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Archive | October 18, 2011

E-books: Getting the Issues on the Table

It’s no secret that book formats and technologies are going through a period of major change. I attended the first two sessions of a well attended 2 day-long track on the e-book evolution and revolution kicked off with an overview of the key issues and challenges for libraries.

Dick Kaser (L), session organizer, chats with Chad Mairn, moderator

This panel of experts laid out the challenges.

(L-R) Faith Ward, Amy Affelt, Bobbi Newman, Sarah Houghton

Bobbi Newman said that 12% of the US population has an e-reader, so we are only  trying to reach a small number of people, but they bring an important perspective. Many people do not understand e-book requirements.  For example, Barnes & Noble was telling people to go to the library to borrow e-books, but they did not tell them they had to have a PC connected to the Internet. So there are some gaps in the e-book world. Libraries want to have e-books, and they must think about beefing up their collections.

You can now read e-books on a Kindle, which is very easy to use and wonderful for libraries. But Amazon keeps the statistics that libraries should have. They know how many kindle users read e-books, how many read a library’s books, and how many purchase the books. We must stand up and demand the statistics that they have.

Sarah Houghton agreed, saying that we will take anything the publishers give us ecause we are desperate to get the content. We are not looking at what we are signing up for. Realize that you do not own the books, you lease them. Read the fine print! The terms of service override copyright law, and companies can put whatever they want in those terms.. It is important to read these terms and not just click and agree! We must know what we are getting. People now conclude their checkout on a corporation’s website (i.e., Amazon’s). Their library borrowing history is kept elsewhere, and can’t be erased which raises major privacy issues. When you check in the book, they try to make you buy it.

Amy Affelt works at a consulting firm of Ph.D. economists who testify in litigation. She hardly ever wants to buy an entire e-book–only a chapter, or a single page. But she cannot buy just a single section and it is limited to reading on her PC only. She does not want to read the e-book, but get it to the user and be the conduit.  Unfortunately, she cannot do that becasue of the way Amazon is set up. She wants to pay for the right to read across all platforms instead paying to read the book on each device.

Faith Ward is an elementary school librarian at a girl’s school. She studied how kids read on e-books. The first graders made more mistakes reading an e-book instead of print. They were motivated and enthusiastic. The reason probably is because first graders’ reading habits are not as precise as those of adults. They were too occupied with the screen and the distractions. Full color devices seem to be worse.

She felt she had a duty to educate the parents to read more in the e-book environment. It is hard to work with teachers who do not embrace technology, so she has become an ambassador of the technology. For 5th graders, she told them to bring in their own device, and there was a big variety which caused many problems to make the technology work. Students in colleges today taking distance learning courses are being educated in an online environment. In the elementary market, we are educating students how to conduct themselves in that setting. Where do print books fit in? They don’t.

There are problems explaining to publishers what libraries are going to do with the e-books.  They are just passing them along to their requesters, not reading them.

The cost of e-book circulation vs. print depends on what you are circulating. Publishers do not offer any discounts on electronic products like they do on print products. This is not a good deal if you figure in the cost of the platform each year.

AIIP has negotiated the right to pass on the content to the end user, but there is no unified voice for libraries to do this. As a group we are powerrful, but we are operating as individuals. We need a solution to this problem.

Libraries have a problem with lending e-reader devices: that there is a significant cost if somebody loses it. There is a difference between the container and content, and they are wedded together. Because we like the container, we are ready to accept bad terms for the content. If the library is loaning a Kindle,it is taking a stance in a competitive market. Do we need to be involved in this?

Sarah Houghton said that we should fight for content with no DRM. That is a hard battle but worth fighting so you can have device-agnostic content.

No library system is an island, and we need to work together! We are still trying to work out the process of using e-books.



Libraries and Learning Communities: The Tuesday Keynote Session

Lee Rainie, a frequent keynote speaker at Internet Librarian, opened day 2 of the conference with another fast-paced session of data collected by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, of which he is director.

Lee Rainie

Lee Rainie making last minute adjustments to his presentation

Lee is working on a new book, Networked: The New Social Operating System, which will be published next year.

