Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thing 22: Wayback Machine

Wow. I've never heard of the Wayback Machine. I tried to access previous versions of our library's webpage but apparently the town server won't let the robot crawler in. (And now I know what a robot crawler is too.) I then visited the Duxbury Free Library where I was previously the director. Man, in October 1999 we thought we were pretty hot stuff....(masters of clipart! ) I was saddened to see that photos, most likely deleted from the server, still aren't available from one of the most fun events--A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Library--a musical comedy review performed by the library staff. I took a look at feature films and found the b&w sci fi classic Metropolis and did some poking around in the video game area. I also took a look at the September 11th television archive. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention, I'll be spreading the word and showing it to my reference staff.

Thing 17: Dream

Okay, it's not so outrageous and funky, but why not offer 2.0 classes customized for our own patrons. I'm familiar with Stephen Abrams' 43 Things I Might Want to Do This Year and the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County's 23 Things targeted at staff. But, what about offering a 2.0 course for patrons customized with a local flavor. Create a wiki for a local history project and have folks that were involved in, for example, the first mayoral inauguration in 2000, or the massive fire at Sacred Heart Church contribute so they could learn how a wiki works. Have local people utilize YouTube to produce videos of local historic sites. Introduce Yelp and focus on local eating establishments (there have to be some prize opportunities in there somewhere). The exercise would be twofold--patrons could learn about 2.0 and create local electronic resources.

Thing 16: Google Docs

Whew. This took awhile. We've been trying to figure out a way to make reports generated from our ILS more usable. So, I made other staff members help me with this activity. This google doc is a test. We took the "Missing Items" report off of our ILS and moved it into this format. This will now enable any staff member to access it any time and work on it. We list the missing books and then do three shelf checks. Once the item is deemed really truly missing we can now forward, via Dewey classification, to the appropriate staff member's assigned collection development. We've been playing around with this document but it looks like this is the new way we'll be handling and resolving all of those missing items. I'm only including a portion of it and it's not so pretty yet, but we'll continue refining it. Here's the URL

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thing 21: LibriVox

My library network offers Overdrive to our patrons. Due to bandwith constraints, the Overdrive Media Player was disabled for in-library use. Our network administrator was concerned with the low circulation of titles and those of us on the "front lines" were quite vocal that we couldn't train our staff on the product or market the product if we couldn't use the product in house. Additionally, Overdrive could not offer iPod compatible titles and we felt this was impacting use. On the other hand, when I received my annual statistics (compiled by the network), I was stunned at the usage. We are now allowed to utilize the media player application in our libraries and my staff has been trained in troubleshooting. The network has just made a selection of additional titles compatible with iPods and we will be bringing that up soon. In the meantime, I have a BPL ecard and can download audio books to my own iPod. The titles aren't that great yet but I'm sure the selection will expand rapidly. I'm currently learning Japanese during my commute.

My library is also offering Playaways for both kids and adults. Circulation has been fairly healthy and we are working on producing a YouTube video (this class gave me the idea) to show patrons what they are and how they work. For this activity, I decided to visit LibriVox as I had never heard of the site. I loved the tag, "Acoustical Liberation of Books". LibriVox also allows users to record books as their goal is to record all of the books in the public domain. Since audio performance is such a huge component of an audio book, I'm not sure this is such a good idea. They also have their own wiki providing guidance for listeners and volunteers.

I refuse to acknowledge even the possibility of the death of the printed page. We MUST, however, acknowledge that we have users that will never set foot inside our doors and we need to be rethinking how we are going to serve them, market to them and count on them for support.

IM Reference Part 2

After 45 minutes I received a response from Hometown Library. The staffer on duty was not sure how many requests they have received or how popular the service is. She suggested that I ask their IT librarian who will be on the reference desk tonight.

Thing 20: Can I ask you a Question?

I kept missing Jennifer while she was online so I decided to try out an IM Reference site. I recently spoke with a librarian in my hometown library and she noted that they had begun using brought up reference chat and she was a bit disappointed that it hadn't quite caught on yet. We discussed marketing and promoting so I thought I would IM her via the reference chat and see how things were going since our last discussion.

35 minutes later, no response. Nada, no away message, nothing. Not to be critical of my colleagues in the public library world, but this is a perfect example of a good idea gone bad. I know the library is extremely busy after school or maybe a staff shortage, but there should be some way for the user to get feedback as to status or at least something equal to "Your call is important to us." If I was Joe Library User and I'd been waiting this long I'd just turn to Google. Bad PR.

We've been using Trillian on all of the staff workstations here at the library. It's a great way for desk staff to quickly IM the cataloging department or the children's room on the lower level when they're sending a patron down to retrieve a book .Often, the book is in the hands of the children's staff by the time the patron gets downstairs. Personally, I've found Trillian a great way to communicate with my son who is away at college. His freshman year he would post his whole day's agenda as his away message. I've suggested to all of my friends who have kids away at school that they should adopt this technology, it's like a baby monitor for college kids. It's also a great way to communicate quick messages from home like, "Could you pick up some milk?" or "Mom, I need index cards, can you get some on the way home."

Thing 19: Clip, Clip!

This activity made me cringe at the disaster called "Favorites" on IE. I moved all of my bookmarks over to Delicious and found a historical journey as my bookmarks were shown in chronological order...working on that new library project (list of architects), planning the last family vacation (The DIS and Unoffical Guide to Walt Disney World), fed up and thinking about a change (LIS jobs). So, at the very least, I'm hoping Delicious will help me clean up my act and better organize my bookmarks for sharing. I searched Gaming and Public Libraries in since last Saturday day was Gaming Day @ Your Library and I've also done 2 introductory Wii sessions at our senior center. I'm still looking for more information establishing league play and will be revisiting some of the new sites I found on Delicious. I found The Last Librarian (will also have to add his blog to Google Reader) and the ALA Techsource Gaming, Learning and Libraries Symposium which I am determined I will attend next time (I said that last year too). I also happened onto a nice site that rates and reviews gaming periodicals just in time as my Ebsco list is up for renewal. I also visited Clipmarks, it looks fairly easy to use like a virtual scrapbook and I appreciated the YouTube tutorial. I toured the Chelmsford (MA) Public Library's social bookmarking site for a look at how it can be used in a public library as a shared reference tool. Frankly, I hadn't thought about using any of the social networking sites, but now the possibilities are very exciting to be used for staff training and as a resource for anyone provide reference or reader's advisory service from any point in the library.