Friday, June 29, 2007

Tootling one's own horn

(this has been sitting in drafts for 3 weeks.)

File under, "Tootling one's own horn" In this case mine. Hey look everyone, I've learned to talk good!

Yes, I am now an official Toastmasters Competent Communicator (aka CTM).

Toot! Toot!

Yes, posts about ALA coming soon (for now here are the pix.) And more on public speaking, doing improv, library futures.


DIY Book Scanner

A colleague sent me a link today that is too good not to share -- instructions on how to build your own book scanner using Lego and a variety of other items that most geeks will have on hand or be able to get easily.

Dick Eastman found the same instructions after his return from the ALA conference earlier this week where he had watched the Kirtas APT BookScan 2400 in action, but suffered sticker shock from the $120,000 price tag.

If anyone else in libraryland gets inspired and builds their own scanner from Lego and kite string, be sure to let me know and post the pictures on flickr!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We ARE Change Agents!

Man, this is cool!
Helene Blowers got it at the ALA conference!

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SRP 2007!

If you happen to feel jealous of those kids doing summer reading programs (and/or maybe jealous of their parents and/or children's librarians), here's your chance to get involved with some summer reading!

Some folks are doing an online Summer Reading Program! It's a blog, and there is a MySpace and a facebook for it - you can join and post your goals for summer reading, your books and your reviews. It's very casual and I think it looks like fun.... If you are already reading and posting books/reviews, etc., you can just keep posting there and you'll be linked on the SRP blog.... or you can send reviews to the blog.

Have you/could you consider setting up something like this for your patrons!? It's pretty darn simple, quick and easy (AND FREE!) to do and requires really very little work from YOU!

Think about it ....

I have joined as libraryamy (my gmail id) and created the facebook group. See the blog for blogger and MySpace info.

Happy reading!

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Fun: Mental Floss Quiz of the Week!

I really love this magazine, Mental Floss, that we get here are the library... in fact, it says right on it... "Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix!"

Actually, my director loves it too and so do some others around here so it is quite a trick to actually get your hands on it. I think if I ever have to I will end up subscribing to it...

Anyway, they also have a mailing list and they sent out this Quiz of the Week: Discontinued Ben & Jerry's Flavor or Band I Found on MySpace!?

It's pretty funny and I love the way they have the answers for you after you take it, complete with links to actual bands found on MySpace! ;-)


I only got 5/10 though. My director got 8/10! WOW! How well can YOU do!?

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Multiple Tools = Multiple Work!?

The always smart and thought-provoking Claire over on the PALS Plus 2.0 blog wrote about "living in interesting times," referring to living in these times of great change that are taking place right now and how much fun and frustrating it can be!

Specifically, she talks about how to choose the "right tools" to accomplish things. She wants to announce the PIMP MY BOOKCART contest to PALS Plus libraries and figures that right now, the best place/way to announce it is still using "1.0" methods, i.e., group e-mail. However, PALS Plus will be launching a "Fall Into 2.0" program and perhaps by October, and most likely (hopefully!) by next June's contest, there will be other, multiple ways that she can get the word out and be assured that everyone will see it.

I started thinking about this.... My first reaction is "put it out there in as many ways as possible" because I feel that this philosophy is what sort of underlies a lot of 2.0 stuff - make things accessible in many different ways in case some people access you in those ways. Make it easy and convenient for them to get it, in ways they like and use. In other words, be where they are, put it where they are.

So, that would mean, have it posted on a blog, with an RSS feed, AND send a mass e-mail, AND post it up in flyers for the pre-2.0 and barely-1.0 folk, put it up on facebook, etc., and make a flickr account with pictures, and, and, and ...!?

BUT THAT got me thinking, oh my gosh - is putting stuff out in MULTIPLE forms creating MULTIPLE work for US!? Now, in some cases no. Once you have these things in place they sort of take care of themselves, meaning, if she posts it to the blog, it will have (most likely) an RSS feed and anyone subscribed will see it. Also, if she uses feedblitz and anyone is signed-up for that, they will get the e-mail notification. That still only requires ONE post. One post and many ways to be made aware of it. In fact, RSS takes care of a lot of things - anything you can do that has the feed makes it a one-stop-job. If she did put something on flickr, there's a feed for that too, so now we have TWO places and still only TWO things to do, but resulting in several means of people being "told" about it.

No wonder people make the point that RSS IS 2.0 - it is the backbone of the whole thing!!!!!

The 2.0 forms actually really do and should cut down not only on the time and effort required by those who take advantage of them, but also for the creators.... Hanging up flyers and putting memos in individuals' mailboxes at work - decidedly two pre-2.0 (even pre-1.0?) ways to do things - requries A LOT more time and effort to do than ANY of the 2.0 tools do, even if you choose more than one.

