Saturday, October 3, 2009

Big Picture of Google Books & Libraries?

Books served on a platter
Someone saw my listserv post about Google Books and ILL and asked what I “see as the ‘big picture’ if/when Google books really becomes operational...” (Great question, what do you think? to anyone who actually reads this blog)
Listserv posting...
Hello Everyone,

Wondering or interested in the future of resource sharing and the Google Books subscription? i.e. does the Google Settlement that allows access to copyrighted works in Google Books under license allow for ILL rights?

My question is...
...for institutions that will subscribe to Google Books, shall we ask for ILL rights - like we have been able to achieve with many publishers. (I want to add a big thanks to the many publishers that allow ILL rights for electronic content – you are wonderful!) So, if you are wondering too, when I asked Google, they said...

“Hello Cyril,
Thank you for your question. To learn more about the Google Books settlement agreement, please go to Because the settlement is awaiting Court approval, we're limited in our ability to discuss it with you. However, you are encouraged to contact the Settlement Administrator or Class Counsel, whose contact information is on the settlement website, for further assistance.
Of course, if you have questions about the Google Books Partner Program, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Tom The Google Books Team

So everyone, if you are interested? Contact: A court decision on the terms is coming soon. As always, your work and voices make a huge difference.

Google Settlement Details: (it’s only 141 pages – great reading J)

Of particular note (highlight by me)…

Provided the ILL rights are there… We only need: unmediated requesting of this resource a priority and a wonderful LVIS (Libraries Very Interested in Sharing) library subscribe to it. “ Sent 9/25/09
You have some time to send the settlement administrators your thoughts; the settlement is undergoing revisions, so the Oct. 7th decision is delayed for a short while...

So, I shared some thoughts about the big picture recently at the NW Interlibrary Loan and Resource Sharing conference in Portland, and I am uncertain if anyone agreed, so here goes some thematic big picture thinking... (First a few more sips of coffee...)

Google & Amazon will agree on how to share the marketplace of book distribution. Google and Amazon will cooperate enough so their competition does not reduce their effective huge distribution system, and their distribution system will likely shape the future of reading; much like iTunes (& their listeners) have shaped listening and sharing music.

From that perspective the disruption for libraries is likely to have several major consequences, probably the most noticeable...

“1st one to weed wins” or “the gutting of American libraries”
I have used both in describing the possible impact of a Google Books subscription model coupled with a just-in-time reality that the out-of-print book selling market and the print-on-demand market are growing and reducing the cost and time of books to at or below the cost of storing and/or borrowing materials. Add to that the various library based digitization programs. The first to weed applies only if a library wants to avoid the tremendous responsibilities of last-copy retention, which is a critical and challenging concept for library consortia to grapple – much like coordinated collection development policy making.

Of course it’s about space – but service wins
While libraries continually wrestle with the right service and space, the radical transformation of academic libraries will more than likely be determined by new competencies; project management and digital project/scholarship services are two examples, and how new service is designed within narrow niche opportunities and grown to fit and foster the future of higher education; which focuses on more research funding and entrepreneurial programs. Print collections will remain integral to the building, albeit as a new balance of function and look & feel, with some interesting project and exhibit based collections. While we are all busy reducing the size of our print reference collection, saying that it is a result of digital reference collections obfuscates the weight of an 8 year old service - Wikipedia’s impact on the context of information finding by users has been tremendous. We adjust the print footprint to the changing environment.

Where is reading and writing headed?
Because the future of reading is one of the most powerful determinants to the future of libraries, it might make sense to look at how others are shaping that future. We know that in the quest for the perfect ebook reader familiar vendors (Sony, Amazon Kindle, etc.) have busily wrestled and gambled to win a significant market share, while maybe more unfamiliar to us, the mobile phone group GSM World collectively discuss strategies to make mobile phones the platform for content. While keeping an eye out for reading, you might as well watch writing as exciting convergence beyond paper annotations. A few project examples: Book Glutton:, Nines:, Princeton Dante Project:,

There has to be an end to this blog, so here goes... it’s the cooperation scalability question.

