Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Nice Finale!

Two weeks ago, I did my last Perceptions Report program, a joint event for librarians from Temple, Penn, and Drexel Universities in Philadelphia.

This was an exciting event; according to Larry Alford, the Vice Provost for Libraries and University Librarian at Temple, this was the first time the three staffs had gotten together for a continuing education program. There was a palpable excitement in the room, and that sure fed my energy level, even at my advanced stage of dotage.

The question and answer session was terrific. In fact, I was asked a question I'd never been asked in 47 other events in 2006---"How can we use the Perceptions Report in our university fundraising?" This sparked a lot of discussion, but the main thrust was that having new services mean new opportunities to offer donors, like naming opportunities for group study rooms or learning commons.

This was also the first time in all those trips I couldn't fly home. The Philadelphia airport was socked in; it was murkier than a politician's alibi. I started talking to three other guys who were headed for Columbus and we decided to rent a car and drive home. We left the airport at 9:15 p.m. and pulled into the Hertz ramp at Port Columbus at 3:30 a.m.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Top 10 Gifts - 2016

From the innovative people at the Innovation Lab comes a list of presents via the crystal ball, from 2016.

1. Robot suit - kid getting bullied at school? Get one of these.
2. 3D printer - no worries about running out of candles. Just print some more.
3. Live Concrete - lighting the house is so passe. Light your concrete driveway.
4. Interactive fabric - wearing the same dress as your sister? Change the colour and pattern.
5. Holographic TV - Really get Lost.
6. Biometric locks - forget your keys? Just think about it.
7. Nano hard drive - millions and millions of GBs.
8. Remote controlled gardener - grow your own.
9. RFID geo-aware Fridge - Now, if only it would buy the milk.
10. Nanotreated kitcheware - Scrubby pads? What are they?

From all us here at IAG, to all of you, Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

OCLC Symposium in Seattle

Thanks to the 133 of you who have already registered for the Symposium at ALA MW which will be in the Metropolitan Ballroom, Sheraton Seattle, beginning at 1:30pm on Jan 19th. You all will definitely get stickers. What stickers? Well, you'll have to come if you want to find out and you'll have to register to make sure we have enough stickers.

And good news...wireless will be available for bloggers! I suppose I should say, in theory, wireless will be available because we've found that big windowless ballrooms in hotels are not always consistent in where wireless can be picked up. But make sure your battery is fully powered unless you want to sit against the wall.

If you've forgotten who is on our panel: Michael Stephens is moderating. danah boyd, Howard Rheingold and Marc Smith will be speaking about social networking and, I suspect, identity, community, privacy.

Blog Salon - Time and Place at ALA MW

After much to-ing and fro-ing, we have decided to hold the Blog Salon on Saturday evening, January 20th beginning at 7:30pm. It will be in the Blue Suite* at the Sheraton Seattle. We were going to have it on Friday but there are many evening events, some of which your IAG bloggers want to attend. And on Saturday, there will be a reception celebrating the life and achievements of Fred Kilgour. Here's the information from our website (please register!). Hope to see you all at both events.

5:30 - 7:00 pm, Westin Seattle, Grand Ballrooms I & II
Celebration of Life for Frederick G. Kilgour. Join us for brief remarks about the impact OCLC Founder Fred Kilgour had on contemporary librarianship and other remembrances about Mr. Kilgour. A wine and cheese reception will follow.

*If you've come to past blog salons, you'll recall that we don't know the actual room number of the OCLC suites until our intrepid conference staff arrive at the hotel. As soon as we have a number, we'll post it here. Hotel front desk staff will know too, and you can just ask for the "OCLC Blue Suite."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Low Disk Space: confessions of a digital packrat

Warning for anyone using a laptop: when the nifty little reminder warning comes up that says, "You're running low on disk space," and then, "You're running critically low on disk space," for the love of e-mail--ignore them at your peril.

All day today I've been wildly deleting team status spreadsheets from 2001, product introduction powerpoints from products that OCLC has long since discontinued selling, multiple random vacation photos...all to no avail.

I have used my memory so carelessly, I now don't have the requisite amount in order to delete the very large programs that I rarely use, such as Flash (not the player--the software to create Flash files.)

I feel like a prophet of PC user doom here...but let my very unproductive day be a lesson to us all! And does anyone have any hints besides deleting files and programs, emptying recycle bin/temp files, running ad clean up programs, compressing files?
(And do check out the fun "Are you a digital packrat?" quiz from microsoft.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ten bullets on online communities

Yesterday Danyel Fisher came to OCLC's Seattle office to talk to WebJunction staff about his work at Microsoft Research and the Community Technologies Group (we'll see his colleague Marc in Seattle next month). I made some comments about the first portion of his talk (all about community data analysis) here.

But the second part of Danyel's discussion was a list of ten things that he and his team had noticed, observed, or could suggest for online community management, based on their research in social networking. I admit freely that I am not into the whole top ten list thing, but I thought I would take this opportunity to share Danyel's list, with my short-hand commentary. Because social networking is the now thing, I wonder how these comments/observations will chance over the coming year?


1. know what your space is for - have a purpose
2. know what your space is doing - it's there, just pay attention
3. most people won't do much of anything - remember that 100:9:1 rule
4. let users know what they're doing - show them
5. top 10 lists are a game - people like to play with the data, such as, I can be the top poster if I just post 243 more replies in the next 3 hours!
6. critical mass is critical - you have to have some there there
7. bring in new people - show them around, help them out, welcome them
8. you don't own the community - it's a party in your living room
9. negative reputation doesn't work - it just pushes good people away, the bad guys like the negative attention and will go after it
10. it's all under the same brand - community is community is community; the action doesn't all have to happen in a single spot

It's "Top Trends" Time!

As Stephen Abram notes at his lighthouse, it is the time of year for all sorts of lists, and like him, I love them. Here's a good one to start me off meta-trendspotting (I just made that up...looking at trends in trendspotting). Read/Write Web has a long overview post titled 2006 Web Technology Trends and promises more in-depth posts and analyses. It's too long to summarize but starts out with "Undoubtedly 2006 has been the year of the social network..."

Considering there are about 6 or 8 announcements of funding for various social networking companies in the past couple of days via ....fer sure, eh?

SES Chicago and other distractions

"Helloooooo," she says, emerging from her rock. "Hellllooooo is anybody home?"
What a lovely rock it's been.

So in case you hadn't guessed it from the title, I've been in a week of Search Engine Marketing land at SES Chicago. I met lots of Googlers, Yahoos, Ask-ers and MSN AdCenter types. I rubbed shoulders with some of the smartest, savviest search engine marketers around.

Made some new Canadian, Australian, and Chinese friends. Learned a lot about Paid and Organic search. Will blog the coolest sessions for you, as holidays wind down. I will say this, for now: listening to the panel on Social Search talk about your company's need for trusted, authoritative information--I was about to fall out of my chair thinking about libraries.

We have such a valuable asset--trust and authority--now how can we use those characteristics to differentiate ourself in an online space?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Thriving Physical Library

If you search for "library", "donation" and "million" in Google you will see that libraries all over the place are receiving hefty donations that in many cases are for building, rebuilding or renovating libraries. Many donations seem to be in the 1-2 million dollar range, but there are a few that stand out because of their size. The University of Calgary, in Alberta, where I worked for over ten years recently received a $25 million dollar donation from a single source--that's Canadian dollars and translates to around $22 million US at today's exchange rate. This is in addition to $113 million in base funding from the provincial government. As an oil-rich (and natural gas rich) province Alberta is awash in money and it is good to see libraries sharing in the wealth.

