Friday, March 30, 2012

Upcoming OCLC Seminar on Virtual Reference

Making the Case for Virtual Reference in Tough Times

It’s no secret that libraries everywhere are making difficult choices due to the current economy.  Newer programs, like virtual reference, are often the first to face the chopping block.  Making the case for funding virtual reference might be easier than you think.

Susan McGlamery works with libraries on a regular basis as they secure funding for OCLC’s QuestionPoint service. In addition you’ll hear from Cathay Crosby, Statewide Coordinator for Ask a Librarian Delaware;  Liz Barksdale of Ask New Texas;  and Jaclyn McKewan of AskUs247 and Western New York Library Resources Council.  Hear what has an impact on funders and learn what features of a virtual reference service are most valuable to your community.

“Virtual Reference in Tough Times” is the next in the Best Practices in Virtual Reference series. Each session is a free, hour-long webinar available to all and highlighting some of the benefits of working collectively with others in your group.

 Despite the best advocacy, paying for virtual reference still may not make the cut. Explore what free options you have and hear how they’ve worked for those already using the service. Know what you really need to have in a virtual reference service to make it work for your community.

Virtual Reference in Tough Times
April 24, 2012
1:00pm  – 2:00pm Eastern

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Have Server Will Lend (an eBook Journey Update)

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, so that I may learn how to do it." - Pablo Picasso.

The Picasso quote above is our outlook here at Califa.  We don't exactly know how to lend ebooks right now.  We're figuring it out, and then we'll know how to do it.  If we waited until we knew how to do it before we started, something new will have popped up, and we'd already be behind.  We're talking with those who have already gone down this path, and taking as much knowledge as we can from them.  Pretty soon, we'll have a good idea of what to do.

I'm fairly certain that what we will have in two or five years will look much different than what we start with.  But if you're going to have something to work on, you need to at least have something to start with.  That something is what we're setting up now.  We will tweak, experiment, and adjust the model based on the needs of both our member libraries, and the publishers with whom we work.

This week we purchased the Adobe Content Server, which is the software that hosts the epub files, and lets you add in the digital rights management.  Adobe doesn't sell it directly, and there are two resellers:

Datalogics Incorporated
Here are some links about the Adobe Content Server from Datalogics, which is where we bought ours.

Supported Devices

The software we purchased includes: 
  • eBook Authoring Support – support for both PDF and EPUB files formats in authoring software including Acrobat, Adobe InDesign and other areas like XSLT transfer scripts, EPUB validation tools etc. (
  • Reader Mobile 9 SDK – this is a source code SDK which allows device manufacturers and eBook reading software to render PDF and EPUB and supports Adobe Content Server 4 encryption (
Pricing for Content Server is:
USD $10,000 upfront fee (includes support/maintenance/upgrades and access to Adobe Digital Signing Service for one year)
USD $1500 annual maintenance renewal fee after the first year
USD $.22 per signed license for permanent transactions (non-expiring - ie a purchase)
USD $.08 per signed license for expiring transactions (expiring between 0 and 60 days)

Once we have the software, we need a place to host it.  We're going with (mainly because they come so highly recommended from some of our partner organizations, and their customer support borders on legendary).  Rackspace hosting is sliding scale depending on the amount of data we use.  We can start off small, and move up as we need to.

Once we have the server up and running, we'll still need content to put on it, and we'll need a front end discovery layer.  The content I'm not too worried about.  Every day I get emails from small-press and independent publishers who are willing and happy to work with us.  And they have good stuff!  Since I'm willing to bet that we won't have the bestseller titles from the Big 6 to start with, I'd like to create some "if you like this, you'll love that" types of lists for people to find new authors.  Perhaps some of our member libraries will want to volunteer to create something, or maybe it already exists in an open source app that could be integrated.

One note for those of you who are going to do this yourself: talk to the people who have already done it so you don't duplicate efforts.  Jordana Vincent at Douglas County was enormously helpful and forthcoming when she sent me a list of the publishers with whom they have spoken, as well as the notes about them.  You don't need to start from scratch anymore.

I'll be going to BEA to speak with publishers in June, and we'll hopefully get a lot more on board after that.  But to start with, we should have plenty to get a basic collection off the ground.

The discovery layer is a bit trickier since we're planning for a group dynamic.  We have several companies working on quotes for us, and are also looking at consultants who could who could implement the already-existing open source programs for groups.

Over the next week we will get the ACS software installed at Rackspace (Datalogics does free installation, which is one reason I chose them), and focus on the front end discovery layer.  More next week!

Monday, March 26, 2012

National Geographic Archive from Gale

I'm a huge fan of National Geographic, so I'm excited about this new product from Gale:  the National Geographic Magazine Archive 1888-1994.  Califa will have discounted pricing on this database until June 15: a 25% discount for all who come in before then.

Here's a flyer:

The archive is fully searchable, and includes every page and every photo.

Email me for a quote if you're interested, and stay tuned for more webinar announcements and details.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Califa eBook Journey: Introduction

Many of our members will have already seen this article about how we are starting an eBook program.  I will admit that it's a little scary, having everyone know what our plans are, because now we need to deliver!

