The Big Change

February 21, 2013 at 2:15 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I know that the truth is I haven’t blogged in a long time.  Ebooks used to occupy most of my professional activities.  When it came to eBooks, you name it, I was doing it.  Things have changed, and for what I see, maybe the better.  I am still an eLibrarian.  I still talk about eBooks at conferences.  Yet I am now in a more well-rounded place, surrounded by a more dynamic and technologically savvy-enviroment.

What does the first paragraph mean?  I am currently in a new field.  I have moved from being in Circulation, to running the behind the scenes in Automation, to now

...change...

…change… (Photo credit: ĐāżŦ {mostly absent})

fronting a brand new department, the Technology Learning Center (TLC).  It is an instructional lab for both patrons and staff alike, where new technologies are the forefront of our focus.  I am loving what I do.

With that said, I thought I would change the focus of my blog.  In the past, I discussed the parameters of eBooks and electronic borrowing policies, as well as it’s impact on public librarians and the communities they serve.  I have to now change that focus to highlight the new purpose I am trying to fulfill.  Do not misunderstand me.  EBooks are still a huge part of what I assist with on a daily basis; however, currently I am trying to revamp a computer lab that mainly taught basic computer classes, such as email 101.  We have added a lot since i took over in July, including classes on Google programs, apps, devices, and genre-specific classes within the guidelines of technology.

With all that said, I am also in an area that is completely new, and in many more ways, foreign to me.  We are planning to physically expand our small room to a functioning multi-room space.  We are looking towards building a sound recording studio, Makers Lab with 3D printers, digitizing equipement, and creative software, a modulare teaching space, Mac classes (totally new), as well as many other unforeseen and seen ideas.

This is now an exciting time.  My library has decided to not only embrace technology, but be the forefront of its possibilities for our community.  We are reaching out as a forerunner, as opposed to trying to play catchup.  Within the few months of our restructure (just classes) we are a bit overwhelmed, yet tackling the issues.

So I am now planning to blog on my adventure of planning a technology learning center from the ground up.  This will include areas I do not have training in, such as architecture and infrastructure.  It’s a new, and often frightening place, but I am going for gold.  I am planning to have a place that is inviting, instructional, innovative, while not be intimidating.

If you would like to read about this journey, please feel free to comment with ideas, criticisms, and support.  I would love the feedback. I will listen to all along my journey.

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The Selfishness of Kindle

September 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm (eBooks, ereaders, Kindle, Libraries, OverDrive, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I need to discuss the fact that the Kindle is the most selfish eReader on the market!  In a recent blog on The Digital Reader by Nate Hoffelder titled, Amazon Won’t be Adopting Epub, it was announced that the Kindle will not work with the popular and universal ebook standard format, the ePub.  Instead, and yet once again, Amazon has decided to create its own format, the Kindle print replica, or KPF.  According the blog post,

” KPR is a fixed layout ebook format like PDF and it even uses a similar tool bar”.

With the creation of a new format, I was always under the impression that new technology is supposed to propel us forward.  The ePub is a fantastic format because of its reflowable-text.  The KPR is basically a PDF. It’s a stagnant file; a mere picture of a page.  So instead of offering the masses a format that adjusts to any screen on any device, Amazon has decided to offer something archaic with scrollbars?   The thought process behind this new format really just does not make sense to me at all.

This really blows my mind.  Back in  April when I spoke directly with OverDrive I was left with the impression that Amazon’s Kindle will be working with the formats we, as public libraries, have already purchased.  I do not blame OverDrive in the marketing ploys of Amazon; they are merely a service that is trying to deal with the plethora of publishers and devices and trying to find commonality in delivering e-content across the board. OverDrive is a company that is trying to give libraries access to e-content as best as possible in a time when so many companies and publishers are in an e-content battle.  (I also believe it will be quite a while before the war on e-conent finalizes into anything that remotely illustrates a resolution).

With that said, while we, librarians and patrons alike, are struggling to to keep on top of this ongoing battle, Amazon suddenly insists on bringing for yet another format to the market when the ePub is the industry standard according to the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF).  This just makes me so frustrated.  It leaves librarians with the likelihood that when the Kindle finally begins to work with OverDrive,  we will now be forced to once again compromise our budgets because will have to purchase another format that duplicates what we already offer in our collections for one particular device. (Kindle should look at the demise of the Mobipocket).  There is also a possibility that patrons will be also enraged that they will have to download a separate set of software in order to sideload ebooks to their Kindle from either a desktop or laptop, with regards to obtaining free ebooks through OverDrive.  The frustration just continues to grow . . .

The redeeming quality that the Kindle currently maintains is the fact that their rumored tablet seems to be ready for release very soon.  It will run on Androind-based technology, (bonus), with full color and a touchscreen.  As of right now, it’s simply being called the Amazon Kindle, which, well, is not the most sexiest marketing term, but at least allows its audience to know that Amazon is still the propeller of the Kindle.  With its cost and size, it looks like the Kindle tablet will be going after its biggest competition as of yet, the Barnes and Noble Nook Color.  The ereader war continues.  To read more about what Amazon is planning check out, “Amazon’s Kindle Tablet is Very Real. I’ve Seen It, Played With It,” by MG Siegler on TechCrunch.

In the end, I hope that the birth of the KPF ultimately teaches Amazon a lesson that they cannot dominate the market with a single format, let alone with their Kindle, especially when so many other devices, such as Sony eReaders, B&N’s Nooks, Apple’s iPads or iPhones, Smartphones, Kobos, and just about any other device, including personal computers utilize, implement, and share the universal ePub.  I know only time will tell, but I am truly keeping my fingers cross that this will raise a riot with libraries, librarians, and OverDrive, and bring forth the  realization that the Kindle does not support libraries or the needs of its patrons.

