May 13, 2013
Half-assed B2B Electronic Transactions: Just make up a PIN for eSigning a Thomson Reuters transaction
As reported earlier, based on the initial response CRIV received from Thomson Reuters about requiring the last four digits of a SSN number to execute an electronic B2B transaction, CRIV decided to make a follow-up request "to see if a more concrete explanation on this topic is available." And here is Thomson Reuters "solution":
Should individuals placing orders prefer not to enter the last four digits of their Social Security number, they are encouraged to create a unique, four-digit personal identification number (PIN) to serve as part of their electronic signature. This PIN will serve as a method of verification for the individual placing an order. Customers can make this change when placing an order.
Ah, OK. Let's just be clear that WestMart is targeting the individual consumer for eCommerce transactions, not institutional buyers, by following Amazon's example. LexisNexis hasn't gone quite as far yet but there is no doubt in my mind that the forthcoming closure and mass layoff of sales and customer support employees in Albany indicates that LN will be more fully institutionalizing the Amazon eCommerce model for "efficiency" (read reducing labor costs) purposes.
If WEXIS wants to conduct B2B electronic commerce, both vendors also should mimic the Amazon model for B2B eTransactions. WEXIS should follow what Amazon does by way of establishing an institutional buyer's credit line for eTransactions. Of course, WEXIS also should follow Amazon's very easy online method for returning stuff ordered with credits made to the institutional buyer's credit line account.
If our major vendors are going to follow Amazon's example, don't just do it half-assed for B2B eCommerce. Is that too much to ask? [JH]
February 06, 2013
The Challenges of eBooks in Law Libraries (and one very interesting real world solution)
On Jan. 24, 2013, Ellyssa Kroski, Manager of Information Systems, New York Law Institute, and Bess Reynolds, Technical Services Manager, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, presented "Going Digital – The Challenges of eBooks in Law Libraries" in a LLAGNY professional education and development program. They reviewed publishing industry, vendors and aggregators current offerings, licensing restrictions and pricing models (oops, AALL trouble maker alert -- too late for our professional association to censor an event that mentions pricing models a/k/a "pricing structures" this time). Ellyssa Kroski and Bess Reynolds also "tackled the current challenges and obstacles to be overcome by both private and academic law libraries interested in implementing an eBooks program" and "discussed what law libraries are doing to make eBooks available to their attorneys and patrons." Their presentation stacks can be viewed at On Firmer Ground. Highly recommended.
While not news to the NYC law library community, one very interesting development is that the New York Law Institute have made its collection of 56,000 eBooks available to NYLI members free of charge. Debevoise & Plimpton is the Institute's first eBook client to integrate the NYLI catalog module into the firm's OPAC. Any law library that uses EOS and is a NYLI member now can make the Institute's substantial collection of eBooks available to their library's users.
Also highly recommended. I don't know about you but one little Ohio county law library that uses EOS will be looking into the ways and means of becoming an institutional member of the New York Law Institute to access this collection -- and this despite many notable legal publishing houses being missing from the Institute's eBook collection publishers list because they either deny law libraries the ability to circulate eBooks or try to limit lending to non-integrated, not institutional-centric platforms. [JH]
April 16, 2012
Managing a Library's Electronic Collection: The Long March to an Integrated Discovery and Access Platform
The Douglas County (Colorado) public library system has developed a solution for discovering and lending eBooks. Monique Sendze, Associate Director of Information Technology at Douglas County Libraries, describes the project in detail in her article The E-Book Experiment, Public Libraries (January/February 2012). Buy-in from major trade publishers, some who do provide lending rights for eBooks and most who don't, has not be forthcoming. One issue appears to be that the publishing community does not want to sell to individual libraries, preferring instead to sell to wholesalers like OverDrive because of the administrative overhead of engaging in direct sales. The Douglas County Libraries, however, estimates that self-hosting eBooks is saving about a third of the cost of licensing the same titles from wholesalers.
Cost savings, however, are not the only issue. Discovering eBooks in a collection present a serious problem for patrons.
Libraries want to provide e-books through a single, easy-to-use, easy-to-search platform. Unfortunately, that may never happen. Vendors continue to create their own distinct platforms: OverDrive, Baker & Taylor, Simon & Schuster, 3M, ProQuest, EBSCO, etc. Libraries are expected to present all of these platforms to patrons in a way that makes sense, which is near impossible.
Let's add the article observes that the trend in self-published eBooks have been growing exponentially and those eBooks are not captured by traditional distribution channels which now only account for 12 percent of new content. Then there are the problems that arise from the current eBook licensing business model for library collection development planning.
