Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Beg to Differ

Get a Grip

Six reasons why Mike Elgan thinks an e-book revolution is in the works -- and evidence why I think otherwise, for the present.

Link to February 7 Computerworld post.

1. The economy. The economy is in the tank, and people are looking to cut costs any way they can. An Amazon Kindle pays for itself after the purchase of 20 or 30 books, then starts paying dividends. You save big on books, magazines and newspapers. These savings will grow even more attractive as the recession deepens.

People have already found a way to economize.
  • "Libraries many benefits rediscovered in hard economic times". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/22/2009
  • "Folks Are Flocking to the Library, a Cozy Place to Look for a Job". Wall Street Journal, 1/15/2009
  • "Library use up with economy drop." Racine Journal Times, 1/4/2009.
  • "More residents check out library to save money". Rockford Register Star, 1/3/2009.
  • "As economy goes down, traffic at the library goes up." Wisconsin State Journal, 1/1/2009.
  • "As economy dips, Fox Valley libraries have 'banner year'". Fond du Lac Reporter (et al.), 12/28/2008
  • "Libraries an information refuge in tough times". Wausau Daily Herald, 12/13/2008.
  • "Library use rises as economy slows". Eau Claire Leader Telegram, 12/4/2008.

2. The environment. Interest in protecting the environment just keeps growing and growing. The idea of getting a daily newspaper or a weekly or monthly magazine on paper seems incredibly wasteful to the point of decadence. Environmental consciousness will drive e-book acceptance.

Funny how some issues tank in tough times.

Link to January 22, 2009, New York Times article, "Environmental Issues Slide in Poll of Public’s Concerns". Excerpt: In the poll, released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, global warming came in last among 20 voter concerns; it trailed issues like addressing moral decline and decreasing the influence of lobbyists.

3. A publishing revolution. The book publishing industry is one of the most backward, musty, obsolete businesses in our economy. While every other kind of information moves at the speed of light, the process of publishing a book is like something from the Middle Ages.

We don't always travel from point A to point B in a straight line.

Link to January 27, 2009, New York Times article, "Self-Publishers Flourish as Writers Pay the Tab". Excerpt: As traditional publishers look to prune their booklists and rely increasingly on blockbuster best sellers, self-publishing companies are ramping up their title counts and making money on books that sell as few as five copies, in part because the author, rather than the publisher, pays for things like cover design and printing costs.

4. The rise in aggressive e-book marketing. Like the move from silent pictures to "talkies," the transition to electronic publishing will prove fatal to laggards. Those aggressively pursuing and developing e-books will rise to take control of the publishing industry. Part of this revolution will happen in e-book marketing.

Where's Yogi Berra when you need him. It's deja vu all over again.

Link to May 23, 2000 cnet post, "E-book business gets boost from Microsoft, Time Warner deals". Excerpt: Time Warner today unveiled a venture aimed at online publishing, becoming one of the first traditional publishers to make an aggressive move into the young market.

5. A rise in books written for electronic reading. The shift from print to electronic will change the nature of the book itself. Many books will be shorter. They'll be more timely and culturally relevant. They'll be more colorfully and engagingly written. And they'll go after young readers like nothing before.

People, it's a proven fact. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.

"In So Many Words: How Technology Reshapes the Reading Habit", by Rebecca Piirto Heath, American Demographics, March 1997.

Excerpt: Reading today is the most versatile of habits, encompassing all of the above. It is just as successful when it involves fonts dancing across a computer screen as it is with handset type on the brittle pages of a 300-year-old book. Despite pundits' dire predictions that the advent of computers and video would mean the demise of reading, it has yet to happen. "Media is not a zero sum game," says Paul Saffo, a director of the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, California. "Just because a new medium arrives doesn't mean an old medium dies out. We still have writing in an age of word processing, we still have reading in an age of video. That will continue, but the nature of reading will change as it has changed all along."

6. The decline of the newspaper industry. And, finally, the newspaper industry is dying. The old method of physically delivering blog entries on dead tree pulp is obsolete. It's very simple. Newspapers that embrace e-books will survive. Those that don't, won't.

