September 7, 2010

My Last Paperback?

Filed under: blog — Tags: , , , , , , — jenny @ 8:59 pm

A couple of years ago, my brother bought me a first generation Kindle for my birthday. At first I used it quite a bit, but then in 2009 I started reading a series of books I knew I’d want to highlight the heck out of and physically share with others (Here Comes Everybody, Community, Groundswell, What Would Google Do, You Are Not a Gadget, Switch, etc.), so I switched to print reading.
It wasn’t as conscious a decision as that summary makes it sound. Both of us in the house wanted to read them, so buying for the Kindle just wasn’t practical. All of a sudden, months had gone by and I realized I hadn’t used the device in quite a while, so I pulled it back out. I was also feeling a pull to go back to using it because of Will Richardson’s post about, explaining how I’d finally be able to get my highlighted text out of an ebook.
One thing that post made me realize is how print has become a barrier to my blogging about books I’m reading because I don’t have time to transcribe the passages I’d want to refer to in my writing. And like others, I was worried that buying a book in Kindle format meant I’d lose it if I ever stopped using that particular device. Luckily, though, Amazon finally figured out it needed to make its books software-based instead of hardware-dependent, so I feel like this is less of an issue now that Kindle books live on multiple platforms.

my highlighted text from "Hamlet's Blackberry"
I have 347 highlights from “Hamlet’s Blackberry” that have automatically been transcribed for me!

(Side note to publishers and bookstores: you still need to move to a universal format. This doesn’t let you off the hook for working this out.)
This left one major barrier to a complete conversion to ebooks, one I thought I was still struggling with – the sharing. But when I read Clay Shirky’s book Cognitive Surplus and realized I’d have to manually type all of those interesting quotes… well, that’s when my personal practicality started to tip the scale away from print towards electronic. In fact, my desire to share those passages widely has actually trumped my traditional love of sharing physical books locally.
This revelation astounded me. I knew my desire to share content was the prime driver of the format I was choosing, but I didn’t realize how quickly it was shifting in the opposite direction. I now want to share one-to-many, not one-to-one, and I just don’t have the time or resources to transcribe everything I want to share. It makes me sad to look at that long list of print books I’ve read over the past year that I likely won’t share here because I can’t copy and paste.
Around this same time, I realized I wanted to take a fiction break, and I knew exactly what I wanted to read – Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End – a book Eli Neiburger had recommended to me as the most realistic picture of libraries and information in the future (boy was he right, but that’s a discussion for another post). I’ve wanted to read it for quite a while, but I’ve been trying to move my fiction reading to ebooks, and this particular title isn’t available electronically.
I really needed that fiction break, though, so I broke down and bought the paperback. I get in most of my reading on the train to and from work, and while hardcovers aren’t exactly a convenient format, this paperback was even less so. It’s obviously been a while since I’ve read a paperback, because I found myself thinking the format was awkward and annoying. If it had been a different story, I might have even given up on it, but it made me realize this was likely my last such purchase. I might still buy a print book here and there for the pictures or for the trophy shelf, but I’m not sure what would make me buy a mass market paperback again. (Apparently I’m not alone in this opinion.)
So I’m back to using my Kindle, remembering what I loved so much about it at the beginning, to the point where I’ve even ordered a new third generation version because I love the focused nature of a dedicated ebook reader. That may change in the future, but for now I’m definitely a specialist, enjoying how the device lets me focus on reading without distractions. (That first generation Kindle can’t ever leave the family, because Cory Doctorow was kind enough to sign it two years ago, so I’ll be keeping it for pretty much ever.)
However, I’m also recognizing new benefits I hadn’t picked up on before. I’ve had a couple of serious bouts of insomnia in my life, which I finally cured by reading like crazy until I fell asleep. The unfortunate side effect of this solution was that I trained myself to fall asleep when reading books. The rhythm of the train doesn’t help either, and by the end of the week I’m so tired that I usually drift off on the train ride home, regardless of how much I enjoy the book itself.
Interestingly, though, I don’t fall asleep on the train quite as often with the Kindle, although it does still happen. Apparently a book is a print book is an ebook to my brain, but electronic ink seems to keep me awake a tiny bit better (but not too awake to be a problem at night). I just finished reading Hamlet’s Blackberry, and I found that I read more of it at a time because I stayed awake. I’m also reading faster on the Kindle than I was in print, which I don’t remember noticing before. Finally, I tend to highlight more, knowing that it will all be searchable in the end.
Of course, your mileage may vary, but I think I’ve finally crossed over to the ebook side. I’ll have to go to bookstores and the library just to touch new books for old time’s sake. Only time will tell if there’s a “feature” of print books that can draw me back. My reasons for converting are definitely an edge case, and I haven’t been a heavy user of print resources in libraries in quite some time, but I can’t help but wonder how this type of shift will affect libraries. I see more and more ereaders on my commute every day.

