Monthly Archives: October 2006

What the…..?

Sarah at Librarian in Black wrote about a truly horrifying new “service” by the folks at Microsoft and MSN. It’s called Ms. Dewey, and you really have to experience it to fully understand how unbelievably awful this thing is.

Picture a sultry, beautiful woman in a relatively low-cut black dress, acting as a librarian answering questions. OK, that doesn’t describe most of us, but that’s not the problem. The problem is the persona. To say it’s unprofessional is seriously understating the case. At one point she answered a query with, “Method acting is another way of saying, “Show up on the set and say whatever the f**k you want. Works for me.” WHAAAAT????? Granted, the expletive was bleeped, but even so, it’s completely beyond the pale.

Regardless of what you query, you get a smart-aleck response from Ms. Dewey. If you do nothing, you get faces and impatient gestures, and at one point, a “Helllooooo….is anyone out there? TYPE SOMETHING IN HERE. (pointing at query box)” Sarah mentioned that she wished she had gotten a screen shot of her actually brandishing a crop. Well, I did:

Ms. Dewey



Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."


Stephen Abram, in his blog Stephen’s Lighthouse, posted a link to a new article he’s written about the Millennial generation. It’s a terrific read, and important information for anyone who is in a position to work with them (or if, like me, you have one of your own.)
As he says in his introductory paragraph:

They’re the biggest generation in history and already outnumber the Boomers. As librarians we must care about them. We have sadly seen some of the consequences of the mutual disengagement of libraries and Generation X. It isn’t pretty. Simply put this ‘next’ generation comprises all of our student users (although there is emerging evidence that post-Millennials are even more different); most of our college and university users, and, within ten years, the majority of parents – in short our major key user populations. This is the one segment of the population that is actually growing through immigration. They will vote on library issues, influence library strategies and they will control budgets and dominate the consumer space. They are critical to the future of libraries and indeed, the future itself.

Read the whole thing.

Originally posted in Selco Librarian. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship

Social Computing and the Information Professional

Closing Keynote

Elizabeth Lane Lawley, Director, Rochester Institute of Technology

…or Girls Just Want to Have Fun!

…or All Work and No Play make Jack a Dull Boy

…or All the world’s a game…and all the men and women merely players.




Many2many – a group weblog on social software – women and technology

Terranova – on virtual worlds

Gotten into gaming in the last year or so, and now finds herself talking about games in the same way that she used to talk about blogs. 

Started playing World of Warcraft about a year ago.  Alter-ego is Galataea, Level 60 Troll Priestess.  Was playing with colleagues she knows in the real world.  She and her son both play in this environment. 

Note to Michael Stephens from Liz:  your tight Second Life jeans were a topic in the closing keynote.

Gaming Boot Camp: Reverse scavenger hunt.  Gather 10 items.  Then you get the list of the things you’re supposed to find.  Each team justifies to the judge how each thing they got matches the list. 

Games are a powerful way to build an emotional connection. 

Werewolf.  Each person has been given a card that says they’re a werewolf, a villager, or a seer.  Game of deception and truth. 

What is a game?

  • a form of play with goals and structure

  • a form of art in which participants make decisions in order to manage resources through game tokens in pursuit of a goal


PLCMC Learning 2.0 is really a game.  Has structure, incentives, and a goal.

Cruel 2 B Kind – experimental game.  “Will innocents be caught in the cross-fire? Oh, yes.  But when your secret weapon is a random act of kindness, it’s only cruel to be kind to other players…” 

All In – tombstone hold ‘em poker.  Tombstones will have one of four tops – rounded, flat, pointed, decorative.  (4 suits)  Date of death – last number is the card value (2005=5)  Two names on the stone is a Jack; three is a Queen, four is a King.  Each pair has two minutes for find their best cards.

We guide people through information experiences.

Bibliographic Gaming – blog for librarians interested in using video games to teach

MacArthur Foundation – Digital Media, Learning & Education. 

Game On: Games in libraries

Encourages everyone to rethink gaming – even if you don’t think you’re a gamer.  This is really, really big.  This will change the way people use your tools.

Leave a comment

Filed under IL2006

New Tools for Training

Research assistance and instruction anytime, anywhere: Blogs, Wikis, and IM.

Chad Boeninger, Ohio Universities

Students have information needs regardless of time or location.

The business blog:

  • promote existing or new resources and services

  • research hints for specific projects

  • nuggets of information literacy

  • information at the time of need

  • knowledge base for both patron and librarian

Challenges with the blog:

  1. measuring use is difficult

  2. which posts are being read?

