10 Things I didn't do

I know, I know. I failed to complete the 10 Things that everyone else at SPL did. And when I say everyone, I'm not really exaggerating all that much. Over the course of the entire learning program, we had 80% of our staff participate and 62% finish. Yeah!

10 Things @ SPL culminated with our annual Staff Day on December 14. As part of our director's State of the Library address, Rich and Toby made this video of Carolyn Anthony catching the 10 Things bug:


The Love of Things

Of all of the Things in 10 Things @ SPL, Things 2 and 3 are probably the ones I would perish without. Slight exaggeration perhaps, but there's a kernel of truth in there somewhere.

Thing 2, I have a crush on you. RSS feeds have turned my web experience into something altogether different. When I first discovered Bloglines and started subscribing to RSS feeds from my favorite blogs, I was starry-eyed and giddy. Suddenly the world of information was a shiny new object, resplendent with New! Current! Stuff! delivered straight to my virtual doorstep. I kept adding feeds, and then adding some more, and then even more. After topping off at 150 or so, I held steady for awhile, frequently checking my Bloglines account to see if there was anything new to read.

As with any crush, the heart-pounding, clammy-palmed excitement wanes after time, and what you're left with is melancholy dismay that perhaps, maybe just perhaps, this crush is not The One. You end up spending too much time vegged out on the couch, forgetting to brush your teeth, with piles of newspapers and magazines strewn across the floor. Translated into words that actually have something to do with RSS, it probably means you've got a case of Information Overload and it's time to get rid of some feeds.

Librarians, pay attention here. I know you talk about not being able to keep up with everything. But you know what you are good at? Weeding. So do it. If you find you aren't reading new feeds, get rid of those that you added on a whim and have chosen to ignore. It's no biggie. If you miss out on a news item, or celebrity gossip, or your favorite library blog's newest post, or a list of the Library's new DVDs, chances are you'll find the information via another path. You're librarians; you'll be able to find it if you need it.

Once you've tweaked and tinkered with your RSS subscriptions and you find a number you're content with (for me, it's the magic number 90!), you may just decide to stick around to see if this RSS thing develops into anything long lasting. My crush on RSS has developed into something a little more steady, but I'm not afraid to ask Mr. Bloglines to change--by ditching those feeds that I've grown disinterested in and adding the occasional new feed.

Thing 3, Instant Messaging, is also one of my can't-live-withouts. I've been using IM in various iterations since 1997. Over the past few years, I've become a lousy email correspondent. I communicate with most of my friends over IM; it comes in especially handy with my friends in the UK when we don't want to spend any money on long distance charges.

Text messaging is another one of my preferred communication methods. I've been texting so much that the paint on my keypad has worn off. When I'm away from a computer, I often use Google's SMS service to get local information such as addresses and phone numbers of businesses. It saves me the embarrassment of calling the Reference Desk (which, by the way, I have done) to ask for the address of that one Costa Rican restaurant on Milwaukee Ave.


I have a polar bear under my desk

i have a polar bear under my desk, originally uploaded by jennpb.

I've been having a fun time in the YS Lab helping Marilee and Mary with the Flickr thing. Unfortunately, I don't think FUN is how they would describe it. We've had problems galore, and at this point I'd like to blame Yahoo. So this is just a demonstration of how this Thing is supposed to work.


That Blog Thing

Hey, remember over a month ago that I wrote that last post telling you to watch this space? I wasn't lying. It took me long enough to make something happen, but I am finally here. Aren't you lucky? As one of the organizers of the 10 Things @ SPL learning program, it's only fair that I participate.

The Flying Keyboard is not my first blog. I began blogging in 2004 when I wanted an outlet to share stories and experiences that were resulting from some health issues. Talk about making the private public! I kept with it for awhile, but jumped blog-ship when my obsession with medical technology and instruments waned. I still have the interest*, but feel less inclined to write about it.

This blog has been another stop-start venture. My intentions are good--I want to update regularly and I keep a list of topics I could write about if I only had time to spare. Come conference time, I'll use this blog again to take notes on all of the sessions I attend.

I've done some tweaking to my blog's design. I've changed the color scheme, moved elements around on my sidebar, and recently added a widget from my LibraryThing catalog which shows off the last 5 books I've read. All of this has been done with not too much knowledge of HTML coding. It's just taken some trial and error. I find that I learn best by experimenting. If it doesn't look right the first time around, I keep on trying until it looks like something I can live with.

All of the changes I made to the blog template were much, much easier for me than actually writing the blog posts. At first I found it really difficult to articulate my ideas (in fact, I'm having that problem at this very moment!) Once I started writing how I might speak, things became much easier. Whether that makes it easier for my readers, that's an entirely different thing.

* I went to the Old Operating Theatre and Museum while in London in October!


Countdown to the 10 Things

We've been hard at work at MPOW to adapt our own version of the Learning 2.0 program. That version is called 10 Things @ SPL, and we are almost ready for blast off! There has been a bit of anticipatory angst on my part, but now I'm really getting excited. We've been having 10 Things sneak-peeks this week and staff is really psyching up to do this. We've already had 13 people sign up to participate. The program doesn't even start until next week!

This blog will probably see some cosmetic changes over the next few weeks. Though I won't be going through all of the Things, I will be posting more regularly to this blog and demonstrating some of the tools we'll be using.


Regime change begins at home.

This week I set up camp in our staff meeting room to listen in on the SirsiDynix Institute webcast from David Lee King and Thad Hartman (Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library), "Creating a 2.0 Library." When I first registered for the webcast, I sent an email along to other folks in the Library who I thought would be interested. Imagine my joy when I was joined by 9 of my co-workers, including Department Heads and our Assistant Director! I thought I'd be all alone in the room, and here I was, joined by 9 people who are open to listening, who want to make change, and who understand the forward direction we need to go. I was so impressed!

I had to skip off immediately at the end of the webcast so I could staff the Movies & Music desk. As I sought out loungey latin dance CDs for a patron, my colleagues discussed ways to bring some of TSCPL's ideas to Skokie. I find it heartening that at the end of the webcast, those in attendance did not immediately crawl into the cozy, safe place under their desks. Mommy help!

For those of you who were not able to attend, SirsiDynix Institute has already posted it to their presentation archives.


Out from under the radar

Uh oh, we've been spotted! Jenny over at The Shifted Librarian (and also the organizer of the awesome gaming program recently attended) gave The Flying Keyboard and Ruth's blog, The Utopian Library, a shout-out for blogging the Symposium. Though Ruth and I blogged many of the same sessions, she picked up many more of the details than I did and went through the tedious work of linking to everything relevant. Anyway, thanks for lifting us from obscurity, Jenny :) Now I have to be much more diligent in my duties.

In other news, I have finished HP7 at last. Spoiler embargo has been lifted!


What I'm Reading...

I'm nearly done with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and as such I'm still in the No Spoilers Camp. I'm impressed with it so far. The action is keeping me on the edge of my seat and I wonder how J.K. Rowling could have gotten any sleep at all while writing this book.

