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August 28, 2006

Library 2.0 in Library Journal, 9/1/06

Library Journal, 9/1/06
Originally uploaded by Michael Casey.

Link to article.  Laura Savastinuk and I wrote this several months ago and it appears in the September 1, 2006, issue of Library Journal.

August 27, 2006

The Ultimate Guide to What?

I wasn't going to blog about this, I swear. I've sent numerous emails to Amazon and I've heard nothing. You see, several weeks ago I read in the New York Times about the new toys from Blue Man Group. Engadget has a writeup here. But after reading the Times article I went to Amazon to search for the toys for my kids. I found nothing. Well, not nothing actually, something, but not toys. I searched this phrase, "blue man group toys." Innocuous, right? Nope. The first return was for a book about, well, click on the search phrase and see for yourself. I don't have anything against the book, it's just not what I was expecting. Nor, I guess, is it what others looking for the toys are expecting to get. What has frustrated me is the inability to offer feedback to Amazon about their search results.

August 26, 2006

"a Wiki citation is toilet paper"

According to the September 6 issue of Business Week (Citings: Kicking Wiki Out Of The Patent Office) the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office will no longer be using Wikipedia to check a patent's validity.

"I've been complaining about this for years," says Greg Aharonian, publisher of a patent newsletter and a longtime agency gadfly. "From a legal point of view, a Wiki citation is toilet paper."

According the BW, Wikipedia was cited in many patent decisions. Now, I don't know a lot about patent law, but I would think that Wikipedia's history would be a very good place to look for references to ideas or creations. Even if the wiki entry itself was changed, the history will still be able to show the course of changes. So, if I write about an idea and someone comes along and edits my entry, the history will still show my earlier version. Hmm...

(The current issue is not yet free online. The subscriber's link is here.) 

August 25, 2006

King on the Techie Divide

David King has an excellent post on the Library of Congress news that I linked to on Wednesday.

...at some point - library managers might need to treat technology skills like any other skill - it’s part of your job, you need to do it or find another job. That seems harsh, but really… would you hire someone to do telephone reference if they had no phone skills, and refused to learn phone skills? Would you hire a cataloger if they couldn’t catalog and didn’t want to learn anything about AACR2? Probably not.

Worth reading

August 24, 2006

Serving Others

This week we sent out a large number of emails to library customers in order to tell them about some new services we're offering. In response we received a fair number of replies, but this one stood out. I've edited it just a bit to protect the writer's privacy.

You can take her off your list as she recently died. It's ok. She was 89 and quite tired of the cancer. The library was a real benefit as she needed large print books and loved a good mystery! If you check her "check out" history you will see she used your library for years. Thank you for a great system. Can hardly wait for our new library to open.

Reminds us of why we do what we do.

August 23, 2006

Library of Congress Workforce Cuts

200 employees had taken advantage of a voluntary retirement incentive for librarians who had become “very comfortable” with traditional librarianship and chose not to gain new technological skills.

Read the full story on ALA's American Libraries.

August 22, 2006

On a personal note...

Duncan, 29 July 1994 to 22 August 2005
Originally uploaded by Michael Casey.

I almost always refrain from blogging on personal issues but today is the anniversary of an event that has marked my life to a far greater degree than I ever imagined possible. Sometimes the personal greatly affects the professional, and this is one of those instances.

August 19, 2006

Amazon Video Download Service

Via TechCrunch comes more information on Amazon's new video download service, Amazon Unbox.

August 18, 2006

Google's Writely Is Back!

Writely is again accepting sign-ups. If you've not yet used Writely, go take a look! It really is one of the best online word processors.

A Look Inside The Entertainment Life Of 12-24 Year Olds

Stephen Abram references an excellent study done by the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg on the electronic life of teens and young adults. You can read the full 25 page PDF file here.

Some of the things I found interesting:

"No more than 10% of each age group (12-17 and 18-24) thought there were too many entertainment choices."

"Females were much more likely to do multiple things [multitasking] than males."

"Nearly three out of five girls between the ages of 15 and 17 reported doing at least one other thing while doing homework, along with 54% of boys that age."

