Category Archives: Content (is Conversation)

Meeting Reader Expectations for Content – Giving Them the E-Books They Want…

Don’t miss this by Brian Kenney:

That strategy seems to represent a new chapter in a debate public librarians in America have had for 150 years: should we be providing our readers with the material they want, or should we be providing books we think they should read? Because, however noble DCL’s motivation is for its model, when it comes to e-books, the system is pushing its patrons to read something other than what they want to read. It’s back to the 19th century, Kindle in hand.

Of course, in DCL’s defense, much of this is out of its hands: only two of the big six offer their full catalogues to libraries, and in those cases they do so under lending restrictions, or very high prices. “We can’t be held hostage to vendors,” LaRue says, and “ownership” of the libraries’ content is the bedrock of DCL’s model.

But at this moment in nascent e-book history, is “ownership” really so vital? Is it really practical for public libraries to try to reform the publishing business by rerouting our patron demand? Or do we risk losing patrons dissatisfied with our digital offerings?

It is a complex question. I believe that part of the promise of digital content for libraries lies in experimentation, and that the ownership model, necessary for research libraries, may not suit public library needs any longer. Shouldn’t public library collections be dynamic and ever-changing? Does any public library really need to own an e-book it plans to discard in three years? Or 48 digital copies of Gone Girl?

One of the great opportunities for public libraries in the digital world is that they should be able to continuously recreate their collections, at a reasonable cost—without the expense of housing, materials handling, weeding, and discarding.

LaRue concedes he would entertain other ways to do business—like pay per use—provided he could still purchase copies for his “long-tail” catalogue. “But,” he adds, “that model doesn’t exist.” In a world where a digital copy of a book can be acquired in minutes, however, doesn’t the long-tail catalogue get to be pretty short?

Read the whole thing…so nice to be reminded of the Charles Robinson philosophy in the midst of all the e-book hoopla!

Unglue: Giving books to the world by crowd funding – A TTW Guest Post by Jan Holmquist

The most democratic book project I know is about to relaunch – Here is an article I wrote for the German library magazine BUB as member of the Zukunftentwicklers network – With a few corrections because a lot has happened with since the deadline:

What is crowd funding and what does it mean to unglue?

To unglue a book means that you buy the rights to the book and then pass them on by giving the book to the world for free to read in any e-book format and on any device – without DRM or time restrictions under a creative commons license. But you don’t do it alone. You chirp in a little and so does a lot of other people who think it is important to free the same book. This is called crowd funding. When you crowd fund (and unglue) the project you support has a deadline and the money needed must be raised before the end of this deadline or the project fails. If the money is not raised before the deadline – you don’t loose your money – because the amount you pledge is not drawn from your account unless all the money needed is raised.

The good thing about as I see it is that everyone is a winner. The author gets paid for his work and the world gets unlimited access to the book – What’s not to like about it? I think is the most democratic book project you can imagine.
The first book has already been unglued and is therefore yours too – it is “Oral Literature In Africa” by Ruth H. Finnegan – 278 world citizens participated in unglueing this book raising 7500 dollars – The e-book version is available for download from the website. You can go to to learn more and make your own pledge to give the gift of a book to the world.

Libraries, ebooks and freedom of information

In the current e-book market it is very hard for libraries to purchase and lend out ebooks to the public. This fact is making it darker times for universal access to information for the first time in decades. Lots of titles can’t be offered because the biggest publishers in the US are not working with the libraries there, and in Europe EBLIDA is doing work to get better deals here too. Booksellers say libraries are a threat to the ebook business even though research shows that libraries increase book sales – not the other way round. The current situation looks like a library nightmare. Though the focus for modern libraries shift from collections to connections it is still important that information will be more freely accessible in future – not less. There are also privacy concerns with some of the models in which libraries and we as citizens can purchase ebooks today. Booksellers can erase books from our devices (it has been done!), can spy on us to see what we read, underline and bookmark in our ebooks etc. Libraries do not own ebooks. They license them – and can’t lend them out limitlessly on most contracts.

The e-book formats are not universal and library e-book services are often hard to use limiting potential use because of technical illiteracy and difficulties.

The values behind contribute to another voice in the debate on the future of ebooks, libraries and access. If becomes a universal success the role of libraries on the e-book market will be (almost) obsolete because they will have provided all ebooks freely available for us all in every digital format without DRM and without spying on the reader etc. This is basically a very librarianish goal… – but there is still a long way to go.

Crowd funding – success and challenges

One important thing when crowd funding is that your project tells a story that is important to the possible contributors. You need to see that what you are contributing to will make a difference to someone and will be making the world a better place. This can be a tricky thing for a project like because everyone can agree that universal access to good books is an important issue – but what if the title does not appeal to me? Sometimes it is easier to raise a lot of money for a cause broadly known than for a work of art very few people know.
Crowd funding is not a new thing. It has been used to collect funds for helping out after natural disasters for many years and political parties are crowd funded by their members etc. Barack Obamas campaign for the presidential election 2008 was partly crowd funded like many other presidential campaigns have been. The new thing about Obamas campaign was that so many people contributed even if the amounts were small – a lot of people “owned” the campaign. These are all examples of projects that their supporters meant would make the world a better place.

Crowd funding projects – library related and beyond

In the library field successful crowd funding campaigns include Buy India a Library where 100 people from all over the world funded the building of a library connected to a school in Mysore, India including books, newspapers and wages for the staff for two years. The campaign raised more than 3000 Euros in less than two weeks and it was more funds than needed. Therefore it additionally funded four donkey drawn mobile libraries in Africa. The thought about opening a library in a world where a lot of libraries were closed appealed broadly.

