Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Taming the Online Infoclutter presentation links

Just to have both versions of the presentation in one place:

Workshop for Boston Region

Cybertour from Internet Librarian 2007

One week of vacation and one week of holiday work seems to have added up to no posts for much of November. I guess I know what my New Year's resolution will be, eh?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Uh-oh, our cover's blown!

Apparently, IL2007 made WoWInsider: Librarians Who Play World of Warcraft references the WoW Ladies LJ community, which references The Librarian in Black's coverage of the WoW session at IL2007.

More citations than my reference class paper, but there you have it. One more stroke against the school-marm librarian image, dangit, and I must say that I'm pleased. In fact, tomorrow morning, I'm going to repost the following call:

For a long while, I've been wanting to do a calendar of decidedly non-traditional looking librarians: tattoos, motorcycles, dreads, piercings, non-natural hair colors, cosplay/costumers, funky geeks, eclectic hippies, thrill-seekers, etc. I've got some connections amongst Boston-area photographers (and assorted oddballs), but I'd like it to be as global as possible.

So, who's in? Who's willing to be seen as an antidote to the bun-and-glasses type? I'm not asking anyone to reveal parts of themselves they'd prefer to keep personal, but if you're truly comfortable flying your colors in public, why don't you think about it?

Let's say this will be a 2009 calendar, eh? Who's in?

Wednesday...and an attack of nerves

In theory, I was going to go to at least part of the two morning sessions, but the attack of nerves I inexplicably developed before my Cybertour short-circuited that. Which was annoying, because it meant I missed Mary Ellen Bates and Casey Bisson talking about their favorite and best topics. Rats.

The Cybertour itself went fabulously, with about 25 folks in the audience. A few came up afterwards to tell me how useful it was to get all of those organizing tips all in one place, which was the whole point. Of course, I managed to get the best feedback possible: "I really wish I could stay for your talk because it sounds great. Could I have your contact information?" Neat.

Remember, if you want to see everything I've done on the Infoclutter presentation, just click the tag over there on the right or follow this link. The slides are there, along with some ancillary material.

I did attend the afternoon sessions, but neither one was quite what I was looking for. (Here are the notes.) I've heard Chad Boeninger and Paul Rival both speak before, and their last session was a quick tour through the various free tech tools they use with their students. What they did that others didn't was a walk-through and demo of Jing, a downloadable multimedia snip-and-share program that seems like a breeze to use. It's definitely up high on the sandbox list for me, my copious free time of course.

The last session was originally about visual display search engines (neat!) but it was replaced by a lecture on meta data and topic maps. Interesting, but not what I was looking for.

And thus ended the conference. I hopped on the Monterey Airbus back to San Jose and slept the whole way home. Overall, it was a less heady experience than IL2006 had been, but in the year between I've gone from being amazed at what librarians are doing to being excited to see what I can help make happen myself.

But not today. Today I rest, and tomorrow...I'll see what comes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

IL2007 -- Tuesday presentations

A much better day of it today -- lots of fascinating programs and great speakers. And, to cap things off, an honest West Coast earthquake during the evening session! 5.6 on the scale, just north of San Jose. We felt a jolt, but not much more. My wishes for safety amongst those closer.

Here are today's notes.

First of all, if you can have Rebecca Jones come and speak to your senior management team about the importance of being a 2.0 organization, do it. She has an energy and a conviction about the process of being Library 2.0 that translates beautifully.

Equally engrossing, Meredith Farkas and Helene Bowers explained the ins and out of staff training via Library 2.0-type initiatives. As someone who's trying to be a part of such an initiative at my home institution, I paid close attention and got some excellent background thoughts. Now it's just time to turn it into a proposal and results.

In "I"m at Web 2.0, Are You?", Amanda Palmer of the American Bar Association outlined ways in which she enticed and supported non-tech-savvy folks into learning and applying 2.0 tools in their work. Given the potential audience for my trainings back home, this was vital information. As part of the same session, David Alsmeyer from BT Libraries went through the steps he's engaged in to reach an older, but already tech-savvy and well-educated population. After the session, I told him about my "Librarian with a Laptop" idea; it seemed to go over well.

The other speakers from today were less relevant, but interesting. Now, I must pack my bags and get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's presentation. More on this after the show!

Monday, October 29, 2007

IL2007 -- Monday presentations

Chalk it up to poor sleep or that cold I've been fighting off since last week, but focus just was not my friend at today's session. Nor was the wireless in the conference center that just kept falling off my Mac's radar. Sigh.

As a result, the notes from today are a bit spotty, but you can find them here.

Blending In: Librarians in the Networked Community with Chrystie Hill & Michael Porter
I think I thought that this would be a more in-depth look at how librarians can be an active part of online communities on an individual level, but it was more about how the library website/institution can be a part of their patron's local lives.

Putting Evidence-Based Practice to Work, Frank Cervone, Northwestern University
Glitchy network connections interrupted the beginning of this talk for me, then I realized that it just wasn't telling me anything I didn't already know about the importance of showing your work.

Information Literacy in the Public Library, Alan D'Souza & Carol Bean
I really wish I'd gotten to this panel on time, but my watch stopped working during lunch. (Not my day for technology, apparently.) The second half of the presentation was useful, discussing different ways to train tech trainers and to work with older generations.

Integrating Libraries & Communities Online, Glenn Peterson & Marilyn Turner, Hennepin County Library and John Blyberg, Darien PL
An in-depth look at Hennepin's Bookspace.org and the present and future of the social OPAC. Good, useful stuff.

Now, I'm off to dinner and an early night. Tomorrow, more presentations. Ciao!

IL2007 - Sunday Preconferences

Hi all! It's the beginning of the first full day of the conference, and we're about to kick things off. I just wanted to post my notes from yesterday's preconference workshops.

Training Adults: Getting and Keeping Attention
Rebecca Jones
Jones discussed the role of the trainer, different learning styles and ways of engaging these styles, dealing with resistance in the training session, and other challenges. I feel like this could have been a full-day workshop and it would have been more fulfilling -- Training 101 in the morning and 201 in the afternoon. However, I did get a number of useful tidbits from it overall.

Tips for Effective Change Agents
Roy Tennant
What an astoundingly useful workshop. Tennant covered the ways that change agents can work within their organizations, the attributes of change agents, coping mechanisms, dealing with recalcitrant staff and out-of-touch administrators, and more. The best thing for me was a checklist of tech and communication skills to work on over the next year:

Build a Basic Skill Set
- Know a programming language, just enough to do the basics of anything you want to do (Perl, PHP, Python, etc)
- Know a basic indexer and/or database -- MySQL, SwishEnhance/Swishie, others?
- Have a place to work -- laptop/home machine, a server if you've got access to one

Build Communication Skills
- Summarizing and writing simply (re-read On Writing Well)
- Ability to simplify and show practical applications for technical topics
- Create diagrams & other modes of expressing visual information
- Facility with basic office software
- Ability to speak IT language, library language, administrator language and plain English or whatever the language of your key users is


Okay. First presentation is over and it's on to the next room. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A quick note regarding my InfoClutter slides

To Gwen and everyone else who's tried to click through to my Taming the Infoclutter slides since I posted about the presentation on the 18th: I botched the link for the Google Docs presentation. It's now fixed and should be accessible. Please let me know if you have any problems.

That'll teach me to not check my links. I usually do. I blame the elves.

Internet Librarian, Ahoy!

Yup, I'm in Monterey at Interent Librarian.

Just for context, I'm sitting here in my first preconference workshop on training. I'll be blogging the conference, but I'll be doing summaries and highlights of each piece rather than a explosion of non-contextual information. I'll put all my notes up on a Google Docs page later on.

More later. But now, I mindmap!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

For my own record, mostly

Earlier this year, Michael Wesch (a professor at KSU) posted a video definition of Web 2.0 on YouTube: The Machine Is Us/ing Us. As a quick overview and discussion starter, it's absolutely perfect.

This year, he's done it again: Information R/evolution focuses on the change in organizational thinking and behavior moving from paper to digital media, creating a video explanation of Weinberger's Everything is Miscellaneous. I'm hoping he cleans it up as he did with the first, but right now it gets the point across.

Neat! I may have to download all of his stuff to watch and comment on while flying out to Monterey...on Saturday! Yikes!

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Home Institution in the News

It's lovely to walk into work on an unseasonably warm day and be greeted by excellent front-page coverage of my place of work:

Boston Public Library (and other libraries) move with the times. A focus on "new" programming initiatives to keep libraries relevant. Nothing genuinely new, but some good front-page publicity at any rate.

Libraries Shun Deals to Place Books on Web is a misleading title, because what they're "shunning" is the commercial deals. BPL and other libraries are choosing to go with Open Content Alliance over Google and Microsoft.

Mail Call!

