LoC goes 2.0!

The Library of Congress is on Flickr! I am charmed by their profile. “Yes. We really are THE Library of Congress.” Update: please read this longer very well thought out essay about the project that does a lot more than just my “woo!” announcement.

a 2.0 story that doesn’t really involve libraries but does involve saving $12 and a car trip

One of the things I tell people in my 2.0 talks is that the digital divide is becoming about much more than people who have computers/email/web sites and people who don’t. The difference, to me, is people who have folded the web into their day to day lives and those who haven’t. This matters for a few reasons. As I have said before, I think it’s anyone’s personal choice whether they want to use a computer recreationally or not. However as more and more of our government’s services are available either primarily or most easily online, being able to at least navigate the online world becomes important, if not mission critical.

I’ve often thought that I should do a program on “The life of a 2.0-pian” (pretty sure I’ve seen that before) where I outline the many ways in which being able to use the web as another resource makes my life simpler, easier and saves me money. Here is the example that came to mind this week. As some background, when I worked at a public library of medium size, when we needed supplies we had two main choices, possibly three. 1) buy the supply from the Big Catalog 2) send the systems librarian out to Staples to buy the item 3) get the supply ourselves on the way to work (on our own time) and get reimbursed. While I am not one of those “My tax dollars at work!” people, I have to note that this process was rarely cost- or time-efficient for anyone involved except, sometimes, the accountant.

In any case, I was printing out holiday cards this week — I have a group of online friends who swap cards every year, I do not normally do a holiday card thing — and ran out of printer ink. As you know, printer ink is one of those notoriously overpriced items and if it’s something you buy often it’s best to have an angle. The ink I need at Staples is $20. At my local office supply store it is $27. My angle is a price comparison site called dealink.com which lets me search competing ink prices. They told me I could get it for $18.50 shipped, HP brand ink, no knock-offs. That was pretty good. Then I headed over to my favorite coupon site, RetailMeNot to see if they had any online coupons for DataBazaar which had the lowest ink prices. They did. I hope you are noticing that I can link to all these things. I can’t link to the ink page at Staples.com. So, I got an extra $5 off if I bought three (I needed a few anyhow) making my total $48.85, delivered to my door, for three ink cartridges for my photo printer.

So, the reason this matters and why I’m putting this on a libraran-oriented blog is that first, we tend to not buy things this way where I am, in libraries or elsewhere. Getting to Staples from my house takes at least 90 minutes round trip and $5 worth of gasoline and yet we still sometimes act like buying things online is somehow risky or uncharted territory. What’s risky for me is getting on the highway this time of year, to say nothing about the time I’d have to take off from work when there’s work do be done. Second, this is the type of efficency that 2.0 stuff gets us. A computer can compare prices. A computer can stockpile and share coupons. A computer can show me a photo of an item so I can see if it’s the one I want. Letting the computer do these parts of the shopping-for-supplies experience that is one of the less fun parts of librarianship leaves our bodies and big old brains free for doing what a computer can’t do like helping someone navigate their first email account, or doing a storytime puppet show, or having a book group discussion or forgiving someone’s library fines because it’s the holidays or making a book display about the Solstice.

Working on the web isn’t just about collecting real and/or imaginary friends and new interactive ways of sharing photos of your cat, it’s also about saving real time and real money so that you can do real things in your offline world. That’s my twopointopia report, over and out.

New (YPL) favorite blog

Not super fleshed out, but how cool is it that one of our venerable library institutions has a blog outlining some of the new things they’re trying and evaluating what they’ve already been doing? Please subscribe, right now please, to labs.nypl.org. [thanks pk!]

four talks in six days in two countries

If the title sounds familiar, it’s because it is. I’ve been trying to combine more of my public speaking trips which means more weird weeks like this one and that one, but it works out a lot better on my end. After I got back to Massachusetts from Access, I drove over to NELA and gave three talks there. I really enjoy NELA but there were some complications this time around mostly involving iffy wireless (and hotel staff who were just repeating what their outsourced IT told them which the IT-librarians knew was a little fishy-sounding, but I digress) which means I wasn’t doing much blogging and had a period of radio silence here and on Flickr and on Scrabulous, etc.

I got home today and I’ve uploaded the latest talks. One was all new, one was a modified version of an earlier talk and one was a talk I gave earlier, but with twice as much time. All of them went really well but I have a sore throat and will be heading to bed as soon as they’re linked here so that I can be bright and bushytailed for work which starts tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who made my trip easier, more pleasant, and fun.

Access 2007 – quick report from the floor

My talk went well. It was scary (keynote!), early (8:30!), and multimedia (slides, video, me doing the blah blah part). I have this problem basically not being able to remember a thing I said after I get off the microphone BUT this time I wrote the talk out first, and this time I think it was even recorded. I’ll keep you posted on that. Here are my slides, notes and some more links. Thanks to everyone who paid close attention, blogged about it, and/or laughed at my jokes, and thanks to the conference planners for inviting me and encouraging me to make the trip.

five talks in five days in two countries

So. I just got back from a weeklong trip that took me to Somerville, Nova Scotia and environs, and the Manchester/Hooksett New Hampshire area. You can see some photos. This is what I did there.

