Articles: March 2010 Archives

Ebooks: Are we there yet?

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In the Horizon Report, electronic books are suggested to take off in academia within 2-3 years.  Over the past year, over a half-dozen Libraries have been involved in college pilots of electronic books with mixed results.  Library staff certainly are excited over ebook readers, illustrated by the hovering crowd around the prize drawing for the Nook at this year's Library Technology Conference. 

Two primary obstacles outlined in the Report are availability and quality of illustrations.  Though Amazon has over 30,000 ebooks in the education catalog, that by far does not include all texts that faculty require.  Students would still be carrying around some texts and an ebook reader/ mobile device in the near term.  Where we can play a big role is in course pack reduction.  Informing faculty of the journals we already are paying for and how to properly put the links online for students to access articles to supplement their learning. 

Questions to consider:

  • How do Libraries balance patrons' wants with the proprietary nature of some of the ebook systems? 
  • What are libraries' role in the debate over ebook licenses?  Users cannot resell their material like you can with a physical book.  Or, the fact that Amazon has retracted books from Kindle owners in the past.  
  • Will ebook readers catch on, or will that technology die off as more mobile devices are ebook friendly?

A sample of the ebook articles over the past year:

  • Barsky, E., et. al., Comparing Safari Tech Books Online and Books24x7 E-book Collections: A Case Study from the University of British Columbia Library. Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship no. 56 (Winter 2009)
  • Behler, A. E-Readers in Action. American Libraries v. 40 no. 10 (October 2009) p. 56-9

  • Clark, D. T. Lending Kindle e-book readers: first results from the Texas A&M University project. Collection Building v. 28 no. 4 (2009) p. 146-9

  • Shelburne, W. A. E-book usage in an academic library: User attitudes and behaviors. Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services v. 33 no. 2/3 (2009) p. 59-72

I'm going to be up front and honest with you here my library colleagues...I don't understand augmented reality.  It's one of those concepts that I think I kind of have a grasp on and nod my head a lot at when people mention ("Oh yes, of course, augmented reality"), but if I had to come up with a definition I'd struggle to say more than "it's when reality gets augmented".

Well the Horizon Report helps flesh it out a little--here's their definition:

The concept of blending (augmenting) virtual data -- information, rich media, and even live action --with what we see in the real world, for the purpose of enhancing the information we can perceive with our senses... (p. 21)

And then they provide a nice link to this example:

Realtà Aumentata - Augmented Reality from soryn on Vimeo.

So now I'm thinking I might have a better handle on involves web cameras, phone cameras, or those awesome glasses the guy in the video is wearing (but does it require a bright red  blazer?  I hope so) and matches the image the camera sees to a database of images and then can layer that image with added data? (I think)

Does this sound right?  If it does, than it sure sounds intriguing.

The report also states "This kind of augmented experience especially lends itself to training for specific tasks" (p. 22).  A perfect fit for much of what we teach!

So now time for questions...

1.  Does anyone have a concrete idea of how we could use this emerging technology in library instruction?  Is anyone currently using it?

2.  Is our library (staff workstations, user computers, instruction labs) equipped to use this technology efficiently?

3.  Have I completely misunderstood this technology (a distinct possibility!)?  If so I'd love to be corrected!

Come to the the Information Literacy Collaborative to discuss this and other questions raised by the 2010 Horizon Report on Tuesday, March 30 as part of the Current Issues Coffee Club series. 
The annual Horizon Report starts off by identify key trends that are currently affecting the practice of teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in academia and ranks them according to how significant an impact they are likely to have on education during the next five years.  The very first trend listed in the 2010 report is about the challenge of improving information literacy (though they never actually use that term):

The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making,coaching, and credentialing.  Institutions must consider the unique value that each adds to a world in which information is everywhere.  In such a world, sense-making and the ability to assess the credibility of information are paramount. 
Within the Libraries, we spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get faculty to think of us as resources or partners in helping students acquire these types of skills.  With more and more information available directly online, potentially without the mediation of the library or librarians, libraries increasingly have to be concerned that they are still perceived as relevant. However, I was quite surprised when the Horizon Report went on to suggest that universities themselves are starting to feel threatened: "Universities have always been seen as the gold standard for educational credentialing, but emerging certification programs from other sources are eroding the value of that mission daily." 

Do you think that the University of Minnesota sees itself as competing with outside credentialing entities? How do emerging technologies play into that trend? 

Join the Information Literacy Collaborative to discuss this and other questions raised by the 2010 Horizon Report on Tuesday, March 30 as part of the Current Issues Coffee Club series. 


Google versus China

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How does a society become information literate if they are not presented with all the facts, or have the opportunity to explore a variety of resources?  Dropping the filters that Google previously had on their China domain on March 22 has already sparked controversy in China.  How the government will react is still waiting to be seen.

 In the meantime, hopefully librarians will use the Google debate as an opportunity to discuss information literacy, specifically the first two points:
  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently (What are the implications of government censorship on information and IL? )
For more information on this matter, read Google's blog and Wired

New Alexandria

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alexandria.jpgToward a New Alexandria:Imagining the future of libraries.
The New Republic
March 12, 2010
Lisbet Rausing

Here a few quotes that jumped out at me from this article. I wish there was a bit more about the use/teaching in addition to the ideas on the collection itself.

"To do research, only one in a hundred American college students turn first to their university catalogue. Over 80 percent turn first to Google."

"Scholars have traditionally gated and protected knowledge, yet also shared and distributed it in libraries, schools, and universities. We have stood for a republic of learning that is wider than the ivory tower, and now is the time to do so again. We must stand up, as the Swedes say, for folkbildningsidealet, that profoundly democratic vision of universal learning and education."

"We must first understand that the nature of the library is changing."

"The obstacles to a true and electronic Reformation are real, but perhaps also caused by the continuation of "business as usual," perhaps ultimately founded in the mental difficult that older folk have imaginatively re-drawing work practices, as well as organizational and legal "silos." Remember Henry Ford's comment: "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse carriage."

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Articles category from March 2010.

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