January 17, 2008


Filed under: precat — jenny @ 11:04 am

Recently, Michel Le Querrec friended me on Flickr. I’m not sure why, maybe to extend the reach of the project he’s working on using the site, Photos Normandie. Apparently the National Archives of Canada (and the U.S.?) are uploading pictures from the Battle of Normandy, more than 2700 of them to date.
I found the photographs fascinating, even though the captions and descriptions are in French, so I friended the site back, and now every day I see a few of these amazing pictures mixed into my photostream. It’s very strange to see thumbnails of dogs, nature, friends, children, libraries, and then the Battle of Normandy, but I find it an interesting use of Flickr and the images usually force me to reflect on how lucky I am in this day and age. For some, it would be interesting to add in streams from Iraq, Kenya, and other places that would bring home the reality of the rest of the world, especially in a classroom setting.
All of which was broiling in the back of my mind when I saw this incredible announcement from the Library of Congress, an institution I have to say I never thought would take this step.
My Friend Flickr: A Match Made in Photo Heaven

“If all goes according to plan, the project will help address at least two major challenges: how to ensure better and better access to our collections, and how to ensure that we have the best possible information about those collections for the benefit of researchers and posterity. In many senses, we are looking to enhance our metadata (one of those Web 2.0 buzzwords that 90 percent of our readers could probably explain better than me).
The project is beginning somewhat modestly, but we hope to learn a lot from it. Out of some 14 million prints, photographs and other visual materials at the Library of Congress, more than 3,000 photos from two of our most popular collections are being made available on our new Flickr page, to include only images for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist.
The real magic comes when the power of the Flickr community takes over. We want people to tag, comment and make notes on the images, just like any other Flickr photo, which will benefit not only the community but also the collections themselves. For instance, many photos are missing key caption information such as where the photo was taken and who is pictured. If such information is collected via Flickr members, it can potentially enhance the quality of the bibliographic records for the images.
We’re also very excited that, as part of this pilot, Flickr has created a new publication model for publicly held photographic collections called “The Commons.” Flickr hopes—as do we—that the project will eventually capture the imagination and involvement of other public institutions, as well.
From the Library’s perspective, this pilot project is a statement about the power of the Web and user communities to help people better acquire information, knowledge and—most importantly—wisdom. One of our goals, frankly, is to learn as much as we can about that power simply through the process of making constructive use of it.” [Library of Congress Blog]

More info is available here, here, and here. Major kudos to LOC for seeing the opportunity and seizing it. Hopefully the community will respond and help tag the images for retrieval, but it will be an interesting experiment either way. I am very impressed with this effort and can’t wait to watch it grow.

January 16, 2008

The Second Bean

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 6:58 am

Photorealism Inside a Virtual World?
Originally uploaded by cogdogblog

My head hurts from thinking about this, but damn it’s cool.

January 15, 2008

Philly.com Covers the ALA Midwinter Meeting

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 12:27 pm

The “Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Spotlight” area at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting was very successful. We had a pretty steady stream of folks watching and playing videogames. I’d be a rich woman if I sold gaming equipment on commission at these things (hint, Nintendo, hint).
This year, the setup was in the registration hall, rather than in a booth on the exhibit floor, so we got a couple of members to help cover the area. Big thanks to Chad Haefele and Matt Roach for doing such a great job.
So great, in fact, that Chad scored a starring role in Philly.com’s coverage of the Meeting on their website (although they did spell his last name incorrectly – sorry, Chad).
Thanks to everyone who stopped by the spotlight and helped us have so much fun. We’ll see you at Annual in Anaheim when we do it again (along with the big game!). 🙂
Bonus: The paper also included an editorial about videogames in libraries by ALA President Loriene Roy.

January 9, 2008

The Coolest Training Lab Ever…

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 9:05 pm

…might just be based on the Nintendo Wii?
Check out Johnny Chung Lee’s Wii Projects and count how many times you find yourself saying “wow.” And if you own a Wii, see if you don’t want to try to doing all of these things yourself. I know I do.

Unintended consequences are often the most interesting ones. As I watched these videos, I found myself thinking about Allan Kleiman’s work at the Old Bridge Public Library, using the Wii to introduce seniors to technology, wondering if this type of setup would work better for those folks who have trouble using a computer mouse.
The head tracking video is really interesting, too, as it might be a precursor to a home version of The Cave. Imagine being able to walk into a book on your videogame console (Hotel Dusk for the Wii, anyone?). 3D gaming – and the literacies that would come with it – might be much closer than we think.
I really want some time to play with this stuff! [Thanks, Clare!]