So, sorry, Claire, no answers here, except for my idea (and concern) that things should be put out there in as many ways possible - without overburdening the putter-outer.

And, I agree, eventually the "better" tools will last and the not-so-good or not-so-useful will naturally fall by the wayside. But, I think it will always be "interesting times," and there will always be the next thing coming down the pike . . .

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Support Emergency Legislation to Remove Municipal Libraries from the Levy Cap . . .

Go! Do it! NOW!

Support emergency legislation to remove municipal libraries from the levy cap . . . THERE IS A VOTE TOMORROW!

I just wanted to share the link to look up your legislator - it is EASY! You can look on the right side by alphabetical list, municipality, district, etc...

You get your district and you click on that to see the people and contact info.

I JUST CALLED them - I have always e-mailed in these cases but today I CALLED because I had just been in one of the webinars on WebJunction for the Spanish Language Outreach Program with some people who talked about advocating.

It only took me about 5 minutes!
The people are nice!
They want these calls.

I identified myself as a librarian living and/or working in the district and asked for them to support the emergency legislation to remove municipal libraries from the levy cap. I said there is a vote tomorrow.

They already knew what I was talking about!
They took my name and seemed very interested to hear from me.

You either leave a message or talk to an assistant who takes the information.

REALLY - it took me less than five minute total for me to call three people!


Original message from Pat Tumulty:


We need your assistance right now to contact your NJ State Senators. Not tomorrow. Right now. Please ask your state senator to support emergency legislation which would allow an adjustment to levy cap calculations for local public library funding.When the new municipal cap levy legislation was passed this year, municipal libraries were included as part of the calculation for the levy cap.

This, unfortunately, created an inequity for the 245 communities which support municipal libraries. Communities which support county libraries have library expenditures excluded from the municipal levy because county libraries are funded by a dedicated tax and, therefore, outside the levy cap.

New Jersey League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Library Association and the NJ State Library have been working for a month on what we hoped would be a solution to this issue by adding language to state budget bill. Unfortunately, we were told last Friday, that this solution would not work and that we would need legislation. We must correct this inequity before July 1 because urban communities begin a new budget year on that date and would become subject to the levy cap. All other communities will be impacted with the budgets beginning on Jan. 1, 2008.

The Assembly, under the leadership of Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman, will consider emergency legislation to exempt municipal libraries from the cap legislation TOMORROW- Thursday, June 21.

We have every indication that there is support for this legislation.We are less certain of Senate approval, and we have learned that the Senate will cancel next week’s scheduled meetings and recess for the Summer. Therefore, it is imperative that this legislation pass tomorrow.

We must have this emergency legislation enacted in the Senate before the Legislature goes on summer break. Please contact your State Senator’s legislative office today and tell them you support emergency legislation to remove municipal libraries from the levy cap and that it must be enacted before summer recess.

Pat Tumulty, Executive Director
New Jersey Library Association

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Monday, June 18, 2007

You Don't Need Physical Proximity to Feel Close

I am sitting here at work in tears.

I have just seen and read about Michael's dear dog, Jake. I had been watching his decline through Michael's posts on flickr and knowing that eventually this post would come. Then I read Karen Schneider's perfect post about pets, and unconditional love and social networks, and I just have to share.

We really can be one large community.
I have only met Michael once in person, but I feel that I "know" him somewhat through the Internet - his posts on flickr and his blog, his generousness, intellect and humor that truly come across no matter what medium he uses to communicate. And, especially as a dog lover/owner I certainly could "know" his relationship with his dog, Jake, and feel such pain for him at this time. I wish there was something I could DO. But I am hoping that Michael and his family and his other dog, Charlie, can feel us all around him, even though we are not physically present with them, sharing their sadness and caring so much for them in these ways that we can - posts, emails, instant messages, etc..

The Internet can be an amazing thing. I wish I could tie this all together better somehow, and make some more profound point that I feel is here but just out of reach, but I feel too sad to do it right now. Anyway, Karen really said it best and said it all.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Fun: Your Road Trip Mix Tape

There are songs which help keep highway hypnosis at bay. The energy, the fun, the sing-along potential make them great for those long hours in the car, particularly if you are stuck in the chaos of Friday vacation traffic. Sometimes, in order to keep your sanity, it is important to have a collection of songs that will make the time fun, or at the very least, tolerable.

Here is my top 10 selection, go ahead and add your own.

On the Road Again by Willie Nelson- Mandatory, probably for any mix tape but especially this one.

