The Creative Librarian

Archive for October, 2007

Post #3

What can you expect from the world’s most modern library except the world’s most modern guys? Three Dutch librarians are on a tour across the U.S. to experience Library 2.0, American style. Erik, Jaap, and Geert are their names but rather than library employees, they look like rock singers.  

On Saturday, October 20th, we (Internet Fundamentals and Design class), were given the privilege to meet these three innovative gentlemen from Delft public library in the Netherlands. The experience left me slightly speechless as can be seen in the videotaped session of the class playing spin the bottle. Not played in the traditional sense but we were asked to tell what we thought the library of the future would look like.  

As I continue in the graduate program and observe such experiences as the visit from Erik, Jaap, and Geert, I am tempted to say that the library of the future is here. So much of what I am a witness to in class, through blogs, and in viewing library websites is re-shaping my view of libraries.  

In addition, I am pretty excited about my classmates. As I listened to their views of what the library of the future will be like, I could see that each person has a vision that predicts great things for the future. The industry is in for a treat. This reaffirms my theory of the creativity of librarians. 

To see the footage of the tour and videotape of the class follow the link.


Web 2.0 Tool Review

One cool tool for librarians is “Library Thing.” As I prepared to review this Web 2.0 tool, I immediately began to put it to use by categorizing my own books. I would say that I personally own at least a couple of hundred books. This tool is so user friendly that it can be utilized quite easily. To get started, submit a user name and password. No profile is required other than what you want to submit.

It is a free online cataloguing website service and involves no additional software or downloads. It was quite easy for me to jump right in cataloguing my personal collection. I did this to test the product. I was surprised to find how easily the system sought and found my books.

The way Library Thing works is that you enter your book title and the search application explores the Library of Congress, Amazon, and over 80 world libraries. When you find the book, just click on it and it is added to your catalog. You can view your catalog in list view, which gives a detailed chart of all of your books with title, date added, tags, author information and your rating of the books. Or you can view it in cover view where all of your available covers are shown, you click on them and are taken to the information page or to Amazon where you can further review the books.

Library Thing is so much more, though. It gives access to book reviews, other subscribers’ catalogs, and it gives several lists that one might be interested in such as authors, or suggested blogs. Did I say blog? Library Thing is also a social networking site.

There are more features accessible. You can add it to your blog, get it on your cell phone, and invite friends to look at you collection. This site is quite impressive, maybe I am just easily impressed. If you have not already tried it out, do so and let me know what you think. Hey, you may be way ahead on this but I would like to get your opinion anyway.

I can totally see how I would use this to promote a book discussion group, or library program in a branch or academic setting. The creative possibilities are endless. 


Dominican University Library Website Review

In my review of the Dominican University Library Website, several things came to my attention. The general appearance of the website is quite eye appealing. However, beyond that, some portions of this website could stand some improvement.  

I looked at the North Carolina State University library website, and they have some features that I thought would be good to implement. When you click on the contact section, it takes you to a form that allows you to send comments and or errors found directly to the staff. Each responsible individual has a link leading to his or her contact information.

One feature that I especially thought would be helpful to add is the “Ask a librarian” section. This link leads to a page where you can connect to the librarians via email, instant message, or telephone. The Dominican site unfortunately does not lead to a specific person, only a “librarian.” I personally feel more confident that I am going to get help if I know it is from a real person.

The library web page of Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut, Raether Library appears to be quite accessible. The library information is right there on the first page. The search catalog, online resources, and contact information are among the first things that you see which makes perfect sense. On the other hand, on the Dominican library page all of those features can only be accessed by clicking and entering another page.

For most students and faculty using an online library site time may be at a premium. It would behoove the site developer to implement features that would save the user some time.

There seems to be a repetition of information on the pages that have the Library Blog and News and Events. It looks like the Blog page has nothing of interest for one to write about. I would think that there would be room for students and faculty to comment on their received service or the quality of the library. This portion appears to be slightly contrived and not open to general comments.

On the Research Help page, you have to click too many times to get to the help page. I would want to be able to click on one of the phrases, instant message, call, etc. without having to continue onto another page. Again, we want to save the time of the user. In addition, the page that says, “Contact us” seems at first to lead to nowhere except a little blurb about being contacted. It took me a minute figure it out. Why not have everything right under the first page that says, contact us?

