Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Announcing ... The Cybrarian's Web 2

Finally I can announce the completion of the second volume of The Cybrarian's Web 2 (TCW2). Similar in purpose, organization, and content to the first version, TCW2 provides in-depth summaries and analysis of free resources on the web and the practical application and implementation of these resources in libraries and other work environments. While the first volume was written as a starter guide to social media tools, catering mainly to the needs of an audience with limited technological knowledge (for example, brief overviews and library use of popular tools such as Blogger, Delicious, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and YouTube), TCW2 focuses on lesser-known tools successfully implemented by libraries. Another major divergence is the extensive coverage given to ebooks, ebook collection and  ebook readers.

TCW2 also focuses on innovative concepts and trends that are rapidly being mashed up and adopted in the library world. Readers will learn about these in chapters that cover topics such as self-publishing, cloud storage and hosting, crowdfunding, mobile applications (apps), makerspaces, massive open online courses (MOOCs), social news aggregators, social media management services and visualization tools.  Readers are also introduced to wearable technology in the form of Google Glass.

I hope that this book, like the first volume will serve a wide cross section of readers in multiple communities supporting productivity, collegial collaboration, and self-development, and that readers discover its usefulness as a guide and learning tool to innovate, improve, and add value to library services in the digital age.

Cheryl Ann Peltier-Davis
Available soon from Information Today Inc.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Yahoo Directory - Retired!

Reposted from Search Engine Land. Click here for full story.

For some, it may seem like there has always been Google, and it’s always been the main way people have found things on the web. But before Google, there was the Yahoo Directory and its hand-compiled list of websites, organized into topics. Now, the venerable Yahoo Directory is closing.
Yahoo shared the news today, a short paragraph that’s part of announcing two other closures, under a headline of “Progress Report: Continued Product Focus.” That sure fails to give the Yahoo Directory its proper due. From Yahoo’s post:
Yahoo was started nearly 20 years ago as a directory of websites that helped users explore the Internet. While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they’re passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory. Advertisers will be upgraded to a new service; more details to be communicated directly.
It’s about as terrible a send-off as Yahoo gave AltaVista, another pioneering search resource that Yahoo closed last year. AltaVista got a single sentence to cover its coming death.

I get that companies might not want to celebrate the closure of products. But there had to be something less shameful than the way Yahoo announced the coming closure of the directory from which Yahoo literally takes its name.

When Yahoo Ruled The Web

When Yahoo began in 1994, the most common way people found websites was to browse through lists, where sites were often organized into topics.
Founders Jerry Yang and David Filo quickly realized their own list needed a better name than “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” They settled on Yahoo! (with exclamation mark). That stood for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” — a reference to organizing sites in a hierarchical order.
Yahoo quickly became the most popular search engine on the web. By search engine, I mean the generic term of any service that helps you locate information, rather than the more technical one of a service that locates information by “crawling” pages automatically and allowing you to keyword search to find any pages that match your keywords.
The distinction is important, because it lead to Yahoo’s eventual downturn as a search resource and directly to the coming closure of the Yahoo Directory that was announced today.
A “directory” relies on humans to review websites, summarize them with short descriptions and organize them into a categories. When Yahoo started, this system was effective, because there weren’t that many pages on the web (relatively speaking) and automated search technology to organize websites wasn’t very good.
That contributed in a big way to Yahoo’s popularity over traditional search engines like InfoSeek or Excite that used automation. Yahoo had better relevance. You could find what you were looking for.

Google: The Yahoo Directory Killer

I don’t have time at the moment to do an extended timeline of the decline of the Yahoo Directory (as well as Yahoo as a search resource), but I’ll hit the highpoints of what led to the Yahoo Directory’s low point today.
First, Google. Google came along in 1998 and quickly proved that you could have search results generated by automation, rather than through human effort, and have better relevancy.
With Yahoo, it was as if you were searching for books in a library using an old-fashioned card catalog system, where all you knew about a book was 25 words or so describing it.
With Google, it was as if you could search through every page of every book in the library. You didn’t miss that needle in a haystack. And importantly, unlike previous search engines that used automation, you didn’t find that the “noise” of looking through all those pages drowned out the important relevancy “signal.” Google’s search algorithm was better than others.
Indeed, Google’s search algorithm was so good that in 2000, Yahoo partnered up with Google. Yahoo had long partnered with crawler-based search engines, so that if there were no matches from its own directory, the crawler search engine provided some “backup” answers. Google became Yahoo’s fourth partner: Open Text was the first, AltaVista the second and Inktomi the third.
By 2002, Yahoo realized that Google’s search results were so good that it made a dramatic shift and presented those as the main listings to searchers at Yahoo. That was effectively the start of the Yahoo Directory’s long, slow-death. If you knew where the directory was, you could search it directly. And category links from the directory were also inserted alongside Google listings when relevant. But it was pretty much an afterthought, forgotten, dethroned.
Indeed, in 2003, Yahoo completed the purchase of Inktomi, so it could have its own crawler-based listings. That led to the eventual end of its deal with Google. But by then, for Google, it didn’t matter. Google had long eclipsed Yahoo as the most popular search engine out there. Eventually, Yahoo even abandoned its own search technology and outsourced to Microsoft for it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ALA 2014 State of America's Libraries

