On Saturday, I heard a Weekend America program that discussed the NEA report on the decline of reading. In reality, we do not know if there is a decline in reading as a whole, since the NEA study focuses on reading of literature, and with strict definition of literature no less. From what they discussed on the program, very little of my reading would count in the NEA study. Most of the classic literature I have read was while I was in school, and reading done as a part of formal education does not count in the study. (I have little interest in the genre, unless my course grade is at stake.) The program sent a reporter out to interview readers in a city bookstore and used some of those interviews to illustrate the failings of the NEA study. The reporter also spoke with the founder of an internet media company that runs several prominent blogs. This blogger reads 250 blogs a day, which floored the interviewer and host. The interviewer explained the concept of RSS and how it allows the blogger to manage the information flow.
The blogger said that by reading the writings of other bloggers, he is able to keep up with information on topics about which he is not an expert. That’s how I feel about reading the tech savvy librarian blogs. I would like to know more about coding and the nuts and bolts of library oriented software, but I don’t have time or the proper resources to learn. One of the nice things about my current place of work is that we have that kind of expertise in the systems department. However, most of those guys aren’t librarians. By keeping up with what my tech savvy colleagues are doing and writing about, I can pass on ideas to our systems folks who have the skill to implement them. Knowing that something is possible is half-way to making it happen.
Today, I heard a story on Sound Money about Philadelphia’s plan to set up a Wi-Fi network to cover the entire city. The reporter commented at the end that Wi-Fi is something that you don’t know you need until you have it, and then you can’t go without it. This rings true for me. I’ve enjoyed being able to go to my favorite local coffee place, sit with a cup of cafe au lait and do whatever it is I do online (like post this entry). My only frustration is that I can’t get to a Wi-Fi network everywhere I’d want to. I’d be willing to pay $30-50 a month to have secure wireless access everywhere in town (home and wherever else), provided there was as strong signal and the network didn’t get overloaded with the volume of use.
Just think of how a city-wide Wi-Fi network could help libraries and branches provide more internet access without having to maintain the equipment! The library could provide free access by paying the access fees, or at a discounted rate, for anyone accessing from that location. If the city-wide Wi-Fi network funneled users through a portal site when they log on, then the library could have a bit of retail space on the page for an Ask-a-Librarian service. I’m sure there are other ways that a city-wide Wi-Fi network could be used by the library to its advantage, but that’s all I can come up with for now. Anyone else?