Wednesday, November 30, 2005

WebJunction Wiki

A shout-out to my colleagues at Webjunction who have unveiled their "perpetual beta" wiki.

In his post, Joe Anderson says: "Where we’re headed in our thinking is to use wiki technology as an information management *tool* that is part of a *practice* that includes both free information and more-or-less canonical information. This latter is necessary for us in large part because of our partnerships with state library and other organizations that do not want their content available for editing, but also because some of our content is more authorative in nature (individually authored opinions about specific practices–like wikis, for example). But free information, within that bounded context, is also important component of what we do (and do already, to a certain degree, on our message boards)."

This is good...addressing the need for authority and free information.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Digitization report from the UK

From the press release issuedNovember 24, 2005.

Although around £130m of public money has been spent on the creation of digital content since the mid-1990s, public sector digitisation programmes have been unstructured, piecemeal and fragmented. In contrast, Google’s Print Library Project, which aims to digitise huge quantities of books from some of the world’s leading libraries, “portends a revolution” in the world of information provision in which the public sector risks being left behind...The report, commissioned on behalf of JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) and CURL (Consortium of Research Libraries in the British Isles) and based on research undertaken at Loughborough University, also recommends the creation of a UK-wide strategy to avoid the duplication, gaps in provision and lack of coordination that have hampered public sector efforts in this area.

Full report pdf here.

Spotted on Stephen's Web.

From Information Society to Interaction Society?

"We are moving from the information society to the interaction society, and Lunarstorm is leading the trend," said Ola Ahlvarsson, chairman of Result, a Stockholm-based technology consulting company. "Young people here no longer accept a flow of information from above. They trust what they hear from friends on their network."

This quote is from The International Herald Tribune, from a story about Lunarstorm (Swedish link, and UK link) a Swedish internet service that 90% of high school students in Sweden belong to. This is, according to the story, "a youth audience three times larger than MTV in Sweden, two times larger than the entire readership of all of the Swedish evening newspapers combined and more members logging on daily than the total number of young Swedes watching almost every television show..."

Story link from

I found this interesting...well, because it's interesting anyway, but particularly so because of two recent blog posts, one from Jenny Levine's Shifted Librarian and the other from my colleague Lorcan Dempsey's eponymous blog.

Jenny's November 27 post said, in part: I had heard that one of the reasons our grant application to create a mobile gaming package for MLS libraries was turned down was because some reviewers didn’t understand how you then transition these kids to “traditional library services.”

And Lorcan wrote about libraries and their communities, using the Ann Arbor District Library as an admirable example (which Jenny has too) of a library making an effort to be part of the interaction society by blogging (not many posts but lots of comments) and making a space for people to submit digital/digitized photos and documents of and about Ann Arbor.

Note to the reviewers of Jenny's grant application: provision of information is so last century. But support of community interaction? Good. And seeing we have no working crystal balls here at IAG, what sort of interaction is best for making libraries part of the community--gaming, blogging, picture-sharing, social networks--is a guess so do all of it. Do anything that raises the profile of the library in an interaction society and do it very soon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Convenience, or, What you Will

I am a sucker for holidays, Diwali now included. All good Americans today are checking their cupboards for one more frantic trip to the grocery store before the day of all food days: Thanksgiving.

So my friend Sue (who is a self-confessed Foodie--take the foodie quiz), knowing that I enjoy news-of-the-bizarre, remarked to me, "You know I saw a butter turkey in the store the other day."

"What???" was my unenlightened response.
"Yes, and people were willing to pay $4.00 for it, too!"

And so here you have it. The ultimate convenience, holiday, festival-ness wrapped in cellophane: turkey-shaped butter. (And lamb-shaped, and Christmas-tree shaped...)

So what does this have to do with libraries? It's all about timing, packaging the experience of an event and the idea that we'll pay for novelty and convenience.

