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Next Year’s Closing Keynote

SLA hasn’t revealed the opening keynote for the 2008 conference in Seattle, but the closing keynote is reputed to be Seth Godin, a blogger of great renown (http://sethgodin.typepad.com)

See  you there..

Catching Up with ProQuest

Some of the ITI blog crew had breakfast during SLA with Marty Kahn, CEO of ProQuest, and Lynda James-Gilboe, EVP of Marketing, ProQuest.  Just to clarify an earlier post, the new name is ProQuest, not ProQuest Science. The photo we posted earlier kind of implies that the word Science is part of the new name, which it isn’t. The new logo’s got a kind of swirly Q to it that is very modern looking.

Marty and Lynda reported that the merger is going smoothly and they’ve been delighted that the companies have such complementary products and values. Work needs to be done on the technical side, since both the old CSA and ProQuest platforms need improvement. They stressed how the management team has pulled together the best people from both companies and brought in some outsiders as well. The new CIO, Bipin Patel, comes from Ford Motor Company and is someone I heard speak at a Forrester conference a few years ago. I was impressed and think he’ll be a very welcome presence at ProQuest. Marty commented that he’s taking very seriously Barbara Quint’s comments in her article, "Dear Marty, Dear Matt" and you may hear some more about that going forward.

What they didn’t bother to tell us at breakfast was the news release that hit our collective mailboxes a bit later the same day, announcing  a reciprocal searching and linking partnership that will expand the research capabilities of mutual customers of CSA Illumina  (that’s the product that deep indexes illustrative matter within articles) and Scopus. Quoting from the release, "This integration is designed to enable users of CSA Illumina to find 4,500 Scopus titles in natural sciences, business, and economics directly integrated in their search results. In turn, Scopus users will be able to view records from selected ProQuest databases in social sciences from the CSA Illumina platform. CSA Illumina, from ProQuest, is a digital platform for bibliographic and full-text searching of more than 100 databases covering social sciences. Scopus is an abstract and citation database of research literature and quality web sources with tools to track, analyze, and visualize research, covering over 15,000 titles from more than 4,000 international publishers."

Strolling the exhibit hall, I stopped by the Grey House booth, where Dick Gottlieb reminded me that his company, acquired Micromedia’s directories pubishing production from ProQuest last November.

Busy and exciting times for ProQuest!

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals, www.onlinemag.net

 

 

 

EPA Comes to SLA

MIke Flynn, Deputy Director of the Office of Information Analysis & Access at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,  was the invited guest at SLA’s Public Policy Update session. After Doug Newcomb summarized SLA’s stance on various public policy issues, such as orphan works, Grokster, copyright, fair use, net neutrality, broadcast flag, Congressional Research Service reports availability, and others, Janice Lachance described her activities representing SLA at World Information Society meetings. The next Forum will be held in Rio.

Then it was  Flynn’s turn. The issues surrounding EPA libraries have been a "hot button" item for months: For background on the issue, see Barbie Keiser’s NewsBreak of February 12, 2007 (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbReader.asp?ArticleId=19226). Flynn, who’s been with the agency since 1980, was remarkably upbeat. He said he was there to tell us what the EPA was doing and what they’re not doing. Everyone in the room applauded when he said, "The EPA libraries are alive and well — and we intend to keep them that way." HIs goal is to improve the library network and he admitted that much of the bad publicity was due to poor communications. He’s looking for ways to empower informatin to make it useful for users. There is, however, continuing pressure regarding resources, which is why some of the regional EPA libraries and the headquarters library were closed to walk-in traffic, while others cut back their hours. Technology enables the libaries to provide service even without a physical presence. The new EPA approach is not to diminish resources, but to change the delivery mode. He likened librarians to "high tech info sleuths" — humans can make connections that computers can’t. (I thought of that comment later during the visualization session I moderated, since the message there seemed to be that computers could make connections that humans can’t.)

Flynn made some promises to the group. There will be no more closures or cutbacks in hours (at least not without thorough review and, one presumes, better communication as to why this is happening if it happens in the future). The hiring of Debbie Balsamo, an SLA member and president of the North Carolina Chapter, shows the agency’s commitment to the profession. EPA has stopped its digitization project pending a third party review. EPA will schedule stakeholder meetings — July is the next scheduled one and it is being hosted by ALA. EPA will set up an advisory board. It intends to integrate more with other government agencies. EPA will update its Web presence.

