Friday, March 25, 2011

Some cool news

Spring's arrived, but it's already gone on vacation for a few days. It's cold here!

In order to keep warm without having to burn all the, er, flammable material in the building, we've been keeping busy. There are three major things I'd like to announce this week.

First, it's that time of year again, when we give away a $200 gift card to Barnes & Noble! See the details here.

Second, in response to the survey we distributed a few weeks ago, we are currently piloting an express workstation in the public-computer area on the first floor. It's one of the stand-up computers, directly in front of the Service Desk, and has been marked out with a very attractive sign, if I may say so myself.

This computer will not require a login for use, which was one of the issues we brought up in the survey. Some of our computers are a little older than others, and have had a difficult time coping with the high volume of use, so it can take a while to log in, find a book's call number in the catalog, and log out on their way to class. We've since had Technology Services come in and clean up a little bit, so response times have improved, but things can still get backed up. This way, you can just come in, find what you need, and take off without having to wait for that little spinny hoop to stop twirling.

Since it's intended to speed up some tasks for everyone, we've placed a 15-minute limit on use of the machine. It's not intended for a two-hour marathon paper-writing session; since there should be fewer people monopolizing computers just so they can find a single book, there should be more public computers available for that purpose. We've also decided to disallow printing -- that's something that can take up more time.

As I've said, this is a pilot. Some things may be tweaked and others set in stone. We'll be watching the express station and getting an idea of what real utility a service like this would offer, so if it sounds good to you, I heartily encourage you to use it. If it turns out to be a boon to everyone, we've got further plans in the works.

The third thing I'd like to announce is that we're kicking around the possibility of adding a new e-book vendor to our repertoire. Call this a sneak peek!

It's a bigger deal to us than to you -- you'd see some more e-books in the catalog and they'd look a little different. We're excited, though, because this new vendor, Ebook Library (EBL), doesn't quite stop there in a couple of ways.

First, and most relevant to you, the e-books are downloadable. You can save them on your computer, laptop, or mobile device as Adobe Digital Edition PDFs for a limited period. It's sort of a "Your mission, should you choose to accept it ... " kind of thing, only the explosions are a little quieter. This, I think, is what I'm most excited about. It doesn't work on the Kindle, unfortunately, but I'm inclined to think that the joy of a Kindle is best left unmarred by academic considerations. It does work on the iPad and iPhone, though.

The second thing is more relevant to us than to you: its pricing structure. It works in a way that's new to us and may end up offering a balance between cost and usage that we just haven't seen before. Sorry to be so vague, but the full explanation requires some fairly recondite Librarianese. The upshot is that it's looking pretty good from our end, too.

We're still in the trial phase, so it's not quite available just yet, but the skies are clearing up!


  1. I'm very excited of the potential of having more e-books available! I recently purchased a Nook color, and I love being able to down load books for free from the library. I was initially disappointed with the e-book choices found in Gally's system. I'm hoping this will add more selection to my e-reading!

    Thanks, guys!

    P.S. The Adobe Digital Editions e-books will download to a Nook!

  2. You're more than welcome, Joel! As the e-book format evolves, I think we can expect more of this kind of offering in the future.


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