FASTER patron-driven acquisitions (PDA): a library model

OUR LIBRARY has pioneered what we believe is the first program of its kind in patron-driven acquisitions.

One of the problems with most library collections is that although they may be extensive, they can never be complete. And when the patron requests books on a topic, for example, "theoretical experimental particle physics," although the library may pride itself on its exhaustive collection, with current on-demand and online publishing it can't ever call its collection complete. So when the patron is given ten current books on "theoretical experimental particle physics," it is still a common occurrence whereby the patron will respond with infantile disappointment.

So the current model of collection development is broken. Libraries can't ever hope to meet every need. We buy and buy, but it's never enough for some people. So our library has adopted a new model that reduces our inability to fulfill our patrons' requests down to nearly zero. If the material exists, we can get it.

Here is a typical PDA transaction at our library:

The patron has expressed a need for some online content and the librarian assesses the system requirements of the content and the system configuration held by the patron to verify a match. When a match is found, for example, an iPad, the librarian will initiate the purchase by locating the item in the app and downloading it to the patron's device.

"Enter your password."


"This is how it works. Just do it."


"Now tap that."


"And it's downloading to your iPad. And you can read it right now. Pretty cool, huh."

"But I didn't want to spend *my* money! That book was four *hundred* dollars!"

"But the library already spends your money through the taxes you pay. This is faster."

"You DICK!"

As you can see from the model, the patrons get what they want, when they want it, but the cost to the library has also been reduced to nearly zero.

New books in Amazon Top 100

New books in Amazon Top 100

Includes links to media pieces that discuss books.

The BlackBerry as Black Sheep

The phone once coveted by the elite and the powerful is becoming an object of ridicule as Androids and iPhones corner the smartphone market.

Eric Lomax, River Kwai Prisoner Who Forgave, Dies at 93

Eric Lomax, a former British soldier who was tortured by the Japanese while he was a prisoner during World War II and half a century later forgave one of his tormentors — an experience he recounted in a memoir, “The Railway Man” — died on Monday in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England. He was 93. Full article in the NYT.

Catching The 'Shadow' Of A Lost World

Photographer Edward Curtis decided to chronicle the experience of the vanishing Native American tribes at the end of the 19th century. It was an unbelievably ambitious project that would define Curtis, his work and his legacy.

Full piece on NPR

Dining By Rail

Dining By Rail: The History and Recipes of America's Golden Age of Railroad Cuisine

Readers who sigh at the names "Super Chief" and "Zephyr," and who remember the meal Cary Grant ate on the train in North by Northwest , may find this book fulfilling their wildest dreams. In an attempt to "preserve a record of one of the ways we used to eat," rail fan and Penn State professor Porterfield presents a detailed history of train dining. Beginning as an alternative to railroad station eateries, train dining reached its peak in 1930, when 1732 railroad dining cars were registered with the Interstate Commerce Commission, and all but ended in 1971 with telegrams like the May 1 order to Union Pacific to shut its passenger lines and make way for Amtrak. Model railroaders and social historians will find the 150 photographs and illustrations invaluable: a photo spread with dimensions of the pantry of the New York Central's Twentieth Century Limited, a sample 1920s dinner menu from the Milwaukee Railroad's Pioneer Limited, descriptions of staff sleeping quarters. The second half of the book offers 250 recipes from 48 railroad lines, featuring early-20th-century fare like Lobster Newburg New York Central, Poinsettia Salad-Merchant's Limited and Baked Potato Pennsylvania. For authentic American versions of lamb fricassee, deviled eggs and blanc mange presented without campiness or apology, this is the source.

Cites & Insights 12:10 (November 2012) available

The November 2012 issue of Cites & Insights (12:10) is now available for downloading at

The issue is 32 pages long. For those who prefer to read on e-devices, the single-column 60-page 6x9" edition is also available, at

iWoz and Libraries

I'm currently reading "iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon". It is a lively and fascinating read, and plenty of Steve Wozniak's comments are worth repeating, but this one about the that he and the other Steve:) spent at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) Library is superb, especially to a hang-out at libraries geek such as myself. Reminds me of spending some time at Mizzou's Engineering Library. :)

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

From Princeton University Press:

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

See video trailer for book.

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking presents practical, lively, and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking. The idea is simple: You can learn how to think far better by adopting specific strategies. Brilliant people aren't a special breed--they just use their minds differently. By using the straightforward and thought-provoking techniques in The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself--revealing previously hidden opportunities.

A Guide to the Good Life

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

(Oxford University Press)

One of the great fears many of us face is that despite all our effort and striving, we will discover at the end that we have wasted our life. In A Guide to the Good Life, William B. Irvine plumbs the wisdom of Stoic philosophy, one of the most popular and successful schools of thought in ancient Rome, and shows how its insight and advice are still remarkably applicable to modern lives.

In A Guide to the Good Life, Irvine offers a refreshing presentation of Stoicism, showing how this ancient philosophy can still direct us toward a better life. Using the psychological insights and the practical techniques of the Stoics, Irvine offers a roadmap for anyone seeking to avoid the feelings of chronic dissatisfaction that plague so many of us. Irvine looks at various Stoic techniques for attaining tranquility and shows how to put these techniques to work in our own life. As he does so, he describes his own experiences practicing Stoicism and offers valuable first-hand advice for anyone wishing to live better by following in the footsteps of these ancient philosophers. Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame and fortune. We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content with what we have.

Some five star reviews....

Some five star reviews on Amazon are worth more than others.

The books:

Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965

In Search of Paradise

In Search of Paradise: Middle-Class Living in a Chinese Metropolis

A new revolution in homeownership and living has been sweeping the booming cities of China. This time the main actors on the social stage are not peasants, migrants, or working-class proletariats but middle-class professionals and entrepreneurs in search of a private paradise in a society now dominated by consumerism. No longer seeking happiness and fulfillment through collective sacrifice and socialist ideals, they hope to find material comfort and social distinction in newly constructed gated communities. This quest for the good life is profoundly transforming the physical and social landscapes of urban China.

Li Zhang, who is from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, turns a keen ethnographic eye on her hometown. She combines her analysis of larger political and social issues with fine-grained details about the profound spatial, cultural, and political effects of the shift in the way Chinese urban residents live their lives and think about themselves. In Search of Paradise is a deeply informed account of how the rise of private homeownership is reconfiguring urban space, class subjects, gender selfhood, and ways of life in the reform era.



From Harvard University Press

For seven years, Paul Lockhart’s A Mathematician’s Lament enjoyed a samizdat-style popularity in the mathematics underground, before demand prompted its 2009 publication to even wider applause and debate. An impassioned critique of K–12 mathematics education, it outlined how we shortchange students by introducing them to math the wrong way. Here Lockhart offers the positive side of the math education story by showing us how math should be done. Measurement offers a permanent solution to math phobia by introducing us to mathematics as an artful way of thinking and living.

In conversational prose that conveys his passion for the subject, Lockhart makes mathematics accessible without oversimplifying. He makes no more attempt to hide the challenge of mathematics than he does to shield us from its beautiful intensity. Favoring plain English and pictures over jargon and formulas, he succeeds in making complex ideas about the mathematics of shape and motion intuitive and graspable. His elegant discussion of mathematical reasoning and themes in classical geometry offers proof of his conviction that mathematics illuminates art as much as science.


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