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Stephen Abram to Leave SirsiDynix

SirsiDynix today announced that Stephen Abram, who has been vice president of innovation since 2004, will leave the company December 31 but will “continue to be a resource for the SirsiDynix Institute and for SirsiDynix User Groups, among other programs in the future.” In a phone interview yesterday, Abram told American Libraries that he was leaving SirsiDynix to take a position at Gale Cengage Learning as vice president for strategic partnerships and markets.

“Stephen has been a voice of change in the library industry, and we look forward to seeing how he drives the conversation about tomorrow’s technology,” said SirsiDynix CEO Gary Rautenstrauch in a press release (PDF file) announcing the departure. “We share his dedication to the betterment of the library community through thoughtful technology development, and so we support Stephen in his transition.”

“My passion is the content,” Abram said yesterday, explaining that he would be doing many of the same things at Gale that he had done for SirsiDynix early on, especially with Schoolrooms. “I’m pretty good at drawing attention to things that need drawing attention to,” Abram quipped. Gale has long been known as a “directory publisher,” he said, but needs to be “known more as a content publisher and a portal publisher.” Part of what he will be doing for the company is imagining what “the Library 3.0 environment is going to look like” and delivering products that are “experience based, community based, and learning based.”

Asked what he thought the challenges would be, Abram first noted the “up side,” which is the fact that “every single library in the world is a Gale Cengage client, and they also have a massive vault of content.” He then said the challenge would be “preparing the market for this modality that we can create library experiences and environments where people are transformed,” adding, ”I don’t think staff understand their own enormous potential.”

Asked if his resignation from SirsiDynix was connected to the lawsuit against the company recently filed by Queens Public Library, he said, ”Nothing, no connection whatsoever. I was never involved in the Queens thing.”

Abram was, however, involved in a recent flap over open source integrated library systems and the threat they pose to companies like SirsiDynix that sell proprietary systems. Abram said the reason he was contacting American Libraries directly to announce the departure was to head off gossip and speculation. “I don’t want people to think that I’m rejecting SirsiDynix,” he said, noting that “the recession is now materially impacting the public sector and librarians, and they are having some emotional reactions.” Abram said he wanted to be a voice of reason in the storm, and his new position at Gale would enable him to do that. “This is a cycle; we will work through this. It’s not the end of libraries, and it’s not the end of information.”

—Leonard Kniffel, American Libraries Online
Posted Fri, 12/18/2009 – 10:31

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Novella on Twitter featured on TVO literacy series

Today’s Times Colonist features a short article by Ben Kaplan, of Canwest News Service about literacy and the adaptation of the publishing industry to current technology.

“In the ever-expanding world of Twitter, the publishing industry is grappling with a question: what exactly is fit to print? “I get a bit frozen on Twitter,” admits author Tish Cohen, speaking of the omnipresent platform that allows users to talk about anything they want as long as they do it in 140 characters or less..’

The novella is being released as a daily stream of eight ornine tweets a day.

The release is tied in with the TVO documentary Emprire of the Word. 

A link to the articles is

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Can we prevent theft at libraries?

Thanks to Kathryn Oldham for passing this news piece along to us.  The comments by the president of ALA at the end of the piece are interesting.  Do you agree with his view?   
12 charged after library books worth $87K stolen

By SARAH KARUSH (AP)

WASHINGTON — Authorities threw the book at 12 people Tuesday, accusing them of checking out pricey textbooks from a public library system outside Washington to sell for quick cash.The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System in Maryland lost $87,000 worth of material from thefts between November 2008 and July 2009, county prosecutors said.Textbooks and other works were quickly sold to used book stores at a fraction of their original value, investigators said.Prince George’s County authorities said the suspects, at least some of whom were related, withdrew close to the limit of 75 books from 12 of the library system’s 18 locations. Each is charged with theft over $500 and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.Authorities said all 12 charged Tuesday are Maryland residents. They range in age from 20 to 51.Some college libraries also were hit by some of the same suspects, officials said.”They’re traveling quite far and wide for the little bit of money they get,” said Mary Eilerman, chief of security at Harford Community College, also victimized. “They were ripping off the bar codes and handing them over to book consignment shops as quickly as they could.”Eilerman said a $100 textbook would yield about $3 or $4 at a consignment shop. She said one of the suspects told her she was using the cash from the thefts to buy Ecstasy.Bridget Warren, a spokeswoman for the Prince George’s library system, said the 75-book limit is reviewed annually, along with all policies. The loss represents about 2 percent of the $4 million that the system spends on materials annually.Dealing with thefts is tough for libraries, said Jim Rettig, immediate past president of the American Library Association.”We want these things to be used. We want them to go out,” said Rettig, university librarian at the University of Richmond in Virginia. “If we wanted to prevent theft, we wouldn’t let them leave the building.”

