Free ebook: The digital academic

the-digital-academic-resources-and-information-to-help-you-enhance-your-researchA free ebook, The digital academic: resources and information to help you enhance your research has recently been made available by It covers guidance on tools and resources to use for your research and online that can help you save valuable time, as well as how to distribute your research to a wider audience in a number of creative ways.

The content of the book is based on a workshop, The Digital Academic: Tools and Tips for Research Impact and ECR Employability.  Andy Tattersall, Chair of MmIT, was one of three speakers at the workshop.

As part of its focus on Digital Citizenship, aspects of supporting the digital academic were discussed at recent MmIT events:


In the Palm of your Hand: the Future for the Hand-Held Librarian

The slides and notes for this presentation – due to be given at the Reduced Budgets? Increased Impact! Increasing LIS Impact with New Technologies conference at the University of Sheffield today – are available here:

Hand-Held Librarian #mmit2012

NB: this is the version presented on the day of the conference, which was amended slightly from earlier versions due to an error spotted in the original version. Please feel free to access this new version.

Internet Librarian (non-International) presentations available

Sure, Internet Librarian International kicks of tomorrow but you can also catch up with what happened at the *other* conference  — most of the slides from Internet Librarian 2012 have now been posted on the InfoToday website. There are some handy case studies about using QR Codes in the stacks, developing mobile apps, (re)developing library websites, ebook licensing and plenty more.


WebGL Bookcase – Google’s interactive bookshelf experiment

Although heavily overshadowed by the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, Google have also announced their take on the digital bookcase. You can try the WebGL Bookcase out now, but only if you are using a ‘modern browser’ (and for Google this tends to mean Chrome; even Firefox versions that do support WebGL aren’t always ‘modern’ enough). A bit like the Interactive Library prototype we’ve mentioned before, this presents eBooks in a digital bookcase that you can browse and select from (but no search yet).

And, as you may have guessed from the name, it uses WebGL with the Google Books API. You can open a 3D version of the book and each book comes with a QR Code for downloading to your mobile.  You can find out more on the Chrome Experiments page.

Open Library – striving to provide a page on the web for every book ever published

Open Library ( is an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published. Just like Wikipedia, you can contribute new information or corrections to the catalog. You can browse by subject, author or lists members have created. Open Library is a project of the non-profit Internet Archive, and has been funded in part by the California State Library and the Kahle/Austin Foundation.

At its heart, Open Library is a catalog. The project began in November 2007 and has been inhaling catalog records from some of the biggest libraries in the world ever since. They have over 20 million edition records online, provide access to 1.7 million scanned versions of books, and link to external sources like WorldCat and Amazon when they can. The secondary goal is to get the public as close to the actual document as possible, whether that is a scanned version courtesy of the Internet Archive, or a link where one can purchase a copy.

Open Library is an open project: the software is open, the data are open, the documentation is open, and they welcome all contributions. Contributions can be as simple as fixing a typo, adding a book, or writing a widget–. They have a small team of fantastic programmers who have accomplished a lot, but they cannot do it alone. The site if feature rich. For instance, you can create a list of any subjects, authors, works or specific editions. Once you have made a list, you can watch for updates or export all the editions in a list as HTML, BibTeX or JSON. You can then see all your lists and any activity using the “Lists” link on your Account page.

Open Library account holders can borrow up to 5 ebooks from the lending library. If you have ever read a book, you can help build the Library. All you need to do is hit the EDIT button and start filling in the gaps.  They seek all sorts of details, from what the book is about to information about the physical appearance of the book itself (size, format, number of pages etc). Other information they are interested in collecting,  is anything that connects Open Library records to other book sites out there on the Web. The easiest way to do this is to collect what are called “identifiers”. If you are a software developer, you might be interested to read a bit more in their Developers FAQ. So, If you love books, why not help build a library?

Posted on behalf of Kevin Curran, Tech RoundUp columnist for MmIT journal

Computers in Libraries 2011: around the web

While I haven’t been able to keep up with Computers in Libraries 2011 conference on Twitter (a combination of conference noise, time differences and crazy busyness), I’ve been keeping an eye out for any write-ups and presentations as they become available.

While it was undoubtedly a shame that James Crawford (Engineering Director for Google Books) didn’t make it to deliver the keynote at CiL 2011, the panel discussion pulled together to fill the gap sounds like a very worthy substitute. Sarah Houghton-Jan has a great write-up of this and other CiL2011 sessions on the Librarian in Black blog (and you can catch Crawford’s keynote at Europeana Open Culture 2010 on YouTube if you still feeling bereft).

The Demonstrating the Impact of Public Access Technology session has been blogged and it’s good to hear that the survey tool used will be shared.

Nicole Engard has a writeup of the Building Great Websites and In Pursuit of Library Elegance presentations on the What I Learned Today site.

You can also find slides from the Drupal session (focusing on RSS) on SlideShare.

eBooks and e-content licensing models

There has been a bucketload of commentary about the recent announcement by HarperCollins about limiting the lending of eBooks in libraries, all well worth wading through.  Meredith Farkas, on the Information Wants To Be Free blog,  puts this in the broader context of problematic e-content licensing models. The post and ensuing comments covers many of the issues the library world has been grappling with when procuring electronic resources — a debate well worth having.