A recent study commissioned by the Library of Congress found that, of the more than 11,000 silent films produced by American movie studios between 1912 and 1929, just 14 percent (1,575) survive today in their original domestic release. Another 11 percent are still technically complete, according to the study conducted by film archivist David Pierce, but only in imperfect formats. Some are repatriated foreign release versions that lack the original English subtitles and may have been edited to appeal to foreign audiences, which Pierce compares to imperfect retranslations of novels, where the story remains the same, but nuances may be lost. Others may be preserved on smaller format, 16 or 28 mm film stock, which can negatively impact image quality.
Since the term was coined five years ago, massive open online courses, or MOOCs, have been a subject of much debate in educational circles. In their brief life span, the courses, in which up to many thousands of students can participate, have demonstrated the promise of new technology to democratize education by some and been declared failed experiments by others. MOOC professors, though, say that it’s too early to judge how MOOCs perform, and that after just a few years, even those in the know are still figuring out what MOOCs really are and what shape—or shapes—they’ll take in the future. Whatever MOOCs look like going forward, though, libraries—in the academic and public sphere alike—will play a key role in helping to determine their design and success. In just the few months since we looked in LJ at the MOOC environment (“Massive Open Opportunity,” LJ 5/1/13), the quickly moving field has evolved significantly.
Massive, open, online courses (MOOCs) have dominated the conversation in higher education since their sudden arrival in spring 2012. The MOOC movement is evidence of the profoundly disruptive change that is widely seen as coming to higher education. If there is any unit on a university campus that has survived and thrived on disruptive change, it is the library. Libraries in institutions actively offering MOOCs applied this background to figuring out how to manage intellectual property questions. However, for libraries in universities not offering MOOCs, there seemed to be no role, other than to watch and read about the movement in wonder, amusement, and occasional envy. For the Z. Smith Reynolds Library (ZSR) at Wake Forest University (WFU), however, this was not enough. So when WFU was not contemplating offering any MOOCs in 2012, the library decided to experiment with an open, online course on its own.
While much has been written about the role of academic libraries in supporting massive open online courses (MOOCs), the inclusion of MOOCs in a public library setting is largely unexplored territory. This past summer, the Ridgefield Library included a MOOC as part of its adult summer reading program. Based on this experience, the Ridgefield Library plans to continue as a meet-up destination for MOOCs as part of its mission to be “an intellectual and cultural center” and to support lifelong learning for all ages.
Madison, Wisconsin’s struggling public access TV station, WYOU, has a new lease on life, courtesy Madison Public Library. The station, which has been limping along since a 2010 state law cut its funding, has been welcomed into the new Madison Central Library branch. Library staff and station volunteers described the new partnership as a win-win situation that lets the station eliminate its rent costs and take advantage of the library’s media lab and equipment, while the library gets a batch of potential new volunteers and media teachers with years of experience, and the chance to experiment with serving as an incubator for community-produced media.
When Colorado’s Arapahoe Library District, which serves the Denver area, heard about the opportunity to purchase Google Glass before it was released to the public, the staff jumped on it. It is a good thing they did, because as it turns out, the library staff heard about the Glass Explorer contest, in which you tweeted at Google what you would do with Google Glass using the hashtag #IfIHadGlass, just one day before the deadline.
Back in 1917, two librarians from the Missoula Public Library wanted to bring library service to the remote lumber camps that peppered Montana’s vast mining range. One of them, Ruth Worden, was from a very powerful Missoula family. When she brought the idea to the man in charge of the camps, Kenneth Ross, she didn’t know if it would work—if the lumberjacks would actually use the books—and neither did Ross. In fact, he expected they would not, notes a story in the Missoulian (ow.ly/qmqA0). But Ross felt he couldn’t say no to Worden, so packets of books started to arrive in the camp office in Bonner. A year later, 4,000 books had been checked out—and the case was made.
Here’s an issue about which I’ve been hearing from colleagues quite a lot lately—that of libraries undertaking and carrying out assessment methods and then ignoring or “trumping” the findings by doing what they wanted to do in the first place, but putting a “check mark” next to assessment in their mental (or literal) to do lists, indicating, “yep, did that!” My thought in such cases is: well, no, you didn’t do that!
Like many librarians, Tulsa City-County Library faced a disconnect when it came to providing face-to-face readers’ advisory service. We didn’t always get the opportunity to do so. Most library customers didn’t know they could ask for book suggestions. On the rare occasions when people approached the desk to request “a good book to read,” the responses varied dramatically depending on who was working the desk and how comfortable they felt answering RA questions. We sought ways to reach more readers and improve the quality of the face-to-face RA service we provided. Our answer came in the form of personalized, form-based RA. In 2011, we launched Your Next Great Read. It completely transformed our RA service.
The Shelley-Godwin Archive, a free online resource featuring the digitized manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, will include tools designed to encourage collaborative humanities research, similar to collaborative public projects in the sciences.