Saturday, May 30, 2009

A new world indeed

Michael Stephen's article "Into a New World of Librarianship" had a portion which best sums up where I think our focus should be.

"Librarian 2.0 gets content This librarian understands that the future of libraries will be guided by how users access, consume and create content. Content is a conversation as well and librarians should participate. Users will create their own mash ups, remixes and original expressions and should be able to do so at the library or via the library’s resources. This librarian will help users become their own programming director for all of the content available to them."

I like this statement because it helps us focus on solutions for getting our content (books, programs, services) to "them" where "they are" and how "they" want it and letting "them" know they need and want it in the first place. Fine and dandy, you say. How can the library make people want and need our DVD's when delivery systems for movies are 1) growing in number, 2) part of a format war that will never end (heard of blu ray before 2 years ago?) 3) dispensed in ever convenient ways (inside Safeway for a dollar, Netflix for a few dollars per month, TV show episodes for free on Hulu), and we have limited hours.

While I don't have answers to these questions yet, nor do I think a consultant exists that can definitively say do this, this, and this and you'll be fine, I believe we need to start somewhere. Downloadable movies is a start. The resolve the "open hours" and "I want it when I want it" issues. Also, we will never know just what device people are going to choose to view or receive content and they have no mechanism or desire to impart that to us since the number of delivery and playback systems is exploding. So let companies do that dirty work (let them make products "everyone" can use) and we can spend our time finding creative ways to market/push the service.

Another point well made by Rick Anderson, in "Away from the Icebergs", is making our services easy to use for our patrons. "If our services can't be used without training then it's the services that need to be fixed--not our patrons." This has several consequences or meanings. One, library vendors wanting our business should take note of this and make products accordingly. Every RFP should have this grading element in it. Second, all of the 2.0 technologies are competing for people's time and attention; in this bombardment who will stand out? Someone with a quick and easy solution or someone who makes it a chore just to understand how to get started?

We've got so much to do; I'm going to grab a book and relax!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Technocrati is not about pulsing house music

Thanks for pointing out the basic and advanced search ability. While I love Hawaii I don't think this boat will help me further grasp 2.0

Advanced searching eliminated nearly all of this clutter and is a must.

For fun I took a peek at the list of the 100 most popular blogs. I've heard young people use the term "epic fail" and wondered what it meant. When I saw this blog, then, I had to take note; Being ever sensitive about the quantity, quality, role, and design of signage in the library I got a chuckle from this picture. Now, why was FAIL Blog #39 when searching under "authority" rankings and it was not on the top 100 list under # of fans? I guess the adage that by the time adults find out about something it is passe with the younger crowd. Lolcats was #22 on the authority list but #63 on the fan list--go figure. When I have more time perhaps I'll dig deeper to find out the algorithm used to get those disparate results.

Looking at the top 100 tags was interesting. I would think the free-wheeling nature of the tagosphere would lead to a variety of popular terms or more specificity. However, the biggest terms in the cloud were life, music, weblog, and news. I was buoyed by the presence of more natural language (as opposed to LC); people understand what "celebrities" and "nightlife" means and it has a universal meaning. I'm in the camp that tries to organize around words and terms people are familiar with; if they are to be independent searchers they shouldn't need to learn another "language."

Delicious' bad taste

They say you should never go to bed angry; maybe you shouldn't blog after getting beat down by technology either.

After seeing this (trying to add delicious to my blog):

job_name is the name for your posting job, which can be anything
out_username is the login name you use for your blog
out_password is the password you use for your blog
out_url is the full URL of the XML-RPC interface for your blog
out_blog_id is your blog ID number (which is probably 1 if you have only one blog)
out_cat_id is optional: the category ID number in your blog where you'd like to put these posts
out_hour is the hour (from 0-23 in UTC) to post your links at daily

or when trying to put the "social" in social bookmarking by adding button to my toolbar:

Installation denied: Abort, retry, cancel.

Maybe I'll give it another shot at home but for crying out loud if you have to work this hard to shave a few seconds off I'll pass. I don't need the hassle.

Here is what my hopes for Delicious are/have been/were.

While on the desk, roving during our new Model of Service approach, or being on SPL's new "Text a Librarian 24/7" desk from 2-3AM (I'll take the graveyard shift for awhile) I have a portable Internet device of my dreams in my hand. A teen mentions how much they liked Patterson's Maximum Overdrive books and now that school is out they would like a few recommendations. At this point I would pull up my Delicious account and search my tags for the perfect list of suggestions. I could zap them off to the patron's Blackberry or phone or laptop or take them to the shelf where we have the title.

