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NFAIS Workshop — Digital Information and User Behavior: Transforming Libraries, Content, and Learning

The National Federation of Advanced Information Services (NFAIS) has just announced a one day workshop, Digital Information and User Behavior: Transforming Libraries, Content, and Learning.

The emergence of e-content, search engines and the Web more than twenty years ago has shaped a new generation of information seekers. How they access, read, and use information is fundamentally different from the behavior created by the print medium. This new behavior is transforming library infrastructures and services, is driving the conversion of books and textbooks into innovative tools for education, and is changing how traditional reference information is accessed and delivered.

How has information behavior changed in academia? What new library infrastructures are being tested? Is a totally virtual library on the horizon? Are library collections changing and if so, how should the return on library investment being measured? Is the use of e-books and e-textbooks increasing significantly? How is the use of all this digital material changing the educational experience? And how are traditional reference works being delivered to meet the needs of today’s academic libraries and the users that they serve? This workshop will attempt to answer these questions and more as we take a look at the ongoing impact of digital information usage behavior on those who serve the information seeker.

The one day workshop will be held June 15, 2012 in Philadelphia. Virtual attendance is possible.

The Agenda includes:

  • Digital information and the Evolution of the Library
  • Measuring the ROI of Today’s Libraries
  • Trends in Global e-Book Consumption
  • Digital Reference Tools, e-Textbooks, and the Transformation of Learning
  • Digital Information Usage Trends

Session details and registration information are available from NFAIS as a downloadable PDF: program and registration forms.

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Al Stevens talks Cloud Computing at the NFAIS Annual Conference

NFAIS 54th Annual Conference - Born of DisruptionAl’s experience includes running a web-based service providing 24/7 access to an online data base for thousands of users around the world. He led the effort to move that service from a set of dedicated servers in a managed hosting center to a 100% cloud-based system.

His talk will cover the motivations for considering the cloud, how a cloud-hosting service was selected, how the implementation was managed, the impacts it had on the organization and the lessons learned from moving into the cloud. Based on his real experience of making this move, he will provide advice for others who are considering or evaluating the use of cloud-computing in their organizations.


From February 26 to February 28, 2012  at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia.

Born of Disruption: An Emerging New Normal for the Information Landscape

The emergence of e-journals, search engines, and the Web triggered the disruption of the information landscape more than twenty years ago. Accelerated by the continual introduction of new technologies, the perpetual reshaping of digital content, and the coming of age of Digital Natives, disruption is gradually transforming the entire industry as technologies mature, converge, and become mainstream. Today, the melding of broadband connectivity, mobile devices and apps, cloud computing, analytic tools, and social media has created a platform-rich information environment that can be leveraged to enhance and enrich the information discovery process. This new information environment is driving publishers and librarians around the globe to reinvent their methods of information creation, packaging, and delivery while building the requisite organizational infrastructures.

Download Program  Register Online

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NFAIS Email Marketing Webinars

We recently attended two webinars on email marketing that we found outstanding. Run by the National Federation of Advanced Information Services (NFAIS) the sessions were hosted by Mitch Lapides, President, of FulcrumTech. The first covered ways to improve results and return-on-investment with the second following up with a deeper dive into improving open, click-through and conversion rates.

With tens, sometimes hundreds of daily email messages landing in each recipient’s inbox, it’s getting much more difficult to stand out. The two webinars were about standing out in a positive way. Mitch built on a few themes: build high quality lists, segment them, be as personal as possible, keep each mailing to a single point, use a landing page, and test everything. He offered five secrets: measure everything, build a powerful list, drive up the open rate, drive up the click-through rate, and implement test plans. Each of these was backed up with tips and techniques to determine where an email program is effective and where it needs to be improved.

The first two webinars are over, but there is one more upcoming, focused on social media. Registration is still open: Building your social media plan. There’s also a comprehensive set of email newsletter resources available on the FulcrumTech website.

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Conference Buzz: Re-inventing Content, Discovery, and Delivery for Today’s Academic Environment

Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog.

NFAIS 2011

Expectations of today’s academic information users have changed as technology has advanced and new technologies have appeared, so many information providers have re-invented their content accordingly. The processes of accessing and delivering information are considerably different than they were even a few years ago. This NFAIS symposium on May 25, 2011 in Philadelphia, PA examined some of the trends and issues that content providers have faced and the changes they have made to their products to accommodate today’s digital and multimedia technologies. The symposium had sessions on re-inventing content from traditional sources, effects of eBooks and eTextbooks on the learning process, and discovery and delivery platforms. It closed with a fascinating systems analysis look at book publishing.

Integration of Video

One of today’s major trends is the integration of video into all types of content. With the appearance of video hosting sites like YouTube, students have come to expect video content to play a prominent part in their education. In response to this demand, Alexander Street Press (ASP) modified its business strategy in order to concentrate on video-enhanced products. Stephen Rhind-Tutt, president of ASP, reported that the company has translated over 20,000 CD-ROMs into streaming media and has also developed a system to transcribe video into text and synchronize the text with the video images, thus allowing users to quickly and easily scan through the text and view only the portions of the video of interest to them. Other examples of video initiatives by publishers include the American Chemical Society, which developed a very successful video course, “Publishing Your Research 101” that was viewed over 24,000 times in one week and Pearson, a leading educational publisher, which is adding video and podcasts to its eBook products.

