Friday, 30 March 2012

Changes and moving forward

This blog was originally started for a library studies course that I did while I was working towards  my Library Studies certificate with Memorial University,. While I had every intention of keeping up the blog, as any “good” distance education student will tell you, life situations does get in the way at times. With that being said, I’m quite thankful for the instructor who taught me in that library studies course as I learned quite a lot, who would have thought that blogging would help me in masters degree? Its amazing how technology can connect across the miles, but be beneficial in our academic careers as well?
As I mention earlier I am working on my Masters in Education (Distance Education) through Athabasca University. The Library Studies certificate was a just personal goal of mine, I may never work in a library but the knowledge I gained from this certificate can be carried over to the distance education learner. Throughout my studies in adult education I learned that the libraries played a pivotal role in educating the public over a century ago in Eastern Canada(often referred to as Life Long Learning). On a historical note the University of London in the U.K. in 1833 first lead the way in offering degree's via distance education, and the only means of communication was the postal system.
Fast forward a century later technology is advancing at a rapid rate in how we communicate to one another,and learn. A more recent example is the turmoil in the middle east. Twitter, You Tube, cell phones, smart phones and emails helped people in sharing their ideals with a larger audience. In the west we experienced the struggles they encountered to enjoy the basic freedoms and rights the western world is enjoying today. I have been dong distance education courses for over twenty years,from the old printed materials, video and teleconference, and to the computer age. Its been an impressive change, and an honour to witness some of the historical changes for the better.

Today, regardless where we live in the world we can learn another language, study law, or complete a bachelor's, masters or doctrine degree. All of this can be done part time and at our own pace. Not many students have to time to attend school full time, due to family or financial situation and distance education is their only option. Depending on what you want to learn, its a journey well worth taking!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Making CENTS out of the e-reader

By now you would think publishers would have worked out the kinks over e-books. Apparently not! According to a report recently published in The Toronto Star, another publisher has amended its rule. The article pointed out "Penguin initially announced it was pulling all library e-titles downloaded on Amazon’s Kindle device over security concerns, but last week amended it to library access to its new Penguin e-books instead." With the e-book service libraries are starting to see a rise in the numbers of e-books being borrowed, but is it fair that public libraries be caught in this war?

The answer is NO. When the Toronto Library refused to buy any more books from Harper Collins, the library kept its word. For Harper Collins they might considered the Toronto Library as 1% of the purchasers so it was not a big lost to loose their service, however, that 1% has a much larger reader base that will be exposed to other authors, but they won't be from Harper Collins. With holidays fast approaching the Toronto Public Library reported over the holidays last year they noticed an increase borrowing over e-books, as people had received e-readers as gifts (In 2009 e-books borrowed was up to 196%, for 2010 the numbers jumped to 288%). With all the issues surrounding e-books one has to wonder who is impacted more but the publishers decision, the reader or the libraries.


Monday, 28 November 2011

Smart applications and the Library

Can smart applications really work for libraries? Do they provide a valuable service? Yes, they do in so many ways. Libraries are a treasure trove of information, from archive materials to the latest reading material for the e-book reader. I have never been to the United Kingdom before, but I found a video on You Tube about smart technology and the British Library. While the video was brief, it does have an impact on what this application can do for the patron but readily we can access the information regardless of where we live in the world.

As I stated earlier more libraries are releasing archive images or materials via the web. Imagine if your doing a presentation and needed an image or had to review a original resource for a paper, or a major presentation. The smart application can help you get access to that information. What I found astonishing with the British Library video was that speeches which were recorded in the last hundred years have been preserved and are release over the web. Speeches can range from the women's movement to Nelson Mandela is struggle for equality in South Africa in the 1950-60's. Once upon a time you needed to fly to the U.K. to hear or see the resources, with smart technology the resources can come to you. One comment by a user has shown how technology has improved our life was when a user from Germany ask if they could access the application.

