Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thing 16: LibraryThing

I have followed the assignment by adding about a dozen books from my collection. I still don't quite get tags, but I went ahead and added some.

(Actually, I may be getting the hang of using tags, after all. But what do I do with fiction? I could use the typical genre categories, but should I add other tags, as well? Should I include other markers? Am I to think of it this way--that I should use any term as a tag that I may want to search under later?)

I think this is going to be a great app for me. I was planning to set up a multimedia database for all my family's books, movies, and music. This seems a lot less time-consuming. However, I wish I could add movies and music. It would be a lot easier to have everything in one database. We do a lot of trading around and we all want to keep track of our stuff.

I am looking forward to adding the rest of my collection and to playing around with the other features. The local looks like a bust, nothing in my area, though the app kindly explains that most users don't include geographic information. But some of the groups look really interesting; I mean, who wouldn't want to check out the Pedant's Corner (tee hee).

Thing 17: LibWorm

My first search used the term "next generation opac" and provided some exciting results. The 7045 results included blog entries, surveys, and even an audio conference on libraries investigating or implementing NGOs. Lots to delve into here!

When I clicked on the "tags" and "subjects" links, I wasn't happy with the results I discovered. The tag cloud contained multiple variations on "books," "libraries," and "web 2.0," and the subjects were all very general. One would think users of a library-related app would avoid using variations on "library" and "librarian." Perhaps greater variation will appear over time.

I did a phrase search for "UT Arlington Library" and got 176845 results, most of which related to other libraries (Arlington Public Library, Arlington Heights Library, etc.). Looking at the first four pages (of 5895), the only relevant hits were old job listings. That was disappointing. I was hoping our university library was more newsworthy than that!

I will definitely play with this some more. At this time, I prefer to subscribe to blogs and news services to get my library news, but maybe this would introduce me to a greater variety of sources. Or it could just drive me nuts. Only time will tell!

Thing 18: Wikis

I've been using a wiki at work since January. Our branch (nine staff members) are ambivalent about using it. We're using UT Arlington's official wiki site, powered by Confluence. It is not nearly user-friendly. It is, however, very useful for collaborating on projects. I look forward to the day when it will be as easy to use as Wetpaint.

I had a great experience with Wetpaint, though I accidentally made "Usability" a subpage of "Cognitive Science." Oops! I can't see how to fix it. You can see my pages at

Wikis appear to have been very useful for creating collaborative works. As they become more powerful and more user-friendly, I believe they will be adopted by more work-spaces and individuals. (See Wiki Patterns for a fantastic example of how a wiki turned into a book, and then grew from it's original content into a truly magnificent site.

Thing 19: Google Docs

I really like Google Docs for creating collaborative documents, as long as you don't much care about formatting them with any depth. I have a few shared spreadsheets that are nice. People can contribute content at any time of day or night. As far as I can see, though these documents and spreadsheets must remain very simple.

For collaborative working, I prefer using a wiki. Google Docs does have it's benefits. At work, we use both a wiki and Google Docs because some people find the wiki more difficult learn. (Well, let's face it, it IS more difficult to learn!) So we currently maintain some types of documents on Google Docs and others on the wiki. We will evaluate again in a few months to see if we should move everything to one or the other.

I appreciate the link to the Official Google Docs Blog. I scanned through it and found some helpful hints. I look forward to exploring it further to discover more tips and techniques for using Google Docs more effectively.

Thing 20: YouTube

YouTube is very relevant to my library branch at the moment, because we are smack-dab in the middle of creating a tour video. Shooting was last week. We have spent a lot of time preparing for it, yet I still expect the production value to be fairly low. I can't imagine how libraries have time for regular shooting, though maybe we are aiming rather high for our first video. (We are getting professional help for the shooting, lighting, audio, and post-production, btw.)

I enjoyed viewing a variety of library-related videos on YouTube. We had come across a few of them while seeking ideas for our video, but I came across a good variety. Production value is all over the map, which I suppose is an indication of the value placed on video by a library's administration.

I believe that videos can be very valuable, not only for marketing, but for training. Showing a student how to use library services and resources has got to be more effective, particularly for visual and kinetic learners.

As bandwidth increases across the general population, I believe libraries will depend more on video (and possibly 3D animation) to communicate with patrons.

Thing 21: Podcasts

At first, I thought I wasn't going to find any library podcasts that work. The first few either went nowhere or timed out. One site required installation of a plugin I didn't want, and the next few had podcasts that were related to subject areas, but not to library issues. Several dropped me into iTunes without directing me to the specific podcast I was seeking. Very disorienting!

Then I hit the Tisch Talks. This podcast series provides a plethora of information about the Tisch Library at Tufts University, including information about the library facilities, services, resources, staff, etc.

Next, I went to Podcast Alley and searched using "library" as my search term. Unfortunately, all the podcasts here appear to require installation of a podcast aggregator, which I didn't want to do, at least at the moment. Maybe later.

Podcasts can definitely play a role in the technology services libraries provide their patrons. They would be particularly helpful for auditory learners. However, I think for most instruction, something visual (video or animation) would be more useful for most learners. If I were looking for help on a library website, I would not look for podcasts, but I would certainly subscribe to a podcast that discusses library topics--particularly if they provide deep and nuanced discussions of current and relevant issues.

Thing 22: Developing your own 23 Things for your library

As far as I know, I'm the only staff member at my library participating this year. However, last summer the library offered staff members an in-person 13 Things program, which I assume was based on the 23 Things concept. I presume the number was truncated to have one Thing per week for 13 weeks.

This summer the program continued, though fewer people participated. I think we need to come up with new tools to showcase; I suppose people believe that once they've attended one class on Twitter, they don't need another.

Though I have previously not participated in planning or instructing for this program, perhaps next year I'll volunteer to introduce my colleagues to a new tool. I intend to keep stretching and keep trying new technologies and see which can be adapted for our purposes.