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Tired out librarian

August 22, 2009
© Randy Faris/Corbis

© Randy Faris/Corbis

I’ve been pretty busy lately. I guess to say that I have been neglecting this blog would be stating the obvious. I haven’t even got the time to keep up with my readings – both for leisure and work. When I logged into my google reader recently, I almost fainted – more than 1,000 unread items. Too many for them to keep count.


The State of Book Publishing

June 20, 2009
Mother with Baby Using a Laptop © Somos Images/Corbis
Mother with Baby Using a Laptop
© Somos Images/Corbis

Is book publishing a dying trade? Not so, according to Francine Fialkoff, Editor-in-Chief of Library Journal. In an editorial piece titled The Book Is Not Dead, Fialkoff writes about the BookExpo America (BEA) in New York City and the future of publishing.

I found something written about Scribd interesting:

Although Scribd may be disintermediating the publisher by bringing the reader and writer together, many publishers have begun to work with the company, taking a page from the music industry’s failure to see the future in online content sharing and social media. Scribd taps into a whole reading community of writers, too.

She concludes that “As librarians, you already know that it’s the content, not the container, that counts.”

It is interesting to note that Scribd, often looked upon as the equivalent of Youtube for documents, allows authors or publishers to upload their writing and “set their own price for their work and keep 80 percent of the revenue“, according to an article in The New York Times. This gives them more control. And just last week, publisher Simon & Schuster agreed to sell digital copies of its books on Scribd at 20% off the list price. Read about it here.

So, what is the future of reading and publishing?

Ann Michael writes an insightful entry on Publishing for the Google Generation, noting that

Our habits and expectations concerning information have changed and continue to change as a result of Google, YouTube, Twitter, and other applications that teach us to interact with information differently than we have in the past.

In Clive Thompson on the Future of Reading in a Digital World, Thompson tackles the question “Can books survive in this Facebooked, ADD, multichannel universe?” His answer is yes, by adapting to the way people are coming to the written word. He highlights 2 new technology, not so much technology but 2.0 type applications? – CommentPress and BookGlutton. Read the fulltext here.

Sokal Affair via Bentham Journal

June 13, 2009
© Leah Warkentin/Design Pics/Corbis

© Leah Warkentin/Design Pics/Corbis

Philip Davis, Cornell University Librarian, submitted a nonsensical, albeit grammatically correct, paper created with SCIge which was accepted for publication by Bentham Science journals. This reminds one of the Sokal Hoax. Pretty scandalous, if you ask me. What with the recent scandal of a certain major publisher, what is becoming of this publishing trade??

Read about it here and here.

Will Twitter Change the Way We Live?

June 7, 2009

Image ©

Came across an article about Twitter on by Steven Johnson – How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live.

I find a line he says interesting:

In short, the most fascinating thing about Twitter is not what it’s doing to us. It’s what we’re doing to it.

Besides using it to inform others about real time about “[your] choice of breakfast cereal”, people have found many different uses of the new technology. I remember reading that the hostages in the Oberoi Hotel used Twitter to stay in contact and update family and friends outside.

In his article, Johnson talks about a conference he attended in Manhattan where participants post their commentary on Twitter.

Injecting Twitter into that conversation fundamentally changed the rules of engagement. It added a second layer of discussion and brought a wider audience into what would have been a private exchange. And it gave the event an afterlife on the Web. Yes, it was built entirely out of 140-character messages, but the sum total of those tweets added up to something truly substantive, like a suspension bridge made of pebbles.

Their exchange can be found here.

In schools,  teachers have been using Twitter in the class. Read about it here.

How are libraries using Twitter? Here’s a Library 2.0 example 🙂

Bing it on

June 4, 2009

Search engine war has started. Microsoft has rolled out it’s replacement for Live search – Bing. I’ve used it and it seems quite good. But breaking the Google habit is going to be hard. But I’ll have to, since I’ll have to start a new course on search engines and deep web search soon.

Read ZDNetAsia’s article on this and PC World’s comparison of Bing, Google and Yahoo.


Libraries of the future

May 26, 2009
Image ©

Image ©

It’s not really about the library that I’m working in, although we are going through some renovations at the moment. But that would just be physical and cosmetic changes to the library, not enough to make it a “library of the future”, at least I don’t think so. We don’t have the money for that, unfortunately. But still, I think we are still a lot better than many other libraries out there, so shouldn’t complain. Should instead work on how to roll out information literacy programmes to students to deal with the changes in the way information is produced and digested.

When the future comes, will there even such a thing as a library? Or would it have disappeared from our vocabulary, as suggested by Megan Lane of BBC some years back? We’ll just have to see.

Anyway, back to IL, which I think is really a big issue now with the Google generation, there’s an article written by Peter Godwin on “Information Literacy sans frontieres”. It is an opinion piece that he wrote for JISC. The title really sounds interesting; brings to mind Medecins Sans Frontiers.

The State of Scholarly Publishing

May 23, 2009

I wonder about the state of scholarly publication, after reading about the Elsevier scandal. It’s not that I don’t know that such things do happen. But to know that it happens for a publisher like Elsevier, it’s just really scary. I’m really wondering the state of scholarly communication.

Anyway, a new book on the state of scholarly publishing:

The State of Scholarly Pubishing

The State of Scholarly Pubishing

The State of Scholarly Publishing: Challenges and Opportunities

by Albert N. Greco, Editor
ISBN: 978-1-4128-1058-6
Pages: 292
Publication Date: 06/30/09
Binding: Paper / Transaction Publishers.

Summary from publisher:
For decades, university presses and other scholarly and professional publishers in the United States played a pivotal role in the transmission of scholarly knowledge. Their books and journals became the “gold standard” in many academic fi elds for tenure, promotion, and merit pay.

Their basic business model was successful, since this diverse collection of presses had a unique value proposition. They dominated the scholarly publishing field with preeminent sales in three major markets or channels of distribution: libraries and institutions; college and graduate school adoptions; and general readers (i.e., sales to general retailers).

Yet this insulated world changed abruptly in the late 1990s. What happened? This book contains a superb series of articles originally published in The Journal of Scholarly Publishing, by some of the best experts on scholarly communication in the western hemisphere, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Th ese authors analyze in depth the diverse and exciting challenges and opportunities scholars, universities, and publishers face in what is a period of unusual turbulence in scholarly publishing.

The topics given attention include: copyrights, the transformation of scholarly publishing from a print format to a digital one, open access, scholarly publishing in emerging nations, problems confronting journals, and information on how certain academic disciplines are coping with the transformation of scholarly publishing.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in the scholarly publishing industry’s past, its current focus, or future plans and developments.

Albert N. Greco is professor of marketing at the Graduate School of Business Administration, Fordham University. He is the editor of The Changing World of Publishing and The Media and Entertainment Industries.