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Blog posts from February 2009

A Pre-OPAL Chat with Marshall Breeding

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 27, 2009 - 11:47am

If you are in the library technology world, or even if you just brush up against it, you've probably heard of Marshall Breeding. Marshall is the is the Director for Innovative Technologies and Research for the Jean and Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University. A prolific writer, Marshall has authored six issues of Library Technology Reports, is a contributing editor for Smart Libraries Newsletter, a columnist for Computers in Libraries and has written dozens of articles on library technology trends. A regular on the library conference circuit, Breeding frequently speaks at Computers in Libraries, Internet Librarian, and other professional gatherings throughout the United States and internationally.

We're excited to spread the word that Marshall will be giving a talk online via OPAL that will take place next Thursday at 2 p.m. You can join Marshall for what's being described as "an informal conversation about the promise, trends, and challenges of next generation library catalogs," at the ALA OPAL 100 Room.

We were lucky enough to get an exclusive preview from Marshall himself. Read More »

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Implementing Second Life: Ideas, Challenges and Innovations

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 25, 2009 - 10:50am

We're thrilled to bring you this month's issue of Library Technology Reports, "Implementing Second Life: Ideas, Challenges and Innovations" by Joe Sanchez. For those of you that don't know Joe, he is a virtual world pioneer and an innovator in the use of Second Life for educational purposes. Joe is a PhD candidate at the School of Information at the University of Texas in Austin, where he uses Second Life as part of his lesson plan for LIS students. 

This issue of Library Technology Reports traces the history of virtual worlds to their origin as collaborative vehicles for interactive gameplay. Read More »

Netbooks: a new portable computing solution?

Submitted by Jason Griffey on February 24, 2009 - 8:56am

At my place of work, we are considering circulating so-called netbooks to our students. This would be done initially alongside traditional laptops, but with the possibility of moving the majority of our portable computers to netbooks. In thinking about moving this direction, I've been looking at a lot of these machines, and realizing that there may be a good number of libraries that haven't been watching the rise of this new platform. So I thought I'd take just a few paragraphs to try and explain why these machines are popular and what options are available.

The very term "netbook" is currently under some scrutiny, but it has come to refer to a class of small, portable computers with certain characteristics. These machines have a smaller-than-notebook screen, normally 10-11 inches or under (most notebooks come in a set of standard sizes; 13, 15, or 17 inches). Netbooks tend to use specific types of processors designed for low cost and efficient performance, not for pure speed and efficient processing like the processors you find in standard notebooks. They also tend to have minimal amounts of memory and disk space, often with 1 megabyte of less of RAM. Many of them ship with solid state hard drives that only have 4 or 8 gigabytes of space. The good news about this is that, thanks to Moore's Law, even older, slower, cheaper processors are almost always capable of handling most common computer tasks these days. Read More »

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SOLINET Executive Director Discusses SOLINET-PALINET Merger

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 23, 2009 - 9:38am

Earlier this month, regional library cooperatives SOLINET and PALINET finalized and approved plans to merge. PALINET served libraries throughout the mid-atlantic and SOLINET was based on the southeast, so the new combined organization (to be named Lyrasis) will be one of the largest and most influential library cooperatives in the country.

SOLINET's executive director Kate Nevins was kind enough to agree to an e-mail interview with us. She helps explain how this merger came to fruition, and what it will mean in terms of service, technology and the reach of the new organization. Read More »

Help Build a New School Library

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 19, 2009 - 11:03am

Ask and ye shall receive. Not 24 hours after I lamented our challenges in covering school libraries, I received an e-mail from an employee at a private, K-12 school in New Jersey:

I am running a non-profit private school and I need some help in setting up my library. The main help that I need is to find out what kind of software I should be buying to launch the library. What initial things do I need? We have at least 1,500 Books and we want them to circulate to the students.

Initially, I wasn't sure how this question ended up being sent to us. I felt unqualified to answer and wanted to refer the question to someone an "expert". Then something occurred to me--I can ask the several thousand experts who read this blog! If you have questions about setting up a library like this school administrator does, who better to ask than an open forum of experts?


Read More »

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School Library Technology in the New York Times

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 17, 2009 - 11:29am

Much of the discussion on our blog centers around public and academic libraries, and we often neglect an extremely vital player in the library technology world--school libraries. School librarians are, in many respects, the gatekeepers of library technology. They help teach basic technology skills, particularly library technology skills to our future public and academic library patrons (and employees). They interact with younger users of this new technology and work hands-on to make these technologies practical learning tools. Because they work with these young student users, school librarians can provide insight into the application of these technologies that librarians who work primarily with adults cannot.

I was thrilled to see this article in Sunday's New York Times, which goes a long way towards providing some of the coverage we haven't been able to. Read More »


Submitted by Tom Peters on February 13, 2009 - 9:09am

On Monday, February 9, 2009 at approximately 2:18 p.m. Central Standard Time I developed a bad case of Kindlekrankheit – a yearning and burning to own a Kindle portable ebook reader from Amazon.  It began the moment I read the technical specifications and watched the promotional videos for the new Kindle 2, which will begin shipping Feb. 24th.  Reading for the past 15 months about Kindle 1 – the older sister – had filled me with some respect and hope for the Kindle family, but no outright love.  I even blogged about the Kindle 1 back in November 2007.  Now I’m smitten. Read More »

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How Green Will 2009 Be for Libraries?

