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Digital libraries

Cell phone book clubs: A new way for libraries to promote literacy, technology, family and community
July 17, 2014 | 12:25 pm

textgirl2A friend of mine in his 40s is about to start teaching in Houston, Texas, and he recently shared a discovery. Many teenagers in Houston tote cell phones, but don’t know they can read library e-books for free on their phones. This would jibe with a 2012 poll showing similar ignorance among Americans at large. A bigger issue also comes up. Just how much do young people care about books in the first place? Americans 15-19 spend only about four minutes reading for fun on a typical weekend day. Too bad. Students who love books are more likely to excel in school....

National Digital Library Endowment plan makes New York Times of philanthropy
June 9, 2014 | 10:25 am

"Civic-minded billionaires could get the endowment rolling with a goal of $10-billion to $20-billion for the first five years. The endowment could also help local libraries start Kickstarter-style campaigns through which local donors could send money to their favorite local library projects. The money raised would be crucial to improving school and public libraries---and the reading and math skills of America’s students. Much of the money could go to hire and train librarians, family literacy workers, and others, especially in the very poorest areas."...

The “Culture” of rent vs own
May 16, 2014 | 4:48 pm

rent vs ownThis article from Apartment Therapy is the first I have seen to try to correlate the 'rent vs own' shift in digital media to actual renting and owning in the real world. I have myself observed the logic and inevitably of the rise of streaming media---why should I own 500 DVDs when I can pay 8 bucks a month to Netflix and watch anything I want? But I think the fine folks at AT take it a step too far when they start comparing that to something like a car or a house. I do agree with them that people my...

The limits of “Hack the library”: Don’t aim for too much more with too much less—and try harder for more
April 18, 2014 | 10:25 am

Hack the LibraryLess than 12 percent of U.S. public library spending goes for books and other items. Doubt the need for “hacking the library” through ingenious tech upgrades and reinvention of processes, missions and plenty else? I don’t. Nor do the organizers of the 29th Computers in Libraries conference named after the magazine. Much to their credit, this Information Today event borrowed from the Harvard Library Innovation Lab and made “Hack the library” the theme at a gathering of well over 1,000 library professionals at the Washington Hilton. A keynoter, the ever-stimulating David Weinberger, lab co-director, told them April 7: “Libraries are getting squeezed a...

The most urgent digital library needs are those of Lady Gaga and the Kardashians
December 15, 2013 | 1:07 pm

Lady_Gaga_BTW_Ball_Antwerp_02Just a dream. But what if I really could write the headline above—and not as a joke? Would more Americans, inside and outside the media, care more than they do now about the Hispanics, African-Americans and poor people mentioned in LibraryCity’s latest digital library commentary? Of course, as is evident from the post, you don’t have to be in a minority to benefit from full-strength digital libraries. The challenge is to let people know, “We can make full-strength national digital libraries happen. We don’t have to put up with a crappy $4.20 per capita spent each year on public library content in all...

Jim Duncan, Colorado Library Consortium executive director, speaks out in series on public libraries and the Digital Public Library of America
October 29, 2013 | 4:14 pm

Jim Duncan, executive director of the Colorado Library ConsortiumWhat kind of national digital library system---or systems, plural---should the U.S. create? Read Parts One and Two of a new series where Jim Duncan, executive director of the Colorado Library Consortium delves into the major issues. Is the Harvard-incubated Digital Public Library of America the solution with its “one big tent” approach for public and academic libraries? With museums even included? Or do we need intertwined but separate public and academic systems, so literacy issues, K-12 needs, related digital divide matters, and other national concerns do not fall through the cracks? Could a national digital library endowment, started mostly with philanthropic donations...

First all-digital public library system a hit in Bexar County, Texas—with hundreds of e-reader gizmos and an eager young crew to explain them
October 20, 2013 | 1:11 pm

bibliotechLast year LibraryCity.org knocked the library system in Rockford, Illinois, for planning to spend around a quarter of its $1.19-million collection budget on e-books. A third of Rockfordians were living below the poverty line in 2009 by one estimate. And yet the local library initially wanted to start out with just 50 Kindle e-readers---hardly the best solution for people too poor or technophobic to buy and use e-book devices. The local NAACP and other groups yelled foul, just as they should have. So what’s happening down in Bexar County, Texas? BiblioTech, the world’s first all-digital public library system, opened there September 14...

How to get the most out of library ebooks via the right gadget, text to speech, and otherwise
October 18, 2013 | 6:26 pm

FireVergeWant to hear text to speech from free library ebooks on your 50-mile commute? Even if you own an Android machine and the usual OverDrive app can’t do “read-aloud” unless audiobooks count? Also, what if you haven’t even bought an e-reading gizmo for library use, but want to? Which model to go with? In those cases and others, the guidance here is for you. Most tips will work even with low-cost, no-name tablets. But let’s pay special attention to the new Kindle Fire HDXes. They are among the top choices if you care more about reading than about tech and can stomach...

Booktrack Combines Music with your E-Books
September 12, 2013 | 1:30 pm

I am a daily commuter, and as such I always my e-reader with me so that I have something to read on my daily train rides. However, the train is far from a quiet library, and as a result I have gotten in the habit of listening to music while simultaneously reading. However, it's no easy task finding the right music to complement your book let alone amplify it. That's where Booktrack comes in. In short, Booktrack is a digital publishing tool that enables bloggers, artists and writers to self-publish their work with corresponding soundtracks. Writers can choose from a catalogue...

The Future of the Traditional Bookstore
September 11, 2013 | 2:57 pm

Here's more digital ink being spilled on this topic: what should the bookstore do? With ebooks on the rise, print on the decline and increasingly, shelf space being occupied by non-book items, what is the bookstore to do? Michael Kozlowski thinks they should be making apps, to lessen their reliance on third parties like Google and Amazon. While I think he does fine work over at GoodeReader, I have to disagree with him on this one. We don't need more apps. We don't need more ecosystems. We don't need to fragment a not-quite-settled marketplace yet with still more stuff, for two...

The DPLA and the risks of gentrifying America’s public libraries
August 29, 2013 | 9:26 pm

DPLAJim Duncan, now executive director of the Colorado Librarian Consortium, offered some needed candor about the Digital Public Library of America for NPR reporter Laura Sydell’s August 19 segment on the DPLA. The reaction from certain NPR commenters online? Nasty bashing of Duncan and other public librarians. One listener, for example, accused public librarians of "hopping on board the ‘library patrons only read trash and would rather make this a rec center’ train.” Now back to reality. Duncan himself used to be an academic librarian, and he hopes that the DPLA will succeed hugely and offer a wealth of cultural and historical riches, in line with his...

Promising DPLA debut—but please don’t confuse special-collection items, exhibits and APIs with a full-fledged ‘public library’ demo
April 19, 2013 | 10:00 am

DPLAA caveat first. The Digital Public Library of America is evolving. What’s more, I’m a booster of the organization and of the people behind it, including the new executive director, Dan Cohen, who so decently reacted after the Boston Marathon bombings. But for now, the academic-and-hacker mindset is prevailing at the DPLA over the traditional public library one, judging from the demo’s worthy but rather limited debut yesterday. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. But then, why insist on the P word in the organization’s name? Also, the K-12 appeal so far is not quite as great as I’d hoped despite some...