This week the Society for Disability Studies (the premier DS organization internationally), is meeting here in the Twin Cities!

I was honored to be selected as one of the workshop leaders and wanted to share my workshop handouts with others.

In regular typeface: herther_m5G.pdf

In 24-point typeface: herther_m5G.24pt.pdf

In the past, libraries - and other institutions - had limited information on which to base decisions about their services, collections and users. Today, things have changed. A week ago, NISO and NASIG - two standards/best practices groups for information professionals - held a webinair in which they looked at issues and best practices as well as evolving standards. I was asked to write up a brief overview of the session for Information Today's NewsBreaks and you might want to give it a look.
In a time of declining budget, inflated pricing for information content and evolving information needs and growing knowledge bases, these issues are critical for any institution: How can we best use our limited budgets to serve critical needs of our users and institutions?

COUNTER is one wonderful set of standards helping to give better data for decision making - however, issues of value/worth/mission remain.

Believe me, if you have ideas on this, information professionals would love to hear from you!

Take a look at the article if this is a new issue to you. Hopefully these efforts will help to better allocate limited funds to the most critical needs - for today (Just in Time) as well as for the future.

Finding new ways to publish or distribute ebooks is an issue of major concern for authors - many of whom just self-publish today - bookstores/online vendors and libraries. Scribd and Smashwords are two such companies, hoping to come up with new schemes that bring publishing and distribution into the 21st century.

As I note in this article written for the news blog NewsBreaks:
"Public libraries in Colorado and Texas are exploring potential roles as book publishers themselves. By working directly with authors, the middle men would be cut out from the process, giving libraries greater control and flexibility when it comes to copyright and title-ownership issues. The Douglas County Libraries system in Colorado not only broke new ground with its ebook publishing program, but it has become a model program and strong proponent for the field. "I'm kind of wandering around as an evangelist saying we have two choices: Either we can be marginalized by people trying to lock us out of the market or we can say we don't want to hang out on the fringe of the revolution, we want to be at the heart of it," library director Jamie LaRue said at last year's annual conference of the Texas Library Association."

Jamie just retired, but his example and spirit are alive in many libraries today as new opportunities arise for libraries to take a more central position in the identification, authorship, publishing and access to newly created information. And, for more information on what that might involve, check out the work of the newly established Library Publishing Coalition. Their directory of library efforts in this area might just surprise you! Libraries of the future are a far cry from the stereotypes of the past!

You may be surprised, but hopefully you will also be inspired!

Today there is more information being published than ever before, more researchers making discoveries by the day that impact professionals in every area across the globe. So, how can anyone keep up with all of the research, new discoveries, new researchers in their fields? Research portals are seen as one essential element. Here at the University of Minnesota, we use a version of Elsevier's SciVal Scopus as our experts system for identifying researchers and their work.

Recently KNODE and Wiley set out to collaborate on what they believe will be the next-generation in these types of systems. I was asked to write a brief news piece on this for the news blog NewsBreaks. You might want to give it a look.

Yes, the future of the Internet is clearly at stake this Spring and here is where it all began. Due to a glitch in FCC authority (which clearly needs to be fixed), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the authority over broadband providers in its provision of internet access and traffic "control" as it has with ISPs.

This led to the decision last month by the FCC that creates, in effect, a two-tiered internet - with those who can pay getting fast-lane access and the rest a slower lane of traffic. I was asked to cover this for a news blog article for Information Today and gladly did so.

This is something that everyone concerned with information access, freedom of information and net neutrality needs to follow. I know that I will.

Have you heard the phrase "Text & Data Mining," also referred to by the term TDM? Here in the University Libraries we now have two major efforts to bring state-of-the-art analysis tools and techniques to the study of all types of research materials - from the works of Shakespeare to mapping social trends and more. The USpatial project involves many departments here on campus and focuses on making more tools available to allow for analysis in ways not possible before today's technologies. the DASH project - Digital Arts, Science + Humanities - "emerging digital tools and methodologies for scholarly, pedagogical, and artistic projects."

One essential ingredient to this type of research is the availability of text to mine for information and facts. Elsevier, one of the largest (and private) academic publishers has been a tough nut to crack for getting data; however, they now have new terms and this article that I wrote for Information Today's NewsBreaks gives you an overview of the new stipulations required if you would want to mine the texts of articles from their proprietary archives.

