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Tom Peters's Posts

Absent at the eBook Revolution

Submitted by Tom Peters on June 15, 2009 - 9:35am

Conference program topics tend to be lagging indicators of the hot topics in a given field.  The lag time develops because it takes time to plan for a professional conference, even an online or in-world conference.  In fact, by the time a molten topic spews forth many conference programs, sometimes even entire conferences, that’s a signal that the magma has started to cool and harden. 

The eBook movement is heating up worldwide, with many major corporations launching eBook services and significant chunks of the worldwide reading public – the Chinese and romance readers come to mind – giving ereading a sustained try.  The paucity of programs about eBooks at next month’s ALA Annual Conference in Chicago could be seen as a case-in-point of this general truth about conference program topics as lagging behind hot topics. Nonethless, I think a different, more troubling dynamic is developing between eBooks, libraries, and librarianship.  I worry about the role that libraries and librarianship will have in the real eBook revolution.  Read More »

Summer of Mobile Library Services

Submitted by Tom Peters on May 20, 2009 - 9:50am

The first decade of this century is groaning under the weight of 40th anniversary remembrances of the major happenings of the Sixties.  2004 was the 40th anniversary of the Beatles invasion of America.  2007 marked the 40 year anniversary of the Summer of Love centered in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco.  This summer marks the 40-year cerebral sojourn of the reality and myths of Woodstock.

Let’s hope this decade gets remembered as more than just the Sixties Forty Years After.  In LibraryLand, 2009 seems to be shaping up to be the Summer of Mobile Library Services.   We need a catchier name, but you get the idea.  Many projects, services, conferences, and other groovy happenings related to mobile library services seem to be ramping up and rolling out this summer.  Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair – on the side opposite of your mobile phone.  Read More »

Virtual Ability

Submitted by Tom Peters on April 14, 2009 - 9:52am

Recently a place named Virtual Ability Island (VAI) in the three-dimensional virtual world called Second Life has provided me a fascinating glimpse of a quiet revolution in progress. I don’t know how big or important this quiet revolution will be, but it is a welcome development. At the risk of braying a bit myself, let me tell the tale.

I like Second Life and I think virtual worlds in general have a bright, significant future, but I have to agree with many tepid reviews of Second Life that note that most places seem like ghost towns, not vibrant virtual communities.  I’ve called this problem in Second Life the “reverse frontier” because the virtual landmass seems to grow faster than the resident population. Read More »

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Opposites Attract

Submitted by Tom Peters on March 16, 2009 - 9:20am

A quick question:  What is the opposite of librarianship?  What’s the first thing that comes to mind?  I can imagine some of you thinking that the Web is the opposite of librarianship.  Perhaps for some of you, tagging came to mind because it’s so uncontrolled and messy.  Or perhaps Amazon's Kindle is the opposite of librarianship, as it tries to create an instantaneous celestial bookstore.  Perhaps some of you wondered what “opposite” means in the context of this question.  Maybe the question prompted you to ask in return, “Well, before we search for its opposite, perhaps we should wonder what librarianship itself is.”  There’s no correct answer to this pop's just food for thought.

As I think about this question myself, I keep coming back to a very tentative thesis that has been forming in my mind over the years.  To wit:  The rapid development and deployment of information technologies and computerized networks in the past 25 years, coupled with the explosion of information and data, combined with the diffusion of the power to create and disseminate information (blogs, tags, photos, videos, audio recordings, etc.), has created a situation in which the opposites of librarianship are in the ascendant, creating new relationships with librarianship itself.  

Although that last sentence reads like a dissertation topic, let me try to begin to address it here in a few hundred words, then save the dissertation writing for much, much later.  Read More »

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Submitted by Tom Peters on February 13, 2009 - 9:09am

On Monday, February 9, 2009 at approximately 2:18 p.m. Central Standard Time I developed a bad case of Kindlekrankheit – a yearning and burning to own a Kindle portable ebook reader from Amazon.  It began the moment I read the technical specifications and watched the promotional videos for the new Kindle 2, which will begin shipping Feb. 24th.  Reading for the past 15 months about Kindle 1 – the older sister – had filled me with some respect and hope for the Kindle family, but no outright love.  I even blogged about the Kindle 1 back in November 2007.  Now I’m smitten. Read More »

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The Great Chain of Being There

