Saturday, August 19, 2006

Going to Monterey in October? Or...webbies can read, too

IL2006 is but a short two-months away. To get in the mood, we're reading Cannery Row and having an online discussion at our leisure at:

Drop me an e-mail if you want to join the Monterey-inspired reading and blogging frenzy.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Moby-Dick on NPR's Studio 360

Listen now! They are re-broadcasting NPR's Studio 360 program on Moby-Dick. It's fantastic...I have goosebumps now.

It's about how M-D inspires artists of all kinds...jazz musicians, sculptures, painters, playwrites, and more...check out the Web site. It's chalked-full of complexity, yumminess, and content.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Top-Notch Tech Training: This Friday in OPAL

Join Brenda Hough, Technology Coordinator at the Northeast Kansas Library System and Michael Porter (aka Library Man), Training and Support Coordinator at OCLC Western, this Friday, Aug. 18 @ 10 a.m. CST for an online workshop, Delivering Top-Notch Technology Training for Your Patrons.

More libraries are offering technology training for staff and patrons. Learn how to use interactive techniques to address varying skill levels, adapt to multiple learning styles, and deliver technology with greater impact.

Brenda & Michael's program will be held in the OPAL Auditorium. (Click on the title or the room name to enter the OPAL room.)

**insert promo blurb here**
The Librarian's Continuing Education Seminar Series programs are held the 3rd Friday of the month at 10 a.m. A full listing of programs and speakers is available at: National OPAL Programs are free and open to all. Visit the Web site at to learn how to join OPAL and start presenting your own programs for patrons or staff online.
**/promo blurb**

Friday, August 11, 2006

A comment about “The Culture of No”

Many of my colleagues were at NEKLS Tech Day, and they were probably all snickering each time Michael Stephens talked about how important it is to battle the so-called culture of no, because lately, I’ve totally been on the “no” train at work. I've had "no" plastered on my laptop, my office door, etc...Because I've had to launch a campaign to limit our new projects until we entirely rebuild out Web world from the ground up. There is a time to have priorities, and this is it.

So when we talk about the culture of “no”—people who are always saying no to service and ideas that would be great for patrons—we’re not talking about people like you. Yes, you.

If you’re reading this right now, let me tell you: you’re probably not a member of the culture of “no”—you probably have so many good ideas your head’s about to explode. You read all the blogs, your finger’s on the pulse of what’s happening in the library world as well as the Web 2.0 world as a whole. Your problem probably isn’t saying “no,” it’s saying “yes” too often.

And as we all know, when you say yes to everything, you can’t implement everything you want to do. And then, how well are you really serving your patrons? So, make priorities. It’s not about saying no to new projects. It’s saying yes to the projects you’ve committed to and know will best benefit your patrons. So, make decisions and set priorities about what is most important to your patrons. And say, “no” to other projects until you’re ready to move on.

And don’t you dare feel guilty about it.

NEKLS Tech Day Redux

Once again, NEKLS Tech Day was a great success thanks to Brenda, Liz, and the whole NEKLS crew.

Keynote: Michael Stephens
Library 2.0: People, Planning & Participation
Moving to a Library 2.0 World

Great points from Michael’s presentation:
Involve your staff in enhancing tech and engaging patrons--social tech isn't just for the techies

Two of the most important Web 2.0 elements:
**Harnessing collective intelligence ** Librarians are smart, patrons are smart: pull all that together
**Rich user experiences** It’s about bringing all that collective intelligence together and creating content together—remember that Web 2.0 is participatory, and it’s fun…you create fun worlds to play and customize and connect

Library 2.0 isn’t just about tech
It’s also about policies and ensuring that library policies don’t create barriers to access, tech, and interaction.
It’s also about places and ensuring that they are places of pleasure not zones of mediocrity.

Make it ok to fail (think like a Gamer—it’s a trial and error world…accept risks; learn more…this is one of the hardest things for me to do…I want to tell others it’s ok to fail, but I can feel my back clinching up just typing this.)

Engage in radical trust.

