Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Look at Library of Congress' Digitizing Process

While searching for videos for a class assignment, I came across this one about the Library of Congress' digital collection. It offers a behind-the-curtain look at the painstaking effort to digitally preserve and make available all manner of print materials. I'm sure that since this video was made two years ago, the Library of Congress has adopted even more advanced technology to aid in the digitizing process. But that doesn't make this video any less fascinating!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NYPL Sees Explosion in E-Book Lending

The New York Public Library has seen an 81 percent increase in e-book lending within the past year, reported the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

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I'm sure the NYPL's recent move to make e-books deliverable to Kindles will boost this statistic.

Los Angeles Times * October 26, 2011

N.Y. Public Library's E-book Lending Increased 81% in One Year

The New York Public Library has 6 million print books to lend and just 75,000 e-books -- but demand for those e-books is growing tremendously. Over the last 12 months, the N.Y. Public Library's e-book lending has increased by 81%, CNN reports. They spoke to Christopher Platt, The New York Public Library's director of collections and circulation operations.

It may not be surprising, then, that while more people are borrowing eBooks from libraries, more people are also going to libraries. "Our usage is going up as well," said Platt as he pointed out that New York libraries loaned more than 28 million items in 2010. "That's a lot of people coming through our doors."

But the number of digital patrons is growing at a much faster pace. "We have, I think, over 150,000 Twitter followers on our flagship Twitter account and over 40,000 Facebook friends," Platt said.

He hopes that more publishing companies will see the benefit in making eBooks available to public libraries with mutually beneficial arrangements.

Speaking on a panel at the Digital Book World conference in January, Platt said that ease of use is crucial to most library users. "The goal," he said, is for "the consumer not to have too much road rash trying to get at the book."

He also said that the library's e-book usage had a steep rise in the weeks after Christmas. If that was because of people receiving new e-readers as gifts, there may be more adopters to come.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Technology Skills Needed by Today's Librarian

I asked my friend Ruby, "What technology skills do librarians need to know to do well in their careers?"

It's important for librarians to keep up with the latest technology!

Ruby is an archivist at a post-production company. Before she was an archivist, Ruby worked as a children's librarian assistant. She said that, in order to be tech-savvy, today's librarians need to be familiar with the following:

  • XML
  • Excel
  • Photoshop
  • Dynex “and other newer cataloging programs”
  • Setting up audio equipment
  • Creating and maintaining a website
  • Creating a catalog

This sounds like sage advice to me! In librarianship, as with other career fields, it's important for workers to keep abreast of changes in the field, especially those pertaining to technology. And since technology is ever changing, librarians are ever evolving in order to better serve patrons.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 Now Selling More Than Just Books

Barnes & Noble is going beyond selling books on its website, On Thursday, October 20, a representative for the largest U.S. bookstore chain announced that housewares, consumer electronics, and more will now be sold on the company's website.

screenshot from

I can't blame Barnes & Noble for diversifying its online offerings, considering the recent demise of Borders. Also, by offering more than just books, movies, and music, Barnes & Noble will remain competitive with Amazon, another online seller of books and seemingly everything else under the sun.

See the Chicago Tribune article below for more info on this latest development.

Chicago Tribue * October 20, 2011

Barnes & Noble Expands Beyond Books
Online retailer adding home products and consumer electronics

via Reuters

Barnes & Noble Inc. is adding home products and consumer electronics to the items available on its online marketplace, the latest move by the retailer to rely less on book sales and fend off e-commerce rivals like Inc and eBay Inc.

Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, has largely focused on books for its marketplace. Members will now also be able to buy and sell items like rugs, cooking items and children's games, the company said Thursday.

The retailer has struggled with declining book sales for years, but its online sales, helped by its Nook e-reader and digital books, have soared.

Sales on its rose 36.9 percent to $198 million in its most recent quarter and now account for 14 percent of overall sales.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OWS Library Catalog Is Online

The Occupy Wall Street Library
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The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests are still going strong in lower Manhattan, where a group of activists have established a good collection of books amid the commotion. Called the Occupy Wall Street Library, the collection has more than 500 titles so far.

