Tom the Librarian

30 September 2015

Library Quotations

Filed under: Library Quotations,Professional — tomthelibrarian @ 8:05 am
“A library is thought in cold storage.”
Samuel, Lord 1870–1963, British Liberal politician
[A Book of Quotations (1947)]
source: “Samuel, Lord” The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations. Ed. Elizabeth Knowles. Oxford University Press, 2002. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Boston University. 24 July 2006 <;
“I’ve been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library.”
Fitzgerald, F. Scott 1896–1940
[The Great Gatsby (1925) ch. 3]
source: “Fitzgerald, F. Scott”   The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations . Ed. Elizabeth Knowles. Oxford University Press, 2003. Oxford Reference Online . Oxford University Press.  Boston University.  24 July 2006  <;
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need”
source:  Anne H. Kenny, Interlibrary Loan Librarian, O’Neill Library, Boston College

14 May 2015

Knowledge will be free – a testament

Filed under: DPLA,Internet Archive,Online / Web,Professional — tomthelibrarian @ 6:42 pm

I had a conversation this morning with a library colleague about the Internet Archive and the DPLA and the difference ‘tween.  I learned years ago working in the millwork business that a single personality – at the top – drives institutions no matter how big or small; and permeates an entire organization.  With that thought Brewster Kahle and Robert Darnton came to mind.

Turns out Darnton is stepping down from his position as University Librarian at Harvard, which I learned about from this Harvard Gazette article.  It’s a portrait of unremitting optimism about the prospects for openness – a wonderful testament.  I particularly liked:  “”Knowledge should be seen as a natural resource. …The danger of commercialization is an ever-present danger,” said Darnton. “Google tried to create a commerce of access, [but in the end] could not put up a wall around our libraries and charge admission.”  Hear, hear!

19 June 2012

Among the privileged few – scholars and campaign funders

Lawrence Lessig, prolific author, Harvard law professor, and Creative Commons founder, opened the 2012 Center for Intellectual Property (CIP) Symposium Wednesday, June 6, 2012 in Baltimore with a powerful keynote he entitled the “Scholar’s Obligation.”

A note on technique:  Lessig used presentation software in an interesting way.  He did not read the slides; he used slides to punctuate and emphasize what he was saying.  He often did this by displaying the keyword of what he was saying or displaying exactly the words he was saying at key moments interspersed with interesting visuals.  The effect was riveting.  I bring this up because in moving away from bullet points and thinking about visual impact it had not occurred to me to use words on slides in this way, even though I’ve noticed it is done on TV ads all the time now.  Now, on to the content of the keynote-

Lawrence Lessig described a privileged world in which scholars live, financed by institutions to which they belong, but within which even some scholars’ efforts to promote openness is corrupted by a government where the money of special interests overpowers a republic of representative democracy.  If we want ultimate influence over our own spheres of life – that is, if we want individual votes to really count as if our opinions mattered – this fundamental moneyed corruption, now seeping into every aspect of the nation’s life, must be remedied.  In short, Lessig delivered a message way beyond what I expected.

For scholars in research institutions information is free.  Free to them.  The less prestigious the institution to which a scholar belongs, the slightly less freely complete the information readily at hand.  The structure by which scholarly information is distributed and the economics of that distribution drive this availability.  To make this point clear, Lessig illustrated how much it might cost unaffiliated citizen John Q Public to quickly retrieve a dozen research articles from a typical Google Scholar search.  The cost for online access would be hundreds of dollars.  Some articles were inaccessible.  Many, sensibly, feel this is not right.


17 February 2011

Mobility up, PC use down

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomthelibrarian @ 10:30 am

Online is everywhere.  The mobile era has begun in earnest.  Morgan Stanley research indicates home PC use may have crested at 33 hours per week in 2008.  Weekly PC use is down to 26 hours now as we all spend more time on our smartphones at the kitchen table, on the sofa, sitting on the porch, out at the park, and even in bed.  And the influence of tablets on behavior has yet to be really felt.

