Welcome to Online Insider ...
... the editorial blog by Marydee Ojala, Editor of ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals. ONLINE Insider intends to extend the reach of the print publication, presenting a more timely commentary on the products, people, and events that shape today's online world. It explores new technologies as they impact the working lives of information professionals, explains resources for specific topic areas, and expounds on information management tools and techniques.

Online for Business

Marydee Ojala @ 10:02 am

I didn’t see any of the PLA bloggers in the audience for yesterday afternoon’s PLA-sponsored session titled Online for Business. The first speaker was Frances Roehm from Skokie Public Library, who talked about her library’s involvement with creating a career center to help people prepare for finding a job. The talk was very interesting, a cross between resources for job hunters and practical advise to those looking for a job. I was the second speaker, charged with talking about trends in online business research. Frances is putting the slides for both of us on her site. I don’t have the official URL, but as soon as I know it, I will post it to this blog. It was a fun afternoon. The room was full in spite of the fact that there were two Google presentations going on at the same time. So, thanks to all who attended our session!

OK, got it now. The slides are here

Best Button

Marydee Ojala @ 7:59 am

From Berkshire Publishing Group, which is based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts:

Librarian, n. An expert in human-computer interaction

ALA Exhibit Hall

Marydee Ojala @ 4:39 pm

Things that interested me in the exhibit hall:

CSA’s new multisearch platform (technology from MuseGlobal.

LexisNexis prototype of its Congressional Research Digital Collection. I had a few comments about lack of standardization of terms, but other than that, the interface looks clean. Since it’s only a prototype, actual searching wasn’t yet possible.

NewsBank’s competing product from its Readex division. I can see a thorough comparison will be necessary when the LN product goes live later this year.

Rows and rows of exhibits showing graphic novels. For me, more of a curiosity than anything I’d linger over.

In the middle of the graphic novels aisle, the Unshelved comic strip (and 3 book compilations!) about life in the public library. Note to self: Get the daily feed.

Way over in aisle 100, the Jybe booth. It’s kind of hidden, but it’s great technology and nice to see how well the company understands libraries.

The Google Print folks are trying to make clear what they’re doing in regards libraries. Lots of misconceptions out there, I think.

There was an empty Yahoo booth. Yahoo isn’t listed as an exhibitor, so I don’t quite know why there’s a booth that appears it should be occupied by Yahoo but isn’t.

Just a few of the highlights.

Traveling to ALA

Marydee Ojala @ 9:23 am

It seems I spent most of yesterday in some mode of transportation. Drive to airport, get on plane, van to hotel, train to downtown, bus to conference. I probably should have driven, but when I looked at the gridlock on the highway from the train window, I was glad I didn’t.

The ALA exhibit hall is huge. I’d forgotten how many children book publishers and furniture sellers flock to ALA. Not to mention clothing and jewelry vendors. Very different from SLA.

I had a wonderful conversation yesterday with Thomson Gale’s president and CEO, Gordon Macomber, who talked mainly about their new AccessMyLibrary initiative. It’s only been up for a week, but he said the response from librarians has been huge and very positive. Macomber told me that, even with only a week’s worth of data, they’ve observed more searches for popular culture topics using AccessMyLibrary than they see with their other products, such as InfoTrac. It looks to me like a good opportunity for libraries to make themselves more visible in their communities. If, of course, they subscribe to Gale’s content. So, in a sneaky fashion, I suppose you could chalk up AccessMyLibrary to Gale’s desire to sign up more libraries as customers.

I also met the new vice chairman and head of global academic and customer relations for Elsevier , Y.S. Chi. Before we settled into interview mode, he informed me this was his first day on the job. You have to give him credit for being willing to talk with any of his constituencies, particularly in the hectic atmosphere of such a large conference as ALA. I know lots of people in his position who wouldn’t be so forthcoming, who wouldn’t immediately jump into public contact. Apparently, he’d already had an earful from some academic librarians about their concerns. That didn’t surprise me. I think he’ll have learned a lot by the time he goes home from this conference.

Who Chose the Background Music?

