Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - November 19, 2010

Editorial: Flexible libraries or rigid book warehouses?

Palo Alto libraries confront a new generation of readers who mostly prefer their 'books' on Kindles, iPads and not-yet-imagined sources

Suggestions that Palo Alto library refurbishing and rebuilding should include flexible designs to accommodate greater use of digital devices rather than traditional bound books have run into some not-too-surprising resistance.

That resistance comes from longstanding members of the Friends of the Palo Alto Libraries, a citizens' group that over the years has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to support library operations through its community book sales.

It surfaced at a community meeting Tuesday night to discuss design concepts for the library rejuvenation planned for the Main Library and already underway at the Downtown Library branch and an entirely rebuilt Mitchell Park Library and Community Center.

The issue is whether extra space should be created for patrons using digital devices.

The catch is that the architects and library officials are also suggesting either leveling off or reducing the number of "real" books, and thus sacrificing some shelf space in the redesign.

Interim library Director Ned Himmel said use of e-books in the library system has climbed 30 percent in the past year — but that impressive-sounding figure is hollow, based on a minuscule .6 percent of overall circulation. He also noted that Amazon.com is now selling more e-books than hard-copy new best-sellers.

He predicted that the digital era will only grow.

It is the proposal to level off or cut back the book collection for the Main Library that rallied the Friends' leadership, who showed up with about 20 supporters Tuesday night to lambaste the idea. Longtime Friends member Ellen Wyman said it would be dishonest in terms of a pledge to expand the collection that was made prior to the library bond vote in 2008.

"If they want to pass another bond in the next eon, they better not do it," she warned about any cutback in the collection.

We agree that the city should adhere to pledges made in 2008, but it's also increasingly clear that readership habits of the younger generation — and many in the older generation — are changing as fast as new technology emerges.

Collection size notwithstanding, building in flexibility to accommodate the gadgetry within the libraries is far better than seeing patrons fade away from our new buildings over time, leaving them predominantly as book warehouses guarded by a few lonely staff members.

Comments

Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 19, 2010 at 6:43 am

Interesting to see how the members of FOPAL have resorted to threats to get their self=serving view across:
""If they want to pass another bond in the next eon, they better not do it," "

It is bad enough that they have gotten us to the point where we have 5 quaint out of date libraries, now they want us to maintain 19th century midset towards the library

this is another example of how a "friends" group manipulates the system to force us to adapt their narrow view.


Posted by Funny, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 19, 2010 at 8:18 am

Perhaps we should just rename them the Palo Alto Library and Book Museums, since that's what those folks seem to want. Seriously, living in a town dominated by older folks with an overbearing sense of entitlement is strange and discouraging.


Posted by Book lover with common sense, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

Having flexible space in any public building is common sense. If you want to see how library space has changed, stop in almost any school - lots more access to computers and less dependence on books, particularly non-fiction.

As for "If they want to pass another bond in the next eon, they better not do it", I think the opposite is true. If we don't show common sense and planning for the future with the money from this current bond, why should we entrust the libraries with any more money?

It is already ridiculous that we have 5 branch libraries, lets at least make them flexible community oriented spaces.


Posted by Sneak attack, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 19, 2010 at 11:15 pm

In view of the minuscule circulation of ebooks,- an important fact buried in the middle of this story, the would-be futurists writing about the demise of libraries are full of hot air. Of course their use will grow, but so does the use of the conventional library.
You clearly have not visited any of the libraries and seen them full of people reading books, newspapers, magazines, and doing school work.
Perhaps you would be less confident of your predictions if you saw how many people are using the library's resources today.
The reality of spending 76 million dollars plus interest on the libraries, and after the vote, decreasing its collection, is bizarre, to say the least. Maybe a little sneaky?


Posted by book lover with common sense, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 20, 2010 at 8:08 am

I use the Main Library, and I am there at least weekly, usually during the day. What I see when I am there are people using library computers (ALL of them are always being used, people on laptops at the tables (again, the tables are usually completely or almost completely full) people picking up their reserved books and people in the periodical room reading papers and magazines. I seldom see anyone sitting and reading a book. I almost never see anyone "in the stacks", besides the library staff.