14 February 2011

What or who drives Google search?

Filed under: Online / Web — tomthelibrarian @ 3:25 pm
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The venerable New York Times seems to have uncovered a very successful campaign that bolstered JC Penney’s Google results for searches on “cocktail dresses,” “bedding,” and the like by using unsanctioned “black hat” optimization. Corrective “manual” action by Google’s spam cop quickly dampened these results. The author, David Segal, goes on to explain the traffic value of being top search result, ferrets out a web publisher paid to host links for that purpose and interviews a search optimizer who manages surreptitious campaigns to skew results in favor of his clients. It’s all done by attempting to build link structures that Google measures – the who cites whom phenomenon upon which even scholarly rankings are built. The search optimizer differentiates between influencing commercial searches on Google for say, a suit, and more important and less skewed information searches on, say, a cancer condition.  Nonetheless, the sum effect seems to roil and muddy the clarity of Google’s vaunted methods to assure the integrity of search impartiality.  Enough so that the Times wondered aloud about links between Penney’s advertising expenditures with Google and search placement, even as it conveyed Google’s strong denials of any possibility that this might be the case.

22 January 2011

Social Media on Campus – Boston University

Filed under: Boston University,Online / Web,Professional — tomthelibrarian @ 2:44 pm

Interesting online Washington Post Campus Overload piece about social media at Boston University (BU).  Note especially this comment by BU’s Jenny Mackintosh:  “What is the most important lesson you have learned on Twitter?  Listen, listen, listen. …talking about yourself less …Our followers …want to hear about what’s going on both on campus and in Boston, and they want to know that we’re listening as well.”

BU’s Admissions Facebook worth a look for the changing flavor of doing business –  Forget email.

28 September 2010

Cannot know enough

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomthelibrarian @ 3:20 pm

Successful algorithms crave data and in creating them “they” cannot learn enough about us-

“As CEO Eric Schmidt explained last May [2007] “We cannot even answer the most basic questions because we don’t know enough about you. That is the most important aspect of Google’s expansion.” He said that Google wants to be able to answer when users ask, for example, “the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?'” from Google: Search and Data Seizure written by Jeffrey Chester  in The Nation, October 15, 2007, ( Info about the author is at and a link to the article text retitled Will Google’s Greed Ruin the Internet? is at . Jeffrey Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy

2 March 2010

The State of Online Scholarship

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomthelibrarian @ 4:52 pm

Ejournals, reviews, preprints and working papers, encyclopedias and dictionaries, bibliographies, data, blogs, discussion forums, and professional and scholarly hubs – that’s what Ithaka found when the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) asked them to look into the state of digital scholarship.  Read the 49 page report, Current Models of Digital Scholarly Communication online at, review the scholarly resources here and read a summary news release here. (This is a repost of a 2009 blog entry I originally wrote elsewhere.)

24 February 2010

Scholarly Access and Publisher Compliance (NIH mandate)

Filed under: Professional — tomthelibrarian @ 5:02 pm
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“PubMed Central Deposit and Author Rights,” an ARL publication available online (,  reviews a dozen varying publisher attempts to comply with the mandate that authors submit published NIH funded research to PubMed Central within one year.  (This is a repost from a Jan. 28, 2009 blog entry I originally wrote elsewhere.)

Fair Use Still Very Alive after Harry Potter

Filed under: Professional — tomthelibrarian @ 4:53 pm
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Jonathan Band’s How Fair Use Prevailed in the Harry Potter Case, an ARL/ALA sponsored publication (, argues that the court supported fair use and the creation of reference works pointing to the work of others.  The case, Band points out, failed only on the author’s excessive use of material already written by J. K. Rowling and not on any other fair use point, which the court explicitly supported, as summarized in this 13 October 2008 news release. (This is a repost from a Jan. 28, 2009 blog entry I originally wrote elsewhere.)

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