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Where New Tech Should Libraries Try Next?

Cliff posted about 9 years ago | from the new-toys-in-the-public-interest dept.

Books 152

99bottles asks: "I work for a good sized Public Library. The management folks want to have a sit down to discuss what our next tech. undertakings should be. We already offer free wireless, use Voice-over-IP, have self-checkout machines, have dropped Microsoft Office for OpenOffice.org, and are slowly but surely getting Linux to the desktop. It's not like we need to catch up, this is geared toward being unique and at the forefront. One manager believes that a video reference service would be popular, I've tried to convince him that video-phones have been around for decades and no one really wants them. So, I ask you, what would Slashdot readers want to see at the local library?"

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152 comments

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Commercial Audio Files (0)

RomanySaad (781722) | about 9 years ago | (#13393547)

You can check out DVDs, VHS tapes, Cassettes and CDs right? How about commercial music? They would, of course, be DRMed to expire after 2 weeks or whatever.

Where New Tech Should Libraries Try Next? (3, Insightful)

TykeClone (668449) | about 9 years ago | (#13393548)

A grammar checker?

Re:Where New Tech Should Libraries Try Next? (5, Funny)

strabo (58457) | about 9 years ago | (#13393641)

Why I want to know is what is the library located, and who should I care?

Re:Where New Tech Should Libraries Try Next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13394142)

What you say!!!

At least I'm not a subscriber. Looks like someone set up you the bomb.

Re:Where New Tech Should Libraries Try Next? (1)

terrox (555131) | about 9 years ago | (#13394464)

better to have grammar errors than misleading titles that just plain lie to get you to read the story.

Re:Where New Tech Should Libraries Try Next? (1)

wed128 (722152) | about 9 years ago | (#13394657)

where did the title lie?

Re:Where New Tech Should Libraries Try Next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13395177)

Don't you mean, what did the title lie?

Grammar Nazi (-1, Offtopic)

brsmith4 (567390) | about 9 years ago | (#13393559)

Jesus Christ Cliff (and the guy who wrote it)... Please proofread before posting! How 'bout I state it in a manner that we can all understand:

What hard is it to proofread? English are not your first language?

eBooks (3, Interesting)

Usquebaugh (230216) | about 9 years ago | (#13393598)

Hi,

        softcopies of your books, would take some organising :-) Print on demand of Project Gutenberg.

        Community bookshare sort of like netflix/netbooks but controlled from the library. People give you there lists and you use the library as the exchange point.

Re:eBooks (1)

PFactor (135319) | about 9 years ago | (#13393611)

Allow me to print out an e-book, and I have to bring the paper back to be recycled into paper for others to print on.

Re:eBooks (1)

knewter (62953) | about 9 years ago | (#13394069)

I would absolutely second the print on demand of project gutenberg books...charge cost, print 'em out, everyone's happy, right?

Re:eBooks (2, Interesting)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | about 9 years ago | (#13394419)

On the subject of eBooks, and on the subject of libraries getting rid of books (as discussed elsewhere)...

Three hundred pages of digital ink, bound together as a book. And four hundred together, and two hundred, and so forth. When a patron requests a book, plug in the digital ink book of the appropriate size, download the pages (a la Amazon.com's scans), and give him the book.

Digital ink doesn't require power or other messing with so long as the pages are constant. And if you want, you can have a small watch battery enforcing check-out limits -- blank the book after three weeks. And if the patron wants multiple books, download them all and have them switchable by buttons -- so long as the eBinding can handle them all. You won't, of course, be loading War and Peace on the same eBinding as its Cliff Notes.

This will allow you to get rid of shelves of books (as the other library wanted), while still maintaining a workable checkout system, and -- if you can work out licensing contracts -- allow you to change the book supply to match the demand. The week after Harry Potter comes out, you can use most of the eBindings on that, and you won't have to worry about the fifty copies of last year's Harry Potters that are just gathering dust.

This is where library technology should go.

Re:eBooks (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 9 years ago | (#13397145)

Best Idea. If all the library systems invested in 3 different competing products then at least one of them would become inexpensive enough... through economies of scale and the forementioned competition for the contracts to supply.

Then the rest of us could reap the rewards as well, with a new mature e-ink display available on the cheap for our own private libraries....

Should Not Be (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | about 9 years ago | (#13393620)

Just make sure you don't sacrifice the classic library feel for tech.

Re:Should Not Be (2, Funny)

Usquebaugh (230216) | about 9 years ago | (#13393649)

Hush!

Re:Should Not Be (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | about 9 years ago | (#13393672)

If I had mod points to waste, I'd use them on that :D

Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13393621)

Books

the obvious missing thing at libraries these days (5, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 9 years ago | (#13393628)

BOOKS! I'm doing my best not to call you names right now, just so you know. Spending all this money on computers and multimedia stuff is great, but it's always at the expense of having actual BOOKS. I went to the opening of the fancy new Seattle public library, where they spent I don't even _wanna_ know how much money on a really spectacular bit of architecture (modern crap, really, but it impresses the locals), a whole bunch of technology, and when I start perusing the book stacks, well, there's not as much there as one could hope for, by a LOT. Lots of really outdated stuff, major gaps in important works by major authors, not much new stuff (and only 1 or 2 copies of new and in-demand stuff). The Simpsons episode where they go to the library only to find out they've gotten rid of all the books, and are now "multimedia" libary is, of course, a parody, but unfortunately, hits a little too close to home.

