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Minnesota, United States

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thing 37- Photo Tales

Many libraries are using photo sharing sites such as Flickr to post photos of the library and events. Libraries can use photo mashups to improve the quality of the photos or make them more eye catching. Some of the mashups are strictly for fun and libraries can use these to make creative posters and fliers.

For this thing, I explored various photo tools and mashups and had a great of fun doing so.

I used Animoto to create an animated slide show with music using some of my vacation photos to Duluth and the North Shore.

Next stop was Collagr which creates a collage using your Flickr photos. Here's my collage using my vacation photos.

I then tried out CaptionBubble, which adds captions to your photos. Here's one I created:

Create your own caption


I used the Image Mosaic Generator to make a mosaic of smaller pictures using my avatar. Unfortunately, I can't get the picture to upload on here or Flickr, probably because the file is too big.

I played around with some of the tools on Picnik. Here is the "heat map" version of my avatar:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thing 36- Comic Relief: Generate Some Fun

I found the password generators to be particularly useful for those who need a highly secure password or need passwords that meet certain requirements (e.g. At least 8 characters, at least one capital letter, both letters and numbers, etc.) In my job, the passwords I use to login to the staff computers, my work email, and my paystubs all have to meet strict security requirements.

The Free Password Generator generates strong, secure passwords and you can specify which requirements your password must meet.

Hashapass is a great site for generating highly secure passwords using a master password and a parameter. As long as you use the same master password and parameter, the same secure password will always be generated. Pretty neat.

PDFOnline will generate a PDF file from a different file format. I have received questions from patrons asking how to get a PDF from another file format, so sites like these are good to know about.

Citation Generators such as Son of Citation Machine and EasyBib are immensely useful for students working on papers. Enter information about the source, and a citation is automatically generated. The latter one appears to be more reliable and powerful (works for over 50 types of sources) but it charges for $8.99 per year for APA and Chicago/Turabian styles. MLA is free for some reason. Still, I think the charge would be well worth it for students who write alot of papers. It certainly saves the time and anxiety of trying to get the citation just right. I remember being a student and hating the citation part of writing papers with a passion.

I used to teach chemistry in community college and I wished I had been aware of Classtools, where you can generate educational games, activities, and diagrams. These can then be posted to your website or blog. Best of all, there is no signup required and its free! I also wish I knew about websites for generating free graph paper, since my students frequently had to make graphs for lab reports. As an instructor, I used the Random Integer Generator to help me in constructing the answer key for multiple choice exams. I wanted to assure that I wasn't biased towards the one particular answer option (first, second, third, or fourth).

For this thing, I also explored and tried out some comic strip generators. I searched for library related comics on ToonDoo and found a couple that I liked:

\Toon\



\Toon\



Other sources for funny library comics include Unshelved and Shelf Check. Both have RSS feeds you can subscribe to. The latter blog is by the same creator of the first comic.

I also used Make Beliefs to generate my own comic. Although its geared more for kids, I liked the simple, easy to use interface. I found some of the comic strip generators difficult and confusing to use. Here is the comic I created. I realize its blurry but if you click on it, you should be able to read it.




I used the ImageGenerator to generate this Windows pop up icon:


I also had fun with the Windows Error Message Generator.

In conclusion, I love generators and what they can do. I subscribed to the RSS feed Generator Blog and added it to my bookmarks.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Convert your name to a Dewey Decimal #




Laura Miller's Dewey Decimal Section:

004 Data processing & computer science

Laura Miller = 21181392258 = 211+813+922+58 = 2004


Class:
000 Computer Science, Information & General Works


Contains:
Encyclopedias, magazines, journals and books with quotations.



What it says about you:
You are very informative and up to date. You're working on living in the here and now, not the past. You go through a lot of changes. When you make a decision you can be very sure of yourself, maybe even stubborn, but your friends appreciate your honesty and resolve.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com

Use Wordle to create beautiful tag clouds

Here's a tag cloud of my recent blog posts, using With Wordle, you can edit the font, color, and the orientation of the words. It's lots of fun!

Wordle: Bookwormishnerd's blog

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Library Technology Conference- What I Learned, Part 2

In this post, I will discuss what I've learned from the following three workshops I attended at the Library Technology Conference at Macalester College.

*Stuck in the Social Web
*AskMN
*Hi-Tech Toys


STUCK IN THE SOCIAL WEB

This workshop discussed the use of social tools such as blogs, wikis, social networks, instant messaging, and social bookmarking and how these tools can be implemented in libraries. Before using these tools in a library, the following should be considered:
*What kind of a web connection is needed?
*What are the financial costs?
*Who will be responsible for maintenance of these tool(s)?
*What is a reasonable time period for a trial of the tool(s)?
*What will be evidence of success for use of these tool(s)?

For blogs, the start-up time is generally moderate and ideally should be maintained weekly. Applications for libraries include posting of news and events and book reviews and marketing the library. Samples of good and not so good blog layouts were shown and differences between blog providers such as Blogger, WordPress, and EduBlogs was discussed.

Wikis generally have a longer start-up time than blogs and also should be maintained weekly. Wikis can be used in libraries for task force/committee work and also for conference planning. Sites such as WikiMatrix.org compare the differences between various wiki hosting sites.

Social networking sites have a minimal to moderate start up time and should be maintained daily. Applications for libraries include virtual reference (the presenter uses Facebook's chat feature to hold virtual office hours), low cost marketing/publicity, share common interests with patrons/colleagues, task force/committee work, and professional networking. One of the most popular social networking sites, Facebook, has a Library Applications for Facebook group which I joined. Facebook also has a Visual Bookshelf application, where you can post books you've read, want to read, and enjoyed. Way cool!

Instant messaging has a minimal start-up time and should be maintained daily. Applications for libraries include advising students, collaboration/networking with patrons/colleagues, virtual reference, and holding office hours. Meebo is recommended for IM as it integrates all of your IM accounts with just one single login.

Finally, social bookmarking has a minimal start-up time and should be maintained monthly. Applications for libraries include posting recurring assignment and research links, posting lists of databases, and posting topic guides. Several libraries are using social bookmarking sites such as Delicious for these purposes.


ASK MN

Ask MN is an online service available for Minnesota residents and students 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Benefits include reaching distant learners/patrons and giving patrons the opportunity to ask questions during non library hours. Over 60 librarians participate, with the typical librarian working one 60-90 minute shift per week. Off hours are handled by QuestionPoint, a 24/7 National Reference Cooperative.

Statistics taken from 3/24/08 through 2/28/09 show the following:

*2620 Academic library sessions (62%)
*1592 Public library sessions (38%)
When a question is asked, it gets assigned to the appropriate queue (academic or public). Questions assigned to the academic queue are only answered by academic librarians; likewise with the public queue.

*83% of questions are answered in a given session. The remaining 17% require some follow-up.
*The average length of a session is 17 minutes.

*Types of questions asked:
--Subject specific research (47%)
--Resources (eg. Do you own ___________ resource?) (23%)
--Circulation related (8%)
--Library information (13%)
--Technical problems (5%)
--Non-questions (eg. Testing out the service, non-library service related ?s) (4%)

*The most common time of day for questions is from 9:00am-noon but many are during non-library hours

*User feedback (4 institutions reporting, 266 responses)
--87% of participants found the librarian to be helpful
--82% were satisfied with the answer
--91% would use the service again


HI-TECH TOYS AND TOOLS

Various new hi-tech toys and tools were demonstrated and passed around. The features and benefits of the tools were explained. Much of the time was spent discussing eBook readers such as Amazon's Kindle and Sony Portable Reader System.

Features of the Kindle include:
*Built in web browser that can be accessed via a wireless connection
*Built in dictionary
*Ability to export articles from magazines/newspapers/databases to the Kindle
*Remembers where you left off in a book since you last used it
*Can highlight portions of the text and make notes on it
*Text to speech
*Text is in black and white but the Kindle application on the iPhone features color, which would be useful for reading picture books.

Sounds cool but the cost is $359 so I think I'll be waiting awhile.

Some libraries are even loaning out Kindles to patrons. I have mixed feelings about it. What if the patrons fail to return the Kindle?

