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January 29, 2009

University of Minnesota receives 2009 Exellence in Academic Libraries award

The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Libraries has been selected by the American Library Association/Association of College and Research Libraries to receive the 2009 Excellence in Academic Libraries award. This award recognizes the accomplishments of library staff “as they come together as members of a team to support the mission of their institution.” This is a wonderful tribute to the creativity, dedication, and excellent service that our staff provide to the campus.

ALA/ACRL report can be accessed here or here.

January 27, 2009

Top Technology Trends to Watch in Education

Great article from Chronicle of Higher Ed reviewing the 2009 Horizon Report:

'Horizon Report' Names Top Technology Trends to Watch in Education

More services will be running on cellphones or handheld computers, and more devices will be able to broadcast their location to others, says a new report from Educause's Learning Initiative and the New Media Consortium.

The "2009 Horizon Report," the latest edition of the annual list of technology trends to watch in education, is compiled based on news reports, research studies, and interviews with experts.

Topping the list of hot technologies are smart phones and other mobile devices. The authors noted that smart phones can now run third-party applications, which could revolutionize how such devices are used in education by consolidating numerous teaching, learning, and administrative tools into devices that fit into the palms of students' hands.

Another top trend identified in the report is cloud computing, which refers to Web-based applications and services. Such services, many of which are free, will allow campus users to access more tools and information at a lower cost - although it may make users increasingly dependent on their hosts, the report says.

The prevalence of electronics that have "geo-locators" - that is, that are capable of knowing where they are - could have important applications for field research, specifically with regard to tracking the movement of animal populations or mapping data sets to study weather, migration, or urban development patterns, the report says. Similarly, "smart" objects - which are aware not only of their locations but of themselves and their environment - are already used in some libraries for tracking and tagging materials and may have analogous applications across a number of academic disciplines.

Though the Internet has proved to be a helpful resource for many students and professors, the sheer volume of its content can make finding relevant information a tedious chore at times. According to the report, the personal Web - i.e., widgets and services that help connect individual users to the Web-based information relevant to them - will allow students, professors, and administrators to use the Web more efficiently.

In a similar vein, semantic-aware applications will emerge to allow students to use one of the Internet's more popular features - Web search - more efficiently, the authors predict. Semantic-aware applications refer to technology designed to analyze the meaning of phrases typed into search boxes, rather than just the keywords. Beyond search technology, the report says that semantic-aware applications may eventually help researchers organize and present their findings in ways that more easily describe conceptual relationships among collected data. --Steve Kolowich

Reference Sources and Web 2.0: Publishers’ Perspectives

This was turning out to be a really good presentation and then, just as we began to dig into the rich black dirt of the discussion forum, the fire alarm goes off in the hotel! That has never happened before. Everyone sat a little confused looking at each other and then we all got up and left. It's too bad. I was really looking forward to the interactive portion and the Q & A's.

In any case, here are my notes of the session:

Monday, Jan. 26, 2009
Reference Sources and Web 2.0: Publishers’ Perspectives
Discussion Forum

Intro: David Killian, George Washington University

Panelist: Stephen Rhind-Tutt, Pres. Alexander Steet Press; Jeff Penka, Manager of Cooperative Reference Services, OCLC; Samir Singh, Innovation Officer, ProQuest; Semmel Nunn, VP for Product Development, Readex

First up: Jeff Penka
2 different types of consumers from oclc’s perspective: our customers in the cooperative and their customers – they keep this in mind in their planning and structure for 2.0

their cooperative is worldwide
referring to O’Reilly’s notion of harnessing collective intelligence is at the heart of oclc’s cataloging, resource sharing, and virtual reference cooperative activities: - touch the entire web, users and attributors…
building web-scale for libraries: Maximize uptake, create local value, build web-scale, move to the network, increase efficiency – think big but go local

create a compelling user environment
make oclc web services a valued part of library operations
increase oclc’s global reach – grow it

build it in small parts, built on 2.0 principles:

profile management:
nearly 300,000 registered users in worldcat
showing users locations near them with resources they are looking for
managing your own lists, share with others, watch what others are doing, building it seamlessly to build into their own spaces
tagging, embedding into worldcat
reviews and ratings
just putting it out there isn’t good enough, people need to see and feel it, why its useful for them
partner reviews with other places like amazon…
embeddable search boxes, downloadable widgets – being out where they are, point of need
embed search, with results, never have to leave your page

Visibility, traffic:
Worldcat library profile page, get a better picture of your library than what they might find at google…

