Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thing 23 - Victory Lap! To the Theme from Rocky!

Now that the end is in sight, I'm feeling a little . . . Nostalgic? Ecstatic? Copacetic? It's hard to say.

At times, the road was a challenging one. I felt like it was hard to get started. In the beginning, there were a lot of tools for manipulating images, which while cool and fun, does not seem to be very practical at least for my job. We tend to leave graphics to our skilled public relations department (and we're lucky to have them!) Also, I felt like the RSS thing came too early in the process . . . that I may have gotten more out of it farther down the road. And I will revisit that, since I don't think I have the understanding of it, or that I've used it as productively as I could have.

It was also challenging to separate what was fun and entertaining from what was actually useful in a library setting. I think that you could use tools like You Tube, podcasting, Second Life, Facebook etc. to serve a library's purpose, but that it would take up a good amount of time, time that most understaffed libraries just don't have readily available. Still, it's good to be up on the new technology, as our patrons expect us to be knowledgeable, even if we don't realize it.

One unexpectedly cool outcome of this process for me was keeping in touch with my coworkers. We have a library system with a LOT of staff, who work in various branches, and often, we don't see our coworkers at other branches much. Having their blogs on my blogroll has been a cool way to keep up with them, and their process through the Things. It's also been enormously helpful to read their experiences with each Thing. For someone having issues with a particular Thing, they could check with someone who has already worked on it and can help them knowledgeably. Also, having staff on Facebook has been enormously fun so far. I'll be interested to see how long we keep up with that.

I would probably do another program like this, particularly if I am as, let's call it "gently encouraged" as I was by our supervisors. Since this is a work thing, and we do get training for it in our system, I did my best to work on this at the library whenever possible. A few things I worked on at home, but most at work. And honestly? I did almost none of this at the small branch I manage and am on the desk every hour that we're open. It just wasn't possible. I was much more able to get things done during some off-desk time at the large branch I also work at, or while attending the reference telephones. There's something about being in a public area that really interferes with careful thought, and a lot of this for me, was thinking about each Thing's usefulness and its place in library work.

There are lots of nice comments on the 23 Things website about librarian's experiences with the Things, but I want to add mine as well. Although it was a long road, and there may have been a little complaining along the way, I'm glad I did it. It was a great, hands-on introduction to Web 2.0, and I learned some pretty useful Things along the way for library work. Thanks to all who put it together, and kept the tone light and positive. It definitely made the journey more fun!

Thing 22 - The Current

My journey through the wondrous land of Web and Library 2.0 is nearly to an end. I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel. No, wait. That was actually Buddy the Elf.

I hereby solemnly swear to do the following:

-- Maintain faithful use of Facebook, for as long as it interests me, and as long as people keep writing on my wall and sending me flair

-- Go back and really try the whole RSS thing again. I don't think I got as much out of that Thing as I could have, and I want to try to make it more applicable and useful for my professional life, if not my interests.

-- Keep up with my professional growth and do my best to keep up with the new technology.

I do not resolve to maintain this blog, because it's really served its purpose and can be done now. But I will try to be better about maintaining this blog, my website, and maybe this blog.
I like the list on the 23 Things page. And when I get my RSS thing going again, I'll add some of those!

Thing 21 - What Do You Mean, MORE Social Networks?

I mean, I'm loving Facebook and trying to persuade everyone I know to join, but more? That was my first thought upon reading the first lines of the 21st Thing. And I'm SO CLOSE! Okay, back to Thing 21.

So, here I am on Ning. I'm underwhelmed, to say the least. I signed up, joined the group, sent a comment and here's the badge:

View my page on 23 Things on a Stick

I read the article about Ning and I appreciate that it's an easy network to set up for smaller groups, and the software is usable and so on, but after Facebook, it just seems extraneous. I did like the snarky article linked on the 23 things site about social networking. That was good fun.
I checked out Gather as well. As it's always advertised on MPR, I thought it would be filled with interesting, educated, liberal, public radio lovers, but in my forays onto the site, I haven't found any discussions interesting enough to check out in detail. I have Flixster on my Facebook profile, and a friend tried to get me to join Good Reads, but as I'm all about the Visual Bookshelf on Facebook right now, that may have to wait for another day.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thing 20 - Facebook continued

OMG, now I'm obsessed. I'm acquiring friends, getting flair, people are writing on my wall, and getting about a million messages in my email letting me know all this and more. I spent HOURS on it last night at home, and part of the reason was I added the Visual Bookshelf application to my profile. I totally took to that in a way that I never really did with LibraryThing.