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Teaching My First eReader Class

March 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm (eBooks, Libraries, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

So, here it is.  It has been almost a week since I taught my first class on eReaders and how did it go?  I think it was a success.  I had 31 eager patrons show up.  Some were there with their devices in hand, ready to learn to how to sideload from their laptop to their eReader.  Others where there simply to learn and see what the devices look like.  In the surveys I got back, there was a lot of positive feedback, so I thought I would share what I learned in case you may consider teaching an eReader class at your library, which I personally think you should.

1.  Learn about the ins-and-outs of the service first.  I know this is an obvious route, but there are so many various scenarios that could, and probably will occur, that you really need to know what your eBooks can and cannot do. We use Overdrive and there are many ways you can, or should not, search for an eBook.  Advanced search is one of my favorite tips.  You can limit your search results to format, in my case ePub, and  only show available titles.  This is a great time-saving feature.  It it so much nicer than scrolling through titles that are all checked out.  I would also like to mention that you can also customize the “My Digital Account” tab.  Once you are logged in to your account you can default your borrowing periods for eBooks and audiobooks.  It’s just another time-saver.

2.  Learn eReading devices.  I know that this may not always be the most feasible option.  In a period where so many libraries are faced with significant budget cuts and staff layoffs, it is impossible for every library to purchase various types of eReaders.  Yet, there is always a chance to learn.  I know friends and family members who have eReading devices and I have borrowed them in order to familiarize myself with how Overdrive will work with them.  I have learned a lot from patrons who have brought their devices to my desk.  There are also many blogs out there.  I have found them to be invaluable resources, especially when it comes to trouble-shooting a specific device.  Maybe you cannot get your hands on one, but there are plenty of blogs out there to help you understand how eReaders work.

3.  Realize that all eReaders are not made the same.  In fact, in my experience with Apples and Andorid products, Sony eReaders, and the Nook or Nook Color is that each device works differently.  I stress that they are very unlike one another. There are enough differences between each product that it can be problematic in trying to setup Overdrive with a specific device and the proper format.

4.  Remember that your audience may not have any idea what you are talking about.  For instance, the differences between a pdf, ePub, and Mobipocket formats.  I have also encountered patrons who are very uncomfortable in downloading Overdrive’s software.  You really have to walk them through it.  I sometimes feel like I am talking to someone who faced with their most deathly fear.  I just let them know, ” It is going to be okay.  Things will work out. Breathe.  I will get you an eBook on your device. We can do this.”

So the lessons I guess I m trying to convey go beyond knowing your service and how various eReaders or mobile devices work.  It is also about remembering your audience is probably listening to you because they are very inexperienced in how to navigate themselves in the eBook world. Give out handouts with lots of screenshots.  Here is the link to what I usually distribute to our patrons. Be prepared to answer questions on, “What is the difference between a pdf and an ePub?” (Answer:  re-flowable text).  Have a lot of patience.  Be ready to answer the same questions over and over again.  Stay up-to-date with the latest eReader trends.  Remember that your audience, or patron, may be inexperienced, and yes also scared, of downloading software and eBooks.  He or she may freak out on you at various times, but remember to consider yourself the friendly host to the ever-changing world of technology and that you are there to help patrons find their way to the eBooks they would like to read.

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Where Do Publishers Expect Us to Find the Funds?

February 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm (HCOD, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I just received a letter from Overdrive explaining all the efforts they have made to offer us, public libraries, a better service. This is a true statement.  They developed an app for Apple and Android users.  They added over 180,000 new titles.  They are also planning many upgrades and enhancements in the coming year.  However, in the same letter it was also mentioned that there are going to be some major changes to their borrowing platform based on the concerns and limitations being set by publishers.  Basically, within the one user-one, one-title platform, there will be a cap on the amount of times an eBook can circulate before libraries are forced to buy another copy.  This begs the question:  How many times will an eBook be borrowed before a library is forced to purchase another copy?  10 times?  50 times?  100 times?  I understand part of the logistics behind the cap.  EBooks never have to be replaced.  Patrons will never lose them or forget to bring them back. They require no maintenance like a regular, tangible books would eventually require.  Currently, once an eBook is purchased it will always be part of the library’s catalog.

The whole issue has my wheels turning and I am really fired up about this.  On the blog, Read, Write, Web: This Library E-Book Will Self-Destruct After 26 Checkouts, the recent post states the HarperCollins is planning the cap being a 26 rotation!!! What!! We have books that go out for far longer, sometimes 80 times, before they need maintenance or a replacement copy. This is an unfair and unjust model! In fact, it proposes that it is more reasonable for a public library to purchase a hardcover book, because libraries would get more circulation out of their purchases without the caps on how many times they are allowed to let a book go out.

In a time where most libraries are faced with both layoffs and budget cuts, how do publishers feel this is a sustainable purchasing model?  They want us to buy the content, but restrict access to it. Basically, publishers do not want to support public libraries circulating their e-content.  They may say that they do, but as in so may other instances in life, actions speak louder than words.  Do not misunderstand me.  I do not blame Overdrive at all.  In fact, they are more of the go-between that is forced to deliver libraries the bad news.  This is strictly an issue with publishing houses and how they want us to repeatedly repurchase the same title over and over. So I am left asking: Where do publishers expect us to find the funds to fuel and ridiculous and unsustainable purchasing model?  If you know the answer, please clue me in.

Melissa Brisbin

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