or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Hipster Kindle, from Gerbil With A Jetpack

   November 6th, 2013 Brian Herzog

Here's another great take-away from the NELA conference a couple weeks ago - this awesome comic:

Hipster Kindle reads a paper book ironically

Thanks to Meena Jain for including this in her Ebooks as an Adaptive Technology, and to Gerbil with a Jetpack for coming up with this in the first place. Oh, hipsters.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,



Recap from #nelaconf13

   October 24th, 2013 Brian Herzog

nela2013I was at the New England Library Association's annual conference this past weekend, and had a great time meeting people and finding out what's going on around the region. This year's conference had a very complete website with links to handouts and notes, as well as an ongoing blog of notes from attendees, and the hashtag #nelaconf13 was interesting too.

I blogged the sessions I attended, below, and am looking forward to reading the posts from other sessions too:

A few of my favorite moments from NELA didn't make it into the notes:

  • While addressing concerns of data privacy and security when using cloud-based library services, Michael York, State Librarian of New Hampshire, simply said: that ship has sailed - no one should expect any privacy or security anymore.
  • Also, Michael drives the state delivery van whenever the primary driver is off on vacation - how cool is that?
  • Overheard: "we're doing R&D, which in the library world means 'rip-off and duplicate'"
  • Based on what I learned from the feng shui program, we need more plants in the library
  • The 3M Cloud Library integrated into the Polaris ILS is amazing - checkout of ebooks is seamless, and holds and checkouts show up right in the patron's account, along side other library items. And, 3M handles Adobe Digital Editions at the vendor level, which means patrons never need to mess with it - this is how all ebook vendors should operate
  • An amazing true story: a couple years ago in New Hampshire, a patron requested an item through early one morning. The library that owned it got the request shortly thereafter and pulled the book. Shortly after that, the delivery van arrived, picking up the request. And, it just so happened that the next stop on the route was the library where the patron's item was to be delivered - when they got it, the patron was notified his item was ready to be picked up. So, due to the coincidence of timing, this patron got his request in a matter of hours - and reacted by calling for funding cuts to libraries, because he felt they didn't need to be spending so much money on this gold-plated delivery system.

It really was a good three days (not to mention good nights in Portland, too), and I'm looking forward to going to next year's conference in Marlborough Boxborough, MA - see you there.



Tags: , , , , , , ,



Contest Reminder, and NELA2013

   October 17th, 2013 Brian Herzog

nela2013If you haven't already (and if you're interested), Saturday 10/19 is the last day to submit your best reference question or library story! Here are the rules - it'll be fun.

And in other news: #nelaconf13
This weekend is the New England Library Association 2013 annual conference, in Portland, Maine. I'll be there Sunday through Tuesday, so if you're going to NELA, please say hi. Here are some links of interest:



Tags: , , , , , , ,



#nelaconf12 Notes and Insights

   October 17th, 2012 Brian Herzog

New England Library AssociationI spent the first part of this week at the New England Library Association 2012 annual conference, which I found I enjoyed more than others in recent memory. Partly it was due to talking with way more people than I usually do, but the guys from ByWater Solutions, Koha developers, also picked up my lunch tab one day, which is awesome - thanks Nate.

Anyway, I mostly stuck to the technology track this time, which seemed like it was all ebooks all the time. Often, that turned into Overdrive-bashing (for past practices), but there was also a lot of looking to the future of what-could-be. Here are a few notes I wrote down from the various sessions over the three days:

  • Followup on Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    Last week I posted about this case now before the Supreme Court, and mentioned that Alan Wexelblat of Copyfight would be speaking at NELA. This was probably the hands-down absolute best session I attended, and if you ever get the chance to see Alan speak, jump at it.

    He offered more insight on the speculating I did last week - for one thing, this case will be limited to items imported from overseas, and only items that have (or can be) copyrighted. So, things like iPhones (which are patented, not copyrighted) and clothes (which are not copyrighted at all) will not be affected (so no "Garage Sale Police: SVU" any time soon).

