Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rethinking the catalog, scholarly publishing, digital delivery ...

We got our scholarly communications blog launched this week. The Scholar's Space -- focused on academics and the processes we use for our research, and to collaborate, share our results and start it all over again. And of course, the big thing is the pace of change. Actually, it's glacial compared to the pace of change at a place like Google. I just returned from my second Library Partner's summit. I love hearing about what all Google is up to, new products and services. Their approach to everything is so very different from academe. How on earth do we survive like we do?

So, it's summer, only 1 month left before school starts. I can't quite believe that I will be totally geared back up in a month. I am enjoying the relaxed summer pace so much. So un-Google like. The last time I had a summer off was right before law school, 19 years ago.

But enough of that. Things are perking right along. The blog launched, as mentioned. I had been agonizing every day over the news items in the blog scope that I couldn't say much about because the blog was not launched yet. But I knew that it wouldn't really matter. No matter when it launched there would be a flood of things to talk about because that's the way it's going in scholarly communication right now -- news floods the blogosphere. Just since launch there have been major pieces of news. It's wonderful to have a blog specifically devoted to this subject where I can sort of collect my thoughts and pointers and then refer back to the entries later for ideas for the papers I'll need to write for school.

I have a Google project now that will involve my job and working with a graduate research assistant from the iSchool, and probably evolve into a paper for a class. Our Benson collection has many works in the public domain, but Google's conservative algorithmic estimate of which books they are leaves room for us to apply brute force manpower to make finer determinations if we want to. So, we'll probably join other Library Partners in contributing more precise data to a collection of public domain facts about our books. It's great to be collaborating with the other libraries this way. There's not nearly enough of that.

I'm rewriting the Crash Course in prep for moving it to the UT Austin Libraries website, and also to tailor it more to fit with the scholarly communications set of issues.

The UT Press project is progressing. So is the School of Nursing project, where we're working with the department to increase deposits to PubMed Central. And then there's digital distribution of course materials where we're trying to streamline and integrate 3 different systems for providing access to course materials to students, with permissions taken care of in the background. This will likely take a year or more just to design it. All of these have kept me quite busy this summer, but somehow, with no classes, I feel like I'm "off" for the summer. How is that? I think it's because I love what I'm doing and I'm still having way too much fun to think of it as work.

Well, finally, what I started out to say, as evidenced by the title of this entry: I've read so many articles lately that announce major rethinking of this or that or the other. This one is about Rethinking the Catalog; this one is about rethinking Scholarly Publishing in a Digital Age. All this thinking. But I want to move things along at my library, so I will just concentrate on my projects, report out results when I can, and encourage others to use tools like the ones the ACRL's Institute on Scholarly Communications gave us to shepherd projects along. Life in the slow lane...

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