Friday, February 29, 2008

Thing 14 -- LibraryThing

I spent rather more time on this thing than I might have strictly needed to, because I found Library Thing just fun! Here is a link to the catalog I created of selected books from my personal library:

Link to my library

Above is a link to the books I entered on Library Thing. I would say that, given the total number of users, the books I entered were relatively rare (out of some 367,000 members, 4 of my titles were owned by under 300 others, 4 of them by under 2000, and only 1 over 12,000. I note, however, that Library Thing is edition-specific, so it may be in the case of older titles with various editions that the title holdings may be more wide than they appear). I did check the "talk" section to see if any of my books were mentioned in any of the discussion threads; a couple of them were. I may well go back to the "Time Travel, Alternate History, and Parallel Worlds" thread with my notebook (or maybe logged into my Ta Da list?) to jot down titles--but not until I've finished the 23 things! (This is largely replacing recreational reading.) The option to sign up as a reviewer and put my name in to possibly receive pre-publication titles for review looked interesting as well--another thing to explore later.

I do put a list of selected new titles on the library web site each month, so I did take a look at how Library Thing might be used to do that. Its inclusion of covers definitely adds visual interest and appeal. I would have a few questions before I started using it in this manner, however. I would want to know if the 200-book limit per year for free membership is 200 entries total, or a limit of 200 titles in one's library at a time. In terms of using Library Thing to enter a new book list, I would also want to know the most efficient method for keeping the list current. One way would be to delete the previous entries before adding new ones--though I did not see an easy way to delete an entire library; having to delete an old list x by x would definitely be less efficient than the way I currently enter a new list. Another option would be to tag the list with month acquired and year--but that would create a slight learning barrier to patrons who wanted to quickly find out what titles the library acquired in the current month. Are any of you using Library Thing for your new book lists? If so, how do you enter the titles and keep it current? Something to explore further and consider at any rate!

Thing 13 -- Online Productivity Tools

Oy--lots to explore here, and I did at least a fair bit of looking around and applying.

I started out creating a start page in Yahoo--it's a site I already use for email, and I've never taken the time to personalize a start page before, so I did. Again, since I already use some Yahoo services, I did go ahead and make the start page I created my personal home page. Out of curiosity, I made an iGoogle page. iGoogle offered many similar options; I particualrly like some of the things it pulled in when I added a "Books" tab.

The online calendars are one I will definitely find professionally (as well as personally) useful. I created calendars on a couple of the recommended sites; the one I decided to settle on and will use is Google's. I liked the ease with which it can be shared; I entered my March meetings and library special events on a calendar and shared it with my colleague for her to enter hers. It will be useful for both of us to have an easily accessible view of our work events--and useful as well to be able to check it from home (so I don't schedule a dentist apointment at the same time I have an early meeting or something!).

I'm a list-maker, so the "Ta Da List" and "Remember the Milk" sites had a certain appeal (nice that you can check off tasks accomplished, too--that's always satisfying). The site may well be handy for keeping track of longer-term lists, but for short-term lists, I don't know how much handier it really is than my current list-on-the-back-of-junk-mail method.

Backpack looked like it had a number of useful services rolled into one. However, I did note that some of its services are by paid subscription--and truly, by the time I reached Backpacker, I was getting burned out on sites to keep track of/log into and check. While I read about it, I did not use any of the features.

As for recommended sites--PDF converters are certainly handy, and I liked that the PDF converter will also convert information FROM pdf to other (editable) document types (albeit with a 2 page limit for non-paying users). Zamzar was certainly also another site I took note of since I, too, have experienced the frustration of not being able to help someone open their document at the library because they're using a program either that we don't have or that simply isn't compatible.

I read through the information about other sites and tools, but it seemed like most of them had either been already covered in this or a previous thing, or they were a bit above me in terms of tech-savviness.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thing 12 -- Do You Digg?

