End Thoughts

23 things and it only took me eight months. I ran into a fellow librarian who just completed 32 things for Dan Greene’s workshop this summer. She buckled down and managed to gun through in the three weeks allotted for the course. Wow!

As I suspected before we began, some of the 23 things were really easy. YouTube is instantly rewarding, for example. If I hadn’t used it so much, I would not understand some basic facts about the upcoming generation and their enjoyment of the visual image. Thanks to the search suggestions Mara posted, I could also see that plenty of people I don’t know from my town are also posting. I understand a little more clearly that there is a whole world of connections and creativity that was previously invisible to me. As a librarian who grew up in the second half of the 20th century, I am far more aware of the published word and the physical world. Thanks to the slow introduction of the 23 things, I see a much larger more complicated world around me.

One challenge I see ahead is keeping up with new technology, which appears to be accelerating. I’ve started looking at the New York Times technology page regularly– and I know I’ll need to keep checking in with people like Linda Braun. Just as the World Wide Web was a major shift in libraries, social networking is equally cataclysmic.

Goal for the year ahead: try to use what I know about WordPress to help libraries build easy websites. Get more comfortable with the digital camera I have so I can become more image savvy. As a DOL consultant, I’m always suggesting people go look at other libraries. I COULD be taking those pictures of quality signs, good lighting, merchandising, etc. and posting them somewhere easy for librarians to see.

The other big goal I want to work on is figuring out how to get the social part going– or how to contribute to wikis, blogs, and apps that are already up and running, rather than thinking I need to create something.

I love online learning for its convenience. Though it’s taken me forever to work through all 23 things, I’m much more comfortable now. I’d hate to give up the experience of meeting face to face with people, but I’m certainly willing to do both.

Last thought: a big hurray for Mara who made this happen with a Vermont brand. Nice not being lost in some huge group of other librarians– and plenty of fun trying to figure out whether I knew anyone else blogging!

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Podcasts

In January I bought my first mp3 player, encouraged by a fellow librarian who whipped hers out and walked me through how it worked. My kids both have iPods, but I wanted something more generic. I wanted to be able to use Listen Up! Vermont— which was an iPod issue then though it isn’t now. Suddenly the world of podcasts was open– and after the usual struggles, I was able to listen to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me whenever I wanted.

Follow-up story to the Listen Up! Vermont piece: I was chatting with a trustee before launching into the board orientation, my assignment that night, and it turned out that he was the only one who knew about Listen Up or mp3 players. So I pulled my techie toy out, and we passed it around the table and talked new technology for twenty minutes before we moved on to the usual. Maybe we need a 23 things for library trustees?

As a booktalker, I’m also interested in podcasts. I love the podcast link at the Springfield Town Library, which offers another way into books for the kid who likes audio. Jim Dale and his audio versions of the J.K. Rowling/ Harry Potter books has done us a huge favor. What a wonderful return to the joys of listening to a great story! Sorry– lost the podcast thread there for a moment. Although that reminds me about the Muggle podcasts my daughter enjoys– I should get that link….

LibVibe and Uncontrolled Vocabulary are new sites to me, and I’m not sure whether I want to subscribe regularly. My podcast listening is still more in the nature of the support system for a long drive– and the work commute is my chance to catch up with the radio, rather than listen to library updates. I have been on the SirsiDynix site before– since they have hosted Pat Wagner of Pattern Research, Inc. Listen to one of her podcasts if you need to be convinced of her wisdom– and don’t forget to sign up for her Vermont leadership workshop this fall.

I’m betting that we see more and more applications for visually challenged library users– and I’m thrilled that Teresa Faust in Vermont’s Special Services Unit is so quick to publicize services for these listeners. I tried one and was pleased with the technology, but a little disappointed with the choices of books available. The usual challenge with a new market, I guess– publishers and their authors making decisions on how to move forward and which technologies are worth investing in.

Still to do:

1. get better organized with a feed reader. I liked the looks of Juice, but couldn’t make it load where I am right now. I’ve been using the sync function on Windows Media Player, and fussing with how some podcasts automatically start QuickTime or other software. The computer I’m on is used by a number of listeners, and I expect they’ve set up some different paths.

2. download a book from Listen Up!

YouTube

YouTube was the easiest of the new web 2.0 features for me to try out– and to spend time wandering. When the Nelinet crew brought their show to Vermont, I saw “Let’s Go,”– and it seems like that same week, someone sent me the Montpelier boys singing their rap, 802. And NPR alerted me to “The Evolution of Dance,” and the New York Times sent me over to YouTube to watch early movie clips when a star died.

