April 28, 2009

Over the Rainbow

Ahh, the end of the rainbow. As the semester wraps up that's where I'd like to be about now. Last Thursday I attended Peter Bromberg's lecture on The Value of Leadership, The Leadership of Value. He began with a quick history of technology to set the scene. Sounds kind of boring, but it went pretty fast. The point? That's it. Currently, tech is changing so fast that the old ways of thinking-long range plans, eras of little to no change and the times when librarians were the "high priests of information"-are just that. Old. Whether you like it or not times are a changin and we have to adapt.

One metaphor he used that particularly stuck in my head was that of permanent whitewater to express the modern model of change. No more calm before the storm, no more status quo. It actually sounds a little scary. What it really means is that as librarians we have to stay on our toes, keep an eye on the trends in order to better serve our clients.

There is some small comfort, though. We're still in the filtering business! There is one opinion out there that libraries and librarians are a thing of the past now that "everyone" has internet access and can find his or her own information. But...there's so much out there. A constant bombardment. The news is split into 3 screens each flashing and swirling a different kind of information that you absolutely must know now! How do I make it stop!? The librarian can make it stop. Or at least filter out the garbage and get you the good stuff. That's still the same. We just have to change the filters every once in a while to reflect current values and needs.

Mr. Bromberg wrapped up his talk with some points to keep in mind about leadership. One of them was a bit of a surprise. He pointed out that good improvisationalists and good leaders have a few things in common. They both have to let go of the fear of failure; they have to listen carefully and be in the moment. They must be active, be willing to give up control and go with the flow, have the ability to recognize opportunities instead of mistakes, be part of a team that also empowers individuals and always add something more to what is given to them. It was like he was describing a eutopian workplace! The office at the end of the rainbow! The boss that no one has ever met! Well, maybe if Drew Carey were your boss...It all sounds like kind of a tall order, but for some reason I left this leadership talk actually feeling like it might be possible some day. There are small steps we are all capable of taking that will not eventually lead us to that place over the rainbow, but help create it ourselves. Hopefully the birds won't be as twitteringly annoying as they are in all those animated fairytale movies...

April 16, 2009

Final Thoughts


Through the 23 Things program I definitely discovered some sites, fun stuff, etc that I probably would not have found on my own. im cooked, the make your own cooking video site, was one of them. Actually, the whole web 2.0 awards page was a great find. I will definitely be referring to that in the future.

Wikis were my surprise discovery for the project. I have always liked Wikipedia and even before going to library school used it for what it was, a starting point to get familiar with a topic, but not the end all and be all source of information. The many, diverse and library related uses of wikis I found interesting and, surprisingly, very useful. I recently read an article on how the CIA is using wikis in very much the same way as the ALA. OK, so the CIA is using it to find out the latest chemicals used in roadside bombs while one ALA use is orienting people to the latest conference, but the point is the same-tapping into diverse knowledge and spreading it, quick! To have a question or want to share knowledge on a topic, create a wiki for it, then have others add to it to create a relevant, timely, practical solution, is probably an incredibly under appreciated feature of the web. At least I didn't know much about it.

Some of the 23 things I may never really get into. For instance, RSS feeds. I tend to like to bookmark pages I'm interested in and check on them when the urge strikes me. Other than the news headlines, that is, which come to me through my Yahoo email home page. I have to sift through so much stuff every day in my 3 email accounts (which to some probably isn't that many!) that I don't really want too much more coming at me.

I think one of the most important "things" to take away from this whole exercise is the first thing-the 7 1/2 habits of lifelong learners. I just went back and looked at them again and it's good stuff to keep in mind as we continue forward with our education and then our careers. I still think the 7 1/2th (pronunciation?) habit, play, shouldn't be a 1/2 habit though; being willing to play and explore has the potential to open minds and keep all those other "things" interesting. Besides, a librarian who is willing to play is a much cooler librarian!

April 2, 2009

Ah YouTube. Such an entertaining time-waster! I've received many links through email to various videos over the years. Here's one that was recently sent to me that I enjoyed. And it has the added bonus of a song that gets stuck in your head for hours on end! Enjoy.

YouTube isn't an entire waste of time though. I've had professors show videos in class on this topic or that or even "how to" videos on book making. I've looked up some on my own. For example, here's one on how to tie a bowline knot. Very useful, very strong knot if you're interested.

