Wednesday, December 20, 2006

LISZEN

I just posted about LibWorm not too long ago, and then today I read about LISZEN on the ALA TechSource blog. If aiming for a Google-like look, LISZEN's your search engine. Perhaps that's because the creator used the Google Co-op to build it.

I'm really not sure which one is better though - they both pull from library blogs. LibWorm has 1500 feeds, and LISZEN has 600. Perhaps LISZEN has superior search capabilities because it uses the Google platform. I'm really not sure.

Once again though, I have to sign up for something to get my blog added. I am supposed to add my blog to the wiki first, and in order to edit the wiki, I have to create an account. Sigh. I have way too many accounts to keep track of.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pimp a Nutcracker!

In the spirit of the holidays - enjoy.

Pimp My Nutcracker. hehehehe!

And for your listening pleasure, I highly recommend David Sedaris' "Six to Eight Black Men." It's definitely my favorite of his stories and had me laughing so hard I cried!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

LibWorm

Hmm, not sure what I think about this since my blog isn't included and all (hehe), but LibWorm is interesting... and it looks pretty. The little worm guy is cute. :)

I suppose I could create an account and get myself added, but frankly, I can't keep up with my current list of blogs - why would I want the opportunity to find so many more wonderful things to read? :)

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Raunchy books"

A coworker forwarded me a post linking to this particular article: Raunchy books pulled from NYC school. I'm glad to see book banning is alive and well. I love that detailed instructions on French kissing are so taboo!

And I don't know if it's an unfortunate wording in the article, but I wasn't aware that one really needed instructions on homosexuality.

[Found by my coworker on LISNews.org]

Sunday, December 10, 2006

HUZZAH!

Blogger has finally deemed me cool enough to allow me to upgrade to blogger beta. Too bad I have to go Xmas shopping or I'd monkey around with it all afternoon. :)

I got tags! Woo hoo! Of course, I have no idea what tags to assign to this post. Hmmmm.

Where, oh where, has Kat been?

I haven't been so good with this blogging thing as of late. Things have been busy. Then again, when are they not?

Most recently I have found myself with four less teeth. That was a wondeful experience.... The drugs weren't nearly as fun as my friends promised they'd be. It actually went pretty well, as it is only the 5th day and the swelling is already nearly gone. I return to work tomorrow and it is nice to know that I won't look too terribly much like a chipmunk. :) I could very easily get used to the whole 5 day weekend thing though. Too bad it has to end so soon.

Now the Christmas holiday is drawing close and I have yet to do much Christmas shopping. Ooops. I always put it off though, so this is nothing new. Hopefully I'll get a decent amount accomplished today.

Perhaps I'll return to blogging with a slight bit more regularity at some point in the future...

[And if anyone needs a good oral surgeon in Zanesville, I highly recommend Larry Towning. :o) He rocks!]

Friday, December 01, 2006

What Kind of Reader are YOU?

Someone named Kate (not me, unfortunately) made this awesome quiz:

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

Book Snob

Fad Reader

Non-Reader

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz
[Found on Annoyed Librarian]

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cheaper Road Runner

This is not necessarily the most relevant post I've ever made, but then again that's really not that unusual for me.

Yesterday, I called Time Warner Cable to find out if something called Road Runner Light really exists. It does. And it is a lot cheaper than regular Road Runner. $26.95 a month as opposed to $44.95 a month. Supposedly, it is slower than regular Road Runner, although I was assured it is faster than DSL. It probably makes a difference if you do a lot of downloading or streaming, but since I don't do a whole lot of that, it doesn't seem any different to me. Plus, I used to have DSL and loved it.

So, if you have Time Warner Cable, and you are looking to reduce the amount you have to spend on it per month, ask about Road Runner Light. I actually almost like Time Warner Cable now, because the switch was so easy, you just ask and they do it and it takes place immediately.

Moral of the story: "beep beep!" can be cheap... -er. :)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Use for Recycled Books

A friend (thanks reyn!) forwarded this website: This Into That. It belongs to an artist who turns old books into shelves and furniture. The gallery of funniest shelves are entertaining. And I really think I need to make me one of those bookcases.

I already use 4 discarded books to raise my monitor to eye level. Old books do have good uses! :)

Monday, November 20, 2006

We ZAP 'em at the library!

Bad library press. Sigh.

I heard this on the radio up in Cleveland last week - one of the local rock stations was having fun bashing the incident. Then, one of my coworkers forwarded the story around.

Apparently UCPD felt it necessary to taser a guy for not showing ID at the UCLA Library. Well, okay, I'm sure there is more to it than that.

I watched the YouTube video that one particularly quick student created. I love how everyone else just flocks to watch, too. The tasered individual was "leaving this godforsaken place" - what a great library description. More details here.

Good grief.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cranky thought of the day

We lose students to Google as a result of lethargic library databases - lengthy loading times, etc. When it's slow, it's irritating... it's like being on dialup (*GASP*). We are losing them because Google is faster, even on its slowest days.

Of course, this is just a cranky thought without a suggested solution because I'm not sure what needs to be done to remedy this. Is it bandwidth? Server space? I have no idea. I'm not even sure where the problem is. Is it primarily a local problem? Or is it consortium-wide? Are our databases just too "heavy" and it's the fault of the providers? Yeah, no clue.

But what I do know is that I just love promising students that "it really will load eventually. Really."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Studying while driving

What do you think about students who study for a test while driving? Who spend more time looking at their notes than the road? And can't maintain even a remotely steady speed? And weave erratically?

And scare the crap out of the poor librarian who just wants desperately to pass said student?

At least it took the monotony out of my 25 minute commute to work this morning.

Yesterday morning, I saw a lady with her hair in curlers driving on the freeway. That was entertaining. :)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bewildering Unpreparedness

What does it say for the current state of higher education when students arrive for class with absolutely nothing but themselves, their jackets, and their cell phones? At least, I'd assume they had a cell phone in a pocket somewhere - they can't seem to go anywhere without that.

No bookbag, no textbooks, no notebooks, no folders, no pieces of paper.

Not even a pen or pencil.

Monday, November 06, 2006

incest, necrophilia, and seduction

Just when I think I've seen it all....

I am slowly working my way through the reference collection, weeding out tons of books. I thought I would have already seen the most bizarre but today I discovered Show Me the Good Parts: The Reader's Guide to Sex in Literature.

This extremly useful book provides the page numbers and brief annotations of sex scenes in various books. For example, the annotation for Call Me Mistress by Tomlin Rede is as follows: "The heroine ends up with the guy who first took her innocence from her some 10,000 intercourses ago."

Or in The Devil in Bucks County by Edmund Schiddel, "A 16-year-old girl from one of the fine families gets mixed up with the town's aging delinquent. This s.o.b. leaves her with an ugly memory of her first experience, which will take a lot of sundaes and church socials to wipe out."

This book is clearly a must-have for every library. It is divided into chapters by type of sex scene, thus the title of this post. I wish I could personally thank the ingenious male librarian who wrote this book. I am surprised it hasn't gotten more use in my library.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

No More Typing

In the interest of spending less time typing, since most of my day is spent in front of a computer (both at work and at home), I recently purchased some software that will type for me.

It's called Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred. I don't know if I really needed the Preferred version, but it was what was selling on eBay. I have only just begun to use it, but I can already tell it's going to be a challenge. I think it's just that there is a learning curve and that you need to have the patience to "train" the software to recognize your voice, as well as to learn the commands to make the software function as best it can.

