Friday, August 29, 2008

Open Access: The Beginning of the End?

I jotted down a few ideas about open access, and wouldn't you know it, turned it into an article. OA's an interesting phenomenon. It's here, but not really. There is still so much skepticism regarding whether it'll work out that we just don't know whether it will make it. There are already textbooks that are mashed up using bits and pieces of many other textbooks for students to access digitally rather than buying the whole expensive mess at the beginning of every semester. Journals are starting to slip off in terms of purchases by libraries, especially the academic ones. With the rise of the Semantic Web, open access and open source must go hand-in-hand in order for them to collectively contribute to the new way of searching and organization online information. Librarians take heed? Peter Suber, are you listening?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A LEAP of Faith

One of the main tasks I do in my position is to evaluate digital technologies and how they fit into the Library model. I always am looking at how other organizations integrate emergent technologies into their webpages. One organization that has done a superb job is the Learning Enhancement Academic Partnership (LEAP) program at UBC. They really have some outstanding concepts. Libraries are increasingly moving towards the Library 2.0 (L2) model. Catalogues and homepages play only a part of the whole picture, but an important one. Here's why LEAP surpasses most library homepages by leaps and bounds. Here's hoping it catches on. And quick.

(1) User-generated content – As opposed to content posted solely by the site author(s), LEAP encourages user feedback, with things such as online surveys, polls, and student blogs.

(2) Treats users as co-developers of the site – The more people using the service, the better it becomes. LEAP treats this fundamental treatise to the core, encouraging student’s reviews, comments, and rants. Collective intelligence in its purest form.

(3) Customizable content and interface – LEAP allows students (and faculty) to merge their blog content to the

(4) Core application of the website runs through the browser and web serve – Rather than on a desk platform. We don’t need Dreamweaver. All we need is a freely downloadable open source software. LEAP uses Wordpress, a beautiful piece of work.

(5) Social software – the LEAP homepage is maximizes on this. Blogs, tagging, video and image sharing. You name it, they’ve got it. The whole Web 2.0 suite.

(6) Integration of emerging web technologies – LEAP uses this, building on AJAX, RSS, and using API’s for mashups.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

7 Ways to Better Teaching

Paul Axelrod’s Student Perspectives on Good Teaching: What History Reveals makes some perceptive insight into what makes a good teaching. As academic librarians, we teach almost as much as faculty. Many don't know about this seedy side of the profession. Axelrod puts things into perspective. Librarians need to take charge of instruction - it's an integral part of the profession. What good is technology if there's no one to translate it to users? Here are the top seven things a good teacher should have:

(1) Accessibility and Approachability

(2) Fairness

(3) Open-Mindedness

(4) Mastery and Delivery

(5) Enthusiasm

(6) Humour

(7) Knowledge and Inspiration Imparted

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Information Anarchy

I've just written a short piece about the Semantic Web. What is it? I know what it isn't. The current web is in many ways, an information anarchy, where the multitude of user acccounts and passwords coupled with the vast amount of similar operating web programs, have made online searching not only a difficult task at times, but confusing and frustrating most of the time. In my short article, I explain what the SemWeb proposes to do, and offer the famous seven layered cake as my model of grand understanding. As usual, comments are most welcomed.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Five Weeks to a Semantic Web Class

Over at the Semantic Library, which I admire and follow religiously, Melissa is developing a Semantic Library course, very much in line with the 6 Weeks to a Social Library class by Meredith Farkas. What would I teach if I were involved in this very exciting initiative? Well, why don’t I just say right here?

(1) Standards – What is RDF? What kind of metadata is it? What does it have to do with librarians?

(2) Classification and Metadata – What does the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, Resource Description and Access, and MARC 21 have to do with the SemWeb?

(3) From HTML to AJAX to SPARQL – The evolution of programming has led to different versions of the same thing. Is SPARQL the key to unlocking the mystery of the SemWeb? Or are there alternatives?

(4) Realizing the two Tim’s – O’Reilly and Berners-Lee’s vision of the Web. Where we are and where we’re heading? Is Nova Spivak the answer?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Making Academic Web Sites Better

Shu Liu's Engaging Users: The Future of Academic Library Web Sites is an insightful analysis into the present situation of academic library homepages. Academic library websites are libraries' virtual presentation to the world. Liu argues for Web 2.0 concepts for library websites. I enjoyed this article tremendously. It lays out the vision that many websites can handily and readily use in the current landscape of the Web. Take a look, it's worth a read.

(1) User Focus - Focus on library users by presenting library resources in a targeted an customized manner

(2) Personalization - Recognize library users as individuals by giving them opportunities to configure their own library interfaces and to select tools and content based on personal needs

(3) User engagement - Provide sufficient tools to allow and encourage library users in content creation and exchange

(4) Online communities - Nurture the development of online communities by connecting individuals through online publishing, and sharing Web 2.0 tools

(5) Remixability - Employ a mashup approach to aggregate current and emerging information technologies to provide library users with opportunities to explore new possibilities of information resources.