Archive for May, 2006
Kevin Kelly’s NY Times Magazine article, Scan This Book, blew my mind. I read it straight through on Sunday and have re-read selected snippets a few times trying to wrap my mind around the implications. Here are a few selections that really jumped out at me (with my comments if I rally the brain cells to assist me.)
The link and the tag may be two of the most important inventions of the last 50 years. They get their initial wave of power when we first code them into bits of text, but their real transformative energies fire up as ordinary users click on them in the course of everyday Web surfing, unaware that each humdrum click “votes” on a link, elevating its rank of relevance. You may think you are just browsing, casually inspecting this paragraph or that page, but in fact you are anonymously marking up the Web with bread crumbs of attention. These bits of interest are gathered and analyzed by search engines in order to strengthen the relationship between the end points of every link and the connections suggested by each tag. This is a type of intelligence common on the Web, but previously foreign to the world of books.
Mind blow the first: Simply by clicking on a link we are affecting the order the of the web. What seems to be a “read” action, turns out to be more of a “read/write” action. The more we click on something, the more likely it becomes that someone else will find it and click on it.
Once digitized, books can be unraveled into single pages or be reduced further, into snippets of a page. These snippets will be remixed into reordered books and virtual bookshelves. Just as the music audience now juggles and reorders songs into new albums (or “playlists,” as they are called in iTunes), the universal library will encourage the creation of virtual “bookshelves” — a collection of texts, some as short as a paragraph, others as long as entire books, that form a library shelf’s worth of specialized information. And as with music playlists, once created, these “bookshelves” will be published and swapped in the public commons. Once snippets, articles and pages of books become ubiquitous, shuffle-able and transferable, users will earn prestige and perhaps income for curating an excellent collection.
Mind blow the second: Individual enthusiasts writing, selecting, “curating”, mashing, may soon be on an equal footing with the “experts.” I can already see this happening with wikis and blogs. The truth is, I now get almost zero useful information from our professional literature (It takes me about 10 minutes to read American Libraries and/or LJ.) But I get an immense amount of useful and stimulating information –information that is helping me do my job better– from a number of library and marketing blogs that I read regularly with the the help of RSS. (So how long before we hear, “Dude, have you heard my mashup of Federalist #51 and the new Neil Young album? Publius rocks!!)
And there’s more. A lot more.
- The sorry state of our copyright law, and the black hole of out-of-print information it has created (sucking, sucking, sucking information away from the public domain.)
- The fact that a large % of out-of-print info can’t be put back into print because, well, because no one even knows who owns the copyrights.
- The possibility that Google can bring much of this “lost” information back into play by scanning and indexing it, thereby shifting the onus to copyright holders to exert claims (if they have them.)
- The filtering power of hyperlinks and tags to bring items that exist out on the long tail to peoples’ attention. (think: If you like Ryan Adams, you may like the Jayhawks, and if you like the Jayhawks you may like, Uncle Tupelo, and if like Uncle Tupelo, you may like Calexico, and if you like Calexico you may like Giant Sand, and if you like Giant Sand, you may like their album Glum (and that’s about as long tail as it gets.)
I’ll be re-reading this piece, and reading other blogger’s thoughts on it, trying to flesh out and extrapolate what it all means for libraries. It occurs to me that the Overdrive audiobooks platform already allows us to add our own pdf and audio content to the collection. Will librarians soon be performing more local collection development of digital formats?
The possibilities (and challenges) of adding exponentially more community created content (like Atlantic City’s teen poetry slam, or flickr photo sets, or autobiographies) as permanent additions to the collection is intriguing!
The carnival tent has been hoisted and is firmly staked in our lovely Library Garden awaiting for an amazing week. We have set up a ferris wheel for your those of you who feel the need to escape for just a little while and watch the world go by from up on high. Let us know what is going on in the biblioblogophere and join in the fun.
Please send your submissions to janieh [at] gmail dot com for edition #38 of the Carnival of the Infosciences .