As a whole, the library website has too many added links before you can gain access to what you are looking for. Those items should be right there on the first page. I think the Dominican library website is a work in progress. With some improvements and further review it can become a site that is thoroughly user friendly and mirror the efficiency that I see on the Dominican University website.

Post #2

You are all invited!
Each year the Chicago Public Library sponsors a program called Scholars in Residence. This program provides the community of librarians and others the opportunity to look at services, staffing, and culture and find ways of building and improving on those areas. It is always a time where idea sharing can take place in an open and welcoming environment.

What takes place is that the staff and administration of the library select a candidate each year to bring new ideas and enlightenment. In 2005 our instructor, Michael Stephens was one of the presenters in this program and did a great job of presenting some of the web 2.0 tools we are discussing in class.

This year the Scholar in Resident will be George Needham, Vice President for Member Services at OCLC, a not-for-profit membership cooperative that supplies cataloging, resource sharing, reference services to libraries and other organizations. If you are not familiar with OCLC, just think of them whenever you use WorldCat. This organization is also responsible for and offer many training and growth opportunities. One of their well-known training and educational sites is WebJunction.

One other word about the Scholars in Residence Program. In 2005, the Chicago Public Library lost one of its very own coworkers, Charlotte S. Kim, Assistant Commissioner of Neighborhood Services. She began her service with the library 1986 and was a wonderful leader in the library community, the Chicago community, and her own heritage, Korean community. In her honor, the Scholars in Residence program was renamed, Charlotte Kim Scholars in Residence Program.

With all that said, I hope you will attend. You will find the logistics and registration information at the link provided below. Let me know if you have any questions. Charlotte Kim Scholars in Residence
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Harold Washington Library Center
400 S. State Street, Chicago, IL
“To See Ourselves as Others See Us”

Post #1: Second Life, Try it you might like it.

Have you ever wanted to start all over in life? On the other hand, have you ever wanted to live through your alter ego? Well, welcome to Second Life, “a 3D online digital world imagined and created by its residence.”

I first entered the realm of Second Life thinking it was just another online game. Being a lightweight gamer, I was at once unfamiliar with the surroundings and the entire platform. This was different from anything I had experienced before. To those who are into, “The Sims,” this may be recognizable territory. I consider myself a gamer, yet I quickly began to see what a rookie I have been.

In the world of Second Life, almost everything that takes place in real life is imitated. The only thing I have not seen is people excusing themselves to go to the bathroom. Did I say people? Ah well, I must begin at the beginning. After you set up your account, the first thing you do is create your Avatar. This is quite an exciting endeavor because you literally build a virtual human being. Using the tools provided, you give your avatar a body in the shape that you want. With the same tools you construct a face with eyes, nose, mouth, configurations that you choose from are attached. Finally, you add clothes, shoes, etc. Oh yeah, did I forget to add that you give your virtual person a name? You get to name your avatar any first name you’d like and choose from a selection of surnames given.

Some of my acquaintances were speaking about Second Life recently and one person made the comment that was sort of like the following,”Ooh, I’m afraid of that, it’s kind of creepy.” And, “You could get hooked on that and spend all of your time on Second Life.” Well, maybe, maybe not. I found it to be a totally liberating experience. Let me explain. In this virtual world you can fly, teleport, and do numerous other things that you may not be able to do in real life. It is just a little taste of fantasy.

Some people own businesses, buying and selling their goods or property. There are hundreds of businesses, libraries, communities, art galleries, and churches, you name it, and it can be found in Second Life. The incredible thing is that real life companies, businesses, libraries, universities, and so on have found a place in Second Life.

This online virtual world is indescribable. If I’ve peaked your curiosity at all, go ahead and try it out. But don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to sell anyone on Second Life. At this point, I don’t think this brief description can do it justice. Let me put it like this, if you would like to play hard, or have any experience you have not tried but would like to, check out Second Life. You see in Second Life, I can fly a helicopter.

But beyond the things I’ve already mentioned, are the resources available for librarians. It was surprising to see how many libraries can be found on Second Life that offer services, information, and resources.

The web address below leads to a recent article about real life achievements in this virtual world. I have also provided the Second Life address. Let me say finally, Second Life is definitely to be viewed with an open mind.