Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Library impact on student attainment

I "stumbled upon" the Library Impact Data Project site as I was struggling to find research that determined the correlation of journal usage data from the OpenURL service to COUNTER data from the publisher (still haven't found that).  The preliminary data from this study at UK institutions is quite interesting and definitive - the distinctions of library usage across levels of degree honors is clear.


Here is a presentation from their first phase, which looked at in-house and print-resource usage:

View more PowerPoint from daveyp

I would like to explore this more fully....For those who have been keeping up with this, what is your opinion of the research and results?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscars 2012: 'Fantastic Flying Books' wins for animated short film

Ranganathan's 5 Laws of Library Science in animated action:
1. Books are for use [the old, dying book only came to life when it was read]
2. Every reader his book, and
3. Every book its reader, and
4. Save the time of the reader [when Morris matches books with readers]
5. The library is a growing organisim [well, just watch it, you'll see...]

Oscars 2012: 'Fantastic Flying Books' wins for animated short film:

“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” a 15-minute film about a man who cares for a library of lively books, won the Academy Award for animated short film on Sunday night.

More at L.A. Times

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Invisibility" of libraries - good, bad or indifferent?

This item from a digital humanities blog was featured in LISNews.  Although I find his initial analogy of how libraries end up being used by members in unexpected ways a bit off (it's only being used as a backdrop - the library's resources itself are not used), I am an advocate of enabling others to repurpose the resources of the library.

The central question addressed in this short post is, "How can librarians at medium-sized or even small universities library help the digital humanities?"  Of course, because this is a digital humanities blog, the focus is clearly on the library being the helper (and not the other way around), but then we librarians tend to view ourselves as facilitators anyhow.

I'm currently reading Ranganathan's groundbreaking work on The Five Laws of Librarianship. Although exposed to the laws in library school, I had never had the pleasure to research in-depth.  The ideas of this blog post, of course, are a clear expression of that First Law: Books are for Use.  Even by the second edition of the work, the idea of "book" was being expanded beyond the bound monograph into the notion of "Documentation", so it is not a far leap to extend the law to digital humanities.

Tom Scheinfeldt, the owner of this blog, Found History, provides a few examples of this idea of enabling users to repurpose the libraries resources, which he describes as making the library's digital collections "invisible" to users:
  • Enabling more effective search mechanisms - effectively reversing the goals of most Web sites and measuring how quickly people find things.
  • Opening up the collections to APIs and third-party mashups - exposing our resources to the world
  • Using social media to effectively re-distribute the content of our digital resources 
The specific suggestions listed in this piece were actually attributed to Wally Grotophorst, Associate University Librarian for Digital Programs and Systems at George Mason University (the author's institution) from his blog posting, What Happens To The Mid-Major Library?
  • Focus on special collections 
  • Start supporting data-driven research 
  • Start supporting new modes of scholarly communication—financially, technically, and institutionally
I'm proud that the University of North Texas Libraries is putting these recommendations to task:

  • The Digital Projects Unit has carefully examined the UNT Libraries' special collections and has a planned process for digitizing them.
  • The 3rd Annual Open Source Symposium, scheduled for May, will focus on making research data accessible.
  • The Libraries have worked collaboratively with IS faculty, Dr. William Moen, to enable the development and ultimately approval of a university-wide Open Access mandate, which is but a first step in supporting alternative modes of scholarly communication.

Open Access Symposium at UNT

2012 UNT Symposium on Open Access

"Timely attention to digital research data sharing and management is fundamental to supporting U.S. science and engineering in the twenty-first century." -National Science Board, 2011 Report on Digital Research Data Sharing and Management.
UNT's Third Annual Symposium on Open Access will be held on May 21st, 2012 at the University of North Texas Gateway Center, Denton, TX
This year's conference will bring together key stakeholders from industry, academic research, funding agencies, and publishing to explore the implications of emerging trends in research data access, preservation, and management.  Presenters (see below) will explore the emerging landscape of research data management and strategies for ensuring that publicly funded research remain openly accessible to the public. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What you can't do with e-books

This was a cute posting  on 8 Unexpected Downsides of the Switch to E-Books -

8. You can't hide a gun in a Kindle.
7. Physical books to do physical things (like holding up a bed or table)
6. No more flipbooks and mustaches (the loss of the former could be devastating for budding animators like my niece)

