Friday, October 27, 2006

Internet Librarian 2006 - Day Three

I am back in Fort Worth. I didn't have Internet Access the last day of conference so I putting this last blog entry together in hindsight. Let's hope my notes are good....

I devoted the majority of my last day to Mobile Handheld devices since my knowledge was really lacking in this arena. Overall, the presentations were really good. Here are some tidbits of knowledge I gleaned from them.

  • There are so many wonderful devices now available in the marketplace. My favorite was the cell phone that opened up to a television screen. You could watch videos on it. It even had Picture in Picture.
  • Most websites do not render well for small screens(called Mobile Optimized Web). If you want to offer your website information services to the small screen crowd, you will need to design your website using another scripting technology such as WAP. This scripting technology strips down the website to just text and a few graphics.
  • There are tools that will take sites like the ntrls page and strip it down to its component parts. The one mostly mentioned is I have yet to try it, but plan to soon.. Of course, some companies hate these tools because they don't render their website well.
  • Text messaging is the most popular way to convey information on a cell phone. If you want to reach the younger crowds, you have to figure out a way to get the information to them in this fashion. 4Info has done a really great job of this. This company has an open interface at that allows people to open their data services up to SMS inquiries. You can select a keyword such as NTRLS and then tell 4Info what information to send if they receive that keyword in a text message. For example, for NTRLS we might send them data about our member libraries. A user then would send the code @ntrls to 4INFO's text messaging number and 4INFO would send a response back about our libraries. Pretty slick material....
  • and other search engines have WAP enabled websites for handheld devices. Try them, practice them and then let your patrons know about them.
  • Ball State University built a WAP version of their website including their catalog. Lot's of development time and effort, not to mention, they received a grant to do it. Still, it is nicely done. You can access their work at

Overall, I think handheld devices are gaining prominence in the US and public libraries need to begin to address them. In my mind, the public libraries should collaborate with university libraries to build mobile interfaces. Since so many students today are exposed to this type of service at the University level, it would be nice for public libraries to say, "Hey you don't have to lose this type of service just because you are not at school anymore. We offer the same." In fact, this is a good reason to collaborate with University libraries on any of the services offered.

The closing keynote was about gaming and libraries. Elizabeth Lane Lowley from RIT gave it. Very interesting. She gave some examples of how games are being played today. Traditional game playing is being mixed with an online environment. People are given game directions online to do something in the real world. Cruel2bekind is an example. People are given points based on the good deeds they do in real life. Another one is called tombstone Hold Em where people get poker hands based on the type of tombstone they can find in a cemetery. Gaming has always been so popular and it has taken off online in the last twenty years. It is time for public libraries to look at how they can engage their patrons using games. Anybody up for a library scavenger hunt!!!!

Try out 42 entertainment for some ideas on gaming.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Internet Librarian 2006 - Day Two

Hi again from California where sea otters munch on food in the water while you eat your lunch at the Fisherman's Wharf....

I decided to focus my efforts today on social computing. Podcasting and Videocasting was the first session. We heard from several people. I highlight the ones that really impressed me. Greg Schwartz from the Louisville Public Library introduced the crowd to podcasting. His definition of podcasting was the "distribution of audio files over the Internet using RSS technology." The beauty of podcasting, according to Greg, is that patrons can subscribe to content and receive automatic downloads. Greg mentioned that it takes commitment of time and staff to offer podcasts and libraries should analyze their communities on whether it is a service worth offering. Libraries offer podcasts of programming events, upcoming events, library news and bibliographic instruction. It can also be used for visually impaired sector as well as staff training. Greg mentioned nine steps to podcasting.

1. Determine content and format
2. Assemble equipment and people.
3. Record
4. Edit and export to mp3
5. Listen!
6. Upload file to server.
7. Generate your RSS feed using
8. Publish feed URL.
9. Promote. Respond. Repeat.

Jeff Humphrey of INCOLSA spoke of how they are migrating their streaming online videos to videocasting. Instead of paying for the cost of steaming, they have decided to go with the latest trend and have their users download their CE videos via a RSS stream. I spoke with Jeff at length at the break on how they were accomplishing this and I believe this is something NTRLS should explore doing with its CE program. I will research it and see what I can do.

David Free of the Georgia Perimeter College talked of lessons learned from his podcasting experience. Here is his list:

1. Make sure it feeds.
2. Promote, then promote some more.
3. Keep it short (6 to 10 minutes long)
4. Use music sparingly
5. Multiple voice rock.
6. Podcast events work best.
7. Consider your web presence (make the links readily available)
8. Listen to your listeners.

He said the best format for the podcasts is 96 kbit/s in mp3 format. Finally, buy a good microphone, it makes all the difference.

David King of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library talked about videoblogging. Videoblogging allows people to subscribe to video feed versus the audio feed subscribed to with podcasts. He showed some really great footage from some of the more popular videoblogs. One video showed a gentleman trying to open a can of soup and not being able to do it. It was a great commentary on the product. Rocketboom is the most popular videoblog online today. They often show advertisements and get $40K for it. The difference with regular commercials, however, is that they get to do the commercials themselves. The net changes everything doesn't it?

David listed several ways libraries could use videoblogging.

1. booktalk
2. bibliographic instruction
3. cultural memory project
4. collaborative project with schools and other organizations.
5. environmental
6. Library- behind the scenes
7. travel segments
8. political debates
9. hobbies and lifestyles.

After a lunch with the otters, I then attended a session on Flickr and Libraries. Flickr is one of the better Web 2.0 tools available today. The two speakers, Michael Porter of OCLC Western and Michael Sauers of BCR, showed some neat usage of Flickr. The National Library of Australia was by far the most impressive as they asked their citizens to upload their pictures to Flickr for historical reasons. They currently have 1.2 millions photos for this project. If you want to explore some neat ways to play with Flickr, go to Fd Flickr Toys.

My last session of the day was on RSS and Javascript. It was a good session on how you can place RSS newsfeeds on a website. I learned that I could use a site like RSS Mix to combine several feeds together and then use Feed2JS to place this mix on our website. If you are worried about time lag on loading the RSS newsfeeds, you can download the Feed2JS software to your server. I also learned about RMail which is a free service to allow people to have RSS news headlines sent directly to their email accounts. You can create widget to place on your blog to allow your readers to do this.

Overall, it was a good day. Tuesday night, a Farmer's market set up shop down the block from the hotel. It was great fun to walk up and down the street looking at all the booths. Finally, if you are ever in Monterey, you have to try Rosine's. Best food I have ever had at a conference event.....the pies are fantastic.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Internet Librarian 2006 - Day One

Hi from Internet Librarian 2006 in Monterey California where the sea lions wake you up in the morningÂ….

My purpose in coming to this conference was to learn some new tricks for our System and for our member libraries. Here are the highlights of my first day at conference

Two speakers really wowed me Monday morning. The first was Michael Stephens from Dominican University and the author of the blog. He really pushed to the audience that Web 2.0 created many offspring. Two of these offspring are Library 2.0 and Librarian 2.0. For those of us who are Librarian 2.0, we are embracing our patrons and making them the center of our planning. We are also the trendsetters and not the followers. For Library 2.0, Michael gave the following rules that all public libraries should follow:

1. LetÂ’s expand our brand.
2. Break down the barriers. Here he was talking about policies that prevent our users from experiencing all we have to offer in public libraries.
3. Go where the users areÂ…
4. Adopt a 2.0 philosophy. We need the ideals of the masses..
5. Its about experience and play. Its okay to fun to do what we do.
6. Create a culture of trust.

The second speaker that wowed me was Helene Blowers, director of Information Technology at The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. Helene and I have a connection in the fact that we serve as board members for the MaintainIT project. It was nice to put a name with a face.

Helene’s library has initiated an intensive “training” program for their staff called Learning 2.0. She stressed that it was not a “training” program, but a learning one. Their library did nothing to assist their staff in this endeavor other than give structured exercises to learn some Web 2.0 tools. The tools they introduced to their staff included blogging, digital photos, RSS, tagging, wikis and podcasts. Each week, the staff had to learn a Web 2.0 tools. When the staff member was done with the learning, they received a MP3 player with a chance to win a brand new laptop. She called the prizes her carrots. The program had three objectives:

1. Introduce staff to new technology.
2. Encourage staff to take responsibility for their learning.
3. Reward the staff for taking the initiative to complete the exercises.

I found the new twist to CE very interesting. It put more of the responsibility of the learning in the hands of the staff so they took more ownership of their own training. I can actually envision having them come to NTRLS to teach us how they put together this innovative program so we can use it in our own libraries.

If anything, I believe I am going to explore putting together an online course for member libraries to use to help their staff learn the new Web 2.0 tools.

Monday afternoon was highlighted by a session led by Sara Houghton of the San Mateo County Library. Sara writes the Librarian in Black blog, which is one of the best on the web because of the original content she posts. Her session was by far the best of the day. She gave advice on how to reach patrons online and it was great advice. I think all libraries should follow her advice and start to reach out to their online patrons. She gave a 20 item checklist.

1. Ensure you are findable in the major search engines.
2. Make sure you are listed in the library directories.
3. List your library in Wikipedia.
4. Make sure you are listed in Wikimapia.
5. List your library events and services in local community websites and calendars.
6. Ensure that your library has a presence on local government, school and community websites.
7. Monitor local blogs, technology boards, CE boards and other forums.
8. Create a profile for your library in social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook.
9. Offer assistance via Instant Messaging.
10. List your library in free WiFi directories.
11. Check reviews olibraryr libary on social review sites.
12. List your library's blog on geography blog search engine.
13. Are your items listed in Worldcat?
14. Make sure you are on Local Google.
15. Push out newsletters via RSS and email.
16. Consider being present in Second Life and other online game environments.
17. List your staff as experts in various free expert-finding tools.
18. Make your audio and video findable.
19. Make sure you library blog is in blog search engines.
20. Subscribe to feeds to find discussions about your library.

