Digital Odyssey 2006

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Knowledge Ontario – Background and Current Update

Posted by odyssey2006 on June 30, 2006


Brian Bell, Director of E-Services at Oakville Public Library

Peter Rogers, Chair of Knowledge Ontario

Session Description:

How will the recent $8 million Ontario government grant improve your library? How will it help you meet the future head on? Two members of the Knowledge Ontario (KO) (formerly Ontario Digital Library) management team shared insider info.

Reference Documents:

1. Ontario Digital Library Business Plan (available on OLA and KO websites)

2. Knowledge Ontario Business Case (not yet public; prepared for the government)

Overview of KO:·

The name has evolved from Ontario Digital Library to Knowledge Ontario, in order to remove library jargon and speak more directly to the government (who provide the project funding).

What is KO? It is a suite of programs and services designed to meet the information and learning needs of all Ontarions. It is the first ever collaboration of 6,500 university, college, public, school, and government libraries, promising equal availability and access to core digital information resources for all Ontarions. Importantly, KO is not trying to circumvent libraries, but rather attempt to deliver core digital resources to everybody.·

Knowledge Ontario has six modules:

1. Resource Ontario

2. Our Ontario (digital images)

3. Ask Ontario (24/7 reference)

4. Video Ontario

5. Teach Ontarians (skills module to help user and professional work within context of KO)

6. Connect Ontarians (newest and fuzziest part of project; originally intent was to identify quality resources, now incorporating social software)

Provincial Environment:

  • 2005 Throne Speech outlined plans for ensuring Ontario’s success in a knowledge-based economy (where information is fundamental to economic success and technology is changing how we find and use that information)
  • Bob Rae’s 2005 report on ON’s post-secondary education calls for a province-wide digital library
  • Various from ServiceOntario to TelehealthOntario to ScholarsPortal reflect new realities
  • The library sector invited the ON government to be a partner in establishing KO

Creating and Licensing Digital Content:

  • Already have a system of haves and have-nots in province already: the Ontario library sector currently spends > $67.5M for digital resources, but is providing fragmented and inequitable levels of service.
  • A strong base exists already in university, college, school, and public libraries
  • KO will build upon this foundation and focus on 3 core areas, one being to align and leverage resources and services
  • Small libraries will provide digital resources for the 1st time
  • Licensing digital content: the province’s investment will fund the core service
  • KO will be encouraging new levels of collaboration and making a wealth of information about Ontario broadly available for the 1st time

Some Costs

  • Our Ontario: cost $3.5M over 5 years; more than 20,000 hours of manpower went into getting project off the ground
  • Video Ontario: $1.0M over 4 years (pilot project)
  • Ask Ontario: $13.2M over 5 years (much of it in-kind) (
  • Connect Ontarians: $8.3M over 4 years (89% in-kind)
  • Funding will be distributed across the 6 projects, with a significant % of estimated costs to be used towards purchasing digital content

More About Our Ontario:

  • Provides seamless and integrated access to Ontario’s digital info resources
  • Enhancing user access to digitized local history and special collections by bringing together dispersed material
  • Promoting collaboration amongst various partners and organizations (including small public libraries, Early Canadiana, Images Canada, etc)
  • User finding interface plus tool set
  • KO will provide a search service which points the user to the local system where the content is housed (unless the contributors don’t have the means to store their own digital objects, in which case KO will host the content)
  • Users want a Google-like search across all silos; a single-place to turn to for federated searching (local > regional > provincial > national)
  • KO will act as a national aggregator and will further normalize the data

[Notetaker: Melanie Sellar]


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Getting the Community Content Online – How to Do It

Posted by odyssey2006 on May 26, 2006

Walter Lewis, Manager Support Services,
Halton Hills Public Library

            The seminar, “Getting Community Content Online – How to Do It”, was lead by Walter Lewis, Manager of Support Services at the Halton Hills Public Library (HHPL).  The purpose of the seminar was to introduce the HHPL’s digitalization project called Halinet and give a hands-on demonstration of how to create digital content on library websites.  The digital content that Lewis used during the seminar demonstration was the Essex Free Press, a local Halton community newspaper that has been archived on the HHPL’s website. 

            Lewis demonstrated that downloading the Essex Free Press onto HHPL’s website is both quick and easy.  The whole edition of the newspaper is scanned and then each article is catalogued by completing some or all of the twenty-four fields in the meta-data field set.  The fields include title, author, notes, subject, personal name and corporate name.  Advertisements are excluded from the digitized newspaper, except for those that have some historical value, such as estate sales.  Once the indexing of the edition is complete, the newspaper is posted onto HHPL’s website for reading by patrons. 

