Web 2.0 tools & NZ public libraries . . .

by tosca on Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hokey pokey, we're back to checking out national public libraries that're implementing web 2.0 tools. It's not meant to be a criticism of any sort - it's more in the nature of an exploration. I'm genuinely curious about who's doing what with web 2.0, so feel free to leave comments/suggestions if you think I've missed something! Right, on with the show.

It suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't sure if I had bookmarked all public libraries throughout Godzone. And what made me realise that was my mother emailing me at work to say she'd been reading my blog and liked the 'Library Elf - Reminder Service' alert that Hastings District Library uses. Which got me thinking . . . was I absolutely positive that I had looked up all public libraries? Short answer: nah. Solution: make certain. What a process! Prob was a shorter way but ended up searching MetroNet's site (they had 19 libraries listed with them) and then to make doubly sure checked WorldCat. Tried a classic title that most, if not all, NZ public libraries would have ('Pride and prejudice' by Jane Austen) and went through checking every library NOT listed with MetroNet. Then searched for 'In my father's den' by Maurice Gee - figured an NZ author was yet another way to double-check. Kinda funny really considering my post last week about WorldCat *rolls eyes* Isn't that the way? I don't see how it works and then BANG I find a use for it. D'OH. Phew! Now I have some 50 systems to work through *gulps* Sometimes I scare myself ;) I do have to backtrack slightly (at least alphabetically speaking) to cover Central Hawkes Bay District Libraries and Clutha District Libraries.

Central Hawkes Bay District Libraries - (wow, that's a mouthful) has a blog which I have spent the morning reading. The blog is used to highlight events like Library Week guests, or the Montana Book Award winners listing etc. They've also implemented the use of a Meebo chat widget on both their blog and their catalogue, that way customers can IM staff if they need help searching (they do point out that if CHBD Libraries staff are not available they can leave an offline message). There is also a wiki where customers are invited to say what they'd like to see in the library, what they'd like to happen or even just start a discussion about books.

Clutha District Libraries - I had fun trying to figure out how the 'New Books list' works. And I'm still not sure I've got the hang of it - shame on me! It doesn't so much list the new books as you have to search for them. I think. Help? Eek. They do have a pre-compiled reading list on a subject made up of text, electronic and web resources. Am imagining it's something that they're still working on as the only list there at the moment is Trucks. Web 2. tools - it could be this stupid flu but I'm not seeing any. That's not a criticism, it's an observation. Remember, I'm exploring who's doing what and how - not questioning why they aren't.

Note: thought it would be nice to add a 'Label cloud' to this blog. Hunted around online and got a headache reading people's long and convoluted explanations for how to configure a successful cloud. Threw my hands in the air and thought I'd try it again after a couple of days (and some deliberate thought about how badly I wanted it). Jumped online tonight and came across phydeaux3's blog with some technical, yet easy to understand, instructions. Probably the most fun part of the whole exercise was setting the colours. As I'm not familiar with any part of html code or colours or whatever I checked around online and found an RGB colour chart which was a huge help. While it wasn't a total walk in the park, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. And definitely if I can do it anybody can! Although I'd like to learn how to mix it up a bit.

Oh, and please ignore all of the new child related book-widgets that've been added all along the far left. I am experimenting with how they look, what their point is, and what value they would add. It would be nice to see some NZ related book-widgets for Children's and YA services. I wonder if they're hard to do?? Must find that out. The widgets will be gone within a few days so for now - grin and bear it ;-)

Oh hmm, was having a nosey around Library Elf's site and saw two things: quite a few NZ libraries are already members, and quite a few are in the middle of testing it.

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The case of the missing e-book reader . . .

by tosca on Friday, August 29, 2008

Title of a murder mystery? Not hardly! Have recently kissed the pc goodbye (it sits, sad and forlorn on the desk) and have gotten myself a Mac powerbook. Wanted to transfer all of my e-books across to the powerbook and update my online accounts to recognise the new laptop . . . only to find out that Mobipocket's reader is NOT compatible. In fact, not is it just not compatible, there's nothing else out there LIKE it. Ack. It would appear that there are more file formats compatible with pc than with mac. Check out the screenshot to the left and you'll see what I mean - I had a nosey through eBookMall's site and their Advanced Search screen displays some 10 possible file formats, with maybe one or two that'll work for me.

Hunted around a bit to find something that wasn't in beta, and didn't involve a file format that would limit my variety of choice. What I liked best about my Mobipocket reader was that every paid ebook site I went to would offer .prc files. Yes, there's Adobe, and a few others, but sites like BooksOnBoard, Mobipocket and FictionWise don't always have every book in that format. And I have never been partial to reading Adobe anything. I also liked that I was able to bookmark pages, highlight certain passages, create my own custom Newspaper, sync eNews automatically to my Blackberry/pc and have access to over 300,000 possible eNews feeds. All of my online reading in one handy dandy place. Enough of the pity party! I need to stop crying and just find an acceptable alternative ;-)

So what IS out there for Mac ebook readers like myself?? Headed on over to Apple's downloads site and did a quick 'ebook reader' search. There is:

GrassGame eBook Reader 1.5 - free ebook/pdf reader. Only problem is, I couldn't figure out how to work it. And it wouldn't recognise any of my ebook files. Hmm, gotta be something I'm doing wrong, 'cause it's not doing it for me.

There are a couple of web apps (if you don't know what those are check here) that're great if you have an iPhone. Can I comment on that? Learning that the iPhone makes a fantastic eReader is NOT helpful to me. I don't WANT an iPhone. I just want an ereader that'll work on my Mac AND open my .prc files. Please :-)

Performed a general Google search and found that there is:

eReader Pro 2.7 - eReader Pro for Macintosh is used to read eReader.com eBooks on your Macintosh computer and/or laptop. You can read ebooks, add bookmarks, navigate your ebooks with ease.

