Happy Birthday librarian.net

I swear I am not any sort of counterculture stoner type, but I did start this website on 4/20/99, so happy seventh birthday librarian.net! This site has gone through three content management systems [roll your own, Movable Type and WordPress] and two ISP hosts [eskimo.com and ibiblio] and two registrars [Network Solutions and Gandi]. Three of the six links from my first day’s posts are broken, and one doesn’t go where it used to go. In fact, the word “librarian” combined with any of the TLDs in this country (com, biz, gov, mil, org, info, edu, net, coop, museum, name) doesn’t go anywhere, except at this site. So, if I can indulge in a little shameless self-promotion, because I’m sort of pleased with myself, here are a few milestones.

And then a weird thing happens… all my entries from September 2003 on are all in WordPress. I imported the Movable Type entries when I moved, and so there is an odd sameness to the rest of my posts, even though things have clearly happeend and I have remained your trusty correspondent through thick and thin. It’s not the same thing, browsing a month’s worth of entries from three years ago when they don’t look any different from today’s entries.

One of the reasons I was so resistant to getting a CMS for this site, and my personal site is because I’m not a coder, so the features of the software would be the features of me, of my website, until I changed CMSes again. Open source apps like WordPress mean that people can design freebie plugins and modifications that change it up somewhat, but for most people, the things a blog can do exist because someone else thought that would be a good idea. I’ve always been the person that walks into the department store looking for a specific item and will be just as likely to walk right out if they don’t have it, not get the best example of Item X that is in stock. In the same way, we can talk all we want about the features and failings of our OPACs, but how many of the things that we want them to do do they actually DO? My short list was always 1) I want to turn the book cover option off 2) I want fifty results per page 3) I want to limit my search to DVDs that are on the shelf in less than five minutes and 4) I want the OPAC to know about ILL, to know my email address and to know how to change my preferred communications system with the library.

But librarianship, more than many other professions, is about big dreams and unfulfilled desires, and navigating the aisles between the shiny and the dull. Here’s to another seven years, and more.

IM me. IM me?

I tried to go swimming at the pool this weekend and went through a long comedy of errors trying to figure out when the pool and/or the school that I swim at was open on Easter Sunday. The Vermont Technical College’s library, which I love incidentally, has a script running on their home page telling you when the library is open that day. This is great except when it’s innacurate. The library didn’t open at 3 on Easter. I don’t think it opened at all. The phone message at the pool said that they would open at 1, but they were closed (even though the schedule on the door said they would be open) and the phone message read the hours but then said “except for official holidays” which it suggested you call the registrar’s office for. I wound up swimming later in the day, this wasn’t such a big deal. I did get an email back from the pool coordinator (good!) which told me that the schedule on the door was correct. I had seen the schedule, and related to her that it wasn’t correct (bad!). I thought, as I often do in these situations, that this is how some people view their libraries.

However, this is a post about IM. One of the channels I tried to figure out what was up with the pool was to IM my friend Stan who goes to school at VTC to see if he knew. Through a mysterious set of circumstances, I had two Stans on my IM list (probably some aggressive renaming on my part) and I had an interesting IM conversation with a person who wasn’t Stan but who was clearly an IM reference whiz. Even though she lived hours away she gave me the best information of any of the sources I tried. Turns out she’s a librarian I knew but didn’t recognize the IM. Once I Googled her IM handle and read her blog it also turns out that we had been listening to the same Buzzcocks song earlier in the day.

This is all just a lead up to tell you to go look at Michael Stephen’s IM Reference post where he answers some questions posted by another librarian and shares some stats and links to more stats. My library, which I am crazy about, just started being available via IM and I’ll be interested to know how this works out for them.

standards compliant library websites

When we’re not doing the coding ourselves, sometimes it’s hard to make sure that a website or technology project goes the way we want it to. Learning to communicate expectations before the project really gets going is much better for everyone than trying to retrofit your desires post-launch. The web4lib list, which has been interesting reading in all sorts of ways the last few weeks, has a short discussion about why web standards are important. Thomas Downling explains the ethical obligations and why standards compliance is not as hard as most people say and Karen Schneider follows up with a warning about holding your ground about standards when talking to vendors. Carrie Bickner Zeldman wrote an article about standards for Library Journal in 2002 but the information is just as important, and I’d argue easier to implement, today.

Higher Ed Blog-Con

What a nice looking site this is! Now that the week of Library & Information Resources is winding down, go look at the great list of articles, screencasts and presentations that have been assembled. They include some good thought proviking pieces as well as some very practical tutorials. There is a set of screencast howtos from Jason Grifffey about how to make a Digital New Book display and instructions on how to put a Google map on your library website from Chris Deweese. One really picky problem I noticed: I found one presentation (John Blyberg’s) through a del.icio.us link page. When I got to his presentation, I couldn’t figure out who wrote it! (now fixed!)