Links to public libraries ebook lending review report and responses

The independent report of ebook lending in English public libraries has now been published. The link below will take you to the report itself and the government’s response to it.
The key recommendations are:
  • The provisions in the Digital Economy Act 2010 that extend PLR to audio books and loans of on-site e-books should be enacted.
  • Further legislative changes should be made to allow PLR to take account of remote e-loans.
  • The overall PLR pot should be increased to recognise the increase in rights holders.
  • A number of pilots in 2013 using established literary events should be set up to test business models and user behaviours, and provide a transparent evidence base: all major publishers and aggregators should participate in these pilots.
  • Public libraries should offer both on-site and remote E-Lending service to their users, free at point of use.
  • The interests of publishers and booksellers must be protected by building in frictions that set 21st-century versions of the limits to supply which are inherent in the physical loans market (and where possible, opportunities for purchase should be encouraged).  These frictions include the lending of each digital copy to one reader at a time, that digital books could be securely removed after lending and that digital books would deteriorate after a number of loans.  The exact nature of these frictions should evolve over time to accommodate changes in technology and the market.
There have already been a number of responses to it from various individuals and  organisations (below), mostly welcoming the majority of the report’s recommendations.

I’m not going to comment on it here (please take at look at Voices for The Library response), but I did just want to highlight this section on the opportunities that could come from ebook lending:

For libraries, embracing a digital strategy could give them a better way of communication with their members, helping them to bring a larger footfall into their buildings for events and services.  For publishers, digital lending could bring them closer to the book-borrowing and book-buying public.  And for writers, the extension of PLR to the digital and audio world would allow for much more accurate financial recognition for the borrowing of their books.  If a digital sales platform is developed, as part of a library catalogue, through which local booksellers can be promoted, this may support the development and the sustainability of these retail outlets as part of the local high street.

Stanley Unwin – The truth about publishing (1976) This was an interesting book to flick through for an historical perspective on the relationship between libraries and publishers. It’s not all focused on that relationship specifically, but there are a few snippets. Particular areas that caught my interest were: The value of public libraries in providing light entertainment to the masses. Legal deposit and Copyright Act. Efforts made by authors to bring in the Public Lending Right payment.

NewsNow News search engine

I wanted to give a mention to one of my favourite news search engines that I’ve been using for some time now – It’s straightforward to use – type your search into a box and it gives you a list of news items from across the world matching that search.

Reasons why I find it so useful include:

  • It’s got a wide resource coverage and picks up more local and international news than other news search engines I’ve tried.
  • It doesn’t focus on high ranking news stories only.
  • Each news item appears with a little flag for the country of origin against it, so I know which part of the world the article is focused on.
  • You can choose to hide results from specific publications – this is useful to me as I’m generally focusing on UK related news and I hide a lot of international publications. There is however a limit to the number of publications you can hide.
  • The search results will indicate if any results are hidden and the number of results hidden.
  • If you set up an account it will remember which publications you’ve asked it to hide.
  • If you set up an account you can save your favourite searches.
  • It’s got a decent mobile version of the site too.
  • It’s quick – a few other news search engines I’ve tried have been incredibly slow at retrieving results.

The only area it falls down on (for my use) is lack of sharing options of results, including the fact that the search results aren’t available as RSS feeds. However if you’ve got a sharing widget on your internet browser or you have a smart phone with sharing options most of the sharing issues can be overcome apart from the results RSS feed.

Replacing Google Reader With Ifttt and Pocket

A couple of days ago Google announced they were getting rid of Google Reader, which was a bit of a blow for me, as I use it as a main source of news for sharing to a broad range of social network accounts and sites semi-automatically. I used it in conjunction with ifttt, so that if I added a specific tag to an item in a Google Reader feed it would trigger an action to automatically post it to 1 of a number of accounts I use regularly.

Google Reader was flexible and because I could connect it to ifttt in this way it meant I didn’t have to log in and out of various personal and group Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Buffer and bookmarking accounts sharing links and news – I could do it all in one place. I could also do it via any device I had connected to the internet – PC, smartphone, tablet. Google Reader was also useful in the fact that you could organise RSS feeds into folders or tags and didn’t just have a huge jumble of unrelated links filling up the page. The whole set up was such a time-saver.