So far I'm having difficulty finding out how to get to this point. I do, however, like a couple of things about Delicious. First, tags allow me the luxury of more specificity in categorizing sites than simple bookmarks. In the above example I could tag this site with multiple descriptions such as "series recommendations" "I need a new book to read" or "I'm bored and want a fast-paced action series". A bookmark folder named "Teen book reviews" is too broad. I would have to create several bookmark folders with specific names and put the same website in each folder. I prefer using multiple tags for one site. Second, I did a search on U2 and found a gem of a site. It contained a list of fan-written descriptions of the meaning behind many of their songs. Another site had the Biblical references in each of their songs. This filtering of sites is quite helpful and I am a fan of this tool.

For now I will redouble my efforts to create a better collection of bookmarks for my time on the desk. I'd like to have my Delicious account open when I come out to the desk; it is more efficient than "favorites" and doesn't require me transferring them from my office to the front desk, and vice versa.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How do you "Rollyo?"

A few folks have asked for instructions on embedding Rollyo into your blog. Try this:

1) On Rollyo's site choose "Dashboard" along the top of the site.
2) Next, select "Searchbox" down the right hand margin
3) Type in your site name (in my case "Stack of Stuff")
4) Paste in your Blogger blog URL (in my case
5) Copy the code that appears in the "Copy and Paste Code" square on the lower right
6) Log in to your blogger blog site.
7) Click on ‘Customize’
8) Select ‘Add a Gadget’ inside the ‘NavBar’ area.
9) Next, select “HTML/JavaScript” in the “Basics” area. I titled mine “Rollyo” and pasted the html into the ‘Content’ box.
10) Click save. That should do it.

Let me know if you have any trouble following my instructions or if I missed something.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rollyo news

Delicious and "favorites" are two things I've tinkered with in the past. Both have their drawbacks and limitations. Right off the bat it seems like Rollyo offers better potential as a reference resource than favorites or Delicious.
For patrons who don't want or need an all-inclusive search, just a compact list, this fits the bill. Another nice feature is the e-mailing of the link to your Rollyo. It beats writing down all the sites on piece of paper. Furthermore, once you are in a Rollyo and you do a search it mines the sites for specifics. In other words, if you are at the desk and you tell a patron about 'x' site and that it has book reviews inside you don't have to show them the button clicks to get there. Simply get them to the Rollyo, search for reviews, and voila the direct link to them is found. As an example, I used ALA's teen book section as a site. It is quite cluttered and full of additional links. Instead of trying to explain where reviews can be found just type in the search.

For fun, I searched for an existing Rollyo about U2 and found some sites I hadn't visited before. We always say there is no need to recreate the wheel; there is no reason not to take advantage of other's research.

Finally, in order to keep as much as I can in one place, I'm going to try and add Rollyo to my blog spot.

Have a great week.

Library Thing

My first reaction to this product was its ease of use; GoodReads tends to be a little clunkier. However, I was only able to choose books I'm currently reading or want to read. I found this a bit limiting because there are many books I'd like to tell people about; most of the titles in my catalog I've already read. In ease of use it definitely tops GoodReads; I can't transfer all my GoodReads material over smoothly or efficiently so a decison needs to be made.

I did a search on tags I used to see if my understanding of a tag's use matched others interpretaton. For the most part it worked surprisingly well. Voila, I had another list of titles to check out on the topic. Not bad.

"Members with your books" is another interesting feature; this is a good place to find books you would never find on your own or think much of. I liken it to the patron who comes into the library and looks on the 'recently returned' or 'waiting to be shelved' carts because there are bound to be books, of all stripes, on the cart that someone else liked or read.

I will have to test this out some more and see all its bells and whistles.

Image Generation

This was a fun exercise and I see some potential here for promoting library events or decorating your branch and having a blast doing it. Our new library card was found using an image search. I chose the 'motivational' template from which is quite easy to use. For this instance I just had to find the picture on the net and save it to my computer. Quite simple.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

RSS is not my initials?

A few years back, when working on the Public Services-IT group, I heard Cara Randall (now with the California Railroad Museum library) mention the idea of SPL pushing program, service, and new title info to our public. Alas, here we are. Try these for ideas.

I've used bookmarks and e-mail subscriptions in the past to organize my favorite websites. Unshelved, for example, pops into my inbox everyday. I have "Experienceology" bookmarked also. Now that I've played with RSS I can see some advantages and setbacks. First, I haven't looked at "Experienceology" in awhile; I had good intentions of checking it often but bookmarks can get lost in a long list of sites. "Favorites" take some organizing and a constant reminder to visit them. Second, Unshelved can clog my Inbox at times and I end up having to do more e-mail maintenance so I don't fill up.