WorldCat Local: all the small pieces, localized to you the user

QP Widget:
Chat widget, html snippet, facebook, myspace, etc…

Make oclc web services a valued part of library operations
WorldCat API-
10-15 developers from cataloging institutions in North America and Europe
leveraging shared resources

Engagment, participation, and conversation – products works page where people can go to see what oclc is building, trying to be transparent, can comment there
Blogs, wikis…
Making sure we’re connected within the community

WoldCat Hackathon
http://worldcat.org/devnet/wiki/2008NY…. (sorry, lost it)

Next up: Remmel Nunn
Readex is a publisher of academic resources whose users are students and teachers
Trying to make easier the research process for undergrads but especially grad students
Referring to the web: there are changes of degree and changes of kind:
Changes of degree is like water getting warmer
Changes of kind is when water turns into steam, completely transformational

Are we at that transformational stage yet with the web? No,
Web 2.0 for readex was a way for us to assist humans to give them a tool to work with
We don’t use the phrase, web 2.0, (perceived as bogus)
One thing researchers deal with is annotated text – hugely demanded and age fast
Selective annotative text, was a way for scholars to be isolated from all printed sources

Crossroads: toolbar, opens up references about what was said, commented about that text (must subscribe)
What we found with crossroads (there are over 200 projects going with crossroads) – virtually all the projects are being used by faculty members. Allows them to communicate with other scholars across boundaries on the same subject area
Interactive teaching tool as well as annotative tool
Finding the tagging and annotations are more of a collaborative effort among scholars

I think there is a transformation coming out of this, digital humanism
Web 2.0 is going to create a different way of doing research of how scholars go about research. It will start asking different questions for them.

Next Up: Stephen Rhind-Tutt
Will be talking about 2 aspects of 2.0:
-participation & community
-folksonomy and taxonomy

2.0 for the publisher:
-surrendering control
-loss of proprietary gateways to content
-expensive, new technologies
-most content not created by publishers
-large new players with enormous network advantages
-mission statements of smaller presses (like Alex. Street Press) similar to libraries mission statements

ex.: Primary sources in the women’s movement
a scholarly community that brings together feminist thinkers, scholars, others
Carol Hanisch, wrote Personal is Political, over 260,000 times cited, important article, did a follow up to the article and published directly online through alex. Str. Press. Allowed her to have a more relazed form to her writing and clearer thought

Some bad examples as well. Author wanted to do metadata for an article and completely mislead with wrong subjects and tagging…

Usage and importance of different versions of an article – most in the community want peer-reviewed work
Without some form of editing a lot of the material brought to the plate can’t be used

Alex. Str. Press has streaming music and videos, subscribers are invited to created their own playlists, for classes, research…
The playlist harnesses what people want to do and builds on this, sharing

Tagging, overtime they improve with use

Taxonomy v folksonomy
Taxonomies are bad with new terms and evoloving terms, folks. Are better
Tax. Are better with structure and hierarchy
Search precision, customization (better in tax.) and effectiveness (better in folk.) vary.
Variable most important is popularity

Ex: for folk. With flickr, if you try a search for cirrus it can’t differentiate between the airplane and the cloud, taxonomy is great with this

Both are really helpful, useful

Last up: Samir Singh
What is web 2.0
Read/write web – encodable, task oriented
Ex: siteulike.com great example of a task that use to be done inside a vertical piece of software that is not connecting people

Embracing users as relevant source of information – users to users interaction over time is envaluable

Tagging, personal, selfish need – doing it for yourself to organize yourself
Improved user task performance:
-personal organization
-sharing and co-creation

increasingly common interaction model

ex. At ProQuest
product Development
-wikis to coordinate design discussions across distributed teams
-collaborative (vote based) feature requestiong and ranking in our GradShare q/A community
-blogs to share news and keep distributed to keep teams up to date on new information

GradShare Q/A Community for Graduate Students – very new, just announcing here are ala
-free site to help graduate students get advice form peers across achools
-recommends local reference solutions from Library

recent version of Elibrary (K12)
-users can create and share interactive timelines and presentations
-more features coming soon

recent bowker inverstment and distribution of librarything data to libraries
-it’s a community that successfully formed itself on the public web and being brought in to library world

some challengers:
-identity (registration)
-adoption and network effects

mission: create indispensable research solutions that connect people and information

Q & A:
What can you share about your experiences with time management?
Readex – we have a full-time person that monitors this, there hasn’t been an instance where we’ve had to go in and moderate our users.
Sighn- choose between moderation – pre/post moderation – felt both were overkill

-firealarm went off!!!

