31 October 2011

the digital divide . . . now less than 5 years.

my dearest readers,

the digital divide
is measured not
in distance,
but in time.

Last one to cross the Digital Divide is a rotten egg!
Digital Mural by Los Cybrids
rené garcía-john jota leaños-mónica praba pilar
Galería de la Raza 10' x 24' 2001

there are two (actually three) things that have come to mind this morning which prompted this post. i will cover two today, the other soon. really, soon. seriously. oh, shut up!

the first is the evolution of the electronic book and its acceptance into 'society.' yes, even without a debutante ball, the e-book has come out not with a whimper, but with a bang. a few years ago, pundits learned and unlearned alike, were debating the demise of . . . 'the book.' (insert voice of james earl jones here). the "techno-futurists" vs. the "but i love the way it feels" factions. oh, the book, the beloved book. well, i'm here to tell you . . . they both won. we still have books made of papers and books made of zeros and ones.

but look at the concessions being made in that old-fashioned medium, print newspapers:

times will rank e-book bestsellers
wall street journal to debut e-book best seller lists provided by nielsen
usa today's best-selling books list continues to add digital sales information

so, maybe, the slight edge goes to the techno-futurists?

headlines i've been reading over the past couple of years:

math that moves: schools embrace the iPad
more high schools implement iPad programs
iPads for every high school student in michigan district

and now this (in my own backyard). lexington sc will give iPads to every high school student in lexington district 1.

and so much research:

impact on the iPad on k-12 schools
apple for the teachers: iPad shows promise in the classroom

it seems as though "they" think that the way to help k-12 students learn, develop and grow is by arming them with technology. bridging the technological gap that can occur between school and home by giving them tablets (okay, iPads) to basically "own." sorry, android :-(

but what about the "after-k-12'ers?" last year, studies suggested college students still preferred monographs to annotate, highlight, research, etc, regardless of how much they weigh (estimated to be, sometimes, up to 30 pounds).

how about now? part two in "the digital divide...now less than 5 years." coming soon. of course, soon is relative.

THUMBS UP TO: the night circus by erin morgenstern. READ IT!!! trust me. it's wonderful!

THUMBS DOWN TO: the autobiography of mrs tom thumb by melanie benjamin. obnoxious comes in all sizes. even munchkin. blech.

08 October 2011

the library's naked because it's clothes were stolen!!

helloooooo, dear readers.

in today's episode of a naked library, i'm going to introduce you to a topic that i have not covered in all my sundry and varied highly entertaining posts (cue suspense music) . . . piracy!!

aaarrgghh, mateys!! shiver me timbers and yo, ho, ho...piracy is the little secret that's not so secret that still dances around the periphery of the e-book discussion.

now, knowing my readership like i do (and i do), i know that you are probably not familiar with this piracy thing of which i speak. you are picturing peg legs, eye patches, parrots and big barrels of rum. and as fun as that all is, it's not really the piracy i'm talking about.

if you walk into a brick and mortar store, pick up a book and proceed to the exit without FIRST stopping at the cash register, that is shoplifting or, in essence, stealing.

piracy is the word you use when you steal e-books. i don't know why it's not called e-stealing or compu-thievery or some such but anyway...

so now you're asking why, pray tell, would one steal (or pirate) an e-book when they are so reasonably priced? isn't that one of the things that makes e-books so attractive (along with their portability)? and you would be right that $9.99 is certainly better than $24.95 but nothing is ever better than FREE! just like buying a book discounted 40% at barnes & noble is better (cheaper) than paying retail at your friendly neighborhood indie bookstore (if you still have one).

intrigued?? i suppose you want to know how one would go about procuring one of these pirated books? i don't know why you're asking me!!! like i would know about these things?? well, lucky for you, i have done extensive "research" on this topic for you, dear reader, but only at the surface level. there is a whole 'nother lower level of piracy and swapping only referred to in rumor and innuendo.

two popular file sharing sites are piratebay and demonoid. these are websites that engage in file sharing and torrent tracking. torrents are how files get shared on these sites - basically pieces of files are hosted by individuals and uploaded separately, yet creating the whole file at the end. kinda. sorta. basically.

anyway, i'm always reading that piracy is an issue for mainstream publishing but not too much, not yet. at least not in the way that led to the music industry's near-demise due to file sharing sites like napster and limewire. and "they" are always surprised when they look at the top "pirated books" on these sites.

top 5 most popular books on piratebay are:
  1. porn star secrets of sex (NO, i am not linking. sheesh)
  2. never be lied to again (yea, right)
  3. men's health magazine nov 2011 UK edition (buff brits?)
  4. how to instantly connect with anyone (as long as they're not lying to you)
  5. how to win every argument (in the event you catch them lying to you)
top 5 on demonoid:
  1. girls of gaming magazine (men...hmph)
  2. the complete A+ guide to pc repair (who wants to pay somebody)
  3. ny times bestseller combined print & e-book 10-09-11 (whoa..we'll get to this)
  4. work smarter with speed reading (have you seen the size of that A+ pc repair guide?)
  5. the 8 second secret: the scientifically proven method for lasting weight loss (no comment)
yes, #3 on demonoid is the majority of fiction and non-fiction titles currently on the new york times best seller list.

you mean piracy isn't just for nerdy computer guys who wanna look at girls and get buff? i'm afraid not, dear reader, unless they've turned to reading "the help" in their spare time.

what does this mean for libraries? what, indeed! piracy is like borrowing ebooks from the library but without any DRM restriction and i can keep it forever. i can share it, copy it, put it on multiple devices in multiple formats, basically do whatever i want with it. kinda like when i used to buy a book. or even borrow one from the library. i could let my friend read it as long as he gave it back before it was due.

now maybe academic libraries won't have to worry because who is going to pirate some academic tome or physics textbook. oh, i know . . . those pesky, innovative students who are always looking for a way to save money and shove it to the man. if i can get all my textbooks and supplemental tomes online for free . . . i won't need to go to the library or the college bookstore. or what if i take this book i bought, scan it into my computer, save it and upload to one of those pesky file sharing sites for my fellow collegiate brethren who are being oppressed by the man?

i think this scenario is a little farther out than not, but there are LOTS of textbooks on these sites and the numbers are growing. i didn't even address the software, games, and, yes, music that are uploaded to these sites as well.

just something i was thinking about.

happy reading . . . no matter the format (that i'm sure you paid for fair and square).

ps - there is a facebook page called stop book piracy now. it has 50 fans. michael jackson's facebook page has 34,601,787 fans (and he's dead). i hope the book isn't far behind.

