When I saw Sarah Kessler’s recent Mashable article Five Things the Library of Congress is Archiving Online, it struck me as being a disconnect — Mashable talking about libraries?! — Mashable is one of the largest blogs on the Web, covering especially social media and tech subjects. I watch it fairly regularly, enough to know that they rarely mention anything having to do faintly with libraries.

When I looked at the Mashable/LC article I wasn’t surprised to see that the first on Kessler’s list of five things archived* at LC is Twitter feeds–all of them. The surprising announcement of the LC Twitter archiving certainly did get unprecedented attention for the Library of Congress when it was announced in April. Many eyeballs that normally don’t pay any attention to libraries sat up and took notice — Mashable did, and it looks like they’re continuing to pay attention. Great! …

I’d suggest that we in the library world watch closely how the world’s view of libraries may be changing to our benefit with the LC-Twitter alliance. When I first came across the Kessler article on Twitter, a few days after it was written, it had, of course, been heavily retweeted. But I was surprised that few of the RT’s were by people I recognized in the library Twitterverse. And of the few library Twitterites who did pick it up, almost none of them mentioned that it was in Mashable — Missing the element of Context, I’d say! Context is a critical on Twitter — It’s not just WHAT is being said on Twitter, but how it’s connected in the Twittersphere — WHO is saying it and WHO IS READING IT — Exactly the sorts of things that future historians will be able to study on the LC Twitter archive!

So, Librarians — Get on Twitter and learn how to use it! The eyes of the world are watching!

*The other four things mentioned as being archived at LC (none of which would have drawn the attention of Mashable without the Twitter archive, I’d guess): election websites, a few Facebook pages, historical events, and news sites.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

Marybeth Peters, head of the US Copyright Office (part of the Library of Congress), said this in her testimony before Congress yesterday:

The Copyright Office has been following the Google Library Project since 2003 with great interest. We first learned about it when Google approached the Library of Congress, seeking to scan all of the Library’s books. At that time, we advised the Library on the copyright issues relevant to mass scanning, and the Library offered Google the more limited ability to scan books that are in the public domain. An agreement did not come to fruition because Google could not accept the terms.

As discussed in my article in June, it seems surprising that the Library of Congress has not taken a more active role in the mass-scanning project that Google is doing. Peters’ words explain why — The copyright mess! If copyright gets fixed, LC might be doing the project instead of Google.

It’s encouraging that Peters has finally been given a platform to talk about the mess. She did talk about it at a Columbia University meeting in March, although it was not widely reported, and was apparently only recorded on a video which was not transcribed (see my transcription of a key passage here). At that conference, she’s reported to have said that Congress had shown no interest in hearing her testimony. Hopefully they’re ready to listen now.

Peters stresses in her testimony yesterday, and in her talk at Columbia, that Congress needs to be the one to fix copyright law. Letting the judiciary branch speak through the Settlement, she says, is making an “end run around the legislative process” — her words in yesterday’s testimony. Brewster Kahle used the same words in April.

With the GBS settlement discussion heating up, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that the root of the problem is US Copyright law. As Peters suggests, until copyright is fixed, mass-scanning of books is going to be problematic.

Eric Rumsey is on Twitter @ericrumsey

Why is the Library of Congress not more involved in discussions of Google Book Search and the impending Settlement? Google searching finds virtually no evidence that LC has had any voice at all in the recent flurry of talk on this. For example, these Google web searches pull up only incidental connections: < “library of congress” “google book” > < billington “google book” > < “library of congress” google settlement > (The main connection found here is a panel discussion of the Settlement that was held at LC in April, but none of the panelists were from LC.)

As the “de facto national library” of the US and “the largest library in the world,” wouldn’t it seem logical that LC be involved in thinking about GBS and the Settlement, which some say will change the way we read more than anything since the printing press?

I’ve been thinking about this idea for several months, but especially after writing an article in May on the apparently woeful state of Information Technology Strategic Planning at LC, as stated in a report by LC’s  Inspector General. Could there be a connection? Is this apparent lack of vision related to LC’s non-engagement with the momentous issues of the Settlement?

I was glad to discover, in doing research for this article, that someone else is thinking at least a bit along the same lines — Peter Eckersly, at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, suggested recently that Google put a copy of all books they scan at the Library of Congress — A fairly modest proposal, but maybe it will at least have the effect of bringing the Library of Congress at long last into the spotlight.

Eric Rumsey is at @ericrumsey

Why is this not being more widely reported?! Library of Congress Inspector General Karl Shornagel’s 60-page PDF report, as far as I can find, has been linked only in two short postings in non-library blogs, and in a few Twitter tweets, since Schornagel reported to the House Administration Committee on Apr 29. Surely it deserves more than that, so I’m doing extensive excerpting. Many thanks to @christinekraft for bringing this to my attention.

Information Technology Strategic Planning

Report from Karl Schornagel, Inspector General of Library of Congress, presented to James Billington, the Librarian of Congress

[p 1-2] EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The intent of this review was to assess the effectiveness of information technology (IT) strategic planning at the Library of Congress (Library or LC). To evaluate whether the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) Strategic Plan supports and implements the Library’s Strategic Plan as it pertained to the IT infrastructure, the Library Office of the Inspector General (OIG) contracted with A‐TECH Systems, Inc. … the Strategic Planning process for IT at the Library of Congress is not well integrated with essential planning components, and is not instituted Library‐wide, resulting in the following findings.

1. STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS ‐ Strategic Planning for IT is not a unifying force at the Library, does not link directly to the Library Strategic Plan, and does not have a forward‐looking view.
2. IT INVESTMENT PROCESS ‐ Strategic Planning is not linked to the IT investment process, resulting in the duplication of efforts and acquisitions.
3. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE ‐ The organizational structure of the Information Technology Services (ITS) directorate at the Library does not foster strategic planning and good IT governance.
4. ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE ‐ The Library is missing an Enterprise Architecture program that should be coupled with a strategy to provide a roadmap for implementing future technology.
5. CUSTOMER SERVICE – ITS customer service needs improvement.

In our opinion, all of these findings are in large part the result of an unclear sense of how IT planning fits into the Library’s mission and the roles and responsibilities of the employees, as well as a lack of linkage between the IT strategic planning processes at the Library and actual performance. Furthermore, those Library employees charged with IT planning need to adopt a holistic view of planning that incorporates and supports a clear mission view with an insight into customer goals and objectives. Although some steps have been taken towards this effort, the progress is not seen Library‐wide.

We received a formal response to this report on April 15, 2009. Library management agreed with the majority of our findings and recommendations. Although management did not feel the improvements since the LC21 report (in 2000) were adequately addressed, we believe these improvements were sufficiently addressed in the executive summary and the conclusion of this report. Management responses and A‐Tech comments are included in the report after each recommendation. The entire response can be found in Appendix E.

[p 7] FINDING 1 – STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS

We found that the strategic planning process is not a unifying force at the Library of Congress and not incorporated into the organization’s culture. Specifically, we found that:

1. The Library’s Strategic Planning process was not inclusive of all internal stakeholders;
2. The Library’s IT Strategic Plan does not align well with the Library’s Strategic Plan;
3. The Library’s digitization efforts are scattered and lacking in specific focus.

[p 8] We do not agree with the decision of the Library’s leadership to make strategic planning a management‐only activity. We suggest that the Library allow line employees to actively participate in the strategic planning process. …

Lack of Buyin to Library’s Strategic Plan Below the Senior Management Level (Section headings in boldface)

In interviewing Library staff, we found that most felt they had not been active participants in the development of the Library’s Strategic Plan or in the IT Strategic Plan. Those interviewees who previously worked at other federal agencies felt that the Library’s processes for IT strategic planning were “immature” by comparison.

[p 9] Misaligned Strategic Plans and Ineffective Planning Process

[p 10] The Library Does Not Have a Focused Digitization Vision
… despite many successes, the strategy for “digitizing” the Library collections seems to lack an overall Library vision. …

[p 14] FINDING 2 – IT INVESTMENT PROCESS

We found that the IT investment process at the Library is not linked to its strategic plan.

1. The Library’s IT planning is not linked to an investment process.
2. There is duplication of costs.
3. There is no consistent Cost‐benefit Analysis (Analysis of Alternatives) done
by ITS.
4. The Library does not transparently track IT costs.

No Comprehensive Library Strategy for IT investments

Despite the MDEP process, we concluded that there is not an overall Library strategy for prioritizing and budgeting for IT investments to include new projects, replacement of existing systems, hardware, software, and services support.

[p 15] No Coordination of IT Costs across Library

[p 17] Inconsistent CostBenefit Analyses

[p 18] Lack of Transparency in Tracking IT Costs

[p 22] FINDING 3 – ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

The organizational structure of the ITS Directorate at the Library does not foster strategic planning and proper IT governance.

OSI Is Not Optimally Structured

[p 24] RECOMMENDATIONS

The organizational structure of the ITS Directorate needs to be realigned to foster strategic planning and IT governance at the Library.

[p 25] FINDING 4 – ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE

The Library lacks an Enterprise Architecture (EA) program. … We found that the Library has not yet implemented an Enterprise Architecture …

[p 28] RECOMMENDATIONS

The Library needs to implement an Enterprise Architecture that could be coupled with a strategy and provide a roadmap for implementing technology in the future.

[p 30] FINDING 5 – CUSTOMER SERVICE

Customer Support Issues

Our review indicated that beyond long‐term strategic planning issues, ITS customers were experiencing significant customer service problems. We believe that this condition is related to the lack of long‐term strategic planning in that ITS does not operate on a long‐term plan to monitor or improve customer service. …

[p 31] The Help Desk is staffed by contractors, whose quality is inconsistent. Help Desk contractors will often install the wrong versions of software and the customers will reinstall the software themselves. Customers have reported that instead of fixing a problem, the Help Desk contractors will frequently replace hard drives or recreate customer accounts.

[p 33] RECOMMENDATIONS

The Library needs to implement a formal process for soliciting customer feedback for recommendations, ideas, and complaints, and implement changes to improve customer service.

[p 35] CONCLUSION

Many recommendations made in this report can be implemented at a low cost and can be accomplished with existing resources. …

The LC21 (2000) report made the following recommendations, which still hold true today:

“…information technology can, should, and must be taken as a strategic asset of the Library as a whole and managed strategically from the very top.“

“…there needs to be serious strategic planning. Concrete projects must be established and undertaken to make real the Library’s ability to select, acquire, preserve, and manage digital content. These initiatives must reach across the whole interlinked set of processes from copyright registration through deposit to reader services.”

[Following p 49] Response, by James Billington. [The body of the document, excerpted above, is native PDF, and can be copied, but Billington's response is apparently scanned PDF, and not able to be copied.] Billington’s main objection to the report is that it doesn’t give LOC credit for having made progress since the last assessment was done in 2000 (LC21: A Digital strategy for the Library of Congress). But in responding to specific points in the new report, he’s mostly in agreement.

Eric Rumsey is at @ericrumsey