Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Well, the 23 things have been interesting. Not as much fun as the weekly explorations but one cannot have everything in life. These serve well as introductions to certain types of technology. They might be more helpful and useful to people who are not comfortable just trying out new things on a whim, but can be a little tedious for people who are familiar with what these things are. However, I am grateful that they have forced me into looking into forms of electronic information sharing that I would otherwise not have touched with a ten foot pole. I think that the most useful items were the ones about blogs, wikis, and online documents since I see those as being the ones that people would find most useful. I found them personally to be the most interesting.

As far as life-long learning goals go, I think that librarything.com might be a tool that I would use long-term for book recommendations. When I'm not sure about what shoudl be read next, I often just fall back on reading my old favorites again and again and the opportunity to read recommendations and exchange reading lists with others in my free time might motivate me to try reading something I would not think to try on my own.

If an update of this program was offered in another three years or so I would probably find it helpful and be interested in reviewing the items that I was not already familiar with.


I like downloadable books. I started using them when I was working on my masters at Northern and did not have much time to read. They are just like books on tape or cd without the pain of hauling the cd player around. Before cars came equipped with built in mp3 players and adapters were cheap, the inability to listen to audiobooks with others was disappointing, but advancing technology has elimimated that problem.

Marley and Me is available for download, I have been meaning to read it but haven't had the time.


The only podcasts I ever listen to with any frequency are from npr, so I had a feeling I knew that there were a lot of people out there making podcasts, but was still surprised by the sheer amount of them. More than anyone could ever listen to. So, how does one find the best? I'm not really sure. Podcastalley and podcast.net did break things down by genre, but there are still so many shows available to listen to that I'm not sure how I would recommend a person start without suggesting that he just try some. I suppose that blogs and podcasts would work together well, if the person doing them was willing to provide both. I'm sure that nany people also recommend podcasts to others the same way one would recommend a book, so I guess that I would tell someone to keep an eye for podcast recommendations from people you like (or despise) to read.

I found lots of manga and comic book review podcasts mixed in with other book review podcasts that did not explicitly state what they were in the title. Part of the difficulty of the directory, is that it does not list with the author is next to the show. If there is author information listed, you need to expand the menu to see it. Sometimes it is not listed at all. So, until further verified, author credibility must always be suspect.

electric company

Ahh....Youtube. What can one say about it. It is the most bizarre combination of really interesting educational information and completely worthless junk out there. However, I know that almost always, if someone tells me about something hysterical or fascinating that happened on TV the evening before, I can almost always watch a replay on YouTube. I am not always very fond of how their search engine works and wonder how the results are determined, but overall, YouTube works extremely well at disseminating pop culture.

I chose this video of as my video since it is a demonstration of how long technology innovations have been educating people. It is just a matter of harnessing the education properly.


I like this site. Video and print versions of the recipes are available so if one does not want to watch a video about how to make pork fried rice, you can just exercise your eyes. Most of the otehr cooking sites I've seen, cooks.com recipies.com, don't offer video so that could be a nice option for a new cook. The restaurant recommendations that they offer only for a couple of cities so I felt slightly cheated by that since the thriving metropolis of Madison, WI is not one of them. This may be a small thing, but I find it annoying that the site mixes metric and non-metric measurements and does not provide a conversion table. Also, 366 recipes is not that many. Most cooking sites I've been to have a lot more, but making a video version of each recipe would be very time consuming.

This site might go well as a companion to a basic recipe book for a beginning cook.


Wow, I see the attraction. I have used Google docs before and liked it, but think I actually like the layout of Zoho more. I find the sheet application particularly nice. For school and home, great. I wouldn't use it for work simply because I deal with a lot of confidential information that I would feel comfortable storing on-line, but eliminating the need for flash drives for students is awesome. The layout is so similar to Office (hate it though I do), the a person cannot help but feel comfortable with the way that it looks. I love how easy it is to share and track changes as well as the versatility it gives in deciding how you want the document to be shared. All in all, I like it.


I entered the sandbox and tried to participate, but didn't see "edit" on any of the pages. That is one definite danger of technology. It is easy for it to change and then things, like the directions that instruct you to use the edit button, aren't correct anymore. That is why I would always be afraid to depend on a digital library.