30 September 2011

the trinity that is . . . amazon kindle fire-ryness

dear readers!!! i am BACK! back from the land of solitary seriousness and here to discuss the major announcement (before the major announcement about the iphone 5), that is.

the announcement from amazon!!! i know you've heard. don't tell me you haven't heard.

jeff bezos and the amazon team have knocked...it...out...the...box. not only did they create new kindle e-readers (keyboardless, also known as TOUCH) but they created a mobile browser (amazon silk) AND a new tablet called the kindle fire!!

i'm sorry, i should have warned you to take a seat before all of this. but this is even bigger than when i said library lending with overdrive and kindle was big. because this is amazon telling you that they are all you need if you wanna read on a mobile device. of course, a mobile device that doesn't have a camera or a microphone or is an actual phone. but other than that, amazon is the one-stop-shop you need.

the graphic above (yes, i created that one myself) illustrates what i call the trinity that is amazon fire. amazon's entry into the tablet market is a slight departure in terms of power and capability so in that sense it is NOT (i repeat, NOT) an iPad killer. but their foray into the touch e-reader market could be a barnes & noble nook killer and here's why:

FIRST - price. the original nook (which is touch) is currently priced at $139. the new kindle touch wifi is $99. yes, NINETY-NINE dollars. but wait, the kindle touch 3G (always on, download from anywhere) is $149. so, for only $10 more, i get free 3G. mr riggio?? hear that whooshing sound? that's profits being sucked away by amazon. i won't even mention the non-touch kindle wifi that's jut $79. oops, i mentioned it.

2ND - selection. not only do amazon kindles have access to the largest selection of books (i'm talking "to purchase") in the world (i daresay) but coupled with their partnership with overdrive to enable library borrowing, the selection and convenience are hard to beat.

but now for the big show. drumroll, please...

the amazon kindle fire, which is amazon's entry into the tablet market. the kindle fire is a 7" tablet, it's wi-fi and it's color which is comparable to barnes & noble's nook color. that's pretty much where the similarities end. because what sets the kindle fire apart from everyone else are the 2nd and 3rd pieces of the trinity - silk and cloud, or as i like to say, the silky cloud.

amazon has created a dedicated browser for the kindle fire, called amazon silk (which, of course, is now rumored to soon be available for PC and Android). this browser is optimized to work with the other two pieces of the trinity, the fire and the cloud. so don't let the fact that it only has 8GB of internal memory (enough for 80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books) bother you because the third piece of the trinity, the cloud, comes into play right here.

you won't need much internal storage because you will be using the cloud (cue angelic harp ahhh sounds). the amazon cloud to be exact. this is where you will be able to store hundreds and thousands of things. but, in addition, the cloud is a machine that is processing your kindle fire actions so that the kindle fire doesn't have to. hence, it doesn't need major processors or internal storage. it's all happening in the cloud, freeing up the kindle fire to do what it does for you. so your browsing and e-reading are as fast and seamless as possible. (i sound like an ad for kindle fire. hmmm....jeff bezos are you listening. i could use one of those fires...)

how is amazon using this cloud technology to boost its browser? heck if i know, but the folks over at tom's hardware website do a pretty good job of explaining it.

so, in essence, what jeff bezos has done is change the landscape of consumer expectation for tablets. sy syms used to say, "an educated consumer is our best customer." i'm not sure that amazon's competitors will agree. once they figure out that my side of things will be smoother and faster, that will be the new level of service expected from every piece of computer hardware.

however, cnet news answers a question comparing the kindle fire to an apple iPod Touch. interesting. she gives a great breakdown on some of the downsides of the kindle fire.

fiery silken clouds. the future of reading? i have no idea...google it!

happy reading . . . no matter the format . . . even on fiery silken clouds.

28 September 2011

a rare serious post...

i'm sure, dearest of dedicated readers, that you are wondering, what, pray tell, could be so serious as to require a serious blog post on this most entertaining of blogs. well, a story that comes out of our esteemed colleague of a state on the west coast, california. the city, san diego.

see the student over there? he is sleeping peacefully amongst the stacks of the copley library at the university of san diego. but, little does he know of what goes on behind the doors of the hallowed halls within.

the story: 8 library employees were laid off at the university of san diego. these layoffs were made to "bring the library into the 21st century." [make sure you read the comments at the end of the article.]

the journal 'inside higher education,' gives excellent coverage, i think, of both sides of the argument here. what skills are relevant and necessary for library faculty and staff to have (or procure) in support of the academic curriculum and mission of their respective universities and colleges?

the library loon places some responsibility (blame) on individual staff and faculty who either don't keep up with current trends, don't attend professional development courses or use conferences as "kaffeeklatches."

but, imho, the most interesting point of the whole debate is the fact that the university of san diego is a roman catholic institution. according to some faculty there, layoffs do not support one of the core values in the university’s mission statement which is to uphold the “Catholic moral and social tradition by its commitment to serve with compassion, to foster peace, and to work for justice.” in essence, it's morally wrong to fire people.

some of the people laid off had been with the university for many years, a couple were close to retirement age.

the administration's position (including the university librarian) maintains the reorganization of the university’s Copley Library was necessary to keep the library on track with the ongoing progression of technology. critics argue that these individuals could be trained (or re-trained) in essential skills.

over at blog u, a part of 'inside higher education' website, the discussion centers on library jobs, library/staff distinctions, and 'necessary' reorganizations and unnecessary reorganizations.

so, what of it? who knew? when did this debate begin? have i been blind to the plight of my brethren and brethrenesses (yes, i made it up - i can't be serious all the time).

i daresay...no. for i am one of those staff people. ever since entering academia four years ago, i have been constantly questioning the library as place and my place in the library. as a circulation supervisor, i see circulation numbers and gate count numbers and dwindling physical monograph collections and think...

is what i do important (or even necessary) anymore? and who will tell me? the patron? administration? steve jobs? amazon?

in all the talk of library 2.0 and the library as place, did we forget about the people? do we leave our humanity behind when we embrace technology? will we value only those humans who can harness the future that is electronic? or out in the cloud?

barbara fisher from gustavus adolphus college in minnesooooota wraps it up pretty succinctly in her column on library journal's website. the title: what do we want? change! when do we want it? yesterday!

happy reading . . . no matter the format . . . for now!

thumbs up! the illumination by kevin brockmeier. stories of what happens when you can see people's pain, literally.

ps - yes i will be discussing the big news that is the amazon kindle fire, new touch kindles, amazon silk mobile browser and the cloud. here's a bit from information week. the power that is . . . amazon! stay tuned...

22 September 2011

naked librarians!!! how will we know...

...IF, dear readers, the library truly becomes naked, meaning without books.

