Sunday, December 6, 2009

Final Reflections

I'm glad to have this experience, especially as a self-directed one rather than a set of lectures on the topic. The book also gave me a wealth of resources to consider, and I hope to have time to look over them more over break. What surprised me is that some of the 23 Things already felt outdated or an easier-to-use equivalent had been developed since it was written. Chapter 20 of our textbook talks about how most of these new applications and programs will have a short shelf life, which is why it's wise to only invest time in the ones that will be of actual use and benefit to the patrons.

The pace of change makes something like this project a constant activity to a librarian interested in Web 2.0. I feel like I'm entering the profession (well, hoping to enter, I suppose, in light of everything) at a time when efforts are being directed at developing the right technology for the right users at the right time, to steal part of the old reader's advisory saying. The ones that are thriving are the ones that genuinely create community or some sense of enjoyment as well as providing access.

I think that this influx of new technology has also helped many people to prioritize what's truly important to them in terms of the information around them. The concern surrounding the text-to-speech feature of certain software, especially Kindle, is less significant once you consider the considerable difference in quality between that and a trained narrator acting out the parts. Neil Gaiman wrote an interesting piece on this issue and I think it sums up to me some of these larger issues. Technology simply can't replace the human experience or actual social contact, but it can enhance it, if we choose our information wisely. As reference staff, we are facilitators of that process.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


For those who are upset that NetLibrary doesn't work with I Pods (which makes them pretty useless for me since I don't own another MP3 player or an old-school Discman), I found that there are a wealth of I Pod-compatible books on Overdrive (through the Madison Public Library system). I found the tutorial did a great job of explaining the convoluted downloading /registration process for the software- I consider myself pretty tech-savvy, but not particularly patient. The amount of Spanish-language titles excited me-far more were available this way than I could access through a single branch.

What surprised me about Overdrive was that, just like print, only a certain number can be accessed at a time. For example, the hold list for the newest Dan Brown novel is 191 patrons! I was also surprised that when I accessed NetLibrary through the UW system, I could only get access to e-books. I imagine it must cost extra to make audiobooks available through our system, and the potential use isn't high enough to justify it, especially with the options in the Madison Public system. I notice this feeling with some of the reference requests I've had-it's hard to imagine the concept of restrictions and half-access- I've been trained into this "click and get" mentality like most people my age, and it's hard to articulate the many good reasons why barriers are put in the way. It's...unpleasant to explain the concept of embargoes to someone who needs that article tonight. That's one of the things I appreciate about the resources we've been trying out here-everyone has equal access to them and they're making things more transparent for the user.

Discovery of the week:

Through the beauty of this site (where you customize "stations" based on favorite artists and your own preferences), I have created the perfect study stations. (if you use Pandora, Ray LaMontagne and Patty Griffin make for pretty consistent stations-it's harder when the artist you selected changes their style a lot)

embedding practice, part II

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Video sites and Podcasts

Okay, I'm not an embedding genius-and that was my second attempt-I got it formatted down to a passable size, at least. I chose that video because a search for librarians will yield all sorts or crazy/inappropriate/just plain awkward. My favorite from my searching was this old government video:

Your Life Work: The Librarian (1946)

I noticed the line about assisting professional men who come into the library and the mini-tutorial on using subject card-catalogs to find books. My, how times have changed, but
I was interested to see how similar the way we articulate our public role now is to over sixty years ago. Hence, that's why we're doing this 23 Things project, right? We have to use the technology we're already using to show the public how important our role remains-we really do need to go beyond the library doors if we want to thrive in the present. (***end tangent***)

The one thing I don't enjoy about YouTube is trying to do a broad keyword search-I would love an advanced search feature-get on it, Google! Also, the amount of ads on the site is growing to the point where I'm starting to look for alternatives. One site I enjoy is Ning, which is a social-network version of YouTube. It functions much like the "channels" feature of YouTube, but if you're interested in something very specific, it's a great way to find others with like interests and look at their videos.

I already listen to several podcasts during my daily commute/while I'm doing homework (This American Life is one of my favorites, as is the NPR podcast with my former quasi-neighbor Mr. Keillor), but I haven't investigated library-related podcasts beyond the one that I was involved with myself for work. I discovered the Seattle Public Libraries podcasts and found some amazing author interviews, including Kate DiCamillo (a wonderful children's author). I went to the Hennepin Library system site to see if they had anything similar- their site is here, but if you search for it in I Tunes, then you will find the complete listing. It's a great way for these students to get their music and poetry heard-I was impressed by the production values and quality of the five or six I listened to!

Embedding practice, or, "I am a librarian!"

Monday, November 9, 2009

on the mend...

I'm finally feeling well enough to start frantically playing catch up, so here goes. As for Google Docs, I use it on pretty much a daily basis for group lesson planning. For another group project, we discovered one of the main benefits of Google Docs was that we could use Google chat to talk over edits in real-time, which beats the whole email drafts back and forth method of yesteryear.
Google Docs can't handle some of the same picky/awesome formatting things as Word, but I would much rather have the conveniences offered by Docs.

The site I chose from the list was Etsy, since I've heard so much about it. I grew up doing craft fairs with my family (my grandparents owned a ceramics shop) and I was interested to see how this site would connect me with local artists/crafters. There is indeed a "local" section that allows you to search by your city/region, which I really appreciated. The interface is also more pleasant than EBay or other user-driven shopping sites I have seen. I don't think I would have looked around the site otherwise, but after about an hour of delightful window-shopping, I had to stop...sometimes these projects really don't feel like homework one bit.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wikis, Part 1

I first used a (non-Wikipedia, anyway) wiki in class for a Intellectual Freedom project on Street Lit. This wiki from ALA provided us with a wealth of resources that we might not have found otherwise as well as a solid overview of the issues of how to integrate these materials into collection development policies. For a topic like this with a lot of nontraditional sources, it's a great way to centralize information in a coherent way-a blog requires more sustained commitment and commentary.

This semester, we have a wiki in one of our courses in lieu of a Learn at UW page, which I think works better for the types of information we are transmitting to each other (storytime ideas, links, so on). I think they are far better than Learn at UW-type sites for classes that will be offered again another semester, as our instructor pointed out, since the information doesn't have to be continually re-posted. The layout is also prettier...yes, I'm that shallow...

I couldn't get in to actually edit on the PB Works wiki, but judging from several of the other 23 Things bloggers that I read and their followers, it wasn't just me. It's cool that it's as simple as this:
[ | Reference Course ]

I feel compelled to link to this classic clip on Wikipedia. This was right around the time everyone at my college realized our Wikipedia page was pretty much an extact copy of the admissions site. Now, major corporations hire "web 2.0 consultants" to manage undesirable comments on wikipedia, twitter, and blogs. More than anything, that shows to me the importance of learning all of these applications and software programs. They're a part of the American business model at this point. Libraries, although we would never interfere with their content to that extent, need to learn how to use them to find new ways to reach our patrons.