Introducing The Source
XML-based Office Document Standards (Note: PDF)
From the JISC website
Government agencies and the public sector in general are increasingly being required to provide easy access to electronic documents to all stakeholders, while at the same time not requiring them to purchase a particular software product in order to view or edit these documents. In effect, this means that achieving interoperability through the tacit acceptance of proprietary office file formats is becoming less acceptable.
The requirement to provide long term availability and archiving of documents is also encouraging a move away from proprietary file formats. There is an urgent need for co-ordinated, strategically informed action over the next five years. JISC and the wider further and higher education community, as part of the public sector, will be required to address these issues with respect to how they deal with the publication and transfer of electronic documents and files.
See also Mike's post - "Standard Fare - ODF, OOXML, and the future of New Zealand"
What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies and implications for education (Note: PDF)
From the JISC website
Within 15 years the Web has grown into a global information space with more than a billion users. Currently, it is both returning to its roots as a read/write tool and also entering a new, more social and participatory phase - a new, ‘improved’ Web version 2.0. This report establishes that Web 2.0 is more than a set of ‘cool’ and new technologies and services and investigates the substance behind the hyperbole to report on the implications for the UK Higher and Further Education sector, with a special focus on collection and preservation activities within libraries.
Setting the Foundations of Digital Libraries
From D-Lib Magazine, March/April 2007
This article presents the core parts of 'The Digital Library Manifesto'. The Manifesto was produced by members of the DELOS Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries to be used as a springboard for future foundational research and development in the domain of Digital Libraries.
Enhancing Digital Information Access in Public Libraries (Note: PDF)
From the E-LIS website
The purpose of this article is to explore the impact of public digital library resources on urban residents, to elucidate the current usage patterns of public digital library resources/services and levels of satisfaction with the resources/content in urban digital libraries and make recommendations as to steps that would improve service to this population.
Interactive Content and convergence: implications for the Information Society (Note: PDF)
From the European Commission website
Europe’s economy is beginning to reap the benefits of ever-more interlinked and interoperable online technologies, but many obstacles remain to be overcome.
Credibility of Content and the Future of Research, Learning, and Publishing in the Digital Environment
From the Journal of Electronic Publishing, Winter 2007
Publishers and librarians need to understand the ways in which this generation of learners finds and evaluates information, and the environments in which these students work. Through a focus on these issues, we can begin to reconceive the role of information professionals in this new environment and the implications for scholarly communication and publishing.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Introducing The Source
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The Source is a weekly current awareness bulletin, sourced from the internet and compiled for the information needs of National Library staff.
It covers a wide range of library-related topics including: Digital Libraries and Digitisation, ICT, Education and School Libraries, Public and National Libraries' issues and innovations, Knowledge Management and Knowledge Economy.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
You might think that as a technologist in the library industry, a certain portion of my day is spent contemplating standards, and compliance therewith. You'd be right.
Standards are not news to anyone in the information technology field – or any other field, for that matter. But the added complexity here comes with our task at the National Library. Acquisition, preservation, and display become a little bit easier when using standards. Same goes for interoperability between systems. Ask me some time about having to connect an e-commerce system to a mainframe order-fulfillment system using an intermediary written in FoxPro (shudder). Better yet, don't.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure access to our resources for everyone, including those who have yet to be born. This makes the need for standardisation and forward-thinking quite clear. This is why I was recently involved in a day-long meeting at Standards New Zealand, where a group of 26 governmental representatives formulated our thoughts on a high-profile standards debate: the OASIS OpenDocument format (ODF) vs. Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML). It's not so much a debate as a question of appropriateness: Why have two standards for office documents?
I've read quite a bit on the subject, but this post explains the situation quite well. It is a little biased, but the writer brings up some valid points on why anyone should care about the difference between two office document formats. This debate is currently taking place world-wide. In fact, India last week voted against accepting the Microsoft entry as a standard.
Some very intelligent people attended the meeting at Standards New Zealand. At points the debate was, ahem, spirited, but overall I learned much – including what other governmental bodies were doing or intended to do in the XML and standardisation spaces. These discussions will continue, with the facilitation of Archives New Zealand and the State Services Commission.
The meeting concluded with an informal poll, which put the government sector's opinion against OOXML acceptance. In turn, our views were brought to a larger meeting informing how New Zealand will vote in the standardisation fray. Apparently some heavy hitters attended that one. The final vote is due to occur before the end of the month. UPDATE: The New Zealand vote on OOXML has been cast. UPDATE, AGAIN: The ISO vote has closed with OOXML approval failing. The ConsortiumInfo.org Standards Blog describes this with a bit more readability.
Taking part in this process, I'm reminded there's more to worry about than the programming-language-flavour-of-the-month or latest interface frippery. We need to build things for today, tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that...
Monday, August 27, 2007
If you get kids to a library by offering them email and video games - might you be able to move them over to the shelves, and then to the issues desk?
A recent article by Lora Pabst on StarTribune.com looks at an afterschool programme being run at a public library in Hennepin County, Minnesota with this goal in mind.
Lora Pabst, 'A dance, dance revolution? If they get, get education' - StarTribune.com
Called 'Teens, Tech, Youth and Learning', the staff hope that the programme, which brings together video games, computers, tutors and books
"will attract teens who often socialize at the library and expose them to technology - including how to e-mail and use a digital camera - that they might not have at home. And while they're at the library, the hope is that maybe they'll pick up a book or two."
