Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Serendipitous Stumble: Social Computing Magazine

I was just surfing around looking for information on several topics for a variety of reasons when I came across Social Computing Magazine and had to share my serendipitous find.

Actually, I did not find the site directly but rather the article Wikis, Collective Intelligence and Libraries written by Laura B. Cohen. The article challenges academic librarians to create more subject-based wikis and to collaborate with students in order to take advantage of the collective intelligence of students and to keep their sites current. I think that public libraries should also be trying to harness the collective intelligence of their community via the use of wikis and this article gave me some great food for thought for a future post on this topic.

It is hard to tell how long the "magazine" has been around -- I would say no more than two months given the dates of the articles in their online archives and the fact that some of the topics have yet to be written about. The articles and topics on the site look promising, but when I went to the message boards it seems as if they are just getting going with them.

While I was exploring, I read the article on The Blogger's Code of Conduct and bookmarked it separately for future reference and use in blogging classes ... oh, and though it took some doing, I finally discovered the crucial information I was wanting to know -- who is the person/people behind this venture. I finally found it at the bottom of the article Is 'Social Computing" a Breakthrough -- or an Oxymoron?

Jeremy Geelan is Founder, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of Social Computing Magazine. He blogs at The New Web Blog and is Executive Director of The Social Computing Foundation.

It will be interesting to keep tabs on this in the months to come.

Edited to add:

Jeremy Geelan emailed me today to thank me for the positive review (and it is a positive review, I found the content useful and the overall site design easy to navigate). My one complaint about not easily finding the information about who was behind the site was a lot more visible than I originally thought -- I will blame it on the fact that I was posting late on a Sunday night after spending the day in the garden and chasing after my toddler ;-)

In any event, here is some text from the email Jeremy sent that will help clear up the issue:

... As to prime movers, there is one other link on the SCM main page that would have helped you, at the bottom left: . We probably need to move that up above the fold, but we wanted content to come first, and personalities onl a distant second.

Between them, these guys are some of the most forward-thinking, savvy minds involved anywhere in and on the Web today. I am just the (lucky) conductor... they each play their instruments far better than I ever shall!

Thanks for the good thoughts,...and don't forget, either, that SCM is a participatory site, so the more folks become involved the merrier:

I for one plan to become involved and encourage others in the biblioblogosphere to do the same and give a librarian voice to this new venture.

Thanks for emailing me Jeremy!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

5 Things I learned @ Conference

5 Things I learned @ Conference
  • Helene Blowers is sooooooooooooooooooooooo cool!
  • Running the NJLA Podcasting Station w/IT was even more fun this time around!
  • If you're going to ask a speaker to come to said NJLA Podcasting Station, it's best to be prepared, or they might just walk away!
  • If you go to a luncheon at Ocean Place, don't order the vegetarian meal (or so I heard).
  • Pete is a snappy dresser!


If you went to conference and want to share "5 Things" on your blog then, "Tag, you're It!"

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Conference Swag!

Hello! The 'gardeners are just back from the NJLA Conference, and what a wonderful conference it was!!! (And some of us are off to another conference - The Mid-Atlantic Library FUTURES Conference, May 7th and 8th at The Borgata in AC!)

I don't know about anyone else, but I sure have a lot of stuff, or swag, from it! Plenty of free pens, notepads, lanyards (even flip flops - really!) abounded in the exhibit hall from the vendors.

And, of course, t-shirts!

Well, if you have too many t-shirts, here's a fantastic thing to do with them! My friend Beth Cackowski (go NJLA IT Section!) reminded me about a book called Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt, by Megan Nicolay.

I had seen this author on one of the morning shows once - Martha Stewart I think actually!

Check out this book and, voila! there you have it - something to do with all those free conference t-shirts!

  • Make it into a skirt!

  • A bikini!

  • Turn a regular t-shirt into a tank or tube top!

  • A handbag!

  • iPod cozy!

  • Leg warmers!

  • and more............. (yes these are all real patterns in the book)!

