Monday, March 30, 2009

CIL 2009

CIL 2009
Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
Interesting Computers in Libraries so far.

Lee Rainie keynote was good; listening to Kathy Dempsey now.

Follow on Twitter:

My talk, part of a panel session on the Flickr Commons along with some other Common-ers!

Flickr Commons for Libraries & Museums

  • Michelle Springer, Library Of Congress
  • Dr. Joshua M. Greenberg, The New York Public Library
  • Shelley Bernstein, Brooklyn Museum
  • Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Institution Libraries

In 2008, libraries and museums began to offer historical photographs on the photo-sharing Website Flickr to encourage discovery of photo collections with communities that enjoy images, increase interaction with the collections, and extend their reach beyond the institutions’ own website. As part of Flickr’s Commons project, Flickr members were invited to provide tags and comments and enrich the limited information available about these images by performing a bit of history detective work. A year after launch of the Commons, a panel of speakers from the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, Brooklyn Museum, and the New York Public Library share a “look under the hood” at how community input benefitted both their institutions and the users of the collections, the challenges and costs of building and maintaining a “virtual reading room,” and lessons learned as they look toward the future.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oh no, not newspapers again!

Yes, campers, I'm afraid I'm still on the newspaper kick.

No, I'm not a journalist, though I did write for my college newspaper (The Tower, features, general news; apropos of nothing, one of my fellow staffers was none other than Ed Gilespie, now uber-Republican geek) and read All The President's Men ... no, perhaps I'm focused on newspapers as, a co-worker put it, they're the canary in the coal mine of my own profession, librarianship.

So, the latest volley in the "doom and gloom media biz" comes from right here in Washington:

U.S. bill seeks to rescue faltering newspapers

By Thomas Ferraro
Tuesday, March 24, 2009; 3:05 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.

"This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat," said Senator Benjamin Cardin.
I'm a firm and big believer in non and not-for-profits, but somethings just strike me as having to live on their own. What if all your radio news came from NPR (whoops, wait, we're almost there) or your local bookstore when 501(3)c (whoops, mine did that a little while, Chapters, trying to stave off demise, they formed a non-profit to regroup and try and find a new physical space).

Well, whatever.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Newspaper schadenfreude ...

Great quote: "Any schadenfreude comes only from the fact that they had their heads stuck in the sand for so many years rather than embrace the change and ride the wave."


I say, ride the wave or eat the sand!

Comment on article, "New York Keeps Leading The Way (NYT)" in Business Insider by Vancouverite.
Publish Post

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why Twitter?

David Lee King had an interesting blog post about Twitter where he asked his tweets, "why?". Here are the answers:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

When n=Libraries

Before I went to bed on Friday night, I was reading an article from the Saturday Washington Post ... (does that sentence strike you as odd? Is it like the opening line to Orwell's 1984 - "It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen" - the words are right, but something is just off a bit) ...

So, on Friday I was reading - online of course - the Saturday WPost story about the further consolidation of the print edition (Book World gone, Sunday Source, gone but not lamented). Now, it's the Business section (and even more comics, including Zippy the Pinhead). The editor had lots of comforting words to say, but in reality, how long can the traditional print newspaper model really survive? A few weeks ago in conversation (probably when Book World folded), I was saying two years. Now, I'm not so sure ... so as I went to bed I started thinking about this blog post, but when I woke up, there on the Twitter feed was Carl Malamud tweeting Clay Shirky's latest blog post, Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.

Reading the post on my mobile device, I was all "gosh darn it" he's said it all. He hit all the points (Elizabeth Eisenstein, music industry, trying hard, embracing technology, etc.). So, while I'm still thinking about it on my morning walk, I was playing around with Shirky's arguments, in his equation, n=newspapers.

But what about the rest of us? What about the same general arguments where n=x (and x=travel agents, x=airline check in staff, x=stock brokers, x=x)? Well, a lot of those professions have already seen the future.

So, what if n=libraries?

For the past 15 years libraries have been putting up a good fight against the forces that are hitting newspapers, the rest of the publishing industry, book stores, etc. Forces of change in the library profession are trying mightily to move the profession to a safe haven that will keep it away from the forces battering much of the world of media and retail.

It's a hard fight. Many in the profession still like to hide behind the surveys of users that show "we love you". And I agree, they say they love us, but do they know where we are? But as The Shirelles asked, "will you still love me tomorrow?".

Like many radical changes, I fear that the future of libraries will not be decided on a path that follows a long slow curve (up or down - put your money down, I won't offer a suggestion here), but rather one rather be asymptotic. Things are going to look much the same as they have for the past few years and then there will be a tipping point. Things will change. Fast. In a Blink. (yes, I've read Malcolm Gladwell!).

And yes, I still go to the library everyday. And hope for the best ... and yes, I do look at the print edition that comes thumping to my door at 5:30 am each morning, but more often, it's used to catch cat vomit or put under wax paper when making cookies (yes, I use different sections, but with the consolidation, that's going to get harder and harder!).

Last thoughts, from Mr. Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

and so ...

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Discuss among yourselves, and the last one to leave should turn out the lights

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

TELDAP 2009 Group Photo

Originally uploaded by Smithsonian Libraries
The attendees of the TELDAP 2009 gathered on the steps of the meeting building for a group photo.

Not everyone is there though!