Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Statistically Improbable Phrases says "...Statistically Improbable Phrases, or "SIPs", show you the interesting, distinctive, or unlikely phrases that occur in the text of books in Search Inside the Book. Our computers scan the text of all books in the Search Inside program. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to how many times it occurs across all Search Inside books, that phrase is a SIP in that book.

Once we identify a phrase that is statistically improbable:

For books where the phrase is a SIP, we provide an exact count of and link to the occurrences in those books.
For books where the phrase merely appears in the book, we provide a link to those occurrences
We also display a link to search for the phrase"

A search on Seeing What's Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change and many others will result in SIPs appearing at the top of the page. They work rather like subject headings for which there was no metadata. Interesting.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Google is dying; death by a billion cuts

I recently heard a comparison of the way Yahoo can add information when it wants the information in its database -consume an XML file and affect the search rankings vs. the way Google tries to add the same information -consume webpage after webpage and rely on their algorithm to create relevant rankings. It may be that the model Google uses has limits and it may have reached them. Google-watch says just that. An interesting view: Google is dying

Monday, March 28, 2005

Libraries try 'gentle nudge' to spur returns

Lake County this month became the third Central Florida county to seek help from a company that specializes in collecting library fines and overdue items.

Lake turned to a collection agency that uses friendly phone calls and letters to give patrons with overdue materials an encouraging prod rather than a sharp elbow to the ribs that comes with a tougher approach. The soft approach has paid off in Brevard, which has collected more than $400,000 in fines and overdue materials since contracting with Unique Management Services in 1997.

Article Here

Friday, March 25, 2005

In 2014...

In 2014 we'll get ALL information in a new way. Here's a look at the possible the future of search -and more. (8 min flash movie.)


Google Print has started returning hits

If you type "book" and then a title or subject you will get results. Here is a shot of the results I got by entering "book library management"

Google Trendmapper

From Seth's Blog

This is a cool service that let's you watch the google hits of a phrase or site over time. That's interesting. What's really interesting, though, is the list of phrases that people are watching. Some are not surprising (Joi Ito) and some are just sort of puzzling (ninja--did they not understand what this is for?)

Most interesting of all, though, is the way a small community of bloggers and webheads are always doing the next great thing. If you have a brand or a site or a cause, you should do this. But how does the word about it disseminate? Watch the link below to see who else is tracking...

Main List of Searches (most interresting)

Home Page


From Information Today

Take a look at Consumerpedia

Who uses our catalogs? Our patrons. So, why are they built for and by librarians? By having the community involved in how our catalogs are structured, they might actually make sense to the people who use it. Each library catalog will be unique to the community that helps to build it, with their own (un)structured taxonomies. Sure, there can be some underlying structure (I'm not a totally crazed lunatic), but why not contributions from our patrons in the form of open tagging structures to add to the existing catalog. It could work...
"Consumerpedia has no built in category hierarchy, but rather uses a unique user-driven hierarchical tagging system. This lets users create and define the relationships between different topics, helping others easily discover and browse related information...the Consumerpedia system is designed so that it evolves based upon how actual users wish to use it, with the sole organizing principle being how helpful it is to others. "

The Handheld Librarian

I just stumbled across a blog that may be valuable to us:

The Handheld Librarian
Librarians sharing news, applications, and ideas of interest with others working with handheld computer technology.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Skype (VOIP) at the Library

"Most libraries now have access to the Internet but not all are able to afford a toll free line to help patrons living outside their area code. The free or low fee long distance services could be a pretty attractive option for libraries looking to provide this type of service or to expand existing services."

If Skype takes off and becomes as popular as IM, it could help with virtual reference services even for those near the library.

Link Here

Second-generation RFID tags on the way

RFID specialist Impinj will come out with tags and readers based on the so-called "Gen 2" spec for RFID in the second quarter, which will make it the first company to release products for this standard, William Colleran, Impinj's CEO, said at PC Forum, an event taking place this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The new spec essentially expands and enhances the current RFID specifications, Colleran added. The company's Speedway Reader, coming out in the second quarter, can read 1,500 tags a second, he said. The Gen 2 spec also gives the person controlling the tags the ability to kill them, thereby helping with privacy concerns. The tags can also be read at a distance of 30 feet, which is further away than current RFID tags can be read.