[Douglas County Libraries] immediate goals to improve the library e-book user experience include:
to enhance the discovery of e-books with VuFind library catalog software;
to simplify the delivery and circulation of e-books with Adobe Content Server (ACS); and
to challenge a business model based on content license, with one based on content purchase.
Library staff have developed software to optimize the e-book user experience; implemented Adobe Content Server to store and deliver e-books that require DRM; and begun working with publishers to develop an e-book purchase model that will fairly compensate writers and publishers, while meeting the expectations of library users.
On ALA TechSource, Patrick Hogan reports:
the Colorado State Library will soon be launching a website so that the library community can access information such as technical documentation, presentations to the board, and usage data as it becomes available. A number of state libraries and consortia have expressed interest and are watching Douglas County as a model.
For much more, see Sendze's The E-Book Experiment. Highly recommended. One day, law libraries will be dealing with the same issues public libraries are addressing now.
Obviously, law libraries haven't reached the critical mass of issues about law eBooks yet. Hell, we only have one vendor that is even offering a circulation solution so far. But eBooks titles offered by ABA, CCH, Lexis, TR Legal, university presses, etc., are raising the issue of how institutional buyers are going to manage their eBook content by way of a unified discovery and access platform that is library-centric.
The Douglas County Libraries is be a model for self-hosting eBooks obtained from multiple publishers. The most serious drawback is in-house development, implementation and maintainance costs. The economy of scale makes sense for the Douglas County library system. It's seven libraries serve a population of close to 300,000 and is considered one of the busiest libraries in the United States with more than eight million items checked out annually.
Perhaps if the Long Count Calendar marks the start of a new cycle on Dec. 21, 2012, some enterprising garage techie will craft an attractive cloud based commercially available in-house discovery and access interface solution for all electronic content from licensed legal search database service that access content at the database specific level to eNewsletters, eJournals and eBooks which are not isolated by the multiple platform silos of individual vendors and their bundles. This, of course, is not part of the strategic objective of any legal publishing vendor.
Sometimes we discard the old because it no longer is relevant. Other times it is worth the fight to preserve the old by embracing new technological solutions. In the database era, we gave up on the notion of "library stacks" holding some of our major resources, relying instead on vendor-specific interfaces of menu options for database selections. The menu has been replaced with today's legal search model of internal federated searching with filter option. Now come law eBooks. If law librarian do not want to hand over discovery and access of them to multiple vendor-specific platforms, they will have a fight on their hands because the vendor community's objective is to preserve its own silos by a user account dashboard model that offers only its content and solutions (including research) and ultimately eBooks. At issue for librarians is whether or not we can succeed in creating an interface similar in purpose to print era stacks for users to discover and access all of our eHoldings. [JH]
November 25, 2011
Richards' Study of Non-MARC Metadata Practices in AALL Libraries
From the abstract of Robert Richards' The Use of Non-MARC Metadata in AALL Libraries: A Baseline Study, 103 LLJ 631 (2011):
This article reports results of a 2009 survey of AALL libraries respecting non-MARC metadata practices, with a focus on interoperability. Results cover types of collections described with non-MARC metadata, as well as metadata standards, platforms, and tools. Results suggest substantial, though incomplete, awareness among respondents of metadata interoperability and the factors that enable it. This study is intended as a preliminary inquiry that affords some sense of law libraries’ recent non-MARC metadata activity and offers findings that may furnish a baseline for future studies of such activity.
Hat tip to Gary Price's INFOdocket post. [JH]
November 23, 2011
AALL's Technical Services SIS Awards Committee Seeking Nominations for the Renee D. Chapman Memorial Award by Feb. 1, 2012
The Renee D. Chapman Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions in Technical Services Law Librarianship is presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries to an individual or group in recognition of achievement in a particular area of technical services, for service to the Association, or for outstanding contributions to the professional literature.
Factors considered in selecting the recipients of the Award include such things as the publishing, presenting, or sharing of innovative techniques or research, analysis or commentary; or development of software, hardware, or other mechanisms that significantly enhance access to law library materials and collections. These contributions may be applied in the functional areas of processing, preservation, or technical services administration. Contributions may also consist of service to Technical Services SIS as a whole.
