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Minnesota, United States

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thing 23 - Final Thoughts

I did it! I completed 23 Things on a Stick and found it to be a great program. I am hoping for a sequel! Here are my thoughts to the following questions:

1) Go back to your thoughts/ideas about Library 2.0. Has anything changed as a result of this experience?

I have become considerably more knowledgeable and proficient in using web 2.0 tools. I have increased my awareness of how web 2.0 can be used in libraries.

2) What were your favorite Things and discoveries?

I enjoyed each of the Things very much. The most fun for me was Thing 5 (Flickr Mash-Ups), Thing 6 (Online Image Generators), Thing 18 (Online Videos), and Thing 21 (Exploring Social Networks beyond MySpace and Facebook)

3) How did you connect with others doing the 23 Things On a Stick?

*Communicating my thoughts about web 2.0 through my blog
*Exploring web 2.0 communication tools (email, IM, text messaging, and webconferencing) and communicating with others via these methods.
*Participating in this wiki, which discusses web 2.0 issues
*Joining Facebook
*Commenting on various web 2.0 related blog posts

4) Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

*There were some things that I didn't know about prior to this program. Most of the material in Things 9 (Collaboration Tools), 12 (Social Media Sites), 13 (Online Productivity Tools), 16 (U of MN Assignment Calculator and Research Project Calculator), 17 (ELM Productivity Tools), and 21 (Social Networks beyond Facebook and MySpace) were completely new to me.

5) What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or content?

*The program was great. I can't think of any ways to improve the content. Maybe give us a little more time to finish. I like to thoroughly explore each of the 23 things and would have gone more in depth on some of them given more time.

6) If we offered a 23 More Things On a Stick program like this in the future would you participate?

*Yes, can't wait for the sequel!

7) How would you describe your learning experience in one word or in one sentence, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things On a Stick learning activities to others?

*An enlightening experience

Thing 22 - What Did I Learn Today?

I am almost done with 23 Things on a Stick but I will continue to maintain my blog and update my web 2.0 skills. Some of the ways I will do this include:

*Reading others 23 Things on Stick blogs to get new ideas.
*Adding entries to my blog when I discover new web 2.0 tools that can applicable to a library setting.
*Do some of the optional challenges in the lessons that I didn't get around to doing.
*Continue reading and subscribing to new RSS feeds as appropriate
*Check out some of the web 2.0 sites that I have bookmarked on del.icio.us

My resolutions for keeping with web 2.0 include:
*Spend 15 minutes a day on web 2.0 related activities
*Explore at least one new web 2.0 tool a week
*Attend at least one free webinar or online course per month through sites such as MINITEX, WebJunction-Minnesota, or OPAL

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thing 21 - Beyond MySpace: Other Social Networks

So many social networks, so little time. That's how I felt going through this exercise. I found many great social networking websites, but where will I find the time for all of them?

Some of the sites listed, I already use, including LinkedIn for career networking, Webjunction for professional development, and LibraryThing for discussing books and finding new things to read.

There were a number of sites I found interesting and plan on exploring more when I have more time. Some of these include:
Yelp, which provides reviews of local interest (including libraries)
Last.fm, discover new music based on your preferences. I currently use a related site, Pandora.com
Flixster , networking site for movie lovers
What's on My Bookshelf?, a site where members can exchange books using a point system
43 Things, list your goals and share your progress with others

In addition, I joined the Library 2.0 and the 23 Things on a Stick groups on Ning. In the 23 Things on a Stick group, I posted comments, uploaded a photo, and also added the 23 Things on a Stick badge to my blog.

What are some uses of the above social networking tools for librarians?

*Ning can be used to create new social networks. This would be particularly useful for librarians with specialized interests and careers.
*LinkedIn can be used for networking purposes
*Webjunction can be used for professional development. Many free workshops are offered here.
*Yelp posts reviews of local libraries. Librarians can use this information to see what community members think of their libraries and make changes accordingly.

Thing 20 - Libraries and Social Networks

I explored two of the most popular online social networks: MySpace and Facebook. I set up a Facebook account, set up a profile, added some friends, and joined the following Facebook groups: American Library Association Members, Library 2.0 Interest Group, and Hennepin County Library Employees. I was pleased to find a Facebook group for the library I work in. I hope it becomes more active.

Privacy is a concern of many with social networking sites. I liked the option to make my profile only viewable by friends. You never know who may be looking for you or who accidentally stumbles upon your name. When I set up an account, I got a list of "people you may already know". Some I did know, but several were complete strangers.

