Posted by: Eleanor | May 9, 2008

Thing #23: Summation

Here we are, at Thing #23 of 23.  It’s been a fantastic ride towards winning a Wii; I’ve learned a lot and had a lot of fun.  My favorite aspect of 2.0 in general is how incredibly social it is.  It’s truly technology with a human face and voice.  My favorite thing I learned about doing this challenge, though, was WorldCat.  It’s changed so much since I looked at it in Cataloging class in grad school.  Actually, that reminds me of my second favorite thing about Web 2.0 (and something I didn’t talk much about in my previous 22 posts) — change.  Web 2.0 (and Library 2.0) are necessarily about change as newer and better technologies are constantly being introduced.  What I love about 2.0 is the idea of working in Beta — that is, being willing to change on the fly, responding in a flexible way to failure, success, and most importantly, user input.  WorldCat has seen a lot of new functionality added since I last used it; I’m confident this change will be continued for the better. 

My least favorite thing about 2.0 is not having enough time to explore it all!  I was really hoping I’d be able to get to know some of my fellow OCLers through this project, by reading and commenting on other participants’ blogs.  However, there just isn’t enough time in the day!  I want to go hog wild with del.icio.us and Pandora and Mint and all these other awesome sites, but I still only have 24 hours in a day!

I think there are so many areas of Library 2.0 that the library should get involved in.  I think a few library blogs would be a great idea, with interested and committed library staff writing about books, programming, computer classes, teen and children’s interests.  This would be a great way to advertise our services, communicate with our patrons, and connect staff members from different branches.  I think a system wide del.icio.us page for Reference would be worthwhile.   I think a computer class/trainer wiki for class ideas and syllabi (as well as lessons learned) would be a hugely valuable resource as we transition our classes from traditional mouse skills and Microsoft Office into more 2.0 endeavors. 

I’ve shared all kinds of 2.0 resources with my friends and family.  I’ve hooked buddies on RSS.  I’ve gotten family members into blogging big time.  I use Google Docs with my friends to write collaborative blogs posts all the time.  I show Picnik to almost everyone I know! 

Speaking of Picnik, I threw a little something together in honor of my final blog post here at Eleanor’s 23 Things.  Before getting to it, though, I’d like to thank OCL and the WebThings committee for putting this challenge together! 

P.S.  *puts hands our a la Stephen Colbert* Wii, please!

Posted by: Eleanor | May 8, 2008

Thing #22: ListenNJ

Wow, we’ve reached the penultimate post here on Eleanor’s 23 Things! Only one more post to go on my journey to 2.0 success. Today’s post is about ListenNJ, a totally cool service (free to library card holders) for downloading audio books. Obviously, the lack of support for iPods is a problem but I trust ListenNJ when they say they’re working on it. I downloaded “A Tale Of Two Cities”, one of my favorite classics. I liked that many of the classics are always checked in and always available. We get a lot of students asking for recordings of the books they’re assigned to read for school, since some students learn better listening than reading. It’s nice to see there’s a resource where we might be able to serve their needs in times when we don’t have the audio books checked in (since no student ever seems to ask for the books well ahead of when the assignment is due, right?). The only two things I could see being potential stumbling blocks for new users are:

1. I had a spot of trouble figuring out that I needed to hit “Add To Cart”. For some reason, the light gray text completely receeded and so I spent about 5 seconds freaking out that I couldn’t add the book. I think putting “Add To Cart” by the title might have made it easier.

2. I did have trouble installing the software. Obviously, that only needs to be done once, so it’s not something that would be a constant problem.

Other than that, this seems like a really terrific service! I liked that they made it really clear what the listening and saving rights are for each specific title.

I can’t wait to download books to listen to in the background when I while away time playing MarioKart on my brand new Wii!

Posted by: Eleanor | May 5, 2008

Thing #21: Podcasts

I discovered the joy of podcasts last Spring when I was desperate for any extra hockey content I could get during the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. I was never a big sports radio listener because my local stations never talked about the sports and teams I care about. Then I discovered a lot of the hockey sites I was visiting had podcast interviews or regular talk shows about the stuff I wanted to be hearing. I could then subscribe to them with the click of a button in iTunes, and listen to them while driving. I didn’t have to hope that my favorite show would be on while I was driving, or hope that said show would talk about something interesting. I was in control of my own sports talk radio! How freeing!