Based on my time spent in the actual library, more table space and more computers would be a much use of space than duplicate copies of books. Building flexible spaces would allow us to use the space as it is needed, not as a survey from several years ago thinks we need it.


Posted by looking forward, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm

The circulation problem of eBooks is due to their format. Create an iPad app and it will explode. Indeed, everyone with a Kindle/Nook/iPad already knows they can get thousands of books for free.
Having all these out-of-copyright books on the shelves is a waste of space. Make them all available on-line and you don't even need to limit the number of "borrows", with no wait-time everyone wins.


Posted by Sneak attack, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 20, 2010 at 2:39 pm

As I understand, the number of tables / chairs won't increase. Rather the AISLES will be made even wider than required, and the plan is for fewer books on each shelf. Sneaky!

Getting rid of the "out of copyright books doesn't save space because that only affects books published before 1923 and most of the library's books are newer.
The headline of this story is so biased! Flexible = good, Rigid = bad!
I would change the headline to "Last Minute Reduction in Value of Library Negates Bond Promise."


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2010 at 9:51 pm

>"…living in a town dominated by older folks with an overbearing sense of entitlement is strange and discouraging."

Not all "older folks" have old ideas.

That said, no one under 18 was surveyed in determining what modern libraries should look like. In the 2008 Palo Alto poll only 9% of 600 respondents were under 30, 53% were over 50 and 13% were 75 or older.

In 2008 (the year of the library bond), about 40% of library circulation was in "non-books," e.g., CDs/DVDs.

Remember that the bond money does not pay for computers, DVDs, CDs or books--electronic or otherwise.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 21, 2010 at 11:39 am

The feature article about the e-book topic seems to have disappeared from the main page. For those that might want to review, or keep up with the comments associated with that article:

Web Link


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 21, 2010 at 11:50 am

> What I see when I am there are people using library computers

Actually, people bring their own computers in to use WiFi, so it might be a little difficult to know whose computers are being used.

However, the library's network access is being used .. just like the network access in all of the local coffee shops around town. Given the number of coffee shops in town, it's difficult to believe that the actual network use isn't many times greater in the privately owned coffee shops than in the public libraries.

However, what should be discussed here is how expensive it is to provide this "free internet". The library doesn't have a good operational model for its activities, but certainly given the floor space involved, and the number of employees needed to "mind the store", it would not take long to see that this cost is going to be significant--certainly some multiple of $500,000 per year to provide Internet Access.

If making Internet Access available for free were to be a municipal goal, then wouldn't it make more sense to install a city-wide WiFi network (like Google did in Mountain View--which costs around $1M)? Right now, only a couple hundred people a day get access to this very expensive, library-provided, resource. A city-wide network would allow everyone in town to have access to a similar (but possibly slightly slower) resource for free (presumably).

Unfortunately, the library staff are simply not the right people to think in "big pictures" that extend beyond their domain. One can only wonder why the City Council has not been asking these sorts of questions? Or if they ever will?



Posted by Deep Throat, a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm

If young people prefer electronic books instead of printed books, just remove all the printed books from the Children's Library and replace them with as many Internet stations as possible.


Posted by book lover with common sense, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm

What I find sad and disappointing is that the residents who will be primarily responsible for paying back this bond had almost no say in what it would be used for "no one 18 was surveyed in determining what modern libraries should look like. In the 2008 Palo Alto poll only 9% of 600 respondents were under 30, 53% were over 50 and 13% were 75 or older!" Who chose the people to participate in the poll?

Deep throat - No on is suggesting that books will disappear anytime soon - especially not kids books. They are saying that we should pay attention to how technology will affect our libraries in the future. A novel concept since we have libraries that live in the past.