Although I do not mind knowing more about how Digg, Reddit, etc. work and what options they offer, this thing is probably so far the one least likely to be of personal use to me. While I did a bit of exploring, most of the sites showing up as popular are ones I would either easily find in the headline page of a news site or ones in which I wasn't personally very interested. Newsvine was the site on which I found the articles of most interest to me. I think that for me personally, using these sites would not be how I would want to spend my time.

Professionally, I now know to point patrons to sites like these if they are looking to see what stories, sites, photos, etc. are popular--and I could see the use of occasionally glancing at them myself to be aware of what's popular, or perhaps using them to put together book displays on currently popular topics.

Except for this assignment, I don't know that I have read an article based on popularity--if it's one I've been interested in, I've read it and if it's not, I haven't. I have noted that's news page has fairly recently re-organized itself to include popularity rankings and links to many articles, blogs, and images which pertain to each of its top stories.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thing 11 -- Tagging and

Another interesting exploration....

I found quite easy to use (the biggest hurdle was typing it correctly!), and could see several possible applications in the library. (Now, when the time to apply these applications is going to happen is another question....).

In terms of using to expedidite some of my in-my-office work, I know that my bookmark folders are getting cluttered, and I have not been consistent with putting things with multiple topics in multiple folders. I can see that it would be helpful for me to go through my bookmarked sites, save the ones I still think are useful in my newly-created account, and tag them for easier finding. Since my library offers a weekly preschool story time, and we are often looking for that perfect fingerplay or action rhyme to accompany a particular book, I followed some tags in for story times, fingerplays, etc. I came up with some useful sites by a general search, and noted a couple of people who had bookmarked sites of interest to me as well.

On a research assistance level, my library has 3 public internet computers, and a fourth that we keep open for patrons wanting to search the ipac, log into their library card account, or use the reference databases. There are several sites we've used many time in reference assistance that we have bookmarked on each of the computers for easy access. Saving those sites in a library account and having them accessible at all of the library computers would be handier than adding new sites to the bookmarks folder for each individual computer.

I could also see how could be used to link patrons with web sites of potential interest to them. One concern I had that I did not notice mentioned in the information on the 23things site was to what extent spammers use to draw users to "junk" sites. I did a bit of searching, and it looked like this was more of an issue in the past; more recent articles indicated that since sites are ranked by popularity, spammers who aren't removed simply fall off at the unnoticed ends of the lists.

I did a bit of looking at how the listed libraries are using McMaster looked like they were using it more for staff sites. While San Mateo's Dewey-organized approach had a certain appeal to me as a librarian, Menasha's approach (organized by subjects) looked a bit more tidy and user-friendly; I would personally tend toward that model of organizing if I were to set up something for my library.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thing 10 -- Wikis

I enjoyed my tour of the listed wikis and wiki resources, and certainly found much of interest. Working in a small library with a small staff, there is definite appeal to being able to start a site and make it easy for our users to contribute their expertise and add their information.

In exploring the resources for "thing 10," I saw a lot of neat things being done with wikis. I really liked SJPL's subject guides; I think that would be a wonderful project for my library. Allowing patrons to post reviews linked to records in the ipac could also be a way to allow patrons more involvement and collaboration with their libraries, as well as another way to promote reading and the library collections. I was also interested in Rochester's wiki. It might also be interesting to start a community web site, contact organizations, and invite them to post their meetings, news, projects, events, businesses, etc. on it--though if the library, a City service, were to officially do so, I think it would be well to involve the City in the planning and participation process. I could see advantages to posting the library's policy and procedures manual in an intranet environment where it could be easily accessed and edited as well. Some of the other wikis really showed off an interesting facet of wikis, collecting a community of people with similar interests.

I have a certain amount of sympathy for teachers who ban Wikipedia or other web sites as resources. While I understand that many people actively read articles, and fix errors, I would suspect it would also be possible for a student to hit an article at the wrong time and use misinformation. It's also true, though, that probably most of us who are book readers have found misinformation in books as well, and the claim that wikis contain biased and opinionated information holds true for many print resources as well. I would respectfully suggest that a better way to handle the situation would be to actively teach students how to evaluate resources and use good research methods (use more than one source, or even more than one type of source, etc.).

