[WEB4LIB] Re: library marketing was RE: Google Mail invitations? Any takers?

C.S. Durfee csdurfee at gmail.com
Tue Feb 15 13:36:30 EST 2005

All due respect, but I don't remember the last time that Barnes and
Noble, the NY Times, etc. asked the taxpayers to fund a $200 million
bond measure.  Saying that libraries do what they do for free is
pretty spurious, especially when it's used as a cop-out to not deliver
new and better services to our customers and to adapt to the changing
information landscape.  I think the library's home turf should be to
give people information they want or need in the easiest possible
manner.  That includes having public internet machines in the
libraries, that includes ILL, the reference desk, the bookmobile,
community programs, online databases, and the OPAC.

Patrons ask: Why is the OPAC harder to use and slower than google? 
Why can't I search inside of books from the catalog?  Amazon and even
Project Gutenberg can do that.  Why doesn't your catalog know where
I'm located either from my IP address or my user preferences and give
me results for libraries near me, complete with a map of how to get to
the library?

For that matter, why do I have to drive down to the library to pick
something up? Why can't I just pay for shipping and have the book
mailed?  Why can't I get notified when a book I have out is about to
become overdue, or a book on some subject I'm interested comes in? 
I'm a programmer.  What on earth is a "MARC Record", and why can't I
get your data in XML format via a web service?

If I go to Amazon and I want to look for mystery movies on DVD, I can
go: DVD > Browse Genre > Mystery and Suspense.  I'm greeted with a
list of sub-genres (film noir, thrillers, etc.), most popular and
newest items, the ability to get emails when new mysteries come in, a
link for an RSS feed of new items, and so on.

Compare that to what I have to go through to get the same info from my
OPAC.  I do a subject browse on "mysteries", and I get a list of
"mysteries and miracle-plays", "mysteries of the rosary", etc.  Hunh? 
So I have to call a librarian (unfortunately my library doesn't do
anything convenient like IM), they tell me, oh, you want to search on
"detective and mystery films", not "mysteries", idiot, don't you have
a copy of the AACR at hand?  Okay, so I do a search on that.  Then, I
have to do a limit on DVD's and a sort to see the most recent items
first, which takes a minute or two, because the OPAC is slow.  Still
no way of being notified when new stuff comes in, no way of knowing
what the hottest titles are, no kind of heirarchical structure so I
can easily get to just the film noir or suspense titles or back to all
DVD's from there, no way of knowing what other readers thought of the

What I'm trying to get at is that you may think these are silly
questions, or outside of the scope of the library's mission, but a lot
of library patrons -- the people who pay our salaries -- don't.   Our
home turf isn't to give people free email addresses or places to share
photos or shop for toasters, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty
that we can't learn from Yahoo!/Amazon/Google/del.icio.us/et. al.

>>> "Mr. Brian Collier" <collierb at marist.com> 02/14/05 03:38PM >>>
This is veering off topic, but I have to disagree with Roy's evaluation
of A and B. 

There's no question that we provide what people want. Barnes and Noble,
the NY Times, Netflix, and ISPs charge for the same stuff that libraries
GIVE AWAY in the form of books, movies, periodicals, and computer
access. As far as ease of access, all people have to do is walk, run,
bike, or drive to their community library.

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