Re-Invention of Content From Traditional Sources

The Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals (RIPM) is one of the few content providers dealing with very old content—in this case, music periodicals from the 1800s up to about 1950. Because of the age of the source material, RIPM has several unique problems not generally faced by today’s information companies, such as the poor condition of the pages, handwritten notes on them, etc. RIPM has overcome these problems, producing a database of over 1.2 million pages that has become a major tool for teaching music. The user interface offers several advanced features, such as spelling suggestions, and even the ability to reconfigure one’s keyboard to accommodate non-Roman character sets.

Search vs. Discovery

Search, long a feature of information systems, has several well-known problems, as Bruce Kiesel, Director of Knowledge Base Management at Thomson Reuters, pointed out. It works best when you know what you are looking for, but it only retrieves documents. It cannot find answers to questions, knowledge, new information, or information spread across multiple documents. Discovery systems are making content increasingly intelligent, and they allow users to find unknown information by serendipity, create document maps, and find entities, concepts, relationships, or opinions. Semantic content enrichment can annotate knowledge, link to similar documents, and use metadata as a springboard to other documents, thus enabling information visualization and more proactive delivery. Thomson has greatly enhanced some of its databases using these techniques.

Re-inventing the Learning Experience

A new generation of electronic book products is changing the learning experience. It is no longer sufficient to simply repurpose printed books into a series of PDF documents. Pearson is using Flash technology in its eBooks, and Wiley has redesigned its WileyPlus product, organizing it by time instead of subject so that students can easily determine where they are in a course and can budget their time effectively. It also includes an “early warning system” that uses time and learning objectives to help students find their weak areas and study more effectively. M&C Life Sciences has overcome some of the well known problems of publication delays by selling its content as 50 to 100 page eBooks that include animations and video. Because of their small size and rapid publication schedules, these eBooks can be updated quickly and easily as necessary.

What is a Book?

Eric Hellman, founder of Gluejar, closed the day with a fascinating look at the future of book publishing from a systems analysis viewpoint, examining questions such as:

  • Is the future of publishing related to paper and ink, or bits?
  • Will we be working with documents or objects (like software)?
  • What are the objects in our environment and what are the relationships between them?
  • What will users do with the objects?

Systems analysis involves objects and the actions taken on them. In the publishing world, objects are textual data, articles, or photos, and the actions are navigation, sharing, and searching. Hellman compared a newspaper website such as the New York Times and a general news website such as CNN. The analysis shows that both sites have similar objects and actions (with the exception that CNN emphasizes videos), so they are very much alike. In contrast, single articles and videos are not as similar. An article has text, metadata, photos, and some context and can stand on its own; actions on it include searching and scanning through it. A video is usually focused on a single object with only some context; actions on it include play, pause, change the volume, etc. Applying this analysis to eBooks, Hellman suggested that an eBook is more like a video than an article, although some of them work well as websites. He went on to assert that selling objects has many advantages; the best model is to aggregate them and sell subscriptions because is a good fit with existing book businesses.

More details on this useful and interesting symposium are available on The Conference Circuit blog, and presenters’ slides have been posted on the NFAIS website.

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Conference Buzz: NFAIS 2011 — Taming the Information Tsunami

Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog.

NFAISThe 53rd annual conference of the National Federation of Advanced Information Services (NFAIS) was held in Philadelphia on February 28 — March 1. Its theme was “Taming the Information Tsunami: The New World of Discovery.” Here are a few brief highlights of the conference:

In his address, “The Crowd, the Cloud, and the Exaflood: The Future of Collaboration”, Michael Nelson, Visiting Professor, Internet Studies, Georgetown University said that content used to be king, but now the king is connection. He gave us 12 “words that work” in today’s highly connected environment: vision, cloud, game changer, many-to-many, things, exaflood, collaboration, consumerization, people, emotion, predictions, and policy.

Rafael Sidi, an Elsevier Vice President, said that we should not look at our products, but at our platforms. Customers are leveraging social networking platforms; Twitter has changed us. The new “gold rush” area is applications because people are solving problems with them. Openness will lead to creating new things and bring collaboration.

John Blossom, author of Content Nation, said that we must learn to swim naturally in an ocean of content. As long as a system works, many users will not care about the platform. We are now in the era of the “second Web”, and no longer go to data; the data is all around us.

A major event of the conference was the presentation of the Miles Conrad Lecture by Professor Ben Shneiderman, Founding Director of the Human-Computer Instruction Laboratory at the University of Maryland. His lecture was the first one in the series to focus on social media, and echoing other speakers, he said that we have shifted from content to community. Social discovery has become a new media lifestyle, and a significant part of it revolves around apps. He also mentioned the issue of privacy in healthcare, and noted that the PatientsLikeMe service has an openness policy. Users are encouraged to share their experiences and learn from those of others. The site has become widely used and has over 50,000 registered users. Shneiderman was also instrumental in the development of NodeXL, which is a template for Excel that facilitates the display and analysis of social network graphs. The graphs can be clustered to display communities and the connections between them, which increases the understanding of the social media world.

Many of the speakers’ presentations are available on the NFAIS Web site.

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