Well crap, that's all I've been able to find so far that works with a mac. ARGH! If anyone knows of an alternative that is as good as, or better than, Mobipocket please let me know. I WANT ONE. Like, yesterday ;-)

Conversion - I did briefly look into the option of converting my Mobi files into eReader compatible files but the conversion issue *throws hands in air* way beyond my comprehension. And considering I spent money on the damn things I'm not about to muck around with them and possibly lose text or something in the doing. Bah humbug!

Am dabbling in listening to audiobooks at the moment, just as a filler. Went to Project Gutenberg (remember them from a much earlier post?) and found Anne of Green Gables in their Audiobook section. Gosh, I love that story! Have used chapter 1 as the audio clip in my blogger profile. Tried to get the 4 yr old nephew to sit still long enough to listen to Oscar Wilde's 'The Happy Prince and other tales' - my mother used to read his works to us when we were young - but he just wasn't having it. Two minutes sitting still and gone, headphones dangling over the back of his now-empty chair. So much for that!

Note: the 11 year old nephew has taught me a new shortcut (and yes, it'll probably cost me another icecream in payment). Shift+Apple+4 allows me to choose what part of a screenshot I want to capture, and it will then take a snapshot and automatically save it to my desktop. From there it's a matter of seconds to insert the picture into my post. Churr, churr!

It seems the pc is not so lonely. The nephews are Guitar Hero fanatics and play it online. Much to my surprise, the nephews (11, 9 and 4 yr old) are familiar with artists like Heart, Pearl Jam, Living Colour, Aerosmith, Santana and Rage Against The Machine. I was playing 'Carry on wayward son' by Kansas the other week and realised that the 4 yr old niece was singing it word for word. She and her father play it on Guitar Hero. If you don't have the game yet, or want to see what the fuss is about, you can play it here. Umm the site is in Portugeuse, and no the boys don't speak/read it either BUT when it comes to games some things are universal!

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Infodoodads : Worldcat

by tosca on Wednesday, August 27, 2008

As stated in the previous post am looking at infodoodads 'Top *13* Web 2.0 Tools for Librarians' list. So today, from the list of tools we didn't cover in our Manukau Libraries' Learning 2.0 tutorial, I am selecting Worldcat.

Worldcat - First things first, have created a free account and followed the confirmation link in my verification email. With Worldcat I am able to:

- search the collection of thousands of their member libraries around the world
- build a personal profile and let other Worldcat members know about my interests, personal web pages and messaging addresses (with as much, or as little detail, as you wish)
- maintain public/private lists of books, videos, dvds etc. owned by libraries, and share with friends/colleagues

Quickly fleshed out a profile (pic, few interests etc.), started searching for books by the author 'steve berry' (present-day adventure fiction based on historical fact, hmm, read him and you'll see what I mean). So, typed in the author in the Search box (didn't bother to limit to books, dvds etc - chose to 'Search everything'), was given a selection of books and chose 'The Templar Legacy' record.

Going into the record and scrolling down to the bottom is a 'Libraries' tab and in the box beside 'Enter Location Information' I typed 'Manukau' and got nada, zip, zero, zilch. So tried 'Auckland', and ditto - how shocked was I to learn Auckland is not the centre of the Universe?! So went with 'New Zealand' and bingo was his name-o. Apparently. Only thing is, it then lists every gosh-darn blessed library in Godzone with a copy of Steve Berry's 'The Templar Legacy'! Which wasn't quite what I wanted. Blue hyperlink means catalogue link and will take you straight to that particular record, no hyperlink means no catalogue link. Chose the Hamilton City Library link and went umm err to a keyword search page in their catalogue prompting me to enter a search term. Disappointed. So tried Nelson Public Library's link and YAY ME.

Geez, spent so much time on the above that the point of Worldcat went WHOOSH over my head. So, if you really want to know what it can do read here. Advantages from a staff perspective? Must admit, still gotta play in here properly to get an idea of that. Benefits for Manukau Libraries' customers? Err unsure, actually. It galls me to admit that. You can read more about why libraries should join Worldcat here. I gotta be honest though, I don't see the advantages of Worldcat myself. Maybe to view other people's lists and get some ideas for what else to view/read/listen to. And the reviews. I'm just not getting out of it what I've read other people do. I feel worried that I'm not on the same page. Even the thought of knowing I can use it to search the world for books doesn't appeal. If you're reading this and you are a user of Worldcat, feel free to leave a comment and let me know how/why you use it! I'd love to read your first-hand stories and I'm always keen to fill the gaps in my ignorance.

Oh hey, have been trying to test Meebo Me from home and had no luck whatsoever. So hooked up the other laptop and pc to the modem/router so all 3 of them were sharing the broadband connection and got the nephews to play in the Chatango application with me. Fun! Jax was on the small laptop, Markie on the big pc and me on the mac powerbook. Not a serious bone in their bodies so all of their chatspeak consisted of, 'Egg' and 'Noddy' and 'You're a noodle.' Yes, it probably wasn't the best idea to have a 9 and 11 yr old test it with me! You can get an idea of how it works (or at least what it looks like) just to the right *points right* And it irritates me to have to ask the 9 yr old what the shortcut keys are because I'm pc-literate and apple-ignorant. For now!

And yes, I did decide to go with the mac option rather than pc. Why? Probably because I can. And for the novelty. Unforunately, I keep hitting shortcut keys that do nada for me here. Would imagine over time that would change. And as I type this post up the nephews are still playing in the Chatango app - last I saw they'd moved on to seeing who could type the most animals the fastest. Yes, they are easily amused - but all they're asking for in payment is an icecream each and I'm pretty gosh darn sure my pocket can stretch that far. Maybe :) It's simple enough to delete all previous messages (and thank goodness, considering the nephews toilet humour geez), just log in on the app itself, go to the settings and delete previous. Easy peasy.

