Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Georgia Librarian Bloggers

Are you a librarian? Live or work in Georgia? Have a blog?

If this is you (or someone you know), I'd like to know about your blog. There are tons of great librarians here doing great stuff, so there must be more librarian bloggers too. Send me a link to your blog (or a Georgia librarian blog you read) and I'll add to the Georgia Librarian Blogs list over there on the side menu.

Maybe we'll all even get together someday and have cup of coffee.

Social Computing @ COMO Presentations

Here's the links to our Social Computing presentations at COMO 2006 in one handy location.

Add me to your MySpace! Social Networking & Libraries
Presenter: Cliff Landis, Valdosta State University
Abstract: Discover all the innovative ways in which libraries are using social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook to connect with their patrons. See how traditional library services are being combined with new innovations in this growing medium.

Why Do We Need a Wiki?
Presenters: Brian Mathews, Georgia Institute of Technology; Sarah Steiner, Georgia State University
Abstract: Come find out about Wikis-what they are and how they work. This session will explore the use of this emerging social software and provide examples for reaching patrons and communicating with library staff.

Podcasting 101
Presenter: David Free, Georgia Perimeter College
Abstract: Podcasting is one of today’s hottest social computing applications. This session will provide an introduction to podcasting and explore how different libraries are using podcasts for outreach and learning.

We R Online, RU? Instant Messaging Reference Service at Your Library
Presenters: Sarah Steiner, Georgia State University; Elizabeth White, University of Georgia; David Free, Georgia Perimeter College
Abstract: Join us for an informative panel discussion of the details in providing Instant Messaging reference service including perceived benefits and drawbacks, a comparison of IM to other chat providers, and finally, tips on gauging patron interest, training, staffing, and security.

COMO 2006 Recap

Last week I was in Athens,GA (my hometown) for the annual GaCOMO conference. COMO is put on by several library related associations in GA, so there are all types of librarians hanging out talking about different issues. I did two presentations, one on podcasting and one a rerun of the IM reference panel I participated in earlier this year with Sarah Steiner from Georgia State and Elizabeth White from UGA. Both went quite well with a good bit of discussion and interest in the issues. I really don't feel 100% good about the podcasting session though. I would have liked to spend more in depth time on podcast creation, but needed to cover the basics as well. Tough in 50 mins. Maybe a podcasting bootcamp or something another time with the whole focus on the process of planning for and making a podcast.

One cool thing from the IM panel was that UGA is now using IM for their chat reference service. Elizabeth said they are using Meebo to deliver the service, and are looking into using the Meebo Me widget on their chat page. Very cool! I still prefer using Trillian (or Gaim if we ever switch) with our chat being done by folks at different locations and I tend to not notice when my Meebo window is blinking. But the Meebo option is definitely worth considering. Or at least provide a link to Meebo on your chat page for easy access.

My two sessions were part of an unofficial social software track that a few folks put together for the conference. We managed to get four programs strung together in a row in the same room, the other two being a look at Facebook and MySpace by Cliff Landis fromValdosta State and a wiki program by the aforementioned Sarah Steiner and Brian Mathews from Ga Tech.

Cliff did a great job explaining social networking and how it can benefit libraries. He started out talking about the current controversies around social networking, which was a great intro to the discussion and then discussed various ways libraries are moving into these areas, including his Ask-A-Librarian group on Facebook. Cliff's talking about social networking with Aaron Schmidt at Internet Librarian, so check it out if you're going.

Brian and Sarah rocked the wiki session too with their wiki based presentation. They showed a variety of different wiki uses and creation software packages. I've been thinking about moving my presentation stuff from my webpage to a wiki format for a little easier updating, so the tips came in handy. I hadn't heard about the Wiki WorldCat pilot either, which looks very interesting.

With a little email and flyer advertising the room was packed for the morning sessions. More chairs had to be added to the room and there were still folks sitting on the floor! So there was a good bit of interest in the topics!

