Monday, May 18, 2009

Libraries facing extinction? The weird world we live in at the moment has adminstrators and officials seeking to cut library operating budgets even more than they have been over the past 10 years, based on the bad economy. But the bad economy has thrifty customers coming in droves to the libraries, using the available services and looking for more. We are in the difficult position of turning away people that we have worked so hard to attract - which is why I call this a weird world. 

In this article about proposed Brooklyn Public Library cuts

there is a great quote that should be spread far and wide to all those in power over budgets, be they be public, private, health, special, education, or academic libraries:

"“Mayor LaGuardia kept libraries open seven days a week during the Great Depression,” [Brooklyn Councilman Vincent] Gentile noted at a recent Community Board 10 meeting. “The more the economy gets worse, the more important the libraries become.”"
Librarians in danger of extinction? A couple of items found on the web today:

A great Opinion post at the Toledo Blade: Who Needs Librarians Anyway?

Librarians Set To Be Stamped Out? (Camden News, UK)
the author describes the makeover of the library, using technology to save money:
"It will involve the introduction of a service known as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), replacing front-counters with self-service machines like those kind already seen in supermarkets. 
Meanwhile, “information plinths” will allow library users to approach a member of staff for help."
According to the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed., a plinth is "2. a square base or a lower block, as of a pedestal" In my opinion, it sounds great to put all librarians on a pedestal, but I am not sure it leads to the best customer service in the end. 
Article on Wolfram Alpha on Reuters this morning:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Follow-up to the WolframAlpha story on the 13th - WolframAlpha computational knowledge engine is now live:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wondering what you should put in your library's blog in order to best reach your customers and help them find more use in your collection? Here is a great example of how a promotion company is educating & entertaining their customer base:

The Giveaways Guru 

Take a look at it, and see how your library could use this media format to reach new and existing readers.

(p.s.: I have used this company, and have found it to be a very good source of our library marketing materials. This is an unsolicited comment, by the way - just hoping it helps you if you are looking for a reliable company. -th)
Search engines are in the news this morning.

Here is a link to an article on the expected launch of a new search engine: Wolfram Alpha by Mathematica:,2817,2346226,00.asp

Homepage for Wolfram Alpha: . 
The current message on the site says that it will be launching this month.

Google is launching a new set of search tools that a poster on ZDNet's Education site says might be the edge of Search 3.0:

Here is an article in PC that gives more description of the Google tools:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Libraries are still facing tough times - since the Internet came up, I think libraries have faced tough times each year, bucking the perception by those that make budgetary decisions that information is just floating around, free for the taking. Now the "bad economy" is the underlying reason for cutting library budgets. (I didn't really see a great increase in budgets when it was a "good economy", though.)
Two recent stories define the latest "tough times":
1) Don't Rip Up Your Library Card Just Yet, by Jeff Ackerman, in Grass Valley, CA's The Union:
I like a quote in this editorial: "Jails never need to have bake sales to raise money."

2)I just learned that the librarian in the Rapid City Regional Hospital in South Dakota is being 'let go', and asked to create an unmanned digital library before they leave. The librarian is one of the hardest working librarians that I have ever met - taking on new and varied jobs within the health care center; promoting the specific time-saving and patient care-improving information services; eagerly seeking professional education opportunities to keep up with the changing library environment; and delivering on promises made. This health care center example joins the Wall Street Journal and EPA libraries example in causing chills for any librarian anywhere: it doesn't matter how good you are, or how hard you work to be all you can be to the team - city administration, college administration, hospital administration - your library or your position can be eliminated.