I was surprised to find that a lot of people I know: relatives, long lost friends, college and high school classmates, and coworkers have Facebook accounts. I liked the ability to search for people in Facebook from my email contacts or based on the college or high school I attended.

Compared to Facebook, MySpace has similar features. Both social networking sites have similar features: groups you can join, browsing for people based on interests and school attended, look up friends in your email address book, marketplace/classifieds, etc. It seemed like MySpace had more applications overall but also a busier and less clean layout.

I visited the MySpace page for Hennepin County Library and found it to be a good way of promoting the library and its services. The page has a built in search bar for the library, links to library programs, and a find a good book feature.

Librarians can use social networking sites to promote their libraries, network with other librarians, and join library related groups. In particular, many teenagers use MySpace and some libraries have MySpace workshops, including an internet safety component.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thing 19 - Podcasts

The podcast I chose to listen to was Tech Training and Competencies for Libraries, presented by Sarah Houghton-Jan from San Jose Public Library, May 15, 2008. The podcast is long (90 minutes) but well worth the time. The importance of tech training and setting learning competencies regarding technology for library staff is discussed. Sarah then discusses how to set good competencies, how to plan effective training, how to measure staff performance, how to reward staff who complete the training, and what to do when staff fail to meet the competencices. Sarah kept mentioning about going to the next slide, but since it was a podcast, there were no visuals. This worried me at first, thinking I might miss something important. I'm a highly visual learner, and rely alot on slides, but the information was explained so well that I felt I got what I needed without the slides.

I found this podcast through the Educational Podcast Directory. I searched under "Information Skills" and then clicked on the OPAL link. I found several other potentially interesting podcasts, so decided to subscribe to the OPAL podcast RSS feed.

I tried searching other podcast directories, including podcast.com, podcastalley, and Yahoo Podcasts. I wasn't able to access podcast.net. I liked podcast.com for its easy browsing ability. When searching the term "library", it generated 759 hits. I found podcastalley to not be as good for browsing. You can browse by genre (broad subject areas) but not by subcategories. Also, the results page often fails to show the entire title if its a longer one. You have to click on the down arrow to get the summary for each result. Searching "library" yielded only 147 results. Yahoo Podcasts was the most difficult for me to use. Search is by keyword only and when I searched for "library", most of the results were under emusic.

Overall, the directory I found easiest to use was the Education Podcast Directory, with podcast.com coming in second. The Education Podcast Directory had an Information Skills category, making browsing for librarianship related blogs easy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thing 18 - You Tube & Other Online Videos

Of the web 2.0 tools I explored so far, online video is one of the most enjoyable. I had alot of fun viewing various videos on YouTube and once I started, it was hard to stop. I especially enjoyed the commercials from the 1970s and the Library Dominoes one, which uses books as dominoes. Clever! I was also glad to see the tour of the Darrel W. Krueger Library at Winona State University. I attended Winona State U as an undergraduate. Unfortunately, I graduated shortly before the Darrel W. Krueger library was built. I remember that the library at the time was not very high quality. A few years ago, when passing through Winona, I visited the University again and saw the new library, which was really nice.

One video I discovered through YouTube is Your Life Work: The Librarian. This is a video filmed at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) in 1946.

I chose this video because its fun to compare librarianship today with the past. The video shows that some things about librarianship don't change much, while some things are very different now than they were back then. For example, it is mentioned in the video that you need to enjoy working with all different kinds of people, which is definitely true today. Also, the sample reference transaction shown, where a young man is looking for a specific book but doesn't know the author or title. He does remember that its about television and its blue. Such instances occur all the time in libraries today. The video seems to emphasize the books aspect of libraries without mentioning very much about other resources the library provides. In the past, libraries probably were mostly about books. Today, we know that is not true. In addition to books, libraries provide videos, music CDs, computers, and programming. Of course technology such as videos, CDs, and computers did not exist back then. Another reason why I chose this video was so that one could see how things were done without technology like computers. For example, stamping book cards when checking out items. There was also a bit of humor in this video as well.

Another video I enjoyed was Common Misconceptions About the Eden Prairie Library.

I enjoyed this video for the humor and because it features a local library I'm familiar with.

