Monday, May 19, 2008

Thing #23: Wrapping Up

Whew, I'm glad this is nearly over! It's been a pretty wild ride from my end, trying to keep up with editing blog entries, reading blog posts, tracking players on our spreadsheet and completing my own 23 things.

I'd had some experience with most of the things on the list, so the real challenge for me was teaching folks without sitting right next to them. The chatty blog posts that we cribbed from PLCMC are not my style; I prefer bullet points and numbered lists, and I think the players would have an easier time figuring out what they needed to do with lists. The podcasts from PLCMC should probably go as well. I didn't find them helpful and it was just another time-consuming step for folks to follow. I'd like to see things more streamlined for next year.

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Thing #22 : ListenNJ

I used audiobooks to keep up with reading for my literature classes while I was in college. I would have used ListenNJ to get my hands on a lot of the titles that the library didn't have on the shelf.

I didn't have any real problems downloading and installing the software, and I downloaded Jack Kerouac's Big Sur. I should have listened to the excerpt clip that was provided, because only after I downloaded, burned CDs and tranferred the book to my iPod did I listen to the reader and discovered I couldn't stand his voice. Ah, well. I know many audiobook consumers can be particular about the readers, so having the sample audio is a great feature. The bib record doesn't clearly state the reader's name, but it's under the author's name and they are indexed so voice groupies can find their faves.

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Thing #21: Podcasts

I have an iPod and and use iTunes to download at least a dozen podcasts each week. It's easy to find and subscribe to them, and i always have a new episode to listen to.

I used Odeo to find the Onion podcast embedded below. From their homepage I clicked on the comedy link, and The Onion was one of the featured podcasts. I love their print and digital stuff, but I wouldn't subscribe and download the podcasts as they're just short clips. It's easier to go to Odeo and listen to them, and embedding in a blogpost is pretty easy.

powered by ODEO is easier to search, download and subscribe to feeds of podcasts, but you can't embed, only email a link. I'm probably more likely to return to this site rather than Odeo to do any downloading.

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Thing #20: YouTube

YouTube could be a major timesuck at home if it didn't take 45 minutes to load a 4-minute video on dial-up. There are some pretty creative people adding their own content, but they are definitely in the minority. In the digital age, any twit with a digital camera can upload a video of themselves lipsynching some crappy song or reenacting a scene from last night's episode of The Hills. Blech.

I love being able to find TV clips from days gone by and other countries, as well as old music videos and live performances. In the last year, I've gotten hooked on Flight of the Conchords and found a bunch of clips from Australian and New Zealand tv appearances from earlier in their career. It's interesting to see the evolution of their stage personae as well as the songs.

"Bowie" on Wellington NZ local cable show Newtown Salad in 2000:

From @ 2002 on Australian tv:

And from their 2007 HBO series:

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Thing #19: Web 2.0 Awards

I've browsed through and tried out a bunch of the winners and honorable mentions, most notably 43 Things, Wayfaring, Clipmarks, Craigslist, Wetpaint, Zillow and Facebook. There are a lot of great resources here, but I find it difficult to use most of them from home due to having dial-up access.

If I still had my own desk and pc at work, I would definitely be using Pandora every day (if I wasn't listening to WFMU shows). I've created a couple of stations, but what I like best is being introduced to new music. I have eclectic taste, so choosing a more obscure artist to create a station around usually leads me to an interesting mix of unfamiliar music.

There are other music tools I've found that didn't make it onto the Web 2.0 Awards, but I recommend them highly:

Mixaloo lets you create playlists that can be saved, shared and embedded. You can listen to streams of other folks' mixes all day long, and you can buy and sell mixes as well.

Finetune is another playlist tool that allows tagging of individual songs as well as artists, and can generate playlists based on user provided metadata

Musicovery is an interactive discovery web that lets you choose the style, mood, time frame and popularity level of music and lets you listen to music while seeing related artists and songs. You can also change the country orientation (US, UK, France, Spain, Portugal) to add international flavor.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thing #18 - Web Apps

Before joining the OCL Web Things committee, I'd never tried using Google Docs, but now I'm hooked. This is a great solution for anyone with internet access to use instead of shelling out for Microsoft Office. I'd especially recommend it to students who need to work on papers from different locations (school, home, library); they can be sure there's a copy of their work archived online.

