January 27, 2010

iPad unveiled! Public urged to remain calm.

A few items from eReader News Now on today's launch of the Apple iPad

  • SAN FRANCISCO Apple's glitzy introduction of the iPad is expected to supercharge the new business of distributing electronic versions of books. The new product, which combines the functions of an e-reader and a full-powered laptop computer in a large-screen. iPod-like, wireless device, has triggered waves of excitement and hyperbole across the publishing industry today. For instance, along with the books the iPad will make available in ePub format, it also facilitates the easy use of video in the pages of those books as well as the newspapers and magazines that are signing up to be part of iPad's content. Media executives in New York today raved about the gadget's potential to truly and fully merge interactive elements into traditional publishing formats.
  • The iPad as an e-book reader is a no-brainer. It’s just infinitely better-looking and more responsive than the Kindle, not to mention it has color and doesn’t require external illumination. (Book fans should note, however, that the iPad e-bookstore (iBook) won’t offer bestsellers at $10 each, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble do. And although Apple says the iPad has a 10-hour battery life, it hasn’t yet said “doing what.” Playing video eats up battery a lot faster than reading e-books.)
  • As much of a challenge as the design presents, iBooks may signal a new era in book selling. Although ebooks are available from multiple online retail points, Apple's major centralized ebooks store is the first to present a genuine challenge to Amazon. Five of the six major publishing houses -- Penguin, Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group -- have signed on to iBooks. Random House is the lone holdout, so no, you won't be able to read "The Da Vinci Code" on an iPad (at least, not yet).
  • Additionally, Jobs said Apple is using the open EPub format, whereas Kindle's format is proprietary. Essentially, anyone with requisite coding smarts can make an Epub version of their own book. Smaller publishers, should they be welcomed by Apple, will be able to get in the game relatively easily; many already use EPub for their ebooks. Theoretically, an individual author could create an EPub ebook and publish from home -- could that kind of self-published book also make it into the Apple iBook store?
  • Steve Jobs says it can read color photos and video. Video, in a book? That would be useful for instructional books -- say, cooking or gardening. But it would be revolutionary for fiction or works of nonfiction. How exciting to use video in fiction! How could it work, exactly?
  • And if you can embed video and pictures in text and use an ereader, what's to separate books from Web pages? Will what we think of as "a book" begin to change?
  • What does this new development mean for libraries? It’s too early to draw any conclusions. Apple hasn’t given the thing to any reviewers yet, there are no iPad-only apps yet (there will be), the e-bookstore hasn’t gone online yet, and so on. So hyperventilating is not yet the appropriate reaction.

January 19, 2010

AskAway ready for your questions


AskAway, is back for the spring 2010 term.

AskAway is a free, chat-based reference service offered by the libraries of British Columbia and the Yukon. This information service offers immediate, interactive, and knowledgeable help on-line.
  • AskAway is free, fast, interactive, and easy to use.
  • Through AskAway, you can connect with expert searchers who can assist with any type of question – from anthropology to zoology, from recommended reading to driving directions – it’s all fair game!
Because AskAway is staffed by libraries from all over British Columbia and the Yukon, the librarian who receives your question will not have access to your personal records and may be unfamiliar with some your home library's policies and practices. For this reason, some questions may be referred back to Alloway Library.

January 14, 2010

THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN AND LIBRARIES

Results of a survey of 835 libraries worldwide were released in December and give a "behind the scenes" viewpoint of how libraries are coping with the current economic climate. The results were compiled by the Charleston Observatory, an informal global affiliation of libraries, publishers and library supply vendors.
Read the full report.

A global survey of the world's libraries in challenging times.
This report has more than enough in it to be a very depressing read. What comes through, however, both in the key findings and in the many unsolicited comments from librarians is not depression or even resignation, but a much more positive and realistic assessment. Library managers see the current difficulties as being an opportunity to rethink what `library’ means in the twenty-first century. It is clear that libraries will have to go beyond measuring activity (through benchmarking and performance indicators) to thinking more about the positive impacts of libraries on student learning, research performance and other key aspects of organizational missions.
The majority of respondents in the survey were from the USA (62.3%) followed by the UK (12.7%), the next largest country representation. Universities, an important focus of the survey, made up almost two thirds (63.6%) of the sample.
The survey confirms what many had expected, that the short-term outlook for libraries in all sectors is a challenging one, given the slowdown in the economy in many parts of the world. It is clear that most libraries are feeling the pinch, with budgets for the current financial year that show either no increase in absolute terms or actual reductions over last year. The reality for the vast majority is that recessionary pressures really are going to make an impact over the next two years. The survey suggests that academic libraries will be the hardest hit by budgetary pressures.

