Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thing #15-Online Games and Libraries

It has been fascinating for me to watch the growth of the relationship between online gaming and libraries. In my past life as a children's librarian we were always looking for the quick way to jump into new trends and somehow tie in reading. It is really interesting to see how different libraries are allowing their young adult patrons to go crazy in the online gaming world, providing access through the library as well as creating content for the library. Online gaming at the Library would definitely get those unusual non-users in to the building--or at least on the website.
After watching the video for Second Life, I didn't learn all that much about the libraries that are present. I have never even looked at Second Life, but I understand that making your avatar walk, run sit down, etc. is very difficult. So I would guess that the creator of the Second Life video attached to Thing 15 is really displaying his or her Second Life skills, with all the roller skating, flying,etc. I really don't see a worthwhile use of Second Life for libraries. I feel there are many other more valuable 2.0 features, such as Flickr and LibraryThing, that I would pursue first. We already have enough people using the library who are existing in a parallel universe--I don't really want to add even another universe!
I couldn't get Puzzle Pirates to work, so I decided to try Gaia Online, which was a website suggested by a blog comment on the Thing #15 blog entry on 23 Things. I really enjoyed playing the puzzle feature, and you could do it as a guest. Obviously I didn't create an account and then an avatar, etc. I was never into video games, and even though I play around with my stepsons occasionally I don't really enjoy any of the current state of the art stuff. Although, I would like to try the Wii, because I like the physical aspect. However, I can certainly see the appeal of online gaming, and my youngest stepson, 17, is into it heavily. Outside of programming to attract gamers to the Library, however, I'm somewhat skeptical of other library applications. It was fun, though!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thing #14-Library Thing

Finally--a thing I really loved working on! I truly enjoyed setting up my LT library, adding titles, and then adding the widget to my blog page that would display my book covers. I didn't take the time at this moment to do reviews or anything--perhaps I'll get back to that. I loved all the connecting features that automatically occurred, such as links to other personal reviews of books in my library. It was especially interesting to see that a certain non-fiction book I had just read and thoroughly enjoyed got some scathingly negative reviews--kind of surprised me! Most of the interactive features I found very simple to use, but I did have some difficulty adding favorite authors--the steps didn't seem very clear at first. Also, when looking at the other libraries that have LT accounts, it wasn't so simple to pull up their library book lists--the tab wasn't always available. Obviously, using the LT widget to display new book covers on a Library's blog or home page would be clever. If you were working with book clubs for your patrons I could see a value in that--providing important information about authors, availability etc. All in all, LT is a very fun tool.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thing #13-Online Productivity Tools

Talk about your lack of online productivity: I just spent the last 45 minutes posting an entry regarding Thing #13--and I was saving the entry on a regular basis, and when I went to preview--I lost everything. Arrrrrgggghhhhh!

I was writing about the fact that I feel that the term online productivity tool is an oxymoron, unless you are one of those individuals who is really tied into using the computer 24/7. I have been trying to add a countdown gadget to the blog and I just can't seem to get it to work, and it has not been a productive use of my time!

I chose to mock up a start page on iGoogle, probably because of its familiar look. I like the idea of a personalized start page--in fact, on my home computer I do use one, and I have added things like the local weather where all my close family members live, local news for me, etc. I won't make iGoogle my permanent start page here at work due to the fact that theoretically there is an in-house start page that everyone is supposed to default to. I probably won't change the one I have at home, either, as it is all set up.

I could see the value of a calendar at work, but since we already have difficulty with everyone trying to follow a paper desk schedule and keeping that current--I could see problems with an online version. There is a calendar function tied into our email program, and again everyone is supposed to keep it up to date so that meetings can be scheduled. It's that keeping it up to date part that is a little tricky for some people! I did like the idea of the Backpack concept--I especially like the demo of tracking the process of filling an open position. For specific projects it could be handy.

It was helpful to learn about the file converters--that could be useful here at the Library as we have many of our handouts in word documents, but we would like to attach them to email reference questions as pdf's. I'm going to try that feature out at the next opportunity. Things like the sticky notes or the list makers--again I only see the value if you are tied into your computer 24/7.

I did like some of the cute widgets/gadgets, and I am now going to try to add my Countdown timer. It should be in the right hand column. It's counting, but it's not counting correctly!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thing #12-I Reddit, but not sure I Digg it

Now that I have taken a look at these social media sites, I can say that this is where I separate out from the avid web users. I enjoy getting my media information the old-fashioned way, from newspapers, magazines, NPR and a few news service web sites that I visit. Obviously, if a person was totally web oriented, these tools could come in handy--but I definitely view them as leisure activities. Being informed as to current events is an important part of being a librarian, but as a professional I always felt that keeping yourself informed was something you did on your own time. At work I could see this being a real detractor--I could spend all day reading stories I found interesting. And once again, these sites have my favorite scenario (I'm being facetious here) of having no editor. However, on these sites it makes sense that no editor is involved as this is content that will pertain purely to your own personal interests, and you can somewhat set up parameters of what type of information you are interested in receiving.

