Reading 2.0

I just discovered this video in Wired Gadget Lab Epicenter blog . The creators called it text 2.0, but in reality I believe it is reading 2.0 we are looking at. Take a look and make up your own mind. I can think of so many applications of this. People with reading difficulties will be able to enjoy reading with the text itself helping out.

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Posted in E-books

Top technology trends – again!

I´m at the national norwegian library conference and tomorrow I´m supposed to sit on a panel to discuss top technology trends for libraries. I thought I would air my thoughts here, and maybe get some feedback from readers.

At first my main trend would be ebooks, this is one of the most controversial and hot topics for libraries this year, but then I realized something. This is no longer a technology trend, the issues are economic and legal, copyright and compensation for authors and publishers are the hot issues, not the technology. Actually I think that ebooks is a fairly mature technology. Yes we still have not resolved the reading platform issue to our satisfaction, but with Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader, ebook software like Calibre and standards like epub in place there is no longer burning technology issues revolving around ebooks. There will be many battles, like with google books, and development of yet better ways of delivery and services, but this is now a question of evolution, not revolution. Libraries need to get into the ebook game here in Norway and especially come up with our own solutions and priorities to questions like delivery and DRM. If not, we are at the mercy of publishers and author organizations who have a different set of solutions and priorites.

So what is the revolution issues in library technology in 2010?

Anywhere – this sums up most techonlogy trends I can think of. With the development of small tablet computers, internet everywhere and cloud computing you have access to information anywhere you go.

Platform independent – this is probably one of the most important developments to look for. As new platforms develop it is important for libraries to develop services and formats that can be accessed on any platform, PS3, iPad, Nintendo DSi XL, mobile phones of all sizes and types, even the good old PC. These are all valid platforms for information and services the library can offer.

In the cloud – goes back to anywhere, but  the cloud also poses some challenges for libraries when it comes to access and preservation. The cloud, i.e. computing and storage away from your local computer, is probably here to stay, but since it is totally in the hands of commercial firms, like Google, Amazon and a plethora of small firms offering cheap or free storage and computing power it is a volatile market that could see collapses and loss of mountains of data. If Google should belly up in the near future I will loose most of my email from the last ten years, most of my documents stored on google docs and so on. This is unlikely in the short term, but there are few companies that have lasted as long as libraries. This is something we need to keep in mind when we use cloud services and storage.

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Posted in Conferences, Library 2.0

iPad and libraries – some thoughts

OK, congratulations to all fellow Apple fanboys and girls :-) The iPad looks good and I would love to get my hands on one. In fact on thursday I  got word from the ICT-department at work that they pre-ordered one for me. (I might have mentioned the upcoming device once or twice in the previous months and had a fairly long discussion with the head of ICT services that morning) Have I told you how great these guys are?

Even if I look forward to getting my hands on the iPad, or “padda” (toad) as it is rapidly becoming known in Norway and Sweden, one of my first reactions to Steve Jobs presentation of the iPad was  that this is Apple´s gift to Google. It will take very little effort to top this. Just add a camera and flash support to a touch screen with the Android operating system and you have a iPad killer. On the purely technical/OS side of the device that is. What probably will sell the iPad is the ease of use for non-techies.  A lot of blogposts and twitter comments have called this the first true “everybody computer.”  They might have a point. My iPod touch is equally popular with my three-year-old, my ten-year-old and myself,  who all use it in many different ways. A larger device appeals to all of us.

But like so many people I am more fascinated with the services embedded in the iPad than the hardware. iBooks and the iTunes-like book buying opportunities are what makes the iPad a  must have for me, more that the weight, screen, OS or other apps.

It will certainly be interesting to see what new iPad apps that will come in the coming months. One thing I am sure of is that we will all be surprised by the diversity of apps and the uses to which the iPad will be put to. And another thing to watch out for is the plethora of iPad-like devices that will hit us like a tsunami in the coming year. There will proably be two main schools competing with Apple, the Android school where the Google Android operating system for smartphones will be ported to a tablet, and the Windows 7 school, where Microsoft will try to match the ease of use of the iPad with tons of features and a “whole operating system”  to rival the limited OS on the iPad. My guess is that the Android school has a better chance, but that none of the competing schools have a chance against Apple when it comes to opening up the market of those who previously have not used computers very much, and people who simply want a few features to “just work”

For libraries the iPad will have little immediate impact. What it probably will do, if it is a hit in the marketplace, is that it will fuel reader demand for e-books. I predict that it will be a slow development, but maybe too fast for many librarians. When the demand for e-books is for Nora Roberts latest romance novel, rather than some science fiction blockbuster or main stream popular science non-fiction, and the person wanting the e-book is the harassed mother with three kids running around her at the library desk, then e-books will have arrived in the library. This could happen if the iPad really hits it off with the public.

