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February 26, 2007

ICIS Returns August 2006 Archived Chemical Prices To The Web (Open Access) and Launches ICIS Students Site

.: Those who follow this humble blog are aware that I have been on a mission of sorts regarding ICIS and its publication, Chemical Market Reporter (CMR), which became ICIS Chemical Business Americas (ICBA) in September 2006. My rants posts included rants coverage about the removal of weekly chemical prices from the print edition of CMR in 2005, and then the sudden and unannounced end of CMR during the first week of September 2006, and the appearance a week later of its replacement, ICBA, complete with 80% of the chemical prices permanently removed from its weekly listing. I last reported that I had received a very positive response to my rants concerns from Penny Wilson, the ICIS Global Editorial Director, who reaffirmed ICIS's commitment to its student readers. Subsquent to Penny's first response, she forwarded a number of suggestions for what ICIS could provide on its website to be of use to students. These included:

1. Create a holding tank for company price announcements. In this way students will get a lot more than from the slimmed down list currently offered on the ICBA site. The latter is provided by ICIS pricing and updated regularly, but it is not enough for students themselves. The prices we offered on the old CMR site were a big attraction to students, even though they were out of date and very rarely updated by CMR which didn't have the resources to do so.

2. Create a kind of "my space" for student blogs and forums - it will be global and allow students to swap information and discussions, tips and anything else they'd like to swap across many oceans, or just locally. It needs to be self-governed in some way. Undoubtedly it would provide us with good fodder to follow in our own content, as well as helping us take the temperature of students' needs/wants/thoughts etc.....

3. Create a holding tank for interesting student papers so they can be shared and aired. Academic papers could also be accommondated. A kind of "think-tank" environment.

4. Create a space for employers to market their companies to the next generation of employees - no job ads of course, but they could talk about the career development and post grad training opportunities they offer.

5. Create a space/holding tank for press releases. This would allow students to keep up with the news of the day (however biased) and also help them get a handle on vital industry information.

Over the past few months, Penny, her ICIS colleague Sue Royse, and I have been in touch a few times, and last week, Sue called from London to advise that the first iteration of the new ICIS Students site is up and running:
Welcome to the first phase of our service to students. We intend to develop this area into an entire Knowledge Zone, with information designed to help students with their studies and to equip tutors with some teaching tools. We hope it will turn into a space in which students and academics worldwide can communicate and discuss issues with each other, and showcase their best work to the wider world, not least potential employers.
Included in the new site is the last set of full chemical prices from the last issue of CMR, dated 28 August 2006, which at the very least can provide students with pricing information that for the next while is not necessarily that outdated. Additionally, Penny is soliciting feedback on how to make the site more useful and robust, so PLEASE send her your comments and ideas.

So kudos to Penny Wilson, Sue Royse, and the ICIS staff for not simply giving my concerns lip-service, but actually walking the walk. Penny and Sue plan to consult with a number of chemisty and chemical/materials engineering librarians and faculty in the coming months, to improve the site and make it as useful to students as possible. What's refreshing to me is that this is a rare example of a publisher - a trade publisher no less! - responding sincerely and to the needs of a very small percentage of their readership - students, who are their future customers.

February 20, 2007

Winter 2007 Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship

.: The Winter 2007 issue of Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship is now available for viewing.

February 12, 2007

Introducing The Book

.: Puts it all into perspective.

February 7, 2007

EPA Library Closures: ALA President Leslie Burger Testifies Before Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

.: Interesting post from the blog, Direct Dispatch: News for Librarians and Friends of Libraries from the ALA Washington Office, concerning the closures of several EPA libraries recently. Leslie Burger, ALA President, spoke about how the closures had effectively weakened the EPA library system:

"As one recently retired EPA librarian described it," Burger said in her testimony, "the EPA libraries have been functioning like a virtual National Library on the Environment. Now that some of these regional libraries and the pesticide library are closed, key links have been removed from the chain, thus weakening the whole system."

Burger also addressed the EPA's lack of openness with regard to digitizing its materials. "Without more detailed information about the EPA's digitization project, we cannot assess whether they are digitizing the most appropriate materials, whether there is appropriate metadata or cataloging to make sure that people can access the digitized materials, and that the technology that will be used to host the digital content and the finding software meets today's standards."

With the Democrats now in control, Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), took the EPA Director, Stephen Johnston, to task over his apparent lack of awareness and knowledge of the EPA libraries:
Today's oversight hearing, the first in a series looking into EPA's recent actions, also featured testimony from EPA Director Stephen Johnson, who was grilled by Senator Boxer for his lack of knowledge about the libraries. Boxer produced several emails concerning the disposal of library materials and as she produced each one slapped it down onto the podium. Johnson testified that he had no knowledge of these emails or of any directives for disposing of materials, aside from those that were duplicates. Senator Boxer gave Johnson one month to respond to questions he wasn't willing or able to answer.