The booklovers wiki maintained by the princeton public library is interesting, but there aren't very many reviews and most of the books that are reviewed only have one. It would be better if there were more reviews by more people, but that comes with time. For instance, there were only two science fiction books reviewed on the etnire site.

The Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki seemed to me to be more like what a wiki should be like. The booklovers wiki seemed more like a weblog while the Best Practices Wiki contains more information, still editable by anyone in the community, but less like a collection of opinion pieces. This was more like information sharing about practical and tried suggestions and ideas as well as conversation about certain aspects of library service.

I would think that a wiki like this would be very helpful for librarians. A quick and easy way to share success, pitfalls, and just general information with each other in a structured and organized environment.

The SJCPL wiki was a combination of the two wikis already mentioned, information about the county, and a FAQ about questions that get asked of the reference librarian. This seemed like a particularly good site for a SJC citizen as opposed to just librarians. I would think that a site like this would get a lot of traffic from the community and would be very helpful for people who might not be able to get to the library, people who have recently moved there, and people who might be unsure about what the library offers.

the future of libraries

Well, I enjoyed the practical suggestions that people made for learning to integrate with a changing and shifting future. What Miller said in his article about not shifting quickly with every trend makes a good point about the unstable nature of technology. What seems so common and popular today, may be gone tomorrow with something completely different to replace it. So, when I read articles like the one by Schultz, I am excited at the thought of being able to be so integrated with the culture, but wary about charting a course to her vision of the future. What I do admire about her vision is its dedication to meeting people where they are. I just think that where people are in this day and age changes so quickly that we are not entirely sure where we are. That's why I liked Reimer's article about metadata and being able to better utilize bibliographic information. I can see the concrete benefits of his suggestions. I'm not sure what I think library 2.0 is. Not necessarily something as experiential as what Schultz envisions, but something that utilizes Reimers ideals about information sharing.


Well, I didn't find hardly any learning 2.0 blogs despite the many blogs that the site listed. The directory seemed to say it all for me: entertainment is mostly what the blog is about with business running it a close second. Nothing wrong with that. Obviously, science, technology, and politics are also a signficant part of the blogosphere, but it seems that thus far, the people who have taken the most energy to make sure that their blog is being spread around are those in the entertainment industry.

Now, that does not meant that other kinds of blogs do not exist, perhaps merely that they are not part of technorati. So, when everyone starts adding technorati tags to their posts, they will become a part of the system. I still struggle with using blogs as sources of reliable information, but it is the way of the future, and if nothing else it obviously stimulates a lot of conversation. Personally I am not sure that I find their search engine to be that good, but the way that individuals label or tag their blogs is probably as responsible for that as anything. So, not only do librarians and those who are publishing educational blogs need to be posting good information, but they need to be taking the time to tag and label it properly so it can be found easily.


I can see a use for it. It seems to combine together a lot of different minds and that should at least give balance to an issue or inquiry if nothing else. The sheer amount of information can seem a bit daunting, but learning to organize and sift through the information is the job a librarian.

One thing that I don find a little bit strange about social networking sites, is that even when relaying "academic" information or information about library blogs, they reveal more of a personal nature than other types of information sites. For instance, when I did some looking at some of the popular tags, I was surprised at the amount of personal information that people revealed on their blogs. Does the informalness of the setting detract from the helpful information that it provides? Probably not, but it can be distracting. I find myself doing so much skimming looking for links when I visit sites like this. I don't know if I like that.


Okay, I'm struggling with figuring out why this search tool is more effective than google. I suppose that using this tool would help eliminate sites that contain erroneous or badly organized information, but you still have to trust the person who created the rollyo to have done his/her homework, so I would still review the site for accuracy before trusting it.

There can't be a rollyo for every search that someone would want to perform. For instance, I was researching popular restaurants in a certain downtown block of St. Louis, MO for work, and there isn't a rollyo for that. First, you would need to ascertain whether or not a rollyo exists for a particular topic before it can be used. Frankly, unless a roll can be found quickly it doesn't seem worth it to try and locate one and use it to search.

