oh…bother…

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hello dear reader

when someone says how-do-you-do, just say you didn’t. —eeyore

as you can see from the title, im just a little perturbed today. and this feeling reminds me of one of my favorite literary characters … aa milne’s eeyore from the hundred acre wood.

now, i know what you’re saying. eeyore?!?! but winnie the pooh is soooo cute. and tigger is so bouncy and full of energy. and what about little piglet? and the quiet wisdom of roo? but, alas, dear reader, i say we would not appreciate any of those wonderfully wonderful qualities if it were not for eeyore.

and, what, you are now asking, does this have to do with libraries? a LOT! in performing my due diligence of reading this weekend for you (okay, i would have done it anyway) i came across a blog that kinda, well, ticked me off. the blog is titled “closed stacks”and im not sure exactly how i stumbled upon it since its been dormant since may of last year. but it was in my google reader, so…

i must point out here that i don’t think we would get along if we met in an alley or a bar. cases in point…

the first is a blog posting titled “i’m tired of talking about e-books.”

this post was written back in april 2012, and the author pines for a bygone era where librarians talked about something other than e-books. huh? first, e-books is an IMPORTANT conversation. however, maybe this librarian needs to get out more. i know plenty of librarians and they’re talking about LOTS of things other than ebooks. even back in april. besides, if you wanna talk about something else, then START THE CONVERSATION. don’t complain because no one else has started it.

the second post -“how can we harness this?” visits the “why aren’t we more like a bookstore” question or the “why are we trying to be like bookstores?” question.

this screed, published in dec of 2011 decried the age-old habit of comparison shopping. however, they’re not calling it that anymore – now it’s “showcasing.” the practice of going into a bookstore, checking out the goods, then leaving said bookstore and placing an order from some online entity. the blogger wants to know how we can “harness” this “power” and get people to come to the library to get the items they want either instead instead of the bookstore or after the bookstore. then the blogger (and the posting commenters) proceed to explain exactly WHY people don’t…not enough copies, lack of browsability, sterile environment, long waits in hold queue. *sigh*

some memorable quotes:

…as I meet people, tell them what I do and then gauge their reaction. People who have positive associations of the library, usually from childhood, get excited and enthusiastic; other people really don’t understand what it is that I or the library does these days

The state that I currently work in, is in financial shambles (as are many).

It’s certainly difficult to keep on doing more with less like we have been for the past few years.

yes, we know…woe is me. woe is the library…

thirdly, in discussing a public library closing in central falls, rhode island in july 2011, the blogger talks of how terrible the closing is, the loss of jobs, the loss to the community, the gnashing of teeth, the wringing of hands. then proceeds to talk about their trip to that year’s ALA in new orleans and how terrible that said blogger worked multiple part-time library jobs while most attendees had full-time jobs and couldn’t understand the “struggle” and how new orleans residents were happy to have ALA there but still asked “what do librarians do anyway?”

double *sigh*

lastly, the blogger’s last post, i assume, since it was dated may 21, 2012 is titled leaving public libraries (why technology literacy is king). not much suspense there is it? apparently the writer has found greener pastures for pursuance of their commitment to libraries (just not public ones) and…wait…what? what’s that you say? you’re leaving the public library realm? why? is it because you couldn’t find a full-time job? no? then why?

Some libraries are doing amazing things with technology in their communities, and I personally think they should be commended. But what do you make of a public library system that is okay with just sitting idly by and being part of the dying “community warehouse” model?

