Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The 2007 New York Comicconmade the 2006 look like an idiot; well, it sort of was in certain ways. This year, the planners anticipated tens of thousands of registrants and actually set a cut-off number at 40,000. As unlikely as it seems that kind of attendence could be reached, the Saturday tickets were sold out well before the actual date. The planners also put Artist Alley in a whole other part of the convention center and enlarged the walkways about three feet to help traffic. Considering the fact I felt like I was on a subway during rush hour last year, I never felt crowded this time… and mind you, that was with 40,000 other people in the same place!
Sellers, artists, and distributors took the convention much more seriously this year. The gaming industry game out in huge numbers. The front portion of the display hall was packed with various consoles and games, there was even a gaming hall in the downstairs room.
While looking through all the gaming booths, I came across a company that caught my eye, Flying Lab Software. They were promoting a new MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online Game) called Pirates of the Burning Sea. Personally, I am not a huge fan of MMOs, but I was pretty hooked after they encouraged me to sit down and play for a few minutes. In fact, I was so impressed that I asked if I could hold a podcast interview with one of the staff members to help promote the game.

A total bonus for just trying the game at the Comiccon was a free t-shirt. It was a tough choice; I passed on the “Support Piracy” shirt in favor of “Getting Booty Since 1720."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Should Accessing Open Wi-Fi Spots be Illegal?

In Palmer, Alaska, Brian Tanner was arrested for using the public library's wi-fi in their parking when the library was closed. Local police had tired of chasing Tanner from various locations where he was accessing open ended wi-fi and arrested him. They confiscated his laptop to see what files Tanner had downloaded as well.

Is this really a legal issue or the responsibility of the people who hold the access points? All wi-fi hardware/software allow their owners to create password protected access so that only selected users may take advantage of it. If an owner fails to opt for this protection, does it mean they can still say "no, you can't use it" and be legally binding?

We really haven't set up ethical rules for the digital age yet. We still argue over ideas like privacy for users in public settings, rights applied to digital information, what can/cannot be written over emails and whether we should have some sort of program in place to restrict content to certain users on public computers.

Our computers are designed to find hotspots now and even default to open wi-fi networks when available. My Nintendo Wii has actually picked up two other open networks near my house along with my own wireless system. If an upgrade was placed into the program to access the fastest network or default to another open network when my wireless went down, would it make me criminally liable?

It seems this is more of an ethical question over a legal one. I certainly wouldn't argue that Tanner seems to have a lack in ethics and common sense but it also seems that there were protective measures the library could take to prevent his access as well.

In the physical world we have many different legal words for the various types of theft as it is not simply a black and white issue. Are we going to find ourselves at a point where we need to do the same for the digital world as well?

On a semi-tangent; is his being chased from point to point really enough evidence to confiscate the laptop?

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Not Enough Friends? Buy Some!

Not feeling "popular enough" on your MySpace page? Afraid that others have way more friends!? Scared the friends you do have aren't good looking enough!? Concerned prospective employers and/or mates will search for you online and find you just don't cut it!?

Don't worry - now you can buy some VIRTUAL friends!!!

The New York Times today reports, Fake Your Space is a "business founded by Brant Walker, which offered users of and similar sites a way to enhance their page with photographs and comments from hired “friends” — mainly attractive models — for 99 cents a month each."


I've felt like a loser in real life, but not on the Internet. Yet. Maybe I should!?

On the other hand, if you have too many friends, or unwanted friends (!?), Mr. Walker also provides a service called to get rid of unwanted friends!

According to the article, all of this is perfectly legal. MySpace and Facebook have had no comment.

Is this unethical? Immoral? Is it any different from pre-arranging a cell-phone-call-bail-out when you are going on a blind date or other potentially bad social engagement? Is it any different from a totally "fake" online self? Is this "stealth technology"?

I wouldn't worry about it too much, and anyway, if you use this service you'll be so popular you won't have TIME to think about issues like these!

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

User 2.0: Innovative Library Sites (Part 2 - Public Libraries)

As promised in my post on February 20th User 2.0 Innovative Library Sites (Part 1- Academic Libraries) here is Part 2 of the preliminary list of Innovative Library Sites – this time for public libraries. Thanks again to David M. Drados, PhD student at Rutgers University, SCILS, and Lynn Silipigni Connaway of OCLC. This list was compiled from suggestions of librarians from the dig_ref listserv, from journal articles, and librarian colleagues.

