Tuesday, April 28, 2009

#22 Audio books--any day, any time

Did I find a title that I'd like to listen to? Get real....I found many titles--mysteries, non-fiction, fantasy, children's and young adult just for a start. The instructions for the Overdrive Media Console were easy to follow and I liked that there are Hot Off the Press and New Titles sections for easy browsing. But you really do have to use the Overdrive lists to get a complete look at the collection. I tried searching for them in our regular catalog and there isn't an option to limit your search to these. I tried a keyword search for an author's last name and Overdrive and got good results for some, partial results for another (Baldacci) and "No entries found" for another author (Beaton) even though I'd already found several titles for both in the Overdrive list. One very helpful feature is the Wish List function--I won't have so many titles on post-it notes and scraps of paper to lose.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The wonderful world of podcasts

I experimented with all three recommended podcast directories and once again was amazed by the variety of topics. I found podcasts of training classes that could possibly be used for Con Ed purposes. The Contra Costa Library (in California) is one of several who broadcast stories read by librarians, and there are several sites with books read aloud that would appeal to older listeners...a boon for those who are visually impaired. Those sites seem to use classic stories that have expired copyrights. The NY Times Book Review Section does daily podcasts, as do the major news networks, PBS, and NPR. Some cities have podcasts of their city council meetings. I signed up for a podcast from PBS, "The 90 Second Naturalist" for my personal enjoyment.

Online videos

I started out searching through the catagories on YouTube but found I had more luck with the search feature. One of my cousins (who lives in a rural, knitting deprived town) taught herself to knit using the videos on YouTube. I looked at some origami videos and tried one project. In many ways it was easier to follow the online demonstration than the diagrams in an origami book. I also looked at some auto repair videos that were helpful. Of course, these things vary by the quality of the video.

(Thanks to Sue and Tim for help getting this embeded in my post.)

I found this video by searching for fingerplays for children. BE AWARE: if you search just for the term fingerplays, you will get some results that are of a more personal nature. Years ago TCCL made VHS tapes of children's librarians doing preschool storytimes as a training tool for new hires. I'm wondering if we could do the same thing with YouTube videos and embed them in a file on the Youth Services page. Also, I searched for videos of Sherman Alexie and found several of speeches he has made at other events. Could we do something similar with the Zarrow award speech, etc?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Step 19:

I narrowed my search just to the winners of the Web 2.0 awards and was still amazed at the resources available online. They run the gamut from on-line language lessons, like Spanishpod, to Urbanspoon which really does have reviews and sample menus for restaurants here in Tulsa, to My Heritage and Amiglia which connect families to each other and their family stories and pictures. Both Upcoming and Eventful had well organized info about what's happening in Tulsa for those questions not answered by TOS. Recipe Key was great fun--you can search for recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand (or the ones you remember were in Grandmother's fruit cake). Lyricsmode includes lyrics from Shirley Temple songs to Coldplay to Bob Wills to hymns and children's songs. I've added several of these to my Del.cios.us account.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Step 18: Web based apps

Well, I've already said that Delicious.com is the most useful on-line tool I've found, but google docs is a close second. The idea that a bunch of people can collaborate on a project without lots of emails back and forth is too efficient. I can see the usefulness of this for work committees and also for personal projects. Several of my cousins and I have been working together on our family history. I'm going to suggest that we start using google docs so we're all working on the same document. We can even scan our family pictures to be included in the story. I also like that the documents are stored in a way that can be accessed from many locations. I keep thinking of people who have experienced disasters, like fire or flood. If you had copies of your photos, home inventory, important papers etc stored in google docs they would still be available to you from any site. It's not the same as having the real things, but it certainly would help. I treid Zoho too, but Google just seemed easier. I also think the 30 boxes calendar apps will prove useful.

TCCL's Wiki

I have to admit that I had a few problems with PBwiki Central. Its FAQ's and Help screen answered questions much more advanced than mine. I've encountered this in other sites too--some of the simple steps are not as intuitive for the technologically challenged as their designers imagine they are. It took some trial and error, but I did figure it out and will probably remember what I learned because of that. I think Kristen G. had an idea for a program planning wiki for children's librarians. A great way to share the wealth of ideas among our staff.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A few words about Wikis

Heads Up: the typeface on Wiki’s: A Beginner’s Look is so tiny that it was very difficult for my mature eyes to read. Other than that, the other examples were quite enlightening. I particularly liked the one from Bull Run Library in Virginia and have already borrowed some programming ideas from them. Also the ALSC wiki has some good program ideas and other useful info. Some of you may know that in the past ODL has had a wiki for children's librarians about the summer reading program (I couldn't find it today). I think this is an example of a very practical use for wikis, especially for those librarians in smaller, isolated towns who don't have TCCL's resources to rely on.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Library 2.0

