November 2008
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Month November 2008

walking paper scraps

Don’t talk to strangers — scan them instead.
2D codes + fabric + mobiles phones = people wearing hyperlinks to their social networking profiles. Next up is RFID chips broadcasting your profile wherever you go. It could make for serendipitous connections!

Why Apple is great at interfaces when others are not
Short answer: Because they take fun and pleasure into account.

Rule of Thumb – Giving a Speech

When giving a public science lecture to a general audience, there will always be one weirdo who asks questions that have nothing to do with your lecture. There will also be one smart-aleck who asks questions to show how smart he is. The faster you silence both of them, the happier your audience will be.

Obama’s Victory Speech Does Well on BitTorrent

Within 24 hours of president-elect Barack Obama delivering his victory speech to the hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Chicago, another hundred thousand gathered in a BitTorrent swarm, to download a copy of the historic event.

Type Tester
A handy CSS tool. 1. Choose values for different elements and see them displayed. 2. Three columns let you compare. 3. Snag the CSS.

genre X is doing things right

Genre-X is a library book group for 20 and 30somethings at the Oak Park Public Library. They don’t always meet in the library, however. They meet at local watering holes. This is great, but it isn’t the only thing they’re doing right. They recently had a hi-lo gaming event with a Nintendo Wii and board games, and DJs. What’s more, they had a group member draw and hand screen posters for the event too. This seems like a small thing but it was quite a nice touch. It let a group member contribute to the project, emphasized something local and DIY, and provided added value that a lame 8.5×11 photocopy simply would not have added.

A follow up post states that event was a big success, attracting over 60 people to the library after hours.

Two bonuses. 1. The genre-x blog is particularly attractive. 2. When you visit the “about” page on the site, it doesn’t first go into details about the group or the library. It highlights the people behind the group.

Congrats to the folks at OPPL for connecting with a group that libraries have traditionally ignored.

drupal on the brain, drupal4lib camp

I started my first real foray into Drupal last week while assembling a home base for DCPL’s upcoming “X Things” program. I’m way into it. I’ve always heard how very customizable and extensible it is but working with it has really opening my eyes. Catching on to the Drupal way of doing things didn’t take too long thanks to the great documentation at the Drupal handbooks. If you feel like you’ve got a handle on WordPress stuff and feel like trying something new, I suggest you install Drupal somewhere and have a go. What’s the worst that could happen? For some nice library related starter info, see Amanda Etches-Johnson’s recent series of posts about how she’s used Drupal at McMaster University: on drupal, part one, on drupal, part two. Here’s hoping for a third installment!

With Drupal on my mind and considering that it is going to be a not small part of my life for the foreseeable future, I’m way excited for drupal4lib camp in February. I’ll be attending, learning a bunch and I hope to be able to share some stuff too. It will be hosted at the not-even-open-yet-brand-new-Darien Library which I’m looking forward to touring. Thanks in advance to the Darien crew for hosting.

[image by john blyberg]

make libraries easy

Speaking of World Usability Day, here’s one of my latest Moo Minicards.

infinite stacks

The irony of posting a picture of these beautiful shelves on World Usability Day isn’t lost on me. I do quite enjoy them though.
[via] who writes: I’ve never wanted to be a librarian, but I’d totally love this as my workspace. Ooh! And then I could wear my cute librarian shoes! Eek!

cute signs from the port orchard public library

The shellphone really cracks me up! Yes, they’re using the dreaded red circle and line but they’re doing a nice job creating zones and not unnecessarily attempting to ban other silent use of portable devices. The nautical theme does a good job of reflecting their community and surroundings too.

These were taken by Karen Messo at the Port Orchard Public Library and used with permission.

librarian call buttons

One of the things we’re doing in the class I’m teaching right now for the iSchool at the University of Washington is reconsidering how libraries do Reference work. I asked students to brainstorm about the topic and thought this idea from Lianne Ho was pretty neat. I’d link to her class blog but it is behind UW authentication.

What about the service expectations at places like restaurants? Restaurant patrons don’t just prefer to be approached by the wait staff–they expect it! Especially in more formal establishments, it’s expected that wait staff will monitor patrons to provide immediate or even preemptive service (ex. refilling water glasses before they’re empty).

Some establishments (generally more casual ones) have the equivalent of an attendant call button at tables. Patrons will signal that they need something and (ideally) someone will come by within a minute or two.

I’m intrigued with the idea of using a similar model at the library. What if there was a way for patrons to page the librarian and get near-immediate assistance where they are? Perhaps there could be an icon on the computer desktop, for patrons who need assistance at one of the workstations. There could also be “call” buttons at the end of the stacks.

when signage goes wrong

“The Pay and Go box at the new North Oshawa medical clinic seems to have some usability issues.”
[photo by rdolishny]

what makes you mad on the web?

No one likes a complainer but it’s still sometimes fun to share pet peeves. Amanda Etches-Johnson and I were doing just that this afternoon and then decided to take it to twitter. You can find my web pet peeves at my twitter page (or on the sidebar of this site if you’re here and not in your feed reader). What’s more, you can see what gets other people riled up by searching twitter for #webpetpeeve. Tweet away, I’m all ears.
[photo by Sakurako Kitsa]

the TFML isn’t afraid to make changes

My former place of work is making some big changes. While the library has a very traditional appearance it isn’t afraid to slaughter the occasional sacred cow and try new things. I’m sure that ricklibrarian will give us some more updates once he finishes writing his Readers’ Advisory book but from what I know, they’re changing things to give more space to DVDs, audiobooks and teens. What’s leaving? Back issues of periodicals and a significant portion of the print reference collection. Rick is a dyed-in-the-wool-long-time reference librarian but recognizing the value in jettisoning no longer used items and procedures. Cheers to Rick, Anne and the TFML!
Also, I’ve gotta say that I always wanted to do something like this to the reference desk: