Libraries are for Use

Demonstrating the value of librarianship

Notes from Cowtown: NASIG 2014 – Saturday

This continues my notes from the North American Serials Interest Group’s 2014 conference, which was in Fort Worth.  I actually think that downtown Ft. Worth is nicer than downtown Dallas.  This may be because I rarely go there and it’s usually quite new to me.  Downtown Dallas is old hat with few pleasant surprises.  It also seems more hum-drum and down-to-business.

Getting Lost

In my first post about NASIG, I had neglected to mention that I had actually gotten lost on the way in.  Yes, lost in Fort Worth.  This was due to a combination of over- and under-confidence in my own memory and sense of direction.  The last time I was in Cowtown was for TLA over a year ago, but I thought I had a pretty good memory of the route to take.  Then I doubted myself when I ended up going south on Interstate 820 (the main loop around town) (“I don’t remember going this way…”).  Rather than stay where I was, I jumped off the highway, wholeheartedly believing that State Highway 183 was what I needed to get directly into downtown.  It felt right, until the signs for 183 directed me right, which felt like north, away from where I thought I was going.  Yes, indeed, I ended up crossing IH 35W (that goes north & south), and I was heading away from downtown (“yep, there it was…downtown”).  Yes, GPS would have been nice, but then I found Main Street. You just can’t go wrong getting on Main Street.  Needless to say, I did not get lost on Saturday.

Vision Speaker: From a System of Journals to a Web of Objects, Herbert Van de Sompel

I was very interested in hearing the Vision Speaker for today, Herbert Van de Sompel.  I remember first hearing him at a NISO meeting in Dallas way back in 2007, but I had already been following his work on MESUR.  So I was interested in “catching up” with his work.  MESUR itself has become the basis of altmetrics, in that it measures usage at the article level, rather than the journal level.  He listed his other projects, notably Hiberlink and Memento.  These are Web archiving infrastructures, which apparently is the focus of his efforts nowadays.  However, it is more than just saving files.  He is concerned about the long-term viability of scholarly communication on the Web, and key to this problem is that “increasing accessibility of machines leads to better human tools.”  So his work is not unlike the Linked Data approaches that Richard Wallis & OCLC are pursuing – the former with linking and archiving, and the latter with metadata.

Herbert showed how his work and projects are supporting the machine-to-machine communication of the scholarly communication functions on the web:

  • Registration
  • Certification
  • Awareness
  • Archiving – Hiberlink
  • Rewarding – Mesur

Herbert noted that libraries are central to the long-term accessibility of the paper-based scholarly record, but have been left out of the web-based records.  (Note to self: Can we recover this?  Should we recover this?) While he is developing the infrastructure for tracking changes (e.g. links, versions, etc.), there are still too few scholarly communications archives – and those that do exist (to reiterate Katherine’s comment from Friday), are the easy ones and the ones least at risk of changing or disappearing.  He mentions Keepers Registry of journal archives.  In particularly, we have very poor archives of the non-document-based Web objects (e.g. software, videos, data, etc.), because nobody has taken up the notion of guardianship.  Herbert also noted “Reference Rot” – a combination of “link rot” and changes to the the content (e.g. of wikis, Web sites, even journal articles).  Here he showed a graph illustrating the dramatic increase in the number of links to things that are not journal articles, along with a 20%/year link rot rate.

In summary, Herbert Van de Sompel is developing solutions and advocating for a pro-active web archiving approach, suggesting that we start with our own institutional web sites.

Concurrent Session 1: Actions & Updates on the Standards & Best Practices Front, Laurie Kaplan (ProQuest) and Nettie Lagace (NISO) 

I really needed to catch up on the standards coming out of NISO.  I used to pay particular attention to these when I was more involved on the back end.  Now that I’m more tangentially involved between front- and back-ends, I’ve let this slip off my radar.  What was particularly enlightening was learning the difference between a “standard” and a “best practice”.  The former is developed using a more formal process with more people, more comments, and more time.  The result is enforceable and fixed, with changes following a recursive procedure.  The standards tend to cover issues that have been well-researched and address problems already identified. While standards are the business suits, best practices are  business casual (my analogy, not theirs).  They tend to cover emerging issues and technologies.  The time to development is quicker, involves fewer people and is more like a “gentleman’s agreement”.  The result is, of course, not enforceable and more fluid.  Participants can implement all or parts or none.  But at the very least, there is something that some people agreed to do the same way.  After learning this difference, the presenters discussed four key best practices: KBART, PIE-J, ODI and OAMI.

  • KBART: Knowledge Bases And Related Tools
    • These are guidelines aimed at the developers & users of the OpenURL databases (e.g. link resolvers). These address problems with the KB’s, notably wrong information, outdated information, etc.
    • KBART is a metadata exchange format, which explicitly lists names and definitions of metadata elements.
    • Phase II is available now and incorporates:
      • metadata for consortia
      • Open Access metadata
        • Addressing the problems OA linking, including hybrid OA models and article-level access (KBART is title-level)
        • NOTE: The solution is a metadata element that identifies a title as either “F” (100% free) or “P” (<100% free).  There is no in-between, at least until KBART gets to the article-level.
      • metadata for ebooks, book series, and conference proceedings
  • PIE-J: Presentation and identification of ejournals
    • This is a standard, er, best practice aimed squarely at publishers and ejournal vendors.  Essentially, please, please, please use standard ISSNs, titles, and citation practices!
    • The latest update includes not only the definitions (e.g. of a title), but also good examples (no bad ones – there would just be too many 😉
    • There is also a template of a letter libraries (and ejournal vendors) could use to request a publisher (or vendor) to follow the best practice (remember, it’s not a standard).
  • ODI: Open Discovery Initiative
    • This effort is to promote transparency in discovery systems.
    • The work is nearly completed – it is in the voting stages now.
    • This best practice defines:
      • ways to assess publishers’ participation
      • models for fair linking
      • measuring usage of a publishers’ content (NOTE: this is not usage of the discovery system itself, but of the content).
        • This is an issue near & dear to my heart as I’ve been struggling to determine how much of database is being used via our Summon.
    • There are four groups of practices:
      • Technological – data format
      • Communication of libraries’ rights and permissions regarding linking
      • Definitions of fair linking
      • Exchange of usage data with the publisher
  • OAMI – Open Access Metadata & Indicators
    • The purpose of OAMI is to standardize how publishers indicate accessibility.
    • Those involved initially wanted to develop standard visual indicators (e.g. icons), but they could see they were going down a rabbit hole with no way out.
    • Now they’re focused on defining metadata, “Just the basic facts” – is it free to read?
    • Developed 2 tags:
      • free_to_read – includes start dates for embargos
      • licence_ref – link to the licence