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 12, 2009 - 12:01pm

It may not be Earth day yet, but there has been some environmental discussion in the library world lately. The excitement over the unveiling of Kindle 2.0 has led to a lot of discussion about e-readers as the green alternative to paper-based reading. February's issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter will contain an article by Tom Peters called "How Green is my Library?". Read More »

Open Source Open Letter to Obama

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 10, 2009 - 10:30am

A group of prominent software vendors have signed on to an open letter to President Obama encouraging him to push for the adoption of open source software by government agencies.

There is a lot of excitement about the new President, and I share the sentiment of the authors of this letter--it is extremely encouraging that the President has emphasized the importance of science and technology throughout his campaign and in his innaugural address. Read More »

Update: Broadband Provisions Removed from the Stimulus; Debate not Over Yet

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 9, 2009 - 9:34am

Despite some valiant efforts by librarians and other tech crusaders, money allocated for contributing to America's broadband infrastructure has been removed from the stimulus bill. Read More »

Debate Over Broadband in Stimulus Package

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 6, 2009 - 11:30am

Library Stuff posted this AP article earlier today. While I cannot predict what might happen two an investment in Broadband during a period of extreme economic turbulence, assuming that the economy does eventually recover, there is absolutely no question that broadband demand is going to continue to increase at a rapid pace. Read More »

Amazon Expands into Gaming

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 5, 2009 - 10:50am

The economy may not be growing, but Amazon certainly is. Amazon's reach now extends to the gaming world, as they launched a new retail site aimed at "casual" gamers that will allow users to download games at less than ten dollars each. According to CNET:

The service--currently PC-only--is sure to put Amazon in competition with retailers and renters of physical games. At this point, particularly given the current economic conditions, it doesn't seem likely that Amazon will be taking patrons who use their libraries for gaming and gaming resources away from us. Still, Amazon has changed the equation yet again with this new site. Read More »

Where is Library Technology in the Stimulus?

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 4, 2009 - 3:54pm

With the stimulus debate heating up in Washington, librarians are wondering where (if anywhere) we fit in to the economic recovery plan. David Bigwood at Catablogging raised the question yesterday, and our own Jenny Levine pointed out that our Washington office is on the case.

But what about Library Technology specifically?

  Read More »

They're Just Tools: Enhancing our work with Technology

Submitted by Michael Stephens on February 4, 2009 - 9:03am

I really enjoyed ALA Midwinter. Touching down in 70 degree weather on Wednesday was a treat and participating in various activities with colleagues and folks who I admire is a great way to spend a few days in the Mile High City.

Last summer, I wrote about the use of Twitter at Annual. This time around everything seemed even more connected and accessible. I'm very impressed with what the LITA folks did with Top Tech trends. I made connections, followed meetings and got to chime in on various issues via my Mac and my iPhone.Other folks participated from afar. Read More »

Electronic Media Increases Depression In Teens?

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 3, 2009 - 2:21pm

I came across this article yesterday. It cites a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry Journal that found a link between teenage video game use and adult depression.

I'm not a psychiatrist, and I think if your teenage daughter or son is consuming 5.68 hours of electronic media per day, you should probably be encouraging them to read a book or go exercise. Still, I feel that I can't go without pointing out the huge elephant in the room that is not addressed by this article or by the study:

Assuming that the findings of the report are true (for the record, I don't assume that, personally), isn't it likely that the positive aspects of electronic media consumption outweigh these negative effects? Read More »

Life at the Speed of Twitter

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 3, 2009 - 9:58am

I mentioned yesterday that ALA TechSource has started to use Twitter as a way to expand our coverage. It didn't take long for one of the fundamental facts about life on Twitter to emerge: Twitter is a fantastic tool for communication, but that communication is a double-edged sword.

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Virtual Participation on a Shoestring - LITA Rocks the House!

Submitted by Cindi Trainor on February 2, 2009 - 10:12am

My table at the LITA Town Hall meetingMy original intention was to write about LITA's Top Technology Trends Round Table at the recent ALA Midwinter meeting in Denver and our (I'm on the committee) integration of technologies intended to make the session available to remote viewers and engage our in-person audience, then I went to the LITA Town Hall meeting and sat at a table of the most amazing people who, working together, set up many different ways to share the content of the meeting with those not in the room as well as integrate comments from those watching from afar.

The TopTech Round Table has been written up very well by Library Journal bloggers Josh Hadro (Part 1  and Part 2) and Roy Tennant (also a TopTech Trendster) and at the AL inside scoop; I won't recap here. During the weeks leading up to the conference, several TTT committee members tested the live blogging freely available from coveritlive, its twitter integration, media uploading, simple reader polls, and comment moderation. The session's hashtag, #ttt09 was also aggregated into the LITA & BIGWIG Friendfeed room. We were nothing if not prepared. The final stroke of luck was the unwavering wireless connectivity in the room; without it, there is no way that we would have been able to upload photos and stream live video of the session.

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ALA TechSource on Twitter

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on February 2, 2009 - 1:32am

With the constant changes, twists, and turns that come with Web 2.0 Technology, it can sometimes be hard for us to figure out where, when and how to establish our presence when a potential platform comes along. That being said, we've finally begun to use Twitter as a way to expand our ongoing coverage of library technology and the library tech blogosphere. Read More »