Monday, June 30, 2008

New ARTstor

I am loving the new ARTstor. It no longer opens in a Java client, which means your normal IE browser tools are still available to you. The search is still slow, but I don't think that is avoidable. Saving images in IE is still very quirky. You either can't change the file name from what ARTstor wants to call it, or you have to use Firefox to save images to your computer. You can change the name in IE if you don't mind choosing Image Viewer as the program you want to use each time you want to open the picture (though you lose the metadata). Now that I know this and can help students without telling them they need to go to a non-public computer and download Firefox, I can live with it.

But I am so happy that it no longer hijacks my browser window! Yeah!!! Now if they can go back to making JSTOR work better... it was much better before they tried to make it more like ARTstor.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Big Games, Part Deux

This morning I received a comment from Jenny Levine, who pointed out that I completely missed the link to the audio presentation on big games by Gregory Trefly on the ALA's gaming Web site. Duh. This was so useful, and I'm so glad she pointed this out to me. I have already listened to it (it's about 45 minutes long) and contacted two people about possibly doing one of these on our campus.

If you really can't listen to the whole thing, fast-forward to slide 45 and about 37 minutes into the audio presentation, but the earlier stuff is very helpful background info. This is where it starts to specifically discuss big games in libraries.

Almost all of the big games revolve around four basic games:
  1. tag
  2. scavenger hunt
  3. hide & seek
  4. capture the flag
Libraries are great places because they often have many branches (lots of these games are in NYC), have collections, great spaces, content, unique identifiers (call no.'s & bar codes), referees (librarians/staff), tools (computers, copiers, wi-fi, etc.) and a place to display.

He listed five undeveloped ideas for games that libraries could do:
  1. Secret Agent - based on the scavenger hunt. It involves secret meeting points, and avoiding detection (no running or disturbing people who aren't playing). Collect codes, and set levels so they know how they're doing when they "level up."
  2. Then/Now - this one interests me the most at the moment. In their example, they had old pictures of places around NYC from the library's archives, and the players have to go around and take pictures of how it looks now. I want to do this around campus.
  3. Rent control - the real real estate game. I don't understand this.
  4. Babel code - using the foreign language materials in the library to break codes
  5. Dewey's Demons - finding codes online or in the stacks to create and take care of creatures. I don't understand the details of this either.

To do one of these big games, look around your everyday world. Give normal activities goals, look for simple ways to track moves. Once you have a plan, run a test play (or he called it playtest) several times until it works, because it never works the first time.

This presentation is definitely worth listening to, and I hope we can do the Then/Now thing with freshmen this fall.

Who said nobody cares about books anymore?

My dad says all of these strange tornadoes and floods are God's way of saying He's *&%@ off at what we're doing to the environment. I don't doubt that it's global warming. But here's an encouraging story about the floods in Iowa, or at least the pictures. A very large number of volunteers showed up at the University of Iowa Main Library and formed human chains to get the lower books out of the special collections area of the basement. They were clearly working hard to save the books, and while there was a lot of flood damage to the building, it sounds like very little happened to the books.

So there to anyone who thinks no one cares about books anymore!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Just Married

I wasn't sure if I should write about this in my blog or not, but a grad school friend who reads my blog commented that it was wrong to discuss my cats peeing on the the blog without mentioning I got married on Saturday. The rest of my pictures can be found on my Flickr account, but this is my favorite picture:

Mobilizing Generation 2.0

I just returned the book Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to Using Web 2.0. This would be a great book for non-library people who were new to Web 2.0 or at least skeptical of it, but otherwise is of little use. I went to Amazon to see what other readers thought of it. I think the professional reviews only came straight from the book, so they were overwhelmingly positive, of course. I was surprised to see all three amateur reviewers were overwhelmingly positive, too.
I'm not saying it is bad. It is clearly written and the author's enthusiasm comes through clearly. It's just there was nothing new for me. If you are in libraryland, then I suggest reading Meredith Farkas's book instead. It covers the same material, but makes the library connection clearer. It's also longer, but it does cover more Web 2.0 tools.
I expected much of the book to be old news, but I was hoping to find out more about getting young adults involved... engaged. That will remain a mystery for the time being. I found out about this through a purchase slip, I am glad we didn't bother to purchase it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Clicker Article

I'm going to get back to reading articles on various library issues, and I will share the interesting stuff I get out of them (since that's usually only tidbits anyway). For our instruction meeting today, we had to read "A clicker for your thoughts: Technology for active learning" by Hoffman and Goodwin.

