Friday, December 21, 2007

Living in the Library

Andy sent me this quirk from the Chronicle, "Who Needs a Dorm During Finals?"
The holidays push everyone to do quirky things. Especially students. And even me. I have been obsessively tracking the status on the Christmas cards we are sending out this year. (They have not yet arrived at our house, where I can then redistribute.)

Perhaps it is because we've never actually sent Christmas cards before. And the ones we're receiving from friends with 4+ kids BEFORE Christmas are stacking up. No longer do I feel justified in saying "but we have a new baby, and I'm back to work, and we've had 16" of snow, and I have been busy sussing out the Presidential candidates for the rest of the nation..."

No, it may just be that the holidays drive us to it. Maybe it's the prospect of being reckoned and coming up short--whether it be your final exam grades, your year-end budget review or simply the perfect Christmas gift. We all wish for perfection in ourselves, I think, and sometimes this quest takes us to interesting places.

Like the library. While you celebrate this year, take a moment to remember your salad days, your youth and do something quirky. Just for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Added a bell and a whistle

If you're scanning in your feedreader, click over to the Web page. I added a poll feature and a slideshow element on the left. Enjoy! (And take the poll...)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Been elfed

I've been elfed twice today. The Elf Yourself is making the rounds...

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Littlest Birds have the Prettiest Songs

I can't remember if I told you that we were in New Orleans for the Thanksgiving holiday. Saw plenty of rebuilding going on. Imagine my surprise when some of my favorite Canadian singers, the Be Good Tanyas, had a YouTube video shot in the Big Easy. Cool.

I was inspired to visit YouTube because I've been making progress on the Privacy report, specifically the section on Library Directors (PDF). And YouTube topped the Social Media charts at 72% usage for Directors.
Plus I was pleased to see that for Directors ages 22-49, social networking site usage is on par with the rest of the U.S. population (38%). (p. 4-8) Awesome. We're normal. (Not that I'm a library director, but you know what I mean...)

But the plot thickens because this morning I noticed an article from CNET saying Gartner was warning companies not to invest too heavily in social networking infrastructure for business reasons yet.

Although Academic Library Directors are ahead of the curve: 27% of them (you?) report that you use Social Networking sites as part of your business. 23% of them (you?) use social media sites (like YouTube) as part of your business.

Of course, this is somewhat of a big DUH for academics, because we've all been going where the users are...and they are on Facebook and YouTube in droves. So we are, too. Likely Gartner wasn't thinking of libraries, when they issued their statement.

Or maybe libraries are the smallest birds in this business scenario...

Friday, December 14, 2007

The OCLC Blog Salon at ALA Midwinter 2008

Ah-ha! I hadn't realized everyone was already making their ALA MW 2008 dance cards. Before Christmas! You all are so industrious.
Here's the lowdown.
Please come.
Everyone is invited:

OCLC Blog Salon
ALA Midwinter 2008

Philadelphia, PA
Sunday, January 13
5:30 - 8 pm, Loews Commonwealth, A1.

Very close to the Convention center [map], so finish chatting up your favorite exhibitor and come on over for festivities, fun and frolic. Come as you are--no need to wear the formal gown, tux and tails unless you just want to...

George is immortalized

You know you have come into your own when you are featured in a comic strip!

Thanks to Unshelved for the good laugh this morning.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Philanthropic snow

Eric sent me this piece today:
Philanthropist offering cash for museum, library membership

Right here in New Hampshire. Where we are getting blanketed by a beautiful snowfall...
Now the race is on for 2008, to see who can bring in the most new members.
Awesome on one hand that a philanthropist would see libraries, museums and historical societies as worthy. Challenging on the other: Are we being artificially propped up? Why or why not?
(Hint: Philanthropists built a lot of the libraries in the U.S., so at least in this country I would say there is a precedent!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Evergreen Wins Mellon Award

Congratulations to my friends Lamar Veatch, David Singleton, and Julie Walker, and the whole Georgia Public Library Service Evergreen team, for winning the Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration on Monday! This is a well-deserved honor for their groundbreaking open source integrated library system.

Full disclosure: Lamar serves on OCLC's Members Council, but I have known him for a lot longer than I have been at OCLC.

Holiday Greetings from OCLC Research

Those wild and crazy guys and gals in OCLC Research have worked up their annual holiday greeting card, showing off flex technology and the latest in WorldCat and Dewey Browser accouterments.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Remedy for Library Jargon

One of the things I tend to rail against in my talks is the use of library jargon. Now, thanks to a circuitous route from my fellow IAG'er Eric Childress via Mike Burkett of WebJunction, I have a remedy to suggest: a website titled "Library Terms that Users Understand." The site is the brainchild of John Kupersmith, a reference librarian at UC Berkeley. From the summary:

"This site is intended to help library web developers decide how to label key resources and services in such a way that most users can understand them well enough to make productive choices. It serves as a clearinghouse of usability test data evaluating terminology on library websites, and suggests test methods and best practices for reducing cognitive barriers caused by terminology."

This is bookmark worthy! and the AskEraser

If anyone else is still knee-deep in the new Privacy Report like I am, then this headline might have caught your eye: Puts a Bet on Privacy(NYT)

Basically, has put a feature on, where you can immediately delete your query. Mostly delete. The article surmises that most Americans don't care about privacy unless/until something happens. Of course, see past libraryland discussions...