And, while writing up the above, I received my complimentary T-shirt for registering as a presenter with PBWiki. That is neat in and of itself, but the T-shirt "was imprinted at Rebuild Resources, a place where men and women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction come to change their lives through work, hope, and courage." (from the hang tag)

Promoting a 2.0 resource and supporting socially responsible companies. Twice as much awesome and double the fun!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

InfoClutter is Tamed!

All right, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the first presentation of my "Taming the Online InfoClutter" workshop was a rousing success. Six librarians joined me for two jam-packed hours of RSS feeds, organizing schema and discussions of generational differences (computer generations, that is!). I had a lovely time and thus far all the feedback has been outstanding.

As promised, the slides for the presentation are here. I used Google Docs Presentation software and found it to be an excellent basic presentation tool. No, it doesn't have the bells and whistles of PowerPoint, but the ability to pull up my slides anywhere I can get net makes it indispensible.

Also, use the infoclutter tag over on the right there to find everything I've written on this topic. I've linked to a number of articles on optimizing your RSS reader and finding ways to cut through the noise.

Now, on to Internet Librarian and finding some way to take 2 solid hours and pare it down to 13 minutes...yikes!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More resources for InfoClutter

A great collection of articles on staying on top and organized.

Books Consulted (yes, really!)

The Personal Efficiency Program, Kerry Gleeson, 2nd ed.
Time Management for Dummies, Jeffrey J. Mayer, 2nd ed.
Take Back Your Time, Jan Jasper.
Getting Organized at Work, Dawn B. Sova, PhD with Robert Gregor.

Now that I'm up against the wire, that'll probably be it for new resources. On to the main event!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

PoliticalBase - a new take on wiki workings

Techcrunch reports that CNET founder Shelby Bonnie has a new startup: PoliticalBase. From the article:
"PoliticalBase is a structured Wiki that encourages research and debate. Users can edit most of the text but can’t change the underlying database structure. That allows the site to slice and dice data for comparison purposes (something that can’t be done with the free-for-all Wikipedia) but still gives the site’s community the ability to create and edit content."

Obviously timed for the 2008 presidential race, this would be a great resource to promote to our politically active and interested patrons. It's also a very interesting example of a seriously moderated wiki, where the content is available for editing but the underlying structure isn't. This allows the site maintainers to use stable pages for remixing information and efficiently comparing like things.

Fascinating tech development, useful resource and all-around neat idea. Let me know if you play with it and what you think, eh?

List of resources for Taming the Infoclutter

Somewhat random, but useful stuff. Also, a work in progress.

Do email and RSS just once a day: Generally useful and commonsense advice, Rule 7 & 8 are about RSS, and the comments are full of examples on how other people do it.

Firefox ticker addon: big distraction or useful tool?

Gain Insight into Your Reading Habits w/Google Reader Trends

RSS Brief

"Animal House style" it may not be, but the idea of a "Probation" folder for new feeds is neat.

If you're in a time-sensitive industry, sending your RSS feeds as an SMS message may be the ticket.

Priority vs. Content? Google Reader doesn't make you choose one.

7 Things You Should Know About RSS, from Educause.

Friday, October 5, 2007

IL2007 CyberTours list published

Here's the complete list of CyberTours at Internet Librarian 2007. (I'm down near the bottom, on Wednesday the 31st.) If you're at the conference, stop by and say Hi!

Monday, October 1, 2007

An eclectic moment

Yup, we love wading through Bloglines, we do. Here's a few of today's standouts:

So You Think You're An Expert Academic Librarian over at the ACRL blog. It's an analysis of a Harvard Business Review on 'being an expert,' as interpreted by librarians. Good for folks doing professional development/CE work.

Legal and Ethical Link Blogging": what looks to be an excellent primer on this topic.

Learn to Blow Your Own Horn, from the Performancing blog. It's targeted to bloggers, but librarians usually aren't the best at this aspect of their jobs, either.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Book Review: Library 2.0 by Casey & Savastinuk

I've been slowly chewing on Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service by Michael Casey & Laura Savastinuk and finally finished it this morning. As a review or primer, it's fantastic. It's exactly the book to hand to a senior administrator or library trustee who is willing to read it (=relatively open-minded about new initiatives). The authors explain the basics of Library 2.0 and describe the distinctions between the theory behind participatory library service (Library 2.0) and the technology that can support it (Web 2.0). The writing can be somewhat repetitive, particularly toward the end, but that might just be because they were telling me lots of things I already knew.

Many of the changes outlined in this book are things I've seen the beginnings of in my own institution. Service review teams that cut across staff lines vertically and horizontally; a verbalized commitment to openness and trust of one's staff at all levels; a recognition of the need for constant, moderate, moderated change; and more. All of these are components of Library 2.0 and are described in some depth. The final chapters on Getting Buy-In and Maintaining Momentum are particularly useful for those of us who are trying to push foward some of these changes and need advice for the next step in the process.

In short: a good summary for those already on the Lib 2.0 cluetrain, and a reasonable first book for the as-yet unconvinced. I recommended it to two senior-level managers just this morning, and their first response was to suggest that the whole management team needed individual copies. Rah!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Whither thou goest, librarian?

Ah, productivity. I'm so glad to find it again...

And yet, no posts in a month and a half? I guess the short answer is that I did find my productivity, but it largely played out in my paying job and not in these pages. Also, there's been a post brewing that needs out, and it's finally ready.

But first, announcements: In the next two months, I have three professional speaking engagements, two local and one at a national conference!

Tuesday, October 16th: I'll be presenting a two-hour workshop on "Taming the Online Infoclutter: Using RSS to Keep Current and Manage Overload". 10a - 12noon at the Boston Public Library, Training Room. Registration is through the Boston Region.

Wednesday, October 31st: On the last day of Internet Librarian, I'm giving a 15-minute Cybertour on the same topic. 11:30-11:45am in the Exhibitor Hall. (Yes, I'm speaking at a national librarian conference. How excited am I?!?)

Tuesday, November 6th: My second workshop for the Boston Region is "You Can Be the Expert: Helping Library Users with Basic Computer Troubleshooting," a look at how to diagnose what problem your patrons are having and what, if anything, you can do about it. 10a - 12noon at the BPL Training Room. Same registration link as above.

Next up, a post sure to raise some eyebrows and make you think. Ciao!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

As promised...it's August and I'm back

Hi, all. My thanks for your patience for the radio silence. But now, the show is over and I'm refocusing my attention on my blog.

To ease myself back in, I'll start off with a couple of links from Bloglines:

Headlines and hotspots in a just a Couple of Minutes. via LibraryStuff

Using LinkedIn productively via the Librarian In Black

You can find me on LinkedIn, by the way ------>

I've also added a couple of titles to the Squidoo list ---->

Ah, productivity. I'm so glad to find it again...

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Oh, one more thing. I finally made public the Squidoo lens that I've been working on:

Reading Outside the Library Box: useful stuff for librarians
You can get to it at any time using the "I Squidoo" button over on the sidebar there. ----->

It's very much a work in progress, but I've gotten enough up there that it's worth looking at. Go, enjoy, and if you have any suggestions for more stuff let me know.
From the Freakonomics blog, we get a great discussion about whether public libraries could be created today if they didn't already exist. I'm fairly sure I saw most of this article appear somewhere else recently, but the truly interesting discussion is happening (of course) in the comments. Arguments for and against libraries, but also a ton of information about what our patrons think libraries are for.

Neat stuff, and worth checking out.

By the way, the show I'm technical directing (and now stage managing as well!) opens on Thursday the 19th, and it's the last big thing that I need to be doing this summer. As hoped, it should mean some more down time for writing here. Thanks again for your indulgence on the silence, and I'll be seeing you soon!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

One post a week in July

Good evening, all. In a perfect world, I'd be filling this blog with poignant and useful tidbits of information and insight. Alas, this is not a perfect world, and my offline commitments have been eating all of my awake time (with a recent incursion by Desktop Tower Defence). I've barely been keeping up with my Bloglines feeds, let alone being able to post here.

Fortunately, the most intensive of my other roles will be over as of the end of July. I'm technical director for Theatre@First -- a local theater company -- and the show goes up in three weeks. Most of my non-work time is spent at the theater, in rehearsals or construction. I'm also attending a library leadership institute here in my home state, though that only lasts a mere three days.

So, for the month of July, I'm going to aim to have a post a week on something, even if it's just an interesting link. Come August, I'll go back to a more comprehensive writing schedule.

Thank you for your patience and tolerance of the low volume over here. I hope to bring up the relevance factor of this blog next month. Meanwhile, enjoy your summer!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Addendum to the last post

In my excitement and pre-caffeinated state, I missed something about Photosynth that should have been spectacularly obvious:

You can only run it on MS Vista or XP SP2. Even just the test drive.

