libraries out there.
>
> Jesse Ephraim
>
> Youth Services Librarian
> Southlake Public Library
> 1400 Main St., Ste. 130
> Southlake, TX 76092
>
> Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us
> Phone: (817) 748-8248
> FAX: (817) 748-8250
> www.southlakelibrary.org
> uncommonly friendly service
>



--
Check out my library at http://www.librarything.com/profile/timspalding
Tomasz Neugebauer
2008-09-24 15:59:37 UTC
Permalink
Tim said:

"I also wonder about the idea that librarians need to do more of the library IT work. Is this how other industries work? Does the banking industry leverage technology successfully because there is a class of banker-coders? No, whether they do it in-house or out, they basically outsource the task to people who aren't in their industry. This is harder for libraries because library technology-standards, apps-are so
(over) specific to the library field. It forces libraries to concentrate more and more on something that is not, in the end, their core strength."

Library is not a bank.

ALA mission statement is the following:
"To provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all."

The bank's mission statement is about making profits and providing financial services, not INFORMATION services. Information technology is at the core of information services and information access. The evidence for this should be obvious to any library who has been outsourcing their IT needs as they find that they still need IT expertise internally to make the outsourced products work in their particular situation. If information technology (technology used for information retrieval and access) is not one of the library's 'core strength', then what is?

Notice that we are now talking about the strategic decisions regarding IT and corresponding vision of libraries. At least the discussion moved away from talking about 'impossibilities' beyond the control of library administrators. It is one thing to make a strategic decision to outsource IT in libraries and not invest in internal IT expertise - and then defend that decision. Although I disagree with the strategy, at least it is presented as such. To present this strategy as some sort of inevitable result of natural phenomena is what really bothers me.

Tomasz




-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Tim Spalding
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 1:49 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)

My big hope is for the OpenLibrary project, but, while I don't follow
Open Library as closely as I was once, I get the feeling that it's not
winning-it's not succeeding in breaking the library data out, getting
enough non-library or user data to mount a challenge that way, or
involving enough people in the library community. I'm doing a lot of
publishing talks now, and I haven't met anyone who's even heard of it.
Open sourcing book data seems like a complete no-brainer, and yet...

Similarly, although LibraryThing has basically let go of a million
covers and series data as good as anyone else's, and it's going
nowhere. What works for us-and it's working like hell-are the things
we sell as ready-made services (tags, recommendations, soon reviews).
I would bet you anything that, if we had *sold* the covers, they'd be
used more. Seriously. Maybe we could sell them and then-psych-not send
a bill.

I think these are complexly layered problems-technology, culture,
habit, markets. In all these respects, libraries are dissimilar from
tech companies. It's not merely that librarians don't have the tech
skills we might want. Even if they had them, the whole culture is
geared toward dealing with known evils, not risky goods.

I also wonder about the idea that librarians need to do more of the
library IT work. Is this how other industries work? Does the banking
industry leverage technology successfully because there is a class of
banker-coders? No, whether they do it in-house or out, they basically
outsource the task to people who aren't in their industry. This is
harder for libraries because library technology-standards, apps-are so
(over) specific to the library field. It forces libraries to
concentrate more and more on something that is not, in the end, their
core strength.

$.02

Tim

On Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 1:27 PM, Jesse Ephraim
<***@ci.southlake.tx.us> wrote:
>>I personally believe that opening up our data
>>would be the beginning of a solution to multitudes
>>of problems.
>
> I agree. That is one of the major things that holds libraries back.
>
>>This is the key point: if librarians don't try to solve these issues,
> somebody else will.
>
> Exactly. LibraryThing has achieved more in the past two years than the
> majority of libraries out there.
>
> Jesse Ephraim
>
> Youth Services Librarian
> Southlake Public Library
> 1400 Main St., Ste. 130
> Southlake, TX 76092
>
> Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us
> Phone: (817) 748-8248
> FAX: (817) 748-8250
> www.southlakelibrary.org
> uncommonly friendly service
>



--
Check out my library at http://www.librarything.com/profile/timspalding
Tim Spalding
2008-09-24 17:06:18 UTC
Permalink
Fine, let's do an information industry. There are companies that
specialize in financial information, or government information. There
are newspapers and publishers. And so forth.

Are there IT people who work in these industries? Certainly. But is
there a class of newspaper coders? Publisher coders? Of course not. Do
newspaper types bemoan the lack of reporters with programming skills?
Of course not! Is the whole technical landscape at a publisher
constrained by highly specialized, over-engineered solutions? No. They
mostly use common IT tools.

In the rest of the modern information universe, this stuff just
*works*. You buy and use industry-standard tools, separate the
specialized task from the standard software and standards that
implements it. Meanwhile:

*Only libraries exchange information through Z39.50. Everyone else
uses HTTP and, if they ever encounter it, wonder what the hell
libraries are thinking.
*Only libraries have their own private format for books, the many
flavors of MARC. (ONIX is annoying, but at least it's XML!)
*Only libraries pay through the nose for special proprietary database
systems (ILSes) they often can't even access programmatically.

I'm very much in favor of libraries doing IT internally, as long as
they understand they're doing *IT*. So long as they think they're
doing some special "Library IT," they'll keep falling behind—and being
preyed on by the external vendors willing to facilitate and perpetuate
the dysfunction.

Tim
Ross Singer
2008-09-24 17:50:49 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 1:06 PM, Tim Spalding <***@librarything.com> wrote:

> Are there IT people who work in these industries? Certainly. But is
> there a class of newspaper coders? Publisher coders? Of course not. Do
> newspaper types bemoan the lack of reporters with programming skills?

Newspapers are hardly an industry to try to emulate at this point.
Maybe reporters with programming skills could help return them to
profitability.

> Of course not! Is the whole technical landscape at a publisher
> constrained by highly specialized, over-engineered solutions? No. They
> mostly use common IT tools.
>

For what function? I feel there is some comparison of apples to oranges here.

> In the rest of the modern information universe, this stuff just
> *works*. You buy and use industry-standard tools, separate the
> specialized task from the standard software and standards that
> implements it. Meanwhile:
>
> *Only libraries exchange information through Z39.50. Everyone else
> uses HTTP and, if they ever encounter it, wonder what the hell
> libraries are thinking.

Let's back up a minute here. Z39.50 predates the web. It predates
the standard use of HTTP to transport data. With Yazproxy there's
even a free and easy way to turn it into HTTP/XML. There's no reason
vendors can't do this, I figure it's that most libraries just don't
care that much about it.

> *Only libraries have their own private format for books, the many
> flavors of MARC. (ONIX is annoying, but at least it's XML!)

I'm not sure where to approach this one. To me, just being "XML"
isn't a particularly compelling argument. What does being XML afford
the data? I hate dealing with MARC, but I wouldn't say that it's any
worse than dealing with ONIX. Crappy data structures are crappy data
structures and the serialization is really second to that.

Not to mention the fact that there's plenty of ways to turn MARC into XML.

I guess I just don't buy this argument in the slightest.

> *Only libraries pay through the nose for special proprietary database
> systems (ILSes) they often can't even access programmatically.
>
Really, I'm only aware of one major ILS that has this sort of limitation.

How many HR departments really know how to code against their really
expensive PeopleSoft systems?

How many businesses have inventory control systems that they cannot
access programmatically (nor would care to if they could)?

My guess is a lot.

> I'm very much in favor of libraries doing IT internally, as long as
> they understand they're doing *IT*. So long as they think they're
> doing some special "Library IT," they'll keep falling behind—and being
> preyed on by the external vendors willing to facilitate and perpetuate
> the dysfunction.

I think this depends largely on the kind of IT that you're talking
about. Maintaining the staff and lab pcs is *IT*. System
administration is *IT*. But when you start developing software for a
particular industry, some domain knowledge, whether it's library,
banking, publishing or logistics is fairly important, at least for
somebody involved in the project.

-Ross.
Jonathan Rochkind
2008-09-24 18:00:04 UTC
Permalink
We libraries specially focus on organizing information and helping
people find information from amongst the entire universe of published
information (or at least printed information, and a large part of the
universe of electronically published information--we're still working it
out).

I agree with Tomasz that this mission means that, indeed we need people
who understand both libraries and technology. Do we need 'librarian
coders'? I think so, being one, but at a minimum, as I've said before,
we need people who understand and are committed to libraries and also
understand how to manage technology, evaluate technology, write
technological requirements, project manage technological projects, and
understand where technology is appropriately used.

Do newspapers need this? I don't know, I'll leave that to them (and I
suspect that many of them in fact DO if they want to survive), but I
agree with Tomasz that libraries by their very mission are _intimately_
involved in information technology in a qualitatively different way than
even newspapers.

Can one reasonably disagree with this, and think that libraries in fact
don't need any special technological expertise, or any more than they do
now? Sure, and apparently most of our administrators do.

Do libraries need vendor-provided technology that "just works"? Of
course. Do we have it? No. There are lots of things we can say about
why not, and many of us have written on that extensively before, but I
really don't think it's because libraries have _too many_ people who are
experts in technology and in libraries. Because, well, we don't. In
fact, I'd suggest that having more of those people would allow libraries
to have more reasonable expectations of what our vendors should give us,
and to reward those who do and punish those who don't with our business
(or lack thereof). Something we are not doing very well right now. And
it's not because we have too many people who think libraries have a
special relationship to information technology.

