Monday, August 27, 2007
I think she may be new my idol... :)
Thursday, August 23, 2007
On an entirely different note, did anyone see Andrew Keen on The Colbert Report? Is it just me, or is his entire persona pretty much pretentious and obnoxious? I mean, I definitely disagree with most of his viewpoints, but I had never actually seen an interview with him, and I didn't realize his whole personality and demeanor were so condescending in general. Ick-o-rama.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Wait, what?!!! You'd think with all my complaining and scheming and daydreaming that I would be ready for this by now, but when you actually start to put your ideas in motion, all sorts of problems and issues arise. Suddenly we are getting very critical of our planned navigation, and how will we deal with third and fourth-level nav, and what about server stuff, and what are our online forms coded in?! Oh, and we want to overhaul the content too, so new pages have to be created for all the first and second-level links. Yikes!!!
Some issues we've already encountered:
- What to call that pesky database page? People obviously get confused by the term (and rightly so, in my eyes.) So far we've settled on Online Resources.
- What links should go down the left-hand side of the page? These will be our main navigation, and will stay consistent on all pages, so they need to be helpful and fairly self-explanatory. (Right now we're thinking of using Research Tools, Library Services, Special Collections, About the Library, FAQ, and Contact Us.
- What size screen/resolution to design for? Too big and there will be side-scrolling, too small and there's way too much white space. We're thinking 1024x768 might be a good middle ground...
If anyone has any insight on good library website design, or sites they think are particularly well-done, please send them this way, I know for a fact that I am in over my head, and would be so thankful for any tips!
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Search engines generally don't understand either content on the Web or the content of user queries; they work through keyword analysis, link weighting, and other statistical methods that allow an engine to produce more or less relevant results without ever needing to understand the implicit question in the search query. [Hakia] recognizes the concepts that lie behind the search terms and attempts to match those rather than keywords. Read more...>>
Monday, July 30, 2007
I generally didn't have a feeling one way or the other about the stories. As I've pointed out to friends in the past, although I do get irked by the librarian stereotype and the general ignorance of people in general as to what the heck it is we actually do (why do people assume the job is the same as it was in the 1950s? They don't seem to make that assumption with other fields, they logically assume those other fields have evolved and changed over the years...) But in all honesty, as a young single gal, I have in fact used the "sexy librarian" stereotype to my advantage (just saying you are a librarian makes for a great pick-up line...) So you see I'm leery of biting the hand that feeds, so to speak.
Anyway, in response to the call for better library-related stories, I just wanted to point out a good article on CNET.com. It doesn't talk about anything that's news to the library world, but it does serve as a great little reminder to the general public that libraries have grown and changed over the years, and that we are attempting to compete in the digital domain.
I think sometimes we librarians spend so much time around our resources that we forget how little the outside world knows about them. Sometimes it's enough to simply point out what's available at your library, even if it's nothing new or "exciting"...
(Oh yeah, and for two more good links on the topic: Cultural Images of Librarians by John Hubbard and Hipster Status, Determining Your from A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette--too funny!)
Friday, July 27, 2007
Ok, no, I have the winner, it would have to be the Canadian government document: "Who Are the Zombie Masters, and What Do They Want?". That's your hard-earned tax dollars at work Canada. (And yet they still have money for national healthcare... go figure!)
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
(thanks to cat in the stacks for the heads up!)
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
So in that spirit, I've gotten a Feedburner account and made that feed the default feed for the blog. Not that I imagine there are tons of readers out there, but if anyone who subscribed before say, last week, could kindly switch to the new feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheInfoBabe) that would be just the awesomest! :)
Oh, and also, I only just now realized that I hadn't set my account to email me when I had a new comment, so imagine my surprise to see that I actually had a few! Thanks guys, and I'm sorry I didn't reply to them, I didn't know they were there! In the future I promise to be better with that.
And from the other bloggers out there, any tips for a n00b? Good ways to promote yourself without being obnoxious (self-promotion is a tricky subject indeed...)? Or technical stuff regarding blogs that all serious bloggers should know (aggregation, archiving, spam, tracking and analytics...)? Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!
Monday, July 9, 2007
So with all the strategic planning sucking up the majority of my brain-power (and patience), I've been a little scattered in other areas. Mainly, I've had some trouble figuring out just what exactly I'm supposed to be doing with the rest of my day. Ok, that sounds bad, I know. But my job title is a bit vague, at best: I'm an information services librarian. Seriously, that's about as specific as my undergraduate degree (in mass communications. Heh.)
Now there are two parts of my job that are fairly self-explanatory, the instruction and the reference parts. When I'm performing those duties, I'm either in a training classroom teaching students how to use the library and its resources, or I'm sitting at the reference desk (usually reading my RSS feeds.)
