Wednesday, September 27, 2006

eBook readers

Sony has finally released their eBook reader into the US market. Electronic paper, anyone? Read about it and an alternative at MetaFilter.

Although a bit dated (2001), simply the best article about the important legal and cultural issues related to eBooks is Clifford Lynch's The Battle to Define the Future of the Book in the Digital World.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Interesting Job Opportunities

The field of librarianship is full of interesting, unusual job opportunities. Consider this one at Guantanamo Bay, for example.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Open Sources

Here's a cool idea! Make searching better than Google by having a real, live person help you! Wow that's innovation! That's really forward-thinking! That's really ... exactly what libraries do, and have done for years. By phone, by chat, in person. Whatever works.

Why is it that so many people still don't think of the library when they get frustrated doing a Web search? I guess that's what the OCLC Perceptions report was all about - though it annoyed me when I read it, thinking they were dismissing people's genuine interest in books.

I wonder if the problem isn't that libraries are local, and Google is everywhere, always? So many libraries have scaled back on hours and can't answer reference questions exept for the few hours a week they're open - unless they pay to be part of a chat reference service, which costs money and hasn't, so far as I know, been widely adopted by users enough to make a strong case to the bean counters who closed the library in the first place.

If we can't be there to provide reference on line or in person, or are only there thirty hours a week, most of them when people are at work, we'll have a hard time convincing people helping them find information is what we do.

Gee, maybe this guy's idea makes sense after all ....

Friday, September 01, 2006

E-Government and Libraries

Here's an interesting article in LJ about how essential libraries are becoming not just as sources of government information but as places where people participate in government. And man oh man, are there a lot of implications! Not only resource issues (how will we afford to replace those old computers?) but service and education issues (how will we help that little old lady learn how to sign up for their benefits? Or how do you help your patrons apply for FEMA relief if your library has a hole in the roof and no power?) The recommendations are sound, but what a lot to think about!

And how ironic that while libraries are becoming essential for two-way communication with government, there's legislation in the works that is designed to turn off social networking sites in libraries.

You can't have your space, but we won't talk to you unless you do it online. Sincerely, Big Brother.