Category Archives: Interfaces/Platforms

New audio interview – Leslie Lees, ebrary

A new audio interview has been posted to NSR’s interviews page.  This one features Leslie Lees, VP-Content and Market Development, ebrary.  Leslie and I discussed methods of ebook purchasing that involve patrons and what ebrary is doing to plan for these new business models.  Check it out, it’s absolutely the best thing you’ll hear all week!

NSR interviews are generally 15 – 20 minutes in length.  I recommend you download the mp3 file, then listen.

Reference Publishers Debate Single Platform

On the Friday of the ALAMW Conference, the Independent Reference Publishers Group met for a panel presentation/discussion on using one single platform to host all reference content.  It was an interesting discussion.  I’ve summarized the panel in my notes below.

Independent Reference Publishers Group Meeting

Friday, January 23, 2009

Representatives from the following organizations were in attendance: Choice, CQ Press, Omnigraphics, Sharpe, ifactory, Sage, Salem, Neal Schumann, ABC-CLIO, Rosen, Credo Reference, Serials Solutions, NISO, Booklist, CHOICE, Wright State University.

The theme of this meeting and panel discussion was instituting a single platform for electronic reference content. Sue Polanka from WSU started things off with her wish list and each publisher had a chance to respond.

Sue Polanka – Wright State University

One day I’d like to purchase/license all of my reference content, regardless of publisher, and load it on the platform of my choice for the best cross searching available. This platform could be an existing one, like GVRL, Credo, ebrary, EBL, NetLibrary, etc. or some shareware, something developed by libraries. Benefits to patrons and librarians include: Greater access, more content, single search interface for ease of use and discoverabilty, easy to implement in library instruction and on web sites. These systems need to have unlimited simultaneous use, 24/7 access, with no DRM or other restrictions on downloading or printing, the most multimedia available during today’s expensive economic times and an actual ebook price, up front, would be appreciated.

Todd Carpenter – NISO

One platform has barriers to interoperability and they are bigger than technological, as in political and economic. [barriers shouldn’t prevent us from trying to do this. IRPG would be a good venue to discuss this. Seems like publishers would want to do this for reasons of – more exposure, and less cost of producing pricey interfaces – has anyone ever heard of epub or the IDPF? SP]

Peter McCracken – Serials Solutions

Federated products are often a starting point for research and therefore have an opportunity to have a reference role. The current design doesn’t work best for the patron since they get mostly articles. Somehow relevance needs to be a factor to assign tags to reference and get them to the top. We need to use field mapping more effectively. [I prefer a pre-indexed approach since federated products tend to be slow. Publishers/aggregators should take advantage of all metadata and tag reference items appropriately. If federated products are used, the reference content should be faceted as “overview material” or “background information.” SP]

Rolf Janke – Sage Reference

Publishers still have an infrastructure that supports print publishing.  The infrastructure is a difficult component to downsize in favor of doing more digital publishing. Print is a one size fits all model yet e publishing is not so, publishers have a multitude of business models, interfaces, features, etc.  The concept of a one size fits all platform for all publishers content is way ahead of its time, publishers currently could never agree on a standard business model. Pricing standards could help, but are not likely. [Gee, these must be the political and economic barriers that Todd was referring to? Looks like publishers could learn about collaboration from libraries. SP]

Ron Boehm – ABC-CLIO

Publishers need to invest in new things while maintaining our print production, which is expensive for publishers, particularly in these bad economic times. Right now we need to do both [e and p] or we would lose half of our business. The best strategy for ebooks is to have unlimited access. Ron supports the idea of publishers working with multiple aggregators or distributors to have reference content available in a multitude of platforms, but doesn’t recommend the libraries/consortia maintain their own platform. [Ditto on unlimited access and multiple aggregators. OhioLINK has been maintaining its own platforms for years. It’s a great system when you want to make enhancements and don’t have to wait on other companies or the majority of users to agree. SP]

Reference Universe has NEW Interface

Those of you who are Reference Universe users just got an early holiday gift – a new interface.  For details on the changes, check out the Paratext overview document.