Colleran, like many RFID proponents, promises the market will be huge. In 2004, tens of millions of RFID tags shipped. By 2008, 80 million will be shipped annually, and each tag will cost between 5 cents and 8 cents to make.

(By comparison, tags today cost between 15 cents and $100 each, according to In-Stat/MDR.)

"There is no reason 5 cent tags aren't possible," Colleran said. "This is the first market ever for consumable silicon."

Seattle-based Impinj grew out of research conducted at CalTech in the '90s under the auspices of tech luminary Carver Mead. The company has raised $50 million in venture capital, and in 2004 it garnered revenue of $2 million.

EDUCAUSE | Resources | Net Generation Students and Libraries

An interesting ebook titled Educating the Net Generation is available for free from Educause. Check out chapter 13, Net Generation Students and Libraries, by Joan Lippincott of the Coalition for Networked Information. Here is a quote:

What are some of the major disconnects between many of today's academic libraries and Net Gen students? The most common one is students' dependence on Google or similar search engines for discovery of information resources rather than consultation of library Web pages, catalogs, and databases as the main source of access. Since students often find library-sponsored resources difficult to figure out on their own, and they are seldom exposed to or interested in formal instruction in information literacy, they prefer to use the simplistic but responsive Google. Another disconnect is that digital library resources often reside outside the environment that is frequently the digital home of students' coursework, namely, the course management system, or CMS. Library services are often presented in the library organization context rather than in a user-centered mode. Libraries emphasize access to information but generally do not have facilities, software, or support for student creation of new information products. All of these disconnects can be remedied if appropriate attention is paid to the style of Net Gen students.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Ebooks and OCR come to the mobile phone

In the latest versions, cell-phone novels are downloaded in short installments and run on handsets as Java-based applications. You're free to browse as though you're in a bookstore, whether you're at home, in your office or on a commuter train. A whole library can be tucked away in your cell phone - a gadget you carry around anyway. "You can read whenever you have a spare moment, and you don't even need to use both hands," says Taro Matsumura, a 24-year-old graduate student who sometimes reads essays and serial novels on his phone...

Link Here

Friday, March 18, 2005

It's all good: "Getting Thousands of Hits" - Ban ThisMeme

It's all good: "Getting Thousands of Hits" - Ban This Meme

Our colleague Lorcan Dempsey's post to his blog yesterday was about library strategic plans and searching from library web sites. One commenter to Lorcan's posting worries about (my words, not his) dumbing down the library's search interface to the simplicity offered by Google, fearing the result would be "thousands of hits."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Project Management - Don't Do These Things

Don’t believe everything you are told about a potential project’s benefits. Investigate for yourself and plan accordingly.

Don’t take on a project that doesn’t have a strong sponsor that is committed to seeing the project succeed.

Don't forget that most project assumptions should also be risks.

Don't set project expectations that are higher than reality can deliver.

Don't try to define reality too early in the project planning phase.

Don’t define solutions that do not address needs.

Don’t forget to manage customer expectations.

Don’t forget to thank your team members for the good job they are doing.

Don’t be a whiner. A leader never whines and a whiner never leads.

Don’t forget that leaders need to have credibility.

Don’t forget that credibility requires honesty, dedication, commitment, and capability.

Don’t forget that people are the number one reason for project failure.

Don’t forget that empowering teams is a management function.

Don’t allow others to influence your attitude. Be positive in the face of adversity.

Don’t forget to have fun while working on your projects.

Don’t forget that Project Management is mostly art and some science.

Wearable hub for communications in the home

Originally uploaded by dwbooker.
Siemens has developed a communications device which recognizes voice commands and allows its user to control home communications and automation systems. The device can be worn like a badge or pin on clothes and transmits commands via Bluetooth to a central home communications server where a software converts the words into commands for the hooked-up systems.

