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.

When Worlds Collide

Marydee Ojala @ 12:33 pm

Since I do a fair amount of conference program planning, I read Meetings & Conventions magazine. Imagine my surprise when I found the opening sentence of the January 2009 cover story, "Blogged Down," to be all about a librarian blogging the 2008 ALA annual conference! She was "stunned and appalled" to pick up a pamphlet in an ALA session room selling diet pills, with the sales contact person being the wife of the speaker. The article then goes on to quote Jenny Levine, as a representative of ALA, on what conference organizers should do when a blogger posts negative comments. Never did I think I’d be reading about Jenny — or about a national library conference — in the non-library trade press. Very cool! And the advice given in the article is excellent, including how to respond to a negative post, where to track your reputation in the blogosphere, and why conference planners should pay attention to bloggers and, now, microbloggers on Twitter. I particularly liked the quote from Kenny Lauer, director of digital technologies for George P.Johnson, who said, "You lose control if you’re not listening, if you’re not joining the conversation, if you’re not present." Very true.

New Blog in Town

Marydee Ojala @ 1:00 pm

Just released at the end of last week is a blog devoted entirely to the Buying & Selling eContent show. It had kind a stealth launch, but already there have been some thoughtful observations posted on BSECBlog about the future of publishing. It’s not just a shill for the conference, though it’s certainly meant to help promote the observations and ideas of the speakers and organizers. Worth taking a look at — and I should, in the interests of full disclosure, say that I will be contributing some blog posts to it as well as blogging here.

Self-Publishing Company Consolidation

Marydee Ojala @ 9:40 am

In the May/June 2008 issue of ONLINE Walt Crawford devoted his column to his experiences with self-publishing books. He talked about Lulu and about CreateSpace (an Amazon company). His books published witih CreateSpace bear the imprint of Cites & Insights. A friend of mine took Walt’s column to heart and self-published a cookbook to give to her family and friends. I’m thinking iti won’t show up in WorldCat, although Walt’s self-published books do. I just checked and the book he published with Lulu, Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change, is in 64 libraries, while his Cites & Insights books are in fewer. Academic Library Blogs is held by 15 libraries and Public Library Blogs is in 28.

There are other companies in the self-publishing space. Yesterday, one of them, Author Solutions, Inc. bought a rival self-publishing company, Xlibris, further narrowing the field. Author Solutions, based in Bloomington, Indiana, also owns the imprints AuthorHouse, AuthorHouse UK, iUniverse, Wordclay,and Inkubook. Author solutions is owned by San Mateo, California-based private equity firm Bertram Capital Management LLC. Bertram acquired Author Solutions in January 2007 and added iUniverse to the portfolio in October 2007. Author solutions estimates it published 19,000 titles in 2008, while Xlibris, based in Philadelphia, says it has over 20,000 titles in print. Xlibris brings marketing tools to Author Solutions, something that Walt discussed in his column. The publishing on demand companies he dealt with handle printing, order placement, payment, and shipping. They don’t market your book for you. How much marketing do self-published books need? That depends on why the author wants to publish. If, like my friend, you’re creating a book for family and friends, marketing is not an issue. If you want a best-seller, marketing is essential.

Spring Conferences

Marydee Ojala @ 11:29 am

It’s January. The sky is gray. There’s freezing rain outside. Not nice. So, my thoughts drift off to spring and warmer climes. There are several conferences from Information Today, Inc. that should be really great. And, of course, I offer that opinion in a totally non-biased way, not because I’m speaking and/or involved in program planning!

First up is Computers in Libraries (March 30 through April 1 at the Hyatt Regency, Crystal City), which is a 3-day, 5-track conference. It’s also got a "Gaming & Gadgets Petting Zoo" on Sunday night and both pre- and post-conference workshops on Sunday and Thursday. That’s a lot of information packed into one conference! My talk, on evaluating, recommending & justifying 2.0 tools, is Tuesday afternoon. Keynote speakers are Pew Internet & American Life Project’s Lee Rainie, who always has something new to report, Paul Holdengraber from New York Public Library, who was featured in the Shanachies US road trip video, and Donna Scheeder, who’s the director of law library services for the Law Library of Congress. Donna’s the cover story for the January/February 2009 issue of ONLINE, where she talks about the Global Legal Information Network.

The following week is Buying & Selling eContent in delightful Scottsdale, Arizona. This high-level executive conference is the meeting place for the information industry luminaries. Lots of new faces for the speaker list — along with favorites from prior years. Of particular interest are the tributes to the EContent 100 award winners. Keynote speakers include Rafat Ali, Anthea Stratigos, Lior Arussy, Sarah Milstein, and Marty Kahn. I’m really looking forward to BSeC!

In May, Enterprise Search Summit comes back to the New York Hilton. The advance program for this confereence just went up on the website and I confess I haven’t studied it in detail. A quick look, though, shows lots of new topics and new faces. Enterprise search remains an important area for technology buffs and ESS tempers technology with business realities.

Should be an interesting spring. Now, if the freezing rain would just stop, I’d be happy!



Library Budgets & Foreign Exchange

Marydee Ojala @ 12:28 pm

Why does it seem to always come as a surprise to librarians that their budgets can be affected  by foreign exchange? Last year, when the pound to dollar ratio was an excruciating 2 to 1, it was the US librarians bemoaning the lack of purchasing power when it came to British and European journals. This year, as we Americans are happier with the exchange rate closer to 1.5 to 1, it is the British whose budgets are in need of help. An article by Zoe Corbyn in THE (Times Higher Education) titled "Journal subscriptions at risk as weak pound hits library budget" quotes Mark Brown, chair of Research Libraries UK and head of the library at the University of Southampton, as saying libraries might have to cancel journals because their budgets won’t stretch to meet the strengthened dollar. I’m sympathetic with the predicament, and hugely aware of the difficulties of predicting exchange rates (just look at all the experts who predicted oil prices at $200 a barrel!), but I’m not sure why this is considered to be news. Exchange rate fluctuations are inevitable. Whether they go in your favor or not, however, is a guessing game that, inevitably, librarians will sometimes win and sometimes lose.

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