#cpd23 Thing 8 – Google Calendar runs my life. Almost

July 25, 2011

Thing 8 of #cpd23 focuses on using Google Calendar to help straighten out your life (personal, work, kids’ etc.). I use Google Calendar each morning when I wake up, when I get done walking LeRoy (the pup), it’s up at work constantly and when I go home from work. It really tells me what I need to do each and every day. Kind of sad. But also awesome.

Here are some aspects of Google Calendar that rock my socks off:

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eBooks at Muir Library

May 31, 2011

This past week has been interesting for me for a couple of reasons:

  1. A book I have wanted to read for several months appeared on my desk: No Shelf Required: E-Books in Libraries by Sue Polanka and friends.I’ve been interested in ebooks for years and a few months ago bought a NOOKcolor and love(d) it and then learned how to borrow books from Seattle Public Library and read/listen to them. It was heaven. It really was. When this book crossed my desk at work in February, I wanted to pick it up and read it. I wanted to know what other “librarians” were thinking about ebooks. We see a lot of what publishers say and what patrons say, but librarians (with the exception of the HarperCollins fiasco) have been relatively quiet and shy when asked about ebooks.

    So, I’ve been reading the book and finding that (of course)it  is an interesting, frustrating and an overall thoughtful read. And here’s why:

  2. This week, Muir Library (where I am the library director) went live with our Overdrive collection. The contract with Overdrive happened before I had the job, so I still don’t have all the specifics, but from what I understand, the library system (Traverse des Sioux) got a grant that will pay for the system to have a contract with Overdrive for the first year and then the individual libraries will have to pay annually.There were a couple of training sessions (before I was hired) for using ebooks and we have also been told we will receive ereaders to train our employees, but we are live with the program as of now. This means many staff people are going to be learning as the patrons learn and unfortunately that means that some of those younger, digital natives are going to catch on quicker than the digital immigrants who work at the library. No – I take that back – that is not unfortunate – that is an opportunity to recruit help from the younger people (like myself). I will say that I am QUITE impressed that Traverse des Sioux is up to the challenge of ebooks and that they’re jumping ahead and learning as they go. There are going to be challenges, but there will also be great rewards for the staff and patrons in this area.

In the introduction of No Shelf Required, it talks about how libraries have been interacting with ebooks for years and how it is expected that libraries have ebook content for patrons. I highly doubt this was the case when the book was written. Not only do many of the rural library patrons not know about ebooks (or, frankly, care about them), but they also don’t know how to use a computer and cannot fathom the idea of using one to read a book. I feel like there were some severe generalizations made in the book and while it covers different realms of libraries (school, public, academic, etc.), it doesn’t recognize the differences in the ways of accessible technology in different libraries.

I appreciate the way the “acquiring ebooks” chapter is written for different points of view. This is helpful when explaining the ins and outs of ebooks and purchasing to someone who hasn’t done it before. But, on the other hand, I think this can/will/already is changing quickly and because this book is static, it will soon be out of date. It’s an absolutely great start to guiding someone along the way of learning about ebooks in the library – in fact, I think I may suggest that my staff read it as we start this busy time of troubleshooting ebooks at Muir Library.

I’ll write more when I finish the book, but that’s what I have right now!

Oh – and – I sincerely think it is SILLY to have bookmarks with the directions for how to download ebooks to your ereader. DUH – people aren’t using paper bookmarks if they’re reading ebooks! *sigh*

Real Life – Library – Experience

February 28, 2011

I’ve written a couple of posts about how important it is to gather experience working with libraries and organizations while also attending school. One of the things I don’t think I’ve highlighted enough is the fact that YOU can go out and approach people with your ideas (based on your interests and strengths).

Here’s an example:

If you LOVE creating/designing/redesigning web sites, why not approach a library that needs a web site facelift?


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Not that? Tell more! Revamping Boolean Operators

February 1, 2011

One of the most important and decisive moments of a traditional reference interview is when a person says “I don’t want that.” This means two things: (1) they know what they don’t want and (2) they are engaged in the search with you. By knowing what a person doesn’t want, she is closer to knowing what she actually does want.

So, how can tools and services on the internet focus more on facilitating and instructing people in their online searches? They have to do just that. Tools and services must use interfaces people are already comfortable with and then facilitate their searches. Less emphasis should be put on the reference interview and more emphasis should be put on the opportunities a person has to find the information for herself. It’s a mind game. Read the rest of this entry »

What is Visual Literacy?

