Friday, August 21, 2009

Exploration 9: (This Part Last!): What's Next and Looking Back

Well, I can't believe it took me so darn long to finish this project! I was one of the original 23 things beta testers waaaaay back when, but never finished. So here I am, over 2 years later and I'm finally done! During that 2-year hiatus, I started using many of the sites in the explorations on my own--Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, etc. I really enjoy using all of them, in particular Twitter and Facebook. Those two sites have brought me back in touch with many old friends, helped me make new friends, and made me feel like I know what's going on at other branches much more than I did before. For a loner/homebody type like me, social networking sites allow me to be in touch without having to get on the phone, send emails, or go out anywhere (I am lazy!), and I learn a lot about people's lives that I never would have known before.

It's good that our library is recognizing the way Web 2.0 sites are changing the way people live, for better or for worse, and trying to incorporate some of the best sites into our daily work routines. It's great that we all did this assignment, and I think we'll be a better staff for it. I look forward to future updates, and I promise not to take 2 years to complete them!

Exploration 8: Social Bookmarking Sites & Folksonomies

I have had a Delicious account for about a year. I have mostly been using it for saving research sites for our new house, and it's been great for that because I can access the bookmarks from home, my phone, or at work. I believe it is very useful for individuals in that way, but maybe less so for our library. Our branch has an account, but I don't think anyone uses it much. Most of the websites we use on a regular basis are in the Recommended Sites right on the library's site, and that's what most people tend to use. I did bookmark a bunch of children's lit bloggers on our branch account for reading during slow times on the desk (great for J reader's advisory), and some sites particular to our local area (sports registrations, etc.), and I hope others will add their favorite sites to the account so we can all share.

Exploration 7: Wikis

So, wikis. The big one, Wikipedia, I use all the time. Not as a definitive source, but a jumping-off point, a place to gather "facts" that I can confirm using more reliable sources. I find it to be extremely useful for library work and my own personal edification. I also enjoy some of the specialty wikis, such as the Battlestar wiki (for the show Battlestar Galactica) and Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki). The collaborative nature of wikis provides some built-in oversight and is great for gathering all of those tiny little facts that reside in the heads of fans all over the world.

I have also had success using our system wikis. I don't find them to be as instinctual to use as some other kinds of sites, but I almost always find the information I'm looking for after a few tries, and, increasingly, on the first try. They function like a shared drive for the whole system, and in that respect they're really great for sharing information quickly and efficiently. I use the Materials Management wiki a lot, to refresh my memory about the J series list, to find that memo that has that piece of information I KNOW I read somewhere 6 months ago, and to double-check collection policies. I think the system is using wikis well, and I'm happy to see that other departments are starting to use them too.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Exploration 6: Online Office Tools

Below you will find the very exciting and beautiful document that I prepared with the Zoho writer. I found Zoho to be pretty easy to use because I am already familiar with Microsoft Word. I think patrons who already know how to use word processing programs will be able to use these online programs without much trouble, but the ones who don't will be totally lost because there are a lot of menu options and things going on across the screen and it might be overwhelming to them.

I liked the idea of Microsoft Office Live and its ability to have multiple collaborators working on a document without having to email it back and forth. This could definitely be used in the library for committees and task forces, and for in-branch things like the programming committee, though we do tend to use the shared server for collaborative documents.

An office tool I didn't see listed here (perhaps it might not have existed when this training was created!) is Zamzar. Zamzar allows users to convert files from one format to another; you upload your file to their site, give them your email address, and tell them which format you want. They'll convert it and email the file back to you. I have recommended this several times to patrons who wanted to convert documents into pdf files so that they could send their resume to prospective employers in that format.

So, enjoy my little document below; you will see that I slaved and slaved over it for hours!


Oh boy, here I am writing a document in Zoho! I am supposed to type a whole paragraph. I didn't know there were so many online word processing/file-sharing programs! Some seem to be easier to use than others. I think 2.5 lines is a paragraph, don't you?