Closing his remarks by stating that the EPA "is committed to providing access and improving library services," Flynn then took some tough questions from the audience. He clarified specific staff cuts and open hours for some of the regional libraries. One librarian wanted to know if she could still ask questions of EPA librarians to further her company’s goal of reducing emissions in their truck fleet. The answer was yes. Concerns about the digitization process and the contractor (Lockheed Martin) were voiced. Is sensitive but not classified information being removed from the Web site? Flynn said it wasn’t, but there had been technical glitches that resulted in information either being removed or not able to be found. That has been fixed. What about climate change? It’s a key strategy of the EPA, said Flynn, to put more documents relevant to the topic online. Will Google be able to find EPA archived documents or will they be protected by a robots.txt file? Flynn had no idea what a robots.txt file was and gamely admitted his ignorance. He did think Google could find EPA documents but knowledgeable libarians in the audience were sceptical. Is EPA a closed system? Are there opportunities to work with UN initiatives to open up EPA information to the world? Flynn’s answer wasn’t the epitome of clarity, although he opted for openess. At this point, Janice suggested he should also look at partnering with the private sector.

Later, in a private meeting later with Jill Hurst-Wall, Barbie Keiser, and several ITI bloggers and editors, Flynn attributed some of the communication problems to the structure of the EPA. "It’s not command and control," he said. From the sound of it, the EPA is one of the most decentralized libary systems I’ve heard about. A simple question that Flynn received a few months ago from a (mainstream media) reporter about hours at the individual regional libraries couldn’t be answered without contacting all the individual libraries. The reporter took this as stonewalling, I gather, although I would chalk it up to that extreme decentralization.

Having both Mike Flynn and Debbie Balsamo at SLA speaks volumes for the public policy arm of SLA. Doug Newcomb worked diligently to ensure that a continuing dialogue between SLA and EPA clarified what was going on with the libraries. The situation with EPA affects not only the library profession but scientific research in general and the public’s right to access to envrionmental information in particular. As I said at the beginning of this post, it’s a "hot button" issue and it’s not just a library issue.

I was a bit concerned that Flynn would simply spout a party line, but he seems genuinely dedicated to environmental issues and to improving library services. On the other hand, he works for a political appointee, Molly O"Neill, the Chief Information Officer. My hope is that in balancing what one must do to remain in one’s boss’ good graces — something that is endemic to all organizations, not just the government — with what is essential to improved information access and library services, the EPA will find its way to doing the right thing. The appearance of Flynn at SLA is not, by any means, the end of this particular saga. The Information Today editors and writers will watch it closely.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals, www.onlinemag.net

 

 

Google Tips

At the Google booth, they were handing out a bookmark with search tips. The tips were: doing a site specific seach using the site: operator, convert ing units of measure (cm in foot), doing basic math (1 + 1 tells you the answer is 2), searching for an exact phrase ("one small step for mankind"), excluding words from a search (the – is Google’s NOT operator), and finding similar words (the tilde ~ theoretically searches for synonyms). That latter is quite problematic, something Google didn’t say. They also had fortune cookies. The one I got told how to find pages that link to you using the link:yoursite.org command. I wish they’d been more specific about how to do that search, since some people would type include the http:// while others would start with www. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think most SLA attendees already know these rather basic tips. They certainly know them if they’ve ever attended WebSearch University (www.websearchu.com)!

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals, www.onlinemag.net

 

Not Much Left

The main part of the conference finished this afternoon.  Well before the finish, the comfortable chairs in the Wireless Lounge had been taken away.  That didn’t stop Wi-Fi users from continuing to access the Internet, check their e-mail, etc.  Nearby, the registration area was almost gone.

Still to come are a number of interesting looking tours tomorrow.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

 

The Mile High City

In case you have never been to Denver, here are a couple of pictures of the city from one of the hotels near the conference center.

 

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

60 gadgets in 60 minutes (Or, What I Learned at SLA)


(L-R) Barbara Fullerton, Brian Neale, Holly Pinto

Even though it was one of the final sessions of the conference, the always gadgets session played to a standing room only crowd. (Suggestion to future conference planners:  never schedule the gadgets session in anything less than a large auditorium!) 