Members of AALL may submit the names of persons for consideration to the chair of the TS-SIS Awards Committee. Nominations must include the candidate's full name, title and current firm, company or institution name, and address; or, if retired, name and last previous place of work and home address. Letters of nomination must be signed by a person other than the individual(s) being nominated. Each nomination should include a complete list of projects, programs, and/or publications of the candidate and a description of the candidate's work with respect to improvements in bibliographic control or access to legal materials and services. All documentation must be submitted in typed form.
The application deadline is February 1, 2012. For further information see the Chapman Award section of the Technical Services SIS handbook at http://www.aallnet.org/sis/tssis/handbook/related/chapmanaward.htm or contact the TS-SIS Awards Committee Chair, Michael Maben at mmaben(at)indiana.edu. All materials in support of a nomination should be sent to Michael Maben, Indiana University Maurer School of Law Library, 211 S. Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405-7001 by February 1, 2012.
November 03, 2011
Beyond MARC: Library of Congress Bibliographic Framework Plan for the Digital Age
The Working Group of the Future of Bibliographic Control at the Library of Congress has released its initial plan for its Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative for dissemination, sharing, and feedback.
Although the MARC-based infrastructure is extensive, and MARC has been adapted to changing technologies, a major effort to create a comparable exchange vehicle that is grounded in the current and expected future shape of data interchange is needed. To assure a new environment will allow reuse of valuable data and remain supportive of the current one, in addition to advancing it, the following requirements provide a basis for this work. Discussion with colleagues in the community has informed these requirements for beginning the transition to a "new bibliographic framework". Bibliographic framework is intended to indicate an environment rather than a "format".
Text of the plan and background information here. [JH]
October 05, 2011
A Quick Look at DPLA ShelfLife's Beta Catalog Interface
David H. Rothman offers a quick look at DLPA ShelfLife project at Ingenious beta catalog interface—good for academics and other serious users on LibraryCity (republished on LLRX). He observes "ShelfLife lives up to the visual metaphor, even though I'd hope that DPLA Beta Sprinters would offer another, even simpler option for casual users at both academic and public libraries. Harvard-simple isn't necessarily public-library simple." Hat tip to Rothman for the below video.
ShelfLife is intended to provide users with a rich environment for exploring the combined content of the DPLA, discovering new works and engaging more deeply with them via social interactions. It displays the available content via a scrollable virtual representation of library shelves, providing users with their most familiar experience of physical libraries. But any work can instantly be shown in a variety of different shelves (facets), clustering it with other works to facilitate serendipity and contextual understanding. ShelfLife will support a "click and play" interface for reading/viewing available items. Users will be guided to new works by a recommendation system based on aggregated anonymous usage data and, importantly, via rich social interactions with friends and fellow fans of works. The information generated by users explicitly (by writing reviews, favoriting works, creating collections, etc.) and implicitly (by doing the digital equivalent of "checking works out", browsing interactively, etc.) will be fed back into the system's recommendation engine, so that it learns. ShelfLife will integrate data from local public libraries and will make available to its users the real-time expertise of librarians.
October 18, 2010
Carving Out a "Vicarious Charitable Exemption" by State Statute: How OCLC Acquired Tax-Exempt Status Under Ohio State Law
Following up on Vicki Szymczaki's Is OCLC Wexish? (Mar. 15, 2010) and our SkyRiver Tech and Innovative Interfaces Seeks Access to "OCLC's Unlawfully Acquired Database" in Unfair Competition Complaint (Aug. 10, 2010) posts, many may find Disruptive Library Technology Jester's A History of the OCLC Tax-Exemption Status (Oct. 5, 2010) an interest read. The post starts with the Ohio Tax Commissioner's denial of tax-exemption status in 1980. That ruling was affirmed at the appellate court level and by the Ohio Supreme Court in a June 1984 decision. 11 Ohio St. 3d 198. Snips for the Court's opinion:
OCLC submits that because it serves libraries, which in turn benefit the general public through the dissemination of knowledge for the edification and improvement of mankind, it qualifies as an institution furthering human knowledge and, therefore, is a charitable institution. This argument, however, simply constitutes an attempt by OCLC to obtain a vicarious charitable exemption by virtue of the activities of its customers [which has been rejected by the Court].
... the record demonstrates that OCLC’s activities more closely resemble those of a publisher of library materials or a data base firm specializing in information retrieval, such as Lexis or the New York Times Information Bank, rather than that of a library. Although OCLC’s service may greatly enhance the ability of libraries to better serve the public, OCLC essentially offers a product to charitable institutions, for a fee exceeding its cost, and, as the board concluded, is not itself a charitable organization.