[note: i grew up in new york and i don't ever recall visiting the particular library referenced in the picture. i'm just sayin']

Overdrive announced that it has 11,000 libraries loaning e-books in amazon kindle format.

now, if you have been a constant, considerate reader of this blog, you know we have covered the many ways in which amazon has made their kindle format accessible to the masses. they have kindle reading apps available for smartphones, pcs, and their own specific amazon kindle e-reading device. they even created their own app to skirt around apple's new rule barring companies from allowing purchases within their own apps. (that's another story for another day and, probably, another person's blogger).

yesterday's announcement regarding overdrive, public libraries and amazon is big, Big, BIG!! isn't it? i'll get to that in a moment.

voila! the moment is here. imho, the biggest reason this is a BIG announcement is the accessibility factor coupled with the NAME recognition. public libraries, especially, have already moved toward e-book collections and many (my local greenville county library) included, allow for downloading of e-books and audiobooks to personal computers and mobile devices (iphones, ipods, mp3 players, etc). i have a kindle and now i can read semi-new books for free? and i don't have to leave my chair? i don't have to worry about gas, traffic, remembering my library card, overdue fines (!!). wow!

wow for the patron, woe for the library. but the library started it. they offered, i accepted.

why would a library do that? don't they want to see me? don't they want me to browse? i mean in the library. sure, i can browse online, but the e-collection is not nearly as vast as the monograph collection. and that doesn't even include CDs and DVDs and the juvenile collection. so what gives?

beats me. i guess it's a brave, new world after all. all i know is that i like it. but it still worries me. i feel a little bit of guilt. like i'm contributing to the downfall of the library. the same way i ran the record store out of business. and borders bookstore. and those nice people that used to make floppy disks. and the fairies who made princess phones. *sigh*

is the time of the library passing by? do people really think libraries are just book warehouses for people to borrow books because they're too cheap to buy them?

or is this the natural progression and evolution of "the library?" can a library be virtual and still be a library?

happy reading . . . no matter the format!

thumbs up: the night circus by erin morgenstern (LOVED IT!)
thumbs down: the elegance of the hedgehog by muriel barbery (i couldn't get into it)

23 August 2011

college students, ebooks and sex...whoa! wha?


once again, science has come to the rescue to tell you what you didn't know you didn't want to know.

according to a survey sponsored by kno, inc (an education software company and purveyor of e-textbooks...hmmmm), a quarter of college students would give up sex to never have to carry around a textbook. hah! where did they give this survey, liberty university??

okay, granted textbooks can be expensive, not to mention heavy, but giving up sex? seriously?

all jokes aside, ahem, the study points to concerns that students have regarding using (or not using) e-books (or e-textbooks) inside (and outside) of the classroom.

one concern expressed was that "most college students (78 percent) don’t think that their professors are currently doing enough to enhance their learning experience with technology, such as with online tutorials or digital textbooks." So even if students are willing to forego "extra-curricular physical activities," it doesn't mean they'll get buy-in from their professors.

i would love to "embrace" the findings of this study, except that it was completed in one week, based on the responses of 506 students and sponsored by an e-textbook seller. at last check, there were approximately 14 MILLION higher education students in the united states. you do the math (i'm not good at it). but it does beg the question of what will it take for higher education students (and faculty) to embrace or at least embark on the adoption and integration of e-book technology?

is it really faculty holding students back from purchasing e-books? we're not talking about a dedicated e-reading device, such as the amazon kindle or barnes & noble nook. soooo, what is it?

habit is one reason. students know how to buy books from the bookstore or order books from an online retailer (okay, amazon). availability is another. i did a small experiment myself with one student and six texts required for one class. 4 of the 6 texts were not available in an electronic format. BUT, the student hadn't even considered investigating electronic format. this was a particular bailywick when amazon first introduced kindles and many academic titles (and some lesser titles) were not available in kindle format.

and what about the state of e-book collections in library catalogs? here's an interesting article from almost 2 years ago on how patrons would be accessing e-books.

so, i guess the lesson for now, with the exception of iPads, is hurry up...and wait.

happy reading...and other things...no matter the format!

24 July 2011

alice isn't in disneyworld anymore!

dear readers, (plural, as optimism reigns)

it occurred to me today as i was weighing the options between cleaning off my dining room table (it's used more for mail and stuff than dining) and cleaning my kitchen (don't ask) that i don't think i ever talked about the alternatives to print books. this is a blog about a naked library, life without books or with less, blah blah blah. but e-books and book apps - haven't actually covered them specifically. and so, in order to avoid one of two unworthy tasks (well, tasks that can surely wait until later...in the week), i give you ... the storybook apps i like.

anyway, i admit it...i am a book junkie. or what i thought was a book junkie. but what i really am is a story junkie. although i have been known to judge a book by its cover(s), it's what's between those covers that intrigues me. isn't the best part of reading the anticipation when you open that cover? that feeling of excitement and expectation? like going on vacation! i don't know what's to come but it could be exciting!!

i own an amazon kindle and an iPod touch. i use an apple iPad through work. so i have 3 of the 4 (if you include the barnes & noble nook) most popular devices capable of reading electronic books at my disposal and i have used them all to read books and magazines. and i still get that same tingle, that same excitement when i get to the first page, even if it's electronic.

storybook apps for the iPad clearly have the upper hand in the development of e-book reading apps and prompted this blog post. specifically, the fantastic flying books of mr. morris lessmore.

you may have heard about e-book apps when apple first introduced the iPad. alice in wonderland for iPad created by atomic antelope, a digital publishing company, takes advantage of the iPad's beautiful color screen. the huffington post claimed it "reinvents reading." it requires interaction with the reader beyond comprehending words. there is touching and shaking and swiping and all things iPad related. revolutionary for a book? i'd say evolutionary, for sure.

having a 4-year old grandson has given me reasons to investigate e-books beyond the text-based versions found on kindles, nooks and kobos. even going beyond the prettier versions found through apple's iBooks app, where books "look like books" and the pages turn "like books." hence what i realize to be a fundamental difference: e-books are usually electronic versions of text-based print books. but children's picture books were a different story(see what i did there? different STORY?) storybook apps are usually color, require some input from the reader, and aimed toward children.

up until now, my favorite storybook apps were the three little pigs created by nosy crow, popout! the tale of peter rabbit and sandra boynton's the going to bed book, both created by loud crow interactive. apparently companies with crow in their names are pretty good at this app stuff. the three little pigs is narrated in a british accent and is fun. peter rabbit is classically illustrated and follows more of a pop-up book format while the going to bed book clearly held on to the color and whimsy that IS sandra boynton.

but the storybook that has captured my imagination and my heart is "the fantastic flying books of mr. morris lessmore." created by moonbot studios, it's based on a short film of the same name. it is visually stunning, the story is enchanting, and it's a testament to the beauty of storytelling and animation.

now some may argue that it's not a book, that it's closer to a movie. or maybe an animated short. but i say...who cares! if you can use a little enchanting, check out the movie or the app!

happy reading...no matter the format.

recommended reading:

thumbs up: the sisters brothers by patrick dewitt
thumbs down: the glass books of the dream eaters by g.w. dahlquist (a friend reminded me how much i did NOT like this one) one of the amazon reviewers exclaimed, "life is too short." indeed!

