Building on Jim's post last week about "The Intersection of Education, Technology, and Open Content", I finally got around to reading the 2009 Horizon Report released last month. Each year, for the last 6 years, the Horizon Report describes six areas of emerging technology that will have significant impact on higher education within three adoption horizons over the next one to five years. The report is published jointly by the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. The Trends this year are Mobiles, Cloud computing, Geo-everything, personal Web, Semantic-aware applications, and smart objects. I see room for libraries in each of these areas.
- Mobiles. Already considered as another component of the network on many campuses, mobiles continue to evolve rapidly. New interfaces, the ability to run third-party applications, and location-awareness have all come to the mobile device in the past year, making it an ever more versatile tool that can be easily adapted to a host of tasks for learning, productivity, and social networking. For many users, broadband mobile devices like the iPhone have already begun to assume many tasks that were once the exclusive province of portable computers.
- Cloud Computing. The emergence of large-scale “data farms” — large clusters of networked servers — is bringing huge quantities of processing power and storage capacity within easy reach. Inexpensive, simple solutions to offsite storage, multi-user application scaling, hosting, and multi-processor computing are opening the door to wholly different ways of thinking about computers, software, and files.
- Geo-Everything. Geocoded data has many applications, but until very recently, it was time- consuming and difficult for non-specialists to determine the physical coordinates of a place or object, and options for using that data were limited. Now, many common devices can automatically determine and record their own precise location and can save that data along with captured media (like photographs) or can transmit it to web-based applications for a host of uses. The full implications of geo-tagging are still unfolding, but the impact in research has already been profound.
- The Personal Web. Springing from the desire to reorganize online content rather than simply viewing it, the personal web is part of a trend that has been fueled by tools to aggregate the flow of content in customizable ways and expanded by an increasing collection of widgets that manage online content. The term personal web was coined to represent a collection of technologies that are used to configure and manage the ways in which one views and uses the Internet. Using a growing set of free and simple tools and applications, it is easy to create a customized, personal web-based environment — a personal web — that explicitly supports one’s social, professional, learning, and other activities.
- Semantic-Aware Applications. New applications are emerging that are bringing the promise of the semantic web into practice without the need to add additional layers of tags, identifiers, or other top-down methods of defining context. Tools that can simply gather the context in which information is couched, and that use that context to extract embedded meaning are providing rich new ways of finding and aggregating content. At the same time, other tools are allowing context to be easily modified, shaped, and redefined as information flows are combined.
- Smart Objects. Sometimes described as the “Internet of things,” smart objects describe a set of technologies that is imbuing ordinary objects with the ability to recognize their physical location and respond appropriately, or to connect with other objects or information. A smart object “knows” something about itself — where and how it was made, what it is for, where it should be, or who owns it, for example — and something about its environment. While the underlying technologies that make this possible — RFID, QR codes, smartcards, touch and motion sensors, and the like — are not new, we are now seeing new forms of sensors, identifiers, and applications with a much more generalizable set of functionalities.
As we all know, the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) consists of libraries throughout the United States. While geographic separation is key to putting our Government’s information into the hands of the American people, Federal depository librarians have been at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to connecting to their colleagues.
All that is about to change! The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has developed an interactive community site that is available to Federal depository librarians.
Currently available in beta mode, I encourage the community to check out the site and provide feedback during the beta period. Located at http://community.fdlp.gov, the site offers the following features:
- Create an online profile that includes an avatar, contact information, biography, the ability to self-identify expertise, and more. Profiles are not publicly accessible for security purposes.
- Based on user profiles, members can search for other users. For example, you can search for all users from academic libraries in the state of Kansas who are members of ALA or all those that self-identify themselves as experts in Geography & Earth Science.
- Create buddy lists.
- Send private messages to users.
- Blog about issues that are important to you and the community. Blogs can include images, links, videos, and more.
- Comment on user blogs.
- Create photo albums and upload images.
- Add events to the community calendar.
- Add links to Web resources on a variety of topics.
As part of the beta launch, users can peruse the site and provide overall feedback, but will be unable to create accounts and populate/test the interactive features listed above. Users that would like to participate in a more hands-on test can sign-up to become a beta test user. We are limiting the closed beta test to the first 30 members of the Federal depository library community that sign up. Accounts for beta testers will be created and sent on or about September 3rd. Testing will be open for two weeks.