On April 13, the American Library Association released its report on the 2014 State of America's Libraries during National Library Week, April 13–19, detailing library trends of the past year. Its findings include:
  • More than 90% of the respondents in an independent national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project said that libraries are important to the community.
  • School libraries continue to feel the combined pressures of recession-driven financial tightening and federal neglect, according to the survey, and school libraries in some districts and some states still face elimination or deprofessionalization of their programs.
  • 96% of Americans agree that public libraries are important because they provide tech resources and access to materials, and the same number find libraries valuable because they promote literacy and a love of reading.
  • More than 90% of traditional public schools have a school library, but public schools continue to struggle with the impact of funding cuts and reductions in professional staffing.
The ALA is on the forefront of efforts to shore up support for school libraries.
On another front, Banned Books Week, sponsored by the ALA and other organizations, highlights the benefits of free access to information and the perils of censorship by spotlighting the actual or attempted banning of books.
A perennial highlight of Banned Books Week is the Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books, compiled annually by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). The OIF collects reports on book challenges from librarians, teachers, concerned individuals, and press reports. A challenge is defined as a formal written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness. In 2013, the OIF received hundreds of reports on attempts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves.
The most challenged books of the year were:
  1. The Captain Underpants series, by Dav Pilkey
  2. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
  6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  9. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
  10. The Bone series, by Jeff Smith
Libraries witnessed a number of developments in 2013 in the area of ebooks and copyright issues. Ebooks continue to make gains among reading Americans, according to another Pew Research Center survey, but few readers have completely replaced print with digital editions—and the advent of digital reading brings with it a continuing tangle of legal issues involving
publishers and libraries.
“Print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits,” the Pew researchers found. Most people who read ebooks also read print books, they reported, and only 4% of readers described themselves as “ebook only.” After years of conflict between publishers and libraries, 2013 ended with all the major US publishers participating in the library ebook market, though important challenges, such as availability and prices, remain.
In November 2013, after eight years of litigation, a federal court upheld the fair use doctrine when it dismissed Authors Guild v. Google, et al., a case that questioned the legality of Google’s searchable database of more than 20 million books. In his decision, the judge referenced an amicus brief coauthored by the ALA that enumerated the public benefits of Google Book Search. The Authors Guild has filed an appeal.
Other key trends detailed in the 2014 State of America’s Libraries report:
  • More and more public libraries are turning to the use of web technologies, including websites, online account access, blogs, rich site summary (RSS) feeds, catalog search boxes, sharing interfaces, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • The economic downturn is continuing at most institutions of higher learning, and academic librarians are working to transform programs and services by repurposing space and redeploying staff in the digital resources environment.
  • President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill in January that will fund the federal government through September and partially restore funding to the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA)—the primary source of annual funding for libraries in the federal budget—that were dramatically cut in the 2013 fiscal year under sequestration.
The full text of the 2014 State of America’s Libraries report is available on the ALA website. It is also available as an American Libraries digital supplement.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How the Internet Has Grown in the Last 25 years - Pew report

The World Wide Web turned 25 on March 12, 2014. In honor of the milestone,  Pew  conducted a  new national survey  and provided data to confirm the incredible spread and impact of the internet:
Adoption: 87% of American adults now use the internet, with near-saturation usage among those living in households earning $75,000 or more (99%), young adults ages 18-29 (97%), and those with college degrees (97%). Fully 68% of adults connect to the internet with mobile devices like smartphones or tablet computers.
The adoption of related technologies has also been extraordinary: Over the course of Pew Research Center polling, adult ownership of cell phones has risen from 53% in our first survey in 2000 to 90% now. Ownership of smartphones has grown from 35% when we first asked in 2011 to 58% now.
Impact: Asked for their overall judgment about the impact of the internet, toting up all the pluses and minuses of connected life, the public’s verdict is overwhelmingly positive:
90% of internet users say the internet has been a good thing for them personally and only 6% say it has been a bad thing, while 3% volunteer that it has been some of both
76% of internet users say the internet has been a good thing for society, while 15% say it has been a bad thing and 8% say it has been equally good and bad.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Publishing Opportunities in New UWI Open Access Refereed Journal - Caribbean Library Journal

Kudos to my Caribbean colleagues for succesfully publishing the inaugural issue of the Caribbean Library Journal -  an online open access peer reviewed journal published by the University Libraries at the University of the West Indies. As stated in the first ( December 2013) issue "this medium provides a forum for information professionals in the Caribbean and those who work with Caribbean materials globally to discuss their work, share ideas and experiences."
This stellar effort to give Caribbean information professionals an avenue to document and promote their publishing and creative capabilities is reflected in the topics covered in this issue:
  • Exploring the Use of Text Messaging to Enhance Reference Services at The University of the West Indies Library, Mona Campus, Karlene Nelson
  • Library Orientation at The Alma Jordan Library: The Way Forward, Tamara Brathwaite, Arlene Dolabaille
  •  Information Literacy through E-Learning: A Case Study of IL Training to Undergraduates at The University of the West Indies (Mona),  Verna George, Karlene P. Robinson
  •  Towards Academic Library Support for Entrepreneurship: A Blueprint for Reinventing our Role,  Martha Ingrid Preddie
 The CLJ is an annual publication and contributors are invited to submit "new scholarly works such as academic essays, book reviews and research reports". The Editors are also interested in publications which incorporate Web 2.0 tools, videos and other innovative pieces.
With the growing popularity of the 'open access movement' this Journal provides yeoman service to 'all information professionals' in making its content openly accessible and embracing the principle that "making research freely available to the public supports greater global exchange of knowledge".

Click here to access the current issue