The Way by Fastball- You wouldn't think a song about packing your bags, leaving the kids behind and all responsibility behind could be so fun. ;)

Mr. E's Beautiful Blues by Eels- It's not the best lyrics that you'll ever hear but it's nearly impossible not to chime in when they sing "God damn right it's a beautiful day!"

Crash by The Primitives- "Here you go, way too fast. Don't look out you're gonna craaaash." Quite possibly the most energetic song to have sha-na-na in the lyrics.

Scar Tissue by the Red Hot Chilipeppers- You need a downtime song on the mix tape... and I gotta go with this one.

Into the Great Wide Open by Tom Petty- Is there are song about bigger possibilities!?

I Wanna Rock 'N' Roll All Night by Kiss- This is the last resort song. If this one can't wake you up, pull over and get some sleep.

Song 2 by Blur- Whoohoo! 'Nuff said

Basket Case by Green Day- "Do you have the time to listen to me whine..." Hey, I've got as long as this trip is gonna take.

Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana- I haven't a clue what Cobain was saying but it doesn't stop me from screaming "Hey... wait!"

Not Attending ALA? Here's an Alternative...

This is posted many places but I want to be sure that no one misses it!

Not able to attend ALA but still want to find out what's going on in cutting edge technology and social software!? Well check out the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase...

From their page:

The Social Software Showcase is an online unconference occurring around and during the time of ALA Annual 2007.
On this wiki, you will find eleven wonderful presentations on cutting edge technology and social software by librarians and leaders in the field. Regardless of where you are in the world, you will have the opportunity to discuss the presentations here in this space.
We will also be having a face to face roundtable discussion with some of our presenters at ALA Annual in Washington D.C. on Saturday, June 23rd, from 1:30-2:30 in the Renaissance Mayflower Cabinet Room. If you are in D.C. please come and join us.
This wiki will be a work in progress as we iron out a few things, including the embedding of the presentations. But we'll be ready and running before ALA! [end]

This is a revolutionary way of presenting information! Please do check it out.

The presenters include the VERY excellent:

Michael Casey - Library Crunch
Michael Porter, aka Library Man! - Library Man blog
Jessamyn West - blog
Karen Schneider - Free Range Librarian
Her post on this.

You can read another excellent post on this for some more information on the Information Wants to Be Free blog here.

The Bigwig Social Software Showcase is here .

Check it out! :-)

Happy Weekend!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007 Karaoke Singers Unite!

To me, Karaoke will always be known as the revolution that brought amateur singers out of their showers and into the limelight.

I’m not saying whether that was a good or bad thing… but local drinking establishments did clean up on it!

Singshot brings the karaoke movement for the glitz and glamour of your local dive-bar and onto the electrified waves of the Internet. No more smoke, no more booze, no more people to appreciate your erm… lovely voice which has yet to bring you fame or fortune. At the very least, perhaps a highlight real on American Idol’s audition episodes.

Singshot is an online community for singers who are looking for feedback from other singers. There are also groups and contests available to any member choosing to participate. The collection itself is not the best but there are literally thousands of songs to choose from and you will be able to find something in your range.

For the fun of it, I joined and tried the recording system. It was okay but could run into some serious lag issues as well; I mean, I know I wasn’t perfect, but I definitely wasn’t a whole measure out either. Once the lag was fixed though, I did post the song and got immediate feedback from people.

Uhhhh, let’s not talk about the feedback.

One of the better features on singshot is the webcam option, which has produced some rather funny vidoes. There really isn’t anything like watching the moment of a person trying to look their coolest and achieve rock-stardom… yet, completely failing to capture it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Fun: #1 Song the Day You were Born

A friend just sent me this fun site: The #1 Song on this Date in History.

It is easy to use and you can have lots of fun looking up what was #1 on the day you were born, the day you got married, or any other occasion.

For me, the #1 song on the day I was born was "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers. I have also looked up the #1 songs for everyone in my family. It is fun! Give it a try!

I think I am going to incorporate this site in to my Introduction to the Internet class (I just happen to be updating it this month). The song lists go back to 1890 so even older adults will be able to find their #1 song and it will be a fun exercise for practicing mouse skills, following links and scrolling.

So, now we can all share -- What was the #1 song on the day you were born? (then we can all have fun guessing what year it was!)


