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 Trends

Marydee Ojala @ 9:19 am

Following the SLA breakfast, I went down to the exhibition, which looks very nice this year, to prepare for my first talk. My topic was online trends. I talked about how personalization is altering search results and how visualized searching will require different literacy skills. Social search is definitely a topic of interest, particularly real time search. Predictive search holds various challenges for information professionals because we have so many different reasons for searching. And searching for us isn’t shopping.

I really believe that information professionals will have to make their own future because we are not the target audience for the web search companies. We need to insert the library into online, keep information professionals visible and relevant, and demonstrate how new technologies benefit people and enhance research.

SLA at Online Information

Marydee Ojala @ 9:13 am

The SLA Europe breakfast this morning was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends. No one from headquarters was there, but SLA president-elect Brent Mai was there to make a few welcoming remarks. SLA Europe president Sara Batts ran a most efficient AGM. It’s impressive to realize how much the chapter has accomplished this year! It will be interesting to see if any SLA members show up tomorrow at the AIIP breakfast, since the two organizations swapped days this year!

Online Information 2011

Marydee Ojala @ 12:43 pm

Today was set-up for exhibition stands for the Online Information 2011 conference. I’m going to try for some live (or reasonably close to live) blog posts from the show. Don Hawkins is also blogging the conference on behalf of Information Today at his Conference Circuit blog, which he’s named “Live from London” for the week.

Seeing the banner for his blog caused me to wax nostalgic, as I recalled those early, heady days of blogging in London. As a group, several editors began our live blogging experiment in 2003. You can still see the archived blog posts for 2003 – 2009 here.

We were big on photos at the time, so here’s one of the exhibition hall today when most of the stands were “under wraps.”


The American Economics Association stand still shrink-wrapped

Don’t I Know Your Name?

Marydee Ojala @ 11:40 am

I received an email from a British librarian asking for a copy of an article I once wrote with the title “Best of British: British Information Online.” I remembered writing it — and I remember I wrote it rather a long time ago — but I could remember neither the exact date of publication nor which journal published it.

As a good online researcher, I turned to traditional fee-based databases to nudge my memory. I figured that if the British librarian couldn’t find the citation, he’d probably already Googled it, so I didn’t bother. Turns out I wrote it for Database in 1988.

I learned 2 things from my little search. First, almost every information source I discussed no longer exists. The exception is Companies House, which remains the repository for financial regulatory filings for UK companies. Ah, the ever-changing world of online!

Second is that ProQuest has a bit of a problem with journal title changes. Database changed it name to EContent in 1999. It is indexed and abstracted by EBSCO, ProQuest, and WilsonWeb, among others. Most duly note the title change and my 1988 article is ascribed to Database, not EContent. But ProQuest’s ABI/INFORM Complete apparently did a global term replacement on the journal title, so my article is cited as appearing in EContent, even though it was published 11 years before the title change. The analogy that springs to mind is Jane Jones marrying John Doe. If she takes his name, she becomes Jane Doe on her wedding day, but ProQuest assumes she was born Jane Doe. One wonders what Jane Jones’ parents make of this.

Here’s another quirk: When I looked for Best of British in ProQuest Dialog’s File 15 (ABI/INFORM), the database gives the citation, correctly, as Database.

ProQuest get the names of Database and EContent confused — and it’s own ABI/INFORM has internal differences even though the databases have the same name.

Luckily I’m at the Online Information conference this week, so will have the chance to ask them about this in person.

Penguin Petulance

Marydee Ojala @ 8:35 am

Paid Content has an interesting post today about why Penguin might have decided to pull its ebook titles from libraries. Laura Hazard Owen speculates that Penguin is retaliating against Amazon’s Kindle deal with OverDrive, that it’s worried about people checking out ebooks from libraries not in their geographic area (she claims to have 4 valid library cards for 4 different public libraries in 4 different places), and that it’s concerned that library lending will cut into sales. The latter is absurd, as the model of the public library buying and lending out books is more than well established!

There will be a lot written about the Penguin decision, both from the publisher perspective and the library perspective. What struck me about Owen’s piece is her calm analysis. What surprised me is her possession of 4 library cards.

The Penguin dustup also gives me the opportunity to give this blog’s readers a heads up that ONLINE will have a new columnist starting with the January/February 2012 issue. It’s called EBook Buzz and will be written by Sue Polanka, an expert on ebooks and blogger at No Shelf Required. In fact, her blog post yesterday on the Penguin situation lists several URLs where other commentary on the situation can be found.

I’m very excited to have Sue as an ONLINE columnist!

Employable Librarians?

Marydee Ojala @ 8:49 am

File under Dangers of Statistics. A Wall Street Journal article about Generation Jobless included an interactive table listing employment rates by college major. I sorted by employment rate and the resulting table put library science third from the bottom. The source of the data is the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. This morning, that chart was mentioned on the National Public Radio program, Morning Edition, but it said the source was the Census Bureau. Now I don’t doubt that Georgetown University got its original data from the Census Bureau, but I do wish that commentators, particularly those who are librarians, would understand the data better than those who give it a cursory glance and declare they’ve always wanted to be an accountant rather than a librarian.

Didn’t anybody wonder why international business was also at the bottom of the list? That would seem a growth opportunity for employment.

Astute readers will immediately grasp that this chart reflects employment rates based on Bachelors degrees. To land a job as a qualified librarian, you need a Masters degree. I suspect that the international business jobs go to individuals who’ve earned an MBA.

So, before we all join the lemmings decrying the plight of the unemployable
library degree holder, let’s recognize the basic flaw in the data. As with many statistics, understanding the wider context is critical to interpreting the raw data.

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