Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Things on a Stick: Thing 38-Screencasting

Which of the services did you explore? What made you choose the one you used?
I'll be honest...I didn't create my own screencast because I didn't want to download any of the programs to my home computer, and I can't on the library computer. But I did go through the different tutorials, FAQ's, etc. If I had to choose just one to use, I think I'd go with either Skitch or Jing just because they're fairly easy to use.

How easy was it to use? Intuitive? Too hard??

I think Skitch would be easier to use, but Jing might be more useful for a group kind of project. They're somewhere between intuitive and hard...but nothing that I can't figure out. I'm of the "What happens if I click this" style of doing things, so I'm not afraid to click on something just to see what it does. I'm not sure someone with limited computer skills would be looking to do something like this, but for someone who is comfortable in the digital world, these are excellent tools.

Can you see using this for your library? Personally??

For the library: Oh heck yes! Tutorials on how to use the catalog, fill out a library card application, finding books--the possibilities are endless.

For personal use? Eh, maybe. I can most definitely see how useful these would've been during the group projects for school. There was one that we all were working remotely, and I remember the frustration at not being able to point to my screen and say, "This is what I'm seeing...*this* is what I'm having problems with." Ah, live and learn. Live and learn.

This is definitely a most useful Thing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Things on a Stick: Thing 37-Photo Tales

Which of the services did you use? Did it work smoothly?
I have used a few of these tools before (Picnik, Flickr, Flickr Mosaics), so I decided to try the ones I haven't. I liked the Image Mosaic Generator, but on some level, it's kinda creepy...if zoomed in on, there's lots of rather odd images going on. I uploaded a few different pictures to see what it could do, and thought that the results were pretty cool. It reminds me of paintings by Georges Seurat (or as my kid called him, "The Dot Guy")in that the minute details are interesting in and of themselves.

Here's the original:

And here's the mosaic:

I also made this on Collagr:

Can you see a use for this in your library? At home?
Yes, there are soooo many uses for these kinds of tools for both the library and home. The trick is to not lose oneself in tweaking the finer details of the photos. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience...well, yes, actually I am. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

More Things on a Stick: Thing 36-Comic Relief-Generate Some Fun

Which of the generators seems most useful to you?

I've actually used a couple of them before, for various school projects. The Word to .pdf converter is good, and came in very handy. I used a citation generator for a class last fall, but sadly, it's idea of correct APA and my idea of correct APA weren't completely compatible (a few minor tweaks and all was well). I've also used various button generators when taking an Internet Fundamentals class for school.

Many of these are good generators, but I can see how many hours could be whiled away using them. "Just one last tweak...or, hey wait-what happens if I [fill in the blank]?"

I haven't done anything else with the comic generating sites (I've used them, but not recently). I think they'd be kind of neat to use at the library, in say, a newsletter or something. They could be used to teach, inform, whatever. The possibilities are endless.

Other generators:
Warning Label Generator, because who *doesn't* need a good warning label sometimes?

CSS Rounded Box Generator, because trying to hand-code these for a class about drove me nuts.

More Things on a Stick: Thing 35-Books 2.0

What are you observing in your library about books and reading?

It's cyclical. That's what I see. In the summer, the adults don't read as much as they do during the winter, but kids and teens read more (for fun). It's the opposite during the school year. Our library is more of a fiction-based library, not so much a non-fiction one, so that also might contribute to the trends.

We've noticed an increase in library usage since the economy has faltered, which is a mixed blessing. The increased library usage is great, the reason for it, not so much.

Do you think these Book 2.0 tools hamper or enhance one's reading experience?

Depends. The Book 2.0 tools are really useful, but only if they're being used. I use them for various things, such as reader's advisory, or trying to figure out how series go. I'm not sure how many of our patrons use the tools on a regular basis, if at all. I know of the 3 of us that work at the library, I'm the most likely to utilize Book 2.0 tools, and most of the time, I forget about them.

As far as reading experience goes, I'd say it depends on what a patron is comfortable with. Many like the physical feel of the weight of a book in their hands. Others travel for business, and are beginning to explore e-books. Still others have a long commute, so they rely on audiobooks for their for-fun reading.

Which of the sites/tools did you visit? What are they appealing features? Any features seem unnecessary or just there "because"?

I glanced through them all. Some I already knew about but hadn't used for awhile. Some were interesting but not anything to write home about (because of their non-intuitive, non-userfriendly sites). Others I've bookmarked to go take another look at. Even if they're not something that I would use, one of our patrons might, so it's worth the time to at least be conversant with what's out there.

Do you know of other tools around books and reading we should know about? You can add them in the Comments below and blog about them.

The Literary Award Database and Wiki

Fantastic Fiction

KidsReads and TeenReads

Looking For a Mystery?"

