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April 1, 2009

Doreen's Report "2009 Library Technology Conference"

I attended the 2009 Library Technology Conference at Macalester College and presented at a poster session with Rory Litwin on March 18-19. The poster was entitled “Widgets to Integrate Library Resources Into Faculty Web Pages.” We showed four of our widgets that users can customize and create code to insert into web pages and Moodle sites, including a search of the library catalog, a search of the E-Journal Locator, a gadget that lets the user create their own custom drop-down menu of favorite links to library resources, and a portable assignment calculator.

Keynote #1 was entitled “Applying the Information Commons Concept in Your Library” by Stacey Greenwell, Head of the Information Commons (called the Hub) at the University of Kentucky. She gave numerous examples of how to bring this concept into any library. View a public blog (looks like a transcript) here: http://tinyurl.com/ctg8oy

Keynote #2 was entitled “Technology Trends and Libraries: So many opportunities” by Eric Lease Morgan, Head of the Digital Access and Information Architecture Department at the University Libraries of Notre Dame. He believes opportunities abound in libraries now with all the computerization, as people’s expectations increase for accessing information and data. View his talk here: http://tinyurl.com/ch7y2v
Some of the sessions I attended were:

Virtual Life, the Metaverse and Everything

This was a hands-on session about the increasingly popular 3D network called SECOND LIFE – (http://secondlife.com) where you create a username and avatar, and live in a virtual world where inhabitants build houses, build businesses, hold jobs, own land, use currency, attend school, play sports – just about everything we do in “real life” or “RL” as they call it. “SL” is not considered a game. It seems to be very serious (at least to our trainer). It’s popular for anonymous support groups, discussions, as well as education. Education is one of the most progressive fields in SL. Lots of universities provide their students with lectures and seminars held within SL. Distance education is especially fitting for this venue. To attend a course, you “teleport” to it at a certain time in a real 3D environment. You see the other “people” arrive and walk or fly around or sit down. You can talk and interact either by microphone or by typing. Meetings are being held virtually now as a way to save travel costs.

In the workshop we teleported to a replica of the Sistine Chapel – evidently this is a meeting place for art students.
There are many other virtual reality environments, including Google’s Lively, Vivaty, Hipihi, and dozens of others. Second Life currently has the best technology, but there is a move to Open Sim, Wonderland, and other open source platforms that have great potential for education.
Sussex has been a virtual campus in SL for a year now: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/press_office/media/media673.shtml

Other Universities on SL:
Harvard University
New York University
San Diego State University
Stanford University
Texas State University
Top 20 educational locations in SL: http://tinyurl.com/y33xfa

A random PowerPoint about SL if you want to see what it looks like
http://blogs.cuip.net/dlis/wp-content/second-life-back-to-school-08.ppt

Gartner (a leading information technology research and advisory company) says 80 percent of active internet users will have a "Second Life" in the virtual world by the end of 2011.

A Beginner's Guide to InDesign Publishing Software
Adobe PageMaker became Adobe Indesign a few years ago, with its primary purpose for creative design and layout of posters, newsletters, cards, banners, newspapers, and such. I had a chance to use Indesign CS2 in a hands-on workshop to create a brochure with images. CS4 is the current version and has several new features. Microsoft Publisher is known for its easier learning curve, but Indesign is usually recommended for commercial/professional work. One reason for this is it works with the CMYK (print) color model, unlike Microsoft Publisher which works in the RGB color model.

User-Friendly Multimedia Authoring with Pachyderm
Pachyderm is a free web-based multimedia authoring tool for creating interactive learning via the web. It is great for those with limited technical skills. The University of Minnesota Libraries are using this to exhibit special collections, rare books, and manuscripts. They demonstrated the process of using Pachyderm; logging in, picking a template, importing files, adding metadata, building the presentation, and publishing. They shared the pros and cons within each step, and concluded that this is best suited for smaller collections. Building the presentation is fairly quick, but collecting the media, scanning, and saving images takes the most time, as well as the conceptual mapping (they suggest to do entirely on paper first). Finished presentations can be run from a flash drive as well.
Some of their digitization projects:
YMCA in America History Timeline
http://digital.lib.umn.edu/pachyderm/ymcaamerica/
Becoming Minnesota Sesquicentennial Exhibit
http://digital.lib.umn.edu/pachyderm/becomingmn/
Otto F. Ege Manuscript Collection
http://digital.lib.umn.edu/pachyderm/scrb-medievalmss/

More Pachyderm Resources:
The Pachyderm Website
http://pachyderm.nmc.org/
Pachyderm Open Source Community
http://www.pachyforge.org/
Minnesota Digital Library Pachyderm Project
http://www.mndigital.org/projects/pachyderm/

What Is Cooking in the Lab: Update on UofM Digital Library Development Lab Projects
This very fast paced session was about the new developments at the UofM with the Rich Media Initiative to help visual and audio learners, their new Assignment Calculator, an the latest upgrade of UThink blogs, and more. They talked about digital conservancy – long-term preservation.