  3. RSS slow to catch on

  4. Must regularly generate content

  5. What are students working on?

  6. Difficult to categorize/browse/search content, especially the bigger it gets.

40% of people reading the blog – another librarian at another institution.

The biz wiki

  • took wiki and put research guides on it

  • searchable

  • wikis make excellent teaching tools

  • replace handouts

  • broader scope than class specific handouts


  • more content=more maintenance

  • maintaining organization and structure with growth of content is difficult


  • Decrease in redundant questions, patron experiences have increased, students can help themselves. 

Jeff Humphrey, INCOLSA (Indiana Cooperative Library Authority)

Delivering training over the Internet

3 ways: videoconferencing, streaming video, webconferencing.


  • two-way interactive

  • integrated audio and video

  • bandwidth intensive

  • views well in a big room

  • multiple camera inputs

  • better audio

  • ability to record sessions

  • utilizes existing bandwidth   


  • anchored to a live schedule

  • uses a lot of bandwidth

  • doesn’t play well with firewalls

  • not good for hands-on workshops

  • high startup costs

Streaming Video

  • started in 1998 with LSTA funding

  • equipment replaced with IP units in 2001

  • expanded to 30 sites in 2004

  • point to point for meetings

  • multi-point for workshops

  • slow acceptance

  • recent growth, but still not perfect (connectivity and equipment issues)

Streaming media

  • one way flow of information

  • integrated audio and video

  • traditionally delivered to the desktop

  • live or on-demand

  • can be more bandwidth friendly

  • many delivery options (windows media, quicktime, flash, etc.

  • user can participate live

  • user can pick time and place with on demand

  • post production allows for a better sessions

  • most pcs and macs already capable of viewing  


  • No two-way interaction

  • Many encoding options (probably best to stick with one)

  • Harder to incorporate viewable graphics

  • Not every workstation can handle the feed


  • live browser-based meeting

  • integrated and non-integrated audio

  • potential to use video

  • incorporates presentation and document sharing

  • very user-interactive experience

  • usually bandwidth friendly

  • good for live demos

  • good for hands-on workshops  


  • user tied to time and place

  • prone to “creative multitasking”

  • requires a plug-in or script

  • audio integration can be a hassle

  • really requires a “room monitor”

  • costs quickly add up

Sean Cordes, Iowa State


  • content dissemination

  • study support tool

  • instruction recording tool

  • reference recording tool

  • student engagement – motivates students to participate

  • active – integrate all the language arts

  • reflective – requires students to analyze sources and think about evidence in new ways

Using open source tools and a simple process, podcasts can distribute course materials in the online classroom.


  1. record mp3 file
  2. upload file to web space
  3. create blog posting
  4. generate web feed with enclosure
  5. create WebCT posting page to distribute
  6. Use WebCT and Feedburner stats to assess


  • sony digital handheld recorder

  • blogger or blog software

  • ftp client to upload to the server

  • feedburner

  • feed to javascript – syndicate info into CMS

Has blogger account – CoursePodcasts.  Links to MP3 files on the web.

Leave a comment

Filed under IL2006

Learning, Gaming and Training

Shu Liu, Digital Content Librarian, Colorado State University Libraries

Tammy Allgood. Fletcher Library, Arizona State University

Shu Liu

Definition: A learning object is an online tool that includes a learning objective, a learning process, and a means of assessment to help learners digest a specific piece of knowledge, or master how to complete a specific task.

Characteristics include: digital, individual, interactive, and reusable. 

Learning objects – learning activities – lessons – units – courses.  (Largest to smallest)

Educational examples:

WISC-Online (Wisconsin Online Resource Center)

digital library of learning objects

developed by faculty from the Wisconsin Technical College System

Encouraged to register on website and access learning.

Example: The 12 Cranial Nerves.   (Cute demonstration of the learning tool.)

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching: international consortium and technology initiative.  Not nearly as interactive as the Wisconsin site.

Business examples: Microsoft Office Online Training, Apple Learning Interchange

Tammy Allgood

Gaming in library instruction – Game On!

Why games? 69% of teenagers play video games every week; evidence suggests games can enhance problem solving skills

Learning objectives: introduce students to library as physical and virtual space, library services, types of resources, etc.

Started with board game in fall 2005.  Bean as prototype to computer game.  Good learning experience.  “Information Pursuit”  Very popular with both students and professors.

