October 22, 2010

Guest post: The 10th Anniversary E-Books Conference - Working in a digital age

Coordinated by SLIC, MMITS, SCURL, SALCTG & the JISC RSC’s (Scotland)
Playfair Library, Edinburgh
21 October 2010

Live-notes taken by guest contributor Nicola Garwood, Eduserv

Presentation One:
Books are going e!
Catherine Nicholson, Head of Learning Resources, Glasgow School of Art

  • History of e-books (Project Gutenberg started in 1971)
  • Where are we now?  “The end of the beginning”
  • Today’s challenges:
    • Different providers have different platforms and interfaces, navigation issues
    • New Sony reader launched, you can buy ebooks from anywhere (oh, except for from Amazon . . . ) – compatibility issues between readers and ebooks
    • Preservation (will digital files today work on devices of tomorrow?)
    • Expansion and innovation – Starbucks launching ebooks programme where you can pick up an ebook whilst there and the next time you come in to the cafe, it remembers  you (which ebook you were reading and remembers your place in the ebook)

Presentation Two:
The Digital Landscape: You, me and us!
Caren Milloy, Head of Projects, JISC Collections

  • In academia, things take a lot longer.  It is FEAR which stops progress.
  • How can we be ready for what’s next?
  • The “me” economy – to survive, an industry must adapt to the “me” economy and provide consumers with a hyper-personalised experience
    (example: traditional porn companies faced threat from the proliferation of free and amateur pornography available on the internet.  Playboy floundered when it made decisions by committee and asked the question “how can we get people to continue to buy our DVDs and magazines” instead of asking the question “how can we adapt to this new and changing world?”. When Playboy became strong, decisive, and forward thinking they adapted by creating a hyper-personalised experience for porn users - the specific type of porn I want, when I want, how I want, wherever I want it).
  • Ebooks are NOT providing the “me” experience currently.  They are not optimised. 
  • Users want everything they encounter to be shareable, amendable, receivable
  • Some academic publishers are just at the very beginning of starting to develop ebooks with the “me” experience in mind:
  • In the trade market, a few providers are doing this “me” experience particularly well:
    • Enhanced Editions – We tailor-make ebooks for the iphone - stacked full of brilliant, easy-to-use features, and hours of multimedia extras, and crafted with the editorial insight that only publishers can bring to a book.
    • IDEO with different products:
      • Nelson - a “bigger picture” application that helps the reader discover related perspectives, information, and discourse as he reads about a topic. The video shows Nelson providing opinion posts, fact checking, and news stories related to the text, as well as a visual display of books that reference or are referenced by the current document.
      • Coupland - Coupland takes an existing group, like the company you work for, and shows you what books are most popular within it—giving you an overview of what other people in your field are reading and thinking about.
      • Alice - demonstrates what an electronic device can bring to fiction, like non-linear narratives and stories with game elements.
  • Our online friends are now our de facto editors – these relationships are HUGELY influential. 
    • Example: instead of looking to the newspaper for the news, some people now just look to their twitter feed for the news that is relevant to them as posted by the people they’ve selected with similar interests and concerns. People trust their friends to provide only that information which is relevant to them.
  • The library role should embrace this changing world and aim to become “expert anchoring communities”
  • Similar to the question by Playboy, libraries should not be asking “how can we get students to keep reading our books” and instead should ask “how can we remain relevant to students and best support their learning needs”
  • The JISC Collections e-textbook business model study supports this view of libraries.   The study found that it would be impossible for the library to provide all the needs of its students through the purchase of e-books.  Libraries would be wise to avoid pursuing major expenditure in e-books – especially with 40% expected cuts to library HE budgets and 25% expected cuts to FE libraries.
  • UK textbook purchases by students are worth £200 million per year to publishers.  This is falling and e-purchasing is making up some of the shortfall.  University libraries, however, cannot replace this revenue stream provided by students.
  • This proposal to libraries of becoming “expert anchoring communities” represents a huge change to libraries
  • The realisation of “me” comes from “us” – Libraries should become the de facto editors for students as their academic online social network, integrating and pushing content to students.  Provide hyper-personalised content to students through social networks

