Libraries at SXSW – We Need *Your* Vote! (bestofpublib)

Please share widely!

By Carson Block

For those who already know (and we love you! :0) the SXSW ~ South by Southwest in Austin, Texas – panel picker is open and we need your vote – here’s the list of library submissions with easy-to-click-links:

http://sxswlam.drupalgardens.com/content/2014-sxswi-lam-proposals

For those who don’t yet know….to shift the perceptions of libraries from a warehouse of books to dynamic places that celebrate ideas, we need to share library innovations far and wide with diverse audiences in unique formats. SXSW Interactive is a major annual gathering of thought-leaders and funders – “fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery.” (Sounds a lot like the library!)

Interactive design and relationship to other fields.

Interactive design and relationship to other fields.

There are a slew of incredible submissions this year proposed by creative library and museum professionals. You can help put libraries, archives, and museums (LAM) at the forefront of this ideas-exchange by voting for LAM presentations in the SXSWi Panel Picker from Aug. 19-Sept. 6, 2013, at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/.

Below is a list of sxswLAM panel proposals and well as sxswLAM-related panel proposals. You can also do a search by keyword in the Panel Picker for “library” or “libraries”and there are dozens more. If you believe that librarian voices need to be heard, even if you’re not attending, we need your vote to make it happen at SXSWi 2014.

Again, the handy-dandy list of library, archive and museum proposals is here:

http://sxswlam.drupalgardens.com/content/2014-sxswi-lam-proposals

Thanks!

Carson

===
Carson Block Consulting Inc.
Technology Vision. Technology Power. Your Library.
http://www.carsonblock.com

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Library One-Liners

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Library One-Liners 

Reading Jester

Reading Jester

On Sat, 27 Apr 2013 ~ Sana Moulder in Fayetteville, NC asked Publib:

I’m seeking library patron one-liners for a project. I’d like questions and requests such as:

“I need a photograph of Jesus Christ,” or “I need a DVD of  A Christmas Carol, one with Charles Dickens in it,” or (one of my personal favorites), “I need information on how Muslims celebrate Christmas.”

This is for a Staff Development Day program, and should be of a caliber guaranteed to drive a Zombie Librarian into a homicidal rage. TIA
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And, the Publib chorus responds:

~ I’m looking for all your true books about time-travel~ Can you find instructions for me on how to build a guillotine? (magician).

Fords Theatre - 1865- NARA

Fords Theatre – 1865- NARA

 ~ Patron: I need a video of President Lincoln’s assassination. Me: You mean President Kennedy’s assassination? Patron: No. Lincoln. You know, the Civil
War? My teacher told me I could get extra credit if I could bring in a video showing the actual assassination.

~ I need to check out all your books on biomes so no one else in my class can finish their reports.~ Lynn Schofield-DahlBoulder City Library – NV

~ I’m doing a term paper and need information comparing and contrasting the 3 Stooges with the 4 Evangelists in the Bible. ~ I need direction on how to get to Valhalla, the home of the gods, on a bicycle. ~ Do pimentos grow in olives? ~  What is the average size of a lawn in Beirut?

~ 2 part question -(early 90s): Everyone knows AIDS came from Africa. It was transimitted by animals and carried over to animals in the US. At one point, everyone will die of AIDS except for small, furry animals that look like the Muppets.  How did Jim Henson know to design his Muppets to look like the small furry animals that will survive the AIDS epidemic?~ I saw a documentary on TV about a type of tree frog that is going extinct. This tree frog looks like Kermit the Frog, by Jim Henson. How did Jim Henson know to design Kermit so he would look like this type of tree frog?  Editor’s note: Ms. Piggy conspiracy?

~ I need film of Abraham Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address. ~ Becky Tatar - Aurora, IL  

Annunciation - Dirck Bouts

Annunciation – Dirck Bouts

~ I was recently asked for photographs of angels. When I tried to clarify and see if paintings would do the woman got upset, called me stupid and asked for someone else to help her.  :) To my knowledge, she did not get any photographs out of the next librarian either.

~ I once overheard: “Do you have books on booby-traps? I need to catch the damned Mexicans who keep stealing my chickens. I heard those Viet-Gongs were real good at booby-traps.” I laughed too hard to help the poor librarian who was trying to explain that the man was responsible for anyone who was maimed on his property before handing him several references for web sites.~ Terry Ann Lawler - Burton Barr Library – AZ

Bayou Sacra Luisiana - Henry Lewis 1854

Bayou Sacra Luisiana – Henry Lewis 1854

~ Patron asks for an aerial view of local landmark, Nottoway Plantation. Peering quizzically at the GoogleEarth image, she asks, “What’s that brown stuff all along there?”   “That’s the Mississippi River,” I reply.   “Why isn’t it blue?”   “It’s called the Mighty Muddy Mississippi because of all the sediment.”   “Is there any way you can make it blue?”~ Audrey Jo DeVillier - Iberville Parish Library – LA

~ “When was the first recorded use of the word ‘love’ in any language?”~ Ann S. OwensSacramento Public Library – CA

~ Do you have any books on Chanukkah and other foreign Christmas holidays? ~ My son needs a book for school.  The author’s last name is Chaucer–I don’t remember his first name. ~ What was the date that God kicked the bad angels out of Heaven?~ Kevin O’KellySomerville Public Library – MA

~ This one was over the phone: “I have a book about William Shakespeare that I would like to sell. It is very old, it even has photos of him in it!~ Terry DohrnFruitland Park Library – FL

~ I need a photograph, not a painting, of the meteor hitting the earth and killing off the dinosaurs. ~ Not exactly a one-liner but close: I need a picture of a Georgia Cherokee teepee. (Librarian: The Cherokees didn’t live in teepees.) I need a picture of a teepee that Cherokees would have lived in if they did make teepees.   ~ I need information on the war, you know, the one where everyone got killed. ~ Another close one: DO you have anything besides “Learn Spanish in 30 days”? I need to learn it by tomorrow’s test.~ Dusty Snipes GrèsOhoopee Regional Library – GA

Fool's Cap Map of the World

Fool’s Cap Map of the World

~ We had someone once ask for a photograph of a dragon. Not a picture or drawing or painting but a photograph. ~ I also had a high school student ask for the book Ibid. I asked her where she got the title from and sure enough she showed me a footnote in a book. She would not believe me when I told her it was referring to the previous footnote until I showed her the sample in a Turabian style manual ~ Meg Van Patten - Baldwinsville Public Library – New York

