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

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Library 2.0? Come again?

You can hardly turn around in the world of library technology without running into mention of Library 2.0 and its impact on today's libraries and their services. I thought I'd put a brief post together linking you to a lengthy definition and a shorter interpretation of it, and an interesting meme map that brings together many of the concepts behind Library 2.0 in a single diagram (my thanks to David Rothman and Meredith Farkas for posting these links to the Web4lib discussion group). Of course, here is also the link to an evolving definition of Library 2.0 at Wikipedia.

Sneakily, I have failed to offer my own sense of Library 2.0. I am still working on that and will share my thoughts here as they coalesce. And, for truth in advertising, the term "Library 2.0" does not appear in my book, but I would say that a lot of the concepts and technologies wrapped up in the term are addressed quite well in three of my chapters (and piecemeal elsewhere). Chapters 9 ("A is for Amazon, G is for Google: The Internet’s Impact on Finding Information"), 10 ("Universal Design and Adaptive/Assistive Technology: Meeting and Supporting Patron Technology Needs"), and 11 ("Virtual Reference, Blogs, and Usability: Library Web Sites and Web Services").

Monday, January 08, 2007

Balance and innovation

Two articles in the January 2007 American Libraries caught my eye. "Balancing the Online Life" (pp. 42-45), by Meredith Farkas, introduces a new AL column of hers called "Technology in Practice" -- highlighting stories of technological innovations and success stories from libraries. The article itself is a good read on the current state of Web tools that many in the library community have brought into our daily lives (and she also touches on the issue that while we may have a generation divide in these technologies, that may be narrowing).

Also, Stephen Abram's short piece "20 Tips to Inspire Innovation" (pp. 47-48) is a quick read of thoughts on approaching changes in your library. Not all of them are technological in nature, but I think they can be applied to the larger picture of our library services. Three, "1. Good not perfect," "3. Prefer action over study," and "17. Cheap is expensive," really spoke to me.

The virtual presence of libraries

In case you missed the Fall 2006 netConnect supplement to Library Journal, let me recommend Karen Coombs article "Planning for Now and Then." It's a great (albeit short) introduction to the concept of Library 2.0 and some of the tools that libraries are putting in place to enhance their virtual reach. Links to a variety of existing projects and discussions are provided.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Alas, poor NOTIS! I knew him, Horatio . . .

Marshall Breeding's excellent Library Technology Guides site offers a visual chronology of library systems and mergers and acquisitions in the industry. It does give one some pause as you consider the possibilities of choosing a vendor (for library systems or anything else) who may not be around for more than a few years. NOTIS was around for nearly twenty years and now is ten years gone. On the other hand, a some of the vendors have been around in some form for 20 or 30 years.

Longevity of any technology provider, let alone the technologies themselves, is something of a crap-shoot. This state of affairs does show the importance of flexibility in technology planning and adaptation. We need to go into any new system or service with the idea that future events could alter them entirely, staying aware of those events and being prepared to shift when the time comes. As well, existing, foundational pieces of our library services must also be viewed with question.

The chart shows that predictions are few, changes are many, and that yet, somehow, libraries and their technologies persevere.

Books: Print 'em as you need 'em!

As will soon become obvious, I am catching up on a few topics that I meant to get to in December. First (well, maybe second after the CSE update): the Espresso Book Machine from OnDemandBooks. A
story from CNN provides the details, and the vendor's site includes some further links and a video of the machine in operation.

Fast facts: Two books, printed and fully bound, created in seven minutes. The New York Public Library will receive one in February. You can have one of your own for $50,000. 2.5 million books are currently available (1 million in English, all in the public domain).

So, does this mean that providing printed books on demand is a viable concept in libraries? Well, not exactly, at least until the number of books expands and the entry price goes down. But for the moment, it is an interesting possibility for a library to use to expand its collection without expanding the required space for printed copies. Small libraries could expand their collections exponentially for a $50K investment. Larger libraries could avoid using interlibrary loan to track down public domain materials; just print them in house. There's quite a move on now to just buy inexpensive copies of ILL-requested items from auctions and then give the book to the patron. Isn't this much the same?

Well, there are obviously a lot of holes here. But I am interested to see NYPL give this a try and watch how the idea expands. I hope we'll hear more about this in the months to come.

A CSE attempt

As a follow-up to my post on CSEs, I have created one (almost two, but I haven't had the time to finish the other). I set up a CSE that searches the websites of Ohio's twenty-three regional campuses. I know what you're thinking: "how can I advertise on this search engine?" 8-) Is this a useful thing? Will this help anyone? Why would I make my own search engine? Well, I am trying to answer all of these questions, and I am about to announce this search engine to a wider group of people to see what might come of it. I'll let you know. Oh, and if you'd like to see it yourself -- here it is: Ohio Regional Campus Search.