Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thing 7: RSS

My home computer is fed a regular diet of Really Simple Syndication feeds. It's contantly being fed. The New York Times technology blog. NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Howard Garrett's organic gardening column from the Dallas Morning News. Wired magazine.

RSS amounts to an embarrasment of riches. I really don't read everything fed into my computer to the tabbed Yahoo! pages I've created. I just like knowing it is there if I want it.

I do like the display on Yahoo! better than on Google Reader. On Yahoo! everything is arranged into little boxes that I can rearrange. It's like a newspaper, only one that gives a whole new meaning to moveable type.

The Google Reader does give me more headlines to quickly scan, but the interface just isn't that appealing (OK, I am a visual learner). But I am going to keep Google Reader going as a way to capture current literature for my coursework in library science. Because really, it's really simple.

Image above from

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thing 6: Blog Readers

"Information overload," I thought during my first foray into Google Reader.

My blogspot gadget had been offering a tidy list of 11 library-related blogs with just the most recent headlines posted. Easy to scan. Easy to stay up to date. Or so I thought. Until I tried Google Reader.

Google Reader offers an expanded list of the same 11 blogs. Where once I had 11 headlines to read, now I have keeps growing as blogs make new posts and the number of their archived posts grow.

Then I discovered the wonderful world of blog-reader organization and searching.

Here's how Google Reader is useful:

  • Folders segregate blogs into categories (one of my folders is Library Jobs that automagically is filled with recent postings).

  • Tagging highlights topics for later review.

  • Adding stars to posts collects those posts into its own category that I can return to for more reflective reading.

  • Keyword searching scours folders and retrieves articles.

  • Using the search feed function, I was able to pull up a list of academic library blogs that I plan to review to get ideas on how universities are using blogs to reach patrons.

  • The full list of blog headlines on the home page is intimidating in its breadth but does allow for serendipitous finds via browsing.

I want to use Google Reader more to unlock more of its mysteries. I like the fact that it archives blog posts, but how long do they stay up? If I want them "forever" should I copy the content onto my own Word document?

I can see how this tool is invaluable to my library education.
What I want to contemplate now is how to make this tool valuable for library patrons. We could include Google Reader in our bibliographic instruction presentations to show patrons how to keep up with subject-specific blogs. We could use it in Web literacy presentatons. Could we create Google Reader accounts for specific disciplines and make those available via the library website? Or do patrons want to do that themselves?
I'll work on that. Right now I have to go skim, star, bundle, share and tag 434 posts, no 435, for later reading.
The library card above was created at

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thing 5: I Can't Stop

Image generators are addictive. I am trying to figure out how to print this billboard size....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thing 5: Image Generators, Again

I love Wordle. I love Wordle so much that I keep looking for ways to use it in the library.

I don't know how I would use this interpretation of the First Amendment except as art for a literacy instruction PowerPoint.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thing 5: Image Generators

It's possible to do a very, very brief but graphic book review using the image generator at This also might be a fun project for children to do in libraries.

Thing 4: Flickr Mashup

Working on this mashup gave me an idea: Wouldn't it be fun to have a YA reading program create book covers with flickr mashups?

The process of distilling the main idea of a book into a cover is fun and it encourages thought on the book's main theme.

This magazine cover from is my humorous take on that idea.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thing 3: Pershendetje!

That's how you say hello in Albanian, according to flickr, which teaches me a greeting in a new language everytime I log on.

I got happily lost in the photostream of The Commons, flickr's site where the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, The Field Museum and more are posting images that are in the public domain.

These esteemed institutions are asking users to comment or add tags, which are mostly just joyous "how wonderful!" sorts of comments but have the potential to add valuable information to the collections. Who knows, someone might recognize great-grandfather and add a name.

I could definitely see libraries with valuable holdings, such as Texana collections, post photos to flickr to see if any informative tags were added.

The posting of photos on flickr allows libraries and museums to create portals to their other online offerings by offering links to "read more at..."

I also think these collections are good teaching tools. I learned a little bit about taxonomy by reading the cataloging terms used by the institutions.

The photo above is not my great-grandfather and there is no indication he is Albanian.

Photo citation:
Digital ID: 88462. 1860s-1920s
Source: [Photographs and prints of Egypt and Syria.]
Repository: The New York Public Library. Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs.

Adventures and Misadventures in Mashups

A butterfly "mashes up" to a flower!

I mashed up flickr with Goggle Maps and created a map of photos taken at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden posted on a Google map of the garden. The result is toward the bottom of this blog. The mashup was created with

That was great fun.

Next I tried creating a map of Fort Worth Public Library and branches with photos taken at the libraries.

It was then I discovered the downside of social bookmarking.
Anyone can take a picture of anything and tag it: Fort Worth library.
The photos flickr delivered included one that I cannot yet get off of my map. Its headline is: "Jerry Groping Someone Else's Wife." I do not want this photo on my libraries map. Yet there it is. So I have to come up with deliniators that somehow exclude this photo (which is actually a harmless photo, done in fun but still...).
I also feel a little uncomfortable using someone else's image. The butterfly above is a flickr photo said to have been taken at FW Botanic Gardens by an unknown photographer. That's all I know.
I am looking forward to our lesson on flickr mashups. I am just beginning to see some of the problems and possibilities.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Future of Library Research

An article in the May Journal of Library Administration is a reminder of why we need to rebuild library databases to include elements of Web 2.0. It argues that library websites and databases are too complex and not interactive enough to engage today's users.

The abstract and introduction are included here. The full article can be retrieved through Academic Search Complete. Citation: Houghton-Jan, S. Etches-Johnson, A., Schmidt, A., 2009, The Read/Write Web and the Future of Library Research, Journal of Library Administration, 49:365–382

The new social Web is fun and easy to use. The same cannot usually be said of library Web sites and digital resources. Libraries would benefit from incorporating aspects of the Read/Write Web into their services. This article examines how libraries currently erect barriers to service and provides an example of how their barriers could be eliminated by the creation of a social library research environment.

Your experience may say otherwise, but reports such as the Online Computer Library Center's (OCLC) Perceptions survey tell us that libraries are among the last places people visit for research and information work (OCLC, 2005 pp.1-17). Some see these statistics as a sign to abandon providing these services all together. They claim that the Good Ship Reference is sinking in today's tumultuous information ocean and that libraries should focus their efforts on staying afloat elsewhere.
Others, including the authors of this article, see the reported statistics as a call to action, a sure sign that we need to change the who, what, when, why, and how of library information services. With the right tools, we can learn to harness the power of the rough waters and use them to our advantage.
By imbuing library databases with the best of the new, social Web, we can build better research tools that have the potential to engage and connect library users."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Thing 2

The Web is us, says the video "Web 2.0 The Machine is Us/ing Us" posted on The Shifted Librarian at
Web 2.0 is a democratic means of creating and sharing information. It's as exciting as it is frightening. Internet-based applications allow us to bypass the vetting of print publishers or software designers and instead create crowd-sourced data pools that can be wonderful for their immediacy and breadth but horrible for their ability to spread inaccuracies or banalities. I am thinking Wikipedia here, but the same is true for tags on flickr or comments on Facebook.
Perhaps the "wisdom of the crowd" is merely the "passing thoughts of the crowd"!
But like it or hate it, the era of user-as-the-creator-of-data is here, as pointed out so well by O'Reilly Media CEO and President Tim O'Reilly at
If O'Reilly is correct, the trend toward user-created data is bound to make a difference in libraries.
Will library users create "folksonomies" to replace traditional cataloging? That sounds like pandamonium to me. Perhaps it would be better if library web sites added another layer, one that would allow users to visit the traditional catalog or choose to hop on to an entertaining library web-page where they could see lists of most popular check outs, most frequent search terms, or a tag cloud with each print or digital source. As such, Web 2.0 would be a supplement to a vetted system.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The First of 23 Things

I write for other blogs, including the Frog Blog at and also the UNT Dallas Campus library blog at

But I've never created my own blog before. It's been great fun adding tools such as DIGG or Google's technology news search bar. In fact, it is a bit difficult to stop adding and subtracting tools from this, my first digital publication.

So many tools, so little time! I look forward to participating in the 23 new ways to use Web 2.0 technologies in this project sponsored by the 20-county North Texas Regional Library System.

She's pretty much always @ the library

Welcome to She's @ The Library, a blog about electrified information, and about printed information found at the books and mortar libraries I still love.

I am Jessie Milligan, a MLS student at the University of North Texas. I work in the UNT Dallas virtual library, a library with only 1,400 print reference works and media but with access via computer to more than 300 databases and many of the 6 million cataloged items at the University of North Texas in Denton.

I recently left a career as a newspaper reporter. I should say that newspapers left me. The information revolution, as exciting as it is, has been hard on"old media" types, but very good for people like myself who want to dive even deeper into the fast-changing world of digital information.