Friday, December 21, 2007

Emerging Technologies Committee

Libraries have always been about information. Our mission of satisfying the customer's need to know certainly implies a flow of information from the library to the customer. But libraries have always been about interaction as well. In other words, the flow of information can go from customer to library, or from customer to customer. Citizens meet at libraries every day as a trusted place to interact with each other.

Compare this to the internet, which has always been a place of information. The library's online presence has always been a place to find information, but not necessarily a place to interact. However, just in the past few years, the capacity to use the internet to interact has grown exponentially. And while we have begun using tools that allow us to interact with our customers online, the library will begin looking into expanding our options in this area. To do this, an Emerging Technologies Committee has been formed. Visit the Emerging Technologies Committee wiki page to find out how we are doing this. If you have any ideas and would like to participate, please let us know.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How to Find Out if Something is "Claims Returned"...

"Claims Returned" is the status of an item when a customer claims that they have returned that item. Many times, we can look on the shelf and indeed the item was returned but somehow missed being discharged. Other times, we cannot find it and the item is in limbo. Unfortunately, the official status of the item is still "CHECKEDOUT".

This can cause confusion, especially if the only circulating copy in the system or at your branch is "CHECKEDOUT", but actually is "Claims Returned". So how do you find out if an item is "Claims Returned"?

Click here to find out. This is a page that has been added to the WorkFlows wiki page under Item Searching.

Thanks to Paul for explaining this quirk.

Monday, December 03, 2007

WorkFlows Log-Ins Tied to Locations

This is a re-wording of an email message that Paul sent in late November.

When working at Central on Sundays (or when working at any different location for any reason) , please login with the login of the department/branch you are working.

Do NOT login with your home branch REF or CIRC logins.

If you do, statistics will be incorrectly credited to your branch instead of Central, and items could be put INTRANSIT incorrectly.

I have mentioned this in several recent WorkFlows trainings but was one of those caveats that we missed in the original WorkFlows training.

I have added this information to the Logging In page of the WorkFlows wiki.

Friday, November 30, 2007

When Customers Want Many Copies of the Same Book...

Very soon after Go Live (June 14), I added a page to the WorkFlows wiki that explains the hold process when you need multiple copies of the same item.

Example, you have a Book Club that needs 15 copies of a certain book. MPLIC does have 15 copies but they are scattered throughout the system. Before, we would call each location that has a copy and ask them to send it to us. Or we would send an email to all locations asking them to check their shelves and send any available copies.

This wiki page linked to above explains the process you can go through to avoid those unnecessary steps. Basically, you place multiple title-level holds on the same item.

However, what do we do when a customer requests us to place multiple titles on hold? Technically we can follow the same steps; however, I understand that some agencies are not doing this because of time constraints. Has this come up with you? What do you think about placing multiple holds on the same title for customers? We want to avoid inconsistent service ("Well 'such-and-such' branch did this for me!").

Your Job As A Video Game

Beth from Highland passed on a great site that has two library-related video games. The first one gives you points for shelving books in the correct order (uses LC and not Dewey, though). You have a stack of books on the left. You click on one of the books and then click on the place on the shelf that it needs to go. Oh, and you have one minute to shelve each stack.

The next game tests your reference, customer service, and cleaning skills. Customers come into your library and you have to retrieve their question. You then are given about five choices to give the customer. You have to select the most appropriate source for the question. This was confusing at first, but was great once I got the hang of it.

Using Zamzar to Convert Office 2007 Files

Recently, I discussed an issue about customers wanting to convert MS Works files into MS Word. Related to this is the fact that Microsoft's new Office 2007 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) is completely different than our current XP edition (see this February 2007 post regarding Vista (which uses Office 2007)). They even use a different file format. While Word XP (our edition) uses a .doc file format, Word 2007 uses a .docx file format.

And... of course, Word XP cannot open Word 2007 file formats (same for Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) without the help of a special download on each individual computer throughout the system. This is something we cannot do at this time.

Do not fret, though. The same tool ( we discussed for converting Works into Word will also convert Office 2007 file formats as well. You can use the same directions found here.