The most annoying thing about the software is that you can only put it on one computer. I find that really irritating because I am the only one using it and I would like to be able to use it both at work and at home. gar.

Anyway, as time goes on and I slowly become accustomed to this program, and it becomes accustomed to me, I will continue to post as to whether or not this is a good product. I have to say that I was very frustrated with it earlier today but then decided to "train" it some more, and it is already doing a much better job of recognizing my speech. So far I'm pretty impressed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Browser Wars

I was checking out my stats earlier and it is finally the case that more of my visitors use Firefox (57) than MSIE (39). The other 4 used Safari, Netscape, or Mozilla.

The free version of StatCounter only tracks the most recent 100 visits. Then again, it's probably taken me weeks to amass the above 100 visits....

Podcasting: What, How, and Why

...is a presentation Andrew and I gave waaaaayyyy back in August at the OLC Children's and Young Adult Services Conference (see Andrew's post here). Andrew is good with the technical aspect of podcast creation, and I'm a podcast listener/subscriber (or was, haven't had much time lately). Plus, I worked in a public library for years (during high school and college), which was helpful given our audience. Basically, combined we are an awesome team. :)

Our presentation had excellent attendance (owing partially to the fact that the seating was very limited, so all presentations were well-attended). The audience was great, and overall it went really well.

Podcasting really is pretty easy. We ran through the entire process, complete with various options, in our allotted time period. In addition we covered possible uses, why you should podcast, how to listen/subscribe, publicizing your podcast, various challenges to podcasting, and finally briefly touched on the ways you can go beyond podcasting (vodcasting and screencasting).

The wiki for our presentation is here (the powerpoint is available there as well). A list of ways to use podcasting in children's and young adult services is here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sexy Librarian Search Interface

The Laughing Librarian has a post about Ms. Dewey, a new search engine that is highly entertaining. Who knows if she's useful but it sure is fun to think of clever questions to ask her because her response varies based on what you ask.

She's getting criticized in various articles, such as this one and this one, but I don't care. Even the fact that she's a Microsoft creation isn't enough to make me dislike her! She's funny and sarcastic. However, I do agree that she needs a longer loop of her impatient activities. Her cackling about ruling the world is pretty funny but I could probably only take that about 15 times before I got a bit irritated.

Seriously though, she's a sexy librarian with attitude. How could you go wrong with that?

I suggest you check her out. ;o)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Gadget Love

I've found another online whositswhatsits that I'm just in love with. It's called coComment and has been around way too long for me only to be using it just now. It lets you track the comments you leave, so you can see when someone adds a comment after the one you left (perhaps the blog author responding to your comment - I always forget to check back and see if they've done that!).

How handy!!! I love it!

And you don't really have to do anything because it just recognizes that you are leaving a comment and keeps track of it for you. As long as you use Firefox anyway.

Woo hoo!

Yoo hoo, Academic Librarians!

Not that many academic librarians read my blog, but whatever.

I was catching up on my blog reading today (how on earth do I always manage to get so far behind? Oh wait, I know, 3 weekends in a row of weddings, two of which I was in. Yeah, that will do it), and I came across a post on ACRLog asking where the academic librarian bloggers are and why they hadn't yet added their blogs to The Academic Blog Portal.

So I promptly added my blog to it. If you are a blogging academic librarian, please add yours too. :)

I suppose I should make a wiki page for my blog, too, but, well, I'd forget to update it.

And I know this is not really relevant, but it's Friday and I'm in a goofy mood, so I'm going with it: how does one say "ACRLog" anyway? ACRL-og? A-Crlog? ACR-Log? ACRL-log?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

IM @ Your Library!

Back in early August (yeah yeah, I’m behind, I know), I co-presented with Andrew at the OPAL (Ohio Private Academic Libraries, not to be confused with the other OPAL) Conference (see Andrew’s write-up here – he includes the powerpoint and handouts).

The SpeedUPdating setup for the presentation is a really neat idea - good for us Millennials with short attention spans. There were five different sessions, each lasting about 12 minutes. Everyone was divided into 5 groups and rotated around to each session.

Our presentation was called, “IM…Your Students Use It, So Why Don’t You?” I talked about why a library should offer IM Reference, the advantages over Chat Reference, the lingo and other etiquette information, and challenges. Andrew discussed the different IM providers, usage statistics, how to set it up and market it, and the different types of questions we have received at Muskingum.

In true Andrew and Kate form, and in tribute to the “speed” in SpeedUPdating, we talked as though we were on speed in order to cover everything in our allotted time period. Needless to say, after 5 sessions in a row with very little break in between, I was pretty exhausted.

Overall, though, it was a fun experience, and I would definitely do it again. The disadvantage to presenting, however, is that I didn’t get to see the other 4 presentations.

And, of course, I highly recommend using IM at your library!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Our Stats are on the Rise!

I've been meaning to write this post for a while but have been putting it off. However, an article in the Chronicle that details reasons why professors may not include a library research session in their class has spurred me on.

At my place of work, we have seen an increase in many types of usage this Fall. Examples include:
  • In about 5 week's time, we have done more one-shot instruction sessions than we did all of last year.
  • Our database usage stats are way up, probably a result of more instruction sessions.
  • ILL borrowing is up. This September saw more than twice as many ILL requests as last September.
Possible reasons for the increase, many of which were Andrew's ideas:
  • Presentation to the faculty. Andrew and I were given the opportunity to present an update session at Fall Faculty Conference. The session was given twice and we had a large percentage of the faculty in attendance. A lot of changes took place over the summer, and the faculty were impressed with both the changes and our succinct presentation of them.
  • Faculty guides to library resources. Last Fall each faculty member received an individualized print guide to the library resources useful in their discipline. Many of these were presented in person.
  • Freebies. Every year, we have pens made with our URL on them that we give out during the First Year Seminar library visits. This year, we added our IM name. These pens were also given to all the faculty, along with pads of sticky notes with OhioLINK's info on them.
  • Revamping instruction sessions. We now use problem-based learning in our instruction sessions. We create a problem tailored to the class or assignment, have the students research it while we walk around to observe and help, and then go over everything.
  • Odyssey. ILL use is probably up because we are promoting it more and we now use Odyssey to receive many of the requested articles much more quickly.
It's an exciting time here, and I hope we continue to see increases in usage!

[As an aside, I don't really agree with the paragraph in the article that poses "simple questions" that students don't know the answers to. I don't really think they need to know the answers to those, except for popular vs scholarly. They need to know that they can't look up journal article titles in the catalog, but they don't really need to know why, unless that's going to help them remember that they can't do it.]

Monday, October 02, 2006

Banning Fahrenheit 451

I took down my banned book display this morning (*sob*). Then, this afternoon a friend [thanks Paul!] sends me this link.

Yes, let us please ban a book that is about censorship. Ah, the irony.

It's not the first time. Damn those dirty words of yours, Mr. Bradbury. To hell with them! :D

Thursday, September 28, 2006

NSA Documents Released

A friend pointed me to The Memory Hole: NSA Bibliographies, which tells you how to request articles from "Previously unreleased bibliographies and indexes of National Security Agency publications." For free, too. Well, up to a certain point - if it is more than 100 pages or takes longer than 2 hours then it will cost you.

The main Memory Hole website has quite a bit of other "rescued knowledge," including quite a few FBI Reports, military information, and much more.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Open WorldCat shares profits with libraries?

I listened to Talis' Library 2.0 Gang on the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog, or the online version of the old card catalog) this morning. They raised some interesting points. I recommend a listen for you librarians out there.

