Panel tonight on future libraries: books vs. tech?

Panelists to share visions of what the library of tomorrow design should look like today

A Palo Alto forum tonight on community libraries of the future has suffered from some old-fashioned scheduling problems: Two panelists could not make it at the last minute and scrambled for substitutes. A fourth panelist also has been added.

Two highly credentialed substitutes stepped in to replace the absent panelists for the "Forum on Technology and Community Libraries," scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. tonight in the Palo Alto Art Center auditorium, 1313 Newell Road (at Embarcadero Road). The free public forum is sponsored by the Library Advisory Commission and the Palo Alto City Library.

"Visionary leaders from the technology and library worlds will provide perspectives on current an imminent technology trends, offering insight into what these trends mean for public libraries," Library Director Diane Jennings said of the forum.

The one original panelist is Sandra Hirsh, a Palo Alto resident who once chaired the city's Library Advisory Commission but who now is the recently appointed director of School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. She earlier worked for Microsoft and Hewlett Packard. At Microsoft she led a team of designers and researchers focusing on user experiences with new technologies, especially in a mobile environment. At HP she directed the Information Research Program at HP Labs and managed a "Surveying the Digital Future" project.

The added panelist is Kathy Page of Page & Moris library building consultants of San Francisco. For the past 14 years, Page has worked on designing and redesigning libraries throughout California and in other states -- including the recent renovation and expansion of the Berkeley Public Library's four branches and a building program for Santa Clara's new Northside Library. She worked for 25 years as a public librarian prior to becoming a consultant. She received a B.A. degree from Stanford University in 1971 and a master's degree in library science from the University of California , Berkeley, in 1972.

One of the replacement panelists is Paula McKinnon, information systems manager and "virtual library" team manager for the Contra Costa County Library, has 17 years experience developing and managing "usable, content-rich websites, information portals and library systems." From 1993 to 2006 she was a regular contributor to Information Highways, Canada's leading magazine for e-content professionals, and has an upcoming article in Library HiTech News. In 1996 she was profiled in Information Today's "Secrets of the Super Net Searchers" article, in which author Reva Basch called her "one of 35 of the world's top Internet researchers." She replaces Cathy Sanford, also of Contra Costa Library.

The second replacement panelist is Don Clancy, engineering director for Google Book Search and a longtime technologist and computer scientist. He is former director of the Exploration Technologies Directorate at NASA Ames Research Center. He joined Google in 2005. At Google, he played a leading role in a class-action settlement in October 2009 in a copyright lawsuit by authors and publishers. He has a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence from the University of Texas at Austin. He received a B.A. in computer science and theater from Duke University in 1985.

The panel will be moderated by Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson, who has written about or participated in community library discussions in Palo Alto since the mid-1960s.

There will be time for questions and comments from the audience.

-- Palo Alto Online staff

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Like this comment
Posted by Say-Good-Night-Mr.-Guttenberg
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm

It's no surprise that people are dropping out of this event --

Web Link

Report: Apple may launch newspaper, magazine subscriptions for iPad in next month or two

September 21, 2010 — 6:26am ET | By Jim O'Neill

Apple's success with iTunes, and more recently iBooks, is prompting newspaper and magazine publishers to take a harder look at a rumored iPad subscription service.

The New York Times said the service, which Apple has declined to discuss publicly, would give publishers access to the company's 160 million Apple account holders, a market that potentially could reverse the revenue and circulation slide many have been unable to stop.

Anyone in the industry is too busy building products and cutting deals, that sitting around listening to a bunch of "book people" whine about "it's not paper" isn't worth their time.

Web Link

EC Media, who launched the Wink eReader in India earlier this month, already has plans for its next model. The new Wink XTS model will be smaller and cheaper.

The iPad has really changed the game, with several vendors moving quickly to fill the hardware/software voids in the current Apple product. Apple will no doubt offer a new version twice a year from now own.

Even the Weekly has an iPad App now:
Web Link

The future came upon us very quickly, it would seem.

Guttenberg had a good run .. now it's time to turn the page to a very different future.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Andrew Carnegie, that great entrepreneur and philanthropist, once said, "There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library." Libraries are not luxuries, and their closure wherever they still serve a population that needs them, is not an option. ...

The populations they serve are already too vulnerable to abandon when the going gets tough. And despite what many who can afford home access to the internet and for whom a trip to the local bookstore has replaced dropping by the library believe, the role of libraries will become more, not less vital in a future where much of the knowledge we have access to in them now is sequestered behind pay walls. The digital divide aligns with the income divide. The folks who most need access to what public libraries can provide are obviously those who are most vulnerable to branch closure.

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Resident - libraries a vital places in our community, but I still think it is foolish to stock and staff so many branches. Access to research tools, the internet and computers are important, but should we really have so many traditional libraries? Closing or altering the use of some of the branches - particularly Downtown and College Terrace - would seem to be a better use of resources than a full service library at those sites. Less stacks of books, more room for tables, computers, etc.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2010 at 3:34 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Let the collectors have books. A library should have all public domain works available for download. Some deal like iTunes should be made for books still under copyright, and the service made available to coffee shops and any other community center with room enough for a few readers.
The $10 lap pad is here. Forward [back] to the penny dreadful and the dime novel.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2010 at 11:43 am

As long as Palo Alto can hang on to its residential neighborhoods and diverse community, our branch libraries are a blessing. All people can walk/ride to them - young children, moms, rich and poor, handicapped, students. We don't need massive increases of books at each branch. Expensive books can be requested for pickup at a branch nearby. If our elected officials had budgeted for their upkeep, we would not now be having to pay for catch-up repairs.

If we want to save money, how about taking out the list of recommendations our previous city auditor gave to the city council and implementing them.

Like this comment
Posted by Another Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I beg to differ from the opinion of my namesake above.

I think that the future of our libraries is one (plus children's) library with a comprehensive, up to date, collection of materials in one building. A library is not the same as a community center and we can still have community centers around the city with various programs and internet facilities, but the materials do not have to be duplicated and librarians can work with the materials while other professionals can man the programs in the various community centers.

Most of us nowadays do not wander up and down the aisles to choose our reading material. We do that at home, using the catalog, and put a hold on what we want to borrow. When we receive the notification that it is available, we then visit the library amongst our list of errands and pick up the materials. When we need help from a librarian, we do that at the same time.

Print material will remain with us for a long time to come - even in this technological age. Beaches, swimming pools, camping trips, planes, hospitals are all among the places where a kindle type of device is not the most practical. The same can be said for internet materials.

I still advocate that we do not need 5 libraries in Palo Alto. A checkout/dropoff desk in community centers with internet facilities and other programs in place of downtown/college terrace and either main or mitchell park, makes much more sense and would save money for this cash strapped city.

How about a write-up on the meeting, PAW?

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Another resident - I totally agree with you. 5 libraries is a waste of our scarce resources and a vestige of the past - not the future. But we have many vocal advocates of the branch system who are stuck in the past, when we did spend lots of time strolling up and down the stacks to find our books (perhaps some of the same stuck in the past vocal residents who are not willing to see the benefits of the compost proposal...)

Like this comment
Posted by Everyone's a mom
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Mom, your views would make sense if they were based in reality. The smaller branches are not full service libraries.There are no credentialed librarians there and the days and hours are greatly reduced.
If nobody used them your point would be valid, but perhaps a trip to one or both of those small branches would enlighten you. Lots of people uses those branches.
As for the composting mess, it is being proposed by the same person/people who brought us the Third Farmers Market in town, on Wednesday afternoons. Bet you haven't been there either. Few people have.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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