Using Word to Create Labels

I have added a page to the MPLIC-Wiki for instructions on basic label-making in Word.

I have had a few questions regarding Word labels today. Since it is holiday time, many of you are preparing your holiday cards for other agencies and you want your labels to look nice and pretty.

Using Word labels is also quite handy at all times of the year whether you are helping customers or creating your own office labels. (NOTE: Customers can use our computers to create and save the Word label document. However, they cannot insert label sheets into our printers. They would need to take the document elsewhere to print.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Myths About Library Computers Get Debunked

Here is an expansion from the "Technical Trainer Tips" in the most recent StaffWise:

I have recently been informed of a couple of myths regarding our public computers:

Myth #1: Customers cannot insert CDs into our computers due to security risks.
Debunk #1: Customers CAN insert CDs into our computers. They CANNOT install software programs on our computers. For more information, see this MPLIC Tech Train blog post from September 2006.

Myth #2: Customers cannot use flash drives or external hard drives connected via USB port due to security risks.
Debunk #2: Customers CAN use flash drives or external hard drives connected via USB ports. For more information, see this MPLIC Tech Train blog post from June 2006 and this training document.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Creating Charts in Excel

It took a while, but I have added the "How Do I Create Charts?" content to the MPLICWiki. Take a look when you get a chance. Lots of great screenshots. And just in time for Wednesday's training!...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Could We Podcast...for Free?

I did a presentation today for the West Tennessee TLA Staff Development Workshop. One of the topics I spoke about was podcasting. What is podcasting, you might ask? Podcasting is placing audio onto the Web so that people can listen to it either on their computer or on a portable media player.

Some libraries are creating podcasts that describe what is going on during the next week or so. Others use it to create book reviews (like an audio Memphis Reads blog). Other libraries allow some of their teen customers to "host a radio show".

While investigating podcasting for this conference, I discovered a way to do podcasting absolutely free. First, you have to download Audacity, a free audio recorder. You use this to record and convert your recording into an mp3 file.

Then, you can register for Gcast, a website that will convert mp3 files into podcasts. They will host the audio and also provide you with a player that can be embedded onto another website. See how you can embed the player into a blog post!

Subscribe Free
Add to my Page

So, do you have any ideas for how MPLIC can use this sort of tool?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Works to Word Conversions

MS Works is a Microsoft word processor that usually comes bundled with new computers. One must purchase MS Office to use MS Word. Our computers use MS Word. Many customer computers use MS Works. MS Word cannot open MS Works files. What do we do?!

I have added a page to the MPLIC Wiki with instructions on converting Works files to Word files using

This page can be found under the Helpful Handouts section of the Staff Development wiki.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blogging Has Been Slow, But Nothing Else Has Been

OK, I admit. I have not really been blogging much lately. I have been really busy. Several months ago, I developed an aggressive staff training schedule for the fall/winter months. ILS training had made training other classes a lower priority, so I wanted to make up for it by offering many classes. And I also offered several new classes that would require developing.

We also decided to start placing all training material online via wiki. This is similar to re-making all of my training handouts. So offering more classes, developing several new classes, and migrating content into the MPLIC-Wiki has taken up quite a bit of time.

On top of that, Damone and I have been assisting the City of Memphis Quality of Professional Development by offering all of their technical training classes for the fall/winter. Their previous trainer did not train the classes in a way that meshed well with our style of training. This has resulted in us developing these classes from scratch.

Then, we found ourselves with many new staff to train. Thank you! But that did result in us needing to add several trainings into an already packed schedule.

Also, the new ILS and other changes have required us and the Search Strategies Training Team to re-think the whole four-day training. A large task in and of itself!

The Virtual Reference Committee has spent time expanding the chat service to branch staff. This required training of course. And the expanding role of chat and email reference (now that they are prominently displayed on our new website) has exposed some flaws in the system. This has resulted in several of us spending a lot of time trying to figure out how best to make this work.

I have also been assisting the Crime Incident Statistics Sub-Committee with the development of a database that could make the process of filling out incident forms and tracking incidents a lot easier.

