CLIR publication: No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research Libraries for the 21st Century

Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) invited about 25 individuals on February 2008 and had discussion with topic “How should we be rethinking the research library in a swiftly changing information landscape?”  It then published a report in August 2008 titled No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research Libraries for the 21st Century.

This report contains “…a series of provocative essays, the proceedings of a lively and informed symposium earlier this year in Washington, and a set of recommendations extrapolated from both. While several of the subject headings are familiar—scholarly communication, peer review, preservation of data, and e-science—the conclusions and recommendations are not. The consensus derived from these efforts was unambiguous in calling for more aggressive intervention to better structure and manage the challenges we face.”

The report comes in two version: HTML and PDF (81 pages).  The first part contains the summary of the meeting and the recommendations, which you can read at

I am very interested in the recommendation no.4, “Institutions need to support environments, within and external to libraries, that not only promote but demand change. More funds should be allocated for experimental projects and new approaches; staff with nontraditional or new areas of expertise must be hired.”  It fits nicely with my thinking that we need more staff to do research and development.  Yeah, any opinion/suggestion/conclusion that match with my opinion is always a good opinion/suggestion/conclusion. ;-)   The reality is, of course, no library should hire staff with nontraditional or new areas of expertise unless it is ready to support such staff (human resource and working infrastructure.)

I also support the recommendation no. 8, “Institutions should use studio and design experiences as the basis of a new library school curriculum. Students of library and information sciences should learn to participate in the design and delivery of information resources that serve the scholarly community. Academic librarians should be engaged in the process through project provision and supervision.”

to tag or not to tag

I was reading my Google Reader and Jonathan Rochkin’s Tagging and motivation in library catalog? post caught my attention. He asked about the “why” of tagging, the motivation that drive people to tag. He asked “Why would a user spend their valuable time adding tags to books in your library catalog?”

I have the same question as well, for I still don’t really grasp the social implication of tagging, aside from whatever stuff Dave Weinberger said on his ‘Everything is Miscellaneous’ blog on tagging.

Back to library catalog tagging: if I were a student and found a useful resource for my course, then I probably would tag it with my course number and the topic of the paper my professor assigned to me. That would make it easier for me to find that resource again. If my classmates did the same thing, then I could get a list of resources for my paper.

However, I probably would use the catalog as an “on demand” activity. That is, I would use the library catalog as needed and if I find a resource suitable for my paper, I want to get it right away and prefer none of my classmates find out about it. Chances are, my classmates would do the same thing. Tagging almost becomes a moot point.

OK. This doesn’t help. Sorry.

This might be different if I did a group project. Each of us could tag resources that would be useful for our project. We could have a list of resources that can be listed on our project report. That tagging collaboration would still be a short-live activity, however.

Personally, I found out that I am not really into the tagging thingy. I reviewed my delicious list and realized that my tags are actually the reflection of the content of the site, not the “why”. If I tag them by the “why”, most of them would probably tagged as “cool application” or “interesting stuff.” Or “the site mentioned by Tim O’Reilly because I follow his blog and, by the way, it is indeed an interesting stuff.” is a collaborated effort that allow scientists to do search on national and international databases. It was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information in partnership with the British Library and other sources.

Pretty cool effort, considering they have to deal with various databases with different metadata, database structure, and search syntax.

I tried it out by using my usual dorky word search, “java”, because I always curious how a system would distinguish it between java programming language, java island, javanese people, java language (yes, the language of javanese), and, of course, java coffee.

Well, not much happening on the search result. You will get a list of results supposedly based on a relevancy and no clear categorization. However, I suppose the scientists will  probably use more specific search terms and can expect to get a more precise results.

Using wildcard (*) works, as well as boolean search.