Today’s reads: Netflix; legal wastes of time; the future of the book

There’s been an interesting debate on the use of Netflix in university libraries. First posted on TameTheWeb, this seemed like a great idea to me: the university can save money, and enable students and staff to access films and other materials quickly and easily. However Meredith Farkas points out that the library would be violating Netflix’s terms of service. Jessamyn West picked up on this and pointed to some comments saying that Netflix quietly allows libraries to do this, but (to keep studios happy) has a public policy that forbids it. That’s great, but I guess it presents two problems for libraries: firstly, only some will realise that they can get away with this (I guess fortune favours the brave, though, right?); secondly, that Netflix could at any time start enforcing its ToS, with probably negative consequences for the library.

Interesting question: What do you spend a lot of time, money and effort on that isn’t worth it? From 3 Geeks and a Law Blog: answers include CRM (twice! – lawyers won’t use it…); excessive document retention; most of the seminars we hold (because they aren’t converted into sales, which is really their purpose); public relations without a strategy; and (from the law library perspective) cost recovery systems – because clients don’t like being ‘nickel and dimed’ and lawyers will often not pass the costs onto clients anyway; and finally (oooooh) “having both Lexis and Westlaw” (no longer affordable or justifiable).

Very interesting from a law firm perspective.

The Librarian In Black has write-ups of some presentations from the Future of Libraries Conference: Social Media Capital (tips on using social media at your library); The Consumer and Library E-Book Markets (some interesting stuff here, including a self-confessed ‘doomsayer’s’ predictions – including interesting hypotheticals: what if Google goes into online publishing, or vendors offer e-book readers on the mobile phone model: get the reader free but pay a monthly subscription, with free books thrown in?)

Via Michael Stephens, a short video on the future of the book: it presents three possibilities that could be enabled by e-books: a means of showing the influence of key texts on popular issues, and showing different sides of issues; an easy method of sharing books and reading lists between groups; and a non-linear, interactive reading experience. The latter doesn’t really appeal to me, though I can see the attraction. I’m sceptical of the former (it’s a great idea in theory, but our experience of the internet shows that we’d much rather clump into groups of likeminded people than be exposed to multiple sides of a debate), but the second seems useful and achievable.

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About simonchamberlain

New Zealand librarian and music fan, living in London.
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