Monday, October 30, 2006

OhioLINK 10 million unique titles

Last week Candi Clevenger sent out an email detailing the 10 Millionth book unique book entered in the OhioLINK catalog. Putting this into perspective, Candi mentions an interesting FAQ:

"To visualize how many items 45.5 million is, imagine a bookshelf that stretches from Columbus to Portland, Maine. That would be 878 miles of shelf space, just twenty miles short of the amount needed to accommodate all 45.5 million items.*"

"*Using an average book width of 1.25 inches, 45.5 million books lined up side-by-side on a bookshelf would cover a distance of 898 miles. The distance from Columbus, Ohio to Portland, Maine is 878 miles according to"

To learn more about this milestone read What's New: Now Providing 10 Million Unique Titles, and the OhioLINK press release Ohio Academic Libraries Now Provide 10 Million Unique Titles.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

ALAO Conference & accommodations

Considering attending the ALAO Conference at the Crowne Plaza at Quaker Square Friday, November 3rd? Good news, it's not to late. According to the ALAO conference web site on-site registration will be accepted the day of the conference. Just fill out a registration form (Word doc), email it to Kim Leggett @, and pay by check at the conference sign in desk the day of the conference. Since I am attending the OhioLINK pre-conference workshop, Marketing Research for Libraries 101, I decided it would be nice to stay overnight at the Crowne Plaza instead of driving home Thursday evening and back to Akron on Friday morning. Not only will it save time, but I was also on the committee that chose the Quaker Square conference site and had a chance to tour the hotel. I really want to stay in one of the round rooms. Unfortunately, the conference hotel rate deadline ended October 3rd and I waited until Wednesday to make this decision. Fortunately, I was able to secure a reservation through Travelocity at close to the conference rate. I'm going to stay in one of the round silo rooms after all, and if I remember my camera will post pictures with the after - or during - conference blogging.

Photo source: Crowne Plaza Quaker Square.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Blogger issues

This has been a challenging for blogs that use Blogger, the servers have been down with both planned and unplanned maintenance issues. Trying to post has been difficult, trying to read other blogs using Blogger has been difficult, I don't want to even discuss trying to comment on blogs, and moving the blog to the new Beta Blogger software looks appealing even when reading the Known Issues for Blogger Beta blog that has almost daily issue posts.

Rebecca and I have talked about moving this blog to Beta Blogger because some of the new features include access control, labeling posts, and site feed options. At this point we are planning to wait until they have a few more of the bugs worked out or until all of the blogs are moved regardless of the remaining issues.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Library lost & found

Every library has a lost and found of some sort, even if it is just a collection box that gets taken to a main campus depository, we just can not help holding on to the lost treasures of patrons all the while hoping the return to reclaim them. I have a small lost and found area in the IRC and the circulation desk on the main floor has a lost and found as well. Maybe having two is overkill, but experience has shown if someone leaves something on the second floor, they come back to the second floor to get it. If we don't have it, they are sent to the circ desk to peruse their collection.

A lot of interesting, even odd, items get left behind. Besides the regular items of disks (not so much now with pen drives), pictures and homework in the scanners, notebooks, small projects, and the occasional pair of glasses. In fact, we often get the same things you find in an elementary school classroom when winter arrives, hats, gloves, scarves, and the like. There are always a few oddities. Last week someone left a dirty bowl and a fork (I understand a bowl and spoon, but a fork). This morning was a first for me as I was powering up computers I noticed the lovely foil swan pictured to the left. I have to say this is the first time anyone has left us art.

I am left to ponder, is it trash or is it art?

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Google custom search

In a post dated yesterday, Eureka! Your own search engine has landed!, Google blog announced their new customized search engine for web pages and blogs by asking; "Wouldn't it be cool if you could easily build a search engine on your blog or website tailored to the topics and areas you know and love the most?" The post goes on to explain:

"Today we are launching the Google Custom Search Engine. As you might imagine, it's a simple and straightforward product to use and understand. In a matter of minutes you can create a search engine that reflects your knowledge and interests; looks and feels like your own; and, if you choose, you can make money from the traffic you receive through Google's AdSense program. You can even invite your friends and trusted community members to add to and help build your search engine. " (Shashi Seth and R.V. Guha, Google Co-op team, 10/23/06)

I have not yet had a chance to create my own search engine, but the concept is intriguing as it appears you are able to choose the sites you want the engine to search. If that's the case, it would be a very cool tool to have as a teacher. Choosing the web sites for a class to utilize on specific assignments, like WebQuests, would enable younger students to search within a more structured, and safe, environment. Is it taking things a step too far to consider the use of a customized search engine on library web pages that specifies database searching? Would it even work?

