Monthly Archives: June 2008

Eek!

Ok, not a terribly descriptive title, but I’m at my computer at 6:45am local time, going over my schedule and trying to access my library’s email and getting a bit “eeked” out over both. Last night, just before I went to the Facebook meetup (which was great fun – pics later), I got a text saying that our network was down. Checked weather.com – no storms, so I texted the director to let him know. The network came back up within 10 minutes – no harm, no foul. This morning, I pulled up my work email – or attempted to – and discovered that neither server – email or web – is responding. No text has come through saying that the network is down. Oops…
The other “eek” for the day is my schedule:
7am breakfast at Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom – OCLC Social Networking roundtable – Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom – OCLC Social Networking roundtable
10:30am LITA Heads of Library Technology Interest Group – Hilton Anaheim — Coronado
12pm EBSCO Public Library Luncheon Confirmation
1:30pm *LITA Top Technology Trends – Hilton Anaheim — California Pavilion D
3:30pm Drupal BoF session
5:30pm OCLC Blogger’s Salon
And all that on 5 hours of sleep. Guess it’s time to text the director again and get my butt down to breakfast!

Saturday overview

Whew – I’m exhausted – and I still have one more event before I can crawl into bed! I started off the day with an overview of Public Computing, where I finally got to put a face to Sarah Washburn’s name (of the MaintainIT Project) and then went straight to the Social Software Showcase where I put a bunch more names to faces of people I’ve conversed with online. While the Showcase was fun for it’s intended purpose, the loose organization of it meant that I could spend some time chatting with people about whatever came to mind in between OpenID questions. That was a really rewarding part of it for me. I barely made it (across the street) to my next session – I came into it a bit late… Afterwards was more interesting discussion with people who really got something out of my brief talk. It makes the work put into getting material together and getting up there and talking about it worthwhile.
After my official duties for the conference were done, I met up with the twitter group (we stood in the convention center and yelled out twitter names – clearly confusing the heck out of some folks), but just to put more faces to names, I had to get back to the hotel to eat and write up my day. We did get to do some quality chatting and “getting to know you” sort of stuff while waiting for everyone to appear, though, so it was totally worth it to show up. I wish I could have justified staying, but home folks needed to be called and blog posts needed to be posted…
I’ve eaten, written up my posts and am ready to rest for a bit before heading to the Facebook Librarians meetup at 11pm. Tomorrow, I have a 7am breakfast with OCLC and a pretty full day after that, so it should be interesting! I’ll do more writing tomorrow!

Transformational Change: Evolving Library IT Departments

This was more of a traditional session than my first one – it was a panel (2 academic library folks and me) and we all gave a brief intro to our organization, then discussed the ways in which our IT departments are changing/have changed in response to changing technological realities. Carole and Terry – my co-panelists – gave interesting discussions on how their IT Departments have evolved with the times. Carole’s library began a formal Project Management procedure that sounded quite interesting. Terry’s library reorganized and reformed to improve how they serve their customers. I wish I could be more specific, but I was on the podium and listening, not taking notes and the whole thing was a long time ago…
My presentation was on the Web2.0ification of our library’s IT Department. We have made some changes in how we do our basic functions (offloading some of the work – such as web updates – to non-IT people, outsourcing some functions – hello Google Apps for Domains!, etc.) and we’ve made some changes in the way we think about things like security and privacy (not in a bad, way, though – I promise) in order to facilitate our patrons and staff in their use of Web 2.0 technologies.
We went a bit long and didn’t have much time for questions after, but several people came up after the session ended to chat more about what we were doing – and what was more interesting (at least for me) – what they are doing! The session was a great way to find out what IT departments, in different types of libraries, are doing to react to Web 2.0, greater customer service demands from our staff and opportunities that are coming our way!

Social Software Showcase – BIGWIG

This was really fun! We gathered in a room that was WAY too small and proceeded to chat with each other about our various topics. Jason Griffey recorded the whole thing – it’s up at UStream already, with my little intro to my topic, OpenID, at the 13:45 minute mark. I was in the back, so you can’t actually see me, but I’m also a total loudmouth, so you can hear me just fine… My table was not exactly overrun with folks, but I had a steady stream of people asking excellent questions about implementing OpenID for themselves! The two hours FLEW by and I just about talked myself hoarse – which was uncool, seeing as how my second presentation of the conference was just a half hour after the showcase ended…