Now, I am conflicted, to say the least. I've read about the somewhat broken nature of Vista, in terms of overenthusiastic security and DRM-type restrictions, but I haven't actually tried it out. I guess I'll just move into wait-and-see mode on Photosynth and its worthiness as a product. My institution is a Windows house, so it's probable that I'll get to play with it sooner rather than later.

It's frustrating, nonetheless. A cool tool, but of limited use to someone unwilling to buy (into) the OS.

Still here, still busy

Yes, I have been remarkably busy over the past few weeks. And, as I mentioned previously, I prefer to write articles worth reading rather than spamming your feed readers with links.

You see the problem here, no?

I'm not sure how often I'll be able to post in the coming weeks, though things seem to be slowing down a bit. For now, I just have to share this with you:

A TED talk with Blaise Aguera y Arcas on Photosynth, an astounding new photo tool.
"Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth (based on Seadragon technology) creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation. Its architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, shows it off in this standing-ovation demo. Curious about that speck in corner? Dive into a freefall and watch as the speck becomes a gargoyle. With an unpleasant grimace. And an ant-sized chip in its lower left molar."

Link via Nicole over at What I Learned Today.

The possibilities for using this in a library setting are obvious and then some. First and foremost, this is the new Microtext platform. Forget the clunky readers or unprintable PDF images. This would have perfectly served a woman who asked for an entire issue of National Geographic (heavy on the photographs and she wanted to read multiple articles); with Photosynth she could view the whole issue from the convenience of her home computer, rather than have to be "happy" with a badly scanned printout.

Second, it makes image collections useful in a whole new way. Make all of your image collections available online and overlay Photosynth on them, and every image you have of the Mona Lisa -- regardless of the physical collection it's in -- is immediately accessible via a large image map surrounding the original image.

Third, far more mundanely, our intimidating Main Libraries can be showcased using a comprehensive virtual tour that reduces patron confusion, because Photosynth will take individual pictures and accurately translate them into a continuous panorama. Using an intuitive, analagous interface.

There are probably many more applications, but I haven't had my coffee yet and I've got to get the day on the move.

I can't quite say I wept at the beauty of this tool, but I came awfully close. Watch the video and ask yourself: how can you use this tool to help patrons of your library?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Reactive vs. proactive. And as the rate of change gets faster, we're pushed further and further into reactive modes.

What am I blathering on about? I just had a patron call asking about Playaways, a not-so-new digital audiobook format. She wanted to know if my library carried them; I'd never even heard of them before.

A little searching online made me feel only slightly better. Playaways have been out since 2005, and Illinois was the first library system to pilot the format (second paragraph from the bottom). OHIONET has a comprehensive FAQ about them for its member libraries, while the Rocky River (OH) Public Libraries and the Larchmont (NY) Public Library are offering them to patrons.

I'll cut myself some slack: I've only really been closely following tech trends since late last fall, so I would have missed much of the brouhaha about Playaways. And yet, if I can miss a new technology such as this, how many other less-savvy librarians out there have missed this and more?

Yes, professional development is much on my mind, for personally professional as well as generally professional reasons. I just gave that presentation that stressed that we need to be "...aware of as much of the rest as we can." So now, I live true to my own words.

So....Playaways. Very neat, very tidy, no moving parts and easy to circulate. Easy also to lose and break in a transit bag, but that's no reason not to have them for the same reasons that we have books on CD and even still on cassette. If you haven't already checked them out, give one a whirl and see if it'll fly at your library.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A new vision of a book website

There's been a neat trend running around the 'nets recently -- low-tech presentations disseminated electronically. I've seen Post-Its TM, whiteboards, scribbled-on bits of paper and other real-world communication tools, captured by digital camera and incorporated into the design of a site.

Here's one promoting a new collection of short stories:

No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July. [link courtesy of my friend John]

I won't try to explain it...just go there and work your way through it. It only takes a few minutes, and what's most fun about it is the seamless way she includes Flickr-style hotlinking into the imagery. Fun, easy and so effective.

It's also compelling, because it embodies the 'Naked Conversation' envisioned by Scoble and Israel (from their book by the same title). This is a real person, showing us a bit of her real life in celebration and promotion of her newest work. There's no PR firm, no marketing push behind it. Just someone telling us about something she's done.

Of course, the next obvious question is: Where does this sort of thing fit in to library work? Is there anything beyond simply using it as a low-threshold entry into doing Flickr- or YouTube-based training? What else might this work towards?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Managing Online InfoClutter with RSS

[A note on these columns: I'm writing for a wide variety of technology comfort levels, and I've only got a standard side of paper to do it in, so I don't tend to get too specific.]

Professional Developments: Taming the Online InfoClutter – Using RSS to Keep Current and Manage Overload

At the May Adult Services meeting, I demonstrated how I manage all of the electronic 'clutter' in my life. As you might have figured out from my previous columns here, there is a tremendous amount of online information published about librarianship today. So far, I've discussed why and some of what we need to keep on top of. This column showcases one example of how.

Whether we get our information from library publications, major news outlets or one of millions of blogs, there are too many sources to keep track of. More and more of these info providers are going electronic, and the latest addition to many web pages is a small orange square with white lines. That square is about to become your best tool in managing infoclutter: it’s a link for an RSS feed of that publication or blog.

RSS feeds allow you to subscribe to the latest posts and articles from a variety of sources, bringing the information to you rather than you having to go find it. You can use a feed reader such as Bloglines or Google Reader or the news section of My Yahoo or My AOL to collect and organize your various feeds. Creating the account usually consists of following the step-by-step instructions; I've found Bloglines to be one of the easier systems to use.

After you set up an account, you can treat your feed reader just like an individualized newspaper. Each feed is a section, and the various articles are contained within. Click on the feed you want to read, then skim down the list of article titles and leads and decide which you want to read in full. I don't read half of the things that come through Bloglines, but I do skim them and pick out the occasional idea or tool to look up later. If you want to save something to read it more thoroughly at another time, you can mark it "Keep New." To save a post on a particular topic, you can create a Clippings file for that subject and Clip and save the post there. There are more advanced features, but these are the most useful ones.

As you start out with reading feeds, I'd recommend one of two paths: 1) choose just a few feeds and get in the habit of reading them, adding more as time passes; or 2) subscribe wildly, and unsubscribe from the ones you’re just not keeping up with. Once again, the important piece is choosing a system that works for you. This is all about your needs and interests, and no one else is going to tell you you’re doing it right or wrong.

As librarians, we know how much information exists in the world, and we know that we can’t possibly keep up with it all. So the goal is to know about the things that interest, motivate and compel you, and to be aware of as much of the rest as you can.


Yahoo’s explanation of RSS feeds

A very comprehensive tutorial from Wizard Creek consulting

"Librarians Keeping Up and Making Time" by Emily at the Library Revolution blog

My Bloglines account, for one organizing scheme and blogs to read. If you'd like more information, please feel free to get in touch with me.

Free, online RSS readers:
Google Reader – works through a Google account
NetVibes – a more sophisticated customizable 'start' page
Yahoo Pipes – like NetVibes, but works through a Yahoo account

Friday, May 25, 2007

What is Library 2.0?

Over the past three months, I've been writing a column called "Professional Developments" for my professional staff association. The first column made it into this blog back in March, but I never posted the second (from April). I'm remedying that now, and will follow up with May's piece when I finish it.


Professional Developments: What is "Library 2.0"?

Hello, all. This is the second installment of "Professional Developments," a (hopefully) regular column on the hows and whys of keeping current in librarianship. Enjoy!

Back in January, the Boston Region announced a special series of continuing education courses titled "Library 2.0: Using Social Networking Tools to Meet Users Where They Are." The workshop topics included MySpace, wikis, Flickr, blogs, tags, RSS feeds, Second Life and more. With luck, many librarians were able to attend these presentations, because these tools are the fundamentals of a different way of interacting with the World Wide Web: Web 2.0. Static websites, email lists, bulletin boards and databases are usually considered to be Web 1.0 – information comes from a central source and is directed out at thousands or millions of users. Web 2.0 is much more interactive, full of sites where people can have discussions on different topics or write reviews of places and things. In addition, users can create their own content, filling the Web with their interests, personal stories and conversations.

If you're noticing a theme, you're not wrong. Web 2.0 is all about interactivity, about a constant discussion between involved parties. Companies talk with their customers, people talk with each other, experts talk with dedicated amateurs – the most important piece is that the conversation goes in both (or all) directions, all the time.

Library 2.0 takes the same principles and applies them to library service. By engaging with our patrons, both in person and online, we can find out what they think of us and include them in designing library services and tools. Yes, we've always done this with suggestion boxes, in-person conversations and advisory boards, but the tools available on the Web make it easier to reach a larger audience than ever before. Most importantly, the Web is one place where we can find the people it's been hardest to talk to: the people who've never walked in our doors. Through review sites, blogs, news feeds and online advertising, we have access to the eyes and ears of thousands of non-library-users. As an added bonus, these same tools let us interact more intimately with our current patrons, too.

