An important function of the library is communicating our upcoming events to the community. There are lots of ways to do this, one of which is by having an online calendar.
Of course, there are also lots of software for online calendars and for patrons to reserve meeting rooms. My library just switched calendars, and so did the Blue Hill (ME) Public Library. Since we each evaluated a number of different calendar options, Rich Boulet and I combined our notes, in the hopes of saving other libraries a bit of legwork when looking at calendars.
There are more calendars than what is listed here (in no particular order), and our pro/con notes reflect the needs, requirements and situations of our individual libraries. If you have questions about how we made our decisions, you can contact me through my contact form, and Rich through Blue Hill Library's staff page.
Allows a great deal of design customization, to integrate with the look of your website
Serves as both a calendar and meeting room reservation system
A limitation is that it is designed as an "in-house" product (example, a school would use it for the teachers to reserve meeting rooms). It does have a public room reservation form, but take a little work to customize to be easy enough for the public to use
Allows for multiple calendars (Childrens, Adult, Teen, etc) all to be fed up into one master calendar
It occurred to me that this would be a great feature for a library ILS. Most systems I've seen will only give the current status of a request, which is often cryptic to staff and totally indecipherable to patrons (ie, "recieved," "transit," "recorded," "check shelves," etc).
But sending patrons a link via email or text to track their request step-by-step in plain English could benefit them to no end. Not only would it give them an idea of where their item is and when to expect it, but it would also expose what all is involved in delivering their request to them. But it would be invaluable for staff, too, being able to see all of this information at a glance, for both assisting patrons and troubleshooting the delivery process.
And I bet some patrons would also be please to watch their request be returned to the library of origin after they're done with it.
I'm sure I'm not the first person to think of this, but I'm definitely going to lobby to include it as a feature if my consortiumadopts an open source ILS. And this feature will be exponentially more helpful if, as planned, the entire state moves to that same ILS.
I was wrong. I was 10 when this book was published, but I still use many of the resources author Agnes Ann Hede recommends.
Each chapter in the book is devoted to different types of resources, and describes the best books in each area. As you would expect, most of the book focuses on print:
Dictionaries: 31 pages
Encyclopedias: 23 pages
Indexes, Serials and Directories: 26 pages
Bibliographies: 32 pages
Computer Sources and Services: 5 pages
I did get a laugh from the page comparisons, but it was certainly appropriate for 1984.
However, when I read the Computer section, I was amazed by how relevant it still is. There was no "computers are a difficult fad we just need to humor" mentality. In fact, the language she used is exactly what is commonly used today. She speaks of "getting into" databases, and casually refers to online searching (not on-line searching or "online" searching).
And her characterization and advice concerning balancing print and online resources is as true today as it was then:
[T]o be today's "compleat librarian," you must add to those [print] sources the increasingly abundant resources offered through computer technology.
The sad part is that this advice, 25 years later, is still not being fully embraced by the profession.
I debated, but ultimately weeded this book. As much as I liked it, it certainly was outdated, even though we do have the current copies of many of the print resources it recommends. But take a look to see if your library has this book. And weed your reference collection!
A few weeks ago I was searching for a quick and easy online database, and stumbled across DabbleDB.
It looks like it's been around for awhile, and after watching their 8-minute demo video, I was really impressed. It seems incredibly easy to use, and excels at turning those flat spreadsheets into the databases we all want them to be. Plus, being online, it is amazingly easy to create simple and powerful web forms to work with the data.
I was looking for an online database to create a searchable catalog for our Town-Wide History Project. After looking around and talking with the other groups involved, iwe're going to use PastPerfect Online instead, but I'm kind of sad not to get to play with DabbleDB. For a little more tech info on it, check out this post on TechCrunch.
If you've got 8 minutes, watch the demo video - it's all good, but my favorite parts are towards the end: how easy it is to move data around (the email example) and their interface for building web forms. I can hardly wait to get some time to develop an online search tool using DabbleDB - hmm, maybe our Vertical File?
Although the Kindle and other ebook devices are growing steadily in popularity, there is one advantage that libraries and bookstores still have: author visits and book signings.
Getting to listen to and meet an author in person is a great experience. And it's something that you can only do in person - right? Not any more. Amazon has announced a new program in an effort to recreate this experience for its Kindle customers.
The new "Online Book Signings" portion of their Digital Text Platform lets Kindle customers watch a live webcast of an author talking about their book, and ask the author questions via realtime chat.
But the best part is that people who buy a Kindle version of the book will also be able to get it personalized and signed by the author. A demo (Kindle not required) of three titles is below - click a title, type in your name, and then download the signed book to your Kindle. Pretty neat.
In the last few weeks, I've seen a lot of announcements concerning video content being added to online resources. Both InfoTrac and NewsBank have recently made email announcements about content they've each added to their databases.
InfoTrac added many full-text resources to the General and Academic OneFiles, some of which include video segments. NewsBank's announcement was more thorough - here's an excerpt from the email:
In response to the rising demand in libraries, NewsBank is adding video news content to our online news resources-at no additional charge to our customers. The complete package from respected media distributor Voxant includes the following sources: The Associated Press, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, local affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, as well as coverage from Canadian Broadcasting, Agence France Press and more. Your institution will have access to video clips from all or a select group of these sources, depending on your subscription.
Beginning on Monday, October 20, the videos clips will be added to NewsBank resources. Users will be able to:
Play news videos within the NewsBank interface, in the same space used to display text articles
Select specific videos from a comprehensive results lists that also includes NewsBank articles, or restrict their search to "video only"
Access recent and archived news videos at your institution or remotely
Email links of specific videos to friends, or embed them in a presentation
I find it curious that they say this is in response to demand from libraries. From the few tests I did, most of this newly added video content is already available free online, so I'm not sure where this demand was coming from (or why the vendors choose to listen to this particular demand instead of other things libraries have been demanding).
If a patron wants to watch a news show online, I can't see myself showing them how to navigate the library website to find the right database, log in with their library card, navigate the database for the right title, and then find the episode. It is just easier for me and the patron to use the station's own website or YouTube as a resource.
And speaking of YouTube, Library Stuff linked to a YouTube announcement on c|net today: "YouTube will begin offering feature films produced by at least one of the biggest Hollywood movie studios possibly as early as next month." Combine that with Hulu.com and other websites, and that's a lot of available video content.
For the database vendors though, I would prefer they concentrating on making their resources more user-friendly and useful by "uniquing" them, instead of providing content that is already available from other sources.