In just a few weeks there will be a gathering of 25,000 librarians in the streets of San Francisco for the American Library Association annual meeting. The topics on my mind as the meeting draws closer? How patrons intersect with advertising and privacy when using our services. What one person can do to level the information access divide using free software. Where is technology in our society going to take us next. Heady topics for heady times.
Do public libraries host birthday parties for children as part of their programming? I was with my son at a party for one of his friends a local bouncy inflatables place and happened to be thinking about library stuff while waiting for him to finish bouncing around. Suddenly (for me, at least) the two topics came together. A quick Google search for “library birthday parties” shows one promising hit at the Cambridge Springs Public Library but the rest seemed to be birthday parties for libraries or librarian-themed birthday parties. My son gave a noncommittal shrug when I asked him if he wanted his next party at the local library branch — that may be why they are not so common, but I wondered if anyone else had heard of libraries doing this.
With Thursday Threads coming on a Thanksgiving Thursday, it seems appropriate to use a theme of what I’m thankful for. So, in this edition of DLTJ Thursday Threads I’m offering three things: open source software, the internet, and public libraries. Reading this on Thanksgiving? Feel free to offer what you are thankful for in the comments.
I’m in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the Access 2011 meeting which starts tomorrow. Coming across from the eastern timezone I had to come a day early, so — being a self-confessed library nerd — I checked out the Vancouver Public Library. I’m impressed with not only the physical structure but also the obvious degree of community engagement. The Central Library was very busy on a Tuesday afternoon, and first impressions are that it is beloved by its patrons. Included below are some pictures and some notes; some of the pictures have annotations — you can mouse over the boxes to see them. You can also click on the pictures to go to larger versions on Flickr.
Two entries on big data lead this week’s edition of DLTJ Thursday Threads. The first is at the grandest scale possible: a calculation of the amount of information in the world. Add up all the digital memory (in cell phones, computers, and other devices) and analog media (for instance, paper) and it goes to a very big number. The authors try to put it in perspective, which for me brought home how insignificant my line of work can be. (All of our information is still less than 1% of what is encoded in the human DNA?) The second “big data” entry describes an effort to make sense of huge amounts of data in the National Archives through the use of visualization tools. Rounding out this week is a warning to those who run public computers — be on the look-out for key loggers that can be used to steal information from users.
They created a sample library called Loremville, TN public library to demonstrate key aspects of the service. I did not ask them how long that particular example will be around, so you may follow that link at a later date and not find it.
I love my local public library system, the Columbus Metropolitan Library. I’m a big fan of its helpful staff, plentiful collections, and convenient delivery service. Today I appaud it for coming up with what I think is the best terminology for our patrons to understand what we mean when we say databases. In a box on their homepage with the heading “Beyond Google” the CML says “Your library card is all you need to access our premium online resources!” What a great phrase for those things — premium online resources. By using the word “premium,” this phrase points out the notion that these are things with added value. That added value may come from the fact that the resources are licensed and are therefore beyond what you would get just looking at the open web. Or it could mean that it is a curated collection created and offered to the open web by the library itself. Some may waver over the use of the word “resources” but I think that is a meaningful phrase