~ This one sticks out: when in academia I got this urgent call: “My son has read every book there is and now he wants to read The Clavicles of Solomon,  We can’t find it anywhere!” I told her that could only help with the Canticles (Song of Solomon)… I know we touch people’s spirits but I hope when still in their bodies ;) ~ Shahin ShoarArlington Public Library Columbus, OH

~ I once had a patron complain because our color copier wouldn’t make color copies of his black and white Resume.  I never did figure out exactly what he was expecting.~ Michael GregoryCampbell County Public Library –  KY

~ My all-time favorite reference question was the Santa Fe kid who wanted to do a report on pirates in New Mexico. ~ Another fine one was the woman looking for a book on how to choose a lottery number.~ Miriam Bobkoff - Peninsula College Library – Port Angeles

Old King Cole

Old King Cole

~ Several years ago, a young man called to find out if the library was a government suppository. ~ And there was a woman calling from Georgia wanting to know if we had any information about an Inglewood business, the Los Angeles Kings. (For the sports-challenged: the Kings are a hockey team, who used to play in the Forum, a sports arena a few blocks from the library. That year [and not last year] they had made it to the Stanley Cup finals. They lost.)~ Sue Kamm - Los Angeles, CA

~ I was once asked for a color photo of Christ.~ Christine Lind Hage - Rochester Hills Public Library

~ Not a question I received, but I remember a story from another librarian who was asked for a map of all the lost gold mines in the Rockies. ~ And the tale of a Black librarian with whom I worked, who was asked for a mailing list of white supremacist organizations. “I gave it to him,” the librarian said, “But ewww.”

Step Right this Way

Step Right this Way

~ And, for real, when I worked at Baraboo, Wisconsin’s circus museum, I was asked whether we might have a photo of George Washington at the very first US circus in 1793.

I gently mentioned that photography was not invented until about the 1840s, and because of that, the requester wouldn’t find any photographs of George at any event, let alone at John Bill Rickett‘s original one in Philadelphia. “Oh. Right.”~ Erin FoleyRio Community Library – Wisconsin

~ The library gods must have heard your plea because today I got a phone call. There’s some context to this but this question was asked: Patron on phoneWhat is Shakespeare? I’ve heard of it but I haven’t seen the movie. If you must know the context he called to ask about an actress and her career and when he found out that she was in Shakespeare he wanted to know what it was. ~ Katilyn Miller -Frederick County Public Libraries

Joachim Patinir - Crossing the River Styx

Joachim Patinir – Crossing the River Styx

My friend was asked to “point out the River Styx on a map”. Seems the person asking wanted to your there.~ Liz McclainGlencoe Public Library

~ We had a patron wanting to know the time. The circ clerk answered his question gesturing to the large, roman-numeraled clock nearby. He replied he couldn’t read it because he didn’t know Romanian.~ Jacque GageJoplin Public Library – Joplin, MO

~ Famous one-liner: “Where are the stacks?”

~ Teresa: Mam, would you like to sign up for our winter reading club for adults, Cabin Fever?
Woman: What do I have to do?
Tersesa: Rate all the books you read.
Woman: But I didn’t like the last one.
Tersesa: That’s okay. You don’t have to like them all.
Woman: I only want to enter the books I liked…

~ Leah: I love my new WiFi detector t-shirt!
Scott @IT: We should give one to the director at North Pocono. Maybe then we can pin down the source of their WiFi problems. “Call us if your shirt goes on or turns off.” Come to think of it…that doesn’t sound good, does it?

~ I called our local printer to get a rough estimate on printing book marks.
Leah: How much would 300 book marks cost to print?
Printer: In color?
Leah: Sure.
Printer: Will they bleed?
Leah (baffled): I HOPE not…. It’s YOUR paper!~ Leah Ducato Rudolph - Abington Community Library

~ Several years ago someone asked me for a picture of a cross-section of a banana showing the seeds. I finally found one, but it wasn’t easy.~ Holly HebertThe Brentwood Library – TN

~ Patron - “I’m looking for information on the Sultana Indians
Me (after a long and fruitless search) - “where did you get this reference?”
Patron - “I dreamed about them.”~ Lisa RichlandFloyd Memorial Library –  NY

Beethoven

Beethoven looking a bit peeved

~ Two favorites from here… The High Rockies of need… (Hierarchies of need) ~ And that song, Furry Lace (Fur Elise)~ Karen E. Probst - Appleton Public Library

~ I’d like a sound recording of real dinosaurs.  ~ If I make recipes from a diabetic cookbook, will it give me diabetes? ~ Susan Hunt - Aboite Branch Library- Fort Wayne, IN

~ I once got asked where our gynecology department was. I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud as I explained where our genealogy department is.~ Deborah BryanTopeka and Shawnee County Public Library

~ Not a patron one liner but….I had a staff member ask me one day, Where are the eBooks shelved?

~ Patron: Where can I find the books on um, you know motivation and stuff? Me: (looking on the catalogue), I see there is one here, shall we go over and have a look? Patron: Nah, I can’t be bothered just yet, maybe tomorrow. I swear – true story. ~ Lisa Pritchard - New Zealand

~ At my previous library out west, we once got a call from a patron asking if we had the “Anals of Wyoming” in our periodical collection. ~ Stephen Sarazin - Aston Public Library – PA

Gutenberg Bible - Epistle of St Jerome

Gutenberg Bible – Epistle of St Jerome – Patron Saint of Librarians

~ Henry Huntington, railroad millionaire, established the famous Huntington Library and Art Collection in his estate in San Marino, California. It’s home to many rare books, including a Gutenberg Bible. About 50 miles away is Huntington Beach, California, named for Henry Huntington when he put a rail line through to the town.I used to work at the Huntington Beach Public Library, and for years confused tourists would come to the desk to ask to see our Gutenberg Bible. Best one-liner ever? Look at the computer screen and say, “Sorry, that’s checked out today.” Maybe a little too much background needed for this to be a great one liner, but we loved it.~ Roger Hiles - Library Services Manager Arcadia Public Library – CA

Et tu, Granny?

Et tu, Granny?

~ Just saw a written information request: “About epilepsy or Grandma Ceazer. Just been diagnosed.”~ Anne FelixGrand Prairie, TX

~ I have one from when my son worked at a grocery store. A woman requested “bee honey” so they escorted her to the honey aisle. “But which one is bee honey?” They told her that only bees make honey, and she didn’t believe them. In fact, she thought they were making fun of her. (Which they did, in spades, after she left the store.)~ Cheryl Coovert  – Lexington, KY

Reading Jester

Reading Jester

Clover honey is made by clover.
Wild flower honey is made by wild flowers.
Spelling bees make word honey.
And WHERE do you think quilts come from?~ Chris Rippel - Central Kansas Library System –  Kansas

Editor’s note: Everyone on Publib knows that the best Quilts come from BiblioQuilters such as Nann Blaine Hilyard and Sana Moulder.