"Only 46% of younger teens and 36% of teens 15 to 17 focus on their homework...Music was by far the most popular homework accompaniment."

"Only 26% [of computer using teens] said they work and surf unsupervised."

IM use is almost equal to email use in the 12-17 age group.

"Social networking websites such as MySpace.com are very popular...just under half of girls and 43% of boys reported visiting such sites, joined by 56% of young women and 41% of men. The older adults were less likely to spend time on social sites -- 66% of men over 21 said they do not visit such sites, along with 52% of women."

"Fifteen percent of girls 12-14 who visit such [social networking] sites said they spend more than four hours a day doing so."

Thanks to Stephen for bringing this to my attention.


Surprising Search Patterns

Conventional wisdom says that search engines are a fundamentally unfair technology -- favoring the most popular sites and helping them to become even more popular. This assumption, captured in the term "Googlearchy," is now being challenged by researchers at Indiana University who have used real-life data to test it. Their results show that Web-surfing behavior isn't as influenced by search-engine rankings as was previously thought.


"I think the message here is that as soon as you become a slightly more sophisticated searcher, then you're breaking the spell of the Web." (Albert-László Barabási, professor of physics at the University of Notre Dame.)

Read the full article at Technology Review

August 16, 2006

Ambient Findability: A Library of Congress Webcast

Peter Morville discusses his recent book, "Ambient Findability," in a webcast sponsored by the Science, Technology and Business Division of the Library of Congress.


Requires RealPlayer. Yuck.

August 15, 2006

A Stroll Down Computer Memory Lane -- Realizing It's All About the Net

The folks over at Engadget celebrated the 25th anniversary of the IBM PC by remembering their first computers, which got me thinking about my early computers.

My first computer was a Commodore VIC-20, precursor to the Commodore 64. I got my VIC-20 with 5kb of RAM in 1981 for $299 plus tape drive. The VIC-20 (the VIC stood for video interface chip) beat the Apple II to the one million sales mark, although today it’s largely forgotten. I'm told that the VIC-20 was also Linus Torvalds' first computer. My VIC-20 was great for playing and modifying early games. The graphics were crude by today's standards but it was easy to use and was a great platform on which to learn Basic programming.

My second computer (really my mom’s, though she didn’t use it too much) was an Epson QX-10 CP/M machine which ran Valdocs and Peachcalc software. The QX-10 had a Z-80 processor and two (wow!) 5.25” floppy drives.

My first “real” PC was a Compaq Portable with an 8088 chip and, again, two 5.25” floppies. I bought it in 1986 and it ran MS-DOS with WordPerfect, which got me through four years of college (along with MS Flight Simulator version 2). This was the first computer I networked with, using an early text-based Compuserve service to play with travel reservations and online shopping. I had the Compaq for five years, longer than any PC before or since.

Following the Compaq portable were a series of less exciting computers, including a Gateway 386SX, a Zeos 486, an off-brand Pentium, another Gateway (Pentium II), and a series of Dells leading up to my current Dell 8400. Along the way I also had a few laptops, culminating in my current MacBook, which I love.

It's hard to believe it's only been 25 years since the introduction of the IBM PC.  It's also hard to believe that until 1994, when I first started using Mosaic to browse the new web, all I ever used my computers for was word processing, some spreadsheet work, lots of gaming and email (via Prodigy until 1992 when I started using Internet-based email through my Penn State account). In retrospect, the computer was nothing without the net.

August 11, 2006

The Continuing Need for Libraries and Literacy Efforts

Originally uploaded by Michael Casey.

Read the report: A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21st Century

Results showed that the average quantitative literacy scores of adults increased 8 points between 1992 and 2003, though average prose and document literacy did not differ significantly from 1992. Among Blacks, average prose literacy scores increased by 6 points and average document literacy scores rose by 8 points between 1992 and 2003 (figure 1). The average prose scores of Asians/Pacific Islanders increased as well, rising 16 points between 1992 and 2003.The average prose literacy scores of Hispanics fell 18 points from 1992 to 2003, while average document literacy scores decreased by 14 points. Average prose and document literacy scores among Whites did not change significantly.

