May 2004
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Month May 2004

the moment before

Our wireless network has been running strong for quite some time. When people have trouble connecting it is usually due to a small hardware glitch on their machine. These things generally work themselves out when I make sure they are set up to be automatically assigned an IP address (Properties of the wireless connection -> General Tab ->Properties of Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)). If this doesn’t work, an attempt to release and renew the IP address that the computer is trying to use often does the trick (Start -> Run -> cmd -> ipconfig /release (and then ipconfig /renew)).

Once I’ve gone through these steps, the internet connection must be tested to see if they had any effect. Pinging a site out on the web (Start -> Run -> cmd -> ping URL) would be a fine and dandy way to test the internet connection, but I bet people get a better idea that the connection is indeed working when they see a browser launch and their homepage appear. Also, and there is only a slim chance of this happeneing, but perhaps pinging would work but the browser would still act up. Unlikely, yes, but one never knows.

The only reason that opening their browser is not a good option is because it is a small invasion of their privacy. Before double clicking, I make sure to ask their permission. Their blessing on my action notwithstanding, I still feel awkward throughout the end of the transaction.

Am I overreacting?


I’m learning that being realistic about technology goals is a good thing.

When thinking about implementing new technologies it can be hard to focus on what work will be involved with achieving goals. Often, this is how things go:

1. Realize need, make initial plan for new technology
2. Research and buy new technology
3. ???
4. Reap the benefits!

It is easy to be pie-in-the-sky about starting new projects but this attitude isn’t particularly useful. Even if the technology being planned is supposed to make the lives of staff and patrons easier, there still must be educational efforts involved. Making things easier, or better, still takes work because the technology will alter behavior.

The following is, loosely, how I see step three above playing out:

-Inform staff of upcoming changes
-Write policy for new technology
-Prepare materials (signs, handouts, page on website) to educate patrons – these can also be good for some staff members too
-Plan instructional classes (for staff and patrons) if appropriate
-Theoretical training for staff
-Go live with technology
-Practical (live) training for staff

Perhaps another step should be added after four. The library should welcome feedback from staff and patrons, and evaluate their comments. If the planners don’t happen to be working the front line, then they will not have the same type of knowledge as the people more often using the technology. A goal of any manager should be to not make the lives of people miserable through because of their descisions. Not only would it be a not nice thing to do, but it would also be detrimental to the library.

darn kids, always using the library

I run a Film Discussion Group every other Friday at the library. This past Friday I got my equipment set up rather quickly and had a few minutes before people were going to start showing up. I did some reading, organized my desk a bit, but was feeling antsy. The best thing to do, I decided, was to take a survey of the library using the useful Razor scooter technology that had been abandoned by somebody earlier in the week.

Was I ever surprised as I rolled into the Adult Services area. Sitting at a table were two people, each with laptops. We exchanged greetings and then I asked, “Hey, did you know that the library is closed?” The responded that they didn’t, but thought perhaps that the library was closing up soon since all the lights were off and there were no people in. the. entire. library.

I was there, had some time, so I asked them if there was anything I could help them with quickly. They were slightly embarrassed and responded that they had just come in to use the wireless network.

This anecdote illustrates that many potential library users crave wireless. (I mean, come on! The library on a Friday night!? Oh, wait.) I tried to get them to stay for my Film Discussion Group, and was nearly successful, but they were on a mission for connectivity. I’m sure they ended up at a commercial establishment.


Can anyone tell on what this librarian is perched?

once bitten

Have you ever said something that you wish you could take back? That’s how I think many libraries feel about the whole eBook fiasco. Certainly that issue doesn’t need to be rehashed here, but I do want to mention an impact that I percieve it has had on technology in libraries. Namely, I think that libraries are slightly nervous to stick their necks out again.

Perhaps we can use the eBook event to learn about how we should think about acquiring new technologies. Wouldn’t you agree that eBooks were largely pushed by the people selling them? It wasn’t the case that readers were clammering for them. In fact, the late 90s incarnation of eBook readers were met with resistance from readers. People, including many librarians, hated them. Sure, libraries should guide their patrons through the process of exploring new technologies, but shouldn’t (and cannot successfully) force technologies. Think here of OPACs and many older users. They are still talking about not having the card catalog. This is what happens when we try to mandate the use of technologies.

