Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Read Print: Your Free Online Library

I subscribe to a del.icio.us feed that sends me all links with the tag "library". Read Print was one of the websites recently added as a bookmark. Here is how the website introduces itself.

A warm welcome to Read Print, your free online library. Our website offers thousands of free books for students, teachers, and the classic enthusiast. To find the book you desire to read, start by looking through the author index. If you need help with something, feel free to drop us a line.

My son has asked that we read Huckleberry Finn so I immediately found Mark Twain's name in the author list and clicked on it. Huckleberry Finn appeared on the left hand side. I clicked on the title of the book and was presented with a listing of all the chapters. I clicked on Chapter 1 and started reading. Very quick and easy on the eyes.

The copyright date has 2004 so it looks like it has been around awhile. I did not find a About Us section so I am not sure who is actually running the website, but I am going to email them to find out. I was also disappointed that they didn't allow for easy download of the books to a portable device. Otherwise, nice site to find some freely available classics.

Monday, February 27, 2006

ALA Study - Public Libraries Are Doing Fine

This study asked a 1000 people various questions about their public libraries. In this digital age, 80 percent of those visiting the public library checked out a book while 29 percent went to connect to the Internet. Public Libraries are being directed to offer more cutting edge services and seeing their collection development budgets slashed, but is this really what our patrons want. Libraries have been about books for a long time. Do we really need to change this?

I believe we can offer a mixture of the more traditional services with the new, but are we focusing too much on the new and neglecting the libraries most beloved tradition: checking out a book. Our library leaders need to examine the results of this study and rethink the direction they are taking our public libraries.

Wireless AV Remote TV

A new device makes video and audio connections easier. The Pure AV Remote TV is a wireless device that connects a VCR, DVD/CD player or the cable box to the television in another room. The transmitter and receiver need to be within 350 feet of one another. Now you can watch movies or television in either room without messing with cables and wires. sending audio and video wirelessly from a cable box, satellite receiver, digital video recorder, DVD/CD player, or AV receiver to a TV, LCD, or plasma display in a separate location.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Is Wi-Fi really dangerous??

Lakehead University President Fred Gilbert questions the safety of Wi-Fi.

"The jury is still out on the impact that electromagnetic forces have on human physiology," Gilbert told a university meeting last month, insisting that university policy would not change while he remained president. Some studies have indicated that there are links to carcinogenetic occurrences in animals, including humans, that are related to energy fields associated with wireless hotspots, whether those hotspots are transmissions lines, whether they're outlets, plasma screens, or microwave ovens that leak."

The debate continues..........

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Reader's Advisory Help

The February 15, 2006 edition of Library Journal has a great article on reader's advisory. One "cool tool" that I found to be interesting and helpful is whichbook.net. Take a look!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Homeland Security Policing Library Pornography

This story is a must read for all librarians

Two uniformed men strolled into the main room of the Little Falls library in Bethesda one day last week and demanded the attention of all patrons using the computers. Then they made their announcement: The viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden.

Read more (Washington Post)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Email Accounts for Children and Teens

Recently I was in West Texas teaching an Internet course geared towards library staff. I was asked if I knew of an email provider that would let children sign up for an email account without parental consent. Many of the youth in the librarian's library wanted to know how to set up their own accounts so they could have privacy. While I don't know of any sites that allow young children to sign up for email accounts on their own, teens do have options.

Of course we all know some teens will just falsify their age by checking the box that yes, they are 18 years old or older, and set up an account. Many providers, such as Yahoo, will allow children over age 13 to set up an individual account. Many ISPs and email providers emphasize that when children are young, they should share the family's e-mail address rather than have their own email accounts. As they get older, the parent can ask the ISP to set up a separate
email address, but the children's email can still reside in the parent's account.

Two email providers that monitor email and notify parents are: Safe2Read and Zoobuh. These sites are aimed towards younger children. They do charge fees for this service, but may be resources you might want to share with parents of younger children.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Summer Reading Program Software - Worth the Price?

We are looking at some summer reading program software called Summer rEader by Evanced Solutions. It is web based and claims to streamline in-houre processes like registration, reading logs/process logs, prizes, Reader reviews, random drawings and statical reports. If some children's librarians could take quick peak at the brochure and let me know how much of time saver it could be. I would appreciate it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gate Counters

Fort Worth Public Library asked me to do some research on Gate Counters. In my research, I quickly found out that most vendors call them People Counters. The price range I found was between $130 to $600. I did not find any reviews on any of them so I welcome comments on what is best. Here are three vendors I did locate.

