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 What surprised me is that some of the 23 Things already felt outdated or an easier-to-use equivalent had been developed since it was written.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.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

this week

My sister has been using Delicious (which I refuse to spell with the periods-lo que sea) for a while as a theater student, so I had a chat with her about it. Since she's constantly moving back and forth between states, much less computers, it's an essential part of her life. She said it also made discussions easier in the days before Google Docs. I found an interesting new website while I was searching for children's books there- a free phonics website that might be a home supplement for the often very expensive software out there on this subject. I loved how you could narrow your searches by tag-what a cool feature!

I didn't set up a Technorati account, since I don't think it's quite right for either of my blogs, but I have noticed that some of my favorite blogs use it. Looking through some of the popular tags, it's easy to see why many want tagging to replace cataloging, especially of websites-some of these terms have no ready LoC equivalent. I noticed that there was only one tag under the libraries section but more under library-little thing like that do get standardized in cataloging, which makes searching more accurate.

I was looking over the reference log, PS Stats, today (I'm not required to look over it-but I find it so interesting that I find myself looking when I have a spare five minutes throughout the week. One of the staff members really writes out his thought process and most of them copy-paste in the Jing screencasts if they used them) and I found a reference request I felt so jealous that I didn't get to have. Is that a normal emotion? Hmmm...

Friday, October 16, 2009


Rollyo is an interesting concept to me. I didn't quite get it until I saw the search results for my first group. I'm so used to blogrolls at this point that it didn't quite click for me. Once I saw the results, I thought of ways that I search just a little bit harder. I compiled a bunch of review websites together so I could search just for a title and see what's out there on a given book. This would be really helpful for people who want to search something specific to children's materials-since I choose the sites, it's a filter in a certain sense but it doesn't limit the patron since an all-web search is the default. Connected with a specific theme or blog, I can see how useful and appreciated this tool would be.

The site crashed on me both times that I was on it, so I would have to study it more before I decided whether or not to use it in a library setting.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This week...

1. Humbling article about excuses for not using Twitter. My primary one-I don't have enough to say is number one...and apparently that just means I'm boring. Ooops....

2. Library Thing- I already had an account, but admittedly I hadn't updated it since my undergrad days. I'm glad to have an excuse to take it up again. Some of the YA lists were very helpful for me when I was just starting out-some of the discussions in that genre are also highly amusing. Somehow I don't mind sharing my book preferences as much...since it's sort of my job anyway. With children's books it can also be helpful to see where the overlap is between authors when making recommendations. I also trust these reviewers a little more than the general public since they skew teachers/librarians on that group. I also hadn't been on it since the whole Twilight phenomenon exploded and it was interesting to read some of the commentary on that series. It's a game-changer for YA in terms of marketing and programming, for sure. I'm also interested in how middle school libraries choose to collect it-some only collect the first, some try to avoid it altogether...interesting...

3. Image generators- I'm a big fan of the mock-inspiration posters (the above is a tribute to D.-thought it would amuse you!): I will save so much time with these when making posters for events, especially the comics generators, since I'm not "artsy." Any image generator that can be used as a profile pic, especially the Mad Men one that was popular over the summer, is sure to capture people's attention.

4. Interesting discussion about cultural authenticity last week on SLJ's Heavy Medal blog...I'll post on my other blog (see profile) about it...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Feeds, Children's Books, and Twitter, Part 2

I've been using Google Reader since...mmm...ever- and it has become a part of my morning routine to check it. So when we were asked to look at Bloglines for class this week , my general first impression was indifference. I do like the ease by which I can subdivide by topic in Blogline and the search features are different as well. I don't think I would continue to use it outside of class, but it's nice to have options and understand the non-Google world just a little better just so I have options if/when Google takes over the world.

I found this site, which helped me to understand some of the usability differences between the two. It also made me feel better about not liking Bloglines, to be honest.

Imported from Reader to Bloglines...some of my children's lit blogs to explore:

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

American Indians in Children's Literature

Nerdfighters (John Green)


Bonus site (found this from a librarian at my practicum site): makes techie things seem so very much less technical

I saw this on Google News today....I feel a slight sense of shame that I've outlasted Miley Cyrus on Twitter, but indeed Twitter can be used for good, as I'm finding and indeed I might even learn something....

Saturday, October 3, 2009


yay for the pretty tree bark...

I will withhold a rant on Twitter, since I personally don't enjoy it even if I see its benefits for me as an individual to communicate. That said, I would gladly use it in a library setting. It's great for getting the word out quickly for events, closings, send out relevant links, and so on.

Flickr, however, has come in handy a few times. Like last week, when I used it to scope out the Sequoya Branch before my site visit for another class in the hopes that I would ask questions without a very obvious answer. Or, when I need cute pictures of bento boxes for my selfish procrastination needs...or when I'm really, really ridiculously homesick.

Of all the mashups, this one won me over by introducing me to the photo at the top of my post. I tried out the librarian trading card as well, but then I thought about it for a second. And as a young adult/school librarian, would I really want to hand those out? Hmmm...nope, but it's a sweet idea nonetheless. I think as a hyper-private person, some of these exercises will be a challenge of sorts for me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hello/ Initial Thoughts

Hello, classmates! I started blogging for my practicum/independent study (see but I'm excited to learn more about blogging and have it become more of a daily practice for me. I started my other blog as a way to help me share what I am working on with others and to help them find links I had discovered.

As a reference tool, I think blogs can provide expert commentary on a highly specific topic (see What Claudia Wore for an extreme example) and provide a centralized place for discussion and exploration. Some of the best blogs I read are ones where the writer is speaking about what they know the most about and what they find most interesting. Unlike more academic work, there is rarely an emphasis on objectivity; the opinion or perhaps bias surrounding the information is what draws the readership.

Being a slight technophobe, 'accept responsibility for your own learning' was one of the parts of the 23 Things presentation that I felt personally challenged by. I need to take the initiative and experiment if I want to learn about new technologies- hence the last habit: play!