mfioretti: libraries*

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  1. why are libraries still vital? Among other things, in Palfrey’s view, they provide access to the great equalizer of high-speed broadband, which not all communities have and is a crucial need for new immigrants and low-income families, especially those with kids, who need online access for homework.

    “A huge amount of the foot traffic is young people,” says Palfrey, who sends his history students to the library for projects. “They get assigned to go there. They’re consistently among the biggest library users.”

    Libraries also archive historical material, a task made easier and more user-friendly in the digital world. Summers says the Miami-Dade library has all of the newspapers ever published in the city on ancient microfiche, information that would be easy and relatively inexpensive to store digitally — but the library doesn’t have the money to pay for the technology or the bodies.

    “The biggest challenge at this moment is under-investment,” she says. “You’ve got to have the bodies. We had 600 librarians. Now we’re down to less than 400.”

    The Broward County Libraries Division has made some inroads in innovation with partnerships with Nova Southeastern University and local businesses, as well as through its Creation Station, a hands-on lab for learners of all ages that will expand throughout the county.

    “It really is a balancing act, to play into the history of libraries and how people viewed them and maintaining our regular book collection while also learning how to innovate and stay aware of technological advances,” says director Skye Patrick. “We’re a publicly funded agency, we don’t have endless amounts of dollars. ... But our original focus hasn’t changed. We provide free access to information as we always have. What’s changed is how the information is disseminated.”

    Palfrey also believes libraries need to exist as physical spaces
    Voting 0
  2. new £23m long-term home for the British Library’s newspaper collection has officially opened in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire.

    Designed by Atkins and built by Kier, with Capita providing project and cost management, the building will provide protected storage for three quarters of a billion newspaper pages – the equivalent of 12.5 million copies of Construction Manager.

    Built to replace the collection’s previous home in a 1930s building in Colindale, north London, the National Newspaper Building was designed to provide the ideal environmental conditions in which to store millions of old newspapers.

    The almost airtight storage rooms are kept at a constant temperature and humidity, in a low-oxygen environment to eliminate the risk of fire, on high-density racking 20m high.

    When required, robotic cranes retrieve and transfer the newspapers via an airlock to a retrieval area where staff can remove requested items and send them either to the British Library newsroom at St Pancras or the on-site reading room at Boston Spa.
    Voting 0
  3. For years, Google’s mission included the preservation of the past.

    In 2001, Google made their first acquisition, the Deja archives. The largest collection of Usenet archives, Google relaunched it as Google Groups, supplemented with archived messages going back to 1981.

    In 2004, Google Books signaled the company’s intention to scan every known book, partnering with libraries and developing its own book scanner capable of digitizing 1,000 pages per hour.

    In 2006, Google News Archive launched, with historical news articles dating back 200 years. In 2008, they expanded it to include their own digitization efforts, scanning newspapers that were never online.

    In the last five years, starting around 2010, the shifting priorities of Google’s management left these archival projects in limbo, or abandoned entirely.

    After a series of redesigns, Google Groups is effectively dead for research purposes. The archives, while still online, have no means of searching by date.

    Google News Archives are dead, killed off in 2011, now directing searchers to just use Google.

    Google Books is still online, but curtailed their scanning efforts in recent years, likely discouraged by a decade of legal wrangling still in appeal. The official blog stopped updating in 2012 and the Twitter account’s been dormant since February 2013.

    Even Google Search, their flagship product, stopped focusing on the history of the web. In 2011, Google removed the Timeline view letting users filter search results by date, while a series of major changes to their search ranking algorithm increasingly favored freshness over older pages from established sources. (To the detriment of some.)
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  4. How do you find your open source experiences influencing your life or perspective when it comes to other software?

    Since working with an open source ILS system (Koha and Evergreen) and having the ability to change the wording of something or the way it functions so easily, I wish that could be done for every type of software out there. Because most of this worlds' programs/tools are still closed source, I find myself frustrated with not being able to do anything about the annoyances that I find in software; things I know most likely can be changed easily.
    What tips do you have for others looking for a job in the open source arena?

    The biggest tip I have is to make sure your mindset is open source. What I mean by that is so often we are surrounded by policies, red tape, and other things, where our voices are seldom heard. In the open source world things move a lot more quickly. If you have an idea, you tell a developer, maybe give him/her some money (or cookies), they code it, and it's ready to be used. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. So if you want to really make a change, then open source is the way to go.
    Voting 0
  5. BiblioTech is an all-digital public library on the south side of San Antonio that offers 10,000 titles on 600 e-readers, 25 iPads, and 25 laptops. The library also includes 50 desktop computers and 100 Nook tablets preloaded with children’s books — just no physical books. (Patrons can read the library’s digital books on their own tablets as well.) Internet access and kids’ storytime are other, more familiar perks.

