Wednesday, January 31, 2007

$2M Grant to LC to Digitize Brittle Books

From Wired News

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said Wednesday the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awarded a $2 million grant to the world's largest library for a program to digitize thousands of works with a major focus on "brittle books."

The new "Digitizing American Imprints" program seeks to identify best practices for handling and scanning those books and collections, according to its managers.

"It is inspiring to think that one of these books, many of which are in physical jeopardy, might spark the creativity of a future scholar or ordinary citizen who otherwise might not have had access to this wealth of human understanding," Billington said in a statement.

Scanning is expected to begin within a few months.

Forget Dewey and His Decimals

From:The Shifted Librarian

Just as the internet allows users to create and share their own media, it is also enabling them to organize digital material their own way, rather than relying on pre-existing formats of classifying information.

A December 2006 survey has found that 28% of internet users have tagged or categorized content online such as photos, news stories or blog posts. On a typical day online, 7% of internet users say they tag or categorize online content.

The report features an interview with David Weinberger, a prominent blogger and fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Download a PDF of the report.

Librarians and IT Folks a la Mac/PC

A short, cute video in the Mac vs. PC vein. Thanks Librarian in Black

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New Library Usability website

University of Michigan University Library has launched a new website, Usability in the Library. The website provides open access to their usability reports and documents.

Check out their work on the SFX Label & Menu.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Harvard Extension School offers previews via iTunes U

The Harvard Extension School — a continuing education program at Harvard University — is offering a selection of course content previews for free, via iTunes U.

iTunes U is an effort between Apple and various institutions of higher learning around the nation to publish course content online via iTunes. Some colleges and universities keep the content private specifically for their students, faculty and alumni; others, like the Harvard Extension School, make course content publicly available for free.

The iTunes U effort comprises video previews of 15 of the 50 distance education courses available at the Harvard Extension School this spring. Previews include computer science, management, environmental science, history and the liberal arts. Each preview is 10 to 15 minutes long, and audio of each complete two-hour introductory lecture is also available for download.

If you have iTunes, click here to launch iTunesU.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Where do internet users spend their time?

Ever wonder where users spend the majority of their time online? has developed a unique methodology to estimate U.S. Internet traffic. Here is the data from December 2006.

For more information, visit the compete blog.


Amazon has just released a new Wikipedia clone, called Amapedia. It's described as "a community for sharing information about the products you like the most."

Why aren't e-textbooks selling?

From The Miami Herald

Digital textbooks can save college students hundreds of dollars every semester, but the market is off to an unimpressive start. It's been a year since most U.S. campus bookstores began offering downloadable versions of some textbooks, ranging between 40 percent and 50 percent less than the cost of the tangible version.

But as the spring semester kicks off on Florida college campuses, these cheaper e-books are not flying off the cyber shelves. Industry insiders point to several reasons: lack of knowledge, poor marketing and few choices.

''Publishers are having a hard time figuring out what they need to do,'' said Bill McKenna, director of digital products at Follett, a company that operates more than 700 college bookstores, including the University of Miami Bookstore. Follett offers about 1,000 titles in digital form, but sales have been meager.

''We haven't seen the revolutionary kinds of successes that other markets involved in digital delivery have seen,'' McKenna said.

More at the link.

Re: Book written in txt msg


A novel whose narrative consists entirely of mobile phone text messages has been published in Finland. If you dare, read more here

Pimp my Book Cart

From Overdue Media via Librarian in Black. More pictures here

OAIster reaches 10 Million Records

From Library Technology Guides

From the article:
We live in an information-driven world-- one in which access to good information defines success. OAIster's growth to 10 million records takes us one step closer to that goal.

Developed at the University of Michigan's Library, OAIster is a collection of digital scholarly resources. OAIster is also a service that continually gathers these digital resources to remain complete and fresh. As global digital repositories grow, so do OAIster's holdings.

Popular search engines don't have the holdings OAIster does. Theycrawl web pages and index the words on those pages. It's an outstanding technique for fast, broad information from public websites. But scholarly information, the kind researchers use to enrich their work, is generally hidden from these search engines.

