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.