Archive for June, 2008

Goodbye Mr. Carlin

George Carlin passed away yesterday. This makes me sad. Carlin was a comedic and linguistic genius as well as a defender–or perhaps practitioner is a better word — of free speech. Probably best known for his bit on the seven dirty words, Carlin shocked, but did not need to shock, to be funny.

His mind was brilliantly attuned to the absurdities of life, and his gift for language and physical humor allowed him to reflect those absurdities back to us in a way that both challenged and tickled our sensibilities.

George Carlin touched me. Literally. In college I was with a group that brought him to Rutgers for a performance . Before the show began I was charged with guarding his dressing room. The door opened and I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“Hey Buddy”.
“Yes Mr. Carlin”, I replied.
“Where’s the rest room?”
“Right down the hall to the left, Mr. Carlin.”
“Thank buddy.”

As “brush with greatness” stories go, perhaps this doesn’t make the top 10, but I was touched by his gentle manner and the way he called me buddy. I remember a lot of his material that night, but one of my favorite bits was his take on license plates:

  • New Hampshire’s license plates say ‘Live Free … or DIE!!’ I don’t think I want to live in a state that actually mentions death right on their license plates. At the other end of the spectrum is Idaho’s license plates – they say ‘Famous Potatoes.’ I don’t know, I think that somewhere between ‘Famous Potatoes’ and ‘Live Free or Die’ the truth lies. And I think it’s closer to ‘Famous Potatoes.’

Goodbye Mr Carlin, and thanks for all the laughs.

June 23, 2008 at 10:36 am 2 comments

Michael Stephens Interview with John Blyberg

If you haven’t read it already, get thee over to ALA TechSource and read Michael Stephens’ interview with John Blyberg. Lots of good stuff–I’m sure I’ll be returning and re-reading this piece for inspiration in the future. A points that jumped out at me (quotes are from John unless otherwise noted):

  • I’ve come to realize of late that if a change in library services, technology-based or otherwise, isn’t well grounded in our core values and mission, it just looks funny. (Michael)

  • [I]nformation use has become an expression of self–that’s not something libraries ever accounted for. When I talk about this, I refer to it as the “information experience” because, for the growing number of us who participate in the hive, we build our own network of information and interaction that accompanies us through our lives. We literally construct highly-personalized information frameworks and place a huge amount of personal reliance upon them. Ten years ago, this wasn’t the case.
  • It’s true that we are the voice of authoritative knowledge, but we can package that in ways that are not so paternalistic and present ourselves as partners in discovery. None of this requires technology, but technology has become the nexus of collaboration.

John also discusses how the Darien Library is big on Danny Meyer’s book Setting the Table, which defines and makes a powerful argument for the value of hospitality. In one of those weird bloggy synchronicities, I randomly went from reading the TechSource post to Char Booth’s Infomational post, “Manners v. Hospitality“, in which she also references Meyer’s book (which I have also blogged about in the past.) One of favorite passages is:

“In every business, there are employees who are the first point of contact with the customers (attendants at airport gates, receptionists at doctors’ offices, bank tellers, executive assistants). Those people can come across either as agents or as gatekeepers. An agent makes things happen for others. A gatekeeper sets up barriers to keep people out. We’re looking for agents, and our staff members are responsible for monitoring their own performance: In that transaction, did I present myself as an agent or a gatekeeper? In the world of hospitality, there’s rarely anything in between.”

So when you’re done soaking in the TechSource post, take a look Meyer’s book. I’ll soon have a follow-up post on hospitality and customer service based my experience with customer service training at the Trump Taj Mahal this past week.


June 21, 2008 at 10:00 am 1 comment

Follow-up on Food for Thought at R.I.T.

Jon Jiras was kind enough to send along the following information to post here at LG as a follow-up to the earlier Food for Thought interview. Congratulations to Jon and the entire Food for Thought team on a successful event and for providing a model for others to follow. The comments from participants definitely show the value of a campus library providing such a day — plus the fact that Jon says “steal this idea” with no attribution needed really rocks. I can hardly wait to see what 2009 bring for the FFT Team at R.I.T.!

