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New Metrics

It’s unusual to listen to a vendor presentation and realize that the speaker isn’t promoting her product, isn’t giving a sales pitch, and is raising questions that we should all be thinking about. The New Metrics and Services for Delivering Value session was one of these. The final speaker was Mary Sauer-Games, VP, Higher Education Publishing for ProQuest, who said, “People don’t search anymore.” She also asked, somewhat rhetorically, how we can measure value. Next generation databases include increased use of PDFs and new types of content such as images, maps, audio, video and interactive). There’s more emphasis on browsing and more post-search manipulation. Students want to comment on what they’ve found in the databases and store citations in their personal workspace. ProQuest research into user behavior shows that there is more browsing and less searching.

The new value indicators all comes down to user satisfaction, concluded Sauer-Games, with the whole issue of metrics raising lots of questions that, so far, haven’t been answered.

Opening Up

Does our future lie in being open? Charlene Li, Thursday’s keynote speaker certainly thinks so. Her talk, on the impact of social media in your organization, started with the story of David Carroll, a Canadian musician whose guitar was broken by United Airlines baggage handlers. He wrote a song about the experience, made a music video, and put it up on YouTube. It quickly went viral, much to the dismay of United, one presumes. To Li, this illustrates the importance of social media and the clout of our culture of sharing. “We must have the confidence to let go, to give up the need to be in control,” she said.

She then listed the elements of openness as explaining, updating, conversing, open mic, and platform. The new decision making model is distributed rather than the old command and control model. Push out decision making to staff. Think open source in decision making.

How to get started in being an open leader? Start with defining your open strategy. You can’t just be a brand, Li told us, you must be in the conversation. Then you should understand the benefits of openness. Facebook fans, for example, only have value if they do something. Next build trust and manage risks, orchestrate openness, and find and nurture open leaders. Finally plan to fail well.

Li ended by saying that open leaders nurture curiosity and are humble. They should hold openness accountable and forgive failure.

Cheers to the New Year

Will Hann, managing direcotr of FreePint, and Yvonne Dews, financial manager, toast the new year.

Will Hann, managing director of FreePint, and Yvonne Dews, financial manager, toast the new year.

At the FreePint party on Tuesday night, guests enjoyed piping hot pizza and a bottomless glass of wine to celebrate a “good year” for the publishing company, despite a rough economy. Friends and business colleagues spent an evening having fun and taking advantage of a few moments of free time to catch up on all the latest industry news.

Managing director Will Hann is gearing up for 2010 to continue to “build on the growth we’ve experienced in 2009.”

Helping Libraries Become Knowledge Centers

Matthew Drury, Director of International Sales, Serials Solutions was upbeat when I spoke with him yesterday in London.

In this interview, he talks about how libraries are expanding their electronic collections and considering how to deliver content to the devices–including both laptops and hand-helds–their users want to employ to access library collections.

Recognizing that libraries acquiring ebook collections today face the same challenges in managing ebook records that they do when acquiring ejournal collections, Serials Solutions recently announced an “ebook normalization” standard, which Drury said, will help libraries condense multiple ebook holdings into a single record.

Watch the video.

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Ex Libris: Towards Openness and Convergence

Libraries are asking where are vendors going? what kind of strategies are they deploying? what do I do with my print collection in a digital world?  And they are looking for vendors to share their vision, says Marc Daubach, Corporate V.P., General Manager, Europe, Ex Libris Group, in this interview.

The Ex Libris vision embraces  open source solutions within its products and advocates openness in data as well.  The company does not see it as an either/or (left or right hand) choice.   It’s all destined to come together, even content and systems.

In addition to discussing market conditions around the world, the interview contains an update on the massive Ex Libris project to develop a “Unified Resource Management System” that will handle both print and electronic resources.  The development effort for this project is being conducted by Ex Libris in a transparent way, involving libraries closely in defining  the new system, which is planned for release in 2012.

Watch the video.

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OCLC: Make Libraries More Productive

“These are extreme and stressful times,” notes Jay Jordan, President of OCLC, at the start of this interview.  But how extreme and stressful conditions are tends to depend upon where the library is geographically located.

In the U.S., library budgets are constrained and will remained constrained for some time.  Jay suggests the providers help libraries get costs down so they can continue to serve their constituents while operating with less money and fewer people.  The key is, help libraries be more productive.

Outside the US, Jay notes that opportunities exist for reaching new markets,including in China, Australia, Euruope and the Middle East.

Should libraries turn to Open Source systems or hosted solutions to reduce their costs?  It may be an answer for some.

Watch the video to learn more from OCLC’s broad perspective.

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No Fizzies

If by “fizzies”, you thought I meant drinks, then my headline is misleading. Indeed, several vendors had mini-drinks parties on their stands and those sometimes involved champagne. No, what I had in mind was German information companies whose names begin with FIZ. Neither FIZ Chemie Berlin nor FIZ Karlsruhe chose to come to the U.K. to exhibit this year. I confess I missed catching up with them, but it may be indicative of the state of the industry that the FIZzies didn’t find it cost-effective to make the journey.

Other German companies on the exhibit floor included Springer, which as you have probably seen from other blog posts introduced its SpringerMaterials at the show. For a short time, it appeared that we would also have news of Springer’s being acquired by Informa, but Informa has now dropped its efforts to buy Springer.

The other German company whose stand I visited was Weitkamper Technology, a  very interesting search engine technology, HitEngine. Its XSEARCH technologies include a clustering engine, facet navigation, search suggestions, and linguistic analysis.

Driving Towards Disambiguation

What does a racecar have to do with disambiguation? I have no idea, but I do regret being talked into climbing into the racecar simulator at the Thomson Reuters stand. Luckily, it was very early and no one except a few Thomson Reuters staff witnessed my abysmal driving on the race track. Yes, I drove off the track several times, went into a spin, and generally embarrassed myself. No, there is no photo to accompany this blog post. The “adventure” made me want to change my name so no one would associate me with such poor driving skills.

Wait, maybe that was the tie-in with disambiguation of author names. It’s a big problem, trying to determine if authors with similar names are, in fact, the same person, particularly when they have changed institutional affiliations. Thomson Reuters and Nature Publishing Group convened the first Name Identifier Summit last month with a follow-up meeting occurring during Online Information. Accurate identification of researchers and their work is particularly important as we move to e-science. Thus far, there are 21 organizations participating in this initiative, including learned societies, libraries, open access publishers, and for-profit companies.

This collaboration, it is hoped, will create an open, independent identification system for scholarly authors.

Advice from Nature Publishing Group: Add “Real” Value

It seems like Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is always pushing the envelope when it comes to content stuff.   In this interview, NPG’s Grace Baynes notes that while 2008 and 2009 may have been about developing and deploying products with social networking capabilities, the opportunities that lie ahead require content and business model innovation.  Some touch points she suggests that publishers think about are Open Access, mobile devices and ebook readers.  Some may also need to rethink pricing and licensing terms.

Watch the video.

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SIIA: It All Depends on What Market Sector You’re In

For content companies, it’s not quite business as usual, but there remains a strong need for various kinds of content and content services.

In financial markets, there’s been a reduction in force, with an associated loss of content “seats.”   As the financial sector makes its inevitable comeback, the financial content business should come back, too.  But that’s not necessarily soon.

With legal information and STM markets, there are demands for a change in the business models.

Each segment has been affected differently, says Ed Keating, V.P., Content Division, SIIA, in this video interview, recorded yesterday at Online Information in London.

Ed identifies some strategies that content companies are following during this time in order to be better positioned for future growth.

Watch the video.

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