Besides this tome and the other 4 books I'm concurrently reading, I read many library blogs (28 of them at last count) via my feed reader of choice, Bloglines. By subscribing to all of these blogs through Bloglines, I save myself the hassle of going to 28 different websites every day. Instead, I make one stop at Bloglines and I can scan all of the new stuff and decide whether it's worth reading. Some of the blogs that I find perpetually worthwhile are:

  • Library Revolution: Emily posts about library technology, Library 2.0, and primarily, customer service in libraries. She has an eye for all of those hilariously awful things we do in libraries to make things easier for ourselves and inconvenience our users. Sometimes I read Library Revolution and have to hit my head against the nearest solid object. Why do we have to make things so difficult? For an idea of what I'm talking about, check this out.
  • DavidLeeKing: David was one of my favorite presenters at the Computers in Libraries conference Ruth and I attended in April 2007. He blogs about library websites, emerging technology, and change. And even though I primarily read his blog through an RSS reader, I sometimes like to drop by his site to see new photos and videos that he's added to his widgets. The dude can rock a dulcimer.
  • LibrarianInBlack: Sarah's blog has the honor of being one of the first librarian blogs that I started reading way back in 2004. LiB has survived many, many feed reader weedings. (That's hard to say...feed reader weedings...read weeder feedings...weed feader reedings!). A "tech librarian by default", Sarah's always got something good to say about useful web apps and tech training. In fact, she recently wrote an issue of ALA TechSource Reports on Technology Competencies for Library Staff.
So let's just pretend I don't have enough to read already. Recommend me more useful librarian blogs, please!


Gaming Symposium Wrap Up

Finishing up my conference blogging with some final thoughts. Liz Lawley's closing keynote, "Games without Borders: Gaming Beyond Consoles and Screens," though threatened to be overtaken by Vista and the projector not playing nicely, was a fitting end to an exciting event. What stuck with me most was her appeal to all of us to use our librarian evaluation skills to create selection tools to be used to recommend the best games. When we think about our own collection development standards in the library, those are the same issues faced by parents as they ask "What games are best for the child/teen/adult in my life?" Any libraries out there building selection tools for videogames yet?

As we are build up our gaming groups, we need to document all of the successes--pictures, anecdotes, and stories--so that the adult community can better understand what the tangible benefits of gaming are, and to make sense of their childrens' lives, and to gain support for this type of programming in the library. It would be really fun to have a non-librariany Gaming & Learning workshop for our own community. Having expert speakers present on the positives of gaming AND offering a non-threatening environment in which we're encouraging adults to play--this could go far in getting buy-in from those folks who keep our doors open.


Gaming for Adults @ PLCMC

Martin House and Mark Engelbrecht from the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County shared information about their awesome undertaking to provide gaming programs for adults at PLCMC and its branches.

The Library applied for, and received, an LSTA grant to buy equipment and do a research study to answer the question "Does gaming bring adults into the library?"

With the grant money, PLCMC purchased:

  • 12 Alienware laptops for LAN play
    • Call of Duty 2
    • Need for Speed
    • Age of Empires
    • Madden 07
  • $2000 worth of board games
How are they doing it?
  • Events at 3 different locations
  • 2 in urban low-income neighborhoods, 1 in urban affluent neighborhood
  • events held once a month and rotated around branches
Promotion: do not rely on web as sole method of advertising, use sandwich board, flyers at local businesses, partner with local businesses such as comic book stores or game stores. They also recommend having a small printing budget for printing color flyers

Resistance: They did get some resistance from staff who thought the money would be better spent on books and other materials. Those who were already sold on gaming had to tout the educational, social learning & interaction, the promotion of the library, and reaching new non-traditional library patrons.
Some staff slowly saw value after success, some will never see it.

How to deal?
>encourage staff to attend the events
>point out that an unserved audience is being served

Some results:
  • majority of users from low-income areas
  • attendees range at 26+ but there's been good representation from 19-25 age group
  • younger adults drawn to these events
  • did not say that children are not welcome, though publicity says 18+
  • increase in approachability
  • in person marketing most effective
  • social interaction among very different segments of community
  • funding (though their LSTA grant covered it for this specific program)
  • staffing -- who is going to do setup, who is going to be present at event?
  • after hours events
  • coordinating equipment between branches
  • equipment damage and loss (putting it into annual budget)
  • getting staff buy-in
Other Considerations:
  • securing and transporting laptops
  • how long will it take to set everything up?
  • for PC gaming > much higher commitment from staff, esp. LAN; updates, machine setup w/ logins, comfort with troubleshooting PCs
  • staff have to know how to play the games
  • extension cords, powerstrips, optical mice (no wireless), steering wheels for driving games, no headphones [Interestingly, it was said that the headphones inhibited interaction; once they were taken away, the gamers were communicating, trash talking, having more fun!]
  • Hardware recommendations: 1G RAM (Vista - 2G +RAM), 60-100G HD
  • events should be 3-4 hours; otherwise it's not worth the time spent on setup
The guys ran out of time at the end, but Martin was nice enough to put his presentation materials on his website. Thanks! I got a lot out of this presentation, especially as I struggle to come up with appropriate ideas for future grant proposals. My brain is full!

Digital Downloads for Gamers

Superinformative Beth Gallaway (or shall I say, Information Goddess?) presented her top choices for downloadable and subscription-based games that can be used in the library. Her slideshow is here for the viewing, making my task of blogging this session so much easier! Additional comments and links follow:


  • Prima Strategy Guides > print on demand service, eGuides in PDF $12.99, full color
  • GameTap > subscription service; online arcade of 900+ video games, 8 logins per location, $6.95-9.95 month, Windows only, discounted if you sign up for an entire year at a time
  • Comcast Games on Demand > $14.95/month, includes Kids Play version all rated EC (early childhood) or E (everyone)
  • PlayFirst > Viacom service for $19.95, download a demo for free (one time fee per game)
  • Direct2Drive > game downloads from IGN, titles aimed at traditional gamer audience, ratings E-M ($20-49.99 full price for full version of a game, also offers bargains)
  • Shockwave Unlimited > ad-free access to downloadable games from Atom Entertainment ($4.95-9.95/month)
  • Overdrive > Beth's not holding her breath, but they say they will be offering arcade games, productivity (like Mavis Beacon Typing), family tree geneology maker and educational type games
  • StepMania > DDR for your fingers unless you have a USB pad (opensource, users are creating the dances, adding the songs, PC/Mac versions)
  • Snood > puzzle game, shooter game--highly addictive!
Games to Bookmark for Children:
  • Apple Corps > Mr. Potato Head online, but with different fruit and veg
  • Fun Brain > educational site in support of math, science and reading curriculum
  • Girls Go Tech > brought to you by the Girl Scouts
  • Neopets > highly commercial, raise a virtual pet
  • WebKinz > surpassing Neopets in popularity
Games to Bookmark for Teens/Adults:
  • Darfur is Dying > simulation game about genocide and the purpose of the game keep everyone in your refugee camp alive. This is an example of "games for change", games that have a serious instructional purpose. Note: this is part of mtvU.
  • Runescape > medieval MMORPG (tie it into learning about medieval period?)
  • Kingdom of Loathing > funny, illustrated w/ stick figure characters
  • iFiction > 250+ text games, interactive fiction (kind of like a choose your own adventure), tons of reading involved
  • Set Game > pattern recognition that enhances math literacy skills
  • Education Arcade
  • Games for change > Serious Games Initiative, games in education, training, health, politics, government, public policy

Day 3: Big Fun, Big Learning, Big Keynote

The keynote speaker for the last day of the Symposium was Greg Trefry, game designer for Gamelab and organizer of the Come Out and Play festival. [And I thought I had a cool job!]

