Subscribe to feed

Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Collaboration 2.0 by Robin HastingsThe Library Technology Reports series has a soft place in my heart–it has been my own personal “Library Technology for Dummies Everyone.” From my first introduction to basic Web 2.0 concepts, to technology competencies for libraries, to the emerging trends in catalogs, this series has provided me with the understanding necessary to explore the potential of these technologies and how they should be implemented. Even better, as my technological experience has grown, I’ve continued to find interesting and valuable tips in every report.

Robin Hastings has joined the long list of illustrious writers for this series with her report Collaboration 2.0. She is the Information Technology Manager for the Missouri River Regional Library in Jefferson City, Missouri, and she has a long list of presentations and publications that further validate her expertise in the realms of cloud computing for libraries. In this report, Hastings walks readers through the basics of online collaboration and cloud computing, followed by a description of the Library Society of the World, to show an example of cloud computing in action. Next, she provides explanations of the different styles of technology-aided collaboration, as well as a host of Web 2.0 tools that can be used to foster collaboration. Last, examples of groupware (collaborative software suites), examples of collaborations, and further resources are given.

Well, after first having my email client send the message to my junkmail (?!?), I got Elsevier’s response and solution:

Hi Cliff:

Someone on my team brought your email to my attention. I want to first
apologize for the confusion over access to this title. American Journal
of Obstetrics & Gynecology is a title which is unique for Elsevier in
that we provide the full-text only online, while the print edition
refers readers to the online version to read the full-text.

This has caused some confusion as the online version, as one of the
online support representatives advised, is accessible by username and
password only. I understand this is not ideal for institutions and most
institutional customers would prefer access via IP range.

While we are working on a solution to this problem, we’re not quite
ready to publicly launch the final version of the American Journal of
Obstetrics & Gynecology website which will be IP range enabled. That
said, as your users urgently need access, I would like to make available
to you and your users access to the new site ahead of the public.

If you let me know the IP range that you would like enabled, I will have
one of my colleagues set up access and contact you with the details.

I hope you find this an acceptable solution and I look forward to
hearing from you.

Regards,

And my response:

I’ll take the IP access to AJOG (it’s the least I can do after complaining publicly). Our range is: [snip]

Let me know when it’s up and I’ll test it to make sure it’s working. I look forward to the day when all libraries’ users can have that kind of easy access. But for now, thank you for your patience and hard work on this!

For a moment I thought of politely declining IP access as an act of solidarity with those folks/institutions who don’t have it, but that would be hurting my users and helping no one. So there you go. Score one for my library’s users. They probably will never know that this went on and couldn’t care less–but hey, us librarians are just supposed to make resources easy to use, right?

And yes, I’d like to thank Elsevier for doing this. They’re making an exception to help my users, and they’re also working on a more wide-spread solution. Hopefully all of us (vendors, users, and librarians) will continue to find and fix problems to make our users’ experiences easier.

Last Friday, hours after I posted my review of Elsevier’s user services, I got a call while I was at Lowe’s picking up some mulch.  A coworker had received a call on the Ref. Desk from an Elsevier person looking for me.  She passed me his number and I called him back.   Apparently someone at Elsevier keeps an eye on the blogosphere.

Now I do have to say that both times that I spoke to someone at Elsevier I had very pleasent customer service experiences (and anyone who knows me, knows how I rave if I get a good customer service experience).  The folks that I talked to were prompt, polite, and were as helpful as they could manage (which wasn’t much, due to the agreement between the publisher and the vendor).  I am pleased with their customer service, it’s just that my users can’t easily use the product that they are paying for.  Which is bad.

Here’s my take on things.  We pay over $600 for an institutional subscription to AJOG, which includes print and online access for that title.  Somewhere between the publisher and Elseveier, someone made a decision that this title should be available by username & password only, and not by IP range.  Which means that my library’s users have to jump through several more hoops (some of them aflame, it seems) just to get online access to a journal that they are paying for.  This is bad.

Here are my options:

  • I can rant about this (done!), and maybe Elsevier would even bend the rules just for my institution (because I’m a loud mouth).  Those are high hopes in the contract-driven, litigious e-resource world we live in.  But that wouldn’t change things for other institutions who have the same type of subscription, and whose users have to jump through the same stupid hoops just to get access.
  • I can ask Elsevier to work closely with the publisher, libraries, and Elsevier’s customers (library users, not librarians!) to figure out the easiest way for users to get access to online content (done!).
  • I can spend anywhere from minutes to hours trying to create a work-around that would give my users the username and password.  Hopefully before they get to the login screen.  If they notice it.  If they write it down.  If they don’t think they they have to pay for the article.  If they don’t get so frustrated that they give up and move on.  Maybe they’ll need help?  Too bad, no way to put that in there… (not done, yet).

Needless to say, I think that all vendors should take a close look at how their users get access to the resources that they are paying for.  Is it easy?  Is it quick?  Is it clear?  Does it take twelve steps just to get to the full-text?  Look I’m not asking for a price cut, I just want my users to get what they’re paying for.

Please.  Think of the users.

Greetings,

I am writing this email to complain about the horrible user services that are provided by Elsevier.

This morning I was trying to confirm full-text access to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology for my library’s users.  When I contacted customer support, I was told that access is only provided via a username and password (and not by IP ranges).

This means that when users at my library access AJOG via our full-text index or the publisher’s website, they are confronted with a request for a username and password.  I have no way to provide the user with that information from the time they begin their research to the time they get to the username/password prompt.  So not only are they not given the username and password, they are also not informed of the correct person to contact at our library to get this information, and in fact will most likely give up their research at this point.

This is a shameful display of disregard for your own customers–the library’s users.  You are making it difficult for your customers to access the very resources you provide.  I strongly suggest working collaboratively with libraries and other vendors to provide your customers (again, the library’s users, not the libraries or librarians!) with the best experience possible, including quick and easy access to resources.

I expect a swift reply, and hopefully, a user-centered solution in the very near future.

Thanks,

Cliff

Chas Clifton is one of the premier scholars of Wicca and Paganism in the US, so when I heard about this book, I was truly excited.  Clifton’s work is a complimentary volume to Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon, an exploration of Wicca and Paganism in the UK.  By exploring historical, textual, oral and literary resources, Clifton paints a picture of Wicca’s development and transformation as it traveled from the UK to the US, and then around the world.

At the same time Clifton explores Wicca’s transformation from a small mystery/magical religion into “nature religion.”  He does this by outlining three types of “nature”:  Cosmic, Gaian, and Erotic.  By making the cycles of nature, the planet, and our bodies holy, the religion of Witchcraft was transformed.   The author goes on to explore the growth, change, and popularization of religious Witchcraft throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. Additionally, he briefly covers the history of the Church of Aphrodite, Feraferia, the Church of All Worlds, the Psychedelic Venus Church and Druidism in the US.

In some places, the author repeats facts (which made me wonder in if I had lost my place), but this is done to aid in clarity; the history of Wicca and Paganism in the US is as sprawling a topic as the religions themselves.  The author is forced to cross-reference himself in all directions to paint a larger picture, a challenge which he handles well.  For those already familiar with the topic, new analysis of historical figures and themes will enlighten and deepen your understanding of this history.  For those new to the topic, the book’s glossary will prove invaluable; understanding will be further aided by copies of the texts Clifton cites in the glossary (such as Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon and Bonewits’ Real Magic) for further context.

Clifton’s brilliant analysis of the words “Wicca” and “Witch” are worth the price of the volume alone.  Her Hidden Children will be required reading for my students.