Monday, December 10, 2007

Queens Library Learning

Well, I think I've finished all 23½ things. At any rate, I hope I did!

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
I really enjoyed the whole thing. I most enjoyed writing the post about technology and really taking the time to think carefully about how I use technolgy and how we can harness the swift movement of technology and software changes going on now for use in libraries. I very much enjoyed learning some new things and will keep several applications in mind for future use.

How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
Some years ago, when I moved from Houston to the Dallas area, a friend told me "your word of the year should be intentionality." I grew up in an extremely fatalist sub-culture: whatever was going to happen, was going to happen. It's been sometimes difficult for me to see that one can set out to accomplish something. I've learned that in many ways over the years (and made "intentionality" my "word of the decade"!) and this program was yet another helpful way in reinforce that idea.

Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
It didn't surprise me, but the "take-away" for me was reading the blogs of the other participants and feeling I was getting to know people in a different way, often by realizing we were all sharing some frustration.

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
I think it might have been useful to have 3 or 4 Tuesday mornings as work sessions on the "Things" for those who need some time away from their usual work place to be able to concentrate. This could have been just a room with computers available or more focused on some of the particular applications. And maybe 1 or 2 forums for people to talk in person about their discoveries, excitement, frustrations, or learning moments. Otherwise, I think it was very well planned and designed. I ended up doing a lot of it at home, but that was by choice.

And last but not least…
If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you again chose to participate?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thing 22 Audiobooks

I successfully found, checked out, and listened to some of And Then There Were None, which is the sort of thing I listen to as an audiobook.

Some narrators and productions are so good, that the audiobook is even better than the book, I think. One is Jim Dale, the narrator for the Harry Potter books. I confess that I found young Harry of no interest whatsoever. But I decided to check out the first book (on CD, shortly after it came out) and really liked his voice. I've listened to all but the last book (and I'll eventually get around to that one, when taking a long trip or something like that). And I could listen to Lisette Lecat (the narrator of, among other things, The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency) read the telephone book. I picked up that audiobook completely by accident. I didn't care much for the story, as there's not much to it. But it made a fine vehicle for Ms. Lecat's voice.

What I liked about the downloaded version of the audiobooks was there there were no bulky cassettes or CDs to manage. And it seemed that it would be easy to keep up with one's place in the story.

All in all, a very nice service.

Important note

I'm on vacation today!

I didn't spend all day in the office doing the "Things"! I just returned from a few days in New Orleans, where I stayed at the Pierre Coulon Guesthouse, which is a wonderful place to stay in that fascinating city. (And one of the owners has an MLS, even though he doesn't currently work as a librarian).

Thing 21 Podcasts

I've listened to a few podcasts before. And in my LiveJournal blog, I make a voicepost every few weeks (often I just read a poem or talk about something while walking down the street).

I think audio adds something very nice to the Internet. It's good to receive some of the parts of communication that are present in tone of voice and accent that are just not there in text only.

And here's the unusual thing about me and podcasts. When I'm actively involved in learning, I primarily receive information by listening. I listen closely, take few notes, and remember very well.

However, I find it difficult to listen to audio without seeing the person (this is equally true of audiobooks), unless I'm doing something else as well. So, I can listen very well while working out at the gym, while cooking, or while doing something else. But it's hard to focus on actually learning something this way.

But I still find the occasional podcast of value. I already had one or two set up in my Bloglines account, so I didn't add any more. I don't often listen to them--primarily because it's not possible to just glance over to see if I'm interested enough to pay close attention. Instead, it's necessary to actually listen!

Things 16 and 17 Wikis

Wikipedia is a great thing and has been my primary contact with wikis (the other has been the wikis ALA creates for conferences).

I have contributed some small corrections to Wikipedia articles (in one, the whole change was to change "non-profit" to "not-for-profit", but it was a very important distinction in that article). It's surprisingly easy to modify wikis, though there is something about the format (other than Wikipedia) that I don't see to be able to follow very well. But I think that has to do with the planning and design, not the basic idea of a wiki.

I kept thinking I had posted about this, but then I remembered that either on QL Chat or on another library forum I had posted something about using Wikipedia for reference questions. I looked through several library wikis and found them interesting. Many, though, I think could have easily been set up in other ways--that is, it felt like they were wikis just to be "with it". I would prefer to see the various versions and editors. Or a blog format would work just as well. For example, I think the ALA conference wikis could be set up as forums, like the QL Chat just as well as they could be wikis. There is no need for "correction" of posts and, in fact, I think that few are "corrected."