12 July 2011

where are the books? and the bookkeepers?

hello, dear readers

it's time, according to time magazine, for me to revisit the basis for which this entire blog was founded (more or less)...the naked library. see what i did there? "time," according to "time" magazine. oh, i crack me up.

the library without books. which would be called something else, i'm sure, maybe a warehouse, or an empty room, or i guess it depends on what else is inside it.

ask any joe or jane on the street to name a building with books in it, probably 8 out of 10 would say library. the other 2 might say bookstore. so if a building doesn't have books in it, can it still be called a library?

what if it's a building with chairs, computers and e-book collections that you can access through those computers. would that make it a library? what if you add a cafe?

now, of course, i'm only talking about the physical structure. the library as 'place' (ugh!). but on time magazine's website, there is an article titled, "bookless library trend: designing space for digital learning." isn't bookless library an oxymoron?

oed (oxford english dictionary, of course) definition of library: a place set apart to contain books for reading, study, or reference. (Not applied, e.g. to the shop or warehouse of a bookseller.) note that the definition says contain books (but not what kind - could be e-books, perhaps?)

merriam-webster dictionary: a place in which literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (as books, manuscripts, recordings, or films) are kept for use but not for sale. hmmm, interesting. not specific to books. there is also an alternate definition: a collection of cloned DNA fragments that are maintained in a suitable cellular environment and that usually represent the genetic material of a particular organism or tissue. who knew? doesn't mention books at all.

encyclopedia brittanica:
collection of information resources, in print or in other forms, that is organized and made accessible for reading or study. double hmmm, more interesting still. the word "OR" regarding other forms. not "AND." curious?

the most striking part of this blog post - i got none of these definitions from a book. okay, hold on...brb.

okay, 78 steps and 3 minutes later (i work in a library close to the research assistance desk), i have gone to the webster's 3rd new international dictionary (the physical print volume) for the definition of library: a room, a section or series of sections of a building or a building itself given over to books, manuscripts, musical scores or other literary and sometimes artistic materials, as paintings or musical recordings usually kept in some convenient order for use but not for sale. i love the term "given over" as if there was some sort of invasion of marching tomes. i do find it interesting that this was the only definition that mentioned "some convenient order" as opposed to organized.

now, i'm not complaining here, but in less time than it took me to walk over to that dictionary, i got the previous 3 definitions online. in using the actual book, i had to look up the book as opposed to having the book look it up for me. minor inconveniences, yes, but i blame the industrial revolution!!

now, back to the time magazine article. it mentions drexel university's new library learning terrace, with nary a book in site. "we don't just house books, we house learning," they say.

kansas state's fiedler library - "fiedler library is designed primarily as an electronic library," they say.

stanford university's terman engineering library - pruned all but 10,000 volumes to make room for tables and study space. everything else is (or should be) available e-lectronically.

univ of texas-san antonio/applied engineering and technology library - labeled "the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus."

what's a library for? books or information? information or guidance to information? where are the bookkeepers?

as for bookkeepers, i really mean librarians. who are they? what are they? if there are no books, does that make a librarian any less a librarian? is he/she now an informarian? hey, i like that. although i hate the term, maybe librarians really are media specialists now. or information manipulators? or locators? human divining rods? will they be any less so if a library doesn't contain actual books?

maybe our love of libraries comes from its physical, tactical nature. we are, after all, human. humans, usually, judge things through the senses. if something's rotten in denmark, we know it. can we still find a love for literature if we can't wander the stacks, using our sight to guide us. our brains to process the information on that all-important inside flap? maybe we're afraid that we won't be able to get as much if it's not laid out in front of us in a physical manner. maybe we're just . . . afraid. is this evolution or revolution?

just something to think about...while you're wandering the stacks of your librarian or the aisles of your bookstore, or the electronic bookshelves of amazon or google books. because no matter what or how, a good story is still a good story.

happy reading, no matter the format!

book review: two thumbs WAY up for these YA titles: the girl who circumnavigated fairyland in a ship of her own making by catherynne valente (author of palimpsest-definitely NOT a YA title) and noah barleywater runs away by john boyne (author of the boy in the striped pajamas-definitely another wonderful YA title).

two thumbs down, so far: the borrower by rebecca makkai (annoying protagonist)

27 June 2011

two-face isn't only a batman character

soooooo, dear readers, it has been a while since my last post, and actually i have nothing new to report regarding kindles, iPads, nooks, kobos or the like. i think the dust is still settling, but according to recent reviews, the new nook touch is superior to the kindle3, but kindle3 still has all those gosh-darn amazon books available for it.

have i mentioned a wonderful program called calibre? this program converts e-book formats so that you can read basically any format on your e-reader of choice. i LOVE it. i received an amazon kindle as a gift from a "now" dear friend, (THANX BARB!!) and i use it almost daily. but i don't buy every book i read from amazon. calibre helps me convert books to the .mobi format, which is kindle-friendly. if you have an e-reader or you use any e-reading app or program on your smartphone or laptop, you HAVE to have calibre. but enough of that.

what i really want to talk about is publishing. publishing and the average consumer. and even if you are a librarian, you are still an average consumer. meaning that, chances are, you are not publishing or producing printed works for your library collection. you are purchasing those works (or e-content) from publishers and vendors.

if you know me or follow my blog, you know that i read. a lot. of different things. all the time. i can't help it. and some of the things i read are various book reviews and book review publications, such as publishers weekly. i was reading that very publication when i came across a starred review for a book titled, boxer, beetle by ned beauman. beauman was a finalist for the 2010 guardian first book award. beauman is british. here's his website. i LOVE it.

anyway, here's the thing. i read the review in publishers weekly and i said to myself, "self, i think you want to read that book." unfortunately, it won't be published on this side of the pond until the end of august. again, if you know me, you know i am spoiled and impatient...AMERICAN! so in the era of the intergoogle web net, i meandered over to the amazon.co. website. and there, in all it's glory is my new favorite, yet-to-be-read book, boxer, beetle. not only is it there, but there's a KINDLE edition. shut the front door!

well, when i clicked on the 'send sample' button, i was told in no uncertain terms that:

Kindle titles for your country are not available at Amazon.co.uk.
Please shop for Kindle titles at Amazon.com

but, of course, it's NOT AVAILABLE IN MY COUNTRY!! there is no kindle edition for the US publishing of this title.

of course, i can purchase a print copy through amazon.co.uk. one-click put that in my shopping cart tout-de suite (see how international i am?). but no kindle edition. bollocks!!

the economy is global. people are communicating with strangers in other continents - doing business, creating social networks, googling, facebooking, tweeting, foursquaring all around the world. i can go to the website ten thousand villages and purchase a vase from bangladesh, a brass tray from egypt, and a candleholder from the phillippines but publishers want me to pretend as if i can only get a book here in the good ol' US of A and on top of all that...THE US EDITION ISN'T AVAILABLE FOR THE KINDLE! *sigh*

publishing houses are grasping at any thing they can to try to preserve the standard profit model, including perceived exclusivity and drop-down dates. as a former bookseller for a major book retailer, many boxes stayed in the warehouse with imposing messages, "DO NOT OPEN BEFORE FEBRUARY 1ST OR YOU WILL BE EXSANGUINATED." many months we could have used the profits from those sales to keep from cutting our bookseller hours but, oh well.

