Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Library Digitization Project

I saw an intriguing story on the web regarding the British Library (the library of the British Museum). They aim to digitize more then 100 000 books from the 19th century and publish them online. At full production they estimate 50 000 pages will be scanned per day. This means that a wealth of previously unavailable volumes will be made available to the public in due course.

This is a fantastic project because catastrophes are known to occur. Floods, fires, neglect and deterioration have ruined innumerable irreplaceable pieces of work. Once the works are digitized and become part of the ether that is the internet they will be immortal. Unless of course the internet experiences some sort of world wide collapse.

Imagine if we had had such power prior to the destruction of the Alexandria library. That was histories worst disaster in terms of the knowledge about the world and its history. All of which was lost. We will never know how much we lost and it is difficult to contemplate. This project is a small step toward preventing a similar disaster.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Smart Phones and libraries, the potential

It is tough to distinguish between the potential for smart phones in libraries from the potential for the internet in libraries. A lot of what makes smart phones useful to libraries has to do with the fact that you can access the internet with smart phones. In which case why not just have computers.

You could say that putting a library database on the internet means that smart phones are useful to libraries but really that advantage is not exactly specific to smart phones. There is potential for smart phones in libraries by virtue of the fact that it is the preferred medium for many people as opposed to computers. Therefore the library would be opening its horizons to a larger segment of the population. Smart phones allow people to take pictures and store large files of pictures, so having systems that allow people to download photographs to their smart phones could be a useful addition to libraries. All the sources that have been digitized would allow people to do this.

People could access library videos like national film board videos from their smart phones and the library could accept resumes and issue job postings to smart phones. Libraries could have a newsletter sent to peoples smart phones and accept feedback or suggestions via smart phones. In terms of actually having books available it would probably be better to have tablets to thereby use less space then would be used for storing physical books. However what the library could offer is excerpts for books that have not yet been purchased. The publisher could send the excerpts to the library and the library could allow access by patrons through smart phones. This would allow patrons to give feedback to the library regarding which books may be of interest, rather then the library spending money on books that turn out to be unpopular. In the age when library space and time and money are very important to conserve smart phones could prove a useful asset.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


I did not know what OSS was and don’t really know if I have ever had any experience with it. I don’t think I have.

All that aside I did some research on it and have some idea as to what the advantages and disadvantages are.


New features are included regularly and in a timely manner

If there is a security breach it is usually fixed pretty quickly.

So many users and programmers are involved that there is a wide pool of people to whom you can ask questions and gain input regarding possible improvements.


Sites/programmes can be difficult and expensive to maintain if you don’t like writing code of don’t know much about writing code.

If you are in a hurry to get bugs fixed you may have to resort to paying someone to have them fixed quickly.

The open source community is not obliged to answer all of your questions, so they often go unanswered.

OSS is not really suitable for people who prefer to speak to a human being on the phone or receive personal emails because all support comes by way of forum postings.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The usefulness of content enrichment in the ILS

Sometimes we are interested in a certain subject. We want to read about this subject but we can only read one book at a time. If our interest grows we can explore other sources but for the time being we are looking for the best book to satisfy our interest and our information need. Every subject has many different facets and different sources explore or concentrate on individual facets of a subject. If I was interested in the seven years war I could want to read about the Anglo French conflict in Europe, the North American front, the Austro Prussian front or the Russian contribution.

Content enrichment provides the person searching for the best book an opportunity to scan a table of contents or a summary so they can make a decision as to weather that particular source is the right one for them. If it covers or concentrates on the facets of a subject they are interested in then they may choose that book. There may be a dozen books in a library on Louis the fourteenth all entitled Louis the Fourteenth. What do we do, simply pick one and hope for the best? No, content enrichment helps us determine if it is the book for us. Another matter to consider is writing style. Time and again I have been enraptured or repulsed by a source, not because of the subject but because of the authors writing style. Content enrichment enables us to read excerpts, chapters which give us an idea of weather this is the book for us because we have an example of the writing style.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Nature, accuracy, Britanica, Wikipedia


The Nature study which determined that the accuracy of Wiki was equal to Britanica was in relation to the modern day online Britanica. I never question the accuracy of one in relation to the other. The version to which I referred was the 1893 Britanicas. My point was less of a statement on accuracy but rather a statement on the richness of the language, the superior writing and the obvious effort involved in the research. The old Britanicas convey the honest interest of the author and the desire to convey information in a very clear, unequivocal manner rather then the stilted, grinding style of the modern day academic whose production line mentality is “Publish soon or perish soon".

Sorry to create a whole new post just to respond to a comment. Every effort on my part to post a comment on my own blog or anyone elses has met with total failure. I cannot understand it.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Week 3 Posting on a library related topic in my own words

It is worrying how people don't seem so keen on the idea that information acquired in the library is of greater value then that which they can get more easily online. It seems people no longer care what the treasure is as long as the search for it is as easy as possible. People don't seem to want good information, they are scared of it. Because if they find it then they will be plagued with the onerous burden of finding it every time which is just too darn difficult and too much work.

I have the good fortune to have grown up with access to a series of encyclopedia Britannica’s that were written before the turn of the 20th century. They belonged to an old army colonel who owned the house my parent’s bought and he did not take them with him. They are moldy and they stink and they are rarely read. However if you were to read some of the articles and compare them to the articles on Wikipedia you would notice a great difference. There is a professionalism in the writing and the extent to which the subjects are researched and covered in the Britanicas is far greater then Wikipedia. Wikipedia entries by comparison read like they were written by an underling whose boss told him to bang out an article by this date or you are fired. There is a business philosophy that has crept its way into academia and that is that we have to do things faster and we have to do more. Indeed we are doing things faster and we are doing more but when it comes to information it would be of far greater benefit if we did less in less time if the result was a more complete coverage of the topic. This also indicates a dumbing down of society, it’s tragic. What’s worse is that few people know it because the internet is the only way they know of to get information, it is the only source they choose to expose themselves to.

Monday, 12 September 2011


Creating a blog is rediculousely easy. I am flaberghasted. I beleive they would be useful to library professionals because they afford the opportunity for librarians to share client requests and thereby get a good sence of what books are in demand before someone necessarily makes the request to a specific library.

Not certain at this stage if this blog service offers RSS feeds or how I can find that out. I fear I have rushed something or skipped over something. I will go back over the modules and see if anything comes to me. For now we will call this my first swing at it. Hopefully I am not terribly off the mark.

Blogs in general- I have the feeling they are more for the benifit of the creator then the reader. Blogs seem to be for setting up. This way people can say " I have my own blog" and others can say " My word he's got his own blog what a splendid chap he must be". Mind you this is but an initial impression as I fear my experience with this medium is sadly limited and defficient. No doubt my thinking will undergo a grave transformation or none at all. One or the other.

Tally ho