Jonathan

Tim Spalding wrote:
> Fine, let's do an information industry. There are companies that
> specialize in financial information, or government information. There
> are newspapers and publishers. And so forth.
>
> Are there IT people who work in these industries? Certainly. But is
> there a class of newspaper coders? Publisher coders? Of course not. Do
> newspaper types bemoan the lack of reporters with programming skills?
> Of course not! Is the whole technical landscape at a publisher
> constrained by highly specialized, over-engineered solutions? No. They
> mostly use common IT tools.
>
> In the rest of the modern information universe, this stuff just
> *works*. You buy and use industry-standard tools, separate the
> specialized task from the standard software and standards that
> implements it. Meanwhile:
>
> *Only libraries exchange information through Z39.50. Everyone else
> uses HTTP and, if they ever encounter it, wonder what the hell
> libraries are thinking.
> *Only libraries have their own private format for books, the many
> flavors of MARC. (ONIX is annoying, but at least it's XML!)
> *Only libraries pay through the nose for special proprietary database
> systems (ILSes) they often can't even access programmatically.
>
> I'm very much in favor of libraries doing IT internally, as long as
> they understand they're doing *IT*. So long as they think they're
> doing some special "Library IT," they'll keep falling behind—and being
> preyed on by the external vendors willing to facilitate and perpetuate
> the dysfunction.
>
> Tim
>
>

--
Jonathan Rochkind
Digital Services Software Engineer
The Sheridan Libraries
Johns Hopkins University
410.516.8886
rochkind (at) jhu.edu
Kevin M Kidd
2008-09-24 18:05:55 UTC
Permalink
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Tim said:

"I'm very much in favor of libraries doing IT internally, as long as
they understand they're doing *IT*. So long as they think they're
doing some special "Library IT," they'll keep falling behind-and being
preyed on by the external vendors willing to facilitate and perpetuate
the dysfunction."

I'm not sure what exactly this means - it's a distinction without a difference. Why wouldn't a librarian who does IT work understand that he is doing IT work?

All of the problems you mention (Z39.50, MARC, ILSes) are real and are a true hindrance, and there are reasons why these things were adopted in the first place. Put aside for a moment the fact that libraries began to automate and exchange data before most of the "common IT tools" you allude to were common, the fact is that librarians need IT skills to transform antiquated systems and practices and to *imagine* and implement new services which leverage the capabilities of "common IT tools".

While we can't teach imagination, we can teach librarians skills that will help facilitate the creation of new library tools and services. Understanding the research habits and needs of our patrons is a core strength of librarians - not of non-librarian IT people. We cannot, for example, sit around and wait for our IT consultants and/or our IT department to come up with a new mashup that might help economics students research or visualize a particular concept. It's not going to happen.

The point is that the library, not the IT department, is the fulcrum for the research and information needs of our users. Hiring an IT consultant to help you rid yourself of Z30.50 and move to Web services is fine. But library users look to us to help them navigate the chaos of information and knowledge available to them. If we don't understand how this stuff works, we will never be able to help our users understand. If, because our IT skills are extremely limited, we as librarians can't imagine how new "common" technologies might be employed to cut down on the noise and provide focused, appropriate services to our patrons, we are indeed perpetuating the dysfunction.
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-24 18:26:49 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 20:05, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
> I'm not sure what exactly this means - it's a distinction
> without a difference. Why wouldn't a librarian who does
> IT work understand that he is doing IT work?

Since this really cuts to the core of the problem, let's get it out in the open;

Libraries have been special for far too long, and that is why we're
now having this conversation and why the library world is in trouble.
An IT guy in a library is being told that he needs to make systems
that are special for the library, and every other librarian also
thinks the library is such a special place that software must be
custom made, that there are no alternatives.

But there are always alternatives, both on how you approach the
problem, and also on how you deal with your own specialness.

Libraries are probably best to change and compromise a little. Just
because you like to think in terms of stacks doesn't mean you must
have software that are written for stacks; shelves will probably do.
Just because you call your main users patrons doesn't mean that a
customer wouldn't do. And so on. For every problem in the ILS you will
find an outside alternative. This is a problem of not wanting to
change more than actually solving the problem.


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Ross Singer
2008-09-24 18:46:08 UTC
Permalink
Out of curiousity, what would this generic software that will lead
libraries out of their navels and into 21st century be?

What industry doesn't have their own specialized software?

-Ross.

On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 2:26 PM, Alexander Johannesen
<***@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 20:05, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
>> I'm not sure what exactly this means - it's a distinction
>> without a difference. Why wouldn't a librarian who does
>> IT work understand that he is doing IT work?
>
> Since this really cuts to the core of the problem, let's get it out in the open;
>
> Libraries have been special for far too long, and that is why we're
> now having this conversation and why the library world is in trouble.
> An IT guy in a library is being told that he needs to make systems
> that are special for the library, and every other librarian also
> thinks the library is such a special place that software must be
> custom made, that there are no alternatives.
>
> But there are always alternatives, both on how you approach the
> problem, and also on how you deal with your own specialness.
>
> Libraries are probably best to change and compromise a little. Just
> because you like to think in terms of stacks doesn't mean you must
> have software that are written for stacks; shelves will probably do.
> Just because you call your main users patrons doesn't mean that a
> customer wouldn't do. And so on. For every problem in the ILS you will
> find an outside alternative. This is a problem of not wanting to
> change more than actually solving the problem.
>
>
> Alex
> --
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
> ------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
>
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-24 18:53:06 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 20:46, Ross Singer <***@gmail.com> wrote:
> Out of curiousity, what would this generic software that will lead
> libraries out of their navels and into 21st century be?

What problem do you want to solve? In fact, let's reverse it; what
problem have libraries got that cannot be done by outside systems?

> What industry doesn't have their own specialized software?

There's different levels of specialness, and I think both me and Tim
here agree that there's simply too much library specialness and that
it is causing serious problems. I work as a consultant into *many*
industries these days, and the solutions we develop are always working
with domain experts using standard software that gets a slight tweak.
And trust me, we work in very diverse industries and libraries aren't
*that* special.


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Kevin M Kidd
2008-09-24 18:48:06 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 20:05, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
> I'm not sure what exactly this means - it's a distinction
> without a difference. Why wouldn't a librarian who does
> IT work understand that he is doing IT work?

Alex Said:

"Libraries have been special for far too long, and that is why we're
now having this conversation and why the library world is in trouble.
An IT guy in a library is being told that he needs to make systems
that are special for the library, and every other librarian also
thinks the library is such a special place that software must be
custom made, that there are no alternatives."

I think you simplify the issue, but you are right to say that many librarians feel that there are no alternatives to specialized systems. This is the very reason that we need IT education that goes hand in hand with library education. We need some understanding of the alternatives - indeed, some sense of the myriad possibilities current technology provides - among trained librarians...
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-24 18:57:18 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 20:48, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
> I think you simplify the issue,

What, on a mailing-list on the internet? Never!

> but you are right to say that many librarians feel that
> there are no alternatives to specialized systems. This
> is the very reason that we need IT education that goes
> hand in hand with library education.

May I also go as far as to suggest that you get your IT education
*not* from library school?

> We need some understanding of the alternatives -
> indeed, some sense of the myriad possibilities current
> technology provides - among trained librarians...

There's tons of stuff you do at the library which the outside world
also do, including card-readers, inventory systems, shelf-life
systems, borrowing systems, fancy indexers and spiders, and on and on.
The biggest problem with really adopting outside "help" like this is
because when the libraries look for them, they look for systems that
support ;
* z39.50
* MARC
* Patron management system
* Stacks delivery systems
* and so on ...


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
B.G. Sloan
2008-09-24 19:06:32 UTC
Permalink
What are "Stacks delivery systems"?


--- On Wed, 9/24/08, Alexander Johannesen <***@GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> From: Alexander Johannesen <***@GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Date: Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 2:57 PM
> On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 20:48, Kevin M Kidd
> <***@bc.edu> wrote:
> > I think you simplify the issue,
>
> What, on a mailing-list on the internet? Never!
>
> > but you are right to say that many librarians feel
> that
> > there are no alternatives to specialized systems. This
> > is the very reason that we need IT education that goes
> > hand in hand with library education.
>
> May I also go as far as to suggest that you get your IT
> education
> *not* from library school?
>
> > We need some understanding of the alternatives -
> > indeed, some sense of the myriad possibilities current
> > technology provides - among trained librarians...
>
> There's tons of stuff you do at the library which the
> outside world
> also do, including card-readers, inventory systems,
> shelf-life
> systems, borrowing systems, fancy indexers and spiders, and
> on and on.
> The biggest problem with really adopting outside
> "help" like this is
> because when the libraries look for them, they look for
> systems that
> support ;
> * z39.50
> * MARC
> * Patron management system
> * Stacks delivery systems
> * and so on ...
>
>
> Alex
> --
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX,
> RESTafarian, Topic Maps
> ------------------------------------------
> http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-24 19:10:50 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 21:06, B.G. Sloan <***@yahoo.com> wrote:
> What are "Stacks delivery systems"?

A library version of a shelf delivery system, which can be anything
from a fancy robot-driven storage and retrieval system, to the
librarian hitting "print" and wander over to section H to get the
thing. And anything in between. These are just silly examples of where
librarians miss out on perfectly good systems because they were
looking for the word "stacks" somewhere in the systems description.


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
B.G. Sloan
2008-09-24 19:33:39 UTC
Permalink
I'm not sure I understand the point of using silly examples. Doesn't it sort of weaken the argument?

For example, many people would dismiss the shelf/stack argument out of hand. Most librarians I know have the word "shelf" in their vocabulary, and many use "shelves" more than they do "stacks". To argue that "librarians miss out on perfectly good systems because they were looking for the word 'stacks' somewhere in the systems description" maybe shows a misunderstanding of librarians? I know it was intended to be a silly example, but it's sort of telling in a way.

