Author Archive

Tootling one’s own horn

(this has been sitting in drafts for 3 weeks.)

File under, “Tootling one’s own horn” In this case mine. Hey look everyone, I’ve learned to talk good!

Yes, I am now an official Toastmasters Competent Communicator (aka CTM).

Toot! Toot!

Yes, posts about ALA coming soon (for now here are the pix.) And more on public speaking, doing improv, library futures.

June 29, 2007 at 8:26 pm 6 comments

8 things (Pete)

Wow, the whole blog’s been tagged. Here goes my part:

  1. I really, really, really want to visit Australia.
  2. Every year I walk around the lake outside my office and take pictures of the newly hatched baby ducks and geese. It’s hard not to smile when looking at the fuzzy goodness of baby ducks.
  3. At any given moment I’d almost certainly rather be playing tennis. It’s very Zen.
  4. Joe Versus the Vocano is one of my favorite movies and I don’t understand why it’s not more widely loved.
  5. I just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love. A wonderful book!
  6. I kept a dream journal for years, sometimes recording 10-15 dreams in a night. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…
  7. I really, really, really tend to like people. (which is good, considering how many of them there are running around out there.)
  8. Animals? Not so much. I wish I liked animals, I just usually… don’t. Which is unfortunate considering how many of them there are running around out there. (Baby ducks, and other furry youngin’s excluded, of course.)

May 31, 2007 at 12:00 pm 5 comments

Friday Fun: Are you old?

The bloggers at Library Garden have a little listerv on the side that we use to stay in touch with each other, and this week we found ourselves questioning whether or not we’re old. This was prompted by an experience Amy had at the reference desk, and I’ll let her blog about that if she chooses.

I was reminded of an old SNL monologue by Billy Crystal where he recounts his young daughter saying to him, “Daddy, is it true that Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?” To which he replies in the voice of an old Jewish man, “Let me tell you about a little band known as… THE BEATLES.”

In an effort to help Amy feel a bit younger, I posed these questions on the listserv and suggested that if she could answer ‘no’ to ten of them, she’s decidely not old. At her suggestion, I’m sharing them here. Enjoy! And a most pleasant weekend to all!

  • Did you ever have a black and white TV? One with knobs (no buttons, no remote)
  • Did you ever NOT have a microwave oven?
  • Did you ever have a car with a “choke”?
  • When you were growing up were you limited to 12 channels?
  • Do you remember when people used to smoke on planes?
  • - And in stores?
  • - And at work?
  • - And in bed?
  • Do remember when the FDA tried to ban saccharine?
  • Do you remember when laetrile was going to cure cancer?
  • Have you ever known a world without:
  • - velcro?
  • - computers?
  • - digital cameras?
  • - compact discs?
  • Do you remember when polaroid was state of the art?
  • Do you remember when tape recorder meant reel-to-reel?
  • Did you ever take a tube out of your tv and bring it down to the local hardware store to test it on a big machine to see if it needed replacing?
  • Did a teacher ever make you run things off on a mimeograph?
  • Do you even know what a mimeograph is?
  • Did you ever wear parachute pants?
  • Do you remember when PONG was the most cutting edge video game and you thought your head would explode from the joy of playing it?
  • Did you ever have a commodore vic 20? (and thought your head would explode, etc…)
  • Do you remember when we didn’t own our own phones; we rented them from Bell Atlantic?
  • Do remember when the flip phone first came out and you thought your head would explode from the joy of flipping it open?
  • Do you remember stores giving away green stamps?
  • Do you remember shopping at Two Guys? at Korvettes?
  • Do you remember when Exxon was Esso?
  • Do you remember when gas was .55 cents/gallon and people were freaked out about how expensive it was getting?
  • Do you remember waiting on long lines to gas, and you had to go on an “odd” day or an “even” day.
  • Do you remember when Iran and Iraq were our friends?
  • Do you remember listening to Bobby Sherman on 8-track?
  • Do you remember twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesonions- onasesameseedbun (and can you sing it?)
  • Do you remember when the coffee stirrers at McDonalds had little spoons on the end?
  • Do you remember when McDonalds discontinued them?
  • Do you remember WHY McDonalds discontinued them? (snort, snort)
  • Do you remember Hamilton Jordan at studio 54 (see a theme here?)
  • Do you remember ABSCAM?
  • Do you remember ME shirts (talking about McDonalds)?
  • Do you remember when Pet Rocks were the rage?
  • Do you remember Squirmels?
  • Do you remember When Evel Knievel jumped the Snake River Canyon? (well, he tried anyway)
  • Do you remember that George Hamilton movie where he played Evel Kneivel??
  • Do you remember Beer commercials with the “ya doesn’t have to call me johnson” guy?
  • Do you remember Aste Spumante commercials?