I edited the 23 things on a stick wiki. Because I can sympathise with everyone not wanting to "mess up" someone else's work, I added a list of messed up classics for others to FIX up.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thing 9 -- Online Collaboration Tools

I decided to create a spreadsheet comparing Google Documents and Zoho--and to explore Google and Documents and Zoho by working with that spreadsheet in each environment. I invite you to view and collaborate with me on the spreadsheet! (And hope that I have done this correctly....let me know if you try and it does not work, please.)

To edit the spreadsheet in Google, follow this path,

The Zoho spreadsheet is here:

If you would like to edit the spreadsheet in Zoho, please let me know.

In using the two tools, I found Google slightly easier to use....I still have not managed to edit the Declaration of Independence in Zoho. In creating the above sheet, I found Google's help to be helpful, and easily imported and edited my documnet from Microsoft Excel. I didn't actually try Zoho's help features, but figured out how to do what I was trying to do without using help. Being somewhat familiar with Excel, I found both Google's and Zoho's editing features easy to use, although even in my brief exploration, I found at least one feature lacking. (I had my subcolumns spaced a couple of spaces over rather than right-justified; both Google and Zoho insisted on either right or left justifying.) It does appear that Zoho offers more editing features up front.

As to what the founding fathers would think (about our editing of their declaration)....while I would say that the Declaration of Independence was their response to their particular time and situation--they clearly meant for we who followed them to respond to our own times and situations as well. While I don't know that they would agree with all of our edits to date, I suspect that at least some of the founding fathers would be willing to discuss them with us--maybe they'd even try out a few of the tools we're exploring in the 23 things to discuss them with us or allow us to collaborate with them!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thing 8 -- Share Your Creations

It was interesting to take that brief overview survey of the myriad ways to share photos, presentations, databases, and resumes. These are all areas for which there are many personal applications, and of course one professional application is provide training for patrons on how to use some of these tools in their personal lives. Some of these tools could of course be useful in providing that training to patrons. Posting Power Point presentations or podcasts or video clips on the web is another way to provide training opportunities--and I believe that demand for such formats of training will only increase with time. I again believe that there is still use for in-person workshops and training sessions as well--and such tools could also be used to reinforce the material covered in a workshop. Top-of-the-head other thoughts on applications: databases of books that book clubs have read, podcasts with information about new services at the library and slideshow presentations showing how to access and use them, resume/portfolio creation workshop using examples from eFolio and sharing information about eFolio to people interested in the education field....

While I took an overview survey of the various links to information about sharing creations, the one I put my boots on and explored in more depth was Lazybase. I decided to create a database for books that our Friends of the Library book club has read. For the present, I created a very basic database with title, some keywords, and authors. I found the database easy to use--perhaps a little bare bones, but certainly quick and easy. I left the ratings at the default setting; I will ask the group if they would be willing to give their ratings for me to fill in. I'll also share with the group the address so they can go in and add keywords, and add titles to the suggestions for future reads area. If you would like to view what I did (and see what the group has been reading!), the link is here.

Thing 7 -- Web 2.0 Communication Tools

At my library, we use email primarily for communication--receiving information from and sending information to colleagues, other organizations, vendors, presentors, etc. At this point we do very little communicating with library patrons by email. I would say that more than improving productivity, email has changed it. Because it's easier to be more informed, and to exchange information, being more informed and exchanging more information has become part of what we "produce" so to speak. It is certainly easier to send out information or ask questions of a group; deleting spam (and I'm thankful for the filters so there isn't MORE of it) takes up a bit of time each day.

I think that with time, the ways in which we provide reference information will change. At present, our library has a staff of 2; both of us work fewer than 40 hours/week. I think between meetings and staggered schedules, the hours during which we would realistically be able to provide instant messaging reference would be erratic enough that they would be more frustrating than useful to patrons at this point. I would guess that other small libraries are in similar situations; perhaps teaming up to enlarge the pool of people available to provide IM reference coverage might be one way for smaller libraries to move into that area.

