LSJ Editors' Blog: May 2006

30 May 2006

Libraries in Belgium Feel the Love

Ah... Love is in the air, and Belgian library patrons are falling hard. Combining a love for literacy and, well, just plain love, Eric Van der Straeten and Danny Theuwis have created a popular new program called lib-dating that's catching on in libraries around Belgium. It's kind of like literary speed-dating, with a little red wine thrown into the mix for good measure. According to the AP article, this is how it works:

"Upon arriving, participants pick a small piece of paper from a glass with a question on it, such as: What was your favorite book as a child and why? They are instructed to go around the room with the question and mingle.

For the second round, readers take the three favorite books or passages they were asked to bring, and share their thoughts one-on-one with others for a few minutes before switching to a new partner and new books.

At the end of the session, participants are instructed to put their books down and write a note to be placed in the book of the person they would like to meet again."

Ooohhh... it sounds just like high school, doesn't it?

Because many of the initial participants were disappointed that there weren't more lib-dating opportunities, Theuwis and Van der Straeten have held several training sessions at Antwerp's Permeke library to train librarians from more than 300 libraries across the country on how to host a lib-dating session.

Sex in the library. Who'da thunk it?

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23 May 2006

Rory Litwin on Library 2.0 privacy issues

Rory Litwin over at Library Juice has written this very interesting piece about the privacy issues inherent in Library 2.0. His summary of the issue:

The basic idea of Library 2.0, to transform library services by making them more personalized, more interactive, and more web-based along Web 2.0 lines, has a logic to it that is ineluctable and exciting. I am strongly in favor of the Library 2.0 idea, but want to raise what I think is an important note of caution and consideration as we more forward with experiments with library services that are modeled on Web 2.0 principles. The difficulty that I think we have to grapple with in considering the Library 2.0 idea is that libraries and Web 2.0 services are based on serving two very different essential activities, and those activities have an opposite relationship to privacy.
I agree with Rory that there are important issues here that deserve more attention, and I echo his concluding remarks: "I would like to see more discussion of privacy in relation to Library 2.0 innovations. I also hope we will be very conscious of the ways in which these ideas sometimes offer to introduce new, social purposes to libraries, beyond just offering new ways of fulfilling already-existing purposes." My own sense is that too much time is spent comparing Library 1.0 and Library 2.0 and asking Which is better? and not enough time exploring ways to incorporate Library 2.0 ideas in a responsible way.

A quick intro to Library 2.0 for those new to the concept...

"Library 2.0" is simply the application of "Web 2.0" concepts in a library setting. Web 2.0 is a conception of the Web as a social network system that relies on user-created content, as seen in websites like Myspace and Flickr. This blog is Web 2.0. I've linked some of the keywords above to Wikipedia, a very useful Web 2.0 tool. One can argue that Web 2.0 is more organized, but via folksonomies rather than traditional taxonomies.Web 2.0 is a DIY Web in which those of us who are not inclined towards tech savviness can create sophisticated applications even though we don't understand the technology behind it. Web 2.0 is about making the technology more invisible and the social interaction more real. It is not that Web 1.0 will evolve into Web 2.0 at a future time; Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 currently coexist.
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17 May 2006

Actor/Scholar Opens Free Library in Nigeria

Who knew there was such a thing as an African tabloid? My ignorance was eradicated when I discovered this article about an amazing man, found at The Sun News On-line.

It's as simple as this: Raphael James saw a need, and he filled it.

James, the executive director of the Centre for Research Information Management and Media Development (CRIMMD) is a researcher, psychologist, actor and an author from Abia State, Nigeria. The goal of his organization is to conduct research into areas that don't get a lot of attention, but which James believes are essential to the development of the country.

Believing what we all know -- that literacy is imperative to economic and sociological success, particularly in less-developed countries -- James started the library, located in Ejigbo in the Nigerian state of Lagos, to encourage Nigerians to "develop good reading culture."Raphael James

The CRIMMD, which is affiliated with the Bill Clinton Library in the U.S., discovered that people only read when they have a job interview or an examination to write. But encouraging a more active reading culture would help people to overcome many of the challenges that they face in life.