OAIster retrieves these otherwise elusive resources by tapping directly into the collections of a variety of institutions using harvesting technology based on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. These can be images, academic papers, movies and audio files, technical reports, books, as well as preprints (unpublished works that have not yet been peer reviewed). By aggregating these resources, OAIster makes it possible to search across all of them and return the results of a thorough investigation of complete, up-to-date resources.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Librarian's Lament: Books Are a Hard Sell

From The Washington Post"

I'm a librarian in an independent Washington area school. We're doing all the right things. Our class sizes are small. Most graduating seniors gain admission to their college of choice. The facilities are first-rate.

Yet from my vantage point at the reference desk, something is amiss. The books in the library stacks are gathering dust.

More at the link

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Record Labels Contemplate Unrestricted Digital Music

The New York Times reports that executives of technology companies, in attendance at the annual Midem global trade show for the music industry, are apparently aware of “at least one of the four major record companies [that] could move toward the sale of unrestricted digital files in the MP3 format within months.” Even with solid sales on the iTunes Store and other online music services, it is reported, digital sales of restricted music has seen slow growth. Physical CD sales have likewise continued to take a hit.

From this week's AL Direct, "The Blonde in the Library Joke"

PS. Not trying to perpetuate stereotypes...

Ethics books most likely to be missing from philosophy shelves

Eric Schwitzgebel, associate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Riverside, writes: “Ethics books are more likely to be stolen than non-ethics books in philosophy (looking at a large sample of recent ethics and non-ethics books from leading academic libraries). Missing books as a percentage of those off shelf were 8.7% for ethics, 6.9% for non-ethics, for an odds ratio of 1.25 to 1.”...The Splintered Mind blog, Jan. 8

Monday, January 22, 2007

Free classical music podcasts from Boston's Gardner Museum

From the museum site:
Download free recordings of classical music performed live in the museum’s Tapestry Room. These exclusive recordings from our regular concert series feature performances by acclaimed master musicians and up-and-coming young artists. A new program is posted every two weeks, so check back often, or receive automatic updates delivered directly to your computer or portable mp3 player with a free subscription.

You are free to share and reproduce these podcasts, and pass this great classical music along to your friends and family. The same goes for the individual tracks you’ll find sorted by musician and composer in the Music Library. We only ask that you let people know where you found it, and don’t alter the recording or use it commercially.

Google and Book Downloads

From c/net News

Google is reportedly working on a plan that would allow consumers to download books to their computers to be read online or on mobile devices like BlackBerrys.

The Times of London reports that the program would be part of Google's Book Search project, which involves scanning and digitizing thousands of texts at libraries across the world. That project has had its share of controversy, as publishers and authors have charged it violates their copyrights.

The new program may be a sign that Google is willing to work with, instead of against publishers. According to the paper, after searching for and finding a snippet of text from a book online, consumers would be able to download the entire book.

"You may just want to rent a travel guide for the holiday or buy a chapter of a book. Ultimately, it will be the readers who decide how books are read," said Jens Redmer, director of Google Book Search in Europe.

E-books have yet to take off in any significant way so far. Will Google be the magic elixir?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Amazing new multi-touchscreen technology

Working all but alone from his hardware-strewn office, Jeff Han is about to change the face of computing. In this Googly age, it only takes a random genius or two to conceive of a technology so powerful that it can plow under the landscape and remake it in its own image. People are already betting that Jeff Han is one of them. One of the firstapplications of this new technology will be on the iPhone to be released in June.

From Click here to read the article.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Apple to Open up Fairplay DRM

In a move with great positive implications for audiobooks, Apple plans to open up protected music and movies content bought from the iTunes Store. The iPod maker is expected to make two announcements, possibly as early as this week - the first will be to allow streaming of protected AAC content via USB; the second will be to licence its Fairplay DRM to the company’s Made For iPod licencees. The news comes from one a long-term and reliable contact who just happens to be a Made For iPod licencee. This will have the effect of enabling you to play songs bought from the iTunes Store through third party devices like hi-fis using digital connections. It may also mean that devices like iPod docks will be able to display more information - artwork and other track info, for example - which is stored alongside the protected audio.