Presentation Three:
The Google Generation, Professor David Nicholas, Department of Information Studies, UCL

    • Digital transition (access)
  • Disintermediation (massive choice; everybody is an “expert” – people with mobile devices using it more for content than for anything else)
  • Decoupling (professional/business meltdown – more and more activities in the digital world but more and more remotely and anonymously so that we know less and less about more and more people)
  • The virtual world has FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED the way that we seek, use, and communicate
  • Universities risk being left behind by operating in the OLD paradigm and therefore need to move to the NEW paradigm
  • 1.6 billion scholarly materials are downloaded each year and this is increasing – widening access being the main driver
  • Quarter of scholarly use is outside of “normal” working hours of 9 to 5 and 16% occurs on weekends
  • This huge growth will continue, especially with the launch of the iPad which is a reading device instead of the web which is a viewing device
  • 40% of people do not come back to the same content
  • Everyone has VERY POOR retrieval skills – only search 2 or 3 words and only look at the top results . . . therefore only scratching the surface as to what is out there and available
  • People leave their memories in cyberspace – we do not need to remember anything anymore because the information is always available and accessible
  • “we’re always going somewhere else”
  • Abstracts are the motorways – why not give PDFs away for free and charge for the abstracts?!  Although most won’t admit it, the truth is that we prefer the abstract and hardly ever download the full article.  The abstract is short, useful, simple.  We like simple.
  • Nobody ever uses Advanced Searching – except the odd librarian.  When asking publishers why they put in advanced searching they say because librarians request it.  But no one ever uses it.
  • People want to get into a website as quickly as possible and get out again, taking the bit of information they wanted with them.
  • The horizontal has replaced the vertical – we hoover through titles, headings, content pages, and summaries at a huge rate and we find this pleasurable
  • We hardly ever spend any time on any one thing (we go to write a report, but oh we need to book that train ticket online, and let’s do a search on something for the report, oh and respond to bob’s email, and back to the report . . . )
  •  Viewing has replaced reading
  • Power browsing
  • “Brand” is a very complicated concept.  The younger the person is, the much less likely they are to recognise traditional brands.
  • We are ALL in the “Google Generation” – but what about people born now who only will ever know digital and nothing else?  Will they change us or will we influence them?  My bet is on them.
  • Opportunity of information society where everyone can get information but they do not want to get information – they want a social network to give them the information
  • Students ask me how to get a First – well, it requires actually READING the material but students don’t read now.  They skim and skitter.  They want to know out of the whole reading list, which is the one book they really should read, and which bits of the book are the bits that are the important bits.  They don’t see anything wrong with taking a bit from here and a bit from there and throwing it into a paper.  And these are UCL students – apparently UCL is the fourth best university in the world which makes you think well these must be the fourth best students in the world.  And all they do is skim and skitter.
  • Who actually CARES about what is happening with this generation?
  • Publishers and librarians should care.  But if they are to do anything about it then they need to get much closer together and work much more closely together.

Presentation Four:
The Springer / SHEDL ebooks project
Helen Ellis, Licensing Manager, Springer

  • Springer has 40,000 ebooks available through 12 subject collections with no DRM
  • Perpetual rights to content for a one-off fee with unlimited concurrent users
  • MyCopy – print on-demand in black and white of ebooks purchased through the university for 24.95 EUROS no matter what the retail price of the book and branded with the university logo.  Great for students who want the print copy and library benefits because student knows the only reason they got that printed textbook so cheaply is because the library bought the ebook version.
  • SHEDL – 2008 Springer and SHEDL worked together providing content to all 19 members of the consortium.
  • Ebook trial started in January 2010 for full 12 months providing all ebook content (all 40,000 titles) to all 19 institutions in the consortium
  • Expect 230,000 chapters will have been downloaded by the end of the year
  • As a percentage of each subject collection, the most used ebooks were in Behaviour Sciences
  • Users were happy to look at older content, published 3 or 4 years ago which is very different than in journals where currency and immediacy are key
  • The top downloaded title so far is “Encyclopaedia of Language and Education” (2008) – this is surprising since Springer is best known for STM

