December 2006
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Month December 2006

books and libraries on digg

Yesterday libraries got some love in a post titled “Librarians stake their future on open source” on digg. There is (only) one semi-contrarian comment in the bunch. In response to the comment

“Yes, there are a lot of people who work at a Library on digg. ;-)”

someone chimed in with

“i guess librarians have a lot more time to read digg since everyone else is at home reading digg too, rather than reading books.”

Then today this appears: Digg this story if you want a ‘Books’ section under Entertainment on Digg!!. Apparently this isn’t the best digg etiquette, but I found it funny nevertheless.

five things

So I was tagged by two people to list five things people don’t know about me.

  • I’m a minimalist and dislike clutter. Even things like crown molding “are a bit too much.”
  • I spend a little time every day dreaming about selling what I own and traveling to far off places.
  • If I could be a rap star or rock star I’d choose to be a rap star.
  • I like fog.
  • I have a phrase that I say out loud to myself when I’m freaked out and/or exhausted while climbing or cycling. It helps.

I’m sorry if you previously knew any of these things. You can have a full refund.

comment prone

My post on the game/toy Line Rider, appropriate titled line rider appears on the first page of results for the google search for, you guessed it, line rider. How did i figure this out? After a number of random comments from young peopke appeared on the post, I figured the post had to have a fairly high ranking.

There are a few small lessons to be gleaned from these comments. First, the fact that so many kids have left comments should indicate just how normal it is for them. It is totally standard for them to participate in a conversation on a blog they’ve never seen before. Second, and this is no surprise to us, some kids need serious help with their information literacy. A few of the comments thank me for making the game. Isn’t it fascinating that they make this incorrect connection?

I’ll let you draw your own conclusion from this comment:

Line rider is the coolest game on the net….its so easy and fin to play…here at school, they blocked it, but now i just save it on my computer at home and bring it in on the flash drive!!!! its amazing!!!!


If you’re a librarian I bet you have a thing for words. Here’s the game for you. Verbotomy is a bit like a structured version of Wordie. However, instead of listing words that you like you’re presented with a definition and you have to create the word for it. Also included is a funny comic that is an example of the word in action. Today’s definition is:

DEFINITION: To offer non-denominational, inter-faith seasonal greetings, which are nevertheless a tad politically incorrect.

My first thoughts were tannenbomb and holigrate but you can do better.

The community of players votes on the words provided, and points are assigned.

There’s even a Verbotomy RSS page where you can grab your preferred flavor of feed so you don’t have to remember to go to the page.

rescuing data from the OPAC

Part of the long and major redesign of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library website mandated a browsable list of the feature films available. The idea, I’m pretty sure, is to have an online version of the title list binder that sits by the movies. There are a number of ways I could have accomplished this. Here’s a list or possible methods, ranked effort required and the resulting usability:

  • link from the website to the Word doc that already exists
  • link from the website to a PDF
  • copy and paste the titles into a Movable Type post to display them on the web
  • copy and paste the titles into a Movable Type post, but link the titles into the OPAC
  • make an individual post for each title, including a link to the OPAC, info about the film, a link to the IMDB’s entry on the film, and a place for user comments

films at the ford
There might be some more usable and labor intensive ways to do this, but let’s stop there because that’s what I decided to do. On one hand, it was bad that I couldn’t get access to the ILS and have some awesome scripts to automate this a la the WPOpac, but on the other hand, doing what I did wasn’t that much more terrible than linking titles to the OPAC in a plain old HTML document. Plus, since it is in this blog post format, other staff can easily keep the list up to date without the need for much instruction.

The pages could use some design tweaking, but since we’re going to have a whole new design in the next few months, it doesn’t make sense to spend that much more time on it. The important part is that the content and mechanics are in place. Speaking of mechanics, comments are moderated until approval. I don’t see this changing, mostly because this is built on Movable Type so spam will be very difficult to control.

infernal affairs

I see this little project as an experiment. If successful it will be an indication that the very lofty goals we initially made for the new site (now relegated to Phase 2) were on track, and that we shouldn’t forget about them.