They eventually got around to talking about Open WorldCat. Open WorldCat is cool because it tells you which libraries have the item, but I think libraries need to make a more concerted effort to ensure that their holdings are in it. It also has a link to purchase the item for those who would rather buy or don't have a library near them that has the item. I'm pretty sure that used to link out to Amazon, which is a nice tie-in to a well-known site, but instead now it gives you the option to buy the book from OCLC.

Okay, so after further investigation, I see that sometimes it links to Amazon - apparently when OCLC does not have a copy of the item for sale.

Here's an interesting feature I did not notice before: When I click on the OCLC option to buy, it tells me: "Your purchase supports Muskingum College Library." I'm not sure I like that because it's definitely misleading. It certainly doesn't support my library directly (at least not that I know of, but hey, if OCLC wants to start sending us a percentage of the money they make off our users, that's fine by me!). Apparently you can even "Choose a library to support" if it doesn't automatically recognize you as a user of a certain library! Anyone know anything more about this? I'd do some Internet hunting, but I'm feeling decidedly unlibrarian at the moment. :)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Search within Podcasts?!

I am far behind on my reading of TechCrunch (124 unread posts to be exact), so thanks to Andrew for sending me this particular post: Pluggd to make podcasts chunkier, searchable.

Pluggd is working to make it so you can search within podcasts to find the parts relevant to you. It looks for both the terms you enter and related terms (I'd be curious to know how it determines related terms...). It then shows you the timeline bar (or whatever you call that thing) with various colors to highlight the degree of relevance. If you hover over them, you'll see the relevant terms.

Pretty sweet! According to TechCrunch, "Pluggd aims to have hundreds of thousands of podcasts analyzed and searchable by the end of the year."

If you are at all interested in podcasts, you should check it out. :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Lifelong Learning

I don't normally read this type of thing, because, well, frankly they can get rather boring and are always lengthy but this one is actually pretty decent. It's a government report called A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of U.S. Higher Education. Good luck with downloading, it's a 7MB PDF that I couldn't open because our bandwidth is currently being hijacked by students downloading movies and music. A friend emailed me it instead so I could save it to the desktop that way.

But I digress.

I've made it through about 10 pages and it's not too awful to read. One of the things I liked seeing was that the "Learning" section (page 13 of the PDF) mentioned "lifelong learning" several times. We librarians are all about that "lifelong learning" thing and it's good to see that others are realizing its importance too.

And that FAFSA, yeah, they need to make that thing easier to fill out.

Here's hoping that some of the ideas expressed in this report are accomplished!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dirty Anne Read

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, I took the Pirate Quiz. I thought the result was appropriate: Dirty Anne Read. How very librarian:



My pirate name is:


Dirty Anne Read



You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. Even through many pirates have a reputation for not being the brightest souls on earth, you defy the sterotypes. You've got taste and education. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network

Destroy a book, get a refund

Well, for the book A Million Little Pieces anyway. I just read the article by About.com's Mark Flannagan about the refund for this book. Interesting stuff. If you bought the book and feel horribly upset and perhaps have developed a psychological disorder as a result of discovering that the book is more a work of fiction than fact, just get a refund by tearing out page 163 (hardback) or tearing off the front cover (paperback) and sending it in.

...As long as you bought the book on or before January 26th anyway, which is when the news got out about it perhaps not being a truthful memoir.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Hosting Blogs

Blogging Goes to College: Part 6

You'll be happy to know that this is the final installment of the Blogging Goes to College Brainstorming Session. This last topic was a debate on where to host library/college blogs: in-house or out-of-house. Here are the pros for each side.

In-house:

  • Can include branding – university URL, logo, etc
  • Privacy issues
  • Follow federal and state mandates – FERPA
  • Blogger’s “next blog” button won’t be interpreted as being part of your university
  • Customizable
  • Credibility – the university is behind you (could be a problem if negative things are said)
  • Having a standard structure makes support easier
  • Rights management – copyright

Out-of-house:

  • Don’t need approval from IT
  • Quicker to create
  • Choose your own software
  • Inexpensive
  • Hosted elsewhere
  • People are familiar with the format
  • Open content/freedom of speech
  • Can sort of be anonymous
  • Don’t lose it when you graduate

Thursday, September 14, 2006

More on Blogging

Work has been CRAZY! But I'm loving it. Lots of instruction sessions! You'd think I could actually post this stuff since I already had it typed up, but no. I'm way behind.

Blogging Goes to College: Part 5

How to encourage blog use among faculty/staff:
  • All librarians create a blog to understand better how to use a blog (negative: creates useless blogs/noise)
  • Say: this is how we are going to provide this essential service – to get it, you’re going to have to subscribe.
  • Provide a service not available anywhere else
  • Recognize that not everyone will use it
  • Make it relevant and useful – so they’ll want to use it
  • Incentive/reward system
  • Rewards example – current awareness (RSS feeds for journal tables of contents)
How to encourage blog use among administration:
  • Saves money
  • Brings in money
  • Community relations – internal and external
  • Helps retain students, faculty, staff
  • People will be more likely to subscribe to your views if they have a say (via comments)
  • Create a feeling of community
  • Speed and accuracy of information

Friday, September 08, 2006

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Why Blog?

Blogging Goes to College: Part 4

So in parts 1-3, I listed all the ideas for using blogs in the college setting. That's great, but how to encourage the unwilling to create or readblogs? We all know that motivating people over the learning curve and past their technology confusion can be difficult. Here are some ideas:
  • It’s better, faster, more efficient, an improvement
  • Showing that it’s easy and not a lot of work
  • Adjust based on how student learns [for the life of me, I can't remember what this one meant... this is what happens when you post things more than a month later]
  • Needs to be easier than what they’re already doing
  • Not redundant to what they are already doing
  • Needs to integrate with what they are already doing (how to get students to use blogging – ask them how many read friends’ blogs by just bookmarking and checking back? If they do it, show them Bloglines, etc, to make it easier)
  • Blogs are a tool of discovery
  • Blogs are a tool of communication and rapid publication (much faster than journals, books, etc)
  • People copy success (viewing successful blogs will encourage others to blog as well).

Monday, September 04, 2006

FREE MUSIC!

Okay, now that I have your attention, here's an interesting article from the BBC: Universal Backs Free Music Offer. Apparently there is a music downloading service called Spiralfrog (which has not yet launched - December, so they say), that is proposing to allow free downloading and instead make money (and pay artists) off of advertising.

And they've signed a deal with Universal.

Free, legal music downloads. Whoever thought those words would actually go together?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

"Labor" Day

I have to labor on Labor Day.

But at least I get to create my masterful Banned Book display! I'll have to take pictures and post them.

Woot woot!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Reference Statistics

Pretty much every library keeps reference desk statistics. And many times I find myself wondering, how on earth do I categorize this particular question? Well, the Annoyed Librarian has a post about categories of reference desk statistics that is all too true to life.