I'm so glad Beth reminded me of that and I am passing the tip along to you! If you actually DO turn any of your conference t-shirts (or any other t-shirts) into something else, let us know! Beth was wise enough to choose t-shirts in larger sizes so she would have ultimate playing-around room with them!

However, I myself will not be taking scissors to my beautiful purple SUPER LIBRARIAN shirt!

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Computers in Libraries 2007 -- Slides and Comments

While at Computers in Libraries this year I gave two CyberTours and one presentation. This is just a quick post that will be edited very soon with more details. I just want to get the slides up here before speaking at the NJLA conference tomorrow. I am demonstrating SlideShare, a new addition to our Fantastic Freebies portfolio -- one I learned about at CIL07!

Stay tuned for more... here are the slides:


Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Fun!

This really has nothing to do with libraries, but I found it amusing... and it is interactive between an agency and the public, which is social and so sort of related to my interests in social software and technology and libraries.... and, anyway, it's Friday, so... check this out:

You can vote on which Star Wars character will have his/her/their/its own sheet of stamps! You can vote once a day and you can vote for different characters each time. I'm not a big Star Wars fan even, but I have been having fun voting and I'm leaning toward Yoda myself!

Apparently, the USPS hasn't been too keen on getting the public's input in the past - according to the site, this is only the second time in history that fans will make the decision about which stamp will be issued.

The choice is in your hands. Time is running out.

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I'm off to see the conference...

It's that time of year: The NJLA Conference!

The conference is one of my very favorite things! Last year was the first year that I found myself "behind the scenes" and I had the best time! I experienced the conference in a completely different way and got just as much, though different, things out of it! I had attended a few years prior to that strictly as an "attendee," but last year, due to my involvement on the NJLA Information Technologies Section, and the NJLA Member Services Committee, I found myself much more involved.

I spent a lot of time welcoming people at the Hospitality Table - boy, that was fun! And a lot of time at the Podcasting Station, which was also fun and very exciting!

I hope you'll stop by either one of those places, or both, if you're coming to conference....

I'll also be blogging the conference here for NJLA (really, I WILL! Which I intend to use to get back into blogging and stop being so lame!) so check it out! Really!

I hope to get to at least SOME of the programs - I am especially excited about:

  • Of course, the IT and YA Programs, particularly Cool Tools and Just Push Play! with Steve Garwood; Let's Mambo at the Library, with Robert P. Rynkiewicz; and Harness the power of Social Software @ Your Library, with Liz Burns and Sophie Brookover!
  • Our own Janie L. Hermann will be presenting 15 Fantastic Freebies in 50 Minutes, which I'm sure is going to be packed!
  • And, especially the Helen Blowers presentations, Core Competencies, Core Values in the Era of Library 2.0 and Discovering Library 2.0 (Can you tell I'm a little bit tech-oriented!?)!

Gosh, I hope I can get to everything! That is usually the only criticism I hear and feel about the conference - too many good programs competing against each other in the same time slots!

One more invite: Lynn Schott and I will be hosting "Lunch Buddies" again at the conference - if you want people to eat lunch with, we'll be gathering people at the Hospitality Table - so come see us!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cool Collaboration Concepts--PBwiki & YackPack, and a Tumblr Example

How about engaging your students or patrons in real time by putting a YackPack Walkie-Talkie Widget on your library home page, your Facebook page, your online syllabus, your course Blogger blog, or your educational PBwiki?

This fun widget allows you to very easily put voice on any type of Web page, with no configuration or registration to do, no software to download, no money to spend—just one “push-to-talk” button widget embedded on your site and you have a web walkie-talkie for live voice chat from any Web page.

It is a very simple and easy way to connect local and remote individuals or groups together to collaborate or coordinate on just about anything, including students conducting or sharing research with a teacher, or students or patrons discussing database research tips or verifying APA citations with a librarian.

And YackPack has teamed up with another free resource provider, PBwiki, bringing voice chat/functionality to any of your PBwiki pages in less than a minute. CNET wrote a short, entertaining article on the Walkie-Talkie Widget and the PBwiki blog introduces the widget.

