Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thing 22: Developing tech skills

I highly recommend the 23 Things program to my coworkers, who also are graduate student assistants at the University of North Texas, Dallas, library.
My coworkers are bright, young people who already use many of the Web 2.0 technologies in their daily lives. I tell my coworkers that I think the program still is a good learning experience because it draws our thoughts to that spot where technology and libraries intersect. We need to focus not just on the new tools, but also on what we are going to build with those tools.
If I were to help implement 23 Things for library staff, I would make it outcome-based training, where the goal for the staff would be to collaboratively develop at least three recommendations on how the library could institute new ways to create patron access to information. I would like to see the 23 Things program repeated by the North Texas Regional Library System every few years, or even more frequently. The pace of change in the information environment is rapid and the need to keep up is important.
Illlustration courtesy of ALA bookmarks, because, after the computer is turned off at night, I still love to read.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thing 21: Podcasts

Podcasts help open library doors.

User-generated podcasts are being used to bring teens into public libraries, as is being done in the Boulder ( Colo.) Public Library and the Cheshire (Conn.) Public Library. Teens review books ,art and music at those libraries.

Public library podcasts also include local politics, such as the mayoral candidate debates done at the Kankakee (Ill.)) Public Library. I like that. It makes the library seem like a community center, and the ability to play archived podcasts means that patrons can hear community debates whenever they choose. Kankakee also includes podcasts on teen poetry slams and regular updates on technology as it is used in the library.

Johns Hopkins University uses podcasts to inform patrons about how to get the most of their library experience. Podcasts included federated searching, information on what can be found in specific databases and how to work with subject specialist librarians.

The quality of podcasts does vary, so it is worthwhile to make sure the volume and sound quality is appropriate before posting.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thing 20: YouTube

Libraries are creating several styles of YouTube videos.
Some are practical tutorials, such as the University of Texas libraries' video on how to find a book. I can see this being used as part of bibliographic instruction in classrooms.
Others use the videos to convey a single message such as Texas Tech's video with no voiceover, just techno music and video of students using a variety of computer programs, such as 3-D animation, and, oh yes, one shot of a student using a book. Message: We are techno savvy and we have the tools to prove it!
The University of North Texas Portal to Texas history uses a video to raise awareness of its existence as well as showcase some of the intellectual content of its collection using rapid fire images of some of its holdings. It's very entertaining as well as informative. Watch it by clicking on the Thing 20: YouTube title of this post.
Other libraries illustrate their library activities, as is done by the Round Rock Public Library, which uses orginal music in English and Spanish to highlight its Texas Reading Club.
Most library videos have been created in the last two years. They don't tend to have a lot of hits, but that may not be a measure of success. Most are aimed at a limited audience, such as a student population or a city population. Now if we could only get a library video to go truly viral. Hmmm...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thing 19: GoogleDocs

I haven't tried collaborating on GoogleDocs yet, but it strikes me as a good way to work on group projects.

I didn't find GoogleDocs to have the same functionality as
MS Office. It seems like a more rustic version of Office. You can't split tables or merge cells in tables, for instance. I do like the ability to convert a document to a Word document.

The gadgets on GoogleDocs hold some real promise. I created a survey on GoogleDocs forms. It's saved on my hard drive but I haven't yet figured out how to save it in the "cloud" so that it can be used. I want to spend more time on GoogleDocs and test more of its capabilities.

In the meantime, GoogleDocs looks like a good way to accomplish library group projects, such as the creation of a new bibliographic instruction, for instance. I liked the video that explained the ease. No need to email documents around anymore, not with GoogleDocs.

Still, security seems to be an unresolved issue with collaborative cloud computing. The July 20 New York Times carries an interesting opinion piece on the dangers of storing documents outside of your own hard drive.

Illustration by jay freshuk from flickr's Creative Commons

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thing 18: Wikis

Wiki, the Hawaiian word for quick, is indeed a fast source, although one that is not always reliable.

I looked up "information literacy" on Wikipedia. The teaching of info lit is a personal interest. Plus the irony of searching for "information literacy" on Wikipedia is alluring, considering all the debate over Wikipedia reliability.

The entry on info lit seems like a good introduction to information literacy, and the sources are authoritative. Sources include ALA and the Association of College Research Libraries.

The history of the information literacy page shows spurts of editing activity going back to when the page was first posted in 2004.

The discussion page held mainly an article written in Spanish. I like the idea of multi-lingual web pages. In fact, a diversity of languages is the only way true information literacy can be achieved. But on this English-language Wikipedia page about information literacy the article wasn't translated into English.

That got me thinking about library web pages and language translation and how we need to open our virtual doors to more people by designing web pages that have more language options.

I'm off to work on the North Texas 23 wiki. Hasta luego!

Photo Hawaiian shuttle bus by cogdogblog from flickr's Creative Commons

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thing 17: LibWorm

Hooray for LibWorm's job feed! I put it on my handy Google Reader back during Thing 7.

What? We aren't supposed to be looking for jobs? We are supposed to evaluate LibWorm's search capabilities. Oh, OK.

I searched for memes using a keyword search and a subject search. I don't think LibWorm's subject search is a librarian's version of a subject search. Memes as a subject term retrieved words within text and also retrieved "meme" within words, resulting in an unrelated French language hit high in the results list.

I had a little better luck doing various searches on "information literacy," without the quote marks. The results were precise enough that I added the LibWorm's RSS feed on information literacy to my Google Reader.

The most popular tags list is interesting. The books tag is more popular than the Web tag, although just barely. The list actually is heavily weighted toward technical things, which can be seen more clearly in LibWorm's storm cloud or its big cloud. Also, I couldn't help but wonder why so many people interested in libraries would go to a library RSS feed site and tag their finds: "library." It seems a redundancy. Maybe their feeds are being streamed into their own RSS readers along with a variety of other topics.

I searched for two Metroplex area libraries. I noticed the list of results was not ranked by date, and that the first item in one list was dated 2007. Job openings long filled were near the tops of the lists.

I'll look at my LibWorm feed for professional development reasons, and of course, job search reasons, because, after all, finding a job is Thing 24.

Illustration from Microsoft Clipart

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thing 16: LibraryThing

More books in my personal collection are former finalists for the National Book Award than actual winners of the National Book Award. I didn't realilze that until I tried LibraryThing.

Collection analysis is one of the interesting aspects of LibraryThing. The statistics page reveals aspects of my own collection that I hadn't realized. The percent of living vs. dead authors, the percentage of male vs. female authors. That sort of thing.

The tag cloud page shows a graphic representation of my books for further analysis. I haven't entered all of my books but after tagging a few I now see my bookshelves as not just rows of books but as a cloud of ideas weighted toward American and Mexican classics and historical fiction.

LibraryThing is inspiring me to classify and rearrange my own books.

I do not yet know how to compare MARCThing and ISBN Check and that ISBN language analyzer tool to the library cataloging tools at use in current practice.

I enjoy Librarians Who LibraryThing. It's insightful when it delves into topics such as the future of classification and it's funny when it opens discussions on Annoying Things that Patrons Do Say, Don't Say.

Photo by austinevan from flickr's Creative Commons