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Barry’s Trip to Cisco

Thursday, March 29, 2012 1:01 pm

Last week I had the pleasure of taking a trip down to Cisco’s business center in the Research Triangle Park, along with several other staff members from across WFU’s campus. It was here that I sat in on several presentations of new technologies that Cisco is preparing and discussed how they could be useful at Wake and ZSR. I also had the opportunity of seeing several of their web conferencing technologies at work, such as using one of the “Full Immersion” rooms to video conference with Cisco employees across the country. Some parts will be a bit vague, as some of the information we were told regards future plans for Cisco products that they asked us not to discuss outside.

We began the day with a demo of Cisco Business Video Demo Center, ran by a Cisco employee in California. This was basically a showcase as to how Cisco can inter-operate a number of their technologies. For example, our presenter took a video of his screens showing our WFU group across three separate rooms with a Flip Cam, uploaded it to one of Cisco’s media servers that compiled the video, added titles, and then played back the video for us on the web within 15 minutes. It was an impressive demo, though a bit imposing and seemed unlikely to work as well without Cisco expertise on hand. They did touch on digital signage from Cisco which was a major interest to me, but didn’t go into great detail. The focused more on their ability to take data and push to their signs automatically than particulars of the signs themselves, which was disappointing. We were also running behind so the presenter had to hurry through things, so that may have had something to do with my feelings as well.

We then moved on to a “Casual Conversation” with Lance Ford, a Cisco Business Development Manager who works a great deal with educators using Telepresense tools in their teaching. This was a fun presentation with some interesting views on web teaching. After this talk we had a conference with a Webex engineer discussing the next step in the Webex program, which Wake will be a part of. A major topic of discussion in this and throughout the day was Webex integration with Google, specifically calendar functionality.

Cisco save the new, shiny stuff for after lunch though. We were given a demo of Cicso’s QUAD platform, basically a business version of Facebook. Instead of emails or shared google docs, you sign into QUAD and make posts. You then follow particular posts or invite others to edit them or attach documents. An interesting idea, but not one that I would see as particularly relevant in our environment. At least the consensus in the car I rode home in is that we didn’t need another social network to keep track of. We then saw a presentation on Cisco Jabber, which is a telephone/messaging solution Cisco is offering. What is really nice about it is its future integration with webex, so you can be on the phone on your handset and switch over to a webex meeting when needed. This would also allow for individual computers to communicate with larger telepresence and webex clients, making our awesome new setup in 204 even more useful. Finally we were given a presentation on Show and Share, Cisco’s video solution. It offers a media service that can transcode video, add titles, etc. to it, transcribe the video and map out specific topics of interest, tag it, and put it in a “youtube-like” interface basically with one box. It is designed to be a Youtube for the business world, which once again is cool but not something that would necessarily fit within the Library. And for me, it doesn’t really seem to do enough different from Youtube.

All in all it was an enjoyable trip. It was interesting to see where Cisco is going, especially with Wake becoming closer and closer with the company. It was also interesting to listen to some of the priorities of the ranking members if IS when it comes to those technologies.

ASERL Webinar – ASERL Members e-Reader Experiences

Friday, February 18, 2011 2:56 pm

On Friday, Feb. 18th, a group of ZSR colleagues and I took in a webinar put on by ASERL member libraries discussing their experiences with e-Readers. Speakers included Nancy Gibbs from Duke U., Millie Jackson and Beth Holley from University of Alabama, Eleanor Cook from ECU, and Valerie Boulus from Florida International U. The webinar was organized by John Burger.

Valerie Boulus started the talk by discussing the general specifications of the e-Reader devices, such as the Kindle. She then moved on to talking about specific devices and their features. Kindle v. 3, Nook v. 1, Nook Color v. 1, Sony Readers. She also discussed file formats for the devices, as well as Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Nancy Gibbs discussed Duke’s implementation of an e-Reader program. They began in fall 2009, spent around $20,000 for devices and content. They tried to put high demand titles on the devices, and provide multiple copies of the content on a number of their devices, as they could put e-Books on multiple devices at one point. She did not speak to the copyright issues this raises with licensing the ebooks, however.

Alabama started their program in fall of 2009 as well. Obtained funding through fundraiser, and purchased only Kindles. Their different libraries selected original content, then let their patrons request additional titles, excluding textbooks. Spent Approx. $2000 in content last FY. They do not consider the e-reader titles as part of the collection development since the program is a pilot program at this point. Don’t feel the e-format is stable enough. Alabama adds titles to each of their kindles individually, and manages new purchases through a spreadsheet.

