Elected Bay Area Government Officials San Francisco Bay Area Governments Subject: Storage Capabilities of Electronic Media

/E-books Elected Officials: A recent communication about the “Hidden Costs of Public Libraries http://www.scribd.com/doc/58116815/Hidden-Cost-Of-San-Francisco-Bay-Area-PublicLibraries-And-Thoughts-About-Regionalization provided information about the size (in square feet) of many public library buildings in the SF.BayArea. This information also contained the number of holdings in this buildings. The three largest libraries, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland, all claimed holdings in excess of 1M items, while all of the rest claimed far fewer holdings. Given the high cost of construction of public facilities these days (approximately $1,200/sq. ft [with financing charges considered]), public officials should be fully appraised of the advances in micro-electronics, that have offered everyone a significant paradigm shift in the way that information is stored. The following table provides basic information about the capabilities of on-the-shelf storage devices that completely change the way people can, and will, store, and access information:
Average e-book size (in Bytes) 1TB Drive Cost (external) 1TB Drive Capacity Number of e-books/1TB Drive 25 GB Blu-ray Disc Cost 25GB Capacity 25 GB Capacity (in e-Books) 8 GB Flash Drive 8GB Capacity (in e-Books) 2GB Flash Card 2GB Capacity (in e-books) 1,000,000 $50 1,000,000,000,000 1,000,000 $1.00 25,000,000,000 25,000 $10 8,000 $8 2,000

Discussion The table identifies four different storage devices, and their costs—1 Terabye disc drives, 25 Gb discs, 8 GB flash drives, and 2 GB flash cards. Each of these devices has its place in the changing information ecosystem. Personal Libraries Putting aside the copyright issue for the moment, the table suggests that 1TB drives (costing about $50) could hold about 1M e-books (+/-). That means that a small town could acquire the important works that a public library is expected to keep in inventory, and give each home in that town/city a 1TB drive that would allow that home to have access to all the world’s significant literature. The contents of this 1TB drive could hold all of the school books that are required of students to read. For a town of 10,000 homes, the initial cost for purchasing hard drives would come to about $500,000 (plus small recurring costs). Certainly, the costs of maintaining a brinckn-mortar library site, with the ever-increasing cost of labor/benefits, would be much, much, larger, in comparison. Such a collection would require tools to help users search this “corpus” of literature/data, as well as to convert the books into a format that can be downloaded into e-reader devices (most likely e-pub format for the foreseeable future). This tool would be essentially a “personal library assistant”, possibly interacting with a back-end database (on a central library site somewhere) that could provide information about books that are not on the disc that might be of interest. (Such as books that can be found on the Google/Books or Internet Archive sites.) Smaller, Flash Devices The smaller, mobile, flash devices offer exceedingly cost-effective personal libraries for devices like personal computers, and e-book readers. Given the low cost, and extreme mobility offered by these devices, individuals would be able to carry significant collections of books, or other reading materials, with themselves, wherever they might go. Further, the costs of these sorts of flash devices are following Moore’s Law closely —capability doubles while cost halves, every eighteen months, or so. It will not be very long before we are seeing 100GB mobile storage devices in the $10-$20 range.

On-line Libraries It may be that 1M books is too small a collection for some people, so having a national digital library available for the whole country to use, would follow as a alternative to local libraries trying to manage small digital collections for their residents. In that case, it stands to reason that each town/city would be expected to subscribe to this national library (based on residents’ use). Again, whatever the costs of such a subscription, having access to tens of millions of holdings, on-line and available 7/24/365, would be a far more desirable situation for everyone in the United States, than the limited access to printed books that exists today. No matter what the subscription costs for US towns/cities, the return on investment to gain access to this national, digitized, on-line archive of US intellectual output would be worth whatever price is needed to operate this national library. (Links to Blade Servers are provided below to provide information about the kinds of equipment that would be needed to store digitized library collections.) Conclusion Given the high cost of building, and maintaining, brink-n-mortar libraries, as well as the increasing cost of operating these facilities, local governments around the US will all be examining these costs, and their options, in the coming years. Elected officials need to be fully appraised of the capabilities, and costs, of the many alternatives to the continued operation of their local libraries. This communication is intended to point out some low-cost alternatives of sifting the “ownership” of library holdings from the p-book domain, to the e-book domain, with some obvious positive benefits to the users—such as access to much larger collections of books/information than is currently available in the brink-n-mortar service delivery model. In this model, the vast sums paying pubic library employees to “move paper” (sorting, stacking, moving, books, etc.) is now spent on buying hardware for homes, and contributing to digitization efforts (locally, regionally, and/or nationally), that will over time provide a complete ecosystem of digital information for the residents of every American. Elected Officials—It’s time for a change. The ball is in your court.

Wayne Martin Palo Alto, CA

On-the-NET: Fry’s Hardware/Software Store: http://www.frys.com/ How Many e-Books Can a Sony PRS 505 Hold?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO6A4ABxkpQ 1TB Drives Can Hold Millions of e-Books: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ29P1l_Vog Blade Servers: http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/bladecenter/hardware/servers/index.html http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/blades/bladesystem/index.html

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