I laughed so hard I cried.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blogs in the College or University Setting

Blogging Goes to College: Part 3

At this brainstorming session, we also thought of ways to use blogs on the rest of the campus. Here's what we came up with:
  • A used book exchange for students - this is my favorite example, since students are forever complaining about the high cost of textbooks (who can blame them?!). This actually might work better in a wiki format...
  • Electronic soapbox for students
  • Speaker’s bureau
  • Humanizing college administration – students leave comments on administrative blogs, administrators respond
  • Virtual focus group
  • Research sharing among faculty
  • Lists of special events/campus activities/alumni events
  • Lists of off-campus events/socializing opportunities
  • Marketing for potential students
  • Neighborhood & campus construction updates (process, pictures)
  • Job/volunteer/service opportunities
  • Student groups
  • Combination with courseware
  • Alumni blog
  • Want list for donations (create a list so that people can donate items you need)
  • Campus news
  • Student international experience – post pictures, keep a journal
  • Comments on classes, rating classes (rate your prof-type thing)
  • Collaborative work – faculty, student, committee, alumni
  • Diary of a first year student
  • Information about recruiters coming to campus
  • A blog about research activities in a specific area – areas where research is needed and students should think about doing a paper on that topic, etc.
  • Faculty members blogging about more than just their particular discipline – diversifies their interests
  • Human subjects blog to discuss the grey area issues with doing research using human subjects
  • University town hall: President, deans, etc write on it. parking, policies, etc

Monday, August 28, 2006

Uses for Blogs in the Library

Blogging Goes to College: Part 2

To continue what I learned from the Blogging Goes to College brainstorming session, here are some possible uses for blogs within the library:

  • Marketing – library updates, highlight resources, tips and tricks, database changes
  • Reference – as a place to keep answers of difficult questions
  • Archive of common assignments
  • Internal uses – staff updates, announcements, procedural manuals, podcast of professional development, to communicate common questions, committees soliciting comments from non-committee members
  • Using a blog in place of a comment box
  • Tips & tricks – searchable for when students actually need to do the research (“point of need”) – use stats to figure out which posts get more hits and continue to post those kinds of tips
  • Have a guest blog on the library blog
  • Have the author of the book used for the common book program blog on the library’s blog
  • Librarians should have access to class blogs to make helpful comments for research help
  • Post archival photographs asking “who are these people,” etc, for identification purposes
  • Liaison blogs with feedback
  • Hot topic ideas and pointers to resources for students having to write papers/give speeches about hot topics
  • Solicit comments – do we have enough computers? Etc
  • Tutorials

The Students are Back!

Hooray! The students are back!

Classes start today. I'm sure they are mourning the end of summer, as am I (but since I didn't have it off, I can't mourn it too much until the weather gets crappy). It's exciting to have them return. A few of them started trickling in last week as certain groups moved in early, and it was so nice to see them.

Yay! :)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Closing the Library

This is what we need instead of the loud, startling bell that currently warns students that the library will be closing shortly. Or something similar anyway.

As a student (I work at my alma mater), I purposely used to leave the library 20 minutes before closing so as to avoid being scared half out of my mind when that irritating bell rang. The one or two times I stayed too late were enough. I'd be studying furiously and all of a sudden, the bell would sound, and I'd jump half out of my chair. Yech!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Book Reviews

I am now posting on another blog as well. A friend of a friend decided to start a blog of book reviews. He then shared his idea with our mutual friend, who shared it with me and another friend. Anyway, to make a confusing story less confusing, there are now 5 of us who post reviews on Rage in the Page. The selection is really quite diverse - from romance to sci fi to children's books to nonfiction. Something for practically everyone.

Check it out! :)

Using Blogs in Instruction

Blogging Goes to College: Part 1

About a month ago on July 27th, I attended a brainstorming session at OhioLINK called "Blogging Goes to College: Weblog Uses in Higher Education." I have been meaning to write about it for some time, and am finally getting around to doing so.

Because it was more or less a day-long event, I'm going to break it down into topics. Today's topic is a list of ways to use blogs in instruction/teaching:

  • Have students blog annotations of librarian-selected websites (evaluating websites)
  • Use blogs for group work, especially in distance learning
  • Use blogs to augment assignments
  • Have a class blog for all students to post on, as an alternative to a message board, etc
  • Use an outside expert on a topic to facilitate discussion within a blog (since few are probably willing to come to campus...)
  • Students post drafts of work for peer review
  • Students maintain one blog during their college career as a portfolio of all their college work
As should be expected, this brainstorming session does have a blog located here, which probably already contains what I'm going to be posting. Oh well. :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bugs in Buildings

Old buildings have bugs. Usually several varieties.

My library is an old building. Thus, it has bugs. There's George, our very large spider. I have not yet met George, and I think I'd like to keep it that way. George has lots of little friends because I see their webs all over the place. George and his friends really need to find a new place of residence. However, lately, I've been noticing more and more crickets. I hear them chirping in the stairwell. I see them hopping around the bathroom. They are friendly little buggars and it always makes me think of The Cricket in Times Square.

My current apartment has spiders, ants, and house centipedes. Ants are okay. I don't mind ants. House centipedes, however, are one of the creepiest bugs I have ever encountered. They still give me the willies and it's been over a year of living with them. Thankfully, I have a cat who likes to play with them... until they are dead. I love her. :)

So, the conclusion I have reached is: if a building has to have bugs, I vote for ants and crickets.

And those are my very deep thoughts for the morning.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A New Library Building

Oh, for a new library building. This Chronicle of Higher Education article tells why we should all get one (wouldn't that be nice?). Plus, a thread on one of the listservs I am on has been discussing the increase in visitors with a new library building. It often doubles and at least one library saw it quintuple.

How wonderful would that be? It's all about library as place - comfy furniture, quiet areas, group work areas, nice large computer labs, beautiful yet not overpowering natural lighting, anything to make the library more inviting.

One interesting finding of a survey reported in the Chronicle article was that "the location of a library on a campus made little difference in its popularity among students. "

So our location on the opposite end of campus from the dorms doesn't matter? Even when it involves walking uphill both ways in the snow? :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Google: "Google" is NOT a verb!

Hahahaha, no offense, Google, but yeah right. It's a wee bit too late for you to be asking users not to use the word "Google" as a verb. It's already an entry in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Based on the above article, however, I'm not 100% clear if they just want people to stop using it to refer to any kind of internet searching and only for actually using Google, or if they want its use to stop altogether.

Addendum: After quickly publishing this, I decided to do some blogosphere research and found this defense of Google from the Scobleizer blog. Yay, more patent and trademark stuff. :)

Also, perhaps this battle isn't new, just now more public. Check it out here and here. [Links found on Yummy Yummy]

New Verison of Blogger - Woo hoo!

Blogger is releasing a new version in beta, and I have to wait around until it becomes available for me. But they've added TAGS! FINALLY! I've been thinking about how great it would be to tag my posts.

Also new are: privacy options as to who can read your blog, ability to alter the template without having to know HTML, a comment feed (another yay!), and say goodbye to the need to publish and republish - changes will be instantaneous.

Check out the official news here.

To Blogger: Pick me, pick me! I want to use the new beta asap! :)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Comedy Central on Social Networking

I love YouTube. People put some great stuff there, like this Daily Show clip from Comedy Central on social networking sites. Funny stuff. :)

WorldCat Search Toolbars

WorldCat is now open for all to use at WorldCat.org. So if you need/want to find out if any libraries near you have a certain book, check it out!

And if you plan to use this a lot, you can install a WorldCat search toolbar. There are ones for the Google and Yahoo! toolbars as well as for Firefox. I installed the Firefox one, but we'll see if I use it. Since I do interlibrary loan, I'm always in the FirstSearch part of WorldCat, so the public version may not be as useful for me. :)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Press Release Tips

In libraries, marketing is a big thing - how do we get that user to come in the door, use our online database, check out a book, etc? But they don't necessarily teach us that in grad school.

So I've subscribed to a daily email of press release tips (89 tips in total). So far, I've only read one tip, so we'll see how useful it is. The tips are nice and short (I'm a Millennial, my attention wanders after about 3 minutes...).