To sign up to be a beta tester, complete this form on the FDLP Desktop. To sign up to be a beta tester and to find out more information, complete this form on the FDLP Desktop: http://www.fdlp.gov/latest/betatesters.html
More features are coming to the FDLP Desktop in the coming weeks. As part of my last blog post here at FGI, here is a taste of what is coming:
- While blogs are great for expressing individual ideas and comments, it is not as conducive to discussion. Listservs, meanwhile, generate a lot of email in our already overwhelmed inboxes. Our next unveiling will be the FDLP Community Forum. Integrated into the FDLP Community site, thus creating a singular login, the forum will provide the community the ability to discuss a variety of issues/topics while also offering the ability to create sub-communities, search threads, bookmark threads/topics, share files, and much more!
- Also in the works is a redesign of the FDLP Desktop. We have learned a great deal since our initial redesign and are preparing to unveil the next generation. You may notice from the list above of the features of the FDLP Community site mirror several of those on the current FDLP Desktop. The upcoming re-release of the FDLP Desktop will be for library coordinators only and will be focused on disseminating FDL Program-specific content only. Most interactive features are moving to the FDLP Community site.
Stay tuned. We have more up our sleeves as well.
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to be FGI's guest blogger. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will share my thoughts here from time to time in the future.
I saw the LITA's President's program at ALA on Sunday, June 29, 2008. The program was called "Isn't it great to be in the library? Wherever that is." The presenters were Joe Janes and the bloggers from OCLC's It's all good blog.
While it was aimed at libraries in general, I think it has special relevance for document depositories of all levels of government.
Joe Janes answered the question, "What does it mean to be in a library?" as follows, "Anywhere, anytime, any way, which people interact with information organized and/or provided that is supported by their own community via their library staff." Notice that this is a definition that takes in physical as well as virtual transactions. Janes suggested that a library in the 21st Century is both somewhere and everywhere. In terms of how to serve our patrons, Janes asserted, "We must be available, positioned, and ready to support our patrons, to assist and participate with them -- on their terms."
This seems like good advice for depositories, whether federal, state, or international. We need to remain physical places to accommodate the 80 million plus Americans who are not online and may not be joining the net anytime soon. But we also need to be available for the hundreds of millions of Americans who ARE online. Our libraries, our resources and our expertise must be easily discoverable on the web for our local and remote users. How can we do this?
- Like James Jacobs has suggested, we can blog our answers to interesting reference questions. Especially if the answers are not findable on the public internet.
- If you are a Federal Depository Library coordinator, stop reading this post right now and e-mail John Shuler about how your library can participate in Government Information Online, the nationwide govdoc chat reference service that now has about two dozen partners, including my library. It's easy to participate and will only get easier as more libraries join. The service is already been used. I've personally helped people locate documents on the 1960s New Left, found HUD info specific to Native Americans and point veterans towards educational benefits.
- Join Rebecca Blakeley and the Washington State Library in establishing LibraryThing accounts.
- Join the Alaska State Library in establishing Open WorldCat lists that come with RSS feeds.
- Join the growing number of libraries offering RSS feeds for new fed docs.
- Survey your users and see where they like to find information online. Then try to be in at least one of those places.
You don't have to do everything. No one can do everything, but please try to do just one thing this coming month to expand your online visibility. If you live in a community where most people aren't online, you're excused.
Have other ideas? Did something work especially well for you? Let us know in a comment.
This will be my last entry as your Blogger of the Month for March. I have learned so much about government information and I have enjoyed learning from all of you as well. Thank you for letting me, a newbie in Government Documents, be a part of all this! But this isn't a goodbye, as I'll post my musings every now and again here at FGI. I'm addicted now, so you are not going to get rid of me so easily. *wink*
Before I sign off, I want to let you know about my department's wiki page that I am working on (more will be added as the years go by, I'm sure) on "Gov Docs 2.0" Resources as well as a link to my presentation that I gave at the Louisiana Library Association. If you would like to contribute information to the Gov Docs 2.0 Resources page, let me know. I can give you a password to access just that part of the wiki. So far, the page contains mostly Web 2.0 resources but I would like to include examples of other Government Depositories using Web 2.0 technologies too. I know the GODORT wiki , the Ning Library 2.0 and Government Library 2.0 group, and here at FGI there are some pages and directories about this topic too (I'll link to them from my wiki).
