Archive for June, 2006

Giving our Summer Reading Club a "2.0 Twist"

Princeton Public Library (aka MPOW) started a summer reading club for adults in 2000. The name of the reading club changes from time to time, but the basic concept stays the same — those who sign up receive a kit with some goodies (book bag, book lists, pencil, etc) and then they read what interests them and submit reviews to the library. For each review submitted they are entered in to a raffle for cool prizes donated by local merchants. It has proven to be a perennial favorite that many customers look forward to every year.

Our first year we received most of our reviews via paper forms. We took as many reviews as we could and made a lovely static web page with them: Princeton Reads 2000

By last year, we were receiving most of our reviews via email, but we were still posting them in the same old 1.0 format — a static web page.

Well, I am pleased to unveil our new 2.0 twist for 2006: The BookLovers Wiki

We just started registration on the June 15th and we have already had 7 reviews to enter! Currently, the wiki is partially populated with a few older reviews (which will be removed) to get it going .. but I was so excited to have this officially off and running with some new reviews that I just had to blog about it.

We have 4 of us who have worked on the content and design to this point. We have some volunteers lined up who will be doing a lot of the data entry and coding. We are not giving out the wiki password to everyone who registers just yet as we want to get our feet wet with running this first and decide where to go from there. But we are going to encourage discussion and the front page of the wiki will get fresh content frequently.

I must give kudos to Sue, our Readers Services Librarian, for giving Bob and Caroline and I permission to run with this and create the wiki for the reading club. She trusted us to give the reading club a 2.0 twist and we are all excited to see where this will lead us.

More updates to follow…

June 18, 2006 at 11:19 pm 3 comments

Friday Fun: The I/O Brush

It ain’t new but it’s new to me–and just the friday fun I needed to ease me into the weekend. Enjoy!

Direct Link:

More info at:

June 16, 2006 at 1:20 pm 4 comments

Request for John Illiff Memorial Podcast

My friend, and fellow-blogger, and fellow NJLA IT Member-At-Large, Tyler, The Rock and Roll Librarian, has the following posted on his blog:

I received a very nice email from Karen Iliff today, widow of John Iliff. She thanked me for the efforts in trying to create a memorial podcast in her husband’s name. She also asked if there was a way to put these on CD as a keepsake.

I would like to give everyone one last chance to visit the Iliff Podcast Memorial and leave a message before I burn the CD. I think it would be an incredible gift to provide Karen. The number is 206-339-7322.

I can admit that leaving a message felt a little weird because I felt like I had to say the right thing. Please, don’t worry about it, it really doesn’t matter. The point is to just take a moment and relive a fond memory with John. Remember, no matter how it sounds, John would be the first one to smile simply for the fact that you made a podcast!

For information on John, please see here.

June 15, 2006 at 11:48 am

Time to abandon ship?

A colleague of mine forwarded me this article a week or so ago that was printed in The Register and I have been meaning to blog about it ever since. Actually, I did blog about it last week, but it got lost during the Blogger crash last Thursday. So, here is round two of the post… considerably shortened because I have a time crunch at hand as I prepare to head to New Orleans for ALA next week.

Kelly Martin is urging us to ditch email because “It’s dangerous, insecure, unreliable, mostly unwanted, and out-of-control” and I have to agree to a certain point with much of what he has to say. Each day I waste valuable time (time that could be spent doing something productive) contending with a literal deluge of spam and scams in the inboxes of my various email accounts. I have spent countless hours trying to figure out how to filter or stop the unwanted messages, but each solution is full of pitfalls and only lasts for a short time (or so it seems) before the deluge begins again.

Martin points out that we have been using the same email protocol for the last 25 years (SMTP) and that in essence it is time to throw out the baby with bathwater. He states: “Email in its current form will never, ever, ever be spam-free. It will never be virus-phishing-scam free. It will cost companies and individuals billions of dollars in theft, criminal activity, and the reality of spam will grow from the 50-70 per cent it is today to 90 per cent of all traffic… Email will never be secure, because it was never designed to be secure”.

We are having terrible spam issues at MPOW in recent weeks. Our email addresses are too vulnerable, especially with us offering email reference services. How can we continue to make our email addresses accessible to our customers and still have any hope of maintaining some control over the influx of spam? We have tried a myriad of solutions and (again) none are ideal and none work for long.

