Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Mystery of the Faux Fax

Fax Wizard 5 31 2006 12 06 35 PM

A customer approached a library staff member the other day and asked where she could pick up her fax confirmation sheet. The library staff member was puzzled, and rightly so, because we do not have any fax machines for the public. When confronted with this fact, the customer stated that she had sent a fax with one of our public computers.

Even more confused, the staff member asked the customer to show her how she sent the fax. The customer was in Microsoft Word and if you click on File>Send To, a menu appears with an option to Fax Recipient. The Fax Wizard (pictured) appears and walks you through the process.

However, it then asks which Fax program you want to use. The only options are the printers that are attached to the public computers (NOTICE no fax machines). You can click next and go through a few more steps until you click on send fax. A window then pops up saying that the fax went through. OF COURSE IT DID NOT, because our printers cannot fax.

So, if this ever comes up again, the short answer is this:

"I'm sorry, that function of Microsoft Office does not work because we do not have any fax machines attached to the computers. However, I do know that [such and such a place] has a public fax machine. . ."

The mystery of the Faux Fax is solved!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006

Teen Librarians Alert

Hey you Teen Librarians. I just thought I should pass this on. The Library Success wiki's section on Services for Teens has been going nuts lately. You should check it out.

Add your knowledge as well.

Just in case you need some background as to what I am talking about, read this previous post.

The Missing Librarian in Da Vinci Code

I read the Da Vinci Code a year or so ago and remembered a part of the book in which Langdon (the hero) found himself at a dead end in his treasure hunt. Where did he go for help? A library! The librarian worked with Langdon by deciphering what would be the best keywords to use in a database query. It worked and Langdon was soon back on his journey.

Well, I saw the movie this weekend (good, fun movie) and the librarian was replaced by. . . a mobile phone. Say what!?

Yes, Langdon found himself at a dead end in his treasure hunt and decided they needed to go to a library. They hopped on a bus; however, they soon realized that they did not have enough time to get to the library. Sophie (the heroine) saw a fellow bus passenger with a mobile phone and convinced him to let Langdon borrow it. Langdon then searched "a database" and came up with the key to continue their journey.

Langdon does say something like, "I wonder if I can access the database". So, this could be a wonderful advertisement for the future of libraries. You can access us anywhere, even on your mobile phone.

Or, you can see it how probably the masses will see it. Langdon does not have time to go to a library, so he searches the internet with someone's mobile phone.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Blog Mission

Get on the ILS & Tech Train! This weblog will provide staff with an avenue to gain and share information related to our integrated library system, library computers, and other technological issues. This will help us satisfy the customer's need to know.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Is the Printer Cutting You Off?

NOTE: The HTML2PDF tool is no longer a free tool.

Have you ever printed a web page, or helped a customer print a web page, in which the edge of the page was cut off? One work-around some staff have implemented is copying and pasting the web page into a Word document. This works but can be a bit clunky.

Well, the Librarian in Black passed on a useful site that I think will revolutionize our customer interactions in these scenarios. It is called HTML2PDF:

That's right. Just enter the web address and click on "Render HTML to PDF Now!". You will then be asked if you want to Save or Open the file. You should select Open. And there it is! A PDF version of the web page.

This still does not solve the problem of printing web pages that are made of frames. You know what I am talking about. One of those pages where everything is divided into sections. You tell it to print and you end up with nothing or just the part of the page that was on the screen and nothing else.

Well, hopefully we will not have to deal with that much longer as web page developers are moving away from using frames. Follow this link to see what I think about frames. On this site, you see how printing is a fundamental problem with frames. So this is NOT OUR FAULT, folks.

If you need to print a web page made of frames, it is best to highlight the information needed, click on File > Print, and click on the Selection radio button.

More MySpace

The MySpace issue continues. For those interested in a very comprehensive and informative discussion on the MySpace topic (much more than my measly post) check out this "thesis" by Meredith Farkas, author of the blog Information Wants to Be Free and the wiki Library Success.

See this post from Sarah Houghton, author of the blog Librarian in Black, about Congress having discussions about making schools and libraries ban minors from using sites like MySpace.

Internal Communication: a LEAP project

On Thursday, May 11, the first LEAP class culminated our year long experience by presenting a group project. With 12 people in the class, we were separated into 3 groups of 4. The team I was on consisted of me, Maya Berry, Wendi Glenn, and Estela Meabe. This was our goal:

Each small group will identify a project topic centered on an opportunity, idea, or solution to a problem that would benefit the Memphis Public Library & Information Center.

We were to make a 15-20 minute presentation which would include:

  • Why the group chose their project
  • How the project would impact the library system
  • What steps would be needed to implement the project

We were to have our topic turned in by October 1. We were to have an outline submitted by March 15. And finally, we were to present our project on May 11.

We chose internal communication. Effective organizational communication can greatly increase our productivity, morale, and our cohesion as an organization.

But first, what is internal communication? Is it the process of sending someone an email? Yes. Is it also participating and listening in a staff meeting? Yes. Is it making sure you have your yearly performance appraisal? Yes. Is it taking advantage of the training opportunities available to you? Yes. Is it being knowledgeable of our mission statement and PPM policies? Yes. Is it making sure staff needs are heard? Yes.

