Monday, February 27, 2006

Word Basics for the Public

The new public computer class, Word Basics, was created in response to numerous requests from class participants who were asking for a Computer Basics II. They wanted more before they ventured into the Internet portion of classes.

At first, I was confused. What else could we give them that we did not give them in Computer Basics? Did they want more instruction on moving the mouse? Were they wanting more about closing and resizing windows? Surely not.

Or perhaps they wanted more on how to manage their home computer, which we cannot do. These classes focus on teaching library customers how to use library computers. We cannot offer classes on managing home computers for numerous reasons.

So what did they want? What is Computer Basics II?

After further research, I determined that these customers were not asking for Computer Basics II. They were asking for Word Basics. So starting March 2006, we will begin offering Word Basics.

The class will cover these topics:

  • cut, copy, and paste
  • formatting font
  • changing paragraph alignment
  • changing line spacing
  • bullets
  • margins
  • undo/redo
  • saving

Hopefully this will satisfy the customer's need. If you have any questions, give this post a comment!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How Do I Comment? It's Asking Me to Log In!

Don't worry. Comments are for anyone. It is a bit misleading though. Just click on comment and type your comments. Then under Choose Your Identity, click Other or Anonymous. The default identifying option is Blogger, therefore it asks you to type your Blogger username and password in order to publish your post. If you change to Other, you have a place to add your name (optional) and a Publish button. If you select Anonymous, you just have a Publish button.

Students and Time Lines

Students are required to create time lines for their projects. Try this website:

This site has several time line examples and templates that students can use. These are Excel documents however the templates seem to be a bit intuitive.

My favorite document is Inventions of Twentieth Century. This document has 3 worksheets. The third worksheet is a blank timeline template.

NOTE: When you click on a document, it asks if you want to Open or Save the document. I would suggest that the customer go ahead and Save the document to their floppy disk or flash drive. I had difficulties on the public computers when I chose Open. When I tried to Save later, the computer did nothing. Therefore, you would not be able to save the document.

Do you have any strategies when assisting these customers? Let me know.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

MPLICTechTrain Blog Guidelines

The subjects of blog posts and comments should fall within the scope of technology and library computers.

Please remember to adhere to copyright laws; the library cannot use graphics, text or multimedia from copyrighted sources. Public domain graphics, graphics produced by MPLIC staff, or graphics for which the library has a release or right to use through purchase may be used.

All staff members contributing comments to the blog are expected to conform to the City of Memphis Human Resources Manual policy PM-78-04, “Use of the Internet, Internal & External Electronic Mail & General Use of Personal Computers”. Staff should also keep in mind that any information they convey in the context of their employment at Memphis Public Library is a reflection of the entire library system.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Word: The Reviewing Toolbar for the Editors in All of Us

Have you ever co-created a document with a group of people? Chances are, you needed to email the document back and forth to numerous people. Perhaps you wanted to add some comments but found it time consuming and confusing (ex. "I would make this change in the middle of the second paragraph, the sentence that starts with. . .).

Try the Reviewing Toolbar available in MS Word the next time this occurs. To access this toolbar, click on View on the Menu Bar. Then point to Toolbars. A menu of available toolbars will appear. Click on Reviewing.

This allows you to add comments to the actual document. Would you phrase a sentence differently. Highlight the sentence. Click on the New Comment button and type away.

When the originator of the document receives your comments, they can use the Reviewing toolbar to either reject or accept the change. If they accept, the document is automatically updated. No need to retype!

Internet: Amazon's Concordance and Text Stats has a new feature that provides both useful and fun information. Once you are on a books screen, look around the title of the book for links that say Condordance or Text Stats.

The Concordance shows the 100 most used words in the book. The larger the word, the more times it is mentioned. The Text Stats rate the Readability and Complexity of the book as well as the amount of words and sentences.

One of the Readability statistics is the Flesch-Kinkaid Index, which measures the book according to grade level. For example, The Da Vinci Code has a Flesch-Kinkaid Index of 7.2. That means that someone with a 7th grade reading level would be able to read and comprehend the book successfully.