I would definitely recommend rounding up some like-minded folks and putting together something like we did at your local or state library meetings. It was a great way to work with some very cool and knowledgeable librarians and I think the strength in numbers and the ad blitz-let worked well to give a little more focus to all of our topics and how they fit together.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Shockingly (or maybe not) I'm behind on my blog reading again so I just noticed Sarah Houghton-Jan's Ten Reasons Librarians Should Use Instead of Google today. Great list of great features. I really try to steer my students to in our Internet unit to see that there's something out there other than Google. They are usually impressed when they check it out. But most probably still revert to Google after class since "google" has become pretty synonymous with "web search". Actually, I think I might not let them use Google at all next semester.

One of Sarah's points was the image search, which is indeed excellent. I did a LI session last week (or something like that) for a class that has to do PowerPoint presentations on current events. I usually show this class an image search tool or two and they really dug the version this time. Great results! They really liked the narrowing and expanding features in general too.

A couple of commenters mentioned the blog and feed search. Blog and Feed Search rocks! Gives results for both posts, feeds and news along with quick links below each post or feed result to subscribe through most major aggregators. And gives links below each post result to Blogger, Bloglines, Digg, del.ic.ious etc. which makes it very easy to save information. There's also a save feature which puts results in a MyStuff folder in Ask. And you can subscribe to a blog search in RSS form through Bloglines or whatnot. It was a big hit when I presented a Lunch N Learn on blogs and RSS last week (see a trend emerging for lack of blog reading?).

Ask is really turning out to be a great alternative to Google. And a perfect opportunity for Jeeves retirement/ downsizing jokes in class!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Coaster Marketing

maker's and ginger
Originally uploaded by dwfree1967.
I dropped in the Manhattan Cafe in Athens last week during COMO and noticed these cool beer mats/ coasters advertising the Georgia Museum of Art. A nice change of pace from whatever new beverage distributors are pushing. Unfortunately, I didn't get a better pic.

This could be a great marketing tool for libraries too. Make some coasters advertising your IM service or website or blogs or whatever and place them in your local coffee shop, deli or even bar. Or in your library coffee shop. Or just have them available to take home from the library. Spread the library word while keeping your table dry.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Space, The Final Frontier

Make sure to check out Brian Mathews' great discussion about the "domestication" of the Georgia Tech Library. He details the thought processes and philosophies that went into the transformation of their physical space and relationship with their students.

Brian writes:

I am much more interested in what a person can do in a library than what we can put in one. Function is the key. Action is the key. Verbs, not nouns.
To me, this issue of what can users actually DO (and what do they WANT to do) in the library is the central point of all of the discussions about evaluating and transforming library space and policies. Of course, the end result of those examinations and discussions is going to be different in each different library. beacuse it's about what your users want and expect from the library. But the process of asking the questions and adapting to the answers is the important part.

For example, the feedback I get from students at MPOW is that they generally want the library to be a quiet-ish place to work on school stuff and be able to use a computer. Our Student Center is pretty boisterous with people eating, socializing, playing PS2 and cards and generally raising cain between classes. So the students want a place to concentrate on school work without as many distractions.

Of course school work could mean working on group projects and our library is basically one big room so it's never 100% quiet. Or even close. In fact one student called it the noisiest library (s)he had ever been in. And trying to walk the line between the needs of individual and group work is one of the toughest parts of working here. We want people to be able to work on a group presentation, check their email or chat, study for a test by themselves, and collaborate on work in a WebCT section. Unfortunately there's often an inherent conflict between those actions in a small environment.


We're 100% commuter so we have a lot more hit and run traffic than a residential school. Many students use us as a sanctuary away from the business of family and home and work to get school work done in what little time they can get away. But students also want to use our computers for email, MySpace and Facebook, and even the occasional coursework between classes. Fortunately we generally don't have a problem with the computer use. It tends to have a nice flow even in the busiest part of the day.