At the same time, I have been gradually settling into the new role of Secretary for your Retirement Board. Trying to learn what these money managers are saying and trying to translate that into something that all of us can understand has been quite a task.

I have also been preparing for a presentation for the TLA Staff Development workshop being held here on November 16. My presentation is called "So Easy, a Librarian Can Do It: Expanding Your Web Presence Beyond Your Website".

So, if you are still reading (which I doubt), please understand that blogging has taken a back seat for the time being. The poor site needs attention, though. I haven't posted in a while. All my pictures are gone. It looks like a lonely ghost town.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Missing Pictures!

So, you may or may not have noticed recently that my blog seems empty of pictures. Well, I had a Files training the other day in which the final exercise involved uploading pictures to Flickr. I gave participants the username and password for my Flickr account. This is the same account I use to upload photos and screenshots to the Web so that I can display them on this blog. Well, I guess someone practiced the art of deleting pictures as well because soon after the training, I logged onto my blog and noticed that the last 15 or 20 pictures had been deleted. This affects posts going as far back as March of this year.

It would take a lot of time to re-upload all those pictures and change the code for each post, so those posts will remain picture-less. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Can't Open Files??? Operation Canceled???

If your agency has a fairly new computer, you may receive a message when you attempt to open a file. This message states, "This operation has been canceled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator."

If you see this message when attempting to open a file, simply click "OK" and proceed. You will not be restricted. I have no information as to why this message appears, but I have noticed it on all newer computers.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The World at 2100

Stephen's Lighthouse points out an interesting "curation at The Bibliothèque nationale de France. There is a wonderful online gallery of illustrations by Villemard from 1910 imagining what life would be like in the year 2000."

A few envision the world of mass transport:

A few envision automation:
  • Construction (one architect with a bunch of machines)
  • Barber Shop (I would never...I repeat, NEVER go to a place like this)
And another envisions warfare (sort of a Mad Max scene - SHOOT AT THE TIRES!). And this is interesting as this is prior to World War I and the introduction of the tank. Tanks did not really come into play until World War II. And the French and British did not think that the tank was that important... until Germany showed them how the tank was supposed to be used. So the fact that a French artist in 1910 saw mobile fighting units as being important in the future is interesting indeed (sorry for the historical aside...)

So why is this series important? The paintings envision a future with the tools that were possible (sort of) at the time that the paintings were made. It is difficult to plan for or predict the future when you have no idea what tools will be available for you at that time.

I started working at the library 10 years ago in LINC at the Main Library. We did not have one public Internet access computer in the building. I don't know if I would have predicted the library's importance in providing that access to the public. Because I would not have known that companies would be "forcing" people to fill out online job applications, that e-mail accounts would be a necessity for all.

And when I started my current job as Technical Trainer just three years ago, I had no clue that I would be placing so much content on the Web for all to use. Because these tools were not readily available then.

So how will the library adjust over the next five, ten years? We can certainly envision what we can do with the existing tools at hand. But we cannot predict what new tools will become available to us during that time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The World Waking Up To The Fact That Libraries Are Carrying the Load For Internet Access

Here is a link to an interesting AP article on ("Libraries Facing Internet Traffic Jam") regarding a study recently released by ALA, Florida State, and the Gates Foundation.

Libraries are finding it difficult to locate funds, space, and wiring for additional computers to meet increasingly higher demand (due to sites like YouTube, online job applications, and homework assistance). Some libraries are having to move money and resources away from existing library services (youth outreach, book purchases, etc.) in order to meet the demand for the "new" service of providing internet access to citizens.

Three cheers for the AP for creating this story about this report (the same for for choosing to post it). We need all the help we can get.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Delay Outgoing Outlook Messages In Case You Instantly Regret What You Sent

Have you ever sent an e-mail message only to instantly realize that you forgot to include an attachment, or sent it to the wrong person, or misspelled something, etc.?

If you have, then this tip from the How-To Geek is right for you. It explains how to delay all messages being sent for a certain brief amount of time. This gives you a chance to stop a message if you press Send and instantly wish that you had not.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Placing Holds for Items with Multiple Volumes or Years

I just added some new instructions to the WorkFlows wiki regarding placing holds on items with multiple volumes or years.