Computer game began in spring 2006.  5 people on team; extensive research in gaming as education tool.  Platform – Flash. 

Documentation: Business plan, high concept document, game treatment document, and game script

High concept doc – premise of the game, intended audience, genre, target platform, overall storyline.

Treatment doc – game overview, production details, game world (back story, characters, mission, objective)

Game script – biggest document.  Game play outline/flowchart, design details, game text. 

Deliverables: game logo, game design, game skeleton, character interactions, information retrieval systems, animations.

Game: “Quarantined: Axl Wise and the Information Outbreak.” Premise: virus outbreak on campus; no one can get out to the internet or go off campus.  Able to use the resources on campus.

Fun game.  What a painless and enjoyable way to learn about library resources.

Leave a comment

Filed under IL2006

Technology training in a 2.0 world

Michael Porter, OCLC Western

Brenda Hough, Northeast Kansas Library System

Dale Musselman, WebJunction

Michael Porter.  OCLC trainer. Libraryman.    Introduces Brenda and Dale.

Brenda Hough

How technology training has changed

Tech training in libraries has been happening for a while now.  60-90 minutes hands-on classes: intro to PCs, basic internet, intro to email.  Lots of OOOOTF: one-on-one, on the fly training.

How does tech training look now?

1.encourage independence

2.encourage exploration

3.stop trying to provide step-by-step directions

4.provide context

5.use storytelling

6.expect success

7.treat training as a collaborative project real world

Libraries teaching 2.0 topics

Lansing Public Library, ILL  Podcasting, Bloglines, Blogger

Johnson County Library: Cyber 6-pack

Queens Library: My Space Tips & Tricks

Tampa Bay: Children’s tweens and teens resources on the web

Newport News: My Space Internet Safety

Scottsdale: Blogging (lists prerequisite skill)

Arlington, TX: Mashups

Reading , MA: Instant Messenger, Geek out, don’t freak out (on how to use your digital camera), Share your pictures with Flickr.

Tempe: Online Auctions (e-bay)

Nashville: e-audio book downloading


Ways libraries could use 2.0 technologies for training

  Similar program.  Has a feature built in that if you load an item to a friend, it will tell you when it’s due.

  Safety for kids.  For parents.  Can send out bulletins, so all the people that are your “friend” get the bulletin.  Every time you have a class, you could market it here.

  Offers tools and resources for training.  Updating the training area. 

  Photo sharing site.  Use pictures in your classes.  Take pictures of your classes and present on Flickr. 


  Have a class on  Get resources for class and tag them so that there’s a page with the web resources for that class.


E- and Online Learning

Lots of tools out there for creating training.  Can complement what you’re already doing.

Tools:  Captivate, Camtasia, Wink, Viewlet Builder, Viewlet Cam, CamStudio.  Can put into Flash or other video formats.

Rapid creation tools: Adobe Presenter, CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver, etc.  Tools based on PowerPoint.  Articulate Presenter one of the nicest, but also expensive.  PowerBullet Presenter and Open Office are free applications that will output slides to flash. 

Interact live online: Horizon Winba, Illuminate, OPAL(Online training for all libraries), teamslide – free service to present ppt slides on the web, dimdim – open source web conferencing tool, Second Life, skype

Games and simulations: Create learning games – egames generator; quia – activities, quizzes, etc.; software/web simulations – Captivate; Second Life – people/world simulations.

Share it – Borrow it: YouTube, Jumpcut, Nuvvo, WebJunction, Library U, Library Instruction Wiki.

Technology will continue to evolve and grow in ways we have not yet thought of.

Leave a comment

Filed under IL2006, Techie stuff

IL2006: Keynote – Web Presence for Internet Librarians

Shari Thurow

Webmaster/Marketing Director

Grantastic Designs


“I. Love. Librarians.  When I was a kid and in trouble, they punished me by taking away my library card.”

There are a lot of evil search engine marketers and I’m not one of them.  I choose to work with the search engines. 

What is a search-engine friendly website, or a search-friendly website?  Once you have a foundation it’s really easy to maintain a web presence.

Why should you care about the search engines?  Because people search.  Search means berry-picking.  All of them think they know how to search.  Why do people search?  Researching topics, getting directions and maps, looking for news, shopping, etc.

Search engine friendly design is NOT a design created primarily for getting a number one position in Google.  It is a user-friendly website that can easily be found on both the crawler based and human based search engines (web directories.)  Design code for your primary audience.  However, the number 1 was people find information on the web is through search engines.