Post-event update:

2008 Numbers:

Total number of session registrations: 578
Total number of people who registered online: 212
Total number of people who registered in person: 11

Total number of registrants: 223
Staff: 186 ; Faculty: 19 ; Students: 3 ; Other: 4 Unknown: 11

If you count every seat in every session (of our original room assignments) we were over 73% filled and seven of our sessions filled to at or near room capacity.

Three sessions (Create Your Own Website, Optimizing Outlook, and Facebook and RIT) each had over 50 registrants.

An analysis of first names, indicates that 80% of registrants are female.

Extra Helpings Area:
We took a 36″ x 28″ whiteboard on an easel and had one of our artistic staff members use dry erasable markers to mimic a deli menu with “specials of the day” complete with branding by the co-sponsors Online Learning and Information Technology Services. This area saw only limited use. Eighteen one-on-one appointments were made. The questions ranged from setting up access to the campus wide staff portals, resetting passwords, and how to accomplish specific tasks in MS PowerPoint, MS Word, and MS Outlook. rewarding for both the staff who manned the area and the individuals who came to it with questions. Next year, I think we will move this area to the first floor near the entrance and registration desk where it will get more visibility and we can talk it up during the registration process.


Lightning Talks:
We had five more requests to present a lightning talk than spots available, so we had to turn down some requests. We secured the use of a 30 inch Chinese gong to indicate when the 5 minutes were up. We set up a laptop with a countdown timer set to 5 minutes that someone in the front row displayed to the presenters. The talks included staff from the following departments across campus: Center for Professional Development, RIT Ombudsperson, RIT Public Safety, Online Learning, Academic Intervention and Mentoring Program, Institute Advising Office, Barnes and Noble @ RIT, Wellness Center, Office of the Registrar, and the Library. We will definitely be offering this again next year.

Since the original blog post there have been some questions asked in the comments and through other channels.

1) Is this available to “steal” with credit?

Sure, that’s why I have provided so much information about the planning and marketing. Help yourselves, no attribution necessary.

2) What were the session titles in 2007?

Social Networking with Second Life, MySpace, and Facebook
Planning and Marketing RIT Events
To Bid or Not To Bid: Auction Tips Online and Offline, or, Why Pay Retail?
New Features of Microsoft Office 2007
New Features of Microsoft Windows Vista (offered twice)
Advanced iPod
Introduction to RSS and Blogging
Introduction to Web 2.0
Origami for the Office
Image Resources to Jazz Up Presentations
Sharing Videos and Pictures on the Web
Organizing with MS Outlook: Calendaring, Contacts, Notes, and Tasks
Self-Publishing with Lulu.com
TechnoStress Relief 101
Art on Campus Walking Tour (offered twice)
Create Your Own Web Site
Optimizing Your Digital Photographs
Wildflowers and Weeds of Western New York
Become a Published Author with InDesign and Photoshop
Easy Creation of Online Tutorials with Adobe Captivate

3.) What was your budget for 2008?

The budget this year was still under $1,000. Several folks have suggested we apply for a grant from the Office of the President, or Staff Council, or some other campus entity to pay for boxed lunches. Which is probably something we will consider.

Here are some results of the 2008 post-event electronic survey:

90 of the 212 registered users filled out the survey.

82% said the Food For Thought website was very good or excellent.

96% said the registration process was very good or excellent.

92% said the variety of sessions offered was very good or excellent

94% either agreed or strongly agreed that the event timing (2nd week of summer quarter) was appropriate

97% said they are likely or very likely to attend again next year.

And here are some of the comments:

The hardest thing about attending Food for Thought was trying to decide what topics to select for the day. There was so much to choose from, great conference.

Excellent program as always. Food For Thought is simply wonderful.

Very successful, love the content, love the idea.

Thanks for another excellent Food for Thought program. It was very well organized and informative.

All the workshops I’ve attended – this year’s as well as last year’s, have been most worthwhile for me.

I know how difficult it is to pull together a day such as this and offer my congratulations for an extremely worthwhile event!!!! Great job.

