Archive for December, 2006

Top Sites of 2006

Send me your nominations for the top sites of 2006 — and do it quickly if you can!

I am teaching a class in 2 hours called “Top Sites of 2006″. I have a fairly lengthy list of sites to demonstrate, but just thought perhaps I missed something that I should include and some feedback would be great. I will repeat this class once or twice in January and can change it based upon sites sent to me. The class is basically an overview of what was hot (or cool, depending on how you view it) on the Web in the last 12 months.

Actually, it will really be fascinating for me to see if the sites I selected for inclusion are nominated by other bloggers and to see what I missed. It will also be a good test to see how many are reading LG on the day before a long holiday weekend ;-)

December 29, 2006 at 10:48 am 5 comments

I’ve Been Tagged!

This is so great! I’ve been “Tagged” (see Blog Tag Tree) to share with you all and it is just the thing I need to get me back into blogging on a regular basis, which is ONE of my New Year’s Resolutions (more later)….

Also, this forces me to jump in and use this “new” Blogger, so we’ll see…

Blog Tag: 5 Things You Don’t Know About Me
I’ve been tagged by Michael Casey to write about “5 Things You Don’t Know About Amy Kearns”(for those of you who care)!

1. I have a B.A. in Philosophy from Rutgers because I couldn’t stop taking the classes because I loved them so much, even though I had no idea what I would be “when I grew up” with a degree in Philosophy!

The best thing a Philosophy Professor ever told me was, “When someone asks you, ‘What are you going to do with a B.A. in Philosophy!? You tell them ANYTHING!”

And, it’s true – a B.A. in Philosophy is good for any-and-every-thing you would ever want to be when you grow up, especially a librarian (which I didn’t even know I wanted to be until about 1995)!
(Note: My sister went on to get a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Delaware and my Director, Cindy Czesak, also has a Philosophy degree!)

2. I can’t believe I am about to admit this, but I have a secret (well not-so-secret now!) passion for Drum and Bugle Corps competitions, and I have attended them almost every single year without missing one since I was about 5 years old! I was never in band, and I’ve never participated in one, but I have been a strong and fanatical supporter of Youth Education in the Arts for many years now!

3. In some ways I am a somewhat “stereotypical” librarian – I LOVE to READ and I LOVE to KNIT! A favorite site of mine is knitty! I just knit a scarf for my sister (my photos are on flickr) for Christmas. In some other ways I am NOT a “stereotypical” librarian – I don’t have (or really like that much) cats but I do have an English Bulldog named Nigel! ;-)

4. I worked in Publishing in NYC for 5 years when I first graduated from college and my dream was to live in Manhattan! That never happened and after five years I couldn’t really take the commute anymore! I was about to get married at the time and my then-fiance-now-husband was working as a teacher in NJ and I wasn’t very happy getting home after 7pm when he was finished with work around 4! ;-)

5. I have already recruited one new librarian since I received my MLIS (also from Rutgers, SCILS, in 2003)! My mom is the Children’s Librarian at the Glen Rock Public Libray! Who are you going to recruit!? ;-)

Thanks for tagging me and allowing me to play and for reading, if you got this far! Now it’s my turn and….

I’m tagging Tyler Rousseau, Mary Martin, Jenny Levine, Leslie Burger, and Peter Bromberg!

December 26, 2006 at 10:38 am 4 comments

LG is on ‘New’ blogger now, great but…

Library Garden is on the “new” version of Blogger now. It’s been around as beta for awhile but this morning was my first option to switch over so I did.

I’ve had some frustrations with the bugginess of blogger, and I know those frustrations have been shared by my fellow Library Garden bloggers. There’s been some talk of moving to WordPress or Typepad, and even getting our own domain name. I have the next 10 days off so, among other things, I’m going to evaluate our blog hosting options and possibly move us to a new platform for January 1.

