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Charleston Conference: following industry trends.


The 2011 Charleston Conference set a record this year with about 1,450 attendees who were interested in learning about the latest trends in information technology for information professionals of all capacities. Here are just a few of the highlights:

* Michael Keller's keynote speech addressed the problem of information silos and how to make it easier for users to find information. One solution is relying on linked data (identifying entities embedded in the knowledge resources, tying them together with named connections, and publishing the relationships as links on the web).

* With the increasing availability of large data sets, handling data has become a significant problem. The concept of the data paper (a formal publication with the primary purpose of exposing and describing data, as opposed to analyzing it and drawing conclusions from it) will help researchers share their data and make it more accessible. An added benefit is that such a paper can help researchers comply with the requirements from granting organizations mandating that every application include a data management plan.

* Digital repositories continue to be important, but the variation in their uses and the types of materials continues to pose concerns. Repositories are no longer only about open access (OA); they have become a valuable part of a larger system that includes publishers and societies. Finding ways to motivate researchers to contribute their work is another major issue.

* In keeping with a conference related to libraries, there were plenty of discussions about ebooks. In an academic library's collection, a few high-use titles tend to dominate the usage statistics, and a large number fall into the long tail. One option is to create a platform that allows ebooks and other materials, including journals, to be searched together.

* The final plenary session on new directions in open research tackled the problems in today's scholarly communications. These problems are not economic, but instead, they include scale, access, speed, and communication. In the past 12-18 months, seven platforms facilitating open research have emerged; many are open source and feature an API for sharing.

* The report on the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) provided a status update and summarized the operational plans for guidance. At the launch, the DPLA will be a distributed system of basic materials and will collaborate with a similar initiative in Europe. Whenever possible, free and open source code will be used.

* In a session titled The Long Arm of the Law, a panel reviewed current legal and copyright issues in the information industry. For example, the fair use doctrine is widely used as a justification for copying, but it isn't well-known that significant limitations on copying exist according to current law. "First sale" limitations do not apply to works produced outside the U.S., and an important consideration is whether the planned use of the material will be transformative.

* Fallout and negotiations from the Google Books settlement continue. The settlement was recently rejected by the court because it created rights for Google that could reduce the ability of current and future competitors to enter the market.

* While discovery systems have become prominent, they are not a panacea. Students need to undergo extensive training to search and do research, according to one university professor. Despite detailed instructions and demonstrations of Serials Solutions' Summon system, many students had significant problems locating a known article and finding other related articles. Discovery systems conceal the variety of options in conducting research and move novice searchers away from the context of many underlying resources. Not all tools that the current generation of students uses require specialized instruction. But without it, even smart students will struggle to use some seemingly intuitive tools.

* The closing plenary session, titled The Status Quo Has Got to Go, by Brad Eden, dean of library services at Valparaiso University, offered a stirring challenge to academic librarians. He listed some of the current problems: the disengagement of states from funding higher education, dramatic changes in information dissemination as a result of the Google Books settlement, the rise of social media, and space and people issues. He challenged the audience to embrace social media and talk the way our users talk.

The 2012 Charleston Conference will be held Nov. 7-10.

Donald T. Hawkins is an information technology and database consultant at Information Today, Inc. His email address is, and his blog is The Conference Circuit. Send your comments about this article to
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Title Annotation:report from the field
Author:Hawkins, Donald T.
Publication:Information Today
Article Type:Conference news
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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