Friday, August 14, 2009


Reflections of... the way web's gonna be
Reflections of... the stuff you're teaching me...

OK! OK! Deadline tomorrow! Did I do everything?

Blog! That would be this thing!
Flickr, mashups, and image generators! Way too much fun to be work!
Blog readers and RSS feeds! A dizzying amount of news in 20 seconds!
Facebook! Now suddenly a new essential part of my life!
Ning! Well, I looked at it.
The IM monster has eaten my laptop! I have now taken an advanced class on Twitter at the NTRLS conference so I can learn more on how to use it effectively!
Tagging - electronic subject headings for folks.
Delicious - favorites follow you everywhere.
DIGGing for treasure and finding fool's gold.
Librarything - free school library catalog.
LibWorm - interesting information about the library profession I am not actually allowed to read at work. But I can Twitter and Facebook. Really silly.
Wikis - A Wikid encyclopedia and I can do it, too!
GoogleDocs - free word processing and powerpoint for everybody!
Itube, Wetube, we all scream for self-expression on Youtube!
Podcasts - beats a tape recorder any day. Now teenagers can be sillier for a much larger audience.

And the crux of the matter - developing the 23 things at my library. Well, now let's think about practical applications for the future. What am I going to use professionally, what am I going to use personally, and what am I going to ignore?

Our profession is changing, dramatically, and the way people access information is changing dramatically, too. There was a time when librarians were the only people who could find any information about XYZ topic, hidden away in a huge tome that most people did not even know about. We read books. We listened to albums, but the chances of publishing content ourselves for the enjoyment or edification of others were slim.

Well, the question is no longer about finding information for people. They can Google it. Now, the question is about finding the RIGHT information for people, for sifting through the mounds and mounds of twaddle and yammering and scams to determine what is accurate, what is pertinent, and what is valuable. It's also about empowering our patrons to use the Web to their fullest advantage, rather than just playing games or checking out dates on Myspace. It's about publicizing our own services in way that people might be more likely to see them. The possibilities that arise from this exercise:

I could make a blog for my library in which I have inserted links to the NYT Bestseller List on the side. On that blog might be a podcast in which I tell a story. In the meat of the blog we might show a youtube video of the performer who came to the library last week - or will be coming next week! Then we advertise the class we will be giving on writing your own resume using GoogleDocs next month, and we add that we've got a twitter account and will be passing along updates on all these events as they come up, so follow it! I've got tags to all these things linking them to my own library, and I tell all my professional colleagues using Facebook and Ning. Then, just to insert some humor, we have the Mashup of the Day, featuring a tongue-in-cheek "motivational" poster or a funny photo doctored like my Attack of the Rogue Mutant Hair.

Librarianship. It's not just about book circulation anymore. Once we were miners, searching for a rare substance - information. Now we are trying to tame a valuable beast - information run rampant. We've got to either learn and use the new tools to harness this power, or risk becoming obsolete.

Thanks for the new saddle and bit.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


So I tried downloading Google Talk. Twice. It told me I had downloaded it, but it would not let me run it. Then I tried Yahoo messenger, and that worked. It completely took over my computer, actually. It changed my home page, it tried to add every person I've ever emailed as a chat budddy, and my computer firewalls tried desperately to remove it several times. It's an extremely aggressive application for a function I see as minimally important, and I am not very happy with the results. I succeeded in placing chat contact requests only to those work collegues that I know are doing this same workshop as I am. However, it also send a chat message to my own yahoo address.

As I type, I am getting regular popup messages saying that there's an application that is still arguing - by the minute - with yahoo over what my home page is going to be and it's getting very distracting. I think it is becoming extremely clear to me why the Fort Worth Public Library system would not allow us to download this mess on our work computers.

I did get to sign my own home yahoo address up as my own chat buddy, so while it might be kind of a dull conversation, at least I have now experienced what it looks like at both ends.

