Friday, August 26, 2005

Libraries of the Future?

Here are a couple of examples of traditional libraries morphing into forms that more closely fit the needs of their user communities. So, what does the future hold?

From: Is this the library of the future?

By Megan Lane
BBC News Online

The word library is set to fade from our vocabulary - but not because we've fallen out of love with books. Today's libraries are being made over as "idea stores", complete with cafés, crèches and multi-media offerings.

From: Bye, Bye, Library

By Kris Axtman
Christian Science Monitor

The UT library is undergoing a radical change, becoming more of a social gathering place more akin to a coffeehouse than a dusty, whisper-filled hall of records. And to make that happen, the undergraduate collection of books had to go.

Talk Like a Pirate Day - Sept. 19

Libraries with Pirattitude: The North Regional/Broward Community College library in Coconut Creek, Florida will celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day on Sept 19 starting at 6:30 PM with a showing of "a popular pirate movie" whose name they can't publicize because of contractual requirements.

You, too, can talk like a pirate!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Google to Release "GoogleTalk" Tomorrow

From Search Engine Journal

Google Talk - Instant Messaging and VOIP App from Google?
When Google talks, the world listens. People get ready to open your ears, because Google is about to speak loud and clear as the Internet anticipates the release this week of Google Talk - the Google Instant Messaging service. Google executives have hinted that the company will be releasing a new communications tool on Wednesday and most clues and leaks point to the messaging and/or VOIP tool from Google - Google Talk.

Unlike most net rumors, the buzz around Google Talk has legs to stand on. First reason is that the subdomain is live and redirects usersto which now serves a 404 error message. For the most part, if Google is not using a subdomain it does not exist at all and would not redirect or serve any message.

Chances also exist that the Google offering will go beyond messaging or chat and be a total voice operated communications system, offering VOIP technology with the ability to do VOIP to telephone calls as well. Google’s recent acquisition of Android may also point to the new Google Talk tool also being mobile friendly.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Book Vending Machines in Paris

Readers craving Homer, Baudelaire or Lewis Carroll in the middle of the night can get a quick fix at one of the French capital's five newly installed book vending machines.

Stocked with 25 of Maxi-Livres best-selling titles, the machines cover the gamut of literary genres and tastes. Classics like "The Odyssey" by Homer and Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" share the limited shelf space with such practical must-haves as "100 Delicious Couscous" and "Verb Conjugations."

Regardless of whether they fall into the category of high culture or low, all books cost a modest $2.45.

What's the hottest brand on the Web these days? The orange RSS icon.

There is now a venture capital fund, called RSS Investors, which is based in Cambridge, Mass. Currently, the fund has $20 million, although it plans on raising as much as $100 million. Jim Moore, one of the fund partners, says the fund will focus on Series A investments of $3 million to $5 million.

Where does he see the sweet spots? He sees opportunity in infrastructure products, such as those that will allow better filtering, search, scalability and security.

He thinks developers will leverage RSS into enterprise products. How? Well, an RSS platform can help employees collaborate on projects. It could even help with collaboration with alliance partners and suppliers.

He also thinks RSS will result in the emergence of thriving online communities. For example, a community of cancer specialists can use RSS to share their findings. No doubt, the growth from communities can be staggering, as seen with the success with, a social networking site catering to young music fans.

Link to Forbes Article.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Smart Light Bulbs

Fujitsu has developed a light bulb that, when it dies, sends an SMS message out through the electrical wires to the internet to an SMS phone saying, in essence, "I am dead, buy a new bulb." Cool!

The Ministry of Reshelving

This weekend, prankster/gamer/performance artist Jane McGonigal and The Ministry of Reshelving launched an effort to put copies of Orwell's 1984 in its "appropriate" section of book stores.

From the site:

How to Serve the Ministry of Reshelving

1. Select a local bookstore to carry out your reshelving activities.

2. Download and print "This book has been relocated by the Ministry of Reshelving" bookmarks and "All copies of 1984 have been relocated" notecards to take with you to the bookstore. Or make your own. We recommend bringing a notecard and 5-10 bookmarks to each store.

3. Go to the bookstore and locate its copies of George Orwell's 1984. Unless the Ministry of Reshelving has already visited this bookstore, it is probably currently incorrectly classified as "Fiction" or "Literature."

4. Discreetly move all copies of 1984 to a more suitable section, such as "Current Events", "Politics", "History", "True Crime", or "New Non-Fiction."

5. Insert a Ministry of Reshelving bookmark into each copy of any book you have moved. Leave a notecard in the empty space the books once occupied.

6. If you spot other incorrectly classified books, feel free to relocate them.

7. Please report all reshelving efforts to the Ministry. Email your store name, location, # of 1984 copies reshelved, and any other reshelving activities conducted, to reshelving @ Photos of your mission can be uploaded to Flickr, tagged as "reshelving", and submitted to the Ministry of Reshelving group.

Their goal is to relocate one thousand nine hundred and eighty-four copies, and to complete successful reshelving of 1984 in all 50 United States. Global contributions are welcome.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Free Wi-Fi? Get Ready for GoogleNet.

