Royal Reprints: Margaret Irwin

Royal Reprints: Margaret Irwin

~ Elisa Babel, MLS

Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert

England 1642.  King Charles I and Parliament clash on the battlefield.  The king’s nephew Prince Rupert of the Rhine, son of his sister Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, arrives to fight in the English royal army.  This is his story in The Stranger Prince by Margaret Irwin.

I came across The Stranger Prince during a weeding project last year.  Margaret Irwin’s name was familiar–I had read her novels about young Elizabeth I in high school.  This one was new to me.  It was a lengthy read, but I enjoyed it. I didn’t know much about Rupert prior to reading this so this novel introduced me to him.

Elizabeth Queen of Bohemia

Elizabeth Queen of Bohemia

When Irwin’s Elizabeth trilogy was reissued, I was delighted to see it again.  Much has been written about her as Queen of England, but not as much about her formative years. There are predictions for the future in the novels of how people and events will be viewed.  Popular songs of the day are incorporated as part of the story.  If you read an older edition of Elizabeth, Captive Princess, one of the paintings of Elizabeth mentioned in the story may have been included as a plate.

I haven’t read all of Irwin’s historical novels, but I enjoy her writing style. She does a wonderful job bringing the period to life. I was absorbed into Elizabeth and Rupert’s worlds and meeting the people of their day.  Irwin appears to have done her research well for her novels. I was amused with her introduction for The Stranger Prince about compiling a bibliography.

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I

Margaret Irwin (1889-1969) was a well-known English novelist. I was unable to find much biographical information about her besides a Wikipedia entry.  Irwin had a long writing career–her first novel Still She Wished for Company appeared in 1924.  In the 1930s and ’40s, she wrote several novels on the early Stuarts.  Her trilogy about young Elizabeth I prior to her ascension to the throne was published between 1944-53 and is her best known.  The novels were adapted for the 1953 movie “Young Bess” starring the late Jean Simmons in the title role.  (I came across the original review of the movie)  Irwin’s bibliography also includes short story collections and one non-fiction.

Since Irwin’s trilogy on Elizabeth I has been reissued, I hope her other novels will follow.  Whether you read Margaret Irwin years ago or a new reader, her novels are worthwhile reads.

This is the second installment about my favorite historical novelists. Finale: Eleanor Hibbert, a prolific author who used various pseudonyms over her long career.

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Civil War 150: DC

Civil War 150 : District of Columbia and Freedom Rising

~ Elisa Babel, MLS

Fort Sumter

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War–the opening salvo was at Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor in the early morning hours on April 12, 1861.

The war not only changed the nation–it also changed Washington, DC as a capitol and hometown.

Last month I read Ernest Furgurson’s Freedom Rising, a nonfiction book about DC during the Civil War years. Since I work in DC, the 150th anniversary seemed like a great time to discover the city at that time.

Furgurson writes a fascinating and informative story of how the Civil War impacted the city and shaped it to what is today. When President-elect Lincoln arrived for his inauguration in February 1861, there wasn’t much about DC to attract people for a visit. As the book progresses through the war years, Furgurson introduces the reader to the people, events, and places in the city as well as what happened officially. 

I enjoyed the descriptions of city life and neighborhoods at the time.  The landmarks mentioned are either still standing today or long gone. I recognized some of the people who came to DC for one reason or another while others I didn’t know. 

By April 1865, DC is no longer the sleepy town it once been. Black and white maps of the city are included. I enjoyed this book and learned more about DC along the way.

Around the city and in Maryland and Virginia, you can find Civil War heritage sites to discover and enjoy.  The Washington Post is featuring a special section online  of the 150th anniversary.

On April 15, Emancipation Day will be observed in the District of Columbia.  This city holiday commemorates the signing of the DC Emancipation Act signed by President Lincoln in 1862,  freeing all slaves in DC. 

This Emancipation was enacted  nine months before the more famous Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

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World Book Day and Google Book Search

 World Book Day, Copyright, and Google Book Search

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On March 22nd the Southern District Court of New York rejected the Google Books Settlement.  One of the central issues of the Google Books Settlement was the burden on Copyright holders to opt out of having their works digitized by Google.  Instead, the burden is put on Google to obtain rights by having Copyright holders opt in. What does this mean for the extraordinary database Google has constructed of digitized works?  What contents are already available in Google Books?

