Thursday, August 7, 2008

Consumers Cool to Blu-ray DVDs (So Far)

Blu-ray DVDs have arrived at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library (great website!), which serves the residents of Dix Hills and Melville, Long Island, New York.

Is this the right move for your library?

Link to August 1 ABI Research post, "Consumers Delaying Blu-ray Player Purchases".

Blu-ray players are not flying off retailers’ shelves, at least not in the numbers the industry might hope for. A new consumer survey from ABI Research has revealed a widespread reluctance to commit to a Blu-ray player in the near future: over half of the 1000 respondents, citing “other priorities,” say they have no plans to purchase one; a further 23% are likely to buy, but not until sometime in 2009.

ABI Research principal analyst Steve Wilson says that much of the lukewarm response can be attributed to consumers’ perceptions about the value proposition that Blu-ray delivers. “Consumers were happy to embrace standard DVD when that format arrived because the improvement in quality over VHS videotapes was dramatic. Standard DVD didn’t require the purchase of a new TV either. In contrast, while half of the respondents to our survey rated Blu-ray’s quality as ‘much better’ than standard DVD, another 40% termed it only ‘somewhat better,’ and most are very satisfied with the performance of their current DVD players.”

I still live in a tube TV household, so don't ask me for any cutting-edge advice on this topic.

Congratulations to John Stoneberg

Link to August 6 Eau Claire Leader Telegram article, "New library director knows facility well".

John Stoneberg joined the library staff when the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library building on Eau Claire Street was only one year old.

Now, about 30 years later, he's been named director of the institution and will oversee renovation of that building.

"Right now the renovation plans are front and center," Stoneberg,55, said Wednesday, his first official day in the director position. He had served as interim director for the past month and a half after Michael Golrick and the Library Board parted ways.

Aside from the $1.57 million renovation project planned for next year, Stoneberg said the library's other big challenge will be navigating through tight budgets the city faces now and in the future.

Link to WQOW news story.

Latest Pew Survey on Internet Activity

Link to Pew Internet & American Life Project survey summary.

Excerpt: Those who are using search engines on an average day are more likely to have higher education and incomes, be internet users with at least six years of online experience and to have their homes wired for fast internet connections. Younger internet users are more likely than older users to search on a typical day and men are more likely than women to do so.
Includes cross-tabulations by education, income, broadband use, age, and gender.

An "Unlikely" Possibility on the Table

Link to August 7 Wisconsin State Journal article, "Tight budget likely won't lead to closing Monroe Street branch library, Madison mayor says".

Excerpt: The Library Board on Monday voted to include the closure of the library in one of two versions of its proposed departmental budget. Cieslewicz has asked all city departments this year to come up with a budget that would maintain all existing services, and then to show him how it would go about cutting 5 percent from that baseline budget. Closing the Monroe branch is among those cuts for the library system.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

And You Thought Wisconsin Had Quirky Place Names

Link to August 5 New York Times article, "What’s in a Name? Ask Knockemstiff, Ohio".

A former resident, Donald Ray Pollock, used the town as the setting for a book, “Knockemstiff” (Doubleday), a series of hard-edged, violent and profane short stories about the squalor of life here. The book’s cover, showing a bullet-riddled Knockemstiff highway sign, sets the tone for the collection.
“Knockemstiff had a reputation for being a really rough place,” Mr. Pollock said from his home in Chillicothe, eight miles to the northeast. “When I started writing, I took that and cranked it up a few amps.”

The town’s name is a source of folklore and conjecture. At the Ross County Historical Society’s McKell Library in Chillicothe, an archivist, Pat Medert, has a 1955 article from The Dayton Daily News about the town’s effort to change its name.

