Archive for August, 2006

New Flickr Photo Pool for New Jersey Libraries

On August 23rd Sophie Brookover, Robert Lackie and I presented “Better Communication with Web 2.o Tools” for a CJRLC workshop that was attended by their executive board and other key players in the Central Jersey library region. It was a fun day and it was great to see all the ideas generated by the group on how blogs, wikis and other 2.0 tools could be used to expand services and improve communication.

Just before the lunch break Connie Paul, the executive director of CJRLC, suggested the idea that a Flickr photo pool be created to promote all libraries inNew Jersey and asked us to coordinate. The photo pool has been established and is ready for members and the addition of lots of photos that will showcase Garden State library buildings and programs.

If you have photos of New Jersey libraries, please join and contribute at

August 27, 2006 at 12:41 pm

The Wizard of Oz Meets Pink Floyd

It is 8 pm on a Friday night and I am posting live from the reference desk at the same time as we have hugely successful (but oh so simple) program happening downstairs in our community room. The room is packed to standing room only with around 150 people who are all watching and listening to a synchronized screening of the film The Wizard of Oz to the album Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.

If you have never heard of doing this before, do a quick online search and you will find that there are quite a few web sites devoted to this topic — like The Dark Side of Oz and Dark Side of the Rainbow. One of my colleagues took over the desk for 10 minutes so I could go down and experience this for myself. I got to witness the tornado scene and the landing of the house in Oz… and it was awesome (especially with our state of the art surround system cranked to full-blast and the film projected on our giant screen).

In order to achieve the desired timing and effect, you must pause the CD and not start it until the MGM lion roars for the 3rd time. The syncrhoncity really does make you pause and go “hmmmm” even though Pink Floyd will not confirm if the rumor is true that this album was designed to be an alternative soundtrack for Oz. Try it at home if you haven’t already…

Quite frankly, we are a little shocked at how many people are here on a Friday night for this event. We expected maybe 40 or 50 to show up and instead we have a full-house with people of all ages from tweens to seniors. It just goes to show that you never know what will appeal to the community you serve. Kudos to Susan Conlon, our Teen Librarian, for this unique programming idea!

August 25, 2006 at 7:08 pm 4 comments

More Social Networking News: Microsoft Strikes Deal with Facebook

Well, we heard about the deal that Google made with MySpace a few weeks ago, being the only search engine to provide search for and advertising on MySpaces’s site. Now, in related social networking news, another major search engine has struck a deal with another popular site: Facebook, which has two specific sites, one for high school and one for college-age participants. This time, Microsoft is the one who struck a deal. They will “provide and sell banner ads and sponsored ads on Facebook.” Click here for today’s New York Times article detailing the 3-year deal.

August 25, 2006 at 4:52 pm

Does Browser Use = Personality Type?

I was browsing my favorite feeds this evening, and I came across this post over at the Google Blogoscoped, simply stating “Find out what your browser reveals about your personality…”, linking to another much-commented-on post over at the Terminally Incoherent blog.

The post from Saturday evening talks about IE 5.0, IE 6.0, IE 7.0, Firefox 1.x, Firefox 2.0 Beta, Mozilla, Opera, Netscape 7 and below, Netscape 8.x, AOL Explorer, AOL Suite, Safari, Konqueror, and, yes, Lynx users! It should definitely be files under “humor” but is certainly an interesting read, and I thought I would help share it in case you missed it! I have actually used most of them, but, no, I am not telling you which one(s) my wife or I use most often and when! 😉 (you will have to read some of the original post’s comments to understand why–enjoy!)

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August 20, 2006 at 8:30 pm

Well Said!

I am bookmarking this brief interview with Dan Nova for reference in future classes, lectures, and workshops on 2.0 — it is concise and clear. In particular, I will be including Dan’s way of explaining the key difference between Web 1.o and 2.0:

You talk a lot about Web 1.0, the Internet boom in the late ’90s, and the next wave, Web 2.0. What’s the difference?
When you look at 1.0, it was really the democratization of access to information. Whether you’re sitting in a Harvard law library or a row house in Dublin or a grass hut in Africa, as long as you could access the Internet, you had access to the same information as everyone else.
And Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 is really the democratization of participation. When you think about the blogs and the wikis and the MySpaces, what’s really happening is now everyone has a voice. Your currency in the 2.0 world is only based on the strength and credibility of your writing or your argument. We’ve gone from where it used to be “If you build it, they will come.” Now it’s “If they build it, they will come.” I’m actually more excited about 2.0 than I was about 1.0.

Just thought I would share in case others wanted to bookmark it too.

August 20, 2006 at 7:18 pm 2 comments

Is virtual reference successful? Part III (Hint: yes it is)

In parts one and two I raised a series of objections to Pascal Lupien’s article in Online, Virtual Reference in the Age of Pop-Up Blockers, Firewalls, and Service Pack 2

In part three I’d like to address the end of the article where Lupien makes a case for using IM instead of standard VR software to do virtual reference. In fact, I agree with all of Lupien’s main points:

  • IM is generally free.
  • It is easy to use, from the patron’s perspective as well as on the library side
  • Unlike VR software, IM works with most computers, operating systems, and connection speeds.
  • It does not require the patron to download software or configure a browser.
  • [IM is] faster, as patrons who already use an IM system can simply add the library service to their list of “buddies” and message a librarian when they require assistance.