Public Computing in a web 2.0 world

Once again – I’m blogging without Internet! In my own hotel. Where I’m paying $10 a day for Internet Access. This sucks. Oh well, so far, before the session has started, I’ve gotten a picture of the three lovely ladies leading this session (any alliteration is purely coincidental, don’t flame me in the comments for it). Jessamyn West, Sarah Washburn, and Louis Alcorn are all going to give us tips on Public Computer access in a 2.0 world.
Sarah gave an introduction to the MaintainIT project, going into the cookbooks, the webinars, and the cookbook bookclub. They will be starting “train the trainers” sessions to show trainers how to use the cookbooks to train their staff. She then introduced the other speakers, starting with Jessamyn, then Louise.
Jessamyn’s talk – “6 things you maybe didn’t know about rural technology” – came next. She started with a description of her job, then introduced her talk by saying that she’ll be talking about how to get effective tech into rural libraries – both what works and what doesn’t work.
1. Digital divide “the poor are always with us”
a. Rethink the divide – not just about hardware, also about access & nohow to make use of the network
b. It is real
c. It’s not what it used to be
d. Landscape has changed
e. 23% of Americans have no access at all to the internet/web
2. Donations “hey it’s free”
a. Blessing/curse
b. Open source is not really on the table
c. Based on old ideas of what has value
3. Grants “hey it’s (sort of) free…”
a. Some really help & level the playing field
b. Time limits… “please make yourself obsolete”
c. Hardware/software lock-in
d. Reporting requirement are onerous
4. Tech Education
a. Websites don’t fix this
b. Paper and people are what cost $$$
c. Multiple problems per patron
d. What is a “real” safety net? – figure out the safety net for digital needs as wells as food/medical/etc.
5. Patron Needs
a. Someone in their HOME
i. Encourage them to buy laptops – bring their computers in is almost as good
b. Someone close when they LEARN
c. Someone to help them SHOP
d. Someone to SUMMARIZE
6. What Works
a. 23 Things (LL2.0)
b. Googling error messages
c. Consortia & Leadership
d. Tracking & Counting – as if it counts, because it does
7. Try. Try Again. Advocate. Illustrate. Persevere. Succeed.

Louise Alcorn
Public Computing in a Library 2.0 World
Some rural broadband activism, like in Vermont, but a distrust of consortia, so not much working together
wilboar.lib.ia.us – Overdrive project
Told story of wireless access coming via the state-wide bike tour

Online Tools For Training
• Why Online Training (webinars)
o For participants requires only (mostly) a broadband Internet connection
o Reduces lost staff time due to travel
o Can “send” more staff to training
o For trainer/host, no need to worry about location issues
• Web conferencing services
o Horizon Wimba’s Live Classroom www.wimba.com

And at that point, my laptop went into hibernation. Louise continued discussing various other training/web conferencing services, then they took a few questions. I don’t remember exactly what was asked – sorry! The presentations are up at http://librarian.net/talks/ala if you are interested in checking out more about what these talented ladies are doing!

Lita Happy Hour

Last night, after the OCLC Symposium, I headed to the Hotel Menage to meet up with other LITA members and get 1/2 price drinks. The drinks were secondary, though it was a very nice thing for the bar to do for us! I got to meet a few of my Twitter buddies in real space and got a chance to chat and generally mingle with others that I had just interacted with previously via email. I had a very good time – met more people than I can list here and got to talk tech with some of the brightest minds in the library business. How’s that for a couple of hours of socializing?
Now I have 2 sessions – the Public Library Tech interest group meeting and Public Computing in a 2.0 world – both being held at my hotel – this morning (at the same time, of course) before my 2 sessions that I’m in come up this afternoon. I’ll probably do the Public Computing one, but I’m hoping to at least pop my head into the Interest Group meeting before or after to say hi!

8. Blogs

Hmmm, you are reading this, so do I really have to go into what Blogs are? Well, here’s a textbook definition:

Weblog (blog) – a web page that consists of separate, diary-like entries that are arranged in a reverse chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top.