Oddly enough (to me anyway), although the money is going towards building a physical library it is to be named the Taylor Family (after the donor) Digital Library. In an email to U of C staff, the President, Harvey Weingarten, wrote: "The Taylor Family Digital Library will allow the University to bring together a vast amount of information, and more importantly, the professional staff to help students find their way. It will offer more study space, more computer workstations, specialized training and seminar rooms, wireless Internet access and more than 50 rooms that can be used to discuss and present information. The Taylor Family Digital Library will result in a 30% increase in available study space on campus, the kind of space we need to further the opportunities for collaborative, multidisciplinary teaching, learning and research."

I can only imagine that despite the planned floor space of 42,000 metres the hope is that people will associate the "digital library" building with digital collections. But I am not sure why a physical building is needed to "bring together a vast amount of information" and I think this is mixing up the brand message in a way that doesn't really celebrate what will likely be an outstanding physical space, while also participating in the truly digital library initiative in Alberta, the Lois Hole Campus Digital Library.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Governing, December 2006

There are at least two articles in the December 2006 issue of Governing magazine that every public library director should read.

The first is the cover story, "Blackout," talks about the impact on the social weave of a city when its newspaper reduces local coverage. What can a library do to fill this gap in providing space for discussion and community building? How do you get the word out about what libraries are doing in an environment where most of the local media are owned and programmed somewhere else, like national radio or newspaper chains?

The second is the Tech Talk column by Ellen Perlman, in which she discusses the unheralded role of the public library as a first responder when a locality is faced with a disaster. Ms. Perlman refers to the recent report by John Carlo Bertot, Paul T. Jaeger, Lesley A. Langa, and Chuck McClure, that was cited in Library Journal in August.

Governing is an indispensable source for information on local government, and a limited number of subscriptions is available free for elected and career government officials. Information here.

New Trendwatching

If you think YouTube is the be-all-and-end-all of online user-contributed video, you might want to check out the current issue of Trendwatching. This issue, titled "Generation C(ash)," is all about some new web sites that are monetizing user-created content for the masses. It may also give you some ideas about what's happening in the latest wave of video social networking software.

Friday, December 08, 2006

PLA Service Responses - Your Input Sought

Hi, everyone---long time, no blog. Sorry. A combination of excessive road time, some lingering minor illnesses, and a 10-day Thanksgiving vacation knocked me way off schedule.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that the Public Library Association is updating its service responses, a process that began with Planning and Role-Setting for Public Libraries in 1987 and continued with Planning for Results in 1998 and 2001. June Garcia and Sandra Nelson, the consultants working on this project for PLA, have now identified 17 potential service responses for which public libraries could plan, based on input received at the 2006 ALA national conference and via the PLA blog. They're seeking comments and input on the list before January 1, 2007.

You'll find the list and a place to comment at this location on the PLA blog.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

To Your Scattered Bodies Go*

Chrystie recently posted about the report issued by the Center for the Digital Future (at the Annenberg School for Communication, which is at the University of Southern California) which is the seventh in its Digital Future Project. She noted one statistic from the report--that 43% of people who are members of online communities feel as strongly about their virtual communities as they do about their real-world ones.

Sherry Turkle's 1984 book The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit was the first book I read that suggested the computer was not an appliance but was part of ourselves--an extension of ourselves.

At the 2005 Annual meeting at OCLC CAPCON, Joel Foreman from George Mason University suggested that we computer users are already cyborgs in that our various computers are extensions of ourselves and without them we often feel as if part of us is missing.

But actually, I digress from what I set out to tell you about which is a very interesting and readable article by danah boyd, one of the stellar speakers at the OCLC Symposium at ALA Midwinter in Seattle. (danah just happens to be a Fellow at the Annenberg School.) The article is "Friends, Friendsters, and Top 8: Writing community into being on social network sites" published in the December issue of First Monday (the whole issue is well worth reading).

The editors introduce the issue with these words (which allow me to tie my ramblings here together): "Increasingly, who we are is represented by key pieces of information scattered throughout the data-intensive, networked world. Few spheres of our daily lives remain untouched by technologies of identity and identification: medical records are increasingly digitized and aggregated, loyalty cards collect shopping habits, Web cookies track online activities, electronic toll collection systems record vehicle locations, detailed user profile pages fill social networking Web sites, biometric scanners are in use at workplaces, banks, and airports. Online and off, the digitization of identity mediates our sense of self, social interactions, movements through space, and access to goods and services."

I think many librarians around my age would like to believe we are all still living in Kansas. I am becoming sure that "Kansas" stopped existing about 15 or 20 years ago and that we now live in a profoundly different place. I am not sure I buy Ray Kurzweil's idea of "The Singularity" but I agree with this from the Wikipedia entry on him: "Raymond Kurzweil states his belief that the future of humanity is being determined by an exponential expansion of knowledge, and that the very rate of the change of this exponential growth is driving our collective destiny irrespective of our narrow sightedness, clinging archaisms, or fear of change."

* The first of Philip José Farmer's Riverworld Saga series.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

eLearning Technology blog "visitor guide"

I don't regularly follow the eLearning Technology blog (gasp!) but I just learned about this fabulous visitor guide for new readers there (thanks to nancy at full circle). It's for readers that are new to the blog, introducing them to the author, the purpose of the blog, the most pertinent posts, articles and topics, how to interact with the content, etc.

It's a fabulous idea - especially for those of us who get to blogging and/or who have been blogging for awhile - because it's easy to lose sight of biblioblogosphere-forest through the mybiblioblog-trees. It's one way to keep a well established blog from sounding or feeling like you mean you've never been to my treehouse? where ya been? under a rock? It also occurs to me that this might be a great branding exercise, even if it's just for yourself or for internal sharing, especially if your blog has been up for awhile and it's time to reframe, repurpose or reset.

Seizing the Means of Production

In the Environmental Scan, we referred to "disaggregation" to describe the wide-spread phenomena of institutions, content, professionals and other mediating entities increasingly being removed or diminished in their interactions with end users and consumers. It's a theme that continues to interest me. Here, from the Center for Citizen Media blog is an article, "The demise of the Professional Photojournalist."

Bloggers participate in journalism. Flickr and YouTube contributers participate in photo- and videojournalism. Civilians catalog (a lot!) at LibraryThing.

Ten years ago, Derrick de Kerckhove, then and now the head of The McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto said, in an interview with Wired's Kevin Kelly:
"In a networked society, the real power shift is from the producer to the consumer, and there is a redistribution of controls and power. On the Web, Karl Marx's dream has been realized: the tools and the means of production are in the hands of workers."

So, perhaps "Web 2.0" is just this century's way of saying "seize the means of production." (and I discovered plenty of people writing about this on the Web...) However the phenomenon is described, it is clear that experts who manage and mediate content are required--and perhaps most importantly--desired less and less. Now, if only we could find a way to disaggreate expertise from the expert and send it out where its needed.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

virtual pals

This just in from BBC Technology News

A survey found 43% of online networkers from the US felt "as strongly" about their web community as they did about their real-world friends. It also revealed net-users had made an average of 4.6 virtual pals this year. The survey, from the US-based Center for the Digital Future, of 2,000 individuals forms part of a six-year study into attitudes to the web.

4.6, huh? That's a pretty good average acquisition of new pals. I certainly don't make that many new friends in my real-world community per year! But I would say that I make more than that in my virtual life. I guess that makes me more virtually oriented than real-world oriented. It's funny when you see yourself in a whole new light.

Google Answers

Also spotted by Carrie on today's Library Journal site:
Google Answers Calls It Quits

The article indicated virtual references from libraries might think about ways to fill the void. Maybe there is some talk-value/hay to be made from this, at your local level?

