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July 31, 2008

Podcasts From SLA

.: A number of podcasts from selected sessions at the SLA Conference in Seattle, 14-18 June 2008, are available for listening via the Click U site. You do not need to be a member of SLA to listen to the podcasts (as best I can determine).

June 1, 2007

SLA in Denver

.: I will be in Denver from Saturday 02 June until Thursday 07 June, attending the SLA Conference. Hope to see you there!

July 21, 2005

"Better Understanding Your Users: - An SLA Chemistry Division Web Forum

:: The Chemistry, Physics-Astronomy-Mathematics, and SciTech Divisions of SLA are co-hosting the web conference, "Better Understanding Your Users", a SLA Chemistry Division Forum. The posters were originally presented at the SLA Annual meeting in Toronto, June 2005.

June 22, 2005

Standards Roundtable at SLA Toronto Conference

:: On June 6, 2005, I moderated the annual Standards Roundtable session at the SLA Conference in Toronto. Despite having a room that was half the size requested, and one in which the convention centre staff actually put roundtables instead of rows of chairs, the session was a good one. With twelve speakers, it was a challenge to keep everyone within a 5-7 minute time limit, but all participants did their best to stay within their assigned time, which was appreciated. Feedback from the session was received, and included suggestions for improving the session for 2006.

Keith Martin of NIST was one of the participants, and he provided the following summary of the standards roundtable:

The Standards Roundtable met with a standing room only crowd. Twelve speakers representing the U.S. Government, Canadian industry, a UN agency, standards developers and standards vendors presented, followed by a vigorous question and answer period. Selected highlights from each speaker are presented here:
  • A representative from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Research Library discussed the standards and standard reference data available for free from NIST.
  • The Canadian Standards Association discussed their work with academic institutions to provide students access to standards and codes.
  • The Standards Council of Canada described itself as a Canadian equivalent of ANSI, with a mission to encourage standards use in Canada. The Council also accredits standards labs, and approves voluntary Canadian standards.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) develops nuclear safety standards, which may be downloaded from their site or purchased from standards vendors.
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) noted that its ACSE 7 standard, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, has recently been updated.
  • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) would like to hear from its library customers if they would prefer to get ASME standards directly from ASME or through a vendor, and why.
  • The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is working to offer redlined standards. ASTM International is expanding to cover standards in the areas of homeland security and biotechnology.
  • IEEE will add draft standards to the IEEE Electronic Library and also integrate “smart objects”, such as mathematical equations, into their publications.

  • From the standards vendors, Techstreet was purchased by Thomson, and ILI Infodesk has a new website and offers a 40% discount to academic libraries. IHS will soon offer historical SAE standards.
    Topics raised during the question and answer period covered digital rights management, document management software, and the availability of online taxonomies.
My thanks to Keith for providing his notes from the session.

June 9, 2005

SLA Session - Future of Search Engines (Google View)

:: I attended a session at SLA in Toronto called The Future of Search Engines. One of the speakers was Cathy Gordon, Director of Business Development for Google. After stating that her opinions were her own, and didn't reflect those of Google, she began with a mini infomercial (standard fare, and expected) about the infamous search engine, noting that users can now search in >100 languages, it is the #1 search engine in 17 of 20 countries (didn't say which 17 countries, or the names of the other 3), and that Google powers 70% of all Internet searches. Google doesn't create its own content, tries to knock down spam results, and does not accept payment for inclusion. Users may submit web pages to Google for indexing, and currently it indexes >8 billion pages, and >12,000 news sources.

She mentioned "Premium Content" (apparently a new or forthcoming feature in which Google will somehow get behind subscription firewalls to for-fee dbs), and noted that book search results from Google Print are not integrated into Google web searches, as the pages from the books are not ranked.

In discussing Google Scholar, she said it was created by an engineer looking for scholarly content. Some dbs and full-text scholarly journals are being indexed, along with theses, dissertations, books, technical reports, and other material. When asked about a source list of what is indexed in Google Scholar, she said she didn't know exactly why this still isn't being offered by Google. GS uses link resolvers to allow for access to articles on an IP-authenticated machine (where the institution subscribes to the publication in which the article is found).

As for the topic of the session itself, Gordon believes that users will continue to demand more control, while the search engine will become more personal and sophisticated but must remain simple to use. The depth, breadth and type of searchable content will continue to expand, and the challenge is to present this variety of information in a coherent and cohesive manner. Geographic and language barriers will continue to decrease, and desktop tethering will be eliminated - i.e., the need to have a desktop computer to search will no longer be the case as searching becomes ubiquitious. To this end, Google offers the option of personalizing your Google homepage, along with My Search History.

She summarized as follows: searching remains a primitive function, users must be at the centre of improvements, the increasing amounts of searchable information will require innovative solutions to manage its complexity, and searching must be accessible at any time, from any location, using any device.