The link to the article is here.

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Open Source ILS Systems?? Are they the future?

Interesting news from the ALA Direct Newsletter titled : Open source advocates reject SirsiDynix warning

It says:

“In the ongoing discussion about open source library systems, one wouldn’t expect a big ILS vendor selling closed, proprietary products to have anything nice to say.

Nonetheless, when SyrsiDynix Vice President of Innovation Stephen Abram did weigh in on the issue, his harsh criticism created quite a dust-up on Twitter and the blogosphere. But Abram’s white paper, originally believed to be a leak and published in Wikileaks October 29, may have done more to legitimize the role of open source software in libraries than challenge it.

If nothing else, Abram’s marketing piece revealed that open source ILSs are a threat to the vendor-based market….”

American Libraries Online, Nov. 11 ALA

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E-books threaten sales of print editions?

A recent article in the New York Times praised the partnership between public libraries and e-books.

“But some publishers worry that the convenience of borrowing books electronically could ultimately cut into sales of print editions.

“I don’t have to get in my car, go to the library, look at the book, check it out,” said John Sargent, chief executive of Macmillan, which publishes authors like Janet Evanovich, Augusten Burroughs and Jeffrey Eugenides. “Instead, I’m sitting in the comfort of my living room and can say, ‘Oh, that looks interesting’ and download it.”

As digital collections grow, Mr. Sargent said he feared a world in which “pretty soon you’re not paying for anything.” Partly because of such concerns, Macmillan does not allow its e-books to be offered in public libraries.

Simon & Schuster, whose authors include Stephen King and Bob Woodward, has also refrained from distributing its e-books to public libraries. “We have not found a business model that works for us and our authors,” said Adam Rothberg, a spokesman.

For now, the advent of e-book borrowing has not threatened physical libraries by siphoning away visitors because the recession has driven so many new users seeking free resources through library doors. And in some cases, few library patrons seem to know that e-book collections even exist.”

For the entire article, click here.

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Taken for granted but popular – public libraries!

From the American Libraries Blog –

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:08 am by Leonard Kniffel

Every librarian knows that today’s libraries—although venerable places of learning, innovation, and opportunity—face contradictions in many areas of public perception:

  • While libraries are popular, they are often taken for granted.
  • While libraries are ubiquitous, they are not often visible.
  • While libraries are unique, they face competition.

Out of these challenges was born @ your library: the Campaign for America’s Libraries, the American Library Association’s multiyear public awareness campaign to promote the value of libraries and librarians. The campaign was launched in April 2001 to enlist library workers in reminding the public that effective libraries are dynamic, modern community centers for the pursuit of knowledge, information, entertainment, and lifelong learning.

During National Library Week this year, ALA launched the @ your library website, designed not as a tool for librarians but as a direct pipeline to the general public, aimed at increasing and improving the use of libraries by reaching out directly to all kinds of people of all ages and building on direct outreach efforts the campaign has already undertaken, ­including multimedia celebrity public service announcements, and partnerships with such nationally known outlets as Woman’s Day magazine, Univision Radio, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. The website’s implicit and often overt message is simple: Visit your library often, in person and online.

The new website is a pilot project funded by a $270,700 grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to advance ALA’s long-stated goal of outreach directly to the public, at www.atyourlibrary.org/.

Through the creation of a public-awareness website that is easy to use and that publishes topical and relevant articles not about libraries but about what is available to patrons through them, ALA is using online social media to stimulate library usage, raise awareness of libraries as essential community resources, and create the library users and advocates of the future.