Bernie Sloan


--- On Wed, 9/24/08, Alexander Johannesen <***@GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> From: Alexander Johannesen <***@GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Date: Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 3:10 PM
> On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 21:06, B.G. Sloan
> <***@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > What are "Stacks delivery systems"?
>
> A library version of a shelf delivery system, which can be
> anything
> from a fancy robot-driven storage and retrieval system, to
> the
> librarian hitting "print" and wander over to
> section H to get the
> thing. And anything in between. These are just silly
> examples of where
> librarians miss out on perfectly good systems because they
> were
> looking for the word "stacks" somewhere in the
> systems description.
>
>
> Alex
> --
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX,
> RESTafarian, Topic Maps
> ------------------------------------------
> http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-24 19:45:41 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 21:33, B.G. Sloan <***@yahoo.com> wrote:
> I'm not sure I understand the point of using silly examples. Doesn't
> it sort of weaken the argument?

No, just because they seem like silly examples, I've experienced them
first-hand. They *are* in fact silly! But they happen.

> For example, many people would dismiss the
> shelf/stack argument out of hand. Most librarians I know
> have the word "shelf" in their vocabulary, and many
> use "shelves" more than they do "stacks". To argue
> that "librarians miss out on perfectly good systems
> because they were looking for the word 'stacks'
> somewhere in the systems description" maybe shows
> a misunderstanding of librarians?

I hear you, but rest assured that an otherwise fine outside system was
rejected because it didn't have a call-slip module. Found out later
they called it "orders" and was open-source. Instead they got
"call-slips" and more vendor love-in. These stupid things happen.

And I'm not saying this to make anyone feel uneasy about this. But the
vocabulary and a certain kind of thinking gets in the way of progress
sometimes. And no, I'm not saying it happens all the time, but just
enough (and with enough consequences) to make me think you're all a
little bit crazy sometimes. :)

> I know it was intended to be a silly example, but it's sort of telling in a way.

Telling in the way that these things are so silly they really
shouldn't happen, I assume? :)


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Tim Spalding
2008-09-24 20:07:57 UTC
Permalink
Rather than argue over who has "real world" experience, let's look at
simple metrics of how library standards are faring outside of
library-land. With apologies to the Atlantic Magazine:

Web sites currently using Amazon bibliographic data: 100,000+?
Web sites currently using MARC bibliography data: 3

Books currently in print about programming with Amazon Web Services: 5
Books currently in print about programming with MARC: 0

Google pages about using Ruby with Amazon*: 9,400
Google paes about using Ruby with MARC21 or MARXML: 507

Date when Z39.50 support was removed from the standard PHP
installation: July 13, 2004

Total messages on the SRU/SRW ListServ in August: 12
Number of messages posted by a single Amazon AAWS forum member; 1,820

"Cool" SRU/SRW implementations cited on the SRU website: 1
Number that are actually cool: 0

Libraries should be at the heart of book data, wherever it shows up.
Twenty years ago they were. Now, they're not even at the table.
Antiquated, over-engineered standards and closed data have
marginalized them.

Tim

*ECS, now renamed Amazon Associates Webservices and often just called
"Amazon Web Services" until other services were added.
Sebastian Hammer
2008-09-24 20:41:20 UTC
Permalink
Tim Spalding wrote:
> Rather than argue over who has "real world" experience, let's look at
> simple metrics of how library standards are faring outside of
> library-land. With apologies to the Atlantic Magazine:
>
> Web sites currently using Amazon bibliographic data: 100,000+?
> Web sites currently using MARC bibliography data: 3
>
> Books currently in print about programming with Amazon Web Services: 5
> Books currently in print about programming with MARC: 0
>
> Google pages about using Ruby with Amazon*: 9,400
> Google paes about using Ruby with MARC21 or MARXML: 507
>
> Date when Z39.50 support was removed from the standard PHP
> installation: July 13, 2004
>
And a good thing it was, too; the days when every single module had to
be hardlinked into PHP are long gone, but Z39.50-support in PHP is alive
and well. See http://www.php.net/manual/en/intro.yaz.php . In fact, it
has flourished since then. For Z39.50 (and often SRU/W) support in other
languages, see http://zoom.z3950.org/bind/index.html . It's never been
easier or more fun to build cool Z39.50/SRU applications. Do I mean to
undermine your point? Surely not, but bashing the standards, I think, is
an exercise in cooler-than-thou geekery that misses the point.
> Total messages on the SRU/SRW ListServ in August: 12
> Number of messages posted by a single Amazon AAWS forum member; 1,820
>
> "Cool" SRU/SRW implementations cited on the SRU website: 1
> Number that are actually cool: 0
>
> Libraries should be at the heart of book data, wherever it shows up.
> Twenty years ago they were. Now, they're not even at the table.
> Antiquated, over-engineered standards and closed data have
> marginalized them.
>
My vote would go to a lack of collaboration and sharing in our community
as the main culprit rather than the nature of the standards. Too many
libraries and consortia are afraid of sharing... OCLC always gets the
rap for this, but I've seen it all over the place in the tiniest
consortia and single libraries -- and in OSS projects. I'd like to see
much more sharing of code, interfaces, and data -- a more lively
'marketplace' of ideas, thoughts, technology, and even services.
Without it, this whole edifice surely will become irrelevant.

--Sebastian
> Tim
>
> *ECS, now renamed Amazon Associates Webservices and often just called
> "Amazon Web Services" until other services were added.
>
>

--
Sebastian Hammer, Index Data
***@indexdata.com
www.indexdata.com
Tim Spalding
2008-09-24 20:52:41 UTC
Permalink
I know IndexData has done good work. I use your stuff.

When it comes to sharing, however, it's not just about libraries. You
want everyone involved. Libraries are only part of the book world, and
they are a tiny part of the IT world.

Tim
Dobbs, Aaron
2008-09-24 18:57:01 UTC
Permalink
Perhaps an example will illuminate the discussion?

A couple years ago a library bought a vendor's "off the shelf" data-mining software and wowed the library world with a new resource discovery tool. (Endeca & NCSU Libraries)

How much library-coding (as in software programming) was involved?
How much library-coding (as in cataloging and technical services) was involved?
How much of each of these was (or could have been) done by a librarian-coder?

Libraries need people who understand:
1. what it takes to *adequately* discover a unit of information
2. what it takes to supply said unit of information
3. what the marketplace has to offer by way of inventory & discovery systems
(the marketplace could be open or closed source / homegrown or commercial)

The people who understand these need not be librarians or coders, though it would help if there were access to librarians and coders to better focus the process of acquiring, providing discovery tools, and providing or circulating the units of information.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? :)

-Aaron
:-)'

--
What is the "library business model"?
1. Define what people want/desire/need
2. Acquire (or license) some (likely inadequate) subset of 1.
3. ...
4. Non-profit

--
scimus quae legis et non dicimus
"We know what you read, and we're not saying."

-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Alexander Johannesen
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 2:27 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)

On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 20:05, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
> I'm not sure what exactly this means - it's a distinction
> without a difference. Why wouldn't a librarian who does
> IT work understand that he is doing IT work?

Since this really cuts to the core of the problem, let's get it out in the open;

Libraries have been special for far too long, and that is why we're
now having this conversation and why the library world is in trouble.
An IT guy in a library is being told that he needs to make systems
that are special for the library, and every other librarian also
thinks the library is such a special place that software must be
custom made, that there are no alternatives.

But there are always alternatives, both on how you approach the
problem, and also on how you deal with your own specialness.

Libraries are probably best to change and compromise a little. Just
because you like to think in terms of stacks doesn't mean you must
have software that are written for stacks; shelves will probably do.
Just because you call your main users patrons doesn't mean that a
customer wouldn't do. And so on. For every problem in the ILS you will
find an outside alternative. This is a problem of not wanting to
change more than actually solving the problem.


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Jonathan Rochkind
2008-09-24 20:16:07 UTC
Permalink
Dobbs, Aaron wrote:
> Perhaps an example will illuminate the discussion?
>
> A couple years ago a library bought a vendor's "off the shelf" data-mining software and wowed the library world with a new resource discovery tool. (Endeca & NCSU Libraries)
>
> How much library-coding (as in software programming) was involved?
>

A lot, actually. NCSU did extensive development and customization.
Endeca as a product doesn't actually come with a user interface at all,
NCSU has to develop that.

> How much library-coding (as in cataloging and technical services) was involved?
>
I believe a lot, actually. I think there was extensive cataloging
participation in determining how to do the mappings.


> How much of each of these was (or could have been) done by a librarian-coder?
>

A lot of it was. NCSU, compared to most libraries, is actually unusually
well supplied with librarian (whether degreed or not, people with a
special understanding of and and commitment to libraries) coders. NCSU
hires as if they understand they need people with both library and
technological expertise. I think it is not coincidental that NCSU hires
this way, and that it was NCSU that was able to "wow" the library world
with a new step in discovery tools.

So I'm actually not sure which thesis your anecdote is evidence for
here, heh.