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Learning 2.1 - Thing 25 : Newsletters in a Pop! (Letterpop)

by tosca on Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Well, heck. No sooner do I decide on a 'plaction' (what our 4 yr old calls a plan of action) when I hafta go and change it. So, here's the deal for alternate posts: NZ public libraries implementing web 2.0 tools (till I run out of libraries), Learning 2.1 tutorial (till I finish the list), infodoodads Top 13 list (ditto), anything that catches my interest.

Learning 2.1 - Thing 25 : Newsletters in a Pop!: am having HUGE problems utilising Letterpop's site - and it's to do with our work settings on our pcs, rather than the site itself. From home it works not a problem - come here and I'm up the proverbial *sigh* It'll let me change settings, it won't, it will - it won't.

Anyway, the gist of it is that with LetterPop you can create newsletters etc. online (click here, drag template there, drop picture there) with relative ease (unless you're at work, like me). Once I'd done that I was meant to place a link for it in this post so you could get an idea of what it's like. Well, naff to that - cos it doesn't work for me here. So will instead point you to an item created by PLCMC's workshop participants here.

What I could get to work (before it started playing up and not working) was actually quite good - but realistically not so great for us here in Manukau Libraries. We have our own branding scheme that comes complete with associated templates, which means sites like LetterPop aren't our thing. Staff wise. But no reason why we can't send customers there if they're looking for something a little different than Word/Publisher.

Note 2: am also having HUGE problems trying to test Chatango and Meebo here at work - nothing to do with the programmes themselves. All to do with our work settings, methinks. At home, on my Firefox browser it's great (I harass the siblings into testing them with me, they make great guinea pigs - and they're free labour). Here at work - not so much. They show as greyed out boxes or I can never get a connection *sigh* For aesthetics I prefer Chatango, logistically I think Meebo might serve us better. Were we to head that way, that is! The Meebo picture provided is taken from their products page so feel free to check out what it is, and why we might benefit from it. Then, if you're still not convinced, check out other libraries that are utilising Meebo as an instant message reference service.

As an aside, was working on a Library Explorer programme (a Cubs group were coming to visit) and saved it here in the Learn.Net in Microsoft Word 2007. Didn't think at the time - emailed it to my work pc and then couldn't open it. Incompatible file! Ran it through Zamzar and voila - less than a minute and a doc I could open. YAY ME! Although the pop-ups are a tad bit annoying. Still, it's free. So much for my plaction - this post has turned into an amalgam of all 4 geez.

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NZ public libraries and web 2.0 tools . . .

by tosca on Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hey! Remember, I'm a library assistant and this is not meant to be a comprehensive guide of any sort. It's my personal exploration of Manukau Libraries' Learning 2.0 programme, PLCMC's Learning 2.1 programme and a look at which NZ public libraries are using web 2.0 tools. That's the limit of my disclaimer. Read ahead at your own peril :)

Hastings District Libraries - has a blog which I have been enjoying reading. They also use Library Elf which I like the idea of. It's a reminder service that allows customers to receive email alerts: before items are due, on extended loans/reserves, for complete lists of items issued to you and/or your family members. It's a free web-based service run through a third party site and customers create an account with Library Elf (using their barcode, selecting a pin and choosing Hastings District Library from the list). There are quite comphrehensive instructions for how to set it all up. They have an 'Ask the Librarian' service for email reference queries (answered 9am-5pm weekdays only. Charges may apply).

Hutt City Libraries - always had a soft spot for Hutt City. My early childhood years were spent in Petone in one of those beautiful old homes (1st kindy, 1st school, 1st library card) with weekends on the foreshore or at Percy's Reserve. Went back there a couple of years ago and it seemed so much smaller and busier than I remembered. Enough reminiscing! Hutt City Libraries has an 'Ask the Librarian' email service, and they also provide a link to their Research Service Policy. Their Central Library has WiFi capability! Nice. Hey - they have a 'Recently available' menu in their catalogue, and a variety of book lists.

My previous post was emailed in to Blogger and my Zamzar pic didn't show up BLEAH and our council email bit at the bottom of outgoing mails popped up in the post as well *rolls eyes* So don't do what I did - please read to the end of Castro's chapter on the various ways in which posts can be submitted. Then you'll see the instructions for how to clearly define where the end of the post should sit. D'OH@me. If ever there were a good argument for not skipping that would be it ;)

Am currently reading 'Red: the next generation of American writers - teenage girls - on what fires up their lives today' edited by Amy Goldwasser and 'The cult of the amateur: how today's internet is killing our culture' by Andrew Keen. I am curious, if nothing else. Gosh, the blurb alone lets you know Keen's standpoint right off the bat, and it was prob that more than anything that made me curious, 'In today's self-broadcasting culture, where amateurism is celebrated and anyone with an opinion, however ill-informed, can publish a blog . . . the distinction between trained expert and uninformed amateur becomes dangerously blurred.'

Sometime this weekend I had better stop reading so much and start my next assignment. Real life - it's so intrusive!

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Learning 2.1 - Thing 24 : Got file conversion issues?

by tosca on Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ok, I have to confess that I have no patience, tact or diplomacy whatsoever, which is why I don't have the good sense to wait until I've finished looking at other NZ public libraries to see which bits of web 2.0 they're using before beginning to make my way through the Learning 2.1 exercises found here. As a sop I'm going to mix it up and every alternate post will be NZ public libraries blah blah blah. Ok? Ok! If you've finished the Learning 2.0 tutorial at least have a look at the 2.1 version. If you don't want to attempt it FINE - but, like Stereophonics, there's no harm in just looking and not buying (and that's a reference to their song 'Just looking').

