or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk




CIL2007 Tuesday

   April 17th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Librarians on escalators in the Hyatt lobbyEven though cil2007 has already been going on for two days, today felt like things really got started. I ended up spending as much time in the exhibit hall as in the sessions, talking to vendors and other librarians. Which is unusual for me, but I learned quite a bit today.

Today's sessions were good. The first was about the South Carolina State Library's experience with migrating their website to the Joomla CMS. It wasn't as in-depth and "here's how we did it" as I had hoped, but they did talk a bit about frustrations and surprises they encountered along the way, which is good to hear before starting a project. I am hoping to sometime in the future help convert my library's website from static html to something more dynamic, rssy and all 2.0'd out, and seeing what CMSs are out there helps.

This session complimented nicely the next two I attended – Comments in Catalogs, and then an overview of LibraryThing (and the new LibraryThing for Libraries). This entire track focused on modernizing libraries' approach to web stuff, and how we can best communicate with patrons – primarily by making sure we look at this communication as a two-way street.

For instance, opening up our websites and catalogs to allow for patrons to comment directly on our materials not only involves patrons in their libraries by giving them ownership, but also provides us with invaluable social data on how and why our materials are used.

And it was this social data that Tim Spaulding is mining and using with LibraryThing. Regular people know what they think of books. Tim's entire approach has been to let people associate keywords with specific books, and then let the groupings of those keywords speak for themselves. With the widget that is the basis of LibraryThing for Libraries, those groupings, (in the form of tags generating lists of similar books, suggested reading lists, etc) speaks loudly.

If we would only listen. As Tim pointed out, library ILSs and opacs, and the traditional vendors that supply them, are not really listening. Neither is Amazon. These are all companies trying to make money (which is why Amazon is not the ultimate book website. LibraryThing is for readers and about books, whereas Amazon is for booksellers and about making money). But improving the usefulness of our catalogs with third-party plug-ins is a step in the right directions, and hopefully these obviously necessary add-ins will soon becomes standard fare of the big ILS interfaces – or smaller solutions like Scriblio.

Interspersed between sessions I was talking to exhibitors, learning more about what library systems could replace Horizon, and what public pc/print station management software options are out there. I talked to quite a few, and need to sift through my notes (some other time) before I remember what's what.

After the conference we got a personal tour of Alexandria, VA, dinner in the Old Town at the Union Street Public House, and then enjoyed Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's. Tomorrow is much more conferencing, and then flying back to Boston, if the weather allows.

alexandria va, cil 2007, cil2007, conference, conferences, libraries, library, library thing, librarything, public libraries, public library, scriblio, social data, tim spaulding



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



CIL2007 Sunday & Monday

   April 17th, 2007 Brian Herzog

computers in libraries 2007 badgeA coworker of mine and I are in Washington, DC, this week for the Computers in Libraries 2007 conference. So far, I’ve been to just three sessions (and some sightseeing), and it’s already worth the trip.

First I went to Michael Sauers’ Sunday afternoon preconference session on integrating RSS into websites. This notion had always kind of intimidated me, outside of the built-in feeds provided by WordPress. But Michael showed us about 20 tools over the course of three hours which can make adding feeds very easy. Those that looked the most promising were:

  • ListGarden for writing the rss code and managing the feeds (it also supports podcasts and has built-in ftp feedspring and RapidFeeds)
  • feed2js for getting an rss feed to display on a webpage (like rss viewer, rss2html, feed digest, grazr and many others)
  • RSSCalendar for a free, web-based, rss-fed calendar of events (which can also be outputted to your own website)
  • Something that was neat, and I might like to try, was feed2podcast, which will automatically read your text feeds and convert them to podcasts in a computer's voice
  • All of this and more is available on Michael's cil2007 del.icio.us account

Next was David Lee King's Monday morning session on planning and implementing Library 2.0 projects. This was a quick session on why and how libraries can use Library 2.0 tools, and what absolutely must be kept in mind – planning. He covered blogs, wikis and flickr in very general terms, focusing mostly on why proper planning is important, and what could happen when projects are launched without planning. Basically, a lot of effort is wasted, not to mention an opportunity to communicate with patrons.

Then it was on to Jessamyn. I love her. Her pre-lunch talk was on how to sup-up your Firefox browser. She shows a bunch of plug-ins, extensions, and skins, and, in her own way, convinced a crowd of hundreds why Firefox should be on every library's public computers. I only hope they take her advice, and that I can convince my library of this.

She also spent a lot of time on greasemonkey, a Firefox extension that allows you to run little scripts to modify webpages. I've played a bit with greasemonkey in the past, but it was great to see what someone else does with it. Now I've got some ideas, and that's when I'm at my most dangerous.

The schedule for Tuesday looks like it'll be a little more filled out. Plus, the exhibit floor will be open all day, so I can talk to some vendors, too. And then in the evening, I'm meeting up with my cousin Elizabeth, who recently relocated to the DC area after finishing her MBA. So all in all, it should be a good day.

cil 2007, cil2007, computers in libraries, computers in libraries 2007, david lee king, greastmonkey, jessamyn, jessamyn west, libraries, library, michael sauers, public libraries, public library, rss



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Traveling for Business & Pleasure

   April 12th, 2007 Brian Herzog

These two weeks see me traveling to both Charleston, SC, and Washington, DC.

Pleasure in Charleston, SC
I was in Charleston to visit one of my closest friends, who I haven't seen in way too long. In addition to just getting to spend time with her, we also spent a day on Bull Island, which is part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Bull Island is an unspoiled and undeveloped barrier island just north of Charleston, and we spent the day hiking around and taking pictures. If you ever get the chance, definitely visit. Here's a few pictures:


herzogbr's Cape Romain, SC photoset Check out the rest of my Cape Romain, SC photos

www.flickr.com

Library Business in Washington, DC
(calling library stuff
"business" seems odd to me, but there you go)
This weekend I'm heading to Washington for the Computers In Libraries 2007 conference. I always enjoy Washington, and am also looking forward to the conference.

My goals for the conference are:

  • talk to vendors with time management software for public PCs
  • learn more about incorporating rss and css into web design
  • look at cms systems to replace our static html/Dreamweaver current way of doing things
  • talk to vendors about federated searching
  • find out as much as I can about open source ILSs, since Horizon 8 is a no-go
  • be on the lookout for product like Delicious Library, but for PCs and web-ready

Specific Sessions I will be attending (I usually play it by ear after I arrive, but these are definites):

  • [preconference] Michael Sauers' Integrating RSS into Your Web Site session
  • Tim Spauling's LibraryThing session
  • Jessamyn West's Firefox session

We'll see how far I get. I'm also plan to tour the House of Representatives, sit in the gallery of the Senate, finally get to the National Archives, and hang out with a cousin of mine who lives in the area. If you see me there, please say hi. Otherwise, I'll be back next week.

bull island, bulls island, cape romain, cape romain national wildlife refuge, charleston, charleston sc, cil, cil07, cil2007, computers in libraries, computers in libraries 2007, libraries, library, public libraries, public library, washington, washington dc



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,