Tea Parties and Terabytes : the Digital Library Revolution

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Tea Parties and  Terabytes  : the Digital Library Revolution

Tea Party

A few months ago on Publib , I entertained the idea of replacing a brick and mortar library with electronic book readers and subscriptions.

Our local free library had spent about $8,000,000 on a library renovation / reconstruction employing grants, local taxes, donations and state funds.  Notably, it had started out being about a 4 million dollar project.   What would 8 million dollars along with yearly operating funds  purchase now?  Could the needs of library users be met with electronic book readers and subscriptions?  Could accessibility be expanded?  

Asking those questions met with sharp disapproval from the librarian in Rhode Island who had overseen the project. She characterized me as a tea bagger – (derogatory slang meaning Tea Party member) for daring to bring up the idea.   At least I think that was what she meant.  The Urban Dictionary has some other definitions that are not very nice.

I'm late !

Why would entertaining a simple idea of how  8 million dollars could have been spent create such a visceral reaction? Public libraries represent the most efficient aspect of local government.  Hardly any library system is a  beneficiary of public largess.  The entire loosely affiliated public library system in the United States is efficient because of internalized ethics, highly trained personnel and sharing.  Sharing resources means everyone benefits.  Sharing is something other public services have never done as well as public libraries. Are public libraries in such precarious shape that civil discourse threatens libraries as the bastions of civil discourse?  Is time running out? Are we too late?

Imagine no brick and mortar library exists.  What sort of digital book access could an initial 8 million dollar investment and a yearly operating  budget of $480,000  afford?  …

$8,000,000  could buy:

 Amazon Kindle . . . . . . . . 57,553 units retail    at $139 each or
 Sony eBook Reader . . . .  62,015 units retail    at $129 each or
 Barnes & Noble Nook . . . 53,691 units retail    at $149 each 

 A $480,000 operating budget could purchase:

Lots of electronic books. The cost of many titles through Amazon’s Kindle program is $9.99 or less. So, yearly new ebook accession could be greater than or equal to 48,000 titles. That seems like a fairly small collection to support sixty thousand ebook readers

The 60,000 ebook readers could also be shared within households. With  2.59 people on average per household – 155,400 people would be sharing only 48,000 titles.  That is less than 1/3 of a book simultaneously available to all readers at once during the first year.

But wait, there’s more, terabytes more:

Amazon also provides Kindle Popular Classics with almost instantaneous free access to over 15,000 books.

Project Gutenberg provides Free eBooks with over 33,000  titles.

The Internet Archive provides free access to massive collections .

The Google Books project also provides free access to terabytes of text and images and is partnering with major libraries around the world.

Digital collections such as the Perseus Project   and Lincolniana at Brown offer a vast wealth of specialized subject matter.

The United States Government along with State and Local Governments are providing more and more public information in digital format.

So, what does that mean?

60,000 households could each have immediately access to hundreds of thousands of free books and articles and increasing access to new books and articles. 

But what about catalogs and reader services?  Doesn’t everyone need catalog help? These collections are HUGE!

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the United States.  The Library of Congress Catalog is massive and serves as the expert resource for copyright.  The Librarians who staff the Library of Congress are some of the most highly compensated in the US. 

Which catalog is intuitively better?

Library of Congress Catalog search:

Here is the output in basic search for the word balliot:   http://bit.ly/fCXAnh

Select item 2 –  CONVAL Report:  http://bit.ly/ijNORk

Using the same search strategy in Google Books:

Here is the output in basic search for the word balliot:    http://bit.ly/faHnAT

Select item 1 – CONVAL Report:  http://bit.ly/gUPu1v

It is even intuitively easier to search within  Library of Congress collections using Google Books full text.  LC requires a copy submitted to them when they formally copyright.  

Full- text of the Copyright Catalog available within Google and not within the LC catalog:  http://bit.ly/gzJf7S  provides reference pointers to LC’s collection.

The HELIN  Library Catalog employs  III encore software and includes: Brown University, Bryant University, Community College of Rhode Island, Dominican House of Studies, Hospital Libraries of Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams University, Salve Regina University, University of Rhode Island, and Wheaton College holdings.

Which catalog is more helpful? 

Here is  HELIN‘s output searching for the phrase Windows Forensic Analysis DVD Toolkit, Second Edition:   http://bit.ly/g8mOa0

Here is Amazon‘s output searching for the phrase Windows Forensic Analysis DVD Toolkit, Second Edition: http://amzn.to/gBpxkZ

Encore tells us that we should use other words and check our spelling. It offers no leads to additional material.  Amazon provided the book, the electronic version, reviews, shots of inside pages and related works.  Some library catalogs intergrate similar features in the user interface, but they are not leading the way.  They are merely following the examples of successful for-profit library catalogs that only recently began to market books.

The Digital Library Revolution

 $8,ooo,ooo in construction expenditures and a $480,000 yearly budget represents the real-world costs of operating a public library in a community with about 22,000 residents and a fairly small collection.  Using the revolutionary digital library model presented here, the same funds would support 155,400  people in 60,000 households while providing instant access to terabytes of digitized collections.
 