Much like Google & Amazon settling down on strategic sharing of the marketplace of book distribution, can higher education similarly transform its institutional relationships and cooperate in new long-term strategic ways that focus the transformation of learning? Our struggles – organize cooperative efforts quickly and scale those efforts in large networks. Rather than 50 digital scholarship silos, agreement to scale 2-3 would certainly leverage the real strength of our scholars in the quality and scalable discourse needed across the globe. Arxiv is one of my favorite examples of a successful story of developing a disciplinary based solution that crossed the institutional boundaries, a significant barrier of scale and coherence for most institutional repositories.

Back to Google Books and ILL, the rest of this story is practical and not very practically technical...

If a library obtains a Google Book subscription, let’s hope that library’s has the ILL rights to share them with other libraries. Yes, a new type of proxy (VPN like tunnel) of a Google Book digital object must be technically created, and a new discovery system for resource sharing must either be created or adapted into current systems. However, this 'streamlined-clunky' version of Google Books gives libraries an important opportunity to continue to share resources (at lower cost than shipping print), and ultimately matches Google’s responsibility to do no harm... to libraries and their communities, not to mention Google’s library partners. Potentially as interesting; open URL knowledge base vendors have an opportunity to enable even easier resource sharing of electronic articles and ebooks than traditional ILL request management, but that and the future of pay-per-view (as a just-in-time acquisition theme) is for another time and another blog.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Author Receptions @ Library as Service?

Geneseo Authors Day and the celebration of the Geneseo Authors Hall (a collection of faculty, staff and alumni works) at Milne Library got me thinking...

Authors are happy to have their works honored, and appreciate hearing authors talk about their works, and giving talks about their own work, so...

Why not invite faculty and staff that publish to have a 'free' reception at the Library?

Basically, set aside some foundation funds for small receptions at the Library to recognize works as they are produced. This gives the Library awareness when an author recently published works we want to collect, and helps the author market their work, all while honoring their work at the campus.

I know libraries do this, so I am interested in hearing your suggestions; one of the important parts is how to best market this service offering and get faculty, staff, and even alumni to participate?
  • Focal point - such as the Geneseo Authors Hall
  • Regularize author events and receptions
  • Correspond event times with campus events; before faculty senate, lectures, gallery events, etc.
  • Publish the citations in a distinctive publication, website, etc. (We are currently working with LibraryThing and evaluating an article citation tool)
  • Free food, coffee, tea, (I know, it just has to be said though)

Other suggestions?

Some of the related ideas that may interest you is something I want to see developing this next year; a reading garden @ Milne. Suffice it to say that by connecting readers and writers, in a variety of formal and informal spaces, venues, etc. strenthens the connection that libraries are a vibrant part of creation and dissemination of creative/scholarly works. BUT that is one of the reasons why we love to work in libraries. Best wishes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting It System Toolkit (GIST)

Hello Everyone,

Just want to mention that a team at SUNY Geneseo and with the help of others will be developing a new toolkit, this one is a bit different from the Workflow Toolkit: (Which has recently upgraded significantly by our new IDS Librarian, Tim Bowersox)

The Getting It System Toolkit (GIST) will be a set of tools to reconceptualize the acquisition and ILL workflows with new adaptable selection practices, automated criteria, and new tools that attempt to better serve users, libraries, and diversifying cooperative collections.

The basic details of GIST version 1, planned for release this summer, are available at:

We are very interested in hearing your comments and suggestions, more on this soon.

Best regards,


Monday, March 2, 2009

Text to Speech - Amazon and Rights-Holders

The power of voice, albeit even HAL's to go along with it's one red eye, is tremendous.

Voice is what makes Amazon's decision to change Kindle 2's "Experimental" Text to Speech Feature option for Publishers and as a result to Readers so darn interesting.
I really like their positive statement "We believe many will decide that it is."

Having done some OCR and text to speech work - for research purposes only, during my ILL days in Portland State University, I realized how enabling technology can make creative works - and how much the user can determine use. Trapping text within a format used to be simply the result of the technology of the day; paper, microform, PDF, etc.

Increasingly, the Digital Rights Management of today, as expressed by efforts of various rights holders / interest groups, are trapping text with no definable due date - short of the actual technology becoming obsolete.

I give kudos for Amazon's use of Nuance technology to empower readers to listen to creative works because combining the sounds and words enhances learning - which is really one of great success stories of humanity and creative works.