People Counters, Laser Electronics, http://www.thepeoplecounter.com/Order/order.html

Entry Level People Counters, SenSource, http://www.sensourceinc.com/peoplecounters.htm

Walker Wireless People Counters, Walker Wireless, http://www.walkerwirelessco.com/cgi-bin/catalog.cgi

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Is Traditional Reference Dead?

Here is a startling fact:

People in the U.S. use the Internet for more everyday research than any other medium, a fact proven by the 55 percent year-on-year surge in online searches in December, according to market researcher Nielsen/NetRatings. And Google remained the most popular place for Americans to search cyberspace in December.

The number of online searches in the U.S. soared to nearly 5.1 billion searches in December from 3.3 billion a year earlier, despite just a slight uptick in the total number of Americans connecting to the Internet, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

I was told, by a trusted colleague, that there was something like 300 million reference queries at libraries all of last year. As you can see, libraries are no longer the people's choice when it comes to everyday reference. Are we wasting our time trying to compete in the informational space? If anything, we need to recreate how we provide informational services. How about librarians meeting patrons at the door with Tablet PCs in hand? These Tablet PCs could be connected to the library's network wireless-ly. Librarians could provide on the spot assistance. Libraries could also emphasis the difference between quality reference and non-quality reference. How about this for a slogan? Can't trust the results from Google? Ask a Librarian.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Do You Really Know Your Patrons?

This is an interesting quote from Meredith Farkas' Information Wants to Be Free Blog:

"We create blogs for populations that don’t want them. We develop programs that none of our patrons attend. We see what people are doing successfully at other libraries and we try to replicate those successes, not considering the fact that our population is not the same as theirs. I’ve certainly been guilty of that sort of hubris. In short, we think we know what our patrons want without ever having asked them."

Do you really know your patrons? I am constantly amazed by how much planning libraries do without gettting any input from their users. In today's world, it is not difficult to create surveys for patron input. NTRLS uses SurveyMonkey.com for its surveys. If you do not have the time to do an extensive survey, put a poll on your website. Services like Bpath make this easy. Let's give patrons what they want instead of deciding this for them.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Want to Read a Good Book - Grab a Tablet PC

The future of reading covers the Google Book Search story. It stresses the publisher industry will go through some major changes in the upcoming years as more books make their way to the digital realm. Can you read a good book from a Tablet PC? Here is one quote from the story.

She acknowledges, however, that there will always be a significant proportion of readers who will never want to abandon the pleasures of reading a physical book, regardless of technological advancements. And true enough. Who would ever want to exchange the uncomplicated pleasures of lying around the beach with a good book, no matter what the technocrats come up with?

"Despite various attempts, none of the hand-held book readers has been successful so far and it's too early to tell whether people (particularly people over, say, 30 years), will want to read novels or short stories on their mobile phones or Palm Pilots in large numbers, although these are both growing market segments," she says.

"However, as the Chinese and Indian economies develop and world demand for paper and fuel escalates, we can expect this to impact on book prices. Also, we know that the 'Y' generation is much more comfortable with all forms of electronic content than older generations, and we can expect them to be willing to seek out good-quality deep information online."

As a member of the Generation X crowd, I feel comfortable with both mediums. However, my children's generation and the one before it, will much more prone to reading books online via a electronic device. My kids love their books, but they also love their electronic toys.

I for one will continue to read my books, but look forward to the day where I can easily download any book wireless-ly to my handheld.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Techbargins.com is a wonderful site to use when in the market for some technology. My favoriate feature is that you can subscribe to a RSS newsfeeds and receive daily updates on the latest, greatest tech bargains on the web. Here is an example of one of today's bargains.

Compaq V2000 Centrino Notebook $599 shipped free, Feb 9
Computers4Sure has the Compaq Presario V2000 customizable Centrino Notebook Pentium M 725A 1.6Ghz 14in Widescreen, 256MB/40GB, DVD, 802.11g, MS Works on sale for $599.99 after rebates. Free shipping. Tax in some areas.
Click graphic in middle of page.
$50 rebate (Exp 2/28) and
$100 rebate Exp 2/11/06 Email Deal Similar Deals
Lowest price search

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Texshare Database Journal Locator

Did you know that you can access The Harvard Business Review back to the year 1922 in EBSCO's Business Source Premier? That The New Republic is available in Gale's Student Resource Center Gold Edition back to the year 1983?

