Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, September 30, 2005
  I am aghast
IT-Director.com: The Mining of the Invisible Web: "Google is creating a comprehensive bibliographic database that it calls WorldCat to search for and find information formerly only found in libraries. "

(pointed to by MO on Online Insider)
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
  Vale Dr. L. Anne Clyde
Vale Dr. L. Anne Clyde
Pointed to by TTW.
  The Chronicle: 9/30/2005: The Loneliness of a Conservative Librarian
Essay by David Durant, pointed out by KGS
One of the most disturbing aspects of the situation is the way in which the supposedly nonpolitical American Library Association has become a platform for left-wing partisanship. The ALA's Council, its elected governing body, is dominated by left-wing activists who recently passed a resolution calling for the United States to leave Iraq.

It is, of course, the right of the vast majority of my colleagues to hold positions I disagree with. But it's a very different matter when the major professional association in librarianship takes openly political stands on issues that have no direct bearing on the field.
Monday, September 26, 2005
  A gentle reminder...
A gentle reminder (hopefully based in research)…
Last week in my Communities of Practice class we talked about what makes online communities successful. According to Preece, online communities consist of people who interact socially, with a shared purpose, guided by policies (tacit or explicit), using computer systems (2000, 10). Farther on in the book she provides guidelines for sociability and usability and heuristics for evaluating online communities. One thing that struck me, though, is the importance of legitimate peripheral participants – frequently called lurkers. In some communities, the estimates are that more than 90% of the visitors to the site do not actively participate (the estimate for /. is 98%). When interviewed, some reasons given for this lack of participation include:
Yet online communities fail when people don’t participate. We asked the question: how many lurkers can an online community carry? As always, it depends.

So here’s where we get to the important part. Two online LIS communities are struggling for contributors, one much more than the other. Blake of LISnews.com just published a very nice list of 10 ways to make the internet a better place. I would like to add a little pep talk to that. (No scary talk here about free riding or the tragedy of the commons).

Librarians, information architects, and information science students/researchers/teachers are a well-informed, outspoken group. We are also very diverse in our own backgrounds as well as in our actual jobs and job settings. We belong to many different associations and rarely meet people very different from ourselves at conferences (CIL is perhaps an outlier). The online communities fostered by LISnews and the Carnival of the Infosciences are places we can share our commonalities, experiences, tips, and best practices. They are great resources for ideas (so what if that form of marketing isn’t normally used in an elementary school…). These communities need your contributions to be successful.

If you have a blog, submit a post. It doesn’t have to be a work of art – perhaps you can pose a question or describe a dilemma or problem you’re facing and get some good ideas. If you aren’t a blogger but you see something interesting (to you!) then submit it to either community (or both!). You can even be anonymous if you must, but it’s more fun to see your name in lights.

Your opinion and point of view are important. Browsing is not enough. Thank you and this concludes my pep talk.

updated for clarity 9/27
Preece, Jenny. 2000. Online communities : Designing usability, supporting sociability. New York: Wiley.
  The Industrial Librarian: Carnival of the Infosciences No 8
Check it out! We're still looking for more hosts and submissions.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
  Notes from Collaborative Expedition Workshop #44
Notes from Collaborative Expedition Workshop #44

I went to the Collaborative Expedition Workshop #44, Pioneering Governance Mechanisms for Collaboration: Toward High-Performance Mission Delivery in a Networked World at the National Science Foundation Friday morning. Very cool that they are having these open workshops and that my professor forwarded the announcement. I’ve been reading just about everything I can get my hands on from CREW, so when I heard Judy Olson was speaking, it was a done deal. Unfortunately, the way it was laid out really limited what Olson could present. She was very rushed and had too big of a scope.

The workshop started with an introduction by Susan Turnbull, complete with ppt. Sometimes, if you’re just introducing the session and the speakers, you can kind of skip the slideshow. Then Suzi Iacono described the structure of National Coordination Office for Networking and Information Technology Research and Development and everyone above and below them who has budget line items funding IT R&D.

Then we got to Olson’s talk. Now’s a good time to open and read her slides (rather large file) and review her handouts. She started out by talking about people throwing technologies at social problems (ah-ha!). Her group at UMich studies collaboratories both in the field and in the lab. Right now they’re doing an NSF-sponsored survey of a couple hundred collaboratories to find basic statistical information about them and to identify some to study in depth. The information is available on their page. She provides this taxonomy of collaboratories:
She then went through the TORC handout. The handout provides a laundry list of research findings on the nature of collaboratories and how to define success in collaboratories.