My post-tech day to-do list
Usually, when I’m sitting in presentations, all the ideas or concepts—particularly those I’ve heard about in the past---just remind me of everything I want to get done…and projects that have moved to the back burner that I need to stir up a bit. Here’s my list that bubbled up as I was listening to Michael and talking to colleagues at tech day:

a. Tag my photos up on flickr as “librarian”

b. We have a myspace page, but we need to start using it better. Who in YA could help with this?

c. Read: The Wisdom of Crowds: the group is smarter than any one

d. Buy-in is important, and one of the best ways to get buy-in is to get your administrators involved with training, with creating a culture of innovation that recognizes failure is just part of the learning process. How do we do this?

e. Talk to Tom Peters about collaborating on more promo and how-to aids for OPAL.

f. Write up a plan with Whitney and Tricia on how to bring JoCoLibrary to the next generation and give staff who want to engage options for engaging online.

g. Put JoCoLibrary up on 43 places (are we there already?) This might be a good way to encourage branch staff to jump in and play.

h. Institute ROI studies before and after a pilot (product costs, staff costs, training costs, implementation, maintenance, etc.)

i. Add to the potential leadership projects: Have a happy, friendly, experience-based sign task force—all signs—the Web page errors, the “blocked” links on filter page—look at every instance in which we’re communicating with patrons, and ensure our messages are friendly, open, and encourage access.

j. Find out what happened to our SMS/text messaging project. We were working with a student from MIT who had developed a nifty program. Where’s that at?

k. Send a note to staff who attended tech day and ask how the Web Content Team can help to implement some of the omg-we-totally-have-to-do-that ideas that bubbled up for them at tech day.

For more on NEKLS Tech Day check out..
Post from David King (who also sat on the Tech Day Panel)
NEKLS Tech Weblog post from Liz

Sunday, August 06, 2006

All is ephemeral...Everything exists in context...ontology is overrated...but, you know, we must do something

Ob 1. We're rebuilding our Web world at MPOW, which includes not just the library's Web site, but a collection of community-based, topic-specific sites as well, oh, and we're completely cleaning house and installing an entirely new content management system, new calendaring system, new search appliance, everything is on the table, and this means we've been thinking about the nature of search and meaning. (Have I mentioned that I have the coolest job in the world?)

Ob. 2. This morning as I've been upgrading my OS and running clean-up utilities on my rather neglected home computer, I've been catching up on my reading. On 5/18/2005 I printed off Clay Shirky's article, Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags. Since then, it's been sitting in my to-read pile, and yes, I have cleaned my desk since 2005, but this article has survived all attempts at de-cluttering, because I knew I wanted to read it, and I didn't want to read it on the screen. And now, I think that the grand forces of the universe have been wise to distract me from it, saving it for the perfect moment when I would need it and be in the right frame of mind to internalize it and act on the implications.

Ob. 3. In our house, gender roles aren't defined by x works inside the home/y works outside, or by other traditional designtations, but rather by Erica works with the computer, Larry works with the home entertainment system. And this morning, as I've been running OS utilities and squealing with delight at sentences like, "One of the biggest problems with categorizing things in advance is that it forces the categorizers to take on two jobs that have historically been quite hard: mind reading, and fortune telling," Larry has been playing with our digital surround sound system. After testing it, he played various DVDs to appreciate the difference in audio experiences, and he just played Magnificent Seven. And he played this scene just for me:

Townspeople milling about and trying to figure out how to solve a particularly difficult issue: in this case, how to stop Calvera (the bad guy) from taking all their food. They propose various options. A, B, C...X, Y, Z...Finally, exasperated by the options...
Townsperson 1: "We must do something."
Townsperson 2: "But what?"
Townsperson 1: "I don't know."
Townsperson 3: "We'll ask the old man. He'll know."

Old man: "Fight."

All is related. The fight for me is more of an internal struggle. Admit that there is no perfect system of classification. The nature of the search isn't dependent on a perfect system of pre-defined metadata. Now, how to create something that is "of value in aggregate" but "without an ontological goal" of a "perfect view of the world."

Everything is ephemeral.
Everything is contextual.
Beta 4-ever.

"There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself." ~ Melville

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Happy Birthday, Herman!

In honor of Herman Melville's birthday today, August 1, I'm posting one of my favorite descriptions of Queequeg and his tattoos... Just another reason why my blog is so named...

Queequeg's "tattooing had been the work of a departed prophet and seer of his island, who, by those hieroglyphic marks, had written out on his body a complete theory of the heavens and the earth, and a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth; so that Queequeg in his own proper person was a riddle to unfold; a wondrous work in one volume; but whose mysteries not even himself could read, though his own live heart beat against them; and these mysteries were therefore destined in the end to moulder away with the living parchment whereon they were inscribed, and so be unsolved to the last."

Here's to all the sweet mysteries of the world which will forever remain unpainted and unsolved to the last...

Happy Birthday, HM.