Will people pay for the bookmobile to come to their house and deliver? Possibly, especially if it came with a free 5-minute clown visit for the kids. The clown rides shotgun with the bookmobile driver. Parents sign up online for books delivered via clown. Reading is fun becomes the underlying message.

Anyway, wacky idea #476028.

Back to turkey-shaped butter. I did some additional sleuthing to find out there is a food sculptor, Jim Victor, who has done a bang-up job at ol' Tom himself. Having butter sculpted to your likeness, alongside the clown, would be even more entertaining with the bookmobile...

This year I decided to break with tradition and eat something celebratory but not staid. Here's my holiday menu:
Harvest Pumpkin Bisque (a creamy pumpkin soup with red chile pepper accents)
Crusty bread (possibly served with a $4 turkey-shaped butter on the side)
Crisp spinach salad with arugula, almonds and goat cheese
Fresh cranberry relish with oranges and pecans (G'ma's receipe)
Pecan pie with homemade vanilla bean ice cream (pecan pie recipe from How to Cook Everything)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. And happy shopping .

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Worth Reading

Or is that metareading? Reading about reading? Anyway, a bunch of writing about reading:

These first two noted from TeleRead.
CNET: Randal Picker - Buy the book, get the search service.
"Amazon Upgrade is something else entirely: digital access to books purchased through Amazon. This is a really clever move by Amazon. The company is changing the basic scope of the book business, and this will put even more pressure on independent booksellers and even large operators like Barnes & Noble and Borders. And Amazon has come up with a structure that should put meaningful limits on the sharing of digital texts."

Bill McCoy (he works at Adobe): How Not to Make eBooks "Take Off."
"In order to create a compelling eBook user experience, must we abandon an open ecosystem, where publishers and users have choices of different kinds of rights and different channels for acquiring content?"
But read Bill's other posts as well--he has a couple on the future of reading.

Barbara Quint at Infotoday: Books Online: The Fee versus Free Battle Begins.
"For those of little faith when it comes to Microsoft’s long-term commitment to open access (OA), the company’s strategy for revenue generation may be in a general process of change. On Oct. 30, Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s CTO, circulated a memo with a cover letter from chairman Bill Gates, that advocated adjusting revenue generation to the Internet Age. Gates stated, “The next sea change is upon us” and Ozzie advised, “In some cases, it may be possible for one to obtain more (software) revenue through the advertising model than through a traditional licensing model.”
Someone always has to pay the tab, but when it’s O.P.M (Other People’s Money), it feels free to the users."

And finally an excellent explication of the most confusing "Google Print Book Search Publisher Partner Library Project Program" from Siva Vaidhyanathan, whom some of you might have heard at ALA in the summer.

World Digital Library

Gary and Danny at SearchEngineWatch provide a good summary of the Library of Congress/Google partnership, the World Digital Library, and note some of the other major book digitization projects.

The seed for this project was sown by James Billington, in a speech to UNESCO in June, according to SEW. (links in the SEW article)

I wonder if Google approached LC or vice versa?

Something many of us fret about is the sustainability of these digitizing projects from several aspects: funding, archiving, and durability, for instance. Clay Shirky recently gave a lecture on the issue of durability in San Francisco as part of The Long Now Foundations seminars on long-term thinking.

The lecture, "Making Digital Durable: What Time Does to Categories" was to address "one of the most intractable problems of the information age: how to preserve digital information and tools in usable condition beyond ten years." I would have loved to be there...I like what Clay writes about social software, and he is apparently a great speaker. The good news is The Long Now does record its seminars and makes them available here. I see Ray Kurzweil's September 2005 lecture is up so the wait shouldn't be too long.

And a couple of attendees blogged about the lecture, including Merrilee from RLG at hangingtogether and More Like This and Paul Miller at Demos Greenhouse.

