Friday, April 25, 2008

Thing 16: Wikis

Like most people, I had never noticed the "Discussion and History" tabs at the top of each Wikipedia article. Using these tabs allowed me to figure out the exact date that I corrected an article on Wikipedia. You heard me right--I got to fix something on this oft maligned Web resource, specifically the caption to a picture provided in an article on the Akonting Lute.

The Akonting Lute is the African predecessor to the banjo (most people don't know that the banjo itself is an African American instrument). I was thrilled that Wikipedia had an article on this topic, as it has only recently attracted much scholarly attention. However, the caption to the picture of a man holding this instrument was incorrect, so I fixed it. Unfortunately, after a few weeks, I forgot what was wrong with the caption on the first place. Clicking on the "History" tab let me find when I changed this caption and also allowed me to view the caption before I changed it:

"00:43, 30 December 2007 (Talk) (12,506 bytes) (I changed the wording for the picture--the caption incorrectly stated that banjo players pick with the middle finger.)"

Unlike many of my colleagues, I'm a big fan of Wikipedia, as I think it represents our "collective knowledge". The "Discussion and History" features of Wikipedia allow all to view our "collective thought process".

Thing 15: Library 2.0 and Web 2.0

Library 2.0 ideas seem to be very attractive to our teenagers. Take social networking sites, for example. Reposted surveys not withstanding, the "bulletin" feature on MySpace is a great way of letting customers know about potential programs. In a follow up survey to the "What was it like to be a gay teen back in the day" program in early April, when asked how they heard about the program, the second most common answer attendees gave was "MySpace".

As far as how Library 2.0 will impact regular library services, I'm looking forward to the day when users can perform a federated search of not only our books, but also relevant articles in our databases. I think that many customers would also enjoy adding their own book reviews to our online public catalog.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thing 14: Technorati

If someone says something in a blog and nobody reads it, does it make a sound/impression/difference? Thanks to Technorati, the chances of things going unheard in the blogosphere grow smaller.

But to what end? After browsing through the most popular listings on Technorati, I'm skeptical of so many blogs/voices echoing through the ether of the that many people have truly informed opinions?

That being said, Technorati did bring me to the Huffington Post, a political blog that lists port. I also registered my own blog in order to index my musings.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thing 13:

I took Jill Ingraham's fabulous class on the social bookmarking tool "" last fall, and have enjoyed the ability to add to and pull up my favorite Web sites using any computer. Please, feel free to browse through my tags and request to be networked to me:

What I learned today is that I tag items differently than others do. For example, I've been tagging two-word combinations with a dash (bush-administration), whereas others tag two-word combinations with an underscore in between the words (bush_administration). This highlights the potential problem of the "uncontrolled vocabulary" of tagging, does it not? Of course, this is only a problem if we solely rely on user-defined tags to catalog items, hmmm? Any thoughts on this?

Much like "Library Thing" lets me browse the selections of people who have similar tastes to me, "" will be very useful to me in finding Web sites of interest.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thing 12, part two: WorldCat

I was introduced to WorldCat by a library science classmate who works for Palinet in Philadelphia and have used it to see how other libraries catalog their non-fiction Graphic Novels. Currently, the Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal Cataloging book recommend that all graphic novels go in the 741.5's, where we put items related to drawing. I'm really unhappy with this suggestion, as it puts Graphic Novels with serious content (like Art Spiegelman's Maus, which deals with the Holocaust) in the same section as Garfield.

When browsing WorldCat today, I looked up Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde, which is a richly detailed look at the civil war in former Yugoslavia, based on the first hand accounts of the people Sacco met during his two years in the small city of Gorazde. I was happy to see that not only was OCL's copy listed on WorldCat, but that the library of Ocean County College also had a copy, as well as the libraries of Burlington and Monmouth county. Only a few of the libraries were willing to loan out their copies, however. These were the only libraries that let me see the call number of the book, and I was thrilled to see that most of these libraries had this item cataloged in history--the 949's.

I liked looking at the details provided under the other tabs, especially how I was invited to "be the first person to add notes for this item". The possibility of adding this to my "" social bookmarks was also handy. However, I'm unlikely to use WorldCat to fill out those ILL forms (and trust me, we fill out plenty of those forms here in Lacey). Although WorldCat gives me the title, author and ISBN number, finding the price of the item takes at least one more "click", wheras gives me the same information AND includes the price of the item, all on the same page.