            The images on Lewis’s Great Lakes Images website are digitized and catalogued in the same manner.  The images, many of them old postcards, are scanned and then indexed using meta-data fields. The fields include geographic location, longitude and latitude, creator’s name, and date photo taken.  All photos on the website are copy-right free so that no copyrights laws are violated. 

            Lewis plans to eventually update both the HHPL and Great Lakes Images’ digital archives to meet the standards necessary for inclusion in the federal government’s Canadian Heritage Inventory Network.

Note taker:  Susan McGarvey.

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Avoiding Misunderstanding in Collaborative Digital Projects

Posted by odyssey2006 on May 23, 2006

Notes from: Avoiding Misunderstanding in Collaborative Digital Projects

Note taker: Allison Standen

Presentation by Brenda Campbell, Images Canada Project Manager

Presented at OLITA: Digital Odyssey, Toronto, May 12 th, 2006

About Brenda Campbell

Brenda manages the Images Canada project currently and is also involved in the Digitization Program for the Archival Community. Brenda has worked on the Images Canada project since 2002. This particular program has been often cited as an excellent model for its manner of bringing together a multitude of partners.

Overview on Partnerships & Digitization Partnerships

Key to partnerships is establishing good agreements or memorandums of understanding so that all parties work out the parameters and expectations ahead of time. Brenda noted that can be very difficult to rework contracts after the fact, so it is much better to get everything agreed to and understood up front.

As noted in her slideshow, partnerships form the basis of collaborative digital projects with institutions pooling their resources to digitize collections and host them in a searchable database online. One of the partners will generally act as an administrator and host the database, while other partners are contributors.

Example: Images Canada

In the early stages of Images Canada the host was the Library & Archives Canada who supplied the server and the technical team. Some of the inaugural partners were: Toronto Public Library, the Glenbow Museum, the Earth Sciences Sector of Natural Resources, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Images Canada brings together existing online collections and allows researchers and users to view thumbnail images. Currently there are over 160, 000 images in the database. Unfortunately, unlike the English content, there is not yet as vast an amount of French content. Presently only government departments must supply bilingual metadata to accompany their submitted images.

A project such as Images Canada uses a Memorandum of Understanding to lay down the basic contractual arrangements, but then also includes a Project Annex to detail specific projects that are being undertaken by the partners.

All deliverables are tracked and partners are highly encouraged to keep to agreed upon deadlines. This is particularly important if funding is tied to deliverables and timelines.

Items to watch out for

Brenda warns against “scope creep” where a content provider discovers a new collection or additional items not originally detailed in the Project Annex which they feel has to be included. Additional items can result in a series of resource problems. There may not be enough human resources to take on the new material and still meet deadlines, particular equipment may be required which has to be schedule or is unavailable, and the costs go beyond budgeted amounts.

Another issue to watch out for is Copyright. When it comes to digitization projects the question of who owns the image and therefore who has the rights to determine what happens to the image, is very key. There are five Images Canada staff people employed full time in clearing copyright issues. As part of the agreement partners can be expected to clear copyright. Sometimes this results in a contentious situation due to incorrect assumptions being made. In one case, an advertisement was being submitted for inclusion; however it wasn’t clear that the copyright issues had been taken care of: Who paid for the original Ad? Is that company still around? Do they still own the Ad?

In general, however, Brenda reports that most copyright owners are thrilled by the prospect of their work being included and about 94% of the issues are cleared up without costs. The Images Canada project does allocate approx. $1000-$2000 per project in case there are costs in obtaining the rights to the image. They undertake approximately 14 projects per year. The most costly copyright issues seem to involve audio-visual materials and in particular musical works. Copyright can be held by music cooperatives, companies, or multiple people. The rights when granted are often quite limited – i.e. a music clip can only be 30 seconds long and can only be used for a specific time period before renewing.

Overview of Agreements

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement between partners for a limited time. As Brenda’s slide points out this MOU can be quite specific or general and is often drawn up by the legal department. This is quite formal.

A Contribution Agreement is less formal although formatted similar to an MOU. It is often between a funding agent and the organization receiving funds. The Digitization Program for the Archival Community tends to use this type of agreement more often.

Letter of Agreement (LOA) is a letter that is more informal and which is generally between institutions for a specific, short-term project.

No matter what type of agreement you put in place Brenda recommends that you make sure you determine who is responsible for what, what the timelines are, if there are limitations and who is paying for what.

