2013: Searching The Mobile Digital Library

Ads-on-Tablet-A2Newport Beach, Calif. had considered closing several physical libraries, turning the facility into a digital public library. Although I thought about missing the feeling and the smell of old decaying stacks of dusty paper bound in cardboard and string, searching for content online seems so much easier -- even down to the page. Most of us have experienced searching library content from a computer, but what about on a mobile device?

A Pew Research Center project survey finds that 39% of Americans ages 16 and older have gone to a library Web site at one time or another -- and of them, 64% visited a library site in the previous 12 months. That means 25% of all Americans ages 16 and older visited a library Web site in the past year.



The study also tells us that mobile connections to libraries continue to grow. PEW compares its recent number -- 13% of those ages 16 and older have visited library Web sites or accessed services by mobile device -- to the 6% in 2009, from the University of Washington.

Women use libraries more than men -- at 16% versus 11%, respectively, according to the study. Some 17% are black, compared with 14% Hispanic and 12% Caucasian. About 16% earn more than $75,000 annually, compared with 15% between $50,000 and $74,999, and 14% between $30,000 and $49,999; 13% earn less than $30,000 annually.

Google has been trying for years to digitize the world's books. They take up much less physical space, and require hard drive or cloud storage after purchase. Lovers of the written word also can check out a book from a library halfway around the world. The company worked with the Israel Antiquities Authority to launch the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library Web site, making accessible the collection of more than 5,000 images of Dead Sea Scrolls.

It took two years using advanced technology first developed by NASA. It includes some 1,000 images of scroll fragments; 3,500 scans of negatives from the 1950s; a database documenting about 900 manuscripts, two thousand years old, comprising thousands of scroll fragments; and interactive content pages. The site displays infra-red and color images at a resolution of 1215 dpi, at a 1:1 scale, equivalent in quality to the original scrolls.

As tablets become more accessible, we'll see many more digital libraries in addition to the Cambridge Digital Library, and the North Carolina Digital Library.

2 comments about "2013: Searching The Mobile Digital Library".
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  1. Andre Szykier from maps capital management, January 4, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.

    You forget that libraries are used by schools as well as students who physically go there to study.
    Not all books are digitized, and publications are not all electronically readable.

    What is happening is that it is more efficient to have a central book distribution facility that can deliver books from online requests to the closest library location of the requestor. This is happening everywhere for both cost management and inventory management.

  2. Maryanne Conlin from RedRopes Digital/4GreenPs, January 7, 2013 at 1:09 p.m.

    Hmmm..Newport Beach is not a great example - small central library - not easily accessible or particularly useful for the community it serves - smaller branches, even less useful for the community - so for them to go all digital is a different situation than say a Chicago Public Library system which is used by students, as the commenter above mentioned and may be the only place some communities come into contact with a wide variety of books.
    I love libraries and would be sad to see them go - as search algorithms online more and more expose us only to that which we already know and love, libraries are one of the few places that expose us to that which we didn't know we wanted to know.

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