Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thing 23 -- Final Thoughts

I think that through the course of this program, I have become more interested in, knowledgeable about (well, at least a bit more than I was!), and excited by some newer technologies and how I can use them in my library. I really liked (Thing 11); I think it will make it easier for me to find again things that I have found useful--and also to learn what sites others with similar information needs have found useful. I can see some of the tools on BigHugeLabs (Things 5 & 6) as being helpful when I'm looking for more "cool" things for summer reading programs. I was interested in the online productivity tools (Thing 13)--hopefully they really will improve my productivity a bit. I also would like to do more with subject guides, and found St. Joseph Public Library's Subject Guides (created through wikis, Thing 10) to be an excellent resource and example. (I also really liked some of the reading lists of Hennepin County Library's web site.)

As for suggestions for future programs.... I'm wondering if the program might be a bit less overwhelming if it were broken into smaller segments? I have definitely enjoyed and have learned a lot from this program, but I might be more inclined to participate in a future program (or complete a future program) if it didn't have quite so many things. It has definitely taken me more than 15 minutes a day. Another thought might be trying to team participants up with 2 or 3 fellow participants from other library systems--maybe assigning participants to a small group might encourage a bit more interaction. I have been reading (and will try to continue to read) the blogs of a couple of people I know, or people from my library system--but faced with the huge numbers of participants, I must confess I read almost none from other library systems, and didn't leave comments on any of those I did read! Narrowing it down to a couple of blogs to definitely follow and comment on might have encouraged me to do more along those lines.

In summary, this truly has been an excellent opportunity for me to learn more about Web 2.0 technologies, and I appreciate the immense amount of time and effort that has gone into developing and implementing this program. Through the 23 Things on a Stick program, I have acquired a number of new tools and resources for ongoing professional development, for improving my own efficiency, and also for expanding and enhancing the ways in which my library offers service to our patrons.

Thing 22 -- What Did I Learn Today

How I am going to keep up is indeed a good question.... I guess I'm a slow learning, because even if I averaged it out from the time I started to the time I could have had to finish, I think it would come out much closer to an HOUR a day than 15 minutes a day....and I'm truthfully really not going to continue to put that much time into this! I am, in fact, very much looking forward to CATCHING up with all of the things I've let slide while I have been working on this. I think that for me, trying to spend 15 minutes a day would be just enough time for things to go in one eye and out the other; I'm more likely to learn better if I take a larger block of time and quickly follow reading about it with trying it or experimenting with it or using it. So perhaps a better, and more realistic resolution, for me is:

I will plan on spending an hour-or-so block of time at least a couple of times a month exploring and learning about library applications of newer technologies.

I did go through the sites referenced in the whole "23 Things on a Stick" learning program and tagged quite a number of them in my (added as a result of this program!) account. One thing I will plan on doing with some of that time is revisiting and reviewing some of those sites so they don't slowly fade away. I did add several of the sites referenced in this Thing to my RSS aggregator account (also something I learned about in this program) and will take some of that time to read about and explore ideas presented in some of those sites. I also made myself a list of things I want to follow up on from this program--ideas I blogged about but would like to implement. I will also try to take some of that time to do some of that follow-up and put into further practice some of the things I have learned. I'd also like to spend a bit more time in WebJunction Minnesota; I think that site will provide me with more tools for continuing to learn and explore new things. I'll also try to keep a bit of an eye on what's new in OPAL and what opportunities I might have there for learning. I find the workshops offered by my library system (Arrowhead Library System) to be VERY useful in terms of learning and professional development, and almost always pick up a tip or idea from my system colleagues when I go to workshops or the regular meetings. I find our regional Public Library Consultant, Rebecca Patton, to be an excellent resource for and supporter of continued learning as well. So yes--one way or another, I will definitely go on learning.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thing 21 -- Beyond MySpace: Other Social Networks

Visit 23 Things on a Stick

I am not personally much of a social network user, and truthfully don't anticipate becoming much of one (too many things to do, not enough time to do everything--this one would fall a bit farther down my list). Although some of the sites I looked at could be of interest to and shared with patrons, I had a tougher time thinking of ways I could use some of these sites for the library in general. I will be curious to see what ideas others had on this matter! One of the sites I really do intend to use more myself professionally is WebJunctionMinnesota. I have spent a bit of time on this site in the past and know it to be useful--I just need to take the time to use it. I haven't read ahead yet, but know that using WebJunction is one thing I could do to continue learning new technologies and ways to use them.