RSS, then, takes the maintenance portion away somewhat and puts everything in one place. The trick, then, is to remember to log in to Bloglines to check them. Will I do that? Not sure. At the same time I'm cutting back on spending I'm also trying to not become the proverbial mouse in the wheel, or is that a hamster? One of my professors put our information consumption in context once. He said that the average person in the early 1800's could expect to read the equivalent of one edition of the New York Times in their lifetime. Now some people read that during breakfast while checking e-mails, their blog, their favorite Internet news site, and the book that is due tomorrow. Does that make us bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter? Or does it make us a tad nutty? I don't like feeling deflated or shorted because I didn't squeeze all this info in promptly.

What's my point? There is a reason, when people leave for vacation, that they profess a desire for no phones, TV, or Internet. We need a break from it; it seems no amount of "stuff" is enough or fully quenches that appetite.

I will place myself somewhere in the middle for now and I am glad SPL is trying to get the word out to people where they are about our new items.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

MySpace and Facebook

Hi 27'ers:

For some time I've maintained a Rio Linda Library MySpace presence. Lately there has not been the time or energy to keep it up. The new website changes made some links disappear or not have the same impact. Much of my enthusiasm for maintaining the site has dwindled or disappeared entirely. Thoughts of a Facebook presence for the library intrigued me since it seemed to be slowly overcoming MySpace as the place to be. Apparently MySpace is feeling the pressure to keep up as well.

Perhaps I'll keep an eye on what changes, if any, this will have on the resurgence of MySpace. Only a handful of patrons are listed as "Friends"; the majority are authors who are trying to get their product out there. This isn't the mix I was hoping for. While I've been able to get some prizes and goodies from authors to make Summer Reading more of an event than it already is, plus it is pretty groovy to have a famous author be your "Friend", beyond that I don't think there is much of a return in terms of program attendance or library use.

What have your experiences been with MySpace and Facebook? Do you have any design tips? Who visits your site? Have you given up maintaining them? Does your presence on social networking sites generate publicity, program attendance, and library visits?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lolcats, P.I.N.'s, and mashups, oh my!

My creation, originally uploaded by Spritle1.

Michael T. (who was helped by his knit and tech-savvy wife) showed me the ropes on using Flickr, mashups, and blogs. The instructions are a tad lengthy and clunky; if you call one of us we'd be happy to walk you through the process. This picture has a SPLL2 tag (by the way how will the wizards who check our progress know we've tagged these photos with SPLL2?)

Now, I know some of you may be inclined to remind me of the need for a spell checker. However, for those in the elite Lolcats club you know that lolcats speak their own language.

This was fun; I always wondered how people created these!

What could a library do with this technology? That's for another blog.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Flickr versus Photobucket

Before this experience I've never played with Flickr. I first learned Photobucket and it served my purposes. Flickr, at first glance, seems easier to use in that you don't need to decipher which "code" you need. Photobucket asks you to choose one of four code options; I always had to try each one until it worked. Grr.

Here is a picture from Friday Finale; I didn't include one our Friends entry into the Litttle league Parade since people were included.

I tried to use the URL from my Flickr account but that didn't work. I know that I can use the picture on my computer but I wanted to try Flickr's sharing ability. Well, back to the drawing board. I did add a SPLL2 tag to this picture.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easiest and Hardest habits

Easiest: That would have to be accepting responsiblity for your own learning. I won't say that I've never met a workshop I didn't like but you normally don't have to twist my arm when asking me to learn something new.

Hardest: Teaching/Mentoring others. When I learn a new skill or procedure it is usually mastered after a few repetitions. Maybe I'll make a word association out of the lesson to retain it. Sometimes I'll use visual cues to remember it. Fine and dandy. However, when demonstrating or replicating a lesson for someone else, who may not use any of the tools I use to learn, we run into a roadblock. Being a supervisor has, in some ways, forced me to look at explanations from many different angles until you find one that 'hooks' your listener. I'm still a work in progress.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Turning Gamers into Readers

Hi cyber co-workers:

Awhile back Lori Easterwood and Lindsey Wesson gave a "Gamers into Readers" workshop for all SPL'ers. Michael Thompson, one of RIO's LSA's, just finished "Epic" by Conor Kostick. It is a nice addition to Lori's list; the story is set in a futuristic world in which citizens all need to scramble and fight for any gains in a fantasy computer game. I'll add this to Lori's list; hooking gamers into books isn't that big of a leap after all. Thanks Lori!