How you place words and graphic images communicates the content that you feel is most important. 

5 basic rules of web design:

  1. easy to read
  2. easy to navigate.  Sense of place.  Scent of information. If people get lost, they should be able to get to the home page easily.
  3. easy to find.
  4. consistent in layout and design.  White space.  Navigational elements.  Fonts, typefaces, and color.  Communicates trust, reliability.
  5. quick to download.  General rule is should download in 30 seconds or less on a 56K modem.

What is easy to find?  On search engines, web directories, and industry-related sites.  Go directly to the relevant page.  Within 7-8 clicks, preferable less as long as  they believe they’re making progress.  Most important information should be above the fold.  Contact information. 

FAQs page – put the questions at the top of the page.  Also has keyword density.  Advantage is that information is at the top of the page.

Search engines do three things: index text, follow links, and measure popularity.  All crawlers do the first two.  If you do not place text on your web pages and create a site navigation scheme that crawlers can follow, your library site will not rank well in the search engines.  Search engines don’t do well with AJAX and flash.

Do your web pages:

         contain words and phrases that match what your target audience types into search queries?

         Provide easy access to keyword-focused text, with site navigation and URL structure that the search engine spiders can easily follow?

Successful optimization depends on:

         text component (index text)

         link component (follow links)

         popularity componenr

What kind of text?

         the words your target audience is typing into search engines – keywords or query words

         when visitors view a web page, does the content appear to be focused?

o       Every web page should have a unique title tag

o       Breadcrumb link’

o       Headings

o       Introductory paragraph

o       Calls-to-action

o       Conclusion paragraph

o       Graphic images

Whenever you create the title tag, use hyphens and not underscores. 

Breadcrumb links are very search engine friendly.

Search engines don’t read the text inside graphic images anymore.

Text component

Primary text vs. secondary text.

Primary – title tags, visible <body>copy, text at the top of a web page, in and around hypertext links.  If you want to know what the search engines are seeing, copy and paste into notepad – that’s the text the search engines are seeing.

Use words that people type into search queries.  Make sure yourmost important keywords in titles, visible body text, anchor text, meta tags, and alternative text.  Remember to focus most of your efforts on primary text.

Link Component

Site navigation, cross-linking, typw of web page, page layout, URL structure


         text links (most friendly)

         navigation buttons

         image maps

         menus (form and DHTML)  Search engines do not fill out forms.

         flash (least search-engine friendly)

Always have two forms of navigation on our web site: one for your target audience and one for the search engines.  They often complement each other.

Types of text links:

         navigation links

         contextual links – breadcrumb links

         embedded links – very search-engine friendly.  MPABS – most people are basically stupid.  You have to tell people what to do.  Get people to the information they’re looking for.  Search engines love embedded text links.

         site map – you should have, but don’t make it a collection of link.  Write an introductory paragraph; add city, state, country.

Informational pages:

         contains info your target audience is interested in

         do not contain a lot of sales hype or industry jargon, but info in the user’s language

         are spider-friendly pages

         match the rest of your web site

         always reside on your web server

         end user and search engines see the same page

Bottom of page – great place for related links

To get keyword phrases – keep asking “what kind of?” 

Cross-linking:  in addition to a spider-friendly navigation scheme and a site map, all sites should have related, relevant text links

Incredibly fast-paced presentation with a wealth of information.  As soon as I find her presentation, I’ll link to it.  Really great information and tips.

1 Comment

Filed under IL2006


Interesting conversation with a cab driver this afternoon.  He asked if we were “with that Internet group.”  We answered that yes, we were Internet Librarians.  He had no idea what that could possibly mean, and wondered what an Internet Librarian did?

We talked about technology and patron expectations and having to keep up in order to serve the population.  He admitted that he uses the public library often, because he can’t afford a computer and Internet access at home.  I told him that he’s not alone, and that a lot of people use the public library for access.

Then the inevitable comment – “So do we need books anymore?”  I answered very definitely in the affirmative.  Hard to curl up with a computer.  Aurora chimed in that the information on the ‘Net is good for about three paragraphs, but in-depth information requires books.  He mentioned that he was frustrated by the local library, since they have about eight public access computers and at his last visit, three were out of service.

I reminded him that libraries have the same issues he has; computers are expensive and get very hard use in the library.  They last two or three years, and then need to be replaced.  Those three computers will probably cost three thousand dollars to replace (at least) and where does the library come up with that money?  That one made him think a bit.

