Thursday, April 27, 2006

MySpace Is Our Space

Been really swamped with various meetings and trying to stay close to on schedule developing my online class for the Summer (more on that later), but I have been taking time to read the MySpace discussion going on on LibRef. Sarah Houghton had a couple of great posts on the list and a good summary on LIB so I won't recap too much. But basically the discussion got started with a question about whether or not to block MySpace on a library's computers.

While I really don't like to label someone a censor for doing what they think is right in their library, I have to agree with Sarah on this. From LIB:

"It is not our place to judge what our users do with their time online, as long as it isn't violating any of our policies. To damn one site, when there are literally thousands of other sites out there just like MySpace (just not as popular at the present moment), is addressing a symptom, not the root cause--which is the behavior that is unacceptable in the library."

Even if you take all of the "materials" selection and who can use computers for what issues out of it, dealing with a perceived behavioral problem (no matter what it is) by simply blocking one website isn't going to work. MySpace is the hot thing today but tomorrow it will be something else. Anybody remember Friendster?

Dealing with the "problem" by blocking sites one at a time is just an exercise in frustration. Have a reasonable computer policy. If someone is violating it by constantly viewing porn or whatever you deem a violation deal with it on an individual basis. Not everyone using MySpace is a sexual predator or looking at "inappropriate" pics. It's just mainly folks socializing w/ their 9,000 friends (watch the social networking clip if you have a good satirical sense of humor, but probably not at work!).

I also found it interesting that many of the academic librarians in the discussion downplayed or outright rejected anything other than a directly school related function for an academic library. Sure our main purpose is to support the education initiatives of our institutions. That's the main thrust of our collections, instructional role etc. But most academic libs I've visited a provide at least some type of popular book collection, be it purchased or rented. And popular magazines. In my small library the academic journals mostly stay on the shelf and we put Oprah back several times a day. And that's fine.

Same with computer use. I think it is very cool that more and more of our students see the library as a place to come hang out between classes and use our resources. Whether that's working on a paper, studying from reserve materials, reading Oprah or looking at Facebook. There are certain times of the day when it is really hopping in here. We do have a policy where academic use of computers takes priority but we rarely have to use it. Between the workstations and laptops we usually have enough computers for everyone. Although occasionally all the laptops are in use! And there are more and more students taking advantage of the wireless with their own laptops. They're probably not all searching the catalog or typing a paper.

Sure student X is probably going to spend more time in the library using the computer to check email or MySpace than doing research. But she is going to do that stuff somewhere. It might as well be the library so when she DOES need to do school work she'll be more likely to use our resources and maybe even ask for help since she's already comfy in OurSpace.

Note: The Blogger spellcheck wants to replace "MySpace" with "Mishaps". Thanks for your 2 cents, spellcheck!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Boing Boing: Footracers in San Fran will push a Katamari Damacy ball

Boing Boing: Footracers in San Fran will push a Katamari Damacy ball

Excellent! Katamari fun. I feel the cosmos.

iPod Day

podium view 2
Originally uploaded by dwfree1967.
My presentation at iPod Day at Georgia College went well. It was just a 10 minute overview of what we're doing with podcasting, so nothing too major. I was initially excited to use a Mac for the first time but the laptop on the podium was just for show. Presentations were being run from a computer on the floor. I forgot to ask which button on the remote moved slides forward but once I figured it out it was fairly smoooth sailing.

All of the other presenters and the vast majority of people attending were looking at podcasting from a pedagogical angle so I was the odd man out. Which actually was pretty interesting. Some of the other presenters were doing very nice things w/ iPods in the classroom. Some of the presentations should be online soon so I'll share a few when they are.

The Apple reps talked about the new iLife suite and iTunes U. iLife looked very cool, especially the podcasting features in the new Garageband. Lots of integrated features for adding iTunes specific content like video, still images, chapters, equalizing different channels. Made me want to look into maybe buying a Mac!

I had heard most of the info in the iTunes U presentation before. It seems like they are generating a huge interest among different places who want to use it when it goes live beyond the trial schools. One of the Apple reps told me that unlike regular iTunes, iTunes U will work for downloading to any brand of mp3 player. If true, that alleviates some of my concerns about the propriatary issues of the project.

The Apple folks kept giving me cards for free iTunes downloads too since I jokingly outed myself as a non-iPod user in my talk. An actually iPod might have been more effective in converting me though. Hint hint. We also got free iLife software. Again, a Mac to go with it would be nice!

All in all a very fun and informative day. We even got to take a break to see the Tour de Georgia ride by the building.


More pics on Flickr.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I had a chance to sample some of the great content from the library track of HigherEdBlogCon over the past week. Definitely worth checking out. I love the fact that all of the materials are available indefinitely online, taking the time specific aspect out of the conference experience. Very cool all the way around.

If you're interested in podcasting definitely take a listen to Chris Kertz's presentation on the Dowling College Library Omnibus. He did a great job of talking about how their amazing podcast came into existence. The Omnibus is more along the lines of my initial vision for Listen Up! than what we ended up being able to do in reality. But I think the format seems to fit the community, collections etc of Dowling better than it does here.

