Posts Tagged ‘Libraries’

I thought I’d share this post with you. Its from Dick Eastman, an extremely tech-savvy genealogist. 

He responds to an email from someone who is horrified that alot of the books in the FamilySearch Family History Library are being digitised so they can be put online, and the original hard copies aren’t being replaced on their shelves. 

This Library/Research Centre is “Mecca” for someone in my field (along with The Fred J. Reynolds Historical Genealogy Department in Allen County Public Library.)

For those who don’t know, FamilySearch is the genealogical organisation owned and run by the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Although they have their own reasons to do with their faith for genealogical research, they offer their resources/services worldwide free, to anyone regardless of their beliefs.

In their Granite Mountain vaults, they have millions of microfilms that are being digitised so they can be put online on their free website, and their books and serials in the FamilySearch Family History Centre are also being microfilmed so they can be OCRed. They are said to be running the world’s biggest digitisation project.

Anyway, have a read of this post and see what you think, and how it may relate to us as librarians (or researchers) in the future:


As a researcher, I am excited about the possibility of being able to access such richness online. As a librarian, I have subdued mixed feelings about the “destruction of books”, even if it is for the “greater good”. I’m sure they have a preservation process for their most precious titles.

I thought the points discussed were thought provoking and not dissimilar to discussions we’ve all had – you might be interested in his opinions about the digital versus “real” books debates that we are hearing and participating in!


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Webstock used to be my no-miss conference until this week. It’s like a combined rock festival and party for geeks – the learning and fun are intense and amazing. If Webstock was a keyword it would be “awesome”.

Nethui was not a rock festival, and less of a party in terms of headiness. Yes, there were superstars like Lessig. Yes the were miraculous acts of collaboration like the special on-off licence for that audience in that room granted by the BBC for a one-off showing of their documentary The Virtual Revolution. You might have watched it, but you can’t say you’re one of the few people in the country who have done so legally. Both of those wonderful things were not what the three days were about – quite the opposite.

The three days were about New Zealanders coming together to look at the challenges of the future and start the conversation around the question, “What do we do now?” It is easy to be brave in an environment in which one’s heroes are on the stage. At Nethui, we were required to be the heroes, in all our everyday ordinariness, speaking in that drab accent we wince at when we hear it from our neighbours and carrying all of the feelings of cultural unworth we New Zealanders seem to cherish.

There are plenty of good summations of the event available – I recommend Russell Brown‘s usual solid effort as a good starter for ten. You can even be a virtual attendee of large parts by viewing the videos collected here.

But if you weren’t there, and you had a question, answer or idea nobody else in the room did – then it wasn’t just you that missed out, it was all of us.

Don’t worry, libraries were well represented. In the last combined session on access, someone at one of the mics said the following:

“It’s not like you can go down to your local library for a lesson on how to use the internet.”

“Yes you can,” came a voice from the far side of the auditorium. I’m not sure who – but I have a suspicion it might have been a new friend from Dargaville. *waves* Whoever it was, they have my applause. *applauds*

When you’re “at the mic” you can often can only keep one thought in your head. “No, but you can’t just go your local library and…”

And then what you really should have been there for happened.

We, all of us from libraries, sitting wherever we were gave him the SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

Zippy Shut Up. by stev.ie
Zippy Shut Up., a photo by stev.ie on Flickr.

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Really? Is the book dead? I don’t think so.  If you define “the book” as a physical artefact of words printed on the page then, no the book isn’t dead it is just transforming. If you define “the book” as the knowledge/entertainment traditionally held within the artefact then again, no, as that is also transforming.

This then is a post that looks at where we are heading, and how that impacts on my twin and intertwined professions of librarianship and authorship. This is why this is posted on a couple of deferent venues.  It all starts with this article: E-book Sales Explode in February as Other Segments Sink. The eBook market has exploded, and time will tell if it maintains its momentum.  I want to prevaricate and say no one can tell the future, but I really believe the future is electronic even when I have no real concept of what it will look like.

The time of the big chain book store is over. I think we are at a fulcrum point, where the publishing, and by virtue of being so heavily linked, library worlds are going to go though radical paradigm shifts.  What I think will happen is that your mass market publishing will be solely in electronic form, and the dead tree books will be collector’s items for bibliophiles and luddites like myself. This will be a challenge for the big publishers and the library world.

