Thursday, May 31, 2007

Amy's 8 Things

(Hmmm I kinda like the sound of that)!

So I have been tagged here and on the PML blog - do I have to come up with 16 things or should I just refer you there!? ;-) EDIT: Okay I managed to come up with 8 more - if you're really bored or interested check them out! ;-)

Well, I'll do 8 here and then see what happens:

1. I like to keep my fingernails really short because I can't stand typing on the keyboard with long ones. I spend so much time typing that it really is an issue for me and I can now hardly stand for them to be much longer than the very end of the tips of my fingers. This is okay though because I also pretty much prefer them this way and like the way they look. I also like to paint them dark red.

2. When I was little we had a tire swing in the backyard, hanging from a very large, old tree. I used to play outside on that tire swing all by myself for hours! One thing I would do was to "broadcast" my own radio show while I swung around (weird).

3. I have worked in the following places: a 5 & 10 store; CVS; a Mail Boxes, Etc. (no, it wasn't a UPS Store back then); a Manhattan publishing company; the Clifton (NJ) Public Library; and now at the Paterson (NJ) Free Public Library. It NEVER occurred to me to become a librarian, not even once, for one second, even though I went there ALL THE TIME, until about the year 2001.

4. I used to have a really weird habit of washing my feet before I went to bed. I just hated the idea of putting dirty feet into my bed. I don't know why I used to do that, and I don't really know exactly when or why I stopped doing that.

5. I don't really like to cook. My husband doesn't really like this fact about me.

6. I have never, ever, ever smoked a cigarette. Not even one puff once to try it. Never.

7. The first car I ever owned, which I bought myself, was a used Nissan Sentra. Stick shift. I didn't know how to drive stick. I couldn't even drive the car home myself. While learning to drive it, I once drove it right through the garage door! The only person who finally succeeded in teaching me how to drive that thing was a friend of my mom's. She was also my brother's Pre-K teacher and also then became a librarian!

8. I used to be a soccer superstar!

And, I'm not tagging anyone else. I hope that won't bring me 8 million years of bad luck or something...!!??!?

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8 Things (Janie)

Since our entire blog has been tagged (and since I have been too overwhelmed lately to post), this is a good reason to play along with the 8 random things meme. Posts of substance are in the works, I just need a few more hours in my days.

1. In 7th grade I wanted to be a cruise director like Julie on The Love Boat. The funny thing is that being the program coordinator at a public library is very similar in many ways, so I guess I achieved this aspiration.

2. My first childhood pet was a goldfish named Goldie. Apparently I was not terribly original when it came to names as a child because I also had a teddy bear named Bear-Bear and a doll named Dollie.

3. I am terrified of bats. This fear is not without reason, but the story is too complex for this post.

4. I used to be able to sing along to the entire soundtrack of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and can still make it through all of the Time Warp without prompts.

5. I have read every single book by Margaret Atwood, some more than once.

6. I am happiest when I am at the family cottage in the Kawartha Region of Ontario. I could happily spend my entire summer on the lake with nothing but a pile of books, jigsaw puzzles and a canoe or kayak.

7. My family is planning a trip to Disney World this September. The last time I was there was in 1975, the year that Space Mountain opened and it was a really big deal. My husband has not been there since 1977 and this will be Alex's first trip. I hope it is not 30+ years before we go again.

8. I think Parker Posey is absolutely brilliant and many of her films are among my all time favorites. Party Girl should be required viewing in library school. In fact, when it first came out I was in library school and about 40 of us went to theatre to see it together -- including the dean of the school and several professors.

Now my turn to tag. I think this meme requires 8 people to tag, so I am going to tag Pop Goes the Library and all of their blogging team (that takes care of 5 with one) as well as Helene Blowers, Karen Schneider, and Christopher Harris (who was an undergrad at HWS when I worked there as a Reference Librarian... makes me feel old).

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8 things (Pete)

Wow, the whole blog's been tagged. Here goes my part:
  1. I really, really, really want to visit Australia.
  2. Every year I walk around the lake outside my office and take pictures of the newly hatched baby ducks and geese. It's hard not to smile when looking at the fuzzy goodness of baby ducks.
  3. At any given moment I'd almost certainly rather be playing tennis. It's very Zen.
  4. Joe Versus the Vocano is one of my favorite movies and I don't understand why it's not more widely loved.
  5. I just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love. A wonderful book!
  6. I kept a dream journal for years, sometimes recording 10-15 dreams in a night. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio...
  7. I really, really, really tend to like people. (which is good, considering how many of them there are running around out there.)
  8. Animals? Not so much. I wish I liked animals, I just usually... don't. Which is unfortunate considering how many of them there are running around out there. (Baby ducks, and other furry youngin's excluded, of course.)


8 Things Meme (Tyler)

I've been tagged for the 8 Things meme by my Teacozy "real life" buddy. The rules are as follows:

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I've been working on a book for about 2 years now. Since I am anal retentive, the plotline is written out and yet I am only on the second chapter of the book.

2. I'm a guitarist who is unable to tune the note B. I have a gap in my hearing pattern that makes me tonedeaf to the frequency which is known as B, and the higher the frequency of B the worse my tuning ear gets.

3. I have a bad habit of leaving closet doors, silverware drawers and kitchen cabinet doors open. I claim it is to test whether we have ghostly spirits in the house (if the doors slam shut by themselves, that's a hint)... it's a total lie. I'm just lazy and forgetful. What's strange is that:

4. Oddly enough, I am fanatical about making sure the doors and windows are locked and closed when I go to bed.

5. I almost became a received a degree in Organismal Biology and Evolutionary Science. I decided to go with an Science and Education degree instead. If you ask me now, I wish I went with OB instead.

6. I still love going to zoos.

7. I have one major goal in life... I need to visit Australia at some point in this lifetime (see the connection in the last 3 things).

8. My dream job would be a golfer. I don't need fame and fortune, just enough to play golf and raise a family. There is not enough time in the day for me and golf.

The people I tag are, and I apologize if any have already done so:
Amy and Mary of Pimp My Library
Crazy Roommate

And since the rest of my buddies have all already been tagged... I'll leave the list as is.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You Don't Have To

Feeling overwhelmed by everything?

