I just got back from Nashville and the 9th annual LITA Forum–the second of four trips in just under 3 weeks. Next I’m off to NISO’s Discovery to Delivery, and then I wind up my fall travel in Charleston. You’re probably wondering how I get any work done…the secret is I don’t.
Anyway, the LITA Forum is always a great chance to catch up with colleagues, see some good presentations and thoughtful keynotes, and just hang out. I was pleased to see more public librarians in attendance this year. There were just shy of 400 in in Nashville. For some very good coverage of the sessions, check out the LITA Blog site.
I could go on and on about several of the presentations, but one I wanted to mention in particular was given by Adam Chandler and David Ruddy (Cornell University) and Ted Koppell (Ex Libris) on the SUSHI protocol.SUSHI is an automated way to transfer COUNTER compliant electronic resource usage statistics. Links to the respective sites provide more details.
The idea makes a lot of sense, and keeps libraries and middleware ERM providers from having to devise ways to collect, collate, and munge piles of spreadsheets into something useful. The problem, of course, is traction–convincing content providers to adopt the standard. I was immediately reminded of all the efforts that went into the NISO Metasearch Initiative. Like NISO-MI, SUSHI adoption and COUNTER compliance are standards and protocols that librarians and vendors together should pressure publishers to adopt. If libraries did not have to expend so much effort to collect statistics, they might actually have some time to discern what they mean.
When it comes to metasearch, I am continually frustrated to see publisher after publisher do more and more to their portals, as if every scholar and library in the world came through their door to be wowed by the latest search feature. It’s hard enough to get patrons to start with the library home page, and many libraries are trying to develop services and technologies that put out the virtual- library welcome mat in other places. It’s all well and good to make publisher websites nicer landing places, but such effort without a means to push content out to users or to make the content available for federated search are futile (some are indeed doing both, and that is fine with me). Libraries should be leading the effort to break down the arrogant barriers between their patrons and the content they seek.
I realize I am getting a little outside my area of expertise, but it’s frustrating when publishers already have us over a barrel for the content they provide–it’s even more annoying to see wasted efforts at technical developments that don’t necessarily help users.
Whether it’s metasearch or developing standards like COUNTER and SUSHI, I applaud the publishers who give these efforts traction by trying them out; I encourage the rest to take a leap of faith, or their customers (libraries) to push harder.
[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]