 On March 16th the World Book Day game was reposted from Facebook to the PubLib Listserve:

  • “It’s that time again – World Book Day. Grab the book closest to you right now. Open to page 56 and choose the 5th sentence. Publish it as your status and write these rules as a comment. Don’t choose – PICK UP the CLOSEST BOOK. Don’t say what the book is about.”

The World Book Day game on Facebook is apparently a derivation of World Book Day as explained here by Judy Turner   :

  • Briefly, the day’s official name is World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days. It is celebrated yearly,except in the UK and the Republic of Ireland where the first Thursday in March was chosen as the date. The commemoration was organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright and was first observed in 1995.

Many PubLib subscribers posted the fifth sentence on the 56th page of the book closest to them on PubLib.    Running the sentences through Google Book Search yielded many of the titles.  Google sells many of these titles through the eBookstore, so it stands to reason that many of the copyright holders would have given permission to digitize.  Do the searches that do not appear represent opting out?  It also stands to reason if the 56th page of a book is available through Google Book search, the rest of the book would also be available.  Does this mechanism of being able to search a book in its entirety still represent fair use?  And, what are the books that were closest to the PubLib readers who participated in the game?

The 56th page fifth sentences follow. The sentences do not necessarily correspond to the 56th page of the edition scanned, but each sentence was available in its entirety:

This is only a test

By similar reasoning, it was held in U.S. v. Jacobsen (1984) that field testing of a white powder uncovered by a private search was no search, as it would only reveal whether the powder was an illegal substance.” ~ Robert Balliot  – Criminal Procedure Constitutional Limitations – Jerold H. Israel and Wayne R. LaFave -2006  – ( Editor: this was not in Google Book Search – is this an example of opting out by Thomson West?)

“Locally crafted of walnut, mahogany, and sometimes cypress, these knobs are identical to examples made in the eastern United States and continued to appear on both bench-made and factory-made furniture through the nineteenth century.”~ Audrey Jo DeVillier – na

“Paul knew that if he meant to make it in show business he had to go ‘down south’, even though southerners had a reputation for being unfriendly and condescending to northerners such as himself.” ~ Mark P. Hasskarl – Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney – Page 56 – Howard Sounes – 2010 – 634 pages

“Mainly a place for jewelers to pick up stock, ordinary mortals, too, can rummage the sparklers and invest in either loose gems or unique pieces of fine jewelry.”~ Gair Helfrich – na

“”The double hit of having a tendency to form clots combined with an additional element that causes clots can lead to serious problems.” ~ Viccy Kemp – 100 Questions and Answers about Stroke: A Lahey Clinic Guide – Page 56 – Kinan K. Hreib – 2008 – 185 pages

“Like her he scanned the shadows, the deep pits of dark.” ~ Patrice Matujec – na

“And later, after her gentle care, she could see the trusting look in his eyes”. ~ Deb Yoder – A Moment in Time – Judith Gould – 2001 – 323 pages

“What these men had to eat and drink Is what we say and what we think.” ~ Myers, Leigh – Selected poems John Crowe Ransom – 1969 – 159 pages – More editions

“I can do without the snake’s help this time.” ~ Charli Osborne – na

“Like its rival Laphroaig, this [Lagavulin] is a very distinctive malt.” ~ Diane Swint Levin

“Is she awake yet?” ~ Darla Wegener – na

“”We won’t be doing that, Sheriff Barnett.'” ~ Glenda Pate – na

“It’s my mother.” ~ Betsy Cherednik - na

After agreeing to the new, harsher terms, Johnston surrendered his once-great army on April 26, 1865. ~ Melissa Davidson – Insiders’ Guide to Civil War Sites in the Southern States- John McKay – 2005 – 384 pages

When the poet Claude McKay reviewed Shuffle Along for The Liberator magazine, he made a point of praising its all-black production because some black radicals ‘were always hard on Negro comedy…hating to see themselves as a clowning race.’ ~ Kathleen Stipek – Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties- Lucy Moore – 2010 – 352 pages