So, when I heard about the planned retirement of Reader my heart sank for a few reasons (1) Another popular service was being ditched by a high profile company without any thought for their users – I’d have happily paid to use Google Reader if I’d been given the option.  (2) How was I going to continue sharing this information if I had to do it all manually? (3) This ifttt setup was a key part of a presentation I was supposed to be giving at a conference about a week after Google Reader was due to close down – I could end up with very little to talk about at it!

So, I knew I had to try to find another solution. I’d looked at other RSS and news services some time ago to see if there were any decent alternatives to Google Reader. My main concern back then was that news articles were quite slow at being pulled through into the feed. Ideally if had an RSS output feed I’d use that for all my news – it’s got a wider coverage and is more up-to-date than Google News. Anyway, there wasn’t anything that worked in the way I needed it to that would provide all the functionality and flexibility in one place. Looking at lists of recommendations for Google Reader that have also appeared over the last couple of days nothing still met my specific needs in one package, although I’ve discovered some handy services I didn’t know existed.

However, after a bit of tinkering with ifttt I have managed to come up with a solution that works in a similar way to my Google Reader and ifttt set up, but instead I use a service called Pocket. This is a service for bookmarking items and articles to be read later.

Firstly I had to set up ifttt recipes to pull in all the RSS news feeds I follow into Pocket . Each separate RSS feed required a new RSS to Pocket ifttt recipe to be set up, so if I have 20 feeds I’ll have to set up 20 recipes. Alternatively, I could use something like Yahoo Pipes to pull all RSS feeds into a single one and set up a single RSS to Pocket recipe. I’m reluctant to do this though, as Pipes can be temperamental.

As you can tag items/articles in Pocket in a similar way to Google Reader it means you can organise the RSS items into related articles when they’re saved to Pocket.

Once you’ve pulled the items into Pocket with the tags, you can also add tags manually to specific items that will trigger the items to be posted to a variety of sites and services, as I had done previously with Reader. eg Add the tag “linkedin” to an item to send the article to LinkedIn. Here’s an example recipe for this.

As with Google Reader you can also mark items as read or delete them so they aren’t clogging up your feed on Pocket.

I’ve set up a number of RSS feeds going into Pocket, but as this is the most time consuming part of the process I haven’t added all of my old feeds yet. I have tested a few of the triggers and they’re working fine.

So, fingers crossed for this new setup and farewell to Google Reader – it was a great service for my needs and it’s a shame Google are binning it.

Library Ebook Trends on Google

When discussing ebook use in libraries I was reminded by @ShedSue of Google Trends. This service allows you to enter keywords/search terms and presents you with statistics about how commonly those keywords are used in Google searches. Sue had already presented some stats on ebooks using it, but I put together a rough report of keywords that people might use when looking for ebooks in the UK, focusing on “ebooks”; “downloaded ebooks”; “free ebooks”; “library ebooks” searches. I really wanted to see how commonly the phrase “library ebooks” featured ie how often people searched for that phrase compared to the others – it didn’t do very well. In fact it came a distant last to all of the other keyword searches.

The Google Trends report for each of the keyword searches also provided a list of related keywords that people searched for as well as that keyword. eg When people searched for “ebooks” they also searched for the following:

  • ebooks free
  • ebooks download
  • ebook
  • ebooks kindle
  • kindle
  • ebooks for free
  • free books
  • amazon ebooks
  • ebooks uk
  • free ebook

Alongside these related keywords the report also featured “Rising searches” ie those related keyword searches that were increasing in popularity. eg For “ebooks” they were:

  • amazon ebooks
  • ebooks kindle
  • kindle
  • kindle ebooks free
  • ebooks for free
  • ebooks uk
  • pdf ebooks
  • ebooks download
  • ebook
  • free books

In all of the related keyword and rising search results for  “ebooks”; “downloaded ebooks” and “free ebooks”, the thing that struck me the most was that the keyword “library” didn’t appear once. “free” did, plenty of times. – but no sign of “library”.