Instead of recapping the handout I’ll point out some interesting things that were mentioned by her or the audience as we went
As I mentioned, Olson was very rushed in her presentation. The next speaker was Aaron Budgor of this new non-profit OSD (office of the secretary of defense) sponsored organization. I’ll not name it or link to it but it should be easily findable. His organization is doing acquisition reform (which, incidentally, has been trendy ever since those pesky issues at Valley Forge). They’re trying to accelerate the 15 year development cycle for military hardware to solve problems faster. Supposedly they broker interactions between sponsors and experts. My one question was how they identified experts (prior to the sponsor just whipping out the credit card). I was hoping, though not expecting, a response that they did some scientometrics or analysis of the literature or something equally rigorous and sciencey… Turns out that he just calls his friends who provide him with some names and they develop a “tree structure.” Ah-ha. Isn’t this what a lot of the previous acquisition reform has worked to stop? But anyway… I’m sure I misunderstood him.
Updated: mostly for formatting.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
  OMG: Laurel Anne Clyde Died...
Announced on TTW by MS

A Sad Day in the Info Science Community

My colleague and cohort chum Joyce Valenza sent me a message this morning:

Dr. Laurel Anne Clyde, a professor of Social Science at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, Iceland, suffered a fatal heart attack on Sunday, September 18, 2005. I have read many of Dr. Clyde's scholarly papers, presentations and articles on social software. She authored Weblogs & libraries last year, the first scholarly work on the topic!

I had hoped she and I would meet at some future info science conference because I she was certainly a source of inspiration for my research and writing.

Here is her page at the University of Iceland:


I'll link to an obituary as soon as I find one.

Recall I posted earlier about her book on Weblogs in libraries. I, too, hoped to meet her at upcoming conferences.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
  Mikes Musing’s: Carnival of the InfoSciences #7
Is posted. Take a peek.
Monday, September 19, 2005
  NYT: One Find, Two Astronomers
Pointed out by the Quantum Pontif (free reg req. when it stops being avail there, use this citation to find it in a library database: Dennis Overbye, "One Find, Two Astronomers: An Ethical Brawl" NY Times 9/13/2005)

This is interesting, actually, because I was just reading in (Birnholtz 2005) about how there are real concerns with sharing data and that in some fields (obviously not astro!) it’s common to delay data until the institution/research group gathering the data has published. Apparently there’s also a deal whereby an outside researcher can see the data if they make the owning researchers co-authors. Sometimes, the funder “forces” data sharing. Hmm.

In an earlier work by Birnholtz, he listed four categories of sharing data: 1) no need to share – you have the data, know how, etc. 2) have data, need collaborator with know-how 3) have data not relevant to your interests, fine to give to someone who can use it 4) “d’oh” – data of interest but you embarrassingly miss running the important analysis (Birnholtz and Bietz 2003, 7). I think in the NYT case, they had the data, had run the analysis, but didn’t publish. Oops.

Birnholtz, Jeremy P. 2005. When do researchers collaborate? Toward a model of collaboration propensity in science and engineering research. Ph.D. diss., The University of Michigan.
Birnholtz, Jeremy P., Matthew J. Bietz. 2003. Data at work: Supporting sharing in science and engineering. In GROUP '03: Proceedings of the 2003 international ACM SIGGROUP conference on supporting group work339-348ACM Press.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
  More on IM at the reference desk
We’ve seen in example reference transactions that reference interviews appear to be very much truncated in VR via IM.  (See examples given by Aaron Schmidt various places).  Specifically, there appears to be less question negotiation.  In general, best practices dictated negotiating questions using a series of open questions, then closed questions, then restating the request and then following up to make sure the information provided completely meets the customer’s need.  The point of all of this grilling of the customer is to gain grounding – you really know what they need and you really know that what you gave them will do the trick.

The idea of message-media fit theory is that users will choose the media that provides the richness they need for a particular message.  IOW – stopping IM and picking up the phone or dropping by a local colleague’s office to clarify a complicated point.  While there’s been some disagreement about this recently, it almost seems to fit A.S.’s examples:  he’s answering more straight forward and directional questions, questions that need less clarification and less detailed information exchange.  If a purpose of IM in libraries is to show a human face or that reference staff are really available, then it works.  Anecdotally, a local county is finding that they refer even questions of medium complexity to e-mail or in-person (they are using a cooperative VR system).  

