Sunday, November 18, 2007


Stumbled, rambled or somehow came across this little video representation of what happens when a searcher scans a page of Google search results from Daniel Chudnov's blog- new to me, but I imagine probably one of the established bloggerati. Not knowing a thing about fractal geometry, I perhpas missed some of his reference, but I was struck by the conclusion which aptly showed how meaningless a flat list of references is for enabling interactive search behaviors.

I found this while looking at LibraryFind, an open source federated search product that was developed by the Oregon State University Libraries and is built with Ruby on Rails.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Discussions to revisit

Not having as much time to read my listservs, I am going to note those things that I need to come back to. For instance, :this on web4lib concerning open source ILS's.
Bob looks at which U.S. public & academic libraries currently run open
> source ILS software, and how Koha and Evergreen usage stacks up.
> "There are a number of ways one might measure the impact of open
> source ILS software on U.S. public libraries but I think these
> preliminary figures are suggestive: that few of these libraries
> actually use open source software as a means of supplying their ILSs.
> Of course, we know that many more have announced and the market is
> dynamic. When I revisit these figures, I suspect the numbers will
> change but the size of the library market is quite a bit larger than
> the open source community has supplied. Its impact on the market is
> around 1%, depending on which measure one uses and by the restrictive
> criteria I use here."

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I've realized that the right side of this blog is becoming quite crowded with the stuff I'm picking up as I surf the internet (and, although that is an old, hackneyed phrase, I think it aptly describes the process of the to and fro-ing you do as you swing from link to link).

My latest finds come from trying to solve a problem with a Quick Link select list; the website managers would like the link selection to clear after the link is visited- the event handler is set to onChange. I haven't solved the problem (onClick works to a degree, but is kind of touchy) but in the course of trying to see if anyone else had a better idea, I took a look at all the UC websites.

Along the way, I got sidetracked by UCLA's very cool scrolling event sidebar, and tried to cut and paste it into a page to see how it works. Didn't succeed at all- there's more to it than meets the eye, but I will spend some time deconstructing it later. However, I did add the feed (way down at the bottom, because I really don't care what's happening at UCLA) just as a placeholder/reminder- it was generated as a widget from SpringWidgets, via the UCLA feed page, and is available in 8 different formats so you can add it to your blog, email it, send it to My Space, Friendster, Hi5 (never heard of that one), Xanga, or Google.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Forums, wikis, blogs

Here are two resources for creating forums (discussion groups- good for collaborative conversations):
phpBB: "Since its creation in 2000, phpBB™ has become the most widely used Open Source forum solution.", a free forum hosting site: "On the first day of 2007 we present you our free forum hosting service, Our project is powered by world's most popular forum engine, PhpBB, and we are not only providing you with the best PhpBB forum hosting service available, but also enhance the platform with ourself-developed mods available only on informe."

Karen Harker, on the web4lib list, gave an excellent summary of the appropriate uses of wikis, blogs and forums, which I am quoting here:

Since we have implemented both blogs and wikis for Library staff use, we have run into this problem often. These tools are quite different regarding communication modes and therefore do not work well for all roles. Here's a brief list that I use to decide on which tool to use:
-- Synchronous communication: Chat or VoIP
-- Near-synchronous: Email
-- Asynchronous and topical: Discussion forum
-- Asynchronous and primarily, but not solely, one-way: Blogs
-- Asynchronous and solely one-way: Private blogs
-- Collaborative Web site but not necessarily for communication: wikis

Blogs are not real good for true discussions...Discussion Forums (remember online bulletin boards) are much better at that. Blogs are good for regularly posting announcement-type info (alerts, links, funny stories, assignments, etc.), while allowing others to comment. This could be useful for "peer-reviews" of assignments, particularly related to creative writing or critical thinking.


Interesting site, code4lib. I followed a link to a presentation given by Erik Hatcher for the Library of Congress on August 1, 2007 about Solr, a search engine for libraries, based on open-source Lucene.
In it he discusses the development of a new search engine utilizing the Java based Lucene open source software with Solr (originally developed by CNET, and open-sourced) layered above. The resultant product has caching, replication, faceting, hit highlighting, spell-checking and an htttp interface. It is being used at the Smithsonian, Internet Archive, Open Library, UVA (where Hatcher works) and Peel's Prairie Provinces.


This is probably old news but it was new to me, so IRC seems worth a mention. It's apparently something like IM. Here's what the IRC Primer, found on Code4Lib has to say:
IRC (original code was written by Jarkko Oikarinen) is a multi-user, multi-channel chatting network. It allows people all over the internet to talk to one another in real-time. It is a functional replacement and improvement to 'talk'; 'talk' is an old, primitive, atrocious, minimalist sort of keyboard/screen conversation tool, using a grotesque, machine- dependent protocol (blah!). IRC does everything 'talk' does, but with better protocol, allowing more than 2 users to talk at once, with access across the aggregate Internet, and providing a whole raft of other useful features.
IRC is based on a client-server model. Clients are programs that connect to a server, a server is a program that transports data, (messages), from a user client to another. There are clients running on many different systems, (Unix, emacs, VMS, MSDOS, VM...), that allow you to connect to an IRC server. The client which will be spoken of here is the most widespread: ircII, (originally designed by Michael Sandrof). Other clients are similar, and often accept ircII commands.
On IRC, there are a lot of places where you can "hang out"; those places are called 'channels', (most of the information in this section can also be obtained by issuing "/HELP CHANNEL"). You can compare conversations on a channel to a conversation among a group of people: you see/hear everything that is said, and you can reply to anything that's said. What you type is received by everyone who's willing to listen - and everyone who is late will not hear what was said before, unless repeated by one of the ones who were there. (Who said "real life" ?)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

trying to get a photo into this thing

OK- that was hard- and it never did upload from the Flickr url, so I'm not sure what went wrong. Now will try to get this into my profile where it can live for all eternity- this was on a boat on Lake Tahoe- a lovely day.

Update: I did manage to put this into the profile, although not through the Flickr url. I cut and pasted the url from the blog into the profile- several times without success and then finally it added. It may be that Blogger was behaving badly, and not that I was doing something wrong since at one point, it crashed IE and closed.


first presentation

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Adobe CS3, Slideshare and Audacity

Buying the student version of Adobe CS3 for my Dreamweaver class was probably the best investment I have made recently. CS3 contains the latest versions of Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Flash and more. I spent today getting familiar with some of Photoshop's features, watching the training videos provided with the software. Also. did some exploring in Flash, which has this cool thing called Zoomify. This lets viewers zoom in on your photo, much like Google maps- and it is amazingly simple to create.

Other explorations today led me to Slideshare, an online site that lets you upload powerpoint slides and add audio to the slideshow. The CEO has a nice slideshow explaining Flash and AJAX and their uses in the web world in general and in this producct in particular. Also, they have a link to a training video on how to use Audacity, which has eluded my infrequent and half-hearted attempts to grasp. Armed with this, I feel up to trying it out again to create podcasts.