Below are the gadgets presented along with brief characteristics and prices of each.  I was not able to note the URLs of most of them (some are quite long), but the complete presentation will be available shortly on the SLA Law Division website or llrx.com.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

 


 

  • Canon Powershot S5 IS camera
    8 megapixels, large screen that rotates, high-quality video
  • 24 carat gold iPod (black or white front), $600-800
  • Palm Treo 755 organizer and phone
    1.74×1.74” color touch screen, the most recent Palm OS (which supports 29,000 applications), integrated Google Maps, instant messaging, Web access, speakerphone, keyboard, 1.3 megapixel camera, and Bluetooth capability.  $280 ($100 rebate currently available from Spring)
  • Golan i.Tech virtual keyboard
    Uses Bluetooth technology to wirelessly connect a virtual keyboard to the user’s device and projects it on any flat surface. Sensors recognize keystrokes, and it emits the familiar sound of tapping the keys.  $170
  • Palm Foleo
    Transfers computer applications to a cell phone (why would anyone want to do this?).  $499.  Available soon.
  • Harmon-Kardon GPS-500.
    Provides both navigation and entertainment on a 4 inch display.  Includes a 5 hour battery and a built-in MP3 player.  $400
  • Clocky the alarm clock
    Only gives you one chance to get up after the alarm goes off, then runs away.  If you snooze, it will jump off nightstand and run around looking for a place to hide. $50
  • Warming mousse pad that uses USB ports.
    Made of wool and cotton.  The temperature increases 10 degrees every 5 minutes.  $22
  • Garmin Nuvi GPS with a widescreen display
    Includes a JPEG picture viewer to review pictures, world travel clock, anti-theft capability.  Not available yet, but expect to sell for about $420.
  • Space saving charging station that powers 4 devices at once.  $149
  • Motorola Bluetooth headphones
    Ultralight weight.  Include an adapter for iPod and cell phone.  $100
  • Cellular book reader with a rollable foldable display
    Can access e-mail, RSS readers, and e-books; also can be loaded with music and podcasts in 4 gigabytes of storage.  Battery life is an amazing 10 days.
    Avail only in Italy at present
  • Panasonic 103 inch plasma TV
    A monster display weighing 771 pounds and requiring a professional 3 hours to install
    (What happened to plug & play?)  $63,000
  • Apple iPhone
    Scheduled to launch June 29, 2007.
    Will sell for $500 (4 gB storage) or $600(8 gB) from AT&T/Cingular.  Includes a 3-1/2” screen, virtual keyboard, 2 megapixel camera, iPod and stereo Bluetooth capability. Runs the Mac operating system.
  • Helio: The Ocean
    A cell phone with two keypads, a 2.4 inch display, 200 mB of memory, 2 megapixel camera, GPS, and USB port.  $295
  • LG Prada phone with camera, video player, mp3 music player, and an advanced touch interface that eliminates a conventional keypad.  $780
  • aXbo sleep phase alarm clock
    Monitors your sleep cycles and goes off when you have reached a light sleep phase, making it easier to get up.  Can play a variety of sounds and monitor up to two people.  Also operates as a normal alarm.  $250
  • Grillin’ & Chillin’ iGrill
    Starts a barbecue grill from any Internet connection using a PC’s USB port.  Can cook a hamburger in 2 minutes.  $100
  • Enoround from Enomatic Wine Systems
    A16 bottle round wine kiosk able to serve two customers at once.  Automatically self cleans after every serving.  Stores wine in a controlled environment that prevents oxidation.  Controls the volume of wine dispensed, preventing over-serving.  (Wouldn’t it be great for a library??)  No price yet.
  • Eye-Fi
    A 1 Gb memory SD card with Wi-Fi capability, allowing users to upload photos to the Internet, a PC, etc. without needing cords.  Prevents running out of memory in digital cameras.  Not yet available.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 headphones with 85% noise cancellation.  Available now, rated 9/10 by Wired.  $140 at shopper.cnet.com
  • Slingbox PRO
    Watch and control up to 3 video devices from anywhere in the world, allowing you to get shows from your home TV, DVR, etc.  $250
