February 24th, 2011 Brian Herzog
Here's something to check out: Hack Library School.
It's mainly a tech sandbox for library school students, but since today's students are tomorrow's librarians, keeping up with what they're doing is well worth the time. Librarianship is increasingly technology-based, and libhackers are well-positioned to be the innovators and leaders.
From the website:
The Web is our Campus.
This is an invitation to participate in the redefinitions of library school using the web as a collaborative space outside of any specific university or organization. Imagine standards and foundations of the profession that we will create, decided upon by us, outside of the institutional framework. Ideas like the democratization of the semantic web, crowdsourcing, and folksonomies allow projects like this to exist and we should be taking advantage of it. What will the information professions be next year if we define it for ourselves today? If we had a voice in the development of curriculum, what would that degree entail? This is our challenge to you; participate or come up with a better idea. How would you hack library school?
Besides, they rank Swiss Army Librarian at #5 of library blog to follow, so you know they've got good taste.
Tags: graduate, hack, hacklib, hacklibraryschool, innovation, libhack, libraries, Library, lis, online, school, student, students, web
November 18th, 2010 Brian Herzog
Thinking about the new design of the San Jose Public Library reminded me that I've been collecting links to tools and articles about web design. I posted a few resources before, but the demise of Bloglines has prompted me to pull out all my bookmarks and do something with them.
I'll be using these when we redesign our website, and hopefully you'll find them helpful too:
Web Design Overview
Design Tips & Goals
Testing & Development Tools
And the final word on this subject will come from Chuck - Design Coding is not only hilarious, it's amazingly accurate:
But I'm sure there are tons of other tools out there, so please share your favorite in the comments. Thanks.
Tags: coding, design, development, libraries, Library, public, site, sites, tools, web, web design, website
October 23rd, 2010 Brian Herzog
This week's question is actually one I needed to answer myself - it's a little bit random, so bear with me.
My library just held our annual thank-you dinner for all of our adult volunteers. To illustrate "the value of volunteers" (in other words, how much money volunteers save us) my director and I came up with a "volunteer stats" bookmark* [ppt, 1.2MB] to hand out.
We had 241 volunteers last year, with a total of 5804 volunteer hours. We figured if we paid them each $15/hour, their labor would have cost the library $87,060. Just to add another little fact to the bookmark, I wanted to figure out just how tall $87,060 was in $100 bills.
So of course, I turned to the internet. I did a search for something like how tall is a stack of money, and after clicking on a few results, I found a forum posting that provided the Excel formulas needed to calculate not just the height of a stack of bills, but also the cubic volume and value of different denominations. Neat.
I copy/pasted the formulas into an Excel spreadsheet* [xls], and after a little tweaking, had my answer. And just to double-check it, I went back to the internet to find a "known value" (in this case, the height of $1 million in $100's). It checked out, so I had my fact for the bookmark, and a job well done, right?
Well, not so fast: being me, I thought, "hey, wouldn't it be awesome to turn this Excel spreadsheet into a web form that other people could play with? After all, that was so popular the last time."
And it turns out, there is: I found SpreadsheetConverter.com, which does exactly that. After you download the software, it converts spreadsheets to a web-ready format with just a click of a button - pretty neat.
But even better was their free demo offer, where you email them your spreadsheet and they convert it for you. Within 24 hours they sent back the converted webpage, and it works great - just enter the height** of your money stack below, and the spreadsheet tells you the value of various denominations, for both a single stack and a cubic block of bills.
One condition of the free demo is that it is for evaluation purposes only, so evaluate away and keep this tool in mind if you ever need to throw a spreadsheet up on your website - it can save you a lot of time. Too bad I didn't know about it when I was coding the Library Use Value Calculator.
The thank-you dinner went well, and the bookmarks were a big hit. Yay for volunteers.
*Feel free to download, edit and reuse our volunteer bookmark* [ppt, 1.2MB]
or the Excel spreadsheet* [xls]
if you like.
**This was designed to figure out height in inches - to use different measurements, the form below will convert those values into inches:
February 18th, 2010 Brian Herzog
File this web tool under "why didn't someone think of this before?" FillAnyPDF.com lets you upload any pdf or image file (such as a blank form), type on it, and then save the completed form as a new pdf file.
It's not perfect, but it's easier than a typewriter. I'll use this both for patrons and myself, and I'm still surprised there aren't tons of these sites out there.
Tags: add, fill, form, image, libraries, Library, pdf, public, text, tool, type, web
July 2nd, 2009 Brian Herzog
Speaking of embedding things into library websites, I wanted to highlight a book due out later this year.
In the interest of full disclosure, I contributed a chapter to this book. I don't get any kickback from the profits (except for a free copy), but I am really looking forward to it.
Library Mashups: Exploring New Ways to Deliver Library Data is written by librarians for librarians, on how we can expand our websites and web presence to better serve our patrons. Nicole Engard pulled us all together and edited the book.
More information about the book and authors is available at http://mashups.web2learning.net. It's not due out until September, but just skimming the table of contents makes me pretty sure I'll learn a lot from the other authors.
Writing my chapter made me feel like I was back in library school working on a paper, but I am glad to have done it. Plus, I'll soon be able to tell people I'm a "published author." People ask me why I became a librarian, and my answer is always the same: fortune and glory, kid, fortune and glory.
update 7/12/09: a couple new related links:
Library Mashups is available to order in the United Kingdom, Europe or British Commonwealth (excl. Canada) from Facet Publishing
November 11th, 2008 Brian Herzog
If you haven't already, read David Lee King's post about Web 2.0 and friending. It might be hard to swallow at first, but he's absolutely right.
His main point:
When your organization decides, say, to create a Facebook page … who are you trying to connect with? Me? I don’t live in your neighborhood. Another library on the other side of the world? They’re not going to use your services.
He's right in that libraries aren't implementing Library 2.0 tools to connect with other libraries - we need to focus on connecting with our patrons. Any library service (be it a newsletter, a storytime, a flickr collection, or an rss feed) should be directed to the patrons. Those are the people (we hope) who will benefit from it.
Friending other libraries is safe and tempting, but is slightly counterproductive (we don't want it to look like these are library-only tools). But I also agree with David (and commenters) in that it's important to connect with other librarians professionally, and to keep up with what other libraries are doing - there are a lot of good ideas out there that we can adapt for our own libraries.
Hmm. I'm guilty of this myself, but I'm going to keep in mind moving forward.
Tags: 2.0, david lee king, davidleeking, friend, friending, friends, l2, libraries, Library, library2.0, network, networking, public, social, socialnetworking, web, web2.0