Open Source Software Introduction

You may have heard the term open source mentioned many times but are wondering what it really means.  Karen Schneider from Equinox,  the software company that supports the open source ILS Evergreen, presented an excellent introductory Webinar on Open Source software on March 17, 2009. Follow the “Here’s the recording” link. The first 12 minutes are an orientation to the Webinar functions and troubleshooting for the attendees.  Skip forward to get to the content on Open Source.

The Webinar inspired this post and I am highlighting  some important points in the presentation while including my own comments and examples. The five main sections are:

  1. Definition of Open Source
  2. Examples
  3. Reliability and Quality
  4. Cost
  5. Assessment
  6. Question and Answer session


The definition of open source software is set by the Open Source Initiative and is paraphrased below:

Software that allows its users to access and modify the computer code it was created with and includes licensing that allows it to be freely shared and modified without restriction.

A similar concept exists in the GNU Operating system and the Free Software Foundation who originally developed the concept of free software distribution. The major difference with their license and philosophy is that they choose to emphasize the word “free” and do not accept some license restrictions that open source does.


  • For more examples fast forward to (33:30) for a list of open source software in libraries – The audio mentions more Continue reading

Academic Shortcuts and Profitable Plagiarism

Your institution uses software services like so you can rest assured that student cheating will be caught, right?

Not so, says Thomas Bartlett of the Chronicle of Higher Education in an article on March 20, 2009. While many professors are aware of different services that help students write their papers for them, they may not be aware that it is a profitable and global industry they are up against.

These companies called essay mills write custom papers for students who pay per-page, and avoid software like Turnitin because the essays are original works; they just aren’t created by the student. The Chronicle tracked one of these companies, Best Essays, from Virginia to Ukraine to the Philippines, back to the US.
John Gordon of Future Tense interviewed Bartlett about the story on March 27 and it is well-worth the four minutes to listen.

What is a professor to do?  Solutions using technology can help but as Bartlett concludes, having a relationship with the student and their work is still the best deterrent.

Relevant User Guides in a Web 2.0 World

This post is a summary of a presentation given by two Information Literacy Librarians from Wartburg College, Kimberly Babcock Mashek and Kari Weaver,  at the Library Technology Conference on March 19, 2009.  They compare different user guide models and present best practices to make them more interactive and effective. 

The main points of the presentation are to:

  1. Understand what your users want
  2. Understand what resources you have available
  3. Choose the most appropriate resources according to points 1 & 2.
  4. Continue to evaluate and maintain your services.
  5. Share their experience and successes at Wartburg College

Brief History of User Guides

Pathfinders or Static Web Pages


  • Don’t know if people are using them
  • No standardization
  • Users don’t understand library jargon

Why user guides?

  • Enhances Info Lit Instruction
  • Virtual Access
  • Model proper research behavior

What is expected?

  • Be specific
    • by class or assignment
  • Allow customization
    • what are primary databases in their field
  • Need to be current
    • link checking (can pay or have student workers do it)
  • Want sophisticated search but not have to struggle to use it
  • Easy to find library Web page
  • Familiarity/comfort with interface
    • use Wikipedia platform (MediaWiki)
  • Explanation of resources and context
  • Minimal clicks
  • No library jargon
    • research help
  • Anytime, anywhere convenient

Continue reading

Google Apps for Libraries

David Collins, Associate Director for Public Services in Library, and Barron Koralesky, Associate Director for Information Technology Services, Macalester College  

Using a mix of demonstration, hands-on experience and conversation, participants will dig deeper into Google and Google Apps.   You may want to bring your lab coat.  Macalester has been using Google Apps for nearly a year, and will share some experiences as well as ways we have been integrating / leveraging Google into the day-to-day life of our library and institution.  We want to know how others are using Google, and hope to develop a shared “best practices” project as one outcome of this session.

Important that Library and IT collaborate

3 sections – Presentation, Hands-on, Group Reports

Had year long exploration of email.