It was an interesting conversation because it was so common.  Always good to have a chance to preach the message.  Interesting that we still have to do so.

Leave a comment

Filed under IL2006

IL2006: Challenges of Cyberinfrastructure

Talis mashup prizes: First – John Blyberg, AADL Second – Alliance Second Life Library 2.0. Lori Bell, Michael Casey, Tom Peters, et. al.

Keynote Clifford Lynch, Exec Dir Coalition of Networked Information

Been told yesterday’s featured a musical performance; there will be no singing, humming, or any other type of scary stuff at this morning’s presentation. [laughter]

Practices of scholarship teaching changing in profound ways. Cyberinfrastructure: in most of the rest of the world, you can go and talk to people about e-science. Notion that the practice of science has been transformed by high-performance computation, high-performance networking, and large scale management of data. EU is investing heavily on e-science, as is much of the rest of the world.

National virtual observatory projects in various nations. If you build a telescope right, you automatically get metadata, which allows for aggregation of that information. Building enormous sky surveys from this information. Astronomy is no longer about getting time; now they’re running algorithms using data. By changing the interface a bit, you can open up high-end astronomy to school kids.

How do we get data reused and preserved? How do we get scientists assistance?

Initial focus of cyberinfrastructure discussion on science and engineering. All of this technology is equally applicable in humanities and social sciences, though there is some discussion on that in the disciplines.

Humanists interested in digitizing all of the writings and images in the world, so they can be searched and researched.

We tend to think of published literature when we speak of digitizing evidence; museums also play a part in getting large-scale digitization projects of these collections. Vast amount of museum holding are out of copyright. They’ve tried to monetize these collections by restricting access to them. (eg. No photos in the museum) Starting to see museums talking about digitizing public-domain materials and making them available.

Other issue in humanities and social sciences is that special collections are hugely important for research in many fields. These collections are going digital. Personal collections being digitized. Special collections in the future will have to change how they approach life; deal with information in digital form. Scale can be a problem, as well. Study of earlier times (18th century, etc.) is usually characterized by a paucity of evidence. Scholars of modern era can’t deal with sheer volume of information. Information retrieval and data mining very important.

Needs are shifting from problems tied up with information technology to problems involved with informatics – how to organize data, how to deal with confidentiality, etc. We tend to focus our attention on big marquee projects, but they’re projects with large funding and large teams.

Someone on those teams has thought about information management issues. Small projects with small teams (or individuals) don’t have that luxury – we need to figure out how to support these projects. Misunderstanding that everyone in science gets a grant. Not true. We will end up with patchwork of institutional and disciplinary approach to this problem.

Roles of libraries: If you look at big research universities and at information technology workforce, 15 years ago most of those people worked for central IT. Now in different departments, not central organization. Libraries are now facing demands for data curation. Scientists more interested in sharing data. Funding institutions realizing there’s real value in this data. Starting to put requirements for grantees for data management and sharing plan.

2005 – hurricanes a wake-up call. Long-term research projects where question of whether data was backed up, tissue lines, etc. How resilient is this stuff to natural disasters? We need to get organized about research data.

Demands to support this – who is supposed to be doing this? References to a new professional, which is largely mythological right now, called a Data Scientist. What do they need to know? What of their knowledge needs to be general, what needs to be disciplinary specific? Are these going to be librarians, or researchers in the fields? Will we meet these requirements through collaboration? Scale of this problem over the next decade or two is quite large.

Big research libraries – average librarian in these settings frustrated by trying to acquire more than their budgets allow. Also have weird relationship with scientists; main role of library for sciences is to pay for journals. (Shocking number of scientists think journals are free online because interface is so seamless.)

Will be moving into inter-institutional collaborations. Rapid rise in research frameworks that are collaborative – crossing institutional and international boundries.

Will be huge demand for access beyond research institutions. Nature of personal history is changing; issue for any cultural memory organization because the scope is getting broader. Rise of amateur science, especially observational science. Suggestion for libraries of all types to be mindful of all broad based changes.

Leave a comment

Filed under IL2006

Good news in Salinas

One of the lead stories on the local news this morning was that the Salinas libraries are making a comeback.  Their hours are almost doubling, and the community seems to be suddenly aware of how important their libraries are.  Good news, indeed.

Leave a comment

Filed under IL2006, Libraries and Librarianship