What difference do we make?

It’s post comps. Still don’t know how well I faired. I’ll let you know when I know. For now, I’m sorting thru old articles, ridding my library of unnecessary papers, and preparing to write a paper on open access and the PKP (Public Knowledge Project) for my design project.

While doing a “formal” academic database search on open access, I happened upon an editorial by Dr. Rush Miller, Hillman University Librarian and Director at the University of Pittsburgh, entitled “What Difference Do We Make?” Although I found it of little use for my project, I found a lot to ignite my soul. Dr. Miller shares, by far, my notion about the future of libraries, knowledge professionals, and where the two are converging.

I am a bit dissapointed that I cannot find the editorial via open access?!? For those of you who are not separated from The Journal of Academic Librarianship by the digital divide, I encourage you to access Volume 33, Issue 1, January 2007, pages 1-2. For those of you who ARE separated by the digital divide, i.e. have no access to a database that archives the article, I’m including significant excerpts:

“With the advent of the Google Print Project, open access journal publishing, repositories, and many other developments of the last few years, the nature and future of the academic research library are becoming less clear to us.

“Above all, it is time for us to stop criticizing alternatives to libraries and to begin to understand better why some of them are so appealing to our users. If we continue to base library practice on tradition or unquestioned assumptions about what is best for our users, we will fail.

“For example, instead of arguing that the controlled vocabulary of the OPAC produces better results, we need an analysis of how to incorporate the clearly superior aspects of Google and Yahoo into our approach to searching. Rather than presenting arrays of obscurely named databases to our users, we must create search environments that drill down below them and quickly return federated results, and eventually compete with Google and other search engines for the attention of our students and faculty.”

When speaking about a collection of materials known as Historic Pittsburgh, Dr. Miller said, “the use of this online corpus of books is already far greater than the traditional use of these same physical books on our shelves. Approximately 5,000 users per month access or view about 80% of these books. I dare say that the circulation of this entire corpus in its print version over the lifetime of the books has not equaled one month’s online usage.”

While it is still early days in terms of gathering and analyzing the data, I will be very surprised if we discover that the primary access to our digital materials is from the tools we created for them, as superior as they are! I believe Google may well emerge as the most popular route to the content of our digital projects while our OPAC may be the least used entry point. It would be very useful to me, and I believe to others, as we think about our future to understand better the relationship of the digital content we create and the methods of discovery of it by our users. We must particularly keep in mind that the purpose of knowing these things is not to better ‘‘educate’’ our users to the superiority of the traditional library approach and tools, but to create better integration with the actual tools of choice now and in the future used by our students and faculty.”

All this I offer as a way to further make a point about issues raised in my November, 2007 “metacrap” post.

more on open access and intellectual property…

Comps reviews today tells us lest not we forget…

WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization

DMCA: Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 combines two WIPO treaties

FAIR USE act entered into legislation in 2007 and seeks permission of libraries and institutions of education to circumvent technological barriers placed on the access of information. Makes the six temporary exemptions (nonprofit library, archive and education institution; reverse engineering; encryption research; protection of minors; personal privacy; and security testing) permanent.

Per Wikipedia (the “authority” threatening authority): Open access is the subject of much discussion among academics, librarians, university administrators, government officials, commercial publishers and academic publishers.

Advantages of Open Access:
Authors of such articles, who will see their papers more read, more cited, and better integrated into the structure of science
Academic readers in general at institutions that cannot afford the journal, or where the journal is out of scope
Researchers at smaller institutions, where their library cannot afford the journal
Readers in general, who may be interested in the subject matter, raising societal knowledge
The general public, who will have the opportunity to see what scientific research is about, raising societal knowledge
Taxpayers who will see the results of the research they pay for
Patients and those caring for them, who will be able to keep abreast of medical research
Global knowledge sharing

Disadvantages of Open Access:
Authors need to have a sponsor or be employed
Publishers need pay-for-access compensation
Question of peer-review and publisher “gate-keeper of authority and accuracy
Opponents question the “inability to pay” argument

Stakeholders: authors, readers, publishers, libraries

Countdown to comps…

For those of you keeping up with the blog, the last several days may have bored you to tears. We’re still studying! I’m hoping that microcontent chunks of information are beneficial to you. Today, while studying open access, open source and open science, I found a wonderful article by Dr. John Willinsky, founder of the PKP and OAJ movement. It’s worth a read!

The open movement addresses the phenomenon of new technologies running under old economies. So… to clarify this “openness,” Wikipedia (yes, the threat to authority “authority”) says this:

Open Source: related to software mean literally that the “source code” of a software program is openly available. Additionally the term implies that one not only has access to the software code, but also has the right to use it.

Open Access: The free, immediate, permanent, full-text, on-line access for ANY user, web-wide, to digital scientific and scholarly material. Any user may link, read, download, store, print, and data mine the digital content of the article.

Open Science: A general term representing the application of various Open approaches (Open Source, Open Access, Open Data) to scientific endeavor, examples of which include the human genome project and the global positioning satellite system.

 And, expanding on the issue of “power to the people,” (an excellent article by Emanuele Quintarelli) we should probably examine folksonomies and taxonomies–a subject dear to my heart, as evidenced by the popularity of my metacrap post. 

According to Quintarelli, “Folksonomies are liberating, non-restrictive; bottom-up, not imposed; relational, not hierarchical.”

Disadvantages: lack of precision; no hierarchy; low findability quotient; tags do not scale well if looking for specific targeted items.

Advantages:  reflect the population’s conceptual model; match users’ needs and language; inclusive; facilitate discovery of information and serendipity; introduce long tail topics that are original, non-mainstream ideas that emerge from the interest of a small fraction of the population to the attention of the masses; forced to be dynamic due to mass amateurization on the web; make up for the fact that controlled vocabularies are not practically and economically extensible; widely accepted as better than nothing—low-investment bridge between personal classification and shared classification.