  • Found and picked Google
  • Soon after had massive power outage condensing transition to a couple of weeks.
  • What happens if you go to Google?
    • seperated security and privacy
    • Google does security well (much larger resources)
    • Privacy
      • Assumption – everything sent by email is not private

Education account does not have Reader, Groups, and ?.

What it has changed in Campus

  • more open environment – perpetual beta
  • new things appear and don’t know about it until after the fact.
    • traditional IT prefers limited controlled support of applications.

Continue reading

Next Generation Library Catalogs

Eric Lease Morgan, Head of Digital Access and Information Architecture Department at the University Libraries of Notre Dame            

This is a link to an outline of his idea for next generation library catalogs on the ND library website originally composed in 2006 and updated in 2007. A more recent and shorter version is available on his website, Infomotions.

He asked about what people want to learn and addressed whether he will be able to do that.

Initial Questions

  • What is the Catalog?
  • What does it Contain?
  • What functionality do you expect from it
  • What problem is it expected to solve?

What is the Catalog?

Concept of Index

  • list of words as a pointer
  • he advocates that catalog is type of index
  • index is finding tool, database is organization of information
    • Google is index, URL’s are the pointers

1995 collecting eletronic journals

  • created an 856 subfield u and people said you can’t do that.
  • expanded from ownership to licensed material, and where to find other items.
  • Catalog more of a finding aid.

Continue reading

Using CONTENTdm in a Consortium

Ann Kenne, Head of Special Collections, University of St. Thomas; Denise Tyburski, Media Services Librarian, and Chris Schommer, Digital and Special Projects, Macalester College    

In this session, staff from CLIC will discuss the decision process to purchase ContentDM for our digital collections and how the consortia agreed to divide costs and collections.  We will also discuss customization of the site and give examples of how workflow is set up at some institutions.
Project Timeline

  • CLIC Consortium started the digital projects search in January 2005
  • September 2005 – Created community of interest in Digitization
  • Fall 2005 – spring 2007 – Study of various software options

Why Contentdm was chosen

  • others already using it – St Kates, MN dl, U of M, Carleton, St Olaf
  • flexible pricing structure
  • good out of box but allows customizatoin
  • training from MINITEX
  • good documentation


  • Not good with Macs – interface
  • Lack of presentation tools


  • June 2007 Level 1 license – 10000 digital objects
  • Oct 2007 Upgraded license to Lvl 2 – 40000 objects  from Mac funds
  • June 2008  Upgrade to unlimited license (with all of CLIC)

Continue reading

Zotero quick intro

Educause published a great quick reference about Zotero in September 2008.  It answers 7 main questions about Zotero:

  1. What is it?

    A research tool for managing online references.

  2. Who’s doing it?

    Software reads bib info from online locations like the Library of Congress, LexisNexis, Amazon, and JSTOR as well as many other Web Sites.

    Used by anyone who does online research including undergrads, graduates, faculty and researchers.

  3. How does it work?

    A download that is embedded in Firefox, Netscape 9.0 or Flock that appears as a button at the bottom right of the browser window.

    Application allows users to easily add, organize, annotate, and export resources, sometimes with one click.

  4. Why is it significant?

    Users have their own repository to store and organize the whole body of their research.

    It also allows for easy use and connections of those stored citations and documents.

  5. What are the downsides?

    Limited to Firefox and doesn’t work with Internet Explorer.

    Located on one computer.

    (Not in this document, but current lawsuit from the makers of EndNote, courtesy of Disruptive Library Technology Jester, threatens the new release of Zotero).

  6. Where is it going?

    Developers are working to make an online version in order to add availability from any computer.

    Format is good for scholars who want to use and cite the variety of media on the Internet.

  7. What are the implications for teaching and learning?

    Facilitates and encourages proper citation.

    Located in environment where online research takes place; the browser.