Archive for February, 2008
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is. The fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.” -Steve Jobs on the Amazon Kindle
In his NYTimes ‘Outposts’ blog, Timothy Egan takes aim at Jobs’ assessment, suggesting that any reports on the death of reading are greatly exaggerated.
Reading is … an engagement of the imagination with life experience. It’s fad-resistant, precisely because human beings are hard-wired for story, and intrinsically curious. Reading is not about product…
This year, about 400 million books will be sold in the United States…[H]alf the population bought nearly 6 books a year. If only Apple were so lucky. The latest Harry Potter book sold 9 million copies in its first 24 hours – in English… Apple reported selling a piddling 3.7 million of the much-hyped iPhones through 2007. Is the iPhone dead? Of course not. But what should be dead are foolish statements about how human nature itself has changed because of some new diversion for our thumbs.
Egan’s post is spot on and a fun read. Go check it out at: http://egan.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/20/book-lust/index.html
At some point in the future it is highly likely that I will take the test and become a U.S. citizen. So when I saw the U.S. Citizen Test on FaceBook yesterday I decided to take it just for some fun (and to see if I will need to study). What I really liked about this test (besides FaceBook telling me that I got 95% correct) is that it gives a nice little plug for “the local library” — a message that must go to everyone, whether you pass with flying colors or fail.
As a library science student, I hear about all kinds of great conferences, but I can not afford them. Some recent grads have told me that now that they can afford more conferences, they have far less time to attend them. I recently found out there are a number of online ‘conferences’ that are free of charge.
Yes free—really and truly free!
I thought I should take one for a test drive. The Library of Congress offers a free web conference orientation to their website each month. Despite this being a regular source of note in a variety of my reference classes, I have always found the site too big to search well and much better suited to browsing. Maybe this orientation would be the key to making http://www.loc.gov/ a regular go-to source for me. To be honest, I didn’t hold out much hope, it was after all FREE…
I am not sure where I heard about this conference—an email to be sure, but I don’t remember who sent it. I clicked a link, picked a date and waited. Within 24 hours, I had received an e-mail conformation from Judith Graves, Digital Project Coordinator—not an automated response, but an e-mail that actually included useful information, including contact information!
On my originally scheduled date, I had no cable, which meant I had no internet. I later sent a note to Judith who kindly and happily rescheduled me immediately—no need to re-register or do any additional work. How rare and handy is that!
Last week, I finally participated in the one-hour orientation. It was fun, information and interactive. Participants could ask questions in real-time using a chat function. I learned some interesting things: Did you know LOC was using Flickr? (find out more on the LOC Blog). Like the initial customer service, it was a positive and helpful experience. I would recommend anyone with an hour to spare look into the orientation—it is offered each month. I still feel the site is better suited to browsing, but with practice, I can see some good public library applications and uses.
But wait, there’s more!
One of the best outcomes from this event is that I found out about Online Programming for All Libraries—a listing of on-line library events taking place which are free. While I am sure many librarians already know about this, it is new to me. I asked around at Rutgers and most of the students did not know about it either, so I thought it worth noting.
Here is a sample of the LOC online series of programs:
Mar 12 – Early scrapbooks and the women who created them
April 9 – Poetry
May 14 – Jefferson’s Library
June 11 – All History Is Local in a Digital World
There is plenty more including book discussion groups, lectures and chat sessions with library professionals, and multi-part presentation series. A diverse group of libraries and librarians contribute content to OPAL. You can find it all on their schedule. Be sure to check out the archives as well—I am looking forward to finding the time to look at the ‘Six Weeks to a Social Library’ series.
Let me know what you think of these freebies….
Note: See related post from October 2008
Since I started doing Toastmasters about two years ago I’ve been Furling every good piece of information I could find on how to be a better speaker and presenter. I mentioned this recently to some of my fellow Toasties and they asked me to share my links.
The pieces speak for themselves (no pun intended), so without extensive annotations, here are my top 10:
- Garr Reynolds (see also: his great blog, Presentation Zen):
- 10 Tips for a Killer Presentation, Neil Patel
- Get Your Message Across by Creating Powerful Stories, Kevin Eikenberry
- How to Change the World: World’s Best Presentation Contest Winners There are some great examples of how to effectively use powerpoint.
- Bert Decker (Also see his blog, Create Your Communications Experience)
- How to Get a Standing Ovation, Guy Kawasaki
- Kathy Sierra (See also: her blog Creating Passionate Users which, sadly, is no longer being updated; but there’s great archived content!)
- Effective Presentations: More than one way to impress an audience Dave Pollard
- All Presenting is Persuasive Guila Muir (see also: Guila’s other training/presenting resources)
- A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods From Visual-Literacy.org. Great ideas for how to use visually represent your ideas.
