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Minnesota, United States

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.