Friday, October 27, 2006

Library Blog Search Engine

LISZen OK, so this is pretty cool. Recently, Google began a new service called Google Co-op, in which you can create your own search engine.

Well, the Library Zen took full advantage and created LISZen, a library blog search engine. It currently searches over 500 library related blogs (wow...).

Are you starting a new project? Or are you hatching a new idea? Looking for inspiration? Try it out and get results created by other librarians.

"I Could Care Less About the Web"

Hate ComputersAccording to the Toward Equality of Access report, 42% of Americans do not use the Internet. Why? Lack of interest. Phil Bradley states that the same thing is going on over in the UK.

However, what if one of these 42% needs to apply for a job and the company only accepts online applications? Or what if one of these 42% needs a tax form and the IRS has stopped providing paper copies of that form? Their interest greatly increases for the time being.

Yet, when they are finished completing the task, are they now converted Web users? Probably not. On the other hand, perhaps they now see the benefit. Once you assist them with their immediate need, you can mention the library's computer classes in case they would like to make the leap to the online world.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Go to a Conference Without Leaving Your Agency

Internet Librarian
So, going to conferences these days has been tough. However, I have been "attending" the Internet Librarian 2006 conference in Monterey, CA all day today.

Thanks to the many volunteer bloggers (click here to see a list) who are dutifully sharing their notes and thoughts on the programs they have been attending, I get to digest the knowledge that is being dispersed over in Monterey without the hassle of visiting such a desolate part of the country (ha).

All kidding aside, there is no way I could have attended this conference. However, it does not mean I cannot gain a part of the knowledge that is being shared. I have already gathered ideas on staff technical training as well as found a wonderful addition to the MALC Blogs and Wikis training Damone and I will be conducting on Thursday.

I have discovered than some people are better "note takers" than others. So if you find yourself wondering what someone is talking about, try another blogger.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Public Library Association Needs Your Help

The PLA Blog has been discussing the roles of public libraries. Do you have any thoughts concerning their proposed roles? Check out their post and add your thoughts.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Custom Google Search Engine Test

What is Important to Our Customers?

One of the questions on our customer survey last year asked this question:

When deciding which library to use, please rank the following eight factors in order of importance, with 1 being the highest and 8 the lowest.

The eight areas were:

  • Attractive Exterior
  • Attractive Interior
  • Comfortable Furniture
  • Computer Access
  • Convenience
  • Knowledgeable Staff
  • Materials
  • Safety

An area received 8 points for a 1 vote, 7 points for a 2 vote, 6 points for a 3 vote, and so on. The points were tallied to create these final numbers:

  • Convenience, 8557 points
  • Materials, 8548 points
  • Knowledgeable Staff, 7300 points
  • Safety, 6280 points
  • Computer Access, 5047 points
  • Attractive Interior, 4082 points
  • Comfortable Furniture, 3892 points
  • Attractive Exterior, 2759 points

One important aspect of this survey is that people could access the survey in paper form at any of our branches. They could also access an electronic version of the survey on our website. We received 1105 surveys online and 457 paper surveys.

The above overall ranking does not change when you compare paper vs. online survey results, however, a couple of things grab my attention.

Of the 1105 online surveys, 632 people (or 57%) gave computer access the highest rank of importance. Of the 457 paper surveys, 352 people (or 77%) gave computer access the highest rank of importance.

And, overall, paper survey participants ranked computer access and knowledgeable staff slightly higher in importance than online survey participants; whereas the online survey participants ranked Materials, Safety, and Attractive Interior slightly higher in importance than paper survey participants.

Here are the final point totals if you would like to take a look. Click on the picture to see enlarged version:

Survey Importance Final

Also, if you want to see the whole question, get your magnifying glass:

Survey Importance

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Refinements on the SideBar

I have made some improvements to the sidebar.

  1. My constant battle with creating a decent index to this blog continues. I began to realize that I was creating a new index term for every blog post. That sort of defeats the purpose. So I created a few broad categories. This should make it a bit easier to navigate and digest.
  2. If you are not an index-type of person, I added a search box. Just type what you are looking for and search.
  3. If you are interested in knowing where I get many of my ideas, you can look at my Blogroll. This lists all the blogs I subscribe to via bloglines.
  4. If something on the web grabs my attention, I add it to my account. Eventually, this knowledge will creep out somewhere (blog post, meetings, trainings, etc.). So if you are interested in seeing this information before I skew it to fit our needs, take a look at the articles and such in my tags.
  5. Finally, I added the neon sign, too. Why? Just because.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What is a Library Worth?

Library Stuff points out a neat calculator that tabulates how much the library is worth to you.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bloglines Video Series

Since blogs show the newest stuff first, the videos appear in reverse order. However, I'll list the links to the posts in chronological order here. As a recap, for those of you who were interested in attending one of my aggregator workshops but cannot because of whatever reason, you can view these videos.