Greg talked about Big Games, games that take place in the real world, engage the public (sometimes innocent bystanders), and involve the players in a real life environment -- a street, a neighborhood, an entire city. [By the way, I really like this guy's slides...photos with bold words (is that Impact?), not a bullet point in sight! I'm hoping he links to the presentation soon from his website.]

Big games are a mix of:

  • Folk Games
  • Alternative Reality Games > mostly played on Internet; internet based scavenger hunt like I Love Bees
  • Social experiment > mass pillow fight in Toronto
The Big Game Canon (as of 3 years ago):
  • PacManhattan
  • Mogi-Mogi > cellphone game to collect different stuff
  • Big Urban Game (BUG) > involve entire city of Minneapolis. spectacle! introduced idea of big inflatable pieces
Other games from last year's Come Out festival:
Library content > think of locations, collections, spaces (specific depts, rooms), unique identifiers, tools (copiers, wifi, computers)

5 ideas for libraries: (sketched out)
  • Secret Agent scavenger hunt > secret meeting spots, avoiding detection, collecting codes, level up
  • Then/Now > citywide photo game using historical or digital collections, go collect a photo of how something looks now
  • Rent Control > real real estate game using fire maps or something, take rules from Monopoly
  • Babel > a code breaking game using library's foreign language collection (whoever deciphers the most in a certain amount of time wins)
  • Dewey's Demons > collect creatures, could be a web based game
Make activities out of everyday things. Look around you, give goals to normal activities, and playtest it because games never work the first time around.


Tournament Games for Any Occasion (In 1000 WPM)

Presented by Eli Neiburger from Ann Arbor District Library. Admits that the presentation leans toward console games because that's what he likes best.

[whoa hey slow down there Eli...]

  • Audience
  • Appeal - like Supersmash
  • Name recognition / is there buzz? Katamari Damacy is awesome, but is it going to draw a crowd? Not likely.
  • Logistics - want to be able to run multiple matches at the same time
  • Victory conditions - how do you determine who won?
  • Appropriateness for the audience - video games are a controversial issue in politics
  • Accessibility - how easy is it to learn if you've never played before? ("Creating an atmosphere where people are comfortable sucking.")
  • Hipness - esp. important for teen crowd ("the goths with their big pants") ("simply too tough to be the pretty pink princess") ("i am too tortured to play Mario Kart")
  • Rabidity of the fanbase - how passionate are they about it? will they fuss if you don't adhere strictly to regulations? how do you balance the hardcore players with creating a positive environment for all levels?
  • Depth - How long does it take to gain mastery?
  • Repeatability - can you do it over and over again and have people show up?
Ratings > ESRB started in late 90s
- Referring to a game featuring Dana Plato and scantily clad co-eds in the 90s - "looks more like an Ed Wood film than Grand Theft Auto"
- In 2005, E (rated for Everyone) represents 49% of video game sales, while only 15% have a M rating (Mature)
- In addition to ESRB, check out gamerdad.com and theesa.com

Eli talked about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of a variety of genres (Action/Adventure, RPGs, First-Person Shooter, Racing, Fighting, etc.). Check out his book to get the full low-down. And here are his slides! Hooray!

And the day is over. Phew. It was a long one.

Library as Laboratory

Subtitled: Supporting Culture with Creative and Participative Digital Learning

Matt Gullett and Kelly Czarnecki from the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County/ImaginOn

PLCMC started out by creating the Computer Club with the idea of kids being able to use the library for creation, not just consumption.

The Game Lab was developed to:

  • collaborate with customers, community, schools, organizations, corporations - partners currently include UNC Charlotte, Capcom, Wizards of the Coast, Youth Digital Arts Cyberschool, Library Game Lab @ Syracuse, AADL
  • create access to games and interactive media creation, recreation & learning
  • educate about "public good" benefits of gaming
How? Not sure yet! It's a work in progress.

Craig Davis from the Youth Digital Arts CyberSchool
1. If kids could create their own videogames, what would they be?
2. If libraries could offer videogame creation easily, would they?
3. What if a technophobic librarian could facilitate it? [This is exactly the thing that gives me a case of the heaving fantods when it's brought up in library meetings. Who's going to facilitate this program? How can anyone be trained to do this? Oh no, it's going to have to be me!! And I'm hardly a technophobe].

Some themes that are revealed:
  • Participatory culture does away with age hierarchies
  • Provoked to self-learning
  • Collaborative Intelligence

Building a Game Community and a Game-Friendly Environment

Donald Dennis - Syracuse Game Lab

Creating the right environment for gaming - considerations and
best practices

Game space: lighting, power, internet access, ambient sound, sound isolation, food & drink
Furniture: mobile, versatile furniture is the best. Need to be able to put tables together, reach across one table
Game storage: Has to be visible! There's no point in hiding your circulating collection away from the people who you want to get to it. People know the Library has books; how do they know you have games? [how powerful is your PR machine?]
Decor: Game companies have all sort of propaganda (i.e. posters and displays) that they can provide. Why not frame an old Monopoly board? [I am feeling particularly Martha. I just might!]
Web Community: Extends the physical community through calendars, RSS, forums, wikis, personal pages
Age/Social Group Focus: Cross generational will work, but it's not going to be a solid, consistent group. Think niche (teens, seniors, etc.)
Build around a Game Focus, but don't rule out other games: Traditional card/board/dice/war games, RPGs, Electronic (arcade, handheld, console, computer games including stand alone, networked, and MMORPGs)
Game book collection development: Choose Your Own Adventures, Lost World battle books, RPGs, Humor/Comics/Graphic Novels (esp. PVP, Dork Tower, Knights of the Dinner Table)

Activities [the good stuff]

  • recurring game nights
  • tournaments
  • spotlight on traditional games
[Oh dang! He's run out of time. Says that his PowerPoint will be posted on the web later on. Also in progress is the Library Game Lab Nexus, where people will be able to get together and talk about games and libraries.]

Need to build in connections to other library programming to get the buy-in from the community!

[All the talk about board games has me itching to play Scrabble.]

Getting Gaming on the Table

With all of the great presentations I've seen on offering specific gaming programs in public libraries, I was excited to attend a session all about the first steps necessary to get it going. Namely, the moolah and organizational support. Julie Scordato of Columbus Metropolitan Library wants to show us how!

She spoke of the need to have 2 ongoing conversations: one with staff and one with administration. Talking (and lots of it!) is what is required to sell people on the idea. What was so helpful about her comments that follow is that these methods are applicable to ANY new idea in the library, especially anything buzzwordy. Julie started by writing a 30 page (!!) proposal for gaming, requesting $15K to start the program. Her administration awarded her much more. Awesome!

* How do you sell people on gaming? Determine what's important to you: bringing in more teens? engaging teens? encouraging repeat visits? meeting teens where they are?

* Look at what is already in organization. Tie gaming into the library's mission/strategic plan and organizational culture. How can gaming support what your library is doing and meet the challenges facing it? Look at marketing studies, too. Are teens in our focus?

