Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blog #13 The Big Wind Up

I have the benefit of working in two different types of libraries, and love how every semester I can bring some useful theory from class back to my job, and then demonstrate to my classmates how the book learning applies in the "real world." I took this Library 2.0 class because I'd been using the tools for a while now, and wanted to learn about some new features or uses I had never heard of before. I succeeded in doing that plus learning about ideas I had not considered before copyright, privacy issues, and "library identity in the age of social media."

I had built a facebook group and Fan page for Quatrefoil a few years ago, but was not diligent about updating it, or building on it. As I got used to blogging every week for class, I added the assignment of blogging every day for Quatrefoil. Microblogging perhaps--adding a link to another article, an announcement of an upcoming event, new books in at the library, items on our wishlist, fundraising. Facebook had a feature which pushed the update to the Twitter feed, so I was able to get more articles to pass on, and didn't have to maintain two different services.

Posting everyday made a tremendous difference in our numbers. In September the Quatrefoil facebook fan page has 13 members, by December it was up to 201. Not all of these facebook fans are current members--so we need to use the contacts to develop them into more involved members. Liking us on facebook is a good initial strategy, and we need to be sure to follow up with an invitation, a note something!

Comparing the demographics of our current member base and our facebook fans: our current members are largely male and over 65. Our facebook fans are 25-41 and primarily women. For years the Board has been wondering how to reach out to women--now we can see that a good number are active on social network sites. The bigegst jump occured after the Minnesota Out Campus Conference in November. I gave a presentation on the library, and tabled at the vendor fair and hundreds of students from around the state viewed our page. The Board has commissioned a Membership task force for 2011, and I am sure social networking will be a big part of it.

I liked Ann H's checklist (12 Days of Class) of what she has accomplished. Here's mine:

  • 13 blogs posts for class.
  • 92 updates & tweets for Quatrefoil facebook fan page plus comments, replies to comments, event postings
  • Posting on Razoo for Give To the Max day & Quatrefoil Annual Campaign--fundraising via social networking.
  • Advertised on social networking job sites LinkedIn, MN Council of NonProfits job Board, St Kates internship board , Volunteer Match for volunteers, inters and Board members.
  • Was a guest lecturer (via email bulletin board posts for LibTech class at MCTC).
  • Wrote an essay on Library2.0 to be published in the new book:
  •  Serving LGBTIQ library and archives users : essays on outreach, service, collections and access by Ellen Greenblatt; (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/630498096)
  • A paper and portal on OPACS that sucked, and building better ones for libraries
  • Used gmail chat to collaborate with classmates on final project. Much better than dimdim.
  • Learned about yahoo pipes, tal.ki, & dimdim
  • Used a wiki for the Quatrefoil Tech committee to post documentations regarding our hardware and software and future needs. (WikiDot)
  • Learning HTML and paypal to enable credit card & paypal payments for memberships on Q's web site
  • Configuring and installing wordpress.org, investigating themes, widgets for class project (LOC NDIIPP blog)
  • Learning how tough it would be for anyone working in a government agency to use social networking tools on a government sponsored blog.
I hope I am not leaving anything out: oh yeah, watched some cool videos (Rosedale, Frontline...and some NOT so good ones) and some good books Zittrain, Hamlet's Blackberry--that I may not have encountered had it not been for this class. Thank you!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Learning Blog #12 Rushkoff, Rosedale and 2nd Life

Learning Blog #12 Rushkoff, Rosedale and Second Life.

I just loved these videos! I am a big Frontline fan, but somehow I missed “Digital Nation.” The documentary raised some intriguing questions about what does it mean to be a community, advantages and drawbacks to “virtual communities” and the sheer  impossibility of “multitasking”. I found Phillip Rosedale so engaging and charismatic, I am ready to give Second Life another chance.

There was much to like in the video, but the section on drone warfare and the “Army Experience Center” totally unnerved me. Offer up a free, decked out, tricked out arcade lounge, present it as a accurate representation of military life to young teenagers, and we will just happen to have recruiters standing by to answer questions. The kids interviewed were pretty blasé, “yeah we know it isn’t real”, but the parent-me worries about desensitization. The drone warfare pilots also looked like they were just playing a video game too, uniform or no uniform. And how crazy-making that they just return from the battlefield at the end of the day and return to normal life. If the drones were shooting at other drones, that would be wonderful—take the people killing out of the equation entirely. But it really does not seem ethical for our guys to be shooting at bad  guys 4,000 miles away when their arms can’t reach that far.

If you are going to capitalize on kids today and their fine motor skills and texting skills, why not direct them towards medicine or engineering instead of warfare? My brother-in-law is a pediatric cardiologist and some of the diagnostic tools he uses do look like something straight out of a video game. And he is a hell of a good gamer too.

As the parent of a 4th grader, I am curious about what kind of training do public school kids get in their media class?  The segment on the Bronx school that turned itself around by issuing laptops to all the students seemed very promising. I’m sure many are on the “have not” side of the digital divide, and something like New Computers are a novelty. A useful one, but still. Perhaps they would have had the same outcome with digital cameras, or kindles, or new gym equipment. I was appalled by the principal being able to spy on the students while they were online. But oh yeah, jr high kids do not have civil rights while at school. They are using school property on school grounds, and their time is not their own. Do they disclose to the students up front, “you have no privacy online while at school?” (Or at home for that matter?)

I wasn’t sold on the Rushkoff’s “speaking into the webcam” commentary, but did admire him for  being brave enough to show his youthful self exclaiming about Digital Worlds in 1994 and what has tempered his enthusiasm.

            Phillip Rosedale was such a charismatic speaker, and very proud of what he has created in Second Life. During the opening shot when he was flying the plane, I thought for sure he was cruising in a virtual one, not a real one! Sheesh! I was pleased that he admitted that “yes Second Life IS hard to use”. I have been on a few dozen times, and end up leaving after 15 minutes, because I can’t fly, or I am flying into buildings. I joined through the New Media Consortium site which drops you into friendly territory, and you don’t have the riff raff giving you grief. I have yet to attend a meeting or conference in 2nd Life, though I have wandered around New Media Consortiums site, played drums, ridden a bicycle, and flew into buildings, and walked around in circles. Is this the future of business? I am in a library where I do have to be physically present most of the time, but seeing the deserted IBM campus was a bit Planet of The Apes. Where IS everybody?
As airline travel becomes more of a headache, and peak oil makes driving too expensive, will virtual meeting beome the new norm? Probably some version of it. Second Life seems good for play and academics, but I saw the eye-rolling of the IBM exec learning to fly his avatar. Perhaps IBM has to create something more button-down & pinstripe to be taken seriously as a business tool.

My aha moment—working on wordpress. I seem to learn something new every time I try to work on the class project. Why is this image showing up three times? How do I make a child page under a page? Or is that a “post”? Now I really wish I knew html & css. I see the possibilities. I know this CAN be done, I just don’t know HOW to do it. It seems like the site is finally coming together. And as a bonus I figured out how to get the paypal button on the Quatrefoil facebook site by testing it out on my class blog. Yippee!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Learning Blog #11 Recap of the Remix of RiP:A Manifesto

I went to a presentation called "CopyRight Mashed-Up and Remixed"--twice! Once at an MLA conference and then again at the Midwest Library Technology Conference. Fortunately the presenters allowed their content to be made available in the Digital Commons, otherwise I would not have been able to remember
1. The presenters names to give them proper credit
2. The name of the sampling artist
3. The name of the film/manifesto
4. much of anything else due to my hastily scrawled notes during the presentation

So for the edification and education of all, here is a link to it:

Copyright Mashed-Up and Remixed by
Jessica McIntyre, Minneapolis Institute of Arts2
Lyndi Finifrock, Bethel University3
Betsy Dadabo, Bethel University4
and http://films.nfb.ca/rip-a-remix-manifesto/

While I am not completely sold on the notion of "sampling is considered an original work", and whether this is "building a new democracy and culture" (13:13). I'm dismayed by the notion that there are no more original thoughts left unless we sample something that has already been created. They haven't been hanging out with any imaginative 9 year-olds lately. The stories and art and songs my kid comes up with--it gives me hope that creativity isn't dead.

I was struck by the disparity between Fair Use of print sources and Fair Use of video/moving images/music. Let an essayist quote and cite an article from another author--that is covered by Fair Use. But let an artist "quote" a few notes of a song, or a few frames of video that is grounds for a federal lawsuit (2:37).

And by how 2 conglomerates RIAA and MPAA have such a lock on our popular culture. When there was not as much money to be made, did artists/publishers mind so much if another artist copied their song?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Learning Blog #10 Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Libraries. Struggle.Reinvent. Digital. Age.
This was the week for Libraries in the news. I heard a snippet of radio interview with Zittrain, and now this article.  

 "In other cases, such as the new Jonathan Franzen bestseller "Freedom," the book is available to consumers as an e-book, but the publisher does not offer electronic versions to libraries. The book's publisher, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux., declined to comment on whether piracy concerns affected its decision to hold the digital version of "Freedom" out of libraries."

The publisher does not offer electronic versions. Lame. Is there any provision for offering it as service to sight impaired viewers. Will the publishers sue for running it under a magnifying glass or Kurzweil machine? Sounds like a job for an activist librarian.

"If you want to have game rooms and ping pong tables and God knows what — poker parties — fine, do it, but don't pretend it has anything to do with libraries," said Michael Gorman, a former president of the American Library Assn. "The argument that all these young people would turn up to play video games and think, 'Oh by the way, I must borrow that book by Dostoyevsky' — it seems ludicrous to me." Snark! true but I don't think that is the point, to lure them in with wii and have them leave with Dostoyevsky. You have video games in the library to give kids a place to go besides the streets, or an empty house. While the they there, maybe they will pick up a guide on how to play video games, or computer programming, or graphic design, or socialize, learn something about games and chance. Gorman's argument leaves out a big reason people go to the library, for the social connections. Sometimes it is not about the Dostoyevsky.

My aha moment came at the last Quatrefoil Board meeting, when the Membership Assessment Task Force presented their report. We send out a survey to our members as well as 100 former members to ask what was important to them. Why they renewed or did not renew their membership, how often they visited. Over 200 people responded and gave very thoughtful answers. The number one reason people gave for joining was "to support the library"--not because of our collections, or building, or hours, but just becuase we are a "good idea". Wow. It made me rethink the conclusion of my paper regarding "Building a better website for Quatrefoil". Perhaps the focus should be on the social networking side, and less on building the perfect OPAC.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Learning Blog #9 You Can't Always Get What You Want

So I spend the past few weeks, writing and researching about OPAC's That Suck, learning about what makes an OPAC unsuck, and trying to think of a dream OPAC for Quatrefoil Library. I read about NextGeneration catalogs, installed Wordpress and tried out widgets. I downloaded koha, openILS, VuFind, and blacklight. I tried to translate my rudimentary perl scripting skills to Ruby on Rails (Rosetta Stone For Scripting Languages). All this was a fun exercise, but dang it I have a paper to write and a portal to do.

And Quatrefoil can't wait for me to finish geeking out over the latest Library2.0 tools. We need a new ILS system like yesterday. Our current software is unsupported, if it goes down we have no tech support, no nothing. While Athena has an adequate cataloging system, really that is all it has going for it. No circulation system, no inventory, no label printing, no serials module, no acquisitions module, no OPAC.

Our options seemed limited to high dollar-locked into vendor control Big Names (Sirsi-Dynix, Innovative Interfaces) or "free" open-source---which really is not free as in no cost. We would still need to invest in new hardware, have someone on call when something went wrong. With no paid staff, and 3 volunteers on the Tech Committee, it is all we can do to keep our 3 public computers and our wifi functioning.

Luckily we did find something  "in-between": a library automation system called LibraryWorld.com. It is hosted on their servers, accessed over the web, and has a yearly subscription fee of $395. It is made for small libraries, has a circ & inventory system. We give up much control in how the systems looks and functions. (You're calling the Location Code a "Branch"--srsly?!") The OPAC is fugly, but it seems to return more relevant results than our old catalog. Ranking! Yay!

With the way "everything" is changing, I am comfortable knowing that something better will replace this soon, but we got what we needed. And I'll keep improving my tech skills.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Learning Blog #8 Because it's Cool! Newton to Visor to iPod Touch

I've been an Apple fanboy since the wayback, so whenever Jobs is mentioned in a presentation, it is going to get my attention. Steve Jobs may not be the greatest engineer, or programmer, but his company sure makes some COOL stuff. And Like Mr. Merholz, the highest compliment for me is when someone gives a "wow" to something I have created. (though my design skills are still stuck in the WordStar era.)

I went to a "Library Branding" keynote at some conference or another. The speaker was trying to pitch the idea that "marketing and advertising" should not be a dirty word in the library world. Again the speaker was talking about The Experience being the key thing. "It is not what you say about the library, but what your patrons are saying about the library." The users experience and emotions associated with the library will compete (drown out?) whatever message you are trying to put across. Perception is everything.

So you have your prototype Library Block of Wood---how are all of these things "Room for collaboration, quiet study space, the newest books, the rarest materials, change change change, stay the same." supposed to fit?

I think I missed something in the second assigned presentation: a vocal track? I got the gist of the Designing the Mobile User Experience: our users are on the go. Okay got it.

My AHA moment: Data Visualization & Processing.org
I went back to the Adaptive Path website and spent many many hours there. I stumbled across a presentation, Ben Fry UX on data visualization. What he was lacking in presentation skills he more than made up for in the WOW, cool! factor Art and science shouldn't be separated. Most of us are familar with Excel graphs and charts. Graphic represenation of dozens or hundreds of data points. Ben Fry is doing this with millions of data points. Using color and shapes and animations. I started googling around for more a found many more on TED Allospere. I may have found my new hobby for when I am done with library school. I'll need to learn both math skills and design skills! But math and numbers represented in sight and color and sound and 3 dimensions. Wow. Just. Wow.