Monday, November 21, 2005

California Dreamin'

I spent the last week in California, attending the Virtual Reference Desk Conference (VRDC) near San Francisco, and then doing a scan presentation as part of a library futuring program for the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System (MCLS) in Los Angeles.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must note that VRDC is part of my portfolio at OCLC, so my comments here should be seen in the prism of boosterism! That being said, VRDC was a terrific experience. I am a defrocked reference librarian who still loves the concept of being the information guru, despite the fact that I know my skills have atrophied. The enthusiasm of the participants was palpable, except for one person who hung around the registration desk to complain about everything. It was like having Statler and Waldorf wrapped up in one person.

VRDC ended on a somewhat bittersweet note. The Department of Education has pulled its funding for the Virtual Reference Desk program at Syracuse University's Information Institute, and OCLC can't manage this conference alone. So David Lankes, a.k.a. as "Virtual Dave," told the audience, "The future of the conference is in your hands." He asked for volunteers to participate in a telephone call next month about the future of the conference, and more than a dozen people volunteered. We shall see what happens.

I left San Francisco for Los Angeles, and on Wednesday morning, I was on a panel with Susan Hildreth, the state librarian of California, and Joan Frye Williams, the delightful speaker and consultant, discussing the future of libraries. The three of us had done a similar program in San Francisco in September, but we used a different format for the question and answer session. Pam Alger of MCLS gathered the questions from the audience following our morning program, and then she presented the questions to Joan, Susan and me. We were able to be much more direct in our answers, because we didn't know who we might be insulting. One of Joan's points is that part of the reference job I used to love, being the information guru, is about as dead as Elvis.

NYT: Privacy vs Convenience

I am behind on my newspaper reading so I just, this evening, read the Sunday New York Times. The Week In Review section has an article on libraries and data and privacy, "Books for Lending, Data for Taking."

Nothing earthshattering in the article but I was glad to see the mainstream media recognize the "rock and a hard place" position libraries are in with regard to mining data to personalize users' experiences.

That said, as I have suggested many times in presentations, there has to be a way libraries can offer increased personalization to users as a deliberate choice. If my library asked, I would risk my personal data as an exchange for personalized information...Alane, you clearly like Alice Munro...may we send you some recommendations based on this? Readers' advisory for the web.

Blanket policies don't really work anymore. Libraries need to accommodate convenience as well as privacy, but on a sliding scale, not an absolute one.

Seen on Flickr

Out of the
clubs and
//into the

See the good story on tagging from CNET. Also awesome visual for how Flickr works with Yahoo.

Where's My Train?

I like's an interactive map showing the real locations of the suburban trains in the city of Dublin. The other one, the real one in Ireland. The creator, a Dublin fellow, says he takes the realtime data from Irish Rail, smooshes (my word, not his) it a bit and maps it onto Google Maps.

Most inventive and useful one would think...wonder what it looks like on a handheld? If only libraries still had bookmobiles.....there could be maps with little icons of buses making the rounds. It wouldn't be quite so exciting watching the book you placed on hold wending its way towards you, would it? Or perhaps it would if you were 43rd on the list for a much-wanted book. Or could the location of reference librarians be mapped on a university campus--help is on the way!

It's interesting to watch presence develop on the web. I wish libraries were doing more in this area. Lists of content or services or buildings do not a presence make.

Diwali, or Festival of Light

I went to a Diwali celebration last night--the Festival of Light in India. There was music, singing, dance, a special fashion show, food and friends.

I bring it up because I realized three things about libraries and communities, while I experienced my first Diwali:
1. I had no idea this celebration even existed.
In my North-American-centered world, this major festival had never registered before. No news coverage. Not even when I lived in the UK. So I didn't know it existed. Of course, if I would have sat down and thought really hard, I probably would have realized that there should be a Christmas-equivalent (in terms of status/societal importance) in India. But the simple fact is, I rarely sit down and think hard about things outside the scope of my experience.

-->Your library may be completely awesome, but if you don't get regular news coverage or generate a visible, tangible presence in people's lives--would-be library supporters may not actually know you exist. Even though you're right downtown! Even though you have a big brick building! Even though there are blue signs everywhere!