I have to admit I like iTunes better than any other podcast aggregator. I find Odeo and Podbean and some of these other places a little confusing. I did find this one on Odeo:

Kukla’s Korner Interviews Pierre McGuire
http://odeo.com/audio/17857093/view

It’s a major hockey blogger interviewing a hockey television personality. It’s like value added content to the games I watch, which is wonderful! Anyway, iTunes is exceptionally easy to use for podcasts; you don’t need an iPod to use it, either. I can’t recommend it enough. I think finding podcasts still seems to be easier, at least to me, by visiting websites and blogs about the subjects you like, as they will sometimes have podcasts or reviews of other people’s podcasts. I have yet to see a podcast directory that seemed comprehensive enough to me.

This year I also started podcasting on my own (no-work) blog. It was shockingly  easy to do. There is no reason why the library couldn’t be offering podcast story hours, podcasts or programs, podcasts of What’s Happening At OCL, podcats of computer classes, etc.

Posted by: Eleanor | May 5, 2008

Thing #20: YouTube

I’m a big fan of YouTube, but I tend to only use if for pretty low-brow purposes (like, say, watching interviews with celebrities). However, when I went to search for something to blog about today, I stumbled on this:

I had searched for “gardening”, thinking I might find a backyard tour or some hastily made how-to videos. Instead I found one of a series of profiles of emerging artists posted by Dwell magazine. The artist featured here, Fritz Haeg, is the mastermind behind “Edible Estates”, a project near and dear to my heart. The project encourages people to turn their lawns into gardens filled with edible plants; this return to victory gardens would serve to bring people closer to the food they eat (while also doing away with wasteful and ecologically disastrous monoculture lawns). As someone with a front-yard vegetable garden, I whole-heartedly agree that this project can accomplish the goals set out for it. This video touches briefly on Edible Estates, but focuses more on Animal Estates, a project devised to encourage a more balanced cohabitation of humans and animals in big cities.

This video is a great example of the hidden gems you can find on YouTube. It’s not some handheld video of poorly executed skateboard moves, or some hyped viral video — it’s interesting content on a specific subject free for anyone to watch. Not only that, but this video, with it’s look at a new art exhibit and accompanying dance workshop, fulfills one of the core aspects of 2.0. It uses computer technology to allow me to get closer to something I wouldn’t otherwise experience.

(Anyone interested in “Edible Estates” can read the book — OCL owns several copies!)

Posted by: Eleanor | May 1, 2008

Thing #19: Web 2.0 Awards

Looking at the Web 2.0 Awards seems like a great way to keep up on new sites that are useful to lots of people. Scrolling through the list of winners I say some old favorites and some new things to try, including Cocktail Builder (my sister and I like to try out new cocktails as a way to survive the NHL off-season) and the various music sites (Pandora and LastFM). The one I really, really wish I could fit into my life, though, is BackPack. I saw this mentioned on Lifehacker a while back and the concept of it just blows my mind. It seems so flexible and fun, an online journal with as much infinite possibility as a blank notebook. But, as someone who doesn’t keep a journal in real life, I’m finding it tough to find a use for. Maybe I can use it to keep track of my vegetable garden’s progress! Or finally start keeping a wine journal. Or maybe I can use it to write about my experiences trying out Pandora and LastFM! 

Oh, who am I kidding?  I’m gonna use it to keep track of how awesome my new Wii is!

Posted by: Eleanor | April 29, 2008

Thing #18: Google Docs

I.  Love.  Google.  Docs!  I LOVE IT!  I use it all the time at work and at home.  I love the collaborative element of it, and will often write blog posts with friends with all of us editing the same post at the same time.  At work, I use it for all my meeting notes, so that I can write them on any computer that’s free.  I love that my files are backed up on a server instead of my flashdrive or the computer.  I love that the Spreadsheet feature uses a Look-up feature which Excel could never do.  I love showing it off in computer classes, because every now and then it blows someone’s socks off about how flexible and astounding web tools can be. I’d say Zoho is probably better, but because I use Google for email, RSS feeds and my calendar, I’m just used to using Docs because it’s so easy to get to from windows I already have open.

When I win my Wii, I’m going to use Google Docs for making lists of games to try-out, and tracking high-scores, and writing loving blog posts about it!  Hee hee!