Again, this list is not meant to be definitive, is a work in progress designed to start a discussion. Your comments and suggestions are welcomed!

  • Ann Arbor District Library (MI) Uses the open source Drupal content management system with incorporates blogging, tagging, user comments, and RSS feeds. Its location page is tied into Google Maps.

  • Arlington Heights Memorial Library (IL)
    Features “Vlogs” – Video casts.

  • Atlantic City Public Library (NJ)
    Site features podcasts as well as RSS feeds.

  • Denver Public Library (CO)
    Has RSS feeds for library news and local events, podcasts, teen MySpace Account.

  • Goshen Public Library & Historical Society (NY)
    Maintains several blogs on various topics—book reviews, computers, library news, and also has a MySpace page.

  • Hennepin County Library (MN)
    Has blogs for library news and teens, RSS feeds built into the catalog along with user reviews/comments, a MySpace account and, podcasts.

  • Memorial Hall Library (MA)
    Library director maintains a Blog and site has a wiki with an accumulated collection of reference question called "Andover Answers," teen podcasts, and a MySpace page and an online community calendars.

  • Mesa County Public Library District (CO)
    Has a library director blog, a staff "librarian's love" blog, and links to online book clubs.

  • Salida Regional Library (CO)
    Links to Library Elf which allows users to track due dates on checked out items; local digital archive link, downloadable audio books, director (weekly) newspaper articles, and staff recommendations.

  • Stevens County Rural Library District (WA)
    Maintains a library news blog and a public wiki project designed to create a guide to Stevens County, including local history.

  • Westerville Public Library (OH)
    Features director, teen and adult services blogs, library Flickr and MySpace presence, RSS feeds, podcasts and videocasts, user rating of catalog items with links to Amazon, B&N, Novelist and Syndetics for reviews.

  • Worthington Libraries (OH)
    Has a teen blog along with an associated MySpace site.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cyberbullying and Libraries

There is often a really fine line between what is funny, what is offensive and to what degree someone is offended.

Make no mistake, there is some joy to be had in bullying. It is about empowerment, positioning, status, hierarchy and the pleasure is the solidification of one's place through the bullying act. In other words, it is largely about attention and acceptance.

And if someone is looking for attention, then the Internet is a heaven for their needs.

As much as I am a fan for social networks and social technologies I can understand peoples' concern about its bullying potential. Text messages, Instant messages, photoshops, podcasts and blogs (forgive me if I left a few tactics out) don't just make a myriad of methods to bully with, but also encourage the creativity of the bully... and the reward is the hundreds to thousands of hits their post may receive.

Example? Check out Ghyslain Raza, better known as the Star Wars Kid. He filmed a solo light saber sequence as part of a school project but when some of his classmates got a hold of the film, Ghyslain became an overnight cyber-celebrity. When the Canadian news source, National Post, asked him how he felt about all the 'attention,' he responsed "I want my life back."

A hell for Gyshlain but incredible empowerment for the kids who posted it!

Rather than make this post solely about cyberbullying, lets think about what it could mean for libraries. Certain states have made blanket anti-bullying policies that go as strict as zero-tolerance. As sites like Myspace gain notoriety more for their negative aspects, and stories about unfortunate cyberbullying and suicide become more popularized, there is a possibility that state and federal legislature may push through DOPA-esque policies.

But before we go down that slippery slope, I'd like to ask some more some questions for us to think about:

-If we market our library as a "Safe Zone," how safe are our teens within the library's cyber-walls? Do we, or should we, take this into account of a Safe Zone policy?

-What will happen when someone can confirm the cyberbullying took place inside of the library?

-What, if any, measures should libraries take in order to prevent cyberbullying?

-What proactive steps can we take against cyberbullying right now?

-If we consider ourselves as a cultural center, does that mean that we consider excessive bullying as part of our culture? This one if for the Sociologists out there!

As much as I am an advocate for Freedom of Information and Freedom of Speech, I also spent many years working with teens who have been greatly affected by bullying, physically and mentally. And because I have worked with teens in a counseling setting before I became a librarian, I greatly struggle with where the line is drawn in a library.

To an extent, being bullied is a part of growing up. For some, they grow up and walk away unscathed; for others, they live an entire life around it's effects. So where do we, as libraries, take our stand in the issue?