2. The room was populated with people from all cultures.
I freely admit (as if you hadn't guessed from this post yet) that I do not have a South Asian/Indian background. I do have a Native American background--but that is as close as I get to India, with bloodlines. But bloodlines don't matter much, in the 21st century. Or do they?
It's easy to assume that only Indians would be interested in an Indian festival, but that was clearly not the case. I went to learn and to experience something new.

-->People may walk through your door, hit your site, use your database, chat on virtual reference software who are bloodlines library supporters (you know what I mean) and people who know absolutely nothing about an OPAC. But they've shown up and how can you make them feel welcome?

3. It's difficult to articulate your own culture when you're still in it.
As I watched the traditional dances and listened to music from Bollywood, I reflected how difficult it would be, had the positions been reversed. If I lived in India, and wanted to encapsulate all American culture into a single evening event for my host country--what would I say? How would I structure it to reflect a true experience? Would we sing country and western ballads? Jazz? Re-enact a baseball game? There is so much to communicate, where would I start?

-->As a citizen of the library (and you as library staff members/librarians), I get lost in the details. I mean there is so much good stuff (!) and so many intricacies of the way holds and reserves are set, databases are accessed, etc. But in order to get good perspective on what's important to my library culture, I need to leave the building. Go live with another culture (be that the coffee shop, the supermarket, the hospital, the police station, the fitness center, the train station) for a day. And then bring those reflections back with you, when you return to your own.

To sum up, the experience of my first Diwali also made me realize: while I am not Indian myself, I actually have a lot in common with many people who are.

To experience another culture is to recognize your self, within it.
Now I am feeling distinct *profound*! Anyone else have a good Diwali story to share?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Academic blogging

A very good article in Slate on the perils of academics' blogging. The author, Robert Boynton, a non-blogging academic, raises some interesting points about academic antipathy to blogging. This one reminded me of the debate among librarians' about the worth(lessness) of Wikipedia. "The current antipathy toward blogging may have something to do with the fact that universities have no tools for judging blogs."

How People Use Books

There cannot be many of you who have not read or heard of Michael Gorman's latest statements on the foolishness of "reducing scholarly texts to paragraphs" published in the Wall Street Journal on November 1, 2005, in an article about Google Print (I won't provide a link because this content is behind a wall). If you were perhaps in Mongolia with the Bushes, there are summaries here and here. The particular sentence that raised my hackles (again) was this: "The point of a scholarly text is they are written to be read sequentially from beginning to end, making an argument and engaging you in dialogue.” [I wonder if Dr. Gorman actually said this sentence in which there is the grammatical error of lack of agreement..."a scholarly text" and "they are written."]

Gorman has made similar assertions in the past. In "Google and God's Mind," [pdf] Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2004 and then reprised in his now infamous LJ article "Revenge of the Blog People." My very own personal opinion is that this is arrant nonsense. And based on...on...what? Is there any research, any data to support his assertions about how scholars are supposed to read? Or is it how ordinary people are supposed to read scholarly texts? Is there a difference?

Well, as luck has it, I have been spending time rummaging around looking at surveys and reports of surveys and bibliographies of surveys because of our report I keep mentioning as being almost ready to publish. (It really is almost ready to release....we have been rather bogged down in editing by committee) I discovered that in 1985 Gordon Sabine and Patricia Sabine conducted a survey of how people use books and journals, in particular technical and professional material.

I should have already known about this because the study was conducted with the aid of a grant from OCLC, and OCLC founder Fred Kilgour wrote a letter to 50 librarians asking them to nominate people to participate, but we don't have the book here. The resulting report was published as an 18 page book called How People Use Books. This may be hard to find. But, Sabine and Sabine also published a report of the study in Library Quarterly, v56, no.4 1986, pp. 399-408.

As the authors point out themselves, the sample size is small (613) and the participants are not "typical patrons" but are heavy users of scientific-technical volumes. Sixty-nine percent of the interviewees had occupations in the hard sciences and 21 percent were social scientists and "persons in the arts and the professions." So, I'd guess there 'd be a scholarly type or two among the group.