Like I have said, I've used chat before. I think it's a tedious, slow way of saying unimportant things in an inarticulate manner. I can't think of any work-related thing I do that would not be better served by a phone call or email, and I can't think of any personal thing that would not be better served by Facebook.

And I now can no longer control Yahoo on my laptop. Grrrr. I'm going to delete this once I've finished the course.

Edited: I talked to my husband about IMS, and he says yahoo's just an aggressive one. They use IMs a lot in his office because they feel it's a less disruptive way to send somebody immediate information than a phone call. He's a programmer. Two people have now added me to their contact lists and I think I can honestly say I have completed this application. I have one Thing left.

Catching up with Podcasts and IMs

Today I took a day off and spent some time working with applications that were either impoIssible or impractical at work. I listened to several podcasts. Denver Public Library uses podcasts to retell folktales; I found a folktale I was able to hear it very clearly as I cleaned house. Cheshire Public Library has a podcast that is a teen culture magazine. Loading it was time-consuming and quite difficult. I had to try to do it twice. Once I got in, I discovered it was run by the teenagers with that library. The young hosts introduced a girl who interviewed C. Leight Purtill. I had to play the podcast back three times before I was able to understand the name of the author or the book being discussed. This was followed by a chorus of tone- deaf teenaged boys who have apparently been Rick-Rolled one time too many, and a satirical piece in which several boys argued the existence of ankles. A girl gave a book review, and then a young man read an original story. Then came original poetry, and some fairly creative credits.

I think this is a creative use of podcasts, in that it gives the young people an opportunity to contribute to the website of their library system. While the quality of the contributions was understandably inconsistent, it sounds like a good and easy way to provide programming for teenagers. It sounds more work-intensive than expensive, too. This can be duplicated.

Podcasts from the Infopeople Project in California give a forum for Michael Cart, who has several pods about graphic novels (will girls ever discover them?) and for George and Joan, two librarians who give lectures on various different topics. The one I listened to was called "One for the Heart", in which they talked about what their professional code was an what they valued in the profession and the tasks they see ahead in providing services for the future.

Podcasts seem to be pretty interesting. How to get people to listen to them?

And now, there is only one application I have not tried: IMs.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Developing 23 things

Well, I see how close I am to being done, and I feel a bit frustrated because I am not sure it will be professionally feasible for me to make the August 15 deadline; I can't IM and I am not willing to do podcasts at the reference desk. Too loud. So I guess I'll have to try to do these on my own time, like libworm.

On to the next question: how might I develop the 23 things in my own library?
There are a number of things I could see doing if we had the resources and legal permission.

- We can use Flickr to keep photos of library events.
- We can teach public classes on how to make mashups and image generators. Teens might find it quite fun. We could even have contests. It might be something we could teach other youth services librarians at a staff meeting and turn into a system-wide competition.
- I think the potential for turning GoogleDocs into a program for both teenagers and adults is extremely good. I see this being a potential required job skill in the foreseeable future.
- I took a workshop on digitial storytelling a year ago, and I see that dovetail into the use of youtube to create an interesting literacy event for older kids. This could end up using several of our things. How would it be if we had the kids register for bubbleshare, or Joggle? Then we had them open up a Flickr account. They go off on their own with their little cell phones and digital cameras and come back with photos for their Flickr account, and then create a story based on the pictures. Some of the pictures might include mashups, lolz, and other manipulated images. They create the videos, and upload them onto youtube. We then publish the results on our library blog.

The possiblities are endless - but unfortunately, the resources are not. It might be hard to reserve that many computers for so long anywhere but at the Intel computer center at Central Library. Maybe I will try it on my own kids.


Wow. You mean there are still folks out there who don't know how to use Youtube? Blink. Maybe I'm not as old as I thought. I've been a user of Youtube for years, although I've only made one video and uploaded it in my entire life. I made a little presentation using a song, pictures, a digital storytelling software - can't remember which one - and the text from a poem. It was very labor intensive and I wasn't all that pleased with the resolution of the result, but at least I tried something new.

