Thursday, June 18, 2009

Librarians vs. Google

Not 27 Things related, but here's a story I ran across this morning at

Librarians Fighting Google's Book Deal

I'm normally very pro-Google, and indeed I don't really think they are the bad guys here; this whole settlement came about from the same old story of information retailers with outdated business models whining and suing because the boat is leaving them behind. However, Google is certainly taking advantage of the situation, and libraries have a lot to lose should this go through and Google decides that it's not libraries' BFF anymore. Considering how they've suddenly lost interest in library tradeshows, it doesn't seem like such a large leap to imagine that they could hold libraries over a barrel with regards to pricing, academic journal style, if they come through this with no competition for rights to out-of-print books.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Glad All Overdrive

After a few brief experiments with Overdrive, I finally delved in and downloaded a book for Thing #22. As cool (and necessary!) as I think downloadable media is, I had my share of minor problems. I first got halfway through the Overdrive Media Console installation before realizing I already had it. Then, I discovered that I had to upgrade my Windows Media Player, which I couldn't do until I clicked the little bar at the top of my Firefox window that allowed the proper controls to run. Of course, these were minor obstacles for me and only took a few minutes to get past, but I can see how frustrating they would be to a user who isn't tech-savvy.

That being said, once everything was up and running smoothly, I loved how quick and easy it was to download a book. I chose to go the audio route, and found a copy of All the Weyrs of Pern. Anne McCaffrey is one of those authors that I have been continually chided for never having read, so I figured a taste of the audiobook might get me motivated.

Seriously, this is a cool service, and we should be doing as much as we can to both promote it to customers and to expand what we can offer as a digital download.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Love YouTube / Podcast Me By

So, Chris challenged me to incorporate a Beatles reference in my blog titles from here on out, after my foolishness last time. I'm not sure how long I can keep it up, but expect them to get more and more obscure as I try ever more desperately to be clever.

Anyway, everybody who works in libraries should familiarize themselves with YouTube and podcasting. In my opinion, they represent the future of how people will consume information; which, of course, is why television, radio, and print news seem to have so much trouble with those evil Intarweb pirates, with their dottycoms and their twittyspaces. I think that we see it in the library every day; customer tastes are moving away from "traditional" content delivery methods, and towards digital information that can be accessed a la carte and on demand. Preferably for free, or at least priced in a way that isn't very apparent.

This, of course, is the beauty of streaming video and podcasts: their versatility lends them to both business and pleasure. As some people at SPL have noticed, we are beginning to explore YouTube as a way of "guerilla marketing" our programs and services. This would not only give us a hassle-free way of using video as a promotion tool, but it also gives us a presence within an established, popular hub of information and entertainment.

Because I know there are people like me out there that have killed time meandering around YouTube and watching videos on whatever strikes their fancy. It certainly couldn't hurt to have library personalities and offerings on display for people to run across. And to demonstrate the ease with which these "commercials" could be integrated into other digital content spaces, I present the funniest "what if the song literally described what was going on in the video" music video to ever take place in a library.

YouTube, however, is not the best example of collaboration in action, I think. The comment threads there are a fine place to find the worst elements of the internet.

Podcasting, too, is another tool that could enhance library services, and incidentally, which we are flirting with here at SPL. The Smart Investing for Women workshop series at Central is recorded each month, and offered as an MP3 download. It's not quite a podcast, but it's fairly popular and has proven that episodic audio content (kids' programs? author talks?) can work in the library.

As for myself, I do have one particular podcast already fed into my Google Reader, in which the Penny Arcade guys record their process for coming up with a comic. I went searching for library-related podcasts, and found Great Books Audio, which looked pretty interesting. However, for those who might be interested in a chapter-based audiobook podcast, I have a little secret: we already have one of those at SPL, too. =)