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...