When I have done collaborative work, I've used a blog with comments or something like Google Docs. Maybe I just want more control than a wiki provides!

Thing 14 Technorati

1. Take a look at Technorati and try doing a keyword search for “Learning 2.0” in Blog posts, in tags and in the Blog Directory. Are the results different?

OK, I'm missing something (probably because I waited a while to do this). I see how to look for "Learning 2.0" in the tags......oh, OK, you click on "advanced" search. The results didn't seem all that different to me, though of course one can see differences. Interesting. I also searched some things that just interest me and found some interesting posts.

Now, what I don't quite get is the value of being able to just search blogs. I can think of some few times that I might do this, but not often.

I enjoyed Technorati and was glad to learn more about it. However, I'm more or less on information overload, so I think I'll stick with the tools I already know. I read plenty enough blogs already.

Also, the blogs I read, I read because I know or admire the writer. I don't want to just jump into the middle of a blog by a writer I don't know.

Thing 19 Web 2.0 tools

How cool! I had never heard of this award and right away bookmarked it (using, of course) so that I can spend time later looking through many of the sites.

I am particularly interested in local information on the web (I love the "neighborhood" application on Facebook and have made a good friend there--someone I wouldn't have met otherwise who lives only 4 blocks from me). So, I checked out several of the "City Guides and Reviews" and focused on Yelp

It was interesting. Oddly, unlike most of these sites, there was a lot of information about my hometown in Oklahoma. Many of the local sites are much more focused on cities, which makes sense. More new people move to cities, so people are looking for more information. And it's harder to be anonymous in one's reviews in a small town.

There wasn't as much in NYC, by neighborhood at least, as I would have thought. But the site is very easy to use, both to search and to create reviews.

I think that adding libraries to local information sites reminds people that libraries are still out there and still providing useful services.

Thing 18 collaboration

I've had a Google Docs account almost from the beginning of Goggle Docs. Being able to collaborate on documents was one of the things I thought would happen much earlier in the history of the Internet. I use Google Docs a lot. Not so much for work, where the Microsoft products are standard and (at some levels, anyway) there is easy access to shared drives. But for writing outside work, I often use Google Docs and highly recommend it. I checked out the other two sites as well and found them interesting and useful, but I don't think that I'll change, just because I'm so familiar with Google Docs already.

Thing 20 Video

OK, I just wanted to see if I could post a video on YouTube a few months ago. I don't take much video with my camera, but I couldn't resist video of these guys in Central Park (you may have seen them; I've seen them several times).

YouTube can be a terrible waste of time, but it also makes it really easy to share video content. I can see libraries using it to introduce staff (more in a smaller library), demonstrate something, offer a preview of a program, give a building tour, and so forth. It seems to almost call for amateur video, so one doesn't feel that it's necessary to have highly sophisticated video. And because so many people are looking for video there every day....those same people could easily just run across the library's video.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thing 17 ½ Facebook

Me on Facebook. I'll have more to say about libraries and Facebook in another post--just looked at the time!

OK, I'm not writing a new post, just editing this one and adding to it.

I have a friend who manages a a Facebook page for a university library. It seems like a library page on MySpace--that is, an institution trying very hard to be hip or cool.

But I do see the utility of creating events and inviting people to them. If the library page was more or less a plain one with events, hours, a gadget to search the catalog, and a bit more, I think it might work well. It would be easier, I think, for a university library, which can more easily ask people to "be friends".

I'm a bit of a Facebook addict. It's fun and the first good way I've found to actually get to know people (or get to know them better).

Thing 13 Tagging

I've been using for a little more than a year. As with some other things, this began because my hard drive had crashed and I had lost a long list of bookmarks. Fortunately enough, it's now easy to remember a lot of web addresses (remember back when all Internet addresses were number?), so I don't bookmark as much as I used to.

Now, though, is the only way I save links: it's safe from crashes (or theft--a cartoonist friend just had his laptop and 2 backup hard drives stolen), it's easy to access from another computer, it allows viewing of other people's tags.

