Magazine article Information Today

Reports on Libraries, Cloud Computing, and Better Mapping Tools

Magazine article Information Today

Reports on Libraries, Cloud Computing, and Better Mapping Tools

Article excerpt

Unless you've been hiding in a cave for the last decade, you are acutely aware that the digital age has impacted nearly all personal and professional aspects of our lives. We find, research, buy, use, and share content of all kinds in completely new ways. Our libraries have also been affected, and two recent reports have examined these effects. One from consulting firm Outsell, Inc. looks at the library market worldwide. The other is the American Library Association's (ALA) annual report, "The State of America's Libraries," for 2008.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Outsell, Inc. forecasts that libraries worldwide will spend $24.7 billion for content by 2010 (a 3.1% compound annual growth rate), according to its "2008 Library Market Size, Share & Forecast Report. "The report--which Outsell says is the first to analyze the global market for all types of libraries, from traditional physical libraries to centralized information centers--has implications for publishers and librarians alike.

The report indicates that most content spending by libraries (21%) is going toward scientific and technical content. That's followed by educational information (11%), news (11%), and legal/tax/regulatory content (10%). The remainder is distributed among information types such as HR, marketing and IT research, and credit and other business information. While overall library investments are increasing, the proportional share devoted to most content segments is shrinking. The one exception is in education/training allocations, which have increased from 4% in 2004 to 11% in 2007. The report also notes the rise of user-generated and institutionally generated content that displaces commercially published content in many cases. Libraries of all varieties are now creating original content for their users.

The ALA report echoes the education emphasis of the Outsell findings. According to the report, libraries of all kinds continue to be "engines of learning, literacy, and economic development in communities nationwide." Americans are acting on their conviction that school library media centers are a key element in delivering the kind of education the next generation needs to succeed in a global society, and public libraries are redoubling their efforts to serve linguistically isolated communities. Americans check out more than 2 billion items each year from their public libraries, according to the report, and my local public library is buzzing with activity every time I visit. The full text of the report is available at www.ala.org/2008state.

Cloud Computing

One component of our digital age is a move toward "cloud computing." In simple terms, this means that instead of packaged software that we buy on CD and load onto our PCs, we'll be using a variety of applications in the "cloud"--the internet--and also storing our files and data there. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications are examples of this. Google, Amazon, salesforce.com, and others all have successful SaaS offerings.

For more information, check out Erik Arnold's article in the May/June issue of ONLINE titled "Leveraging Clouds to Make You More Efficient: How SaaS-y Are You? "Arnold says it's clear that "2008 will be the year for cloud computing, and everyone needs to understand and start planning for yet another paradigm shift." Nicholas Carr, author of The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, says, "Cheap, utility-supplied computing will ultimately change society as profoundly as cheap electricity did."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Perhaps with this in mind, Google recently launched a preview release of Google App Engine, a way for developers to run their web applications on Google's infrastructure.With Google App Engine, developers can write web applications based on the same building blocks that Google uses, such as the Google File System (GFS) and BigTable (its distributed storage system for structured data). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.