Jonathan


> Libraries need people who understand:
> 1. what it takes to *adequately* discover a unit of information
> 2. what it takes to supply said unit of information
> 3. what the marketplace has to offer by way of inventory & discovery systems
> (the marketplace could be open or closed source / homegrown or commercial)
>
> The people who understand these need not be librarians or coders, though it would help if there were access to librarians and coders to better focus the process of acquiring, providing discovery tools, and providing or circulating the units of information.
>
> Sounds easy, doesn't it? :)
>
> -Aaron
> :-)'
>
> --
> What is the "library business model"?
> 1. Define what people want/desire/need
> 2. Acquire (or license) some (likely inadequate) subset of 1.
> 3. ...
> 4. Non-profit
>
> --
> scimus quae legis et non dicimus
> "We know what you read, and we're not saying."
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Alexander Johannesen
> Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 2:27 PM
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)
>
> On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 20:05, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
>
>> I'm not sure what exactly this means - it's a distinction
>> without a difference. Why wouldn't a librarian who does
>> IT work understand that he is doing IT work?
>>
>
> Since this really cuts to the core of the problem, let's get it out in the open;
>
> Libraries have been special for far too long, and that is why we're
> now having this conversation and why the library world is in trouble.
> An IT guy in a library is being told that he needs to make systems
> that are special for the library, and every other librarian also
> thinks the library is such a special place that software must be
> custom made, that there are no alternatives.
>
> But there are always alternatives, both on how you approach the
> problem, and also on how you deal with your own specialness.
>
> Libraries are probably best to change and compromise a little. Just
> because you like to think in terms of stacks doesn't mean you must
> have software that are written for stacks; shelves will probably do.
> Just because you call your main users patrons doesn't mean that a
> customer wouldn't do. And so on. For every problem in the ILS you will
> find an outside alternative. This is a problem of not wanting to
> change more than actually solving the problem.
>
>
> Alex
> --
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
> ------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
>
>

--
Jonathan Rochkind
Digital Services Software Engineer
The Sheridan Libraries
Johns Hopkins University
410.516.8886
rochkind (at) jhu.edu
Dobbs, Aaron
2008-09-24 20:42:40 UTC
Permalink
Exactly, Jonathan.

I was neither supporting nor denigrating either "side." I was providing a real-life example of libraries and coding to better frame what it is we're talking about.

NCSU Libraries are an obvious example to hold up as a discussion point, precisely due to the reason you list: "NCSU hires as if they understand they need people with both library and technological expertise."

I would love more details about the behind the scenes activities leading up to the Endeca-based and discovery layer. I'd also love more process documentation and discussion of considerations for when a library or a group of libraries decides to do something similar. There's been a bit written up, but I haven't really found and process documentation type stuff.

Back to the discussion, I think Alexander's points about bad or poorly implemented data/metadata in MARC was highlighted in NCSU's experience and they instituted some process to fix the bad data. Which leads us back to (I've forgotten who's) idea of aggregating distributed data and not having a thousand points of (the same) data for the same item in different locations from a long-time-previous discussion.

-Aaron
:-)'

--
scimus quae legis et non dicimus
"We know what you read, and we're not saying."

-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Jonathan Rochkind
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 4:16 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)

Dobbs, Aaron wrote:
> Perhaps an example will illuminate the discussion?
>
> A couple years ago a library bought a vendor's "off the shelf" data-mining software and wowed the library world with a new resource discovery tool. (Endeca & NCSU Libraries)
>
> How much library-coding (as in software programming) was involved?
>

A lot, actually. NCSU did extensive development and customization.
Endeca as a product doesn't actually come with a user interface at all,
NCSU has to develop that.

> How much library-coding (as in cataloging and technical services) was involved?
>
I believe a lot, actually. I think there was extensive cataloging
participation in determining how to do the mappings.


> How much of each of these was (or could have been) done by a librarian-coder?
>

A lot of it was. NCSU, compared to most libraries, is actually unusually
well supplied with librarian (whether degreed or not, people with a
special understanding of and and commitment to libraries) coders. NCSU
hires as if they understand they need people with both library and
technological expertise. I think it is not coincidental that NCSU hires
this way, and that it was NCSU that was able to "wow" the library world
with a new step in discovery tools.

So I'm actually not sure which thesis your anecdote is evidence for
here, heh.

Jonathan


> Libraries need people who understand:
> 1. what it takes to *adequately* discover a unit of information
> 2. what it takes to supply said unit of information
> 3. what the marketplace has to offer by way of inventory & discovery systems
> (the marketplace could be open or closed source / homegrown or commercial)
>
> The people who understand these need not be librarians or coders, though it would help if there were access to librarians and coders to better focus the process of acquiring, providing discovery tools, and providing or circulating the units of information.
>
> Sounds easy, doesn't it? :)
>
> -Aaron
> :-)'
>
> --
> What is the "library business model"?
> 1. Define what people want/desire/need
> 2. Acquire (or license) some (likely inadequate) subset of 1.
> 3. ...
> 4. Non-profit
>
> --
> scimus quae legis et non dicimus
> "We know what you read, and we're not saying."
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Alexander Johannesen
> Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 2:27 PM
> To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
> Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)
>
> On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 20:05, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
>
>> I'm not sure what exactly this means - it's a distinction
>> without a difference. Why wouldn't a librarian who does
>> IT work understand that he is doing IT work?
>>
>
> Since this really cuts to the core of the problem, let's get it out in the open;
>
> Libraries have been special for far too long, and that is why we're
> now having this conversation and why the library world is in trouble.
> An IT guy in a library is being told that he needs to make systems
> that are special for the library, and every other librarian also
> thinks the library is such a special place that software must be
> custom made, that there are no alternatives.
>
> But there are always alternatives, both on how you approach the
> problem, and also on how you deal with your own specialness.
>
> Libraries are probably best to change and compromise a little. Just
> because you like to think in terms of stacks doesn't mean you must
> have software that are written for stacks; shelves will probably do.
> Just because you call your main users patrons doesn't mean that a
> customer wouldn't do. And so on. For every problem in the ILS you will
> find an outside alternative. This is a problem of not wanting to
> change more than actually solving the problem.
>
>
> Alex
> --
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
> ------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
>
>

--
Jonathan Rochkind
Digital Services Software Engineer
The Sheridan Libraries
Johns Hopkins University
410.516.8886
rochkind (at) jhu.edu
Jim Weinheimer
2008-09-25 10:45:37 UTC
Permalink
I have been involved in a few different discussions right now on different
lists and they are all interrelated, so I am getting confused as to what I
have written and read on each list. But perhaps I can sum up what I perceive
to be some basic issues between two major camps:

One camp believes that anything that comes from a non-librarian community
cannot be utilized by the library community without massive reworking.
Therefore, we can't take any metadata records or any non-library specific
software, at least not without massive reworking of it. In fact, this mostly
involves so much reworking that it is not worthwhile to take any of it in
the first place.

The other camp believes that we can take non-library metadata records and
non-library software and be able to give them a few little tweaks so that
they will work well enough for libraries.

My own opinion truly is split between the two: down deep, I agree with the
first camp, because I believe that libraries need tools that will do the
unique work that libraries need. Other institutions do not have the same
needs as libraries do, even huge corporate document repositories do not have
the need for, or the basic understanding of, e.g. textual variants (or a
multitude of other types of variants). Other institutions do not work with
the tremendous varieties of materials that are found in libraries (which
literally cover the entire gamut of human culture, in all languages and all
time periods). Although Microsoft or the United Nations or the British
Government have tremendous needs for information management, it still pales
in comparison with the almost unimaginable depth of a library collection as
exists, for example, at Princeton University, which has materials ranging
from the newest printed books, to early prints and drawings, early photos,
busts, manuscripts and palimpsests of the greatest antiquity, written in all
languages and on all sorts of surfaces from rock to parchment, old
recordings, maps and atlases, and on and on. I, and others who know more
than I do, could go on for hours just enumerating the different materials.
It is both a wonder and a true joy to behold. In the library projects I have
been involved in, the disasters often stem from an underestimation of the
complexity of the library and its holdings. This complexity does not exist
merely because librarians are stubborn--the complexity exists because the
materials and processes themselves are complex. Some IT people I have met do
not fully understand this.

But on the other hand, I have some knowledge of the new systems, and I know
they are so much more powerful, and imminently customizable, today than they
were 20 years ago, that well, maybe.... At least, it's worth a really,
serious try. I realize that the new tools are certainly far more powerful
than our traditional library-specific tools. We all know that our present
systems do not work very well at all. The card catalog was almost
perpetually broken at the end.

For me, the overarching point is that there is a massive amount of work
waiting out there: many catalogers desperately want to focus only on the
materials located within the physical confines of their own local libraries
(which is the way it has always been), while their users are focusing on the
immense number of internet resources. As a result, there are more materials
available now than there has ever been before--primarily through the
internet--and few libraries are even touching these types of materials,
aside from making a few links on separate webpages. So, our users are left
confused because they hear in the information literacy workshops conducted
by our reference librarians that they need to use the library catalog and
not trust Google and Yahoo, but then they discover that the only way of
finding these good materials on the web is to use Google and Yahoo because
there are no records for these things in the library catalog. No wonder our
users are confused. I believe that worthwhile web resources must go into the
library catalog, but there are just too many of them for us (Google Books
and the Internet Archive just scratch the surface of what is waiting!), and
consequently, all of these new web materials are going into a super-gigantic
backlog of almost unimaginable proportions. And our users genuinely want the
materials in this backlog. It's very understandable that no cataloger wants
to look into that backlog very closely because it's the biggest backlog
anybody has ever seen before. It's too disheartening and it's easier to
pretend it's not there. And this while our users turn to Google and Yahoo,
sneering at our catalogs.

I also know without a doubt that, barring any miracles, libraries will
definitely not be hiring tremendous numbers of new catalogers to get control
of these materials, and most probably there will be less help, especially
with the coming economic downturn that I am sure everyone is watching with
the same interest as I am. To sum up, we are in a serious dilemma and
absolutely need new ideas. Many may be looking forward to retirement so that
later generations can sort it out, but others want to do something.