Also, the site did not work very well for me. I received an error message every time I tried to conduct a search.

One way I could see a site like this being useful would be to create rollyos for homework/homework help, science fair projects, things like that.

library thing

Very much like the virtual bookshelf in Facebook except this offers a lot more than just the covers of books you like. Recommended readings, quick links to places it can be bought, or the LOC for more information. If you tell it where you are located, it will even pop-up local resources to buy the book or a listing of local libraries that may have it.

The recommended reads based on "The Poems of Charlotte Smith" were a little disappointing since it only recommended other books by her, but that is a narrow field and searching for someone a little more mainstream might yield better results.

There are also different interest based groups you can join and an online discussion page. Overall, I like it. I'll have to add it to my favorites.


image generator

I don't think I really understand this since most of things seemed to be a bit silly, but I could see how teens would want to ask questions about how these. My big concern would be to make sure that virus protection is running strong before sending people out to look for image generators, but that's just me.

I tried a site http://www.jellymuffin.com/ but it was terrible. Mashable worked a lot better for me and had more mature looking options available. This wasn't an online generator itself, but recommended different sites for what it was you're trying to do.

I chose the option to create a movie poster. It didn't turn out very well since I didn't have the right size image, but I get the point. http://bighugelabs.com/


This web app is basic, but kind of fun. It also you to create a digital postcard that can be e-mailed out. I decided to use it as my Christmas card this year. We'll see how it goes over. I suppose the argument could be made "why is this any different than what someone could see on Facebook," but I still think it is nice to at least send out a Christmas card to let people know that you're thinking about them. Granted, this will make this the first year that I have not done them by hand, but it will be something new. If I don't like it, I don't have to do it next year.


I have to admit, feeds are handy, as long as you don't subscribe to too many of them. I subscribe to the NY Times and the Washington Post front page and world news feeds and enjoy being able to skim them 1x-2x a day and maybe a read an article that interests me over my lunch hour. The thing that I don't like about it is how reductive the synopses can be, but I realize that that will be true of anything where someone is trying to encapsulate large pieces of information into just a few sentences. The danger is relying solely on the headlines without actually reading the articles, but that could also be true of skimming a print edition of the newspaper too.

I've decided to sign up for the Library Journal feed. I've never really read a library feed before, but I'll try it out and see what I think over the next couple of months. The Library of Congress also had a lot of feeds available. I subscribed to the general news one since I wasn't really sure if I wanted to subscribe to a feed solely for news about digital collections, but the weekly feed about updates to the classification system could be very useful for someone working in a library that used LOC.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

google motion chart

The technology flavor of the week is google motion charts. I work for a non-profit and think that using data that we already have plugged (as summary data of course) into a google motion chart would go along way towards being able to discuss the trends I see with people who are not so familiar with the data. It's been fun experimenting with all of the different things that google is making available in google lab. I would imagine that we have only a small understanding of how these things could be used.


I usually use snapfish for my on-line photo sharing, but did create a flickr photobook for this occasion http://www.flickr.com/photos/45550641@N06/. Feel free to browse the few photos.


Ok. I have now joined Twitter (iwonttweet). Another thing I said I would never do I have done. I have to admit at this point I am only following Badger Sports and SI_Fantasy updates, but at least this is something to get my feet wet with. Somehow I just can't see myself using this for anything too profitable, but as I am not at all familiar with the kinds of things that people actually Tweet about, I guess I am being slightly judgmental and should see what kinds of things are actually available.

So, to comment on the habit that I think I would have the hardest time with, it would probably be "using technology to your advantage." Not that I don't love technology; I do. It is just that I really only like to figure out the technology that interests me (hence I have only been on Facebook for about a month). That sort of mindset could really hold me back though since at a reference desk one must be prepared to answer all sorts of questions about technology and I have an obligation to help them find the answer. I suppose what it true of anyone is true of the librarian; motivation to learn is hinged upon interest in the subject.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Trip to BC:

My trip to British Columbia:

Starting from Madison WI., go East on the Beltline to I-39/I-90 and head south. Keep on I-39 when it splits from I-90 and keep going south. Go south for 85 miles till you reach exit 25 and head west on IL-17. At Varna, take a right and head south for 20 miles to Washington. Slight detour to the in-laws house in Washington, then head east on US-24 to El Paso (19.5 miles) and get on I-39 south. Take I-39 south for 14 miles to where you pick up I-55 south which will take you the 164 miles to St. Louis, MO. Once in Missouri, take I-64 W to exit 40/A Stadium/Tucker Blvd. Go .3 miles and take a L at Clark Ave., then a L at S. 16th St., and a L at Spruce St. The St. Louis Greyhound Bus station will be located on the left at 430 S. 15th St.

