Plain Kate
Touch Blue
Three Quarters Dead
Brown Rabbit in the City
Girl Parts
One Crazy Summer
Clementine, Friend of the Week
The Birthday Ball
Scarlett Fever
The Monstrumologist
The Irresistible Henry House
A Wrinkle in Time

Kristen's favorite books »

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Week6 - Webinars

I've attended a couple of Webinars and tried to attend a couple more. The most useful one I've attended was training on EVanced (our summer reading program software). I appreciate that the SRP webinars exist and are easy to understand, in part cause they taught me and it meant I didn't have to create new training for my staff.

There are a couple of Webinars from Nebraska that I will definitely be checking out. I've already suggested a Webinar from the list to one of my staff members. I think there's a lot of my staff that would be interested in Webinars specific to children's services. As budgets are being slashed and local professional development opportunities (or the chance to go to one) are dwindling Webinars can be a great tool.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Week6 - Podcasting

I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. Not because I'm finding the challenge particularly difficult, but because the potential for all these tools that we're not utilizing at the library is so great that I don't know where to start. I'm trying to absorb everything, document my ideas and keep in mind that the best way to start is to pick one thing to implement at a time. (The other half of my brain then screams, but we're already behind!)

So, podcasting. . .
I've tried it before. I find I don't listen to them. (I did listen to a Harry Potter one for a little while.) Talk radio puts me to sleep. I need a book on tape or peppy music for my commute. Perhaps I just haven't found any I like enough, yet. But the potential for library use is pretty high. Keeping copyright in mind I can envision using podcasting/vlogging to present storytime to a wider audience or merely demonstrate flannel stories and fingerplays.

I wish there weren't quite so many sticky legal issues with using children's images because I have a ton of programming ideas that would involve podcasting and/or youtube. I also wish there were more time in the day.

Week5 - IM

What would we do without IM? There are a couple of people for whom that's really our only method of communication. Meebo has been my go to IM client for some time now. When I was an emerging leader Meebo was where my team held their meetings.
My local committees are just starting to get in on the action of chat based meetings.

I also like using Meebo as a virtual reference tool. Since you can embed a widget on almost anywhere, when it is front and center on your website visitors have an immediate connection with a real person and don't have to hunt down the service. (See sidebar.) Here's one library using Meebo for virtual reference.

Our kids know Meebo and so there's less of a barrier introducing that reference service to them than there is a more formal service that they have to fill out a form to use.

Week5 - LibraryThing and GoodReads

GoodReads, GoodReads, GoodReads. I love GoodReads and far prefer it to LibraryThing. The main reason: there's no limit on the number of books I can add to my account. Also, I get email updates on what my librarian friends around the country are reading. Shallowly, it has a prettier interface.

Which isn't to say that LibraryThing is without it's benefits. I will turn to LibraryThing occasionally for a hard to find book when the details I have are "it's a blue book about a princess". Thanks to the tag search I've been able to find a few titles this way.

It would be interesting to set up online book groups on one of the sites. (Again, I prefer GoodReads.) I'd recommend it for personal use to teens, but can imagine lowering that age when using the site in conjunction with a book club. If we didn't already have an electronic summer reading program I imagine we could create a group in one of the services that would function in a similar way, at least on the patron's side.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Week 5 - ALA Connect

Ok, I'm going to be honest here. ALA Connect is another service that I really want to like and just don't. I believe the problems I have with it are due in large part to the slow adoption of the service. If the groups I work with used it I would likely find it invaluable.

I'm anxious to find out what other people are doing with ALA Connect, but haven't seen many mentions of it at least not among the challenge members. So, do you use ALA Connect? Do you find it useful or repetitious?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Week 5 - Twitter and Facebook

I've given Twitter a number of tries. I even occasionally tweet. (See sidebar ->) However, I'm still not totally on board. I find having another thing to check to be onerous and to be honest, I haven't found anything/anyone I want frequent updates about. However, I can understand how it could be a great PR and community building tool. Because the information on twitter is so current I imagine one of the best library uses for Twitter would be very local communication, promoting programs and materials.

I really, really want to like and use Twitter. But much like the departed Wave, I have other tools that do most of what Twitter does. My library system talked about using Twitter. I don't know what happened to that plan.

On the other hand, I love Facebook - first and last page I visit everyday. My use of Facebook is mostly personal, but especially like the way I can connect with librarians throughout the county, state and country. My library system does utilize Facebook, at least the YA librarians do. It would benefit the children's librarians to join in before those teens become parents themselves.

