Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nabaztag, the Wi-Fi Rabbit

These aren't new but I might have to have Nabaztag: "I'm a newborn bunny, one of a unique species of intelligent, smart objects. I'm 23 cm tall, I wriggle my ears, I sing, I talk and my body lights up and pulsates with hundreds of colours. Thanks to Wi-Fi technology, I'm always connected to the Internet." Things it does:
Talking Clock, Wake Up Rabbit (music), News Headlines, Weather Forecast, Stock Market, "See" other Rabbits and let you know by moving its ears, speaking or playing music, E-Mail Alerts--and apparently RSS feeds.
It's not really a blogjet or a spime...but it's closer than my laptop is.

They're not available from any place here in the U.S....yet.

UPDATE April 4: Nicholas Nova (pasta&vinegar) has just bought a Nabaztag and he says, "it’s a first step in the world of communicating artifacts."

Web 2.0 is [pick one]

Slate writer Paul Boutin hones in on the semantic ambiguity of the term Web 2.0 (well, is it semantic or literal ambiguity?) in a short piece, reflecting the "checkout stand placement" Web 2.0 has acquired with the Newsweek April 3 cover story. He identifies three--maybe four--definitions that may be or may not be compatible. "...people use Web 2.0 to mean different, often conflicting things."
1. Web 2.0 is a mishmash of tools and sites that foster collaboration and participation.
2. Web 2.0 is the software and languages used to build the gee-whiz features of sites like YouTube, Flikr and Wikipedia.
3. A "Web 2.0 play" is a bid to make money by funding a bring-your-own-content site.
4. Publicists and self-promoters invoke Web 2.0 whenever they want to tag something as new, cool, and undiscovered.

Image from (warning: Hugh uses swear words in many of his cartoons, so maybe don't look at his blog in a public place)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ashless art

My father sits at night with no lights on,
His cigarette glows in the dark,
The living room is still,
I walk by, no remark.
(“That’s The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be” – Carly Simon) [Web site ; Wikipedia entry]

Although I wasn’t on the road with my fellow IAGers and colleagues from OCLC Research at either CIL or PLA last week, I’ve been away in the last two weeks, having but recently returned from Charlotte, North Carolina. This particular trip to NC was a fun trip, not business related, but alas like so many of my travels, it too gave rise to an episode of my chronic case of librarian’s wandering disease – i.e. when I’m anywhere near a library, I tend to wander in.  

So, on that recent promise-of-Spring-in-the-air Saturday in Charlotte I spent several pleasant hours wandering around the Main Library of the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. Now I might wax poetic about the fabulous historical materials collection in the Carolina Room on the top floor, or the very cool Virtual Village on the lowest floor, but on passing the coffee shop I was really drawn to the media space in the center – DVDs, CDs, and gaming (live gaming being enthusiastically pursued by a slightly-more-players-than-consoles crowd of very contented-looking patrons). And I also noticed something pretty interesting nearby – a cigarette machine that dispenses art, PLCMC’s own Artomat installation.  

I resisted the coffee and didn’t have time to queue for a game, but the Artomat machine was just too tempting. So I went to the main desk, traded my $5 for a token, and the token for a pull of the lever on the Artomat, and out came my prize -- a handcrafted book (blank pages for one to write in) in cigarette pack-sized box. Very cool – a book in a box (see photo) in a recycled cigarette vending machine in the library. Public access computing, coffee, gaming, art vending – what will these public librarians think of next?

The User-Centered Universe Comes Closer

You know, we've all yakked on and on about how all our libraries need to be user-centric.
*Our physical architecture and furniture set-up should be arranged for the user's world, not ours.
*Our directional signage and way-finding aids (posters) point out helpful pieces of information at just the right moment of a user's journey.
*Our physical materials ought to be displayed with a friendly, welcoming and (frankly) retail-oriented appeal.
*Our Web sites need to use labels/tags that make sense to our spouses, significant others and friends.
*Our RSS feeds/blogs for library users need to add value to their day, not noise.
*Our electronic and digital collections need to translate immediately into benefits for the user's world: they're not here to find as many resources as possible on global warming--they're here to find three good articles from which they can substantively draw for a report that is due tomorrow.

I could go on and on. You could go on and on, and fill in the blanks for what you're dreaming of, for the perfect library in your mind. Or the im-perfect library that you currrently work in....or in my case, the library I imagine as a conjuration of multiple libraries I've used and dreamed of.

Where am I going with this? As I've been reading through the recent conference posts and rants (her word, not mine!), it looks like we are ready to "eat our own dog food," as the saying goes. We want our meta-conversations to be just as gracious as our libraries are.

I'm talking about presentations at library conferences. WE are the users in this case. Center your presentation around ME the audience member, here.

Now this is no big revelation--we're taught to consider your audience in High School Speech class...but I think the recent spate of blogsation (that's my new word of the day--blog conversation) shows that as an industry, we've internalized the message and now demand it of each other.

All I can say is,
Rock on.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Springtime and renewal

It is a beautiful day here in my little office. Today is one of those days when you start to believe that Spring may indeed come, even though it seems highly unlikely.

After such a wonderful but crazy week in Boston at PLA last week, I did take a couple of hours yesterday to reconfirm a commitment to Spring, to life and to continued zest for doing the things we Love, Especially when we don't Think we have Time to do them: I bought new running shoes.

New Running Shoes
Now this is not an endeavor I do every day. (Buying new running shoes.) In fact, the sales person at the shoe store was incredulous at the state of my 5-year-old shoes. "You've been running in THESE?," she exclaims.

Well...yes I have. But not running as much as I'd like. I've just been letting a lot of other things get in the way lately.