So in my not so crystal ball I see several problems. The first being for libraries. When eBooks are so cheap why will people want to use libraries? I can see libraries becoming less and less about fiction, and mass market publications and instead really transforming into the mythical information centre, where non-fiction is king, and access to aggregated  electronic sources is their purpose.  This will be coupled with a real focus on the social services (holiday programmes etc) that libraries offer.

With the demise of the powerhouses in publishing, how am I going to get my books into libraries, and will there be a need for it? I am going to sell my novels through a small publishing house, so how and should we get those works into a library platform is troubling me.

As an author I also see several other issues arising from this brave new world. One is the seeming disregard for copyright and desire for free content in the coming generation. Will the new media bring about a new concept of delivering content? Will there be a place for the traditional author?

Maybe a new model will be the author gives there story away for free, and instead asks for donations? This model of mass patronage is already being mooted around the Internet. And if we are dealing in eformat only, will there be a need for expanded products? Will simply having text on the screen be enough or will there be a need for multimedia products?

I have more questions than answers at the moment, and I thing that may be the shape of living in interesting times!

[This post is repeated on michaeljparry.com, The Room of Infinite Diligence, Sky Warrior Publishing Forums]  

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I have to admit the irony of ready this on a webpage, and then reposting it on a webpage, makes me chuckle.

I think I get the distinction between viewing an Internet resource on an “app” rather than a “traditional” webpage. Except I am not quite convinced, as even on their graph a the peer-to-peer and video traffic is still being funnelled through websites.

But it does make one wonder. If the future of the Internet is NOT in web pages, but in “apps” that are viewed on multi-media devices, where then does that leave library sites and say blogs like this? Will the new trendy thing be a free “app” builder, or “app” host? How many libraries, and LMS suppliers are developing “apps”?  How long will we need to be developing both in conjunction [site and app]?

Interesting indeed.

The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet By Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff [From Wired]

Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting. Chris Anderson explains how this new paradigm reflects the inevitable course of capitalism. And Michael Wolff explains why the new breed of media titan is forsaking the Web for more promising (and profitable) pastures.

Sources: Cisco estimates based on CAIDA publications, Andrew Odlyzko

You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service.

You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone.

This is not a trivial distinction. Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. It’s driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it’s a world Google can’t crawl, one where HTML doesn’t rule. And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen). The fact that it’s easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend. Producers and consumers agree: The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution.

A decade ago, the ascent of the Web browser as the center of the computing world appeared inevitable. It seemed just a matter of time before the Web replaced PC application software and reduced operating systems to a “poorly debugged set of device drivers,” as Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen famously said. First Java, then Flash, then Ajax, then HTML5 — increasingly interactive online code — promised to put all apps in the cloud and replace the desktop with the webtop. Open, free, and out of control.

Continue reading here.

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So it’s library week.

We like everywhere else will be holding a number of events to mark the occasion.

Despite being a little skeptical at first, I think I sort of like the “was surprised” theme for this week. 🙂

so in keeping with the theme I had a question.

As librarians, what question/request has most surprised you?

There are so many, but one that sticks in my mind was recently being asked to write an update on Facebook for someone. It was the strangest conversation trying to explain that I couldn’t write their update for them as it was meant to be their thoughts….

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This interesting post came to my attention, and I thought it was worth reposting.

Guest Post: Libraries are Dying (And That’s A Good Thing) [from See Also a Library weblog by Steve Lawson]

Thu 1 Jul 2010, 11:28 am

I received this email recently from a person whom I don’t know. He mentions that he noticed that I haven’t been writing a lot lately, but perhaps I’d be interested in publishing something by someone else? Here’s an excerpt:

Dear Mr. Lawson,

… The attached article isn’t by me, but it is something that I have found and thought you might be interested in. After [other library bloggers names] refused to publish it, you were the first one I thought of.

The article, or position paper can be thought of as a “provocative statement,” not unlike those from the Taiga Forurm which you have written about so eloquently in the past. But unlike those statements, this piece goes on to explain its reasoning and make a case for its provocation. As a librarian with over ten years in the field, I found myself intrigued, then somewhat ashamed and angry to be taking this position seriously. Now it occurs to me that it might be parody. I simply don’t know what to think, but it seemed as if it might be worth sharing with you and your dozens of readers.