Sad to say... this is what I think about at 2a.m. when I can't sleep.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A tempest has been brewing... AKA, yet even more on the scrotum story

One Troublesome Word , Article, Editorial

"A tempest has been brewing over a children's book..." begins today's New York Times editorial. Ahhhh, the passive voice... last refuge of scoundrels.

Perhaps it is too much to expect the Old Gray Lady to acknowledge that, prior to it's own troublesome reporting, there was nothing brewing but a fairly respectful professional discussion on librarians' discussion lists (or as the Lady quaintly refers to them, "message boards".)

Perhaps it is too much to ask that, having started this hooha (if that's the right word--gulp), the Lady restrain from invoking comparison's with Marian the librarian. Surely this is writing at it's absolute laziest! Hey Lady, while you were at it, couldn't you have thrown in a comment or two mentioning that librarians' commitment to intellectual freedom is generally, oh I don't know, as tall as an oak? As deep as the sea?

(Note to the NY Times editorial board: The next time you want to disabuse your readership of the "Marian the Librarian" stereotype, it might be more effective to point out that REAL librarians don't fit the stereotype, rather than pointing out that Marian herself was actually quite a bawdy gal, judging from her reading habits.

Check this out: It wouldn't be fair to characterize Arthur Sulzberger's comment that "I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don't care either" by saying that he's kind of like Nero, fiddling while the MSM burns. You know why? Because Nero really played the LYRE. See how that works?)

But I get it, Lady. mentioning Marian, was really just an easy transition to mentioning her love of Balzac, which sounds kind of like "ball sack" which is another way of saying scrotum (giggle, snigger), so we can all see how wonderfully witty, cultured, well-read, AND terribly bawdy the Times editorial board is. Look out Dorothy Parker, you've got competition! Oh wait, you've been dead for 40 years. My bad.

Well anyway Lady, thanks for throwing in that last bit about helping children on their journey from ignorance to knowledge, blahdiddy, blah, blah, and for not using the word "shhhh" anywhere in the (final draft) of the editorial.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

User 2.0: Innovative Library Sites (Part 1 - Academic Libraries)

You may recognize this illustration from the work published in Diffusion of Innovations (1995) by the late Everett Rogers. A few weeks ago I posted a query on the dig_ref listserv asking this savvy group of librarians interested in virtual reference services to nominate the library sites that are the most "innovative" in terms of integrating Web 2.0 / social software applications. I have also incorporated sites discussed in programs I attended at ALA Mid-Winter in Seattle (January 2007), suggested by colleagues, or noted in listservs or journal articles.

Today I am posting the preliminary list of Innovative Academic Libraries from these sources. Eash listing also has a very brief note about social software applications featured by the library's website. I would like to thank David M. Dragos, Ph.D. student at Rutgers SCILS and Lynn Silipigni Connaway of OCLC for their help in compiling this list.

Again, this list is preliminary and not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to start a discussion. They are in alphabetical order.

I would like to invite you to leave a comment if your academic library is an innovator or if you know of others!

My next post (within the next day or so) will be Part 2 - Innovative Public Libraries.

Innovative Academic Library Websites

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Books that Would be Awesome Band Names

To me, there really aren't a lot of great things about weeding, minus the ability to evict any dust mites that may have made homes in our literature. But if there is one thing I love doing, is looking at book titles and making note of them for their appeal, oscurity, dated or, in this post, their potential awesomeness for a band name.

Here are my Top 10 choices:

Hi Tech Babies
The Princess of Neptune

Monday, February 12, 2007

2 Great Posts on DRM

I was doing a reference question and in the course of finding the answer I found 2 great posts on DRM:

I will be reading both these posts again more carefully tonight or tomorrow as I only had time to quickly scan them while on the desk. Here are a few highlights that made me know in an instant that they are bookmark worthy:

Graham states at the outset of his post:

In the Web 2.0 world everything makes or breaks on interoperability…or sharing. Sharing of thoughts, ideas, media, code, and work. If any point that openness is constricted, the whole system breaks down. Without this environment there would be no mashups, and many of the online services we rely on today would not exist.
Just imagine if all that open interoperability went away and we were back to the old days of closed APIs and closed systems. That's what DRM does.

Then just before his call for action, asks a crucial question:

Steve Jobs claims he wants to eliminate DRM. The music executives claim to want what's best for the consumer and their bottom line. These two things are not mutually exclusive. How about trusting your customers instead of assuming that every one of us is a criminal?