Sadly, I see no really new ideas coming from the traditional library
community--at least nothing that can deal with the immensity of the tasks we
are facing. The talk is of RDA and while I respect and appreciate the great
effort that has gone into it, I honestly cannot see a single thing in it
that even suggests how RDA can aid in any of the challenges facing us. To me
(unfortunately) RDA is a total non-sequitur. It will just be something else
we will have to learn but it will achieve absolutely nothing. How in the
world is it going to help us deal with the rising tide of materials? By not
adding the place a publication?! Come on!

So, this is the situation as it stands now as I see it. If there is no
accommodation between these camps, what are we to do? One side says that we
must keep high standards; the other says we have to drop standards to stay
in the game.

When something like this has happened in more life-threatening areas such as
food, medicine, and water, and nobody could reach agreements on standards,
it was the government that forced people to cooperate: they essentially
decreed that everybody *will* conform to minimal standards, and
transgressors will be fined, maybe jailed, and nobody will be able to buy
any products you make. That's why there is no chalk in our bread anymore.

There are lots of people making metadata out there. There are lots of people
making various types of databases, or at least computer applications of
relevance to libraries. Are we in the same situation as those who refused to
agree to standards in the case of food and water? I don't think the
government will force us to change, and if we cannot find it within
ourselves to change for the betterment of all, does that mean we will
forever be stuck on the merry-go-round of mutual recriminations with no one
willing to change?

Perhaps so, but I hope that we can find it within ourselves to compromise
for the ultimate good of all. Libraries do not have the resources to be
major players today and are not in charge of these decisions. I don't know
if they ever were genuinely major players, but they certainly are not today.
To get the cooperation of these other players, we must think in terms of
minimal-level quality, and above all: what will help our users. It's
unfortunate that there is not a one-to-one correspondence among different
metadata repositories, but I have to ask: how does it help our users when we
simply ignore other repositories and web materials they need, and leave our
users to sink or swim for themselves? We need to build tools to help our
users search and use these other resources in the best ways possible, even
though we may not agree with other metadata standards or the final product
is not as good as we would like. While many institutional repositories think
only in terms of their own institutions, I believe it is incumbent upon
librarians to go beyond that today, to create something that at least
attempts to bring everything of value together. Maybe it won't be perfect;
maybe it won't be 100% consistent, but none of our tools are perfect or 100%
consistent today. Still, we can make tools that offer substantial help to
our users instead of leaving them with nothing except "Here are our
materials, and good luck on finding and using other resources!"

I hope that the metadata community can cooperate. Many say that I am an
idealist, and they are probably right. I guess that I am just too frightened
by the alternative that if library catalogers do not change, then we can be
discarded along with our catalogs, and I can't imagine how any library could
function without a reliable catalog. The future would not be very promising
for our profession.

James Weinheimer ***@aur.edu
Director of Library and Information Services
The American University of Rome
via Pietro Roselli, 4
00153 Rome, Italy
voice- 011 39 06 58330919 ext. 258
fax-011 39 06 58330992
Jacobs, Jane W
2008-09-24 19:09:11 UTC
Permalink
As a Cataloger who dabbles in programming I couldn't resist finally
jumping with a couple of points:

We should all know at least enough about programming/data formats to be
able to reject or, at least, question, such highly dubious logic as
anything XML-based is automatically superior to MARC. I'm not saying we
shouldn't leave MARC behind, but we leave it for something BETTER, NOT
something ELSE.

> An IT guy in a library is being told that he needs to make systems
that are special for the library, and every other librarian also thinks
the library is such a special place that software must be custom made,
that there are no alternatives.

>But there are always alternatives, both on how you approach the
problem, and also on how you deal with your own specialness.

And here we hit upon the crux of the problem not only with software vs
libraries but software vendors and other industries as well. Everything
DOESN'T "just work"! Lots departments in lots of industries get
half-baked software foisted off on them, often at high prices. Remember
"Beta" testing? These days software is so rushed to market it often
doesn't seem to get an "Alpha" test. (What was that new search engine
that was going to replace Google a couple of weeks ago?) Many workers
are stuck with workflows that accommodate software not software that
"just works". The tail often wags the dog outside libraries as well as
in.

>For every problem in the ILS you will find an outside alternative.

Usually one that consists of a square peg being determinedly hammered
into a round hole!

As with MARC, I'm not saying that we don't need to change. I,
personally, am lucky enough to work with GOOD IT people, but they still
need librarians with enough knowledge to be able to articulate what they
need and to be able to examine, critically what we need vs. what we've
always done. Imagination is good but it has to be tempered with
real-world experience.

JJ

**Views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent those of
the Queens Library.**

Jane Jacobs
Asst. Coord., Catalog Division
Queens Borough Public Library
89-11 Merrick Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11432
tel.: (718) 990-0804
e-mail: ***@queenslibrary.org
FAX. (718) 990-8566




The information contained in this message may be privileged and confidential and protected from disclosure. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, or an employee or agent responsible for delivering this message to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by replying to the message and deleting it from your computer.
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-24 19:33:40 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 21:09, Jacobs, Jane W
<***@queenslibrary.org> wrote:
> As a Cataloger who dabbles in programming I couldn't resist finally
> jumping with a couple of points:

Wohoo! I love catalogers!

> We should all know at least enough about programming/data formats to be
> able to reject or, at least, question, such highly dubious logic as
> anything XML-based is automatically superior to MARC. I'm not saying we
> shouldn't leave MARC behind, but we leave it for something BETTER, NOT
> something ELSE.

I think you're missing something vitally important here; the *rest* of
the world eats XML for breakfast, it's what gets them up in the
morning, and enables them to pull through. It's not about the
greatness of XML itself (which I also can write a book or two about
its virtues over *any* binary format; you just dare me!), but about
what tools are available to deal with it.

If our data was already in the realm of XML (as in real XML, not the
faux MARCXML nonsense) there is ripe opportunity everywhere to try out
our data. Chuck it in a native XML DB, for example, which I did with
eXist and was fantastic (but of course the project failed the litmus
test of having bad meta data that came out of MARC systems). I don't
know how many tools out there support some kind of XML import or
indexing, but suffice to say it outnumber the tools who can read MARC
by the thousands. And I don't think I need to prove this, right? :)

>>But there are always alternatives, both on how you approach the
> problem, and also on how you deal with your own specialness.
>
> And here we hit upon the crux of the problem not only with software vs
> libraries but software vendors and other industries as well. Everything
> DOESN'T "just work"!

Everything? Surely you jest. I deal with systems on a daily basis
which "just works." Oh, you mean it doesn't "just work" because I need
to replace all the "shelf" words with "stacks", or something more
complex like "the indexer must know MARC, and create relevance ranking
based on the order of the various title fields, with 245 taking
presedence, unless it's a children story" or somesuch?

If your data was in XML instead of MARC, and if the culture of MARC
hadn't botched the meta data within over time, then these tweaks would
be hours of work as opposed to months of work to get tweaked. Do you
know how many different XML indexers there are out there, vendors who
make a living in trying to be as flexible and fast as possible? Quite
a few. How many indexers do the same over MARC? Not so many, mostly
the usual suspects of ILS vendors.

> Lots departments in lots of industries get
> half-baked software foisted off on them, often at high prices. Remember
> "Beta" testing? These days software is so rushed to market it often
> doesn't seem to get an "Alpha" test. (What was that new search engine
> that was going to replace Google a couple of weeks ago?)

I'm sure we can point to stuff we read in the main press about botched
systems. In fact, there was a major incident here in Norway today
about the health authorities lost a full days worth of data.

But the systems we have delivered elsewhere to very happy large
customers you will never hear about, because, frankly, systems that
"just work" ain't covered much in the press.

> Many workers
> are stuck with workflows that accommodate software not software that
> "just works". The tail often wags the dog outside libraries as well as
> in.

I'm tempted to ask how much outside experience you have, and not in a
snarky evil way, but because I genuinely don't recognize what you say.
I too read the newspapers and the wire and laugh at the crazy
over-priced bad projects you sometimes read about, but I'm an insider
seeing a lot of good work as well. In fact, I'm one of those "evil"
consultants that you pay lots for, so I'm going to share a secret with
you all; we're priced this way because we find, tweak and implement
software that "just works" for our clients, saving the client lots of
money and frustration. Sure there's bad eggs, but they quickly
disappear from the industry. Where do they go? One can only speculate.

>>For every problem in the ILS you will find an outside alternative.
>
> Usually one that consists of a square peg being determinedly hammered
> into a round hole!

Any basis for that, or just opinion?

> As with MARC, I'm not saying that we don't need to change. I,
> personally, am lucky enough to work with GOOD IT people, but they still
> need librarians with enough knowledge to be able to articulate what they
> need and to be able to examine, critically what we need vs. what we've
> always done. Imagination is good but it has to be tempered with
> real-world experience.

No one says we don't need librarians, and I'm one of the first to hail
librarians (and especially catalogers) for their thinking and culture.
But when it comes down to IT, they really should recognize good advice
when it's given to them, and stop shunning it just because the advice
may go against the business plan of the library. Didn't anyone tell
you that the library business model is failing? Again, probably
because the library is such a special place, and we outside it "just
don't get it". Although I doubt it.


Kind regards,

Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Janet Hill
2008-09-24 19:51:22 UTC
Permalink
-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries
[mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Alexander Johannesen

> And here we hit upon the crux of the problem not only with software vs
> libraries but software vendors and other industries as well. Everything
> DOESN'T "just work"!

Everything? Surely you jest. I deal with systems on a daily basis
which "just works." Oh, you mean it doesn't "just work" because I need
to replace all the "shelf" words with "stacks", or something more
complex like "the indexer must know MARC, and create relevance ranking
based on the order of the various title fields, with 245 taking
presedence, unless it's a children story" or somesuch?

