I met with a group of students earlier this month and the topic of eBooks came up. They unanimously expressed a preference for print. I was curious. What I found was that none of them had read a book on an eBook Reader. Their exposure was limited to viewing content via a web browser on a laptop. I don’t consider that reading an eBook.
Here’s the thing: it’s been a few weeks now and I’m still thinking about those students. Somehow I feel responsible for their development. I don’t necessarily want to convert them all into Kindle customers but I’m thinking about their careers. The question that is nagging me:
In ten years will students be at a disadvantage if they are not proficient with various forms of digital content?
It’s one thing to prefer print, but if you are completely uncomfortable and absent in the digital ecosystem, does that hurt your prospects?
I recently published an essay in portal. It explores the mindset (and toolkit) of futurists and attempts to connect that to libraries. I blogged about it earlier with the idea of “change literacy”—which I still think is a fascinating concept.
The portal version is fine, but I can’t legally post their PDF – so I made my own. Besides that, academic publisher prints always look a little stodgy and grayish to me, no offense. I prefer a more uplifting wrapper for my words. Design is a vital part of the communications process and I like to have some control over how my ideas are presented.
Here is a snippet:
Librarians could discuss ad infinitum the predictions, proclamations, worries, fears, hopes, and dreams about what libraries are becoming. In fact, as a profession librarians are obsessed with talking about our future. Books, articles, blog posts, conference sessions, an…
Amazon just announced an All-You-Can-Read service: Unlimited Kindle. It offers a collection of over 600,000 eBook titles for a low price of $9.99 per month. If this truly includes all Kindle books—it is a game changer.
Take this Elsevier title for example. It sells for $102. Under the new model I could access this and hundreds of similar high quality titles for just $10 per month.
Or textbooks. Why pay nearly $200 each when you can probably get all your books for the entire semester for just $30. (3 months of access)
I did some quick math and it would cost us about $300,000 per month to offer this service to our campus community. Or about $3.8 million annually—perhaps less depending on how summer enrollment is configured. Obviously Amazon will want to sell to individuals and not offer an institutional rate, but hypothetically that’s the ballpark.
What if Obama paid for your Elsevier subscription? Or rather—what if the federal government covered the expense? Package it as a STEM or innovation initiative– something along those lines.
This is a hypothetical question, but obviously the free thinking from last week has carried over.
The short of it: there is a lot of conversation around open access and federal mandates for data and publications, but that feels like a slow road. The prestige of commercial journals is too ingrained—so how about a different approach?
What if we changed the scale? Instead of individual libraries (or consortiums) battling it out with the likes of Elsevier and other academic publishers (I’ll never forget the audacity of Nature’s 400% increase!) — what if the government purchased access to major academic journals (and eBook packages?) for all citizens. Or all households? Or for anyone…
I was talking with Rebecca Miller last week and she mentioned that she was working on a handful of systematic reviews. I was curious about this since I had not heard the phrase before (I’m more engineering than sci-med) and as she described the process it seemed very labor-intensive.
It wasn’t the methodology that fascinated me, but rather, the fact that this seems to be another attribute of the changing role of librarians. I asked Rebecca to write a blurb that I could share:
Over the past year or so, researchers in HNFE, Public Health, and Engineering Education have become increasingly involved in conducting systematic reviews in order to meet grant requirements and promote more rigorous research among their graduate students. Systematic reviews are scaled-up literature reviews that provide a strong foundation for evidence-based medicine and policy decisions. There are standards…
I have been looking for an opportunity to work with Damon Jaggars for several years now. Last October we caught up at the Library Assessment Conference (here is the paper I presented) and worked out a plan for me to be a guest editor for a special issue of The Journal of Library Administration. For me, blog posts and whitepapers are the perfect vehicles of expression; however, I do like to dip into the more formal side of publishing every so often.
Here is a taste of the framework:
Imagine academic libraries fifteen years from now or at some other inflection point. How do we define the academic library in this future? Where does the library begin and end relative to research and academic computing, and other campus and network services that will be available to faculty and students? How will higher education change and how will the academic library align with that change? What…
It’s an interesting visual showing how an extended slinky hovers in midair when dropped. The dramatic demonstration is followed by the scientific explanation. What’s cool about the video is that the researcher shows the raw model on the computer and talks about the experiment, but it’s the intro that grabs your attention. The demo is intriguing and compels you into wanted to learn more. It’s Matrix stuff!
Along with the video there is also a link to the pre-print of the paper providing everyone with open access to the scholarly material. It’s a great way to promote a paper.
The video has over one million views and over nine hundred comments. Granted most of the comments are silly, but the video was effective in getting people thinking and talking about…
We celebrated Open Access this week since we had Cameron Neylon (PLoS) on campus for a few days as part of our Distinguished Innovator in Residence program. I’ll have more to share about that later, but today I wanted to highlight an interesting component of our OA program: The Knowledge Drive.
Late last spring, I watched people line up to give blood at a Virginia Blood Services drive on campus. I thought about what made it to successful; VBS had advertised the need for blood, so there was awareness on campus. The drive was also convenient, since VBS took the blood drive to where potential donors were, rather than waiting for donors to come to them. Donors were also receiving items like T-shirts, flip flops, or stickers that let others know that they were contributing to a greater good.
I spent time in California interviewing graduate students about their work processes. Something that stood out to me was how science and engineering students typically looked for people (rather than subject headings) during the information gathering stage. The objective was to find researchers working in particular areas and then mine their websites for additional papers. That’s exactly the approach that Scholrly hopes to improve upon.
I first came across Scholrly about a year ago when a friend of a friend liked them on Facebook. I explored and this is what I found:
“Scholrly aims to give its users, from the garage inventor to the tenured professor, a single stop for finding research connections and insights faster than ever before.”
I spoke with co-founder Corbin Pon last August and followed their development. Over the past year they’ve worked with faculty at…
Wikipedia and several other web services are going dark tomorrow. They are shutting down– largely to make a political statement, but I can’t help but feel they are also trying to make a point about their cultural value. College students everywhere are lucky it’s not during prime paper-writing season or else they might be forced to actually use their library’s website.
The blackout scenario is something that has playfully come up everywhere I’ve ever worked. The conversation (usually at dinner, in bar, or at the end of an outreach planning meeting late in the afternoon) goes something like this:
People (faculty) don’t appreciate the library. I bet if we turned off our proxy (access to all digital content) for a hour then we’d get their attention. Then they’d see just how important the library is to their research.
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is Associate Dean for Learning & Outreach at Virginia Tech. This blog is about designing better user experiences and the pursuit of use-sensitive libraries.
In his new book, Brian Mathews speaks directly to the academic library practitioner. The guiding principle, that marketing should focus on the lifestyle of the user, showcases how the library fits within the daily life of students.