The first half of the article is an overview, but the second half is one of the more interesting articles I have read about clickers with some very practical points. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Test out the clickers on faculty. We have several classes with faculty at the beginning of the year. This serves two purposes, you get to test it on a more patient and smaller audience, plus faculty around here like toys, which turns into an advertisement of why they would want to bring their students into the library.
  • Use the clickers to assess their previous knowledge and past experiences.
  • They can be particularly useful for Freshman Composition. You can use them to ensure students understand basic concepts and services (i.e. review questions after each section), and create a more interactive session.
  • They can be used to start conversations by discussing results of the class poll. Follow the clicker questions up with open-ended questions they can discuss in groups.
  • Use them to ask opinion questions. Everyone likes to make their opinion heard, though they don't necessarily want to raise their hand in front of the class cold turkey.
  • Use "other" as a choice when appropriate. They can then discuss the "others" if many of the students selected that option.
  • It is important to carefully identify the learning objectives first, and carefully craft the clicker questions around those objectives so that the clickers are more than fancy toys.
  • Use the countdown feature of the software to keep students on track and make it more game-like.
  • The authors want to explore using clickers to mimic game shows like Jeopardy and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I'm not sure how this works, perhaps the clickers will let you know who clicked first??? I do Jeopardy fairly often, and determining who came in first is always difficult.
  • You can divide a class into groups, give each group a clicker and a computer. Give the group a problem, then have them answer with the clicker in a reasonable amount of time (using the countdown click if necessary). The software can count how many right answers each team got, so prizes can be awarded at the end. They can follow-up these questions with how they got the right answers and what resources they used/discovered.

We just bought clickers and I haven't used them yet. But I want to use them in a lot of the classes I teach next semester. This article has given me more specific ideas of how to use them effectively.

Reading to Save the World

The Sci-Fi Channel came up with a list of the top 10 books you must read to save the world. The list readers came up with is:
  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert
  4. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  5. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  6. The Stand by Stephen King
  7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  8. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
  9. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  10. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Of these, I have only read 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. I need to get busy on the rest of these futuristic stories.

Another Strange Human Resources Case

I don't know why human resources issues fascinate me so much, but they do. Especially library cases, of course. Modern society builds our lives around work. We choose to move away and live thousands of miles from family because of our job, often in geographic areas we wouldn't normally chose to live in. If we get married, then things become even more complicated as you balance each spouse's job and career with what the other one can do in that area. There is so much sacrifice involved, yet we could lose those jobs for any number of reasons. And losing a job is very, very difficult. A friend of mine lost her job recently, followed by two serious personal crises. So employees rights and what people do that deserves getting them fired fascinates me.

So here is an interesting story of a Michigan library director who allegedly uses a puppet in staff meetings, moves furniture wearing nothing on top but a bra, treating her employees atrociously, not following the city's budget rules, and otherwise acting "irrationally." This stuff seems too strange to make up, and her hr file seems to have been building up over time, not just when she got fired. She claims in her lawsuit that she was wrongly fired for questioning the city's authority over the library.

I keep mentioning these stories as I find them on LISNews, but haven't followed up on them. I don't know if it is just because law suits take so darn long (I'm still waiting for the J.K. Rowling verdict), or because newspapers cover stories when they first break and not when they are resolved... I suppose I need to look at all of the stories I have tagged with "worker's rights" and see if I can find any more information on the older stories I discussed. Of course, I will keep you updated on anything I dig up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cat Update

I got a urine sample from one of my two cats, the one I didn't suspect, and it came back positive for a urinary tract infection.

You know what they say about people who assume... that's really what I feel like since I yelled at the wrong cat and the "guilty" one wasn't being bad. The poor thing has been climbing in my bag, desperately looking for a place to pee that doesn't cause pain.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Advising Freshmen

It's my turn to be involved in advising the incoming freshmen during their summer orientation. I really like meeting the advisees and their parents, and getting to know them. I love being helpful and trying to assure them there are plenty of people here ready to help with most situations. This year, meeting the parents might be fun. Williamsport has had some significant crime in the past year, including a non-student being randomly murdered a block from campus and two students being held up at gunpoint outside of a local pizza parlour. At least I can say that many of the professors live within walking distance to the school, and that I am in the process of buying a house near campus.

Of course I never see or hear from any of my advisees except when they have to, though it seems like they were more willing to come see me at the end of the year. This makes me happy. I have been able to mediate a few problems, including a student who wanted to drop a class she thought she would fail, and she ended up getting a C or C- by the end of the semester. This was just a question of calling the professor and assuring the student she should go see him.

The only part of advising I don't look forward to is the chaos of registering the students for classes. I hope to instill the fear of God in them today that they need to have a schedule picked out and written down in the time table before coming to registration tomorrow morning.

