Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bucking the Revolution! At Least Two Libraries Dragging Patrons into the Future Their Way - Whether Patrons Like it or Not!

Two library systems have announced that they are providing digital e-books to their patrons. Maricopa Library District and Hawaii State Library Systems have each announced that they are teaming with to provide exciting new services to patrons.

An interesting aspect of each program is that in an age in which over fifteen million iPods have been sold, doesn't support that technology! Preferring clumsy Microsoft Windows Media Player, the company - and libraries who partner with them - apparently believe that iPod owners aren't worth the effort. In trying to come accross as cutting edge by providing new services using new technology, they demand allegiance to the stuffy monopoly of Microsoft instead of appealing to the true innvators in the MP3 world.

An interesting demonstration of counter-revolution: Why adopt cutting edge technology when blunt-edge will do? After all, blunt edge is Windows compatible!

Go figure!?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A New Definition of Reality!

Dr. Sam Vakin, writing in The Global Politician strains to give us a definition of the book, vis a vis e-books, that demonstrates print's inherent foibles. In his desperate attempt to describe print in terms that show it is inferior to books in digital format, he declares:

"Ostensibly, consumers should gravitate to the feature-rich and much cheaper e-book. But they won't - because the medium is as important as the text message. It is not enough to own the same content, or to gain access to the same message. Ownership of the right medium does count. Print books offer connectivity within an historical context (tradition). E-books are cold and impersonal, alienated and detached. The printed word offers permanence. Digital text is ephemeral (as anyone whose writings perished in the recent bloodbath or Deja takeover by Google can attest). Printed volumes are a whole sensorium, a sensual experience - olfactory and tactile and visual. E-books are one dimensional in comparison. These are differences that cannot be overcome, not even with the advent of digital "ink" on digital "paper". They will keep the print book alive and publishers' revenues flowing."

Perhaps he has forgotten that computers, too, exist in three dimensions, and possess smell and other sensory attributes? It appears to me that his "criticisms" of print are also print's greatest virtues: they exist in the gestalt, the here and now. And, we humans are to be criticized as preferring books because we can hold them, use them without restriction and enjoy them right here, right now?

I'm confused....

Yahoo! and Google's Library Initiatives: The New OPAC's?

BusinessWeekOnline's Stephen Wildtrom recently wrote an interesting article about Yahoo!'s and Google's digital library initiatives. In the article, he makes observations that support a point I've been making continuously on this blog: that Google's "project ocean" will essentially create an online index to the great books of the world. Who knows? Perhaps we're on the verge of a rennaisance in libraries! Mr. Wildstrom concludes with the following observations:

"Even if I end up having to go to a university library to see the whole book, this still strikes me as a powerful tool that I would have died for back in my student days. As useful as the Web is, Google Print shows how much is missing. It's good to see it gradually coming within clicking distance."

Monday, August 01, 2005

Forbes' interesting comment on the "Invisible Web"

Steve Manes has written an interesting essay in the Digital Tools section of Forbes, titled "Google Isn't Everything." With cute, lay-persons' wonder he describes his discovery of the invisible web and the revelation that there beauty is only skin deep!

Most interesting, however, are his comments about arrangement of the resources in the library websites. Sounds vaguely similar to complaints librarians have heard for centuries regarding arrangement of collections. Remember Ranganathan's Fourth Law: Save the time of the reader.

Perhaps Yogi Berra was right again: The more things change, the more they remain the same....

Library Journal article about "LibraryCity" raises more questions than answers

In the article about an apparently interesting and innovative project called LibraryCity [Note: no spaces, a la modern tech patois], the adivosory librarian, Tom Peters is described as:

"an e-book usability expert as well as former director of the Center for Library Initiatives at the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), the academic consortium of the Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago."

Keep in mind an earlier posting below in which the University of Chicago is in the process of building what is being touted as being the largest print library in North America!

The highlight of the article comes when Peters is quoted:

“Our goal is to construct a worldwide digital library of both public-domain and copyright-protected e-books... LibraryCity wants to stretch the traditional notion of a library… For example, we will make it possible for readers to post study guides, comments, and other documents that support the continued use of public-domain information as well as copyright-protected e-books.” It’s not yet clear how that would work.

But it will be fun to see them try....