Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wowbrary: the newest stuff at your library

Libraries are all about sharing, and I should be a mean and uncharitable Scrooge indeed were I not thrilled that Wowbrary has taken my idea for a Telemegaphone new-arrivals service for libraries in rural, unwired regions (the idea that had libraryland buzzing like a beehive last August)  and adapted it for urban, wired, email-, RSS- and sms-enabled communities...

Wowbrary is a nonprofit service that provides you free weekly emails and RSS feeds about your local library’s most recent acquisitions. We’ve found that users of Wowbrary emails are both awed and excited when they discover their local public library’s abundance of new books, DVDs, and CDs.  

However, it is required that your library or others in your community sponsor Wowbrary. Sponsorship ranges from $500 annually for smaller communities to a few thousand dollars for very large cities.

Library patrons are encouraged to enter their zipcode on the Wowbrary homepage to "See what your library's alerts look like!" - in my case, none of the libraries in my (former) zipcode area offered the service, but no matter; you can choose your library, submit your email, and sign-up anyway, and you'll start getting the alerts when and if Wowbrary manages to persuade your library that this is a service its patrons want (presumably, you just contributed to that lobbying effort by signing up....)
I guess that's fair enough, and this is perhaps a nice service to buy into for libraries that don't have the capacity or know/how to develop such services themselves. But Wowbrary could do itself,  libraries, and their users a service by suggesting that the eager patron, before signing up,  should check to see whether his/her library already offers comparable services. This form could easily be augmented with a message to that effect and a link to the libraries themselves.

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