Libraries Fight Publishers In Ebook Limitations

October 17, 2019

Public libraries are an equalizing tool for people who do not have access to technology, books, and other materials that come with higher incomes. Unlike academic and textbook publishers, popular book publishers have had working relationships with libraries for decades. One of the biggest publishing houses in the United States might bring that to an end if they instill limitations on ebooks. The Stranger shares one library’s story against publisher in, “Seattle Public Library ‘Denounces’ Publisher’s New E-Book Policy.”

Come November 1, 2019, Macmillan plans to only sell one digital copy of newly released ebooks for half price. Libraries will also be forced to wait two months before they can buy more copies and that will be at the full retail price. Digital ebooks sell for $60, but are $30 for many libraries due to their non-profit status.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent’s reasoning makes sense from a company trying to make a profit:

“The rationale behind this move, according to a draft of a memo to authors written by Macmillan CEO John Sargent, is “to balance the great importance of libraries with the value of [an author’s] work.” Sargent argues that library lending is “cannibalizing sales” of e-books. He thinks the embargo will help the e-books sell better online, and claims to have data proving that the publisher makes far less on “library reads” than they they do on “retail reads.””

Librarians speak the truth about the issue, because they are in the trenches where the action takes place. Libraries act as free PR for publishers and assist them in selling books with the profits going directly to the publishers, not libraries. Libraries also pay for ebooks than physical copies, despite it being cheaper to release ebooks.

This is going to hurt people with lower incomes, because they use libraries to get books they otherwise would not be able to afford.

The libraries, as always, will bear the brunt of this decision, because the general public does not understand or know about lending agreements between libraries and publishers. Authors could get bad reputations as well.

The number of people using ebooks and audiobooks has dramatically increased not only for the Seattle Public Library, but for libraries across the nation. Libraries have collected data that proves their circulating collections, physical and digital, do increase sales and boosts readership.

Libraries will also spend money, because of the products and services they offer people. If the price of ebooks go up, they will be forced to limit their collection’s holdings which will decrease circulation and the amount of people who visit. It would also lead to a decrease in readership and even book sales.

With an ever increasing cost of living, increasing the price for luxury goods like books will do more damage than boost sales. As a public institution, libraries have a good reputation and will give Macmillan a run for their pages.

Whitney Grace, MLS, October 17, 2019

De-Archiving: Where Is the Money to Deliver Digital Beef?

February 25, 2018

I read “De-Archiving: What Is It and Who’s Doing It?” I don’t want to dig into the logical weeds of the essay. Let’s look at one passage I highlighted.

As the cost of hot storage continues to drop, economics work in favor of taking more and more of their stored material and putting it online. Millions of physical documents, films, recordings, photographs, and historical data are being converted to online digital assets every year. Soon, anything that was worth saving will also be worth putting online. Tomorrow’s warehouse will be a data center filled with spinning disks that safely store any valuable data – even if it has to be converted to a digital format first. “De-archiving” will be a new vocab word for enterprises and individuals everywhere – and everyone will be doing it in the near future.

My hunch is that the thought leader who wrote the phrase “anything that was worth saving will be worth putting online” has not checked out the holdings of the Library of Congress. The American Memory project, on which I worked, represents a miniscule percentage of the non text information the LoC has. Toss in text, boxes of manuscripts, and artifacts (3D imaging and indexing). The amount of money required to convert and index the content might stretch the US budget which seems to wobble around with continuing resolutions.

Big ideas are great. Reality may not be as great. Movies which can disintegrate during conversion? Yeah, right. Easy. Economical.

Stephen E Arnold, February 25, 2018

Millennials Want to Keep Libraries

September 22, 2017

Many people think that libraries are obsolete and are only for senior citizens who want to read old paperbacks.  The Pew Research Center says otherwise in the article, “Most Americans-Especially Millennials-Say Libraries Can Help Them Find Reliable, Trustworthy Information.”