Pretty much ends discussion…

getSTEM Web Portal

February 2 is the launch of the getSTEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) web portal, which is designed to connect Minnesota educators with science and technology businesses, in order to better prepare students for post-secondary education programs and careers in STEM.  getSTEM is supported by a grant from the National Governors Association along with sponsoring businesses including: Thomson Reuters, Microsoft, 3M, Inetium, and Ecolab.  Last fall, the project passed a major milestone when it was launched as a beta site at www.getSTEM-mn.com.  Over the last four months, the getSTEM beta site has had over 8,000 visits and successfully partnered schools with businesses for guest speakers, school materials, business tours and more!  Successes like these identify the need for the getSTEM web portal and the desire of schools and businesses to create meaningful partnerships.  These successes have assisted in the progress to getSTEM 2.2...    getSTEM will transition from beta to an official site on February 2, 2009.  There is also a getSTEM for Teachers site at http://science.mpls.k12.mn.us/getSTEM.html.

The future success of Minnesota’s economy depends on a well-prepared pipeline of students with the education and skills to help keep Minnesota business and industry competitive. Please join us in our continued work to partner schools with businesses and higher education to create the talent needed for a highly skilled and plentiful technology workforce in Minnesota. 

January 26, 2009

Thx for the txt: communicating with users in their space

Here are my notes on the session about communicating with users in their space.

Personal note: The title of this session was completely misleading. I don't know if they did this on purpose to lure people in to the session or if they really attempted to get librarians actually doing text messaging or anything in that area. Bait and switch or just trying to hard? No where in the presentations did they mention the word "text" or "texting" - not until someone in the audience asked "Is anyone in your libraries doing text messaging or sms with your patrons?" All three replied no. On the other side of that I did find David Lee King's presentation interesting and noteworthy. He's a great presenter overall. I will follow up by checking out D.C. PL.

Here are the notes:

Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009
Thx for the txt: communicating with users in their space – 3 speakers

Communicating with Customers: using nothing but buts & bytes
David Lee King, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

ILL and text communication with resource sharing – patron communications

David: explaining layout of website, ways of interacting, meebo, blogs, comments…
Outside webiste: facebook, myspace. Individual lib – YA lib has own facebook page, has 500 friedns
Art gallery blog
They’re doing videos about the library, events, hidden services, book reviews, promoting themselves.
Put vids on youtuve and embed them on their website in relevant and appropriate places.
Twitter – using for many different things, just set up, goals: push out important stuff – events and new materials, and to connect with other Topeka residents. Library Director will have own twitter acct soon
If doing twitter, its good to have goals of who you are following and will follow you
Connecting with local people, media, state gov groups
Hubbell lib in nola is using twitter to have conversations with their patrons
Iphone: what can I do with my cell phone with the library in mind? Check web pages, check email, search books, reserve books, patrons are doing the same kind of things. Range of patrons, not just under 30 group.

Are you ready to meet them and provide services in those spaces?
When writing blog post, write as if writing to best friend, come off friendly, don’t be scary – stay professional, upbeat and helful but not scary
Leave space for others – communicating, blog posts should be a conversation – 2way street. Ask for comments, feedback, ideas, thoughts…

Cindi Trainor, eku libraries, citegeist.com
No more dead-end silos

Where do users start – google
1% started with library search engine when looking for info (2005 stat)
Aug 2008 Pew Internet Project, 40% of users do a search engine search everyday

User want the info they need, only infor they need right now for free.

Take the library content and put it in front of your users when and where they need it
LibX toolbar, context menu, browser cues, auto links, google scholar integration. Libx.org create your own plug-in

You can customize the toolbar to have anything you want in it: cat search, author search field, title search field, search academic search premier, it adds items in your context menu, customize it to do things individual user wants it to do

Highlight isbn and right-click to search resources related to that item, don’t need exact isbn, it will collate info
It will look for things that it thinks is an isbn
It points to browser cues – in any website and point to title and can perform a catalog search – lib icon points to the cues leading the user back to the catalog
Coins – embed citations in a webpage from databases and take you back into database directly to that article – wikipedia pages used for course syllabi is a great place to use this
Magic Button – copy and paste and entire citation or portion and drop it in the magic button and it will link you up with the articlei
If you’re off campus – right click to reload what you’re looking at to have it reload in your library’s sfx reader

