'Brary Blog

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Location: New Bern, NC, United States

My brain won't shut up.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I learned a lot of valuable things by completing Learning 2.0. When it comes to pure unadulterated fun, the image generators can't be beat. In fact, here's another!
The best thing about this process is that I'm very inspired by all the things I found and how they can help us make our public library system an integral part of the community. Programming podcasts? IM homework help? YouTube library tutorials? Book club blogs? The possibilities are endless and that's exciting and invigorating. There were also several tools that would be beneficial to us as professionals. Wikis to facilitate peer communication, tags and RSS feeds to help us organize all the massive amounts of information we collect, and web-based applications so that we can create and access saved text and spreadsheets on any Internet-ready computer anywhere. It's been a wonderfully rewarding experience for me.

That's not to say that I wasn't frequently frustrated. What really worried me and other library staff (I get around, you know) is that a lot of staff members just don't have the resources to complete these tasks even if they wanted to. The staff at teeny-tiny branches share 1 or 2 computers between the entire lot of them and they're pretty much in consistent use for circulation. Speaking of circulation, the workers in that department rarely have much time to spare. Perhaps if PLCMC does something similar to Learning 2.0 in the future they'll give employees a lengthier deadline and fewer tasks so that the necessary time expended won't seem so daunting.

I would most certainly do something like this again. Like I said at 'Brary Blog's beginning, I aspire to be a life-long learner and I refuse to allow my chosen occupation to become mundane. I'm up for any future challenges.

I used Netlibrary a lot when I was in telephone reference and avoiding any looming homework assignments between the fairly consistent barrage of calls. I liked to access Shakespeare e-books (e-plays?) and refresh my memory on all the really good lines. Many times I started to download audio-books in hopes of understanding the process so that I could thoroughly explain it to patrons, but I was at work and nervous about taking up too much computer space. I just looked up Shakespeare in the Netlibrary audiobooks and found one lonely little entry for Hamlet. Can you imagine reading all of Hamlet out loud? Hoo-boy, it's a good thing that the narrator, Frank Muller, has such a great reputation. I like that you can read about the narrator and listen to a preview before downloading the book. I think the number of available items could be a bit larger. They didn't have one blessed thing on Margaret Atwood, one of my favorite and fairly prolific authors. I keep reading about how the print collection will soon be obsolete. If that's the case we need to get busy making more things available through NetLibrary!

I first became familiar with podcasts through NPR. The first one I listened to was a concert given by The Decemberists. Then I was told to get a podcast from The Diane Rehm Show that a friend said I'd enjoy. I did! Barak Obama has podcasts on his official website, and it's a splendid way to convey one's political beliefs. I went to podcast.net and was amazed by how many links they had. There in the Arts/Books and Poetry section I found a link to the Johnson County Public Library. They did a podcast on a poetry program held there. What an incredible idea! Some of our PLCMC branches do poetry slams and such. If we could tell the patrons that their readings would be available on the Internet, it may motivate more people to attend. It gives them a bit of a chance to be famous! The possibilities for programming are endless. People who don't want to drive to the library can still attend and in this day and age when people virtually live online (no pun intended!) podcasts can truly help us get with the times and meet the needs of our users.

I was looking over some different things in YouTube searching for something appropriate for this blog (man, there is A LOT of stuff that wasn't!) and I found a video of Neil Gaiman reading his short story, Babycakes. I adore Mr. Gaiman and this particular story is very well done. I really enjoy hearing authors read their own work. I go to poets.org often for this exact reason. Libraries could certainly use YouTube to fill many informational demands. They could upload tutorials for online resources and cataloging searches or post links to political and educational speakers.

The downside is that videos can take a very long time to open, if they open at all. Libraries would also have to be aware of any copyright infringements, which could get quite sticky with a site like YouTube.

I went to the website Eventful and I think it could be extremely useful to us in numerous ways as librarians. This website allows you to post event information and to search for events that are going on by location or category. The categories include such things as music, animals, art, book, festivals, clubs, businesses, movies, food and many more. I checked on a couple of public libraries that have already included their programming information on this site and it looks pretty good. Check out the Orange County Public Library's Eventful page. It's super convenient for an individual to find numerous local events all on one website. I think that people are just starting to utilize Eventful (there are currently 703 festival listings, for example) but it has enormous potential.

There's a part of the website that let's you demand a certain performer at your location and I think that's a neat little option. I don't know how much of a difference it would make, but I'm often angered by my favorite musicians choice to bypass the Carolinas completely. Now I can do something about it. Kind of.

Alright, I'm a little frustrated with Zohowriter. Actually, I think it may be Blogger's fault. I was writing my document and using different font styles and little emotive icons because you can't do that in Blogger, but when I tried to publish the document in my blog it couldn't find my Blogger account. The same thing happened with Flickr. This stinks because I was really excited to use zohowriter to brighten up my blog entries. If I can't send it to Blogger than the whole thing is almost completely pointless for me. Hopefully, most people don't have this problem. I'll ignore it for a bit and say that it's really nice to have access to all of these things without having to download anything. I have a Mac at home that we bought super-cheap and it doesn't have a text program. Now I can go to Zohowriter and do pretty much anything I need to do. If I can only solve the publishing issue...