A Project Annex is a document added to a general, long term MOU and it details specific work that is to be accomplished in the short-term.

Memorandum of Understanding: Overview

Brenda’s slideshow summarized several key areas:

  1. Project Responsibilities
    1. Who will provide what and when
    2. Establish clear roles and expectations: who is handling administration, management, technical support, etc
    3. Good idea to include a clause that covers unexpected tasks with terminology along the lines of … other related duties or as required and appropriate
  2. Project Costs
    1. Who will pay for which service or project (decisions may involve determining is one is using off the shelf software, open source, etc.)
    2. State limitations
  3. Project Approvals
    1. Who needs to authorize submissions before launch? (Brenda mentioned one scenario where a partner had left all the authorizations with one individual who had to take a leave in the middle of the project, but who had not delegated this power to anyone else – it left the project stagnant and unable to meet its deadlines)
  4. Dispute Resolution
    1. Determine with a clear methodology how conflicts will be handled
    2. Decide if a third party will be involved
  5. Copyright
    1. Establish who is responsible for copyright clearance, spell this is out clearly in the MOU
    2. Establish what the terms of use are for the submitted digitized content
    3. Determine if each partner will have their own individual copyright statement on the host site or will there be a common copyright statement for all contributors to the project
    4. Will there be a pre-authorized license for reproduction (often this is stated as for educational use only and is for use by schools, teachers, students…)
  6. Duration and Termination
    1. Determine how long agreement will be in effect
    2. Define process to terminate agreement
    3. Determine review period

Points from Slideshow & Comments related to Agreements set up for Images Canada

  • the initial MOU was between NLC and its inaugural partners
    • it did take several iterations before they arrived at a final version
    • it needed each participant’s legal dep’t or staff person to review
    • it required signatures of the Nat’l Librarian and chief administrator of each partner
    • Duration was 2 years
  • Current MOU provides a broad framework with a 5yr term
    • It lists collaborative activities but stipulates that these may be limited by funding and resources
    • Limits responsibilities for costs incurrent by partners (limits to what the partners received as funding)
    • Provides for consultation as dispute resolution methodology
    • Termination requires 3 months written notice
    • Includes clause of limitation of legally binding obligations, (note: this is also not a legally binding contract)
  • Use a Project Annex each year to detail that year’s projects – this can be signed at the director level of partners yearly and covers additions to long-term project
    • This document defines scope (which may include the number of images – i.e. a target may be quoted), establishes mutual roles and responsibilities
    • Clearly establishes approval/authorization process
    • Defines specifics relating to copyright of contributed material
    • Defines term of 1yr with termination notice of 30 days

Comments following presentation

Suggestion: “Add in to MOU and critical dependencies that would affect successful outcome of project. i.e. define what is essential to project’s completion – funding, timelines, certain equipment, key resources being hired, etc”

Tip from Brenda: “Be clear on what contributions are in kind and what are in cash.”

Question: “Do you have any strategies for facilitating the approval process for an MOU internally – i.e. for approaching internal legal departments?”

Answer: “Make sure the language of the MOU is in plain language that all can easily understand what the project is about and try to work with a consistent group of people.”

Comment: “It seems that Images Canada is not well known within Library & Archives Canada and it doesn’t appear to be well funded. I am concerned that it continues to receive good government support and that we make it known how important a project and service it is to not only the library community but to our broader community as a whole.”

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To Find you Need a Great Search Tool

Posted by odyssey2006 on May 23, 2006

Peter Binkley

To Find you Need a Great Search Tool

Peel's Prairie Portal – Project History

  • 2001-3rd Ed Bruce Peel's Bibliography of Canadian Prairies
  • 7437 items
  • Bibliography and digitized texts

Strength of the project was the metadata foundation from the bibliography

"death is easy, metadata is hard"

  • Learned from previous projects that large scale scanning in house is too resource intensive
  • outsourced all scanning – OCLC Preservation Services using Olive ActivePage processing (developed for newspapers)
  • get XML repositories back from OCLC to ingest into our system
  • XML allows them to sidestep problems around character sets and diacritics – gave them unicode from the start
  • Olive's a proprietary format but it is open and the project can manipulate them however they want
  • archiving tiffs, using png, with full OCR

Interface – Building It (Peel 1.0)

  • decided for in-house development based on Open Source – SiteSearch, Cocoon (front end) allows XML to be transformed into html and other formats, PHP
  • limited search capability, was conservative, too much so, new interface addressing this

Today's interface, Basic Search default to All bibliographic fields, never changed by users! no one used advanced search