We often talk about digital natives - the 'new generation' (which usually seems to mean 'people younger than the people I'm having this conversation with') who have never experienced life without internet, mobile phones etc (see for example the stats in yesterday's post, from an Ofcom survey of British communications market ). Yet this programme is targeted at kids who don't have access to these things - it's an important gap that we can help fill.
Whenever somebody asked me, what is my job - exactly? I used to be at a loss of words. I could not point to any existing common job description or well-known piece of work and say that's my job. How do I explain all the technical intricacies of our work? It's difficult to simplify.
Over time, I have come to say that if you consider a merger of interests between the fields of Computer Science and Library Science, that's where my job domain lies. That usually sets the tone for further elaborations.
Part of our work is about finding ways to make the library collections accessible online. The keywords here should probably be accessible & online. On the one hand it sounds like an easy job - just chuck everything on some server and link to all that from a web page, but on the other hand there's more - descriptions, metadata, searching, finding, browsing, displaying (including audio), collaborate, information architecture, design, technology and so on. When one gets into details of how to do all these effectively, there are book volumes worth of details.
Now, we are getting lots of new requirements from the latest trend - the social Web 2.0. We will get requests for tagging, user reviews, ratings and any other sort of user-contributed-content. For the majority of users, the web used to be about listening - now its about having a conversation.
It is a very demanding environment to work in, but also very exciting. As Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot would have it - "It is the brain, the little gray cells on which one must rely".
Aditya (Eddie) P. Anand is a Technical Analyst in the Innovation Centre
Friday, August 24, 2007
Katie Allen of the Guardian has reported on a survey of Britain's communications market by regulator Ofcom, which shows that not only has the time that Brits spend online doubled since 2002, but also reveals an 'apparent feminisation of the internet':
"Ever since it kicked off in the early 90s the web has been male-dominated. For the first time this year women are spending more time on the internet than men," says Peter Phillips, strategy and market developments partner at Ofcom, referring to web users in the 25 to 49 age bracket.
"It's a big shift and has implications for the kind of content that content providers want to have on the internet."
Ofcom pins part of this shift to the increasing number of sites targeted towards women - a trend that might bode well for the recently launched social networking site for professional women, Damsels in Success.
Some other key findings from the report:
- Britons are the most active web users in Europe and spend an average 36 minutes each online every day.
- EBay, and then Bebo, are the two sites Britons spend the most time on.
- Two-thirds of children do not believe they could easily live without a mobile and the internet.
- Almost one in six 13- to 15-year-olds have their own webcam.
- Some 16% of over-65s use the web. They surf for 42 hours every month, more than any other age group (teenagers are racking up 25 hours per month). One quarter of UK web users are over 50.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Blogger boasts ‘create a blog in 3 easy steps.’ But when our web team suggested we pilot a technical library blog, ‘create a blog in 20 collaborative steps’ would have been more appropriate.
As the name of this blog alludes, it will be about the use of technology in libraries. That may include anything from our web development projects to technical standards such as Dublin Core, to open source software. We think a forum to discuss the experiences and thoughts of some National Library techies will be helpful to other libraries or individuals tackling the same issues.
Although we aim to reach the customers and employees of New Zealand libraries we also want to make contact with other tech savvy readers who are interested in how technology is being used to surface information. With the words ‘Library 2.0’ on the lips of libraries everywhere, many years after our customers have already created and recreated the world of social software, the Library realised it needed to be where our customers are. Apparently you are here. Now we are too.
Creating the Blog.
When a blog was first suggested I excitedly put my hand up to be an organiser. Blogging as part of my job? Sounds good. As a blogger in my personal life and an avid blog reader, I believe that the informal yet peer reviewed nature of blogging is democratising the way information is published and consumed. Also, blogging is fun. But blogging as a staff member of a government department threw up constraints and issues I hadn't expected.
Blogging as part of an organisation is obviously different to blogging as an individual, but how to deal with the issues this creates is not always clear. Freelance writer Paul Chin has a thorough list of suggestions for corporate bloggers in his article Avoid Common Blogging Blunders. Overall Paul's suggestions mirror the issues raised in the Library when planning the blog. So if you want to start your own library blog these are the lessons we learned:
Make a plan. Even though blogs are considered an intimate or informal medium, the pilot project had to be approached with as much documentation and strategy as another other website development project in the Library. This we found, was a good thing, focusing our ideas, gaining support and starting with the goals and guides firmly in mind.
Stay on topic. In the informal world of blogs it easy to stray into irrelevant or inappropriate material. Small courtesies like checking with a colleague before you post about them or their project, are just as important as following the organisation’s code of conduct.
Be yourself. Should we post under our own names? Maybe just a first names? What about our job titles? As one of the reasons for blogging was to communicate on a more informal level and show the human side of the National Library, we decided that it was important for the writing team to stand by their words. At the same time as owning our words, we decided it was important to make sure the Library didn't. This blog therefore includes a disclaimer to let readers know the opinions expressed are those of the writers.
In the end it appears that common sense and courtesy is key to keeping your job and social invitations from colleagues. I hope that the ground work in setting up this blog will flow into interesting and focused posts. I also hope that we have a part in achieving the creators of Blogger's vision for blogs: “helping people have their own voice on the web and organizing the world's information from the personal perspective.”