March 31, 2008

Super Sized National Library Week Video

The National Library Week videos keep coming. Track them at AL Focus.

Super Sized


11:20 am Comments (3)

March 28, 2008

Tune in at the Library

Recently Sarah Houghton-Jan highlighted an issue that I’ve been thinking a lot about myself lately as I’ve noticed changes in my own tv-watching behavior. She highlighted a software program called AnyTV for watching television shows (and other multimedia) on your computer and wondered what opportunities programs like these might provide for libraries. While it’s not the first such application, this type of service has really taken off during the last year, and there are now more ways and places to watch television than ever before. On websites, on cell phones, on portable players – they’re multiplying like rabbits. Watching tv shows in real-time on an actual television may be down, but my sense is that it has shifted to other mediums and become a niche market. To name just a few ways I watch tv:

All of these services require you to be connected to the internet in order to stream the video, but there’s also BitTorrent, NetFlix, iTunes, Tivo to Go, and libraries for taking shows with you on the go. I worry a lot less these days about recording shows I’m interested in since I can usually catch up with them at some point, often on the web. Some of these sites require a download (Joost), others don’t (Fancast). Amazon, iTunes, NetFlix, and MovieLink all offer movies-on-demand services that let you purchase and watch a film immediately on your computer. They generally require a separate software program to view them, but how long will it really be before there’s a Hulu-like movie site that plays in your browser?

All of which is to point out that viewing habits are changing, and that the current debate about bandwidth issues and filtering of social networking sites is just a prelude to the coming controversy about watching longer-form video on library computers. Expect to see this soon, as more and more people start using our computers to watch whole shows, movies (Hulu offers several free ones), and live events.

It’s also going to re-ignite the debate about judging content consumed by our patrons. It’s easy enough to say we don’t have the bandwidth (sadly, that’s usually true in the U.S.), but it’s more difficult when you base policy on judgment calls that some uses of a format are okay while others are not. Kind of like when we impose our personal preferences that Literature is better than trashy romance novels. Is it really the librarian’s call that I should not be using my library’s computers to watch that episode of “Lost” I missed last week? What if I’m watching PBS’ “The War” – is it okay then?

watching the KU game on the internet And what about someone like me who is a huge Kansas Jayhawks fan, who just wants to watch her team in the big dance? CBS didn’t show my game last weekend, but I was able to log in to the free NCAA Sports site on my laptop, hook it up to the TV, and still watch it. I usually miss Big 12 games because I live in Big 10 country, but now the internet is finally leveling that playing field. I still had to watch the ads, but I’m more willing to do that during a live event online. If I didn’t have broadband internet at home, though, would it have been acceptable for me to bring my own headphones and watch it at my library? Heading into a possible recession when it’s quite possible that people will be cutting costs by canceling cable subscriptions, it’s an interesting question to ponder.

If you think the YouTube, social networking, and web-based gaming debate is growing now, just wait until the general public realizes they can watch television online, too. As Sarah says at the end of her post, “I know I am opening a can of huge worms…[but] this seems like a very cool addition to me.” I’ll agree with her and hope this country gets its act together and starts installing fiber connections the way it should be. In the meantime, though, it’s helpful to recognize that this is something that is going to start happening at your library, and your staff should probably talk about it in a “here’s a heads-up” kind of way so that you’re prepared.


March 27, 2008

“You Made Me the Best Muxtape I Have”

The Muxtape site is currently all the rage, and of course the librarians are at the forefront. Exhibit A: Library muxtape by Jessamyn West. Find lots of muxtapes (online mix tapes that don’t require any plugins or downloads) to listen to on the site’s home page or on the Muxtape Wiki. It’s a great way to hear some new music, especially when it’s posted by someone you know.

Hat tip to Aaron for first twittering about the site and then having some fun with it (hurry and check it out before he changes the audio selections!).

Addendum: Check out Mixwit, too, which has a fancier interface and some extra features. [via the lo-fi librarian]


7:50 pm Comments (7)

Creating Your Library Wishlist

Jon Udell (non-librarian of LibraryLookup fame) continues to provide services for library patrons that libraries and their vendors don’t. We can debate whose role it is to provide this, but I wish my home library would adapt this and make it work for me. Speaking from the patron side of things, these kinds of lightweight solutions that do the work for me fit into the way I live and work.

LibraryLookup by Email!

This page offers an email-based version of the popular LibraryLookup service. It will alert you when a book on your Amazon wishlist becomes available in one of the Keene libraries.

If you want to try this with your own Amazon wishlist, you’ll need your own wishlist code. To find it, sign in to Amazon and follow these steps….