New library ROI study

One of our super-sleuthing, able-to-secure appointments, and locate-awesome-interviewees-in-the-nick-of-time, public relations professionals at OCLC, Carrie, just found another study that reinforces our Advocacy campaign to elected officials and library funders for public libraries that runs in Governing magazine currently in the US, and Canadian Public Administration and University Affairs in Canada. Here's the clip:

Libraries tout economic returns

Nine library systems in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties released a report Wednesday showing residents got an economic benefit of $3.81 for every $1 spent on libraries in 2005. [emphasis mine]

This was the first study that attempted to put a dollar figure on the value of public libraries in Southwest Ohio.

Read the full story in today's Cincinnati Enquirer.

Another interesting note: the entrepreneur that we interviewed and highlighted for our latest ad, Sam Holman, has recently had another interesting, out-of-the-box idea. It just goes to show, you start to change the world and then it seems, you just can't help yourself!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Keeping Computers Running - The MaintainIT project

Franziska Marks from the MaintainIT project asked me if I would blog about this worthwhile effort and I am happy to point you to it. From the website: "The MaintainIT Project is a three-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We are working with public libraries to identify best practices of technical support for public access computers (PACs). The Project works with libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada, while focusing on libraries in the 18 states that are receiving the first round of hardware upgrade grants from the Foundation. MaintainIT is a project of TechSoup, a nonprofit with extensive experience helping other nonprofits use technology effectively."

They are focusing, at the moment, on success stories from small, rural libraries so if you or you know of someone who might have a good story, practice, tip, or technique around how best to support public access computing in these libraries, submit your story or spread the word.

Our colleague Joe Anderson from WebJunction is on the steering committee as is the awsome Helene Blowers, from the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Public libraries and funding

So I'm part of a team that is thinking about public libraries and funding. Right now my head is in the realm of bonds, levies, millages, etc that communities pass in order to do library building campaigns or special projects.

If you had to guess, why do you think people support these types of projects? What are some of the reasons they might NOT vote/support for them?

Any communities that have run up against this issue?
(I've read about Lawrence, KS and Minneapolis, MN, among others...)

Does the size of the community make a difference?

Curious to see what you think.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Room to Read

John Wood
I am so fired up. Yesterday coming home from Thanksgiving travels I read Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. I loved it. Every minute. Of course, it helps that the author, John Wood, used to be in technology marketing. And now he's building libraries. Okay, okay--so those ARE two of my favorite topics of conversation.

But mainly I love the way he thinks. Every situation he describes, he's always thinking about the consumer, the other person, and the way a message is going to be perceived by that listener. Explaining What's In It For Me (WIIFM) to your audience--be it the government of China or a 10 year-old boy--has been writ large on this guy's psyche.

He's an entrepreneur extraordinaire. And he thinks BIG. For anyone who's dreamed of becoming Mother Theresa but doesn't know where to start...this book lets you dream vicariously and then still realize you can contribute AND keep your day job.

There were also a couple of sections that existing libraries may want to note. One was about communicating your results to potential funders. The idea is that people have thousands of charities to choose from. Give people every reason possible to pick yours.

Here's the killer quotation, IMO:
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work."
--Thomas Edison

Check out the video, Web site and Room to Read itself.

What an inspiring way to come back to work after a long weekend!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

structure and innovation

This is fascinating. My new friends over at social signal just recorded an interview/dialog between Corrie Fisher (Gates Foundation) and Jed Miller (ACLU) about how organization structure influences web strategy.

Does your organization structure encourage or inhibit web innovation? Um. Yeah.

overcoming mistrust

I'm doing my homework on Howard so that I hopefully have something intelligent to ask when he visits Seattle for the OCLC Symposium at Midwinter. Following is a little tidbit I found in his rapid decision making paper:

In cooperative strategy, creating a "“shadow of the future" is a concept for thinking about how to create trust among strangers. The notion is to aggregate cues and indicators from the present and past that will reduce uncertainty about another personÂ’s future action. The auction site eBay does this by providing a rating system for sellers. Buyers rate their experience with sellers, so that prospective buyers have some indication of how a particular seller performed. If rating, ranking, and reputation systems can be created for other kinds of contexts, they can be used to help reduce the fear and mistrust among strangers in quick-response situations. For example, if organizations made peer-based ratings for key indicators of cooperation available companywide, individuals could use these indicators as a proxy for direct experience. Also, strategies that leverage the transitive nature of trust can help reduce the risk and uncertainty of interactions with strangers. Making social networks and degrees of separation visible could serve as proxies for how a person is connected to others with whom there may be a great deal of trust.

Let's read that one sentence again:

...if organizations made peer-based ratings for key indicators of cooperation available companywide, individuals could use these indicators as a proxy for direct experience.

So what he's suggesting is that if we can figure out how to indicate to one another where cooperation has successfully taken place, we can use those indications to facilitate quick decision making, rather than having to rely on our own personal experiences. Developing systems that help us communicate those indicators is key.

WebJunction has been grappling with the concepts of trust and cooperation in our online community since we opened our message boards to public posting in May of 2003. The first day we had cceller post for the first time. He has since posted nearly 200 questions and answers spanning the last three years. Though we didn't know who "cceller" was when he started, he has come to be known as the Chad, the Automation Services Manager in a North Carolina library. We now know his homepage URL and the things he cares about and works on in his library. Over time, the number of posts next to his name and the amount of personalized information he has shared with us has created a trusted peer-based resource for the library community.

In absence of the time it takes to read posts and get connected to an online community over time, it's nice to be able to communicate quickly whether or not newcomers can and should trust the advices of our members on our message boards. The only such indicator that we currently offer on the message boards (technically speaking) is the number of posts that show up next to the member's handle. This indicates the amount of time any one member has spent in the community and can be used as a rapid decision-making tool. But, has it been? And how do newcomers to a virtual social networking space know that the hundreds of posts that so-n-so has posted aren't spam, or flames, or trolls? Are there now better systems for quickly identifying whether a community-based source is worth hanging our decisions or actions on? What are they?

I still have a lot of catching up to do on Howard's work in this space, so I'm not quite ready to say this is my question for him yet. But, I thought I'd share where I'm at today...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Top Ten Research Tools

This list from CNet came out a month ago but I missed it until today. An interesting list that has only one "traditional" type resource on it which would be an official part of a library's collection: The 2007 Encyclopedia Britannica. Not one of the others is and so, supports the data in our Perceptions report that very very few people begin research in libraries, with library-supplied resources. The academic librarians among you (at least) will wince at this sentence, "These digital tools can keep you on track--whether you're working on a middle-school science fair, wrapping up a graduate degree, or pursuing a hobby."

Aside from the Britannica the other resources are:

Rather than cursing outrageous fortune and trying to beat these tools, we all should be coming up with ways to move our resources (people and content) into these tools as fast as possible--no, faster.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The 3rd Symposium Panelist for ALA MW

Oh boy, I'd have to go to the Symposium even if I wasn't one of the deciders. The third panelist will be Marc Smith of Microsoft Research. Marc is the Senior Research Sociologist, heading up the Community Technologies Group. Read about him, and his work here.

What a lineup! Howard Rheingold, danah boyd, Marc Smith and moderator Michael Stephens.

And I've asked for wireless Internet access to be available in whatever ballroom we are in...could hardly have a session on social networking in a dead space, could we? Which reminds me: the whole style of panels is not exactly the embodiment of a culture of participation. People take turns talking at you, the audience. You get to ask questions at some point. Granted, things are changing as bloggers provide commentary in real-time at many events, but it's unusual for this to be incorporated into the presentations. Does anyone have ideas, suggestions as to how we can make the symposium more network-y, more 2.0, more participatory for the 300 or so attendees?