The interactive and user-centered libraries of today are a much more vital part of the community than the libraries of even the recent past. The "come to us" model of library service (Rick Anderson) was more elitist... serving mainly those who had time, education, transportation, and familiarity with libraries and books. In today's world, and even more in the future, library resources and services meet the people where and whenever they are. One example is the number of holds our customers place in the wee hours of the morning. As we redesign our web-sites and services we are making a concerted effort to avoid library jargon and to make more of our resources available from a single search. Our planning is based on what our communities need and desire. For example, the increased number of people using library services and computers to look for jobs is an indication of our changing economy. The ever-changing nature of society and the technology that we use to serve our community will keep us on our toes as "experienced tour guides" (Schultz) to the wonders that still can be found via the library.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Step 14: Exploring Technorati

What really surprised me about Technorati was the wide variety of subjects that people from around the world are discussing on-line. A real global village. There are blogs about politics (even the White House has a blog), entertainment, lifestyles, hobbies, business, and technology...you name it, it's there. There are participatory art projects where people electronically submit items to be included. I did have better luck finding what I wanted by using the search feature than the subject index, although it was fun to brouse the index.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Delicious--it really is

This just may be the most useful on-line tool that I've been introduced to so far. The site is easy to use and having all my bookmarked sites available from any computer is proving to be extremely helpful. The icing on this cake is the social bookmarking feature. For example, one of my tags is readers advisory. Clicking on it led to other members who have used the same tag and their lists lead me to new sites to explore. If you have not yet tried http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ , check it out. It's searchable by author or title, includes all fiction, not just fantasy, includes contemporary as well as older authors, and lists fiction series in order. It does the same sort of thing that http://www.stopyourekillingme.com/ does for mystery/suspense fiction. I have discovered that it helps to be consistent about the tags I use (not reader's advisory or readers advisory or readers_advisory), to use the underscore to connect words in a phrase, and that the more tags I use the more leads I get to new sites.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Adventures with Rollyo

Okay, this step took me a lot longer than predicted. The steps to create a searchroll are not difficult, but choosing the databases to include was a challenge. You can't use a site that relies on an index for its searches (which eliminated some of the sites for my first attempt) and the url for the site has to be short enough to fit on a single line in that box (as I discovered on my second attempt). So on my third try I created healthinfo using some of the websites I always use from TCCL's reference page and it worked. The other thing I was a little surprised about was all the ads that appear as part of the search results.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I've been waiting for this section since I first heard about LibraryThing. I think it will be extremely helpful with reader's advisory and finding new titles for book displays. I'm also hoping LT will help me manage my ever-growing lists of books I'm dying to read and books I've read and loved. Here's the link to my catalog http://www.librarything.com/catalog/memo413.

Step 10: fun with image generators

I did this in no time on spiffytext.com. The hardest part was deciding which of the many fonts and hundreds of backgrounds to use. this will get a lot of use for signs and displays. I did have to save the image to our hard drive and then use the image button.

Step 9: RSS feeds

Without a doubt I found Technorati the easiest of these indexes to use and the search tool on Bloglines the most disappointing --either I'm not using the right search terms (although I tried several) or they just didn't have many matches. Topix was interesting for what seemed the most complete list of media feeds, including local media! I've subscribed to several RSS feeds, including one from TCCL and a crime and mystery fiction blog named Wheredunnit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Step 7: Technology and the library

I started with the library 26 years ago and am constatntly amazed at the changes and improvements to our services due to technology. At that time each branch had a basic collection of reference books for general questions and try as we might to answer each question, every day we had to refer several customers to Central or one of the Regionals. Then wonder of wonders we got fax machines and we were so excited. We could have articles and photocopied materials sent from larger libraries in no time at all. And then came Internet access and more on-line reference sources than we could hold in our building! With lots of practice and training we now manage to answer most questions while the customer is here and rarely have to ask them to drive to another location. I cna hardly wait to find out what's coming next.
I keep reading that learning new things is important for maintaining the health of our brains. If that's true, we librarians have little to worry about on that front.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another thing I learned about Picasa

Okay, I clicked on the link to my beautiful picture of York Cathedral and this photo of a baseball player for a New York team came on my screen. The next time it was a picture of a stained glass window, and then a photo of someone named York. So...I asked my tech guru Sue, who explained. "This is called a dynamic link. Since my original search was for keywords "york england" when I click on the link it takes me to one of the many results of that search--not just my chosen picture.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fun with Picasa

Oops, I hit enter too soon. Guess I've been having too much fun with Picasa--can't wait to load it on my home computer. I can see how useful tags will be for both personal and library photos. One of the hard parts about organizing photos has always been deciding on the catagory for each picture, but with tags each picture can be found in many catagories. I did a search for photos in one of my favorite places (York, England) and found this photo of the hotel where I stayed next door to the Cathedral. http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/view?q=york%20england&psc=G&filter=1#5139923169805706498

I had a "I've walked on that sidewalk!" moment.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's a start.

Hello TCCLers,
I named my blog It's a Mystery in part because of my love, nay craving, for mysteries but also because most things technological have been big mysteries to me. In the next 20 steps I expect to solve many of those mysteries.
Of the 7 1/2 Habits the easiest for me is viewing problems as challenges. I suspect it's because it's similar to solving puzzles (mysteries?) and because of the sense of accomplishment when the problem is no more. In the past the most challenging would have been using technology to my advantage, in part due to lack of exposure (which, happily, is about to change) .