Friday, April 1, 2011

Julia's Library Research is Moving!

Hello readers!
After much internal debate, I've decided to move my blog to a new space. For future updates, make sure to go here:
Why, you ask? Well, a couple reasons. First of all, my other blogs are on that site, so it makes my life much easier to check stats and comments on just one platform. Another bonus was the templates they have: my new Wordpress site is laid out in a way that I think is much easier to read and navigate. I like Blogger (especially some of the goodies they offer in their stats, such as that lovely map that shows your readership,) but I felt like my page was getting a little busy with all the links and such. I'd love to hear what people think of the new site, and if there's enough demand I can always copy and paste posts here too!
I'll be checking this site too, so if you leave comments or have questions, I'll make sure to answer them!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rehashing #unpackLIS

Friday was "Unpacking the 'Library': Exploring Works in Progress Across the Field of LIS." This conference was significant for me not only because I had a blast as an audience member, but because it was the first conference I have helped to plan and run. Our goal with the conference was to use it as an extension of B Sides Journal's dual mission of professional development and education, and it was a resounding success! I'm planning on writing another post on the process of planning a student-run conference, but for this one I wanted to focus on sharing some of the takeaways from all of the awesome presentations!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Modernizing Markham wraps up

Last night I created the last recipe for my Modernizing Markham project. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm excited to move onto the next stage. All I have to do now is make the calligraphed pamphlet-y book and upload the POD/e-book version to various sites. I'm still figuring out how best to approach that (with the caveat that I use free services only), so suggestions are welcome. Since I'm at the turning point with my nearly-finished project, I thought I'd take a second and share a few things I've learned from blogging outside my discipline.
1. What works in one field won't work across the board. Obvious, yes, but definitely some words to live by. I am usually pretty good at attracting readers through social media and getting some interesting discussion going in the comments, but the dynamic was completely different with this project. More people found my blog through oddly specific web searches (despite a social media blitz, I never got much over 50 Twitter followers), and the comments mostly had a different feel about them. I'm not sure if this is true of all food blogs, but most people would just post 1-2 sentence comments with tips or with information on where to order a product. It's very useful, but it was harder to engage readers when responding to those posts. Which leads me to my next point...
2. Engage your readers. I feel like I do an alright job on this blog (although if there's a feature/topic/something you'd like to see, I'd love to know!), but I feel like there was a lot of room for improvement with my other blog. Whether it was from my new-ness to the food/history blogging field, my topic, or something I overlooked, I felt like I could not generate the interest I hoped for. I asked for input from readers (very few people responded to questions in my posts) and tried to offer helpful resources, but I have been pondering on what else I could have done. Possibilities include focusing more on offering resources (those posts did get more interest than others), and expand my reach to spend more time also trying to tie it into book history (I did this some, but it would have been a fun way to draw in more history folk).
3. Keep yourself motivated. After a while, I felt like no one was reading the blog and I had other things going on (moving, graduating, all that good stuff) and so I didn't devote the amount of time to it that I would have liked in the last few posts. I like these posts (and the recipes), but I felt less compelled to add lots of exciting resources and context to the posts. If I do a future short-term blogging project like MM, I might consider setting up a more strictly-enforced posting schedule for myself, keeping an eye out for other projects and resources I can share with readers, and try to network with other bloggers working with culinary history.

You can find more of my thoughts on interdisciplinary blogging here. Also, if you've had experience blogging in multiple contexts I'd love to hear what you learned!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Attempts at E-Book Publishing

