Monday, March 26, 2007

Thing #23! At Last!!!

Yay, that laptop is mine!

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
My favorite discovery is that most of this stuff was not as hard as I thought. There was so much of it, and I'd heard about a lot of these things for so long, I was afraid my aging brain would explode trying to wrap itself around all of it. Actually, the web has come a long way in ease of use; ditto most of these services/programs/thingies. For the most part they were pretty intuitive. Gotta say I had a lot of fun--way too much, actually--with the image generators and YouTube. It's that visual thing.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
It's given me a lot more ideas about how to spend my retirement, and confirmed that I have to get broadband as soon as that happy day arrives. I'm definitely going to use LibraryThing to catalog my personal library. It's convinced me I need to get an M3 player. It's given me a lot of good info to share with friends and family. Since I'll be continuing my involvement with a Mythopoeic Society, it's given me some tools that might be useful for group projects in that context or any other small nonprofits I might become involved in. As someone with a visually disabled family member I really appreciate knowing more about audiobooks & podcasting, and will continue to educate myself about those possibilities.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
See #1 & #2--the fact that these were not as hard as I expected, and more things to amuse myself with in retirement--YouTube junkie coming! It was also surprising to see all the attention we got from people outside the library. Adding the ClustrMap was a great idea and a real revelation!

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
This program was perfect for me, because this is the way I learn best--give me a little guidance and leave me alone, then let me write about what I learned. Not everybody learns best that way--it was probably good that you added those drop-in sessions for people who learn more effectively in more of a group setting.

And last but not least…If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?
You betcha. Especially if I don't win that laptop!

Major kudos to all who worked so hard to make this happen and keep it going!

Thing #22: Ebooks and Audiobooks

Due to my current interim Collection Development position, I am more involved with library ebooks than I want to be. It seems to me that ebooks are in a position that databases were when they first became relatively common (about 5 years ago? more? it begins to blur...). In other words, each vendor was more concerned with trumpeting their particular format and how superior it was, and very little concerned about what a disservice they did to libraries and patrons by the incompatibility of formats, the fact that they didn't talk to each other, and the complexity of getting access. Now almost every database is accessed by IP address and a proxy server, we (at SJSU anyway) use Get Text (SFX, Open URL) to link most of them together, and access to all these varied databases is much more seamless to the patron and usually requires nothing more than a mouse click and/or entering a name/ID/PIN. I can only hope that in another 5 years (or less!) ebooks will look that way. Right now they give me a headache--I can only imagine how the poor patrons feel.

Kudos to Brian for his redesign of the ebooks pages, which has really helped make our variety appear less confusing--and being able to search all the ebook collections at once is a great boon to University users especially. Ebooks are a great idea, even if the practice has a long way to go. For a commuter school that also has a lot of distance learners, they're a great timesaver. They're also a great way to deal with the theft problem. I remember when we used to buy things like computer manuals they never even had a chance to collect dust before they were stolen--and if they weren't stolen they went out of date and cluttered up the shelves. Ebooks are a great solution for that. I still can't imagine curling up with a cat, a cup of tea, and a mystery ebook--but that will someday change when somebody develops a really good reader with long battery life and print-equivalent resolution. Although I'm nearsighted, I'm much more so in one eye than the other, so as I get tireder I tend to close my farsighted eye to read. As my dear mother (just about everybody's mother, actually) used to say--"Your face will freeze like that!" A decent ebook reader would just let me make the print bigger as I got tireder!

I'm looking forward to exploring both our library's audiobooks and others after I (a) retire and (b) get broadband. Having a partner with a visual disability makes me sensitive to the advantages of audiobooks. I really want to research what's out there so I can get some for her. Another thing I may break down and do next year is (c) get an MP3 player for audiobooks on the go. As I told Rob & Peggy last Friday during a hallway discussion, it's not that I'm a Luddite, it just takes so much time to research what to buy and then go find it. One sad fact about getting--shall we say, less young?--is that it just takes you longer to do stuff. So you end up never having enough time to do all the stuff you want to do in a given amount of time. Just you wait until I don't have work getting in the way!