Funny how most of what I try to do is take away their fear, except when it comes to being prepared for registration...

Oh, and I was very excited to see that one of my new advisees is Wiccan. I wonder if I could convince her to come to the library's Harry Potter Night in October.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The little stinker struck again

Okay, I will get back to library stuff soon. However, today's incident is more related to libraries than the first one.

I went to leave this morning and pulled a few things out of my bag, to find that once again my cat had peed on them. Once again, our house purchasing contract was in the bag. There were four or five copies, but somehow I ended up with the original, so I can't get rid of this copy. I'm hoping the bookstore has some plastic sleaves I can put the pages in. I can tape them at the top, and no one ever has to touch it.

On top of that, the pee got all over my wallet, cell phone, lots of disposible odds and ends in my bag, and most importantly, all over a library book I had checked out at the very end of the day yesterday. I put that in a plastic bag and took it to the head of circulation. I'll leave it up to her what to do with it and what to charge for it.

My mom thinks it is time to get rid of the cat. I don't know what is wrong with her. She clearly climbs down into the bag before peeing, she's not just peeing on top of it. This is not a habit of hers, and she wasn't locked out of the bedroom last night. I don't know what she had to be angry about. I can't get rid of her, I have had her for too long, and then again I am only 85% sure which cat it was... I have learned the pattern now, though. Don't leave any bags on the floor, and lock all important papers in rooms they can't go into.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What librarians are all about

It's summer and most of the librarian blogger celebrities have slowed their posts down. Probably a lot of them are off for the summer... oh wouldn't that be nice. Not that I can complain, my boss is being great about all of the personal stuff I have to take care of during work time, and trusts me to make up the hours as needed.

Anyway, I hope you don't mind if I stray from being strictly a professional activities blog. I've stretched a bit in the past to include novels I read that are particularly good, and after all, librarians are all about books, food, and cats. So I have a funny story that relates to what librarians are all about.

My fiance and I are in the process of buying a house that was for sale by owner. But we're trying to figure this process out, and the seller is too. He is very accommodating, but his lawyer isn't. My lawyers are my parents, who aren't licensed to practice in PA but can give me some advice. We gave him a contract last week but his lawyer flipped out, and on closer inspection yesterday, I understood why. I made corrections as far as taking on more responsibility of paying the closing costs, re-printed the contract, and my fiance and I signed the heck out of them. I also printed off a third copy where I highlighted who is responsible for what, and annotated it to help the seller understand the gist of the contract that is 16 pages of legalese. This took me a long time and we don't have good computer access at home, so it meant a 20-mile round trip to print it last night...

... then overnight one of my cats peed on the contracts that were neatly stacked in a Morningstar tote bag by the door. I have had my older cat (the one I suspect) for nearly 6 years and she has only done her business outside of the litter box once before. What are the chances? Fortunately, he's a pet owner, and he laughed when I told him what happened and I was able to get him the better-smelling contracts only an hour after we had originally intended.

If this is only the first disaster of a long process, I'm not sure I can handle the rest! Don't worry, no cats have been harmed as a result of this incident, as tempting as it was.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Libraries a waste of money

Ooooh, here's a great way to get a bunch of people all riled up. Complain that with the Internet, local governments are wasting their money by continuing to support libraries. I feel sorry for people whose "inquisitiveness and reading enjoyment are satisfied online." You obviously can't enjoy reading that much, or be to inquisitive if the questionable content you get online satisfies everything you need, and you must not read fiction.

No one who reads this blog needs my opinion on why libraries are important. I will grant that they're changing and we all need to work hard to keep them relevant in the eyes of at least the enlightened part of our population... and those who can't afford computers and Internet access at home.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I need to complain. I don't know if this is Office 2007 or if the old version did this, too. I received a document through e-mail, opened it directly from the e-mail, made lots of changes to this 17-page document, clicked "Save" before closing, then closed it. Well, since I never clicked "Save As," it saved somewhere in limbo and seems to be permanently lost. Today I went under Recent Documents to try to open it, and it was nowhere to be found. I looked in the Temp folder on my C drive, and there wasn't anything in it. I haven't even turned my computer off since I did this. I know it's ultimately my fault and I should have known better, but I don't understand why it can't bring up the Save As menu when you click Save, just as it would if it was a brand new document.

The document was a contract to buy a house, so I think I made all of the changes again (I fortunately printed a copy yesterday), but I hope nothing got lost in all that legalese. Technology is frustrating when it can't make up for you being distracted.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


I'm catching up on LISNews, which seems to have changed a little, so my RSS feed wasn't being updated. I stumbled on their version of the library worker who lost her job after refusing to work at a Harry Potter event. I've discussed the case before and can't find any new info online. But the comments are fascinating... The comments on LISNews are clearly against her, while comments from non-library-land are overwhelmingly for her.