I sure have lately! Finding facebook and loving it somehow pushed me over the edge. I thought of myself as "keeping up" and "in the know," and then somehow I found myself feeling as if I'm drowning in the sea of incredible, new and fun tools, unable to get a breath!

I was talked down by this post from The Shifted Librarian (Jenny Levine). All I can say is, Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jenny. Your timing couldn't have been more perfect (sorry for that word ha ha.)

Please, for those of you feeling overwhelmed, I highly recommend you read it. Now.

You can't do it all, and admitting it is okay. This online stuff, it's
great. We *love* living in this time, right? It's fun, it's constant learning,
it's empowering and alluring if you love learning and information. All of those
tools at our fingertips to learn about and play with, all to help people. It's
beyond cool.

But it's not your life, nor should it be. You have to learn to let some of it go and then be okay with that (which is the hard part). Michael Stephens talks a lot about how librarians need to let go of the "culture of perfect." For the younger bibliobloggers I will add that you have to learn to let some of the pressure go. You physically cannot keep up with it all, so beating yourself up over failing to do so is pointless.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

What are the library students of today learning?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately and starting to talk to some people about it. I am happy to have found out that Leslie Burger, current ALA President and Princeton (NJ) Public Library Director is also interested in this and is looking (I believe) into ways of assessing and addressing it.....

I just wonder what our current library students are learning and if they are learning about Web 2.0 technologies, customer service and the importance of these things to libraries. If we are spending time and effort to "catch-up" our current librarians, unless we are producing librarians who are "up" on these things, we will be fighting a losing battle.

I have been out of library school since 2003 (and that is even longer ago really than 4 years when you take into consideration how technology and the world changes even faster and faster as time goes by). None of these Web 2.0 things were being talked about then, but they really weren't on the radar then. I had some wonderful professors. I am sure that there are some wonderful professors now who are teaching these things or who are open to them - maybe the library students are teaching them in some cases! - and I am not disparaging library schools or professors. I just don't want us to focus all of our efforts on the current librarians only to find that the "new" ones also need such "catching-up."

You might assume that all "new" librarians are "young" librarians. But this is certainly not the case, just as it isn't the case that all "young" librarians and people know and embrace all of the Web 2.0 technologies and approaches or realize their necessity in the library world.

A colleague shared this (and he can identify himself, elaborate, or not, I have altered the quote a bit for privacy, and hope he doesn't mind):
I did a talk for (a class) as recently as October 2006. By show of hands, maybe 2 out of 30 in the class had any idea what RSS is, or read any library blogs.

I found this upsetting (because) RSS IS an information literacy technology. Perhaps it is THE single best technology for allowing us to manage the flow, display, sharing, and consumption of information. As promoters of information literacy, librarians should be ALL OVER THIS.

You know, you could say that perhaps they are using RSS and don't know it, like many "lay" people who are using it but if you ask them they have no idea that they are! Although I think the point is they should know... However, the part about not reading library blogs is just inexplicable!

I posted about it on another blog and got an interesting reply from a library student:

LibraryNation said...
I'm in library school right now and I'd have to say that there's a division of thirds in regards to the level of skill we future librarians have: a third of us are really up to
date on technology, web 2.0, and the like; a third don't know a lot about these
things, but really want to learn more and take all sorts of tutorials and short courses from our IT lab (staffed by fellow students) to expand their knowledge/understanding/use of these technologies. The last third don't have much interest in learning about these technologies, or perhaps don't even know that this is something they should be teaching themselves... something that's vital. Kind of like marketing ;)
... And maybe you're right about needing to educate our professors. I think they also fall into the three categories: those in the know, those who want to be in the know, and those who think it's relevant/unimportant or are unenlightened.

Let's make sure we take an even broader view - look at the even bigger picture - and make sure that the librarians of tomorrow coming out of library school will truly be librarians of tomorrow and not librarians of yesterday!

(Maybe things aren't as bad as I fear - can anyone help me out here?!)

UPDATE 05/29/07:
I received this message from Leslie Burger -
I’ve just appointed an ALA presidential task force on library education to
take a look at what is being taught in library schools, consider core
curriculum, and how the LIS curriculum needs to match what we need in the
marketplace. ALA Past President Carla Hayden is chairing the TF which
reports back to the ALA Executive Board with the recommendations at the 2008
Annual Conference.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Fun: Are you old?

The bloggers at Library Garden have a little listerv on the side that we use to stay in touch with each other, and this week we found ourselves questioning whether or not we're old. This was prompted by an experience Amy had at the reference desk, and I'll let her blog about that if she chooses.

I was reminded of an old SNL monologue by Billy Crystal where he recounts his young daughter saying to him, "Daddy, is it true that Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?" To which he replies in the voice of an old Jewish man, "Let me tell you about a little band known as... THE BEATLES."

In an effort to help Amy feel a bit younger, I posed these questions on the listserv and suggested that if she could answer 'no' to ten of them, she's decidely not old. At her suggestion, I'm sharing them here. Enjoy! And a most pleasant weekend to all!

