Category Archives : Libraries

Library-related stuff goes here.


10 Years of Creative Commons Freedom 1

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If you spend any amount of time around free software users or developers, you know it is all about freedom, not price. A decade ago, it was difficult to share content without stepping on some copyright toes.

Creative Commons changed all of that and paved the way for an entirely different type of freedom-conscious community: a free content one.
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My Book, The Golden Scrolls, on the Kindle 1

This post is a shameless self promotion. In case you did not know I wrote fiction, my book, The Golden Scrolls, is available on the Kindle for only $2.99. Even if you do not have a Kindle device, you can read it using a Kindle app on your phone, on your PC, or even in a web browser with the Kindle Cloud Reader. You can also borrow my book through the Kindle’s lending library for FREE.

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10 Free Digital Libraries 1

Among the advancements in the world today are digital libraries. They provide the same resources as a traditional library, only in a digital format that is accessible from a computer. They are especially handy for students, disabled individuals, or anyone who dislikes going to actual libraries. Some digital libraries require users to pay a fee in order to use their resources, but there are many free options as well. If you are looking for some free digital libraries, you should take a minute to check out these great choices.

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The iPad hype and why books are safe

There has been much talk about the cybersphere with the release of Apple’s new iPad.  Some of that talk has reflected the views of people who believe the days of print materials are numbered.  And please don’t mistakenly assume that because I am a librarian, I would shed tears over such a loss.

From the perspective of historical preservation, appreciation of literature, and a general love of books, I would certainly miss holding a book in my hand — the smell and texture of the pages, the feeling of turning each one with my fingers, and the weight of the object in my hand.

Nevertheless, I recognize that a change must come.  Printing anything on paper is destroying our environment, the only earth we have. Something must replace the traditional book, but the real question here is whether e-book readers like Amazon’s Kindle or over-glorified e-book readers like the new iPad are the answer to this dilemma.  I think not.

There are two main problems with this theory.  The first is cost.  While there may be future devices that are inexpensive and easily distributable, these devices are not.  As much as Apple fanboys would have you believe that everyone and their mama is going out to buy an iPad, that simply is not the case.  If people have to pay more or even as much for a reading device as they do for mobile service or cable television, people will simply stop reading.

The second problem is format.  Digital media is currently laced with poison (i.e. DRM).  It is a hassle that you cannot share your e-books with others as easily as you would shared a print book.  It is ridiculous that libraries cannot do this, and until they can, e-books will always be second-rate.  The format problem is also reflected in the devices themselves.  No matter how thin they get, they are not going to replace the look and feel of a real book.

I believe the real solution is something like I saw on Caprica: a page that looks and feels like paper but is electronic.  We have the ability to synthesize almost anything these days.  I am lactose intolerant but can eat soy cheese and hardly notice the difference.  Paper can be synthesized and so can book covers that are stronger and more resilient than the current offerings.  Imagine hold a book that looks and feels just like a real book, but you can press a button when you are finished reading and turn it into the book’s sequel.

I am not writing this because of nostalgia or my love of books but just based on my observation of library patrons and people in general.  I believe that until we reach the point where the benefits of e-books outweigh the inconveniences and high cost, print books are safe.


Beyond Web 2.0 and the Information Age

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I can remember turning on my computer, dialing into IndyNet, and opening the World Wide Web inside of a terminal window.  My first web experience was through a text browser.  At $10 a month, that was all I could afford.  Eventually, I learned to hack it and give myself access to the graphical side of the web and my first experience with Netscape Navigator.

Back then, web sites usually consisted of long single pages with mostly text, a few static images scattered about, some horizontal rules, and maybe an animated GIF, if you were lucky.  For those of you too young to remember, I am not reminiscing about the 70s or even the 80s.  It was not until the 90s when the World Wide Web burst onto the scene, drawing people away from their television sets for the first time in a way that nothing else before it could.

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Pay for websites? That’s so 1990′s

Rupert Murdoch has once again made headlines (pun intended) by telling CNN that visitors to the web sites belonging to some of the numerous newspapers that his News Corporation owns will soon have to pay to access certain content. Instead of having free access to the Wall Street Journal or the New York Post, a visitor would have to “pay handsomely”, according Murdoch.

I know the man is old, but is he really that out of touch with technology and the development of new media?  Does he really believe that people cannot live without his newspapers?

When a news organization is failing, as many newspapers are, why would it benefit them to make it more difficult to get news to people who could use it?  Their goal should be to gain readers, not drive away the few they have left.

If a person has to pay to find out a piece of information on one site, they will simply find it on another site for free.  Instead of arrogantly thinking that they can just muscle people into giving them money, they should try earning it.  Give people a real reason to come to your web site.  Come up with something innovative that makes your site worth their time.

We live in an age where media is interactive, collaborative, and, most importantly, open to all.  If News Corporation or any other mega-news conglomerate fails to realize that, it might very well be the last mistake they make.  And maybe the world will be a better, more truthful place without them.


Librarian Opposes Google’s Library Fees

From NPR:

All Things Considered, February 21, 2009· Google wants to give you access to its huge database of scanned, out-of-print books, but the company is going to charge for it. Robert Darnton, head librarian at Harvard University, says the deal violates a basic American principle — that knowledge should be free and accessible to all.

When I first saw the headline, I thought, “So what? What major online content provider actually gives their content away for free?  Academic and public libraries pay premium prices to get access to paid-content databases, only to turn around and offer it to the public for free.”

After hearing what the librarian had to say, however, I can see his point.  Those paid-for databases are already a commodity, but if Google might in fact provide us with the “future of books” (when we’ve overspent our use of trees and can no longer print physical books), it will be an travesty if our only access to libraries will be through commercial corporations such as Google.

Why do authors (or their lawyers), the RIAA, the MPAA, etc. get so uptight about their content being offered over the internet but yet are perfectly fine with them being offered through brick and mortar libraries?  Do they somehow think that because something is digitized they lose all control and copyright over it?  I would never read a novel sitting in front of my computer screen unless someone forced me to, but if I could preview a book, or just fine a quote from a particular page online, that would be fantastic.  Would I pay for it?  Definitely not.