Here's the question asked that is germane to this posting:

"When you use a volume from the library these days, do you generally find yourself using the entire volume or just parts of it?"

The data are presented in the article but here's the summaries for the question.

"These interviewees read very small portions of the books and journals they most recently examined; six out of ten read 10 percent or less."

"Most interviewees--eight out of ten--reported they generally read only small parts of the books and journals they use these days rather than using entire volumes."

"A higher proportion of hard scientists read only 10 percent or less of the cited volume."

Here's some of the verbatim comments the authors report: "I read only what I need"; "I used to be a whole book person, but more and more I'm going for narrower and narrower portions of books"; "If it's completely in my field, I read the whole book. If it's not, I read just the parts in my specialty, be that a chapter or a page or even just one paragraph."

One scientist commented on "a real problem" with searching for the information one needs: "Books still are organized as books [...] These data are not organized necessarily for easy browsing, and one cannot get at just that information one wants. A complicated organization like a knowledge base is going to be required for finding technical information."

Hmmm, a knowledge base like Google Print perhaps?

So, slight as this research is, I can at least point you to empirical evidence that some scholarly people in 1985 did not read scholarly texts from beginning to end.

I can't say this with any certainty, but the way Gorman suggests reader and text should engage one another is reminiscent of the ideas of New Criticism, the literary criticism movement that flourished in the 1930s and 1940s, and whose members included F.R. Leavis, I.A. Richards, William Empson and John Crowe Ransom. It was brilliant stuff in its day but has little to say anymore about the way real people interact with real texts, digital and print.

But lots of people are writing. Check out this, and this and this and this. And no doubt there's articles galore and a few dissertations.

If Gorman is aware of recent research that supports his assertion about how texts are to be read, I'd be most interested in hearing from him, and I'll be happy to point people to data supporting his opinion. Otherwise, he could do the profession a favour, and just not say this ever again.

Monday, November 14, 2005


So a while ago I was doing a presentation for a public library that will remain nameless. Before my 8:30 showtime, I had a breakfast meeting with my hosts, a group of reference librarians and branch staff. We had a very pleasant discussion, and they were telling me about all the changes the city had been going through. The tax base was eroding, the formerly vibrant downtown had decayed and was seen as scary by the suburbanites, the demographics were changing so that the city was rapidly becoming minority majority.

After listening to this for a while, I asked (innocently, I swear), "So with all this change in the city, how has the library changed?" Dead silence. 15, 20 seconds, nothing but crickets. Finally, one of the librarians talked about how they were answering many more questions using electronic resources, and more people were using the website. But absolutely nothing about adding collections in new languages or themes, changing hours to reflect the users' needs, recruitment to diversify the staff, or much of anything else. I felt like a Victorian who had just inquired after the crazy aunt who lives in the attic: I embarrassed both my hosts and myself with an inappropriate question.

A long time ago, I worked in a branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library that was in a neighborhood which had once had a large Polish population. The branch had developed an outstanding collection of Polish literature and English works in translation. The trouble was, by the time I worked there in the 1970s, the Polish population in the neighborhood was gone, moved out of the inner city to the 'burbs. The community was about evenly divided among African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Irish-Americans.

Libraries have been respected over the years because they are solid, reliable institutions. As always, though, our greatest strengths can become our most debilitating weaknesses. It's not easy to change the direction of a large institution like an urban public library. There's never enough money to overhaul collections or revamp or retrain staff. There can be political, bureaucratic, or collective bargaining reasons for not making change.

But every time someone looks in a library and doesn't see something or someone that indicates that this library is for him, we've missed another opportunity. And to face the 21st century with a 19th or even 20th century service plan is a tragic waste of scarce public resources.

