Follow up about Mygazines.com

Lat week I wrote about the site Mygazines.com that appeared to have just about every popular magazine under the sun available to read for free:

Uhhhh…isn’t this like illegal?

There’s an article from Cnet that goes in to some more details about why this site, who existence seems to run counter to every copyright law I can think of, is still up and running.

It seems our good friends at the PRQ are keeping it up and running and given their propensity for wanting to “stick it to the man”, the site will likely be there for some time.

I can’t condone going to the site to check out the new issue of Maxim with Anna Kournikova on the cover but I can imagine there are some people out there who will.


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Bang for your buck

There is an interesting In Press article from the Journal of Academic Librarianship:

Reference Transactions Analysis: The Cost-Effectiveness of Staffing a Traditional Academic Reference Desk

From the abstract:
“This study categorizes 6959 reference desk transactions to determine how many of the queries require the attention of a librarian. Results indicate that 89% could likely be answered by non-librarians. From the results of this and other studies, the author explores the cost-effectiveness of staffing a traditional reference desk with librarians.”

The article presents a study and discusses previous research which details how search and information discovery technology has radically changed the traditional role of the reference librarian. The authours then provide data which call into question the cost-effectiveness of staffing academic reference desks with librarians given the types of questions that now predominate:

“Results of the current question analysis study also confirm that many questions can be considered simple directional or machine-related. As seen in Table 3, the 2528 non-informational direction and machine transactions accounted for 36.3% of all of the transactions during the eight-month study period. Few would argue that these “restroom” and “paper jam” transactions require the attention of a librarian.”

One of the highlights of the research presented:

“Dividing the amount by the 6959 transactions shows that the library spent an average of $7.09 per transaction. While that does not seem particularly expensive to answer the 784 “research” questions ($5559), consider that during the same time frame the library spent $7.09 on each of the 2528 times that a printer cartridge was changed, or a paper jam fixed, or directions were given to a building across campus.”

These cost estimates are below what they would likely be in a Canadian academic library. This study used an average librarian salary of $23.77, which is quite a bit lower than the librarians where I work (heck, even I make more than that).

The financial difficulties spiraling through the US economy are expected to hit Canada hard fairly soon. When increased pressure on library budgets start to set in,  I think it is inevitable that the trend of library technicians working extended shifts at the public reference desk will become more and more common.

While groups like this one, express concern over the de-professionalization of library work, the authours of the article don’t dwell on what some may see as the negative aspects of the changing trends at the reference desk, they point out where the role of the librarian should be moving:

“This may bolster the argument that librarians can leave answering most questions to others and can now concentrate on working on tasks that better utilize their training and experience, as well as learning new skills that benefit the library, the users, and the institution.”

Uhhhh….isn’t this like illegal?

I came across the site Mygazines a few days ago.

From my experience working on copyright issues I can’t understand how it has not been flooded with takedown notices.

The site appears to consist of hundreds of popular magazines, scanned from cover-to-cover. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that this is being done without the permission of the actual publishers of the magazines.

Looking at the Contact Us section I see no information about an actual address, phone number, etc. I’m guessing the site’s servers may be located in some Baltic republic or other former Soviet satellite state which tend to take a “relaxed” standard to copyright law.

If no one tries to take the site down, libraries may be able to save a lot of money on periodical subscriptions. At least on the popular magazines, I haven’t been able to locate any of the dry, peer-reviewed journals we academic libraries are known for.

I must admit that the temptation to read the latest issue of Mojo (without paying for it) is hard to resist but the existence of sites like this make it harder for us copyright cops to tell faculty they need permission to upload a scan of a Ziggy cartoon to their Blackboard page.

Another library technician blog

While going through my WordPress stats I saw that someone had used the search term, “library technician lack of job toronto” to arrive at my blog.

I’m glad to see people are finding links to my library technician job postings mash-up, but I noticed that this search term also brought up a link to this blog posting.

Library Tech Confidential is a very attractive looking blog (he’s not a cheapskate using a free hosted WordPress blog like I do) written by a Canadian library technician. It’s always interesting to see what other Seneca library technician grads are up to, let alone another male technician.

The comments made by “Esther” and the response from the site’s authour in the comments section of this posting bring back some memories of my job search after graduation.

So check it out for another view of libraries from the “para-professional” point of view.