The future of the book has been widely discussed in the last decade, as has that great democratic institution, the library. Both have been challenged by technological advances and societal change this century but are fighting off most suggestions of obsolescence by adapting successfully.
My local libraries have made a number of innovations that I suspect are not as well-known as they should be by our communities. The Kiama Municipal Library always impresses me. The staff, led by Michelle, are helpful and innovative. The space is welcoming and there are many services, especially for children and older citizens. Their online systems are improving all the time and they are clearly taking advantage of the National Broadband Network (NBN) that our town was lucky enough to gain early access. If you like ebooks or audiobooks it is easy to download them from their homepage using BorrowBox and Overdrive.
Bolinda Publishing and BorrowBox have been awarded for innovation. There is a growing online library and a very accessible system for librarians to make further additions to the online audio collection with support for users here. The BorrowBox app lacks the sophistication of the Audible one but one assumes it will be improved in the coming months and years if it is to compete with the Amazon product.
I certainly found it easy enough though to check out the audiobook collection, download and listen using my iPad. It will be very easy for students to make use of the system and I believe, from recent experience, that audiobooks will be particularly popular with young people. In fact, I would like to believe that there may be a renaissance in ‘reading’ as a result of free library audiobooks. The students at our school are being encouraged to check out the online collections and download the app in meetings and classes. Their parents are being alerted to these new services too.
Here’s how BorrowBox works for library users (who just need their email address and user details) to access audiobooks:
The city of Birmingham in the United Kingdom has invested a great deal of money in creating a contemporary design for people in their new, impressive library. The use of light and space is just wonderful and I highly recommend you watch this video tour. However, for many of us it is essential that the online design for libraries continues to improve. The University of Wollongong library is exclusively an online experience for me. The catalogue is excellent and I have RSS feeds for new books in topic areas that interest appearing in my Feedly reader regularly and often borrow them as ebooks, using Adobe Digital Editions. It is easy, convenient and part of my online ecosystem.
The state government understands that similar systems are needed for NSW schools and a tendering process to replace the “out dated and unsustainable, DOS-based OASIS Schools Library System” has detailed the following requirements:
(a) It is a purpose-built Library System.
(b) It is a web-based solution.
(c) It is eminently suitable for use in NSW public schools.
(d) It reduces the total cost of products and services.
(e) It provides products and services that are commercially competitive.
(f) It establishes a sustainable partnership between DEC and the successful tenderer to deliver quality products and services.
(g) It provides best practice through continual review of delivery methods; i.e. value-engineering.
(h) It provides effective management of risks.
We enthusiastically await new announcements and wonder what the time line will be for students to be able to access any online collections.
In an era where Bring Your Own Device/Technology (BYOD/BYOT) is gaining traction, for practical and economic reasons, it is essential that libraries are effective online and sustainable offline. It makes sense that existing community infrastructure is used by the schools, especially when it is readily available online. Students can be encouraged to join their local libraries (their parents are ratepayers of course) and try out apps like BorrowBox on their devices.
What new library services are you enjoying?
Featured image: (screenshot) cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Darcy Moore: http://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/9638239477/