If the day of buying each type of use of a creative work is the future, the measures for wringing all the profit possible in publishing economics will continue to lead locked content towards obscurity. Thank goodness for all the alternatives.

Just a few cents for free - read, listen, paint it if you like...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Adding to the Get It picture - a chart...

Great question about the graph Jennifer, so here is a snippet of detail to add...

What this shows only 5 titles from the graph, but should illustrate a few points of what we are discussing about sense-making with ILL and acquisitions.

For the titles "A pilgrimage to Kashi" and "Contemporary Indian writings" the cost to purchase and borrow are close enough to purchase, but more importantly, the # of libraries in Worldcat that hold the title are below 10. Acquiring these titles would diversify the collection and meet our user's needs - irrespective of various other selection factors; publisher, LC#, etc.

For the title "Blood and honour" the economic reason is simple, $5.99 to buy, or $25 to borrow - no brainer - twice. Actually, it's $5.97 new and $0.01 used depending on the edition. So, this one is a worth purchasing, but may or may not be worth collecting. The Library can decide, if shelf space is more important than this popular (Amazon reviews are very high for this title), than the Library decides either to give it to the user (and save lots of money over borrowing it - treating it like a copy), or to discard it to Better World Book, B-Logistics, etc. and maybe get some money back from re-selling the title.

"Confederate Catholics at war" may be an opportunity to acquire if it's in the LC# range we want to grow in, and an opportunity that is supported by 2 of our researchers, however, this one depends on collection building profiles - which ideally are machine readable.

Lastly there is "Classic garden structures", which just for the cost is worth buying, and because I love gardening (hate weeding though), I think we should acquire it and shared it with the three people who requested it.

Hope this chart and this helps illustrate some of the factors worth exploring as new workflow and user interface design of the Get It System. Appreciate hearing your suggestions as well - please post a comment; thanks.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Get It System: sense-making design thoughts

Gave a few presentations recently on the topic of Interlibrary Loan and Acquisitions, or rather, Get It - What increasingly makes sense is to change the operational assumptions we make about how library's process ILL requests. While resource sharing continues to be a very cost effective way to handle requests for materials not owned by the local library, the real costs of borrowing sometimes exceeds the cost of acquiring. This is especially evident when real costs are applied, i.e. lending charges, copyright royalty fees, this makes purchasing alternatives such as books (from Internet book markets) or articles (from publishers) a great strategy. This graph shows some real cost of ILL for book titles borrowed by Geneseo, where lending libraries charged fees (rent) for books, juxtaposed with Amazon prices and sorted by the number of libraries (in green) holding the title. These are just three important variables within the design requirements needed for a Get It system, a next generation ILL/Acquisition system.

For anyone curious about some of the titles in the graph, here are a few examples that may be of interest...

So, what I am sharing is a bit of the fun realities that happen when processing requests to borrow items users ask for.

I could also show how many articles that are borrowed, which may cost $10-15 because of lending charges, plus the cost of paying royalty fees of about $30 per article, exceed the cost to buy the article directly from the publisher... but for this post, I want to stick with books...

When the price of new and used books is lower than the cost to borrow, it makes sense to buy the item - depending on the strategies that makes sense to your library, i.e., I may want to buy books that are under $30 and held at fewer than 10 libraries in Worldcat, etc. In fact, we can all think of lots of strategies that would make sense for this design; Desirable LC#, Publisher, all the fun knowns - please post replies with your favorites.

To make these variables useful and valuable, the Get It System could learn from a useful tool called Book Burro:

Example of how it searches a highlighted ISBN on any website in Firefox and provides an elegant and useful result set.

While these are a few thoughts about the future of a Get It System, the design requirement phase is underway, so any suggestions are very welcome.
Why is this so important?
One reason: What is increasingly evident is that library monograph budgets are in steep decline, which leads borrowing activities to increasingly request materials outside their cool and free friendly library groups, to libraries that charge lending, I mean rental fees. By getting it if it costs (and makes sense), the cost-benefit is that you fulfill the user's request and diversify your library groups holdings. I promise to fill in lots of blanks here, but that is the short answer to what the heck is a Get It System, much more later - comments and suggestions are very welcome. Best wishes.