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Awesome Somerville Public Library

Harvard Library and the Somerville Public Library:

Innovation and Collaboration

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Best of Publib received the following press release from the Somerville Public Library in Somerville, Massachusetts:

Matt Phillips and Annie Cain

Matt Phillips and Annie Cain – Creators of the Awesome Box

The Somerville Public Library, in a partnership with the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, launched the “Awesome Box” project at all three SPL branches in early February. This endeavor will allow patrons to give fellow users suggestions on what book/CD/DVD they found to be “awesome.”

“Somerville is the first public library to get on board with the ‘Awesome Box’ project,” says Maria Carpenter, Somerville’s library director. “We are always looking for dynamic, innovative and creative approaches to library service, and this was certainly one of those.”

Awesome Box

Awesome Box

Here’s how it will work: When a patron particularly enjoys an item, he or she will return the book into the “Awesome Box,” which will be clearly labeled with appropriate signage. Then, a library staff member will scan the book twice – once, checking the book in as usual, then another time to list that item on the “awesome” page, which can be found here: http://somerville.awesomebox.io/.

Patrons can then visit the page and see what others have found notably enlightening, mind-blowing or helpful recently. There is also a “most awesome” section, which shows the items that were most thought to be awesome. Users can also search for items that are listed as awesome. When patrons click on the media’s icon, it takes them to the item’s listing on the Minuteman Library Network catalog, so that they can read more about the item and its availability or place it on hold.

For more information about this project, call Maria Carpenter at 617.623.5000 or email her at  mcarpenter@somervillema.gov.

Awesome Somerville

Awesome Somerville

Somerville’s commitment to innovation and collaboration can be emulated by any other public library.  The Harvard Innovation Lab provides excellent documentation along with step-by-step instruction.   The Awesome Box project is just one direction they are exploring.

The great thing about this sort of project is that it capitalizes on patron momentum.  Whenever a patron returns a book or media, they either put it in the regular book drop or express their approval by putting it in the Awesome Box. Either way, the same energy is expended with an added value to the library as a book or media review.

There is an added value to the patron with their likes and preferences registered and noted. There is also an added value to all of the other patrons who might not otherwise know what gems the library contains. The only extra step is checking it in – scanning a second time  to register in the Awesome database.

Awesome Box - a simple, elegant idea.

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Virtualization of the Patron Experience

Virtualization of the Patron Experience

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This very interesting article in USAToday about the future of retail and virtualization of the customer experience demonstrates how big data can affect and effect virtualized experiences for their patrons:

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-08-05/future-retail-tech/56880626/1

Libraries compete with online information resources in much the same way the traditional retailers compete with online sellers.

Question ~ How will libraries adapt over the next ten years?

Robert Balliot for http://bestofpublib.wordpress.com

Discussion ~ My work in managing/developing online catalogs – with 20,000+ medical equipment / supply products and 7,000+ multi-website display products exceeded what library catalogs do and from an SEO standpoint would beat out Amazon for Google placement.  Traditional retail could not compete because of delivery and cost.  BestBuy is a great place to put your hands on tech, but the prices are much higher.  As e-commerce websites become more and more user-friendly – where you have good photos of products and good descriptions, the whole process ends up making all products into commodities with the lowest cost determining purchase.

With libraries, the focus has generally been on maintaining the status quo and keeping current bureaucracies in place until they can retire. This is not any different for any other bureaucracy – it is a natural inclination - not library specific to simply maintain.  With the focus on cost of maintaining services though, without innovation the perception of value diminishes.  One of the best things I have seen recently in libraries is the introduction of Makerbots as a library resource.  It is those sorts of high-priced shared resources that extend the value and bring people inside the library systems.

But, the issue does become lowest cost.  As we see transportation cost rise, the casual trip to the library could cost $10 in gas. What would $10 purchase virtually?  The associated costs of operating libraries – broken down between the people who continue to use them and the disproportionate number of people who don’t would add additional cost to each real visit.  As information becomes a commodity the lowest cost will determine where we purchase.  That does not mean that the value of libraries as a sense of place and source of inspiration does not add a real value to information consumption.

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – December 2011

 Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for December 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been PublibPublib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
Extracting the data from the archives became problematic in December.  The Publib listserve moved from Webjunction to OCLC and OCLC put the archives in an obscure space viewable only by listserve subscribers.  None of the archives are searcheable through the open web and must be viewed through a multi-step process.  Even subscribing to Publib has become convoluted – although members who had subscribed before were apparently migrated successfully to the new server.
 
Once you do reach the archives, they can be sorted by Date, Topic, and Author.  Big topics for December included: Favorite Reads of 2011 ,  reference stumpers ,  and Tax Season.
 
 
Publib Topics - December 2011

Publib Topics - December 2011

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Amazon in competition with libraries?

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Is Amazon in competition with Libraries or are Libraries in competition with Amazon?

In the Publib post Amazon in competition with libraries?Randall Yelverton of the Washington District Library directed our attention to this Publishers Weekly blog story:

    Funding remains steady in many systems for now, but we will be, and should already be, fighting against perceived irrelevance that will increase as digital subscription services allow people to curate massive personal media and information collections with great ease.
Library Books

Library Books

Book stores, large or small, aren’t analogous to libraries because you pay for every single purchase from a store. Subscription services are far more similar to a library because for a fee, just as you pay taxes to support the library, you can quickly access a media library, and there’s likely not waiting for the must-have title.

To which the Publib chorus responded ~

  • That said, pay-fer services, like that described here or Netflix or even big book stores, are no threat to libraries. They certainly haven’t caused reduced funding for libraries. ~ DARRELL COOK – Richardson (TX) Public Library
  • Publishers are going to be pushing back hard on this. Customers may find that their selection from the Amazon lending library will be pretty meager. Still, we shouldn’t be complacent. : http://www.pcworld.com/article/239859/amazon_kindle_ebook_lending_program_what_it_needs_to_succeed.html  ~ Sharon Foster
  • The fact remains that libraries must evolve. We must change the perception that, once people can easily check out books, audio books, and find information quickly and easily using their smart devices, that libraries will no longer be needed. What will or what are libraries morphing into? What will be our new/revised role in community when it is no longer “reading advisor”? How will City Councils and State Legislatures begin to view us as “essential” and not as a place to begin cutbacks? ~ Beth Carlberg -Lubbock Public Libraries
  • This very topic was the subject of the Infopeople webinar, “Libraries in a Post-Print World,” held yesterday, September 13.   I recognized several PubLibbers’ names among the attendees.  The webinar archive is here:   http://infopeople.org/training/libraries-post-print-world  ~ Nann Hilyard the library in Zion, Illinois

Amazon is a singular corporate entity. Libraries are at best an aggregate of like-minded interests loosely, yet passionately bound together by a system of professional ethics.  Like politics, all Libraries are local.  So, can we really say that Amazon is competing with any individual Library or are Libraries collectively poised to compete with Amazon?