November 15, 2010

The term — visual literacy — has come up several times in a couple of my classes this quarter. So what is visual literacy? John Debes defined this term first as this in 1968:

“Visual Literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a
human being can develop by seeing and at the same time
having and integrating other sensory experiences. The development
of these competencies is fundamental to normal
human learning. When developed, they enable a visually
literate person to discriminate and interpret the visible
actions, objects, symbols, natural or man-made, that he
encounters in his environment. Through the creative use of
these competencies, he is able to communicate with others.
Through the appreciative use of these competencies, he is
able to comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual

Essentially, visual literacy is literacy of images, symbols, photos, etc. It is critical analysis of visuals instead of texts. Of course there are combinations of text and images, images and music, and on and on, but the important part of this is that a person is able to interpret and “read” it all.

As I thought about this, I was a little frustrated because I connected thinking critically about images with being artistic. How can I instruct or encourage or facilitate visual literacy in the library? What if I’m not artistic? And I am not artistic. I avoided all art classes (except photography) in my schooling. I almost wish I could go back and take some art classes to get a better grasp on the history of images and visual learning. I need to explore this more. But, I think it is possible to become visually literate without this knowledge.

It takes patience and practice, though. Just like learning to read.

In my class that explores genre fiction for adults, we read and discussed [comix, comics, graphic novels, etc]. Many of us had a difficult time reading these books simply because we didn’t understand how to read the text and the images. Do you look at the pictures first? Which text do you read? Left to right? Up and down? Follow the boxes with pictures in them? As we talked about our frustrations, someone brought up that it was almost like we had to learn how to read all over again. We had to become literate in a more visual format instead of the text we are accustomed to reading.

I’m fascinated with this term –visual literacy– and I hope to have a chance to explore it more and share conversation with other people.

The Name Game

November 8, 2010

When I began my MLIS education, I took a class that had to do with Information Behavior. The behavior people use when interacting with information or the lackthereof. It could have been a fascinating class had we all not suffered from severe information overload and an instructor lacking skills to instruct. Ask if you want more details.

On the first day, we talked about what to call those people that go into the library. Are they patrons? Are they users? Are they customers? Are they students? What are they? We did not arrive at an answer that day. Now, a year later we were introduced to a new term: civilians. Are they civilians? I still don’t know…

Patrons — this word seems old-fashioned to me. It has good intentions — as patron is defined as someone who is supporting an institution, but that term just doesn’t sound right when it comes out of my mouth.
Users — this sounds like I’m describing someone who uses drugs, but it is the word I use most often because the people who walk into the library or log into the library web site** are indeed USING it.
Customers — well, we aren’t really selling anything at a library, so the word ‘customer’ (someone who buys goods and services) is kind of off-putting.
Students — yes, everyone is a student of life. However, overuse of the term may lead to confusion — and for libraries that have homework help for students (elementary, middle or high school), it could be even more complex.
Civilians — I associate this word with someone who is not in the military. When I looked it up, I found another definition: “anyone regarded by members of a profession, interest group, society, etc., as not belonging; nonprofessional; outsider” from Dictionary.com. I would hope that libraries do not consider the people who USE them to be not belonging or outsiders. That term just seems to describe the opposite of how libraries serve their communities.

**And, what about the people who access the library without going through the doors? They use the web site and download e-books or audio books and IM chat with the librarians. What are they called? I call them users. Should they be called something else?

So, I usually say user to describe someone who is using the library. It seems most appropriate, and if people give me an uncomfortable look (as in — the did you call someone a “user”?! look), I restate it by saying “library-user” to make my point clear. Because I do believe that anyone who enters the library (physically or virtually) is USING it. Some people spend more time actively searching and gathering the information they need. Others are more passive and pick up a book being held for them. It doesn’t matter — the libraries are being used by their communities. 

One more question to think about. I’ll write about this in another post soon. What do we call people who don’t come to the (physical or virtual) library? 

Other terms people mentioned when I asked on Twitter:
community member

What is a Stand-alone Library?

October 12, 2010


I don’t know. I would really like some guidance (resources, opinions, experiences, etc) about this question.

Here’s what I know:

  • Many public libraries are branches of a larger library system
  • Many public libraries receive funding from the state/county/city 
  • Many public libraries are parts of larger systems that work together to create tools for using databases, designing the catalog and providing inter-library loan services. 

But here’s what I don’t know:

  • What is a stand-alone library?

Help! (please)

I asked myself this question multiple times during the summer, but now, as I sit down to work with a group on an assignment for LIS 522: Collection Development, I find myself still uninformed or misinformed about what a stand-alone library truly is. And now, here we are – my group is attempting to define it.

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