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100 Things Your Kids May Never Know About
#41 Phone books and Yellow Pages
#86 Finding books in a card catalog at the library
#96 Libraries as a place to get books rather than a place to use the Internet
#99 A physical dictionary (either or spelling or definitions)
The Future of Public Libraries
scenario planning project looking at the future of public libraries. There are about 45 people working on this project although the core scenario building team is much smaller. They have developed 2 framing questions, which are roughly as follows:
1. What professional skills and attitudes will public library staff be demonstrating in 2030 in order to be successful in the alternative futures in which they might operate?
2. Where will the leadership and funding that drives this success come from?
More on the current wave of digitization...by Bernard Lunn.
"Readers will be able to order any book in the universe and have it sent to them in print wherever they want or sent digitally to whatever device they have. Readers have grown accustomed to getting their online content for free, so they will expect to get at least a degraded experience via the regular browser (the "free" in freemium). This will take a while to play out. We live in a world today of bilateral negotiations, so different titles are available for different devices and in different bookstores. But play out it will.
Here is my free review of my free copy of "Free."
Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, recently came out with the book "Free: The Future of a Radical Price." So the question of whether books will be free in the future is a natural one to ask. The short answer is, No. If books became free, authors would stop writing, printers would stop printing, and electronics factories would stop churning out e-book readers. In other words, there would be nothing to read... except...free excerpts and promotional stuff.
The kicker: How much does Chris Anderson's "Free" book cost on Amazon? List price: $26.99, discounted to $16.19. Not free.
But Free on Scribd.
More on digitization etc.
"Bits of destruction" is a phrase Fred Wilson uses to describe the destructive part of "creative destruction" brought on by digitization. We hear a lot about the destruction wrought on the newspaper business. A more interesting and nuanced wave is now hitting the book publishing business. Actually, it is three waves: the digitization of back catalogs, e-books, and print on demand. However this plays out, a lot of people will be affected, but the way in which it will play out is not at all obvious.
His blog discusses 'the dragon' Amazon.com, POD, acceptance of e-books and how these and other technologies relate to the state of the industry.
Thanks to Peter Scott for the tip.
There are many reports about the Ohio budget crisis. SaveOhioLibraries.com has a post up noting that the Ohio Library Council has a status report. There has been a commentary posted about the video slots issue that is reportedly holding up passage of Ohio's state budget.
These are a selection of recent articles in the matter:
Budget makers gambling with future (Commentary, Cincinnati Enquirer)
Q&A about Ohio's debate on slots at racetracks (Associated Press via Forbes.com)
Gambling interests swarm Ohio Statehouse (WTTE Fox 28)
Debate continues over slot machines (Mount Vernon News)
Gambling in Ohio: a primer (Cincinnati.com)
Gambling still key battle in budget work (Editorial by Senator John Carey, Ironton Tribune)
Slots still only 'solution' to Ohio budget crisis (WKYC)
Governor rejects call for November vote on slots (Toledo Blade)
Skip the slots and work on a budget (Editorial, Advertiser-Tribune, Tiffin)
State budget standoff hitting children and school districts in Northeast Ohio: Child-care funds and adoptions halted (The Plain Dealer)
Eric Schnell points to The New Media Department and The University of Maine where they amended their promotion and tenure guidelines (all the way) back in 2007 with redefined criteria in the form of alternative recognition measures. Their documents identify nine alternatives to the standard 'article in a peer-review journal' model. He thinks the measures can be applied to library science since many aspects of LS has similar accessibility and timeliness requirements for their research/scholarship.
1. Invited / edited publications
2. Live conferences
4. Download / visitor counts
5. Impact in online discussions
and 4 more...
Recently, I faced the hideous situation of dead hardware. I had gotten dependent upon my Palm T|X. That model of personal digital assistant ("PDA") was great as it had built in 802.11b WiFi as well as Bluetooth. As long as I was within range of a wireless access point that I had rights to use, I had the Internet in my pocket. Early on, it worked quite well with a wireless infrared keyboard. I had a precursor to a netbook in basic form as I could use the keyboard to compose Word-compatible documents on a small screen. The device was great for trying to read online content such as Mobile Twitter, The Dysfunctional Family Circus, Instapundit, and more.
Unfortunately the PDA got stuck in a soft reset loop. It was showing its age. Three years of dutiful service is beyond what would reasonably be considered "mean time between failure". Although I was able to eventually break it free of the soft reset loop, it is now stuck at the digitizer calibration phase of initial setup. After multiple efforts, the digitizer could not be re-calibrated. I had a very futuristic looking doorstop.
Replacing it was an interesting battle. Initially I was carrying a legal pad and pen with me. While my "analog PDA" worked well for me, it was not small. It also looked quite anachronistic in today's world. That did not work well in the end.
