Archive Page 2

Video of Leadership Symposium at ALA Midwinter 2008

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to go to ALA Midwinter 2008 in Philadelphia, here are some highlights from the symposium – conspicuously sponsored by OCLC – on “New Leadership for New Challenges”. The symposium centered on “sharing leadership, readiness for change, team structures and assigning responsibility, nurturing nonprofit networks, [and] sustaining impact”.

Speakers included George Needham (VP of Member Services, OCLC), Leslie Crutchfield (Managing Director of Ashoka), and Dr. Rush Miller (Director of the University of Pittsburgh Library System). Crutchfield is the co-author of Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits and Miller co-author of Beyond Survival: Managing Academic Libraries in Transition. I have only read the latter book and, despite being rather sensationalist in diction, the authors take a progressive stance when it comes to library management.

You can stream the entire presentation here. (But only in Internet Explorer… bizarre!) George Needham, in addition to four other OCLC staff members, run the blog It’s all good. They are not mindless drones and have a pretty good sense of humor, so I suggest subscribing to it.

:: Bibliography ::

OCLC. New leadership for new challenges [OCLC]. Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), Inc. (19 April 2008).


Pitt upgrades Zoomify interface for Audubon’s Birds of America

I wrote an earlier post about the University of Pittsburgh Digital Research Library’s newest image collection, Audubon’s Birds of America. In it, I criticized their use of the tool Zoomify to display their scans of John James Audubon’s famous set of ornithological plates. If you take a look at the collection now, you will notice that the Zoomify window can be resized by the user. Although not a complete fix, this feature certainly makes the website more useable; I applaud the DRL for implementing the change.

There has been a discussion – here and over at PhiloBiblios – about the $300 fee for ordering a print from the collection. Was Pitt using Zoomify to control the rights to their images by limiting the public’s access to the full images? The move to improve Zoomify has waylaid this fear, in my mind. If anyone wanted to, it would be relatively easy to grab an entire plate to either print (at a place like Kinko’s) or post on the internet. However, it is important to note that the University stresses “Digital files are not for sale.” [1] (The bold is theirs.)

Now the question seems to be whether the print Pitt offers is – to put it blunty – overpriced. And if so, if it is ethical for Pitt to overcharge in the name of recouping their digitization expenditures. (They do seem to have a monopoly on the business. If you take a look at eBay, you’ll find that the online auction site is flooded with small, low quality Audubon reproductions starting at about $10.)

My response to this is that Pitt claims their reproductions are near facsimile quality. (With that said, I’m sure Walter Benjamin is rolling over in his grave!) This means that, in all likelihood, printing these images does cost significantly more than one would suspect. Although I can’t offer any figures on how much materials and labor cost, I don’t think the ratio of actual to sales price is obscene. (Nothing like the markup associated with CDs.)

As for the fee helping to recoup losses, Pitt hasn’t attempted to justify the price using this trope. (Although if they were to comment on the price, I’d wager this would be the first defense they’d employ.) As I don’t think the price is exorbinant – you are purchasing a high-quality luxury good, after all – and because I like the idea of libraries branching out to become more economically sustainable, I don’t have a problem with this. There is a (mis)conception that academic libraries are black holes when it comes to money: the budget/grants go in and “nothing” comes out. I guess this could be used to accuse me of adopting a business mindset when it comes to library management. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, however.

On a slightly related note, I’m seriously considering having the little buggers on plate 134 tattooed on my flank. Talk me out of it, library folk! ;-)


1. University of Pittsburgh. “audubon_reproductions.pdf.” Audubon’s Birds of America at the University of Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh. (14 March 2008).

Because two wasn’t enough…

Word on the street is that TNT is producing the third installment of “The Librarian” starring everyone’s favorite washed up ER actor Noah Wyle! Oh boy. Apparently, this is Johnathan Frakes’ (Commander Riker) second crack at directing the franchise.

From “THE LIBRARIAN: THE CURSE OF THE JUDAS CHALICE opens with a restless Flynn attempting to assimilate back into his career as the Librarian at the New York Metropolitan Library after many adventures abroad.” Just like Dennis Kucinich!



Kane, Paul . “Presidential Run Done, Kucinich Is Fighting to Keep Seat in House.” Washington Post, 2 March 2008, . (7 March 2008).

Library Rage

Parker Posey as Mary in Party Girl

After several afternoons of repeatedly shelf-reading those floppy Moody’s / Mergent Bond Records, I find my library ire levels skyrocketing. Happily I can mediate library rage through Art; my internal reaction has been dramatized in this video between 2:03 and 3:27, an excerpt of Party Girl featuring Parker Posey. (Clicking will take you to YouTube. This particular video doesn’t allow embedding.)

My actual responses involve organizing and flushing the serials. And not “down the drain” flush, the arranging “with adjacent sides, surfaces, or edges close together” kind.

  • Birckmayer, Harry, Daisy von Scherler Mayer, Parker Posey, Anthony De Sando, Guillermo Díaz, Donna Mitchell, Liev Schreiber, Omar Townsend, and Sasha Von Scherler. Party girl. Culver City, Calif: Columbia TriStar, 2003.

Open Access for Library Catalogs

LCC Numbers:
Z286.O63 Open Access Publishing
Z693.A1-695.83 Cataloging

Inside Higher Ed has an exciting article discussing the work being done by some libraries, including Oregon State, Villanova, and Rochester to create open access library catalogs.

I think open access is a wonderful concept, which is finally gaining some notoriety. Especially after Harvard’s recent decision. After dealing with numerous aggravating catalogs in my years, the idea of an open access catalog is a breath of fresh air. The article specifically highlights Villanova’s VuFind catalog which already puts many standard systems to shame. I recommend going to the site and typing in a favorite author just to see how the catalog easily, quickly, and simply displays items in a demo catalog. Another wonderful attribute to VuFind is “faceted searching” which allows user to narrow by genre, author, etc. This function can be seen on sites like Amazon or Newegg.

My favorite quote comes from Jeremy Frumkin, the Gray Family Chair for Innovative Library Services at Oregon State who says, “The more we could simplify the experience, the better people reacted to it.” Duh. That is what people want!


Cohen, Patricia. Harvard Research To Be Free Online. , Ala.: New York Times, 2008.

Guess, Andy. Open Minds, Open Books, Open Source. , Ala.: Inside Higher Ed, 2008.

George Goes To The Library

The announcement will be made Monday, that the George W. Bush library will be at Southern Methodist University.

I know this is fake, but I still think it’s relevant.