  • Phone Labs Dock-N-Talk
    Universal cell phone docking station and charger permitting seamless switching between a home landline and cell phone.  Allows effective management of unused cell minutes. Transfers Caller ID data between both phones; also has a Bluetooth option.  $150 from PhoneLabs.
  • USB missile launcher
    Use your mouse to shoot 3-4 foam missiles across a room. $40
  • Walkman style brain scanner
    Keep tabs on mental activity during course of daily lives using real time brain activity data which can be sent to a computer for analysis.
    Not available yet
  • Sansa Connect
    A simple wireless Wi-Fi music player that can download songs to a PC.
    Supports MP3 and WMA. Allows browsing of pictures on Flickr, but does not allow recording or sharing songs.  $250 plus subscription to service
  • General Dynamics’ GoBook MR-1
    A rugged Wi-Fi enabled laptop with advanced features for outdoor use.  Only available to the military.
  • Hamster-powered paper shredder
    The ultimate in green power!  Helps exercise your hamster.  Not available yet.
  • Tornado retractable 4-foot file transfer cable so you can easily move everything from one PC to another.
    Uses USB 2.0 (600% faster than USB drive).  Software auto loads on both PCs when the cable is plugged in.  Operates on Windows98 through Vista. Great for backups. $60
  • Tooth Tunes
    A toothbrush bristles with a chip in the handle so that when the bristles touch your teeth, music plays for up to 2 minutes.  Great for getting children to brush their teeth.  Provides a choice of a wide selection of songs.  $10
  • TV remote control gun
    Sounds a realistic gunshot when you change channels.  No need for a gun license. $49
  • Freshly baked USB drives
    Food look-alikes on USB drives.  Price to be determined.  See www.valvolo.com/freshlybakedusb.asp
  • Rubber Man Webcam
    Webcam in the shape of a man with a rotatable head and body that can be adjusted to any angle.  Works with Skype.  $19
  • Nintendo gameboy platform shoes that make you taller and more noticeable.  Not available yet.
  • RIM Blackberry curve (BlackBerry 8300)
    Smallest and lightest phone with a QWERTY keyboard.  Includes a trackball navigator, spellchecker, 2 megapixel camera, 64mb memory, and Bluetooth stereo wireless.  Allows assignment of photos to contacts.  $200 from AT&T
  • Laptop stand
    Light, compact, fits any laptop.  Slip-proof, adjusts to six typing angles, improves ergonomics.  Includes a lazy susan so the laptop can be swiveled around.  $60
  • Hands free cellphone kit
    Frees hands for other tasks, (like driving!).  $4
  • PaperIQ digital pen for BlackBerry
    Frees you from the keyboard.  Handwriting is converted to text that you can send from a BlackBerry.  Digital copies of text are saved as PDF on a secure website.  Requires special paper and subscription to a recognition and storage service. $300
  • Digital microscope
    Displays high quality microscope images on a PC through a USB connection.  Magnified up to 200x.  Can also display snapshots and time-lapse movies.  $179
  • Electrolaser plasma
    A laser-induced plasma channel that can conduct electricity.  If you break the laser beam, you will get an electric shock (and possibly still live).  For government use only.
  • Iliad e-book reader
    Not just an e-book; allows reading and writing as on paper.  Notes and annotations can be transferred to a PC.  Has an 8.1 inch screen, 64 mB RAM, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet functionality.  $700
  • Google voice local search
    Free directory assistance (411) search that delivers local business information over the phone.  Available now; call (877)-GOOG-411 or (800)-GOOG-411.
  • Jawbone
    A Bluetooth headset with excellent sound quality.  Uses DARPA noise shield technology. Ergonomic and lightweight; includes ear loop and ear bud.  $100
  • Smart eyewear
    Checks blood sugar levels by glancing in a mirror and observing colors that change as sugar levels change. Currently under development at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Mad Dog Speakers
    Project tunes thru speakers that look like snarling mean dogs. $20
  • Keep warm items.  $20 ea from www.vavolo.com