    Alan also said he expected the Supreme Court to rule in Wiley's favor, albeit with a very narrow ruling. Arguments between October 29th, so keep an eye on it.

  • The (not so bright) future of ereaders
    In more than one session, I heard people say that 2012 was the peak for dedicated ereaders. They will start to decline in 2013, and from here on out, ebooks will be read on smartphones and tablets, because ebooks will cease to be something special or unusual and just part of peoples' normal lives. As people get more and more used to doing everything on one device, dedicated devices - like ereaders - will be left behind.

    Dedicated ereaders have the advantage with cheaper prices and better eink displays, but hardware prices are always falling, and the more people use smartphones and tablets, the more they become accustomed to those displays. Besides, Betamax was better quality than VHS, and it still lost out.

    Except maybe in libraries, since the libraries that circulate hardware will only want patrons using them for ebooks. But the death of ereaders was still an interesting observation (and again, a widely-held one, it seemed).

  • But if you are buying ereaders...
    A few speakers gave kind of best-practices reviews of ereader lending programs in their libraries. One recommendation was that, if you are buying ereaders to lend to patrons, definitely get the extended warranty.

    Another model for ereader/ebook lending was to give patrons a gift card in addition to loaning them an ereader. That way, patrons do your ebook collection development for you. And, since the books are being purchased, patrons aren't limited to just what is available through Overdrive, and instead they get to read whatever bestseller they want, right now. A couple libraries in Massachusetts are doing this, and they have not had any problems - the gift card is tied to the library's Amazon account, and patrons are told not to buy more than three ebooks.

    However, again, there was the recommendation to buy tablets, not dedicated ereaders at all - they will have a longer useful life.

  • The (ever brightening) future of ebooks
    Another common opinion was that ebooks really are a major revolution in publishing, whether we like it or not. And by revolution, we're really talking evolution along the lines of cave walls > clay tablets > papyrus scrolls > bound books > ebooks. However, ebooks won't necessarily totally supersede print in our lifetime - more likely, they will be viewed as different experiences, not as mutually-exclusive.

    A great example of this was keynote speaker T. Scott Plutchak's story of reading picture books to his granddaughter. She has one favorite book, which they have both in print and on his iPad. She always wants him to read it to her, but sometimes she wants the interactive play of the iPad, and sometimes she wants the traditional page-turning of the print book. I like the view that it's not all or nothing - print and ebooks can coexist. And kids don't see them as competitors, just different. I think I've said this before, but I still use both pencils and pens, and I also still listen to the radio every day. Pencils and the radio are good for certain applications, pens and keyboards and television and internet good for others.

    Another analogy I liked was that ebooks are a total revolution in technology, along the lines of sheet music > phonograph recordings. Before Edison, music was distributed as sheet music - people bought it and then played the piano themselves in their own parlors. But after the phonograph, people could buy and listen to a recording. This is a fundamental change in how people interacted with music - it removed the personal experience of playing it, and standardized what version of the song people heard. This isn't a direct ebook correlation, but the basic "this is a fundamental shift in how people interact with stories" is worth considering.

    However, one of the funniest lines at the conference came up when a speaker was trying to make the point that new technology does often replace old technology: "yes, people still raise horses, but how many of you rode a horse here today?" Ha.

  • DRM is the problem.
    Universally, the cause of all ebook-related problems right now is DRM. Not copyright, not technology, not piracy - just DRM. So, the recommendations were always: buy DRM-free ebooks - publishers like TOR and HumbleBundle are leading the way and need to be supported.
  • Create your own electronic content
    For libraries in Massachusetts, contact the Boston Public Library to get on board with BPL's local resource digitization program. For free, libraries, historical societies, town offices, etc. can have their annual reports, yearbooks, special collections, whatevers digitized by BPL and Internet Archive staff. The items will become part of the Digital Commonwealth and Internet Archive collections, and will be freely available online. This is definitely worth checking out - send a message to digital@bpl.org for more information.

