Google and its Dominance in my Sources

Gstrein, S., & Muhlberger, G. (2011). Producing eBooks on Demand: A European Library Network. In K. Price, & V. Havergal, eBooks in Libraries: A Practical Guide (pp. 37-52). London: Facet Publishing.

Gstrein and Muhlberger’s section on Producing eBooks on demand was an interesting project where users could request an “ebook on demand”. While this appears to have simply been a scanned version of a book many users found the service to be good, however many 30% felt the price was high for the material. Because many of the users in my target audience are those that like ebooks because of the “instant” nature, it’s interesting to look at a service like this because while you could get an electronic version, it could take quite a while, and unlike traditional ebooks for public libraries, it wasn’t free.

Price, K. (2011). eBooks for Free: Finding, Creating and Managing Freely Available Texts. In K. Price, & V. Havergal, eBooks in Libraries: A Practical Guide (pp. 53-70). London: Facet Publishing.

Price actually manages to bring it all back to Jeanneney by talking about if Google Books would be the ultimate library. She points out the conflict between Google, a for profit company and libraries such as Harvard University Library, New York Public Library, Stanford University Library are working to make their collections available for free. But I think that there’s an upside to all of these different entities doing “the same” work. Each is done with the same intent, to preserve information and to make it available to the masses. And realistically speaking I think that’s the end goal.

Darnton, R. (2009). The Case For Books: Past, Present and Future. New York: PublicAffairs.

One of the things I find interesting about research is the whole, rabbit hole aspect of it. You start out on a specific topic and find yourself immersed in a book about the case for books. I do however think this is relevant because I hear too often when people point out that things are online, so there isn’t a need for printed books or public libraries. I tend to laugh in those people’s faces. Like Jeanneney and Price, Google is brought up and its plans for literary domination are discussed. More than that though, Darnton discusses the copyright case Authors Guild, Inc. vs Google, Inc. However the book was published in 2009 so it doesn’t reflect that the case was dismissed in 2013.


Some More Bibliographic Information

Jeanneney, J.-N. (2007). Google And the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View From Europe. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Jeanneney’s Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View From Europe was an interesting read because while it initially comes across as slightly nationalist, I feel that he does raise some very interesting points. Jeanneney is concerned about Google being a single point depositary for information and knowledge, a concern I’ve seen in my other readings. He worries that English will become the default language that items are stored in digitally and that as a result of that, culture will be lost. Reading about this in conjunction with visiting National Libraries was really eye opening because while they are making a point to reserve books that relate to their national heritage, they are also preserving items of cultural significance. It’s really amazing to think about the cultural impact of things like, London Bridge have on people.

It really made me think more about two topics that keep coming up in my studies, the role of the information professional as a knowledge gatekeeper and trying to determine (as Buckland does so many times) what information is. I completely agree that London Bridge is information, but more than that, the impact that London Bridge has because it exists is also information.

Fleet, C. (2012). New Developments in Acessing and Viewing Online Maps at the National Library of Scotland. International Preservation, 13-19.

This article was great to read after Jeanneney’s Myth of Google because it brings up the importance of multiple sources of collection and curating data. In this article Fleet discusses a collaborative effort between the National Library of Scotland, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, and the National Records of Scotland to create an online portal. This portal uses historical information to display maps similar to those currently used by Google Maps and Yahoo Maps for different periods of time.

It allows for a better user experience and for users to interact with historic geographic maps. The georeferencing of historical maps is HUGE think about it: you’d be able to create a time lapse of a specific street address and see changes to it over years. It allows for “improved retrieval and user interfaces . . . but also better understanding of maps by analyzing their geometrical properties and the ability to compare and overlay with other maps and special data” (Fleet, 2012, p. 15).So this portal allows users to put in an address or location in Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and Belgium and see what has been there at different periods of time.

It’s a great combination of collaboration and cultural history that I think would make Jeanneney proud.