I finally had to accept the fact that the libraries and librarians I was talking to were okay with complacency. And since I’m not a complacent person, I started to look elsewhere. What I found was a job that lets me teach those very skills that I’ve been hammering on about to college students. I’ve been given the freedom teach technology literacy to adults in a college setting and help them prepare not just for their classes, but for their lives after college./blockquote>

now, i know, this posting is kinda personal. and you may not agree with me on some or any of the disagreements i have with this blogger. which, basically, come down to the victimization argument some librarians put forth. this blogger brought up some very good points. the concept of library is being challenged in many ways and from many directions. publishers, consumers, taxpayers, students all want something from libraries. its one of the most put-upon industries (professions) today. public libraries try to be all things to all people, and a lot of the time it doesn’t involve books. computer assistance, research assistance, and after-school care (unofficially) and homeless shelter are all standard accoutrements of your local public library. academic libraries are trying to figure out what students and faculty need to succeed – ebooks (yes, we still have to talk about them), electronic databases, information fluency, research skills. and what about their commitment to the community they reside? how much to offer and in what format (darn, there’s that pesky e-book conversation rearing its head).

sometimes you can make things better by working it from the inside, not bashing it from the outside (or from the inside).  be…pro…active. think. converse. challenge. breathe…

do or do not.

do or do not.

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libraries without books! now, classrooms without students?


[click to read]

greetings, dear readers and happy new year to you.

now that most of us are settled down from the hustle and bustle of the holidays (okay, yes, i’m using that as an excuse for not posting in a more timely manner), it’s time to continue to look at world of ‘e.’ and if you’ve looked at these blog posts long enough, you know that this is my thing. e-books, e-reader apps, ipads, finding ways to incorporate an ‘e’ in pretty much everything i do (except for the ‘i’ in ipads)

a friend of mine suggested that maybe my topics were passe. that e-books were here to stay and maybe i should start talking about the “new” new thing . . . MOOCs. that’s massive open online courses.

well, same same. libraries without books…classrooms without students? what’s next college campuses without classrooms? maybe.

if you’ve been following news of higher education (or news in general) you know that the state of california is in a financial mess. included in that mess is one of the jewels in california’s crown (no, not the beach boys or george clooney. oh, george cloooooooney, he’s dreeeeeeeeamy, ahem, oh sorry, i digress). it’s their university system, the university of california and cal state university.

and the university systems have their own mess . . . incoming students who aren’t prepared for college-level work. oh, no!!

they’ve increased tuition, increased class sizes, decreased class offerings (both in course availability and when they’re offered). looking to take a summer class? think again? and with a 48% dropout rate (48% – that’s worse than south carolina high schools – at least they’re at 50%) more out-of-state students? only for two years, then their in-state. well, something’s better than nothing. read this: higher education institutions are in deep financial trouble.

but the times, they are a-changin’ (thank you, bob dylan). i mean, what’s left? we can’t raise tuition any higher. lecture classes with 570 students? that can’t be good. not offering classes in a timely manner? how long is it gonna take to get my degree? an extra semester? two?

the cal state university system, through san jose state, thinks they may have a better way. online courses!!! they are going to partner with a company called udacity and offer online courses for 150 bucks!! can you believe it? according to the new york times article:

“The Udacity pilot program will include a remedial algebra course, a college-level algebra course and introductory statistics…however, the courses will be limited to 300 students — half from San Jose State University, and half from local community colleges and high schools — who will pay lower than usual tuition. The cost of each three-unit course will be $150, significantly less than regular San Jose State tuition.”

you can read about it here, and here and here.

so, if half my students aren’t on campus, and that half is split between multiple locations, what is the thread that weaves them all together? is the physical location no longer necessary? and to that end, where will they get the research materials? if each student goes to their own library, you’ve got the san jose library, the individual community college libraries, the individual high school libraries. the availability and level of materials seems uneven, on the surface. enter electronic resources, stage left.

will the lack of students in a physical classroom lead to a lack of need for physical books in a physical library on a physical campus?

let’s say professor mcgonagall decides to teach from her home boudoir via skype. and the materials she recommends for her course are all available electronically through google books or hathi trust. students post their research papers, quizzes and tests to folders in google docs or dropbox. it could happen…it’s happening now (maybe not from one’s home boudoir, although i suppose it depends on the class, doesn’t it?)

how many people do you think are interested in distance learning, for a particular course? maybe 160,000?? at $150/pop, that’s a lotta pop.

happy reading, no matter the format. and, if you haven’t read the unlikely pilgrimage of harold fry, you should.