I could see branches using it for meeting minutes and memos that need to be shared among staff, and Google Docs could act as a collective archive. Any committee could use it for the same reason, and keep collaborative projects going there as well.

Technorati tags: , web apps, google docs

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thing #17 - Play in the Sandbox

A wiki would be a great place for each branch to store training info/documentation, internal committee info, anything that would need to be referred to again that doesn't contain sensitive personal info.

The Trendspotters use one our meeting minutes, reading assignments and pertinent links.

Thing #16 - Wikis

In the Library Success wiki, I was poking around looking for links to help with the Trendspotters Committee proposals. I was disappointed to see some areas of the wiki had not been updated in 2 years (!); a good feature of a wiki would be an alert to the wiki moderator to any pages that haven't been edited in a certain amount of time, so attention could be paid.

The OCL Wikipedia article was interesting and enlightening. As for the history tab section, I could see there were repeat editors, and I suppose they are most likely staff members with a vested interest in keeping the information updated and correct.

Thing #15 - On Library 2.0 & Web 2.0...

No profession can survive if it throws its core principles and values overboard in response to every shift in the zeitgeist. However, it can be equally disastrous when a profession fails to acknowledge and adapt to radical, fundamental change in the marketplace it serves. At this point in time, our profession is far closer to the latter type of disaster than it is to the former. We need to shift direction, and we can’t wait for the big ship of our profession to change course first. It’s going to have to happen one library—one little boat—at a time.
"Away from the 'icebergs'"
Rick Anderson
Director of Resource Acquisition,
University of Nevada, Reno Libraries

I found this quote to match most closely how I feel about Library 2.0 & Web 2.0 and the impact on OCL.

The speed of life and technology has accelerated exponentially since the advent of the home computer age in 1980. Although the methods that people search for and retain information have been enhanced by computers, humans haven't universally adapted. Many folks would still prefer to use the physical card catalog, while some seem to prefer not to touch paper at all.

The library needs to find a middle ground between the analog and the digital. Folks (customers) who can't/won't use the online card catalog will have to turn to staff to search for them when they need something specific; we need to be there for them. It's called job security, people! One thing this challenge has taught me is that 1/3 of people are enthusiastic learners, 1/3 are willing but at varying degrees of able, and 1/3 are just not interested and have other priorities. You can lead a horse to water...

As an institution, libraries are having serious growing pains in the information age, an age we should OWN. It is our business to continue to develop paths of access to information, to adapt to what technology has to offer as far as information storage, organization and retrieval. But yes, we need to keep hard copies (books) of information available as a balance against the constant flux of changing current information, and keep in mind that the printed word survives, more reliably, that counting on some server somewhere in cyberspace. Digital storage is just not as reliable as many utopian thinkers believe it is. A virus has killed at least one of my computers, but it hasn't erased the ink from any book I own.

The other issue I explored was cooperative intelligence as discussed by Chip Nilges in his article "To more powerful ways to cooperate." I especially like the concept of users adding value, and OCLC is a great model for libraries across the country collectively creating metadata for everyone to mine. As someone who cataloged for several years, this collective model saves tons of hours of work.

By extension, I like the idea of mining the collective intelligence of patrons by enabling them to participate in the cataloging process with tagging. Let's face it, Library of Congress subject headings work well for library folk who are familiar with the structure and vocabulary, but civilians are often confounded by them. I once helped a man looking for a video on home improvement search for "sheetrock". I found NOTHING, though I knew we had a video on the subject. As it turned out, sheetrock is a brand name, though people in the building trade use is freely to refer to wallboard or drywall. "Drywall" was the only word our catalogers had deemed necessary to include in the subject guide, with no see reference to the commonly used "sheetrock" or less commonly used "wallboard."

If I had been able, I would have added the see reference myself so not only I, but others, could find the items using common language, not MLS/LC/OCLC-vetted language. In a tagging-enabled catalog, user themselves could add tags that could be accessed by all users, using language that everyone can understand.

Thing #14 - Technorati

I prefer Technorati's old interface, but things inevitably change...

If I was a "real" blogger, commenting regularly on current events and other blogs & websites, I would probably find Technorati invaluable. I could track reactions to my own blog posts and how well regarded my blog is as an "authority".

I don't find it too terribly useful as a blog reader, however. It's more oriented to active blog authors .