February 19, 2008

What Do Games Have to Do with Literacy?

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 10:48 pm

I’ve been telling everyone who will listen about Paul Waelchli’s work mapping the ACRL Information Literacy Standards to skills used to play popular videogames. I’ve been waiting for someone to do the same thing for school libraries, and now we have our first step towards that goal because Brian Mayer has mapped New York State’s education standards to some modern board games.
Gaming, School Libraries and the Curriculum

“Games engage students with authentic leisure experiences while reinforcing a variety of social, literary and curricular skills. When an educational concept is introduced and reinforced during a game, it is internalized as part of an enjoyable experience and further utilized as one aspect of a strategy to attain success.
Games also carry other benefits. They help students connect and build social skills, working as part of a team or negotiating the most advantageous situation for themselves. It also provides an opportunity for students to to explore a host of life skills not inherent in the curriculum , but important for success. Some of these include: micro-managing resources and options; actively re-evaluating, re-prioritizing and re-adjusting goals based on uncertain and shifting situations; determining acceptable losses in an effort to obtain an end goal; and employing analytical and critical skills to more authentic social experiences.
Here is a list of NYS standards currently supported by a well established school game library:
NYS Social Studies Standards:

  • Standard 3: Geography Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live—local, national, and global—including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth’s surface.
  • Standard 4: Economics Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of how the United States and other societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, how major decision-making units function in the U.S. and other national economies, and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and non-market mechanisms.

Several more are listed in the post, so please click through to see just how good a fit this can be.
If you still question whether there are literacies (especially information-related ones) involved in playing videogames, ask yourself if those same things happen around playing board games. If your answer is that yes, they do, what then is the difference between learning those skills through board games and learning them through videogames? Brian’s work helps illustrate the similarities but even more importantly, it shows how easily a school library could start out with the familiar world of board games as a way to implement gaming services and engage students more interactively in learning information literacy skills. Thanks, Brian!

February 18, 2008

Lots of Happenings in LibraryLand

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 11:13 pm

Superpatron Ed Vielmetti is speculating that Ann Arbor District Library might be getting ready to connect Twitter and the Library. Not that I’m putting any pressure on AADL, but if anyone was going to do it, I’d expect it to be them.

“Once upon a time I built a ‘superpatronbot‘ that searched the AADL catalog via a Jabber bot – quite reasonably you could build one of these upon Twitter’s direct message listings. Useful? Perhaps, especially if I could link a Twitter account to my library card and then be able to twitter
d aadl reserve anatomy of a murder dvd
and have it do a hold on it for me (or return some disambiguator if there were multiple choices).”

You can find the new, announcements Twitter feed for AADL at
If you want to ask AADL staff what they’re up to these days, head to the Library Camp taking place there on March 20. It’s free to attend, and the discussions are sure to fire up your brain.
I won’t be able to attend because I will be kicking off the day at the SOLINET/OCLC CAPCON event Changing the Way Libraries Do Business: Meeting the Challenges of the Web 2.0 World in Arlington, Virginia. I’ll be giving an overview of 2.0, but I’m really looking forward to hearing the other speakers for the day – Kate Sheehan, Jamie Coniglio, Jennifer Howell, and Karen Calhoun. You can still register, and you attend, please be sure to say hi.
If you can’t make either of these great events, you can try for Library Camp Kansas the day before, on March 19, another unconference that promises some great discussions.

