This article describes several initiatives to improve access and understanding of electronic resources. The first of these was the OpenURL project, which arose in the dawn of the e-journal age during the 1990’s. The project meant to create a standard by which content providers and library-centered knowledge bases could offer “right copy” access, directing patrons to library purchased resources. Linking to these resources is a complex endeavor with many remaining problems and three recent projects seek to improve electronic journal access, accuracy, and representation.
There have been several recent stories of mobile publications and platforms expanding (retreating?) into the browser. Today Overdrive announced “Overdrive Read” a browser-based platform based on their recent acquisition of Australian e-book publisher Booki.sh. The new interface will launch later this year after demoing at Book Expo America and ALA. Mobile magazine app Zinio has partnered with Recorded Books to offer a browser-based subscription periodical service aimed at public libraries. The service has been running strong in other english language markets for nearly a year but its recent stateside launch scored several quickie subscriptions.
In the midst of its various upheavals, the Harvard Library system has produced some good perspective on the evolving role of libraries and their changing relationship with content providers. Today the Harvard Innovation Lab released something a little more hopeful, in the form of a sweet note of librarian/developer harmony. Paul Deschner, applications developer at the Lab wrote of good old-fashioned cataloging:
The expertise which catalogers bring to the task of
comprehensive bibliographic description has proven crucial to me as a
reference resource in my work of designing software to harvest and
process bibliographic information. At the Law Library, the catalogers
are a few hallway steps away, and are as crucial to my being able to
create smart software as anyone on my development team.
The solidarity may not serve to change much of the reorganization plan, which includes cuts for technical services teams in the university, but it’s a charming testimony to the innovation and synergy of an interdisciplinary team and an appealing argument for technology in libraries and librarianship in technology.
In How Much do Core Journals Change over a Decade?, Steve Black looked at journal ranking over a 12-year period in the field of communication disorders. The ranking criteria used came from a 2001 study examining the reliability of citation rankings in the same field. This study confirmed a strong correlation between high citation rankings and patron use on a local level. Black used these rankings to define movement trends in this set of journals between 1997 and 2009.
There was a significant annual increase in the number of journal titles and the number of published papers as the decade progressed. The period also saw a 32% increase in citations per article, but Black found that the highest-ranking journals were generally static during this time. The most significant movement was seen amongst journals that began with a low ranking. The success of these dark horse publications was interestingly linked to lower than average price increases, suggesting that discovery played a roll in the evolution of these inoffensive players. The paper found that movement amongst ranked journals was insignificant enough to be managed by normal development initiatives like annual additions and cancellations.
This study examined the effect of video on student learning outcomes in online courses in the vein of several earlier studies that show a positive correlation between social interaction in online learning and retention. Most of these studies examined discussion boards and collaborative tasks and found that students that engaged with their peers in class were more likely to complete the course. The author proposed that video could play a similar role in asynchronous courses and give students the connection that would make course completion more likely.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s been making news lately, not all of it good. The educational publisher announced a move last week into bankruptcy process and reorganization to eliminate $3.1 billion in debt. They also recently announced a content partnership with Barnes & Noble to put pre-loaded, institutional Nook collections in K-12 classrooms and the release of two enhanced iBooks titles on the new platform for iPad. The focus on K-12 markets drew flak on the e-reader blog beat for its limited scope, but the prospect of annual e-textbook licensing and the stability of institutional subscriptions seems like a unifying move for HMH.
There’s been a lot of digital action on the bookstore circuit these days. The recently-announced spin off of Barnes & Noble College Bookstores to the Nook division and their investment partnership with Microsoft will undoubtedly bring change to the massive chain, though plans have not yet been divulged. Follett, the second largest chain of college bookstores, announced its own partnership with the iPad publishing platform Inkling yesterday. The two plan to distribute iPad optimized textbooks to students through Follett college sites with more attractive payment options like a 3-chapter selection of the book and purchase through financial aid bolstered student accounts. This flurry of activity represents a definite wind change on the college bookstore frontier. The stores have course data and student access on their side and a pivot, even this late in the game, may let them stand in the face of the aggressive pricing and comprehensive coverage of competitors like Amazon.
Clarity is a newly-launched website meant to serve as a line of connection between startup royalty and the aspirational. The idea is similar to Ohours, but with cooler font and a greater emphasis on multitasking phone interviews over in-person meetings. The site was founded by Dan Martell, a lean startup guru and investor/advisor to sites like Hootsuite.
Clarity’s UI is gorgeous, very bright and lush with big, clean images. Though its mission is fairly straightforward, it offers a lot of flexibility for users in time and payment plans. Advisors are given the option to receive hourly payment for their service or donate their time to the charity of their choice. Clarity takes a transaction fee for paid calls (but not the charity ones) and plans to offer a freemium model in the future.
An intriguing idea has been floating around the library blogosphere inspired by Overdrive’s recently announced plans to expand into a new, $5 million headquarters and the potential implications for content and service. Amongst librarians miffed at Overdrive’s fund allocation in light of their consistent mediocrity there have been rumblings of a buyout. Not that we could afford it in its current state or even have a mechanism in place for such a venture, but the idea suggests an interesting possible future for digital book lending.
Amazon’s neat little private library also announced today a partnership with J.K.
Soldier accounts in the form of letters, diaries, and mementos have long been targeted for archival preservation. These collections are well-used and offer a unique perspective to our understanding of historical conflict. Soldier record methods in the Iraq/Afghanistan war have developed somewhat faster than preservation and archivists must move quickly to make record of these primarily born-digital accounts.
These resources present several unique challenges to archivists. The real-time methods of military blogs and other digital records make anonymity and ambiguity more important than it is in slow-travel and no-travel communication. The close watch and multiple warnings issued by the US Army to Specialist Colby Buzzell over his blog, My War are cited as examples of the unique restrictions on military blogs over both sensitive information and representations of the military. Limited soldier access to the Internet means that some date information or detail can be lost when entries are finally posted. Linking and networking are unique benefits to digital materials, but these quickly degrade and are difficult to preserve even several months from creation.