Web video is clearly of the moment. Mara’s review of the history shows just how fast this phenomenon has happened. I’m not quite ready to buy the Flip, the tiny video camera that takes five minute clips– but I know it would be a huge hit if it turned up in Christmas stockings this December.

An old friend described to me her office IT person coming in and removing all the sound speakers to the office computers, and I thought WHOA. Those are a part of my life, and it’s legit– that’s how I heard the new ALA National Library Week clips. That’s where I watched the library drill teams perform. That’s the web conferencing, the webinars, the easy way to hear speakers and see their presentations even if I didn’t make it to New Jersey, New Mexico, or New York. The webinars, etcetera, are not on YouTube– it’s just that YouTube is a really easy way to get hooked up with the current visual world. Guess I got sidetracked there for a minute.

For this assignment I reviewed all the innovative library tools and thought about how many VT libraries posted to I love my library, the Gale contest. They could create a virtual tool for the library website too– or a contest. (Too bad TV and YouTube have given us such high standards– I thought the some of the contest entries were SO terrible!) While I was on YouTube watching the catalog/PC & Mac parody, I realized I didn’t remember the original PC and Mac ads. And, of course, they were on YouTube also.

Looking Back

How embarrassing…. it’s been so long I’ve forgotten my user name for my blog. And what about my own name? No, that’s OK– it’s still Amy Howlett.

Listening to librarians at the Collection Development workshop in Killington renewed my energy for completing the 23 things. Now that’s Real Social Networking! We wanted to make sure they knew about RSS feeds, about reading book reviewer blogs, about saving links with delicious– and so we found ourselves talking about Vermont’s 23 Things. For anyone who’s still finding it hard to go after this material: find a good teacher. Linda Braun showed me so much in one brief day– so many connections, ideas, uses for the new web tools.

So how did I stop working on the 23 things? Somehow that was the easiest thing to lose when I got busy this summer. Looking at the new blogs, I want to offer support for people who are bogged down in making those first posts. If we meet, if you know me– please ask me for help! (I know– it’s not help you need– it’s Time. Can’t do much about that!) If you’re in a larger library, or a supportive county group– bring up the topic, and find a partner you can talk with. Most of us are social creatures, and getting personal support might be more motivating than posting on a blog.

So here’s a post on realizing how valuable the Things have been, and on thing 20 as well– looking at the Web 2.0 Awards. Should I be surprised? Many of the winners and runners up are ideas I’ve explored thanks to 23 Things. I was surprised that Lulu aced out LibraryThing in the books category– so I explored Lulu. This looks like a great site for self-publishing. I’m not about to publish anything bigger than a blog, but I do see the retirement community loving this activity. It’s mostly memoir that I’ve been aware of– stories of street games after the war, recollections of the beginning career years and early family. Many of my relatives have taken to this– in one case spurred on by competition with an old boyfriend. Hey, if he could write his memoir, I could do twice as well! Wouldn’t this be a nice site to mention at one of those adult programs on getting your recollections on paper?

Lulu has easy introductory materials, discussion groups on different topics, and click and drag instructions for photos and styles. I didn’t load anything, I admit– but I’d feel very comfortable showing this to someone when they came to the library looking for memoir titles.

I also spent some time on Yelp, a site that aggregates travel information by city. I’m thinking about a trip to New York and was able to look at hotels and public transport for Manhattan and its neighborhoods. A friendlier way to look at information through social posts. Hotels and travel are linked together, which was sometimes helpful– transport links right next to hotels.

Mostly I noticed how many things I’ve dipped into are in the top sites– twitter, delicious, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and wikis. Yes, my life has certainly changed in the last twelve months, thanks to web 2.0!

Shared docs

Thanks to Amy Grasmick and the VLA Personnel Committee, I’ve actually worked on a doc collaboratively, via Writeboard. Looking at changes other committee members had made was often a timesaver (we didn’t have to correct that glaring typo, someone else had done it) and offered a good substitute for getting together to laboriously work out changes.

I wonder if we’re coming to a time when there will be enough apps on the web to obviate the need for real software on the computer. While the work environment supplies word processing, database management, and presentation tools, I’m not that eager to go out and work with them on the web. And the exception would be: those collaborative projects.

