Friday, February 9, 2007

My Light Bulb is Dim

I've been brainstorming for an idea of what I'd like to learn more about, but wasn't covered in these lessons. The light bulb above my head is a little dim, but what I keep thinking of is this: I would have liked a lesson that shared Library 2.0 success stories from other libraries- how they have integrated 2.0 technologies into their library system. Perhaps combined with this lesson could be a request for one or two suggestions on how we might be able to do the same here. It might get us in the mood for change.

I'm done now. May I have a cookie?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

You've Reached the End... Turn Around

Having finished up the Library Learning lessons (say that ten times fast), I feel like the guy in a high-speed Internet commercial that ran a couple years ago. He's browsing online, when a message flashes on his screen: You've reached the end. Please turn around. Or something along those lines. Fortunately, just like the Internet, there really is no end to Library Learning, and the more you study, the more there is to learn. How Zen.

I enjoy new technologies, consider myself reasonably proficient with computers, and am comfortable with online tools and applications. Because of this, I assumed the lessons would be appealing, and they were. What surprised me, however, was how many of the lessons covered territory I hadn't experienced before. All the applications are current technologies in use by a good portion of the online world, yet I wasn't taking advantage of them. Shame on me.

This isn't to say I'm ready and willing to use all the tools I've explored. I need more experience with and technorati to declare myself a convert, and the MySpace page I set up will most likely collect dust- I have enough Web pages to update already. To each their own.

There were plenty of highlights to my experience, though, including tagging, using Library Thing, messing around with image generators, creating maps on, and most of all, finally entering the world of information feeds. I love my Bloglines account, and can't believe I've managed to overlook this tool for so long.

I can be told how to ride a bike, but won't actually learn until I pedal one. Rather than absorbing a demonstration, I've always learned best by simply sitting down with a tool, and discovering what it's capable of. Introducing Library 2.0 ways of thinking through hands-on, self-paced experiences is an effective method, and one that works especially well in a busy work environment. Considering all I learned, it obviously worked for me.

Throughout these lessons, the emphasis on libraries as part of a global, interactive community could not have been better placed. Libraries are tasked with offering informational access to everyone, and doing so without taking advantage of emerging technologies would result in an ever-increasing loss of patrons. They will expect us to change with the times, and it's our responsibility to do so. In my mind, the key to this change is accessibility- tools that are intuitive for those with little experience, yet complex enough to meet the demands of the technologically savvy. And they must continuously change with the times.

My Book Needs Batteries

Having spent time perusing Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, random ebook samplings I chose from NetLibrary, I have the same opinion I've had before: when it comes to recreational reading, electronic books just aren't my thing. I love my computer, reading articles and blogs online, and keeping up with new technologies, but I just can't get excited over reading a novel in my office chair, or lounging with a PDA.

Figuring my reluctance was more based on age than anything else, I asked my sixteen-year-old if she could see her future self reading electronic bedtime books to her children. I was surprised when she said no, simply because half the time she could be mistaken for a computer. It could very well be that she will be downloading books and reading them from a touch-screen built into the wall above her child's bed, but as of now, she's not excited about the prospect.

Thinking back a few lessons, I can see a beta is forever approach being key in this area. A slow, steady introduction of electronic formats will result in greater acceptance. But declaring the death of the traditional book today simply doesn't make sense to me, and the crowds at Barnes & Noble would seem to back this up. More engaging formats will be necessary to win me over, but I'm certainly willing to try.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Finding and listening to podcasts is a simple process. Finding regularly-updated podcasts is a different story. Many of the ones I discovered during this Library Learning lesson hadn't been updated in the last year. It reminded me of a couple of weekend movie box office sites I used to have links to in Explorer- at the time I deleted the links, both sites hadn't been updated in two years! There is no end to the number of dead pages on servers around the world, and depending on your search terms, this is also true of podcasts. Why bother linking to a science tech review podcast that hasn't been updated in two years?

Luckily, there are still plenty of current ones out there. Of the three search engines used during this lesson, Yahoo! Podcasts seemed to give me the simplest, most current results, with visual style. Then again, this could have something to do with the odd searching I did. My Bloglines account now has feeds from Geek Speak Radio and The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas. It's best not to ask.

In a library setting, podcasting makes as much sense as embedded video. We could have anything from a book recommendation corner to children's stories in streaming format on our site- all recorded by staff. Interactivity is the key, and this would be a simple way to make a personal connection with our patrons.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Watching the Tube

My teenage daughters know all about YouTube, and have forced me to watch approximately ten million anime music videos in the last year. If I see one more video made from Advent Children clips, I might require physical restraints. And considering the varying levels of talent displayed here, to say that YouTube encourages anyone to try is an understatement. Digging for YouTube diamonds can be quite a task, depending on your tastes. Yet, I've enjoyed nearly every search, and viewed talent I otherwise would never have seen.

I'll post a good example of this. During a search for Japanese art, I came across this video of a week's worth of ever-changing artwork painted on a wall. Time-lapsed, various people flit across the screen, adding this, taking away that, at times washing it all away to begin again. It's amazingly complex work at times, and if it weren't for this video, I'm not sure how many would have seen and enjoyed it before it was gone. Thanks to YouTube, it's available for all.

To me, the benefits to the library of a site such as this are obvious. With embedding, filmed examples of library programs or community events could be added to our site. We could even film our new technologies in action, and post the results as short instructional videos.

Wayfaring Across the Universe

Library Learning lesson #24 had me explore one of the many applications nominated for the Web 2.0 awards presented by SEOmoz. I chose, the winner in the mapping category. It is much like any one of the million mapping sites out there, but with nice route creation and tagging features. It makes the experience more interactive... in a Web 2.0 way. Go figure.

As an exercise, I mapped out my daily commute to the library, with visual tags for my house, the library, and the Capitol building- all built with simple mouse clicks on a map. The distance of the route was calculated as I clicked (7.61 miles, if you're curious), and the resulting map saved under my profile, able to be shared with other users. I'm not sure why they'd want to see it, but it's available if I wish to share. I might use this tool to show the route of our family trip to Montana last year (complete with tagged highlights) for my extended family to view. Won't they be thrilled? Come on, it's better than sitting around with a photo album.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Lab Rat

Having spent some time exploring Google Labs, I've found a couple applications I enjoyed using. By far, the most useful to me would have to be Google Notebook, which allows me to clip, paste, organize and save information as I browse, without having to leave the browser. The result is saved for future use, from any location. Neat! Although not as useful, Google Trends is certainly fun to play around with. Trends displays comparative information for multiple search terms. For instance, I typed in Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, then searched. The engine gave me a chart comparing the number of Google searches for both terms over the last two years, and displayed the results on a chart. Of course, the Broncos won. Everyone knows that ;)
Of these two "toys," Notebook certainly has the greatest potential to graduate into a full-fledged Google tool. I'd use it.