Getting Lost at the British Library

Well, not so much “getting lost” as “buying tickets for the wrong day because in a hurry”. And rushing there (and spending £5 on a taxi) and really just feeling kind of stupid, but it was okay. Partially because they let you do self-guided tours and because that was the only real “bad” thing to happen on my trip. Not to mention I now have a story to tell that I think is hilarious.

I have to admit that I’ve never actually visited The Library of Congress here, but it’s totally on my bucket list but I think that’s the closest we here in America have as far as a national library. It was really interesting to see and compare two different National Libraries (The National Library of Scotland and the British Library). Both are non-lending libraries so you’d think that they’d have similar issues with patronage, but when I was at the British Library it was PACKED. The café and common rooms were full, people were using laptops, looking at materials in the reading room. Granted I was at the British Library on a Thursday in the late afternoon as opposed to early on a Monday morning so I think that likely had a lot to do with the difference. Plus it’s literally right down the street from the King’s Cross Station so I think the proximity to everything helped.

The British Library has a strict no-photos allowed rule so I wasn’t able to take photographs but the collection is breathtaking. Unfortunately I wasn’t as lucky as I was with the National Library of Scotland because I showed myself around but I did read their 2013 – 2014 Annual Report which lists their major goals for 2014 – 2015 and the one I found most interesting is Number 3: Support research communities in key areas for social and economic benefit.

They focused on inspiring and enabling entrepreneurs by focusing on an Entrepreneurship week and holding an Inspiring Entrepreneurs series of events. I think this is extremely important and a great way for libraries that don’t offer lending services to still be involved in the community as a whole.

British Library. (2015). British Library Annual Report and Accounts 2013/14. London: British Library.

Days 4 -6: The London Adventure

Those that know me well know that I’m not really a morning person, but I’m not sure if it was the time change, the sense of adventure, but most mornings I was up and having a cup of tea by 7:30am. This worked out well for our London adventure as we got up extra early to catch the train to London. This was going to be great, we had tickets for a tour of the British National Library (more on that later) and I was going to see so many literary things. It’s amazing to think that in just a few hours you can get from one country to another in just a few hours. The early morning train ride was filled with sleepy passengers but my view was either of the book I was reading The Case for Books: Past Present and Future, or outside looking at the changing countryside. It was amazing to see the different level of architecture that exists there. There are parts that are very modern, but I saw lots of small cottages that looked like they had been there for hundreds of years. Tons of sheep too, granted I live in Indiana so seeing sheep/llamas/cows isn’t uncommon if you are driving in the countryside. It was very much the same as America, and yet very different. I loved it.

So on a side note (I promise, it’s related) if you follow me on GoodReads you might have noticed that over the last few months I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter books on CD in my car. I read the Harry Potter books when they first came out but this is my first time going back and starting at the start of the series. Why is this important? Because when we took the train in we arrive at London’s King’s Cross Station. Home to Platform 9 ¾ – also known as “Where you catch the train to Hogwarts”. Needless to say I kind of geeked out, embarrassing Brandi and our friend Jenny quite a bit. But I REGRET NOTHING.

London was so much fun.


What I saw:

Big Ben
The Houses of Parliament
The Canada Gates
The Queen Victoria Memorial
The Shard
London Bridge
The Globe Theatre
And Buckingham Palace – where to my amusement the Royal Mail was there delivering, well, the Royal Mail.

Where I ate:

Honest Burgers in London, I honestly can’t recommend them enough. They were so good we ate their twice, on the first day we were in London and on the last day were in London (and I’ve been craving it since). They had a fantastic veggie fritter burger and the fries, oh my god the fries were so good. Brandi has Celiacs so she can’t consume gluten and she was able to get a burger on a delicious gluten free bun. Both the fries and onion rings are gluten free.

The Truscott Arms in Maida Vale. Brandi had done her research and they had gluten free fish and chips so we used our trusty oyster cards and headed out there. I got a really good caprese salad with pesto.

And a bunch of other little places.

British Library. (2015). British Library Annual Report and Accounts 2013/14. London: British Library.