So you've got so much fancy technology now that you don't know what to do next? Take that as a sign.

More books. C'mon, it's not _that_ hard to figure out, is it?

Clean out the obsolete computer technology books in your library, while you're at it - they're just taking up room, and they're not of use to people looking for something on the latest technology. Is there really a need for a 1960's book on Fortran?

Damn, I'm all worked up now - I need some chocolate.

OH, another thing - spend money on comfy seating. The new Seattle library is ridiculous about that.

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (1)

Gothic_Walrus (692125) | about 9 years ago | (#13393689)

Is there really a need for a 1960's book on Fortran?

You never know when you'll need something like that for reference. It may not happen often (or ever), but the day could very well come.

Other than that, I'd have to agree with your point. Books are a nice thing to have in the library. :)

1960's Fortran (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13393711)

First - I wholeheartedly agree that books are what the money should be spent on.

However, I'd like to at least partially disagree about getting rid of the old 1960's Fortran books. I realize that there is limited space, and there are priorities, but I think part of a library's function should be to serve as a historical archive.

I happen to find unit record equipment (pre-computer punch card machines) and early computers to be a fascinating topic, frankly much more interesting than what's going on in 2005. It's difficult to find information on them, despite the thousands of machines that must have been used and the volumes of text written about them.

When something is 10-20 years old, it's garbage and uninteresting. All of it gets throw in the dump and lost to the ages. 20 years after that, it's history, and those studying it always wish a little bigger sample was kept.

Appalling as it seems now, in 2035, wouldn't it be nice if there were a few Windows 95 reference books on the shelf?

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (2, Interesting)

mysticgoat (582871) | about 9 years ago | (#13393822)

Is there really a need for a 1960's book on Fortran?

Since differential equation solvers from that era, written in Fortran, are still in use, yeah, I think it would be great if I could use the interlibrary loan to borrow a Fortran text if I ever have to understand the guts of those routines. So I hope some library somewhere is preserving these.

Besides, where but in Fortran can one experience working with trinary logic conditionals? I still remember those three-tailed decision diamonds.

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (1)

pyite (140350) | about 9 years ago | (#13394542)

Besides, where but in Fortran can one experience working with trinary logic conditionals?

SQL for instance... Must account for a value being Null.

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (1)

carleton (97218) | about 9 years ago | (#13397023)

Having done essentially that (actually, I think it was Transactions of ACM from the 70's more than the 60's, but in a nutshell, had to convert fortran code for doing singular value decomposition of complex matrices since the C code I could find to do it was only for purely real (i.e. no imaginary component) matrices and just blindly doing the equivalent of s/double/Complex/ didn't cut it, for reasons I don't begin to recall.), I'd point out that your best bet is to try a university library.

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (1)

John Newman (444192) | about 9 years ago | (#13394135)

Seriously. Books, books, books (and coffee).

A great anecdote of the SPL: I recently wanted to browse a mechanic's labor guide to see if my auto mechanic was being straight with me. These are insanely expensive, and your average person would never get enough use out of one to justify the cost. Yet everyone occasionally could use access to it. Perfect library material, right? Well, SPL doesn't have a single one. Not one: any year, any publisher. Bellevue, on the other hand, has a not-quite-so-impressive main library, but a full complement of labor guides. Similarly, SPL has an incredible on-line request system, but so few copies of popular books that thousand-person queues and six-month waits are not uncommon. For a town with such a tech reputation, the holdings on computing and programming are sparse and outdated. Yeah, tech and pop books can have a short shelf-life, but it shouldn't be hard to recoup some costs with an on-line sales system that targets older stuff to people who might want to buy it.

Libraries are about books, first and always. But I do also like the idea of having reading rooms with comfy chairs and coffee service, too. ;)

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (5, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | about 9 years ago | (#13394315)

Absofreakinlutely.

I grew up ... not poor, but without enough money to buy books nearly as fast as I could read them. I'm where I am today because of a library full of books and it kills me to walk into my local library today and see barely a quarter of what I had as a kid.

I blame the professionalization of libraries. Just keeping lots of books on the shelves (and helping kids find what they need) was good enough for the elderly female volunteers of the past, but beneath the dignity of a librarian with an MS in Library Science. So the library becomes a cross between an Internet cafe and a homeless shelter.

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (1)

Gulthek (12570) | about 9 years ago | (#13397004)

I'm studying to get an MS in Library science at the UNC SILS program. Any library that I ever run will have LOTS of books. Sure, a few cheap Linux-based computers for 'net access. But books.

And what's with the silence? Who really _reads_ books at the library anymore? Now who reads books at their local coffee shop? I'm not saying that libraries should start having live music, but some piped in music instead of the oppressive silence would be fantastic.

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (2)

dasunt (249686) | about 9 years ago | (#13394461)

Spending a local library's budget on books? What an odd concept.