  • Did you ever have a black and white TV? One with knobs (no buttons, no remote)
  • Did you ever NOT have a microwave oven?
  • Did you ever have a car with a "choke"?
  • When you were growing up were you limited to 12 channels?
  • Do you remember when people used to smoke on planes?
  • - And in stores?
  • - And at work?
  • - And in bed?
  • Do remember when the FDA tried to ban saccharine?
  • Do you remember when laetrile was going to cure cancer?
  • Have you ever known a world without:
  • - velcro?
  • - computers?
  • - digital cameras?
  • - compact discs?
  • Do you remember when polaroid was state of the art?
  • Do you remember when tape recorder meant reel-to-reel?
  • Did you ever take a tube out of your tv and bring it down to the local hardware store to test it on a big machine to see if it needed replacing?
  • Did a teacher ever make you run things off on a mimeograph?
  • Do you even know what a mimeograph is?
  • Did you ever wear parachute pants?
  • Do you remember when PONG was the most cutting edge video game and you thought your head would explode from the joy of playing it?
  • Did you ever have a commodore vic 20? (and thought your head would explode, etc...)
  • Do you remember when we didn't own our own phones; we rented them from Bell Atlantic?
  • Do remember when the flip phone first came out and you thought your head would explode from the joy of flipping it open?
  • Do you remember stores giving away green stamps?
  • Do you remember shopping at Two Guys? at Korvettes?
  • Do you remember when Exxon was Esso?
  • Do you remember when gas was .55 cents/gallon and people were freaked out about how expensive it was getting?
  • Do you remember waiting on long lines to gas, and you had to go on an "odd" day or an "even" day.
  • Do you remember when Iran and Iraq were our friends?
  • Do you remember listening to Bobby Sherman on 8-track?
  • Do you remember twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesonions- onasesameseedbun (and can you sing it?)
  • Do you remember when the coffee stirrers at McDonalds had little spoons on the end?
  • Do you remember when McDonalds discontinued them?
  • Do you remember WHY McDonalds discontinued them? (snort, snort)
  • Do you remember Hamilton Jordan at studio 54 (see a theme here?)
  • Do you remember ABSCAM?
  • Do you remember ME shirts (talking about McDonalds)?
  • Do you remember when Pet Rocks were the rage?
  • Do you remember Squirmels?
  • Do you remember When Evel Knievel jumped the Snake River Canyon? (well, he tried anyway)
  • Do you remember that George Hamilton movie where he played Evel Kneivel??
  • Do you remember Beer commercials with the "ya doesn't have to call me johnson" guy?
  • Do you remember Aste Spumante commercials?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MySpace to give up names of registered sex offenders.

Man, this is a tough one. My many sides are really battling each other.

The librarian side of me screams about the rights of privacy and shuns them for giving in.
My business side wonders if it was necessary in order to keep the website alive... one too many lawyers to hire and enough bad publicity.

My researcher side of me tells me that underage children are lying about their identities on the site as well.

My educator side agrees and says we need to teach or children about digital ethics and how not to invite trouble into your life.

My logical side agrees and knows that this wont stop unregistered pedifiles from getting to our children.

Which leads to my rational side of me wondering if there are better ways of creating profiles that help avoid these problems on Myspace.

And through all this, the parent in me says damned straight! It is amazing how strong that voice became when my wife gave birth to our child.

All in all, I really don't know how to think of this. Yeah, in a way I feel that they are convicts and deserve what they get now; but they are still citizens and therefore have all the rights of any other citizens despite their past actions... and some people do reform and have the right to a normal life.

I simply don't know... anyone else?

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Monday, May 21, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

The other night I watched 60 Minutes which isn't something I regularly do but I'm glad I did because last night they did a story called What If Every Child Had A Laptop?

Nicholas Negroponte, a professor at MIT, had a dream that every child on the planet had a laptop. He thought that this would enable kids even from impoverished countries to become educated and a part of the rest of the modern world. He figured if he could help invent an inexpensive laptop he could achieve this dream.

He founded a non-profit organization called One Laptop Per Child and he has managed to create a lightweight, very sturdy, inexpensive laptop that he expects will soon cost about $100.00.

The show was pretty amazing - the kids in some places he went to didn't even have electricity or running water but when they got the laptops they only needed about 10 minutes to figure out how to use them! They taught each other and they brought the laptops home and taught their families. Sometimes the light from the laptop was the only source of light in the home! Some places he would like to give the kids laptops don't even have a school. The laptops would be their school.

It might seem like a luxury but would it really be in places such as Cambodia, Brazil, countries in Africa?

Interestingly, the attendance at schools where the laptops were given out also went up - kids were coming to school because they had heard from other kids that school was a good place to be and a place where they got the laptops. These kids started crossing the digital divide.

The computers have built-in cameras, drawing programs and programs to make music. They have wi-fi two to three times better than the wi-fi in this Dell laptop I'm using right now, according to Negroponte, and are currently in a testing program in Brazil. The computers are waterproof and do not have openings on the sides where sand or dirt could get in.

These laptops have other features I would love - the battery lasts 10-12 hours and can be recharged with the use of a hand-crank if no electricity is available. Who wouldn't love that!?

Interestingly, this laptop which started out as a dream and is Negroponte's completely humanitarian effort, has attracted some competition. Geekcorps - an organization that brings technology to poorer countries, much like the Peace Corps operates, thinks the One Laptop Per Child idea is great but director Wayan Vota isn't sure that the kids can really just teach themselves. And there is another laptop up against Negroponte's. The Classmate by Intel -

Negroponte says that worldwide there are over a billion children who would need laptops, so no wonder other companies want in on this idea. Negroponte says this competition is "shameless," but Intel says it is just the way the business - the world - works. Intel believes that a project like this will require everyone working together and that there are lots of opportunities to work together.

To get his laptops into full production he will need at least 3 million orders. He feels confident he will get that despite the competition from Intel and others who will want to get their products into the hands of a billion plus kids.

If his ultimate goal is really a purely humanitarian one of really getting a laptop into the hands of every child maybe the competition will be good - maybe it will result in an even cheaper, and better, model that really can be distributed worldwide.

Whatever happens with the One Laptop Per Child program, one of my favorite parts of this whole idea is that when One Laptop Per Child comes to the US (there are talks going on already) and if the laptops become available commercially, parents will have to buy two if they want one. One for your child and one for another child. I think that's a great idea and hey you'll still only be spending about $200.00!

I think this program would be great in urban areas in the United States such as the one I am working in now, Paterson, New Jersey. Many of the kids in these schools do not have access to computers everyday, they don't even all have real cafeterias, gyms or science labs in most of the schools! I recently toured some of the schools in Paterson during a seminar for Leadership Paterson, a program I am enrolled in. That was fascinating but I will post on that another time at my blog, Urban Librarian.

Teen Librarians: Who we are and what we are not

As a Young Adult Librarian, I have made the professional decision to immerse myself in young adult culture; the books they read, the music they listen to, the resources they use for information. I have also taken on the responsibility to provide programming opportunities for the teen community to participate in, if they choose to do so. In other words, teen resources are my specialty.

