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 – November 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 November 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.
 
 
Publib Topics November 2011

Publib Topics November 2011

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – September 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 September 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.
 
Some of the more active threads include: a continued discussion of LSSI from August , Amazon in Competition with Libraries ,  Book or E-bookBedbugs ,  and an assortment of DVD Issues.
 
Publib Topics September 2011

Publib Topics September 2011

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – March 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 March 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 Publib. Publib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
Publib March 2011

Publib Topics March 2011

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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

Catalog – encore © 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

Catalog –  encore © 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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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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Best of PubLib 03.28.10

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

Provocative video suitable for all audiences coming soon

This edition of  Best of Publib covers  March 15th through March 28th 2010. This PubLib review and analysis includes questions about naming library rooms, thought-provoking discussions about new media archives , library materials security,  and our new poll on R-rated movie access. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include: 

Take our Poll!

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