10 Ways Libraries Matter in a Digital Age

This article from American libraries provides a good summary of the continued relevance of libraries.  The 10 ways below were compiled from both clients and library staff:

  • Libraries are a gathering place
  • Libraries are a first step to literacy.
  • Libraries are there for all ages.
  • Libraries help people use the Internet. … And libraries help people use the Internet better.
  • Libraries are interested in your privacy.
  • Libraries are hubs for preserving the past.
  • Libraries are there in a crisis.
  • Libraries offer the human touch

It’s not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it would certainly be a good topic of discussion in LIS classes, particularly if there was an attempt to rank order the list in order of importance or priority.

10 Ways Libraries Matter in a Digital Age | American Libraries Magazine.

Cataloguing, Libraries

Libraries flooded by demand for e-books

Although this article pertains to only one U.S. state,  I suspect it reflects a growing trend amongst public libraries in North America:

“Libraries can barely keep up with rocketing demand for electronic books as more people turn to Kindles, Nooks and Ipads for reading.Wisconsin libraries in 2010 loaned out e-books 27,320 times compared to 1,609 times in 2009, according to state data.”

“Interest will likely grow even faster after Amazon announced earlier this month that it would begin allowing libraries to lend e-books compatible with its popular Kindle device, a reversal from the company’s previous policy.”

One of the challenges highlighted in the article pertains to the willingness of publishers to allow ebooks to circulate: “Not all publishing companies want to allow lending of e-books, and some want to put limits on the number of times an e-book can be borrowed before the library must buy a new copy. HarperCollins, for example, allows e-books to be checked out only 26 times before they expire.”  From a cataloguing perspective, this growth in ebooks and digital media in general poses some interesting challenges, since I’ve observed that many of these records do not come with compatible MARC records, which may create a two-tiered catalogue system.  In our local library, for example, digital media are not fully integrated into the MARC records; a clear example is the lack of authority control for names and subject headings.

Libraries flooded by demand for e-books | The Oshkosh Northwestern |


Kobo’s New Social Reading Platform Has Launched –

As a Kobo and BlackBerry client and someone whose research has focused on transforming library catalogues into social spaces, I am particularly intrigued and excited by Kobo’s announcement that it will be releasing a social reading application that works with BlackBerry Messenger. This app will let readers  “shop with a friend, read with a group, exchange passages, and discuss the book in real-time.”  These features – with the obvious exclusion of the commercial aspects – are exactly the direction in which I think library catalogues should go.  I have argued for a number of years that library catalogues should enable communication amongst patrons, allowing them to share and discuss their reading, hearing, and viewing interests.  This type of interactivity may be particularly valuable for people for whom access to a physical branch may be difficult or limited.  One of the logistical challenges of this type of app is the lack of compatibility across different platforms, such as BlackBerry, Android, iPhones, etc., which can serve to limit its use.  I live in hope that cross-platform compatibility will be in our near future.

Kobo’s New Social Reading Platform Has Launched – eBookNewser.

Cataloguing, Libraries

Catalogue record for Monty, the library therapy dog.

Hats off to the cataloguers at Yale University for creating a MARC record for Monty, a therapy dog.  I particularly like the “not checked out” status in the local 9XX field.  I must definitely share this record with my students next year; it’s certainly a stellar example of the adaptability of MARC, not to mention hilarious, to boot. Lillian Goldman Law Library /All Locations.


College Librarians Look at Better Ways to Measure the Value of Their Services – Libraries – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Good summary of the Association of College and Research Libraries conference.  It might, perhaps, be interesting to ask non-librarians to provide qualities of academic librarians, in the vein of Benjamin Franklin, to get a broader and less exclusive perspective.

College Librarians Look at Better Ways to Measure the Value of Their Services – Libraries – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Librarians fight ebook pricing

As a dedicated ebook reader, I’m finding the debate over ebook pricing both intriguing and alarming. This post continues to raise the question of the quality of access to ebooks in libraries. Will access to ebooks be more restrictive than that to print books? There appears to be the popular assumption that digital items are more accessible because they lack a physical presence and can thus be downloaded easily. This is certainly not the case with the ebook collection in my local public library, where often access is restricted to only one person at a time, at least going by the number of times I have had to place an item on hold. While I can understand that pricing models often restrict libraries’ abilities to provide multiple digital copies, the placement of expiration dates on digital items by publishers is a rather different matter. What will be the impact on library budgets if ebook purchases last for only approximately one year if the HarperCollins model is to be applied?


The changing face of academic library collections

Over the past few weeks, I’ve frequently come across the topic of the changing nature of academic library collections. While library collections is a topic outside of my normal purview, it does concern one of the committees I’m currently sitting on which has been tasked to search for a new university librarian. A recent OCLC report examines the emergence of a mass-digitized book corpus in the HathiTrust Digital Library and whether it can serve as a substitute for low-use print collections in academic libraries. Rick Anderson presents a thought-provoking presentation of next-generation workflows for libraries:


Canadian public libraries are alive and well

Given the recent events in the U.K. and the U.S. with respect to the closure of public libraries, this article from the Toronto Star about the thriving state of the Toronto Public Library (TPL) is a breath of fresh air. My experience as a frequent user of the Halifax Public Library echoes the sentiments expressed in this article. Whenever I visit my branch library, it is always filled with people of all ages and cultures. The collections appear to circulate actively and freely, if my holds record is anything to go by. There are always activities going on in the branch, from children’s readings and play time, to ESL classes and tutoring. Participation in the public fora with regard to the construction of a new central branch library has been high and representative of all strata of society. My research into some Canadian public library catalogues suggests that the successes of the HPL and TPL systems is paralleled in other parts of the country. The reasons for the continued success of public libraries in Canada are ripe for investigation. The article suggests that one reason for the success of TPL is the system’s outreach to Toronto’s very diverse cultural population and, in particular, to new Canadians. Certainly in HPL, I’ve witnessed a significant increase in the services devoted to celebrating our diverse cultural heritage. Such diversity is certainly not unique to Canada, but perhaps our willingness to embrace and celebrate it – and to reflect this spirit in our public services – is.