I read this today:
;“the capacity of a particular communication medium to support construction of common ground may be less a function of characteristics of the medium (e.g., visibility and etc.) – and more a function of communication strategies used within the medium” (Birnholtz et al, 2005)  

And I was thinking that besides the fact that we’re afraid we’ll scare the customer away… we still need to properly negotiate the question if we’re going to successfully use this service with people we don’t know.  The point is that we’re in an unequal power relationship:  we have the info the customer needs (customers aren’t known to appreciate the fact that we need to keep ref stats to justify our existence).  What’s preventing the IM reference staff from asking more questions?  Is it wanting to be cool?  Not enough time (or perception that if they’re not quick enough the customer will run away)?  As the customer vanishes into the ether, do we know with IM that we’ve successfully answered their question? (yes there are studies by Kaske, Hernon, and others on VR… but how about IM where stats aren’t uniformly kept, and questions are answered from the desk—not by a dedicated staffer.) Maybe we need to be more careful in setting expectations from IM reference (as some libraries have done)

Birnholtz, Jeremy P., Thomas A. Finholt, Daniel B. Horn, and Sung J. Bae. 2005. Grounding needs: Achieving common ground via lightweight chat in large, distributed, ad-hoc groups. In CHI '05: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems21-30ACM Press.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
  Mathemagenic: Public weblogs for (internal) knowledge management
Efimova describes why public employee blogs are good for internal (to the company) knowledge management. In the second post on this page, she talks about blogs as knowledge traces...

In her two posts today she makes some fabulous points:

She also suggests ways to point out external employee blogs in internal newsletters and in other materials. (done!)

Definitely some food for thought here. Thank goodness the European summer is over :)
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
  Google Blog Search
Pointed out by CH via e-mail (thanks C!)

If you've read my article in the July/Aug issue of Online, I gave some somewhat convoluted instructions on using the general Google to search blogs. I've yet to completely run this through its paces but I tried a couple of brand names and model numbers and it seemed to work pretty well. So, if you just need a quick fix to see major mentions of your brand in the blogosphere, you might try this. Also (and importantly), it has alert feeds! (yay!)

Update: Danny Sullivan does some analysis
Monday, September 12, 2005
  ...the thoughts are broken...: Carnival of the Infosciences #6
Is posted. Very nicely done. Pretty picture, too. I think I break the rules by having two posts featured....

Be sure to submit a post this week to Mike's Musings for Carnival #7.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
  Library School as trade school vs. library school as information research institution
The conflict or at least dichotomy:  Library School as trade school vs. Library School as information studies research institution.

My alma mater for both of my degrees is a state school.  As such, it provides trained school media specialists for the state as well as for adjoining states without local library schools.  It also provides most of the librarians for the public libraries in the state (at least 25 systems – 23 counties, city of Baltimore, town of Takoma Park).  Many attendees of the school are looking for very practical things.  They want to a) be certified – public library librarians require certification, too, b) be eligible for higher pay and promotions c) they need to effectively answer the information needs of their customers.  

In many cases they are willing, if not happy, to learn the general theories that are important to the field.  This is one way they become librarians – they learn the jargon of the profession and some of the theoretical underpinnings.  Then, when they are in the field, they do continuing education credits and go to conference to learn new applications, update practical knowledge, and solve management problems.  To this group, library school is a trade school – it prepares you for a career in librarianship.

For others, library school is pursued to understand the nature of information, its seeking, and its use.  They thrive on learning the underlying theories from psychology, sociology, education, anthropology, communications… and applying these theories to users from diverse groups.  Once they have enough background in the literature, they eagerly learn how to design studies and create frameworks to describe what they see.  (Of course, they may also be studying the organization of information that can tend to the philosophy or information retrieval that can tend toward computer science.)

This presents a problem for library schools – especially those in “research institutions.”  On one hand, they need to bring in grants and do serious research.  On the other hand, they need to train the practitioners.  It’s a professional school like medical school.  Most people who go through medical school go on to be practicing doctors – not researchers – and it’s the same way with library schools.  It used to be perfectly valid to be a teacher’s college – they trained teachers.  Now everyone has to be a research institution because that’s where the money is.

So my alma mater (and current school) is going through this realignment right now.  The new dean is not a librarian (although extremely well qualified to run the program and a very well-respected researcher).  They’ve closed the information science library and they’re trying to hire more researchers.  They’re reorienting the program to look more at e-gov’t and things like that when we’d been known in part for our study of children.

