Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm Finished!!!!!

I'm a list person. I started out working on one "Thing" each week. Toward the end, however, I just wanted to cross the "Things" off my list -- have that sense of completion. So, now I'm done.

I want to thank the 10 Things team. This has been a great learning experience. I really enjoyed the self-guided aspect of this training. It was great to be able to go at my own pace. The format - "Define, Discover, Do" - was terrific. I got a basic understanding, was able to explore further and gather more information as I wanted and had the time and then I could practice the skill (always an important aspect of training).

Because I'm not particularly strong technologically it was great to have someone select "the most important things" to learn and weed through all the resources, recommending some of the best for me to read and review. I didn't need a lot of help but it was great to know the help was there. I think I'll use the time til Staff Day to go back and practice some of the things learned.

Thanks again.

The Virtual Library Branch

Before I write anything about the library's website I want to mention my experience downloading a digital book. I had wanted to download a book for a long time and just never got around to it. (One of the many good things about 10 things @ spl is that it "forces" me to do things I otherwise put off.) Once again the actual downloading is very easy. I made one mistake - I already have Adobe Reader so I thought I didn't need to download the software. But when the computer told me I had finished downloading my first book, it was no where to be found. It is somewhere in cyberspace, I know not where. I then downloaded the Adobe Reader software and another book without a problem. What I dislike intensely is the fact that searching for a book to download is very, very cumbersome if I don't already have a title in mind. I literally have to scroll through every book. THERE HAS GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY! Innovative is supposed to work with libraries - at least that's what the president of the company told me when I interviewed him for a project when I was in school. Wouldn't you think one of us would come up with a suggestion for doing it better? That said I don't have any ideas at the moment.

I think we have an incredible amount of information on our web site. I spent some time poking around the Movies and Music and the Reading sections since I spend most of my time in the Kids section. I love booklists and we have tons of them. Plus we have links to newsletters about books, special web sites, databases for literary criticism. It's amazing. I do think, however, that our strength is also our weakness. There is so much information on our web site and it is so dense that it can be difficult to find information. Even though I work with the Kids pages every day there are still things I have trouble finding. I can only imagine what it's like for patrons sometimes.

If we add things right now I think we should be adding things that make access to information easier. So, it might be fun to have a weekly podcast on our homepage that talks about what's happening at the library in the coming week - something that briefly highlights major events. In Youth Services Ruth S. developed a presentation for schools about our web site and what classrooms and students could access from our website, including how to use the electronic databases. Wouldn't it be cool to have that as a podcast in the student database section. It would act as a tutorial and help folks learn how to use the resources. I haven't seen WebConnections yet. If it doesn't address search strategies I definitely think that would need to be included. Just a thought.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Google Tools

Rather than creating a document on Google Docs, I uploaded a document that I'm working on with a co-worker. I identified her as a contributor/collaborator and we're going to try doing our "edits" this way. Uploading was very easy. I had a little trouble figuring out how to save the document with changes to my files in Word but figured it out. Now we'll see what happens as we both edit the document. This "shared" feature seems like it could be very useful for collaborative work, committee tasks or projects. The word processing feature itself on Google Docs seems kind of primitive - none of the bells and whistles that are in Microsoft Word. I missed the formatting features such as being able to select different bullet types and adjust the indentation.

With respect to the various Google tools I was interested in the Google notebook. I can see the advantage of having a notebook on the screen and being able to put items, pieces of information, URLs there when I'm researching a vacation. My husband has been using Google Earth so it was fun to acutally see where it's located and Ruth S. has talked about using Google Scholar when researching Web sites to link to our site when we're featuring particular topics such as Native Americans. It was great to see how that works.

I spent some time browsing Lifehacker. I think it must be how I process information; some of it may be my relative inexperience with technology -- I find it very difficult to wade through all the information up on the site and even find things of particular interest. When I do find some information and click on it to read more, I realize how vast the resources are and how much time I could spend just browsing. There is so much information that, at times, it seems overwhelming. I kept thinking how wonderful The Ten Things has been for me. It's distilled information about these tools into useable chunks and collected it in one place where I could find it, spend time on ti and digest some of it. Generally I found the material, when presented in this way, easy to absorb and understand. If I had to try and learn about each of these tools on my own - find my own information - I wouldn't be motivated enough or technically proficient enough to do it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wikis -- Radical Trust

I think Wikis used within an organization can be a great tool. I kept thinking about the strategic planning process and how useful a Wiki could be to get input from staff, share ideas, edit drafts, etc. I also think it could be useful for committee work - as committee members are working on assignments, gathering information, etc. they can post it, get feedback, comment on the work of other members.