For libraries there are two main challenges:

1. How do we get content from the library to the iPad and similar devices, and can libraries use iBook or the AppStore as a delivery method? I think there will be several opportunities, and that binding libraries to a cooperation with Apple to get in through the iBook store probably will be difficult and even counterproductive. There are at least two avenues to go, either create an international LibraryBook app (open source of course), that will work on any operating system, or cooperate with the creators of any of the open source apps that are out there to deliver books through them. Both avenues has their pros- and cons, but I believe that to secure a future for the library brand it would be a good idea to develop a special library app.

2. Will the iPad and iPad like devices  change the media habits of readers? Very likely. The iPod and iPhone has both changed a lot of behaviour and expectations from library users, and how other devices are viewed and used. I expect to see increasing demand for content on tablets from readers and probably pressure on the library to deliver certain types of content, i.e. ebooks.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on an iPad and try it out in my library.

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Posted in E-books, Librarian 2.0, Library 2.0, Web 2.0

Librarians are fish?

An article on information literacy in the norwegian science library blog ERR-BE made me think about how library workers and users percieve the information rich environment in a library or a library web-site with links to databases and services. The image of fish and divers came to me this morning.

How does fish percieve the sea? They probably do not think much about water and the sea as such, they are a part of it and lives in it with insight and understanding of the rules and forces governing their environment, much like librarians percieve information and the library.

Divers on the other hand are strangers in the sea. They need help to negotiate it, breathing apparatus (or just holding their breath for shorter stays), mask, protection etc. They are out of their normal environment, clumsy and bevildered by all the new impressions that are assaulting their senses. After a while, or with frequent dives, many divers become proficient in the sea and might even master it to such a degree that they are not far from the fish experience.

Just like library users. To a new library user the library is a bevildering environment, they have difficulty navigating the physical library to find what they desire, they admire the librarians  for their seemingly effortless use and mastery of this very complex environment.  After a while many library users will become proficient in how to use the library to satisfy their needs, but without a full understanding of the underlying forces and rules that govern the library.

So to better the experience of users, we need to think more like divers and less like fish:-)

Posted in Library 2.0

Takk for et par interessanne dager!

Veldig gledelig å se at noen i bibliotek-sektoren engasjere seg i dette, selv om det burde vært MANGE flere!! Jeg håper virkelig at dere kan bidra til å spre informasjon til borgerne om fri programvare, og jeg menbr atvi bør fokusere på ett produkt: Ubuntu. Jeg fikk selv en utfordring om å oversette den der plakaten jeg viste. Den utfordringen tok jeg! Så da håper jeg at dere tar utfordringen jeg ga dere:)

Takk for laget, håper vi sees igjen!

Beste hilsner Bjørn Venn

(mon tro hvor dette innlegget havna….:-)

Posted in Library 2.0

Librarians toolbox

When I started to think about the librarians toolbox I first thought about all the cool tools I have at my disposal on my computers, WordPress,  Twitter, Facebook, Googlesuite etc., then I started to think back, to before these tools existed and how I managed then, with embryonic mail clients, Hotmail, coding websites in HTML, IRC or ICQ and Usenet. Then I thought even further back, to snailmail, telex printers, printed indexes and just meeting people face to face. And then it hit me, I had the really important tools with me the whole time. The fundamentals that made me capable of using and evaluating services no matter how advanced they are. I started out with two tools, and then added a third just lately (but I have been living by it way before I heard about it:-))

My number one tool is Ranganathans Five Laws of Librarianship.  Yes, I still use the oldfashioned word Librarianship rather than Library science.

  1. Books are for use
  2. Every reader his [or her] book
  3. Every book its reader
  4. Save the time of the User
  5. The library is a growing organism

With these simple and fundamental laws in the back of my mind I usually find it easy to evaluate a possible service or new gizmo pretty quickly.

The second tool is Adams first law.  Don´t Panic! (preferrably in large friendly letters) Most of the time panic is a total waste of time. I have tried to live by this in that I try to handle things that come up on the assumption that most things are fixable and most people are approachable. This is not to say I don´t have my moments of panic, but I try to not let that slow me down or stop me from doing something I believe is right or good.