That’s it. That’s a blog. Of course, we expect certain other things from blogs these days, don’t we? At the least, they should provide an RSS feed so that we can subscribe to their content and read it through our feed readers. Oh, and most of ‘em have archives and other ways to access past content as well as some sort of method for commenting on individual entries. Good ones are updated regularly with information that is timely, relevant to the audience and well-written.
Now that we’ve established what a blog is, let’s talk about what it can do for your library and your patrons. First off, it can be an amazingly efficient vehicle for communication for your library. And not one-way communication, either! Blogs generally allow readers to post comments – giving the reader some voice in the communication so that it becomes conversational as opposed to one-way announcements. For libraries that allow their patrons to post comments in an unmoderated (radical trust right there!) way, they give their patrons the feeling of openness and concern for what the patrons want and need – they tell ‘em that the library is listening. Of course, if you don’t want to destroy that impression, you’ll need to post fairly regularly.
This brings us to the topic of time investment. All that writing, editing, finding the perfect picture and just plain old thinking up topics takes time. You can have one person responsible for it all, with a significant investment in time for that person, or you can split the work up and have multiple authors doing the work. Whichever way you decide to do it, there needs to be at least one person who is responsible for making sure that content reaches the blog on a regular basis. For some blogs, that will be daily – for others it may be weekly or even monthly, depending on the topic and the frequency of news about that topic. Irregular posting can cause some folks to assume the blog has died during your quiet times and unsubscribe to it – this means that they’ll miss the next big news or interesting take on a subject that is posted! At the last Internet Librarian conference, the folks behind the Hennepin County Library’s Bookspace site said that contributing to the Bookspace’s blogs was a job duty for several people – no contributions means that they aren’t doing their jobs and it will reflect on their job evaluations. That makes for some serious staff buy-in there!
Why go to all the trouble to create a blog for your library? As I said before, it opens a 2-way communication channel that is invaluable for getting patron responses to your programs, events, library news or whatever you choose to blog about. It’s also a great way to put information up onto your website that is completely reusable – and not just by you. We take our blog feed and post it on the home page of our site, just with a bit of teaser content, so that everyone who comes by our home page will see what the last 5 blog posts are. We also have a WordPress plugin that takes the blog posts and reposts them to the library’s MySpace page blog. This means that every time we post to our blog it is republished automatically to our home page and to our MySpace blog (as well as our Facebook news feed and our Twitter feed, but you get the picture…). We aren’t the only ones who could use this information, however. Since we publish our RSS feed, others can take that feed, run it through something like the new Google Feed Control Wizard and provide our blog posts as part of their website. Since we are a public library, this would be an excellent addition to a Chamber of Commerce tourism site (we have LOTS of programs going on all the time) or to a city-wide information network or to any site that wants to give their users a complete picture of what’s going on in our area. Just a bit of copy-n-paste from Google and you have an automatically updated source of information on your public library.
Blogs are even helpful if you don’t feel up to publishing one externally. An internal blog can disseminate information, provide staff with another communication tool and help teach your staff about tools that your patrons are using (feed readers, web pages, web forms, etc.). While using a free blogging service such as Blogger, WordPress.com, Vox or any of the thousands of others out there might be a bit more difficult for an internal-only blog, setting up a WordPress installation shouldn’t be too difficult for an IT department to handle. If it is, or if your IT department is reluctant to install it, give one of the blogging services that offer passwords a try. Blogger and WordPress.com do offer password protected blogs – but that’s just another password that your staff has to remember…
I could probably talkwrite for hours about how great blogs are and all of the fun things you can do with them to improve your patron/library relations, your staff/staff communications and your community/library information needs, but I’ve gotta quit sometime and this seems like a good stopping point. Anyone else want to write a book about what I’ve forgotten? OH! They have! Check out Jason Griffey and Karen Coombs new (and I do mean new – it’s not yet actually available) book about Library Blogging. Knowing those two, it’s bound to be incredibly useful and chock-full of great ideas/tips/tricks/things to remember about blogging at your library!

OCLC Symposium – Mashable Libraries

Mixing It Up: The Mashed Up Library (OCLC Symposium)
Left side of the room
Lots of round tables (easy laptop blogging – if there was free wireless) and people in a big room. Sitting down, we each got an OCLC bag – way prettier than our orange ALA bags – and a packet of information. Andrew Pace started it off with an introduction to the speaker and panelists as well as the concept of mashups. He pointed out to us two cards that are labeled “Resource” and “Challenge” in our packet o’stuff – we are to jot down all of our resources & challenges that we can think of as the speakers talk, then we can share them later.
He discussed some mashups (Dewey + John Ashcroft = Sienfeld’s Library Cop; OCLC Connection + WoW = WorldCat of Warcraft). Finally, he introduced Michael Schrage to start off the “official” part of the afternoon.

