February 2008
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Month February 2008

shelf reading time!

Flickr user Shinyville mashed up my photo of talking books at the Oregon State Library. Nice!

you hear the darndest things in library meetings

I’m posting these quotes as a continuation of my thinking process about what I see as a developing reactionary movement in librarianship. Not that there hasn’t always been a “let’s do it the old way” contingent in libraries, but I think it is perhaps more unified than in the past. I hate to be pessimistic and/or so centered on this very moment of the profession, but I can’t help but think that, like much of the information world, we’re at a crossroads. I’m not sure we’ll collectively choose the right direction. I hear about great things happening in some libraries, but I also hear about too many things similar to the quotes below. Once upon a time my jaw dropped when people would report things like this. Am I jaded now? As requested, I’ll protect the sources that have emailed me or passed these along in hushed tones in libraries and at conferences.

Where: A long range plan meeting.
Who: The library director.
Quote: (multiple times throughout the meeting): I hate computers, I hate computers, I hate computers.

Where: A library redesign furniture meeting.
Who: Adult Services staff.
Quote: (in response to the high table and stool combo being unusable for laptopping): We don’t want them to be too comfortable!

Where: An everyday conversation.
Who: IT staff.
Quote: (in response to installing Firefox on public computers) But then they would have a choice.

Where: Circ desk.
Who: Circ clerk.
Quote: (in response to a patron asked to place a reserve) Sorry, that’s not my job. [walks away]

I don’t think I need to comment on these quotes except to say that they’re so bad they’re caricatural.

Let’s not end the work week on a negative note. Michael Casey’s post It’s About Me, and You is about responding to disagreeable comments in meetings and it really resonated with me. Libraries won’t progress unless committed individuals stand up and respond to things that make them bristle. Now is the time for boldness.

new blog: No Shelf Required

Do you have a list of people you wish would blog about what they’re doing in their libraries? Sue Polenka, Head of Reference at Wright State University’s Paul Laurence Dunbar Library was on my such list. She emailed to tell me I can erase her name. She’s started a blog called No Shelf Required. She calls it a “moderated discussion of the issues surrounding eBooks, for librarians and publishers.”

I hope that Sue fills us in on the eBook scene at her library because I understand that she’s transformed their reference collection and increased library usage. I also wouldn’t mind if she got a bit off topic and told us about how the library has been called a “hero” by students because of their gaming events. And they’re way into IM. Yay.

Thanks, Sue!

all sorts of goodness from Vancouver Public Library

How are Canadians so cool? Not only does the Vancouver Public Library have a beautiful, entirely usable website that features library users on the front page, they also have a neat set of programs coming up. Here’s a bit of the press release:


(Vancouver, B.C.) – From February 19 to March 11, the Vancouver Public Library will host a lively exchange of ideas and discussion at Speak Up 2008: My Virtual World, where participants will explore the role of technology in our lives.

During this intriguing four-part series, expert panelists representing a broad range of perspectives on technology in the virtual and real worlds will address four key aspects of e-activity: Online Privacy, Gaming, Information Online and the Social Impacts of Our Virtual World. Participants are invited to share their thoughts about the role of technology in our world and how the rapidly advancing virtual world is increasingly intersecting with our daily lives.

There’s also a nice looking PDF, SpeakUp 2008 Booklet, My Virtual World, that contains info about the events, and lists relevant library books and databases. What an interesting and timely series of talks.

Ok, one more thing about the front page of the VPL website. Take a look at how much above the fold screen real estate they devote to featuring a library user. About one fifth, right? Someone made the decision to be literally user centered in this case, and it works. It illustrates that the library is full of people. It is social.

And each patron quote highlights a related library service.

Their website is newly redesigned, and I know this because they’re offering a one hour “Virtual VPL: The New Library Website” class. Clearly I’m a fan. Way to go VPL!

walking paper scraps

→ Format war (final!) update: Toshiba quits HD DVD, Sony’s Blu-Ray (already in over 10.5 million PS3s) wins. Change your libraries’ orders now! Blu-Ray could be the last removable, physical media. Wow. Does that amaze anyone else?

→ A group in Portland is trying to change the name of NE 42nd Avenue to Douglas Adams Boulevard

Brain control headset for gamers

It can also read emotions of players and translate those to the virtual world. “The headset could be used to improve the realism of emotional responses of AI characters in games,” said Ms Le.

“If you laughed or felt happy after killing a character in a game then your virtual buddy could admonish you for being callous,” she explained.

i broke up with gradient (making new themes in keynote)

I have a confession. The gradient theme in Apple’s sideshow software Keynote and I had a passionate love affair. But like many bright lights, it burnt fast. I can’t really tell if the breakup was all about me or the theme’s fault. Whatever the case, I’m through with it. I think it has something to do with the time that it let me down in the big, bright rooms with somewhat anemic projectors at Internet Librarian last year.

