- More Technology for the Rest of Us: A Second Primer on Computing for the Non-IT Librarian
Nancy D. Courtney has put together a supremely practical book that gives just enough about the latest library technologies to make you dangerous . . . and that's a good thing. If you have ever lacked the confidence to chime in on a discussion related to library technology, fear no more. This book will provide the necessary background to get you in on the conversation. It is topical and well thought out. This volume is a follow-up to Technology for the Rest of Us: A Primer on Computer Technologies for the Low-Tech Librarian published in 2005. The subtle change in the title from 2005 to 2010 is telling. Librarians in 2010 do not really have the option to remain low-tech. Those that do will be left out. So while IT or systems librarians must know library technologies inside and out, the "rest of us" non-IT librarians must be at least competent in a wide range of these technologies. [End Page 94]
The layout appears to follow a format that has worked for similar books edited by Nancy Courtney and published by Libraries Unlimited. The book is divided into 11 chapters that average 10 to 15 pages in length. Each chapter contains notes, references, additional readings, and selected web examples where appropriate. In this sense, the individual chapters work nicely as standalone quick reference resources on the topics they cover. The index is thin, even for a book that is only 172 pages, but the glossary is good and useful. The book ends with an informative set of author biographies.
Chapter 1 is a highlight of the book and sets the tone for what is to follow. Jason A. Clark provides enough background information to get going and then jumps quickly into fun, interesting examples of web services for the reader to follow and participate in. If you have never taken the time to understand what an Application Programming Interface (API) is, this chapter provides a great opportunity to start working with it first hand. It contains easy-to-follow demonstrations of working with APIs to make your own mash-ups from sites like the New York Times and Google BookSearch APIs, among others. Read the chapter and work through the examples; they are fantastic.
The concept of web services is important for many of us who are not involved directly in our library websites. As a technical services librarian, I have always felt removed from the library website and focused instead on the public interface to our integrated library system (ILS) and open URL resolver. After reading the chapter on web services, my view of these distinct systems has changed and I definitely see more possibilities for combining our own in-house data sources with other third-party web services to provide our users with a much richer experience via the library website.
The second chapter on data preservation and curation stands in stark contrast to the first. While chapter 1 was practical and the examples can be worked on by the reader, chapter 2 is more about standards, policies, and strategies for preservation. The chapter begins appropriately with a brief description of the Open Archives Information System (OAIS) framework. This is followed with a scenario of a TIFF image file that is deposited to a repository and its possible manifestations as a submission information package, archival information package, and dissemination information package. The example is a nice yet simple way to give some life to the OAIS reference model. Author H. Frank Cervone also makes [End Page 95] the distinction between data preservation and digital curation (with data preservation being a subset of the digital curation life cycle). The software section provides a succinct overview of the most prevalent commercial and open source options and is followed by a useful set of guidelines for data stewardship.