April 2006


As a member of the ACRL Professional Development Committee, I've been on the committee helping to put together the ACRL/CNI/EDUCAUSE Virtual Conference. It's been a really interesting and valuable experience being a part of the process–seeing how the call for proposals is issued, getting to look at all the really great proposals that came in, hearing the thoughtful discussion and suggestions of a lot of great colleagues and having the honor of being part of a group that includes Joan Lippincott, Evelyn Blount and Margot Sutton (who has to be one of the hardest-working people I've ever met virtually). And today is the day it kicks off!
Keynote with Clifford Lynch and Charles Henry

Cyberinfrastructure-Question on American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)–umbrella organization of mostly humanities and social sciences academic institutions–and their cyberinfrastructure task force which both of them took part in I believe (report forthcoming). ACLS decided to convene the task force after two influential science and quantitative social science reports (Revolutionizing Science and Engineering Through Cyberinfrastructure, an NSF report in 2003 on cyberinfrastructure in support of science and engineering-Dan Atkins, chair (also see http://www.nsf.gov/od/oci/reports/toc.jsp); and last year, a report on cyberinfrastructure for quantitative data (also NSF). The ACLS report is meant to take a look at the special circumstances of humanities and social sciences in cyberinfrastructure (much less work done in digital world for these fields despite pioneering projects, much less funding (not the same huge grants given by funding agencies like NSF), abd special need for backfile digitization especially for humanities) as well as the common themes across all fields (need for appropriate support personnel, changing landscape of research and  inadequecies of current system (tenure, departmental organization, scholarly communication, etc) to address change introduced by technology, historical lack of funding for supporting data sets after project's over, and need for strong leadership). Also not only technical support and training issues but also challenges (and opportunities) for interdisciplinary scholarship.

Libraries' role? Scholarship much more involved in digital data which need support and institutional homes (access, availability, preservation, development for ongoing scholarship)

Note to self: look at NSF Office for Cyberinfrastructure

Example: Shoah digital archive (http://www.library.yale.edu/mssa/vha/)?
Digitization–Large scale projects like Google Book Search–Stopped by copyright or orphan works? Good or bad as a whole? Good for cultural preservation and not just for books-photos, television, etc. Google most aggressive and perhaps pushed ahead and now are having to deal with resistance but good thing that has come out of it has been discussion, awareness, European libraries intitiatives (like Sputnik, an info race).

Institutional repositories–In answer to audience question, Lynch Cliff says important (though not all things will be journal articles or books) and must place in context of larger digital repositories/network. Henry agrees and says another useful point is that it shows more of process of scholarship ("intellectual life of institutions" says Lynch "an uneneding supply of symposia, lectures, etc" that can be saved and broadcast. pointed out loss of historical record of performing arts because of technical and copyright problems)

Digital preservation–initiatives, multiple strategies? Yes, multiple strategies (don't put all your eggs in one basket and we also don't know enough to whittle down to just one). Lots of initiatives and hard to keep track of if you're not embedded because research/operation/field trials all mixed. National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation project coordinated by Library of Congress (distributed initiative) and European intiatives (like the Digital Curation Centre in Edinburgh). Need to integrate concept of preservation in any digital project.

I missed the end of this because of a nissue I had to resolve so perhaps more later. 

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Sadly not the wine but still very good. I've been interested in MERLOT, the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, for awhile; it's a great source for digital learning objects (the kinds of online tutorials, simulations, quizzes, etc. that can be used in classes; they're often small modules rather than whole courses–smaller pieces that can be used in various ways within a class, though MERLOT also includes much larger online multimedia courses or projects) in all subject areas, which are submitted by members of the community and are searchable by anyone. I have subscribed to the RSS feeds for the new resources (both in general and in specific subject areas like Teaching and Learning) for awhile but I wanted to learn more about it since they seem to have added or beefed up a number of features. So I signed up for a TLT group workshop, "Enhancing Teaching with Technology using MERLOT."

Today is the last day of the workshop and it's been a good introduction. The first session was an overview of the site and its governance (a lot of which I'd heard before). But the second and third went more into depth in the areas that I cared about most. I became a member of the site (you don't have to to use it but you do to submit and peer review materials); I'll be doing something similar for the SOS for Information Literacy's higher education repository (and should be already for NSDL though I've been delinquent) and it's possible to do so for MERLOT as well. About 15% of the resources in the collections are peer-reviewed by members, which gives you a better idea of how good they are. MERLOT also has a number of other neat features like:

  • Snapshots: For each resource, the author or submitter can indicate tips on how best to use the resource
  • Communities/portals for various subjects that include not only the MERLOT resources for that particular subjects but also other web resources not included in the collection, a community of editors who contribute content, tips on teaching, and a showcase for best materials
  • The aforementioned RSS feeds of new resources added to MERLOT but I also learned that MERLOT's made web pages of them already that you link to from course sites (and Blackboard, WebCT and Desire2Learn all have building blocks that integrate them)

All in all, quite useful. I'm hoping that I can get this in our database list, work up seminars for faculty (maybe in conjunction with our academic tech or learning & teaching folks) to let them know how much is out there for use in their courses (and for their students to use to add to their presentations and projects and study repetoires). If we ever do outreach portals or subject guides that include theses kinds of resources the RSS feeds will also come in handy. And if I can get going on the resource recommendations for various repositories then MERLOT will be another source of material and another place to peer review.

So I succumbed to the iPod lure and bought a 1 Gb Shuffle in Friday and tranferred all the music I had on my personal computer to Itunes on my work computer and then downloaded the kickier subset to my Shuffle today. Because my home system sucked so badly I'd kind of forgotten I had some of this music (hello again Lamb and my older, like college era, and newer club favorites), so I'm quite enjoying hearing a lot of my music in one place–so far so good. The Shuffle is decent for my commuting/walking needs though I wish I could make custom playlists without convolutions. But as long as I am happy with a random subset of my music or an in order subset then I am all good. I decided that I'd rather spend the hundreds of dollars I don't have on a future handheld that will give me all my contacts, email, calendar, storage space for documents and the ability to create and edit Office documents, as well as play (a limited amount of) mp3s and video. Mmm. . . hello Palm LifeDrive (maybe in the near future when the tax refund comes through).

In the meantime on the personal information maangement (PIM) front, I signed up for a free account on Elgg, which bills itself as a "learning landscape platform" which seems to mean that I can get a blog with tags, an aggregator, a space to upload files (the bit I'm most geeked about), a calendar, and a way to connect with other people who are intereseted in learning about the same things I am. It's also got interseting community blog features a la Livejournal as well so if I want to get together a group that doesn't have access to Confluence by some means then it might be a good alternative.

Ok, so clearly the new, new blog idea hasn’t gone down so well. I’m officially abandoning this blog until futher notice and if I do any posting at all it will probably be at Mmm. . .brain, the WordPress.com blog.

Finally back after work and laziness ate my life and I’m thinking that if I’m going to talk about blogging and all, I guess it would be good (and less hypocritical) if I actually did it.

Good stuff I’ve found in catching up on my Bloglines account: http://www.bloglines.com/blog/camand