One idea I will carry away from this Thing is Ning, the site for building social networks from scratch. (After reading the "Nine Ways to Build Your Own Social Network" article from TechCrunch, I think that is the one I would choose or recommend too.) I think that this site could be usefully referred to any patrons or local groups who were interested in building a social network.

The other element I found most useful from this Thing was the article on ways that nonprofits can use social networking to promote their causes and to network with organizations with similar interests and those who might support their causes. My library has contact with the local Early Childhood Coalition; the information in this article seemed like it might be of some interest to the Coalition and I will share it with them.

I will also make a note that social networks are ways that people who are looking for others with similar interests can make connections. I noted in passing that Ning had a network of Home Based Business owners; I personally spent a bit of time for this Thing exploring

NOTE ON THE ABOVE BADGE: When I copied the code from Ning and then tried to publish this post, the post would not publish but gave me an error code. I don't (regrettably) know HTML--but I learned enough from my dad in the early days of the Apple that I was able to compare the code I copied to other code and find the error. In case anyone else had the same problem, I added the phrase < / embed > (but with no spaces--I need to put spaces in so Blogger won't think I'm making another html error!) before the bit that starts out with
< small > (near the end) and then it published.

Thing 20 -- Libraries and Social Networks

This was an interesting introduction to MySpace and FaceBook; I enjoyed learning a bit more about these two sites and seeing how some libraries are using them.

I was unsurprised by the statistics in the Pew report about the number of teens using Social Networking sites, and pleased to see that a substantial number of online teens are using the internet to obtain information about news and current events.

One thing that really struck me from Meredith Farkas's "Information Wants to be Free" blogpost was the statement that the point of libraries using some of these technologies is not just to be where are patrons are, but to provide useful information and services where out patrons are--so when I looked at some of the ways libraries were using MySpace, I was looking to see what sorts of services they were providing. The sites I looked at were those for Denver Public Library, Hennepin County Library, Alexandria Public Library (Indiana), the Library Loft (Charlotte, NC), St. Paul Public Library, and Birmingham Public Library. The first four seemed like they were really targeting teens with their page; the latter two had some information or links which suggested that they might be trying to provide services to a post-teen patronage as well. Common features were links to the library catalog and reference databases and homework help. A couple of the sites had Meebo chat windows right on their front MySpace page; a couple of them had information or promotional video clips on their front pages. Denver Public Library had links to book and movie and music reviews or lists by teens, although I noted that all of the links were broken and had a page saying that there were problems with viruses or spam or phishing on those pages. There were lots of links to book lists, and the display of front covers added, I thought, visual interest.

The site that most impressed me was Hennepin County Library's site. I followed some of the links back into their catalog, and saw quite a few things there that are on my mental "wish list" (and hopefully to be included in the next 5-year-plan). I particularly liked their "Great Reading Ideas" lists. The lists seemed similar to what might be obtained through a NovelList search, but the work was already done for the teen (or anyone) looking, and the names of the lists, with their accompanying descriptions, seemed well done (for example, the "It's Due Tomorrow" list (description: "Skinny books for book reports"). I noticed that several of the books on the list had comments by people who had read them.

I don't think that MySpace and FaceBook are sites that I would use very much personally, so I did not at this time create a site. I would like to see a Teen Advisory Group get started at my library--and I think the pros and cons, and potential usefulness of starting a MySpace site for the library, and what sorts of things teens would include or find useful, would be an excellent discussion to have with such a group.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Thing 19 -- Podcasts

Although I've listened to a couple of podcasts in the past, I'd linked directly to them based on recommendations and had not previously done much searching. Accordingly, I did run a few searches in each of the 5 directories given in the resource section of this Thing.

