March 2009
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Month March 2009

greetings from mexico!

Right now I’m in Xalapa, Mexico for the Peer Learning Meeting of the Gates Foundation’s Global Libraries Project. People attending the meeting have either received, or will be receiving grants from the Gates Foundation and I’m along to talk about Web 2.0 and library usability.

We’re going to do a few site visits, including some Web enabled all-terrain buses that travel around Mexico providing access. Does that sound as cool to anyone else as it does to me?

Here I am in full turista mode at Zempoala, where Cortés headed after arriving in Mexico.

the usable library website poster

Amanda Etches-Johnson and I presented a poster about library website usability at the 2009 Information Architecture Summit last week. What fun!


The poster was interactive. It asked readers to list things they’d like to see on library websites and nudged people toward thinking about fun, whimsical things. It wasn’t a surprise that a bunch of IAs had things to say about websites, but I was a bit surprised about how many library enthusiasts we came across.

We’re going to synthesize the suggestions that people gave us, but off the bat I can tell you that the *vast* majority of people we talked with equated library websites with OPACs. I’d like to explore this more formally.

Side note
Librarians seem to be *much better* about agreeing upon and sticking with official conference tags. I saw #ia09, #ia2009, #iasummit09, #iasummit2009, #ias09, #ias2009 on twitter. This from a bunch of people dedicated to labeling information! Fixing this is a small way in which librarians can contribute to the specialized areas of IA and User eXperience.

orbit/moo card hack


I’ve never had a handy case for my business cards. They’re the Moo variety and not a standard shape.

Turns out that Orbit and Trident packs make for great dual purpose cases, keeping the cards safe until they are deployed into my pocket. Also, my cards smell like cinnamon and mint.

Creating Future Libraries Notebooks

Word is already out on the streets but I should probably still announce the first in what will be a series of limited edition library related notebooks. I’m selling them on a new section of this site called WALKING PAPER GOODS.

Not only does this first notebook (WP01) read “Creating Future Libraries,” if you look a bit closer you’ll see that it reads “Creating the Future for Libraries.” In a totally synchronous post, Stephen Abram explains:

None of us and no organization is owed a future – no matter how wondrous its past. I believe that we adapt and create the positive future we want. Some are more fatalistic. The future just happens to them and they feel powerless to influence the outcomes.

This just about explains my thoughts and the notebook aims to emphasize positive action. In my wildest dreams people will get them as gifts from colleagues and a light bulb will turn on and a bell will ding and they’ll start thinking about creating (the) future (for) libraries.

These notebooks are optimized for brainstorming. They fit in your pocket or purse so you can have it with you wherever you go. You never know when inspiration will hit. Also, their length, 32 pages, makes them inviting. I sometimes get a funny feeling writing in notebooks I know that I’ll be carrying around for a long time because it seems like everything must be for the ages. Not so with the CFL notebooks. There’s less pressure to make everything in it totally rad which allows for more brainstorming.

Other Important Housekeeping

  • I’m sorry to report that there are no more books left to buy. They’re sold out. I’ll have about 40 of them at Computer in Libraries coming up. Otherwise, this notebook is no longer available.
  • All of the profits from this notebook will be donated to the Portland Rescue Mission.

For info about the next run of books, see WALKING PAPER GOODS or contact me to reserve copies of the next book (WP02).

A big thanks to Jenny Levine, Stephen Abram, Lauren Pressley and Rachel Bridgewater for their enthusiasm and support.

P.S. Please still think about the future of libraries even if you don’t have one of these notebooks.

Nanette is my kind of cataloger


i need your help with a presentation

I’m looking forward to Computers in Libraries later on in the month. One of the things I’m doing is giving a presentation called “The Best of the Web.” It is about “websites and tools that you can use to connect with your community, make your website better, and make your job easier and more fun.”

I have a list of sites and some strategies that I want to share but hey, I’m only one person. You know about things that I haven’t seen yet and it would be great to include some collective intelligence in the presentation.

Be assured that if you email me with your favorite new tools and websites you’ll get full credit as I’m doing my show and tell and maybe even a little thank you gift if I use something you send in.


a passionate user


one usability test is better than none

How Much Can You Learn in 73 Minutes of User Research? describes one persons experience standing on a street corner and observing bike riders.

When did you last take some time to watch how people use your library? It is possible to learn quite a bit about what people think of your institution without having to conduct a survey. Why not connect with a few of your work mates and assign some times to record the goings-on at your library or in your department. Then debrief over lunch at the end of the week and make a list of next steps.

When reviewing your observations, remember what one commenter said:

“Like it or not, in making an observation on anything you are also making an observation on yourself.”


laCie *key* drive

Quite possibly the only USB storage device I’ve been excited about for a long while, if not ever. 4GB or 8GB, $18 or $28.

I must confess that carrying around extra keys on my keyring drives me crazy so this still might have to go in my bag.

Out-of-Box Workstation


A nice concept for flexible library or learning commons spaces.