Fri, Sep 11, 2009
Google will probably try to offer subscription to universities to view many whole textbooks online if publishers find the way to cooperate. I think that two things are very obvious:
1. you can't get much without file sharing (in lame countries)
2. format and formality of the "science article", quoting, trees of knowledge, subscription services... must advance, because they are crap.
Tue, Sep 15, 2009
The Future of Libraries, With or Without Books
People used to go online for the same information they could get from newspapers. Now they go to Facebook, Digg and Twitter to discuss their lives and the news of the day. Forward-looking librarians are trying to create that same conversational loop in public libraries. The one-way flow of information from book to patron isn't good enough anymore.
"We can pick up on all of these trends that are going on," said Toby Greenwalt, virtual services coordinator at the Skokie Public Library in suburban Chicago.
Greenwalt, for example, set up a Twitter feed and text-messaging services for his library. He monitors local conversations on online social networks and uses that information as inspiration for group discussions or programs at the real-world library.
Other libraries are trying new things, too.
The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, in North Carolina, has a multimedia space where kids shoot videos and record music. It also runs a blog dedicated to gaming and hosts video game tournaments regularly.
Kelly Czarnecki, a technology education librarian at ImaginOn, a kids' branch of that library, said kids learn by telling their own stories.
"Our motto here is to bring stories to life, so by having the movie and music studio we can really tap into a different angle of what stories are," she said. "They're not just in books. They're something kids can create themselves."
Czarnecki believes that doesn't have to come at the expense of book-based learning.
The Aarhus Public Library in Aarhus, Denmark, takes things a step further.
The library features an "info column," where people share digital news stories; an "info galleria" where patrons explore digital maps layered with factoids; a digital floor that lets people immerse themselves in information; and RFID-tagged book phones that kids point at specific books to hear a story.
"The library has never been just about books," said Rolf Hapel, director of the city's public libraries.
Jason M. Schultz, director of the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California at Berkeley Law School, said libraries always have served two roles in society: They're places where people can get free information; and they're community centers for civic debate.
As books become more available online, that community-center role will become increasingly important for libraries, he said.
"It depends on whether we prioritize it as a funding matter, but I think there always will be a space for that even if all the resources are digital," he said.
Some libraries are trying to gain an edge by focusing on the "deeply local" material — the stuff that only they have, said Blowers, the librarian in Ohio.
"How do we help add that value to a format like the Internet, which is expansively global?" she said. "So we look at what do we have here that we could help people gain access to by digitizing it."
That material can be used to start community discussions, she said.
This shift means the role of the librarian — and their look — is also changing.
In a world where information is more social and more online, librarians are becoming debate moderators, givers of technical support and community outreach coordinators.
They're also no longer bound to the physical library, said Greenwalt, of the library in Skokie, Illinois. Librarians must venture into the digital space, where their potential patrons exist, to show them why the physical library is still necessary, he said.
A rise in a young, library-chic subculture on blogs and on Twitter is putting a new face on this changing role, said Linda C. Smith, president of the Association for Library and Information Science Education.
Some wear tattoos, piercings and dress like they belong on the streets of Brooklyn instead of behind bookshelves. They're also trying on new titles. Instead of librarians, they're "information specialists" or "information scientists."
Libraries like the "Urban Media Space," which is set to open in 2014 in Aarhus, Denmark, are taking on new names, too. And all of that experimentation is a good thing, Smith said, because it may help people separate the book-bound past of libraries from the liberated future.
"It's a source of tension in the field because, for some people, trying to re-brand can be perceived as a rejection of the [library] tradition and the values," she said. "But for other people it's a redefinition and an expansion."
Wed, Sep 16, 2009
I haven't thought of actual libraries (innovating) while reading the original post.
I had in mind that when I download 15 books in fractal geometry, my criterion for quality changes a lot. I think how one book is reflected in another. There is a lot of fast browsing, but often I see flaws in single books. Maybe two books are amazing individually, but all others should go back to the drawing table and mix.
Wed, Sep 16, 2009
I think that the entire fact that knowledge is something to be paid for in any case is awful. Libraries are awesome, but I don't see them lasting if technological advances making all materials archived just as available online in some way big enough. The end sadly already seems to be arriving:
"All Free Library of Philadelphia Branch, Regional and Central Libraries Closed Effective Close of Business October 2, 2009"
Thu, Sep 17, 2009
So sad, I haven't lived enough to hang out at libraries and all those cool places and now already they are closing them.
BTW, the difference between the first and the second edition of "Fractal Geometry" from Falconer is that figure 14.1 used to be a hand-drawn Julia set.
Mon, Sep 21, 2009
Tue, Sep 22, 2009
That's good in the short term, but I think the fact that they almost didn't receive funding goes to show that libraries are now viewed as a disposable bonus, whereas in the past they were invaluable to a community.