Highlights include:

  • customized library logos
  • simplified email/download and export functions – direct to RefWorks and EndNote too
  • eBook only display
  • classification number options – LC, Dewey,  both, or none
  • quick format identification
  • stationary search and browse functions
  • option to display title NOT owned by your library – great for collection development
  • and more….

For more information on Reference Universe, listen to the NSR interview with Eric Calaluca, Founder and President, Paratext.

New Audio Interview with UT-Austin Librarian, Lindsey Schell

UT-Austin Libraries has a huge eBook collection, about 600,000 titles in all.  Lindsey Schell, Librarian for Journals, English Lit, and Women’s Studies, has had plenty of experience in acquiring eBooks for UT-Austin.

In this interview, Lindsey and I discuss the variety of eBook collections/platforms at UT, the successes and challenges of their eBook program, purchasing eBooks through Patron Driven Acquisition, and other neat and cool things about eBooks.  So, if you have eBooks, want to expand your collection, or are on the fence about starting an eBook collection, give it a listen.   You’re bound to learn something. And, hopefully you’ll be jazzed about eBooks!

Other NSR interviews can be found on our Interviews page.

Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA)

The current NSR poll asks, “is your institution using patron driven acquisition to purchase eBooks.”  PDA is a business model, offered by (currently) 3 ebook aggregators  – NetLibrary, EBL, and Ingram Digital.  In this model, patrons determine which eBooks are purchased based on the eBooks they use.  There are many variations to PDA, but each variation does allow for librarians to pre-select groups of titles to choose from, establish budgets, and put controls in place to monitor usage and purchases.

For a more thorough look at PDA, you can read my upcoming Off The Shelf column in Booklist Online.  It will be published in the January 1, 2009 issue.  �

Rosen’s Teen Health & Wellness – this is what I call a Reference Experience

I recently attended the School Library Journal (SLJ) Summit and had the pleasure of working with Roger Rosen, of Rosen Publishing, on a panel about the future of digital reference.  Roger spoke about Rosen’s Teen Health & Wellness product.  I finally had a chance to look it over.  WOW, this is what I call a reference experience!

Some highlights:

  • Thousands of resources for teens on topics relevant to them, and written for them – like sexuality, dating, stress, alcohol/drugs, eating disorders, and even acne
  • In The News – a snippet of data from a published news story, with links to additional information in the database.
  • Cast Your Vote – Polls on relevant topics, to see how other teens feel/act.  After viewing the poll results, links to articles on a relevant topic are included
  • HOTLINES (Get Help Now)- easy to find access to a variety of national hotlines (Suicide, AIDS, Alcohol/Drugs, Eating Disorders, etc)
  • Ask Dr. Jan – a place to ask a question and get an answer from a licensed Psychologist
  • Personal Story – a teen story written about a particular situation, like cyberbullying.  Users may then SHARE THEIR OWN STORY by submitting it to Rosen.  Don’t worry, lots of confidentiality controls are in place.
  • Did You Know? – factoids on various health/wellness topics, with links to related articles
  • RSS Feeds of new content from “In The News,”  “Dr. Jan’s Corner,” and “Did You Know?”
  • Each entry is signed, and includes the name of the MD or other medical professional who reviewed the article.
  • Email, print, and cite this source options
  • Links for resources, glossary, and further reading
  • Date last updated for each article
  • Images

Besides the amazing amount of information in the Teen Health & Wellness database, teens have the opportunity to ask questions, write/share their own feelings, and find out how other teens are dealing with situations.  The RSS feeds, polls, and Q/A make this interactive.  The attention to detail in citing, writing, reviewing, and updating make the information very authoritative.  This should be in every household, not just school.  Congrats Rosen!

Gee, reading all of this makes me want to be a teenager again…..NOT!

