Public Libraries Matter: And We’re Already Trying to Do More

Last week, David Vinjamuri posted Part II of his two-part series on public libraries. I had some serious criticisms of Part I, so I’m happy to see that he goes some way to redeeming himself this time around.

Why Public Libraries Matter: And How They Can Do More by David Vinjamuri

His essay hits several nails squarely on the head, most especially his vision of libraries as community spaces and central forces in the ecosystem of reading. And he’s correct that libraries must establish larger cooperative communities between disparate systems.

This is not to say, though, that he gets everything right in Part II.
Continue reading “Public Libraries Matter: And We’re Already Trying to Do More”

Data Handling in Electronic Systems – Inspiration for a Paradigm Reassessment

At my library, we’re currently working on a project in conjunction with several other regional knowledge institutions to put online our full collection of historical documents regarding the Civil War in Missouri and Kansas. One piece of functionality we’re creating is a way to visually represent the relationships between people, places, and things within this pool of data. These visualizations are based on a relationship database that we constructed, using a basic semantic structure: “Object A [relationship] Object B” and we can verify this relationship with “Document X”. Thus, for example:

Iskabibble Jones is married to Bridgette Jones and we know this because of information contained in Bridgette’s letter dated …

Only, instead of statements, we represent this all graphically with links to images and documents. It’s a pretty nifty function!

The way we’re building the database for this relationship visualization tool is representative of how online data gets handled in general. It illustrates the fundamental paradigm that has governed computer development from the beginning – and, indeed, the development of mechanized data handling even before the advent of computers.
Continue reading “Data Handling in Electronic Systems – Inspiration for a Paradigm Reassessment”

On Robotic Libraries and Serendipity

The James B. Hunt Jr. Library
The James B. Hunt Jr. Library at NC State University

I just saw this article online today:

Let’s Hope Snøhetta’s New Robotic Library At NC State Isn’t Run By An Evil Super Computer

I think this library is absolutely gorgeous! I really like how peaceful and bright and comfortable it looks inside.

I find this type of robotic technology fascinating. We know that it works – the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago is testament enough to that. Space and storage have been perpetual challenges for libraries for a long, long time. This represents an elegant and cost-effective solution. As one who has long been interested in archival work, I’m excited by the potential this technology has for that field, as well.
Continue reading “On Robotic Libraries and Serendipity”

Collection Development in a Digital Age

One of my current obsessions is the changing nature of our relationship to information. I keep coming back to this topic. We’re currently witnessing the greatest change in how we use and value information since the advent of printing – and maybe even since the invention of writing.

(Yes, I’m being overly dramatic about it but I actually do believe this.)

I’m curious to see how collection development for libraries evolves in the Digital Information Age. Not just in terms of format and access changes, but more essentially – how will the Digital Information Age affect the techniques we use to determine what our patrons need in the first place?
Continue reading “Collection Development in a Digital Age”

Censorship Is Stupid

As is typical with the changing of the year, librarians and watchdog groups take some time to look back and reflect on the past year in censorship. Here are two such articles that I ran across recently:

Censorship drives me insane. It’s stupid. It doesn’t work. It’s never worked.
Continue reading “Censorship Is Stupid”

The Joy of Saying Yes

Last week, I switched into a new job here at the Kansas City Public LibraryDigital User Specialist. As we expand our library services through new technological portals, it’s my responsibility to ensure that these new services and interfaces answer to the needs of our patrons, and that they’re actually usable. I’ll be doing usability testing, creating personas, collecting user feedback, lots of wire-framing. But mostly, I’ll be the one constantly asking the questions:

  • “Does this actually work for our patrons?”
  • “Will this allow us to provide more and better services?”
  • “Is this something our patrons need?”

Moreover, I’ll be the one encouraging all my library co-workers to ask these questions, as well.
Continue reading “The Joy of Saying Yes”

Search Amazon – Go to Your Library

Amazon's Library ExtensionI think this is wonderful! I can’t wait until this extension is available for all browsers…

Browser Extension Encourages Amazon Searchers to Head to Their Library by Matt Ennis (published online by Library Journal on Jan. 2, 2013)

It reminds me of an idea I had when I was in grad school for a location-based mobile app that would integrate nearby library holdings and databases with online search results – so that whatever you’re searching for, you’d see what’s online side-by-side with the resources are close by in the nearest library.