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Mid-terms, web pages, & image maps

Last week was an eye-opening, preview of end-of-term madness for my new student workers. The beginning of each term is generally steady and managable with plenty of time for homework tucked in amongst the necessary duties of quick reference (I need a children's book with long vowel sounds.), laminating (Can you help me with my file folder games?), technology (I need help with the scanners/digital camera, copy machine and printer.), filling consumables (Do you have more glue?), and managing IRC purchases (How much is bulletin board paper?). In addition to regular IRC responsibilities, we facilitate a lab for the College of Education. Luckily, two Graduate Assistants are in charge, but residual questions always arise when they are not working. All in all it is a team effort that brings a little sunshine into each day.

Amidst the chaos, the IRC web page beckons me. Since I would like to load the new IRC page over Christmas break, I answered the call. Today's goal, eliminate the bad photos, adjust the so-so photos, find some good photos, and pick the best of the group to compile an image map for the main IRC page. I need five photos that illustrate the main areas available to students in the IRC. A problem with photos outside the physical IRC space is the main area of the curriculum collection, our textbook annex, is poorly lit. Instead, I chose pictures of the door (glass) into the IRC, a representative are of curriculum stacks, a composite of two IRC blogs, one shelf of the juvenile new bookshelf, and a small bank of computers. These photos will represent, respectively, IRC welcome, IRC collection, what's new in the IRC, author information pages, and a section titled Beyond the IRC. The map pictured below does not have the text or hot spots currently working on the sample page because I have work yet to do on displaying the text properly. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the words included must be readable. Right now the text is barely noticeable.

Someone recently emailed and asked me if I was hired to be the webmaster, either for the IRC or for the library at AU. The answer to that question is no, it came about as a bit of a fluke after I created a new educational resources page for the library and then the IRC web site (one did not exist until I arrived). The responsibility is filed under the "duties as named" portion of my contract. I enjoy the process, but do at times find it a challenge added to my current work in the IRC. As I have mentioned, one of the blessings/curses of working in a smaller academic library is the opportunity to do many different things. This is one of those things.

With that said I have had support from the library when it became necessary to update my skills. I have had several occasions to attend workshops (ACRL web course) and continuing education classes (OSU Dreamweaver MX instruction, see previous post). And yes, by support, I mean the library paid for each session and authorized my time away from the IRC. Also of interest, in spite of or maybe because of my status as a novice web designer, I had the opportunity to present at a CMCIG workshop (2003) and a web design panel at an OhioLINK Reference Rendezvous session (2004). Sometimes it is easier to hear someone speak without the techno-jargon that accompanies web design.

Lastly, because of my novice status I am at home this evening checking the page on my computer using older versions of IE, Mozilla, and Netscape. Much to my dismay, the words show but the links do not work on the image map and the images are evenly displayed in IE, but crooked in both of the other browsers. It seems I will be doing more than updating text at work tomorrow. (I need to look at the computer picture as well, it's rather stretched!)

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

... And soon I will rule the world

Here is a search engine you have to see; Janie Hermann at Library Garden posted about the Ms Dewey Search Engine (Sorry Janie, I had to do a screen shot as well, it was too good to pass up). Ms. Dewey is not your ordinary search engine, or even a cartoon, she is video of an actual person with a quick wit and snarky personality.

The screen shot displayed is right after she informed me "... and soon, I will rule the world, bwaaaa haaaa haaaa haaa!" After Ms. Dewey loads, be patient, a search bar appears. Take too long to type in your query, Ms. Dewey will knock on the monitor to make sure you are still there. "Hello! Anybody there?" I let it run for awhile, a white phone appeared and she offered to call someone to check on my health because one of the signs of a heart attack is loss of eye-hand coordination and by the looks of my typing I was having trouble in that area!

After amusing me, I thought it was like Lloyd the Library Llama song, just for fun; I remembered it is a search engine and typed "motorcycles" (Ms. Dewey was working on a red bike while waiting to load so I thought it appropriate). My query returned several options, visible on the right side of the photo, including the Harley Davidson home page. Additionally, it was possible to scroll down the results without leaving the site.

What fun for a dreary mid-term Wednesday afternoon.

