Archive for June, 2006

Podcasting has officially become ubiquitous. It was a tad surprising to see this banner add on but hey, if it works for marketing movies perhaps even more libraries should consider using the tool? Greg has some great librarycentric info on the subject at Open Stacks if you’re so inclined

The movie is predicted to be a real stinker btw. Look for it on Netflix soon. ;)

Why Compete With Netflix?

Thanks to David King who has added his own thoughts to the Netflix and Libraries discussion. Some interesting comments popped up, including this one from Steve Lawson:
?But, Michael, I also said that I doubted you could effectively and cheaply mail items other than DVDs, such as hardcover books. I could be wrong about that, but that is where my ?why compete with Netflix? comment is coming from.?

Good point. Two ideas: First, this is a challenge that it seems could only be dealt with using large scale group bargaining. Now there?s a novel idea (pun sadly intended)! Second, it is fascinating to note that FEDEX got dropped from this years Wired Top 40 Companies because ?In less than a decade, overnight delivery has gone from specialty service to standard offering.? Wired sees this, but do libraries?

While it wasn?t Steve?s point, it seems worthwhile to look more at the simpler question of ?Why compete with Netflix?? With the thought that ultimately this really is about content access, Netflix is as good a place to start as any. So, why compete with Netflix? How about this: ?Compete with Netflix as part of a multifaceted approach to securing and growing the role of libraries in the shifting community of information consumers.? Grandly put, compete with Netflix so that we can continue to offer our services to users in the next 10-30 years.

Here are some more compelling reasons to consider:

For starters, those libraries that circulate ?entertainment? DVDs (movies, music and TV titles mostly) have lost circulation and market share. Netflix didn?t just decrease business at video stores, but they decreased business at the libraries circulating this exact same material. And we all know how loss of circulation equates to lack of funding. Should we not want to figure out how Netflix managed this and then respond deftly?

It?s the point that comes up so often, particularly in ?library geek? circles: if libraries sit by comfortably and say ?we don?t need to change in response to these successful market cornering models? we may just very likely sit ourselves right out of our community altogether. It just seems prudent to more carefully watch and then nimbly respond to the ?Netflixish? models out there.

Again, Netflix is DVD?s for now, but that will shift into a variety of content types all too soon. And ?content? can be anything. From the fresh off the press Wired Top 40 we see Netflix is at #14 this year. Note the last sentence ::
2005 Rank: 15
The top online DVD rental house got that way using the US Postal Service, not a bandwidth-challenged Net. But thanks to BitTorrent, iTunes, and Hollywood?s growing cooperation, movie downloads are finally becoming viable. CEO Reed Hastings promises a digital strategy by year-end.?

Here are some examples of the sort of things could all eventually be integrated fully into Netflix service offerings:

These fine folks expanded, yet did a great job of cutting libraries out of a nice little chunk of the audiobook consumption. I just heard somebody say ?Stick that in your Netflix and chew on it for a while!?.

And how about these folks, (aka MovieBeam) who will already ?beam? a library of the latest Hollywood release into you home for you to rent (just in case you don?t have access to or want on-demand digital cable).

GameFly is Netflix for video games and Game Tap lets you play classic game content from them, directly on you PC. The content game is on (another painful intended pun).

Once the software and infrastructure mature a bit more Netflix will surely be in there slugging it out. Look at TiVo! They are already sticking their head into the content fray via a partnership with Yahoo!. Here?s proof (from very own TiVo):
Yahoo! Invaded my TiVo

So where will libraries be in this world? Hopefully on top of the game and not beating their proverbial breasts and and wailing “Why, oh why didn’t we compete with Netflix?!”

Another upcoming (likely the next) post will look at the community building features Netflix offers. The Netflix/Library numbers post is in the works too.

Finally, as if you hadn’t had enough, here is an especially very interesting and revealing article from Stanford Magazine about Netflix and its founder, Reed Hastings. Seems like a decent guy, Mr. Hastings does.

What about the Free Public Library? Four Points.

Renee commented: “No, charging for *expanded levels* of service is not something public libraries as tax-supported institutions should do.”

Renee sure isn’t alone in thinking this. It really is a vitally important point that comes up continually in discussions like this. Perhaps Renee’s school of thought is best. Ideally, I completely agree and at the outset want to be very careful to not come across as a know it all, ?cause I sure ain?t one, sister! However, shifting attitudes, markets and methods of service provision make me think twice about this conceptually. Here are four points in this regard:

1. Most importantly, core services offered previously would not cost any more than before. In other words, we would simply be adding more options for our patrons. The same free services would still be the same free services. Plus, we could tie free services and these new services together to expose the library and its collection even more. Imagine how many new people we would drive into our libraries with this service and then expose them to the other wonderful things our libraries have to offer them for free! This is a HUGE service, outreach and marketing opportunity for a profession/industry that needs exactly that.

2. Some libraries now charge their patrons the ILL cost for those items that they can only get with the ?condition? of the borrower paying a ?lending fee? to the lending institution. It?s not a common practice, but it does exist.

