Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Golf in the Library

There is a lot of talk in libraryland about gaming in the libraries. Libraries (public and academic) are buying Wii's and other game systems, and libraries are developing their own games and hosting big game nights. In fact, there is a National Gaming in Libraries Day on April 18. This falls to me to think about, and as my Flash skills are pretty limited, developing our own games is probably out of the question. But I found a story on the Shifted Librarian (a popular blog among librarians) that a library in Dartmouth held a miniature golf tournament with 274 golfers INSIDE the library! They did this as a fundraiser to help balance severe budget cuts, and they raised over $10,000. I forwarded this to Janet...

Google Gadgets

I have spent a large part of the morning working on a Google gadget for our catalog. I had a really nice response from Priscilla Finley of the University of Las Vegas about how easy they were to create. I went back and cut and pasted the HTML code from our Web site into the editor and got it to look beautiful, but clicking on "Search" makes the words disappear and you just stay where you were. Our code involves some Javascript in the header and I don't know how to add that in. I did add it, but since there's no "head", I think that is the problem.

We have code for a quicksearch box with Reference Universe that does not have that script in the header, I think I'll try to make a gadget for that...

It's been an emotional morning.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Books and Keeping Up

I stumbled on a librarian's blog that was all about what she read for fun. At the beginning of the month, she tallied up her books for 2007 and compared them to the past few years. I strive for a novel a week, but wasn't sure how I did over the entire year. So I tallied them up (I keep a Shefari account and an old-fashioned book journal) and the total was 60 books. So that is 1.15 books per week. I'm currently stuck on the Three Musketeers, which is really good, but really long. I've got about 80 pages of very tiny type to go, then onto the original Sweeney Todd.

It is my Sunday to work today and I'm taking advantage of the quiet to catch up on my listservs. I had about 230 unread messages when I went in since I haven't been keeping up. I was upset to learn that LexisNexis had a roundtable discussion for instruction librarians at ALA Midwinter that I could have gone to. Their sales people have admitted the new interface is a disaster, but I would have liked to get my voice heard. I guess that is my punishment for not keeping up.

I got a book through Interlibrary Loan called "Blogging and RSS: A Librarians Guide." I don't remember why I requested it, it's very basic. I'm still hoping to find something useful in there for promoting my two blogs and RSS feeds, particularly among faculty. I also have a 1-inch pile of stuff to read and pass on that I should probably get done today.

Friday, January 25, 2008


We had two very strange meetings today. In the first, a guy who came to sell us clickers wasn't ready to go until 40 minutes after our scheduled appointment, then things kept not working and he didn't really know that much about the product. He also made us late for lunch, though not as bad as was originally feared.

The second meeting was via WebEx (an online meeting) on a potential new catalog interface. It allows for lots of types of personalization, making book lists, getting access to relevant RSS feeds and other non-library materials, and some other cool stuff. So we're very excited about the catalog interface, but then he spent 45 minutes talking about "scrum". To my limited understanding, this is a software development management theory in which lots of small groups do bits of the development. You can read about it on Wikipedia if you're interested. If so, you're more of a geek than I am. Anyway, after 45 minutes of being scrumed, I think we all felt the need to take a shower, go to confession, and hide our whereabouts from the police.

I spent the last 20 minutes playing with my cyber-pet tiger, who would occasionally roar through nothing I was doing. I guess I could have turned the sound off, but it was a pleasant distraction.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I must sing the praises of iGoogle. How did I not know about this before? You can customize it in endless ways, have all of your RSS feeds in one convenient place, have a cyber pet to keep you company throughout the day, play hangman or Tetris... oh, be still my heart. And it's actually easy to use and is incredibly useful. Since I'm often looking stuff up in the dictionary throughout the day, I added a search box directly to my page. I also have a minimized box that will show me movies playing at local theaters, a to-do list (I am all about those), local weather, and a daily Shakespearian Insult box. And I chose a header that is a dynamic map that shows what part of the world is currently experiencing sunlight.

I don't want to clutter up my main page with my RSS feeds, so I added those to an additional tab. Adding new feeds is very easy. I already added one for our library's blog, even though I'm the one who updates it.

I just contacted our catalog vendor to ask about creating a widget that would search our catalog. We already have a quick search box on our Web site, which by definition is a widget, but I don't know how to get it to iGoogle. I think this isn't an unfair thing to ask a vendor to create.

Oh, technology heaven is here!

Blogging Ideas

My friend in publishing (a.k.a. "the dark side") got me interested in a daily e-newsletter for the publishing industry. There was an interesting article about indie bookstores using blogs as part of their marketing strategy. I looked at the store they mentioned, which can be found here: Books in Northport. There are comments on the entries and her profile has 266 views since last September, so I am thinking she must get a reasonable amount of traffic. I just e-mailed her to ask how she steers her customers to her blog and hope that something in her response (if she responds) can inspire me to find ways to get the students more involved in this blog or the library's blog.

Speaking of Indie Bookstores, I must add a plug for Otto's in the heart of downtown Williamsport. I've been looking for the most recent edition of Sweeney Todd by Oxford Press because it's the first time the original text has been reassembled since its original publication in serial format over 100 years ago. At a mall bookstore in Philly last week, the clerks were annoyed that I was in line for something I couldn't buy there and I left empty-handed. I went to Otto's and three people were busy at different computers until they found what I wanted. I could have ordered it from Amazon, but would have had to pay shipping and it would have taken them longer to deliver it. Nothing beats the personal service at a good indie bookstore, please don't let them go extinct!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This week, I'm trying to become a more technical librarian. Of course, that makes me an imposter because I tend to be very old-fashioned. I'm so excited about the Computers in Libraries conference in a few months, and have been pouring over their most recent magazine issue. There are so many cool things that real tech librarians are doing, though not all of them are really getting any use by students. I want to come up with things students will think is cool and worth visiting our site for. I'm going to add more news items to the library blog and try to get faculty to sign up for the RSS feed... though first I have to explain what RSS is, of course.

My first effort is to re-join the blogosphere and turn what was a very personal blog into something I wouldn't mind students, professors, and other librarians reading. I am starting to sign up for RSS feeds of other librarians' blogs, and some are really good. I just read one that had some facinating entries on technology and librarianship, then she linked to other blogs she had for other specific purposes. She discussed how the Internet is everywhere and nowhere at the same time and couldn't understand how people could live without cable Internet at home. My fiance has dial-up, but I never use it at home. I spend enough time on the computer at work.

Perhaps it is those last two lines that truely show what an imposter I am for wanting to become a tech-ier librarian!