Friday, October 22, 2004

A Friday Grab Bag

Finally, today I can take a breath and look about me. I have been working on a report due to our Members Council delegates this weekend and it's been a lot of work, but we're printing it right now.

My visit to Connecticut seems like really old news now. I was there on October 7 speaking to the attendees at the annual Connecticut Library Leadership Conference. It's sponsored by the Association of Connecticut Library Boards, (it represents public library boards in the state) the Connecticut State Library and The Connecticut Library Association. I was there at the invitation of Ken Wiggin, the state librarian.

The composition of this audience was at the opposite end of the age spectrum from my British Columbia visit. As is often the case with Board members, many were elderly. I ate lunch with two trustees of a medium sized town's public library who were pleasant company, and who clearly cared a great deal about their library and for whom most of the trends I was going to be speaking about were terra incognito. But they took lots of notes. And one fellow who is overseeing the building of a new library in his area told me he was going to have to rethink having permanently fixed desks in the main area of the library. He thought they may want more flexibility in how the space was used and set up.

And then there was the gentleman who wanted to have an animated exchange with me about the numbers we published in the Scan on how money was allocated to public institutions. In the scan, we have a graph of the aggregated worldwide total for expenditures in sectors such as health, social welfare, education, with military spending added for comparison. He suggested we had skewed the data by not presenting US spending separately. I pointed out that we normally get criticized for doing exactly that, and that we had aimed for a broader view than a strictly US one. He wasn't happy and repeated that we had skewed data. Not sure what part of the political spectrum he represented but there was some political point he wanted to make.

Lorcan Dempsey, VP Research and Chief Strategist at OCLC, and also co-author of the Scan is a guest columnist for CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) in the U.K. In his latest article he discusses "Three Stages of Library Search" in the CILIP Update Magazine.
"Hardly a day goes by without another arrangement between an information provider and Google or Yahoo to expose its collections for search on the web. Everybody wants to be ‘on web’. Google and Yahoo, in turn, are eager to find as many ways as possible of connecting their users to valuable material currently hidden in ‘off-web’ database silos. Most of the digital resources that libraries manage are currently off web: they do not offer themselves up to the Google user. Increasingly, ‘on web’ means available in Google."

And I noted this on Rafat Ali's PaidContent site: "What Amazon is creating, ultimately, is "pull" media -- entertainment as marketing. This is the kind of messaging that's going to succeed in today's niche-focused, consumer controlled environment. " What he's talking about is a blurring of commerce, content and entertainment. Go to the Amazon main page (at least, here in the U.S. it's the first page) and there's a little screen for a video clip of Jon Stewart talking about his latest book, America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. I watched it immediately--it's funny and short. And perhaps it's no coincidence that the book is Amazon's best seller right now.

Could libraries add some of this "pull" media to their web sites?

And noted in "Above the Fold" from NewsScan Daily (here's their web site and subscription info--it's free): The Washington Post item being noted requires registration and as I haven't registered, I've not looked at the source.

Google is reporting that sales and profit more than doubled in the third quarter, despite a one-time expense of more than $200 million. Explaining the company's success, co-founder Larry Page says: "We have the world's greatest engineering talent. Google has the means to innovate rapidly. This infrastructure is a competitive advantage to Google across all of our existing products." He says the company's business strategy "is about solving problems that matter to many people on a global scale. We have only begun work on our mission to organize the world's information to make it more accessible." ( ">Washington Post 21 Oct 2004)

Holy Hegemony, Batperson...doesn't this sound an awful lot like another organization's mission? Like OCLC's? OCLC exists to further access to the world’s information and reduce library costs by offering services for libraries and their users.

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