Sensationalism in the news is not new, but it has reached extraordinary new heights with the Internet and mass information consumption.  In order to gain audiences, news outlets (if some of them can be called that) are doing anything they can and this has lead to an outbreak of fake news.

The Pew Research Center conducted a test to see if adults would like to be taught how to recognize fake information and discovered that 61% said they would.  They also discovered that 78% of adults feel that libraries can help them find trustworthy information.  An even more amazing fact is that Millennials are the biggest supporters for libraries.

A large majority of Millennials (87%) say the library helps them find information that is trustworthy and reliable, compared with 74% of Baby Boomers (ages 52 to 70) who say the same. More than eight-in-ten Millennials (85%) credit libraries with helping them learn new things, compared with 72% of Boomers. And just under two-thirds (63%) of Millennials say the library helps them get information that assists with decisions they have to make, compared with 55% of Boomers.

People also use the libraries to receive technology training and gain confidence in these skills.  Other interesting facts are that women are more likely than men to say that libraries help them find reliable information.  Hispanic people also love the library and see it as an essential tool to cope with the busy world.  Also, those without a high school diploma say that libraries help them in more than one way.

Libraries are far from obsolete.  Libraries are epicenters for technology training and finding reliable and trustworthy information in world hooked on sensationalism.

Whitney Grace, September 22, 2015

 

How to Quantify Culture? Counting the Bookstores and Libraries Is a Start

February 7, 2017

The article titled The Best Cities in the World for Book Lovers on Quartz conveys the data collected by the World Cities Culture Forum. That organization works to facilitate research and promote cultural endeavors around the world. And what could be a better measure of a city’s culture than its books? The article explains how the data collection works,

Led by the London mayor’s office and organized by UK consulting company Bop, the forum asks its partner cities to self-report on cultural institutions and consumption, including where people can get books. Over the past two years, 18 cities have reported how many bookstores they have, and 20 have reported on their public libraries. Hong Kong leads the pack with 21 bookshops per 100,000 people, though last time Buenos Aires sent in its count, in 2013, it was the leader, with 25.

New York sits comfortably in sixth place, but London, surprisingly, is near the bottom of the ranking with roughly 360 bookstores. Another measure the WCCF uses is libraries per capita. Edinburgh of all places surges to the top without any competition. New York is the only US city to even make the cut with an embarrassing 2.5 libraries per 100K people. By contrast, Edinburgh has 60.5 per 100K people. What this analysis misses out on is the size and beauty of some of the bookstores and libraries of global cities. To bask in these images, visit Bookshelf Porn or this Mental Floss ranking of the top 7 gorgeous bookstores.

Chelsea Kerwin, February 7, 2017

Obey the Almighty Library Laws

January 23, 2017

Recently I was speaking with someone and the conversation turned to libraries.  I complimented the library’s collection in his hometown and he asked, “You mean they still have a library?” This response told me a couple things: one, that this person was not a reader and two, did not know the value of a library.  The Lucidea blog discussed how “Do The Original 5 Laws Of Library Science Hold Up In A Digital World?” and apparently they still do.

S.R. Ranganathan wrote five principles of library science before computers dominated information and research in 1931.  The post examines how the laws are still relevant.  The first law states that books are meant to be used, meaning that information is meant to be used and shared.  The biggest point of this rule is accessibility, which is extremely relevant.  The second laws states, “Every reader his/her book,” meaning that libraries serve diverse groups and deliver non-biased services.  That still fits considering the expansion of the knowledge dissemination and how many people access it.

The third law is also still important:

Dr. Ranganathan believed that a library system must devise and offer many methods to “ensure that each item finds its appropriate reader”. The third law, “every book his/her reader,” can be interpreted to mean that every knowledge resource is useful to an individual or individuals, no matter how specialized and no matter how small the audience may be. Library science was, and arguably still is, at the forefront of using computers to make information accessible.