... although OCLC may have originated as a charitable organization upon its creation in 1967, the organization, which now operates throughout North America for any library willing to pay its fee, and which engages in fee paying research projects for the private gain of commercial industries, has since transcended the realm of a charitable institution.
The post proceeds with a discussion of how the Ohio General Assembly enacted an exemption for OCLC effective September 11, 1985. The author writes
Now we get to the part where the state legislature essentially negated the Ohio Tax Commissioner’s argument by carving out an exemption for OCLC. One might think that “carving out” is a pejorative phrase, but I know of only one organization that meets the definition [found in Ohio Revised Code Section 5709.72].
Yup, in 1985, the library technology development exemption would have fit one and only one organization, OCLC. Unfortunately the post does not address OCLC’s 501(c)(3) exemption.
Why does this bit of Ohio legal history matter? Because OCLC is trying to get the SkyRiver/Innovative Interfaces lawsuit transferred from California to Ohio and SkyRiver is objecting. Check out A History of the OCLC Tax-Exemption Status for details -- a bit of mudslinging going on in what likely will be increasingly hostile litigation irregardless of whether it takes place in California or Ohio. [JH]
August 26, 2010
Why Can't Johnny Research Practice Law? Is Johnny thinking like "Chad," the LRW instructor, instead of thinking like a law librarian?
Michael Murray is the co-author of the legal research textbook I refuse to identify since he once said that librarians shouldn't teach legal research because librarians research differently than lawyers according to David Walker's recent LLB post. "This book obviously wasn't intended for law librarians since one of the authors believes that we shouldn't be teaching legal research in the first place." (Try to pick which of the two images, left or right, is the author.) Hello Sarah, please go give "Chad" a good swift kick in the pants for me. My next trip to Chicago is months away so I won't be able to turn off I-65 to drop by Valpo anytime soon to do so myself.
The competency of LRW instructors who are not law librarians to teach legal research is mixed at best. Thanks to the younger ones' own exposure to online legal resources, it is improving although most may still fail to grasp the theoretical framework that exists. In the bad old days, the typical LRW instructor repeated the same bad advice his or her uninformed LRW instructor taught him/her in law school. Student obsession with writing assignments also doesn't help. Research and writing, in my opinion, should be bifurcated into two unrelated required courses. Let the legal writing profs teach writing. Let professional law librarians teach legal research.
Thinking Like Law Librarians. Don't most of us wish law school grads come out of the legal academy with a research skill set that makes them think like law librarians? It's about access points and routes to legal resources that in the 1980s I used to teach in a format neutral context to BigLaw's newbie attorneys one-on-one and by way of guest lecturing instead of the typical "toolbox" approach to legal research -- "this is a digest [hold up for everyone to see] and this is how to use it [display a page]".
I even demonstrated the approach as late as the mid-2000s in a legal research workshop for Cincinnati Law students to show to one older and one younger law librarian how they should be instructing our students to "think like law librarians." Both took notes; it was a "teachable moment." It registered with one, not so much with the other who claimed that the ways and means of teaching legal research was one of those so-called "academic freedoms" protected by tenure. You guess which. We sent one of the two off to take an ALR course because displaying and commenting on a bibliography as a teaching method, as good as the bibliography was by circa 19th Century standards, just did nothing for creating teachable moments in legal research instruction.
Legal Research Principles Exist.There are principles of legal research that can be drummed into law student heads by law librarians who apply what they learned in LIS bibliographic description and subject access classes. We used to call them cataloging classes; those of us who learned cataloging from galley proofs of the first iteration of AACR2 learned a new terminology for thinking about research that was applicable regardless of publishing medium. Remember youngsters, the task before AACR2's editors in the late 1970s was to craft uniform principles and rules to address the explosion of publishing formats. One unintended consequence was that AACR2's vocabulary provided a way to restructure the principles of research to apply to all publishing formats. The best researcher remains, IMHO, a cataloger metadata specialist or a reference librarian who did not snooze thru cataloging, or whatever that is called these days, classes because that's how to think like law librarians who research. They also make the best legal research instructors, not withstanding what's-his-name brain dead opinion.
Most reference librarians, I hope, at least realize that even if they don't make this conscious association, this is how we think when we perform legal research. See, e.g., Christopher G. Wren & Jill Robinson Wren, The Teaching of Legal Research, 80 Law Library Journal 7 (1988), Theodore A. Potter, A New Twist on an Old Plot: Legal Research in a Strategy, Not a Format, 92 Law Library Journal 287 (2000) and the unfortunately subtitled, J.D.S. Armstrong & Cristoperher A. Knott, Where the Law Is: An Introduction to Advance Legal Research, (1st ed., West, 2004). Unfortunately subtitled because their work should be the required text for all 1L legal research and writing classes. Toss all others, all the old familiar "brands" and the above unmentioned one, into the Reserve Collection.
