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.