I can think back to who we had our books arranged when I was managing telephone reference (we had our own shelving method, with sections like "who" (biographical sources), "where" (geographical sources), "words" (dictionaries), "quotes" (self-evident), and so on. With, we could have tagged websites with the matching section name, which would have been very helpful.

And, of course, for the Dewey lovers among us, it's easy to use DDC for tags. While that might not be so interesting for customers, it could be a simple way for librarians to organize links.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thing 15: Library 2.0

I've read several of these articles--and many others--about Library 2.0.

I think the name is a bit silly, as it seems to imply that libraries before social software were in testing mode or something.

Here's what I think: social software is now enabling large libraries to do what smaller libraries could do before.

That is, it's easier for customers to exchange information and ideas with each other online in a city than it is to meet people face to face.

Taking tagging and customer-generated book reviews, for example. We do need to break out of the limits imposed by vendors (as Queens Library is doing) to allow something that resembles However, there's nothing new about this concept at all.

The brilliant library director, Jean Harrington, of the Public Library of Enid and Garfield County (now deceased) introduced these ideas in Enid, Oklahoma in the 1960s. And she can't have been the first person to think of this. In fact I know these ideas were common in Oklahoma libraries by the 1950s. And again, being from Oklahoma I know that this must have started years earlier somewhere else.

Here's how she did it (and how we still did it when I worked there 20 years later). We clipped a review from a journal or magazine and glued it into the back of the book. The review was found when (or shortly after) the book was ordered, so it was there in the order file. Then, we glued in a form asking customers to rate the book and make comments in the front. There you have it, reviews and tagging before there was even a thought of having a computer in the library. (Well, many people had thought of computers in libraries, but not in public libraries in rural Oklahoma.)

There's really nothing diffent about the basic concept. Software and the Internet just make this much easier to manage.

(The Enid Library also had a wonderful collection of scripts and Miss Harrington would write to Broadway producers, actors, and playrights for comments about current plays. Many would answer and their letters would be used for displays. To be sure, these were simpler times, but it was a big deal for someone in Enid to know this play was recommended by, say, Angela Lansbury!)

It''s becoming easier and increasingly important for libraries to "add value". That can be a helpful display, a reader's advisory comment, a booklist, social tagging, reviews in the catalog, or many other things. Information and recreation is readily available--the public library was never the only source of either, but the marketplace of ideas at least seems more crowded.

Another concept behind Library 2.0 that is important, I think, is that customer are no longer interested in library "automation" as an end. They don't care that the library has computers; that's taken for granted. They're looking for systems that work together and that users don't have to understand. In a word: seamless.

We have a long way to go in this regard as a profession. Take one simple example. A customer wants to read a particular book and it is not in the closest library. Currently, the customer must do one thing if another Queens Library owns the book, something else if it is to be requested by Interlibrary Loan, and something else again if the customer wants to suggest that the library purchase the book. That's not seamless at all (nor is it uncommon--that is, this is a public library issue, not only a Queens Library issue).

When libraries used paper catalogs, it took some time to teach customers how to use them, but it didn't even look easy! Besides, the only other similar thing was a department store catalog (who else waited in anticipation every year for the Sears "Wish Book"?). And that was only similar in concept; I don't think it felt that similar to most people.

Now, searching a library catalog doesn't seem that different from searching with Google or using an online retail outlet--for customer who use those things.

And that leads me to my last point: not everyone is willing and able to use computers successfully. I feel sure of this, because I grew up without a telephone at a time when most everyone was assumed to have one!

P.S. I was speaking with a group of designers last week (I have several friends in the design industry) about library catalogs. They expressed frustrations that all library staff have heard. But when I asked "What if a library designed a catalog with a disply that looked like the creamy catalog cards, with Courier font, and laid out something like a catalog card...and what if those cards "flipped" by when you did a search? Would you like that? Interestingly all said they would--especially if there was a very faint sound of cards flipping. Crazy? Probably. But.....maybe not!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

from the New York Botanical Garden

There is one week left to see the beautiful exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden. Here's my favorite picture from my visit this weekend:

Monday, October 29, 2007

Number 9 locating newsfeeds

I think I would really need to need to do this. I found all the tools confusing. And I kept getting results that would be spam if I got them in emails. The results didn't have a thing to do with the subjects I entered. Of the 4 suggestions, I liked Technorati the best. I didn't really add anything to my feeds doing this. However, nowadays I'm really trying to actively manage my information "input". I actively share information, keep up with a lot of friends, share a lot of pictures, and so forth. But I'll keep these tools in mind when the time comes (as I know it will) that I want to add to my news feeds.