Wayne Martin - I guess I should have said "I see people using all the library computers, the library laptops and their own laptops. "

I was at Main yesterday afternoon, every table space was full, every stationary computer was used, I don't know which laptops were the libraries and which people brought. The periodical room was full. I walked through the stacks and there was one student-aged person in the non-fiction section and one person looking at the new fiction. No one else browsing books. This kind of "poll" would show a decreased need for book space and an increased need for tables, seating, computers, etc.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm

> No one else browsing books.

This has been true for a long time now. I made this video during the Measure N campaign:

Web Link

I actually visited all of the libraries for various periods of time at one point. I counted the heads in the Mitchell Park library 2-3 times a day, off-and-on for several weeks, to try to come up with a reasonable count of people actually "using" the library. For the most part, Mitchell Park was only "heavily" used for about 3-4 hours a day (from 1-5 PM, mostly). It was almost empty the rest of the time (10-20 people).

> I was at Main yesterday afternoon, every table space was
> full, every stationary computer was used

Well .. how many people were actually there? Were there more than 75-100 people (out of a town of 60,000)?

And why were they there? If they were there because of Internet Access, would they use the Net in their homes if there was a city-wide WiFi network that offered them free (or very inexpensive) network access? If so, what would that do to library visitation?

And how long was the place "full". Assuming the library were open on a 10-5 time slot for a Sat., how many minutes of that 420 minutes would you say the place was "full"? My guess is that it was less than 20% of the time.

You also have to ask: "what were people doing on the Net"? My observations were (from a couple of years ago) that younger people were playing games on the computer. One group at Mitchell Park (10-12 year olds) had learned how to set up peer-to-peer networks on the library computers, and were playing games--waiting for their parents to come pick them up after school. While nothing wrong with that, they could have done the same thing in their school library, and taken the pressure of the public library to provide daycare--using the Internet as a "toy".

Many so-called "homeless" people check out laptops, and watch movies from the DVD collection. These days, with all of the major networks "web-casting" their prime time shows, and Hulu.com offering many older TV shows on-line, people can watch just about anything they want on a Laptop in the library. It's a little difficult to get excited about a library being "full" of people who are looking for video entertainment at public expense.


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I've always fancied the idea of converting a large portion of a library to rentable office cubicles. Residents can sit in and work all day and well into the night. They pay a price which can be used to support other functions of the library.

It will be a great business and community service. Why? One might ask. Why people will come to work in the library when Internet is readily available at home?

Many houses and apartments in Palo Alto are small in size. There may be other people in the house, e.g. kids, spouses, visitors, etc. If someone wants to get things done in a quiet place, the library is sometimes much better than his/her own home. A library has the right environment to stimulate the mind and help people getting focused.

If the library office space can open well into the night, say 12am, I expect the business will be very brisk. Many people will be willing to pay a fee to rent a cubicle in the library. The revenue can be substantial.


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2010 at 11:00 pm

BTW, it seems to me not too hard to convert a parking meter to a "desk meter". The ROI should be great. :)


Posted by library fan, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2010 at 12:07 am

This is just a comment, I'm not concluding anything here.

When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do at the library was wander the stacks to find the oldest book there. Those old books -- sometimes more than a hundred years old -- were like time capsules. The experience gave me a completely different view of the breadth of what people produce than today, kind of like going from a close small town where you really know people to a shiny cold big city. It was the closest thing I ever did to a real treasure hunt.

I only wish the libraries were "book museums", in the sense that I'd love for them to house old encyclopedias, at least one set for every decade going back as far as they can find them. These are REAL time capsules for writers, information you just can't get using Google. Being able to thumb through them is priceless, much more efficient than using a computer, and you get far better contextual information.

You can get eBooks at home already from the library. I don't want them to take space from actual books, I want to be able to borrow those books. I have room for a computer, I don't have room for the books. Thank goodness for the library!


Posted by Wha?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2010 at 2:37 pm

"It's a little difficult to get excited about a library being "full" of people who are looking for video entertainment at public expense."