The wearer can, for example, control the intercom system of a house, communicate with a visitor standing at the front door and instruct the master locking system to open the door. S/he can also accept phone calls and conduct phone conversations over a loudspeaker. A connection with an e-mail inbox on a PC is also envisioned. The voice recognition software reads incoming e-mails and recites the text.

The program doesnít have to be "trained" to recognize the userís voice. It can recognize 30,000 words, and predefined commands can be spoken. Beisdes, the software recognizes semantically linked words from longer sentences.

Computers in Libraries Summary-Day One

Here are some notes on the 1st afternoons sessions:

Things to watch for in the next few years:
- secure broadband wireless will be huge
- low-power batteries on many things
- real-time infrastructure... emerging
- service-oriented architecture - perfect compliment for how libraries actually run

Hardware innovations in the next decade:
- "Living in a video game" - life might seem like this
- A bridge for physical and electronic worlds
- Smart pills, nanotechnology, etc.
- RFID - interesting challenge
- Trusted computing

Mobile and wireless in the next decade:
- continued integration between phones and PDAs
- mesh network - your wireless thing will know where you are
- mobile commerce - being able to buy articles online

computer human interactionin the next decade:
- biometrics, speech, handwriting, eye position
- head-mounted displays
- natural language, taxonomies, etc - search logic
- GIS - so your device can tell you where something is

Data Analytics in the next decade:
- advanced functionality
- comment - librarians are text based learners. That's why only 20% of the population uses libraries. It's a design thing...
- libraries need to figure out streaming media (CDs and DVDs will go away soon)
- sending a picture of someone to Google to find information about them... wow!

System development in the next decade:
- XML will get big
- Integration with other systems will become more commonplace

Other things mentioned:

* People will spend more time interacting with people in the electronic world
* 93% of kids 19 or younger currently have at least two IM addresses...
* Connected society - wearable tech. smart phones - outsell laptops, phones, PDA, etc.
* Location-based services - like wireless grabs your screen and puts you on a hotel's webpage - libraries should be able to do that, too.
* Handsets will get huge - focus on applications
* e-learning and distance education will get huge... some usiversities already have 60% of students as distance students
* every university will have federated search and open url technology within 2 years, public libs within 4 years - they'll need to have them to survive.
* shared ideas (intranets) shared creation - workflow content management, web conferencing shared presence - IM, video conferencing


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Primary Research Group has Released a New Study: Best Practices of Public Library Information Technology Directors

This special report from Primary Research Group is based on exhaustive interviews with information technology directors and other critical staff involved in IT decision-making from the Princeton Public Library, Minneapolis Public Library, Evansville Public Library, Santa Monica Public Library, Boston Public Library, Columbus Metropolitan Public Library, San Francisco Public Library, Seattle Public Library, and the Denver Public Library.

Some of the report’s findings:

Public libraries feel their mission has in many ways been transformed by new technologies, particularly internet access, and that the key to winning greater support for public libraries is educating the public in the use of these technologies. Virtually all of the librarians in this report offer advice and insights for their peers, but all seem to agree on one thing: the public’s appetite for internet and database access is growing and virtually insatiable.

The public library’s peculiar combination of free internet access and knowledgeable tutors and guides has made it an indisputable draw. Many libraries have had success in technology-related bond issues for new libraries or for refurbishing old libraries, even as operating budgets are forced down by uncertain public finances.

Libraries that are using RFID automated book check out technology appear to be divided into two camps: those which hesitate in implementing the technology, and those which essentially limit or eliminate non-automated check out, literally compelling patrons to adjust to the new technology. All of those that had taken the latter approach were glad that they had.

In database licensing, many public libraries appear to believe that they can negotiate individually as well or nearly as well as they can in consortium. We feel that this is a ripe are for library scientists and public library associations to do some serious research to actually quantify the truth or falsity of these perceptions. Whatever the case, apart from some regional and state-level consortiums, public libraries, even larger ones, appear to seriously lag their counterparts in academic libraries in their enthusiasm for consortium arrangements.