Other hi-tech tools featured in the workshop include:
*Asus EEE mini PC
*Xo-1 from One Laptop per Child
*Apple iPhone
*Apple iPod Touch
*Flip Video Camera This is a small video camera with a built in flash drive so you can easily upload videos to the computer.
*Fly Fusion Pentop Computer

Library Technology Conference- What I Learned, Part 1

A few days ago, I attended the Library Technology Conference at Macalester College in St. Paul. This was my first time attending such a conference and it was great. I was only able to attend the second day but I learned a great deal.

I attended the following workshops:
1) Reading for Digital Natives
2) Library Technology Programs for Baby Boomers and Beyond
3) Stuck in the Social Web
4) AskMN
5) Hi-Tech Toys and Tools

The next two blog posts will discuss what I've learned from these workshops. I'll be discussing the first two workshops in this post, and the last three in the next.

READING FOR DIGITAL NATIVES

Apparently, digital natives have brain differences compared to digital immigrants. For instance, the visual cortex is 20% larger today than in brains measured 20 years ago. There are also differences in picture retention, with digital natives retaining 90% of pictures, digital immigrants retaining 60%, and pre-digitals retaining only 10%.

Strengths of a digital native brain include:
*Reading visual images
*3-D and spatial thinking
*Mental maps or paper folding
*Inductive discovery, hypothesis, etc.
*Multi-tasking
*Fast reaction times to expected and unexpected stimuli

Some concerns about digital natives include:
*Can they reflect?
*Can they think critically?
*Do they consider ethical issues like copyright?
*Does their health suffer? (eg. Does too much time at the computer make them sedentary and/or overweight?)
*Do they get bored frequently? Easily tuned out? There is concern that kids expect everything to be easy, fast, and fun. An interesting study on attention span was done with 5 year old Sesame Street viewers. One group played with toys while watching the show; the other did not. Although the first group watched 47% and the second group 87%, the both groups learned the same amount from the show.
*Can they function in a community? (eg. poorer eye contact due to less face-to-face interaction and more texting others)

So what is the impact of all of this on reading? Digital immigrants tend to read what they see on a computer screen, much like reading a book: left to right, then down to the left of the next row. Digital natives will start at the top left corner, then the top right, then the bottom left, then the bottom right, and finally back to the top left corner. The result is less eye movements for the digital native, so they can read and get the gist more quickly. Digital natives tend to be attracted to burnt orange, neon green, and red colors on a screen and tend to ignore black and white.

I also learned that there are differences in brain structure (confirmed by fMRI technology) between good readers and poor readers. Poorer readers may have one or more of the following: improper balance between gray and white matter, hemispherical assymetry, or underactivation or overactivation in certain areas, causing less efficiency.

Some things that can be done to improve reading include:
*Teach reading at all levels in all areas
*Teach reading strategies. One common strategy is KWL (what do I KNOW, what do I WANT to know, what have I LEARNED). Good readers will constantly predict and reflect while reading
*Be a mentor and model reading
*Let them have some choices as to what they wish to read about
*Practice, practice, practice
*Use technology when appropriate

LIBRARY TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS FOR BABY BOOMERS AND BEYOND
Some libraries are implementing Senior Surf Day, which is an opportunity for seniors to learn how to effectively search the Internet. Examples of topics a Senior Surf Day might cover include:
*Navigating between webpages
*Determining if websites are secure
*Using search engines such as Google
*Preventing, detecting, and reporting healthcare fraud
*Introducing patrons to websites potentially of interest to seniors, such as:
Medicare
Minnesota Help
Administration on Aging

The workshop also discussed ways to effectively deal with seniors in learning technology. The first thing to note is that the majority of seniors (65%) do not have Internet access. Many have zero experience with the Internet (and computers), many are not interested, and many think they are too old to learn or think its too complicated. Approaching the seniors rather than waiting for them to approach you seems to be more effective. Some seniors may be uncomfortable about seeking help even if they do want it.

The workshop presenters also recommend taking a Would-Could-Should approach. First ask them if they WOULD like to use technology? Some seniors may be rather resistant but often this is because they lack confidence or don't see how it benefits them. Second, show them that they COULD learn how. Some seniors may lack confidence in their ability to learn. Finally, explain to them why they SHOULD learn technology. Just do it in a way that doesn't sound to preachy.