Every day, something new is published about Library 2.0. I've found these articles, books and reading lists to be good starting points:

Library Journal article on Library 2.0:

"Into a New World of Librarianship" by Michael Stephens

"A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto" by Laura Cohen, Academic Librarian in Syracuse

The Learning 2.0 program at the Public Library of Charlotte/Mecklenberg County

An interactive reading list on Library 2.0 at Squidoo

The Long Tail, Chris Anderson
Naked Conversations, Robert Scoble & Shel Israel
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, Don Tapscott
Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service, Michael Casey & Laura Stavastinuk
Library 2.0 and Beyond: Innovative Technologies and Tomorrow's User, Nancy Courtney (June 2007)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

One quick link

My apologies for the radio silence, all. Life -- both professional and other-commitment related -- has gone completely off-the-charts-busy in the past few weeks. I've barely had time to breathe, let alone commit thoughtful words to the screen.

Tonight's no different, but I've got to share this one:

Copyright and fair use, explained using clips from Disney animated features. The amount of work that went into this is astounding, and while it's hard to follow, it's fabulously done.

Found via Boing Boing

Saturday, May 5, 2007

MLA blog post roundup

Well, I was afraid that the double-posting would fall apart at some point. Instead, here are links back to all my posts on the MLA Conference Blog. The conversation is already starting there, with some good comments.

I highly recommend reading through the whole blog, or searching the categories that interest you. Twenty bloggers posted more than 100 posts in three days; it's an amazing source of information on what happened at the conference this year!


Technoschism: Reorganizing and Restructuring Libraries for the Real Future (second keynote with Stephen Abram)

Tiny Tech: How to use technology sensibly in small libraries (Jessamyn West)

Meet the Millennials: a group interview facilitated by Stephen Abram


Future of MARC: the Challenges and Opportunities of 21st Century Cataloging

Perspectives On Liberty: a panel discussion

[I lost my post from the "Meet Your Youth Services Consultants!" panel due to battery issues. I'll post the link here when I've re-created it.]


Equal Access Libraries in Massachusetts: Meeting the Needs of Youth, Older Adults, Boomers and Health Consumers through Community-Responsive Programming

Radical Reference: Community Librarianship and Free/Open Source Technology

"Is Reference Dead?" A Round Table discussion

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Future of MARC -- Dr. Bill Moen

[I missed the first panel this morning, which was on the future of cataloging. I think this was a sufficient replacement. Eye-opening.]

Future of MARC: the Challenges and Opportunities of 21st Century Cataloging
[Eventually, the link to this presentation will be on the MLA Conference website]

  • "We need to be adding value through our practices....We'd better be saving people time and money."
  • "We need to be meeting the needs of our users.
  • Less focus on the methods. Our methods should be invisible and unobstructive. How can we take our structures and hide them, but not hide the power that they provide?

There's nothing wrong with thinking in terms of market share -- that's our reality. We no longer have a lock on the target market that we used to. We have a limited set of resources that are availble through our catalog, and now users can see how limited they are compared with everything else that's out there.

What do we mean when we say "MARC"?
Record format, as defined by ISO 2709/ANSIZ39.2, & structural elements of the format -- this is going to go away and be replaced by markup languages
Metadata scheme -- defined by MARC 21 and fields, subfields, indicators and their semantics

Approaching MARC's future:

Requirements for a record format/metadata scheme
Goldsmith & Knudson's Requirements:
Granularity -- how fine a detail can you get to
Transparency --
Extensibility --

Roy Tennant's Requirements (slide went by too fast)

McCallum's 10 Format Attributes
  • XML
  • Granularity
  • Versatility
  • Extensibility
  • Modularity
  • Hierarchy support
  • Crosswalks
  • Tools
  • Cooperative Management
  • Pervasive

Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR)
Produce a framework that would provide a clear, precisely stated and commonly shared understanding of what it is that the bib record aims to provide information about and what it is that we expect the record to achieve in terms of answering user needs.
Based on Entity-Relationship modeling (work, expression, manifestation, item / persons, corporate bodies)
An important part of the FRBR report was the focus on users & user tasks: find, identify, select, obtain
If bib records are not supporting user tasks, what's the point?

FRBR is introducing new vocabulary and a new understanding of the items we catalog. We're seeing the implementation of these ideas in new library catalogs.
We currently ask our users to put up with a lot of noise, lots of individual record, rather than letting them actively drill down with limited choices

Responding to recent developments
No AARC3; Resource Description and Access (RDA), which are more guidelines on content creation, and have separation from syntax or record format

Library Systems and Data Formats (wiki) -- grassroots efforts to look at

  • Essential in library applications
  • Variety of metadata schemes
  • Variety of functions and services supported
  • Increasing use of machine-generated metadata - there aren't enough catalogers in the world
  • Role of handcrafted metadata needs continuing review & assessment

These are not threats to the livelihood of catalogers/TS librarians. There's plenty of work around, but they have to change the approach to handcrafted metadata -- where's the value added of that hands-on work.

Looking at empirical data
The cataloging record you create is an artifact that reflects decisions, policies and choices, and can be investigated to see patterns and needs.
Catalogers create metadata that can be very rich (MARC).

There had never been a study before of exactly how catalogs actually construct MARC records and what they actually do. So, Dr. Moen did one.
There is a *lot* of redundancy in the records. The 80/20 rule holds: 4% of fields/subfields accounted for 80% of occurrences, 96% of all fields accounted for 20% occurrences (where occurrence = data in the field)

MCDU Project -- Reports containing results of analysis of utilization, commonly used elements
OCLC gave them the entire WorldCat as of May 2005, so they're working from the whole dataset
82 hours for a script to process and load the records as MySQL and 258 GB = mad data set
Millions of book records
Categories of Questions: General profile of the dataset & actual numbers of occurrences
167 fields used
14 fields accounted for 80% of all occurrences
21 fields accounted for 90% of all occurrences
110 fields occur in less than 1% of all records
"656 a:" occurred in 1 record of out 7.5 million. Why?

They also looked at field/subfield combinations. They keep finding a small core of elements that are commonly used -- are these what catalogers should be focusing on? Is this what the machine-generated cataloging should be focusing on?

Making Sense of Numbers
Not interpreting the value of an individual fields, but looking at patterns and larger recommendations/guidelines. Comparing the data to FRBR user tasks.Is there a common core of elements that are used? Is there a threshold below which things just aren't used so much?

Are library catalogers providing data to support FRBR tasks?
In MCDU dataset, only 59 fields/subfields (13% of total) occur at or above the threshold of use in OCLC book records.

Questions for consideration
  • What is needed in a bib record? Are catalogers working too hard and creating stuff no one uses?
  • Support for four user tasks? In the context of FRBR, what does it mean to support a user task?
  • How can we use metadata for effective management of information resources?
  • How do your systems use the infrequently used data? What about the 62% of all fields used in less than 1% of records?
  • Can we argue persuasively for the cost/benefit for your existing practice?
  • Should the focus be on the high-value, high-impact, high-quality data in a few fields/subfields? Can we identify these? What would it mean to costs of cataloging to focus this way? What would this mean for training new catalogers?
  • Can MCDU results inform your local practices?
  • What metadata scheme will we use? It won't be MARC.
  • [missed one]

Confluence of change -- all of this data and the realities of life now mean that change will happen. It's just a question of when and will we be prepared?

Is the next study a look at which fields users are using? Is this useful to know? What data about how users search is useful? There have been a lot of studies done of how users search in the Search Engine world; how do these translate into the library field?

[Jenn sez: There are a lot of stunned heads in this audience. As a non-cataloger, I'm hoping this hasn't just caused heart attacks throughout the room.]

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Meet the Millenials -- facilitated by Stephen Abram

Meet the Millenials – Facilitated by Stephen Abram

2/3 girls, 1/3 guys, ranging in age from 12 to 16, all from the local Junior & Senior High Schools.

The classics are back, in a large way, and most of these kids are finding out about this stuff online.
Creating techno on computer & textures/layers stuff in SecondLife

MySpace or IM?
Kids are still talking to kids in person
"Scrapbooking, except on computer"
AIM, in person, on the phone
Jabber, IRC (personal server), AIM
Use AIM for homework

Planning Saturday night
Gotta be in advance, but friends plan late
As it comes along, last-minute
Phone, IM, yelling across the street

"If the internet is down, I go to the library"
Savvy – understands that you need to double-check information
Yahoo, Ask (preview function like Snap), Google
Different search engines bring up different websites
Don't like Wikipedia because it changes ... "the words that were supposed to be there"
Anything you want to find is there – but sometimes they don't provide a quick summary
Too much dialogue and not enough information
Sparknotes – not instead of reading but to get more out of the book
Google as a fact-checker
They're still using books, don't give up on it yet
Books can be faster

The kids mostly told us what we wanted to hear, but I think they were telling most of the truth – which was that they're citing things and not just copying and pasting.
Automated citation sites:
KnightCite -- http://www.calvin.edu/library/knightcite/
Son of Citation Machine -- http://citationmachine.net/

Checking multiple sources
  • They do it. They rely on multiple sources – 'whatever ends up in the most places is obviously the right information.'
  • They eventually go to the library, if they can't determine validity themselves.
  • Not looking at the details, but the main points to compare sites. [Hmm, that could be a bit unnerving.]
  • .edu or .gov means an educational/governmental institution and they're more reliable
  • Names you recognize – NYT, Boston Globe, TimesforKids.com, cia.gov, Enchanted Learning, "organizations you heard of"
  • Use an odd number of sites so you don't have a split vote

[I really wanted to see some more urban kids on this kind of panel. I know why they aren't here, but I'm sure we'd be hearing some different answers from city kids.]