My local library has (I kid you not) a big screen TV and several game consoles. *sigh*.

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (1)

Gulthek (12570) | about 9 years ago | (#13397024)

As much as I love books (see earlier rant in this story). Video games deserve to be ranked just a highly in our culture as movies. But the problem is that video games are less accessible than movies are. So I'm all for public libraries allowing their patrons access to cultural media that they would otherwise be deprived of.

Isn't that what libraries are all about? Smoothing the difference between the haves and have-nots?

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (1)

HansF (700676) | about 9 years ago | (#13394616)

"Spending all this money on computers and multimedia stuff is great, but it's always at the expense of having actual BOOKS."
I guess that's where you're wrong.
Library meetings don't go: "hey, we have some money left, let's go buy some books." these things are budgeted.
My point is that libraries provide acces to information and I salute them for keeping up with modern times.
The main thing I like about modern libraries is that they provide free internet access.
I believe that in a good democracy every citizen should be able to get online for free. It's a part of being informed, since without information democracy is impossible.
Internet is a part of that, just as books and magazines are.

books (1)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | about 9 years ago | (#13395094)

you're right. i went to my local library a few weeks ago trying to find particular, pretty mainstream books on computer science and a little logic/math. not only did they not have the books, but they didn't have anything in the genre. oh well, perhaps i was being nieve.

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (2)

_iris (92554) | about 9 years ago | (#13395101)

Amen. I tried for three months to check out Calculus Made Easy. In the entire library system (22 libraries, which includes the University of Wisconsin) there wasn't an available copy of a book that is over a century old and still in print for $30.

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (1)

JoshuaDFranklin (147726) | about 9 years ago | (#13395286)

If you've read the news articles on the subject you'll find that SPL's budget comes with lots of strings attached--the building was funded by a special levy that could only be used for construction projects, staff salaries are part of a complicated City of Seattle schedule, etc. It's not a big suprise that suburbs have better selection in many cases--they've got better and more flexible funding and more homogenous communities to reach.

In defense of not carrying popular computer books (4, Informative)

DoctaWatson (38667) | about 9 years ago | (#13395603)

Libraries are notoriously easy to steal from, and popular (and expensive) technical manuals are among the most commonly stolen, and the most quickly obsolete.

Many libraries can't or don't want to bother with the costs associated with these kinds of materials, so they either don't carry them, have them scanned for online e-book checkout, or have them only on a limited access basis.

Public libraries in particular are usually founded with a mandate to promote community literacy and are less likely to carry highly technical specialized materials. They tend to focus their collections on best-sellers (which is also commonly stolen) and recreational reading programs, not only to keep illiteracy rates low but also to make sure that their services are used enough to justify their existence.

If you want to see more technical books at your public library, and you have the means to do so, I highly recommend offering a donation of up-to-date books (or just cold hard cash). Don't give them the outdated stuff, they're more likely to toss it than actually get it processed and shelved. Better yet, convince a publisher like O'Reilly to make the donation.

Also, don't bother with request forms or suggestion boxes- speak to a real live librarian and make your case known.

Re:the obvious missing thing at libraries these da (1)

dog_surfer (867813) | about 9 years ago | (#13395853)

Content is the key. Books yes, and other formats. I found an Australian library with an incredible collection of books on tape. I recall Monty Python, Bill Cosby, and Faulty Towers making my drive to work much more enjoyable.

If you're looking for a techno toy, consider a 7-in-one flash card writer, allowing people to transfer e-books or audio books to their SD cards to read on their Palm devices. Perhaps do a trial run with Project Gutenberg offerings.

My Library (3, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 years ago | (#13393632)

Would have a server that mirrored popular open source distros plus stuffs like CPAN.

Re:My Library (1)

droopycom (470921) | about 9 years ago | (#13395329)

Why? I dont think any popular open source distro is lacking mirrors...

About every University already has mirrors for some stuff... Every 2 bits project on Sourceforge is mirrored all over the planet.

Re:My Library (3, Interesting)

bnf (16861) | about 9 years ago | (#13395471)

Or how about CD's of linux distributions on the shelves?

Or recent copies of the O'Reily manuals?

How about the ability to attach patron comments to card catalog entries?

An updated homepage or info page that shows up on every terminal in the library that displays library news, a web search box and a library search box.

Offer the feature of email/phone reminders the day before (or whenever) items are due.

A 'Library Zeitgeist' page like Google's Zeitgeist'. What people are reading/searching for in the last month or week.

Have a brown sack lunch & learn about your usage of Linux at the library.

Host the sourceforge/software for libraries project(s).

Start referring patrons to wikipedia. Ask them to participate if they are doing serious research.

Establish a wikimedia server for your town or city as part of your Local History office and devote the Town Historian or some library resources to it.

Establish a search engine which is specific to your municipalities websites and/or state.

Establish printers that can be attached to from the wireless network.

More DVDs, more CDs. Offer [free/cheap] delivery. (I assume you have reserve and renewal on line) and then provide library return boxes as sattelites to each branch.

also

Have you asked your patrons or your community this question? They are presumably the tax payers and customers of your library.