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Boy and his Robot

"In a matter of a moment,
Lost till the end of time.
It's the evening of another day,
And the end of mine."
"Some Other Time" - Alan Parsons Project (Web site ; Wikipedia entry. Song by Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons. From the album, I Robot [AMG entry ; Wikipedia entry])

In celebration of national Children’s Book Week in the U.S., I’m delighted to add my voice to those remembering favorite books of our youth. A good story is one of the most welcome and enduring gifts any human can give another.

Books, reading, writing, music, drama, and libraries were integral parts of my childhood. My mother, a school teacher by training, made sure that books and reading were part of every day. And like Alane’s godmother [post], my mother often delivered an original story at bedtime, usually an adventure of the whimsical Princess Tannenbaum, a character invented originally to entertain my older sister. I would in time become a voracious reader, and I can remember fondly selecting and checking out armloads of books in my elementary school library, and the nearby public library. For several of my elementary school summers I would accompany my mother to story times weekly at the public library. More often than not these were story times that she delivered (it was a small public library branch with only a part-time children’s librarian).  

I remember so many wonderful books, and have no doubt forgotten far more. But one that I have special memories of was The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey. Told in the first person, the story is a suspenseful tale of a young boy and his robot, Rex, who become separated, and their break-the-rules quest to be reunited. Moon colonies, robots, youthful rebellion, chase scenes – what more is needed to whet the appetite of a young boy? I recall being attracted to book because of its cover (a running robot, of course). No doubt my first foray into sci-fi was made under the influence of my comic-book-reading, sci-fi-consumed, older brother, a loyal watcher of the original Star Trek. Ever has he been a bad influence. And long have been the pleasant hours I’ve idled away reading science fiction including reading everything I could find by authors like Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, and Robert A. Heinlein.

So may children everywhere read this week, and every other week of the year!

[Image: A full-size model of a robot from the animation Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Wikipedia entry ; graphic novel version) on top of the Ghibli Museum (Wikipedia entry) in Mitaka, Tokyo]

More childhood books

Okay, my favorite childhood book is The Angry Moon by William Sleator.
It is already out of print , but if there is still a copy of it at the Alva Public Library, it will have my fingerprint DNA all over it.

In fact, now that I think about it--we never actually owned that book. I just ALWAYS got it from the library. The children's librarian there was the best reader's advisory service ever. Maybe that's where I got my "I love the library" gene.

I bought my Mom a copy of the book for Christmas a couple of years ago. To me, it was like I was giving her a sacred piece of my childhood back. To her, I think it symbolized just how looooong ago it was that she was tucking us in, reading us stories, reading us more stories...

I also loved Encyclopedia Brown stories. My Grandmother had me read all the Old Mother West Wind stories. And we heard ALL the Just So stories on cassette.
Just last night I was looking at my cat, who wanted to go outside in the rain. I couldn't help but think of the Cat who walks alone, with her "wet, wild lone and all places are alike to her."

Who else at OCLC is celebrating Children's Book week this week?

Walt Crawford

Stu Weibel
The Dewey crowd (Joan, Juli, Giles and Winton)
Also, the

The Insider Travel blog
Donna Baumbach
Jenica Rogers
Add your name to the list!

The (Young) User Is Not Broken

With a nod to Karen's now famous June post, The User Is Not Broken, I can offer the cold comfort that we in Libraryland are not alone in the efforts of some in our community to blame library users for not conforming to our world--and in particular, for some librarians being really really annoyed with young people for not being just like "us."

John Naughton is a columnist at The Observer, and gave, as he put it, a rant to the attendees at the Society of Editors conference on November 12. It's quite funny in a rueful, rant-y sort of way so read the whole thing, but this excerpt will tell you why I connect it to Karen's, er, rant (and I mean that in the nicest way):

" any other industry, the discovery that your potential future customers weren't interested in buying your product would prompt an investigation into whether there was something wrong with the product. But what one hears - still - from the newspaper industry is that there's something wrong with the customers. And what one finds, on closer examination, is that the industry seems determined either to insult or to ignore them (my emphasis) [...] These kids have been socially conditioned in a universe that runs parallel to the one inhabited by most folks in the media business. They've been playing computer games of mind-blowing complexity forever. They're resourceful, knowledgeable and natural users of computer and communications technology. They're Digital Natives - accustomed to creating content of their own - and publishing it [...] These are the future, my friends. They're here and living among us. They're not very interested in us, and I'm not sure I blame them. The best we can hope for is that one day they may keep us as pets."

Thanks to the APF discussion list for pointing to Naughton's speech.

Childhood Books

I was born in London, England, and did not move to Canada until I was ten, so my reading choices were formed by the Britain of the 50s and 60s. There wasn't much transparency in cultural borders then. There was BBC 1 and BBC 2 on the television and books were written, for the most part, by British authors. Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, Arthur Ransome and Enid Blyton. Rupert Bear and Tintin. I loved them all.

But especially I liked Swallows and Amazons by Ransome, and the Famous Five series by Blyton (there are 21 books in the series so I am linking to the first one....and have you noticed that some Wikipedia articles have links to

Enid Blyton wrote books that appealed to different aged children....I read Noddy books when I was young, graduated to the Magic Faraway Tree series, and then to the Famous Five and Secret Seven series. Actually, I can't remember at all if that's the sequence in which I read these books. It's very likely that I re-read them many times, and as I was the oldest, I probably read the easier books to my siblings. I do recall having conversations with my sister Kath about which were the most desirable of the magic countries at the top of the tree. I am pretty sure we favoured The Land of Birthdays, and The Land of Take What You Want.

Looking back, clearly I liked series, recurring characters, and fantastical and improbable adventures. A mixture of the comfortable and the impossible. This persisted in later reading interests: the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, the Narnia books, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and most mysteries with recurring main characters, although sometimes they die which is traumatic.

I started reading the Narnia books when I was about 8, after my godmother Sybil, read The Silver Chair to me and Kath at bedtime during one long visit to us in Scotland. But Syb gave Kath and me a gift none of the rest of you had or can ever have: for many years, she told us stories while we were in the bathtub, about Herbert (pronounced 'erbert) the goldfish who went down "the plughole" (the drain in the bathtub) and had many adventures. She might have made them up on the spot, and never has written them down, as far as I know.

So, here's to children's authors, published and unpublished, famous and not, everywhere. Thank you for all the happy hours spent in the bathtub and reading under the bedcovers by flashlight, caught in the magic of other lives and other places.

Happy Children's Book Week

Today, a lot of us are blogging about the books that influenced us as children, in honor of Children's Book Week. Frankly, I've had a heck of a time coming up with an entry. My fellow "IAG" blogger Eric suggested that my favorite had to be "Curious George." Given that this was one of two hated nicknames my so-called friends tagged on me when I was a kid (the other being Georgie Porgie), you can understand why I declined.

The fact is, I don't remember a lot of children's books. Part of this is due to my advancing age, but part of it is due to the fact that I skipped directly to adult books. I read 1984 for the first time when I was in eighth grade, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a freshman in high school, Slaughterhouse Five when I was about 14. I got thrown out of Boy Scouts for reading a Perry Mason novel with a racy title (The Case of the Vagabond Virgin) on a camping trip.

There are two books I do remember from childhood that had an impact. When I was 8, I became an altar boy. During one of the holy seasons, we had long stretches where we altar boys had to be in observance at the altar. There were no services at the time, just me, the Eucharist, the smell of incense, and a huge, empty Gothic church. We weren't allowed to bring our secular reading material to church (Spiderman not being a favorite of Father Beachler), so we had to read the religious books. One of them was Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler and others. This book convinced me that I was never going to lead a saintly enough life to get into heaven, making my decision to leave the church several years later much easier. On the upside, the lovingly illustrated martyrdom stories were harrowing enough to pave the way for my future love of Ambrose Bierce and Charles Addams.

