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February 25, 2005

Archives in the age of copyright and copyfight

I tune in to CBC Radio One every morning while sipping my tea thanks to live streaming radio (though I hate the fact that they've adopted Windows Media Player as their standard - tisk tisk tisk!). I heard a great piece yesterday on the current state of archives and 'the cultural record' vis a vis copyright on The Current.

The discussion focused on one of the most celebrated documentaries ever made on the American civil rights movement called Eyes on the Prize. The 6 parts of the film trace the history of the civil rights movement using archival footage and interviews with participants in the movement. However, because the rights to much of the archival material used in the series has expired, you'll be hard-pressed to get your hands on a copy because there could be lawsuits for copyright infringement if it's shown publicly.

Listen to The Current: Part 2, from Thursday February 24, 2005

In response to this, the group Downhill Battle has launched its own offensive by encouraging nationwide screenings of the film, citing 'fair use' to get around the issue of infringement. They are also encouraging the use of file sharing networks (p2p) to distribute the film. Wikipedia has an entry about Eyes on the Prize and some background on the efforts of Downhill Battle to make it available.

It's a sad day when the collective 'we' lose rights and access to our own histories due to the increasing privatization of archival (and other) materials. Copyright seems to be getting so out of control that all that will be left for public consumption is a homogenized view of the world put forth by those who can afford to 'own' it. Who will have the resources and capital to purchase these rights? Certainly not the documentary filmmakers, archives, libraries or schools.

Posted by Sherri at 5:44 PM

CiteULike Searches TOCs of 6488 journals

CiteULike is a tool that I've been keeping my eye on. It's a free service that helps academics share, store, and organise academic papers. It's an an online citation manager with the added perk of promoting resource discovery through tagging and other basic features of what some of the latest and greatest social software apps have to offer.

Now CitULike has implemented a browsing feature for current TOCs of 6488 (current count) scholarly journals.

Example journal: Library Review

Example article: A portrait of Olas as a young information literacy tutorial

CiteULike will also list the tags used by anyone who has added a given article to their database, and list users who have access to the article through their respective libraries. Links to fulltext are offered via IngentaConnect and DOI. Of course it also supports RSS so anyone can add the feed for their favourite journals to their aggregator.

UPDATE: A comment left by Carolyn prompted me to delve deeper into CiteULike, and in doing that, I've encountered a couple of things of note.

Adding citations when authenticated through a proxy server

I've had varying levels of success adding articles to my library when authenticated through our ezproxy server from home, and not in my office (where, obviously, the ezproxy address wouldn't be written into the url). I wasn't able to add a citation from Science Direct while authenticated, but could once I closed to session and tried to add the citation as a 'guest user.' However, I just tried adding an article from JSTOR while authenticated, and it worked. Puzzling. But if we're thinking about promoting on-campus to faculty and students, it's something to consider and might warrant further investigation and testing.

Here's something I can't quite figure out: CiteULike has a feature called "Who has this article in their libraries?" It lists which users have access to a given citation at their institution. Here is a link to the citation I added from Science Direct while not authenticated (a guest user):

Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age

Notice that it says that I have access to this item at my library. I'm not sure how this all works, because when I added it, I was not authenticated and searching as a guest: therefore no access to fulltext.

Supported databases & targets

CiteULike lists a number of supported databases that, when used with the provided bookmarklet, will import citations fairly seamlessly. The list of supported databases and targets is comprised primarily of scientific and medical sources, though if you choose to add a citation from a non-supported source, you can enter details manually.

What about RSS feed for specific tags or authors?

Yes and yes.

See the xml feed for the tag 'literacy' for my library, below. You can also create feeds for tags that would include everyone's libraries.


I don't have many citations in my library yet, but here is an xml feed for the author 'Balas'


CiteULike makes it very easy to add feeds to your favourite aggregator by including the orange 'rss' button on all pages where it's an option. If yo u'd like to watch a number of different libraries, authors and/or tags, you can combine as many as you wish into the CiteULike-provided 'watch' feature, and then create an xml feed from that watchlist. Handy!

Also does it let you export to RefWorks?

I can't say for sure, since I don't have access to RefWorks. But I remember from a time when I did have access that BibTex (the export format supported by CiteULike) was a supported filter for certain scientic databases. However, as for importing a batch of citations from CitULike in BibTex format . . . I don't know. If anyone out there with refWorks access would like to try it out and report back, please do! Carolyn?

