Change of Address

I am trying out WordPress blog software and my new posts may be viewed on http://maeverest.wordpress.com. I've changed the title to On Libraries and Other Stuff In the hope that more readers will know what it is supposed to be about but am also intent on on commenting on a lot of "Other Stuff".


Relay for Life in Second Life

People often wonder whether Second life has any use other than enjoyment and entertainment. There are, of course, may educational institutions who maintain a presence and conduct classes. The Second Life Library is a flourishing community dedicated to helping people find information on a wide variety of subjects and many businesses had established themselves there.

Second Life residents also support several charities, one of which is Relay for Life. Events are planned throughout the world culminating in the 24 hour relay scheduled for this weekend. Apart from the relay 33 sims have events planned to educate and entertain you and encourage you to part with your lindens

In 2004 Second Life’s Relay For Life Gala raised US$2,000.00

In 2005 Second Life's Relay For Life raised

In 2006 Second Life's Relay For Life raised

In 2007 Second Life's Relay For Life raised

That gives Relay a grand total of having raised
US$166,500.00 in Second Life for the American Cancer Society.

In 2008 as of July 13 Relay For Life of Second Life has raised

So this year already the total raised is almost as much as the combined total of the previous four years. I have several friends who are or were stricken with this dreaded disease and I'll be there to help raise money for cancer research in the hope that one day the world will be cancer-free. If you attend and see my avatar Galia Beck please stop me and say "Hi!".


Free !

Free - how I love that word. Whether I'm finding things on the web or scrounging through shops in Second Life I'm always on the lookout for special bargains and freebies.

Sarah Houghton-Jan, Librarian in Black, has posted about free software cheat sheets available at http://www.customguide.com/quick_references.htm
. These are useful guides that may be printed out and made available in the library for clients who need assistance with a variety of software applications for Microsoft or Mac.

Now this may not be the type of freebie that everyone is falling over themselves to obtain, but I think most educational libraries will find the cheat sheets very useful and time-saving.


Technology Trends

Librarian in Black, , summarises her contribution to ALA 2008 in Sarah's Top Technology Trends - virtual presentation for ALA 2008. I would like to draw attention to point #3 in the hope that the comments may filter through to the bureaucracy running our organisation.
I really like the way so much of the technology trends that are buzzed in Library circles were used in this presentation.


Web Taming Ringmaster

Michael Stevens' blog, Tame the Web, has two articles this week that I find particularly thought provoking.

1. Keys to a Successful Self Check-Out Project (linked from Michael’s blog)
Our new library is under construction (it's exciting to see progress with the new building across the road) and it would be good to consider implementing a changeover to a fully automated checkout policy. Please don’t argue until you have read the report and its answers to possible objections.

2. Brian Kelly: What if We’re Right? & Libpunk’d
Brian poses questions aimed at the detractors of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 and proposes that there are more risks involved by not accepting such things as social networking and open source technology than by adopting them whole-heartedly.


Web 2.0 Tutorials

As anyone who reads this blog regularly will have guessed I am a great fan of using Web 2.0, particularly its potential for making libraries more "with it". This list of 100 Free Library 2.0 Webinars and Tutorials from the College@Home blog will help anyone who wants to find out more or give instructors ideas for spreading the word amongst unbelievers. I'm sure that library staff have already been converted but part of my mission is to get others to understand. Any library that hasn't yet run a variation of the 23 Learning 2.0 Things programme should consider implementing it as soon as they are able.


Wordle Cloud

This is fun. I Used Wordle to create a web cloud of my tags in del.icio.us (see how interested I am in web 2.0 and Second Life). Similar clouds can be created for any body of text you choose.

Thanks to Phil Bradley's Weblog for giving me this idea.

Firefox Download

Don't forget to download the new Firefox browser on June 17 to help Mozilla set a new world record (most software downloads in 24 hours) for the Guinness Book of Records. For Perth users the time period starts at 1.00am Wednesday 18th.