Getting a smartphone was out of the question. Nobody calls! As it is now, I don't really have a cell phone simply because the usage for inbound calls was so light. For outbound calls, I use Skype. While devices like the Palm Centro, the Android G1, and the iPhone exist they really do not meet my needs. If I get a phone, I want one that makes calls. I would much rather have a separate PDA let alone a separate camera.
Getting a replacement PDA is a complicated adventure. The market for stand-alone PDAs is virtually non-existent as of late. I visited retailers like Office Max, Office Depot, Best Buy, and even a pawn shop in search of something comparable. Nothing was available as the trend today is the marriage of the PDA and the cellular telephone.
In the end, I had to turn to eBay. In addition to securing a Terminal Node Controller for certain projects, I picked up a replacement. Instead of getting a Nokia N800 as was sought, I wound up with a Palm IIIx. The Palm IIIx, while serviceable, is a very old device. This PDA is actually old enough that it has a battery door to replace the AAA batteries it runs on. I did get a keyboard to go with it but I need to get a suitable cradle to hook it up to a host computer. The device not only does not have Bluetooth, it does not have 802.11b WiFi either. IrDA-compliant infrared is the most the device has for signalling.
With these recent travails in replacing a PDA, I had given quite a bit of thought to eBooks. How truly valuable are eBooks? How do they compare with an old-fashioned RadioShack book light? As neither my paper books nor the Kindle have any backlight in them, such cannot be curled up with in bed without a booklight. Having to shine a booklight on the screen of the Kindle would be no different from shining one on the Palm IIIx. In that situation, you have a better chance of seeing your own reflection than seeing what you want to read. I am twenty seven years old and should not need "The Clapper" to be able to use an eBook device effectively in bed.
While the eBook may seem to be the way of the future, it does seem to be excessively involved and expensive compared to picking up something from the shelf. For those that feel the need to have everything available to them in one place, I suppose eBooks have a place. Right now I am finding print material to be easier and more enjoyable than the eBooks promoted today.
What is important to you: cute or practical?
On Futuristic Door Stops by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Walt: Three new things walked into a bar...
Here's a simple check on your perceptions. Which of the following do you consider to be successful–either currently or as some form of inevitable game-changer in the near future?
* Blu-ray Disc
Now, let’s put it another way: Which of these has greater actual marketplace impact–that is, which is actually used by the most people?
The so-called Darien Statement can be found at http://www.blyberg.net/2009/04/03/the-darien-statements-on-the-library-and-librarians/. I'm going to express a few of my thoughts here. There are some areas where the statement bothers me.
The statement is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. The statement of responsibility indicated in the relevant blog post indicates that John Blyberg, Kathryn Greenhill, and Cindi Trainor came up with this. I'm going to restate some of it here. I will attempt to interleave replies.
"The purpose of the Library is to preserve the integrity of civilization."
How does that square with enabling legislation in most cases? Public libraries are public institutions and normally are creatures of statute. Libraries can only do what is authorized by statute. I imagine that the integrity of civilization is not something allocated as a responsibility of libraries in enabling legislation.
"The Library has a moral obligation to adhere to its purpose despite social, economic, environmental, or political influences. The purpose of the Library will never change."
History has shown instead that the purpose of the library has in fact changed. With the rise of "third space" theory and more, libraries have shifted in focus from being only storehouses to additionally being commons.
"The Library is infinite in its capacity to contain, connect and disseminate knowledge; librarians are human and ephemeral, therefore we must work together to ensure the Library’s permanence."
How this can be read depends upon your definition of "The Library". As for that definition, there seem to be multiple possibilities.
"Individual libraries serve the mission of their parent institution or governing body, but the purpose of the Library overrides that mission when the two come into conflict."
That cannot happen in a public institution. Insubordination is a firing offense in most government bureaucracies and librarians generally do not have tenure protections that might insulate them in these cases. There are normally only two choices when faced with instructions you cannot follow: resign or comply.
"Why we do things will not change, but how we do them will."
Over time, the "why" does change. LCSH was arbitrary until Lois May Chan was contracted to study its systemization. We still assign subject headings, but the reasons underlying those headings and our choices are different now compared to thirty years ago.
"A clear understanding of the Library’s purpose, its role, and the role of librarians is essential to the preservation of the Library."
I would think effective public communication would be more essential as the Nebraska video game case showed. If people had communicated, that whole mess would likely not have happened. Without keeping lines of communications open, taxpayers and those who oversee libraries are likely not to care about the library's role and instead prefer to cut budgets for better favored pet projects.
There is more to the statement but I won't address that at this time. In the end, it reflects a view of professional practice I've rarely encountered. What the statement aspires to seems to not be the norm in the US.