August 31, 2007

A Musical Tribute to the Modern Librarian (Plus a Game!)

Addy Will Know: A New Song for the Modern Librarian 

“Librarians have appeared in pop culture as shushers, spinsters, even sex symbols. What about solvers of great conundrums, masters and mistresses of organization, purveyors of intellectual freedom?!

‘Addy Will Know’ avoids the stereotypes. Serving as a musical tribute to the modern librarian, it is about  a real librarian who leads a lost  patron to the four books he is looking for. The names of the books are never mentioned, but as a kind of puzzle, the song itself includes call numbers that correspond to the books hinted at in the verses.

Since ‘Addy Will Know’ is essentially a song about you, the modern librarian, we want you to participate!

1. Be in our video!

Record yourself singing the song at work or school, upload your video to sendspace / yousendit /etc, and then email us the link. We will edit your video with all the others, creating a video collage of modern librarians.

2. Enter our contest!

Be one of the first 10 librarians to identify the books of the call numbers mentioned in the song and you will win a copy of the new cd ‘Crawl Inside Your Head.’ Read our contest rules and then email your answers here. Once the winners are chosen we will post their names here on the wiki.

3. Get your local college radio station to play the song.

‘Addy’ will hit the college airwaves September 3, 2007. Contact your local college or university radio station now and request that they ‘ADD ADDY!’ from SNMNMNM’s ‘Crawl Inside Your Head.’ You can find contact information for the stations in your area at: http://www.quadphonic.com

Help us give librarians the recognition they deserve! Post the link to this wiki [addywillknow.pbwiki.com] to the listservs and blogs you contribute to.

Hope you like the song!

-Seamus and Mark and Matt and Matt” [Thanks, Jessica!]

You can also listen to the song on the wiki – catchy. I look forward to seeing what librarians do with this. :)


8:54 pm Comments (4)

August 28, 2007

Blurring Blog Boundaries

In some of my presentations this year, I’ve been talking about how the blog has become its own type of platform that you can embed almost anything in – audio (podcasts), video, screencasts/slideshows, pictures, maps, forms, chat, text messages, and more. A library could offer a dynamic, multimedia-based website primarily through a blog these days, all of which would flow out as an RSS feed.

This is another growing expectation I have as a blogger, that I can take any piece of content that lives somewhere else and embed it into my blog using just a snippet of code provided by the site itself. Today I wished that NPR offered snippets so I could easily embed their audio segments here, thereby putting it in my lifestream and making it immediately accessible to others instead of keeping it hostage on their site.


6:14 pm Comments (2)

August 24, 2007

Maybe This Is Where Library Ebook Programs Are Going Wrong

CafeScribe Gives Ebook Readers Musty Smell of the Real Thing

“…ebook content provider CafeScribe is going pretty low-tech to give your laptop screen the same scent as a textbook: the company is shipping “musty-smelling” scratch-and-sniff stickers with every ebook order. The promotion comes in response to a survey showing that 43 percent of students identified smell as the thing they most liked about their favorite books….” [Engadget]


6:19 am Comments (5)

Google Gears Had Me at Hello

During the last two years, pretty much every aspect of my life has changed, with things only now just starting to settle down. For the first time during that window, I took a month off (August) and am not doing any travel or presentations for work. Instead, I’ve spent a small portion of this newly-recovered time trying to re-establish routines that long ago fell by the wayside.

One of those routines is how I keep up, something I haven’t been doing very well during this time. I’ve been experimenting with different aggregators, trying to find one that makes me more efficient that I can access while on the go. I’d given up on the mobile access, mainly because I was looking at it through the lens of my Treo since it’s the one internet access point I always have with me. It took me a while, but I finally got around to trying Google Reader, and so far I’m pretty impressed, mainly because of Google Gears. Besides the fact that it’s pretty cool, it’s incredibly useful if you’re a laptop user and I think it has the potential to play an important role in the next few years.

Basically, Google Gears is code that anyone can embed in their online tools to make them available offline. It’s integrated into Google Reader via a one-time install that doesn’t even require you to restart your browser. Once activated, a little icon appears in the upper right-hand corner, green for online, purple for offline.

It sounds simple enough, but here’s what happens when you click the green button. Gears downloads all of the posts in your Reader (minus the images) so that you can keep reading when you’re offline. You can still use the standard keyboard commands to navigate and quickly scan your news, just as if you were online. When you do get back to a live connection, you click on the purple icon, Reader goes back online, and it synchronizes your un/read items back to the Google servers, including any items you starred for future reference.

