RLG Tools Form (May 8th, Boston Public Library)

By reeset / On / In Uncategorized

So, as folks might have gathered from a few of my posts over the last week, I had a few engagements that have keep me on the east coast over the past week.  One of the events that I had attended during the week was the RLG Tools forum at the Boston Public Library.  This event is the first (of hopefully what will become a reoccurring) event put on by RLG to help promote and inform RLG members of tools being developed within the library community that deal with specific facets of creating, managing and preserving objects within a library.  For this first tools forum, RLG focused on tools primarily developed to facilitate the metadata creation and maintenance process.  For that reason, I was invited to present MarcEdit…but I’ll get to that shortly.

So how was the trip.  Good.  I actually like Boston, and even though I didn’t get a whole lot of time to visit the city (simply because I was busy), I did find ways to get out and sample multiple varieties of my favorite soups, creaming Boston Clam Chowder and a creamy Lobster bisque.  It’s likely a good thing that I don’t live in a city were these types of creamy delights are always available — because I’d likely find a way to have them about everyday (which can’t be healthy).  But I’m getting ahead of myself a little.

For this trip, because I was traveling to multiple cities and multiple airports before my trip was done, I decided to buy a lot of one way tickets (partly because it worked out to be cheaper).  And because of that, I got to try out the airport in Salem, Oregon.  Salem, which had a municipal airport years ago before commercial service was abandoned, is getting a second chance at commercial airline service.  Delta provides a handful of flights out of Salem into Salt Lake City, so I decided to give the airport a try since I generally fly out of PDX, about 2+ hours from my house, depending on traffic.  So the good — its only 15 minutes from my house, which definitely has it’s pluses.  Of course, being a small airport, parking is very limited, so you really need someone that can drop you off, or, as I chose, take a cab from somewhere in Salem [note, this is where having only one car can be a pain.  I took a 6 AM flight, and to have my wife drop me off, she would have had to have driven with me (and woke up the boys), around 4:30 am.  Not something I would ask them todo.  Because of that, it actually almost costs more (depending on how I make the trip), for me to fly out of Salem, since I can rent a car through Enterprise and simply drop it off at PDX.  Odd how that works out].

So the airport — it’s small.  Only one terminal, but staff were nice and attentive.  Security took forever to get through, simply because their is only one security gate and all people are processed through it about 40 minutes before the flight.  You basically spend that time in line (unless you can be first through).  Secondly, for a small airport like this — they really need to offer passengers something — wifi would be a good start — a Starbucks or something with some food or pastries would be a second.  Since the terminal is so small, I found myself doing a bit of thumb twiddling.  Had I been at PDX, I would have gotten myself a hot chocolate and been reading the news or playing a little online chess.  Also, I’m not sure I like Salt Lake as a hub.  The airport is actually very nice (Salt Lake), but it made for a very long flight to Boston.  Generally, from PDX, I end up getting a short layover in Cincy or Chicago, which makes for a nice stretch break, and a shorter second flight.  So, I’m pretty sure PDX is going to remain my primary airport for the foreseeable future, though I hope the Salem continues to be an option.

So the tools meeting — that went surprisingly well.  I’m always happy to hear from folks that have used MarcEdit and found it useful and there I found a little of both.  Also, I got to talk to a number of people about MarcEdit for the first time (or, tell people about functionality that they might not have otherwise been aware of it).  I think most people still see MarcEdit as primarily a MARC editing package — though throughout the last couple of years, the program really has been expanded to include a number of functions that make data harvesting, metadata packaging, etc. a much simpler process.

For my part, I got to check out a number of tools myself.  I think that my favorite and the one that I’m going to take a much closer look at is Archon [http://www.archon.com], an EAD delivery and management system.  At present, OSU is making use a number of tools to store and display finding aids.  There’s the NWDA’s website (a group that might be interested in this software as well, since it’s open source, free and looks to be fairly well supported.  Certainly could free up a number of funds currently be spent to license their current software solution), OSU’s CONTENTdm instance as well as just PDF representations of the data.  I’m not sure if Archon can replace any of those interfaces, but I certainly think it’s worth taking a closer look.  Additionally, there was a metadata management tool shared by the University of North Texas Libraries that demonstrated a customized process used by the institution to metadata loaded into their digital systems (which could be interesting if uncoupled from University of North Texas’s workflows) as well as a MOD’s Editor built from XFORMS developed by Brown University, which I find amazing simply due to the simplicity of design.  However, there were lots of other tools that were shown off.  Those with URLs are as follows:

