Monthly Archives: May 2011

Digital Natives Want It Now!

If you don’t believe me, just listen to this Digital Native.

Abby is from Australia and wants us all to get cracking to make her digital library a reality. [I do wonder how she knows so much about what she wants. Is that another Digital Native trait?]

Unfortunately, there won’t be a Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) in these Digital Natives’ youth. According to Ed Summers’ Blog (he’s a computer code writer at the Library of Congress) INKDROID, the agenda of the recent meeting of DPLA in Amsterdam (not as incongruous as it sounds) was for “The purpose of the May 16 and 17 expert working group meeting, …, is to begin to identify the characteristics of a technical infrastructure for the proposed DPLA.”

Let me reiterate – “begin to identify the characteristics of a technical infrastructure”. Begin to identify by a committee is the same as “We have no clue as to when this might eventually become reality, if ever!”

Summers goes on to write in his May 25 Post,

Prior to the meeting I read the DPLA Concept Note, watched the discussion list and wiki activity — but the DPLA still seemed somewhat hard to grasp to me. The thing I learned at the meeting in Amsterdam is that this nebulousness is by design–not by accident. The DPLA steering committee aren’t really pushing a particular solution that they have in mind. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus about what problem they are trying to solve. Instead the steering committee seem to be making a concerted effort to keep an open, beginners-mind about what a Digital Public Library of America might be.

Let me reiterate again – “In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus about what problem they are trying to solve.” So, all you Digital Natives out there just be patient and hope that there is a Digital Public Library of America for your kids.

One of the major proponents of DPLA is Robert Darnton, award-winning historian, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard, and director of the Harvard University Library.

Google demonstrated the possibility of transforming the intellectual riches of our libraries, books lying inert and underused on shelves, into an electronic database that could be tapped by anyone anywhere at any time,” wrote Robert Darnton last December in the New York Review of Books. “Why not adapt its formula for success to the public good,” he asked, “a digital library composed of virtually all the books in our greatest research libraries available free of charge to the entire citizenry, in fact, to everyone in the world?”

This is an interview from March, 2011 about The Digital Public Library of America. (Look for Part 2 on YouTube.)

Does anyone else feel like they are in a slow motion time warp where everything relating to libraries and information access is at least a decade behind where it should be, and moving in slow motion? Maybe it’s the commercial applications, like Darnton acknowledged, of so many advanced technology tools that it makes everything else look like horse and buggy times. It seems that all good ideas and intentions get sidetracked because the librarian profession doesn’t know squat about technology. We better smarten up and catch up!


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In Case You Didn’t Feel The Paradigm Shifting Now Selling More Kindle Books Than Print Books”, an announcement by on May 19, 2011.

SEATTLE, May 19, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — … Amazon began selling hardcover and paperback books in July 1995. Twelve years later in November 2007, Amazon introduced the revolutionary Kindle and began selling Kindle books. By July 2010, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales, and six months later, Kindle books overtook paperback books to become the most popular format on Today, less than four years after introducing Kindle books, customers are now purchasing more Kindle books than all print books – hardcover and paperback – combined.

“Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books. We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly – we’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, “In addition, we’re excited by the response to Kindle with Special Offers for only $114, which has quickly become the bestselling member of the Kindle family. We continue to receive positive comments from customers on the low $114 price and the money-saving special offers. We’re grateful to our customers for continuing to make Kindle the bestselling e-reader in the world and the Kindle Store the most popular e-bookstore in the world.” [Emphasis added.]

Just in case you didn’t feel the paradigm shifting, the free market economy is determining the future of the 21st Century Library. Hang on for the ride to see where it ends.

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Create Your Vision of Your 21st Century Library!

The information in the original Post has been included in Chapter 5 – Vision Statement of my new book – “Crash Course in Strategic Planning

“What will you dare to dream that your library can become in this 21st Century environment? Whatever it is, dream it! and make it your vision statement (Lucas, 1998).

The reason the vision statement comes at this point in the process is because you have developed some parameters within which you can develop your vision that will make it realistic, achievable, and relevant to your library. If you began with the vision, you might not have a firm foundation of your mission around which you can develop a vision, and the vision might be so fantastic or seemingly unrealistic that it would be useless, seen by some as ridiculously unachievable or by others as highly inappropriate. [Pg. 27]

(Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

Our book is now in production by Libraries Unlimited. Visit their website for more information and an opportunity to pre-order the book, scheduled for release this summer.

Thank you for your interest and support of the 21st Century Library Blog.

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What Is Google Hiding From You?

Yesterday I posted that the last public school literacy program has been cut by lack of funding from USDOE. Information literacy is more important than ever, not only on its own merit, but it is even more critical that young people learn to evaluate and weigh information sources when we understand that Internet search engine algorithms are determining what we access. Your content is being filtered!

Eli Pariser is Executive Director of, and author of a just released book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You. Review
Author Q&A with Eli Pariser

Q: What is a “Filter Bubble”?
A: We’re used to thinking of the Internet like an enormous library, with services like Google providing a universal map. But that’s no longer really the case. Sites from Google and Facebook to Yahoo News and the New York Times are now increasingly personalized – based on your web history, they filter information to show you the stuff they think you want to see. That can be very different from what everyone else sees – or from what we need to see.

Your filter bubble is this unique, personal universe of information created just for you by this array of personalizing filters. It’s invisible and it’s becoming more and more difficult to escape.

A good nine minute video summary can be found on TED at Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles”.

Do you think you’re getting the best results from your Internet searches because you’re a librarian?


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Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Program Eliminated

Just when I begin to think the future of libraries is very bleak, something comes along to show that the future is SO UNPREDICTABLE that nothing can be foreseen with any reliance. ALA tells us that literacy within our schools is no longer a priority for our government.

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was zeroed out under the Department of Education’s allocation for FY2011 funding (PDF), released today.

Improving Literacy Through School Libraries is the only federal program solely for our nation’s school libraries. This program supports local education agencies in improving reading achievement by providing students with increased access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school libraries; and professionally certified school librarians.

“This decision shows that school libraries have been abandoned by President Obama and the Department of Education,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, said.

“The Department has withdrawn funding for numerous successful literacy programs in order to launch new initiatives to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math education. Apparently, what the Department of Education fails to realize is that the literacy and research skills students develop through an effective school library program are the very building blocks of STEM education. Withdrawing support from this crucial area of education is an astounding misstep by an Administration that purports to be a champion of education reform.”

Nancy Everhart, president of the ALA’s Association of School Librarians (AASL), said school library programs provide students with the skills they need to select, interpret, form and communicate ideas in compelling ways with emerging technologies, preparing students for the demands of a global, competitive economy and a 21st century workplace.

“Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that students in schools with strong school library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized tests even when differences in socioeconomic factors are taken into consideration,” Everhart said.

“School libraries are there for every child. They are the great equalizers of society and by making this cut, it’s taking away the opportunity for all children to excel in every area of education, especially science and math. The school library has traditionally been the place where low-income students gain access to the resources and learning experiences that make STEM subjects relevant and rich.”

The ALA calls on Congress to include a dedicated funding stream for school libraries in the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

So, maybe my 2020 prediction for highly information literate library customers was premature. Who knows!

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Is There Any Limit to the Future?

How will these changes affect you – the librarian?

Remember “The Borg”, part of the Star Trek saga where human and machine combined? Think it was too fantastical to be believable?

Ed Boyden leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group at the MIT Media Lab, and in this TED2011 presentation he “shows how, by inserting genes for light-sensitive proteins into brain cells, he can selectively activate or de-activate specific neurons with fiber-optic implants. With this unprecedented level of control, he’s managed to cure mice of analogs of PTSD and certain forms of blindness.”

If that doesn’t totally blow your mind with possibilities, Mike Matas, also at TED2011, presents A next-generation digital book, “the first full-length interactive book for the iPad -with clever, swipeable video and graphics…” [Emphasis added.]

So, you think there are limits to science or technology? You think the exponential weight of all these changes won’t impact your role as librarian?

Better think again!


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No Interest for 21st Century Library Topics in State Library Association Agendas?

Over the past several days I have conducted a search of all 50 state library association websites in pursuit of conference programs and state-wide initiatives that hopefully reflected 21st Century Library topics. Unfortunately, I found very few.

Among those conferences held recently, I found a couple of conferences included sessions on school libraries and information literacy in the 21st century, graphic novels and teen literacy, 21st century library trusteeship, and library instructor’s helping 21st century K-12 students develop information intelligence.