May 25, 2007 at 1:24 pm 24 comments

NYT online hotlilnks—WTF??

Lately I have been noticing that the NYT online edition makes some very, um, interesting choices when deciding which words in an article need to be hyperlinked to additional information. I guess my question to whatever unpaid intern they’ve assigned to the job is: “What are you smoking, and haven’t you read the latest research on what that does to you???”

When used sparingly and caringly, hyperlinks, the modern day equivalent of what my pappy called “footnotes”, can be our friends. (for more information on footnotes, see footnotes)

Take for instance today’s Science Times article, A Giant Takes on Physics Biggest Questions. My first thought was, “Oh boy, an article about giants! I KNEW they really existed, I just KNEW IT!!”

Guess what? The article’s not even about giants (I know, I was pissed too. I bet the same stupid intern who does the linking also writes the misleading headlines.)

OK, after I get over my disappointment that the article is actually about a bunch of fizzisists 300 feet below the ground trying to re-create the beginning of the universe by smashing tiny little particles into each other, I sit back and say, “hey, cool, I’ve been meaning to brush up on my particle physics. But I’m a little rusty on some of the basic concepts and lingo of advanced theoretical phenomenology. It sure would be helpful if the NYT would footnote — oops, I mean hyperlink — some of the hardcore scientific stuff to definitions, background information, biography, or further material that might enhance my ability to understand any of this.”

The NYT chose to go another route.

In their six page article on theoretical particle physics, this is what they thought was really important to hyperlink:

Page 1: On a page containing such terms as “European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN)”, “Large Hadron Collider”, “electron volts of energy”, “dark matter” and “dimensions of spacetime”, the only word they thought was important to hyperlink out to more information was…wait for it… Earth. Earth? EARTH???? I guess they chose to hyperlink it for those few souls who read the New York Times online that don’t know that Earth, ” is the third planet from the Sun and the only one in the solar system known to harbor life.”

Page 2: Unlinked go search terms as, “trillion-electron volt Tevatron”, “antimatter opposites”, “antiprotons”, “Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory”. And the hotlink goes to… Nobel Prize. And not even to a definition of Nobel Prize, just a link to random articles in the New York Times that mention “Nobel Prize.” Super! (a good a time as any to note that ALL hyperlinks, save perhaps paid ads, on the New York Times website only link back to—you got it— the New York Times website. Super!)

Page 3: Unlinked terms: “Cocktail party physics” (I’m guessing, not so much with the fun), “God particle”, “Higgs Boson”, electroweak force”, “Planck energy”. And the hotlink goes to… Nada. No hotlinks. Skippy the unpaid intern must have been checking his MySpace page for messages.

Page 4: Unlinked terms: “Quantum weirdness”, “supersymmetry”, “photons”, “glunino”. And the hotlink goes to… I guess Skippy’s busy twittering.

Page 5: Unlinked: “primordial fluid”, “quark-gluon plasma”, “Compact Muon Solenoid”. And the link goes to, “radiation.” Which I could actually let slide if it didn’t lead back to a bunch of random NYT articles, mostly about cancer, that mention the word radiation somewhere.

Page 6: Unlinked: “Fermilab Tevatron”, “CDF”, “UA1 and UA2″, “LHCb”. And the link goes to… Uh, nothing.

But wait! I now notice at the bottom of every page a little link that says, “Sphere: Related Blogs & Articles“. Yes! I knew the New York Times was just screwing with me! Now I’m going to click on “Sphere”* and get all sorts of related theoretical particle physics goodness. Here I go… I’m gonna do it… < CLICK! >

The good news: Sphere actually links to material outside of the NYT universe. The bad news: This is what it links to:

I’m speechless. I am without speech.

*Sphere: “Connecting Blogs and News”

May 15, 2007 at 5:27 am 10 comments

Library Futures Conference Roundup, pt 1

I had the mind-blowing pleasure of attending Imagination to Transformation, the Mid-Atlantic Library Futures Conference, on Monday and Tuesday. I have lots of notes notes notes, a swirl of ideas, and a pile of inspiration. In the interest of sharing the goodies, I’m posting my notes in a fairly raw form with limited commentary. Get it right or get it written, right?

