Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The old fashioned way

For the first time since arriving at Ashland University Library, incoming freshman from the college of education are not required to take an introductory technology course. This course served a dual purpose of presenting basic technology skills to be mastered and, from a library and Instructional Resource Center standpoint, guaranteed we would see every one of them in the library at least twice during the term. This week my student workers have been helping me brainstorm marketing ideas.

We talked about creating a Facebook fan page, developing a short series of podcasts featuring the IRC collection, increasing the number (and quality) of IRC blog posts, adding instructional videos to my education LibGuides, creating new Prezi and Animoto videos, and continuing to update the second floor space (visual appeal).

In two weeks the Accent on Success classes, Ashland's first year experience program, will arrive in the library for instruction sessions with the reference librarians. Many of these classes are grouped by declared majors, meaning there will be sessions for education students led by education faculty. While there is generally not time for tours built into the classes, I can certainly provide a parting gift. I updated my old book marks to business cards, featured resources that would be of interest to new students, printed them in color (created in Publisher for the correct Pantone colors), used a square hole-punch and attached them to my IRC pens. I have 126 pens in a clear sterlite box that I will give to a reference librarian later this week. Sometimes simpler is better.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Well, of course

On overload from a busy day, my mind is wandering a bit as I decompress by watching Designed to Sell on HGTV.  Out of the blue, a technology a-ha moment. Interestingly enough, it highlights a study discussed today on the ALA Learning Round Table blog. But I digress.

The university web team recently updated the current students page. Included within the page is a new rss feed that features the library news blog. It's a great marketing function for the library - I've already scheduled posts for first year instruction sessions - and provides an opportunity for our blog news to reach a wider audience. When students select the headline, they are taken to a separate page generated by the Drupal module. I noticed, however, it displays only a snippet of each post as opposed to full text. Wondering if this was a function of the module, this morning I sent a help ticket thanking them for the prime real-estate on the student page and asking if it was possible to present the full post with links or if a link to the blog could be added within the created page.

A week into the new academic year, students in my technology class(es) have already successfully completed their first assignment. Several have worked ahead to the second and third assignment, publishing their first blog reflection post. Looking at their work, I noticed three elected to add social bookmarking links to post footers. I liked the idea and investigated how to add it to this blog and the library blog. Happily clicking the blog tab functions, I located what I needed and quickly adapted blogs footers to feature quick links (see below). While moving through tabs, I selected settings then site feed and noticed this blogs feeds were set to full, short, and short. Aha! I checked and the library news blog feed was set to short. I changed the feed option to full and saved. With luck, when we publish next the post will display as needed.

Now, what about the ALA Learning Round Table post? Today the blog featured a post titled Learn More, Do Nothing. The author discusses how taking a break from a problem and ruminating on it during quiet times often leads to success. Well, of course.

ALAO: Jay Ladd Award Nominations

From the ALAO List Serv 8/30/10
Nominations are being accepted for the Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award

The ALAO Awards Committee seeks nominations for the 2010 Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes an individual who (1) has been an ALAO member for at least 5 years, and (2) who has promoted academic libraries and librarianship not only on his or her own campus, but also within the state. The award also recognizes someone who has provided leadership in the promotion of ALAO through service such as committee membership, executive board office, or interest group office. The Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award honors the memory of Jay Ladd, a founding member of ALAO in the early 1970s.

This is a wonderful way to recognize a colleague who has provided leadership in ALAO and in the profession. The recipient of this year's award will receive an honorary 5-year membership in ALAO and will be recognized at the ALAO Annual Conference in Columbus, OH on October 29, 2010.

You may access the nomination form from the ALAO web site at:

Please include the following information:

  • Name of nominee
  • Nominee's position title
  • Nominee's college or university
  • Nominee's ALAO activities
  • Your reasons for nominating this person
  • Your name and contact information, including phone and email

NOTE: You may nominate more than one person. Your reasons for nominating your candidate(s) for the Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award will be especially valuable to the Awards Committee.

