The opening session of Computers in Libraries yesterday made me very happy that I wasn’t the conference organizer. The keynote speaker, James Crawford, Engineering Director for Google Books, was delayed. Apparently, he’d decided to take a redeye from California, which was to arrive in Dulles less than 3 hours before he was scheduled to speak. And Dulles isn’t all that close to the Washington Hilton. His flight was delayed. The result: He landed at Dulles about the time he was supposed to be addressing some 2,000 people at CIL.
Jane Dysart, CIL conference organizer, swiftly pulled together a panel of ebook and industry experts to fill in. They did this admirably. Kudos to Roy Tennant, Dick Kaser, Stephen Abram, and Marshall Breeding. For a full transcript of their remarks, see Don Hawkins’ report at Information Today’s LibConf blog.
While listening to them, some random thoughts flashed through my mind. The comment about libraries’ digitizing local and personal collections caught my attention and I’m wondering if this presages closer cooperation between public libraries and local museums. This type of intersection could benefit both institutions, particularly in times of limited funding for both.
The changing technological nature of ebooks, particularly the introduction of HTML5, set me wondering if ebook technology will fundamentally change the definition of a book. If you think of a book as a bunch of chapters strung together (I’m thinking non-fiction here, not fiction) that can be read out of sequence, you’ve got a research tool not that much different from a journal with articles strung together. Plus, when you can embed video, audio, images, and possibly more exotic technologies in the future, books become dynamic rather than static.
Today there’s an entire track devoted to ebooks. That’s likely where you’ll find me. I’ll be interested in learning more about the emerging technologies of ebooks.