If you’re subscribing to our feedburner feed, http://feeds.feedburner.com/LibraryGarden it’ll be apples mates. I’ll make sure that feed is updated with our new information and you won’t need to do anything to keep receiving our fresh gardeny goodness. If you’re subscribing to us through the blogger feed why not update now, just in case. :-)

OK, so here’s new blogger’s first test: I’m cutting and pasting the next line from MS Word. Let’s see how blogger handles it. (drum roll please…)

Blogger test “number one” did this display the quotations marks properly??

If so, maybe there’s hope!

December 22, 2006 at 1:17 pm 11 comments

Which Game Console to Buy for Your Library?

As the holidays are upon us and our purchasing-obsessed minds start thinking of ways to spend money, I am looking for which game system to purchase for the library system. It would be great to say that our teens would be happy with any old game system in the library but, face it, gamers are IT junkies, they want the greatest and latest. Sure, if you brought a Nintendo 64 in for them, they would play it, but it wouldn’t have near the response that a PS3 would.

But is the response worth an extra $500 in limited programming funds?

As I am making my decision, I have done a lot of research and asked a lot of game junkies what their opinions were as well. Here is our assessment of the current available gaming consoles.

Xbox 360- You could definitely look into purchasing this system. It is slightly on the pricey side, but not ridiculous at $400, and its games can be pricey as well. However, Xbox is known for its multiplayer games. This system also has the ability to split multiplayers onto two screens, meaning that opponents can’t see what the other one is doing… which is really, REALLY handy for strategy and fragging games. According to my gaming buddies, it is a lot easier to connect through the Internet with Xbox360 and play your friends online.

Original Xbox- Its dead. If you are set on the Microsoft system, then you have to do the Microsoft thing; buy the upgrade (i.e. 360), which will play regular Xbox games.

PS3- If you have a supersized budget, you could consider it, this thing goes for $600 at the starting price. The system is almost offensively expensive, they are working on pay to play online, and the games can easily run upwards of $70. So, essentially, you are talking ONE system and a limited amount of games that you would likely have to stagger the purchasing of to make sure that you had a fresh, new game to show off to your kids through out the year. I have personally found several reviews for some of their more popular games which say that it is tough to find people playing online right now, a problem which may change with the growing number of buyers, but it is still an unappealing statistic to consider. That said, the PS2 was known for making superior storyboard games and I am sure the PS3 will continue that standard.

PS2- Not dead yet and might not be for awhile. The PS3 sold 400,000 less units than expected in November; that could have serious implications to Sony trying to keep the PS2 lifeline alive (as people don’t seem completely keen on buying the next generation). They are still pumping a lot of money into this console at the moment, however, it will become obsolete… even the PS2 cannot defeat Darwin. However, consider the price, the popularity of its games and the reasonable prices of them, it is still a solid purchase for the moment.

Nintendo Wii- A fresh new look at gaming. As a employee at EB Games said “Nintendo took a look at games like DDR and Guitar Hero and said ‘We should make an entire system built around this kind of interactive gameplay.” In other words, PS3 and Xbox 360 are working on refining the systems they already have, Nintendo went to revolutionize the gaming system. The basic console is $250 and the games peak at $50. Players can make their own Avatars, which they can save in the controller and then bring to their friends house. You can purchase games all the way back to the NES online and play them on the Wii as well. The one starting disadvantage is that you have to purchase the memory card, but hey, it’s an SD and you may already have that in an antiquated PalmPilot or digital camera.

So, what is the best purchase?

Personally, I am going to purchase the Nintendo Wii. I have a feeling that as popular as the system is right now, many of the youth in my library are waiting for someone else to buy it first… so that will be me. I like the idea of an interactive gaming system, games that tend to be designed for both genders and, of course, the price is right for my limited budget, in both console and games. The ability to download some of the classics like Mario Kart and Party is appealing as well as they are games I can have many play at a time and all generally enjoy. And the simplicity of the controllers was a big plus for these games as most times I will bring this out for the kids, they will not have a lot of time to learn 12 button controls and commands.