The month of September 2011 marked some major changes in Amazon:

  • On September 21st -  Amazon Kindle kicked into Overdrive – making Kindle Books available at over 11,000 local libraries.
  • On September 26th – Amazon announced its digital licensing agreement with Twentieth Century Fox.
  • On September 28th – Amazon announced the availability of four new Kindle models including:
    • a pocket sized $79 version
    • a Kindle Touch version for $99
    • a Kindle Touch 3G for $149
    • and Kindle Fire for $199 that will play Video, MP3 and offer books

The financial markets responded well to these announcements:  http://www.google.com/finance?client=ob&q=NASDAQ:AMZN#

Each of these announced changes impact the aggregate of Libraries and individual libraries. 

- Amazon Kindle kicked into Overdrive – increases demand for Kindle titles and pressure on collection development budgets: 
  • I know that it takes a bit for new programs to work the glitches out but we have some pretty avid readers who have been waiting and watching for the Kindle app to appear.  I want to make sure I can help them when they appear on our doorstep. ~ Jan Cole – Duncan Public Library
  • Would anyone be willing to share the percentage of your annual materials budget that you allocate for e-books, or just the amount you budget for
    e-books? What is your population? – Diane Greenwald -Warwick Public Library (Ocean State Libraries)
His and Her Kindles

His and Her Kindles

As a proud owner of His and Her Kindles, I reviewed the Ocean State Libraries
 consortium offerings for Kindle.  The number of titles currently available for the 600,000+ card holders is: 4,046.  There is essentially no depth to the collection at this time nor any real value in searching it.  In contrast - using the no-contract free 3G access built into the Kindles, I can browse and sample over 1 million titles.

- The deal with Twentieth Century Fox means additional video titles are now available for Amazon to stream to all sorts of device – providing an on-demand library of over 100,000 titles. 

How many libraries can say they are able to provide the equivalent access?

-The new price point for Kindles – as low as $79 dollars with WiFi or $149 with free 3G means many, many more people will be able to afford Kindles. 

Amazon Prime is $79 a year. So, for a total investment of about $150, you have WiFi, and thousand of books and videos available – represent a big price drop from just a few months ago. And, the new Kindle Fire may potentially become the dominant streaming media device.

Publib contributors are not without ethical concerns over these changes  -

  • … that kind of seamless integration across your Amazon account has interesting (i.e. potentially alarming) implications about just how much Amazon is keeping track of its customers’ relationships with their public libraries. I’m not sure what I think about that yet. Does anyone have a read
    on that yet? ~ Will Porter – Dennis Memorial Library
  • … but I did note yesterday that your library books are listed in your Kindle account information, just like books you purchase, and can be sent to any device you own from there. Several of our patrons have already commented on the service on our FB page – one or two even praised how easy it is, so that’s a nice change… ;) ~ Robin Hastings – Missouri River Regional Library
  • So they’re definitely paying attention to what patrons are checking out and using that information for marketing. I wouldn’t be too surprised if they shared that information with others. Part of me wants to make a big point of letting patrons know that their Kindle checkouts aren’t anonymous, but I don’t really know that patrons care about that as much as I do. I know that while my librarian self finds it worrying my patron/customer self just doesn’t care.   ~ Andrew Fuerste-Henry Dubuque, IA

 But is Amazon competing with Libraries or are Libraries competing with Amazon?

 
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Karen Schneider Tribute

A Tribute to Karen Schneider:  outgoing co-moderator of PubLib

On Sat Jun 18 2011 Publib co-moderator Karen Schneider  announced two major Upcoming changes to the PUBLIB list :

1. Migration of the  listserve hosting from Webjunction to OCLC.

2. Her departure as co-moderator of the PubLib listserve after 15 years of service to the growing Publib community.

Co-moderator Sara Weissman provided Publib with a an overview of some of the many intellectual/  administrative contributions Karen Schneider has made to help develop this dynamic Publib community :

1. PubLib postings by and about Karen Schneider  number over 6000

2. Karen Schneider’s numerous insights include her “Internet Reference Success Stories, job announcements, policy questions  galore, using the Internet for fun and benefit, announcements from ALA and  its many divisions, humorous reference questions, patrons and accompanying  animals, skylights, cafes in public libraries, the homeless, etc., etc., etc. “

3. PubLib subscribers grew from 2,700 to 10,458 strong. 

Nann Blaine Hilyard – Director of the Zion-Benton Library has suggested a fitting, colorful tribute to Karen for her generous contributions to the PubLib community:

To thank Karen Schneider for her years as co-moderator of PubLib, we are going to give her a bookshelf quilt.   If all 10,000 PubLibbers contribute, so much the better—she’ll have a library-filled quilt!  

 By July 31, 2011, PubLibbers are asked to create signature blocks.

Here is how:

  Cut a piece of woven cotton fabric  2.5”  x  5”. 

Any color.

Must be woven.   If there are no sewists in your household or among your colleagues, consider using a a piece from a shirt or a sheet.

No knits.   No textures (no terrycloth or corduroy).

  On that piece of fabric write your name and library or town – however you want to be identified.  (If you use a pseudonym, that’s fine.)

 ♦ If possible use a Pigma brand pen.  (Scrapbookers, quilters, and artists in other media use them.)

Alternatives:  a gel pen, a fine-tip Sharpie, India ink are all okay.

 ♦ Any color of ink is okay.

*DO NOT USE* a Flair, a fountain pen, or a ballpoint pen.

Signature block with margins

Keep a 1/4 to 1/2- inch margin all around the block.   Do not write in the margin (that’s the seam allowance). 

Send the signature block to: Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton Public Library, 2400 Gabriel Ave.,Zion, IL  60099 BY JULY 31, 2011.  

If you want to enclose a couple of bucks to defray the cost of fabric, thread, and batting that Nann will use create the quilt, that would be great. 

  Note:  Nann will bring Pigma pens and pre-cut 2.5” x 5” fabric to ALA Annual, so if you’ll be there, find her!   

Nann Blaine Hilyard, director
Zion-Benton Public Library
2400 Gabriel Ave.
Zion, IL  60099
847-872-4680x 110
847-872-4942 fax
www.zblibrary.org.

