[Esip-preserve] An Interesting Library Concept - The Accumulibrary

Bruce Barkstrom via Esip-preserve esip-preserve at lists.esipfed.org
Thu Jul 31 13:28:24 EDT 2014

Thanks for your comments.

I agree with your perceptions.  I had to renew my AGU membership this
morning and I much preferred avoiding a Web page maze or an automated
phone maze.  I waited until I could have a "reference interview" with a real
person.  I think I didn't waste time in a maze and satisfactorily completed
the transaction in just a few minutes with little frustration.  The
with a real person allowed me to correct errors before they got embedded
in the system.  The abstract submission process is highly routinised.
To submit my abstract I was able to move through the process step by step
just the web pages.  I did have to backtrack to reduce the number of
characters in the submission.  It wasn't a one-size-fits all choice.
Rather it
was a choice of the most efficient method of conducting a particular kind
of business.  The membership renewal was more complex for me than the
abstract submission.

The search problem is different for unique items like ideas in a paper than
is for highly structured Earth science data collections.  There are a
number of
large data collections with such structure.  Examples include NOAA's
Response Imagery Collection, various rock core archives, and data from a
number of NASA satellite collections.  The latter include those from the
Radiation Budget Experiment [ERBE] and the investigation of Clouds and the
Earth's Radiant Energy System [CERES] with which I was involved as the
PI creating the collection architecture.  These collections typically
tens of thousands to millions of individual data and documentation files.
There is a hierarchical classification used to manage data production
and data access to the collections.  I think that a large fraction of
researchers would find it easier to navigate through the hierarchy based on
a sequence of choices from the local nodes in the hierarchy rather than
evaluating items in a list from a huge query results set.  It may be
difficult for
researchers to trust heuristic search algorithms with a non-transparent
particularly given the scaling issues that appear with these large

The public and K-12 populations also have different  keyword vocabularies
than researchers do.  Those differences introduce additional difficulties
creating algorithms to serve all users with the same vocabularies or

Bruce B.

On Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 12:42 PM, Matthew Mayernik <mayernik at ucar.edu>

> Thanks Bruce. Definitely an interesting concept. Coming from the library
> world, I feel obligated to comment. It seems like this approach tries to do
> what libraries do, but deliberately eliminates the efficiencies for the
> patrons that libraries provide. The obvious one is that classification
> enables browsing by subject (though all classifications are partial,
> faulty, etc.). Also, consistent shelving and ordering allows repeat
> visitors (which you hope you have many) to learn the collection structure
> over time, again hopefully allowing them to make better/fuller use of the
> collection.
> "Algorithm-based" paths through the collection is a nice feature in this
> system, but it's not clear to me how it's an advantage over having a set of
> classification numbers in a library that a) you already know, or b)
> provides clear labeling on their collection.
> Finally, some libraries already use barcode-based retrieval systems with
> sequential (e.g. non-subject based) ordering. And any high-density storage
> facility does this, storing materials by size so that shelves can be packed
> as closely together as possible. These typically aren't open for browsing,
> but again if the goal is to help patrons to make the best and most
> efficient use of the collection, this scheme certainly isn't the way to go
> if you want browsing.
> So, definitely interesting as a concept library, but the advantages over
> the current state aren't quite clear to me.
> Matt
> On Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 6:48 AM, Bruce Barkstrom via Esip-preserve <
> esip-preserve at lists.esipfed.org> wrote:
>> Another article, articulating the "Everything is Miscellaneous" manifesto:
>> http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/07/the_accumulibrary_modern_libraries_should_be_as_big_and_chaotic_as_amazon.html
>> The ultimate dream of the "Piler" approach to stuff - although the
>> article doesn't
>> really deal with interlibrary loan or federated and fully distributed
>> "archival"
>> sites.  The antithesis of the "Filer" approach to stuff.  Any "Filer"
>> that categorizes
>> his or her personal library and research notes will feel that this
>> approach conducts them
>> to the lowest circle of Dante's story and chained there.  Library
>> classifiers might fear
>> becoming unemployed.
>> Before then, readers might make the book from which this
>> article is excerpted a minor best-seller.  ["This Book is Overdue" may be
>> of some
>> interest from a nonfiction point of view, although it doesn't have an
>> index so it
>> must be nonscholarly nonfiction.  Petroski's "The Book on the Bookshelf"
>> provides
>> a rather interesting history of the bookshelf and chained books.  For
>> readers who
>> prefer fiction, see the novel "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" by Robin
>> Sloan.]
>> Bruce B.
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>> Esip-preserve at lists.esipfed.org
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