Science Online 2010: thoughts for librarians

Again in no particular order, some thoughts and ideas that came to mind during Science Online 2010:

  • I did quite a bit of library advocacy during the conference, and not just during the session dedicated to it! I noticed that I had the best luck when I could define a library service in terms of outcomes that would be useful to the person I was talking to. Not "IRs are great! Open access now!" but "if your interns deposit their presentations into the IR, your program will build institutional memory, and the interns themselves will build identities as researchers." Seems obvious enough, but the sticking point (at least in a sprawling research library) is that every librarian who deals with patrons would need to understand every service the library offers, to be able to offer the right service at the right psychological moment. I don't think that's often the case, honestly; I certainly wouldn't claim that much knowledge.
  • I become more and more convinced that if research libraries don't rescue the bits of the internet we're interested in, nobody else will. I love Open Notebook Science, but it also scares me to death. How will I rescue a lashed-up mashup of in-browser apps?
  • "If it's not online and immediately available, I won't read it." The sequel to that sentence was (my paraphrase) "I don't mess with ILL. Takes too long, and those forms…" The first library that makes a bookmarklet that automagically sends the current web page being browsed to ILL along with the user's identification information wins.
  • If "library as place" is on the decline—and among working scientists it surely seems to be—how far could libraries go with "the world is my library"?
  • Peter Binford of PLoS suggested that as article-level metrics catch on, there is a market opportunity available in aggregating usage statistics from the various places an article might be found, from journal websites to databases to repositories, and presenting those metrics usefully to authors (and, one presumes, their tenure and promotion committees). My question to libraries: why should we let the next Thomson walk away with this (and mess it up as badly as they've messed up the impact factor)? Let's do it ourselves! It's a natural outgrowth of the faculty-bibliography efforts we're engaged in.

For what they're worth…


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When you refer to ONS in-browser apps do you mean the NMR JCAMP-DX files? The usual software used to display these files is JSpecView - a nice Open Source program that is easy to implement. Nothing to fear :) But it does highlight why librarians and researchers need to co-operate for these archival challenges.

No, I was mostly thinking about the embedded GDocs spreadsheets and YouTube vids. Data with an OSS viewing app tends to worry me quite a bit less.

I'm wondering if having article use metrics might give libraries a little leverage in negotiations with the likes of EBSCO and Elsevier.

I think Binford's suggestion is very interesting. In working with scientists, I find this is one of the few areas where the come to librarians for assistance. Most seem confident with their searching abilities, but they want precision on this issue.