Archive for November, 2011

400 Catholic pamphlets digitized

Posted on November 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

Team Catholic Pamphlets has finished digitizing, processing, and making available close to 400 pieces of material available in the Aleph as well as Primo — http://bit.ly/sw1JH8

More specifically, we had a a set of Catholic pamphlets located in Special Collections converted into TIFF and PDF files. We then had OCR (optical character recognition) done against them, and the result was saved on a few local computers — parts of our repository. We then copied and enhanced the existing MARC records describing the pamphlets, and we ingested them into Aleph. From there they flowed to Primo.

When search results are returned for Catholic Pamphlet items, the reader is given the opportunity to download the PDF version and/or apply text mining services against them in order to enhance the process of understanding. For example, here are links to a specific catalog record, the pamphlet’s PDF version, and text mining interface:

Our next step is two-fold. First, we will document our experience and what we learned. Second, we will share this documentation with the wider audience. We hope to complete these last two tasks before we go home for the Christmas Holiday. Wish us luck.

Field trip to the Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago

Posted on November 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

On Wednesday, October 19, 2011 the Hesburgh Libraries Professional Development Committee organized a field trip to the Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago. This posting documents some of my things seen, heard, and learned. If I had one take-away, it was the fact that the initiatives of the libraries at the University of Chicago are driven by clearly articulated needs/desires of their university faculty.


Mansueto Library, the movie!

The adventure began early in the morning as a bunch of us from the Hesburgh Libraries (Collette Mak, David Sullivan, Julie Arnott, Kenneth Kinslow, Mandy Havert, Marsha Stevenson, Rick Johnson, and myself) boarded the South Shore train bound for Chicago. Getting off at 57th Street, we walked a few short blocks to the University, and arrived at 10:45. The process was painless, if not easy and inexpensive.

David Larsen (our host) greeted us at the door, gave us the opportunity to put our things down, and immediately introduced us to David Borycz who gave us a tour of the Mansueto Library. If my memory serves me correctly, a need for an additional university library was articulated about ten years ago. Plans were drafted and money allocated. As time went on the need for more money — almost double — was projected. That was when Mr. & Mrs. Mansueto stepped up to the plate and offered the balance. With its dome made of uniquely shaped glass parts and eyeball shape, the Library looks like a cross between the Louvre Pyramid (Paris) and the Hemisf√®ric in Valencia (Spain). The library itself serves three functions: 1) reading room, 2) book storage, and 3) combination digitization & conservation lab. For such a beautiful and interesting space, I was surprised the later function was included in the mix which occupied almost half of the above ground space.

The reading room was certainly an inviting space. Long tables complete with lights. Quiet. Peaceful. Inviting. Contemplative.

The back half of the ground-level was occupied by both a digitization and conservation lab. Lots of scanners including big, small, and huge. Their scanning space is not a public space. There were no students, staff, nor faculty digitizing things there. Instead, their scanning lab began as a preservation service, grew from there, and now digitizes things after being vetted through a committee prioritizing projects. The conservation lab was complete with large tables, de-acidification baths, and hydration chambers. Spacious. Well-equipped. Located in a wonderful place.

Borycz then took us down to see the storage area. Five stories deep, this space is similar to the storage space at Valparaiso University. Each book is assigned a unique identifier. Books are sorted by size and put into large metal bins (also assigned a unique number). The identifiers are then saved in a database denoting the location in the cavernous space below. One of the three elevators/lifts then transport the big metal boxes to their permanent locations. The whole space will hold about 3.5 million volumes (the entire collection of the Hesburgh Libraries), but at the present time there are only 900,000 volumes currently stored there. How did they decide what would go to the storage area? Things that need not be browsed (like runs of bound serial volumes), things that are well-indexed, things that have been digitized, and “elephant” folios.

When we returned from lunch our respective libraries did bits of show & tell. I shared about the Hesburgh Libraries efforts to digitize Catholic pamphlets and provide text mining interfaces against the result. Rick Johnson demonstrated the state of the Seaside Project. We were then shown the process the University of Chicago librarians were using to evaluate the EBSCOhost “discovery service”. An interface was implemented, but the library is not sure exactly what content is being indexed, and the indexed items’ metadata seems applied inconsistently. Moreover, it is difficult (if not impossible) to customize the way search results are ranked and prioritized. All is not lost. The index does include the totality of JSTOR, which is seen as a plus. Librarians have also discovered that the index does meet the needs of many library patrons. The library staff have also enhanced other library interfaces pointing them to the EBSCO service if patrons browse past two or three pages of search results. When show & tell was finished we broke into smaller groups for specific discussions, and I visited the folks in the digitization unit. We then congregated in the lobby, made our way back to the train, and returned to South Bend by 7:30 in the evening.