"We decided to set up a public library to encourage the youths to develop the habit of reading for pleasure," says James. As a result of this, plans are underway to set up more libraries in other parts of Lagos.

"We discovered that we don’t have a reading culture in Nigeria, and when you tell people to come and pay money to read nobody would come. That is why we made it free so that people would come and read," he added.

First-time users of the library fill out a registration form, after which they are able to use the library and its materials. However, the books--for the most part--are non-circulating. "We don’t allow people to borrow books to read because when people borrow books, the chances are that the books would not be returned," explains James. "For each book that leaves the library and is not returned, it will create vacant spaces hence, we prevent our books from leaving the library."

Instead, patrons are encouraged to come in and read the books during the reading hours. "People can also bring in their books to read, but they have to inform the librarian about the books they have brought, so that when they are leaving the library, they would not be harassed."

James has made public appeals for book donations. But so far, donations have been few, so the CRIMMD has had to spend precious resources to purchase books for the library. "We don’t ask people to give us money; rather, we appeal to people to donate books to the library," says James.

The library is located at 11 Adewoyin Street, off Adewale Adenuga Street, Ejigbo, Lagos State. Future projects for the CRIMMD include a reading competition, which James hopes will encourage more youths to improve their literacy skills. The CRIMMD also has a young writers initiative underway, which helps get their works published and distributed. About six young authors are currently in the program, including James' own son, six-year-old Oluebubechukwu Sharon James, whose first book, Freedom, was published earlier this year.

James hopes that the CRIMMD's free library will encourage the creation of more free libraries in his country. "I believe that if the youths are encouraged to read, they would gain more knowledge, so my advice to them is to read books--not only books recommended by schools or the West African Examination Council’s syllabus. It would increase their knowledge in treating every day’s challenges as they grow up."

Hear, hear.
_________________________________________________

Source: "Free library opens in Lagos," Damiete Braide, The Sun News On-line, November 2, 2005.
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15 May 2006

Book digitization in the Times

From yesterday's New York Times, an article about the digitization of the world's books --Scan This Book! by Kevin Kelly. Lengthy, but well worth the read.

Kelly is clearly in favor of mass digitization, as am I, but there are detractors. ALA president Michael Gorman famously dislikes Google and elaborates on his distaste for their digitization plans in this LA Times op ed piece from 2004. Peter Binkley, in turn, responds with this.
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Ethics slashed from the BECPL budget

This patron's story in the Buffalo News yesterday has me worked up. Even though the patron was in Europe with her library card at the time of checkout, she is being held responsible for a DVD checked out to her account but never returned. The BECPL's argument seems to be that it is impossible to check something out to someone without their library card, so obviously she gave her card to someone else while she was in Europe. Anyone who has worked circulation will know that this is a flat out lie- items can and do get checked out to patrons without their card, and mixups can and do happen for a number of reasons.

I myself have had run-ins with the BECPL circulation desk and have found it frustrating that they so easily will lie to me about what the system can and cant do (in my case it was, to paraphrase: "yes it was our fault that your book is overdue, but it is impossible to backdate a checkin or clear a fine"). I'm all for contributing money to my local underfunded public library, but I find these sorts of things offensive and embarrassing. I think public libraries have a duty to provide the best possible service with whatever money they have, without treating patrons like rubbish.

I wonder, then, if what is needed is a website where library patrons can send stories like the one in the Buffalo News above. Neutral librarians with their expertise could offer advice, let the patron know when they are being cheated. Libraries could be ranked by number of complaints. It might be a good way to police ourselves, so to speak. Hmm...maybe we'll set something up here at LSJ.

Oh, and if anyone out there works for the BECPL, I'd love to hear what sort of notes are in my patron record.
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10 May 2006

Internet lending in Finland

From The Scotsman, a story about a Finnish public library that loans its patrons broadband internet. In cooperation with the local phone company, the City of Lahti's 7 public libraries now have 100 cable modems that patrons can use to connect to the Web for free via their cable TV connection.

