Open Library

This looks interesting – Open Library distributing ebooks to libraries –

Borrowing books from Open Library

There are 4 different ways find a book to borrow:

1. In-Library Loan Search

If you find yourself sitting in one of the participating in-library lending libraries, you’ll get access to a bunch of special eBooks to borrow. These loans are just like the “normal” Lending Library loans, where each title can be checked out once at a time, and your loan lasts for 2 weeks. (More info)
2. Lending Library Search

There is a small but growing collection of eBooks available to everyone with an Open Library account, anywhere in the world. These titles come to you through the book scanning program of the Internet Archive, a registered library in California.
3. eBooks, Local Library Search

We have connected thousands of Open Library records to the lending system. Overdrive can help you find ePub or Mobi files in your local library.
4. Physical books, Local Library

Any Open Library record with an ISBN has been connected to a service called, which can help you find physical books in a library near you.

I’m not sure about the OverDrive option. But it’s an interesting model.

Have any library consortia here begun negotiations with publishers, here or overseas, please let me know.

Why thank you Mr Murdoch – once again

That lovable friend of libraries – the News Ltd empire – this time in the form of publisher Harper Collins, has sprung a new one on libraries and readers. Henceforward they state libraries may only lend out their ebooks 26 times before the book deletes itself from the library’s system. This new limitation is being enforced via OverDrive, who have no problem with it, and why should they.

There has obviously been an outcry about this further diminishment of lending rights, one of the best posts on the subject  being from the Librarian in Black.

Previous posts here have mentioned how every library and reader are being screwed by every publisher and vendor. Will this further insult stop libraries from throwing public money at them, no probably not.


There are many angry readers out there

National Library at Senate Estimates

Proof Committee Hansard
(Additional Estimates)
[10.35 pm]

National Library of Australia
CHAIR—Welcome, Dr Cathro. Do you have an opening statement?
Dr Cathro—No.
Senator TROOD—Dr Cathro, I understand that the library has appointed a new director-general. Can you
tell the committee when that director-general will take up her position?
Dr Cathro—Yes. Her name is Anne-Marie Schwirtlich. She will be taking up the position on Friday, 11 March.
Senator TROOD—What state will she find the library’s budget in for 2011-12 when she takes up her position?
Dr Cathro—Since the last estimates committee the corporate management group of the library has made
decisions about the 2011-12 budget. We are in quite a tight situation with our budget. We will be reducing staff
numbers. We have to respond to not only the efficiency dividend and the estimated three per cent increase in
employee expenses, subject to the enterprise agreement, but also our need to invest in digital library
infrastructure. Taking those things into account, we have had to make significant reductions in operational
lines in our budget. In addition to reducing staff we will naturally be reducing a number of services.
Senator TROOD—At this stage do you know how many staff you may have to reduce?
Dr Cathro—If you take as your baseline the second half of 2010, where we averaged 444 staff, we will be reducing next financial year by 17 staff.
Senator TROOD—Is the efficiency dividend contributing to that difficulty? How much of a difficulty is it contributing?
Dr Cathro—The efficiency dividend—if you put it in dollars terms—in the current financial year, I think my advice is its value is $684,000. That is part of what we have to take into account.
Senator TROOD—Have you decided how you are going to lose the staff at this stage?
Dr Cathro—Our aim is to entirely reduce staff through attrition. We have a turnover of around 10 per cent or 11 per cent per year. Management believes that it is possible to overwhelmingly deal with the reductions
through attrition and through then redeploying staff laterally into the priority positions, leaving the lesser priority positions vacant.
Senator TROOD—Does the loss of these staff involve the closing down of any programs or parts of the library’s activities?
Dr Cathro—Yes, there are a couple of examples I could give you. There is what we call retrospective cataloguing of the collection; that is, cataloguing material acquired in the past but not adequately catalogued.
That effort will be reduced. We will be reducing our level of newspaper digitisation and relying more on external funding for that activity. We had an online reference service—I can ask a librarian—that we ran
collaboratively with the state libraries. That service has now ceased. We will be increasing significantly the charges that we impose on other libraries for interlibrary loans. They are just examples of some of the budget measures. We are also making significant reductions in travel and other supplier expenses.
Senator TROOD—We do not have much time and I would like to explore these matters a little more fully but perhaps, just finally, can you briefly outline the challenge that you are facing from the digitisation revolution that we are facing?
Dr Cathro—We believe that if we are going to properly document 21st century Australia we have to collect information in digital form. We have so far built quite a rich and complex set of digital collections both
through digitising and through collecting what we call born digital information. But many of the systems we have to manage this are now 10 years old. They need replacement. We are going to invest—we feel we have
to—in some essential minimum activity in the next four years to replace those systems. In fact, that is one area where we will actually be increasing staff, to work on the replacement of those essential digital management systems. We do aspire to digitise more of our collection in the longer term. But to date I think we have only digitised about two per cent of our collection after 10 years of effort.
Senator TROOD—Two per cent?
Dr Cathro—Yes.
Senator TROOD—I would like to ask more questions, but unfortunately we do not have any more time.
Senator HUMPHRIES—The then Acting Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services a couple of weeks ago, in commenting on the lack of space in this building, said that the Parliamentary Library could be forced to move some of its research archives to the National Library. Where would you put them?
Dr Cathro—I was contacted by the Parliamentary Librarian, who suggested that the interpretation of that report should not be relied on. I can only say that we are due to run out of physical space some time in 2014, so that would be a problem for us.
CHAIR—Thank you for appearing before us.