Tips and Tricks to Create a Learning Space in Second Life

50 Tips and Tricks to Create a Learning Space in Second Life is the title of a blog post by Laura Milligan at Collegedegrees.com. This is a wonderful resource for anyone looking for ideas for teaching in SL. My college is still reluctant to try this new technology but I live in hope.


7 Things You Should Know About

The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative's (ELI's) 7 Things You Should Know About... series provides concise information on emerging learning technologies and related practices. If you have ever struggled to explain why various Web 2.0 tools are useful in the library or teaching environments here is a most useful series of explanations about technologies that may demonstrate positive learning impacts.

Currently there are 37 applications in the series which should give you all you need to
stay up-to-date on emerging technologies.


Virtual worlds

The Association of Virtual Worlds has just released its new title The Blue Book: A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds listing over 250 virtual worlds and is pleased to offer it free to anyone who is interested in the rapidly growing field of virtual worlds.

Download it as a zip file and open it in .pdf. You will be rewarded with 43 pages of definition, explanation and links to all the virtual worlds currently available.


Open Source and Web 2.0

iLibrarian directed me to an article about open source software in online learning in the April-June 2008 issue of Educause Quarterly. After defining it and giving the history of open source software the authors go into detail about it's impact on learning and describe some of the applications that are used by education institutions around the world.

For me the most significant segment was a description of web 2.0 enabling students to participate in information sharing and combining that with open-source software(How can I persuade my director to reconsider attitude towards web 2.0?).

With Web 2.0, the concept of student-centered learning has acquired a new dimension. Previously, the greatest critique of student-centered learning was the lack of resources and the isolation of each student from other learners. Web 2.0 has provided a means through which both collective and individual intelligence can be harnessed, while students bond in stronger, redefined ways.

These concepts all have the potential to change distance education but still need more focussed developers to produce reliable, quality online education.

Keeping up-to-date

During a recent advanced web searching workshop I tried to demonstrate Yahoo! Mindset but the link didn't work. Thinking that I was at fault for not updating my presentation I apologised and later set about trying to find the new link, with no success. I then read on Phil Bradley's weblog that it had disappeared. It was a useful little gadget and I'm sorry to see it go. So many useful links that I have built into presentations have either disappeared altogether or had their urls changed that I would like to stress the importance of checking every link before using it in a presentation or listing it on a handout - unless you don;t mind your audience losing faith in you.


Google Generation is a myth?

Librarians' Internet Index: New This Week reports on research commissioned by JISC and the British Library about young people born or brought up in the Internet age and their ability to use the web to find information. Hmmph! I could have saved them the expense - as could most Librarians who struggle to teach Information Literacy Skills to students. The annoying thing is that members of the "Google generation" do not believe for a moment that people from any other generation can teach them anything about the Internet.

This thinking is often aggravated by people who talk about "digital natives" vs. "digital immigrants". I swear that, even though I am the most senior person in my college library, no-one else here is particularly interested in improving their skills, other than knowing just enough to be able to impart some of these skills to their students.


Web 2.0 distractions

I was asked to do my standard presentation on Wikis and Blogs yesterday but "to make it fun". Well, these workshops are always fun but I thought that I could provide a new slant on this one by running through a few Web 2.0 applications and letting participants make whatever use of them they could.

I gave everyone the following handout and we worked together through each of the activities, referring along the way to what other people (myself included) had done with the tools available.

What are we doing here?


Create a Google account


Create an iGoogle page


Add elements to your iGoogle page


Create a Blogger account www.blogger.com
Write about what you hope to achieve today


Create an avatar -- a representation of yourself. Go to http://avatars.yahoo.com/ ; design an avatar with a funky background. (You will have to set up an account if you don't use Yahoo!) Save your avatar and export to your blog.


Create a reader and add some RSS feeds


Facebook http://facebook.com
Create an account, find some friends and send them a message.






Picasa – organise your pictures

Participants were fully absorbed throughout and I had to get stroppy to get them to stand up after a couple of hours to help themselves to coffee and biscuits.