The third part of my job is outreach, and over the summer, that is slow to say the least, seeing as no one is really around to reach out to.
So any free time I have falls into the tenebrous category of "professional development". I try really desperately to keep up with what's going on in the world of technology, and to find ways to apply relevant technologies to the world of library science. But given the broad interpretation of my job description that my library likes to take, it has become increasingly hard to focus. I like to think I'm generally on top of things concept-wise, but I'm having a lot of trouble finding ways to use that knowledge practically.
My library (like many others, I suspect), is sadly behind in terms of using technology to optimize itself, and I desperately long to re-establish our relevance on campus, but I have no idea where to start, and I am fast growing weary of trying to be the agent of change on a staff where half the people are just patiently waiting to retire, and really don't want to be bothered with all my upstart nonsense.
What to do, what to do?! No really, tell me, cuz I really am kinda clueless on this one. Any suggestions?
(Oh and mind you Blogger is not helping by acting so buggy today! Please, I am a girl with four blogs, this is the fastest way to drive me insane!)
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
As the internetz-luvin' peeps of the world are oft want to do, they are protesting, and there is a website set up to fight the bill. They are encouraging people to contact their congressperson to support the Internet Radio Equality Act (you can find your congressperson's contact info on the site...)
I don't usually weigh in on copyright issues, (I'm a songwriter myself, and I do understand wanting credit and compensation for your work...) but this just seems like another case of the recording industry fighting tooth-and-nail against progress and technology, instead of figuring out how to capitalize on it.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
In fact, the only reason I bring this up at all is because the whole issue is being brought to my attention right after a conversation about writing I had yesterday. I was talking to a friend about how I am interested in foraying into the world of academic publication, why I enjoy blogging, and how I think my blogging has actually made me a better writer in general.
You see, I love electronic publishing in general for the ability it affords to provide instant clarification, background or support for what you are saying (through hyperlinks.) I loved this idea from the very first time I read Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think" where he expounded upon the idea of hypertext. To me, this allows authors the ability to add so much more value to their writing, linking to relevant definition, sites, audio and video. (Man, there are some books that I would love to be re-published online with hypertext, so I could get all the author's allusions and references.)
Not to mention, publishing on the internet gives us the ability to instantly fact check... and that makes me strive to be more accurate, not less. Now I'm not saying that the internet is not rife with crap, of course it is, but without leaving my computer I can more easily distinguish between fact and fiction. This leads me to evaluate content based on its own accuracy and reasonability, rather than just based on the reputation of the author and the publication.
In fact, it is this desire to be accurate and back up my statements that has made me a much better scholarly writer, because it has taught me how to recognize vague or opinionated statements when I make them, so I know when I need to cite my sources or provide additional information, a skill that is not always so easy as it sounds.
And the truth is, I have two separate blogs, a personal one and a professional one, and I do in fact treat them differently. For example, in casual writing, I tend not to use capital letters (yes, I know this can be annoying, but it's been a habit of mine for years now...) My writing style here is a little more formal, and I hardly ever mention personal issues that don't deal with librarianship, my career, my education, or my job. (Not that there is anything wrong with mixing the two, my personal life is just a little too personal for general public consumption.)
I honestly don't know what's up the Gormster's bum (besides his head, of course...) If you don't like blogs, don't read them. If you want to get your information elsewhere, well, then, um... get it elsewhere. I don't see how you can feel so strongly against blogging in a world full of war and poverty and suffering. Ok, now I've resorted to commenting on the issue, which I said I wouldn't do... But hey, I'm just a lowly blogger, so you can't trust anything I say anyway...
Monday, June 4, 2007
Aaaaaanyway, that post made me think about the web, and how it allows pretty much everybody who has access to it (along with proper equipment and bandwidth) to try their hand at pretty much anything (ok, I'm over-simplifying, I know, there probably aren't a lot of easily accessible tools and programs for molecular biology... But you get the point.) But for many mainstream professions, it's true... Anyone with a blog can be a reporter... And anyone with iMovie can be a producer. And I seem to remember from grad school that you can download older versions of ProTools for free, so why not try your hand at music?
Does this mean that professional reporters, producers and musicians are now obsolete? Should we trash those professions altogether? I doubt anyone is suggesting that, so why is it that they are suggesting that librarians are no longer necessary just because anyone can perform an internet search? Doing something as a hobby or on a small scale versus doing it as a profession are two very different things, marked by notably different skill levels. No one is saying that Google can't help you find information, we are just saying that librarians are better at it. 90% of the time Google will find you the information you want, and that's fine, but there are times when you need to consult an expert.
