Thursday, August 30, 2007

Self-publishing made simple

Courtesy of a posting on the PubLib listserv, I was led to an interesting self-publishing site, called Lulu. It claims to be "fast, easy and free" and it looks as though all those claims are true.

Basically you upload a word processing document, choose from a list of formats the desired size and style of your book, select or upload cover art, and hit convert. Your word processing document is then converted to a pdf file in the selected size and becomes available for printing. Printing is done on demand, thus there is no inventory and no cost until an order is placed. Lulu sets a cost price (reflecting their cost to produce the book) and you enter your desired royalty. Cost plus royalty equals the selling price and Lulu gets a percentage of your royalty as a fee. Costs are surprisingly low- $15 for a dust-covered hardcover, although the use of color pages increases the cost somewhat. Lulu also hosts your published work for free. You also hold copyright to your published work.

"Our revenue comes from a small commission on the profits of each item sold. Lulu only makes money if you do. As a creator, you set the amount of Creator Revenue on the items you publish. The Lulu commission is 25% of the Creator Revenue you set (or 19¢, whichever is greater). The Lulu commission therefore equals 20% of the total profit of each item sold."

The list of their all-time best sellers is interesting- it includes programming guides as well as The Ultimate Tatoo guide.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


WebJunction is an amazing resource. Self described as an "online community for library staff", it has resources, training courses and a community of members that can interact in various ways, such as forums, discussion boards, wikis and blogs. On the home page today is an article describing exactly how libraries can use Twitter, the new micro-messaging tool. Also there are links to many great classes, all free.

Some information from the site, explaining who they are, and how they can do all this cool stuff for free (three words: Bill and Melinda):

WebJunction is a cooperative of library staff sharing and using online resources that enable us to identify and embrace appropriate technologies and apply them to our daily work.

To sustain this effort, we partner with library and cultural heritage organizations and those that support them in meeting their objectives through effective use of collaborative, web-based technologies.
In 2002, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded OCLC Online Computer Library Center a three-year grant to build a portal for public libraries and other organizations that provide public access to information. Building on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's five-year Library Program, which has provided over 40,000 computers with Internet access to more than 10,000 libraries across the United States and Canada, WebJunction was initially the work of five organizations, led by OCLC.

Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC is a nonprofit organization that provides computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, and preservation services to more than 56,000 libraries in 91 countries and territories across the world. For the initial grant, OCLC partners for the WebJunction project were:

The Colorado State Library: initial needs assessment and evaluation
The Benton Foundation: online community development
Isoph: online learning management
TechSoup: technology related content and community building

Technology planning in libraries

I'm taking (well, auditing really) a class called Developing a Library Technology Plan, offered by InfoPeople and taught by Lori Bowen Ayers. The class is most meaningful if you have an actual plan to develop, as it points to great resources and clearly outlines a process for developing such a plan. In fact, at the end of the class, you actually have created a technology plan, so therere is a tangible product to reward your efforts. For me, since I am not actually in possession of a library at the moment, it is more of a purely educational effort, and serves to remind me that technology planning (indeed all institutional planning and budgeting) follows the same basic business principles, no matter the venue.

Some of the wonderful resources that Lori has shown us include TechAtlas, a free tool that leads you through the 5 steps to creating a library technology plan: envision, assess, inventory, budget and evaluate. It provides a tool to automatically inventory your entire network, surveys you can use to assess the technology skills of your staff, assessments of your network security, patron technology training, public access computers and much more.

Open Archives and Institutional Repository Software

I recently joined an excellent discussion list,web4lib, hosted by Webjunction. The stated purpose of the list is:

"The Web4Lib electronic discussion is for the discussion of issues relating to the creation, management, and support of library-based World-Wide Web servers, services, and applications."

and the audience is:

"Web4Lib is specifically aimed toward librarians and library staff involved in World-Wide Web management, but anyone is welcome to join the discussion. Those not interested in a library-oriented Web discussion may wish to join one of the general Web discussions hosted by the W3 Organization. There are presently around 3,400 subscribers world wide and an average of 15-20 messages every day."

I find it to be a continually enlightening and educational experience. The members are all very generous with their knowledge and information- and everyday I learn about more open source software, more open access initiatives, and have come to realize how much is going on in the world of information access.

Today, for example, in response to one posting inquiring about sharing content between libraries, a respondent pointed toward institutional respository software, offering 5 links to additional information. Following the links led to an intriguing look at what's happening in this field.

EPrints is one application with a demo site. "EPrints is an open source software package for building open access repositories that are compliant with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. It shares many of the features commonly seen in Document Management systems, but is primarily used for institutional repositories and scientific journals. Eprints has been developed at the University of Southampton and released under a GPL license."

The demo shows more clearly than words exactly what's so great about this type of software.

Also interesting are RefBase, "web-based, platform-independent, multi-user interface for managing scientific literature & citations", Fedora("A Fedora Repository provides a general-purpose management layer for digital objects, and containers that aggregate mime-typed datastreams (e.g., digital images, XML files, metadata). Out-of-the-box Fedora includes the necessary software tools to ingest, manage, and provide basic delivery of objects with few or no custom disseminators, or can be used as a backend to a more monolithic user interface.") and DSpace: "Over 200 academic institutions and cultural organizations around the world have adopted DSpace – as a digital repository for articles, books, courseware, journals, websites, theses and more.
DSpace is freely available so you can customize it and extend it to suit your needs."