Thing 24: Got file conversion issues? In answer to the post title, yes, we did used to have conversion issues on our Learn.Net before our recent upgrade. I haven't had a problem yet and *touch wood* won't - although I have noticed that some people are not aware that there are sometimes ways around conversion issues. Much like the bear that went over the mountain (once again, showing my age) I went to Zamzar to see what I could see. As I'm not after paid access (free good is my lifelong motto) I won't be able to: store online, mange files with a personal inbox, rename files, delete files, have no ads and an email support response time of 'Best effort', I'm good to go. Although if you'd use it a lot, then definitely signing up for their paid service would be well worth your while. The discovery exercise is to take any document created in a word-processing program and try steps 1 - 4 at Zamzar to convert the file to pdf, check your email once it's done for the final product and create a post about how this service might be useful to staff or library customers. Quickly typed up a file (chose the first few lines of Kansas 'Carry on wayward son') saved it to my desktop (well, Council's desktop, rather).

Step 1: I selected the file via the 'Convert file' tab. Don't be too concerned if it doesn't show in the box beside 'Browse' - it should display at the bottom under the heading 'Files to convert:'
Step 2: is 'Choose the format to convert to' and I selected pdf under the dropdown menu.
Step 3: entered the email address where I want to receive this file
Step 4: click 'Convert' (note that by clicking you agree to their Terms)

Dialogue box should pop up alerting you to the fact that your DOC file is about to convert to a PDF file and the link for it will be sent to the specified email address. Press OK to start or Cancel to amend. Selected ok and then watched the 'Uploading - Please wait . . . ' for a time. Umm how long is this meant to take? Woohoo - here's the email now. Get the usual spiel about why paid access is a good thing and then partway down is my file link. Downloaded the converted file and I now have 'Thing 24 - Zamzar.pdf' on my desktop. Handy dandy little sucker! And so easy to use even I got the hang of it without breaking it. There are a crapload of file formats for images, doc, music, video and 'other'. The best use I see for customers is that they won't need to download a variety of programmes because they can get it all (or maybe almost all) here. For free (remember, free good!). I never did get the hang of Adobe and now I needn't rush. Lazy, eh!? Is it possible to post pdf files here? No idea. Must find out, if only to show it works. The next time I'm in the Learn.Net and maybe field a conversion issue query I'll have another trick up my sleeve.

As an aside, this post comes to you via my email! Have requested/issued 'Publishing a blog with Blogger' by Elizabeth Castro and it's full of little gems that I've not yet managed to find on my own. Such as posting via phone (ok, that option is out for me) and email. Following their handy dandy instructions I've fixed my settings so that I can email straight to my blog. Only I can do this as I've entered a code into my settings which means: no code - no post. You can view/request our copies in the catalogue. I recommend it! It has step-by-step instructions and illustrations (yeah, I never did get past needing pictures for some things - although manuals for putting together a gazebo still escape me). Although the fine tuning of things like pics in Outlook drive me cross-eyed - but I just had to try it once. Sheesh.

Have just finished reading 'Blogging heroes: interview with 30 of the world's top bloggers' by Michael Banks. Great subjects, excellent questions and, even better, tips, hints, suggestions for how to write successful, helpful and/or moneymaking blogs. What I found interesting is the various types of applications that they like to use, and the reasons why. Am going to try some of them so I suppose all y'all will be my guinea pigs. Am currently reading 'Baghdad burning: girl blog from Iraq' by Riverbend, which is a collection of Riverbend's blog posts of life in Baghdad both before and during the war. If nothing else, these two books give you an idea of the scope, and the way, in which blogs have the power to change lives. And our view of war. There's also 'Baghdad burning II: More girl blog from Iraq'.

Keep in mind that I'm posting this via my email so if it looks crappy too bad :0) I figure it'll smooth out as I go along. Peace, love and mungbeans!

Hmmph - have since been back in to make this look how I initially wanted it to look so there! Said I wouldn't, but I did.

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NZ Public Libraries & Web 2.0 tools . . .

by tosca on Monday, August 18, 2008

Gidday! So, carrying on the from the last post, I'm looking at public libraries throughout NZ and seeing if/how they've implemented web 2.0 tools. Last post looked at Auckland City Libraries and Christchurch City Libraries (they're my favs). From now on I'll be looking at other libraries alphabetically. So I don't stray from the point (as I am wont to do) I'll look at whether the sites contain: blog/s, RSS feeds, wiki, tagging/social bookmarking, social networking, video, podcasts/vodcasts, ebooks.

Dunedin Public Libraries - must admit have never looked at their site before. Not even when I spent a week or so there a few years back (think I was working at ACE then). One thing they do have that I like is a 'Featured e-resource' spot. Not sure how often it changes but this one is Books & Authors, a Gale database that 'offers new ways to explore the endless possiblities and combinations of books, authors, genres and topics.' They do have a blog which I spent some time reading through. They also offer their newsletters online and have a number of booklists for new titles (books, dvd, cds etc.). Users can also send in Music or Book reviews by filling out this online form.

Hamilton City Libraries - am kinda impressed by their Customer Charter. They do have RSS feeds - so all of the latest Hamilton Libraries info comes straight to your browser, reader or email. Contains very clear instructions for how to subscribe using either of those options, explains what RSS is and offers four possible feeds. Oooh they're on Facebook AND they have a book chat blog! In fact they have 3 blogs: Teen Reviews, Book Chat Blog & Kids Blog. The Book Chat Blog tends to be more adult oriented fiction, and each review contains a 'Reserve a copy' link that takes it right back to the catalogue. The teens/kids reviews don't really do this I noticed. They have a 'What's Hot' section with pictures of titles and an electroniz magazines section. Nice one, Stu!

ACK! Am looking at purchasing a laptop and am havering between the Mac/PC dilemma. Have been reading a variety of articles and message boards about the debate (which is better etc.) and spent a lot of time laughing myself stupid (not hard, I know) over the 'Get a Mac' ads with Justin Long - and am leaning more towards a Mac. Heck, he alone makes me want to get one. Still thinking (still hurts to do that).

