naked reference

This is a two part post.

The first part is an interesting reference idea called Reference in the Raw an experiment where reference staff bring nothing to the desk, no other work, no projects, nothing. Yes, they are clothed. The idea is to be approachable and available and patron oriented. I didn’t see a follow-up post, I’d be interested to know how the experiment worked.

The second part of this post was spurred by my looking at my Google Sitemaps statistics and realizing that the Naked Librarians page over at is the third hit on Google for the words naked photos (seventh if you put the words in quotes). So, with great power comes great responsibility, I guess. I decided to update the page, purge the old links using the W3C link checker and maybe go trolling around for some new…. data. If anyone has some images they would like to send my way, or preferably links to other sites, I’d appreciate it. As always, naked pictures of yourself are unwelcome in most cases, unless you are standing in front of a bookshelf.

Ask Metafilter in the news

Just a few cool media mentions of Ask MetaFilter this week, neither of which were written by me or people I know.

1. NPR in their Five for Friday column says “Mom always said two heads were better than one. What would she say about thousands of heads, all with varying tidbits of knowledge — and all willing to help answer anything or everything on your mind?” I think I might like to be friends with Melody Joy Kramer.
2. The Chicago Tribune gives AskMe a nod while reporting on the demise of Google answers saying ” While Yahoo Answers is more about facts, Ask MetaFilter, in its best moments, is about feelings, opinions, theories of life. A recent, not atypical question: ‘Did you marry someone despite misgivings and have it actually work?'”

Google Co-op @ your library

There have been a few Custom Search Engines made lately using Google Co-op. Let’s look at a few of them. I did searches for librarians, im, and jessamyn.

LISZEN — library blog search engine. Sexy wiki title list. Works like Google, looks like Google, keeps my settings from Google so I see results in sets of 50, nice! Actually, something weird is happening. If I search for a word like librarians, I only get the top 10 results, Google’s standard results. If I add a refinement by clicking on a link, then I get results 1-50 which includes my custom number of search results. However, there is something weird about the set-up, I can’t see any results after the top ten or so, the rest disappear into what I assume is an I-FRAME and I can’t get to the next page of results or see the nav at the bottom that would take me to the other results. Big trouble. Results seem to be sorted by currency instead of relevance. Results are also returned under the attractive, but large header which means you’re going to do a bit of scrolling. The results refinement is a little clunky. Limiting to “special libraries” just adds the string “more:special_libraries” to the query string, and I also got weird results limiting to academic libraries. The refinements are all just set up like radio buttons so you can only use one of the refinements and the interface is a little counterintuitive. I like the set of blogs represented.

Librarian’s E-Library from ALA, or “Vetted resources on Libraries and Librarianship from the American Library Association (ALA) Library” — I think every time we call something an e-something it’s subtly implying that the normal version of that thing is not electronic. So when we say ebook we are saying if it’s electronic, it’s not a normal book. I think this is wrong thinking perhaps. Their interface is nowhere near as sexy as LISZEN’s but it does seem like they are trying to add some neat widgets like a list of some representative sites and other contributors. The results list is clean, looks just like Google’s with a little touch of red to remind you that you’re searching ALA’s version. Results seem to be sorted by relevance. I didn’t see any blogs represented except for official type blogs, so the results here complement LISZEN’s fairly well.

A few others I saw in the line-up include the ARL Libraries Search, Phil Bradley’s Librarian Weblogs and the Library 2.0 Feed Search

The really great thing about WPopac

I’ve been a bit scarce lately. The days are shorter and I’m doing a little less “rah rah library” work and a little more staying warm and insulating the house. I’ve got a few little posts to make, but the main one is this. The thing about Casey’s grant that is so amazing is this.

The revolutionary part of the announcement, however, was that Plymouth State University would use the $50,000 to purchase Library of Congress catalog records and redistribute them free under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license or GNU. OCLC has been the source for catalog records for libraries, and its license restrictions do not permit reuse or distribution. However, catalog records have been shared via Z39.50 for several years without incident.

“Libraries’ online presence is broken. We are more than study halls in the digital age. For too long, libraries have have been coming up with unique solutions for common problems,” Bisson said. “Users are looking for an online presence that serves them in the way they expect.” He said “The intention is to bring together the free or nearly-free services available to the user.

Bisson said Plymouth State University is committed to supporting it, and will be offering it as a free download from its site, likely in the form of sample records plus WordPress with WP-OPAC included. “With nearly 140,000 registered users of Amazon Web Services, it’s time to use common solutions for our unique problems,” Bisson said.

Read it twice if you’re not sure you got it. Think how having that sort of data available to you (or your library, or your open source OPAC) could really, seriously change things.

My friend Casey: rockstar librarian

Big big congrats to Casey Bisson. He has received the prestigious Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration for his WPopac project. Casey is down in DC now getting feted and adulated. Nice work Casey! From the press release:

“For years we’ve been talking about the digital divide in terms of access, and we’ve been working hard to put computers and networks into every school and library,” Bisson said. “But those same libraries, and their communities, are invisible to people online. If libraries are to be more than study halls in the Internet age, if they are to continue their role as centers of knowledge in every community, they need to be findable and available online. They need the tools to represent their collections, their services, and the unique history of their communities online. That’s what WPopac does.”