Other highlights of the first day:

  • Mystery Writer J.A. Janice gave the opening keynote. She talked about how she writes and where she gets her inspiration. Apparently, if you make her mad, you will end up in one of her books as the bad guy. Also, she sang two songs for us. A first for me.

  • I received a tour of a library created in Second Life. Second Life is online simulation game where you can create an online version of yourself. This is a real library where the virtual people go ask questions of the reference desk and attend programming. Strange as it sounds, this might be one way to reach our patrons online. Fascinating stuff!!!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Presentation - Enhancing Your Website using Web 2.0 and the New Web

Please find the presentation I did for the Public Library Administrators of North Texas (PLANT). It focuses on Web 2.0 tools libraries can utilize for their websites.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Expanded Books - Update

I have an update from a previous post about the vendor Expanded Books. Friday, I spoke with Skye Van Raalte-Herzog from Expanded Books. She told me that Expanded Books is looking to form partnerships with libraries and library organizations as publishers have asked them to reach out to libraries. If you are interested, you should contact the company directly through their website.

For NTRLS member libraries, you should expect a fax sometime this week asking about participating in a pilot program. Expanded Books is willing to send us looping DVDs for each of our member libraries willing to show the Expanded Book Videos. These videos are really nicely done so please sign up for the pilot program.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Expanded Books - Selling Books through Online Video

Expanded Books is a new service that videotapes interviews with authors about their latest works. The company then places the videos on sites like Yahoo, MSN, etc. People can watch the videos to get a better idea of a book. I watched my first one on MSN about Bobby Thompson Homerun in the late 1950s. Here is what they write abou themselves.

Expanded Books uses the power of the Internet and video to reach millions of potential book buyers, attract new readers, and boost book sales. Expanded Books’ edgy entertainment style has never before been applied to books and broadens both awareness and the market for featured titles With our unique approach, our videos have the potential to reach younger, tech-savvy audiences who have turned to alternative media sources. The production team behind Expanded Books has years of experience producing network comedy and entertainment television and brings this high level of expertise to each production.James Michael Tyler, Expanded Books’ celebrity host, is well known by millions of people both in the U.S. and abroad because of his role on Friends as Gunther. He’s warm, friendly, funny, and he appeals to younger audiences.

I contacted them about what they could do for libraries. I was told that they had just brokered a deal with Overdrive, the online audio/video vendor. I don't know any of the finer details yet, but will pass them on as I get them. I hoping NTRLS can broker a deal with them for our member libraries.

I think this would be a nice readers advisory service to provide to patrons. You might keep an eye and ear out for future devleopments.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Adult Programming Wiki

NTRLS has created an Adult Programming Wiki. This wiki was created by The North Texas Regional Library System to be a one stop shop for adult programming ideas for public libraries. The best source for successful programming ideas is the front line librarian who is out there creating, planning and facilitating programs. Please add your program ideas that have worked, share what you would have done differently, and give any helpful hints you deem appropriate.

This wiki is open to all library staff that would like to share programming ideas. You will need to log in to the site to add new ideas. The password is available on the sign-in screen.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Libraries are limited, obsolete (?)

There is an interesting editorial in the Lawrence Journal-World from a citizen debating the need for a new central library. These points are not new to most of us, but it is time to come up with our judicious counterpoints.

1. Libraries are inefficient. Like me, kids seek fast, convenient access to up-to-date information. That’s available on the Internet. In this new information age, libraries are an obsolete place to store and disseminate information. Rather than speed access to reliable, up-to-date information, libraries provide only remote, slow and inconvenient access to limited and often outdated information.
Go to any library. The stacks are empty; it’s the computers that are busy. Then ask yourself if it makes sense to locate those computers in one central and remote location, like a downtown library, or instead locate the computers where kids, seniors, and everyone else wants to use them.

2. Libraries are limited. Everybody wants access to reliable information. The Internet is a gateway to unlimited data and information about government, business, and the community. Multiple information providers on the Internet make fact checking easy and reliable. No single person, such as a librarian, can or should be relied upon to verify accuracy. Single sources for information verification are inefficient and potentially dangerous. (emphasis added).

3. Libraries are obsolete. Modern information technology involves two-way communication between providers and users of information technology. With instant messaging, blogs, message boards, and email, the Internet fosters information sharing among virtually unlimited numbers of information providers. Computers are communication devices that bring communities together.

The editorial ends with "Before the City of Lawrence commits to wasting millions of dollars on a new downtown library, ask yourself a few questions. When was the last time you were at the library? When was the last time you logged on? Why is that?" I think this is a good question we need to be asking our patrons also.