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Students and information literacy skills

The Wired Campus Blog, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, posted an article yesterday on information literacy, Students Lack 'Information Literacy,' Testing services Study Finds. The testing service in question is ETS, or Educational Testing Service, also well known for The Praxis Series, GRE, and now the ITC Literacy Assessment. According to ETS, their preliminary findings indicate:
"College students and high-school students preparing to enter college are sorely lacking in the skills needed to retrieve, analyze, and communicate information that is available online." (Students Lack, Wired Campus Blog, 10/17/06)

These findings, presented at an Information Literacy Conference in Washington, were "aimed at drumming up nationwide support for information-literacy standards and a curriculum in schools and colleges." Additionally, ETS presenters stressed that "the preliminary findings were neither authoritative nor thorough" but that they "did offer some indication that students need more training in information literacy."

As I read through the findings, I envisioned academic and school librarians gnashing their teeth at what could be construed as the obvious. Information literacy is the foundation of bibliographic instruction and done on a daily basis in library classrooms. The technology sophistication students bring to colleges and universities is in direct contrast with the knowledge they have regarding the quality of information obtained. Understanding the difference between finding articles on the Internet and finding them in a database is a significant distinction, one that is faced daily in reference sessions, at the reference desk, through library chat and IM, and for me, in the IRC. Not to discount the study's findings, or the decision to add information literacy to No Child Left Behind, but to me the bigger question is what can we do to change the results?

My cynical side, one that sees education students taking a plethora of Praxis exams, wonders if the results are selling a test or researching information literacy.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

SLJ articles of interest

In my mailbox this morning was the October issue of School Library Journal (v. 52, no. 10). Beyond the children's book reviews; two articles in particular garnered my attention. The first, The Unreal Deal, by Anita Silvey, discusses young adult literature and a recent trend within the genre towards fantasy, away from realistic fiction.
"In fact, there’s been such a shift in young adults’ reading tastes that all of us are scrambling to figure out what truly appeals to teens. Of one thing I’m certain: instead of craving realistic stories about people like themselves, today’s teens are crazy about characters (and scenarios) that have little in common with their own everyday lives. As one young reader put it, his peers are hunting for novels that will “take them away to another world, not like this one.” (Silvey, SLJ, 10/1/2006).

As someone who buys children's and young adult literature for a library, I agree with many of Silvey's points, especially noting the shift taking place within the genre. This article was a topic of some debate at Read Roger, Horn Book Magazine Editor Roger Sutton's blog last week. The post, Cheering the Home Team, refers not only to Silvey's article, but also to the upcoming publication The Children of Hurin, a work edited by Tolkien's son David (be sure to read the comments, they add to the post).

The second article of interest in this issue of SLJ is Making Waves: With Podcasting, anyone (yes anyone) Can Create Their Own Radio Show, by Will Richardson. Anyone interested in learning beginning steps for creating podcasts should read this article. Richardson defines podcasts in simple terms, details how educators are utilizing the technology, prepares novices to create their first podcast, and discusses how libraries can "harness the power of podcasts," many of which are adaptable to academic libraries. For example:

"Podcasts can also be used to highlight featured books or new additions to your library’s collection. Care to record an interview with a children’s book author or another classroom across the globe? Skype, a free Internet telephone service, can help you do just that. The potential of podcasts is limited only by our own imaginations." (Richardson, SLJ, 10/1/06)

Richardson is the author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom (ISBN 1412927676) and Weblogg-ed. The book is a must read, I have a copy as does the library, for anyone wanting to know about these continually emerging web technologies.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

IRC Logo poll

Before re-designing the library web page, I will be updating the Instructional Resource Center web page. I have in mind the following goals, frames will be eliminated, the page refreshed, information updated, and the colors will conform to the current University web page scheme. To this point, I have sketched out page dimensions and proposed layout, determined the color palette, and I am in the process of designing requisite images, logos, and buttons. Experience has taught me I work better when all of the visual element decisions have been made before putting the page together. As with PowerPoint, where I often become enraptured with what font, color, picture, and transitions may be used and forget information is KEY to the entire presentation, the visual element decisions must be completed so I am able to move seamlessly into the actual web editing process.

Today I finished four IRC logos for the web page. I am using Macromedia Fireworks (not 8) for the graphic elements and Dreamweaver MX 2004 for the web page. The logos have been posted on my personal site so I am able to look at them from home and judge length of time to load and size on my less powerful computer. Now I am seeking opinions.

I recently found a website, Lucky Polls, that offers coding for short simple polls on blogs, websites, and the like (yes, it is a widget). Below are the four logos, feel free to pick your favorite! I would appreciate the feedback.





Which IRC logo?