But, it does make me wonder why these great features aren’t in other databases.  The product seems to build a community.  Can our generic reference ebook collections possibly do that?  I don’t see why not.�

E-Reference Ratings from LJ

LJ just released E-Reference Ratings, “an evaluation of nearly 180 subscription based electronic resources in 14 subject categories.”  Of course, many of these are eBook platforms like Britannica, Credo, GVRL, Oxford, and Sage.   There was no category for eBooks, instead you’ll find them listed under the various subject categories.

Products were reviewed by a team of 8 reference experts and included 7 criteria:  scope, writing, design, linking, bells & whistles, ease of use, value.  Resources were given a star rating, 1 to 4 stars to indicate * poor, ** satisfactory, ***good, ****excellent  A brief paragraph also accompanied each resource.

According to LJ, “Because we know that online resources continually grow and evolve—a list of this nature can date quickly—E-Reference Ratings, which made a print debut in the November 15th Reference Announcements issue, will find its permanent home and reach its full potential on our web site. We intend not only to keep up with these ever-changing products (adjusting the ratings as necessary) but also to expand the number of databases in each category and venture into new ones. We hope to hear from all parties—librarians, publishers, and vendors—about how we can keep this tool thriving and make it even more useful.”

Congrats LJ!  This was no small feat.�

Widgets guide usage of eReference/eBooks

I love widgets.  Last week at the Charleston Conference I was on a panel discussing “bridging the google gap.”  I was to discuss ways libraries were bridging that gap through reference services.  Widgets was one of my answers.

Widgets can be embedded on multiple library web pages, course management systems, facebook, teacher/faculty websites, anywhere really!  Caution, my web designer friends always remind me to have one ONE search box on a page, otherwise it gets confusing.

There are many eBook/eReference vendors who provide widgets.  I’ve got links to some of them below.  If you know of others, send them my way and I’ll post.

Credo Reference – Search the entire Credo collection with their widget.  Some libraries have put the search widget on a reference page, as a starting point.  Now that Credo links to other sources through their “resource links” feature, users can start with traditional reference sources and move to journals or other databases of your choosing.   For a look at this feature, check out the  Watne Memorial Library .  You might also be interested in an informal review of the new Credo interface.

Gale/Cengage – GVRL in particular.    I am fond of this widget because you can establish subject collections of sets of titles.  Once you have the collection established, it can be placed in the widget and only those titles searched.  This is a fab idea for subject guides/pathfinders, or for class assignment links.

Encyclopaedia Britannica – see my recent post on these

Reference Universe – RU searches the indexes, TOC, and list of articles of both print and electronic reference titles.  Using your online catalog, they will connect the user to a reference source.  The widget opens up your entire reference collection.  St. Mary’s College of California has a great example of this widget.  Be sure to click on “reference.”

Palgrave, Nature Launch eBook platform

eBook collections and platforms are popping up faster than daisies these days.  New this month is the Palgrave Macmillan platform – Palgrave Connect.  This is a collaborative effort from Palgrave and Nature and will include eBooks in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and business areas.  About 4,000 eBooks are available with the launch.�

Britannica’s Widgets

A really neat feature from Encyclopaedia Britannica – Content Widgets .  I’m a big fan of widgets, particularly ones with nice visuals.  They draw the users attention and can lead them to authoritative reference content.  Here’s the official info from Britannica:

Check Out Britannica’s New Widget Feature!
Britannica Widgets are here, and with them you can instantly post an entire cluster of related Encyclopædia Britannica articles on your blog or Web site. Just follow the instructions and copy and paste the several lines of code associated with each widget as html into the appropriate place on your site. Any readers who click on a link will get the entire Britannica article on the subject, even if access to the article normally requires a subscription.

Widgets are an innovative way to share information on websites and blogs!

Here are a couple of samples (click for larger image):

britannica1.png britannica2.png

The Britannica Newsletter “inside Britannica” states it is a feature of the Britannica Online Academic Edition.  According to Lillian Terry, my Britannica Rep who sent me a nice email yesterday, this feature is also available in the Public and School online editions as well.  Very cool, very cool.