Well, you get the gist.  "Thumb through" this item for more of what we will loose with the demise of print books.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ARL data on library expenditures

Hmmm, this is depressing....
From ARL
Although Canadian libraries appear to be more funded by the universities, they, too, were not immune from this downward trend:
From ARL
ARL made the data available on their site.  It will be interesting to combine this will enrollment and inflation data to demonstrate the real loss of purchasing power of libraries over time.  Next, it would be important to compare this trend with real outcome data, but that's another post...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Interpreting trends in circulation

I noticed this post in the ACRL Tech Connect on trends in circulation statistics.  Will Kurt demonstrates that the rate of circulation per student (fig. 2) enrolled in colleges and universities is decreasing at a much greater rate than overall circulation (fig. 1):
Figure 1
Figure 2

He does qualify the use of past trends to predict future trends with the comic below, and suggesting that the trend would flatten out eventually before reaching zero.  But he does predict that the circulation rate could reach as low as 1.1 items per user by 2020.  That's only 8 years away...

I've been pretty skeptical of statistical models predicting future trends - these trends are rarely as linear in reality than the models that are used.  But you gotta wonder...

Kurt presents arguments against the relatively obvious explanations of the shift from print to digital media - first, circulation data does not usually include print journals, so the shift to online journals is irrelevant; furthermore, the shift to electronic books post-dates the decline in the circulation rate by at least a decade.  Instead, Kurt explains the trend by the rise in the Internet itself, which has changed library user behavior such that people don't need to come to the library to find out facts.

This, I think, is a very limited view of the use of books.  Fact-finding is really more the realm of reference works, which include dictionaries, encyclopedias and directories.  True, some of this realm has been overtaken by the Internet, but only the most superficial kind of information.  That is why libraries continue to purchase such resources.  A comment made to this posting suggests that there may be greater in-house use, which conflicts with Kurt's explanation.  And what about the trend of making reference resources available online, albeit through library subscriptions?  But, I wonder how much book circulation was for the purpose of fact-finding, especially at academic libraries.  It would be interesting to break down the circulation statistics by type of book (although it wouldn't be easy).

There is no doubt library usage is changing - foot-traffic is up at many libraries, but circulation continues to drop.  There is also no doubt that the shift from print to digital is driving this change - whether the information is found in Wikipedia or an online reference resource.  Does this necessarily mean that circulation of books will drop to 1 book per student?  If so, what does that mean for libraries?  Should librarians intervene?  If so, how?

Here are some questions that I'd like answered:

  1. For what purposes were books used prior to 1990's and the Internet?
  2. For what purposes are books used today?
  3. How did the circulation rates vary by topic and type of book prior to the Internet?
  4. What are the current trends and variations in circulation today?
  5. Is in-house use following the same trends?
  6. Have assignments and papers changed in terms of references (number, kind of source [book, journal, reference book, etc.], recency, etc.) used over time?

Regardless of explanations, I found the posting to be quite interesting and have, of course, subscribed to the source of the data - Library Data.  Actually, Will Kurt's site has inspired me to similarly look at data myself on a regular basis - at least weekly - to discover trends, check claims, and become familiar with the whole of librarianship against which to compare ourselves.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

More on Open Access

Open Access and Fair Use have been in the news lately, library- and non-library, local and global, scholarly and popular:

  • Code of Best Practices for Fair Use - published by the ARL, provides some guidelines for libraries to become essentially consultants to the faculty on the best ways to use copyrighted resources in their teaching and research while complying with the law.
  • Nine academic, library and research organizations combine their voices against the Research Works Act, sending a letter to the committee.
  • Academics have started their own boycott of Elsevier, vowing not to participate in the effective monopoly of scientific publication.  Alas, we've seen movements like this before with little resulting change.
  • The University of North Texas officially implemented an Open Access policy, effectively mandating that articles and presentations be archived in its Scholarly Works Repository.  
  • Also at UNT, the 3rd annual Symposium on Open Access is scheduled for March 21, 2012.
It will be interesting to see how things change, and how it will impact the way we share knowledge and ideas.