Number 12 Rollyo

I'm not doing these in I think I'll start numbering the "things".

Rollyo was new to me, which was fun. I remember when Google was whispered about from librarian to librarian (none of my non-librarian friends in those days had heard of Google). This was more or less what you did, gathered useful sites and search them. I'd sort of forgotten how nice it is to be able to do a search of sites I want to search and not what results a commercial site chooses to give me.

I think I might set of some of these if I were still doing reference every day.

What I did was think about a few sites I search for music. I added those together and came up with this. I don't know that I will use it often, but I enjoyed learning something new.

Everything seemed straightforward except finding the link to post here. It took me a long time to find "share"!

Library Thing

And here you have a photograph of my Italian greyhound, Dolcezza (you can call her Chessa, if you meet her on the street) by my friend Jason Smith and a "Warholized" version from fd's Flickr Toys.

As many people already know, there's a candy jar available in CLS, on Karen Washington's desk, stocked by me. Personally, of course.

Help yourself to a small treat if you happen to be by the office.

Now, that's image generation and helpful information!


I've used Bloglines for a few years now to keep track of some things I like to read: some personal blogs, a few library sites, a site with a tip about dogs every week, a few sites with photographs.

But I have to say, for all I find the newsreader useful, I don't really like it. I can't say why, exactly.

On my personal blog, I keep a long list of links. I find it's more my style to think "I wonder if Karen has posted something new" while writing in my own blog than to check the newsreader. It's sort of the way I read in general, more random than organized, more serendipitous than planned.

Yet I keep using Bloglines for one primary reason. It alerts me to sites that I thought were more or less dormant when they spring back to life.

And that's worth a lot.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"unread" books

From a friend's blog:

These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users as of 30 September 2007. Bold what you have read, italicize what you started but didn't finish, and underline it if you watched the movie adaptation.

(I didn't bother with the films, as I haven't seen films of any of the books I haven't read.)

The Aeneid

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
American Gods
Anansi Boys
Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
Angels and Demons
Anna Karenina
Atlas Shrugged
The Blind Assassin
Brave New World
The Brothers Karamazov
The Canterbury Tales
(at least one Tale just as written, that is, in the original English)
The Catcher in the Rye
A Clockwork Orange

Cloud Atlas
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
A Confederacy of Dunces
The Confusion
The Corrections
The Count of Monte Cristo
Crime and Punishment

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
David Copperfield
Don Quixote
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Foucault's Pendulum
but it was tough going
The Fountainhead
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

The God of Small Things
The Grapes of Wrath I love this book....and the film.
Gravity's Rainbow
Great Expectations
Gulliver's Travels

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
The Historian
The Hobbit
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Iliad
In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences
not every bit of it, but enough to count, I think
Jane Eyre
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
The Kite Runner
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Love in the Time of Cholera
and have seen the opera, Florencia en el Amazonas
Madame Bovary
Mansfield Park
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Mists of Avalon
Moby Dick
Mrs. Dalloway
The Name of the Rose

Northanger Abbey
The Odyssey
Oliver Twist
On the Road
The Once and Future King
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Oryx and Crake
A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Poisonwood Bible
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Pride and Prejudice
The Prince

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Scarlet Letter

A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Silmarillion
The Sound and the Fury
A Tale of Two Cities
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
The Three Musketeers

The Time Traveler's Wife
To the Lighthouse
Treasure Island
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Vanity Fair
War and Peace
Watership Down

White Teeth
Wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values


When I think of technology, I first think of washing clothes.

Bear with me for a moment, as I know that's not what you first thought of--or at least I'm guessing it's not!

While the automatic clothes washer had certainly been invented by the time I came along and while my mother owned one (and a dryer as well), I often stayed with my grandparents as a child. My grandparents weren't all that old (my father's grandmother was only 50 years old when I was born). They looked forward and back at the same time. For example, my mother's father made all of us chop cotton every spring for at least a day and pick cotton for at least a day every fall. His logic was that no matter how badly your day had gone at any other job, you could always think back "well, at least I'm not in the cotton field". And I have to tell you, he was right.