Super Library

Just reading a news article on the BBC about Canada Water Library. No, its not a library in Canada about water. Its quite the opposite, its the latest library that has open in South London in the U.K.. When cities, and governments are looking to save money, London has done the opposite. The features of the new library (besides the usual collection of 40,000 books, CD's, & films), is the library's has ability to house theater performances, meetings, and evening courses. The other unique feature about the library is its construction on a small parcel of land. The building is like an upside mini pyramid.

The library is offering more than books to borrow. It is offering a variety services to the general public, who would have thought of hosting a theater performance in a library? But the library and the city council listened to their community. The city and the library board listened to the needs of community. with over 6,000 users the pubic would have rather have reduce hours, and have libraries staff by volunteers as oppose to shutting down the library altogether. To date not many governments in North America are listening to the views of people, however this library is hoping to be model to the rest of the community.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Will librarians be obsolete?

Will computer automated libraries and classrooms be the new wave of the future? On the way home recently, I overheard a few of students talking about the future of libraries & education. One comment that really caught my attention was “one day there will be no teachers, or librarians as everything will be done via the computer. Librarians will become obsolete as we can generate the information off the inter net, and professors lectures will be taped.” I chuckled at the response.

Part of the students comment rings true, but not all of it. If anything, we live in a society that is heavily reliable on information that we get from electronic sources. Depending the career you work, you might needed that information yesterday. What the student did not realize is “how much much of the information we get is it reliable?” If anything, librarians will not become an extinct breed of people, but be the driving force of how the technology is used. Librarians act as a filter who sorts through an endless amount information that we use in our papers and discussions, this is something even a computer cannot do. Librarians are riding the wave of change, and are keeping up with the times by being informed and keeping up with the needs of their customer. This something that even a computer cannot do.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Limitations to e-books for libraries

Libraries to date have to survive in challenging times, from limited budgets to keeping up on the latest technology. The latest problem encounter by libraries has been the limited access they can give to their patrons over e-books. One publisher in the United States has done exactly that, the publisher has limited the borrowing to 26 times a year; the reason cited by the publisher has been over the rightsholder. Rightsholder is the same as the copyright. Authors and publishers have express concerns that the libraries are not doing enough to have proper technology in place that ensures the material from e-books cannot be duplicated and be passed on through other electronic means. 

The copying and distribution problems are nothing new; the problems existed in other industries such as the music and movie industry. In the age of the internet, industries have limited themselves by not been looking at new ways which can stop the copying and distribution of materials. Libraries are not for profit organizations, if anything they help educates the public of what resources are readily available. In a white paper report that was release last year shows that the sales from e-books has stem from people visiting the library. Instead of the industries working the libraries to help curb the problem, they are creating a bigger backlash from the public and its patron’s.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

Today’s libraries are facing many challenges of either shrinking budgets, trying to keep up with the latest technology, and meeting the demands of the public and government. Imagine living in a small community where you have no local library, or the local library is limited in resources (staffing issues, hours of operation, and purchasing books), and not everyone has access or the means to the latest technology to download books on Kobo, Kindle or any of the other tablets.  For those of who live in large urban centers we automatically assume everyone is on the same playing field as us, but in reality they aren’t.  Currently, there is a small movement based in the United States that has created the “Little Free Library.” The concept of this little library is to “pay it forward.”

Here the community is encouraged to share your books with other people. There are boxes placed in yards, homes, hospitals, or community centers were anyone can take a book, and put another in its place. The boxes are bigger than a mailbox, and are creatively decorated by their owners. The Little Free Library is great for people who may find it difficult shopping in a bookstore due to the variety of choices, or they just don’t like shopping in the mega bookstores. There are people who do not have the funds to purchase books, or the means to travel to a nearby library. Not everyone is technology savvy, nor do they want the latest technology gadget. The little library is a great way to share your books on your topics with other people. Books can range children’s novels, help books, chicken soup for the…, or books on hobbies that you want to share with other people. 

For those who are interested here is the link to the site: