Archive for July, 2009
We’ve been able to use free computers and Internet as a selling point for library services over the past few years. It has led to an increase in patron visits for most libraries and continues to be a major service provided for many patrons. Overall, the only major problem patrons have with Internet usage in libraries is the ability to customize the computer to their liking (i.e. download/update software, files, etc.).
Wi-fi is a nice addition as it allows patrons more access to more content and the ability to download software without having to worry about the library policies and security settings. Considering the latest drop in laptop prices and the rise of the netbook, wi-fi is becoming a major sell for many of our patrons.
But what happens when wi-fi becomes commonplace?
The affordability of laptops and other wi-fi enabled devices becomes more negligible each day. Just this past weekend the Trenton-area circulars advertised laptops for under $200. Wi-fi cellphones may still cost a bit right now but two years down the road, when it’s time to re-sign your cellphone contract and get the free upgrade, don’t be surprised is wi-fi is standard or available on the lower end models. Even personal gaming systems have wi-fi capabilities; no upgrades required.
The point is, the ability to access wi-fi is already here, the thing holding it back is where to find free wi-fi… and that is quickly growing.
This past week, my family and I took a vacation to Deep Gap, North Carolina. Don’t feel bad if the name doesn’t ring a bell, its major selling point is that it is in the middle of nowhere and hard to find. That said, the recreation center had free wi-fi for all visitors and residents. The Burger King we stopped into to let the girls burn some energy on the playground also had free wi-fi for all its customers. As a matter of fact, we probably had more difficulty getting a good cellphone signal than we did finding a wi-fi signal (this was certainly the case in the Blue Ridge Mountains).
Many companies, social organizations and eateries are finding out what most libraries know; free wi-fi brings in more people and that means more sales. Going to Google and typing in “Free wi-fi New Jersey” pulls up several sites dedicated to finding free signals. Some of the sites even catagorize the signals by establishment (restaurant, hotel, spas).
I’m happy to say that libraries still seem to be the leader of free wi-fi areas for most of these sites.
This is awesome on so many levels that I just had to share:
I found out about this video from Sophie Brookover via Facebook. Sophie reports that she is planning to run the race — and perhaps even throw the race all for the cause.
I love it when a clever fundraising idea is promoted so brilliantly and I hope that this will be a huge success for Brett Bonfield and the teens who need a space to hang out at the Collingswood Library.
Click here for more info on the 5K Race and Collingswood Book Festival.
UPDATE 7/28/09, 3:00 PM: Check out Jenny Levine’s post on changes coming to ALA Connect–esp. regarding improvements in notifications!
I’m excited, hopeful, and joyously optimistic about ALA Connect, ALA’s hybrid social network, bulletin board, listserv, calendar, project management tool.
The more I use the ALA Connect, the more I realize that selectively turning on Email Notifications is key (for me) to integrating Connect into my professional life. This ensures that updates (the ones I want anyway) are pushed out to me, which is important as I only tend to pay attention to whatever wanders into my field of vision…
I’m appealing to you, dear reader; help ALA Connect thrive and grow by logging in and turning on your notifications too–and help spread the word by posting this attractively designed and competitively-priced banner ad (in both border and non-border stylings you’ll notice) on your blog, homepage, or social network of choice. Extra points for tattooing directly upon your body. No pictures please, I’ll take your word for it.
Another feature I’ve found useful for keeping up in Connect is the ability to view my unread messages through the “My Unread” page and feed. Links to your “My Unread” content can be found on the lower right of the ALA Connect page under “Community Notifications”. (These links will work for you if you’re logged in to ALA Connect–otherwise you’re seeing “access denied” messages.)
To learn more about ALA Connect, check out the these great video tutorials created by Emerging Leaders Group I (aka Melissa Dessent, Ahniwa Ferrari, Jaime Hammond, Jennifer Jarson, Jason Kucsma). The videos are in the process of being uploaded to ALA Connect proper.
Thanks everyone, see you on ALA Connect!
I’m in Chicago in order to attend what must be my 20th American Library Association annual conference. I have lost count of how many annuals I have attended. My first was Los Angeles in 1983 when my family began accompanying my mother, who is also a librarian, to the conference for our summer vacation. LA was just the first of many other conferences. I also went to Dallas, New Orleans, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco (a couple of times), Chicago (also a couple of times) and several others that I have since forgotten.
ALA meant only one thing to me when I was growing up: free stuff. I looked forward to the seemingly endless rows of exhibits that promised loads of goodies to bring home. At first one of my parents would accompany me up and down the aisles but I was eventually allowed to walk through the exhibits by myself. As long as I met my parents at the previously established meeting time, I could spend as much time as I wanted looking at all of the books. At the time, it never occurred to me that I might one day attend the conference as a librarian.
Not long after I started library school in 2002, I asked my mother (as I did every year) if she was going to attend the annual meeting in Toronto. After she replied that yes, she was planning to attend, I remember imagining yet another experience of walking up and down the exhibit aisles filling my bags with swag. Then it slowly dawned on me that the upcoming conference would be an entirely different experience–I would be attending ALA as a soon-to-be-librarian. I would actually have to go to meetings and presentations!
My experience in Toronto was completely different from any of my previous conferences. I spent a lot of time walking or riding the bus from one meeting to another and I barely had time to go to the exhibits. People sometimes say that they find ALA overwhelming and before attending my first conference as a librarian, I didn’t really understand what they meant. How could a place full of free books be overwhelming? Toronto thoroughly disabused of this idea. Just figuring out which meetings and presentations to attend can take quite a bit of time and energy.