While public libraries may lag in the use of consortiums, they are surprisingly advanced in their efforts to digitize their special collections. Many public libraries are further along in the digitization process than their counterparts in small and medium sized academic libraries.

After a slow start, electronic books are making a significant impact, led by organizations such as NetLibrary and Overdrive, whose innovative technology and approach to ebook management appear to be winning many converts.

The libraries in the small sample seemed quite interested in expanding in-house telecommunications capacities, enabling librarians to communicate with one another, and with patrons, while they walked around the library. Vocera, a voice over IP application for libraries, was a coveted product.

Increasingly, public libraries are viewing themselves as places to introduce new technologies to the public. Centers that introduce new software and hardware have increasingly become part of the public library mission and are major selling points in raising new funds for libraries.

RFID Zapper

Originally uploaded by dwbooker.
For the incredibly privacy-conscious (or those with something to hide), the TagZapper by West End Laboratories is a handheld device to wipe RFID transmitting devices.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Hand Bookbindings - Beautiful!

The craft and art of binding books by hand was vividly chronicled in an exhibition at Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Entitled "Hand Bookbindings: Plain and Simple to Grand and Glorious," the exhibition ran from November 10, 2002 through April 20, 2003 in the Library’s main gallery. While conventional wisdom holds that books cannot be judged by their covers, visitors had a chance to do just that from the most humble of volumes to the most luxurious; from the monastic manuscripts of the twelfth century to the special editions of the twentieth.

Now that the exhibition has run its course, it has been turned into an online display of over two hundred bindings.

Portals in Libraries: Library Technology and Planning for Change

Library websites are typically organized around library functions (interlibrary loan, circulation, reference) or existing information stores (the card catalog, print indexes). Web-savvy users who are not familiar with traditional library organization methods do not view our websites as transparent or able to meet their information-seeking requirements.

Great article Here

International Children's Digital Library

What a dry name for a fun site. This is a product of the University of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Lab where they study, among other things, effective visualization on the Web. Try this site where 592 children's books can be searched by keyword (language works), location, length, color -wild search interface! Then the display is amazing -try the comic book and spiral displays. LINK

Google's new tool is Scumware!

Google has released a new toolbar that changes a website's content to include links to sites it deems appropriate. Strange Logic undertook a user analysis session to understand how the average web surfer felt about this.

When asked, "do you feel more inclined or less inclined to search at Google now that you are aware of the toolbar functionality", 84% of the survey panel said they are less inclined than before being made aware of the toolbar.

"The most interesting statistic is that 100% of those interviewed say it exhibits the same negative credentials as scumware applications", says Jason Duke Managing Director of, a British search engine technology company.

The full details of the study are available

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Kameleon Bluetooth

Equipped with a Kameleon Tag, any object can communicate wireless with a standard mobile phone user (or a PDA user) using the Kameleon version, innovative and improved, of Bluetooth.

The user can detect the object equipped with the Kameleon Tag from his mobile phone and catch in “one click”, the information associated automatically, intuitively and instantaneously. visu_benefices

For example, anyone will be able to watch the multimedia content associated to a billboard, a merchandise display, a work in a museum…

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fore-edge painting

Ahh, very beautiful. Books that are painted on the edges and when fanned reveal the painting. Take a look at this QuickTime movie. So cool...

Container Think

This article from Outsell, about Bloggers and Apple Trade Secrets really speaks to librarians, A&I (abstracting and indexing) and other Information Specialists. Outsell says, "This is classic information industry “ContainerThink,” behavior that has hampered the industry with every new wave of technology. Publishers and authors think of themselves as being in the book business, or the magazine business, or the news business, and have a hard time separating what they do from the medium they do it in...The future the people who see beyond the containers.

Burn the Catalog

Interesting rant from a Swathmore professor on the state of academic library catalogs:

Electronic catalogs, wherever you go in the academic world, have become a horrible crazy-quilt assemblage of incompatible interfaces and vendor-constrained listings.

