Harvard’s Library Lab has announced the first projects it will be funding. It’s an exciting group, and we’re proud that three of our projects made the list:

  • Library Analytics Toolkit: Tools to enable libraries to understand, analyze, and visualize the patterns of activities, including checkouts, returns, and recent acquisitions, and to do so across multiple libraries.

  • LibraryCloud Server: Build and maintain a web server that makes available to all Harvard library innovators data and metadata gathered from the Harvard libraries.

  • Library Innovation Podcasts: A series of biweekly podcast interviews with library innovators about their projects and ideas. The initial series would consist of 15 podcasts of about 20 minutes each.

We’re very excited about these, and have already begun work on them. In fact, if you have ideas for people to interview for our podcasts, let us know.


A couple months back on the airplane, I made a version of this list. Some loose observations/questions about the Lab, what we’ve been focusing on, what we could be looking at…

1. Measuring success – What constitutes a successful project? What is our (LIL) metric?

2. Off-line innovation -We’re focusing on software & data, how can we expand our scope offline?

3. Voyeurism sells – Our most successful endeavors (as measured by eliciting a response [IMO]) have pulled back the curtain, allowing people to “see in” the library. People are curious, how can we leverage this voyeurism to make great projects?

4. See our assets with fresh eyes – Libraries have several amazing assets to leverage for innovation (that start-ups could only dream of):

  1. central location – public libraries, private ones, academic – libraries are always sited at the heart of everything
  2. librarians – an interested community, a live and in-person customer support staff
  3. strong user base — a community of patrons
  4. transaction data – we can still identify trends, learn about the community while respecting privacy
  5. trust – people trust libraries and librarians as purveyors
  6. inventory – stuff (books, dvds, mags, kindles?) people want, for “free trial”

5. The Library experience – Libraries, in general, have looked the same for quite a while. The experience visiting a library, the services provided, the look hasn’t changed too much. What would the most far-out, radical library be?

6. Future – The future of the library is not the future of the book. But how is it not?

7. A culture of innovation – How can we, as a Lab, both advance large projects, while also pursuing smaller ideas and experiments?


According to Marilia Maciel at InfoJustice:

The Brazilian Ministry of Culture has removed the logo of the Creative Commons license from its website. Since Gilberto Gil was ahead of the Ministry (2003-2008), all the content of the website has been licensed in Creative Commons.

The removal has been interpreted by the Brazilian civil society as a sign of the Minister ´s inflexibility. The removal came right after the publicization of an open letter, asking for the continuation of the policies that were adopted or were under discussion during the government of Lula. Minister Ana de Hollanda has criticized the proposal for copyright reform, which would, among of things, introduce important exceptions and limitations in Brazilian law.


Science Magazine reports on a study sponsored by the EU that found that 89% of the 50,000 researchers surveyed think open access is good for their field. On the other hand, the reporter, Gretchen Vogel, points out that while 53% said they had published at least one open access article, only 10% of papers are published in open access journals. What’s holding them back from doing more open access publishing? About 40% said it was because there wasn’t enough funding to cover the publication fees, and 30% said there weren’t high-quality open access journals in their field.

The data and analysis is supposed to become available this week at The SOAP Project. Unfortunately, the Science Magazine article covering the report is only available to members of the AAAS or to those willing to pay $15 for 24 hours of access.


I’ve been thinking about an idea that doesn’t seem to be working yet.  But gonna throw it out here anyway.

It’s this idea of an information journey.  Adding a narrative arc/time dimension to information discovery.

Test Case

My personal trajectory into learning about art and artists, from about 1998 – 2003. It’s basically a revisionist-history of my on-ramp into an aspect of the topic (conceptual art). Is there something more communicated when one shares their steps along the way?  They path that get them to their present interest?  Embedded is just a preview, click the “finding art” to try it:


View Finding Art in a larger map

I made the mockup with google’s my maps.  Should it be on a map? dunno, could just be a timeline,  but having the ability to hang off content in bubbles seems nice.

The sole difference between this and an annotated bibliography, or listmania for that matter, is the time/progression dimension.

If these paths were shared and made public, the intersections between them could be neat.

Thoughts/feedback (all thoughts from anybody are welcome : )?


BoingBoing.net reports:

The library in Stony Stratford near Milton Keynes, England, urged its patrons to check out every book on the shelves as a way of proving to the local council that its collection and facilities provide a vital service to the community. Stony Stratford is one of many towns across the UK that are facing severe library closures as the Tory-LibDem coalition government recklessly slashes its transfer payments to local governments (while breaking their promise to rein in enormous bonuses at the banks, even the ones that are owned by the taxpayer).

Let’s just hope the local government doesn’t look around the emptied library and think, “Yeah, great, I can really see how the new town road repair tool shed could fit in that corner labeled ‘Classics,’ and we could put the new town golf course’s pro shop over there by where the empty ‘Science’ shelves are…”


An open set of people — “2 Librarians, A Mathematician, An Economist, a Computer Scientist, a Library developer and a chemist,” according to the blog post — has been working on principles for open bibliographic data. They’re going to launch it on January 17 at the PMR Symposium.

The four principles expounded in the statement are:

1. When publishing data make an explicit and robust license statement.

2. Use a recognized waiver or license that is appropriate for data.

3. If you want your data to be effectively used and added to by others it should be open as defined by the Open Definition (http://opendefinition.org/) – in particular non-commercial and other restrictive clauses should not be used.

4. We strongly recommend explicitly placing bibliographic data in the Public Domain via PDDL or CC0.

Some of our own projects have to wrestle with licensing issues, so it will be helpful to have these principles out and officially published. (Hat tip to Peter Suber)