January 30, 2008

Tag Clouds Aren't Just for Folksonomies Anymore

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 10:16 pm

At various times during the last year, I’ve heard a librarian here and there say that tags and tag clouds are a passing fad, something our patrons don’t even know about let alone use, and useless compared to structured search.
However, thinking that tags are only about classification (good or bad) is missing the forest for the trees. Tag clouds can also be useful as navigation tools and for pattern recognition. Which is the name of Jason Griffey’s blog and must be why Jason helps prove this point.
2008 State of the Union as Tag Cloud

“Last year’s 2007 State of the Union Tag Cloud was such a hit, I decided to follow up again this year. A few major differences: Congress is mentioned a lot more this year, while health and oil don’t show up at all. This year’s address looks more active…instead of ‘fight’ we get ‘fighting.’ ” [Pattern Recognition]

January 29, 2008

Text Live Homework Help

Filed under: precat — tsladmin @ 8:50 pm

McCracken County Public Library: Text Live Homework Help
Originally uploaded by The Shifted Librarian
Brilliant marketing idea from the McCracken County Public Library

Browsing the Virtual New Bookshelf

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 4:51 pm

Allen County Public Library has a cool way to browse its “new books” section online. Superpatron Ed Vielmetti first coded a “wall of books” a couple of years ago, and Mike Cunningham wrote a book cover browser for the 2006 Talis Mashing up the Library Contest, but this is the first public library implementation I’ve seen of something like this.

Books We Added to the Catalog Yesterday
Allen County Public Library Wall of New Books

Personally, I’d prefer to go straight to the catalog record when I click on a cover, but this is a great way to translate some of the warm fuzzies surrounding physical books in our buildings to our online catalogs. As someone who never goes to my home library for new books because they are embargoed from checkout for a week (even when I am holding them in my hand), this would be a far easier way for me to browse new books remotely without having to strain my eyes reading through three hundred lines of text. As a user (not a librarian), I’d also love to see the summary of the book appear in a mouseover and have this list broken out by genre. If my library offered these things and threw in NetFlix-style delivery, they’d have a devoted follower for life.

January 28, 2008

More Gaming in the Library

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 8:34 am

Putting for Dollars: Library Raises More than $10,000 with Golf Fundraiser

“Winter winds and swirling snow failed to dampen the enthusiasm that greeted the inaugural miniature golf championship held at the Southworth Library on Dartmouth Street on Sunday afternoon.
‘We were a bit worried when we saw the snow, but we had a great turnout in spite of the weather,’ said Dolly Sharek, treasurer of the library foundation. ‘We had 274 golfers sign up, and we raised just over $10,000.’
As attendance reached its peak at around 2 p.m., all of the 100 putters borrowed for the occasion were in use on the 18-hole course that wound its way around the stacks on both floors, and a line had formed at the registration table.
Golfers of all ages were challenged by the unique aspect of the library course, which explored all corners of the building with a 10th hole that teed off on the second floor and finished on the first.
Some of those taking on the newly installed circuit were evidently more practiced than others.
The seventh hole brought library trustee Paul Pereira to his knees — and it was not to line up a putt. He was trying to retrieve his ball from beneath one of the stacks.” [SouthCoastToday.com]

Viewing the ALA Universe

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 6:47 am

I ran into a frustrating issue at work last week. To try to help solve it, I created the ALA Universe in order to help staff track some of what’s going on internally. I had just received an invite to the beta of Netvibes Ginger, the new version that lets you create a public page anyone can view, so I decided to test it by creating this resource. I sent an email about it to all staff and encouraged them to sign up for their own accounts if they want to also track their unit’s blogs, wikis, etc. Then they could add the feed for new documents added to our internal knowledge management system. We’ll see if anyone finds it useful, but I’ve already gotten a few comments from staff who think it will be valuable to them.

ALA Universe

I could have used SuperGlu instead, the way I did two years ago for the La Grange Park Public Library proof-of-concept, but I wanted a scannable view, rather than a river of news. Michael Stephens has posted about Netvibes several times with other examples that might give you ideas for how you could use the site. Ginger should go live for everyone in a couple of weeks.

January 25, 2008

I Want

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 8:26 pm

I received a “mysterious” email today, which led me to the official website (nothing there yet), and then to Amazon to get details. They had a great trailer for the game, but I was surprised to find that you can only “share” their video links via email to one person. Go figure. So then I went to YouTube, where I found several trailers, all of which I could embed here if I wanted to.
Talk about narrative in games. I’m a puzzle gamer, so this is now at the top of my list. Even if you’re not, though, it’s worth it to watch the trailer, as it’s more interesting than many Hollywood movie trailers.

Some of the People I Work with Are a Lot of Fun

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 12:44 pm

Dancing with the ALA Stars

January 23, 2008

My Favorite Picture from Midwinter

Filed under: precat — tsladmin @ 10:08 pm

Originally uploaded by ALA – The American Library Association

You can see more pictures from Midwinter on the main ALA Flickr account, including my second favorite photo.

