David Rothman describes why the BiblioTech library in Bexar County, Texas is a landmark achievement worthy of implementation and iteration in towns and cities throughout the US. His article describes the success of this variation on a library system detailed in a new book authored by Nelson Wolff, the visionary behind the country’s first all-digital public library system. Wolff is the judge of Bexar County, which includes the city of San Antonio. The title is roughly equivalent to the head of a county board. Judge Wolff and his wife, Tracy, are donors and fund-raisers for BiblioTech and other civic causes, and his book is a how-to pathfinder to “bridge the literacy and technology gaps.”
David Rothman continues his reporting on the status of Text to Speech applications that have yet to be added to E-Ink readers due to the FCC’s extension of vendor exemptions from complying with a key benefit for the disabled that is part of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.
Adobes laxness with e-book data shows the need for a library-controlled ecosystem for library e-books
David Rothman highlights the recent revelation of an Adobe e-book reader data collection privacy issue, and suggests this security vulnerability offers a key opportunity for libraries to collaborate with other organizations to diminish data breaches, increase reader privacy, and empower libraries as stakeholders in a new relationship with vendors and customers.
The LG Optimus Dynamic Android Phone, aka the LG 38c or the LGL38C, is a smartphone that David Rothman bought new on Amazon for $20, excluding shipping. Rothman calls out the importance of this device in relationship to its potential impact among among racial minorities and young families with children that also experience high poverty rates. He contends that low-end smartphones like the 38c may be a way to bring e-books to many low-income people in America and elsewhere, including the U.K., where so many libraries have closed. Rothman discusses the objective to inform librarians, tech-savvy volunteers and nonprofits to the possibilities, in terms of training and motivation and the creation of community groups, to promote smartphone technology for literacy and self-improvement. For the underserved who already own smartphones, David details the need to install the right e-reading software to expand capabilities of the devices for accessing e-books.
Nicole Black predicts that smartwatches will soon be very popular with lawyers as they offer an easy and unobtrusive way to filter only the most important information received on your smartphone. So if you’re expecting a priority email or phone call, you can program your phone to forward it to your smartwatch so that you’ll receive a subtle vibration on your wrist. This will come in handy when you’re in court, for example. So instead of causing a disruption in the proceedings, you can leave the room quietly and tend to the matter in the hallway with no one else the wiser.
On tablets, summer reading and parental role models for young readers: How schools and libraries can together connect the dots
David Rothman discusses how his Washington, D.C. suburb and in countless other places, U.S. schools are buying tablets for students, and each city could potentially be a test bed for the ideas in this commentary. We’re talking about a partial solution to a national reading divide; well-off kids actually can make gains over the summer. Regardless of family income, however, more reading is likely to help. All the more reason to increase coordination between schools and public libraries to exploit e-book-related technology to the max!
Cell phone book clubs: A new way for libraries to promote literacy, technology, family and community
Young people are heavy users of cell phones, but most do not know they can read library e-books for free on their phones. In this cutting-edge essay, David Rothman tells how libraries could use “cell phone book clubs” to reach out both to young cell phone users and their families, including low-income people and members of racial and ethnic minorities. The clubs would not only foster literacy, but also leverage technology and strengthen the connections between families and communities.
In this article David Rothman highlights the backstory on Amazon’s new list of America’s “Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities,” based on its sales of books, magazines and newspapers. As has been the case previously, the winner is Alexandria, Virginia, his hometown, which should be able to afford a book-rich public library system. This scenic Washington suburb on the Potomac River pays the city manager $245K a year. Yet the Alexandria library’s budget for books and other materials is well below the national average despite the needs of the city’s many African-Americans, Hispanics and and low-income people. Around half of Alexandria’s students qualify for free school lunches. Simply put, we’re talking about two different realities–Amazon’s and the actual Alexandria’s.
For the 21st century lawyer, mobility is key, since a mobile law practice makes it easier than ever for lawyers to practice law no matter where they happen to be. That’s why, according to the American Bar Association’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey, more lawyers are going mobile than ever before, with nearly 91 percent of lawyers surveyed reporting that they have used smartphones in their practices and 48 percent of lawyers surveyed reported using a tablet at work. Nicole Black explains why you need to have the right accessories to be effectively mobile.
The limits of ‘Hack the library’: Don’t aim for too much more with too much less–and try harder for more
David Rothman notes that less than 12 percent of U.S. public library spending goes for books and other items. So he is very much in favor of the “hack the library” movement reinventing libraries. At the same time, Rothman warns that all the technical ingenuity and creativity in the world is no substitute for sufficient funding in areas ranging from content to data security. The public’s needs, not the interests of techie volunteers, should count most of all.