Thursday, August 31, 2006

Online conference content done right

University of Michigan is one of the partners in Google's mass digitization program. They are a partner, not a supplier: they're not just surrendering their content to the Big G, but also host the digitized books themselves, and do a lot of research into what this means. In march, they held a symposium Scholarship and Libraries in Transition, with speakers such as Clifford Lynch and Tim O'Reilly.

The content is interesting, but I'll leave that for another time. The problems of mass digitization are, unfortunate as it may be, at the moment not yet relevant for most libraries. But we can also learn from the presentation. Now that's the way to do it! Not only are all the talks available in streaming video, but there was also a symposium blog. A mixture of more and less official posts with sometimes lively comments, made during and shortly after the conference, in which the energy of the event comes through. What a huge improvement over a website with powerpoint slides! There is a conversation going on in the blog, giving pointers to which talks to watch.

The last post is three weeks after, officially closing the comments. The blog stays online. Well done.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Being eaten from two sides

The Register has an interview with Colly Meyers of AQA. AQA offers an SMS answer-any-question-for-a-quid service, is apparently a phenonomon in the UK, and makes a decent profit. The interview centers on the 'demise of Google', though it might be a bit early for that, and Andrew Orlowski is always keen to predict the is nigh for the big G - you've got to look through that (not always easy, but worth it with El Reg).

From a library POV, the interesting thing is the service. This is a service which is on our turf! This is the work of the good old reference librarian, and here they are charging a quid and making profit with nine heads aboard.

Two observations. First, this once more establishes that there is a market for information, which includes a segment that is willing to pay good money for quality. Second, why have libraries left this to the market?

It's a wake-up call. We are being eaten, and not just by Google on one end, but on the other as well.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Spring is here!

The end of august 2006. Outside it's raining cats and dogs, inside I've just set up a new blog with the name Library Spring. The irony is hard to ignore.

Why Library Spring? The world of libraries is hardly blossoming. Another name could just as well have been Identity Crisis. But it is all too easy to be cynical, an protective mode to slip into.

Third paragraph already - let me introduce myself. My name is Driek Heesakkers, I work in the library of the University of Amsterdam, and this blog is intended as a work blog. It is not official, by no means, but a way to join the online discussion of the library world. I find myself adding more and more comments in my bookmarks tagged 'library'. The finaly drop was that one day after the opening day of TICER 2006, I met one of the Dutch Librarybloggers, just as I was bubbling over with observations and thoughts. Time for a blog on my thoughts on library innovation.

I have been blogging personally for a long time now (available with a quick google) but mostly avoided work. At the start of this experiment, these barriers will stay up, let's see how it goes.

Finally - why in English? Not just because, in the words of Henk Ellerman, English is an open standard, because the interesting conversations happen there, or because I'm used to it (blogging in Dutch just feels wrong). I like distance it creates with day-to-day routine (to which I hastily have to retreat now).