Anni Saari, a librarian there, kindly emailed me a more detailed explanation. It seems the local phone company, Päijät-Hämeen Puhelin, is celebrating its 100 year anniversary and it approached the library with the idea of offering free internet through the public library. That's worth repeating--the phone company came up with the idea to loan internet through the public library! And the library is not charged a single Euro for being able to provide the free service.

The loan period is 28 days, unrenewable. The phone company provides the tech support to patrons. An online form is filled out at the library and sent to the phone company, which can then activate the modem for the length of the loan, and then deactive it when the modem becomes overdue.

And, Anni tells me, the article contains one error--there are at least two other libraries in Finland that now loan modems: Helsinki City Library, and Raisio Library.
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08 May 2006

Tim Berners Lee on Net Neutrality

I've been following the recently failed attempts to have net neutrality codified into law. Tim Berners Lee recently posted his statement in support of network neutrality. The ALA also supported the recently failed amendment.

I'm firmly in the camp of network neutrality supporters. Surely some better way can be found to finance the build out of better networks than allowing the communications giants to charge fees for preferential delivery. Ed Markey, the representative who introduced the amendment, has vowed that the fight is not over.

You can join the fight by heading to Save the Internet. A quote from their homepage: "Your local library shouldn’t have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to have its Web site open quickly on your computer."
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Superpatron Ed Vielmetti

You'll have to excuse our silence of late. The LSJ editors have been swamped with the enviable but arduous task of choosing our first editorial board from dozens and dozens of excellent applications--enviable, because they are all so good; arduous, because they are all so good. The board will be announced very soon--stay tuned.

In the meantime, I would like to direct your attention to one of my favorite library-oriented blogs: Ed Vielmetti's perfectly named Superpatron blog, a blog "For library patrons who love their libraries, who take advantage of everything they have to offer, and are always on the lookout for great ideas from libraries around the world." Ed, a patron at Ann Arbor District Library in Michigan, is always on the lookout for new ways to improve library services and his perspective as a patron provides some wonderful insights. This post about his Amazon/AADL "mashup" is a good place to start.
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03 May 2006

ALA elects Loriene Roy president for '07-'08 term

Congratulations to Loriene Roy, recently announced as ALA President for the 2007-2008 term. Get to know more about Loriene from her blog.
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01 May 2006

LiSRadio steaming up the airwaves

If you haven't yet, check out LiSRadio, a "new and exciting series of interactive webcasts brought to you by the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies at the University of Missouri-Columbia." LiSRadio consists of a variety of interesting series on LIS topics. For students I especially recommend the First Tuesday Series and On The Job.

Tomorrow's (ie. tuesday's, go figure) First Tuesday–-an interview with Dr. Mary Bly, aka Eloisa James, author of such steamy historical romances as Kiss Me, Annabel ("Sleeping in the same bed? Not to mention the game of words started by the earl – in which the prize is a kiss. And the forfeit…") and the recently released The Taming of the Duke ("Lady Maitland is still under the watchful eye of her former guardian, the wildly untamed Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook...")–-is perhaps not the most relevant for all LIS students, but check out the September 6 interview with Rachel Holt about Job Opportunities for Next Gen Librarians (and read more on Nextgens from Rachel here).
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The changing nature of the catalog

I received a forward the other day to the Library of Congress commissioned report "Changing Nature of the Catalog and its Integration with Other Discovery Tools," which portrays the catalog as needing to be re-positioned so that it might regain some of its "dwindling market share." Karen Calhoun's recommendations include encouraging "LC to dismantle LCSH,"

The e-mail also linked to a rebuttal from Dr. Thomas Mann, author of The Oxford Guide to Library Research, which states, in part, that it is fallacious to suggest that the library catalog does operate, or should operate, within the forces of the free market. It can be found at http://www.guild2910.org/. Click on "New Essay! April 4, 2006" (a PDF file).

Mann's rebuttal focuses largely on the needs of research libraries and the scholars that use them. Calhoun is more concerned with the ability of the library to compete in the broader information economy. Suppositions about the impending popularity of e-books and digitization that supports full-text searching are used by Calhoun to support her position.
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