publishers want us to buy, but they don't make it easy. they want us to be excited about reading, excited about e-books. manufacturers want us to be excited about e-readers. apple iPads are flying out the door. let's stop pretending that we are national and become international. it can only be a good thing. now, if you'll excuse me, there's a british book waiting for this american reader.

happy reading, no matter the format or the location :-)

26 May 2011

mommy, what is a library...part deux

hello, dear readers

let's go back, way back, waaaaay back, no, back further, all the way back to...november, 2009. well, it seems like a lifetime ago, anyway.

i wrote a really short post entitled, mommy, what's a library? it was a couple of paragraphs with a couple of links about the future of libraries. one was about libraries with or without books, and the other one was about planned construction in scandinavia of an "urban mediaspace." this 'mediaspace' was to be created by SHL Architects who “believe that library design is about more than just books. Libraries revolve around people and should provide flexible spaces for social interaction as well as studying. “Urban Mediaspace” further establishes the practice as leaders of this democratic, social kind of library design.”

fast forward to 2011. don't get dizzy. i'm conversing with a student about a project he has to do - he has to profile someone. no, not like the FBI. so i recommended some people, our library director, associate director, head of access services, research assistance librarian. but as we were conversing i had (in honor of oprah) an AHA! moment. i realized what i love about libraries (and museums which are kinda like libraries except with stuff instead of books).

i LOVE libraries because they are open...to anyone. no one asks you to identify yourself. you don't have to "belong." you just have to be. the library beckons you with its treasures, calling you, welcoming you. it WANTS you to come in. it wants you to take a piece of it and make it a piece of you. it doesn't question. it doesn't judge. it doesn't take offense if you don't like what it offered up. it's patient. it knows you will find what you're looking for...or at least get you on your way.

i LOVE reading on my amazon kindle. i LOVE reading with my grandson on an iPad. i have always LOVED technology. but when i think about why i love those things, it always takes me back to who loved me first. books, courtesy of my friendly neighborhood library.

so, the answer to the question "what's a library?" it's whatever you want it to be...and it's ready and willing to be that.

16 May 2011

buy our e-books...just don't try to lend them or lend them too much

greetings, fellow readers,

so i'm fresh from my presentation at the libris conference 2011 held in beautiful orangeburg, south carolina. my presentation basically talks about what libraries should consider before implementing a lending policy for e-reading devices (or tablets). part of my presentation is on the concept of content vs. product. that when purchasing e-books, you are purchasing a license to view content, not the electronic version of a book.

also in my presentation i discuss amazon and it's tendency to take back e-books from purchasers if there's a cloud on the copyright assignment. i also talk about the fact that several companies have cropped up for e-book consumers to lend their e-book to others.

i say all that to say this...watch out, publishers are on the warpath! they're crazy fired up with the prospect of lost revenue. they see dollars flying out of windows, through doors and out of e-readers and tablets. i mean if every individual doesn't buy their own copy of an e-book, wherever shall we go, whatever shall we do. we can't wait to think about it tomorrow, even though tomorrow is another day. oh, fiddle dee dee (apologies to margaret mitchell)

let me tell you what i'm talking about. when amazon decided to allow (with publisher permission) ebooks to be loaned (shared) between devices, several companies cropped up to assist consumers with lending e-books: lendle, eBookFling, and BookLending to name a few. these are websites where consumers register and list the books they are willing to lend, and others who want to borrow said books can do that. usually it's a 14-day loan and then the loan expires.

in the meantime, harper collins (the publisher that owns overdrive, the company that allows libraries to lend e-books) decided that unlimited lending of e-books was, oh, how do you say, wrong. so they instituted (or is trying to institute) a 26-loan limit per e-book title. once the title has been loaned 26 times, the library will have to purchase a new license for the next 26 loans.

now comes word that macmillan has decided that maybe they don't want some of their e-books to be loaned. so they are changing their status from lendable to not lendable. the issue? they are changing the lendability of titles AFTER the point of sale!! so you may have purchased a kindle e-book from amazon that was published by macmillan. and it may have said lending: enabled. and you thought, neato! i can lend this to my sister-in-law when i'm done. now, it's a few weeks later and you go to look at lending your book and sacre bleu, you can no longer lend it.

cheeky monkeys, those publishers. so what's a consumer to do? and if that's an issue for individuals, what the heck are libraries supposed to do? if you're library is loaning kindles or nooks, what is the status of those e-books at any given time? and for how long?

will e-books become fleeting phantoms? that doesn't bode well for the storytellers out there who want their readers to know and love their stories and make them as well-worn as the velveteen rabbit. who doesn't want that?

here's what some other folks have to say:

bookborrowr - are publishers opting out of ebook lending?

happy reading...no matter the format.

18 April 2011

the end of the tunnel...daylight or a train?

hello, dear readers

it's a monday morning and i usually start my monday mornings clicking over to publishers weekly's website. this morning, there was a very thought-provoking article written by rudy shur entitled, "The Light At the End of The Publishing Tunnel? On Finding Fans, Not Formats ."

it recounted a short discussion between rudy (publisher of square one publishers) and his sales director, ken. rudy mentioned the increase in sales of e-books and the decline of sales of traditional books. ken replies, "Format is really not the problem." now, if i were in the room, i would have replied, "why, ken, whatever do you mean?" so let's pretend i was and that i said that.

ken replies something to the effect of, "the question isn't which format the reader will choose . . . but if there will be readers in the first place."

yikes! do not speak it. the article goes on to recount the glorious age of reading, the 50s through the 80s. returning vets, poor people, baby boomers, we all enjoyed reading just for the pleasure of it. but then...

the 90s came and with it . . . the computer. that dang-blasted marvel of innovation and technology. and we (americans) became a nation of the entertained. do we no longer see reading as a form of entertainment? well, newspapers think so (okay, newspaper websites but what do THEY know?) some newspapers have book reviews (IF they have book reviews) in the entertainment section, some in the arts & living section (does that make it high-brow?), and some (one?) (thank you new york times) have their own, standalone book review. and while some newspapers are getting rid of their standalone book reviews (boooooo washington post and los angeles times), the wall street journal is CREATING one! (i don't find many reasons to cheer rupert murdoch but this is one of them! woohoo!)

my original question was going to be...who is to blame for the state of the book? but i don't like the word blame. but then what ARE the questions we should be asking: why aren't we reading for pleasure anymore? who says we aren't? are we not buying what we're reading? are we getting our reading material online so no one can see? are we reading different stuff? does reading anything other than a book count when 'they' say we're not reading anymore?