Please send your nominations via mail, US Cargo, fax, or as an email attachment by Friday, September 17, 2010 to:

Rob Withers, ALAO Past President
Assistant to the Dean and University Librarian
225 King Library
Miami University
Oxford, OH 45056
Fax: 513-529-3110
Email: rob.withers at muohio.edu

Interested in learning more? Library Cloud contributor, Besty Blankenship, was the 2007 Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award Winner!

From The Chronicle: Brainstorm

This morning, from The Chronicle of Higher Education blog Brainstorm, an article from Gina Barreca.

"Hello class. Hello former students who are willing to go another round in this ring, and welcome to the new folks—the ones who have no idea what this course will be like.

Let me tell you who’ve never taken a class with me before a little about what to expect. And please understand that while I’m delighted that you're here, I will also understand if you decide that you can’t work within the boundaries I’ve set up.

The points I’m talking about today are non-negotiable. That’s why I mention them up front. On a number of other issues, I can be flexible. Concerning the following, however, you will find me intractable:"

You really need to read more @ On the First Day ...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

uFollow & My bloglines

After finding myself, so to speak, in uFollow, I explored the site a bit further to determine how many library blogs in my bloglines account were included in their site 'database'. It is possible to search by author or by blog name; often the blog has a listing of authors who contribute. I did notice not all blog contributors are automatically included as authors. For example, Library Cloud is included as a blog, but not all of our contributors have an author page. Users may choose to follow a blog source, a specific author, or both.

Here's a sample group of my blog findings:

A timeline, or post archive, allow followers to see articles (posts) by month. Of particular interest is their Librarianship Channel with close to 4000 articles; "This channel includes articles about libraries, librarians, and library related issues." It will be interesting to see what direction this venture takes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's a book!

In the interest of full disclosure on a Friday afternoon I will preface the remainder of this post with; I love Lane Smith's books. Some of my favorite titles are John, Paul, George, and Ben, Madam President, and Big Plans. That list does not include his work with Jon Scieszka such as The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Math Curse, and best of all, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. So it is not all that unusual It's a Book was recently added to the library's juvenile collection.

MacMillan Children's Books has a YouTube channel. Here's It's a Book:

It's a Book is a comical and accurate view of the books verses media debate narrated by a mouse, a jackass, and a monkey. A technology focused jackass consistently questions the monkey reading a book about its various "functions." The patient response to every question asked is, "No, it's a book." Illustrations are crisp, clean, and colorful; a double page spread detailing hours passing as jackass becomes fully involved reading monkey's book is classic. Mouse has the final word in this argument, and therein lie the questions this book seems to be gathering.

Reviews have been mixed for It's a Book; while School Library Journal listed it as a starred review (Gr. 3-5) in their August 2010 issue, others have disagreed. I've added it to the collection of titles to be used during a Mock Caldecott session after Labor Day. I am deeply curious how a group of pre-service teachers will view the book, illustrations, use of the word jackass (as opposed to donkey), and how or if it would fit into a classroom.

Other issues aside, wouldn't the video make a great ice-breaker for a library instruction session?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

ALAO Conference Registration Open

From the ALAO list serv, registration is now open for the 36th Annual ALAO Conference!

Register now for the Academic Library Association of Ohio’s 36th Annual Conference, Academic Libraries: Now and Tomorrow.

On Friday, October 29, 2010 join colleagues from Ohio and adjoining states for a conference which offers unique opportunities for learning and networking.

Stephen Abram, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Markets for Gale Cengage, is the featured speaker for the program. His message will be followed by an exciting array of programs, presentations and poster sessions provided by library innovators from Ohio and beyond.

There will also be a full complement of vendor exhibits.

The conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Columbus North, 6500 Doubletree Avenue in Columbus. The location is near the intersection of I-71 and I-270 North.

Please visit the conference web site for more details, hotel and registration information.
Registration is $80 ($30 for graduate students) until September 17. Registrations received after September 17 will be $100. The registration deadline is October 15. -- Rocki Strader, ALAO President (8/24/10)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Following blog stats

I have successfully weaned myself from looking at our blog statistics (StatCounter, Feedburner, and Hot Stuff 2.0) on a daily basis; because I am interested in how readers find us, where readers are located, and what interests them, I do still review them weekly if for no other reasons than to reset blocking cookies so my personal posts do not add to the count and satisfy my curiosity. This evening I noticed several returning links from Cairo, Egypt that appeared to originate from my personal author page on a web site I am unfamiliar with, uFollow. With curiosity engaged, I followed the link.
"uFollow is a free service that helps you keep track of your favorite bloggers and columnists. Once you create an account you can add authors, sources, and channels to the stream of articles that you receive. uFollow currently tracks more than 10,000 bloggers and columnists from over 1,000 of the world’s leading blogs, magazines, and newspapers." -- About uFollow
It was odd to see a personal author page complete with a vaguely familiar biography. A quick review of the 2010 Computers in Libraries site revealed the biographical information was from my speaker page (and not a reference citation in sight, tsk). Also on the about page was a blurb stating uFollow is a division of Hindawi Publishing; "Hindawi Publishing Corporation is a commercial publisher of peer-reviewed journals covering a wide range of academic disciplines" and in 2007 entered into a partnership with Sage Publications (Hindawi, about us). They also have offices in New York city and Cairo, Egypt.

After spending time this afternoon discussing proliferation of online personal information and importance of knowing what's "out there" as it applies to individuals, it was wonderfully ironic this information came to my attention today. I signed up for an account, which may be the desired response, and added myself to my author shelf. Regardless, it's an interesting venture I may explore further.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Screen Capture: Screencast-O-Matic

I'm lucky enough to have Camtasia Studio on my work computer; as such, it's easy to get spoiled having immediate access to software for creating video tutorials. To create screen capture projects on my home computer, I've been exploring free options, specifically one that I would not have to download. I found Screenjelly, Screenr, Jing, HyperCam, and most recently Screencast-O-Matic. This summer, students in my technology class were very interested in using Jing and several wrote interesting reviews on the product. On the verge of downloading, I decided instead to try Screencast-O-Matic.

"Screencast-O-Matic is the original online screen recorder for creating screen capture video recordings (aka screen casts) with free hosting all from your browser with no install!" -- Welcome page (8/24/10)

Several reviews noted five minute videos were free, but the web site FAQs state fifteen minute videos (subsequently hosted on YouTube) are free. It is necessary to have java installed with your browser to access the product, but it does not seem to differentiate when using updated versions of either Firefox or IE8; I have used both browsers to create screen casts without issue. I was happy to learn it is possible to export completed projects directly to YouTube as an HD movie, as an MP4 file, or an AVI file for Movie Maker.

The product is easy to use and intuitive; it
  • provides opportunity to select video size from a list or adjust the screen to suit your needs
  • includes a pause button (or alt+p) during capture
  • starts each capture, both fresh video and after pausing, with 3,2,1, go!
  • has an option to reset the video and start again
After making screen casts on my work computer and on my personal computer, I noticed choice of microphone makes a significant difference, my $3 work microphone audio narration sounds a bit "tinny," however my $9 home microphone provides adequate results. There are interesting visuals included on the screen cast, it highlights mouse movement with halos and short bursts as the video producer moves through the story. I did not notice these features when creating the video, but when processing the finished product there is opportunity to opt out of any and all of the colored (yellow and blue) highlights.

Since I opted to use the free version, there is a Screencast-O-Matic watermark on the bottom, left corner of the video. It is less obvious than the Animoto markings and I found it easily ignored. If you do not want or like the watermark, pro accounts are reasonably priced ($9 per year) and provide editing tools and options of one hour video lengths.

Below are two videos recently created with Screencast-O-Matic. I elected to keep the mouse highlights on both videos; each was exported to my YouTube account, saved as MP4 files, and later embedded in separate project. This is a great product to create free screen cast videos, especially when taking into consideration it is not necessary to download prior to use.

