August 2004
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Month August 2004

hear ye, hear ye

This morning about 20 of us got to the library an hour early for a meeting. On the agenda was some basic library news and updates of library technology projects. The head of the Adult Services and I spoke about networked printing, wireless, books on MP3 and Virtual Reference/Instant Messaging. I made four lists containing five points for each technology as the morning’s handout. It was nice to see somewhat confused and concerned looks ease into understanding as lightbulbs turned bright.

We’ve been doing Virtual Reference for about one year. Wireless has been up and running for a bit less than that. Books on MP3 have been circulating since February and networked printing is three weeks old. Since we didn’t meet to talk about the new technologies as they were implemented, choosing any other choice of time to meet was a bit arbitrary, but necessary. I think it was planned for today because we seemed to have reached a critical mass of new things going on.

It should be the goal of staff technology trainer to get all library workers well versed in the basics of library projects. Patrons should not be met with blank stares if they ask a shelver about a library’s screen name or new self checkout terminal. It is likely unrealistic to be able to meet with every single library employee, but it shouldn’t be unrealistic to get all employees to check a staff blog.

cut out the jibba

Some rumors have been floating around about the big G entering into the IM game. The rumors comtinue and say that it would run on Jabber, the open source IM protocol. There have been no comments from Palo Alto, of course.

This is surely making people involved with Jabber excited, and perhaps making people involved with the Big 3 (AIM, YIM, and MSN) a bit nervous. Here’s an article from instant messaging planet about Google’s possible entry into IM.


Hiya. It is kinda late and I’m doing some coding. I took a break to check out what my aggregator could distract me with for 10 minutes and I ended up unsubscribing to every BBC News feed which was coming in. There were so many posts that I would never get to reading. It was a liberating experience. No more guilt hitting the “Mark All As Read” button.


Stuffy made my morning with a post about someone writing a script to send an RSS alert when his library books are overdue. I wonder if there is some password protection involved with his feed. Also, I wonder what could be accomplished using the email to RSS site Many libraries offer overdue notification via email, so a rudimentary RSS notification system could be put in place simply by giving a library a email address. Of course, anyone, should they stumble upon the feed, could read it. Choosing a very obscure email address ([email protected]) would be a somewhat reasonable way to prevent that.

I visited the site of the guy who wrote the script, Reinvented, and saw that he wrote a few other scripts too. First there’s a feed for new DVDs in his library and also quick URLs for linking to ISBNs.WOW. Seeing this kind of enthusiasm in library is exciting.

In a certain sense it is a shame that he had to go to the trouble of writing these things himself. It would have been nice for his library to provide these things for him. On the other hand, every library has limited resources (often times very limited) and can’t be all things to all people. The flipside to this thought is that libraries should be leading and guiding people in their intake of information. If libraries offered these things, they could introduce many people to new ways of dealing with information. That’s a vision I like.

This being said, my library website has active RSS feeds. As a matter of fact there is a feed for nearly every page. However, mostly due to screen real estate issues, there is no ‘XML’ graphic or the like advertising these feeds. I’m about to make some big changes to the library’s site (mostly backend, upgrading to MT 3.0) and plan to include info about RSS on the pages.

found art

Today we learned a lesson about inkjet printers. You may remember that we’ve recently made the transition to networked printing here. Things are going quite well with that, all things considered, but there was a slight aftermath. The Saturday before we were supposed to flip the switch on the networked printing I removed all of the local printers from the workstations. I piled many of the printers underneath my desk for want of any other space and one of them happned to be upside down for stacking purposes. Who would have thought that inkjet printers have a catch basin for gooey ink directly below where the cartridges rest?

Some of the above gooey ink dripped, clogged up the power button and caused a state of utter consternation. So learn from reading, not experience, don’t leave printers upside down! Of course you probably didn’t need me to tell you this.


Wowie Zowie! AOL just released their Second Annual Instant Messaging Trends Survey. They not only studied users of their IM service, but also other IM networks as well.

Technobiblio has already made some great comments about the survey’s library implications, but there a few facts worth stating here:

-Nationwide and around the world, instant messaging use is growing, with more than 7 billion [1] instant messages being sent every day worldwide, according to IDC. ComScore Media Metrix [2] reports that there are 250 million people across the globe – and nearly 80 million Americans – who regularly use instant messaging as a quick and convenient communications tool. [emphasis mine]

Think a few of the 80 million people using IM are your library patrons, or potential patrons?

-Ninety percent of Internet-savvy teens and young adults say they send instant messages, and 71 percent of those ages 22-34 say the same.

-IM Screen Name as Calling Card: When meeting someone new, those ages 13-21 are as likely to give out their IM screen names (52 percent) as their e-mail addresses (53 percent). This group is also as likely to use instant messaging (33 percent) as mobile phones (38 percent) to keep in touch with friends. Instant messaging is now tied with mobile phones (36 percent) as the preferred way to stay in touch with friends over the summer.
These facts fit well with the notion that heavily populated buddy lists are status symbols for teens. (200 is the limit when using AIM)

-IM to SMS – Watch Out!: While SMS text messaging still dominates in the mobile messaging arena, 32 percent of all mobile messengers now use an instant messaging service on their mobile device instead of, or in addition to, sending SMS text message.

My library related thoughts are this: 80 million is an impressive number. There is no way there are 80 million people using non-IM live chat for communicating. A number of companies have live chat on their websites but it is not as ubiquitous as IM. If we want to be relevant to our patrons and be on the same communications page Virtual Reference isn’t the way to do it. The public is already using IM. Having to enter another online environment to simply chat is a silly notion to them. Is VR tantamount to placing cyberhurdles between patrons and libraries?


Hello all,

This is just a quick note to let you know that I haven’t fallen off of the earth (yet) but rather am on holiday. Intermittant posting will resume the 23rd or so.


game time

Okay, this is going to be an easy one for Reference people. Where is the Librarian Action Figure this time?

IM chain hoax

Recieved from a patron this afternoon:

Dear AIM users,

Because of our overloading of our servers, we are being forced to extract our non-active AIM users. Because this is a free service, AOL has exceeded the budget for the AIM service. We are asking that you send this exact message to 20 other AIM users to ensure us that you’re an active AIM user. Our system tracking devise will pick up this message to keep you on our active list. You have 72 hours to complete this task or your service will be cancelled immediately. Starting August 10, 2004 we will be charging a small fee for registering of a screen name for AIM. Thank you for your time and for using AOL or AIM.

Mark Jenkins
AOL Time Warner
After they sent this text, they asked “Does this mean we’re going to have to pay for IM!?” I assured them that it was just a hoax, sent them a link, and told them to not be concerned. I could almost hear a sigh of relief over the computer.

11/15 Update: click here for info about the AIM hoax

call for interviews

Hiya. Michael Stephens and I are preparing an article and would like to interview as many front line library bloggers as possible. So if you work in a library and write about it, please take a few minutes to answer some questions for us. Please spread the word all over town too. Below is a link to the questions with some more info. Thanks.