My EB Games buddies unanimously said the Nintendo Wii for much of the same reasons I did. They emphasized the downloading games, and updating games ability, along with the more physical response of the games themselves… stating that “a good game makes you want to jump out of your seat, but only the Wii requires it.”

But my gaming buddies largely went with Xbox360. They liked the library of games the system had to offer, said they enjoyed the multiplayer aspects of it, and the price was reasonable considering you could play online free. They also take to Halo 2 the way a rat takes to the New York City filth though.

What say you? Anyone else considering a purchase?

December 20, 2006 at 12:39 pm 16 comments

The Millennial Generation and Libraries: An Interview with Richard Sweeney of NJIT

Richard Sweeney University Librarian of the Robert W. Van Houten Library of New Jersey Institute of Technology graciously agreed to be interviewed recently by myself and Robert Lackie for Library Garden. His contact information and biosketch are found below. Here’s how the interview evolved over several emails.

Thanks so much Richard for being willing to be interviewed for the Library Garden blog. We were fascinated by Richard’s presentation about the Millennial Generation at the New Jersey joint SLA chapter meeting with the New Jersey SLA and the Princeton-Trenton SLA Chapters held at Rutgers University this fall and were interested in learning more about your findings in conducting a series of focus groups with members of the Millennial Generation (born from 1979 to 1994). So we have a few questions for you. To start off, with all your research on the Millennial Generation what do you think are the most critical differences between this generation and previous generations?

Richard Sweeney: There are quite a few important Millennial behaviors. Perhaps the most important behavior is that they expect /demand many more choices (more selectivity and variety) in their consumer products and services. They have had a wide array of selectivity from birth and they expect it. For instance, they don’t have a generational music any longer because they have so many musical choices available to them and they do not have the need to conform. They want more personalization and customization in their products and services, once they are selected. Another behavioral difference is that expect instant gratification; they have no patience; they try to pack as much as they can into their day. This drives their multitasking, instant messaging, text messaging, collaboration and online just-in-time access from anywhere. They are experiential learners, preferring to learn by trial and error, and by doing rather than by being told. They are reading literature less and newspapers far less than other generations at the same age. There are 30 or so behavioral characteristics that I have discovered and most of these hold up with U.S. college students regardless of where or who. They are more open to change, they have more friends and they communicate with them more frequently. They are better collaborators, although they may not always actually prefer doing so.

Robert: Wow—these behavioral characteristics you describe certainly do seem to fit our undergraduate student population here at Rider University, too, as well as my own Millennial son. “Multitasking” is definitely a very descriptive word for this group, and library and teaching faculty here also describe them as a “wired-in group” that “want to be successful, and if not in the classroom, then socially.” We concluded in a recent faculty/staff development session here that we must invite Millennials to participate, be involved, and learn along with us. We certainly can learn from their general ability to quickly change and adapt to technology and its effect on their surroundings—it is a stimulating world we live in.

Marie: Well, reading Richard’s biosketch below, and since I have a 16 year old daughter, it is evident that all three of us have Millennial children which gives us a “close up and personal” view of this generation. Richard, your findings also certainly resonate with findings from recent focus groups I have conducted with the youngest members of this fascinating group (which I have referred to as “screenagers”) from rural, urban, and suburban areas as part of my IMLS grant “Seeking Synchronicity” that studies virtual reference. The teens I interviewed use libraries, but not virtual reference services, and trust Google, their own ability to search for information and to evaluate that information above the professional librarian’s abilities. They rarely check information found in Google against authoritative sources. They also spend large amounts of their time online or in gaming environments and often choose to learn by trial and error. Static library websites that are difficult to navigate and jargon laden just don’t cut it.

Marie and Robert: As a librarian, what is the most exciting thing you have learned about Millennials?