Check out the Publicity Hound's 89 Press Release Tips if you are interested. It's not geared towards libraries, but rather towards anyone writing press releases.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Evil AOL

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch has an interesting post on AOL. I never really much liked AOL except in the early days when it was the only thing I knew. Now they have apparently released private user data which was tied to an ID number, instead of the user's AOL screenname. Which is, of course, still frightening given that you can probably figure out who someone is by some of their searches. As Arrington pointed out, we all Google ourselves these days.

AOL has since withdrawn the data, but it's too late, it's already out there.

Also in the blog post are some links to a YouTube video which contains an AOL user's conversation with a a particularly irritating individual from AOL's customer service and a newspaper article about a woman who tried for a very long time to cancel her deceased father's AOL account. AOL tries to deny that it is hard to cancel their service but considering that AOL was well-known for this problem at least 7 years ago, I'm not really inclined to believe them. Looks like some things never change.

All-Encompassing Patents

What is it with these blanket patents that seem to be making the rounds? Blackboard just got one (read a writeup here) and is already suing another company because of it (another writeup here). And the one obtained by Friendster was pretty broad as well (read a Wall Street Journal article on it here).

Perhaps I'm a bit dense (or maybe I can just blame this awful head cold) but doesn't this type of patent just enable a monopoly? I'll admit, I didn't read the legal text (I tried to but it's just too jargon-y for me) but based on what everyone else is saying, it sure seems that way to me.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Hazards of Public Libraries

There have been a lot of entertaining YouTube videos related to libraries bouncing around the blogosphere. Here's one that had me laughing. I don't know how the teen kept a straight face (you can tell he had some trouble...).

Library News Podcast

Marv K sent an email to the Bibliocasting listserv to tell us that he's doing a podcast called LibVibe on library news.

Woo hoo! Now I can get my library news in podcast format! And it's going to be short - 5 mins per edition. I haven't checked it out yet, but Andrew Whitis has and says it's good stuff!

Books in the Loo

An interesting Article from the Sunday New York Times called "Chamber Plots" (ah, love the pun) discusses the practice of keeping books and magazines in the bathroom.

Currently, my bathroom contains the large number of issues of American Libraries, College & Research Libraries News, and College & Research Libraries that I have not yet read (ooops!). Lately I've been thinking that I need to get a basket of some sort to keep all of them in...

Now, however, I'm contemplating purchasing a copy of the Darwin Awards, or something equally entertaining, for any guests who use my facilities. Or a Mother Goose & Grimm book. I love that comic strip!

My brother used to put his Far Side books in the bathroom, which always made for an entertaining read.

What's in your bathroom?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Suggested MySpace Enhancement

You know what MySpace needs to do? It needs to make it so you can group your friends into categories. Facebook groups them for you by location. That's fine and all, but I'm talking more like IM lets you do. You create and name the categories. I have about 67 friends right now. Many of them are high school or college friends. Some are work friends. I'm adding more librarians for networking purposes. I add musicians that I like. I've added some books. And then there are random people.

Why can't I group those?

Another MySpace recommendation would be to fix the slowness issue. It seems like I can never get into it! Or all the errors. Fix that too. Enough about that though.

Grouping friends would be pretty sweet!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tasty Reads 2: Podcasting Pocket Guide

Would you look at that, it is becoming a regular post on this blog. I'm already at Tasty Reads 2. No, I don't have miraculous speed-reading skills, I'm just always reading several books at once.

Tasty Reads number 2 is the Podcasting Pocket Guide by Kirk McElhearn, Richard Giles, and Jack D. Herrington (published by O'Reilly). This book comes in at under 100 pages and is in fact, more or less pocket-sized. It would fit in a man's shirt pocket or a back pocket in a pair of jeans, sticking out a bit.

No, I don't intend to start podcasting (sorry to disappoint, I know you were so hopeful and all). Rather, I am doing a presentation with a coworker on podcasting, so I thought maybe, just maybe, I outta read a basic intro.

This books does a nice job of introducing you to the whole podcasting thing. How to listen, create (really, it's pretty simple), and edit. It also gives a list of 30 recommended podcasts. It's pretty good for beginners, but I have to say, some of the editing stuff was a bit over my head.

The best part was the 30 recommended podcasts. I recently purchased an MP3 player, and so now I'm on the look out for new podcasts to subscribe to. Because of this book, I am checking out:
  1. The Bitterest Pill - a podcast done by an entertaining stay-at-home father, who just announced a podcasting hiatus of undetermined length (he'll be back to podcasting no later than September, he says).

  2. Dr. Karl - I haven't listened to this one yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Aimed towards kids (well, at least it's on a youth radio station), this podcast answers science questions. Two examples in the book are: "Why is my nasal hair square?" and "How can I explode my own urine?" What can I say? It promises to be quite entertaining.

  3. Winecast - I have a friend who really seems to know her wine, so I'm going to listen to this one to show her up. Okay, not really, but it does sound interesting. I am lucky enough to begin subscribing on a podcast where Tim Elliott (the podcaster) is doing a bit of an introduction to wine tasting. Great place to start for a novice like me.

    Actually, as I'm typing this, I'm sipping some Breitenbach Blackberry American Wine which is made in Dover, Ohio (Amish country). It's sweet, but other than that, I couldn't tell you a whole lot about it. Maybe that will soon change.

  4. The Gadget Show - As if I don't already read and listen to enough about tech stuff, I had to come across yet another that I couldn't live without. This one is done by Richard Giles (one of the authors of the book). The one podcast I've listened to so far is pretty good stuff. Plus, he has a great Australian accent, which automatically makes everything even more interesting. :)
*Kat's Konclusion: More or less munch-worthy. Recommended.*

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tasty Reads: Naked Conversations

I just finished reading an excellent book called Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. If you are at all interested in blogging in a business-type setting, you absolutely must read it!

First of all, I have to say it's an extremely entertaining read. It took me a while to read it, but I never even considered not finishing it. Given that I almost never finish any of the nonfiction books I start, that's very high praise.

So, on to what I took away from the book:
  1. Blogging lets small businesses reach more customers, and at a much cheaper price.

  2. Blogging humanizes enormous companies. Think how down-to-earth a company seems when its CEO or President blogs and you can leave him/her comments! And he/she actually responds back!

  3. Blogging shifts the power to the customer (where it should be, right?). Stories spread like wildfire through the blogosphere. One person can lodge a complaint on his/her blog and the next thing you know, everyone is talking about it. Ouch for that company!

  4. Blogging builds trust. A company that lets or even encourages its employees to blog will find the loyalty of its customers on the rise. Customers read the employee blogs and come to trust what the employees have to say (as long as they blog well, of course, and don't maintain completely one-sided, glowing blogs about their companies). Before long, they start to trust a company that would hire such great people.

  5. Not every company should blog. It depends a lot on the culture of the company and on whether or not the company leaders trust the employees to blog well. Companies with secrets should not blog.

  6. Traditional, one-way advertising may be on its way out. Blogging is cheaper and much more effective.

  7. Businesses need to monitor the blogosphere to see what their customers are saying about them.

  8. Businesses must react quickly to negative customer posts. The customer may have a very valid point and waiting days to go through the traditional complaint procedures will cause a company's image to plummet in the blogosphere. Immediate response is essential!
The book also offers advice for safe blogging, as well as lots of examples of good blogs to read.

The best part is all the stories that illustrate the above points. Real examples of businesses using blogging to their advantage, as well as examples of where blogging could have helped diffuse a crisis.

Also: Check out the Naked Conversations blog.