This explanatory note was signed “Nelson V. Waste.” The attached WordPerfect file had no author’s name on it, and it seems entirely likely to me that the whole thing is a put-on, most likely the product of Mr. Waste’s fevered mind. Less likely, but still possible, is that the provocative statement is, in fact, what it appears to be, and Waste is a cover story for the anonymous assistant director (after all, “Nelson Waste” certainly sounds like a pseudonym, doesn’t it?).

Regardless, I believe I share Waste’s estimation of the inherent interest of the statement, and am happy to publish it here for further discussion. -Steve

Libraries are Dying (And That’s A Good Thing) by Anonymous

Within the next 25 years, libraries will become wholly unnecessary. This is a good thing, not a tragedy. Librarians should embrace this fact wholeheartedly, and shift our professional mission to actively bringing this result about and preparing people for a world without libraries.

Just as economists and geologists speak of “peak oil,” the point where humans have extracted half of the Earth’s petroleum deposits, I would posit that somewhere around the year 1992, we reached “Peak Libraries” where half the demand for library services is in the past. But where that demand took place over hundreds or even thousands of years, we are now seeing an acceleration in the need for library services which will culminate in a rapid drop-off in demand, ending, inevitably, at zero.

In my long career as an Associate University Librarian, I have seen the trend increasingly from a world where libraries are one of a very few means of accessing trusted information, to a world where libraries are frequently the last place that people think to look when satisfying an information need. Nearly all the ways that we have distinguished ourselves over the past few millennia–and here I am thinking of collections, cataloging and metadata, and public services such as reference and instruction–are increasingly irrelevant.

Read the rest Here

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I had a realisation this morning that I have not posted anything in other a week. I wonder if that means my love affair with blogging is fading? I do apologise for this woeful lack of diligence on my behalf. 🙂 Actually it’s more like start of year business/craziness, having shifted desks, shifted houses, finished one course, started another, and a hundred and one other things. Inspiration has been flagging under the weight of tiredness. 😆 Now that my house has steps into it though I think some sort of normality will return.

In libraryland we have a fresh coat of paint here in Dannevagas, with some interesting colours going up on the walls. It was almost a shame to have to put the picture books back into their shelves. I did have yesterday a moment of library envy though. This article came to my attention:

Seattle's Central Library, which had Dutch trailblazer Rem Koolhaas as principal architect

New Libraries Revitalize Cities : New library complexes rejuvenate urban centers around the world by including theaters, shops, cafes, offices and even gyms. By: Jonathan Lerner

“A new library is being planned for the center of Aarhus, Denmark’s main port city. It will certainly contain books on shelves. Beyond that, it will not resemble the hushed and stately central libraries of the past. In fact, it is referred to not as a library but an “urban mediaspace.” The building will include flexible conference and project rooms, multimedia learning labs, performance venues, studios for artists and business startups, a shop, a cafe, a tram station and government-service offices where patrons can, for example, apply for social security. Its design competition envisioned “a layered structure that can be navigated like a home page.” It will anchor a sizable stretch of industrial waterfront that will be redeveloped as an esplanade for festivals, markets, sports and leisure. The winning entry shows an irregular, seven-sided, glass-walled building with generous roof overhangs that seem to simultaneously extend protection over the public realm and invite people into a hive of visible activity.

A mixed-use, multimedia complex that is meant to foster social interaction and creative ferment as much as reading and research, the library of the future is also intended as an engine of city-center rejuvenation. Examples have gone up in dozens of places around the world, including Salt Lake City; Vancouver, B.C.; Chongqing, China; the Spanish island of Tenerife; Delft, the Netherlands; Brisbane, Australia; and Cardiff, U.K. Versions are planned in Philadelphia; Oslo; Turin, Italy; Amsterdam; and other cities large and small. These library buildings incorporate a constellation of nontraditional and even non-library uses, like cafes, shops, theaters and auditoriums, galleries, classrooms, conference centers, meeting rooms, recording and broadcast studios, government offices, even housing. Some are placed adjacent to theaters, concert halls and museums to form cultural campuses; others are joined to schools or even hotels.”

