Friday, March 31, 2006

Way to Go Carolyn!

Carolyn was selected to attend this year Tall Texans Leadership Institute. This annual event is held by the Texas Library Assocation. Way to go!!!

Video Games in Libraries?

Have you thought about it? I know of two NTRLS libraries offering video games to their 12-18 crowd. It is a great way to reach them on a level they understand. Who knows? They might check a book out while visiting your library to play a game.

Here is an article about how they implemented video game playing in the King County Library System.


There has been much discussion lately concerning online book options for children. TumbleBookLibrary is an online collection of animated,talking picture books which teach young children the joys of reading in a format they'll love. TumbleBook has clear, bright illustrations, easy instructions and has received good evaluations on several electronic lists.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Podcasting: Making your Library's Voice Heard

Are you Ready for Podcasting?

This is the name of an article written by Connie Crosby on She does an excellect job of introducing the subject of podcasting. What is podcasting? Here is short definition:

Podcasting entails audio content that is delivered via an RSS feed presenting a downloadable or streaming file (often mp3). (

Translation: You can record programming into an audio computer file, transfer it to a computer attached to the Internet and then let people download it to their MP3 Players. People can then subscribe to your audio recordings via a RSS newsfeed so they will know exactly when you have a new recording.

As the article indicates, it is relatively inexpensive to get started and makes for a great way to get the word out about library programming and services. If you are interested in attempting to do this and need help, let me know. We can set up a time to discuss.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Boston Public Library has outdone itself!

After much time attending the seminars and vendors, the day was capped off by the reception at the Boston Public Library. I want to be one of the first that applauds the BPL for creating an amazing experience. While just visiting the historic building full of rich history and detailed architecture was a treat, the extras created a great environment.

We were greeted at the front entrance by costumed figures playing revolutionary music. Upon entering the library, we were guided to a mashed potato bar (interesting if you have never been to one - think sundae ice cream bar - but with potatoes and potato toppings.) We were served many specialties of the area - clam chowder, lobster bites, chicken, roast beef, pasta and extravagant desserts. Can you tell I was eating my way through the Boston Public Library?

The library was absolutely packed - there were times I could not even turn around. I can't begin to explain the detail of the building and art in each room. For complete information, visit the Boston Public Library and discover their history online, or better, in person!

Kudos to you all for such a fun event!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Good seminars but so many people!

As I searched for a seminar that wasn't full 30 minutes before the seminar was suppose to start I began to worry where I might end up. My first and second choices were full so I headed to "10 Steps to a Culturally Responsive Library." It was time well spent with good discussion and good ideas. The emphasis was on building relationships among all cultures as a first step - not just buying mutli-language materials.

Next I headed to the Pew report on Internet usage. One point I found interesting was that kids today are digital natives, while the rest of us are digital immigrants. Check out the Time article discussing if kids are too wired. Also check out the youtube website to see what kids are sharing online.

Lunch was spent listening to Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel and his heart felt talk concerning human relationships and how we all must move away from hatred. His talk was inspiring.

There were other great ideas presented during my after lunch seminars that I will share later. PLA is like a day of Christmas shopping at a busy mall - and now I must put my feet up and escape into a good book.

A closing quote from the Opening Session: "Where else can you go and ask questions to a professional with an advanced degree, for free, but to a public library. "

PLA - Just started and exhausted!

So much to do in Boston and at PLA and so little time. Yesterday I toured Cambridge which included Harvard and MIT. It is a bit surreal to be sitting on a bench surrounded by such brilliant minds - well I guess it is not much different than sitting at a bench in PLA surrounded by so many brilliant librarians!

The Opening Session with Linda Ellerbee was great. Her presentation focused on change and our realization that it is a changing world and we are going for the ride. She had five points - but the one I want to address is "Just because everything is changed, doesn't mean that everything is different." As I was thinking about this, it dawned on me how true this is for libraries. We have constant change - blogging is a great example of a changing trend - yet it is all still basically about getting the right information to the right people at the right time. We just are changing the process but not the very heart of our profession. We are here to help people - and what that includes is changing daily - or maybe even hourly.

After the Opening Session, it was off to the Exhibits. Image the TLA exhibits area - now double it - and now add an entire second floor! I don't actually know the number of exhibitors as compared to TLA, but let me tell you that I only made it though a small number of them before I was dragging my freebies with tired arms and and aching feet! I was in good company however, as I entered the shuttle bus, a gaggle of librarians from all over North American gave me weak smiles behind tired eyes.

Thursday promises to be full of information - in one time slot there are 5 programs that have piqued my interest. I will just make my decisions as I go. Off to another full day, with a little more swing in my step and comfortable shoes!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Book

Librarians have historically done a very poor job at marketing their libraries and services. This blog is one of the best out there in blogsphere and I highly recommend it. She introduces topics to you that will assist you with marketing your libraries. Jill Stover, the writer, was recently named a 2006 LJ Mover & Shaker.