*Kat's Konclusion: Yum! Highly Recommended!*

Side Note: I'm hoping Tasty Reads (with it's cheesy "Kat's Konclusion") will become a regular feature as I read books and blog about them. We shall see. It takes me a while to get through books these days.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Age Verification for MySpace?

The Associated Press has an article on the use of age verification for social networking sites. Several government officials are pushing for various age verification techniques which include driver's licenses or credit cards.

I think MySpace would suffer quite a bit if they were to require something like credit card verification. I, for one, would never give MySpace my credit card number. With as many problems as it has (all those annoying errors!), I wouldn't trust it to keep my credit card number secure. Whether that's a justified fear or not, I still have it and I'm willing to bet others feel the same.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Rocking out at your library

Check out this YouTube video of Harry and the Potters rocking it at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

They are singing about doing research (although I have trouble figuring out the words), and all these girls are screaming and jumping around. Who would've thought!

[Found on Stephen's Lighthouse]

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Wanking in the library

LISNews.org has a post on perverts (aka, men exposing themselves or wanking off) in the Cleveland area public libraries, and suggests that perhaps filters are a good thing after all. I've also heard people comment in horror about this and other news stories.

However, I ask:
  1. What library does not have this problem? Don't be blaming Cleveland, these tales come from everywhere.

  2. Why are you blaming libraries? We let everyone in. That's just the nature of libraries - providing access to information for all. We also can't put up security cameras to catch these people (well, at least most of us can't) because that costs precious money we'd rather spend on programs, books, and other resources. And we can't be spending our time playing detective in the stacks looking for pervs.

  3. What are internet filters going to do? We still have books like The Joy of Sex and Madonna's Sex book. Should we censor those as well? I think not! And what about those pervs who get their kicks from nudes in art books? What then? Censors and filters are not the answer.
I wonder if museums ever have problems with pervs around the nude portraits. Probably not since they need security cameras and lots of guards. I bet it's not just libraries though. Perhaps bookstores, art stores, etc. Now that would be an interesting study.

Friday, July 14, 2006

How to Drive Patrons Away

I love sarcastic people. They make me laugh, and the Annoyed Librarian is no exception. Her post containing tips on how to worsen public service is hysterical. So if you want to drive patrons away (or if you just want a good laugh), I highly advise that you check out this post. My favorite tip is:
A good response to almost any complaint is, "That's just the way we've always done it." ("Your website looks like it was designed by a baboon with ADD." "That's just the way we've always done it!")
Really I think that's just because I like the mental image of a baboon with ADD. Actually, I think it would be even better if it were a baboon with ADHD.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Rethinking the Library Course

As a result of listening to an excellent podcast from Rochelle Mazar and Jason Nolan of the Metaphorica Network, I have completely revamped my Library Research Methods course. Or at least, I've got some new ideas (and plan to throw out the old or at the very least, reincorporate them in a new way), and will get to spend the months before I teach again in the spring figuring out how to implement them as best as possible.

This method should eliminate the need for a textbook (which the students will love), foster discussion, and get them actively engaged in learning by making it very hands-on. As my ideas develop, I will post more about them.

But for now, if you teach a course (it certainly does not have to be a library-related one) and are interested in incorporating blogs into it, I highly recommend you check out the podcast! And perhaps check out their blog as well.

Amusing Error Messages

In a post on WeBreakStuff entitled Wow, talk about error messages 2.0, there is an error message from Technorati that's pretty dang funny. Companies should use this kind of humor more often. It makes you care so much less about the actual error.

I think MySpace should take note. I see their error message more than any other site I visit (and perhaps more than all of the others combined!), and I think I'd be less annoyed if they just used some humor. I actually have no clue what their error message says anymore because I stopped reading it long ago.

And, it's not an error message, but I just love Gmail's "Hooray, no spam here!" message when your spam folder is empty. :)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Yet Another Awesome Firefox Extension

I've stumbled across another sweet Firefox extension after listening to the FLOSS Weekly podcast with Ben Goodger of Firefox. One of the guys on the show mentioned an extension called Flashblock. It blocks all of those annoying Flash ads. If you decide you actually want to see whatever Flash has been blocked, all you have to do is click it.

I've been wishing there was an Adblock equivalent for Flash. Guess I should've looked harder.

I downloaded it here. It's also on Mozilla's Firefox Add-ons site.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I Heart My MP3 Player

Having an MP3 player is wonderful! In addition to all the music, I have been listening to some great podcasts. Really only two so far, but I'm hoping to keep my podcast subscriptions to a reasonable number (something I can't seem to do with my blog subscriptions). So, for your listening pleasure, I suggest you check out:

Science Update Podcast - This weekly podcast gives updates on things going on in the science world, from nifty things such as the Harry Potter invisibility cloak being a possibility in the future to a chewing gum that fights cancer. They are pretty short - maybe 5-6 minutes per weekly podcast. A nice quick update of some very cool stuff.

FLOSS Weekly
- This one is probably something most of you won't be interested in but I find it fascinating. It's all about open source stuff. Each podcast is an hour long. So far I've listened to Ryan Gordon talk about porting games to Linux, Jimmy Wales talk about Wikipedia, and earlier today I listened to Ben Goodger talk about Firefox. The Jimmy Wales interview was all over the library blogs a while ago. Good stuff!

And now I'm done sounding like an advertisement for podcasts... :)

To subscribe to these podcasts, I'm using Juice. I had to resort to Winamp though to get the older ones. I had my Juice preferences set up to skip old podcasts permanently and that didn't work so well when I wanted to listen to the Firefox and Wikipedia ones.

KSU Athletes Can Use Facebook After All

But on a restricted basis. According to a Columbus Dispatch article, students must use Facebook's privacy settings, limiting it to "friends" only.... as well as coaches and academic advisors. A step in the right direction but also interesting given that students at my small liberal arts college often have 300-400 "friends".

Having coaches and academic advisors monitor the profiles may have the desired educational effect, however. Just the knowledge alone that a coach or academic advisor is reading their profile will probably cause them to think twice about what they post.

On a side note: According to the article, Facebook has 7.5 million users. The current statistic on MySpace is 83 million users. Wow.

Funny library blog

I read a lot of blogs (ack! 92 feeds in Bloglines - when did that happen? I guess that explains my favorite task of clicking through many of them without reading just to clear the number of unread ones...), many of them to learn more about Library Land, but some just for laughs. One of my favorite humorous library blogs is A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette. I love it for its short posts and endless bitterness, cynicism, and sarcasm. :)

Friday, June 23, 2006

KSU Athletes Banned from Facebook

Unbelievable. Kent State University administrators are banning their student athletes from Facebook (read the Columbus Dispatch article for more information).

My questions are:
  1. According to the article, "The move to ban the site came from students and coaches expressing concern over safety and privacy issues." What about the safety and privacy of the rest of the student population?
  2. Instead of banning them from a network that lets them connect with friends, why not do more to educate the entire campus on the dangers of Facebook and the etiquette one should use? Based on the extreme popularity of social networks (according to a News story I saw on TV last night, MySpace has 83 million users), I highly doubt they are going to go away anytime soon.
  3. Everyone is always so concerned about stalking, but is there any evidence to prove that stalking is on the rise as a result of Facebook? I haven't heard of any. As one of my students pointed out, stalkers will stalk regardless of Facebook, and it does not seem that Facebook will create stalkers out of people who would not normally be ones.
I find this particular statement in the article extremely hard to believe: "Most students have responded to the ban positively" - unless, of course, they are just turning to MySpace instead.

