Wednesday, November 30, 2005

We just won a major award!

Ok...complete and shameless self-promotion ahead, but my beloved place of work just won the National Award for Library Service! I love that I work with people who are so passionate about libraries and who do amazing things with their passion. Cheers to all! It's an honor to work with you.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Right Fight: ILS Customer Bill-of-Rights

Yes! John Blyberg's post on ILS Customer Bill-of-Rights outlines exactly what we should require from our ILS vendors. Vendors aren't bad folks. But they are in a business, and we need to require standards and let them know what is acceptable for us, and what is best for our patrons.

1) Open, read-only, direct access to the database.
2) A full-blown, W3C standards-based API to all read-write functions
3) The option to run the ILS on hardware of our choosing, on servers that we administer
4) high security standards

From John: "Given these tools, libraries would be empowered to roll out new services and features in their time-frame, not that of the vendor. Vendors could still (and should still) provide templates for the more popular features such as RSS, but we wouldn’t be reliant on them. It would also let vendors focus on what they really should be focused on: the quality of the automation system itself. This isn’t a take-us-through-the-next-3-years feature. This, alone, is a major evolutionary necessity for the survival of the online library. If we don’t get this, we will fall irrepairably behind the curve."

I couldn't agree more. So, how do we get the ILS Customer Bill-of-Rights as ingrained into library culture as the ALA Bill-of-Rights?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Library 2.0 part 2: What Library 2.0 means to Michael Stephens (and friends)

Fantastic post from Michael Stephens, "Do Libraries Matter: On Library & Librarians 2.0" on the ALA Techsource Blog. He reviews Ken Chad's and Paul Miller's post at Talis: Do Libraries Matter? The Rise of Library 2.0, and adds his own spin.

Michael suggests, "Please put a discussion of Library 2.0 on the agenda for your next staff meeting! Your users and staff will thank you for it!" What a cool idea. Ok, I'm on it.

Michael's posts: thought, heart & action.

I can't imagine a cooler job than working on the Web in a public library.

Library 2.0

It's taken me a few weeks to catch up from Internet Librarian--the usual drill, so much excitement for projects, long to-do lists, wanting to get things rolling, trying to get the right people in the right room for things to catch fire, and you know, trying to keep all the projects we have already started up in the air. (Selecting a new CMS, designing a new Web world, working with a new Intranet system, community Web partnerships, e-audio books, link resolvers, hiring new staff--woo hoo! etc, etc, etc...)

Anyway, I just got around to reading, "Library 2.0 Movement Sees Benefits in Collaboration with Patrons." There are some great quotes from folks like Jenny Levine, and Jessamyn West, but my favorite quote about the impact of web 2.0 tools on libraries is from Aaron Schmidt: "Asking if these tools will replace librarians is like asking, 'Are power tools going to replace carpenters?'"

Overall, the article is fine, and certainly, it should be printed off and left lying indiscriminately around staff rooms, copy rooms, and anywhere your colleagues might stumble upon it, because I realize that library 2.0 has yet to be realized....but I admit the title makes me prickly. It's like writing, "librarians see benefit in books." Collaborating with patrons is the essence of what we do. Here's my wish: in the near future, articles will no longer focus on teaching "shy" librarians how to use Web tools, or figuring out how to "get them [librarians] to interact with patrons through blog comments, IM and Wiki entries," or about how IL is a bunch of librarians speculating how to "survive in a world of Web-based, user-created content." It's not a matter of librarians being taught how to use the tools, being cajoled into interacting with patrons with said tools, or speculating on how to survive in a world of (gasp) patron-created content.