1) #1
2) #2
3) #3
4) #4

View Results

Update: 10/20/06

A quick word on the two logos receiving the most votes. After quizzing anyone and everyone in the IRC a consensus was reached; logo 4. With a few modifications, namely adding Ashland University Library and the library address to the logo, it seemed to meet all the necessary qualifications for the page. As to the second choice, logo number 1, it was scratched because of an off-hand comment from my boss.

He told me the IRC portion of the logo looked like an eye exam chart. After that, it's all I could see (ha-ha) when viewing (tee-hee) the logo. I'm pleased with the choice, have moved on to designing navigation buttons, and will soon be making an image map.

Anyone interested may view the page in progress. It is located on my personal AU web space and will remain there while I work out all the design issues and bugs. Plus, living on my network space means I do not have to wait out the 2 hour staging server time period.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Irony in html

Preparing for serious library web page re-design, I recently attended two consecutive weeks of web editing workshops, Dreamweaver MX Level 1 and Dreamweaver MX Level 2, at Ohio State University's Office of Continuing Education in Columbus. Though I have experience with web editing and html coding, Dreamweaver is software I have thus far only used for updating, not creating. My last two weeks have been highly infused with web work.

Backing up a bit, it is not necessary to have a lot of web editing skill to work with Blogger; there are a great many of help pages for working with sidebars and comments. Sure, it helps to have rudimentary html understanding, but is not necessary. Back in the day, one of the first things I learned about html is most tags, especially active links, need to open AND close to function correctly. This evening I was editing the side bar and noticed all of the text directly below the "Library Humor" category was an active link for Overdue Media - Unshelved. Upon further inspection, the active link was not closed.

It is now.

I spent two full days learning Dreamweaver skills and the blog sidebar was done in by an open tag. That'll teach me!

An aside: I tried to show, illustrate, what tag it was but Blogger will not publish the post with an "html closing tag that has no opening tag".

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ellison Die Library

It is my last weekend to work this term and thanks to Gina Bolger, the education librarian at Cornerstone University's Curriculum Materials Center, I had a fun and useful project to work with this afternoon. I will be doing a complete IRC web page overhaul in the next few weeks and always like to see what others are doing. Thursday, I was surfing the net looking a other CMC web pages and found Cornerstone University's CMC site. One sentence caught my attention, "Logon to our Ellison Die Library to see our collection of die cuts." What a great idea! After a simple login process at Ellison's Die Library page, I was able to create two libraries for the IRC's collections:

Anyone may login and view our existing collections, and only the librarian is allowed to edit. This is a nice perk to add to my IRC page and will help me keep track of the dies existing in our collection. It might even replace my spreadsheet (or not).

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Library Student Journal

The October 4th edition of American Libraries Direct, a weekly email/newsletter provided to members of ALA that was in my inbox this morning, included a link to Library Student Journal, "a peer reviewed student publication of the University of Buffalo Department of Library and Information Studies." An open letter from the editor, Eli Guinnee, reads in part:

"Our goal with LSJ is to provide a forum for discussion of current LIS education issues and to publish the best student papers in the LIS field, broadly defined, while providing valuable publishing and editing experience to authors and editors alike. But I hope our readers, authors, and editors will also take away this lesson: libraries can be publishers, and librarians can take advantage of our diverse skills and the many resources at our disposal to be directly and actively involved in the publishing of high quality scholarly information." - E. Guinnee, LSJ, 9/2006

A quick glance at the current issue contents reveals articles (2), Essays (3), Editorials (2), and Reviews (1) presented in both html and PDF, and comment options for each entry. The essay, It's IM time: a case study of instant messaging reference for teens at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, by Licia Slimon, was of particular interest to me for two reasons. First, she is a Pitt alumni and interned at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Second, IM reference is similar in some ways to OhioLINK chat with a librarian services and I was curious to see if her findings in any way mirrored experiences I have had doing chat (it did).

LSJ's also has an editor's blog, hosted by blogger. LSJ Editor's Blog has an open comment policy (you are required to authenticate), RSS feed capability, Technorati blog search, and an interesting Community Web Search widget that includes a cloud. Blog over and see what's new.

Library Student Journal's inaugural September 2006 issue is now available.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Getting a job, Part 2: Interviews

Well here's my much belated follow-up post about interviews. You've managed to brush up your resume and go through drafts to make your cover letter perfect and all that hard work has paid off when you get that phone call or email that they want to interview you. Inevitably as soon as you hang up the phone you do a little happy dance and cheer (hopefully you're not in public) because they're actually interested in you! You must be great and wonderful! Allow yourself to revel for one hour, then get to work.


