Category Archives: library2.0

IL2009 – 23 Things in the Community

Last month, Sacramento Public completed what we felt was a successful “27 Things” program for our staff, and will soon be planning something similar for our public. So I was surprised to learn that only a handful of libraries have tried it, and with only limited success.

The four presenters, Jennifer Koerper (Boston Public Library), Bobbi Newman (Chattahoochee Valley Libraries), Rebecca Ranallo (Cuyahoga County Public Library) and Sean Robinson (Allen County Public Library) all had similar comments.

The major issues they mentioned included:

  • Consider scalability (if you have huge participation, will you have the means to provide a prize for every finisher?) Experience shows, no prize, no participation. Will you have the available staff to spend the time needed to comment on blogs and keep track of progress? Time required is significant.
  • Screen for previous skills. The public will have a  w-i-d-e  range of abilities, and the program seems to work better in one-on-one or very small group settings. Group people of similar abilities together.
  • Target the “things” to specific audiences, for example, grandparents and Flickr; businesses and Twitter; moms and Facebook.  People are more apt to succeed if the “thing” meets their specific needs.
  • Some libraries are exploring other venues, such as wikis, in-person class sessions and screencasts to ease the load for library staff.
  • Unlike staff who are around during the day, it’s harder to nudge and motivate the public if individual momentum begins to flag.

Recommendations for libraries who still want to try it:

  • Seriously limit the number of “things” you offer to the most essential: e-mail, blog, facebook/linked-in, etc.
  • Consider a series of weekly in-person classes, one for each “thing”, and targeting a specific audience.
  • Consider using a wiki instead of a blog, where each participant has a page instead of a personal blog – only one place for staff to check.
  • Find out who else in the community is helping people, and partner with them. Move outside your library and into the community.

Based on these recommendations, we will need to re-think our public program, and we could also use some of these considerations to shape the requested continuation of the staff program – several wanted to continue learning about new things, but at a slower pace –  maybe one new one per month.

i-Googling With the Library

Jason Clark, Head of Digital Access and Web Services, and Timothy Donahue, Instruction Librarian at Montana State University, demonstrated how MSU has created customized omnipresent home pages using iGoogle gadgets.

Building on the fact that most students have gmail accounts, they built or customized about 15 gadgets that deliver bits of library services to students’ iGoogle pages. The gadgets deliver an interactive library map, street view of the library’s location, flickr images, chat, library catalog, and a media hub with videos and tutorials.

Building on the idea that “Discovery happens elsewhere” (Morgan Dempsey), MSU permitted placement of the Google’s familiar logo on the library’s page, which points to the list of available gadgets for students to add to iGoogle. Using the logo adds the cachet of relevance and currenty to the MSU image.

They briefly demonstrated how they created the gadgets by hacking or tweaking existing code, noting that some gadgets can be used as containers into which you can just drop some code (i.e. flash applications), and others need to be customized more heavily.

I found the following ideas interesting, and will take a closer look at how it could be applied at SPL: Databases – one gadget allows students to select from your databases and list only those they want to use; feed aggregator for library blog, new books, new videos, twitter; street views of branches (area around library).

Additional random notes:
Each gadget has a toolbar; if you click on the edit triangle, you can use the options to see the “webmaster” tools. IT can reverse engineer the code. For maps, you need to insert your lat/long.

On iGoogle page, there’s an “add stuff” – to go to the gadget search page – iGoogle for developers.

Google jason clark code – he’s got some code available for others to use. XML, html, javascript.

Google analytics can show which gadgets get the most use (catalog search), if you put a piece of code into each gadget.

Weeding and Reading Hawaiiana

Lanikai Point

Lanikai Point

I am visiting family in Kailua, Hawaii this week.  Usually, I do actually visit family members, but this time around, it’s not working out as expected: Brother’s entire family is away, and I’m cat- and betta-sitting (and using his wi-fi.)  Mother’s caregivers now come 6 1/2 days a week, and she sleeps a lot, anyway.  Aunt contracted a case of bronchitis, and her care home quarantined her – 35 other residents of the home are also sick – so I haven’t been to visit her yet.  Don’t want to bring the virus home to Mother, and don’t want to infect myself for the trip back home.  Cousin probably won’t come by for a visit this time, because his wife  … well, you get the picture.  I’m bored in Hawaii!

Kailua Library's reference Hawaiiana collection

Kailua Library's reference Hawaiiana collection

So – I walked over to the Kailua Library and offered to perform a few hours per day of volunteer service for them.  They agreed, and, to my very great surprise, set me to weeding the Hawaiiana reference collection.  It was a surprise, because many of the titles are locally published and are not reviewed in the mainstream journals – I haven’t kept up with local publishing for over 20 years, so felt uncomfortable pulling some titles that were very outdated – didn’t know whether there were any newer editions, nor whether the library even had funds to purchase them if there were.  But the staff there were encouraging, and I filled up a book truck.

