Wednesday, May 28, 2008


La loutre francaise lit les livres - sur l'estomac, bien sur!

Thing 23: Fin

OK, so this isn't French cinema, but the otter cannot help its Frenchness!

This Web Challenge has been like a buffet - I'm so stuffed I'm not sure I can remember what I ate!

I'm not sure I had a favorite. I liked Library Thing and am trying to think of how to use it easily. So many times when I am selecting, I look at a title and think, ooh - that would be great for teens, or oooh - I need to buy that for myself, or oooh- that relates to 3 other titles I've bought in the last year. I am always looking for an easy way to store that kind of info without having to go 32 clicks away from what I am primarily doing. I'm not sure Library Thing would actually save me lots of time in that regard, but I do like the organization possiblities. I also really enjoyed Google Docs - I am definitely going to try to think of ways to incorporate interactive documents into my work. That might save me a few trips up and down the stairs - although I'm not sure that's a good thing!

My least favorite by far was Technorati. I just didn't think its search functions were tight enough to be specific, and even when I found interesting results I was still getting frustrated over all of the time I was spending "browsing" them. I just don't see too much immediate need for blog-searching at this point. I almost feel more comfortable with links from blogs I already enjoy, rather than searching them.

I think the Library should be using some of these mediums to put our staff expertise in front of our customers. I really enjoyed the blogging experience (which I'm sure you can tell by my tiny, concise postings, hee hee). I am really hoping to continue in some format to do some marketing of my beloved non-fiction books. Maybe not the most appropriate forum for the French Otter (Sacre Bleu! You Otter Read This?!), but I will find another use for him - stay tuned!

I haven't shared any adventures of the French Otter with my posse, yet, but you can bet they will be assaulted with my booktalking if I succeed in launching it!

Au revoir, Web Challenge, we'll always have Toms River!

Thing 22: NetLibrary

I took a look at the non-fiction titles on NetLibrary, and was very happy to see a healthy use level on them! Many titles were only available to put on my waiting list, so lots were in use. I chose one that I've been meaning to pick up for a while now, Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup.

Now, sit back while I wax poetic and booktalk! Kate's husband was a Maine state trooper with a goal of becoming ordained as a minister but was killed in a car accident. So, Kate became ordained and now chaplains during search and rescue missions for the Maine Warden Service. Imagine being the person who has to figure out what to say to someone who is suffering through the disappearance of a loved one, wondering whether they'll be found and what condition they'll be in if located. That is Kate's work.

I listened to the intro, where Kate talks about learning Greek during her divinity studies. She talks of the religious idea of "in the beginning there is the story," and goes on to contrast her minister's role as "storyteller" and her confessor's role to guard the privacy of all to whom she ministers. Hello, this librarian is hooked! I had to stop the recording, however, when chapter 1 opened with a missing 6-year-old girl. I could already feel some tears welling up, so that will have to wait until I'm not out on the public floor of the library - can't wait to get my MP3! I didn't even check the title back in yet, because I am anxious to continue listening. Kate narrates this title herself, and has an enchanting down-to-earth articulateness about her. (We own it in print, too, in case I've talked anyone else into reading it!)

I found the download to work quite smoothly, after KK righted an ailing PC Plus and got OverDrive access, that is! I only downloaded part 1 of my book (don't know if that's an option for all titles, but for this one it was), but the download went much more quickly than I anticpated, anyway. I had tried this 2 years ago on a staff PC in BKY, and it was like pulling teeth. Looking back, I'm thinking it must have been the downloading of Overdrive that took so long, perhaps combined with a smaller memory on an older PC. This time it was very quick and straightforward, and I am definitely looking forward to using it more with my MP3!

On an added note, I found Kate's juxtaposition of "storytelling" and "storykeeping" (confidentiality) to be particularly appropriate for the Web Challenge. I think this will be a huge issue for libraries as we pursue 2.0. Web 2.0 is all about the open interaction, whereas libraries have always clung to the charge to protect user confidentiality. I see many thought-provoking issues ahead!

Thanks, Kristin, for making my download possible!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thing 21: Finding & Listening to Podcasts

I love podcasts! I ran into some Canadians last week, and listening to them made me really miss being close to Canada. I went to college about 12 miles from Ontario and love to travel to Canada - especially Quebec. Must be the call of my French-Canadian ancestors! One of the best things about being geographically close to Canada was getting Canadian radio and TV stations. I fondly recall watching the 1996 Winter Olympics on Canadian TV - I found that their commentators are SOOOOooo much less annoying than ours!

So, I listened to some podcasts from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and am looking forward to listening to some in French in the future to sharpen up my French listening skills. Just in case I ever need to talk to a true loutre francaise.

I had some trouble making a link to my chosen podcast, so I did an enclosure link, which means that if you click on the title to this post you will link to a fascinating history of Quebec City. Vive le nord!

Thing 20: YouTube, Moi, and Otters with Good Real Estate

Well, here are some otters who are lucky enough to live in Paris. If you watch you can even hear some zoo-goers exclaim with delight over "les loutres." I just love how they swim, all bendy and swirly and sleek!

I am a big fan of YouTube. Possible another forum for library training - a la quick video instruction of how to do a catalog search? Beaucoup possibilities.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thing 19: Web 2.0 Awards

I found my next favorite tool - www., a web 2.0 award-winning mapping service. You can create your own maps and then share them (or not share them). So, you can send a friend a map to your house that marks not only your casa, but all of the coffee drive-throughs in your neighborhood, too! Or we could post a map of all of our branch locations - a nice county map with landmarks for all of our buildings, for those intrepid explorers wanting to complete our branch tour (and maybe that would be a cool initiative - a little passport that can get stamped and a prize for any patron who visits each library in the county - hmmmmmm....).

Anyway, I love maps (does that somehow go with the number-loving?!), and I will definitely be exploring the joys of wayfaring as I have already started my (free) account. It would be cool to have the option to post a map for our programs - or, now that I think of it, a map of places to park for anyone visiting the TR location. Sha-zam!

Thing 18: Web Apps

At first I was thinking, what would be the big difference between online collaboration on a wiki and an app like Google Docs - I'm a little slow, but I finally caught on: format and style! Being a number-phile, I especially like the idea of collaborative spread sheets. I am in the midst of visiting different branches to look at their collections. It would have been great to do that scheduling on a collaborative spread sheet and thus avoid waiting to hear from some people at the expense of those from whom I got fast responses.

Since I am not "on the floor" too often anymore, I am also wondering about Reference stats - I know they are submitted online now, but are we using Google Docs? That could be a good use.

I was really getting a lot of good ideas looking at the testimonials in the Google Docs tour, but I had to stop reading when I got to the one about the guy who is basically doing his mother-in-law's job for her thanks to Google Docs! GRRRRrr!

My main thought for these types of applications is T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G. OCL could have a whole set of basic training for new employees using Google Docs. How to fill out a Request for Materials slip. How to fill in a voucher and/or purchase order. How to teach a basic Internet skills class. Consistent system-wide trainings that don't have to be re-invented in each location. Could be huge!