FairPlay is a digital rights management (DRM) technology created by Apple Inc., built in to the QuickTime multimedia technology and used by the iPod, iTunes, and the iTunes Store. Every file bought from the iTunes Store with iTunes is encoded with FairPlay. It digitally encrypts AAC audio files and prevents users from playing these files on unauthorized computers.


Google opens dialogue with book publishers

From c/net news

To anyone who thinks digital content is a threat to the book-publishing market, Google wants to tell you two things: first, you're wrong; second, its Google Book Search product is the solution, not the problem.

But in the 21st century's new-media culture, print publishing is going to have to evolve, according to those speaking at the Google-hosted "Unbound" event held Thursday at the New York Public Library.

More at the link

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Library Director Resigns Because of WiFi

This was posted on LITA's listserv:

Council on Wireless Technology Impacts Citizens and professionals concerned about responsible use of electromagnetic radiation
936-B Seventh Street, #206,
Novato, California 94945
For Immediate ReleaseJanuary 17, 2007
Contact: Rebekah Azen

Library Director at a college in Santa Fe, NM left her position due to wireless internet (WiFi) in the library. Rebekah Zablud Azen, MLIS, resigned from her position at Quimby Memorial Library, Southwestern College, on December 16th, 2006 after administrators refused to discuss the issue. "I don't feel that I should have to jeopardize my health to secure or maintain employment, but allowing oneself to be irradiated is fast becoming a condition of employment for librarians. I just said no."B. Blake Levitt, a medical journalist who has been researching the biological affects of nonionizing radiation since the late '70's, and author of: Electromagnetic Fields: A Consumer's Guide to the Issues and How to Protect Ourselves, and Cell Towers: Wireless Convenience? or Environmental Hazard? wrote, "Once considered safe environments/professions, librarians and teachers are now in high risk professions."Azen is not the first librarian to express opposition or leave her position because of WiFi. In Santa Fe, four librarians recently signed a petition against WiFi in the public libraries, while several others objected to WiFi but were afraid to speak out. There is a librarian on the west coast that has been told not to discuss this issue by library administration and a report of two librarians who moved to rural towns and left the profession.The proliferation of wireless technologies is a growing and serious public health hazard, says Azen. "There is no evidence proving safety and an abundance of evidence demonstrating biological harm to living systems. Anyone who cares to look into the vast body of research that has been conducted over the past 80 years will find that the weight of evidence points to harm. The only sensible response is precaution."Current safety standards adopted by federal agencies like OSHA were developed by industry groups and are obsolete. EPA senior scientist and radiofrequency (RF) radiation expert, Norbert Hankin, wrote, "Both the NCRP (National Council on Radiation Protection) and ANSI/IEEE standards are thermally based and do not apply to chronic non-thermal exposure situations." In other words, if it doesn't "cook tissue," it is assumed to be safe. Research indicates however that low-power exposure (WiFi is "low power') has been shown to have numerous biological effects which can lead to serious health consequences, including neurological, cardiological and hormonal disorders, breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, DNA damage, cancers, diabetes and asthma. Children, to whom public libraries cater, have brains and nervous systems that are still developing; they are particularly vulnerable. Among the many scientists, organizations, government agencies and medical societies issuing bans or precautions, Lakehead University, in Canada, prohibits WiFi on its campus; the Public Health Department in Salzburg, Austria advises against WiFi in schools; the Schools Department in Frankfurt, Germany prohibits WiFi in schools; and the Austrian Medical Association warns against wireless technologies, including WiFi. The Benevento Resolution is the most recent and comprehensive pronouncement by 31 scientists internationally. The Benevento Resolution states, "Based on our review of the science, biological effects can occur from exposures to both Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (ELF EMF) and Radiofrequency fields (RF EMF). More evidence has accumulated that there are adverse health effects from occupational and public exposure to electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields, or EMF at current exposure levels." The resolution also specifically warns against exposure to WiFi systems.Azen is also opposed to WiFi in libraries because it creates barriers to access for people with disabilities. People with certain types of heart disease, epilepsy, and others with electromagnetic sensitivity react with pain, confusion, and neurological or cardiac symptoms and are effectively denied access to libraries with WiFi. In California alone, a 1998 survey by the California Dept. of Health Services found that 120,000 Californians were unable to work due to electromagnetic radiation. Today, this number is undoubtedly much higher due to the rapid growth of wireless technologies.Librarians have always upheld the principle that access to libraries and information is inviolate, says Azen. "Today, this important library principle is eroding due the unquestioned acceptance of WiFi. Libraries should retain their autonomy as "wireless-free" zones. Instead of rushing to join the herd to go wireless, libraries should be building collections on this topic and educating the populace about the hazards associated with this technology."Azen says there are other issues as well with WiFi in libraries: libraries are relinquishing their unique role by morphing into internet caf├ęs, the provision of special services to those who have the money to afford laptops is re-igniting the digital divide, WiFi service imposes a financial and personnel drain on libraries already struggling to build collections and maintain traditional library services, and unsecured networks compromise a library's commitment to protect user privacy and confidentiality. "Social security numbers, financial records, and yes, library records, are all vulnerable in unsecured wireless networks." Azen says that librarians need to assess technological trends wisely and ensure that the adoption of new technologies does not adversely impact public health, restrict access, undermine the treasured principles upon which we stand, or erode libraries. She says there are simple solutions to providing more computer access, such as installing wired hubs for patrons. WiFi is the proverbial elephant in the room. We must, as a profession, begin to open up a dialog on this critical issue that is affecting libraries and librarians everywhere, says Azen.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ex Libris announces Primo Charter Members Program