Lee began his presentation, Libraries and Learning Communities, by listing 5 questions for librarians as they ponder learning communities:

5 questions for librarians as they ponder learning communities

1. What is the Future of Knowledge?

Knowledge used to be objective and certain; now it is subjective and provisional. Learning becomes a process–people learn and change together.  Learners no longer receive knowledge, but create it.  A lot of teachers have their students tell them something they don’t know, which influences their grade.

Three revolutions have happened recently. The Internet had the fastest rate of adoption until the cell phone arrived.

The Digital Revolution Adoption Rates

People became content creators, with the consequences that stuff is coming at us faster, it is coming at a rapid clip, and stuff that we care about is coming at us faster (relevance).  People are coping by creating “the daily me” using RSS, listservs, etc.

Some of the conclusions to draw from this data on networked information creators:

  • Sharing photo and videos are an integral part of sharing.  People under 30 think it is their business to share their experiences.
  • Only 14% people consider themselves bloggers.  It has become almost impossible to discern when you are reading a blog because you cannot tell that the site is a blog.
  • Only 13% use Twitter, but some of them are very influential.
  • A new layer of information–location, using maps, where I am–has huge privacy implications.

Mobile phones

Mobile is the fastest growing technology ever.  In the US (and several other countries), the number of phones is now greater than the population.  It is now expected that everybody has a cell phone.  59% of adults connect to the internet using a mobile phone.  35% of all adults are smartphone users, but some people hate them!  If you look at the original of this Wordle (see the Pew website) which shows the results of a survey of smartphone users, you will find some very negative opinions.

Opinions about smartphones

12% of people have e-book readers; 9% have tablets–an elite audience.  56% own laptops, up from 30% in 2006.  It’s a very complicated world!  Librarians now have to serve multiple audiences.

Consequences for learning ecosystem:  anywhere, any device, any time, real time right now.  Hyper-coordination–we don’t meet people at a specific place; we just say we will be in the neighborhood and start communicating.  See Alone Together by Sherry Turkle for a good overview of this.

Social networking

Social networking is used by half of all adults and 77% of all teens.  Usage is not limited to young people; the participation by over 65s is growing fast; they want photos of kids etc. right now!  There is also a tension in social networking caused by parents friending kids when they leave home.  Consequences for librarians:

  1. Social networks and media become important in people’s lives.  Many people log on to a social network first thing in the morning to get news; the networks are like sentries.
  2. Networks can become evaluators and signal senders. Think about being nodes in peoples’ notworks.
  3. Social networks are the audience, new neighborhood.  We are all the performers.

 What is the Future of Reference?

Here are Lee’s slides answering this question:

What is the Future of Public Technology?

Because of technical difficulties, Lee was not able to show all of his slides, but they are available on the Pew website.


View Live Sessions from IL 2011

If you have missed one of the keynotes or some selected sessions, you can view some of the sessions as they are live streamed from the conference!  Just click here to see them.  After the conference, the videos will be available on the conference website.


Opening of the Exhibits

The exhibit hall opened on Monday evening with the traditional reception.  Here are some scenes from that event.

Authors of books published by ITI autographed copies of their books

More authors of ITI books

Crowds attending the opening reception

As always, the crab cake station was very popular.

A high quality giveaway to be raffled off by The Financial Times

A sign of the times: an entire catalog just for e-books


Browser Battles: The Next Generation of Browser Wars

5 years ago, 90% of the browser market share was owned by Internet Explorer; now 4 different browsers make up the 90%.  We have gone from monopoly to complexity.

Search engine expert Greg Notess finished the Information Overload track with an overview of the current browser wars.

Greg Notess

One might think that the browser market is fairly homogeneous, but there is a significant global variance in their use, as shown here.

Global variance in browser usage

And it’s interesting to note that many people use more than one browser (being a creature of habit, I tend to find the one I like and stick with it).  There are a variety of reasons for this:

  • It allows you to be flexible.
  • In a library or service setting, you are able to see what your users see, regardless of which browser they are using.
  • Sometimes different results are received from searches.
  • You can see all content–sometimes different browsers show different content.

