bonus questions

The LiB and I bombarded our audience for our SirsiDynix Institute program with a bunch of ideas and information. Since it was only an hour session, this left plenty of questions. We took some time to answer them, figuring they’ll be useful for more than the individuals that asked. Here they are.

How do I convince my library that it is safe to post pictures of events online (especially of teens), and to allow kids to do podcasts, etc.? My library is soooooo litigation scared.
This is the perfect opportunity to counter a why with a why not? Do the admin/board in question have any hard evidence about library getting into hot water for using pictures of their patrons? Libraries are public places and can be photographed. Indeed, private places open to the public can be photographed as well. Anyway, chances are they we’re all getting our pictures snapped more times per day than we’re aware. The worst that can happen is that someone asks for an image, podcast, print book review (whatever) be taken down. Then the library takes it down. This is unlikely to happen. I’m not saying that we should be publishing full names, ages, and Social Security Numbers, but a photo of some kids at the library? Of course! Here’s a decent article titled “New digital camera? Know how, where you can use it”

What if you have a board that definitely won’t allow im or chat? (they’ve been that way since we first received computers in 1996-patrons have complained to the board and they won’t budge!)
The board is certainly not doing their job if they haven’t even responded to *patrons* asking to use IM on the library’s computers. How long are the board member’s terms ;) Isn’t it their job to be representatives of the community? Perhaps showing them examples of what other libraries are doing with IM, without any troubles, would help your cause. They need to know that this policy is preventing the library from growing.

About IM, my board has banned IMing on our public access computers (concerns about predators, mostly. they see it as similar to chatrooms, which for them have negative connotations). How can i overcome this fear on their part? Any evidence, stats, or ways I can alleviate their fears about safety?
Take a look at the 2004 Pew Internet and American Life report on instant messaging: As we mentioned during the presentation, these stats are old now, and the numbers now are much higher, but they show that IMing isn’t just for kids, and that’s it’s become a vital way for many people to communicate. For many, if you’re not available via IM, you don’t exist. Show them the huge list of libraries that are successfully offering reference services via IM. Tell them that many websites (like MySpace, Meebo, etc.) include a built-in IM feature that gets around any IM-ban they’ve put in place technologically, so there’s no way to really ban it. If people want to IM on your computers, they are finding a way. All the library does by banning it is make itself look technologically regressive and out of touch with what today’s users need from our computers.

Any suggestions for getting on user’s buddy list? we are an undergrad 4 year school.
The best way to get students to add your screen name to their buddy list is to provide great reference (or otherwise) service during hours convenient to them. IM enthusiasts will add their library’s screen name to their buddy lists out of convenience, just like they might bookmark their library’s website. It could be fun to hold some sort of contest, the addition of the library screen name as the entry, but there’s no good way to see who has done this

Difference betweem offering content for IPOD’s vs. the new play-a-ways?
The Playaway all-on-one audiobooks could be a decent option. However, they lack the mass appeal of the extremely popular ipod. The great thing about providing content for ipods (whether it is purchased audiobooks or library generated content) is that it uses technology that patrons are already using. It shows that the library understands the information preferences of its users, and is convenient for them to use.

When loaning ipods for borrowed books or music, do you lose some? They are expensive…

Yes, they aren’t cheap, but the TFML hasn’t lost any, and I haven’t heard of any other library with any theft issues. Libraries can set the replacement fee at a price of their choice.

How do we do IM reference when we are often not sitting down at the desk? We are often getting up and down for to help people and do projects.
Away messages can help with this. Setting an away message every time you get up will take some habituation, but it can be done. Otherwise, IM reference can always be done off desk.

Are you saying that it is alright for teens to play any type of games on the computer. I have seen some weird games being played

Heck yes! Weird is in the eye of the beholder. If it isn’t illegal (and I don’t know of any illegal games) libraries have no legitimate right to prevent people from playing it (or reading it, looking at it, etc). Anything short of this is censorship.

Do you think if you “market” these different venues (IM etc.) to teens, will it automatically crossover to adults?

I think services that are useful to teens are also useful to some adults. I also think that without appealing to teens and getting them interested in libraries, we won’t likely see them again until they have children and come back for storytime.

quick question about meebo…away message? Is there a way to set one up? I’ve just been logging off everytime I step away.

Look towards the top of your buddy list. The default is “I’m available.” Clicking there will let you change and customize your message.

What about cell phone disturbing other patrons?
Libraries already have noise/behavior policies in place. Enforce them—whether or not the user is using a cell phone, talking to a friend, or simply yelling to get attention. Address the behavior, not the technology…because the technology keeps changing and there’s no way to keep up.

When considering these changes, have you taken into consideration the security of the materials in the library?
We talked about a lot of different changes during our webcast, so we’re not sure we understand which ones you’re referring to that would in any way impact the security of library materials. We haven’t said anything about removing security strips, taking down the security gates, or leaving the doors unlocked—
which are the only things that would affect the security of library materials.

What is a blog?
Blog is short for “web log.” A blog is a website. That’s it. Most blogs are presented in a format where the newest entries are at the top, and older entries are automatically archived by date and/or subject. Blog software allows just about anyone to create a webpage—with no HTML coding skills necessary. Here is the Wikipedia entry on “blog”:

Do you have suggestions for helping school districts understand the BLOGS shouldn’t be blocked by filter…reason “personal page” – go figure!

