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 del.icio.us

I am a del.icio.us "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 del.icio.us is more up to date and easier to use.

At our presentation to Admin last year, the Trendspotters Committee introduced the many uses of del.icio.us 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 del.icio.us, 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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