I have just heard a cult classic in the making — Pete Bromberg’s Library Bootcamp Blues. Clever, catchy and certainly good for a few smiles. My favorite verse almost goes without saying
Gettin’ Blogger cred for my service creed
I got Library Garden and plenty of seed
My post’s been hosted, my feeds been fed,
Got something to say that ain’t been said
Web 2.0 is being targeted by Congress with legislation that is known as DOPA — the Deleting Online Predators Act. If DOPA gets passed it would ban students from accessing online communities from school or library computers because they receive federal funding. To me it seemed liked CIPA 2.o at first glance, then I did some more reading and realized it could be far more damaging than CIPA and that DOPA is far more insidious.
… what about all the educators and students who’ve used commercial tools like Flickr or Blogger? Have the nascent days of Web 2.0 been nipped in the bud as far as schools and libraries are concerned? Will the promise of online constructivist learning be wiped out with the swish of a presidential pen?
I certainly hope not Andy, but I fear that too many of our lawmakers may not yet have their ticket for the cluetrain. I see a long battle looming in our future.
Just a quick congrats to Library Garden blogger Robert Lackie on receiving the 2006 Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship. The award is given annually to honor an individual for contributing significantly to the public recognition and appreciation of librarianship through professional performance, teaching, and/or writing.
Robert Lackie is being recognized for his contributions in promoting the library profession in the academic, public, and school library sectors through his extensive teachings, writings, and professional service. Described by Vibiana Bowman, Rutgers University, as an “an indefatigable ambassador for librarianship,” Lackie is quite well-known among library and educational professionals in the mid-Atlantic region as a dynamic and enthusiastic teacher, educator, and speaker; he has taught a legendary number of courses ranging from basic library instruction sessions and professional development training programs to graduate library science courses at Rutgers University.
If you’re lucky enough to know Robert, or to have worked with him in any capacity, this award certainly comes as no surprise. His generosity, energy, caring, and commitment know no bounds. So congratulations Robert! For my money, this recognition couldn’t have gone to a more worthy librarian. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to work with you, hopeful that we will work together again in the future, and proud to be your friend.
I am always on the lookout for new, interesting articles and blogs that might be of interest to librarians in NJ, particularly, and of course, to all of us in the library field, in general. Well, the new blog by Nancy Dowd of the New Jersey State Library is one of them! As the Outreach and Marketing Specialist there, she has recently introduced a new blog called “The M Word”, which in the spirit of the NJ State Library’s “ongoing commitment to help NJ libraries better tell their story to the public, policy makers, and the press,” has provided another avenue for us to easily connect to interesting materials, articles, and ideas related to the marketing of libraries. So, if you are thinking about how you can better market your library’s services and resources, in addition to reading our “Library Garden” posts, such as Peter Bromberg’s current “Tips” blogs, I would recommend taking a look at “The M Word” when you get a moment–she is especially interested in librarians sharing “ideas, thoughts, and support to marketing problems.” The URL for her blog is http://themwordblog.blogspot.com/ . I especially liked her blogs about GE’s use of MySpace (I am so into social networking sites now and promise to post more on these soon!) recently because of its great “word of mouth advertising platform.” Companies, and now libraries, are beginning to use different media to communicate with everyone, beyond the print and regular media outlets, and think that we, as librarians, can jump onto that bandwagon, too, as Nancy suggests, to get the word out about our libraries. Nice job, Nancy!
OK, I’ve been meaning to post this idea for over a week, so it serves me right that I got beaten to the proverbial punch by Stephen Abram, who appropriately titled his post, “an idea worth stealing.”
The idea? Keep a log at every service desk and note every time a customer is told “no”, or “we can’t do X”, or any other variation on the theme of denying the customer what they want or need.
Look at the logs on a regular basis and evaluate whether those ‘nos’ can be turned to ‘yesses’. I recommend reviewing the nos while keeping in mind Michael Stephens’ “Five Factors for User Centered Services”
- Does it place a barrier between the user and the service?
- Is it librarian-centered or user-centered in conception, i.e. is it born from complaints from librarians about users?
- Does it add more rules to your bulging book of library rules, procedures and guidelines? The more rules you make the more quickly library users will turn you off.
- Does it make more work for the user or the librarian?
- Does it involve having to damage control before you even begin the service?