Websites vs. Library Databases

Library customers that are researching topics on the computer have two main choices. They can use a search engine, or they can use the library databases. Keep these ideas in mind when working with these customers:

  • Library databases get their information from professionals or experts in the field. Websites can be written by anyone.
  • Library databases are easy to cite in a bibliography. Websites often do not provide the information necessary to create a complete citation.
  • Library databases can help you narrow your topic or suggest related subjects. Websites often are not organized to support student research needs.
  • Library databases are updated frequently and include the date of publication. Websites may not indicate when a page is updated.

If you are not familiar with the library databases, then register for the Library Databases Search Strategies Refresher Training.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Outlook 2003: "Tagging" E-mail

Here is a tip for the Outlook 2003 (Full-Client) users: You can "tag" email messages from certain individuals by having their messages displayed as a unique color.

  1. Click on Tools on the Menu Bar.
  2. Click on Organize.
  3. Click on the Colored "Rubix Cube"-like square.
  4. Click on an email message from the person you would like to "tag". Notice that their name will appear in the text box.
  5. Select the color and click on Apply Color.
  6. Click on Close Organizer on the top right.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Outlook: Drafts Folder

Here is a tip for all Outlook users (Web Access and Full-Client): If you are composing an email message and you suddenly need to leave and close your account before you are finished, just hit the Save button on your email message window. A copy of your email message will be sent to your Drafts folder. Access the saved email by clicking on the Drafts folder in the Navigation Pane, then double-click on the email message you saved and continue composing.

Outlook: Invite Attendees

The Outlook Calendar feature is not only used to track your own schedule. You can use it to schedule meetings with other staff as well.

  1. When you create a new appointment in Outlook Web Access, you will notice two tabs.
  2. The default tab is labeled “Appointment”. The other tab is labeled “Availability”. Click on that tab and the window will change.
  3. Type the meeting attendee names and their schedules will appear (details are hidden).
  4. Select the time that is convenient for all attendees.
  5. Click on “Invite Attendees”. An email message will automatically be sent to all participants.
For Outlook 2003 users:
  1. Follow the same procedure.
  2. The “Availability” tab is labeled “Scheduling”.
  3. You can also access this feature when in the Calendar View by clicking on Actions on the Menu bar and then clicking on “Plan a Meeting”.
Of course, this feature is only useful if all staff use the Calendar.

Word: Format Picture

Here are some tips to help you with customers who have inserted pictures into their Microsoft Word documents:

Double-click on the picture to bring up the Format Picture dialog box. This box has three important tabs.

The first is called Colors and Lines. Use it to add a frame (or Line) to the picture. Choose the color of the Line and then select the Weight. The higher the Weight, the bigger the Line will be (option only available when wrapping style is not "In Line with Text" (see below)).

Use the Size tab to make the picture bigger or smaller. The ratio should be locked so that when you change the Height, the Width will automatically adjust and vice versa.

And use the Layout tab to select the Wrapping Style (how the text wraps around the picture). In Line with Text will treat the picture like any other letter. Square and Tight will have the text wrap around the picture like you see in a newspaper or book. Or you can lay the picture Behind Text or In Front of Text.

Internet: Folksonomy

The online world is quickly developing a complex sociology that affects the entire society. Here is a new term that has been floating around library circles nationwide due to that effect.

Folksonomy - a neologism, or recently coined word, for a practice of collaborative categorization using freely chosen keywords. This feature has begun appearing in a variety of social software, a broad term used to describe software-based tools that facilitate interaction and collaboration. At present, the best examples of online folksonomies are social bookmarking sites like, a bookmark sharing site, Flickr, for photo sharing, and 43 Things, for goal sharing.

Folksonomy is currently understood somewhat narrowly as "tagging". Social sciences and anthropology have long studied "folk classifications" - how average people (non-experts) classify the world around them. Folksonomies work best when a large number of users all describe the same piece of information.

A derivation of taxonomy, which is from "taxis" and "nomos" (from Greek). Taxis means classification. Nomos (or nomia) means management. Folk is people (from German). So folksonomy means people's classification management. (from

How will this affect our day-to-day operations? Will people become frustrated with the Library of Congress Subject Headings that we use or will this help them better understand the system?

Word: AutoText It!

