Cloud Computing and Libraries

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Libraries in the Cloud: Starting the Conversation Image Credit:[email protected]/3
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Transcript of Cloud Computing and Libraries

Slide 1

Libraries in the Cloud:Starting the ConversationImage Credit:[email protected]/3081046647/

Cloud Computing is a very broad, and often misunderstood, topic. There are numerous applications of Cloud Computing for personal use and in libraries that many of us already take advantage of. This presentation will give a brief introduction to the idea behind Cloud Computing and offer some examples of ways for libraries to take advantage of its power.

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Image Credit:, what is cloud computing? Well, I like to think of it like a lump of clay, or really play-dough. If you need a small piece to make a cup, or to let a child make a small animal you can just break off a small piece. If you need a larger piece for a bowl or pitcher, then you take that much.

However, like play-dough when youre finished with it, you can put it back on the lump and its still available for the next project.

Cloud computing is essentially computing power available on demand, in whatever size and shape you need for your project.

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Cheap, utility-supplied computing will ultimately change society as profoundly as cheap electricity did.

Nick Carr The Big SwitchNick Carrs book The Big Switch talks about some of the implications that the shift to computing power on demand will have on our lives. He compares it to the shift that occurred when businesses stopped generating their own electricity through individual generators and plugged into the power grid. Carr claims that we have left the real potential of computing untapped because we are wasting resources maintaining separate data centers and duplicating computing power within each of our organizations. A far more efficient use of our technology would be to pool the power and make use of large, centralized data centers to provide computing as a utility as needed.3

Is this just mainframe computing all over again? Not exactly.

With mainframe computing, you sent your job off to a batch scheduler and had to wait until your job came up in the queue. You didnt have control over the type of resources you had access to, or when your job would run.

Cloud computing pools all of the computing resources available and then makes them available on-demand in virtual machine configurations. You can specify that you only need the power of a desktop or that you need the power of an advanced server. These virtual machines behave just the same as if it were on your desk in front of you. Your computations are also on-demand. You dont wait to access the computing power, its available as soon as you need it.

Amazon pioneered this model of computing on-demand when they decided to rent out the excess un-used capacity in their massive data centers. Amazon web services was born and today provides the platform for many companies who could not afford to build their own data centers or the personnel needed to maintain racks of servers. Additionally, small companies whose service begins to gain momentum can quickly scale up their operations by simply purchasing more power from Amazons cloud. This has allowed for countless small startups to develop that might otherwise have died on the vine.

Image Credit: Created by Sam Johnston using OminGroup's OmniGraffle and Inkscape (includes Computer.svg by Sasa Stefanovic)(


The Cloud Computing Manifesto Principles

User centric Philanthropic Openness Transparency Interoperability Representation Discrimination Evolution Balance SecurityImage Credit:[email protected]/491134213/With an eye on the future, many computer scientists and technological visionaries have insisted on the need to establish a set of core principles to govern the development and future of Cloud Computing. Many of these principles closely mirror the dearly held values in the library world including openness, transparency, and freedom of access for all without discrimination.

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Some have felt that the Cloud Computing manifesto did not go far enough in stressing open data standards and interoperability. This led to the further development of the Open Cloud Manifesto. Since it was published, over 175 supporters have signed on, including: AMD, AT&T, Cisco, IBM, VMWare, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, and North Carolina State University.

The open cloud manifesto stresses []:

Choice Rather than locking an organization into a proprietary data format or application, time and energy should remain available for innovation rather than difficult data migrations.

Flexibility Individuals and organizations should find it easy to collaborate, despite the differences in their platform.

Speed and Agility Because the computing power is available on demand, resource usage can be scaled up as needed. This allows for much more rapid changes in response to changing environments or user needs.

Skills- The manifesto claims, With an open cloud, there will be a smaller set of new technologies to learn (especially when existing technologies are utilized), greatly enhancing the chances that the organization can find someone with the necessary skills for their needs.6

The age of silos is over.Image Credit:[email protected]/183360432/What does this mean for libraries? The age of silos is over.

We are not only moving to open data standards that will allow much easier integration between our separate knowledge systems, we are moving to remotely-hosted, rapidly deployed and configurable platforms that will allow us to both integrate data from a wider range of sources than we have previously been able to offer (call it Federated Search 2.0 if you will) but we will have more access through APIs to create the tools that best meet the needs of our users.