World's most beautiful libraries

Courtesy of a link provided by Donna Mazziotti in the PubLib listserv, here is a link to a blog posting that contains photographs of the world's most beautiful libraries, and they are stunning. The blog itself is called "Curious Expeditions: Travelling and exhuming the extraordinary past" and seems to be the chronicle of two travelers roaming the world. It's stylish, well written and has great pictures- I added it immediately to my Yahoo home page.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thing 23 recap: about 23 Things

I really like the learning approach of 23 Things. Technology is really a hands-on experience and you can't begin to understand the possibilities of some of these tools until you've experienced them. And, as I said earlier, since Web 2.0 is all about free, easy, fast and fun, I think many people who were technophobic before attempting the Challenge, may have been surprised to discover how much they enjoyed it.

Of course, now that we've done this 23 things, there are many more to go- it has just begun.

Now, how do I claim my flash drive? Oh, and did I mention that I really like InfoPeople, and I'm not just saying that to get my drive. I've taken several workshops, listened to webcasts and browsed their site, and I think it's a great service to the library community.

Last Thing 9: Twitter

I left this until last because it's the tool I dislike the most. But I summoned up the courage and opened a twitter account. I can see the appeal for those who enjoy texting, or IMing, but at this moment, I have no need for such a tool. We did use IM frequently while I was working in Tech Support and it was a very handy way to communicate with someone while on the phone with someone else- a frequent scenario in Tech Support.
There are lots of widgets, and ways to get Twitter on your cell phones, etc. but I have confined myself to viewing the public timeline only. Then I will probably delete the application altogether.
But that said, it sure is easy to join and easy to use- the hallmarks of Web 2.0: fast, free and easy!

Thing 15: Perspectives on 2.0 and the future of libraries

This whole blog is about that topic, so I think for the writeup on this item, I will point to a few of the articles that I have enjoyed reading on this subject.
On the future of virtual reference
Library 2.0 Course Syllabus
Specifically, this module of the course, Library 2.0, lists some great articles for further reading.
10 Programming Concepts Librarians Should know, form the blog of Ryan Deschamps, who always has something useful and instructive to say.
And, of course, this whole issue is not free of controversy. Librarian 1.5 responds to a particularly notorious contrarian, Walt Crawford:
I look forward to the continuing discussion on Library 2.0 and how we can improve library services to the library users/patrons with the ideas and concepts that we find in the open source movement, creative commons, web 2.0 and other sources which has not been available before.

Also interesting is an exchange between The Annoyed Librarian and the Other Librarian:
A recent post called “The Cult of Twopointopia” hits on alot of important weaknesses in the 2.0 rhetoric, particularly where they overstate the benefits of using Web 2.0 technologies or refuse to accept how rational individuals may choose not to join the Library 2.0 bandwagon.

But like most things rational, her readers sometimes revert into irrationality. Thus, from a rational criticism of the so-called Library 2.0 movement/manifesto follows an irrational trashing of anything having to do with Web 2.0 services and user-centered library services, and any defense of library 2.0 becomes evidence of group-think or outright stupidity.

And I think that sums it up nicely- Web 2.0, Lib 2.0, blogs, wikis, My Space- it's all part of the necessary discussion as we all plan the future.

Thing 14: Technorati- Links and Tags

Technorati collects and ranks blogs. They've recently redone their main page to sort the blogs into categories making it easier to browse by subject.

I think what they say about linking is a key concept underlying the Web 2.0 "movement":
A link from one weblog to another helps provide context around an argument or point, and it is essentially a "vote of attention" from one blogger to another. By linking to another site or blog, the weblog author is saying, "I find what you are saying important enough to link to it." Linking also helps create the conversation of the Web, the critical mass of connected thought that is not available in static text.
The relevance of a site on the Web can be determined by how often a source is cited and therefore considered an authority. Links in the world of weblogs are even more important since bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, creating a sense of timeliness and back-and-forth one would have in a conversation. Technorati tracks the number of links and the unique source of links to determine the breadth and readership of any author or site. Technorati is uniquely positioned in the center of this ongoing conversation monitoring who is linking to whom and which bloggers are commanding attention on various topics.

Tags are another way of sorting blogs. According to Technorati:
Anyone with a blog can contribute to Technorati Tag pages. There are two ways to contribute:

If your blog software supports categories and RSS/Atom feeds (like Movable Type, WordPress, TypePad, Blogware, Radio), just use the included category system and make sure you are publishing RSS/Atom feeds and your categories will be read as tags.

If your blog software doesn't support categories or you're not sure, you can still participate. To associate a post with a Technorati Tag all you have to do is tag your post by including a special link in the body of your post. Please note that two word tags should be joined by a "+".

I have added this blog to Technorati's directory, and added a widget that enables my blog viewers to claim me as a favorite, which will increase my rankings (theoretically). I'm currently listed with zero fans- kind of upsetting in a way! Although, doing a search for blogs about libraries yielded 1,213 results, and only a handful of them had any fans so I'm not alone.

This is also one of the more irritating aspects of the social networking thing- popularity contests. Here is a list of the Top 25 blogging librarians, as ranked by four different metrics, including Technorati. Here's what the top-ranked blogger, Jessamyn West (whose blog I have been reading for a couple of years) has to say about the whole thing.

Thing 18: Google Docs and Spreadsheets

Bad things: you must log in several times. I couldn't figure out how to "save as" in the Docs program; the spreadsheet is clunky and updates were slow. Good things: they are free to registered users, the Docs exports in a variety of formats including Word, and I think I will stick with Excel for spreadsheets.

Thing 19- Google Maps

I am disappointed with Google maps- I thought it would be intuitive and simple, but it actually isn't. I created a map of Berkeley, and was going to add locators for the various library branches, but I am still struggling to figure out how to control the appearance and scope of the map- it keeps switching to the Google earth view, and sometimes goes off altogether and I wind up in Wichita! Clearly need to spend more time with this. The add-on tools are really cool- I like the real estate finder (I saw it first in use on a realtor's site) and the earthquake locators. It looks like it's easy to add the map to your blog or website once it looks the way you want it to.
Upon further explorations, I managed to create a map with a placemark marking the location of the main branch of the BPL, and then added a photo of the building into the placemark- a process that was not very lucidly explained in Google help. There is no actual "add content" button on the Create New Map tab- you have to go to Browse the Directory, or you have to add a placemark and add your content to that.
It is fun, though, and I think you can do alot with this kind of a tool. It will be interesting to see how easy it is to mashup.My first map effort.

Thing 21- podcasts

I have been doing various things with podcasts over the last several months, so I'm going to try to summarize my explorations and discoveries.
I downloaded Juice, a "premier podcast receiver, allowing users to capture and listen to podcasts anytime, anywhere" but was leary of using it for fear of overwriting the stuff already on my daughter's iPod.
Here's how it works, according to the Juice Help screen:

Juice uses RSS (really simple syndication) to "feed" files to
your computer. RSS usually involves headlines and text, but we've devised a way to have it move audio files. Once you've installed Juice, you can select podcasts to subscribe to in two different ways: Either clicking the selection button to see a directory of available podcasts or enter a URL for a podcast you've found on your own. You can set the scheduling options so that Juice scans for new downloads as often as you like, or you can control it manually. When it is done downloading new files, it adds them to your library, all ready to be played or synched to your MP3 device.