For this thing, I also compared the features on various video sharing sites. YouTube has several features that I like. You can add videos to your favorites, rate videos, view video statistics (# of views, length, how long ago it was added, and average rating), create a quicklist of videos for later viewing, subscribe to channels in areas of interest. I also liked some of the search features in advanced search. You can sort videos by relevance or rating, limit by duration or date it was uploaded, and filter out videos that may have content not suitable for minors. One thing I did find frustrating was that when I tried to add a video to my favorites, it wanted me to verify my email address even though I was already logged in. It took me awhile to fix this problem. The picture quality was poor on some of the videos. Also, YouTube does not allow you to edit videos.

I also explored Google Video and Yahoo Videos. Google Video allows you to view the most blogged and the most shared videos. You can also limit your search to video duration, close captioned, or by domain. You can also filter out videos with adult content. I didn't see anything similar to "channels" or feature that allows you to favorite videos. Yahoo Videos has a browse by categories feature and has networks (similar to channels in YouTube). You can favorite videos. Overall, Yahoo Videos didn't appear to have as many features as YouTube and I found it more frustrating to use. To get the overall rating of the video, you must click on it. I didn't find any advanced search options, just basic keyword. Searching also seems to give less hits, probably because less people use it.

Some libraries ban video sharing sites such as YouTube due to the high bandwidth requirements. This is unfortunate because these sites potentially have many uses for libraries. Libraries can use sites such as YouTube to post video tours of the library, post videos of special programs, use it for instructional purposes, or even for humorous purposes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thing 17 - ELM Productivity Tools

I have been using the various databases provided by ELM regularly in my work but in Thing 17, I found some new ways to use them. These include setting up search alerts and webpages and making notes on a section of book in Net Library. These tools will help me be more effective and efficient in my work. It will be easier to keep current on research and keep track of what information is most useful.

These ELM productivity tools can also facilitate collaboration with colleagues. For example, NetLibrary can be used to post notes on a selected ebook, which can be shared with others. EBSCO and ProQuest allows one to create a webpage on a topic of interest. This webpage can be emailed to colleagues.

These tools also benefit patrons in several ways. NetLibrary allows patrons to search for and read e-books. This can be advantageous when a patron doesn't want to wait to get a bound copy of the book or doesn't want to pay money for a book. The webpage feature in EBSCO, can be used to create search guides on various topics. These search guides can be given to patrons. Patrons can also be encouraged to set up search alerts when using ELM databases, to make their research easier.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thing 16 - Student 2.0 Tools

I work in a public library but occasionally, I will get students who need assistance in writing a research paper. Tools such as the University of Minnesota Assignment Calculator and the Research Project Calculator can provide assistance to such students. These tools provide tips and web links for all parts of the research process from understanding the assignment to writing the final draft. You can enter the start date and the end date for an assignment and the subject area and a recommended timetable for the assignment will be generated. You can even receive email reminders for deadlines of the various parts of the assignment. The Research Project Calculator also provides tips for slide and video presentations in addition to essays.

I used to be a teacher and I wish I knew about these tools at the time. I think introducing students to these tools would have made me more effective as a teacher. Many of my students were overwhelmed with the idea of doing research and these tools clearly lay out the process step-by-step and give excellent suggestions. The Research Project Calculator also has a Teachers Guide, something I would have loved at the time I taught. The teachers guide mentions that teachers should play the role of an information literacy coach when assisting students with research.

Libraries can link the U of M Assignment Calculator and the Research Project Calculator to their webpages and show the links to students who seek assistance in research. Librarians themselves may find the websites personally useful if they are doing their own research and are publishing papers or giving presentations. The Teachers Guide on the Research Project Calculator website provides numerous handouts, many of which would could be used as library handouts. Examples include the student research planning guide, identifying a unique angle on your topic, interviewing tip sheet, boolean basics, improving your Google search, evaluating websites, and copyright and fair use.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thing 15 - Online Games and Libraries

For this thing, I explored both Puzzle Pirates and Second Life. I have to admit I found Puzzle Pirates a bit frustrating. I attempted to download the software so I could try out the games but I kept getting this error message that says they couldn't verify digital signature. I used the help menu to try and figure out what this meant but couldn't find it on there, so I gave up. Apparently, there are various roles in Puzzle Pirates such as bilging, carpentry, or sailing, but I couldn't find information on these individual roles either.

I had better luck with Second Life but found the interface rather overwhelming. To me it looked like it would take too much time to learn to make it worthwhile. So I didn't bother with setting up on account. I do know that libraries are increasingly using Second Life in various capacities. Kelly Czamecki, in her Teen Second Life Presentation lists reference, book discussions, art exhibits, displays, memorials, author visits, and trainings as examples. Its interesting to see how libraries are using this but to me it seems like these could all be accomplished more efficiently via other web 2.0 tools.