If Gov Docs 2.0 interests you, be sure to attend the Docs 2.0 pre-conference at ALA Anaheim! I wish I could be there, but I'll be busy being an "Emerging Leader" that day at the EL 2008 Workshop. If I could split myself in half in order to attend both, I would!
Ok, one more shameless self promotion before I go...feel free to stop by and read my depository's blog, Gov Docs on the Bayou. I welcome all comments and discussion!
Until next time,
I finally found some good news to cheer me up after writing the last two posts. ;-)
UC Berkeley Library used wiki software to create a congressional research tutorial called Congresearch. It includes Flash tutorial videos on finding a bill, a hearing, a congressional debate, etc. This one is my favorite. Over time, more tutorials will be added. You can offer them feedback too.
The tutorial homepage also contains links to current congressional news, recent votes and a link to their customized Congressional Search Engine created with Google CSE to create a focused Google search on current official U.S. Congressional websites and news organizations focusing on Congress.
I am in Gov Doc 2.0 Nerd Utopia.
Here is a great example of "Government Documents 2.0" in action: OpenCongress.org offers several Web 2.0 tools such as the OpenCongress Facebook application, where you can put bills that interest you on your Facebook profile. You can show your support or opposition to each bill, or simply remain neutral by selecting the "just following" option. Each bill links back to OpenCongress, so your patrons or friends can get all the information they need in order to understand and become involved with the issues themselves.
One of their Web 2.0 tools that I use for my GovGuides Wiki (a work in progress, mind you!), is the "Bill by Issue Widget". I created one for the Environmental Law GovGuides Wiki page I'm working on. It displays the latest bills introduced in Congress on anything to do with environmental law enforcement.
If you are not familiar with OpenCongress, it's a free, open-source, non-profit, and non-partisan web resource "with a mission to help make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement". OpenCongress is a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation. It uses data provided by GovTrack.us, which collects data from official government websites, such as Thomas. For more info, see previous FGI posts about OpenCongress: My OpenCongress, Congress Remix, and FGI's "Remixes page".
OpenCongress makes it easy to understand each bill by giving a brief summary, who sponsored it, its status, and related bills. And yes, there are links to the full text of the bill and its voting history from Thomas. However, I do encourage students in my instruction classes to cite the original sources that OpenCongress leads them to, such as the full text of the bill from Thomas, congressional record references, or the homepages that OpenCongress links to for various committees and congressmen, etc. And of course I remind them that not everything is online, especially older government information, so they must turn to the print sources that I show them how to locate and use. By that time, the students are much more apt to pay attention and understand the importance of the exotic experience of handling/using the 1945 volume of the Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or a Congressional Record volume from 1918. ;-)
I find OpenCongress to be a very user friendly and a convenient "one stop shop" for learning about legislation. Students in my library instruction classes seem to love using it, so if it gets them excited about government information, then I love it too!
I was searching for Civil War era government documents for a History Professor, and I realized that we did not own one of the documents he sought. Before suggesting that he interlibrary loan a copy of this document, I decided to search online for a full-text digitized version. Alas, it did not exist in the digital realm, but I did find some other digitized gov docs pertaining to his research needs in Google Books. We were both elated, he because I had found what he needed, and I because so many documents I found digitized on Google Books were the same documents we had lost to mold and water damage from Hurricane Rita!
Out of curiosity, I did a Google Book search for other types of government publications and found these gems:
Illustrations of the Gross Morbid Anatomy of the Brain in the Insane (isn't that a Cypress Hill song? Nevermind...) by the Government Hospital for the Insane.
How it Feels to be the Husband of a Suffragette (not published by the Government Printing Office, but it is a book housed in the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection in the Library of Congress).
Most of these documents were scanned at large research universities or depositories, but the quality is not always decent andcan sometimes border on the illegible. I was quite amused when I discovered a staff person's hand digitized on this document's cover:
However, there are bigger snafus than a digitized librarian's hand. For example, despite government documents being in the public domain, Google Books treats most post-1922 (i.e. post-copyright law) government documents as copyrighted material by only allowing a limited view! For more details, please read James Jacobs' post on this issue.