Marydee Ojala @ 6:49 am

I just spent way too much time trying to find a person to talk to about some errors on a bill. After enduring the automated voice that couldn’t understand what I wanted; the interminable “press 1 for xxx; press 2 for yyy; press 18000 for zzz” menus and sub-menus; and being placed on hold several times by human beings who weren’t in the proper department and wanted to transfer me to the next, equally incorrect, department, I realized that the background music kept repeating, “I’ve seen better days.” Who’s their music director, anyway?

Anniversaries at ALA

Marydee Ojala @ 8:22 am

Sorting through all the postcards I receive from vendors prior to ALA, I noticed two anniversaries. Thorndike Press, a publisher of large print books and a subsidiary of Thomson Gale , is celebrating its 25th. The booth number is 1501.

Demco is a bit older. It’s celebrating its 100th and is giving away a $10,000 Room Makeover to one lucky library. You must enter at the booth, which is #1003. I’m guessing this giveaway is the most expensive one at the show and sure makes imprinted ballpoint pens look chintzy. Then again, how many library vendors exhibiting at ALA can point to a 100-year history?

AAP & Google; AAP & authors

Marydee Ojala @ 1:01 pm

According to today’s The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Association of American Publishers has asked Google “to stop scanning copyrighted books published by the association’s members for at least six months….” This is to give the AAP time to look into potential copyright infringement. Google acknowledges it received the request from the AAP, but haven’t responded to it. Susan Wojcicki, director of product management for Google Print, is quoted in the article as saying she believes the library book digitization project is “fully consistent with fair use.”

The AAP has also created a Web site called Authors @ Your Library to link publishers and librarians in scheduling authors for library events. It’s not really live yet, although there is some searchable data. If you’ll be at ALA in Chicago (25-28 June 2005), more information will be at the FOLUSA (Friends of Libraries USA) booth, #4227.

July/August Issue

Marydee Ojala @ 4:18 pm

The July/August issue of ONLINE arrived today. Cover story on blog searching by Christina Pikas, a review of the EPA Web site by Amy Affelt, an article comparing web-based chat with IM by Sarah Houghton and Aaron Schmidt (want to take a wild guess on which comes out the winner?), and coverage of library copying in the digital age by Kevin Dames.

The columnists take on scholarly searching (Greg Notess), aviation (me), Firefox (Walt Crawford), e-collaboration (Darlene Fichter), link resolvers (George Plosker), web site redesign (Kim Guenther), and “getting directions from strangers” (Mary Ellen Bates). Peter Jacso shares what he likes (SAGE journals on HighWire and DLIST) and what he doesn’t (FindArticles). Deb Wiley reviews some books and Suzanne Sabroski and Greg Notess recap industry news.

How About Young Cranky People?

Marydee Ojala @ 8:23 am

Steven’s post calling Blake “the new cranky old man,” inheriting the title from Walt, just doesn’t sit all that well with me. I really think that different people use technologies differently, just as people have different learning styles. Stephen Abram has written and spoken voluminously on the latter topic. More to the point, dividing up the information professional community into old and young is counter-productive. That’s more or less what I said in my editorial to be published in the July/August 2005 issue of ONLINE .

And, yes, reiterating Walt’s comment on Steven’s post, listserv is trademarked. In print, I use the phrase “discussion list” instead.

Find.com Adds Goliath

Marydee Ojala @ 2:41 pm

I’ve been doing some searching on Find.com, which I reviewed in ONLINE back in September/October 2004. It still says it’s in beta and has the tag line “True Business Search.” It’s added some premium content in the last year and sports a new tab, its fifth, for Articles. Unfortunately, the “how to use Find.com” page still shows only the original four tabs. Articles is sourced from Gale’s Goliath product, with all articles priced at $9.95. The search engine still has some problems distinguishing business web sites from non-business information and it no longer tells you which search engines it is metasearching. Premium results no longer show up at the top of a Web search. Instead there are lots, and I mean lots, of “sponsored links” (aka ads). Once you’ve done a search, you are presented with possible search refinements, similar to what you see at Northern Light or Vivisimo, but not always as useful. I did a search on a company name and one of the suggested refinements was “forgot your password?” Hmmm. Needs some work.

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