Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thing #23: Am I finally done? What am I going to do now?

Looks like I've reached the end of the road for 23 Things. Overall, this is a good program. It exposes librarians to a wide range of resources that we may or may not have explored. Some of the things we did-- YouTube and Wikis- weren't necessarily new to me, but the exercises exposed me to new features and ideas. Other things-- Del.ic.ious and Technorati-- I'd never heard of before. I think of the 23 things as kind of an information menu for librarians-- we had the opportunity to sample everything on the menu and we now get to choose which of these things we will continue to use in our careers. I'm happy to say that most of them I will try to integrate into my customer service in some way.

For someone of my technical skill level (which I consider to be about average) this is a good program. I don't know how some of my techno-phobic colleagues would rate this exercise, but for me it offered enough of a challenge without being overwhelming. Certainly I would be interested in doing another program like this one. I found it great to be able to do everything on my own time and at my own pace rather than trying to cram it all in in a day-long workshop.

Thanks! It was fun....

Thing #22: Project Gutenberg

I took a look at Project Gutenberg which I think is a really good source for audio and e-books, not to mention that you can download some sheet music there as well. Mostly they seem to have "classics", but also a number of other intriguing titles such as "Manual of Surgery." You can download audio books for free some of which feature human voice and others that feature a computer generated voice. This virtual library allows anyone access to a number of important texts. I have had many a procrastinating teenager asking for certain classic titles that are completely checked out of my branch (summer reading-- everyone of course waits until the last minute) and since finding this site I realized I can recommend that they find some of their titles on Project Gutenberg without having to get on a holds list. Another great benefit is for patrons who wish to find foreign language material-- Gutenberg offers books in a number of languages that are not represented in my library's foreign language collection-- Afrikaans or Polish or Russian for example. As I've mentioned often, I love these free online collections. I think they are a hugely important part of the future of libraries and discovering Project Gutenberg was a big plus for me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thing #21: Podcasts

It's pretty cool what some libraries are doing with Podcasts. I see the Denver Public Library has story times available for download as does the Westerville, OH Public Library. Other places are putting up book talks and book discussions for users to hear. Still others are geared toward library professionals and address a multitude of topics from "Academic Libraries in Second Life" to "sustaining rural libraries". I like the outreach ability of podcasts. Folks who aren't able to make it to story times can listen with their child at home... maybe not as fun as going to the library to see the story time, but I still think it's important to have these programs available to people. And this is what I really like about Library 2.0: people being able to access a wide array of information in various formats (in this case, a Podcast). Maybe there's a topic you are interested in and there was a program relating to that topic in some library half-way across the country that was posted for the public to hear on the Internet. You get to benefit from that program even though it was presented nowhere near your local public library. The barrier of geography drops away and resources from the Denver Public Library and the Anchorage, Alaska public library are now within reach. How long until podcasts include visuals too... I guess that's kind of what YouTube is for, but I do see exciting possibilities for libraries in recording and archiving videos of programs for people to watch.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Thing #20: YouTube

I have explored YouTube in the past and find it to be a fairly fun site. It's great if you are like me and looking for videos of musicians playing live or teaching lessons. I use it mainly for that purpose and for the occasional dose of comedy. It's interesting to see YouTube getting involved in the upcoming presidential elections by airing videos made by the candidates. It's also interesting to see the candidates getting involved in other social networking sites, but that's for another post. I like the creativity people display on YouTube. For example:

I like to watch the stop-frame animation and wonder how folks have the time to make those videos! I've also discovered some interesting projects in the making by some young amateur filmmakers:

It's also good for finding a laugh:

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Thing 19: Explore a site from the Web 2.0 Awards: Pandora

I took a look at the very long list of Web 2.0 winners and some of the music sites naturally caught my eye. Pandora is an excellent music site that allows you to basically create a number of "radio stations" based on your own preferences. You simply type in an artist or song title and Pandora will return you with a radio station based on that song or artist. You can then tell it if you like or dislike a particular song it has chosen and it will adjust the station accordingly.

I think of this as being like "listeners' advisory." It allows you to type in something you like and in return Pandora exposes you to other artists you might also like. Pandora and other Internet radio stations have been in a battle with record companies over royalty payments and internet radio is in jeopardy of going under which I think is unfortunate. To me music and the arts are just as important as books and reading and so this site is great at exposing users to new artists and genres of music. It's incredibly easy to use and I've used it to create radio stations to listen to during dinner or when hosting a get-together.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thing #18: Online Productivity Tools

I definitely like Google Docs. For a time our library system did not have word processing software available to the public in all branches. In order to use word processing software, a patron would have to drive from my branch which did not offer the service to one of 4 locations in the county that did offer it. Believe me I saw many a discontented patron when they learned they needed to go to another location to type a document. Then along comes Writely, now Google Docs. Suddenly I could get patrons signed up on Google Docs and have them typing, saving, and printing at our word processing software-less branch in a matter of minutes.

Also, on Google Docs you can access your documents anywhere there is Internet access. No lugging around discs or flash drives! I also like that you have the option of saving files as html, pdf, word, and other formats. I'm not sure if Google Docs does absolutely everything that Word does, but I've not had trouble composing and formatting with Google Docs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thing #17: Maryland Libraries Sandbox

So I've been playing around and exploring the Maryland Libraries Sandbox Wiki. I added my blog to the "favorite blogs" page a few days ago under a heading with Prince George's County listed with a couple other counties, but today my blog showed up under the Harford County heading and there was no Prince George's County heading... Curious... But I simply created the Prince George's heading and then pasted my blog below that heading. Those of you who are in the Prince George's 23 Things program and have added your blog to "favorite blogs" on the Wiki may want to check to see where it is now, because everything seems to have been moved around a bit.

I also contributed a book to the What I'm Reading Now section of the Wiki. There are some interesting parts of the Wiki, but it definitely does resemble a playground-- a mish mash of stuff for people to read and post with only a little bit of organization. But that's alright since the idea is for us to "play" with this Wiki and explore exactly how they work. It's interesting to read others' perspectives on various things like where they like to vacation.