Dec 28, 2010
This site gives brief answers to oft-asked questions about Open Source, and is for librarians both new to open source, and those looking for further resources.
Considering the budget crunching going on around the United States and elsewhere, it seems solutions that cost less and offer the same or similar functionality are a great resource.
Check the site out and feel free to post comments here about anything that needs improving. (As of this posting, I plan on adding an “Open Education” page to the site, but have not, as yet, worked on that portion of the site. Stay tuned.)
Dec 27, 2010
Earlier this month, after resolving legal issues Google added an ebook side to their previously offered Google Books – and it’s easy to use (see http://books.google.com/googlebooks/agreement/ for an explanation of and response to the legal issues). Here is a link to their eBook site: http://books.google.com/ebooks.
To find the freebies, you need to go to Google’s eBook site, scroll down to the “Best of the Free” section, where you can browse, or click on the “more best of the free” link at the top right of the section.
The free ebooks Google offers come in two formats, .epub and .pdf. Since Google has been around for a while, many of the .pdf versions are scanned from books that Google made an agreement with. The good news about these books is that they may be different than those at Project Gutenberg’s site (see previous post on Project Gutenberg) because they were scanned as part of a different project.
Some of the ebook files are are older, and sometimes of poorer quality than the .epub files which work best with eReaders. This means that they don’t port well to an eReader. But that happens occationally with other free ebook sites as well.
Google doesn’t have the same sort of subject or author navigation as many other ebook sites, it does have a handy option, after searching for a subject or author, to select all books or just the “free books.”
Sep 20, 2010
At the left, you can see that Manybooks.net boasts many of the same features that other free eBook providers tend to have like author, title, genre groupings, and a search features (with the rare addition of “languages.” However, what makes ManyBooks different is that the site also provides book reviews, recommendations, and even a “help” section.
ManyBooks is like Project Gutenberg, in that the titles they provide are generally older and in the public domain. The main difference they offer, as mentioned above, is that they have commentary and suggestions along with the eBooks available for download. To the right is a good example of the helpful (and surprising) site features, click on the picture to go to the “Popular Titles This Year” page. I found it intriquing to see how many downloads of each eBook had happened this year! It also shows that this is a relevant site for eBooks, even if the other points mentioned above weren’t considered. Who knew that The Art of War would top the list?
Sep 17, 2010
Sep 16, 2010
I think a selection of the Fan Fiction titles available through the site illustrate the real differences and potential appeal this section may have for specific genres. (Granted, there are only 8 titles, but, as I said, the potential here is exciting.)
- (X-Files) All fourteen of xgirl's X-Files fanfic stories... By: X-Girl
- (Star Trek) Another Piece of the Action By: John Erik Ege
- (Dune) Dune Saga By: Rising Sun
Free-eBooks.net has 185 listings for short stories, this is not a gigantic number, but it is a great start for a category that doesn’t exist in a lot of other free eBook collections. Works by Louisa May Alcott, Joseph Conrad, J. P. Barnett, and H. G. Wells appear in this list and, coupled with sites like Project Gutenberg, those looking for short stories may find a great many browsing options.
I’ve updated the “Librarian Resources” Page, it now includes a link to an annotated bibliography about information seeking in children that I’ve developed. I’m happy to clarify or add to it; just leave a comment.
Sep 15, 2010
Some sites simply have options for the more mainstream formats (PDF, MOBI, and ePUB), but Gutenberg has these and, in addition, adds .doc, .html, .lit, .pdb, .png, .prc, .tr, and good old .txt. To the side, I’ve included a preview of what their search options are. If you need a particular file type, then I suggest using their “Advanced Search” and selecting the correct file type from their “format” menu.
Because of Project Gutenberg’s focus on works in the public domain, it is a treasure trove of novels, pictures, and other information published around the turn of the 19th-20th centuries (up to somewhere around 1920-ish). This is especially nifty, if you are looking for books published during or before this time that are out of print, since Gutenberg may still get you access electronically.
Newer information is less likely to be in the public domain, and therefore, less likely to be available via the Gutenberg site. Nevertheless, this site has the most individual titles of any free eBook site I’m aware of, and the layout and search functionality are far above the average for this type of site. Consider making some sort of donation, since the site is run as a non-profit.
More to come on the free eBook front. Stay tuned.
Sep 14, 2010
I’ve updated the “Librarian Resources” Page, it now includes a link to a “Primer for Open Source Integrated Library Systems,” an annotated bibliography I’ve developed. I’m happy to clarify or add to it; just leave a comment and I’ll try to help you out.
Sep 13, 2010
Dominican University recently published a study evaluating Summer Reading programs at public libraries, and their effectiveness. They’ve titled the study “Public Library Summer Reading Programs: Closing the Reading Gap.” So, do Summer Reading programs run by public libraries across the United States actually help kids’ reading? The short answer, at least according to the Dominican study, is ‘yes.’
However, keep in mind that the Summer Reading programs studied had to (according to the study):
- offer a free public library summer reading program with curriculum content of their choice.
- promote the public library summer reading program at the end of the 2008 school year.
- provide a summer reading program for a minimum of four weeks.
Some of the Dominican study’s results (according to the executive summary) include:
- Students who participated in the public library summer reading program scored higher
on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than those
students who did not participate and they gained in other ways as well.
- Students who participated in the public library summer reading program had better
reading skills at the end of third grade and scored higher on the standards test than
the students who did not participate.
- Students enrolled in the public library summer reading program reported that they like
to read books, like to go to the library, and picked their own books to read.
- Parents of children enrolled in the public library summer reading program reported that
their children spent more time reading over the summer and read more books, were
well prepared for school in the fall, and read more confidently.