Let me explain: It feels like I am behind on just about everything lately--behind on work, behind on life, behind on self-improvement...behind, behind, behind. Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever feel like that, at your library? Of course you do. We all do.

And yet, when I went on the maiden voyage in my brand new running shoes, it brought me exactly the perspective a conference is meant to: a chance to breathe, to reflect on what's happened lately, and a time to ponder what it all means.
*What direction should our library go next? Do we hire that new staff person? Can we increase our outreach to the community? How can we create an environment for GenX leaders to spread their wings?" (Because we do have wings, I assure you...)

So even if you didn't attend CIL or PLA, Spring will come to you and your library, too. Work will Get Done Eventually and remember, we are meant to enjoy life!

Now. I'm off for another run.

 Posted by Picasa

Books books books

This shot is for all you Perceptions fans and the famous quotation about what one woman thinks of, when she thinks of a library:
"Books books books, rows of books, stacks of books, tables filled with books, people holding books, people checking out books. Libraries are all about books. That is what I think and that is what I will always think."

Thanks to the Boston Public Library for letting me snap as many photos as I could!
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Boston Public Library

Speaking of hip spaces, the Boston Public (Copley Square) was a great place to hang out when you wanted a break from all the conference hoopla.

Don't get me wrong--I worked hard at a lot of behind-the-scenes hoopla at this show--but it was such a refreshing jolt to wander through the stacks and remember what an urban public library IS and DOES and who uses it on 2:30 pm on a random Thursday afternoon. There were young entrepreneurs writing business plans, retirees, high school students, and a good chunk of English-as-a-second-language speakers in between. Posted by Picasa

Coolest Exhibit Booth in all of PLA

The Coolest Exhibit Booth in all of PLA 2006 (IMHO) was the one from Creative Arts Unlimited, Inc. Their signage was smart, to the point and visually arresting. And when I started talking with Bruce, the Design Director, it made sense why: they are a company that specializes in transforming library interiors into spaces that feel alive, engaging and (dare I say) hip!
 Posted by Picasa

OCLC Update Breakfast at PLA 2006

7:30 AM was not too early for these Update Breakfast attendees. Held in the Huntington Ballroom of the Colonnade Hotel (which I can now wholeheartedly recommend), there were more than 250 librarians to provide feedback and recommendations for what they'd like to see the world's largest library coooperative do next! These two librarians look like they've just thought up something controversial for the IAG bloggers to talk about! (Or perhaps a really cool new thing to do with WorldCat?) Posted by Picasa

Small Library of the Year reception

A few WebJunction and OCLC staff attended the LJ Celebration of the Small Library at PLA. The Haines Public Library in Haines, Alaska won the award, with an inspiring story to boot. Pictured L-R are Jenny, Florence, Betha and George. Posted by Picasa

George meets famous WJ columnist

George's doppelganger. This was the life-sized foam cut-out of the famous "I'm Curious, George" columnist. Our George II graced the OCLC exhibit booth at PLA, and made a special guest appearance at the WebJunction reception. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 24, 2006

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Nothing personal, but I'm out of here for a while. The long-suffering Joyce and I are taking a little break for a few days, so it will have to be all good without me, at least temporarily.

PLA Wrap Up

My official role at PLA is over now (such as it was). I was the host/greeter at the OCLC exhibit booth for a couple of hours this afternoon, and got to meet a lot of old and new friends. I also got teased incessantly about a life-size foam board mounted picture of me that had been installed in the exhibit space as an ad for WebJunction, and the Curious George column in particular. Lorcan Dempsey may have fangirls, but I have a doppelganger!

Earlier, I had facilitated a discussion of e-learning that featured Sarah Chesemore, the Learning Manager for WebJunction, Phil Turner, the Vice Provost for Learning Enhancement at the University of North Texas, and Celisa Steele, Vice President of Operations for LearnSomething (which merged with Isoph in 2005). Celisa gave a very good basic introduction to e-learning, Phil talked about how to implement e-learning effectively, and Sarah talked about the findings a survey WebJunction has done on e-learning, and how to find out what's available. The questions and discussions that followed were lively and challenging.

The morning started with the OCLC Update Breakfast, which always seems to start in the middle of the flipping night. I arrived at the hotel banquet room at 6:00 a.m., and several intrepid OCLC staffers, including IAG's own Alice Sneary, Sonya Oliver, and Stephen Leonard, had already started setting up the room. Jay Jordan gave the update, and had the audience both laughing and fascinated by all OCLC is doing.

As a former PLA director, I can't get over how big this conference has gotten. As of yesterday, over 9800 people were registered (compared to maybe 4000 when I was doing that gig). Greta Southard, Linda Bostrom, Barb Macikas, and the whole PLA crew have put together what I think of as the best all around library conference. Of course, I'm a public librarian at heart, and that's what this is all about!

The Internet of Things: Spimes and Blogjets

I mentioned the Internet of Things yesterday at the very end of my session as an example of newish stuff I'm following--part of the dumpster diving I do to spot trends. And as I had no time to describe or explain, here's links to the two pieces that will make all clear to you about the Internet of Things. And if not clear, I assure you, your little gray cells will be given a workout.

Bruce Sterling, the science-fiction writer, coined the term "spime" (SPace and tIME) and Julian Bleeker, of the University of Southern California's Annenburg Center for Communication, coined the term "blogjet".

They are similar concepts...Bleeker says Sterling's spime is a more sci-fi-ish object. Here's his description of the Internet of Things from his paper [pdf] "A Manifesto for Networked Objects--Co-habiting with Pigeons, Arphids and Aibos in the Internet of Things": "The Internet of Things has evolved into a nascent conceptual framework for understanding how physical objects, once networked and imbued with informatic capabilities will occupy space and will occupy themselves in a world where things were once quite passive."