I do, however, wish someone would produce a new and long overdue edition of Price & Bitner's Effective Legal Research, the best damn text for law librarians which could be the best damn required text for ALR course adoption. Now, who gobbled up Little, Brown's law titles? Ah well, if the readers of this post aren't members of my generation, law librarian or vendor book acquitions editor, they may not even know what the damn I am talking about. Oops, three "damns" in one paragraph! Well, damn it all to hell, who owns the copyright to Price & Bitner? Oops, make that four. Grab a damn copy from the stacks Gen X-Y'ers, if unfamiliar with the title that has been around for over 50 years and get to work because there are royalties, print and e-text, to be earned. Damn, there I go again... what's the record for one paragraph? I'm thinking the Blog Widow will have to engrave "helped reintroduce a frank, if "non-professional" discussion of issues in law librarian 'literature'" as my epitaph. But I already know there will be no tombstone and I will be sitting on the mantle in an urn alongside past and current pets until the next husband arrives on the scene... . I'm "toast," both literally and figuratively.
Dump the Tool Box Approach to Legal Research Instruction. Non-law librarian legal research and writing instructors have been awakened from this Kantian dogmatic slumber that is the toolbox approach by the advent of the Internet in the context of Google-gen law school students but not sufficiently in many (most?) cases to avoid the toolbox approach completely. At least academic law libraries aren't wasting a perfectly good recession to re-think their collection development policies and practices. Hopefully no one is doing the "this is the Shepard's and West's Digest" things anymore using their print versions. That can be eliminated by print cancellations!
I, for one, wonder how behind the curve testing legal research skills will be if the MBE settles on multiple choice questions should research skills become part of the Bar Exam. Can you really test the research thought process in a multiple choice answer format. What the heck, let law librarians draft state-specific questions as essays so they can grab a little cash for grading them.
Starting with the Basics for "Chad's" Benefit. Richard Buckingham, Electronic Services and Legal Reference Librarian, Suffolk University Law School, recently posted Thinking Like a Librarian: Tips for Better Legal Research [SSRN]. It does not address teaching research principles. It is, however, one very good reading assignment for 1Ls because, in his words,
The research techniques described are not new and have been written about by others. But too often they appear in publications read primarily by librarians or introductory legal research textbooks that are several hundred pages long, where their importance is lost on first-year law students. The goal of this article is to share these research tips with a larger audience in a way that demonstrates their usefulness.
And yes, for 1Ls, law school grads and even "Chad," Buckingham's research recommendations are fundamental and so utterly essential they are taken as givens by law librarians. Hat tip to Legal Research Plus for calling attention to Buckingham's article.
Endnote About Those Folks Who Dwell in Law Library Back Offices.Tech services professionals sit in back offices working day in and day without the ego-strokes that come from patron "thank you's." But public services professionals ought to remember, also day in and day out, that without their work, they would not be able to perform their tasks and receive the benefits of patrons' "thank you for your help." Unfortunately, I've known quite a few who don't give a thought to the research infrastructure Tech Services staff create and maintain. These days this unseen staff includes many IT specialists, too.
Previous posts in LLB's Why Can't Johnny Practice Law series:
- Would you hire a law prof to represent you?
- Academic law libraries are not wasting a perfectly good recession to develop collections that look more "real world."
August 10, 2010
SkyRiver Tech and Innovative Interfaces Seeks Access to "OCLC's Unlawfully Acquired Database" in Unfair Competition Complaint
In case you missed it and I certainly did until yesterday when I received this emailed statement from OCLC, SkyRiver Technology Solutions and Innovative Interfaces, Inc. filed suit against OCLC, alleging anticompetitive practices in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on July 29th (Docket No. 10-cv-03305-BZ) Download the Complaint here. According to the plaintiffs, OCLC is "unlawfully monopolizing the bibliographic data, cataloging service and interlibrary lending markets and is attempting to monopolize the market for integrated library systems by anticompetitive and exclusionary agreements, policies and practice."
