Internship and School Update

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, but don’t think my lack of updates speaks to laziness, more a testament to my busyness. This is the last week of classes in school for the Fall 2011 semester and I’m a little sad and also a little excited. As this semester ends, I am looking towards my last semester in library school in the spring and then the scary terribleness of potential unemployment. Don’t worry, I’m already actively searching and applying for jobs. I just worry about what happens if I graduate without one ready. As the semester ends, I’m also working hard on the last few assignments due. One paper on policy recommendations regarding lending ebooks in libraries is really interesting to research. But alas, as with all papers, less fun to write.

I’m also finishing up a group project in my social media class with suggestions for CNYCentral to revamp their social media and internet presence. Our group was focused on integrating social media networks into the CNYCentral webpage and the introduction of blogging to the contributors. That one is due on Thursday, but I’m not worried, we rocked that project.

Next semester I’m still playing with my course schedule but I’ve pretty much decided on what classes I’ll be taking. You can find the list here. Tech, social media, teaching, and collection development. Oh yeah!

For my internship, all of the books and CDs for the early literacy kits have been ordered. Collection development for the reference and nonfiction collections is completely interesting. As of today I’ve completed 61.5 hours for my youth services internship and 50 hours for reference. I still have a few (38.5) hours to go to meet my 150 hours, but I’m almost there. I’ve really been enjoying everything I’ve done so far and I’m looking forward to finishing up the early literacy project even after my internship hours have been completed.

(reference internship hours completed: 50 of 75)
(YS internship hours completed: 61.5 of 75)

Kindle and Overdrive

Indulge me for a moment while I geek out. When I was living in Japan, I bought myself a Kindle because of the high cost and extremely sparse selection of books in English. But when I came back to the US to be a graduate student, I didn’t have the extra cash to be buying books to read on my Kindle, so I borrowed books from the library instead. Today, I checked out an ebook from my library to read on my Kindle. It’s an excellent merge of two reading experiences: my Kindle and my library book. The Kindle is smaller and lighter than the print book would be and also holds all of the PDFs and both of the textbooks I am using for classes. Talk about lightening the load!

Internship Day 6

Hello again. This evening I shadowed Leah, the Fayetteville Free Library’s web services librarian and curator of the music and periodicals collections, on the reference desk. I asked about her collections and she told me about some new ideas for displaying the music collection. Right now the cds are kept in clear plastic sleeves like this that tear easily and she is interested in some new flexible plastic jewel cases that, unlike jewel cases, don’t break the first time you open them. As the librarian in charge of the music collection, she is also in charge of the library’s online music database Freegal. She also talked about a new service called Rdio. For a flat monthly fee, users have access to the Rdio music library where they can stream and download as much music as they want. As a library, the funding gets a little tricky. Because Rdio is available to anybody and not just libraries, the libraries actually end up paying for the subscriptions. Say 50 patrons decide to try Rdio, then the library has to pay for fifty subscriptions every month. That’s a lot.

We also talked about the periodicals collection. On the circulating iPad and iPod Touchs at the library, we have an app called Zinio installed. It’s kinda like the iBooks or Kindle apps in that its a mobile reading app, but Zinio specializes in periodicals. Leah told me they’re going to be coming out with a new service soon which is accessible through a web browser. We’re not sure if that means it’s still aimed at tablet computers or if this is something that will work on laptop and desktop computers as well.

And then, because we were talking about cool digital stuff, we also talked about some ebook sharing websites. I learned about Open Library. The goal of Open Library is to have a digital copy of every book ever published. They have over 20 million records so far and more keep coming in. It kinda reminds me of Project Gutenberg. But there are two major differences, Open Library has new books and instead of downloading books you borrow them. In fact, they have an inter-library lending service. To become a member library, you just have to contribute one book to the catalog (that was published pre 2000). Then, any patrons with a valid library card in your area have access to the entire Open Library lending library.