SO... you work for a university and do research on the clock. You write it up and the for-profit journal gets to assert ownership of your works and makes other researchers have to go through bizarre processes in order to use the articles...........Libraries are working hard with our academic partners to change this broken paradigm and free information from the DRM-crazed private sector. But, that's another story.

Book publishing has been around for hundreds of years, and the basic process, functionality and appearance hasn't really changed that radically. So, why is it so hard to integrate and innovate the printed page but we can innovate everything else with relative ease? And for a decent profit as well.

Take for example the automobile. They've been around for little over a hundred years, a comparative newbie in the world of innovation. Yet the industry has found ways (some more successful than others) to integrate technological innovations into virtually every aspect of the user experience:

  • Ford, Subaru, Acura, Mercedes and Volvo now have systems th\at monitor the traffic ahead so they can activate the brakes when they sense other cars becoming too close - alerting the drives with audible cues, visual warnings - and GM even uses vibration pulses to really get your attention. Such cues are also in many cars as lane departure systems.
  • If you flunked parallel parking in your driver's exam, don't worry, Ford, Mercedes, ford and others have sensors that will take over for you if you aren't doing so well on your own.
  • Need to pay a toll? Ford now has Parkmobile, a voice-activated Sync app, will handle the details for you and even ping you 15 minutes before your time is up, to save you a parking fine.
  • Honda's Odyssey Touring van actually has a built-in vacuum system so you don't have to lug your vacuum cleaner out to the driveway to clean your car.
  • Apps in many popular American models now allow you to check your GPS, make reservations for supper, check availability of tickets for a play or movie, check your text messages or check around for the best deal on gasoline - all while you drive.

Yet, book publishers can't figure out how to allow readers acceptable access to printed text (let alone all of the bells and whistles possible with today's technologies)? Is DRM - digital rights management - really that scary? That insurmountable?

Netflix has given us a workable model for video; iTunes for music.........when will we finally see some resolution on books?

Gale Announces New Initiatives

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Have you noticed how hard it is for publishers of books to embrace technological change? It makes life very difficult for libraries, readers, academe, K-12, bookstores, book jobbers, aggregators and vendors to maintain their current roles in information provision, let alone inovate themselves.

I was asked to cover the recent new programs announced by Gale Research (a major provider of information products and services to libraries and education) and the article on this arrangement is available here, as published as the news blog NewsBreaks.

Gale has made specific arrangements with two of the largest STEM publishers, Springer and Elsevier, to bring "expanded product and services initiatives, [a] new publishing program and the addition of industry-leading STEM content from partners." According to the release, the updated strategies and partnerships "usher in a new era of resource development that will help libraries and their users thrive in today's education landscape."

It should be interesting to see how this alliance works out - for the companies as well as for readers/learners.

I was asked to cover a special hearing of the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS) in Washington D.C. on April 17th; which I did and reported in a news posting last week. However, it was interesting that although Tom Wheeler (FCC chair) had a lot to say about the value of libraries, information and neutrality - just a few days later he announced plans to allow for the development of a tiered structure for the future web that will allow those that can pay to get higher-speeds.

An interesting milestone in the history of the web, to say the least.....does this, as many believe, represent the beginnings of the end of true net neutrality? Another ominous event was Vladimir Putin's assertion that the internet is some type of CIA project - inferring that other countries need to assert their own control to wrest it from US-control.

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Are you getting sick and tired of the PDF as a reading format for ebooks? Join the crowd.

So, why has this boring yet efficient format continued to vex users and clog our collections of ejournals and ebooks? Change is coming, however, PDF continues to meet some rather basic needs that will have to be worked into the design of future academic products. Academics like having page numbers, having a peer-review piece set in 'stone' of some type so that changes cannot be slipped in - think of all of the hacking of Wikipedia, for example.

Against the Grain recently asked me to figure out when we might see the demise of the PDF for a news piece and the resulting article is available here.

The answer would appear to be don't hold your breath, we have a long way to go finding ways to incorporate innovation, multimedia, interactivity and others wonderful options with a need for stability, integrity and archival access. Will the PDF ever completely go away? I doubt it, we will always have some around to support in legacy systems.

However....innovation is coming, it may just take awhile to really take hold in the research sector. Check out the article and let me know what you think!

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