The other book I remember is the one that started a love of science fiction that lasted for several decades: Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine, by Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams. Danny was a boy scientist who invented amazing machines and had terrific adventures, sort of a pre-pubescent MacGyver.

I've tried to get my grandson Jake interested in the classic children's books as he develops his reading skills, and he is now proficient in Green Eggs and Ham and a few others. I guess I am going to have to develop a love of children's literature by proxy. But actually, I'm looking forward to introducing Jake to Morticia, Gomez, and Uncle Fester...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

online community management course

This is cool - it's an online community management course from Rawn Shah (IBM)) and the University of Arizona's MIS program. Take a look at the syllabus and course topics - it's the stuff I'm thinking about everyday! My oh my, what I wish I had learned in library school...

Friday, November 03, 2006

10 Hot Trends

The Innovation Lab is in Denmark and refers to itself as "the Nordic observation post for the technologies of the future." Aside from the interesting trends they identify that I list below, they also have a storytime once a month at the Århus Public Library (which is, by the way, a very cool site) called "Tales from the Future" which are the free public versions of work they do. They say, "Recent popular topics includes cybersex and digital art."

So, here is IL's "Hotlist" (do they know Michael Stephens?) and I am excerpting so go there and read the whole thing because it's worth it.

These are important things to be thinking about because in one way or another, in lesser and large ways, these will all have a profound impact on libraryland.

1. CUSTOMERMADE When customers and users "infiltrate" the product-development work of companies or organisations and begin to design and create their own products and services.

2. GEO-AWARENESS The filling station knows you're on your way, and – via the navigating system in your car or your mobile – it will send you an offer on the petrol, and at the same time it will advertise the dish of the day in the station's cafeteria.

3. THING CONNECTION Thing Connection is the keystone of the 4A concept – Anytime connection, Anywhere connection, Anything connection – by Anyone. Otherwise known as ”An internet of things” – in other words: when things communicate with each other.

4. VIRTUAL WORLDS Welcome to another reality! Close to 400,000 people have already settled in the virtual world Second Life. Here, BBC has arranged a major concert, and Harvard University has held a conference. There are more alternative digital worlds in the offing…

5. WEB APPLICATIONS - THE NEXT GENERATION The Web, and not the PC, constitutes the new centre of the universe. This entails a shift from software to web-based applications where the overt and the social will come to play an increasingly substantial part.

6. DIGITAL PRODUCT PLACEMENT Digital and virtual advertisement pillars. The digital billboard of the future will be blank space – to be filled in with messages directed at specific target groups. Thus, a major sports event attracting different viewer groups will, simultaneously, be showing ads for the local bakers as well as for an international online bank – and on two different TV stations.

7. WEB VIDEO Show me – see me! At first we had Google in the lead. Then they were overtaken by MySpace. Today they have both been left behind by the video-sharing web site YouTube, which is right now the most visited site in the world. Moving pictures has taken pole position.

8. MIXED REALITY The fusion of digital, virtual and physical products is near. The remote control of tomorrow will juggle the programmes; and, at the smallest flick of your wrist, your new telephone will scroll through the menu – and then it can also be used in a virtual game of table tennis .

9. EXPANDED SEARCH Search engines are becoming more than just a match of words and numbers in a colossal database. More "intelligent", meaningful and automatic searches are starting to gain foothold.

10. HUMANITARIAN TECHNOLOGY Profit-generating technologies and humanitarian aid in one! Too good to be true? Probably – but it's nevertheless a reality. A perspicacious neo-philanthropy is immanent.

More Mexico

Try your best to forget yesterday,
A little bit of sun,
Without the rain,
Now there's nothing in your way.
Don't Look Back” - Thalía [Web site ; Wikipedia ; myspace]

In a prior post I recounted a recent trip to Manzanillo, Mexico for the Dublin Core conference. My experience of Mexico, however, did not stop there. Stu Weibel and I traveled to Mexico City to make presentations to librarians at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) [Wikipedia entry] better known by its acronym, UNAM.

Mexico City (Ciudad de México, México D.F) [Wikipedia entry] is the oldest (founded 1325), highest (7350 ft. above sea level) metropolis on the North American continent, and the most populous city (22 million people) in the Western Hemisphere and among the largest cities in the world. Sometimes referred to as the “Manhattan of Latin America,” Mexico City has the usual big city stuff (e.g., traffic, skyscrapers), but also offers uniquely Mexico City attributes such as a vibrant street vendor culture, and a user-friendly and high-volume-yet-efficient metro system. The country and the city have a remarkable history which is on display in many ways including in a number of excellent museums. Stu and I were particularly impressed by National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropología) [Wikipedia entry].

UNAM’s main campus is located in University City (Ciudad Universitaria) [Wikipedia entry], home to 1968 Olympic stadium and the amazing Central Library that boasts the world’s largest mural on its exterior [picture accompanying this post]. UNAM has some 140 libraries and provides education services to more than 500K students (and no, that’s not a typo – 500,000!).

Stu and I made three presentations to about 60 UNAM staff who listened to spoken English, but were able to view accompanying Powerpoints with text chiefly in Spanish (courtesy of translation work by our OCLC Latin America and the Caribbean colleagues), an arrangement that seemed to work well for all concerned. I presented selected environmental scan findings (this version included some Mexico-related material) and college students’ perceptions-of-libraries’ data (ppt as pdf: English, Spanish), and also presented new, original research by Brian Lavoie on Mexico- and Spanish language-related aspects of WorldCat (ppt: English, Spanish). Stu delivered an engaging tour of key players, trends, and technologies that are shaping our experiences with digital systems and content and will significantly impact how libraries must deliver services in the future (ppt: English, Spanish).

The UNAM staff listened with interest, asked insightful questions, and seemed generally acquainted with many of the systems, services, players Stu and I referenced. From comments, the audience seemed especially engaged by the connecting-of-the-dots pieces and implications we both (Stu in particular) drew. The WorldCat analysis also garnered interest (and I’m pleased to report that Brian has continued pursuing related data mining work).

Thanks are due to UNAM (especially Director General Silvia González Marín and her colleague José Octavio Alonso Gamboa for the invitation and arrangements) for hosting us. And special thanks go to our colleagues, Tim Rapp, Director of OCLC Latin America and the Caribbean, José Antonio Yáñez, Director of OCLC México, and Patricia Ramírez, also of OCLC México, for all their work to arrange the event, accompanying Stu and I to UNAM [the five of us pictured here], and for sharing their love of Mexico with us.  

I find myself much smitten with Mexico. I have a found a jewel on the United States’ southern border, and now long to return.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

ALA Midwinter Events

It's back!! We will be hosting a Blog Salon at ALA Midwinter in Seattle. It will be on Friday, January 19th at the Sheraton Hotel in the "Blue Suite." Should we start it earlyish, say 5:30pm, so people can go for dinner afterwards? Or should we start it at 7, so people can go for dinner first?

If you've attended a Salon before you will recall that the suite number in the hotel is unknown to us until we all arrive in Seattle in January. We will tell you here what the room number is then, and the hotel front desk will also know. So, if you're coming to ALA MW, and you are a blogger, or a blogger wannabe, or know a blogger, leave us an RSVP here at It's All Good so we know how many cocktail sausages to order!