A developer tools/old architecture section. (1)

torpor (458) | about 9 years ago | (#13393633)

1. A section on developer tools, specifically compilers, language interpreters, etc. Compilers should be a -definite- Library section; and I do mean the actual apps themselves, as well as whatever source code for programming language/development systems have been made available in the library domain.

2. A section for 'retired architecture', so that I could, in 1000 years time, be sure that I could go to a Library with some media I found in grandads grave, rent some juice, and fire up the ol' memories ..

This would mean Libraries should become 'old-format graveyards', and on this issue I wholeheartedly concur. They should.

Re:A developer tools/old architecture section. (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | about 9 years ago | (#13393931)

A section for 'retired architecture' probably belongs more to a museum than a library. I don't think librarians' skill sets extend to the kind of mickeymouse procedures needed to keep an Apple ][ single-sided single density floppy drive working, or the periodic cleaning a Trash-Eighty keyboard requires.

OTOH, a library could develop and maintain a database of hobbyists and businesses who are willing to recover data stored in obsolete formats.

Re:A developer tools/old architecture section. (1)

torpor (458) | about 9 years ago | (#13396156)

i don't agree. saying that 'its too hard for librarians' is pathetic and weak.

libraries are supposed to be higher institutes of learning. if you can't train a librarian on proper computer maintenance, who can you train?

libraries of the future must contend with the digital reality. anything less is failure of the purpose of libraries, which is to record and make available the literature of civilization.. as we step on up into the digital age, it becomes ever more relevant that libraries catch up with the curve.

were i a rich man, i'd start my own library fund, found my own libraries all around the world, and you can be damn sure i wouldn't be hiring anyone incapable of dealing with an apple ][ ..

Re:A developer tools/old architecture section. (1)

Couldn'tCareLess (818316) | about 9 years ago | (#13396027)

A section for 'retired architecture', so that I could, in 1000 years time, be sure that I could go to a Library with some media I found in grandads grave, rent some juice, and fire up the ol' memories... 'old-format graveyards', and on this issue I wholeheartedly concur
Where's my stake and garlic...

How about just simple service (3, Insightful)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | about 9 years ago | (#13393635)

Rather than spend the money on strange new technologies that you have to uncover on the internet - why not just provide simple service, a quiet room, and more books to checkout/read.

I really hate that my library is spending money on computers, wireless, network access... How about spending the money on books, magazine subscriptions, and other things that a library needs to have.

And frankly - if you still have money left over, why not give it back to your taxpayers instead of finding random ways of spending it

Re:How about just simple service (2, Insightful)

fmaxwell (249001) | about 9 years ago | (#13393808)

And frankly - if you still have money left over, why not give it back to your taxpayers instead of finding random ways of spending it

Yeah. Then many of those taxpayers could spend the money on cigarettes, beer, and lottery tickets rather than having you try to buy something that could benefit the community for many years.

Re:How about just simple service (1)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | about 9 years ago | (#13393940)

Yeah. Then many of those taxpayers could spend the money on cigarettes, beer, and lottery tickets rather than having you try to buy something that could benefit the community for many years.
As opposed to how long the computers will be good (what 3-4 years ???) - or the wireless access points will still function (who knows). All of these tech toys sure seem like a bunch of frivolous waste to me - Frankly I'd rather allow people the choice of buying beer, saving for their education, or anything that THEY believe will add value to their life rather than the government finding things to do with the money that it takes from its citizens

Re:How about just simple service (1)

fmaxwell (249001) | about 9 years ago | (#13394223)

As opposed to how long the computers will be good (what 3-4 years ???) - or the wireless access points will still function (who knows). All of these tech toys sure seem like a bunch of frivolous waste to me - Frankly I'd rather allow people the choice of buying beer, saving for their education, or anything that THEY believe will add value to their life rather than the government finding things to do with the money that it takes from its citizens

It's the kind of shortsightedness that you display that makes my point. You can't understand that the point is the content, not the delivery medium. If the wireless access points and computers help people in their research, studies, and personal fulfillment today, it will benefit the community for years to come. If they help kids do better in school, then the benefit from that disposable tech will last for lifetimes. If it helps a poor kid get access to the Internet, it could change his life. If it helps someone compose a better resume, it could be a turning point in their career.

Go back to swilling your beer.

Re:How about just simple service (0)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | about 9 years ago | (#13393994)

rather than having you try to buy something that could benefit the community for many years.

The Pentium IIs with Windows 95 on them that the library bought 6 years ago is going to benefit the community for many more years???

Re:How about just simple service (1)

fmaxwell (249001) | about 9 years ago | (#13394171)

The Pentium IIs with Windows 95 on them that the library bought 6 years ago is going to benefit the community for many more years???

How long did the reading lessens that you had in kindergarten and elementary school benefit you? How long did learning to type on a long-gone computer keyboard benefit you? How many years did you get a benefit from having read library books that are no longer on the library shelves?

How long will it benefit the community to have had a generation of kids with access to the Internet -- even ones whose parents' might have been unable/unwilling to have a PC at home?

Did you ever think that the benefit of having had an item can last many more years than the item itself?

