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