Richard Sweeney: Millennials love to learn by doing, by exploring, by discovery (on their own as well as peer-to-peer). I am excited about the opportunities to change libraries and higher education institutions into learning infrastructures with many more options preferable to Millennials. For instance, learning management systems such as Blackboard or WebCT, currently do not promote and facilitate peer-to-peer learning, learning by doing. Neither do library databases, such as ABI Inform or Business Source Premier, to name just two. They are geared more toward individual self-paced presentations and searches. The way students are learning has not yet fundamentally changed the way in which the pedagogy occurs. They require continuous feedback and interactivity, much more than they typically get in libraries. In short, the databases in libraries don’t know who the user is, do not change or adapt to him/her and do not speed up their learning/searching based upon past experience. They are dumb. Libraries have a role, and always have, in self learning and peer-to-peer learning. We have not done a very good job of creating a library learning infrastructure that specifically supports technologies that will exploit user behaviors to their own benefit. Perhaps Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 will do so.

Robert: Yes, course management/learning management systems such as Blackboard and WebCT (which, by the way, are soon to be integrated) still need some work, and we found that was very true when they were used to teach online-only courses. About library databases, providing plenty of hands-on opportunity with our databases within our research instruction sessions does seem to be appreciated by the Millennials, as they get quickly bored with our lecture/demonstrations. We know, however, that using active learning techniques with our instruction sessions is not enough, so we are exploring best practices for Web 2.0 technologies within the library. An expert guide on this that we have found very useful is the July/August 2006 Library Technology Reports (Vol. 42, No. 4) by Michael Stephens, entitled “Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software.”

Marie: I also agree that libraries should offer a variety of digital resources and venues for reference service that allow the Millennials to choose how they want to interact with librarians. Research by De Groote (2005) at the Library of the Health Sciences reference desk at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that chat reference was used most often by undergraduates (35%), email reference by graduate students (34%), and phone reference by faculty/staff (39%). One lesson here is to offer a range of reference services to meet the different needs of users. [See: De Groot, S. L. (summer, 2005). Questions asked at the virtual and physical health sciences reference desk: How do they compare and what do they tell us? Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 24 (2), 11-23.]

Marie and Robert: What are the most critical implications of your findings for librarians and library service in the present and in the future?

Richard Sweeney: Librarians can no longer think of themselves as primarily managers of collections of static documents (books, DVDs, CDs, remote databases, etc.). Libraries are fundamentally about learning, especially self learning and peer-to-peer learning. We must play a larger role in motivating and accelerating our user/patron learning, whether we are in public libraries, special libraries, academic libraries, or school libraries, etc. We need to embrace dynamic documents and allow for dynamic catalogs. This library catalog does not know nor keep track of my past uses, nor preferences. The library catalog does not let me leave notes for my friends about some books that I read and enjoyed. The electronic databases do not let me attach related citations that I think are relevant and see them whenever I would do a new search on that subject. Librarians have to see themselves not (just) as someone who works in a library, or someone who is essentially a bibliophile or even someone who helps to dispense information, or a tutor about how to find relevant documents. I think librarians will be those who practice and teach the art of satisfying each person’s learning needs better and faster. For example, the librarian should help organize access to podcasts of lectures and allow other students and faculty to add comments and notes to the podcasts, at least for themselves and friends and, when warranted, for any user. Such podcasts would not be static. “Tricks” for learning a section faster can be appended. Librarians should be able to help put together the most frequently asked question (FAQ) lists for their community so that good, fast answers to natural language questions can be automated.

Robert: Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 seem to echo in your comments, Richard. This reminds me of Roy Tennant’s quote in his article “Strategies for Keeping Current” in Library Journal (9/15/06)—he says that “We learn all the time without even thinking about it….We think that if someone doesn’t stand up in front of us and talk to us with either a chalkboard or PowerPoint slides, we cannot learn. We must regain our sense of wonder and our desire to learn.” I love your examples of making our interactions more dynamic and meaningful to our users, Richard. Michael Stephens also gives plenty of examples of social software and libraries using them to better connect with their users in his report mentioned earlier, and to librarians who are considering implementing Web 2.0 technologies and thinking in their libraries to better connect with everyone, especially Millennials, he simply states, “Come in, the water is fine.”