Currently reading 'Blogging heroes: interviews with 30 of the world's top bloggers' by Michael A. Banks, and you can view/request that in our catalogue here. Am also skipping my way through 'Podcasting and blogging with GarageBand and iWeb' by Robin Williams and John Tollett. You can also view/request that title from our catalogue.

Have discovered that there is life after Learning 2.0 - there is, in fact, Learning 2.1! This list tells you the ways in which you can extend what you've learnt a bit further, and was set up by the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (or PLCMC). If you remember, it was Helene Blowers from PLCMC who set up the original Learning 2.0 programme. Once I've gone through NZ public libraries who're using web 2.0 tools I plan to work my way through Learning 2.1 as well. Just 'cause I can, and because I'm nosey :)

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Green with envy . . .

by tosca on Saturday, August 16, 2008

I have spent quite a bit of time during the tutorial looking at other library web pages and seeing how they've implemented the use of the web 2.0 tools. Have also spent some time noticing which parts they've opted to implement and how customers are using them. Which led to my noticing, just over this last week and a bit (maybe just this week) that Auckland City Libraries and Christchurch City Libraries have made significant changes to their sites, and I am enjoying what they have done so far. I have also used this opportunity to look through other national public library pages to see wassup. I'll start with my current favourites:

Christchurch City Libraries - I have long been a fan of their site and have suffered envy pangs over their website and, from a Readers' Advisory perspective, have salivated over their online booklists for at least the last five and a half years that I've worked for Manukau Libraries. Their front page is uncluttered and clear with minimal scrolling up/down, and the headings are unambiguous. I decided to have a look at their Subject Guides and enjoyed that the links don't necessarily lead only to the catalogue, or to non-fiction resources, but also to local people, museums and articles, such as this one regarding music for relaxation and therapy. Because of my previous position as a young adult liaison I would often cruise this site for ya info/booklists and was always impressed by their teen site The Pulse/Te Auaha. There's some fascinating stuff here and it all links back to local content: from an interview with Hannah King (talented musician), to posting music/band reviews, to movie reviews and author interviews. I especially like how all relevant borrower information (opening hours, job vacancies, events calendar, blog etc.) are all listed very clearly to the right of the page. Simply click and follow. They even have LiveOnline which is an online interactive reference service so the general public can get help using databases or whatever. Whoa - notice that their hours for this service are Mon-Fri 9am - 9pm, Sat/Sun 9am - 4pm. That's dedication! Hell, I could go on forever about them, I won't, except to say I am enjoying their blog. Have recently read their 'Morbid Thoughts' post that asks 'What's with all these books obsessed with death and cramming everything in before the grim reaper appears?' The author refers to such titles as '1001 books you must read before you die,' and 'Unforgettable things to do before you die' and suchlike. Funny!

Auckland City Libraries - while my envy of Auckland City Libraries' website has never been of the falling-down-dying variety to date, it may well be headed that way since they've made some quite big changes lately. The overall front page look is a lot cleaner and less cluttered than it used to be, and I especially like that they've got 'Site Contents', 'Our favourites' and 'Quick links' right there as soon as the page loads. They have a Library blog link that provides 'commentary and views on key library topics.' This page contains 5 blogs for viewing interest. Decided to follow 'Scooper on libraries' which looks at future/current trends in public libraries and how the internet/technology affects them. I can't decide if they have too many blogs available or not - who's to say how many is too many? Personally, think I'd prefer an eclectic mish-mash all in one. Might have to come back to that later.

Got sidetracked looking at their 'New and Recommended' section, in particular their 'Recommended lists'. This idea fascinates me! The lists are submitted by staff and website members - who are not necessarily library borrowers. How do I know?? Because I completed their web account registration online form. D'OH. I then followed the registration link sent to my Gmail address and was able to login and, from now on, I am able to start/join a discussion on topics, place comments on blogs, create/comment on recommended lists. Whoa heck - you're even able to put together a profile complete with nickname, picture and a few comments about yourself (would imagine interests, hobbies, fav authors etc. would suffice). Although I have resisted the temptation to do this. The beauty of their recommended lists is that you can choose by All, Celebrity lists, Members' lists, Kids, Librarian lists. Each category displays a listing of whatever titled lists have been placed here, and can be arranged either alphabetically or by popularity. Still in the vein of 'play' I went for 'Members' lists' and 'A list of great DVDs for Happy Rainy Days.'

Crap, as usual I've gone on ad nauseum about one thing in particular, so I suppose the next post (in a day or so or whenever) will look at another couple of public library websites. Maybe if I even stop procrastinating I'll create a recommended list of my own and post about that. Maybe. Did notice that while Christchurch goes for the live virtual reference session Auckland has opted for the 'Ask A Librarian' service where borrowers leave their question/feedback here with their contact details. Is it a biggie? No idea, really. Just a general observation.

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Jack Kerley, Ning & Bill Drew

by tosca on Friday, August 15, 2008

Ning - is a social networking site where you can 'create your own social network for anything.' Had a quick squiz through the site before thinking about joining and noticed that there's all types of groups here. The front page alone gives you some clue to the eclectic nature of interests: FireFighter Nation (network for firefighers, rescue, EMS & responders, The Urban Prankster Network (Global Agents of Stealth Comedy), ASPCA Online Community (fellow animal lovers), Nerdfighters (they fight against suck, they fight for awesome - that's not my spiel, that's theirs) and many others just like (or maybe not like) these.

Very briefly, Ning was founded in October of 2004 as an opportunity to provide a place for people to create their own social networks. If you'd like to read more about it (which means I hafta type less - always a bonus for you) you can read about them here. The Ning Platform allows users to 'create, extend and customize their application to meet their particular needs'. Because I'm highly curious (aka 'nosey') I decided not to sign up and make my own network so much as check out a social networking group already registered with Ning.

