May 2005
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Month May 2005

do i know you?

Living and working in the same town, it isn’t uncommon that I bump into library patrons while doing things like walking my dog or grocery shopping. Often, people aren’t quite sure where to place me, and when they do put two and two together, they sometimes seemed surprised. I get the feeling that they think of librarians how I thought of my teachers in grade school – never not at school. Sometimes I get to hear how the info I gave them helped, which is a really great thing.

I mention this because the last two times I stepped into the computer store, I noticed library patrons. They somehow made their way toward me, took notice, and proceeded to ask some questions about computers. I was sure to tell them that this advice was off-the-library-record and gave them my $0.02. I am, however, tempted to count the questions in the Reference tally. I’ll be sure to report back if it happens a third time, scoring me a turkey.

the games people play

We’re going to play a little game. A much hyped electronic device will be released in the next little bit, and here are some details. Do you know what it is?

Reading, collaboration

3 fast processors

Social networks, learning

Always online

Got it yet?

Digital media hub

Problem solving, research

All High Definition content

Will make millions of dollars this December

Any luck? The device in question is the XBOX 360. For more details on the (quite amazing) specs of the machine, see all of the links from The Xbox 360 Unveiled on slashdot, but let me say here that the thing will have more computing power than any machine on which you might be reading this right now.

The most interesting announcement to me was the fact that all XBOX 360s will be able to participate in XBOX Live, which is the online component to the system, for free (though the free accounts will be limited). And all XBOX games will be Live ready. XBOX Live allows players to do things like create an online identity, participate in multiplayer games and download additional content. This will be a huge sphere of information and social interaction in which libraries aren’t present. I’m not saying that libraries need to have an online presence on XBOX Live (if anyone wants to pay me to do that, I’m listening), but simply that we need to be aware it is there.

Sadly, there’s another way in which libraries won’t be present when it comes to XBOX 360: meeting the cultural needs of our younger patrons. To my knowledge there aren’t many libraries that circulate videogames, although doing so would greatly increase libraries’ relevancy for many young people. So would holding gaming nights at the library, like Ann Arbor Library District and Bloomington Public Library The mission statement at the library for which I work states that we’re to “meet the informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs” of our community. What about you?

If yours says something similar, and you’re a member library of the Metropolitan Library System, you’re in luck. Jenny and I are organizing and writing a grant to bring gaming to MLS libraries. We’re hoping to get a “Gaming at Your Library” kit that can be circulated to member libraries. The kit will consist of the necessary equipment to hold a gaming night at a library. The details of the equipment aren’t 100% solidified, but we’re looking to get about 12 consoles (6 Playstations, 6 XBOX 360), 11 LCDs, 1 projector, 1 screen, and perhaps some headphones and stereo equipment. With readymade PR, this kit will be a no-brainer way to captivate the young patrons of MLS libraries.

To get things started, there’s the Gaming at Your Library tech summit. From there, we’re going to accept member libraries’ requests to be part of the action. More details about the hardware, games we’re going to choose, and other developments will follow. We’re also looking for comments and suggestions, so don’t be shy.

IM Security

Libraries are concerned with the security of their computers. This is a good thing. Every time I talk to librarians about IM in their libraries, they ask about the security risks involved. Because of this I’m always on the lookout for news related to malware being spread via IM clients.

I’ve read a decent amount of “doom and gloom on the horizon” type articles, but very little about actual events. But this morning Trojan Targets AIM was in my aggregator [via bigblueball].

A Trojan continued to spread Monday among America Online instant messaging clients, and installs its backdoor on the infected PC when trusting users click on a link within the line “Check out this” or “i thought youd wanna see this” from a buddy on their AIM contact list.

Dubbed “Oscarbot” by McAfee and “Doyorg” by Symantec, the Trojan doesn’t spread automatically when users download and run the file linked in the instant message. Instead, it opens a port and listens for instructions on IRC (Internet Relay Channel); the attacker must specifically order each infected machine to start spreading.

It propagates by sending the same message to every buddy in the system’s AOL Instant Messenger client’s address book.

The rest of the article details that the purpose of this is for the creation of zombie networks, and that the usual antivirus software should catch this thing.

Has anyone or anyone you know been infected with this?

you do what?