Plus, it's not like these students are doing things they haven't already been doing, it's just that now there is documented (writing, photographs, etc) evidence of it. The answer is user education, not banning them from Facebook altogether. Colleges need not function in loco parentis.

For starters, here's a rule of thumb: Don't put anything on a social network that you wouldn't want your mom, grandmother, pastor, future employer, etc to see.

So let's do what we do best, shall we? Educate!!

A Librarian's Worst Nightmare

Okay, perhaps not the worst nightmare (that would more likely be hurricane Katrina or other such disaster), but the domino effect in the bookstacks is pretty bad as well. Check out this Flickr photo of a rather unfortunate library.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

MP3 Player!

I finally let myself order an MP3 player. I opted not to go for the iPod because, well, it's rather expensive, and there are cheaper ones out there that will suit my needs just fine. Plus, I don't want to confine myself to iTunes. So I went with the SanDisk Sansa M240 1 GB MP3 Player. It was shipped out yesterday, and I am going crazy because it isn't here yet! Of course it probably won't arrive until the middle of next week (that's what I get for succumbing to Amazon's Super Saver Shipping).

I'm not sure what happened. I went from not even having a cell phone (*gasp* I know) to getting a jump drive, digital camera, cell phone, and mp3 player all in a few short months. :0)

I can also justify the MP3 player in a work-related way. A coworker and I are going to be doing a presentation on podcasts in August, and what better way to familiarize myself with podcasts than to get an MP3 player and listen to them? Too bad it's not enough of a work related expense that my place of work will pay for it....

Friday, June 16, 2006

MySpace is huge!

According to a recent TechCrunch post, MySpace has 75 million users, and more page views than Google, MSN, or Time Warner/AOL. It comes in second only to Yahoo!.

That's crazy!

And it also may explain why, more often than not, MySpace is having technical issues, which most often seems to be an incredible slowness. Sometimes I question why we put up with this slowness and unreliability when most of us are horrified at the thought of reverting back to dial-up. Why is it acceptable from MySpace but not an internet service provider?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On Citing Wikipedia

According to a Chronicle of Higher Education Wired Campus Blog post, Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, says college students should not be citing Wikipedia in their papers. A better idea might be to use Wikipedia to get some basic information on a topic, and then do the appropriate research from there using books and journal articles.

I would hazard a guess that most professors do not want college students citing any encyclopedias, Wikipedia or other. At this point in their scholastic career, they should beyond that.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Google Vs Microsoft

Boy, I would not want to be Microsoft. Google just keeps calmly plodding along and throwing out new programs from time to time that seem to chip away at Microsoft's market domination. Of course, there are lots of other companies out there doing the same thing.

The latest news is that Google is putting out Google Spreadsheets, which seems to be meant to rival Excel. It will apparently have collaborative capabilities, which could be pretty handy. Check out the New York Times article here.

Of course, gOffice.com and others have spreadsheet capabilities as well.

One day we may reach the point where we no longer need to buy the expensive Microsoft Office Suite... or maybe we are there already?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Watching TV shows on your Computer

iTunes has been up to this gig for a while, but now some of the major networks are looking into it as well. Check out the post on TechCrunch for more information.

To me, the most exciting part is that ABC will let you watch episodes of 4 of its most popular shows for free until June 30. So basically that means I have until June 30 to watch the entire 5th season of Alias, since I missed most of it due to the fact that I don't get that station (actually, I don't get most stations. I get two stations and one of them I would never consider watching). To view older episodes, I think you have to start to play the current one and then click "more" on the bottom of the screen to select a previous episode.

Pretty exciting stuff! :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Taking a Poll!

Okay, my many readers (all 5 or so of you...), I have a favor to ask. At my library, we are trying to figure out the best word or phrase (must be pretty short - no longer than 3 words, preferably 2) to describe something on our library website.

So, let's say you come across the following page on a library website: It contains an alphabetical list of all the disciplines/areas of study on campus, from accounting to psychology to theatre. The name of each discipline is hyperlinked and takes you to a page that contains databases, reference books, journals, and web sites to use to do research in that specific discipline (so "Law" would take you to a list of databases, journals, websites, etc, specific to law and legal research).

What would you call these thingamajiggers?

The big push these days is to make things intuitive, for obvious reasons - if the users don't get what something means, they won't use it, or if they click on something and have an expectation of what they are going to find but it's something completely different, they get frustrated. No more library jargon!

So please post a comment with your suggestions/ideas! No librarians please. And I know many of you are thinking that you don't use the library, so you have no idea, but that's even better. This needs to be intuitive for all the students (most of the campus. sigh.) who do not use the library much, if at all.

Monday, May 15, 2006

"Scan This Book!"

I just finished Kevin Kelly's New York Times article, "Scan This Book!" What an interesting read! I recommend it to all librarians, and to anyone interested in learning more about Google's Book Search project.

He takes Google's Book Search and looks at it on a very broad level, claiming that scanning books will one day result in "one very, very, very large single text: the world's only book". By this, he means that scanning books enables the text of one book to be linked to other books. Bibliographies in nonfiction books will contain links to all the cited books. Every word in a book could be linked to another book (although I'm curious what's supposed to happen when people want to link the same word or phrase to multiple sources), and by them being linked all together, you essentially end up with only one book.

However, his paragraph more or less praising Raj Reddy of Carnegie Mellon for shipping 30,000 books to China to scan bothered me. In China, the books are "scanned by an assembly line of workers paid by the Chinese," which means that they are making next to no money, toiling away 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week (I have been to China, and I can now say that with firsthand experience! We ate at the same restaurant many times over several days, and it was always the exact same workers. Just a coincidence? I don't think so). They are the poor who need access to all that literature, but they work too many hours to have time to read it. Someone should pay those workers more. Maybe I'm wrong, and those workers do make pretty good money, but somehow I really doubt it.

Another thing I take issue with in this article is the following: "Because tags are user-generated, when they move to the realm of books, they will be assigned faster, range wider and serve better than out-of-date schemes like the Dewey Decimal System". He's right on two counts: the tags will be assigned faster and range wider. However, I don't believe they will serve better. The subject headings assigned in libraries address the main concepts of the books. Random tags assigned by random users could generate tags that only deal with a tiny issue covered on one page of a book (I'm exaggerating slightly, but you get the idea). Plus, the subject headings assigned by librarians are set up so that there are a limited number of them - with good reason! That way, when looking for a bunch of books or articles on domestic violence, you only have to type in "domestic violence", not "domestic violence or family violence or violence against women or abusive relationships or domestic abuse" or.... the list goes on and on. In libraries, it's all under one heading. How convenient!

Of course, with the massive amount of information online now, and the even more massive amount that will be online soon if Google succeeds in its Book Search project, probably makes it unimportant as to whether or not you locate all the resources on one topic. Which I personally think is another problem with the whole idea. The author of the article feels it's a great thing to have all the world's knowledge searchable from the same little search box (Google's). But is that really best? Two words: information overload. For some searches, you'd have to get pretty specific to find what you want because there are just too many books, websites, journals, etc, that contain that word or phrase. But perhaps limiters, such as the option to search only the books, will somewhat help to solve that problem.

One statement made by the author is completely false: "Google scans all Web pages; if it's on the Web, it's scanned." Not true. Google indexes maybe 20 percent of the web on a good day. It can't scan all the pages because it can't get to all of them. Think about all the password protected sites, pages that no one links to (therefore Google's spiders/crawlers have no way of finding them because they find new pages through links from other pages), pages within databases that require a login or subscription fee, and so on. Those are all on the web, but Google can't scan them. It's called the Invisible Web or the Deep Web.