I am not one for modern architecture, all that glass and concrete and steel just leaves me cold. I think I must be a romantic at heart, or maybe it’s that Classical education coming to the fore 🙂 however I really like the look of the Seattle Central library, and had a brief vision of something similar perched in the middle of downtown Dannevirke. 😆 That aside it was nice to see a discussion of the library as the centre of the community. It recalled to me the video that was highlight last year about the how a library project in Latvia, jointly funded by the foundation and the Latvian government, has turned Latvia’s libraries into centers of learning.

Which was a little timely since this other article came to my attention this morning:

A new chapter . . . how the Library of Birmingham, due to open in 2013, will look

The battle of Britain’s libraries by Stuart Jeffries

Coffee shops, gigs, free cinema tickets, flashy architecture . . . is this the future of our libraries? Stuart Jeffries on government plans to shake things up – and the people standing in their way

“’It will be much more than just a library. Perhaps we should call it a palazzo of human thought,” says Mike Whitby, Birmingham city council’s leader, as he reclines in his vast office. He’s talking about the new £193m Library of Birmingham, currently under construction at Centenary Square between those other two Brummie palazzi, the Repertory Theatre and the former civic centre called Baskerville House.

Cardiff, Newcastle and Swindon already have new super-libraries, while Liverpool and Manchester’s central libraries are undergoing multimillion-pound renovations. Councillor Whitby thinks Birmingham’s will be better than any of them. Thanks to Dutch architects Mecanoo, the library will be a highly transparent glass building wrapped in delicate metal filigree, housing within its 33,500 sq m a few million books (fingers crossed). It is a key component in the city’s bid to be the UK’s capital of culture in 2013 and should help fulfil Whitby’s aim of putting Birmingham in the top 25 world cities by 2020, as ranked by the Mercer Quality of Living survey (it currently comes joint 56th, with Glasgow).

Whitby’s office looks out on to the existing Birmingham Central Library, an inverted modernist ziggurat built in 1973-4. This is the building Prince Charles famously described as a place where books were incinerated rather than borrowed. Unlike him, I once spent long, happy hours reading here, amazed that so many books (2.5m of them, stretching over seven floors) were at the disposal of a non-princely nobody like me. Now culture minister Margaret Hodge has given the go-ahead to flatten this Grade II-listed building; demolition will be completed over the next five years. Why must it go? “It leaks, and great big chunks of concrete keep falling from it,” says Birmingham head of libraries, Brian Gambles. He keeps a souvenir chunk in his office to prove the point. “It’s ugly and unfit for purpose and would cost too much to properly renovate.””

I can see where statements like this come from:

“Last week I spoke to Hodge in her office near Trafalgar Square. She told me that running a successful public library in the 21st century is tough. Technological advances and higher expectations of service mean that libraries must, in her glum progressivist phrase, “move with the times to stay part of the times”. “I do care passionately about libraries,” she says, “but they have to change. The footfall is down and book issues are massively down. Only 14 of 151 local authorities have libraries that offer ebooks.”

Hodge has spent the past six months in a consultation process that asks some unsettling questions. What, really, is the point of a public library in the 21st century? How should libraries respond to today’s 24/7 culture and the greater availability of cheap books? Why can’t that beardy librarian double as a barista? Next week, she will publish the answers to these questions in her department’s Library Review, though you’d be forgiven for thinking that its delayed appearance (it was due to be published last October) has been timed to get lost in the runup to the election. Certainly, when we meet, Hodge’s mind appears more focused on trouncing BNP leader Nick Griffin in her Barking constituency.

She declines to confirm what will be in the review, but among the changes we can expect is an opening up of libraries to volunteers – a move that will upset librarians, unions and campaigners. “There’s nothing that depresses me more,” Hodge says, “than going into a library and being confronted by a computer and someone in authority who isn’t going to deliver the citizen-focused services I think should be on offer. I won’t have this. Libraries can’t go on being merely traditional. That’s why we should consider volunteers. In Manchester, I celebrated a scheme recently to get young people working as volunteers in libraries in ways that are of great benefit to them and the customers. That could be a blueprint.””

I do however worry that such a review and its conclusion may be a step too far. I am all for libraries being the centre piece of urban renewal, as being a vital cog in the mechanism of community, and that expanding services, or putting complementary services alongside them makes good sense, but there shouldn’t come at the expense of a professional front line service.

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