Walk and chew gum simultaneously. Re-read Paul Saffo quote.

Link to January 29 emarketer post, "Traditional Media Use Stabilizes as Online Rises".

Friday, February 6, 2009

2008 Graphic Novel Sales Up 5%; Manga Off 17%

Link to February 6 PW online post.
Link to Dallas Public Library's new rental program webpage.

Link to February 2 Dallas Morning News article, "Dallas library StreetSmart Express program features popular books, movies for $5". (Includes video.)

Library officials say the program is designed to eliminate or shorten wait times for people who are looking to borrow popular titles rather than pay hefty retail costs. Not every best-seller or top-selling movie is part of the program, but many of the hottest titles – 28 books and 40 DVDs – are now available at all branches the same day they hit bookstores.

“This is your tax dollars at work, and I can’t think of a better deal,” said Corinne Hill, who runs the program.

Cedar Rapids library board supports sales tax

Link to February 5 Cedar Rapids Gazette article.

The Cedar Rapids Public Library board of trustees voted Thursday to throw its support behind a 1 percent local-option sales tax.

Board member Dennis McMenimen said the adoption of the tax would mean a speedier recovery from flood damage for the library.

"We hope the proceeds also will encourage other sources of funding to provide matching funds," McMenimen said.

The tax is set to go before Linn County voters March 3. If approved by all county taxing jurisdictions, the five-year tax is estimated to generate $18 million a year for Cedar Rapids and about $11 million a year for the rest of the county.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cedar Rapids rebuilding plan advances

Link to February 4 Cedar Rapids Gazette article.

The City Council last night voted to immediately begin to take steps to renovate the Paramount Theatre and to renovate or replace the Public Library.

The action came as part of the council's unanimous approval of a master plan for flood-damaged city buildings and facilities, which was created over three months by a team of consultants.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

LRS 60-Second Survey Results (December 2008)

Link to "Reference Service - Where is it Going? Survey Results".

Suffice it to say, no surprises here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Community Library, Chapter 2

Link to February 3 Kenosha News article, "Village Board seeks library system changes. Twin Lakes officials mull their future in community system, pending library audit".

Schools focus on technology skills for students

Link to February 3 Stevens Point Journal article.
In a society where students have the world at their fingertips, the Stevens Point Area School District is making technology education a top priority.
"We need to engage students, and (for) the 21st century student, (technology) is their life. They've got their cell phones. They've got their iPods, laptops," assistant superintendent for educational services Art Reinhardt said. "They're used to learning that way. Then they come to school, that's their expectations. We're not going to engage them with the chalk board anymore."
However, the current format for technology literacy in Wisconsin schools makes it difficult to stay current, he said.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Kim Hixson News Release on Rural Broadband

Rep. Hixson is one of the features speakers at tomorrow's WLA/WEMTA Library Legislative Day. Link to The Wheeler Report.

State Rep. Kim Hixson (D-43rd Assembly District) sent a letter to Senator Russ Feingold and Senator Herb Kohl on Friday stressing the need for rural broadband funding in the Federal Economic Stimulus Bill currently being considered in Congress.

“Coming from a rural area, I fear that in this day and age, rural communities will be marginalized if left out of efforts currently being considered by the United States Congress to extend broadband Internet access,” Hixson said. “Many of my constituents of the 43rd Assembly District tend to have a much lower level of access to broadband Internet. This can and must change.”

Successful Move to Temporary Quarters

Link to February Cedar Rapids Gazette article, "Cedar Rapids library makes smooth move".

Stationed in a cinderblock-lined corridor deep in Westdale Mall's entrails, Richardson, 64, and Lottes, 51, were among dozens of volunteers who helped move books, DVDs, and other materials from the Cedar Rapids Public Library's Westdale branch to the new Bridge Library in the former Osco Drug space.

By 4 p.m., the task of moving about 65,000 pieces was virtually complete.