Submitted by Tom Peters on January 27, 2009 - 10:21am

An amazing thing happened to me last Saturday--I attended a few events at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver from the comfort of my own home here in western Missouri.  How is that possible, you ask?  The last time I checked, there is a small landform called The Great Plains  between my home and Denver.  Several of the Midwinter events were offered simultaneously on ALA Island and other venues in Second Life.  The meeting that really got me revved up about the possibilities for "combo conference events" (that is, events that occur simultaneously in two or more venues or "realities") was the meeting of the ALA VCL MIG (Virtual Communities and Libraries, Member Initiative Group) late Saturday afternoon.  Full disclosure:  I'm one of the "Designated Organizers" of the VCL MIG.

Here's what happened:  Read More »

A Sign from Above Eye Level

Submitted by Tom Peters on January 14, 2009 - 8:57am

Years ago I read somewhere that the stretch of Interstate 70 that runs across Missouri from Kansas City to St. Louis is the most heavily billboarded section of interstate in the U.S.  There are thousands of them.  Most are hawking predictable things:  hotels, fast food, Lake of the Ozark resorts, souvenir shops with the inevitable walnut bowls, and fireworks emporia, each one just happening to be the world’s largest.

There’s a smattering of unusual billboards, too, such the one featuring the visage of the Dalai Lama, reverse vasectomies, custom-made brassieres (I wonder if that includes Kramer’s manssieres), and dentures in one day.  I’ve been watching that one last for 20 years, just in case any of my kith, kin, or even I ever need a quick set of chops.

I live in a rural area a couple of miles south of I-70.  One of my routes into the village of Grain Valley takes me on a stretch of old 40 Highway, which has become a frontage road for the interstate.  Imagine my surprise one day when I looked up and spotted a new billboard for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.  Years ago I wrote about OLPC for ALA TechSource.  I took it as a sign from above eye level that I should provide an update. Read More »

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NEA Reports Reading on the Rise

Submitted by Tom Peters on January 12, 2009 - 2:55pm


Photo courtesy of Tim Pierce 

Today the National Endowment for the Arts released a new report, "Reading on the Rise," that suggests that the decades long slide in the number of adult Americans who read literature (novels, short stories, poetry, and plays) has recently reversed itself and is beginning to rise.   For the first time in the 25 years NEA has been studying our reading habits, our love for literature appears to have been rekindled.   


  Read More »

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Barnacles on the Ship of Librarianship

Submitted by Tom Peters on December 15, 2008 - 10:09am

Every now and then, usually when I have a moment by myself, I think about the state of librarianship.  I ponder the opportunities, the problems, and the progress.  Generally, these periodic, informal "state of librarianship" addresses to myself are optimistic. 

Over the past couple of decades, rather than concentrate on outright threats to librarianship, I have tended to focus on things that are holding librarianship back, or retarding its growth and development.  Questions of momentum, acceleration, and deceleration are much more mundanely interesting than questions about the life and death of a profession.  Although Google is doing some interesting and large-scale things to make information findable and usable, and thus seems like it poses something of a threat to librarians, we really cannot do much about what Google does or plans to do.

By concentrating on the retarding factors, perhaps we can identify tangible problems that we can work to solve.
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Mancos PL Builds Green

Submitted by Tom Peters on November 12, 2008 - 7:21am

Second Life is good for a lot of things.  Professional networking is one of them.  I have met and worked with so many librarians in Second Life that I probably never would have met if I had confined my professional activities to real life.

A few months ago I met Plautia Corvale, the avatar of Victoria Petersen, the Technology Manager of the Mancos  Public Library in Colorado.  We are, along with several other librarian-avatars, in the process of constructing Emerald City, an island in Second Life devoted to helping libraries and library-related organizations to become more environmentally friendly, and to serve as strong community resources on this topic.

Victoria just returned from the annual conference of the Colorado Association of Libraries with the exciting news that CAL has formed a Second Life Interest Group and is an official sponsor of the Sustainable Living Library on Emerald City in Second Life.

I've never been to Mancos, but I've visited Durango a couple of times. The Durango Public Library has build a new green building, which will open on December 1st.  Evidently, southwestern Colorado is a hotbed of green librarianship!  Recently I asked Plautia about some of the nitty gritty aspects of the process of building a green library. 

  Read More »

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