There have been a number of interesting news items relating to the library business in recent weeks. I commented on the OCLC initiative to open their WorldCat database to openweb searching earlier this week. OCLC is also a partner in a new Amazon.com initiative to supply shelf ready books to libraries who order through the Amazon.com bookstore. It has long been the case that libraries have purchased some (meaningful) percentage of thier titles through the commercial online bookstores. It looks like this initiative will eliminate the often tedious process issues that resulted in librarians having to manually check in, catalog and make shelf ready the titles they purchased from these vendors. What with the vast second hand marketplace available through the Amazon site it is easy to see how reducing process costs (and time) will result in more purchases being directed away from full service providers like B&T, Brodart, etc. to Amazon who can supply like new titles for a much lower unit cost. Here is the news article from Information Today.
At the Library of Congress, management have been attepting to deal with two major problems they and the rest of the library community must address. These are the vast increase in the amount of information and 'published' product they need to catalog as part of their remit and secondly the decrease in qualified people to do the work. There have been a number of initiatives undertaken to deal with these issues and the library is looking at all types of things from outsourcing data entry tasks to radically changing how they catalog items and material. Clearly one of the more fundamental changes they have to accomodate is the growth of electronic products - where there is no longer a print version - which raises storage, versioning and access issues that they have never had to deal with before. Having said that, LOC has had multimedia collections for at least 100 years and recently created a digital archive in Virginia for their audio and film content. One of the best aspects of this - aside from preservation - is that access to this content is now so much better.
As will all change however, there are questions that need to be addressed by interested parties and as Library Journal reported recently ALA has recently raised some issues about changes the Library is proposing.
Lastly, Eric Hellman at Openly Informatics refered me to this podcast from Georgia Tech. The podcast tells of various intiatives Georgia Tech are attempting to improve the library experience.