Some comments refer to Harry Potter as a religion, which seriously bothers me, but that's another issue.

I need to look this up after work today, but I really don't think freedom of religion goes so far as some of these people claim, that a person could demand every Tuesday off, because their devotion to the Flying Spaghetti Monster called Tuesdays the holy day of the week. Can you imagine how much abuse that would get? Colleges usually have a list of days a student can get out of class for religious reasons, and if it's not on that list, it must be approved. I assume, until I learn otherwise, that reasonable accommodations must be made. Whether or not this woman was offered a reasonable accommodation makes all the difference in the world.

I'm really itching to get outraged at this story, but there's just not enough information available!

Big Games

I'm facinated by this idea of "big games" that will happen at ALA Annual, which I am not attending. I'm trying to find out more about this concept and how we could use it to make library instruction and orientations more interesting for students. Gregory Trefry apparently did a presentation on big games in libraries and how call numbers can be used as codes, librarians as referees, and scanners and computers used as tools. Unfortunately, the slides are posted but don't have any helpful information for people who weren't at the presentation. So far, the most useful site has been Come Out & Play. They organize a big festival in NYC, which happens to be this weekend, and many of the activities are outlined in detail on this site. Now if I can just figure out how they relate to libraries and how to make them educational!

We have been contacted by the college's development office to have a small amount of time during their annual retreat to introduce them to aspects of the library we want them to know about. Two of us in the library just met with the director this morning to discuss possibilities. We are thinking about some time of scavenger hunt, but we only have them for 30 minutes, including about 10 minutes in the archives. I believe our theme will be "libraries aren't what they used to be," or something like that. It will focus on the modern library. We're trying to focus on what we think alumni and donors would be interested in, and that is difficult.

I'm going to further explore this idea of big games and see if we can find creative ideas to make this fun and to make other educational events for students fun... fun for us and for them!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Annual Evaluation

I had my meeting with the library director about my annual reflection yesterday and got her summary today. It went well. I was only a little concerned because I have defined my position in a totally different way than what she had in mind when she hired me, but that was a bit inevitable when I swapped archives responsibilities for the Web site last summer. I've gone farther with technology than is required, but she didn't have any complaints and overall I got a very good review.

Things I need to work on include bringing more active learning activities into the classroom, (though that was very difficult to work on this past year when I was teaching way more than anyone expected me to), and formalizing the faculty office visit program. I don't have to do all of the office visits anymore, the librarians are sharing that responsibility, but I will need to organize a meeting each semester and set a goal of how many office visits we'll do. This seems like a good plan. I also have projects to coordinate with the Writing Center. That won't be hard as I get along with the Writing Center director and we have lots of good ideas for projects.

I will also work closely with two biology professors to improve a class we teach for them in the spring. Each librarian that has taught this class has had a terrible experience with it. Furthermore, it's one of our biggest majors, with almost 60 graduates each year, yet this is the only class we have contact with. So it is a strategic move and I believe will give me a chance to do some creative work with integrating instructional technologies into their coursework.

Of course, we'll also be doing LibQUAL next year. I'm not looking forward to that, I was completely unimpressed with the training I went through at the annual meeting last June. They know they monopolize their market, they don't seem to care about the libraries, and they might as well be on Pluto (formerly known as the ninth planet) when it comes to understanding a small library. But it has to be done and while I'm to shy to enjoy doing assessment, I LOVE results (I'm the same way with taking photos).

Those are my big projects and goals for the upcoming year. I hate evaluations since I'm paranoid that people aren't happy with my work but won't tell me, but I know I do a good job and that came out in my review. I am very happy with it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Web 2.0 and College Development

This post contains the conent of a handout we plan to give to the College Development office in a few weeks to help them discover the wonderful tools available to help them with fundraising and alumni relations. I wanted to put this on my blog so that I can give links. I'm so used to providing links, it's hard to create a traditional paper handout, but I want to be able to leave them with something physical in their hands. I have linked to my own accounts where I could to provide better examples (not out of narcissism). So, here goes:

First, what is Web 2.0?

  • Web 2.0 is also known as Social Media
  • Media is no longer just controlled by professional journalists, producers, editors and publishers!
  • Includes: blogs, social networking sites, social bookmarking, photo sharing, podcasts, video sharing, RSS, wikis, and much more!
  • Well-known sites include YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Blogger,, Linkedin, Google Docs, SlideShare, Second Life
  • All of these tools are free or very cheap
  • Allows for mass participation through comments, ratings, tags, and messages. This leads to engaged users!
  • The sky is the limit…

How can these tools be used in college advancement?