I’m not suggesting that every no be turned to a yes. But I am suggesting that your customer service will improve if you every ‘no’ is critically evaluated.
I spent some time with Leslie this morning getting her flickr account personalized and organized. This photo is from her recent tour of New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast. She will be uploading many more pictures in the near future and plans to share her travels and adventures as President-elect/President of ALA not only only on her blog but also on her flickr account. How cool is that?
Breaking News: Library Garden has “the scoop” from a reliable source!
ALA President-Elect Leslie Burger will host a gathering for bloggers in her suite at the Hilton on Saturday June 24th after the Scholarship Bash (starting around 10:30 pm and going until midnight). It will be an informal event, great for networking, unwinding and catching up with bibliobloggers both old and new. So why not plan to take in Mary Chapin Carpenter at the official Bash and then head over to the Hilton for the after-bash blogger bash.
More details to be forthcoming, just be sure to mark your calendars. Please rsvp by leaving a comment here on Library Garden if you plan on attending so everyone can see who will be there — and to make sure you get final details (aka precise location) when they are available drop me an email: jhermann at princetonlibrary dot org. Spread the word!
Oh, and if you are wondering how Library Garden got this breaking news… check my blogger profile and you might notice that I have “connections” to LB… and she is my reliable source. I just finished meeting with her and she has asked me to promote and coordinate.
Granted, many libraries already excel in this area, but it’s worth mentioning. In my first “test” post I joked that, “If we can get [baby ducks] to come in for quacky time when they’re still fuzzy, cute, and let’s face it a little impressionable, I think we’ll have them for life.” But seriously folks, if we give teens a positive, engaging, welcoming library experience, there’s a much greater chance that we will keep them for life (or at least through their first molting season.)
And I don’t think that a positive, engaging, and welcoming experience is at odds with the necessary boundary setting that has to happen with teens. I never felt more loved and welcomed than when Carol Kuhlthau was throwing me out of my high school library! (I had an inkling that defacing magazine covers by cutting out the noses and mouths and wearing them as masks was not appropriate behavior.) I appreciated that I had done something wrong and Carol always welcomed me and my friends back. I guess she realized that when we weren’t goofing around we were actually doing some reading.
So how do we make libraries welcoming and engaging for teens? There’s the basics: Smile at them. Treat them as you would other customers. Anticipate and meet their needs. What needs? Stephen Abram suggests letting teens bring their skateboards into the library:
“Why don’t we have a skateboard rack inside the library? Why would we have our patrons risk their independence if their skateboard is lost or stolen? How would they get to the library? We should support them. A skateboard box, Rubbermaid storage container or simply a towel bar by the service desk is a simple solution that provides a service instead of a negative interaction. It’s welcoming. Buy or get a second hand old skateboard and a few sticky letters that say WELCOME. Why wouldn’t we do this? It’s a cheap visible proof of welcoming attitudes.”
Aaron Schmidt suggests (gasp) letting them use the stapler (that generated a LOT of discussion across many blogs–worth following.) Back in a previous incarnation when I served as a YA librarian I set up a modest homework center with paper, scissors (double-gasp), hole punch, white out, pens, pencils, highlighters, paperback dictionaries and thesauri all located in a little 3 shelf bookcase–just for teens! If they’re asking us for it, why not provide it? (Please don’t say “money”: paper, pens and a few staplers a year–yes they walk occasionally–aren’t going to break the bank.)
Beyond the basics (smiling, scold-free service) there are so many good ideas out there for serving teens it’s hard to know where to start. So why not start here at the BIG IDEAS, NOW: teens @ your library conference that took place April 30-May 1, 2004, at Trinity College University of Toronto. There are a lot of goodies here so I’ll highlight a few:
- Keynote address by past YALSA President Michael Cart
- Notes from breakout session, Attracting Teens/Selling Teen Services to Staff and Administration
- Notes from breakout session, Adolescent Development and Libraries (good ideas on why teens come to the library and what we can do to meet their needs)
- Notes from breakout session, Librarians New to Working with Teens
Thanks Ontario Library Association for continuing to host such a valuable resource!