Technology

Why Virtual Reference?

Marcia Keyser compiled this discussion from the Dig-Ref listserv in December, 2002. It\'s a thread based on the Charleston Advisor article, Virtual Reference: Overrated, Inflated, and Not Even Real.
The article describes virtual reference as a bad bargain, slow, difficult to administor and says \"the service allows librarians to pander to readers’ addiction to the new world of 24/7\".

You don’t have to read the article to understand the responses. The respondents quote from it enough to keep you reading. Click below to read more.... -- Read More

Virtual Reference: Overrated, Inflated, and Not Even Real

Here\'s that goes along with the current poll, By Steve McKinzie, Social Sciences Librarian, at Dickinson College, over at The Charleston Advisor.
Steve says the new tool of digital reference really isn’t revolutionary, and it certainly isn’t the implement of the future that will replace traditional reference. Virtual reference may in fact turn out to be a bad bargain, providing libraries with a very limited return, while exacting considerable energy and expense.
He says librarians should be exploring the potential of digital reference, nevertheless, as members of the library community we should keep our heads and shun the high-flown rhetoric.

Is Linux in your Library\'s future?

pv_sapl writes \"Interesting document about Linux from Tomshardware.com

I know that development and support are two different things. But if the big players like HP/Compaq and IBM phase out the development of their proprietary OSes, what would that mean to vendors like Epixtech/Dynix? Will you trust your next Library Automation system if it ran on Linux? \"

Also, be sure to check out Extranet, \"where technology and libraries meet\"

Beyond the Blackboard

The NYTimes looks Beyond the Blackboard at digital technology that is broadening the concept of the blackboard to that of a large educational window -- with some, incidentally, operating on Windows software.

\'\'The tradition in education is interactive,\'\' says Steve Saxe, a technical program manager for 3M. \'\'With its ability to interact, to and from students with electronic images, you recover the live aspect of presentation and teaching.\'\'

The Self Checkout Revolution

Gary Deane sent over A Toronto Star Story on the self-checkout machine finally coming of age in Canada.
Not a library story, but it\'s interesting to see how self-checkout machines are creeping into stores now. Retailers are quick to dispel the notion that machines will eventually replace cashiers altogether, another sensitive point for some consumers.
They also mention RFID, which requires each item to be tagged with a tiny radio frequency chip which not only lets the consumer check out without unloading the cart, but automatically notifies the retailer how many items have been sold, and what needs to be re-ordered. Something that could be put in books, and is being put in Tires Now, but this should raise some privacy concerns.

Digital memory threatened as file formats evolve

Here\'s An Associated Press Story that says todays computer files may survive but the equipment to make sense of them might not. This era could become a \"digital dark age\" -- a part of its collective memories forever lost.
The task would be much easier if software companies committed to open standards that remain fairly constant, Thibodeau said. But the market drives innovation and differentiation from competitors.

\"If your aim is to have something lasting 1,000 years from now, you can\'t plan on electronics doing the job.\"

Eye scanners for school children

The BBC Says plans have been unveiled to introduce retinal eye scan technology to identify schoolchildren that will will be used on pupils buying meals in the school canteen and in the library when children want to take out books.

Howard Brown, Sunderland secretary for the NUT, said: \"I think there is a fine line between practical technology and James Bond technology and I think this might have crossed it.

Libraries Defend File Sharing

A Short Blurb made it to the LATimes on This Letter[PDF] from the ACRL that came in response to efforts by the Recording Industry Assn. of America and other entertainment groups to warn college administrators that they may face legal liability for illegal file sharing on their networks.
More On This Here, and Here

Open Source Software Review 2002

A Neat One From CMPnetAsia on how well Open Source stuff is doing now. They look at Office alternatives, Mozilla, Desktop Linux, and Linux storage.

They also include Resolutions for 2003, that say the time is now right to test whether you can get the same value at lower costs with Linux.

MD law library reaches out to hearing impaired

From Law.com:

With more than 28 million Americans nationwide who are considered deaf or hard of hearing and nearly 290,000 with hearing or speech disabilities in Maryland, the Maryland State Law Library is the first state law library in the nation to install a new communication system for the hearing- and speech-impaired.

Before implementing this new system, MSLL had already enhanced its facility to better serve users with disabilities. The library had reconfigured its space to include computer tables and study carrels to accommodate wheelchairs, wider aisles for easier maneuvering, handicapped restroom facilities and parking areas, and relatively easy access to the building. The Web site is \"Bobby approved\" and conforms to the necessary standards for disabled users. The library then set out to discover what might be the next logical step.

Complete article.

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