Here, you board a bus at 6:45 pm that will take you the 747 miles to New Orleans through Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. It will take roughly one day, one hour, and five minutes to arrive in New Orleans, LA. Here, the Audubon Insect Museum is great! From there, rent a car and go 14.5 miles to the Louis Armstrong International Airport in Jefferson, LA. Go SW on Loyola Ave towards Simon Bolivar Ave and take the exit for I-10. Merge onto I-90 BUS E and then onto I-10 W. Go ten miles and then take exit 223B for the N.O. International Airport.

Once here, take a flight from New Orleans to Las Vegas, NV. At Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport, rent a car and head towards the Hoover Dam. Coming out of the airport, take a left onto Wayne Newton Blvd. and then take the ramp for I-15/I-25/Las Vegas/Henderson. Merge onto S Airport Con/Paradise Road then merge onto I-215 E towards Henderson/Lake Mead. Go ten miles till you come to exit 1 to merge onto I-515/US-93 S/US-95 S toward Boulder City. Go five miles and then continue onto US-93 S for another 6.5 miles. When you come to NV Hwy/US-93 go left and continue on for 8 miles. This will bring you to the Hoover Dam.

Then, we go to Joshua Tree National Park. Go SW on Hwy-93 to Las Vegas/US-93/I-15 S ramp (.7 miles). Merge onto I-15 S/US-93 S and go fifteen miles to exit 24. Merge onto I-515 S/US-93 S/US-95 S toward Phoenix/Downtown LV and go 20 miles. Continue on US-93 S/US-95 S for three miles till you can exit onto US-95 S and enter CA. Go south for 80 miles to till the road intersects with I-40. Go W on I-40 for 55 miles till you come to the Kelbaker Road exit. Turn L coming off the ramp and go for 11 miles. Turn right at Historic US-66 W and 6.5 miles till you come to N Amboy Rd where you take a L. Drive forty miles and take a L at Godwin Rd. Two miles to 29 Palms Hwy/CA-62 W where you take a R and drive six miles. L at Utah Trail and then continue on National Park Rd. Continue on El Dorado Mine Road and then drive straight for fifteen miles to come to Joshua Tree National Park.

Then, off to Albuquerque, NM. Head S for 3.5 miles on Monument Rd/National Park Blvd toward Quail Springs Spur then continue on Loop Rd. for another 14. Turn R at El Dorado Mine Rd. and drive 31 miles till it becomes Cottonwood Spring Rd. Go five more miles to you come to I-10 E towards Blythe. Go 229 miles and you come into AZ. Take exit 154 to merge onto US-60 E toward Mesa – Globe and drive 80.5 miles east through Tonto National Forest. Continue on E Ash St/US-70 E for another 86 miles. Turn L at US-191 N, go 40 miles, then turn right at Coronado Trail/US-191 N. Take the 1st L to stay on the Coronado Trail, go 11 miles, and then turn R to stay on Coronado Trail/US-191 N. This will take you a hundred miles through the Apache National Forest. Turn R at US-180 W/US-191 N and then make a sharp R at Main St/US-60 E. Continue to follow US-60 E for 48 miles into NM. Turn L at NM-36 N go 21.5 miles, turn R at NM-117 go 56.7 miles. After you pass El Malpais National Monument, you’ll come to I-40 E towards Albuquerque. Take exit 157A for Rio Grande Blvd and take a R at Rio Grande Blvd NW. Turn L at Central Ave SW/Historic US 66-E, turn R at Gold Ave SW, and continue on 1st St SW to the Amtrak Station.

Here, we will board a train at 12:55 PM that will take us to Raton, NM where we will transfer to a bus that will deposit us in Denver, CO at 9:45 that evening.