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big brother watches what and how and how long you read . . . at college!!!

hello, dear readers

welcome to another edition of a naked library, where we wax nostalgic and not so nostalgic about … THE BOOK!

there’s a cadre of folks out there who seem to think that amazon, apple, google, facebook, twitter and all things electronic and social media-like are intrusive. that we give these companies, of course, by way of our own behavior, insight and information about us that they wouldn’t have been able to get before the advent of the internet.

for example, back in the day, no one would know what you were reading unless they a) visited your home and perused your bookshelves (bookshelves, how quaint…they’re now called just plain shelves) b) they rode the same train or bus with you and could see the cover (check out undergroundnewyorkpubliclibrary) or c) produced a court order to your local public library or bookstore.

recently, several articles have poppoed up about data mining by companies such as amazon,apple and google about what their customers are reading. this wall street journal article, Your E-Book Is Reading You, reports on just how much information is being mined by these companies. and it’s not just the big three. booksellers and publishers are in on the game as well. as an avid reader of e-books, i was appalled, yet fascinated, by this article. luckily, i’m one of those people who don’t care. but lots of people DO.

but now, the new great idea of the 21st century has arrived thanks to coursesmart. coursesmart provides e-textbooks and e-resources to hundreds of colleges, universities and college bookstores across the country. drum roll, please . . . it’s data mining!!! okay, that’s not new. you got me.

but data mining from college kids using e-books? yes, that IS new. and three schools have signed up for the trial: Texas A&M, Rasmussen College and Villanova University.

the first i read of this was from tabtimes.com, a website that keeps up with all things tablet. the headline: Three U.S. universities to pilot eBook program that monitors how students read. intrigued? so was i.  and, as always, i had been looking for a topic for the next installment of this fine, literary blog, so… i googled it (yes, i know! i’m a googler and i won’t apologize for it!!!)

anyway, i read this short article and the two things that jumped out at me were, “The project…will allow lecturers to drilldown into specific usage details like the amount of time students spend reading, the number of pages read as well as tracking any notes input into the text.”

secondly, “With the CourseSmart dashboard, professors will be better able to fine-tune lesson plans, critique student performance, and even tailor suggestions for specific students on how to study more effectively to help them stay on track and stay in school…”

suspicious person that i am, the first thing that sprung to mind was . . . BIG BROTHER!! but, just to confirm, i went to that vaunted resource of knowledge and truth . . . the chronicle (of higher education). they had an article entitled, “Now E-Textbooks Can Report Back on Students’ Reading Habits,” and that confirmed my suspicions. see those words, “report back?” aye, there’s the rub.

from the chronicle article: “Say a student uses an introductory psychology e-textbook. The book will be integrated into the college’s course-management system. It will track students’ behavior: how much time they spend reading, how many pages they view, and how many notes and highlights they make. That data will get crunched into an engagement score for each student.”

really?? and privacy be damned? haven’t we all known the slacker who gets an A? do they need to be harassed by their professors for a “perceived” lack of engagement? okay, i digressed to my soapbox. but i’m serious.

more from the chronicle, “Isn’t it a bit creepy to have textbooks watching their users?…answer, “Not if it helps you succeed.”

really? so the end justifies the means? (pulling soapbox out).

at the end of the wsj article, an author is quoted as saying that she often wondered if someone stopped reading her book after 3 pages and now she can see that they read it for a week. well, maybe they stopped reading for any NUMBER of reasons: it stank, it wasn’t what they thought, it burned in the fireplace, they loaned it to a friend who lost it, they got married, they got divorced, they got arrested. you see my point? data is only a snapshot of a moment of a moment of a moment in time. it has no context.

secondly, humans are, well, human. we are, for the most part, optimistic. and we like happy endings. the prince gets the princess, the bad guy goes to jail (or blows up in a fiery explosion or falls down an icy abyss). but that’s not always how stories go…and that’s a good thing.