<Shameless plug>Concurrent Session 2: The Quick and the Dirty: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Database Overlap at the Journal Title Level, Karen Harker & Priya Kizhakkethil</shamelessplug> 

This session focused on the specifics of determining overlap of abstract & indexing databases, as well as full-text aggregators and journal packages.  This was one of my first projects here, and I’ve finally been able to bring it out.  The graduate library assistant, Priya, did much of the work in the second phase, so it was only right she discuss what she did.  While Priya is graduating with her MLS this Saturday, she is pursuing a PhD, so I’m very fortunate to be able to keep her employed here.  Well, you can view the presentation yourself to get the nitty-gritty.  Essentially, we tried several sources of journal coverage to help us determine the overlap of these journal-based resources.  Our conclusion is that the freely-available sources (Cufts & JISC ADAT) are good enough for the A&Is, and your own linking service should have a good tool for full-text comparisons.  But there will be instances where downloading the journal lists yourself is the only way.

<shamelessplug>Concurrent Session 3: Planning for the Budget-ocalypse: The evolution of a serials/ER cancellation methodology, Todd Enoch & Karen Harker</shamelessplug>

Yes, this was my second presentation – right in a row.  My only complaint was that I missed Michael Levine-Clark’s session on ebooks.  This was yet another “how we did it”, but I think it was novel enough to warrant presentation at a conference.  Regular readers of my blog (most of whom share the same employer) are aware of the financial struggles the UNT Libraries have faced over these last few years.  When I was hired, I knew that my work would be focused on reducing resources.  This session summarized the methods we have “evolved” over the last few years – from the simple, single-cell organisms of across-the-board cuts and elimination of duplicates, to the complex flora and fauna involving distribution of usage, relative assessments, and percentiles.  Todd provided the foundation and the history of the resources and initial steps, notably the e-conversion project that was accelerated.  The latest round of cuts (our “budget-ocalypse”) kicked the evolution into high-gear, enabled by the matrix model of resource evaluation written by Gerri Foudy & Alesia McManus in 2005 and published in the JAL.  Key features inherited from the article include:

  1. Using 3-year average uses
  2. Rating resources on scope, ease of use and breadth
  3. Using a 5-year “inflation factor”

Mutations to this process included:

  • Using the usage measure most closely associated with the outcome of a user’s session (e.g. full-text, abstract view), rather than the lowest common usage measure
  • Looking at the distribution of usage across a package of ejournals
  •  Evaluating the resources’ “scores” by type, comparing each resource with its peers

Well, you can learn more by viewing the presentation…

Concurrent Session 4: ORCID Identifies: Planned and potential uses by associations, publishers, and librarians, Barbara Chen (MLA), Gail Clement (TAMU) and Joseph Thomas (ECSU) 

While setting up and ORCID profile is free to researchers, ORCID has members who pay to support the ORCID program.  The organization, in turn, has created API’s to help with that machine-to-machine communication that Van de Sompel referred to that helps create useful human tools.

Barbara Chen described how the Modern Language Association has used ORCID to help with their International Bibliography.  They encourage (not require) their members to create an ORCID ID, and then they use ORCID’s Import Works function to create a source based on the MLA International Bibliography.

Gail Clement described how they integrated ORCID on a mass scale with all of their graduate students.  Their goal was to ensure that all students have a “scholarly identity” at the start of their careers.  They hope to use this to track student outcomes over time.  They got funding from both ORCID and the Sloan Foundation to develop the tools and provide the support to implement this.  Key in the success of getting the grant was the support from the provost. Eventually they will expand to faculty, but their primary emphasis is on students.  Essentially, every graduate student had a profile in ORCID initiated or “minted”.  But it was up to the student to “claim” that identity.  Here was the rub.  Only about 20% of identities were “claimed” within 2 months of minting.  The most common reason for not claiming was that students were not checking their school emails (UGH!).  But using a combination of communication methods, Gail was able to get most of the IDs claimed.  She integrated ORCID help documentation into a LibGuide to help reinforce the connection between ORCID & TAMU.

Joseph then described the much more low-key efforts to extend ORCID’s reach to faculty at East Carolina State University.  This was one-on-one outreach, accomplished by integrated ORCID into the training, instructions and presentations of the research resources (e.g. PIVOT, SciVal, Vivo, etc.).  He concurred that getting administrative support was key to successful reach.

I would be very interested in being part of an initiative on our campus, but I don’t know how that would fly.

Sessions I missed:

One of the adverse effects of presenting at a conference is that you miss others’ presentations.  Here are two that I was disappointed that I missed:


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