Both my grandmothers taught me (and my cousins) to wash with a scrub board. Nope that's not just a decorative object or an instrument in a zydeco band. It's really meant to wash clothes, complete in this picture with the same kind of homemade soap that we learned to make as well. My grandmothers figured, that if there was no electricity (which was often the case), you still had to know how to wash clothes.

After we mastered the scrub board, we moved on the the washing machine. Perhaps you've seen this contraption on Green Acres. Or perhaps you've used one yourself.

Ours was outside and did connect to the power grid directly through the electric pole. Getting water into it involved heating water on the stove and hauling it outside to the washing machine. Believe me, you washed the cleaner clothes first, so that you didn't have to keep changing the water. The rinse water was in a basin on legs.

So, every single time I do laundry by putting the quarters in the machine, pressing "warm" and sitting down to wait, I'm grateful for technology.

When I think of my great-grandmother's mother, who went to visit her sister in Indiana, coming from Oklahoma to do so, in 1898, I'm grateful for technology. She took her eldest daughter, 2 mules, and a wagon. She was gone two years, because by the time she got there, she figured she might as well stay a while. (It took her 9 months to get to Indiana and 6 months to get home; the rest was the visit.) Imagine this: Google estimates that same trip to take 11 hours and 12 minutes (from Roff, Oklahoma, to Terre Haute, Indiana). Now people won't be telling stories about my trips a hundred years from now, but I'm thinking an airplane or even a bus beats two mules and a wagon any day.

I started working in libraries in 1980. The first library I worked in not only typed catalog cards and used the Gaylord Card Charger, but also painted the spine of light colored books with a peculiar black paint and had staff hand-write call numbers with a heated pen, through a white tape.

So, just like using the scrub board or the wringer washing machine, I know how much work it was to operate libraries before computer technology.

Mostly, now, I enjoy learning more and more about computer-based technology. I never wanted to master a computer language or be a programmer, but the user-focused way technology works today makes it very inviting and often satisfying.

Sometimes, it seems as though technology changes too fast. Cell phones, for example. I don't want to get a new one, because I'm quite sure I haven't yet figured out everything my current phone can do! With a new phone, who knows what it might be able to do? Cook dinner?

I enjoyed learning about Flickr and opened a Flickr account to put my picture on this blog.

So, I'll end with a photo from The Encampment, a public art installation on Roosevelt Island last week, exploring the history of that island through art, seen at night in tents:

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Children's programs

Well, really a question.

When I was a children's librarian, many years ago and many miles away, I used a great book that suggested passages of classical music to play while doing storytime. I only remember one, which was to use the Blue Danube while reading Swimmy.

Does anyone else remember this book?

It was such a great enhancement to my regular storytime (using that word in its most generic sense).

Monday, October 1, 2007

name in Chinese (xing) script

7 and a half habits

1. Begin with the end in mind. My goal for this blog and for the 23½ things is simple enough: to take part each week. I'm excited to see how others here learn and use the tools and I'm looking forward to learning new things. I also have a goal, longer term than this program, to think of the best ways (trying things that turn out not to be the best ways, most likely) to use the Web 2.0 concepts to improve communication within, among, from and to librarians and library workers.

2. Accept responsibility for your own learning. I'm comfortable with that.

3. View problems as challanges. I think this is an important habit for life and one that I had a lot of great examples as a child and as a young librarian to see how others lived out this habit.

4. Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner. I really find that most everyone who works in libraries is confident and comfortable learning.

5. Create your own learning toolbox. I read other blogs, talk with librarians, talk with friends in other fields (social work, sociology, and retail are the ones I think I've learned the most from) and read. I also find that I look for the tools with the problem...make that opportunity presents itself. So, I didn't seek out photo sharing tools until a friend asked me to put a picture of my dog on my other blog.

6. Use technology to your advantage. I try to do that.

7. Teach/mentor others. Recently I'm showing a group of librarians from around the country how to use Facebook. That's been really interesting. These librarians are mid-career or closer to retirement. All are excited about the opportunities, but each is learning differently.

7½. Play. !


I have another blog that's named with a line in a Leonard Cohen song.

So, I've named this one with a line from a Bob Dylan song that I like very much (though I usually think of Joan Baez singing it): Forever Young.

Here's the stanza:

"May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young."