Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thing 15


I played around with Rollyo during the Web 2.0 workshop I took last year. I remember it being a cool concept, but I'm just not sure how often I would use it (and to be honest, I haven't used it since!). I attempted to use it during that workshop to gather information for my (then) upcoming San Diego trip by adding links to a bunch of information on the city, some attractions, visitors guides, the hotel's website, etc.

Rollyo could be pretty neat, since it allows you to search just the sites you want for information you need, but I almost think I would rather just save the sites to a favorites menu and go through them one-by-one than search them all together. Rollyo can be useful if you're looking for a particular item or specific information but you're not sure which site it might belong to -- if you've included it in the Rollyo search engine you've built, it would be easy to search for it and find it. But, a downfall of this would be if you have too many sites saved to the Rollyo search engine, you might have to still sort through pages of search results to find the exact information you're looking for.

A use for it within the library might be to create a "search engine" to just look through favorite sites for programs, storytimes, fingerplays, etc. It might also be useful for public computers for saving things like popular news sites, homework help sites, job search sites, etc., for the public to use. It would save them lots of time and would only search sites preselected by library staff for information.

It was fun to try out the program, but I think I'll stick with my favorites menu for now.

Thing 22

I had fun checking out the different online tools available for free throughout the course of this 23 Things experience. Some of my favorites really served no real-world purpose, but others were quite useful, such as the homework calendars, LibraryThing and Wikis. Overall, this was an enjoyable experience and I hope to spend more time working with the tools that I learned about in the 23 Things.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thing 21

Student 2.0 Tools

Wow, those assignment calculators could serve to be very useful resources for students! I will talk to my department head about linking to them from our webpage (or from the teen webpage) -- what a great resource. I especially liked the PDF resources, from the Resource Project Calculator, that librarians and students can print out to help with all stages of the homework projects. This would be handy to promote to junior high and high school students. This site should really be promoted within the library and on the website to encourage students to take advantage of it. Teachers should also be informed of this site to help promote it to their students. It would be super easy and inexpensive to design bookmarks promoting this site and then have them available at the public desks for patrons to take (parents might see them and take them home for their teens). Definitely two sites worth checking out.

Thing 20

Books 2.0

Reading in my library appears to be on the rise, and with series books especially, children read the first book (oftentimes, their school librarians are great at promoting first books to them), they get hooked and they come to us for additional series titles. Digital books are very popular among adults, but not so much among the children, although we recently saw a surge in our Playaway circulation stats because of a promotional bulletin board and display that we created in October (Playaways were very popular with the patrons once they saw them and we had a chance to promote them).

Some of the online resources listed in this Thing look and sound quite appealing. Of the Books on Your Phone section, the one I would be interested in is DailyLit. I do have an internet-enabled phone but would rather not eat up data time by reading books on it, plus the screen isn't *that* big. :)

In the Readers Advisory section, I have heard of What Should I Read Next? And What's Next? (and if not those two sites, then sites with very similar names). Isn't there a print reference material with the title What Should I Read Next? broken down by genre? In our children's department, some of us use the MCPL Series & Sequels site regularly. While it's not completely up-to-date, it is oftentimes VERY handy for looking up books within a series. I would be interested in trying out most of those Readers Advisory sites listed.

The Book Group & Book Review resources also seem like they would be useful, partly for work and partly for personal interest reading. I will have to explore them more in depth when free time allows. I read the description of the LibraVox site under the Audio Books section, and that sounds intriguing! What a cool idea -- to convert public domain works to audio book format and use volunteers as readers. While I'm not an audio book believer, I may just have to check out that site anyway.

Thing 19

Other social networking sites.

I am not currently a member of any of these online communities (and most of them I had not even heard of prior to completing this Thing).

I took a peek at WebJunction, which I have heard of but don't believe I've ever actually visited, and it seems that it would be useful and beneficial to join that community. Despite being hesitant to register for any of the previous sites mentioned in the other Things, I will sign up for WebJunction in order to read and participate in the content offered. It would be a site that would serve a purpose for me as an information professional.

As far as the additional social networking sites listed, I checked out BakeSpace and thought it was a neat, fun site full of interesting recipes. I probably won't join it, but it was fun to explore a little (and right on the homepage, I found a nice little peppermint marshmallow recipe that I will have to try out).