For the podcast section of this assignment I wanted to try the link for Yahoo Podcasts but the link from the "23 Things" site was broken. So I clicked on PodcastAlley and searched for one of my favorite radio broadcasts, The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC. It was first on the list of returned results. I'm one of very few people left, I think, who doesn't have an IPod or the like. I still have a Walkman that is a radio tuner and plays tapes. Tapes! I also have a Discman so I'm not completely behind the times. And my cell phone which I have successfully transferred some music from my computer onto so, OK, I'm feeling a little better about myself. The point is, I haven't gotten into the podcast trend yet. When I miss a topic on one of the programs I follow I go to the website and stream it over my laptop. I can definitely see the attraction of having them right there in the palm of my hand though. Maybe when this cell phone conks out I'll upgrade.

As suggested by the Learning 2.0 site, I searched PodcastAlley for library related entries and was surprised by how many turned up. There was one in particular, LibVibe, which is a brief, headline news oriented podcast on the world of libraries that I'm going to add to my Yahoo homepage.

The third, and final topic for this blog will cover audiobooks. When I got my current cell phone I was really excited about going to my library's site and downloading tons of audiobooks. However, it was not to be. My phone only plays .wav files, not MP3s so I had to go through a convoluted procedure of downloading a converter, playing the book through in hour long chunks to convert it and then transfering it to my phone. I went through this whole process all of...once before I decided it was way too much trouble. Maybe when I get that upgrade...

So to check out some audiobooks for this project I went to my library's site (after discovering that the link from the 23 things web site was unavailable) and found out that their contract with former partner, NetLibrary, had ended. Now it was up to OverDrive to provide audiobooks to all those commuters from Bergen County, NJ. They still had quite a selection, some of which I would definitely like to listen to. But, again, for now I'll have to stick to checking them out on CD. Maybe when I get that upgrade...

March 25, 2009

I'm Cooked

So for this week's activity I looked at the video recipe sharing site, im cooked (yes, that's really how it's spelled). Seemed kind of interesting. I liked the ability to keyword search the recipes. I really liked the "Channels" tab at the top which broke down the videos into categories like Breads and Appetizers. Being a vegetarian and always curious for new and interesting recipes, I clicked on Veggies & Vegetarian. Unfortunately, there were quite a few there which featured seafood or other meat including *gasp* one for a burger made with actual ground burger! OK. So maybe some of you omnivores out there are groaning and saying, "Oh great, another hippie complaining about meat contamination." But for those of you with dietary restrictions, either self-imposed or not, you know that you really don't want to sift through a bunch of hits that don't apply. I think the site should separate the Veggies & Vegetarian channel into two different ones. Maybe it would only satisfy a few celery-munching vegetarians out there, but I think other users may appreciate it too.

As for the social aspects of the site, how much more personal can you get than filming yourself working away in your kitchen as you narrate? Well, other people could comment on and discuss it. im cooked has a few tabs for this, "Most Viewed", "Most Discussed" and "Top Favorites". Users can also tag recipes. I have to admit, the "Most Discussed" tab did have some gems like "Watch actor Christopher Walken roast a chicken". I never would have found that on my own!

This site was kind of entertaining to browse around in and I found some good recipes I'd like to try out, but as for library applications (hey, I had to fit it in there somewhere ;)) I can't really see it. There's the sound issue. This site is all about making you, the average cook in most cases, the star of your own cooking show. You want to be heard! Most of the videos were narrated or had music going on in the background or both so unless the patron had earphones or watched without the sound on it could be pretty disruptive to other patrons. It might be a fun link to add onto the library homepage or subject guide though.

March 12, 2009

Wiki wiki!

First of all, I love the fact that wiki means "quick!". Leave it to the laid back state of Hawaii to come up with such a great word for such an annoying activity. If someone told me to "quick, hurry up!" I would get annoyed. If someone told me to "wiki wiki!" I would crack up laughing, then get on with what needed to be done. But it really does represent what user generated and edited content is all about. If anyone has ever opened up the history tab of a really popular Wikipedia article, you can practically watch it change as you're looking at it.