“Malcolm Usrey called the book ‘a powerful and moving story, made poignant by [O'Dell's] restraint and simplicity, reflecting the stoic, proud, and quiet or passive strength of Bright Morning.'” ~ Donna Olson – Biography Today Author Series: Profiles of People of Interest to … Laurie Lanzen Harris, Cherie D. Abbey – 1996 – 190 pages

The nation’s first nonpartisan African American summit convenes April 21-23. ~ Melodie M. Franklin – The African American almanac L. Mpho Mabunda – 1997 – 1270 page

Glue and clamp together four pieces of 3/4″ x 3-1/4″ x 4-1/4″ stock to form the cab block (B). ~ Michael May - The great all-American wooden toy book Norman Marshall – 1999 – 211 pages

“4 1/2 cups water” ~ Ami Kreider – too many hits – na

“I went to Sedona’, Brenda Answered ~ Carolyn in Glasgow, MT - Fatal Error – Judith A. Jance – 2011 – 368 pages

“It’s true that I may have looked a bit New Agey, but I didn’t really need this.” ~ Margaret M. Neill – One of Our Thursdays Is Missing – Jasper Fforde – 2011 – 384 pages

Beigeschmack m (-[e]/no pl.) slight flavor; smack (of)(a. fig.) ~ Fred Beisser – The Oxford-Duden German dictionary: German-English, English-German – Page 1538  Olaf  Thyen, Michael Clark, Werner Scholze-Stubenrecht – 1999 – 1728 pages

Since then, staff have followed up and worked with them to identify things they will do. ~ Carolyn Rawles-Heiser – na

“”Eileen, achora, I hear someone come tapping.” ~ Cindy Rosser – na

Install A-B-C fire extinguishers in the home and teach family members how to use them. ~ Dianne Harmon – It’s a disaster! … and what are you gonna do about it?: a … – Page 56  Bill Liebsch, Janet Liebsch – 2006 – 268 pages

Finally Ethel walked out on him and went to perform at a Black club called Egg Harbor, then landed at Rafe’s Paradise where the patrons were white. ~ Judy Turner – na

“Dorothy showed him no respect at all.” ~ Erin – Wringer – Jerry Spinelli – 2004 – 227 pages

It was characteristic of not only the Platonic but the Xenophonic Socrates. ~ Bill Manson - na

The very worst poetry of all perished with it creator Paula Nancy millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England in the destruction of the planet Earth. ~ Diane Doty – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Page 58 Douglas Adams – 1997 – 208 pages

Those to whom the power of election is transferred must observe the provisions of law concerning an election and, for the validity of the election, they must observe the conditions attached to the compromise, unless these conditions are contrary to the law. Conditions which are contrary to the law are to be regarded as non-existent. ~ Paula Laurita – The code of canon law: new revised English translation  Catholic Church, Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Canon Law Society of Australia and New  Zealand – 1997 – 508 pages

“The boy wondered and grieved that she could not eat; and when, putting his arms around her neck, he tried to wedge some his cake into her mouth, it seemed to her that the rising in her throat would choke her.” ~ Brad Leifer – Uncle Tom’s cabin, or, Life among the lowly – Harriet Beecher Stowe – 1852

“Then he heard a rustling sound coming from the kitchen.” ~ Meegan Tosh – – na

“The brigand’s sword withdrew to strike, and Friar Lorenzo sank to his knees in submission, clutching the rosary and waiting for the slash that would cut short his prayer.” ~ Heather Murray - Juliet – Page 56 Anne Fortier – 2010 – 464 pages

The Wee Tods cooried in close, their nebs twiggin, their een skinklin like stars. ~ Gail Roberts – na

“The rep was described as what we termed “UK-6 Aristocracy Dapper-12,” which meant that he had a fine pencil mustache and spoke as though he were from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.” ~ Catherine McCullough Les –  One of Our Thursdays Is Missing –  Jasper Fforde – 2011 – 384 pages

“All the same, she saw him go with regret.”  Betty Neels, The Awakened Heart. ! ~ Carrie Braaten (Editor: not in Google Books but  the line partially repeats – A Good Wife – Page 32 Betty Neels – 2009 – 192 pages – Shall I go up?’ Serena gave him a tired ‘Hello.’She was both tired and very worried, her hair hanging down herback … be along presently,’ he told her, ‘ and I’m sure your brothers will see to everything.’ She saw him go with regret. ..) – na.