Thing 18

Facebook & MySpace: Social Networking

I am a regular Facebook user (used to have a MySpace account but have since converted to f/b). On f/b I am part of several groups including one for staff of the library where I work. The point of that group was to be for us to share information with each other, but so far it's never been used for anything until a few days ago when I posted some photos from our recent staff in-service day & library director's retirement celebration. I have created a group on f/b for students that used to attend the grammar school that my brother and I went to (Orchard Hill Farm School in IL, which, sadly, has since closed). It was a small private school on a farm, complete with horses, sheep and a goat, and multiple grades together in single classrooms. I created the group so that those of us who went there during the school's history could connect and share news with each other. At first, the only members were my brother and I, but we've since grown to 128 members. Aside from these two groups, there other groups I belong on f/b, as well.

I think f/b may be the fastest growing social network because it is so easy to join and navigate. And teens and young adults (there are a few of my much younger cousins & kids I used to babysit who are still in grade school and junior high that are on f/b -- inappropriate in my eyes) can add friends and share information with each other very quickly. They can quickly and easily post pictures, news & silly information, play games, and join groups to make them feel like they belong. I think they like the sense of community and fitting in with others. Plus, for some I think it's a popularity game -- unfortunately (some people have hundreds and thousands of so-called "friends" on f/b).

At times, I think f/b's reputation is deserved, but not all the time. When people treat or use it inappropriately, certainly it's going to get a bad reputation. But the site is also awesome for connecting people with old friends, family members, etc. I have reconnected with several of my old grammar school friends via the OHFS group, and that is very cool. I'm also able to keep in touch with cousins that I don't regularly see and I get to see pictures of their kids and I share them with my parents. Another great thing about f/b is the promotion of events, business and organizations. Our youth services department page at work is regularly updated with program information and photos from recent programs. We also have our youth blog linked to the f/b page, so blog updates such as book reviews, are posted to the f/b page. Very cool.

Thing 17


Now here's something I'm unfamiliar with.

The podcasts I listened to where on the Education Podcast Network. I listened to two poetry readings and one about copycats from the Idiom of the Day. I liked the idiom one, but was not crazy about the poetry readings. I like poetry, but I was imagining those poems being read differently than they were. Still neat to be able to listen to these things rather than reading them though.

This thing hasn't inspired me to do any podcasting myself, but perhaps I will look more into them in the future. I would like to see what other kinds of podcasts are out there besides just the ones on the Education Network.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thing 16


The video links on the NEFLIN 23 Things blog makes me smile every time I see it (and it's been a while since the first time I've seen it). And now that Lane Smith's It's a Book! is out, that video makes me think of his book. YouTube is great for lots of things, if you can wade through the garbage (although sometimes the garbage is also entertaining). My brother used YouTube to figure out how to install our parents' new dishwasher a few years ago. And I've heard that people have used it to learn to cook turkeys and all kinds of other useful things. I myself looked up a "slime" recipe video on there this past summer so I knew how to make it for one of my summer programs.

Speaking of summer reading, for the last two years, my library has posted our YS summer reading promotional videos to YouTube. Check out the video I created for this past year's summer reading program (in which I play Count Bookula). We were so glad to be able to link our video from our website to YouTube so patrons could view it.

There are lots of other fun videos on YouTube. One of my favorites is this one (for a bit of library/blonde humor) and here's another favorite.

Thing 14

Online Productivity Tools.

This was a fun thing to explore. I tried out the three customized homepages, but PageFlakes gave a message that it was being updated, so I wasn't able to actually view that one, so I really was only able to look at iGoogle and My Yahoo. I much prefer iGoogle. The interface has a clean, mature appearance, and I already use Google for Gmail and other features, such as the calendar, which takes me into the next topic of this post. Google Calendar is actually quite useful and simple to add and update. At work, we recently switched from mail hosted on the system's server to Gmail accounts, and so that also meant a switch from Outlook Calendar to Google Calendar. How NICE to be able to just view and edit the library's staff calendar right from an email account. For the most part, I really like Google Calendar -- it's a breeze to use.

As for the other gadgets mentioned in this Thing, I checked out the lists, but they both required registration, and again, I did not want to register for yet another service. Remember the Milk looked like it could be useful, but my cell phone already has a document/note function on it, so I often use that to create lists if I don't have paper or pencil handy. And I can access my email via my phone, so I will sometimes just email myself reminders, as well. I do prefer the old standby real paper & pencil kinds of notes, too, and often use those the most.

As for the PDF converters listed, I use PDFcreator both at home and at work for converting documents to PDFs. It's free to download, fast and simple to use. I did also check out the link to the Top 10 Productivity Websites listed and saw TinyURL listed at the very top. I've been using this site for years and years, and I love it. So simple to use, and it's a great way to package up a long URL into a tiny one that doesn't take up multiple lines in an email or an IM window.