- Teachers observed that students who participated in the public library summer reading
program returned to school ready to learn, improved their reading achievement and
skills, increased their enjoyment of reading, were more motivated to read, were more
confident in participating in classroom reading activities, read beyond what was
required in their free time, and perceived reading to be important.
I’ll keep you posted as I glean more information from the report. I think this is a well-timed study; with so many libraries losing funding, studies that quantify the positive contributions libraries make to their respective communities are greatly needed.
Sep 10, 2010
According to LibraryJournal.com’s September 8th article, Open-Source ILS Migration Project Announced for PA Public Libraries, Pennsylvania state will invite a small group of public libraries to begin using the open-source ILS program Evergreen.
Joseph Scorza, the executive director for HSLC/Access PA (the group that manages the largest ILL and statewide union catalog in the state of Pennsylvania) would like to see all public libraries in the state using Evergreen, presumably all linked to a statewide catalog. The overall savings involved in the migration to Evergreen is still uncertain.
Evergreen ILS, developed in Georgia, is one of the fastest growing open-source ILS around putting it in competition with the relatively ‘old’ Koha ILS.
Sep 8, 2010
If you are looking for free eBooks for your Kindle, Nook, iPad (the list could really go on and on – I know, I have a fairly detailed chart I’ve been working on), then you should stop by the Internet Archive’s “Text” section. They have a fairly impressive selection. Of particular note, is the fact that they have an option to limit your eBook search to children’s materials. This isn’t nearly so common as I would like, but I’m glad they have it.
I tried out the search by looking for Alcott’s Little Women, and I’ve included a screenshot at the right of the many different formats they had available. As you can see, there’s Kindle, ePub, and PDF formats (not to mention various others).
Suffice it to say, I was impressed and I’m planning on recommending the site to any library-goers who come my way asking for places they can find free eBooks.
As I find more resources like this, I’ll put them up. I’m hoping that, as I gather them, I can generate some more useful tools to get quick information about different readers’ format support and eBook sites with format information.
The basic gist of the story is that the East Side branch of the New York Public Library has a storytime so popular that mothers and nannies have forged tickets to get in. I have to admit that I’d be particularly well prepped and have my game face on at storytime if that started happening where I work. I’m impressed with the showing, but not with how the library is handling it. In particular, one paragraph from the story caught my eye:
Each of the two Wednesday sessions hosts a mere 20 toddlers, so there's many a miserable mommy who has to break it to their little one that they didn't make story time.I’m sorry, but 20 kids is all that get into storytime? I get that some of the more interesting and worthwhile things that happen at storytime are more easily done and perhaps more effective with small groups, but I think that the sort of demand at this particular branch means that the librarian include more people or step up and start planning more storytimes.
First, the article also mentions budget cuts. What better way to show that the library needs to continue functioning than increasing the number of people who have meaningful experiences in the library?
Second, of the storytimes I’ve planned and executed in public libraries, only a small percentage of them had less than 20 children. If I had a higher demand, I’d find a way to do more storytimes…it’s part of my job.
Finally, what this library needs are some volunteer storytellers.
Am I up in the night?
Mar 6, 2010
This post is really an attempt to add audio content to this blog. Below is a link to the first, and perhaps only, podcast by the author of this blog: Joshua Johnson
Jan 11, 2010
I’m not really the subtle sort, so when I started “selling” my Children’s Non-Fiction collection a bit more actively, I decided to make it hard to miss. Everyone repeat with me, “G-I-A-N-T D-I-N-O-S-A-U-R H-E-A-D.”
By “giant,” I don’t mean life-sized – unfortunately. However, it is just about the same height as I am, so it works. Generally, my dinosaur books (567.9 in our cataloguing) are hidden away in our collection, but I moved them on top of one busy picture-book shelf and hung the huge, gaping jaws over them. It took about 10 days to make 6 linear feet of children’s non-fiction disappear. We’ve been operating at somewhere below 10 dinosaur books for the past week and a half.
Children stare in joy, and sometimes dance circles in the storytime area because of it, my boss seems pleased, and parents just seem glad that the dinosaur books are easy to find.
Little do they know that my evil plans for February include switching out the dinosaur and related books for a giant, beanstalk, and as many of our Folk Tales (398 in our cataloguing) as I can fit on the shelves.
That’s right, I get paid to do this stuff!
Nov 12, 2009
In my mind, the reasons for this are many and varied.
First, paperbacks are made of paper. As shocking as that revelation is, it is nonetheless true. That means that paperback covers are naturally more likely than hard cover books to tear, allow colors and wording to rub off, rip, bend, and/or wear out.
Second, paperbacks are often lighter and more compact than hard cover books. This means that library-goers take them to more places. Some of the places I’ve actually heard include the beach, the bathtub, school (riding in backpacks is a great way to destroy a paperback), work, and my personal favorite, camping. (The camping trip I’m thinking of was relayed to me by a coworker – apparently the destroyed paperback was the handiwork of a grizzly bear!)
Finally, as far as the children’s area is concerned, kids are just plain tough on books. I’ve already mentioned backpacks, but let me also remind you that children have younger siblings, puppies, and a tendency to accidentally damage a wide variety of things – including library books.
I suppose it isn’t all bad – I tend to think of the children’s paperbacks as the closest thing to a self-weeding collection. New books come, old books are too worn to be circulated, and I tape or glue the ones in-between as needed. For instance, I weeded half a shelf of them in about 10 minutes based on their condition. More space is always welcome and, well, the paperback section is supposed to be a popular collection, so out with the old and in with the new!