They were supposed to be the digital giants that ate paper by the trainload and drank ink by the barrel.
Well, they kind of started out that way.
"The digital acocalypse never arrived, at least not on schedule," The New York Times reported late last week.
E-book buying has peaked, and now it appears that early adopters are going back to traditional print books.
Seems that, among other things, people like having books aroundl, and you can't have them if they're digital. Oh, and people are moving away from dedicated e-readers to smartphones, which are ubiquitous. It's not easy to read a book on an iPhone.
This is all good news for we librarians and for bookstores, many of which have already given up the ghost.
But, we'll never go back to a model of library that doesn't offer e-books for readers to check out for awhile.
I had never thought about this:
If you're an instructor and your students are using e-books, you can arrange to track how those e-resources are used. Specifically, you can see how much time a student is spending with a text, something you could never ever do with paper books.
I discovered this by reading an abstract of a study of e-book use posted by InfoDocket. The study was conducted by Reynol Junco of Iowa State University and Candrianna Clem of the University of Texas.
They tracked e-text use time with more than 230 students at UT-San Antonio, not just for the heck of it but also to see if text use and final grades could have any correlation.
Not surprisingly, there is a direct correlation: The more a student uses the text, the higher his or her final grade.
That's intuitive, isn't it? But until now, unprovable.
A large group of refugees has set up a camp commonly called The Jungle near Calais, France.
They are, of course, homeless, and utterly without modern resources.
Pamela Druckerman writes of their plight in Sunday's New York Times.
Many of the refugees have iPhones and iPads, apparently.
But, they have set up a library with real books, set up by a woman who recognzed that many of these Syrians were educated people who wanted to read and learn things, like French, and not just sit around and wait for something to happen.
Books are mainly castoffs from Britain.
However, Druckerman makes mention of a French organizatoin called Libraries Without Borders that helps set up libraries in refugee camps, including a WiFi link.
But even if they could get access to the Internet at The Jungle, it seems likely they would still hunger for books in the traditional format.
And this is on the very far edge of civilization, a sad reality.
I wonder how we could get books to them.
While Syrian refugees in a camp called The Jungle outside Calais, France, have started their own little library, in other places across Europe public libraries are trying to be as responsive as possible to the migrant crisis.
That's according to the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Association. The association posted an item yesterday quoting officials with the Danis Library Association, for example, declaring that their libraries were open and hoping to serve a safe havens for refugees.
The Danes issued a press release, saying: "We cannot promise that there will be enough books in the language of the refugees in all libraries, but librarians will do their best to ensure that refugees feel welcome..."
Further, the association said, "EBLIDA believes that libraries all over Europe should act as a platform for democratic and open-minded values, and be a safe place where social inclusiveness for all is a priority."
Good for them.
Now, how do they get that message to Hungary and Serbia and Croatia?
We send faxes for patrons several times a week, and every time we send one I cringe.
The fax machine still makes that scratchy-blackboard sound that is so evocative of the sound our computers made when we tried to dial up Internet service.
That helps to keep me grounded when I complain about slow access speeds here or at home. And there are websites out there that take long, long seconds to load, which in my world today seems like way too long a period of time.
(I'm thinking of one in particular that is just maddening: the site for Time tech news. It's got so much stuff going on you almost can't get to read or see anything.)
The New York Times reported last Saturday that Google is working with magazine and book publishers to try to increase download speeds, particularly for mobile devices, which is where the action is digitally these days.
They are running into difficulties that I'm certain they will overcome.
Maybe if Google stopped putting time and energy and money into what I consider a fool's chase after autonomous cars they could focus on improving the speed of things.
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