Librarians will not have to be taught about new tech; we'll be the teachers and the developers of Web tools. Librarians will be the early adopters, and libraries (and library Web sites) will be the places where the public learns about new Web tools, and finally, librarians won't be thinking about how to survive in web 2.0 or web 3.0--they'll be the pioneers that are creating it, and creating new worlds for patrons to interact, create, and engage. This isn't just a's already happening in libraries everywhere, and I would argue that this is what Internet Librarian is really about. It's not about how to survive in the new world. It's asking, what new worlds will we create?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Future of Public Libraries from InfoCommuner

Ok, ok, I work with (and actually for) Tim Rogers aka InfoCommuner, but that is entirely by choice. It is because of him that I returned to the library world in the first place, and after reading this post, you'll understand why. Everyone should be so lucky to work with someone with vision, energy, and brains. (And no, he doesn't pay me to promote him--plus, we're a public library--we're in it for the glory, not the money ; )

I love this post on the Future of Public Libraries. Here's just a snippet, but you'll be happy that you read the whole post.

"It’s not just about hooking folks up with the printed page anymore ... there is too much value out there in experiences and emotions and conversations that just can’t be transmitted through the old paradigm of library work. Interaction creates the connection that will drive the next generations, and libraries need to be a part of that.The last chunk ... engagement that changes lives and builds community ... to me, this is the holy grail. It’s the stuff that allows us to move past learning, past understanding and into real action. On this plane, the library takes a central role a facilitator for community change and public good. It will occur on a personal level as well as across neighborhoods, cities, and counties. The library will not simply be the building, the collection, the technology, and the staff working to achieve something good and valuable for the community ... Instead, it will be all of those things plus community volunteers, civic leaders, educators, healthcare providers, business leaders, and of course library patrons. It will be all of these folks together working through the one perfect partner for community well-being, the public library."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Moby-Dick, PRI, and PLA preconference reading on the dock

Ok, ok, I've only been half-joking about a Moby-Dick reading on the pier in New Bedford as our own unofficial preconference to PLA, but I'm not joking anymore. Tonight's PRI's show on artists inspired by Moby-Dick has cemented this for me. To top it off, the show began and ended with my mentor to end all mentors, the wonderful person who showed me what passion about Emerson, Whitman, and (of course) Melville really looked, felt, tasted, smelled, and sounded like, and who, oddly enough, told me to go to library school, Beth Schultz.

Even if we don't read it cover to cover, I WILL be at New Bedford on Tuesday, March 21, 2006. If you're in, let me know.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Library or Marketplace? Cathedral or Bazaar? Yes. Morville’s Ambient Findability

Woo hoo! I just finished Peter Morville’s book Ambient Findability. I actually started it on my trip to Monterey and IL05, and quotes from the book quickly wove themselves into our presentation, but this weekend was my first chance to complete my dive into the book.

It’s a fantastic read full of engaging ideas, history, research, philosophy, practice, cool new tech, and ancient questions that continue to challenge us and which remind about everything I liked about library school.

I also really like his writing style that is sort of Whitman-esque as he skips from cathedrals to tsunamis to text chat, from shorelines to beehives, and from platypuses to fire to flickr. Everyone involved in libraries, information, and the Web should read it.

Some of my favorite quotes:
“Information is about communication. It involves the exchange of symbols, ideas, messages, and meaning between people. As such, it’s characterized by ambiguity, redundancy, inefficiency, error, and indescribable beauty.” (46)

“ ‘having information is painful and troublesome’ ” ~ Calvin Mooers

“Our ability to make informed decisions will depend on how we allocate attention and trust, how we define authority, and how we employ metaphor.” (154)

Some of my favorite ideas:
Folksonomies, taxonomies, and more. It’s a both/and world
I loved his discussion of metadata, and the way he embraces both the traditional and the cutting edge. It’s sort of a something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue kind of theory, and it totally works for me. It also reminded me of one my favorite MD quotes: “There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.”