Posted by Sherri at 10:53 AM

Michael Gorman's take on the 'blog people'

Whoa! Things are heating up in Libraryland. There's a flurry of activity happening on the LITA-L listserv (viewing archives requires registration) concerning Michael Gorman's comments in Library Journal on

" . . . Blog People (or their subclass who are interested in computers and the glorification of information) have a fanatical belief in the transforming power of digitization and a consequent horror of, and contempt for, heretics who do not share that belief."

To back up, Gorman's article, entitled "Revenge of the Blog People!", arose from the purported backlash against his Dec. 17 '04 LA Times commentary "Google and God's Mind; The problem is, information isn't knowledge" (requires access to ProQuest Newspapers) from (library?) bloggers.

I'm not going to engage in the debate other than to say that Gorman's comments are alarming and deeply troubling. He has claimed that the LJ articles was meant to be satirical, but I fail to see the satire/humour/wit. If anything, this article demonstrates how out-of-touch Gorman is with the culture of blogging and bloggers, and more specifically, the value and place for blogging in library circles. Even Slashdot and Instapundit have picked up the story. Is this the kind of publicity we need? I don't think so . . .

"Honestly, all this does is give ammunition to the people who say that libraries and librarians are obsolete in the digital age. I've always disagreed with that position -- but if Mr. Gorman is a typical specimen I'll have to rethink my stance, given that, judging by his comments, Gorman isn't even very good at using Google." [via Instapundit]

UPDATE: George Needham over at It's all good has written a hilarious satire of Gormangate: Revenge of the Codex People. In fact, the larger discussion of resistance to new technologies brings back memories of an exercise that my former supervisor and I used to do when training librarians on virtual/chat reference. I'm glad I remembered this, it might come in handy again in the near future (anecdotal evidence: it's pretty darn effective!).

Posted by Sherri at 9:28 AM

February 22, 2005

Google Scholar and RedLightGreen need a sandbox

There's been much buzz in the past couple of days about Google Scholar's Scholar Preferences, which provides support for Institutional Access. Probably a hundred or more librarians (like myself) have already bombarded Google Scholar with emails to have their respective institutions added to the list. Many people have noted, and rightly so, that Google Scholar will eventually bump up against issues of scale: who and how many institutions will make it to the coveted institutional list?

My suggestion is that Google Scholar and RedLightGreen get a sandbox. And play. I'm not advocating that the two necessarily amalgamate in any way. I'm thinking that Google Scholar could take some pointers from the way that RLG customizes searches to local institutions.

'Get It' customization from RedLightGreen

Unless of course Google Scholar intends to maintain the list as-is. I'm hoping that won't be the case, and that they take Paul up on his idea.

Posted by Sherri at 11:49 AM

February 21, 2005

Research Buddy Extension for Firefox not working

I was excited to read about Research Buddy, one of the neatest-sounding Firefox extensions I've come across yet. Theoretically, anyway. The plugin is designed to be used in the following way:

I have installed this extension many times on different computers and have never been able to get it to work. Whenever I try to save something and then view my archive, I get the same error: a blank page that says No Citations for this topic

A quick search of Google returned one reference that cites the error, but I can't find any answers or solutions. Is there anyone out there who has managed to get it working? I'd really like to know how to fix it!

Posted by Sherri at 1:53 PM

Comments on Macromedia Captivate & Qarbon ViewletBuilder?

I'm currently evaluating tutorial software for both instruction (emphasis: tutorials, scoring and evaluation mechanisms) and distance education (emphasis: not so much the scoring aspect but learning and instructional applications). I've worked previously with Qarbon's ViewletBuilder and really enjoyed the simplicity and ease of use. I've also been taking a closer look at Macromedia's Captivate. Only thing is, I haven't had a lot of experience using it and haven't had a lot of luck finding too many reviews that are written from the academic eLearning perspective. We currently have two licenses of Camtasia Studio installed on workstations that are available for public use (not ideal for staff), but I've never been a fan of Camtasia anyway.

Robin Good offers a comprehensive comparison of ViewletBuilder and Camtasia in "Creating interactive learning tutorials for software"

Leave a comment if you have experiences that you'd like to share in using any of these (or other unmentioned) software packages.

UPDATE: The Distant Librarian was kind enough to post my request for comments on his blog, and it looks like some people are weighing in with their opinions and experiences over there. Check it out!

