Access 2002, Windsor, Ontario

This text documents my experiences at Access 2002 in Windsor, Ontario, October 21-23, 2002. The annual Access conference is Canadian in bent and brings together the more computer technologically minded people from all types of libraries -- academic, public, government, etc. What follows are my notes from many of the presentations.

Detroit
Detroit
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bridge
Eric and Steve
Eric and Steve
marigolds
marigolds

Monday, October 21

Ross Paul, President, University of Windsor - Welcome

Paul introduced the conference with the statement, "Technology is the answer but what is the question?" His concept of library service is to identify the real questions and apply the appropriate technology to answer the question. We are not here to do technology for technology's sake, but to use technology as tool, a means to an end.

Brian Beaton, K-Net Services - "K-Net: A Practical expression of indigenous community development"

In this introductory presentation Beaton described K-Net: http://www.knet.ca/

The original idea behind the K-Net was to facilitate a method for preserving language and culture of some of the Native American nations of north central Canada. Examples of these efforts were the accessibility of digitized story telling. Since then the project has grown to become a means for interconnecting people. Beaton helps build the infrastructure to make this happen. In was interesting to note how they used 300 baud modems connected to public telephones to facilitate some of this interconnectivity. Now they often use video conferencing to connect people with people. Remember, the communities Beaton serves are all "fly-in" in communities. (I think this means roads are not very good and airplanes are many times a more reasonable mode of transportation.) Another of their successful projects has been an Internet high school: http://smart.knet.ca/

This subsite is used for educational purposes and provide the means for young people to stay in the community and get an education instead of leaving.

apple (movie)
apple (movie)
horseback (movie)
horseback (movie)
Leddy (movie)
Leddy (movie)
space ship (movie)
space ship (movie)

Mike Ridley, ODL Catalyst Team - "Sharing it all: A Report from the Ontario Digital Library"

Ridley described a vision and plan for an Ontario Digital Library (ODL). He described it in terms of partnerships between libraries and their communities. These partnerships will provide services and resources. He posits that libraries are not so very much different from one another; libraries are essentially similar, and the ODL will be a way to share expertise and resources with a single voice. Resources include things like reference services, magazines and journals, curriculum materials, books, maps, music, manuscripts, etc. He outlined a five- to ten-year plan illustrating where the money will come from to pay for the ODL. He stressed that as time goes on the need for government funding should become less and less. Next steps included: 1) focusing on people, 2) library collaboration, 3) keeping the government's attention, and 4) increasing the number of real investors. In short, Ridley wants to create the ODL in order to consolidate and streamline library services and resources for the Ontario provence while building a stronger community at the same time.

Steve Salmons, Windsor Public Library - "The Library as an agent of change and empowerment"

Salmons gave the typical "wake-up call" talk. He started out by wishing everybody a Happy Public Library Week. He went on to quote Drucker a number of times, and likened our time to the early 20th Century when Henry Ford was facing stricter competition from other motor companies. While Ford dominated the auto industry, other companies were discovering ways to improve on the assembly line process. Like Ford, libraries must not wallow in old ways but keep up with the times. He illustrated his idea by pointing out that the typical high school student has more access to information now, via the Internet, than people in the audience had when they were in high school. Similarly, he argued that libraries are an essential element for an informed public and thus democracy, is a not as valid as it used to be because access to information is widely available through the Internet. He stressed that libraries are about communities, and this is where their roles are still important. According to Salmons, Canadians use the Internet to access government information more than any other country, but people had trouble finding the information they desired. It needs to be organized in a more useful fashion. Librarians can provide this organization.

Kathy Scardellato, Toronto Public Library - "Building virtual services: The TPL experience"

Scardellato described many of the services and resources provided by the Toronto Public Library (TPL). Her goal is to provide collections, programs & services, teach access skills, tutorials, and to give users what they want when they want it. People from schools represent their largest user population. To improved the use of their services, the TPL folks have been visiting the school providing bibliographic instruction classes. Some of the schools use the TPL extensively. Others do not, and there seems to be no pattern. Kids use the services to do their homework. The most popular resources are literature, news, and magazine content. Their busiest time are between 2 and 5 o'clock in the afternoon. The TPL spends a lot of their time digitizing content pertaining to the Toronto area. They also maintain collections of URLs, but this is seen as extremely time consuming. Similarly, they spend a lot of time tracking down copyright owners for things like photographs. She says the TPL desperately needs some sort of collection management software to help them manage digital items in their collections. She too is looking for the "Holy Grail" of single search interface, but wonders how well it will really work since information literacy skills will be required in order to evaluate the results. In summary, she believes the technology to provide library services is constantly changing, and this makes things difficult to keep up with, but the services and goals of a library remain the same.