i will remind you of this article from 2008, published in the Atlantic magazine: "is google making us stupid?" the article asks if reading on the internet has changed the way people read - short and sweet vs. long and in-depth. i didn't finish it - it's reeeeealllly looooooong. (just kidding).

maybe this is contributing to the state of the book. blame google. blame al gore. after all, he created the internet. :-)

amazon just introduced a concept called amazon singles. wired magazine's headline: amazon launches kindle singles, saves long-form journalism. but does that mean that we don't have the attention-span to get through a few hundred pages of a book anymore? 30,000 words and we're mentally exhausted? are you tuckered out already just reading this blog post? oh, no! have you caught it too? the reading malaise? do not go gentle...

never, ever, ever, give up. read into the night. into the early twilight. into the dawn. into infinity, and beyond...

the conclusion: the state of the book is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

happy reading...no matter the format!

recommend: the evolution of bruno littlemore by benhamin hale
avoid: the radleys by matt haig

14 April 2011

enhanced e-books? what's to enhance?

hello, dear readers,

i really thought i wasn't going to have anything else to blog about. i was actually almost, dare i say it, bored, with the topic of e-readers and iPads and iPods and smartphones. they were all basically doing the same thing - bringing electronic versions of books to a screen near you (very near you, as in your pocket or purse).

but today, eureka!! something i have been reading about and ignoring because, frankly, i didn't think it would ever take off. what is this new "new" thing i'm talking about? okay, you better sit down...ENHANCED e-books.

now when you think of enhanced, no, nevermind, i don't want to know what you think when you think of enhanced. unless you're thinking e-books.

ron charles' did a witty segment on enhanced e-books on his thvbr on the washington post's website (thanx to the blog entymology of a bookworm).

then there's the vook. it's a video. it's a book. it's a vook (clever, i know). there are almost over 180 vooks in the iTunes store. most are non-fiction/instructional type products.

since i'm more of a recreational fiction reader, i put the concept to the side. but then today comes word of an e-book that will allow you to 'tweet' real time. you know, use your twitter account while you're reading. the book is titled, "here on earth: a natural history of the planet," by tim flannery. on amazon, the hardcover book is $16.25, the kindle edition is $9.99. but wait, there's more...

the media bistro blog galley cat published an entry entitled, "how to use twitter hashtags inside your ebook." this article mentions that the enhanced ebook edition of "here on earth" goes on sale today in the iTunes store, priced at $11.99.

according to galleycat, this enhanced edition "allows readers to take notes, copy text, and join Twitter conversations without ever leaving the digital text."

WOW! isn't this what we've been waiting for? or is it?

my first thought was . . . can't the publisher leave me alone, i already bought the goshdarned book. but then i thought about something really cool...book groups!! from your local neighborhood book groups to international book groups (even the international space station could take part), lots of groups could take part in an ongoing, dynamic, real-time conversation about . . . a book! doesn't that sound exciting?

i'm not sure... but i think it does.

my second thought, which has come a day later is . . . ta-daaaah...textbooks! or class materials. classrooms could be totally interactive 24/7. if that's what you want. professors could hilite passages and request comment. a whole new immersive technology that gets participation . . . LIVE! no going back and trying to remember what you thought at the moment you read that passage. how many times have i thought to myself . . . what did i think about chapter 2 now that i'm on chapter 27? okay, but i still think this has actual real-world application that might actually be useful.

happy reading . . . and tweeting . . . no matter the format!

07 April 2011

fight club . . . the literary kind

dear readers,

i know, but i had to, had to, HAD TO, post this really quick blog post.

narrator: Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club! Third rule of Fight Club: if someone yells "stop!", goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over.

now why, pray tell, would i be talking about fight club? because apparently, conflict isn't just in the ring (basement, fight club) but in . . . the book club!

book club?? yes! take a look at this article from the san jose mercury news. it's the age old story of the haves and the havenots (or wantnots). what's a bookclub to do when some members have those newfangled kindles and ithingies and the others have just plain old books? book swaps will be endangered? conversation stifled. woe, woe, woe.

sometimes i think americans just like a good ole' fight.

happy reading . . . no matter the format (unless you're in a book club).

note: i think i'll start throwing in book recommendations too. why not - it's my blog.

recommend: life by keith richards (it's not all about the stones)
avoid: mr chartwell by rebecca hunt

05 April 2011

library disruption

dear readers

well, helloooooooooooo (in my best julia child or mrs. doubtfire voice).

if you will recall, dear reader, in my last post, i was bemoaning the fact that there wasn't anything new on the horizon to talk about.

well, guess what? that's still the case (haha - gotcha). but i did find this little entry worth a mini-blog entry.

it's about disruption. no, not volcanic (besides, that's eruption). but disruption as in some outside influence upsetting the apple cart, changing the status quo, rocking the boat.

business insider (one of my FAVE websites) posted an article originally posted on quora, titled "craigslist has been disrupted, it's just not obvious yet". the basic gist of the article is that craigslist has a LOT of competitors, but these competitors just haven't been able to take hold of their marketshare . . . yet! checkout a few competitors: clist rideshare/use pickuppal, clist arts&crafts/use etsy, clist tickets/use stubhub!

i know, i know, get to the point. well, one of our savvy compadres over at "a digital outrigger" created a chart to show how academic LIBRARIES can be/are being disrupted. take a gander at this (scroll down): for example, alternatives to using the library's catalog could be worldcat, google books, library thing or netflix. need a journal? how about citeseer, doaj, or scitopia. if citations are your cuppatea, there's zotera and endnote. but what about chatting with a librarian, you say? what about yahoo answers, ask.com, or answers.com?

is this disruption (as in i won't use the library website, i'll go straight to these sources) or are we comparing apples and oranges? are these supplemental web resources that students will use in addition to their library catalog. or in lieu of? (insert ominous background music here)

just something to think about.

happy reading . . . no matter the format.

27 March 2011

what does eminem have to do with libraries?

hello dear readers

i know what you're thinking. it's sunday and your dear blogger has had one glass of wine too many. that very well may true, but that is beside the point. the last few days i have been wringing my hands and gnashing my teeth because i couldn't think of anything to blog about. sure, apple came out with an iPad 2 (check out that snazzy smart cover!!) and the motorola xoom android tablet is out. dedicated e-readers have basically taken a back seat to these new-fangled "tablets." i mean why be stuck with a piece of equipment to just read on when i can have one that surfs the web, gets my email AND lets me play angry birds all...i...want!!

as far as the naked library was concerned, it was snoooooooozerville. schools were still experimenting, consumers wanted lower e-book prices, i already told you about overdrive and their 26 checkout limit on e-books through libraries, plus there was a new edition of angry birds i had to get.

but, lo and behold, in the midst of tons of chaff came one small stalk of wheat. and i, dear reader, dove in and retrieved it for you. hence the title of this blog.

now, i know you know who eminem is. i'm just linking to it for consistency. so what could eminem possibly have done to warrant inclusion in the annals of this blog? well, he filed a lawsuit against his record label, universal, for more money. (thanx, techdirt). YES, this is news. now, wait...before you doze off, let me explain.

the lawsuit he filed against his record company involved something that should be of interest to every library in the united states of america that is loaning e-books. DIGITAL ROYALTIES. the basis of the lawsuit stated, and i quote, "...that music sales generate a much lower rate of royalties than music licenses (for use in TV shows, commercials, etc.)—and since sales of iTunes songs are considered licenses (except whenever it’s most convenient for the record labels to claim they’re “sales”), Eminem felt he should be getting a bigger cut of the pie."