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A Tribute to Karen Schneider 

Library Security and Insecurity : Sacramento Public Library , Ocean State Libraries and The Library Connection

Library Security and Insecurity  – A Brief Risk Assessment

~ Robert L. Balliot, MLIS

Anne Frontino of the Haddonfield Public Library in New Jersey queried the PubLib Listserve about  privacy and possible misuse of library barcodes on smartphones remarking:

Our library is considering allowing patrons to use barcodes scanned onto their smart phones to check out books.  …    We have only had a few instances of patrons trying this method of checking out items, but we feel that there may be some privacy or other misuse issues lurking.

barcode

Responses varied from Manya Shorr of the Sacramento Public Library advocating for use of barcodes without requiring authentication  to Dale McNeill of the Queens Library advocating familiar authentication such as PINs.  

It was obvious that there is no universally accepted standard for securing library user information, yet privacy is a cornerstone of libraries, library ethics, and the library profession.  In fact, a privacy guarantee may be the one thing in the information age that sets libraries apart from other massive information resources.  It may be the singular added value that provides validation of libraries as a public service.

Library records and library use are afforded privacy protection by statute and / or published opinions in the fifty States and the District of Columbia. Many states have enacted Security Breach notification laws and Data Disposal laws that safeguard privacy. Library user privacy is also championed by the American Library Association  Code of Ethics specifically through Article III:  

We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.

These statutes, ethics and opinions can create formidable barriers to unlawful, unwarranted electronic discovery.  However, dramatic changes to the traditional library information environment have led to a general failure of libraries to provide security of library records and transactions and fulfill professional and statutory guarantees of privacy.  As a result of those dramatic changes, library usage represents a massive opportunity for legitimate and illegitimate electronic discovery.

In 2009 the HITECH Act was passed to specifically address privacy of health records in the United States in conjunction with HIPAA.  The process promulgated for securing privacy of health records could be effectively applied to safeguard library records – the technology is the same and the security issues are similar. Libraries and health care providers are both required to safeguard the privacy of user records.  Health care records and library user records are both defined as protected information resources.  But, unlike libraries as a result of HIPAA and HITECH the custodians of health care records must now undergo a risk assessment to identify how breaches of privacy may occur.

Enigma

Enigma Encryption Device

If risk assessments are not being conducted by libraries, how well are Libraries securing user information? Thousands and thousands of library records have been compromised and hacked. Nothing mandates risk assessment of library privacy and information security. Yet, the laws and opinions in all 50 states and DC define library user information as private and protected. 

What is the ongoing risk of exposing library user information? Huge. Three Library systems are reviewed here for the most basic levels of information security for users  - Encryption, Authorization and Authentication and Agency of ownership applied to Library Catalogs and Websites.

library Sacramento Public Library – Sacramento, California

The Sacramento Public Library serves  over 600,000  users with 28 libraries.  According to Manya Shorr, the SACPL also allows use of un-authenticated barcode images on smartphones as an alternative to a library card.

California Statutes :  Security Breach, Data Disposal and Library Records Privacy

Catalogencore © Innovative Interfaces, Inc.

Encryption - The SACPL catalog employs https SSL for user login.  The catalog does not employ https SSL  for non-login searches.

Authorization and Authentication -  User login requires Barcode or User Name AND PIN

Agency - The SACPL  catalog employs third-party Google Analytics to track and store user information - script from SACPL catalog:  

var _gaq = _gaq || [];    _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-8159966-1']);    _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);    (function() {      var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;      ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;     var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);    })(); 

Website – The SACPL Employs Google custom search - an outside agency not under control of SACPL which tracks and stores user information

Sacramento Public Library Risk Assessment -  Fail

Non-login catalog searches appear to be transmitted in the clear. Login catalog use and non-login catalog use is tracked by Google – a third-party not controlled by the SACPL.  Searches of the SACPL website employing Google custom search is third-party data collection not controlled by SACPL.  In addition, risk of in-person identity theft is compounded by reliance on staff to authenticate based on suspicion.  How is reasonable suspicion quantified and qualified with 28 libraries and 600K users?

library Ocean State Libraries – (library consortium)  - Rhode Island

The Ocean State Libraries (OSL) consortium (formerly CLAN) includes 49 public libraries of Rhode Island and over 500,000 user records.  In 2003 a long-term employee of the Warwick Public Library – the home of the Ocean State Libraries offices – was charged with stealing library user identity to obtain credit cards.  Each employee with access to the circulation modules of the consortium is able to access library records and personal information for other users of the integrated library system.  So, at the time when charges were filed all of the patron records for all of the libraries were potentially breached.  Subsequent meetings of the OSL voting membership  – library directors – discussed some of the security concerns of  retaining drivers license numbers and social security numbers within the database.  Some consideration of standardizing security of data was profferred.   Arguments were made that the easiest thing to do was not to require PINs or other authentication and leave data collection and retention as a decision at the local level.

Rhode Island Statutes :  Security Breach, Data Disposal and Library Records Privacy

Catalogencore © Innovative Interfaces, Inc.

Encryption - The OSL catalog uses https SSL to encrypt login to user accounts.  The OSL does not employ encryption for non-login catalog searches – all searches appear to be transmitted in the clear.

Authorization and Authentication - The OSL catalog does not require authentication of user accounts through a PIN – merely knowledge of a simple numeric 14 digit bar code. 

Agency – It is unclear how information is shared with external agents – however, patron data is shared throughout the consortium and is not compartmentalized.

Website – OSL website user information is shared with and tracked utilizing Statcounter.com – a service out of Ireland.

Agency - User information is shared with and tracked utilizing Statcounter.com – a third party service apparently managed out of Ireland.  Statcounter script is rendered as invisible, secreted tracking without informing visitors of its use within the website code – script from OSL website  :

 Start of StatCounter Code –>
<SCRIPT type=text/javascript>
sc_project=1420372;
sc_invisible=1;
sc_partition=11;
sc_security=”7885d9a5″;    . . .

Ocean State Libraries Risk Assessment -  Fail

No authentication of library catalog users – creating high risk of exposing user data. Non-login catalog searches appear to be transmitted in the clear without encryption.  Use of website employing Statcounter.com aggregation of user data is third-party data collection by an agency not controlled by OSL – with servers storing data about user sessions apparently located  in Ireland. Although security of patron records has been breached in the past, compartmentalization of records does not appear to have taken place.

library  The Library Connection – (library constorium) – Connecticut

Janus

Janus

The Library Connection serves  27 public and academic libraries  in the State of Connecticut.  The Library Connection librarians achieved some notoriety within the world of librarianship from their challenge to a National Security Letter and willingness to go to the mat along with the ACLU to defend the privacy of their users against law enforcement  in John Doe v Gonzales.   How does this library system employing librarians willing to secure and protect patron information from law enforcement review face user information security in general?