So, are you saying the library shouldn't purchase and circulate DVDs, except educational titles? Or maybe the library shouldn't be buying all those popular but never to be classic books as well? I think people that judge the taste of others should stop. Libraries should have something for everyone, including the popular and classic. Just like the town, full of all types of people.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Here is another example of how video distributor Netflix recognizes that its business model needs to change, since video can be delivered by Internet into peoples' homes at very little cost, and instantaneously --

----
Netflix offers stream-only service, hikes prices:

Web Link

The move helps Netflix's efforts to eventually phase out sending DVDs by mail, said Gabelli & Company analyst Brett Harriss.

"For a while, the goal of the company was to change its business model from DVDs to streaming because it recognizes the DVD has a limited shelf life at this time and streaming has higher margins," Harriss said.
---

Netflix sees that all that inventory of DVDs will be unnecessary in the future. Libraries have the same inventory problem, and should be doing some deep thinking about how to make the same transitions that the companies like Netflix will be making.

> I think people that judge the taste of others should stop.

I think that people who believe the public should pay for their videos, or books, or food, or transportation, should stop.

The Palo Alto library has gotten to the point where at least 40% of its circulation is non-book materials--meaning videos and AudioCDs. The idea that libraries were to provide the public too expensive, or hard-to-find reading material, has long ago been displaced with cheap, or free, or on-line books. Same for videos. Concerns expressed here are about the long term sustainability of local governments, which have gotten themselves into very unsustainable financial waters, and need to find ways back to solid footing. With the building of this massive new library, the per transaction costs for a book/video will jump to around $9-$10/item. Over time, as salaries increase, the per-item cost will jump upwards every year. Given that on-line books are costing about $10/item, and Netflix offers plans for on-line video for $10-$20/month--why shouldn't everyone pay for their own books/videos, and have our public money spent on roads and infrastructure? After all, that is what Cities are supposed to be doing with our money.





Posted by Wha?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm

"In the goal of maintaining an informed citizenry, libraries have and do play a key role. An acclaimed and well-known book to librarians in this regard (and arguably a must-read for any serious librarian and information professional) is Arthur Hafner's collection of essays in Democracy and the Public Library: Essays on Fundamental Issues. The essays in this book lay out clear historical, theoretical and practical perspectives on the role libraries play in preserving the free or marketplace of ideas which is the cornerstone of any democracy."

Web Link



Posted by Library Commissioner, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 23, 2010 at 11:32 pm

First, information presented by the interim library director about eBooks are wrong Web Link He's parroting Amazon's phony analytics - and the Weekly, along with Wayne Martin and a few others lap it up.

Get real. Books are going away. Books are a 600+ year-old *technology*, with no bugs (except for paper mites). Book sales have *increased* with the onset of the Internet.

Wayne Martin's prognostications about technology and public policy have been debunked and discredited so many times that it's not even funny. But here he is trotting out the same old schmaltz that he and a few others tried to use to defeat the last Library Bond. Sad.

Also, the Weekly consistently got their facts wrong about policy and library facts in the run up to the last Bond election. the Weekly did, finally, endorse the Bond, but only after its inaccurate reporting had put many parts of the process at risk. Sad.

Also, the Weekly is biased in a disingenuous way toward portable digital devices. It costs a lot less to distribute a digital version of a newspaper. The Weekly has no clothes on this issue. The Weekly wants everyone with an iPad so it can increase page views and thus increase its digital ad rates. Pure conflict of interest. I can't wait for the day when we have apps and far cheaper tablets that will permit really good amateur journalism. Good enough to match the Weekly's amateur journalism. Maybe then we'll have some mreal diversity of opinion, instead of this stupid forum with the same old voices all the time, and the interminable editing out of anything that's not the color of vanilla. I still want to see a report in the Weekly about why they had the prettiest tree on Cambridge cut down to accommodate their building; never saw an article on that. :-)

In fact, if Martin, the library interim director, the Weekly, and others who support the idea of reducing paper numbers, instead of *increasing* paper book numbers, and *also increasing* infrastructure for digital access (why not both, folks? - it's not that expensive, considering the efficiency contributions that could be made by a library that embedded its services within the local public education and municipal record retention systems, for digital distribution over a local network).