Am still making my way through infodoodads' 'Top 13' list, which led me to Bill Drew's Library 2.0 Ning group - since its inception it has attracted some 2,000 plus members. Drew's network is for librarians/library staff interested in Library 2.0 (much like us). Within this network are other groups of different types of libraries from all over the world (Science Librarians, Public Libraries, Business etc.). Like Topsy it growed and growed. So, I signed up, created a profile (picture, interests etc.) and have been poking around generally being nosey and seeing what others are doing/interested in. Oh my goshness (as the 4 yr old nephew says lately) you can add music either from your own computer or from a website (hmm, wonder if it'll let me add radioblog) although you do have to have the right to upload them. Makes sense - copyright issues so hmm won't be adding anything of mine. Am hardly gonna write to Barenaked Ladies and ask them for the rights to upload their music! Eep! I guess you could pimp out yer page, too, as they have a heap of Gadgets that you can browse through and use for yer own. So I have added 'Beer Pong' to my profile LOL and you can view that here. Only hmm, can't figure out how it works so off to find something else instead.

Am currently reading Jack Kerley's 'Blood brother' with the ever conflicted Carson Ryder and his seriously brilliant yet twisted serial-killer brother Jeremy (family reunions are few and far between and always a minefield of emotion). I often get bored with series crime fiction partway through (like Cornwell, Grisham, Evanovich etc.) and keep up with them mostly out of habit/duty. I feel that the storylines become too formulaic. There aren't many crime writers whose book I continue to follow after the first few, and Jack Kerley and PJ Tracy are among those few.

Have just finished Sarah Addison Allen's 'Sugar queen' and 'Garden spells' and enjoyed them both very much. Her writing reminds me of Alice Hoffman, whose work I also enjoy. What else have I read lately? Err Dorothy Koomson 'My best friend's girl' (and oohh it's a tear jerker, dammit), R.D. Wingfield 'A killing Frost', Louis Theroux 'The call of the weird: travels in American subcultures', Cassandra Clare 'City of bones', Jules Holland 'Barefaced lies and boogie-woogie boasts', Ngahuia Te Awekotuku 'Ruahine: mythic women', Chris Trotter 'No left turn: the distortion of New Zealand's history by greed, bigotry and right-wing politics', Dee Brown 'Bury my heart at wounded knee' (which I read once a year and always makes me sad and NO it's not a mills & boon novel). Umm think that's all I've read this month. It's a blur!

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Chatango and Meebo

by tosca on Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gidday gidday! Have been playing around (again) with ideas for the implementation of web 2.0 tools in Manukau Libraries (I know, they're gonna be sick of me and ideas) and came across the infodoodads site. I had fun browsing through infodoodads stuff. It's put together by 5 information enthusiasts and is a blog that discusses existing and new tools, services, and technology for finding information on the internet (that's a direct quote from their 'About Us' page which you can find here). They put together their 'Top *13* Web 2.0 Tools for Librarians' and I've decided to work my way through some of them that we didn't cover in our own tutorial just to have a looksee.

One that caught my eye, and probably more for the comment than anything else, was at number 2 on their list: Meebo and Chatango, which are chat programmes used as virtual reference services at some libraries. Apparently, Oregon State University Libraries added the Chatango widget to their library website in 2007 and reference questions increased in one term by almost 400%. That's pretty phenomenal - so I wanted to play with it myself. Or at least see how it works. No harm, no foul, yeah?

Probably more for nostalgic reasons. I was an Xtrachat fan years ago and managed to make my way around New Zealand getting to know some very interesting people, including a librarian from Ohio who spent some time tiki-touring the country visiting the people she'd chatted with while online back home. For the most part I have kept in contact with a lot of people on and off over the last 10 years or so. Not that that's what I expect Chatango will be for - D'OH - but I want to see how the idea of chat has changed in 10 years (when I first went online). Also even used ICQ once upon a time, although not so much these days. Found out today (thank you, Google) that a lot of Xtrachat users headed on over to Lepoirat's site and are now at Country Radio Chatroom.

Chatango - Headed off to Chatango and signed up (very easy process, and basically kept the same username/password details as I've used for all my 2.0 stuff), filled in my profile (hugely interesting but there you go), chose my colour settings (yeah, I doubt it's that important but there's a huge selection - went for 'Good morning' theme) and then got to decide on the URL myself. Went with catatonichataholic for consistency and then got the HTML code to add as a page element to the left *points left* So feel free to check it out, play with it or whatever, because I will be. This is the link to my free live chat page.

Headed on over to Meebo to check it out and err ok. That's all I have to say. It reminds me very much of MSN Messenger. Very easy process to sign up and fill out the profile. Once my Meebo id was created I was able to add my Meebo Me widget as another page element, yet again to the left *points again to the left* so view and play or what have you. Meebo has chat rooms that you can either join or create yourself but can't say I wanted to. Pass!

The logistics of how it would work for Manukau Libraries is beyond me - remember, I'm not so great on practicalities. Good at ideas and suck at practicalities. But am definitely gonna ask. Would imagine the big query would be who the heck would man such a service and how? And quality control. There are probably other issues but hmm, like I said, I dunno what they would be. So watch this space while I play and find out . . .

Hey, as an aside, have plowed my way through Kenyon's 'Acheron' and thought the cover would make a fantastic tattoo. But the first half of the book spent a lot of time going into the back story of Acheron - but most of it I'd managed to pick up through other bits of the books in the series. Hey, even I can connect the dots! And it's in hardcover *sigh* Looks fantastic. Thank you, Fishpond. Have handed in the first assignment for my 72271 User Education & Reference Skills paper and celebrated by reading (and skipping, thank you Daniel Pennac's right number 2) 'Acheron'. Hmm, kinda undecided - the jury is still out!

For those of you who do like to buy online (I buy dvds on Trade Me or with Amazon) try Fishpond or On The Shelf. On The Shelf is especially good if you're after back catalogue copies of series. They have a great collection of science fiction and fantasy titles (especially hard to get ones that we no longer hold such as Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov etc.). They're quite reasonably priced, too. And from memory (although it's been a few months since I last shopped online there) a great selection of classic junior/young adult fiction titles. So give them a go if you're that way inclined . . .

Kenyon promotions, book trailers & the rights of the reader

by tosca on Thursday, August 7, 2008

I have a confession to make. Well, a few of them, actually. Nothing too obscene - after all, this IS a work related blog, right? Right. All of my confessions are book related.

Confession #1: I read Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series. NO! That's not quite correct. I DEVOUR Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series. Vampires, demons, gods, wereanimals, the quintessential battle between good and evil - hey, I'm a sucker for that kinda thing.

But not just do I read her work, I have greatly enjoyed all of the promotional effort that has gone into the release of her newest (and BIGGEST) Dark-Hunter book yet, 'Acheron'. Since having signed up for email alerts I have received notification of: the book trailer (yes, a video trailer for a BOOK - that leads to my next confession), the Dark-Hunter Facebook quiz, an excerpt AND, last but most definitely not least, a 4 minute interview with 'Ash' (I kid you not, there is an interview with a fictional character - how DELICIOUS, and according to Confession #3 I have the right to mistake a book for real life, so there). And I, like the sucker that I am, have not just watched/read whatever was sent out - I ENJOYED IT ALL.

I have seen the library's newly received copies coming across the circulation counter this morning and have salivated with envy. I have not opted to merely request this title. And I have not succumbed to impatience and purchased an e-book copy. Oh no. Not this time - I have pre-ordered a copy from Fishpond which will arrive in the next day or two. But I did do something I probably shouldn't have done but do all the time (which will lead to confession number three) and as soon as my copy arrives I will start at the beginning . . .

Confession #2: I watch book trailers. Admittedly with mixed emotions, but I still watch them. And sometimes, I even enjoy them! Book trailers, believe it or not, have been around a little while now. According to Wikipedia a book trailer is a video advertisement for a book - much like a movie trailer. A lot of them you can find online and some even screen on tv (not here, in the States). The term itself 'Book Trailer' has since been trademarked and is owned by Sheila Clover of Circle Seven Productions.

The first Book Trailer to be launched publicly was in 2003 for a book convention in Shreveport. The trailer was for 'Dark Symphony' by Christine Feehan - which was how I came to learn about them. I have read her books on and off for a few years now and in 2005 I saw one of her trailers. It was my very first time, and last time, for quite some time. It was a mixed experience and I winced the whole way through it. It was great - the quality, the sound, the way it was put together - but I wasn't totally sure what I thought of the idea. Totally selfish reasons: I could not divorce MY idea of the characters from that of the author - which is daft, right? 'Cause if anyone should know what the characters are like it would be the author! I have since gotten over myself (yes, how shocking) and watch them quite often these days. If you are even slightly curious you can try some here.

Confession #3: I read the ends of books before starting at the beginning. In fact, I have done this most of my life. From 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' at 6, to Robert Ludlum's 'The Parsifal Mosaic' at 10, to Judy Blume's 'Forever' at 11, to Louis L'Amour's 'Sackett's land' at 12, to Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina' at 16, to Dostoyevsky's 'The idiot' at 20, to Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' at 23 . . . right through to today. I sometimes have this twinge of conscience, but it never lasts for long. According to Daniel Pennac I have the right to skip. In fact, as a reader I have many rights, and I would not have found out this little gem if not for my fourth confession. Pennac's book 'The Rights of the Reader' is illustrated in Quentin Blake's inimitable style and is a reminder to us all of our right to read anything, anywhere, at any time - as long as we are enjoying ourselves. I am employing Pennac's fourth right as a reader - the right to read it again - and enjoying his book once more. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Pennac, I feel a little better for skipping to the end . . .

Confession #4: I read Christchurch City Libraries' blog. And I enjoy it (does that make two confessions in one??). I came across it quite by accident. That isn't to say it was hard to find, just that I wasn't purposely looking for it. Don't the nicest surprises always come that way? I have long been an admirer of Christchurch City Libraries' website and take every opportunity to peruse at leisure. I am fair green with envy - and it was in the middle of an envious jag that I came across their blog post entitled 'Confessions of a wannabe Children's Librarian' who has never read Harry Potter! katiegrady then proceeds to list each of Daniel Pennac's 'Rights of the Reader' (there are 10 in total) with a confession of her own for each. Surprisingly good stuff - and I know exactly what she means by each of her own examples.

I, however, will not list a confession for each of Pennac's rights. Instead, I will stick with my four - it was a push to count that high. Ok, I'm lying, I have more but I ain't listeing 'em. Today. Although I will admit that I did not enjoy Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code' and quite happily exercised Pennac's 3rd right - the right NOT to finish a book. If you take the time to request/read his book 'The Rights of the Reader', which you can search for here or request here in our catalogue, feel free to stop back and tell me which right you've exercised most recently .

As an aside, I did finally decide on my trip dilemma. I will extend my New Orleans Mardi Gras trip by a few days extra to visit Memphis and then Nashville. See you same bat time, same bat channel!

The 23rd Thing!

by tosca on Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kia ora, gidday and welcome! So, this is 'The 23rd thing!' exercise from our Manukau Libraries Web 2.0 tutorial, which you can find here, and it has certainly been an experience and a half. I am to use this post to reflect on the last few weeks and post a few thoughts about my journey through this programme. Tall order! My mind is distracted - I'm trying to toss up whether or not to extend my New Orleans Mardi Gras trip to slide in some time in Memphis - hey, never been an Elvis fan but even I wanna see Graceland! Might know the answer by the end of this post - although I seriously doubt it.

This tutorial has raised a lot of questions in my head. Questions about the current way in which we deliver online services and ways in which we might be able to add to the experience. I don't expect that they all be answered but I'd like to know whether or not they are possible and if not why not. Or if so, how we can get on to it. I saw 'we' - like the royal 'we' - but I really mean our Lib Sys team :D

Questions & How/Where I see parts of this programme working:
Blogs being used as another means of promoting our library activities: newsletters, new stock, displays, photos of branch activities, events happening in the libraries and throughout Manukau City, and provide a way for them to reach us should they be that way inclined. I would imagine that any future blogs (assuming this is viable) would have to be in line with our branding policy (colours, fonts etc.) I could even see competitions with the best blog content etc. Hmm, maybe even make THEM go through the tutorial lol - half serious.

RSS feeds/Web feeds to promote new titles (which we now have), new programmes (reading or other, e.g. holiday programmes, Manix etc.), events in libraries and city-wide, electronic newsletters, library closing hours (although not emergency closures, I notice on our ideas wiki a comment that emergency closures/job vacancy listings wouldn't work so well as it has a timeframe).

Wiki as a means of collectively organising: subject guides (or what we call pathfinders) - be nice to have them all in one place not just for us but for customers, too, research tips etc. using links to websites, databases and linking back to our catalogue resources, library brochures. For staff, we could use it to collate staff instruction resources e.g. tutorials, handouts, suggested readings, teaching techniques, tips & tricks and our procedure manual (maybe, not sure how practical that is).

YouTube as a way to post videos of hmm ok, maybe won't work so well for us. Was thinking along the lines of promoting new titles, book reviews, orientation, commercials. Seems like a lot of work. Once again, no idea how practical this is. Probably not at all! Although I noticed that Denver Public Library used it to post competition entries for a YA event. Also, Papakura Art Gallery very recently used YouTube to host an art gallery exhibition where artists upload videos delivering messages about road safety. Maybe scratch that?

Podcasts/Vodcasts to show/tell borrowers how to search the catalogue, place requests, access 'My Info', maybe a welcome speech from the head of our public library system, an inside view of each branch, instruction on how to search some of our more popular databases, storytime sessions (record one of our childrens' librarians taking a storytime session), library updates/news and events, maybe even a page with a general listing of free vodcasts/podcasts for customers to choose, invite teen/junior readers to submit reviews this way. How practical is this? No idea!

Social networking - hmm, am not totally convinced either way about Manukau Libraries using Bebo. Could be shortsighted, wouldn't be the first time and no doubt won't be the last time. Maybe because the intended audience is predominantly young - I wonder if that could be my main objection. That, and it's informality. If I were to suggest using it for our branches it wouldn't be for all services, maybe just for the YA bookclubs. Facebook seems a tad bit classier - it's probably meant to lol. And MySpace - I can't get past the dodgy content. Over thinking it? Probably.

Zoho Writer I can definitely see the merits - pointing customers in that direction would almost eliminate the use of floppy disks, writable/re-writable discs and flash drives, and for certain we wouldn't have to worry about compatibility issues. Also wouldn't have to worry about staff who weren't totally au fait with burning to disc/saving or accessing files on flash drives (yes, it does confuse some people). Certainly something like Google Docs was an excellent way to keep track of points for our Manix programme participants a year or two back.

Downloadable media collection - is this possible for Manukau Libraries? I noticed that Hennepin County Library has a specific downloads page (yeah, I know, I've mentioned this in past posts but I was THAT taken with the idea that I'm like a kid with a new toy) for customers to download audiobooks, videos AND music. I did notice, though, that their downloadable music is predominantly classical - not so sure how THAT would go down with Manukau Libraries' customers. Surely not ALL music? Oh ok, pretty much. Just tried to limit a search for 50 Cent + Just Downloads and got nada, zip, zero, zilch. Ok, so maybe not exactly what they've got! Which made me curious about the type of downloadable videos they offer - and they tend to be classics or documentaries. Oohhkay, then! Maybe just the audiobooks is the way to go then?

New York Public Library's eNYPL collection goes a few steps further and has ebooks for loan as well, which are readable on Mobipocket or Adobe. Their audiobooks are compatible with iPod, iPhone, iPod touch and other generic mp3 players - they come in either mp3/wma format. YAY THEM! Just a further note on their audiobooks - they have different types: those that are always available for download and you don't have to wait, and those that you may have to place a hold for. Wow - I didn't know you could do that. Is that a budget thing?? Unsure. Just to show you what I mean, I grabbed the first title in their 'Recently returned' ebooks (yeah, it's lurid looking but HELLO it's an example - besides, don't be a literary snob) and eNYPL owns 4 copies, 1 of which is available now. So, that's how it works! Looked through their downloadable music and umm no rap, reggae etc. Seems to be classical, concertos, opera, instrumental, film, choral, ballet etc. Err don't know that would be wholly popular. Am wondering if that's a money/copyright thing? Don't know.

Is there any chance that we would move in this direction? I have no idea of the costs involved but would really like to know, although I don't suppose this is a practical idea if we weren't sure people were going to use it - no point having a service that people won't access. And if we were going to have ebooks (just a suggestion) is it possible to have the more recent/popular titles - i.e. bestseller titles? Now that I'm definitely not sure of but wouldn't mind knowing the answer to.

Am more aware, thanks to this tutorial, of the things I do online and how what I've thought of as two separate activities (my playing and the library) could actually meet quite well in some respects. Have also learned not to be a snob about the ways in which customers choose to use library services. Somewhat. Will also probably keep up this blog as I explore other types of libraries in other parts of the world and see how they reach their virtual customers :)

And no, I still don't know whether or not to add Memphis, Tennessee to my trip!

Upcoming posts reading programmes for adults - book trailers! Watch this space . . .

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