Notes of a Binge Thinker

Thoughts from NTLP's Executive Director

The Library as an Information Gateway in the Next Decade

Ok.  I know I am late with this.  Sometimes time just gets away from you….so without further ado, here is my April column. :>

Happy April!   

If you remember, I am going to focus on five guideposts that NTLP feels libraries need to follow in the next decade when planning their service offerings.  Here are the five guideposts again as a refresher.

The Library of the Future increases the overall value of its community by:

Guidepost 1: facilitating access to education as a service to the public.

Guidepost 2: staying aware of current interests within the community, finding information relevant to those interests, and making that information publicly available.

Guidepost 3: ensuring easy public access to information in all its forms.

Guidepost 4: encouraging civic participation through public information campaigns that explain matters of public policy, informing public decisions, and maintaining awareness of public services (including its own services).

Guidepost 5: maintaining its standing of public trust by operating as an independent “third voice” in its operations as well as its communications, and meeting on neutral ground.

Each month I will focus on one guidepost.  I will highlight a library (or libraries) that I feel is following that guidepost closely and doing something innovative to make the guidepost a reality.  I will then give some benchmarks (examples of what libraries can do to follow the guidepost) that the NTLP staff has developed.

This month I am focusing on guidepost number three.  In my time, I have seen the types of information mediums available multiply greatly.  When I was a child, if I wanted information about a topic, I had to ride my bike down to the local branch of the Arlington Public Library and look it up. When I reached high school and college, I found that some information was available in a digital format through specialized databases.  By the timeI reached Library School, the Internet age had begun and you could find information in a wide variety of digital formats from websites to wikis.  Now as I sit here typing this article into a Word document, my smart phone has just beeped informing me that Japan has had another earthquake.  The information mediums just keep getting better and better.  How can a library ensure that all community sectors have access to these same information mediums that I do?  This is the essence of our guidepost this month.   I have selected the Arlington Public Library as a great example of what a library can do in this age to ensure easy public access to information. 

Arlington Public Library

I grew up in Arlington and this is the place that I learned to love libraries.  I really did ride my bicycle to my local branch on the local southeast side of the growing city (at that time there was only about 50K in Arlington.)  I remember loving to find answers to my many questions and then figure out how to get all the books I checked out home without killing myself on my bike (I was not the most coordinated kid). 

Arlington Public Library has evolved greatly under the fine leadership of Cary Siegfried, the library director.  My childhood branch has been turned into a computer center with very few books.  I went back and was amazed by how many people were in the building waiting to use the library’s computers.  It really does provide a wonderful service to that community. 

Through its strategic plan (http://www.arlingtonlibrary.org/about) the Arlington library leadership has identified four main goals:  Live, Learn, Connect and Grow.  In terms of our guidepost for this month, I want to focus on the Learn and Connect goals. 

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Read the rest of the column here.  I really encourage you to check it out. Arlington really does a ton of stuff for its community. 

Written by amwlkaw

May 10, 2011 at 9:11 am

Posted in Misc

New York Public Library, Patrons and Porn

Here is a blog entry from Gizmodo, a Gadget blog.  The blog post is PG-13 so be prepared for some racy language as you read it.  Here is one quote from the blog post.

But, the NY Post reports, NYPL rep Angela Montefinise thinks everyone’s favorite part of the Bill of Rights includes PornHub: “In deference to the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech, the New York Public Library cannot prevent adult patrons from accessing adult content that is legal.”

The blog post actually does a pretty good job summing up an issue we have all faced since computers with internet access were made available to the public.  Where does the right to free speech end?  I am always amazed how this issue will brought up again.  It seems like every six months some media outlet will carry an article or blog entry about the topic. 

By the way, read the comments after the entry.  This is a great way to get a taste of what people are thinking about any issue.    It is like a free focus group without the work.

BTC, where do you stand on the issue?  What should our policy be when it comes to Internet Porn?  What is the right image to present to the public so the library is not seen as just a place where people go to watch porn?

Written by amwlkaw

April 26, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Misc

Good news (or is it?) – Amazon develops a library lending program for kindle

Here is a press release from Amazon about libraries being able to lend out kindle books.  Nice to know that progress is being made on this front.  Or is it?

