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

Web Tool for Filling in PDF Forms

   February 18th, 2010 Brian Herzog

FillAnyPDF.com logoFile 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.

via LibraryStuff

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

Library Mashups: Exploring New Ways to Deliver Library Data

   July 2nd, 2009 Brian Herzog

Library Mashups book coverSpeaking 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:

update 8/20/09
Library Mashups is available to order in the United Kingdom, Europe or British Commonwealth (excl. Canada) from Facet Publishing

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

With Friends Like These

   November 11th, 2008 Brian Herzog

flickr friends screenshotIf 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Upgrading and Hosting

   July 1st, 2008 Brian Herzog

Wordpress logoI know I'm a couple months late to the party, but this past weekend I upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.5.1 (I upgraded the library's blog, too, but more on that in a minute).

Upgrading SwissArmyLibrarian.net
The upgrade went fairly smoothly, and I think this website is operating normally. If you seen anything different or wrong, please let me know in the comments.

A few backend issues still need to be dealt with. For some reason, the comment admin screen is not displaying comments. If I search for them, they appear, but when I click the Show All Comments I get a "No results found" message. Odd. And, I'm having trouble with the ftp settings. Which should be fairly straight-forward, so I'll keep trying.

Beyond these issues, I'm also still getting used to the new look and design of the admin interface. I'd heard it was very different (and not necessarily better), so I was prepared. Even with accounting for bias, I do think I like the old version better, but we'll see.

The upgrade itself went smoothly. WordPress makes is pretty easy, with their upgrade instructions. It really was as easy as the directions indicate, despite me making a few mistakes along the way (hurray for backups).

Upgrading ChelmsfordLibrary.org/blog
However, I must say that it was not as easy as upgrading my library's blog. Our website is hosted at Bluehost.com, which offers many web services and programs pre-installed through Fantastico. I know Fantastico has some issue, but it sure does make upgrades like this easier. What took me a few hours to do on my own for swissarmylibrarian.net took perhaps ten minutes through Bluehost (and I didn't see the problem with comments and ftp settings).

I don't want make a sales pitch for them, but if a library is looking for a place to host their website, we've been very happy. It's cheap (something like $7 a month), their tech support has been great, and so much software comes preinstalled that it's easy to manage and try out new web tools without having to do all the installations yourself.

But if you are a library looking for web hosting, definitely check out LISHost.org. They specialize in hosting library websites, offer a lot of the extras, and will also help design a website.

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