I think that the key is really balance (as with everything else in life!).  CLIS had become almost a trade school (there was some research going on but much of it was actually conducted in other departments by professors who have joint appointments) and now it looks like they’re trying to become an i-school (see this from the listserv).  I wonder how the training of librarians is done in other i-schools and about the overlap with computer science departments.  I guess we’ll see.
Friday, September 09, 2005
  More on social identities, search, and recommender systems
When I posted earlier about social identity theory, I didn’t really have the opportunity to explain more about what I meant or where I was trying to go. It’s one of those nailing-the-jello-to-the-wall things, though, so I think multiple feeble but well-meant attempts might work better than waiting and trying for one perfect effort. (BTW- any sociologists or psychologists in the house?) I browsed some online ref books and found that there are three major types of identity: personal, social, and collective. I am really talking about social – this is identifying as a mother or as a doctor or as an African-American… Also from (Snow, Oselin, and Corrigall-Brown 2005)
Identity salience refers to the relative importance or prominence of any single identity (e.g., mother, teacher, pastor, student) in relation to other identities, which have been conceptualized as being ordered in a salience hierarchy (Stryker 1980). The higher the placement of the identity within the hierarchy, the greater its prominence and the more likely it will be invoked. The relative salience or prominence of an identity is the result of a number of factors. These factors include the extent to which the individual's own view of self supports the identity, how much the individual's view is supported by relevant others, and the degree to which individuals have committed themselves to the particular content of the identity.

Individual identities also differ in their level of pervasiveness or comprehensiveness. Pervasiveness or comprehensiveness (Cornell and Hartman 1998) are parallel terms for the observation that any particular identity may vary considerably in terms of its situational relevance or reach and the corresponding degree to which it contributes to the flow of interaction in various domains of social life.
The Rogers and Lea article I mentioned last time basically says that there are two kinds of presence: social and physical. Physical is actually being there in corporeal terms. Social presence is more touchy-feely. It has to do with the interpersonal connections (and here I get hung up on the definition so will leave incomplete). Over time, online communities have been designed more and more to simulate physical presence by adding avatars that can move around, etc. Facts about your personal identity and social identity are known by your interactions and your choice of avatar online – especially if your picture is posted with your actual name. So the article has a little study that says that all this information causes personal identity to be salient and when you want good team work, team identity needs to be salient. IOW – you don’t want people working together to necessarily be identifying as individuals but as members of a team or group. The suggestion is that less informative online communities work better, at least at first, to foster team identity.

Anyway this is all very intriguing but an aside. When people go into an online store they might go with any of their social identities salient. Last time they might have bought books for an MBA class, but this time they need to know how to train their puppy. Later they’ll want some recipes for dinner and more information on a medical condition. Then they buy a gift for their cousin who does car repair… So what kind of recommendations can that system make? In online searching you can (somewhat) select the domain of inquiry by adding terms. For example, in engineering, you can put flutter in… but you’ll need to put in bridges so you don’t get butterflies or airplanes. You’re looking for flutter, but you add the term to specify domain – even if “bridge” doesn’t necessarily need to appear. You might, in fact, miss some good stuff on the internet this way. If you have a very specific set of documents your searching through, you may not have to add the extra term because everything in the database is in that domain (not flutter in an engineering database, though, because there are at least two important meanings). This is one of the reasons that verticals and paid A&I databases are useful. See for example Compendex via EV2 (not affiliated) – that’s how I learned about flutter, but I was able to pick either CV or a class code and get to the domain I wanted with like 2 clicks.

What if Amazon recommendations were like macro recordings in Office products… turn them on, give them names, invoke them… I imagine there’s some categorization that happens in the recommendations, but what if the user could select which identity today. It’s not really a great idea to do multiple logins. I would also have a stealth mode where it didn’t do any recommendations or remember your searches. So if you’re a selector in a library for math and computer science… sometimes the same words are used, but different books will be appropriate… just hit the button for CS mode and away you go.

Updated for format only, 9/10, but there's a your instead of a you're in here somewhere that I can't find now!

Reference List
Rogers, P and M Lea. 2005. Social presence in distributed group environments: the role of social identity. Behaviour and Information Technology 24, no. 2 (March-April) : 151-158.
Snow, David, Sharon Oselin, and Catherine Corrigall-Brown. 1 January 2005. A-M: Identity. Encyclopedia of Social Theory 0001: 390-3.
Monday, September 05, 2005
  Carnival of the Infosciences #5
Welcome to the 5th edition and the beginning of the second month of the Carnival of the Infosciences.

Unfortunately, the main thing across the blogosphere this week has been the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. So many bloggers have posted requests for help and links to places providing more information and coverage. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those impacted.