The fourth law is “save time for the reader” and it refers to being able to find and access information quickly and easily.  Search engines anyone?  Finally, the fifth law states that “the library is a growing organism.”  It is easy to interpret this law.  As technology and information access changes, the library must constantly evolve to serve people and help them harness the information.

The wording is a little outdated, but the five laws are still important.  However, we need to also consider how people have changed in regards to using the library as well.

Whitney Grace, January 23, 2017

The Robots Are Not Taking over Libraries

December 14, 2016

I once watched a Japanese anime that featured a robot working in a library.  The robot shelved, straightened, and maintained order of the books by running on a track that circumnavigated all the shelves in the building.  The anime took place in a near-future Japan, when all paper documents were rendered obsolete.  While we are a long way off from having robots in public libraries (budget constraints and cuts), there is a common belief that libraries are obsolete as well.

Libraries are the furthest thing from being obsolete, but robots have apparently gained enough artificial intelligence to find lost books, however.  Popsci shares the story in “Robo Librarian Tracks Down Misplaced Book.”  It explains a situation that librarians hate to deal with: people misplacing books on shelves instead of letting the experts put them back.  Libraries rely on books being in precise order and if they are in the wrong place, they are as good as lost.  Fancy libraries, like a research library at the University of Chicago, have automated the process, but it is too expensive and unrealistic to deploy.  There is another option:

A*STAR roboticists have created an autonomous shelf-scanning robot called AuRoSS that can tell which books are missing or out of place. Many libraries have already begun putting RFID tags on books, but these typically must be scanned with hand-held devices. AuRoSS uses a robotic arm and RFID scanner to catalogue book locations, and uses laser-guided navigation to wheel around unfamiliar bookshelves. AuRoSS can be programmed to scan the library shelves at night and instruct librarians how to get the books back in order when they arrive in the morning.

Manual labor is still needed to put the books in order after the robot does its work at night.   But what happens when someone needs help with research, finding an obscure citation, evaluating information, and even using the Internet correctly?  Yes, librarians are still needed.  Who else is going to interpret data, guide research, guard humanity’s knowledge?

Whitney Grace, December 14, 2016

A Literary Magazine by a Machine?

October 14, 2016

Literary magazines are a great way to read short stories, the latest poetry, and other compelling pieces by a variety of authors.  What if those authors are machines?  CuratedAI is the first literary magazine written by machines for human readers.  Computers are presented as sterile, uncreative items, but technology programmed with machine learning and content curation can actually write some decent pieces.

Here is the magazine’s mission statement:

“CuratedAI is a literary magazine with a twist– all stories and poems are generated by machines using the tricks of the Artificial Intelligence trade. Editing, for now, is still the domain of us humans, but we aim to keep our touch as light as possible.”

Poetry is a subjective literary form and perhaps the most expressive.  It allows writers to turn words into art and stray away from standard language rules.  In other words, it is the perfect form for computers.  They insert adjectives wherever the algorithm states and the sentences do not always make sense.

Prose, on the other mouse, is not its best form.  The stories read like a bad Internet translation from Japanese to English.  It will be some time before computers are writing comprehensible novels, at least for some of them.   Machine learning was used in Japan for a novel writing contest and the machine that wrote the book, actually won a prize.   So machine cans write prize-winning literature.

However, no one can program imagination…not yet anyway.

Whitney Grace, October 14, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Automated Library Robot

August 11, 2016

Libraries have evolved from centers that allow people to borrow books and conduct research to a one-stop shop for Internet usage.  People love to say that libraries are useless and only archive outmoded knowledge, but they still provide useful services for people and cannot be easily replicated with a machine.  Science Daily shares that “High-Tech Librarian Knows Its Books” and relates how robotics are entering libraries.

