Monday, December 05, 2005

LIS 753 website links

Here are links to the websites we created in Michael Stephens's LIS 753 Internet Fundamentals class at Dominican University:

Brenda Hristov

Donna Dewar

Jennifer Bunte

Jill Tarnowski

Michael Dubensky

Nancy Weichert

Patricia Conroy

Sunday, December 04, 2005

links for website presentation

Saturday, December 03, 2005

links for podcasting presentation





Bush School Library

Grandview Elementary School Library’s Story Podcasts

Room 208


History According to Bob


Friday, November 04, 2005

coming around to podcasts

If you have read my post about dropping out of the digital age, you know I am a Luddite wannabe. When some new fangled thingy in the technology world debuts, I avoid it for as long as I can. What inevitably happens, however, is that it starts to have some purpose for me. In other words, I need a considerable push.

I viewed podcasts this way, it sounded like the radio to me and I can easily enjoy that in the car or at home at the flick of a switch, why mess with the computer? Until I stumbled onto a certain podcast of interest. I do some ESL programs at my library and stumbled across Breaking News English, a website put up by an ESL teacher in Japan. It features a daily news article with a ready made lesson plan. AND A PODCAST.

I was intrigued and tried to listen to it at home. To do this I had to reconnect the speakers, which had been disconnected because there are not enough outlets on the power strip and I really need the crosscut paper shredder in this age of identity theft. So I got down on my hands and knees to reconnect the speakers. I clicked on the podcast and could hear a faint voice. I fiddled with the knobs on the speakers to no avail, clearly a man was saying something but it wasn't clear what he was saying. I was too tired to go to My Computer to see if there are some audio controls I have thus far been blissfully ignorant of. Easier to try again at work.

At work, I was able to listen, the accent is slightly British but the podcast might be useful in the future. The other hurdle to overcome is that our meeting room has no computer so no way to listen to it there. Hopefully, the push of technology will change that soon.

I don't remember where I saw it but I recently saw a TV segment about podcasts, perhaps something on Channel 11. What was interesting to me was that some families were profiled who are doing podcasts. Now that was interesting. I started to see how it was different from radio, anyone who wants a radio show and can't get one can get a podcast. I started to think of my theater obsessed nieces and nephew and how they could act out plays on podcasts.

I'm coming around, slowly but surely.

dropping out of the digital age

A recent New York Times article, "Parents Fret That Dialing Up Interferes With Growing Up" focuses on the amount of time kids are spending online. It mentions a girl who gets up an hour early to text message friends. I remember myself as a schoolgirl and don't think you could have dragged me out of bed, or paid me, to do the same.

When computers first became commonplace, I learned some basic skills on my own and was able to function. Lately, though, as technology has morphed and grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years, I feel myself slipping.

As a teacher in the early 1990s, I used my Mac to type up tests and quizzes. In 1994, I started a job in legal services, where funding is always an issue, with a DOS computer. I graduated to Windows at some point but when I left the job in October 200o, our office still had no Internet access and, consequently, no e-mail capability. I went to the public library next door to access my e-mail.

When I entered the library world in October 2000, I took a step up technologically. I used Publisher for the first time, pretty much just by messing around with it, so it's not that I'm afraid of new technology. It's more that I have to see the point of it.

I guess my problem is that I am a late adopter, so just when I have become comfortable with something, it has become pretty much obsolete, or at least quaint. At times I resent the computer and have toyed with the idea of just dropping out of the digital age and joining the Lead Pencil Club.

Ref Grunt

Over the past month or so, I have looked at more library blogs than I can name. They link back and forth to each other in an incestuous way and I have taken a few whirlwind tours. My favorite for pure fun is Ref Grunt.

I have been working in adult reference for over 5 years and if ever someone cared to know what it is like to be a reference librarian (which they don't since they already know I sit around and read books all day), I would direct them to this site. It's a blow-by-blow of a typical day at a reference desk. The array of topics that are dealt with is dizzying. The requests for books with half or no titles at all, mangled authors' names, the expectation that we can solve any and all problems and have every title ever printed in our collection.