And, what about "Cradle-to-Cradle" book design (look it up)? How about new technologies that will permit organic, decomposable paper to be embedded with silicon, *inside* a paper book?

I see no original thinking on this matter; only a rehash of worn out positions that prognosticate from personal bias and ignorance of the facts. Facts about eBooks; facts about embedded consumer behavior re: reading habits and preferences; facts about municipal efficiency; facts about the social costs of moving away from vernacular distribution models of information (e.g. public libraries), too fast. There is a "social life" to information. Isn't John Seely Brown, past P.A.R.C. Director, in the area - look him up, or read his books.


Posted by Library Commissioner, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 23, 2010 at 11:34 pm

CORRECTION, above - 2nd paragraph: Books are NOT going away.


Posted by Come on Palo Alto, catch up!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 24, 2010 at 8:54 am

There is now a Bluefire iPad/iPhone reader: Web Link
And you can search for Palo Alto eBooks through Overdrive: Web Link

There are only ~1700 ebooks available. That is tiny!
There are audio books as well as ebooks available.

Though it's still not simple. Here are the 6 (yes 6!) steps required to get it on the iPad: Web Link


Posted by Come on Palo Alto, catch up!,, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 24, 2010 at 8:56 am

"Also, the Weekly is biased in a disingenuous way toward portable digital devices. It costs a lot less to distribute a digital version of a newspaper, right, Bill?"

Last I checked, it also costs a lot less to distribute a digital version of a book, right, Commissioner?


Posted by Library Commissioner, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Come on Palo Alto:
"Last I checked, it also costs a lot less to distribute a digital version of a book, right, Commissioner?"

For who? You completely miss the point, which was that *publishers*, including the Weekly, *want* to push the digital horizon because it saves THEM money. It doesn't save the *consumer* money - it only adds convenience.

You certainly don't mean the *consumer* who is required to have a portable device - at least - to view the material, right? How much does that cost the consumer? And please don't come back with the argument that a Kindle can hold hundreds of books. How many books does one read at one time.

I know people who have spent $1000+ on iTunes libraries and had their entire library wasted due to a lost device, or a blown device, or a file corruption.

Some may not worry about losing $600+ when they misplace their iPad, or $150 Kindle (the cheap one) but I would venture that most, do.

Stripping a library of books, in this day and age of increased personal austerity is just crazy. Why does it take more "room" in a library to distribute digital copies of a book? Why doesn't the interim library director understand that both eBooks and print can live side-by-side without making it a zero sum game,, with one or the other modality losing out (including patrons with a print preference, in this case, losing out)? Anyone who doesn't see this poor idea to cut back on print as a sly cost-saving measure that strips the library of the *most popular* modality (print), is naive, or living in techno la-la land.

There *will* come a day when eBooks are more popular than print, and portable devices approach the price of a book. That day is not in the near term; we're looking quite a way down the road.

And, btw, what happens when you lose your Kindle with all its book files, or your iPad - or the darned thing breaks?

Be careful what you wish for.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Library Commissioner clearly is not up to speed on iPads or iPods--there is a complete back up of the device on your computer. Clearly he is invoking scare tactics to get people to support 20th century, outdated libraries in Palo Alto.


Posted by Come on Palo Alto, catch up!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 24, 2010 at 3:29 pm

"For who? You completely miss the point, which was that *publishers*, including the Weekly, *want* to push the digital horizon because it saves THEM money. It doesn't save the *consumer* money - it only adds convenience."

It saves the library money. They don't need to stock the book and re-stock it on return or even get rid of the book after it gets ruined.
Library Commissioner clearly does not realize that lots of people have the device already and are using it for non-library purposes.

"I know people who have spent $1000+ on iTunes libraries and had their entire library wasted due to a lost device, or a blown device, or a file corruption."
No you don't. You can re-download all content that you've previously purchased. It's not the same as when when you buy a physical book and lose it.
Amazing stuff, computers, they remember who you are and what you've bought. You should try them one day.


