June 2008
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Month June 2008

something for nothing

Last year the NPPL received a number of requests for online SRP registration. This year we provided it and it was super easy to do using Zoho Creator. See the Kids Summer Reading program Signup page on the NPPL website to see what I put together. One of the slickest parts of Zoho Creator is the ability to customize what happens when someone submits a form. You can customize a message and chose the next URL they see:

After submitting our form people are taken to an otherwise not linked to page at which they can download the appropriate flyers and reading logs for the SRP. Nice.

Let me hasten to add that despite all of the requests, we haven’t received an overwhelming amount of online registrations. Maybe only 6 or 7% of the total. So, do these small numbers mean that our online registration system is a failure? Not a chance. Being able to serve this 6 or 7% was totally worth the minimal effort it took to create the form. Each time my phone beeped with an email and I saw that it was an online SRP registration I knew that the library had made someone’s life a little bit easier. I’m all for making library services easier to use, but making people’s lives easier is an even better goal. Many of these registrations were submitted well after the library had closed its physical doors:

This is a good example of how useful Web 2.0 applications can be. Fifteen minutes of making a web form and embedding a script into a webpage can expand the operating hours of a library service to all hours of the night.

a quick tour of muziekweb.nl

One of the best things I saw during my trip to Spain and Holland was the Centrale Discotheek Rotterdam and their website, Muziekweb.nl. The library has about 400,000 CDs, 300,000 of which are unique. They also have an equal amount of vinyl in storage and 100,000 music DVDs. The place looks like a gigantic record shop but it also has a number of nice, big iMacs on which people can search the collection and listen to samples of many, many of the discs.


Listen to song samples and download CDs? Yes. They’ve made an amazing music listening and downloading website. What makes this project great is that the library has partnered with copyright holders in the Netherlands and have been granted the rights to digitize a big portion of their 300,000 CDs (and liner notes). There’s a team of people ripping and scanning 8 hours a day!

Right now that have about 8000 albums for download. Downloads and listening occur through library created software, and loans last for a week, then expire. Is it wrong for me to skip the usual rant about the DRM on the mp3s because it is DRM created by a library? Probably, but let’s be honest here, surely there’s no other way the copyright holders would let this project exist. Even though DRM=bad, this still seems like a step in the right direction. I *don’t* know if songs can be transfered to a portable player.

I can’t read Dutch but I was still able to navigate around the site and checked out some of the great features. I don’t know how they do their subject headings, but the related artists section in each item record seems genuinely useful and accurate. Same with the “Muziekadvies” tool through which you can get recommendations by entering in three bands you like. Try it out, I was impressed with the results. Each item record also has a spot where users can rate it, and whether or not it is available for digital checkout.

Other interesting tidbits about the library: It costs about $20 to join for a year and checking out a CD or DVD costs about $2. Oh, and they still print a hardcopy catalog!

Muziekweb.nl provides relevant content in one of the most usable library produced interfaces I’ve seen. The same can’t be said of vendor driven solutions like Overdrive. With so many other (and better in many ways) options, convenient delivery of relevant content is an important task that libraries really need to concentrate on but I don’t see it happening. Can anyone help me envision something like Muziekweb in the US? I’m afraid it takes some imagination beyond my reach!

smiling library people

The new DCPL website (launch date of 10/1/2008!) is going to feature people in the library. At a basic level it will have pictures of real library patrons using the library and real librarians happily doing library work. Eventually it will feature people in more advanced ways, let people interact, and fall into general convention with the social web, etc… but for now, we have to make the website a welcoming place that shows the humanity of the institution. Yesterday I started taking some photos to help accomplish this.

I’m not saying I’m the next Anton Corbijn but I am rather pleased with the feelings I captured in a few of my photos, these two in particular. The boy has such a look of possibility in his eyes. This is how we want library people to feel. Curious, pleased, full of hope and awe.

You can make it happen today though the decisions you make and the interactions you provide.

field trip at the NPPL

Some first graders from the elementary school came to the library for a field trip today. Two quick things to report:

– I asked, “Any questions about the library?” One little bugger replied, “No noise.”

– There were a number of interesting Reader Recommendation slips turned in. This little guy, I’m sure, has no idea about how libraries are successfully integrating games into their services. He just naturally knows they belong. Books? Games? It is all content.