Saturday, May 30, 2009

(A pea in the) podcast?

Find a podcast that I like. Well, that was not too hard to do because CBS interrupted my mornings in January. They decided to take a popular (and profitable) morning talk show off the air to save money, which makes no sense to me. So I headed over to Adam Corolla's podcast website and took a listen to a part of a recent podcast. The format is, of course, looser than the radio show, but it was nice to find out what some frequent guests have been up to in the past few months. Well, CBS' decision has increased the circulation of books on CD for SPL because I am tired of the same old, same old music they play on the radio.

Unlike some members of my household, I am a big fan of what the Irish call "trad" (short for traditional music). I mentioned in my last post that my dad's side is almost completely German. I am sure nobody is surprised to know that my mother's side is almost completely Irish, and Albany has a sizeable Irish-American population. When I was in college, an Irish immigrant and musician, Eamonn McGirr, had his own show on Siena College's radio station, and I loved it. He left his beloved Ireland because he felt his daughter would get better treatment for her cerebral palsy in the US, and it was a joy to listen to him share music and tales of his homeland. I was delighted to find I can listen at my leisure and find some new favorite artists. By the way, Danu will be coming to the Mondavi Center in December. Any other trad fans out there want to go?

Lastly, I listened to Chris Kretz's podcast called "Learning to Speak: Creating a library podcast with a unique voice". He is a librarian at Dowling College who got drawn into podcasting, and he talks about what he has learned in the process. It has made me wonder about the possibility of podcasting Telecuento, Dial A Book, and Dial A Story. Dowling College sits on a former estate of somebody or another (sorry, can't remember who). Since the archivists sometimes get asked questions about the estate, he created a Primary Sources Theater using some of the archival materials in the library to tell stories of what it was like in that time. I think of all the stuff we have in the Sacramento Room and wonder what a similar podcast might be like.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You can't-a-have-a de Mango (for all you Chris Kattan fans)

I have a wonderful pen-pal (or email pal) in Germany, and I have had the luck to meet Peter twice while he was touring around the US with his wife, Nicole. My father's side of the family is almost completely German, and my ancestors came to the US between 1830-1857. Not surprisingly, the language was not passed down to my generation. Peter was kind enough to translate a legend from the Facebook page of Andernach, the hometown of my great-great-grandfather, Phillipus Zerwas, but I thought it would be interesting to learn some German on my own. I liked Mango in that it gave you basic phrases and a lot of repetition that reminded me of my first years of French in middle school. But I found that I am not retaining it without having an opportunity for constant use. I have, for years, wanted to take sign language, especially knowing that my son might have a genetic tendency for a hearing loss (luckily, he doesn't), but without an opportunity to practice my skills constantly, I have put my energies elsewhere.

I took five years of French in school. I got a 97 on the statewide exam (in 1984). But when I was at lunch with John and Chris the other day, I could only make out some words here and there of the conversation of the people speaking French at the next table. The rest of it was bleh blah di bluh bluh....I can read it much better than speak and hear it now that I am so far removed from actively learning it.

So am I going to be fluent in German using Mango? No, but it is a good place to start. You can get a feel for the language and then move on to more intensive instruction.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Youtube part 2

One of the things we are supposed to be talking about regarding Youtube is the possible applications for the library. I think we could take Youtube back to its "how-to" roots and make short videos (maybe longer than 12 seconds, Chris) on how to reserve a computer or how to access one's account and renew a book online....

Someone who works for SPL posted to Twitter recently about the new Melrose Place and how she wants to be left with her memories. I completely understand that as I am incensed that somebody decided to tamper with one of the greatest shows of my childhood: Land of the Lost. While I agree that Will Ferrell is a logical choice, the trailer is completely horrible and stupid. John laughs his butt off every time the commercial comes on and I go into a rant. I'm sorry. The show is pure cheese, and you just can't replicate it. It is just wrong. For those of you who know nothing of the show (like John) or who do remember and want to reminisce, here is the intro:

(unfortunately, the embedding is disabled upon request, so you'll have to click on the link)

What do you think? Did you get your weekly calcium intake just by watching that? I remember my little sister and I glued to the set each week before doing our Saturday chores. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Youtube, Youcylinder, Youcrazy?

Well, I remember Youtube when it was all about "how-to" videos. It was quite helpful then, and now it is more of an entertainment venue. Before I really play around with it, I am going to try to embed a video into this post. If I am successful, great. If not, well, try, try again --until I get so frustrated that I am tempted to throw the computer out the window. So here goes. Regular readers of this blog might remember that my cousin Matt's daughter, Elena, races motorcycles. So here is a promo video she did....all I can say is "wow"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Zoho...who came up with that name?