Google Gears offline –or– Google Gears online

Now that I have a laptop I am willing to carry back and forth to work, Gears has been a godsend. I load up feeds at home in the morning, go offline, read them on the train, go online before leaving work, load up my aggregator again, go offline, read new items on the train, and then synchronize again when I get back home. I’ve had so little time lately (moving to a new house could be a full time job in itself!) that this has been the only way I’ve been able to track the online world for the past couple of months.

Remember the Milk offline

Like other disruptive technologies such as digital video recorders (like Tivo), MP3 players, and feed readers, it’s changing how I interact with information/media, especially since other sites can use Gears, thereby offering their services even when the user is offline. The other place I have used it is on the to-do site Remember the Milk. One day I logged in there and could magically add Gears to it. Now I can manage my lists on the train, at the airport, or anywhere else (as long as I’ve remembered to click on that icon and tell Gears to take that site offline so I could keep using it). These days I really wish I could add Gears to WordPress so that I could also blog while reading my aggregator. I wonder how long it will be before Google adds this functionality to Blogger, Google Docs, etc.? And what if the rumored gPhone includes Gears in an ebook reader, mobile Google Apps suite, Gmail, etc.? The combination of mobile and offline could be powerful.

It’s a great idea, one that has already helped me. It’s not as useful for you if you’re not a laptop user, but it’s still an interesting idea to think about. Eventually, wireless broadband will be ubiquitous and mainstream, and we’ll just never be offline. But we’re a few years away from that, and I’m now wondering if there are any library services that could benefit from incorporating Gears so that users can keep accessing them when offline. It’s probably not possible to make the catalog available this way, and really, what patron would think to take the catalog offline to keep searching it (plus, you’d lose accurate shelf status). Maybe there are other pieces, though.

This type of tool is a bridge to an approaching future when we’re all a live IP address all the time, wherever we are, so it’s something I’m keeping in the back of my mind. Especially when I’m offline.

It will be interesting to see if other sites implement Gears, and maybe it will even show up on InfoDoodads list of the Top 13 Web 2.0 Tools for Librarians. We’ll see.


August 23, 2007

Beloit List for Librarians

This year’s Beloit College Mindset List (for the class of 2011) came out yesterday. I love these lists because they point out to me how much things have changed since I was a teenager. I think of myself as being somewhere around the age of 24, even though I’m well more than a decade past that, so it’s helpful for me to have reminders that my view of the world is shaped by different forces than those who come after me. Logically, I know these things, but the Beloit List always brings these thoughts to the forefront when I read facts like the following.

  1. What Berlin wall?
  2. They never “rolled down” a car window.
  3. “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
  4. Music has always been “unplugged.”
  5. Most phone calls have never been private.
  6. The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born. (I quibble a bit with this, but certainly they’ve grown up with it.)

So this got me thinking about what a Beloit College Mindset List focused on libraries for the class of 2011 might include. Adding to numbers 3, 4, and 6 above, here are a few broad strokes I came up with that we should take into consideration when re-examining our services (remembering that these don’t apply just to current freshmen).

  • Their cell phones have always let them access information, not just people, wherever they are.
  • Video games have always been a social activity.
  • They have always had to narrow down search results (rather than expand them).
  • They have always used a different medium to communicate with their friends than with adults.
  • They may never write a check. (I don’t think I need the “may,” but just in case.)
  • They think of communication in 160-character chunks.
  • Their default expectation is wireless access.
  • They have never started a search at an “advanced” screen.
  • They store information and documents on keychains.
  • They have always copied and pasted.
  • “.” is pronounced “dot,” not “period.”

I’ve expressed all of these ideas before here and as part of my “information shifting” presentations, and I know others have pointed these things out for years. But these behaviors/characteristics are becoming more and more pervasive every year. If you’re like me and you graduated from library school in the last century, this is a great jumping off point for thinking about specific behaviors (and changes in behaviors) that affect things like the reference interview, information foraging, search boxes, etc.


August 22, 2007

Peace Train

I don’t know who filmed this, but Michael Porter has posted unauthorized video from the big inaugural party at Annual. ;) Be sure to move all liquids and sharp objectives at least three feet away before pressing play.


5:09 pm Comments (1)

Online Gaming Is More Popular than Facebook and YouTube

Gaming Remains the Most Popular Online Entertainment Activity

“Playing games is still a more popular online activity in the U.S. than watching short video clips or visiting social networking websites, according to Casual Gaming Market Update, a new report from Parks Associates. Thirty-four percent of U.S. adult Internet users play online games on a weekly basis, compared with 29% who watch short online videos and 19% who visit social networking sites with the same frequency.” [Parks Associates, <em>via a note from Val on Facebook</em>]

online gaming is more popular than facebook and youtube

We need to fund libraries properly so that they can provide computers and bandwidth to support all of these activities.


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