I am having difficulty adding new podcasts to my directory and plan to devote 5 more minutes before abandoning the product. UPDATE: the program must have had a temporary fit, because it now seems to be working very easily- just point, click add and it's added to your subscription list. I picked one at random, so now it is downloading the latest episode of "Verge of the Fringe" whatever that is!)

I have explored the podcast offerings in iTunes which carries a staggering number of podcasts, nicely sorted into categories. You can get free podcasts of many TV shows (I began the download for Entourage, but stopped it when I saw that it would be 24 minutes to complete.

Other podcast directories include,, and Yahoo Podcasts,(I like Yahoo's layout- they make it really easy to browse podcasts- with some hilarious results- I'm listening now to Diggnation- haven't figured out what their schtick is yet- there's also, not surprisingly, lots of porn), and Marv, the Mr. Nice Guy show- relevant due to the fact that he is a self-described reference librarian- I think I'll join his other 61 subscribers and check it out!

That's enough on finding podcasts- soon the issue wwill be getting away from all the podcasts- looks like everyone with a microphone and a computer is podcasting these days!

Thing 22- teach someone else

The opportunity to teach someone else about using these Web 2.0 tools presented itself following m niece's wedding in August. Because our family is scattered across the US, getting and sharing photos from the wedding would be difficult. Her photographer put the professional photos on Shutterfly,and for the rest of us I suggested that we put ours on Flickr. I created a little tutorial using Wink (a free tutorial program that captures screenshots and uses Flash) to show everyone how simple uploading photos to Flickr can be, although not everyone thought it was so simple, and some refused to try it at all. My mother was amazed at how inexpensively she could get the professional photos (Shutterfly gives you the first 15 free, and the remaining 25 or so that she selected came to about $7- delivered. You can also choose to pick them up at a Target near you.)

Interestingly enough, although we all swapped links and emails, no one (except me) posted any comments on the photo sites. Still too new a concept for many people.

Monday, September 10, 2007

You Tube's thing over there

I just changed my search expression (for the YouTube widget that posts random videos on your blog) from "Lake Tahoe" to "Manchester, Vermont" and have gathered a very strange crop of videos- lots of which have to do with soccer in Great Britain (you know- Manchester United et al- not surprising, although I thought it would filter to be a boolean "manchester AND vermont- apparently not, although ultimately, pretty amusing nonetheless- why we all love YouTube). Can't remember how you get yours- will check on it and get back to you.

My Flickr Badge

Just got to say that I really enjoy my Flickr badge (over there on the right hand side of the blog). It shows random, ever-changing photos from my Flickr site and reminds me of the portraits and the newspaper photos in Harry Potter, where the photo subjects would be moving around and waving- talk about interactive!

You can get one here. I love Flickr!

Rollyo-create your own search engine

I don't think we'll be offering Google any serious competition any time soon with this tool. After spending a frustrating amount of time trying to create a searchroll by importing some of my bookmarks (as opposed to manually entering up to 25 urls in a tiny scroll box window), I revisited the site today, armed with a list of ready reference sites, courtesy of a PubLib subscriber. I cut and pasted the urls into the tiny box and ran a search for "US Presidents list" hoping to score a list of US Presidents- I got 2,040 hits, 20 per page, but the relevance was low- lots of citations for "list" "President's" etc. One of the top 5 results was this: "a speech by Michael Heyman, the President of the Smithsonian at the time, in ... If you need a refresher in HTML, visit my list of helpful sites. ..."

I am sure there is a specialized use for this- if for instance you know exactly which haystack contains the needle you're looking for, and you need to keep finding it, but I was not very impressed.

My searchroll is public and is titled "Ready Reference", that is, provided it persists upon logout: the site is unclear as to what is actually saved- it says I have no saved searchrolls, but it lists Ready Reference in my profile.

Oh, yes- and lots of sponsored links and ads, although no weird pop-up junk.

Friday, September 7, 2007

23 things redux-15 down, 8 to finish

OK- I am determined to get InfoPeople's flash drive so I am going to focus on completing the 23 things, which I am copying here from the InfoPeople blog, so I have it all in one place. I am also adding links to the relevant blog posts, and outside sites where appropriate.

The 23 things list:

1. Read this entry (that's right, the one that you are reading now), and this FAQ to find out about the program and to make sure that you are eligible to participate. Remember: to take our challenge you must take or participate in at least one of our Web 2.0 events. (DONE)

2. Set up your own blog on & add your first post.(DONE)

3. Register your blog by sending an email to with your blog's URL and begin your Web 2.0 journey. We will then add your blog to our blogroll that you see on the sidebar of this blog so everyone can see what progress you are making.(DONE)

4. Explore Flickr and learn about this popular image-hosting site. Set up an account and join some groups! And remember, blog about what you learn!.(DONE)

5. Have more Flickr fun and discover some Flickr mashups & third party sites.(DONE)

6. Look at some of these library websites that are using Web 2.0 to enhance their offerings and create a blog post about anything Web 2.0-related that you think would be useful in your library. (MORE)

7. Learn about RSS feeds and set up your own Bloglines newsreader account.(DONE)

8. Locate a few useful library related blogs and/or news feeds and add them to your Bloglines account.(DONE)

TO DO: 9. Sign up for a Twitter account. Track your activities using Twitter for a few days. Think about how Twitter might be useful linked on a library website and blog about your Twitter experience.

10. Play around with an online image generator. Blog about your experience(s).(DONE- see the image at the bottom of my blog- it was surprisingly difficult to find this image generator)

11. Take a look at LibraryThing and catalog some of your favorite books.(DONE-see my sidebar for the nifty LibraryThing widget that shows a changing array of books from my library).)

TO DO: 12. Roll your own search tool with Rollyo.

13. Learn about social bookmarking then create a account and add and tag some Web 2.0 sites. (DONE)(not sure if this link opens my public delicious account or if one needs a password)

TO DO: 14. Explore Technorati and learn how tags work with blog posts.(need to blog about this)

TO DO: 15. Read a few perspectives on Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and the future of libraries and blog your thoughts.(need to blog about this)

16. Learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that libraries are using them. (DONE) Also, I set up a wiki at PBWiki- haven't used it much but it's good to know about the capability: Wikilib.

17. Add an entry to Infopeople's Our 23 Web 2.0 Things wiki. (DONE) I added a post on Blogs but couldn't quite figure out how to do the hyperlinks so they don't show the entire url- will go back sometime and figure it out.

TO DO: 18. Take a look at some online productivity (word processing, spreadsheet) tools.

TO DO: 19. Explore My Maps on Google Maps and create a map for your library and add a picture of it to the map.

20. Discover YouTube and a few sites that allow users to upload and share videos.(DONE)

TO DO: 21. Discover some useful search tools for locating podcasts.

TO DO: 22. Teach someone else how to use one of the technologies described above and blog about your experience!(write up Flickr training)

23. Summarize your thoughts about this program on your blog. (DONE)

Wishlists for ILS features and more

Spent alot of time this morning going through my listservs and came upon some interesting stuff at PubLib, one of which was a blogger's wish list for his next ILS upgrade. Although I suspect that many of these features already do exist in some systems, it is instructive to have the Library 2.0 elements in a list form.