“The amount of material on reserve for a course should be reasonable in relation to the total amount of reading assigned for the course;” ~ Kim Rutter - The librarian’s copyright companion – Page 56 James S. Heller – 2004 – 257 pages

“She is not for sale,” the father answered. ~ Marla – na

However, Sebastiano gained his greatest fame after moving to Rome in 1511. ~ Jessica Rogoz - The World Book Encyclopedia: Volume 1  World Book, Inc – 2007 – 22 pages

Most teams don’t have such a complete back; they’re more likely to have one of each, so defenses can take their next cues from the formation. ~ Sandra Ferguson – na

“Provides training and educational assistance to build a productive workforce.” ~ James B. Casey - Illinois handbook of government Illinois. Office of Secretary of State – 2001

I will continue to nurse, ride on her ody, and sleep in her nest for more than six years. ~ Judi Bugniazet – na

box of W’s. ~ Jane Carle – na

“There’ll be lots of little things like this, won’t there?” he says, sliding into the right-hand side of the bed. ~ Meredith Crosby – The Poison Tree – Erin Kelly – 2011 – 336 pages

“Eventually runners, if they survive to their eighteenth birthday, can become more of a liability than an asset.” ~ Carol Sheffer – Channel Surfing with God – Page 56 – Gary Fisher – 2009 – 267 pages

La negligencia en la otorgación del permiso de la minera San José, la falta de control respecto a situaciones precedentes y la inexistent supervisión de sus labores, se mantiene como el principal argumento del gobierno del presidente Sebastián Piñera ante los cuestionamientos opositores por el despido de Alejandro Vio, ex director del Sernageomin y responsable administrativo del desastre. ~ Kathi Kemp - Vivos Bajo Tierra/ Alive Underground: La historia verdadera de los …Manuel Pino, Manuel Pino Toro – 2011 – 272 pages

The child needs to get a job as well, which intensifies time pressure when it comes to studying. ~ Robert E. Perone – Ten minute guide – stress management – Page 91 – Jeff Davidson – 2001 – 192 pages

“And now,” said Susan, “what do we do next?” ~ Deborah Shepherd – The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe – Page 55 Clive Staples Lewis, Pauline Baynes – 2000 – 189 pages

All the lanterns were shuttered halfway so that a cool twilight suffused the air, lending an ethereal feel to the event. ~ Laurenne Teachout -Eldest – Page 56 – Christopher Paolini – 2007 – 704 pages

Boothe Homestead Museum gives tours Tuesday through Friday and weekend afternoons. ~ Cheryl Marriage – Off the beaten path: a travel guide to more than 1,000 scenic and … – Page 56 – Reader’s Digest – 2003 – 384 pages

“An evil prophecy is always fulfilled, if you put no time limit upon it; fulfilled quite readily, too, if you are a child counting little misfortunes as disasters.” ~ Ramona Lucius – The searchers – Alan Le May – 1954 – 272 pages

“Barbara came in bearing a tray of cups and saucers and a pot of hot chocolate.” ~ Deborah McLaughlin – American Taliban: A Novel – Page 56 – Pearl Abraham – 2010 – 258 pages

A rubber imitation softball, for instance, at something over 3″ in diameter, has it uses. ~ Judy Anderson – Musical instrument design: practical information for instrument making – Page 56 Bart Hopkin – 1996 – 181 pages

“In my experience there are three reasons why a boy will want to take out a book on poetry: 1. to impress a girl 2.for a class assignment 3.to impress a girl.” ~ Beth Dailey Kenneth – Bruiser – Page 56 Neal Shusterman – 2010 – 336 pages

“Until it receives a determination letter, the organization is required to file income tax returns and pay the applicable tax.” ~ John Richmond – na

“Some people set up routines or choose cues in order to build these moments of mindfulness into their day.” ~ Joanne Cronin – na

“The fall of communism was the result of a much longer process, and the popular protests were just its most visible, but not necessarily most important, component.”  ~ R.  C. Rybnikar  – na