Two more snips from the Complaint:
This case is about defendant OCLC's exclusionary agreements, punitive pricing, unlawful tying arrangements and its refusal to deal with for-profit firms in violation of the antitrust laws in order to maintain its monopolies and to destroy a new entrant in the market for library cataloging services in competition with OCLC. This case is also about defendant OCLC's entry into the integrated library systems market and its use of its monopoly power over its bibliographic database, cataloging service and worldwide interlibrary lending service to attempt to monopolize the integrated library systems market through unlawful, anticompetitive conduct and anticompetitive agreements that it imposes on its member libraries and its refusal to all for-profit firms to access its database for commercial purposes.
... This action is brought to obtain relief from the injuries suffered by plaintiffs, including access to OCLC's unlawfully acquired database, and for the benefit of all libraries, their patrons and consumers by assuring that competition exists in all aspects of electronic bibliographic data compilation and library systems and service.
OCLC states in its announcement:
OCLC’s General Counsel, working with trial counsel, will respond to this regrettable action by SkyRiver and Innovative Interfaces following procedures and timetables dictated by the court. This process will likely take months or even years, not days.
In the meantime, we want to assure the OCLC membership and all 72,000 libraries that use one or more OCLC services that these spurious allegations will not divert us from our current plans and activities. These include maintaining and enhancing existing services, pursuing an ambitious agenda in library research and advocacy, and introducing new Web-scale (cloud) services. Indeed, OCLC has been a global leader in providing cloud-based services for libraries since 1971, and the next generation of these services holds great promise for reducing member library costs.
See also Marshall Breeding's LJ report:
[The litigation] also represents the culmination of concerns expressed by some vendors and librarians that OCLC has used its tax-exempt status to behave not only as a giant library utility but a hard-nosed business.
Of course, we were also producing printed catalog card records back then that had to be filed but, luckily, that wasn't my job because I was too busy checking in serials the old school cardex way. [JH]
May 19, 2010
LLB Poll: The Ellis Statement on Unsolicited Shipments from TR Legal
Rob Myers, Associate Director for Collection Management, Acquisitions and Planning, Case Western, CRIV vice-chair and incoming chair of the Committee took a jab at TR Legal's continuing practice of sending unsolicited shipments without consent and received a ham-fisted blow to the solar plexus by TR Legal's offical spokesperson for corporate policy, Anne Ellis, Senior Director of Librarian (Marketing) Relations.
Quoting from Myers' extremely polite communication to Ellis:
As you know, Principle 3: Fair Dealing of the AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers discourages this practice. Specifically, section 3.1 of the Guide states "Publishers should obtain the customer's consent prior to making a shipment or initiating a transaction, unless such shipment is part of a standing order or subscription to which the customer has previously consented." As neither the KeyRules or Transfer Pricing Strategies are part of a pre-existing standing order or subscription, CRIV would ask that West/TR cease the practice. It is burdensome to both law librarians, West, and the Postal Service to boomerang unwanted material in this fashion. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for West's products and customer service. Please understand that the practice of shipping unsolicited material only serves to hurt the goodwill West has built over the decades with the law library community. Anything that you can do to have this practice ceased is greatly appreciated.
I would like to thank Rob Myers for allowing me to speak to an issue raised by customers who have voiced concerns about receiving a publication without their prior consent. To be clear, companion products contain content that supplements our customers’ subscriptions and are deemed important to the collection. These are viewed favorably by most subscribers; very few of these products are returned to us.
Prior to sending a companion product, we notify subscribers by letter asking that they let us know if they don’t want the particular title. And we’re always trying to improve how we work with customers. The letter now includes a stamped and addressed return postcard where customers can indicate with a checkmark if they do not want to receive the publication, and simply drop the card in the mail.
We understand that our customers’ time is valuable, and our goal is to provide only the products our customers want and need. If you received a companion product recently without first getting proper notification, please accept our sincere apology.
Thanks for nothing Anne. Thanks for trying Rob!
So we thought it was worth a reality check for the folks in the land of 10,000 invoices by way of the below utterly unscientific LLB poll. Please take a moment to participate.
Note Well. My hunch is TR Legal's own account reps would disagree with statement #1 because they do not receive commissions on sales of unsolicited shipments of new titles and would agree with statement #2 for ordering new titles the way every other publisher on the planet does so they can be credited with the sale. My second hunch is customer service reps would breath a collective sigh of relief if TR Legal's current practice was eliminated. I, for one, want my rep to earn a commission when I buy, rare that it is, a new title from TR Legal. With contracting sales territories and increasing sales targets, I don't want him "disappeared" by losing his job and customer service reps can spend their time more productively by not having to address WTF questions for not mailing in a "stamped and addressed return postcard." [JH]
March 15, 2010
Is OCLC Wexish?