As the calls for Democracy grow around the Arab world, librarians at great risk to themselves are calling for change.

The words of Ismail Serageldin, of the Library at Alexandria, are an example to us all.

To all Our Friends Around the World: 18 Days that Shook the World

Alexandria, 12 February 2011 — Thank you for your many messages of solidarity and support throughout these last two weeks. And a salute to Egypt’s wonderful youth, who changed the course of history through peaceful demonstrations. The moral power of non-violence was never more ably deployed for the cause of more freedom, more justice and to lay the foundations of better tomorrows. By the moral force of their solidarity, and the nobility of their cause, they challenged all expectations and triumphed. The Egyptian Revolution of 25 January 2011 now belongs to the history books. It is a brilliant chapter in the unfolding story of the struggle for human dignity and the values of our common humanity.
In these 18 days that shook the world, men and women, young and old, Muslims and Christians, rich and poor came together as never before. The army never unleashed a volley against any of the millions of demonstrators. All melded together and showed the true mettle of “the people”. They redefined the meaning of Egyptian greatness. During those long days of struggle, days when the police forces were either attacking the demonstrators or totally absent from the scene, there was not one incident of burning of churches, indeed we saw Christians and Muslims praying by the thousands in Tahrir square, each protecting and respecting the other. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women demonstrated for days on end, and not one case of harassment was noted. Volunteers provided safety and order, and neighbors came together to form neighborhood watches to protect their homes and families against thugs and ruffians who attacked homes and looted public buildings, and to provide public services by sharing as never before. The people got to know each other better than ever before. Neighborhoods became more than physical definitions, they became communities again. The demonstrators protected cultural institutions like the Egyptian museum and the Library of Alexandria, which many recognized as their own.

Today the people are all celebrating the resignation of President Mubarak and the start of a new era. But the road ahead is going to be difficult. We must ensure that this moment of euphoria and the solidarity created by this revolutionary movement launched by our youth on January 25th are effectively transformed into the institutions and laws that will be the real guarantors of a true democracy. After the demonstrations, the battles and the celebrations in the streets, we must now do the equally demanding work of designing new institutions, selecting new leaders and creating new laws — to fashion the wise constraints that make people free.

But I have unlimited confidence in Egypt’s youth. It is the dawn of a new day.

Ismail Serageldin
Librarian of Alexandria
Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Egyptian libraries damaged in recent protesting

Some of you may have heard about the actions of civilians who surrounded their local cultural institutions to save them from damage during the recent unrest in Egypt. Unfortunately for a few libraries, things got a bit out of hand and they incurred great losses, including damage to their buildings and losses of significant parts of their collections. American Libraries has the full story here.

