Friday, 27 August 2010

Last hurdle

It has been more fun than a hurdle. And this is the result:

And one more:
LIBRARY is the right answer!

And then I discovered Tagxedo.
The other word - THING was also the right answer.

The rose is my big
to the 23Things Cambridge Team.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The End of All Things

That was the most electronic holiday I have ever had! I had not planned anything special for this summer so it was an interesting substitute for Caribbean holidays in tropical sun or tiring mountain climbing.
Thanks to 23 Things Cambridge I was however able to travel far, very far (with Flickr), I was kept well informed about all that had been going on in the world, weather included (by iGoogle and RSS-s), I remembered about important events (GoogleCalendar), met friends (Doodle), met more friends (Facebook), discovered what is in my home library (LibraryThing), regreated that I was not born later to have my previous life at the university easier (Zotero), hoped to tidy up my computer desktops (Delicious), got rid of too many emails with attachments (GoogleDocs), and finally did not feel guilty about using Wikipedia (Wikis). I did not however turn into a nightingale (no Twitter - thank you), will not advertise myself on LinkedIn site and probably will not produce any podcast (Roman Polanski does not need competition).

On balance however the course brought more positive results with just a few which I am still not sure about or which need more investigating.

From a professional point of view the course opened my eyes to what is happening in a library virtual environment, what challenges we might be faced with and what might be applied in our work to make it easier and to make the libraries more interesting for our users.

I will definitely be recommending the LibraryThing if someone asks about an easy and cheap way of cataloguing online (and questions like this were asked in the past). I will certainly remember about "Maestro Zotero" as a great tool, which anyone who is preparing any sort of dissertation or creative writing should know about. Available online library related podcasts, slide shows, photographs might also be used when needed, so it is great to know about such possibilities. Other forms of social networking - Twitter, Facebook, Wikis have definitely lots of potential of improving the flow of information between librarians or librarians and users. Running services like this will however require lots of time (which we don't have) or an extra post (which does not exist at the moment where I work) and of course the users must be online too and able to retrieve any potential information ( in case of a very specific category of our users, is not always that simple). Our existing intranet, with the library site kept up to date and containing lots of useful links (including those to e-resources), is fulfilling the present needs in our libraries.

As much as I enjoyed most of the activities involved in the programme of 23 Things, there were a few which I was not convinced about (LinkedIn, Wikis) or did not like them too much (Twitter) and I do not see much use for those in our libraries.

Writing a blog text was a great challenge to me - English is not my first language. First blogs were rather short, then they started growing in number of words, perhaps not always strictly on the subject, but I suppose I have grown to enjoy doing this after the first couple of compulsory entries. The most enjoyable part of blogging was looking for photo illustrations to the texts. Sometimes I was finding the picture first and it was becoming an inspiration to what I wrote then, sometimes things worked in just the opposite order. In any case Flickr was absolutely indispensable and thank you Flickr creators and contributors for its existence. I am sure I will be using it in future for both personal and professional purposes. The same goes to iGoogle, GoogleCalendar, GoogleDocs, Delicious.

I enjoyed very much reading other people's blogs. So many thoughts, comments, advice! I wish I had time to read more. Having partly hidden identities we were probably braver to say more than we would in other ways. I wonder if these blog texts will become somebody's research subject or someone will get a PhD from it one day!

Facebook - I am glad I have learned how it works and I understand now why my daughters spend such long hours reading, writing and chatting there. However I am not sure how long I will stay there (privately) or if there will be an official library account created. The latter - perhaps in future, time and workforce permitting. Twitter - that is a definite NO. I just do not like it. Neither does my boss, so there is no conflict there. Thank you, Boss.

As for the Blogger this is my last post now, but if nobody listens to me anymore (at home or at work) I might start writing again (that's a warning not a promise). However it will not be a revelation to me anymore so for today - it is a definite goodbye to REVELATION23 and to All the (23) Things!

Quick to know - Wiki(ed)

It's not easy to blog about something which one never had anything to do with. Except for Wikipedia of course, but who wouldn't use it! Even the newly elected president of my country during one of his first speeches held in his hand a page printed from Wikipedia as a source of information. It did not received a positive recognition by the opposition.

Schools are not sure what to think about Wikipedia. Some teachers forbid using it, some recommend it to their students.

Wikipedia, with its problematic reputation, is however very useful. Quick and accurate (so I believe) in basic data - dates, basic biographic and geographic information , helped me often, also during cataloguing when I had doubts about any of the above. The value of this reference source would probably be different if Wikipedia existed before the Berlin Wall fell. History of that part of the world would be described differently to what we know now (who knows how it is edited now in some other places in the world...). Public editing, which raises questions about accuracy, truthfulness and the scientific level of information, has a great side too. "Check what is missing - write a new article". If something is missing it might be instantly added without waiting months and years for new, corrected, printed edition of an encyclopedia.

Other Wikis

It seems like Wiki Wiki or wikis are present all around us and may be useful in almost everything (including cooking !). After reading the description of wikis and looking at all the sites recommended by the 23 Things team, Wikis look to me to be a crossbreed between GoogleDocs, GoogleCalendar, Doodle and Delicious, not to mention Facebook and Twitter. Or something like floating in the air (online) a well known information board present in every institution on their corridors and offices. Except that more people may take part in editing the contents.