The second event I want you to know about is the OCLC Symposium. It will be on Friday, January 19th also, 1:30pm-4:30pm. I am not sure yet exactly where it will be held but will post that here when I do. We don't have all our panelists lined up yet, but we have some people and I am very pleased by who has agreed to come and speak.

But first, the topic! The title is "Who's Watching Your Space?" and our speakers are going to talk about social media and social networking, what these are, the history of social networking, how they have changed and might change society, and more specifically, what a culture of participation means for libraries and other public institutions.

And I am really, really pleased that danah boyd and Howard Rheingold will speak to symposium attendees. Howard is an éminence grise in the area of social networking, and the author of Smart Mobs (which is also the name of his blog). danah has done and is doing significant research on Facebook and MySpace and might be described as an éminence verte , given she is much younger than I am! Usually, the moderator for the symposium is an OCLC person, but this time we decided to to give our audience a break from our faces, so the gracious and inimitable Michael Stephens has agreed to moderate this panel.


More when I know more....

Discovering Mexico

No te puedo olvidar,
Contigo descubrí,
Tantas cosas que hay en mí.*
“Nadie Podrá” – Jesse & Joy [Web site ; myspace]

My colleague Stu Weibel and I journeyed recently to Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico for DC-2006: the International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications, the sixth annual conference in this series, and the eleventh year of Dublin Core-related gatherings that began with a modest invitational meeting of fifty experts at OCLC in 1995. The conference has now become one of the – if not the – premiere international conferences on metadata applications.

Our hosts, the University of Colima (Universidad de Colima), chose the warm and inviting Pacific coast setting of Manzanillo for the event. This area has a history that spans from Hernán Cortés’ original vision of the port of Manzanillo as a gateway to Asia (his plan: riches from Cathay would land in Manzanillo, be transported overland to Veracruz, and from there shipped to Spain – a vision briefly realized then abandoned for political and practical reasons) to fleeting celluloid fame as the beach on which Bo Derek ran in one of the few, remembered scenes from the 1979 hit film, “10.”

Like its recent predecessors, DC-2006 combined presentations of scholarly papers, working group meetings, tutorials, and opportunities for mingling and making informal connections with some of the best and brightest in the field. (Note: Tutorials and presentations are posted here; Papers are published in print and will also appear on the Web; Working groups reports will appear on the Dublin Core Web site). And as with prior conferences, conference-goers were treated to something uniquely local and truly world class – at DC-2006, courtesy of organizers Lourdes Feria and Javier Solorio of the University of Colima, we were invited to witness a special performance of the world-renowned Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad de Colima, a very talented group who alternated choreographed native dances, singing of traditional folks songs, and Mariachi music. The outdoor performance was marred only by the intrusion of a powerful rain storm that abruptly – to our collective disappointment – cut short a truly wonderful performance.

Stu has posted commentary (Stu’s posts here and here) on some of the major themes, findings and takeaways from the event including two posts on “data modeling,” a phrase to chase away the timid and solicit hair-splitting dialogue among the initiated. Wishing to avoid either response from IAG’s readers, I would suggest the things-to-know are twofold:
  • At its best, a data model is a well-thought-out and documented world view paired with rules of engagement. A commonly-adopted data model enables diverse parties to exchange, build, extend data and services without the risk of being Balkanized. It’s a good thing.

  • The DCMI Abstract Model (DCAM), a data model of the best sort, is gaining adherents, and in presentations at DC-2006 was variously suggested to have significant potential value to software developers, and was even put forward as a data model that might usefully inform the next generation of cataloging rules during a special session (see notes) on RDA (Resource: Description and Access, the in-development successor to AACR2)

Other presentations included a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight into work on the Archimedes Palimpsest (i.e. a project recovering the text of a work by Archimedes that exists only in ghostly form, if you will, in paper that was repurposed for other text (see Stu’s post here)). And I suspect many IAG readers would have enjoyed – as I did – being part of the lively, part face-to-face, part virtual “Special session on Social Networks: Tagging and DC metadata” that included podcast presentations (all three excellent – see notes and links here) with the presenters joining the discussion remotely via conference call. It would seem that more than a little evidence is emerging that users can contribute very usefully to the metadata flow.

All-in-all DC-2006 was an excellent conference, and I’m delighted my first trip to Mexico coincided with Dublin Core’s first meeting in Mexico. DC 2007 will be in August in Singapore, hosted by the National Library Board in cooperation with Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information of Nanyang Technological University. Mark your calendars.

[*English translation of the lyrics to “No One Will Be Able,” courtesy of my colleague Larry Olszewski:
I can’t forget you,
With you I found out,
So many things that there are in me.]

[Pictured: the Sailfish sculpture by the artist Sebastian in Manzanillo (Centro)]

five years in

This is a shameless promotional link to my libraries build communities blog, where I've posed a few questions to librarians who are between five and ten years into their careers. Please, pass the word. (Thank you.)

pulling next into now

A long time ago I interviewed for a "personal librarian" job with "digerati" celeb and futurist Linda Stone, who I've just learned has put up a wiki on continuous partial attention. Different from multi-tasking, continuous partial attention apparently feeds our desires to not miss anything. In "small doses" it's considered a "healthy behavior" but when we're always only paying partial attention, we "contribute to a feeling of overwhelm, over-stimulation and to a sense of being unfulfilled." Add it all up and we have some decisions to make about our place in these cultural changes.

Needless to say, I did not get the job. Perhaps it's because I haven't quite figured out how to do something "continuously" yet also in "small doses". It is tricky, isn't it? But I like the idea of trying to find that balance where my own techno-attention is concerned. If only I knew now what Linda knows next.

Media Education for the 21st Century

The title of this post is the subtitle of what promises to be a most interesting paper on digital media and learning, released by the MacArthur Foundation. Henry Jenkins, who is Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the primary author and the full title is "Confronting the Challenge of Particpatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century." Download it here.

The paper is part of a $50 million initiative by the MacArthur Foundation to "help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. Answers are critical to developing educational and other social insitutions that can meet the needs of this and future generations."

Well, that would include the library community, wouldn't it? Which makes this report and all the collateral of the initiative critically important for librarians. I'll just say that again a bit louder...CRITICALLY IMPORTANT FOR LIBRARIANS.

The initiative's blog, Spotlight, is here.
Henry Jenkins' blog is here.
Mimi Ito, Howard Rheingold, and danah boyd have all commented on this.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Garden of Forking Paths

Karen Schneider, in a comment on Alice's post below this one, asks for more possibly wacky ideas about what libraries might be. Actually, she didn't ask for wacky ideas....we just know some people will think they are. Well, I often have my own wacky ideas but I am wacked out from a month of packing up, packing and unpacking in a move from one part of Ohio to another (which is why I haven't been "here"...not that any of you noticed, I am sure!).

So, as a public service then, and so I can reappear here at IAG without much effort, and because it's a rainy Friday here in Ohio, I am expropriating/giving you a couple of ideas from a colleague--unnamed because he wasn't writing for you.

After came out with its story on the top earning dead celebrities (Kurt Cobain edged out Elvis Presley): How about "creating a page on a library's website that has links into content for each of the top earning dead celebs. Top Dead Celebs week at the library... I'm pretty sure it would generate some buzz, and probably get me fired."

Alice envisions library about libraries with no books? "The great thing about the books (and other media) that have NOT been written -- the ones that are users are working on and want to do something with in the future -- is that they don't require, at the time of their greatest need (the writing, editing, research, storage, reference, metatagging, etc), a physical library space.