WHAT? notice i put the word "licenses" in bold.

when i gave a presentation at the charleston conference back in november of 2011 on whether to lend e-reading devices or not, one of my key considerations for libraries to think about is that e-books are not a physical property. when you purchase an e-book, what you are really purchasing is a "license" to "view" the "electronic" version of that book. you don't own the book any more than you own the story. it's the equivalent of going to the movies.

apparently, the music industry was trying to slip through an intellectual property loophole of some kind of selling music in a physical format such as CDs and vinyl (huh?) vs. selling you, average consumer, the right to listen to this music.


what does this have to do with libraries and e-books you're still asking? i don't know. let's replace the characters in this scenario. let's replace eminem with dan brown and let's replace universal with farrar straus and giroux (i just like their name) and let's replace iTunes with google books. let's say that dan and fsg come to an agreement about royalties for book sales. so physical books sales go through the roof at barnes & noble, borders, costco, walmart, and every indie bookstore you can think of. but those sales don't come close to the e-books that are being downloaded on kindles and nooks and sony readers and iPads and 'droids and available through google books ...you get my drift.

artists get a lower royalty on music "sales" vs. music "licenses" (when you use music in a commercial or on broadway or little league or high school drama performances). so if dan brown's book is downloaded to your kindle (nook,iPad,droid,etc) did you buy the book like the chick/dude at costco? or are you "watching" it like your daughter's performance in oklahoma at genius high?

should dan expect a higher royalty cut from your kindle version than your neighbor's costco copy? and if the courts say yes, what does that mean in terms of pricing of e-books? right now, consumers are complaining when e-books cost more than $9.99 (the artificial price point created, basically, by amazon). this is why when an e-book on amazon is priced above $9.99, amazon places the "this price was set by the publisher" disclaimer so you won't pour your haterade on amazon.

i just thought this was a very interesting turn of events. soooo...

happy reading, no matter what the format...for now.

ps - here's teleread's take on the eminem ruling.

28 February 2011

don't shoot until you see the ...

27th e-copy distributed!!!!!

"what in the world is she talking about??" yes, i can hear you, dear reader. yes, i can. can so. can so. cancancancancancancan...can!

okay, enough of that. i literally just finished reading about the boycott being organized by librarians around the country against harpercollins and their subsidiary, overdrive.

a little background info, maestro. overdrive is the company that provides a lot of libraries with their e-book distribution mechanism. and great strides have been made in this area, specifically not having to physically visit your local library in order to download e-books (as long as you are a member in good standing). and availability across multiple e-book reading platforms, including iPads. so with things going so well, what's all the hubbub, bub?

according to the blogger librarian by day, harper collins has decided to limit the number of e-book checkouts to...26. yes, that magical number 26. is there some significance in the heralds of harper collins historic lore attached to the number 26?

the e-book library lending saga began on shaky ground with publishers equating a digital copy to a physical book, the one copy/one user model. so libraries could only "lend" an e-book (remember, e = electronic = digital file) one at a time to one patron on one platform. so if you wanted to start reading on your laptop and then read on your amazon kindle on the train to work, fuhgeddaboudit.

now, this magical 26th loan. remember, an e-book in a library catalog is not really the library's book. it's a license that allows a library patron to access that digital file. like going to the movies. your ticket doesn't buy you the movie, only the right to access that movie for a specific date and time. the end.

so harper collins has decided that the license to access a library's copy of a harper collins (and its smaller publishing houses) will expire after the 26th view.

okay, now granted i work for an academic library, not a public one so it's a little different. but let's use an old world example. title: the media in american politics. cost: $51.99. checked out: 107 times. cost per checkout: $0.49 (and counting downward). new world example: license expiration after 26 checkouts. cost per checkout: $1.99. IF it's checked out 26 times.

now, of course this is all subjective, except for the old world example. but the costs of a license expiration could be a budget buster for many libraries, especially public libraries in cash-strapped states and municipalities.

i have to admit that i thought the introduction of the internet, electronic resources, a computer in every home, a chicken in every pot, e-books, e-readers, actually all things 'e' would make things easier, better and more accessible to the masses. i thought price points would drop, and they would become as ubiquitous as cell phones. almost EVERYBODY has a cell phone.

i thought that not having to go to the library would be great. no transportation issues, no overdue fines, no hold queues, no weeding, no excessive watching of hold queues (i'm number 76, now 58, now 40, still 40, still 40? oh for pete's sake bring the book back!)

after working up this little model, i can see both sides of the equation. the publisher sees a profit potential that's essentially lost in the old-world library lending model. the library sees a big behemoth gouging the little guy with the noble cause.

personally, i think the '26' model has set e-book library lending back a few steps. the fear that came from libraries not "owning" materials maybe wasn't so far-fetched after all?

the future is here . . . but can we afford it?

happy reading . . . no matter the format!

btw - if you can't see the number 26 in the graphic, you're colorblind. but you probably already knew that.

25 January 2011

virtual library . . . in the cloud?

hello, dear readers.

welcome to another edition of the totally hip blog for totally hip blog readers (homage to ron charles' thvbr - the most hilarious book related thing i've come across in a while).

today's episode: the library as place . . . in space. in the cloud.

as some of you know, i have been on the cloud. in the cloud? on top of the cloud? anyway, i'm very interested in this 'cloud' concept where you own nothing and everything is virtual and out 'there.' no more books, papers, ink, stuff like that. it's all generated electronically and virtually.

the popularity of e-books and e-reading has grown by leaps and bounds, especially since the introduction of the amazon kindle, the barnes & noble nook and apple's iPad. therefore it should come as no surprise that someone out 'there' has figured a way to harness that 'e'-ness to be shared amongst ourselves.

what, dear woman, are you blathering on about? i heard that. patience.

exhibit a: amazon allows kindle books to be loaned. shockers!! of course, there are some 'rules' to lending. an amazon kindle edition can be loaned (if the publisher gives the okay) ONE time for 14 days. period. end of story. it can not be loaned again. ever. end of story. again.

exhibit b: it didn't take long for the entrepreneurial spirit of american enterprise to rise upon hearing this news to create...kindle lending websites. basically, virtual libraries. two new websites, ebookfling.com and kindlelendingclub.com allow users to find each other. if you have kindle books to lend, you can post them to the site. if you want to borrow, you can browse the site for titles or enter a specific title.