Because it was listed in the Top 10 site above, I may check out the MyStickies site, even though it requires both registration and download. It sounds like a useful little tool that I wouldn't mind experimenting with -- and it might even be something that will come in handy when browsing websites. I oftentimes bookmark something and forget why (and even though tags would be useful to help me maybe remember why, I will not resort to using them any time soon, for reasons mentioned previously).

Thing 13


So it turns out that I actually have a LibraryThing account -- I joined when a fellow SLIS student talked me into it during class one day, but it doesn't appear that I've used it since. Like so many sites that sound fun and useful at first glance (or after hearing someone talk about them), I signed up and then promptly forgot about it. This is unfortunate, as the site has so much to offer! I do think it's a very useful site for libraries, librarians and readers in general.

For personal use, if someone is a voracious reader (sadly, I am not as of late with the stress and time-consuming nature of grad school), then using LibraryThing for personal use would be great. It's a neat way to see what others are reading and to find others who are reading/have read the same books, to find book reviews, or to find similar books or users with similar tastes. How many times have you just stumbled upon something cool like a news story, a new website, a great recipe or a nifty consumer product because you've seen it linked or mentioned on someone else's webpage, blog, etc.? Why should books be any different? If I click on one of my bookshelf books (The Shadow of the Wind, for instance), I can see other users who have that book on their shelves. And then I can click on one of those users and view their info & bookshelf and perhaps find another great book to read! Is it obvious that I really do love the idea of LibraryThing and all that it has to offer? Because I really do! :)

The LibraryThing widget is an awesome tool for a library's blog! I love the idea of being able to "display" books on a virtual shelf where readers can see the covers. It would be a fantastic way to highlight the library's new books or monthly or special book displays via the blog or just to show books that have recently been read or reviewed. There are so many great ways to use the widget, and I think libraries should really take advantage of this useful tool. The libraries that are incorporating teen reviews into their LibraryThing pages is another great way to get readers and library patrons involved with library and materials marketing. Also cool is the LibraryThing Local, which is a great way to refer patrons to literary events going on locally. What a truly great resource for libraries to provide to their patrons -- and all at no charge to the library (provided they are happy with a free, limited LT account)!

Thing 12

Thing 12 deals with Wikis, and since the Library 2.0 workshop I took last year covered wikis, I'm going to repost what I posted for that blog entry, with a few edits (I hope that's ok).

After learning about wikis this week in class, it is neat to think of all the different ways to use them. Whenever I had previously heard the term "wiki," I only thought of Wikipedia. But the list of wikis that was provided to us was pretty cool to check out in order to see the different organizations that are using wikis to share information and get people involved through editing and content contribution.

As mentioned in my discussion board post for class this week, there seem to be both positives and negatives associated with wikis. What worries me is that if you have a wiki for important information (such as a medical wiki), then anyone has the ability to edit content on the site, and who's to say that it's necessarily accurate? Though hopefully people using wikis to look up information would just use them as a starting point and then also refer to other (more reputable) sources such as reference books or hospital/organizational or health websites.

After learning about the different uses of wikis (and viewing the commoncraft how-to-wiki video), I created a wiki for my friends and I to use as a planning base for our upcoming vacation where we were able to post our flight information (since there were 2 groups of us flying in at different times), places of interest to visit, weather information, transportation links, etc. -- and it was actually lots of FUN to create this wiki! I think other possible uses of wikis could include similar things not related to library or educational organizations, such as: parents using wikis to plan things like parties for kids, sporting event banquets and fundraisers, family reunions, kids talking about their favorite books or writing fan fiction (I'm thinking Harry Potter and Twilight wikis here), workplace wikis (in which all employees could edit, among other things, content like helpful database links, websites of interest, general workplace questions), etc.

Thing 11

Social Media News Sites...

After looking at the sites linked through Thing 11 (Mixx, Newsvine, reddit and Digg), I think they might serve a purpose for home and professional use. These kinds of sites would be good for following popular stories that patrons or anyone else might inquire about. I think of all the sites, I liked the look and feel of Newsvine the best. It looked the most professional in terms of page layout and design. And I like that it was mostly news articles and not so much what the other sites appeared to be, which looked like message threads about anything and everything. Those kinds of sites I don't think would hold much use for the workplace, but a news-related site would. While looking at Newsvine, it was neat seeing the updated linked stories changing every few seconds (though it was also a tad bit distracting at the same time). I consider myself a fast reader, but I couldn't get through many of the little blurbs before they moved on down the line and a new one took the top spot. But still, it was my favorite of the sites.

