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Searching, Finding and the Info Pro

My talk yesterday on Searching, Finding and the Information Professional was surprisingly crowded, given the other very strong sessions happening concurrently with mine. If I could have cloned myself, I would have been in multiple rooms that afternoon. My basic points were that our clients think about searchability and findability differently than we info pros do, which is good, because it keeps us employed. I also talked about newer developments in web search, such as personalization, optimization, semantic clustering, automatic indexing, metadata, and the "invisible" web. I ended up with some thoughts about nontextual, nontraditional information. And I showed some photos I took at the InfoTubey award ceremonies.

Somewhere in there I mentioned the traditional search strategies of pearl growing, successive fractions, and building blocks. One attendee asked me for the exact citation of the seminal article in ONLINE that introduced those concepts. I didn’t know it off the top of my head, but now I’ve looked it up. Here’s the citation: "Online Bibliographic Search Strategy Development," by Donald Hawkins (yes, that’s one of my fellow bloggers here at the InfoTodayBlog!!) and Robert Wagers, ONLINE, v. 6, n. 3, May 1982. It’s old enough that I don’t think the full text is available electronically. Sorry bout that.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Clicking Ahead of the Pack with Gary

Keeping up with our fast-changing online information world is what Gary Price does possibly better than anyone (possibly because he doesn’t sleep?). He’s the founder and publisher of the popular ResourceShelf. While I’ve heard him speak many times, I always manage to pick up several items of interest. Today he provided some of his latest favorite top sources and search tips. Here’s just a few of the highlights that I noted.

He showed a wonderful site called It’s a “realistic 3D model of the earth online where you can explore, collaborate and interact with people, objects and the world around you.” It provides aerial images and links to traffics cams provided by (an aggregator).
He pointed out that offers free access to K-12 schools and to public libraries. Also, many special collections are available to all.  
One I was very happy to learn about is Market Research from U.S. Commercial Service. “An example of our tax dollars at work,” said Gary.
While he mentioned some cool Web 2.0 tools, like Meebo and Zoho, he thinks that many of the Web 2.0 companies will be gone within the year. He showed a Reuters article that highlights the results of a study showing weaker than expected participation on Web 2.0 sites.
All the links from his presentation are available here:
News Bureau Chief, ITI

Can the OPAC Be Fun?

On Wednesday afternoon, Tim Spalding of LibraryThing said that today’s OPACs focus on three things: usability, searchability, and findability. But what about "funability"? Why can’t it be fun to use the OPAC? Tim mentioned a number of things librarians could do to help change that… But is it just wishful thinking?

Then copresenter Roy Tennant took the podium and started his talk by saying that he refused to use "the O word" (OPAC). So he’d titled his portion of the presentation "Catalogs for the Future" and followed it with a slide that exclaimed, "Future? What future? Catalogs ain’t got no stinking future!" He feels that today’s OPA–oops, I mean, catalogs–belong in libraries’ back rooms, not out front for "live human beings" to use. For the patrons out front, Roy would rather have something that does better faceted browsing and delivers better search results that include all formats of information that the library has. He’s into "exposing the richness of records we’ve created painfully over the last 40 years." Georgia PINES is the best thing yet in that regard, Roy said.

For more discussion on this topic, keep an eye on CIL magazine this fall for the theme issue on the Next Generation of OPACs and ILSs.

~Kathy Dempsey, CIL Editor in Chief

A Whirlwind Tour of Mobile Tools

The audience members were warned to fasten their seat belts—this was going to be a fast-paced tour through the world of mobile tools and applications for libraries. More of our patrons are relying on handheld tools for all kinds of needs, so it’s only natural they would want to use them for their information needs. It is the responsibility of librarians to be able to assist patrons with using their devices for accessing content. Megan Fox of Simmons College knows her mobile gadgets—I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her speak before.  
She looked at the mobile market, the latest devices, the variety of content available, tools for library staff, and much more. She said that 75 percent of all U.S. adults have cell phones—surpassing land lines; 90 percent of college students have cell phones; 95 percent of active U.S. mobile phones support text messaging and 62 percent subscribe to the service. 
She showed the m300 watch, which is also a cell phone. Multimedia is very hot on most of the new devices. On some multifunction cell devices the sound quality is so good that they can replace the need for an MP3 player. Some new devices have motion-activated scrolling of a Web page—cool! 
Here’s just a quick summary of what she covered.
Sites specifically optimized for mobile content are now using the .mobi designation. A public library is Illinois has activated a new .mobi site for its users.
OPAC vendors have been developing new interfaces for mobile access. has released a mobile interface for patrons needing answers on the go.
The medical, health, and legal vendors were among the first content providers to provide mobile versions. This has been followed by news providers.
More and more content is available via SMS/Texting.
Some libraries have bought iPods, loaded them with ebooks, and allow users to borrow them.
LibriVox offers free downloads of audio books.
A company called Guide by Cell provides audio guided tours via cell phone for exhibits, displays, tours, etc.
We’ve had time-shifted TV; well now there’s place-shifted TV—with viewing on your mobile device.
Library staff are also using handheld devices to make their behind-the-scenes work more efficient.
But, look out, new business models may provide advertising on your cell phone in exchange for a discount on your bill. 
Her slides and links will be available at:
Paula J. Hane

News Bureau Chief, ITI