I knew something was up when I got an email from the President of the Vermont Library Association this morning saying “Wow nice podcast!”
I was pretty sure she wasn’t referring to the MetaFilter Podcast — though those are quite nice — so I emailed her back asking wtf as politely as I could. That’s how I learned that the interview I did with the Chronicle of Higher Education from a hotel room in Halifax (setting the alarm so I could be alert at 9:30, do I sound like I just woke up?) was part of the CHE podcast and was excerpted, along with the succinct commentary from many other “young librarians” (oh gosh, I laugh and laugh) including my pal Casey and other names you’ll recognize. I’m not entirely sure how to link to CHE articles for non-subscribers, but you can maybe see the article and the amusing iphone photo here. Apologies, as always, for swearing.
Casey Bisson has written a Library Technology Reports issue on Open Source Software in Libraries with a chapter by yours truly. I got to install and run Mac and Windows versions of the more popular desktop open source applications and take screenshots and make recommendations. Of course it’s not hard to recommend something like Firefox with all its sexy add-ons and Greasemonkey scripts, but you might not know that VLC is a pretty good media player, or that for advanced users Gimp can do a lot of what Photoshop does for no cost. Now if we can just get our style guides properly updated to not suggest hyphenating it all the time, we’ll be golden.
I’ve been a bit scarce lately. The days are shorter and I’m doing a little less “rah rah library” work and a little more staying warm and insulating the house. I’ve got a few little posts to make, but the main one is this. The thing about Casey’s grant that is so amazing is this.
The revolutionary part of the announcement, however, was that Plymouth State University would use the $50,000 to purchase Library of Congress catalog records and redistribute them free under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license or GNU. OCLC has been the source for catalog records for libraries, and its license restrictions do not permit reuse or distribution. However, catalog records have been shared via Z39.50 for several years without incident.
â€œLibrariesâ€™ online presence is broken. We are more than study halls in the digital age. For too long, libraries have have been coming up with unique solutions for common problems,â€ Bisson said. â€œUsers are looking for an online presence that serves them in the way they expect.â€ He said â€œThe intention is to bring together the free or nearly-free services available to the user.
Bisson said Plymouth State University is committed to supporting it, and will be offering it as a free download from its site, likely in the form of sample records plus WordPress with WP-OPAC included. â€œWith nearly 140,000 registered users of Amazon Web Services, itâ€™s time to use common solutions for our unique problems,â€ Bisson said.
Read it twice if you’re not sure you got it. Think how having that sort of data available to you (or your library, or your open source OPAC) could really, seriously change things.
Big big congrats to Casey Bisson. He has received the prestigious Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration for his WPopac project. Casey is down in DC now getting feted and adulated. Nice work Casey! From the press release:
â€œFor years weâ€™ve been talking about the digital divide in terms of access, and weâ€™ve been working hard to put computers and networks into every school and library,â€ Bisson said. â€œBut those same libraries, and their communities, are invisible to people online. If libraries are to be more than study halls in the Internet age, if they are to continue their role as centers of knowledge in every community, they need to be findable and available online. They need the tools to represent their collections, their services, and the unique history of their communities online. Thatâ€™s what WPopac does.â€