I truly enjoyed the session on “Understanding RIT’s Students”. This is something that every person on this campus should be required to attend!

It’s a great day and I hope you continue offering it in years to come.

I learned SO much and I’ve used stuff I learned in several sessions already today (and it was only 3 hours ago that I finished the sessions). But it was SO much information in one shot!

Love it. Keep it going!

I am very impressed with all the library’s staff. Good job.

The 1 hour sessions were a bit short. The Lightning Sessions rocked.

More Lightning Talks!

It was very informative, I enjoyed the sessions and learned a lot.

More craft sessions.

Lightning sessions were a nice touch. Do this again.

More sessions offering RIT-specific information – there were several this year, as compared to last year. I think they are very useful.

I would like to see a continuation of topics on how RIT is embracing online communities and usage among our students. RIT & Facebook was an excellent session, I very much enjoyed attending. In general the variation of topics was great.

June 18, 2008 at 9:20 am

Firefox 3.0 Is Here (almost)

Just a quick reminder, the new Firefox 3.0 will be available to download tomorrow, June 17, 2008. The new version has been ‘improved’ to include one-click bookmarking (is it really too complicated now?), phishing and malware protection, new productivity tools, and the ability to customize.

It will be interesting to see how well the roll-out goes. Now that Mozilla and Firefox are so much better known than in the past, will the ‘improved’ product be as exciting? My own experience of products I love being ‘improved’ has been poor–generally a loved product becomes something so different I change brands. With technology, improvements and upgrades make more sense than say with deodorant, soI hope that is true with this!

They are trying to create a world record for the most software downloads in a day. If you download tomorrow as part of the world-record quest, let us know how it goes. Me, I will wait a few days….

June 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm 1 comment

Suddenly Summer

I woke up last week—to steamy, sticky, humid NJ weather. After a month of rain, finals, several graduations and birthdays for my friends and family, I had completely missed the fact that Memorial Day had passed. Suddenly it was summer. I was not prepared—too hot, no knitting, and nothing to read. I knew what I had to do—get to the library.

First get my house cooled off: My house is old and does not have central air conditioning. The window units do ok, but they could not keep up with the temps last week in NJ. Plus, my bedroom unit was so loud that even when I was cool, I could not get a decent night’s sleep. The the “2008 Consumer Reports Buying Guide” gave me the information I needed to find a quiet, efficient, and inexpensive air conditioner that has me sleeping like a baby. And of course, all of my research took place in a delightfully air conditioned building!

Next, what to knit?: You may not know this, but if I am around, somewhere close by are two sticks and some string. Yup, I am a knitter. Not just a casual knitter, but a constant companion knitter. Summer is the perfect time to get a head start on those wonderful fall sweaters and afghans you want to make for Christmas presents. However, having a huge mound of thick wool draped over your legs is a serious summer don’t. I wanted something small, portable, and preferably not wool. I found the solution: “No sheep for you : knit happy with cotton, silk, linen, hemp, bamboo, and other delights” Amy R. Singer (746.432 Sin). This delightful book is filled with loads of projects that are perfect for summer—even a few sweaters I can wear come fall!

This was the first I have been to my public library as a patron since I began working in public libraries. I forgot how great it is (and how great the air conditioning is). Three of my neighbors were getting their new book club selections–we stopped and chatted about what the heat was doing to our gardens. I took out a chick-flic DVD that my husband would never put in the Netflix queue. It was a wonderful way to spend my afternoon.

When you are a librarian, it is easy to find that all your library experiences are now work experiences. I encourage library employees to go to your hometown public library as a patron. It is a great experience and one that is easy to forget.

June 13, 2008 at 2:12 pm 2 comments

What Would You Ask Bill Gates? (and Why Doesn’t YOUR Library Website Look Like This?)

I just received an interesting email indicating that I could have the opportunity to ask a question to Bill Gates.

Well, there is a small catch (of course). I (and everyone else on the planet) can submit questions and the “best one” will be chosen and asked of Mr. Gates….

I have no idea what criteria will be used to determine “the best” question…. but I thought it might be an interesting chance to recommend a question.