On a slightly related tangent, I read this article and made a connection to recent posts in the biblioblogosphere about the need for certain ILS vendors to ditch their current products and start from scratch. Although the situation is somewhat different with email, the message is the same — you can only put patches and add-ons to old technology and protocols for a limited time before it becomes completely obsolete and truly time to abandon ship.

My colleague commented that her favorite quote from the Martin article was:

All the work spent fixing email is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Email is a sinking ship and it should be abandoned…

I have to concur, but I also think that fixing email might never be possible. Yet, I hold hope that ILS vendors will listen to the conversation that is occurring and consider that it might time to start from fresh to give their customers what they need and want.

June 15, 2006 at 10:45 am 2 comments

Catching Up

Been super busy lately. Superer and busier than usual even such that I haven’t found the time (ok, let me own this, haven’t made the time) to comment on some really amazing posts out in the blogosphere. Here’ s a sampling of what’s been blowing my mind lately, some old, some new. My intention is to write more fully on all of this soon. I’ve added these to a new “must read” section on the sidebar of the blog.

  • Karen Schneider’s “The User is Not Broken”

    The most significant help you can provide your users is to add value and meaning to the information experience, wherever it happens; defend their right to read; and then get out of the way.

    Your website is your ambassador to tomorrow’s taxpayers. They will meet the website long before they see your building, your physical resources, or your people.

  • Darlene Fichter’s thoughts on “Radical Trust”

    Radical trust is about trusting the community. We know that abuse can happen, but we trust (radically) that the community and participation will work. In the real world, we know that vandalism happens but we still put art and sculpture up in our parks. As an online community we come up with safeguards or mechanisms that help keep open contribution and participation working.

  • Wandering Eyre’s “Why my OPAC Sucks”

    3,11,15) It will not correct my bad spelling

    8) If I do not type “U.S. News and World Reports” in exactly that fashion with the periods and spaces, my OPAC thinks we do not have this item

    16) With all my practice and training, sometimes I can not find things I know we have, how can I expect my users to find anything?

  • John Blyberg’s “ILS Customer Bill of Rights”

    I envision a library Bill-of-Rights with four simple, but fundamental must-have’s from your ILS.
    1) Open, read-only, direct access to the database.
    2) A full-blown, W3C standards-based API to all read-write functions
    3) The option to run the ILS on hardware of our choosing, on servers that we administer
    4) High security standards

  • Karen Schneider’s “How OPACS Suck Part 3: The Big Picture”

    The fundamental problem with today’s library catalog is that it suffers from severe literalism. Even with a few bells and whistles, today’s OPAC is a doggedly faithful replica of the card catalog of yore. This isn’t a failure of any one vendor; by and large they’re delivering what librarians think they want. It’s a larger failure of vision.

  • Karen Schneider’s “How OPACS Suck Part 2: The Checklist of Shame”

    But think about your own catalog: are these features available? It may well be, as some users wrote me privately, that the OPAC (as separate software purchased by local libraries) is near death’s door. I think that’s very likely. But if so, anything else we use for a catalog—who’s betting on Open WorldCat?—will need good search functionality as well, or it too will suck, only more consistently and on a much larger scale. In the end, as uber-librarian and user champion Marvin Scilken told me many times, the bottom line is public service.

  • Karen Schneider’s “How OPACS Suck Part 1: Relevance Rank (Or the Lack of It)”

    The users who complain that your online catalog is hard to search aren’t stupid; they are simply pointing out the obvious. Relevance ranking is just one of many basic search-engine functionalities missing from online catalogs. NCSU worked around it by adding a search engine on top of its catalog database. But the interesting questions are: Why don’t online catalog vendors offer true search in the first place? and Why we don’t demand it? Save the time of the reader!

  • Dan Russell’s “Getting People to Decide”
  • Here’s the bottom line: Be specific in your help and support. Be very clear. And get your users to decide to do something with your product. Don’t let it just lie there and go out of their attention—get your users engaged!

June 14, 2006 at 9:52 pm 2 comments

Save Your Spot!

I hope you saved the date because registration is now being accepted for the 4C’s roadshow with Michael and Jenny.