---
Actually, I think that she was just saying that "not everything "just
works"" (at least that's what the sentence structure makes it mean), while
you appear to have read it as "nothing just works."

Ahhhh .... when did we give up diagramming sentences?



Janet Swan Hill, Professor
Associate Director for Technical Services
University of Colorado Libraries, CB184
Boulder, CO 80309
***@colorado.edu
*****
Tradition is the handing-on of Fire, and not the worship of Ashes.
- Gustav Mahler
Jacobs, Jane W
2008-09-24 19:55:18 UTC
Permalink
Glad you love catalogers! So I'll take on a couple of your points and
questions:

>If our data was already in the realm of XML (as in real XML, not the
faux MARCXML nonsense) there is ripe opportunity everywhere to try out
our data.

One of the things I like about XML is that it's pretty easy to diddle it
into something slightly different if that's what you need. So what's
wrong with MARC to faux MARCXML to Cool XML that can do all these neat
things? What's stopping us?

> I'm tempted to ask how much outside experience you have, and not in a
snarky evil way, but because I genuinely don't recognize what you say.

A fair question which I won't take the wrong way. Not much, in the
work/business sense. Here's a for instance that I bet lots of people
recognize: I have a new Flash Drive sitting on my desk, mine
personally, not my employer's. I inherited it from a family member who
bought it to use with a PC using Windows Vista. It's supposed to be
compatible with the usual Windows ... and higher. Works fine with XP
and even Windows ME, so it's not a case of not knowing how to use it!
Windows Vista just won't recognize it. E-mails back and forth to the
manufacturer produced useless busy work, not a driver that would run it
.. Hardly an isolated example. How many little things like that have
we bought over the years that, well sorta work, somewhere?

JJ

**Views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent those of
the Queens Library.**

Jane Jacobs
Asst. Coord., Catalog Division
Queens Borough Public Library
89-11 Merrick Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11432
tel.: (718) 990-0804
e-mail: ***@queenslibrary.org
FAX. (718) 990-8566




The information contained in this message may be privileged and confidential and protected from disclosure. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, or an employee or agent responsible for delivering this message to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by replying to the message and deleting it from your computer.-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries
[mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Alexander Johannesen
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 3:34 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial
Vendors and Open Source Software)

On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 21:09, Jacobs, Jane W
<***@queenslibrary.org> wrote:
> As a Cataloger who dabbles in programming I couldn't resist finally
> jumping with a couple of points:

Wohoo! I love catalogers!

> We should all know at least enough about programming/data formats to
be
> able to reject or, at least, question, such highly dubious logic as
> anything XML-based is automatically superior to MARC. I'm not saying
we
> shouldn't leave MARC behind, but we leave it for something BETTER, NOT
> something ELSE.

I think you're missing something vitally important here; the *rest* of
the world eats XML for breakfast, it's what gets them up in the
morning, and enables them to pull through. It's not about the
greatness of XML itself (which I also can write a book or two about
its virtues over *any* binary format; you just dare me!), but about
what tools are available to deal with it.

If our data was already in the realm of XML (as in real XML, not the
faux MARCXML nonsense) there is ripe opportunity everywhere to try out
our data. Chuck it in a native XML DB, for example, which I did with
eXist and was fantastic (but of course the project failed the litmus
test of having bad meta data that came out of MARC systems). I don't
know how many tools out there support some kind of XML import or
indexing, but suffice to say it outnumber the tools who can read MARC
by the thousands. And I don't think I need to prove this, right? :)

>>But there are always alternatives, both on how you approach the
> problem, and also on how you deal with your own specialness.
>
> And here we hit upon the crux of the problem not only with software vs
> libraries but software vendors and other industries as well.
Everything
> DOESN'T "just work"!

Everything? Surely you jest. I deal with systems on a daily basis
which "just works." Oh, you mean it doesn't "just work" because I need
to replace all the "shelf" words with "stacks", or something more
complex like "the indexer must know MARC, and create relevance ranking
based on the order of the various title fields, with 245 taking
presedence, unless it's a children story" or somesuch?

If your data was in XML instead of MARC, and if the culture of MARC
hadn't botched the meta data within over time, then these tweaks would
be hours of work as opposed to months of work to get tweaked. Do you
know how many different XML indexers there are out there, vendors who
make a living in trying to be as flexible and fast as possible? Quite
a few. How many indexers do the same over MARC? Not so many, mostly
the usual suspects of ILS vendors.

> Lots departments in lots of industries get
> half-baked software foisted off on them, often at high prices.
Remember
> "Beta" testing? These days software is so rushed to market it often
> doesn't seem to get an "Alpha" test. (What was that new search engine
> that was going to replace Google a couple of weeks ago?)

I'm sure we can point to stuff we read in the main press about botched
systems. In fact, there was a major incident here in Norway today
about the health authorities lost a full days worth of data.

But the systems we have delivered elsewhere to very happy large
customers you will never hear about, because, frankly, systems that
"just work" ain't covered much in the press.

> Many workers
> are stuck with workflows that accommodate software not software that
> "just works". The tail often wags the dog outside libraries as well
as
> in.

I'm tempted to ask how much outside experience you have, and not in a
snarky evil way, but because I genuinely don't recognize what you say.
I too read the newspapers and the wire and laugh at the crazy
over-priced bad projects you sometimes read about, but I'm an insider
seeing a lot of good work as well. In fact, I'm one of those "evil"
consultants that you pay lots for, so I'm going to share a secret with
you all; we're priced this way because we find, tweak and implement
software that "just works" for our clients, saving the client lots of
money and frustration. Sure there's bad eggs, but they quickly
disappear from the industry. Where do they go? One can only speculate.

>>For every problem in the ILS you will find an outside alternative.
>
> Usually one that consists of a square peg being determinedly hammered
> into a round hole!

Any basis for that, or just opinion?

> As with MARC, I'm not saying that we don't need to change. I,
> personally, am lucky enough to work with GOOD IT people, but they
still
> need librarians with enough knowledge to be able to articulate what
they
> need and to be able to examine, critically what we need vs. what we've
> always done. Imagination is good but it has to be tempered with
> real-world experience.

No one says we don't need librarians, and I'm one of the first to hail
librarians (and especially catalogers) for their thinking and culture.
But when it comes down to IT, they really should recognize good advice
when it's given to them, and stop shunning it just because the advice
may go against the business plan of the library. Didn't anyone tell
you that the library business model is failing? Again, probably
because the library is such a special place, and we outside it "just
don't get it". Although I doubt it.


Kind regards,

Alex
--
------------------------------------------------------------------------
---
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic
Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/
--------
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-24 20:21:06 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 21:55, Jacobs, Jane W
<***@queenslibrary.org> wrote:
> One of the things I like about XML is that it's pretty easy to diddle it
> into something slightly different if that's what you need. So what's
> wrong with MARC to faux MARCXML to Cool XML that can do all these neat
> things? What's stopping us?

Poor meta data quality. I know of so many projects (and even more
smaller attempts) at converting and normalizing MARC data so it can be
reused. It's a pain to do, and it hasn't been solved.

Here's an example off the top of my head; using xml:id and xml:idrefs,
the simplest identity control we have, and it just doesn't exist in
MARC at all. MARC is the big sharing container we all use, and yet no
one came up with a mechanism for sharing?

> Here's a for instance that I bet lots of people
> recognize: I have a new Flash Drive sitting on my desk, [...]
> How many little things like that have
> we bought over the years that, well sorta work, somewhere?

I guess I could go into a spiel about open-source and open standards
right about now, but I'm not sure your example is a good one for large
software systems, unless your argument is "if they can't even do it
for small things like this, what hope have we got for big things?"

Anyway, your problem here lies with drivers and OSes, not with the
specification itself, unless this Flash-drive was designed especially
for librarians and can auto-index MARC records? :)


Regards,

Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-24 19:59:45 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 21:51, Janet Hill <***@colorado.edu> wrote:
> Actually, I think that she was just saying that "not everything "just
> works"" (at least that's what the sentence structure makes it mean), while
> you appear to have read it as "nothing just works."

Ok, but that still doesn't take away that I see more systems that
"just work" than those who don't, which I still think her argument
was. I'm balancing on the positive side of this see-saw.

Anyways, any mistake I make - interpretive or otherwise - I'll gladly
apologize for in the light of clever counter arguments concealed as me
being right. :)


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Kevin M Kidd
2008-09-24 20:32:45 UTC
Permalink
>I think you're missing something vitally important here; the *rest* of
>the world eats XML for breakfast, it's what gets them up in the
>morning, and enables them to pull through. It's not about the
>greatness of XML itself (which I also can write a book or two about
>its virtues over *any* binary format; you just dare me!), but about
>what tools are available to deal with it.

>If our data was already in the realm of XML (as in real XML, not the
>faux MARCXML nonsense) there is ripe opportunity everywhere to try out
>our data. Chuck it in a native XML DB, for example, which I did with
>eXist and was fantastic (but of course the project failed the litmus
>test of having bad meta data that came out of MARC systems). I don't
>know how many tools out there support some kind of XML import or
>indexing, but suffice to say it outnumber the tools who can read MARC
>by the thousands. And I don't think I need to prove this, right? :)

And now, Alex, I must ask you how much experience you have (and not in a snarky, or evil way ;-)

The fact that data is in a valid XML format in no way guarantees its usefulness.

The problems of technology in libraries have almost nothing to do MARC as a format in and of itself. Bad metadata can and does come out of any system where bad data is entered.

And, by the way, MARC XML is just as useful as any XML schema you can dream up to contain bib information.

