Archive for the ‘libraries’ Category

Learning 2.0 – Library Genius 2.0 T-shirts!

August 9, 2007

Check out these Library Genius 2.0 T-shirts for the Allen County Public Library Learning 2.0 program, found on this post from the ACPL’s Innovation Through Technology Blog. Kay Gregg designed these shirts and all the icons associated with each Learning 2.0 course completed! They will be used to kick-off the ACPL Digital Collaborative’s Learning 2.0 presentation. Here is Kay modeling one of the new t-shirts:

Look at this post from ACPL’s IT blog on Library 2.0 Bling for a closeup of each icon. and here is a picture of the Learning Video 2.0 button.

For more information on the ACPL’s Learning 2.0, check out these posts from the ACPL Innovation Through Technology blog. And for what ACPL’s Digital Collaborative is creating for Learning 2.0, check out the ACPL DC Wiki’s21 Things“. Click on the links to see what each person has created. This wiki is a working wiki for the Digital Collaborative and is constantly being updated.

I want to be a Library Genius 2.0!

~Susan Mellott

The Library as Refuge – When There is Nowhere Else to Go

August 3, 2007

Found on this post from the Atlantic Free Press was a heartbreaking and thought-provoking article by Chip Ward, former Assistant Director for the Salt Lake City Public Library System. And if you want read all of it (which I highly recommend), please go to the Atlantic Free Press post where the full article can be found. Here are also a couple of posts that point to this article that have more thoughts on the matter. This one from Library Journal and this one from the Puget News.

Excerpts from “What They Didn’t Teach Us in Library School – The Public Library as an Asylum for the Homeless” by Chip Ward.

“Ophelia sits by the fireplace and mumbles softly, smiling and gesturing at no one in particular. She gazes out the large window through the two pairs of glasses she wears, one windshield-sized pair over a smaller set perched precariously on her small nose. Perhaps four lenses help her see the invisible other she is addressing. When her “nobody there” conversation disturbs the reader seated beside her, Ophelia turns, chuckles at the woman’s discomfort, and explains, “Don’t mind me, I’m dead. It’s okay. I’ve been dead for some time now.” She pauses, then adds reassuringly, “It’s not so bad. You get used to it.” Not at all reassured, the woman gathers her belongings and moves quickly away. Ophelia shrugs. Verbal communication is tricky. She prefers telepathy, but that’s hard to do since the rest of us, she informs me, “don’t know the rules.” “

“Ophelia is not so far off after all — in a sense she is dead and has been for some time. Hers is a kind of social death from shunning. She is neglected, avoided, ignored, denied, overlooked, feared, detested, pitied, and dismissed. She exists alone in a kind of social purgatory. She waits in the library, day after day, gazing at us through multiple lenses and mumbling to her invisible friends. She does not expect to be rescued or redeemed. She is, as she says, “used to it.”

She is our shame. What do you think about a culture that abandons suffering people and expects them to fend for themselves on the street, then criminalizes them for expressing the symptoms of illnesses they cannot control? We pay lip service to this tragedy — then look away fast. As a library administrator, I hear the public express annoyance more often than not: “What are they doing in here?” “Can’t you control them?” Annoyance is the cousin of arrogance, not shame.

We will let Ophelia and the others stay with us and we will be firm but kind. We will wait for America to wake up and deal with its Ophelias directly, deliberately, and compassionately. In the meantime, our patrons will continue to complain about her and the others who seek shelter with us. Yes, we know, we say to them; we hear you loud and clear. Be patient, please, we are doing the best we can. Are you? “

Chip Ward recently retired as the assistant director of the Salt Lake City Public Library System to devote more time to political activism and writing. He has led several successful campaigns to make polluters accountable and to stop nuclear utilities from turning the Great Basin Desert into a radioactive sacrifice zone. His books, Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West and Hope’s Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the American Land, encourage others to embrace their roles as citizens and to act now to restore a democratic culture to America.

Library 2.0 – ACPL’s New Books Wall Mashup and More!

July 31, 2007

Sunrise Alley by Catherine Asaro Just for fun, I created an old-fashioned card catalog card for the book I had downloaded from baen.com/library using John Blyberg’s card catalog generator. You have to enter the data by hand (I copied it from Amazon.com) but it makes a really fun graphic. With some programming, you can make a mashup that uses this. A mashup is a website or application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience.