  • Old MacDonald
  • had a farm
  • e-i-e-i-
  • o

catch atigerby thetoe
if hehollerslet himgo

I like this shirt

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Exploration 5: It's a Library Thing

I first encountered Library Thing a few years ago when I was a member of the Staff Development Committee. I was involved in creating a Reader's Advisory training for new staff, and Library Thing was one of the sites we covered. I did create an account for myself, but I never did much with it. To me, it was a bit clunky to use, particularly the method by which you added books to your shelves.

After investigating the other options out there, I decided to use Goodreads and never looked back. Most of the information staff at my branch have a Goodreads account, and many use it regularly. I find it easy to add a book, tag my books, organize them, and view what my friends are reading. I like getting the update emails that show me what my friends have added to their accounts, and I have used my friends' lists to help me with reader's advisory for patrons! I think that is probably the most likely use of these sites for our library, given the current budget situation. I don't think we'd have the staff to create an AACPL Goodreads or Library Thing and keep it up to date, but if staff use it for themselves and connect with each other, then we can all benefit from each other's reading and the patrons will too.

I never used any method of keeping track of my reading before, and it's so nice to have my Goodreads page always accessible, particularly for keeping track of what I *want* to read. Now I don't have to check out the cool new book I saw, take it home, never get around to reading it, pay some fines on it, then return it, never to be remembered again. Now I just quickly add it to my "to read" list and then when I finish a book, I just look at the list and pick something! Of course, I will undoubtedly never get around to reading everything on that list (which stands at 137 books at this point--doh!), but it's nice knowing it's there. I certainly hope that Goodreads sticks around for a while. That's the downside of using online sites to keep track of things--what if they shut down? You can print your lists of books, of course, but then you'd have to enter them all over again somewhere else. *shudder* Ah well, let's just hope for the best, shall we? :-)

You can find me on Goodreads here:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Exploration 4: RSS Feeds, Readers and Keeping Track of Web 2.0

Well, I used to use Bloglines about 4 years ago when I started knitting again. There were all of these knitters who blogged, and I thought it would be great if I could just check all of their blogs all in one place! And it was great, but I quickly fell behind reading and it started to feel like a chore rather than something fun. It was intimidating, seeing all of those posts there that I wanted to read, but really didn't have time to read. I also missed seeing the layout of each blog; Bloglines (and Google Reader, the other aggregator I have experience with) does not display the unique look of each blog. All postings are black text on white background, with no sidebars or other add-ons that the blog might have.

Fast forward to earlier this year: having discovered the wealth of children's lit blogs out in the blogosphere, I was in the same situation I had been in with the knitting blogs. I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if I could just read them all in one place!" I decided to try Google Reader rather than Bloglines to see if the user experience would be any different. Maybe I would keep up with my RSS feeds this time. Dear reader, I think you can guess what happened. I now have a Google Reader full of postings that I haven't read. Sigh.

But fear not, this story is not ALL darkness and gloom! I gathered up my courage and checked my Google Reader last week. Lo and behold, AACPL had added the newest book by one of my favorite YA authors, Scott Westerfeld, to the catalog! I immediately placed a hold and there was much rejoicing. I had forgotten I set up an RSS feed from our catalog to test out how it worked. Apparently, our RSS feeds work quite well! And I can see how they could be really useful to our tech-savvy patrons who use feed aggregators and aren't afraid to check them regularly. They can be notified when their favorite authors' newest works are added to our catalog so that they can get on the wait list ASAP. I can also see it being used for library events (Twitter could work for that too, and probably reach a much wider audience).

Perhaps someday I will have loads and loads of free time, and I can finally keep up with all of my feeds. But I'm not holding my breath. :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Exploration 3: Flickr and Photo Sharing Communities

I've been using Flickr for about 2 years, and have uploaded nearly 30,000 photos during that time to my paid account. I did a bit of research about the various photo-hosting sites before deciding to use Flickr. I felt that Flickr was very user-friendly, and I liked that you could tag your photos and organize them into sets and collections. The various levels of privacy were also attractive to me. Some photos are okay for anyone to see, but some I only want friends and family to see; Flickr allows me to do that and it's great. I love the knowledge that, should something happen to my computer and my backup drive, I still have my pictures on Flickr's servers and can get them back again. Flickr recently added mobile and Twitter functionality so that you can upload a picture from your phone to Flickr and simultaneously tweet the picture to your Twitter account! Really fun, easy way to liveblog an event and give the folks at home some pictures to go with.

