I’m at Computers in Libraries and it’s a whirlwind of good folks, good information and some terrible rooms (and a few good ones). Wireless is working decently, so I’ll be around on Twitter and the chatmachine. Say hi if you see me. My talks, the one I gave today and the one I’m giving tomorrow, are available at this URL.
One of my favorite things about writing for Computers in Libraries is that I now get a subscription to the magazine. All the blogs and RSS feeds and tweets in the world are really no match for being able to read “how to” stories from people working in totally different libraries than me. I feel like I pretty much get the issues involved with running rural, pre-OPAC, barely-online libraries and I hope I do a decent job showcasing them here to at least give people an idea of what’s involved and what’s at stake. However, I have never worked in a library with a self checkout system or a DVD service machine, or even a digital audiobook collection (though we’re working on one!). It’s a bit of a shame that most of CiL’s articles are locked behind a subscriber wall, but here’s a decent article about a library that is almost local to me and their experiences with their first self-checkout system.
My contract with CiL allows me to self-publish after ninety days which is what I intend to do if I remember. My first column/department about web stats came out in January and my most recent one about open source software will be out next month. In the meantime here is a tip I wish I’d known sooner… I recently set up one of my libraries with a tiny website for free. Dreamhost.com offers free webspace to qualifying nonprofits. This is real webspace with one-click installs for things like Mediawiki and WordPress. If you have a 501c3 exemption letter and a little bit of patience, take a look at their wiki to get the rest of the details. A little more information is available on the Drupal site. I know people have had good and bad experiences with Dreamhost, but sometimes selling people on trying something new — and for my library a website was definitely something new — is all about removing as many barriers as possible and letting them see the utility in it themselves. If you’ve been waffling about webspace, or webspace costs, try it out. I have no affiliation to Dreamhost, for what it’s worth.
If you’re at ALA you may have already seen this issue of Computers in Libraries. If not, you may be interested to know that I’m going to be co-editing (well alternating writing) the Tech Tips Column with Rachel Singer Gordon.
It’s hard for wordy old me to give advice in 1300 words but I do my best and even include a screenshot or two. I have the right to post my columns ninety days after they’re published in print so they’ll show up here eventually as well. The January issue has my advice on how to examine your web logs to figure out how, when and where users are accessing your website. The column I put to bed just today (I guess technically it’s a department, Dan Chudnov, now he has a column) due out in March is about Open Source software. I’m a little sad to see my favorite editor, Kathy Dempsey, move on to bigger and better things and I’m a little nervous about getting edited again, but so far it’s been great and just another way to get the word out.