To put some figures on the bare bones: 37.4% of all surveyed libraries expect to cut spending on information resources over the next two years, 28.3% expect to cut staffing budgets and 18.1% will cut spending on services and infrastructure. The academic sector is the least optimistic about the impact of financial stringencies generally. Their main casualties are likely to be library opening hours and levels of reference desk service.

These are fairly deep and painful cuts, not just a continuation of the attritional gains in library efficiency that have been driven for years by below-inflation budget rises. Efficiency saving are probably no longer enough and some serious thinking about the future shape of services and provision is needed. Much of the shortfall will be absorbed through reduced spending on information content, with 69.1% of respondents in all sectors and territories expecting to spend the same or less than they do today in absolute terms.

Looking in more detail at plans for acquiring resources, the survey finds that print (textbooks, monographs and journals) is the main casualty and that the shift to e-only provision is likely to accelerate. A majority, 57.2%, of library spending goes on electronic formats and this proportion is bound to rise rapidly, since library managers report that they are much more likely to switch to e-only journals and e-books (especially) rather than persevere with print. This has profound implications.

Some other findings:
  • For academic libraries in particular, greater co-operation has strong potential for resource savings.
  • Librarians do not perceive that user fees are an effective mechanism to balance the books. Preferred sources for funding are a bigger share of institutional funds or from outside sources

Some comments from participating librarians:
  • Value to society, a school or a community is not always measurable in dollars. Often things are valuable because they enhance life … Libraries and librarians enrich our society
  • Libraries are good at collecting statistics, but not at measuring outcomes. We need methods to show that the resources we provide make a difference to our users and that is not easily captured
  • If students and academics value us and what we deliver they will make the case for us if we come under threat.

Library of Congress Puts Thousands of Historic Books Online

Nearly 60,000 books have been digitally scanned as part of the first-ever mass book-digitization project of the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC), the world’s largest library.

"The Library chose books that people wanted, but that were too old and fragile to serve to readers. They won’t stand up to handling,” said Michael Handy, who co-managed the project, which is called Digitizing American Imprints. “Many of these books cover a period of Western settlement of the United States — 1865–1922 — and offer historians a trove of information that’s otherwise tough to locate,” he said.

The digitized books can be accessed through the Library’s catalog Web site. Library’s Digital Collections site and the Internet Archive (IA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to building and maintaining a free online digital library.

The Library of Congress has digitized many of its other collections — more than 7 million photographs, maps, audio and video recordings, newspapers, letters and diaries can be found at the Library’s Digital Collections site, such as the popular American Memory and the multilingual Global Gateways collections — but “this is the first sustained book-digitization project on a high-volume basis,” Handy said. Because books published before 1923 are in the public domain in the United States thus the LOC has avoided copyright issues faced by Google's scanning project.

To carry out the massive project, ten scanning specialists scan 1,000 volumes per week. Hours after scanning and inspection, the books are available on the Internet.

For more information read the full article by Sarah Rouse.

January 12, 2010

Geese Unleashed in Library.

In the December 2, 2009 edition of Mars' Hill, TWU's student newspaper, a hissing, snapping goose was unleashed on a small number of library users:
"Unleash the Geese
On people who make noise in the library. Even from the study rooms, the noise carries. And cell phones? Come on, take it outside. We're all stressed, don't make it worse than it needs to be."


We agree with the intent of the article-- the library is a place for quiet study-- but take a slightly different approach that includes designating the stairwells as Cell Phone Zones.
On the library's online Borrower's Guide, we read:

Four study zones have been established in Alloway Library
  1. The Silent study area on the lower level; adjacent to the Independent study rooms. Absolutely no talking is permitted in this area. If you must speak to someone who is studying in this area, please move to another part of the building.
  2. Quiet study areas on the main and upper levels and part of the lower level; here, quiet conversation is permitted.
  3. Independent study rooms on the lower & upper levels can be reserved in advance at the Reserve counter for use by one person at a time. Lower level rooms are for silent study.
  4. Group study rooms on the main & upper levels can be reserved in advance at the Reserve counter for use by two to six persons at a time. Quiet conversation only.
Alloway Library plays a key role in the academic life of TWU community members. For many, this is the only building on campus with an atmosphere conducive to study. Please respect their rights and help preserve this atmosphere.... or watch out for that goose!