  • I went to a brown bag lunch with the Dalhousie students which I mentioned a few days ago. It was really a good time. It was the first brown bag lunch session of the year and there was a big group of first and second year students there, as well as a few faculty members. People had done their homework and had really interesting questions to ask me from many different facets of what I do. We had a nice talk.
  • I helped Ryan Deschamps kick off the Learning 2.0 program he is doing at Halifax Public Libraries. I gave a talk on Learning 2.0 called Smart Tiny Tech and hung around for some of the other activities. The Learning 2.0 program is such a fun and non-threatening way to get people really digging under the hood learning some technology topics, I love seeing it being rolled out.
  • I gave a talk at NSLA about Library 2.0 topics, a little more “big picture” and a little less specific. I like doing this talk because I can always take the general outline and add local 2.0 examples so it doesn’t look like all 2.0 development is at Ann Arbor District Library and a few other techie-seeming places. My favorite new find was the Natural Resources Library of Canada (Ottowa) and their del.icio.us links.
  • Sunday I came home to the states, but not quite back to Vermont. Today I went to the NHLA Everything You Always Wanted to Know About 2.0 workshop where I presented with Andrea and Lichen. I gave a talk about Flickr and del.icio.us and one about Open Source Software which was a modification of Eric Goldhagen’s open source talk that I linked to here (direct link to his ppt). Then we stuck around for the gadget session and the geek session where we actually got a significant amount of hands-on time with the things we had been talking about. This was a really great and often-overlooked thing to be able to do.

Now I’m home and I’m uploading pictures and digging through backed up email and getting ready to start my work week tomorrow after some serious time off. Thanks to everyone who made the trip not just possible but enjoyable. update: Lichen has links to her talks and notes from the day up as well.

“web services” doesn’t mean just getting a better website

Karen Coombs explains why web services isn’t just about a better website and also explains what some of the sacred cows are that keep library websites from being better.

[M]eeting your users where they are isn’t about making them come to the library website. In considering our long term virtual presence plans, the library website is a given. People who come to the site know we exist and want to use our services. To truly be successful we have to get our content into the path of the people who wouldn’t walk through our door (physical or virtual).

I like Karen’s talks about her work website specifically because she’s part of a larger team that all needs to work together to roll out new services to their faculty, student and staff population. I feel lucky because I often have carte blanche in the tiny sites for tiny libraries that I design. I also have very little reach with those sites. That’s okay for what I’m trying to do, but if I had to bring together multiple different stakeholders and make them happy with a website — including those designing, for example, for 800 x 600 resolution screens — I’m sure I’d find it very challenging indeed.

I’m en route to Nova Scotia today, speaking at NSLA and at a Learning 2.0 program with Ryan Deschamps, but when I get back I hope to show off my own collaborative project, turning the Vermont Library Association site into a bloggish group-maintained site from a static single-admin site. It’s gotten so that I have enough WordPress admin login pages to keep track of that I’ve shunted them into their own folder on my bookmarks toolbar. Exciting times!

2.0 keeping us connected

Kathryn Greenhill has a great sensible post on why learning emerging techologies is part of every librarian’s job. Kathryn worked with other Australian librarians on Library2.0 on the loose, an unofficial unconference for Western Australian library folks (and a few from other places). Kathryn is one of the many international librarians that I feel comfortable calling a colleague because even though we’ve only met in person once, I see her “around” many of the online places that I frequent and keep up with her via blog, twitter, flickr etc. I know this is sort of old news online, but I found it again via Manage This which is quickly becoming one of my favorite library blogs.

yes, I speak 2.0…

Ryan Deschamps has an interesting and thoughful post about his impressions of people’s tendency to shift “from a rational criticism of the so-called Library 2.0 movement/manifesto follow[ed by] an irrational trashing of anything having to do with Web 2.0 services and user-centered library services” The dilemma, simply stated, is when you see someone who has a critique of something you care about and are knowledgeable about — could be Library 2.0, could be tech support, could be apple pies — how do you inform or correct their misunderstandings without seeming like a prostyletizer or part of the Apple Pie Bandwagon? Or should you? Anyhow, the original posts that spawned Ryan’s post was over at the Annoyed Librarian. I left a comment.

NH – 2.0 talk in September

I was trying to figure out a fix for my sidebar calendar and was testing it out with one of my upcoming events which, thanks to my general cluelessness wound up posted to the front page, not queued for later. So I’ve fixed some of the erroneous info and am reposting it official-like. If you are interested in this at all, contact Andrea Thorpe at the Richards Free Library and check out their nifty blog while you are stopping by.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Lib 2.0
in Hookset, New Hampshire

9:00 – 9:30 Registration & Coffee
9:30 What is WEB 2.0 and why it’s important/appropriate in libraries – Lichen Rancourt
10:00 Flickr & del.icio.us – Jessamyn West
10:30
11:00 Library 2.0 catalog solutions – Lichen Rancourt
11:30 Open source replacements for stuff you already use – Jessamyn West
12:00 Box Lunch
1:00 Technology planning. How to choose and implement what you have seen today within the limits of staff time, library budgets and patron needs – Andrea Mercado
2:00- 3:00 GEEK Sessions – Our three presenters (joined by Bobbi
Slossar) will break into small groups to answer your specific questions
about social software issues.
3:00 – 3:30 GEEK Session discoveries and wrap up – Mary Ann List