Posted by Sherri at 1:13 PM

Bye bye Canadian license, hello Nevada DMV

My youth will not be the only thing I'll be losing on upcoming 30th birthday, but also my Canadian driver's license, which will be expiring. I've been living in the US for about 8 months and have neglected to change my license (note: don't do this, you're supposed to change your license within a specific period of time after moving - I'm sure I don't need to tell you that!). It wasn't all that important in my case because I don't own a car, and get around Las Vegas without one, for the most part (note: also not recommended . . . public transit here is barely functional and very smelly).

So I thought it would be a good idea to go trade in my license for a Nevada Driver's License. I naively marched into the DMV, thinking it would involve some paperwork and a simple swap, since I already have a valid license. Wrong wrong wrong. Not only do I need to take a written exam and have my vision tested, but I have to take a road test as well! This applies to anyone who hasn't ever been licensed in the United States. Crap.

Okay, I've been driving since I was 17, how hard can a written test be? I decided to quickly glance at the DMV Book that was handed to me, and go for it. I was warned with a waving finger that I had " . . . better pay attention to the Nevada laws! There are some tricky ones in there that people don't know about!" Yeah, given the way that people drive in this city, I'd say that there's more than just Nevada driving laws that they don't know about. Ahem. So I took the written exam, which was on a touch screen monitor and comprised of 50 questions. I was allowed to get 10 wrong and still pass. I'm at question 42 and I've just gotten the tenth question wrong (pretty much all of the Nevada-specific questions). Only 8 more to go . . . the last question, come on! come on! It's about driving in ice and snow! HA! Can't get me on this one! I moved here from Winnipeg for god's sakes! Score!

I barely passed. I got my 80% and got in line again to be processed. Phase one - complete. I'm now the proud owner of an "Instruction Permit."

Now all I have to do is schedule the road test. I feel like I'm 16 again . . .

Posted by Sherri at 11:01 AM

February 18, 2005

Firefox Plugin Must-have: RedLightGreen

The Firefox search plugin adds RedLightGreen as a choice in the Firefox toolbar search box. I can't count the number of times I rely on RedLightGreen to find items for students in our system (and out) when our own catalog doesn't.

Go get the plugin!

Posted by Sherri at 8:00 AM

February 17, 2005

Subscribing to an email list (listserv) using Bloglines

Geoff Harder (aka The Blog Driver's Waltz) has just posted an ever so handy guide to using Bloglines to track listservs:

I tried this yesterday with a different set of instructions that I came across, and gave up, dazed and confused. Thanks Geoff!

1) Log into Bloglines

2) Click "Add" (top left-hand corner)

3) Look towards the bottom of the page where it says "Create an Email Subscription"

4) Fill in the blanks (e.g. Name = web4lib; Folder = listservs; ...)

5) Click "Create Email Subscription"

6) NOW, go to the folder that you created and the subsequent title of the feed/page you also just created

7) VOILA. At the top of the page you now have the option to "Send Email" and the ability to include any commands you require (e.g. TO SUBSCRIBE TO WEB4LIB:
Send the message "subscribe Web4Lib your name" to listserv@sunsite.berkeley.edu)

That easy!! You are able to reply, forward and do other standard email functions as well.

As of today, I'm listserv free! Hooray for my inbox!

Posted by Sherri at 3:36 PM

Happy Flag Day Canada! (February 15)


It's funny, but I guess it takes living in another country to realize that Tuesday was Flag Day in Canada. I can't say that I've ever really paid much attention before now. There is a great post about the history of the flag of Canada at the Wikinerds Portal (http://portal.wikinerds.org/canada-flag)
Highlights include:

Posted by Sherri at 1:43 PM

Using Public Mind for Skype Feature Requests

Public Mind is a an online suggestion box that allows people to recommend new products, services and enhancements. It's a neat idea that is still in beta, so I have no idea what kind of real clout this has.

However, I've been scouring the net for an online status indicator for Skype, but to no avail. I thought I'd give Public Mind a try and see what happens. If you're interested, add your voice to the group:

Public Mind: Dynamic "call me" buttons for websites which show user online status

and . . .

Public Mind: Store my Skype contacts list remotely Oh please please please!