From Library Technology Guides

Newton, MA, January 17, 2007 - Ex Libris Group is pleased to announce the formation of the Primo Charter Members Program--providing a leading group of organizations with the opportunity to collaborate on the development of Primo.

Primo presents library users with a single unified solution for the discovery and delivery of all local and remote scholarly information resources - including books, journals, articles, images, sound, video and other digital content. Primo answers the library's need to provide users with up-to-date services and experiences in-line with their expectation for quick and efficient discovery and delivery of what they need, where and when they need it.

Primo Charter Members include Boston College, the College Center for Library Automation (CCLA - a consortium of 27 community colleges in Florida), the Cleveland Museum of Art, Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of East Anglia - institutions that share Ex Libris' vision and strategic direction and that have shown a strong and abiding interest in defining and influencing the future of library information systems.

These Charter Members are now part of a larger group forming the vanguard of Primo institutions that also includes Ex Libris' development partners, Vanderbilt University, the University of Minnesota, hbz (the University Library Center of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany) and a Danish consortium of research libraries under the aegis of Danmarks Elektroniske Fag- og Forskningsbibliotek (Denmark's Electronic Research Library. that includes Det Kongelige Bibliotek (The Royal Library), Danmarks Tekniske Videncenter (The Technical Knowledge Centre of Denmark), Aalborg Universitet (Aalborg University), and Det Administrative Bibliotek (The Danish Administrative Library).

"The creation of a product like Primo constitutes a revolution in the discovery and delivery of scholarly information," commented Dan Trajman, President of Ex Libris, Inc. "Thus, Ex Libris found it important to have key institutions involved in the development, refinement, and testing—especially usability testing—of this world-class product."

Paul Soderdahl, Director, Library Information Technology at the University of Iowa, commented, "Primo is designed as the means for end-users to search, find, and get the information they need for their scholarly work wherever and whenever they need it. It is a pleasure to be a part of the team that has influenced, and will continue influencing, the development of this exciting new product."

"Exploring a range of social computing features, including tagging and reviews, will add value to the information seeking experience," commented Dr. J. Richard Madaus, Executive Director, College Center for Library Automation (CCLA). "CCLA is committed to providing our patrons with cutting edge products. We feel that Primo promises to provide added options in the discovery and delivery of information."