Also, various libraries are now providing workshops on teaching computer users how to use Second Life, particularly teens. Part of Second Life's appeal, I think, is that users can create various things and share them with other users, such as avatars.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thing 14 - Library Thing

I already had a Library Thing account, but revisted the site to explore more of its features and catalog additional books. Some of the neat features include viewing books on a virtual shelf (seeing the covers of the books in your library), finding out how many books you share with other users, list of authors who use Library Thing, the list of highest and lowest rated authors, lists of users with the most books cataloged and the most reviews, and the option of adding a Library Thing widget to you blog which I did. As of August 3, 2008, there are almost 30 million books cataloged on Library Thing!

I was pleased to find Library Thing groups for MLA and for librarians. There wasn't much happening (yet) with the MLA group but I joined anyway. I also joined the librarians group and bookmarked the page via my del.icio.us account, so I can go back and read the group's message board.

Right now, I primarily use Library Thing for my personal use- to track down favorite books I have read. In the future, I would like to apply this more to a library setting. For example, Library Thing can assist with Reader's Advisory. A patron can set up a Library Thing account, catalog some books and get a list of recommendations. Also, users can search Library Thing via tags, to find books pertaining to a certain area of interest. Smaller libraries can use Library Thing to catalog their entire book collection. Library Thing can also be used to share booklists with patrons. Books of a similar genre, can be tagged similarly. Or separate Library Thing Accounts could be developed for separate booklists. Library Thing could serve as an alternative to posting booklists on the library's website or printed versions of booklists.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thing 13 - Online Productivity Tools

For the online start page, I chose iGoogle since I frequently use Google already for searching and email. Some of the options for material appealed to me such as the local weather, the National Geographic photo of the day, and the joke of the day. I enjoyed experimenting with iGoogle but I don't plan on making it my permanent home page. Right now I have my homepage set up to the Hennepin County Library's staff intranet, that's the page I access the most often. However, I will frequently visit my iGoogle page.

The online productivity tools I found to be most useful to me personally, include the iGoogle start page, Zamzar, and TinyURL. Zamzar is great for converting files from one format to another. Sometimes patrons will come into the library and are unable to open a file because the library's computers don't have the software needed to open it. With Zamzar, the file can be converted to a format that is compatible with the library computer's software allowing for file access. TinyURL is a great tool for shortening long URLs. Just enter the long URL, and a much shorter one is created that will take you to the same website.

I also experimented with the online calendars, to do lists such as Remember the Milk, and Backpack. To me these seem like too much work to log into the website and enter the information. I find a daily planner and paper and post-it notes to be efficient enough for me. One thing I do like about these types of tools though is the option to receive an email reminder when an important appointment is near.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thing 12 - Do You Digg?

For thing 12, I read about and experimented with various social media websites where users can vote for the best and most relevant news articles. I explored Digg, Reddit, Newsvine, and Mixx. All four of these sites allow you to select news articles to read by category and comment on them. Each of these sites prominently displays the most popular news items on its home page.

Each social media website has its own unique features. Digg also allows you to rate videos, images, and podcasts. You can see what your friends are "Digging", create your own Digg profile, and view the top articles by subject area. With Reddit, you can view the most controversial articles, add a Reddit bookmarklet to your toolbar and add Reddit buttons to your website. Newsvine's special features include the ability to select local news articles, subscribe to Newsvine RSS feeds, and set up your own column for writing articles that others can rate. Finally, Mixx allows one to rate photos and videos, read local news articles, add a Mixx bookmarklet to the toolbar, and join Mixx communities.

A related website, StumbleUpon, allows one to discover new websites based on personal interests. The concept sounded cool so I registered for an account. I was bummed to find that I had to download a StumbleUpon toolbar to use the site. I decided not to do this because my toolbar is cluttered enough already and I didn't want to add yet another thing that might slow down my computer.

Social media websites such as Digg can be applied to libraries. For example, articles that receive alot of Diggs (are very popular) may spawn more reference questions and requests related to the article. Libraries can link some of the most popular and relevant articles on their blogs. Librarians who specialize in a certain area can customize their account to read and rate articles related to their specialty.