LibGuides: EDEC 323 Children's Book Reviews

Angel Learning Management: Netvibes: Using the Link Module

Friday, August 20, 2010

Animoto Rocks!

Diane turned me onto to Animoto last week and since then I've gone cray! To think a a low techie person like me could create something snazzy is simply amazing!

I've done a total of seven so far, including one about an upcoming exhibit on Harry Potter.

I'm cheap; I do the free 30 second videos. Works for me so far. I recommend this to anyone with limited time and skill; it can help market your library in many different ways!

A few last minute things

Freshmen are moving in to the dorms today marking the start of back-to-school for the 2010-2011 academic year. Walking to Founder's Hall this morning for updated time-sheets, a building literally next door to the library, I happily gave directions to at least three families looking for the registrars office. They have an exciting and event-filled weekend ahead; activities are planned prior to the first day of classes on Monday.

Last-minute details, things in the library physical space and cyberspace, need to be accomplished today; library and IRC hours updated, the library and IRC blogs will have new animoto welcome videos posted and hours, signs are in place on the main entrance and IRC doors (more visually appealing since the color printer was repaired), and the IRC mouse pads successfully revised. I finished a LibGuides course support guide request a few minutes ago and depending on business in the IRC this afternoon, have possibly unrealistic hopes that two videos can be produced and embedded before the end of the day. I'm lucky enough to have a great group of returning student workers, as well as a new hire or two.

The transition from summer to a new fall term often feels abrupt; in many ways we work all summer to prepare for a successful fall. But there is nothing more invigorating than students thrilled to be on campus. Welcome back!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2014 Mindset List

This week students have started to trickle back to campus; the RA's have already been to the IRC cutting ellison letters, laminating signs, printing in color, and other fun things preparing their dorm environment for new charges to arrive and old friends to return. It wouldn't be a new school year without Beloit College's Mindset list.
"Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall." -- Mindset List 2014
Here are a few favorites, in no particular order, from the 2014 List:
  • Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
  • Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
  • Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.
  • J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn’t he?
  • Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
  • They’ve always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi Channel.

Oddly enough Beavis and Butt-head, along with the Angry Beavers, were a topic of discussion at a family lunch on Sunday; they were a favorite of my nephews. Despite the fact that Sci-Fi Channel is now SyFy (and home of personal favorites Warehouse 13 and Eureka, but I digress), the list includes interesting points for discussion. See also:

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Working with Animoto

It's time to update a library video or two, both the university and library web sites - as well as LibGuides and ERes - look significantly different. I have the original movie saved and could easily insert updated screen shots, but thought this might be the time to try Animoto again. I spent Thursday evening playing, starting with images from the existing one minute video; it quickly became obvious the thirty second free project limit meant significant editing.

The video ran short before several important elements, such as introduction of online resources, were viewed. While processing, items were removed and the project edited to meet time constraints (as promised). It was time to re-interpret the original project and present what was important. I removed the lead in items, images highlighting the differences between old and new, and focused on what is important now. I ruthlessly culled out text and started the movie with a photograph of the library, "cheating" the time limit somewhat by labeling the image as opposed to using the text option in Animoto.

Because the process is fun, I definitely spent more time with it than necessary but it is easy to get involved. Now it's time to share. Each of these Animoto projects feature the same images and text, only the music and style selections are different.

I'm leaning towards the first of the revised projects. While the option to download and save is not available with the free version, it's possible to embed directly from Animoto and the option to export directly to your YouTube account; the export may take time and it warns resulting images will not be as clear. Still, it's an option to have a secondary record. I'm considering a couple additional projects, possibly something for class and/or promoting the Cyber Zed Shed call for proposals.

I also hope to convince Betsy to share her Animoto project from Friday afternoon ...

Update: Exporting the finished Animoto project to YouTube took less than five minutes (including processing time on YouTube). I would guess the amount of time needed would vary considering traffic on either site and internet connection. Overall, video images are not as clear on YouTube, but they are acceptable and text is readable. This is a nice way to have a backup of my project.