* Find allies in the Library. Don't just fall back on "admin is saying we have to do this." Quote: "It's a disadvantage if administration mandates gaming without previous staff buy-in."

* Avoid "positive negatives" as a reason for doing it. For example, "we gotta give the teens something to do because they're driving me crazy! " is not the best outcome!

* Find Your Gamers. They educate, reassure, informally answer questions. Find interested staff outside the department involved (Circ clerks, adult reference librarians, maintenance)

* Find Your Converts > staff who resisted, had no opinion, were on the fence

* Deal with the Naysayer. Encourage them to attend pilot programs, hook them up with their fellow converts and believers who they have cred with, and if that doesn't work, then agree to disagree as long as the administration is on board.

* Develop a proposal important to gain support and establish credibility. Tie into the educational value and tie to literacy. "Gaming is cool" is not enough. Show how it ties specifically into Library's mission and values, and have the cultural and statistical data to refute claims about its faddishness.

* Ask Admin: What extent do they envision their commitment? What is realistic timeline for implementation? What are expectations for staff involvement and follow-through?

* Get testimonials!

Growing a Gaming Program + How To Do It

Lots of good how-to information in this presentation, and it helps that all of the presenters are from suburban Chicago libraries. Maybe we'd see the same results and have the same challenges?

First up is Alex Tyle, Adult Services Director at Homer Township Public Library:

Gaming @ Homer Township PL

  • Library-wide focus on programming for teens: young adults club, book discussion, teen techies, teen interns, gaming events, teen leadership academy
  • Hit as many teen interests as possible
  • Positive comments from community as a whole; building good relationships with high schools
Considerations: (Note: open sessions get noncompetitive players while tourneys attract competition)
- schedule as an open session and tournaments with 3 rounds
- use 3 staff members to handle the crowd
- pair everyone off with someone from same level, do all 3 songs paired up together: 1st round is the library song choice, 2nd round song selected by one person in pair, then 3rd round chosen by other person in pair
Wii Sports:
- get extra batteries for remotes
- provide enough room for movement
Additional Activities: make sure there is other stuff to do while waiting their turn - board games, leftover crafts
Cost outlays:
- PS2 $130
- Dance pads & game $200 (redoctane.com)
- GH2 and guitars $139-180
- Wii $250
- Extra Wii remotes $40
- additional games often come with Wii remotes $50-$60
Ways around the initial cost include: borrow, wishlist, share with other libraries
Publicity: young adult club, teen techies, schools, posters, press releases, blog

Gaming @ Orland Park Public Library, Kelly Laszczak (Asst Head of YS at Orland Park PL)

- run over 3 months (saturdays once a month from 1-4)
- 2 qualifying rounds where they keep track of participant's scores
- participants with highest 36 scores from the first two rounds invited back for the finals in the 3rd month
- brackets created in publisher, printed poster size

DDR Tournament
- grades 6-12 regardless of skill level
- must be present at finals to win
- most kids used to playing 'heavy' load; usually play on lite or standard, then move up difficulty levels as things move on
- 22-32 kids in the finals; generally have 70 people in the room because friends and family come in final rounds
- make sure there are other things to do, like board games, snacks (a must!)
- prizes very important = Best Busy gift cards, coupons for local vendors
- parting gift something small (like ring pops!)

Chess Tournaments
- single elimination, all ages
- 2 qualifying rounds and 1 final based on performances in 1st round
- opponents selected at random during the first round

Eric Currie from Elmwood Park Public Library added that his library does all-day tournaments (9:30-4:30) on a Saturday !

Amy Alessio & Joe Torres from Schaumburg Township District Library wrapped it up with all the awesome stuff they're doing with their Teen Advisory Board.

Note: STDL gets corporate funding with its proximity to Sears, Motorola, Woodfield Mall

Teen Advisory Board
- had 9th anniversary in February
- now has 11-14 teens on the Board, mainly high school boys (including anime group, writing club) - TAB plans programs that they want to attend themselves
- Teen materials circ increased 600% (70% each years since TAB started)
- Input matters; TAB chooses themes, programs, logos, prizes, collection elements; plans their meetings; performs community service projects; redesigned Teen Center
- TAB members choose games and systems; surveys during Teen Read Week, Teen Tech Week, National Library Week

Game equipment
- most of the stuff purchased used (GameStop) w/ extended warranty as a possibility
- Cobalt Flux dance pads reserved for special occasions because they are so heavy and difficult to move, but offers true arcade experience. Best value is the Red Octane Dance Pads
- +3 portable LCD tvs

Gamers Group
- started in November 2006 at teens' request
- monthly session during school year, around 7 kids per meeting; use the group as a way to get info from teens about their interests

Future plans
- Integrating Web 2.0 elements (MySpace, Facebook, blog for communication in between sessions)
- More structured tournaments
- podcasting/videocasting (recently bought video camera to document gaming group activities)
- Wii Love Gaming

Gaming Symposium, Day 2

Hopped up on apple danish and coffee, I'm here in the scenic Marriott O'Hare for Day Two of the ALA Techsource Gaming and Learning in Libraries Symposium. Day One I was old-school Jenn with pad of paper and pen (so retro!), but I'm prepared to take full advantage of the free wifi today.

This morning's keynote is by James Paul Gee , author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.

* Our educational system is driven by gaps-- gaps in literacy, applications, knowledge, tech savvy, innovation
* Why do most kids fail in applying knowledge but some get A's while others get F's? [A students competent at print literacy and parroting back definitions]
* Tech savvy = not afraid of tech stuff, can use it productively to create, not just consume
* Curriculum kills innovation, but innovation is the only thing that will keep us on the top of the economic pile

* Re: the digital divide: Simply handing people technologies will not lessen the gaps, it will widen them; poor families not able to provide the mentoring/scaffolding that middle-class families can

* YuGiOh card game uses academic language. The wonders of capitalism! They figured out how to sell complex learning systems that kids want to buy
* "School makes things that kids are good at hard"

There are 12 learning principles that games rely upon. Think for yourself, is it a good principle? If so, should we put it into school? If we can't put it in school, should we put it in a library?

  1. lower the consequences of failure - encourages exploration and risk taking > "fail early, fail often"
  2. performance before competence
  3. players high on the agency tree
  4. problems are well ordered
  5. cycles of challenge (cycle of expertise) - give a challenging problem, let them repeat it until it can be done in sleep, consolidate mastery, practicing it to death; then, mastery is challenged by The Boss
  6. stay within, but at the outer edge, of the player's "regime of competence" > feel challenged but it is doable = "pleasantly frustrated"
  7. encourage players to think about systems, not just isolated facts > Civilization, Sim City
  8. empathy for a complex system > scientist seeing his experiment from the electron's point of view [hellooo i am an electron! doing electrony things!]
  9. give verbal information "just in time" when players need and can use it - or "on demand" when the player asks for it
  10. show the meanings of words and symbols and show how they vary, don't just offer definitions = assigning a situated meaning
  11. modding attitude = modifying > if you can do better, you make it! Tony Hawk game, you can not only play the game, you can make it over again
  12. Assessment - games give tests all the time
- "Kids at risk" just means that "they don't like school"
- "Public schools are good for producing service workers"


Right whore, Jeeves!