It takes about 20 minutes to put together, many extensions in the plug-in
Go to libx.org and build a new edition

Live demo – did google search for james still, went to wikipedia page copied and pasted a title from the page into the libx search bar and found the article in the library’s database
Another example points to citations with “get more” buttons next to some citations that links directly to sfx page for library

Rachel Van Noord – webjunction
Engage your community: five principles for developing online learning communities

Based off of gates foundation computer lab grants
Build a community to support access to internet, all components
Online learning community for library staff, all areas, evolved into many groups
Promote active learning online, help people connect with acess and content
Go big… or go home, what’s that one idea that you’re holding on to that you want to promote to your community and staff and stakeholders
Root your implementation
Webjunctions constatntly asking for feedback, looking for by-in, looking for partners
Coming soon: resourcesharing.webjunction.org
Leadership and nurture: communities need this
Do you wait for an invitation before joining an online community? That’s true of a lot of people we are serving
What do your users need to get started – get started section in overview
Created a 23 things-like program to intro folks to new wj platform

Continuum of engagement: want to see some members so engaged in wj that they become leaders to others

It’s gotta be blended (4th principle)
Blend online and face-to-gace interactions
Blending is also about synchronous and asynchronous interactions – ex. Tough times group, members, discussions, webinars (town hall meetings)
Where is the information about what’s happening in your library off the library, partnering

5th principle – partnership is the key
building partners makes you stronger
-resources, people, functions, groups, ideas…

how to be an expert – push forward

Q & A time
What can libraries do on their sites to get their blogs indexed to make them appear higher in google searches.
-put it out there with good keywords on your blogpost

how do you find the friends and time to do so many sites, and funds?
-tools we use are all free, mney is no excuse, time thing – it’s more of what your library’s priorities are, priority is connect with patron then make that part of connecting with patrons, prioritze your time
break it down into chunks, do a little bit here, little bit there
-keep doing it and practice and integrate more social practices into your workflow and it will become faster and easier

do you know much about public libraries using LibX? It doesn’t seem too intuitive, not sure how we could do that?
-look at materials in libx, there’s lot’s of info online

how are you making it accessible to users? And how does that match with public access for all?
-my library has a “red carpet room” for vision impaired people, we use normal software, don’t know if it works with im. Accessibility is always on the list of priorities, considerations.
-we don’t have any special software to accommodate students and factulty but work with individuals
-wj continually works to make userfriendly with screen readers

Catherine greenhill has a good libx and camtasia guide pages

Do you have any plans to things with texting?
-it’s on the list of things to do, we looked at text a librarian service, we’re at the process of looking into it.
-we’re looking at the ability to add sms message in to catalog to text yourself a message about a record – Kentucky state is doing this

d.c public library new ipone add – have you seen it?
-yes, looks really neat, not sure if so useful in Topeka at the moment. Think about what your users are doing. Bigger city, probably worthwhile.
-mobile apps, putting catalog on phones is where we want to go.
-d.c. library will be a library to watch

January 24, 2009

ALA Midwinter - Denver, CO

I arrived yesterday in Denver for Midwinter. First on the agenda was OCLC's Symposium From Linking to Thinking: How we’ll live when information surrounds us.
David Weinberg and Nova Spivak were the guest keynotes to talk about the future of the web. When it came to the Q & A section, it became a lively discussion with some folks asking about their experiences and knowledge of what libraries do. There was some validity in the questions but I think it the best thing I got out of the talks was the information about the growth and movement of the web and where it's heading. We as librarians need to know this stuff. I'm not hurt or take it personally if they say things like "metatdata will become the data" and "focus on the findings rather than the search" and "humans will be removed from the search process". By staying on top of this information we can bend and stretch to the needs of people for access to information as we always have. I think we are doing a good job of breaking the archaic structure of what a traditional librarian does. The point is that things will continue to change and we can be creative in the ways we manage and organize information and guide users. I'm excited to hear what they had to say. I'm excited to hear where the web is going.

So here are my notes from the session (not proofed for spelling, sorry):

Friday, Jan. 23 – OCLC Symposium

From Linking to Thinking
How we’ll live when information surrounds us

Roy Tennant – moderator
David Weinberger, technologist

Libraries in an age of abundance

Ebooks will help move books from a private activity to a social activity – one moment away from this transformation

We’re now entering an age of abundance – we get an abundance of good stuff and crap – mostly dealing with the crap – manage it ok – but now there’s an abundance of good

Libraries help us navigate through the content…. They’re symbolic, they symbolize – rich or poor you all get access to the same stuff
It makes sense to have a building to collect stuff – collections have value, well organized content – there is a place for knowledge and culture

Not having links out is an act of stinginess these days, books are stripped of their value because there are no links out to other content, more info.