MARC has been around since the 1960's. XML since the 1990's. For all practical purposes, libraries around the country had the great bulk of their collections cataloged as MARC *before* XML became a viable alternative.

The problem with simply converting from MARC to some as-yet-undetermined XML Schema is the need to create a real, agreed-upon standard.

So, should all libraries simply convert to the Amazon standard? Perhaps, but, then the standard would have to be extended to contain all of the possible information that you can store in a MARC record - so, perhaps it's not that easy after all. Don't extend the Amazon format and discard the detailed information that MARC can contain? Why would we want to do that?

In any case, Amazon is not more popular than library catalogs because it uses some format other than MARC. It is clear that the problem for libraries lies in the fact that they share no openly accessible central database of bib records, a la Amazon. OCLC ain't giving away its records, as we all know...

--------------------------------------
Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
Library Applications & Systems Manager
Boston College Libraries
Phone: 617-552-1359
Fax: 617-552-1089
e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-24 20:51:31 UTC
Permalink
> And now, Alex, I must ask you how much
> experience you have (and not in a snarky, or evil way ;-)

Ahah, you're on to me! :) Do you mean in or outside the library? I've
got over 20 years experience, and I've done 4 years on the inside.

> The fact that data is in a valid XML format in no way guarantees its usefulness.

That it is not in a valid XML format, however, is a guarantee that it
isn't useful to most people and most tools.

> The problems of technology in libraries have almost nothing to do MARC as a format in and of itself. Bad metadata can and does come out of any system where bad data is entered.

Sure, but wouldn't it be great that when you design your big exchange
meta data format that you think about mechanisms for, eh, exchange?

> And, by the way, MARC XML is just as useful as any XML schema you can dream up to contain bib information.

I can only assume ... uh, no, scratch that. Not sure how to respond to
this, but, um, let's just say that I dream in XML, and I can dream up
stuff that is a magnitude more useful than MARCXML. People, you need
to understand just how evil MARCXML is. Maybe I need to write
something about this.

> MARC has been around since the 1960's. XML since the 1990's. For all practical purposes, libraries around the country had the great bulk of their collections cataloged as MARC *before* XML became a viable alternative.

Cars have been around since the turn of the last century, and still
they evolved. It's this evolution (or lack thereof) which is the
problem, not the history of it.

> The problem with simply converting from MARC to some as-yet-undetermined XML Schema is the need to create a real, agreed-upon standard.

As much as I used to think that, I don't now think this is the
problem. I'd much sooner point my finger at the incredibly poor meta
data you find inside the culture of MARC (where the complete lack of
typed data is glaring at me from all corners), the focus of that meta
data (why is it that I always find very good information about the
physical size of books, but never good information about what the book
is all about?) and plans to move forward without knowing how (how do
you, for example, put FRBR in MARC in a simple sane way? I've seen at
least one proposal that cause my spline to do hiccups).

> So, should all libraries simply convert to the Amazon standard? Perhaps, but, then the standard would have to be extended to contain all of the possible information that you can store in a MARC record - so, perhaps it's not that easy after all. Don't extend the Amazon format and discard the detailed information that MARC can contain? Why would we want to do that?

Well, if you already did XML and did it good, extending the XML is a
piece of cake. Sorry to say, but there's more to XML than simple
markup.

> In any case, Amazon is not more popular than library catalogs because it uses some format other than MARC. It is clear that the problem for libraries lies in the fact that they share no openly accessible central database of bib records, a la Amazon. OCLC ain't giving away its records, as we all know...

No argument there; open library meta data to the world, NOW! Or perish.


Smiles,

Alex
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------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Tim Spalding
2008-09-24 20:45:38 UTC
Permalink
Look, I think there's a case to be made that data format doesn't
matter. I think it's very clear it does. But whatever. But...

"And, by the way, MARC XML is just as useful as any XML schema you can
dream up to contain bib information."

Amazes me. Useful for what? MARCXML is impenetrable nonsense. Unless
you use it everyday, you're going to spend days figuring out what the
heck is going on with it, which means nobody outside of the library
world will use it. And, as if to prove I'm right, nobody outside of
the library world *does*. Have you ever tried to introduce a
non-library programmer to this stuff. I have. In my experience,
reaction varies between shocked and amused.

I agree with you that openness is a big part of the problem. And I'm
not arguing libraries embrace Amazon XML. It's one example of a
general phenomenon—antiquated, overly-engineered, specific-purpose
technologies that marginalize libraries, and threaten their future.

Tim
Kevin M Kidd
2008-09-25 14:56:17 UTC
Permalink
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"Amazes me. Useful for what? MARCXML is impenetrable nonsense. Unless
you use it everyday, you're going to spend days figuring out what the
heck is going on with it, which means nobody outside of the library
world will use it. And, as if to prove I'm right, nobody outside of
the library world *does*. Have you ever tried to introduce a
non-library programmer to this stuff. I have. In my experience,
reaction varies between shocked and amused."

Look, it's not my job to defend MARC or to advocate for its continued existence in this day and age. The point is that MARC served an actual useful function. It was a self-describing, self-contained data record that was machine-readable before XML, before relational databases, etc. I agree fully that it should die now. But, whatever...

It certainly is still pretty good at encapsulating the myriad bib data that libraries need to capture on a daily basis. It may be overly complex and overkill to use MARC to catalog the latest John Grisham novel, but it can be useful when we need to capture complex information about, say, incunabula, or similar objects.

Your point about a "non-library" programmer's bemusement at MARC just proves my main point: that libraries need in-house, librarian-programmers. MARC *is* complex, but librarians *do* understand it. If we want to exchange data/services with systems like Amazon (or any other, for that matter), a librarian-programmer can easily pull data from a MARC-based catalog and write a wrapper that formats it in whatever flavor/schema of XML is hip at the moment. He/she can then create a bunch of services which do whatever needs to be done with the records.

With the technology available to us now, it's almost beside the point that libraries store data about their collections in MARC format. Tim, you are correct that MARC in and of itself may be overly-engineered, etc, but I say it is not really a hindrance to libraries exchanging/sharing or doing any other thing they please with their data. We just need the expertise and the imagination (and, yes, we do need to agree upon another format...)

--------------------------------------
Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
Library Applications & Systems Manager
Boston College Libraries
Phone: 617-552-1359
Fax: 617-552-1089
e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-25 15:42:46 UTC
Permalink
On 25/09/2008, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
> Look, it's not my job to defend MARC ...

He's talking about MARCXML, not MARC. They are two evils, but this
time we're having a go at the XML version of MARC. I wrote my
contribution just earlier today:

http://shelter.nu/blog/2008/09/marcxml-beast-of-burden.html


Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Kevin M Kidd
2008-09-25 16:13:05 UTC
Permalink
>He's talking about MARCXML, not MARC. They are two evils, but this
>time we're having a go at the XML version of MARC. I wrote my
>contribution just earlier today:
>
> http://shelter.nu/blog/2008/09/marcxml-beast-of-burden.html

Yes, I get it, MARCXML is MARC "with a bad hairdo". MARCXML is a transport to carry and preserve MARC records. It's not exactly breaking news, Alex. You are right about everything you say. MARCXML sucks mainly because MARC sucks in the context of today's technology.

Clearly you know a lot about XML, but I'm still not sure you know anything about MARC...
K

--------------------------------------
Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
Library Applications & Systems Manager
Boston College Libraries
Phone: 617-552-1359
Fax: 617-552-1089
e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/

-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries [mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Alexander Johannesen
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 11:43 AM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)

On 25/09/2008, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
> Look, it's not my job to defend MARC ...



Alex
--
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
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------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Jacobs, Jane W
2008-09-25 17:20:04 UTC
Permalink
At this point we seem to be mixing apples and oranges and tossing in
some pears!

If you stipulate that MARCXML is XML, then TECHNICALLY it's easy to
change MARC into XML, but doing so doesn't seem to achieve any great
benefits, although it will expand you data storage requirements
exponentially.

If you don't like MARCXML CONCEPTUALLY, (yeah, looks goofy even to a
cataloger) It has all the weirdnesses of MARC minus the conciseness. I
still maintain that the structure is there to change it into something
more useful, as soon as we can agree (at least on some points) as to
what that would be.

I'm not buying the argument that:

>MARCXML is impenetrable nonsense. Unless you use it everyday, you're
going to spend days figuring out what the heck is going on with it,
which means nobody outside of the library world will use it. And, as if
to prove I'm right, nobody outside of the library world *does*. Have you
ever tried to introduce a non-library programmer to this stuff. I have.
In my experience, reaction varies between shocked and amused.

If non-library programmers aren't up to spending a few days "figuring
out what the heck is going on with it" (or anything else unfamiliar)
then I can't figure why we ought to be seeking them, much less paying
them. (OK, so, as a cataloger, I eat MARC for breakfast, lunch and
dinner and sometimes raw.) I certainly wouldn't want to work with
MARCXML everyday; I just want to flip it into something better and this
doesn't alter my opinion that any of my smart programmer
friends/colleagues has enough knowledge, imagination and diligence to
come up style sheet or program that can munch all this data
satisfactorily (in batch).

And last but not least are the pears:

>Bad metadata can and does come out of any system where bad data is
entered. If the data is no good in the first place, then sharing it is
pretty much a non-issue. Although there's plenty of bad data out there,
I think that there even more good, and there's no point re-inventing the
data!

All of which leads back to the question:

What's a good XML schema into which our MARC should be flipped? What's
missing that needs to be filled in? I'm also not the appointed guardian
of MARC either, but before I sign onto something new:

SHOW ME THE SCHEMA!