Thing 12: NetLibrary

Although I think I'll always prefer curling up with a book to reading one on a computer screen (even if Amazon's e-book reader, Kindle, is small enough to take to bed), its nice to know how to access the materials in our collection that are only available electronically.

It took me some time to get used to reading the e-books--embarassingly, it took me several minutes to figure out how to turn the page...the "Previous" and "Next" buttons at the top of the screen.

As for the book I chose to explore, working with the public makes me think about how vulnerable we are to germs, so I was interested in Infection Protection: How to Fight the Germs that Make You Sick. Click on the picture at the top of this post to get a closer look at why eating at home is probably safer than eating in a restaurant (my grandmother was right!).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thing 11: Library Thing

Library Thing's feature which lists the number of people who share my taste in an item is interesting, although the numbers are all relative. At first I was excited that so many people (249) also enjoyed Joe Sacco's Safe Area Gorazde. Then I put in my entry for One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and saw that over 11,000 people have marked that as a favorite.

I am looking forward to nosing around the libraries of people who have similar books.

Thing 10: Technology Blogging--RFID

Although the Ocean County Library has not yet adopted RFID technology, some of you may be familiar with this because your credit cards or passport have been embedded with an RFID chip. If you can make a purchase by simply waving your card over a designated spot, you are experiencing the benefits of RFID technology.

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID chips are encoded with information which is then transformed into radio waves that are captured by an RFID reader. Some RFID chips can be read from several yards away, others must be in closer proximity to the RFID reader. RFID tags can be put into just about anything--library materials, pets and even people.

What makes RFID technology any different than the barcodes and barcode readers that we already use here in the library? The RFID readers can access the information encoded on the RFID chips without anyone having to open the books. More importantly, the RFID readers can read an entire stack of books all at once. Locating a particular item on the shelf could be as simple as simply holding the wand-shaped RFID reader along the books while walking through the stacks.

How will RFID technology affect us here in Ocean County? First of all, there has been some discussion lately as to whether or not the personal information encoded on the RFID chips in your credit cards or passports can be hacked by anyone on the street with an RFID reader. Never fear, a simple layer of aluminum foil can protect the electronically encoded personal information that you carry in your wallet--or perhaps you'd like to craft your own RFID blocking duct tape wallet .

As for what may happen when if/when the library decides to adopt this technology, is it a reasonable assumption that fewer circulation staff will be needed? For example, if an RFID reader was placed in the book drop, that would mean that books would be checked in as they were placed into the drop, precluding the need for circulation staff to check them in before returning them to the shelves. Self checkout for customers would be much easier and faster when customers can check out an entire stack of books at once. A more thorough examination of the implications of RFID technology and libraries can be found in Lori Bowen Ayre's 2004 position paper for the Galecia group.

What about the privacy of our customers? The RFID chips are continuously emiting information--would it be possible for hackers to examine the reading habits of library patrons by simply hanging around outside and pointing the RFID reader at people exiting the library?

I look forward to reading other's postings on technology.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thing 9: Finding Feeds

Google Reader makes it really easy to find RSS feeds--I just clicked on "Add subscription" on the left and typed in keywords for the types of things I wanted. Not only was I able to subscribe to hooping and poi sites, but I was also able to find librarian blogs, including Tyler's.

Google Reader also listed the dates of posts to these blogs, so that I could tell if the sites were frequently maintained.

Thing 8: Bloglines vs. Google Reader

Bloglines has a terrible reputation, at least among everyone I asked. I also really didn't like the idea of subscribing to yet another online service--sure, sure, I know I don't have to use it, but I think that this kind of reasoning is contributing to clogging up the Internet with too much traffic. Too much traffic on the Internet means that servers will be using that much more electricity, and that isn't very "green".

Since I already had a Gmail account, it was very easy to subscribe to Google Reader and even easier to subscribe to RSS feeds from my favorite Web sites--Google had already bundled several under "Fun", such as "The Daily Show" and "The Onion".

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thing 6: Super spiffy St. Patrick's display at the Lacey branch

Susan put this fabulous display together in celebration of Irish heritage.