The third tool is the “Cult of Done Manifesto“.  By not obsessing with trying to get things perfect I get more things done and tried. With that experience I can move on and use what I have learned to make things better or different. It made me able to pursue the idea of the first Digital and Social conference back in 2004, which I still think is the best, coolest and most fun conference I have ever attended. Mostly because it connected so many wonderful people that have later emerged as leaders and inspiration to all who work with libraries in the interface between the digital  and the social dimension.

So, these are my tools, which will probably stay with me for the rest of my working life. What are your favorite tools?

Posted in Library 2.0

Where goes Koha?

Yesterday I participated in my first IRC session in 14 years.  The occation was a meeting with Koha users and developers on the formation of a Koha foundation. The background is that the US company LibLime has decided to fork Koha, and establish an “Enterprise” edition.  The reasons behind are hard to understand, and for me who just joined the Koha community it seems like a huge departure from the idea of open source, and actually a departure from the idea of sharing that libraries stand for as well.

Since I first discovered Koha a few years ago I have followed the development through information from LibLime and thought they did a wonderful job of promoting open source and still survive as a company by selling services instead of products.  I have held this model up as a possible avenue of survival for norwegian ILS vendors and generally shouted out LibLime praise.

Since the news of the LibLime fork I have tried to understand the implications and how it will affect my library and installation. Fortunately Libriotech who implements our Koha installation and is our main service provider has clearly stated that they stand by the open source version of Koha and that they will not depart from the development and contribution model that has brought Koha to the point where it is today.

LibLime has brought upon its head a lot of dissapointment from developers around the world, and quite a few librarians react to this news as well. I am thus joining the choir of disaproval:-)

But yesterday I participated in a discussion that made me worry about the future of Koha. The purpose of the discussion was to establish some sort of organization that could take ownership of the Koha development and brand and hopefully avoid the situation we have today where LibLime owns the domain name koha.org and in the US have registered a Koha Foundation.

So the community is at a loss. What do we do now? Try to make a foundation that can take care of all the stuff that comes with an organization (for that is in reality what the development and use of Koha is turning into) or just try keep things going the way they have so far?

I know one thing, IRC is not a god format for discussions like this. I know that most of the participants where used to IRC from discussions and meetings on the development of Koha, but for a newbie like me, or any other “normal” librarian, it was a bevildering stream of text flashing by at a speed it was hard to keep up with. I tried to contribute but felt that what I wrote was injected into a totally different discussion than the one I responded to and it was hard to answer questions when things moved so fast.

I also noticed a distinct disinclination to try to organize things or try to build some sort of traditional structure. I mentioned that I thought we should approach IFLA and see if the only truely international library organization could possibly help in this case, but the response was that IFLA is to slow and to bureaucratic. I have thought about this and realize that the culture of open source and the culture of IFLA are probably so different that it would be a bad fit for both. So scratch that idea for now. Maybe later if IFLA re-invents itself as an  organization oriented towards individual members and with a more tie-less structure.

Having initiated and led the Norwegian Library Association special interest group for ICT in libraries (SIKT) I have experience enough to know that starting a foundation or association for Koha is going to take a lot of work, and a more hierarchical structure than we have today. I also think that the users, i.e. the libraries, should be in the driving seat, not the developers and open source enthusiasts. Librarians are pretty good at organizing things, and Koha exists for the libraries and their users. It would probably be a good idea if some librarians in one geographical area, that actually can meet and discuss f2f, develop a proposal of alternatives (not more than two or three) for how a Koha foundation/association could be set up, and then present this to the Koha community for discussion. Then we must have a meeting, an IRL meeting, that establishes the entity in a way that is recognizable to librarians around the world as a point they can approach for information and help in all questions relating to Koha. Yesterday I felt that the discussion was too fragmented, the options not clear and the realities of our situation too complex to do justice on IRC.

Marshall Breeding have put forth a suggestion on how to organize Koha as foundation and even if I find his thougths interesting I cannot see that his proposal would work as an international entity the way I see  neccesary for the needs for my library. Maybe we need to develop regional structures that all contribute to an international structure? An European Koha association, an US, an Asian etc.? There seems to be so many questions that it will take a while to sort them out. And sorting out messes is what librarians do so well. So, why not let the professionals do that, and let developers and companies contribute and play an auxillary role? I totally agree with Marshall Breeding in that we need to have libraries as the driving force behind the development here, for the simple reason that libraries survive and stay where individual companies and developers come and go.

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Posted in IFLA, ILS, Koha, Library Associations 2.0, worries
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