October 31, 2007

IL2007: What's Hot with RSS

Steven Cohen - Always an entertaining speaker!

slides online at stevenmcohen.pbwiki.com/IL2007

Hot on Google Reader... also Tumblr.

page2rss - very handy tool to create feeds for any web page

ScreenGrab again - must definitely check this tool out -

IL2007: Mashups & Data Visualizations

Darlene Fichter - in costume no less! (As a green M&M.)

The eyes only see what the mind comprehends

Mashups are no longer in the realm of the techno-elite


most mashups are map-related

lots of tools out there now that make visualization of data easy. Web site structures, population densities, etc. Newsmap is pretty cool!

Elastic Lists - demo - kind of nifty!!

In Costume at Internet Librarian

Yep, I'm in costume for the day - along with a few others - and yes, I'll be wearing this to give my presentation this afternoon. (I also have trick-or-treat bags full of candy for the audience!)

October 30, 2007

IL2007: Gadgets, Gadgets, and Gaming

As previously mentioned, I was 30 minutes late to this session so missed out on all the gadget talk, dang it! But - I gotta say - the gaming and future of libraries section by the Delft Public Library guys was awesome. I haven't been so engaged by a presentation in a long time - I stood for the whole thing and didn't notice it at all! They're blogging and posting interviews, etc online at Shanachie Tour - and there's a documentary coming soon, too.

I've seen postings from Jenny at Shifted Librarian and Michael at Tame the Web about these guys before but didn't really have an idea about what they were doing - but dang, it's great! Keep an eye on their tour and documentary - we saw some great things being said and done in libraries today.

Very cool! (Plus, they sounded like home to me...)

IL2007: SLA dinearound

A group of 9 of us collected to check out Cafe Fina and talk story - we ended up scooping up another librarian from another table and sucked her right into our group as well! Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures because there was a sudden eddy in the space-time continuum when it came time to get and pay the bill... plus, be it noted, Cafe Fina charges for the water the waiter offers you at the start of the meal. They didn't tell us that - just asked us as we sat down if we wanted water, and we of course all said yes - it ended up being $5 per person by the end of the evening! We asked for it to be taken off the bill as we were not informed there was a charge for it, but management declined to do so. It was a rather down ending to what had been an enjoyable and lively meal...

And it made us 30 minutes late to the Tuesday night session! Arrgh!

IL2007: Librarians as Knowledge Managers

Susan Braun, The Aerospace Corporation

Review of AeroCorp... turns 47 this year. Concerns about the greying of the staff and loss of historical perspective. They're still working to specs from decades ago, but new hires work in new ways and need new ways to access information.

Corp motto: "From Anywhere to Anywhere"

Comparison of historical role and role today. Now they are key players in document management, LiveLink, communities of practice etc; large part of funding comes from KM office, not library office.

Librarians are integral players in the Communities of Practice - facilitators, organizers, coordinators, etc. Reference staff are embedded into the communities as in-place technical experts.

KM training processes.

IL2007: I'm at Web 2.0, are you?

(Both speakers were very lively and entertaining!)

Sarah Palmer, American Bar Association

Finding that trying to get to 2.0 apps problematic, users still don't see a computer as a multi-tool, but as a typewriter or fax machine. They also think that if it's something their kids use, it can't be a business application.

Another issue is terminology - users think the names are weird - don't understand RSS but do understand newspaper, don't understand wiki but do understand web site. Did many training sessions, including one on just a technology glossary...learned to keep it discrete (don't teach too many topics at once).

Don't forget: it may not be new to you, but it's new to them.

David Alsmeyer, British Telecom

Had no idea BT was so widespread!

What's the best thing you've done to reach your customers? And what have you always wanted to try but been afraid to? (F2F explanation, and letting them take action/responsibility for their own sections of the web site)

Tour of the BT library personalized web options and info spaces - very cool!

Had a hypothesis that academics would be more aware of 2.0 apps than working group; replicated a SPIRE survey at BT and discovered the opposite was true!