Later in the semester, I'll be putting my Center for the Book final project online as both a POD (print on demand) book and a e-book. Since I wasn't sure whether or not one platform would publish to all e-bookstores, I am testing it out with my conference paper from ALA Annual last year, and thought I would share the results with you.
Lulu is the place where I will most likely be creating the POD version of my book, and so it would be easy to turn that into an e-book too. It looks like Lulu only sells in the iBookstore, which means you have to assign it an ISBN and you have to put a price on it. I want to sell my UICB book as I am planning on giving half the proceeds back to the department, but I want to just give my conference paper away. Since I uploaded a PDF rather an an ePub document, I don't have to mess with the iBookstore's minimum price (99 cents).
Setting everything up is easy: I selected 'sell everywhere' which requires you to have an ISBN (Lulu gives you a free one on the next page). I think the ISBN lists Lulu as the retailer, which makes me wonder if it's usable on other e-book sites. For the record, mine is:
In order to sell in the iBookstore, you have to have your document in ePub format (mine isn't). It looks like it's just a matter of converting the document to html, dropping some xml in there, and bundling it all up, but I'm a bit short on time this week to spend too much time messing with that. So, I put it up there as a PDF, which means it won't be in the iBookstore BUT 
The rest of the process was easy: design a cover based on a few templates, add metadata, etc. BIG kudos to Lulu for including multiple licensing options: I heaved a sigh of frustration when seeing a field for copyright, but was relieved immediately to see that you got to choose from standard copyright, GNU, CC, public domain, or a custom license. More kudos are due for the option to let readers share your book (if you don't want to share the book, it adds 25 cents to the price readers pay for your book).
To get the PDF for free on Lulu, go to this link!
I love my Kindle, and I definitely wanted to make my paper available to Kindle users. I already was impressed with the Kindle store after setting up my blogs for publication (I later discovered that it isn't an option on all e-readers when I tried to set them up in the Nook store). For Kindle, you have to provide tax information, which I didn't have to do for Lulu. Amazon loses some kudos for not giving a range of licensing options: either you have copyright or it's in the public domain. Since I'm not sure the logistics behind this stuff (and I'd already tacked rights onto the other one) I selected to retain copyright, but it makes me feel a bit unhappy. They do get some serious kudos though for automatically converting files to the format they want them in. The conversion did not work *at all* with .doc or .pdf file extensions, but it worked reasonably well with a plain text (.txt) file, although there are still a few errors here and there. I was also pretty upset that it wouldn't let me publish for free (and in order to publish for 99 cents I had to opt to take hardly any royalties.) It definitely makes me less thrilled about the idea of publishing with them in the future, which is a shame because their e-reader is so nice. The paper is currently 'under review' but I'll post a link when it's available there. Another option for Kindle users? Go to Lulu and download the PDF for free. I'll try to get the document up on Gutenberg and a few other places too.

Monday, February 28, 2011

E-book readers' bill of rights

 This awesome post has been bouncing around the internet, where I saw it on Andy Woodworth's blog and Sarah Houghton-Jan's blog. For those who aren't aware, discussions about e-books have been taking place after Harper-Collins' announcement that they would be limiting e-book circulation at libraries to 26 uses. This causes tons of problems for access, and while I understand publishers need to make money to continue functioning, my main concern is for library patrons, readers (including students) and for authors.
LIS students--this is a must-read and the topic is one we should all follow. If for no other reason, as a patron who wants to read e-books or even share a book with another student, you want to know that you can use those texts. I have seen a number of people say that e-books are not paper books, and that we need a new set of rules to deal with them. Maybe, but whether or not the suggestions they make are the be all and end all, they are an awesome start because they deal with access and with getting books to readers: the purpose for which they were written in the first place. Since digital books open up the potential for even greater access and sharing because they can be copied almost instantly and without the overhead and resources necessary to create print books. I'm keeping my eyes peeled to see what happens.
I've included the text of the original post below: the authors have graciously made it a public domain work so that you can alter it to add your own insights about user rights you would like to see.

The eBook User’s Bill of Rights

Every eBook user should have the following rights:
  • the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
  • the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
  • the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
  • the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks
I believe in the free market of information and ideas.
I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.
Digital Rights Management (DRM), like a tariff, acts as a mechanism to inhibit this free exchange of ideas, literature, and information. Likewise, the current licensing arrangements mean that readers never possess ultimate control over their own personal reading material. These are not acceptable conditions for eBooks.
I am a reader. As a customer, I am entitled to be treated with respect and not as a potential criminal. As a consumer, I am entitled to make my own decisions about the eBooks that I buy or borrow.
I am concerned about the future of access to literature and information in eBooks.  I ask readers, authors, publishers, retailers, librarians, software developers, and device manufacturers to support these eBook users’ rights.
These rights are yours.  Now it is your turn to take a stand.  To help spread the word, copy this entire post, add your own comments, remix it, and distribute it to others.  Blog it, Tweet it (#ebookrights), Facebook it, email it, and post it on a telephone pole.

To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with this work has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Open Access Resources

I am doing a presentation in one of my classes (Search and Discovery with Cliff Missen) about OA vs proprietary journals. In order to keep all the sources I use in one spot that students can access later on, I've compiled them into this blog post. Another bonus? LIS students (and everyone else) can use this post as a way to learn more about Open Access too!

