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

LibCamp Boston Recap

   July 31st, 2007

LibCamp BostonJust a few quick (overdue) notes about the LibCamp Boston unconference last weekend at BPL.

There were nine area school and public librarians in attendance, sharing our knowledge and experience on what's being done with Web 2.0 tools, and what we'd like to do. It was a very casual and free-flowing discussion, so we also spent some time talking about general library topics, too, and played DDR [?].

For more links provided by Beth Galloway during the discussion, check out http://libcamp.pbwiki.com/sessions (and check out some pictures, too).


  • ALA recently has a Gaming, Learning & Libraries Symposium
  • DDR and Guitar Hero can be used in libraries as a program for all ages to come in and play together. It is also good exercise, which studies have linked to an improvement in homework scores in kids
  • DDR can also be considered "web 2.0" since it allows content creation - players can record their own dances, and which others can then dance
  • Ann Arbor District Library has a regional DDR tournament, which they are planning on turning into an open national competition

WiFi Printing in the Library

  • A problem is that people using the library's wireless connection are not easily connected to the library's printer
  • One idea was to have a cheap deskjet printer available, with quick links on the library's website for wireless users to download and install the printer driver
  • Another suggestion is to get listed with the PrintMe.com network (only available in certain states

Floppy Disks, CDs & Flash Drives

  • Libraries trying to move away from 3-1/2" floppy disks, because they are out-dated and unreliable
  • Ideas are to sell or loan flash drives (when loaning, patron could leave library card, drivers license, or their shoe at the desk)
  • Another idea for flash drives is to use them to circulate software, instead of installing programs on every computer (a list of applications that run off of flash drives, found via LibrarianInBlack)

Loaning Laptops

  • Some libraries were looking at getting away from public desktop computers entirely, and going to all laptops that will be loaned from the desk
  • This would require less dedicated floor space, and likely would me more comfortable to use in general

Blogs in Librarys

  • Most libraries represented had them, but in a variety of forms
  • http://librarygoddesses.blogspot.com is an example of a collaborative professional readers advisory blog, open to both librarians and patrons
  • http://www.chelmsfordlibrary.org/blog is an example of a library blog for its patrons
  • The Newburyport (MA) Public Library has a staff blog, to keep staff up to date on library happenings. They are also working on a staff wiki for their reference desk
  • We also talked about the appropriateness of libraries having a presence on MySpace and Facebook - some thought that since the point of these online communities is to meet and communicate with friends, any library presence would likewise need to be active and involved, not just a billboard
  • Videoblogs were also discussed, such as Steve Garfield's vblog (and his mom's video series, I can't Open It)

Meebo v. Email

  • We continue to hear reports that IM has killed email (let me know what you think)
  • A few libraries are including the MeeboMe widget on their websites to allow chatting with a librarian; some libraries don't allow any kind of IM on public computers

Uses for Flickr

  • Flickr is great for sharing event photos, but can also be used for collections and showcases
  • The Seekonk PL has a Teen Area worth showing off
  • The Chelmsford (MA) Library has a set on flickr of historical photographs, and also a photo series of a mural being painted in the Children's Room
  • Flickr is also a great way to archive photos of what the library looks like, what past book displays have looked like, etc.
  • Flickr's map feature also has potential for making a community-based project, by photo-documenting local landmarks or businesses to make an online virtual tour


  • What is Twitter?: a service to which people send short (140 characters) updates on what they're doing right now. Accessible by computer, cell phones, and other wireless devices
  • Why would someone do this?: to update your friends on where you are and what you're doing, and by signing up for someone else's feed, you can see what they're doing
  • Why else?: other uses could be to keep a list for yourself of things you don't want to forget, or to communicate with a group of people
  • Can library's use this?: some ideas are to list answers to reference questions, or send out event reminders

Second Life

  • Second Life is an online game/community, so does a library have a role?
  • There is a library there, which answers mostly information & referral questions about the game itself (how to build something, where to find things, etc). They also have ebooks. This seems appropriate, since these volunteer librarians are serving the needs of this community
  • It might not be appropriate for individual libraries, as staff would be serving non-local patrons almost exclusively
  • Another role for a library in Second Life is to assist players in accuracy: such as if someone builds a replica of the Globe Theatre and make a recorded tour. This would be content developed within the game that someone could experience without having to see the real thing

Using del.icio.us

  • Web resources bookmarked in del.icio.us are accessible from any computer and browser, not just where they were originally bookmarked
  • They can be made public or private
  • They can be sent to people (by using the tag for:[del.icio.us-username])
  • They can also be used for a Library Subject Guide

boston, lib2.0, libcamp, libcamp boston, libraries, library, library 2.0, library camp, library camp boston, library2.0, public libraries, public library

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One Response to “LibCamp Boston Recap”

  1. Andria Says:

    Thanks for the information.