When Jerry Kline of iii fame first released his new bibliographic utility Skyriver back in October 2009, I was a bit annoyed. I was hoping he would have invested energy in making iii a truly "integrated" integrated library system. (I am referring to Encore here, but that is another post). In fact, I thought that it was a risky venture to dare compete with OCLC. Nevertheless, I found Marshall Breeding's review in LJ of this new service intriguing.
The new service, although representing a small universe of a mere 20 million records, promises higher quality records at a lower price. In this age of budget slashing and suspect products, who could argue with that?
Well, OCLC of course.
Late in February, Josh Hadro at LJ reported that OCLC was shaking down early Skyriver adoptor Michigan State University. MSU had switched over to Skyriver with the idea of saving about $80,000 in cataloging fees.
According to the LJ story, MSU had expected to pay 0.23 cents a record to upload their Skyriver records, or, roughly, $6000 for 26,000 records. A post on Karen Coyle's InFormation blog reports that OCLC instead offered MSU a price of $2.85 a record, or $74,000 for 26,000 records. Coyle also reports in a separate posting that MSU was not the only Library fooled by OCLC pricing schemes.
I have always been a fan of OCLC. I think the organization has done wonderful work with libraries. And, I am very disappointed in their actions toward libraries that are trying to be better consumers and provide more innovative services to their institutions. In the February LJ article, Hadro reports that OCLC Trustee Alford defended OCLC's position as being motivated by a need to protect the integrity of the data and the existence of a well established cooperative. (Coyle provides a more detailed report on Alford's position.)
But it really does not ring true.
We upload records from other services to OCLC without any repercussions. And we used to load RLIN records before RLIN folded and left OCLC a virtual monopoly. As for integrity of the data, well, have you seen some of the records in OCLC? They aren't always so good.
A better response, and a more OCLC-like response, would have been to counter with an even better service. As a cooperative of libraries, wouldn't it have been more appropriate to help us move toward an open bibliographic data arrangement? (You can follow the excellent discussion on NGC4LIB on the idea of responding to OCLC with open archives initiative protocol at the grassroots level.) Or, if the bottom line gets in the way, at least lower their prices in recognition of the times.
What happens when a big research facility decides to be innovative (ahem), move to Open Library or some other vendor product, and drop out of OCLC? If the domino effect takes place, the usefulness of the OCLC resource sharing platform diminishes significantly. This is the point that Alford is trying to make. It is a good and valid point, but the OCLC response to Skyriver might just make it happen sooner rather than later.
Dare I say that their actions make them look Wexish? (VS)
HT to Karen Coyle!
January 28, 2010
Transitioning to Semantic Web-Friendly Library Catalogs
Karen Coyle analyzes the current state of library catalog data in the January 2010 issue of Library Technology Reports, Understanding the Semantic Web: Bibliographic Data and Metadata. In this report she offers a history of bibliographic data from its origins to today's digital records and offers guidelines for transforming today's library catalogs into semantic web-friendly ones. The first chapter, entitled Library Data in a Modern Context, is accessible free of charge. The January 2010 LTR issue can be purchased here.
Coyle is following up on this report with another that will be published as LTR's February issue. Titled RDA Vocabularies for a Twenty-First-Century Data Environment, you can read an excerpt on ALA TechSource Blog.
Hat tip to Daniel A. Freeman's ALA TechSource Blog post. [JH]
November 02, 2009
Share Your Vendor Relations Wisdom in the CRIV Sheet
From Joe Thomas, CRIV Sheet Editor and Head of Technical Services, Notre Dame Law School:
"If you have an interesting procedure for dealing with vendors, if you have some insight to share about vendor practices, if you have something to tell your colleagues in other libraries about a cooperative venture with a vendor, please consider using the CRIV Sheet as the venue for your thoughts. We welcome submissions from veterans and rookies alike. Please consider sharing your vendor relations wisdom."