The digital library revolution is a radical departure from the way that library materials are contained, published and distributed. Instead of allowing public libraries to disappear from the conversation,  civil discourse should continue that includes public libraries as significant partners and facilitators in the evolution of this digital library revolution.  It is not too late.
 

 “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.” ~ Lewis Carroll

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Jackson County Public Library – North Carolina

This story is a great example of a community coming together for the common good to build a new library.  The new Jackson County Library replaces one of the first public libraries I used as a child when my father was the Director of the Western Carolina University Library:  

  Jackson County Public Library 

The original building was my summertime source for science fiction and fantasy.  Western North Carolina was a great place to grow up and mature.

My introduction to Public Libraries came from Sam Molod, the former Deputy State Library Director for Connecticut.  When my father was the Sciences Librarian at Wesleyan University,  they became great friends and Sam gave our family many books.  We discovered reading for pleasure – the myths, the legends, the fables.  We utilized the Middletown Public Library in Connecticut as our local lending library.  I was horrified when I ended up with my first overdue fine.  One of many to follow.

When I became the Director of the Middletown Public Library in Rhode Island, I found that Sam Molod had served as the original building consultant on the renovations made to the facility in the 1970s.  I went on to finish the work that had been started and had fallen through because of lack of funds.   Karma.

Best of PubLib ALA Midwinter Exhibit Hall Review

Best of PubLib at the ALA Midwinter Meeting Exhibit Hall Review

This week,  Best of Publib covered the ALA Exhibit Hall at the Boston Convention Center.   The HD video below includes hundreds of vendor displays.  We hope it will help you imagine the experience if you were not able to attend, or help refresh and reinforce what you learned.  

 
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Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

The Boston Convention Center was an excellent venue for ALA. The train brought us to South Station - just a few minutes away from the hotels and convention amenities.   There are many local publishers and library suppliers within a short distance, so start-ups and unique product suppliers could present affordably.  And, Boston rocks!  The Freedom Trail, Duck Tours , along with world-class museums and libraries are within short distances of the convention center.  

The organizational effort by ALA and attention to detail by the library vendors was outstanding. It was easy to lose track of time on the exhibit hall floor amidst the panorama and noise.  It took on a casino / carnival atmosphere with prizes to win and vendors pitching their games. High above, you could use the Food Court sign as a directional beacon.  

Of all the hundreds of vendors represented, we chose to review five.  

The first is : I-Concepts which defines itself as Innovative Concepts for Nonprofit Organizations.  We could imagine many libraries outside of Boston benefiting from this service, along with fostering a general appreciation of local history archives.  If you are looking for a way to both encourage collection use and raise funds – i-concepts may be the answer. The Amelia Earhart print was fascinating.  

LibraryThing.com/forLibraries

The second  is : LibraryThing. Tim Spalding along with his gregarious black-shirted  horde truly represented the best of Open Source, Library 2.0 and viral marketing. They were eager to engage and highly entertaining.  

The third vendor is : LE@D-Lifelong Education @ Desktop from the University of North Texas   This group was absolutely charming and demonstrated infectious enthusiasm for their services. They dressed in some of the most colorful attire at the exhibit.  Le@D  provides highly affording library training. According to Director – Kevin Haney (in the middle with the green shirt) – costs are as low as $15 for a course! Enthusiastic library training –  Deep in the heart of Texas!  

New York Times

The fourth vendor is: The New York Times offering 50% off Home Delivery Service
 Marketing was conducted by On the Avenue Marketing Group with this excellent salesperson hawking half-price subscriptions. She may have been the hardest working individual in the exhibit hall. Yet, it was somehow troubling that this was the limit of representation of the New York Times publishing empire.  

III

The fifth vendor is: III – Innovative Interfaces Incorporated. III is one of the heavy hitters in the Library industry. Many libraries are dependent on their products and they have  a loyal base. I worked on two transitions to III – the first at Brown University from CLSI and the second at CLAN libraries from Horizon. I have used III for over twenty years and find it offers outstanding service. However, what I observed in the exhibit hall was troubling.  

The III booth was very well-appointed and designed with several interactive product displays. It supported a large group of associates to answer questions. Yet, few were actually engaged in discussions with anyone but their co-workers. A librarian approached two of the representatives to thank III for providing a pass to the exhibit hall. One of the representatives took a look at the librarian’s badge and said something to the effect of :

 “Well ______ must have been giving away those passes all along the east coast, we had another librarian from ____ stop by earlier “.

Then the rep rattled off a few names of people they considered important from that same institution and basically dismissed the librarian. There was no sales pitch. No offer to demo. Merely, a dismissal. 

Library Service, especially in the public library sector, ideally levels the playing field. Service is equal. In contrast, some vendor representatives have obviously been instructed to find out the station of the exhibit hall attendee, determine if they were of the buyer / influencer class and dismiss the others. Yet, the nature of libraries and librarians as technology consumers requires generating interest throughout an organization and getting everyone to buy in. If you have six vendor representatives at an exhibit and you don’t have a crowd around your people, then you should generate interest by engaging everyone.  All of the library vendors were start-ups at one point.   