Re:How about just simple service (1)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | about 9 years ago | (#13394581)

How long did learning to type on a long-gone computer keyboard benefit you?

Actually, I learned to touch-type on a Royal manual typewriter. In High School.

Touch typing on the ASR-33 teletypes in the computer room wasn't really that much of an option, seeing as they were upper-case-only.

Computers cost $5 at yard sales these days. There are zero, zippo, no kids at this point in time who don't have access to a computer if motivated.

Re:How about just simple service (1)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | about 9 years ago | (#13393894)

I feel the need to second your opinon. I was going to make a top-level comment suggesting they remove the electric wiring entirely from the library and just have books, but there's the need for some simple lighting, and perhaps the mechanism for checking out books can remain electronic. And since all the libraries have turned the card catalog slowly into slips of paper to use the back of for writing down the details from the book you want that you've looked up on the terminal that replaced the wood-and-paper card catalog, I guess those terminals should remain as well.

As to 'web access terminals' at the library: get rid of them. Bring that part of the budget to zero and reallocate the money to more books.

Libraries should not be stuck in the dark ages (1)

Noksagt (69097) | about 9 years ago | (#13394828)

Yes--books and periodicals are important. They are expensive to accumulate--in terms of financial cost & in terms of space usage. They also (for the most part) have a high signal-to-noise-ratio. I have been in libraries that have neglected either books or periodicals or both & this is both sad and frustrating.

However, ANYTHING which can generally inform or entertain the public belongs in a library are good. When I research, I want to have access to large quantities of relevant information & I want it to be EASY TO USE. Two decades ago, people argued against photocopiers in libraries, but they were as valuable then (and could be justified as easily) as document scanners, computerized card catalogs/checkout, etc. are today.

I do think tape/CD/video/DVD/etc. archives are as important and useful as the "dusty old" books, but I think the availability of digital storage should mean that libraries can have MORE content & allow for easier knowledge-transfer.

Finally, I personally welcome wireless access--it means less amount of library floor-space has to be tied up by library computers (which, like it or not, do see a lot of use). It also makes it easier for me to take my notes with me when I leave the library.

To use English when posting here? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13393665)

English books in libraries so Slashdot editors know the difference between:

- Its, it's
- Their, They are, There
- Where, What

Perhaps using What instead of Where on a post about technology in Libraries would be a good start.

Re:To use English when posting here? (1)

Hidyman (225308) | about 9 years ago | (#13395643)

Indeed!

Re:To use English when posting here? (1)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | about 9 years ago | (#13396343)

Actually in contrast to popular believe the average /. editor excells on both grammar and spelling. The true reason why /. articles lack both qualities lays in the fact that said editors have trained their pet monkeys to use keyboards.

free legal downloads (5, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | about 9 years ago | (#13393667)

anything that is legally free for the copying. once it has been downloaded on demand by a patron,(or a librarian after first checking license, etc) then the library caches it, so it can pull from the local repository instead of the net. OS disks, other softwares, music,e-books, vids, podcasts, whatever. The deal is, unlike a normal lending library, the patron pays a nominal media dupe fee and gets to KEEP the media.

Re:free legal downloads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13396216)

Great idea. A listening station for CC [or PD] music, with a web interface to browse, rate and burn the music to cd would be neat.

things people actually use (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13393690)

Best feature I ever saw in a library was a "new book room". It had some of the latest stuff, like what you find at Barnes and Noble. It was the only time I ever managed to find up to date computer books as well. Most libraries I know the IT oriented computer books are so old that they are useless.

They also had a room set aside where you could eat while you read/work, which would often fill up with groups of people working on things even when the rest of the library is empty.

As for more technology, I agree with the other posts that say stop wasting money. ;p

easy (1)

brandanglendenning (766328) | about 9 years ago | (#13393709)

more books.

RFID (5, Interesting)

diamondmagic (877411) | about 9 years ago | (#13393715)

Add RFID tags to all the books, and a reciver every 5-10 feet or along the bookshelfs. Add compatibility to the lookup system, to tell users where the book REALLY is, and not where it was last filed. Doubles as a security system.

Re:RFID (2, Interesting)

Rhinobird (151521) | about 9 years ago | (#13393891)

That is one sane and useful use of RFID. Since it is sane and useful, it will never see the light of day.

Re:RFID (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13394728)


Actually, this is exactly the reason that libraries want RFID for their books.

The potential threat to civil liberties (being able to scan the bookbag of a target after they have left the library) is one of the reasons that many libraries haven't implemented it yet.

Where? (1)

jericho4.0 (565125) | about 9 years ago | (#13393722)

My local library, I guess.

TAL (2, Interesting)

CGP314 (672613) | about 9 years ago | (#13393733)

Rock Concerts! [thislife.org]


-Colin [colingregorypalmer.net]

Re:TAL (1)

The_reformant (777653) | about 9 years ago | (#13394115)

I concur, you can never have enough rock concerts anywhere.

