Daily Archives: May 22, 2007

impact factor session

I just got back from the session on “beyond the impact factor.” I was really excited about it, but it ended up being a lot of what I knew, save the presentation on the University of California digital library study looking at value-based pricing, which was excellent. Eugene Garfield was the first speaker, but aside from criticizing people who criticize the flaws of the impact factor, his speech was fairly much like what you’d read on his web site. I was hoping for some more balance in the debate, but there wasn’t much. Brian Cameron’s article in portal was much better an overview of the impact factor.

Mentioned in the introduction to the speakers were a couple of journal evaluation measures that are being looked at: one from the UKSG 2007 meeting, the cost-per-cite model put forth by Bergstrom and McAfee, the Eigenfactor (never had heard of that one, I’ll admit), and the use of time spent on using a journal as a factor.

Part of the value-based pricing presentation talked about value-added contributions as one factor of journal pricing. Editors, for instance, who voluntarily edit journals at their institution do so at a cost of about $12,000/year per editor, just for space and time. Another component of value-based pricing was realistically looking at the cost increases publishers must bear per year using the Producer Product Index, which averaged a 1.36% increase from 2003-2006. (Obviously, journal prices are rising at a slightly higher rate.)

Another factor was the Bergstrom-McAfee RCI (which I missed the full name of)–essentially it looks at the prices of for-profit journals in a field in comparison to the prices of non-profit journals in the same field. If for-profit titles have a RCI score of 1 or less, they are good value (economically) titles; if the score is 1.5 or higher, it is a poor value title. These factors can be used in negotiations with publishers, though the University of California researchers have just begun to look at how that could be used.

more on the presidential inaugural speech

(Before I get to that, I just got back from the Mutter Museum–yay!)

Probably the other blogs have already covered this, but as I haven’t checked my reader in a couple of days, I will take the liberty of pretending no one has. Mark Funk’s presidential theme is Only Connect!, a quote from Howard’s End. He talked at length about why people associate (i.e., why are we all at MLA?), including an amusing look at some of the goofy and off-beat associations listed in the Encyclopedia of Associations, such as the International Sand Collectors Club, the Bowling Writers of America, the Northern Nut Growers Association, and the Association of Professional Piercers. The latter drew a lot of laughs from the audience for its health and education emphasis, which I thought was rather bizarre, since infected piercings, bloodborne diseases, and etc. are in fact major health concerns. (Physicians and health professionals should know how to remove piercings, basically–and if you want to help your health professionals learn how to do this, there is a book).

Anyway, he concluded that it is a fundamental part of human nature to associate, and then moved into a diverting simulation of a cave man giving a presentation at a cave man association meeting (complete with bulleted list).

The goal of his presidency of MLA is to expand the reach of the association and stop the isolation of librarians, spread out across the country and the world as we are. He talked about how only a minority of MLA members get to come to MLA–there needs to be a way to include all members in decision-making, educational efforts, and the community of MLA meetings, even when members can’t make it. This way, all members would be able to participate, share knowledge, and connect with each other.

He sees technology as the first step towards this goal–specifically social software and Web 2.0 technologies. He mentioned specifically blogs, wikis, and RSS, even naming boing boing as a top blog in addition to T. Scott’s blog. There was a lot more to this section of his talk, but overall, he just was encouraging using these tools as means of increasing the conversation and building participation in decision-making, along with making the association transparent.

He went through a mock-up of what a personalized myMLANET might look like, complete with member profile (no real social networking functionality was mentioned, though I would think his task force would look at that), RSS feed aggregator, auto-populated profile information (like what sections you belong to), AHIP points documenter, “tags” (which could be to a number of things, but he specifically mentioned del.icio.us and Flickr) and virtual conference materials, like videos and more.

He went through an example of how new members could then feel instantly connected to MLA, like their membership and opinions count, even if they just joined that day. For example, the profile he showed belonged to the cave man from the earlier simulation (Cyril Kaufman). Cyril logs on and sees in his aggregator page a post to the Public Services blog about a saber-toothed tiger loose in the stacks–Cyril could immediately post a response due to his specialized saber-toothed tiger knowledge. (The saber-toothed tiger infested library was in Kansas–where as we all know, evolution never happened…did I mention Mark Funk’s speech was hilarious?)

The final bits of his speech were talking about the speed of implementation of these ideas, which he realistically noted probably wouldn’t be in his tenure. He did encourage the association to reject the culture of perfect and stay in permanent beta, which got cheers from the audience. He got a standing ovation at the close of his speech–really, it was that good.

presidential inaugural speech

Mark Funk’s speech was awesome. I will write more later. :)

MLA update

I haven’t been keeping my log of MLA 2007 as up to date as I’d like, mainly due to lack of wireless access in the meeting and no Blackberry. After experiencing much frustration this meeting, I would highly, highly encourage the 2008 NPC to get free wireless access for all attendees. It might be costly, but it would be worth it to have a wired conference. I attended the E-Learn 2006 conference in Honolulu, which was probably about 2/3rds the size of this conference, and they provided free wireless. It was great–the whole room practically was filled with laptops and PDA’s and tablets.

Anyway, yesterday was pretty much chock full of meetings for me. I went to two sessions, one on generation gaps (the whole session) and one on integrating the library into first year medical school problem based learning curricula. The generation gaps presentations inspired much debate about whether generation gap theory is accurate or even useful as a distinction. Most of the presenters said yes, some said no.

To interject my opinion in the matter, I think it has a great deal of merit. I worked for one of the “greatest generation” at my last job, and I adored her, there were definite generational issues there. The biggest one was job loyalty. She had been grooming me to take over the library, and when I left as budget problems became too dire for me to stay, she felt personally betrayed because she thought I’d be there for a long time to come. Though I didn’t want to leave, I am a total Gen Xer–I know that the chances of me being ABLE to stay in one job the rest of my life are totally nil, and I operate at all my jobs in such a way as to keep myself eminently marketable for when the day comes where I will need to leave. Budgets get cut, jobs change, and my loyalty is to myself, not my employer.

I’m going off to the Quosa sunrise seminar now, but I will write more later, and I will link up a lot of these posts to the abstracts/PowerPoints later.