As far as productivity enhancer vs productivity detractor, I think they could be a little of both. They could enhance productivity because with one website, you can get a quick feel for that news that is most important to those sharing to that site, which is useful if you need to keep up with headlines and popular news stories. But at the same time, some of the sites (I feel these would be reddit and digg), could be considered productivity detractors because the information on those seemed more like opinion pieces and message board threads than actual news stories. There were lots of things on those sites that didn't necessarily pertain to news at all, and the "headlines" on those sites are distracting and not necessarily informational.

I will admit that I tried to share a news story from another site to Newsvine, but it was prompting me to sign up for an account, which I did not want to do. I then tried reddit and Digg and got registration prompts for those, as well. So much for attempting to share. I just don't feel like I need another registration right now (or at least if I do, I should create a junky email account to use for those kinds of purposes). I did read a few of the news articles on Newsvine that I might have not otherwise looked at or seen on my regular news sites. So overall, this was an interesting Thing exercise.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thing 10


I first tried last year during a Library 2.0 workshop, and while I was at first impressed with it, I soon found it time-consuming and confusing. I guess what it boils down to is that I'm not a fan of tags because for me, it's one of those "once I start, where do I stop?" kinds of things. How few tags are too few and how many are too many? And do I really and truly need to use every possible term I can think of to tag webpages? Well, yes, I must, because it could happen that six months or a year down the road, I might not remember some of the terms that were important to me when I first tagged something, so will I be able to retrieve it? Maybe not. Overall, while the concept is nice, for someone like me, the use of is just plain frustrating.

I suppose it would certainly come in handy for finding (or sharing) webpages in the workplace. If you have a few people who repeatedly use the same sites for storytime ideas and themes, fingerplays and feltboards, or suggested and recommended books, for instance, having them tagged as such would helpful and would make them quick to find. Or pages concerning budgets, library news, intellectual freedom, etc., etc.

But I just think tagging is overwhelming. Not to mention, we've tagged our blog posts for our YS blog at work, and the tags just spill down the side of the page. Is it really necessary to tag a "meet the YS staff" blog post with the name of the staff member the post is highlighting? Probably not, especially if there will be no future posts featuring that person. With a department of 7, like mine, you now have 7 tags just hanging onto the side of the page, filling up space. It would make more sense to tag them with the term "interview" or "staff" or something where they could go under a general subject heading. There, all 7 are now contained under one tag. Simpler? Yes. But still time consuming, because you have to think about all these things first. And, for something like a blog, too many tags on the side of the page makes for a lot of scrolling and reading to find something that might be of interest.

So there are my thoughts on and tags.

Thing 9

For Thing 9, I looked at both Slideshare and BigHugeLabs.

Slideshare is a neat way to share slideshows without emailing files or downloading files to your computer. I run our children's Lego club at the library, and each month I show a slideshow of images I've found that fit the month's theme. It's a real pain emailing the file to myself each month and then opening it on the (slow-as-molasses-in-January) laptop in our meeting room. How simple it would be to just email a link instead of a file! I may just have to try out Slideshare for Lego club at the end of this month. I would assume that clicking on a link and watching the show on the web would be faster than downloading the actual show. Slideshare would be particularly useful for the workplace when sharing slideshows with coworkers or those colleagues who are in different branches, towns or even states! It would be nice to not have to worry about whether everyone who you want to view a slideshow has the required program downloaded to their computers. With Slideshare, there is no downloading, so it allows everyone to view a show. Nice and simple. Just the way it should be.

The fun photo editing features on BigHugeLabs were fun to explore and play around with. This site would be good for personal use for manipulating and adding features, borders, colors, text, etc. to photos. I liked the different options available, such as popart, magazine cover and frames. What a lot of fun, creative options together on one site. Even though these might be fun for personal use, they could also serve a purpose in the workplace. Photos from programs or from around the library could be manipulated with frames or overlays and turned into new creative images for marketing programs or library features and materials. There are lots of possibilities for using the programs on BigHugeLabs that would actually come in handy for the library. The only downside to using this site would be having sufficient time to play around with and explore the different options for altering the photos. But if someone had the time and patience to work with it, there could be some really nice images created for marketing purposes using this site.

I will have to explore the databases at a later time as my Internet connection seems spotty today.