sure, we’re happy for elizabeth and mr darcy and can you really see wesley and buttercup apart? but why does forrest gump lose jenny? or scarlett lose rhett? or george lose lenny?
does it say something about us that we can mourn a fictional spider as if she were our kin? or the lessons learned there within?

imho, writers should write what they feel, not what they think readers want. because in the end, we don’t know what we want (or need) and that’s why we depend on the heavy hitters like austin, hemingway and steinbeck. the one-hit wonders (or wonderfuls) like margaret mitchell and harper lee. and even the jk rowlings, stephanie meyers and suzanne collins. to show us something we didn’t know and didn’t know we wanted (or needed) to know.

i have fallen in love, cried at loss, railed against injustice, laughed til i cried, thunk a lot of thoughts and looked at my world just a little bit differently every time. all at the hand of an author who wrote a story. just a story…

let’s not eliminate serendipity from the dictionary…not just yet, anyway. besides, the fact that it’s one of my favorite words, i love the word origin of serendipity, courtesy of etymonline:

1754 (but rare before 20c.), coined by Horace Walpole (1717-92) in a letter to Mann (dated Jan. 28); he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale “The Three Princes of Serendip,” whose heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.” The name is from Serendip, an old name for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), from Arabic Sarandib, from Skt. Simhaladvipa “Dwelling-Place-of-Lions Island.” Serendipitous formed c.1950.
 
happy reading . . . no matter the format!
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a library state of mind…dreamy in the cloud

hello, dear readers

this edition of a naked library comes from the cloud. actually, all editions of a naked library come from the cloud. and the cloud is getting pretty crowded.

what else is in the cloud? distance education, especially in the form of for-profit universities such as full sail university, kaplan university, and, most famously, the university of phoenix. let’s leave the accreditation conversation for another time, shall we?

now, the open source movement is taking hold, represented by major universities in the country, such as stanford, MIT, harvard and yale. heard of MOOCs? massive online open courses? check out this article about stanford’s new MOOC initiative using Class2Go. or sidle on up to itunes university, or youtube EDU and you’ll see hundreds of lectures and courses you can sit through on your own…for FREE!! and who doesn’t LOVE free? not ready for college yet? check out khan academy for the younger set.

what does this have to do with a naked library, you ask? well, a few things have crossed my eyeballs recently.

the first was this commercial, featuring movie stars including james gandolfini, sally field and pierce brosnan. PIERCE BROSNAN???!!!?!? who can say no to james bond? i watched, mesmerized, as these famous people told me i could do it. do what? further my education with an iPad. say whaaaaa? that’s right. with an iPad.

the program is called empoweredUCLA. see the bold ‘ed’ at the end? for education? it’s a certificate program aimed at adults who want to enhance an existing career or transition to a new one. some of these certificates require a bachelor’s degree, some don’t. PIERCE BROSNAN!?!?! what could be so wrong?

the hook…is the iPad!! yes, you take these courses using an iPad.  you don’t have an iPad? well, you’re in luck because you can’t get empowered at UCLA without one, so they provide it for $800. up front. and no, you can’t use the iPad you already have. well, i mean i guess you can, but you’ll still have to pony up the $800 for the new iPad they are going to send you. end of discussion.

from the website: “Almost everything you need to be successful in your courses is contained in the iPad app. Use Facetime on the iPad to communicate directly to fellow students and instructors. Even get notified about an upcoming assignment, or receive an instructor announcement, directly through the notifications on the iPad.” how exciting!

the second thing i came across was an article on edudemic.com entitled “new iPad app may be the future of collaborative online learning.” the app, called “spin,” allows video watching to become an interactive group experience, kinda like skyping with multiple people, or a google+ hangout. oh, wait the google+ hangout thing is already happening in education . . .

tertiarially (is that a word? if not, it should be! i deem it so right now!) is this infographic from, wait for it, the university of phoenix. what’s it about? their LIBRARY?!?! i just blew your mind, didn’t i? because you know that the university of phoenix is a distance learning institution without brick and mortar buildings. but just check out that infographic!!