Now please don't get me wrong, I am not against Google, or blogging, or personal podcasting or whatever, mainly because I <3 web 2.0 in all its glory, and am not paranoid about it stealing my thunder (or my job...) I think it's great that so many people can have a voice where once things were much more homogenized. And I also think it's a great method for discovering talent. Really good bloggers don't stay anonymous for long, they become well-known and well-read, and are often considered professional "reporters" in their fields. Just because you start small on the internet does not mean you are forever an amateur... I just don't see why web 2.0 must hail the death of the librarian. Vive la librarian!!!
Friday, May 25, 2007
This past weekend I met up with some college friends in Vegas (you can check out my pics here, if you feel so inclined...), and they expressed their continuing disbelief that I am actually a librarian. My obsessions with organization and technology (which no one actually associates with librarianship anyway, much to my constant chagrin) not withstanding, I think I actually stepped foot in my undergraduate library four, maybe five times tops in my four years there.
Now, at first this dirty little secret brought me much shame (along with the fact that I never actually took a reference or cataloguing class in grad school, shhhh! Don't tell!!! There were just so many fun tech classes I wanted to take more...) But on further thought, I think my college library neglect actually makes me a better academic librarian. Now THAT is going out on a limb, right?
But seriously, how many librarians do you know insist on sticking their head in the sand about the reality of how libraries are actually perceived? I think one of the great things about the library 2.0 movement is that we are truly aiming to reinvent the traditional library, and to once again make it a thriving, relevant presence in the lives of our users.
I know how undergraduates think, because I was a very, very typical one, and not all that long ago. So instead of fighting the same old battle of pushing the traditional vision of the library on them, I can imagine what would have actually gotten me to notice and use the library, and take it from there.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
My justification to them for such an expense? Here goes...
First and foremost, the library’s website is long overdue for an update, ideally including a redesign. Although the redesign of any website inherently carries some risks, probably the most notable of which is making major changes to a resource that is already familiar to its users, the ever-evolving nature of the internet and the emergence of web 2.0 concepts makes an update desirable, if not necessary. Website success can often be traced back to several important concepts, including simplicity in design, logical organization and navigation, media richness, and interactivity. In that vein, the new site should be more intuitive to navigate, and organized to facilitate ease of finding information for all levels of user experience. There should be a focus on technologies enabling communication and interactivity throughout the site, and access to resources and services should be seamless.
The chief goals of the new site would be:
- Optimize space on homepage
- Improve navigation
- Integrate web 2.0 technology (interactability)
- Clean up content
- Improve access to resources and services
- Guided navigation for new users (on homepage only)
- Logical hierarchical navigation for normal users (on left-hand side of each page)
- Quicklinks – direct to resources – for expert users (on top right of every page)
The site would also make better use of web 2.0 technology, featuring a news blog to relay important information about the library and information resources in general. The blog would be updated regularly and be featured on the library’s homepage.
A library blog can be a very useful tool for reaching all of the academic community, not just regular library users. It can be used to draw attention to information about library services and resources that might otherwise be buried in the library’s regular website content. It will also act as a witness to how active and necessary the library is, and can promote the role of the library as an information source and guide even to those not currently using “traditional” library services, by also focusing on general web resources, services and applications. In other words, the blog will seek to make the library visible to faculty and students who have “forgotten” about it.
To better reach the students, care must be taken to keep current on what technologies they are currently using, and to integrate those technologies into library services. For example, instant messaging (IM) could be for reference, and social networking software (such as Facebook and Myspace) can be used for outreach and promotion.
Some guiding questions for integrating technology into library services:
- What technologies are the students and professors already using? Let’s bring the library to them (without investing in new technology just because it’s “new and cool”)…
- Can we find a way for professors to create course/subject pages with important links, or a way for professors to contribute to our “resources by discipline” (since they are the subject-specialists)
- Is there some way to allow users in general to identify relevant resources?
Another important issue is online access to library resources and services. The library currently uses a proxy server to authenticate off-campus users, and users also have to register with the library (with their student ID number) to receive a PIN to access certain services. Ideally, they could log in with their username and password and that would provide seamless access to all library resources and services.
 McFedries, P. (2006). The Web, Take Two. IEEE Spectrum, 43(6), 68-68. Retrieved April 2007 from the IEEE database.
 Palmer, J. (2002). Web Site Usability, Design, and Performance Metrics. Information Systems Research, 13(2), 151-167. Retrieved April 2007 from the Business Source Premier database.