Also a post about a project called MaintainIT: "In true grassroots fashion, the MaintainIT Project is taking to the road to visit rural libraries in northern California, gathering stories about maintaining public computers, spreading the word about the tips and tricks already collected in its free Cookbooks, and learning about the triumphs and challenges libraries face."

I really like the idea of collecting all that information and publishing it on the spot when requested.

Also interesting that Google has created a library utility very much like LibraryThing. It works in conjunction with Google Book Search- I plan on checking it out to see how it compares.

Dynamic Web Sites

I'm taking a class (through Diablo Valley College's online program) on building dynamic websites using Dreamweaver with ASP, ColdFusion and PHP. The training methodology is one that I prefer: the lessons are embedded in the actual hands- on creation of an interactive web site. All three server-side languages will be presented as part of each lesson, thereby providing exposure to more than one, although we will be focusing on PHP and MySQL. It's a little slow getting started- we are currently waiting for access to the DVC development server, and I am tempted to go ahead and install Apache and PHP on my local machine, just to get going. Although I think that would be an instructive experience, my concern is that it could be possibly destructive as well!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Self-publishing made simple

Courtesy of a posting on the PubLib listserv, I was led to an interesting self-publishing site, called Lulu. It claims to be "fast, easy and free" and it looks as though all those claims are true.

Basically you upload a word processing document, choose from a list of formats the desired size and style of your book, select or upload cover art, and hit convert. Your word processing document is then converted to a pdf file in the selected size and becomes available for printing. Printing is done on demand, thus there is no inventory and no cost until an order is placed. Lulu sets a cost price (reflecting their cost to produce the book) and you enter your desired royalty. Cost plus royalty equals the selling price and Lulu gets a percentage of your royalty as a fee. Costs are surprisingly low- $15 for a dust-covered hardcover, although the use of color pages increases the cost somewhat. Lulu also hosts your published work for free. You also hold copyright to your published work.

"Our revenue comes from a small commission on the profits of each item sold. Lulu only makes money if you do. As a creator, you set the amount of Creator Revenue on the items you publish. The Lulu commission is 25% of the Creator Revenue you set (or 19¢, whichever is greater). The Lulu commission therefore equals 20% of the total profit of each item sold."

The list of their all-time best sellers is interesting- it includes programming guides as well as The Ultimate Tatoo guide.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


WebJunction is an amazing resource. Self described as an "online community for library staff", it has resources, training courses and a community of members that can interact in various ways, such as forums, discussion boards, wikis and blogs. On the home page today is an article describing exactly how libraries can use Twitter, the new micro-messaging tool. Also there are links to many great classes, all free.

Some information from the site, explaining who they are, and how they can do all this cool stuff for free (three words: Bill and Melinda):

WebJunction is a cooperative of library staff sharing and using online resources that enable us to identify and embrace appropriate technologies and apply them to our daily work.

To sustain this effort, we partner with library and cultural heritage organizations and those that support them in meeting their objectives through effective use of collaborative, web-based technologies.
In 2002, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded OCLC Online Computer Library Center a three-year grant to build a portal for public libraries and other organizations that provide public access to information. Building on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's five-year Library Program, which has provided over 40,000 computers with Internet access to more than 10,000 libraries across the United States and Canada, WebJunction was initially the work of five organizations, led by OCLC.

Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC is a nonprofit organization that provides computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, and preservation services to more than 56,000 libraries in 91 countries and territories across the world. For the initial grant, OCLC partners for the WebJunction project were:

The Colorado State Library: initial needs assessment and evaluation
The Benton Foundation: online community development
Isoph: online learning management
TechSoup: technology related content and community building

Technology planning in libraries

I'm taking (well, auditing really) a class called Developing a Library Technology Plan, offered by InfoPeople and taught by Lori Bowen Ayers. The class is most meaningful if you have an actual plan to develop, as it points to great resources and clearly outlines a process for developing such a plan. In fact, at the end of the class, you actually have created a technology plan, so therere is a tangible product to reward your efforts. For me, since I am not actually in possession of a library at the moment, it is more of a purely educational effort, and serves to remind me that technology planning (indeed all institutional planning and budgeting) follows the same basic business principles, no matter the venue.

Some of the wonderful resources that Lori has shown us include TechAtlas, a free tool that leads you through the 5 steps to creating a library technology plan: envision, assess, inventory, budget and evaluate. It provides a tool to automatically inventory your entire network, surveys you can use to assess the technology skills of your staff, assessments of your network security, patron technology training, public access computers and much more.

Open Archives and Institutional Repository Software

I recently joined an excellent discussion list,web4lib, hosted by Webjunction. The stated purpose of the list is:

"The Web4Lib electronic discussion is for the discussion of issues relating to the creation, management, and support of library-based World-Wide Web servers, services, and applications."

and the audience is:

"Web4Lib is specifically aimed toward librarians and library staff involved in World-Wide Web management, but anyone is welcome to join the discussion. Those not interested in a library-oriented Web discussion may wish to join one of the general Web discussions hosted by the W3 Organization. There are presently around 3,400 subscribers world wide and an average of 15-20 messages every day."

I find it to be a continually enlightening and educational experience. The members are all very generous with their knowledge and information- and everyday I learn about more open source software, more open access initiatives, and have come to realize how much is going on in the world of information access.

Today, for example, in response to one posting inquiring about sharing content between libraries, a respondent pointed toward institutional respository software, offering 5 links to additional information. Following the links led to an intriguing look at what's happening in this field.

EPrints is one application with a demo site. "EPrints is an open source software package for building open access repositories that are compliant with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. It shares many of the features commonly seen in Document Management systems, but is primarily used for institutional repositories and scientific journals. Eprints has been developed at the University of Southampton and released under a GPL license."

The demo shows more clearly than words exactly what's so great about this type of software.

Also interesting are RefBase, "web-based, platform-independent, multi-user interface for managing scientific literature & citations", Fedora("A Fedora Repository provides a general-purpose management layer for digital objects, and containers that aggregate mime-typed datastreams (e.g., digital images, XML files, metadata). Out-of-the-box Fedora includes the necessary software tools to ingest, manage, and provide basic delivery of objects with few or no custom disseminators, or can be used as a backend to a more monolithic user interface.") and DSpace: "Over 200 academic institutions and cultural organizations around the world have adopted DSpace – as a digital repository for articles, books, courseware, journals, websites, theses and more.
DSpace is freely available so you can customize it and extend it to suit your needs."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Software for libraries

I read about a public library in Maryland (Howard County Library) that has moved to an Ubuntu Linux based application (known as Groovix) for its public access computers.

Excerpts from the article:
"After I saw the Groovix deployment, with RealPlayer and other media support, there was no turning back. We begin piloting in January and it went effortlessly." De Groff tested the operating system on her existing hardware, upgrading the RAM from 128MB to 512MB. "The bulk of them are Dell GX150s with some GX100s," she says. "The newest machines are four years old." De Groff also added GCompris, a GPLed educational software package for children that includes more than 80 games."

Also, words of advice on learning what your patrons are actually doing on the computers as opposed to what the library staff thinks they are doing:

"We talked to our staff and they said the customers were searching the catalog. But when we talked to the customers, they said, 'We're reading email and doing online banking.' And then when we tracked hits, 70% of them were to MySpace. They may also be banking and need a secure system, but the audio and video are obviously very important as well. Your feedback from the staff isn't always consistent with the data you're going to generate -– so put it all together and meet all those needs

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Yelp reviews libraries

This was a surprise to me- I thought the Yelpers were just into food. Anyway, I checked out the Yelp reviews for the Berkeley Public Library, and discovered that everybody loved it- along with some interesting comments.

Here's one excerpt:
"the berkeley library has the goods! the earnest nerdy librarians, a solid fiction room, dvds, cds, even a respectable foreign language books section. they can get you pretty much any book you want, though you may have to wait for it to arrive via some special magic lending source, and new books can be awfully hard to see on the shelf. i plug away looking for the new books to no avail until i just forget that i ever wanted to read them and settle on whatever vapid fiction is sitting on the shelf"

OK- I'll get past the "earnest nerdy librarians" crack and get down to the great suggestion- how to spotlight new books, or good books, or any book recommendations at all. My North Berkeley branch has a shelf of librarian recommendations (which I always check) but it is usually empty because people have taken the books out- this is prime marketing space and should NEVER be allowed to be empty- if the recommended book gets checked out- put another in its place. People LOVE recommendations.

Ann Arbor District Library catalog

The AADL has a great catalog, which we are reviewing as part of this week's exercise in the eBranch course. Among the many interactive features, it has reviews by patrons,tags and comments as well as many ways to browse the catalog. The tags feature is very well done- it first presents a page of the top 500 tags, then, in a sidebar, lists the top 10 tags, the 10 most recent tags, 10 random tags and 10 reviews. Each one is a link to the tagged items which then link back to the catalog. According to our instructor, AADL has modified an Innovative Interfaces catalog to include these features. It would be great to hear how they did it.

Also interesting is that the top 10 tags were dominated by manga related terms: fantasy, anime, manga, shonen jump, shonen, time travel, ghosts, half-demon, demons. It would appear that the most avid taggers are the anime fans- suggestive of the demographic likely to use this type of interactive feature.

A fun little feature is a card catalog image to which you can add comments instantly. I added the note, "This is neat", not really expecting it to post, but it did. In looking at the source code, it appears to be some kind of php script interacting with a form, but I couldn't quite figure it out. It's a neat trick though could be hard to deal with the graffiti.

Another interesting feature of the catalog is the options that are listed along with the bibliographic information on the book. The options are: Request this book, Card Catalog Image, Look inside this book @ Google books, Table of Contents, Summary/Annotations (these last two apparently through Syndetic Solutions).

Monday, July 9, 2007

Flickr and podcasting in libraries

Flickr is a must for libraries- I liked the Hennepin Library's "Bookspace" series, in which patrons submitted photos of themselves reading books. It's fun to look at pictures, and people who attend library events will feel more a part of the library if they see themselves on the libray website- in fact, they'll probably tell their friends and relatives to take a look, too. I really liked Westmont Public Library's idea of showing the new books, with the option to link directly back to the library catalog - I have to figure out how that's done- something involving objects I guess. Knowing how simple Flickr makes things, it's probably not too difficult. Also want to explore the Swan Online Catalog they are apparently using.

Podcasting is a bit harder- all the downloading and whatnot probably deters alot of novice users. The explanations are kind of wordy- all the sites needed clearer, simpler explanations, but Denver did a nice job. Their page is so friendly looking that it inspires trust in the user.

Juice and podcasts

Last week's exercise on multimedia content on library websites led to all sorts of dabbling, including figuring out how to email photos from a cameraphone to Flickr, how to post photos from Flickr to my blog (here's a link to Flickr's page telling you how to do this- all very simple, which is why Flickr is so popular) and how to set up a podcast receiver. I installed Juice but have not figured out how it works- the only MP3 player I have at the moment is my daughter's beloved iPod and she would be devastated if anything happened to it. Since disaster is frequently one click away in the world of internet explorations, I think I'll wait until I get one of my own. I think this is something like a feed aggregator, that automatically collects new podcsts from rss feeds that you specify and works with a reader like iTunes.

Storytelling podcasts

I have reviewed the Denver Public Library's site before, but found something new on this latest visit (the definition of a good website- something new each time you visit): a link to multimedia stories, available for free through a vendor, August House. I listened to and watched a charming story called The Drum. Interactive features include an option to read the story, with a button to click if you want a narrator to read along with you. The spoken text is highlighted in short phrases as the words are spoken, quite effective for developing word recognition. Another selection is called "Music Fun" and you click on the drums you want to hear, and two players on a stage do the drumming while small animals dance to the beat (the smiling alligator is really cute!)You can print out a coloring book, mazes and some "what's wrong with this picture?" pages. Under the Family Fun tab are instructions for baking the bread from the story and making a drum from an oatmeal container. Story Cove is sponsored by August House Publishers and describes its services this way:

"Story Cove folktales come from a variety of cultures and places. They share timeless values and simple, universal lessons.

The Story Cove format enables children and their families to explore these stories in a variety of ways. As a result, each child is able to develop a more personal understanding of a story while also exercising and developing a range of intelligences. This allows each child to discover and develop his own interest in the stories."

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Colgate Graduation Brunch

Same group with me, originally uploaded by bonnieknight.

The weather was lousy but the graduation was great.

Friday, July 6, 2007

check it out

Recipients of a SirsiDynix Building Better Communities Awards:
(among others, but these two I want to check out)

• Lincoln Trail Libraries System – The library’s “PolyTalk” program is an innovative service to help Illinois libraries of all types reach out to people with limited English language skills.

SUNLINK: Florida Department of Education – SUNLINK uses a variety of technologies to improve access to information to Florida K-12 students, parents, administrators and library media specialists. To learn even more about the Building Better Communities Awards recipients, visit

More on Second Life and Libraries

When I was logged into Second Life this afternoon, the statistics were something like 7 million subscribers, 1 million active and 40,000 currently logged in. As I was aimlessly teleporting around, I noticed that many of the others were speaking German (not sure where I was- one place was the Carribean Jazz Club or some such name, with an avatar wailing “How do I stop dancing?”) so maybe I just stumbled upon particularly Germanic haunts, but, back to my original point, I do wonder how large a library constituency is actually inhabiting SL on a regular basis. More to the point may be its potential as an interactive space, useful for instructional purposes, and informational exchange. I am trying to get to the SJSU SLIS site to see what they are doing. Will report back when I manage to figure out how to get there.

From the Talis blogCybrary City, an extension of library services in Second Life:

It is intended that Cybrary City will fulfil two main purposes, both somewhat different to the services already delivered by existing Second Life Library properties. Firstly, Cybrary City will offer services for librarians including a librarians' library and training facilities suitable for teaching the delivery of Second Life services and for offering physically distributed groups an opportunity to come together to share their ideas and experiences. With Second Life already reaching a demographic with which many real world libraries report difficulty in engaging, and with techniques and practices tested here in Second Life liable to prove highly aposite as we seek to virtually deliver services from libraries in a growing number of online environments, this is surely to be broadly welcomed.

Secondly, Cybrary City will offer individual real world libraries a space of their own in Second Life within which they can offer information about themselves and their services. They might also wish to staff those spaces in order to offer their patrons a different mode of engagement.