Finally, I learned about Jitterbug Phones, which are senior friendly cell phones with large number buttons and a simple interface.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thing 35- Books 2.0

The role of books in libraries and elsewhere is evolving. Patrons are still primarily using the traditional bound book format but I've noticed the increasing numbers of patrons who are interested in other formats. Many patrons are too busy to read many books but like to listen to audiobooks on their way to work. I know some people who primarily digest books through this format. E-audiobooks are increasingly popular- some are compatible with MP3 players and iPODs, so you can listen to books while exercising or in the car. An increasing number of people are also willing to read books online, via a reader such as Amazon's Kindle, or even via phone. Even book clubs are going more online, with sites such as Booksprouts.

Book lovers today do not have to rely as much on librarians or printed book reviews for finding good books due to the numerous book 2.0 websites that now exist. There are websites for finding books based on your reading tastes, for locating reviews, for discussing books, and for renting or swapping books. I believe these book 2.0 tools serve to greatly enhance one's reading experience. The only downside is that there are so many great sites and not enough time.

For this thing, I explored numerous book 2.0 tools. I could spend all day on this! Some of the more interesting ones I visited include:

DailyLit Read entire books in short, customized installments which are sent via email or RSS. The downside? Some novels have several hundred installments.

Twitterlit posts the first line a book without author's name or book title. It provides a link to Amazon so readers can see what book it comes from.

BookLamp is a readers advisory site that analyzes writing styles based on the amount of pacing, density, action, description, and dialog. There aren't many books yet in the database and I've only read one of the books listed, but I think this will be very promising as more books are added.

What Should I Read Next? Enter a title or author you like and get recommendations. I found the recommendations to be quite accurate.

Literature Map Choose an author you like and it will map out similar authors. The closer the authors are on the map, the more similar. I don't think its always the most accurate but its still fun.

What's Next? and Juvenile Series and Sequels

Find the next book in a series.

BookStumpers If you are searching for a book and can't remember the title or author, this site might help. You post a stumper and others can make suggestions. It does cost $2 to post a stumper. If you don't wish to pay, consider subbing and posting to FICTION-L

Overbooked I have found this to be an excellent readers advisory site. Find starred reviews and "If you Like ________" lists. I also joined the Overbooked Ning.

BookGlutton Read books online and chat with others with a unique interface, where you can click anywhere in a book and initiate a discussion about that part.

Reading Group Choices Good site for those seeking reading guides for their book club.

Booksprouts Start your own online book club here!

Librivox Free audiobooks in the public domain

SwapTree Swap books, music, games, and movies. The site features a calculator for the postage and the ability to print out mailing labels.

BookCrossing Release a book and track its journey via the Internet.

BookSwim Rent books here, including paperbacks, hardcovers, and college textbooks. The NETFLIX answer to books. There is a monthly service fee. Bookrenter.com is another textbook rental site worth checking out.

A list of book-related applications on Facebook

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Levels of Competency

I was going through my old notes from library school which have been gathering dust. Some of the stuff is no longer useful due to changes in technology (I attended from 2003-2006) Things have changed fast since then. Even a few years ago, there wasn't much talk about all this library 2.0 stuff. Anyway, I did find some information on the levels of competency from my Management of Libraries class that I think is very pertinent to our jobs as librarians today.

According to this article, there are four levels of competency. The first level is unconsciously incompetent, where you are unaware of your lack of knowledge or skill. An example would be someone who doesn't know what a bike is. The person is unaware that he/she doesn't know how to ride a bike.

The second level is consciously incompetent, where you are aware of your skill deficit, but not have yet addressed it. For example, a kid watches someone riding a bike and wishes he/she could do that.

The third level is consciously competent, where you can perform a skill with a certain amount of concentration. For example, with effort you can ride a bike and not manage to fall down.

The fourth level is unconsciously competent, where the skill has become automatic or second nature. For example, you can ride a bike and not even have to think about it.

