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.