Sterling's paper is actually a transcript of a talk he gave recently at eTech 2006: "Spimes are manufactured objects whose informational support is so overwhelmingly extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes begin and end as data. They're virtual objects first and actual objects second."

This stuff is what Web 2.0 is really about...

CIL: Alane's Necklace & Lorcan's Fans

That would be human fans not the feathered kind.

Lorcan and I were both on the program at CIL, yesterday morning, at the same time. This caused some consternation as some people fretted to me whether to attend my session or Lorcan's. I told them to go to Lorcan's. And thankfully, many people blogged his talk about metadata in a Web 2.0 world(on Technorati, use the tag CIL2006 and "Lorcan" and you'll find all the mentions) so now I know what he said. Dorothea of Caveat Lector, though, wins hands down, for her remarks. "Fangirly" has been added to my vocabulary.

My session, "Scanning for Planning" was blogged by Jenica at Thinking Out Loud who makes me sound a lot more coherent that I thought I was, and in a later post she mentions the silver necklace I was wearing, approvingly. Thank goodness. Perhaps I am exposing my Digital Immigrantness, but it is just odd to read little bits and pieces about yourself all over the blogosphere. And it is a reminder that the Panopticon is here and that our words and actions become part of the observed world very quickly.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

PLA Update

Ginny is a blogging machine, isn't she? I almost feel like I'm there in DC with her. Way to go!

I'm in Boston at PLA. Yesterday, I said a few words at the closing of a preconference on programming in public libraries, sponsored by the Public Programs Office at ALA. (You can make a gift to the Cultural Communities Fund here.)

Afterwards, I saw some amazing things in the exhibit hall. There are some real advances being made in materials handling, in handling audio materials, and even some cool new furniture. Since this isn't a space for advertising, I won't link to those companies, but the point is there is palpable excitement at the conference about the future of libraries. The librarians here (and Boston seems positively overrun!) are full of excitement about new ways to offer service.

This afternoon I met with some public librarians about using our collaborative experience to improve the acquisition of non-English materials. The ideas flew fast and furious, and there may be more to come on this one soon.

Next, it's on to the WebJunction reception and the LJ reception to honor outstanding small public libraries. Tomorrow, the OCLC Update breakfast, a WebJunction program on e-learning, and several hours at the exhibit booth. If you're here in Boston reading this, make sure to stop by! (That link is for Jay, by the way.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

CIL continued

After that morning I needed lunch and a nap. And then I wandered around the exhibits for a while. It's always interesting to see who's there and what's new in their worlds. I managed to stop by for a few minutes at the SLA booth - I was surprised to see them there until I remembered that Tom Hogan had mentioned in his introduction that SLA is an Association Sponsor of this conference. So I stopped to thank them!!

I didn't write in detail about the wonderful workshop I attended on Tuesday called Web Managers Academy. In that workshop and just the 3 sessions I went to this morning I learned enough for a whole conference! And I have 2 1/2 days to go! My brain is definitely full, and pretty soon I'm going to crash for the night. Tomorrow morning is the Update Breakfast that I want to go to.

CIL - New web site tools & technologies

This session was presented in two parts, the first by Jason Clark on Building Usable Library Interfaces with AJAX and the second by Karen Coombs on Open Source Applications for Library Web Site Management. They both managed to present a tremendous amount of information in very little time, and without making us feel totally stupid. So much of this was new to me and I have no idea whether any of it is even possible in the web systems I work with, but boy am I going to try. It is incredibly cool, and they make it sound easy. Jason even mentioned some work by OCLC Research that I was completely unaware of! I need to keep up better!!

CIL - Basics of Web-Based experience planning

David King presented a well organized outline of "how-to" design a web site that made me want to go back home and get started! He used concepts from Jesse James Garrett to outline the process. The 5 steps are: strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, surface. He emphasized that you have to remember at every stage that the user of the site is the most important element. Users should have a feeling of control and interactivity in all parts of the site. We need to keep the focus on the user rather than on the resources we have to offer to the user.

At the end of the presentation someone asked about the cluttered (to her) look of many award winning websites. David pointed out that what looks cluttered to us does not necessarily look cluttered to our users - - if these are people who regularly use CNN or Amazon or Yahoo they probably have come to like what we consider cluttered.

The bottom line is: It's all about the user!! And it's hard for us to remember.

CIL - Keynote by Chris Sherman of SearchEngineWatch

Chris Sherman, recently back from China, talked about developments in the search engine world - and compared the present time to 1995 - a time of much excitement and innovation, along with one-upmanship and me-tooism. Things are changing a lot in the search engine world and some search engines are becoming things other than search engines. Jeeves has been fired, but Ask is going strong. Google is be coming everything web. MSN is giving off confusing brand messages, and Yahoo innovation seems to be slowing down while their research arm is ramping up. Personalization is becoming pervasive in very exciting ways, but it has a dark side as privacy issues crop up. And lawsuits are crowding the horizon. It feels like 1995 again! And it's fun.

CIL - opening session

Tom Hogan, President of Information Today opened the 21st Computers in Libraries Conference. He reminded us all that National Online made it to 24, but it is "all gone" now!! As of Saturday attendance is a record 2386 and we expect another 100 or so to register during the week. 49 states are represented, plus the District of Columbia & Puerto Rico. The only US state not represented is Mississippi. And we all hope Mississippi will be able to send representatives next year. 17 other countries are also represented including: Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal, Qatar, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and The West Indies. (Marshall Breeding claims to have been to all 21!) The attenance figures include 150 speakers & moderators, and .60 companies represented in the exhibit hall.

All in all avery exciting place to be!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

PLA Boston

Hello PLA!
We've been busy today setting up the exhibit booth (3101) and looking at sessions. I am so excited to hear Susan Susanka of the Not-So-Big-House, the writer of the Stinky Cheese Man and of course, Paco Underhill as the closing session speaker. And lots of interesting stuff in between!

Tonight we went to a great restaurant that was also profiled in the PLA conference guidebook: Via Matta. Excellent food, and even better service. We loved it...and can't wait for the conference to start!

Computers In Libraries

Well, I got here after a wonderful day Monday visiting with friends in Maryland. Instead of flying, my husband and I drove for the visit, then came here to the hotel Monday evening and he drove back home early this morning. I will fly back to Columbus on Friday evening when this is all over.

The hustle is amazing - - yesterday the hotel seemed nearly deserted even though I knew people were getting ready for the meetings. (I was going to say maybe that was because it was Sunday - but it wasn't - it just felt like Sunday to me!) Anyway, the place is full of Librarians and computer folk today. The bar is crowded with folk listening to the marvelous piano playing, working on their laptops as I am - the wireless reception is better here than most other places, and talking in various groups.

One group of us, after a long day of learning to be more competent web masters or to do better searching, or a number of other workshops, went to Bombay Palace for dinner and to discuss training - - it was a fun time, and will appear on at least one other blog in more detail - one person was taking actual notes about our conversation. Interesting talk going around the table comparing notes - we found that the issues and the joys are the same no matter what setting we work in - academic, public, school, special - we all face the same difficulties and use the same "tricks of the trade" - though I did learn a few new ones!

Tomorrow the conference starts in earnest - - and so good night!!

Ubiquitous Computing and Everyday Life

Three items that caught my attention today on the topic of ubiquitous computing and everyday life.

First, spotted on a blog I've just started reading, pasta and vinegar, a paper [pdf] called "Interweaving Mobile Games with Everyday Life" and a big pdf of a presentation done by Julian Bleeker at the recent eTech Conference, called "Pervasive Electronic Games Theory Objects for Social Play." pasta and vinegar has a summary and links to other comments.

Second, a book by Adam Greenfield, Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiqutous Computing. I haven't read this but I've added it to the list. (I am reading Seeing What's Next by Clayton Christensen, and The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley.)

It's a theme, a meme, a trend...

Web 2.0 - Too Much Sharing?

Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users has a tongue-in-cheek (maybe) post titled "Web 2.0 is like Group Therapy". Scroll down for the funny chart she's made lining up the similarities between group therapy and Web 2.0. Example: Group therapy= self-esteem issues. Web 2.0 = Technorati rank issues.
(Link from Publishing 2.0)

Monday, March 20, 2006

We are BoingBoing'ed

BoingBoing is a blog that is, as it bills itself, a directory of wonderful things. I read it not just because of the posts about Fat Albert, rat-cats, TV-bars, roasted alligator, barf bags, and Chinese gangster fiction (all this in the last 24 hours) but because of the gems that relate to my day-job.

Just today I was alerted to an article in The Guardian newspaper on the abundance of cheap consumer goods that got me thinking about a notion I've tossed around a good few times (and which of course does not originate with me): that libraries were constituted in times of scarcity and that times of abundance such as we are in (here in an economically priviledged country) have blurred the original purpose of libraries when content and information is as adundant as cheap t-shirts.

So, here's the sentence that caught me. "Unashamedly 'disposable' cheap goods, you could argue, are turning us into traders rather than curators of our posessions."

Well, there you go....the library dilemma in a sentence.

You're underwhelmed by this? Then perhaps you'll prefer the link to the blog maintained by "Geoffrey Chaucer"..."Yowre care maken myne eyes to watre with teres..."

Oh. The title of this post? Yes, OCLC was actually mentioned in this mega-A list blog. A short squib noting our list of the 1000 top books held by OCLC libraries. The work was done by OCLC Research staff at least a year ago but has seen new interest because Lorcan mentioned it recently at the Reading 2.0 conference (available talks here), and Tim O'Reilly blogged about it and so on and so on.


March Madness 2

I'm back in the office for two days before I leave for the PLA shindig in Boston. Last week was a blur, and this one's not much better!

Monday night, I guest lectured for a wonderful group of LIS students about the Environmental Scan and the Perceptions Report.

Tuesday afternoon, I talked about the Perceptions Report with directors from the Association for Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL).

Thursday, it was a gaming presentation at the Greene County District Library in Xenia, Ohio.

Saturday, I was in Utica, New York, at the Mid-York Library System, talking about library futures.

At the ASERL meeting, one of the issues that emerged was how we expand the library brand to start penetrating public consciousness about what libraries have to offer in this world.

In the other three programs, one of the biggest topics of discussion was "Google versus books" as a reference tool. How can (or perhaps the question is should we...) get students to go deeper into the literature to use all the resources the library owns or licenses, when all they seem to want to do is use Google?

One librarian in Xenia expressed frustration that she could answer a question for a student from books that are readily available,but all they want to use is the web. She said that by the time she referred the student to the public computers on the second floor, and the student repeated the question for the librarian there, she could have easily found the answer for him. One of the other librarians in the room suggested that perhaps the computers are on the wrong floor.

In Utica, the discussion was framed around "instant gratification" in public libraries. Do we give students and other library users answers, or do we try to teach them how to become independent, lifelong searchers? This is a question that can roil nearly any gathering of librarians.

Charles Robinson, one of my personal heroes in libraryland, drove a stake into the ground in this argument by summarizing his philosophy of library service as "give 'em what they want." I definitely come down on that side of the argument; I was inoculated with his way of thinking many years ago. When we view the world through our library prism, we try to slot users into our preferences for printed materials and thorough research. We try to make little librarians out of people who only need enough material to do a one page theme on frogs. Today's kids have so much to do that I have no moral or professional compunctions about providing instant gratification from our publicly funded institutions. If the student wants to learn a couple of quick tips about how to make her own searching faster and more effective, fine---but it's the student's call, not mine.

Your 22 Minutes of Fame

According to a recent post on PUBLIB, the great TV game show Jeopardy! is looking for librarians to audition as contestants for the show. Tryouts will be held in the coming months in these cities: Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Indianapolis, IN, Los Angeles, CA, Minneapolis, MN, New York, NY, Orlando, FL, Portland, OR, Philadelphia, PA, San Francisco, CA, St. Louis, MO, Washington, DC.

To register, or for more information, go here. And if you pass the test and get on the list, call me for some inside scoop!

Sign spied on a recent outing to Portland, Maine. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 17, 2006

Luck of the Ancestry, or Something...

So one day a couple of months ago, my friends Tim, Barbara, Val and I were chatting. This is a post about St. Patrick's Day, ancestry, bloodlines and genealogy. REALLY.... I'm just starting with a story.

Tim is Irish, born and raised in Ireland.
Barbara is South African, born and raised in Nebraska, USA.
Val is American, grew up American but his family ancestry/bloodline is clear cut: his father's parents were German and his mother's parents were Italian.
I, on the other hand, am all over the place. People look at me and immediately exclaim (especially if I am wearing my favorite green sweater), "oh, you must be Irish!"

Likely it's the sweater, because all we really know is that we were descended from horse thieves in Pennsylvania, may claim the Maxwell clan in Scotland and that we are related to the famous Comanche chief, Quanah Parker.

But I digress.

Tim, Barbara, Val and I started talking about what it means (in America), when someone asks you where your family is from. Because Americans tend to think that means somewhere *not the U.S.* --a question of ancestry and not of place.

And this drives Barbara and Tim bonkers, and this all came up because there was a guy they met who says, "Hey, I'm Irish, too!" as if he and Tim are suddenly going to be best mates. So Tim asks what part of Ireland he's from, to which he replies "oh, you know, that was 4 or 5 generations ago. But my family is from Ireland."

Which, from Tim's point of view, he isn't Irish at all. He's American and at some point in his lineage, his family lived in Ireland. But all he's ever known or his parents have known is America. I guess it's all a matter of perspective, really. Which brings me to my next question:

Do countries outside the U.S. have as high a demand to do genealogical research? We USonions all want to know where we're from. Even if Tim doesn't want to hear about it. But do other, less melting-pot societies experience the same yearning/nostalgia for roots? For a sense of place? A groundedness?

I have read enough Faulkner to know that it really all gets back to the land, which is a nice way of saying you become where you live. Which brings me to genealogy.

There was a great conference this week at BYU that one of our OCLC colleagues attended. She was there talking about WorldCat and how it can assist genealogists. I dare say, with digital image libraries and the right metadata, just tonight as I write this post, I stared at Quanah Parker's image, thinking "Wow, I guess I didn't get Parker cheekbones."

Maybe I just got the fighting spirit. Or make that the fighting Irish spirit. Well whatever/wherever you are, enjoy your ancestry and raise a toast to those who came before you. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

From the Ocean's Edge

There's a world I've always known,
Somewhere far away from home,
At the edge of the ocean,
We can start over again.”
("Edge of the Ocean" - Ivy) [Wikipedia entry web site]

This is definitely on-the-road season for IAG. In fact, no small portion of my time recently has been devoted to travel, arrangements for future travel, and planning for visitors. It’s all good, of course, but I am of late much reminded of both the perils (like when the layover for my in-bound connection through O’Hare was extended from 2 to 14 hours Sunday due to the weather) and rewards of travel.

Delayed flights aside, my time out west was enjoyable and fruitful. I was in the Pacific Northwest last week on OCLC business, and I also had the chance to catch up with colleagues and spend some time with a favorite cousin. The business I can’t share details about just yet, save that the discussion was important, engaging, and libraries and library users will be much the better for this collaboration. Keep your eyes open for news from OCLC in coming weeks.  

I can, however, share my great pleasure at having a chance to visit with my colleague, Stu Weibel, who is temporarily ensconced in Seattle and very much enjoying the place and his extended contact with the University of Washington iSchool. Weather intervened the first night he, I, and several other OCLC colleagues hoped to rendezvous for a dinner, so no Stu and much sitting in traffic later, we dined Italian without him. But on the day following, Stu and I met and together explored the absolutely fabulous Seattle Public Library (see Stu’s blog entry & pictures). I also took a few photos (and Michael Porter took kind notice of one I contributed to the flickr Libraries and Librarians Group – thanks, Michael!). We capped off the evening with an excellent dinner at a local pub, and a stimulating discussion of many things, especially the matter of the use and care of identifiers. Stu has kindly loaned me his copy of Linked by Albert-Laszló Barabási which I am enjoying and finding every bit as readable and stimulating as Stu promised.

The trip also allowed time for a brief, unannounced (OK, well in truth I did call Leslie Dillon in our OCLC Information Center to find Chrystie Hill’s phone number and called Chrystie while in route), and all too brief visit to WebJunction’s offices in Seattle. They received me like I was a long lost relative and even treated me to delicious homemade goodies (yum!). It was great to finally meet so many of the wonderful folks at WebJunction in person. And I’m rather jealous of the marvelous view from their offices. (Very nice – the Gates Foundation offices overlook the same area. And -- not that IAG does recruiting -- but FYI, gentle readers, WJ has jobs open!)