Please take a look. Click here to see the new entry.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Staff Language Skills on MPLICWiki

The Staff Language Skills document that was once available on the Staff Intranet as a PDF document is now available via wiki. The prior list was outdated due to staff departures and changes in location. The new list can be updated instantly.

Please keep in mind that the purpose of the Staff Language Skills is to help staff with non-English speaking customers who have information questions either in the building, over the phone or via Internet.

Customer requests for translations should first be offered language dictionaries/books/tapes. If the customer needs further translation assistance or needs a letter, document, form, etc. translated, they should be referred to the Humanities Department, which will use the Translator File to connect the customer to the right translator.

Change to MPLICWiki on the Staff Intranet

MPLICWiki IntranetThe MPLICWiki is no longer listed under the "Web Authoring" heading on the staff intranet. The MPLICWiki now has its own heading with links to several resources currently available on the wiki.

You can either click on the MPLICWiki heading to go to the main page of the MPLICWiki. Or you can take a shortcut to any of the resources found underneath the MPLICWiki heading.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Staff Development Website

We have been working on updating the Staff Development website, using the MPLICWiki. Using the wiki will allow us to make frequent changes so that information remains updated. This also allows us to place training dates on the page as well. So, not only do you receive a detailed description of all of our training opportunities, but you also have links to handouts (still working on adding some of these) and listings of existing training dates.

Let me know what you think as this is still a work in progress.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Future ILS Trainings

Our intermediary trainings on WorkFlows and the EPS were offered in August. Those were WorkFlows Searching, WorkFlows Holds, and EPS OPAC Searching. We offered these trainings to fill an immediate training need while we figured out what the permanent structure of the trainings would be.

The WorkFlows Searching and the EPS OPAC Searching will be absorbed into Search Strategies. The Search Strategies Training Team will meet in early October. In that meeting, we will finalize the new structure of the four-day training. The new ILS has made it necessary to review and restructure three out of the four days. A tentative structure has been agreed upon, with some particulars needing to be ironed out.

And, of course, the structure of the four-day training affects the Search Strategies Refreshers. And the tentative agreement allows us to go ahead and schedule a Search Strategies Catalog Refresher on October 4, 1:30-4:00pm. This Refresher will include searching tips for both WorkFlows and the EPS OPAC.

But what about holds? Well, placing holds is not really classified as "searching", and Search Strategies needs to remain focused on searching. So holds will now be covered in a new required class for new reference staff called Introduction to WorkFlows. This class will cover basic searching, holds, marking items missing, discarding items, sending items to Tech Services, changing Item IDs, adding Circ Notes, etc.

So keep your eye out for future training opportunities. There will be plenty.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Internet Security Alerts

Have you ever received this message while surfing the Web?

Security Alert
You likely came across this message when you were filling out an application of some sort, which makes this message seem scarier than it is.

"But what does this mean?! What should I do? Do I want to continue?! NO!!!"

This message touches on a great fear for many people that surf the Web...the fact that "It will be possible for others to view information you send"!!!

However, you can ignore this message. It carries little weight.


Which is OK. I know this message came up right after you completed your application, but this message is letting you know that you are leaving a secure area. Using Microsoft's words:

Microsoft Internet Explorer generates this warning message to let you know that you are leaving a Web page that is using Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) for security.

So fret not. No one will be able to view the information you just entered into the application. However, once you leave that secure area, then, yes, other people could possibly view what you are doing online.

When you think about it, this is an annoying message. Think of it this way. When you leave your house in the morning, do you really need a sign that states, "You are about to leave a secure area. It will be possible for others to view what you do. Do you want to continue?... Yes or No."

If you come across other "scary" messages while surfing the Web, open up another window (by pressing CTRL+N on the keyboard), go to your favorite search engine, and type the message exactly as you see it. You will then find several explanations.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Search Engines For Kids

Pulse2.0 conducted a survey to see which search engines for kids do their job best. Click here to see who won!