These are only some of the activities that we do in the 23 Things programme. I'm still thinking of rolling it out to the whole college but also struggling against lack of support for such "distractions".


Bored? Never!

What does one do when stuck at home recovering from minor foot surgery? I caught up with some reading and finished the Life of Pi, spent many hours in Second Life and also played with StumbleUpon and discovered many fascinating new sites. If you haven't used StumbleUpon you are denying yourself hours of entertainment and finding sites that other people have considered noteworthy (yes, it's one of these new-fangled Web 2.0 tools again).

Some of the pages I discovered are listed below:

15 Handy Google Search Tricks
Most of us use Google but here are several built in functions within Google which make searching even easier. Learn how to use Google as a calculator, a dictionary, a currency converter and for several other useful field searches.

Maximize Firefox Without Extensions Using about:config
If you type about:config in your address bar, Firefox opens the master directory of user-defined preferences and built-in settings. The ultimate arena for performance tampering, the about:config settings are the foundation for programming Firefox extensions.

The caffeine click test
where I found out that my caffeine level for the day was High - Well Caffeinated & Easily Excitable.

This May Help Your Firefox Memory Leak is an excellent blog post that details how to reduce Firefox’s high memory use.

The search engine list is a list of umpteen search engines sorted by genre. I must admit that I have never heard of most of them but one day it will be fun to play around and see how they compare. There are special search engines for news, medical, maps, legal, jobs, games, enterprise, blogs – and many more.

5 Ways to copy music OFF your iPod. I have moved office to one with a new computer and my music folder was not transferred with me. I have all these tunes on my iPod and want to be able to edit and re-organise them, so what am I to do? It’s easy enough to copy music (or videos) from computer to iPod, but not the other way. Luckily this site has come to my rescue.


Getting ready for the New World

I am forever shouting the praises of Second Life in which I can learn, create, socialise and play. I joined a year ago today and my avatar took her first steps inworld when we studied a course in Virtual World Librarianship. This was so rewarding that I then went on to do the Intermediate course and have registered for Working with a Class in Second Life next month.

If you don't know what all the hype is about read Second Life - what is the hype? a new post in the makeuseof.com blog. The writer claims that Education is one of the most progressive fields in SL and while I am still hoping that one day my college will see the light, I am preparing to offer training to our lecturers to get them ready for the new wave.


Web2.0 in a nutshell

eLearn Magazine has this feature article Ten Web 2.0 Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes to Be a More Successful E-learning Professional. It could be valuable for all "23 Thingers" or anyone interested in learning about or maintaining their Web2.0 skills.


Social networking in the library

Jessamyn West on librarian.net has a thoughtful discussion about why libraries should be socially networking. She mentions popular tools such as flickr, facebook and twitter, with helpful links to the ways in which some libraries are using them and recommends that all libraries should be offering 23 Things to help their staff get up to speed with the technology.


Google or Syndetics?

Sarah Houghton-Jan, the Librarian in Black has posted about Google Book Search API: LibraryThing and libraries grab it right up.

Google has released a new API that allows easy linking into any of the books included in Google Book Search. It's called "the Books Viewability API" and lets you more easily embed links to books on your own website. As an example, Google pointed to the Deschutes Public Library that uses "preview this book at Google" links in their catalog (here's an example). Tim at LibraryThing used the API immediately to fold Google Book Search content into LibraryThing results and has also released code that lets you fold Google book covers into your catalog too. Ooooh, sweet open goodness.

Does this mean that our library can use this feature instead of subscribing to Syndetics?

Training Resources

I'm always on the lookout for resources to improve information literacy training and distance education. Here are some I found in Roddy MacLeod's latest Information Resources Newsletter:

  1. Alternate Reality Games for Orientation, Socialisation and Induction: ARGOSI http://www.playthinklearn.net/argosi.htm
  2. Create online training http://www.create-online-training.com/
  3. ELI Discovery Tool: Net Generation Workshop Guide http://www.educause.edu/NetGenTool
  4. Handbook for Information Literacy Teaching http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/insrv/educationandtraining/infolit/hilt/index.html



On Librarian in Black I found mention of a great way to use a wiki in a Library. If Central TAFE were to run with this idea we could call it Centipedia. See the original blog to understand my reason for this suggestion.