Not only do I find IM to be a perfectly good tool for reference work, I think it is quickly becoming (has become?) a standard mode of communication that every library should consider offering as a point of contact for their customers. Libraries, get an AIM Screenname, get a yahoo ID, sign up for Meebo, (maybe add the MeeboMe widget to your webpage) and start chatting with your customers!

But why limit IM to reference? We don’t limit the phone to reference, do we? IM is just another way for our customers to contact us. Larger libraries can give each department their own IM identities, (i.e. “extensions”) and let the customer choose which department to connect with. If a session needs to be ‘tranfered’ to another department, library staff can invite the customer and someone from the correct department into a new chat room, and viola! the session has been tranfered. So many of our customers are on their computers all day (and night) it just makes good sense to give them a quick, convenient option for contacting us.

But back to the article. Although I agree with everything Lupien wrote about the benefits of using IM to do virtual reference, he doesn’t address the key reasons many VR services don’t use it. These reasons were brought up in a great discussion about “The Future of IM” that took place on the digref listserv last month. (follow the link, then scroll down to the ‘future of IM’ thread to read the whole megillah.)

Caleb Tucker-Raymond, who expertly manages Oregon’s VR service, started the thread and summed up some of the key points in this post, excerpted below:

  • Sarah Houghton mentioned multiple librarians need to be able to monitor a single screen name.
  • Jean Ferguson said that she that her campus enterprise IM software (Jabber) doesn’t talk to commercial IM networks (like AOL).
  • Jean also mentioned the need for a solution for the patron without an account (such as, come in anonymously over the web)

All true, all true. But Sharon Morris, until recently the VR Coordinator for AskColorado (congrats on the new job Sharon!) hit the collaborative VR software nail squarely on its pointed little head when she wrote:

24/7 availability is essential to making libraries accessible anywhere, anytime on the Internet. IM at this point does not offer the extra staffing/cooperation model that makes VR such an amazing step forward for library services on the Internet. (emphasis is mine.)

VR software gives us the power to collaborate. That gives us the power to offer 24/7 service and THAT makes customers (and the press) sit up and take notice. It also gives regional and statewide VR collaboratives the ability to market a single, powerful, expectation-busting, W-O-W, library service. We don’t get opportunities like that every day. Bottom line: Beyond the fact that VR software gives us the power to offer convenient, relevant, 24/7 service, it gives us the power to change peoples’ perceptions about libraries. I would argue that we have done just that. In my book that far outweighs any of the downsides that Lupien raised about the bugginess and technical limitations of VR software. Perhaps I should say, far outweighs for now…

One final, more personal point before wrapping this up. I’m unhappy with the snarky tone I took in responding to Lupien’s article in part one, and I realize it was not productive to take such a tone. It came partly from writing much to late, while far too tired, and partly from my own deep wish for librarians to stay focused on the bigger picture of customer experience, and my perception that the article lacked that focus (whether it did or didn’t, dear reader, you may decide.) I am not trying to make excuses for my snarkiness, just offering a little self-reflection from a nascent blogger, tinged with a bit of regret. I will try to do better.

I am convinced that Pascal Lupien cares deeply about the vitality and relevance of libraries and the importance of customer experience. I recently found a copy of his presentation, (along with Lorna Rourke) Adding a Personal Touch to a Virtual World, presented at Computers in Libraries, 2006. This presentation gave me a fuller picture of Pascal Lupien’s attitudes, concerns, and values and I found myself nodding in almost constant appreciation and agreement with his work.

OK, that’s all I’ll be posting about VR for now. Back to customer service!

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August 16, 2006 at 9:44 pm 3 comments

Sherman’s Guides to Social Search–History & Players

One of my favorite bloggers/conference presenters is Chris Sherman, Executive Editor of SearchEngineWatch‘s SearchDay newsletter. He constantly comes up with useful, practical tips for search engine users and marketers, and in his SearchDay articles, yesterday and today, he presents background information on social search, why we should be interested, and who the major players are in social search arena. Below is a short post from Chris at the Search Engine Watch Blog (an interesting blog for those interested in search engine news), which summarizes and provides links to Chris Sherman’s very recent articles. I found them to be very readable and yet very descriptive of this hot topic:

“In yesterday’s SearchDay article, What’s the Big Deal With Social Search?, I looked at some of the pros and cons of adding human influences to algorithmic search results. In today’s SearchDay article, Who’s Who in Social Search, I map out the various approaches to social search and offer links to some of the key players in human-mediated search.”

I am very interested in the social search arena on the Web and already know a lot about it, but I like how he easily explains and gives examples of social search concepts and tools. If you find it a bit difficult to explain social search to colleagues and friends, I would recommend reading these articles and sharing them with those who are not quite sure what “social search” is really all about. Thanks, again, Chris!

August 16, 2006 at 9:21 am 1 comment

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