    According to Ted Genoways’ oft-cited article “The Price of the Paperless Revolution,” it takes roughly the same amount of energy and materials to make an e-reader as it does 50 books. So for BiblioTech to break even, energy-wise, patrons would need to read 50 books on each tablet. With 10,000 library users registered in its first three months, this probably won’t be an issue.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-01-08)
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  6. In 2008, the British Library, in partnership with Microsoft, embarked on a project to digitize thousands of out-of-copyright books from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Included within those books were maps, diagrams, illustrations, photographs, and more. The Library has uploaded more than a million of them onto Flickr and released them into the public domain. It's now asking for help.

    Though the library knows which book each image is taken from, its knowledge largely ends there. While some images have useful titles, many do not, so the majority of the million picture collection is uncatalogued, its subject matter unknown.

    Next year, it plans to launch a crowdsourced application to fill the gap, to enable humans to describe the images. This information will then be used to train an automated classifier that will be run against the entire corpus.
    Voting 0
  7. We are arguing that museums and institutions of higher education use the web in a truly collaborative, open manner that will ultimately create a huge new public that is informed and that values the arts and humanities. Open-ness will create a vast new audience that will include those that never participate beyond the web, but it will also create new students, new visitors to the physical museum, and new patrons. An open culture in museums and institutions of higher education will do more to make the case for the value of the arts and humanities than any other single initiative.

    What does this actually mean for museums and other cultural institutions?
    Voting 0
  8. Publishing metadata, for instance — things like ISBNs, trim size, etc. — has traditionally been one of the dullest aspects of the business, useful for selling to retailers and libraries but not much else. Now, however, publishers are expanding their definition and uses of metadata, in order to make their titles easier to find in text searches. Readers don’t care about metadata — until they can or can’t find the book they’re looking for.

    “Making a title discoverable in a world where hundreds of thousands of books are published each year is more critical than when only tens of thousands were being published,” Don says. “Basically, if you do a poor job with your metadata, you’re hosed.” Metadata is good information management, but in a search-driven business, it’s good marketing too.

    There’s also the even-thornier issue of rights and licensing: for instance, whether e-books count as a primary right (like the right to print and sell a book in a specific geographic area) or a subsidiary right (like a translation, or in some cases merchandizing).
    Voting 0
  9. In 1987, the Federal Bureau of Investigation approached Columbia University librarian Paula Kaufman with a request: Keep an eye out for commies.

    She refused to cooperate with the bureau's "library awareness" program and her defiance helped spark a nationwide backlash against government snooping into Americans' reading habits. Even knowing the government might be watching, people realized, could change what you choose to read—and in turn alter what you think. As a result of similar incidents that occurred over the years, 48 states now have laws on the books protecting library records, and the other two have legal directives in place that uphold similar standards. (The protections vary from state to state.)

    Today Americans read books on Kindles, Nooks, and iPads. But it's a lot easier for the government to see what you're looking at on your e-reader than to find out what you're checking out from the library. The authorities don't necessarily need a warrant to ask private companies that sell or lend e-books, such as Google and Amazon, to hand over private information about reader habits, from the books we buy to the digital notes we make in the margins.

    Digital devices "keep much more granular track of what you're reading, what you've read, what you've browsed, and what you might be reading but haven't yet," explains Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Cohn has created a detailed chart that shows how different providers of e-books handle your private information. It's impossible to know how often law enforcement has requested reader records, because the companies themselves don't disclose this and neither does the government.
    Voting 0
  10. If not the year, it was still an impressive year for open source in libraries. It was 2004 when I first learned about the Koha open source integrated library system and started researching what it would mean to our library to make the switch to open source. Back then, when I asked people if they knew what open source was or if they had heard of Koha, I heard "no" a lot more than I do now. Now, people call me up and ask me to come to their libraries to speak about open source and help them find the right products for their library. Now, I hardly ever hear, "We can’t pick open source because it’s too immature." Instead people contact me to ask what they have to do to get their hands on the latest and greatest release of Koha. It’s because of these changes that I’m seeing in the library professionals I meet that I proclaim 2012 the year of open source in libraries!
    Voting 0

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