ELAG 2008: creating a new services infrastructure for the European Library

Theo van Veen explains that the new infrastructure for the European Library services infrastructure started about two years ago. Web users have become accustomed to Google, Del.icio.us and Flcikr type of application for quite some time already. That means that libraries have to lower their barriers as well to encourage the users to use the library systems.

Library systems have to perceive, interpret and respond to user requests. He illustrates these new services on a demo machine where he translates the abstracts of a record as an option from a menu that appears onmouse over. Het actually lists about 15 different type of services hat re available in this way. An option to is follow on service which triggers a speech service that reads out the translated abstract. All responses can generate new requests. His demonstrator is full of nice little tricks.

The user can make service descriptions themselves, but the systems should learn from the user interactions with the system. It will add some intelligence to the portal.

At the end he comes the legal issues. TEL can’t be held responsible for what users are doing, so they try to work with trusted partners.

The portal is in in a test phase available at http://dev.theeuropeanlibrary.org/vga/SRUportal/

ELAG2008 : Can the library be a publisher ?

A presentation by Library Waaijers on open access at the university. His presentation has been used in the Dutch congress to celebrate the opening of the library in February. His presentation is therefore already available.

Leo takes the research article as an example, and explains the publishing and peer review process. In which authors normally pay with handing over their copyrights. In a newer model authors pay in cash for the review process. In brief these are the two publishing models.

The quality construct of academic journals is grounded in the impact factors. And Impact Factors are debated to say the least. On the latter he quotes Michael Mabe from Elsevier:

Extending the use of the journal impact factor from the journal to the authors of papers in the journal is highly suspect; ……[impact factors] are not a direct measure of quality and must be used with considerable care.”

He shows us the Sherpa/Romeo categorization of copyright contracts. Reasearhcers want their articles to be published in high impact journals, that have high circulation and easily reused and presented on websites and cv’s. Preservation also matter to the researchers.

According to Leo it is time to act. The publishers won’t act. Authors, research funders and policy makers are acting al have acted. In the powerpoint of Leo he mentions (and links) many of these statements.

Leo then draws a call for proposal for Wageningen University as follows.

“Annually, WUR produces N articles in (sub) discipline Y. A consortium comprising WUR, the Ministry of Agriculture, FAO, NWO wants to tender the reviewing process for these articles under the following conditions:

  1. The reviewing process must be independent, rigorous and swift.
  2. The reviewing may be anonymous, named or open (to be decided on).
  3. All N articles will pass the reviewing process.
  4. As a result of the reviewing the articles are marked 1 to 5.
  5. Articles with marks 3 to 5 are accepted for posting in the Wageningen institutional repository and for immediate open publishing in Wageningen Yield 2.0 (in WUR house style).
  6. Subsequently authors may publish their articles in any journal.
  7. In their appraisal procedures for staff and research projects members of the consortium will weigh articles with marks 3, 4 and 5 as if they were published in journals with impact factors 3, 8 and 15 respectively (figures are nominal and subject to disciplinary calibration).
  8. The national library of the Netherlands will take care of the long term curation of the accepted articles

Proposals for a three year contract should be sent to ……The allocation of the contract will be based on the best price-performance ratio.”

Really interesting, but wonder when the time is there we actually get this idea sold.

ELAG2008: User centered design and the next generation OPAC – perfect match?

Three presenters are up. Kristin Olofsson start with quoting the three Karens on how OPACs suck. We can’t agree more with their observations. In Sweden they have attempted to build a new union catalog, which the built in various iterations.

She demonstrates the Libris catalog, which really looks very well done. Visually attractive at least. I think it will be interesting to play with that catalog a bit more.

Henrik Linstrom continues the presentation with  the explanation of user centred design, which was used to arrive at a new design for the Libris catalog. The UCD is really a long iteration of design and feedback from users. With various sociological methods, such as focus groups, workshop and surveys etc, they received user feedback.  Based on the various iterations they developed prototypes, and see what should be improved in the next round.

Martin Malmsten concludes the presentation in which he expands on the built in possibilities for continuous change.  The iteration cycles of development and testing took only about a month each. He quotes the Agile Manifesto. Their approach gave the develpoers more fun, albeit it was at times more demanding. But at the end of the day, it is also cheaper to follow this track of development.

ELAG2008: Second Life and Libraries

Bernadette Daly Swanson is presenting her experience in Second Life. She states that she doesn’t expect to jump in, but in the years to come a 3-D web will certainly become a reality. So to gain a little experience is really useful. However she hasn’t convinced her superiors yet on the usefulness of these experiences.

She quotes the 2007 horizon reports which predicts that by 2011 80% of us will be using virtual worlds. She shows us the SL version of the Public Library of Amsterdam.

A congressional hearing that were streamed to SL concentrated very much on negative aspects of Second Life. Since SL is a mirror world, negative aspect a bound to be around. She likes to stress the positive aspects.

She goes on to demonstrate SL live and meets Namro (aka as Guus) and Patrick (aka…) who are in the audience and logged in Second Life as well.

ELAG2008 day 1

The day started with a few mocking bloggers and computer users about the lack of wireless internet access in a brand new educational building at the Univeristy campus. I am sorry Patrick and Guus were  right. Luckily, well prepared, I brought some really long yellow cables and Patrick turned on the wifi on his laptop. So we cramped our style a bit and managed to work around it.

The other point that needed to be solved was the tag business. Tagging is free isn’t it? But when you want to cover a conference it is more easy to agree on a common tag so syndication of the news goes more efficiently. Where I had proposed ELAG08 already others insisted on ELAG2008, since it was used on Twitter already, whereas we could ammend the tags on blog posts and Flickr. So the tag the conference was changed to ELAG2008

Meanwhile Patrick started a hashtag page to follow the conversation on Twitter , Guus started a shared tab on Netvibes. Two interesting options to follow conference on as close as possible from a distance. Only at the end of the day I added hashtags as a follower on my Twitter, so I missed that opportunity to syndicate. Of course there was a livecast of the presentations yesterday as well. At another URL than they had promised us. The URL for the livecast for tomorrow will be http://wurtv.wur.nl/presentations/roadkit5.

The workshops were interesting I had the honour to share the moderation of the workshop with Patrick Danowski. He covered the more formal cataloging requirements whereas I tried to steer and challenge the social cataloging and tagging aspects a bit more. There are going to be another two tough sessions to get some sensible results and conclusions to report on Wednesday.