Friday, July 20, 2007

Exercise 23: Final thoughts

First, I want to thank you Alicia and PLAN for pulling this together for us here in the Panhandle. I attended a Sirsi Dynix workshop about the PLCMC 23 Things and hoped that someone would do this same thing for us! PLAN stepped up and I have really enjoyed the program. Sorry my 23 things have now ended, but surely there has been enough food for thought to keep on investigating new technologies.

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey? I loved the digital generators because they are delightfully fun and we have used them for a number of promotions. I also liked working with Bloglines again (from a previous workshop) and now it is the first thing I open every morning - at work or at home. Mostly, I love, love, love Library Thing! In fact, they have a future release review program which members can apply for - and first application, I am going to get a free book in the mail and all they ask is that I read it and write a review - they really do not care if the review is well-written or not. Must say I am going to try not to embarrass my fellow Cats by not trying to write well. Anyway, I love free, so I am very happy that I was encouraged to sign up for this program.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals? I think because I wrote about the lack of progress with the crocheting and because we learned in the first powerpoint that we should state our goals - I have now learned (interpret this loosely and kindly please) to crochet and am working on a lovely blanket. I am also organizing myself to learn Italian. If you are interested in languages, the BBC has some wonderful free materials to assist you in learning a new language. Also, I have now been exposed to many different technologies that I know will help me in the future. And I have ideas of how to use some of the technologies we learned. I am a fairly tried and true type A personality, always looking for something new, so this program has just pushed me a little to keep at things as a lifelong learner.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you? I found that I was surprisingly emotional about the lack of progress in our field of librarianship. I wasn't aware that I felt that strongly. I love what we do, but I think we could do it much better. And we better. Another problem was that I hate that more people (especially from my institution) did not participate in this program. I guess you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink - just such a loss for people who will not rise to challenges.

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?And last but not least… I thought that this was wonderful - the only thing I would consider offering up would be to somehow make it mandatory that people communicate more. I posted a few comments to people, but never got any kind of response back - so sometimes, I felt like I was posting here just for Alicia. Never sure if any of the other participants were checking what everyone else was doing or not. I learned from them and perhaps they could have learned from me. Maybe that you had to interact with 10 people per week or something.

Again, thank you for a wonderful experience and I look forward to anything new coming out from PLAN...loved the format because I am not able to get out of the office too often.

Exercise 22: NetLibrary & Project Gutenberg

I am very familiar with NetLibrary as my instuitution has had a subscription for many years. In fact, it saved my life as I was working on my thesis. My topic was very narrow, so I was able to view a large number of books through NetLibrary and use the search text function to look for instances of required words within the text of the books. This saved me tremendous amounts of time as I did not have to read entire books during the research phase - I could very easily determine if the book would be useful and which chapters to read. However, try as I might, I cannot read an entire book from a computer screen and cannot even imagine doing so from a very small book reader device. For now, then, I am supporting the local bookstores and libraries. Still, I am a big fan of NetLibrary. However, to complete this assignment, I decided to look a little more deeply.

1. Our collection from NetLibrary contains 42,371 items
2. Of these, only 3,450 are for public access - in other words, you do not have to be affiliated with the institution to access these books.
3. The primary sources for these free access books were Project Gutenberg, University of Virginia, and Bibliobytes.

I was rather happy to see Project Gutenberg books integrated to some degree with NetLibrary, because I must admit that I have visited Project Gutenberg before and did not care for the site organization or search functionality. I visited the site again today and felt the same way. I know that this project provides a much needed service for books out of copyright, but the broader question is not addressed as well as the Google desire to scan every book in print.

The Internet Public Library is one place I always look to see if there is anything newly available - they have a much nicer interface than Gutenberg.

As for audio books, I think there are a number of sites providing this - perhaps one that provided USF with all of those podcasts! We have looked into purchasing downloadable audio books and will probably continue to research this for some time before deciding on a provider. I think too that it will be helpful to have a standard format - that can go on a Zune or mp3 player or computer. Also, I tend to think this is something the public libraries have been in the fore-front for developing.

Library Cat

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Exercise 21: Podcasts

Preliminary info: My husband and I bought a Zune - yes, I know - one of three people who own one. Shortly after we bought it, I attended an Apple workshop for the use of podcasts in education. The fella insisted that my Zune would NEVER play a podcast that I could easily find on the iTunes site. Well, we listen to Lex and Terry Radio every morning and found that we could subscribe to their podcast free from iTunes. After a few minutes of despair, I am happy to report that my Zune player has no trouble with those files and in fact automatically pulls them from the iTunes location when synchronizing the Zune. So - a bit of a marketing lie!