Business using Web 2.0

Libraries all over the world have adopted web 2.0 principles as a way of connecting with their users promoting their services. In my new role as Management & Business Librarian I am pleased to see that many businesses are also seeing the benefits of the new approach to knowledge management through openness and discussion in blogs, wikis and online chat. This may have been happening for some time but I have only recently become aware of it through scanning more business journals. An example is this report from FUMSI seen on FreePint.

"Web 2.0 + Intranet: Connected Users"
The buzz on Web 2.0 applications in the workplace is nearly deafening, but how are companies really putting all that user generated content to work? Helen Day gives a view of how BT uses discussion forums, blogs, RSS feeds and wikis of Web 2.0 on their corporate intranet.

Now if only I could persuade College management to read similar articles and become aware that Web 2.0 is not just another distraction ...


Marketing ourselves with widgets

One of the ideas proposed by Michael Stephens was that libraries should be making active use of web 2.0 applications. This holds the same for all businesses and is another way of looking at how we are advertising ourselves. BusinessWeek Talks Widgets, reported by ILibrarian, discusses several article about using some of these applications for social marketing campaigns.

We seem to be very inept in marketing ourselves and should take note of what can be achieved by making use of the available technology. If you can send me examples of how your library is doing it I'd be pleased to post them here.


Michael Stephens was here

Michael Stephens is taking his seminar The Hyperlinked Library around Australia and yesterday presented to about 40 people at the State Library of Western Australia in Perth. His presentations have been blogged by many people, notably Michelle McLean and Kathryn Greenhill.

Among the many ideas suggested my Michael here are I few I have taken to heart:

  • Information should be seamless, not in silos.
  • Don't try to replicate the physical library on a website.
  • Get rid of negative signs - be more welcoming and invite participation.
  • Say 'yes'.
  • Take risks.
  • Technology is a cultural shift - not a new toy.
A few of us had dinner in Fremantle with Michael that evening - a most enjoyable get-together and discussion.


More on Social Networking

CollegeDegree.com library blog has a post commenting on 25 Useful Social Networking Tools for Librarians. I'll have to refer to them when presenting the workshop I mentioned in yesterdays post. My colleagues nod sagely when such ideas are mooted but there seems to be a fear of trying out anything that hasn't been passed by the College board for approval. "Stick to your job; you don't have time for the fun stuff", was my director's advice.


Social Media Will Change Your Life

Look past the yakkers, hobbyists, and political mobs. Your customers and rivals are figuring blogs out. Our advice: Catch up or catch you later.

This is from an article in BusinessWeek that I plan to use to promote the staff PD course that I conduct at Central TAFE. I'm also going to borrow from the title and call it Social Media Will Change Your Life rather than Making the Most of Wikis and Blogs.


New 2.0 Tools via ResourceShelf

ResourceShelf is a never-ending source of ideas and information. These new tools look particularly interesting:

New 2.0 Tools: From Twitter Traffic to Image Resizing to Visualizing del.icio.us Tags

Here’s a selection of a few new “2.0 tools and services” via the KillerStartUps weblog.

+ Traffic Alerts via Twitter–CommuterFeed.com

+ Momondo–New MetaSearch Flight Info and Pricing
From Denmark, over 800 sites searched.

+ Visalize del.icio.us info with TastyTag
Tasty spits out bar graphs indicating the top ten tags del.icio.us users use to categorize any one URL. Using its API, Tasty effectively canvasses the del.icio.us mindset and gives site owners a glimpse into how their site is perceived.

+ PicResize.com - Easy Image Resizer

+ JukeFly
Stream your music library to various computers.


Dancing Librarians

The Infomaniacs in Second Life are a fun-loving, stimulating group of people and I am honoured to be one of their number. Here we are dancing in our new clubhouse. I'm the first avatar to appear in the clip.