Lucky Keene Library patrons….

Sorry, Jon – had to out you. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. 😉


1:05 pm Comments (3)

March 25, 2008

More Positive Press about Gaming in Libraries

  • Inland Libraries Bringing in Video Games as Part of Teen Offerings

    “At the Fontana Branch Library, teen librarian Mike Jimenez formed a video game club that draws up to 50 players every Thursday. A new, soon-to-open library will host gaming tournaments run on a 26-computer network in the teen area, he said.

    Alicia Doktor, who is in charge of the teen services at Riverside Public Library, said the comic book-formatted graphic novels are strategically placed under the plasma screen to lure prospective readers. ‘Most of the time they’ll check out a book,’ she said.

    Rosas, a senior at Riverside’s North High, drives downtown to the library every day after school. Besides coming to check MySpace, he reads fiction, especially the short stories of Larry Brown. But at 3:15 p.m. Tuesdays, he’s ready to take on Guitar Hero. ” [The Press Enterprise]

  • Idaho Turns to Chess as Education Strategy

    “Mrs. McCoy does not do this because she is passionate about chess; she barely knew how to play before this school year. But she began teaching it as part of an unusual pilot program under way in more than 100 second- and third-grade classrooms across Idaho.

    On Thursday, state officials will announce in Boise that the program will be extended in the fall to all second and third graders — making Idaho the first state to offer a statewide chess curriculum….

    There are no studies showing that teaching chess has benefits for children, but there is anecdotal evidence, Mr. Luna said.

    ‘One of the things that we hear is that too much of what we do is based on rote memorization,’ Mr. Luna said. ‘The part I really like about this program is that kids are thinking ahead.’…

    Some of the benefits of the program, Mrs. McCoy said, came in unexpected areas.

    ‘I actually have one student who is originally from Russia and two Hispanic students who have limited English skills, and chess kind of leveled the playing field, and it kind of helped their self-esteem issues,’ she said. ” [New York Times]

  • Taking Play Seriously at the Public Library With Young Video Gamers

    “And you thought libraries were supposed to be quiet. Not on Friday.

    Under the Beaux-Arts arches of Astor Hall at the New York Public Library’s flagship building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, thumping hard-rock beats mixed with tennis-ball thwacks and the screech of burning tires late Friday afternoon, as the library showed off the latest addition to its collections of books, films, music and maps: video games….

    ‘What we’re seeing is that in addition to simply helping bring kids into the library in the first place, games are having a broader effect on players, and they have the potential to be a great teaching tool,’ Mr. [Jack] Martin said. ‘If a kid takes a test and fails, that’s it. But in a game, if you fail you get to take what you’ve learned and try again.’

    ‘In a lot of these games you have to understand the rules, you have to understand the game’s world, its story. For some games you have to understand its history and the characters in order to play effectively.’…

    Across the hall, Radhames Saldivar, 16, a 10th grader from upper Manhattan, ripped through a blistering rendition of Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ on Guitar Hero III. Afterward he said: ‘I never thought I’d see this happen. I might have to check out the library some more.’

    A few feet away, Carlos Rivera, 16, said he helped organize the regular Friday afternoon game sessions at the Jefferson Market library branch in Greenwich Village.

    ‘I thought a library was just for books, just for studying, just for a lot of things I don’t normally do,’ he said. ‘But when I found out the library was starting to have games it was great, because it’s really good to hear that the library is paying more attention to the youth and what we’re into.’

    He paused. ‘And it’s also good because I can just say to my parents, ‘I’m going to the library.’ ‘ ” [New York Times

  • Check out this video of a gaming tournament at the Johnson County Library, in which librarian Chris Koppenhavor talks about the benefits of gaming. Go JoCo, my childhood library system!

7:58 pm Comments (6)

Another Librarian with a Wii

Congratulations to Naomi, a school librarian who won the Wii from the fundraiser Michael Stephens and I held for LISHost. Blake wrote a script that randomly generated a name from the list of donors, and hers was the name that came up.

Naomi, our Wii winner

Thank you to everyone who donated money for this cause. With your help, we raised $823 with just one Wii!


6:56 am Comments (1)

March 24, 2008

New Series of National Library Week Videos

With National Library Week right around the corner, AL Focus will be releasing a series of videos to help promote it this year. American Libraries’ editor Dan Kraus based them on some of the statistics from ALA’s Quotable Facts about America’s Libraries brochure. Watch for the rest of them to appear on Focus during the next few weeks.

National Library Week: Reference Desk

You’re welcome to use the intro to create your own promotional videos for NLW. To grab it, follow these instructions:


2:06 pm Comments (4)

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