Promoting new books with video

It would seem that for some publishers the future of book promotion lies in video.

Steffi McBrideSo much for the film or TV series of the book, how about the dramatised promotional video of the book that has yet to be printed.

You can judge for youself by ‘viewing’ the forthcoming title from Blake Publishing. The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride is the memoir of a fictional young soap star who becomes a national icon to be published in September 2008.

“All Steffi’s dreams come true when she lands a starring part in the country’s biggest soap opera, has a number one Christmas single and wins a Bafta. The whole country falls in love with her, including the pop star she had a crush on all through her teenage years. But someone out there knows a secret about Steffi’s past and heartless media revelations blow apart everything she ever believed to be true about her family and about herself.”

It’s not quite my cup of tea, but I’m sure they have done their market research.

The British Library Basements

Easter is the busiest time of the year at the British Library (so be warned if you are expecting a quiet space to do your research). In order to help cope with the volume of requests for books from our capacious basements in St Pancras, staff volunteers are requested.

As a member of staff who rarely visits the basements this is an opportunity not to be missed. After all, the basements are the very foundation of the library, from both a physical and information perspective. The four double height basements containing the bulk of the library’s 15 million books stretch down to 75ft or 23m below ground level. The construction of these required digging the deepest hole ever seen in London. I could hear the nearby sounds of trains on the Northern and Victoria Lines when I was in basement 3.

I spent a fascinating couple of hours re-shelving books in the humanities modern section. However, my trolley contained a random selection of topics giving a revealing glimpse into the subjects being researched above ground, as well as the incredible breadth of knowledge stored below ground.

automatic_crate_conveyor_systemOne fact that often surprises visitors to the basements is that the books are not stored according to any classification system. Although the British Library has adopted the Dewey system in the Reading Rooms, this would not work in the basements. The explanation is simple enough – the sheer volume of new books (6 miles or 13 kilometres) each year means that they have to be added onto the end of the previous set in acquisition order. Any other would require constant shifting of the book stock to make room.

So, for instance if they were in alphabetical order by Title, the Z’s would slot nicely in at the end of the sequence but any new A’s would require moving the whole lot. This results in some vary odd pairings of books on the shelves. I re-shelved a book on Islamic terrorism literally cheek by jowl with a volume on right-wing Jewish politics.

The photos above come from a website Subterranea Britannica which has a detailed article on a visit to the basements.

Your views on digital copyright

The British Library is concerned that the shift from print to digital publishing is undermining the traditional balance at the heart of copyright and could make it harder for researchers to access and use information, and undermine innovation, research and heritage in the UK.

The Library made a significant contribution to the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, but now wants to hear your point of view. The results will be incorporated into the Library’s response to the UK Intellectual Property Office’s ‘digital exceptions’ consultation.

Please note, the questionnaire is open to UK residents only.

Here is a summary of The British Library’s Principles on Copyright Law:

1 Public Interest

Public interest policy formation must consider the impact on the creator, the citizen, the economy, the education system and our culture – for today, and for future generations to come.
2 Balance
Creativity, innovation and a democratic civil society requires copyright law to strike a balance between the private interest of the creator being recognised and remunerated for their work, and the interest of the citizen in ensuring access to information and ideas.
3 Digital is Not Different
Copyright law should enshrine the principles of creativity, access, recognition and remuneration as it always has done. Exceptions should apply to all formats including digital formats.
4 Law Aligned with Realities
Rationalisation and simplification of the law will lead to understanding and respect for copyright.
5 Technology Neutral
Copyright law must be informed by technological advances, but specific technologies should not be enshrined in law.

The librarian as sherpa

One of the earliest links to my blog was from Library Sherpa.

tensing-norgay.jpgThe reason Tracy, the creator of the blog chose the name made me wonder if this could be a good way of describing what librarians do in the modern age. I like the idea acting as someone’s Sherpa Tensing, navigating them through the treacherous world of information peaks and troughs.