January 8, 2008

Old-fashioned Books Plus Games Mashup

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 6:52 am


“Bookchase® is exactly what it says – a chase with books.
Bookchase® is also the world’s first board game about books which comes with your own bookshelf, library card, bookshop, and your own set of tiny books to collect. First one to collect six books and head home wins! Simple really.
Bookchase® is a family game which can also be played by adults and is designed for anyone from 5 years upwards. Never read a book? – you could still win. Read all the books in the world? You could still lose. Dare you take the Bookchase® challenge?…
You can get your books in lots of ways – by answering questions, visiting the Bookchase® shop or Library. Or perhaps it’s your birthday and one of the other players would like to give you one of their books as a present. You can even find books on the Bookchase® board. Be careful though, you might drop your book in the bath and be forced to leave it on Treasure Island to dry out! However many players start you can never be certain who is going to win.” [via kimbooktu]

January 6, 2008

Tame the WordPress

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 7:34 pm

Check out the new Tame the Web on WordPress, along with new URLs for RSS feeds. Be sure to resubscribe. 🙂

January 4, 2008

New Discussion Forums

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 7:29 am

Check out the new discussion forums Rachel Singer Gordon has started over on LISjobs.

“LISjobs.com, the largest free library career portal on the Internet, is pleased to announce the launch of its new online community for librarians. Devoted entirely to career development and job hunting, these forums provide a space for librarians, LIS students, library workers, and information professionals to discuss professional development issues.”

The current forum topics cover LIS schools, jumpstarting your career, professional development and participation, talking tenure, professional writing, and work/life balance.
In other news, American Libraries has started its own discussion forum based on content from the magazine and other ALA topics, so the LISjobs forums make a nice complement. Together, these are two great places to connect with your colleagues. Thanks for providing this service, Rachel.

January 3, 2008

Gaming and the Fall of Western Civilization

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 6:56 am

The LTR update on gaming in libraries is just about done, and I’ve been reading some fascinating articles and books as background for it. I’ve been wanting to read Susan Gibbons’ 2007 book The Academic Library and the Net Gen Student and this gave me the excuse because there is a chapter devoted to online gaming. Gibbons focuses solely on Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs), which at first seems a little strange for an academic librarian. However, she explains what these games are, provides a little history about them, gives some information about how NetGens use them, and then brainstorms some ideas for their relevance to academic libraries. I’d argue it’s good reading for folks in *all* types of libraries.
Given some of the negative comments I’ve gotten here about gaming in libraries, including how it will devalue the MLS, I really enjoyed the following history from Gibbons.

“In the late 1700s, parents were warned to protect their children from the many dangers of free access to ‘romances, novels, and plays [which] poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth’ (Reverend Enos Hitchcock, Memoirs of the Bloomsgrove Family, quoted in Standage 2006, 114). The early twentieth century witnessed the scourge of ‘moving pictures’ because of which ‘God alone knows how many are leading dissolute lives’ (from The Annual Report of the New York Society for the Presentation of Cruelty to Children, quoted in Standage 2006, 114). Or how about the evils of the telephone, which causes laziness, the tendency for crime caused by reading comic books, or the sins of the waltz, with its “voluptuous intertwining of the limbs, and close compressure of the bodies’ (from Times of London, 1816, quoted in Standage 2006, 114). The pattern is clear: the new form of entertainment of the younger generation is misunderstood and portrayed as the ‘scourge of society’ by the preceding generations.
Brown suggests that many of us miss the importance of online gaming because we focus too tightly on the game itself: ‘So don’t just think about the games themselves–the content–but about the knowledge ecologies developing around these games–the context’ (2002, 64). The knowledge ecologies of online games include conversations, reading, writing, research, buying and selling, the formation and dissolution of partnerships and pacts, mentoring, instruction, and a host of other activities. The games do little more than provide a compelling and immersive platform for all of these social activities to occur.” (p.34)

Gibbons has clearly spent time studying and thinking about about how the reference desk could incorporate some of the best features of MMORPGs (I’m hoping I have enough room in the LTR to include a mention of these provocative ideas). She is clearly being proactive, rather than simply reactive (especially in a knee-jerk way).
If I’m going to be responsible for the end of the world because I advocate for gaming in libraries, it’s nice to know I’m in such good company. 😉

December 22, 2007

Some Fun for the Holiday

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 10:43 am

From my Dad: I Do Dog Tricks. Type in as many commands as you can think of, leaving “kiss” for last.
Happy Holidays, everyone!

December 19, 2007

Visit Pullman Online

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 10:28 pm

My wonder twin buddy Andy has an article in the inaugural issue of The Code4Lib Journal, a publication that arose out of the Code4Lib conference and community. Andy does a lot of work to digitize and make information about the historic Pullman district in Chicago available online, almost entirely as a labor of love and with no real financial or administrative support. To me, he is an unsung hero of the digital world, and I am proud to call him my friend.
Connecting the Real to the Representational: Historical Demographic Data in the Town of Pullman, 1880-1940

“The Pullman House History Project is a part of the Pullman State Historic Site’s virtual museum and web site (http://www.pullman-museum.org/) which links together census, city directory, and telephone directory information to describe the people who lived in the town of Pullman, Illinois between 1881 and 1940. This demographic data is linked through a database/XML record system to online maps and Perl programs that allow the data to be represented in various useful combinations. This article describes the structure of the database and XML records, as well as the methods and code used to link the parts together and display the data.”

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