IM, My Space and Second Life

As an exercise for the "Building a Successful eBranch" class, we were instructed to review some library sites in these venues, and create some accounts. Here are some of my observations:

IM services (Princeton University, Santa CLara University and the St. Charles Public Library)
All three of these libraries did a nice job of presenting the IM reference services and linking to the IM providers. I particularly liked SCU’s Ask a Librarian page- nicely laid out and clear. Downloading the MSN messenger was a bit strenuous – more personal info than I like to divulge, and a blatant attempt to upsell their other services. I have to add a few buddies before I can evaluate. I am particularly interested in the live video messaging- could be a good reference format.

My Space pages (Denver Public Library, University of Texas Libraries and the Thomas Ford Memorial Library):
I understand and appreciate the need to meet the patrons where they are, but not sure how effective this is- it may be perceived as an adult intrusion, or an attempt to be cool. The Denver site was the best- lots of content and it looks like it’s current and has participation. The UT site also has friends, although not that much content that I could see. The Thomas Ford page looked lonesome, and sounded a bit plaintive- only 8 friends (that’s more than I have, but still…) When your last entry is “Hey does anybody ever check this thing anymore?”, it might be time for a new tactic.

Second Life:
Second Life is hard work. I created an avatar some months ago- Dewdrop Raymaker- and went back recently to wander around. In my absence, a newer version was released and required a reinstallation of the application. After two tries, the new version was downloaded and installed (hopefully uninstalling the old version in the process) and I was finally able to log in. Not that I know what to do once I’m there. The learning curve is steep, not at all intuitive for the novice player.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Creating a Wiki

How easy was that? PBWiki is a great site- I really like their instructional videos and setting up a wiki is dead simple. Here's mine: Wikilib. I plan to explore the use of wikis as educational tools, so I will be playing with the plugins and the templates, watching the tutorials and messing about to see how stuff works. I already added the "YackPack" which allows those logged into the wiki to talk to each other- for classroom collaboration, that would be great.

Wikis- what works and what doesn't

As an exercise for the class, we were instructed to look at six examples of wikis that are being used in libraries. They are being used for subject guides, electronic resource guides, staff information, reference guides and OCLC's user comments system (to be released apparently in September, according to their website).

After looking at the examples, I would conclude that wikis are useful as a way to collect, organize, present and update particular information. The UConn staff wiki was particularly well organized, and obviously useful (for the staff, that is). I also liked the St. Joseph County Pulic Library's Subject Guide wiki which was very well organized, frequently updated and easy to navigate.

One of the features of a wiki is the possibility for user interaction- something that seemed to be missing from all of these examples. I think the chief value is if multiple people in an organization need to contribute material, a wiki is a convenient way to collaborate.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Teen rules for blogs and boards

One of the sites we were to evaluate was the Gameblog of the St. Joseph County Public Library. This is a very lively blog, with an active discussion board, apparently moderated by two staff members who seem very much in tune with their patrons.

I was struck by the sensible list of rules that one of the moderators set forth in an initial post to the discussion board. Despite evidence that the rules are enforced, resulting in many participants being "banned" either for a period of time, or, for more serious infractions, permanently, the gamers seem to accept it philosophically.

The rules are:

#1 Be nice and we won't kick you out.

#2 I have a feeling that none of you are new to boards, but if you have any questions, feel free to IM or email me.

#3 Avatars can't be larger than 80x80 and 6k.

#4 Signatures are allowed, but please keep the graphics down to 150px high or 500px wide. Also, don't go nuts. Keep it to 2 images max. You can always change it later.

#5 Do not directly link to an image that isn't yours. It's called bandwidth theft and it's not nice. Try using ImageShack, PhotoBucket, or AllYouCanUpload.

#6 Right now there is no #6, so check back here often so we don't have to say, "I told ya so!"

Building a successful e-Branch- Infopeople's online class

I am taking this online class with Sarah Houghton-Jan as the instructor.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Library Reviews: PLCMC

Charlotte & Mecklenberg Public Library: (besides having a way too long name!) most of the links from the home page were non-functional on my visit this morning, which, in my opinion, is a fatal error. I have just checked back, and they appear to be working now, so maybe I just happened upon a rare glitch- hopefully, because non-working links are a fatal error in my opinion.

Library Reviews: Denver Public Library

Some observations from viewing the websites for the suggested libraries:

Denver Public Library:
I really liked their Kids page, Wonder Web, although when I first tried the kid search, it returned an error. After another few tries, it worked. They seem to be using a product from TLC, Carl. I's quite kid-friendly in appearance. They had great graphics on the kids page, bright colors, good categorization. The podcasts are a good idea (Beatrix Potter stories, songs, interviews), some great weblinks to games and other sites, and a nice "write your own book review" feature that can tie to the catalog.

I also like the "Downloadable Media Site", although that is a clunky name. There seems to be some confusion as to what to call this stuff- Berkeley Public Library refers to it as "online resources" (which category also includes online databases, and eBooks are not easy to find as a category), PLCMC calls it "Digital Media Downloads", and has a prominent link to the page from the home page which is good. This nomenclature is not very user-friendly and might be confusing and off-putting to patrons.

DPL's "e-center" does have a nice menu, though, and clearly separates eFlicks, eBooks, eAudiobooks, and further classifies some as most recent, always available, children and teens. They also provide clear help instructions (although I think a patron has to be somewhat tech-savvy to attempt the downloads).

Although I mostly like the home page, I am not sure I agree that one third of it should be devoted to Live News Feeds, particularly since they are national news feeds rather than local. Their menu opens from the side, which can be somewhat annoying as it blocks the middle column if your mouse strays over there, but it's a good menu- logical and thorough.

Another cool feature is the downloadable toolbar- I would be interested to know how many patrons actually download this. Also liked the bottom row with four interactive options: bookmark, newsletter, comments and donate.

On the whole, a clean, useful "well-lighted" website.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

On demand books

I was reading an article from the New York Times on BookExpo America that mentioned, which has created the Espresso Book Machine.

From their website:
"On Demand Books LLC. is planning to become the first company to globally deploy a low cost, totally automatic book machine (The Espresso Book Machine), which can produce 15 - 20 library quality paperback books per hour, in any language, in quantities of one, without any human intervention. This technology and process will produce one each of ten different books at the same speed and cost as it can produce ten copies of the same book. ODB has two machines currently deployed (one at the World Bank InfoShop in Washington DC, and one at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt).

ODB is also finalizing technology to access a vast network of content that can be accessed and produced via The Espresso Book Machine Network. The content of this library will reside in numerous locations from a multitude of sources. Our system will accept multiple formats, and fully respect licenses and rights."

As the company's co-founder said, "This could replace the entire supply chain that has been in existence since Gutenberg."

Their website is very rudimentary- a single page with the above claim, some contact info and some video clips that took forever to download. The machine kind of looks like Wallace and Grommet invented it.

