Library Journal picked up my recent piece, "All Hat, No Cattle," which they subtitled: "A call for libraries to transform before it's too late."
I think I make two key points:
* librarians have to DO something, not just complain to each other.
* the emerging publishing marketplace is way more interesting than just what the Big Six are up to.
What a fun time to be a librarian!
A few days ago, I was talking with someone about the richness of Greek mythology, about how well it delineated the range of human types. I remembered having written a local newspaper column about my daughter Maddy's fascination with those stories. After digging around, I found it in my archive of columns at LaRue's Views. That particular piece, written when Maddy was four, can be found here. I would add this: Maddy's deep immersion in these tales helped to make her an emotionally intelligent soul.
I sent it along to Maddy, who expressed the perfectly reasonable desire to read more about herself when she was little. I told her to just use the Blogspot search box (upper left corner) for her name, or for the phrase "my daughter." And then I realized that I could also search for "my son," born "Perry," but who later legally changed his name to "Max," which totally suits him better. (That's another story, but a cool one: the teenager…
The Douglas County Libraries has many extraordinary staff members. Four of them are Colbe Galston, Elizabeth Kelsen Huber, Katherine Johnson, and Amy Long. They are all librarians. I'm very pleased to note their recent article, Community Reference: Making Libraries Indispensable in a New Way. It's in the latest (June, 2012) issue of American Libraries.
Our library has been doing a lot of work on the cutting edge of our profession. This one - "Community Reference" - is important. It represents a shift from an internal to a more wholistic focus. Instead of asking what serves the library, we now ask how can the library serve the community? This may surprise some librarians, but it's not all about us. On the other hand, we have a host of skills that can not only make our whole environment (cultural, political, economic, etc.) better. This is also an opportunity for us to demonstrate our worth.
Let me also acknowledge a profound intellectual debt. The mantra of my s…
A couple of weeks ago, I turned on my System76 Meerkat NetTop (which I'd bought back in December of 2010 for $400) and heard the SNAP of some kind of electrical/power discharge. Dead. Although System76 is a great company, and the hardware seems generally reliable for most people (judging by online reviews), it marked the THIRD problem I'd had with my unit, and this one was out of warranty. Sometimes you get a lemon, no matter who the manufacturer is. So I unplugged and recycled it.
The good news: I back up my home computer every week in several places. I didn't really lose anything but a few emails.
At about that time, I got an electronic ad from the local Micro Center. So I wandered over, and picked up an Acer Aspire (5733/5733Z/5333 Series) series laptop for $300. Oddly enough, this morning I read an article by a librarian about why this is totally the wrong time to buy a laptop. Maybe ... if you really want the latest and greatest.
The truth is, my needs are si…
At a recent retreat of the Colorado Public Library Directors, it was clear that a lot of libraries want to provide ebooks to their patrons. It's also clear that they very much like the simple principles asserted by the Douglas County Libraries model to date. Those are:
- ownership. Libraries need physical possession of the file.
- discounts. Libraries are volume purchasers, and as such, deserve discounts.
- integration. With possession of the file, we can do a much better job of providing a simple, powerful and consistent user experience.
A few other principles matter, too:
- a Common Understanding (see the eVoke website, below), rather than complex contracts and licenses for each publisher, that spells out the terms of our business agreement. For instance, that we limit use to one at a time, using industry standard DRM, and that we'll buy extra copies of the file to meet the demands of simultaneous use (within budget constraints, of course).
- a "click to buy&quo…
I was saddened this morning to see that Ed is no longer with us. The Denver Post reported it this morning here.
Ed's website, containing much of his work, is here.
I'll miss his writing. Ed was one of the most original writers and thinkers I've found. He could be counted on to come with an utterly unexpected take on almost any topic, and often made me laugh out loud.
Some years back, a bunch of Colorado librarians met in Salida at what was then Il Vicino's -- the now famous "First Annual Ayn Rand Beer Festival." He was as quirky, smart, and funny in person as he was in print. I also have an autographed copy of his columns. His loss not only diminishes the Denver Post, it diminishes the world.
I'm just back from a two day retreat in Durango with about 40 other public library directors. Durango is a cool place, and the library, headed by Andy White, is vibrant and beautiful. I walked there one morning from downtown, along the lovely Las Animas River.
We talked about a lot of things. I presented on what we've been doing with the Douglas County Libraries e-content/ebook management platform. Then, and most powerfully, each library director gave a 3 minute update on what was happening in their respective organizations and communities.
This isn't a comprehensive overview. But it highlights the key trends, I think:
* public computing centers. The Colorado State Library's very ambitious Broadband Technology Opportunity Programs (BTOP) grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have made a big difference in a lot of towns. (See my other blog posting two entries below.) Not only are libraries helping people retool to find jobs and gain computers skills, the…
OK, there's definitely a perspective here. But having just come from a library gathering where we wondered openly, "Is Amazon evil?" the following links may be of interest. Of greatest concern to me personally is the piece by Michael Naumann. The Germans have mandated fixed pricing, set by publishers. Horrors! And yet ... publishers thrive, literary fiction thrives, independent bookstores thrive, and books are cheaper in Germany than anywhere in Europe. Are there lessons to be leaned for the U.S.?
The Nation Magazine Explores Amazon
With a cover proclaiming "Amazon and the Conquest of Publishing," the latest issue of the Nation magazine focused upon the online retailing giant.
In his article "The Amazon Effect," former editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review Steve Wasserman chronicled the history and current status of the company. He observed that from the start, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos "understood two things. One was the way the Internet ma…