Now I am once again attending ALA in a new role. As a doctoral student, only a few of the meetings mesh with my particular research interests. This means that I feel quite a bit of pressure to attend all relevant meetings even when they are scheduled at the same time. I am constantly looking at my printed schedule to make sure that I don’t miss anything. The exhibits are, of course, secondary.
Before becoming a librarian myself, I had no idea that there were many librarians out there who were quite disappointed with ALA and its work. My mother always seemed recharged and energized for her work after attending a conference. Of course, this is the essence of some librarians’ problems with ALA. What does one get out of being a member other than the conference?
For me, being a member of ALA reminds me that I am part of a larger community. Before returning to school, I worked in a small theological library — a setting that is very different from a public library. By reading through my American Libraries every month, I was reminded that even though my library had a specialized mission, we were still part of the wider library world. Now that I am a student again, I feel even further removed from librarianship. Attending this conference has helped me remember why I am in a library and information science doctoral program. When I am in the McCormick Center, surrounded by 27,353 other librarians, I recall that my research is not just for my own edification but that it will also aide the profession as a whole.
By attending the conference, I am reminded that even though I no longer work in a library I am still a librarian. I still have one more day of running around the conference center to attend meetings and racing through the exhibits. And, like my mother, I hope to return to New Jersey from this conference recharged and energized for my classes in the fall.
Are you like me and have a pile of books you’ve gathered this year and haven’t had time to read? Will you get to them all this summer? Maybe you participated in the summer reading program at your Public Library as a child and loved all the incentives, prizes and competition. I was a fixture in Mary Jacobs Library in Rocky Hill each summer. That’s where the pattern of a summer reading plan started. I’m hoping that even just writing about this is the incentive I need to start finishing more books each summer. I’m excited to see that Adult summer reading programs are popping up all over. Library websites and Facebook pages allow the programs a great online presence and wider audience. I may have found the answer to my summer reading dilemma.
For me, summer seems to be the perfect time to catch up on reading- At least in theory. As a school librarian, I have my summers free (well, I’m using that word loosely- Those that don’t have summer jobs like most of us are free, that is) from my full-time work. So, every year, when school gets out in June, I set out with a noble plan to read hundreds of books before Labor Day.
My initial strategy for summer reading-
• Gather reading lists, YA, Adult, and non-fiction.
• Read recommendations on Shelfari, and pages for “grown-up” suggestions, like Katherine Day’s suggestions, found at http://tinyurl.com/nehv2a
• Gather the piles of books I’ve gathered at ALA and BookExpo that I plan to read and then give away as prizes or promotion at school.
Then what happens?
I start my first summer book with high hopes and optimism and often finish it right away, then I get 2 or 3 going, eventually getting distracted by a fourth and next thing I know, I’m sitting on the beach in mid-July with unfinished books in my beach bag, and enough frustration to last until Thanksgiving. Would a summer reading program designed for busy adults help? I think so. Don’t you get more done on a day when you have several things scheduled? Time and project management are essential to my productivity. It sounds rigid, but I end the day much more satisfied when I accomplish more. That’s why I think summer reading program for adults are worth promoting.
When I make my reading plan in June, I never factor in that I’ll be doing outdoor activities every sunny day, traveling as much as my job allows, repairing my house, cleaning my garage, taking care of family, and generally just trying to get enough energy back to start another school year in September. Sometimes I need the freedom from so much “input/output” that goes on during the year that reading another “heavy” book in the summer might not be what the doctor ordered. When did my reading excuses become so “adult”? Gerie Madak posted this quote in reference to Bridgewater’s Adult Summer Reading Program, “Too often adults deny themselves the pleasures of reading for fun. They’re so busy taking care of everyone else that they begin to regard reading as a self-indulgent pastime they don’t have time for because of chores, appointments, and deadlines.” I’d like to find the happy medium between the guilt of not reading and the gluttonous satisfaction of reading more books than someone else. These programs aren’t designed to be competitive, they’re more like open book clubs for the summer months.
So, in creating this post for LG in early July, I’ve decided to stop being so hard on myself and celebrate each book I do finish OR start! I’ll do more walking, yoga, and reading for pleasure. Unlike my students, I don’t HAVE to read a certain number of books to complete a summer reading project. Unlike the summer reading program I promote in school, I won’t win a prize for reading 100 hours at my public library (that’s changed in many places and I honestly did not know that until I started researching for this post). Since I began writing this, I’ve learned about some great adult summer reading programs. Like a book club, I think it’s great to have deadlines and discussion when you’re reading. The prizes are cool, too, don’t get me wrong- like restaurant and movie gift certificates, and of course, books!
My Summer Reading Tips
- Make a “wish list” of books you’d really like to read, or mark up Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust with all your must-reads, like a book bucket list
- Read a book about a hobby, new or otherwise
- Hang out at the library with your kids or friends — you’ll be inspired
- Join a successful Summer Reading program for adults, like the one in Seattle (Their summer reading Facebook page: http://tinyurl.com/nrga4h) or Burlington County (http://tinyurl.com/mjzge8)
Happy summer- Happy Reading!
I’d love to know more about dynamic summer reading programs for adults, and if you have your own plan that you’d like to share.