I've been thinking about how these levels apply to me as a librarian. So when have I been unconsciously incompetent? I can think back to the times when I've felt disappointed when I have applied and interviewed for jobs I did not get. When applying, I felt I was well qualified for the position, only to find out in the interview that I was in over my head. So prior to the interview, I was unconsciously incompetent. Another example: When I first started subbing in libraries, I was not even aware of the existence of some of the databases that could help me in answering some the more difficult reference questions and I never thought of the fact that I could even be asked some of these questions because I was unaware of the existence of such subject matter. Once I was aware that such reference questions could be asked, I became consciously incompetent.

Here's another case in point. When I started subbing I was woefully poor at reader's advisory and didn't even know about readers advisory websites or databases such as Novelist. I never took a reader's advisory course in library school and never received formal training on this. When asked a readers advisory question about a genre I wasn't familiar with, I just stood there helpless, all too aware of my incompetence.

I now consider myself to be at the consciously competent level with most readers advisory and reference questions, even if I am unfamiliar with the genre or subject area. I am aware of and can navigate through the key websites and databases that can help in answering such questions. It takes a good deal of effort at times but I can usually come up with something that's helpful for the patron.

Storytimes are another thing I can pull off successfully with some effort. I don't do enough storytimes for it to be second nature (I only do them occasionally when subbing for a youth services librarian).

Some areas that formerly required effort are now second nature to me and they are at the unconsciously competent level. Most of the ready-reference questions, placing holds, shelving materials, searching the library's catalog, and providing basic computer assistance would all fall into this category. Actually, there can be a drawback to being unconsciously competent. Sometimes, I'll know these tasks so well that I can forget that the patron is not at the same level I am. For instance, I'll quickly search the catalog and the patron is puzzled as to how I found what I did.

So how do these 4 levels of competence play out in your job?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thing 34- Is This Our Competition? Online Answer Sites

The appeal of online answer sites, I think, is being able to get an answer quickly, possibly from several people, all without having to leave your home. Are the answers credible? It depends. Some of the online answer sites such as Yahoo! Answers and WikiAnswers, anyone can post a reply to. Therefore, the credibility of some of the replies is questionable.

Allexperts claims to have experts answering all questions. To answer questions in a given area, you must apply to be an expert. It doesn't appear to too difficult to be an expert, basically you have to demonstrate at least some expertise and be able to follow basic spelling and grammar. Still, I like that there is some level of restriction as to who can reply to what questions. Therefore, I would trust an answer on this site more than Yahoo! Answers or WikiAnswers.

Another site I like is Snappy Fingers. This isn't so much an answer site as it is a search engine for FAQs on a given topic.

The types of questions I've seen on online answer sites widely vary, here are some examples:

*Practical, how-to questions such as "How do I unclog a slow shower drain?" This type of question could be directed to a library but is also appropriate for an answer site where people with the appropriate expertise can answer.

*Questions that based on opinion rather than fact. Some of these are really just a form of polling. They are not appropriate for libraries. For example: "Do you refuse to use port-a-potties?" Some of these questions can stir controversy, eg. "Adoption not abortion?" and should be proceeded with caution.

*Really technical types of questions. These are probably best directed to libraries rather than online answer sites. Ask a Librarian is an online reference service provided by the Library of Congress, which can be useful for the really technical or specialized questions. In the case of medical or legal types of questions, these need to be referred to a doctor or lawyer as the librarian is not properly trained to give advice in these areas.

*Questions such as "How do I STOP from being negative all the time?" can be directed at the librarians, but the librarian can only do so much. The librarian is not a therapist. What the librarian can do is direct the patron towards appropriate self-help resources.

In general, I think it is preferable to use the library in obtaining accurate information rather than relying on online answer sites. If a patron has trouble getting to the library, there are good online resources out there, such as the ones mentioned here. I do think that some people rely on online answer sites because they may not be aware of some of the more credible websites and don't want to or can't get to the library.

