Ramblings, citations and "brainwaves" of a college librarian in Toronto. 475 square feet refers to the size of my home, not the size of my office or library.

Buying Films on DVD Via File Download

It looks like content providers are warming up to the idea of selling movies online, whereby the buyer pays, downloads and burns the file to DVD. DRM at its best. Giving us what we want. Like usual the adult industry is first to try the model. Others will follow. I can't wait for the day a faculty memeber requests a film we don't have at my library and I can go buy it online and have it for him or her in a few hours versus waiting days or weeks via snail mail. If only I could get it processed for loan in a few hours...that is another problem entirely.

RFID vs Call Numbers

Library catalogues are relatively antiquated inventory control systems. Items are assigned locations and call numbers with sets of possible status' (signed out, lost, intransit, etc.). What it will not tell you is the item you want is in the sorting area, mis-shelved, or sitting on a table in the computing commons. If we RFID tagged everything, linked "real" item locations to BIB records, we could drastically improve customer service. Everyone has experienced the frustration of an OPAC stating an item is in location A only to find out it is not. OPAC data lacks currency and precision. RFID could change that but thus far I have not seen libraries use RFID to its potential.

Selling Advertising Space on Library Web Sites

Stephen got me thinking again today about why libraries don't try to sell space for advertising on their virtual properties:

"I think that the reason Google and Microsoft are so interested in scholarly research sites is that it attracts the real sweet spot for advertisers. (Advertisers are their real customer after all.) If a site can attract a demographic that is primarily in the 15-30 years old range and those folks are the most likely to get good jobs, have higher incomes and spend more on a wider range of products, then that site can charge more for it's ad clicks. These are the Millennials at this point and are a generation as large as the Boomers. Advertisers salivate at getting to them. It's also why there is so much interest in MySpace and Facebook et al where entire social networks of this group congregate."

We have eyeballs, good demographics, why can't we raise money by selling space on library websites, library catalogues, etc.? It could be little banner ads, click through Flash video ads, etc. Our users are used to seeing ads everywhere they go online, why should libraries be ad-free? You know what would impress me? A federated library search engine that can match ads with keywords searched! Like Google. I'm not arguing for "this information literacy class is brought to you by...", but surely we can make some money with our website, coin badly needed to acquire more electronic resources. Look at all the eyeballs Scholar's Portal has. Consortial gateways have huge numbers of eyeballs. Why should Google and others be raking in all the Ad money, and we are talking huge numbers here...

Library Staff Productivity

Stephen Abram has been talking about, what from my experience is the dirtiest word in all of library land: "productivity". Simply stated, it is the ratio of inputs (time, money, etc) to outputs (services). Ideas like re-engineering existing services to use the least resources possible are jsut plain taboo. Just try to download traditional "librarian responsibilities" to library technicians...or...outsource cataloguing activities...or...close the reference desk to deliver service from reference staff offices. Library management is great at adding experimental projects and initaitives to existing workloads. What ends up happening is that staff look for efficiencies in doing tasks for these projects, which from my experience undermines their success. What should be happening is re-designing how existing services are delivered (frontline and backoffice) especially taking advantage of productivity gains IT makes possible, so that resources (time, money, etc.) are available to innovate whether it is beginning something from scratch or trying to adapt or implement something already tried and tested by others. I tend to disagree with many of the things Stephen says, but he's right on here:

"Among other sectors, the military, commercial enterprises, and governments worked intensely over the past decade moving to more efficient and effective ways of work in order to achieve the transformation of their organizations. They adapted to a Web-centric world with little additional net cash or staff. These sectors lead in e-commerce, e-government, and other transformations...Listening to the leaders out in library land, it feels to me that I am hearing that we’re not being aggressive enough in improving our productivity and ensuring better value for our funders’ and taxpayer dollars."


My buzzword of the week: 'Slivercasting': short digital video content that is easily and cheaply developed and disseminated to a niche audience, often on a regualr basis. Think video podcasts, videoblogs, citizen journalism. Cameras, editing suites, storage space have all gotten cheap and easy to use. Popular vidoeblogs are beginning to generate advertising revenue, given their large audiences. The grumpy old media guard have taken notice.

In terms of libraries, another content stream with deep archival issues. In ten years we can read about a popular slivercast (perhaps in a newspaper archive) but chances are we'll never be able to locate a copy to view.

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