Sunday, January 23, 2011

Media Week (V4-N3): UK Libraries, Perceptions of US Libraries, Pearson Acquires, Wolters Kluwer Partner, Libraries in the Cloud

UK libraries are facing potentially dire circumstances with funding cuts from Westminster forcing local governments to make some hard and unpopular decisions about funds. Across the UK organized groups are going on mass 'lend-out's where they are encouraging patrons to check out as many books as possible. This weekend there were several articles about the situation in most of the major newspapers.
Libraries: 'Hands off our doors to learning' The Independent on Sunday has been inundated with stories about the role public libraries have played in readers' lives. Campaigns to stop councils from closing as many as half of their libraries are gathering pace, as public figures protest furiously about 'cultural vandalism'. They share their memories with Nina Lakhani
From the Telegraph:

In response to the need for cuts, Oxfordshire county council wants to axe 20 of its 43 libraries. Among them is a small stone building in Bampton, the archetypally English village that doubled as Downton for ITV. For me, the library was almost a second home, where my lifelong love of Asterix – and of reading, generally – was kindled. The thought of its closure causes quite extraordinary pain.

Lord Fellowes, Downton Abbey’s writer, and a prominent defender of his own local libraries, is quick to commiserate. “In a village like that, a library has a real function,” he says. “There was someone quoted the other day as saying they’re for the white middle classes. But that’s exactly who they’re not principally for, particularly in the country.”

That is a point that the villagers will be quick to make. But they won’t be alone. Across the country, more than 400 libraries are on the chopping block – and everywhere, informal coalitions are assembling to defend them. The residents of Stony Stratford, in Milton Keynes, borrowed every single one of their library’s 16,000 books to highlight how much they valued it.

Is this just special pleading by the middle classes? No – because libraries are not just another public service. They are a physical embodiment of the idea that knowledge is to be cherished, both for its own sake and for its power to change lives. That was why, when they sought to improve themselves, members of the working class in the 18th and 19th centuries reached for the bookshelves. That is why Andrew Carnegie, the ultimate self-made man, devoted much of his fortune to building libraries. The design almost always included a staircase and a lantern – symbols of learning’s power to uplift the mind, and illuminate the soul.

The Telegraph tells the story behind Graham Greene's Brighton Rock (Telegraph):

Brighton Rock started out, Greene tells us, as a “simple detective story” but developed into a “discussion, too obvious and open for a novel, of the distinction between good and evil, and right and wrong and the mystery of the 'appalling strangeness of the mercy of God’”. It is set among the racecourse touts and razor-wielding gangsters of Brighton and, like Patrick Hamilton’s Hangover Square, Brighton Rock vividly evokes the raffish seaside town, awash with weekending Londoners who shared Greene’s own liking for pubs and beer and sausages.

Rose Macaulay remembered Greene saying that “only RCs were capable of real sin because the rest of us were so invincibly ignorant”: the psychopathic Pinkie and his girlfriend are both Catholics, and although Pinkie is intent on his own damnation, he is well aware that “these atheists, they don’t know nothing”. The “real point” of the story, Greene said, was “the contrast between the ethical mind and the religious” and it set a pattern for Greene’s later “Catholic” novels.

Earlier reports suggested that Pearson were to invest in Indian education services company TutorVista (Times Of India):
British publishing major Pearson may infuse fresh capital into TutorVista, an integrated education services company, which is raising in excess of $50 million. Pearson, which holds around 17% stake in the firm, could increase its holding as it participates in the latest round of fund raising along with new private equity investors. The entrepreneur duo of K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh, who are the investors behind CustomerAsset BPO (which became ICICI Onesource) and Marketics KPO (sold to WNS), has been holding talks with PE giants GIC of Singapore and Providence, among others. The transaction is expected to be announced in the last week of January, which may also see TutorVista announcing a small acquisition in the US.
But the company decided to buy it outright (Pearson):

Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, today announces that it has agreed to increase its shareholding in TutorVista to a controlling 76% stake for a consideration of $127m. Pearson acquired a minority stake in TutorVista in June 2009 and this transaction takes Pearson’s total equity investment in the company to approximately $139m.

TutorVista was founded in 2005 by Krishnan Ganesh and is headquartered in Bangalore. The company has four main activities:

  1. Technology: TutorVista supplies digital content and technology platforms to private and government schools in India, typically under long term contracts. It currently serves approximately 3,300 classrooms;
  2. Online tutoring: it provides online tutoring services to approximately 10,000 students per month. It uses Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol and online whiteboards to connect instructors in India with school and college students, principally in North America, with developing opportunities across the globe;
  3. Test preparation and tuition: it operates a network of 60 centres across southern India delivering English language coaching courses for university entrance exams and out-of-class tuition to K-12 school children for SAT, ACT, AP and other exams; and
  4. K-12 schools: it provides a full suite of services including curriculum design, teacher training, technology solutions and school administration services to schools serving approximately 5,000 students in India.

India's government currently invests $40bn each year or three per cent of GDP in education, while Indian consumers spend more than $40bn on private educational institutions and services. Both segments of the market are growing rapidly as a result of government commitment to increase the quality of and access to learning opportunities as a means of sustaining economic growth and reducing poverty.

This acquisition further supports Pearson’s goals of building significant education companies in selected fast-growing markets and applying its learning services and technologies to support governments and institutions in making educational opportunities more accessible and more effective. TutorVista will be integrated into our education business in India and will enhance our presence in the school market in India and in tutoring across the globe in schools and higher education.