But I am not the babysitter for every teen that enters the library.

And I am not the only person capable of handling teens’ questions.

I am not disciplinarian for all teens.

Nor are my job responsibilities significantly different from any other librarian.

I am not their babysitter- Teens that come into the library are my specialty, not my responsibility. Just because a teen enters the building, it does not mean they can only be in the Teen Section. Teens have the same rights as all other patrons, they are allowed to go in any other part of the library.

I am not the only person to handle a teens’ question- Listen to the needs of the patron first and then figure out if my expertise is needed. If they know the name of book they are looking for, help them. If they want to find out where the copier is, show them. But, if the teens wants book recommendations, programming information, research help… I’m your person. Remember, I don’t send every old person your way.

I am not the teens disciplinarian- If teenagers are acting up in the library, this is not my fault. Furthermore, don’t send me the rambunctious teen and tell me to “deal with them.” In doing so, you have negated your own authority in the teens’ eyes.

My job responsibilities aren’t significantly different- If you don’t expect the rest of your staff to work multiple nights, then it shouldn’t be expected of your YA Librarian. If your typical Reference or Children’s Librarian does two programs a week, don’t expect the YA Librarian to have programming everyday, or every moment that teens are present. If you don’t expect your other programs to have 100% attendence from members of the library community, don’t expect every teen to show up for every program.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of good Teen Librarians who leave the position because of they discover the job expectations are disproportoinate to other positions in the libarary.

Consider families, consider the lives outside of job and please consider the wear and tear you put on your Teen Librarian when you send them patrons you personally would rather not deal with.
We are programmers, we are selectors, we are outreach and we are staff members dedicated to maintaining the enthusiasm and interest of the library’s future adults, future taxpayers, and advocates.

We do not need a thank you for this… we just ask for your consideration.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

World Cafe Power Point

At The Futures Conference, Peggy Cadigan and Barbara Cole stayed up all night working up this great powerpoint to capture all the great thoughts and comments that came out of the World Cafe that took place after a great day of presentations!

Take a look here!

(Great use of too!)

The World Cafe was a chance for everyone to socialize and talk about what we had experienced throughout the day. We were in small groups and talked aabout a question that was posed something like, "If you die 100 years from now what will be different about the world you leave compared to the one you came into?" And one other one I can't recall right now - help me out someone!

FYI if you look at the pictures, the World Cafe pics are the ones that show lots of glitter and stuff on the tables and tables named after books and/or movies, and all those newsprint papers hanging up with all our doodling, drawing and brainstorming on them! It was fantastic and excellently created, organized and run by Peggy and Barbara! Kudos!

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The Ultimate Question and One More...

I just came across this article in OCLC's NextSpace No. 5 (from Dec. 2006 - Yikes! Where was I!?) Are You Asking the Ultimate Question? which talks about a book by Fred Reichheld, The Ultimate Question.

This article talks about how the most important question to ask of your customers/patrons is "Would you recommend us to a friend?" In fact, the argument is made that this need be the ONLY question if you survey. Yes, a one-word survey!

I actually heard this recently when I toured a hospital in Paterson - they have this question stated explicitly as a goal - "Would you (in this case the employee) recommend this hospital to your friends or family members?" A pretty good question to keep in mind! I think it is a good thing just to ask ourselves to make sure we are providing a level of service that we would be proud to offer to our own circle.

Which reminds of something I heard recently about the bathrooms in some public libraries - the staff wouldn't stand for having to use them and have their own bathrooms which are in much better shape, but they expect their patrons to use them all the time!? This is like a "home" and the patrons are a guest in your home - is that the bathroom condition you would present to your guests at home?

Anyway . . .

Fred Reichheld is saying that the answer to this one question could determine the future of your business or library.

With something that is this "old" (the book came out in January 2006) I always worry that someone else has already addressed this, but it is totally new to me and I think very important for libraries.

Nonbusiness organizations also have customers; they need to delight the people
they serve, and they too can benefit greatly from the use of one simple metric.
- Fred Reichheld in NextSpace No. 5.

Wow! DELIGHT the people they serve! What a novel idea! So how does this one question work?

You ask a question such as, "On a scale of 1-10 how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?"

Promoters score 9 or 10 - are loyally enthusiastic, keep coming and urging others to do so

Passives score 7 or 8 - are satisfied but easily wooed away

Detractors are the rest - UNHAPPY CUSTOMERS, feel ignored/mistreated, plot to get even!

Sometimes a follow-up question is asked to gain more insight. "If you would not recommend us, why not?" (Those answers might be hard to face!)

Ironically, customer loyalty provides companies with a powerful advantage - a
battalion of credible sales and marketing and PR troops who require no salary or
commissions. Yet the importance of these customer promoters is overlooked. -
Fred Reichheld, NextSpace No. 5.

We already know the power of negative experiences in stores or libraries and the studies that show that if a customer has a bad experience they are likely to tell (something like) 12 people! If they have a good experience they don't tell nearly as many. It takes way more positive experiences to overcome one negative experience. We need to create as many positive experiences, and positive, PROMOTER-users as possible!

I recommend you read the article if you're not familiar with this - it also contains information on the OCLC report Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources. Steve Hiller also provides a lot of information in this article.

I plan to check this out some more and do some reading on the blogs related to this idea. I think it would be fascinating to do this type of one- or two-word survey and see what we get!

One other question I want to bring up here is "What business are we in?" I used this today when a volunteer came to me with yet another ripped magazine cover, very distressed. I told her that we aren't in the business of preserving magazines perfectly forever. We are in the business of providing magazines to be read. True, if one person destroys a magazine they are obstructing others from having access to it, but some ripped and torn covers is not really the priority of our business.

So I say, ask yourself, "What business are you in?" and then ask yourself and your customers, "Would you recommend us to a friend or family member?"

Okay sorry I'm having trouble in the comments but the link for the new forum on Net Promoter is:

Sorry I couldn't edit or delete those messed up comments b/c I didn't install greasemonkey yet per Peter! :-)

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

NJ State Library is 'On the Train!'