Here's the article I'm reviewing for the class: 
The Importance of OA, OSS, & Open Standards for Libraries
Basically, the author discusses the benefits of 'open' models (Open Access, Open Source Software, Open Standards) for libraries. I chose it because it covers the basics without being intimidating, and is a good way to nudge those who are scared of giant, wordy research papers toward an understanding of the topic. What I like about it is it's short and to the point (probably as long as most of my blog posts) and gives a great, easy-to-understand overview of how libraries can benefit from implementing OA and OSS into their day-to-day running.

What is OA?
Most of my readers probably know, but for my classmates who may not have spent much time with it I'll give a brief description. Open Access publishing refers to a model that prizes accessibility over profits. Traditional publishing models have a lot of overhead (printing, large staff, advertising, etc) that translates to large subscription costs that are beyond the reach of most individuals and even most libraries. A good anecdote from our instructor: He met some folks from an African library (I can't remember which country) who were excited to win a 2 year subscription to an academic journal database. They were so disappointed after 2 years to discover how expensive it was, because it meant they had to cancel that subscription and were not able to offer those resources to their patrons.
Open Access journals do not charge readers and keep all content online, so it can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection (not everyone has Internet, of course, but it's a useful resource for those who do). Part of the reason this is possible is the lack of overhead associated with printing, and other options to reduce cost and generate revenue vary depending on the journal (B Sides, for example, is a part of the University of Iowa IR so we don't pay for server space or tech support. We also don't pay our editors, so we don't have to generate revenue for salaries. For some other journals, revenue for server space, etc. is generated by charging fees to authors to submit. I personally think this should be avoided at all costs, but there aren't many other options open if you operate outside a large research university). For another discussion of OA, check out Peter Suber's page.

My Experiences with OA
You all know about my editorial experience, but I'm not sure I've talked much about my experience as an author. I have published one article in B Sides, and I have an essay in press at Library Student Journal. LSJ has a *much* larger editorial staff than B Sides, but the process is much the same: submit an article, it's read by reviewers, returned for revisions, and if the revisions are up to snuff it's published. What I love about publishing with OA journals is that I get a *much* wider readership than I imagine I've gotten in my other publications. I get monthly statistics emailed to me about my B Sides article, and it's had almost 200 readers in less than a year. For a journal that's just gotten off the ground and an article that probably 15 people would have read in a print journal, that's pretty impressive. OA journal staff, being a part of a movement to change publishing, also tend to have their fingers in other projects and are open to new ideas. B Sides is throwing a conference on March 25th to teach students about presenting/attendance and to facilitate networking. LSJ tries to provide new resources to students whenever possible (including their recently launched blog). 

Ways for Students to Learn More
Students can get involved in Open Access publishing through already-existing journals (including my perennial favorites, B Sides and Library Student Journal). If your department or school has a student journal, that might be another option. For students who want to publish outside LIS, check out the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) to see what's out there. All journals provide opportunities to publish, although some also have openings for other ways to get involved by peer reviewing or serving on the editorial staff. It's a great way to learn more about OA and it looks good on your resume!

List of Suggested Readings
I'm going to be compiling this over the next few days, so if you have ideas, please feel free to share in the comments! 
100 Extensive University Libraries Anyone can Access
Gives some great resources for those without all the databases of a large research institution (or for those looking for resources not in those databases).
Blog dealing with Open Source and Open Standards.
Thomas Jefferson and OA
Thomas Jefferson did not know anything about OA, but this awesome quote by him has been circulated by enthusiasts.
The first Open Source American
Interesting article on how Ben Franklin's approach to the creative process mirrors the Open Source movement.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Engaged Library

Tonight in class, our discussion was on search (hardly surprising in a class on Search & Discovery), but the last few minutes of the class really got me thinking about the ways libraries engage users by learning about them. We all know that companies use cookies and other tracking technology to learn more about our browsing/shopping/searching habits. Some of them are quite good at it, and some miss the boat entirely by focusing one message only by targeting the location of the IP address but not targeting their message ("Iowa City mom finds $5 trick to whiten teeth" folks, I'm talking to you). I tend to find a lot of advertising annoying at best and intrusive at worst, but obviously it's effective or people wouldn't be taking the time to design ads and pay to drop them all over the web. Our instructor, Cliff Missen (of Widernet Project fame) summed it up perfectly: "Advertisers, Google, etc. know users so well, but we don't see that going on in libraries."