I didn't come up completely empty-handed when I was looking for a status indicator. Things that ... make you go hmm posted an entry on how to use callto tags with Skype. However, a post over at cogdogblog suggests abandoning the callto protocol (Do not callto://me) because of some possible interference with Netmeeting. I've seen many posts that suggest using the Skype-Me Buttons, but they too use callto, and on my computer at work (Windows), an 'External Protocol Request' pops up and asks the user to choose and launch the appropriate application. Not very user-friendly, but here's what the button looks like, followed by the code:

<a href="callto://sherri.vokey"><img src="http://goodies.skype.com/graphics/skypeme_btn_green.gif" border="0"></a>

And of cource this doesn't indicate status, so it's useful only to a point. So I think there's a need (and enough demand) out there for a real bonafide online status indicator. Public Mind is a good first start!

Posted by Sherri at 9:36 AM

February 16, 2005

Pod Gourmet Vegan & Podtender: A couple of great iPod apps

Anyone and everyone knows how much I adore my green iPod mini (affectionately known as peaPod). Well life gets even better in iPodland with the release of Enrique Quintero's Pod Gourmet Vegan Edition. It is a collection of 277 Vegan recipes neatly organized and ready for download to your iPod.

He's also created Podtender, a handy little application that contains over 900 mixed drink recipes. You never know when you might need a recipe for a good dry martini (extra olives) to go with your ginger-miso tofu sticks (actually, that sounds pretty good . . . )

Pod Gourmet Vegan Edition

Posted by Sherri at 1:55 PM

eSchool News: New test gauges ICT literacy

An interesting article by Robert Brumfield in eSchool News: New test gauges ICT literacy. It discusses the efforts of seven colleges and university systems in the US to design a test designed to measure what it means to be literate in the digital age. A snippet:

Officials began by establishing a definition of literacy for the 21st century that would become the basis for the examination. Twenty-first century literacy, they concluded, is "the ability to use digital technology, communications tools, and/or networks appropriately to solve information problems in order to function in an information society."

According to ETS, the web-based exam is "a testing program that measures postsecondary students' ability to define, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create, and communicate information in a technological environment."

Though the article claims that the test is 'the first of its kind,' ETS is hardly the first group to look at ways of evaluating basic literacy and IT skills. Take for example the work that the SCONUL Advisory Committee on Information Literacy has been doing in the UK with its 'Seven Pillars Model.' One of their latest papers has just been published on the SCONUL website:

There has also been some interesting work done in Ireland with The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) initiative. I first learned about this at the eLit 2003 Conference in a presentation given by Denise Leahy at the University of Dublin, Trinity College, Ireland. I haven't followed up recently to see what's become of the project, but this posting has reminded me to do just that!

Posted by Sherri at 10:17 AM

February 14, 2005

Services for Remote Instruction: How I learned to get my FURL on and love teaching online!

I have given a workshop on integrating library services and interactive tools to faculty here at UNLV called Services for Remote Instruction: How I learned to get my FURL on and love teaching online! It's hosted within a WebCT Development Course (i.e. not publically viewable), but if anyone out there is interested, drop me a line and I'd be more than happy to share the login particulars with you so that you can take a look around. This might be especially useful if you're wanting to see how the rss feeds are pulled in with the use of the various tools mentioned.

I've also pulled together a rough pdf version of the presentation.

Specifically, the workshop covers:

Posted by Sherri at 10:44 AM

February 10, 2005

Always Fresh: Fast Content for Library Websites with Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

Darlene Fichter from the University of Saskatchewan has posted her OLA 2005 Conference talk on the use of RSS in Libraries:

Always Fresh: Fast Content for Library Websites with Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

Check out how the University of Saskatchewan posts news on their main webapage (in the green column on the right under 'What's New') and the source of that news: a blog for News and Events (Movable Type). Slide 11 of the presentation looks at how they've beeing using RSS in conjunction with their campus portal - interesting as we're making the move to that very infrastructure at UNLV, though I'm not certain to what extent RSS will be playing a role in it from our end.

USask has also published a list of XML-ified electronic journal titles in a very handy list.

Posted by Sherri at 10:11 AM

February 8, 2005

Google launches Google Maps

It was only a matter of time, right? : ) Google Maps was launched sometime in the last day or so. It appears to cover just the United States and Canada right now. There is integration with Google Local, so you can search for your favourite restaurant and get a nice map to boot.

Posted by Sherri at 9:49 AM

February 5, 2005

Serials Solutions launches federated searching tool

Serials Solutions has released Central Search, "Serials Solutions' powerful federated search engine, allows patrons to search disparate digital resources from a single, easy to use interface." The base price is $10,000 per year, which covers up to 50 database connections ($85 per connection per year for additional connection).

Posted by Sherri at 9:07 AM