Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Ask Techman

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Ask Techman

Article excerpt

SM of Johnson City (Tenn.) Public Library asks: Could libraries use GPS to locate books in their collections?

techman responds: There are a variety of claims regarding the accuracy of global positioning system receivers. Some say there used to be an imbedded inaccuracy factor to prevent high levels of accuracy, but that is not the practice now. Others say they can be off by as much as IOO feet because coordinates are not broken down into hundredths of seconds. And some say they are only accurate to around 16.5 feet because of weather and other types of satellite transmission interference. The bottom line is that you probably could not use them to locate a specific book on a shelf.

However, it probably wouldn't hurt to put coordinates for branch libraries, bookmobile stops,and library events on you r Web pages. I don't have a handheld GPS unit myself, but from what I understand, GPS users can download the coordinates and find out how far they are from a library location.

Check out these Web sites for more info: faq-gps.htm and http://www.dban



VJ of Brooklyn, N.Y., asks: What's your opinion of eBay? Should libraries use it?

techman responds: If you're asking whether they should use it to buy materials, then it depends on the library and its restrictions on purchases, bids, sales, etc. Government and state institutions are often limited to traditional methods of acquiring goods (although libraries certainly have taken to using, and stories about online-auction fraud are probably enough to make library administrators think twice about using eBay.

For more info on buying online, see: ?special=special.

Selling items might be a different matter. For instance, at the 2003 Learning Times Library Online Conference, librarians from Abilene Christian University reported selling duplicate or discarded books on eBay in 2002 (

Of course, numerous librarians teach classes on how to shop online, including Michael Stephens at Saint Joseph County (Ind.) Public Library ( 179 432239/E1467047348).

I do know that students are starting to use eBay to buy textbooks. …

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