February 14, 2006

Water off in KSL tonight

Due to work that the city of Cleveland is doing on the water mains running up Euclid Avenue, the water will be shut off in Kelvin Smith Library tonight (Tuesday 2/14) beginning at 10:00 PM for about 5 hours. There will be no water in the building for restrooms or water fountains. The Thwing Center will be kept open until 2:00 AM to provide restroom facilities.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause; however, we did not have any choice about the situation.

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February 02, 2006

Ground Hog Day 2006

Arelene & Steve Groundhog Day

Some people celebrate Halloween; other people celebrate Christmas. Not everyone celebrates Ground Hog Day. But KSL Head of Acquisitions and Humanities Collection Manager Arlene Sievers-Hill and her husband Steve Hill do. In celebration of the day, they made an appearance at KSL in their matching ground hog hats. Many on the staff agreed that the caps were quite fetching. (For the humor-impaired: No ground hogs were harmed in the creation of this apparel.)

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June 24, 2005

New ALA report: Nearly all libraries offer free internet access

The American Library Association has released a new report, reported in today's New York Times, that finds that 98.9% of all libraries offer free internet access to their users.

The study also reported that almost 40 percent of public libraries filter public Internet access to prevent minors from gaining access to sexually related materials.

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May 16, 2005

What? No books?

Saturday's New York Times featured an article about the trend in libraries to devote space and staff energy to a variety of technological services that were previously either unavailable in libraries or relegated to "computer labs" that provided the hardware and software but not much in the way of service.

Libraries have discovered the need to assist students and faculty in the teaching process and the use of technology in their research and learning. Libraries are becoming places for students, faculty and staff to collaborate in the teaching and learning process.

Kelvin Smith Library has been in the planning of such innovative services for more than a year now, and the Freedman multimedia center in KSL will soon open as the first phase of a larger "information commons" plan for KSL that will fully integrate librarians, technology staff, and instructional technology staff into a much more unified whole. The information commons (which will include a greatly re-vamped circulation and reference service desk) will be phased in over the next several years as funding becomes available to make the numerous physical changes that are required.

Stay tuned for much more information about these important new services.

P.S. For those our there in Readerland who fear they have become Luddites: do not be afraid. Books and printed journals are not going away from Kelvin Smith Library anytime in the far foreseeable future.

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April 13, 2005

CNI Briefing Session: OhioView and Remotely Sensed Imagery

John Millard, Digital Services Librarian from Miami University of Ohio, gave a project briefing on the collection of satellite imagery that has been created as part of the OhioView project. There is an explosion of interest in this satellite imagery due to growing awareness of the utility of the data in agriculture, cartography, education, forestry, geology, and urban planning.

OhioView is collaborating directly with research faculty at multiple institutions to build and manage a shared collection. The facilities of OhioLINK and the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland are used for storage and display of the vast amounts of data. This consortium has been active for about ten years. Mr. Millard explored the next steps, particularly as related to funding the ongoing project, and aspects of the project related to the aging of the LANDSAT satellites that collect the data.

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CNI briefing session: Shibboleth and InCommon

Steven Carmody, "Mr. Shibboleth Of All", gave a project briefing on recent activities with Shibboleth, an inter-institutional approach to authentication and resource sharing that is beginning to replace IP address authentication for sharing electronic library resources, especially those licensed from commercial publishers. (I note that Case has a nascent Shibboleth pilot project.) Mr. Carmody pointed out that Shibboleth is now poised for wide-scale adoption. NSF will adopt Shibboleth for its Fastlane service on July 30 as part of the US Government's e-authentication initiative. A number of library vendors with whom we do business have already implemented Shibboleth. These include EBSCO, Elsevier, OCLC, JSTOR, and ProQuest. OhioLINK is beginning a pilot project, of which Case is a part.

What this means to the end-user is that in most cases a login (your Case ID and password) will be required to use library resources to their fullest level. Some lower level of service might be available through IP address authentication. (These policy issues have not yet been determined for Case.) There are several issues that are raised for libraries, the most significant of which is library walk-in visitors. Mr. Carmody said, "We have a way to handle that;" however, he did not elaborate.