    Good quotes relating to this were, "copyright is like a speed limit - it's flexible, so going a little over is okay." And, "copyright is often a gray area - and to us, gray means GO!"

  • Training - it's what we do
    Lastly, lots of talk about training and tech support - library staff training patrons to use ebooks, the reference desk evolving into a community technology help desk, etc. These ideas are not new, but they bear repeating, because I do think this is the future for libraries.

    I did hear one new idea though: one speaker found he was having trouble training senior citizens to use their brand new ereaders, because they had no computer experience whatsoever. No matter how patient and repetitive he was, he could just not communicate with them in the way they needed. So, he got the idea to train one of their peers - a senior woman who volunteered at the library - and then had her show other seniors how to use technology. He said results were instant and fantastic, because she, being from their generation, was naturally more attuned to speaking at their level. Great idea, up until he told us what he called it: "The Old Lady Support Group."

In all, it was a great conference. My only complaint is that I couldn't get to all the sessions I wanted to see. Presentations are being posted online, so please check them out for more information.



Tags: , , , , , , ,



Highlights from nelaconf11

   October 6th, 2011 Brian Herzog

NELA2011: Navigating the New NormalAs I mentioned in the previous post, I was at the 2011 annual conference of the New England Library Association this week. Now that I've had a day back to unpack and get caught up, I thought I'd share a few of notes I wrote to myself.

Again though, be sure to check out the session slides/handouts at http://nelaconference.org and notes from attendees at the NELA conference blog.

General Interestingness

  • A great way to encourage patron interaction on Facebook is to just ask questions - What's your favorite book? What are you reading right now?
  • A fun game for online social interaction is to post part of a book or album cover, and then have people guess what it is (also give hint - new book, published 50 years ago, etc)
  • I'm not a Childrens Librarian, but I thought the idea of rethinking the "Childrens Room" as the "Family Room" was interesting. Something mentioned was providing furniture for adult-child reading/working together
  • When you create a book display, put a list of books for display on the back of the sign, so it's easy for staff to refill as the books go out
  • 21% of Americans have no internet access at home - that's double the unemployment rate, and can have just as big an impact, but there are no initiatives to address it

My To-Do List

  • Check out http://maps.nypl.org - it overlays historical maps onto Google Maps, to compare where things were/are. They may have plans to make it open source, so it could be something we could all use for our own maps
  • I was surprised to see the Delicious linkroll on our Chelmsford History site wasn't working (but those on our main library website are fine). A good time to double-check your own linkrolls just to be on the safe side
  • Plan to have a program in January on ereaders and other gadets - not a
    talk, but more like a general help/troubleshooting session, focused on accessing library materials
  • Play with Join.me for a screen-sharing tool

Easy Ways to Improve a Mobile Website (that I should have thought of on my own but didn't)

  • add link to Overdrive for ebooks
  • add link to OCLC QuestionPoint chat or other 24x7 chat reference
  • add links to Twitter/Facebook/Flickr accounts to contact page
  • hide the browser address bar on mobile sites (to save display room)

For more tips, check out #nelaconf11 tweets - many people are linking to their own blog posts, in addition to passing on ideas they heard. I hope everyone got something out of the conference - it really was a good time.



Tags: , , , ,



New England Library Association 2011 Annual Conference

   October 4th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Presentation from NELA2011Today is the last day of the 2011 NELA annual conference, in Burlington, VT. I've been here since Sunday, meeting people and hearing great ideas.

There's a new NELA Conference blog this year, which a few people have been posting sessions notes to - mine are:

All the slides and other materials are available at http://nelaconference.org, and there's also lots of great Twitter chatter at #nelaconf11. All good stuff, and any time spent with New England librarians is of course a great time.



Tags: , , , ,