Are websites such as Digg a productivity enhancer or a waste of time? I say it its both. On one hand, such websites filter out the lower quality and less relevant articles. On the other hand, anyone can vote on articles and the voting can be highly subjective. The general public might have a different opinion than an expert in the field would. Some potentially good articles may not make it to the main page; others may be popular because of their entertainment factor but may not be good sources for serious research. Overall though, I trust the opinion of the general public to choose what's worth keeping. I had fun reading some of the popular news articles and started to lose track of time. In this sense, sites such as Digg can be a time waster. For this reason, I prefer to get my news through RSS feeds.

When I have time to kill though, I do enjoy browsing through Digg articles. I set up a Digg account and had fun voting on articles and finding things of interest to me. For some weird reason I was unable to "Digg" articles in my MSN browser even though I was logged in. When I switched to Firefox, it worked fine.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thing 11 - Tagging and Del.icio.us

Of all of the web 2.0 tools I've learned about so far, del.icio.us has the most use for me personally. I have been using del.icio.us for about 8 months now and find it to be an excellent tool. Right now, I use it for mostly personal use- to access my bookmarks from any computer and tag my bookmarks to make my favorite websites easier to find. I also use it to find other websites on areas of interest to me and to see how others tagged the websites I favorited. Sometimes this gives me ideas to improve my own tags. Here is a link to my del.icio.us bookmarks.

Del.icio.us can also be used for research assistance. Someone doing Internet research on a topic could search certain tags to see what websites are out there. One caveat is that anyone can create a del.icio.us account and post websites, so the websites may not necessarily be the most credible ones and the tags may not always accurately reflect the content of the website.

Libraries can use social bookmarking sites such as del.icio.us to post library related news, useful weblinks on various subjects for patrons, and information about the local community (e.g. places to see, places to eat, etc.)

As a challenge, I also explored other social bookmarking sites, Furl and Pagekeeper. Furl has similar features to del.icio.us With both sites, you can search by tags, find out how many people tagged a particular website (Furl calls this number of members), add comments to tagged websites, join groups, and read their blog. Unlike del.icio.us, Furl allows you to choose from three different views: titles only, summaries, and tabular. Titles only view only shows the name of the website and its URL. Summary view shows the website name, URL, date posted, number of members, number of discussion entries (comments), and tags. The tabular view shows everything the summary view shows (except for discussion) in a table format. Apparently, Furl has yet to catch on with the general public, since the number of people favoriting a website and the number of groups is much less than del.icio.us

Pagekeeper allows one to search for websites by username, grade, or subject. I looked at a sample pagekeeper page and the links are all sorted by topic. The organization was hierarchical- there were no tags listed by each website. But for a student finding information on a specific topic, this type of organization probably works better. Unlike del.icio.us and Furl, the number of people bookmarking a website was not indicated.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Thing 10 - Wikis

One thing I learned about wikis is that they are an alternative to meeting in person for soliciting input from everyone in a group. Prior to this, I didn't think of wikis as being useful in this sense. With our busy schedules, it can be difficult to schedule a time for everyone in the group to meet.

I was surprised to find that wikis have been around since the mid 1990s. At that time, most people weren't even on the Internet! I didn't even hear about wikis until 2003, the year I discovered Wikipedia.

I think Wikipedia is excellent as a starting point for research. For someone who just wants a basic overview or something written in "layman's terms", Wikipedia works well. Since anyone can post and edit articles on Wikipedia, the information on there may not always be accurate. Many Wikipedia articles do cite reputable sources and provide links to them. If I was a teacher assigning a research project, I would require that my students cite reference sources besides Wikipedia. I would tell them that Wikipedia is fine as a starting source for gathering information and strongly encourage them to explore the cited references from Wikipedia articles.

Libraries can use wikis to post pathfinders/subject guides, where librarians can easy add and update links. It would be nice if my library system did this. Some libraries allow patrons to add links too. I'm wary of allowing patrons to add links because they may not have the training to critically evaluate online sources.

Wikis can also be used in libraries for posting book reviews, information about conferences (e.g. ALA), and for updating policies/procedures. The Blogging Libraries wiki collects links to library blogs. I think this is an excellent example of how a wiki can be used.

I didn't do the challenge of setting up my own wiki as I don't see the need right now. For fun, I also edited the 23 Things on a Stick wiki, which was easy to do.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Thing 9 - Online Collaboration Tools

I experimented with both Zoho Writer and Google Docs by editing the Declaration of Independence document. I also created Zoho and Google Docs accounts.