As for the concept of "radical trust" it seems like the community can monitor content to ensure there's no vandalism. But if no one person is responsible for an article's content who is ultimately accountable? I suppose Wiki advocates would say "the community" is accountable but over the long run I'm not sure that is sustainable. But time will tell.


I listened to podcasts from the Denver Public Library, the Boulder Public Library and the Lansing Public Library Youth Services Department. I'm excited about the possibilities of podcasting for us at SPL.

Denver Public Library has podcasts of stories - some folktales and picture books, too. I'm curious about what, if any, the copyright issues are for these kind of podcasts. Some of the picture books were relatively recent so I'm assuming there had to be some kind of agreement with the publisher.

The Boulder Public Library teen section had students interviewing other students about different topics. The one I listened to was a middle school student interviewing three other middles school students about an art project - creating self-portraits from torn paper. This raises one of the drawbacks or something that has to be taken into consideration when deciding what to offer through podcasts. I kept wantint to see the self-portraits the girls had done as they spoke about them and I had no visuals! It was a far less interesting experience because I couldn't see what the students' work. I think the same applies for picture books - it's important to be able to see the illustrations. Although with picture books the family can always check out the book(s) so the child could look at the book while the story is being read. Will the child know when to turn the page?

For non-library podcasts I listened to one entitled Manager Tools in which two men discussed a managerial tool - use of persuasian. This type of interview - discussion about ideas/something that can't be seen - seems to work quite well with the podcast format. Having two people talking helps avoid potential monotony with one voice. Ricki has interviewed a number of authors - wouldn't it be great to podcast those interviews! I happen to think short and sweet is best - if the interview is going on for more than 15-20 minutes that's probably too long. But that's just my opinion and I'd be interested in what other folks think. We could also do author interviews in Youth Services. Kimberly Willis Holt was just here and she would have been a great person to interview. School classrooms (or individual students) that weren't able to attend her presentation could still listen to an interview. Another idea -- I know I mentioned in my first posting on blogs that I could see us having students blogging book reviews. We could also have students interviewing each other, librarians interviewing students, librarians interviewing teachers.....about books that are being read.

I'm amazed at how many libraries already use this technology and libraries that aren't that large - probably don't have as large a budget or as many staff as we do. From my perspective this is really something we should explore.

Now, how in heaven's name does one create a podcast?????

Friday, November 9, 2007

Stutter Stepping AND Bookmarking

Well, the actual steps to bookmark are not difficult and yet it took me a long time to do this thing. Perhaps because I needed to poke around and check out a lot of the examples and explanation pages to better understand what was going on. The concept itself is a little confusing.

I love to cook and I could see the usefulness of tagging cooking Web sites and favorite recipes and having a central place where I could go to find them. I'm not sure about things to bookmark and tags for libraries. Certainly terms like booklists programideas come to mind.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Stutter and Flickr

This thing took a bit longer than the other things and I still have one piece I have to learn. I had never used a digital camera and had no idea how to upload pictures from the camera onto my computer. So, I took my 10 things assignment home. I used pictures from our summer vacation that my husband had uploaded to our home network. Yesterday I took some pictures with our digital camera and sometime this week he'll show me how to upload them. I really want to learn how to do that - also want to learn how to load pictures onto a microchip so I can change pictures on my digital picture frame - so this is a good opportunity.

A little thing in terms of the directions - I didn't realize I had to click on my photo to be able to see the "Blog This" tool. It took me a while until I finally just decided to click on the photo to see what would happen. Others with more experience might have realized that right away.

The one thing I thought of as a way to use Flickr - to photograph and tag our changing art exhibitions. We have wonderful exhibits and it might be nice to have a way for patrons to be able to "visit" past displays or have the chance to enjoy once more a favorite from a previous display. Some suggested tags would be "Skokie Art Exhibits", the name of the sponsoring group such as "Skokie Art Guild", the name of the actual exhibit.