Monday, August 20, 2007

Gale Databases Now Offer Search Alerts

While searching our Gale databases, you will be given the option to sign up for Search Alerts. This will notify you whenever a new article matches your search terms. You have two options. You can enter your email address and Gale will notify you via email. Or, you can subscribe to an RSS feed and be notified via your feed reader.

Click here to see the Distant Librarian post which includes snapshots.

Friday, August 17, 2007

More About Downloadable Audio Books and iPods talks about libraries offering downloadable audio books (or E-Audio Books) via Overdrive. I talked about this in January in which I describe how these audio books are not compatible with iPods. suggests that we should move away from explaining to customers why the audio books do not work with iPods, or move away from assessing blame to some entity as to why the audio books do not work with iPods. In her words:

You can say “Here is this service we are providing you. Yes it won’t work on an/your iPod. Yes there are other ways to get audiobooks for your iPod and some of them are even free...

...What do we usually say? Well if my anecdotal experience is any indication — take with a grain of salt of course — we say “Yes you can check out an audiobook via Overdrive. No it won’t work on your iPod. This is the fault of [insert suspected faultmaker — whether it’s Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Overdrive].” and then the story ends there. We can do better.

I like this. This takes an unpleasant situation and turns it into a situation in which the library is still providing information on what the customer needs.

Oh, and by the way, she then points out another blog (openculture) which lists a TON of free downloadable audio books that will work with iPods.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Google Explains The Data They Collect From You and Why

Here is a video about Google's privacy methods. It also gives you some insight as to how search engines work. About 5 minutes long.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I need somebody. Not just anybody. You know I need a Help menu. Yes... a help menu. If you are having trouble with Word, or Excel, or PowerPoint, or Outlook, or our new Online Catalog, etc., use the Help menu.

Generally, help menus can be searched via keyword. For example, if you want to know how to view someone else's calendar in Outlook 2003, you would go to help and type something like "view someone else's calendar". The first topic is exactly what you need.

Or, you are having trouble printing an Excel document so that it fits all on one page?... Go to Help and type something like "print on same page" and look through the results.

Or, you saw someone's PowerPoint presentation and you liked the way the words faded in and out. Go to Help and type something like "words fade in and out".

Help menus can also be searched via a table of contents. For instance, if you are using Outlook Web Access and you click on Help, you will not receive a keyword search option. Rather, you will see a table of contents. Scroll through the table of contents to see what you need.
The same is true for the Help menu on our public home page. Click on Help and look to the left sidebar for the contents.

Also, general Web searches work great as well, especially for error messages. You would be surprised at what you find on the Web in regards to doing certain tasks. Probably nearly a third, if not more, of all of my visits to this blog are from folks around the world doing google searches on different topics.

Help menus are a great, easy, underutilized resource. Try it the next time you are in a bind. I know that I certainly do appreciate them being around.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

See More Messages at One Time in Outlook Web Access

One of the more frustrating things with Outlook Web Access is that you can only see 25 messages at a time. You then have to use the navigational buttons at the top right in order to move around within your Inbox (or other folder). Or worse, you may not even realize that you are not seeing all of your messages...

You can quickly change the number of messages that you see at one time.

  • Click on Options.
  • Then, under the header Messaging Options, you will see Number of items to display per page.
  • Change that from 25 to something larger...say 100!
  • Then click Save and Close.
There you go!

Find Stuff Easier in Outlook by Using Type-Down Search

Your Inbox (and all other folders) will list messages with three main columns. Those are: From, Subject, and Received. Generally, you want your messages sorted by Received. However, if you are looking for a message about a certain topic or from a specific person, you can click on the column heading to resort your messages (ex. click on From to sort your messages in alphabetical order by the person who sent you the message).

You can then scroll to find the message you need. Or... you can use something called "Type-Down Searching". Basically, after you click on the column heading, type the first couple of letters and Outlook will automatically take you to that part of the list. Example, I sort my Inbox by From as I am looking for all messages from Paul. I then type paul and I am taken to that part of the list (actually, I probably could have typed pa). This works with Subjects as well, but not Received.

Give it a try. This works in both Outlook Web Access and Outlook 2003.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Office Clutter: Physical and Virtual

The Commercial Appeal had an article on the August 5 paper which talks about office clutter, its effect on productivity, and what to do about it (Office Clutter Decreases Productivity).