Next leg of the trip takes us through CO, into UT, and then up into ID. Once in Denver, head W on US-6 until you reach Frisco. There, take a R onto CO-9 S and head down towards Breckenridge. Go fifteen miles on CO-9 till you reach CO-9/US-285 S and drive 35 miles past Bald Mt. and Mt. Lincoln. Slight R at US-24 W and then R at E 9th St. Take the first L at US-24W which you follow up through Leadville. Stop to see Mt. Elbert, the highest point in CO. Get back on US-24 N till you see the turn off for the Mt. of the Holy Cross just before you reach Minturn. At the drive, walk 4.5 miles up an access road to get to the base of the mountain where we camp, ascend and descend the next day, then camp and return to the car. Take US-24 N again for six miles till it meets up with US-6 again. Take US-6 all the way to Fruita where CO-139 N heads off. Take a R and go 73 miles on CO-139 till you reach CO-64. Go west on CO-64 for 19 miles till it meets up with US-40 W a few miles past Dinosaur and heads into UT.

Go 113 miles W on US-40 till it meets up with I-80 N. Get on the beltline going around the city till you reach I-84W which merges with I-15 N. Follow them both up between Cache National Forest and Willard Bay till you reach Twin Falls, ID. Once there, get on ID-75 N and head N for 193 miles till ID-75 meets up with US-93 N. Then follow US-93 next to the Salmon River up through the Bitterroots Range. One hundred and ninety more miles will take you to Missoula, MT. At Missoula, continue N 27 miles on US-93 to Ravall. Take MT-200 115 miles W, back into ID. Thirty-five miles past the ID border you come to Sandpoint. There get on US-2/US-95 and head N 50 miles till where US-1 splits off and takes you 11 more miles up to the border of British Columbia.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day 4

Day 4:
This week I staffed the children’s desk with the reference librarian from the main desk. I got to do some weeding from the adult non-fiction section. This was fun since it allowed me to keep busy right at the desk while I checked circulation stats for older non-fiction books. Most of the questions again were fairly standard with a few little quirks thrown in. Probably the biggest quirk of the day came from a patron looking for books for her autistic son. She seemed to know what she expected, but not what she wanted and that made it a little difficult to find something she was happy with. She wanted more than what board books seemed to offer but did not seem to want to browse through the picture books. She seemed familiar and appreciative of the Eric Hill “Spot” books in the board book section, so I got her some of the lift-the flap “Spot” books from the picture book section and those seemed to satisfy her. Then, she asked where I had found those so I showed her and she began to browse through that section of the picture books herself.

The other sort of quirky question I got came from a woman who approached the desk, told me that she was in a hurry and asked for a specific sports biography. I looked for it in the catalog using the name of the author since that was what she gave me, but could not find it. Then she told me that she had looked it up herself in the catalog, but could not find it. It took me a little bit of thinking to figure out why I could not seem to locate it, but then I figured out that it was not a children’s book. She thought it would be located in the kid’s section and told me that it was since she was tutoring an elementary school student that was reading it. After I figured that out, it took me just a minute to locate it and tell her that we would have to request it from another library.

I also got the opportunity to show a girl how to use the OPAC for herself. I showed her where to click to limit the search to the children’s section, where to type in the keywords or the title, and what the different results meant when they were returned. Then, I walked with her and her mom over to the stacks and helped her find what she was looking for.

Maggie suggested that I change places with the intern working the adult reference section the next time I work so that I can get a feel for answering different types of questions. She also said that she would let me help her figure out what books needed to be bought to replace what we weeded.

Day 3

Day 3:
Yet another set of interesting and different questions this week. Some questions of course were standard, but some were challenging. Probably the most challenging question came from a woman who was looking for a mathematics kit. I was not sure about how to search for the kits in the system, so walked with the woman back to where the kits are kept so we could just browse. We checked them all, but there were none that dealt with math. I asked for help from the children’s librarian, but even she was not entirely sure how to search for kits from other libraries. It turns out that kits were cataloged under “generic kit” with no details provided in the entry itself. We had to click on each kit separately in order to find out what the contents were which was a very time consuming process. In the end, it was taking so long that the woman decided against trying to request one for pickup and said she would just go and check at two library branches that are not far away from Verona.