  • problematic because some bibilographic material without full-txt, users didn't like it
  • changed default to full-text and that slowed things down
  • search very basic "red deer" finds all hits with red and deer but not the place name or river name
  • only shows images to hide the sloppy OCR that resulted from scanning of microfilm
  • newspapers, no artilce level metadata, Olive automatically identifies the articles through the paper's layout and displays the graphics
  • Olive developed for IE, Peel not using it as their interface except for newspapers

Design Goals for Peel 2.0

  • flexible searching (all the things you can do in google)
  • integration of searching and browsing
  • UofA recent usability test for web, showed students search and back out immediatelly if don't find what they want, showed navigation/browsing must be integrated in search


  • Now – 5,350 items, 400,000 pages
  • eventually -7000 items, 1,100,000 pages
  • Newpapers – now 7 with 650,000 items

Peel 2.0

  • still open source
  • Lucene (robust searching), Cocoon, Ajax (make interface more responsive and fun)
  • Partnerships – Manitobia project (Mark Leggot), Art Rhyno and Walter Lewis in Ontario (also using Lucene and Cocoon)
  • sparklines – concept behind visual displays based on theory of Tufte

Demo of monographs from UofA's development server

  • “wherever you go there will be search”
  • fully bilingual interface
  • example of ajax, as you type drop down subjects appear to select from (using os CSS template)
  • search results bring back results, another search box to refine search, map with locations of documents (using google maps)
  • search within results, drill down
  • phrase searching works
  • shows 3 pages before, page the hit is on, 3 pages after
  • graph showing chronology of search results, can click to narrow period searched
  • shows all the subject terms in a list (from the result set) then the user can browse after search
  • still experiencing performance problems

Demo – Newspaper interface

  • pick year
  • search within year
  • search within issue
  • "no lazy student will be turned off the site because they couldn't find a search box" ; )

Lucene Full-Text searching – "fancy"

  • java, no probs with diacritics
  • fuzzy logic can be used to expand what is actually searched, help uncover OCR problems
  • nested, boolean, truncation, proximity, diacritics

Concluding thoughts

  • searching and browsing we've gotta make it work!
  • problem with performance, needs to be worked out
  • collaboration – tricky but key
  • open source development model is paying off, documentation and standards essential for collaborative code development
  • cld've bought something, people keen on endeca
  • will incorporate into ILS
  • staff engages with open source, locally developed stuff (better than resigned staff dealing with proprietary systems)

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Build it: But How to Make Them Come?

Posted by odyssey2006 on May 21, 2006

Build it—But How to Make Them Come?

Beth Jefferson, founder Bibliocommons

Note taker: K. Mogg

(Due to technical errors which impacted time constraints, this presentation was delivered in a slightly condensed form).

Discovery (in Libraries):

  • not enough just to have content; content must be brought to users, users to content
  • discovery a large part of library experience; reader advisory
  • importance of serendipitous retrieval -importance of browsing
  • browsing as a process is missing during electronic transactions; but electronic browsing has surpassed other methods
  • media techniques, ipods change methods; particularly the reduction of complexity

(Summary of various graphs and charts comparing High vs. Low frequency remote users of OPAC’s)

  • three times a week or more; prediction for all users soon
  • average visit to library shorter; average 15 minutes
  • how are books selected in this context?  Higher incidence of book and video store displays, online reviews
  • how frequently do you visit an online book store?
  • compare online book stores with libraries
  • library experience is much less satisfactory for high frequency users
  • need to change libraries
  • tendency to browse vs. pre-select; low frequency OPAC browsers use more pre-select
  • where do titles come from?  Audio book sites, TV, etc
  • online sites: help with searching, discovery, etc—back to library to find cheap sources (are materials available in catalogue?)

“Cataloguing News”—Deanna Marcus, Cataloguing Quarterly

  • “Why not let Google serve as (y)our library catalogue?”

Why Not to use Google (etc.) as a library catalogue:

  • what are you in business for?
  • can’t take models from large publishing companies with advertising/marketing  and spin- off product deals
  • options on a large commercial web site (ie. Amazon or Chapters) impacts what you discover.
  • here, the discover is limited to bestsellers; not an infinite variety of choice but rather a narrowing of choice
  • Amazon: not an effective discovery tool; websites programmed to generate more titles for online customers, ie.  “customers who like this book also bought…”—this in turn used to flog more and more bestsellers
  • this will kill libraries
  • definition of ‘best-selling’—can be many things.  On Amazon this is generally temporal/ephemeral– Google’s ‘most popular’ rankings are similar
  • not so with libraries

Why this matters to libraries:

  • maintain relevancy for patrons–.as more people ask for best sellers
  • demand for “new”
  • huge holds lists for best sellers; how does this impact patron satisfaction?
  • Amazon: controls experience; uses own staff reviewers—maybe librarians can do this as well?