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OCLC views these new services as increasing the value of the subscriptions it offers to its members. It eliminates many of the redundancies inherent in the current patterns of library automation and allows libraries to take advantage of Web-scale efficiencies. Marshall Breeding

Image Credit:[email protected]/430328206/Which leaves us asking about the new OCLC web scale services proposal. Is this just about economies of scale? Does it make sense to stop hosting racks of servers and to have OCLC handle the hardware and operating systems while library staff resources go into producing highly-configurable end products for our users? How deeply will copy cataloging and other technical services workflows be affected by moving this information to the web?

What will OCLCs new Web-Scale Management Services provide?

Cataloging and Authority ControlWorldcat LocalWorldcat Local Quick StartInventory ControlCirculationLicense ManagementAcquisitionsReporting/Business Intelligence

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Image Credit:[email protected]/2232724570/No doubt youve heard about the uproar caused by OCLCs attempted change in record use policy. While these proposed changes have been tabled, they certainly have a bearing on this discussion.

Andrew Pace and Roy Tennant gave a presentation on Cloud Computing and web-scale services at Computers in Libraries 2009, and many audience reactions and conversations since have resembled something like this images people are uncertain as to what this means but some are pretty sure it means OCLC is going to eat our libraries.

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Visits to libraries, focus groups, and over a decade of engagement in the library automation world have convinced me that libraries require less complexity in their management systemsOCLCs Andrew Pace says that the target for WorldCat Local is somebody who wants a different front end, a different discovery interface for their ILS that doesnt require that they do anything different about their ILS. WorldCat Local Quick Start is about going from the discovery interface to the rest of what you do with the back-office activity.

Libraries are running all these disparate systems and disparate workflows. The idea of WorldCat Local Quick Start is to combine these things into a platform service built on top of WorldCat, which would then allow libraries to focus on less commoditized areas of library workflows. Quick Start is completely web and browser-based and is intended to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership through the efficiencies of a unified management platform for all types of materials, regardless of the method of acquisition for those materials.

Think of Facebook. If everybody downloaded their own Facebook and then had to figure out some way to actually network with each other, it wouldnt be very successful.10Libraries spend a great deal of time on repetitive tasks, such as cataloging best-sellers, while ignoring the most valuable aspects of their collections: the archives, the rare items, the unique collections.

Libraries must "transfer effort into higher value activity" and embrace the web as the primary technology infrastructure.Report of The Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control

The idea isnt exactly new and its hinted at in the Report of The Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control [].

The group warned that Libraries narrow focus is no longer suitable in an environment wherein data from diverse sources are used to create new and interesting information views. Library data must be usable outside of the catalog, and the catalog must be able to ingest or interact with records from sources outside of the library cataloging workflow.

But moving our library workflows into the Cloud is not without problems. While Google has found value in making data openly available and providing the platform for applications to be built on, its not clear that OCLC will make that choice. OCLC is an organization comprising member libraries who pay OCLC for services and data. They have been strongly criticized for not making bibliographic data freely available to anyone. It will be interesting to see how OCLC strikes a balance between protecting members interests and enabling the free flow of information.


libraries in the cloud other ways can libraries use cloud computing?

The following slides are intended to give you food for thought.

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library management in the cloud

This is a sampling of vendors that have hosted integrated library systems available to libraries. There is no need for the libraries to maintain hardware or expertise in server operating systems in that case. The slightly different one here, of course, is OCLC, whose web-scale management services are not yet available as of early July 2009.

Discussion starting points:How could OCLCs coming web-based integrated library system affect resource-sharing networks among libraries?What problems and solutions do hosted ILSes provide to libraries?How will the global scope of OCLCs ILS affect the traditional model of library-hosted, vendor-supplied ILS?13 in the clouddiscovery

Some hosted next-generation library catalogs retain a local scopethey search only a single librarys holdings. An emerging set of products (Serials Solutions Summon, EBSCOs Discovery Service, and OCLCs WorldCat Local) enable libraries to add article and other indexing, bringing together electronic journals, aggregated databases, and library holdings. Libraries participate in the Library Links program to connect Google Scholar with the librarys openURL Link resolver (e.g., SFX), making library resources easily accessible through the popular search engine.