elephants
elephants
flying sea gulls
flying sea gulls
sphere within a sphere
sphere within a sphere
an apple a day
an apple a day

Eric Lease Morgan, University of Notre Dame - "The Role of XML"

Morgan described and demonstrated various techniques for using XML in libraries. These techniques included: 1) the creation of one's own XML semantic, 2) rendering XML with cascading stylesheets, 3) rendering XML with extensible stylesheet language transformations, and 4) sharing meta data with OAI. The point of the presentation was to describe XML as a method for communicating information as unambiguously as possible between computers in order to turn information into knowledge. For more information see: http://dewey.library.nd.edu/xml/fun.html

Shelagh Patterson, CNIB and Jennifer Howath, Mohawk College - "Web accessibility & adaptive technology"

Patterson and Howath described what Web accessibility is, how it can be implemented, and why it is important. Under Canadian copyright laws, people with disabilities have additional rights, specifically the rights to access copyrighted materials not normally available to people without disabilities. It should be understood that just because a library provides access to various disability hardware and software (JAWS, a kurstwile Reader, etc.) does not mean accessibility is being met. The W3C accessibility guidelines were mentioned and outlined. They are seen as excellent benchmarks for accessibility. Another service, Bobby, is a tool to evaluate a site's accessibility: http://bobby.watchfire.com/

They advocated accessibility be a part of an overall plan for websites, not an afterthought. It is a good idea to get in touch with the local accessibility experts and garner their opinions. Training for the use of the accessibility hardware and software is an additional expense, and they have found peer training to be highly successful. While accessibility is expensive, it can be seen as extraordinary important to the community.

Patricia Moore, University of Windsor - "Next generation Web meets the front lines"

Moore described and elaborated on issues surrounding the Semantic Web. She posited that the Web is mostly hierarchial and/or institutionally organized. She also demonstrated the ambiguity of language using the word "jersey" as an example. Does this refer to the place? The cow? An article of clothing? How are these terms related? The Semantic Web is an idea for a global, machine-readable infrastructure that will help create relationships between these terms for the purpose of expanding knowledge. Many tools already exist for these purposes. Examples include thesauri and relational databases. She advocated a number of links/relationships that can be created between terms: physical, spacial, unique, dependence, transparency, persistence, etc. These links/relationship can represent a different type of "aboutness" describing the meaning of words and phrases. Finally, things like OAI, Open Citation Project, DOI, OpenURL are all next steps in Semantic Web activity.

Thomas Dowling, OhioLINK - "Web standards: Why they matter and how well are libraries following them"

Dowling, who characterizes himself as a building inspector for web pages, described his observations of Web standards implementation in libraries. In short, he found an increasingly divergent use of standards in libraries; libraries are becoming less and less standards conformant in their application of HTML pages. He strongly advocated the use of cascading stylesheets for formatting display and letting HTML be used for content. He advocates this for three reasons. First, your HTML pages will be forwards and as well as backwards compatible with Web browsers. Correctly formatted HTML will be more accessible. Third, computer programs will be better able to read your documents, index them, and make them findable in search engines.

University (movie)
University (movie)
Windsor (movie)
Windsor (movie)
Lake St. Claire
Lake St. Claire

Birds-of-a-feather (BOF) on blogs and portals

This BOF provided an opportunity to share ideas about "blogs" and portals. The definition of blogs was articulated. For the most part, blogs are much like newspaper columns -- things published sequentially usually surrounding a particular theme and including opinion of the writer. Portals were defined as customizable interfaces to collections of Internet resources. The idea of incorporating blogs into portals was bandied about as a way to provide What's New sorts of services.