Need to be able to manage this abundance – the information produces more info – metadata, info about the info – it no longer needs to fit on a 3x5 index card, we can add info as much as needed

The metadata connects everything, searches can bring back everything including the kitchen sink, metadata is the level to pry open the data

The old ways of doing things don’t scale, allow the public to add info, can’t do it ourselves, we need to do it together – we have to do it together because it doesn’t scale, of course it’s not going to be quite right, made by humans,
Metadata frees us to learn more

In the world of abundance, good enough is good enough. Some exceptions, medical, air traffic control, good enough is not good enough but most all else, with so much info, good enough is good enough

Knowledge isn’t the highest level, understanding is – we know how to do knowledge, we’ll keep doing it, symbolic roles – equal access, knowledge is scarce

Nova Spivack – semantic web pioneer and publisher of the Twine search/sharing tool

Library 3.0
What does the semantic web mean – the social graph just connects people
The semantic graph connects everything
Metadata view - you can reduce everything to little bits of relationships
Everything is becoming metadata
We’ll be building a higher resolution web
The data carries it’s own metadata – embedding it
The web becomes a database – in the semantic web the data is self describing, my program can go in and grab your info without having to go through an api/programmer to request the info
The idea of the semantic web is software can understand the web, no human involvement – we have to get humans out of the loop – if we have to do it all it’s not going to scale
We can leverage that by enabling different applications and people to learn about a program and embed the metadata

The internet
The pc
The web – web 1.0
Social web – web 2.0 – front end web, create more interactive programs
Semantic web – web 3.0 – entering into this period, the front end isn’t going to change all that much – this will be back end change -
Web os – web-based apps, web starts functioning like an operating system
Intelligent web – web 4.0 – intelligent agents, ubiquitous agents that are embedded into your phone that tell you what to do

Five approaches to semantics:
Tagging – anyone can make a tag – very easy to abuse, massive numbers to help weed out the junk
Statistics – trying to estimate the value of a page
Linguistics – natural language processing – artificial intelligents to retrieve pages
Semantic web – all about metadata, how you get the metadata is whatever
Artificial intelligents – read and interpret the knowledge

Approaches : make the data smarter/make the software smarter
Grow each area to eventually get to A.I.
Future of information retrieval:
Productivity/amount of data
Moving towards leveraging the social web – we use people as a search enginge as we move to web 3.0 we want to combine that with the web then move to reasoning (web 4.0)

How to add semantics:
Manual: Hard/Precise – individual hand – tagging by experts – easy/fuzzy: large group collective tagging by non-experts
Automatic: hard/pprecise: database integration-taxonomy management easy/fuzzy:

Libraries that learn
Digitize everytning and putit all online
Automatically self-assemble and self-organize
Personalized interface for each individual and group – giving everyone a personal card catalog – and then learning from that – recommendations and filtering becomes very important
Intelligent assistance (human and automated)
Detect and adapt to changing needs and usage


Q & A:
What are your impressions of libraries, conceptions?
-David: Libraries are, increasingly, maintain their value. Given money to spend is proven support. The tools they use, I’m somewhat familiar.
-Nova: I think catalogs are irrelevant, my observation, is I’m an information junkie, it had tremendous value in college, today, it’s inconvenient to get to when going to google is good enough, bringing the experience of discovery to the web is invaluable, having libraries do that is where it’s at. Exploring on the web – today, exploring the stacks – back then. My experience was focused on knowledge and discovery.
-David: going through stacks, discoveries, it’s a good thing, physical things can be frustrating

- break

Q&A Debate:
Nova: keyword searching is extremely inefficient. If there could be some kind of agent or automated process. Natural language interface would be great, dialoging would be better. Need to put the emphasis on finding not the search.
David: will typing words into a little box ever go away? Maybe, eventually, but it will get better. It will uncover better knowing what we want to find and know what we didn’t want to find.
Nova: hunt and peck v. map and compass, we need a little bit of both – this is what we are moving to more, keyword searching with faceted taxonomy. Give people a sense of location and place.