Other topics covered:
Using DLXS for finding aids in Archives and special collections
Fedora to store finding aids as XML
Rich Media with Drupal layer on top
Solar for indexing
Assignment Calculator: (new version) https://tools.lib.umn.edu/ac/
Assignment Calculator: (new version) video: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/jveldof/calculator/
Xserver APIs for Aleph, Primo and Metalib
This got very technical – if you have questions I have notes.

Drupal at the University of Minnesota: A Case Study
The U of MN Bio-Medical Library recreated their site with Drupal in 2006, and later, the libraries decided to use Drupal as well. Drupal (http://drupal.org/) is one of many “Content Management Systems” (CMS’s) available. Drupal is free and open-source and seems to be popular in the library world. The benefit of a CMS like Drupal is the built-in web 2.0 functionality and skins that are ready-to-use out of the box (well, not really) They stressed that it does have a learning curve and the documentation isn’t polished, like most open-source products, but there are myriads of support groups for users delving into it. They said that Wordpress is easy, Joomla is somewhere in the middle and Drupal has a long learning process. This session was very fast-paced and covered the technicalities about the modules of Drupal, which are mandatory and which are not, and so-on.

Sites built with Drupal:
http://www.biomed.lib.umn.edu/
http://www.recovery.gov/
http://www.theonion.com/content/index

Links they mentioned:
http://acquia.com/blog (they sell a more ready-to-use and tweaked up version of Drupal)
http://www.drupaldojo.com/ (Train yourself)
http://www.drupal4lib.com/ (Listserv)
http://www.lullabot.com/ (consulting and training for Drupal)
http://drupal.org/handbook (Drupal handbook)
http://drupal.org/handbook/site-recipes (Drupal site recipes)

They mentioned that you have to custom create your own code to get outside systems integrated, like Libdata for example.

March 26, 2009

Doreen's Report on "Intro to JavaScript" class

I'd like to thank the library for the opportunity to take an 8-week online class about programming, “Intro to JavaScript” through the HTML Writer’s Guild. This was a class where we did readings from two books and weekly online homework (see http://tinyurl.com/c7neeg ) This just shows a tip of the iceberg regarding what Javascript is capable of.

The purpose of Javascript is to add interactivity to web pages. A good example would be our Group Study Room page at http://www.d.umn.edu/lib/gsr/index.htm. Javascript has been around for a long time, but there was an era not too long ago where it was somewhat avoided due to security concerns, but it’s made a comeback with the better browsers of today.

This is pared down, but here is a sample of what we covered. We learned about creating variables, functions, “for” and “while” loops, switches, conditional statements, prompting for input, making alert and confirm boxes, doing validation, debugging scripts, converting between strings and numbers, creating things like timers, rollovers, resizable window popups, and time converters. Other important concepts were:

* Functions, arrays, and objects
* Events and event handlers
* Browser Object Model and Document Object Model
* Graceful degradation
* Importance of separating structure, presentation, and behavior

Here is another example of a made-with-Javascript tool. I do use this color-picker gadget a lot when I need to see what color a particular code represents. Firefox has an add-on called Colorzilla that's good too, but I still find myself using this simple little picker.

http://ecritters.biz/colorselector/
Many of the online converters and calculators you see online would be Javascript based.

November 11, 2008

Gails' Report on InDesign Training

I very much appreciated the opportunity to attend a two day training session on Adobe InDesign in St. Paul on November 3-4. The training was conducted by Easel Training, an authorized Adobe training site. This particular session only had 5 attendees so we were fortunate recipients of much individualized attention.

Adobe InDesign is a component of the Adobe Creative Suite CS2, CS3 and CS4. As a part of this suite, InDesign is a "powerful design and production application that offers precision, control, and seamless integration with other Adobe professional graphics software" including Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Acrobat and Bridge.

This course was a Level 1 course designed to introduce the user to the basics of this powerful program. InDesign is used to create brochures, magazines, signs, postcards, pamphlets, programs...the list of graphic/text production combinations is endless! We learned how to navigate through a document using the tools and navigator panels; how to start a new document,create, edit and apply multiple master pages, adjust pasteboard size and bleed areas, work with graphics and text areas within frames and bounding boxes on document pages, import text styles, thread text, create and use a baseline grid, and change various characteristics of text.

We also worked with the swatches color panel to create tints, spot colors, gradients and strokes. And, finally, we were introduced to the InDesign styles used with objects, characters, paragraphs and tables. We nested character styles inside paragraph styles and created style groups.

The course was a hands-on instruction with each lesson designed to illustrate one or more of the specific tools as mentioned above.

Overall, the course was well taught and very beneficial to a novice user! We were presented with a training workbook and DVD with specific exercises. Please feel free to borrow either or both of these if you are interested. Also, if anyone would like some one-on-one training or assistance with this program, I would be happy to help!