And last, but not least I took some time off to see the sights including two excellent museums, the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, and the Museum of Flight. All in all, a great trip. My special thanks to Stu Weibel and the WebJunction folks for their kind hospitality. [Oh, and BTW...George, did I mention I’m available to travel to Seattle?]

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

CIL, PLA blogging

We're preparing for two upcoming conferences here at IAG: CIL and PLA.

If you remember from last year, Ginny Browne was our guest blogger from the conference. It turns out, she plans to attend again and has graciously agreed to post again this year. We look forward to her insights and photos; welcome aboard Ginny!

OCLC and OCLC CAPCON events promise to be fun. I do believe Alane might be there as well, doing a presentation on the Perceptions report? So we'll have multiple perspectives from D.C., coming up.

Further north, George and I will be carousing with lots of public librarians in Boston for PLA. I hope to see lots of you at events, the booth (#3101) and WebJunction reception.
Side note: We had toyed with the idea of having a very unofficial official "Blogger Meet-up" at a local watering hole one night...and then schedules got very, very complicated. So I'm inviting you instead, to breakfast on Friday at the Colonnade hotel, Huntington Ballroom at 7:30 AM. We do ask you to register, so we'll have enough muffins and pastries for everyone.

Readers, bloggers, friends: see you soon!

"Solutions for Our Future" campaign

George is hosting his own personal "March Madness" with travel this week. I have just gotten back from a week of illness and then some traveling, myself. I have a ton of photos to post. I'll flickr 'em and let you know...but here's some news on advertising during the *real* March Madness:

Colleges and Universities in the U.S. will get an image boost during the NCAA basketball tournament that begins tomorrow night, with the "Solutions for Our Future" campaign. Here's a blip from UB Daily and Chronicle articles on the project:

The campaign will include efforts by nearly 400 colleges to reach out to local communities and policymakers and explain their contributions to society. They hope to convince the public that higher education remains essential to the country's future and that it should be a state and national funding priority as government support has lagged during the past few years.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune and on the official site. From here, you can even send pre-populated messages to your elected officials. They have a bibliography and further white paper reading, as well.

Now does this project sound familiar to you, IAG readers? Of course it does. OCLC has been doing library advocacy to policymakers for a couple of years now. We're working on a school library advocacy ad now. It's a great idea and I am excited to see the NCAA ads tomorrow.

Maybe it's reason enough to even watch the game?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Amazon S3 - Storage Web Service

Interesting...Amazon has just announced a web service (no customer interface) called Simple Storage Solution. It looks like any data format can be stored at low costs per gigabyte, with no limit to the amount of data stored. Commentators speculate this will be very attractive to developers who haven't adequate storage capacity for their projects. Spotted on tech.memeorandum with links to other discussions.

From Amazon: "Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers."

From the Business Week blog Tech Watch: 'So what's Amazon turning into? "They want to be seen as a platform for Web 2.0 applications," says Schmelzer. That still may take awhile. But it's clearer than ever that Amazon intends to keep pace with the big guns on the Web.'

Amazon S3? Why not WorldCat S3?

Google Selling Online Books

Danny Sullivan at has a write-up of this recently announced extension of Google's Book Search service. A semantic curiosity: everything I read about this used the term "online books", not "e-books". I wonder why?

Monday, March 13, 2006

March Madness, Library Version

This is the busiest week of the spring for this IAG blogger. I'm giving five talks in six days in four different cities this week, but at least they are all in the Eastern time zone.

Tonight, I'm the guest lecturer in Nancy Lensenmayer's Kent State University Library Automation class. That talk focuses on the Scan and the Perceptions reports, with a goal of encouraging flexibility of thought in the next generation of librarians.

Tomorrow, it's Savannah, Georgia, for a report on Perceptions to the ASERL (Association of Southeastern Research Libraries) meeting. I'll also be visiting the Live Oak Public Libraries in Savannah, hosted by my friend Lace Keaton.

Thursday, it's the conference called "Teens: Plays, Games and Libraries" for the Miami Valley Libraries in Xenia, Ohio. This is a reprise of the games presentation I did in Chicago in December.

Friday, Joyce and I are doing a joint presentation for the Rotary Club in Dublin about how to become a contestant on Jeopardy. We've never done a program together, but I think our marriage can survive this. The only time we've ever had serious trouble is when we tried to hang wallpaper together. Just think Lucy and Ethel without the laugh track and you get some idea of what THAT was like. Never again...

Saturday, it's Utica, New York, for the Mid-York Library System, with a Scan/Perceptions presentation followed by a white board exercise on what libraries might look like if we were creating them from scratch today.

And next week, it's on to PLA in Boston. So who needs Dick Vitale? We librarians have our own version of March Madness!

Netflix for What???

Several weeks ago, I did a post on how I think the Netflix model should be applied to library circulation systems. Little did I know what a Pandora's box I would be opening.

Now, thanks to Andy Havens, here is Netflix carried to an illogical conclusion: accessories. (My dear long-suffering wife would ask, "And what on earth do you know about accessorizing?")

Self-service, disaggregation, collaboration, internationalization---this has to fit in here somewhere!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

We're All Gone

Your IAGers are all away from their computers for significant amounts of time this week, for one reason or another. So, blogging will be lighter than usual, I expect.