What role will mobile phones/technology be?
Nova: gps/locationware with data overlays – augmented realities, resources relevant to location – location awareness – overlaying data – geo tagging – talked about embedding mobile chip in contact lens, now, not so great but in 20 yrs from now, we’ll have photo quality visualization in the contact lens
David: information put in by social networks is a good way of filtering relevancy of info
Nova: the mobile device platform is already larger than the pc platform. How should mobile devices change to use them the way we need to? That’s what we should be thinking about. They’re wallets, they’re ebooks, they’re games, this notion of being able to carry around with you everything you need is great – having a mobile assistant. Acess might be very different, we need to think about dialog-based speech interfaces, mobile devices are ideal for that.

I would encourage you to take a broad look at what is meant by search than what is found.
David: we focus on the search box when we’re searching, provides us with endless links to traverse. Sometimes we find, sometimes no. we link and click and on to the next thing, that isn’t finding info it’s exploring. The real searching we’re doing is link to link to lnik, not the search box.
Nova: the inefficiency is deliberate (google) because there is money involved in the number of clicks per answer, might lose revenue, user.
David: aren’t ontologies put together by humans suffer the same effect as sticking with your same social network?
Nova: google is nothing more than a statistically based pile of data, most popular. Social search says don’t just search your own network search the networks that have the expert places or specialized networks. Ontologies are very biased, no way around it,
Sematic web – oil – ontology integrated language, mapping – what does it mean. Say want is inferred. There can many ontologies as desired and can map between them then link and integrate

What are the skills sets needed in the info system?
Nova: one of the good things is you won’t need too much about programming, you will be able to create metadata without, there will be people underlaying that but it will become more available. Discovery, social content is moving more to the individual. I think we will see twitter and other social places be the place of info discovery.
David: skills are required, typing, its familiarity with the social tools, yes but also being involved in smart social networks, being in the right twitter stream, you’re smart because you’re increasingly smart becase you’re in a network.
Nova: soon we will reach a point we’ll have more computing power than the brain has and do some amazing things and augment humans. Today the burden is to be like machines and we need to get rid of that. To go forward the intelligence in not inside, it happens elsewhere, leverage a network.
David: Andy Clark – Being There – really good book.

What can libraries do to become more relevant?
David: I actually do research for things I write, I have access to Harvard library, digital content, things that would make things easier is – scan the books already, databases, ejournals are a nightmare, can’t search across the whole thing, need more open access. If we could get this life for researchers would become easier
Nova: if I had a digital library and wanted more people to use it I would link in to google because ubiquitous is important.

January 21, 2009

Online Research Goes Video

Where are students turning with increasing frequency for research help? According to a recent article in the International Herald Tribune, they’re turning to YouTube. The article, titled “Is YouTube the next Google?,” relays new search statistics that put YouTube ahead of Yahoo! Search in terms of popularity and tells the story of one nine-year-old who starts his homework research with YouTube.

Has your library ever put videos online as a way to reach out to your students, no matter their age? If so, drop a link in the comments, because we’d love to see examples.

And don’t think it’s just students embracing online video. A site called TeacherTube aggregates instructional videos and lesson plans from all grade levels and curriculum areas. Teachers, librarians, and other educators - as well as students - can browse through thousands of videos by broad topic channel and can keyword search for videos on specific subjects.    

It’s important for libraries to stake a claim where people are looking for information. In the case of students and teachers, from grade school to college, the next frontier seems to be online video.

January 20, 2009

More Things On a Stick Program To Launch in January

More Things On a Stick Program To Launch in January

ST.PAUL, Minnesota (January 15, 2009) --Minnesota's seven multicounty, multitype library systems (multitypes) will launch the More Things On a Stick: A Library Learning 2.0 Program on January 20, 2009.. This program is the new version of the very popular 23 Things On a Stick Program sponsored the Minnesota Multitypes last year. Staff in academic, school, public and special libraries, as well as members of library Governing and Advisory Boards are invited to participate in this fun, self-paced program that encourages participants to experiment with various Web 2.0 tools. Mashups, more organizational and productivity tools, and deeper uses of RSS and Delicious are just a few of the new offerings in 2009.

All details about how to participate and suggestions for getting ready are now available online at http://morethingsonastick.pbwiki.com. Registration will begin on January 20th at this same address (as part of Thing 1). Those who complete all 23 Things plus the evaluation within 17 weeks will win a completion prize.