Sean Robinson (my husband and head of IT Technology at the ACPL) created this book wall called Books we added to the catalog yesterday combining the new material checked in each day at the ACPL (Allen County Public Library) with data from Amazon. It shows pictures of the actual book covers for each book and if you click on a book cover, it will show you an old-fashioned card catalog for that book and information on it from Amazon (if the book is brand new, it doesn’t necessarily have review info yet).

Then you can click on “Look this up in our catalog” to see the ACPL card catalog information on that book like how many copies there are and if they are available and where they are located and do all sorts of neat things like add it to your list or put it on hold. You can also find more books by that author, more books with those topics or browse nearby call numbers (books that would be on the library shelf with this book).

Go check it out and play around with it. It is a great example of how you can combine Web 2.0 tools to create something new and exciting and useful.

For this and more innovative ways the Allen County Public Library uses Web 2.0, visit their Library 2.0 site: ACPLib2.0. ACPL Rules!

~Susan Mellott

Library 2.0 – World Public Library and Baen – free ebooks

July 31, 2007

Per the World Public Library website: “July 4th to August 4th Download Your Selections From 500,000+ eBooks for Free.”

According to their site: “Hosted in World Public Library’s multi-terabyte server network is the world’s largest digital archive of PDF ebooks and edocuments. Our collection hosts more than 500,000+ PDF ebooks and edocuments. As a member you will have complete access to the entire collection. Our collection is constantly growing and our projection is to reach 600,000 by fall of 2008”

Here is a link to their Facts, Questions and Answers page. According to their price sheet, it is $8.95 per year to become a member, or $2/year per FTE institutional rate (for public librarie, priced per number of cardholders – which could possibly be adjusted).

I downloaded the Northwind Trilogy by David Drake and Bedlam Boyz by Ellen Guon to check it out. It downloaded quickly and I was able to save it to my hard-drive to read. I did go to the public access page to do a search and got an error message, but I could browse collections and download from home page without any problems. And I just did a search using the member search on the home page and it worked for me (but I couldn’t download), although I couldn’t really find anything I was looking for .

Another thing of note is that on the Baen Books site, they have a free library also of a selection of their books you can download in several different formats for free. Both Ellen Guon and David Drake have free downloads of several of their books as well as many other authors. I downloaded Sunrise Alley by Catherine Asaro in a very nice html format.

And of course, a search for free ebooks through Google turns up several more sites that I didn’t check out. You can though!

So go “check it out”!

~Susan Mellott

Web 2.0 – What does an Organization Really Need to Get There?

July 28, 2007

This was originally written to update my “About Me” page. But it turned into this. These are the posts that prompted this post – MLS and Library Technology, a post on Why require an MLS for library technologist about a post on code4lib regarding an MLS degree for library technology postings (which unfortunately is currently unavailable since all code4lib.org sites are down). And here is an interesting post about an opposite perspective called I Didn’t Get an MLS to do That and another about the MLS degree in general called The Embattled MLS in the Library Journal. Which begs another question about whether or not an IT degree should be a requirement for librarians. But that is a post for another day. Anyway…

I said I am a coder. But it is better to say I was a coder. I did love to code. But honestly, I’ve gotten less interested in it since I’ve retired. What I really love to do is to listen to what people want to do and then translate that into something that solves their problem and/or enhances their technology environment.

For as long as I worked, I was what was known as a Programmer/Analyst. That means that the majority of my time was spent conducting client interviews, learning the ir processes, creating client/IT teams to discuss what the goal is and then doing a lot of analysis and design to get to where they want to go. The coding, although fun, is the easy part.

I had to take a concept that someone had and translate it into something functional that transcends their original thought and turns it into a working, creative, useful application. You might not realize what this involves. Most of the time, people don’t know exactly what they want, they just know they want it. This is actually the best scenario. It is really harder when people think they know how to design what they want. There is a reason why there are special IT analysts/architects. We spent a lot of time and have a lot of experience designing technology solutions.

Just as people are experts in their own field such as financial organizations or non-profits or libraries, so are IT analysts experts at translating what someone else does into a technology based solution. And just as I could not tell you the formulas for calculating statistical risks for life insurance, neither would a risk assessor know how to take what they do and make it user-friendly and technologically innovative.

I think one of the problems organizations are having with going Web 2.0, is that they don’t recognize that they need a person who can look at their processes and design a Web 2.0 solution. I’ve done that for many, many years and I really find it surprising that other organizations (such as libraries) that say they are wanting to have an online presence and to go Web 2.0, don’t even seem to realize the need for someone with those skills.

I worked with various functions in life insurance most of my IT life. And I have little to no background in life insurance. It is not my field. But it never needed to be, nor should it have been. There were ample experts in all facets of life insurance that could determine the formulas needed and the results expected, and could take me through the processes. My expertise was knowing how to listen to what people want, to learn how they currently do it and to design a technologically progressive solution that goes beyond what they envisioned and yet still satisfies everyone and is not intimidating. It’s really a very complex job.

I have to confess, I find it funny (sad) that the IT positions for libraries all seem to require an MLS (master of library science) degree. That makes no sense to me. There are plenty of people with library skills and knowledge already in a library. What is lacking is anyone who is able to look at the processes from an IT design perspective and to pull all the areas and processes together into one, creative, innovative and functional design.

I also hear the arguments that you can’t talk to a librarian or understand a librarian unless you have an MLS. How can that make sense? I’ve talked to actuaries and lawyers and accountants and life risk assessors and all sorts of people with their own expertise and language and ways of thinking. Why would a librarian or academic or anyone else be any different? I’m not stupid. I think I can grasp how most jobs and functions work and I think I can talk to most kinds of people and be understood and understand them. And I know how to create a team that includes expertise from all areas so that everyone contributes in ways only they, with their knowledge, can.

Next time your or your organization are thinking about hiring an IT person, think about what you are trying to accomplish and what needs you have that you don’t have internally already. Then look for someone who can determine where you are, where you are going and how to get there in a way that includes everyone and appreciates their expertise while contributing their own expertise. Be understanding of each other and teach each other. Then sit back, let go of the reins and see how far you can go.

~Susan Mellott

Politics 2.0 and the Digital Divide

July 24, 2007

So politics and the presidential campaign is going 2.0. While I am certainly a strong proponent of this, it does raise the question that this is slanted towards the technologically advanced and/or those who have the means and knowledge to use the Web 2.0 technology. This potentially excludes large segments of the population. Many people who were not raised in the era of computers and PCs do not understand even what is available, much yet how to use it. This would seem to greatly lean towards and garner a younger audience then. And those who are older who do know the technology are probably those who work in technology and/or have had access to and knowledge of all the new Web 2.0 technology. Therefore, this would encompass a primarily white-collar, upper-class population and exclude those who have not had the means or did not work with technology.

I think this is one area where our school system and our libraries play a huge role. Our schools need to provide training and funding for every student to learn and be able to apply technology. And our libraries especially, can educate and enable everyone, regardless of age, ability or economic status. I think this is a direction that libraries need to go and I think they need to get the funding to do it. I don’t know that I think the libraries are where the sole responsibility for this lies, nor do I even know if they are necessarily the places that should take this responsibility ultimately. But I do know that if the Public Libraries don’t do it, there will be a large portion of the population that will be left behind.

I cannot think of a public organization / facility that could come anywhere near the ability that libraries have to reach and educate the public and to provide access for all people. I know what a difference it has made to have public computers in the libraries and when I see someone who probably isn’t sure where they will be sleeping that night, come in and sit down at a computer and and be the equal of anyone else, I am proud of what our libraries can give and this is something that I think we all need to encourage and promote and consider when funding is needed for our public libraries.

I find it interesting that of any or all of the public institutions that we have created, I can really only think of libraries as one that has the capacity to serve the entire public in so very many ways, regardless of age, means, ability or any differentiating quality.

And the only problem that someone might run into with using a library is that they have difficulty getting to the nearest branch. So I think it is very important for libraries to keep their small neighborhood branches, including (especially) those in poorer areas since they can serve a population that perhaps can’t easily get farther than they can walk. I do worry that the tendency may be to improve the branches in the richer areas and neglect the ones in the poorer areas, especially since the richer branches may be more used. But the poorer ones may be more valuable. Actually, I remember when the bookmobile used to come down our street. They are no longer running and I think that is a mistake. But this is fuel for another post 🙂

Anyway, along the digital divide lines, here is a post from the PBS.org teachers blog where after a June debate, the political candidates were asked about this. Here is a quote from that post “After the event, I had a chance to speak with four of the candidates about their perceptions about the digital divide and the role schools might play in bridging it. The lesson learned: it’s hard to get more than a sound bite when the candidates are in spin mode.” And here is a link to this very interesting post.

