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July 2006

July 2006, Smart Libraries NewsletterThe Technology of Reading
by Tom Peters
"The mission of most libraries involves fostering reading. As the slogan says, “Reading is fundamental”—to the advancement and self-actualization of the individual, society, culture, and the nation. Without the adoption and diffusion of reading throughout advancing societies over the course of recent centuries, libraries would not have attained the success and cultural capital they currently enjoy. Reading and libraries are yoked," explains Peters in his report about technology's impact on reading.

Peters also notes, "The future of reading, however, is cloudy, which in turn contributes to a sense that libraries are increasingly at risk. The Reading at Risk report, issued by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in June 2004, reported that literary reading is declining in America across all the major demographic groups.... [But] if we adopt a more inclusive view of reading, which encompasses not only printed alphanumeric material (hard cover, paperback, large print, etc.) well as audiobooks (both analog and digital)...and throw in electronic books, we have a richer picture of the potential future of reading."

Marshall Breeding provides perspective on the OCLC and RLG merger, which made LibraryLand headlines in early May.
"The RLG Union Catalog will be merged into WorldCat. These two systems follow different models for organizing their records—OCLC aims to have a single record for each bibliographic entity, while RLG retains multiple versions of records. Given these differences, merging the two union catalogs into one will be a complex process but will result in an even more expansive universe of bibliographic information."

Also in July

  • Innovative to Introduce Encore by Marshall Breeding. Innovative Interfaces Inc. says new Encore ‘discovery services platform' will leverage Web 2.0 technologies Millennium integration.
  • Whither or Wither?—The Public Access Catalog by Tom Peters. "The debate about the future of the library public-access catalog continues to generate not only words, but also action and experimentation. This spring, the River Campus Libraries of the University of Rochester announced receipt of a $283,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to do some planning and analysis for an eXtensible Catalog, an open-source system that will provide intellectual access to library materials of all types."
  • Google Metaverse by Tom Peters. Google has released the free beta version of SketchUp, a 3-D modeling software program it recently acquired. "In what may become the ultimate mash up," muses Peters, "Google has announced its intent to combine aspects of three-dimensional virtual-reality environments with its existing Google Earth product, which knits into a more-or-less seamless whole visual image of real Earth."