More Things On a Stick are online activities that encourage participants to experiment and learn about new and emerging technologies that are reshaping the context of information on the Internet today. The activities are hands-on with experiential exercises, short readings and discovery work. Each Thing can take as little as one hour or as much time as you'd like to give it. The Minnesota Certification Program has approved this program for 25 contact hours to meet public service and technology competencies. Continuing Education Units will be available to all participants as well. Early endorsements of this program include but are not limited to, MLA, MEMO, MINITEX and State Library Services. Others are expected to add their support and will be mentioned on the More Things on a Stick wiki site. Participants who wish to receive the completion incentive prize must register their blogs (Thing 1) by February 20 and complete all Things plus the evaluation (and blog about each one) by May 20, 2009. Receipt of the completion prize enters participants in a statewide drawing for additional prizes.

According to Ann Walker Smalley, Metronet Director, "Participants clamored for 'Thing 24' when they had finished the original 23 Things On Stick! More Things On a Stick builds on the learning from that successful program and offers people the chance to try new Things that will make their personal and professional lives more productive, more connected, and even more fun. Join this online learning community and start 2009 with a resolution to try all of the Things. You do not have to have done the original 23 Things On a Stick to do More Things." Participants are encouraged to work with others in their libraries or regions and to share their insights and discoveries either through the participant blogs or in person.

This program is the Minnesota twist on the 23 Things: Library Learning 2.0 program, developed by Helene Blowers at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenberg County. Library organizations across the country have used the 23 Things concept to encourage staff to learn and use these Web 2.0 tools. The directors and staff of the seven Minnesota Multicounty Multitype Library Systems are the core of the 23 Things On a Stick team, with additional coaches available across the state. This group has worked together to develop More Things On a Stick and to customize it for Minnesota library staff. This group will track participants' progress as shown in the individual blogs and provide helpful hints and encouraging words.

The multitype library systems respond to the needs of Minnesota librarians by providing library support services, including continuing education. The multitype systems believe that knowledgeable library staffs are better able to meet the needs of their library users. The multitypes connect library staff in all types of libraries to professional and staff development opportunities and look forward to broad participation in this exciting learning program.

Contact: Ann Walker Smalley, Metronet Director, ann@metronet.lib.mn.us
More Things On a Stick blog is online at http://morethingsonastick.pbwiki.com

January 14, 2009

Resources for Libraries in Hard Economic Times

ALA released a resource for libraries in hard economic times.

The "Advocating in a Tough Economy Toolkit" is available at www.ala.org/tougheconomytoolkit.

Additional resources:
Media coverage of libraries' role during the current economic crisis.

A relevant past article by ALA:
ALA: Library Funding to Help Get America Back on Track

Minnesota media coverage of libraries' role in hard economic times can be found at:

WebJunction pathfinder: Focus on Libraries in Tough Economic Times

January 13, 2009

The Future of Reference

Periodically, the librarians of the U of M campus get together for an informal discussion session.  Yesterday they met to discuss an article by Stephen Abrams, and I was happy to be able to take part. The article is available here for now (Evolution to Revolution to Chaos? Reference in Transition) and is archived in full text in several ELM databases, including Academic Search Premier and InfoTrac Student Edition. In the article, Abrams offers fourteen potential scenarios for the future of library reference service. Abrams glosses over the “bricks” of library buildings (saying that these have been “renovated to within an inch of their lives into commons, research, community, teen, and scholarly spaces” where library services are successfully put into context) and breezes right past the “clicks” of online library service (touting the profession’s creation of “websites, elearning objects, and licensing for more content than individual libraries ever dreamed of having in the past!”). Instead, he focuses his fourteen scenarios on our “tricks” – those things we do so successfully to help people find information when they’re in our libraries. The biggest challenge to reference services in the coming era, Abrams says, is transferring this expertise – and marketing it as such – to the online environment.

I won’t go over each scenario here, but I would recommend giving the article a scan if you haven’t seen it already. The ideas are in turn logical and provocative, interesting and challenging. If you had to pick one of these scenarios as being the most likely, which would it be? Which one would you most like to be a part of professionally?

The discussion in the room was interesting; here are some random notes that may provide food for thought as you’re thinking about reference in the 21st Century:

  • Social media may be better for connecting with peers than patrons; do patrons want their library in their Facebook space?
  • Successes in library physical spaces come from being proactive in reaching out to students
  • Virtual reference, why not do more of it? Perhaps even with remote librarians staffing reference desks from their offices, and using cameras and chat software to interact with patrons.
  • Caution advised in using technology just because it’s available
  • Can library infrastructure (including databases, catalogs, etc.) be crammed into the newest technologies? Should it be?
  • When, if ever, is it preferable to refer a subject-specific question to a person, rather than a source?