Posted by Library Commissioner, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm

"Library Commissioner clearly does not realize that lots of people have the device already and are using it for non-library purposes. "

Really? What's the penetration of REALLY portable devices like iPads. Evenn on college campuses it's only about 5-6% - and that's at the most expensive schools. Students are not taking them up, even though most textbooks are available in eBook format.

As for iTunes loss - yes, you can lose your iTunes collection IF you don't back it up. I know three people this has happened to. You are only permitted to transfer files to a limited number of computers.

Also, what does it cost to maintain eBook infrastructure, vs. physical book infrastructure? Numbers, please. Please include the opportunity cost to citizens who need information but are unable to access it because they don't have a REALLY portable device handy. Try reading an eBook on the beach, on your laptop, or snuggled up in bed.

Last, every single stat or prognostication about the demise of paper books that I've seen here - presented by the Weekly, and a few people who have proved their mettle as anti-library advocates via their historical antagonism to library bonds - is wrong, and not accurate.

I would urge City Council members to consider who is trying to eliminate paper books from our libraries, and then take a look at their historical stance re: libraries in Palo Alto - over years. That alone should tell you what the subtext is to these crazy ideas about limiting paper books.

When you can buy a tablet with the power of an iPad at Walgreens, shrink-wrapped, for $10, THEN we'll be in a place where we can start to look at alternatives to paper (assuming new technologies that embed silicon in paper haven't co-opted eBooks by then!).


Posted by Come on Palo Alto, catch up!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm

"Really? What's the penetration of REALLY portable devices like iPads. Evenn on college campuses it's only about 5-6% - and that's at the most expensive schools. Students are not taking them up, even though most textbooks are available in eBook format."

On campus? Around 100%. You seem to forget that you can read them on a computer as much as an iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader, ....

"Also, what does it cost to maintain eBook infrastructure, vs. physical book infrastructure?"
It's all there now! Overview combined with Bluefire. Palo Alto libararies already support it. We just need to beef it up from it's current 1700 odd titles.

"As for iTunes loss - yes, you can lose your iTunes collection IF you don't back it up. "
No you can't. You can download it onto any number of devices, the limit is only for the number of concurrent devices. If you sell a machine, you simply de-register it and register another one and download everything again. That's if you don't transfer your library manually. If they ripped stuff then, yes, they'd lose unless they had the original. But they shouldn't have been copying stuff they didn't own in the first place. Says a lot about the people you know.

"Try reading an eBook on the beach, on your laptop, or snuggled up in bed."

That's what they are designed for!

Really, for a library commissioner, you've got no idea what you're talking about.



Posted by Pria Lytle Fletcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Library Commisioner clearly does not know whathe is atlking about when it comes to high tech equipment.
now he states:
"As for iTunes loss - yes, you can lose your iTunes collection IF you don't back it up. I know three people this has happened to. You are only permitted to transfer files to a limited number of computers."

First he states that you can lose your ipod/iPad/Kindle. Now he says that you can lose if you do not back it up. Wellm he should know that when you sync your device it automatically backs it up on the computer--lose your ipod buy a new one and everything is on your computer, computer crashes, everything will be restored to your computer at the next sync.
I am sure that LC is not really a LC and would prefer our libraries to have only books nad newspapers that are read by candlelight


Posted by Library Commissioner, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Come on Palo Alto: relating to penetration of iPads on Campus - COPA says...
"On campus? Around 100%. You seem to forget that you can read them on a computer as much as an iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader, ...."

About iTunes viability re: lost files, you said "You can download it onto any number of devices, the limit is only for the number of concurrent devices. If you sell a machine, you simply de-register it and register another one and download everything again. That's if you don't transfer your library manually. If they ripped stuff then, yes, they'd lose unless they had the original."

Yes, two of these people had coincidental multiple device failures; one had failed to back up her machine - and there went her investment. Another had his briefcase stolen, with MacBook and iPod - ta-ta investment. That aside, the point is that it it NOT more convenient, or cheaper - either for the institution or the patron - to loose access to hard media (books, CD's, DVD's) in place of stremed or downloadable digital media. Currently, the cost of hardware, and the insanely complex nature of iTunes (just look at the updates, etc. etc - and all the stuff you need to keep track of, compared straightforward use of hard media.