 See ACRLog: Formula for Academic Library Success (http://acrlblog.org/2007/05/14/formula-for-academic-library-success/academic-library-success/academic-library-success/)
For my super-awesome powerpoint presentation for this proposal click here.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
In my absense, I leave you this post from Ellyssa Kroski at InfoTangle on designing for the new web. It is from her CIL presentation on the topic, and it put into words a lot of what I have been considering for our new site design. I think I had been absorbing all that advice from playing with web 2.0 apps, but it's really great that she put it all down in words and organized it for me :) Anyway, I attended one of Ellyssa's workshops at METRO and I'm so glad I redescovered her blog through the Library2.0 network.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
And as if that's not enough, the other day I had a bit of drama that had me back-tracking my internet steps for about an hour. Now, being the forward-thinking librarian that I am, I try to maintain a "professional" presence online (through this blog, as well as Myspace and Facebook pages, among other things.) But I also have a personal life online, and I work with members of the general population who I do not want knowing everything about me on such a personal level as some of my online entities allow. I generally try very hard to make sure there are as few as possible linkages between my professional and personal online personas. (Obviously I realize that a savvy user can track me down if they really want to, but still, I do my best to maintain a distance between the two...)
So the other day I decided to start writing a new library-related blog (which would allow me to speak as myself, instead of being the "royal we" of my library's blog that I maintain). All was fine until I foolishly went into my Technorati account and claimed my new blog under my old username (which I had used to claim my [very] personal blog). Duh. Super-duh. Because you see, I had included a link in this new blog to my work blog. Now when you looked up my work blog in Technorati, it showed that this new blog linked to it, and when you clicked on the author of this new blog, you saw it was also the author of my [very] personal blog (wow, that was a mouthful, huh?). So I spent the next hour unclaiming and unfavoriting blogs in Technorati so as to destroy the chain of association. Oh yeah, and I had to go into del.icio.us and un-share all my personal links, because this blog links to my blogroll through del.icio.us.
Is it me, or has my online life become incredibly more complicated than my real one?! I mean, I used to be one of those people who didn't really care that I was putting so much out there on the internet, because, really, who the heck was paying all that much attention to little old me? But then you read stories like this, and, little by little, paranoia starts to creep in.
At least I'm not the only one with web 2.0 fever... (And just in case YOU haven't caught it yet, check out The Cool Librarian's Social Software page, it's a great intro to some of the more popular 2.0 apps out there.) Oh, and speaking of cool web 2.0 stuff, if you haven't already seen this video, you NEED to check it out:
Monday, May 14, 2007
Looks pretty cool, I am def. planning on going as of now, at the very least I would love to spend some time shmoozing with other library tech geeks!!! (mmm... brains...)
My library has heretofore been focusing on outreach, but my position is this, we need a user-friendly, intuitive product to promote, or all the awareness in the world is not going to help us. Users have been known to simply ignore software and apps that they find difficult to use. And facing such popular rivals as Google and Wikipedia, we can't afford to send our students elsewhere for their information.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
1.) Authentication through username and password, NOT a proxy server that requires you to configure your browser or a VPN. I know this is not a crazy wish, just a little beyond our over-worked IT department right now (and by that I mean the university's IT dept., we don't have our own, so you can see why they're so over-worked). Once logged in, the users would not only have accesses to all online resources, but also all features of the OPAC, instead of needing a separate PIN number, like they do now.
2.) One interface. Uno. Un. Solamente. Dream big, right? The interface would be Ebscohost-like, for no other reason than I like that particular interface. Through this interface, students can access our books, books elsewhere, e-books, journals, journal articles, newspapers/articles, etc. etc. They would be able to customize their search through a series of checkboxes that allowed them to choose which databases they wanted to search, and/or what kind of results they wanted (what format/media, that is).
The results would be sorted not by database (unless they wanted them that way), but by format (I'm sure most users don't care what database the journal article is contained in, so why not put all the journal articles together in the results, thereby allowing for sorting across all of them, and eliminating duplication?)
This interface would also contain links or buttons that allowed students to immediately request an item through ILL/DDS directly from the record (like in WorldCat). For requests that require a fee, students would be given an option to immediately charge their student account (or credit card or whatever...) In the case of requested articles, once the fee is paid, the PDF is immediately e-mailed to the user (one of the complaints we get most often is from users wanting immediate access to articles... No big surprise there.)
You'll note here that I am not a propronent of a simple, Google-like interface that searches everything. I know that such an interface as I propose would be very complicated, and have a steep learning curve, but it would be so much easier to teach only one interface in our library instruction sessions than 5, or 12, or 20... and it would be so much more useful if the user had control over what they were searching in, what they were searching for, and how they wanted their results displayed/sorted.
I'm definitely not techie enough to know just how much of this is currently possible, but I am internet-obsessed enough to know that this is what users will come to expect, and hopefully the direction we are going in.
Monday, May 7, 2007
When, exactly, I plan on finding time to maintain this blog, I have no idea, seeing as keeping up on the myriad of library/technology/design-related feeds I try to keep current with is fast becoming a full-time job on its own, but alas, I will, at least, try.
My interests in the world of libraries lie mainly in academic libraries, library technology, library 2.0, site design and usability, and supporting the distance student. I currently work as an information services (read: reference, outreach and instructional) librarian in an academic (engineering school) library.