JJ

**Views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent those of
the Queens Library.**

Jane Jacobs
Asst. Coord., Catalog Division
Queens Borough Public Library
89-11 Merrick Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11432
tel.: (718) 990-0804
e-mail: ***@queenslibrary.org
FAX. (718) 990-8566



The information contained in this message may be privileged and confidential and protected from disclosure. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, or an employee or agent responsible for delivering this message to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by replying to the message and deleting it from your computer.-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries
[mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Kevin M Kidd
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 12:13 PM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: Library Technologies and Library School (was Commercial
Vendors and Open Source Software)

>He's talking about MARCXML, not MARC. They are two evils, but this
>time we're having a go at the XML version of MARC. I wrote my
>contribution just earlier today:
>
> http://shelter.nu/blog/2008/09/marcxml-beast-of-burden.html

Yes, I get it, MARCXML is MARC "with a bad hairdo". MARCXML is a
transport to carry and preserve MARC records. It's not exactly breaking
news, Alex. You are right about everything you say. MARCXML sucks mainly
because MARC sucks in the context of today's technology.

Clearly you know a lot about XML, but I'm still not sure you know
anything about MARC...
K

--------------------------------------
Kevin M. Kidd, MA, MLIS
Library Applications & Systems Manager
Boston College Libraries
Phone: 617-552-1359
Fax: 617-552-1089
e-Mail: ***@bc.edu
Blog: http://datadrivenlibrary.blogspot.com/

-----Original Message-----
From: Next generation catalogs for libraries
[mailto:***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU] On Behalf Of Alexander Johannesen
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 11:43 AM
To: ***@LISTSERV.ND.EDU
Subject: Re: [NGC4LIB] Library Technologies and Library School (was
Commercial Vendors and Open Source Software)

On 25/09/2008, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
> Look, it's not my job to defend MARC ...



Alex
--
------------------------------------------------------------------------
---
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic
Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/
--------
Eric Lease Morgan
2008-09-25 17:34:34 UTC
Permalink
On Sep 25, 2008, at 1:20 PM, Jacobs, Jane W wrote:

> What's a good XML schema into which our MARC should be flipped?
> What's
> missing that needs to be filled in? I'm also not the appointed
> guardian
> of MARC either, but before I sign onto something new:
>
> SHOW ME THE SCHEMA!



Given that no metadata schema is perfect, I advocate MODS:

http://www.loc.gov/standards/mods/

But in reality, I believe the library world would benefit from the use
and exploitation of many XML schemas.

--
Eric Lease Morgan
University of Notre Dame
Charley Pennell
2008-09-25 18:47:15 UTC
Permalink
Hi Eric!

Like Jane, I am getting very tired of these constant harangues for
replacing MARC with XML, but without offering concrete suggestions on
how this might be done. First off, this library and lots of others
(including Notre Dame) *ARE* using XML schemas every day, including VRA
Core, EAD, TEI, METS, MODS, FGDC, and countless variations on DC. Many
of us expose this metadata for harvesting, at least through OAI-PMH and
the usual search engine harvests. The only place we are not using XML
schemas is in our "core" collections of "traditional" (particularly
print) library materials, yet we still expose this data to the general
public through Z39.50, and SRU/SRW, so the complaint can't be that we
don't expose our metadata. OTOH, it could be that we don't expose it in
a way that is useful to commerce. Tools like Z39.50 and SRU/SRW exist
based on the data that is available, not based on the inherent
superiority of MARC as a schema. Remember, MARC is only a communication
format, meant to convey bibliographic description between disparate
systems. There is really no reason why we couldn't use an XML schema,
one with granularity equal (or hopefully superior, especially for
technical & administrative metadata) to MARC, to move data between
systems except that parties on either end of the communication chain
(book vendors and utilities, utilities and libraries, EndNote users and
libraries, etc.) are currently set up to accept MARC. So MARC it is.

Until we unbundle the financial, inventory, circulation, and other
services from the bibliographic data in our integrated library systems,
or until ILS vendors and book suppliers see an emerging XML standard for
bibliographic data (it isn't ONIX), it is unlikely that libraries will
ever be weaned from MARC. We need general acceptance of MODS or some
other schema, for lossless transmission of our current MARC metadata as
a starter. Then we need to further isolate our bib data from our
inventory control data

. Many of us are now taking tentative steps in this direction by
separating our public metadata from our inventory functions, using
products discussed many times in this forum, like Endeca, Scriblio,
WorldCat Local, and VuCat. This increases the flexibility and
visibility of our stored data, but leads to some of the same maintenance
and data synchronization problems that we have seen with other metadata
that we have in XML silos. If the public tool is not feeding off of
live data, then what the public sees is not current data, but rather a
snapshot of an earlier version of that data. The early complaints about
our Endeca implementation largely focused on these data synchronization
issues. Bibliographic and transaction data was loaded overnight, so it
wasn't as current as it should be. We've solved some of this through 30
minute transaction updates, but also through direct Oracle queries of
live Sirsi transaction data on our full display. Unfortunately, bib
data is still only updated nightly, so changes to URLs or headings don't
show up until the next day. But this is also true of our VRA Core, EAD,
and DC metadata, which is not ported to its Luna interface in real time.

So, solve the issue of changing the mindset of libraries and vendors,
of synchronizing data between storage and delivery, and of offering
granularity at the level we need, and we're all ears. I don't think
anybody on this list is wedded to MARC or any other current technology.

Charley

Eric Lease Morgan wrote:
> On Sep 25, 2008, at 1:20 PM, Jacobs, Jane W wrote:
>
>> What's a good XML schema into which our MARC should be flipped? What's
>> missing that needs to be filled in? I'm also not the appointed guardian
>> of MARC either, but before I sign onto something new:
>>
>> SHOW ME THE SCHEMA!
>
>
>
> Given that no metadata schema is perfect, I advocate MODS:
>
> http://www.loc.gov/standards/mods/
>
> But in reality, I believe the library world would benefit from the use
> and exploitation of many XML schemas.
>

--
__________________________________ __________________________________
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
Charley Pennell mailto:***@unity.ncsu.edu
Principal Cataloger for Metadata voice: (919)515-2743
Metadata and Cataloging Department fax: (919)515-7292
NCSU Libraries, Box 7111
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7111

Adjunct Librarian, Memorial University of Newfoundland
World Wide Web: http://www.ibiblio.org/hillwilliam/chuckhome.html
__________________________________ __________________________________
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
Alexander Johannesen
2008-09-25 17:31:45 UTC
Permalink
On 25/09/2008, Kevin M Kidd <***@bc.edu> wrote:
> Yes, I get it, MARCXML is MARC "with a bad hairdo". MARCXML is a
> transport to carry and preserve MARC records. It's not exactly breaking
> news, Alex.

Hmm, no one has claimed it to be breaking news. There's a context
here, which was someone claimed that MARCXML is just as good as any
XML I can dream up. That's what's being discussed, and I think I've
clearly stated now that I don't think MARCXML is that good, or, you
know, even have the right of life it's so bad.

> Clearly you know a lot about XML, but I'm still not sure you know
> anything about MARC...

Really? That's what you get out of it? I guess working and blogging
about MARC (and especially the semantic values, the culture of MARC,
the RDA debacle, FRBR pollination / scrutinizing, etc.) hasn't been
sufficent. I feel like breaking into song now.


Regards,

Alex
--
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------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
Jesse Ephraim
2008-09-23 17:39:07 UTC
Permalink
>I don't think anyone really believes that
>librarians are going to get more help in the future,
>then based on this I can certainly understand that
>someone who has lived through these events would
>have a rather hopeless attitude.
...
>Librarians are supposed to learn these new skill sets
>and keep up with developments, while still being
>swamped with our "traditional work."

How is that different from the situation faced by any information
professional (IT, knowledge management, etc.)?

Libraries schools need to teach (and librarians need to accept) that
technical skills are required to be a librarian, and that librarians
will necessarily have to spend some of their personal time learning new
skills and concepts on an ongoing basis. I did that as a programmer for
a decade, and I was working 80+ hour weeks. I was paid a lot more, but
I was working twice the hours of a typical librarian, with mass amounts
of stress and business travel. Someone working closer to 40 hours a
week should be able to keep up with the basics of new technology, at
least.

Librarianship can not simply be about books anymore. That will continue
to be an important facet of it, but higher level information management
and a decent number of tech skills are just as important nowadays. If
libraries continue to rely on third party companies and groups to supply
all of that expertise, then they are giving up any claim to
professionalism.

Jesse Ephraim

Youth Services Librarian
Southlake Public Library
1400 Main St., Ste. 130
Southlake, TX 76092

Email: ***@ci.southlake.tx.us
Phone: (817) 748-8248
FAX: (817) 748-8250
www.southlakelibrary.org
uncommonly friendly service
Cab Vinton
2008-09-23 18:02:45 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 1:39 PM, Jesse Ephraim
<***@ci.southlake.tx.us> wrote:

> Someone working closer to 40 hours a
> week should be able to keep up with the basics of new technology, at
> least.

I see a bit of a disconnect here between this comment & the thrust of
this thread.

We're wanting radical innovations to come from library-land, but the
bar that Jesse sets is so low as to practically guarantee that this
will never happen.

I think Tim is on the right track. There's nothing wrong with
outsourcing IT expertise. I don't think there are a lot doctor-coders
or artist-coders, for example, yet there's a lot of creative work
happening with medical informatics & the intersection of the arts &
technology.

The questions are first, where do the resources come from to allow
outsourcing, and second, do we have the individuals qualified to guide
& manage that expertise so that it is directed down fruitful and
innovative paths.

Cab Vinton, Director
Sanbornton Public Library
Sanbornton, NH
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