October 29, 2007

IL2007: Web Design on a Dime

Sarah Houghton-Jan gave a nicely entertaining talk about different ways to engage your patrons that don't cost a lot. Her slides will be on her web site soon; my computer kept crashing for some odd reason (maybe it doesn't like being under 35% battery power?) during her session so most of my notes are gone (don't laugh; I had a pen but nothing to write on!), but she touched on quite a few tasks that make a lot of sense (talk with your users, not to them; give classes; provide what the users are looking for, where they're looking for it).

Tomorrow, hopefully the computer will behave better; at least today I was able to scout out where some of the power connections are!

LU/NextGen and LSW

LU/NextGen and LSW
Originally uploaded by desertlibrarian
After dinner, we attempted to crash the LSW get-together at the Crown and Anchor pub, but were told by a very cranky server that we couldn't sit in that part of the pub if we weren't going to eat anything! So we moved to a different part of the bar, and some of the LSW crowd came and joined us after they were done eating. A good time was had by all!

LU/NextGen dinner

LU/NextGen dinner
Originally uploaded by desertlibrarian
We had quite a lot of fun at the LU/NextGen dine-around! Thanks to everyone who joined in!


Can someone explain to me why a hotel that's already charging a fair amount for a room, and is charging me extra for net access in my room, does NOT also provide me net access in the lobby? No, if I want net access in the lobby of my hotel, I have to pay an additional fee on top of the one I'm already paying... for net access in my hotel.


IL2007: Cool Tools for Webmasters

Frank Cervone and Darlene Fichter - always a great talk!

Sketchcast - basically whiteboard on the web, with audio - could be a useful way to illustrate a concept, similar to a webconference -

JingProject - instant screen capture tool, can share via IM (good for showing how to change a setting, for example) - can also be used with video and audio - use for the How To pages!!

Piknik - very cool image editor, works within IE and FireFox... hmm... heard good things about this before this session, will have to go check it out. ***Can capture full page with this no matter how many screens it takes!!!

***SlideShare (presentation from this session will be posted there, too) - can also add audio to a slide show!

Other PPT sharing tools: Scribd, SplashCast, ZohoShow, SlideAware

thumbalizr - quick thumbnail of screen or entire page, in a URL grab

DiffDaff - tool to compare files, folders, or web pages (Unix diff command for Windows) - handy to compare, say, the folder on a desktop with a folder on a thumb drive and see differences.

SOAP Sonar - tests and analyzes web services

Evolved - graphic display editor for HTML/scripting (html in blue, context tags in purple, javascripting in green, etc - adapts to whatever language you're using)

For Perl (on windows): check out perl express - same type of syntax highlighting

Photo Slideshow - Create a photo slideshow Flash animation out of static pictures on your machine. Similarly, Flashgallery Generator, which is XML.

Google Sitemap Builder

Google Coop CSE (can now integrate into site much more cleanly)

Flog Blog - Facebook app - also BlogFriends

KeePass - store all pwds in one database, locked with a master key - w00t!

Check out Undelete, Unstoppable Copier, Simple File Shredder as well - small but useful utilities, can carry around on a thumb drive

IL2007: New Rules for Web Design

Jeff Wisniewski, U Pittsburgh

- Use the several decades worth of research into usability and design to shortcut current design discussions as much as possible

- can narrow down to 'what is best practice"?

Simplicity rules... but... many library sites are multi-function ones with many different types of information, so finding a balance between too little and too much is important

"the time of simplicity, if it ever existed, is over"

design matters A LOT: first impressions, etc! Design for what your users are doing (this is important!).

Rule of 7 (not so much a rule as a guideline)
- well organized
- well labeled

3-click rule... is DEAD. users will click as long as they feel they're getting where they need to be.

Design for multi-platforms and don't design for a restricted 800x600 screen - be more fluid and use flexible design (CSS media types)

RIP web-safe colors? "most computers today have the ability to display millions of different colors"

For redesign of your site, look at other libraries BUT ALSO look outside library land! see what other sites are providing.

How often to redesign? Constantly - iterative, evolutionary change is good. Revolutionary change is hard on the users (and boy, haven't we all seen that!)

A/B testing (post one design for a little while, then a slightly different design, and compare user inputs)

Follow your own naming conventions! (Whatever makes most sense to your users)

...But - follow established standards and conventions.