One valuable tool to help you locate journal and magazine titles in the Texshare databases is TDnet Journal Locator. You can search this tool by title, publisher, ISSN or vendor.

The next time a patron asks "do you have...?", you can check for them quickly in TDnet. You access this tool the same way you do any other Texshare database at your library.

Blurb - Self-Publishing Made Easy

Blurb is a brand new self-publishing service. As you may know, iuniverse, and other self-publishing companies on the web, have redefined the book industry. Blurb claims its platform makes it very simple to publish a book with them. Here is what they say about themselves:

What Is Blurb?
Blurb is a company and a community that believes passionately in the joy of books – reading them, making them, sharing them, and selling them.

Holding a finished book with your name on the cover is a truly amazing feeling; it's one of those experiences everyone should have. As software people, designers and publishing professionals at the top of our game, we realized something both incredible and obvious: there's no good reason why it should take tons of time, technical skills, big bucks or friends in high places to publish a book. Or a zillion books, for that matter.

So we put our minds together, and developed a populist publishing service simple and smart enough to make anyone an author – every blogger, cook, photographer, parent, traveler, poet, pet owner, marketer, everyone. (This means you.)

It is a pricey option to take, but it will be interesting to see if they can deliver on their promise.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bookletters Service Adds Reach Content to Your Website

Interesting Library Stuff post from Stephen Cohen on this service. It allows a patron to look up information on authors and books via a web interface, and then search the library's OPAC directly.

I plan to do some more research on this service. Look for more information as I check into the service.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Attract More Users - Put Games on Your Website

Bunchball is a Web 2.0 company that allows their games to put on other websites. For example, check out the Question of the Day game below.

Pretty neat. It took me about five minutes to create an account and get the code to embed this game in our blog. You can do the same for your library website. It would be an interesting way to attract more users.

Being a Librarian is Great! We get to sit around and just read!

Okay, so we wish we could sit around and read all day like so many people outside of the profession think we spend our time.

Do you ever feel a bit apprehensive when someone asks you to recommend a book? Reader's Advisory is an important service we provide in our libraries. Yet, reader's advisory is also challenging due to limited reading time and our personal reading interest. There are several good reader's advisory websites available, but one you definitely want to look at is The Reader's Robot.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Will Publishers Shut Down Libraries?

TechDirt is a blog I read daily. Most of it is not relevant to library specifically, but this post deals with the question of whether publishers are pushing to shut down libraries over copyright protection. It is an interesting read of someone who isn't a librarian. Make sure to click on the link "they won't be able to lend out books in the future." It takes you to an interesting piece from the BBC news.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

NewZingo: A Map of Google News

I am sure many of you have heard about the term, tagging. This is the process of assigning keywords to an digital object for the purpose of finding it later. Tagging has really taken off on the web. NewZingo takes this concept to the next level where it analyzes Google News and extracts tags from it. It displays the tags in what is called a tag cloud. The larger the tag the more news stories have that tag assigned to it. I challenge the ILS vendors to do something similiar with library's collections. In this way, we could easily see what the strengths of our collections and what direction we need to take our purchasing. There is so much we could do with ILS systems to make it a much more rewarding experience for our patrons and our staff.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

TitleZ - A New Collection Management Tool

TitleZ is a neat MashUp that I think collection development librarians would find useful. It tracks how well a book sells on Amazon; both currently and historically. Here is what it says on its website:

TitleZ makes it easy to see how a book or group of books has performed over time, relative to other books on the market. Simply enter a search phrase, book title, or author, and TitleZ returns a comprehensive listing of books from Amazon along with our historical sales rank data.

I signed up for an account with their beta release and performed a keyword search on Texas. It returned several hundred books ranked by sales rank. When I clicked on the left hand button, it showed a neat historical chart of the book's sales. Pretty neat. If you visit the site, don't forget to check out the compare feature. The beta release is free, but they plan to charge a monthly subscription after its goes prod.

Web 2.0: An Introduction

If you are interested in knowing more about Web 2.0, check out the article I wrote for the NTRLS website.