Posted by: Eleanor | April 29, 2008

Thing #17: Sandbox Fun!

 For Thing #17, we were instructed to goof around in the OCL Webthings Wiki. I added a bit about my favorite sports team, and added my blog’s URL. PB Wiki really couldn’t be easier to use, since it’s set up as a WYSIWYG. If you can blog, you can use a wiki.

I think wikis could be really useful in the library, both for internal staff uses and external services for patrons. I think internally, a wiki would be a great place to set up a shared resource area for computer class teachers. Handouts could be uploaded, syllabi shared, and tips and suggestions for what works and what doesn’t could be passed back and forth. Externally, I know other libraries in NJ have had success with creating a book review wiki for adult summer reading clubs; I think that’s a really incredible idea. Inviting participation like that, and collecting patron’s ideas about books is a great way to let patrons know they are valued by the library system.

Posted by: Eleanor | April 22, 2008

Thing #7: The Scanner

Look! I finally got around to scanning an image for Thing #7! A colleague needed a refresher course so I was over there anyway. The scanner is an odd beast. It’s super easy to use, but if you’re new to it, you don’t really get a ton of practice with it so it’s easy to forget. The most difficult part is explaining to people why OCR isn’t a perfect science and that it’s not going to be a quick job to scan that bad photocopy of some letter head to just change the zip code in the adress. Heh.

Posted by: Eleanor | April 22, 2008

Thing #16: Wikis

I think wikis are so awesome. I’m a huge fan of Wikipedia. Yes. I’m a librarian who loves Wikipedia. I used to run in fear from it. Then one day I sat down and said, “OK, Eleanor, time to get serious.” I picked five things I know at least more than a little about from different subject areas (pop culture, art, history, sports, needlework) and read up on them on Wikipedia. I didn’t find anything that went against what I already knew to be true. Of course, I wouldn’t use it for academic research, but it’s a really, really, really great starting point.

As for other wikis, I haven’t found a ton of major ones that I refer to often. I tried searching for sports or gardening wikis but came up empty (I didn’t search long or hard). But I have had experience setting up a wiki for use in a small group of people trying to keep track of a glossary of terms for a specific project. It worked like a charm! Wikis could not be easier to set up and contribute to. The hardest part was decided on the syntax of the entries!

I feel like a wiki would be a great way to organize information for training new employees. We have a fair amount of turn-over among librarians with people moving up (or out) and having a wiki set up for a new person to work through on their own time, and add to as they learn the ropes, would be a cool way to archive lessons learned from training. Fresh eyes would be constantly editing the document to make sure it’s up to date and useful.

Speaking of which, I love the Library Best Practices Wiki, but almost always forget it’s there. I pledge to refer to it more often this year!

Posted by: Eleanor | April 18, 2008

Thing #15: Library 2.0

For Thing #15 I read these articlesand found myself thinking about the most important element of my job as a librarian.  It’s an element I received no formal education on as part of my MLIS degree.   It’s an element I don’t get an generalized training in from my employer.  It’s an element that’s often overlooked in writings about library work.  It is customer service

Micheal Stephens writes about how Librarian 2.0 must always work in beta mode.  I think that’s a great point in terms of how librarians should be learning and implementing new 2.0 strategies for library services.  I’ve sensed a lot of hesitancy from non-tech-savvy people to embrace this idea, but really, when you think about it, basic customer service is like one big beta test.  Interacting with people is always about trial and error.  Some tactics work with one person but not another; one approach to helping a customer might work at a quiet reference desk at 9:40 am, but might not at 6:30 pm when it’s crowded and beyond bustling; getting comfortable with regular patrons allows increased comfort and teaches lessons to be remembered later with new customers.  Really, working with 2.0 technologies and strategies isn’t any different.  Anyone who’s worked in customer service should be a natural for embracing a beta mindset.

 I was also taken with Rick Anderson’s points about educating our customer base.  Working in Lakewood, I still do encounter the digital divide.  Closing that gap one person at a time is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling part of my job.  While Anderson is right that we’re losing the monopoly on the information landscape, we have one truly excellent asset: us.  Librarians.  People devoted to bibliographic and computer literacy.  More and more our customers are being required to learn computer skills.  Embracing the role we can play in helping them is a key approach to advertising how essential the library can be, even if it means expanding our roles and day-to-day jobs. 

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