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Above the Fold

A weekly newsletter for the changing world of libraries, archives and museums

May 28, 2010
Vol. 3, No. 18
ISSN: 1943-1457

In this issue:


The Key to Spotting Disruption Before It Happens  (External site)

Harvard Business Review   •  May 4, 2010

Behind the numbers. Numbers don't tell the whole story, says innovation expert Scott Anthony, who points out that although the U.S. Postal Service experienced a reassuringly steady mail volume during the years 2000-2006, managers failed to look at volume as a share of the market, where the agency was losing ground to competitors. The same story has been repeated in Kodak film sales and newspaper revenues, says Anthony: "In the early days of transformation, market leaders tend not to feel deep pain. The transformation takes root away from the mainstream, or in a seemingly non-connected market."

Short and to the point and absolutely germane to our circumstances. It put me in mind of the talk my friend Jerry McDonough of the University of Illinois' Graduate School of Library and Information Science gave back in 2007 showing the reference questions and circulation statistics per capita at the libraries that belong to the Association of Research Libraries. Those stats aren't flat. They should be even more frightening. A good summary of it is here. ( Michalko)


Keep It Simple  (External site)

The Scientist   •  May 2010

Storytelling 101. Biologist H. Steven Wiley says potential donor organizations don't really want to know all the details about your expenditures and funding needs—what they're looking for is a simple story line that they can understand and respond to. And while Wiley's experience involves boiling complex scientific data into the basic elements, his advice applies to everyone. "Creating a story for a particular audience is one of the most difficult tasks for anyone to learn. This is true for scientists and writers as well as any creative artist who tries to understand the complexity of the world and explain it to other people."

Worth contemplating as the story libraries have to tell about their value is getting ever more complex. It once was simple, palpable and universally understood whether you were an academic or public library. I suspect that's why so many of the current defenders of libraries particularly those outside the profession fall back on their childhood memories of libraries and librarians when they rise on our behalf. For a recent example featuring Neil Gaiman, try this: Neil Gaiman talks about his love of libraries. ( Michalko)


Obama vs. the iPad (Information Overload)  (External site)

Scott Berkun (blog)   •  May 12, 2010

Is information making us fat? No, but we're creating our own information overload just as surely as we're responsible for the extra pounds we pack on through unhealthy eating, says Scott Berkun. This rant is brief, but Berkun raises some good points about the choices we make daily in how we spend our time and attention quotient.

Stand admonished. He's right. You can choose how to direct your attention. I find the obesity analogy provocative but unsatisfying. So do many of the commentators on this blog entry. Be sure to scroll down and read them. ( Michalko)


In an Effort to Boost Reliability, Wikipedia Looks to Experts  (External site)

The Wall Street Journal   •  May 13, 2010

Smarter crowdsourcing. Wikipedia is teaming with universities in the hope that professors and their students can help spruce up coverage of complex public policy topics. The move follows an earlier collaboration with the National Institutes of Health to improve the veracity of health-related entries. This is a positive trend in Wikipedia's evolution to a more reliable source.

As one of the commentators mentions this is not new. Wikipedia has actively sought university and school projects to edit and update entries. Now if only we could get them to incorporate links to library resources . . . ( Michalko)


How to Make Reading Online Easier: Instapaper and Readability  (External site)

The Christian Science Monitor   •  May 13, 2010

Help for info junkies. Computer screens are hard on your eyes, so here are two ways to take some of the pain out of online reading: Readability cleans up the Web page you're viewing and allows you to dictate text size, margins and reading format (newspaper, novel, etc.). Instapaper allows you to bookmark Web pages for later reading and then retrieve them easily on your device of choice, including smartphone or Kindle.

You don't have to read this. It just tells you—as I have done many times—to make reading on the Web easy, bookmark Readability. Do it. Now. Actually you should have done it before you clicked on all the previous articles. ( Michalko)


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Above the Fold is a Web-based newsletter published by OCLC Research. It has been developed to serve a broad international readership from libraries, archives and museums. News items are supplied weekly under contract by Suzanne Douglas, Ibis Communications Inc. Research items are supplied by staff in OCLC Research. Please send comments and questions about this or other issues to rlg@oclc.org.
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