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