Which is what will be going away as books get digitized. They need services to help their ideas move from their ephemeral, "mind-spaces" out into the world. Which is what librarians have always really been doing. It's just that they've been doing it in big, brick buildings, using paper and pens and carrels...I need help writing "The Book of Me?" Whether that's meant to be casual (a list of recipes because I cook; places I visit and itineraries; my genealogical quest; children's books I love that I want to keep track of for my niece; the best ways to fold paper; news stories related to the Armenian genocide), or formal (a PhD thesis I want to scrupulously bibliograph; a blog I want to use to market my business; my poetry online; a graphic novel) -- it's MY BOOK.

It's not in the library, yet. And it won't be, 99.5% of the time, because, right now... we only "library-ize" the books after they come out and an elite corps of post-production gurus give it a thumbs-up. But just like the printing press enabled about a million times more books to be "book-worthy" than were the case beforehand, so the Web and dirt-cheap server space makes MY BOOK, well... save-worthy, I guess. And if the library isn't going to help me catalog it and put it somewhere where I and others might get some benefit...
Google will."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Magic 8 Ball Musings

Last Friday we were having a round robin e-mail string about big ideas/what's next for libraries--I started calling it the Magic 8 Ball Idea of the Day.

George wondered if big nonfiction collections in medium-sized libraries was the next thing to go. That it is valuable space now devoted to dead shelving--and it could be used a community space.

ThenI chimed in:
I’d like to see mini-library outposts set up (whether it’s a part-time staffed laptop, kiosk or something else…) in pharmacies, hospital waiting rooms, day care centers, grocery stores, coffee shops (gasp), real estate agent offices, hardware stores….

Anywhere where a general time-crunched public might find additional value in having an information professional help them find materials not instantly available in Google. And then they could model good online seeking habits to the community. It drives awareness of the online options (and home delivery!) and invites people to re-envision the library space as vibrant community space instead of silent book space.

We’ll get there eventually--one positive interaction at a time!

From where I sit, it sounds like we don’t necessarily need more people using the library space necessary (usage is up overall, from what I understand)—but realizing the library has relevant online resources to a primarily middle-class, online-living folk…(who may be more likely to fund the public good….)

Doable? Crazy? Impractical? Uncomfortable? (Scary?)
Good. That means we should definitely do it.
What's your Magic 8 Ball Idea this Friday?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Community College Library of the Future

Community Colleges have been on my mind lately. We've been talking about eAudiobooks for academic libraries--what content 4 year urban institutions need, what content private suburban/rural colleges might need, and what community colleges might need.

Not surprisingly, we thought all three groups like the idea of eAudiobooks. (We surmised all of this, we did not particularly go hunting for quantitative/qualitative data yet.) Then the question of content came up--and we realized that Community Colleges might stand to be the biggest winner with eAudiobooks in academic libraries thus far.

To make a gross generalization, community colleges typically have a higher population of students who commute, who have full-time jobs/kids/families, and who may not speak English as their native tongue.

For this group, eAudiobooks seemed just about perfect: you can listen to them while you drive, you have have your kids listen to them with you while you cook dinner, maybe you can listen to them at your job! And community colleges, we wondered, may have a propensity to interact with the local community a bit more, too? Possibly.

Anyway, all this brainy thinking made yesterday's Chronicle blog post stand out, the Wired Campus, Community College Library of the Future. Plus it's set in Dayton, Ohio, which means that I could go visit at some point when I am back in Ohio. (Which is set for this week, in fact!)

Speaking of, everyone gearing up for Members Council? There is going to be a live Web cast of the Celebration of the Life of Fred Kilgour on Tuesday. If you're not coming to Dublin, you can still participate! Test your system now--no registration required.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

bottom-up site redesign

One of the highlights of my first day at Internet Librarian (il2006) was the session "Bottom-Up Web Redesign" kicked off by Jeff Wisnewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh. Jeff started off his presentation by saying something like:

Typical, typical...
Current Site + Committee + New Colors + Usability Testing = GREAT NEW SITE!!!

Sound familiar? I was very pleased, then, with our recent progress at WebJunction towards engaging our users, members and partners with our current site refresh project. In short, many hundreds of readers are following along with us as my colleagues and I blog about the process, hundreds of interested folks actually helped us reorganize the site through a virtual card sort, and a smaller number of them have commented on the contents of our homepage and secondary pages and site map. And, we've been able to do it all virtually.

As I listened to Jeff and his co-presenters run through the guiding principles of user-driven redesign, and to their selected tools for managing such a process, I actually felt quite proud of what we're doing in our online community - maybe it's even a model of sorts. So, I'm giving myself and everyone at WJ (all 22,000 of us, card-sorters or not) a moment of pause so we can pat ourselves on the back. I think we're doing a cool, maybe even radical thing here. Thanks to everyone who has participated with us - and when you're ready to put your library's website to the task of a redesign - consider engaging your users at the design & info-architecture phases - at the beginning and throughout your process. Although we're not quite finished yet, it's looking like we're all going to benefit from the wisdom of this crowd. And I'd love it if we could collect some more stories along these lines.

Oh, and one other tidbit from Jeff's presentation: the single most important factor for users in your site's credibility? Look and feel - by a long shot. Organization, usefulness, and even accuracy are all in there, but site design should not be skimped upon. Makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, we do it, so why wouldn't they?

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Starbucks Aesthetic

An article from the New York Times yesterday that chronicles the hip cultural-consumer attention of has solidified enough to be termed an aesthetic.

Here's the line that sent shivers up my spine:

"The book publishing industry could benefit from such a tastemaking force, said Laurence Kirshbaum, founder of the LJK Literary Management agency. 'One of the big problems in the book industry is that outside of Oprah, there’s no really widely accepted authority to recommend books,' Mr. Kirshbaum said."
(Emphasis mine. Note Kirshbaum wrote Is the Library Burning in 1969.)

No widely-accepted authority to recommend books? I know reader-advisories have been on the decline, but is anyone embarrassed by this quotation? Why isn't the library top of mind for him? Or do we want it to be? Hmmm...

Now, I can tell you that GenX and GenY may know Starbucks and identify the Starbucks aesthetic--but they're looking for something more authentic.

(Not that Starbucks is necessarily inauthentic but it is definitely a calculatedly authentic environment.) My point is, perhaps your library might be that more authentic place--even as you incorporate the smart thinking that has ushered in the age of the recognizable Starbucks aesthetic into your library.

Whew for all that Adorno reading ten years ago!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

DDR helps YA librarians promote active lifestyles

Have had a wonderful trip to Florida, Illinois and New York and am now back home. Have waded through the administrative parts of being gone (paying overdue bills, such fun) and happened on an article in Young Adult Library Services (the YALSA publication) from Beth Gallaway and Alissa Lauzon about DDR, which stands for Dance Dance Revolution.

I distantly knew there were mats involved in some games, thanks to Jenny Levine's photos periodically, but for some reason all the pieces of the puzzle hadn't clicked until today. See for yourself how it works on YouTube.

The other reason it seems so timely to me right now is I just heard about the Verb campaign, a multi-year campaign put on by the CDC to help reduce childhood obesity. A chilling statistic: this is the first generation of children that are not expected to outlive their parents. Scary...

Now there is hope, even after DDR, for these kids AND the environment AND your library. Just install an Energy-generating Dance Floor in the teen section and invite people to rock out. Of course, you may have to put a door on the YA area... think we'll see DDR Olympics in Seattle? (Thanks to Ambidextrous for the flooring tip.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

falling together

I have been running a mile a minute. It all started when I was down in Sonoma for the online community summit - catching up (along with my colleague Jasmine de Gaia) on the latest business, programming, and technology trends for online community building. I learned so much that I sort of feel like my head is about to burst, but the big take-aways for me were that we're on the brink of (1) business models that work and (2) technology that gets out of our way. Oh, and on a more personal note, I need to find some way to stay connected to the larger online community world - not just heads-down in library land all the time. On yet another personal note, while visiting Sonoma I had the chance to visit good friends in the Bay area. Though the trip brought extremely bad news for one good friend who learned (just the day before I arrived) that she has bonafide MS, I had a rockin' good time with her just the same, as well as with my old pal Brian Bannon (who's loving his new place at the San Francisco Public Library).

