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Virtual Book Tours Take Off at the JFK School of Government Library

On September 24, following a five-month planning and assessment period, the Library of the Kennedy School of Government (KSG)—in collaboration with the School's information technology group and Studio KSG (formerly KSG Media Services)—inaugurated a web-based program of virtual book tours. Featuring recent publications by Kennedy School faculty, center directors, and researchers, the tours, found at http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/virtualbooktour/, include video clips of individual authors, information on their books, links to related readings and web sites—many of which are suggested by KSG librarians—and online discussions. Virtual book tours are launched each week during the academic year. Spring semester tours begin on February 25.

The Virtual Book Tours are the brainchild of Anne Drazen, the Kennedy School's associate dean for information services, and they are a joint project of the three groups reporting directly to her: the KSG Library, the IT group, and the Studio KSG staff. KSG Virtual Book Tours are simple and efficient. Based on a strong web-templating system developed, in large part, by KSG reference librarian Suzanne Wones, the success of the program and the ease with which it was launched and with which it continues to operate is a testament to a powerful, thoughtful, up-front planning process. Weekly "hosting" duties—i.e., working with KSG authors on content, scheduling, and video production—are distributed across the library, IT, and Studio KSG staffs. Typically, two or three hours of work prior to the launch of an individual book tour are required from an individual KSG host.

A relationship with Amazon.com provides the KSG with access to copyrighted images and other materials. A link from each tour to Amazon promotes and enables the sale of books to tour visitors. If tour visitors purchase from those links, the Kennedy School receives a nominal contribution.

According to Ellen Isenstein, director of the Kennedy School Library, "The Virtual Book Tours provide visibility to the library. They also give KSG librarians a welcome opportunity for more contact with the faculty. Most important, they have given us an important role in helping KSG Dean Joseph Nye fulfill his goal of bringing the intellectual work of the School before a larger public."

Spring semester Virtual Book Tours begin on February 25. The first book featured will be Learning to Manage Global Environmental Risks, co-edited by William C. Clark, the Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy, and Human Development, and Nancy Dickson, senior research associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. For information, contact Suzanne Wones at 5-1304.

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Last modified on Thursday, April 18, 2002.