So, I have a few goals for myself moving forward with both of these tools.
First, I will try regularly keeping up with Twitter for at least a week. I've already (re)added a Twitter gadget to Google desktop. Secondly, I will advocate for the use of both on a local level.

(Note: Blogger, you really should recognize Facebook as a word.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Week 4 - Flickr and Tagging

rotated horizon
Originally uploaded by Kristen Kirk
This is one of my favorite photos I've ever taken. I edited the photo on Picnik to create a horizon parallel with the edges of the picture.

As much as I'm a fan of tagging, I find I don't often employ the practice much myself. I think it is such an incredibly useful tool, but don't take the time to use it. The only website I reliably use tags on is, where they're called shelves. The reason I tag there when I don't tag anywhere else? I'm obsessive about keeping track of my books and my reading. I tag books with the year I read them in. How else would I know that I'm way off pace for reading this year?

That said, tagging is exceptionally useful in searching and sorting photographs.

Week 4 - Image Generators

Other than using our computers to play games the number one thing kids do is look for photos, be it for school projects or their own interest.

I love all the options at BigHugeLabs. Make a magazine cover, movie poster, pocket photo album, etc. There are months worth of activities for kids right there. Create a literary or news magazine and add designing the cover as part of it. Ditto for a movie poster. The possibilities are endless as long as you have interested kids and access to a couple of computers with internet. I can't wait to present some of these options to our fledgling Tween TAB. (I need a better name for that.)

A couple of other image sites I love are:
1. Picnik - my favorite tool for doing simple adjustments to photos, though there are some more advanced options as well
2. BlockPoster - I made some photo backdrops, so kids could pretend they were at the beach.

(I'm having way too much fun making librarian trading cards for some of my colleagues.)

Week 4 - Photos

For the past couple of weeks we've been discussing the use of the word Tween, it's current use and how much to embrace the terminology ourselves. The day after the initial email came through my email I was shopping for a retirement card at Walmart (they didn't have them, by the way). What they did have was a section of greeting cards marketed for tweens.

Seriously? How many tweens shop for greeting cards? At any rate, this was the first time I saw the use of the word outside of professional literature. Have you seen it out and about?

Furthermore, do you market just to tweens? And do you use the word tween or have you found a suitable replacement? Do you have staff that focus on tween services?

Speaking of tweens, have you seen the new Dora?

Week 3 - Firefox and Addons

I've experimented with any number of browsers. IE, Flock, Chrome, Safari and Firefox. Though I had been using Firefox exclusively about a year ago I settled on using Flock at work and Safari at home. (Because suddenly, every time I had to load a new page in Firefox at work I had to type in my password, and at home it got really slow.)

I'm glad to have an excuse to try Firefox again. I love it. My favorite bits are being able to have multiple rows of tabs open, keywords for searches, determining where tabs open, and control L. I'm big on customization. I'll have to give it an extended preview to see if I run into roadblocks of compatibility like I did the last time I tried to use it at work.

Customization and versatility will become increasingly important in all software we use. The ability to tag bookmarks is fantastic. As the amount of accessible information grows the need for users to organize that information in a way that is meaningful to them becomes vital for success.

Week 3 - Wikis

Apparently, I forgot to blog about week 3.

So, wikis . . . I find some wikis extremely helpful and others nearly pointless (even if they shouldn't be). The key to it all is organization and standardization. Otherwise things end up being a hodgepodge of links and articles that no one can find. There are some library wikis out there like that, but I'm not naming names. The other issue is ease of access.

For the past year I was responsible for migrating information from an independent PBWiki to our state wiki. Before that I had created a wiki for the children's services of our large system using Google Sites. (There's an example of a Google site here.)

The idea for the system wiki was to share information, cut down on those pesky emails asking if anyone had a frog puppet to lend. However, the site is rarely used with the exception of a couple of people. I have a couple of theories as to why. One, it required a Google Account to access. (Even when we provided a general account for everyone to use the matter of remembering the login proved a roadblock.) Additional roadblocks including little to no training for staff and the fact that it was not part of our intranet. I have to admit I've quit using the system wiki for very much, because there's not information there I didn't add.

The use of the children's wiki picked up a bit when we posted our summer sample crafts and program ideas to it. What would you do to promote use of an internal wiki?

Training for wikis is pretty straight forward, after all, if you can write up an email or type a word document you can contribute to a wiki. I find the most difficult step is insuring there's a core architecture to the wiki to facilitate navigation.