Back to Duke, they replicate content across all devices instead of breaking it up based on content. Also have a suggestion email for patrons. Can put content on 6 kindles a piece, as many nooks as you want. Discussed money savings, no discussion of legality. I hope for their sake that no book publishers were on this webinar! The talk moved onto the nuts and bolts of adding titles to the devices, as well as problems relating to content on the devices such as titles disappearing off devices thanks to Amazon.

Eleanor Cook from ECU began her portion discussing the sales tax issue with e-books, though WFU operates differently than most other schools in this regard, according to Lauren C.

Unfortunately I had to leave at this point in the talk, though it was certainly interesting to hear other’s experiences with some of the issues we have encountered here at ZSR with similar technologies.

Erik, Sarah, and Barry at NC LITe Group Meeting

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 4:23 pm

Earlier today, Erik, Sarah, and I took a quick jaunt to the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to participate in the NC LITe Group Meeting/mini-conference, a gathering of Library Instruction and Technology professionals from other schools in the state. We joined representatives from UNCG, UNC-CH, NCSU, Guilford College, and Appalachian State in discussing current and future trends in Library technology, instruction, and the vast gray area in-between, as well as a little networking between the libraries at each of these institutions.

The first part of the meeting was dedicated to a quick, round-the-room discussion of new happenings among the participating libraries, ranging from our talk of E-books and the opening of ZSR space to The Bridge and The Writing Center, emerging technology initiatives at UNC-CH and NCSU, and even the “Library Adventure Game” developed in house at App. State. We then voted on topics to discuss in smaller, “breakout” sessions drawn from topics each group had submitted earlier.

I personally attended the sections on Ebooks, E-pub, and in-house production as well as Training methods for Librarians. The Ebook section was submitted by ZSR. Erik led the discussion where we shared our experiences in working with the Epub format on the Cuala Irish Greeting Cards Catalog a few months back. The highlight of this talk was showing the Ebook on Erik’s borrowed iPad, and the discussion of the device and other E-Book readers and their future. It was interesting to see that peer institutions were also making moves to obtain new technologies, like the iPad, for patron circulation.

The Training methods discussion focused mainly around the idea of quick, easily digestible video content made available to the public 24/7, taking inspiration from Lauren P.’s Toolkit videos. We discussed how online content related to in-person training, the materials that training was requested for, and its changes over time. For instance, UNCG still has a high demand for basic computer skill training and competencies, such as Microsoft Office applications, while at Wake we have found that students are more interested in software for specific goals in research and collaboration.

After this second breakout, the group as a whole reconvened and discussed all of the breakout topics broadly, relaying to those who did not attend the basic gist of the conversation. It seemed like each session would have been interesting to attend.

ZSR Goes Digital with its First E-book!

Thursday, April 15, 2010 10:48 am

The ZSR Library has joined the ever growing E-book craze by creating its very first (to my knowledge) E-book! Please stop by Wakespace — link removed — and give it a download to your favorite .epub reading device and check out a wonderful piece from our Rare Books Collection, A historic catalog of Irish pressed greeting cards published by Cuala.

This E-book is just the first step in a combined preservation/digitization project now underway in ZSR. Each card you see in our E-book will be removed from its current, worn out book, described, digitized, and remounted in a pristine and preservation-friendly new binding. We hope to produce digital copies of each individual card as well as the full final product, which will be made available as an E-book as well providing an interesting comparison between the original and the new, a before and after in the most literal sense.

Producing the E-book itself was remarkably easy in the often complex and frustrating world of digital formats. Our digitization students took overhead shots of each page of the original catalog, for use by the preservation team in metadata collection and as a base to begin restoration. We then (after a quick crop and some basic straightening) converted all of these photos into one PDF book.

Now comes the easy part, for once. Using a free software found online, Calibre E-book Management, we were able to convert this PDF file into a standard E-book format, .epub for use on any E-book reader that supports that format. ZSR’s own Giz Womack graciously tested this out on his new iPad, creating the following screenshots:

This is how the book looks in Giz’s library. As you probably guess, the worn blue cover is our book.

And this is an example of how one of the pages appears, almost like holding the original, just without the dust!

The conversion itself was rendered remarkably easy by the Calibre software. I simply imported the PDF file into my E-book library, clicked a dropdown menu, and started the conversion program. A few minutes of CPU grind later, and it spat out our E-book. I was then able to edit in any metadata I wished, including title, author, and the other necessities. For this test case, a title was sufficient, but we should be able to characterize our future projects very well, and have this information presented to everyone who reads our E-books upfront. All of this could have been done manually, since the .epub format is actually just a .zip file with a very specific file structure, and can be “built from scratch.” However, a simple to use and free software that does this work for you, and does it better and much faster is definitely the way to go, in my humble opinion.

Please take a moment to download our E-book to a device of your choice, or if you are interested in just looking at the greeting cards, the original PDF is also available online at –link removed.


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