the kicker? you don't even need a kindle! say wha? you can use your kindle app for iphone/ipod, pc, etc etc etc. and it works. confession time: i borrowed a book from 'tj' through kindle lending club and downloaded it to my ipod. of course, now the clock is ticking. i've got 14 days to read it or my coach turns back into a pumpkin and my horses into mice. eek!

which leads to the question: what will happen if 'libraries' can just 'spring' up out of nowhere? regular people loaning and borrowing books without oversight?? where are the MARC records? doesn't anybody care that these books have no tags? no call number? no 'related' item?

apparently not. which begs the next question...what will patrons want from a library? if it's borrowing books they don't own, and they can get electronic versions from other providers, will they abandon the library? will they ever leave their homes again??

hold on, chicken little, the sky isn't falling...yet. but the clouds are full of stuff. and when clouds get full of stuff, they do what clouds do best...they rain.

here's a quick read on the 'virtual library' scenario.

just to keep things in perspective. two of my recent reads are over 500 pages and wallace's infinite jest (over 1000 pages) is on my nightstand. 14 days ain't gonna cut it. so maybe the virtual library, for now, is just a 'lite' version of our esteemed and established institution. or maybe it's a younger cousin to take under our wing.

happy reading . . . no matter the format.

15 January 2011

CES wrap up 2011

hello, dear, faithful, loyal naked library patron.

two posts in one month. i haven't been on a roll like this since...anyway.

you may be wondering what this picture is on the left hand side of the page (or above if you are reading this on an iPad). that's gonna be my new refrigerator. and, for the princely sum of $3,499 you, too, can have the tweeting refrigerator. why are we talking about this refrigerator? because it was part of the . . . CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW!!! [cue confetti and horns, please]

last year about this time, i posted a short blurb about the CES (consumer electronics show) and added a nice little write up about e-readers.

ohhhhh what a scant 365 days or so can make. e-readers?? pshaw. yesterday's (or last year's) news. the news of the day or decade? iPad killers, i.e., tablets. RIMs blackberry playbook seemed to impress. smartphones...replacing laptops and netbooks? how about combining them, courtesy of the motorola atrix. it's a smartphone that plugs into its own laptop. gosh! smart TVs, i.e., TVs connected to the internet. another big thing...3D without glasses. primitive but promising? i don't know, i still like the amazon kindle. apparently, i'm still reading yesterday's news on yesterday's technology (although i did get an iPod touch for christmas and it's adorable).

here are some quick wrap-up links so you can have something to throw around at your next cocktail party. you can even show them on your new iPad (or your choice of killer). i know you have one.

inc magazine

cult of mac - for a more "wish you were there" look at the show

washington post - yes the paper one.

happy reading...no matter the format.

08 January 2011

the new alexandria??

okay, so i'm sitting on the couch with my dear hubby, and he turns to me and says, "honey, online classes! in high school!! you don't have to leave the house!! no, he doesn't get out much, as my response to him was, "you really have to get out from under that rock sometimes." :-)

but then we had a short discussion about what that would mean if every high schooler (or any schooler) didn't have to leave their house. or even could meet in a central location in their neighborhood. no busing hither and yon, worries about racial balances, advanced vs. average vs. need a little help here. but i digress...

but not really!! because it got me thinking about libraries. and all the doomsday prophecies (and real-time occurrences) of dying libraries. but it was a quote from roberta stevens, president of the american library association (ala) that really got me thinking about the new "virtual" alexandria.

ms. stevens was asked how libraries were faring, and in her response she mentioned how libraries were cutting hours due to budget cuts. "But the problem is every time you cut hours, you’re shutting out thousands and thousands of people.”

what? shutting out thousands of people? then why the resistance toward the 'e' revolution? e-books, e-readers, e-lectronic tranmissions, e-volution!! viva la revolucion. or revulsion in some circles.

what struck me is the sense that the library is still the four walls. and, i know, in many communities and colleges and universities it is! i grew up using a tiny neighborhood public library and love it to this day. but that was the 60s and 70s. look how much has changed since then. my house phone was on the wall back then. now it's in my pocketbook (oh, wait, they don't even call them pocketbooks anymore, do "they?" my bank doesn't even want me to enter their vaunted four walls. they want me to do my banking electronically or they're gonna charge me for the privilege of accessing my money that they are borrowing and getting the interest on. anyway, i really digressed there . . . but not really.

check this article. japan and european countries are digitizing collections to make them accessible to "the peoples." some countries want to create "digital" national libraries. why do you think that is?? aren't these countries worried about the death of the book. don't they like the smell of books, the feel of paper. don't they want "the peoples" to smell the books, feel the books?

apparently not.

now, i'll be the first one to admit that i am not an authority on anything. but i do think a lot. about a lot of different stuff. and today, i thought of how we could keep the library open. not necessarily physically. and, these ramblings are in no way a "dis" against librarians and the wonderful and knowledgeable services they provide. i work with some of the finest in the profession. but... they breathe in oxygen and breathe out CO2. they are human. they need to go home. they have to eat and do other things. just like the rest of us.

now i'm sure that there are libraries across the country that are doing the things i'm about to propose. but it just struck me funny that the president of the ala would talk about hours shutting people out. the doors to the library may be closed but the portal to the treasures inside is wide open.

okay, here are my ideas for the virtual alexandria:

podcasts - whatever you're doing in the library today can be recorded. did you have a chat with an author? video. knitting club? video. question of the day? video. storytime? definite video. (hey, i don't work out the details like copyright and stuff, i'm just the idea gal, okay?)

e-books - and i'm not just talking about an e-book collection. i'm talking about a robust interactive e-book lending program. i'm talking wireless downloads to mobile devices (ipods, smartphones, laptops, tablets, PCs, you name it). it's not a question about patrons getting to the library anymore for the basic services of book borrowing.

collaboration - hathitrust - academic universities and the library of congress working together to digitize collections (almost EIGHT million volumes) harvard university wants a digital public library of america. this is the 21st century. no limits. as doc brown said in back to the future, "road? where we're going, we don't need roads."

accessibility - is that what it's really about? what is it that the patron needs access to? is it really the collection or is it the computers? the vast knowledge of the resident librarian or para-professional or the comfy chairs and cappucinos? whatever it is, find a way to 'e' it. because if it's the computers and the capps, you've got some work to do.

making the rounds recently (although he gave this speech back in september, 2010) is eli neiburger's "libraries are screwed."

here is emily williams' response to mr neiburger: if libraries are screwed, so are the rest of us.

they both have good points worth considering. important considerations. the problem is that while the pro-e vs. con-e factions discuss the pros and cons of 'e', the patrons are in the middle . . . waiting. like children of quarreling parents.

can't we all just get along? and keep the doors open in the process?

happy reading . . . no matter the format!

interesting stuff:
library of congress american memory
new york review of books: library without walls