Here is a blog post from Stephen Abrams about the announcement.  Here is the concluding paragraph.

The ability to lend books on reading devices has been available for many years. It will be almost three years by the time this Kindle feature arrives in libraries for Amazon to catch up. At a minimum an argument could be made that Amazon is using their device’s market share to promote an e-book standard that is really only used by Amazon and to gain retail market share against others (epub and PDF are international standards that the Kindle does not support). Are they placating libraries to gain access to our users?

What do you think, BTC?  Is this a good or a bad development for libraries?  I personally think it is a good step forward!

Written by amwlkaw

April 20, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Posted in Misc

Ebooks are best sellers and now authors can sign their ebooks

Ebooks are taking over the publishing world!  Here is an quote from the ebooknewser.

eBooks hit a major milestone in February. According to Association of American Publishers(AAP) sales figures, eBooks ranked as the top format “among all categories of trade publishing” that month.

eBook sales totaled $90.3 million for the month, expanding 202 percent compared to the same period  last year. Below, we’ve embedded the full release.

On another ebook note, authors can now sign their ebooks through a special app

Well, BTC, what does all this mean for libraries?

Written by amwlkaw

April 18, 2011 at 9:57 am

Posted in Misc

Subscribe to Ebooks? – A model for libraries

Hi.  I often read the ReadWriteWeb blog because of its top of the line posts and it keeps me up with every aspect of my interests:  web, gadgets, writing and libraries.  In a recent post, we were introduced to the idea of subscribing to ebooks.  In this model, a reader will pay a monthly fee to access as many items as they would like.  As I read it, I thought to myself that this sounds like a private library to me and by the time I finished the article, I was surprised to find the author had agreed with me. 

E-book subscriptions may sound like a new and exciting model for readers, authors, and the publishing industry. But there’s already an “all-you-can-eat” model for books: libraries. That library card gets you access to all the books you want, for free.

So, what do you think BTC, are ebook subscriptions something libraries could take advantage of?  What would you suggest?  I am going to write the company, 24symbols and see what they think about libraries.  I’ll let you know what I find out…

Written by amwlkaw

April 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Misc

The Library as Curator of Current Events



Happy March! I hope everyone is enjoying the warmer weather.

If you remember, I am going to focus on five guideposts that NTLP feels libraries need to follow in the next decade when planning their service offerings. Here are the five guideposts again as a refresher

The Library of the Future increases the overall value of its community by:

Guidepost 1: facilitating access to education as a service to the public.

Guidepost 2: staying aware of current interests within the community, finding information relevant to those interests, and making that information publicly available.

Guidepost 3: ensuring easy public access to information in all its forms.

Guidepost 4: encouraging civic participation through public information campaigns that explain matters of public policy, informing public decisions, and maintaining awareness of public
services (including its own services).

Guidepost 5: maintaining its standing of public trust by operating as an independent “third voice” in its operations as well as its communications, and meeting on neutral ground.

Each month I will focus on one guidepost. I will highlight a library (or libraries) that I feel is following that guidepost closely and doing something innovative to make the guidepost a reality.I will then give some benchmarks (examples of what libraries can do to follow the guidepost) that the NTLP staff has developed.

This month I am focusing on guidepost number two. I have selected two libraries that practice this guidepost in a very structured determined fashion: Alvarado Public Library and Azle Public Library.

Read the rest here.

Written by amwlkaw

March 22, 2011 at 10:59 am

Posted in Misc

What are you doing with your old computers?

Jolicloud is a company that has designed a lightweight version of Linux that they claim you can load on computers up to ten years old to make them Internet stations.  They claim that the computers will be like new again.  I have heard promises like this in the past so being the nerd that I am, I decided to load it on my wife’s old broken down netbook to see if their claims were true.