I haven't had the time to answer any of the questions posted on the online answer sites. I did explore the concept of Slam the Boards. On the 10th day of every month, librarians visit online answer sites and answer questions using credible sources of information. They also say that they are a librarian and try to promote the value of the library. I don't think I'll have the time to participate in the next one, but I think the idea is a good one. I also explored the Slam the Boards wiki.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thing 33- Travel 2.0

For this thing, I explored travel 2.0 sites such as travel blogs, travel review sites, travel journals, and travel mashups. I love traveling but since I don't work full-time, I can't afford to travel much. With the economy being the way it is, I don't see this changing much in the near future. So right now, some of these sites, such as the travel review and the travel journal ones don't have a lot of use for me.

I did enjoy browsing through the travel blogs, especially The Lost Girls which is about three young women in their 20's who embark on a year-long journey around the world. Their stories are entertaining. Another one of my favorites is The Window Seat because I get to learn more about all kinds of different places.

My favorite travel mashups include:
*Hotspotr for locating Wi-Fi hotspots and cafes throughout the U.S.
*Cost2Drive which accurately predicts the cost of gas on any road trip. It combines local and average gas prices with Google Maps and car-specific MPG data.
*Twittrans which translates your Twitter posts to another language

Travel questions are common at the reference desk and librarians should be aware of and post links to the most popular travel 2.0 sites on the library's website.

For the patron who wants to read about other peoples' first-hand experiences with traveling to certain locales, librarians can direct them to travel journals and blogs.

For the patron who needs information/advice on trip planning, the librarian can show the patron some of the trip planning/review sites.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thing 32- Google Maps and Mashups

Here is a map mashup I created using Google Maps with directions to the Park Grove Library, where I work at:


View Larger Map

The biggest challenge was getting the size and level of detail right.

I had a lot of fun playing around with various map mashups. Some of my favorite ones:

Most Dangerous Roads on Earth

Hotspotr Locate Wifi hotspots

Mezzoman Find a place to meet in the middle.

MapsZipcode Shows zip codes nationwide

Area Code Maps

If the Earth Were a Sandwich Shows you the point on the earth that is the exact opposite of any other point you select. The point exactly opposite my residence is in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia and southeast of Madagascar at -44.8355 latitude and 86.7224 longitude.

RoadlessLand.org Map of all of the designated road-free areas in the United States.

If I Walk in a Straight Line Around the World, Where Will I Pass?


Map mashups have many uses in libraries. Many library websites use them to post directions to the library or other places of interest in the local community. Some library patrons may use public transit or walk and Google Maps gives that option when finding directions. Map mashups giving information such as zip codes, area codes, wifi hotspots, restaurants, parks, etc. can be useful when answering reference questions.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thing 31- More Twitter

At first I was pretty skeptical about the usefulness of Twitter but I'm glad I gave it a chance and experimented with some of the Twitter tools. According to the 5 Stages of Twitter Acceptance article I consider myself to be at stage 3: Dumping. I'm primarily using Twitter to post links and to update on what I'm currently doing but I haven't really found many people to converse with yet. My Twitter network is small but growing.

COOL TOOLS AND ARTICLES I FOUND:

And according to TwitterGrader I rank 592,786 out of 1,549,026 users. I guess that makes me a pretty average Twitter user.

If you're curious, here's the top 10,000 most followed on Twitter. Not surprisingly, Barack Obama is ranked #2. I'm also following him but I think he is too busy to Tweet a lot :-)

Just Tweet it is a great site for finding Twitter users with similar interests. I used it to find librarians and found some people to follow. I added myself to the librarians network so others can find me. I also get email notifications whenever someone gets added to the librarian network.

Tr.im shortens long URLs so they can be posted to Twitter.

Twply Have all your replies to your Tweets forwarded directly to your email inbox.

I used Twitterfeed to add an RSS feed for my Twitter account.

Used TweeTube to share videos via Twitter.

I tried the Twitter Status Generator which generates a random tweet in case you ever get writer's block.

According to Tweetvalue.com:



Yonkly allows you to create your own microblog network for anything you want. Unfortunately, you are limited to 10 users unless you pay a fee.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I like shelving

This may be a weird thing coming out of a librarian's mouth but I actually enjoy shelving. I admit to being one of those types that doesn't like to see books out of order or a messy shelf. When I see books toppled over on a shelf or a book that's not shelved in its right spot, I feel compelled to fix it right there and now. I've even secretly done this a few times when I'm just visiting a library in my own time and not scheduled to work. I actually like putting things in order, anal as that sounds.