Tuesday, October 22

Hal Berghel, University of Nevada - "Analog executives in a digital world"

Berghel, in this plenary presentation, shared with the audience many ideas he had about IT management and digital libraries. He began by saying that IT professionals can not afford to make too many mistakes and they must think ahead. It is important to embrace paradigms and not trends. IT professionals, especially the managers, must surround themselves with people of complimentary skills. Things must be innovated quickly because computing life cycles are so short. The IT executive must have technological expertise. We must learn to use the technology effectively. Wireless was his example. He says wireless a useful technology, but only in certain settings. For example, why is there the need for wireless computing in the classroom? Wireless really meas untethered, and there is no reason to be untethered in the classroom. Similarly, distance eduction, as it is currently being implemented, is not participatory nor engaging, and consequently it is a poor use of computer technology.

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pansy
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monument
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national flag
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skyline

Mark Leggott, University of Winnipeg - "The View from the West"

Leggott too described some of the characteristics of digital executives. He too advocated for sets of people with complimentary skills. He also advocated "drawing a line" limiting what people will be exploring and investigating so people don't become overwhelmed. He advocates the use of open source software when applicable and recognized the challenge of integrating it into a world of proprietary software. One example was his OpenILL, a system for doing interlibrary loan in Canada: http://cybrary.uwinnipeg.ca/projects/openill/

He has also recently established a domain name intended as a place for open source software discussion in Canada -- "a network of Canadian open source developers and proponents who are committed to the development of an environment that facilitates the cost-effective delivery of library services and resources to Canadians": http://www.osls.ca/

Terry Huttenlock, Wheaton College - "DocBook for documenting it all"

Huttenlock outlined the reasons and methods she and her department are using to document their work. Specifically, she described the need for formal documentation, and the use of DocBook as the method of creating it. She and her co-workers use NoteTab to facilitate input routines. Once the DocBook (XML) file has been created they use openjade to process the files and create HTML as well as PDF formats.

Thom Hickey, OCLC - "Deconstructing cataloguing: A Web services approach to bibliographic control"

Hickey sees the applications we use in traditional librarianship as monolithic and difficult to use. Libraries contain a wealth of valuable information buried in these monolithic systems. These systems are made up of components including but not limited to: cataloging, classification, naming, searching, holdings, and rights management. (Think of the list of gerunds articulated during one of the OCKHAM meetings.) Instead of continuing to use these monolithic systems, he advocates exposing their data through the use of Web services such as SOAP, OAI, OpenURL, or newer versions of Z39.50. He went onto illustrate how many of these sorts of things are being implemented in ePrint service in the United Kingdom.

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skyline
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grief
Windsor in plants
Windsor in plants
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triangles

Kevin S. Clarke, Stanford University - "XML and MARC: A Choice or replacement?"

Clarke compared and contrasted the strengths and weaknesses of using XML as a bibliographic data structure as opposed to MARC. He used the phrase "crossing the digital divide" to characterize this comparison. Divisions included: traditional information resources and digital ones, meta data and cataloging professionals, library catalogs and the World Wide Web, MARC and XML, machine-centric data and human-centric data. While he calls himself a cataloger, he is employed as a programmer. He garnered the respect of the audience by proclaiming cataloging to be the basis of all librarianship. He then posited that many people in the audience had never seen a MARC record in its true form. Many in the audience scoffed. He then displayed a MARC record in communications format. Many of the audience were surprized. They did not know what to make of the strange string of characters displayed on the screen. "Where is the 245 field, and why is the first half of the screen filled with numbers?" Clarke went on to point out that MARC is a data structure and AACR2 is a set of guidelines/standards for putting data into that structure. When librarians discuss what goes into MARC records they are really discussing the implementation of AACR2. MARC is a dated data structure that does not easily fit into today's computing environment. The use of XML provides much greater flexibility. It is possible if not only very easily implementable to map MARC fields and subfields to XML elements and attributes. AACR2 could still be in used. At the same time, there are a number of idiocycracies for AACR2. Examples include the inconsistent way dates are manifested. Sometimes they are manifested as simply two characters for a year (02). (Remember the Y2K problem?) Other times dates are spelled out, and other times dates take a YYYYMMDD form. I thought us librarians advocated consistency? Finally, Clarke alluded to the possibility of creating bibliographic information in a less descriptive manner and instead based more on relationships. Some of the names of these relationships included: time, place, being, object, work, element, string, organization, event, and language.