We are in the midst of customizing our Innovative WebPAC Pro catalog to take advantage of all of the user-friendly features not in our current catalog. Imagine my delight when the new spellcheck politely inquires 'Did you mean whorehouse?' when I search for WODEHOUSE.


Just Say No to HB1727

Now that I've finally finished posting all of my Computers in Libraries notes (has it been nearly a month already?), I can step away from Library 2.0 dreamland and get on with the business of talking about the reality of computers in libraries. And our reality here in Illinois is becoming grim and anger-making.

Currently awaiting debate in the Illinois Senate is House Bill 1727, which, if passed, would mandate the installation of internet filters on all computers in all public and school libraries in the state. The Illinois Library Association has declared Monday, May 14, a "Day of Unity," calling for libraries to take action to educate their patrons about this onerous, cookie-cutter legislation, and to ask them to contact their own state senators.

While we're not going so far as to shut down the Internet to make our point, we are doing what we can to get the word out. Director Carolyn Anthony sent a letter to Senator Emil Jones and Senator Ira Silverstein, encouraging them to vote no. I created flyers that are being dropped by all of our adult internet computers, as well as a poster for the Adult Computer Lab.

Ruth, bless her heart, even though she was still on vacation blogged about it and, from the comfort of her sunny backyard, created an e-newsletter to go out to Skokie teachers and other residents who have subscribed to our newsletters.

And while an informed citizenry is considered a Very Good Thing, there is sometimes the risk that it will come back to bite you in the butt. One of the recipients of Ruth's newsletter wrote back indicating that she thinks the legislation is a good idea and that she supports mandatory filtering in libraries. [Insert heavy sigh here]. I find that a bit discouraging to hear. I only hope that the other 953 recipients of the newsletter fall into our camp.

Online Tutorials in 30 Minutes or Less

Presented by Greg Notess

Given the rapidity with which websites and databases change, both in terms of format and content, any type of user instruction must be able to be created on the fly and FAST. Screencasting is an option for creating online tutorials that combine audio commentary and click-by-click demonstration. Notess’s presentation was chock full of helpful hints, and during the course of the 2.5 hour session, he created a handful of online tutorials, usually in about 10 minutes or less.

Online tutorials are perfect to house permanently on the library’s website as a way to augment text-based database/resource guides. They are also great for reference. Notess comments that he often will do a screencast for an email or IM patron who needs to see the complicated click path required to access a resource. He will take 5 minutes to create a quick step-by-step screencast, upload it to his blog, and then send the blog link to the patron.

Software used for screencasting includes Camtasia ($), Capitvate (an Adobe product; $$), and Wink (free, but with a lesser audio quality). To add audio commentary, one would need access to a USB mic (purchased for podcasting, of course!)

Like the podcasting/videocasting program, I found this postconference program to be extremely helpful as I was able to visualize the process—it looks a lot less intimidating than one would think! An immediate idea for our library: once we implement WebPac Pro’s interactive features such as patron comments and rankings, I plan to do an online tutorial to demonstrate how to use these features. Our staff has created text-based guides to using all of our databases; perhaps screencasting would be a more engaging, helpful form of instruction for these beasts? Of course, in an ideal world, which we all know this definitely is not, database vendors would create this content for their customers. Factiva, I'm talking to you.

The David & David Show: Podcasting and Videocasting Bootcamp

Led by David Free (Georgia Perimeter College) and David Lee King (Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library), this hands-on, experiential workshop went over all of the tools to create podcasts and videocasts. I always find these types of workshops extremely helpful as it really demystifies the process. During the course of the workshop, the Davids requested help from volunteers (one of them being our own Ruth) in creating their CiL2007 podcast and videocast.

Many libraries are successfully doing regular podcasts for library instruction, book talks, interviews, and non-copyrighted storytimes. Among the ideas tossed around at the bootcamp that I think is just brilliant is the idea of doing library audio tours in foreign languages. Wouldn’t that be cool to have Russian, Korean, and Spanish tours?

What is needed for podcasting? The monetary outlay to begin podcasting is minimal; staff time is the biggest resource drain. However, David Free says that once you actually become comfortable with the software, the time it takes to create a podcast drops. We would need a USB microphone (ranging from $20-$100), software (Audacity available for free), and space for hosting the audio files. David said that it’s best if the files can be hosted locally, but that there are perfectly usable and free podcast hosting sites (blip.tv for example). David’s presentation materials are here. He is currently writing a book on podcasting in libraries.

Videocasting requires more equipment and staff time than podcasting, but there are so many innovative ideas that would be fantastic for libraries. Besides the traditional library activities like book talks, bibliographic instruction, library PR, and tutorials, videocasts could be used to

  • create a video history of the community
  • broadcast local library news or behind the scenes library footage
  • invite community leaders in to talk about their areas of expertise
  • videoblog of local attractions
  • issues forum for local political candidates (as television often does not cover smaller communities and races).
All of these ideas could be used to harness the collective brain of the community. Think about getting non-library people involved in creation of the videocasts, either behind the scenes or in front of the camera.

Library of Congress Subject Heading of the Day

Sewerage -- Fiction.

Hooboy, that's a good one. That one tops Myocardial Infarction -- Drama.


Guiding Libraries & Info Pros Through Change

David Lee King, Digital Branch & Services Manager
Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library

The dinosaurs didn’t go extinct because the climate changed—not at all. They went extinct because they couldn’t adapt to the changes happening around them. –Stephen Abram

King opened his presentation with a reference to the above quote by SirsiDynix’s Vice President of Innovation to illustrate the problem of transitions and resistance to change. King emphasized that change is external. Transition is the internal process that people go through inside themselves. Most leaders base a project on accomplishing change rather than on getting their people through the change. King notes that resistance is the main reason why technology projects fail and recommends the following three-phase approach to change:

  1. Saying goodbye. This is when we let go of the past, the way things used to be, and our whole world of experience.
  2. Shifting into neutral, an in-between state filled with uncertainty and confusion. This is the phase when we simply cope with things as we focus on the details. Some people get stuck in this phase because they refuse to let go of old ways, get frightened and fell, or freeze at a new beginning.
  3. Moving forward. This phase requires that people begin to behave in a new way. Resistance might start happening in this phase if people sense that their competence and value might be at risk. King identified three levels of resistance
    • Information-based resistance occurs when people feel that they do not have enough information, are unfamiliar or in disagreement with an idea, or are confused.
    • Physiological/emotional resistance occurs when people feel that their jobs, peer respect, or future with the organization are threatened. King calls these fears “mind games,” but recognizes that they are very real to the individual.
    • Other resistance includes individual personal history and significant disagreement over values.

Leaders and “techies” have already come to terms with impending changes and understand why people might not want to change; that it’s the transition, not the change itself, which causes unrest in the organization. King recommends the following steps when dealing with change:

  • Describe the change succinctly (one minute or less) and why it must happen.
  • Plan carefully
  • Help people respectfully let go of the old
  • Maintain constant communication
  • Emphasize the purpose of the change, their part, and the big picture
  • Model new behaviors and provide practice and training

He also encourages the “techies” to always share too much information and realize that there are areas where change might not occur quickly.