  • Use them to engage (recent) alumni… engaged alumni are more likely to donate!
  • Social networking
    • Set up Facebook groups for each graduation class so people can find their friends when they leave
    • Set up virtual “events” such as “Give $10 to Lycoming’s annual fund by midnight on September 10, 2008!”
    • Set up “causes” – everything that happens on Facebook appears on their friends’ blogs. If someone supports Lyco’s cause, their friends will know!
  • Use fundraising “widgets” to show on your Web site and in Facebook how close you are to your goal. See ChipIn for an example of what this looks like.
  • Ask alumni to submit brief videos about their post-Lyco life. You can post these individually or mash them together. You can come up with a more specific or creative prompt to give them if desired.
  • Start an annual campaign blog so people know how the campaign is going… transparency is a big part of Web 2.0.
  • Collect Web addresses for the blogs or homepages of alumni (with their consent, of course) and post them together on the Web for other alumni to find.
  • Miami University of Ohio has created their own version of Facebook where alumni can update their contact information and get in touch with old friends. See me if you want a demonstration, though this would not be an inexpensive option. Still you may see things to incorporate within Facebook.
  • Vassar and some other schools have created community blogs where all alumni can post news.
  • One person suggested to avoid old-school terminology like “Make a gift.” Instead, base wording around supporting the cause. His example was “Vassar fosters some of the world’s best change-makers. Support the next generation. Donate Today.”


  • Blogs – short for “Web log,” this is a Web site with frequently updated content. Each news “story” (whether it’s about current events, what you did on Friday, or career information) is called a “post.” The site is arranged with the most recent post first, with older posts following. Example, Vassar's Mads
  • Social networking sites –these allow social networks to be visible to others. People create profiles, then can ask other people with profiles to become friends. They can send each other messages, share photos, post blog entries, make career connections, and much more, all on these sites. There are specialized sites such as Shelfari that allow for social networking in a particular nitch (in this case, books). Example: MySpace and Facebook
  • Social bookmarking – this is like your favorite Web sites saved in Internet Explorer, but saved on a Web server. You can then “tag” them (label each site link with keywords) and share them with others. Example:
  • Photo sharing – people can then organize their photos, add “tags” to organize their photos, create groups with other users, and can see each other’s photos. Example: Flickr
  • Podcasts – these are audio clips on any given topic. Example: Grammar Girl, where a woman explains different aspects of English grammar in a way people like me can understand.
  • Video sharing – this is pretty self-explanatory. Anyone can create a video and post it for the world to see. Example: YouTube
  • RSS – stands for “really simple syndication.” This is a way for a person to be notified when a site with frequently updated content like a newsletter or blog has something new on it. This is set up on the user’s end through their browser or a site such as Bloglines.
  • Wikis – this is a way for a group of people to create a Web site collaboratively with no Web development knowledge. Example: Wikipedia
  • Tags – many Web 2.0 tools allow the creator to label each post, picture, or Web site link with a keyword that describes its content. This helps the creator keep the content organized, as well as helping the viewers find relevant content.
  • Widgets – this is probably the most difficult term to explain. It is a space on a Web site that brings in information from another site. A Google search bar on a Web site is a widget. It could also be a clock, game, or virtual pet. See Widgetbox for examples.

For more information see:

Blog Directory - Blogged

Monday, June 2, 2008


When libraries center "fun events" that focus on books, like painting clay pots based on a favorite book, do we perpetuate a bad stereotype of being all about "old-fashioned" books? It is important to come up with things students will think is fun, yet also somehow be related to the library. Can we have "fun events" that are more about information than books... and really be fun? What does that look like?

That is a lot of question marks in a single paragraph... that says something.

Fun with copyright

I've been working for several days (minus the days I was sick last week) on trying to help a professor get permission to include some famous paintings in a scholarly journal. The paintings are all available in ARTstor, but they don't have the rights to the images, or even know who does have the rights. I have to say the customer service person was very helpful in providing what information they did have, which included which book the images were scanned from and by what participating library. That only helps so much.
So 6 of the 8 paintings she needs are available through a stock photography company. I'm still gathering information about the publication to get a price quote, but as the journal she is intending to submit to will soon be moving to an open-source Web format, I'm not expecting this to be an affordable option.
I'm struggling to understand how artwork doesn't exactly apply to the same copyright rules as text. These are all very old paintings, as in about five hundred years. It seems that copyright should have expired, but I don't think that's how it works. I'm contacting publishers and museums and stock photography companies... I hope I can be of some help to the professor, but this is certainly an adventure!