I attended about half of the "Casual Conversation with Michelle Boule" in the OPAL auditorium. It was interesting; between the audio, chatting amongst the participants and responses to the text messages by the presentors, and the web cobrowsing, it was more interactive than I would have anticipated. I can definitely see the usefulness of web conferencing to allow more people to participate in conferences than might have the funds or time to travel and attend. I would note, however, that in my experience, the value of the conference is not only in the formal presentation/learning, but also in the informal chatting that happens between row or table-mates, or over lunch. I would wonder to what extent, without the face-to-face connection or physical proximity, people would stick around and visit and exchange experiences and information. Another possible shortcoming might be the loss to the presentor of facial cues giving an idea of the extent to which their audience is following or comprehending the information. On the other hand, having the conferences archived, and having the ability to listen to them again, to go through the information more slowly and trying things out or reading more of what was on the screen, could be a plus of the format.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Thing 6 -- Online Image Generators - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Image hosted @

Trading card image from Flickr - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

I did a bit more exploration of online image generators; I tried using both the Trading Cards from Big Huge Labs and images from Image Chef. The images I experimented with were a Winter Reading Program button, a William Shakespeare trading card (earlier this week, I visited a high school English class to share a bit about library services; the class has been reading Macbeth), and a license plate with the Summer Reading Program theme for summer 2008. Again, these sites could be useful in generating visual images to add to the web site as well as the library.

As a matter of fact, I DID just go and add the winter reading program button to the section of the library web site including information about the winter reading program. I played around with shifting the location of the image and finally settled on putting it underneath the text. Here's a question for someone more tech savvy than I--how would I put the corresponding text to the right of the image, rather than having the picture above or below the text? (I managed to get it in the MIDDLE of the text, but that didn't look at all good! If seeing the site would help you answer my question, it's here.

Thing 5 -- More Flickr Fun--pt. 2

Well, I guess that worked! I would need to play more with sizing before using it.... I also tried generating a puzzle from a photo just for fun (Image hosted @ of those could make a neat personalized Christmas present for my puzzle-loving grandparents!

Although I played a bit with various of the mashup services and imported the image from "Spell with Flickr" just for fun, again, I think that using such images on the library's web site could add visual interest. I could see various library applications of services available from BigHugeLabs. Some possibilities: Badgemaker--badges for volunteers, for speakers at programs, for summer reading program event participants (to wear at a program or save as mementos)....Sunset--add these times to the library website as handy references during hunting season....Motivator--make library posters using local photos...Trading Cards--make a trading card for each summer reading program story time or event, and give kids a prize for brining in a collection of a certain number of cards... From WebMonkey's "10 Best Flickr Mashups", Captioner! could be another fun teen event thing--we could post some fun photos on the web site, and have a contest for giving them the best captions--and then post the winning captions. It could be another way to encourage teens to visit and interact with the library web site.

Thing 5 -- More Flickr Fun--pt. 1

Testing this!

L Copper Lowercase Letter i B r card letter a villa R plain card disc letter y

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Thing 4 -- Explore Flickr

I chose option A--and enjoyed my time exploring public photos on Flickr (I took a photographic hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, and then zipped up to Mount Edith Cavell in the Canadian Rockies for a few photos, too :). I thought K. Kay's "The Patch of Yesterday" particularly fine!) This morning, I told my husband about Flickr and he found some photos of places or images he might use in paintings--so he enjoyed learning a bit about Flickr as well. The image I uploaded, though, is that of Auld Public Library in Red Cloud, Nebraska; I have a friend who lives there and so was curious to see a photo of her library.

I did find Flickr reasonably easy to search, and was pleased to see that I was able to hone in on what I was looking for by using phrases with quotation marks.

Since I do not at present have a digital camera, I don't know how extensively I will use Flickr personally. Thinking about potential library uses--including photos on the library blogger website could definitely add visual interest--and could be especially useful when planning special events if authors or performers would allow the posting of pre-event publicity photos. The photo of the bookshelf with tags and links was neat! Perhaps a fun teen summer reading event would be some sort of digital photography contest; participating teens could email their photos and we could post them and have teens vote on their favorite? Have any of you done something along those lines at your library before? A few thoughts offhand, and perhaps more will come.