The field trip was an unqualified success. It was fun, easy, educational, team-building, inexpensive, collegial, and enlightening. Throughout the experience we heard over and over again how directives were taken by University of Chicago faculty on new directions. These faculty then advocated for the library, priorities were set, and goals were fulfilled. The Hesburgh Libraries at the University of Notre Dame is geographically isolated. In my opinion we must make more concerted efforts to both visit other libraries and bring other librarians to Notre Dame. Such experiences enrich us all.

Scholarly publishing presentations

Posted on November 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

As a part of Open Access Week, a number of us (Cheri Smith, Collette Mak, Parker Ladwig, and myself) organized a set of presentations on the topic of scholarly publishing with the goal of increasing awareness of the issues across the Hesburgh Libraries. This posting outlines the event which took place on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

The first presentation was given by Kasturi Halder (Julius Nieuwland Professor of Biological Sciences and Founding Director of the Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases) who described her experience working with the Public Library of Science (PLoS). Specifically, Halder is the editor-in-chief of PLoS Pathogens with a total editorial staff of close to 140 persons. The journal receives about 200 submissions per month, and her efforts require approximately one hour of time per day. She describes the journal as if it were a community, and she says one of the biggest problems they have right now is internationalization. Halder was a strong advocate for open access publishing. “It is important to make the content available because the research is useful all over the world… When the content is free it can be used in any number of additional ways including text mining and course packs… Besides, the research is government funded and ought to be given back to the public… Patients should have access to articles.” Halder lauded PLoS One, a journal which accepts anything as long as it has been peer-reviewed, and she cited an article co-written by as many as sixty-four students here at Notre Dame as an example. Finally, Halder advocated article-level impact as opposed to journal-level impact as a measure of success.

Anthony Holter (Assistant Professional Specialist in the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, Institute for Educational Initiatives) outlined how Catholic Education has migrated from a more traditional scholarly publication to something that stretches the definition of a journal. Started in 1997 as a print journal, Catholic Education was sponsored and supported by four institutions of higher education, each paying an annual fee. The purpose of the journal was (and still is) to “promote and disseminate scholarship about the purposes, practices, and issues in Catholic education at all levels.” Over time the number of sponsors grew and eventually faced two problems. First, they realized that libraries were paying twice for the content. Once for the membership fee and again for a subscription. Second, many practitioners appreciated the journal when they were in school, but as they graduated they no longer had access to it. What to do? The solution was to go open access. The journal is now hosted at Boston College. In this new venue Holter has more access to usage statistics than he has ever had before making it easier for him to track trends. For example, he saw many searches on topics of leadership, and consequently, he anticipates a special issue on leadership in the near future. Finally, Holter also sees the journal akin to a community, and the editorial board plans to exploit social networks to a greater degree in an effort to make the community more interactive. “We are trying to create a rich tapestry of a journal.” For the time being, Project Euclid fits the bill.

Finally Peter Cholak (Professor of Mathematics, College of Science) put words to characteristics of useful scholarly journals and used the Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic as an example. Cholak looks to journals to add value to scholarly research. He does not want to pay any sort of page or image charges (which are sometimes the case in open access publications). Cholak looks for author-friendly copyright agreements from publishers. This is the case because his community is expected (more or less) to submit their soon-to-be-published articles in a repository called MathSciNet. He uses MathSciNet as both a dissemination and access tool. A few years ago the Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic needed a new home, and Cholak visited many people across the Notre Dame campus looking for ways to make is sustainable. (I remember him coming to the libraries, for example.) He found little, if any, support. Sustainability is a major issue. “Who is going to pay? Creation, peer-review, and dissemination all require time and money?” Project Euclid fits the bill.

The presentations were well-received by the audience of about twenty people. Most were from the Libraries but others were from across the University. It was interesting to compare & contrast the disciplines. One was theoretical. Another was empirical. The third was both academic and practical at once and at the same time. There was lively discussion after the formal presentations. Such was the goal. I sincerely believe each of the presenters have more things in common than differences when it comes to scholarly communication. At the same time they represented a wide spectrum of publishing models. This spectrum is the result of the current economic and technological environment, and the challenge is to see the forest from the trees. The challenge for libraries is to understand the wider perspectives and implement solutions satisfying the needs of most people given limited amounts of resources. In few places is this more acute than in the realm of scholarly communication.