- BONUS LINK: The 5 Immutable Laws of Persuasive Blogging, Brian Clark.
Ostensibly written for bloggers, I’m finding that the “5 Laws” (provide value, have a hook, etc.) are also helpful in organizing talks and presentations.
I’d love to get feedback on your favorite resources and tips. What’s helped you be a kick ass speaker or presenter?
Yesterday was my birthday and I was home for the day due to my preschooler having a fever. Had I been at work I may have missed out on this great customer service idea that really brightened what was otherwise a dreary winter day cooped up in the house.
For 5+ years I have been a member of a very large health and wellness center run by a local hospital. It is a beautiful facility and I’ve always been impressed with their exceptional customer service, especially in comparison to other gyms that I have belonged to in years gone by. In prior years I have received a postcard in the mail from them wishing me a happy birthday. It was not personalized in any way and, although a nice gesture, usually just went straight to the recycling bucket.
I did not get a postcard this year, instead I got a phone call wishing me a happy birthday, thanking me for my five years of membership and asking for feedback. I have not been using the facilities as much lately (and they noticed) and they wondered if there was a reason why. I explained that it was mostly a child care issue and a lack of time. We chatted for a few minutes and by the end of the call I felt a new sense of resolve to use my membership more frequently and get back in to my gym routine.
Is there a way that libraries could do something similar? Would library customers appreciate a birthday phone call or would it feel too intrusive? I am honestly not sure. The phone call yesterday from my gym made me feel like they valued my membership and my opinion. Would library patrons welcome the same chance to provide solicited feedback?
At the very least this type of birthday call is a way to systemically ensure that you make annual contact with your members for feedback and input. I would imagine that the gym would have left me a voice mail had I not been home asking me to call back if I wanted to talk.
If a birthday phone call is not appropriate or feasible for libraries, then perhaps an annual campaign where you call a percentage of those in your community with library cards to thank them for using the library and asking them for feedback. It is simple, personal and would likely generate lots of good ideas as well as constructive advice.
At MPOW we have done focus groups and we have done a variety of surveys over the years to get feedback. While very useful, they require the customer to make the effort to either show up for the group or to fill out the form. If it is the library calling them, they can simply talk for a few minutes (or not) and it requires no effort on their part. It makes the conversation easy. I am going to be giving this some thought and trying to devise a plan for how we can implement something similar to get feedback on our public programming. Let me know if you have done this before and have any advice.
PEW Internet and American Life Project has a quick 10 question test for people to see what kind of technology user they are.
When looking at the different types of users, I was pretty suprised to see that the American population was well dispersed between the 10 different categories.
My results pegged me as an Omnivore, which comprises 8% of the general population. The provided description was pretty accurate, the only big miss being that I do not own a Blackberry/iphone.
But I will…. oh yes, I will. bwahahahahahaha!
The bloggers of Library Garden welcome one and all to the February 4th, 2008 edition of the Carnival of the Infosciences. Only two submissions this week, but not to worry as the LG blog team submitted lots of favorites for inclusion. And now… one with the show!
Iris Jastram, the Pegasus Librarian, points us to her post in which she tackles the question Is “Traditional Reference” Dead? — a question she has been mulling for quite some time. While fully acknowledging that her experience is based upon being a librarian at a residential liberal arts college, she illustrates how reference can be and still is vital. She firmly states:
I think reference is alive and well just like the English language is alive and well. It isn’t bound by the same rules and expectations as it was once, and new rules have emerged over time, but that doesn’t mean that the basics have fundamentally shifted or become irrelevant…… Rather than being gatekeepers of information, we’re now expert in weeding through too much information, but we’re still helping people fill their information needs.
We also heard from Sol Lederman at the Federated Search Blog who submitted his post One-stop access to multiple federated search applications. In this post, Sol is offering up his time and energies to create a comparison site for federated search applications, but to do this he needs input and he asks:
In order to make this a fair comparison tool and one not biased by any particular party, in particular Deep Web Technologies who is sponsoring this blog, I ask for everyone who wants to participate to add a comment to this post listing up to 20 sources they would like to see in everyone’s demo. Remember, anybody can submit source requests, not just vendors.
So please stop by and leave your list of sources for Sol so he can get this project underway.
Next up is the selections by the LG bloggers and we will start with Ty’s selection, which was a post by Carlie Webber over at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy entitled “Unpopular Opinions and the Edwards Award“. Ty, in selecting this post, writes:
Robert Lackie weighed in with his selection by writing:
I spent a lot of time catching up on what’s been going on in the blogosphere this week, and although I found many interesting and intriguing posts, I will have to go with Gary Price’s post about the possible new MicroHoo (also known as YahooSoft ; ) as my top pick.
