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Colleagues at the University of Minnesota have produced another must-read report on the discoverability of library resources [Splash page, PDF]. Importantly, it provides a framework within which to think about evolving issues and in this way makes a real contribution to our understanding of the environment and ability to plan for change.....Read more here
This week's episode of LISTen is a quick look at headlines in light of some sort of major sporting event taking place in the United States.
Daily Mail on snow in the northern hemisphere
The Register: Internet Kill Switch
Investor's Business Daily: Internet Kill Switch
PCMag.com: Internet Kill Switch
OpenCongress.org: Internet Kill Switch
Jillian York: Future of Egyptian Internet
The Register: Bill Gates on Killing The Internet
The Scottish Sun: "Use your library because it's on borrowed time"
Comment Is Free: Technology Changing Reading Habits
The Observer: "Super Library" in Birmingham (UK)
The Guardian: Shh-in
HOWTO: Communicate if Your Government Shuts Off Your Internet
3:16 minutes (1.31 MB)
LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #141 by The Air Staff of Erie Looking Productions is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Curation is the New Search is the New Curation
"The answer, of course, is that we won't -- do them all by hand, that is. Instead, the re-rise of curation is partly about crowd curation -- not one people, but lots of people, whether consciously (lists, etc.) or unconsciously (tweets, etc) -- and partly about hand curation (JetSetter, etc.). We are going to increasingly see nichey services that sell curation as a primary feature, with the primary advantage of being mostly unsullied by content farms, SEO spam, and nonsensical Q&A sites intended to create low-rent versions of Borges' Library of Babylon. The result will be a subset of curated sites that will re-seed a new generation of algorithmic search sites, and the cycle will continue, over and over."
Wikipedia, according to Wikipedia, is "a free, Web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project." But the reference librarians we checked with would want a second source on that.
"Personally, I don't rely on Wikipedia, because of people's ability to go in and edit anybody's text and change the history," says Karen Sharp, senior librarian and webmaster at the Wayne Public Library.
Wikipedia, which comes (according to Wikipedia) from the Hawaiian word "wiki" — "quick" — joined to the "pedia" from "encyclopedia," was launched 10 years ago this Saturday by founders Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger.
Since that time, reportedly 365 million readers have pored over 17 million articles – all written by volunteer contributors – on subjects ranging from Aachen ("spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany") to zymology ("scientific term for fermentation").
Wikipedia has profoundly changed the way most of us gather information. It may have had less effect on the people whose job it is to look things up: reference librarians. Yes, they'll use it sometimes, they told us. But with misgivings, and never as a sole source.
"We use it as a backup," says Sharon Castanteen, director of the Johnson Free Public Library in Hackensack, who has a background in reference. "We'll start with that, get some ideas from it, but we won't trust it 100 percent."
Data is snake oil
It's because data is powerful but fickle. A lot of theoretically promising approaches don't work because there's so many barriers between spotting a possible relationship and turning it into something useful and actionable. Russell Jurney's post on Agile Data should give you a flavor of how long and hard path from raw data to product usually is. Here's some of the hurdles you'll have to jump:
I currently work at a small liberal arts college in the Midwestern USA where librarians are "embedded" in introductory courses and oversee the information literacy curriculum. Last week one of my colleagues informed me about a response from one of her students that I just have to pass along. The student's comment was that she couldn't find anything at the library about the Industrial Revolution , her other topic was .... wait for it .... Martin Luther and the Reformation. As Joe Friday is often quoted as uttering "Just the facts, ma'am"....
Catalog keyword search hits
Ok, I know that out-of-the-box library catalogs aren't as "innovative", user friendly (or forgiving) as Amazon, Google, and the like, but the difference between what the student claimed and what the "facts" illustrate is too wide a chasm to cross.
Comments like this make me think that we should have a library lock-in, perhaps overnight, and not let the student out until they find something. Heck, it might even become a succesful reality show. It wouldn't be as goofy as Silent Library but it might still be a goodie. Afterall, there could be worse fates.
Even though the audio refers to this as episode #125, it is actually #126.
Due to a staff shortage, this week's episode is a quickie with a zeitgeist review and a fast miscellany that seems to focus on WikiLeaks.
Upcoming Ballot Issues
SLAW on Library and Archives Canada lacking a digital archival strategy
The Toronto Star on Library and Archives Canada lacking a digital archival strategy
UK Deputy Prime Minister calls for investigation of allegations in WikiLeaks document dump -- Deutsche Welle
120 member task force to protect informants identified in WikiLeaks document dump -- The Voice of America
Almost 400,000 documents dumped by WikiLeaks -- The Register
Submissions to WikiLeaks suspended for now -- WikiLeaks itself
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki claims WikiLeaks document dump meant to harm his chances of re-election -- The Voice of America
Embarassing confirmations in the document dump -- Instapundit
Generation Y not into texting -- The Register
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Andrew Orlowski at The Register discusses the Wikileaks situation. A key point made is that data alone is useless without contextualization. A key quote from the piece:
The nature of news and journalism hasn't really changed. We want the world explained, the dots joined, and factoids are a poor substitute, no matter how sensational the trappings. We know that information isn't knowledge, and sometimes barely causes a ripple.