OverDrive is working on a project that could ultimately enable the company to convert PDFs and other file formats into the industry-standard EPUB format for ebooks, without significant loss of formatting and functionality, CEO Steve Potash said during his “Crystal Ball” presentation, which concluded the company’s biennial Digipalooza user group conference in Cleveland, OH earlier this month.
In partnership with local nonprofit arts and media organization Brooklyn Information & Culture (BRIC), the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) in July opened a state-of-the art, three-camera television studio in its Coney Island branch. Outfitted with equipment including HD cameras, a TriCaster switcher, a green screen, and professional lighting and audio gear, all provided by BRIC, the studio will serve as a set location for BRIC’s community access television network, as well as a classroom for regularly scheduled, hands-on studio production courses.
The Purposeful Gaming and BHL project recently launched its first two browser-based video games, Smorball and Beanstalk. Both are designed to offer players a fun online diversion while helping the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) enable full-text searching of digitized materials. Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which was awarded in December 2013, the project is exploring how games might be used to entice people to participate in crowdsourcing efforts at libraries and museums.
After years of expressing concern about the potential impact that library lending might have on consumer sales, major publishers have good cause to take another look at the library market for ebooks, according to executives from library ebook distributors OverDrive, 3M, and Baker & Taylor. With consumer sales growth slowing, bolstering institutional sales will likely become more of a priority for major publishers. OverDrive CEO Steve Potash noted that publishers, like all for-profit companies, are always looking for growth, and “there’s still a lot a growth in institutions, and there [are] significant opportunities for growth in education…. If retail is flattening, you have to experiment.”
The Colorado State Library (CSL) is continuing to build out its Library Creation & Learning Centers website, a free online resource where libraries throughout the state and beyond can access interactive technology and customer service training modules for staff, Maker space programming ideas, curated links to digital creation software, and more. While the site currently focuses primarily on tech-related topics, there are plans to expand it to offer resources and training materials for a range of subjects.
Early results from two Knight News Challenge award-funded pilot programs indicate that mobile hotspot lending could help bridge the digital divide in city neighborhoods where broadband adoption is low, and home Internet subscriptions are considered a luxury. A capacity crowd was on hand to hear Luke Swarthout, director of adult education services for the New York Public Library (NYPL) and Michelle Frisque, chief of technology content and innovation for Chicago Public Library (CPL) discuss NYPL’s “Check Out the Internet” and CPL’s “Internet to Go” services during their “A Tale of Two Cities: NYPL and CPL Wi-Fi Lending Projects” presentation.
Librarians should not be afraid to discuss both positive and negative implications of collecting and analyzing patron data, library technology consultant Carson Block said during the Library and Information Technology Association’s (LITA) Top Tech Trends panel during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference on June 28. “We’ve limited ourselves by saying, ‘We don’t want to touch [the topic of data collection] because we might be infringing on patron confidentiality and privacy,’” he said. “I think that’s too simplistic of a view. I think, in fact, we have to embrace looking at data collection to serve our patrons…and protecting confidentiality and privacy. I think we’re the only organization[s] that really care about actually protecting that pile of data.”
Even at large libraries that have staff dedicated to digitization projects, the additional effort needed to enable researchers to extract data from these collections—such as transcribing OCR-resistant text, or adding item-level tags to large collections of images—would be an untenable chore for a library to take on alone. So, in the past half decade, libraries have taken cues from long-running projects, using crowdsourcing as a way not only to outsource work that would be impossible for staff to attempt but also to engage volunteers.
On June 11, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in collaboration with the Congressional Maker Caucus, Maker Media, and Nation of Makers, hosted its first Capitol Hill Maker Faire, featuring a series of panel discussions and an expo open to the public, including members of Congress. Held in conjunction with this year’s National Maker Faire at the University of District of Columbia and the White House National Week of Making, June 12–18, these events indicate the growing interest in our nation’s capital in the Maker movement and its potential implications for education, workforce development, and community building.
Connecticut’s Darien Library last week launched darienlibrary.tv, a new website designed to offer streamlined access to the library’s archive of library-created video content, including recorded author lectures, educational seminars, TechCast “how to” series on consumer technology, reader recommendation presentations, and more. Much of this content was already available online, but on a “hodgepodge” of sites, explained Assistant Director for Innovation and UX John Blyberg.