Clay Shirky:  “Power laws, Weblogs, and Inequality”; ‘distribution of demand’;

  • mid-list books—challenged in terms of getting noticed; handful of titles accounts for most sales
  • in contrast, Netflix—allows for browsing for selection
  • desire to circulate all titles and give customers help making a choice; customers are presented with possibilities, even older movies
  • offering alternatives, multiple ways into collection

What is Needed:

  1. expert to P2P
  2. semantic to social
  3. Less is more
  • collocation: in social context; people don’t choose novels because of subjects
  • The question remains: how to find ‘books like…’ in library catalogue? ie Oprah; where to find books like the last one we liked and read
  • very relevant for fiction, but other genres as well
  • how to do this in a library environment: best not to do this in a ‘between patron to institution’ format, rather patron to patron
  • how can we connect one person to another person with similar likes?
  • Library Thing—ie Harry Potter; first generation tagging;  use of descriptive tools, and the capacity to navigate descriptive tools (other readers who have tagged certain books as “dark” or “magic” etc; )
  • “sharing will be everywhere”
  • soon to spread all over web; Google, yahoo
  • “social network as filter”
  • MySpace—takes this to an extreme

How can this benefit libraries?  If Myspace has 42 million ‘ever registered” globally, libraries have 150 million plus users: North America; use this model; expand potential

Those who use the OPAC: use it a lot; more frequency than Amazon

  • patrons: as evinced from conducted study, show good will and will participate in submitting reviews to a library, including teens. Older adults much more so, since social networks not as open to older adults;
  • participation: not tied in to making people buy, as on Amazon
  • how people discover materials: browsing materials; fast lane/new; return cart; then after this: library displays down to staff advice
  • how do we make entire collection relevant to users?


Libraries built in time of scarcity; now, time of abundance: how will hearts and minds be won?  By those who help us discover less that is more relevant, and by those who make the process fun.

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Knowledge Ontario Reality Check

Posted by odyssey2006 on May 16, 2006

Digital Odyssey 2006

Knowledge Ontario Reality Check – Peter Rogers, KO Management Group

[Notes by Alison Stirling]

Peter Rogers offered a brief review of the Knowledge Ontario (KO) initiative as presented in the morning that will link 6500 libraries at university, college, government, public and school levels. We were reminded that KO had only received word in late March 2006 of its $8 million start-up funding. He emphasized that KO was a huge collaborative effort that could never have been successful in getting funding from only one government ministry, that there had to be cross ministerial support, and that this collaboration would be reflected in the governance of KO.

Governance in Year 1

  • Clear focus on establishing a strong foundation of governance and management
  • The emphasis on funding, right technology and professional expertise will lead the organization to develop and deliver programs.
  • The recruitment of full-time Executive Director and IT [information technology] manager and project coordinators is a priority for the fall and winter of 2006.
  • Pursuing partnerships and collaborations, particularly with the Ontario government (e.g. Ministry of training and Ministry of education) and those outside of the library world (e.g. arts, archives, TVO’s homework hotline) will be key priorities. Now that there is a little money, there are potential partners interested in talking (when you have government support, the large corporations are interested).
  • Board of Directors (highest level of governance), of nine people plus a chair, with sector representations from public libraries, schools, colleges and universities.
  • There will be two representatives from each sector and one from government libraries. The management group is considering asking OLA to appoint the non-voting chair person to help bring collaboration together.
  • The board are responsible for policy, accountability, finance and strategic planning.
  • Steering/Advisory Committee (next level ) will be made up of chairs of projects, the executive director and IT manager. Their work is to determine where to take KO in the future and involve projects as key elements. In the case of Resource Ontario (where database vendor negotiations are first challenge), Darryl Skidmore hired, and a committee of libraries representatives are already involved in vendor negotiations.
  • Governance structure is evolving and flexible

Accountability is key, because OLA is holding all of the $8 million grant, they need to be conscientious in governance and constitutional convention and founding meeting of the KO board.

OLA will be asked to put representative onto KO Board to help with bylaws and all accountability measures.

A timely opportunity to:

  • establish equitable access to digital information resources
  • bring Ontario up to speed with other jurisdictions (like Alberta)
  • close province’s digital divide
  • meet the needs of Ontario’s have-not communities

Knowledge Ontario’s priorities mirror the Liberal platform in Ontario: education and training, healthy people and communities, culture, innovation and creativity and informed decision-making.