You may be wondering how they’re able to take books that are not in the public domain, make them available in ebook format, and freely lend them to the general public without being called out for copyright violations. Open Library uses the First Sale Doctrine, which basically states that once you purchase a book you are free to do whatever you’d like with it (aside from make an entire copy and sell it) as a defense. They are also trying to work directly with publishers to get the rights for the ebooks they hold, but because ebooks are still so new, the publishers don’t really know what to do. Personally I think the First Sale doctrine should apply equally to ebooks as well as print books. If a library purchases an ebook and lends it out using the same policies that are in place for print books, I don’t see what the problem is. Anyways, I think Open Library is very cool. Leah also said it’s useful as a reference tool when you’re trying to help a patron find an out of print book.

Other than learning about the cool music, periodical, and ebook stuff, Leah explained a little about how she makes the library website. Out library uses Joomla. It’s a free content management system that lets you build websites piece by piece. The way Leah explained it, each page is made of modules. There’s a header module, a footer module, there are menu modules, and basically any kind of content you want to include on your website, there’s a module for it. It sounds as easy to use as WordPress, but much more customizable.

I also helped a little kid with a computer problem (sorta) and observed while Leah helped a patron who was looking for a book club book on a specific topic.

Wow, I did all that in two hours?

(reference internship hours completed: 14 of 75)

Books vs. eBooks or should it be Books vs. eBook Readers

It is raining again. Rainy weather is the perfect time to talk or blog about books because when it rains, I want to do nothing more than curl up on the sofa with a good book and a cup of tea. Ever since class last week and Prof. Lankes’ keynote speech at the Polaris Users Group Annual Meeting, everyone in class has been blogging about books and ebooks.

A common theme is that of the physical book being an object of sentimental value. The feel, smell, and personal history of an individual print volume is a (large or small) portion of the worth of that particular book. I do not think that printed pages bound together to form a book will ever lose that value. Many libraries have displays of restored, recovered, or preserved books and print documents from history. The New York Public Library owns a Gutenburg Bible and anyone who says that a digitized copy of a Gutenberg Bible is equivalent to or better than the original mouldy paper version is in serious need of some education. I believe that the print book is a very important part of human history and should be preserved for the future. I do not, however, believe that the printed page is what most people will be reading two generations from now.

When the ebook was first being talked about, I was very much on the NO side of the argument. I am sentimental enough to love the feel, smell, and personal history of a printed book so I was very much against ebooks and ebook readers. Then, I moved to Japan where English language books are double the price and my local library only had children’s books in English. I love reading but I didn’t want to pay so much for books that I would probably end up leaving behind when I moved back to the USA. So, I bought a Kindle (after carefully reviewing the other ebook readers available at the time).

At first, I didn’t like it because it wasn’t a book. However, after two and a half years of reading on the Kindle, I can recognize that this non-book is merely a first generation in the evolution of the book. It happened before when mankind first scratched on clay tablets and then moved on to papyrus and scrolls. Then from scrolls to books hand copied by scholars and monks and on to the printing press. Moving now from the physical object to the digital format is just the next level in the development of mankind’s relationship with information.

You are reading this blog. This blog does not have a print copy and never will unless you decide you want to print it on paper so you can touch and smell it and pass on memories of it along with the physical object. That my blog is not in print format may and in fact does greatly limit the number of people with access to it right now if you are aware of the digital divide debate. But in the future, it may be that this format will be so outdated, you’ll need somebody in a clean room wearing gloves and carefully handling 21st century computer hardware just so you can view it (like historians do now when handling delicate paper records).

I feel like I’m pulling a Lankes and trying to make a big motivational point at the end, but really I just want to say that wether you like it or not, the print book will become obsolete and possibly within our lifetimes. In class this evening Prof. Lankes broke us up in groups to come up with pro and con arguments for five different issues and then work together to come up with a third option. Some of us are pro-ebook and some are not. As librarians, we are all pro-information so let’s come up with the third option.