Next: read this: Web Link There are reams more data about actual purchase and USE of these devices as replacements for print. Yes, we are going to see an uptake, but it's not here, yet, AND let's see what happens when more of the 35 tablets projected for introduction to the market (most, Flash-based) drop into the tablet retail channel. Tablet penetration is clearly NOT 100%, or even 10% of that number - like I said, go to channel source research and see what people are actually DOING with their money, instead of *saying* they will do. Soon, many colleges will use tablets, but they will be distributed by the college, NOT made as a choice by the student.

Next, concurrent use of iTunes files - yes, you can share, but you can share on a limited number of concurrent devices, and you CANNOT trade files. Why not? I bought it, why can't i resell it, in limited numbers, or trade it? I can borrow a library CD and let my friends listen to a file that I've burned from the disk, or let a friend borrow the CD, or tell her about it, so she can borrow it. iTunes? You have to pony up.


Next, let's consider working with a simple piece of plastic, called a CD, that one can listen to in a CD player that lives on a computer or as a remote device in one's car or living room - let's compare that with iTunes Web Link. Now, granted, iTunes made it possible to access individual audio files for less than one could buy a CD for, but what did that cost the consumer? Hmmm, let's see - first a computer - anywhere from $600 for a flimsy Dell, to $2500+ for a top line Mac. Then, maybe a iPod and/or iPad, or even an iTouch - so another another $400-$1500. So you've got skin in the game for $1000- $4000 *before* you start buying inferior quality Mp3's - you know, the files that don't let you hear the full dynamic range of a piece of music, and the files that are now ordinarily compressed UP, so the entire dynamic range of the piece is distorted. So where do i go to hear the music as it was recorded, at full fidelity? Either I buy the CD, or I go to a LIBRARY. Does that describe egalitarian public access to culture, to you? Maybe you're rich, but most people aren't. Sorry you lost your battle for the Library Bond, and all the distorted lies that were put out there failed, but there is no "back door" out there for you to have your way, now. This whole "let's get rid of bookmbecgause eBooks are replacing paper" is not only wrong (read the stats, and the deception in Amazon's numbers - c'mon, do it!), but in fact print use is *increasing* along with digital use!! So, why should we limit print and force people to buy devices. Heck, the iPad doesn't even do Flash!

Then, consider the constant upgrades, in terms of personal time, lost data, frustration, blown machines, lost machines, etc. etc.

And this statement: "It's all there now! Overview combined with Bluefire. Palo Alto libararies already support it. We just need to beef it up from it's current 1700 odd titles." Do you have any idea what the cost is to maintain the constant updating of this infrastructure; dealing with upgrades; hardward incompatabilities; rescoring licenses; risk from lawsuits of someone cracks DRM and widely distributes; etc. etc. etc. Again, the picture os a pretty one as long as one maintains the blank stare of a technonapped (as in kidnapped) mind - where one has inculcated every little bit of hype proffered by Apple, MSFT, the newspaper industry, etc. etc.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

FoPAL: keep up the good fight, and don't let library haters get their way. Public libraries are *defined* by enabling UNIVERSAL access. Until EVERYONE has access to a $10 shrink-wrapper iPad-like device at Walgreens, don't for one minute let this group anti-library-tecnoids gaiin a foothold. They will, I'm afraid, continue to persist - probably aided and abetted by the local newspapers, who themselves want to push digital readers into every household, because it will help increase their page view numbers and ad rates.

Good luck out there. Go! YOU PUBLIC LIBRARY. GO PRINT BOOKS. GO eBOOKs. Go! UNIVERSAL access to data, without the need for someone to make a hardware investment to gain exposure to the things that their tax dollars support.