Marie: If libraries are to remain vibrant, responsive, and relevant, it seems to me to be like reading the writing on the wall (or writing on the screen) that significant change is needed in library web interfaces and services. Rapid technological change is difficult for many of us who are digital immigrants rather than the Millennial digital natives, yet our sense of wonder and curiosity is probably what led us into this profession to begin with and I for one am easily bored, so love trying new approaches and also love learning from the Millennials.

Marie and Robert: Do you see any possible consequences if libraries continue to do “business as usual” during the next few years? If so, what might they be?

Richard Sweeney: Our user behaviors, interest and needs are rapidly changing. If libraries do business as usual, they will become less and less relevant to these users. Already the young people think libraries are more about books and less about information than the older generations (De Rosa, Cathy et. al. Perceptions Of Libraries and Information Resources; A report to the OCLC membership. 2005).

Robert: Ouch! It seems that we need to not only better connect with Millennials, but we need to better market or advertise what we are doing for them now and get their involvement and input.

Marie: I couldn’t agree more with Richard and Robert.

Marie and Robert: What changes do you anticipate making in the next few years to accommodate the Millennials and to encourage them to use the NJIT library and electronic resources?

Richard Sweeney: One of the immediate problems we face in libraries is that we know less today about most of our users, i.e., users who search and use our online resources remotely. Millennials vote with their clicks. In our focus groups, it was obvious that the OPAC was not being used very much by our students, except to find out if we had a copy of a title available. We only know that, say 100 uses were made of the XYZ database. Was that 100 different users or one user who executed 100 searches? Were the end users successful in any of their searches? We need to begin to accumulate much more focused information about specific user satisfaction or the lack of it and then find ways to use technologies to improve user learning. We are already taking steps to move outside of the traditional catalog to obtain NJIT library resources. Our library will always be about serving people, by helping them learn better and faster. But in the future libraries will play a more active and engaged role integrating published knowledge with internal instruction, individual and peer-to-peer learning, and university research and community service.

Marie: Yes, it is true that current logging software and available reports leave much to be desired. We certainly need to find out more about this population and their information seeking and communication behaviors.

Marie and Robert: Finally, where can we find out more about your research with Millennials?

Richard Sweeney: You can take a look at my web page.

Robert: Thanks for the link to your web page, Richard. Anyone who is interested in more information on Millennials and what we can do as librarians or educators to better connect with them will love viewing your “Millennial PowerPoint” presentation with your graphs, charts, statistics, and many quotes, and your August 14, 2006 article “Millennial Behaviors and Demographics” is very informative and well-written—we especially found the listing and descriptions of Millennial behaviors that are impacting our society to be enlightening, especially in regard to how their behaviors impact their approach to learning and communicating. Thank you for including these, as well as the PowerPoints from your many recent ALA presentations.

Marie: I might add, Richard, that your article also has a great bibliography for those who want to learn more, and I’d also like to add my thanks for this interview!

Biosketch and Contact Information for Richard Sweeney
Richard Sweeney is the University Librarian at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has been vice provost for libraries and information services at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, executive director of the Public Library of Columbus and Franklin County in Ohio, director of the Genesee County Library in Michigan, director of the Atlantic City Free Public Library in New Jersey, and Librarian at Central Junior High School in Atlantic City. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey; has taught at the high school, college, and graduate levels; and has served as president of the Columbus, Ohio, Cable Commission. He has conducted more than 35 Millennial Generation panels in a dozen states. His most recent article is “Reinventing Library Buildings and Services for the Millennial Generation,” which was published in the fall 2005 issue of Library Administration & Management. Two of his six children are Millennials.

Contact Information: Richard T. Sweeney, University Librarian, Robert W. Van Houten Library, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights, Newark, NJ 07102-1982 Voice: 973-596-3208 Fax: 973-643-5601.