Discussion starting points:What are the benefits to users of searching for journal articles and library catalog holdings simultaneously? What problems can this cause?Does a certain type of library stand to benefit from the single-search approach more than other library types?What is the potential effect of the single-search approach on aggregated abstracting and indexing database platforms like EBSCOHost and ProQuest?What will happen to library automation vendors who cannot throw their hat into this ring?

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There are countless free cloud-based tools that can help libraries work smarter, connect with users, and establish community in a digital space. The next few slides serve as suggestions for the Social Software Showcase discussion. How can your library use these tools? Can you use any of these tools in your daily work? To connect with patrons? To create an online community? Share your success stories and your brainstorms.15

collaborate. create. is a few of the products that enable libraries to share notes, create websites, documents and spreadsheets that live in the cloud and can be shared among all staff.

Discussion starting points:How can various library departments use these tools internally?How can libraries engage patrons with these tools?What are the implications for long-term preservation and access to content in the cloud?16

sync. share.

Collaborate and share files with colleagues across the country by using or Dropbox. Libraries can collect and tag websites using delicious bookmarks and can collate all its web activity using Friendfeed. How could libraries use online storage services? Do possibilities exist for Interlibrary loan, document delivery, reference?

Discussion starting points:How can online storage services be paired with desktop-based programs to enable data backup or sharing? (think collaborative presentations, document writing, taking your Firefox extensions with you wherever you go).How could a library use a single RSS feed that collates all its online activity via frienfeed?How can these tools benefit on-site or remote attendees at conferences?

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post. publish.

Most people are familiar with blogs, and many libraries have flickr streams with which they share photos with their communities. Libraries can publish community and internal documents with Scribd; create library histories or records of events with books from Blurb or Lulu. How else could libraries use these sites to share content with the world?

Discussion starting points:How could libraries enable users to create and publish their own content using these tools? Would libraries collect that content?Are there long-term preservation and access or risk-management concerns with posting content to third-party sites?Employees have been fired for writing blog posts unfavorable to employers or customers; how can library administrators encourage responsible use of these tools by their employees?Libraries have traditionally protected users private information fiercely. Does a librarys use of these tools have privacy implications? What are our responsibilities to users to education them on privacy concerns with regard to cloud tools?

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connect. converse.Instant messaging is possible via the web, on a computer, or on a mobile phone. It has been widely used in libraries for virtual reference. Does your library make organized use of instant messaging for internal communication?

Discussion starting points:How can academic libraries make effective use of Facebook? Twitter? How can these conversations improve library services? create community?Libraries widely put chat widgets on their web pages, but widgets are rarely found in online catalogs. How can libraries advocate the use of these technologies in our purchased products (OPACs, databases, journal collections)

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listen. learn.This is an example of a web form that feeds a Google Spreadsheet. Web forms can be used for usability testing, book requests, online suggestion boxes, user surveys, statistics collection and more.

Discussion starting points:How else can web forms that populate Google spreadsheets be used in libraries?What other cloud tools can be used to solicit feedback from users? (surveys, polls, etc.)How could academic libraries make use of web forms in library instruction? in support of distance education?Are there confidentiality or privacy concerns with using cloud tools to collect contact or other information?


anywhere. anytime.

Cloud computing is not only available on computers via the web but on any Internet-connected device, like the iPhone, iPod Touch, smartphones like the Blackberry or the Palm Pre, the Chumby and the wifi-enabled, RFID-reading rabbit, the Nabaztag. More and more content available via the web is being made available on other devices: its possible to listen to MP3s on a cell phone; read Amazon Kindle books on the iPhone or iPod touch; talk over the Internet using Skype; ask and answer reference questions via SMS (TXT messaging). How is your library meeting the needs of patrons who access the cloud on their mobile devices?

Discussion starting points:The DC Public library was the first to create a library catalog application for the iPhone. What other applications could be created that would bring library resources to this platform?How could a Nabaztag be used in a library?How can Netbooks (very small laptops) be used to support reference activities? library instruction? other library functions?What is the benefit of equipping library staff with smart phones?The Amazon Kindle and other ebook readers seem like good candidates for library usewhat are their inherent difficulties? How do Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies inhibit or enhance their use?

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