The more variety in how you make information available the better. I like words on a page, preferably in a format I can easily carry around. Like I said in my last post, I'm very visual in how I learn ang get information. Other people like to hear it; other people learn more by doing. The thing to remember when all these formats threaten to drive us crazy, is what a good thing it is for the variety of learners out there.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thing #21: Podcasting

Something I already knew about myself was reinforced during this exercise: I'm so much more video than audio. I could waste hours on YouTube, but listening to people I don't know blather on is excrutiatingly boring. I did listen to one from :
"Jenn Graham Likes Tagging; Thursday, November 16, 2006 ... This is another lunchcast from Byblos Restaurant in Getzville, New York."
[librarians at the University of Buffalo talking about a trip to a local ACRL meeting at the time of the Great October Blizzard...nostalgia for me. I got my BA at UB. I remember blizzards. Not fondly.]

Couldn't stand to listen to another podcast, but noticed an interesting difference in these 2 sites. Top 10 podcasts in the latter include 2 about Harry Potter and one called "Blast the Right." The former lists top 10 tags (not podcasts) but 2 of the 10 are "christian" and "jesus." Something tells me each one has different audience.

Tried "libraries" as a keyword in all 3 and got different results. More overlap in the 1st two than either had with

Did manage to add a podcast to my Blogroll--sure hope it works. I'm hoping something called "Crystal Clear Tolkien" won't bore me stiff.

I'm not dissing podcasts, just making it clear that different things work for different people. I think a podcast is best used as an adjunct to something else--narration for something visual; (like a PowerPoint or library art tour). Otherwise I suggest shorter is better, and that one should think long and hard about whether a purely audio medium is the best way to convey what one wishes to convey.

Thing #18: Online Tools

OK, this is weird--our Learning 2.0 keepers point out I skipped #18. Thing is, I distinctly remember writing it...but it's clearly not there. Maybe I wrote it and hit the wrong key somewhere and deleted it. The other possibility is that I was writing it in my head but never actually typed it. (I write in my head a lot, especially in the car or the shower, and only hope I can remember half of it when I finally get my hands on a recording implement.)

I now have to attempt to reconstruct what I did many weeks ago. I tried both Zoho and Google docs. Found the first very clean and intuitive interface-wise, but I found some things I could do better in Google docs. No, I no longer have the faintest idea what. Details have gone bye-bye.

I remember thinking two basic things about this exercise. One, how great this was for our have-not patrons without computers at home. It lets them not just come to the library to use something like a word processing program, but also gives them a place to store it--all for free (at least so far). The second thing was how this might work nicely for a small group trying to put together a document. One could create a group password and anyone could add or edit as needed. Especially nice for those who want something simpler than a wiki.

Sigh. I'm sure there were more brilliant insights the first time I composed this but they're gone with the wind...

Friday, March 9, 2007

Thing #15: Future of Libraries, 2.0 & Beyond

Our eagle-eyed Learning 2.0 team has pointed out me that I have gone from #14 to #16 without a stop at #15. Math has never been this old bird's strong point, but she does want that laptop, so...

Apparently the future of libraries is 80% male. Does anyone else think it odd than is a discussion of the future of a profession that's still at least 80% female, only 1/5 of those OCLC articles we were asked to read were written by someone with 2 X chromosomes? The Old Crowe, unapologetic and cranky Boomer feminist that she is, notices things like that. Perhaps I digress. Perhaps not.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Wendy Schultz came up with the concept I like best--Library 4.0, Experience, "knowldge spa." Yeah.

If I could predict the future, I would have bought stock in certain companies many years ago--not to mention California real estate--and we would not now be having this conversation because I would have long since left the working world to live off interest and dividends. I like Dr. Schultz's notion that Library 4.0 will not replace Libraries 1.0-3.0, but incorporate all its predecessors. After all, despite many predictions to the contrary, paper has not gone away as things have gone digital. Formats seem to have exploded rather than contracted. In some ways we've gone back in time a couple of millennia--a web page is more like a scroll than a codex, after all.