The online library TV show This Week in Libraries current season is also partly crowd funded by people from all over the world who want to keep the show on the air. This Week in Libraries focuses on ideas and innovation in libraries and interviews library innovators from all over the world. The Help This Week in Libraries campaign showed that the show has a large world-wide supporter group.

A few examples of non-library related projects are singer Amanda Palmers newest album, art book and tour crowd funded via the very popular platformKickstarter.comHer campaign collected more than one million dollars before deadline.

The Uni is a reading room for public space that is also funded via Kickstarter and even though it is based in New York City there are now a new Uni in Kazakhstan too. It provides a flexible library like outdoor space for reading, showcasing learning and one of its aims is to improve public space.

Good luck with crowd funding your own future projects and with making the world a better place by crowd funding others projects and unglueing books to the world.

Jan Holmquist is a librarian working with library development in South East Denmark at Guldborgsund-bibliotekerne. He is also a global librarian, Zukunftsentwickler, blogger, Tweeter and crowd funder – member and co-founder of the Buy India a Library team and Help This Week in Libraries team.

Don’t Miss: TWIL #78 with Jamie LaRue (Library Director at Douglas County Libraries)

TWIL #78: Jamie LaRue (Library Director at Douglas County Libraries) from Jaap van de Geer on Vimeo.

This week’s guest comes from the library world and takes the idea of Justo bravely to another level. Jamie LaRue, library director of Douglas County Libraries realized that not having the ownership of content or being able to put up own content was a problem and when prices of e-content rose so far that it became absolutely ridiculous he decided to built his own platform. After consulting with his clever staff he decided to invest in the Adobe Content Server as that platform is trusted by the publishers and when it was installed he was ready to roll. Jamie and his staff are clearly setting the new frontier for libraries and show us that it pays off not to sit down and complain about the deal that is laid upon us, but to be innovative and built our own models. We talk about the publishing revolution, the rapidly growing role of self publishing and the challenging role for libraries. Jamie is so confident that there is a great role to play for libraries with the right people and the right ideas that we ended the show and the day with new energy and a good feeling.


Meaningful Essential Services Beyond Commercial Content

Don’t miss the new column by Aaron Schmidt:

Fortunately, there are examples of libraries creating new and valuable services that may just serve as a template for fresh, more community- responsive services than the current “free bookstore” long-term gamble we’re making.

Baltimarket is a collaboration among Enoch Pratt Free Library, the city of Baltimore, and other organizations to bring healthy food to food deserts. People can order groceries online and pick them up at library locations. No ­ebooks required.

In January, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ, hired a nurse. She leads programs and is also available to answer questions and make referrals. Combine this with expert help searching databases, and there’s near endless potential to assist people.

LibraryYOU is a project from the Escondido Public Library, CA, that helps its community create and publish videos and podcasts “to collect and share local knowledge.”

Contest for “New Librarianship” Pinterests

Please head over and cast a vote:

Our ‘New Librarianship’ contest has generated so much excitement and interest!  We were very impressed with the work that our contestants put into their boards and the varying ways you have defined what it means to be a New Librarian.  While it has been a tough chore to decide ‘the best of the best’, we have come up with our Elite 8 boards, as shown below.

Now it’s your turn to vote! Check out all the boards and then vote for the one you believe best represents the future of librarianship.  The three boards receiving the most votes will all receive a copy of Professor Dave Lankes’ book The Atlas of New Librarianship.

Voting will be open until this Friday at 5pm EDT (March 30) and winners will be announced 9am Monday (April 2) at 9am EDT.  Good luck to everyone!

I have a bit of a bias, but this one by my former student Rick Thomchick is my personal favorite:

Rick wrote this popular guest post for TTW about Pinterest:

Make Something … at Portland Public Library

Don’t miss:

TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke answers some questions about the library as a creation space for teens:

How do artists use your library?

Every day after school we get anywhere from 30-60 teens using our teen library space.  I see the teens making music, art, and videos on their laptops everyday.  A lot of them also sit around and doodle, and the almost always give me their finished products.  I’ve got quite a compilation of teen artwork created in the library that someday I hope to put together and feature in the library!

This image gallery is a collection of pieces that teens completed in the Portland Public Library as part of the Searching For ME program, where teens designed their own story in their image. The program was a collaboration with The Telling Room and The Maine College of Art. All photos are courtesy of Justin Hoenke.


E-Book vs. Paper Book. “The big book fight.”

Sean Robinson writes:

This is a little video I made that pokes fun at the conflict between e-books and paper books. It’s not really real, if you love books you don’t care what format they come in. This was made to lower the anxiety that we all feel about the changes that are occurring within libraries.
“Music: Kevin MacLeod” and is used under creative common licensing. You can find his site at
Thanks for watching

Helping Communities Create Digital Works

One of the BEST things I’ve read about e-books in a long time:

In this transitional time, public libraries should aim for the future and invest in toolsets and programming that help their communities produce and participate in new digital works, not simply consume them.  To make something is to understand something.  If you build a radio from parts in your garage, you’ll have a very different relationship with every radio you listen to from that day on. A tomato you grow in your garden will always taste better than the tomato you bought from the grocery store, and you’ll develop a deep understanding of what that tomato is after you’ve nurtured its growth for months.  Every time you have tomatoes at a restaurant after you’ve grown your own you’ll have a different understanding of tomatoes; what they are, where they came from, and the potential they hold.  To help our communities taste better tomatoes, public libraries need media labs, hacker spaces, coworking spaces, expert staff, and a long term investment in technologies supporting community creativity.

Go read the full post by Nate Hill here: