We have now returned from Anaheim and the 2012 ALA Annual Conference. It was a great experience-- wonderful weather, great food, beautiful scenery, and the chance to meet so many of our colleagues. We also enjoyed the chance to be reunited with old friends. The library community is a small world; if we didn't already know someone before they arrived at our booth, we often had mutual friends with them.
A fascinating study that I highly recommend to my fellow librarians is Richard E. Sapon-White’s article “Kindles and Kindle E-Books in an Academic Library,” published in the January 2012 (volume 56, number 1) issue of Library Resources & Technical Services.
Everyone is aware of the surge in popularity of Kindles and Kindle e-books. As they are becoming more ubiquitous, it is time that all libraries consider ways to incorporate them into their services and collections, and in turn, for catalogers to provide the most effective access to these emerging literary tools.
Sapon-White’s description of Oregon State University’s six-month pilot project with Kindles preloaded with e-books discusses the difficulties libraries face with proprietary devices such as Kindles and their effects on the practices of collection development, acquisitions, cataloging, and circulation.
OSU’s task force decided to apply full cataloging to each title, providing access through the local catalog and through WorldCat. The titles were housed in the e-readers, which were kept at the circulation desk, so call numbers were unnecessary for physical location purposes. Instead, staff assigned “Kindle eBook” in field 099. This allowed staff and patrons to find all Kindle titles by doing a call number search for “Kindle eBook.” With the records in the local catalog having a location display of “Valley Circulation,” patrons were directed to the circulation desk to obtain the e-readers and their titles.
After discovering that PCC guidelines allowed it, staff also decided to apply provider-neutral e-monograph cataloging procedures to these titles. For copy cataloging, they preferred provider-neutral records, but when none were found, they used records containing “Kindle ed.,” or, if none with that edition statement were found, they used the most complete record. They edited all copy to contain provider-neutral guidelines. The non provider-neutral records that were edited into guideline-compliant records for copy cataloging will likely be merged with provider-neutral records in WorldCat, at which point the local bibliographic records should be replaced.
One quarter of the titles required original cataloging. Perhaps the biggest challenge was that many of the e-books lacked much of the bibliographic data present in print titles, such as edition, publisher data, publication date, or ISBN, among other information. Therefore, the catalogers had to look elsewhere for that data, using AACR2 9.0B1 and RDA rule 220.127.116.11. Unfortunately, that information was not always available, even from Amazon. This presents difficulties for catalogers and scholars who desire more detailed data.
Several of the titles supplied no information on author, edition, or publisher, and no print equivalents could be found in WorldCat. Short records had to be created consisting of title, at least one subject heading, and the generic call number in the 099 field. Because they were of dubious bibliographic value, these short records were not added to WorldCat.
All records were given code “z” for specific material designation in field 007 subfield b, because Kindle e-books differ from conventional print resources as well as other electronic resources; the individual titles are not in a physical format, nor are they remotely accessible. Additionally, all Kindle e-books lack traditional pagination, so all copy and original records were given “1 online resource” unqualified by pagination in the 300 field.
In addition to the effects of Kindle e-books on OSU’s cataloging, the ramifications on collection development, acquisitions, and circulation policies and procedures were also substantial. Oregon State University handled them admirably, devising what I think are excellent ways of managing this new type of resource. In fact, OSU’s procedures resulted in a very wide use of their Kindles, with additional Kindles soon having to be purchased to handle the great interest by patrons.
I recommend this article to my colleagues. If you have Kindle e-books in your library or are considering purchasing them, it is an invaluable case study that contains some excellent insights and ideas put to practical use. More importantly, even if you do not have Kindles in your library, you will be inspired by the adaptability and creative problem solving of OSU’s library staff, traits that we librarians will have to possess if libraries are to remain relevant and valuable in the face of constantly emerging new technologies.
This is an interesting article that was discussed on the Facebook site of Susan Cain, author of the extraordinary book, "Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking." I recommend the article and her book.
It's National Library Week-- a very special week for our very special libraries! Are you taking advantage of our wonderful, free libraries? If not, start this week. There are outstanding librarians eager to serve you and amazing resources just waiting to be used! Go visit your local library and remember all that libraries have done for you.
April is School Library Month. We all need to show our appreciation and support for our school libraries and school librarians. Parents of children in school should take time to get to know their child's school librarian, just as they take time to get to know their child's teachers. This is because school librarians are important teachers; they help our children to understand and appreciate one of our most valuable resources-- our libraries. Knowing how to use libraries and appreciating their importance is just as critical as comprehending mathematics, science, language arts, and all other school subjects. In fact, it is our libraries which lead to further knowledge of all other subjects. Our children will be using them to complete whatever level of formal education they eventually pursue, and they will use them for a lifetime of informal education and entertainment. Let's appreciate our school librarians for being the primary ones to share this gift with our children and remember that they did the same for us when we were children. If you have a career in librarianship, you are doubly indebted to our school libraries and school librarians. Let's make it a great month for them.
Have you ever visited a Web site and spent much more time than you intended just trying to navigate and to find what you wanted? Did you leave feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, lost, and disappointed? Granted, nice graphics (colors, fonts, illustrations, etc.) appeal to the eye, but the sheen soon wears off once you have spent, say, ten, fifteen, or more minutes just trying to find one simple thing; suddenly, the pretty design is not important.
As someone who works for libraries, believes in libraries, and advocates libraries, I decided an appropriate subject for a first blog entry is the impact libraries have had on my life. Because it is impossible to do that subject full justice in a relatively brief blog entry, I present here just a few good memories.
I moved around a lot all of my life, and I had the privilege of enjoying the public library in each place I lived. My fondest memories are of the King County Public Library in the Seattle area, the Richland County Public Library (RCPL) in Columbia, South Carolina, and the Dublin branch of the Oconee Regional Public Library in Georgia. King County has a wonderful collection, and I made extensive use of its vast and varied A/V collection, including compact discs by such artists as Herbie Hancock, James Booker, Thelonious Monk, and Keith Jarrett, as well as the VHS sets "Dr. John Teaches New Orleans Piano" and "How to Play Jazz Piano." I also read "The Hammond Organ: Beauty in the B" for the first time there. It was truly a musician's paradise. I was able to place all of the items on reserve via the Internet; I was then contacted when the items were ready and waiting for me at my local branch. RCPL provided many A/V delights as well, with my personal selections ranging from documentaries on Sweden (home to my ancestors) to a compact disc by the peculiar recording artist Tangerine Dream. And the Oconee Regional Public Library in Dublin, Georgia, brings back memories of giving my first and only piano recital performance, held in one of the conference rooms; checking out every book I could find on movie monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man); and in more recent years, having a very nice place to take my laptop, taking advantage of the high-speed Wi-Fi and wonderful atmosphere to do my work.
Academic libraries have had a major impact on me as well. My first experience with one was with the University of Illinois library system. It was 1986, and the U of I, which I was attending at the time, had the second-largest academic library in the world, which is still true today. It was gigantic and contained almost everything one could ever look for. At that time, I had not yet read the biography "Serpico"; I was walking around then with long, dark hair and a beard, and I was told by numerous people that I looked like Al Pacino in the movie, which piqued my interest in both the movie and the man it portrayed. U of I had at least five copies, all of them with different covers and photographs. Not only did that library have "everything," it had five different editions of "everything." What amazed me just as much was the OPAC. It was 1986, and I had not yet had a real experience with a computer. I found it incredible that I could search that entire, vast collection just by typing in a simple search and then tell the system I wanted a certain item, an item that would then be waiting for me at the circulation desk. For 1986 (or for now, for that matter), it was incredible.
Two other academic libraries, the Russell Library at Georgia College & State University (GCSU) and the Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina, had a great impact on me as well. While working on my bachelor's degree in psychology at GCSU, I became eligible for financial aid through the work-study program. I was excited to find out that there was a work-study opening in the library - not only did I have a love for libraries, but after having spent all of my teenage years working in a lawn mowing business, a paper mill, a carpet mill, and the construction industry, I decided it would be a nice change to work in a building instead of on one.
I never planned to have a professional career in librarianship, but once I started my paraprofessional work, I was hooked. At GCSU, I worked in circulation, interlibrary loan, and technical services. I was amazed at the technology involved in every aspect of my jobs there; once again, it fascinated and captivated me. I could not believe the capabilities. Of course, I decided to pursue an MLIS, which led me to the University of South Carolina and the Thomas Cooper Library. Many a group project was completed in that library, and it was home to us MLIS students.
While working on my MLIS, I worked in technical services at RCPL, which had just built a new main library. It sported a wonderful architectural design and was a true hub and source of pride for the city. It was eventually named "Library of the Year" by Library Journal in 2001. Years later, I returned to RCPL as a reference librarian, allowing me to say that I have worked in every facet of librarianship.
I also remember the beautiful new music library of Columbus State University (CSU), a library that completed construction during my tenure as Head of Cataloging and Periodicals for the CSU library. The music library was CSU's first branch library and had an enormously dedicated colleague as its head. When I began at CSU, there was a massive backlog of A/V materials related to music, a tremendous asset to the music school that was, sadly, sitting dormant and unused. Perhaps my greatest sense of satisfaction there was finding out that these items, which included VHS recordings of performances by music school students and staff, were being widely used as a result of my getting them cataloged and onto the new library's shelves.
What continues to amaze me is all that I was able to find in libraries. If a subject interested me, I could find out all about it with the aid of the library. If a specific item wasn't owned by the library I was in, a dedicated librarian could find a library that did have it, and through interlibrary loan, I could have the item in my hands. In libraries, I found information and support for interests of mine as diverse as Swedish culture; classic boxing; 1970s arts and entertainment; classic horror films; religious studies; nutrition and exercise; and road tests of classic cars.
I have not done this subject justice; this is just a fraction of the influence and impressions libraries have had on me, but I enjoyed every minute of writing about it. Keep in mind that this short blog entry only covers what immediately came off the top of my head - a pretty impressive testament to libraries. School libraries, special libraries, public libraries, academic libraries...they are all enormously important, iconic institutions. I would not be where I am today without them. Writing about them tonight reminded me of just what a privilege it is to serve communities everywhere by working for libraries, for those who use them, and for the wonderful people who work in them. I could go on and on, but it's time to get back to work...working for libraries.