February 15, 2008

Syracuse Library Game Lab Gets Funding from Gaylord

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 6:17 am

Shout out to Gaylordg for helping get this project off the ground.
Professor receives grant to bring gaming to libraries, other campuses

“[Scott] Nicholson, an associate professor in the School of Information Studies, recently received a $5,000 grant from Gaylord Brothers, a library supply company located in Syracuse, to begin building a portable library game lab. Money from the grant will specifically go toward purchasing projectors, consoles, screens, accessories and games, Nicholson said.
‘This was a great way for Gaylord to support Syracuse University, the community and gaming libraries in general,; said Henry Orr, director of business development at Gaylord. He also noted that the credit for the grant should go to Gaylord’s President and CEO Guy Marhewka….
Nicholson’s goal is to explore the implications of offering gaming as a library service. Additionally, he hopes to study the entire gaming experience and how gaming will change the attitudes of students toward the library.
‘Gaming activities are like the new coffee shop in Bird Library; it’s not about the coffee so much as the social atmosphere it creates,’ Nicholson said….
‘Gaming is currently the wild, wild west of libraries,’ Orr said….
The Library Game Lab project will occur in three main phases, depending on the availability of outside funding. Nicholson has been working on the first phase of the project for the past year, working with students to survey libraries and how they view gaming….
The project’s current phase, to create a portable library game lab, will be followed by the next phase, to increase awareness about the project.
‘With this project, I will travel to library conferences and expose librarians to the spectrum of games, talk about what types of games are best for certain demographic groups with libraries and collect more data about what is happening,’ Nicholson said.
The third and final phase of the project will be to set up research projects, which will explore how the different types of games relate to different types of people.
‘This will be the ongoing life of the lab – to analyze new games and game types, to recommend the best games for different goals and demographic groups and to work with industry to help them create gaming experiences more suited for a library/school setting,’ Nicholson said.
Nicholson said as soon as he is able to secure more funding to build the program, he hopes to start aggressively drawing in students to help with the project. So far he has relied heavily on volunteers to help with research and promoting the program. In addition, Nicholson is teaching a graduate-level iSchool class in May on gaming in libraries, and it has already received considerable student interest.
There has been both support and criticism from the Syracuse community at large regarding the Library Game Lab, but Nicholson said the key is getting people to understand that this is not about ‘first person shooters,’ but rather about ‘understanding how gaming works as a service and how libraries and schools can be engaged.’ ” [The Daily Orange]

February 13, 2008

Win a Wii and Thank Blake, All at the Same Time

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 11:30 am

If you’re a regular online, you probably know or know of Blake Carver. Even if you’ve never met him, you know his work. He’s been running and maintaining the incredible LISNews hub since 1999. This contribution alone is why many of us admire him for his dedication and vision.
In 2002, Blake started LISHost, an affordable website hosting service for libraries and libraries. On the very rare occasion the LISHost server goes down, you can tell something’s amiss because half the known LIS world must house their sites there. I do, as does Michael Stephens, and we can both tell you from first-hand experience that Blake does a superhuman job of maintaining the server (especially security) and providing technical support.
I can’t think of a time when Blake hasn’t responded immediately when there was a problem, when he said no to a request to add software just for me, or when he didn’t come up with a creative solution to a problem no one else would have wanted to deal with. And for all of his hard work (truly, the man must not sleep), he charges next to nothing for the services you get.
Win a Wii! So to thank him for all of his efforts, both on our behalf and for the profession, Michael and I are raffling off a Nintendo Wii to help show our appreciation in the form of a fundraiser. Please note that neither LISHost nor LISNews is in financial trouble, and this is not a call to “save” them. This is simply a way for us to acknowledge Blake’s efforts and thank him for everything he does.
So here’s how it works. Everyone who donates $10 or more to LISHost by 11:59 p.m. on March 14, 2008, will be eligible to win the Wii. We’ll pull a name out of the digital hat, so-to-speak, and send you the Wii if you’re the lucky winner. To enter/donate, click on the button below. Your donation is your entry, as we’ll have a full list of names from Paypal.
Update: The donation period has closed. Thanks to those of you who contributed!

