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My Saturday afternoon at ALA Midwinter went from the sublime to the sublime. First I got to hear Al Gore speak about his new book Our Choice: A Plan to Save The Earth — he was inspiring as always (if you find him inspiring as I do). He made some interesting points about the information and misinformation that has influenced the debate on climate change and the our responses to it. I won’t bore you with too many details, but one funny thing he said came in his discussions of the technologies that will bring about real solutions to the crisis. He went through the usual suspects: wind, solar, biomass, nuclear and then he said ‘there’s one other technology we need and that is one that removes CO2 from the atmosphere and converts it into something usable – and the good news is we have that technolgy now – it’s called a tree.’ And he went on to discuss reforestation.
The second half of my afternoon Saturday was spent in a focus group with Alexander Street Press. If you know their product, you know they are top quality and usually top dollar as well. I was asked to participate in a focus group on a new product called America History in Video. I had seen a preview of the product at ALA Annual in Chicago last summer and was eager to see more about it. About 12 librarians from a variety of instiutions were a part of the focus group. Some had trialed the product, one had already purchased the product and others, like me, wanted more information. The editor of the product discussed its purpose, development and content. She also showed us some of the amazing features: transcripts of all the spoken and subtitled words in the films, the ability to create playlists that include clips from any ASP product as well as links to other web content, and more. The development team had lots of questions for us about the kinds of content that might be appropriate to add to the product – unedited interviews, for example, that were later edited and included in PBS documentaries, for example. We were also asked for our opinions as to how they might move forward for a world history in video product. There were lots of interesting perspectives in the group and it was great to work with a company that was so knowledgeable about their products and eager to hear from us. The best news of all, however, is that I won us a year subscription to the product!! It has such far ranging interests that I think faculty from History, Political Science, Communication, Anthropology, American Ethnic Studies and other departments will find it extremely exciting and I look forward to what they do with the content!