Panlibus Blog

Archive for October, 2005

Blogging library people in the UK and Ireland ?

Phil Bradley posted a query to his blog at the end of last week, searching for information on library and information professionals in the UK who are actively blogging. I, of course, promptly checked that he knew about Talis’ collection, many of which are listed here.

I’m sure he would be happy to hear from those of you in the Republic of Ireland who are blogging, too, but Ireland’s most famous blogger is presumably disqualified by his current place of residence.

Given recent figures on the percentage of the UK population engaged in participative online activities such as blogging, I expect Phil to be inundated with thousands of responses.

If you think you might fit the bill, please let Phil know

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Talking with Talis – inviting your questions on OCLC’s Environmental Scan and more

Oclc Logo

I am recording a new Talking with Talis programme with George Needham, OCLC‘s Vice President for Member Services, on Wednesday 23 November.

George will be talking about OCLC’s extremely successful Environmental Scan and a new report called Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources: A Report to the OCLC Membership, due to be released online shortly before we speak.

If you have any questions that you would like put to George, please send them to podcasts [at] talis [dot] com by Friday 18 November.

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Talking with Talis – inviting your questions on the AttentionTrust


I am recording a new Talking with Talis programme with Ed Batista, Executive Director of AttentionTrust, on Monday 7 November.

AttentionTrust first came to my notice in a Gillmor Gang show over the summer, and I discussed their session at the recent Web 2.0 Conference a few times on my own blog.

If you have any questions that you would like put to Ed, please send them to podcasts [at] talis [dot] com by next Thursday, 3 November.

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Listen to our first Talking with Talis conversation now

Talking with Talis branding
After all the planning and preparation, Talis is delighted to announce the availability of the first conversation in our Talking with Talis series.

In the series, we aim to conduct conversations with thought leaders from across our industry, and beyond. They grapple with issues that affect all of us, now and in the future, and point to solutions towards which we can work in partnership.

Our first conversation is with Dick Hardt, who talks about issues around personal identity in the online environment.

Talking with Talis is not a sales pitch. It’s a mechanism by which we can share the thoughts of conference keynote-calibre speakers with a far wider audience than those who might attend any given conference. We are raising awareness of issues, and advancing the debate. Feel free to get involved.

I hope that you find our first conversation valuable, and that you will subscribe to the web feed or come back to the site each fortnight to hear those that follow.

These conversations are of a type (currently) popularly known as ‘podcasts’. Although you can listen on your iPod, you don’t have to. You can listen online with your computer, download to your iPod or equivalent digital music player, or download and copy onto anything that can play one of these mp3 files; your car’s CD player, perhaps, or even your mobile phone!

If you have any comments, or if you wish to suggest (or volunteer!) future speakers, contact podcasts [at] talis [dot] com.

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Final programme for Talis’ Insight conference now available

Talis Insight logo

Talis‘ annual Insight conference is this year being held 15-16 November at the Hilton Metropole, close to the UK’s Birmingham International Airport and good rail connections to the rest of the country.

The final programme is now available online, and will include speakers from the British Library, BT, Microsoft, MLA, and more, as well as Talis staff presenting new products and the inclusive, participative, and ‘Web 2.0’ platform that we are building to move forward.

The UK’s Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, will be speaking at dinner on the 15th.

Register to attend and find out more.

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Disrupting the status quo with Web 2.0

In his blog, Richard MacManus asks where are the disruptive starts-ups in Web 2.0? Well, Talis are not a start-up (we are a thirty year old company) but what we are doing qualifies I think.

Perhaps uniquely among Web 2.0 companies, Talis are UK based (the only UK software company to attend the Web 2.0 conference, we think) – and we are not currently seeking funding. We have extensive knowledge and skills in the library domain which exhibits many of the characteristics that are now encapsulated by the term ‘Web 2.0’ – for example the concepts of community and sharing whereby librarians have traditionally exchanged cataloguing records through applications such as Talis Base.

The emerging Talis Platform (currently known as Project Skywalk) is a Web 2.0 platform focussed on this library domain that is disrupting many of the traditional ways of doing things. Libraries will be able to expose information on the books and other materials that they hold to the Web in a highly cost-effective (i.e. free) way. Book sourcing sites such as Amazon will be able to add ubiquitous ‘borrow this book from your local library’ functionality to their offering, thus enhancing their ability to satisfy a visitor’s quest for out-of-print and rare books. The aggregation of holdings and lending data will deliver value to publishers and libraries alike. One of the core components of the platform will be a very open directory of libraries, using a wiki philosophy to allow the people that are closest to the data to maintain it. This directory will contain not just interesting human-readable information such as location and opening hours, but perhaps more importantly the machine readable data such as URIs for library catalogues and locational data to allow mixing with mapping applications. A preliminary demonstration of this particular aspect of the directory was discussed on our Silkworm blog by Richard Wallis over the summer.

As conceived, the platform is intended to improve the flow of information within and between libraries, and to push library information and services out to the sites, services and applications with which the user is already interacting.

We will be revealing more about this platform at the Insight 2005 conference next month.

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Talis Podcasts – a conversation with Clifford Lynch

I’ve mentioned our plans for a series of podcasts on panlibus before.

These plans are now well advanced, with two of our Talking with Talis conversations recorded and almost ready for release, and several more having various i’s and t’s dotted and crossed.

As I discussed, we intend to advertise speaker and topic in advance, whenever possible, and to invite questions from all of you.

The first programme in which we are inviting your input is one that I shall be recording on Monday 24 October. I’ll be talking with Cliff Lynch, Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information in Washington, DC.