Last book you read for fun
Maximum Ride, first & second books
Princess Frog, Secret Language of Girls
Hardy Boys
Hidden Life of Otto Frank
Enchantment: Life of Audrey
Dispatches from the Edge
Virtual Light
Pillars of the Earth
"can't remember" – They just don't get it : how Washington is still compromising your safety, and what you can do about it, David Hunt
Shade's Children
Where do they get it?: Friends & family, library (public & school)

Talk about the library
Southbridge – very organized,
Junior high library – stickers for organization, quiet & easier to think
Senior high library – the books are ancient and there's no selection
They go, but sometimes it's not as much fun as they'd like.
**Kids can tell when an institution puts money into the books; they are paying attention to this stuff**
A few of them were overdue in a serious way, so they can't check out books. No fines for kids, perhaps?
Lots of kids buy their books, the ones who blow through books get them from the libraries

Where do you get your books?
Barnes & Noble

[The Second Lifer kid does steampunk avatars; I'm so excited!]

PS2, Xbox, GameCubes, Wii (Prince of Persia, Twilight Princess, Zelda)
Desktops -- WOW ("my dad plays and he's at level 35"),
"Second Life is more of a metagame"
NetStorm, "Evercrack"
Call of Duty 1 & 2, Medal Storm
Star Wars MMORPG
Sports games & racing games (girls & boys)
Still playing PS1 games
Nintendo DS (virtual pet games), SuperMarioBrothers
GameBoy (car games)
Sims (its the creation that's the fun)
2-week lifespan on games [here's a perfect lending opportunity!]
Solitaire on the computer
SuperSmashBrothers Melee
"I have to be active" -- so she likes games that get her up and moving

Better off, the same or worse off than your parents?
Dealing with being without your parents
Not necessarily better off, but you want to be in a better place
Wants to have her own business in interior design
Depends on what your parents do: dad's a prosthestist & mom works at UMass Medical Center
It won't matter: I just want to do the things that matter to me, "I want to be happy"
Geography: wanting to stay near parents
"Whatever, as long as I'm not homeless"
Make a lot of money, hopefully doing what I want to be doing
"Population is going too fast, so there won't be enough jobs for people. I'm hoping I can just work."

[It took to the end of the one and a half-hour session to get to the poop joke.]

Lots of votes for not being part of any party because they're all flawed
More important to see what ideas help us, makes our country better -- "It doesn't matter who comes up with it, or how much it's going to cost, just how much it's going to help us."
"I can't tell the difference."
"Colbert Report" and "The Daily Show" are the #1 & #2 shows for millenials.

About half YouTube watchers

Is the world going to be a better place?
Darfur - there's no stopping it
Environment - global warming
"One good thing about being a pessimist: you're always right or pleasantly surprised."
People are going to be just fighting to survive
They hear the information from parents, email newsletters, news, school
Fire In the Sky - Heinlein
Normal dinner conversation
Daily lives / scheduling
What did you learn in school?
What's going on in the world and what your opinion is about it.
Current events

How many kids actually have family dinners? Once or twice a week, almost every day, once every few months, holidays,

If we got rid of overdues, would you use it?
"You'd never get your books back"
It might be good to have it like Netflix: no fines, but you can't get the next one until you return the first one
More time to get through a book so you can actually finish it.
If there's a book you want, someone else might still have it and then you can't get it.
What about paying fines with credit cards? Research

Every single one of them has a phone

What can we do for you?
Can you increase the diversity of books?
More scifi
Wider selection of movies
Electronic books - text-based, not audio
Less technology, more human interaction
Historical novels
Cafe ("my mom told me to say this")
Brighter colors
Age-appropriate sections

Tiny Tech -- Jessamyn West

Tiny Tech: How to use Technology Sensibly in Small Libraries

[Follow the link for the visuals from the talk]

Tech for small libraries can be as much about attitude as it is about the technology, or the lack thereof.

What is the real problem? Is it the tech or the attitude of librarians towards the tech?

"We're not good with computers." People have this perception that because they can do it, it's got to be easy. If they can't do it, it must be hard. No, it's really that computers make you nervous.

"IM shows you your friends can't spell.
Blogs show you that your friends are dull."

It's not about knowing everything about computers -- it's about a reckless amount of confidence and about knowing how to use the "help" function.

Search for the error message in Google/Ask/Yahoo and I'm sure you'll find the answer.

Question boards translate well into an online format.

Search for these blog posts:
"2.0 No-brainers for public libraries"
"No-tech 2.0 no-brainers for public libraries"

Offer a map -- look at your library with new (2.0) eyes.

The library is not just the walls that make up the library. The interactivity of web-tools makes

Email got destroyed for kids -- too slow, too spammy -- but still used by your patrons over 30. So have it and use it.

Choose your people to go with your tools. [Jenn sez: you don't need to have every librarian doing everything; play to individuals' strengths and interests]

Have umbrella/generic email address that can be redirected to individuals, and changed as needed. Use bounce-back messages to thank them for using your services and give them any additional information that may be useful.

Teach classes on getting and using email. A simple class, nothing fancy, the things you can do without thinking. This helps people want to go back to their library and makes them feel like they can learn new things at their comfort level.

Instant messaging (IM)
  • IM is useful to talk to the 'kids' but also by increasing number of adults. [Jenn sez: my mom (age 60) uses AIM to talk to my baby sister and me]
  • (BPL was used as an example of the problem of using 24/7 Reference and having non-local people answering local questions)
  • Meebo.com (web-based IM client) and MeeboMe.com (allows you to place a Meebo box on your website)

Blogs, wikis, RSS -- "It's a box; you can type in it."
Blogs -- rotating content, regular doses of links, commentary and discussion
-- use it to have an easily-adaptable/changeable section on the front page of your website. Allows for a higher level of interactivity with your patrons.
RSS -- read more blogs, faster
Wikis -- online tools for collaboration whatever, editable by anyone [data]
-- stick your town's homepage URL in your town's entry in Wikipedia
-- use it for in-house or public use

Social Software: the new hotness
  • A less dorky way to network, no matter what your age is.
  • MySpace (all ages, really), LinkedIn (business networking, good for consultants), LiveJournal, Facebook, Friendster, Flickr, etc.
  • All of these places give you an opportunity to interact with people (your users/patrons) as people.

Other People's Projects -- Open Source software
Free and redistributable
You can get support for some systems, but not others.
Karen Schneider says, "Open source is free like kittens." You'll always have to spend $$$, but you don't have to just be sending money to some company somewhere.
Use Ubuntu (free OS), OpenDocs (free document software), Firefox (free browser) and other free software to provide service to your users.

Mashups and open APIs
Application Programming Interface (API) allow folks who know how to code to create new web tools using already existing tools.
Use something like Google Maps to show where your library locations are, embed that in your library web page.
Every picture on Wikipedia is copyright free to use as you will.

Connect people
Libraries can provide free wifi for a small cost every year

You're not going to get the true technophobes to love technology – don't try to force him to. Match skills/interests to job requests.
The low-end options aren't going to put you out in the cold. They might save you money that you can spend on other things (like books and candy!)

Technoschism: Stephen Abram

Technoschism: Reorganizing and Restructuring Libraries for the Real Future
Stephen Abram, Sirsi-Dynix

Slow change? My eye.
[While the technology rebooted, we discussed Google and how search engine optimizers manipulate the hits you get. News to me, which is sad. Must learn more about this.]
Library core skills is not information - libraries improve the quality of the question and the experience
Information Ocean, not highway. Exploration space, not a collection space.
We must be about more than the books, we must be about the entire experience.
"We librarians have to learn when we study something to death, Death was not the original goal!"

  • Epaper & eReaders withfullsize screens
  • Light-based keyboards & fullsize monitors
  • Projectors the size of sugar cubes
  • June 2007 - every cable and phone wire will have switched over to broadband
  • iReader
  • iPhone & other full-service phones (G3 standard)M/li>
  • Web on a credit card
  • Everything is getting smaller - we need to get there in the first wave

We can't teach people to flush....how are we going to teach them Boolean logic?