I think it would be great if AACPL had the money to purchase an unlimited account for the system. The organizational structure is certainly there--each branch could have its own collection, and you can put collections inside of other collections, so pictures from various events would be easy to find. Of course, there is the privacy issue and I don't know how that would work, but the potential is certainly there.

Overall, I find Flickr to be a terrific site, and one that I would highly recommend to others who want to store and share their photos easily and for a reasonable price. You can find me on Flickr here:

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Exploration 2 - Blogging

I like blogs. A lot. I could read blogs all day and never get bored. Blogs are truly wonderful for learning about new things; for example, when I was new to knitting I read tons of knitting blogs and really learned a lot about yarn, technique, resources, the community, websites, etc. On my lunch break, I read a lot of children's lit blogs to help keep me current with new releases, events, trends, and so on.

Our library's Programming Blog is great; it's been fun to see what other branches are up to, to look at the program pictures and learn about which programs were really successful and worth repeating. Apparently the Collection Blog was less successful, but instead of giving up, the library went a different route and started a Google Group. We might have been able to use RSS instead of Google Groups, but that's another exploration. ;-)

Other libraries have maintained blogs to keep their patrons updated about new releases, programs, and other library happenings, and ultimately that might be nice for AACPL to try, but the issue of staff time and resources always rears its ugly head. I think Twitter and RSS might be better options for that (but those are other explorations!)

I just started a new blog at Wordpress to chronicle the construction of our new home. I have read a few blogs on that topic and they were terrific for both the readers and the blogger: the reader gets to vicariously experience the intense process of building a home, and the blogger creates a record (with lots of dates and pictures) of the process for future reference.

In conclusion: blogs = good!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Exploration 1: Introduction to Web 2.0

So here I am, nearly 2 years later, starting this assignment over again! Just finished watching the video (thanks Keepvid!) and reading the articles. Our library certainly has a herculean task ahead of it trying to keep pace with the changing ways people are accessing and creating information online. Budget challenges (that's putting it mildly) aren't going to help, but we can at least keep coming up with ideas about keeping the library relevant in this brave new world. The homepage redesign and the forthcoming Aquabrowser launch will help modernize the online image of the library, and if we can get RSS feeds up and running, that would be a boost as well.

The articles were thought-provoking for sure, but I wonder about all the jargon and how comprehensible they will be to people who aren't familiar at all with Web 2.0 terminology. I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to this stuff, and even my eyes were glazing over at times.

For now, on to the next exploration!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

23 Things - Week 3 - Flickr and such

I am enjoying 23 Things as it is motivating me to really investigate sites that I've been meaning to look at but never find the time to do so. I've looked at many, many photos on various Flickr accounts, but never got around to creating an account for myself. So now, I finally have! And those mash-up tools were so cool! I had no idea they were out there. I've recently discovered the lolcats (yes, so behind the times, I know), and have been checking a site called I Can Has Cheezburger?, which has daily updates with new lolcats. And now, thanks to 23 Things, I made my own lolcat, with a picture of my cat Alex (right)! I had been curious as to the origin of the lolcat, so looked up the wikipedia entry about them. Which, in turn, led me to read the wiki entry about internet memes, which led me to the entry for meme itself, since I had seen the term on blogs for years, but never really knew what it meant. And boy, I really was not expecting a definition like this:

According to memetic theory, a meme (IPA: /me:me/, IPA: /me:m/ or IPA: /mi:m/) —
a unit of cultural information, cultural evolution or diffusion — propagates from one mind to another analogously to the way in which a gene propagates from one organism to another as a unit of genetic information and of biological evolution.

I mean, that's some heavy-duty, scientific-sounding stuff! I mean, I just wanted to know where the lolcats originated, but, as often happens online, that information leads me to more information I am curious about, and before I know it's 2 hours later and I've learned more than I expected.

So that's what interested me in technology this week. Silly pictures of cats with grammatically incorrect captions and how they propogate from mind to mind just like evolution!