Visual Bookshelf is super duper easy and intuitive to use. All you have to do is type in your title, choose the book, select whether you are currently reading it, whether you've already read it, or whatever, give it a star rating and write a short (or long) review of it. Then the book jackets display on your profile to give people a quick look at what you're reading. I can see this as being a great way for librarians and book readers in my circle to share what they're reading in a quick and convenient way. So THAT took up a lot of my time, in a good way.

Plus, two cool things I might not have known/seen if not for Facebook: A great picture of a friend who has passed on (from another friend's page), and the fact that a childhood friend succeeded in his adoption of a little boy from Guatemala (I think it's Guatemala). So cool!

Okay, now on to the ramifications on a purely professional basis for librarians: . . . welllll . . . It's certainly been the dish at the meetings and gatherings I've attended lately, and everyone's having a bunch of fun adding friends and sending flair and zombies and whatnot, but as for professionally? Not sure yet.

I just looked to see if any local library systems have a presence on Facebook, and of course, Hennepin County Library does. However, they only have 10 posts on their wall. Discussing this with one of my most learned and wise colleagues, we have agreed that Facebook is not the best outlet for this kind of institutional presence. (Okay, I totally stole that bit from him, but I agree!). MySpace makes sense for teen departments in libraries, but Facebook doesn't seem like the best fit.

I am intrigued by Visual Bookshelf as a tool for readers advisory, though. I'm eternally searching for a way for my wise colleagues to share their reading likes and dislikes, and help keep me and other librarians more apprised of genres that we may not be as familiar with. Perhaps this will be a useful way. But again, will we continue on Facebook once 23 Things is but a fond memory in the collective unconscious of Ramsey County Library? Some will, for sure. I don't know if I'll be one of them. So far it's fun, but we'll see! My attention span is not always the longest.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thing 20 - Facebook - Will YOU be my friend?

I dutifully signed up for my Facebook account and was IMMEDIATELY freaked out by the array of potential friends at my disposal, some of who I actually already know. As Joey from Blossom might say, WHOA. (Can you believe that's still not out on DVD? Amahzing. Except not.)

So here I am, signed up for Facebook, immediately checking the privacy settings, looking up my high school graduating class (go Titans, I guess), and exploring all the various little nooks and crannies in the profiles of the people I do know on Facebook.

Okay, I'm totally just adding things about movies and books to my Facebook profile. I think maybe I should be doing something more productive, and library related, perhaps? Hmm. I'll be back.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thing 19 - Podcasting

The big beautiful world of Podcasting. I tell you what, hearing the word podcasting never fails to bring to mind another usage for the word "pod": The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Book by Jack Finney, made into films with varying success. I personally prefer the 1956 version with Kevin McCarthy. (As long as we're talking about Jack Finney, you should probably read Time and Again, a great novel about a man who travels back in time to late 19th century Manhattan. He describes the time and place so beautifully, you'll think you were actually there.)

Anyway, back to podcasting. I've downloaded the podcast of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me on my MP3 Player, and loved having it available whenever I wanted to listen to it. I work every other Sunday, so it was nice to be able to listen to it at a later date. Wait, Wait is a great show to listen to while doing laundry, yard work, dishes, or organizing things about the house.

I probably won't create my own podcast, because, frankly, I'm not sure what the heck I would do. I actually prefer to do any kind of ranting, or holding forth on topics in person, or at least on the phone, which allows me to check with my audience to ensure that I'm not losing them. And if I am? I can gradually fade out and talk about something of more general interest, such as why there's nothing good on tv, and why doesn't someone come over and clean my house for me?

I know podcasts are sort of the rage for instructional stuff on library sites, but I still maintain my square old-school status, and think a lot of this stuff is better just explained in text, rather than in a video or a podcast. With a lot of these you don't know how long they'll be, and at least you can skim text, or return to it later, rather than start a video you don't have the time (or the inclination) to finish. Also, looking through the lists of podcasts, I think my inclincation would be more towards the known quantity (i.e., quality like that of National Public Radio broadcasts, or personalities whose work you already know and enjoy), rather than investing the time in trying something new.

Thing 18 - You Tubery

Can I just say: Could I start MORE sentences with 'So,'? I'm an absolute stream-of-consciousness writer in this kind of setting, and in any kind of writing, I always need to do a lot of editing to take out all my beloved qualifiers like, 'just' and 'I guess' and 'a little'. It's a gift! But I guess I don't need to worry too much about that right now, when I'm just writing for my own edification.


Sweet! BTW, if you're interested in the videos I heart, go to my page and check them out!

We saw the filming of the video below last year when we were in Millennium Park in beautiful Chicago.