Day 3: The Glasgow Adventure

Scotland – Day Three: The Glasgow Adventure

I’d just like to point out that both Alex and Iain made fun of me for watching a bunch of Scottish movies but this was the day it would come in common the most. I took the bus (all by myself) from Edinburgh to Glasgow (about 40 minutes) and then walked from downtown Glasgow to the University of Strathclyde. I’d heard of the University in passing but it wasn’t until ALA Midwinter that I met with Dr. Cottington and Julie, a current PhD student that were promoting the university at a booth there. I like school, I’m not going to pretend that I don’t. I’m also not going to pretend that I’ve always thought about getting my PhD in something and this project has opened my eyes to the aspect of research for libraries. I decided to ask about their PhD program because they were there and because the idea of living and studying abroad (even before my trip) appealed to me.

Since I was already planning on going to Scotland and wanted to spend a day in Glasgow, I decided I should email Dr. Cottington to arrange a tour of the school. She was extremely accommodating, putting me in touch with David McMenemy, Lecturer and Course Director for Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde. I honestly cannot say enough positive things about David McMenemy, he showed me around the absolutely amazing offices, answering my questions, being hilariously funny, engaging and honestly one of the nicest people I met on my entire trip and made me leave really wondering if it would be feasible for me to get a PhD from there.

I do have to admit that the fact that it snowed (though only for about 15 minutes) while I was there a bit disturbing. By the time I was done meeting with David (who was amazing and introduced me to several current PhD students) it had turned to rain, the clear snow in late March was a little off putting. But at least it was pretty, and David made sure to point out some cool facts, like that Glasgow pretended to be downtown Philadephia when World War Z was filmed there made me want to set up camp.

Luckily (or unluckily) for me I have at least a year left in my Masters’ and Certification Program so I couldn’t apply as soon as I got home. On David’s recommendation I visited the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. It’s actually Carnegie library in the United Kingdom. The Mitchell Library is the largest municipal reference library in Western Europe and has the beautiful architecture that I think I’ve associated with how libraries should look. It was only supposed to be about a 15 minute walk from the University but the GPS on the phone I was using hated me and it took me quite a while, but I got to see the Buchannan Galleries (a collection of shops) were I was able to grab some great souvenirs but finally I found Mitchell Library and it was SO WORTH IT. I’ve lived and worked through library construction, reconstruction and redesigning but I was awed by this library and the number of people using it. When I was leaving I looked at the time at it as 14:00 (3:00pm) and the library had a good number of people using computers, looking at books and even using the microfilm at the library.

Is it wrong that I grabbed a burrito before heading back to the bus station? I was starving and it seemed like an easy vegetarian option that involved guacamole.

Scotland Day Two – National Library of Scotland

It’s hard to determine which day in the UK was my favorite, but day two is definitely in the running.

On Day Two of my International Adventure I visited the National Library of Scotland and met with members of their Access and Outreach Department. Thanks to the extremely kind Veronica Denholm, Access and Outreach Officer, I was able to sit in on an Access and Outreach departmental meeting. Of the eight member department five were present, but John Coll, the current Head of Access was also present and reported on two presentations he’d recently given.

In preparation for this meeting I read the 2014 Annual Report for the National Library of Scotland so I had some background information on what they were currently doing and what their strategic plan for the next few years is. One big change is that their board was recently downsized and this smaller board would be focusing on having regular retreats to focus on strategizing on community engagement.

John Coll, Head of Access reported on his recent presentation to the board on current and target audiences as well as the results of their recent customer survey. They have decided that their 2015 Corporate Plan (or Strategic Plan) would focus on targeting strategies for non-users. I think that this is something that the National Library of Scotland has in common with libraries from around the world. All libraries want to increase access to their services and knowledge about library services but as a library user I feel like a lot of the awareness campaigns that I see are located inside of libraries, so they seem to promote increase usage of specific aspects of a library, but not necessarily to target non-users.

