E-periodical aggregator Zite has released a series of interesting blog posts detailing article reading by state. The lists were generated using the topics that readers in specific states are more likely to peruse than the average American. New Yorkers read more about the Yankees, Judaism, and advertising while my lovely homeland of Minnesota scored highly in Innovation, Leadership, Baseball, and Beer. The data is pretty hilarious and the blog also details Zite’s brushes with copyright law.
Project Noah (stands for networked organisms and habitats) was dreamed up by NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program to crowdsource species identification and act as a local guidebook to our plant and animal neighbors.
The site seems to have real educational potential; it works well and the user base seems devoted to documenting and identification. Users can help out on “missions” like that of the Great Pollinator Project, which aims to identify and improve the habitat of pollinators in NYC or the Mitten Crab Watch’s attempts to document the spread of this invasive species in the Hudson. It’s easy to look at local flora and fauna or go exploring for exotic species and it would be easy to incorporate this in an ecological curriculum once it’s more robustly filled with plants, bugs, fungi, and animals. Project Noah is actively seeking teachers and librarians to help them with this goal.
Booktrack, a company offering sound and music enhanced e-books, was recently covered in the NYT for nothing so much as its cool factor. Sugardaddied by Paypal’s Peter Theil and facilitated by Brooke Geahan of the delightfully ridiculous Accompanied Literary Society, Booktrack may have the oomph and networking savvy to take what frankly seems like an awful idea and make it kind of relevant. Their current headliner is YA novel The Power of Six, sequel to I am Number Four but they seem to be focusing on public domain novels in future ventures.
Green, D. (2011). Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries. Retrieved from http://www.erialproject.org/
The ERIAL project, Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries, used intensive interviews and other data from 5 universities in Michigan to draw conclusions about the current state of academic research and its relationship with the academic library.
The project used two anthropologists and two years of intensive interviews with students, librarians, and faculty to get a clear picture of student research structure at universities diverse in size and population. Collections for the study also included photo journals created by librarians of hardware and spaces used in instruction, design workshops with students on library resources, cognitive maps drawn by students of library facilities, and diagrams of student movements on campus.
Inkmesh, a site developed around comparison shopping for e-books, has been getting mentioned a lot in the wake of the price fixing class action suit against Apple and five other publishers. The site works well, but its functionality is defeated in light of said price fixing.
Inkmesh was built around a simple goal, to create a database of e-book pricing and format so users could find the best deal on an e-book that would work on their device. The site accomplishes this goal pretty solidly and also provides subject browsing and lots of search refinements without many distractions. These features put it miles ahead of similar sites Leatherbound and Luzme. The site also provides a Twitter feed of free promotional e-books from big booksellers.
Michael Levine-Clark’s recent editorial in Collaborative Librarianship draws attention to the developing possibilities of e-material interlibrary loan. The current system, while a marvel of academic library collaboration, is a bit hands-on. The development of systems like OCLC’s ILLiad and Ariel allow libraries to share e-documents, but the future of this kind of lending is a bit murky. OCLC is currently developing a fee-based lending program through MyiLibrary, but it bypasses the potentially problematic library-to-library lending by loaning direct from the publisher.
Levine-Clark suggests that the next step for interlibrary loan is the development of patron-driven ILL.
BookLamp, which I profiled for the blog last month, has just launched a new site. The new incantation of this book recommendation tool is pretty interesting in light of the launch of Pundit and our DR&M conversation today about adaptive technologies. BookLamp is unique among current book recommendation engines as it auto-gathers thematic elements from full text book-searching rather than relying on subject terms created by a reader or librarian.
BookLamp also aims to avoid the popularity bias found in sites that adapt to sales and book collection similarity among users. The previous version of the site contained graphs showing things like pacing and plot and this version seems to focus more on specific thematic keywords while standard indicators of similarity operate in the background. This focus is kind of groundbreaking from a readers’ advisory perspective, which seems to tend towards read alikes based on genre and style. The site promises a future of adaptability, with a Pandora-like “dislike” option and control for the density of each element in your results.
Bibliographic control is one of the most deeply traditional roles in librarianship, but its usefulness for individual libraries has been in question since the Library of Congress began mass-producing catalog cards in 1901. In 2009 the American Library Association established a group to consider the costs and benefits of bibliographic control and original cataloging in an increasingly digital world. This paper represents the results of their analysis.
Bibliographic standards were developed to give libraries a base for collaboration and communication between catalogs. In the days before full-text search and user-generated tags, catalog records were indispensable to the profession and cataloging skill had a direct and palpable impact on the usability of library resources. These benefits are still very strongly felt by most libraries today, but as our collections begin to tip away from physical holdings, good metadata may cease to be the foundation of a searchable collection.
OCLC, massive library conglomerate and the organization behind WorldCat, has debuted a new visualization of identity connection using its Search API and Identities Database. Users are able to browse through connections between creators, companies, participants, subjects, and fictional characters.
The interface is exciting and organized. When you browse along the line, connections pleasantly burst out of each topic and create nice little identity molecules. It's very exciting to find a record with a lot of connections, suddenly wire structures pop into life all over your screen. I’m not crazy about the color scheme, but the effect is pleasant, fun, and clean. I like that OCLC is still experimenting and struggling with the purpose of print authority control on the internet. The Identities Database from whence this idea came is really quite useful and has more careful feel.
Can a passion for reading be taught? Last week’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education explores the advent of text-based schooling and questions the idea that inspired teaching can create lifelong readers. Alan Jacobs, author of The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, argues that the ability to experience pleasure in long form reading has always been a minority pursuit and that educators have been stinking up this issue with our reading love bias for years. Notably absent from the discussion are the illiterate masses to which Jacobs alludes. Joking aside, the article has inspired a lot of thoughts not only about the teaching of reading, but about the migration of quality content. The biggest issue in educating readers today is that we may fail to identify that good modern reading transcends format.