I found the podcast that I actually listened to in Yahoo Podcasts; it was the 2007 Minnesota Book Awards Finalists program at the Minneapolis Public Library, available here. The podcast to which I subscribed was the NPR Books podcast. I found the latter on

In terms of which directory I preferred for searching....I like PodcastAlley's location feature, and that you could easily access a list of podcasts by location. seemed very neatly organized with topical folders and subfolders, and the RSS feed option was very accessible and easy to use. I think I would choose as my favorite, though. The layout reminded me of the Librarian's Index to the Internet with topical headings that could be opened up to reveal subheadings. I also thought they had done the most with smart search features, allowing searches to be designated by keyword or title/description or host or episode or location.

As to whether or not this Thing has inspired me to do any podcasting or subscribe to and listen to podcasts....well, I will probably listen to at least a couple of the podcasts that come up in my RSS feeder since I subscribed to them! In the long run, though, listening to podcasts is not how I see myself spending a whole lot of my time--though I will perhaps occasionally search topics of interest to me. While it would be interesting to post podcasts of author visits, I suspect that actually doing so will probably fall a bit farther down the list of all of the things that I could start doing based on everything I'm learning in the 23 Things on a Stick program!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thing 18 -- YouTube and Other Online Video

After viewing the video clips posted in this Thing, and doing some searching of my own in both YouTube and Yahoo Videos, I decided to post the above clip in this blog entry. It's a video clip from one of the concerts given at Aurora's Northern Lights Music Festival in the summer of 2006. I enjoy classical music, and having the annual festival in Aurora is a great delight to me--so I figured I'd share the clip with anyone else reading who might be interested.

I did other searches of local interest in both sites I searched, as well (of course!) a number of searches related to library topics. One thing I looked for was how other libraries were using YouTube to promote early literacy and their story times. I found several video clip commercials for various library story times as well as some video clips about early literacy and its importance. I also found various video clip commercials for teen reading programs. If we do get a Teen Advisory Group at our library, I might well introduce this idea and see if teens think that posting a video promoting the Teen Reading Program would be an effective way to encourage local teens to get involved.

I could think of any number of ways that video clips on library web sites could be useful--video tutorials of the basics of searching the library catalog and reference databases, promotions for library events, booktalking, etc. As many of our users still have dial-up internet access, however, I am careful about what I put on the library's web site so that it does not take so long to load that it discourages patrons from using it at all.

Other thoughts on my brief online video expected, I found rather more in YouTube than in Yahoo Videos....I noted that phrase searching using quotation marks worked in YouTube and did not seem to work as well in Yahoo Videos....the relevancy seemed more on target in YouTube than in Yahoo both cases, I would have very much appreciated the ability to use the "NOT" Boolean operator to weed out things that, while they included my search terms, did not match what I was looking for.

The other thing I wondered about, and did a bit more searching on, was online video and copyright issues. In the case of the video I posted, the composer and performer is the one who posted the video, so there are clearly no copyright issues. I did wonder about how fair use came into play with people posting video clips of performances they had attended, or background music used for various video clips. One of the story time videos I found videotaped reading an entire picture book, with close-ups of the pictures on each page; that one raised fair use flags for me. I would want to do more research on copyright issues before posting anything about which I had any doubts.

Thing 17 -- ELM Productivity Tools

I find the ELM databases useful, and while I am usually able to help patrons locate information they are seeking, I was not as familiar with some of the tools in this thing. So, more good things to learn! I thought it was handy that RSS feeds can be set up for specific searches--though I, too, had to access ELM through the ELM4You portal; I did not see the RSS feed option available when I accessed ELM through our system catalog. I, too, had to try a couple of times to figure out how to subscribe; I succeeded by clicking on the XML button, clicking on the "Subscribe to this feed" option, and then accessing the "Common Feed List" by clicking on the yellow star on my Internet Explorer toolbar. I could see the definite use of such a subscription for anyone, either me or a patron, who is looking to track a particular topic over time.

I wasn't aware of all of the formats in which information from ELM could be saved and emailed or downloaded; I don't know how much use I will make of them, but I will try to remember them!

I also realized that I need to remember NetLibrary more than I do; while I have referred a couple of patrons looking for more technical materials to it, we definitely do not check the availability of titles in NetLibrary and giving that option to our patrons before placing an out-of-system Interlibrary Loan request. This thing gave me some good reminders as well as a few new-to-me things.