So there's not really a one size fits all answer. Your library is going to be different from my library or Brian's library. (And I definitely wish mine was more like Brian's in some ways!) But at least ask the questions and take the answers seriously.

iPods In The Classroom has a video today about iPod use in the classroom at Georgia College & State University. Only about 3 minutes long but covers the basics of how a couple of professors are using portable audio and video to enhance student learning.

GPC is about to start a podcasting/ iPod pilot project, so hopefully there will be some innovative ideas here too. I'm going to be involved in the pilot working on some guides to library resources. Not sure exactly how I'm going to approach it yet though. I'm not too crazy about the fact that "iPod" is included in the name of the project but hopefully the resources created won't all be platform specific.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wiki Wiki Hourrah!

Peter at Libray Garden posted about a Wall Street Journal debate between Jimmy Wales and Encyclopedia Brittanica editor Dale Hoiberg. Very interesting stuff.

There was also a Nightline feature about Wikipedia featuring a good bit of interview time with Wales the other night. They asked Wales about the Colbert elephant prank among other things. The video is available for your perusal.

I really don't have a problem with my students using Wikipedia as a source as long as they understand how and by whom the information is created and edited. And the basics of the philosophy behind open source, which I discuss a little in class. I think The Community, as Wales calls it, does a good job of keeping information current and relatively accurate. Of course as with any source, evaluate the info and verify in other locations.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Chattahoochee Review Podcasts

Another project I've been working on lately is setting up podcasting for our literary magazine, The Chattahoochee Review. The magazine and our Writers' Institute bring a number of fairly well known authors to GPC each year so the podcasts are a great way to expand their audience and promote the magazine and future events. I had recorded a couple of their readings for our library podcast and they decided to try to offer most of their programming in podcast form. And now I'm their podcast editor.

The material that's available now consists of readings by a wide range of fiction and non-fiction writers along with a series of interviews with authors. There's some really interesting stuff including physicist Leonard Susskind, American Book Award winner Luis Alberto Urrea, and humorist/ short story writer Jack Pendarvis. Take a look if you're in the market for some literary podcasts!

The audio for most of the current podcasts was taken from video (our PR department obsessively videotapes things) but we're going to look into improving the sound quality for future recordings. And possibly videocasting too, but that will be a little bit down the road too. We decided to use libsyn for our hosting mainly due to server space issues. And hopefully they'll get a few new subscriptions out of the podcasts to cover the minimal expense. I've got a presence in the iTunes Music Store set up and am working on adding to other podcast directories to expand access.

Obviously, this is a project that I've enjoyed working on having done podcasting for our library and having a literature background, but it's also good press for the libraries. Letting your community see librarians using their skills outside of the usual environment can draw people into exploring what the library, and librarians, can offer.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New Library Website

Now that the flurry of the first couple of weeks of school is over, its time for more blogging! Like several other schools, we rolled out a newly designed library website at the start of Fall Semester. I think we did a decent job for a website by committee. We consolodated some of the common content like circulation information into a more usable main library page. Prior to the redesign, the main page pretty much just had links to databases and the campus libraries. So we tried to put as much useful info on that page as possible as it's linked from the college homepage. And it definitely looks better than the previous site which used our suggested college web template.

I would have liked to have been able to include more social features, like integrated blogs and feeds, but I think we made a step in the right direction designwise at least. And it should be easier to revisit the social aspects now that the site is online and folks are feeling a little less overwhelmed by the project. I did make a new podcast page for my library to try to integrate our audio content into the site. I'm still going to maintain the Listen Up! blog but link the two most current episodes from the podcast page. And break out the interviews and speakers so they'll be more visible. And hopefully work on some instructional podcasts about resources and services as the semester goes on.

And on the subject of web design, and somewhat interesting in light of the recent discussions on gender issues in library tech, my friend Tessa is now our Systems Librarian here at GPC. She is very knowledgeable about computer and web issues and is very customer service oriented, which I think will be greatly appreciated by her new clients. She ran the web redesign show for the second half of the project or so and did a great job.