  • Advice #1: Go XML for Dominant Personal Services -- XML senses the device and changes to fit
  • All that matters is: Community, Learning, Interaction -- he collected stories to create personas and there was no overlap between the stories the librarians told about what was important and what the users said was important
  • Intention Paths -- is your library website a closed Swiss Army knife? Make sure that your website information such that it works
  • You can't make it too simple

  • Advice #2: Understand JSR168, Portlets and RSS
  • 250 million books go online in the next five years -- what then? A chapter and paragraph-level economy on books, and how do we integrate ourselves into that?
  • Get our heads out of the book -- books aren't at risk, librarians are at risk
  • Get realistic about the role of reading in electronic environments

Stephen really serves Google, but only in the way of enlightening us. If half of what he says is true, Google knows all.]

  • Advice #3: Geton the OpenURL and FedSearch Wagon -- give yourself and your users search options that don't harvest your information in the process of helping you search
  • Let Google do the Who, What, Where, When questions. Librarians can focus on the How and Why questions. Let librarians focus on their specialties and expertises and promote themselves, let them become experts.
  • What librarians do best is context management, not content management

  • Advice #4: GPS & Broadband: Deal With It, Act Local?
  • Google knows where your users are and can tailor their services to the local level.

  • Advice #5: Be ready for advanced social networks
  • Are you ready for Web 2.0/Library 2.0?
  • Libraries are about communities and environments, not single-functions like the social software
  • We need to create environments and provide information that delight our users
  • We need to have a discussion about this, not about making OPAC suck less
  • Use del.icio.us and wikis to share and preserve the knowledge of reference libriarans

Get your texthead to nexthead: What is your strategy for dealing with the death of DVDs, CDs, cassettes, etc.?

Types of learners: experience learners, visual learners, audio learners, text learners. How do we support the full range of learning, of learning styles?

  • Advice #6: Get social
  • BiblioCommons -- Canada's answer to all of this.
  • We have an entire generation socially networking for life. We need to be out there -- facebook.com seems to be one of the strongest contenders.
  • Ning.com has a Library 2.0 group.
  • ActiveWorlds and SecondLife virtual worlds getting thousands of questions a night, -- there is a huge library presence: teaching, answering questions, book discussions.....everything that we do in Real Life we do there.
  • Magazine Content, News Content...it's all becoming social. How do we insert ourselves into the social content map?

  • Advice #7: Get political
  • Become an advocate in all the places that we are being social
  • These millenials will be voting on our bond issues in the next ten years, we NEED them

  • Advice #8: Reorganize
  • E-learning
  • Information Commons
  • Learning Commons
  • Community Integration
  • Reference Cowboys
  • Virutal Operations and Branches -- your virtual visitors are completely different than your in-person visitors

  • Advice #9: Get Conversational
  • Instant Messaging reference *works* -- Thomas Ford Memorial Library gets 50% of their total reference through IM
  • Cha-Cha
  • IM is better than email for reference

  • Advice #10: Increase our HR ability to adapt
  • Everything is a toy...play with them -- we learn through play
  • Use the PLCMC Lerarning 2.0 model as a structure to play in
  • "information literacy" courses are like "ugly salons"
  • Use the same list as a checklist of things you can do
  • The culture of the library changes as this happens
  • Build a petting zoo in the library so that the public can learn to play on these technologies

Brains have changed in millenials (3rd shift in brain mapping). We need to shift our ways of providing services to match their brains.

SchoolRooms -- built based on reports on how millenials think. User-centered design.

Are you ready for Imagineering the Library? Are we ready to be the purple cow?
It's the staff that distinguishes us from the search engines? People live in the foothills of the information ocean, and libraries can be there.

Change for our users in the context of learning and community.

[Wow, Stephen Abram is wonderful. I'm glad I've finally gotten the chance to see him speak.]

Where's Jenn?

Hi, all! For the next three days, I'll be blogging from the lovely Sturbridge Host Hotel, home of the 2007 Massachusetts Library Association Annual Conference.

As you can tell from the lack of posts, life's been a bit busy lately, mostly with non-library stuff. I'll go into more on that in a bit, but for now, I just wanted to set the stage for the next series of posts.

I'll be double-posting, both here and over at the MLA Conference Blog, so you can follow along wherever you choose. I'm one of a dozen bloggers here (another six are sitting at tables around me) posting to the conference blog, so you'll have a variety of opinions and observations to choose from.

Thanks, much, and here we go!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A quick post for the spiders

You know, most people stop posting while they're on vacation. I haven't had time to post since I've been back!

That said, all is well here at the Eclectic Library. There's a post on Twitter and one on experience planning at the library on the back burner, but they're not quite toasty yet. For now, I offer this:

G. Kim Dority only has 3 subscribers in Bloglines, and that's a shame. She only posts once a month, usually a very insightful column in support of her forthcoming book on LIS careers, and it's always worth reading.

This month, she has an astounding column on LinkedIn and the use of social software for career networking. Dear readers, whether you're a librarian or not, read this article and follow those links. Your careers will thank you.

But now, to close the library and enjoy the lovely warm weather.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"Librarian" video by Haunted Love

New Zealand-based Haunted Love has their first video up on YouTube: "Librarian". I'm a bit torn, as to be expected. They trot out all of the usual librarian stereotypes ("I want to wear glasses ever-y-day"), but they add an almost Secretary-like vibe to the idea. The exposure is good, but I still want to see the video featuring librarians on motorcycles, with tattoos and blue hair. There's the promotion to catch a few new faces in the profession.

A fun vid, regardless, and one worth the four minutes. Enjoy!

via The Laughing Librarian

25 Types of Blogging

While poking around SlideShare, I found this set on the 25 Styles of Blogging. I thought it would be a useless bit of fluff, but skimmed through it. Turns out, it's a good quick introduction to different approaches to blogging -- particularly useful for someone who wants to get into this writing life but isn't sure what the focus of their blog should be. I'd recommend using this for Intro to Blogging classes or as a reference link.

SlideShare as a whole is worth checking out; it's essentially YouTube for slide presentations. Neat stuff.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Suggested reading list of non-library books, Part 1

Over the past few years, I've been reading a number of books that aren't library-related, but have had a major impact on my ideas on librarianship. Here's a suggested reading list, somewhat annotated and in no particular order:

Books I've Read
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell. Ah, the book that started it all (at least for me). Reading through Gladwell's theories on how information and popularity pass through a population woke my brain up and got me rolling. I may have been late to the party, but I'm trying to make up for it now.

The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida. Near as I can tell, the members of the Creative Class are the folks that we are losing as library patrons, year after year. They're connected online, they want experiences over "stuff" and they are want everything as close to now as possible. Florida gives us a good idea of who we're dealing with and how we might best serve them.

The Elements of User Experience, Jesse James Garrett. His primary topic is website design, but his theories on what makes a good user experience apply to what happens every time a patron enters our environment, be it online or through bricks and mortar. A short, quick read.

Naked Conversations, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. This is a seminal book on the increasing expectation of transparency from businesses and organization on the part of customers. Through blogs and other social computing spaces (review sites, etc), organizations have an opportunity to interact with their users in ways that will make everyone happy. Scoble and Israel explain why; Michael Casey and Michael Stephens will be explaining why it's specifically important for libraries.

Ambient Findability, Peter Morville. To quote the FatDux: "A fabulously eloquent work that describes, questions, embraces, and exposes the tools and techniques we use to gather inspiration and wisdom in our brave new world." Exactly that. Also, a short read.

The Long Tail, Chris Anderson. I was mentally writing up the blog posts about this book as I was reading it. If you read nothing else, make sure this one ends up on the nightstand. With consortia and larger systems growing and resources diminshing, the principles of the Long Tail should have a serious impact on how libraries approach obtaining and maintaining their physical resources. A vital read.

Books I Haven't Read....Yet
Everyware: the dawning age of ubiquitous computing, Adam Greenfield. FatDux: "Adam Greenfield has graduated from “information architect” to “messiah.” Here, 81 theses, in seven sections, proclaim that traditional computers will disappear. In the future, info will appear, as if by magic, when and where we need it. We like the title."

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Henry Jenkins. The website for the MIT study group.

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. The website for the book

Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell. For completions' sake, really.

And, just in case you're looking for some more technical stuf, check out the FatDux list of books.