Books range from the political (Keith Olbermann's Pitchforks and Torches; John Burnheim's Is Democracy Possible?) to classic works of fiction (Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility; Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist). The collection is growing all the time, thanks to donations, which can be sent here:

Occupy Wall Street Library
c/o UPS Store
118A Fulton Street, #205
New York, NY 10038

Since the books and other library materials are on display outdoors, donations of waterproof containers and tarps are also welcome.

If you're curious as to what else makes up the OWS Library but can't make it down to Wall Street, you're in luck! The organizers of the library have set up an online catalog of the collection. The Occupy Wall Street Library's catalog can be viewed HERE.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"What Is FAQ?": The Lowdown on Downloading at the New York Public Library

Toni Morrison. Mary-Louise Parker. Ryan Adams. These are the names that have drawn me to the Humanities and Social Sciences branch of the New York Public Library in recent years. However, when I returned to the library this time, it was not to hear a Tony Award–winning actress recite lines of her favorite poetry. This time, for the first time, I went there to take a free class: “Downloading with Confidence.”

NYPL's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, aka "the one with the lions."
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On a bright afternoon, I climbed the steps of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Forty-Second Street and Fifth Avenue. I entered the cool marble quiet of the library. Within minutes, I was standing before the large, illuminated glass cube that encased the South Court Classrooms. Eying the cube, I was reminded of the nearby Apple Store, the exterior of which has a similar design. I wondered if this similarity in design was intentional.

At 3:02, thirteen minutes before the session was scheduled to start, a young woman arrived with the keys to the classroom. Looking at me and the three other, much older adults who were standing in front of the cube, she smiled brightly and said, “You can come on in!”

Inside the well-lit classroom were four long rows of smooth, honey-colored wooden tables. On each table were four computers that looked somewhat new. I sat in the first row. As I took out my pen and notebook, more attendees silently entered the room and stationed themselves at computers. By the time class started at 3:15, there were thirteen students: eight women and five men. Ten students appeared to be older than fifty. I sensed that most were retirees, eager not to be left behind in the Digital Revolution.

The young woman who had unlocked the door to the classroom said “Hello” in a loud, clear voice. “My name is Brooke.” Brooke is a reference librarian in the general reference division of the New York Public Library. She was a slender woman who appeared to be in her early thirties, had straight blond hair that brushed the top of her shoulders, and was dressed casually yet professionally in a conservative grey sweater and olive-drab slacks. She adjusted her glasses and announced, “Welcome to ‘Downloading with Confidence.’”

For the next hour and fifteen minutes, Brooke gave a PowerPoint presentation on downloading digital content—e-books and audiobooks in particular. The seniors in the class were not timid about asking questions. Typical questions were “What is FAQ?” and “What’s a screen grab?” One of the better questions was “What is the difference between downloading and burning?” Brooke answered each patiently and knowledgeably. At the close of the presentation, she led a hands-on demo of the concepts she had just explained. A few students needed assistance in navigating websites, such as ones for Project Gutenberg, Adobe Digital Editions, and Google Books. However, most were quite comfortable at the computer and were fairly quick studies.

I consider myself to be comparatively tech-savvy. But sitting in the library’s classroom that afternoon, I realized there was a lot that I didn’t know about downloading. Being quite loyal to the “traditional” book, I had never even read an e-book, let alone downloaded one. So it was fascinating to learn about the various file types for e-books; for instance, I didn’t know beforehand that has its own, exclusive file type for its e-books (ending in “.amz”), while for most of the other electronic titles out there, there is one general file type (ending in “.epub”). It was also educational being told the pros and cons of downloading e-books to certain devices.

Naturally, Brooke showed us how to download e-books from the New York Public Library. The process seemed to be pretty straightforward; all that’s required is a library card number and a PIN, the latter of which can be obtained by contacting the library. In addition to e-books, audiobooks, music, and videos can also be downloaded from the New York Public Library’s website, Brooke excitedly pointed out. To demonstrate, she effortlessly accessed a 1930s’ Al Jolson movie, the sight of which inspired one of the elderly women in the class to start singing, “Mammy!” I chuckled.

The old and the new truly converged in the New York Public Library's classroom that afternoon: traditional ways of enjoying reading with the exploration of e-books; senior citizens becoming attuned to digital technology. Being part of this coming together helped make the “Downloading with Confidence” class a genuinely pleasant and enriching experience.