Games, Gaming & Libraries

Jenny Levine, Internet Development Specialist and Strategy Guide
American Library Association
Aaron Schmidt, Director
North Plains Public Library

Levine and Schmidt shared current video gaming statistics and best practices for planning and hosting a gaming event at the library.

The average age of today’s gamer is 33 and the largest group of gamers is middle-aged women. The majority of video games are suitable for use in libraries, with only 15% of all games released in 2006 rated M for Mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Gaming programs allow libraries to be valuable contributors to 21st century learning and the education system.

Levine offered this tip for working with young people, many of whom are avid gamers. In play, the gamer is focused on beating “the boss”— a villain that must be conquered before the player can advance to the next level of play. Gamers will keep trying until they find the best way to accomplish this. It is part of their learning and social style to “beat the boss.” For this reason, it is important that library staff refrain from too much bossy behavior when working with young people—especially gamers—to avoid playing into the young person’s instinct to… well… beat the boss.

Schmidt shared his experience with gaming at his library and offered several suggestions for planning and hosting a gaming event.

  • Allow teens to share their equipment for the program. It gives them a sense of ownership and lets them feel that they are part of the program
  • Connect the gaming system to an audio/video projection system to create a larger-than-life playing experience
  • Decide whether to host a tournament or open play
    • Tournament play involves more planning and can discourage casual gamers from participating, but has added value for participants
    • Open play is easier to plan and more friendly and inviting atmosphere but has less added value for participants
  • When gaming on the Internet, encourage responsible online behaviors such as logging out of player accounts and keeping passwords private.
  • Use program downtime to harvest audio, video, and other Web content from participants such as comments on the event, book review podcasts, and feedback statements.

Schmidt also addressed briefly the disruptive behavior often experienced in libraries where young users play Runescape. He compared their behavior to adult users who become belligerent, rude, and loud when they can’t get online or don’t want to pay a fine. In libraries where behavior has become a problem, he suggests a two-hour window of Runescape play each day. If and when behavior gets out of hand under any circumstances, gaming privileges can be revoked. In his experience, the kids respond well when under threat of losing their gaming privileges.


What's Hot with RSS?

Steven Cohen--law librarian, blogger, and all-around funnyman--did a quick overview of the hot new sites employing RSS. RSS is on the verge of being HUGE; Internet Explorer 7 has an RSS reader built in, just like Firefox has been doing for years. Windows Vista automatically has a feed icon on the desktop; it doesn't say "RSS", it says "News". People will often be using it without realizing. Start thinking about what kinds of library information can be pushed to these RSS readers; yet one more way to get the library message out!

Steven's Picks for RSS Hotness:

  • Google Reader as main RSS reader. He claims it's much easier to teach than Bloglines (but I lurve Bloglines! I will not defect!)
  • Libworm searches only library blogging community and library feeds
  • Page2RSS for those times when you think, "Man I wish this site had a feed!!" Put in a URL and click "to RSS" and a feed is created for you. Neat!
  • Techmeme features what's hot in the technology community
  • Opencongress.org shows what legislative issues bloggers are talking about; see the continually updated status of bills, senators, representatives, committees.
  • Justia searches federal district court filings & dockets (PACER) for FREE - goes back to January 2006
  • Library catalogs - University of Oklahoma integrated RSS into catalog AND call number area so that students can subscribe to feeds in a certain subject and find out right away when new books are added to the catalog. Tres cool.
  • Twitter is IM/blogging/text messaging "on crack".
Steven's presentation is available at stevenmcohen.pbwiki.com/CIL2007

Tech Training for Web 2.0

Janie Hermann is the Technology Training Librarian at Princeton (NJ) Public Library and spoke really, really fast about the exciting computer training that is happening at her library. For a long time, Princeton PL was involved in teaching the traditional classes: finding travel info online, subject specific internet classes, email, mouse skills, online catalogs, and more basic basics! Seeing a drop-off in registration and attendance for these classes, she changed gears and headed in the 2.0 direction. Here are her 10 tips for getting people into the library and teaching Web 2.0:

Tip 1: Outreach

  • Place yourself as a tech guru in the community by offering to give talks about 2.0 and social software to local groups (pc user groups, career support groups, chamber of commerce). This is also a good way into a group to talk about library resources. Get out and get known!
Tip 2: Start Modest
  • Implement monthly lecture/demo programs that will appeal to advanced users
  • "Technology Talks" - invite guest speakers to cut down on staff time
  • Princeton PL does a series called DataBytes - for staff to stay current with databases; also opened to the public; not hands-on, is a lunchtime lecture
  • Use these bigger programs to tie into hands-on
Tip 3: Develop Communication Channels
  • Gather email addresses at every session or class you offer; start with a targeted email list and then do a tech blog
Tip 4: Cover the Basics
  • Create a comprehensive training and lesson plan with appropriate support materials and handouts
  • Computer Lab staff are great instructors in this capacity
Tip 5: Train Staff or Volunteers
  • Training the trainers is essential! Provide practice sessions before going live to work out the glitches; use staff as guinea pigs!
Tip 6: Walk the Walk
  • Allow time for staff to play with new technology; Create blogs, wikis, podcasts for your website; and stay on top of trends!
Tip 6a: Keep Classes in Constant Beta
  • Update lesson plans frequently; websites change so often that it's important to update screenshots, navigational directions, etc.
Tip 7: Promote!!
  • Get all of the computer training in print calendars, press releases, library newsletter, get front page real estate on website
  • Include profiles of you and your tech staff, generate email lists and create blogs
Tip 8: Variety
  • Rotate classes; vary the type of classes like bootcamps, one-shots, mini courses with homework. One-shots generally aren't too helpful (which is pretty much all we at SPL do!)
Tip 9: Learning Together
  • Train staff with patrons to create transparency. Reserve seats in the training sessions for staff attendance. Staff can also help out if necessary!
Tip 10: Prove the value
  • Keep plenty of statistics and get ongoing testimonials to demonstrate impact

What's Hot?
Fun with Flickr; Become a Blogger; Fantastic Freebies Roadshow; What's the Fuss About RSS?; Photoshop mini-course; Firefox Extensions; School for Scanning

What's Not?
Meet the mouse; Learn the Library Catalog; Email Essentials; Intro to Search Engines;
Subject-specific classes

What's Lukewarm?
Shortcuts and timesaving tricks; Computer basics; Intro to internet; digital camera test drive; Genealogy online; Top sites and other treasures

Sadly, what I learned from this presentation is that we're doing everything that's so not hot and lukewarm. Loads of great ideas, though! Janie blogs at librarygarden.blogspot.com. Check out all of her presentation slides there.


A Note to the Casual Reader

When I set up this blog the week before leaving for Computers in Libraries, my intent was to use it primarily as my own repository of session summaries to be shared with Skokie Public Library staff. These postings here are in no way meant to compete with the high-quality blogging already out there. So many bloggers/conference attendees wrote funny, complete, and infinitely more useful posts than I, so if you're looking to get additional dirt on the sessions, I recommend searching the internets for cil2007. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...


Trends in Mobile Apps

Another trends program! Megan Fox from Simmons College is a mobile apps guru and talked at some length about the consumer trends that are driving how content is delivered on an as-needed basis.

