Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
Things are changing fast in the library world as I witnessed in several ways at the American Library Association annual conference in New Orleans this past month. There has been a sea change in technology that is noticeable in just one year since the last conference.
One of the first transformative events took place when it was announced that EBSCO, one of the largest providers of online databases, would merge with H. W. Wilson & Company. The venerable Wilson organization, dating to 1898, was the publisher of most of the original and well-known indexes to a variety of magazines and journals. Most famous was the green bound “Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature,” which during the heyday of the print era was the source authority used to find popular magazine articles.
EBSCO began as a magazine subscription service in 1944 and did not enter indexing field until the 1980s. Although there was competition at the time, they seemed to adapt better and developed access to full-text articles more quickly than others. While always closely attuned to the library community, H. W. Wilson was not quite as nimble. As a result, the “merger” will end up being more of an absorption by EBSCO as it seeks to change the way it does business and tries to gain a share of the e-book market. It purchased NetLibrary from OCLC some time ago and attempt to make a move into the downloadable market using that resource as a base.
3M is making an even bolder strategic move. This Fortune 500 Company does only a small part of its business with libraries by providing magnetic strip and RFID security systems for library materials, along with security gates, sorting equipment, and self-checkout stations. However, as we move rapidly from physical to virtual library materials, 3M has decided that it must develop new services or lose that part of its market share. As a result, they are unveiling their new downloadable e-book “Cloud Library.”
Perhaps the most notable change since last year’s ALA Conference was among librarians themselves. Typically in years past, conferees had access to a vendor-sponsored “Internet Café” with free access to workstations for searching the web, checking e-mail, etc. Usage levels were so high at times that users had to wait in long lines. This year, there were never any lines and the Internet café was never more than half full. Instead, attendees were taking advantage of wireless service to use their personal laptops, tablet devices, and smart phones for the same purposes.
What this demonstrates is that librarians and libraries are keeping up with the latest technology. Shaker Library is no different as we join Facebook and Twitter, offer text message notification through our Net Notice programs, and purchase more downloadable material. We were cited at this year’s ALA conference as the number one library in the nation in terms of the number of new ebook titles added between March 2010 and March 2011. Likewise, our new web catalog interface, Bibliocommons, is being adopted by top libraries across the country, including the New York Public Library.
Photo credit: Caydie Heller