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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Saturday, February 25, 2006

    Libraries can mash up for publishers!

    The Web 2.0 term, 'mash up' means the ability of computers to re-present data from several sources in order to add value in creating a single, composite resource. Duh! Its what libraries do! Its actually what libraries were designed to do - from the Pinakes of Callimachus in the Great Library at Alexandria to today's OPAC; from the first national library to today's smallest regional library, they collect from publishers and represent more conveniently for their users. Libraries should respond to Web 2.0; this is why the term 'Library 2.0' has hit the presses this year - albeit, to a certain amount of distrust in some arena.
    Paul Miller of Talis published a discussion document on which I have already commented; he has now produced a second paper [PDF] - more overtly a Talis promo as it contains a section headed "So what are Talis doing about Library 2.0?" - which extends his first paper and explains - very clearly - why Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 ARE important and should be accepted by the library community. In an era of almost ubiquitous Internet, Paul notes the OCLC data:
    Despite the undeniable rise of an online information market, recent figures from a survey of over 3,000 current Internet users in six countries suggest that a remarkable 96% have visited a public library in person, at some point in their lives. However, only 27% of respondents have visited the web site of a public library, a figure that rises as high as 42% in Canada, but drops to a mere 9% in the UK.

    And that despite the UK Public Library Network! Paul also states with some force:
    To avoid disintermediation, libraries must compete for attention, partly through their own web presence but also by innovative interaction with other web applications and services. The increasingly comprehensive nature of search engines creates an impression (and expectation) that anything is discoverable online. The gatekeepers of content do themselves few favours by hiding their existence from these search engines, aggregators and developers. This land of ‘walled gardens’ is not sustainable in our view.
    Well, I think its a "no brainer"! Libraries exist to facilitate access to information; publishers (in the widest sense as well as the conventional) publish information - if libraries want to remain relevant in an electronic world they are going to have to move with the times and make information available wherever and whenever the user requires it, while seeking to ensure that barriers to use and reuse are effectively removed.

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