This figure doesn’t seem to come from the report, so I don’t know if it includes the 7 million that aren’t online, but either way, it’s a fairly large number. I’m guessing there are many more than that in the U.S., which is a problem when you consider how much government information is now only online.
I get a little testy when every attempt at developing a new way to share scholarship is required to pass a sustainability test. What we’re doing now isn’t sustainable. So why should new things have to prove they can do something our current system cannot provide? I’m all for thinking through the implications and having a some kind of plan. I’m not in favor of abandoning ideas because we can’t figure out how to put them to a test that the status quo has already failed. Miserably.
The printing press was more than a disruptive technology or a new business model for copying stuff. True, the printing press was a great copy machine, but it had a more profound impact. It made it possible for us to discover our cultural past by making classical texts widely available in uniform editions. It gave us more time to write new texts because we didn’t have to painstakingly copy the old ones before they could be shared. The printing press enabled us to compare and share ideas and spread them further than ever before.
So why did we decide to go backward? Why do we deliver this stuff we do to a system that will lock it up with licenses and copyrights and firewalls to prevent unauthorized access? Why do we work so hard for a deliberately tiny audience? Why did we lose faith in the power of ideas as a force for good?
With the current popularity of hackerspaces and makerspaces in libraries, library hack-a-thons, and hacking projects for librarians; it is clear that library culture is warming to the hacker ethic. This is a highly positive trend and one that I encourage more librarians to participate in. The reason I am so excited to see libraries encourage adoption of the hacker ethic is that hackers share several core values with libraries. Working together we can serve our communities more effectively. This may appear to be counter-intuitive, especially due to a very common public misconception that hacker is just another word for computer-criminal. In this post I want to correct this error, explain the values behind the hacker movement, and show how librarians and hackers share core values. It is my hope that this opens the door for more librarians to get started in productive and positive library hackery.
However texting can only do so much. Right? Wrong! I read an article yesterday about how people can leverage SMS texting to surf the Internet (Google), get email, even use Twitter and Facebook. Doing this allows you to stay in touch with events without relying upon your phone needing a decent data stream from a cell tower.
Personally, I’ve set up my Twitter account so I can text to it, and I have Selective Tweets on Facebook so any tweets with #fb also post to Facebook—it’s easier than texting both places to say I’m okay. :)
Some define web accessibility to mean making the web accessible to those with disabilities (including visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive) 1. However, I prefer the more general meaning of making the web accessible equally to everyone, including those with disabilities 2. To take this further, regardless of whether someone has a disability, they should be able to access information in their preferred manner including using any browser, operating system, or device.
A quick (but common) example of a problem is how a user is expected to control a video if they cannot use a mouse to click on buttons (they may depend on a keyboard or be visually impaired), especially when most videos still use some form of Flash. Try it sometime, and see what happens. Web accessibility guidelines, such as WCAG, attempt to address these issues.
Accessibility is a large and thorny topic, which I’m discovering first-hand as we try to ensure that one of our systems is section 508 compliant so it can be used for public access to certain information. And I definitely have a new appreciation for anyone who has to use a screen reader to use a computer!
And this just in: W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Approved as ISO/IEC International Standard (INFOdocket)
There’s a choice academic and public libraries face. One is to focus entirely on providing access to the published information that our community members want. The other is to make libraries a platform for creating and sharing culture.
But we too have choices to make, both libraries and scholars. The next time your library spends $40 to get you an article you want to read, think about the implications. Is this really how we want to do it? Do we conduct research and write it up so that those who are affiliated with institutions that can afford to subscribe to lots of journals or can pay $40 for the temporary personal use of an article can have that knowledge, but nobody else can? Really?
Here’s my conclusion: ebook models make us choose. And I don’t mean choosing which catalog, or interface, or set of contract terms we want — though we do make those choices, and they matter. I mean that we choose which values to advance, and which to sacrifice. We’re making those values choices every time we sign a contract, whether we talk about it or not.
As much as I love ebooks and technology, they are like a crummy loser boyfriend. Full of ups and downs that take you on a roller coaster of emotions only leaving you to love them one minute and hating them the next. Just like that loser boyfriend they have money issues.
