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Free for National Library Week

Two CIL exhibitors are offering “freebies” for National Library Week: Gale and ProQuest. Gale’s focus this year is advocacy. After you download a widget, you can search Career Transitions, Global Issues in Context, GREENR, and Grzimek’s Animal Life. ProQuest will provide free access to six databases: PQ African American Heritage, PQ Historical Newspapers, cultureGrams, eLibrary, SIRS Discoverer, and SIRS Issues Researcher.

Other companies are also observing National Library Week, although not by exhibiting at CIL (And Why Not??).  ABC-CLIO offers free access to all its databases in what it’s calling a Virtual Open House. Alexander St. Press will provide free access to American History in Video until April 30, 2010. Sage is extending its free access to its journals until May 15th!

If you’re at CIL, go see Gale and ProQuest in the exhibit hall. If not, visit all of these online and tell them the CIL bloggers pointed you towards these special offers. Oh, and take a look at this week’s Newsweek (on newstands April 12th) for Gale’s full page ad celebrating libraries. Very cool.

Summoned to Breakfast

Serials Solutions invited me (oh, and about a hundred other people) to breakfast this morning to present Summon and listen to Peter Jacso discuss search. John Law started off the morning, reprising much of what I’d heard before about Summon and its “web scale discovery” searching. He reiterated that Serials Solutions’ research shows that libraries have a great reputation for having the best content, but students find the interfaces too hard to use. Thus, they start their research with Google. They want something simpley, easy, and fast. Thus Serials Solutions decided to pre-harvest content and present students with a simple search box. John then went to a live demo.

Peter, a University of Hawaii professor and long-time author for ONLINE,  gave us 10 features that he considers important about Summon, particularly in contrast to Google Scholar. He thinks Summon is intuitive, has no a priori commitment to a single database, provides a guarantied full text option, utilizes common sense and logical Boolean logic, has a gingerly tender use of human-assigned descriptors, uses visualization, allows for hovering, peekaboo, view of abstract, reveals the size of databases, shows additional sources owned by other libraries, and exemplifies the synergy of new ProQuest components. He then talked about “library anxiety”–which yields 513 hits! This is related to “database selection stress disorder”.

Peter then demonstrated some of the absurdities in Google Scholar, particularly with misidentified authors (F Password, a street name construed as a personal name) and confusing numbers (any 4-digit number Google thinks is a date). Boolean doesn’t always work the way it should. It’s not transparent. He’s written an article about this that will be published in Library Journal next week.

Marydee Ojala, Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals

What's True of The Loop Is True of the Industry

To get from here to there at ALA it's best to take the shuttle buses

To get from here to there at ALA it’s best to take the shuttle buses

Ah, Chicago.  Hog butcher, etc., etc.  When I arrived yesterday afternoon I took a quick walk through The Loop, Chicago’s historic downtown district.  I even stepped into the old Marshall Fields department store, which reminded me a lot of the old John Wanamaker department store in my hometown of Philadelphia.  Both from the same era.  Both now owned by Macy’s. We live in a world where things seem destined to consolidate.  And expand in the process.

It’s true in the information industry, too.  Coming out on the plane yesterday–we actually took off early from  Philly and arrived early at O’Hare!–I was catching up on the last couple of days of newspapers, devouring reports about Google’s foray into the operating systems space, with a free open source platform potentially challenging MS-Windows.

At SLA a couple of weeks ago, the ITI blog team was invited to a private breakfast with ProQuest, where we were briefed on developments related to Proquest, Dialog, CSA, and Serials Solutions–now all operating under the ProQuest name.  At ALA, we’ve been invited to another (this time public) breakfast where ProQuest is going to announce its platform integration strategy. It used to be you could pigeon hole the vendors into a single category of service offerings, but more and more they are–how to say this?–becoming more and more.

Later today, I’ll be interviewing Jay Jordan, President OCLC, about recent announcements coming out of Columbus (OH), about OCLC’s ambitions to expand its offerings to what it describes as a “web scale coperative library management” system, which sounds to me as if the world’s largest cataloger wants to be an ILS vendor, too. More on that later today.

Meanwhile, it’s drizzling in Chicago, so if I were you, I’d take the shuttle bus, operated as always by Gale, now owned by Cengage Learning, down to McCormick Place.

Dick Kaser, ITI V.P., Content