~Susie

Diagon Alley comes to life!

July 21, 2007

Last night, the Fort Wayne Allen County Public Library held probably the most outstanding event that I remember at the Library. They recreated Diagon Alley and had so many great things to do and see and have. There was a free wand shop, free candy, tattoos, harry potter glasses and more. You could make and adopt an owl, make a clock, make a card and mail it with a special Harry Potter postmark. There was a costume show and Potions class and a magical astronomy show. You could have your picture taken with Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore at the headmaster’s table and in the Flying Car. There was a magic show, games, fortunetellers, and so much, much more.

I videotaped the crowd when the doors opened at 9pm and I must have taped a steady stream of people going into the library for probably 10 minutes. I hope to have some YouTube videos up soon. I don’t know how many people were there, but I know there were thousands. There will probably be an official estimate soon.

Library staff (including several senior managers) became Harry Potter, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape, Mad Eye Moody, Hagrid, and Moaning Mary. They mingled and interacted with the crowd and signed autographs, posed for pictures and stayed in character beautifully.

Then at midnight, checkout opened and the lucky lottery winners checked out the final Harry Potter book. The smiles on the faces of kids and their parents and everyone who came down was priceless.

It was a wonderful, magical night. Here are my flickr pictures of the event. I hope to have some YouTube videos coming soon.

UPDATE – NEW! Here are flickr pictures of the party from the ACPL.

UPDATE – NEW! Here is a blog entry from blyberg.net about the Darien Public Library Party for the new Harry Potter release.

I hope Fort Wayne appreciates the wonderful asset the city has in the library and how much it does for the community. Go check out the ACPL web site to see some of the activities they offer. Or better yet, visit your local branch and see what is going on. You might be very surprised.

~Susie

Allen County Public Library Harry Potter Release Party!

July 20, 2007

Check out what the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne Indiana is doing this evening for the release of the final Harry Potter book! There will be festivities from 9pm until midnight, at which time the new release can be checked out since it is officially released on 7/20. It is going to be amazing, and I plan to take pictures and hopefully some videos and I will be posting them here.

This is taken from the 7/16 article by the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel and the full article can be found here.

Downtown library
Potter party central this Friday will be at the new downtown library, 900 Library Plaza. They are gearing up for a gathering of 5,000 fans, many of whom will be dressed as characters in the books.

The fun begins with a pre-event concert and activities outside on the Library Plaza. Family-friendly music will be provided by the Kid Kazooey and the Ballroom Roustabouts.

“We wanted something silly and strange and weird, and I think he fits the bill,” said Deb Noggle, children’s librarian at the Tecumseh branch and lead organizer of the night’s events.

Other activities at the pre-party include quaffle-throwing practice (a ball thrown through a hoop to score a goal in wizarding’s game of Quidditch), crawling through a giant spider web, and trading new or shiny objects with gypsies.

At 9 p.m., the main library – which will close for regular business at 6 p.m. Friday – will reopen. Partygoers stepping through the doors will find themselves in the Harry Potter books’ Diagon Alley, the wizard shopping district in London.

There, visitors can try 18 activities, including:

♦Making a Weasley family clock.

♦Visiting Ollivander’s wand shop.

♦Stocking up at Honeyduke’s Sweet Shoppe.

♦Learning the future at Trelawney’s Divinations and Fortune Telling.

♦Watching magician Jared Mason’s magic show.

♦Daring to go through the Restricted (Book) Section maze.

♦Getting a lightning bolt tattoo.

♦Having the U.S. Postal Service stamp an owl card with a special “Harry Potter” mail cancellation.

Noggle said the 18 stations will be three times the number of activities offered at the library’s last big Potter Party, which was held at the Georgetown branch for the 2005 release of Book 6, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

People also can enter a lottery to be among the lucky fans to check out one of the Allen County Public Library’s approximately 250 copies of the new Harry Potter book, Noggle said. The Bookmark bookstore also will be there selling the book at midnight.

