Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Editorial: Ariadne: the neverending story.

Jon Knight, the latest in the long line of Ariadne editors, explains some of the changes that the journal has undergone this year, and introduces the articles in issue 74.

Welcome to issue 74 of Ariadne! This is the first issue of the magazine that we have hosted here at Loughborough University, with an editorial team spread over a number of institutions, after we took over the reins (and the software and database) from Bath University back in April. You might have noticed a few changes since the move that I’ll hopefully explain in this editorial.

The largest change behind the scenes, and the one that took quite a lot of work from my colleagues Jason Cooper and Garry Booth, was the move from an older version of Drupal that Ariadne was hosted on in Bath, to the latest release. We did this at the same time that we moved the database over to Loughborough, and we have to thank the folk at Bath for patiently waiting for us to get it all ship shape before switching public traffic over to our servers.

For the more technically minded of our readers, here’s “the science bit” about the software changes. We look after a number of Wordpress installations and small Drupal installs in our day jobs, but Ariadne’s Drupal configuration was somewhat more complex to update. Drupal’s update system is not as streamlined and automated as that in Wordpress, so patching modules is a task that takes far longer and far more effort. Ariadne’s Drupal installation relied on modules in the older release that did not necessarily have a direct equivalent in the latest Drupal code base, so those had to be removed or replaced with alternatives. Over the years some of the custom written back end code has also suffered from the inevitable “bit rot” and so we had to guesstimate how some parts were supposed to work!

As a result of updating the content management software we also refreshed the look and feel of the site a little. Not a massively radical overhaul, but more removing items that we’d had negative feedback on or that Drupal no longer supported, tweaking some of the styling, and aiming to make it easier and quicker to get to the actual article content. After all, providing the articles and reviews are what Ariadne is really all about, so we felt that was where we should focus our efforts on.

We’ve also moved to a slightly different publishing model. Rather than collecting articles and reviews, having the editorial team review them all, getting all the corrections in place and producing finalised texts before releasing an issue, we’ve decided to try a “rolling” issue model. When an article comes in, it is reviewed and corrected as before, but once we and the authors are happy with it, we mount it on the Ariadne web server and make it live immediately. This means that the current issue is always partly finished, right up to the point where it is “capped” with an editorial article such as this and we start building the next issue.

This rolling issue model has a number of advantages. The most important from the point of view of authors and readers is that articles are made available as soon as we have a finalised version of the text. This means that information exchange is more timely, as an author submitting an article at the start of a new issue phase doesn’t have to wait for all the other articles to be submitted and processed before theirs is made available to the public. Hopefully the rolling issues are a reasonable compromise between the traditional print based issue model and the far more dynamic information flow we find around us on the Web today.

Talking of articles, issue 74 contains a broad range of different articles, which we hope will be of interest to our varied audience in libraries, museums and archives:

Ana Margarida Dias da Silva has an interesting piece on how social media such as Facebook is (or is not!) being used by municipal archives in Portugal to engage with their local communities. With the need for libraries, museums and archives to continually prove their worth to funders and politicians, looking at ways in which public participation in the activities of these organisations can be improved would seem to be a vital task.

Simon Barron’s article is a library systems administrator view of the implementation of the Kuali OLE at SOAS Library, University of London. Kuali OLE is open source software which, along with Koha and Evergreen, are being increasingly used in libraries as a way to make budgets stretch further. Simon describes how the choice to go with Kuali OLE was made, how the library staff and patrons were engaged in the process and some of the issues to be wary of.

Digitization of text is a common problem in our fields, made harder when the source text is coming from older manuscripts that Optical Character Recognition (OCR) struggles with. Patrick Randall explains how games technology can be used to crowdsource improvements in the text captured from OCR software. He provides details on how the games were made, how well the system worked and some of the pluses and minuses of crowdsourcing volunteer labour via this route.

In the UK, funding councils are pushing Universities to make sure that data supporting research results is made publicly available so that research results can be checked and built upon. Gary Brewerton describes how Loughborough University has tackled this Research Data Management demand, using an innovative combination of two cloud service providers.

We have two book reviews in issue 74 as well. John Kirriemuir has reviewed Understanding Gamification by Bohyun Kim, published by the American Library Association. This book aims to provide a high quality introduction to the subject of gamification in libraries and learning spaces. Meanwhile Kevin Wilson has provided a review of Information 2.0: New models of information production, distribution and consumption by Martin de Saulles, published by Facet Publishing. This work looks at how we create information in our modern web based world, and then how that information is processed, shared and utilized by various actors, including the big corporations such as Google, Amazon and Facebook.

Hopefully our readers will find these articles informative and useful. If you are member of staff in an archive, library or museum and you have worked on something within your organisation that you feel would be of benefit to other practitioners in the field, please get in touch if you’d like to submit an article about it. Similarly, if you’d like to volunteer to review books that we are offered by publishers, please let us know.

Lastly, a quick note to point out that the next issue of Ariadne is a little bit special. It will be both the 75th issue and the 20th birthday of the launch of Ariadne back in 1996. The digital libraries landscape has changed tremendously since those early days for Ariadne in the mid-1990s, and Ariadne has, and will continue, to change with it.