the question? if students don’t have to go to a classroom to learn, will they have to go to a library? there’s the open library, there’s project gutenberg, there’s hathi trust, there’s the internet public library. educhoices.org lists 25 online libraries.

now, of course, the collections aren’t as extensive…yet. and the research support isn’t there…yet. and copyright law hasn’t caught up with the technological advances of the 21st century…yet. but will online resources like these be deemed good enough by the degree-issuuing institutions?

or, maybe, as long as there are brick and mortar buildings, there will be brick and mortar libraries. after all, lots of brick and mortar colleges and universities have distance education programs also. they still depend on their brick and mortar libraries. right? and it’s not like brick and mortar libraries are moving their paper collections to electronic collections. right?

want more info? here’s some additional reading materials:

happy reading, no matter the format!

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just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

…a tale of a fateful trip. that started from the publishers and then wound up in court. with a tip o’ the hat to gilligan’s island and one of the BEST tv show theme songs EVER,

hello, dear readers!

welcome to another edition of a naked library, where we ponder various and sundry topics, mostly related to libraries, always related to books (i think) and sometimes even mildly amusing.

today’s blog posting is sponsored by the letters ‘e’ as in e-book, ‘l’ as in library and ‘g’ as in greed. well, the last one, maybe, we’ll see what you think.

several stories in the news recently, and not so recently, have talked about e-book pricing with publishers conspiring with apple against consumers, and lawsuits and lawyers and courts and even the DOJ (that’s the department of justice. yes, THAT DOJ). it’s enough to wish for perry mason and a courtroom confession with nary a minute left in that hour drama.

a little background music, maestro, please.

the charge: that apple (the company, not the fruit) conspired with six book publishers to RAISE consumer e-book prices in order to fight amazon, which usually charged $9.99 per e-book. confused? i was also confused until i realized what they were trying to do. in essence, the “agency model,” agency being the publishers, would be a price range of between $12 and $14. this is the price the publishers would REQUIRE vendors to sell the titles for. so amazon (or anyone else for that matter) would be FORCED to charge what the publishers required in order to sell the book. if they didn’t agree, they would not have the right to sell that e-book. crazy, right? well, there’s been a settlement, the DOJ wins, apple and some publishers lose, promises broken, contracts broken, appeals promised.  the “dear author” blog explains this and the settlement a lot better than i can here. i think maybe the decisive blow was this quote from steve jobs, related by his biographer, walter isaacson, “We told the publishers, ‘We’ll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30 percent.” “And, yes, the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway.”

so, what does that have to do with libraries, you’re asking?? EVERYTHING!!!! because there is a whole ‘nother side to this e-book pricing thing and it involves the same publishers, the same consumers (you and i), libraries and one other character in this cast…the middle man.

who is the middle man, you ask? gee, you ask a lot of questions. in this case, companies like overdrive and 3M.

see exhibit a: a report provided by the douglas county libraries of douglas county, colorado and specifically their director, James LaRue. Mr LaRue wanted to point out the large discrepancy between consumer e-book pricing and library e-book pricing. i found this interesting article on publishers weekly. here’s the scoop.

now, the technologically savvy readers that i know you are, you have, undoubtedly, bought e-books to read on your kindle, or nook, or iphone, or ipad, or kobo, or laptop. you get my drift. so, you also know that you probably didn’t spend more than twelve bucks or so on that book (not counting academic texts-that’s a horse of a different color). as a matter of fact, i get a little haughty when i look at buying an e-book and it’s more than $9.99. amazon has, indeed, spoiled me.

but LOOK at the pricing for libraries using overdrive or 3M. i don’t know about you, but i don’t think the 50 shades of grey trilogy would have been a bestseller if people had to pony up NINETY bucks for the privilege.

secondly, look at the items that AREN’T available. after the DOJ episode, it makes me wonder why some of these very popular titles (the hunger games!!!)  aren’t being provided in e-book format to libraries. i checked the amazon website and the hunger games trilogy, is, indeed, available in kindle format. and overdrive provides e-books in kindle format, so what gives?

whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, hold the phones, hit the brakes!! what about us, the publisher?? corporations are people, my friend! you libraries have been snookering us for years and years. you and your noble premise of free for all, and thomas jefferson and all that malarkey. you libraries buy ONE or TWO copies of a book and think you’re entitled to the world. do you know how much more we would make if every time you loaned one of our titles, we even got half the retail price? or 25%? sheesh. and what about those book sales?? libraries raking in even more money. some may say pennies, we see lost profits! way more people will download a book because it’s easy and convenient. who wants to get in their car or on the bus and go to the library?? how 20th century is that? we give and we give and we give and yet…

…and yet, and yet, and yet…

who’s right? (cue up old timey soap opera music here)

  • should libraries be able to buy a book once and share it over and over, forever and ever, amen?
  • should patrons expect their library to provide e-books no matter the cost to the library?
  • should libraries bet the farm on providing e-books regardless of how unwieldy the distribution or outrageous the cost?
  • should patrons contribute financially, maybe a couple of bucks, to get the electronic version of a book they want?
  • should libraries try to work out deals with publishers directly? but who will be responsible for the distribution mechanism that is now overdrive and 3M? the publisher? the library?
  • will martha ever get those collars starched properly? will ted finally admit he hates martha’s beef brisket? will martha finally admit she hates making ted’s favorite beef brisket? and starching his collars?

these and other questions may or may not be answered in the very near future. until then…

happy reading, no matter the format!

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Hello world!

Welcome to a naked library on WordPress.com

i am very excited about moving a naked library over to this platform and i hope it lives up to the low bar i have set for myself. but never for entertaining you, dear reader.

happy reading…no matter the format!

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where have all the know-it-alls gone…


long time passing… (apologies to pete seeger and his song “where have all the flowers gone.”

no, specifically “the know-it-alls.” you didn’t know there are (were) actually a group of librarians in philadelphia affectionately known as the know-it-alls? me, either. probably because i’m not from philadelphia, and also because i am not the most savviest of library employees.

apparently, the know-it-alls worked in the free library of philadelphia. they are (were) a group of reference librarians who worked at the library and answered any and all questions from any and all comers. and they even kept track of the most-asked questions to save you (and them) time and trouble.

i know what you’re thinking, dear readers. you’re thinking, if she didn’t grow up in philadelphia, didn’t know of the existence of the free library in philadelphia, why is she asking about a group of librarians that worked for a library in philadelphia?

well, the answer to that is in this article by daniel rubin,columnist for the philadelphia inquirer (yes, they still have those) titled “libraries experts on call: a dying breed.”

i think you can see where i’m going with this. here’s the gist, in a nutshell:

  • the year 1991 – 14 librarians (all with MS degrees) – 50 calls an hour – callers limited to 3 questions due to volume
  • the year 2012 – 1 librarian – 9 assistants – “a couple” of phone calls per week

the article goes on to say how reference services are being provided over the internet, how patrons have more access to technology of their own, and how the librarian has an iPad and her 2nd generation e-reader because, “I can’t help people unless I know these things myself.”

of course, this got me thinking about what i thought a naked library would be, which is without physical books. i never really thought of it being without people who were smarter than me. people who not only knew stuff, but knew where to find stuff. 

does that mean google has made a research librarian out of all of us? or just that we “think” we are smarter than we are? quantity vs. quality? do i need to know that loc.gov (library of congress) exists when i’m looking for information on abraham lincoln’s assassination or just leave it to google to point me in the right direction, and maybe never know?

if patrons no longer care about WHERE the information they want comes from, will they care about WHO knows it’s out there?

magic 8 ball says: reply hazy, try again.

thumbs up reading: inspector singh investigates: the singapore school of villainy. an entertaining detective series, usually set in singapore, similar to my other favorite detective, vish puri, the best detective in india. the inspector singh series is a british import so i hope i can put my hands on another.

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