Thing #13 - Tagging, folksonomies & social bookmarking in

I am a "power user", with several accounts for different purposes. I check the main page several times every day, add at least a few new bookmarks every day, and have my tags bundled and organized. I barely ever use the favorites on my pc because my is more up to date and easier to use.

At our presentation to Admin last year, the Trendspotters Committee introduced the many uses of and how it would benefit OCL. Just last week I was contacted by the Web Services librarian about a new workgroup that will be looking into implementing, so I'm very excited!

Thing #12 - WorldCat

I use WorldCat nearly every day. It's invaluable for filling out request slips and it helps me nail down exact titles when the customer's not sure. I use it directly from the search engine box in Firefox.

One day, while working the Reference desk, a customer came in looking for a specific car repair book. OCL didn't own any titles that dealt with the make & model they needed, so I checked WorldCat to see if we could interlibrary loan the item. It turned out the customer was a summer resident, and their home library in Westchester, NY, owned the book they needed! They were amazed I could track it down so easily for them, and they used the internet to place the hold so it was ready for them when they returned home. Thanks, WorldCat!

Thing #12 - NetLibrary

WOW. Our catalog should look & work like NetLibrary.

Clean-looking interface, easy searching, search history in plain view, just enough bibliographic detail, email bib info, plus ability to take notes while reading. Easy sign-up, and reading onscreen was more tolerable than I remember.

I'll be using this tool again.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Thing #11 : LibraryThing

[capslock screaming] I LOVE MY LIBRARYTHING!!!!! [/capslock screaming]

I've had an account since 2005 and have cataloged about 1/3 of my personal collection. Having done cataloging for the library for several years (I'm one of those freaks of nature that LOVES it), I enjoy adding tags to each title for every single thing I can think of: subjects, settings, color of the cover, what room I store it in, etc.

I've been using LibraryThing at work to keep track of new picture books for storytimes. If I want to have a particular theme, like chickens, wolves or audience participation, I just search for those tags. I also can note if a book is particularly successful with the audience.

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Thing #10 : Tech blogging

Many people assume just because I'm enthusiastic about things technological, I must have all the cutting edge electro-goodies on the market.

This is not true. In some ways, I'm well behind the curve of the rest of society.

For instance, I do not have a cell phone, and have no plans to get one. When people ask me when I'll give in and join the rest of the human race, I tell them I'm waiting for one with a rotary dial. My home phone isn't even cordless. Friends gave me a Trac Phone for Xmas two years ago and I forgot to re-up the minutes at the end of the first month, and haven't missed it. I'm not even sure when the damn thing is.

I don't feel the need to be reached every minute of the day. I think folks who have to be "connected" to others are afraid to be on their own, to their detriment. Most cellphone conversations I've witnessed consist of one person giving someone else a GPS status report, along the lines of "Hi, hon. Yeah, I'm at the library." Not life-or-death info. I guess I agree with this guy.

I've got dial-up internet here, too. I can't download anything, and waiting for a images to load gives me enough time to take a bathroom break and go fix myself a sammich, but that's OK. I can do this stuff at the library if I need to. No game systems here, either, unless you count the Sega Genesis buried in the closet under the stairs. I play games on my PC, which actually has a larger screen than my TV. No sense getting a Wii for a 13" television.

I can live without all this crap. The one doodad I can't live without is my 30GB video iPod (no, I don't want an iPhone). I use it all day long. In the car, before I even buckle the seat belt or turn the ignition, I've got the iPod plugged in and queued up. I use it as a flash drive at work, and at lunch I'm usually watching something on the video, like a movie or an episode of Flight of the Conchords, Firefly or Dead Like Me. Then I'll take a walk and listen to the various podcasts I subscribe to, like Filmspotting, Answer Bitch or The Splendid Table. I can also play a round of Yahtzee or Texas Hold 'Em if I have time to kill.

The primary reason I don't have much of the standard electronic life accessories is this: I'm poor. This crap costs money, not just to buy the hardware, but for all the subscriptions you need to keep the things going. That's why I use most of the things we're presenting in the Tech Challenge: they're pretty much free, all you need is internet access.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thing #9 : finding feeds

I tried the different suggested places to find blogs. Here's what I thought:

Topix - Interesting to see a news site using RSS to gather stories. I used the search term "ocean county library" and a list of stories can up, but it wasn't obvious how I could subscribe to that news search. The RSS symbol was all the way at the bottom of the list of stories, and it didn't make clear that clicking on it would create a subscription to my specific search. Still a good resource for newshounds.

