where in the world is thommy ford?

Last month, Rick posted about the “Where in the World is Thommy Ford?” program and the associated Thommy Ford Abroad set on the TFML’s flickr account. We have a 11×17 poster of our library’s namesake, along with our URL, and naturally, “Where in the World is Thommy Ford,” available to patrons who want to join in the fun. We haven’t publicized it that much, and already Thommy has been to Africa, Canada, China, Norway and Slovakia. This little project brings up a few things:

  • Some patrons don’t mind having their pictures on Flickr. Don’t forget that patrons are normal people too and think it’s fun to be involved with the production of content.
  • Libraries provide entertainment in the form of books, DVDs, and so on, but libraries and their websites can also be entertaining. Without much effort in this case. WitWiTF, AADL’s virtual catalog cards, various library podcasts, are neat examples of libraries using their skills and unique assets to produce entertaining content. Sweet.
  • Libraries can indeed use social software sites to bolster their web presence. Doing so can show that the library is a vibrant, thoughtful institution, rather than a book mausoleum. I’m totally done with feeling like our content has to be housed on servers over which we have control. The digital branch of the future may, in part, be spread throughout the web.

If you’d take a picture of yourself with Thommy and contribute to our project, email me and I’ll send you a poster!

reference desk stapler

Now for a decidedly non-tech palate cleanser.

For some reason I’ve never thought to keep our stapler out on the Reference Desk for people to use. And I get asked for it probably 7 times per shift. Why has it gone back in the drawer? Most likely because we’ve always done it that way [thanks michael]. That’s really not a very good reason. There are probably 10 other little things that we’ve “always done” that, if changed, would make our lives, and our patrons’ experience better.

In our defense, I have recently heard of some libraries not letting patrons use library staplers. Yikes.

So I’m going to suggest that we don’t wear out the office supply drawer, and we keep the stapler out. I sure hope you’re not thinking: “Aaron’s stapler is going to get STOLEN.”

different conference reporting

UPDATE: Derik gave me permission to use a sketch!

Sick of going through people’s line-by-line accounts of conference sessions? Check out these sketches!

I got an email this morning from Derik A. Badman telling me about the sketches he make during Computers in Libraries 2006. Here are 45 sketches, including one of me. Another personal favorite is this one of Michael, me, and Amanda and our computers.

how about some fun?

The topic of putting content where our users will find it (instead of keeping it locked away on our websites) deserves to be taken seriously. I was pleased to see the discussion at Librarian In Black about MySpace, a prime example of a potential place to put our data. MySpace deserves to be taken especially seriously because by some reports it gets more traffic than google. You like for your content to be findable via Google, right? Well why not MySpace?

One thing missing in all of the serious talk about libraries and MySpace is the fact that MySpace is, well, not entirely serious. This struck me as I was reading the profile for the UIUC Undergrad Library, as well as comments from students.

Ohhh…the time spent studying with you. Misses you…*muah*. Go Illini!


I love the Undergrad Library.

I love the Undergrad Library so much that I am even there right now!

Welcome to Myspace.

I’m all for our libraries being fun, and having fun with our users. Am I wrong in thinking that “fun” falls within the scope of meeting the entertainment needs of our users?

embedded flickr slideshows

Check out HOW TO Quickie: Embedded Flickr Slideshows. I plunked the code into http://www.walkingpaper.org/flickr and I like it. You can also see an example below, which is a display of my photos tagged ‘mobilepic.’ This code is flexible in that you can be selective or inclusive in the photos to be shown. The down side is that only one size can be displayed, requiring some serious devoted real estate. The frame size can be changed, but then the photos are cut off.

Off the top of my head I can think of a few applications for this on a library website:

  • Inform people visually about the meeting room
  • Document an event
  • Show off a computer lab
  • Highlight an art collection

and perhaps my favorite idea…

  • Combine an embedded mp3 file with a slideshow of illustrations to create an amazing online storytime! Kids could listen to a librarian as they watch the story unfold. I’m really tempted to try this, but my drawings would probably scare the kids and the whole project would fail. I may need to employ the help of an artist friend, because there’s probably not many public domain illustrations for children’s books. Tho I do know of Ardvark the Aardvark.

Any other ideas?

this time its personal

When people ask, “How can I get my staff or coworkers interested in blogs/RSS/IM what have you?” I have a usual response. It goes something like this: People get excited about a certain technology when it does cool things for them. Since there’s a blog about any imaginable topic, it isn’t difficult for someone to receive up to date, neat info regarding something about which they’re passionate. Getting a knitting enthusiast hooked up with some knitting RSS feeds can make the whole thing click. Getting someone a screen name so they can chat with a distant relative can turn on some lightbulbs.

Here’s a screenshot from the iTunes of a podcast about which I can get excited! [via pugblog]

living without the music industry

Here’s a 6 point article about how to not support an industry that breaks your equipment and over charges you. As I was reading it I was hoping that one of the tips would be to use the library.

It wasn’t included, but the second comment added a #7 that made me happy: Borrow CDs from the library and load on your computer.

I’m happy to get people using the library for any reason.

instant urban legends

We adults are missing out. I’ve learned a good deal of how young people are using IM since I’ve opened up the library to them through the technology. Corny, perhaps bothersome emails, usually containing half truths, have migrated to IMs. I got this one today:

HeLLo my name is Josh…..i am 7 years old with black hair and red eyes. i have no nose or ears…. i am dead. if you do not send this 15 people in the next 5 minutes i will appear tonight by your bed with a knife and kill you.. this is no joke Something good will happen to u 2nite at 9:22. This is not a joke some1 will either call u or will talk to u online >and say that they love u. do not break this. No send back

I thought this way funny, and interesting in that it is probably very viral. A message like this could get scattered all across the country and read, well, in an instant.

pencil envy?

Thinking about various forms of computer technology in the library, I was amused to hear a request today about our pencil sharpener. Somebody loves it so much that they are going to go buy the exact same model!

Please take a moment and evaluate the pencil sharpening technology that you are offering your patrons.