In case anyone has stayed awake at night wondering what kind of music I listen to, I've posted the answer right here on our PLCMC learning PB wiki. Honestly, though, I really enjoyed seeing how my co-workers responded to questions about their favorite movies, music, vacation spots, etc. Learning 2.0 has really created some excellent opportunities for us to get to know other staff memebers on a whole new level. Even if we weren't familiarizing ourselves with new technology, the fact that we can become more unified as a library system makes the whole thing worth it in my humble opinion.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I think that wikis are fantastic in many ways. I love the idea that you can go to places like Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki and share information with other library employees throughout the world. It's good for morale to communicate with others in the same profession and it's a wonderful way to discover innovative ideas to implement at your own library. We can all benefit from the success stories of other public libraries, and wikis are a great way to share such stories. The fact that anyone can come in and change things makes me nervous, but since it's easy to track changes this really isn't that big of a deal. To me, wikis symbolize the idea that everyone's opinion is valued. Because there are so many different employees here at PLCMC, I think it's vital to make everyone feel appreciated. One way of doing this is to make sure that there are clear lines of communication. Wikis could really help with this.

Blogger won't let me title my entries and I wonder why it dislikes me so. Neglect? Ignorance? Poor spelling skills?

So, about this Library 2.0. I read the article Away from the 'Icebergs,' and Anderson makes some great points. I completely agree that the librarian-to-patron ratio does not make comprehensive training feasible, and therefore information needs to be easily accessible. It isn't that this is an entirely new concept, it's just that he puts it so well. We need to stop blaming the patrons and their inabilities and start making more simplistic interfaces.

Michael Stephens also said plenty of things that were right on in his article, Into a New World of Librarianship. I've already posted my opinions on the necessity of IM and text message reference and apparently Michael agrees. Yay! He emphasizes following current trends, but he also highlights the danger of techno-frenzy. It's good to read an article in which someone addresses the dangers of automatically embracing all new technology.

Although none of their ideas may be completely original, each of these authors inspired me and made me think about my profession in a new and exciting way. I think that's extremely admirable and undeniably important.

Technorati reminds me that I have very complicated feelings in regards to blogging. When it comes to a business or organization, I can understand that you want to get as many people reading your blog as possible. There are also many blogs that are established to provide their readers with breaking news on various subjects, again I think that tagging can be extremely beneficial. My problem with all this is that I personally blog because it challenges me as a writer. It doesn't much matter if 2 people read it or if one person reads it and never comes back. Why not just keep a journal, right? Well, there's still that bit of risk involved when you're just pushing your words out into the ether. Myspace peeps are often obsessed by the number of "friends" that they have. I understand that as a typical blogger, tagging could lead more people to read your entries and increase your virtual friendships, I just never really looked at blogging that way. Still, it's wonderful to broaden my horizons by studying social tagging from other perspectives. I really do wonder what kind of impact this rapidly increasing trend of Internet socialization is having on our culture.

What I like about del.icio.us is that you can organize a group of websites and access that list from any computer. When I was in school and using computers at both work and home to do research, this would have been a wonderful thing to know about. I had sites and article links saved all over the place! I also appreciate how detailed you can be when tagging the information. That's a much better method of organizing than just sticking things in folders. As soon as I went to the del.icio.us homepage I found a link to an article that I wanted to save. It was titled "Teens: E-mail is for Old People" and it's very relavent to the Future of IS. It just proves that we need to offer other forums to fulfill the informational needs of young adults. It's imperative that we start answering reference questions using IM and text messaging, so that we can meet the needs of our teen users and help ensure that the public library as an institution is still thought of as being necessary in the future.

So, yeah, I dig del.icio.us.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Behold, My gossip search engine created in Rollyo. I'm somewhat ashamed, however, many say that the future of the public library depends on the institution's ability to provide a refuge of entertainment and amusement. Celebrity sells, baby!

I am loving LibraryThing. I am unafraid to share it with the world! I cannot, however, add a blog widget that shows random titles from the personalized library that I created. The HTML cannot be accepted and that is a shame.

Random rocks!

All those online generators can be days upon days of silly fun. In the spirit of the library, I chose to play the most with a site inspired by one of my favorite authors: it's the Douglas Adams Random Quote Generator! Here's the first one I got:

"Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you."


The WeatherPixie

Meet my weather pixie! She's the central figure in my effort to blog about anything technology related. If you go here, you can add one just like her to your site! She's cute, she's informative, and she's always available. What more could you possible ask for? The graphic actually changes to reflect the current local time and weather by the way that the character is dressed, the sun/moon and the precipitation or lack thereof falling from the sky.

Bloglines, RSS feeds, holy cow this baby is going to save me some time! Our society wants everything RIGHT NOW and this fulfills those demands brilliantly. I have some blogs that I visit frequently in hopes that there's been a recent posting. Now I don't have to go into so many individuals sites. Wooo-hooo!

So, if I did it right THIS is my public link.

I've added this image from Flickr because in about two weeks this is where I'll be. My best friend is getting married in Malaga, Spain and I can't wait. It looks gorgeous!

On a more work-related note, Flickr is a wonderful tool. If a patron ever needs a random photograph of a place/object this would be much better than Google Image, which is what I've used in the past. The third party app that I enjoyed was the Flickr Color Pickr. Not necessarily useful to me, but really fun.

I love the concept of lifelong learning. That's actually part of what drew me to being a librarian in the first place. We have the opportunity to learn new things on a daily basis and that excites me to no end. As much as I embrace the constant growth of knowledge, there are a couple of steps out of that 7 1/2 that give me trouble. For instance, I don't often begin with the end in mind. I'm more prone to jump into something spontaneously and hope for the best. This is certainly something that I need to work on. The other one that may challenge me is creating a learning toolbox. My organization skills leave much to be desired. I do like lists, however. I make grocery lists and gift lists and budgeting lists. Then I stick them in various places never to be seen again. Again, I've got plenty of room to grow. I may have had quite a late start on this project, but I make up for it with significant enthusiasm. Let's do it...