Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Last post for Learning 2.0! Whoo-hoo!
After all this time, I have to say I'm still bitter about this program being made mandatory, although I've since discovered that this edict was just for Freedom Regional, not all of PLCMC. (Although I think a lot of other branch managers made the same call.) Grumblings about mandatory-ness aside though, I have to say I have enjoyed myself. A lot of the things on the list were things I'd already messed around with on my own, which made me feel very tech-savvy. (The things I hadn't played around with already were generally things I wasn't terribly interested in...but considering how much I play around on-line, that's not all that surprising.) I suppose my main gripe is that, with the pressure on to finish the list, I didn't feel like I got to play as much as I wanted to - with a few of my entries, I just sort of copped out and knocked out a post based on what I'd managed to discover in 15 minutes or less. In some cases, like with Netlibrary, Librarything and Bloglines, I just went with what I already knew from past experience and didn't bother to try to dig deeper to discover anything new. Ah, the mandatory rule is still my main complaint, I guess. If another program like this were to come along, though, I'd do it, mandatory or no.

So, that's that for Learning 2.0 - wonder what the MP3 player will look like? (Here's hoping PLCMC spends more than $10 apeice on them...I already have a crappy MP3 player that doesn't even hold a full CD's worth of music, thanks!)
Can you tell I'm rushing to rock out the rest of this list in one sitting? (Gotta get it done by the 6th! And I'm going to be busy tomorrow!)
So, you'd think someone who doesn't like podcasts would also not be terribly fond of audiobooks...but of course, my brain doesn't work like that. Granted, I only listen to audiobooks when I 'm in the car, or when I'm working on something at the computer, but I do enjoy them. (Not as much as regular books...but there are few joys in my life equal to reading a good book!) Anyway, in the interest of saving time, I'm going to slightly cop out on this one and say that I've already listened to Anne McCaffrey's Changelings. (Do any other fans out there think Anne's writing style is getting odder as she grows older?) The audiobooks from this site play nicely on Media Player Classic, (most things do if you have the right codecs), and even though the story was a bit odd, (the selkie kids and their ocean pals were a bit hokey, even for a sci-fi/fantasy girl like me!), it was fun to listen to it while I did other things.
Interesting note - my old NetLibrary account disappeared! I tried to log in again, just for the sake of this exercise, and it no longer recognized my username, password, or e-mail account. (And I used my library e-mail, so I know it's still active...) How odd...maybe it has something to do with the fact that I've had to replace my library card since then? Definitely worth looking into...although it's not like it was hard to create a new account...
Confession time - I'm not a huge fan of podcasts, and I've been skipping the ones posted in the Learning 2.0 blog. Unlike all the other stuff from this list that's turned me off, I don't really have a reason why podcasts bug me...normally this sort of thing would be right up my alley. Still, I'm too close to getting that MP3 player to give up now, so let's do this.
I found a few library-related podcasts to listen to by browsing around the directories. My top three are, in no particular order: Open Stacks, LibVibe, and Library Lady Audiobooks. (The last one is just a lady named Annie reading chapters of different books - sort of like an audiobook's still kind of library-ish.) Confession #2 here - I didn't feel like downloading anything special to play these, nor did I feel like messing around with new codecs for my MP Classic to get it to play them, so I just added them all to my bloglines account and listened to snippets of them from there. But hey! That takes care of the adding an RSS feed to my bloglines account bit, so ta-da! (Will I ever listen to them again? Maybe if I'm really bored...actually, no, probably not.) As for finding anything useful...well...that's a tough one for me. (Have I mentioned I don't like podcasts? Makes it tough to come up with good ideas on how to use them...) I guess they can be used for those who learn beter if they can listen to instructions rather than read them...people seem to like them on the Learning 2.0 blog...meh, they're neat if you like them, they're annoying if you don't, and I don't. On to the next exercise.
It's Fall Fest y'all!