Michael Schrage Michael Schrage:
Institutional Innovation, Mashups and the Library Future
• “the content of the audience is more important than the content of the talk”
• Institutional Innovation
• Operational definition of Innovation – conversion of ‘novelty’ into ‘value’
o Novelty – to whom? Value – for whom?
• Innovation is a means to an end
• Innovation isn’t what innovators offer – it’s what customers, clients & users adopt
o Cell phone example – only 10% of users use more than 50% of features – those features aren’t innovative, they are wasteful
• From ‘creation of choice’ toward ‘value from use’
o Make innovative focus value, not novelty
• “What’s the most innovative thing you think we do?” – start innovation process with that question
o What is the perception of *you* on an organizational level
• Institutional side
• Intelligence is wildly overrated as a virtue
o Self-delusion is biggest obstacle to innovation
• Wikipedia: Mashup definition
o Brings same interoperability to data sets that Internet brought to networks
• Interoperability
• The most important product of the mines…
o Is the miner
o Frederick Le Play
o Human capital most valuable product
o “The most important product of the network is the networker”
o The kinds of networks we build, depend on what kind(s) of Networkers we want people to be
o What is the most important product of the library…?
 “A scholar is a library’s way of creating another library” (Daniel Dennet)
 What should the most important products of the library be?
• Libraries = Gyms for the mind
• Competition – like innovation – is a means to an end
• Competition is about perceived value from choice
• How do you users and user communities brand you as a competitor
o As info access providers, we are in most competitive industry in the world
• 4 things as takeaways
o Learning from our ‘lead users’ (who are they? How do we know?)
o With whom do we want to collaborate to create value? Why?
o Marketing our best internal arguments/disagreements (transparency is good)
o Establishing ‘liberatories’ that attract talent and inspire hypotheses (liberatories = library + laboratory)
• Success comes not from taking the path of least resistance, but the path of maximum advantage…

Questions:
Mention of Adaptive Path & “experience is the product” – could our library’s product be the experience we provide? Michael thinks that is a great answer – but what group(s) of people will define the notion of experience? Who is the experience economy “person” at your library? Is your board capable of overseeing quality of experience? What institutional investments can you make?
Making the library better = letting our users/patrons create in our library (reviews, tags, comments, etc.). Michael suggests encouraging or even forcing them to produce content so that the more the library is used, the better it gets

Panel Panel: Libraries In Action – David Lee King, Mary Beth Sancomb-Moran, Susan Gibbons

Climbing out of the box
• Intro to his daughter’s “outside the box” experience – took a box and made a 2 story dollhouse with attic window and porch swing.
• Intro to his library’s website (very cool stuff…)
o Meebo widget – used by PCC patrons so they don’t waste computer time
o They have a bookmobile/gmap Mashup too!
o Physical/digital library mashups
• Poking holes in the box
o Patron comments to library’s site (most pages)
o Original content by patrons (teen poetry & articles written by patrons), videos by patrons
• Outside the box (mashing up our community)
o Go outside the library
o Bookmobile, google blog search alerts/technorati/twitter, etc.,
• Comfortable with 2.0?
• Community brainstorming session
• Books + people + 2.0 = ?

Mary Beth Sancomb-Moran
Map MashUps
• Minnesota Sesquicentennial banner and journal
o Banner traveled through state to public libraries
o Routed through 11 counties & 35 public libraries in southeastern MN
o Created google map to show when/where banner would be visiting near patrons
• Advocacy
o Library legislative day
o Getting their attention & informing them
o Useful for legislators & patrons
o Read posters with each legislator’s picture for their office
o Created map Mashup for each legislator with list of libraries in their area

Susan Gibbons

 CoURses System – mashing registrar course data w/ best library resources
o Voyager data
o E-journal list
o Database list
o Librarians
o Course, not subject, guide
 Course guide – section by section introduction, mashed up information from lots of places for each course
 Mashing up people
o Writing consultants/Student Advisors/Librarians – cross training so the librarians can do some writing consulting or student advising – and vice versa
o Most valuable staff on campus

Q&A time
Andrew asked about letting others use our data in mashups
David said that his RSS feeds are getting scraped with minimal credit, Mary said that they are moving that way – cautiously, Susan said that they would, cautiously – for noncommercial purposes only!!
Who is creating the widgets for David’s library & what kind of training do they get? Web dept, Meebo widget was very easy, no training required, Google Map widget is similar, not much training required – they figured it out without training.
Michael brought up the point of widget makers (Meebo, Google) having access to your patron’s info and may monetize it.
Can we make available data that we lease, not own? Susan said it’s probably already happening…
Are Tech Serv (catalogers) involved in these innovations? How are you managing staff time to prevent backlogs? Mary Beth just played to figure out and gave to web guys to implement, no tech serv folks involved. Susan said that looking for automation possibilities or find efficiencies in the process. David said that they organize around the work, not the department. One tech serv person is in charge of MySpace, one is Second Life person, etc. If they want the project, they get it, whether it “fits” their department or not.
Battery’s going – have to shut down!

ALA Time!