Don't assume all users have speedy connections, and watch download/display times.

Must support all browsers for basic content! Accessibility GOOD. (Watch the added content.)

"graded browser support" - can tweak CSS to display different levels of content based on browser in use -

The time has truly come to ditch table-based layout!

Popups still bad - blocked by default by most browsers today.

Mouseover menus... raise many usability considerations. Not scannable so could impact that first impression.

Is scrolling still bad? Users scroll if there's a clue that there's something "below the fold" - not as much as an issue these days.

Identified pictures of people increase trust and credibility

RIA - Rich Internet Application

IL2007: DIY Intranet

Eleni Gogas and Donna Feddern, Escondido Public Library

Part I: how to set up an intranet using a wiki

previously used a shared network drive

Why a wiki instead of a 1.0 website?
- really want staff to participate
- informal
- easier to use and find info

- Picking a wiki: what did they need?
- wysiwyg
- easy to set up, easy to learn, easy to teach

they went with Jotspot but there are issues since its acquisition by Google

wiki farm options

Wiki Setup
- screenshots of different pages
- implementors needed to really slow down to teach the novice users

Training now in process
- Showing off wiki to all staff, give tours
- Train supervisors
- Overcome technophobia in staff
- Let them play!

Future phase: implementation
- Define go-to folks
- Guidelines
- Keep reminding and training staff
- Ongoing process

Issues & Troubleshooting
- Bugs in free wiki software
- Backups
- Fear of change
- Staff interest

Cool tools to try
- Spice up the wiki a bit - widgets, slideshows, etc

Part II: Examples of how they're using it and the impacts of implementing a site-wide intranet

IL2007: Super Searcher Tips

Mary Ellen Bates - always an entertaining speaker, lively presentations, some good things to check out!

goofresh - G-searches for new content within a specified time range

check out ResearchBuzz newsletter

doubletrust.net - compares Google and yahoo results, choose a preference of results

yahoo's mindset feature - are you researching or shopping?

MSN's synonym suggestion tool - will also show common misspellings

MSN's misspelling correction engine

live.com's "prefer" option

live.com's academic search

don't forget: there is life after the first 10 search results!

Ask's map features - driving *and* walking directions, takes local topography into account

exalead - check it out, there are so many cool features (it's MEBates' fave engine) - try the "near" operator and their wild-card truncation

Try the quick-answer features sometime - most SE's have them now - Ask's is most featured

Gigablast - limit to multiple sites; has powerful query syntax options

SnapSearch - can interact with a retrieved site before visiting it

PageBull - entirely visual, good for right-brained searchers

Squidoo - hybrid site; possible way to share with colleagues?

factbites - quick, small factual bits of information - will give sentences instead of words for search results - BUT max 30 results

TextRunner - looks for assertions - experimental site

NationMaster - source for national stats in graphical format

TouchGraph - visual clustering engine, IE only

OneLook - a reverse dictionary! like data=mining a dictionary

Kosmix - nice clustering search engine - lets you filter by criteria

IL2007: Opening Keynote

(Opening statements were quite enjoyable! Contest for retronym for "non-Internet Librarian" - on conference survey forms. Must come up with something!)

Lee Rainie from Pew - slides will be online, find and link

bit of blogger ego-boost :-) quite amusing; he began using blogger and IRC feedback to justify internet research to the higher management

8 hallmarks of new digital eco-system

1) media gadgets a part of daily life now
2) internet is at the center of the revolution (73% penetration into american adult section; 93% teenagers)
3) new gadgets allow communication everywhere (mobile wireless use is rising dramatically) college students living in the future now
4) ordinary citizens can be content creators; blogs, facebook, etc - but it's all so integrated now it's hard to tell how many kids are "blogging" when they think of it as just posting to their facebook site (for example)
5) all those content creators have an audience
6) many are sharing to build conversations and communities... share what they know, what they feel, etc - info evaluation, tagging, comments on posts, etc.
7) we're customizing our online experience with 2.0 tools
8) different people use tech in different ways

last major interview set "what kind of internet user are you":
9 major tech user groups (and 1 non-user group) - this is the survey from a few months ago (I'm a connector)

50% of the population falls into the low-tech crowd
only 8% are omnivores

what does this connectivity do for us? changes our relatioships - to information, and to each other

Action item: Think of yourself as an information conduit!