Another interesting aspect of this that I didn’t realize until I followed the link, is seeing what others are suggesting…. Some are serious, some are funny.

I thought it might be interesting if it happens that A LOT of LIBRARIANS suggest questions. (Who knows, maybe one will even be the “chosen” one.) I think it would be interesting if there were so many suggestions by librarians, on this otherwise non-library-related site, that the general public (or readership of this site) noticed. I wonder what they would think. I wonder what, if anything, would happen.

We out here in library-land have had our own “dealings with” Mr. Gates and we may have some specific questions we want to ask him…..

This is all taking place over on FastCompany.com – a magazine and site I really like. In fact, I have been thinking about doing a post about their site ever since I joined it because I think it is an interesting approach and one that libraries should consider.

It is a very “social” site, but it is a specific social site and not just a general social site for the sake of being a social site, such as facebook and/or MySpace*. What I mean by this is that you can sign-in and personalize your whole experience and use of this site. There are specific categories and interests (for this site they include “leadership”, “management”, “technology”, etc. all related to business… but things that I am interested in nonetheless). When I log in this is what I see:


So I have my own area with any messages or other information I might want – and I have controls on the right to edit my profile, post, invite others, send a message, etc….

Some libraries ARE doing things like this on their website, or on another virtual presence, and I am certainly not the first or only to call for this. However, not enough are doing things like this. As I was signing up for my account on fastcompany.com I couldn’t help but think about library websites as I went through all of my options and interests…. What topics am I interested in? Which newsletters and updates would I want to receive. What do I want my “homepage” to look like when I come here and sign-in… these would all be great features on a library website.

Look at this particular part of my page on fastcompany.com:

I know it might be small here, but in that red box I’ve drawn I have all these MY things, and they literally say they are MY things: MY contacts, MY bookmarks, MY feeds, MY settings, MY network, MY recommendations, etc…. this really makes this MY page to me, for me, when I come to this site.

It also makes it much more specific, interesting and useful to me. I have already narrowed-down what aspects of this page/company I am interested in… and it is all ready for me right on the front page FOR ME when I sign-in here.

Additionally, right above that are the general topic areas for fastcompany.com – Innovation, Technology, Leadership, etc…. all interesting and attractive (to me) to click on and go right to what might be of interest. I can also easily find people, groups, and blogs, of interest to me. This provides me a chance to create an even more specific, smaller, community within this community for me. I joined the Leadership group and the Technology group here, and even started my own, called Librarians just because I am like that! ;-) I like to put libraries and librarians in wherever ‘technology’ is. So far, no one has noticed it, but I wonder what might happen if they did. (“Librarians!? Technology and business?! Huh!?”)

I also just happened to see my.barackobama.com . If you check out this site you can again see that this is the Barack Obama site for YOU. Here is what it can look like:

It can have everything for ME - My People, MY Network, My Blog, etc… I keep finding that sites like these provide people an opportunity to have a blog right within them – on this topic of interest to them. They don’t need to go to any specific blogging site (like blogger or wordpress or whatever – not that there’s anything wrong with them). These sites are providing them with blogging spots, on sites of their own interest, where others come who have the same interest, thus providing a built-in readership for their individual blog. I think a lot of people wonder who would read their blog and why. People hear about “blogs” all the time, but maybe they aren’t ready to actually GO to a blogging site, sign-up and start blogging. But maybe on a site they like and use, with an easy way to blog right there, they might just do it. This is something libraries could provide…

Maybe these are not earth-shattering things, but it seems to me that I am seeing more and more websites like these. Library websites are already, for the most part, behind the times, and as more of these sites go to more and more personalized interfaces, we don’t want to be another generation behind.

So, anyway, submit your potential question for Mr. Gates (by posting it in a comment on the post) and also take a little tour around FastCompany.com … and my.barakobama.com, if you’re so inclined.

———————————–

* Don’t get me wrong, I (of course) think you can create for yourself and have a very personalized and meaningful experience on facebook….. but again, that happens when you create a “community” within a “community,” which is what I feel happens within fastcompany.com

June 4, 2008 at 11:35 am 3 comments


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