Connecticut Statutes :  Security Breach, Data Disposal and Library Records Privacy

Catalog - The Library Connection consortium employs the SirsiDynix integrated library system

Encryption - The login connection to the Library Connection catalog does not employ https  SSL.

Authorization and Authentication - A name and PIN or a barcode number and PIN are required for access to library user record.  However, since that information is apparently transmitted in the clear instead of encrypted using https SSL  – identity theft and harvesting of PINs with names and PINs with barcode numbers could be easily accomplished.

Agency - It is unclear how data is shared.  Library Connection privacy policy states

Information on non-Registered Library Users: No information is collected on library users who do not register as patrons. Some member libraries may collect the names of those who wish to use library computers to access the Internet. We encourage these libraries not to retain this information longer than three days.

Website - Immediately upon entering the Library Consortium website, user data is shared with and tracked by Google analytics

The Library Connection Risk Assessment -  Fail

No apparent encryption of library users logins. Non-login catalog searches appear to be transmitted in the clear.  Use of website employing Google analytics  is third-party data collection – an agency not controlled by the Library Connection – which appears contrary to the Library Connection policy on non-registered users.

Risk Assessment Summary -

The ongoing risk  to library user privacy is huge. This brief survey only touches on a few of the many current insecurities of library user information. Insecure user privacy practices represented in this brief risk assessment affect the privacy of over one million library users –  just at these three library systems. The privacy standards outlined by Article III of the ALA Code of Ethics may be comprised for convenience even by large library systems.   The ongoing erosion of user privacy in libraries to faciliate ‘ease of use’ by librarian and patron without regard to standard information security practices and ethics threatens the foundation of libraries as viable professional public services.

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The Google Generation and Library Skills

What the Google Generation Doesn’t Know or 

Get off of my Lawn!

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How has Google affected research skills?  Are library patrons getting the facts?  Are the facts they are getting ‘real’?   Do they know how to find information or what questions to ask? How is the technological immediacy of information balanced against quality?  Do rolling stones still gather no moss?  Many opinions were offered on these subjects and more when  Kevin O’Kelly of the Somerville Public Library asked Publib members:

         “is ignorance of the skills of the pre-Internet age limiting their (high school students) ability to function in the Internet age? ”

To which the Publib Chorus responds:

Thy cnt spl.  Vowels are a thing of the past. Seriously, they can’t spell. They can’t find things, sometimes even on Google because even Google can’t make heads or tails of what they are trying to say.   ~ Dusty Gres – Ohoopee Regional Library System  (editor:   SMS language avoids vowels)

Ay?

I was assisting a middle-schooler with her homework when I noticed she had written that the two official languages of Canada were English and Sumerian. I pointed out her mistake, but even if she had turned the homework in and gotten it wrong she would probably still have discovered that Yahoo Answers isn’t the best resource. And I don’t know about others in my generation, but I rarely find myself’ following the shiny blue hyper-links all over the place in some sort of internet-induced ADD rapture (unless it’s Wikipedia, in which case all bets are off – that site is an easy time-suck). ~ Theresa McNutt – Red Oak Library 

The truly disturbing thing is that back in the day, patrons who couldn’t use the book resources got no information and came to us for help.  Now they will actually get something with their poorly constructed search strategies and they’ll be happy about it.  It’s hard to educate someone who thinks they know what they’re doing. ~ emilie smart – East Baton Rouge Parish Library

. . .Often they finally do come to me, and the only thing left to do is to employ the backhoe method to help them.  I ask ‘what piece of information do you need to have when you leave that you don’t have now?’  … They are entirely too trusting.  They will believe anything if a search engine produces it.  They need to have that talk about not all is gold that glisters and not every search engine is righteous in its presentations.  They don’t know the difference between a site that is there to sell something and one that is there to provide information.  …  They are willing to show others–including librarians–how to manipulate the technology in exchange for being shown how to manipulate information.  Together, we have possibilities. ~ Kathleen Stipek –  Alachua County Library District   

As a member of “generation Google” I respectfully disagree.  It’s a vast  generalization to say that an entire generation (or all young people,  etc.) don’t know how to search online, use an index in a book, or any number of other assumptions. Some younger people don’t know how to do these things; that’s for certain. But neither do some adults. It’s unfair to say that, just because I grew up using computers and the  Internet, I don’t know how to use a library in the traditional sense; or  that I don’t know how to correctly and successfully search for
information online. ~ Amanda Dias – Rodman Public Library

I find that just as many middle aged and older adults have basic book finding and research questions as younger ones. ~ Jesse Ephraim – Roanoke Public Library

I have found that fewer young people have an understanding and appreciation of the Dewey Decimal system.  As we migrate to eBooks and other things digital, I also think about children reading about this strange system (Dewey) that was used to arrange an old technology (books) a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. Which leaves me to wonder if Dewey will ever have a place in a completely digital world? … are the same basic skill(s) needed to find, use and evaluate information changing?

How would our ancient predecessors have handled a change in information technology?  It would be interesting to consider how the Roman era librarians of Alexandria would have handled the change from housing half a million papyrus scrolls to a lesser number of paper books.  What changes in society and technology would have effected them?  (And we all know how the changes in society, politics and history of their times influenced the end result of the Great Library of Alexandria.) ~  Dana L. Brumbelow – Alachua County Library District

 many people of ALL ages now just turn to Google and don’t go any further when looking for information. For me it’s really a question of reminding people that unlike the web, a book doesn’t just suddenly disappear, the way a website will if the internet connection is severed. ~ Teresa Eckford

Pretty much anything off the Internet, regardless of source, if it sounds remotely plausible, will satisfy many questioners. Certainly no one wants to wait the few minutes for a librarian to find the correct information in an actual reference book – just take whatever Wikipedia offers.  And it seems that many teachers, having grown up with the same attitudes, don’t have the sense to demand authoritative sources.  Or, perhaps, even to be aware that they exist.

One of my favorite books, “The Franchise Affair” by Josephine Tey rightly skewers the tabloid press of the 40s.  The crazy tabloids my grandmother subscribed to have move comfortably to the web. Batboy lives!  And I’m having a Martian love child next month!  
. . .  Often research skills are taught in school, but patrons want to take the easy way and have you hand them information.  I’ve encountered this often as a K-8 school librarian.  Several teachers complained to the principal that the students didn’t know how to find information or use the library.  This was after years of being taught how to do both.