Because the National Library of Scotland is a non-lending library they don’t go completely within my spectrum of Public Libraries. While they are open to the public and any citizen (and those eligible for visitor cards) they do not circulate their collection as much of it is rare and extremely fragile. They also have a rule that under 16s (people under sixteen years old) cannot look at materials unless a parent or guardian is with them. Obviously this is a barrier to access and one that they acknowledge as most of their audience are students especially post-graduate students and also adults doing historical research. Veronica did note that they do tours and instructional meetings for primary and secondary school students.

One project they are focusing on is the Scotland Screen Archive of Moving Pictures. This is a collection of Scotland in moving images that will be in Kelvingrove in Glasgow. This collection is designed to capture the physical representation of Scotland in a way that will appeal to users visually. This makes sense because the rest of their collection is mostly text based.

After this excellent meeting and discussion I was given a tour of the building including the archive and was able to see one of the floors where the collection is stored outside of the use.

As a library lover this day was amazing and I was shocked to see how busy the library was at about 11:00 in the morning. Users of all ages were utilizing the collection, hovering over books, using the computers to look up holdings and meeting in the small café area within the building. I also got to explore the exhibit halls and while they could be a bit dark (in lighting) the items contained in them included clothing and letters from Scotland’s history and was just amazing. My favorite was the exhibit on Scotland and the United States Civil War which included letters from Frederick Douglass.

Afterwards I visited the Central Library of the Edinburgh Public Library, the Children’s Central Library of Edinburgh. Both located right across from the National Library of Scotland.

And I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t go into The Elephant House, one of the café’s where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel. It was right across the street and I couldn’t resist. I mean, honestly, could you?

After that I met up with Brandi at Henderson’s Vegetarian restaurant, which was delicious and worked well for both our dietary restrictions (a vegetarian and a person with Celiacs). I have to admit there’s a small bit of me that regrets not getting the vegetarian Haggis, but then there’s the larger part of me that has no regrets about avoiding Haggis (vegetarian or otherwise). I think if I ever go again and I’m not a vegetarian I’ll probably try it just to say I have.

National Library of Scotland. (2015). Annual Review, 2013-2014. Edinburgh: National Library of Scotland.

Scotland – Day One

After landing and meeting up with my wonderful Brandi she suggested that I get some sleep. Brandi is as brilliant a woman as she is a best friend and I took her advice and slept for a few hours, insisting however that she wake me up at 11:00am so that I wouldn’t sleep away the day. After all, I can sleep in America (and trust me when I got back I did!). Since I arrived on Sunday Brandi and I spent most of the day exploring the center of the city of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is amazingly beautiful, we walked through St. Andrews Square and it amazed me how old things could actually be.

Warning, Standard American Abroad Blathering

I’m not going to pretend that people driving on the left side of the road wasn’t jarring, and I won’t say how many times I almost got into the drivers seat accidentally, but it does make going around roundabouts much easier.

Currency getting currency was a nightmare, but that I blame on my bank, I really didn’t have any trouble understanding the paper money used in Scotland (British Pounds), each denomination is a different color and the sizes vary. The change was different and it took some getting used to looking at change that had “sizeable” value and it took me several days to remember that a lot of the “change” I had was worth one or two pounds. Needless to say I may have ended up paying for a few large purchases in one and two pound coins. Sorry again to the book store employee.

The Food I’ll mention food a lot because everyone who knows me knows I’m all about food. While we did go to Henderson’s (Day 2) which does have a vegetarian Haggis, I decided against it. Overall the food was FANTASTIC, my first meal in Scotland was actually Spanish Tapas that were amazing. I was a little worried that as a vegetarian I might not be able to find a plethora of food options but I was wrong, everywhere I went had a variety of options for me to choose from. Oh and I totally had Giraffe bread – it was pretty straightforward bread but hey, when in Scotland and near a Sainsbury’s.

The Food Labeling is actually my favorite part. Apparently all prepared/packaged food has to have a list of the possible allergens and foods that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans are labeled as such. Needless to say this made life as a vegetarian really great and easy and I had no problem finding stuff I could eat.

Most of my first day was dedicated to just driving around town, buying food and just having a great time. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.