3. When it comes to the money issue, here?s another point: If our local “Friends of the Library” group can take money in for the library at book sales or they can sell patrons book bags or library t-shirts, etc, then what is the difference? The methods for legally bringing in unique (not-for-profit) monetary streams already exist in most library institutions. Thinking of new ways to use this infrastructure is different and challenging, but not necessarily wrong.

4. Finally, those libraries that are a part of Open WorldCat (a significant and rapidly growing number) and are participating in the “Buy It Now” feature are already (and/or will be) getting a percentage of the sale price of each item sold through their relationship with Open WorldCat. That system is very legal and is welcomed with open arms by participating libraries.
OWC - Diamond Age

So, depending on how the systems we are discussing were set up, it sure seems like it could work. The mental (not to mention technical) model is a shift for sure, but it certainly seems that both libraries and patrons could benefit greatly from it. While these posts are centered on Netflix and libraries, the big picture isn?t really about DVD?s (pun not intended). What we?re really talking about is material and CONTENT. Content of all types. That?s huge, huge, huge and nobody can come close to touching the depth and quality of material content libraries have. Yet. At this point “they” may simply sometimes have better access and provision models. We?ll figure this business out one way or another…or perhaps business already has us figured out?

Coming Soon:
Netflix Numbers vs. Library Numbers

Netflix! You got your (corporate) chocolate in my (non-profit) peanut butter!

Oh Netflix, why can?t you just be a library? Oh, wait?you ARE a library! Sure, you?re wrapped up in a company and a series of web services and efficient delivery, but your product really IS a library.

Or is your most important product acutally your series of web services and efficient, market expectation meeting delivery? Hmmm…
We (libraries) have the same deliverable, physical (or e-content) products Netflix has. Scratch that. We have much, much, much more than Netflix! Our libraries collections blow Netflix away. Far, far away. So what?s the problem?

The problem for libraries is infrastructure. We don?t have the Netflix infrastructure. We?ve got WorldCat and Open WorldCat, which hold promise, but where is the infrastructure (including appropriate pricing)? Libraries just don?t have the series of web services and efficient, market expectation meeting delivery that it takes (and will increasingly take) to succeed and thrive in a world of increasingly important information delivery and content provision.

As non-profits, couldn?t we just charge cost for an expanded level of service for patrons that selected to buy in. I know that idea upsets a fair hunk of library folks, but remember, it is an increasingly ?content, not containers? world now. Love it or hate it, it’s where we are now and it has to be effectively dealty with. People (aka patrons aka consumers aka customers) don?t give a hoot if they get what they want from the local library, from Amazon or from iTunes. A huge percentage of folks don?t even give a hoot if they have to PAY upfront for a service that might be free (but more slowly delivered and/or less easy to access) at their local library. Heck, I use Netflix (love it) and I have a Public Library less than a mile from my house. For goodness sake, if I’m doing this personally and I am so bold (or presumptuous?) as to write the “Libraryman” blog, something in the system isn’t connecting effectively.

So let?s figure out a way to get together and offer our “better libraries” to people the way we really need to. If we are truly all about providing information, content and services and not overly concerned about rocking the boat, that?s what we need to do. It’s what we’ll have to do if we want to stay vital to our user base.

Two more thoughts on Netflix:
Why, oh why isn?t it common for libraries to let patrons have on-line accounts with sortable hold lists like Netflix? This is a no-brainer. Vendors? Quick! Somebody come up with an open source third party plug-in!

Finally, from the Netflix Fan blog comes an interesting list of the author?s favorite things about the service. Libraries could learn a lot from seriously thinking about this list. (no wise cracks about his porn comments, please).
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
My Favorite things about Netflix
Easy to use Website,
Easy to use service, and
DVDs are an easy to use medium
No commercials (unless you think banner ads are commercials)
No storage limitations
Easy to change your address, so your movies can follow you anywhere
No equipment to buy or lease (yet)
No contract
No installation (yet)
No cancellation penalty
Cancel anytime
Constant stream of movies coming and going
I get nothing but what I want
Less risk of getting a crap film
No schedules
No due dates
No wasted trips to video store for out-of-stock titles
No traveling to and from the video store
No forgetting what to rent
Biggest selection possible
No late fees
Learning about new films I didn’t know existed
Keeps me within my budget
Free shipping and handling
Rapid turnaround
Clever envelope design
Clever distribution system
Widely loved by a great online community of fellow members
No porn
RSS feeds
Member reviews
Great recommendations system
It’s not Blockbuster, Wal-Mart, or Amazon
Easy to buy cheap DVDs
Easy to share movies, ratings, and recommendations with Netflix Friends
Gift subscriptions
Zillions of previews
Do you have a favorite thing about Netflix which I failed to mention?

The Libraries and Librarians Group on Flickr:
One Year, 700 Members, 3,500 Images (with both images and members coming from six continents), two tagging projects, one mash-up, 22 discusion threads, oh my!

As we hit a series of nice round numbers for the Libraries and Librarians Group on Flickr, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has participated and made the group the amazing resource and community that it is today.

