Thursday, August 2, 2007

Final thoughts

Well, here it is the end of the project. Early on, I got overwhelmed with some of the technological details- it was a day in which the display on my Eudora email was messed up and it really frustrated me. I just wanted to throw up my hands!

But now, I feel a little proud and a bit more knowledgeable about the technologies presented. I think the point was to become exposed to the concepts- I'm certainly not adept at any of the new ones, except maybe Library Thing, which I plan to continue to use. Maybe I'll go back and explore some of the technologies again.

Also, in the future, if we can't help a customer find some information, we should ask another librarian either at our own facility or at another library. We should continue to consult one another and not conclude that we can't answer the question or satisfy the customer. Of course, we'll need to judge how serious is the customer's need. Sometimes, customers are very happy with the level of information that we have found and sometimes, they want to pursue it further. When they do want to go the extra mile- we should not give up until we have tried some of these new resources and tools. There is so much available to all of us!

I also think its important to remember that these are tools to help and not become too enamored of a technology for its own sake. We need to serve people in an understanding and respectful way. If technology helps, fine. If not, don't force it.

Perhaps, there can be another 23 things another time. Or maybe there can be some other workshops online or in person that can build on this effort.

Electronic books

We have had both Net Library and Overdrive electronic books in our catalog for some time, so I am familiar with the concept. We have instruction sheets prepared to give to customers so that we can help them get started. I logged in and created accounts for these services, however, I would not be actually downloading them. I would not like to have to read a book on a computer. However, I could imagine doing it once upon a time, if my kids needed a reference tool and it was late at night and the paper was due tomorrow!!

I explored WorldEbooks- which said it was connected with Project Gutenberg. There are an incredible number of materials there- in all sorts of languages and categories! There is even a collection of early sheet music! I can see if you are a serious researcher on a topic, you might find much of value here. But I certainly would not replace my regular reading with a regular book with an electronic format.
It was good to be exposed to this and keep in the back of our minds for the time when a customer may need it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Podcasts

Well, I explored a few of the sites and listened to a podcast on NPR about a book that I had recently read. I did enoy hearing the author speak about issues in the book. I also published the first review of that podcast in NPR's Driveway Moments.
One additional task was to link a podcast to our bloglines account. Well, I never set up a Bloglines account- I had set my RSS feed to my new "My Yahoo" account. So I tried to send the podcast there also. However, it didn't work. Apparently you have to download some additional software or a plugin- or something to the computer to get it to work. Well, I wasn't comfortable doing that on my work computer and Chris is off this week, so we're just going to let that go.

I also don't own a personal Ipod or Mp3 player or equivalent device, so I don't think that I would generally ever listen to many podcasts on my own time.

In conection with this Thing, I did click into Merlin for the first time and I saw that some libraries are putting storytimes and booktalks into podcasts. So I think that I've had sufficient exposure to the concept of podcast to complete this exercise.

You Tube

I briefly explored You Tube yesterday. I tried looking for videos about two areas that I'm involved with- both of which would definitely appeal to small numbers of people. I looked for videos of contra dancing and found 7! I watched a couple- it appeared to me that the speed of the video was faster than real life. I do contra dancing and it's generally a bit slower than it appears.

Then I looked for videos related to Unitarian Universalism - my chosen faith. Again, I found some! I listened to someone playing a favorite hymn on the piano, but there was also some more substantive videos that I may view in the future.

The links associated with the videos- such as a link to all the videos produced by a given person or the link to similarly tagged videos would be helpful to finding more materials.

Again with this tool, you could eat up gobs of time!! One link leads to another! I think we all need to be careful of getting so caught up in virtual mediums that we neglect real people and real experiences and exercise in our daily lives.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Web Award Pages

The topic area that I examined was City Guides and reviews. The first site I looked at- Judy's Book- the second place winner- was all about shopping. Her page shows bargains in a specific geographic area. This is not a big interest of mine, but I decided to just try it. When I inserted Denton's zipcode- big surprise- nothing! I then tried Easton's zipcode and go a little- mostly at Boater's World. So this site is not helpful for us here on the rural Eastern Shore.

Next I explored the first place winner- Yelp! Again, it focuses on big cities. Somehow, it seemed to know that Baltimore might be near to me, because if offered Baltimore near the Search Box, but Baltimore was not on the list of cities that you could click on. The site offered categories such as restaurants, shopping, arts, etc. A nice feature was a sidebar with a map pointing out the various places listed in the middle- it was easy to keep oriented to where the establishment was. It also offered reviews from the public. I also explored the City of Phoenix, Arizona, since I have relatives there and visit at least annually. I clicked on a link for "Local Flavor" and learned about a Japanese Park that I was not aware of, but I may visit on my next trip. I would recommend this site for people who plan on visiting an American City.

This exercise could really eat time- you could keep on surfing and surfing and surfing!!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Zoho writer

I tried this web-application to send a simple email to my daughter. I discovered one useful feature- under one of the toolbars, there are special characters. For example, they have the symbol for the English pound. Since my daughter is living in England, that symbol could come in handy from time to time. I could see that for others, they might gain access to symbols that are not on the particular keyboard on which they were typing.

However, a couple of things didn't work as expected. I saw them only because I also sent the email to myself. I thought that I had filled in a different subject line, but the email came in "untitled". Also I had tried to Bold the English pound character. It appeared Bold in Zoho, but it came across to me with a funny mark in front of the symbol instead. So if I really wanted to use this application, I'd have to learn about it a bit better. And I still am supposed to be working on a Word tutorial as part of my performance goals for the quarter! I don't know all the capabilities of that software and I've been using that for years! (I also had resisted that- I was a fan of Word Perfect, but was forced to give it up!)

So I'm glad to know about Zoho- but hopefully I won't have to learn it in detail.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Web 2.0

I found these thoughts about the future of libraries very exciting as well as scary. Will I be able to keep up with all these changes? I think back to when I did my master's degree (alas, not the "right" one for libraries). I was so astounded by the print indexes and how one thing led to so many other things. I remember literally drudging all around Baltimore, DC and College Park, checking out references for my thesis. How diffferent it would be now! So much searching would be done digitally.
I had the problem then- a difficulty in knowing when to stop the search and, instead, compile what I knew, think about it, and come up with my own idea. I think it might be even harder now!!!

I am still the Reluctant Techie, but gradually, I have come to know and like some online tools and, I guess that I will continue to do it. I'll try to be a Lifelong Learner and not retire early because of overwhelming technology. I can still be helpful to many customers, especially 55+ customers.

I think we have to try to balance digital services, with real, services. We should have book discussions and storytimes along with online book clubs and LibraryThing and TumbleBunnies.

Exciting, challenging times ahead!