Tired of typing “Memphis Public Library & Information Center” over and over again? In Microsoft Word, all you need to do is add it to your AutoText. If you are typing in Word and you type a day of the week or a month, you will notice that Word will suggest the word before you finish typing.

For example, when I type January, all I have to type is “Janu” before Word suggests “January”. Then I just hit enter and Word automatically finishes the word for me. That is called AutoText.

You can add your own words or phrases to the AutoText list.

1) Click on “Insert” in the Menu Bar.
2) Point at “AutoText” and another Menu will appear.
3) Click on the “AutoText” in that separate menu.
4) Type whatever word or phrase you want.
5) Click “Add”.

Now, all I have to type is “Memp” to pull up the AutoText suggestion of “Memphis Public Library & Information Center”, thereby saving me 39 keystrokes. Add many of your regularly used words or phrases and your typing time will diminish significantly.


Here is a bit of advice I would like to share with you. More of a demand, actually. Register with Why? We all know what blogs are, but do we? My image of a blog used to be someone’s personal rants about the world and pictures of their Schnauzer named Walter. While that is a correct visual for many blogs, there is another blogworld out there. Take these for example: A blog from 3 OCLC staff about all things present and future that impact libraries and library users. A blog about one librarian’s experience on the theorized Information Shift, a change from pursuing information to receiving information and how that change will affect libraries.

What does this have to do with Well, these are two of maybe 40 blogs about the library profession. Who has time to continually check all of these websites for new articles? No one. However, if you register with bloglines, you can “subscribe” to any blog and bloglines will send the articles to YOU.

Stay on the cutting edge of technology and the change facing the library world today. Register with, now.

Library Databases: The Near Operator

While searching our Databases on the Library Web, everyone knows to use AND, OR, or NOT as operators to customize your search. However, another rarely used operator can be very helpful as well.

By using Nn or (NEARn for Newsbank) in between your search terms, you can indicate how near you want the words to appear in the article. Words that are close to each other are more likely to be related than words that are far apart.

For example, in InfoTrac Onefile, a search for COMPUTERS AND LIBRARY produces 1649 results. A search for COMPUTERS N3 LIBRARY produces only 150 results. This search retrieves articles where the word COMPUTERS is mentioned within three words of LIBRARY. These 150 articles are not only far fewer than 1649, but they are probably more relevant.

In Newsbank, use NEARn to perform the same search. For example, if a customer is searching for an obituary, a search for BOB SMITH will pull up every Bob Eucker and Will Smith in the newspaper. If you add quotation marks and search for “BOB SMITH”, you lose articles that include the middle initial, which many obituaries do. A search for BOB NEAR3 SMITH will make the customer’s job much easier.

Internet: Google Tools

Google can do more than just search the Internet. It offers a few cool bells and whistles that can be very helpful. It allows you to reverse lookup telephone numbers, convert weights and measures, and perform calculator functions. All this can be done from the search box located at Here are some examples:

  1. Reverse Lookup: Type in telephone # with area code and press enter. If it’s a listed number, the name and address of person with that number will be displayed.
  2. Conversions: Type in something like “Convert 18 tablespoons to teaspoons,” and then press enter. The answer will be displayed. (54 teaspoons) It can also convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius.
  3. Calculator: For calculations simply type in something like 4 + 5 and then press enter. For multiplication, use the symbol *. For division, use the symbol /.

Word: Find Replace

Have you ever had a customer who needed to change a word or phrase to another word or phrase in a document? The only problem is that they need to change the word or phrase 200 times! For example, a customer has written a 900 page book about dogs. Unfortunately, they meant the book to be about cats. Now they need to change the word “dog” to the word “cat” on just about every page. Luckily, there is an easy way to do this.

  1. Click on EDIT on the Menu Bar
  2. Select FIND. A dialog box will appear.
  3. In the space provided (marked “Find What”), type in the word or phrase you want to change. (In our example “dog.”)
  4. Next, click on the Replace tab near the top of the dialog box. A new line will appear (marked “Replace With”) that will allow you to type in the new word or phrase. (In our example “cat.”)
  5. Now click on the Replace All button at the bottom of the screen

That’s it! All the “dogs” are now “cats.”