Stephen's Big Ideas

Stephen Abram is a one-man band...more energy than whole cheerleading squads and more good points than the biggest box of Crayola Crayons. His latest article published at SirsiDynix OneSource is called "Five Big Questions to Drive Strategic Thinking." (All his presentations and OneSource articles are here.)

His five questions are:
1. Have our users changed in a material way? (Yes)
2. Can we relax a bit now that we've adapted to the last few BIG changes? (No)
3. Is there another big environmental or technological change on the way? (Yes)
4. Are we automating for the future? Or are we just automating 19th and 20th century processes? (Sort of)
5. Do we have the energy, resources, flexibility, and the money? (Of course)

Go read the whole article. Thought provoking, as Stephen's stuff always is.

I read this article a couple of hours ago, and question 1 was a timely one for me because I'd been musing over the weekend on the stereotyping I think we are all guilty of now and then, of "senior citizens" (a phrase I am not fond of). I hear from librarians frequently that "seniors" who use their libraries resist new technologies and offer this as reason not to change the status quo.

Well, my dad turned 70 this past June. I think he's probably pretty typical of his age and experience. He knows how to use computers because he's used them as adjuncts to his job in several different careers, and he's been using one for personal reasons for sometime. He is web-savvy because he discovered the web is a good way to find information and stuff (especially now he lives in Panama). And he's also broken most of the records on his Xbox rally driving game. I gave him the Xbox and the game as a 70th birthday present even though he'd never played any kind of video game. I picked the rally game because he used to be a rally driver, and he's driven several of the routes included in the game.

My point is that my dad learned about computers and the web and video because these technologies all had a context for him: part of a job, a way to keep in touch, and as absorbing entertainment. He has a lifelong habit of learning and it is this habit that defines people far more than their age. Older library users are not homogenous anymore than young library users are. But many library staff know very little about their communities of users beyond big broad cliches--a bad basis for designing services.

As Stephen says: "The general "public" just ain't so general anymore" and I'll bet there are quite a few "senior citizens" in your library's community like my dad.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Armistice Day

Alane's post about Remembrance Day reminded me of my beloved grandfater, Joe Duffy. He was 25 years old when World War I began. He was living in Buffalo, New York, but when the war started, he crossed the border into Canada and joined the Canadian Army, fighting for King and Crown. This is very strange, because he was a devout Roman Catholic, and just as devout an Irishman. This was right before the Easter Uprising, and Irish Catholics didn't have a lot of fealty to King and Crown. Family lore says Joe joined the army not so much because he was PO'd at the Kaiser as that he was PO'd at his wife. Whatever.

There are two songs about World War I that I particularly love. The first is Eric Bogle's "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda," about the disastrous attack by Australian soldiers on the Turkish stronghold at Gallipoli. The second is by John McCutcheon, "Christmas in the Trenches," about the informal Christmas truce of 1914.

I still like the old US name for this holiday, Armistice Day. That's how Joe Duffy always referred to it. He was in trenches on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, and the armistice meant he was free to come home, marry his second wife (my grandmother), and get on with his life. He never spoke of the war.

I promise my next post will have something to do with libraries. I do have a story to tell, but I need a bit more time to digest it.

Podcast feeds on InfoTrac

Now we're talking at least some format integration in library resources. Repeat the mantra: content not container.

Thomson Gale has podcasts loaded into its InfoTrac databases. Check out the press release. Eager to try it out...

Remembrance Day

I should be wearing a little red fuzzy plastic stylized poppy on my sweater today, but I have never seen one here in the US although my husband, the American, says he used to wear poppies as a child. When I was a kid in England, a few weeks before Remembrance Day people with trays of poppies and donation boxes would appear, and my mum, me and whichever siblings were along would put our sixpences in the box and get our own poppies to wear, in remembrance. In the 60s, they were made of thick felt, with a two part center--a green bit and a black bit--held together with a straight pin.