October 26, 2007

The Virtual Librarian

A new novel by Theodore Rockwell, "The Virtual Librarian: A Tale of Alternative Realities", will be having a book-promotional party in Second Life! That's kinda nifty - a book about a virtual librarian, in a virtual space. Read the press release about it, or an earlier one about the book itself. (I'm going to have to keep an eye open for this one!)

More on 'The Librarians' TV series

forwarded to me from some friends in the Pacific...thanks, Kris and Liz!

The Librarians, a dark new comedy on Australian TV that delves behind the hard cover of a suburban library, debuts October 31. The Australian Library and Information Association has launched a blog to serve as a professional forum about the show. Check out the trailer and interview. The shows will be downloadable from ABC Television after they are broadcast. [Good news for those of us outside Australia who'd like to see them!]

October 24, 2007

Children's Books to Check Out

With thanks to Kris (long-overdue!) and Matthew for information and summaries -
  • "The Flower", by John Light. A young boy works in a library in a black and white world. One day he finds a color picture of a flower in the forbidden books. He's so intrigued he starts looking for another such picture. When he finds one he starts something that may change his world...
  • "The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians", by Carla Morris. This is the story of a young boy who realizes all the answers are at the library, and his growing up. Kris says, "I loved the three librarians: one would answer every question with a reference book, one would answer with tons of books that could be borrowed, and the third would find lots of answers online."
  • "Carlo and the Really Nice Librarian", by Jessica Spanyol. Carlo the giraffe is making his first visit to the new library, but he's a little afraid of the librarian, Mrs. Chinca, with her sharp teeth and claws, until he learns how much she loves books.
  • "Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians", by Brandon Sanderson. "A hero with an incredible talent…for breaking things. A life-or-death mission…to rescue a bag of sand. A fearsome threat from a powerful secret network…the evil Librarians." (from the Scholastic blurb.)
I'm off to my local library catalog to put these on reserve!

T-7 Days and Counting

So, just about exactly one week from now, I'll be giving my talk on our voyage of discovery to web content management systems. Try as I might I haven't been able to figure out how to not use PowerPoint *sigh*; because the site is still locked down and private to my staff I can't show live examples, and all the "discovery" parts aren't on the site anyway. At least I'm not going to be reading my slides - I hate it when people do that - so hopefully I can keep the audience's attention for my whole 15 minutes!

Windy and a somewhat toasty 88°. We keep thinking fall has arrived, and then summer goes "Ha! Not yet!" ...

October 23, 2007

"The Librarians" finally broadcasts

The Australian TV series "The Librarians" (mentioned here a couple of times before) has finally gone to broadcast, and the first reviews are rolling in. (Re-summary, since I can't find my own posting: "The six-part series centers on the trials and tribulations of Frances O'Brien, a devout Catholic and head librarian. Her life unravels when she is forced to employ her ex-best friend, Christine Grimwood - now a drug dealer - as the children's librarian. Frances must do all she can to contain her menacing past and concentrate on the biggest event of the library calendar - Book Week.")Given these initial reactions, I really wish I could see the series, but I'll have to rely on the reviews and comments of others about it. Wonder if the next episodes will generate similar reactions?

Currently a lovely, sunny 82°.

Internet Librarian Schedule

I've just created and posted my IL schedule over on the conference wiki. Please note I'm hosting two dine-arounds: one Monday night for LU/NextGen folks, and one Tuesday night for SLA folks. Please consider joining us!

Above all, of course, please consider attending session B304, Wednesday afternoon starting at 2:45pm, to hear myself, May Chang and Amy Radermacher talk about content management systems!

October 19, 2007


I must admit, I want the "November was a good month" shirt (if only it came in another color, sigh) and the glasses on the female model. Bummer about the tape on the male model's glasses, though - they appear to have crossed "librarian" with "geek" for this one. (As a geeky librarian, I would like to state for the record: No tape on my glasses.)

