a.m. [ORG]

Thoughts from a Technology Librarian

Page 14 of 40

Backyard Astronomy: July’s Planet Lineup

Over the next several evenings you’ll have the opportunity to see several planets arranged in an almost perfect line, accompanied by the Moon and Regulus. Look west after sunset for this rare display!

via skyandtelescope.com

Starbucks’ Digital Network: A Challenge for Libraries?

Starbucks announced today on Twitter that as of July 1, 2010 wifi access would be free of charge at all locations via a one-click sign on. What else could be more appealing than relaxing in a comfy chair with your favorite beverage while easily (it’s one click, remember) logging onto the network to check email or your Facebook feed? But that’s not all. ReadWriteWeb is reporting that Starbucks has bigger plans for its digital network which includes providing access to paid content from the Wall Street Journal and other partners including the New York Times, Apple, USA Today, etc.

This clearly takes Starbucks into territory usually reserved for libraries: providing public access to subscription based electronic content either on-site or via proxy. This is a bold move by Starbucks which I’m sure they’re hoping will translate into increased sales as customers have longer visits or purposefully travel to their local cafe to access the “Starbucks network.”

Per this post’s title, I don’t see this as a challenge to libraries as much as a challenge for libraries. Clearly nothing can compete with the sheer amount of data/content/information we provide to our users. However while there are some libraries out there that can compete with the ambiance of a local Starbucks, I’ll venture to say most cannot. Also, what’s the percentage of public libraries that offer free wifi to their users? Again I’m going to guess that it’s in the minority but is slowly growing.

While most of our users have very specific reasons and needs for visiting their local public or campus library, others are simply seeking internet access. When does visiting Starbucks, or another business offering a similar service become “good enough,” especially if the amount of subscription content grows as it most likely will?

(Header image credit: pierofix)

Google Maps Landmark Change Update: Success!

For over a year now I’ve been contacting Google using the “Report a Problem” link in the lower-right corner on the Google Maps page regarding the placement of our library’s landmark. This effort began when we were redesigning our site and decided to include a Google Maps link on our homepage highlighting our location. First I edited our library’s entry to remove a link a local attorney added to our listing. After verifying that our entry’s information was correct I alerted Google that the official landmark (book icon with our library’s name) was in the wrong location. It was apparently based on our mailing address which is tied to a different building on campus, and yes community users have arrived at that building expecting to find the library. Instead of moving the landmark, they happily moved the pin over to the landmark! This process repeated itself three additional times over the course of the year until I came upon the solution. I took a screen shot of the map as it existed and edited it in Photoshop to identify what needed to be moved. I then uploaded the image to my website and sent the link instead of relying on an overly complex “Report a Problem” message. I waited a few weeks to see if anything had changed and was pleasantly (understatement) surprised to discover they did exactly what I asked! You can see our updated entry here. So, if you’re having similar issues (a few of you mentioned on Twitter that you are) try my idea. It works! Oh, and when contacting them I also alerted them that two local businesses’ icons appeared in our lake which they corrected as well. Thanks Google Maps team!

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