“Semantic Web tools and standards create a powerful, enduring foundation. Taxonomies and ontologies provide a solid semantic network that connects interface to infrastructure. And the fast-moving, fashionable folksonomies site on top: flexible, adaptable, and responsive to user feedback. And over time, the lessons learned at the top are passed down, embedded into the more enduring layers of social and semantic infrastructure. This is the future of findability and sociosemantic navigation: a rich tapestry of words and code that builds upon the strange connections between people and content and metadata.” (141)

“To manage complexity we must embrace faceted classification, polyhierarchy, pluralistic adboutness, and pace layering." (153)

From Marcia Bates (don’t call her Marsha ; ) Users don’t use library methods or systems. They use what’s easy. (61) Accessibility is “ ‘the single most important variable governing the use of information.’ ” (160)

People like computer systems that flatter them. Should our Web page flatter our patrons? (55)
Design matters. Good design= credible information, happy patrons (56)

Collaborative foraging, expert way-finding, information transfer, and symbolic communication: what can we learn from honeybees? (20, 61)

Oh, yeah: honeycomb: Morville’s honeycomb of user experience (109)
Modules of the honeycomb: Useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible, credible, valuable
“More opening move than endgame, it gets people talking about qualities absent from the diagram and catalyzes discussion about goals and priorities. Is it more important to be desirable or accessible? How about usable or credible? In truth, it depends on the site’s unique mix of context, content, and users, and any tradeoffs are better made explicitly than unconsciously.” (109)

Humans are irrational. We don’t know what we want, and we change on minds on that. And yet, we try to build computer systems that figure out what we want. Bounded irrationality (156)

You are not the user ~ The experience is the brand. ~ You can’t control the experience.

You can’t use what you can’t find.

What we find changes who we become.

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Flickr: ambientfindability

Glassworks: The Public Library as the Center of a Digital World

Here's an overview our presentation at IL05, and a link to the slides. We had a great time presenting, and it was really gratifying to hear so much positive feedback. Now, we just need to write the article ; )

It was cool that we presented after Lee Rainie started his keynote with a discussion of how, as technology becomes more and more prevelent, it becomes invisible. A great lead in to thinking about glass as a metaphor for Web content...

Glassworks: The Public Library as the Center of a Digital World

To create glass, you must heat a mixture of raw materials to such an extreme that their molecular bonds break and then quickly cool the newly created substance in order to lock the atoms into a random state before they can form into a perfect crystal arrangement. In other words, glass, the very substance that makes our high-speed digital networks possible through fiber optics, is a type of frozen chaos. The potential for glass, like the potential of digital resources, is limited only by our imaginations. The goal of the Johnson County Library’s Web site is to become the center of everything local and to create a clearinghouse of digital community information. To realize this goal requires creating, repackaging, and organizing content; providing the staff to develop and support the content; and building buy-in from the organization, area agencies, and the community at large. Using glassmaking as a metaphor for community Web development, presenters discuss the planning and future of the library’s focus on creating and managing locally relevant Web content.

Why compare glass and glassworks to Web content and content development?

1. To help think about and expand thinking about what Web content is, what it can be, and how libraries can make the most of Web content to enhance the lives of the people they serve.

2. Think of the basic forms of matter: gas, liquid, solid. However, glass is its own form of matter. It is similar to liquid, and it is similar to a solid, but in fact, it is a unique form of matter. This is one of the most important reasons to think about Web content through the “lens” of glass. Although Web content is like other information, communication, and entertainment mediums—in fact, it is something completely unique—a form unto itself entirely.

3. The potential for glass, like the potential for Web content, is limited only by our imaginations.

4. Glass, like Web content, can reflect and interpret the world around it.

5. Glass is the very material that makes the many possibilities of Web content possible. Our fiber optic networks are simply very pure glass, transmitting information through light. Because glass can transmit an unbelievable amount of information at an unbelievable speed, library Web sites have the potential to serve as “the interplay of ideas at the speed of light, guided by glass.”*

Here are the slides (it's a huge file, but the photographs are pretty ; )

We've thought about doing another presentation entirely online through OPAL. If you're interested, let me know.

*At the Corning Museum of Glass, an exhibit on fiber optics is entitled “The interplay of ideas, at the speed of light, guided by glass.”