I asked the teachers to bring classes in to see what the problem was.  The teacher would ask, “Where would you find information on XYZ?”  A room full of shrugged shoulders and vacant stares.I responded, “Really?  Where is the first place you would look for the information?”  Miraculously hands would go up and they suddenly remembered they would use the index to the encyclopedia and then locate the volumes indicated.  They would explain about the different Dewey classifications and using the OPAC. ~ Paula Laurita – Athens-Limestone Public Library 

 
Yellow Journalsim

Yellow Journalism

“Yellow journalism” goes back to the beginning of journalism! So do highly-regarded books that contained errors, slanted viewpoints, careful omission of important facts, etc.No matter what the medium, “logical fallacies” will always be common. Politics in general relies heavily on them, as do many other factors in life. Critical thinking can be taught, but the emotional and social variables that undermine the process can never be fully overcome.

 I would even suggest that the concept of “authoritative sources” in general tends to downplay critical thinking while appealing to emotion and social pressures.  ;)  Knowing how to manipulate the technology is an integral part of librarianship today.  Librarians should know more than the students in that regard, and should work hard to keep their knowledge current.  In most cases, that means studying on your own time for no pay, just as folks in other professions do.

. . . There are some simple ways to improve Google searches dramatically – when I have trouble finding things via Google, it’s usually because the information simply isn’t online, or it’s so obscure that it takes a lot of extra work (which is true of old style print searching, as well).  Though indexes are more precise, they are inherently much more limited. ~ Jesse Ephraim – Roanoke Public Library

The Pew Research Center [somewhere] discovered that, really, under-twenty-somethings aren’t really all that net-savvy. They found it a misconception that next-genners can fix a computer in their sleep. Stroll through any public library’s teen area and watch them actually try to find info by Googling – it’s laughable, sad even. I’m not sure Google gets enough credit in terms of info. organization. Its services just get a bad rep because of its users. ~ Michael Schofield

 
As professionals we should be aware of, and keep up to date on, both library(research) methods _and_ current information technologies. ~ Carl William Long -   Reading Public Library
 
 I think some patrons would love a drive through window! I my case as a public law library – “one divorce packet, no children, to go please.” ~ Virginia Eldridge  Grayson County Law Library

 What really gets to me about these kids-these-days-and-their-darn-computer-boxes discussions is the knee-jerk assumption that a different skill set is an inferior skill set. Lately I’ve enjoyed pointing people to Socrates’ Phaedrus, written around 370 B.C., in which he rails against the new technology of the printed word and its deleterious effect on the mental habits of future generations. David Malki, author of Wondermark, has a really good blog post about it here: http://bit.ly/fnDHxu     

Socrates

I assume that a listserv full of librarians isn’t going to side with Plato in condemning the written word, but he’s not entirely wrong. A dialogue with a knowledgeable person can be much more illuminating that reading a book written by that same person. Plato’s error is his failure to see that the written word has its own strengths to offset the ways in which it is inferior to the spoken word and his refusal to seek out and exploit those strengths rather than lamenting those inferiorities.

Computers have produced a cultural upheaval to rival that wrought by writing and we’re well the point of no return. We’ll better serve ourselves and our patrons by looking to fuse our competencies with those of the Googleites than by grousing about what the kids don’t know. ~ Andrew Fuerste-Henry – Carnegie-Stout Public Library

. . . this ability to synthesize information into thoughts (especially written thoughts) that young people seem increasingly to be missing. I’m not sure if it has to do with how, or where they are getting their information; whether the inability to use an index or to structure a good online search is part of the problem. But I do know it’s a very real problem. I see it all the time, both at work and when I serve as a judge for local debate tournaments.  ~ Tom Cooper – Webster Groves Public Library

I think this is probably the most significant point to be made on this topic, and gets to the heart of the matter. How to help patrons who don’t know they need help? ~  Mark Hudson  East Baton Rouge Parish Library

And teachers and the Internet and their assignments for children…. I can’t figure out if it’s Google-era teachers or old, seasoned veterans who apparently give assignments and say, broadly, “You need information from a book, from a magazine article, and something from the Internet.”  Period.  I used to think it was older teachers who really were backward and knew nothing of the Internet, but thought it was something that everyone was “doing,” so his/her students should “do” the Internet for an assignment, too.  But I’m not so sure.  Then again, having had experience as a parent, I’m not always sure if kids who say, “The teacher said I need something from the Internet,” and then volunteer no further info, despite the best reference interview I can muster, are telling the truth.  Maybe the teacher gave precise directions and exact websites to try.  (That does happen, in about 10% of the cases, or some ridiculously low percentage like that there one.)  Maybe the teacher spoke intelligently and well about How to Find Good, Accurate Information on the Internet.  Or not.  Or has never been in the public library.  Or perhaps has.

Hittites in Love

And then there are all the official documents sent home for parental signatures at the beginning of the year, baddly ritten with pore grammer an speling an runonsentencez, and who produced *those*, I wonder.  Google-ites, or Troglodytes?  (Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, Hivites–oops, now I’m getting carried away with names from the Bible, and am risking political incorrectness in public.  Or on publib.  Stop me now!) ~ John Richmond – Alpha Park Public Library

A brief summation of the Google Generation thread, with abject apologies to the Rolling Stones. :) ~ Tongue firmly in cheek, ~ Sarah Howison  – New Richmond Branch Library 

(You! Kids!) Get off of My Lawn

They live on the Internet and they can’t read an analog clock
And they eat junky foods till you can hear all their arteries clog.
They trust Google way too much, and they don’t know how to use an index
They cite Wikis in their papers and good lord, I don’t know what’s next!

We say You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
Keep off the grass ’cause you’re not allowed
On my lawn!

Their phones are ringing Bieber in the library all of the time
They answer them out loud, ignoring all the posted “no cell phone” signs.
You say “Hang it up, kiddo, or I’ll have to ask you to depart.”
And they act as though you’ve stabbed them all the way down into the heart.

We say You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
Keep off the grass ’cause you’re not allowed
On my lawn!

They barely use a vowel, they communicate only in text-speak
And for all the sense it makes to us, they might as well be sending Greek.
We snoop around the stacks and assume that all their acts are obscene
No wonder they seem to think librarians are all kind of mean!

We say You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
You! (You!) Kids! (Kids!)
Get off of my lawn!
Keep off the grass ’cause you’re not allowed
On my lawn!   ~ Sarah Howison  – New Richmond Branch Library

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Kindles and Android and Nooks (oh my!)

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Update May 19, 2011:   Amazon announced that they are now selling more Kindle books than print books – 5%  more – after dropping the price on the Kindle with advertising to $114.   

