Saturday, December 30, 2006
Soon after I created this blog, my life took off in lots of unexpected ways. My apologies for the radio silence. I hope to correct that moving forward, with the initial goal of posting once a week.
For now, though, I'm going to use this space to semi-blog the Internet Librarian 2006 conference. I say "semi-blog" because the wifi at the conference center is a) not free, and b) of unknown cost (because you need to type in your card # before it gives you a price). So, I'll use the free wifi back at the hotel and do morning summaries.
Day 1: Preconference Workshops
"Project Management For Libraries" was exactly the cure for the past week of uncertainty. In September, I started a class at a local college in Project Management and was almost immediately overwhelmed by all the involved arithmetic. Had I had more time outside of class to work on learning this stuff, I might have made it. As it was, I dropped the class last week and felt awful. Today, I asked the presenter about all the bits that frustrated me, and she told me in no uncertain terms that "there was software for all that," and that my professional judgment meant more. Yay, rah!
I took four pages of detailed notes that all boils down to PLAN PLAN PLAN (pause) EXECUTE EXECUTE EXECUTE Celebrate! But the how of getting there made this three-hour workshop fly by.
"Creating an Online Tutorial In 30 Minutes" was equally useful, but could have been half as long. Greg Notess reminded me of a friend of mine -- down to some of the speech mannerisms -- and was lovely to listen to, but he rambled more than a bit. He used Camtasia as his demonstration software, but the rules and suggestions for screencasting were applicable across platforms.
The possible uses for screencasting in public libraries are nicely varied, from "How To Use Our Catalog/Databases" to "Internet Basics" to "How do I download audiobooks?" Screencasts won't replace the text descriptions, but they'll help less-savvy patrons to go through the process the first time. They may also help walk folks through a subject search across a number of resources (catalog - database - Web).
The other thing this workshop decided for me is that I need to have a Windows box of some form of my own. A nubmer of bits of software that do the things I want to do (project management & screencasting among others) seem to have Windows-only apps. I'm also more familiar and comfortable with a Windows environment for file management. I know the new Macs have Intel chips and might work for me, but we'll see how the cost bears out.
In the past day, I've done a bit of soul-searching as well, but it's not quite at a point where I can share with the class. I promise, you'll see it once I've figured it out. This post was getting a bit long, anyway.
On deck for today: social computing, web-based outreach, user-centered experience, staff tech competency and a vendor reception. But first, breakfast.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Back in October, I attended Internet Librarian out in lovely Monterey, CA. It was a hoot, and I was asked by my institution to write up an article about what I heard and saw for the internal newsletter.
Internet Librarian 2006
Librarianship, as we know it, has shifted fundamentally. I won’t say “changed,” because the core of our work – providing professional & scholastic information, lifelong learning resources and recreational reading & activities – hasn’t changed. But there has been a seismic shift in how we provide those services. In October, I attended Internet Librarian, a conference now in its 10th year, to learn more about the increasing importance of online/digital library services.
The presentations I went to typically fell into one of two categories: ways to improve the public library’s presence in a digital/online environment; and tools and technologies that libraries are or could incorporate into their services.
Around the world, institutions are bringing "Library 2.0" to their communities. Moreover, these changes aren’t limited to libraries with piles of money and plenty of staff. The key is not resources, but attitude: making innovation, adaptation and change part of everyday work. These are libraries and librarians constantly looking for ways to improve service to all of their users – the ones who walk in the door and the ones who don’t. Mobile Services is reborn for the new era: rather than a bookmobile, we have the Internet, delivering library services to patrons around the world, free of charge, 24 hours a day.
One of the most inspirational things I heard at Internet Librarian was a job title: Digital Branch and Services Manager. A Digital Branch would start with our website and all of our electronic resources and then expand to push our presence further out into the online world, where our patrons are. Having a dedicated and supported Digital Branch would allows us to provide these services without overwhelming staff and would let us present a single, unified presence to the outside world. This is the kind of vision and commitment we need to have now.
What are these digital services? These are a few of the possibilities presented at the conference:
- a portal to invite patrons into our world of service, customizable to their needs
- all of our databases and electronic resources, prominently featured and widely publicized
- a user-friendly and interactive catalog, where patrons can enter reviews of materials and find things based on tags (user-created subject terms) and commonsense subject information
- blog-based book discussion groups for adults, teens and children
- instant-messaging (IM), text-messaging (SMS) and mobile reference, in addition to email and telephone reference
- new books featured on Flickr (a photo-hosting site), with direct links to the catalog for requests
- screencast tutorials on how to use our services
- interactive maps of all buildings, with virtual tours to make our main building less intimidating to new patrons
- Ecards for everyone, regardless of physical location, to have full access to our online services
- thematic booklists maintained on wikis, so that any librarian can update and annotate
a reference blog
- a monthly podcast from the library, featuring department, division and branch heads highlighting what’s new & interesting
- entries written by staff on an official library blog
- articles written by staff in online publications
- an official presence in MySpace, Xanga, LiveJournal and the other community-based blog sites
- classes, both online and in-person, on social computing technologies (e.g., blogs, wikis, Flickr, del.icio.us, YouTube, CiteULike, IM/chat, etc.)
- and ideas that haven’t been imagined yet
In short, there is a wide digital world out there that our institution has barely begun to explore. Many individual librarians here are comfortable with and knowledgeable about this technology, and see the future path of public librarianship in it, but now the time has come for our library as a whole to become the library our users want and need us to be.
Herein you will find musings on the public library life and librarianship in general, interesting titles in all media, and my exploration and thoughts about Library 2.0 and the future of libraries.
Comments and discussion are welcome, but trolls and flamers will be deleted without notice.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you in the ether.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Information. Knowledge. Wisdom.
The first is raw data, brought to us via any number of mediated connections to the world around us. Information in and of itself has no value, no judgment, no intrinsic worth. Just the facts, streaming in on waves of light, sound and sensation.
Knowledge is information that has been brought into consciousness. Knowledge is the information that any individual is able to ingest, process and regurgitate on demand or as needed. If you can't take in or spit out information, it's not part of your knowledge trove.
Then, there is wisdom. Wisdom is what happens with knowledge after we've taken a good long look at it from as many angles as possible. Wisdom has depth, resonance and longevity. Knowledge can fall out of memory, but wisdom tends to find the deep crevasses of the soul and stick there. You touch knowledge, and knowledge touches you back with wisdom.
I make my living by helping people find information. I organize it, manage it, move it around, determine good sources for it, write it down and eliminate it when its usefulness has passed. I'm currently trying to change the venue in which I do this, moving from a public library to the online world.
Right now, I deal in information. On a personal level, I have acquired a significant amount of knowledge. Now, comes wisdom, and wisdom is only achieved through reflection and dialog. That's what this blog is all about.
Since I'm testing my interface with this new site, I'm going to end here, but with a tiny bit of wisdom: If you've checked your harness, secured the cinches, checked in with your instructor, and prayed to the divine of your choice, when they open the door of the plane and point at you, it's time to jump.