Libraries cannot, however, be blind to present or upcoming consumer driven trends in technology. The mp3 (or other similar digital audio formats*) certainly falls within this category. EBook readers were never heavily featured in the adverts from every consumer electronics store. There were some, but nowhere near how mp3 players are being featured. People are using this technology. The audiobook (in tape and CD format) is already proven as viable and necessary format for libraries to circulate.

These facts indicate that exploring books on mp3 as a format isn’t that risky. Certainly the technology will mature a bit more, but the biggest changes will be the pricing, DRM, circulation, and download models that are available to libraries.

If you think your administration might be resistant to the idea of books on mp3 at your library, and you think that your community would use the format, perhaps some of these thoughts can help you convince them otherwise.

**For instance: .wav, .aac, .ogg, .wma, .shn, .ape. It is not crucial to know how these all differ, but it is important to realize that an mp3 file extention (.mp3) isn’t the only type of digitial audio format going around.

naming your wireless network

Jenny has a good thought about naming your library’s wireless network with a pro-library message (e.g. ‘we answer questions, too’ or ‘libraries rule!’). At the very least, make sure it isn’t still named ‘default’ or even ‘public.’ I’ve chosen to brand (I feel dirty using that word) the signals from our access points with the library’s name, and then the location of the AP. And whatever you do, don’t name it ‘toothing.’ If you don’t know what that is, don’t search. You’re too young.

do as she does

One neat thing about iChat is that it automatically displays people’s away messages, and messages while people are available. Becasue of this I got to see Jessamyn’s away message

WORKING – but feel free to leave a message

Very professional and appropriate for a library. A+, you get the WP seal of approval. You’re growing up into such a responsible young woman, Jessamyn! 😉

Also I get to know that Michael “Ich bin in Das Bibliotek.” I must point out one more. Someone I know that’s still at university is using his away message as an invitation

F**ck you HVAC…..not only did I finish “the hardest final in architecture” 45min early, i’d also be surprised if i got less than a 95 on it……so who’s drinking all afternoon on the porch with me??

not as i do

I’ve been learning quite a bit from observing kids use IM. One thing I’ve learned is that I’m particularly not responsible with using the ‘away’ function of IM programs. In a previous entry I commented on kids using their away messages in a way I hadn’t really seen an adult use them. Specifically, I’ve seen semi-detailed messages to numerous friends in the away messages of teens. If people are to receive these messages the intended recipient of the message either must IM their buddies upon signing on, getting sent the away message in response, or choose to ‘get buddy info.’ This will return the person’s away message, and any other cutesy info they have in their away messages, such as profiles, quizzes and stuff like this: if you’re stupid enough to read this, copy and paste it into your profile.

Between home and work, there are four computers that I use on a regular basis. To complicate this, there are to programs I use (AIM and iChat), and two screen names (sometimes linking the two so I can have both running simultaneously.) With all of this, I can barely manage to sign out of all the places I may have IM running, let alone use away messages effectively. Even so, if I have an away message set at home, it might not work, because I could be signed in at work with the same name. (Side note: Only recently has this become a problem, when AIM stopped automatically signing people out upon logging in elsewhere.)

I mention my irresponsibility as a confession, and to get me motivated to use away messages as they should be. Sometime in the future, when I write a list of best practices IM in the library, being attentive to away messages will be there. Just as if patrons aren’t going to come back if they visit the Reference Desk and there is no person, or no ‘Be Right Back’ sign, they’ll get tired of IMing a librarian that isn’t there.

One more quick thing. There are a few ways to solve this, but if you’re worried about not being able to be on your personal IM account while monitoring a library account, consider using Trillian or linking screen names using AIM. This is only available in the lastest version of AIM, which tries to install Wild Tangent on your machine. Just deselect the box when installing.