Thursday, June 07, 2007

News from Oregon Virtual Reference Summit 2007 – QandA and Ready Reference from Texting Google Mobile SMS (Beta)

I just recently returned from giving a keynote address on June 1, at the Oregon Virtual Reference Summit 2007. Caleb Tucker-Raymond, Oregon Statewide Digital Reference Services Coordinator, organized this wonderful conference that drew participants from Oregon, Washington, and California, but was mainly designed to bring together librarians who participate in L-net: Oregon Libraries Network. My plenary was called “I Was Kind of Confused b4” Interpersonal Communication Research in Virtual Reference” and I gave a workshop on “Exploring Encounters with Chat Users: Analyzing VR Transcripts.” I am willing to share ppt and handouts to LG readers if you send me an e-mail request. The plenary was videotaped and may be on the open web at some point, I will blog about it if/when this happens.

While at the conference, I attended a fascinating panel on: “What Students Need, What Schools Need.” This program brought together the viewpoints of middle and high school librarians, public librarians, and a delightful young junior high student who spoke about VR from the student perspective. After the panel, I congratulated her on her presentation, poise, and enthusiasm for VR. She mentioned that she had heard me speak in the plenary, but at first had not know what the word “plenary” meant, so she had sent a text to Google. I said: “You did WHAT???” She said: “I sent a text to Google (466453) and I put in define plenary and it gave me the definition.” I had her show me and saw that it also returns the URL where the answer was found on the web.

Some of you may already know about (or use!) this service (which is in Beta testing), but it was news to me! (It was also news to my 16 yr. old daughter, the text maven in our house, which helped me to decide to blog about this). Later one of the helpful L-net participants printed out the Google Mobile info page and I found out that not only are word definitions possible, but also you get info on weather, flight updates, movies, translations, currency conversions, driving directions, QandA and more. Google’s example for using their QandA is: abraham lincoln birthday. If any of you have tried this service out please leave a comment telling me what you asked and how it went!

Here we see Google testing the waters, as some libraries are doing, with text reference services. The latest start up I have heard of SMS for libraries was in Australia as reported on the dig_ref listserv this week by Colin J. Bain, Library Services Manager of Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. Their SMS service just started this past Monday (June 4th) and Colin told me that they have only had 2 queries so far about library opening hours. Since they haven’t done any publicity yet, traffic will surely pick up.

Hmmm, now I am definitely going to have to spring for unlimited text messaging on my cell phone.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Marie's 8 Things

In the interest of being a member of the LG team, here goes my 8 revelations. Warning to all, the below is (almost) totally unrelated to librarianship. Abandon hope all ye who enter here!

1. If you have ever heard me speak, you may be surprised to learn that I had a bad lisp as a kid. My speech therapist advised me to take up public speaking to help overcome the lisp. Now I have a passion for public speaking and have had a career in teaching/librarianship (from Kindergarten through Doctoral courses and every grade level in between) and can’t get enough of either.

2. Following from the above, I admit that the famous YA advocate Mary K. Chelton, of Queens College, has (affectionately I hope!) dubbed me a “great big ham.” It fits.

3. After the lisp removal, I wore braces for 4 years in HS. Yuck! Today kids wear trendy colored braces in JH which are a status symbol of sorts. Not so then, when I endured being called “tin grin,” “can opener mouth,” (and worse unpleasantries that shall remain nameless). I must say, however, that this horrific experience made me a better person, especially later, when I was a school librarian with zero tolerance for vicious name calling or bullying.

4. Acting again on the advice of my speech therapist, I got involved in radio and had my own late night show for 4 years on the College of NJ (then Trenton State College) radio station, WTSR. My air name was “Me” and I played blues and rock n’ roll.

5. At WTSR (still WTSR 91.3 FM to this very day) I recollect that I once had a mad crush on another DJ whose show followed mine. I later found out he was gay (sigh). I should have known better, as his air name was “Peter Pan.” You can’t make this stuff up.

6. I am totally untalented when it comes to athletics, but I've been: an assistant cheerleading coach (to purge my intense dislike of cheerleaders, acquired in HS, see #3 above), a girl’s softball umpire, a scouting assistant to a HS football coach, and a choreographer for a HS production of Oklahoma.

7. I have never had the urge to do the following: ski, sky-dive, skateboard, bungee jump, or surf. But I have parasailed in Acapulco, ridden a motorcycle, refinished loads of antiques, and driven from NJ to Houston to cheer the Rutgers football team to its 1st bowl victory ever in the Texas Bowl last December.

8. I have had drinks with Umberto Eco at Erica Jong’s apartment. Read more about this story from my husband Gary's point of view at his website (note the photo credit for the picture of Gary with Umberto!)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Back to the Future

The follow-up meeting for those who attended the Mid-Atlantic Futures Conference takes place tomorrow morning at the Princeton Public Library. I'm really looking forward to it and I'm really excited about it. No doubt Pete, myself and others will have much to say!

You can finally check out the hand-outs and materials, etc. from the conference here!

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