November 2004
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Month November 2004

some meta

My last post wasn’t titled because I didn’t know 100% if it was going to appear. It did and maybe you were wondering what that was all about.

I’ve added a section to the site titled “Presentations” so that I have a place to send people after I give one. Not all of the presentations are links to the content. Yet.

Thanks for reading and have a good week.

Top Ten Things to Stay Tech Current

UPDATE to #8

I promised during one of my cybertours (short informational sessions) at the conference that I’d post my thoughts here so that people could refer back. You’re might be doing some of these things already, but you may pick up something.

1. Have a search box into your OPAC on the front page of your website. This way people won’t have to hunt for something they are certainly after. Cost = web developer staff time.

2. Related to #1. If your electronic resources offer remote useage, make these easily available on your website. Barcode authentication is nice. If you’re thinking about subscribing to a database, make the remote access issue a part of the consideration process. Cost = web developer staff time.

3. Have CD burning available for patrons at your workstations. Patrons with slow connectivity at home may want to download large files with fast library connections. Also, they may be working on large documents not easily fit on floppies. Cost = The hardware is not expensive and not too difficult to install. If you’re replacing computers soon the hardware will likely be standard.

4. Related to #3. No dumb computers. I’ve heard Steven Abram (does corporate policy prevent him from blogging? He’s the only vendor I enjoy hearing speak and I bet an Abram blog would be great) state this sentiment bluntly a few times. People have expectations about computers, and ours need to behave like theirs do, but better. Cost = Staff time to configure a protected but free situation. Ghosting software is cheap and a good start. Probably you’ll find a net gain in time.

5. Related to #4. Hassle free browsing. Make sure your users aren’t bombarded by pop-ups from spyware or update/renewal notices for your antivirus program. Allowing these intrusions confuse them. Cost = Perhaps an initial investment of time, but there will be a substantial gain when your users aren’t dependent upon you answering their questions about what to do when something pops up.

6. Answer patron emails quickly. Responding back in 48 or 24 hours isn’t cutting it. Cost = Staff time to answer more questions. If you’re responsive and market this service more people will start emailing you.

7. Use Instant Messaging. There are over 80 million Americans using IM. At least one of them is a patron of yours. Make the library available to them in a relavant way by signing up for a free screen name and marketing it. Make signing on to IM a RefDesk duty. Cost = A bit of staff training time.

8. Have a wireless network available. This is convenient for patrons, and is great PR. Tell your community that your library understands trends in infotech. Staff will appreciate the flexibility of being able to connect anywhere in the building as well. Cost = This will very greatly. However, I’ve spoken with large libraries that have made done this for under $1000. UPDATE: If you don’t have $1K to burn, also keep in mind that you could put one access point in for about $50 if you shop wisely. Typical range is about a 150 foot radius indoors, so one access point can do some serious good!

9. & 10. Use blogs and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) to your advantage. Don’t do it becuase it is trendy, but do it because it can help you. Whether it is a simple staff intranet page, or a new materials page something you’re doing can be made easier by using blogs. RSS can save you time when trying to catch up on professional news. (For instance, you could be reading this through Bloglines and have tons of other pages’ content a click away. Cost = The software is free. Staff time will be involved getting a blog going, but it will save time once it is being used.

Bonus: To stay tech current you’ll need training on anything you implement. Ideally the entire library should be not only aware, but excited about new projects. To accomplish this, get them familiar with the technology and clue them in about the benefits for patrons and staff. If there isn’t a staff supporting and promoting new technology in the library, no matter how flash/fancy/cool/hip/potentially useful it is, it won’t be as successful as it could. Cost = Staff time.

insert wierd title here

There is a small conversation going on over at the Librarian in Black’s post about my IM stats.

If you haven’t already, subscribe to her feed.


An excited librarian from Chicago and I talked a bit at the very end of the conference last week. She was totally amped up on blogging and wanted to get started ASAP. I gave her my email address and told her to shoot me an email when she did. She has, but she’s in a bit of a dilemma. She’s quite sure what to do now.

This is a good and important question so I replied back that I’d post about it here for the benefit of more. I have a few thoughts, but I’d like to first refer everyone an article that I found via Tame the Web. It is by Greg Schwartz and worth reading for sure. It is titled Blogs for Libraries. There’s a section perfectly titled for the above question: What do you do with a blog?

My thoughts on the subject are as follows. Only blog if it helps. Helps what? Only blog if it helps the institution you work for, helps you, helps the library community or otherwise solves some problem. Publishing to the web via blogging may seem exciting now, but if it doesn’t serve a purpose there is a good chance that it will get old and tired. If, however, some benefits blossom from your efforts, the behavior will be reinforced and it will remain exciting.

To get comfortable with the technology, start a blog and fool around a bit. Post some random things to get the feel for it and see where it takes you. If you’ve got some strong or unique views about your area of librarianship, share them with others. Remember: just because certain things seem obvious to you, doesn’t mean they are to others. With any luck, your niche will need filling in the library blogosphere and people will start reading it.

a thought on sms

Yesterday I tried to formulate why I prefer communicating via SMS for many needs. It must be because SMS is a simple and elegant solution.

Voice communication is sometimes like using a bloaty Flash animation to, say, put your address on the web: unnecessary and inappropriate. Also, it affords the user a bit of privacy should it be needed. The fact that I can communicate to others without blabbing and making an arse of myself is nice too.

SMS is a low bandwidth, minimalist form of communication.

/puts Steve Reich on the hi-fi, sits on Barcelona Chair

for real

me presenting the toilet seat
Just in case you didn’t believe me about the toilet seat.
[pic credit, thanks michael]

Internet Librarian – end note

I took this picture during the very fun end note at IL2004. I got to make fun of stuff from the 70s and talk about cool things like the sushi USB drives and LED toilet seats.

internet librarian 2004 – 2.1

I attended Steven and Michael’s “Get ‘Em Started: Teaching Weblogs to Library Stafff” session. My library’s website is blog based, run off of Movable Type, and the intention has been to utilize the power of blogs to let staff update parts of the site. So far this hasn’t been happening. But now I have some good tips when I decide to take that plunge.

Best tips of the session related to teaching blogs

-educate your staff on the value of blogs: if staff find and use blogs that are useful in their lives, they’ll understand what the library is trying to accomplish

-have hands on sessions: give them a list of definitions, and have outcomes to which you teach

-answer questions about what the library is doing: everyone needs to be knowledgeable

-teach them how to post, tweak, and manage their time: they should follow libraries style and be committed to posting frequently

There was good content about getting administration and users involved with blogs too.

Here is a link to their presentation [power point]

internet librarian 2004 – 2:lunch

I just enjoyed some falafel sandwiches with Greg, Sarah and Sarah. We talked some shop, scrabble, music, and I told depressing stories. I was happy to hear that Sarah (on the far right) might be doing IM reference soon.

IM hoax redux

A while back I wrote a short post regarding an IM hoax going around. Seems like the hoax has picked up some serious steam. Teens everywhere must be freaking out! is a top search result for the text of the hoax. Many, many, people have visited the site looking for some info about their AIM getting cancelled.

To repeat, there’s nothing to be concerned about. Your AIM account isn’t in jeopardy.

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