Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Books on Demand

I attended the first day of the Arizona Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson.  One of the highlights for me was visiting the library and seeing a demonstration of the Books on Demand Espresso Book Machine.  The Espresso Book Machine will print and bind a quality paperback book between 40 and 800 pages in approximately five minutes.

The Espresso Book Machine will print your own original book files, submitted as a PDF.  It can also print anything available in its searchable database.   Titles are sourced from Google Books, Internet Archive and, via arrangements with Ingram and/or individual publishers, a selection of titles from McGraw Hill, Harper Collins and other major and minor houses.  

The cost of a book is affordable.  U of A markets both in and out of the university community to position itself as a content creator.  Instructors can print books through the service, and the University of Arizona Press uses the operation for its advance reader copies.  For the general public, the costs are quite reasonable.  There is a one time $5 fee to set up the book to print.  After that, covers cost $2.50 and individual pages are priced at four cents each; a 40 page book costs $4.10.   Additionally, U of A proactively purchased a set of ISBNs and are selling them at $35 apiece, allowing the people who publish through them.  If bought through Books on Demand, the ISBN cost rises to $200.

The hardware can be bought or leased, but is still pretty expensive.  The price for the Espresso is still in the tens of thousands.  Another issue is maintenance.  It is complicated machine, and Books on Demand doesn't at this time have the resources to offer service.  Having said that, they do offer maintenance training to copier services.  The University of Arizona has two Espressos, one in the library and one in the bookstore.  The library's copier contract is with Xerox, and Xerox sent its employees to training and they service the Espresso along with all the other copiers.  when something goes wrong with the machine, Xerox is out to fix within the day.  The bookstore does not have that arrangement, and when something goes wrong with their machine it has to be fixed in house, which can take weeks.

More about the  Espresso Book Machine and Books on Demand:

http://ondemandbooks.com/images/EBM_Brochure.pdf


http://ondemandbooks.com/ebm_video.php

--TK

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WalMart = Library

Have you heard of the abandoned WalMart building in Texas that was converted into America's largest one story library?

From 1,950 square feet to 123,000! From 2 public meeting spaces to 16! It's quite a fun accomplishment for the library community and might put a smile on your face.

New McAllen Main Library and pictures/info on Weburbanist.

Colin

Thursday, February 19, 2015

LAC Reference: Using the Second Screen

Trouble-Shooting the second screen (on the swing arm) at LAC Reference.

If the screen is blank, it might just be a configuration issue.

Press Windows-P on the keyboard (the 'Windows' key is the one with the flag on it, between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the lower left). That will bring up the options for an Alternate Display. Select the 'Duplicate' option. (hat-tip to Vivian for this).

fp

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Workshops

Today, for the second time in as many shifts as I've worked at the LAC reference desk, a student came in inquiring about the workshop posted on the schedule.  Both students were sent here by an instructor as a chance for them to earn extra credit, and both times the presenting librarian was absent from the building.  In the first instance, there were two librarians at the desk, so one of us was able to open up L103 and present a workshop.  Today I was the only librarian in the building and the best I was able to do was to suggest that the student come back in a couple of hours when we figure to at least have adequate staffing to present a workshop, or else the next day.  THIS JUST IN:  while I was typing this, more students came and asked about the same workshop.  I asked, and the instructor is Nellis.  She teaches English.

So, I guess there are a couple of issues.  We have an instructor who is sending students, however late in the game, to our scheduled workshops.  Historically, we have tended not to present them during finals week, but the published schedule says we are offering them.  The other issue is what is the point of the workshop.  The students are simply coming for extra credit at this point; finals week is too late for them to learn something that will help them this semester.  Still, this is on the schedule and we look bad, IMO, for not coming through on it.

Going forward, we should try not to prepopulate the schedule with sessions we aren't going to honor. If we aren't hosting the workshops, we shouldn't advertise them.  It's great that we have at least one instructor that is sending students to our workshops, but it appears to be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing.   Maybe we could work with Ms. Nellis and the English department to coordinate a time for this assignment?  If she wants to offer extra credit, that's great, but the sessions should take place earlier in the semester, when the student can use the information and it would be less a case of going through the motions for both student and presenter.  Minimally, though, we really should not make commitments we aren't intending to follow through on.

Ted

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

LibGuides Project Update

Here's the latest on the the reorganization project for the LibGuides.

Since we will be migrating to Version 2 in the not-too-distant future, we have decided to hold off on trying to develop a new template in Version 1 (why re-do guides now and then re-do them again next Summer?). So I am going to start working on design ideas using Version 2 features. Ward is going to contact Springshare to find out when we will be migrating to the newer version (which does have some cool new design features).

That said, if you are interested in developing a new guide, go ahead; just remember that we will be asking you to migrate the content into a new template in a few months. Also, please continue to review your existing guides to keep them current.

On a semi-related issue, Springshare is also coming out with a Version 2 of LibAnswers. I believe it is still in the beta phase, so we will probably not be switching to that for a while.

Thank you, and have a pleasant Thanksgiving.

FP (on behalf of the Tech. Working Group)


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Twilight of the LAC Reference Desk Computers

It's no secret that the PCs at the reference desk are overdue for replacement.  The computer mounted on the curve of the reference desk facing the entrance was up to its usual tricks at opening, requiring multiple attempts at start-up before finally booting; this process took a full fifteen minutes, which is slightly longer then usual.  While I'm used to that process being balky, I'm not used to Firefox completely freezing, which happened three times this morning.  The first two times it froze pretty much catastrophically, to the point where I couldn't even open the task manager and had to give it a hard reboot; the third time I was able to close the program before it froze the computer.  

So, tl;dr:  don't use Firefox on the computer in the front of the reference desk.  You might not want to use it on the other one, either.

Ted  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Research Guides - Changes in the works

So, the Technology Work Group has started discussing plans to make some changes in how we develop and maintain our LibGuides. These are potentially very useful tools, and our students DO access them quite a bit (we have 3 guides with over 1000 views this year). We are hoping to streamline the process to make them easier for us to make & maintain, and easier for students to use.

We are looking at a three-pronged approach:

1. Develop some basic How-to guides (eg, How to find books, How use Reserves, etc). Then each subject guide can just link to these, rather than each librarian re-inventing the wheel with every guide.

2. Streamline the lay-out of our subject-based guides. Sometimes we fall into the trap of trying to give our patrons TOO MUCH information. Some of our guides have gotten a bit cluttered. Students can get overwhelmed if there is too much to read on any given web-page.

3. Try to identify gaps in our subject guides. We need to focus on serving all our departments, and some seem to have fallen into cracks.

Colin is taking the lead on this project, but it is something that is going to require a LOT of hands.

More about this in the future.

fp