Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thing 14: LibraryThing

OH, I LIKE this thing! I have been wanting to try out LibraryThing for a long time, since I first heard about it a year or so ago. Of course, right now, being in the midst of a move very soon, most of my books are packed away, so as I get started, I just entered a few titles that occurred to me off the top of my head. My husband and I actually have a nice library of things we both like to read, both fiction and non-fiction. Funny that most of his books are non-fiction and mine are fiction (a lot is juvenile fiction because that's what I aspire to write myself).

Anyway, here is the chiclet that leads to my catalog. Perhaps in a few months, when we settle into a new house and restock our bookshelves from all of our packing tubs, I can enhance this a lot!

Although I think the library I currently work at is too large to use LibraryThing in a practical manner, what I'd like to see them do is put our professional collection here. Then it would be easy just to browse that specific collection and maybe more of our staff (and other library staff) would make more effective use of the collection. I'll have to see how a suggestion like that would go over--but the data entry time required might make it a no-go (I have no idea how many titles we have in this "special" collection of ours).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thing 13: On-line Productivity Tools

OMG...I love igoogle! I already have several tabs full of widgets. Okay, they are not all productivity oriented, I admit it. But it's just so much fun!

I have to try that countdown widget here too. I do have a personal reason for using that. But the code wouldn't work right on my personal LiveJournal account. It displayed okay but wasn't doing the countdown. I'm not sure if that's an LJ thing or not. so here goes.

Created by OnePlusYou

Okay, folks. The code generated by the widget inserts 2007 as the date in TWO places. You have to change that to make the countdown work. You get to edit code! How's that for fun? Oh wait, I guess if you just change the date to 2009, it must work, or so I've been told in other areas. Of course, that was after I edited the code for the countdown widget, but that's cool.

Been playing with google calendar and might just use that for personal stuff so I can share appointments with my husband while we're separated. He's forever forgetting what hours I work! Now he'll be able to check them for himself if he likes! And this might help us coordinate plans for the move. Less than a month to go for all practical purposes.

For library use, this would be a great thing for our library vacation calendar. We have a low-tech solution with a big calendar posted in our main workroom, but I always forget to check it after I've asked for a day off and hardly ever check it to see who's going to be gone today or this week. If it's not someone in my immediate department I don't always know schedules. This would be an interesting way to let people check any time of the day or night. I suppose work schedules could be posted this way too, in case someone forgets to check the posted paper copies for each week, at least in for our reference folks.

Also been playing with to-do lists. I actually kind of like ta-da. Remember the Milk was doing weird things. I was apparently hitting shortcut keys and the first item I typed in for one list almost immediately disappeared. Took me a while to figure out how to delete items there as I kept thinking that little checkbox was supposed to mean I'd finished the task. I like that you can have separate tasks for work and home and other thing and can move things from one list to another really easily. I have to investigate the sharing aspects of this one yet. I love lists, so hey, these are kind of fun to use. I have an online Franklin Planner that I use but that's just for home and for a while now I've been looking for something that lets me keep a work to-do list. So I'll play with both of these and I have a couple I was using on igoogle too, just to try them out.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thing 12: Social Media Sites

Wow! I could get addicted to a couple of these sites pretty quickly. I've been going back to Mixx for a few days now before I even looked at the others. I didn't much care for Newsvine's layout. I thought the others were more straightforward. I guess I just liked the text links better than the images and little boxes all over Newsvine.

For keeping up with news, these could be interesting possibilities. And it covers so much more than just politics and such. I could see them as being big time-sinks, too.

It would be cool if a library could do this kind of site for their patrons and others who might wander into the mix, but to make it more of a local/community kind of thing. I think the teen crowd would use it a lot, but maybe they would just prefer the wider focus of the bigger sites. There are so many more people there to vote on the popular links. I guess I'm not really feeling the love in our library aside from maybe providing links to the most popular social media sites on our Internet Resources page and seeing how many people that attracts. For personal use, I guess I would have to experiment more with the other three I liked and then choose one. Going to more than one gives more exposure to things, but I just don't have the time!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thing 11: Tagging and

The good news is that we are doing another session of 23 Things on a Stick. I didn't mind not finishing the first time around, but now I can begin again with a bit of a head start. I always wanted to finish all 23 Things anyway. And besides, I like actually spending the time trying these services out more. Still, 23 Things is about introducing us to them, and so it has served and will continue to serve its purpose well. is something I had heard about but never used. I guess I didn't see where it would be especially useful to me, but the ability to find links easily by a keyword is really quite nice. I have not done much with it yet, but searched on some recipe links, put a couple of icons on my toolbar, and added a link. When I got around to checking if the link was actually on other people's list, I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was! I was also able to find one other person's comments about the site I added. So that was kind of cool! I added comments about another link I added, and found out that, although others had that link listed, no one else had commented, so that felt kind of good too!