Before I get into my notes, a big thank you to the New Jersey State Library (esp. Peggy Cadigan) , Palinet (Catherine Wilt, Ann Yurcaba, Diana Bitting), and all of the organizers for all their hard work and for doing a fantastic job! Great speakers, great space, great conference!

For those of you following along at home, conference materials and handouts will be posted on either the conference website and/or the conference blog.

OK, here are my notes from:

LIBRARY SPACE: IS IT THE LAST FRONTIER OF THE DIGITAL AGE
Jeffrey Scherer of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.

(BTW, this is a highly filtered report. Scherer talked a lot about lighting, about environmentally friendly building design, and many other fascinating topics. I highly recommend you take a look at his whole presentation when it’s posted to the conference website.)

  • The library in 2030 will be as different from today’s library as today’s library is from the library of 1930.
  • The library as a central place is the only single political agent that can affect change at all levels. Our neutrality is an important tool for us to think about.
  • The library is an agent of these four elements of our lives: live, work, play, learn.

  • We are a service profession that delivers great content, struggles with technology and frets over cash. The real decisions are made around cash. If you reflect on the fact that Americans spend as much on Halloween candy as they do on library books, you see that the $$ is there.
  • We need to stop focusing on what is not possible, and focus on what is possible. It’s important to be optimistic. If you focus energy on what’s not possible, you’ll never create the possible.

Quotes:

  • “Our eyes connect our emotions.”
  • “Love is probably the central focus of great libraries”

Guiding principle: We need to create space for spontaneity and socializing: the library as 3rd place (agora)

Carleton college did a survey of alumni: 40% of graduates married other Carleton students; 40% of those people met in the library. Why? Because they were in a different social space than if they had met at a football game. Being in a library raises our commonality; transcends our boundaries.

Applying the lessons: How to create a 3rd space:

  • Reading nooks with back to wall (people love to curl up)
  • Daylight and views
  • Computer tables (missed some of what he said on this)
  • Offer a variety of options
  • Self-controlled lighting
  • Daylight and good views
  • Gossip corners that don’t interfere with others
  • Homelike features; fireplace, natural flooring
  • Group seating that can work with one to three people
  • Privacy (acoustic and visual): people want to get information in private
  • Visibility of service points and collection
  • Come out from behind the desk and greet patrons. There has to be a transformation in this area!

Other key points

  • “I want to do it myself” Trend to self service is huge.
  • “Help is on the way” but only if you need it. (Point of need service delivery)

May 9, 2007 at 6:28 am

God bless you Mr. Vonnegut

Listen: “Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”

Listen: A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

Thanks Mr. Vonnegut. Thanks for giving me, “If this isn’t nice, what is.” and farting/tap-dancing aliens and ice-nine and Bokononism and grandfalloons. Thanks for karasses and duprasses and tralfalmadorians. Thanks for Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover. Thanks for Billy Pilgrim. Thanks for Eliot Rosewater and Wanda June. Thanks for your honesty. Thanks for your humor. Thanks for your humanity.

Busy, busy, busy…
So it goes…
Goodbye.

April 13, 2007 at 10:12 am 1 comment

Customer Loyalty? It don’t enter into it.

Maria Palma over at “Customers are Always” recently posed the question, “What would make you stay loyal to a supermarket?” The question struck me as a bit odd, and my first reaction was to think, “Loyalty? It don’t enter into it.”

I regularly grocery shop at Wegmans, Superfresh, Target, and Costco, and where I lay my green depends on a number of factors. Each store offers me something different.

I get better service at Wegmans, but it’s a longer drive. I love the self-service at Superfresh, and the fact that it’s close to my home. Also, they are one of only a handful of stores that sell Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, like, only the most perfect food on the planet. I love the prices at Target and Costco, as well as the opportunity to browse lots of non-grocery items and spend more money on stuff I don’t need, but lordy how I want it! Why just last week I went into Target to get a box of cereal and a birthday card and wound up with a new IPOD shuffle. Bliss!

But loyalty? I’m “loyal” to these establishments to the extent that they meet my needs, and not one whit more. Which is to say I’m not at all loyal. I want them, quite simply, to meet my needs. Just give me some combination of:

  • what I want
  • when I want it
  • where I want it
  • how I want it
  • at a cost I find acceptable (Cost includes price, but is not limited to it.)

Making no overt attempt to tie this post to library services. Arf!

