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Dad. Dude. Librarian
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It may be dusty and less than tidy but it's mine.


Screens bad, paper good?

1 min read

I’m calling BS on this article! Read it when you get a chance. Basically: screens are bad, paper is good.

They mention recent studies that show how using a smartphone/tablet before can be detrimental to your sleep and how smartphones/tablets can be distracting. I get that.

To me, reading is reading. I read A BOOK on MY PHONE almost every night and have no trouble going to sleep. Yes, I could check Twitter etc. but I DON’T because I’M READING A BOOK!

Enjoy your weekend.


Would OverDrive ever offer an eBook Subscription Service?

2 min read

Nuvem de Livros is a subscription based eBook service in Brazil. It has over 1 million subscribers. According to this post a big part of its subscribers are students who pay a about $1 per month (regular subscription fee is $3). What does this service offer?

The students can read novels, biographies, short story collections, or essays, and they can also look up terms in encyclopedias and dictionaries or study interactive maps. The Nuvem de Livros catalog also includes audiobooks, educational videos, and author interviews. The apps are equipped with features that allows users to search through books to find specific terms, bookmark pages, and learn.

The collection size is currently 10,000 titles and can be accessed via the web or iOS and Android apps.

While this type of service hasn’t made it to the American market yet I think it’s only a matter of time. Similar services exist (or will launch soon) in other countries. Amazon has their Kindle Owners’ Lending Library as part of their Amazon Prime service. It’s kind of like a subscription service but it’s only available to Kindle owners.

I wonder what would happen if OverDrive decided to offer a direct-to-consumer subscription service? They've got agreements with most of the big publishers and many small publishers and a pretty a good delivery system. With their new OverDrive One service (rolled out yesterday with version 3.0 of their app) they are getting people to create OverDrive specific accounts. What’s to keep them from launching a subscription service? A service like this could be an additional revenue stream. It may undercut their library market but how much money could they make in a direct-to-consumer service?

Just a thought. 


Winter 2013 eBook Instruction Tour

2 min read

During the first nine weeks of 2013 I conducted 18 eBook instruction events at nine library locations in the county. Nine of them were eBook Clinics, 2 hour workshops that cover the basics of using the library’s eBook collections. The other nine were eBook Consultations, one-on-one appointments with people.

A total of 154 people attended these events. The attendance was down from last year's post holiday eBook tour. I think that's a good thing. I think it shows that people are:

  • Getting the hang of using our eBook collections.
    • Or know someone who has already gotten the hang of it that can help them.
  • Purchasing tablets/smartphones instead of eInk eReaders.
    • The OverDrive app (available on all major mobile operating systems including Kindle Fires and Nook HDs) makes using our eBook collections much easier.
  • Getting their questions answered when they visit their library.
    • Library staff is more knowledgeable and comfortable with our eBook collections and how they work.
      • Maybe the staff training in December and eBook page revisions helped?

The audiences for the eBook clinics were overwhelmingly 50+ with most people 60+. This is just like last year.

I have scheduled a new round of eBook Consultations for April and May. I enjoy the consultations. I like being able to help people individually. It gives them the chance to ask 'silly' questions they may not ask in a room full of people and they get answers specific to them and their device.

I tried to take pictures of the attendees at the eBook clinics this year. I got pictures of 6 of the 9 clinics.

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1 min read

A friend of mine cut this out of the paper for me. I've been teaching eBook classes for the public lately so she thought of me. I've always liked Frank and Ernest.



Whispersync for Voice is very cool!

3 min read

I'm a big fan of audiobooks. I listen to them a lot. Walking the dog, doing the dishes, driving, just about any chance I get. It's a great way to 'read'. And, let's face it, as a father of two kids I'm tired at the end of the day and fall alseep quickly when I read.

I joined Audible last year as a way to supplement the audiobooks I was getting from the library via OverDrive and OneClickdigital. I like the service and enjoy the extras you get every now and then from them. Last week Amazon announced Whispersync for Voice and gave Audible members some free samples to try. The samples are all classics so the books are free anyway but the audiobooks usually cost between $5 and $20. I thought I'd give it a try and I must admit, I'm impressed.