I've just come back from the HRLC Annual Meeting up at the lovely Parsippany-Troy Hills library (I really like the library's "opening doors to the world" logo and mission). I went as an employee of an HRLC member library, and as the Chair of the HRLC Technology Committee, and also as a representative from the NJLA Member Services Committee. This is the first year I've been able to attend the annual meeting and I have to say it was great!

Norma Blake, the State Librarian, was there sharing about the State Library and what it's up to and where it's going. I just want to quickly share that everything that Norma talked about was very exciting and really "on track" from my perspective of what libraries in NJ need.

(Apologies if I've gotten anything incorrect here or misrepresent anything - please put me straight anyone if so!)

This presentation was similar (though much shorter) to the one presented at NJLA last month by the State Library and seemed very focused and more specific. It was also clearly influenced by the Futures Conference which was what I was so excited to see!

I heard things that came directly out of the conference such as the fact that they will have a position for Urban and Adult services - they already have teen services and now they want to focus on the needs of urban libraries and of the needs of the increasingly older population - Norma specifically said they will be working with Americans for Libraries Council which was what Mary Catherine Bateson spoke about when she did her presentation on "active wisdom," and the importance of the relationships and value that the older generations bring, and their worth and place in society. It was also what the demography program showed us - the boomers are getting older (sorry guys!) and they are a large population! Clearly, the State Library is paying attention and responding!

Norma shared that they are "reworking" some positions - since they can't afford to just create and hire new people. For example, Peggy Cadigan's role is going to evolve into an "Innovations" position where she will be a member of a futures group and attend conferences and meetings about the future that are held by not just libraries and librarians, but by other fields too so that we will know what's ahead "down the pike" not just for us, but in other areas - areas and things that will certainly impact upon us! VERY exciting - for Peggy and for NJ libraries and librarians!

They are also going to have a Technologies position and want to create a help desk and have assistance available for libraries. This is all of course in addition to the great marketing and pr work they are doing, the other initiatives and efforts they are pursuing. This is by no means a comprehensive list!

I also think the idea of creating pilot projects in each region to demonstrate the value for the constituents is great - the pilot projects also aim to attract new users.

I spoke to Norma during the break to tell her that I am very excited by everything she talked about - she even has a plan for how to proceed following the Futures Conference! The New Jersians who attended the conference will be meeting up for an "After the Futures" meeting to continue to talk about what we heard and saw and brainstorm how specifically to proceed in NJ. From this brainstorming meeting we will see what ideas shake out and then we will invite input from all and develop some plans around the ones that get the most support.

I am really excited (did I say that already?) to see ACTIONS coming out of the Futures Conference - after all, it was called Imagination to Transformation, and transforming requires action! I am really happy to see the State Library taking a strong, specific leadership role for the future of library service in New Jersey!

There was more of course, and the Strategic Plan for the Highlands Regional Library Cooperative was shared and voted on - awards were given out and food was had! Unfortunately, I didn't have time to take any photos what with manning the Member Services station and attending the meeting, but I left there feeling very energized! Hopefully we will find out more about all of these things soon!

P.S. You can now blog and read about reactions to the Futures Conference on that blog and there is a new flickr page for the photos! I also see a video posted with Peggy in it but I haven't viewed it yet! Still looking around for those slides from the presentations though ....

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Twittering about Second Life

Monday I got this e-mail from my director:

Those of us at the Futures conference heard about the increasing rate of change
and how technology is central to it. So, do any of you read the Sunday Star
Ledger? If you do, did you notice the articles on pages 2 and 3 of the first
section (not buried somewhere) - Twitter and Second Life. When things like this
become news that's prominently placed, you HAVE to sit up and take notice.

True, this past Sunday's Star Ledger carried articles about Twitter and Second Life (actually, there were two about Second Life, there was also this one). Well those are the ones I found online, I didn't actually see the print paper.

While I'm certainly not a "Twitter celebrity" I have discovered that Twittering is kinda' fun. The first time I heard about it I thought it was ridiculous and didn't even sign up for it - even though I am a major "joiner"! ;-) However, when a friend invited me to join and be his friend, I did it and then found out that getting little messages about what he was doing was kinda neat and fun. Then I added another friend. It also became fun to post little tidbits about what I was doing (you are limited to 140 characters). I am by no means "addicted" or "obsessed," but it is fun.

The article calls Twitter a "booming new social networking site," "micro-blogging," "addictive and may just be the future of communication." People are using it to find like-minded friends and connections without all the "noise" of MySpace. Especially funny tweets become popular and their posters gain visibility.

One day when I checked the public timeline I saw people posting to each other who were at some kind of conference and checking-in to say when/where/what they were doing - making plans about where to meet up and when to eat, etc....

At the Futures Conference Ray Kurzweil talked about things doubling very quickly. Well, according to one of the founders of Twitter, its users are doubling every three weeks!

Check out Twitter Map and Twitterholic if you're into it.

As for Second Life, the first article offers a sort of "travel guide" to it with tips and a warning that "sex is everywhere," hence the second article about someone offering child pornography there.

Again, I am not a big user of Second Life. I did eventually sign up but have only been "virtual" once. I just fumbled and stumbled around and ended up getting stuck on a fence somewhere. However, Second Life has more than 6 million registered participants (according to the article) and I have seen some interesting things on useful applications and results from Second Life. Of course, there is a library there and many "real world" things take place there - concerts, buying and selling, advertising, building or creating things, meet people, own land, etc..

Maybe I should give it another try. If anyone knows how to get off that darn fence in Second Life, Twitter me!

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NYT online hotlilnks---WTF??

Lately I have been noticing that the NYT online edition makes some very, um, interesting choices when deciding which words in an article need to be hyperlinked to additional information. I guess my question to whatever unpaid intern they've assigned to the job is: "What are you smoking, and haven't you read the latest research on what that does to you???"

When used sparingly and caringly, hyperlinks, the modern day equivalent of what my pappy called "footnotes", can be our friends. (for more information on footnotes, see footnotes)

Take for instance today's Science Times article, A Giant Takes on Physics Biggest Questions. My first thought was, "Oh boy, an article about giants! I KNEW they really existed, I just KNEW IT!!"

