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What is a public library for? First, how we got here: Before Gutenberg, a book cost about as much as a small house. As a result, only kings and bishops could afford to own a book of their own. This naturally led to the creation of shared books, of libraries where scholars (everyone else was too busy not starving) could come to read books that they didn't have to own.
It's sometimes tough for IT professionals to provide good customer service. It's not because they don't want to, but because IT organizations tend to stress efficiency over empathy. Some IT help desks are more customer-centric than others, of course. When I interviewed Steven Zink, Ph.D., vice president of Information Technology and dean of University Libraries at the University of Nevada, Reno, he told me about in which the IT help desk is combined with the reference desk in the main university library and librarians and IT staffers work side-by-side. It's part of a larger practice of IT staff working within business units that Zink said has worked well for the university. In the case of the help desk:
"I had a big late fee for Apollo 13. It was six weeks late, and I owed the video store $40. I had misplaced the cassette.
ONCE Babbage buys a book he finds it hard to let go. As middle age approaches, however, and shelf space grows sparse, he has begun to shed titles, retaining only those he actually expects to consult in the future (plus a handful he holds on to for purely sentimental reasons). Now, a firm is offering to slake his voracious appetite for new tomes without forcing him to relinquish old ones—or, at least, their contents. 1DollarScan is the American outpost of the Japanese firm Bookscan , founded to solve the problem of scant space in Japan's poky urban dwellings and to prevent damage caused by bookshelf-toppling earthquakes. (Bookscan has no relation to Nielsen BookScan, an American retail-sales-tracking service).
Hot on the heels of Amazon signing publishing deals with authors , and thus doing an end-run around their publisher partners, another major e-reader company says it plans to do the same: Kobo is launching its own publishing arm and looking to sign deals with authors directly . All of this is more proof (as if we needed any) that the Internet is potentially lethal to middlemen. Does this mean that traditional publishers will soon be extinct? No. But it does mean that they are going to have to work harder to try to do what Amazon is already doing — namely, making it easier and more profitable for authors to reach their readers.