Re: the privacy issue, I would definitely be careful about posting photos of library children--and I think even if adults were in photos, I would want to get their permission before posting a photo publicly. I would, I think, take the same precautions with posting personal photos with people in them--I would want to make sure their privacy was protected. While I think there are a lot of neat things about sharing photos so openly, I could also see concerns about how the photos might be used. (I did a quick search to see if I could turn up any instances of questionable use of Flickr photos; the only article I found was in the New York Times on 10/1/07; it's called "Use My Photo? Not Without Permission" and is by Noam Cohen.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Thing 3 -- Set up an RSS account and ad feeds

I have heard about and have seen demonstrated RSS feed readers--and have now spent a bit of time learning more about and exploring them. I can definitely see the practicality of using RSS readers for sites that I would frequently check (or that I SHOULD frequently check but in fact neglect).

I set up accounts with both Bloglines and Google, and did a bit of searching to see what I might be interested in. It took me a bit of time and exploration to figure out a bit of how each of them worked. I personally found more sites of interest using Bloglines--it seemed that when I typed in phrases, it did a better job of either interpreting them as phrases--or else its search logic better matched mine. When I did the same phrase search on both sites, it seemed like Bloglines came up with fewer hits but they were the sort of thing I was really looking for; Google came up with many, many more hits, but almost none of them were what I was actually after. (If anyone using this prefers Google, what features do you like better in it?)

In terms of how I might use suggested, I did add a couple of my fellow 23-things blogger's sites to my reader--and I agree that it will be easier to have updates automatically sent to me rather than clicking on each site individually. I also added a feed for a library which posts Publisher's Weekly bestseller lists on their library blog once a week--again, that is something that I usually check when I'm putting together an order, and I think that having the lists just come to me will be handy. I added a couple more sites out of personal interest--but suspect that I probably won't keep up with them over the long term--too much else that either needs doing or that I'd rather do.

Out of curiosity, do any of you have RSS feeds available for your library web site? If so, how do you or your patrons use them? Our patrons do occasionally ask what new __fill in your favorite genre or subject__ books we have recently acquired; I could see a potentially useful patron service in posting such lists in an RSS-feed accessible form so that patrons could easily be notified of new titles of interest to them.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Thing 2 -- What Is Library 2.0?

While I have at least some theoretical knowledge of the concept of Library 2.0, I have not taken the time to more extensively explore many of the technologies. I found the linked resources (the interview of Stephen Abram; the Blyberg blog; and the articles in Library Technology Reports, OCLC's Next Space Newsletter, and Wikipedia) useful summaries and explorations of the whole idea.

I found myself agreeing with Stephen Abrams that people can generally find the time for pretty much anything they put as a priority. I suspect I'll find myself taking my time to explore the 23 things from something else I usually make time for: reading. (Yesterday I bit the bullet and returned to the library a couple of books I probably just won't have the time to read in the next couple of weeks....I'll just have to read them later!)

Points from the reading/viewing which particularly resonated with me:
  • We learn through a combination of experience and reflection (Stephen Abram interview).
  • A big feature of Library 2.0 is allowing our users to opt in, to provide both physical and online space for library patrons to participate and create content ("The Ongoing Web Revolution").
  • Technologies still should be evaluated to determine if they provide a useful service for patrons (and presumably, patrons should be involved in that determination) ("Into a New World of Librarianship")
  • Collaboration between libraries contributes to the success of Library 2.0 as well (Blyberg Blog).

I differed with Rick Anderson's skepticism of the usefulness of physical collections; I think there are still those who enjoy browsing a physical as well as a virtual collection. (I've often had the experience of visiting libraries and finding something I didn't know I wanted--simply because it WAS there; patrons have made similar comments.)

Re: what I am looking forward to or why I am participating in the 23 things project: I am looking forward to taking the time and opportunity to learn more about the technologies that are included in this program--and to finding ways to usefully apply them in my library.