Guess what? The article's not even about giants (I know, I was pissed too. I bet the same stupid intern who does the linking also writes the misleading headlines.)

OK, after I get over my disappointment that the article is actually about a bunch of fizzisists 300 feet below the ground trying to re-create the beginning of the universe by smashing tiny little particles into each other, I sit back and say, "hey, cool, I've been meaning to brush up on my particle physics. But I'm a little rusty on some of the basic concepts and lingo of advanced theoretical phenomenology. It sure would be helpful if the NYT would footnote -- oops, I mean hyperlink -- some of the hardcore scientific stuff to definitions, background information, biography, or further material that might enhance my ability to understand any of this."

The NYT chose to go another route.

In their six page article on theoretical particle physics, this is what they thought was really important to hyperlink:

Page 1: On a page containing such terms as "European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN)", "Large Hadron Collider", "electron volts of energy", "dark matter" and "dimensions of spacetime", the only word they thought was important to hyperlink out to more information was...wait for it... Earth. Earth? EARTH???? I guess they chose to hyperlink it for those few souls who read the New York Times online that don't know that Earth, " is the third planet from the Sun and the only one in the solar system known to harbor life."

Page 2: Unlinked go search terms as, "trillion-electron volt Tevatron", "antimatter opposites", "antiprotons", "Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory". And the hotlink goes to... Nobel Prize. And not even to a definition of Nobel Prize, just a link to random articles in the New York Times that mention "Nobel Prize." Super! (a good a time as any to note that ALL hyperlinks, save perhaps paid ads, on the New York Times website only link back to---you got it--- the New York Times website. Super!)

Page 3: Unlinked terms: "Cocktail party physics" (I'm guessing, not so much with the fun), "God particle", "Higgs Boson", electroweak force", "Planck energy". And the hotlink goes to... Nada. No hotlinks. Skippy the unpaid intern must have been checking his MySpace page for messages.

Page 4: Unlinked terms: "Quantum weirdness", "supersymmetry", "photons", "glunino". And the hotlink goes to... I guess Skippy's busy twittering.

Page 5: Unlinked: "primordial fluid", "quark-gluon plasma", "Compact Muon Solenoid". And the link goes to, "radiation." Which I could actually let slide if it didn't lead back to a bunch of random NYT articles, mostly about cancer, that mention the word radiation somewhere.

Page 6: Unlinked: "Fermilab Tevatron", "CDF", "UA1 and UA2", "LHCb". And the link goes to... Uh, nothing.

But wait! I now notice at the bottom of every page a little link that says, "Sphere: Related Blogs & Articles". Yes! I knew the New York Times was just screwing with me! Now I'm going to click on "Sphere"* and get all sorts of related theoretical particle physics goodness. Here I go... I'm gonna do it... < CLICK! >

The good news: Sphere actually links to material outside of the NYT universe. The bad news: This is what it links to:

I'm speechless. I am without speech.

*Sphere: "Connecting Blogs and News"

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Pandora helps you find your favorite new bands

Although I do have a fairly respectable (read as: large) collection of music I am always on the watch for something new. The problem is that I tend to waste a lot of money on bands that "sound like" my favorites, only to find out $18 and an hour later, they really aren't something I wanted to spend my money on.

Thanks to Pandora, that is changing.

Pandora is the fruition of the Music Genome Project. Each song entered into the site is subject to classification through genre, decade, musical composition, harmonies, keys, progression and much more. The result is when you put in a favorite song or artist in the search box, Pandora creates a station compiled with artists who closely resemble many of your favorite band's qualities.

Furthermore, the station is always working towards making the ideal listening station for the listener. Each song can be given a thumbs up or down. Thumbs up will be used to first compare the qualities of your favorite band and your new song and then target even closer to bands of similar sounds. If you give a song a thumbs down, the station will skip past the song and never play it on that station again.

The result is quite impressive. I have five stations that are based off of my favorite rock with punk influence and, because of the thumbs up and down options, each one sounds different from the other. Now, I have several new bands to follow:

Pansy Division- Tired of being ostracized for being gay, John Ginoli and Chris Freeman created a gay-friendly punk band with unabashed lyrics and a good sense of humor.
Sanctus Real- A Christian rock band willing to break its contract with major labels in order to play songs they love.
Augustana- Young band rising on the charts and it's no wonder. As they describe their own album, "its a young and scared record...and it's real and from our hearts... "

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Change and Growth - Amendment

Immediately after I posted that bit about "Change is inevitable. Growth is optional," right before the Futures Conference, I realized it needed an amendment. It needed me to add that I am such a hypocrite!

I am a huge advocate of using "2.0" things for libraries - blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc... and not being AFRAID of CHANGE and of doing some different things. And here I am, NOT blogging really! I posted that post and then went off to take a shower and it was there that I realized that I have to admit and face up to MY fears and issues if I am going to be talking to others about CHANGE - FEAR - GROWTH and their issues.

My fear is of not being perfect; not being good enough - liked - accepted; etc.... That is why I have been avoiding blogging. This is a true soul-baring admission. I want to blog. I often think of things to blog. Yet, I allow my fears to hold me back.

Well, no more! I am realizing my fears, admitting them, and challenging them. Just as I want to be able to challenge everyone else to do! So, as I go forth and blog and challenge you (hopefully) you can know that I do so with a clear conscious having admitted this and having started to face my own fears!

At the conference Robert said to me that people appreciate honesty and that's what is most important. Well, consider yourselves warned . . .

[Thanks to Robert and Pete for discussions surrounding this topic at the conference! It helped a lot!]

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Library Futures Conference - some resources

Wow! How will I get the TIME to deal with all that happened at the Futures Conference? Time was one of the major themes throughout the conference: Time is "speeding up," we have a "distorted sense" of time; etc...

Some of the other themes were:
Change (of course)
People - we need to focus on, not just books, information, etc.
Reflection - people need space/time to reflect on all the amazing experiences that new technologies allow us to have - the library could be the perfect place for that!
(I'll add more later)

I am eager to get some of my notes and thoughts out there - I think Pete's first post did a great job of capturing the "library spaces" program and I hope he'll share more of his notes!