And when we moved to Canada, the poppies were there too, and we learned by heart the poem by Canadian Lt-Gen John McCrae, In Flanders Field. He wrote it on May 3, 1915, during the second Battle of Ypres, the day after a good friend of his had been killed--blown to bits by artillery fire.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

At 11:00am on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, after more than four years of fighting, fighting ceased on the Western Front as set out in the armistice between Germany and the Allies. In the UK, and the other Allied countries, November 11 is known as Remembrance Day which I think--my own personal opinion--is more inclusive than Veterans' Day of all the people who were and are involved by choice-- or not-- in wars.

My maternal grandfather was in the British Merchant Marine for many years, and sailed the North Atlantic in supplies convoys in WWII. My mother and my grandmother stayed behind in the port city of Plymouth, England which was heavily bombed and nearly destroyed during The Blitz.

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Pete Seeger

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Presentation Zen

My friend Gregor pointed me to this blog by Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen. I don't know how many powerpoints you do, but there are times when my days and nights seem filled with them. My own or someone else's.

So his site was a breath of fresh air, to see examples of good and not-so-good presentations. He provides easy, "duh" kind of tips that I forget all the time:
*Don't put your hand in your pocket
*Don't fold your hands across your chest
*Don't do a very complicated visual and think you've actually communicated anything

There's a bit in there about presenting naked too, but you didn't hear it from me!

Debate on Google Print at NYPL

Now, here's an event I'd love to attend. November 17 at New York Public Library: THE BATTLE OVER BOOKS: Authors & Publishers Take on the Google Print Library Project. The event is cosponsored by Wired magazine and the panelists are luminaries in their worlds: Allan Adler, Association of American Publishers; Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine; David Drummond, Google; Paul LeClerc & David Ferriero, The New York Public Library; Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law School; Nick Taylor, The Authors Guild . (Hmmm, all guys...) You'll recall that NYPL is one of the "G5".

No indication of the event being podcast, but perhaps an attendee or two could blog it?

(Noted on Dave Winer's Scripting News blog.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Amazon Shorts

I missed this additional content offering from Amazon. Amazon Shorts are short literary works available for purchase--49 cents!--from well-known authors that have never been published anywhere else--and won't be for at least 6 months according to the FAQ. Amazon made a foray into original content a year or so ago when they showed made-for-Amazon short films over a period of weeks. With Amazon Shorts, the line between content seller and publisher just got a lot fuzzier.

In the FAQ:
What types of material can I list as an Amazon Short?
Any previously unpublished short-form work (2,000 - 10,000 words, fiction or nonfiction) you've created that your readers would find interesting. An Amazon Short could be a single short story, an update on a well-loved character, a compelling speech, additional material that enriches your published works, or even your commentary on your work or other subjects. Some authors have chosen to treat this as a "laboratory" for experimentation with new genres, themes, etc. We are open to creative ideas for new work.

This will drive collection development librarians nuts...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Books! Books!! Books!!!

As Alice remarked in her post about the recent Amazon announcement about Amazon Pages and Amazon Upgrade, you might have read it in the Scan first. Here's what we wrote in September 2003 "Amazon’s “search inside” ups the ante in this arena, raising consumer expectations that content is searchable and definable at a micro level, and, we predict, payable for—at the micro level. Micropayment for microcontent is the next logical step." And so it is which is why that prediction wasn't really that clever, just a no-brainer extension of Amazon's "search inside the book" capabilities.

Books are the topic de semaine for sure.

I was in South Carolina for the Charleston Conference and on Thursday morning Jerry Kline, CEO of Innovative Interfaces, Inc, gave a speech called Forging the Library's Future in an Electronic World. He had three topics: e-resources, library as place, and books. He asked (I am paraphrasing based on the notes I scribbled on my crossword puzzle) are libraries focusing/spending too much on e-resources? He suggested that provision of materials in this format earns libraries no credit (not visible enough) and that there's evidence that e-resources are underused. He suggested that the physicla library as a gathering place is really important to our communites, and that libraries need to buy more books--physical books. As he said "we [the library community] get credit for each title."