I've always liked Whispersync with Kindle books. Remembering where I left off on one device and picking up at that point on another? It's magic to me. How they made the magic work from audio to text? No idea. But it is very, very cool.

I downloaded Treasure Island as an experiment. I haven't read it yet. (Don't scold me! I'm catching up on my classics.) I started listening to it in the Audible app yesterday. Got a few chapters in. Stopped it. Opened the book on the Kindle app for the iPad and was reading where I left off on the audiobook in seconds. I read a little, stopped then opened the audiobook and was listening where I left off reading. Fascinating!

I buy very few eBooks and none of the ones I've purchased have been from Amazon. That may change. They have over 14,000 titles that utilize Whispersync for Voice. And that number will probably increase quickly. So, I can purchase a Kindle edition of a book and add the audiobook version of that book at a discounted price. Some of the discounts are $3.95, some are more.  For me, as an audiobook fan, it makes me consider buying the text version of a book. It would be nice to have a book in text and audio for a reasonable price. Being able to pick up where you left off on either version makes it a very tempting offer.

I may even consider buying one of the Kindle Fires because they can play the audiobook while you are reading. I may not but it's making me think about it. I wasn't last week.

At least I've got a few classic audiobooks to listen to.


Post Holiday eBook Clinics Wrap Up

3 min read

I wrapped up another round of eBook clinics last night. The attendance more than DOUBLED from the pre Christmas eBook clinics. The total number of people who came to the clinics this round was 213. In Nov/Dec it was 98.

When we scheduled this round of eBook clinics I knew a lot of people would be getting eReaders/tablets over the holidays. I had no idea that the number nearly doubled across the country. I’m glad we scheduled this round of eBook clinics. With so many people getting a new digital reading device there was a new segment of our population that needed help using our digital collection.

Learning to use our OverDrive collection was the main reason people attended the sessions. We covered the basics of using the collection by checking out books in the Kindle and ePub formats and an audiobook. After checking out each format I loaded the title on a device. During the process I discussed some of the differences between formats (Kindle/ePub, WMA/MP3) and why they matter. I informed everyone about the software many of them would need to use the collection – Adobe Digital Editions (ePub eBooks), OverDrive Media Console (audiobooks) – and the Adobe ID that is also required for many devices. I placed a hold and told everyone about the 72 hour window of claiming that hold. We went through the ‘My Account’ features explaining what each one does and why they are useful. It was a very quick demo with a lot of information.

One of the things I stressed at each session was the dependence we have on publishers. I told the attendees about the restrictions some publishers invoke and how two big publishers don’t let any library lend their eBooks. We talked about the reason why they had to place holds on digital content that should be available to download at anytime. Digital Rights Management was explained as well as possible.

Questions from the attendees were welcome at any time during the demonstration. There were many and sometimes other people jumped in to help answer them. It was great.

The entire demonstration of our collection including the discussion about publishers and DRM usually took a little over an hour. After that, people who had device issues had the opportunity to ask me (or the branch staff) questions and hopefully get their questions answered. Many people took advantage of this. Most people left after the initial demo/discussion.

It was a good experience and I’m starting to schedule monthly eBook clinics for our clusters. These will start in March.

The vast majority of people who came out were 50+ with most being 60+. They were all eager to learn. I hope I helped raise their comfort level with the library, our digital collection and their device(s).


My eBook Clinic Experience

3 min read

I wrapped up my first round of eBook Clinics last night and it has been quite the experience. I went to all of the libraries in my library system (8) and over the past 4 weeks to try and help people in my community learn more about eBooks, eReaders and our digital collection. I think it was pretty successful.

98 people attended the 8 sessions. The attendance varied by location, 27 was the most and 3 was the fewest. The people that attended were mostly retirees. There were some younger people and I even had one father and son (5th or 6th grade) attend at one location. Some had devices, most were looking to buy one.