The bottom line is that vendors of online electronic resources for libraries are becoming much more aggressive about enforcing their licensing agreements and the days of "everybody can use it for free" may be drawing to a close.

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CNI briefing session: Orphan Works

One of the most interesting CNI sessions was given by Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights at the U.S. Copyright Office. The Copyright Office is examining the issues raised by "orphan works," i.e., copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or impossible to locate. This comes into play when someone is seeking copyright permission to reproduce, digitize, or use a copyrighted work in some other way. Concerns have been raised that the uncertainly about ownership may needless discourage subsequent creators from using such works in new works. Libraries certainly want to make use of such works for digitization; other examples (even more difficult than textual materials) include photographs, documentary films, early musical recordings. Photographic images are particularly problematic, since often there is no attribution of ownership or creation on the item itself, so there is no way to track down the copyright owner.

Ms. Peters stated that all parties concerned--publishers, the copyright office, the Congress, scholars, libraries--acknowledge that there is a serious problem. (It is probably one of the few times that such a diverse group has been in agreement about anything related to copyright.) The Copyright Office is in the midst of a study regarding orphan works, and comments from the public are solicited. After the time of comment is completed the Copyright Office will compile recommendations about potential legislative, regulatory or other solutions.

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Two CNI project briefings

On Monday, April 4, at the CNI meeting after the opening plenary session I attended two small group "project briefings" where libraries and other organizations give reports on specific activities.

The first was about a project Stanford University Library is doing with the software developer Grokker. Stanford has been collaborating with Grokker to develop the software's federated searching capabilities and the presentation of search results, which purports to return search results in a way that is more useful and much easier to navigate than the usual list format. Grokker groups results topically and presents them in an interactive visual map. Stanford has done a fair amount of marketing of the Grokker project on their campus. It is clearly still in the realm of research project, although it was possible to see the potential, especially for students who think more visually than verbally.

The second session of the afternoon that I attended (out of a choice of 7 or 8 possibilities) was devoted to a project that the library of the University of Minnesota has started to provide personal, class-related and departmental blogs for the students, faculty and staff of the university. Anyone with a university network ID and password can create a library-hosted blog. They are using the Movable Type platform, as is Case. They have not yet, however, upgraded to the version 3 of Movable Type that Case uses.

Several interesting facts:

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March 23, 2005

A lesson on why it sometimes pays to keep one's mouth shut

In a stunning example of why managers should not offer commentary on personnel matters, the Associated Press today reports the case of a Harvard University librarian who is suing the university, claiming that she has been repeatedly rejected for promotion because she is black and is perceived as just a "pretty girl" whose attire was too "sexy." The librarian, Desiree Goodwin, said that she had been rejected for 16 jobs at Harvard since 1999, when she received a master's degree in library science. (The implication in the short AP story is that Ms. Goodwin was working in a non-professional staff position at Harvard, although it is not specific.) Apparently in late 2001 Ms. Goodwin's supervisor told her that she would never be promoted because she was seen "merely as a pretty girl who wore sexy outfits, low-cut blouses and tight pants."

If the supervisor did as Ms. Goodwin alleges--the case is currently at the beginning a jury trial, which means that Harvard has not been able to settle with Ms. Goodwin--it is a textbook case of how not to behave as a supervisor. It has potential racial and sexual discrimination written all over it. (In fairness, there are always at least two sides of stories such as these, so we must wait for the court's decision to know more.) Those sorts of comments should presumably not even be offered to anyone else. My sympathies to that personnel administrator, but it sounds like there is a lot of room for managerial education at that institution. Case's HR Department has historically been proactive about providing training to supervisors through the frequent supervisory briefing sessions in order to avoid these kinds of situations. But, still, it takes come common sense--when a supervisor considers hiring or promotion, one does not make derogatory comments about attire, race, religion, personal appearance, marriage status. Stick to the facts of qualifications.

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