In many ways, the @ your library website represents the goal of the Campaign for America’s Libraries: ALA outreach directly to the public. The website aims to deliver engaging content and to showcase the wide array of resources, services, programs, and other lifelong learning opportunities that libraries offer. For its debut, it was stocked with material focusing on four broad areas, called:

  • Family Life
  • Career Development and Job Searching
  • Teen Spotlight
  • Kidding Around

Recent features around these themes have included: “Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe on Social Networking Sites,” “Summer Fun on the Cheap,” “Create Your Own Cartoon,” and “How to Negotiate Your Salary.” Clicking under Quick Topics in the right-hand navigation reveals a menu of choices, with a push to the library as the number one source for authoritative and accurate information, a reliable resource that’s there for the asking. New content is posted regularly on a companion blog and in the “What’s New” section, which addresses the four specific target audiences in a spirit of inclusiveness.

Statistics show a sharp rise in library use across the country, especially in the area of job-seeking and self-improvement to compete in the job market. Given the country’s economic crisis, the timing of this component of the site was particularly fortuitous. The @ your library website and associated social networking are tying into and supporting a growing phenomenon—the quest for library resources that help job seekers acquire new skills and find work. Public demand is the best assurance that our nation’s libraries—which outnumber our ­nation’s McDonald’s—are utilized to their fullest and subsequently supported and funded.

The site also offers recommended books, movies, music, and games for users looking for the latest media. These are authoritative recommendations, many from units of ALA, such as Newbery and Caldecott winners. Most media resources mentioned on the site are also linked to the WorldCat database, which lists the nearest libraries that own the item.

The website has been designed to answer questions that first-time  ­library users may have, such as:

  • “What’s at the Library?”
  • “How do I use the Library?”
  • “Why use the Library?”

In order to encourage people to visit libraries, a search function was incorporated in the top navigation. This enables users to find libraries near them.

The riches that bring the Campaign for America’s Libraries to life lie within our libraries and in the real-life stories illustrating how libraries and librarians positively impact the individual’s quality of life. Since its founding in 2001, the campaign has been embraced by over 20,000 libraries of all types in all 50 states, in addition to those being reached by the 31 countries that have signed on for the Campaign for the World’s Libraries.

ALA’s hope is to not only enrich the content of the website but spread links to related organizations eager to partner with libraries. Major activities planned for the next phase of the project include the creation of more interactivity, including an e-newsletter. A Flickr page is in the works, and social media, including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, are being used to attract parents, kids, and teens to the site. A logo that can be used on library websites to link to ­@ your library is also available.

All types of libraries are included in the @ your library campaign to emphasize the craddle-to-grave continuum of lifelong learning that library use represents. This national program provides the foundation from which a series of targeted campaigns are being built. These campaigns provide the flexibility and the tailoring necessary to ensure that the Campaign for America’s Libraries is engaging all members of the library community and reaching out to new users. In 2002, an Academic and Research Library Campaign was launched. A School Library Campaign followed in 2003, then a Public Library Campaign (“The Smartest Card”) in September 2004 and two phases of a campaign for children’s librarians (Kids! @ your library) in 2006 and 2009. Also in 2006, a new toolkit for librarians in rural areas debuted, and in the fall of 2007 a toolkit for young adult librarians was created.

On the Campaign for America’s Libraries website at  you’ll find programming ideas, sample press materials, downloadable artwork, tips and suggestions for National Library Week and other promotions, press releases, photos, videos, campaign updates, and more to help you help library users help themselves.

These promotional materials are free and designed to be customized by your library to help you conduct your own marketing and public relations efforts. If you have any questions about the campaign or any of the resources available, contact ALA at atyourlibrary@ala.org. Come and see what’s new at www.atyourlibrary.org and let the campaign staff know what you think.

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Shushing ladies, dank smell and endless shelves of books!

Monica from Cowichan branch sends this article from CNN our way.

  • Title: The Future of Libraries: With or Without Books
  • Story Highlights
  • As books go digital, libraries are reevaluating their roles
  • Some say libraries will soon act more like community centers
  • Most say the physical book will stay in libraries, but with less importance
  • Some libraries use futuristic tools to attract new patrons
  • To read the entire article, click here.

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