I think Book as Object will be around for many years to come, even as it migrates, perhaps, in the direction of Book as Art Object. It's becoming increasingly effective to combine word and image digitally, but not yet the tactile aspects of a book. Books are going in two directions at once--content migrating off on one end and dissolving into the digital; and morphing on the other end into an art medium that sometimes deconstructs the concept of book almost as completely; and sometimes looks at just what constitutes the essential bookness of a book.

Egad, she's getting all arty on us. Go see something like or look in our own OPAC under artists books as SUBJECT (especially the ones in Special Collections).

Anyway, the Library as Place better not disappear anytime soon. I'm looking forward to my post-retirement appreciation of my local public library, longtime feeder of my mystery book habit. Soon I'll have time to hang out in their very attractive periodicals room by the fireplace, spend lots of time browsing the stacks instead of just running in and out, research lots of non-academic and non-work things like how best to apply ceramic tiles to the side of a stucco house. Until everybody has equal access to the net, equal comfort levels with technology (or at least a certain baseline comfort level) and one learning style, some aspects of Library 1.0-3.0 will hang around--including librarians to help people navigate and discover.

Check with me after I've been retired as long as I've been a librarian, and we'll see. You might need a medium. You might not.

Oops, some good carrion over there. Gotta go.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Thing #20: YouTube

When people ask me, "what are you going to do with yourself when you retire?" one of my stock answers will be: "Haven't you seen YouTube?" This is seriously addictive and a major argument for broadband access. The idea that I am actually required to "Explore YouTube" on work time almost makes me feel guilty. I'll try to do that embedding thing for the first one but just in case that doesn't work, take a look at:
LOTR: Saturday Night's Alright

I love this sort of thing. I know a lot of people who did these amateur music videos even before digital video editing software was available.
Matthew Gray Gubler: The Unauthorized Documentary
If you're saying to yourself, "Who the [expletive deleted] is Matthew Gray Gubler?" you haven't seen Criminal Minds. You don't have to have done so to appreciate these vids, however.

In case you're not sure, both of these are not serious.

What I like: tons of bizarre content. What I don't like: takes a little work to separate the good bizarre content from the stupid/crappy bizarre content. Library uses: might be useful to post teasers for programs or snippets of past programs to interest people in future ones. Might be tricky to deal with rights issues if a famous person gives the program. There's also the bandwidth issue--don't want to interfere with use and enjoyment of our site by those with slow connections.

Thing #19: Library Thing

Egad, it's been a long while since the Old Crowe has been able to lift her beak from the carrion pile and return to Learning 2.0. See, now you know why she was working ahead--not because she's a hotshot (though she is) or a brown-nose (which she's not) but because she knew in February she'd be too busy to eat lunch, let alone find time for her lessons. At last, things have calmed down a tiny bit and she can jump through those last few hoops between her and that laptop.

This is an easy one, because I had an account on Library Thing before Learning 2.0 ever started! (I've only had time to add 9 books, but it's the principle of the thing.) I can't even remember where I first heard about Library Thing--several people told me about it last year and/or I read about it. I've wanted to catalog my home library for a long time, and figured once I retired I'd finally have time. I thought I'd actually have to learn a database program but voila! Library Thing saved me the trouble. I've been using LC copy and am happy as a clam. A friend of mine, an experienced cataloger, turns up his nose at it. However, for those of us whose grade in Advanced Cataloging torpedoed our 4.0 in library school, Library Thing is a godsend.

I'm a little dubious about that search widget, though. I did try to do that, and it's on my blog--but it doesn't seem to search just my personal library, but the whole Library Thing database. I think. Anyhoo, I wonder how long before I hit that 200-item limit and have to pay them. It'll be worth it.