When ebooks or other digital materials are not readily available in libraries, publishers “are missing a key conduit to a market that [they] can’t tap any other way,” Rebecca T. Miller, editorial director for Library Journal and School Library Journal, stated in her opening remarks for the “The Untapped Retail Channel: Public Libraries” panel on Friday, May 30 at the 2014 BookExpo America (BEA) conference in New York. Leaders from top library ebook and streaming media companies weighed in on this issue during an hour-long discussion.
Innovative Interfaces Inc. on May 30 acquired VTLS, developer of the Virtua integrated library system (ILS), VITAL digital asset management system, Chamo Discovery layer, MozGo mobile application, and other library technology solutions. Following Innovative’s acquisition of Polaris on April 1, the move further consolidates the library automation marketplace while expanding Innovative’s global presence and solidifying the company’s position as one of the largest library technology providers in the world.
The Robbins Library in Arlington, MA, is a busy place. Often, all of the computers are in use, and by the summer of 2012, all were just about ready to be retired. Rather than keep to status quo, technology librarian Catherine Kiah, working with intern Brad McKenna, envisioned an expanded wireless service model made possible by three key ingredients, two of which were a risk-tolerant staff and a wireless network upgrade. The third ingredient that made this new service model possible was a relatively new technology for public libraries, a laptop vending machine.
With carefully crafted thank-you speeches and an assemblage of local VIPs, grand opening events demand a certain level of patience and decorum from the curious public who gather to watch. But, of course, things don’t always work that way. On May 1, California’s Fresno County Public Library (FCPL) held the grand opening of its new Sierra Vista branch, a 400-item book and media vending unit installed in a high-traffic area of the Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis. As County Librarian Laurel Prysiazny spoke, a young couple with a child—apparently oblivious both to the ceremonial ribbon in front of them and the presentation going on behind them—walked up to the new machine and started checking something out.
From learning what programs are working for patrons to being able to communicate the value of libraries to legislators and stakeholders more effectively, one thing is becoming more and more clear: having reliable data and the tools to analyze it are among the keys to a successful library system. Data can help to confirm suspicions, prove hypotheses, and offer evidence for the success of library programs. It can also dash expectations or surprise sleeping biases, forcing the rethinking or reinvention of a program that isn’t living up to its potential. Data, analyzed and contextualized, can also make it easier for librarians to tell their stories to legislators and stakeholders when the time comes to make the case for library budgets.
The American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) research library last month hosted the official launch of its new online image database for Digital Special Collections. Begun as a project to digitize 1,000 of the museum’s photos and rare book illustrations, the Digital Special Collections program has evolved into a long-term project that will offer the public free online access to the museum’s research library collection. The new database includes more than 7,000 archival images, including photographs from 19th century scientific expeditions and illustrations from rare books dating back to the 16th century.
Smashwords, the world’s largest distributor of self-published ebooks, on May 20 announced a new partnership with OverDrive that will make more than 200,000 ebooks from 80,000 self-published authors and independent presses available to libraries and their patrons via the OverDrive platform. All titles will be sold as perpetual, non-expiring licenses with no loan caps, and will be made available to patrons under a one ebook, one user model.
Ebooks: OverDrive and Smashwords Announce Distribution Deal; 200,000 Titles by 80,000 Authors Now Available via OverDrive
From Today’s Announcement: OverDrive and Smashwords, the world’s largest distributor of self-published eBooks, today announced that 200,000 self-published titles will be available for public libraries in OverDrive’s global network. [Clip] To streamline collection development, OverDrive and Smashwords are creating curated lists of Smashwords bestsellers and popular genres. Libraries will soon have the option, for example, […]
Innovative Interfaces Inc. will continue selling the Polaris integrated library system (ILS) to new customers and supporting Polaris as a product separate from the company’s Sierra Library Services Platform and Millennium ILS, Innovative CEO Kim Massana told LJ during an interview at the 22nd annual Innovative Users Group (IUG) meeting in Detroit last week. IUG’s more than 1,000 attendees this year included a contingent of dozens of Polaris users, who were greeted with a track of sessions and panels that addressed lingering questions regarding Innovative’s integration plans, updates on the Polaris ILS and the company’s LEAP staff client, and more.
In a move that will help a leading urban library system begin defining its role in the burgeoning field of massive open online courses (MOOCs), the New York Public Library (NYPL) on April 30 announced a partnership with MOOC provider Coursera. Beginning this summer, NYPL will support a selection of Coursera’s online courses by hosting weekly in-person discussion groups at several branches in the Bronx and Manhattan through Coursera’s Learning Hubs program. Neither organization is paying the other as part of the partnership, but NYPL officials note that sharing information regarding participation in these programs will benefit both parties.