More images of the destruction at the Great Sea Library in Giza can be viewed on the Cybrarians website here.

Image of some of the damage at the Great Sea Library at Giza
Damage at the Great Sea Library at Giza via Cybrarians
Image of fire damage at the Great Sea Library at Giza

Fire damage at the Great Sea Library at Giza via Cybrarians


Deselection is fast becoming the ‘in’ thing for libraries everywhere – i.e. what to do with all those old and newish ‘books’ -which are now officially called ‘legacy print materials’ – clogging up libraries.

Given that there are numerous libraries managing down their collections, there is a growing demand for tools and consultancy to assist in the quick deselection of books.

The decisions can actually be quite simple -

  • has the book been borrowed in <>given time
  • is the subject/discipline still being taught
  • is there a digital version
  • is the book available in another library
  • is the book rare, valuable
  • are there conditions attached to the book (i.e. is the book part of a formed or donated collection that retention agreements exist for)
  • will there be academic/political difficulties in deselecting
  • can the book be sold/given to another institution
  • But how can this be done quickly and cheaply. Well your own system can tell you easily which items have been borrowed and whether they form part of a collection and data matching those not used within a given time period against a larger distributed set to see their preponderance is also easy.

    A statistic from this flyer says that 56% of books in academic libraries are never circulated. That suggests two things, firstly that librarians are buying books without due diligence and secondly that half of an academic libraries holdings should be deselected. So expect more on this subject.

    Btw I have an article on this very subject appearing in the March issue of Incite if you need further advice.

    Publishers to blame for bookshop closures

    Australia’s oldest bookshop chain, Angus & Robertson, and Borders Australia have gone into voluntary administration. This could be seen as the end of paper book retailing, if it weren’t for Dymocks and the mighty QBD : The bookshop. Many reasons have been suggested for why bookshops are to close – the strong A$, the rise of the ebook, online retailing, less consumer spending. All these factors have come into play, we should not forget however the role of publishers.
    If a bookshop closes in Australia, it is primarily the result of publishers, who will not allow their books to be sold at reasonable prices (market rate), prevent booksellers from buying stock elsewhere, and continuously fleece the bookshop and the reader with their government subsidies in the form of parallel import restrictions.

    The publisher is the useless and greedy intermediary between authors and readers, they continue to fleece the author, the retailer and the reader with impunity – and they are doing just as well with DRM, regional licencing etc etc. in the ebook world.

    However, having said that:

    The cost of getting an overseas published book as shown by Booko ( makes clear that pricing was a bit of an issue.

    Deleting from newspaper archives

    Interesting article in the SMH today at: concerning the implications of a judge in a NSW criminal case that has ordered newspapers to remove from their archives some articles on the case defendents.

    This is problematic and seemingly purposeless as items on the Internet are cached, reposted and archived elsewhere.

    The president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Cameron Murphy, called for a public review of the rules relating to publication of court cases to ensure a balance between open justice and the right of the accused to a fair trial.
    He said orders against internet publication appeared to discriminate against the internet because courts never ordered ”the removal of a microfiche from every library in the state”.

    Indeed, nor their paper newspaper holdings or now their newspaper web archives.

    Scanning a smartphone – what on earth?!

    You read it right. It’s possible to scan an image, such as a barcode, from the screen of a smartphone. You may ask why you would want to do that … but imagine for a minute the possibilities. What if your library patrons could have their library card barcode on their phone? The Swiss Army Librarian has already conducted an easy experiment to see if this is possible. Check out the results here.

    Image of scanning a smart phone
    Scanning a client’s smart phone via the Swiss Army Librarian

    Why not take this technology a step further. What if your user had the barcode or QR code of the book that they were looking for ready to go on their smartphone so that when they got to the library they could simply scan their phone and be pointed in the direction of the resource? The possibilities are endless.

    Come Dine With Us (2) : a world gone mad

    No bids have thus far arrived for the Library Lovers Day auction – see earlier post.

    Apparently no-one is interested in paying >$10,000 to dine with a librarian – not even for the sake of charity.

    It is a sick sick society we live in.