Fox cited the statistics: 75% adults have cell phones, meaning that cell phone ownership surpasses landlines ownership; 90% of college students have cell phones; 350 billion text messages are exchanged worldwide each month! Wow! I'll spare the readers of this summary the rundown of the status of the current market and move right along into the ways in which the Mobile Web is changing web design.

  • .mobi domain for websites that are compatible w/ mobile devices (see cnn.mobi)
  • Libraries developing mobile page. Fox mentioned Fremont PL in Mundelein, but I couldn't find any evidence of its mobile page on the website.
  • Innovative Interfaces has AirPac, currently in use by 88 libraries including KCLS and Minneapolis PL
  • READY REF ON THE GO! Through sites like Answers.com's MobileAnswers
  • Simplified mobile layouts are being rolled out in databases like Westlaw, Factiva, and LexisNexis
SMS/Text Messaging services are also being used for ready ref-type questions. Current examples are Google (text 45546 -- it really works! I use it quite a bit), Yellow Pages (text YP411), Merriam-Webster (27563), and even Rome's Biblioteche di Roma.

Texting/SMS is the preferred communication style of the youngsters, but its use is growing among older Americans. How can we adapt in the library? Several email to text services exist, allowing the "old folks" who still email to send an email that will be sent as a text message to a cell phone.

Mobile audio and multimedia is making appearances in libraries in the form of iPod shuffles for checkout and LibriVox, the audio version of Project Gutenberg. Fox failed to mention the already-existing downloadable audiobook services to which libraries are increasingly subscribing, though.

Presentation slides and links available here.


Comments in the Catalog

Glenn Peterson, Web Administrator at Hennepin County Library, gave a show and tell of HCL’s user-centered catalog and Bookspace website. HCL is a Dynix library and they are fortunate to have web coding specialists on staff who can create mashups of their various web applications. When searching the HCL catalog, the bibliographic record offers many more features than just indicating location, call number, and status. These records mash bibliographic information, enriched content from Syndetics, patron comments, audio reviews (podcasts), Amazon reviews, and related lists. Further, each bibliographic record has an associated RSS feed so that users may subscribe and watch for further comments on that same title.

A few words on the comments themselves:

· This is the most heavily used feature on the entire HCL site, and is especially popular with teens. Even before receiving the 7th Harry Potter book, there are currently 60 comments from users merely anticipating the title and conjecturing about what will happen

· Comments demonstrate the “Long Tail” concept—most titles have one or two comments (if any), while very few books have a lot of comments.

· Comments are open! When a patron logs in to make a comment, it goes up right away. Immediate posting sends the message to patrons that their ideas are welcome. Great example of the phrase “radical trust.”

But what about bad language? And what are the maintenance requirements by library staff? All of the comments are pre-screened for language with what Mr. Peterson called the “naughty word filter”; those comments are held aside until staff can take a look. An automatic script runs every four hours and batches comments in an email message that is sent to the Web Services staff. If naughty words are present, the staff will manually edit and include the phrase “edited for publication.” Mr. Peterson assured the crowd that in their experience so far, with over 5700 comments by 3000 users (!), they have very infrequently had to edit for publication. HCL developed submission guidelines to inform patrons not to include spoilers, profanity/obscenity/spiteful remarks, or any personal contact information.

HCL has been able to innovate from within because of their skilled coders. However, there are other projects in the works, both as open source ILS projects and vendor upgrades that are building these types of comments/feedback forms into their catalogs. Yay!

Accelerated Planning: Not an Oxymoron

Rebecca Jones, a library consultant with Dysart & Associates, spoke about the steps she uses to guide libraries through their strategic planning processes. She lives by the “go fast planning” technique. Speedy planning is possible only with ample pre-work and pre-thinking. But if the initial work is done by all participating parties, planning committees should be able to move quickly through the process. She says that one of the challenges of any planning process is to balance inclusiveness with decisiveness, meaning that a variety of voices should be heard, but that at some point, tough choices must be made. Acknowledging that the plan will not please everyone.

I found it useful to attend this session outside of our Strategic Planning meetings because I was able to take a more objective view of our purpose. Jones talked about “Rules of Engagement” for the planning process that will be helpful for me: there are no martyrs, as we’re all busy people; there should be no hidden agendas; there is a common picture of the end product; I am honest about what I think during the meeting and not after. Jones is also a proponent of the 5 Goal limit. She believes that any strategic plan should only have 3-5 goals, because it’s hard to remember more than that and realistically even harder to do more than that and succeed. Finally, consider the resources (staffing & money) required to produce and deliver on your goals. What are the implications and consequences of (re)allocating staffing and dollars? What are you going to give up?

Info Design for the New Web

A topic close to my design-fetishist heart...
Columbia University librarian & consultant Ellyssa Kroski talked about web design trends that libraries should be paying attention to. She showed many examples of websites, color schemes, logos, fonts, and discussed what it is about the “new web” that make it so appealing. As an example, Google is indicative of what’s going on in design today—simple search interface, uncluttered screen, centered orientation. Ellyssa discussed three major elements of the new web:

SIMPLICITY of web applications and of design/style

  • Choice can frustrate; focused approach is better, leave off certain functions to make it easier for users
  • Even though there is not a lot of text to explain what you’re supposed to do, it’s more intuitive and easy for even new internet users to figure out
SOCIAL for social’s sake
  • Collaborative applications with allow interaction with information
  • Commenting, rating, sending things to our friends, keeping track of things we like are often built into these sites. User profile is often the primary component and is customized to reflect user’s personality
  • Visual representations of what is important; tag cloud is best example; also things sorted by “most searched” or “top” searches
  • Widgets and mashups which allow web designers to remix data to create new forms of navigation

Taking these principles of design for the new web, what can libraries do to make their web presences dynamic? It’s important to include only necessary functionality with a clean, efficient design; meet users’ expectations of the web by enabling connections and participation; offer alternative ways to navigate a website, customizable by user’s preference. And most importantly, remember that everything is “in perpetual beta” and we should be prepared to get rid of things that aren’t working.


Pimp My Firefox

Blogger-librarian Jessamyn West presented some cool tricks to use in the Firefox browser to deal with common browser annoyances, or, as Jessamyn said "make Firefox look awesome and work excellently." This was a tech-nerd program that might not be interesting to many people, but she is a supercool speaker and knows her stuff. I’m a fan of Firefox and am always happy to testify to its usefulness to whomever will listen. Best look at her presentation here.

Millennials and the Library

Marshall Breeding from Vanderbilt University spoke about generational transitions and the current “millennial” generation, those born between 1981-2000. In an academic setting in which Mr. Breeding works, Millennials are the majority of patrons. The basic generational assumptions are that people born during this time have an innate ability for technology, are accustomed to frenetic multitasking, are comfortable with diverse types of digital media, and have a highly interactive style of working.

In developing collections, think of Content, Discovery, and Access. In the area of content, focus on digital collections: audio, video, podcasts, ejournals, ebooks. Discovery refers to the hyperlinked serendipity that happens through regular web surfing—for example, looking up a title in the catalog, reading user reviews, listening to the author interview. The access, then, to library services should be Anytime Anywhere.

As we consider ways to reach out to our teen and young adult users, these are all things to keep in mind. However, it’s not just the library user that needs to be considered. The Millennial generation is the next group that will be working in libraries. Will the library as workplace be welcoming to those who are accustomed to receiving info quickly and from multiple sources; like to parallel process and multitask—listen to music, talk on the phone, answer email all at the same time; work in peer groups; learn while doing instead of the traditional read-then-do learning model?

