done messing with themes

Okay, the website is fixed and set to go with the new style. I’ve done a few things here so if you regularly read via RSS, you might want to take a peek at it. Here are the improvements:

  • New stylesheet. Easy to read, photo of me, slighty different layout.
  • Style switcher now works in all styles so if you don’t like this one, pick another one (in the lower right) and you’ll always be able to get back.
  • I pulled in some RSS feeds so you can see the last five books I’ve read [this will encourage me to read more speedily] and the last five questions from Ask MetaFilter [often compelling]. I did this using feed2js. Big thanks to Meredith’s husband Adam for suggesting it.

Everything else should be the same. Please contact me if you see something broken.

some more open source ubuntu help for libraries

School Library Journal this month has a test drive of Edubuntu — the Ubuntu distribution that was created for use in classrooms.

When I installed Edubuntu on three different generations of laptops, each with different wireless cards, I was astounded at how easy it was. In every case, the first thing Edubuntu did was sniff the wireless card, install it, and hop right onto the Net. Plus, every display was configured and sized just right, every touch pad and sound card functioned, hardware just worked.

Jim Mann is the Technology Coordinator at the Greene County Public Library in Xenia Ohio. I met him when I was in Ohio last spring. He has created a series of very professional videos on YouTube on how to use Eudbuntu in libraries to maximize the hardware you have especially with old and outdated computers. These videos are very easy to understand and super clear.

We’re going to show you how to turn a pile of junk into useful inexpensive literally free computers that you can use in your library or that you can use with a public service group or with a school.

why your OPAC won’t be on Facebook, for now

Steve Lawson has some details about why library apps for Facebook aren’t being approved along with all the other applications that are being created to use Facebook’s API. It’s got nothing to do with the libraryness of them, just that Facebook doesn’t allow applications to do web searches, for whatever reason.

Actually the reason to me is fairly obvious. Facebook would like to keep you on Facebook. They would like to take your loyalty for other sites like Flickr and YouTube and shift it to Facebook so they can serve you Facebook ads while you look at the online content you were looking at anyway. The fact that when you are searching an online library catalog you are not technically searching the web may be a detail that might act in libraries’ favor this time, but it’s still an overall Bad Thing for the profession, in my opinion (though I acknowlege that this is a debatable point). I hope this Facebook thing can be resolved decently. I can see a few ways that it might be — returning search results to the FB interface, FB loosening up over OPACs for two easy ones. I don’t do much on Facebook except look up friends’ phone numbers and change my stauts every so often, but it’s got a killer grip on today’s students and young people (and oldsters like myself) and it would be nice if we could find a way to leverage that to help do our jobs better.

update: be sure to read the comments for Ken Varnum’s story of working successfully with Facebook to get the UMich catalog app on there.

are librarians innovators? do libraries innovate?

I read the web4lib mailing list in RSS format. It’s fascinating because not only is there a lot of good advice, and a lot of familiar faces, but I also learn a lot in terms of what people do and do not know about technology which helps me do my job. There are also some more thought-provoking longer threads sometimes about things like the 2.0 bandwagon, whether Twitter/Facebook type applications are a flash in the pan, or the recent thread about whether libraries innovate.

It all started, I think, with a lita-l mailing list topic that I didn’t see concerning the “ultimate debate” happening at ALA. The event was blogged on the LITA blog and debated a lot on web4lib though the thread is sort of all over the place. And then the topic was picked up by other blogs, which someone on web4lib graciously added to the mailing list as a list of links.

I wonder about the topic myself. The libraries I work with around here are very innovative, but mostly in stretching a super-small [usually five-figure] budget and rarely in technological ways. However, when you’re the only free internet in town, taking a step like offering free wifi when the library is closed, or having a way that people can use your computers to download ebooks checked out from other libraries in other states seems pretty innovative indeed.