Bob Gerrity, Director of Library Systems at Boston College, added, "It is not every day that a product like Primo comes along - it is even rarer to be able to be a part of its development. As part of the Primo Charter Member Group, Boston College is able to help develop a product that we believe will become a standard offering - even a critical offering when libraries consider user-retention—in many libraries in the very near future."

The philosophical potential of PowerPoint

Clemens Kogler, an industrial art and design student at university in Linz has produced a fascinating film. From the site:
Le Grand Content examines the omnipresent PowerPoint-culture in search for its philosophical potential. Intersections and diagrams are assembled to form a grand 'association-chain-massacre'. which challenges itself to answer all questions of the universe and some more. Of course, it totally fails this assignment, but in its failure it still manages to produce some magical nuance and shades between the great topics death, cable tv, emotions and hamsters.
Thanks Presentation Zen

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Art Garfunkel's Reading List

From Library Stuff
An avid reader since the 1960's, Art Garfunkel (Yeah, that Garfunkel) has cataloged every book he has read since 1968. It is a very impressive list and makes me wish I had done the same (though my list would pale in comparison).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Quintura Kids Search Engine

From Google Blogscoped

Quotes from Russian creator, Yakov Sadchikov,
"Kids often do not know how to make a search query. They would rather use an interactive tag cloud and navigate through the cloud to find information. Quintura teaches kids how to search through the cloud of related tags/words/phrases.

Using a keyboard and typing query words in a search box is a barrier for kids. They often make orthographical errors while typing. Then they cannot easily and quickly find what they look for and loose their interest to searching.

It returns too many irrelevant results that disorient children and make them lose attention to an initial search topic while looking [through] those results."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Recharging batteries wirelessly

From c/net News
A Pennsylvania start-up says it has the answer to one of the biggest problems in mobile phones: battery life.

After three years of keeping its technology under close guard, Powercast has come to CES 2007 to get consumer and manufacturer attention. Powercast is a radio frequency that is transmitted over a small area, and its energy is "harvested"--wirelessly--to give power to small devices like cell phones.

While it's presented as wireless power, Powercast isn't just a replacement for a universal charger. Instead, it's meant to either continuously charge a battery or replace the need for them altogether.

It works like this: a transmitter can be placed anywhere--in a lamp, for example, that is plugged into the wall and sits on a table. The transmitter in the lamp sends out a continuous, low RF signal. Anything with either AA or AAA batteries set within its range--and equipped with a Powercast receiver, which is the size of your fingernail--will be continuously charged.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Perodic Chart of Visualization Methods

From BoingBoing is an online introductory tutorial about how data, abstract thoughts, and concepts can be graphically represented to more easily gain useful insights. One of their knowledge map examples is this excellent Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. Rolling your mouse over each form of visualization brings up an example of the technique. It looks like it would very useful if you think a visualization is in order but you're not sure which specific kind to try.

Get Human Contacts for many US businesses

Having just waited on hold at Olevia's (electronics) customer no-service 800 number for FORTY-FIVE MINUTES AND NEVER TALKING TO ANYONE! gethuman is a godsend: a list of several hundred 800 numbers and directions for bypassing the crap and getting directly to a human representative. Priceless.

From Cool Tools

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Apple Computer unveiled the iPhone -- its combo smartphone/music player/internet communications device -- at Macworld on Tuesday, culminating a shift in the company's center of gravity profound enough to prompt a name change. Now just plain Apple Inc. will focus on a wider range of products, such as its new Apple TV set-top box, also announced Tuesday. Check it out.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Older teens embrace online social sites

More than half of all American youth online are using social networking sites, according to a national survey.

The study found 55 per cent of youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who go online were using social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, according to a survey of teenagers conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Older teens, particularly girls, are more likely to use these sites. Seventy per cent of teen girls aged 15 to 17 had profiles on social networking sites, compared with 57 per cent of boys in that age bracket.

More at

Who's Killing MP3 and iTunes?