The Reader's Robot (a readers advisory tool)

More Things on a Stick: Thing 34-Is this Our Competition? Online Answer Sites

What is the appeal of an online answer site?

The appeal of an online answer site is different for everyone. There's the anonymity factor-sometimes it's easier to ask questions about sensitive matters if the other person doesn't know who the asker is. There's also a time factor-if the person's doing a paper that's due the next day, s/he probably doesn't have the time to wait for the library to open (the procrastination is a completely different issue here :) ). There's also the collective wisdom factor-out of everyone a person knows, *someone* will know the answer, or at least where to look to find it; multiply that by all the people on the Internet at any given time, and an answer can be found.

What kind of questions did you see at the sites you looked at?

I think the better question is: What kinds of questions *didn't* I see? I went to all of the sites listed, and read through some of the questions. There were some asking opinions, & some asking for knowledge. All sorts of questions, all sorts of answers.

Are these the kinds of questions that can--or even should--be directed to a library? Why/why not?

Haven't been to my library, have you? Seems like pretty much any of the questions I saw on the answer sites are ones I could be asked. We don't have a dedicated ref desk, and we do get asked all variety of questions. That was one thing my boss really emphasized when I started working there-she told me people will tell me all sorts of things, and just to expect it. Yep. They do, almost like in a confessional. When I've trained new people, I make sure I stress that aspect of our job, and remind them that although we may know these people, so long as we're behind the desk and on the clock, we have no official opinion about anything, and that we're just the conduit for the information. It's a good, safe attitude, I think. :)

Do people use these sites because they don't know of other resources--like their library?

Maybe, maybe not. Some don't think of the library as a viable resource. Maybe they've had a bad experience with a librarian, or when they have asked a librarian, the answer was useless (it happens).

Of course, the converse is also true. People come into our library and ask us questions that could easily be answered by a fast Google search. So, just because the tool is there, doesn't mean it'll be used.

What do you think of the Slam the Boards events? Did you participate?

Everything I saw was dated 2007. Nope, I didn't participate.

Did you answer any of the questions on a site? Which site? What type of question?

Nope, didn't answer any, but I could've. With ease.

My first semester in the MLIS program, I took LIS 703-Reference. I know where to find lots of things, both in print and on the internet. I had a teacher who was more old school. I think her biggest pet peeve was Google, followed closely by Wikipedia. (I'm not saying Wikipedia is necessarily a great source, but it is a good starting point.) She was big on using PRINT sources, not so much electronic/Internet sources. It seemed a bit shortsighted to me. True, not everything is on the Internet. And even if it is, sometimes it's hard to find. I do not think that only Librarians (with or without a MLIS) are capable of finding an answer for a reference question. Somedays all I get asked is, "Where's the bathroom?", and that's OK too. I think the library world needs to learn from different models, and see what works and what doesn't. There's no need for an "us" v. "them" mentality.

More Things on a Stick: Thing 33-Travel 2.0

Would any of these sites be useful to your library?

I'm going to have to go with, "Not really." But, as a resource 'just in case', some of these were better than others. People who come into the library seem to fall into 2 broad camps: 1)not really computer-literate to begin with, and view the computers as a necessary evil. Oftentimes these people are just struggling to find a job, so I'm not thinking they have much disposable income to go traveling much. 2)People who are better off, but already go south for the winter (usually to the same spots), and like their established routine. It's not that the sites are terrible, it's just that they're more for people who are even moderately tech-savvy.

What was your favorite(s) site(s) and why?

Eh, I didn't really have a favorite out of any of them. I liked parts of some more than others. I'm more about the links..."Oooh, where does *this* go?"

Did you find any new sites that you'd like to share?

There's a couple that I like to browse:

Everything Everywhere is done by a guy (Gary) who is currently traveling around the world. He takes the *most* incredible photos! I think I first stumbled across him on Twitter, and I am a fan of his on Facebook as well.

Indie Travel Podcast is more than just podcasts; the articles and videos are also great. They are on Twitter as well.

Here are others I like, in no particular order:

Have you watched the show GlobeTrekkers? I love the exuberance of the presenters.

I just like Let's Go. It's practical and doesn't have a ton of ads, which I can appreciate.

When I studied abroad in Scotland, one of the best things I took with me was my Lonely Planet Guide. The Lonely Planet site is just as good.

My undergrad degree is in History. My concentration was Medieval England. I can't time travel back, but I can visit via sites such as English Heritage, Colchester Museums, Visit Britain (also on Twitter) and Untold London.

I like to see new places, but haven't had much travel experience outside the United States. So, until I can get to the actual places, I can do a whole bunch of armchair traveling.