Douma, along the same lines, opens his post with this:

Let’s be frank for a moment. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is antitrust and anti-radical trust. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the iTunes music store because of its DRM. Why should you pay $1 for a track loaded with DRM when you can download it for free from a torrent with no restrictions at all? Why should anyone pay to be restricted?

And concludes with this:

This week’s call from Steve Jobs is long overdue. I hope that more visionaries like this guy can convince the world that there is more money to be made in trusting people than there is in restricting them.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Eastwood and Beethoven

Just reporting on yet another busy weekend at MPOW. I love my job in general, but at this very moment I am so incredibly invigorated (most likely from the music) and in love with what I do that I just have to write about it. We just wrapped up a concert in our community room called The Many Moods of Beethoven. It was performed by a chamber quarter from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and it was standing room only (with many also choosing to sit on the floor so as not to miss a note). My headcount was 180+, which is great for a cold Sunday afternoon in February. The musicians told the story of Beethoven's life through his music and the educational aspect was equal to the musical aspect.

In contrast to the classical music, we have also have a film series occurring at the library this weekend and for the next few weeks called "Clint Out West"-- it is a retrospective of Clint Eastwood's films. The attendance numbers are not as high for the Beethoven program (ranging from 30-60+ per film screening), but numbers aren't always the measure of a successful program. According to Susan Conlon, the organizer of the series, those in attendance are extremely engaged in the discussions being led by film historian Bruce Lawton and the series is not only entertaining but also educational.

Last weekend PPL hosted the Princeton Environmental Film Festival, a new and very successful venture which was entirely the initiative of Kai Marshall-Otto, a teen volunteer here at the library. Kai, who is also Co-President of Princeton High School Environmental Club, worked tirelessly to organize and coordinate the weekend. The festival offered 5 days of films and speakers on environmental issues and had a total attendance exceeding 1,000 for the weekend. Susan Conlon, our Teen Librarian extraordinaire, was the staff liaison for the festival and worked closely with Kai every step of the way to create a dynamic and exciting weekend. As she noted in her program report:

This program brought in all ages, and while adults represented the greatest % in attendance, it was very much noticed and appreciated that teens were the catalyst for this event, and were represented in the audience, and also helping to facilitate discussions.

We have programs and events daily, sometimes several in a day, and in the hustle to get everything done I do not usually have the time to sit and reflect on how wonderful it feels to work at a place that provides educational opportunities of such a wide variety to all who wish to attend. Today I am taking the time to reflect and it feels good.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Great Preconference! Creating A Staff Development Plan

Don't miss this great CLENE-RT Preconference at ALA annual!
Creating A Staff Development Plan

Friday, June 22, 2007,
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Sponsored by the CLENE Round Table
[CLENE: The Continuing Library Education Network and Exchange Round Table]

In today's environment, library staff have to work harder than ever to stay informed and keep up with changes. How can libraries encourage all staff to continually develop their skills? A systematic staff development plan can address the learning needs of library staff and increase their effectiveness on the job.

This half-day session is a step-by-step introduction to the process of addressing the issue of staff development from needs assessment through planning. Do you need a staff development plan?

Speakers: Cal Shepard, SOLINET
Tickets: CLENE-RT Member: $110; ALA Member: $130; Non-Member: $180
NOTE: If you plan on coming and you're not a CLENE-RT member, why not take this opportunity to join? It's only $20 to add CLENE to your ALA membership, and joining CLENE gives you many benefits including... wait for it... preferred professional membership in the American Management Association!

Interested? Click here for details:

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Topics in Librarianship: Social Software Literacy Course and 'Top 25 Web 2.0 Search Engines'

Following up on our (Janie Herman and Robert Lackie) "The Latest and the Coolest--Technology Librarians Can Use" presentation and discussions at the Rutgers University MLIS Colloquium last night, I spoke with Assistant Professor Steve Garwood there about his upcoming course, "Topics in Librarianship: Social Software Literacy," starting this summer.
We are always trying to highlight what Web 2.0 enthusiasts and experts are doing to help teach librarians and other information professionals how they can take advantage of this "software and information/communication medium," and Steve's course certainly fits the bill!

