VALA 2010 L-Plate Series

Here are my notes from the L-Plate series at VALA 2010 conference.  I am just cutting and pasting from what I took at the time, so I apologise for spelling and grammar, no time to do anything else at this stage.

Hope you get something out of it. I got plenty.

Open Source Software – Kathryn Greenhill
Imperfect analogy – spaghetti sauce – buy it in jar or make it yourself.
Flexibility and control.  Open Source requires particular skills, still has a price, but involves community effort and altruism.

Proprietary software: license, user restricted, no source code
Open Source: free redistribution, source code accessible, derived works, integrity of code, no discrimination, not specific to purpse, device, works with other software

There are checks and balances before any new code goes into the code base.

Key ideas of Open Source – release early – release often, many eyes make bugs shallow, peer review, developer-user relationship.

Koha – open source library management system.
Check for cot comparisons between proprietary and open source over time.

We already use open source software – linux, apache, mysql, php, firefox.
Who else uses os? Denmark using Open Office by 2011, Trove at NLA, White House uses Drupal, for their website, North  East Kansas Libraries for their LMS.

Examples of open source software: Open Office, Word Press, Drupal, Mediawiki, Gimp, Dimdim, Zimbra, Pidgin, Audacity, VLC media player.

Open source LMS – Evergreen, Koha, OLE project

Discovery layers – Scriblio, Sopac2 and more

Digital resources management – Kete, Omeka

Whats stopping us from using Open Source?  Skills. We need to know about relational databases, SML,  indexing and programming
Cost – of change
Perceived accountability
Centralised IT
Maturity of the products
Consortial impacts
Monopolies – marketing
What users have at home
Cloud computing and Software as a Service (Saas)
Closed hardware

What we can gain by using open source software?
Skills, flexibility, control, nimbleness, accountability, budgetary control.

However, software needs to fit the purpose and the organisation.

Library Mashups and APIs – Paul Hagon
RSS is a common API (application programming interface)
Can be used to interact with other services – application on iphone for eg.
API is used to put javascript showing marker on a Google map.
Don’t have to do the hard work, that is all done for you.

Can use APIs to adapt URLs to change what you are getting out of a site ie. Google calendar display on our website.
Can be used with our website – but they can be fragile, as they can break if you change your website.
Can use microformats – ie. Vcards for phones and internet.

Mashups using more than one data source to make something new – may be totally disparate. One of earliest was chicagocrime. org – Google maps and crime reports.
Libraries are using mashups involving Google maps and Flickr, Picture Australia has an open search interface – can add search to your browser options, Picture Australia with Google maps and geotagging, along with your location giving you photos of local area.

Code alert – a lot of  mashups involve XML. Jquery and YUI can help ease you into the process.

Where to start: Your library catalogue can help – check your RSS feeds – play with the XML and see what you can do. – data licensed for re-use under Creative Commons. – links to all the resources and demos used.

Tools available to help – Yahoo Developer Network – YQL, use common language to extract XML. Yahoo Pipes, Firebug – plugin for Firefox.

Why? – Our community not just consumers, also producers once data is made available. Some of ours could be creating these sorts of things, if only the data is available – let our geeks loose on our data.

Semantic Web – Tom Tague

Check out stuff on semantic web on Wikipedia – good foundation.

Variety of interpretations: web 3.0, near religious standard, set of technical standards and capabilities we can use – very hard to define

Standards and Capabilities: RDF (resource description framework – form of XML – ugly but it is the standard), RDFS/OWL/Other ontology standards – great debate about these, Linked data, Automated semantic information generation.

OpenCalais – Thomas Reuters initiative to connect world’s business content, free service that brings new efficiencies and productivity to publishers and content creators, fastest easiest way to categorize your contentand tag the entities, facts and events therein; 30,000s of users, 4-8 million transactions daily.

Issues: attaching metadata to content is expensive – both in time and money.

Metadata generation – feed content into their extraction engine, categorizes the stories and returns the metadata to you, also returns links.

Linked data – standard for publishing data on the web – uses RDF –  add data as well as links to other relevant linked data (not webpages, actual data). Standard is exploding, but there is no governance – ‘geeks playing in highway’ – librarians can add a lot of value to this as well as using the data generated.

There are alternatives to Open Calais – Yahoo and more.

Use it to:  add metadata to cotent, content enhancement via linked data, build your own linked data could, but don’t just think source content (commentary, user submitted content)

Think about collections: repositories, trend analysis, harmonization across data sets, federated search.

Cloud Computing – Bart Rutherford
Geek and poke cartoons.

No standard definition of cloud computing – consistently about the internet however.

Charting –  input/processor/output, corporate computing – people with money had these systems (banking, transport).

Progress of clients – fat clients, thin clients, desktop computer as client, browser as client.

How things have changed: mobile as client, internet, cheap storage, broadband, wifi, 3G and LTE, Open source and Linux, Ipv6

Lots of different types of clouds – public eg Facebook, private – Intranet, hybrid. Joined by VPNs and virtualization (servers with sub-servers within it)

Saas, Iaas, Paas
Software as a service – vendor provides hardware and infrastructure, user interacts through PC – eg. Webmail, facebook, twitter, Apples App, Google Docs, BitTorrent, DropBox and so  much more.
Infrastructure as a service – Amazon, Microsoft Azure.
Platform as a service – software and development tools hosted on the providers infrastructure, access and delivery (API) – Google Apps, Yahoo Pipes, Google Maps, Sugar CRM, Finance eg. Paypal.

Complexity runs from low to high – moves from consumer to developer.

Services are based on buy as you use – like utility bills. Scalable – to meet your needs, cost effective – PAYG and low tech input, secure and automated, mobility.

Warnings – no network connection – no cloud, no local storage – no local data,  slow connections no good, what to do if provider is destroyed?