It isn’t entirely obvious how to design a new theme in Keynote so I’ll report what I learned from a post on MacTips. There’s a small divider directly underneath the “View” button in Keynote’s menu. Pull this down to reveal master slides.

You can design the slides to spark a new flame, then choose “File, Save Theme” to move the relationship along. You even get to give it a pet name. I’m sure I’ll fuss over it for a few days, but I’m aiming for a new theme with white letters on a grey background with light blue highlights. It might remind you of the design on walkingpaper.org, should you ever click through from your feed reader. Once I get it squared away I’ll upload it here in case it is good and you ever want a minimalist Keynote theme. *sigh*

Here’s where my new love and I have planned for the Spring:

26 Feb
National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services Annual, Philladelphia
The New Information Economy: The Changing Value of Content

3 Apr
Multonomah County Library Staff Day Keynote, Portland (!)
The Read/Write Web Opportunity

4 Apr
Margaret Chisholm Lecture, University of Washington iSchool, Seattle
Work on This, Please: Facing Current Challenges in Librarianship

6-11 Apr
Computers in Libraries, Crystal City
Various sessions and workshops

22 Apr
Suffolk County Handheld Libraries Conference Keynote, Bellport
Library in your Pocket

7 May
Massachusetts Library Association Annual, Falmouth
Having a Phone: IM Reference

8 May
Medical Library Association Annual, Chicago
Web 2.0 Panel

22 May
Catalan Library Association, Barcelona
The Read/Write Web Opportunity

27 May
ProBiblio, Amsterdam
Transatlantic Tech Librarianship

walking paper scraps

Ditch Binders and go with Chicago Screws
Oh my, I do love office supplies.

How to kill an elephant path
Social pressure and user desires

Is text-messaging the new word processor?
Cellphone novels in Japan

Another nail in HD-DVD’s coffin
Blu-Ray might be aroud for a little bit, but I still think that the move to consumer HD video will largely leap over physical formats.

Mixed Reality Treasure Hunt
With your Nintendo DS in Japan. Libraries are the perfect setting for mixed reality games.

(some) free wifi from starbucks

If Starbucks junkies want wifi they have to pay T-Mobile a usurious fee, but not for too much longer. Starbucks is ditching T-Mobile and partnering with AT&T which creates a nice little Starbucks, iTunes Music Store, AT&T, iPhone niche. A result of this switch is 2 free hours of wifi per day for people that use Starbucks loyalty cards. Or maybe 2 hours per loyalty card regardless of who is using it. I’m already thinking how the system is going to be gamed.

This will likely result in more people putting money on Starbucks cards and more people visiting Starbucks locations. The program must be the result of Starbucks learning from libraries and other sensible places that offer free wifi. I wonder how much traffic Starbucks would divert from libraries if they offered unlimited free wifi. Whatever the case, I’ll stick with my local favorite.
[photo credit]

who are these people?

After posting about the WCCLS website I decided to take a look at the Multnomah County Library Website to see what was going on there. They have 67 really nice pictures that randomly display on the homepage. No, I didn’t keep hitting refresh to find the exact number. I got curious and found their /images directory to be open for browsing.

Reading the staff picks is always fun and they do a good job keeping the content fresh. What I’d really like to see are the staff behind these staff picks. It is nice to know that these books are liked by a librarian, but it would be even nicer to know who exactly is doing the recommending. The choice to keep these selectors anonymous keeps the issue of the librarians’ privacy and level of exposure at bay. Devoting some effort to working this out could take their already very pretty site to the next level. I have no idea if they’ve had these discussions, but it might be as easy as asking people if their willing to put themselves out there. There isn’t much information about them, but I like seeing pictures of (what I assume to be) the librarians behind the Hennepin County librarians’ blog on some of their subject guides.

I wonder if we’ll see “Feels comfortable being a personality on the web” in a library job description anytime soon.

WCCLS Photo Contest

Hey, the powers of RSS. It is just after 9pm PST on the 10th of February and I just got a news release from the future. I guess it just passed midnight on their server.

Anyway, I really like this WCCLS Photo Content. What a great way to let WCCLS customers shine. They’d get an entry from me, but:

Officers, employees and representatives of WCCLS, the fourteen WCCLS member libraries and their immediate families, employees of any sponsor and their immediate families are ineligible to participate

and that makes sense. I like that that this type of interaction and relationship development is coming from the library system level. Not only does it make their website more interesting, it is good leadership from which member libraries can learn.