Noggle said fans can get a jump on deciding what activities they want to try Friday night by donating an article of clothing to S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare) barrels set out now through Friday at library branch locations. In the books, Harry’s friend and classmate Hermione Granger started S.P.E.W. to get better treatment and freedom for house elves.

Donated clothing will be given to local organizations that provide free clothing to needy people in Fort Wayne, Noggle said.

Each person who donates an item of clothing will receive an S.P.E.W. button and a library version of The Daily Prophet, the wizard newspaper, Noggle said. The newspaper will provide information about the 18 activities at Friday’ night’s party and where each activity will take place in the main library.

About 100 library staffers will be on hand to help everything go smoothly, Noggle said. Book characters, such as Professor Minerva McGonagall, Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, Rubeus Hagrid and Professor Severus Snape, also will wander the building to mingle with fans.

The event is paid for by donations from the Friends of the Library organization and the Allen County Public Library Foundation, Noggle said.

Library x.0 or Who will Preserve the Data?

July 19, 2007

A long, long, time ago, when Compuserve was one of the major players in internet connectivity like AOL (it dominated the field in the 1980’s), back before it had a GUI interface and was still all line-based, I belonged to a group called Church of the Bunny. This was in the early ’80’s and it was definitely bleeding edge for the times. I remember 300 baud modems that you put the handset of the phone into to use. I was lucky enough to be working with PCs so I had access to some things that were somewhat unaffordable or inaccessible to a lot of people outside the ‘geek’ fringe.

Anyway, Church of the Bunny was a community and we talked and laughed and had our inside jokes and it was an important part of my life for several years. We used files to store and pass around our Church of the Bunny manifestos and credos and whatnots and we had a newsletter that was was published and mailed to the members. We would meet up when we got out each other’s way. I still have the old newsletters and thank goodness because they are some of the only existing pieces of the Church of the Bunny I can find. Since this originally started pre-web and on Compuserve, the files pretty much went away and the few websites that were created are no longer in existence and it is all gone. In my searches I found this little blurb about The Holy War between the Church of the Gerbil and the Church of the Bunny. That’s about it. There are still several references but all the links are broken or changed.

We had a community built up and a whole “world” so to speak with a very detailed society and many, many writings and files and correspondence and articles and it is all gone. Vanished into thin air. People left Compuserve so all that archival information was gone and people created web sites on various servers and hosts that folded, or moved or just disappeared. And that was a minuscule portion of what has been lost that was on Compuserve. And there were many other hosts that folded or people moved away from, like Tripod or Geocities or any number of others.

So here’s a thought to ponder as we move into Web 2.0 and the online collaboration and social networking tools. How can we preserve all the collaboration and information and social networks as the various platforms evolve and change and come and go? I am sure we can all think of a tool we have used on-line that has been replaced by something newer and more popular. How can a migration of data be accomplished or at least, who is able to catalog and store this data?

If Web 2.0 is a new way of writing and spreading information, what role does Library 2.0 play in keeping that data intact and able to be accessed by other people? Just like libraries are the archives for books and have played a major part throughout history in preserving mankind’s writing and knowledge, what is the equivalent in the 2.0 world?

And what risk do we incur by going electronic and putting information on an electronic medium without a methodology in place to catalog and store it?

Just some thoughts on a rainy day.

~Susie

A great online store for reading related items!

July 18, 2007

As you know, I am playing with my 2 blogs and trying widgets and code and whatnot. So I was playing around with the various page elements on my Google Blogger blog and found one called Newsreel that let me search for certain keywords in the news and display news about them.

I put in Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and Learning 2.0. Then I went to my page to see what it looked like. It is really cool! There were all sorts of interesting news bits. So I clicked on one that sounded interesting and lo and behold, it was a link to a site I’ve been reading lately – ilovelibraries.org. And it was talking about all the neat things they have in their store, like posters (nice one of Orlando Bloom 🙂 and bumper stickers and all sorts of paraphenalia that anyone who loves shopping and reading (and helping libraries) would love.

Bumper sticker for sale This was a bumper sticker you could buy. I love it! You can buy it here. And here is a link to their store. They have posters and umbrellas and mugs and clothing and lots of things, all with a really neat reading theme.

And revenue from products in the ALA Store provides direct support to the programs and initiatives of the American Library Association.

So go check it out! And look around the site too, it is very interesting and well worth a visit.

~Susie