Posted by Pria Lytle Fletcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2010 at 7:35 am

"Yes, two of these people had coincidental multiple device failures; one had failed to back up her machine - and there went her investment. Another had his briefcase stolen, with MacBook and iPod - ta-ta investment."
LC continues to post fantasy events that happened to fantasy people--we all know that an iPod is automatically backed up when you hook it up to your computer.
LC also forgets a recent event--the fire at the Friends tariler--bye bye book sin that event. Nothing really uniques about disasters causing loss of property.

"FoPAL: keep up the good fight, and don't let library haters get their way."
I see we have a new term--if you do not agree with FOPAL or LV you are a "library hater"--so according to LC there is only one direction for the library--his.

"Returning to the BASIC point of my response. One has only to look at the individuals on this thread who favor reducing books in libraries, and then looking at their history of blatant distortion of facts and figures re: public libraries;"
How does LC know who these people are? How does he know their "history". What facts and figures is he referring to?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by come on Palo Alto, catch up!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 25, 2010 at 8:27 am

Library Commissioner, wow, you really have no idea about the current state of technology. Astounding!


Posted by Library Commissioner, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 25, 2010 at 10:08 am

Palo Alto, Catch up! says "Library Commissioner, wow, you really have no idea about the current state of technology. Astounding!"


Palo Alto, catch up!, wow, *you* really have non idea about the opportunity costs implicit in too-rapid adoptions ofo technology within vernacular public service systems that *work*, like public libraries. Even more astounding.


Pria says: ""Returning to the BASIC point of my response. One has only to look at the individuals on this thread who favor reducing books in libraries, and then looking at their history of blatant distortion of facts and figures re: public libraries;"

"How does LC know who these people are?"

Without getting into names, simply take a look at the most ardent promoters of this "let's do away with paper books" nonsense, and measure that against their prior stances, here, in this forum (with the same sigs), re: support for the library bond. Again, one needs to take the time to do accurate research - something sorely lacking in those who think eBooks should shove printed books out of libraries *at this time* (or in near-long-term).

and "LC also forgets a recent event--the fire at the Friends tariler (sic) --bye bye book sin (sic) that event. Nothing really uniques (sic) about disasters causing loss of property."

How about the thousands of eReaders that break every day, each loaded with often thousands of book files.

As for eBooks and eMusic in iTunes, compared to simply going to the library to borrow another book after you've lost it, compare the *unreal* complexity offered up in answers to common iTunes conundrums in this Google search Web Link

Seriously, it's hard to make this complexity up! And, this is a solution that beats current availability of hard media in public libraries? You have got to be kidding me!




Posted by come on Palo Alto, catch up!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 25, 2010 at 10:36 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Funny if it weren't so sad, a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 25, 2010 at 10:39 am

This kind of hyperbolic, vitriolic debate, so typical of anything to do with PA libraries, would be funny if it weren't so sad. As a result, our rich, literate community has just about the worst libraries anywhere. Go to the Los Altos library sometime, run by the Santa Clara County system, and you'll leave shaking your head on how they can have space, light, air conditioning, tons of books, movies, music, computers, etc. in nice modern buildings with lots of staff, at lower cost than our sad offerings. This kind of red herring argument -- all ebooks! no ebooks! 5 branches! no branches! -- is what we expend our energy on, when in the meantime, with no drama whatsoever, others just build, run, and enjoy their libraries.

The fault is not in our libraries, but in ourselves. Thankfully, Los Altos libraries are nearby and anyone can borrow. We gave up on PA libraries long ago.


Posted by Pria lytle fletcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm

LC continues to amuse. He talks about thousands of e readers that break everyday!!!! Really?? The he talks again about a group
Of phantom people whom he refuses to identify that he claims are against the library. Pretty sure that his comments cannot be taken seriously


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 25, 2010 at 4:19 pm

DOes anyone really believe that thousands of e-readers break every day, as Library Commissioner claims???
I remember back during the bond campaign, there was a person who posted under different names (this was before the Weekly banned that practice), singing the praises of our 5 outdate libraries. I think that person is back.

I would also like to know who these people that Library Commissioner claims want to do away with books. He claims that they post on this forum. Let's see some facts.


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