An introductory guide to library technologies, now in its fourth edition!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Year That Was . . . 2006

If you're looking for a quick wrap-up of stories and activities from the library world of last year, check out the LIS News Ten Stories That Shaped 2006 . There are a goodly number of technology-related happenings to take note of (or that update ongoing issues noted in the book). I especially liked the bonus quote in #6, and the link to a discussion of barriers that tech-savvy library staff.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Digital Divide: The Three Stages (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

A very interesting discussion (and recasting) of the digital divide (which I cover in Chapter 10) by Jakob Nielsen - usability and web design guru. He brings in further issues that separate people from using computers and the Internet at all, or even if they have access, from using them fully. Aside from the economic and usability barriers, his comments on empowerment and individuals' lack of intiative to fully participate in the digital world are worthwhile to consider. Check it out!


Friday, November 10, 2006

So what is a CSE, anyway?

There has been a bit of discussion lately on whether or not enough librarians have been blogging about the relatively new Google Co-op project (, which gives users a chance to create Custom Search Engines (CSE). In response, I thought it was time for me to say a little something about CSE and the opportunity they present for libraries and library users.

CSE's have the potential of creating more focused, topical searches of the Google database. The CSE creator (anyone can play) chooses URLs to include in the search. What you end up with can be a search engine limited to sites that you expect will return great results on your topic. And, as you create the CSE, you can still choose to include general Google results in your CSE results (but with primacy given to your chosen URLs).

An example of a CSE is David Rothman's "Consumer Health and Patient Information Search Engine" ( It's a great collection of sites, pretty well fine-tuned to provide health and medical information for the average Joe from respected government agency and health organization sites.

A potential fear to have here is that, since you are choosing the sites, you might miss out on information on sites that are unknown to you or from newly created sites. One man's focus is another man's having blinders on, I guess. Anyone who has used Google knows that searching the full swath, even with a well constructed search and the relevancy sorting of the search engine, can be improved on. This might be a good start. I'm going to give it a try, and I'll post my results here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Library as Place: The changing nature and enduring appeal of library buildings and spaces

A two-part, September 2006 collection of summaries related to library space and building planning at UI Current LIS Clips: A Current Awareness Service for the Library and Information Community. The summaries of the articles and links to additional resources would be a quite helpful addition to my Chapter 15 on "Ergonomics, Infrastructure, and Space: Building the Library Technology Environment." Not every detail is technology-related, but a good number of them are.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Of security systems and RFID

I recently toured a newly renovated academic library (very impressive: over 130 workstations plus wireless laptops to checkout, plus a Starbucks). The materials had never been stripped for a typical electromagnetic security system, and the staff had considered adding that or an RFID system. In the end, they opted to budget to replace any items that disappeared, and see just what the lack of a system would cost them.

It's an intriguing idea and question: just how much does the average library lose (without a system), and does the system pay off? I know what the industry will tell you, but the truth of the matter could be quite different. And again, situations differ, but I wonder if anyone has really established such a record of loss to absolutely justify adding a system.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Audio e-books: choices, choices!

I have been looking into audio e-books for a while now, experimenting a bit to see what might work best in my library setting. I have been unable (long story I won't go into here) to get into the downloadable models offered by Overdrive and NetLibrary (where patrons can download audio- or text- e-books to view/listen to on their PCs, PDAs, or MP3 players -- or in some cases burn them to CD). I've been looking at Playaway as a possibility. Playaway sells audio books as little MP3 players loaded with a single book. You can circulate them as single item (much as you would a print book) or you can also provide patrons with headphones or FM transmitters.

I see the plus with Playaway in that patrons who are not already comfortable with MP3 players do not have the hurdles of a) downloading the title, b) then getting the title onto their MP3 player, and c) getting the title to play correctly. Even with MP3-friendly folks, there are real technical support issues to consider on getting all the pieces to work together. With Playaway, though, will each title get enough use to justify purchasing it? The device is not reloadable at the library level, so if I really wanted three copies of Memoirs of a Geisha, and no one ever checks out How to Prevent a Robot Uprising (great read/listen, by the way), I can't wipe out the latter to accomodate another copy of the former.

Or, should I give up on any of these options because the titles are not the best fit for an academic library setting? We buy a fair amount of fiction and rent McNaughtons for popular reading, so this might not be that different. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Disruptive Innovation and the Academic Library

Presentation materials from David W. Lewis, who spoke at the OhioLINK Annual Directors' Meeting in March 2006. I think this PowerPoint captures the elements he spoke about regarding the transition in libraries from physically-owned and licensed electronic resources to open web and open access resources over a 25 year span. He analyzes libraries and their provision of information using the ideas developed by Clayton Christiansen in his "Innovator's Dilemma" and other books.

I apologize for being somewhat academic-focused, but does the sort of transition Lewis forsees for academic libraries have relevance for public libraries? Can public libraries continue as more (though not all or, in time, even majority-) print focused institutions when compared to academics?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

E-resources, front and center!

For the past month (and for two months to come), my library is in an intriguing situation. After a lengthy addition of a new roof during the spring (the smell of tar does get to you after a while), we have been forced to abandon the library for the summer while we get a new HVAC system and a new ceiling (all new ductwork). We've set up a small library access center in a room just off of our main computer lab (which is on the lower level of the library, but they have their own HVAC system - go figure).

Anyway, it brings our e-resources front and center, since there is no "library" to browse around in. We're still accessing the collection twice per day (so the ability of patrons to self-request items to be pulled from the collection has been huge) and shelving periodicals (they have to go somewhere). But everything is under plastic sheeting, and the library staff are camping out in a trailer.

We're just out back of the library (so it was easy to run networking and phone lines out to us), and we can still get into our back workroom for the bathroom. We'll be happy to have it over, but it will be worth it.

It has been interesting to let people know about upcoming changes and see their reactions. Many users already access our resources remotely, and so there is no big change. A few patrons (even though it's summer) are really dependent on the "in-person" experience and drop by the assistance center quite a bit. Most common are folks who are used to accessing us from home or their offices on campus, but every now and then just like to drop by to browse or grab a particular periodical. Everyone is surviving, but it does give me a new perspective on what the library might become (everything physical in storage; some sort of place for people to gather and interact with library staff; vast amounts of use of e-resources as a first choice. Maybe that's already happening.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

It's the end, or is it?

A great presentation by Thomas Dowling of OhioLINK at the May 3, 2006, Southwestern Ohio Council on Higher Education (SOCHE) Library Conference: "Academic Libraries in a Googleized World": "Imminent Death of Libraries: Film at 11"

One interesting part of Thomas' presentation involved the need for a single search box (whether a meta-search or a site search option) on every library web site. You can see what I'm doing at our library site. Does everybody have one of these? Should we all?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Anybody remember floppy disks?

A column on information storage formats going obsolete from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Anybody remember floppy disks?

For me, I'm ready to see floppies die. We have patrons dropping in all the time who saved documents to a floppy, and now cannot get it to work on any machine on campus. I know they're not exactly dirt cheap (or as cheap as a floppy yet), but I wouldn't trust my data to anything other than a flash drive.

TechEssence.Info | The essence of technology for library decision-makers.

This is a new blog that could have some very interesting discussions on it, given the list of contributors TechEssence.Info | The essence of technology for library decision-makers.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Monday, February 27, 2006

The End of Books

The End of Books

See? Even in 1894 they saw the end coming. Right. Any day now. 8-)