Along these lines, if any of you are going to be at the Internet Librarian Conference this year there is going to be a presentation on Flickr. It will cover lots of ways libraries can use it as a tool for searching, outreach, marketing, connecting, community building and technical innovation. I’ll be presenting with some other (more impressive I might add:) folks too. Folks from other countries even! Now that is community, baby! :) I’ve been talking about Flickr and libraries quite a lot this past year, all over the country, but this one is near and dear to my heart.

Here is the description of the presentation:
Flickr & Libraries at the Internet Librarian 2006 Conference

If you haven’t checked out Flickr, or this specific Flickr Group please do. Here’ is a link to the Libraries and Librarians Group page.


Try This Cool Tool: Wikimapia

Oh, man, this is COOL! It’s a global Google map AND it is a wiki! Go ahead and try it out. It really works! Find a location (like your local library:) and add a description, including a hyperlink even!. How cool is that? The potential here for libraries is just mind boggling! THIS demonstrates what the whole 2.0 business is all about. You just couldn’t do this on the web a few years ago.

Imagine tying this into local history image collections, perhaps with different maps for different spans of history? You could link to structures, events and then their corresponding documents. This last sentence is geeky, but: This idea reminds me somewhat of the visual model for ?gopher? browsing. But this could be workable! What a way to browse, eh?

It?s not a stretch to imagine this sort of mapping and linking tool popping up more and more in virtual worlds like the library in Second Life, eh? Hmmm?what WILL web browsers look like in five or ten years? Surely some will be very, very different and much more immersive and experiential. Using tools tied back to concepts like wikimapia no doubt.


CHI/YA Technology Speaker

I just got an email asking:

“Are you able to suggest any speakers that specialize in technology for children and young adults?

Ideally, we can prepare ***(insert a state everybody wants to visit***) librarians with a basic introduction to the technology kids and young adults will be using or materials they may be requesting in the next one to five years.”

I’ll also be presenting here, but on other subject matter. If this is your area of expetise and you might be interested drop me a line at mp (at sign)



What’s Your Problem?

Whoopty Doo! Life in Libraryland is good. Proof? Dear Brenda tells us one of the most heartwarming library stories ever.


Upcoming Workshops and Presentations

More will be added and a couple are intentionally missing, but this is a fair hunk of where I’ll be over the next few months:

June 6
?Keep Up!: Practical emerging technology for you and your library.?
The Libraries of the Claremont Colleges, Claremont, CA

June 14
?Keep Up!: Practical emerging technology for you and your library.?
**Unlike the other “Keep Up!” workshops, this is a customized, private, institutional training session.**
Highline Community College, Seattle, WA

June 21
Hall & Oates Concert
Los Angeles, CA
Ok, ok, this is the only non-work thing I put in this list. Just wanted to see if anybody was actually reading this monstrosity! :) Always wanted to see them live and I have a GREAT seat. Not too lame, is it? Ahhh, who cares, I’m excited!

July 11
OCLC Western Online Workshop
?WorldCat Resource Sharing ? Searching?

July 25:
?Keep Up!: Practical emerging technology for you and your library. Version 2.0?
University of California, Davis, CA

August 2
OCLC Western Workshop
?WorldCat Resource Sharing ? Searching?
National Hispanic University, San Jose, CA

August 3
OCLC Western Workshop
?WorldCat Resource Sharing ? Basics?
National Hispanic University, San Jose, CA

August 18
Online Event
OPAL: Online Programming for All Libraries–And All Library Users
?Delivering Top-Notch Technology Training for Your Patrons ?
With Brenda Hough, Northeast Kansas Library System and Rebecca Richardson, Purdue University Libraries

August 29
OCLC Western Online Workshop
?WorldCat Resource Sharing ? Searching?

August 31
OCLC Western Online Workshop
?WorldCat Resource Sharing ? Basics?

September 6:
?Keep Up!: Practical emerging technology for you and your library. Version 2.0?
Eugene, OR (Location TBD)

September 7:
PORTALS Executive Council Meeting
Portland, OR
?Many to Many: Forum on blogs, RSS, convergence, trends and social networking.?

September 8:
?Keep Up!: Practical emerging technology for you and your library. Version 2.0?
Portland, OR (Location TBD)

Mid-Late September:
?Keep Up!: Practical emerging technology for you and your library. Version 2.0?
Reno, NV (Exact date and location TBD soon)

October 16:
Central Oregon Regional Library Conference
Redmond, OR
?Social Software: For you, your library and your community.?

October 19-20:
MEA-MFT Educator?s Conference
Billings, MT
-?Social Software: What, Why, If, How?
-?Flickr: Unique tools to share, connect, excite and engage.?
-?You Can Really Do That With A Computer?: Portable computing, device evolution and the future of content access.?

October 24-25
Internet Librarian Conference
Monterey, CA
-Tuesday, October 24: ?Flickr & Libraries?
With Fiona Hooten, National Library of Australia, Lluisa Nunez, Universitat de Barcelona and Michael Sauers, BCR.
-October 25: ?Technology Training in a Library 2.0 World?
with Brenda Hough, Northeast Kansas Library System and Rebecca Richardson, Purdue University Libraries

November 10-11
Hawaii Library Association Conference
Waikiki, HI
Emerging Technologies Affecting Libraries
-Presentations TBD