You want to prepare for your interview, but you don't want to sound like an over-rehearsed stage actor. Look at the library's website, blog, catalog, etc. Remember: familiarize don't memorize. It's a good idea to know background information about the library, including important projects, collections, organizational structure of the library and where it falls in the bigger picture. Knowing these things can help you understand why certain questions are being asked in an interview and allow you to craft a better answer. DO NOT quote them back statistics or frequently refer to this background info. It's okay to mention one of their more notable projects once especially if it's brought up, but be careful it isn't too much. It may unintentionally portray you as a know-it-all and could irritate your interviewers.

It's also a good idea to come up with a couple of general questions. Potential employers like to know that you've shown enough initiative and interest to become familiar with their library. Keep the questions general, but something that you honestly don't know and would like the answer to. Give it a bit of thought, but don't obsess over it. Sometimes questions will come up during an interview and that's fine too.

Relax and be yourself.
Remember this is not the inquisition it is a conversation. This is a chance for them to meet you and you to meet them. Each is equally important. You don't want to be stuck in a job where you're well liked and appreciated, but don't feel the same about those around you. Make sure it's a good fit. You want to show your personality, but your professional personality not your leisure personality. This distinction may be a bit difficult for new librarians, but it's important to develop it. (You should already have something similar in the difference between how you act in front of professors and how you act with your friends on a Saturday.) The difficulty lies in showing your personality under pressure. This comes from confidence. Football players often listen to some music to pump them up before a game, try doing the same thing. Listen to something on the drive there that will make you feel like a winner. It's a little thing that you can build on and have running through your head if your confidence wavers during the interview. Just remember: Confidence is important and will win you the job, haughtiness and egotism will get your resume thrown in the trash. When in doubt, practice with a friend whose honest enough to tell you if you need to be more confident, or tone it down a notch.

Full-day interviews.

I have thankfully never been subjected to one of these. Usually it's the librarians with faculty status who are tortured in this manner. From what little I've observed they are anything but fun. My best advice is to wear comfortable shoes, a good antiperspirant, and prepare a lot. They usually involve 2 or more interviews with different groups of people (possibly the department(s) that the position is the liaison of, other librarians in that department, etc.), sometimes a presentation about yourself, and usually a lunch with a couple of people at a place of their choosing. The good part is that the library usually picks up the tab for lunch, the bad part is that the only time you have to take a breath is if you can sneak off to the bathroom. Thankfully, though, if you're called for a full-day interview it usually means that you're in a much smaller pool of potential candidates than a regular interview since the library isn't going to want to pay for a lot of lunches. Full-day interviews are usually conducted after a round of in-person or phone interviews (which should also be prepared for if possible).

That's enough for this time. Any questions can be posted in the comments or emailed. Next time I'll discuss either the "endless wait" and/or the use of email and the internet in this process.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Widgets, beautiful widgets

Look at them, they are beautiful, fabulous, wonderful, maybe even enticing. Google released 1,220 Google Gadgets For Your Webpage today. From Babelfish to Hangman and Magic 8 Ball to Here Lies ("An interactive tombstone where you can declare something dead.") I know Google Gadgets is really another word for ... blog widget.

Widgets are our friends, but proceed at your own risk!

Monday, October 02, 2006

E-mail is for Old People

Today's Wired Campus Blog offers the following: Email is for Old People. It's an interesting article that discusses how some incoming freshmen consider email passé. In our current culture of instant information, is email really lagging behind? For instance:
"College officials around the country find that a growing number of students are missing important messages about deadlines, class cancellations, and events sent to them by e-mail because, well, the messages are sent to them by e-mail."
- Carneval, 10/6/06

Are libraries are using chat and IM in addition to traditional reference? We participate in OhioLINK chat reference, but do not as of yet offer IM. In an interesting coincidence, I am scheduled to introduce two librarians, Chad Boeninger and Wanda Weinberg, from Ohio University who are presenting a session at the ALAO conference. Their session title, "Instant Messaging Reference for Academic Libraries" is obviously a timely one.

Not everyone sees the potential in recent technology trends such as blogging, IM, and even social networking spaces such as MySpace. The concept of using the technology must be embraced by all or it is simply one more failed gimmick, as opposed to feasible and useful outreach to patrons.

Curiosity reigned and I took an informal walk through the library after finishing the article. A quick glance around the main and second floor shows roughly 1/2 of the students occupied with email, though not necessarily campus email. Because many are multitasking, IM windows are open, mp3 players are sounding, and there are multiple MS office functions happening as well (I know this for fact as four of them stopped me with questions regarding Word and Excel). When I mentioned the article name to my student workers, they were slightly scathing in their response. Guess I'll go email someone about this article after all.

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