Both tools seemed easy to use and similar to MS Word. Even the buttons on the toolbar looked just like those in Word. The layout was slightly different in both. There were many more buttons on the toolbar in Zoho Writer. In Google Docs, some of these buttons were replaced with drop-down menus (very similar in layout to MS Word). I liked having all the buttons at my disposal in Zoho Writer and not having to rely on the drop down menus as much.

Overall, Zoho Writer had more tools than Google Docs. For example, Zoho had things like an anchor button (don't know what this would be used for), buttons for inserting emoticons, an opportunity to add tags, and an equation editor. For creating a basic document, either tool seems appropriate to use. Security can be an issue with both of these tools. As long no one can access your username and password, your documents are secure. However, if some hacker gets a hold of your log in information, then all hell breaks loose.

I think the Founding Fathers would be impressed with the functionality of these tools. However, I don't think they would be too happy with our heavy editing of the original Declaration of Independence. They would probably think we were too critical and nitpicky. :-)

As a challenge, I created a spreadsheet using Zoho Sheet. I am looking for an additional bookcase (being the bookwormishnerd I am) and wanted to create a spreadsheet comparing different ones I'm considering. Here it is.

Online collaboration tools such as Zoho's products and Google Docs can easily be used in a library setting. For example, documents describing library policies can easily be shared and edited by library staff. Zoho Sheet could be used for creating and sharing spreadsheets comparing different libraries within a library system and creating a list of books to purchase or weed out. Zoho Show can be used for sharing slideshows of presentations. Finally, Zoho meeting can be used for web conferences. The advantage of this is participants don't have to download or install any new software.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Thing 8 - Share Your Creations

Slide presentations can easily be uploaded to the web and viewable to the public, much like photos are. I explored three different slide sharing programs: Thumbstacks, Zoho Show, and Slideshare. All three of these tools were very easy to use and navigate. Both Thumbstacks and Zoho Show allow you to create slideshows right in the web browser. I would recommend Zoho Show instead of Thumbstacks for creating slide shows because it has a lot more features and it is very similar to what's available on Power Point. Thumbstacks does just the basics- it doesn't do slide transitions, animations, sounds, video, or drawing tools. If you just want the very basics, Thumbstacks works fine. What's nice about these slide creation sites is that they are free of charge to create and share slideshows. If you don't have Power Point installed on your computer and don't want to pay the fee or are working on a computer (e.g. in a library) that doesn't have Power Point installed, these slide creation sites are a great alternative. A third site, Slideshare, does not allow for creation of slides right in the browser, but you can upload an already made slideshow here. Slideshare works really well for sharing presentations, for creating webinars, and you can upload slideshows without having to create an account.

Libraries can use slidesharing programs to make their workshop presentations available to the public. Patrons and employees who want to attend library workshops but have trouble fitting it into their schedules, can view the slide presentations online, in their own time. Links to the slide presentations can be posted right on the library's webpage, allowing for easy retrieval.

Here is my slideshow I made if you are interested in viewing it. This is a slideshow from January 2007 that I used from my Introductory Chemistry course back when I was still teaching chemistry.

Photo sharing sites such as Picture Trail and Big Huge Labs are great for adding pizazz and fun to your photos. Both websites are easy to use and potentially addictive. With Picture Trail, some of the things that can be done include: viewing pictures in slideshow mode, adding music to your photo albums, sending digital postcards, and selecting from multiple types of picture layouts. With Bighugelabs.com, there are even more options. Creating motivational posters, custom jigsaw puzzles, photo mosaics, photocubes, and CD covers, just to name a few. Libraries can use the features on these two websites to add creativity to the photos used in making fliers or brochures and to add pizazz to pictures already up on Flickr.

Here is a mosaic I made using bighugelabs.com consisting of seashell photos that I favorited using Flickr.

I explored, Lazybase, a database creation site. This site allows you to create a database that you can share with others. What's nice about it is that it does not require that you create an account to use it. When you create a new database, you are given two URLs. One is a secret URL for editing; another is a URL for sharing with others. Lazybase, can be an alternative for those who do not have spreadsheet or database programs installed on their computers. I found lazybase rather frustrating to navigate and use. It took me awhile to figure out how to add new rows of data and edit information. There were a couple of things I found frustrating. The name field was required, there was no way to delete it, even though my database does not involve use of anyone's name. Also, I had a notes field but I was severly limited as to the number of characters I could type in it. I couldn't figure out how to reorder columns or change the column width. I am hoping there are other database creation programs that are easier to use or websites that allow for uploading and sharing of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or MS Access databases.

