The difficult thing however about predicting the future of reading is that everything i’ve said so far presumes that what is being read is an “n-page” article or essay or an “n-page,” “n-chapter” book,” when realistically, the forms of expression will change dramatically as we learn to exploit the unique affordances of new electronic media. Ideally, the boundaries between reading and writing will become ever more porous as readers take a more active role in the production of knowledge and ideas.
Although we date the “age of print” from 1454, more than two hundred years passed before the “novel” emerged as a recognizable form. Newspapers and magazines took even longer to arrive on the scene. Just as Gutenberg and his fellow printers started by reproducing illustrated manuscripts, contemporary publishers have been moving their printed texts to electronic screens. This shift will bring valuable benefits (searchable text, personal portable libraries, access via internet download, etc.), but this phase in the history of publishing will be transitional. Over time new media technologies will give rise to new forms of expression yet to be invented that will come to dominate the media landscape in decades and centuries to come.
I was reminded this past week how quickly things can change. A mere 24 hours can take you from knowing your cat is feeling unwell to holding her in your lap as she peacefully slips away.
Long story short, I found out on Wednesday evening that my cat Abby was far sicker than I ever suspected—leukemia, with blood counts so low even a transfusion wouldn’t be worthwhile—and I had to put her to sleep Thursday evening. Deciding when she would leave this world is probably the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make.
I thought I’d have more time with her—I’d only had her a year and a half, and she was still young and energetic, not even four years old. There are zany behaviors I wish I’d managed to get on video, more pictures I wish I’d taken, and perhaps I should have tried to play with her a little more, but I know I did all I could to make her feel loved and secure despite all the changes in our lives recently.
My other cat, Maia, has been a huge comfort. I will have to get her tested for the feline leukemia virus, but for now she is healthy and seemingly content (though sometimes I wonder if she wonders where Abby is), and that is a great relief. And if I’m cuddling her more often right now, well, she usually doesn’t mind, especially since I’m also being generous with her treats.
Rest in peace, Abby. You were a joy to me in our short time together and I will cherish the memories of your exuberance and our many cuddles.
The book publishing industry, already facing disruption from Amazon and e-books, will confront a new form of turbulence in 2013. Starting in January, publishers face the loss of their back lists as authors begin using the Copyright Act to reclaim works they assigned years ago.
Even by the standards of copyright law, the author reclamation rules are a messy cat’s cradle of ambiguous rules and technicalities. The math makes your head spin.
For instance, authors have a five-year window to exercise the right but must also provide advance notice at least two years but no more than 10 years beforehand. For 1978 authors — who are eligible to reclaim in 2013 — the window is already closing.
Note of interest: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion was published in 1978, so it’s one of the works that could be affected by this. It will be interesting to see whether the Tolkien estate (or any of the authors for whom this applies) does anything about it.
Whether you’re just joining or have been part of this profession for a while, we all have our goals. Ultimately, we want to provide as much as we can in the best possible way in order to make people happy, regardless of what our title or work place looks like.Except no matter what you do and no matter how hard you work on something, you’re sometimes going to piss people off at the same time, be it patrons or be it your colleagues. There is no way to be an effective change maker or advocate for yourself and services without making someone unhappy.…To be as good as you want to be and to further your goals in providing the best service and experience as a librarian, you have to suck it up and stick to your beliefs.That’s not to say don’t follow the rules. Just push against them as much as you need to. That’s the only way change can happen. If it means pissing off one or two or six people for the betterment of a community? It’s worth it.
1. Undergraduate students are not you at that age.
2. Every college/university has its own way of treating librarians.
3. For most students, asking librarian for help is a last resort.
10. You will spend more time in meetings than you can imagine.
So that’s it folks. eBooks and I are done. eBooks in libraries are a non-starter, their path has been set for the foreseeable future, and their future is determined by people who are not us. Not by the people who love books, who believe in their power to change lives, but by those who produce them for profit. No, not by the authors (as we all know, they see far too little profit for their labors), but by the publishers…the, until recently, necessary middlemen in the process between creators and consumers. Now that they’re not necessary to the process anymore, largely due to their inflexibility and inability to change in the face of rapidly shifting market conditions, they have attempted to salvage their failing business model with high prices, limited licensing policies, and technology so locked down that it remains impenetrable to many people.
If I hear one more publisher talk about “increasing friction,” I am going to punch that publisher in the face with a pair of book-shaped brass knuckles and discuss the option of dramatically increasing friction cheese-grater-style somewhere else on their physique. Don’t push me Penguin.
Publishers have painted themselves into a corner, a corner that will eventually eat them alive. But until that happens, until the market shakes out, there is little libraries can do that is in keeping with our core ethics and values.
Some of these points are applicable to libraries, as well.
Mistake #2—Paper is Married to Petroleum DOOM
Mistake #3—Reliance on Outdated Gimmicky Marketing Tactics
Mistake #4—Over-Fixation on Tools
Mistake #5—Expecting Commerce Before Community
If meebo was any indication, even established, long running technology services can go away without much advanced notice. What is a library to do with incorporating third party applications, then? There is no way to ensure that all the services and applications that you use at your library will still be in existence for any length of time. Change is about the only constant in technology and it is up to us who deal with technology to plan for that change.
Today America’s library system sits at a critical juncture. The Library of Congress alone has lost some 1300 staff since the onset of the digital media age two decades ago. Until last week, four of the six largest American publishing houses did not lend digital books to libraries, president of the New York Public Library Anthony Marx noted. And last month, the NYPL’s move to renovate its landmark headquarters to include more computers and resources for the general public prompted protests from scholars and writers who wanted to preserve the space for research.
Despite these challenges, the transition to digital media continues to open doors for innovative public service. The Library of Congress is spearheading the creation of a new World Digital Library with 145 institutions worldwide. The project allows the United States, often criticized for supplanting other cultures identities, to help with the repatriation of other countries’ unique cultural memories, said the Librarian of Congress James Billington. The Digital Public Library of America, an online project shepherded by Harvard University to spread knowledge beyond traditional library shelves, aims to launch in April of next year.Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2118141,00.html#ixzz1z1K5J6m6
Add to the list of talking points for the next time you petition your popularly-elected representatives.
Come, Let us go Boldly into the Present my Brothers & Sisters
Michael Peter Edson (Director of Web & New Media Strategy, Smithsonian Institution)
(doesn’t make policy, not a spokesman)
D201: Getting to Yes after Computers in Libraries
In the past 12 months, I’ve never bought fewer printed books – and I’ve never read so many books. I have switched to ebooks. My personal library is with me at all times, in my iPad and my iPhone (and in the cloud), allowing me to switch reading devices as conditions dictate. I also own a Kindle, I use it mostly during summer, to read in broad daylight: an iPad won’t work on a sunny cafe terrace.
I’m an ebook convert. Not by ideology (I love dead-tree books, and I enjoy giving those to friends and family), just pragmatism. Ebooks are great for impulse buying. Let’s say I read a story in a magazine and find the author particularly brilliant, or want to drill further down into the subject thanks to a pointer to nicely rated book, I cut and paste the reference in the Amazon Kindle store or in the Apple’s iBooks store and, one-click™ later, the book is mine. Most of the time, it’s much cheaper than the print version (especially in the case of imported books).