No, an automated machine is not replacing librarians, but one of the biggest problems that libraries face are disorderly books. It is the bane of libraries everywhere and it makes librarians want to weep when a clean, orderly shelf is messed up within minutes by a lackadaisical hands.  It takes a lot of hours and staff to keep shelves in order, time that could be better spent doing something else:

“At A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research, researchers Renjun Li, Zhiyong Huang, Ernest Kurniawan, and Chin Keong Ho are designing robots that can relieve librarians of many menial tasks, while enhancing searching and sorting of books. Their latest project is an autonomous robotic shelf scanning (AuRoSS) platform that can self-navigate through libraries at night, scanning RFID tags to produce reports on missing and out-of-sequence books.”

Taking away this task will save some time and even locate missing materials with (perhaps) more accuracy than a human.  Robots will not be destroying this sacred institution of knowledge, only improving it.  Budget crunches are a bigger problem for libraries than being replaced by robots.

 

Whitney Grace, August 11, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden /Dark Web meet up on August 23, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233019199/

 

Library Search and Survival

July 29, 2016

I read “Library Systems Report 2016.” Interesting round up of niche player companies. The focus is upon library systems. This is today’s equivalent of the card catalogs I used when I was a wee lad in central Illinois.

Three points jumped out at me:

  • Most of the companies mentioned in the report are unknown outside of the library market. That’s okay. One can make a great deal of money serving niche markets. The takeaway for me was the technologies referenced struck me as decidedly 1990s-ish. There are no Palantir Technologies in this collection of “high tech” leaders.
  • The industry, which strikes me as small, compared with Pokémon Go is consolidating. I have no problem with this, but it suggests that library funding may be further constrained. With fewer libraries, there will be fewer customers; therefore, only the “big” will survive. MBAs threaten MLSs it seems.
  • Open source software and Web based and cloud solutions are beginning to have an impact. As I said, 1990s-ish thinking perhaps.

This quote sums up how one of the big dogs approaches the financial challenges it faces:

EBSCO Information Services stands as one of the major forces in the library technology sector, despite not offering it own comprehensive management product.

Unlike Google or Facebook, EBSCO, a company once known for making three ring binders, wants to be everyone’s connectivity pal.

Which of these vendors will become a billion dollar company? Which library start up will be the next big thing on Shark Tank?

I think I know the answer to these questions. Do you?

Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2016

Avast: Pirate Libraries

July 26, 2016

They are called “pirate libraries,” but one would be better-served envisioning Robin Hood than Blackbeard.  Atlas Obscura takes a look at these floaters of scientific-journal copyrights in, “The Rise of Pirate Libraries.” These are not physical libraries, but virtual ones, where researchers and other curious folks can study articles otherwise accessible only through expensive scientific journal paywalls. Reporter Sarah Laskow writes:

“The creators of these repositories are a small group who try to keep a low profile, since distributing copyrighted material in this way is illegal. Many of them are academics. The largest pirate libraries have come from Russia’s cultural orbit, but the documents they collect are used by people around the world, in countries both wealthy and poor. Pirate libraries have become so popular that in 2015, Elsevier, one of the largest academic publishers in America, went to court to try to shut down two of the most popular, Sci-Hub and Library Genesis.

“These libraries, Elsevier alleged, cost the company millions of dollars in lost profits. But the people who run and support pirate libraries argue that they’re filling a market gap, providing access to information to researchers around the world who wouldn’t have the resources to obtain these materials any other way.”

The development of these illicit repositories traces back to Russia and its surrounds, where academics had a long history of secretly sharing documents under the repressive Soviet Union.  In the 1990s, this tradition began to move online; one of the first pirate-library websites was Lib.Ru. Since then, illegally shared knowledge from more parts of the world has been made available, particularly from Western publishers and universities. Furthermore, the speed with which materials make it online has increased considerably.

Which is more worthy: protecting the stranglehold academic journals have managed to legally establish, and profit from, on research and other information? Or allowing people who possess great curiosity, but who lack deep pockets, to access the latest research? The scholarly pirates have made their choice.

 

 

Cynthia Murrell, July 26, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on July 26, 2016. Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx.

 

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