Specialized Gaming Sites

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 7:03 am

In doing research for my LTR, I came across some sites for specific gaming audiences, so I thought I’d share them here, just to give a sense of how pervasve gaming truly has become. I was so pressed for space in the new format that unfortunately, none of these made it into the final manuscript.

  • Hide and Seek – “Hide and Seek is a version of the popular real world game. In this game, one player has to hide in a MSN Virtual Earth map and the other one has to find him. To make it easier to find the other player can ask some questions with Yes/No answer. If the player who is hidden in the map doesn’t know the answer, he can use MSN Search in the same game to search the Web.”
  • ClickGamer – “Clickgamer is the world’s fastest growing mobile games D2C portal for a variety of hand held devices including Windows Mobile, Symbian Smartphone, PALM, J2ME, RIM Blackberry, iPod and PSP. We stock only the best games and deliver them directly to the customer’s mobile phone and/or PC and MAC.”
    Tangent for Aaron: I can buy Linerider for my Treo!
  • Lesbian Gamers – “Lesbian Gamers is about one thing lesbians that play video games. There are loads of lesbian gamers out there and that’s why we’ve started lesbian gamers.com. We’ll be covering stories of interest to lesbian gamers. All done with a little twist of tongue in cheek humor.”
  • Gamer Dad – “Welcome to the GamerDad community and website! What you’ll find here is a mix of mainstream parents who are generally clueless about games and looking for help and hardcore gamers who have started families without putting aside the gamepad and their favorite geek pursuits. There’s nothing wrong with that! The average video gamer is now 29 years old (according to the Entertainment Software Association) and, lets face it, if you’ve never played a video game, this stuff is hard to figure out.”
    I was already quite familiar with this site, but I want to highlight it because it’s so useful, especially for non-gamer parents and librarians. They’ve also just debunked the 2007 Mediawise Videogame Report Card, something that needed doing that I just didn’t have the time to do when it came out. Resources available here include a videogame review archive and a blog to help you stay current. Don’t be fooled by the title, as there are gamermoms here, too.
  • Literature Inspired Games database from MobyGames – “Games based off works of literature, previously published, and characters from those works. This can include novels and short stories, published in books, magazines, in e-books or even online as text.”
    These are computer- and console-based games, both modern and classic. This one came from a reader, although now I can’t find how the person notified me about it. If this was you, thanks!
  • Second Life Games – “The Second Life Games blog started out being strictly about games in the virtual world of Second Life. It’s grown a bit. We get art shows, dip a bit into Web 2.0 stuff, and even take a look at Alternate Reality Games. Basically, if it’s an unusual way to play, I feature it here. Oh, and we love indy game creators.”
    At a dinner during Midwinter, a few of us involved in a new ALA grant (more details about that coming soon) debated whether Second Life is a game or not. As a result, the discussion turned to “what is a game,” which is an ongoing conversation within our group. This site, however, is the middle ground.

January 21, 2008

ProQuest Widgets

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 8:41 pm

In my previous job, one of my tasks was to create authentication scripts for remote access to databases for my libraries. This was something I proactively pursued because most of my libraries didn’t have a programmer on staff who knew how to create these scripts, let alone a server to run them on. Now that I’m not there anymore, those scripts are no longer available, and it’s upsetting to think that those libraries can no longer offer that service to their patrons.
But some vendors are starting to understand that helping libraries increase usage of the databases they’re purchasing is not just a good thing to do but is good business, as well. RSS is a great step in that direction, so I’ve been more than happy to highlight ProQuest’s and EBSCO’s efforts, and I was gratified to learn recently that OCLC is working on providing RSS from WorldCat and FirstSearch (via a message in Facebook).
Another promising step in this direction is the new ProQuest Search Widget creator, a tool that gives subscribers the code to add search boxes to any web page. You can specify a database to be searched, include your proxy server’s address, add specific terms to the search for automatic “and” functionality, and even change the color and border of the box.

ProQuest Search Widget creator

When the user enters a search term, if they’re within an authenticated IP range or using your proxy server (if you have one), they’ll get right to the search results. If not, they’ll be prompted to log in.

ProQuest search results

Tip: If you know a little HTML, you can include the ProQuest logo in the code by default and then change it to be your own logo afterwards if you want to add the search box to non-library pages.
Speaking of where you could put this widget, ProQuest gives you some ideas and even provides some mock-ups as suggestions, but the general idea is to put it anywhere and everywhere your users may be. In some of the example screenshots, you can see how nicely the search box complements an RSS feed of new, subject-specific items from the database. The examples are all for an academic library, but this works just as well for school libraries (classroom project pages), public libraries (municipality sites, park district pages, parent network pages), and even special libraries (intranets). Add in your library’s logo, and you have a fairly simple, yet powerful, way to get your services off your site and into the intertubes your users are using.
Sidenote: After almost three years of promises, ProQuest is finally scheduled to roll out RSS in April. Finally, but hooray!

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