I first had to download the iso file to the computer and then I had to create a bootable USB drive.   By bootable drive, I mean that the computer would boot up from the USB drive versus the hard drive.  I had to do it this way because I was completely replacing the windows XP OS on my wife’s computer.  You have the option to have Jolicloud reside alongside Windows if you want to check it out before taking the plunge.   I then turned my wife’s computer off and then on again, changed the boot sequence through the bios(you can hit F2 or esc to access the bios) to boot from the USB drive and then followed the online instructions.  Overall, it took me two hours to complete and I have to say that after playing with the computer for the last two days that it actually works better now than it ever did with Windows.

Now, you do have to remember that it is not Windows, it is Linux so the interface is different, but I am able to check my facebook account, gmail account, linkedin account and surf the net on the computer.  It has over 275 apps that you can use with the OS.  My son was thrilled to find over thirty free games that he can play with the software.  It also has access to Google docs and openoffice apps.  In my mind, it seems like a mixture of an smartphone and computer.  Another cool feature of it is that you can access your files in the cloud right next to your files on the harddrive.  It is done through the same interface so no more having to open a browser window to access your box.net files.

The designers of the OS intended it this way.  They wanted a way for people to recycle their old computers into Internet device where you can mix the cloud with the local device.  It is very slick and well done.  Their manifesto explains their reasoning for doing this.

At Jolicloud we believe a movement has started. A movement that will change the computer industry forever: a world where computers are inexpensive, where operating systems are free and software is online. This is the world we dreamed of when we first discovered computers and the Internet. And this is why we wanted to build an operating system (OS) around a platform that gives everyone the opportunity to be part of this movement and access a whole new range of possibilities.

Jolicloud is an Internet operating system[1]. It combines the two driving forces of the modern computing industry: the open source and the open web.

Jolicloud transforms your netbook into a sophisticated web device that taps into the cloud to expand your computing possibilities. The web already hosts a significant part of our lives: mails, photos, videos, and friends are already somewhere online. Jolicloud was built to make the computer and web part of the same experience.

The online world is taking processing power away from our computers, so we won’t need expensive machines in the future. The web improves itself, so we don’t need to replace machines all the time to be able to run newer versions of operating systems or office suites.

But the real catalyst of change has been the arrival of the netbooks: they started as an experimental low cost laptop for kids and they now radically change our views on how much we are willing to pay for personal computers. Think about it: computers are now becoming cheaper than mobile phones and MP3 players.

We feel privileged to witness this rebirth of the computer culture and are very excited about the world changes it can foster: More affordable means more people around the world connecting with knowledge, more communication between people and more balanced access to computing power with less cost, format or geographical limitations.

We come from the web, so we built our user interface mostly using its core technologies (HTML, JavaScript, CSS). We have integrated our web DNA into the OS to make it modular, social and personal. Our developer platform relies on the web and will let anyone or any service join in no time. With our API, developers will have the ability to let their website communicate with the computer directly with no need to code specific native applications.

Of course it’s just the beginning. Netbooks are very new. They are still bulky, but they are making progress with better keyboards, better screens and battery time.

No one has yet entirely switched his or her life online, but everyday larger parts of our personal and business lives are relayed and stored via the web. Online connectivity is still expensive but prices are dropping as operators can’t resist the global needs of the always on generation.

Legendary computer inventor Alan Kay once said, the best way to predict the future is to invent it. This is why we created Jolicloud. Like every project we can’t do it by ourselves. We need your help and support to make this project a success. Together let’s change the status quo and build the coolest OS for netbooks.

 

I do want to point out that the Manifesto says netbook, but they have made recent claims on their blog that version 1.1 will work on any virtually device 10 years or younger.  They tell user after user on their facebook page to just try it.  I plan to do this with an old laptop and desktop that my in-laws no longer use.  I will let everyone know if it works as well.

I am sure, BTC, you can think of the advantages of this type of OS provides to your library.  Now, you don’t have to throw away those old computers.  Just recycle them using Jolicloud.  You can even use them for the Public, because it has user accounts and ways to lock down the OS so patrons will be forced to behave themselves.  Of course, if someone does end up doing mischief on one of the computers, it is so easy to install Jolicloud that you can just reinstall the software.

So, BTC, go out, get your old computers, try it out and let the rest of us know how it goes….

Written by amwlkaw

February 25, 2011 at 10:47 am

Posted in Misc