Shelving may be a task that some librarians consider 'menial' because it doesn't require a whole lot of education or training and a responsible teenage volunteer could do it. Shelving seems to be one of those things that goes underappreciated but is nonetheless very important. Patrons expect things to be where the catalog says they are. They get frustrated when the item is said to be on the shelf but its not there. Also, well ordered shelves simply makes a good impression as to how the library is run as a whole. Disordered shelves can give the impression whether accurate or not, that other aspects of the library may be in disarray.

Besides my interest in keeping things in order, here are some of the reasons why I like shelving:

*It gives me something to do. Sometimes its really slow at the reference desk. I'd rather do something than do nothing. I like to keep busy.

*It burns more calories than sitting at the reference desk. Okay, shelving is not hard exercise like running or climbing up a steep hill, but its at least some form of exercise.

*I get the opportunity to provide roving reference while shelving. I'm a fan of roving reference. I believe much of the real reference questions takes place beyond the reference desk. Sometimes patrons feel intimidated by approaching the desk and approaching them is the way to go.

I get to browse the materials. I rarely get the opportunity to browse for materials I might want to check out except when I'm shelving.

I get more acquainted with the library's collection. I learn things like which collection areas are relatively strong and weak for the library, which areas of the collection get used more (e.g. The jobs/careers section gets used alot, since this area is in more disarray), and get more deeply acquainted with Dewey Decimal numbers.

It makes me notice things I might otherwise overlook. For instance, as I'm shelving, I might notice a book in really poor condition that should be weeded, a book that belongs to another library and should be shipped to its correct location, displays that need to be filled, etc.

So those are some of the less obvious reasons why I like shelving. I also believe that librarians should feel free to help out with shelving as needed and not see it as being some 'lesser' task. This is especially true in libraries that do not hire shelvers or that consistently fall behind on this task.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Directory of Toll-Free Numbers

Ever want to know the toll-free number for a company or organization? Inter800.com may be of help when the phone book or the company's website fails to list a toll-free number.

Print What You Like

Print What You Like is a neat tool that will let you do exactly what it says. Print only the sections on a website you wish. You can get rid of ads, side frames that cause the text in the body to run off, etc. You keep what you want to print and get rid of the rest, all without having to copy and paste into MS Word.

Thing 30- More Ways to Use RSS and Delicious

I love RSS feeds and subscribe to over 70 of them. The majority of them are related to the news, librarianship, and books. I sort my RSS feeds by categories: Librarianship, News, Books, Humor, Entertainment, and Miscellaneous.

I use Bloglines as my RSS reader. I was also using Google Reader as well. I like Google Reader too but found it cumbersome to have RSS feeds in two accounts so I exported all of my Google Reader subscriptions to Bloglines since that's where I had the majority of my RSS feeds.


Some new things I tried with RSS feeds:


*Feed My Inbox. Used this to add RSS feeds to my email account with just a click.

*Reminder Feed. Used this to send reminders to my Bloglines account.

*Subscribed to the traffic and weather feeds for my area.

*Explored RSS filtering sites such as FeedRinse. I don't know when I'll use these sites. I'm not sure I want to filter my RSS feeds because I don't know what terms to filter by and I might miss something interesting. However, it's nice to know the option is there.

For this thing, I also explored Delicious in more depth. I love Delicious as well and use it all the time to add and view my bookmarks. Here's some of the ways I made new use of Delicious:

*Organized my Delicious tags into bundles for easier navigation. I had over 200 of them so it took awhile!

*Edited my bookmarks tags for easier accessibility

*Searched Delicious by tags and found some new websites of interest

*Used the Inbox to subscribe to various tags

*Added some people to my network

*Added a Delicious linkroll to my blog.

*Visited Popacular to see the most popular tags. Not surprisingly, the top ones of all time with over 50,000 people tagging them were: Flickr, YouTube, Pandora, and Digg.

*Tried out player.icio.us where you enter a tag from Delicious and watch views of the most popular Web pages with that tag scroll by. It's cool!

*Also tried out another cool site: FavThumb where you can view thumbnail views of web pages you bookmarked.