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.

CIL Editor Goes Hollywood

Marydee Ojala @ 8:11 pm

I picked up a copy of ALA Cognotes at the conference today, but it wasn’t until I actually started reading it back at my hotel that I realized how much I missed by not being here in time for the Friday evening premier screening of the movie “The Hollywood Librarian.” I gather from the photos on page 5 of Cognotes that there was an actual red carpet — and, wait, there at the top of the page is our own Computers in Libraries editor, Kathy Dempsey, wearing those over-sized movie star sunglasses. Although I rather suspect real movie stars don’t get their sunglasses from ProQuest.

Xrefer Becomes Credo

Marydee Ojala @ 6:48 am

In another announcement yesterday, Xrefer changed its name to Credo Reference, citing the problems of pronouncing the former name. In fact CEO John Dove said the name Xrefer was “far from memorable to those who might hear it for the first time. This made it hard to pass along via word-of-mouth. Our new name speaks to one of the main challenges for online reference publishing, namely how to stand out from the confusing jumble of information and misinformation that today’s online information seeker encounters.”

He’s correct about Credo being a somewhat better name. Even Blogger’s inadequate spell checker, which flags Xrefer as a misspelled word, accepts Credo. But I still have a problem with pronunciation: Is it a long e (as in creed) or a short e (as in credit)? I’ll have to ask them.

The URL changed as well. The new one is here.

Bowker Acquires MediaLab Solutions

Marydee Ojala @ 6:35 am

This was mentioned in an offhand comment during yesterday morning’s Digital Native session, but it took me a while to get back up to the press room (like until 5 p.m.) to scarf the press release, which isn’t yet online at either company’s web sites. Here’s a paraphrase of what the printed one says. R.R. Bowker announced its acquisition of Medialab Solutions, creators of the AquaBrowser Library search and discovery platform. Bowker seems enchanted by the “popular and user-friendly visual faceted search technology,” believing it will help Bowker deliver its existing products better. Medialab’s co-founder, Bastiaan Zwaan and his team will remain in Amsterdam. It looks like he will report to Annie Callanan, president of R.R. Bowker.

EBSCO Acquires Two History Databases

Marydee Ojala @ 6:11 am

Yesterday’s joint press conference (EBSCO and ABC-CLIO) added some information to the press release of June 15th announcing EBSCO’s acquisition of two history databases from ABC-CLIO: Historical Abstracts (HA) and America: History and Life (AHL). EBSCO will also distribute eight additional history databases and ABC-CLIO’s online history ebook collection, called History Reference Online. The two companies already had a close relationship; they announced a distribution agreement only last April and a linking agreement in September 2006. According to EBSCO’s Tim Collins, this acquisition of the two databases “formalizes” the relationship.

The present databases are English-language, abstract only, files. Only about 8% of the titles overlap with those in other EBSCO databases. The plan going forward is to add full text, which will make expanded databases multi-lingual. However, indexing will remain in English. The companies have already licensed and digitized several hundred titles, but–and given the subject matter of the databases, this is highly ironic–some backfiles of the history journals are incomplete. Yes, the historians lost their history! This is an ongoing project, to hunt down and digitize the history journals in Historical Abstracts and in America: History and Life.

Tim also told us that database updating will continue to be done by ABC-CLIO and its abstract and indexing team will remain in place. The pricing will remain the same post-acquisition, although once the enhanced, full text product is in place, customers will have the option to subscribe to the upgraded product at a higher price. He gave no date for the release of the full text versions of the databases.

New LexisNexis Academic Interface

Marydee Ojala @ 12:48 pm

I had a demonstration a few hours ago on the new interface for LexisNexis Academic. The beta logo came off the page only this morning! It looks very nice, more like the new Nexis interface introduced a couple of years ago. Easy search can support advanced search strategies, ones with Boolean and proximity and segment limitations and the like, while Power search is straight Nexis. LN Academic has added some legal information, such as Shephard’s, law reviews, and Federal and state cases. Company Dossier is now there but not Industry Dossier. There’s a language limit from a dropdown menu and I learned LN has two sources from Finland! I searched for “sauna” and filled the screen with Finnish. LN Smart Indexing is refreshed every quarter, which is particularly useful for geography. For example, everything that had been indexed as “Soviet Union” is now indexed “Russia.” I probably need to look into this further, since some of the states that made up the union of soviet socialist republics probably would prefer to be indexed under their own names: Just think Poland, Latvia, or Kazakhstan.

LITA Blogging Room

Marydee Ojala @ 12:47 pm

This is really nice. I’m in the LITA blogging room, which says it has a maximum occupancy of 179 people. Good wireless signal and, until a few minutes ago, I was alone in here!

Saturday in Washington, Must Be ALA

Marydee Ojala @ 12:33 pm

It’s a gorgeous Saturday in Washington DC, or I’m assuming it is, since I haven’t seen much of the outside world since my bus ride from my hotel to the Washington Convention Center for the ALA Annual Conference.

I started out the day, after I found registration, by going to a session on the Digital Native. With a title like that, why did ALA put it in such a small room? I missed most of the opening presentation, which wasn’t by Matthew Hong, but by his Gale colleague, Ken Breen. Most of the value of the session, though, lay not in the slides but in the conversation that ensued. Lots of talk about how libraries are using (or not using) MySpace and FaceBook to reach digital natives. One librarian told of her library’s entry in Wikipedia being deleted because it was “promotional.” Hard to believe that Wikipedia editors would take such a dislike to a library. Someone else suggested it was a Wikipedia policy, but other library pages remain on Wikipedia. Another discussion ensued about libraries in Second Life. I was surprised that some in the room were unacquainted with Second Life.

What is the future fro scholarly research, even when the “scholar” is an undergraduate? Some interesting observations here, about students using deli.cio.us tags to keep track of and share their research sources. At one school, teachers want to see students’ bibliographies before they write their papers.

My frustration with the session, aside from the crowded room, was the number of technologies the attendees seemed unfamiliar with that ONLINE authors and columnists have covered. Peter Jacso, Greg Notess, and Darlene Fichter, in particular, write about exactly the developments that this crowd wanted to hear. I wanted to stand up, wave the magazine around (OK, lots of you have probably seen me do that), and scream, “Just read this and you will so much more knowledgeable!” Yeah, and Wikipedia will then delete me for being promotional.

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