Ref Grunt also brings up another touchy issue in many libraries, namely computer, copier, and fax stuff. Departments frequently argue about who should be responsible for computer sign up, refilling the printer with paper and toner, helping patrons log on, reduce copies, etc. To be honest, I don't mind doing those tasks. What I mind is that I am then unable to do many of the tasks for which I was hired. There are 4.2 employees in my department and we cover the reference desk at the main library and the circulation/reference/youth services desk at our branch library. The two libraries are open for a total of 107 hours. You do the math.

The scary thing about Ref Grunt is that when I read the first few posts, I was sure it was someone at my library. But it looks like his name is Peter. Well, Peter represents Everyman and Everywoman for reference librarians worldwide.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

about time for .lib

Picking up a strand from my post about gophering making the Internet neat and orderly, I said that nowadays it is more like messy, random. I can't pretend to have good organizational skills and as such I'm sure I would make a poor cataloguer, but the librarian in me thinks that the web is very poorly catalogued. I think added top-level domains (TLDs), would help. For example, it is about time we got some respect with a .lib domain.

The domain name should mean something, should give a clue. It seems to me that the most important aspect of the information on the Internet is the source, and .lib very clearly identifies the source of the information, just as the .edu and .org domains do. I don't see much in the professional journals regarding this issue and I think it's a shame, as I think it would further the profession and bolster our identity.

Wikipedia (which I will try to post on in the future) has a list of the current top-level domains and I was dumbfounded to see .cat is on the list as a sponsored TLD. .cat is a domain name for websites that promote the Catalan language, spoken in the province of Catalunya in Spain. I have a personal interest, as I studied the language while living in Barcelona. Some of those that I studied with had a problem with the Catalan language, they had come to Spain to hone their Spanish and were surprised that some were unwilling to speak Spanish with them. Because Franco had outlawed the language, it is now fiercely protected. I remember seeing "En Català" spray painted on shops that only posted signage in Spanish and corrections to signs with poor Catalan were also spray painted. I guess I needn't worry about the Catalan language anymore, as it is the only language to have its very own sponsored TLD! Visca Catalunya!

But I digress, I had never heard of a sponsored TLD before and wonder if the library world could do something similar. Sponsored means some institution must sponsor it (ALA?) and I suppose therein lies the problem, as this would require some cash, no?

I found a 2001 article on the subject and it confirms that money is part of the problem. In 2000, the Calgary Public Library apparently proposed it (which the article says requires shelling out $50,000, are they really rolling in it in Canada?), see the article here.

Is there any group or anyone actively working on making this happen? If we don't push for it, I don't see it happening. If anyone knows anything about this issue and could enlighten me, please comment, I would appreciate it.

digital divide

When we talk about the digital divide, many people think we are talking about groups of people more likely to have access and people less likely to have access. The federal government has dissected that one in a report that most librarians would find interesting and should take a look at here. But in my experience there is also a digital divide among libraries.

I work in a low income community that makes a pitiful stab at providing Internet access. To serve a population of approximately 85,000, our main library offers only six computers with Internet access and Microsoft OS. There are 2 more computers at our small branch. All of these computers are courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. At the main library, there are an additional six computers reserved for research, with access to our subscription databases and some preselected free websites. We offer no remote access for our databases, partly because it is expensive but also because our patrons would largely be unable to take advantage of remote access. We also suffer a Mac divide and a Linux divide, but those are other issues.

A neighboring suburb, with a population of just over 50,000 people (and a decidedly different socioeconomic status) has 48 computers, 19 laptops connections, and wi-fi access. The paradox is, of course, that libraries in affluent areas where patrons are more likely to have computers and Internet access in the home are more likely to have ample computer workstations, wi-fi access, color printers, etc. available for their patrons to use. In other words, those patrons that need the least from their libraries are offered the most. And those that direly need the basics go begging.