Some timelines

May Implementation team meets and prepares plan

June Management group approval

June Negotiate relationship with OLA (including space) and discuss how sanctioned

July Begin work on bylaws, E.D. position (discuss with Lucy Pana of TAL)

June More project groups established and coordinator hired for Ask ON

June Identify sector appointing bodies (will go back to constituents, eg. Council of Directors of Education, on how to get sectoral representation; for Colleges talking to Council of Colleges

July Business plan outline that board will be high profile in community, business, education and in interim period might get same level because nitty gritty work needs to be done.

Sept – Nov Establish Board

Sept – Oct Resource Ontario contract

Fall Executive director search, ED to begin January 07

Question 1: Who must be involved and how will they get onto the Board of Directors? Answer – OLA, TVO, Ontario government representatives

Question 2: After the $8.7 million is spent, then what? Answer: the business plan projected for 5 years with $40 million. KO management group views the grant as a way to show ‘proof of concept’.

Question 3: There already exists a number of consortia. How will KO fit in? Answer: people from various sectors sitting on board are aware and experienced in consortia. KO might want to be ‘value added’, especially where collaboration can contribute to negotiated database savings.

Question 4: The goal should be sustainable influence. The “executive director” title doesn’t cut it in the private sector. The position must be a CEO to be equal to other stable sectors.

Question 5: What are the plans to communicate this significant project? Answer: A brochure is to go out to different sectors, and KO will use OLA and CLA to disseminate promotions.

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Opening Keynote: “This is Not Your Grandmother’s Library”

Posted by odyssey2006 on May 16, 2006

Lucy Pana, Executive Director, The
Alberta Library Online

Note taker: K. Mogg

  • Ontario andAlberta: parallel roads; experiences to share
  • presentation framed in terms of how Library services in
    Alberta have been changed by collaboration

Alberta Libraries:

  • consortia of public, special, university and college libraries; 15,000-25000 dollars depending on library
  • NEOS consortium
  • services not directly to citizens but to member libraries
  • 7 regional libraries, libraries designated as nodes, all schools, provincial libraries           
  • provide services to 270 libraries
  • regional networks: essential to achieving this
  • 7 affiliate members
  • help rural libraries without technology
  • Vision: Universal barrier free access for all Albertans to information and ideas delivered in a dynamic model of cooperation extending beyond walls and beyond current levels of performance
  • Values: life long learning; leadership (help organizations help users); respect (equity); inclusion (active participation of all members); openness (candor, accountability)
  • Key for collaboration : healthy partners make healthy partnership
  • membership: give and receive


Board of directors-executive: Standing committees: governance; finance; advocacy, APLEN, Lois Hole Campus
Alberta digital library
; Service Committees (participation of all levels of staff)

  • collaborative rather competitive environment
  • Alberta: allows membership fees—how does this go along with access?
  • Position of
    Alberta Library: decided not to take position on fees; membership divided
  • many members have revenue from this; government doesn’t support
  • autonomy for members; but, participation in one aspect must continue once started
  • joint contribution of resources

Resource Sharing:

  • The Alberta Library (TAL) facilitates sharing collections among libraries by giving better access to both existing and new content, and sharing human resources
  • need for one card?  (right now multiple cards, not just the TAL)
  • symbol of Barrier free access
  • TAL Online—access to catalogues of member libraries
  • Ask a question-collaborative virtual reference


  • province wide library card wanted by TAL         
  • “fear of the hordes”; that members won’ ‘clean up collections’
  • a few early champions; college and public libraries participate
  • questions around reciprocal borrowing
  • Faculty at post-secondary institutions worried about loss of material
  • limit to five books on card; provision for losses; budgeted for $3000 (usually never spent, except for one year)
  • policy passed at first policy meeting
  • within two to three years, TAL card implemented
  • criteria for membership: must agree to reciprocal borrowing
  • Alberta never had a union catalogue; were participants capable of participating in program?
  • achieved by funding through APLAN
  • Knowledge Network—Universities-used Site-Search; usability testing; provided training to library staff; intro to TAL online
  • provides a safety net to rural libraries
  • success: interaction between public and academic libraries
  • non technical perspective: made it possible for critical mass re; participation; readiness for libraries, launched publicly, investigated technology
  • link to TAL online appeared on Government site shortly after
  • ILL service started; not all members comfortable with mediated requests
  • ILL service generates fear of hordes, too
  • 4 week period to test
  • Knowledge Network funding: reference service; started through colleges; then tweaked for public library needs
  • when receiving library can’t answer question, goes to group