You all are getting a sneak preview since this isn’t yet linked from anywhere on the TFML site. Poke around, see if you find anything goofy, and leave some movie reviews or comments.

Films at the Ford

meebo love

Jessamyn and I got mentioned on the meebo blog today:

Turns out that locked-down computers, reference librarians who always want to be in touch with their patrons, and the desire to make libraries fun and friendly have given meebo and meebo me the perfect opportunity to shine.

Just recently, we smiled when reading Jessamyn’s blog where she helped a librarian post these posters advocating the use of meebo instead of download clients. Also, Aaron has been traipsing around libraries promoting meebo me as well. He explains, meebo me doesn’t require a download and the widget can be placed directly on the library’s website.

Thanks for keeping meebo in mind when you’re visiting your local library and public computer clusters. We’re happy to help out!

Just in case you haven’t seen it, meebo me is a small web to IM gateway widget that librarians can put on webpages that allows people without IM accounts to IM the library’s screen name. It is pretty much 90% of the functionality of vendor driven web-based chat products….but it is FREE. And it just works. And doesn’t commandeer their whole browser. Etc, etc.

Here’s the full post on the meebo blog: librarian love. There are a few nice, “Yay libraries!” comments on it.

Disclaimer: I would have posted about this even if meebo hadn’t just sent me a sweet t-shirt.

[thanks rob!]

the librarian dialogues

This afternoon I stumbled across “A short comical satire about a group of librarians that take their job very serious” uploaded by YouTube user f4tk1dx. The person that wrote this movie must have worked in a library before.

a new opportunity

NPPLI’m happy to announce that in addition to the other things I’m doing, I’m now also the director of the North Plains Public Library. Located about 20 miles outside of Portland, this small town of 1755 people has a beautiful library building that is staffed by three paid employees and a ton of volunteers. The 2500sqft building is only 6 months old. The previous three years the library was housed in the storage room of the town’s community center.

The job is very part time but is going to keep me busy. You might be able to imagine that I’ve got a bunch of potential ideas for the library, but am in the process of learning as much as I can before actually doing anything. What excites me most about the opportunity is that, being 6 months old, the library hasn’t had time to learn bad habits or nurture sacred cows. Tabula rasa!

I just spent an hour in the building and noticed a few things:

  • The library has no reference desk. This indicates that the focus for this library might be content and community. Progressive!
  • The shelves are already near full. Hmm.
  • There’s no wifi. Yet.
  • There are 12 internet stations managed by SAM.
  • The library signage is pretty tolerable.
  • We have a Scrabble club. AWESOME.

Take a look at the building in my flickr set: North Plains Public Library

free wifi in portland!

Portland’s airport is one of my favorites. It is clean, attractive, and easy to get to the gate. And importantly, once at the gate, there’s free wireless.

Yesterday, Portland released a free, advertising supported wireless network throughout the downtown and nearby area east of the Willamette.

12 blocks and it’ll reach me!!


Tim Lauer imagines

teachers and students on class field trips taking along one of the laptops to blog the trip and upload photographs for the students back at the school.

Sounds good to me.

game as web interface

Steffen P Walz, a game designer and cultural anthropologist designed a great navigation system for his website. There are four mini games, each an archetype of a game genera: Achiever, Killer, Explorer, and Socializer. When the website viewer/game player completes a small task, the content on the web page changes. There’s also a standard navigation bar.

The first librarian to implement something like this as the interface for the the YS/YA portion of their website will get the “walking paper seal of approval” and a big handshake from me. And importantly they’ll get more use of their website.

If you check out his site, Playbe’s Place, you can try the game based navigation and read his ideas about the “military entertainment complex,” pervasive computing, “suvelitainment,” and the game generation.