First, I would ask WHY the institution is blocking them in the first place. If it’s simply because, as you say, it is a personal webpage, then I would counter with examples of helpful institutions and government agencies and educational groups that are blogging. The White House has blogs, for goodness sake! Schools and libraries have blogs! Authors and artists and teachers have blogs! I would also be curious as to how they are blocking blogs: are they blocking certain blogging websites (like Blogger, Typepad, etc.)? If that’s what they’re doing, there’s no way to catch every blog, as there are hundreds of blogging sites, and many sites have their own domain names so the filter wouldn’t catch them. Basically, their system isn’t even working.

What service provides the books via iPod? We can’t do that because of DRM that isn’t supported on iPods.

Unfortunately, there is no audio content service that sells in a platform environment (like Overdrive or NetLibrary’s Recorded Books) to libraries that also works with iPods/Macs. What libraries are doing is purchasing eBooks, as consumers, through either iTunes or and then pre-loading them onto library iPods and checking the device out, or allowing users to bring in their own iPods and loading whatever book/album they want onto the user’s iPod.

How can we allow iPod use on our PCs? My understanding is that iTunes is so highly customized that it’s impossible to use in a multi-user environment.
iTunes can be installed on Macs and PCs. The library we discussed loaded all of their CDs into iTunes on their public computers. So…users could listen to the music on the library’s PCs without having the CD in hand. We’re not sure if the library allows people to bring their iPods in, actually, to transfer the files from the library’s iTunes account to their iPods. iTunes is an individual library of songs, but can be used in a multi-user environment. It just depends on what you’re trying to do.

I work in a multi-branch public library. Can you recommend online games that teens at my branch can play versus teens at another branch?
As Aaron replied to a similar question during the webcast, the best recommendation we can give you is to ask the teens in your area which games they would like to play. Some of the games that seem to work well in a competition environment, though, are those that go quickly so teens can take turns playing: driving/racing games and Dance Dance Revolution come to mind.

Hi – this was good – it’s 2am where I live so I’m off to bed. Have a happy day!
Thanks for getting up so early and listening!!

7 thoughts on “bonus questions”

  1. Isn’t it pretty much the case that since ipods are “married” to one itunes installation, you can’t use them for uploading/downloading on other machines that are not the ipod’s main machine? I think it’s great that the library can put music on itunes for people to listen to [on the library’s computer or via patron’s own laptops] but I’m not sure if there’s a technological way to allow people to upload and download songs. I think the ipod’s DRM specifically prevents this, no matter what file format the songs are in. Let me know if you know otherwise.

  2. jessamyn,

    you are right. however, there’s a simple, legal*, solution: change which computer with which the ipod is associated. specifically, associate it with the library’s computer! in practice, this means, yes, *wiping the patron’s ipod of their music.* GASP? Sometimes. At the TFML I found a few patrons not willing to do that, either because they didn’t have their music backed up, or didnt’ want to loose access to their music just for a library audiobook. I totally understand that. The majority though, seemed to understand the process completely (perhaps due to wrestling with their ipod in the past), and would finish my thought with, “Oh, when I get want my music back, I plug it back into my computer and erase your book.” Bingo. The audiobooks are in the ILS just like anything else, so to get their book checked back in, patrons are required to have us erase the file or show us their ipod with their files restored.

    For those that don’t have iPods or didn’t want to mess with erasing their tunes, there are 3 ipod nanos that they can use. It was amazing to see the traction the term ipod carries. A few people came in with their non-ipod mp3 players and say, “Can I can book X on my iPod?”

    This situation is *far* from ideal, but one of the best options. The program doesn’t have the ability to let patrons download at home like NetLibrary (and Overdrive?) but it is less complicated and has popular content. Because of DRMed content and DRMed players, I just don’t see the audio ebook situation ever getting better for libraries and library patrons.

    Make sense? Would you give up your content for a while for a book? I might in certain situations.

    *a more convenient but perhaps not-so-legal solution would be to use ephpod or the like to transfer the files.

  3. Aaron…

    Here’s what one of my librarian tech people answered to the use of ipods as suggested:

    That’s certainly interesting, but the second part of the “solution” strikes me as being in violation of several intellectual property laws, especially the DMCA and various parts of the Berne Convention.

    The first part, “pre-loading them onto library iPods” is a direct violation of the DMCA, and while that provision is under appeal, at this time would open any library performing the act to liability of prosecution. Remember, no one truly “owns” digital products – we are granted a “limited license” to use them for a specified period of time.

    We really need to thoroughly investigate any such options or proposals as the current governing law is very much different than the US copyright law (Title 17). The enabling legislation is written to cover all digital content – not just music.


  4. Perhaps you misunderstood. We’re sticking with one digital copy, one circulation at a time. It isn’t the case that all titles are available on all iPods at all times.

    I haven’t studied the DMCA so I can’t speak at length about it, but I can tell you that many school and public libraries are circulating content from the iTunes Music Store, and other stores that aren’t traditional library vendors. And I know that Apple is aware that libraries are circing audiobooks from the iTMS.

    Does this make more sense now?

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