Libraries use databases for tracking down patron data. Another possible use is to track reference questions, similar to the database I created.

Librarians who want to track their professional development, can set up an electronic portfolio at www.efolio.com Job searchers can also use this site to post their work experience and professional development information. Recent MLS graduates searching for their first librarian position or current librarians seeking promotion or a different library specialty could potentially find this site useful. The site looks easy to use and navigate but I didn't create an account because I didn't want to give out my personal information.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thing 7 - Web 2.0 Communication Tools

Hennepin County Library uses email to inform patrons when they have a hold ready to be picked up or to inform them that they have materials due soon (or already overdue). Hennepin County Library also uses email as a means of communication to employees. Emails are sent informing us of key news, events, and policy changes. Every week, a Weekly Reader is sent to all library employees, listing the most important things that library employees should be aware of. I like this because we can get all of the important information in one go. For me, email has increased productivity. It is alot quicker to rely on email to know when I have holds to pick up or materials due soon than to have to log into my library account. Also, I use it, when I need to communicate with a coworker and its not feasible for me to meet with them in person.

I think Instant Messaging (IM) combines the advantages of phone and email. Like the telephone, with IM, you are interacting with the patron in real time. You can clarify things and do a reference interview right on the spot. With email, this may require several exchanges of messages before the patron's needs are satisfied. Unlike the phone, with IM, you don't have to worry about long distance costs, or the embarassment of having to ask someone speaking with a muffled sounding voice or a strong accent to repeat themselves.

I don't know any librarians who use text messaging as a means of providing reference services, but I imagine this will change in the future. I think text messaging would provide similar advantages that email reference would provide. An additional advantage is that a computer would not be needed for communication. A disadvantage is that the cell phone screen is small, so text messages might be more difficult to read. Also, the typical 160 character limit may pose a problem for more complex reference questions. Unless there is Enhanced Message Service (EMS), one cannot send pictures or media files, which may be needed at times to help answer a question. I was also excited to find that a future version of Millenium circulation system may send hold pickup and overdue notices via text messaging.

Videoconfering is already being used by many libraries as a means of providing instruction remotely online. The main advantage is that communication can be done over long distances, to several people at once. The disadvantages are lack of in-person interaction and potential problems with the videoconferencing software. Videoconferencing is being used to offer many free webinars of use to librarians, which can help us in our professional development.

*I use email constantly and check it obsessively. I can't imagine life without email.
*I only use IM once in a great while. I tend to prefer email. I sometimes find IM'ing an intrusion- someone sends me an IM, and I don't feel like interacting with them just then. It's like an unwanted phone call. Sometimes its better than the phone because its easier to multitask with IM.
*I have yet to get on the text messaging bandwagon. When I tried texting, I found it very slow to type in the message. When I receive text messages, I have to scroll down alot because of the small screen on the cell phone. Also the 160 character limit makes it difficult for someone wordy like myself. And it costs extra with my cell phone plan. I do like the privacy of it though. I can text someone in public and not worry about someone listening in on my conversation. I was also surprised to find that the United States was later to adopt text messaging than much of Europe, Asia, or Austrailia.
*I haven't done much with web conferencing but I have participated in a couple of webinars and plan to attend one from OPAL. It was easier to download and setup the required software than I thought it would be.

I attended the webinar on descriptive audio on June 25th from the OPAL site. Overall, I thought the webinar was very well done. The instructor was very knowledgeable about the topic and there were power point slides along with the audio. The web conferencing software was very easy to download and I had no problems logging in or using the software. The only drawback was sometimes the sound would stop for a couple seconds at random times then start up again.

1) I went and subscribed to the following Google groups: Google Librarians Newsletter, Friends of Google, and 23 Things on a Stick Google Group. I use Google on a daily basis but don't know all the ins and outs of it. I hope to get some good Google tips here.

2) I've heard that some libraries are using Meebo in conjunction with IM reference. I decided to set up a Meebo account and explore its interface. I found it to be pretty user friendly.

3) I also explored Twitter and set up an account. I don't think I'll ever use it but I had to see what the hype is about. Some libraries are already using Twitter for the purpose of posting events or marketing items. I also discovered 12 Seconds, which has a concept similar to Twitter, except with videos. You show in a 12 second video what you are doing right now.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thing 6- Online Image Generators

Here is a license plate I used creating Image Chef:

And here is a motivational poster I created using bighugelabs.com

Image generators are alot of fun to play with. Some uses for libraries include novelty motivational posters, such as READ posters featuring pictures of librarians. I think some libraries are already doing this.