You can find some good advice as far as the physical clutter that can hamper your productivity. However, virtual clutter has the same effect.

If you have an organized physical workspace, then you probably have a file system in which you store documents related to various aspects of your job. Your computer and your email should have folders with the same structure as your physical file system.

Do you have a file folder for a certain committee in your filing cabinet? Then create a folder in your Outlook account with the same name. Then move all pertinent and important messages regarding that committee into the folder. Not sure how to do that? Outlook 2003 users click here. Outlook Web Access users click here.

Also, you should have a folder on your computer with the same title. This is where you can store all electronic documents regarding that committee (agendas, minutes, stats, etc.). To create a folder, access your My Documents folder. Click on File, point to New, then select Folder. Name the folder then move existing files into that folder by clicking and dragging.

Also, while you are at it, delete all those messages and documents that you no longer need. On top of that, create an Archive folder to keep things that you just can't throw away.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Items Lost While In Transit for a Hold?

Go Live 2We discovered that when a book is INTRANSIT to a location because of a hold, the customer's hold is attached to that single item. Therefore, if that item is lost along they way, then the customer is bypassed by other people in line when other copies become available. Until we identify the fact that this item has not made it to the pick-up location, then the customer is in HOLD LINGOOOOOoooooo!!! Marking the item missing will allow the customer to get the next available copy. For more information on this scenario, see What To Do When An Item is Lost While In Transit for a Hold.

Customer Confusion About Holds on 7-Day BOOK-APOPs with Copies Already Turned into 21-Day BOOKs

Go Live 2As you know, customers cannot place holds on BOOK-APOP or DVD-NEW items (we check them out to the agency hold account and set them aside until the end of the business day). However, agencies have some leeway as far as turning some BOOK-APOP copies into BOOKs. Well, as soon as one copy is turned into a BOOK, then customers can place holds on those 21-day BOOKs.

This is fine when a library staff member can explain this to a customer, but now that customers can place holds online, it could lead to some customer confusion. If a customer attempts to place a hold on a 7-day BOOK-APOP, they will receive a "rejection notice". However, if one or more copies are turned into a 21-Day BOOK, then the customer will not receive a "rejection notice" when they attempt to place that book on hold online.

They will be able to place a hold; however, that hold only applies to the books that are no longer BOOK-APOP. Yet, the customer does not know that several of the available BOOK-APOP copies cannot satisfy the hold. The customer does not know that they are waiting for one of the BOOK copies to be turned back in.

So keep that in mind if a customer calls confused as to why they are not getting notified about a hold.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More Go Live Wiki Upgrades

Go Live 2I have added some new content to the Go Live Wiki over the past several weeks:

The Trapping Holds on the Picklist section has been expanded to include:

The instructions for the Edit Circ Notes... tool have been expanded to include specific instructions for:
I also added instructions for what to do when an item goes missing that is in transit to a pick-up location for a hold.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Practice Online Job Application

Beth at Highland passed on this useful tool. It is a practice online job application. Customers can practice before they jump on a real application.

Click here to give it a spin.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Holds Graph Places Entire Process on One Page

Go Live 2I created a Holds graphs which displays the entire hold placement process on one single page. This may be helpful for some of you.

Click here to view it. It is also linked to under the Holds section of the Go Live wiki.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Strengthen Your Skills in August

Go Live 2Now that you have a few weeks of live action, you now probably know what your strengths and weaknesses are in regards to the new ILS. So, in order to help you strengthen your weaknesses, we will be offering some trainings during the month of August.

WorkFlows Searching will be offered August 1 from 2-4pm and on August 16 from 10am-12pm. This will focus on search strategies using both the Keyword and Browse type searching.

WorkFlows Holds will be offered August 7 from 2-4pm and on August 21 from 2-4pm. This will focus on...well, holds.

Finally, EPS OPAC will be offered August 9 from 2-4pm and on August 22 from 10am-12pm. This will focus on search strategies for the online public access catalog.

Contact Cynthia to register for these trainings. Bring your specific questions to the trainings as well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CareerBuilder Being Blocked?