Pearson also raised their guidence for the year (Pearson):

All of Pearson’s major businesses sustained their strong trading momentum throughout 2010. We will report healthy sales growth and further margin improvement, fuelled by our consistent investment in the global learning industry, in digital services and in developing economies. As a result, we now expect to report continuing operating profits for 2010 of approximately £850m, a headline increase of approximately 20% (compared with £710m in 2009, excluding Interactive Data, which was sold in July 2010, from both years). We expect to report adjusted earnings of approximately 76p per share, an increase of approximately 16% on 65.4p in 2009, and ahead of our previous guidance of approximately 72p.

WoltersKluwer announced a joint venture with leading China drug information company Medicom (PR):

Wolters Kluwer Health today announced a joint venture with leading China drug information provider Medicom to deliver clinical decision support to doctors in China as the country prepares for significant changes to its healthcare system. The deal allows Wolters Kluwer Health to expand its market-leading Clinical Decision Support (CDS) and drug information business into the rapidly growing China market and creates a needed drug information infrastructure in China.

“The clinical decision support market in China is at a critical juncture, similar to what we saw in the U.S. market many years ago,” said Arvind Subramanian, President & CEO, Wolters Kluwer Health Clinical Solutions. “Our agreement with Medicom gives Wolters Kluwer Health a strong entry point in China and creates a solid foundation for us to introduce more advanced CDS products and solutions that will give healthcare professionals in China unparalleled access to evidence-based medicine for the advancement of healthcare.”

Medicom, located in the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan Province, has a strong footprint in the China healthcare market, providing drug information and services. Its products and services are highly complementary to those of Wolters Kluwer Health’s Clinical Solutions business, which offers healthcare professionals fast access to evidence-based medical information that helps clinicians effectively manage patient care on a daily basis. The combined offering creates a robust library of clinical content not previously available in China that physicians can access at the point of learning as well as at the point of care with patients.

OCLC's 2005 report on the perceptions of libraries was widely circulated at the time and the organization has revisited that report in a new release (OCLC):

Perceptions of Libraries, 2010: Context and Community is a follow-up to the 2005 Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources. The new report provides updated information and new insights into information consumers and their online information habits, preferences and perceptions. Particular attention was paid to how the current economic downturn has affected information-seeking behaviors and how those changes are reflected in the use and perception of libraries.

The OCLC membership report explores:
  • Technological and economic shifts since 2005
  • Lifestyle changes Americans have made during the recession, including increased use of the library and other online resources
  • How a negative change to employment status impacts use and perceptions of the library
  • How Americans use online resources and libraries in 2010
  • Perceptions of libraries and information resources based on life stage, from teens to college students, to senior Americans.
The membership report is based on U.S. data from an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of OCLC. OCLC analyzed and summarized the results to produce Perceptions of Libraries, 2010: Context and Community, which is available for download on the OCLC Web site free of charge. Print copies of the report are available for a nominal fee to cover the cost of printing and shipping.

And those readers paying attention will recall my speech at Frankfurt last year where I discussed significant changes underway in academic libraries in how print collections are changing. Earlier this month OCLC released a report on Cloud Sourcing Research Collections (OCLC):

The objective of the project was to examine the feasibility of outsourcing management of low-use print books held in academic libraries to shared service providers, including large-scale print and digital repositories. The study assessed the opportunity for library space saving and cost avoidance through the systematic and intentional outsourcing of local management operations for digitized books to shared service providers and progressive downsizing of local print collections in favor of negotiated access to the digitized corpus and regionally consolidated print inventory.

Some of the findings from the project that are detailed in the report include:

  • There is sufficient material in the mass-digitized library collection managed by the HathiTrust to duplicate a sizeable (and growing) portion of virtually any academic library in the United States, and there is adequate duplication between the shared digital repository and large-scale print storage facilities to enable a great number of academic libraries to reconsider their local print management operations.
  • The combination of a relatively small number of potential shared print providers, including the US Library of Congress, was sufficient to achieve more than 70% coverage of the digitized book collection, suggesting that shared service may not require a very large network of providers.
  • Substantial library space savings and cost avoidance could be achieved if academic institutions outsourced management of redundant low-use inventory to shared service providers.
  • Academic library directors can have a positive and profound impact on the future of academic print collections by adopting and implementing a deliberate strategy to build and sustain regional print service centers that can reduce the total cost of library preservation and access.
From the executive summary:
It is our strong conviction, based on the above findings, that academic libraries in the United States (and elsewhere) should mobilize the resources and leadership necessary to implement a bridge strategy that will maximize the return on years of investment in library print collections while acknowledging the rapid shift toward online provisioning and consumption of information. Even, and perhaps especially, in advance of any legal outcome on the Google Book Search settlement, academic libraries have a unique opportunity to reconfigure print supply chains to ensure continued library relevance in the print supply chain. In the absence of a licensing option, online access to most of the digitized retrospective literature will be severely constrained. Demand for print versions of digitized books will continue to exist and libraries will be motivated to meet it, but they will need to do so in more cost-effective ways. In the absence of fully available online editions, full-text indexing of digitized in-copyright material provides a means of moderating and tuning demand for print versions and should facilitate the transfer of an increasing part of the print inventory to high-density warehouses. Viewed in this light, shared print storage repositories could enable a significant and positive shift in library resources toward a more distinctive and institutionally relevant service portfolio.
From the twitter (@personanondata):

Amazon Changes Digital Text Platform to Kindle Direct Publishing

Digital Publisher Vook Closes $5.25 Million Financing

Thomson Reuters Acquires Legal Publishing Group in Argentina & Chile

Bloomberg: Bertelsmann Leads $15mm round for College Textbook Publisher Flat World Knowledge, FT Says

MediaPost: Ad Networks Ordered To Stop Working With Alleged eBook Piracy Site

Publishers get a measure of India's booming English book market - The National

In sports Manchester United continue to under perform (if you must find something to criticize), but England get embarrassed again (although we don't really care about this slog).

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