Among those conferences planned for the fall, one conference theme dealt with the future of libraries, one association president’s program will address emerging trends that are changing library services. One state will have Consultants Joan Frye Williams and George Needham present the conference keynote address, and we know they have strong views on the future of libraries.

While the vast majority appeared to be focused on “survival” issues (advocacy, legislation, budgets, etc.), only a handful make reference to “the future” of libraries, which could be virtually any topic, and some don’t even mention a theme for the fall conference. The most unfortunate ones were those few that used a “future” or “vision” theme, but no sessions on the program really delivered anything more than the traditional library conference topics. Only one had an impressively comprehensive description of their conference that was going to address the 21st Century future of libraries. That would be a state library conference worth attending!

Within the state library association websites, there is again very little reference to and virtually no resources on 21st Century Library related issues. In a sample of newsletters I accessed, and some can only be accessed by members who log in, there was little or no mention of 21st Century skills or information literacy, or any similar topics.

It appears that not only ALA has failed to catch a vision for the 21st Century Library. Maybe next decade there will be some interest for 21st Century Library topics in state library association agendas.


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Is This Your 21st Century Library?

Like it or not, this appears to be the face of your 21st Century library. Maybe turning the library into something many librarians and customers don’t recognize is the other edge of the 21st Century double-edge sword. History has taught us that for every useful good thing humankind has discovered, humankind can also find some distorted application for it.

Company to make George Washington’s beer “George Washington is famous for many things. Yet it’s safe to say few know the nation’s founding father created a recipe for beer. The New York Public Library, which owns the recipe, announced on Wednesday that it was partnering with Coney Island Brewing Company in Brooklyn to recreate the brew.” Ula Ilnytzky

53,000 Signatures for Online Petition Against HarperCollins Library eBook Policy “Last month, New Jersey librarian Andy Woodworth launched an online petition entitled “Tell HarperCollins: Limited Checkouts on eBooks is Wrong for Libraries.” … Here’s more from the petition: “Limiting a book to 26 total checkouts means that it could be there one day and gone the next, leaving that 27th borrower in limbo as the library assesses whether to re-purchase the eBook. If left in place, this policy would threaten public access to eBooks by making them disappear from the virtual shelf.” Andy Woodworth

Leaflets keep flying; Redding library rules blocked for now “Civil libertarians leafleted the Redding library Wednesday afternoon, just hours after a Shasta County judge temporarily blocked city restrictions on pamphleteering around the building. … The city also prohibits harassment, windshield leafleting, donation solicitation and commercial advertising in the free speech zone under the policy, adopted April 18. Pamphleteers must reserve the space, and only one group at a time may use it.” Scott Mobley

Bike Sharing Comes to the Academic LibraryFirst came coffee, then gaming, and now bicycles. At Cornell University, a new student-run bike-sharing program has arrived just in time for spring. … The problem with offering great coffee, comfy chairs, and bicycle rentals to the library is not that these amenities are unwelcome — indeed, they are appreciated by most patrons. The problem is that they start diluting the brand of the academic library. And a dilution of the academic library brand may make it more difficult to justify hiring, retaining, and compensating highly trained academic staff.” Phil Davis

Obama aide: Bin Laden raid yielded ‘a library’ of terrorist info “President Obama’s national security adviser said today that analysts are poring over an “extraordinary” trove of terrorism intelligence gathered during last week’s raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. “It turns out that this is the largest cache of information gotten from a senior terrorist, gotten from any terrorist in one operation,” adviser Tom Donilon said on CNN’s State of the Union. “It is about the size of a small college library.” David Jackson

Treasured Judaica Library, Feared Lost, Is Back On the Marke “One of the world’s largest and most valuable private Judaica libraries is up for sale, again. To the consternation of Judaeophiles and scholarly libraries around the world, public access to the Valmadonna Trust Library — or even knowledge of its whereabouts — was feared to have been lost last December, with the selection of an anonymous buyer in a sealed bid auction conducted by Sotheby’s.” Paul Berger

Banning Social Media in Libraries “A year ago, we began an experiment in social media. Using Twitter, we invited librarians to come together once a month to talk about the galleys they’ve been reading. Called GalleyChat, it gets more interesting each month and has become a useful RA and ordering tool. There’s one small snag, however; some librarians can’t join because they are not allowed to use Twitter or other social media at work.”