How could I pass up a chance to show off a time-honored tradition from Salem College? Every year for a campus celebration called Fall Fest, the juniors and seniors grab their favorite noisemakers and go through the dorms waking everyone up. In this clip, a bunch of brand-new freshmen are waiting around to see what's going to happen...and then end up scattering when the wake-up team hits the scene. (The first Fall Fest wake-up can be a little scary, actually)
Anyway, I've been in love with YouTube for a long time - it's one of those sites that just has something for everyone. Of course, as with pictures, you do have to be careful about what you post - putting up a video of someone without their consent is a huge no-no on the internet. I could definitely see this being put to use in the library - how neat would it be to have a live, walking tour of some of our branches up here? (As an aside...doing a search for PLCMC brings up some odd things...anyone ever heard of the PLCMC band?)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I took this exercise an an opportunity to mess around with Facebook like I've been wanting to. I already have a Livejournal account, a MySpace account, a Care2 account, a bloglines account, and this blog, so setting up an account with yet another social networking site seemed a bit silly...but I wanted an excuse to do it anyway!
As far as social networking goes, I can definitely see why FB came in first! Whereas livejournal and MySpace can end up dedicated to memes and community drama, FB seems like more of a grown-up site. No sparkly page lay-outs, no "My 100 favoritest things ever!" quizzes - just straight out contact information and facts about the user. (Though you can customize parts of your profile with shiny bits of code to personalize it.) I have to admit that I was a little taken aback by how much contact information you can make available to the public - take that with the fact that you can also use FB as something of a matchmaking service, and this is definitely not a site teens should be allowed to use unsupervised. Of course, there is always the option to keep things like phone number, addresses, and various chat client names hidden from everyone but your friends...but teens are not famous for being very discriminating about who they make friends with online. (Check out a few MySpace accounts from the friends list for the Loft's MySpace page - a lot of these kids have upwards of 200 random users listed as "friends" in their accounts...heck, the loft itself has over 400 friends!) Still, before I bash this site too much for its potential creepiness factor, I should check if there are any age-based restrictions in place - it could be that I only have the option to toss all of my personal info out on the web because I'm supposed to be old enough to know better.
The possibilities for library use are endless - the potential networking among staff and patrons, the ways libraries could use the "notes" options, the professional yet personalized feel of the site overall - these all fit the feel of a library much better than Livejournal or MySpace. I could see it being used for book clubs, book reviews, public opinion polls/discussions, ways of sharing information in the system or out of the system with other libraries...and, of course, as a way to give librarians and libraries a more personal feel for those who like meeting folks online.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Messing about with Zoho Writer


Yay for tic tac toe!

Obviously, I was taking this exercise very seriously. But, really - what better way to play around with a multi-user word processor than to actually play?
This is a pretty nifty little site, and I can see a million uses for library users - no more worrying about whether the version of windows installed on the home computer is compatible with the one on the library computers! (And don't even get me started about floppy disks - this is a much better way to save files!)
Two big gripes, though:
1. It's a bit buggy. Me being me, I had to play around with all of the different functions, and some of them either just plain didn't work, or didn't work the way they were supposed to. Fonts didn't always change correctly, (or at all), resizing sometimes caused my text to either disappear or become strangely formatted, and the tables are a bit tricky to deal with. (Occasionally, a cell would randomly delete, or I wouldn't be able to enter any text into it...hmm...)
2. It doesn't post well to blogs - which is supposed to be one of its big features. First, it refused to acknowledge my blogger account. To get it here, I sent it to my livejournal account, then copied the html and pasted it here...except the images I was using instead of Xs and Os wouldn't load, and I got their text equivalents. Also, for some reason, copying and pasting the text from livejournal tweaked the table settings so that the text/characters in each box were no longer centered. I have a basic grasp of html, so I tweaked things here and there until I got it to look roughly the way I wanted it to...but it's not quite as convenient as it's made out to be. (Imagine if I was trying to post an elaborate spreadsheet instead of a tic-tac-toe game!)

Overall rating: needs work, but it's a good idea, and I'm looking forward to messing with it and seeing how it improves in the future.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Well, it's definitely a wiki.
I don't really know what to say about the PLCMC Learning 2.0 wiki that I haven't already said in my last post. (Yay for being repetitive! Except not!) I added my blog to the Favorite Blogs list, and I put in a quick plug for Cape Cod on the Favorite Vacation Spots page, but that's about it.
Eh, don't mind me, I'm cranky today - my back and shoulders hurt, and yesterday was my three-year anniversary with my sweetie and we didn't get to do anything. (His back hurt, my back hurt, and we're both broke. Ah, youth.) Plus, I have to:
-Make up a poster or something to get people to join the PLCMC Race for the Cure team
-Type up the (VERY late!!!) minutes for the Holds Expired team
-Rock out the October edition of the Freedom Flyer
-Bake a few batches of dessert-type stuff for the party Wednesday
-Look into taking the GRE in a bit more detail and sign up for a session
-Look into orthodontists so I can do something about this retainer
-Get around to writing my review for The Good Fairies of New York, which I have had checked out forever
-And maybe, just maybe, get back on track with Learning 2.0?
There's probably more that I'm forgetting, too. Oh...and I should call my dad before he starts thinking I'm dead in a ditch somewhere. And I need to e-mail Kevin and Robert, and I need to finish uploading the Hawaii pics to Flickr, (haven't done that YET!), and I need to get the apartment ready for the hoards of Ren-Fair goers heading my way and, and and...
and I need to stop, is what I need to do.:P