February 11, 2008

Fantasy Sports and Real Information Literacy

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 6:43 am

Check out Paul Waelchli’s article in the January 2008 issue of C&RL News in which he expands on his blog posts about information literacy and fantasy football.
Librarians’ Sport of Choice: Teaching Information Literacy through Fantasy Football

“Librarians want students to effectively identify and evaluate information and make decisions based upon what they discover. These are just some of the skills that an information literate student successfully applies. These are the same skills that more than 19 million people use on a daily or weekly basis playing fantasy sports.1 As the NFL football season comes to a close, millions of Americans, some as young as 12 years old, have spent the past few months connected to information literacy. They just don’t know it.
The challenge for librarians is to connect fantasy sports skills to information literacy and create building blocks for academic applications of the same concepts. One library, University of Dubuque, did just this by teaching fantasy football research to incoming student athletes. Through the lesson, students engaged in discussions of creditability, validity, timeliness, and search strategies to find and evaluate fantasy football information….
The high level of player investment creates educational opportunities for librarians. According to a 2006 study by the Fantasy Sports Association, a large number of college students play fantasy sports. Librarians can build upon the information literacy skills that students are already unconsciously using through fantasy sports play. The successful fantasy sport player consistently applies four of the five ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards (2000)….
At the end of the sessions, the students completed a short evaluation that assessed both criteria for evaluating sources and library perceptions. More than 80 percent of students were able to describe two of three appropriate source evaluation criteria and more than 60 percent provided all three. The students were asked to describe what research meant to them before the session and responses included, ‘headaches,’ ‘work I didn’t want to do,’ and ‘school work.’ The responses to the same question after the sessions showed a dramatic change in perspective and included, ‘making sure one is getting accurate information,’ ‘comparing and knowing where I’m getting my information,” and “fun work.” While the ‘fun work’ might be a stretch when homework is involved, it does show a change in perspective and awareness about research. One student first said that before the session, research meant ‘school,’ but afterwards he responded, ‘everything.’
In addition to the change in perception of research, the student athletes were asked about their perception of librarians. Prior to the fantasy football orientation session, the students had a 66 percent ‘very positive’ impression of librarians. After the session, the students “very positive” perception was more than 90 percent. While these results are not scientific and large enough to generalize, they show a distinct change in students’ impressions of libraries and their own abilities. One student stated, ‘I made the fantasy football connection to looking up school stuff quick, it worked well.’ “

And if you haven’t seen it, Paul’s chart illustrating which of the ACRL Information Literacy Standard are involved in playing Final Fantasy, Halo, and Madden (football) is also well worth your time.

February 8, 2008

Caching in on Gaming in Libraries

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 5:01 pm

One of my favorite things about going to conferences is getting to meet and talk with people I normally wouldn’t get to know. I had another such experience at Midwinter when I met Leslie Morgan, First Year Experience/Education Librarian with the University of Notre Dame’s Libraries. Last year, she received the Outstanding New Librarian Award for the State of Indiana because she is an avid supporter of information literacy and diversity programs issues in academic librarianship. She is also very active promoting literacy in the community where she lives.
I met her at Midwinter because Leslie is the chair of the Research to Practice Literacy Discussion Group that hosted a panel presentation about gaming and literacy by Scott Nicholson, Julie Scordato, and myself, along with discussion from the standing room only participants. I was unfamiliar with Notre Dame’s efforts around gaming, so my ears perked up when she began talking about what the librarians there have been doing around gaming.
My favorite initiative is a program they created for first year students. Called Caching in at the Libraries, this program played on the popular hobby geocaching in an attempt to help incoming students learn more about the various libraries and services on campus.

“225 First Year Students signed up to play the game which consisted of finding 17 hidden ‘caches’ throughout Hesburgh and the branch libraries. 40 students ended up finding at least some of the caches, and 26 students were able to find all of the hidden caches. 10 of these students won iPod Shuffles, and the others won the ND ‘Shirt’.
Though the turnout for the game was not as large as we had hoped, the students who participated were very enthusiastic about it. Many of them have commented on how fun it was, and how much they enjoyed visiting all the libraries. One participant volunteered this comment: ‘I know I’ve been on campus for only 3 weeks but I probably would’ve never found out about those libraries. They are very valuable and interesting. If I had to give any evaluation of the program, I’d say continue it. Very rewarding.’ Plans are in the works to survey participants to find out ways to improve the program for next year.” [IRIS Department Newsletter

Caching in at the University of Notre Dame Libraries

I think 225 participants is a darn good turnout for a first attempt, but their efforts didn’t stop there. In addition, the librarians hosted their first gaming night last December as an outreach activity for students.

