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Stephen Rhind-Tutt, President, Is Reference Dead? Is Collecting Dead? November 10th, 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Stephen Rhind-Tutt, President, Is Reference Dead? Is Collecting Dead? November 10th, 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Stephen Rhind-Tutt, President, Is Reference Dead? Is Collecting Dead? November 10th, 2007

2 Overview The demise of reference and collections? What lies behind this? Evaluating reference collections Next generation Summary Collection Development Reference Collections RIP

3 The Reference Collection This collection, refined and built over the past 90+ years…represents the totality of human thought and experience Dave Tyckoson, Facts Unfiled: Are Reference Collections Still Relevant?

4 Ulrichs – I just go to the journal web pages to find this information Books-in-Print – mostly use Amazon.com American Library Directory – go to the individual library web page U.S. Government Manual – find the agency on the web Bartletts Familiar Quotations – only after searching the web Million Dollar Directory – corporate web site gives you much more information Encyclopedia of Associations – go to the organization web page Facts Unfiled: Are Reference Collections Still Relevant?

5 Its all going to be available on Google, Amazon, Microsoft… Fully searchable, lots of functionality, well mined Information strives to be free… The author as publisher – what need for publishers? The universal electronic library – what need for small libraries? Collections Were doomed…

6 Reference and Collections Never been more alive… 61 billion searches conducted on the Web Unique visitors in September 2007: Google – 112m Yahoo – 108m MSN/Windows Live – 94m Wikipedia – 47m The wonder of Wikipedia Many more collections being created in digital form Journal Archives Web sites

7 What lies behind this?

8 Paper vs. Electronic Ubiquity Free Automated Built into Workflow Analyze Explore 24 hour updates External content links Auto-generated content User generated content Answer a question Find a fact Answer a question Find a fact Electronic Paper Value

9 What is reference in electronic form?

10 Traditional Paper Model Books CDs, LPs, Audio DVDs, VHS, Films Prints & Photographs Journals (Articles) Microfilm Collections Archives Reference Unidirectional

11 Nature of electronic publications Everything interconnected Everything refers to everything else Photograph Page Image Gallery Website Book Journal Chapter Article

12 Nature of electronic publications Atomic Interconnected Interdependent Connection vs. the object Pliable Constantly evolving Without place Practically unlimited in size Page

13 Blurring of boundaries All electronic products are reference They all answer questions Theyre packed with references Theyre all interlinked The Web is essentially a referential medium Distinctions like reference, journal, dictionary, collection, library, are borrowed from the paper world The boundaries are blurred… Is JSTOR not a reference tool? How useful is an A&I database without full-text?

14 Refer-ence is essential to the electronic world. No one site will contain all information Effective publication is a function of delivering the right content, in the right way to the right people. To do this we will need high quality access to content across different publishers, libraries and websites. Refer-ence is critical to doing this… Google, Yahoo, etc… can help

15 Its about the links…the refer-ences Links document intellectual pathways through data Indexing links adds value substantially Links Prevent duplication of indexing, content and commentary Links are expensive to create and maintain Versioning is critical to scholarship. Some links confer authority Links are intrinsically bidirectional (Ted Nelson)

16 Blurring of Collection Collection = Selection of material for a particular purpose What does it mean when Many items are universally accessible? Many items can only be accessed on a particular site? When there are numerous surrogate versions? When annotations, links and notes can be added? Most websites are collections Need for organization, vetting, quality control, selection…etc

17 Evaluating reference and collections

18 Wiki & Web vs.Traditional Reference

19 Evaluating Reference Search Engine WikipediaJournal Aggregation For Fee Encyc. Subj. Encyc. CurrencyUp-to-dateYYNYN CompletenessAll facts includedPerhaps NNY RelevanceNo irrelevant materialPoor MediumGoodV. Good AuthorityMost facts correctYYYYY Has bad informationYLittleNone Expert Editor/ProvenanceNNYYY Neutrality/BiasUnknown Defined WritingConcisenessNNNYY at the right level?N?YY persuasive analysis and interpretation ?NYYY BibliographyOrganized referencesToo manyPatchyNo directionYY CostPrice per articleNone High UsageV. High HighLess

20 Evaluating Reference Search Engine WikipediaJournal Aggregation For Fee Encyc. Subj. Encyc. CurrencyUp-to-dateYYNYN CompletenessAll facts includedPerhaps NNY RelevanceNo irrelevant materialPoor MediumGoodV. Good AuthorityMost facts correctYYYYY Has bad informationYSomeNone Expert Editor/ProvenanceNNYYY Neutrality/BiasUnknown Defined WritingConcisenessNNNYY at the right level?N?YY persuasive analysis and interpretation ?NYYY BibliographyOrganized referencesToo manyPatchyToo manyYY CostPrice per articleNone High UsageV. High HighLess

21 Evaluating Reference Search Engine WikipediaJournal Aggregation For Fee Encyc. Subj. Encyc. CurrencyUp-to-dateYYNYN CompletenessAll facts includedPerhaps NNY RelevanceNo irrelevant materialPoor MediumGoodV. Good AuthorityMost facts correctYYYYY Has bad informationYLittleNone Expert Editor/ProvenanceNNYYY Neutrality/BiasUnknown Defined WritingConcisenessNNNYY at the right level?N?YY persuasive analysis and interpretation ?NYYY BibliographyOrganized referencesToo manyPatchyToo manyYY CostPrice per articleNone High UsageV. High HighLess

