Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Finally, a service to help people find information!

This morning I happened to catch The Today Show on NBC. My librarian ears went up when I heard them talking about Five Phone Numbers That Will Change Your Life.

One number listed was: Ask a question … any question!

Auburn University’s Foy Information Line, 334-844-4244
Students at Auburn University in Alabama, armed with the Internet and, as a last resort, reference books, will answer any question you can conceive of, 24 hours a day, Monday to Thursday (during the school year). The hot line started in the 1950s as a resource for students at Auburn who were trying to locate campus services and find information about grades or course schedules. Over the years, it has evolved into a no-holds-barred information database. It is one of the nation’s longest-running services of its kind. It’s technically the “Foy Information Line,” named after the Foy Student Union building that the phone service operates from, and it is free for anyone to call. They’ve gotten questions from callers as far away as Australia, about questions ranging from how many Oreos it would take to circle the globe to what’s the longest nontechnical word in the English language? It’s perfect for when you can’t get to Google. The hot line operates 24 hours during the week and until 9 p.m. on weekends.

I do give great credit for offering this service. I think as librarians we need to see what they are offering we might not be - such as 24 hour service to anyone. Also, I do have to wonder....
ummmmmm....has anybody at the Today Show heard of the reference librarian??

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Amazon's Kindle equals demise of libraries???

"Even so, Amazon's reader is still exciting. The reading experience it creates is just as pleasant and immersive as a book. And more important, it isn't a book; it's a library. The Kindle may be among the first devices that start to shift the way people accumulate literature, transforming shelves of books into a single device that can ride around in a briefcase. "

Interesting quote from a Forbes article that was somewhat critical of the new e-book reader from Amazon. If you have not heard about this device, I encourage you to read about it. The most fascinating aspect is the ability to download e-books to the reader wirelessly no matter where you are located.

In this article, Jeff Bezos describes Kindle in detail. The article even mentions libraries.

"Bezos explains that it's only fair to charge less for e-books because you can't give them as gifts, and due to restrictive antipiracy software, you can't lend them out or resell them. (Libraries, though, have developed lending procedures for previous versions of e-books—like the tape in "Mission: Impossible," they evaporate after the loan period—and Bezos says that he's open to the idea of eventually doing that with the Kindle.)"

If the book is our brand, what happens to libraries when the physical book is no longer needed?

You never foresee a future without the book. Google and others are scanning in a million of them, or more, a year. This pace will only get better as the process becomes more developed. Think about it from the standpoint of a patron. Go to a library to get a book, or find it on your portable device. Wiser generations might think this is outrageous, but how many pretweens and teens do you know that does not own a portable device.

I hope that at the Texas Library Assocation December summit, Transforming Texas Libraries, that we look at not only the short term solutions, but what libraries are facing long term and how we can best prepare ourselves for this future.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Texas Book Festival Library Grants

Deadline: January 12, 2008
The Texas Book Festival grants are now available on the Texas Book Festival web site at http://www.texasbookfestival.org/Library_Grants.php. Three different grants are again being offered this year: 1) The Literacy Initiative Grants will fund programs that support the public library role for community reading and learning; 2) The 21st Century Innovation - Library Technology Grants will assist with the purchase of technology-related services or products; and 3) The old favorite, the Book Funding grants which help libraries add books to their collections. Be sure to read the guidelines completely.
**Please note that the Literacy & Technology grants are limited to one application per library system. Book grants are limited to one application per branch with a limit of four per library system.**
If you have questions concerning the grants, please feel free to contact Myra Zatopek, Texas State Library, at (mzatopek@tsl.state.tx.us or 800.252.9386) or the Texas Library Association (800.580.2852).

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

North Texas Regional Library System - Shared Integrated Library System

Yesterday, we had our meeting on the shared catalog, or Shared Integrated Library System (SILS). It was a great meeting where about 35 of us discussed what questions needs to be addressed to make a shared system a reality. In the end, we had nine libraries at the meeting indicate that they would migrate to a SILS within two years if they could convince their city/county. With this in mind, we are moving forward with Phase I of the project. NTRLS’ first step was to submit a scope change to the Texas State Library (TSL) asking permission to focus some of our resources on this endeavor. I did this today and should hear back from TSL by the end of the week.

After I receive this approval, we will then develop a Request for Quotation (RFQ) to release to the public. We hope to get some firm costs for the consortium that can be used in a Cost Benefit Tool. This tool will be used to justify to cities/counties the benefits of SILS.

If you are interested in participating in Phase I of this project, you must let me know by November 30th. We plan to release the RFQ on December 1st. Once we have the firm numbers from the RFQ, it will be difficult to change them because these numbers will be used for the Cost Benefit Tool.

Here are the libraries that I know of wishing to participate in Phase I. Alvarado Public Library; Aubrey Public Library; Boyce Ditto Public Library; Bridgeport Public Library; Crowley Public Library; Decatur Public Library; Frisco Public Library; Haltom City Public Library; Hood County Public Library; Kennedale Public Library; Mansfield Public Library; and Roanoke Public Library.

I have created a page on ntrls.org that outlines the project. It includes a proposed timeline and the handouts from the kick-off meeting. You can find it at: http://www.ntrls2.org/default.asp?action=article&ID=287.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Final Day of Conference

Yesterday was the last day of the Internet Librarian conference. It was a great trip. I met librarians from many states, Canada and even England.

The morning keynote speaker was Danny Sullivan who began searchenginewatch.com but has now started searchengineland.com. His talk concentrated on the future of search and what we can expect. He showed how many predictions from 2001 have come true – more personalized searching, social sites and federated searching. He also mentioned how we have moved from an environment of browsing and discovery to search – and very specific searching at that.

Whereas federated searching focused on horizontal searching, the personalized sites focus more on vertical searching. The Google Universal Search will personalize searches through their personalized searching link and re-order sites based on bookmarks, search history, and your home page.

Mary Ellen Bates presented a program on Alternative and Customized Search Engines. She went through many sites – very quickly I might add. I didn’t get all the details down, but will share some of the sites you might want to check out. Intelways, SRCHR, Scandoo (this one really looked interesting as it gives sites ratings based on malware, phishing and offensive content in real time).

Do you ever need to find a particular sound and do not know where to look? Try Findsounds for a variety of noises you can use.

As far as customized search engines, try the Yahoo Search Builder at builder.search.yahoo.com, or Google coop at www.google.com/coop/cse. I have not had time to try these myself but many in the audience had and recommended both sites.

Greg Notiss discussed Search Engine Strategies: Digging Deeper. Many of the sites he shared seemed to be more useful for deep research and academic environments. The three I noted were: www.nap.edu for the National Academies Press which had many free full text books and journals; the Wayback Machine which searches archives and caches of sites from 1996 – 8/12 months ago; and www.zuula.com.

He also suggested that you look at the border areas of webpages to find richer content. In addition, look for tabs and other links to uncluster the results which will provide more varied sites. On Google, this link is listed after the last search result.

I had to fly out before the conference ended so I missed the closing keynote. I have much information to process and practice with anyway so it is probably just as well. Knowledge fatigue may be setting in!

If you get the chance next year, attend this great conference!