Collaboration (again)

Central TAFE librarians have been busy since the start of semester teaching information literacy skills to many of the new students enrolled throughout the college. We have a good team and have developed (and share) some useful tools to make our jobs easier.

On the theme of collaboration (mentioned in my previous post) I came across an email that I sent myself last year relating to collaboration via wiki with librarians everywhere, as well as the video tutorials mentioned in the first paragraph.

Techtorials via LibrarianInBlack by Sarah Houghton-Jan on 11/29/07

Here's another technology tutorial website for your toolkit, either for staff or user training. We all need to know computer stuff, right? Right!

Techtorials offers video tutorials for three applications: Adobe Photoshop, Irfanview, and 7-Zip. It's not being updated frequently (last video was uploaded 7 months ago), but what is already there is quite useful--particularly the Photoshop tutorials. Take a look!

I think it would be lovely if libraries who have developed technology tutorials could contribute what they've made to this and other collaborative wiki-style tutorial sites. There are many, and sharing what we have is what it's all about. While I'm at it, I'll put in a plug for the Library Instruction Wiki, another place that libraries should be sharing any training materials created in-house (Word documents, Powerpoints, wikis, blogs, videos, screencasts, podcasts, anything).

We reinvent the wheel so much. We don't need to. We just need to convince administrators to let us post things we've created, for the betterment of libraries and users everywhere. Good goal, right? But you'd be surprised how often administrators say that those materials cannot be shared because they belong to the library/city/county/university/school and are the property of its funders/taxpayers, not the "everybody" of the Web. Oy, the politics make my head hurt.

(Techtorials was found many months ago on eContent (can you tell I'm wading through my backlog of "stuff to blog"?))

Thanks to Sarah for blogging about this and bringing another blog and that useful wiki to our attention.


Library 2.0 COW

Collaborative Online Workspace - an initiative of LATN, Librarians of the Australian Technological Network of universities. Presented by Alex Byrne, University Librarian, University of Technology, Sydney

Alex started by asking “What is driving the need for change?” and the simple answer was “we can and we must”.

Web2.0 is a mindshift about the use of technology, not the technology itself. We are the facilitators.

He discussed what he called “disruptive technologies” such as Google, blogs, ebay, Wikipedia, flickr, Amazon, MP3 and podcasting, mashups and social networking. In all of these the contributors become data collectors. They harness the wisdom of crowds (eg. Wikipedia).

There are many ways librarians can take advantage of these new technologies. LATN has developed a Collaborative Online Workspace.

They use open source content management software to work towards their concept of physical spaces moving towards virtual spaces.

Alex's presentation was very interesting but the venue in the State Library of WA left much to be desired. It was located in an open space and the speakers' words were swallowed up in the void. Add to that a buzz of noise coming from the central well of the building and the audience had to strain to catch what was said.


Heresy - and more

Roddy McLeod did me the complement of mentioning my blog in Information World Review at http://blog.iwr.co.uk/2008/01/information-pro.html. I have let him down I think by not touching my blog for the past two months - partly because I have been away on holiday but also because things seemed to get on top of me towards the end of the year. Hopefully I will be able to continue this year and maintain a standard that readers deserve.

The February edition of the Internet Resources Newsletter is out, always a useful source of information.

I wrote a draft entry yesterday but when I went in to finish it this morning the page was blank. That's most annoying as I had posted about several items of interest that I found in mt RSS feeds on my return to work and now can't remember what they were.

Two of my shared items relate to the library of the future and the way in which we should be heading. Pipe dreams for some but goals to which we should aspire. I particularly like the ideas in
TTW Mailbox: Heretical Ideas in Library School in which students were asked to submit way-out ideas for a library service and these were subsequently discussed in class. We need more heresy in libraries to get away from our stereotypical images.

My friend Pauly in Second Life writes an IT Solutions blog in which he gives advice on optimising
your enjoyment of Second Life as well as the stability of running the virtual world with fewer crashes.