The people with devices asked a lot of questions about how to use our digital collection. I was able to help most of them become more comfortable with the process of browsing the collection, checking something out and getting it on their device. I also did a bit of troubleshooting.

The people looking to buy a device were looking to learn more about the different devices available. We spent a lot of time talking about the difference between eReaders and tablets. We discussed Kindles, Nooks and the other options. There was a lot of talk about how Kindles are different from other eReaders.We adapted some information from here into a handout that I think was kinda helpful for people looking to buy a device.

We also talked about how our digital collection is controlled in large part by the publishers. Many of the people who attended the clinics had no idea that we are limited in what we can purchase and provide to them. I hope I was able to explain (nicely?) that there will be some titles that we will be unable to provide no matter what. Why? Because the publishers won’t let us. I got the impression they understood this and accepted that we are trying to provide the best collection possible.

It was a good experience! I enjoy getting out of the office, visiting our libraries, seeing some friends and meeting new people. It's also good to be able to help demystify something for people. I'm not an expert but I know enough to help most of the people who attended the eBook clinics.

I’ve got a post Christmas round of eBook clinics scheduled for January/February and will start preparing for it very soon…like today.


Friday Reads - Lack of Focus Edition

3 min read

This week has been a bit hard. I haven't really felt like reading much or thinking about anything other than my family. My grandmother passed away on Mother's Day surrounded by her children in a comfortable place she was 88.

She was a big inspiration to me and is a major reason I am who I am. She always encouraged me to read and learn as much as I could. She taught me to appreciate the beauty of nature and passed on her love of hiking and the mountains.

I'm lucky I got to know her as well as I did. When I was in graduate school she lived within walking distance of my house. I would visit her frequently and we would often eat lunch together. We discussed many things and talked about whatever books we were reading at the time. She was the most well read person I have ever known. She read just about everything you were 'supposed' to read and lots of other things. She was NOT a Harlequin Romance reader. I could go on and on but I won't.

I love her dearly and will miss her the rest of my life.

This week's posts

This week Google announced they would begin selling Google branded 'Chromebooks' in June. These computers will only go online and will be powered by ChromeOS. ChromeOS is essentially the Chrome browser. The prices are in line with most netbooks but they will have business and student plans. These plans allow businesses and students to lease the machines for a monthly fee ($28 business $20 student). I don't know if they will work staff but they may be an option for our public machines. The monthly fee covers all upgrades, there is no licensing or security and they even replace the hardware after a few years. How much do we spend on pc's, licensing and hardware upgrades?

I'm including three posts about this topic today because they all touch on different aspects of the device.

I've always been intrigued by this idea. Check out a person to learn more about them, their ideas, history and beliefs.

Good news on digital privacy from California. The State Senate unanimously passed a bill that upgrades reader privacy laws to include digital distribution. I hope it passes the House and becomes law. If it does maybe it will be picked up in other states.

This is a good list and worth reading. My favorites:

    • Libraries are there for all ages.
    • Libraries are there in a crisis.
    • Libraries offer the human touch.


Friday Reads - Pollen Edition

4 min read

[caption id="attachment_2371" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Hand print in pollen"][/caption]

Two things on a pollen related note:

  1. We learned that my oldest daughter has basic pollen and mold allergies this week.
  2. Pollen levels have been pretty high in the Richmond area lately.

That makes for an unhappy little girl. I guess we'll help the good people at Claritin put their kids through college now...

In professional news, my friend Phil and I submitted two proposals to speak at this year's Virginia Library Association conference this week.

  • Proposal #1: We want to have a discussion with other attendees about the future of libraries, what they think about them and how we can make it better. The plan is to have a brief presentation about changes libraries have managed already, show some things other libraries are doing now to manage change then open up for discussion. Will it get selected? Don't know. It's worth a shot though. We are calling it "Library Crystal Ball" (cheesy...or clever?)
  • Proposal #2: Technology Petting Zoo. We're bringing the library's gadgets and are encouraging other conference attendees to bring theirs to this session. Instead of standing in front of a room and telling them about what the gadgets will do we will encourage them to play with them and ask questions. We are calling it "Bring Your Own Gadget...or not"

We'll find out in June if either of our proposals are accepted. I've never presented at a conference before so if they pick one or both it will be my rookie presentation. Should be fun though.