Denise E. Agosto took a look at this issue in an article in Progressive Librarian entitled "The Digital Divide & Public Libraries: a first hand-view." Unfortunately, the article is only available by subscription, see citation here. She agrees with me about the disparity between libraries, asserting that "...the digital divide is more than just a question of fairness or convenience. With respect to public libraries, the digital divide means that the people who most need access are the least likely to be able to get it at their local public library." (p. 26) Of her own public library in an affluent suburb, she states: "There are almost always more public computers available than people who want to use them, partly because there are so many computers, but also because almost every member of the community has computer and Internet access at home. And at work. And at school." (p. 26)

Friday, October 21, 2005

book rescue on Belmont Ave.

I took a look at Clare's posting on her CPL memories and promised to post my own. The Portage-Cragin branch on Belmont near Laramie was, and still is, my home branch, about three blocks away from our house on George St. I was a bookworm from an early age, the kind of kid who liked getting books for Christmas and looked forward to the annual library book sale. I forget how much we paid, perhaps .10 cents a book. One year, I went to the sale with some of my sisters and we bought enough to fill two paper grocery bags. We started to cross Belmont to go home when we heard a fire engine. It was racing down Belmont. Panicked, we ran across to get out of the way but the paper bags gave way and our books scattered all over the street. We didn't dare run into the street to retrieve them, paralyzed with fear we could only look on forlornly as the fire engine bore down on our books. It seemed they would meet a bad end when, suddenly, out of nowhere, a woman appeared. She must have been shopping at the Jewel, which is across the street from the library. She went into the street and, working quickly, picked up all the books and threw them into a shopping cart. She returned them to us and, just as quickly as she had come on the scene, disappeared, our hero.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

blogging play-by-play

Getting in under the wire with my weekly blog posting. Procrastination is one of my weak points and I am finding blogging to be no exception, I never get around to writing letters or sending cards either. This week though I have had some welcome diversions as an excuse. Namely, the pennant push by the Sox and the ILA Conference in Peoria.

Having just watched Game 4 of the ALCS, we'll start there. My awareness of blogging prior to this class was practically nil. The pennant push led to my most exciting blogging discovery to date. Stuck at work on one of the nights the Sox were playing the other Sox, I looked around on the computer to see how I could watch it, since I don't usually follow sports through the computer. I was chagrined to find I couldn't watch it or listen to it on the radio through the computer unless I was willing to shell out a few bucks. I settled for the Yahoo Sports version with the page automatically refreshing every 30 seconds. I also found MLB GameChannel which has a graphic of a baseball diamond that updates when something changes but couldn't get it to load.

After the game I was curious to see how quickly the local papers would put up articles about the game and discovered that the Chicago Tribune had Rahula Strohl, a guy in a cubicle stuck at work like me, watching the game and blogging a play-by-play. Hilarious comments came from all over the country, a certain Bartman was commenting quite frequently but didn't seem to be in the Sox corner. The play-by-play was excellent but the bonus was the commentary on the commentary, I always find the sportscasters to be somewhat inane and Strohl and the commenters showed them no mercy. I attempted to post a comment but the board closed before I could get mine up. To see Strohl's blog on tonight's game, click on the Game 4 link in the previous paragraph.

I would never have guessed a blog would be used in that way but, if you read the comments, you see it really worked, it seemed as though all the people following the blog were watching the game together, interacting about plays that had just happened. People are coming up with all sorts of blogging applications and I think we have really only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Okay, now on to library stuff. I had said I wanted to go to Peoria but was regretting the decision on the drive down there very early, say 5:45 a.m. early, on Thursday morning after I had stayed up to watch the Pierzynski controversy game. My library could only afford one night at a hotel so I had to make the most of it and get there at 9:00 a.m. I consider the hotel a step up, since at my previous job as a legal aid counselor whoever had a free place to stay in the conference city got to attend the conference.

I attended some very good sessions. None of them were specifically on technology, though some were offered I had to attend what I thought would be most helpful for me in my position at my library. There was a very interesting session, however, by some foreign librarians who are at the Mortenson Center at the U of I. Presentations were given on customer service innovations in seven foreign countries. A Japanese librarian spoke about patrons using their cell phones to access the library's catalog and said that they see patrons walking along the stacks with their cell phones looking for the books they have pulled up on them. She gave statistics about the prevalence of cell phones capable of accessing the computer in different countries and Japan was ahead of us but I definitely think that younger patrons especially will start to use the library in this way.