Article includes seven reasons why MP3 is the future of the music industry. Read more about it here

If It Doesn't Have an API, It's Not Worth Having

Really good article from Roy Tennant on API's. Includes definitions and why they are so important. Read more about it here,

More on digital paper - with 23 photos


“Even in this age of pervasive digital content, our research shows that consumers are very reluctant to read on laptops, phones and PDAs,” said Simon Jones, Vice President of Product Development at Plastic Logic. “We still carry around enormous amounts of paper. However, people are making less room in their lives for the weight and bulk of paper and are becoming more sensitive to the environmental impact of printing to read. We believe there is a substantial unfulfilled need that Plastic Logic can meet by making digital reading a comfortable and pleasurable experience.”

Friday, January 05, 2007

Paper book vendor AMS in bankruptcy

From "Publishers Weekly":

Advanced Marketing Services announced…that it has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware… In its bankruptcy petition, AMS reported liabilities of over $100 million and assets of more than $100 million. Its top unsecured creditor is Random House, which is owed $43.3 million. Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Hachette Book Group are all owed more than $20 million each, while HarperCollins is owed $18 million.

Study at M.I.T. for free!

MIT's OpenCourseware is a large-scale, Web-based electronic publishing initiative funded jointly by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation , MIT, and generous support of the Ab Initio software company. It offers courseware in an incredibly wide range of subjects from astronautics and architecture to literature and music and much, much more.

Targeted promotions via RFID

While currently limited to those with access to prototype RFID readers and capable cell phones, the technology should soon be available via most cell phones and PDAs. The implications for libraries are obvious.

From CNN

TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Stores in central Tokyo are set to beam news of special offers, menus and coupons to passers-by in a trial run of a radio-tagging system.

The Tokyo Ubiquitous Network Project, which launches in the glitzy Ginza district next month, sends shoppers information from nearby shops via a network of radio-frequency identification tags, infrared and wireless transmitters, according to the project's Web site.

Shoppers can either rent a prototype reader or get messages on their cell phones. The tags and transmitters identify a reader or phone's location and match it to information provided by shops.

RFID uses a tiny computer chip to store data, which are transmitted wirelessly by a tiny antenna to a receiver -- in this case, the reader or the phone.

At Ginza, visitors can access maps and tourist information in five languages by bringing the reader close to radio tags on street lamps, according to project official Hiroaki Hajota.

"There has been a lot of interest from Ginza's stores," Hajota said. "In the future, we hope the system will be able to target specific types of users with tailored information."

The trial, supported by the city of Tokyo and the Transport Ministry, is scheduled to run from January 21 to March 10.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Online Books Page

The University of Pennsylvania is maintaing a page that facilitates access to thousands of books that are freely available on the internet. The Online Books Page was founded, and is edited, by John Mark Ockerbloom, a digital library planner and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. There is a handy RSS feed for notification of new additions.

Flexible display developer Plastic Logic lands $100M in VC

Flexible-display technology developer Plastic Logic won more than $100 million in new funding to build a manufacturing facility as investors pushed the company to shift its business model away from a licensing strategy to manufacturing its own products.

Plastic's funding is among the largest deals in European venture capital history and is a huge jump in the company's capitalization schedule, having raised a total of $42.3 million in previous funding.

The company expects to begin manufacturing display products midyear 2009, with products shipping by the end of the year.

The initial products will be standalone flexible active-matrix display units that will include connectivity hardware and that are designed to be thin, light and robust, capable of being used anywhere to provide a reading experience as close to paper as possible.

The implications for eBooks is enormous, but these devices not only allow reading, but writing, as well!

From cNet News

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A mobile library on your phone

From The Times Online
LONDON Audio books are set to be revolutionised by a tiny card that can store up to five lengthy novels on a phone.

The card can be slotted into a mobile phone, dispensing with the need to carry up to six CDs for an audio version of a book. The technology, originally developed to store music, will be released this year by Nokia.

One title that will be available is the bestselling Looking Good Dead, by the British thriller writer Peter James. He said: “I think this will revolutionise storytelling . . . with this, you can wander off into the park, lie down and listen to a book.”

Nokia is introducing the technology initially with James’s German publisher, S Fischer Verlage. His publisher in Britain, Macmillan, is in talks for a British version. Annual sales of audio books have reached about £71 million in Britain and £435 million in America.