Vast Active Library and Information Science blog. From a recent library science graduate in Wellington, New Zealand. A focus on reference and current awareness tools and issues, especially free, web-based resources.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Sunday, October 16, 2005
The Library of the Future, 6 (TeleRead)  
TeleRead provides (one) take on the library of the future. This library is all digital - using the e-book equivalent podcasts or webfeeds. You create a set of criteria, and are then emailed books that meet those criteria, at set intervals. You can read the book on your PC, or download to a PDA. A bookshelf programme on your PC keeps track of what you read, what you like, what books you don't finish, and more.

An interesting read. I have a feeling that we're a long way away from this, not so much because of the technology but because of copyright/DRM issues - will publishers and authors be happy for their books to be included in such a 'library'? Also, this seems to be not so much a library as a subscription bookstore. I would question whether libraries would be permitted by publishers to offer such a service.

That said, I think it would be freaking cool, and I'd be putting my money down to sign up, as soon as it was available ;-)

It does raise another issue, though, which is the future of readers' advisory services. It seems to me that these services are going to become less and less valuable as time goes on. They rely on a single expert (the librarian) giving their opinion of useful or interesting books. Which is fine. But we now have services like Amazon ("those who read this book also read....") and Literature Map, which aggregate the power of many readers to provide the same information. And I'm willing to bet that they are better (Wisdom of Crowds, not to mention that no one librarian can be an expert on all forms of writing. For example, typing David Foster Wallace into literature map tells me that Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, and William Gaddis are similar to Wallace. I already know that the first two are similar to him, and I like their work. I haven't heard of Gaddis, but this inspires me to pick up one of his books. Now, a librarian might know that - but then again, they might not). It seems that automatic recommendations, based on the opinions of large numbers of readers, will increasingly be the way in which we discover new books.