*SuperNet project

-facilitates decision-making for libraries with respect to the SuperNet

*Community Access program:

-administration of grants on behalf of industry

*IT Services

  • authentication services
  • taught lessons: started with software that ended up not being scaleable; originally used with 7 databases with patron codes; but, in fact, each library used own codes (not compatible); authentication software continually crashed; system unavailable; moved to Proxy service; lost credibility during this time
  • Advice: be thorough when testing!
  • Workshop on limitations with software, etc
  • problems with huge expectations from public, etc
  • Decided on remote hosting
  • feasibility: membership willing to share ongoing costs; 13 colleges participated
  • linking determined to not be biggest priority
  • public: federated searching capability
  • can’t adopt monolithic solutions
  • autonomy and diversity of libraries; some software works for everyone but some don’t
  • don’t make assumptions about technology
  • perception of loss of autonomy: must build in opportunities for input, shared decision making (this does risk being slower)
  • must also keep up with new advances, challenges

Content Enhancement

  • TAL coordinates the acquisition and creation of electronic information resources on behalf of member libraries, thereby improving access to quality content
  • lessons costs (ie data bases suites) dramatically
  • benefits academic institutions
  • divided in half: shared costs are 50%, then the other 50% is divided among population service  numbers of institution
  • there was an initial feeling that larger academic institutions needs might not be met by sharing with public system; this had to be tested;-evaluation: concept was a success
  • members asked for views on content
  • increase costs?
  • what happened: TAL offered larger set of materials that benefited all institutions

–negotiation and administration of electronic resources (licensing)

*Subscriptions Alberta universal core

*Online Reference Centre

  • -CNIB partnership
  • Tal coordinates and provides professional development and training opportunities focusing on TAL’s programs and services
  • introduce new technology
  • symposia held
  • ie federated searching; learn about range of products available; solicit recommendations
  • speaker from Google;
  • technology trainer on staff; core competencies decided upon (on website)
  • launched Visual Course builder; training modules—for library staff and users; LIS migration
  • working on remote education access


*TAL provides support to and partnering with libraries and provincial library associations in advocacy for libraries

  • action teams
  • use for leverage
  • latest challenge: implementing Lois Hole campus digital library
  • Electronic and digital resources that will bring content rich collections to post-secondary
  • institutions and their constituents, delivered dynamically using state-of the art technologies to the four corners of
  • government changes: beneficially impacted achieving this goal; committed 30, mil. Dollars over three years
  • Business plan developed over last year
  • program manager immediately hired; new steering committee

Vision of the Lois Hole Digital library

  • Expands the digital resources and services available to Albertans by:-
  • developing a collection of licensed resources
  • identifying and digitizing
    Alberta material and material for Albertans
  • developing technology infrastructures needed to support delivery of and use of resources and services
  • establishing electronic repositories to manage and preserve content
  • developing information literacy programs to assist faculty and library staff to help learners use resources effectively
  • First Nations colleges included; first time it will be happening on large scale
  • detailed implementation plan
  • staff being hired
  • preliminary target for content: September 2006
  • should change be introduced incrementally?
  • this not always possible; staff is doubling; facilities being looked at, business models being examined
  • examples of first hand accounts: how this consortia has helped
  • most academics now aware of the project; and supportive; “you have opened the world for our students”
  • core users: always changing;

Posted in Presentations | Leave a Comment »

Authentication/ Authorization

Posted by odyssey2006 on May 16, 2006

Session presenter: Art Rhyno
Session notes: Geoff Sinclair

Art began by discussing the confusion around the terms authentication and authorization: two words that are often used together, but which have distinct conceptual meanings.

  • Authentication: A system determines who you are…

  • Authorization: …and then gives you access to the resources you are entitled to use.

The users need to access the available content. But not all the content is free, and content providers need to protect their assets. More and more of these assets are exposed through public sites, such as Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search. These needs can be balanced by injecting rights management into arbitrary web spaces.

Several methods of authentication were discussed

  • Password: This is simple, but does no scale well. People tend to share passwords. It’s difficult to manage patron access to databases that are only password-protected.

