Monday, December 02, 2013

Racing at the Speed of Electronics

This morning the Los Angeles Times reports that Amazon, the mega online retailer, plans to deliver purchases via drones. When I first saw the headline I thought it must be an article from The Onion, a parody "news" source. But it was not. Read the article online.

They hope to have the drones commonly flittering through the air as early as 2015, dropping packages off at your doorstep within half an hour of your purchase!

How will improved convenience affect our choices? How many of us stayed away from the malls on Black Friday in preference to Cyber Monday deals?

Although Amazon may still be best known for being a book seller, it is talking about all kinds purchases. Similarly, the library is still best known for lending books even though most of our patrons are aware that we also offer ebooks and all kinds of other information resources.

We realize that sometimes speed wins out over the relevancy. If we can get an ebook faster than we can get a paperback, suddenly the ebook is more valuable for our research project. Even if a paperback is clearly the better choice as far as content is concerned, we can be swayed by convenience.

The Darling Library is gearing up to participate in an interlibrary loan (ILL) service called Camino which will speed up the turn-around time for borrowing books from another library. Currently, when you find a book in WorldCat that we don't have on our shelves, you can click on the Request Interlibrary Loan button and start the process of getting the book from another library, usually within two weeks. With Camino the book will be shuttled to us within two days. We thought this was pretty good.

We hope to be on board with Camino in January 2014. It won't bring books to your doorstep within half an hour nor will it download them to your computer within seconds. But it should increase the value of millions of books because of their improved availability.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Robin Hartman is Director of Library Services at Hope International University. She is curious about how the organization and communication of information shapes society and is committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.

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