Category Archives: Usability

Towards a practical digital library

Library bookcaseI started collecting digital content in the 1980s. Before that I was satisfied to print things out, bind them, and put them on a shelf. My graduate research produced about three linear feet of printed papers sorted by author. I wrote my first book mostly from printed references, though all the writing was online. When I started my second book, AuthenticationI decided to collect, catalog, and save my references digitally. I stored everything in a tree of folders, one per author, stored alphabetically.

My library now contains several thousand items, from Gutenberg ebooks to marketing brochures to technical papers. It uses over 8 GB of storage, including catalogs and metadata. I used to read classic fiction on Palm Pilots and early smartphones. Now I read everything from fiction to technical reports on a tablet, either Android or iOS. This environment poses a whole set of challenges. I’ve found some tools to make my library work, more or less: Calibre, OPDS, and DRM-free books.

My main objective is Get it Once, Organize it Once, and Read it Anywhere

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