For this blog I browsed through several of the Learning 2.0 links on wikis and here are some thoughts:

I looked at the St. Joseph County Public Library subject guides and my first thought was, "Huh. It kind of looks like Wikipedia." After that I clicked on a few subjects to see what I could see. It wasn't really clear to me that users were able to, or even had, contributed to the pages. Maybe I missed it. Entirely possible. There wasn't too much content there either except for the cooking section which was pretty nice. Next I looked at the Library Success wiki and it was a completely different story. It looked a lot like Wikipedia-the uber-wiki. Right away there was an invite to add content in whichever category was appropriate. I also liked that there was some sort of handle attached to user-added content. It was well organized too with an "edit" link right next to each section. I think I'll let my local library (I'm a volunteer) know about it. Maybe they can find some good ideas...

I also checked out "Wiki's: A Beginner's Look". What really stood out to me here was a slide on the 2006 ALA conference where they had developed a wiki-guide to getting around the conference, the host city and ALA in general. There was a clear invite to edit and links to ground rules and editing tips. That seemed like a great idea to me. I think all user generated/edited sites should have some sort of statement about editorial control, if any. I think there should also be a warning label stating that you are looking at user generated content. Not to scare people away or necessarily discredit any of the info, but just a friendly FYI.

One of my all time favorite examples of how wikis can go bad is when Stephen Colbert edited the Wikipedia entry on elephants to state that they were no longer in danger of going extinct because he was sick of hearing about their sad situation (I think that was his reason...!). The entry ended up being corrected fairly quickly so he changed it back again. After that he was barred from editing any more articles! So, actually, this isn't really an example of wikis-gone-bad; it illustrates the positive power of many multiple editors keeping track of content and correcting false information. Just the same, I still like the idea of a clearly written and obvious statement educating viewers on what kind of information they are looking at-ya know, 'cause there might actually be some people out there who aren't really sure what the heck a wiki is! Even if they've heard of and used Wikipedia, do they really understand the dynamics of what's going on? How many people have noticed the little subtitle "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" on its home page? I know I didn't until I actually went looking for it.

So, bottom line? Wikis good. Educating and informing people about how to use and contribute to them, even better!

March 5, 2009

Librarian 2.0

I was shocked when I read on the Library 2.0 web site that Technorati tracks over 51 million blogs. And that was in 2006! Back in the day an author was something that one aspired to one day become, submitting story after story or article after article in the hopes of getting published. Now, anyone with access to a computer and internet connection can be an author. Is this a good thing? I think it probably is. But what about all the junk out there? Well, no one says you have to read it. Technorati does a pretty good job of weeding through the excess and finding what you want. Sure, there is still some trial and error involved and probably a few misses too, but you have to start somewhere.

So what is the attraction to blogging? Why are millions of people doing it? And who's reading it? To tell you the truth, I don't really know the answer to either of these questions. I guess that it gives a voice to those who didn't have one previously. Or an audience for that matter! Now that I'm thinking about it I did find some helpful information for a project last semester on someone's blog. In the case of an institution like a library it could also serve as a very cheap method of reaching out to patrons, those that already are and those that may get pulled in.

After writing the first couple paragraphs of this post I read Michael Stephens' blog post on Librarian 2.0. He brings up some interesting points. He mentioned using web 2.0 to meet users where they are-online and in real time. It makes sense. Gone are the days when librarians can sit back and wait for patrons to come to them, if they have the guts in the first place. Aparently librarians can be kinda scarey! I can't think of any terrible experiences myselt, but I know others who have. So what could be easier for most tech savvy folks these days than clicking on an ask-a-librarian-type link on a web site and being instantly connected with an information professional.

Trendspotting, as Stephens states, also seems like a must for the library contending with a world that changes more quickly every year. Keeping current means connecting with new and younger users. And if you can hook them while they're young, the library stands a good chance of becoming a relevant and integral part of their lives no matter what happens in the future. There is a balance, though, where new patrons feel welcomed in while those already comfortable with a traditional library do not feel alienated either. After all, these are the people who have helped libraries make it to this crazy, interactive techno-point in the first place!

February 26, 2009

Images and Imaginings

This was supposed to be a picture of my puppy with his favorite toy at the time, a stuffed bunny, (which at this point is looong gone!). For some reason the picture ended up as you see it when I uploaded it to Big Huge Labs motivational poster creator. Hmmm. I'll have to try it again sometime.

I've seen Library Thing in other library classes and would like to explore it further. I'm a member of Good Reads which is similar and also a great way to share good books with your friends. I have added quite a few to my "to read" list that hopefully I will get around to this summer. If you'd like to check out Good Reads click here.