Found via Folderol

The Joys of Telecommuting

So, we've had a rather pernicious, nasty and lasting bug rampaging through our household for the last week and a half. I thought I'd managed to avoid it, despite having to split work days with my hubby to stay home with him for three days (plus a weekend of house confinement) - but Wednesday I woke up with a fever and a head full of sneeze. And thus it continued...

Thankfully with Mr. Man back in school, I've actually been able to work from home (not possible with a child addicted to keyboards. Trust me.) and want to take a moment to say: Yay for VNC. With one little VPN connection into my workplace, I've been able to have multiple windows open on my WinXP desktop, the Windows server, and two different *nix machines.

Sadly, I had to go through three different VNC clients before finding one that worked. My usual VNC workhorse abruptly stopped working Wednesday late morning and afterwards just refused my connection. Chicken of the VNC (and let me just say: I love that name) would open a window for me, but wasn't accepting any cursor input - as in, I could look at it, but I couldn't do anything. It wasn't until a friend sent me RealVNC that I was actually able to work - and it's been solid for me since Wednesday afternoon.

Between VNC, Adium, and my trusty email, it's just like being there. Except for the jammies and louder music, that is...

90° and quite sunny. Welcome to fall in the desert!

October 16, 2007

Thanks On High

Warning: No library-related information is contained in the following post...

Being a military brat, having gone to a DoDDs high school and on to college on an AFROTC gig, I know a lot of folks in the military. Most of them have been involved in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. I recently received a wonderful email from my old friend James (he and I went to the Senior Prom together lo, so many years ago) - after 10,000 combat hours (with no casualties!), he, his Chinook helicopter and his unit left Iraq last week. James will be joining his family back home in Hawaii, and hopefully he can stay there for a while.

Welcome home, James, and bless you.

October 10, 2007

Mirror, Mirror

A law librarian friend of mine (hi, Amy!) sent me an October 2007 LexisNexis InfoPro column by Rhonda Keaton titled "Mirror, Mirror: Reflections on the Image of Librarians", where she mentions my "You don't look like a librarian!" site. I just wanted to say thanks, Rhonda! (Her column is available now and I'm assuming through this month; check the archives if you miss it.)

I heartily agree with one of her opening remarks, and it's why I keep these sites going:
"As I explain what I am doing now, without fail they take a breath, take a really hard look at me and exclaim, 'Wow. You don’t look like a librarian!'

It happened again just the other day. And it keeps happening whether I am meeting old friends or new acquaintances. This negative perception of librarians has a solid toehold in the rock cliff of public attitude and frankly, it’s starting to bug me."
Me too, Rhonda, me too.

October 9, 2007

Digging Out

Hello, sports fans... no, wait...

So I've been buried in engineering documentation manuals and standards (hello, ANSI/ASME Y14.35M!) for the past week or so. Interesting stuff (well, I think so, at least!) - it's good to know that what I've set up for us so far is pretty much within existing standards, although I have a lot of definitions to add to my existing specification document. (I'm learning that whenever possible, include a definition of your "thing" in your specification so that there are fewer questions about what you mean. Doesn't mean there won't be questions, there'll just be fewer of them.) Now that I've been through most of them (although I still have "Engineering Documentation Control Practices and Procedures" to work through) it's time to digest... and come up for air!

I was able to get back on the Drupal work today - spent all afternoon on it - and I feel quite satisfied with the way it's coming together. Yay! (My wrists wish there was a way to autoingest content, but alas, there is not...)

Tomorrow: Configuration Management Joy. Four change requests were finally approved at a meeting today (one of them has taken over a year to work through the process) and now I have to implement the changes across our documentation control processes. Wheee.....

It's 94° and the sun is headed for the horizon... aah, Fall.

October 4, 2007

Three Beautiful Things

Hat tip to the 3BT blog...

1) Having a pain-free morning. (They're rare.)
2) My husband telling me how much he loves his job.
3) A tech support call that actually solves the problem.

And my fourth beautiful thing today: I finally get to order my new web server (we'll be going the Linux route), along with a new computer cabinet for the other servers (which have to move) and a UPS to charge 'em all... yay for hardware!

It's a lovely 86° with rain in the forecast... fingers crossed!