I’m to the point where I think we’d be better off to just utterly erase our existing academic catalogs and forget about backwards-compatibility, lock all the vendors and librarians and scholars together in a room, and make them hammer out electronic research tools that are Amazon-plus, Amazon without the intent to sell books but with the intent of guiding users of all kinds to the books and articles and materials that they ought to find, a catalog that is a partner rather than an obstacle in the making and tracking of knowledge.

Complete rant Here

Google Web Search Added to Blog

I'm just sayin'.

Search corporate RSS feeds

Now a search of corporate RSS feeds. It is still in beta and not fully populated yet but a good idea.

I found this through Reserach Buzz -- one of my favorites.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Firefox adds Merriam-Webster

From ReserachBuzz... "Firefox just keeps on foxing. Merriam-Webster has announced that they've added online tools for Firefox. The new tools are available at . They include a search box plug-in, a right-click search, and a sidebar."

Friday, March 04, 2005

Harsh words about OPACs

"...interacting with the OPAC just makes me realize how completely worthless of a tool we have created. It really is a monster that we have created that we can no longer control." Read the whole article and some suggestions for improvement at TechnoBiblio

Thursday, March 03, 2005

New York Public Library Digital Gallery

On Thursday, the library launched its NYPL Digital Gallery, which offers 275,000 images online, from Civil War photographs to renowned manuscripts to early American maps. People can download the images for free, providing they are for personal use.

IBM Helpdesk

Something to think about:
At IBM we are the Help Desk

Library loans books on iPod

Wired News reports that the South Huntington Public Library on Long Island, New York, has become one of the first public libraries in the country to loan out iPod shuffles. For the past three weeks, the library ran a pilot program using the portable MP3 devices to store audio books downloaded from the Apple iTunes Music Store.

Ken Weil, the library's director, said that the library had been looking for a way to share digital audio content with its patrons for some time, and that until recently, the existing iPods were far too expensive. The library now stocks both the 1GB and 512MB iPod shuffle which easily store their audio books 150 to 350 MB MP3 files.

Joseph Latini, the library's assistant director, said that most titles on CDs cost the library around $75, whereas in MP3 format, they range from $15 to $25. "In the end, obviously, we're literally saving money," he said. "The units are paying for themselves."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Clustered but not cluttered results

I attended the NFAIS* Conference in Philadelphia this week. It was an excellent conference. One of the topics was: What should search engines do besides search? Here's one that may have found a way to add value. Clusty Yes, I know, we've seen clustered search results before and they were just confusing. This seems to have overcome that hurdle. This is a product of Vivisimo, which also now has this same folder approach instead of that spider thing they used to return. (You can still see what clustered results look like w/o folders or hit numbers at Mooter.)

* It used to stand for National Federation of Abstracting and Indexing Services but now it's just NFAIS.

Florida high school puts the library online with Questia

High-tech high school puts the library online
By Sandra Hong
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
While some teachers and librarians worry about the trend toward online resources, Centennial is expanding its reach of Web-based learning.

Last fall, the school cleared out the books in the library and converted them into virtual form.

Through the Questia online library, students now have unlimited access to 52,000 books and 989,000 journals and magazines. They can power-search all the materials, highlight and take notes in the margins.

Best of all, teachers said, there's never a shortage of resources.

Centennial was among the first in the state to use Questia schoolwide. Now it's piloting a new classroom version that allows teachers to create and assign lessons online. Students follow the lessons at their own pace, take tests and turn in homework via the Web.

Principal Trina Trimm said the school's move toward Web-based learning was a way to capture students' attention.

'We knew we wanted to expand the circulation of the library,' she said. 'Why not use this love of technology to connect them to the library?'

Other schools are taking notice, and Monday several administrators from Palm Beach and Seminole counties visited Centennial for a look at the new programs.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Google's Digitization Project: What Difference Will it Make?

This was posted to the Dig_Ref listserv.

Fister, Barbara. Google's Digitization Project: What Difference Will it Make? Library Issues, 25(4). March 2005.

Note: Mountainside Press (the publisher of Library Issues) is making this article freely available without subscription through March 7.
After that it reverts to subscriber-only access.