I liked the idea of the Library Routes Wiki. It is always interesting to learn about experiences of others when one goes in the same direction. This wiki is like a book - a collection of short stories, straight from real life.

Having said all the above I am still not convinced about the possibility of using this tool, wiki, in the libraries where I work. Perhaps more practical examples and investigation is needed before I will find my way to Wikis ...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Casting a spell or the Newton Blues

One can watch, and watch, and watch all the "pods and pieces" on YouTube and other sites. It is like being under a spell ("podcasted" on us). How about going to the theatre, concert or cinema for a change?
I do watch podcasts occasionally when I miss something "not-to-be-missed" on TV.
I watch also so called "song covers" posted by my daughter and her friend on YouTube. Quite often my friends send me short YouTube podcasts- sometimes funny, sometimes interesting. Now I know how to embed them (podcasts, not friends) in my emails and take revenge! Just joking. I like all of the things emailed by my friends.
I have never imagined that there are so many podcasts about libraries and librarians. Very many of those published on YouTube however, sorry to say this, are not worth watching, some are funny, some educational, some both funny and interesting. I believe that a well prepared podcast, not too long and not too boring, might introduce some life to a usually not extremely exciting induction sessions.

I am not sure that the example above is the right one, but it is not too bad a music break when one needs to present the Dewey system to young people.
A variety of forms in a library blog (if there is one on), which might be used in library induction sessions, study skill sessions or in whatever other study training a library offers, may improve the quality of such training and increase interest in libraries and their work. Providing that we do not exaggerate or use too much technology, forgetting about real life contact with our users. I suppose adding something like a short video (podcast) presenting all of our eight libraries including a walk through Cambridge to illustrate where these places are located, how to gain access to them and how do they look like not just on flat photographs or maps, might enrich our intranet website.
I do not think that in our library inductions this sort of innovation will be introduced soon. Until we, the library staff, have some brilliant ideas (Newton Blues or Circulation Polka perhaps?), means and time to produce our own podcast, we will continue with our traditional tours and induction talks.

Google Carta

Very useful gadget. GoogleDocs, not Magna Carta. So it seemed, judging by the description of it. Working in eight libraries located across the town with five office computers, two home machines, a couple of memory sticks and three email addresses, sometimes I am totally lost among all the documents created, copied, emailed, edited, corrected many times and even with dates added to them it is easy to lose track. Example? The index to classification schedules. Not just one but as many as the number of systems used in our library cluster. These documents are living organisms, evolving all the time. They are growing as well as being corrected and improved almost every time we add a new book to the stock. Having just one version available from everywhere and to all of the library staff would be an absolutely great innovation. And this is just one of many possibilities. Surveys, all sorts of forms, information leaflets. Nearly everything that we might need access to at any time - all this available in just one or two clicks on the computer keyboard from any place on earth! This should also stop computer services sending me warnings of nearly exhausted quota on my university email account, clogged by all the messages sent to myself with constantly revised documents. Also the computers will be happier having less fat files on their hard drives and the memory stick might fit more holiday shots on it to share with colleagues at work (at coffee time of course) instead of a long, long list of Word and Excel files.

Perhaps my Google Documents will be plain and not very impressive, but they are suppose to be useful and easy to find. Magna Carta, as fine as it is, with all four of its existing copies, has to stay in the museums. Google documents will travel across Cambridge and around the world!

But will they? The first experience with creating new Google Doc was very positive. The text appeared on the screen, I shared it with a colleague, received a corrected version. Then we tried to chat while looking at the same document and ... nothing. The messages were accepted, appeared on sender boxes but never reached the addressee. That was the first problem. Next I tried to upload the Excel document from my desktop. The upload screen confirmed that uploading was completed but there was only part of the document to be seen on the screen. A message above it appeared: Working... (highlighted in yellow) and another one at the bottom of the half of my document ...Loading next lines. It was in the morning. In the afternoon on the same day it was still Working... (above the document) and Loading... (under it). With not much hope I opened GoogleDocs at midnight and hurray!!!! The whole text was there! It took "just" a little more that 12 hours. Next day I checked the site on computers in two different locations. My index to classification was there. Success. But only a partial one. My colleague did not received it till the end of the next day. Disappointed, she decided to wait until I came back from my holidays. Two weeks! Will we find it then?
Another problem, with the Word document this time, just one page but formatted in two columns in a landscape position, appeared in GoogleDocs as one quarter of the page. I was able to see it all after zooming out but what I saw was not the document as I had it on my desktop but just half of it (one column) and with completely different formatting. Changing the formatting was not easy and not all that was possible in Word seemed to be available in GoogleDocs (e.g. no text bordering, no columns and probably more which I have not explored yet).

After all those unpleasant surprises I am much less enthusiastic about GoogleDocs than when I started to write this blog. I must be doing something wrong. Need more time to find out. In the meantime - back to more traditional methods, at least they work at the moment quite well.

P.S. The tag to this blog may change in future. I do not lose hope!