Update April 20, 2011:   Amazon announced they will be introducing a Kindle Program for Libraries later this year.     This is significant news for the Library market and quite a game-changer. How will this affect the Overdrive market and the future purchase of hand-held e-book readers by libraries?

According to MediaPost.com  Kindles represent 59% of e-readers shipped.  So, if Overdrive is able to deliver as represented, this would mean 59% more potential e-reader patrons for Libraries that have e-book collections.  Is making the most popular e-reader compatible with 11,000 library collections a positive thing for Libraries?  Is making the devices interactive with the books positive for patrons?  I think it is.
 
It is also potentially *great* for Kindle sales, Kindle book sales, Kindle book authors/publishers (70% royalities in US/UK)  and Overdrive.  The marketplace responded very positively to Amazon’s April 20th news release: http://www.google.com/finance?client=ob&q=NASDAQ:AMZN

Since Overdrive, Inc. is not publicly traded, it is hard to tell what immediate impact this has on the value of their company. But, given Amazon’s extraordinary success in customer satisfaction and their huge IT infrastructure, it stands to reason that the partnership would serve to enhance Library customer satisfaction with Overdrive too.

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Scary new road for Librarians

Many of the  Publib and Web4Lib conversations in 2010 centered on the effects of handheld media devices and applications in the world of libraries.  The mainstream use of handheld media and the proliferation of machines that effectively recreate the reading experience of traditional books struck home for many librarians.

The codex certainly has many iterations, but after 500 years it did become standardized.  With the exception of oversized and miniature books, most are close in size and operate essentially the same way. Librarians are comfortable with and comforted by collections of nice squared chunks of paper, cloth and leather neatly arranged on metal and wooden shelves.   We were comfortable with card catalogs and eventually became comfortable with online catalogs.  The online catalogs certainly did not have the same feel, the same look, the same smell as the old catalogs, but eventually they took hold as  standard library features. Yet, unlike most traditional library catalogs, the intellectual authority over catalog software was outsourced to vendors.  Librarians essentially gave up ownership of their catalogs, while providing broader access to more collections for their patrons through shared resources, databases and inter-library loan.

Slowly, a new path of accessibility began to blend in with the online catalogs. Digital books and digital audio became popular. Massive digitization and storage of public domain works projects were undertaken.  Computer memory, speed, and storage increased while size, cost and energy needs decreased.   Smart-phones and wireless networking became common. 3G and 4G networks proliferated. The convergence of networks, digitization, and hardware improvements meant book contents requiring hundreds of metal and wooden shelves are now available on devices weighing under a pound. And, those same devices have access to enormous digitized collections at far greater speed than even the most efficient traditional library services. 

The youthful progression of 18-20 somethings forced  Academic Librarians to become early adopters of hand-held media technology. Academic in-house computing power and talent lent themselves to solving problems of accommodating information delivery in the manner prefered by their gen x and gen y patrons .  Public Librarians trended towards becoming late adopters.  Many had no budget for electronic book collection development.  Others, inhibited by vendor controlled delivery and electronic book access looked for ways around what appeared to be a system without standards.  Some of the better funded public libraries have been able to develop electronic book collections, purchase electronic readers, and effectively respond to the demand by their patrons for this new information medium. 

 

Rise of the Machines

2010 Christmas season sales in the US accompanied a big price break and increase in quality for hand-held electronic book readers.  Nook, from Barnes & Noble, dropped its price to $149 and started offering a color screen.  Kindle  , from Amazon dropped in price to $139 and the Kindle became their top-selling item.  The Sony ebook Reader was more affordable at $129. The marketplace moved from early adopters willing to pay several hundreds of dollars to the mass market with prices under $200 for advanced electronic book readers.  Many librarians saw the trend and adapted to increased demand for e-books by their patrons.   Many other librarians worked on denying the viability of e-books and holding on to the comfortable idea that the codex was simply better.  But with massive profits driving the suppliers, each complaint about the viability of e-books is being addressed with solutions.  And, the suppliers of e-readers attempt to make their devices behave as well or better than the traditional book:

Librarians and readers complained that reading from a computer screen was not as enjoyable as reading a book. Nook now advertises its “just-like-paper screen” and Kindle and Sony employ the same electronic technology from E-Ink .  The electronic paper screens do not have the flicker of CRTs and glare of LCD panels.  They are not back-lit such as LCD / LED screens - so text does not disappear in direct sunlight.  Some reports link use of LCD and LED screens to insomnia , but the same effect is not apparent with the E-Ink electronic paper available from new electronic book readers.

Librarians and readers complained that sharing of downloaded materials was not possible because the license was for one device, one reader Nook and Kindle have begun to address sharing and are now offering options. Market demand and profit will determine future sharing options. With such an insignificant production / advertising / distribution cost compared to traditional books – electronic books potentially have more leeway in terms of maintaining profitability for publishers and authors.

Nook offers social media options and two million titles. Kindle offers text to speech, advanced pdf reader, and Whispersync links your personal library and the progress of your reading with other devices you might own.  Sony offers Readerstore, Googlebooks, and excellent cross-platform compatibility. Each device is moving towards becoming more and more multifunctional.

Librarians complained about the lack of standardization, instructions and cross-platform compatibility. Most of those problems were derived from vendors who had failed to create adequate instructions and quickly address the needs of libraries as fluid and dynamic information marketplaces.  Conversely, with each complaint about electronic book readers, the focus of the manufacturers and suppliers is to improve.  The complaints are heard as an  opportunity to improve and move a step ahead of their competition.  Are libraries competing?

As if Kindle and Nook and Sony did not create a big enough impact, Google’s Android operating system along with Apple’s iPad  / iPhone and PC applications paved the way for multi-use handheld devices.  3G access became widespread and smartphones are able to use Nook,  Sony and Kindle applications to increase personal library access.   Android equipped devices can quickly download a Kindle or Nook application. Every smartphone can now become an electronic book reader and a mobile library.

The electronic book is here and expanding and evolving without librarians a gatekeepers.  However, there is encouraging news from many public libraries showing patron excitement over electronic book collections.  Some are offering to purchase copies for libraries.  Multiple holds for electronic books demonstrate that sharing is still one of the most effective tool of libraries.   But, if libraries are going to rely solely of vendors for delivery,  vendors must improve and address libraries as valued and dynamic information markets. One of the most promising tools available to librarians who wish to take the intellectual leap of not being entirely vendor dependent is Calibre ebook management.    This “free and open source e-book library management application” offers many features of value to librarians and their patrons.

Librarians must address competition in the information market in order to remain viable. With massive budget cuts to all public services looming, the road ahead for libraries is unknown.  However, it looks like the Tin Man will be traveling with us.

Rise of the Machines

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