Sony Reader

MobileRead has a good Q&A with Sony regarding the new Sony Reader.


August 10, 2006


Originally uploaded by crr29061.

Find your library and add it to Wikimapia! 

August 09, 2006

On Notice!

On Notice!
Originally uploaded by mstephens7.

August 08, 2006

Unintended Consequences

And search by search, click by click, the identity of AOL user No. 4417749 became easier to discern. There are queries for “landscapers in Lilburn, Ga,” several people with the last name Arnold and “homes sold in shadow lake subdivision gwinnett county georgia.”

It did not take much investigating to follow that data trail to Thelma Arnold, a 62-year-old widow who lives in Lilburn, Ga., frequently researches her friends’ medical ailments and loves her three dogs. “Those are my searches,” she said, after a reporter read part of the list to her.

AOL removed the search data from its site over the weekend and apologized for its release, saying it was an unauthorized move by a team that had hoped it would benefit academic researchers.

Read the New York Times article here (requires free registration) 

August 07, 2006

Helene's Netflix/Amazon Mashup

Last night's post about Amazon's library processing was a result of a conversation I had with Helene Blowers, Public Services Technology Director for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, North Carolina. While there to speak at her excellent Technology Summit, I had a conversation over lunch with her, Michael Stephens and Carol Myers, PLCMC's Assistant Director. We were discussing the Netflix model of materials delivery and Helene brought up an idea of hers that absolutely blew me away.

The Netflix model is a good one but is plagued by high costs – shipping and handling, primarily. But Helene's idea was to utilize Amazon's library processing service in order to have pre-processed books sent directly to the library customer's home, where that person would, after reading the book, bring it to the library and, by returning it, enter it into the library's circulating collection. The book will already have its requisite spine label, bar code and mylar cover, so no additional processing will be required. Even the MARC record will already have been sent from Amazon, so the material will already by in your catalog. Customers would defray the cost of the program by paying a small monthly or annual fee for the delivery of a new title every few weeks, and because Amazon's processing service includes DVDs, customers could have access to those, too.

I really hope PLCMC can try this and let us know how it goes. I can't wait to hear Helene speak about this at a future conference, and I thank her for letting me blog about this exciting idea.

August 06, 2006

Library Processing from Amazon

Library Processing helps you reduce the time it takes to get materials from the Amazon box to the library shelves. These services include MARC records, spine labels, barcodes, and mylar jackets.

More here. Imagine the possibilities.

Libraries and the Long Tail

I keep reading that librarians and libraries think they're actually serving the Long Tail. How can this be so? Yet I continue to read articles that make that claim, with librarians patting themselves on the back saying, “Oh, we've always served the long tail”. Sorry, but for the vast majority of libraries this has simply never been the case. The long tail is more than simply a couple thousand niche titles tucked away in the stacks. The long tail is perhaps 80% of books printed every year. What percentage of books does your library buy? According to Bowker, 2005 saw 172,000 new titles and editions published in the United States. 206,000 new titles were published in the UK. Still think you have a grip on that long tail? I didn't think so.

We have a long way to go in order to serve that tail. We may get there, in time, but we're nowhere near there now. 

August 05, 2006

AOL Finally Launches AIM Pro for Business

This AOL news seemed to get smothered by the layoffs but it may be worth looking into if you're running an Exchange network or in need of enterprise IM. According to Gadgetell:

The service, which is free for anyone to use, integrates with Microsoft Outlook’s calendar and directory and access to WebEx voice and video conferencing and collaboration services. Currently there is one-to-one video conferencing but this is slated to expand to four-way conferencing in the near future. AIM Pro gives people the option of using their professional e-mail addresses as their AIM screen names. It also provides business-grade security and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption and automatic antivirus file scanning.

AOL AIM Pro for Business Read more about the service here and download it here

August 04, 2006

Great Signs at PLCMC!!!


PLCMC's ImaginOn

Give Them What They Want

PLCMC's ImaginOn

Studio i at ImaginOn. Look what they can do!