I also wonder if reproducing books is really the wave of the future. It seems contrary to the research and development efforts in the electronic access to printed material that has been the focus of the future.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Google Reader

Not that I need another feed aggregator...I already have Bloglines (too hard to get to), my Yahoo homepage (comes with the SBC DSL line service, and is quite visible and accessible, being on my homepage, but also limited because you just don't want to see all that stuff when you first log in), but somehow, while I was trying to add an rss feed to my blog, I came upon the Google Reader aggregator-very nice, easy to use- great feature of bundling selected blogs into categories (like the "geek" bundle, the "news" bundle, etc. offering the "top"?? 5 or 6 sites in the category (how do you get on the list?)

It seems a bit buggy (the perpetual beta effect maybe) in that the settings page never fully loaded (giving me an error on page message), but true to Google's spirit, it is really simple to use.

The Democratization of Culture

I must say that I am enjoying my embedded videos. I just checked in to see what YouTube had put up there, and clicked on a rather nice poetry reading. This may be the real use of these things- a constant trolling for new, relevant and interesting content, not necessarily from traditional sources. We have all become accustomed to getting our stuff through "authorized channels"- department stores, newspapers, published sources and (dare I say?) libraries. In this model, the validation process is built into the production and distribution process, the theory being akin to peer-review for scholarly works or market forces in the case of books and movies. The reasoning is that these businesses are in it for the money, and the money is in what people want: ergo the publishers and producers are giving us what we want. BUT are they? I think the whole Web 2.0 thing proves that we are not getting what we want from the traditional sources.

After viewing some quite professional music on the Baeble site, seeing some quite amazing videos and photographs on YouTube and Flickr, it occurs to me that what we are really witnessing here is a total democratization of culture.

If it's still up there, check out- ....darn, it's gone. Now I'll have to search YouTube to find it again, but I will.

Wait- it's back! It's called "When Mystery Winks and Smiles". If it floats by, please click on it and it will play. This is not actually immediately obvious on the widget, and may not work in all browsers, but it sure is fun.

Enhancing the blog

I was trying to add an RSS feed to my blog, which I was not able to do, but stumbled instead upon this new feature which lets you add videos from YouTube and Google video to your blog. I chose "Flowers" for the title, and roses, daffodils and irises for the subjects. Very odd collection of videos resulted- including a Guns n Roses video and some other things. It seems to change, so I'll keep an eye on it- maybe change my search terms to be more specific.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


In my explorations I came upon a site that posts new music videos- it's kind of like YouTube:

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Library 2.0 Review

As per Infopeople's suggestion, I am reviewing these libraries using Web 2.0 technologies:
Charlotte and Mecklinburg County
Ann Arbor District Library
Denver Public Library
Seattle Public Library
In particular, I will examine how they are using RSS feeds, podcasting, MySpace and Second Life to reach their patrons. (I'm listing them here so I can take advantage of the hyperlinking all in one place- this kind of research usually leads to many open browsers, and a bewildered feeling that I've lost track of what I started out to do).

I think I will start first with RSS- I have feeds on my homepage, and have created a bloglines accouint some time ago. Time to go back and refresh my memory and then examine how these libraries are using this technology.

Flickr mashups: Thing #5

I have spent some time (way too much time) fooling around with Flickr mashups.
Here's a cute one, called FlickIt which generates thumbnail images based on a word. In this example, I set the image size to 85 and the query (or subject) to "book":

Images from FlickIt!

FlickIt "is the simple yet extremely useful web service for dynamically generating thumbnails of anything."

The images are somewhat random and change with each screen refresh, lending a certain air of unpredictability but a nice feeling of dynamic content.

Another fun mashup is depictr which combines photos from FlickR with song lyrics.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Flickr fun: Thing #4

I uploaded photos from my son's college graduation to share with family and friends. Setting up the account and uploading the photos was a breeze- Flickr's instructions are simple and clear. Sharing was a bit of a challenge, but I now realize that was because it takes some time for the system to incorporate uploaded photos and tags. You can also create a personalized url that leads people directly to your photos. I created mine to make it easy for people to find the pictures, and also used a Flickr utility to "invite" others to join.

Search engine tips

I just joined a LibraryThing group (Librarians Who LibraryThing) and in browsing the discussions, came upon a link to a member's blog, in particular a posting on the blog about Google search tips and other search engine advice.
As the member explained in the posting, "At my library, we have a blog of search advice specifically related to Google for the students (the idea being, if you can't beat 'em, at least show 'em how to do it well)."
The posting also discusses a well known, but surprisingly infrequently used option: the "I'm feeling Lucky" button.
from the blog: "I’m Feeling Lucky takes you straight to the first (most “popular”) website of what would have shown up at the top of your results list if you had done a regular search. If what you are looking for is a specific site that it is well-known or the top site for a particular topic, then you will probably be in luck. We all appreciate one less click, right? If you are doing an I-want-it-all search on a topic, it’s obviously not the route to travel."

Readers Advisory tools

What Should I Read Next? website suggests items you might like reading based on real readers' recommendations.
I searched for London Fields and these
were the results:

A Man Called Intrepid: The Secret War, by William Stevenson
Dorian by Will Self
Night and Day by Virginia Woolf
Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon by Tony Fletcher
The Green Knight by Iris Murdoch
The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony by Roberto Calasso, Tim Parks
After the Banquet by Yukio Mishima
A Body in the Bath House by Lindsey Davis
Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth
Light by Craig Taylor

All in all, a very intriguing list. I think I'll check some of these out.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Libraries and Blockbuster

on the future:

I think it is instructive to look at the battle between Netflix and Blockbuster. Blockbuster was firmly a bricks and mortar establishment, and very successful, penetrating deep in the neighborhoods, almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks.

Along came Netflix, and scooped up lots of customers who were too busy to go to a store. Blockbuster immediately (or sort of immediately) responded by setting up an online service to rival Netflix, and gained back some customers, but not all.

Hmmm. What advantages did Blockbuster have over NetFlix? Bricks and mortar! Immediate gratification. Once Blockbuster realized this and developed a program where users could either return videos through the mail or in a store (if it was Saturday night, and the video skipped/sucked/or had already been seen), they began to beat NetFlix at their own game. I am even considering switching although for some (probably programmed) reason, think NetFlix is the "better business".

Sounds like libraries vs. Amazon and vs all the other so-called competitive threats. Having a physical presence in a virtual world can be an advantage.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

LibraryThing in action

The Danbury Public Library has added LibraryThing for Libraries to its OPAC as reported on The Thingology Blog.

It's an interesting article that descibes both the positives and negatives og the experience. Tagging is described in some detail. The tag browser does take a long time to load- but, according to the posting, they are aware of the issue and working on it.

One question I have on tags is why they are formatted the way they are (ie. different fonts, weights, sizes, etc)? Where is that controlled? Guess I'll have to look it up.

Monday, May 14, 2007

23 Things: 5 Things to Date: #1,2,3,11,12

This reminds me a bit of getting Girl Scout badges- I enjoyed that too!
Anyway, for the record, these are the Things I have done so far:

1. Read the entry, the FAQs, and listened to Helene Blowers' presentation. I am also enrolled for the "Developing a successful eBranch" online 4-week workshop as well as "Developing a library Technology Plan".