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The exhibit hall may be the most effective way to get hands on experience with some of the newest and most exciting products in the library world.  The meager twenty-five dollar entrance fee – or having an inside vendor representative hook you up for free makes the experience well worth the visit.  

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Best of PubLib at ALA-Midwinter Update

American Library Association Mid-Winter Meeting

We  consumed the Boston Convention Center exhibit hall today.  Boston is nearly 50 degrees farenheit!  We will feature some of the most interesting  exhibitors and products that we found in a special edition of Best of Publib on January 20th – we have pictures of them all.  But tonight, we dine with Canadians!

This Week in Best of PubLib 12.14.2009

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

Video coming soon

This week  in  Best of Publib covers the week of December 7th through December 13th. This week includes questions about building collections in Western, Urban Fiction and Romance genres along with thought-provoking discussions about  library organization, library reorganization and control of libraries.  Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:weekly update

  • Topic   »    olympics? – Sharon Dalton in Parlin, NJ would like to know about Olympic themes for marketing library programs and materials.
  • Topic   »    urban fiction - Elizabeth Fraser in  Charleston WV is looking for good urban fiction resources.
  • Topic   »   Mail Chimp - Lisa Pappas in  Plainfield, IL wants to know who is using Constant Contact and who is using Mail Chimp - How do they compare?
  • Topic   »    RESUME - Karen Hertel in Idaho asks – what to include on librarian resumes  - Are academic librarian resumes the same as public librarian resumes?
  • Topic   »    Moving from a municipal department to an association library? – Laurel Goodgion in Wethersfield CT  seeks examples of municipal libraries that became independent libraries.
  • Topic   »    Reorganizing customer service | Library organization structure –  Janice Painter in  Princeton, NJ is investigating cross training and various innovative methods of reorganization.
  • Topic   »    software questions – Helen Rigdon in  Kansas City, Kansas wants to know if libraries qualify for academic price breaks on software – Is Open Office a viable alternative and what about TechSoup?
  • Topic   »    Flooring material – Connie Meyer in Fort Atkinson, WI is finishing a building project and seeks flooring suggestions.
  • Topic   »    Rental Ready Videos vs retail editions, Library edition audiobooks vs. retail editions – Jeanette Piquet in Richmond Heights, MO  is looking for guidance on vendor definitions – What are the legal and ethical ramifications?
  • Topic   »    Building upon an existing Romance Collection – Sherise Pagan is looking for web site sources to help develop a  Romance collection
  • Topic   »    Western Paperbacks – Ann Moore  in New York is looking for sources for up-to-date paperback westerns
  • Topic   »    Bags for Patrons, plastic or otherwise – Rebecca Hermen in Michigan is looking for economical, green library  bag guidance
  • Topic   »    Kirkus is shutting down – Mamie  Ney in Maine gives the sad news about the cessation of Kirkus
  • Topic   »    Friday funny – Elizabeth Thorson in Cheyenne, WY reports on extraordinary autographs located in The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists
  • Topic   »    Controlling Libraries - Who should control public libraries? Should ALA?  Should ethics?  Should politicians?  Should professional librarians42 ? Take our poll!

Take the poll -

 

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This Week in Best of Publib

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archivesweekly2

This week  in  Best of Publib includes some elegant and thoughtful discussions on filtering products, the future of Libraries as presented by CNN, tracking problem patrons, and the ever-popular sewage in libraries – some of the topics we will be reviewing include:

  • Topic - Discontinuing Fax Service – How has this service evolved or devolved? What is the future of this technology? Just the fax ma’am.
  • Topic CNN on Libraries – The future of libraries is being ‘investigated’ by CNN – but is this really investigative journalism or biased pandering?
  • Topic - Cataloging Advance Reader Copy ARC – How should uncorrected advanced reader copies be cataloged? Should they?
  • Topic - Barracuda Filters and Others –  Blocking patron access and blocking spam – how well do the filters work? Filters ?- we don’t need no stinkin’ filters!
  • Topic Circulation on Multiple Floors –  What efficiency is lost or gained from providing circulation services on multiple floors?  Taking checkout to a higher level.
  • Topic - Have Advanced Reader Copies been Hit by the Economy?  Are advanced reader copies being replaced by electronic versions? What does this mean to reviewers?
  • Topic - Tracking Problem Patrons –  How do we balance the privacy issues of patrons against the need to maintain order?  What methods work the best?
  • Topic – Children’s library on the second floor – How well does this design work for children, their parents, and the library? Is it a good design? Hazards?
  • Topic - Sewage back-ups – Should libraries remain open while raw sewage creeps through the building? 

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Please note – there was an absence of Friday Humor by Joe Schallan this week, or maybe it just did not go through.  To offset, liberal use of Joe Friday references were made in this update.

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