Steve has graciously allowed us to link to his draft version of the syllabus, giving us an idea of what will be covered and leading us to some interesting reading resources and the required equipment/software.
I thought this information and resources might spur on those of us who are might be thinking of offering a similar course or a series of workshops on "how technology is used in society to communicate information, ideas, practices, thoughts, and opinions and how this creates new communities and learning environments," so I was glad that he was willing to share. Here are his objectives thus far:
* Identify and use popular social technologies for information collection, management, dissemination and collaboration.
* Discuss the historical and theoretical understanding of technologies of collaboration. * Demonstrate knowledge of the impact of technology on information services and instruction for diverse audiences.
* Explain what Web 2.0/Library 2.0 is – how it is different from the “regular” WWW, and why that shift is important to libraries & librarians;
* Generate ideas for the use of social software & programs at libraries and information agencies to improve services and to help staff work more effectively.

Sound interesting? Take a look at his entire draft syllabus here.

Also, one of his library school students emailed him very recently about the Web 2.0 topic that Steve and I think Library Garden readers will appreciate, too: The Online Education Databases' "Top 25 Web 2.0 Search Engines," published two days ago on their site. I really liked several of the mashup and Rich Internet Application Search Interfaces (RIAs) examples and descriptions, but visual search, social software, and audio/visual search examples are also provided.

Don't you just love how librarians and library school students are willing to share?! Enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Blogging Live from Rutgers SCILS

Robert and I are here at Rutgers SCILS talking about all things 2.o and having a great time!
Marie Radford is here as well so it is a Library Garden reunion. Watch this space for links from the talk!
Hello again to everyone who attended our session last night --
first of several for Course 502 MLIS Colloquium (Spring 2007).
We were honored to be asked to speak and even more honored that so many people turned out on a sub-zero night to hear us talk.

As promised, here is a list of links from the talk. We would be interested in your feedback so please leave us comments or feel free to email us.

A Few Flickr'ing Libraries (and examples of what libraries can do with Flickr):
Flickr Groups for Librarians (especially those from NJ):
YouTube Must Sees:
We mentioned a lot of blogs and most (if not all) can be found on our blogroll, so take a peek at who we have listed and start reading. In particular, last night we focussed on Tame The Web and as well as the Ann Arbor District Library web site.

Two of the wikis mentioned last night included the Subject Guides at SJCPL and Princeton's BookLovers wiki as well as the various wikis being put in to place for conferences. I meant to mention, but it slipped my mind, Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. If you want to have a chance to play with a wiki and contribute content, this wiki is a great place to start.

Here also is the link to Robert's article (in case you need it for future reference) and to the CJRLC Technology Group blog that has the list of links from their January 16th meeting.

I will end this post just as we ended our talk, by linking to the Web Trend Map created by Information Architects [pictured above]. As they say on their site:

The iA Trend Map shows all the big players, the current Internet trends and how they’re connected, using the Tokyo Metro map. It’s totally unscientific and almost useless, but definitely fun to look at.

Also make sure you read the 50 Loudest Web Sites of 2006 report and look at their Internet 2007 Predictions.

Note: I think that is everything that we promised to provide links to for future reference. If I forgot something let me know. Or if we mentioned something and you want more details, drop us a line.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Amazing (short) Web 2.0 Video

By way of Boing Boing...

Check out this amazing video,"Web 2.0... the Machine is Us/ing Us," created by Michael Wesch, Assistant Cultural Anthropology Professor at Kansas State University.

What a great way to kick off the first 5 minutes of any web 2.0 workshop or discussion!

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Statistics Surrounding our 'Most Celebrated Sporting Event'--The Super Bowl!

OK, for once, my post is not a post about librarians, teachers, or technology. It is, however, about data--interesting data related to an important event to many this weekend: the Super Bowl.

I found it listed on Librarians' Internet Index, one of my favorite quality reference sites, brought to us by an unlikely, at least to me, but otherwise well-known quality organization: The U.S. Census Bureau!

This short and interesting special edition press release comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's Facts for Features & Special Editions newsroom, which collects stats on "demographic and economic subject areas intended to commemorate anniversaries or observances or to provide background information for topics in the news." You can receive RSS feeds to these releases, too, if you want to be cool and stay up-to-date!

Anyway, this latest release provides facts and other links highlighting the demographics of the cities related to and info about the teams in this year's Super Bowl, as well comparing how times have changed (i.e., populations, aging, educational levels, earnings, baby names) from the 1967 (Super Bowl I) to this year's Super Bowl XLI.

It's a quick read, so check it out!

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