June 2004
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Month June 2004

come on people now

Taking away all of the inkjet printers at patron terminals is a big deal. Among other hurdles, patrons need to be trained, staff need to be trained, and someone has to do the training. People in charge of training need to know how to use whatever they are teaching. This is obvious. A problem occurs though when trainers don’t take into consideration the fact that they are facile with what they are teaching. I’ve been writing a guide (for the staff) to using our new (huge!) networked printer. I have been trying to consider nothing in the printing process obvious. Even so, I’m sure there are places where I could be explaining things a bit better.

One thing I’ve been doing, and I know that this sounds funny, is considering what other people think. Not that I don’t usually but I’m giving people an active role in the preparation of this handout. I made a draft of some instructions and gave them to someone working Circ. I assured her that this wasn’t a test of her skills, but rather of my instruction writing skills. She made it through the process just fine. Also, she really didn’t have any comments on my instructions.

The next woman I asked to go through the process took a little bit longer, and she had some comments. They were quite useful and I altered the document to reflect some of the things she mentioned.

Asking for help whilst preparing this document has not only made the instructions better, but it has also exposed some people to the technology.

this is what the site is about

the term ‘walking paper’ is a way in which i think of new(ish) information technologies. things like IM and text messaging are like active, animated paper to me. the term also is one letter away from ‘walking papers,’ something that librarians don’t want to be handed (and shouldn’t be handed, if we pay attention) because of technology.

this site is written by aaron schmidt.

this site looks better in firefox.

no serifs appear on this site and very few capital letters.

meatspace coordinates: 41.8114 N 87.9019W

email: aaron [at] lisnews [dot] com
aim: XXagentcooperXX

full content rss feeds available


full content rss feeds available



You may remember that I started a home grown virtual reference project at my library. Not that we were want for VR projects, but I had a feeling this would be a successful, low cost program that would be sure to attract many of our patrons.

Today I received my 100th question via AIM. Obviously I was a believer in the program to begin with, but I must say that it has exceeded my expectations.

We have increased our availability to patrons for no cost. Certainly I’ve had to spend time answering the questions, but since I’m here (in part) to answer reference questions, I don’t consider more work a cost. If more staff would get on board and use AIM whilst at the Reference Desk, there would be a cost to training, but even that would be only a cost of time.

For no cost not only have we become more available, but I’ve helped patrons that otherwise wouldn’t have been helped. I’ve done more Young Adult Readers’ Advisory in the past 2 months than I have in the previous 2 years. YAs have sent me messages asking about the library’s hours, and prizes for summer reading program. I bet that these things aren’t a big enough deal for them to make a telephone call, but shooting me a quick message is more convenient. Perhaps this is grandiose, but I can’t help but thinking that I’m breathing some life into libraries for these kids.

I’ve been asked what shampoo I use and what 646345*453456345 equals, but I have turned a portion of the few silly questions I’ve received into productive sessions educating kids about what the library has to offer.*

There have been a few questions from what I presume (through their good spelling and mature vocabulary) were adults. Most of these transactions ended in a conversation about IM, and how they were happy the library is offering it.

Come Autumn, once I can do some reference outreach in the schools, I know that I am going to need my fingers limber for typing away at a near google of reference questions.

*Kids will listen if the right medium is used. Television is no longer a cutting edge way to get kids to pay attention, it is to be expected. IM is the new TV in this regard. It is interesting and funny to me that a “hot” medium like TV or film is perhaps no longer as captivating to young people as simple text is. It is the interactive nature of this special text, I’m sure.

i hear no evil

Last evening I was looking through an audiobook hub of a p2p file sharing network. Yes, purely for academic purposes. As I logged on I read the introductory notes written by the hub moderators. There were the usual audiobook requests, swaps announced, but I noticed something vastly more interesting. The nefarious users of the audiobook hub have organized an online book discussion*. Libraries take note. There is a market for online book discussions. Online book discussions make sense for people who use audiobooks. Often people who use audiobooks are busy individuals, so being able to participate in a discussion without having to travel anywhere special might be appealing to them.

It must be said however, that years ago the library at which I worked organized an email book discussion with the library’s sister library Down Under. Perhaps it was a lack of promotion, but the project was dud. If I had to blame something, it would be email. Does anyone enjoy using email? It might solve the problem of distance, but it doesn’t take the best part of conversations into account: the fact that they are in real time.

If anyone has library experience with online book discussions, I’d like to hear about it!.

*The book is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon which I happen to have read. If the timing works out, I’m going to participate so I can see how it compares to other book discussions.

uh oh

we’re screwed

riaa cd swap for libraries

There have been a number of posts (jessamyn, where are your permalinks?!) regarding the expected bad treatment libraries are getting from the RIAA. It even was the subject on a message board on what appears to be a Transformers fan site.

Jenny suggested starting a database detailing what was sent to each library and I think that’s a good idea. Since we’re all sharing minded librarians, we should be finding good homes for CDs we don’t need. I spent about 5 minutes putting together the RIAA CD Swap for Libraries. There you can list what you have to give away, and find some stuff your library might like.

The URL is long and atrocious, and the UI of SeedWiki isn’t polished, but it is free and quick. Maybe this will be of some use.


As people were filtering into the room to sit in on a class of mine tonight, I had my Bloglines account up. Lo and behold someone mentioned the article in Time titled “Meet Joe Blog.” His comment was something to the effect of, “Those blogthings are a big deal!” It was his first introduction to the subject.

I was slightly taken aback as to how mainstream blogs are.* My response was that yes, blogs are neato and I asked if anyone would be interested in learning about blogging. No one else had read the article, so I gave a quick explanation of the subject and a few people seemed to think it was a cool concept.

Maybe a class on blogging is in the works for the library patrons.

*I hope as they get even more common, we all will be exposed to less metablogging. Will they become so blasé that we don’t have to read or think about them anymore? I bet the only writing going on about, say, landline telephones is in relation to people using cellular (or satellite or VoIP) telephones. Landlines are so accepted (in developed countries) that not many people find their use interesting. I bet it will be quite some time until that’s the case regarding blogs. I hate to be negative, but it is getting a bit repetitive. Am I wrong? (And yes, I’m well aware that I’m propagating the repetition. 😉 )