So was the forum worth it?  From my prospective, as a tools developer, it was.  One of the challenges, even for someone who has been doing this for a while, it finding new ways to interact with one’s user community.  I think MarcEdit is likely unique among many tools in that it’s not a university project.  While Oregon State University certainly has been great in allowing me time to work on this project, as well as grow and support the user community — I do all development on my own time.  And the program isn’t developed specifically for OSU.  In fact, development is really community driven, in that new features are basically added at user request — so for me, interacting with users is really one of the most important ways that I can get a better idea of what people are waiting out of the program.  And for that, the RLG tools forum was very useful.  As an attendee, this meeting exposed me to a number of tools that I certainly wasn’t aware of before.  How we will be able to make use of some of these tools, well, that’s still in the air, but I think that forums like this are important.  There are a lot of people within the library community creating a lot of really interesting projects — as well as a lot of overlapping projects being developed.  I think forums like this might be able to have an affect of getting like projects together and maybe help to reduce some of the duplication being done on campuses across the country — and that would certainly be a good thing.

So, after Boston, I made a trip to NY to visit the Geneseo library and my good friend, Cyril Oberlander.  They are doing some fantastic work with ILLIAD and document/article delivery.  If you want to read a little more about their project, see http://blog.reeset.net/archives/522.  But I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to get to hear about their work and give them some feedback and some ideas as they look to make the service more widely available to organizations outside of the SUNY group.  And of course, this trip wasn’t all work as well.  On Saturday, I drove out to the Letchworth State Park — also referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East.  It’s a gorgeous area — with some great hiking and scenery.  There are basically 4 falls areas that you can hike to.  I got a lot of great pictures (which I might post, maybe not), seen lots of deer and basically spend 8 hours hiking in the woods.  I loved the quiet and a chance to get unconnected for a little while.  Of course, while I was there, one place that I didn’t visit was Inspiration Point.  My impression of the place is that it’s kindof a couples hangout, so I decided to add that as a place to visit with my wife, next time we find ourselves in the Rochester/Geneseo area.  🙂

The only real bummer with the trip has been the travel home.  This is the first time in a long time that I haven’t been at home for Mother’s day.  Fortunately, my oldest son (Kenny) picked up the slack for me.  My wife told me that he’d been planning a secret all week and that this morning, he got up at 7 am and snuck into the our bedroom with gifts.  He left them on the bed and then gave her a kiss on the cheek and wished her a happy mother’s day before disappearing back into his room with his brother.  Not sure what the secret Kenny present was (apparently, I have loose lips because I told me he wasn’t telling me either), but I’m sure it was great.  And now I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get home before mother’s day ends.  The joys of airline travel in the 21st century.  I should just about be at PDX right now (9 pm), but thanks to an extended period on the runway (for who knows why), I’ve still got at least another hour before landing (10 pm).  Speaking of joys of airline travel. [soapbox]I personally have no problem with airlines moving to the al cart model that many have started to embrace.  If they want to charge for food, entertainment, extra bags, etc — I’m fine with that.  On a 6 hour flight, like the one I’m on now — it would be nice to be tossed a bag of peanuts now and then, but I know the score and pack accordingly so I’m generally prepared.  All I ask of an airline is two things…1) that both my bags and I get to the city at the same time (something that I’ve had few problems with considering the amount I travel) and 2) that I arrive on time.  Both are important to me, but it seems that arriving ontime is becoming a much rarer event.  Since February, I’ve been on roughly 7 flights.  Going east bound, I’ve found average arrival time has been about a 1/2 late, going west bound, my arrival at PDX has been nearly always ontime (today is actually a bit of an anomaly), but my layover flights (generally to O’Hare) have been exercises in futility as I’m always finding myself landing and then sprinting between terminally only to arrive at my gate and trying to talk myself onto a flight that is preparing to leave.  Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of understanding gate agents, but the increased frequency of delays and tardiness is something that I’ve definitely been noticing.[/soapbox]




** Update — didn’t make it.  Got home at 12:03 am in the morning.  Loooonnnnngggg day.

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