I am going to attempt to write this in Zoho Writer and then post it to my blog. I think I like Zoho very much, although I would need to really play around with it before feeling comfortable that I can take advantage of all its features. I liked the invoice option and other applications, but, again, how often will I need those since I have (most of) those functions covered in different applications? I can really see the value in this for writing shared reports--like the million (okay, it seemed like a million) papers I had to write in library school. John recently posted that his son, Christopher, was having some issues at school. Chris called John to ask his advice, and John wrote a letter and sent it as an email attachment to Chris. If they had been familiar with Zoho, then they both could view and edit the document to exactly fit the details as Chris understands them, and then Chris could print out the letter, sign it, and send it to the other party in the dispute. The way it happened was fine, but it might have been faster and done with a little more finesse with Zoho. I am definitely going to keep this in mind for future situations.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Web Awards

I have played with Zoho, but I am going to address that in my next post. I am going to skip ahead to Web 2.0. One of the first things I looked at was Urbanspoon. It is a site where folks can post good restaurants in various cities across the nation. Excellent! Although sometimes I want the dependability of a restaurant chain, I, like most people, feel that I might as well have stayed at home if I am going to eat somewhere that has a location in Sacramento. I want to emphasize that last bit because there are some chain restaurants that I patronize every chance I get because they are not in Sacramento. This includes Friendly's Ice Cream, Sonny's BBQ, and Newport Creamery. Since John and I are going to take a mini-trip soon, I looked for some places near where we'll be staying. (In an interesting twist, one restaurant owned by a friend of John's ex caused my ex to get food poisoning about 5 years ago.) After that, I was curious to see what restaurants were on the list for Albany, in case something new and exciting opened up recently. I was dismayed to see a lot of chain restaurants on there....until I saw they have a Carrabba's! I fell in love with Carrabba's when I lived in southwest Florida, and so I will probably have to give up a Friendly's trip to go there. In case anyone is going to Albany, I must recommend a restaurant that is (shockingly) not on the list: El Loco's. Delicious food and great margaritas.

I also looked at mothersclick, which looks very interesting. I have seen many similar sites, but this is nicely organized. The only problem I have is that, as a mom, I just don't have much free time during the day to look at this site. I'd much rather play with my son.

I'm going to play around with some more of these. I know the man who used to own the domain name for Mog, so it was interesting to see that on the list, too.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Say "wiki" 3 times fast and you sound like you need WD-40

First assignment is to explore 3 wikis. I looked at the pathfinder site for St. Joseph County Public Library, and I chose the Finding Birth Families pathfinder because it is a subject near and dear to my family. My eldest nephew, Alex, is adopted, and three of my cousins are adopted. I really like the layout of the page, the variety of information formats, and that I could tell the information was recently updated.

I next looked at the Blogging Libraries wiki. I was hoping to see a listing for the libraries in towns where I have lived (besides Central's), but I didn't. Oh well. I wanted to see what was being done to serve communities that I was well familiar with instead of just picking a random one, but it is still useful.

Then I looked at the Library Success: Best Practices wiki. I am going to have to delve into this deeper. It looks really interesting, and, looking at the wiki user list, I saw some names that I recognize from listservs, journals, or other professional sources. (I was also secretly hoping to see the names of some of my FSU classmates, but I did not recognize any.)

I was trying to think of ways SPL could benefit from a wiki for staff. Splat articles are static but can be taken down and then newer versions put up relatively quickly. I know some of us who would not mind the ability to go in and correct the spelling or grammar on a form or article, though. To my knowledge, sharepoint is the closest thing we have now to a wiki, but, if there is someone who uses it regularly, I don't know about it. Most people view it as one more thing to log into and ignore it unless it is absolutely necessary. If we do start a wiki, it should be somehow prominently featured on splat so it does not get lost in all the other things.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Continued musings....

In Dr. Wendy Schultz's article, she speaks about Library 2.0 being "everywhere, barrier-free, and participatory." She goes on to suggest this model will "collaborate with Amazon; provide digital download of books; create a global, and globally accessible, catalog; invite readers to tag and comment". Hmm, sounds familiar.

I remember a few years back, when Youth Services Librarians were reviewing books and recommending purchase levels, I was assigned a book about Christmas. I personally did not like the message of the book. I felt overall the title had some merit (and it was beautifully illustrated), but I could not decide if it had enough merit for a "third purchase" rating. (For those who are unfamiliar with this process, first purchases were relatively rare and were those "must buy" titles. Second purchases were your average title and, if you had a good budget, you picked up a healthy amount of these. Third purchases were those that were so-so or had limited appeal, and those with small budgets knew to avoid ordering these. Of course, the best fun was presenting a reject (unavailable for purchase) at the monthly meetings. Neva and Rebecca Nadel were really good at skewering these titles, and you could almost hear the gong.)