Bill Moen, University of North Texas - "Z39.50 for finding it all"

Moen outlined some of the latest Z39.50 developments. He saw the single search interface to be the Holy Grail of searching but wondered how such a resource discovery tool would present the variety of resources available. He went on to describe things like ZNG (Z39.50 Next Generation), Zoom, ez39.40 and SRW as newer implementations of the original Z39.50 standard. The most significant differences between these newer implementations and older ones are the stateless characteristic of protocols and the use of HTTP as a transport mechanism. Such implementations are very similar to the ways SOAP and OAI are implemented.

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spaceship
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self-portrait
unsuspected sculpture
unsuspected sculpture
electrical box
electrical box

Martin Halbert, Emory University - "Meta data aggregation services built on OAI: The MetaScholar Initiative"

Halbert gave a brief overview of OAI and how it was being implemented in the MetaScholar project through the MetaArchive and AmericanSouth domains:

He then compared the creation and maintenance of these projects to gardening. First, you need to know what to plant by learning the needs of your audience. Second, you plant your seeds by fostering adoption and creating alliances. Third, you work the garden by creating policies, tools, agreements, and protocols. Forth, you harvest the fruits of your labors with formats, scheduling, and filtering processes. Fifth, you welcome people to your garden allowing them to create communities and provide the means for them to use the data in the manner they desire. Do not impose unnecessary control. Last, enhance your garden by taking another look at it and improving it accordingly.

BOF on open source software

Morgan helped facilitate a discussion surrounding open source software. Agenda items included: openILL/openRequest, Godot/SFX alternatives, creating a list of open software developers, glueing various open source software parts together, and the possibility of hosting an open source software pre conference at the next Access meeting (Vancouver in October) or in conjunction with the next ALA Annual Meeting (Toronto in June/July).

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twisting column
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nymph
sea gull
sea gull
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classic column

Wednesday, October 23

Mark Jordon, Simon Fraser University and Dan Chudnov, OSS4Lib - "OSS: A Real option in real time"

Jordon began by giving an overview of the open source software environment in libraries. Chudnov then presented the results of the conference's hackfest which included a content management system for sharing information about AIDS in southern Africa, Citation Digest by Todd Holbrook as a framework for parsing new data from various alert services and allowing to be incorporated into his Citation Manager, and finally Peter Binkley port of an application to create EZProxy configuration files through the use of PHP scripts and a MySQL database. Chudnov provided guidelines for open source software development including the articulation of clear objectives, specifying requirements, and defining boundaries. He strongly advocated "do one thing and do it well" a la the Unix Philosophy.

Clifford Lynch, CNI - "Cliff's Notes"

Lynch outlined things he sees as emerging issues. For example CNI had just finished facilitating a workshop on digital repositories. He was surprized at the interest the workshop generated. We must remember that digital repositories are much more than collecting things born digital. They must also include policies and procedures for collecting and migrating data forward. DSpace is a good example: http://www.dspace.org/

The scholarly communications process is changing because of our globally networked computing environment. The way scholars are writing books is changing. The ways scholars share and retrieve their writing is different from the methods of ten years ago (i.e. digital repositories). Libraries should be cogniscient of these changes and be able to change with the times.

sound sculpture
sound sculpture
sharp column
sharp column
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totum pole
screaming man
screaming man

Summary

This was the third time I've attended an Access conference, but the first time I was in Windsor. (My first Access conference was in Fredricton .) More hands-on and practical, less theoretical and scientific than the last conference I attended , the Access conferences have always been focused and sans concurrent sessions. This allows everybody to see and hear everything. Consequently, by the third day themes emerge allowing for lively discussion. The themes I heard the most surrounded XML (Morgan, Moore, Clarke, and Huttenlock), open source (Leggott, BOF #2, and Jordon/Chudnov), and catalogs & cataloging (Hickey, Clarke, and Moen). I think everybody should attend at least once Access conference if it is possible. They provide an overview of what is happening in libraries when it comes to computer technology.

P.S. Thanks goes to Johanna Foster who collected some Lake St. Claire water for me. "Lake St. Claire, the littlest of the Great Lakes."


Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <eric_morgan@infomotions.com>
Source: This text was never formally published.
Date created: 2002-11-11
Date updated: 2004-11-27
Subject(s): Winsor, Ontario; Access; travel log;
URL: http://infomotions.com/musings/access-2002/