Monday, March 20, 2006

PLA - I made it to Boston

Hey all - I am now in Boston to attend the Public Library Association conference. This is my first PLA conference so I am really looking forward to all of the events. Check back later this week and I will let you know how it is going. I came a day early and spent a cold day at Cape Cod - it was great. When I got back from the Cape, the police were evacuating the area around my hotel for a chemical spill - it should be an interesting week!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Online Dangers

Popular Mechanics has a great article on identity theft and online fraud. Jon Erickson gives a synopsis on current digital dangers. Librarians are probably familiar with many of them, but your public might not be so familiar. Test your knowledge:

Zombie Computers - RAT's install hidden code that allows your computer to be controlled remotely.

Man-in-the-Middle attacks: Hackers pose as the real merchant letting victims sign in over Secure Sockets Layer connection and the hacker uses that information to steal credit card numbers or personal information.

Evil Twins: A fake wireless internet hot spot that allows for hackers to steal credit or personal information.

Read the entire article for more information on Phishing, Trojan Horses, URL Obfuscation, DNS Cache Poisoning and Pharming.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Another Library In Trouble

From Library Journal online:
Alfred M. Perry, the North Andover, MA, school committee chair and a local insurance agent, has devised a draconian plan devised to save the ailing town's budget. Among the tactics: close the local library and use the building to house the school superintendent's offices. Perry told the local press that eliminating the library would trim $780,000 off the budget plus save another $180,000 in rent for the superintendent's current digs. Perry says that "libraries have become antiquated systems" and that citizens shouldn't have to choose between cutting police, fire, and education. The school budget has a nearly $3 million deficit, so while Perry wants to save the teachers, he apparently cares nothing for librarians. He claims that many library services could be transferred to the high school library at little cost. Fierce opposition is expected.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Reference Desk Favorites Organization

It is difficult to keep favorites or bookmarks current at the reference desk computer. For example, late Thursday night a patron asks for a website for Texas wildflowers. After googling a bit, the librarian finds a fantastic site at Texas A & M. They save it on the reference desk computer favorites under homework help. Two weeks later, another patron comes in asking a different library staff member for Texas wildflower information. This staff member quickly looks at favorites, but since there are hundreds saved and no one has the time to get them organized - they don't see it. So they spend time googling the answer.

Two suggestions to help keep useful websites organized:
1. Low tech answer - Keep an old fashioned Rolodex at the reference or information desk. As staff find helpful websites - they list them on a card and file it - Texas wildflowers would be under wildflowers. This is simple, but it does work well when you have many different people working the reference desks.

2. An online solution - MyBookmarks is a free Internet service that allows you to keep your browser bookmarks and favorites online so you can access them from anywhere. Set up an account just for the reference desk and everyone can access it from any computer. This solution will still require someone taking the time to keep them organized.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New Way to Sell Books

Friends of the Friends (FOTF) is a new corporate sponsor with FOLUSA.

This is a new service that allows libraries with small friends groups the ability to have an ongoing revenue stream by selling used books on a continuous basis. A volunteer enters the ISBNs online and FOTF will let you know if they can purchase the book from the library. "The average buy is one out of every fifteen lookups."

Monday, March 06, 2006

Checking out laptops in your library

After a recent consulting visit to a local library, I have been pondering the practicality of laptops being checked out for public use in the library. The Best Practices of Academic Library Information Technology Directors report states "In general, students appear to appreciate the option of borrowing laptops from their library, and most libraries that offer this service report high levels of student enthusiasm. In addition, libraries report virtually no problems with theft or even poor maintenance of equipment. However, the time demands of storing, distributing, maintaining, providing net access, and assuring compliance with legally mandated use provisions leads many librarians to seek to limit the programs. In addition, the availability of lap tops in the library does not appear to significantly affect use of other library workstations."

While the above is from the academic library report, much of the same can be said of the public library world. If we, meaning public libraries, do not make laptops available for check-out in the library, we can certainly allow patrons to bring in their laptops. Then of course, we need to allocate staff time to help those patrons get connected to our wireless network. Do we have enough staff to handle the computers we are already troubleshooting?

For more information on public library trends, Research and Markets has announced the addition of Best Practices of Public Library Information Technology Directors to their offering.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Huge digitization project planned in Europe

Two news stories caught my eye this morning.

The first being the huge digization project planned in Europe. "At least six million books, documents and other cultural works will be made available online through a European Digital Library over the next five years. The European Commission plans to fund a series of 'digitisation centres' across Europe and create a framework for protecting, accessing and using intellectual property rights in digital libraries."

The second story that got my attention is Microsoft's claim that in 6 months they will have a search engine that will be more relevant to US users than Google . This should be interesting to watch.........