However, the author makes some excellent arguments for and against copyright as it is set up today. I agree with him that our current copyright laws (which just got even more excessive in 2003) are over-the-top. Does an author's work really need to be under copyright for 70 years after he or she is dead? I don't think so. His idea that copyright should not be given unless people agree to let their works be searched is interesting but probably won't go over too well.

Overall, it truly is an interesting article. I know I seem to disagree with far more than I agree with, but actually that's not the case. He paints a very neat picture of the future. This is one article that is definitely worth a read, so check it out. :)

Friday, May 12, 2006

More pictures of China

For more pictures from my trip to China, check out my Flickr page. There are only 6 China pictures there right now (and a few of my cat...), but I intend to add more when I have some free time. Hopefully that will be this weekend.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Back from China!




Well, I have returned from China! No time to write tonight, but here are a few pictures for your enjoyment. The top photo is the National Library of China (I'm a librarian, what can I say?). The next picture was taken at the top of a mountain. Don't worry, I didn't "cleap" over the edge or anything (gotta love Chinese signs translated into English). And lastly, the Great Wall - an amazing and very breathtaking sight (breathtaking for more than one reason - it's beautiful but also rather terrifying for people who do not like heights).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

CHINA!

I'm off to China tomorrow morning at 8am! So there will be no posts for a while. Blogger is blocked in China, so even if I wanted to post, I couldn't.

Have a great two weeks! Hopefully I'll start posting more regularly when I return! :)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Blog in Hibernation

For those of you who check my blog on a somewhat regular basis, I apologize for the sparsity of posts as of late. Okay, as of this whole semester pretty much.

Teaching a class has kept me incredibly busy (I think I may have made this comment before...). And now as the semester draws to a close, I find myself even busier. I am getting ready to travel to China for 12 days, and I leave a week from Thursday. And before that day, I need to pack (that's what the night before is for, right?), grade final projects, grade other assignments, attend end of the semester events, and so on.

So the lack of posts will continue for a while. But maybe I will post some lovely pictures of China when I get back - to give you something to look forward to. :)

And now to go skim some of Lonely Planet's China travel guide.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Young Professors

A friend of mine sent me an interesting article entitled Young Blood from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Written by a 24 year old college English instructor, it discusses the challenges she has faced as a young instructor who is only a few years older than some of her students. Hmmm, sounds familiar....

Monday, April 03, 2006

Real-life Super Mario Experience

Warning: Totally irrelevant blog post.

But this is just awesome! And close to my hometown, too. I'm not much of a gamer but the idea of a bunch of suspended question mark cubes hanging around town is just too fun. However, did the girls really do it as an April Fool's joke or was the newspaper article about the situation an April Fool's joke? The story was published on the 1st, and the events supposedly took place on Friday, which would have been March 31st. Hmmm....

Friday, March 31, 2006

Social Networks continued

To continue the list from my last post about the things students don't get about social networks:

When it comes to Facebook and other social networks, many students don't realize that not only do they need to be concerned about what they post on their profiles but also what other people post.
  • The Wall: Your Facebook profile has a "wall" where your friends can post whatever comments they desire. MySpace has a comment section for the same purpose, and I'm sure the other networks have similar things. You can, of course, delete these comments but they will still be up for some time before you see them and delete them.

  • Tag, You're It: As one of my students pointed out, people can post pictures of you on Facebook and tag it with your name. Those pictures then get linked to your profile as "tagged by others." And, of course, they don't need your consent to do this (at least, as far as I know). Just think of all the compromising photos that could be put up without your approval!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Social Networks and Privacy Issues

Today in class we discussed the issues presented in the articles my students read for their most recent batch of reaction papers. I assigned two separate topics, so half the students read about one issue, and half read about another. However, I wanted all of them to be aware of all the issues, so a class discussion seemed the best route.

I find it somewhat disconcerting that students don't always realize how available their information is when they put it on the web. This is only to be expected though, given that they are getting earlier and earlier exposure to the web. It becomes a natural part of life - something that you just don't question. But it needs to be questioned, and colleges need to do something to increase awareness of the issues surrounding the Internet and more specifically, social network sites.

For example, take Facebook. All but one of my students are on Facebook. I suspect the vast majority of students on campus are on it. And they Facebook constantly (including during class...). But are they aware of the following issues?
  1. Anyone with a campus email address can get access to Facebook. This includes faculty, staff, campus police, alumni, etc.

  2. Campus police (perhaps not on my campus but on others) have been known to use Facebook to catch students commiting various crimes - rioting, underage drinking, etc. For examples of this, read Think Before You Share (PDF) from The Chronicle of Higher Education about the rioting incident, and Facebook Face Off from Inside Higher Ed about several students bashing a professor.

  3. Employers may search social networks for information about potential candidates. They already Google them (see the article What a Tangled Web We Weave from the New York Daily News). This may not be as much of a problem with Facebook since you need a college email address, but anyone can sign up for other social networks like MySpace. One argument often raised is that what happens at college is part of a different world. People do things in college they probably won't do later in life. To me, that's true to a certain extent, but as one of my students pointed out, you can tell a lot about a person's character by his/her social network profile.

  4. Depending what information you include in your social network site, you are making it pretty easy on stalkers.

  5. Facebook actually has some pretty great privacy settings that could (should?) be used to hide information. Students should check those out! You can limit who sees your profile, who sees specific parts of your profile (just your cell phone number, IM screen name, etc), and whether faculty, staff, and/or alumni can see your profile. You can also block specific people or limit the parts of your profile that specific people are allowed to see.

These are all things I think students need to be made aware of. But how can we do it on a campus-wide basis? Maybe it's a topic for the First Year Seminar class that all new students have to go through. That seems the best option (perhaps also because I can't think of any other method to reach most of the students).

Just getting the conversation started among a few students makes a difference. I know at least one of my students said (of his own volition - i.e. without me suggesting or recommending it) that he would pass on the information to his friends. The grapevine is a good start, but is there a better way?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Facebook for Sale

Apparently, Facebook is up for grabs. The desired sale price? A measly $2 billion, according to a Business Week article entitled "Facebook's on the Block". However, it is "the seventh-most heavily trafficked site on the Internet." It will be very interesting to see who snatches up this popular social network site and what they do with it.

Let's hope it doesn't end up like MySpace. That site is always having problems - won't load, often down for repairs and whatnot, and just recently I've started getting lots of spam emails. It kind of makes me wonder why we put up with it at all. Imagine if our regular email service was constantly on the fritz. We'd just jump ship and find a new service. But we stick it out with MySpace. Why is that?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Things that Irritate Me

I have two things I feel like ranting about at the moment (who doesn't need a good rant every now and then?):

1. Disney's obsession with copyright: The issue of downloading coloring pages containing Disney characters recently was brought up on a listserv I'm on. Several people quickly responded that you should never ever use Disney images. According to them, Disney has a monetary rewards program for those that turn in people who use Disney's material without first obtaining copyright permission AND they have even attacked those using Disney material for educational purposes, which should qualify as fair use. Good grief.

2. The American Chemical Society (ACS): They charge incredibly outrageous prices for all of their products - journals, abstracts, databases, etc. I believe chemistry is the field with the highest journal prices, in fact. On top of that, in order to have an accredited chemistry program, we are required to have some of this material. And who are we accredited by? ACS. How convenient! Talk about ensuring that people have to pay your outlandish prices. That should be illegal.