22 Wikipedia as a type of reference

23 Personal essays, dictionary entries, critical reviews, propaganda or advocacy and original research are excluded… No original research – doesnt break new ground Denigrates expertise – no points for being an expert on a topic Avoids bias – aims for a neutral view There is no objective history He is a controversial figure, both praised and condemned by other commentators. Historical scholarship is characterized by possessive individualism – we need to know whose history it is

24 Lincoln Example Not just factual accuracy but also a command of the scholarly literature, persuasive analysis and interpretations, and clear and engaging prose. Roy Rosenzweig, Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past Lincolns death made the President a martyr to many. Today he is perhaps Americas second most famous and beloved President after George Washington. Repeated polls of historians have ranked Lincoln as among the greatest presidents in U.S. history. Wikipedia Entry The republic endured and slavery perished. That is Lincolns legacy. Jim McPherson, Oxford University Press, ANB Entry Wikipedia is more anecdotal, colorful, more popular, more factual – (e.g. 10 pages on Lincolns sexuality)

25 Reference Evaluation Search Engine WikipediaJournal Aggregation For Fee Encyc. Subj. Encyc. CurrencyUp-to-dateYYNYN CompletenessAll facts includedPerhaps NNY RelevanceNo irrelevant materialPoor MediumGoodV. Good AuthorityMost facts correctYYYYY Has bad informationYLittleNone Expert Editor/ProvenenceNNYYY Neutrality/BiasUnknown Defined WritingConcisenessNNNYY at the right level?N?YY persuasive analysis and interpretation ?NYYY OrganizationBibliography, links etc…Too manyPatchyToo manyYY CostPrice per articleNone High UsageV. High HighLess

26 Organizing Duke Ellington How many capsule biographies do we need? Over 6,300 books contain biographical entries about Ellington 460,000 web pages in response to Duke Ellington +biography Wikipedia doesnt point to for fee items Duke Ellington was attracted to girls and they were attracted to piano players

27 Organizing Duke Ellington ShortMedium Long Life Discography Works About Contemporaries How does a monograph fit?

28 Encyclopedia of Homelessness Subject Coverage: Abeyance theory, Child care, Gentrification, HIV and AIDS, Images of homelessness in contemporary documentary film, Low-income housing, Marginality, Panhandling, Safe havens, and Salvation Army. Bibliography of autobiographical and fictional accounts Filmography Directory of street newspapers, 23 documents related to the history of homelessness Extensive cross-referencing Selection, Organization, Authority, Completeness of Purpose

29 Electronic value added A collection or task focus is critical The right information always trumps more information What the right information is depends on the task at hand

30 The right information CAB – (Husbandry) Agricola (Agriculture) OSH-ROM (Occupational Health and Safety) Biosis (Species) Long term factors influencing combustion and burn rates in North American forests. David Jones, Journal of Forest Husbandry, Sept 1999.

31 Utility of information

32 Semantic Indexing… Battle Author Event Source Where ? When ? Who ? Deaths Leaders Etc… Birth ? Death ? Where ? When ? Occupation Etc… Day Event Etc… Source Editor Publisher Place Etc… Document Battle ID Author ID Event ID Source ID Date Age writing

33 Reference/Collection

34 Civil War Research Database

35 Whom did he serve with? Where did they fight? What happened to him? Extract from A fortnight with the Sanitary Atlantic Monthly, Feb 1865

36 The American Civil War Online Letters & Diaries Websites Photographs Music Newspapers

37 Workflow Interactive Tables Graph Digitizer Equation Plotter Diagram Viewer Integrated Periodic Table Unit Converter Slide Show Viewer Browsable Tables of Contents

38 Train Develop Evaluate Commission Select Compare Integrate License Fund Promote Publisher and Librarian Tasks

39 Where were headed After Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom, Gene Bellinger, Durval Castro, Anthony Mills. http://www.systems-thinking.org/ Who, What, When, Where? Therefore Why?

40 Workflow and the automation of reference SDI and RSS Alerts Link resolvers XML Gateways eScience Nanohub Data mining tools Expert Systems

41 Summary

42 Everything electronic is reference Most electronic destinations are collections of sorts High volume, first step reference works such as Google and Wikipedia can be turned to our advantage We cant beat them on Price, size, usage, general comprehensiveness Hard to beat them on Currency, factual accuracy Easy to beat them on selection, authority, specificity of purpose Requires humans to create, judge, evaluate, train, promote, cite…

43 Friends and allies…

44 Is print reference dead? Fred Jones Somewhat Complete Guide to Common Topics Everyone needs to know (1998 Hardcover) RIP

45 Not really…

46 Sources Facts Unfiled: Are Reference Collections Still Relevant? by Dave Tyckoson (originally published as Facts Go Online: Are Print Reference Collections Still Relevant? in Against the Grain 16(4), September 2004. Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past by Roy Rosenzweig, in Journal of American History, June 2006. Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom, Gene Bellinger, Durval Castro, Anthony Mills. http://www.systems-thinking.org/


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