Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stick-y thing 6: Online Image Generators

To your left, check out a trading card I created at Big Huge Labs ( Now, this, I can see the potential of. Or is that: Of this, I can see potential? In any case, this website rocks with tons of fun ways to manipulate your digital images. Now, I'm sad to say it's a well-known secret that librarians are horrible horrible horrible at marketing. It's just not a skill-set that comes with the job. Librarians are great at doing. They are not so great at telling people what it is, exactly, that they do. Case in point: years ago I worked on a family literacy project collaboration between my library school and a local branch. Oh, we were amazing. We had Head Start involved, ECFE, crafts, themes, in-depth analysis of the targeted demographic--the pedagological stars were all aligned. I was dazzled by our program. Session arrives and we're all beyond excited. And what happened? No one came. That's right, friends. We had forgotten, for the most part, to tell anyone about it. Oh, there were other issues there--a last minute change of venue and such, but in all our excitement we had left out marketing. And this is how I learned that all library schools should include a "Marketing Your Library Services" among its core curriculum. My point, in retelling this sad little tale, is that Big Huge Labs makes marketing SO easy for graphic design-challenged librarians, of which there are many. There are no longer any excuses. I created this trading card in 5 minutes. Imagine one for each of your staff (like Carleton College, bless their hearts). Imagine one for each of your work-study. Oh! You could do trading cards for staff picks of books. At the site you can also make movie posters (I'm definitely going to fool around with that), mosiacs, magazine covers. Tons of fun stuff. And, unlike Flickr, which I saw as only useful for certain types of libraries, I see image generating tools as being useful for all libraries, regardless of type. They make it easy. It's really fun! Go on, try it. I double-dog dare you.


Another thing librarians are horrible at, apparently, is creating really catchy titles for their blog posts.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Very cool possibilities with Flickr. What immediately strikes me is its potential as a storage space for images--we recently bought a secondary hard drive for this purpose, but in the case of a fire we'd still need to rescue THAT. Using Flickr, the images really are "safe". And we can upload in batches, which would make the process pretty fast. As for the sharing--I think we're going to see a theme here--I think that's cool for people that are computerheads, i.e., people who are online ALL THE TIME. Me, I have two little kids and where I'm at in my life, I'm not going to spend hours--or even minutes, truthfully--randomly surfing Flickr images. On the other hand, if I did need to find an image of penguins or something, I think I would go to Flickr.

I'm not entirely sure how a library would use Flickr. The Clemens & Alcuin Libraries' example--that's cool and all, but do they get a lot of circulation that way? It's seems like a long and winding road to the library and its materials to me.

I feel like I'm coming across as a naysayer, and that's not my intent. I guess I do just fear that--as was discussed in the initial Library 2.0 subject--that we sacrifice something real and good for the mere idea of the usefulness of technology. I may accept a business case for the use of Flickr in a high school or academic library (because of the user demographic) but no way for a public library. I just don't think the average public library user is at that level. No offense to the average public library user--but when I think of one of my favorite branches, the Rondo Community Outreach library of St. Paul, I feel fairly sure that their service to the local Somali and Hmong populations needs to be a little more direct than posting images of their collection on a Web 2.0 tool like Flickr.


Off topic, and on the subject of RSS feeds, I suddenly recalled the other day that a couple of years ago I was using a service that was clearly a precursor to RSS--the service I used, I'm sure there were others, but the service I used was Furl. You marked your websites and then the URLs were stored at the Furl site. It was like storing your bookmarks at that location, so that no matter what computer you were on you had access to all your favorite sites. It was cool, and convenient. It was lacking the update feature--just held the static URL--but I can see that it was a similar concept. I think I need to go back to Google Reader and fool around with that some more. Maybe it was just the interface that was turning me off.

Monday, March 17, 2008

RSS feeds serve lazy bloggers like me

Of course, now that I'm offically on the blogger side of things, I can see the usefulness of a RSS feed--it would alert my legions of devoted readers to my sporadic posts.

Coming up: more Things On A Stick.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

RSS feeds

Is there something I'm not getting?

I've set up RSS feeds for some of my often visited sites, and, yeah, I get that now I can go to Google Reader and see if there's new postings from there but it never seemed that difficult or time consuming to check out my favorite sites using the favorites function. Plus, blog content as displayed at Google Reader seems stripped of context. Sure, the entries now "come to me" but considering the whole concept of ambient findability, isn't everything, everywhere, immediately accessible anyway? I.e., I'm already plugged into the hive brain by virtue of being online. And I still have to go to the Google Reader site.

Admittedly, I'm not a hardcore user. There's only a handful of sites to which I'm truly devoted. And I suppose I could see how this could be very useful to someone whose job requires them to be monitoring a large number of sites. So that English teacher who gives her students the assignment of starting a blog and then needs to be checking all of them--for her, a good thing indeed.

For me, a little baffling. But I will keep fooling around with it and update here if my initial impression changes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Reflections on Library 2.0

First off, I'm a big fan of Stephen Abram. I've seen him speak a few times and even had a coffee klatch with him after he spoke at my workplace (this is the equivalent of librarian name-dropping). He's an exciting, excited guy. So I love his schtick on Library 2.0 and his enthusiasm for Millenials. His message is that librarians need to be engaged in life and excited about life, which should then naturally translate into being jazzed about these new Web 2.0 technologies. And he has also straight out said that foot-dragging librarians should do the rest of us a favor and get the heck out of the profession. He doesn't mince words, this guy, and I admire that. And there's John Blyberg who claims it's out-and-out revolutionary. Unlike Blyberg, I hesitate to refer to the concept of Library 2.0 as "a movement". That just seems grandiose to me.

Then you have the backlash against Library 2.0. A contingent that grumbles that this is just fancy-pants wordsmithing of what we've always done. That just throwing tech at a library doesn't make it better. And who has the time for this anyway?

I'm choosing to take what I think is the pragmatic view. I don't think the Library 2.0 vision is revolutionary. It's simply evolutionary. It's the logical next step. It IS exciting, but I don't think all librarians should automatically be forced to wear those cool space suits from the movie Tron just yet. (Does anyone else remember that movie?) Clearly (and to his credit, Blyberg addresses this) if your library serves, say, a largely rural population that does not use or have access to computers then it is nonsensical to dump a lot of time and resources into a Library 2.0 initiative. You need be able to afford to put gas into the bookmobile, after all. Common sense, people. But, increasingly, people are using these technologies and it behooves us, as a profession, to be early adopters. It is just a fact of life that we need to learn the stuff. Lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thanks, 23 Things On A Stick

Thanks to the 23 Things On a Stick initiative, a statewide program brought to you by Minnesota’s seven multicounty multitype library systems. The first "thing on a stick" is to create a blog, so here we are. 22 to go.