I would very much like to add my other bookmarks to my del, account, but didn't have a lot of time to work with it as of this posting. Hopefully over time I can do this. I have experienced the loss of a bookmark list in my browser perhaps 2 or 3 times in my life and found it extremely upsetting until I could recreate the bookmarks. But it was time consuming to find sites again and I am sure, even to this day, I have never recovered all the sites I had listed at one time or another. Having this kind of backup is a great idea, plus it can put you in touch with similar links that others already use and you haven't discovered yet. I think it could be an interesting way to search out links of interest.

I also think this could be somewhat useful for research, but one does have to be careful about the authenticity of the information used for such pursuits. And where some schools outlaw using Wikipedia for class research, I can see where one has to really be on one's guard using links shared here as well. Still, it might make it easier to find items on a topic you want to research in this manner. It could save a lot of searching and you can read a link and then decide if it fits your needs before adding it to your own link collection. I like the overall idea behind it and may even use it as part of my reference work at the library! In fact, one of my co-workers asked me the other day if I had sites for beginners learning to make web pages, and I had one to give him that I use, but it was more geared to learn to use html and not for using a web design program that keeps the code in the background for non-techies. In this kind of case, if I had already been using, I should have taken him to that web site and used it to research good sites that others have found before us!

I do think this will be very helpful for some of my personal searches for information as well, so I look forward to learning more about it and really getting into using it. I'm sure I will find more value and ideas about HOW to use it as I go forward.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thing 10: Wikis

While I love Wikipedia for quick information, I can see why some schools ban the use of it for research. I have seen organizations that posted pages, edited their colleagues' posts and information, and got downright misleading to the point where they were banned from posting on Wikipedia at all! Not all the information is scholarly in nature there, and while it's a good start, especially for an introduction to a topic, what I really like is when sources are listed at the end of an article that can lead you to more scholarly research on your own.

In terms of getting people to participate in the sharing of information and knowledge, I think the wiki concept is a great one. But even people that I know have been in technology for a long time and use wikis (myself included) have often never edited anything on one. My experience just adding a quick comment to the 23 Things on a Stick wiki was just such an event for me. However, considering it wasn't unlike editing a blog post and saving or changing a Word document and saving the changes, I think this exercise was a great introduction.

I would love to see a wiki just to post policies and procedures for our library staff. We are undergoing so many changes, and have been doing so for the last year (and more coming into summer and early fall), that it might be an interesting way to keep everyone informed and updated (and involved, too)! And that involvement is what all the Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 hubbub is all about!

Thing 9: Online Collaboration Tools

The online collaboration tools are really quite interesting. I have known about Google Docs for a while now, but have never used it. I am very impressed by the list of tools in Zoho, and plan to try some of them out more thoroughly in the future. The non-profit organization that I do work for does a fair amount of document generation for which there are copious editing passes by up to 4 individuals and this might be something we could use. Right now, we rely on the Tracking Changes feature in Word to keep our various edits separated.

I love that there's a planner component to Zoho as well. I can see uses for that.

In our particular library, I have done some editing on some brochures we use that might have seen benefits from a shared editing environment like this, but for the most part with the work I have done in the last year, I am not getting a lot of ideas on how it might be used in our setting.

The first time around 23 Things, I was not able to edit the Google Docs item, even though I have a gmail account and was logged into it at the time. This time I requested access and did make some changes to the document. It was pretty neat to be able to see all the edits. It was quite entertaining reading the commentary added to the Declaration of Independence and even more fun to try a comment or two myself. Such serious librarians with such delicious senses of humor!

Obviously, for 23 Things, we are doing non-serious editing here, but one of the things I like about Word's "track changes" feature is that I can look at the document with all of the changes incorporated so I can read it without all the markup. Believe me, when the changes to a real document get that busy, it's can be handy to be able to edit it like it was a clean document to begin with. So, this might be a good way to do some editing, but I can see cases where I'd still rather do it the way I've done it in the past. Maybe that is just my lack of experience talking. I also have some questions I'd need to research when it comes to confidential documents and how secure they are when on a public site like Zoho or Google Docs.

Thing 8: Share your creations

I really like the Flicks at Here's the Kaleidoscope Flick with my Flickr pictures of the Red Wing Public Library that I've used in previous posts.

I can see these getting really creative. My husband recently did a slideshow presentation and I think he will really enjoy using some of these resources to post it on the web. I have a niece who is big into scrapbooking who would love the Bling options here. I'm not crazy about flashing things on a web site, so I will spare us all an example.

I would love to see an attractively planned slideshow on our library web site to show what the inside of the library looks like (a sort of virtual tour), or perhaps to feature new books just released on our shelves--whether that be new books that can be requested or our Best-Sellers display that has first-come-first-served (non-requestable) choices.