Internal communication permeates everything we do. It is how an organization breathes. Poor communication leads to cynicism and suspicion. Trust diminishes and performance declines.

This definition of internal communication comes from an article by Larry Hansen in the journal Occupational Hazards called "How Will They Know?" While this article is about the effect internal communication has on workplace safety in a manufacturing setting, it was by far the best definition we found. Workplace safety could easily be replaced with customer service.

If you are interested in learning more, take a look at our presentation handout and slide show. You can also take a look at the wiki we used in preparing for this presentation. As presentation time approached, our 15-20 minute time limitation forced us to dump several ideas that are listed on the wiki. (And those of you who were at the presentation may notice some extra slides in the slide show. To avoid spending more than our fair share of time, I found it necessary to dump some material during the presentation. One thing I learned in our Essentials of Communication LEAP session is to NEVER go over your time limit. By going over, you may think you are relaying important information; however, in reality, you are probably losing your audience. Once they are lost, they may not retain ANYTHING that you have said).

Now why is this topic on the Technical Trainer blog? Because our suggestions on improving internal communication include taking advantage of many of the tools I have been talking about in this forum (Blogs, Wikis, Web Feeds). By utilizing these new technological tools, more lines of communication can open up that make it easier to share information than ever before.

While using these new tools will improve our Internal Communication System (ICS), I cannot stress the importance for everyone to use the existing system. As you will see in our resources, we have a solid ICS in place. It is the responsibility of everyone in the system to use it. Participate in staff meetings. Share information with your supervisor/manager. Read the minutes to committee meetings. Read your email at least once a day. Send in those Good Ideas. Fill out your Career Development Activity Record annually. Take advantage of training opportunities. This will make you a better performing and, yes, a happier employee.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Chart Toppers

On page 11 of the Library Computers training handout, we cover creating charts using Excel.

Another option besides Excel is a tool created by the National Center for Education Statistics. It is called. . . Create a Graph.

One major drawback is the difficulty in transferring your chart to another document. With Excel, you simply copy and paste the chart into Word. However, Create a Graph requires that you save the chart to a disk (choose EMF file type). You then have to use the Insert>Picture>From File function in Word to insert the chart (click on Insert on the Menu bar, point to Picture, click on From File, find your chart file).

Or, probably an easier option is to e-mail the chart to yourself. Much like the web-based mybrochuremaker website, in order to "save" your work, you have to provide an e-mail address. A link to your chart's website will be sent to your e-mail address. However, a picture of your chart will also be sent. Since we cannot right-click, you will have to click and drag over the picture so that you can highlight and copy the chart. Then, paste it into Word. (It worked fine for me. Doris states in the comments to this post that it only pasted the frame and not the graph. . .)

Compared with Excel, Create a Graph is a bit easier to customize (changing colors, font styles, etc.) and the graphic based interface may be a bit more appealing to the younger audience. Also, while all library locations have Excel, many people from home may not have Excel. This would then be a great web-based tool that people could use to create a chart.

While I will still recommend Excel, I want to give you your options. If you are interested in learning more about creating charts with Excel, Staff Development offers a one hour class titled. . .How Do I Create a Chart?

If you want to look at something right now, check-out this website. Or take a look at Microsoft's instructions.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Put Everything in One Place and Be Done with It

I have already discussed web feeds, but now I want to talk about using those web feeds in more detail. You may be saying, "This web feed stuff seems too techie for me." Or you may be thinking, "I can hardly handle e-mail. I can't add anything else to that." At the same time, you may be saying, "I can't keep up with all this information."

Those are all the reasons why you SHOULD register with a service like bloglines. With a service like bloglines, you can "subscribe" to a blog (or any other site with web feeds). Once you register (a simple process), you "subscribe" to web feeds by doing this:

  1. Find the syndication button on a site that provides web feeds (all blogs are web feeds; however, many websites are providing this service as well). The syndication button can say RSS or XML or ATOM or SUBSCRIBE (one complaint people have is the difficulty in finding the syndication button because they can look like different things, but that should be changing soon).
  2. Click on that button. You will be taken to a page that looks like hieroglyphics (actually HTML).
  3. Copy the URL by clicking on the address bar and hitting CTRL+C on your keyboard (or however you like to copy) .
  4. Go to your web feed reader/aggregator.
  5. Click on Add.
  6. Paste the URL into the provided text box. THAT'S ALL! A simple copy and paste.

Now, when you go to your web feed reader/aggregator, blogs or web feeds with new additions will be in bold with the number of new articles in parentheses to the right of the title. Click on the title and the new articles appear on the same window. No more traversing the internet. You have a one-stop shop!

For your convenience, I have placed the feed URLs for all library blogs below, so just copy these URLs and skip to step 4 in the instructions above. (ILS Blog) (This blog) (Reference Highway) (Library Leaders)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Adult Services Group Presentation

At today's Adult Services Group meeting, I talked about some future trends such as blogs, wikis, and web feeds. Here is the link to the account I used for the presentation. This has links to all the examples I used. You will find some categories on the right side (Blogs, Wikis, WebFeeds). Also, each "favorite" has some notes attached.

If you are curious as to what is, see these two previous posts.

For more information on Wikis, see this previous post.

For more information on Web Feeds, see this previous post.