Quoting from Cliff’s bio,

“Clifford Lynch has been the Director of the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) since July 1997. CNI, jointly sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries and EDUCAUSE, includes about 200 member organizations concerned with the use of information technology and networked information to enhance scholarship and intellectual productivity.

Prior to joining CNI, Lynch spent 18 years at the University of California Office of the President, the last ten as Director of Library Automation. Lynch, who holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, is an adjunct professor at Berkeley’s School of Information Management and Systems. He is a past president of the American Society for Information Science and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Information Standards Organization.

Lynch currently serves on the National Digital Preservation Strategy Advisory Board of the Library of Congress; he was a member of the National Research Council committees that published The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Infrastructure and Broadband: Bringing Home the Bits, and now serves on the NRC’s committee on digital archiving and the National Archives and Records Administration.”

We shall be conducting a wide-ranging discussion through the digital library space, so if there’s anything you would like me to ask Cliff, please send an e-mail to podcasts [at] talis [dot] com, no later than next Thursday, 20 October.

I will try to include your question, but cannot always guarantee to do so if it disrupts the broader flow of the conversation.

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Ask Charlotte what is on TV tonight….


Charlotte your talking TV guide is an fascinating demonstration of utilising talking avatars, or ‘ChatBots’, from the UK company Advanced ChatBot Solutions to front information feeds provided by BBC Backstage.
Ask her whats on tonight and she will tell you, literally – if you have your sound output enabled.
A classic example of a Web Service being used to deliver an application that the service developers probably didn’t envisage, and certainly didn’t have the time to produce themselves. Very Web 2.0.
So if we can get a cousin of Charlotte’s to be able to answer natural language questions about books and journals available via a library web service…….

Reading Lists – RSS & OPML

Having been in at the conception and birth of the Talis Academic Reading list product Talis List a few years back I’m always interested in developments in that area.
Over the last few months I have been mulling over where technologies like RSS could have application in the Reading List environment.  Things like providing feeds so that students could subscribe to the reading lists for their courses, being fed with updates and additions.  This could make the whole thing far more dynamic and alive, enabling the owner of the list to add ‘current’ things like blog entries/news reports/journal articles to the students’ suggested reading.
RSS published reading lists could also be a powerful tool for librarians trying to keep up with the recommended reading promoted by the lecturers they are trying to keep up with.
All this sounds simple until you start to multiply those thoughts by the number of reading lists (often several per subject/course/term/required or suggested reading) that a student are required to monitor and it all becomes a bit complex.
This is where OPML rides to the rescue.  OPML currently is mainly used for importing/exporting details of subscribed to RSS Feeds so that they can be transferred between feed monitoring solutions.  Dave Winer in his recent posting Next steps in RSS, Reading Lists raises the possibility of an RSS aggregator subscribing to an OPML feed instead of directly to the RSS feeds it describes.
When the author of the OPML document adds a feed, the aggregator automatically checks that feed in its next scan, and (key point) when a feed is removed, the aggregator no longer checks that feed. THe editor of the OPML file can update all the subscribers by updating the OPML file. Think of it as sort of a mutual fund for subscriptions.
So with RSS feeds becomming more mainsteam maybe there is a place for them to become central to the decemination of information to students, in a way that will take us a long way from those badly photocopied book lists that used to circulate.  Food for thought….

Report audits digital media capability in Scottish Cultural Organisations

The Scottish Executive has released a report prepared for them by Simulacra, authored by Alan Flett and Alice Grant.

The report, An audit of digital media services in Scotland’s Tourist, Sporting and Cultural Organisations,

“provide[s] a baseline from which the Scottish Executive could assess the extent of the use of digital media services (DMS) in the sporting, tourist and cultural sectors in Scotland. This would allow for the development of a suitable digital media services strategy in these sectors. Taking account of where Scotland is at present the audit will facilitate a well informed strategy that will take Scotland forward in as an efficient and effective a way as possible.”

Sixty organisations were contacted during the research, with 58 individuals from 42 organisations eventually completing an online questionnaire or participating in a telephone-based interview.

The report concludes that the Scottish digital media space is healthy, and demonstrating significant institutional innovation. A concern was expressed, however, that current developments were not sufficiently integrated, leading to the reinvention of wheels, and the delivery of unnecessarily disjointed services. This is hardly a problem that is unique to Scotland.

The report makes 11 broad recommendations, listed on pages 10 and 11, and explored in greater detail throughout the text.

  • “Investigate ways in which smaller organisations in the sector can have access to ‘start- up’ or ‘pump-prime’ skills which will allow them to connect with external services in an informed and appropriate manner.
  • Investigate the potential for market research and user evaluation to be disseminated across the sector in order to ensure that work is not repeated.
  • Review the skills gap required to support digital culture / art.
  • Review a common information environment for Scotland, how it affects the Scottish Citizen and what the benefits to them would be.
  • Develop a clear map of the information services being offered in the cultural sector, ensuring that this presents a cohesive view to users.
  • Review how digital media services can be made more seamless and better integrated into the local infrastructure.
  • Investigate ways in which smaller and distributed organisations can gain access to digital media services to enable them to share knowledge, information and content more effectively.
  • Review how standards-compliant are current learning resources provided by TCS organisations.
  • Review Scran’s business model in a way which reflects the current organisational needs across the cultural and educational sectors.
  • Identify and facilitate the sharing of best practice in the development and use of digital media service across the cultural sector.
  • Review what technical standards for use in the common information environment are required in Scotland’s TCS sectors.” (my emphasis)

Evidence gathered in the surveys will help to shape the Scottish Executive’s response to the recent findings of the Cultural Commission.

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