Review from 11/19/2007 Publishers Weekly.
A native of Knockemstiff, Ohio, Pollock delivers poignant and raunchy accounts of his hometown's sad and stagnant residents in his debut story collection that may remind readers of its thematic grand-daddy, Winesburg, Ohio. The works span 50 years of violence, failure, lust and depravity, featuring characters like Jake, an abandoned hermit who dodges the draft during WWII, lives in a bus and discovers two young siblings committing incest on the bank of a creek, and Bobby, a recovering alcoholic who must face the imminent death of his abusive father. The language and imagery of the novel are shockingly direct in detailing the pitiful lives of drug abusers, perverts and a forgotten population that just isn't much welcome nowhere in the world. Many of the characters appear in more than one story, providing a gritty depth to the whole, but the character that stands out the most is the town, as dismal and hopeless as the locals. Pollock is intimate with the grimy aspects of a small town (especially one named after a fistfight) full of poor, uneducated people without futures or knowledge of any other way to live. The most startling thing about these stories is they have an aura of truth.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Collection development alert: 5 copies in LINK; 8 holds. (probably more by the end of the day)

"Knockemstiff" has just been added to Retiring Guy's reading list. (I'm not sure if I can wait for my name to reach the top of the holds list. But since I just start reading Richard Price's Lush Life, I'll stay focused and be patient.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Futurist Paul Saffo on the "User Experience"

File generally under the topic of Politics 2.0.

Link to August 3 New York Times article, "Hail to the Twitterer". (The title of the article has been changed to "McCain, the Analog Candidate" online.)

Computers have become something of a cultural marker — in politics and in the real world. Proficiency with them suggests a basic familiarity with the day-to-day experience of most Americans — just as ignorance to them can suggest someone is “out of touch,” or “old.”

“We’re not asking for a president to answer his own e-mail,” said Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley futurist who teaches at Stanford. “We’re asking for a president who understands the context of what e-mail means.”

The “user experience,” Mr. Saffo said, brings with it an implicit understanding of how the country lives, and where it might be heading. As Mr. McCain would lack this, he would also be deficient in this broader appreciation for how technology affects lives.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Public libraries are keeping up

Link to August 3 Appleton Post-Crescent article. (Sub-headline: Fox Cities facilities evolving with technology, patrons' needs.)


Over the past two decades, Wendy McMorrow has seen the public library grow and change alongside her four children, who range in age from 20 to 12.

When McMorrow's two oldest were young, the family waited in line for librarians to check out their materials. Now, McMorrow and her two youngest, who visit the Appleton Public Library together a few times per month, typically scan their items at a self-check machine.

"There'll be a line waiting for the actual person to do it for you. We just go over there," said McMorrow, 47, of Darboy. "It's faster and very easy, and the directions are right there."

Modern libraries, including those in the Fox Cities, must be active on two fronts — preserving familiar and traditional services while providing the latest in technology and innovations.

Article includes quotes from Appleton Public Library Assistant Director Barbara Kelly, Neenah Public Library Director Stephen Proces, and Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library Director Barbara Wentzel.

Continuing Education Topic Alert for Libraries

Knowing What It's Like to Be Elderly

Picture credit: Kirk Irwin for The New York Times
Picture caption: Kim Burns, right, and colleagues at Westminster Thurber devised a driving route while wearing glasses that blurred their vision.

Link to August 3 New York Times article, "Simulating Age 85, With Lessons on Offering Care".

As the population in the developing world ages, simulation programs like Xtreme Aging have become a regular part of many nursing or medical school curriculums, and have crept into the corporate world, where knowing what it is like to be elderly increasingly means better understanding one’s customers or even employees — how to design signs or instrument panels, how to make devices more usable.......

Dr. Rosebrook, 55, said she started Xtreme Aging three years ago after a teenage clerk at a hotel joked about her husband being a member of AARP. “We all started sharing experiences and realizing things that we perceived as discrimination,” she said......

To approximate the state of people entering a nursing home, she asked each participant to write down five favorite possessions, five cherished freedoms and three loved ones on Post-it notes. Then one-by-one she asked members of the group to part with a possession, a freedom or a person: a car here, a husband there, freedom of travel next — until all that anyone had left were two possessions.

I wonder if they have a library rate. The article notes that Xtreme Aging's cost is $60 per participant. I suspect there are cheaper alternative out there.

Testimonial from What I Wish I'd Known, by Peg Gordon (An "aging sensitivity" teacher learned what's wrong with nursing homes when her grandmother was admitted to one.)

Link to ALA Services to Older Adults.