From Business 2.0

What if Google (GOOG) wanted to give Wi-Fi access to everyone in America? And what if it had technology capable of targeting advertising to a userís precise location? The gatekeeper of the worldís information could become one of the globeís biggest Internet providers and one of its most powerful ad sellers, basically supplanting telecoms in one fell swoop. Sounds crazy, but how might Google go about it?

First it would build a national broadband network -- let's call it the GoogleNet -- massive enough to rival even the country's biggest Internet service providers. Business 2.0 has learned from telecom insiders that Google is already building such a network, though ostensibly for many reasons. For the past year, it has quietly been shopping for miles and miles of "dark," or unused, fiber-optic cable across the country from wholesalers such as New Yorkís AboveNet. It's also acquiring superfast connections from Cogent Communications and WilTel, among others, between East Coast cities including Atlanta, Miami, and New York. Such large-scale purchases are unprecedented for an Internet company, but Google's timing is impeccable. The rash of telecom bankruptcies has freed up a ton of bargain-priced capacity, which Google needs as it prepares to unleash a flood of new, bandwidth-hungry applications. These offerings could include everything from a digital-video database to on-demand television programming.

An even more compelling reason for Google to build its own network is that it could save the company millions of dollars a month. Here's why: Every time a user performs a search on Google, the data is transmitted over a network owned by an ISP -- say, Comcast (CMCSK) -- which links up with Google's servers via a wholesaler like AboveNet. When AboveNet bridges that gap between Google and Comcast, Google has to pay as much as $60 per megabit in IP transit fees. As Google adds bandwidth-intensive services, those costs will increase. Big networks owned by the likes of AT&T (T) get around transit fees by striking "peering" arrangements, in which the networks swap traffic and no money is exchanged. By cutting out middlemen like AboveNet, Google could share traffic directly with ISPs to avoid fees.

Encyclopedia Britannica - RSS Feeds

Encyclopædia Britannica now has RSS feeds. It might make for an interesting addition to a library site.

Read more about it here

Friday, August 12, 2005

Google pauses library project

Google will temporarily stop scanning copyright-protected books from libraries into its database, the company said late Thursday.

The company's library project, launched in December, involves the scanning of out-of-print and copyright works so that their text can be found through the search engine's database. Google is working on the project with libraries at Stanford University, Harvard University and other schools.

The plan has come under fire from several groups, including publishers, who object to what they claim are violations of their copyrights.

Google said on its blog late Thursday that, following discussions with "publishers, publishing industry organizations and authors," it will stop scanning in copyright books until November, while it makes changes to its Google Print Publisher Program.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

WorldCat adds One Billionth Holding!

From It's All Good

About 40 minutes ago, a library somewhere in the 96 countries and territories in which OCLC has members added the billionth holding to WorldCat! A billion things that OCLC and its members know the whereabouts of, in public libraries, academic libraries, theological libraries, law libraries, medical libraries, historical society libraries and all the other kinds of libraries that are represented in the OCLC family of over 53,500 libraries. A billion holdings added to over 60 million records over a span of about 34 years by at least three generations of librarians working collectively to build WorldCat from the small, local database it began as to the stellar international resource it is today.

Britannica ships Ultimate Reference Suite 2006

Encyclopedia Britannica today announced the 2006 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Ultimate Reference Suite. The reference guide, now available on DVD and CD-ROM, is the latest version of Britannica’s multimedia software, which includes Homework Helpdesk, a collection of special features aimed at helping students complete assignments at home. Helpdesk has guides to preparing papers and oral presentations, learning games and activities, and easy access to statistics on the countries of the world, among other features. The 2006 edition offers an updated interface, improves performance, and also includes features on history, people and animals that are updated daily (via the internet). It will be available later this month for $50.

The Ultimate Reference Suite has three encyclopedias: the entire 32-volume Encyclopaedia Britannica, Britannica Student Encyclopedia and Britannica Elementary Encyclopedia. Each encyclopedia forms the cornerstone of an integrated “reference library” with its own distinctive interface that includes a dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, and historical timelines appropriate to the age of the user. The company says that this allows students to advance to the next level when they're ready as well as offers a solution for adults.

Getting Ready to Award My Prizes

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction represents the very best in contemporary fiction. One of the world’s most prestigious awards, and one of incomparable influence, it continues to be the pinnacle of ambition for every fiction writer. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors, and even publishers. In 2004, not only did Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty reach the bestseller lists, but previous winners The Life of Pi (2002) and Vernon God Little (2003) were also amongst the bestselling books of the year.

List Here.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Spanish Set to Become Official Language of Seven Denver Public Library Branches

In a sharp break from American tradition, the Denver Public Library is promoting a plan that would make seven of its branches "Spanish focused," banishing English language books to the backroom. The "Languages and Learning" plan would dramatically increase Spanish language offerings and staff, designating some locations as Spanish dominant. The proposal is currently under review by the Library Commission and an advisory board. LINK