Despite all these issues (which have yet to be resolved), I decided to take advantage of the access to full-text, pre-1922 government documents and create a McNeese Gov Docs "Library"account in Google Books for my depository. The account also allows you to subscribe to updates of its holdings via an RSS feed. I put a link to the library account and the RSS feed on my depository's homepage and our "Gov Guides" wiki. I'll add more of these interesting and old documents as I come across them, especially those pertaining to Louisiana or documents that were lost to Hurricane Rita.
Here are some tips for finding gov docs in Google Books: Use Advanced Search, and in the Publisher field, type in Govt OR GPO OR "Government Printing Office". You can also search by agency, (i.e. "Department of the Interior") by typing the name of the agency in the Author field.
Have fun exploring and building your own digital collections, but please let me know if you find some really cool gov docs, ok?
Now that the 50-State agency database registry has annotated content from most of the fifty states, it is becoming possible to put it to some interesting uses.
For example, one can start to explore common state interests by using the search feature of the ALA GODORT wiki. If you do a search for "film" in the wiki, you'll find that New Mexico and Tennessee have film promotion offices that produce databases. Tennessee will help you find locals in almost any category you can think of for your film production. New Mexico has a similar resource, plus they have a location finder database as well.
What can you discover through browsing or searching the database registry? Let us know in comments.
I'm pleased to report to you that the ALA GODORT State and Local Documents Task Force efforts to create a 50-State Registry of state agency produced databases is nearing the end of its initial setup phase.
With the help of 30 named volunteers, we have created content for 46 states and the District of Columbia. The remaining four states have prospective volunteers who should be filling in content soon or letting me know they cannot take on page volunteer duty at this time.
Please see our nearly completed product at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/State_Agency_Databases.
To get a small taste of what is becoming available through the Registry, check out the unofficial project blog "State Databases of the Day" at http://statedatabase.blogspot.com/.
You don't have to be a named volunteer to help with the project. If you go to a state's page and don't see your favorite state agency produced database, go ahead and add it if you are comfortable with editing wikis. If not send your link to the page volunteer, if available, or to me at dnlcornwall AT alaska DOT net as project coordinator.
Please try to have a look at the Registry this week. Check out and improve your own state's page. Or check out what's available. A lot of stuff from the California page just amazed me. Think about how you might build subject listings (Wildlife, business, etc) using the Creative Commons' licensed material from this project. Together we're building a good resource. Let's keep at it.
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In short, I'm impressed. The thing I'm most impressed by is that the Nebraska Library Commission offers clear reasons about why they are in Second Life and what they hope to accomplish. They state this on a notecard available in the lobby:
Why we are in Second Life:
1. To network and develop professional relationships with other librarians from around the country and around the world.
2. To explore whether and how libraries might use 3-D virtual worlds to reach out to new users.
3. To gain first-hand knowledge of library activities in Second Life that we can bring back and share with interested Nebraska librarians.
Might not be compelling reasons to all, but I'm glad to see that they can explain why they're devoting resources to this in a nice soundbite.
All areas of the library appear to be represented, including Government Documents. While there is no formal display of documents that I could find, there was a notecard about Nebraska related questions that included a link to the Nebraska Documents Depository program. In addition there there several Nebraska related maps around the first floor.
The second floor is devoted to a display of photos from the Nebraska Memories database developed by multiple institutions in Nebraska. Here is a picture I took of part of the display:
Notecards describing the photos are available, as is a link directly to the photo's Nebraska Memories page where people can see more details and search for related items. It has a nice museum feel to it and as I've mentioned in previous posting on Second Life, I think musueum type displays are going to be natural for virtual worlds like Second Life.
One last nice touch by the NLC staff is a card in the lobby titled "What to do in Second Life" which features staff picks about places to go and things to do in the virtual environment. It has a mix of education and entertainment. I plan to visit several of the places listed on the card, including returning to Washtown, a Firefly inspired enviornment complete with a replica of Serenity. I went there today, but Second Life crashed on me before I could look around much. More proof that the 3D world is coming, but isn't quite here yet in the sense that the web is.