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ah, wikis.
In my experience, wikis tend to either go really well, and produce amazing results, or else they go very badly, and result in hurt feelings and flame wars. Or else, as is the case with the few I've set up with my on-line friends, they go well for a few weeks, and then everyone gets bored with them and moves on to something else.
To be honest, I'm not quite sure how a wiki would work within a library in general. A lot of the wikis linked to on the Learning 2.0 blog certainly look interesting...but they don't seem to get a lot of traffic. I love the idea behind the "Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki"...but again, I can't help but notice that it's nowhere near as active as, say, the plain old forums over at LIS news. The main problem I have with wikis is that they don't work unless everyone pitches in and plays nice - and how often does that happen on the internet? As has been demonstarted with Learning 2.0, it can be hard to get everyone to work together on the same thing unless you make them, and when you make them, you're going to end up with a few participants who are...less than enthusiatic about the whole thing. Which, with wikis in particular, leads to junk postings, people deleting other entries accidentally or out of spite, and plenty of infighting. Of course, you can always create resrictions on who can post, what can be posted, and who can edit or remove other participants' entries, and you can have a group of users go through the entries from time to time and remove entries and/or participants who don't follow the rules. But...if you're going to do that, why not just set up a forum and be done with it?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oh no, the dreaded "read this and write out your thoughts on it" assignment. (Flashback to highschool)
Ah well. I thought Rick Anderson made some good points in his Away from the "Icebergs" piece. I think one of the hardest things for me...and any bibliophile to accept, is that digital resources are slowly growing in popularity over print materials. (Not that I'm entirely against the idea - the reader in me is already thrilled at the thought of someday being able to download any book, any time, anywhere!) As Anderson says, though, this doesn't have to mean disaster for libraries - it just means change.
I also agree that libraries need to get out of the "come to us" mindset. I think that PLCMC has already started doing this, with our on-line audiobooks, library MySpace accounts, and websites like Reader's Club. Of course, we can take it even further - I'd like to see PLCMC get more involved with e-books, MP3s, and digital news sources.
A point Anderson makes that I somewhat disagree with, though, is the reliance on user education. Yes, it would be wonderful if we could remove the barriers between people and the information they want to access, but those of us here in the trenches every day know that it's not so easy. No matter how user-friendly you make a site, you're always going to end up with a patron sitting at the computer saying "This screen says 'hit Enter,' and there's a diagram of the keyboard with the Enter key circled in red. What does that mean?" For every new piece of technology that comes out, there are thousands of people who need all the help they can get in understanding it, and I think the library is a wonderful place for those people to come. After all, what are we here for, if not to be a source of information? I would like to see more technology classes - maybe even classes geared towards adults on how to use basic library equipment. (I know we have some patrons here who would sign up!) I would also like to see better staffing solutions. At the beginning of this paragraph, Anderson says that libraries are "poorly equipped and insufficiently staffed for teaching." - I think that's the real iceberg. If the patron-to-librarian ratio is something like 680 to 1, then patrons coming in and needing personal help aren't going to get it, and they aren't going to come back.
And there's your two cents worth from a humble Library Assistant.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Okay, I'll admit it, I blew Technorati off at first...but now that I've played with it more, I'm impressed. This is the first thing on the checklist to really intrigue me! (The first thing that I wasn't already aware of, that is...I do love my Librarything and Flickr accounts!) I really want to come back to this later and play around with it some more - but since I'm already behind on my checklist, I'll just stick to the basics for this post.
Searching for "Learning 2.0" in blog posts brought up 27,856 results - not surprising, as this lists any blog post with "learning" or "2.0" anywhere in its content. Searching for "Learning 2.0"brings up 11 results - several of which are blogs of PLCMC staff. (Hopefully I'll get my own up there too - as soon as I figure out why what I'm doing now isn't working!)
Messing around with the popular searches, tags, and blogs didn't really surprise me - some weird things came up, but that's pretty standard for any search you do anywhere on the Internet.

What a dry post this turned out to be - but I'm not through playing with this yet. I may have to come back and blog more about this later on...after I'm caught up on my checklist!

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