Santa Clara County Library system to begin $80 annual fee for non-residents “The best part about public libraries is they’re free. But starting July 1, thousands of South Bay residents will have to shell out $80 a year to check out books from libraries run by Santa Clara County. Library cards will remain free for people who live in the cities served by county libraries. But if you live in Los Gatos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara or Sunnyvale, you’ll have to pay to get a county library card — or hope your own city library has enough Hemingway and Harry Potter. “Of course, people aren’t going to like this,” Santa Clara County Librarian Melinda Cervantes said. “It’s very complex. And it’s going to make a lot of people unhappy.” Lisa Fernandez

Not all change is progress!

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Top 10 Viewed Blog Posts

WordPress Blog host does an excellent job of tracking viewer data. For the past 16 months the data shows that the following are the Top 10 most viewed Posts. The topics of most interest to readers are extremely interesting to me, since my primary focus was on 21st Century Library issues and changes – I thought, and the Strategic Planning topics were somewhat generic – I thought.

I am also extremely interested in hearing from you readers – Why the disproportionate interest in these topics? What is it about Strategic Planning that attracts so much interest?

1. Customer Is The Purpose – 1,529

2. 21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Goals and Objectives – 1,095

3. 21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Forecast – 715

4. 21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Mission Statement – 690

5. Changes in Our Librarian Education for the 21st Century – 676

6. 21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Vision Statement – 596

7. 21st Century Skills, Libraries and Librarians – 593

8. 21st Century Skills & The Future of Libraries – 504

9. 21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Measures and Outcomes – 398

10. Your Library and 21st century skills or “21st Century Skills” – 341

Please let me know why these topics have attracted your interest.


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ALA Still Looking Back, Not Forward

Visit the ALA website and you’ll find the current issue, the Special Issue – ”The State of America’s Libraries, 2011”. It is apparently a “… report on the State of America’s Libraries, 2011… documented in a nationwide poll commissioned by the American Library Association (ALA) as part of a Harris Interactive telephone omnibus study conducted in January with a cross-section of 1,012 adults.” (Pg. ii)

Although it was announced in an ALA April 11 Press Release, it doesn’t seem to have received much buzz. It didn’t even get picked up by LISNews, as it was in previous years. Do an Internet search and the vast majority of references are ALA sites, with only five non-ALA cites. As usual, I have some thoughts on why.

Unfortunately, any nation-wide report on the “State of Libraries” that begins by admitting that only 1,012 adults were polled by telephone, begins on a disappointing chord. Of the almost 350 Million potential library users, how representative or accurate can responses from a thousand adults be? (See more survey and sampling technical discussion below.) Which says to me – nobody is taking the report seriously.

The second thing that stands out is that the survey data cited in this report is just more of the same.

Overall, the library’s most highly valued services pertain to the provision of free information and programs that promote education and lifelong learning. Ninety-one percent (up 5 percentage points from the previous year) place great value in the library’s provision of information for school and work.

And almost all Americans (93 percent) believe that it is important that library services are free.

What is surprising, useful or new about this data? What is the point? Seriously!

It reads very much like another Harris Omnibus Study survey for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses that reports responses to similarly useless questions.

Harris Interactive conducted an omnibus study on behalf of Fleishman-Hillard.
A regionally representative sample of 1,039 Americans ages 18 or older were interviewed by telephone ….

Question: In your opinion, is it very important, somewhat important, not very important,
or not at all important for nurses who care for critically ill patients to regularly update their knowledge and skills through continuing education?

A remarkable 91% responded that it was Very Important! Seriously? Amazing! Overwhelmingly people actually prefer critical-care nurses to regularly update their knowledge and skills though continuing education. I’m stunned by the impact of this survey data! AND, “almost all Americans (93 percent) believe that it is important that library services are free.” Equally Amazing!

This latest ALA Report runs on and on with more of the same economic impact study results, horror stories about library funding cuts and closures, unexplainable data reporting librarian average salary increases, and on and on for 68 pages of more of the same DUH! information that ALA is known for producing.