Here’s a scenario the session got me thinking about: What if whenever a patron visited your library’s website, an automatic chat message would pop up after they’ve been there for 45 seconds, asking if they were finding what they were looking for? If they needed help, they could be connected to a librarian. This would be a proactive outreach to a person at their point of need, hopefully reaching them before a moment of frustration and allowing us to efficiently guide them to an answer. Have you heard of any libraries that have tried something like this?

And we’d also like to know if you can see implementing any of Abrams’ scenarios in your library. Have you already done so? Let us know by dropping a note below.

January 12, 2009

Teaching & Learning in Second Life - Conference

Alliance Library System and LearningTimes are pleased to announce an exciting conference featuring science and virtual worlds. On January 30th we are "Stepping Into Science" and taking the day to explore the possibilities of using virtual worlds to learn about and teach science. The conference will be taking place entirely in Second Life and will feature a keynote and panel discussion as well as small breakout sessions, field trips and an opportunity participate in "Science Friday", NPR's live broadcast from Second Life.

For more information and to register, click here:


Speakers and field trips will include:

- Troy McConaghy (Scientist and Educator who has been involved with Second Life for over three years)
- Dr. George Djorgovski (Caltech and Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA))
- Joanna Scott (Writer for Nature and manages Second Nature on Second Life)
- Adrienne J. Gauthier, M.Ed. (Instructional Technology Specialist, Steward Observatory)
- Tony Crider (Elon University)

This online conference provides a great opportunity for anyone interested in exploring the latest in science education using 3D, immersive, virtual worlds.

It is ideal for anyone who might be at any stage of implementing education projects using virtual worlds.

There will be many opportunities to ask questions and discuss ideas with our speakers and guides as well as others attending the conference.

Those new to Second Life are encouraged to attend! We'll even be offering Second Life orientations before the 30th so if you've been meaning to check out Second Life, but haven't quite gotten around to it this is a great and structured opportunity to learn about some fantastic projects and also take Second Life for a spin.

The conference will be held live online in Second Life on January 30th. The registration fee is $65 per person. (Group rates are available.)

For more information on the conference, please visit:


Please freely distribute this invitation to those you might thing would interested in attending!

January 9, 2009

Digital Natives in the Library

To edit a phrase: the medium changes the message. Accessing information through different types of technologies has a profound impact on how that information is internalized and used. The ways in which students access information are changing at a rapid pace (fueled by mobile technologies and social online tools) and as information providers, it's important for us to keep up. A good source for learning more about how students use technology is a series of studies from Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR). Every year, ECAR surveys tens of thousands of college students at dozens of institutions to learn more about what technology they own, how they use it, and how it affects their learning activities. The most recent report is freely available here: 2008 ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology.

Here in the MINITEX Reference Services unit, we spend quite a bit of time talking about ELM databases. A note from one of these database providers, EBSCO, caught my eye the other day (in the Nov/Dec issue of Reference Notes, no less). EBSCO's new design version, called EBSCOhost 2.0, is apparently fully compatible with mobile devices. And, according to the update, "a brand new product for accessing EBSCOhost using handheld devices is currently in development and targeted for release in the spring." Could you see your high school or college students using a library database on their iPhone? Would you use one this way? Drop a note in the comments to let us know what you think.

And in case you're not quite convinced that new technologies are ubiquitous and are changing how students live their everyday lives, try to guess which day was Facebook's busiest day ever. Christmas eve.

January 5, 2009

November/December Issue of Reference Notes

MINITEX Reference Services invites you to read and enjoy this special, November/December double issue of Reference Notes. It's now available on the MINITEX website and ready for viewing! This issue includes:

Education Minnesota 2008; EBSCO Updates; History Day @ Your Library; Reversing the Rachet - Soaring to Excellence Teleconference; Upcoming Webinars; Conference Wrap-Up; From Awareness to Funding: A Study of Library Support in America--October 30, 2008; World Internet Project Report 2009; Sandra Nelson's Eight Keys to an Effective Library; Libraries Covered in NBC Nightly News; RMJ - Rural Minnesota Journal; New Discoverability Tools Minnesota Historical Aerial Photographs Online (MHAPO) and MapHappy; SPECIAL FOCUS: Information Literacy & the Library; and more!

To link to this issue or past issues go to:

Don't miss out on this timely information!