With the appearance of mobile and tablet platforms, special browsers have been developed for them, which are different than desktop ones. Some of them are preinstalled; others come from app stores.

Trends for desktop browsers include larger window space, fewer visible browser functions (i.e. no print icon), a combination of functions, and the ability to remember the last open website.  Lots of this is done to make more space on the desktop, or for branding.

Here are some developments with each of the major browsers


  • Note that compatibility view is important to make things work with older versions of their browser.
  • Developer tools are available by pressing F12.
  • You can pin sites to the taskbar.
  • The search and URL boxes have been combined.


  • Firefox is updating on a new rapid cycle (version numbers may disappear).
  • Home and Bookmark buttons have been moved to the right.
  • Panoramas (tab groupings) allow grouping of tabs.
  • You can sync history, bookmarks, and passwords between different PCs.
  • Many add-ons are available, such as Ad Block,a Web developer toolbar, and many others.


  • Has a reputation for being fast.
  • It optimizes Google services because it’s a Google product.
  • Updated frequently.

Options that work on all browsers

  • Navigation (back and forward arrows)
  • Control-H to see search history
  • A setting to delete the history on exit.


  • The search box is still there or users can use an omnibox in Firefox and Chrome.
  • Most people don’t know how to search on a page (CTRL-F)


  • Google has stopped supporting its toolbar for Firefox.
  • The Google Related toolbar is only available for Firefox and Chrome.
  • The Home button has been moved or diminished.  It’s not necessarily the default on startup; instead the last session, most recently closed site, or the top/most visited site may open.
  • But some common features remain:  Find on Page, Zoom in and out, URL display when mousing over a link, and viewing the page source.




Best Betas for Learning and Navigating

Gary Price, co-founder of and have us a whirlwind tour of the best beta sites for learning and navigating.  (Click here to see all of his slides.)

Gary Price

 Many tools are coming online that still need work and are in beta test.  Even though they may not be ready for prime time but are still worthy of
attention.  For example:

  • SnapBird searches Twitter archives.  You can search someone else’s timeline, tweets, favorites, direct messages sent and received.
  • Microsoft Academic Search includes an Academic Map, comparison of organizations’ output, entity verification, author searches, etc.  It is being developed by Microsoft Asia and has many advanced search features.
  • Quixley finds apps for Android and all the major platforms.  (It has now progressed out of beta.)
  • Primadesk aggregates cloud services, including Facebook, Dropbox, and many others.
  • Muse, recently written about in New Scientist, visualizes e-mail.
  • Leafsnap provides the kind of tree from a picture of its leaf.
  • MealSnap returns the calorie count of food from a photo of it.
  • Tin Eye does reverse image searching, either from uploaded images or from their database and shows where they have appeared on the Web. (It’s not like Google’s visually similar images.)
  • Zotero allows you to share the results of your research.
  • OCLC research is doing extremely exciting work. WorldCat Identities has a page for every named person, that shows a timeline of their publications, genres, most widely held works by the person, audience level, associated subject (word cloud), and even visualizations of relations between people.
  • The C-SPAN Visual Library has the programming aired on every C-SPAN network. (If Gary could have access to only 1 database, this would be it.) They have digitized every minute of every hour and allow it to be searched. It has information on government, politics, and a wide range of other subjects.
  • provides curated videos of background information, how to, history, science, etc. that have been curated by librarians. You can browse the subject directory, search the metadata. It’s mainly for K-12 students, but has info for any age person.
  • The National Archives open access catalog has 6 databases and do advanced searches. Users can add their own tags. The databases can be searched singly or all at once.
  • Bitcasa has unlimited data storage for only $10. They only store the data, not metadata which lives on the users’ own server.

These tools can be found on You can get weekly e-mails on new APIs, mashups.

  • DuckDuckGo is a 1-man developed web search engine. It focuses on privacy and direct links to specialty search tools.
  • SiloBreaker shows the buzz about a specific story or topic on social media.
  • GlueJar is the social commissioning of creative commons editions of previously published books. Everyone pays a little book to have it licensed (unglued), and then access to the book becomes freely available.