"By the end of the day, I think all the material will be moved, and we'll be doing furnishings (today)," said Tamara Glise, the library's interim director. "We want to reopen as fast as we can."

Glise said it's likely The Bridge, the temporary replacement for the flood-wrecked downtown library, may open later this week, and it's certain to be operating before the Feb. 13 grand opening.

Science Fiction/Fastasy Recommended Reading List 2008

From the webpost: This recommended reading list, published in Locus Magazine's February 2009 issue, is a consensus by Locus editors and reviewers -- Charles N. Brown, Gary K. Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan, Faren Miller, Russell Letson, Graham Sleight, Carolyn Cushman, Tim Pratt, Karen Haber, and Rich Horton -- with inputs from outside reviewers, other professionals, other lists, etc. Essays by many of these contributors, highlighting their particular favorite books and stories, are published in the February issue. Link to lists of science fiction novels, fantasy novels, first novels, young adult books, collections, anthologies (original and reprint), art books, novellas, novelettes, and short stories.

Geared for the avid reader, it appears.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Where's the Bottom? In Braddock, PA

Link to January 31 New York Times article, "Rock Bottom for Decades, but Showing Signs of Life".

Excerpt: The state has classified it a “distressed municipality” — bankrupt, more or less — since the Reagan administration. The tax base is gone. So are most of the residents. The population, about 18,000 after World War II, has declined to less than 3,000. Many of those who remain are unemployed. Real estate prices fell 50 percent in the last year.

“Everyone in the country is asking, ‘Where’s the bottom?’ ” said the mayor, John Fetterman. “I think we’ve found it.”

Braddock firsts:
Andrew Carnegie built his first steel mill here.
The Carnegie Library of Braddock, Pennsylvania was the first Carnegie Library built in the United States (1889).

Newspaper Execs Launch Group to 'Fight Back'

Against a perceived increasing irrelevance.

Link to January 31 Editor & Publisher post.

Excerpt: Newspapers and their online offspring combined are more popular than ever imagined and yet media reports nearly always paint a portrait of an industry gasping for air in the digital age.

This wrongheaded perception stems from the economic recession that’s affected all advertising-based businesses, and from the myth that newspapers no longer attract the public support they once enjoyed.

But the biggest contributing factor to the distorted picture of the industry’s condition just might be us, to paraphrase Pogo, the comic strip character.

Link to the Newspaper Project.

A Library School Media Specialist Worth Her Salt

Meadowview Elementary School, Eau Claire

Link to February 1 Eau Claire Leader Telegram article.

Meadowview School library media specialist Ann Salt keeps her eyes open for contests that benefit students and teachers.

"Schools are scrimping and saving," Salt said. "Whenever we can get free stuff, it's nice."

Her efforts won Meadowview the new edition of the America the Beautiful reference book series for schools and libraries.

These are exceptional - and expensive - books, so to receive a whole set is "quite a gift," Salt said.

Congratulations, Ann!

Security Check: Library Exhibit Space

Particularly if you offer space for people to show off their collectibles.

Link to February 1 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, "Worldwide garage sale. Cash-strapped Americans put their stuff online. Eager collectors, many overseas, snap it up."

Excerpt: Part of the reason for the success of selling goods overseas stems from a fascination among Europeans and Asians with certain vintage American goods. Combine that with a relatively weak dollar and you have a robust market.

"Right now, there's a substantial increase in purchasing power," for residents of Europe and Asia, said Joseph Daniels, a Marquette University international economics professor who is a visiting professor this semester at Wake Forest University.

More adults head back to school

Link to February 1 Marshfield News Herald article.

With few job openings and stiff competition, going back to college -- or going for the first time -- can be a chance to learn new skills and increase one's hireability, instead of plugging away in the same market.

Schools in central Wisconsin -- the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the two-year campuses and Mid-State Technical College -- are seeing an increased interest from nontraditional students, many of whom recently lost a job.

There has only been a slight bump so far, but officials are getting more inquiries and are expecting a big jump in the coming months as the job loss really hits home.

Link to "Emporia State University Non-Traditional Student Handbook" (revised 1/2009)