Although various posts provide interesting statistics or historical perspectives on both Yahoo! and Microsoft and the possibilities and pitfalls of a merger, Price’s post “Acquisition Time: MicroHoo?” early this morning at Resource Shelf provided an outstanding overview of the possible merger, outlining “fast facts” about tech mergers, the real news from each of the search companies for the public and their respective employees, and most importantly to me and many others I am sure, such as the ramifications of mixing of these corporate cultures, the duplication of jobs and projects, and the possible search index and platform(s) to be used, among others. I certainly found Gary’s post to highlight and bring together the most pertinent issues at hand, even mentioning the Facebook/Microsoft investment plan and linking to some of the best posts, letters, and emails to hit the blogosphere on this intriguing proposition. Fantastic post!
Pete nominated Kate Sheehan’s “Sam’s Club” post. In sending me his submission he wrote: In the flurry of recent posts on Library 2.0, Kate does a great job of distilling the value of library 2.0 (personfied as “Sam”). She writes:
Sam loves libraries, Sam is devoted to libraries, Sam wants libraries to thrive. Sam wants librarians to love their jobs and patrons to adore their libraries. Sam hopes that everyone will be filled with so much love for the library, they will all be library evangelists. Sam likes technology and thinks there are some really useful tools out there. More than that, Sam is paying attention to the web-driven shifts in culture. Sam sees that people are coming to expect transparency, engagement, amazing service, responsiveness and efficient, convenient results from the organizations they interact with. Sam is a little worried about libraries. Libraries can be awfully good at getting in their own way and putting up well-intentioned road blocks between potential patrons and the wealth of resources the library has to offer. Additionally, libraries may be missing the boat when it comes to taking advantage of the information and perspectives offered by patrons.
Kate wraps it up by urging librarians to get over the semantics and “assess, meet and grow with the needs of our patrons”. Bravo!
Cynthia, our newest blog team member, makes her first ever pick for the COTI with the following:
Why? Because it made me laugh out loud (as the AL often does), but also because this post points out something that library students seem to miss all the time–being a librarian is a job. As such, it means politics, it means jobs you don’t want to do (like fighting my nemesis the copier), it means smelly patrons, it means you have a boss who will be upset when you screw up and let you know, etc. All too often library students think their job is going to be all sunshine and happiness.
While I agree the job rocks and I am happy all the time, because I work in the best damn library on the planet (where all the patrons are above average and the staff is exceptional), on Sunday when someone stole my box of tissues, I was pissed! It’s a job and like all jobs, it has hard, stupid, and dull stuff attached to it and yes, politics! AL does a good job of making this clear without being a “mean” librarian.
Amy’s selection for the carnival were the posts by Rochelle over at Tinfoil+Racoon in which issues with loaning the Kindle were explored. In specific, Loaning Kindle to Patrons a No-No for Libraries and the more recent Never Mind Legal Issues; Kindle not good choice for most libraries. Both posts, and the ensuing discussion on the first, were very illuminating, especially as many libraries are currently trying to decide if/when to buy/circulate Kindles.
My pick? Well, I never managed to come up with one. I was on vacation in Vermont enjoying some time on the slopes at Smugg’s with my family and took a break from the blogosphere. My role was to coordinate the carnival for LG so I am going to take a pass on madly searching for a submission on my first day back in the office after a 12 day vacation (my voice mail and inbox are in serious need of my attention).
Oh, wait… a late breaking submission came in from Pete who sent me an email just now to say:
If it’s not too late, I’d like to nominate Aaron Schmidt’s post “More thoughts on a café branch“. Aaron asks, “Libraries are…putting coffee shops in libraries, why not go all the way and put a library in a coffee shop?” I admire the way Aaron both thinks outta the box, while grounding his ideas in reality, and anticipating and addressing possible objections.
Now before anyone gets bent out of shape, let me be clear. I’m not saying that all libraries should be like this, just that this model is an option. Libraries can certainly be much more than what I’m describing here, and they should be. However, libraries don’t always have to strive to be their full incarnation 100% of the time. Just like a small neighborhood branch probably doesn’t have an extensive collection of periodical back issues, so my hypothetical cafe library could shed some library baggage to free it to explore new territory.
And Pete exclaims: Right on dude, right on!
The next stop for the carnival is at A Passsion for ‘Puters on February 18th and they are on top of things and already have a call for submissions posted. Remember, participation is the key to keeping the carnival on the road, so be sure to submit early and submit often!