Tuesday, July 31, 2007

NYPL Serves Espresso

BoingBoing has an astonishing story today - the New York Public Library has just installed the first Espresso book machine and will offer free printed copies of any of over 200,000 public domain book in the Open Content Alliance. Wow!

There are also a few in-copyright books available - Jason Epstein's Book Business (which predicted this gadgetry) and Chris Anderson's The Long Tail (which is wagging this puppy). If you want to check it out, go to the Science, Industry and Business library on Madison Avenue, not the one with the lions. According to the press release, this project is partially funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and is a collaboration between the On Demand Books, the Alliance, and NYPL. Even better, they're doing this elsewhere. In the fall, it will be available at the New Orleans Public Library. Amazing.

But I can't help wondering . . . what if someone came in and asked for one of each?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

It's Official: We're Cool

The New York Times says it's so - in the Fashion & Style section, no less. I always get whiplash from these kinds of articles from the abrupt switches from patronizing stereotypes to "hey, they're kind of cool, isn't that bizarre?" For example:

Librarians? Aren’t they supposed to be bespectacled women with a love of classic books and a perpetual annoyance with talkative patrons — the ultimate humorless shushers?

Not any more. With so much of the job involving technology and with a focus now on finding and sharing information beyond just what is available in books, a new type of librarian is emerging — the kind that, according to the Web site Librarian Avengers, is “looking to put the ‘hep cat’ in cataloguing.”

When the cult film “Party Girl” appeared in 1995, with Parker Posey as a night life impresario who finds happiness in the stacks, the idea that a librarian could be cool was a joke.

Now, there is a public librarian who writes dispatches for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, a favored magazine of the young literati. “Unshelved,” a comic about librarians — yes, there is a comic about librarians — features a hipster librarian character. And, in real life, there are an increasing number of librarians who are notable not just for their pink-streaked hair but also for their passion for pop culture, activism and technology.

Then again, it is the Fashion & Style section.