April 2, 2007 at 10:43 pm 10 comments

One year and 200 posts later…

Today you’re invited to join us in celebrating two milestones at the Garden: It’s our one year anniversary, and by coincidence, this is our 200th post. I guess it’s appropriate that the Library Garden sprouted up during the first week of Spring!

Some random thoughts:

First, It’s been an honor and a pleasure blogging with the other regular bloggers here at LG, Janie, Robert, Marie, Amy and Ty. Old friendships have deepened, while new ones have been formed. The idea for Library Garden sprung into my head about 15 months ago, and was largely inspired by the wonderful group-blogging that was going on over at It’s All Good. A special thanks to Alice, Alane, George and Eric for showing us how it could be done. (Chrystie came along later, and a fine addition she’s made. Congrats on the LJ M&S!)

A special note of thanks also to Janie and Robert, for immediately agreeing to do the blog and encouraging me to get off my duff and actually start it. I could not imagine two more spirited partners!

I’d also like to thank Michael Stephens, Jenny Levine and Karen Schneider , three generous souls, for their early and continuing support. Thanks so very much for the link love, the encouragement, the comments, and the advice. If IAG inspired me to get going, you three inspired me to keep going.

Finally, I want to thank everyone (oh my god, this kinda sound like an Oscar speech…’my mom, sniff, my dad, snuffle…’) who actually ever reads this blog. I’m always kind of surprised when I realize that anybody is reading it. So thanks for sweeping your peepers across our page.

Looking back over the last year I see that the Garden, while not sticking 100% to our original vision, has nevertheless found it’s niche in the biblioblogosphere. My goals for the next year are to post a little more frequently and a little more personally, to do more interviews, to encourage more guest posting, and to add a new voice or two to the regular roster.

With much gratitude and appreciation in my sleepy little heart,

-Peter

March 27, 2007 at 11:22 pm 7 comments

Five Blog Meme

Nancy Dowd tagged me for the five-non-library-blogs-that-I-read-meme.

I’m going to skip a few favorites since they’ve gotten a lot of mentions already. (If you’re not already reading Creating Passionate Users, do yourself a favor and start.) So here are the non-library blogs that I read that I haven’t seen mentioned too often:

  1. Work Matters, by Bob Sutton. I came for the Weird Ideas That Work, I stayed for the No Asshole Rule. You may have heard of Bob Sutton recently as the author of the #14 Amazon ranked book,”The No Asshole Rule“. It’s unbeleviable to me that the New York Times won’t print the title of this book. (I mean, hey, they had no trouble printing the word scrotum again, and again, and again…)

  2. Horse Pig Cow: A marketing blog from Tara Hunt. Oink. Moo. Yup.
  3. Presentation Zen: Garr Reynolds on presentation design. I’ll take all the help I can get :-) Check out Ira Glass’ Tips on Storytelling. Good stuff!
  4. How To Change the World by Guy Kawasaki. I love the ideas, the interviews, and Guy’s playful, generous spirit that shines through all his posts.
  5. Service Untitled by… hmmmm, I have no idea who writes it. No matter! I love this blog for it’s very practical writing on customer service, like this article on what to do when a customer is cursing at you. (Funny, they forgot to mention the never-fail strategy, “I’m the rubber you’re the glue…”

There are my five. And I tag: Joyce Valenza, Jennifer Macaulay, Iris Jastram, Sophie Brookover.

March 26, 2007 at 3:52 pm 1 comment

Putting my head back into the OPAC

A couple of months ago I questioned whether the quality of our library OPACs figures greatly into the overall satisfaction of our customers. Something I read in the New York Times this weekend: made me reflect on that post and wonder whether I was asking the right question. This is the what got me a’ponderin’:

Almost every Web film purveyor is planning to solve this bane of the modern culture consumer “too much choice” with some form of social networking. Recommendations, user reviews, friend lists and member pages are designed to help viewers determine which films they should watch.

When I read that, I found myself making these mental substitutions:


Almost every Web film purveyor library is planning to solve this bane of the modern culture consumer “too much choice” with some form of social networking. Recommendations, user reviews, friend lists and member pages are designed to help viewers library users determine which films they should watch books, cds and film they might enjoy next.

Now I’m wondering if the question I should be asking is, “how much value could we add to our customers’ experience, how much more engaging could libraries be, if our OPACS were integrated with social software and offered reviews, friend lists, member pages and (not incidentally) filters and recommendations?”

March 19, 2007 at 10:05 am 10 comments

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