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Posts by Tom Peters

Q Que Queue

Submitted by Tom Peters on August 12, 2010 - 8:12am

Like the old saying goes, “If you watch the tech gadget world long enough, eventually the Q’s will line up.”  Yesterday the Q’s of the portable eReading gadget world mysteriously aligned.
First, the “Bits” blog (say that 5 times fast) over at the NY Times reported that Amazon’s Lab 126, the surely subterranean location that developed the Kindle, is hiring in a big way.  Reliable unnamed sources (always reliable, always unnamed) stated that Amazon is working on other portable electronic devices. Read More »

Seize and Solve This Challenge

Submitted by Tom Peters on August 4, 2010 - 10:08am

Most professional challenges encompass both a problem to be solved and an opportunity to be seized.  One of the current central challenges of our profession, it seems to me, involves ensuring that libraries become viable and valuable in the burgeoning portable eReading field.  How can libraries compete with the likes of Amazon, Google, Apple, Sony, and Barnes & Noble? 

COSLA, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, recently released a report that addresses this crucial challenge.  Our mission, should we choose to accept it, can be stated bluntly:  If convenient, enriching portable eReading becomes about half of all reading for pleasure within the next few years, as most experts now are predicting, how can public libraries become integral to the portable eReading experience? 
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Three Cultures

Submitted by Tom Peters on July 19, 2010 - 8:39am

An opinion piece by David Brooks, which ran in the July 9th edition of the New York Times (, articulates a key challenge facing libraries in America today.  Of course, like many an utterance from beyond librarianship that touch on key library issues, this one doesn't actually mention libraries.    

Brooks focuses on the underlying assumptions of two cultures that currently are “at war” in America: Internet culture and Literary culture.  The overt bone of contention is how participation in these two cultures affects students during their formative formal educational years. 
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A Close Shave

Submitted by Tom Peters on June 15, 2010 - 8:53am

When personal computers first hit the mainstream, they presented an interesting opportunity for libraries.  All of the sudden, it was possible to easily separate the content from the content-bearing device.  Unlike printed books, microfilm, LP records, and other content-bearing devices, with computers it is easy to move content onto and off of the device.  A few earlier devices, such as the wax tablet and stylus, along with the Etch-a-Sketch, had pointed the way to the future, but the computer really made it take off.  Now libraries had the opportunity to get out of the device business.  Just as hockey has been described as a good fight marred by skating, libraries may have been good information services marred by the need to shelve (and reshelve) content-bearing devices.  Read More »

Bricks and Mortar

Submitted by Tom Peters on May 25, 2010 - 8:19am

If I had a brick for every time I’ve heard or read the phrase “bricks and mortar in library literature and conversations, I’d have at least as many bricks as the third little pig.  We librarians love to talk about bricks and mortar libraries, more than HVAC systems, load-bearing walls, and even shelving.  Recently, I had an up-close-and-personal encounter with bricks and mortar that got me thinking again about the past, present, and future of bricks and mortar libraries. Read More »

Blow up the Reference Desk?

Submitted by Tom Peters on April 30, 2010 - 8:12am

Earth Day has been around for 40 years now, but none of those 40 days have been particularly memorable for me.  It's just functioned as an annual nudge to think a little more concertedly than usual about the general state of the environment and the flat-footed oversized state of my sole – my carbon footprint.  On Earth Day this year, however, I attended PALS Day in Moline, Illinois, sponsored by the Prairie Area Library System, and heard a memorable talk by Tracie Hall, a librarian from GoodSeed Consulting.  Although Hall mentioned Earth Day in passing, her talk focused on the ecological health of libraries and community-based, transformational organizations.  Her conclusion:  Libraries are in trouble and need to change.  Read More »

Web Conference Bakeoff

Submitted by Tom Peters on April 5, 2010 - 8:41am

Deciding on a web conferencing service to use for your library or library-related organization is a little like deciding on a new ILS, only writ small.  There are lots of features and systems out there, but the financial stakes are much smaller for a web conferencing service than for an ILS.  I’ve been using web conferencing software for over six years, but recently I had the opportunity to engage in an informal, unplanned “bake-off” between two web conferencing services, comparing how they performed in a real-life situation.

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PLA 2010: Rosy

Submitted by Tom Peters on March 30, 2010 - 8:12am

Portland is the city of roses, and roses already were in bloom during the PLA conference here last week.  The weather was great, with sunny skies and above-normal temps on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Thursday was a tad cool and damp, but, hey, it's Portland.  The food was above-normal, too, with a memorable breakfast at the Doug Fir Lounge on Burnside, a great lunch at the Peemkauw Thai restaurant in the Pearl District, and good microbrews, table scraps, and Texas-sized entertainment at Deschutes. Read More »


Submitted by Tom Peters on March 24, 2010 - 7:48am

Earlier this month, I was reading a review of a book I thought I might lead a discussion on when Smarter Money Island opens later this year in Second Life.  The review was positive, so I thought I would check Amazon for reader reviews and pricing.  When I pulled up the metadata page for the book in Amazon, I noticed that the average reader rating of the book was only about 2.  Maybe the book isn't as good as that one review intimated.  As I scrolled down, I noticed that the reviews were polarized between 5 stars and 1 star.  I accessed the page of reader comments, and it became apparent that the Kindlistas had been at work on this book. Read More »


Submitted by Tom Peters on March 17, 2010 - 8:04am

In the future, libraries and museums probably will collaborate more than they have in the past. Both types are revered cultural institutions, but the times, they are a-changing. Earlier this month, I got another inkling of things to come during the “The Future is Now: Libraries and Museums in Virtual Worlds” (FIN10) conference that was held in Second Life and in OPAL ( The conference was organized by the ALA VCL MIG (Virtual Communities and Libraries, Member Initiative Group), the ACRL VWIG (Virtual Worlds Interest Group), the Alliance Library System, and my little company, TAP Information Services.
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