I am going to start blogging about what I am affectionately calling our eBook Journey so that other libraries who are starting the process will be able to track our progress, from start to finish, and see what they can expect.

Califa has been working with eBooks since our inception.  We have a contract with OverDrive for a shared collection from 2004 (we subsequently ended that relationship in 2008).  We have a NetLibrary collection that goes back over ten years.  We have a shared Safari collection.  We worked with Ingram's MyiLibrary.  One of our member libraries, Pasadena, is piloting the 3M Cloud Library, in part using funds provided by Califa.  In short, we've been around the eBook block a time or two, and we are intimately familiar with the pros and cons of the current models.

And don't get me wrong - there are a lot of pros to using a vendor like 3M.  We want to work with 3M to secure discounts for our members.  And Baker and Taylor.  Just this morning I had a call with Bilbary about how we can implement a group model for their purchase and rental eBooks.  Just because we also want to do something on our own doesn't mean that we are giving up on vendors.

But in an area as important as eBooks, there has to be a balance.  As those folks who have implemented an open source ILS know, there is a certain beauty to being able to control your destiny; to being able to work on changes you want to see immediately, and not have to wait for your request to come up in a vendor's development queue.

eBook purchasing has grown exponentially over the past few years.  Some publishers are freaking out, some are embracing the new technologies. Some authors are freaking out, and some are embracing it.  Bestsellers now sell more eBook copies than physical ones.  And as any reference librarian will know, after each holiday season, more and more patrons come into the library wanting to know what they can put on their new gadgets.

For a while we've had options from vendors like OverDrive and Recorded Books.  And they have had, and are continuing to serve, a big role.  But in the same way that libraries do not rent shelving and physical books to put on the shelves; as electronic reading becomes the way a majority of "books" are consumed, libraries will need to devise a way to have ownership of both their platform (ie the building and shelving) as well as the content.

So Califa is embarking on a journey of creating our own eBook platform and collection, with the goal of opening it up to all members on a pay-to-play basis, but with ownership of the content and platform residing solely with the Consortium.  Yes, we will still need to "rent" some content for now.  But there is plenty of great material out there from publishers who are willing to sell to libraries, that we think we can have a great majority of the collection be owned, not leased.

A couple of principles are guiding our development.

1)  What we do needs to be able to be scaled, and our development needs to benefit all our members.  There will come a time in the future when libraries will want to own their own content server and have their own locally-owned standalone collections.  We can see the day when the adobe content server comes down enough in price, and enough libraries are doing this, that most libraries will want to do it for themselves.  So we are keeping that in mind as we build this platform.  Though there will always be a need for shared platforms and collections (many libraries just won't have the manpower to maintain a server, no matter how cheap it is).

2)  Content doesn't have to be fancy.  I have a philosophical difference with the people who are anxious to get at the Big 6.  There is a perception that that's the only thing patrons want right now, but I think that these tech-savvy patrons are used to getting the special offers from Amazon of 99 cent eBooks already, and are used to taking a chance on new authors.  Additionally, the price of eBooks will most likely keep going down.  The agency price model is under attack both here and in the European courts, and there may come a day when that disappears all together.  Add to that the recent rise of many self-published authors to the bestseller lists (ie Erin Morgenstern) and many established authors saying they are going to self-publish in the future, and my guess is that, over time, there will be more compelling reasons to work with independent publishers.  In a world where content is cheap (or free) and everyone and their mother has a novel out (hey, I do it too - I'm a proud NaNoWriMo-er), there is a huge role for libraries in discovery, in growing avid readers and helping people find new favorite authors.  The collection we envision is made up of great independent authors and publishers, who are willing to work with libraries.  Additionally, as we show the viability of a model like this, the Big 6 might recognize that it's in their interest to work with libraries (I mean, we do pay for the books we buy, after all).

3) We want to experiment.  The idea of simply replicating a physical world in a digital environment is what publishers are comfortable with right now, so that's what we'll do (ie, one book-one checkout).  But here's the thing.  It's a file.  It's not a real object.  If we really want to take advantage of the possibilities of the new technologies, we will embrace this, and recognize that, with files, there doesn't need to be a holds list.  With files, there can be immediate access.  Yes, rights need to be protected.  It's in all our interests to ensure that authors get paid for their work.  But just as there is lots of exciting work going on in the music industry by people who are embracing the excitement of the entire picture of what's possible (like Bjork, just as one example), we want to be there to help shape what's possible with books and reading.  The independent publishers are probably the ones most able to experiment, and that's another reason we want to work with them.

Those are the three guiding principles that we are using to shape this project.

Where we stand now:

- We are currently finding the technical people who will be able to build this platform.  We are open to working with libraries, vendors, consultants, etc.  There are a few who are in the process of making proposals, and we got a lot of great leads at PLA last week.