Walt Crawford's Mid-Fall 2005 Cites & Insights has a long essay [pdf] called "Library Futures, Media Futures" in which he draws the threads together of several tossed conversational balls of print versus electronic, place versus virtual, reading versus not-reading from posts and exchanges he has had with others in the blogosphere. This sentence sums up the long piece for me "I don't believe our future (the future of anyone readingthis essay in 2005) is solely digital and I don't see any evidence to support such a massive change."

Chris Anderson has an interesting post on the Long Tail of books and he links to an equally interesting article by Tim O'Reilly on the huge number of books in what he calls the "twilight zone." These are the so-called orphan the public domain or not? Tim makes some interesting points about the Google Print program and the American Association of Publishers lawsuit to prevent Google from scanning any books without permission. One of my favourite points (because I happen to agree!):
"...the AAP is asking us to believe that publishers are willing to unearth the contracts for more than 25 million books, track down the authors (since many of those books surely don't grant electronic rights to the publishers, since those rights weren't even conceived at the time many of those contracts were signed), and get their permission to opt them in, and this despite the fact that those 25 million books didn't sell even one copy in 2004. Try to be serious."

And I noticed that the numbers Tim and Chris are using to determine the number of books in the Long Tail and the twilight zone are based on WorldCat numbers. Yes, Tim links to the article "Anatomy of Aggregate Collections: The Example of Google Print for Libraries" by my OCLC Research colleagues, Brian Lavoie, Lynn Connaway and Lorcan Dempsey, published in D-Lib in September.

And something has been bugging me for a bit. Libraries make much of the fact that circulation stats are way up. Does the format of the borrowed material make a difference? Do DVDs and CDs circulate more often than books? I got to thinking that the "return trip" for AV material is likely much shorter than it is for print as it is most likely consumed quickly. In other words, I may borrow 20 DVDs a month but only 5 books because the books take longer to finish. Does this mean that measuring circ stats absent other data is not really worth much as a success assessment? Gatecount might be related too... I might have to come to the library several times a month to replace the DVDs. Do any public libraries measure cardholder use as a percentage of their total communities and break this out by frequency? I don't think I have seen any stats like this.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Micropayments for microcontent

Remember this bit, from the Environmental Scan?

It's becoming reality--and fast.
Check out the NYT article this morning, "Want 'War and Peace' Online? How About 20 Pages at a Time?"

Of course, nothing in the article about Open WorldCat...but there was a story out of Members Council that was pretty cool:

Apparently a Member was coming in for October 2005 Council from the U.K., and he was stopped by Passport security and queried.

"What is Member's Council? What is OCLC?"
And while this librarian started to explain about what the cooperative is, the security person listened for a minute and then cuts him off,
"Oh, you mean WorldCat? Oh yeah, I use WorldCat all the time on the Web!"

Purrr, purrr. Sometimes micropraise is all that is required.

But I AM wondering if Google and Amazon could present the "Find in a Library" option alongside the microcontent--especially if the searcher's library already owns the eBook?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

eBooks Take the Ivory Tower Webcast

Just saw this Webcast opportunity pop up on my LJ Academic Newswire...setting aside the fact that IAG was not cool enough to get a mention in LJ's cover story on library blogs Oct. 1 issue...


On November 15, at 2 p.m. EST, join an online interactive discussion about ebooks in the academic library, the first in series of online programs from the editors of LIBRARY JOURNAL under LJ's URLearning Series.

Topics include trends in ebook pricing models, enhancements and usability, acceptance and usage by different groups, managing collections, and the impact of digitization projects.

The webcast will be hosted by LJ editor Francine Fialkoff and facilitated by Tom Peters, consultant, author, and founder of TAP Enterprises. Panelists include Jim Mouw, assistant director of technical and electronic services at the U. of Chicago; Warren Holder, electronic resources coordinator at the U. of Toronto; and Suzanne Weiner, vice provost for strategic initiatives and head of collection management at North Carolina State.

I'm going to sign up. Who's with me?