Publishers Committing Suicide... As Usual

Ken Auletta has written a very interesting piece on the future of publishing in the e-book era for the New Yorker.  Check it after the jump:

The iPad, the Kindle, and the future of books

What I find distinctly interesting is how the publishers are killing themselves. They talk about how they need to prove their worth to authors. These are the same authors with hundreds of rejections who go on to self-publish and then make a ton of money from Amazon with an e-book deal.

The publishers are not only less willing to take a chance, they don't understand their real customers: the readers. They publish from one author with a track record and toss aside an up and comer because they don't understand that the readers would want that book. 

I've read several amazing books that were published completely online, for free, from amazing authors. They make money a significant chunk of change from paypal donations. Why would they need a publisher when the publisher is going to either reject them or doctor the original content until the brilliance is lost?

Let's be clear, nothing is going to replace the experience of an actual book in your hands and people prefer it.  But in leiu of a book, they'll take the digital copy so they can at least read it and if digital is the only format, the reader will take it.

Publishers, sit up and listen.  We readers are your CUSTOMERS.  For the love of God, stop publishing drivel and give us something to read.  The reason you are losing money is that you aren't publishing anything worth reading and pretending that we aren't your end game isn't going to help.  Stop looking for the next 'Twilight.'  In know for a fact that in the hundreds of submissions you get everyday, there are at least 50 amazing books that we want to read and will pay you lots of money for the privilege.  Come and talk to us.  Ask us what we want.  We will tell you and you won't see you businesses die.


Combining Services

At current, Pattee/Paterno Libraries has two separate service points for general circulation and course reserves.  I'm on the three different committees involved in combining it into one service point.

But first: why do we need three committees to do one thing?

Well, it isn't really just one thing.

The first committee needs to figure out how the service is going to work and how we are going to staff it.
The second committee uses the recommendations of the first to design the actual desk.
The third committee makes sure that everything remains ergonomic, because our repetitive injury claims sky rocketed several years ago.  (Long story short, two bad decisions were made and we lost a few million in workers comp claims.  I had three injuries in three years, myself.  Ugh.)

Since the first committee is the one that's currently in session, we are trying to work out how to combine the service.  One of the reasons we kept both services separated was space:

We have 3700 course reserves.  We have a constantly turning 1700 personal holds and interlibrary loan materials.  That's 5400 books and we expect the amount of course reserves we have to go up as textbook costs rise.  The issue here is, where do we put all these books?  We would need more shelving in the combined service space and we would need more than one access point.  At current, the circ desk, which is where the combined desk will go, has only one access point to the holds and interlibrary loans.

Here's the desk as it is now.  See the entryway behind the desk.  You can fit 2-3 people through it at one time, but there's a problem with that: there is an island (not visible in the picture) between the desk and the entry, effectively cutting flow from the desk.  The office it leads into is a large space, but it's shared by two units already: Lending and Collection Maintenance (CM).  CM uses a third of the room to stage returned books and get them back to the shelves.  Lending uses the rest, but the space design is poor and the work flow bogs down.  We would need a place to put the 3700 course reserves and that means tearing the area apart.

Another problem is traffic flow in the lobby.  You can see the open doors (look behind the kid in the green shirt) that lead right up to the desk.  Check out the kid who's cut off on the left side of the picture.  Doesn't he seem weird walking at such a strange angle?  That's because he's heading for the doors on the other side of the room.  You have to walk around the desk to get through.  The desk effectively cuts off normal traffic flow.  It doesn't help that we have a bank of puters opposite the desk.  See the line of kids on the right?  Picture those kids, with a ton of traffic coming through and people blocking traffic because they are waiting to use one of those computers to check their email.  It doesn't work so well.

It doesn't work.

While combining the staff won't be a big deal (it will involve some training for both sides), the space consideration is the biggest issue. 

What I would like to see is a longer desk, moved back out of traffic.  Opening up another part of the wall into the back office will give the staff more space to move.  We will still have space issues in the office behind the desk, but at least the desk will be stepping in the right direction.


Spring Time for Pattee/Paterno

On my walk, I took some photos of the building from angles not usually seen:

This is the Paterno Library from the side facing Burrowes Building.  I was trying to give you a sense of how massive the building is.  The lamp in the picture kind of ruins the perspective.  The first set of three lights you see from the top is the lounge in the Life Sciences Library.  On a rainy spring day, snag a chair in front of the lounge windows to eat lunch and you have one of the coolest views of campus.  You get to see the sculpture on Burrowes and watch the student traffic without getting the sun in your eyes.  Very pretty and peaceful.

The bit of building sticking out on the left is Paterno.  To get this picture, I couldn't include Paterno which falls back, as it were, from Curtain Road.  What you see here is the 'back' of Pattee Library.  That block of windows is the Stacks.  Want to see a million of something?  How about 3 million of something?  Have a look in those windows and you can see over 3 million books!
The sign says Pattee, but technically, this is West Pattee.  From the last picture, you would be all the way at the other end of the building looking toward Paterno, which is the windows you see straight back.


The Google Book Settlement and You

Io9 has an interesting article commenting on what the GBS will mean for businesses, libraries, and the common man.  Definitely worth a read!

5 Ways The Google Book Settlement Will Change The Future of Reading


Knowledge Commons

With the grand gift of money comes the rush to get recommendations for service specifics in place.

The Circ-Reserves-ILL Team has until the first week of May to get some ideas together on how the service point will work and finalize them for the steering committee.

Our issue is the space we have to work with.  The circulation desk, at current, sits in the middle of natural traffic flow.  This leads to bottlenecks when Forum classes let out and hundreds of students use the library as a through way at the same time that hundreds of other students are trying to check out. 

So the desk presence needs to change dramatically to allow for the natural traffic flow. 

The architects proposed moving the desk out of Grand Central Station (our nickname for the main lobby) and into the exhibit area with Stonehenge.  Stonehenge would have to bite the dust for this change, but the biggest problem is space.  The exhibit area isn't very big and a LOT of traffic files through here.  We may end up with the same traffic jams we had before, but in a different location.

If we move the desk and come up with a configuration that works, there is still the issue of where to put all the personal holds, course reserves, and any loanable media piled on the service point.  The staff area would have to be shifted entirely.  Not a fun prospect but do able.

We were asked to revisit the idea of moving the video and audio reserves to the main desk.  To do this would require the moving of a lot of viewing equipment (DVD and VHS players, CD players, and TVs) to an immediately accessible area and there aren't any.  :P  Unless space opens up (maybe in the Knowledge Commons itself?) that one's a no go. 

The actual desk configuration will be up to another committee entirely.  The boss man and I am on that one too, so we'll have a really good idea on how to tailor the desk to the space.  But will we have enough space?

The idea of less desk in the current location (either closer to the wall, or more of the wall opened up) has been floated.  It's an interesting thought.

Thing on the Mall

We have an awesome sculpture on the mall in front of Pattee!  However, the signs indicating title and artist mission have disappeared.  :(

Neat, huh?  You can't tell in the pictures, but all of the 'legs' can be put up or down.