For now, here are a few resources, b/c I am eagerly awaiting the posting of all the presentations, podcasts, information etc. from the conference:

Ray Kurzweil's site
Bob Treadway's site
Joan Frye William's site
Mary Catherine Bateson's site

Those are the only ones I can put up quickly - I really can't wait until all the materials are made available so that they may be shared as widely as possible with those who were not able to attend.

I also really love when different things start to "come together." I found these things last night and they really relate to the conference:

Pushing Through The Dip and this via Helene Blowers on flickr
Google's trend watch
Learning 2.0 Throughout the World and
Spring into Learning 2.0

Actually, I think all of those resulted originally from me looking at Helene Blowers' flickr site!

I have already had to create a "futures" folder for myself for all the things that have been flying around today already as a result of the conference! That is probably one mark of an excellent conference!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

In Memory of Shel Silverstein

In 1999, I was working as a Surveyor. My coworkers were gruff men who enjoyed using their machetes to hack down site lines for their instruments. Sum’bitch was a popular word to use as both an adjective and noun. So, it was a bit suprising when, on May 10th, my crew chief took the morning paper, rolled it up, and told not to open it until I got home… he actually forced me to leave work and paid me for the day. When I got home, I opened the newspaper he gave me and saw that Shel Silverstein passed away the night before, I’d lost my favorite childhood writer. My chief knew that too and I guess he figured that news was enough work for one day. So I took the day off and wrote this song:

I’ll never forget that day May 10th, 1999
When I opened up the paper and saw my favorite writer
a mentor had died.
Now there’s no more kids in the tub
and the channels on the TV have become
boring and dumb.
Then I called up my best friend
and said “I think we finally found out where
the sidewalk ends.”

A Light in the Attic
can tell me how people
dream to get by.
I’d climb the highest mountain
to meet Baba Fatts
and find his perfect high.
But lesson number one,
I’ll never try to cheat the devil
like Billy Markham.
I guess what they say is true
People’d rather waste their life on dope
then hear the truth.

Well, someday, I’ll write a book
and it will be successful
It will be called
“How the Giving Tree
Came to Change My Life.”
I’ve read it since I was four
and to a thousand other children when I was
a camp counselor.
And I laughed a lot
but not as much as I cried
the day that my mentor Shel Silverstein died.

Library Futures Conference Roundup, pt 1

I had the mind-blowing pleasure of attending Imagination to Transformation, the Mid-Atlantic Library Futures Conference, on Monday and Tuesday. I have lots of notes notes notes, a swirl of ideas, and a pile of inspiration. In the interest of sharing the goodies, I'm posting my notes in a fairly raw form with limited commentary. Get it right or get it written, right?

Before I get into my notes, a big thank you to the New Jersey State Library (esp. Peggy Cadigan) , Palinet (Catherine Wilt, Ann Yurcaba, Diana Bitting), and all of the organizers for all their hard work and for doing a fantastic job! Great speakers, great space, great conference!

For those of you following along at home, conference materials and handouts will be posted on either the conference website and/or the conference blog.

OK, here are my notes from:

Jeffrey Scherer of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.

(BTW, this is a highly filtered report. Scherer talked a lot about lighting, about environmentally friendly building design, and many other fascinating topics. I highly recommend you take a look at his whole presentation when it's posted to the conference website.)

  • The library in 2030 will be as different from today’s library as today's library is from the library of 1930.

  • The library as a central place is the only single political agent that can affect change at all levels. Our neutrality is an important tool for us to think about.

  • The library is an agent of these four elements of our lives: live, work, play, learn.

  • We are a service profession that delivers great content, struggles with technology and frets over cash. The real decisions are made around cash. If you reflect on the fact that Americans spend as much on Halloween candy as they do on library books, you see that the $$ is there.

  • We need to stop focusing on what is not possible, and focus on what is possible. It’s important to be optimistic. If you focus energy on what’s not possible, you’ll never create the possible.


  • "Our eyes connect our emotions."
  • "Love is probably the central focus of great libraries"

Guiding principle: We need to create space for spontaneity and socializing: the library as 3rd place (agora)

Carleton college did a survey of alumni: 40% of graduates married other Carleton students; 40% of those people met in the library. Why? Because they were in a different social space than if they had met at a football game. Being in a library raises our commonality; transcends our boundaries.

Applying the lessons: How to create a 3rd space:

  • Reading nooks with back to wall (people love to curl up)
  • Daylight and views
  • Computer tables (missed some of what he said on this)
  • Offer a variety of options
  • Self-controlled lighting
  • Daylight and good views
  • Gossip corners that don’t interfere with others
  • Homelike features; fireplace, natural flooring
  • Group seating that can work with one to three people
  • Privacy (acoustic and visual): people want to get information in private
  • Visibility of service points and collection
  • Come out from behind the desk and greet patrons. There has to be a transformation in this area!

Other key points

  • "I want to do it myself" Trend to self service is huge.
  • "Help is on the way" but only if you need it. (Point of need service delivery)

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Monday, May 07, 2007

The Future's So Bright . . .

Robert's here!
Pete's here!
Lots of friendly, happy, familiar NJ librarians are here! And lots of happy, friendly and not-yet-familiar out-of-state librarians are here!

The wireless here in The Borgata seems to be great in some places and not-so-great in others, despite the promise of free wi-fi all over the hotel! Tomorrow I have to conduct a webinar from here and I have finally secured a location but now need to confirm decent Internet access (more on that later).

The first session here was already inspiring - I went to Salvador Avila's presentation (I believe many presentations and even podcasts and information is to be made available on the Palinet site) and already, from that session, I was invited to take part in some "brainstorming" for a project - however, I had previously arranged a brainstorming lunch with Pete so I'll have to be brought up to speed on their brainstorms later on!

There's tons of brainpower here! I started that post this morning at 9am and couldn't get enough good online time to justify running my battery on the laptop down, so I took hand-written notes and will post those tomorrow - it's 12:35am! - so that is today, I guess! I would have done it earlier tonight but I was very good and attended my online class from 7-9pm!