Global outlook – EASE – Everything as a service, everywhere!  Won’t matter where your data is, just need the power and network connection to get to it.

Discovery Layer Interfaces – Marshall Breeding
Crowded landscape of information providers on the web – lots of non-library destinations, ie. Google Search and Scholar, Amazon, Wikipedia,

Digital natives are more experienced than us in web stuff, so when they come to our websites and catalogues, they are way underwhelmed. Don’t want to lose relevancy to this audience who have been raised on those listed above.

Evolution of library collection discovery tools: bound handwritten catalogues, card catalogues, OPACs – many libraries have stagnated here, discovery interfaces, web-scale discovery services.

Not just about books on shelves, but about all our subscription content, digital items and more.

Don’t want a computerised card catalogue, although that is generally what we still have.  Amazon is our competition in terms of user interfaces and information presented.  They make it as transparent to the user as they can.  It has a complex layered structure, but with a simple user interface.

Have a lot of great content and services, but have too many barriers to our users accessing them.

Disjointed approach to delivery: silos prevail – catalogue, databases, website and more and each one has to be accessed individually.

Simple vision – single point of entry to all the content and services offered by the library, but wth precision, nuanced sophistication and multiple dimensions. Doesn’t preclude advanced searching options and ability to hone in on particular services or collections as alternative options.

Modernized interface – single search box, query tools (did you mean, type ahead), relevance ranked results, faceted navigation, enhanced visual displays – covers and summaries/reviews, recommendation services. Must be visually pleasing, give more than a single record and helps users find more.

Can have any front end almost regardless of what back end you use.

Deep indexing – metadata is no longer enough, increasing opportunities to search full content, commercial providers already doing so.

Current phase of discovery tools now focused on pre-populated indexes that aim to deliver Web-scale delivery eg. Summon, WorldCat  Local, EBSCO Discovery, Primo Central, Encore with Article Intergration.

Products available will index the vast majority of content that libraries have in their collections.

Beyond local discovery – eg. NCSU – Summon, Phoenix Public – Endeca (very Amazon like interface), Queens Public Library – Aquabrowser.

Need to make our search compelling, but not overwhelm our users with the guff about what and where they are searching.

Being social: apps for libraries – Kim Tairi

Social media conversion scale – image from –

Social apps about conversations, marketing and communications with our users.

She follows High Country Public Library on Twitter – they talk about the library and things that are happening in their broader community as well.

Amongst top 10 tools for libraries – niche networks – eg, NING, built by users, focus on particular interest, UX – User experience, want to create good ones – starts at design and works through testing, evaluating and decision making.

More visual infographics – designing messages so they are clear, short, sharp. eg. The story (so far) of Twitter (image). Move to make visual communication more widespread.

Twitter can enhance your experience – back channel is interesting and adds to the experience. Librarians are sharing. Kim’s presentation was based a lot on the feedback she got from people on Twitter. It gives you a sense of community and helps to build a community. It is self-selecting, creates conversation, can be used for public note-taking and it’s interactive. Great as a personal learning network, both with workmates and colleagues at other libraries. Can get followed by bots or social media gurus, but can control it by blocking them or making your tweets private.

Mobile interfaces for catalogues and websites. Deakin Uni has done this. NYPL has an iPhone app. Can get into mobile interfaces, apps, info literacy, tours and QR codes (see Powerhouse Museu who are doing great things with these).

Technology petting zoos – letting users play with the new technology, as well as staff.

Social apps and networks have taken off since VALA2008 – need to get into it. Australia has now 7.9 million active Facebook users, there over 400 million worldwide.

eBooks – Bart Rutherford

File formats for ebooks include text, html, pdf, mobipocket, DjVu – magazine specific, EPUB – Kindle uses azw which is a modified mobipocket. Some locked in DRM, some not.

Can read ebook content on desktops, mobile phones etc – software includes Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket, Adobe Reader (pdf) and Calibre (open source read and convert).

EPUB – open publication structure – open XHTML, open packaging format – SML, OEBPS Container format – bundled ZIP file. Many readers that originally came out with proprietary formats are now opening up to EPUB. Keep watch out for EPUB and the devices that will read it.

DRM – Digital Rights Management (Bart’s boss calls it Don’t Read Me). PID Personal identification number – can restrict to one user, unlike print copy,  Access levels include print, copy, paste and now lending, depending on device and content.

Content – Amazon: Fiction to Kindle, Dymocks – using eBook library growing fiction, Gutenberg Project, Read Cloud, EBL – nonfiction, academic learning model using Adobe reader.

Should not have to worry about how the content gets on the device, it should just happen.

Publisher rights are still a problem, so a lot of content that could be available, is not because of these issues.

E-Paper technologies: Elerophoretic technology used by eInk, iRex, Sony Reader, Kindle, Plastic Logic Que. Use glass back pane, but they don’t flex so can break.

Cholesteric technology – Modified LCD, being used by Fujitsu FLEPia. Need to have a colour display which doesn’t require a backlight and doesn’t use as much power.

Combination of eInk and LCD – eg. Nook. LCD gets turned off when reading the ebook.

Electrowetting – controlled water/oil interface, then Electrofluidic technology which uses the former.  Deals with the issue of slow display and these devices will be able to show video.

Interferometric – wavelengths of light etc, uses reflective natural light, low power usage, which can also show video eg. mirasol

Growing market – lots of options and many more on the way. Be sure the one you choose does EPUB.

News Limited is launching the Skiff interface – from publishing to reading, including payment process and their own software.

Publishers will hopefully start putting material out in a wider range of formats so that multiple readers can access them.

The Dream for DRM – Desktop reading, when called away, you pick up where you left off on your e-reader, then the same again with your phone.  As you can with a book.