Also think about website design. Heightened user expectations (all users, not just millennials) require that pages load quickly and that interfaces are highly graphic, not text-based. Consider the conventions in web design that seem to have missed the Library Boat: navigation, simple search interfaces with minimal textual instruction. Mr. Breeding touched on traditional library website design, which he describes as “status quo”, require too much jumping through hoops to get to the content, and are designed for librarians who are text-based learners.

Me, MySpace, and I: Sharing, Privacy, and Trust in the Networked World

Alane Wilson from OCLC spoke of this work-in-progress research about online privacy and behavior. The report compares librarians’ online behavior with that of the rest of the general population in the US, UK, Japan, France, and Germany and takes a look at where we currently are with the reality of online privacy and individuals’ own perceptions of their privacy.

Ms. Wilson talked about this being the 3rd wave of computing in which there is Ubiquitous Computing (“Ubicomp”). We are no longer tethered to a desktop machine and the technology has receded into everyday life. Current estimates show that 120,000 blogs are being created every day, showing a solid trend of community authorship and individually-driven content. Take a look at Amazon, Netlix, Barnes & Noble and you get an idea of how much people enjoy contributing their thoughts to the masses—it’s not even necessary to delve into the blogosphere to see how companies are harnessing user-driven content.

In regards to privacy, Ms. Wilson said “the footprints we leave behind will not melt away”, meaning that the things we put out there online will be searchable, archived, and cached on servers all over the world. She believes that 21st century civic behavior will be characterized by this idea, and that intervention by educators (schools and libraries, namely) is essential. Survey results have shown that there is a big gap between what’s actually happening in regards to individual privacy and what we’d prefer to have happen. Most people say that they don’t want their personal information to fall into the wrong hands and would prefer not to leave a trail, yet they often do not choose anonymity on the internet, as they very well could. It’s a conundrum! Individual users have the power to keep their personal information private while contributing, yet they are stuck in the “nothing bad will happen to me” frame of mind. At this time, the survey data has not been posted. I will be anxious to read the full report which will hopefully be out this summer.

Planning & Implementing Library 2.0

David Lee King, Digital Services Manager from Topeka & Shawnee County Public Libraries, was brave enough to do several presentations, one of which was this very helpful overview of first steps in planning and implementing web 2.0 services. The variety of local decisions is immense, and deciding who/what/why/where/when can be a stumbling block for some libraries. King said that whatever decisions are made about implementing these services, we need to “organize around the work, not around the department”. There may be support staff who are skilled at editing audio files, for example, and IT staff may not have any idea what to do with a MySpace profile. Challenge the library’s inclination to give all new technology tasks to the dedicated tech staff.

King also spoke about how easy it is to get the message out quickly with web 2.0 services. The conventions of web 2.0 are conversational, friendly, imperfect; this is not master’s level thesis writing we’re talking about! Once the content is created, it can be posted in multiple spaces for different audiences (post events to MySpace page, link to photos in Flickr, upload video to Blip.tv and create easy links to library blogs). Also important to think about in the planning process is how to go about inviting participation. What is the level of customer participation you will seek, and what type of control will the library give up to encourage that participation?

David's presentation is available here.

Monday's Keynote: Web 2.0 & the Internet World

Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, was our first keynote speaker—a perfect choice to kick of a Web 2.0 conference. One of the great things about this conference was that the presenters assumed a level of knowledge of web 2.0 principles. Mr. Rainie spent only a brief moment talking about these principles before moving quickly on to what it means for libraries. He indicated six hallmarks that we should be aware of:

1. The Internet has become the computer
• 89% of online teens have access at home; 75% at school; 70% at a friend or relative’s house

2. Tens of millions of Americans are creating and sharing online
• content creation = artwork, photos, creative writing
• 33% have created or worked on webpages/blogs for family or community

3. Even more internet users are accessing the content created by others

4. Many are sharing what they know & feel online via ratings and reviews, tagging content, and commenting on blogs

5. Individuals are contributing their knowledge without even getting paid for it! Peer-to-peer file sharing and open source software development is being driven by bored programmers.

6. Online Americans are customizing their online experiences w/ web 2.0 tools. It was cited that 25-30% of younger users get RSS feeds, often without realizing it, so seamless is the integration with web browsers.

A Word to Our Conference Center

Dear Crystal City Hyatt,
Please make your conference wifi setup work consistently so that I can do live blogging. Thank you and respectfully submitted,


Feed Me!

On my way down to Sunday's AM preconference session, Simple Solutions for Dynamic Web Services Using RSS, which was being presented by McMaster University Reference Librarian Amanda Etches-Johnson, I rode the glass elevator with a woman sporting the perfect shoulder bag. I'm always on the lookout for a good stash bag and hers was well qualified: not too big, not too small, and plenty of interior pockets. You're probably thinking, "What the heck does the perfect stash bag have to do with computers in libraries or RSS?" Nothing, except that the bag was on the shoulder of... well... Amanda Etches-Johnson!

Amanda presented a hugely informative session about how libraries can use blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, and photo sharing tools to create and publish original content, generate and syndicate RSS feeds, and keep the content fresh and interesting. She also demonstrated some of the tools she uses such as RSS remixers, OPML packagers, RSS-to-JavaScript code generators, and sources for news, information, and electronic journal feeds.

By the second break my brain was pulsing. I had Amanda's presentation notes, my own notes, and a second tablet on which I captured my streams of thought about how I'd like to implement RSS on our library's Web site. So much information... my brain is stumbling over itself with ideas for subject-specific blogs and headline feeds, collaborative linkrolls, RSS feeds on plasma screens, journal feeds, internal wikis for committee work... sigh.

And did I mention that all of the tools that Amanda showed us are freely available on the Web? Budget that!


We Will Survive.

Within walking distance of the Hyatt: sushi, steak, tapas, seafood, thai, chinese, italian, ice cream, starbucks, chipotle, corner bakery, a few bars, a liquor store that doesn't sell beer or mike's hard, CVS pharmacy, and more in the opposite direction of where I walked. I'll have to check that out tomorrow.

We will survive.

Wi-Fi in the Sky.

...courtesy of the Courtyard across the street and our room in the crow's next. It's a little slow during peak times, but if you sit near the window and position your laptop at just the right angle, you'll get a decent single. Hell, it's free.

No room fridge, though. I hope the chocolate doesn't melt.


Oh the Pressure.

Hello, Ruth!

Library Jenn-point-Oh.

Hello readers! Another sunny day and I start blogging...again. This new venture, The Flying Keyboard, is a first--the first time I will be sharing blog duties with someone (say Hello, Ruth!) and also the first time I will be blogging for work. This month, Ruth and I will be headed off to Arlington, VA for some exciting Library 2.0 conference action at Computers in Libraries 2007. We hope to bring back loads of good stuff we can use to awesome-ize Skokie Public Library, though it's already pretty awesome if I don't say so myself. So check in with us as we navigate the wide variety of conference programs, WiFi our way through the conference center, and dodge the vendor swag that is omnipresent.

Anyone need a totebag?