Eliminate the artificial barriers for access. We do a VERY good job of maintaining proper access to our online resources (becasue your license agreements require us). We know better than you do who our patrons are and when to cut them off, so let us do our jobs and stop putting up extra logins while people are on network or proxied. If our patrons get confused, they don’t use, if they don’t use we don’t buy. Plain and simple, extra loggins affect our usage stats (negatively) and we don’t buy or drop your stuff if our usage stats go down. Remember we have wish list a mile long waiting for weakness in a product.
INFOGRAPHIC: U.S. Public Libraries Weather the Storm
Campbell [editor-in-chief of Nature], who was speaking on Friday at a briefing by academic publishers on open access at the Science Media Centre, related his recent experience of reading papers on psychology and psychiatric treatments. “It’s been a delight to find how many of those papers are published open access. I’ve been able to dip around into papers, get what I want, not necessarily the whole paper, and immediately find what I need. As a reader experience and a researcher experience, that’s very compelling.”
He added: “In the future, there will be text mining and tools … that need to get into that literature - I see that as a key part of the future and it’s hard to see how that could work without open access.”
This is a very good piece from the WSJ on piracy and the difference between music and books when it comes to digital transition. http://on.wsj.com/JPYJ42
Of course both products are very different. Over the 400 years we have been trained to think of books as a self contained artifact and a physical product acquired and lovingly shelved in your home or library. Music’s “product” is the sound emitted invisibly from a speaker, often enjoyed communally and broadcast for free, turned on at will pouring from speakers like water from a tap. Vinyl, cassettes, and CDs were packaging and since the demise of the album cover just soulless containers. Training us to buy digital music by the download is like training us to buy bottled water. Convenience and prestige help but if you’re thirsty you can always find a water fountain or turn on the tap. The closest thing books have had to a public fountain are libraries.
That is the big question in digital book’s future. Will we see book’s content become a utility like water pouring/streaming to our screens like tap water? As we move away from native apps and the internet becomes the entertainet will we stop thinking of books as artifacts themselves and consider the words like music or television images - something we pay for monthly for unlimited access like cable, electricity, or water?
I’ve taken to calling the journal subscription the Medium Deal because it’s just like the Big Deal, only smaller — it’s scaled to the article rather than the journal title. With the Big Deal you buy access to journals you don’t need in order to get reasonably-priced access to journals you do need. With a journal subscription you do exactly the same thing, only with articles. This was never a good model, but back when information could only be distributed in the form of printed documents, it was the only feasible one. Now, in the era of networked digital information, we still have that print-based mindset, thinking of journal “issues” as meaningful units (which they obviously aren’t, except in the unusual case of a themed issue) and going along more-or-less willingly with the proposition that the only way to get reasonably-priced access to a desired article is to pay for it in an annualized bundle with a bunch of others you don’t want.
I don’t see a solution to this problem either. What would obviously make the most sense is a Tiny Deal, one based on articles rather than journals, one that involves the efficient purchase only of what’s actually needed rather than the preemptive and wasteful purchase of large blocks of unneeded articles. But just because such a model would make sense doesn’t mean it’s feasible. For the Tiny Deal to work for libraries, the price of an individual article would have to be very low (as it is with a Big Deal). For it to work for publishers, the price of an individual article would have to be very high, because relatively few articles would be sold (cf. Joe Esposito’s recent posting on the projected economic impact of patron-driven acquisition on book publishers).
As Clay Shirky once observed, “There’s no such thing as information overload — only filter failure.”
My take? “Information overload is a symptom of our desire to not focus on what’s important.” It’s a choice.
Perhaps said another way, information overload is a symptom of our inability to focus on what’s truly important or relevant to who we are as individuals, professionals, and as human beings. But then again, maybe that’s the problem."
My trouble when it comes to library-related information is balancing between the stuff that’s pertinent to my current job and the stuff that’s pertinent to libraries generally. Now that my contract is ending, I feel I have to be aware of the breadth of topics out there since I don’t know yet where I’ll end up after this. (And yes, it is very overwhelming.)