I. Bloglines Registration
II. Finding and Adding Web Feeds
III. Reading Your Web Feed Articles
IV. Saving Articles from Your Web Feeds

Here is the "handout" used during the training.

If you are having difficulty finding things you are interested in, you can take a look at all of my subscriptions. They are listed on the right side bar of this blog. Just scroll down and bit and you will see them. And, no, I won't make a video showing you how to do that!

IV. Saving Articles from Your Web Feeds

The final video (for now, at least) about getting started with Bloglines. This one shows you how to save an article in case you want to read it later.

III. Reading Your Web Feed Articles

Here is the third video for the Bloglines series. This shows you how to read your web feeds once you have subscribed to them.

The Library as a Human and Local Destination

An opinion piece in Lawrence, Kansas stated that libraries are inefficient, limited and obsolete. It goes on to state that rather than building a brand new central library (which is being proposed in Lawrence), that the money should be spent providing internet access to the entire community.

To see the library response, see the many links in the post from This Week in LibraryBlogLand.

On a related note, Stephen Abram of SirsiDynix has just released the second part of a three part series about libraries adjusting to Google and its ilk, called Waiting for Your Cat to Bark.

The first part of his series lists all the things Google does well (and poorly). This second part lists all the things that libraries do well (and poorly).

One of the things that libraries do well is a reference interview. Google and other search engines are trying their best to guess what the customer needs. We have the benefit of looking the person in the eye and finding the real need behind a vague question.

As the Reference Highway pointed out, a couple of sites exist for the sole purpose of connecting a caller to a real, human company representative. If people do not like talking to machines, then why does there seem to be a push to replace librarians with search engines? The fact that anyone can walk into one of our libraries and ask an actual human being a question seems to be more fascinating than ever.

Another thing that libraries do well, according to Stephen Abram's article, is "local". We are in our communities. We know our communities and we know what they need. While our Collection Development has a strong history of purchasing materials that suit the community's needs, MPLIC's new First Responders program is taking it a step further and finding ways to push certain parts of our collection (at a moment's notice) in order to respond to a need in the community.

Perhaps we could also learn something from the independent record and book stores. As mentioned in this TechDirt article, these places are adjusting to the fact that anyone can purchase books and music on the Web by offering something more, a destination. Our situations are similar. If I can buy a book on the Web, why do I need a bookstore? If I can find an answer to a question on the Web, why do I need a library? By adjusting and adding emphasis that the library is a destination (a place that offers more than a stack of books), we automatically trump the online world in that aspect.

So, while MPLIC (and libraries in general) need to continue to improve their online presence and offerings, at the same time, we need to focus on our qualities that make us different from the online world. We're human. We're local. And we're real.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

II. Finding and Adding Web Feeds

Here is the second video on getting started with bloglines. This explains the basics of identifying and adding web feeds to bloglines. Enjoy!

I. Bloglines Registration

OK, for you folks who were not able to attend any of the aggregator workshops I am conducting, here is a boring video on registering for bloglines. I am going to do some follow-up videos on the fun part of bloglines but wanted to start from the beginning.

Mainly, though, you will see just how darn easy (and quick) it is to get started.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I.D. the Creep Game!

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a website called Don't Believe the Type. The goal is to educate teens about online sexual predators. This site has a lot of useful information about online behavior, including a game called I.D. the Creep.

It simulates messages one can receive from E-mail, Chat, or I.M. For example, if you choose I.M., you receive messages from 5 individuals. You have to I.D. the creeps to get points.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Changing OWA Password Assistance

The Helpdesk recently notified me of an ongoing situation related to staff having difficulties changing their Outlook Web Access password.

After reviewing the statistics, it appears that staff are requiring assistance from the Helpdesk because of two main factors:

  1. Staff forget their password, thereby requiring the Helpdesk to manually reset the password.
  2. Staff abstain from changing their password during the 14 days that they are notified that their password is about to expire. When this happens, the Helpdesk must manually reset the password.

A document is available on the Intranet that explains the process of changing the password. Click here to see that document.

I have also created this video that explains the process as well!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Public Libraries and the Internet Report

A report title Public Libraries and the Internet 2006 was just released and ALA (one of the funders of theh report along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) has a brief summary here (probably more our speed).

The ALA Techsource blog has a summary of that summary that may be even easier to digest.

Find What You Are Looking For

Using the Find tool can greatly increase efficiency when searching the Web. For example, if you are performing a search for "french revolution aristocracy", you will receive numerouse results. These results will probably be fairly lengthy. If your interest is only in the section of the result that mentions aristocracy, you do not have to scan the entire document. Let the computer do that for you. It is a lot faster!

Click on Edit>Find on the Menu bar. Type the word you are wanting to find and click Find Next. There you go!

This also works with PDFs and Word documents.

Watch this video to see this blog post in real life!