This is just Part I in a series, mostly because I don't have all my (paper) lists in front of me. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Link soup morning

I've had a stack of links sitting in Bloglines for a while. Seems like today's a perfect day for Link Soup:

Quick, to the Book Cave! Having a 'cave' in the middle of a bookshelf wasn't quite what I thought that would be, but it's a fun idea, particularly for a teen reading area or a home library in a loft. Neat. (via LibraryStuff)

The Village Voice deconstructs 'the most popular song in America right now.' Any time Venn diagrams and flowcharts are used near the words "fly" and "hottt," you know it's going to be good. (via Seth Godin)

I've got an entire post on this topic brewing, but for now, here's one entry in the "If Libraries Don't Do It, A Business Will Do It For Us" category: LibraryThing for Libraries. I'm a fan of LT, though not a user so much, but things like this scare and thrill me at the same time. LibraryThing functionality on our stuffy library websites and online catalogs. Brilliant, but why didn't more of us come up with this on our own? (Hat tip to Hennepin and Charlotte-Mecklenburg County)

Also from LibraryThing: Will Libraries Die? Our competitor/allies are thinking about these things, and so should we be.

Finally, one from Walking Paper: The Future of Reading. References an Economist article and poses good questions about the future of books and libraries. Neat.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

NEASIST Usability Mini-conference

In a previous post, I referred to a resistance to professional development on the part of my colleagues. Because I try really hard to act congruently with my words, I attended a local full-day conference on Website Usability during my vacation from "work." Hah.

NEASIS&T: Designing Usable Interfaces at MIT was worth it, though. Fun and fascinating thoughts on website usability, presented in digestible one-hour chunks. I'd heard of Steve Krug and Jennifer Tidwell before, but Holtzblatt was a happy surprise.

Karen Holtzblatt from inContext spoke about context-centered design. First of all, if you can have her speak at your organization, do it. She is a dynamic, focused speaker who spoke to the New Yorker in my soul and made me laugh out loud. A lot.

Context-centered design is most of what we think of as customer-centered design, with the added emphasis of observing the customers in their natural habitat. One of her main points was exactly that: User design supports or extends the user life practice. Figure out who your users are and what they are trying to achieve: "Design for the intent, not the use." Once you have the intent and purpose clear, the system you create to allow users to do that will spring from those starting principles.

Steve Krug spoke next, blending the concepts of his book Don't Make Me Think with the notion that usability testing is like dieting – we all know we need to do it, but we don't for all sorts of reasons. Usability testing might seem scary, but a streamlined process is remarkably easy to implement. He's currently writing a how-to book on bare-bones usability testing, meant to be done by anyone during the process of developing a site.

Last up was Jennifer Tidwell, author of Designing Interfaces. Where Holtzblatt and Krug focused on the process of usability testing and designing from the 30,000 ft view, Tidwell got into the nuts and bolts of using graphic design elements to make looking at and using a website easier for users. She discussed gestalt principles and preattentive visual features and their applications in site design. (Warning on that last link; big picture under the cut) A good dose of practical application after the slightly more theoretical presentations earlier.

After a short break, two of the three presenters came together in a panel discussion. The panel wasn't convened to discuss a particular topic, just to answer audience questions. While it was interesting, it was less focused than I could handle after a day of thinking.

It's a great day full of fun stuff I need to process. There's stuff here to apply to librarianship in general, not just site design. But that will be the next post.

Monday, April 9, 2007

No, they didn't teach me this in library school

From Library Journal news:

Chris Ward, former assistant director of the Salt Lake City PL,
gives the most thorough description of and insight into the relationship between the "chronically homeless" and libraries I've ever read. I had to stop after the first half; it was too much to take in one sitting.

Required reading for library school students and anyone working in a public library.

N.b.: I currently work for a branch of the Boston Public Library. This article is spot on, and applies nationwide. Yes, even where *you* live.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Personal responsibility and professional development

Over in the Liminal Librarian, Rachel Gordon has a pithy post about personal responsibility on the part of new librarians. The last few sentences sum it up nicely:
If we're going to continue to remain relevant as a profession, we need first to take personal responsibility -- for remaining informed, for building something that goes beyond ourselves, for moving forward in our careers. Our institutions are nothing without their people; our profession is built from our multiple and ongoing contributions to the field. It's difficult to be proactive in moving ourselves or the profession forward if a sense of entitlement and a belief that we are subject to forces beyond our control permeates our careers.

Rachel is discussing this sense of personal responsibility from the perspective of newer librarians, regardless of age. I've had a growing frustration with more experienced members of our profession who hold desperately onto the idea that "all that technology" has no relevance to good librarianship. In fact, I've been thinking so much about this idea that I submitted an abstract for Internet Librarian on "Making Them Care: Demonstrating the relevance of Library 2.0 to staff and management"

What I find most ironic about this resistance to learning about new technologies -- or even new ways of doing this work that don't require something electronic -- is that libraries have been trying to position themselves as "the people's university" or "a place for lifelong learning." How can we claim that title if the professionals providing support for that learning don't keep learning themselves? Particularly about tools that are becoming increasingly pervasive in our patrons' lives, and our own?

I've often felt that I, as a 30-something librarian with nearly a decade in the field, straddle the fence between the techno-evangelists and the reluctant adopters. I see the benefits of slow transitions to new technologies, of not running off hare-brained after every fad. But I also see where willing ignorance and the inability to see why this is important are keeping us from serving ever-growing numbers of our patrons in the best possible way.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

All flyers should go to 11

The Librarian in Black pointed me at this flyer from Rochelle Hartman. I've got a more in-depth post about cell phones in libraries rattling around in my head, but this will do for now.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Off the New Books shelf

As I pull items off the New Books shelf and relegate them to the dark abyss of the stacks, there are titles that cry out for continued special treatment. I haven't read them necessarily, but they catch my eye. I may throw up a Shelfari account for these soon, but here's a book log:

Fair Use, Free Use and Use By Permission: How to handle copyrights in all media
Lee Wilson; Allworth Press, 2005 (okay, it was new to our building)

Niche Envy: Marketing discrimination in the digital age
Joseph Turow; MIT Press, 2006

Idealized Design: Creating an organization's future
Russell L Ackoff, Jason Magidson, Herbert J Addison; Wharton School Publishing, 2006
Reverse engineering as long-range planning device: figure out the ideal result for your organization and then work backwards on how to get there. Fascinating, but I don't have time to read it right now.

[By the way, my original thought for this blog was to share profound, in-depth considerations of librarianship both digital and physical. Which means I'm posted bi-weekly. So, time for the filler to start, with this post.]

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why do I need to know this stuff, anyway?

Back at the end of February, Michael Stephens was visiting my institution, talking about The Hyperlinked Library. In the middle of a whirlwind presentation, he posed a question that’s been burning my brain for a long while:

Is one of the purposes of a library a place where folks can come in and learn more about the technology in their lives? Do we all need to be knowledgeable about the tech?

Let’s break these out, and reverse them:

Do we all need to be knowledgeable about the tech?
In a word – yes! I discussed all this in a previous post but that’s a bit long and rambling. How about a list:
  • Librarians still have the reputation of knowing everything. This is one of our greatest assets and one we can’t afford to lose. When we can’t answer a question about "the tech," we lose part of that reputation.

  • More of our patrons – and a more diverse grouping of them – are asking us questions about computers and technology. Everything from "How do I apply for a job at Home Depot?" (no paper applications any more) to "What computer should I buy?" to "How do I send photos of my grandkids to my sister?". Nowadays, those questions include blogs, wikis, Wikipedia, Flickr, handheld mobile devices, iPods, digital cameras and more. In order to answer those questions, we need to know even a little about all of it.

  • The days of "you’ll have to ask our computer expert" are over. Technology has permeated our patrons’ lives, in ways too varied to list. Having just one person on the staff who’s "good with technology" limits our ability to serve all of our patrons in the same way that "You’ll have to talk to the Children’s Librarian." does.

  • Also, since the "computer expert" in a smaller building is typically a librarian or library assistant who happens to understand tech, they’ve got plenty of other things to do. Answering basic technology questions should be something all staff in a building can do.

  • Similarly, having this knowledge means that each of us can educate our patrons and help them find information and answers to their queries, both through workshops and in-the-moment training.

  • Speaking of which, much of what we're teaching patrons is how to use our own library’s electronic stuff! Online catalogs, electronic databases, downloadable audio/video, library blogs, social computing-enabled OPACs, instant messaging and web-based chat reference, new book shelves on Shelfari, newsletter RSS feeds and more – we need to understand how to use this stuff before we can expect to teach our patrons how to use it.

That’s quite a list, and I expect to be adding to it over time. The point is, there are now too many compelling reasons why all staff in a library building – not just the one or two more 'tech-savvy' folks – need to understand current technologies.

Okay, question #2:
Is one of the purposes of a library a place where folks can come in and learn more about the technology in their lives?

Again, it seems that the answer should be a resounding YES! because libraries are the keystone to lifelong learning, the cornerstone of a democratic people. People should be able to come here and learn about computers in the same ways that they learn about philosophy or biology or French.

But we don’t (typically) teach philosophy or biology or French in our buildings, other than in special programs and events. So why this focus on teaching technology? Why have many libraries taken on this role with an almost religious fervor?