2. Set up my own blog- here it is!

3. Registered said blog with InfoPeople.

11. I have been using Library Thing for quite a while- I have a link on my website ( that is a widget from Library Thing that sends random picks from your library- it's cute but a little buggy-acting. I have not catalogued many books, but will play around with adding more. It is a great tool- very simple to use, which I guess is a key feature of all these Web 2.0 things.

12. I have had a account for quite some time, and actually had to renew my "membership". I guess since Yahoo bought them they have changed some things. I was extremely pleased to find that I could import my IE Favorites list automatically- it assigned tags based on the folder names. Very simple. I now have 569 items, and have come to appreciate the efficiency of tracking things this way.

So, 5 down, and 18 to go. Onward to YouTube!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

InfoPeople's 23 things

I registered my blog with InfoPeople's 23 things challenge and have already learned some new things from the other participants.

Looking through the participants' blogs on the InfoPeople's "Our 23 Web 2.0 Things Challenge" blog, I took a look at Stephanie's blog and followed a link to another of her blogs, where I saw that she had this cool Meebo widget for live chat. I went to the Meebo page and it was very simple (3 steps) to create a widget, then copy it. Then, back at Blogger,went to "Add a Page Element: Choose a New Page Element", selected "HTML/Javascript" (Add third party functionality) and paste the script into the add feature. Then I was prompted to preview and place it, hit save, and there it was. Will now log into Meebo and see how the chat functions.
Thanks, Stephanie!

Friday, May 11, 2007

TomDispatch - Tomgram: Ward, How the Public Library Became Heartbreak Hotel

TomDispatch - Tomgram: Ward, How the Public Library Became Heartbreak Hotel

Libraries and the homeless

I just read a remarkable blog post by Chip Ward, former Assistant Director of the Salt Lake City Public Library, posted on Tom Englehardt's blog,

The posting is detailed and impassioned, and best read in the original. I can't resist quoting from it, but everyone should read it in its entirety.

Here's an excerpt:

"In the meantime, the Salt Lake City Public Library -- Library Journal's 2006 "Library of the Year" -- has created a place where the diverse ideas and perspectives that sustain an open and inclusive civil society can be expressed safely, where disparate citizens can discover common ground, self-organize, and make wise choices together. We do not collect just books, we also gather voices. We empower citizens and invite them to engage one another in public dialogues. I like to think of our library as the civic ballroom of our community where citizens can practice that awkward dance of mutuality that is the very signature of a democratic culture.

And if the chronically homeless show up at the ball, looking worse than Cinderella after midnight? Well, in a democratic culture, even disturbing information is useful feedback. When the mentally ill whom we have thrown onto the streets haunt our public places, their presence tells us something important about the state of our union, our national character, our priorities, and our capacity to care for one another. That information is no less important than the information we provide through databases and books. The presence of the impoverished mentally ill among us is not an eloquent expression of civil discourse, like a lecture in the library's auditorium, but it speaks volumes nonetheless."

Web 2.0, library 2.0

I just finished listening to Helene Blowers InfoPeople podcast on "Web 2.0: What Library Managers Need to Know" . Her presentation is great- very succinct, focused and easy to understand. I was particularly interested in her description of her library's My Space page, and its impact on their teen patrons. Also interesting was that InfoPeople has created its own "23 Things" challenge modelled after Blowers' own program. It can be found here. I do think she deserves credit for coming up with this training method- it's a perfect match of means and method- the doing is the learning, which is something she also stressed in her presentation. "Playing" is working, and these web explorations are knowledge gathering exercises.


I have been knee deep in PHP for the past week- found a good tutorial, PHP from the ground up by Tim Ziegler, and have been proceeding to explore the possibilities that PHP offers. It's surprisingly easy to work with, although I anticipate that without a great deal of experience, one would need to keep a manual handy. I am using Yahoo's web server rather than installing Apache on my machine, even though the testing is somewhat tedious as I have to ftp the files back and forth. Lots of great resources on this site, Webmonkey.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

lots of help

Many wonderful resources-
HTMLSource: HTML Tutorials is an informative and well-organized site with lots of good information on web design (it's amusing as well)
Later, looking through the ALA Direct newsletter, I found several interesting resources and articles. Good article on search engines: Search Engine Shootout. PC World tested Google against some other search engines and concluded it was the best. One of the commentors on the article mentioned a search engine toolbar that looks interesting. "Absolute Toolbar is "an all in one toolbar that has a new powerful multi line tabbed search bar in addition to the version 1.5. It allows you to have search functionalities of hundreds of toolbars organized in a multi level tabs."
Although it looks pretty cool, I am somewhat leary of downloads after fatally crashing my computer yesterday, following the download of a Second Life upgrade and the Yahoo widgets (their answer to Google gadgets). The widgets were messy looking and crowded my already crowded desktop, so I quickly removed it. I prefer the Google gadgets which are simpler to review.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

podcasts, bells and whistles

Some useful information on things like podcasts from where I took a four day email class in creating and editing audio files, as well as a class in Web Design. While the instructions are kind of basic, both classes led me to other resources, such as finding a free digital audio editor Audacity. Of course, trying to figure out how to use the program is taking some time, but I have been playing around with my new microphone, trying to embed some audio on my website.


I have been working on creating a website for a couple of weeks now. I started by creating a domain name and signing up with Yahoo web hosting. Originally I was going to create my pages from scratch, using just the XHTML and CSS coding in a text editor (I have been using Notepad), but then decided that getting a finished product would take a really long time (and would probably be kind of primitive, at least in the beginning), so I shopped around for a template to use. Can't quite remeber how I found it, but I decided to use one called "Softened Cells" from . My task then changed to adding content and figuring out how the template worked (extensive CSS file- still trying to configure it). Also having to hack the HTML to do some things not covered, so, although the site is still in a very developmental state, I have learned alot. My site (keep in mind it is still evolving) is

Monday, April 23, 2007

for openers

Recently I realized that knowing about Web 2.0 current events and actually applying these new things in a library setting are two very distinct things. While doing my customary daily "research" (which involves a random walk through the library blogoshpere, with frequent digressions via hyperlink, until much time has passed and the applications are still not filled in), I stumbled upon a link to the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg Country ( ) and an interesting online learning program developed by their technology director, Helene Blowers, called Learning 2.0: 23 Things (
Setting up a blog was Thing #3, and it's a useful exercise. I already am in the throes of trying to create a website, so this will be a useful notebook type space to attempt to organize the ramblings.
The program is very neatly organized and presented- it looks like an excellent way to introduce these new technologies to a technophobic or just inexperienced audience. The very process of moving through the list provides exposure to the technologies involved- listening to podcasts, viewing an online tutorial. The exercises are carefully limited in scope, so as not to overwhelm. I see that the online tutorial was done using a presentation package from Articulate (in the source code, the website is listed as ; they have eLearning tools (including Presenter, which was used for this presentation) available (15-day free trials available- I will be trying that out).

And, actually I do remember the circuitous route to this link: I was looking at the website for the Darien (CT) Public Library, which is one of the oft-mentioned technologically hip library websites, and saw a mention of John Blyberg, who has recently been hired in some technical capacity by the DPL. This led to a link back to Blyberg's blog, wherein he posted the Library Journal's 2007 Movers & Shakers list. Helene Blowers was listed with her "Steal this idea" and here we are- some 90 minutes later...