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Vol. XII, no. 1

TCU Library Newsletter, Web Edition

April 2000
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A View Through the Transom
By James Lutz, guest columnist

          The second Internet Librarian International conference was held in London, England with exhibitors and attendees from 40 countries. The conference spanned three days and included library vendor exhibits at LIBTECH 2000. While the conference was being held in the smaller conference center, the London Book Fair in its thirtieth year occupied the Grand and National halls at Olympia with some 1500 exhibitors.

     In preparation for my trip abroad, I began to experiment with some newer technologies available. I used my Palm IIIx to store restaurant guides by Zagats and Fodors, a London Underground map, a subway route calculator, a currency/size/time converter, a copy of Spooky 8 by Bob King (a non-fiction novel in hardback at 254 pages), and 1152 Palm pages, from Peanut Press. I keyed in the conference schedule into my calendar and some important phone numbers and hotel information.

      My first thoughts about reading a novel on the Palm was that there would not be enough of the page visible, it might be too small, it would be a definite strain on my eyes, and it just did not feel right. After boarding the flight from New York to London and getting airborne, I started reading Spooky 8 on the Palm. It took a little while to adjust and I found myself reading and navigating the pages with ease. Before long it was time for dinner and as I powered off the Palm, I noticed I had read some 200 pages. I felt a sense of accomplishment. I am traditionally a slow or detailed reader.

     I was pleasantly surprised to have no ill effects from the 200 pages I had just read. It reminded me of something I told a student assistant once in the computer lab when asked about getting the newest and fastest computers. I told him that he couldn't type as fast as the current computer could process. In some ways the same thing applied to reading on the Palm. There are only so many words the brain can read and absorb at one time.

    Once at my hotel I was able to plug in the Palm Modem and check my email and download, each morning, updated copies of The Guardian and New York Times for reading as I sat between sessions at the conference. "Knowledge management" was the buzzwords for the conference. To imagine a pyramid you have data at the bottom and on the next level moving up you would have information followed by knowledge and at the top most level there would be wisdom. Machinery now handles the bottom two levels and the focus is for librarians to become knowledge managers and extract information and synthesize it for the user.

    It is an exciting time for librarians as books are transformed to electronic books and librarians can concentrate on the library as an institution to facilitate research, teaching, and learning. The library will exist to provide a comfortable environment that serves as a meeting point for knowledge development and discussions.

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