Presentation Five:
Mobile Learning
Jon Trinder, Glasgow University

  • The “Innovation Prevention Department” at an institution is usually the IT department
  • Students are all using different devices
  • Students are accessing OUTSIDE of network but INSIDE the institution (i.e. via 3G)
  • “better to use simple tools expertly” (quote from 1947)
  • Previous research shows that simply giving a class of students PDAs doesn’t mean they will use them

Presentation Six:
LoveBytes: Digital Literacy
Debbie Boden, Director of Library Services, Glasgow Caledonia University

  • A high degree of digital literacy / information literacy is required
  • Librarians should be taking courses on Information Literacy and offering training to students – especially international students who may not have had much digital exposure previously
  • University libraries and public libraries should work much more closely together (could the combined university/public library in Worcester set an example to be followed throughout the country?)
  • The Blended Librarian will be the one with staying power:
    • “an academic librarian who combines the traditional skill set of librarianship with the information technologist’s hardware/software skills, and the instructional or educators designer’s ability . . . “
  • The future for librarians “LoveBytes”: Librarians Oversee Virtual Environments By Teaching Essential Skills

Presentation Seven:
Bloomsbury Public Library Online
Jonathan Davidson, Area Manager, Bloomsbury

  • Public Library Online is an online access subscription model of themed digital bookshelves from a range of publishers offering fiction and non-fiction
  • Streamed digital content over the library website through the internet
  • Any number of readers at any time over the internet
  • No piracy issues because files not actually downloaded
  • 16 local authorities involved so far
  • Cost is £100 per 100,000 population served for each bookshelf
  • Generates money for libraries because patrons can click link to purchase the library book if they want their own ebook copy or paper copy and the libraries will get a kickback for these sales generated

Presentation Eight:
Digital Economy Act
Janice McFarlane, Head of Partnerships, National Library of Scotland

  • Bill received royal assent on 8 April 2010 despite much lobbying that it was not ready
  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be responsible for following-up on copyright infringements
  • Subscribers of ISPs will have access cut off if they have 3 infringements of copyright
  • But are libraries Internet Service Providers or Subscribers – from what we can tell so far, libraries will be considered Subscribers . . . but does this mean that if any of our patrons commit copyright infringement then our whole service will be shut down?
  • Clarity on these issues is not expected until the Code is published in mid-to-late 2012

Presentation Nine:
Swets Showcase
Tamsyn Wymer, Swets

  • Academic libraries are currently purchasing more ebooks than public libraries and schools
  • But there is a significant lag behind electronic journals
  • Ebooks have benefits but also present challenges, the main barriers being:
    • Availability of title as an ebook
    • Access and purchase models
    • Awareness of ebooks by end-users
    • Internal processes at the library
  • With regards to purchasing models, these are confusing with many different models on offer (pay-per-use, patron-driven acquisitions, lease to own, subscription bundles, pick-and-mix, etc)
  • The biggest challenges thus are all around acquisition (selection, resource identification, licensing issues, platform availability and interface, cost, availability)
  • SwetsWise aims to provide a single source for eBooks purchasing
  • SwetsWise is a one-stop-shop comparing price options offered by multiple ebook providers.
  • SwetsWise tells the librarian which books are ebooks, who they are published by, where they can be purchased, and for what price

Presentation 10:
Acquisitions, but not as we know it
Elize Rowan, Acquisitions Manager, University of Edinburgh

  • Budgets are being squeezed
  • Need to look at how ebook purchasing fits into existing work-flows
  • Collection development
  • Ebooks can help with:
    • Distance learners
    • Meeting peak demands
    • Collection management

(Note: that Nicola had to leave at this point so tail end of the presentation/day was missed).

About eFoundations LiveWire

  • A series of live-blogs from meetings about the Web, cloud infrastructure, linked data, big data, open access, digital libraries, metadata, learning, research, government, online identity, access management and anything else that takes our fancy by by Pete Johnston and Andy Powell.

    All views expressed here are personal.

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