If it is Thursday it must mean it is time for another in this series of Thursday Threads posts. This week there are an abundance of things that could fall into the category of “disruptive innovation” in libraries and higher education. If you find these interesting, you might want to subscribe to my FriendFeed stream where these topics and more are posted and discussed throughout the week.
Did you know that Amazon offers a facility to make corrections to its catalog? Somewhere in the past few months someone mentioned this to me and I tried it out. (
Unfortunately, it has been long enough now that I’ve forgotten who told me; if you are the one, please fess up in this post’s comments section. ) And it works! Is this a model for crowdsourced corrections to library data?
Ah, it is the beginning of September when thoughts turn to going back to school, the days turn a little colder (in the northern hemisphere) and the smell of lawsuit briefs is in the air. Well, okay — the latter might not be what you expect, but this is a special September, after all. Postponed from May, the deadline for filing comments in the Google Book Search settlement is coming up. And everyone is weighing in (“again” for some) on the details of the settlement. A couple of highlights.
At ALA Midwinter, ALCTS sponsored a panel discussion about sharing library-created data inside and outside the library community, with a particular focus on cataloging data. I was honored to be ask to speak on the topic from the perspective of a consortial office. This is the first in a series of posts that represents an approximation of what I said on the panel. (Also be sure to read the summary of the session by Norman Oder in Library Journal.)
Last month OCLC announced a new service offering for long-term storage of libraries’ digital collections. Called Digital Archive™, it provides “a secure storage environment for you to easily manage and monitor the health of your master files and digital originals.” Barbara Quint has an article in Information Today called “OCLC Introduces High-Priced Digital Archive Service” in which she makes a comparison to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (or “S3″) from primarily a cost perspective: “The price for S3 storage at Amazon Web Services is 15 cents a gigabyte a month or $1.80 a year, in comparison to OCLC’s $7.50 a gig.” Barbara also goes into some of the technical differences, but I think it might be worthwhile to go a little more into depth on them.
Why settle for mere digital copies of books (a la the Google Book Search project and the Open Content Alliance) when you can have an edition printed, bound and sent to you in the mail? That’s the twist behind a recent partnership announced by Amazon.com, Kirtas Technologies, Emory University, University of Maine, Toronto Public Library, and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
What of a service existed where the patrons selected an item they needed out of our library catalog and that item was delivered to the patron even when the library did not yet own the item? Would that be useful? With the growth of online bookstores, our users do have the expectation of finding something they need on the web, clicking a few buttons and having it delivered. When such expectations of what is possible exist, where is the first place a patron would go to find recently published items — the online bookstore or their local library catalog? Does your gut tell you it is the online bookstore? Would it be desirable if the patron’s instinct were to be the local library catalog?
I have been heard to remark to other librarians on occasion a comment along the lines of “Don’t fear Google; Don’t Chase Google; Let’s Out-Google Google!” After allowing the confused stare linger for a moment or the hysterical laughter die down, I explain my thesis: we have something Google doesn’t have — no, it isn’t the selective care with which we select “authoritative” material (the PageRank algorithm does a pretty good job at that); and no, it isn’t our warehouses of books (the Google Book Search project will pretty effectively capture that) — we have faceted metadata. And lots of it.