I just need to know that nobody’s reading over my shoulder, about to ask me what I’m writing. ~ Sarah Howison – Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel –  Jacqueline Winspear – 2007 – 336 pages

“I waited for another crack of thunder, thinking one surely had to follow a statement like that.” ~ Liz A. Vagani – na

In the was a brick oven carrying a large pan; beside it stood a rattan basket filled to the brim with pieces of charcoal. ~ sherry hupp - Judge Dee at Work: Eight Chinese Detective Stories – Page 56 – Robert Hans van Gulik – 2007 – 184 pages

“She didn’t know the real Eddie.” ~ Janet – na

What he needed was to dull his senses as much as he could, staying just sober enough not to be completely tongue-tied. ~ Connie Jo Ozinga – na

From the beer bottles strewn about like passed out drunks, and the cheese doodle dust coating his chest and face, it was pretty clear what he’d been up to. ~ David Faulkner – Red-Headed Stepchild – Jaye Wells – 2009 – 342 pages

“Or at least buy you a book on tactics to bolster your metaphors.” ~ Mary Wilkes Towner – – The Orchid Affair – Lauren Willig – 2011 – 405 pages

“An indoor botanical conservatory, two wedding chapels, and the Spa Tower complete the extravagant picture.” ~ Daniela Yew – Fodor’s Las Vegas 2010 – Page 56 –  Fodor’s – 2009 – 392 pages

“Later Longie Zwillman, the so-called ‘Al Capone of New Jersey’ , took Doc’s place.” ~ Michael Gregory – Encyclopedia of world crime: criminal justice, criminology, and …: Volume 1
– Jay Robert Nash – 1990 – 4500 pages

“To be sure, unlike Dana, the movement’s advocates were not attempting to democratize taste.” ~ Malakia Oglesby – na

“Wishing for my leg back.” ~ Susan Riley - na

“At one end of the bar the television set was on, but the sound had been muted.” ~ Celia Bandelier – P is for peril – Sue Grafton – 2001 – 352 pages

“A robot is already a spare part.” ~ Brock Peoples – na

“He furnished himself with shirts and all the other things he could, following the advice the innkeeper had given him; and when this had been accomplished and completed, without Panza taking leave of his children and wife, or Don Quixote of his housekeeper and niece, they rode out of the village one night, and no one saw them, and they traveled so far that by dawn they were certain they would not be found even if anyone came looking for them.” ~ Lisa Guidarini –  The First Part of the Delightful History of the Most Ingenious … –  Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra – 1909

“Other patrons push their chairs back; the front door opens and shuts, then opens but doesn’t shut as Hattie steels herself to explain about radon, and about how the cancer had already spread by the time they found it – to his liver and brain before anyone knew a thing. “ ~ Laura Carroll - World and Town – Page 56 – Gish Jen – 2010 – 386 pages

Badawi scratched his chin thoughtfully. ~ Ann Perrigo – na

“Frey and others such as Versaci are part of a growing number of educators encouraging read3ers to see comics as a legitimate literary form.” ~ Joann D. Verostko – na

“An old and inconvenient term still used to designate a color mixed with black.” ~ Teresa – na

Swaz si des uber Rin mit ir zen Hiunen brahte, daz muose gar zergeben sin. ~ Lucy Roehrig - Deutsche Grammatik: Volume 1; Volume 4 – Gustav Roethe, Edward Schröder – 1989

“We’re authorized by the Department of Extraordinary Affairs to take you into custody for the possible murder of Professor Mason Redfield.” ~ Pat Mathews – Dead Waters- Anton Strout – 2011 – 335 pages

“Aren’t you forgetting something else?” said Katie acidly. “Like, um, the vents?” ~ Terry Ann Lawler – na

“The very nicest.” ~ Cheryl Schubert – na

World Book Day sentence results

Word Map of Results

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Royal Reprints: Margaret Campbell Barnes

Royal Reprints: Margaret Campbell Barnes

~ Elisa Babel, MLS

Elizabeth of York

A young English princess tries on her wedding gown with excitement only for her betrothal to the French Dauphin to be broken shortly afterwards.  So begins the first chapter of The Tudor Rose, a novel about Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII.  I knew who she was but what was she like?  This wonderful novel by the late English novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes provided an answer for me.