“Why Library Sherpa?!
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a sherpa is defined as:
“A member of a traditionally Buddhist people of Tibetan descent living on the southern side of the Himalaya Mountains in Nepal and Sikkim. In modern times Sherpas have achieved world renown as expert guides on Himalayan mountaineering expeditions.”

I came up with the name as an homage to the indigenous people of the Himalayas, combined with my profession. The original intent for this blog was to be a forum for me to assist or guide people through the rocky terrain of the library and librarianship.”


Library of Congress storms Flickr

Matt Raymond at the Library of Congress has been posting excited posts on his blog about the impact of placing 3,100 images from their collection on Flickr. Below is a summary of the activity within two days of their page going live.

Photo from Library of Congress collection on Flickr • 392,000 views on the photostream
• 650,000 views of photos
• Adding in set and collection page views, there were about 1.1 million total views on our account
• All 3,100+ photos have been viewed
• 420 of the photos have comments
• 1,200 of the photos have been favorited

The British Library also has an amazing collection of images, so it would be great to see some of these appearing on Flickr as well.

Alice in Wonderland

Real Web 2.0 Benefits by Richard Wallis

One of my favorite presentations at the Online Information 2007 Conference was Real Web 2.0 Benefits by Richard Wallis Technology Evangelist at Talis.

He started with the most simple and yet comprehensive definition of Web 2.0 shown below.


In case you hadn’t worked it out from his slide, the answer is Web 2.0 applications are identifiable due to their ’round corners’.

He also ran through quite a few live internet demonstrations which is always a brave thing to do in front of the critical Online audience.

Finally he showed what has to be my current favourite library related video on YouTube. It shows a mediaeval monk getting assistance from his ‘help desk’ to overcome the  challenges presented by the brand new technology of the book from his trusted scroll.


An unexpected sight at Online Information 2007 Conference

I arrived rather late to one of the sessions at the Online Information 2007 Conference so stood at the back. I was somewhat surprised by this sight amongst the various bloggers and  ‘Twitterers’ in the audience. Even in these days of metrosexual men, the hairy arms (which are hard to make out in my blurry phone video) were unexpected.


Jimmy Wales talks Wikis at Online Information 2007

I am just starting to catch up from the week that was Online Information 2007 and will be creating a few blogs from my notes.

First of all was the keynote speech ‘Web 2.0 in action:free culture and community on the move’, from Jimmy Wales of the Wiki Foundation on Tuesday 4 December

Jimmy WalesWikipedia is a registered charity which cost $1 million in 2007 and forecasted to cost $2-3 million in 2008 which is amazing considering it is now the 8th most popular website in the world. Even in Iran it is the 14 most popular.

It has expanded to over two million articles in English, but has over six million in total.  It has 14,000 articles in Hindi. But when you consider that there are 280 million Hindi speakers, it still has a long way to go.

Jimmy said that Wikipedia will remain true to encyclopaedia base and not include articles which you would not expect to find in a general purpose publication.

Minority interests are covered through the development of Wikis such as the Muppet Wiki with 15,000 articles and Wookieepedia (yes, Star Wars is the topic here).

For me the big story is the development of Search Wiki – an open source search engine will all decisions in the public domain. Fast Company Magazine in the U.S. described it as “Google’s worst nightmare”

Can You Justify Why Your Library Shouldn’t Be Scrapped?

At the recent 2007 ADLG seminar Library Information Service Survival Guide, the most memorable speech was the first.

Steve Thornton, editor, Performance Measurement and Metrics, The international journal for Library and Information Services, gave a talk entitled Can You Justify Why Your Library Shouldn’t Be Scrapped?

He covered: adding value, making a case for the library, gathering evidence, identifying stakeholders and selling yourself.

However he didn’t pull any punches, particularly with his concluding comments:

“Start work on an active defence strategy NOW! If you sit back and wait to be slaughtered, you deserve everything you get.”

Steve Thornton