Come to think of it, there is one other case. I choose not to travel with a computer. I could see using the web as a place to cache or create materials while I’m traveling.

Adding entries to a wiki

Fun assignment– and Wetpaint was extremely easy to use. PBwiki is the site that I’d heard of before, but if I were starting one up it’s Wetpaint I’d try first. Sad truth: how things look is important to me. The toolbar with easy inserts made the process seem pretty easy.

I added a restaurant to the PBwiki site, and books to Wetpaint and Mediawiki.

Nope, not ready to start my own at this point…

Wikis

I have been thinking about wikis for more than a year, particularly when I was playing with how to present a publication for Vermont libraries, the Good Ideas. Should it be a wiki, maybe with editing privileges for a few people or perhaps open to the world; or would it be better as a blog? I’m still leaning towards the blog– particularly now that I’ve become a little more comfortable with editing and presentation, thanks to 23 things.

When a library asked me for a ” new ideas in collection development,” the Princeton Library bookwiki was one of the ideas we discussed. Still looks like a great model to me, if we’re in a community where folks enjoy having a web presence. Meredith Farkas’s library successes wiki is an obvious way for connected librarians to build useful content– and I see that many subjects are fully populated. Nancy Pearl’s BookLust wiki seems like a natural link for book clubs.

Colbert’s story on wikis does point up the down side of using the world to post ideas. And certainly many academic institutions have sent the message out to students, don’t ever cite a wiki. On the other hand, I remember how amazed Grafton seniors were when they used Wikipedia to look up town information. It certainly says something about people who are interested in town history, when the entry is long and detailed.

Wikipedia has helped me with background information on anything technology– Digg It, Delicious, or acronyms, for example. I saw a new term in the Library Journal automation roundup– so obvious to the author that he hadn’t spelled it out. Thanks to Wikipedia, I get the context now.

Del.icio.us and Simpy, Part 2

Otis Gospodnetic called me on the my remark that Delicious searching works better than Simpy searching– so I went back and checked. The difference I perceived initially isn’t there. Both sites offer a vanilla search box that retrieves whatever the users have saved.

I feel a little creeped out having been spotted so quickly by Gospodnetic, who manages Simpy. But that’s the web environment too.

Library 2.0 Perspectives

I like the word perspective used in the context of Library 2.0. It reminds me that I have a perspective, one that was shaped by the MLS years ago and by 30 years work as a librarian. Rick Anderson’s remarks resonate with a virtual presentation I heard from the MidAtlantic Library Futures Conference. Check out the audio presentation and PowerPoint given by futurist Joan Frye Williams.

Information customers, who are also library customers, aren’t as picky as librarians about what they find for sources. We’re still saying “make sure that’s a reputable document”– the customers are happy to find a blog/ story/ user group and go with that for the answer.

Two points Rick Anderson made:

1. Put library services and content where the customer goes, which is now on the web. Integrate them into the customer’s “daily patterns.” Quite a challenge for Vermont’s places filled with books!

2. Make sure library services are usable without training. Make them “user-centric.”

Both of these points make more sense in Anderson’s academic environment than they do in mine. The public library environment I know includes many tuned in, blog-reading, Google-using customers– but it also includes my young hairdresser who knows e-mail but not much else on the web. And how about the seniors, the largest demographic in New England? Eager to learn– but taken as a group, not yet on the web.

I’m paying attention, I’m recognizing how fast change comes, but I’m not convinced we should jettison the habits of the past and switch our attention to IM now. Unless (thanks, Michael Stephens) our customers are truly demanding that we do so.

The Blogosphere

I had a good time in the Blogosphere, by which I mean Technorati. Checked out Vermont, National Library Week, Jessamyn West, my town, and of course my consuming interest, Middlebury Quidditch. Turns out there are lots of people around using blogs to comment on the world.

The take-away for me is probably another way to identify up and coming topics. Will I use Technorati regularly? No, probably not– but I might jump on to check out a Vermont story and see whether it made headlines in the blogosphere. My preference is still to look at a few blogs that I’ve found keep tabs on what is new– rather than looking at the tool that counts what is hot.

Claiming my blog turned out to be pretty straightforward. I wasn’t tempted by the Watchlist (well, not on this visit anyway), but I did enjoy another feature of Technorati: Today in Photos. Why did I see so many photos related to video games, iPods or i-commercials, and superheroes? Looks like a youth-driven culture to me.

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