I go to youtube to preview music all the time. However, for this exercise I put in the search term "public library" and was suddenly hit with the uncomfortable spectacle of a public rally in Cincinnati. "Save our libraries!" Apparently budget crunches are wrecking havoc across our profession all over the country. In more pleasant news, Allen County had a video contest and Seattle Public Library put their library tour on Youtube. There was even a video touting their new RFID book sorting system. Under the search term "Library Events" I found several videos on hosting gaming events for teens.

I am seeing several functions in youtube use for libraries. Youtube can be used as an advertising method; I can see how a young person looking up Guitar Hero might see a video about the gaming at his local library under "related videos." Ohio has evidently attempted to use it as a means to raise public support for their library system. It is also a means to publish instruction to and from library professionals; as I recall, this entire workshop began with a video from Stephen Abram. How effective is it?

With so much white noise and tripe on youtube... I don't know. I certainly think it is likely we are not using it as effectively as we could. This, however, is totally adorable:

A Salute to librarians!

Also, I just noticed that ALA has put out an interesting channel. I might look at that a bit more.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Google Docs

The very first thing that I discovered as I began to explore Google Docs was an outstanding example of its potential. Carol L. Row created a document called Google Historical Voyages and Events in which schools are invited to submit school projects that use Google Tools. The idea is to make excellent local curriculum available to a larger audience. It made me wonder how the teachers at my own school could use that website.

The upshot of this is that this seems to be a way for a person to publish a document online that another person may then edit if that person is listed as a collaborator. It seems to bear some resemblance to a wiki in that respect, but the hierarchical structure is different.

I went into the applications and was quite excited by some of the templates I saw there. They've got resume templates. Earlier this week, I had a reference question from a man who had gone to a website that offered a resume template - but when it came time to print, required him to pay in order for him to get a resume that was not marred with text relating to the website. Google Docs would solve this problem for him and he could work on his resume in more than one sitting without losing his work, having to save it to a disc, or having to pay the website for his own intellectual content. I also found a school calendar that I might be able to use to keep track of my children's progress.

I then tried a few other applications. Google docs has made buying Powerpoint unnecessary. I'm especially impressed with the ability to translate it into any kind of word processing document; many times I have run into problems because I have gotten a document my computer can't open because the format's too old, or it's open source ware and I'm using Word.

One problem. Google Docs makes my work computer freeze.


Wikipedia: it's the place you might surreptitiously check to get some very basic information on a topic you know absolutely nothing about so that you can have enough data to research more reliable sources. Wikipedia - information roulette. It MIGHT be right! Good enough to relieve a nagging piece of curiousity, not good enough to use for your research paper, as I find myself anxiously explaining to children in the library quite often.

I see that wikipedia has a built - in understanding of its own limitations. I read an article about the assassination of President Lincoln. The article itself was heavily cited and seemed to be fairly accurate on the surface. However, when I opened the tab on "discussion" I saw that it had at one time been on a list of "history good articles" and then got removed. Some of the information about John Wilkes Booth seems to be disputed, and has not be adaquately cited. Wikipedia states baldly in one place that it does not allow any original research, and in another place insists that ignorance of the rules should not in any way prevent a novice participant from editing an article.

Democracy in information is a messy place - that's one of the problems I am seeing with Twitter, too. At least with Wikipedia, if you post nonsense, somebody else is likely to call it nonsense and edit it. There's even a place where you can see all the revisions an article has gone through - and this is on a fairly serious article!

The discussion page on an article about Julie Andrews led to quite a lively argument about what was and was not appropriate source material for wikipedia.

I then went into Wet Paint and made a little page. I think I was lucky; by choosing a slightly off-kilter set of subtopics, I managed to avoid the subtopic duplication woes some other people had. I found the templates to be potentially intriguing. You can post meeting room schedules and the like.