More than two-thirds of adults responding to a January 2011 Harris Poll Quorum (PDF file) created for the American Library Association said that the library’s assistance in starting a business or finding a job was important to them. These figures were up from a year earlier, testament both to Americans’ entrepreneurial spirit and libraries’ role in nourishing that spirit.

Be sure to scan this ALA Report and the Harris Survey results linked above. It shows what ALA prefers not to report. Yes, 58% of those surveyed in 2011 said they owned a library card, but the 2010 survey results showed 62% had a library card – a decline of 4% – (or maybe that falls within the +/- 3% error). Is that 4% of the 1,012 survey respondents or 4% of the American population – 14 Million fewer library card holders? Which one is significant and really worth an ALA assessment of the impact?

The public library discussion began on Page 9, but not until Page 13 did the report address some contemporary issues – like librarian-less libraries, outsourcing library services to for-profit organizations – their conclusion was that both are bad ideas.

School libraries are addressed beginning on Page 16, and academic libraries on Page 22, and both get similar coverage and discussion of same ol’ same ol’ issues. Page 27 is interesting because it addresses that IMLS “organized a national campaign in 2010–2011 aimed at helping libraries, museums, and civic leaders assess and meet the learning needs of their communities and contribute to a shared vision for 21st-century learning.” In almost a full page about the IMLS initiative, ALA had nothing to say about being a part of this 21st Century initiative (I would think to their embarrassment). Hmmmm. Strategic Partnerships! Sound familiar?

Although to be fair, ALA has gotten into the technology issues of the 21st Century library (I guess) on Page 26.

The importance of these [technology] questions served as a major impetus for OITP [ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy] to create the Program on America’s Libraries for the 21st Century in 2008. Library experts and leaders are now exploring all aspects of the future of American libraries and developing recommendations for the library community and its stakeholders.

Anybody seen any results yet?

At least two pages are devoted to the eBook and recent publisher restrictions issues. News? No.
And, more digitization coverage. News? No.

Down on Page 49 the discussion of Intellectual Freedom begins four pages worth. Because? Obviously, that is still a major issue with ALA – freedom to read whatever you want to. That is well and good – if the very existence of libraries was not in jeopardy.

My apologies to readers, because I will admit that I was unable to “read” the entire report. It was simply too boring, useless and long. Hopefully I have addressed the major issues I have with this “State of American Libraries” report from ALA. I could find nothing of any value to help anybody save their library! As I first noted, it contains more of the same.

I for one think it’s far past time for ALA to begin looking forward instead of backward. The Report claims that “The Great Recession may have come to an end, but there’s no end to libraries’ key role in helping hard-pressed Americans find employment or launch a bootstraps venture. These and other key trends in the library community are detailed in this report on the State of America’s Libraries, 2011.” IF that is THE MOST important message ALA has for the profession, since it is the first sentence of the Executive Summary, it was a waste of reporting.

• There is CONSIDERABLE debate about whether the recession is really over.
• “[H]elping hard-pressed Americans find employment or launch a bootstraps venture” are key trends? These library service responses that have been being heralded for the past two years or more are key trends? SERIOUSLY?
• If the recession IS over, then there won’t be the vast number of “hard-pressed Americans” looking for employment, or needing the library to “launch a bootstraps venture” will there.

The demand for 20th Century library services is over if the economy has recovered. So, where does that leave libraries in this IMMEDIATE 21st Century future? Does ALA have any answers to that crucial question?

PS: On Page 67, the ALA Report lists a point of contact for feedback regarding this report, so I have sent him my feedback.
Mark Gould
Director, Public Information Office
American Library Association


Standard research practices project anywhere from 5% to at least 1% of the population to constitute a valid random sample. Bartlett, Kotrlik, & Higgins (2001, Pg. 48), provided Table 1, in their paper that shows a sample of at least 600 for a population of just 10,000, which translated to the US population would be 20Million people. Seems like somewhere between 1,000 and 20M would be a representative sample.

“The Harris Poll National Quorum is a cost-effective and timely tool that uses a cost sharing approach to enable several clients to use the same survey vehicle. Once a week we conduct telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adult Americans at least 18 years old. You can add one question or a dozen or more and pay only for the custom questions you add.

Our clients use these results to track communications efforts, generate media headlines and attention, and assist in public policy decisions, among other uses.” Reads to me like Harris has the same 1,000 adults they survey every week about “whatever” to generate headlines.

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