  • Referer: There can be portability problems here if the vendor doesn’t allow the referer URL to come from a domain, rather than a single URL. This method of access can be easily spoofed, and does not scale well. This is perhaps a more common authentication method in public libraries than in academic libraries. Sometimes, this is the only option for a given database.
  • IP Address: This is common in many libraries, and scales well. However, cracks are beginning to appear in IP address authentication because of network complexity. In IP address authentication, the vendor recognizes the IP range of the library or campus, and allows those connection through to protected resources. But an increasing number of patrons access resources from off-campus locations, so it’s necessary to proxy these connections, so that the vendor sees them as originating from the trusted network. Two types of proxy were discussed:
    • Proxy within the browser: This is cumbersome. Users must change settings within their browser, engendering all the difficulties of multiple browser types, and the user must also remember to change the settings back when accessing publicly accessible sites.

    • Reverse proxy: One example is EZproxy, which is easier for the user, because no settings need to be changed. The library links to protected resources through the reverse proxy. However, links in the HTML are modified to continue to keep the session proxied, and this is getting more difficult because the design of web-based resources is getting more complex, so it’s harder to do these re-writes. Some vendor sites are very problematic, and site changes can break the URL-rewriting algorithms.
  • Attribute: This has not been widely adopted…yet. An attribute is a property of an object, such as a phone number or part of an address of a person, so multiple affiliations can be represented in an attribute-based authorization system.[Note: we’ve now moved away from authentication and into authorization…]

Enter Shibboleth

Shibboleth is a part of the Internet2 Middleware Initiative. It’s not an authentication mechanism per se. It’s a way to share attributes between organizations. Shibboleth is complex!

[At this point, a Shibboleth authorization transaction diagram was reviewed. For those interested, perhaps it would be better to review other documentation on the Web then try to reproduce the specifics here:

There are several advantages and issues to the Shibboleth model over traditional authentication methods:

  • The target (Service Provider) never knows the ID of the user. The user gains access by means of a session handle, given at the origin (usually, the user’s home institution).

  • Once a session handle is established, this may be transferable to many targets.
  • Shibboleth federations are groups of institutions (libraries and vendors) that have established trust and common policies.
  • The Shibboleth software supports standard directory database access protocols (LDAP, X.500?) and MySQL
  • The patron database in most ILS software does not support these protocols, requiring the need for batch exports, metadirectory software, or other kludgey solutions (cue the picture of Frankenstein’s monster)
  • NCIP is a more complex and richer protocol, but not much support has appeared, but library vendors are eying NCIP for patron self-checkout
  • NCIP is meant to accomplish a wide variety of tasks (two installations might have completely unrelated goals), so the standard is heavy.
  • A related protocol, SIP, is used by Horizon, Dynix.
  • Still, a bulk load may be the most expedient solution

Several Ontario Universities are about to embark on a Shibboleth pilot project.

Knowledge Ontario will need provincial libraries to authenticate in order to access consortial resources. Some libraries may not yet have a authentication solution in place [a straw poll of people in the room revealed we all have our own solutions in place, but perhaps there is a bias in the sample…]

The EZproxy lab session that wasn’t

[The session on authentication and authorization was to be a hands-on lab, but because the network at TPL was locked down, we couldn’t install the software to do the lab section.]

Configuration is all. EZproxy can proxy by domain, but it has to know what to proxy. For example, you don’t want it to start proxying Google, using up the bandwidth of your proxy server unnecessarily. On the other hand, when a vendor adds a new server, you might find users breaking out of proxy and being asked for money to view subscribed resources. The EZproxy website has a lot of good information, but it’s not easy to browse, so much of it is hidden. Factiva is problematic. You can configure EZproxy to run on port 80. This will eliminate some technical issues, and your router might already be set to assure higher availability to traffic on port 80. There is a role for EZproxy in Shibboleth.

After session discussion

  • Where have Shibboleth federations been established? A few were mentioned. A list is available on Wikipedia:

  • Some vendors will never implement Shibboleth, so EZproxy will continue to be necessary.
  • We’ve had a pretty good run with EZproxy, but the simple answers will not work in the future.
  • Harvesters can slurp up all the content of a paid resource (WGET). Does Shibboleth improve the protection of Service Providers to this sort of automated downloading?
  • Other libraries have implemented VPN over SSL (Queens,UBC), another mechanism for users to access paid resources off-campus. But what about the problem of the user ending up at Google on a VPN/SSL connection (bandwidth)?
  • EZProxy uses redirects, vendor sites use redirects. Some desktop security programs set a limit on the number of redirects.
  • Unlike bank cards PINs, library users don’t perceive a vested interest in keeping their library passwords secret.
  • Several librarians offered effusive praise for Chris Zagar, the man behind EZproxy. He has recently won the 2006 LITA/Brett Butler Entrepreneurship Award, and we feel that it was well-deserved!

Posted in Presentations | 1 Comment »


Posted by odyssey2006 on May 3, 2006


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