The next difficult question I had that day came from a woman who was looking for a children’s non-fiction book about leaves. She needed to identify trees by looking at the leaves with her first grader. There were no books that included details about leaves in the early reader section, only books about trees and forests in general. Then, when I took the patron over to the older kid’s non-fiction section, she was concerned that the books that we found were too difficult for a first grader. Unfortunately, I could not find a middle ground for her, at least not at that library. She ended up selecting the easiest of the books from the older children’s non-fiction and helping her daughter with the reading.

Most of the other questions I had that day were fairly standard with a request for “Swan Lake” being the exception. I did not realize that it would be kept with the non-fiction books about dance and ballet. In between answering questions and staffing the desk, I read the policies manual and pulled books for the tops of the shelves. That was actually a lot of fun since it gave me a chance to pull some of my favorites and read through new books as well. It was especially gratifying when I saw kids and parents pick some of them up for check-out.

Day 2

Day 2:
This week had a few more complicated questions than I had the first week I worked at the library. The highlights were a few phone interviews with parents. One in particular was a little bit daunting. A mother called saying that her daughter had left her book report book in her locker and she needed to get a copy from the library so the report could be completed by Monday. The daughter did not remember the name of the book or the author only that it had something to do with ghosts, a place named Graymoss, and a blue cover with faces coming out of the ceiling and a girl with a scared look on her face.

My initial reaction was to think about the books that I was required to read in middle school and look for those in the catalog, but Tiffany advised me against doing that. She suggested that I get the mother’s name and phone number and call her back after doing some looking. Then, we just used Google to do a keyword search using what little information we did have and got a couple of leads that way. We looked those books up on the Amazon site so that we couple see pictures of the different covers, but none of the covers matched exactly. The closest match we came up with was “The Haunting” by Nixon, so we called the mother back and read her the reviews and asked her to check with her daughter to see if those rang any bells. The mother said yes, so I went and got the copy that was in the YA section. Sure enough, the cover had faces coming out of the ceiling so we were sure that was the correct one. The way holds are done at Verona is different than it is at any of the Madison branches that I frequent, so it took me a little while to be familiar with how we place books on hold there for phone pickup.

The other phone interview I had was easy since a father was looking for a copy of “There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom” and could not remember who the author was. An easily answered question, this just served as a reminder of how varied phone interview questions can be. Everything else was fairly standard.

This week I also did some weeding in the kids’ non-fiction section in-between answering reference questions. It was kind of relaxing and it did allow me to answering some roaming reference questions for some older kids that did not approach me while I was sitting at the desk.

Day 1 at the Verona Library

Day 1:

First day at the Verona library was relatively quiet. There was an activity for kids that started about an hour after opening, but not many people were there when the library opened. I got acquainted with the computer system, took a tour of the library, and then proceeded to man the desk for the next four hours. All of the questions I got were fairly standard. Most of them were of the “Do you have this book?” variety with a few “Where do you keep this series?” thrown in. All questions easily answered by using the circulation catalog. I did have a little trouble remembering the layout of the section, so I did make a few overly round trips to escort patrons around the library, but did manage to find everything in fairly good time. I was not familiar with a lot of the different series that kids were requesting, so I used NoveList and some of the other databases to read reviews. Those reviews gave me a better idea of what series are popular so when kids came by (or rather their parents) asking for a particular book I knew what some of the more requested series were.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rachel's 23 Things - Introduction

Well, this is my first introduction to the world of blogging so I will interested to see how I feel about it at the end of the semester. I've always sort of distrusted social media being someone who would rather see someone and have a visceral connection as opposed to reading something that feels so impersonal, but I've decided the time has come for me to come to appreciate what this electronic medium can do. I've had a hard time adjusting to the idea that the blogs, wikis, tweets, etc. can really contribute to lifelong learning, but as technology becomes more and more prevalent, especially in the information services field, I had better learn to be able to provide the best information in the timelist way I can. So, all in all I'm hopeful that working on this blog will help me to (in the words of Habit 6) "use technology to my advantage."