“This year IRIS, with financial support from User Services and The First Year of Studies, hosted their first ever Game Night on December 12th and 13th – the official “reading days” before finals begin. The events took place in the library lounge and
featured coffee, cocoa, hot tea, a host of snacks, and several lo-tech games. Game Night is our effort to help relieve some of the stress of studying for finals, and it is loosely modeled on a program that has been hosted at St. Mary’s for the last few years.
No official count was taken, but somewhere between 300 and 600 students flocked to the library lounge to graze and game their troubles away. Games included Twister, Clue, Monopoly, Connect 4, Operation, Play-doh, various card games, and several coloring books and crayons. What games do students like to play? Operation and coloring were by far the most popular activities. Perhaps we had an abundance of pre-med and art students on hand!
Student’s reactions to Game Night were overwhelmingly positive. Roughly 60 students completed comment cards, and according to their responses they truly appreciated the food. Many suggested that we try to provide healthier snack alternatives such as fruit and milk. Many students liked coloring best, and one student suggested that we provide more hot guys! We’re not sure if that is in our budget, but we do hope to host Game Night during future finals weeks, and we welcome suggestions for easy and fun activities.” [IRIS Department Newsletter]

Now I’m very interested to track ND’s efforts, as it’s great to have more data from successful gaming initiatives, especially when they’re creative ideas.

February 7, 2008

Help a Researcher Study Media Literacy

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 10:31 pm

If you can help with the following request, please contact Sarah directly. Thanks!

“I am curious if anyone knows of research (informal and formal) going on with undergraduates and media literacy. I’d like to hear about projects that look at usability and interface design and also any projects that measure visual or media literacy competencies. If you know of any relevant projects, contact Sarah Bordac, Instruction & Outreach Librarian @ Brown University and LIS doctoral student at Simmons College.”

February 6, 2008

Dance Your Fines Away

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 8:54 pm

Last year, I noted a librarian who waives the fines of patrons who play DDR against her. This year, the Wadleigh Memorial Library makes it an official part of its Patron Appreciation Day.
Library Patrons Try to Dance Away Late Fees at Video Game Competition

“Library users with unpaid fines had a chance to redeem themselves Thursday during the annual Patron Appreciation Day at the Wadleigh Memorial Library.
Instead of a scolding when they arrived, delinquent patrons were received like party guests.
Patrons were invited to make good on unpaid fines by donating canned and packaged foods for the local soup kitchen or by entering a dance competition, ‘Dance Dance Revolution.’
To sweeten the pot, during most of the day the library served coffee, bagels, pastries and ice cream, donated by area businesses….
The teen and preteen girls who showed up to play Dance Dance included 18-year-old Missy Hutchins, who owed $5 in fines, and Elicia Vallier, 12, and Maria Romanenko, 11, who had no debts to pay.
Hutchins, who has been playing the video dance game for four years, including several as part of DDR club at Milford High School, won her round against Spofford and happily reported to the front desk with a coupon she used to pay off her $5 obligation.
The other girls took second turns competing against the librarian, just for fun.
‘Video games are things kids like to do, and we thought this would bring them in to the library,’ Spofford said before the dance contest began. ‘If they have fines, they don’t come in. We don’t want them to be afraid to come in.’ ” [Nashua Telegraph, via joystiq, thanks James!]

February 5, 2008

Gaming Super Tuesday

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 11:52 pm
  • Primary Game: Candidates as Consoles
    “As pundits ponder the resurgence of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, here’s a handy high-tech guide to the three Democratic frontrunners. Because as it happens, they’re best understood in relation to the top three video game consoles.” Click through to find out why Barack Obama is the Nintendo Wii, Hillary Clinton is the Microsoft Xbox 360, and John Edwards is the Playstation 3. [GigaOM, via Game Politics]
  • The 2008 Presidential Primary Candidates as D&D Characters
    “To help me decide I’ve translated each candidate into a D&D character. If you had to pick one based on the D&D attributes assigned, who would you select?” [Rhapsody Radish]
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