The links this week are all over the place. Municipal broadband, a library 'love' letter, more eBook frustration, a library prediction and a great discussion about a popular service.

Since we recently began offering Freegal, I found this post very interesting. As you can tell from the title, Sarah doesn't like Freegal. Her reasons are solid and she makes a good argument. The comments are where the real action is though. Wow! That's a fantastic discussion.

I don't share her opinion. My experience with the people at Library Ideas has been pretty positive. I do worry about the sustainability of the service though. It's not cheap and it is not a core service. We may not renew our service if things don't improve financially.

Oh wow! Where to start? This is a very interesting piece. Mike Shatzkin is a pretty smart guy and he discusses the future of libraries here. It's a thought provoking piece. Here's a quote:

The core purpose — the founding purpose — of a library, around which other things have grown, is to deliver access to printed words. Even the smallest local library almost certainly had more content housed within it than any individual had in their home and, in most cases, far more content than would be available at any local store. It was the books in the library that initially defined the library and attracted a core of patrons to it. When all of us have access to more books on our screens than are in the library, what’s the point to the library?

But not all is lost. He finishes up with this:

...librarianship will be needed by people long after buildings full of books are not. That’s going to require an entirely new business model that hasn’t been invented yet.

A frustrated eBook reader proposes a novel idea. Buy a hardback get a digital copy too! I like it.
A great piece where the author rediscovers the joys of her local public library. Always nice to see some good things being written about us. Not everything is doom and gloom.
This is an interesting development in my home state. The State Assembly passed a bill "that severely restricts communities’ ability to choose their own best broadband solutions." It basically says that municipal governments won't have the ability to create their own broadband networks, making them essentially a utility, like water. This may not pass the state Senate. If passed, it could reduce options for people in areas that don't have any broadband service. Municipal broadband isn't something I'm familiar with but it doesn't seem like a bad idea.


Friday Reads - Birthday Edition

3 min read

This was an interesting week.

[caption id="attachment_2353" align="alignright" width="224" caption="Yes. Henrico Libraries DO Rock!"][/caption]

The big event was our All Henrico Reads on Tuesday with local boy done great David Baldacci. He was born and raised in Henrico county and everyone is very proud of his success.

The event was great! Over 1200 people came out on Tuesday night to see him speak and sign books. He's a great speaker and a very good sport. He stayed until 10pm and signed every book put in front of him. He also spoke to hundreds of students in two separate assemblies during the day. I can only imagine how tired he must have been. I've got a lot of respect for him and hope he continues to produce bestselling books. You should check out his literacy foundation and consider giving them some money if you can.

Today is my birthday so I will be helping the local economy by eating out for every meal. My oldest daughter and I went to IHOP for breakfast. She loves the Create-A-Face Pancakes. Lunch will be with the wife and youngest daughter. Location is yet to be determined. Dinner will be pizza. I will not cook today!

This week's links are less focused on technology than most of my past posts. I like the idea of gamifying the library but I don't know how we can do it here. It is something to think about though. There is good news/bad news and on the eBook front. And some creative people in Spain have come up with a novel way to make souvenirs.

This is simply cool. You'll have to look at the video to get the full effect. The people who thought this up are very creative and smart.

Bad news on the eBook front. It looks like the State Librarian for Kansas is balking at increased rates proposed by Overdrive. It looks like a complicated issue. I wonder what will happen. It will probably affect us at some point.

Good news on the eBook front. Harper Collins is willing to negotiate with libraries. I hope they mean it and we can use this as a way to find a good/fair model that works for libraries and publishers.

Brian Herzog discusses gamifying the library. The idea is to reward people who follow the rules. It's an interesting idea and one that we should think about. What to reward? How?

Andy discusses gamifying the library. He asks some questions that should be asked when deciding whether or not to make a game and proposes one of his own. I don't see his game working for us but maybe we can come up with one that will.