I'd guess the chain of events started with the switch from card catalogs to OPACs, from the Periodicals room to database terminals, from Date Due cards to heat-printed receipts. The tools that libraries used for some of their primary functions – information retrieval, circulation of materials and cataloging – entered the computer age, and computers entered our libraries. As first computers and now the peripherals (MP3 players, digital cameras, scanners, thumb drives, etc) have spread through our culture, we’ve bought the books and some of the devices and made them available to our patrons. Just this moment, a parent came and asked if we had any educational software for children (PC-based, mind) available for loan. He fully expected it to be here, because other libraries have it to offer.

It only follows that we need to be able to explain how to use the things we offer. When we started carrying LPs and then cassettes, patrons asked us questions about the players and used-vinyl stores. VHS, CD, DVD and now MP3 – if we carry the usable product, we must know something about how to use it. Why would we offer things we couldn’t help patrons to understand and use?

Now, it’s all of the stuff I’ve mentioned earlier in this post, stuff our patrons use to a greater or lesser degree in their lives. And, with offering that stuff, our patrons still expect us to be able to explain it. More importantly, they have “librarian” fixed in their heads as a person who can help them make sense of the ever-increasing whirlwind of information and expected ability to figure things out. We created this expectation, perpetuated it by being able to answer their hardest questions time and again, and now they’re coming to us asking about the Web and email and online forms and so much more.

So, yes. I believe that all of the staff in a library should know something about the technologies that our patrons encounter, at least enough to ask good questions and find out what the patron doesn’t know yet, or get them started with a basic understanding that they can explore further on their own. I’m really not that savvy of a technologist, not compared to my husband the network engineer or my friend the software developer. But as long as I know enough about how email works to find the attachment buried at the end of a forwarded message, or enough about how firewalls work to explain why ours is on the fritz, or enough about online shopping to help a teacher find 24 copies of an out of print book...that’s part of being a good librarian.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Moleskine City Notebooks = Travel 2.0?

Yeah, I'm not thrilled with the "2.0" appellation, but it has a purpose as shorthand. That said...

Moleskine has new City Notebooks, with about two dozen European and North American cities represented. Basic specs for the London notebook are:
  • Metro map + station index
  • 36 pages of zone maps + street index
  • 42 blank pages
  • 96 notched (tabbed) pages for your city file
  • 32 detachable sheets (think large postage stamp size)
  • standard expandable pocket
  • 12 translucent sticky-topped sheets
  • three placeholder ribbons

The brilliance shines through in the details. The detachable sheets each have "London" printed in small type at the bottom for quick reference. The translucent sheets are meant to overlay the map pages, so you can trace walking itineraries. There are six labeled and six unlabled tabbed sections, with a separate sheet of tab labels (most blank, some pre-printed categories). All of this in a slightly thicker-than-normal pocket Moleskine notebook. Genius.

Of course, they took their inspiration from genius....
"For every traveller who has any taste of his own, the only useful guidebook will be the one which he himself has written."
-- Aldous Huxley

Here's the product details, with current and future cities available. The starred ones are due out this spring. Also, the Moleskine page has a list of retailers carrying the City Notebooks. If you travel often, or are planning that One Big Trip, I recommend acquiring one.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Smart debating tool

DebatePedia is a wiki meant to support and provide a forum for actual, reasoned debate on current events topics. I've poked around a bit, and it looks like a fascinating space to play.

For instance, the Same-Sex Marriage section seems like a solid start to the published opinions presented on the topic, as addresssed through a series of subquestions.

This would be perfect for an older high school student -- I'd show them this and the Opposing Viewpoints database we have accessible through our website, then ask them to compare and contrast the material provided through both of these sources and see if they consider the results to be well-rounded.

I also pointed this out to my husband, an inveterate debater. No answer from him yet on the coolness factor.

(I found this via one of the blogs on my soon-to-be-added blogroll over there. Check 'em out!)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Library as CoWorking Space?

Note: I am trying to post more regularly, but still life happens. Ah well, at least my average is up!

Here's one to stretch and reinvigorate the public concept of libraries. Today, BoingBoing featured this article from BusinessWeek: Where the Coffee Shop Meets the Cubicle: Co-working facilities blend the appeal of an independent environment with many of the advantages of the traditional office.

Essentially, co-working facilities are fully-equipped small business spaces rentable by the day or month. You get a desk, power, 'net access and an array of small business machines at your disposal, but also a space to interact with and network with other entrepreneurs just like you. The newest facilities have cafes, lounges, hammocks and conference rooms, all open to any renter.

I thought of this concept myself a few months ago while busily tapping on my laptop at my favorite coffeeshop, but now I'm seeing it through the lens of the librarian. Why can't a library building that has a good focus on business materials not also offically offer their space to small business owners for meetings, conferences and daily work areas? We couldn't ask for a direct fee (non-profit public status and all), but perhaps encourage a business-level membership in the Friends group?

Some libraries have a specific injunction against businesses using their space for for-profit activities, but how do we define those activities now? What about the patrons who are buying and selling over eBay during their one hour of computer time? Why can't I offer the person who comes in and asks me to help them extensively with business research -- effectively using me as a corporate librarian -- a space to meet with a client, or comfy places to do work via laptop. We've got the huge pipe to the 'net and the photocopier; why can't we take it one step further?

In the report from the Urban Libraries Council, (big PDF file) there's an entire chapter on "Small Business Support Through Public Libraries." The concluding paragraphs directly address the need for space and informational support:

Public libraries should identify and support the specific business information needs of area micro-enterprises, as well as developing partnerships with local technical assistance providers.

I don't have answers to these questions, but I'd love to hear thoughts on the matter.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

33 Reasons Why We're Still Here

As a follow-up to my previous post, here's 33 Reasons Libraries and Librarians are Still Really Important by Will Sherman (via many, many sources). What's fun is that Sherman is writing for students, reminding them of what previous generations of Americans seemed to know from birth: that libraries are important, useful things.

Absolutely worth the time to read through.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why Do This Thing We Do?

There's been quite a pause since my last post, mostly due to personal life events taking center stage in my free time. However, my resolution for the new year was to write at least one entry on this blog per week; I'm only five posts behind so far.

My thoughts this week have been focused on Why? Why am I in this profession? I will spare you all the incessant omphaloskepsis that usually follows such a query and move to a better one: What are the parts of public librarianship that excite me? Why do I care, and why should anyone else?

For the past year or so, what's excited me is the technology. I'm not a technoevangelist in the ways that Michael Stephens or Beth Gallaway are, but I do believe the ever-increasing pervasiveness of tech is a trend that can't be ignored. Librarians still have the rep of "knowing everything" and that's one of our greatest assets right now. We're still relevant because folks believe that we know a little bit about it all. However, for many (and not just older) librarians, technology is only a step removed from magic in its esotericism. We can't afford to remain ignorant in this way, not any of us. No, we don't have to have a comprehensive knowledge of CSS, RSS or AJAX, but we need to at least know enough to find the right shelf range for more information, or to purchase the books that our patrons want to read.

Patrons come in and ask us questions: How do I fill out this form online? How do I save my resume to this flash drive? Why can't I connect my laptop to your wireless? Do you have any books about MySQL? A good reference interview means that we use creative questioning and our own experience to determine what will satisfy the patron's needs. How can we do that if we have no context? Worse yet, how many patrons do we lose because they decide in one interaction that we can't provide what they want from us?

At another level, having this knowledge ourselves means that we can educate our patrons directly, through workshops and in-the-moment training. A gentleman who has come to me a few times asking for NY Times articles in an electronic format was astounded to learn that a free web-based RSS feed aggregator would push content to him, and he could choose what to keep and how to organize it. I walked him through setting up a Bloglines account and sent him off, perfectly happy that I'd given him the tools to achieve his goals more efficiently. I satisfied his larger need, rather than just answering his question.

Technology also has the potential to expand our reach far beyond the limitations of our buildings. I touched on much of this in my article about Internet Librarian, but it's only becoming more obvious to me. Last week, I explained to my boss what purpose email reference serves, and refined this thinking through a later conversation: as a distance-reference tool, IM and email work perfectly in tandem. The patron begins the interaction through one or the other mode, then the librarian can ask clarifying questions in return. IM provides a more streamlined experience in this regard, but it can be done with a few well-constructed email messages as well. Sarah kept asking: "Well, why couldn't she just come into the library and ask us?" Time, travel, sloth and lethargy – all of these are reasons why, and all of them are valid.

I will now state that I am not one of the doom-sayers who believe that the library is obsolete, or even in serious danger. However, in some very fundamental ways, what our patrons want from us and expect us to be able to provide is changing, and the longer it takes our profession to react, the more we'll have to do to catch up.

One thing you'll notice about my blogging style is that I tend to work things out as I go along. There will be more on this idea, but in the interest of freshness, I'm hitting "publish."