I was in Nashville over the weekend to speak to attendees of the SirsiDynix Executive Program that preceded their annual SuperConference for users. I had to leave yesterday before Jenny Levine and Aaron Schmidt spoke, unfortunately. But I did hear Patricia Martin and luckily (because I took no notes and my computer was packed), Jenny did too and she blogged Pat's talk which was very good. Pat was one of our panelists at the OCLC Symposium at ALA Midwinter and her talk there was great too (webcasts are here). Plus she's funny.

On Sunday morning, Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, spoke and I did take notes, but they're on the back of a crossword puzzle that I left at home today. It was a pleasure to meet him as I think the Pew reports are invaluable--certainly several of them figured large in our research and reading for the Environmental Scan--but also because he's a good presenter and nice guy.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Phoenix Rising

Sunday and Monday, I had the good fortune to participate in the Arizona Convocation, an annual event sponsored by Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. I delivered a talk Sunday night called "Living in the Amazoogle World." (Thanks, Lorcan, for the neologism "Amazoogle;" people get it instantly!) The convocation is unique, I think: I'm not aware of another conference that brings together representatives from all sorts of cultural heritage organizations the way this one does. GladysAnn Wells, the state librarian of Arizona, has responsibility for assisting all of these institutions, and this gives her a great position from which to call this type of meeting.

Today, Karen Smith, the Director of the Water Quality Division of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, delivered a fascinating program about water management for the 21st century. For someone like me, who has spent all but 7 of his 50 years in states bordering the Great Lakes, the whole idea of even having to talk about water was an eye-opening experience. But even an Easterner like me sees the craziness of importing all sorts of thirsty, non-native plants and sports (like golf) to a city in the desert.

Today, there were two sets of breakout sessions, one by type of institution, and one by geographic region. The geographic discussion revolved around what libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions could do to increase awareness of water issues in the state.

There were some great quotes. One gentleman was talking about the difficulty of introducing change into an institution. He said the attitude is generally "Change is great: you go first!"

The museum group talked about ways to find out how people are reacting to their exhibits. One person suggested using the docents to gather guest reactions. It reminded me of how libraries are looking for ways of incorporating the circ staff into the planning process.

Marisa Ramirez introduced the new Arizona Memory Project. The site includes photos, video, documents, and other artifacts. It would be way too commercial for me to mention that the project is powered by CONTENTdm, so I won't.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Windmill, Windmill

Windmill, Windmill for the land,
Turn forever hand in hand,
Love forever, love is free,
Let’s turn forever, you and me.”
(“Feel Good, Inc.” - Gorillaz (composer: Gorillaz/Jolicoeur, D.) [band’s Wikipedia entry, web site]

The animated music video of “Feel Good, Inc.” [video in real & winmedia from Toshiba-EMI Japan] by Gorillaz (a “virtual band” composed of four fictional animated characters which are featured in the bands’ animated music videos) has enjoyed popularity and seems apropos as a segue to noting a very important anniversary in popular media – 2006 is the 100th anniversary of the animated film.

In April, 1906, Englishman-in-America James Stuart Blackton  created what is regarded as the first American animated film – “...Blackton directed "Humorous Phases of Funny Faces" [video in mpg from America’s Library] which uses stop-motion as well as stick puppetry to produce a series of effects. After Blackton's hand draws two faces on a chalkboard, they appear to come to life and engage in antics. Most of the film uses life action effects instead of animation, but nevertheless this film had a huge effect in stimulating the creation of animated films in America” [quoted text from Wikipedia, additional information from here].

Animated films have come a long way from these humble beginnings, and what was an exotic novelty a century ago is now the stuff of the universal childhood experience, and a high circulation genre at most public libraries. In recent years Japanese anime has become extremely popular and influential beyond the shores of Japan. I thoroughly enjoyed watching several films by Hayao Miyazaki that were featured on sequential Thursday nights on AMC not long ago, and I was not the least surprised to learn that my colleague, Roger Thompson, is at his local video store the day the latest release (3 volumes and running) in the Ghost in the Shell series hits retail shelves.

Libraries, archives, and museums no doubt have a lot of work going on this space, but I’ll admit my knowledge is a bit limited as to what’s going on. A search of the still-growing directory (search the “Archive Explore” directory) for animation collections at the Moving Image Collections (MIC) site yielded 81 agencies. Though unfortunately not yet listed at MIC (as I said MIC’s directory is a work in progress – add your collection if yours is not yet listed), worth noting is the ASIFA-Hollywood Archives which “acts as a repository for papers, production materials, publications and artwork of animation artists, organizations and studios, and makes them available to scholars, journalists and filmmakers” [source].  Their blog is promoting the 100th anniversary of animated film and offering news about ASIFA-Hollywood’s work on a project [Wikipedia entry] that “involves the creation of a VIRTUAL ARCHIVE which will house images, movie clips and sound files pertaining to the art of animation” [some interesting technical details here]. Courtesy of  a post on the Rogue Scholar, catalogers in particular may wish to consult a great article, “Graphic Novels! Japanese Anime! Help!!!,” by Jeanne Poole, in the December 2005 issue of TechKNOW.

Finally, as a historical note, for those of us who remember when MTV was young, the first major high-end animation music video was by the Norwegian group, A-ha [Wikipedia entry] whose song, “Take Me On” [video on MTV] enjoyed well-deserved heavy rotation on its debut. Stylistically different from the Gorillaz music videos, “Take Me On” displays uncommonly high production values given the general state of music videos issued during the same period.

So over to you, gentle IAG readers, where are the stand-out scholarly animation collections? What cool animation projects and animation-for-the-users stories are out there that everyone should know about? And is it just me, or does anyone else think ALA should get Gorillaz to pose for a celebrity READ poster?