Picky details that only a shelver or librarian would notice: Sacramento Public includes the year of publication as the last line of the call number – easy to spot old titles at a glance.  Hawaii does not, but apparently felt the need for an easier way to check than by looking at the verso of the title page, so recently began typing the date of publication on the ownership label on the flyleaf.

Nice touch: Neil Diamond piped over the intercom during the morning.  Happy working music, before the library opens.

Public OPACs require a login on startup, and although all branches have public Internet computers, only a couple of libraries offer wi-fi. The State cannot afford it, so branches must fund it out of their own budgets or with Friends’ funds.

Geodetic Marker, Lanikai

Geodetic Marker, Lanikai

Finally, The SPL Underground Librarian mentioned geocaching and USGS markers.  Here’s the marker from Lanikai (Alala) Point, pictured above.  It’s been there almost as long as I’ve been on this earth – used to ride my bike past it several times a week as a kid. Details are on the datasheet.

Week 10: Thingfo and Wrapping-Up

SPL Home Page: I’m really glad the webmaster put a link to the “legacy” web site in the footer of the new web pages.  I’ve used it several times when I couldn’t find something I thought should be there. By noting the “breadcrumbs” in the menu lines near the top of the screen, I’ll know where to find it next time.

Mango: Not related at all to 27 Things, but I’ve been working on a project to put a link to Mango Languages in the records of our audio language learning materials.  Once it’s completed, patrons will be able to click through to Mango from any record and “start learning this language now!”

Twitter: This was an acquired taste.  At first, I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t want to reveal TMI about my personal life.  However, as I acquired friends and followers, it was much easier to have meaningful conversations.  In the course of this 27 Things project, one staff member invited the 27Things team to follow him on Twitter, so I created a library account.  After this project is completed, it will be renamed to eliminate the reference to 27 Things. It’s been fun following RAN’s tweets and ELk’s, too.

Thingfo: I tried! I created a Thingfo, because I’m all about efficiency, but WordPress does not allow me to add the widget to my blog. Score one for Blogger!  Anyway, although it seems like a good idea to have all your social info in one place, I’m not quite ready to spout the contents of that stream on my blog.  So it’s just as well WordPress is not javascript-friendly in this case. I think I’ll pass on Thingfo and live with the “follow me on Twitter” widget.

Wrapping up

27Things has been a welcome break from “work” work.  I truly enjoyed exploring web sites and applications I might not have tried, and likewise discovered I would not use some of them – but now I know!

I would certainly like to do it again – maybe featuring fewer than 27 things – with different applications.  There are so many more to explore!  This project has also inspired me to write self-directed and video tutorials for our databases – hope to work on that during the summer.

And finally, I hope my co-workers will keep blogging, because I’ve really enjoyed the online conversations, insights, and opinions of all who participated.  Talking about changes, about our model for service, about concerns and questions can only be good for SPL, and sharing personal interests has added a dimension to work relationships that was missing before. Let’s continue, shall we?

Tangible Results Already!

As we work through our 27 Things, we’re beginning to see them applied to library service enhancements. For example,

  • As an experiment, our collection manager is soliciting comments on a new (to SPL) product by placing description and link on a wiki page (week 7) and inviting staff to try the product and add a comment to the wiki. This is actually much better than sending email comments to one person, because everyone can see all the comments and consider things they might have missed.
  • At least one library has set up a Twitter account (week 10) and is tweeting information about its public programs.
  • Another library has embedded an enticing  video (week 9) into the online event calendar inviting families to attend a toddler program.

None of this would have happened if staff hadn’t been encouraged to try those Things and discover they are not so daunting, after all!  Good stuff!

Week 9: Podcasts and Downloadable Audio

I’ve been pretty media-shy up to now, preferring to write instead of recording audio or video messages.  But after seeing how easy it is to listen to podcasts, and how easy it was for our 27 Things team to create the podcasts and videos for the exercises, I’ve decided to use the capabilities of software I already have to embed podcasts into my blog posts.

Last summer, a friend introduced me to Goldwave Audio, a free download that can take input from a record player (remember those?) and then edit out all the hisses and pops to create an amazingly clean digital recording you can burn to a CD.  I transferred cuts from an album the Al Nobriga Trio made in the late ’70s that was never published on CD, and was so delighted to hear my brother’s voice again! (He played bass for the group.)

Long story short, this weekend I’m going to use the voice recording capabilities of Goldwave to create a podcast.  If it works, I’m going to take my laptop to Hawaii and ask my mom to record some of her stories and memories.  It will be interesting, to say the least!

As for using our digital catalog to find downloadable materials – I’ve been downloading audiobooks for about a year now, and listening to them when I walk.  Last spring when I was practicing for the Avenue of the Vines half-marathon, I went through about 3 titles, the most memorable being “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.”

Week 9: YouTube – Skateboard Kerry

My family doesn’t have a history of video – we tend to take only snapshots, and lately, people have been hard to catch.  I decided to look on YouTube for something other than people.  We’ve been having an ongoing discussion at home about whether we really need a dog (no), so I looked online for a cute dog video to enjoy.  This one shows a Kerry Blue Terrier like one I used to have playing with a skateboard.  Enjoy!