Janie Hermann, blogging from the Computers in Libraries 2007 Conference, mentioned Tumblr (and some other very interesting tools) in her "CIL 2007 Link Dump" post a few hours ago on Library Garden. I agree that it is something special for us to explore. If you go to our (Renee and Robert Lackie) Tumblr tumblelog (R&R Tumblr-ama), we posted a short video about the walkie-talkie widget on PBwiki pages. I think you will love PBwiki, the YackPack widget, and Tumblr!

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CIL 2007 LInk Dump

Computers in Libraries is as awesome as always this year. Record attendance means standing room only at lot of sessions, hence my lack of live blogging (not to mention the rather sporadic wireless connection in certain rooms). Also, since I am giving 2 cybertours and a presentation, I need some down time.

Nonetheless, over the last few days I have jotted down lots of little scribbled notes, and as I look them over they are mostly the names of sites, apps and gadgets to play with later. Many of the sites I have heard about before and haven't yet had time to explore, but there are also many that are new to me. I am posting all the links to everything (with my commentary). This is the list of what I plan to investigate more fully upon my return to reality and I need them here so that I don't forget -- and so that you can explore too.

In no particular order and from the multiple presentations over the last few days I now present "CIL 2007 Links Dump":

Open Clip Art Library (one can never have too many options for finding public domain clip art)

Joomla! (Content Management)

MyBlogLog (get detailed stats about your blog)

Free Digital Photos (might be a good example for the Fantastic Freebies repertoire)

Podcast Pickle (too much fun to say ... thanks Davc!)

Slideshare ( a trainer's delight) and Picnik (these will be the basis for a new class at PPL)
(a little spooky in the level of detail, but oh so cool)

(Open Source Federated Searching -- see it in action at SFU)

tumblr (John LeMasney gave a demo at my last Tech Talk... gotta take a serious look)

(I always want to stay current... this looks promising)

Podzinger (several mentions, worth investigating)

(been on my radar for a long time, must play with it soon)

Okay... I have more, but I need to get some sleep as I am doing a cybertour tomorrow morning and presenting in the afternoon. I will edit this post with more links later.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

C U @ CIL07

My bags are packed and I am ready to head off in the "Nasy Nor'Easter" as the local weather station is calling the dreadful weather. It is going to be a long drive in the rain and wind, but I am so excited about the next 3 days that it does not matter.

My schedule is on the wiki (more or less what I expect to do) and I am staying at the Holiday Inn across from the Hyatt due to a mix-up with my reservation.

I am giving two cybertours and then Bob and I will have the honor of closing down the conference by speaking in the last slot on Wednesday. I am really excited about our session because we get to share it with two really cool presenters from PLCMC.

Safe travels to all who will be on the road or in the air to get to Crystal City!


Friday, April 13, 2007

God bless you Mr. Vonnegut

Listen: "Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward."

Listen: "A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved."

Thanks Mr. Vonnegut. Thanks for giving me, "If this isn't nice, what is." and farting/tap-dancing aliens and ice-nine and Bokononism and grandfalloons. Thanks for karasses and duprasses and tralfalmadorians. Thanks for Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover. Thanks for Billy Pilgrim. Thanks for Eliot Rosewater and Wanda June. Thanks for your honesty. Thanks for your humor. Thanks for your humanity.

Busy, busy, busy...
So it goes...


Audiobooks, Quanity vs. Quality

When I changed my job, one of the reasons I didn't mind adding 45 minutes to my commute was because I enjoy listening to audiobooks. Since I don't have time to read at work (an all too common misconception about librarians) and somewhat limited time at home, audiobooks are a great way for me to keep up with some of the more popular titles I may not get around to otherwise. And because I get about an hour and a half of listening a day, I tend to run through our library's audiobook collection rather quickly.

It seems I am not the only one either. Libraries are putting more of their funds into audiobooks while sites like ListenNJ have really begun to improve their selections as well.

But are the recording companies pushing these audiobooks out a little faster than they can handle them?

