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


Reference Question of the Week – 11/15/09

   November 21st, 2009 Brian Herzog

CoywolfThis almost doesn't count as a reference question, because it wasn't on library time and it wasn't even a question someone asked me personally.

But, it is an example of how libraries could use twitter to answer questions from people in the community (and why it's more important to follow/friend your patrons rather than other libraries).

I woke up one morning this week and saw this tweet from @briansawyer

Is it possible that I just stared down a coyote in the middle of the street less than a mile from my house?

I had recently gone to a lecture sponsored by the Westford Conservation Trust, on how what people think are coyotes in this area are actually coywolves. So I responded to Brian with

@briansawyer Yes, but it was probably a coywolf. WCT just had a speaker about them http://bit.ly/wwMkx (<--pdf) and http://bit.ly/srnS1

My links go to the WCT's newsletter [pdf] with an article about the speaker, and also the speaker's website with lots of information about coywolves.

A little while later he tweeted again with a link to his video blog:

I've learned that my encounter on this morning's run was most likely with a coywolf http://bit.ly/UEjli

In the video, I'm the "fellow Westford resident" he mentions at 2:14 - yay

I feel bad that the additional information didn't help reduce Brian's trepidation towards the animals, but based on the experience and facts, perhaps it's justified.

Also: it's holiday time again, so I'll be in Ohio all of Thanksgiving week. Instead of blogging, I'll be playing with my nieces and nephews. I've got a big stack of audio books for the drive, and I'll be back the week of Dec. 1st - see you then.



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Reference Question of the Week – 3/4

   March 10th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Meebo.com logo Oddly, I was just asked a question that also routinely shows up in my stats, as keywords people use to find my website. I say "odd" because I I've never answered this question, but Google keeps finding me, anyway.So, the question: a patron walks in and says, "I want to do IM chat at work, but my company blocks AOL and the others. I used meebo for awhile, but they just blocked it this week. What are some other sites like meebo I can use?"

I kind of laughed, and so did she, because she knows she's doing something wrong. But I can't judge, so I searched the internet and found a posting on the Big Blue Ball forum that listed a few. They are:

I haven't used most of these, but the patron was very happy. She says it takes her I.T. people about a month to block new sites, so she should be set for about a year with this list.

Also interesting, the Blue Ball posting pointed out that "most schools/offices allow access to secure http sites by bypassing the firewall/proxy; meebo has https access." Huh.

chat, ebuddy, iloveim, im, kool im, libraries, library, meebo, public libraries, public library, quickbuddy, reference question, webaim



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More NELA residue

   November 2nd, 2006 Brian Herzog

While attending the sessions at NELA, I was keeping a running list of social networking websites I had never heard of before, but that I thought might have some application within the library. I intended to post about all these last week, but forgot until Chris happened to mention one in an email. I know I'm probably the last to hear about such things, but here they are...

  • Readers Advisory-type Websites
  • last.fm: Pays attention to the music you play on your computer or ipod, and keeps a running list in your music profile on their website. Your profile can be viewed by others who share your taste in music, and you can find new music to listen to by finding other people who share your tastes (like Chris does)
  • AllConsuming.net: This website covers anything and everything that people consume, but the section that interested me was, of course, the books section. Search for a book to find people that are currently reading or have read it, reader reviews, and also links to other books read by these same people - I like the "read-alike" aspect of this website (although I wasn't too impressed with the design)
  • 43Things: A website where people can keep track of the things they want to do with their life, like "write a novel" [4312 people] or "learn Klingon" [29 people]. It's a way to meet people with similar interests, and have people find you
  • WebShots.com: Very similar to flickr (which I use) but apparently attracts more youngies than old people like me - but it's always good to know what the kids are up to. They also seem to have more "mature content" control than flickr does, which I found interesting
  • "Enhance Your Website" Tools
  • Even I had heard of Meebo.com, but MeeboMe.com was new. It lets you embed an IM chat window right on your website, so client software does not need to be installed on a computer. I really like this idea. I have been trying to get IM Reference going in my library, and this might be the way to go. I think, just like Meebo, it works with AIM, MSN, Yahoo and GTalk, so this would be a great tool to have available on the library's public computers. I have to play with it more, but I'll keep you posted
  • Feed2JS.org: Again, this requires more playing on my part, but from what I understand of it, this tool lets you convert RSS feeds to javascript code, which can then be easily embedded on a website. So, if I wanted to display the posts from a Weird Al Yankovic blog (and after all, who wouldn't?) right on my own homepage, this tool allows me to do so

So many websites to keep up with. The distressing part is trying to get this information to my patrons (of course, they might know about them long before I do). It seems to me that making a webpage bibliography of these is a bit anachronistic, but will serve until I find something better - so if you know of a better way, please comment and let me know.

43things, allconsuming.net, books, chris, feed2js.org, flickr, im, last.fm, library, meebo.com, meebome.com, nela, readers advisory, rss, social networking, webshots.com, websites



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