Interesting to see if this feature will attract a new set of users. What do you think?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Science Fair projects trumped all

I went to my first Hanukkah party yesterday. We played Texas Hold 'Em Driedel and went home reeking of fried food smell. It was great!

'Tis also the season for Science Fair projects at public libraries around the U.S.
(And you thought it was the holiday shopping season!)

We had an interesting discussion today about a trial program we've been running on Yahoo and MSN, to show paid search results for meaningful content in Worldcat. Science Fair projects and related content has been the clear victor, in the results. Likely any Public Library Reference librarian who's driven the desk a year or two could tell you that, but it was good to see the online world bore out the same results.

Recipes were also a big hit--little wonder with the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday in November and baking season in full swing.

Dust off that online cookbook display and consider digitizing a few always-out cookbooks--people are looking for them online!

3. "Resume samples"
4. "Property Tax"
5. "Tax Forms"

rounded out the top 5 visit results. We limited this test to U.S. audiences only, if I remember correctly. Shows you what at least some of America is thinking about:
How can I do my holiday shopping and deduct it from my taxes?

Friday, December 07, 2007

JetBlue has WiFi

Whoah--it's the last frontier: now you can be connected on flights.
JetBlue is set to offer WiFi on select flights.
There will be rioting on the streets: a plane was the one place you could escape the inbox!!
But it only works with Yahoo mail and IM and Blackberries right now.

Note: JetBlue forgot to mention anything about the announcement on their Web site. Their CEO blog hasn't been updated since October! (Okay so he might be a little bit busy running the company...)

Amazon Kindle

Okay, who amongst us has tried a Kindle?

Disclaimer--I know this is no longer new news but remember I've been away in babyland. So it was news to me. And yes, I'm casting about for Christmas gifts. Various news outlets covered it--Newsweek among them. Here's a Cnet review of Kindle vs. Sony eReader.

I saw in the comments that people were bummed they couldn't check out library books to them.
That makes you feel good, huh?

The video makes it look really appealing.

They are backordered now, and for $399 I might think about an iPhone instead. But I heard all kinds of grief about the iPhone because you can't feel the keys. So it is hard to text while you drive, have the phone in your pocket, etc.

But texting while driving. I can't condone it but I can't say I haven't done it, either.

It also randomly reminds me of something I heard the other day--that advocates of the blind don't like the Prius because it's too quiet!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

New librarians, new ways of reading

Here are two articles I recently read and found very interesting.

"The New Librarians" is a positive look at several Canadian academic librarians who are blazing some new paths. None the ideas will blow away anyone reading this blog, but the setting is a change: it's not a library publication, it's a university journal, University Affairs, which bills itself as "Canada's magazine on higher education." (I may have cribbed this one from Lorcan Dempsey's blog; if so, I apologize to him and his readers!)

Tam Dalrymple, one of OCLC's terrific reference librarians, sent me this article, "How Reading Is Being Reimagined," by Matthew Kirschenbaum, from the December 7 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education's "The Chronicle Review." This article is a brief but powerful counterweight to the recent To Read or Not to Read report from the National Endowment for the Arts.

"Google and Its Enemies"

No matter how you feel about Google's Library Project, you may find ammunition for your point of view in an article in the December 10th issue of The Weekly Standard by Jonathan V. Last, called "Google and Its Enemies." The funniest single quote:

"Google has, as they say, all the right enemies. Anytime the ALA, Microsoft, France, a trade guild, and a bunch of trial lawyers are lined up on one side of an argument, the other side is going to look extremely attractive."

Incidentally, he actually doesn't like what Google is doing.

London Online 2007

A shout out to those of you at London Online this week. Not a whole lot of chatter about it yet around here...I am sure that will change soon enough.

Saw a Jimmy photo on Flickr. He was the keynote. There's a Q and A in the Guardian insert (PDF). The article starts on page 10.

Here's the most interesting bit, from the perspective of the world's largest library cooperative:
Where do you see Wikipedia in ten
JW: When I think about Wikipedia in ten years I
mostly have been focussing my attention on the
growth of the languages of the developing world.
So I’ve been to South Africa twice this year so far.
I’m going again in November and again in March.
I’m really trying to promote the growth in the
languages of Africa because right now we don’t
have a lot of content there. One of the things I
look at when I look at long term trends is there’s
about a billion people online now and we expect
to see another billion coming online in the next 10
years or so. Not from the US or Japan or places like
that- we’re already online for the most part. It’s
coming from the next stage- South America, India,
Africa. All joining the global conversation.

But it's also important, for that matter, to the neighborhood branch librarian. That's the beauty of what you (we) do, as librarians: you bring the world to people!!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Words of wisdom for group blogs?

I was just having a discussion with a group of people yesterday about different ways to set up a group blog and manage content, posting, editorial direction, etc.

I know how we do it here at IAG (organized chaos!)...but how do you manage the group blogs you participate in? Are you assigned a *beat*? Is it willy-nilly? Is it "Alice posts every Friday." Or all of these things and then some?

Inquiring minds wants to know...