In these tight fiscal times, the CRIV Sheet is becoming one of AALL's most important publications. The deadline for the next CRIV Sheet is Nov. 20. Feature articles are usually about 2,000 words. You can contact Joe Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org [JH]
May 13, 2009
Cloud Computing Libraries and OCLC's "Web-scale Library Management Service" Strategy
Richard Wallis, Marshall Breeding, and Google associate product manager for Google Book Search, Frances Haugen discuss cloud computing and how it will influence libraries in this recent Library 2.0 Gang podcast. Cloudofdata.com's Paul Miller chimes in to provide an overview of this sometimes perplexing "cloud computing" phenomenon before the conversation moves on OCLC's strategy to move library management services to Web scale. See OCLC press release. "Interpreting the OCLC announcement, writes Richard Wallis, "it is clear that it is a approach to deliver hosted library management services from the cloud in direct competition to the traditional ILS vendors such as SirsiDynix, Ex Libris, Innovative, Talis, and even those that OCLC have consumed over recent years,"
The podcast is an excellent introduction to these topics and issues. More generally, see Where is the cloud? Geography, economics, environment, and jurisdiction in cloud computing by Paul T. Jaeger, Jimmy Lin, Justin M. Grimes & Shannon N. Simmons on First Monday. (As an emerging new technology ... cloud computing raises significant questions about resources, economics, the environment, and the law. Many of these questions relate to geographical considerations related to the data centers that underlie the clouds: physical location, available resources, and jurisdiction. While the metaphor of the cloud evokes images of dispersion, cloud computing actually represents centralization of information and computing resources in data centers, raising the specter of the potential for corporate or government control over information if there is insufficient consideration of these geographical issues, especially jurisdiction.) [JH]
September 25, 2008
Will the WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry Work?
OCLC launched the Copyright Evidence Registry six-month pilot program on July 1 to test the concept and functionality. Users can search the Copyright Evidence Registry to find information about a book, learn what others have said about its copyright status, and share what they know. During a later stage of the pilot, OCLC will add a feature enabling pilot libraries to create and run automated copyright rules conforming to standards they define for determining copyright status. The rules will help libraries analyze the information available in the Copyright Evidence Registry and form their own conclusions about copyright status. In Keeping Rights Registries Open, Peter Brantley reviews issues involving OCLC's pilot program. [JH]
July 24, 2008
On the Vendor-Law Library Relationship
Check out Alvin Podboy's (Director of Library Services at Baker Hostetler) recent article, Legal Information Needs a Little Kedging. [JH]
June 12, 2008
Adding Recommender Input to OPACs Using BibTip
In Adding Value to the Library Catalog by Implementing a Recommendation System (D-Lib Magazine, May/June 2008), Dr. Michael Mönnich, Karlsruhe University Library, Head of Collection and Cataloging Department, and Marcus Spiering, Karlsruhe University Library, IT Services, describe the recommender system BibTip, developed in Karlsruhe University, and discuss its application in libraries. For more information about BibTip, check out its website (German) and see the BibTip Flyer (pdf) (English). [JH]
May 15, 2008
Emerging Issues in Academic Library Cataloging & Technical Services
Produced by Primary Research Group, Emerging Issues in Academic Library Cataloging & Technical Services presents nine detailed case studies of leading university cataloging and technical service departments. It provide insights into how they are handling ten major changes facing them, including: the encouragement of cataloging productivity; impact of new technologies and enhancement of online catalogs; transition to metadata standards; cataloging of websites and digital and other special collections; library catalog and metadata training; database maintenance, holdings, and physical processing; relationship with Acquisitions; staff education; and other important issues. Survey participants represent academic libraries of varying sizes and classifications, with many different viewpoints. Universities surveyed are: Brigham Young; Curry College; Haverford College; Illinois, Louisiana and Pennsylvania State Universities; University of North Dakota; University of Washington; and Yale. [JH]
April 08, 2008
New Life for Good Old LC Subject Headings
Roy Tennant reports that LC's Ed Summers has launched http://lcsh.info/ to demonstrate what can be done with Library of Congress Subject Headings. Summers has taken the LCSH dataset harvested by Simon Spero (instead of official LC data) and parsed it into SKOS, an effort led by the W3C as part of its Semantic Web effort. More information on the project can be found on Summer's website, including some web slides of the project.
Tennant believes this is a lead-up to doing something on the web that will use official LC data, live and updated. Now, if you think I understand all this next generation catalog stuff, you are dead wrong -- things have come a long way since my LIS days where we were programming truncated keyword searching of LC subject headings in MARC records back in the late 1970s -- so read more about it at Tennant's Digital Libraries blog post.
Browsing LCSH. Check out Bernhard Eversberg's LCSH Browser. You can browse an alphabetical list of the headings and cross-references, a list of all words occurring in the headings, personal and corporate names, and LC classification numbers. When you pull up the full record for a term there are links that will send you off to WorldCat, Google, LibrayThing and OpenLibrary with that term. Any "see also" references are also clickable. Hat tip to Roy Tennant. [JH]