Teens can express themselves through video in Studio-i! Visitors will produce both animated and live action videos, and combinations of the two. Techniques include:

  • blue screen technology
  • stop-motion animation
  • paper cut-out animation
  • claymation
  • shadow puppet animation
  • 2D (cel) animation
Live action digital videos, such as newscasts, reviews of movies/books, Family Video Logs, talk shows and game shows can all be created in Studio i.
Wow! More info here at ImaginOn.


PLCMC's Technology Summit and Learning 2.0

This week Michael Stephens and I had the wonderful opportunity of speaking to a great group of librarians in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the 2006 PLCMC Technology Summit, hosted in PLCMC's stunning new facility, ImaginOn. It's quite intimidating being asked to speak about Library 2.0 and then finding yourself in such a 2.0+ facility as ImaginOn. I was in awe as I walked around the building finding young kids everywhere.  Some were patiently creating video presentations, others taking part in X-Box gaming competitions, other teens quietly playing board games, reading books and magazines, interacting, talking...JUST HAVING FUN. Charlotte is a very lucky city to have such a forward thinking library administration.

PLCMC's ImaginOn


After Michael and I spoke, PLCMC's Public Services Technology Director Helene Blowers jumped on stage to announce the kickoff of their new Learning 2.0 initiative -- a program designed to:

Encourage staff to experiment and learn about the new and emerging technologies that are reshaping the context of information on the Internet today. The objectives of this program are to:

  • encourage exploration of Web 2.0 and new technologies by PLCMC staff.
  • provide staff with new tools (that are freely available on the Internet) to better support PLCMC's mission: Expanding minds, Empowering individuals and Enriching our community.
  • reward staff for taking the initiative to complete 23 self-discovery exercises.
What an amazing educational opportunity for the library's staff! I'll post more about this great project, but take a look at the FAQ for more info.


I'd like to thank Charles Brown, PLCMC's Director of Libraries; Carol Myers, PLCMC's Assistant Director; and of course Helene Blowers for putting on such a fabulous summit and for allowing me to play a small role.

August 01, 2006

Library 2.0 Theory: Web 2.0 and Its Implications for Libraries

Jack Maness has an interesting piece over on Webology that explores the definition of Library 2.0. He presents a very well-argued thesis that Library 2.0 is primarily a technology-centered theory. While I agree that technology does play a key role in the ability of today's library to move forward and serve more users, I am not convinced that technology can ever be the primary component in this thing we call Library 2.0.

My concern rests with this paragraph where Maness says:

A theory for Library 2.0 could be understood to have these four essential elements:

  • It is user-centered. Users participate in the creation of the content and services they view within the library's web-presence, OPAC, etc. The consumption and creation of content is dynamic, and thus the roles of librarian and user are not always clear.
  • It provides a multi-media experience . Both the collections and services of Library 2.0 contain video and audio components. While this is not often cited as a function of Library 2.0, it is here suggested that it should be.
  • It is socially rich . The library's web-presence includes users' presences. There are both synchronous (e.g. IM) and asynchronous (e.g. wikis) ways for users to communicate with one another and with librarians.
  • It is communally innovative. This is perhaps the single most important aspect of Library 2.0. It rests on the foundation of libraries as a community service, but understands that as communities change, libraries must not only change with them, they must allow users to change the library. It seeks to continually change its services, to find new ways to allow communities, not just individuals to seek, find, and utilize information.
It is his fourth point (It is communally innovative...) which I have always argued is the crux of Library 2.0. A philosophy of change in library services is far more than a technology-driven concept. The heart of such change rests on a system of evaluating services and incorporating what our users want, including but not limited to certain new technologies. The first three points are important parts of any library's service offerings but they are little more than evolutionary steps in regard to library technology advances.
Pushing such new technologies to users, either through in-house creation or from vendors, does little to create purposeful change in the library itself. Indeed, without continuous and purposeful change, how is the library to keep up with what its users want with regard to new technology?
Technology is very important, but it is only a tool that will help us build Library 2.0 .