“Altmetrics: A manifesto,” published five years ago this month, described an academic publishing landscape in which the volume of literature was exploding, and the three traditional filters used to help researchers gauge the relative importance of individual papers in their fields—peer review, citation counting, and a journal’s average citations per article—were failing to keep up. Scholars were moving their work onto the web, and alternative, article-level metrics drawn from online reference managers Zotero and Mendeley, scholarly social bookmarking services such as CiteULike, or even page-views of blogs and “likes” or comments on mainstream social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter could be used to track the impact of new research in real time, wrote Impactstory cofounder Jason Priem; Wikimedia Foundation head of research Dario Taraborelli; Paul Groth, then-researcher VU University Amsterdam; and Cameron Neylon, then–senior scientist at the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Could these new metrics be just as relevant as peer review and citations when judging the impact and influence of new research?
Welcome to the latest round of the New Landmark Libraries (NLL). It’s been four years since the NLL project launched, first identifying 20 public libraries and the following year seven academic libraries from nationwide to help inform and inspire those facing the opportunity of renovating or building a new library. This year, LJ returns to the public library arena to pinpoint the most exciting public libraries completed since that initial foray. We received more than 80 submissions from across the United States and Canada. The exceptional quality of these submissions, from every region, showcases the evolving strength of public libraries today.
The Impact Survey was first used in 2009 to help gather data for the Opportunity for All study reports, conducted by the University of Washington’s iSchool with assistance from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Libraries were enlisted to connect to a web survey, the results of which were used to augment responses gathered through a telephone-based poll. To our surprise and delight, we gathered more than 45,000 survey responses in just ten weeks, with about 400 libraries participating. Even more delightful was finding that libraries were using the data from Opportunity for All as well as the reports of Impact Survey results from their own communities.
LJ’s Design Institute: San Diego was held on Friday, May 8, at San Diego’s recently constructed Central Library. The award-winning space (see “The New Placemakers,” p. 14) was an inspiring setting for librarians from across the United States to gather and rethink what it means to build a library that will last in a time of rapid technological transition.
In this age of outcomes measurement, many academic librarians are focused—and rightly so—on making sure they best serve students. Yet students are not the only population of end users on an academic campus. Faculty, too, are conduits not only to students but to library users in their own right. As well, studies of faculty attitudes such as Ithaka’s often show that, even as faculty increasingly depend on library-brokered online access to expensive databases and electronic journals, the off-site availability of modern resources may leave many faculty members less aware of the crucial role of the library in their and their students’ workflow.
At the start of 2014, Eric Soriano found inspiration in several of his friends’ New Year’s resolutions to learn a new language. Soriano, an e-services librarian with the Jacksonville Public Library (JPL), FL, recognized an opportunity to spread the word about JPL’s subscription to the online language-learning resource Transparent. A year later, JPL received the Urban Libraries Council’s Top Innovator Award for Customer Experience for the system’s new language-learning programs, which use Transparent as the backbone of a class curriculum.
Even at large libraries that have staff dedicated to digitization projects, the additional effort needed to enable researchers to extract data from these collections—such as transcribing OCR-resistant text, or adding item-level tags to large collections of images—would be an untenable chore for a library to take on alone. So, in the past half decade, libraries have taken cues from long-running projects, using crowdsourcing as a way not only to outsource work that would be impossible for staff to attempt but also to engage volunteers.
On June 11, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in collaboration with the Congressional Maker Caucus, Maker Media, and Nation of Makers, hosted its first Capitol Hill Maker Faire, featuring a series of panel discussions and an expo open to the public, including members of Congress. Held in conjunction with this year’s National Maker Faire at the University of District of Columbia and the White House National Week of Making, June 12–18, these events indicate the growing interest in our nation’s capital in the Maker movement and its potential implications for education, workforce development, and community building.
The Ferguson Municipal Public Library (FMPL), MO, became a model for all libraries in the way it reacted to the crisis and the aftermath of riots brought on by the shooting of Michael Brown, a young African American man, by local police. FMPL was the one agency in town that stayed open to serve and support all the people of Ferguson. The library quickly became a safe haven and expressed a peaceful resolve, becoming a critical community anchor.