Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thing 36 - Generators

Although I'm not sure how useful it is, I have had fun with the background generators. I made my own tartan--sort of neon blue and green. My aide, Norma, didn't seem too impressed--"They changed something else on the computer now!!" I have now used the make your own background site to change it to purple swirls--hope Norma can handle that one. I can't think of how I'd use the generators in the library--perhaps if I had to do some sort of hand-out for a program, I could add a cartoon or a wordle. I guess I could generate some graph paper if a student wanted to do some math and they forgot their graph paper--of course this has never happened in my library. I liked the comic generator--I did think several of the cartoons were funny but I don't have confidence that I can come up with something funny. I would use the cartoons to e-mail something funny to my fellow librarians or put something on facebook. I really liked the wordle site--seems to poetize ordinary writing. I can't recommend any other generators, but I enjoyed the ones I worked with at these sites.


Here's a wordle of a recommendation letter for Carolyn Avaire to got to library school:

Wordle: Carolyn

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thing 35 - Books 2.0

Although there is some talk about the demise of reading and books, I see a few more fat years for popular writers and publishers. In my library, as is probably true elsewhere, the older generation are big readers. Once the baby boomers start to retire, they'll want to spend some of their leisure time in the relaxing pursuit of reading. I see parents who want the best for their children and so they encourage reading. Even though they love their computer games, there are still kids who come to the library to check out books. Library circulation keeps going up gradually. And one way to get rich is to write a popular book--just read about John Sandford in the Star Tribune.
The book tools can only enhance reading. If you are obsessed with your library, Library Thing is a good way to organize your materials. I have too many books and not enough time to pursue that site. I do like the "Daily Lit" site and have signed up to get a James Joyce book on a daily installment. Some other favorites include "What should I read next?" and "What's next?" These sites offer answers to questions I am asked on a daily basis. I will definitely turn to them if I am stumped in what to offer a patron. I also enjoyed some of the children's book sites. It was cool to read stories from 1890 in the International Digital Children's Library. I also read a great book about a pig on Sillybooks. I will recommend these sites to parents who are looking for educational computer sites. I also liked the Book Browse--seems like it had some good reliable reviews. Reading Group Guides is a site that I have used a lot and will continue to use both at work for reading groups and in my personal book club.
The only other site that I can recommend is "". It's been around a long time and it has full text of classic works from Shakespeare, the Bible, etc. There are also quotes and a dictionary. I've used this site if someone is looking for a classic work of literature and they only want to look something up, not read the whole book.
Computers nowdays are big competition for books, but books still offer a richer, more complex world than can be portrayed with mere images. Books still offer more depth and they are more portable. I feel a little fried after using a computer all day, but reading a book feels wonderful--a great luxury.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Thing 34 - Answer Sites

I looked at a few on-line answer sites, including "Askmetafiler, Chacha, Allexperts, Askville and Answerbag to see what the appeal was. The main appeal seems to be to make some sort of connection with other people. Some questions such as "How is the economy affecting you?" illustrate that the answers are not always something that can be found in a library. I found many different types of questions including: "Was Bush behind 911?" "Where is a good meeting place for people who want to play board games?" "How much does a Burger King chef make a year?" "Why doesn't the microphone on my laptop work?" Though some of these can be answered by a librarian--a library meeting room was suggested as a place to play board games--not all of them have to be. I think people use these sites because of their convenience. People nowdays are very busy and they are usually connected to a computer. They probably can get their answer faster. Some sites ask you to register with them. Perhaps if someone is signed up for an answer site, that is where they go first. Naturally looking up a library number and then having to wait for an answer takes more time and energy and doesn't get the fast return iof these other sites. Although "Slam the Boards" might be a fun challenge for a reference librarian, I think a more effective way to compete would be to have a library sponsored answer site. This site could be syndicated so other libraries could put a link on their web site. I'm sure many libraries banded together could afford to have a 24/7 reference staff. Some of the questions I saw were best answered by a librarian so giving people an official library answer site would probably garner the best answer. I did not answer any questions, but then I don't consider myself a reference librarian. I also do not normally go to chat rooms or interact with people I don't know on the Internet.