I received a phone call from a neighboring library yesterday. The pleasant woman on the phone asked if we allow patrons to use flash drives on our computers. I replied in the positive, and asked why they prohibited this. Guess what she said? She said that there was no policy because she’d never heard of flash drives before. She didn’t think flash drives would be a good idea because they don’t even allow patrons to use floppy discs in their machines.

When I caught my breath I asked and found out that this policy is in place because they’ve had some troubles with viruses in the past. I guess one way to keep your public computers clean is to have them put to little use. To be fair, I just called and confirmed that they don’t have any computers with productivity software loaded. No Word, Powerpoint, Wordperfect, &c. Just Internet Explorer. So I suppose the issue isn’t just floppies or USB drives, but much larger.

I don’t mention this to pick on them or poke fun, but rather because I was utterly shocked about these restrictive and backwards policies. I can understand a library not having the funds for computers or software, but to have computers and be this extremely restrictive?

I’m wondering how this might change my perspective about implementing technology in libraries. How much of an anomaly is this library? My familiarity with things like IM and wireless in libraries and how normal it is for many librarians I know perhaps drastically skews my perception of things. Are there any articles, blogs or books being written about these very basic technologies in libraries? Maybe a number of years ago. It is sad to think that some libraries are frozen in time in this way.

real time conference reporting

Michael and Jenny are attending and speaking at the super-hip conference Syndicate, Aggregate, Communicate:
New Web Tools in Real Applications for Libraries, Companies and Regular Folk

I’m not there, but at least Michael is giving me an idea of what is going on.


Public Library Association, March 2006
-Making Traditional Library Services Teen Friendly

Internet Librarian 2005, 23-26 October
-Preconference Workshop: Technology Planning for Libraries: Avoiding Technolust and Technobust
-Hardware Solutions
-Top Tech Trends for Public Libraries (panel discussion)

Internet Librarian International, 10-12 October 2005
– Digital Tools for Collaboration
– Tools & Gadgets for the Millennial Librarian

South Dakota Library Association, October 2005
-Workshop: Blogging 101

Ontario Library Association/Education Institute Audio Sessions: Tech Tuesdays: Talking with Techies Series
-Instant Messaging (IM) & Collaboration: Breaking Down Boundaries

BlogU, September 18th 2005

Metropolitan Library System, August 25th 2005
Blogging 101 [ppt]

North Suburban Library System, August 10th 2005
Fast, Cheap and Easy: Instant Messaging in Libraries [ppt]
IM Bibliography word doc

Metropolitan Library System, August 8th 2005
Blogging 101 [ppt]

North Suburban Library System, July 7th 2005
-Instant Messaging in Libraries

American Library Association, June 2005
-Seamless Transitions to College: Creating Successful Collaboration Programs (panel discussion)

Canadian Library Association, June 2005
Keeping Current: Gadgets & Tools
Blogging& RSS: Applications and Technology (panel discussion)

SLCPL Staff Day, “”Hot Gadgets & Tech Trends,” 5.18.2005
-20 Gadgets and Trends in 30 Minutes

Downers Grove Public Library, 5.10.2005
-Instant Messaging in Libraries

Computers in Libraries, March 2005
-Dead Technology Panel
Collaboration & IM: Breaking Down Boundaries[2.3 MB pdf]
-Technology Planning for Libraries: Avoiding Technolust and Technobust
Top Ten Things to Stay Tech Current

Oak Forest High School, Monday, 2.28.2005
-Blogging and You

Downers Grove Public Library, Wednesday, 2.16.2005
-What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You: Spyware and Your Computer

Online Social Networks 2005
The Library Blogosphere: Toward a Working Taxonomy

Internet Librarian 2004
-Closing Keynote: Wacky World of Gadgets Internet Librarian 2004
Fast, Cheap and Easy: Instant Messaging in Libraries [ppt]
Top Ten Things to Stay Tech Current
-Books on MP3 in the Library

Metropolitan Library System September 2004 Tech Summit
What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You: Spyware and Computers in Public Libraries [ppt] or [low bandwidth text file]

Suburban Library System Spring and Fall 2004
Blogging 101 [ppt]

Suburban Library System Spring 2003
-Introduction to Chat