(Note, image of Demon Days album cover is from here, and it’s use in this posting is believed to fair use)

Michigan Outreach

One of the women with whom I work here in OCLC's Member Services has a daughter who was just accepted at the University of Michigan. (No Ohio State versus Michigan jokes to follow, I promise!)

Amy hasn't decided whether or not she's going to Michigan, but the U-M has already sent her a long e-mail, introducing the University, and providing key information about the library's services. In fact, the library is discussed before the athletic program at Ann Arbor. Here's how the library section of the e-mail reads:

Library Resources
It's not just that U-M has an undergraduate library that's open from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m. (that's right: 5 a.m.) everyday. It's not just that there are 7,348,460 books in the U-M collections, not to mention the millions of periodicals, microfilms, and audio and visual materials. It's not just that there's a library here for every subject you might be interested in (see for yourself: It's the fact that there are only a handful of places in the entire world whose library resources are equal to ours. Whatever you want to know about, it's here for you to find. Start now; get to know the U-M library system at

Great placement for the library, and a wonderful way to get new students thinking about the library before they ever set foot on the campus.

Friday Odds and Ends

Herewith a posting with no central theme but which pretty closely resembles my ramblings around the Web this week.

* VP of the Technology Development group at Yahoo!, Bradley Horowitz, has started a blog. It's always interesting to read blogs written by senior people at companies, particularly well-known ones, and most especially interesting when that company has a major role in Libraryland. His first few posts have been most interesting. For example..."In a previous post, I mentioned our efforts around lowering barriers to entry for participation, i.e. empowering consumers with tools that transform them into creators. Tagging is perhaps the simplest and most direct example of how lowering a barrier to entry can drive and spur participation."

* No DRM on ebooks? The poster , John Scalzi, is a sci-fi author published by Tor Books. "No DRM? Really? Really really. Why? Allow me to quote Tor's Patrick Nielsen Hayden on this one:We've tested a lot of e-book waters, including various cockamamie schemes involving overpriced e-books laden with DRM.Oddly enough, a lot of those "books" didn't even sell enough copies to pay for their file-conversion costs. [snip] My information does not want to be free; it wants to pay my mortgage. But slapping DRM onto an e-book doesn't do a damn thing other than annoy people who buy the book online -- i.e., one's actual customers. The only possible way to make DRM work for e-books at all is to stop selling physical books, and even then it's doomed to failure. You can lock down the text, you can even lock down the computer (so, say, you can't take a screenshot of the page while the DRM-protected text is online). But you can't lock down people's eyeballs."

* An late 2005 article based on a conference presentation (pdf) very much related to our Perceptions report. "Gaining Mindshare and Timeshare: Marketing Public Libraries." It's housed in the E-LIS open archive.
Here's the abstract:
"This presentation is an examination of how the [Singapore] National Library Board had successfully gained market share by redefining its market space and remaking the image of libraries and librarians. Libraries were repositioned to gain mindshare and timeshare among Singaporeans, competing against the cinema, TV, video games and other leisure activities, becoming the Third Place after home and work for many."

* Online Publishers Association conference keynote, given by the CEO of Reuters, Tom Glocer. “If the user wants to be both author and editor, and technology is increasingly enabling this, what will be the role of the media company…?” He has three answers: Media companies will be a “seeder of clouds.” Live blogging from Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine. Rafat Ali at paidContent also covers: "Too much choices means not choosing at all...brands serve a filtering function. Choice means letting professionals do it, and sometimes the wisdom of crowds help us do it. If you lose the trust of your lose the audience." Rafat provides an audio link.
Definitely one of those items I suggest you read wearing your library lens.
UPDATE (3:45PM edt) Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 has some carping to do about Mr. Glocer's speech. "Here’s what I think of this — Tom Glocer has fooled 2.0 advocates like Jeff Jarvis into thinking he’s drunk the Koolaid, but the truth is, he hasn’t. This is Media 1.1 at best, and it still represents a formlua for perpetuating the entrenchment of Old Media at the center."

And I'm off tomorrow to Nashville where I am on the Sunday program of the SirsiDynix Executive Conference (preceding their SuperConference). I'll be speaking about the data from the Perceptions report that pertains to respondents attending a postsecondary institution. Other speakers include Ernie Ingles, Jenny Levine, Pat Martin (who was one of our Symposium speakers at ALA MidWinter) Aaron Schmidt, Chris Sherman, Lee Rainie, and of course, Stephen Abram.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

We Love Stories

Especially happy ones. I am pulling this one from our comments, specifically, George's post about the Montana OFFLINE conference. K-12 librarian Lyn McKinney left this note:

"It was really a treat for us to hear some the wisest library thinkers share ideas that got us thinking. I have to tell you that thanks to all of you - I took your ideas to my principal yesterday and was talking to him about the application of the flat world concept in education. We had a great conversation.

Two hours later he called me and said that a local telecommunications company wanted to donate $2,000.00 to our school and he couldn't think of a better place to put the money! So we got two thousand dollars yesterday to purchase some technology upgrades for the library! The most ironic part of this story is that the people who came to bring us the check and take the photo for publicity were not from that telecommunications company - they were from an advertising company outsourced to give away the money - the world really is flat!

One last comment - you are so right about Bruce Newell and his contributions that benefit library users in Montana and in this flat world, all library users. Bruce sees Montana for what it is - a big space with a small population - and has helped us build on the principals of trust and doing what is best for our users. He understands that we are all in this together - and building on his latest mantra, "hope trust and guts" we will continue Montana's rich history of service to library users everywhere."

As you'll see though, from this article (a few years old), Lyn and her colleague Jan Allen are seasoned "change-agents". I'm sure she didn't really need our ideas to convince her principal that Lyn and Jan's library is a wise place to invest windfalls. But it's a good story!