Really (3, Insightful)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | about 9 years ago | (#13393736)

The most recent book in my local library about Linux is from 2000; the one before that is the red hat manual from 1996. New books are a GOOD thing

Re:Really (1)

W12x40 (906647) | about 9 years ago | (#13397035)

That's a problem with libraries and computing literature. They end up with a big pile of mostly useless publisher-specific volumes on stuff like productivity in DOS 5.2. Should the library have bought a manual on Windows for Workgroups or the full set of _The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_? Certainly Gibbon. As somebody else pointed out, the old FORTRAN manuals with differential equation solvers are useful, and I'm sure that only a little tweaking is required to make them work in whatever brand of FORTRAN you're using now. Perhaps the library's acquisition department needs to look at better methods for finding technical books.

And for the OP, look at better implementation for ILL. If the local library doesn't have it, get them hooked up to a larger lending network so they can get it. Try getting in with some university libraries. develop something that will allow the user at the local library to search the local collection and the ILL network with the same interface. Oh, yeah, add more books.

pr0n! (0, Troll)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 9 years ago | (#13393810)

You know you want it...

A foriegn language book section (2, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 9 years ago | (#13393818)

Along with some electronic(portable) dictionaries for the various languages. It's becoming more and more important for Americans to learn a 2nd(or 3rd!) language, and one of the more interesting ways to learn a language is to take an original(and hopefully interesting) text, and an accurately translated text, and use that translation as a guide.

open source library management (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13393877)

Why not migrate to an open source library management software package like Evergreen [open-ils.org] or Koha [koha.org] ? More money for books, more control for you...

Where New Tech Should Libraries Try Next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13393946)

The one by the purple database. Its got more ram or something.

f u cn rd ths u dn't nd lbrry (2, Funny)

DigitalReverend (901909) | about 9 years ago | (#13393967)

How grammar is should be improved? Hard reading question that is to be wrong words. Books in libary need so learn grammar better.

Re:f u cn rd ths u dn't nd lbrry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13394057)

Good sir, he is a librarian, not an english teacher (or writer). I understand that grammar is important, but it is in no way necessary to have perfect grammar to be a good librarian.

Re:f u cn rd ths u dn't nd lbrry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13396277)

True, perfect grammar isn't necessary. -Please, good librarian, show me your books on grammar. -I have no books on grammar, I am a librarian, not an authorer. I have never written a book, and can't afford to buy any either. And even if I did in either case, we have no grammar here to put those books on to show you.

Video reference service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13393997)

One manager believes that a video reference service would be popular
Like video.google.com [google.com] ??

Repeat ad nauseum (1)

mkavanagh2 (776662) | about 9 years ago | (#13394070)

Books.

On a serious note, (2, Interesting)

DigitalReverend (901909) | about 9 years ago | (#13394132)

Are you sure your boss is meaning video phones when he says video reference???

One thing that could be cool in regards to video reference would be actual video footage that can be used for other stuff, for example if one is making a video production and wants to include footage of the shuttle landing, or various riots or other footage, it would be nice go to the library, find all the video footage you want, burn it to DvD and then go home and use it. I guess it would be more of a stock footage reference.

Just a thought.

I dunno (3, Interesting)

dtfinch (661405) | about 9 years ago | (#13394268)

Simple desktop additions:
* Wikipedia link.
* Suggestion box email link.
* Google Print link (Great full text book search).

Other stuff:
* Open source CD's (Linux, BSD, TheOpenCD, etc.) available for checkout, or even ISO's available for burning.
* CDR's, jumpdrives, minor network equipment, and other information media and technology for sale. Nothing expensive though, unless you have good security. The bookstore at my local university carries all this stuff.

Re:I dunno (1)

FLEB (312391) | about 9 years ago | (#13394867)

* Open source CD's (Linux, BSD, TheOpenCD, etc.) available for checkout, or even ISO's available for burning.

Don't forget public domain and (CC) content.

What extra value does your PAC offer? (1)

sporktoast (246027) | about 9 years ago | (#13394524)


Your web-PAC should make Library Elf [libraryelf.com] obsolete. I shouldn't be tempted to give a 3rd party my lib card number just to get timely emails of when my holds are in, and how soon everything I have is due.

Rant on Libraries: (2, Interesting)

chris_mahan (256577) | about 9 years ago | (#13394533)

Advice for libraries:

-- Stay open until midnight on friday and saturday night.

-- Let me borrow the book as long as I want. Like netflix. Or 1 year.

-- Have a 24 hours pickup/dropoff walk-up counter: I go online, I ask for a book by ISBN, the interlibrary exchange does its thing, and the book is delivered at the location in 24 hours (not 4 weeks), then I get an email: your book is ready. Give me 36 hours to drive by over there and pick it up, on my way home from work, at 9:45 PM, on Tuesday.

-- Have more books. I don't care if you have to rent one million square feet of warehouse space on the poor side of town, I want you to stock at least one copy of every single book currently in print in the western world, and have out-of-print books going back 50 years.

-- Stock comics, magazines, newspapers, car manuals, foreign titles, foreign comics.

-- Stock more than one copy of the latest New York bestsellers top ten list.

-- Have lots and lots of chairs and small tables. Hundreds of them.

-- Drop the computers. Who cares. You see computers at Borders?