To re-emphasize a couple of his points, if you're thinking about podcasting in your library, really look at what makes you unique. Do you have special collections? Ongoing program series? Relationships with other areas of your school/ community? Use those things that make you special in your podcasting and you'll have a great way to reach out and work with your communities. No matter what format your podcasts take, examining those areas will make a great listening experience.

Chris and his collaborators at Dowling do a fantastic job at this and are a great model for any libraries currently podcasting or thinking about it in the future.

iPod iNnovation Day

I'll be at the iPod iNnovation Day at Georgia College & State University tomorrow giving a brief presentation on Listen Up! and participating in a panel discussion about podcasting and other uses of iPod technology in higher education.

GCSU is doing some interesting things that are very iPod/ Apple specific so there will be a big focus on the iTunesU project etc at the meeting. Should be interesting to see where Apple is planning on going in the higher ed arena. And learn what some other schools in GA are doing with the technology.

I'll give a run down on Wednesday or Thursday.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Conference Bags

conference bags
Originally uploaded by dwfree1967.
Doing some slow afternoon on the ref desk blog reading and ran across the conference bag post on TTW.

I don't think my CIL bag made it back from DC for some reason, joining it's EBSCO bretheren in conference bag heaven.

I had been planning on setting up a new Flickr account for my personal work related-ish pics anyway!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

When I Chat Through IM... makes me feel like #1.

I was reading over Michael Stephens "Five Phrases I Hope I Never Hear Again.." post and this little quote about IM from the Wandering Eyre blog caught my eye:

"As a profession, we need to get over the idea that IM is bad, that it is going to go away, and that it is not useful. This is about reaching our users in the formats they are already using. It is about using technology smartly and efficiently. "

I'm going to be on a couple of panels in the next few months discussing IM so this is right along the lines of what I've been thinking. I'll be honest, people aren't beating down the doors to use our IM service. BUT I answer just as many IM questions as I do email questions and phone questions. I really don't see anyone questioning the value of using those technologies to provide service. Why should IM be any different? It's just a tool - like a telephone or an email account - that helps us do our job. Reaching out to and working with our library users.

Wandering Eyre also noted that a usual response to IM in her library is "...waste of money, waste of time...". How much does our IM service cost? NOTHING. How much time does it take? Admittedly it took some time on the front end to evaluate and load (free) software, set up accounts, get buy-in, and train people. And I spend a little time each semester scheduling. But once the project got started the person who is on IM duty logs into Trillian, it runs in the background and said librarian does other work until there's a question.

Not a bad investment, IMHO, even if just 2 people a week use it. That's 2 people who might not have interacted w/ us otherwise. And maybe 2 more people than would have used a costly VR service since IM is already familiar.

Thanks to Michael for pointing out Wandering Eyre too. It's one I had never read before and been enjoying it today.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Podcasting: Time

Recently Greg at Open Stacks posted a response to a list of podcasting tips originally blogged by the Rock & Roll Librarian. Since I've been creating podcasts at MPOW for a while now - over a year to be exact - I thought I would talk about some of the issues/ tips raised in these posts along with another podcasting discussion posted by Meredith at Information Wants To Be Free a little while back.

R&R Librarian Tip #2 is "Podcasts can be too short or too long" and suggests a 5-25 minute length which Greg thought sounded good too. I would generally go along with that. Most episodes of Listen Up! tend to be between 11 and 30 minutes long. I'm coming to the conclusion that shorter podcasts tend to work better though for institutional uses. Of course if you're podcasting a reading or lecture or interview it's going to be longer but I think for resource or news or current awareness stuff a shorter length makes a more concise, listenable experience. The current Listen Up! (#15) has 2 segments, is 11 mintues and change long and I'm probably going to aim for that general length and format in the future.

Like Meredith, I really dig the Audio To Go podcasts that Worcester Polytechnic Institute is doing. To me they get good info across to the listener, are easily digestable and pertinent as long as they're providing the resource/ service. So a very long potential "lifespan". In addition to the "listenability" issue the shorter podcasts are easier to download and/ or stream for folks who are accessing your library over non-broadband connections. But it's always a good idea to provide links or some other way for those users to get similiar info who mgiht have slow connections or not be into the whole audio thing.

Aside: The longest podcast I've done to date (LU!14) contained an open mic reading that was about an hour long. Of course there was a major server slowdown the day I posted it and sent the link to the folks who put on the reading, making listening sloooooooow. So stuff will happen, as they say!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I amazingly had some time for blog reading this AM and ran across this post from What I Learned Today... on a new image search tool called Pixsy. It seems to work pretty well and I definitely like having tabs for both images and videos in the same place.

Students in an instruction session I did last week were all into finding images and videos for presentations and were pretty excited when I showed them Google and image and video searches. So I'll definitely add Pixsy to the mix next time.

And the logo is darned cute!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rachel Singer Gordon Blogs!

Just noticed this post from Tame The Web about Rachel Singer Gordon starting a blog. I'll bet she updates it more regularly than I do this one!

But seriously, I usually like her columns so I'll be very interested in her blog. Being on the upper-ish end of GenX, I definitely know where she's coming from about being "in-between" in the library world. Her LJ column she mentions in her intro post definitely stuck a chord. What role are those of us in our 30s/ early 40s going to play in the library world in the relatively near future. Who knows! But I'm sure she'll have something interesting to say about it.