But I digress. I decided that I would look at Amazon customer reviews of the book because I wanted to know if there were people who were not bothered by the things that bothered me. I found many positive reviews; therefore, I decided to make it a third purchase instead of a reject and let the other YS folks decide for themselves if they wanted it for their branch. When I made my presentation at the monthly meeting and stated what I did not like about it and that I checked Amazon, I got an angry "Oh, so we are letting Amazon and the public choose the titles for us?" from one of my colleagues. I was stunned because librarians are not God (really, we're not) who alone are capable of creating a "Library of Eden", if you will. People have a wide range of information needs, and they are constantly changing with the circumstances of their lives. We need to listen to them to meet their needs, whether it is a book dealing with losing a loved one, how to train a puppy, or videos to learn new things and drown out your noisy neighbors.

Skipping over Library 3.0, (although I like the idea of being "collected" as long as I have a high re-sale value unlike most comic books), I zoomed to Library 4.0 where she talks about a "knowledge spa: meditation, relaxation, immersion in a luxury of ideas and thought". The first thing that came to my mind was does she mean this:
in the movie "Wall-E", humans on the ship no longer do a thing for themselves...everything is automated and instantaneous. Even food comes in milkshake form to expedite assuaging hunger.
But then I re-read it, and I see that she did not mean that at all. Considering that I cannot collect full Social Security benefits, assuming they will still exist, until 2035, I guess I will be around a while to see what the future holds....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Devil is in the details...

It was an interesting start to the day. I swung by Raley's to pick up something for lunch. I settled on a salad and a Diet Pepsi, and the total came to $6.66. Yep, that infamous number from the Bible and the subject of an Iron Maiden song. (Whoo! Maiden!) But I suppose I should not be surprised because I am Rosemary's baby. My mother has the same maiden name as the character in the book, and the movie came out when she was pregnant with me (so now curious folks can figure out how old I am!). She is not a fan of horror flicks anyway, but her friends made sure she did not see the film! This post started out being about wikis and how information can be changed or misleading, such as the character Rosemary was based on my mother. (I know several people who were relegated to wikipedia's sandbox and/or were branded a "vandal".) But then I realized I skipped over Thing 15, so I should not be so wiki about wikis, apparently.

In Rick Anderson's article, the statements "During the print era, if you wanted access to pricey indexes or a collection of scholarly journals, you had no choice but to make a trip to the library. It wasn't a good system, but it worked. Sort of. That is to say, it worked moderately well for those privileged with a good library." most of you know, I grew up in another state capital: Albany, NY. There were plenty of libraries to go to if one was not meeting one's needs. But then I thought about my sister, Carolyn. She currently lives in Podunk, NH. Okay, not really Podunk, but close enough. It has about 2,000 residents, and so you can imagine that the library serving her and her sons is not large nor really convenient for her to patronize. I can't speak to what services they do provide for folks beyond the bricks and mortar stuff, but I hope that it does offer some of the same services SPL does. My eldest nephew will be starting school this fall (yikes!), so he'll need information for school reports soon enough. Michael Stephens wrote that the 2.0 librarian "bases all planning and proposals for services, materials, and outreach on user needs and wants." I know that this has generated a lot of controversy in the past for SPL. Remember everybody all up in arms about SPL buying copies of "Jackass" on DVD?

"What are we, Blockbuster?" "We're a library, not Burger King! Why do we have to get trash instead of good literature just because they want it?"

But that concept is more than buying stuff the public wants. It is finding ways to get information in the hands of users regardless of when or how or even if they think they want it. That's what we all struggle with, isn't it? I don't see that ever going away, no matter how technology evolves.

One statement in that same paragraph jumped out at me: "This librarian does not create policies and procedures that impede users' access to the library". Oh boy! Ladies and gentlemen of SPL, this is something that has been a thorn in the side of many of us. There has been many changes (some work, some not) to the policies and procedures in the past few years. Fine structure, fine threshold, collections procedures, library card applications, borrowing limits.....and each have been hotly debated, whether at an individual level, a branch level, or an institution level. Some folks don't like change because they just don't like change. Some feel it is unfair to the folks who abide by the rules to let others "slide" a bit. Others think that by fixing one thing, you are breaking another. Regardless of the argument, no policy and procedure is going to be perfect, and what works in 2009 might not work in 2019. In the social work world, we say that if we do our jobs right, we put ourselves out of a job. Pretty idealistic, but not a bad thing to strive for. I think good policies and procedures that work right now (and continue to keep them current) are a worthy goal for us to strive for.

More musings in a post to come....

Saturday, May 2, 2009!

I used to think this guy was yummy--until he cheated on his wife with her sister-in-law. That spoiled my digestion. (Back to Tums from an earlier post!) And, what's worse, the team did not make it past the Hurricanes in the playoffs!

I signed up for a account, and I posted some of my favorite bookmarks. I like that I can go somewhere away from home and still have all my sites organized for easy access. Plus it is fun adding tags. Right, John?
I just joined Technorati, but I cannot claim my blog yet because they are busy processing pings. I hate it when that happens! I'll try again later, as the message so politely asks me to do.