Princeton Public Library has teamed up with CJRLC to bring you an amazing deal — a 4.5 hour workshop that includes lunch all for a mere $20! Registration is limited to 50, so register early to save your spot.

Essential Details:
PDF of flyer (includes registration form)
Directions to Princeton Public Library

Questions? contact me: jhermann at princetonlibrary dot org

June 14, 2006 at 3:33 pm

Cool quote on wikipedia

From a cool conversation that took place at The Hyperlinked Society Conference put on by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Joho the Blog: [annenberg] Hyperlinking in Web 2.0: “Wikipedia is more highly read in Germany than in America, and [the German encyclopedia publisher] Brockhaus’ sales are up 30%. Maybe it’s because Wikipedia reminds people that encyclopedias are cool.” Jimmy Wales

June 9, 2006 at 6:03 pm

PayPal Mobile for Libraries?

Here is a great example of thinking about technology and how it can be applied to libraries!

Kate Sherrill, Librarian at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana – Evansville, posted this on a listserv I am on (copied here with permission):

“I just signed up for PayPal Mobile, so then I was thinking, what is this good for? Here’s an idea: Your library has a PayPal account, a patron needs to check out materials, but has something he needs to pay. He doesn’t have enough cash on him, you don’t take credit/debit cards, and he doesn’t have his check book. He whips out his phone, PayPals you the money via text message, you instantly receive a confirmation email, the fine is paid, he gets his stuff and goes away happy. How awesome would that be?

Great thought process!
– New Technology
– What’s it good for? How does it help make our patrons’ lives easier?
– Aha-moment!
– Everyone’s happy!

Of course, with this particular idea, there may be a few issues:

1) most libraries generally discouarge cell-phone use, so the patron may have to step outside


2) I believe PayPal has fees associated so the patron and/or library may sacrifice some payment for fees

BUT maybe the service and convenience is worth it!

This way of thinking is just what we need to be doing in the library world and reminds me of what Leslie Burger was saying this past April at the NJLA conference. She said that she is always thinking about the library. When she reads the paper or sees something in the news she asks herself, how could this apply to the library? Or, how will this impact library services and library users?

I really try to think this way and I think that Kate’s comment was a great example of this!

So, are any libraries currently using PayPal in any way – to collect payments, accept donations or other!?

More on PayPal Mobile here and here.

June 6, 2006 at 3:11 pm 3 comments

Shameless Self-Promotion

Tonight I will be the featured speaker along with my colleague Bob Keith for PPL’s monthly Tuesday Technology Talk. We will be demonstrating and talking about several Web 2.0 applications in a program we call Fantastic Freebies for Everyone.

I recently started the Tuesday Technology Talks @ PPL blog to further promote this program, which has been a mainstay of our technology training program since October 2000.

Here is the real “shameless self-promotion”, U.S. 1 newspaper published a lengthy article, From the Internet: Great Free Stuff, that features interview with both Bob and myself. It looks like we should get a good turn out tonight!

June 6, 2006 at 11:01 am 2 comments

"Hi ! No, I can’t help you"

Have you noticed that sometimes when you approach people at a service desk, you get the impression they don’t really want to be there or to help you? The words they say may be fine, but the “no” is in their body language. At the reference desk, we may not even notice that we do it — we fold our arms, roll our eyes, or lean to one side as if we’re waiting for a bus when someone asks a question, perhaps one we’ve heard hundreds of times. I believe that although it may be subconscious, and may even affect our users subconsciously, it still has an effect.

I’ve personally been witness to fast food counter clerks, department store return agents, and reference librarians who — when a patron approaches the desk — unconsciously says “no” as their first response to the person’s question. Sometimes they’ll also shake their heads side to side or squint. All of these actions, even if it’s subsequently the best reference transaction in the world, give off the wrong first impression. It even happens in virtual reference; this must be just a bad habit some of us have fallen into.

Now that I’ve noticed this, I’ve been trying to adapt. . .sometimes forcing myself to smile, nod, and even say “yes” or “sure” even as soon as the first few words of a question are uttered. I know I’m overcompensating here, but maybe it will level off with practice! When someone says “maybe you can help me. . .” I want to insure that I say something positive in response, quickly, and with appropriate body language that communicates the same. We can become masters of subliminal advertising!

June 2, 2006 at 8:09 am 4 comments

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