December 17, 2006 at 12:23 pm

Ski Battle Game

Perhaps it was the extra helping of Grandpa’s “extra-special” eggnog that had me roaming the game sites of Internet last night but I came across this Ski Battle to help bring in the winter time cheer for a season that has unseasonably warm.

Let’s see who can create the best slopes incorporating a library background.

For any teachers out there with enough computers and some need to kill time with their students this week, have a go as well.

December 16, 2006 at 9:32 pm

MySpace in the News

I am preparing this morning for an upcoming Tech Talk on January 2nd at MPOW that will cover MySpace and social netowrking. Karen Klapperstuck of the Bradley Beach Public Library will be presenting with me and the topic is already generating a lot of interest from the Tech Talk regulars. I am preparing early, for once, as I want to enjoy some time off over the holidays without stress (plus I am getting a jump on my New Year’s Resolution: No more procrastinating by telling myself that I work better under pressure!)

I am putting together a list of MySpace and Facebook stories to post to the Tech Talk Blog as a part of this presentation and here are three interesting MySpace stories that I uncovered this morning:

A few hours ago ABC News posted an article entitled Web King: MySpace Takes Throne From Yahoo. One quick highlight:

“An interesting online milestone occurred in November: MySpace overtook Yahoo as the No. 1 most-viewed site on the Internet, according to comScore Media Metrix.

The numbers are staggering: There were 38.7 billion — yes, billion — page views for MySpace versus 38.1 billion for Yahoo, and again, that was just for November.

It’s fascinating to see how the Internet has evolved. Who knew that simply socializing online could change the Internet?”

I love that last statement — it will be incorporated in to the talk for sure!

And then there are these two library related articles that were posted within the last 24 hours:

Prison Escapee Caught After Checking MySpace — it seems that an escaped prisoner from Georgia kept checking his MySpace account using his real name. He was accessing his account from the Philadelphia Free Library.

Manatee libraries block MySpace – in this case, the library has chosen to block access to MySpace because it does not server the library’s “educational mission”. Here is the precise quote from the article:

Administrators looked at the site and decided it did not serve educational purposes. And most MySpace.com users weren’t going to the library to check out materials or do research, Van Berkel said.

I looked at the policies page for the Manatee County Library System and after reading their Internet access policy, I can’t say I am surprised. The site uses frames so I can’t link you directly to the policy because no static url is given, so I will paste a portion of it here instead:

Policies Governing Internet Access

Due to limited resources, access to the full Internet may be limited and shall initially be made available primarily to provide:
Assistance to patrons with research of an academic nature.
Access to library on-line catalogs.
Local newspaper indexes.
Web pages of government agencies and local organizations.
Government documents research.
Genealogical research.
Historic and scientific research.

and shall not be available for:
Chat room access, e-mail or the creation of web pages.
Entertainment and recreational uses.
Accessing materials that are obscene, or child pornography, or materials harmful to minors as defined by Chapter 847, Florida Statutes
.

Okay, that pretty much speaks for itself and does not really need commentary from me. Now I need to find a way to incorporate these stories in to the talk.

On a side note, I am collecting examples of libraries that have successfully used MySpace to promote services and as a method of outreach. If you want to be included in the talk, just let me know by commenting here at Library Garden or sending me an email.

Also, if you are within driving distance of Princeton, I would like to invite you to please drop by and join Karen and I on the 2nd. Here is the official “blurb” for the program:

Social Software: Hype vs. Reality
Janie Hermann and Karen Klapperstuck will give an overview of social software sites such as Myspace.com and Facebook.com, looking at the pros and cons of using them, and show you how to set up a profile. They will also provide tips for staying safe in online communities, and examine what is hype and what is not about the dangers of connecting and collaborating in a virtual world. Tuesday, Jan. 2, 7 p.m.

December 14, 2006 at 11:10 am 32 comments

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