My experience with audiobooks produced in the last six months has been somewhat disappointing. Although the casting has usually been wonderful, I find myself having to adjust the volume up in order to hear everything or down so as not to blow my speakers out. I seem to have this problem with both my car stereo as well as my mp3 player, so I am not particularly inclined to believe it's the devices' fault.

When I asked a couple of my colleagues about this, they have also noticed this offset between the quality of the voice and the production.

Are recording companies spending so much on their voice actors now that they have to compromise the amount of money they can dedicate to refining the quality of the sound? Have the companies found that certain voices will make people more likely to listen and spend for an audiobook?

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Plogging for Poetry Month!

Helene Blowers over at Library Bytes posted some "Podcast Thoughts" last week where she made the case for libraries to podcast about current events, topics and culture. Helene's thoughts mirror mine precisely. In fact, it is something that I have been thinking about for several months and it finally came to fruition on April 2nd with the official launch of the PPL Poetry Podcast Blog for National Poetry Month.

I wanted to call it the "PPL Poetry Plog" since it is a series of podcasts on a blog, but I thought that might be too confusing (and too much alliteration). I then wanted to call it Poetcast, but the folks at beat me to it. Not thrilled with the final name (last minute decision, just had to call it something), but I am thrilled with the results and how many readers we have had during the first 10 days. Our stats, in fact, are exceeding my expectations by leaps and bounds (over 225 viewers on most days and over to 2,000 views thus far). I know the statistics will get skewed by posting here, so I held off. I wanted to see how far we could take this with only local exposure and word of mouth. Others have found us already, such as the Book Blog at and that has thrilled me.

We have recorded 26 poets so far and hope to do a few more before the end of the month. The poets all come from the greater Princeton area and each poet brings a unique voice and perspective to the project. For instance, Paul Muldoon, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003, did a beautiful reading of a pantoum for us and Enriqueta Carrington's poem was read by 2 poets in 2 languages while Judith McNally contributed a unique "microlouge". We have many more surprises in store for the rest of the month, including some wonderful poetry by a high school student.

This has been a real team project and with me every step of the way has been Evan Klimpl. Evan is one of our Tech Aides at PPL and I simply must give credit where credit is due. I may have had the original concept and coordinated the project, but it is Evan who responsible for doing 90% of the poetry recordings, cleaning up the files to make them sound professional, uploading the files, preparing many of the posts and anything else that I have requested. I can not thank Evan enough for embracing this project with the such enthusiasm and dedication. Also assisting with this project and deserving thanks are Bob Keith and Romina Gutierrez from PPL. And last, but certainly not least, in the early stages of this project my good friend John LeMasney gave me some invaluable advice about how we could do this project for free (which was one of my goals besides promoting poetry).

This is an idea that I hope other libraries will steal, because it is a project that can be done without having to make any investments -- except perhaps a decent microphone for recording ($35-50 maximum) if you don't already have one. Here is how we did it (in a nutshell):
  • We used Audacity from to record and edit the .mp3 files
  • The blog was set up at -- this is the free version of wordpress and it works well for a project such as this
  • Our .mp3 files are being hosted at
  • The player that we are using to in the posts comes free with wordpress
  • We took photos while the readings were being recorded to ensure consistency
This has been a terrific way for Princeton Public Library to experiment with how we want to implement podcasting in to our programs. We have lots of ideas and now that we have the process figured out we will hopefully be able to podcast more original content in the near future.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Sincere Hug and Easter Chocolates

Memo to Self
File under: Why I Love being a Public Librarian

I have friends who sincerely question why I choose to work in a public library. They all earn far more than I do with less or equal education. One or two even point out to me on a regular basis that I could earn a better salary with less stress if I looked elsewhere for a job.