- We have several publishers who are all ready to sell us content including Dzanc.  I've talked with the Publishers Association of Los Angeles, the Independent Book Publishers Association, and the Independent Publishers Group, and they are open to working with us.  Jamie LaRue of Douglas County has shared his list of publishers who work with them, and I will be following up with all of them.  We are using Jamie's Publisher Letters (which he graciously posted on his blog) to formalize agreements.  Mary Minow is helping us on this front as well.  Reaching out to the publishers and representative groups was easy.  I simply googled Independent Publishers California, for example, to find the PALA folks, and wrote to their President.  I got a response a day later.  Independent publishers want new outlets for their writers, and are anxious to work with us.  As time goes on and we formalize agreements, I will post the list of publishers for others who might want to contact them.

- The goal is to have a (very basic) prototype to show at ALA in Anaheim, with some content that we will put on just for the sake of demonstration.  We will continue developing it, and start sharing it with our member libraries and begin collecting money from those who want to participate in it.  Hopefully by the start of 2013, we can have a full-fledged collection that is ready for patron use.

So that's what's going on, and where things stand right now.  I will keep updating at least once a week as we go along.  It's an exciting time for us, and I want to make sure it's documented, both for our reference as well as others who want to go down this path.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

CLA News from the Dillons

March 5, 2012


FROM:           Mike Dillon, CLA Lobbyist
                        Christina DiCaro, CLA Lobbyist

RE:                 News From the Capitol


The Senate and Assembly Budget Committees have each held a general overview hearing of the Governor’s January Budget, and in the coming weeks they will be breaking up into Budget Subcommittees, in order to examine particular Budget subject matters more thoroughly.  For example, issues pertaining to the State Library and public library funding will be reviewed by the Senate Budget Subcommittee Number One on Education Finance and the Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number Two on Education Finance. 

Subcommittee hearings regarding the library funding issues have now been officially set in each house and CLA members are being asked to begin the process of writing or calling 8 very important legislators to request their support.  In fact, without the support of the eight legislators listed at the end of this report, it is very unlikely that we will have any success in restoring library funding in this year’s Budget.  Thus, your early participation in this grass roots advocacy effort is critical! 

Please send letters, requesting the subcommittees restore $15.2 million in combined funding for the California Library Services Act, the state literacy program, and the Public Library Foundation. The Budget “trigger” that went into effect in January 2012, has completely eliminated all state-sponsored funding for public libraries.

As is the typical process, each house’s subcommittee will make recommendations to the full Budget Committees in each house.  Where there is a difference between the actions of the two houses, the powerful Budget Conference Committee will attempt to reconcile the differences when they convene in early June.  As you can see, the first step – the subcommittee level – is the most critical.  All but one of the eight legislators sat on the subcommittees last year and are very familiar with this issue (Senator Ted Gaines is the only new addition to the subcommittee), but they all need to hear from you in order to elevate this issue once again.  The Senate will hear our library issues on April 19 and the Assembly will follow with a hearing on May 2.

In your letters, please note issues such as the following :

1)     California would be one of the largest states that would receive no state-sponsored funding.
2)    Approximately $16 million in federal funds will be in jeopardy if California does not show a financial commitment to its public libraries.
3)    The collaborative loaning and lending program that exists between regions throughout California would likely cease to exist in many areas.
4)    Some libraries are already charging upwards of $80 to $100 for non-resident library cards and a lack of state funding will likely add to that unfortunate trend.
5)    20,000 literacy learners annually receive services from public libraries.  These adult learners would go without critical services, and as of this writing, 3,000 more adults are on a “waiting list.”
6)    Library attendance and usage is at an all-time high.  Libraries are providing invaluable resources for those who are looking for work, going to school, learning a new skill, or encouraging reading of youth.
7)    As always, your personal, local anecdotes are best and most compelling.

These two Budget subcommittees have jurisdiction over library funding issues at the State Capitol.  You may contact these members via mail or fax.

Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance
Hearing date:  Thursday, April 19 – 9:30 a.m. or upon adjournment of Senate Floor, Room 3191

Senator Carol Liu, Chair
Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance
State Capitol, Room 5061
Sacramento, CA.  95814
Fax:  (916) 324-7543

Senator Ted Gaines (*) 
Member, Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance
State Capitol, Room 3060
Sacramento, CA.  95814
Fax:  (916) 324-2680

Senator Rod Wright
Member, Senate Budget Subcommittee Number 1 on Education Finance
State Capitol, Room 5064
Sacramento, CA.  95814
Fax:  (916) 445-3712

(*) – New member, replaces Senate Republican Leader, Bob Huff

Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance
Hearing date:  Wednesday, May 2 – 4 p.m. in Room 126

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, Chair
Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance
State Capitol, Room 2188
Sacramento, CA.  95814
Fax:  (916) 319-2111

Assemblyman Bill Berryhill
Member, Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance
State Capitol, Room 3141
Sacramento, CA.  95814
Fax:  (916) 319-2126

Assemblywoman Julia Brownley
Member, Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance
State Capitol, Room 2163
Sacramento, CA.  95814
Fax:  (916) 319-2141                                                                                              

Assemblyman Brian Nestande
Member, Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance
State Capitol, Room 4139
Sacramento, CA.  95814
Fax:  (916) 319-2164

Assemblyman Sandre Swanson
Member, Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 2 on Education Finance
State Capitol, Room 6012
Sacramento, CA.  95814
Fax:  (916) 319-2116