Coming in the Future (Or, What I Will Learn at SLA Next Year)

  • Luke’s Binoculars
    Range 1,000 – 10,000 meters, 120 degree field of view
  • LP iPod docking washing machine
    Comes with an MP player and docking station so you can play tunes as you wash.
  • D.A.V.E. technology
    10-20 gB wireless storage for music and videos that is the size of a cell phone.  Uses open source technology.  Aimed at cell phone manufacturers.  Under development by Seagate.

E-Books on Steroids

When I saw on the program that the first sessions of each day started at 7 AM, I figured that only a few hardy souls would come to any of them.  Imagine my surprise when I arrived this morning to hear about “E-Books on Steroids” and found a room full of e-book devotees!  And it was well worth the effort to come that early in the morning.  Four representatives of companies offering e-book services responded to a series of questions that had been pre-submitted.  The program was packed with quality information, and I’m sure that lots of people were highly satisfied with it.

It’s a funny thing about e-books.  They generated intense interest when they started, and then it seemed like the market had collapsed.  Many of the initial companies went out of business, and even some larger ones like netLibrary fell victim to the changes in the industry and was rescued by OCLC.  (Does this sound like the dot-com collapse of the 1990s?)  But now, there has been a resurgence of interest in e-books.  As one speaker commented, “This has been the explosion year for e-books.”  Indeed, e-books seem to be on steroids, and many large companies have entered the e-book market.

Panelists for this morning’s “steroids” session were (L-R) Cynthia Cleto, Springer; Chris Warnock, eBrary; Todd Fagen, ProQuest, and Chris Forbes, Knovel.  The questions they were asked to address were on pricing, digital rights management, usability, and how “steroids” have impacted their products to make them bigger, better, and faster.

Knovel

Knovel’s product is sold on a subscription basis, with tiered pricing based on the size of the institution.  It is a very open system; all downloading or printing is unlimited.  Forbes feels that a product succeeds or fails depending on how much usage it gets.  (In fact, he has a dashboard on his computer that shows him the latest usage statistics, and that is the first thing he looks at every day.)

Knovel is taking an innovative approach to DRM by adding a digital watermark to all their content.  They are also completely rebuilding their backend system to make sure that everyone using it is authorized.

Knovel’s steroids include making engineers more productive and classroom experiences more compelling.  Because the Knovel system deals with data, specialized tools are incorporated into it, and the search feature is optimized for engineering.  Content decisions are driven by subject matter experts and user requests, and in what I would call an enlightened approach, subject matter experts are used for customer service.

ProQuest (representing Safari Books)

The pricing model is a subscription based on FTE plus the number of simultaneous users.  Customers can choose to subscribe to the entire file or a two year rolling file, and they can choose which books to add to their collection as well as swap books in and out of the collection at any time.  Printing and downloading at the chapter level are unlimited.  Video content will soon become available, and the QuickTime player will be required for that.

ProQuest’s steroids include searching across thousands of books seamlessly.  The system has lots of functionality to allow users to pinpoint precise informatgion. 

eBrary

Warnock feels that there is no easy way yet to acquire e-books.  eBrary has built a database of books for subscription.  Libraries can buy parts of the database or all of it, or even individual titles.  If they choose to pay 1½ times the retail price of a book, they get unlimited simultaneous access to it.

DRM is a blessing and a curse, and eBrary has a simple model of it.  Warnock said that the notion of a public utility within copyright must be preserved, or else you will lose customers (which happened to eBrary).  On average, most of eBrary’s customers print no more than 16 pages per session, so they limit printing to 20 pages per session and have not received any complaints.

eBrary is one of the few e-book vendors that requires a reader plug-in, but the advantage is that the plug-in lets users do things not supported by HTML or browsers, such as delivering citations with prints.  Even so, not many people like the idea of a plug-in so they are developing a Java application.

eBrary’s steroids:   they developed their own reader, which makes their system a very integrated research environment that allows libraries to integrate other databases or resources from other vendors into the system and customize it to meet their needs.

Springer

Springer’s pricing is by FTE and type of institution.  Customers receive perpetual access, upon payment of a one-time fee or tiered pricing.  Since access is perpetual, there are no restrictions on printing or copying.

Springer’s system is on steroids because of the sheer volume of books available (they have 17,000 books online, all categorized by subject, and growing by 3200 per year). 

I came away with the distinct feeling that e-books are in a new resurgence, and we will continue to hear plenty about them in the future.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

Another Artistic Touch

Colorado Panorama

One of the truly remarkable things about Denver is the fact that art is everywhere . . .  you just encounter it unexpectedly, everywhere you go.

This fabulous panorama, made entirely of mosaic tiles, stretches the length of an under hang of the southeast side of Convention Center.  The work by Barbara Jo Revelle is two blocks long and consists of 300,000 tiles.

Revelle, head of photography at the University of Colorado, is said to have spent more than a year collecting the images and stories of the 168 people depicted from Colorado’s past.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content