Another meme about the 'sphere was the 3108 Day -- it's supposed to look like blog -- this was an opportunity to introduce 5 blogs of interest. You can look here or here in Technorati to get some great recommendations.

Joy Weese Moll of Wanderings of a Student Librarian posted on how library collection management is like emptying a house.

Mark Lindner of ...the thoughts are broken... posted an extended summary and discussion of the 1996 Library Trends article from his advisor, Carole Palmer, on "'boundary' work by interdisciplinary scientists, their information needs, and the impact on librarians."

Von Totanes of Filipino Librarian made some very interesting observations about the nature of leadership in Filipino libraries and library associations. While his post is mainly concerned with the situation in his country, I'm sure readers from all over will recognize a lot. I've worked in very hierarchical organizations heavy with individual leaders (obviously non-library) and I've recently been involved with associations in which the members, like he mentions, "just take turns at the leadership positions" or try to make all decisions by committee or concensus. Is there a leadership vacuum in the library world? Do we need to spend more time in library schools and in associations building leaders instead of just teaching management? hmmm.

Editor's Picks
Randy over at STLQ posted a review of MacLeod, Roderick A, and Jim Corlett, eds. 2005. Information Sources in Engineering. 4th ed. München: KG Saur. 'Tis the season for guides to sources in the sci/tech area with recent publications of two great math resource books, the new Walford, and and upcoming engineering book from Dekker. Save your pennies and Randy's review to see what you should get for your library.

Chris Sherman posted a series of articles this week describing what RSS feeds are, how to find them, how to read them, etc, on the Search Engine Watch Blog.

JohnT of Library Clips posts a great summary of the ways to search the internet ("Directory vs. PageRank vs. clustering vs. social search vs. personalised search vs. human-indexed web vs. social tags vs. computer processed tags vs. rss").

Amanda Robertson of Data Obsessed posted a summary of a document by Vivisimo's Raul Valdes-Perez on the changing role of corporate librarians. (btw- I'm on record hating this point of view!)

Gary Price points to an interesting post by Jim Hedger on Search Engine Journal about school kids and the major web search engines.

The Krafty Librarian posts information on podcasts for medical libraries.

Steven Cohen of Library Stuff did a small roundup of online collection management/home book collection cataloging tools.

Updated: 9/5 to add an editorial pick. I'm stopping now!

Next week carnival #6 will be hosted by Mark Lindner at ...the thoughts are broken... . Please submit your posts via e-mail to mark dot lindner at insightbb dot com.

Here are the previous editions:
08 August 2005: Carnival of the Infosciences #1
15 August 2005: Carnival of the Infosciences #2
22 August 2005: Carnival of the Infosciences #3
30 August 2005: Carnival of the Infosciences #4
Saturday, September 03, 2005
  Eureka – Social Identity Theory!
Eureka – Social Identity Theory!
Ah-ha.  So all along I’ve been complaining that the personalization tools and portal tools don’t understand that I have multiple personalities online.  I’ve had a very difficult time actually explaining what I meant by multiple personalities since, in fact, I have no psychology training.  I’ve given examples of one time searching for knitting things, one time searching for organizational learning, and another time searching for characterization of aerosols using lidar backscatter.  If a system tried to refine my search using machine learning, but I have multiple and very diverse goals when I search online, then I would assume I pretty much would get garbage.  (See Spink, Amanda. 2004. Multitasking information behavior and information task switching: an exploratory study. Journal of Documentation 60, no. 4: 336-351 for a description of people doing this very thing in a public library setting, if I remember correctly)

Anyway, so I’m sitting here reading Rogers, P and M Lea. 2005. Social presence in distributed group environments: the role of social identity. Behaviour and Information Technology 24, no. 2 (March-April) : 151-158.  It turns out that I’m not talking about multiple personalities, I’m (maybe) talking about multiple social identities!  On page 152 they say
According to this theoretical perspective, individuals have multiple layers of ‘self’, including not only a personal identity, but also a range of possible social identities. Moreover, each social identity provides information about the social group, what is typical for that group and the behavioural norms associated with it. For example, various characteristics are associated with groups such as sports teams, work groups and gender affiliation. Each group situation presents a different social identity with associated norms and at any one time either a particular social identity or the personal identity can be salient.
Ah-ha!  So I looked in a couple of databases for social identity AND (web searching or internet searching or information seeking or …) no luck so far.  I better get back to my reading.  Food for thought, though.
Friday, September 02, 2005
  Only today, tomorrow and Sunday to forward your post!
I'm still looking for contributions to the Carnival... Please send them on to cpikas at gmail dot com!

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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

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