Also, even though related and rising search results from the “library ebooks” search retrieved phrases containing the word “library” in them, there were still plenty of references to other non-library searches that highlighted people were also searching for similar keywords/phrases used in the other 3 searches. However, when searching in the other 3 ways (“ebooks”; “downloaded ebooks” and “free ebooks”) people didn’t automatically consider searching for the phrase “library ebooks”.

So, it appears that even though people in the UK are looking for ebooks via the internet, they’re not really considering libraries as a place to find them. If they were wouldn’t we see “library ebooks” appearing in the related keyword search lists?

If we are to develop ebook services in UK libraries shouldn’t we be aiming to push “library ebooks” higher up those related keyword search lists? The higher it is, the more likely our ebook library services will feature in Google search results and the more we will draw people to our library websites and to the many other library services we have on offer alongside our ebook services.

The report I pulled together can be found here.

Here’s a live link to the Google Trends page these searches generated.

Disclaimer: These are just initial thoughts off the top of my head and any further input on this would be appreciated.

Library Camp London #LibCampLdn

I attended Library Camp London yesterday. It was an informal unconference style gathering held at Senate House Library and over 100 people attended. The participants were from all sectors of the library world – academic, health, public, specialist, business – as well as library students and others interested in libraries. For more information about it take a look at the event wiki. The idea behind unconference events is that anyone can propose a session they’d like to run on the day and those attending chose the sessions they want to attend. Sessions pitched for the day included discussions around librarian personalities, Code Clubs in libraries, speed networking, design your own library qualification, radical libraries, the future of librarianship in a digital age, librarians without libraries, rhyme time. Many of the sessions involved discussion and information sharing. I ran one focused on finding out about online services that require no programming, are free and freely accessible via the internet, look good & can help my library service promote our resources in new ways beyond the library catalogue, whilst at the same time drawing library users back to our services. I found it a useful to session to run and I came away with a few ideas for possible future project.

I also attended sessions focusing on Code clubs; Maintaining the organisational vision; Librarian personality; and Speed networking. Out of these the ones I attended the Vision & Librarian Personality sessions were the ones that got me thinking the most. Here are some of the ideas that cropped up during those sessions.

Organisational vision

  • Organisational vision needs to be in focus all the time to ensure that everybody is working towards that vision. The message needs to be visible at all times.
  • Contact with your end user is important in making sure that the vision meets their needs as well as the  organisations needs.
  • Appraisal goals are useful ways of ensuring that you keep focused on the vision of the organisation.
  • You not only have to focus on the organisations vision, but also those areas that influence your library service.
  • An organisations vision may be at odds with the overarching ethos/vision of libraries, with the library vision coming off second best.

Librarian personality

  • It was interesting that many of the people in the session considered themselves to be extroverts, but common stereo-types paint library staff as introverted.
  • Does the route people took to get into the library profession tie in with their personality traits? eg if you come at librarianship from a love of data and information is this reflected in your personality?
  • Do different types of library work suit different personalities types?
  • Why are librarians so worried about what others think of them?
  • Does the removal of the word librarian from job title hide the true value of how much librarians contribute to society?
  • I thought of how some humourous library staff videos seem like an attempt to persuade others that library staff aren’t like the stereo-type and I thought at how I’m embarrassed by some of these videos. At the same time thought of the Betty Glover Librarian Workout video, which made me smile.

I do regret missing a few of the other sessions, including “I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords”; Rhyme Time; Radical Libraries; Library Assistants role; Design your own library qualification; “What if the world were ruled by librarians?” I’m hoping that the sessions will be written up and available on the wiki, so I can catch up with them.

Finally, I wanted to say that it was a really enjoyable and worthwhile event and I got to chat to loads of people. Even though I was involved in organising it, the bulk of the organisation was undertaken by Senate House Library staff, particularly Andrew Preater and David Clover – so huge thanks to them for making it such a great event.

More details of the day can be found on this wiki page.