Syndic8 - Ugly interface. It locked up the first 2 times I tried to use it. Dead links galore. Yuck.

Technorati - I used the Blogs index to look for food & wine blogs. Some of the blogs in the list didn't seem to belong there, like and adoption journal and a political blog. Still, I poked around and found a few blogs to add (Smitten Kitchen being one that had been recced to me by

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Thing #8 : feeds

I've had a Bloglines account for a couple of years, and I have to admit, I'm a complete ADDICT. I have three separate accounts: one for library-related feeds, one for pop-culture/gossip/film, and one for everything else. My pal/colleague Chris (found over at Viva Velma) first introduced me to Bloglines and I hit the ground running.

I've tried other aggregators, most notably Google Reader, but I keep doing multiple 'Lines. It has its shortcomings, most notably that you can't tag items, but I find it easy to scan through umpteen feeds and keep only what I want. I save some stuff to folders, but anything I really want to archive I bookmark in

I tend to find new feeds through the links in the feeds I already have. Occasionally I'll plug a keyword into the Bloglines search to see if there's any new/interesting feeds to add for a particular subject.

Bloglines pimps a few capabilities I've used: Package tracking, dummy email addresses for listservs & saved search feeds. Check them out!

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Thing #7 The Scanner and Me

Like my father, I have a tenacious relationship with complicated inanimate objects. He has a string of expletives (which I will not repeat here) that he uses as a magical incantation to make them bend to his will (or not).

The scanner is one of those objects I can't seem to get along with. Every time I use it, it seems to do something different to the item I'm scanning: changing the orientation, not scanning the whole page, etc. I've been advised by my supervisor that beating the scanner with my shoe is not the most civilized way of dealing with my frustration.

In any case, I glared at it until I was able to squeeze this image out of it:

It's the cover of the BRAND NEW Scaredy Squirrel book. He's my favorite OCD-afflicted rodent!

In any case, I managed not only to complete the scanning Thing, I helped a few of my coworkers do their scans, too. All without cursing! VICTORY!

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Thing #6 More Photo Fun

Here's the photo what I took this morning:

Stafford's server

Purty, ain't it? Click the photo to get the description.

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Thing #5 Flickr

I've used Flickr for the past few years, but I haven't explored the Maps and Make Stuff features. The Flickr Uploadr is very useful to move large batches of images online. I love tagging and search for images using tags frequently.

Here's my image:
April_May 2007 028

I gave it several tags, including "oclwebthings".

I wonder if the Flickr/Blogger "failure to communicate" is due to Flickr being a Yahoo affiliate and Blogger being a Google thing.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Things #3 & #4

Done, and done. Blogger is very easy to use, like emailing the world. I hope the challenge gets me into the habit of blogging, and I can get over the feeling that I'm just talking to myself.

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Thing #2

I've always been a bit of an autodidact, so lifelong learning isn't an alien concept.

Hardest habit
: Teaching/mentoring - I'm always afraid of coming off like this guy:

I'm not the most patient of teachers, and I often talk too fast when teaching a tech class.

Easiest: Play - I'm not afraid of breaking the internets. I've signed up for a squillion things, and usually return to those I find the most useful and/or time-saving.

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Thing #1

I've registered for the Challenge, although as a Committee member, I'm not eligible for any of the prizes. The prizes, by the way, are a cool combo MP3 player/flash drive/fm radio/voice recorder for everyone who finishes the 23 things, and the Grand Prize of a Nintendo Wii for one lucky person.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ready to play!

I'm looking forward to getting started on the OCL Web Things Challenge. The games begin on March 3rd, but those of us acting as techno-guides for the real players will probably have to be working at least a week ahead so we can work out any kinks and be ready for any questions.

First post

This is the journal I created for the Ocean County Library's Webthings Challenge. I'm a member of the Web 2.0 Challenge committee, and also the editor of the Week 4 and Week 6 entries on the OCL Web Things blog.

OCL staff members who need help with any of the Challenge Things (especially RSS feeds, Bloglines, Technorati, LibraryThing and tagging) can contact me by phone at the Stafford Branch or through Outlook email.