-- Stay open until midnight on friday and saturday night. Are you getting it?

-- Copy machines at cost (no more than $0.02 per page) But you shouldn't have to, since the people can just take the books home.

-- Some people have mentioned printing on demand. You wouldn't have to offer that service if you had the book in stock to begin with. Have more books.

-- Forget cds and dvds. Books. But if you got to have DVDs, let people keep them a week or more.

-- Last but not least, allow people to talk to each other. It's not a morgue. I't not a study hall, nor a hospital. People like to go where it's lively.

I have a card (Los Angeles Public Library), but I don't go because, and yes, I'm talking to you my dear tax-consuming librarians: you're closed when I want to go there, you don't have the books I want to read, and I often take more than 3 weeks to read a book, especially if I'm trying to grok an O'Reilly title like "Programming Python".

I buy about 30 books a year (1 every 2 weeks approx.) and about one third are fiction, the others technical, so it's not like I don't like to read.

I hope you guys get it. The post office is open until 5 PM on Saturdays. They're adapting. You adapt too, or we'll use the tax money elsewhere.

Re:Rant on Libraries: (3, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | about 9 years ago | (#13395546)

Sounds perfect... It also sounds like NetFlix, you should be paying 25 bucks a month.

E-INK devices (2, Interesting)

Noksagt (69097) | about 9 years ago | (#13394585)

Electronic ink makes e-books not suck. They are high-contrast screens which can be read under bright daylight and use a minimum amount of power (many only use power when "turning pages" (refreshing the display). Read more about the LOC's [umd.edu] use of E-ink.

It is very much in the early adopter stage. It is hard for a regular US consumer to get a device. I think I might have my SO pick me up a used Sony Librie when she's in Japan. Very cool stuff.

Handicap Accessibility and Printing Services (4, Informative)

DoctaWatson (38667) | about 9 years ago | (#13394640)

I work in a university library, the largest in my state, and by far the most important technology we've provided (beyond internet accessibility and an online catalog system) has been in the handicap accessibility areas.

-Get at least one video magnification machine. I think they're called "MERLIN" or something similar. You hold a book under the machine's camera and an enlarged image of the text appears on the monitor for seeing-impaired patrons. Failing that, have a well-maintained collection of magnifying glasses.

-Get some good, rugged headphones and equip all the computers with some good text-to-speech software. This is also good if your library has a literacy program so your non-reading patrons can actually use the internet.

-On the non-technical side of things: Use automatic doors, elevators and low shelving, or at least have the librarians offer a free paging service for handicapped patrons. A good collection of braile books is a good idea too.

The other very useful tech for libraries is a good up-to-date station for printing services. Copiers of all shapes and sizes, a fax machine, networked printers, scanners, memory-card readers and above all people with the know-how to maintain them (they'll break more than anything else). Also a typewriter would be a good purchase if you don't already have one available for public use.

If there's ever the technology to remotely shut down other people's cell phones- get that too.

Re:Handicap Accessibility and Printing Services (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13394802)


OMG Yes!!! But don't stop there!

There's a branch near me that has done a lot of good stuff. A dozen large magnifying lenses, opaque projection viewer, audio book listening stations, large print section, low shelves for those portions of the catalog, et cetera.

Almost all of it is in the basement. That was bad enough. But the elvator broke this week. And even when it is working, the risks to handicapped patrons during an emergency are significant enough to suggest an ADA lawsuit.

Without knowing firsthand, my bet is that this was all planned and implemented without any input from the target populations.

good point (1)

DoctaWatson (38667) | about 9 years ago | (#13394989)

Most of the handicap hardware I mentioned is in my library, and unfortunately on a lowerlevel (basement) floor. Though there are three reliable elevators to it, and there are suitable fire exits, I can still see how it could be a problem.

Larger|More branch libraries (1)

andphi (899406) | about 9 years ago | (#13395359)

I live a few blocks from my city's only branch library. It's cool that there is a branch library, but it's a storefront operation and rather small. The town has grown significantly since it was established. I daresay another branch closer to the economic center of town could be good. If not for the three university libraries in town, the community would be vastly underserved.

Buy some new tech books!! (1)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | about 9 years ago | (#13395378)

Corel 4 for dummies, Windows 95, Dos for Dummies. Sound like current volumns worthy of shelf space? Someone does cause they are the average books I see in Humbolt County!

My .02 USD (1)

Undefined Parameter (726857) | about 9 years ago | (#13395398)

I like the opinions, offered above, about the whole "more books" thing, but I don't know how well stocked the library in question is. I also kinda like the "safe & sane use of RFID" mentioned above, but think that it might be overwhelming if the library in question has, say, 100k books, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, vinyl records, etc.

I also don't know if this particular library has microfiche or the like... but if it does, and since it hasn't been mentioned by the submitter, I'd say that the next thing that should be done, tech. wise, would be to digitize the entire collection and make it accessible through any terminal or computer connected through the LAN. I suggest this because, in the course of getting my History degree, I spent many a frustrating night paging through reel upon reel of microfilm. I also spent many an hour happily searching, finding, and printing old newspaper articles that had been digitized.