Before doing the tours of the individual sites, I had never read a story/item from one of these sites--I had never even visited one. When doing the tours, I loved that on Newsvine the tour was brief, along with the statement, "You don't have time for a long tour!" Amen to that. Newsvine also had the best design style--very professional looking, with Digg coming in second for me. Of course, all the sites offered the option of your own personal information page--once again, the whole "look at me" syndrome that I don't enjoy about the Internet. I believe I'm turning into a curmudgeon--which I don't think is the effect Web 2.0 capabilities are supposed to have on me!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thing #11-Tagging and Delicious

As a former children's librarian, (something I know I keep harping on...yada, yada, yada,) I see real value in tagging. The arcane rules of library subject headings were always beyond me, a mere public service librarian--little did I know of the mysterious ways of the catalogers once I barely survived my Intro to Cataloging class in library school. In the BI classes that I held for 5th and 6th graders I can still remember the kids' disbelief when trying to explain subject headings and see also references. "You mean someone just decides what word to use and that's the only one used?!?!" Tagging allows individuals to place a more common, more understood term to describe something, as well as multiple terms, and I think that is pretty nifty. I do feel, however, that some professional oversight for official contents, ie.a library's online catalog, would be helpful if it didn't become too overwhelming. I know that part of 2.0 is to trust the user and that includes whatever tags they might like to add--but I think some official content needs to be known for being reliable, and I wouldn't want inaccurate tags misleading people on a library catalog. It's good that one of the tasks was to go back and add some tags to blog posts, as I missed some for my past postings.

I also liked the idea of Delicious as well (note I'm spelling without the periods--too much trouble!) Again, I see a recurring thread in what I personally find useful in the 2.0 tools--and anything that can be accessed and shared on the web appeals to me, as I often find myself using different computers at different locations when traveling, working different reference desks, etc. It was interesting to explore the Minn23 bookmarks on Delicious, and it was fun to search by tags. I chose to search the Web 2.0 tag, and looked at a bookmark for "Three Awesome Sites". One of the sites was called Buddy Stumbler , and it allowed one to put in some criteria for locating personal web pages of people who match the criteria so that one could then presumably get in touch with those individuals they chose to follow up on. There was a great quote on the site that said "I search, therefore IM". Pretty clever! I also looked at the San Mateo Public Library's bookmarks, to see if I could get a sense of what research enhancements Delicious may offer library patrons. I liked the New Books page--but it seems like unless all of your patrons are using Delicious they are more likely to look for these kinds of bookmarks on the Library's own web page. But perhaps that is my problem--I am still coming into this information the old-fashioned way, and all the Web 2.0ers go to Delicious to find out stuff! I did not create my own account on Delicious at this point in time, but I see the value.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thing #10: Wikis as collaboration tools

I really enjoyed watching the video--it helped to understand the process much better! It was interesting to look at the sample wikis--but I don't think the format is very attractive for most of them. I even went on the 23 Things on a Stick wiki and added a note about finding the video helpful. As I had mentioned in my previous post, I had been finding the wiki that my library uses for the policy and procedure manual somewhat difficult to use--but now that I get the concept slightly better I will give that wiki another try. I certainly do see the helpful uses of a wiki, and again just like the other collaboration tools you could work on the wiki anywhere. I also understand the concerns that educators have about Wikipedia as a resource--my biggest complaint is that everything often seems to be incomplete. Another issue for Wikipedia is the accuracy. I had a patron come in with a citation that she had located on Wikipedia regarding a theater opening in Duluth. Searching and finding the original actual newspaper article regarding the theater opening, I realized that not only was the quote used in the Wikipedia article incorrect, but the citation information had the wrong date and page number--but luckily the right newspaper at least! My patron was going to edit the entry on Wikipedia and correct the errors. So, I agree with educators about the quality of Wikipedia as a resource, but I do find it to be helpful as a starting point--especially for a topic I know nothing about or have even heard of before. However, obviously as librarians we know to look further for more accurate and authoritative resources on a topic. Again, now I think instead of using Google Docs for the policy and procedure manual revisions, I will use the wiki the Library has set up. Hopefully, I can convince everyone else on the committee to use it!

Thing # 9: Collaboration-Google Docs

Here I am, using Google Docs to create my blog entry for Thing #9. I really like this tool--it allows one to work on a variety of projects no matter what computer you may be using, and then you can transfer them to your own computer when needed. This is very useful at work, when one is on a reference desk and it is quiet. It also helpful when traveling and using a laptop. I am also on a work committee that will be revising the policy and procedure manual for a specific work process, and Google Docs may be helpful for sharing and editing the documents, as I think the wiki format is slightly more difficult to use. This is a fairly simple tool, and one that I think can be picked up rather quickly. Over all, a good to learn about!