Margaret Campbell Barnes (1891-1962) began her career by writing for various leading British literary publications before turning to historical fiction.  Her agents at Curtis Brown Ltd. encourage her to write historical novels.  She wrote ten novels between 1944-62.  In 1944 her son Michael’s death in World War II combat operation devasted her and her husband Peter.  Her love for her son shines in her writing.  (A fuller biography may be found in any of her reissued novels)

I first discovered Margaret Campbell Barnes in high school.  The copy of The Tudor Rose  in my high school library wasn’t very distinctive on the shelf: it was a hardback rebound with the title engraved on the spine.  (I don’t remember if any of Barnes’s novels were there)  I went on to read other historical fiction novels but I didn’t forget this novel. Years would pass before I saw it again…

Tudor Rose

What I enjoy about Barnes’s novels is her writing style and how she brings her subject and the time period to life. As I read, I feel I’m watching what’s happening: the battles, political upheaval, murder, vying for the throne, feasts and royal pageantry, and domestic life. The individual people in her novels, both well-known and lesser known, come alive on the pages.  Because it’s actual history, there are no surprises about the ending. The way Barnes tells the story will have you wanting to know. Barnes follows the historical records about her subjects accurately, and she includes an acknowledgement about her research in her novels.  As an undergrad history major, I appreciate that.

If you enjoyed reading Margaret Campbell Barnes when you were younger, you’ll be delighted her novels have been reissued with beautiful covers after being out of print for many years. I’ve bought four of the reissues including The Tudor Rose. Three of them were new to me so I was in for a treat. (My second favorite is My Lady of Cleves)  Below is a list of Barnes’s reissued novels in chronological order in English history and their original publication dates:

The Passionate Brood (1944)

Within the Hollow Crown (1947)

The Tudor Rose (1953)

Brief Gaudy Hour (1949)

King’s Fool (1959)

My Lady of Cleves (1946)

Mary of Carisbrooke (1956)

This is the first in a three part series about my favorite historical fiction novelists.  Next installment: Margaret Irwin.

 

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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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What about nonfiction?

Familiar with doing readers advisory for fiction but not for nonfiction?  Why should fiction get all the attention?  Nonfiction books can be just as fun to read too.  For doing readers advisory for nonfiction, here’s a valuable reference tool: The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Nonfiction by Neal Wyatt, published by ALA Editions.

Why I bought it:  I wanted to learn about how it’s possible to do readers advisory for nonfiction.

My take:  This was an informative and interesting book.  In the first two chapters Wyatt discusses how to do readers advisory for nonfiction, the four elements of nonfiction, and how to offer the service to the patron.  Popular subjects such as food and cooking, science, sports, memoirs, travel, and history are covered.  The remainder of nonfiction subjects receives its own chapter.  (How-to and reference books are excluded)  I liked how the topical areas within a subject are broken out and explained. Well-known titles are presented at the end of the chapters.  (Additionally Appendix B presents those well-known books in a list format by subject)  Wyatt ends with a chapter of  suggestions about how to learn and promote your nonfiction collection and the kinds of aids you can use for patrons to explore more about their favorite subject.  (For example, you can present nonfiction books with a novel based on the subjects covered in the story)    Just as you would for fiction, read nonfiction widely too!  Bridge the Dewey divide, Wyatt writes. 

Bottom line:  Worth reading!  I learned a lot from reading this book.  Great for those new to public librarianship or have been practicing in the field.

Editors note: ($47.70 from Amazon with free shipping – $53.00 from ALA and $47.70 from ALA  *if you are a member *. . . hmmm)

To blog readers: On a personal note, I changed divisions within my library.  After two years of working in fiction, I transferred to the History & Biography section of our Social Sciences Division in early summer.  I had been there before working in our fiction division.  My undergrad degree is in history so its my area.  Because I’m in a specific subject area, it’ll give me an opportunity to relearn the collection and explore what we’ve got on our shelves.

Elisa Babel, MLS

Best of PubLib 03.28.10

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

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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: 

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