If your library is used by researchers, and/or has microfilm or microfiche... digitize it, please!

~UP

What I'd like to HEAR. (2, Interesting)

DualG5GUNZ (762655) | about 9 years ago | (#13395577)

Libraries are more than just storage sites (i.e. not blockbuster et al.) for rentable items. They also serve as sanctuaries against the hustle and bustle of everyday life--they are places where you can read the newspaper or catch up on the latest philosophy journals (for instance). However, all too often the hustle and bustle invades the local library destroying the tranquility. For this reason, I would like to see libraries install white noise machines and better soundproofing.

Freedom toaster (1)

jsantos (113796) | about 9 years ago | (#13395688)

Something along the lines of the freedom toaster [freedomtoaster.co.za] would be nice.

Scan every public domain book you have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13395698)

Do it. Call the Internet Archive, see what they are up to and do it.

Longer hours (4, Insightful)

Krellan (107440) | about 9 years ago | (#13395766)

Personally, I think funds should be spent on longer hours for libraries, before getting the latest computer toys.

In San Jose, California, we have a new downtown library [sjlibrary.org] that's hooked up like you wouldn't believe. It's not open enough hours for the public to truly use it well, though. Fortunately, the library is jointly owned by the nearby college, and the college funds additional hours during the school year. Extended hours at the library are quite convenient because most downtown parking in San Jose becomes free [sjdowntownparking.com] after 6pm!

Unfortunately with government projects it's often easier to get money for new construction/projects instead of maintenance. New toys are sexy, and sexiness gets votes.

If the funding for your library is with strings attached, and those strings have to be spent on new computer technology, I suggest these:

* Free Wi-Fi everywhere in the library and as far into the surrounding areas as your access points can reach, if you don't already have this.

* CD-burning kiosks that burn CD's full of public domain books, from the Gutenberg Project and other sources.

* Similarly, DVD-burning kiosks that burn DVD's full of public domain videos/movies, from the Prelinger Archives and other sources.

* Book-on-demand printing presses for public domain books, something like this [archive.org] !

Good luck with your funding!

Tablet PC's (2, Informative)

dascandy (869781) | about 9 years ago | (#13395954)

Instead of positioning a dozen computers somewhere at random, allow for people to take a tablet pc at the begin of the library with a modernized version of the library program, connected to a wireless network. Include RFID tags with most books and allow the tablet pc to indicate where to move to find the actual book. Allow the tablet pc to offer you "Find similar books..." for the book you're holding etc.

Oh, and make sure you have enough tablet pc's :)

Books and Programs (1)

Rec0ndite Drag0n (900879) | about 9 years ago | (#13395996)

I agree with what many people have said in that I think that, while some technology is necessary (i.e. the access to computers and internet), I think the priority should remain with having more books. I would also love to see extended hours, but I think another area that would be great is that of free programs. Many of the libraries in my area only offer programs for the elderly or very very basic computer courses (such as 'how to click a mouse...'). It would be great if there were other more advanced programs, perhaps some specifically geared towards children, minorities, women, or low income. Perhaps the library could sponsor chess, math, or computer contests. I also love libraries that have quiet rooms and I always find the technology and foreign language sections lacking.

I'd like to see.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13396490)

A library that's open more than two days a week.

MythTV (1)

Yonder Way (603108) | about 9 years ago | (#13396521)

Have a couple of MythTV backends archiving all of the major news networks, CSPAN, History Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS, etc. Instead of TV-based frontends, have some PC's with CRT's and headphones as frontends.

Self Check-in Check-out with RFID Tags (1)

t482 (193197) | about 9 years ago | (#13396525)

In Sweden apparently they have libraries with self check in /check out. All the books have RFID tags and you drop it in a glass conveyer belt on the way in.

Make More Material Accessible from the Internet (1)

north.coaster (136450) | about 9 years ago | (#13396587)

The biggest problem with most libraries today is that users have to visit the library to access most of the material. Obviously this is a requirement if people want to access hardcopy materials, but it shouldn't be necessary for softcopy materials. Considering that may publications are now available on CDROM, it would be great if this could be accessed from home (perhaps restricted to users who have valid library cards). There is also a lot of historical and community information that can be easily made available to people at home.

My local library [libraryweb.org] has taken some small steps in this direction.

Re:Make More Material Accessible from the Internet (1)

brigc (30780) | about 9 years ago | (#13396955)

Two things that make digitizing collections difficult:

Copyright issues... the Senator from Disney and his friends keep extending copyright making it very difficult for libraries to determine which materials can/should be scanned for access. Owners of Intellectual Property are very much interested in licensing use rather than selling us a book and letting us share it via 'fair use'.

The second factor is the staggering cost of digitizing materials in a useful way.

It's actually pretty expensive to digitize a book... you have to get the actual book de-spined (you break the book apart to get clean scans of each page), every page of the book has to be scanned, each page has to be run through OCR software, every page has to be proofed by someone who's bright enough to catch OCR errors, the output has to be made accessible to patrons/staff and maintained/refreshed as media and software product changes. ...brig

OpenOffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13396819)

What makes you think that Linux and OpenOffice are steps forward?
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