I’ve arrived and settled in! I registered today, got me one of these neon orange (actually it is safety orange, I believe) ALA swag bags and checked out the conference area. I’m about a mile out from the conference, but it is a nice walk (and they have lots of shuttles running as well…) so it won’t be too bad. The hotel is nice – except for the lack of a refrigerator to store my required Diet Cokes and the fact that internet access isn’t free. The service has been phenomenal, though! The Hyatt Regency has some of the nicest and most helpful staff I’ve seen in a while – and they are all ALWAYS smiling. It’s been a treat!
I’ve pretty much figured out my schedule for the conference – except that I have lots of double- and triple-booked slots of time and a few wide open times.
As I said on Twitter earlier – I’m here to meet all you Netizens whom I’ve interacted with but not managed to meet face-to-face yet (and some that I have met face-to-face before as well!), so DM me on Twitter (goes directly to my phone) or drop me a line and suggest a time/place – I’ll do my best to make it work!

6. SlideShare

I like SlideShare. I’ll admit to that little bias right off the bat. SlideShare doesn’t provide tools to create slide decks or to edit them, but it does provide tools that make a vibrant and interesting community space out of presentations! The real purpose behind SlideShare is to share information – what’s more Web 2.0 than that? By uploading a slide deck to SlideShare, you can control who sees it via privacy options, what they can do with it via embedded Creative Commons licensing and where on the Internet it goes via an easy bit of copy’n’paste embed code.
Once you’ve created your slide deck in either PowerPoint, OpenOffice or Keynote (or any presentation software that outputs in those file formats or PDF), you can upload it to your Slidespace. There is a 50MB limit to the size of the presentation, but I’ve found that just about any presentation will work with a bit of tweaking (I’ve seen presentations on there that run more than 225 slides long, with some graphics thrown in, so 50MB is pretty generous) or with an export to compressed PDF, if necessary.
Once your slide deck has been uploaded, you can link to it, embed it just about anywhere, and get great statistics on it. You can share it with your contacts that you have in the SlideShare community or you can share it with the whole world using the site’s privacy options. You can even create an audio track to go with your slide deck and synchronize it to your slides for a narrated presentation or a slide show with musical accompaniment. To create the slidecast that I’ve linked to above, I downloaded the free Audacity audio recorder and used it to speak while I was viewing my slideshow on my home computer. After I was finished (which took about 10 tries… I hate the sound of myself speaking!), I uploaded the MP3 file that Audacity created to my personal web space and “linked” the two in SlideShare (by entering the URI of my MP3 file and letting SlideShare get it from my web server – there is no uploading of audio files to the SlideShare service. Not sure why…) and then proceeded to use a very simple, drag-and-drop interface to sync up the voice and visual parts of my presentation.
Why would a library want to use SlideShare? Individual librarians are already using it to post presentation slide decks made for various conferences all around the world. If you can’t make it to a conference, chances are you can find at least some of the slides used during sessions uploaded to SlideShare. You can also share your presentations with patrons who might not have been able to make it to a computer class, author event or other program that used a presentation slide deck. Others use it as a sort of self-guided learning tool. If you have a topic you would like to find more about, do a quick search for it on SlideShare. You will certainly find at least one presentation on that topic that you can view and get information from. Still others use it as a basis for inspiration (or theft) for their own presentations. Be sure to check the Creative Commons licensing, though, before you steal slides or slide shows from other users – some are perfectly willing to let you do it, as long as you credit them, others have reserved all rights and would frown on you grabbing a couple of their slides to use in your presentation! (Just FYI – all my slides are always CC licensed to allow anyone to use them with just a quick credit to me somewhere in the presentation)
Like most of the Web 2.0 tools I gush on about, this one has a pretty solid sense of community. You can create a profile for yourself, “friend” others so that you can see what they have been uploading, favoriting and commenting upon and you can join groups that give you a way to get your slides seen as a part of a larger body of work on a particular subject. Again, as with most Web 2.0 tools, tagging is a big part of making your presentations findable and usable! When you start uploading your slide decks and slidecasts, be sure to tag them liberally!
Again, the statistics that SlideShare offers is a big draw to the service. Not only can you keep excellent records of how many people are viewing your library’s presentations (and whether they are viewing them at SlideShare.com or as an embed in your site – or even which embed is getting all the views!), you can also see what is popular – what slide decks people are marking as their “favorites” (marking a presentation as a favorite is a great way to bookmark slide decks for later viewing, too), what presentations people are downloading, embedding into their sites and commenting upon. All these stats are available to you for free!!
If you create any sort of presentation for your library – consider uploading it to SlideShare. Let other librarians, your patrons and the whole world know about the cool things you are doing. Even if you don’t create your own presentations – take a look at other folks’ stuff. Learn what is going on and what neat things people are doing at their institutions!