The purpose of this story is to say that I am already fairly familiar with podcasts and prefer the iTunes format to any of the three suggested in the 23 things exercise. I did take a look at them, but really had difficulty with finding anything that I wanted to subscribe to that I wasn't already aware of before now. So I went back to what was familiar and here is what I found.

First, unless other universities have not been as aggressive in marketing their podcasts, the University of South Florida is way ahead in our state system. If you visit, iTunes U you can see that they have almost 3100 podcasts. Good grief, I was hoping we could produce about 10!

But these USF podcasts are not recurring, so I did find one called Stash and Burn which believe it or not is about knitting and crocheting. You might remember that I said early in the 23 thngs that I was trying to teach myself how to crochet - I have now made some progress in learning and I am pleased to find a podcast to help me.

I think podcasts would be wonderful for libraries - as well as streaming video. We plan to make quite a few of these for the library web page, using student workers to record or video them to make available for their fellow students. I mean, after all, no matter how technologically talented I am, the students would rather see their peers. We just need to provide the platform and now I know how.

Have a good evening - tomorrow I think I will finish this up.

Exercise 20 - YouTube

My Trainees - Not quite ready for prime time:

A Manifesto we should all adopt - (just a note, if tasteful nudity offends you, you might want to skip this one, and yes I debated about posting it here, but I think the content is so close to the heart of what we are trying to do here that it is worth it even with brief nudity)

Love, love love YouTube for all the craziness, and fun, and information.


Exercise 19: Web 2.0

I spent so much time "playing" yesterday as I browsed through those wonderful sites that I did not get my post posted! I was pleased to note that many of the winners were sites mentioned in 23 things or sites that I was familiar with already. But there were also some that I had never heard of and I spent considerable time looking through these - I mean, who can stop at just one.

However, I specifically wanted to talk about! What a wonderful idea. I suspect there are many people who are unsure of how to go about publishing something they have produced, be it a book or manual or whatever. But they feel that there might be something worth sharing. People might wonder if that means (with no content control as with a f2f editor and publishing company) there will be tons of useless material marketed as wonderful books you just have to have. I feel certain that the market will dictate whose materials will be successful and whose will "die" after the one copy is purchased by the author. My great aunt who grew up in rural Tennessee right on the Mississippi River wrote a book in the last years of her life - she lived to be over 90 - and sent my mother a copy. She has since died and I would give anything to have another copy of her book which was somehow privately published with relatively few copies produced. Had she used this site to publish her book, I could probably get copies for myself and my children. The nice thing about the site is that the author does not have to pay to have the book produced. When, or if, someone purchased a copy, the author is paid 80% of the price set by the author and the website gets paid 20%. So in many ways, it is a win-win situation.

Here is a good description of this service quoted from the site:

" is the premier marketplace for digital content on the Internet, with over 100,000 recently published titles, and more than 2,500 new titles added each week, created by people in 80 different countries. Lulu is changing the world of publishing by enabling the creators of books, video, periodicals, multimedia and other content to publish their work themselves with complete editorial and copyright control. Lulu empowers these individuals and corporations to create high quality content products to sell directly to their customers and the rest of the marketplace. With storefronts provided as well as other marketing assistance, creators are fully supported to profit from their work. With Lulu offices in the US, Canada the UK and Europe, Lulu customers can reach the globe."

One day, I might try this!


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Exercise 18: Zoho!!

At first, I tried to use one of the templates to do something fancy for this assignment, but I wasn't able to resize the template to fit on my blog page.  I tried all the things that would have worked with Microsoft and none of them worked.   Still, I like the idea of having a word processing software available anywhere.  I can see this being useful for people who know in advance that they will be working on a project in a number of different locations on a number of different computers.  I know that we all have seen many students who think they have something saved to their personal school web drive or their flash drive only to find out that they didn't save it properly.  With this application, a student could just log in on every computer, work a while and then save it one time - and have immediate access.  As an instructor, I would not like for students to turn their work in to me via this format because our course software would not recognize the format.  However, once the document was completed, it would be relatively easy to copy the document into a Microsoft document.  Apparently it is also possible for you to share documents and allow others to contribute.  This would be very useful for group projects.  I am pretty certain that I will use this in the future - possibly even for my students.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Exercise 17: Sandbox

The PLAN sandbox shows exactly the type of use I was referring to in my previous post. Often staff in a library feel some sort of disconnect from other staff members and a "staff sandbox" would be a nice virtual space where the staff could come together to discuss a specific topic or just connect with a themed discussion. This would not need to be an elaborate intraoffice website - it could be a PBWiki with every person adding to the fun whenever they have the time to play for a minute or two: shared websites, shared books, shared photos, shared concerns. I think with an administrator monitoring for any potential cantankerous posts (come on folks, you know that happens in libraries!) this could be team building!