Free Online Music “Store” coming in December…

Just saw this… a start-up named SpiralFrog is planning to launch a (drumroll please) new-fangled music service that will be based on advertising revenue rather than on .99 cent downloads. Yes, you read that right – as in FREE music. Universal Music is backing them (that’s big). Look for them in December.

Libraries, dust off your CD-burning and USB-downloading skills…

silly update: I actually beat TechCrunch (who has much more info than my post, of course)!

Update #2: Never mind – from TechCrunch (who had a Skype conversation with the PR dude from SpiralFrog):

“Spiral Frog will offer a desktop downloader for Windows Media Files (no iPods!) that can be listened to on one PC and two portable devices.”

And…

“you must log in to the Spiral Frog service at least once per month, and see their ads, or your files will stop playing!”

Two VERY stupid ideas, one digital music company that’s sure to fail.

David’s New Job

I don’t tend towards the personal on this site, but sometimes ya just gotta. I have accepted a new job! Starting in October, I will be the Digital Branch & Services Manager (read the job ad, if you’re interested) at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. I’ll be in charge of all things digital – including the website (and building a new, extremely cool library 2.0 site – stay tuned on that one) and the IT department.

What did I like about this job? Listen to this: ” … lead a lighly skilled cross-disciplined staff in using new technologies to translate traditional library services into a digital, Library 2.0 format and provide innovative digital library service to our community.” To me, that sounds extremely fun, and really meshes with my digital-services-creation goals.

I also liked how they are treating the IT department and the web team in our emerging techie world. Some library IT departments are treated as a separate, supporting function of the library – and not really included as a department that serves the public. And no one really knows what to do with a web team – some have separate departments, some divide content and structure-type jobs (the web programmers go with IT, the content developers go somewhere else), and some are stuck in really strange areas (I’ve seen one library that lumped web services with the cataloging department!).

But Topeka has done something I think is ingenious – they changed their focus, so rather than placing the Digital Branch team within the IT department, they included the IT team as part of the Digital Branch. Maybe semantics, maybe not that new … but that little switch in thinking makes a ton of sense to me. And so I’m also pretty stoked about that!

OK – what does this mean for davidleeking.com? Probably not much – I still plan to talk about the same stuff I always talk about (and hope to actually have examples of cool things when I talk – Topeka already has blogs and a myspace account!). Postings might slow down for awhile – I have to move a family, sell a house, buy a house, tie up loose strings at my current job, start a new job … and do quite a few presentations, too!

Then again, I might just drink a few more cups of coffee, stay up late, and post something while I’m packing boxes, working on presentations, doing touch-up painting, and signing HR forms… either way, stay tuned for much more fun stuff from davidleeking.com!

Library of Congress Solves their Techie Divide

If you didn’t see this, you should REALLY go read the article (from American Libraries Online; discovered via Michael Casey).

From the ALA article: “… LC Director for Workforce Acquisitions Bill Ayers said 200 employees had taken advantage of a voluntary retirement incentive for librarians who had become “very comfortable” with traditional librarianship and chose not to gain new technological skills. As a result, he said, the library’s full-time staff dropped by 130 between FY 2004 and 2005.” {emphasis mine}

And this quote: “… LC is preparing a workforce transformation initiative to help current employees upgrade their abilities while attracting new staff with digital-era skills.” {emphasis mine}

Did you catch that? This is a great (yet unfortunate) example of the odd digital divide in libraries and among library staff. There are library workers who are capable of gaining “new technological skills” … and there are library workers who for one reason or another “chose not to gain new technology skills.” And LC is being very kind – they’re training people who want to learn, and providing other options for those who do not want to learn.

I’ve been reading up on change management and thinking about how that affects technology change in libraries, and this example fits in well with what I’ve learned so far. Some people simply don’t want to change – they are comfortable with their jobs and their job duties, they might even think the way they do things is The Best Way to do them – so why in the world would they want to change?

I like the pro-active way the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County is dealing with technology change and training with their Learning 2.0 / 23 Things training program. But also – at some point – library managers might need to treat technology skills like any other skill – it’s part of your job, you need to do it or find another job. That seems harsh, but really… would you hire someone to do telephone reference if they had no phone skills, and refused to learn phone skills? Would you hire a cataloger if they couldn’t catalog and didn’t want to learn anything about AACR2? Probably not.

It should be the same with technology skills, which right now are changing pretty rapidly. Think about it.

Libraries aren’t the Only Ones Dealing with Web 2.0

We’ve beenseeing a few “web 2.0-ish” library jobs crop up lately – look at this job someone just accepted at NPR:

“…serving as senior product manager for online communities. In this role, I’ll essentially act as NPR’s Web 2.0 strategist, helping them develop new initiatives that encourage greater public involvement in NPR’s online activities. These activities could take a variety of forms: online social networks, wikis, blogs, mobcasting, citizen journalism, original content sharing. The NPR digital media team is very excited about the possibilities, and I’m honored that they’ve turned to me to work with them on this endeavor…”

What a fun-sounding job! While not all libraries need a position like that, I’m thinking you DO need someone (ie., person or committee) thinking and strategizing about Web 2.0…

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Five Types of Content on a Library Website

I’ve been thinking through different content types that tend to be presented on library websites. Here’s what I have so far:

  1. Traditional Content, or “Stuff we Buy”: this is the no-brainer area. It includes books, videos, music, journals, etc. All the usual stuff that libraries collect.  The main thing to remember here is to be format-agnostic. For example, libraries collect books – paper books, audio books, ebooks, digital audio books, etc. but they’re all books.
  2. Original Content, or “Stuff Librarians Create”: Library employees create great content, and most of it should be featured prominently on our websites. Here are some examples of original content: tipsheets on using databases, topical pathfinders (gee, I hate that word),  articles about a topic on a subject guide, and all those “if you like Danielle Steele, try…” Reader’s Advisory  guides. I’d lump in digitized local history content here as well. Much of the read/write web would also appear here (blogs, wikis, etc).
  3. Attendable Content, or “Things you Attend or Visit”: My library puts on seminars, classes, storytimes, exhibits, and even concerts once in awhile. All these types of events are “attendable content” – great content, but you have to be there to soak it in.
  4. Collaborative Content, or “Interacting with Patrons”: Think of this as content that patrons create or help to create. This can be slightly more traditional, like taking a poll of favorite romance videos (and then placing those results online), or hip and emerging, like commenting on blogs, wiki content added by patrons, etc. But it’s all content coming directly from patrons.
  5. Library/Librarians as Content, or “Content About the Library”: This last one is a bit more of a hodge-podge (so if anyone has a better way to explain it, please chime in!). Here, I’m including library services, locations, staff contacts, etc – everything under that “about the library” link found on most library website pages. Steve Krug calls this type of information “Utilities.” Besides all that About stuff, here’s another couple examples of what I’d include in this section: information on your home-bound books program (a library service), or information about free wifi at the library (library service, freebie you can get when using the library).

Am I leaving out anything? Should this small list be expanded? Let me know…

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