Well. this post is dedicated to all those who think I should desert public librarianship for greener pastures. In the last week I have had not 1, not 2 but 3 encounters that remind me why I love what I do and will continue to do it for the foreseeable future:

1. After a poetry reading event a young woman approached me and introduced herself. I recognized that she had been at several program lately, but did not yet know her name. She told me that she had recently moved to the area for a job and had been feeling "lost" without having any friends or family nearby. She went on to say that once she discovered our library she felt like she had found a sense of community as she is an aspiring writer and poet. I shared with her that I understood perfectly, having moved all on my own to NJ 8 years ago and leaving friends and family far away as well. She gave me a shy smile and then, quite spontaneously and very sincerely, she gave me a huge hug and thanked me for organizing events that gave her a feeling of "place and being among friends". It was probably one of the best moments I have had in quite some time.

2. An older woman took my "Sharing Photos Online" class a few months back. She came in this week because she was so excited and just had to share with me the digital photo albums she made for her daughter's wedding. She had done the entire album on Snapfish and ordered 2 copies -- one for her and one for her daughter. Each one was slightly different and personalized with captions and a variety of layouts. It was obviously a labor of love and she was so thrilled with the final product. I felt very proud that she had learned so much and so quickly as when she first came to class she did not even know how to get the photos from her brand new digital camera on to the hard drive. She told me she is now working on a book with their vacation photos and has found a new hobby thanks to the library. She signed up to take "Fun with Flickr" next week before she left.

3. I came to work yesterday to find a lovely box of Easter chocolates from Thomas Sweet with a note thanking me for finding an article. I had done a search earlier that week that was rather time-consuming as the information given to me was vague at best, but the man requesting the article told me that it was of great sentimental importance and he really wanted a copy of the article. I was thrilled when I found it and printed it out for him, leaving message on his machine that he could pick it up. He left the chocolates with a lovely note when he picked up the article. Totally not necessary, I was just doing my job, but a wonderful gesture nonetheless.

It is anecdotes like these and many others that I relay to my friends when the quiz me on my job choice. Seriously, how many jobs are there in this world where you can get gratitude, hugs and chocolates all in one week?

I am writing this post so that I can read it on those days that I am having a bad day at work and so that I can always remember why it is that I choose to be a public librarian. I would be interested in seeing other anecdotes in the comments about those wonderful moments that you experience because you are a librarian -- I will bet there are a lot when we all stop to think about how we impact the lives of those we serve daily.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Customer Loyalty? It don't enter into it.

Maria Palma over at "Customers are Always" recently posed the question, "What would make you stay loyal to a supermarket?" The question struck me as a bit odd, and my first reaction was to think, "Loyalty? It don't enter into it."

I regularly grocery shop at Wegmans, Superfresh, Target, and Costco, and where I lay my green depends on a number of factors. Each store offers me something different.

I get better service at Wegmans, but it's a longer drive. I love the self-service at Superfresh, and the fact that it's close to my home. Also, they are one of only a handful of stores that sell Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, like, only the most perfect food on the planet. I love the prices at Target and Costco, as well as the opportunity to browse lots of non-grocery items and spend more money on stuff I don't need, but lordy how I want it! Why just last week I went into Target to get a box of cereal and a birthday card and wound up with a new IPOD shuffle. Bliss!

But loyalty? I'm "loyal" to these establishments to the extent that they meet my needs, and not one whit more. Which is to say I'm not at all loyal. I want them, quite simply, to meet my needs. Just give me some combination of:
  • what I want
  • when I want it
  • where I want it
  • how I want it
  • at a cost I find acceptable (Cost includes price, but is not limited to it.)
Making no overt attempt to tie this post to library services. Arf!

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

OCLC WorldCat = GoogleLibrary? Wow, It's Official--and Lots of Changes are Coming!

We all read about OCLC and the Research Libraries Group (RLG) joining forces, very recently under “OCLC Programs and Research,” and some saw that coming—but I don’t know about this! I just read several notices within the blogosphere about Google throwing its hat into the ring, because they have just acquired OCLC and all of its holdings, although I see nothing about this on any of their respective official sites on this, yet. Very, very interesting…. Check out Karen’s, Andrew’s, and Jenny’s take on this very new development. It is April Fools' Day, though. Hmmmm....

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