Librarian trading cards could be used as a fun alternative to business cards.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thing 5- More Flickr Fun

I had fun exploring the various Flickr mashups. My favorites included the color pickr, the retrievr, and spell with flickr. Here is the word book, spelled with flickr photos:

The flickr color pickr and speller can be used to make posters and fliers for libraries. A fun with flickr photos workshop could be added to the library programming.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thing 4- Photosharing with Flickr

The Flickr photo I chose to blog about is shown here.

I chose this particular photo because I liked the shapes and the color scheme- I found it very eye catching.

I clicked on the username for this photo: bugsandfishes and found other colorful photos I liked. I was also able to find the users who favorited the photo and when. When clicking on the photo, I noticed that some people selected a particular area and made notes. For example, people commented on how they liked a particular circle. This is a feature of Flickr I wasn't aware of until now. Tags for this photo include: crafting, 365, textile, art, panel, picture, circles, abstract, dots, spots, colour, colourful, rainbow, felt, embroidered, work in progress, handmade, handstitched, handsewn, geometric, and applique. I was also surprised that I could find out what kind of camera was used to take the photo (a Nikon E7600). I also did part of the challenge exercise, where I posted photos to Flickr and edited them using Picnik. The advantage of Picnik is its ease of use and its quick. However, picnik just has the very basic features. I also checked out Smugmug and what appealed to me about it is that it's ad free.

Here are my thoughts on the following:
How might you use Flickr in a library or media center?
*Share pictures of events in the library
*Share photos as a way of providing a virtual tour of the library
*Share pictures of key library staff (with their consent)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thing 3- Learn About RSS

I have been using RSS and newsreaders for about 6 months now. I really like getting the information from my favorite blogs and newssites in one place. Its very time saving! Several of the RSS feeds I subscribe to are library related, which makes it easier to keep up in my field. I primarily use bloglines as my RSS reader but also decided to experiment with Google Reader. Some of the RSS feeds I recommend for learning more about Web 2.0 and how it impacts libraries includes Tame the Web at http://feeds.feedburner.com/TameTheWeb and Information Wants to Be Free at http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/wp-rss2.php

I also recommend subscribing to LIS news at http://www.lisnews.org/syndication

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thing 2- What is Library 2.0?

Web 2.0 is an up-and-coming thing in libraries. All the time I see articles about web 2.0 and how it is being applied to libraries and other settings. I don't want to be out of the loop. Besides, it looks good on a resume (I’m a substitute librarian, seeking a full-time librarian job).

How to apply what I've learned at the library. How to convince librarians out of the loop the importance of web 2.0 in libraries. Any anticipated web 2.0 future trends that I am not yet aware of but I should be.

During slow periods at the reference desk, when I can't leave the desk and am looking for something productive to do. My goal is to spend at least 30 minutes a day until I complete all 23 things.

It has increased my efficiency in almost everything: finding information for patrons, directions to places, email as a means of communication, downloading music instead of going to the store to buy songs to list just a few.

I consider myself at an intermediate level with respect to web 2.0. I already use some web 2.0 tools. I use del.icio.us to store and share my bookmarks, I participate in a wiki that discusses library 2.0 issues, I view videos on YouTube, and I subscribe to numerous blogs and news postings via RSS feeds. However, I am still in the dark about several things that are all the rage now such as Twitter and Second Life. I am familiar with podcasts and downloading them but I don't know how to create one.

I currently work for Hennepin County Library which already incorporates several web 2.0 tools. Book Space allows users to create a profile and personalized reading lists. Various blogs are used on the library's website and their staff Intranet, also HCL has a my space account.

To sum it up, I think John Blyberg says it best in the following quote from his blog post:

“Library 2.0 simply means making your library’s space (virtual and physical) more interactive, collaborative, and driven by community needs. Examples of where to start include blogs, gaming nights for teens, and collaborative photo sites. The basic drive is to get people back into the library by making the library relevant to what they want and need in their daily lives…to make the library a destination and not an afterthought.”

Thing 1- Set Up Your Blog

Well, here it is, my blog. I was pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to set up a blog. I had fun creating my avatar and managed to find an ever appropriate library background for the picture. I also experimented with the text color and with the font style and the font size.
I look forward to this program and the next things that are coming up.