As if that isn't enough, I came home to (1) the first drafts of our WJ wireframes (they are so vastly improved from our current homepage that I just can't wait to show them off, soon), (2) three of our "WJ cousins" visiting Seattle from Dublin for the week - very fun, and (3) the extremely bad news (yet again) that my sister's meds haven't kicked in just yet (for those who may not know, she has breast cancer and is constantly switching meds around the keep the ugliness at bay). Non-emergent, but we're all sort of waiting with bated breath, literally.

Almost two weeks beyond the start of this post I'm busy following up with new and old pals from the summit, visiting with our visiting Rural Library Sustainability participants - what a joy to meet some of you for the first time outside of virtual space!, getting my thoughts together for internet librarian, and wading through a ton of applications for an open position at WebJunction. Too much?

It is quite a bit. But you know, it's exhilarating in many ways. To take so much in in so short a timeframe can certainly overwhelm, but it also leaves me feeling steeped in the wonder/balance that makes up who we are and what we call "life". Although it all could become a reason for falling apart, it seems rather an opportunity for falling together. Ultimately, I feel so lucky to have family, friends, and work that I love to such depth.

I'm reminded here of Alane's post a few months back - something like full brain, lazy post? Indeed. But I did want to's all good stuff.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Thinking Outside the Borders

"Thinking Outside the Borders: Library Leadership in a World Community" is a conference to be held next February 18-20 in Phoenix, Arizona. As if Phoenix in February were not a big enough attraction for someone facing a Midwestern winter (i.e., me), the agenda looks pretty solid. In the words of the news release,

The project is designed to encourage librarians to think globally and act locally. Participants will:

* Learn cross-cultural communication strategies
* Develop an understanding of librarianship and the world community
* Focus on leadership issues affecting librarians regardless of country
* Build mutually-beneficial global professional relationships

Fifteen international participants will be accepted, so it will be important that interested persons apply early. Follow this link for program details including scholarship information and program expenses:

The conference also has an impeccable lineage. Again, in the words of the release, "THINKING OUTSIDE THE BORDERS: LIBRARY LEADERSHIP IN A WORLD COMMUNITY is a joint project of the Arizona State Library, the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois, and the Illinois State Library, USA, funded by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Library as Conversation

R. David Lankes (ol' Virtual Dave from the Virtual Reference Desk Conference days) is now working on a project for ALA called "Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation." You can read the draft report and make comments until October 25 to help formulate the final report.

And if you are interested in seeing the papers from the Virtual Reference Desk Conference, they are now mounted at WebJunction!


If you're looking for community support for libraries and you haven't read it yet, go read the Lawrence, Kansas editorial about why they don't need a new library downtown. Libraries are limited, obsolete.

Then read the loooooong string of comments. There are plenty of community members who are articulate and passionate about the value of libraries.

Now the question is: are these same people turning up at the voting booth? If not, why not? If they are, how can we as the library industry help support their passion and turn it into tangible action that elected officials see?

With my devil's advocate hat on, some of the same things the article writer talks about, I think would be good for the library to do "in addition" to being a solid community downtown institution.

Why not have a library kiosk at the pharmacy or hospital, right where someone might want to do some hardcore database research on medications, sympotoms, risks? (I know, I know--it's the money issue again...)

I'm off on an adventure for the next 5 days--

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Shout out to the WJ

I have been diligently avoiding my "flagged for follow up" e-mail/Web tasks. No good reason really...
But I had it marked to go check out the card-sorting exercise and other fun ideas that the team over at WebJunction was busy using to improve their interface/experience. I hadn't gotten to it yet and already a week has gone by!

So now I say: if anyone else has been as slack as I have, go check it out now! Is it too late, Joe? Are you already on to wireframes?

Speaking of user experiences, the marketer in me cannot resist pointing out a simply beautiful, well-thought-out-and-executed campaign for Shaw flooring. Sticky like nobody's business, interactive, personal, engaging, customer-focused. I love it!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Call for proposals on social networking

There's a special issue brewing in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication on Social Networking. 500 word abstracts due 28 November 2006.
All you libraries out there doing cool stuff, submit your projects!

Friday, October 06, 2006

"The Librarian"

Here's an entertaining and even enlightening bit of history from the vaults, a vocational film about becoming a librarian. This film was apparently made in 1947, and some of the points it makes are quite remarkable. It starts by saying that the two qualities a prospective librarian needs are liking books and liking people. (When did we drop that second requirement?) And it shows librarians using microfilm, phono records, and 16mm films. (New librarians, ask your grandparents about these last two.) The film runs about 10 minutes and you'll need QuickTime Player and a sound card to view it.

The dreadful parts: every librarian (and for that matter, just about every person shown in the movie) is white, and the only administrator shown is a middle aged guy. And the little girl who is being read to by the children's librarian doesn't seem very happy with the service.

Thanks to my friend Joanna McNally for pointing me to this!

Google and YouTube rumors

As seen on Techcrunch:
Google is in Talks to Buy YouTube (also seen on

Also funny in the TechCrunch post is that Google has told the engineers to stop being so brainy and limit the new products being launched.

Women gamers

Throwback to the Environmental Scan, Nielsen Entertainment did a study that routs out the myth of only young geeky boys as gamers:
Women account for 2/3 of Online Gamers

A straight lift from the article:
Fully 64 percent of online gamers are women, according to Nielsen. Online gamers overall account for 56 percent of the country's 117 million total active gamers--defined as people ages 13 and up who own and personally play games on a gaming device for at least one hour a week. Overall, when all video games are considered, male players still outnumber female by more than two-to-one, the research said.

Women who play games are taking such pursuits to mobile devices. Twenty-six percent of female gamers played mobile phone games, compared to 23 percent of male gamers.

I haven't read the study--but am curious about the demographics of these women mobile gamers. Are they soccer moms waiting in the van for practice to be over? Career women waiting for planes, clients? Doctors, musicians, postal carriers making some space in their busy days to hang with their kids for 20 minutes? Students before/after class?
All of the above.
How can we cater gaming in the library/through the library to fit these women's lives better?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Starbucks Book Break

Love 'em or hate 'em, Starbucks is doing more community activities that involve books. They've just launched a program, called Starbucks Book Break. Book Break is a Starbucks-hosted discussion group of For One More Day, planned for 25 locations and Mitch Albom (the writer) will attend 8 of them.
Press from Reuters. They've done social networking through

Sounds like Starbucks wants to move to the 3rd space to me!

And they've tapped into the idea of cause marketing, too, with the JumpStart tie-in. Cause marketing is big these days...especially with Gen Y.

If you're library is in one of these 25 areas

*Maybe you want to stock up on a few extra copies of the book.
*Maybe you'll contact your local Starbucks and see if you could put a poster up--promoting the idea that people can get copies of this book (and many others) at the library.
*Maybe you'll put a flyer up at your own library, do a display with Albom's other books, feature the audiobooks, and align yourself as a supporter of the Starbucks event. After all, people reading and getting together to talk about it is pretty central to the idea of the library!

If you're NOT a library in one of those 25 areas
--but you DO have a Starbucks in your community--
What if you contacted your local store to host your own Starbucks Book Break at the library? You can still have it Oct. 26.
If they'll supply the coffee and pastries, you'll supply the space and books! And you both can promote the event at your respective locations...