I have already posted my first set of photos on flickr - I'm exhausted though so more from my notes tomorrow!

[Note to Pete and self - we forgot to talk specifically about CLENE!]

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone who is going at The Futures Conference Monday and Tuesday!

I'm really excited that NJ is participating in this conference. To me it is a strong indication that librarians in NJ want to be at the forefront of things as time goes by. For too long we have been playing catch-up and have been behind. Thankfully, there are many librarians who have been stepping up to get up to speed and then sharing what they know with others, but we will all need to prepare ourselves as much as possible so that libraries and library services, and librarians, will hold their places of great value and importance in their communities and to society.

Things will continue to change and progress - of that we can be sure.

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

I saw that someplace recently and it really, really strikes me and stands out to me as the motto we should all adopt at this very transitional time! Change is difficult and can be traumatic. But it is going to happen whether we want it to or not; whether we like it or not; whether we try to stand still and let it roll over us; or we embrace it and hop on for the ride!

I think we should all just admit that change is scary and difficult - share the fears we have and understand that just because we may be afraid of something, that doesn't make it bad or wrong or dangerous. Admit it and talk about it. Face it head-on and in the open - help each other to deal with the anxieties and concerns it can bring. Pretending change and fear and anxiety don't exist can result in unnecessarily overly negative reactions to new ideas and suggestions.

In fact, of course, things have already changed and we have been behind the curve. I'm so glad we're catching up now and having a futures conference is a great way to be more forward-thinking rather than backward-looking. I'm very eager to listen, think and talk about what will be happening in the future, not just in libraries, but in all areas, and how these things will impact us as librarians.

I'm looking forward to all the conversations that will result.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Free Comic Book Day--Highlighting "Super Librarian" Comic in NJ!

The third phase of the Super Librarian campaign begins today, May 5, 2007, in conjunction with North America's 6th Free Comic Book Day, a single day when participating comic book stores (find one near you) give away comic books for free to anyone who comes into their stores. It usually coincides with the release of a well-known superhero movie--and this year, it is Spider-Man 3 (can't wait to see it myself later today--and yes, I got my tickets earlier this week!).

Well, as much as I am interested in seeing Spider-Man 3, I am just as interested to visit my local library as the brand-new Super Librarian comic book will be proudly given out at over 200 New Jersey libraries. Why is this important? Nancy Dowd from the NJ State Library explains the history behind it at her blog--here's an excerpt:

"...the target audience from the general population to the tweens and teens. We had run a contest having teens write a backstory and from there two very talented librarians (David Lisa and Manny Rosca- Miracle) stepped forward to write the comic itself.The comic was drawn by a professional graphic designer. Appealing to the YA librarians just made sense. The next big step was finding a way to launch. Partnering with Diamond Comics for their Free Comic Book Day gave us a national event to join AND gave our libraries an added incentive to join up. Sure enough the new strategies worked... we have over 200 libraries signed up. Those libraries close to a comic book store are partnering with them and will hopefully create some great synergies. Those that don't have a comic book store nearby will be getting free comics from Diamond. Everyone gets the Super Librarian comics."
So, come on into your local library today and see what's happening--that's what I am going to do in an hour. Check out the graphic novel section and if you are in NJ, get a free Super Librarian comic book. Invite a tween, teen, or an interested adult to go with you. Then you have my permission to go see Spider-Man 3!

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Slides from NJLA Spring Conference

Bob Keith and I gave a new version of our Fantastic Freebies presentation on April 24th at the NJLA Spring Conference. It was our first attempt to cover 15 Freebies in fifty minutes -- we usually do this as a 90 minute or 2 hour presentation. Due to schedules, Bob and I did not have time for a complete run through before going live -- a little nerve wracking. We incorporated a lot more screen shots than we normally do and limited the number of live demos and the presentation came in at 47 minutes, so we even had 3 minutes for questions at the end.

As promised to the participants, the slides are now archived on SlideShare and also being posted here for easy access:

Since doing this version of Fantastic Freebies we have found several more possibilities that we will use the next time around to keep it fresh, current and relevant.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

CIL2007 Photos Finally on Flickr

Life has been in overdrive lately and I have good intentions of going back to edit the post with my CIL slides (maybe tomorrow is what I keep saying, so don't hold your breath). My big accomplishment for the day is that it took me less than a month to find time to download and upload my CIL photos and organize them in a set on my flickr account. I took a whole lot less pictures than I normally do at conferences -- I was too busy learning and having fun (which is a good thing). Thanks for the memories everyone, I had a blast.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

WJ's Technology Competencies for Public Access Computing

WebJunction recently published a very thorough and detailed set of technology competencies that will be useful to libraries of all types and sizes. I have been meaning to post about this for a few weeks, but conferences and a bit of vacation time got in the way.

This is a project that I and several others have been working on with WebJunction for a few years and it is so wonderful to see it finally published and available for free download!

Congratulations to Betha Gutsche for her ability to see this project through to completion after many changes, debates, iterations and struggles. The final layout is extremely easy to read and hopefully this document will be the jumping point for many libraries to start assessing the skill levels of the staff who work with the public and need to assist patrons with computers (which should be just about everybody who works at a public desk).

On a side note, my involvement on this project was also my introduction to using a wiki for a collaborative project. The work of the original "MPAC Technology Competencies Expert Group" was done primarily through a wiki that was hosted at WebJunction. We had occasional conference calls, but most of the editing of the first drafts of this was done via the wiki and also on a discussion forum.

As I was writing this post I got curious as I was unsure about how long this project has been brewing at WJ , so I just double-checked our super-secret forum for this project and it was November 2005 that we began the discussions... wow, nearly 18 months in the making, but oh so worth the wait! Download the complete Technology Competencies for Public Access Computing in PDF and start assessing!

Speaking of technology competencies, I am still patiently awaiting the arrival of Sarah Houghton-Jan's recently published Library Technology Report, Technology Competencies and Training for Libraries -- I think it will be the perfect companion to the work done by WJ.

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