I was speaking recently with a customer who was not pleased that our filtering technology appeared to be blocking the popular job searching site, CareerBuilder. While using CareerBuilder, the customer would sporadically come across our filtering message stating that the page had been blocked.

Sam and I spent some time investigating and discovered that CareerBuilder is not being blocked. Rather, one of the advertisements that appears on CareerBuilder is causing our filter to trip. This add is attempting to automatically divert us to the ErrorSafe website.

ErrorSafe has been linked to the type of virus that I spoke of before, in which it tries to infect your computer, then sell you the solution. NICE!

If you should come across the filtering message while using CareerBuilder, my best advice is to press the back button. As you may know, ads that appear on web pages change frequently. Perhaps the offending ad will not be included the next time the page is loaded.

If this annoyance continues, you may have to use another job search engine that does not include malicious advertisements.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

User IDs for Agencies

Go Live 2Your WorkFlows life will be drastically improved once you make the connection that you check items out to internal user accounts in order to mark items missing, to discard items, to send items to tech services, to set aside items for repair or story hour, etc.

Knowing which User ID to check the item out to just became easier. On the agency abbreviation page of the wiki, I added links to many new pages that list personalized user id's for each agency. Click here to check it out.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Importance of Trapping Your In-Hand Holds

Go Live 2A customer calls and asks if you have a copy of a certain book. You check the shelf and you do indeed have it. You place that hold with the pick-up location's agency hold account (cenhold, levhold, etc.).

What is the next crucial step???


Placing a hold just lets the computer know that a customer wants a book. Trapping lets the computer know that a staff member has that book in their hand.

So what happens if you forget to trap? Let's say that you have placed the hold. You then put the P-slip in the book with the customer's last name, first initial, and the current date. You then put that item on the hold shelf.

Guess what will appear on the next Pick List? You got it. That same book. The Pick List shows all available items that have holds placed on them. You placed the hold when you had it in your hand. But you forgot to trap it.

So now, you or a co-worker is now looking for a book that is currently on the hold shelf.

So... along with the advice in the previous post, if you see a hold on the Pick List for an agency hold account, then something is wrong. So what do we do?

In the end, all we want is for the customer to get the material that they need. Every situation is different and there is not one answer. It may take some creative thinking in order for us to do that. If you need some help with that creative thinking, just give me a ring and we'll work it out together.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Placing Holds for Items Available at Other Locations

Go Live 2We have received our first Pick List report! I have received notice that a few copy level holds were placed with agency hold accounts on items showing available at other agencies. Copy level, agency hold account holds should only be used when a staff member has the item in their hand.

If you are helping a customer who wants a book placed on hold that is available at another location, you have a couple of options:

First, you can suggest what we have always suggested: that the customer (or you) call the location with an available copy. That location would then place a COPY level hold on the item (because they have it in their hand) with the pick-up location's hold account (pkyhold, cenhold, etc.). This guarantees immediately that the customer will have a copy. Because we are placing a hold with an agency hold account, the customer will NOT be notified when this item reaches the pickup location. We give the same advice we always have ("I will send this book, it should be there tomorrow, but I would suggest calling to make sure it got there"). This process is described in detail here.

Second, if the customer would rather not call or if the location with an available copy is currently closed, you can place a TITLE level hold on the item. It is necessary to have the customer's library card number since it is not possible for a staff member to get their hands on the book. This hold will appear on the owning agency's next pick list report. The customer will then be automatically notified as soon as the item reaches the pickup location. These are the same procedures we follow if all copies are checked out, detailed here.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Friday, June 08, 2007

Go Live Wiki Upgrades

Go Live 2I added some content to the Go Live wiki. The new content fleshes out all of the tasks you can accomplish with the "check out tool".

You use this tool to mark items missing, place holds on 7 day books or new DVDs, send items to various departments in Tech Services, etc.

Click here and take a look when you get a chance.

Also, I noticed that some people were getting lost in the wiki due to the various links to different pages. Therefore, I placed all Go Live contents on one page. You can still view the original version, or you can use this page.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Detailed Display Too Daunting?

Go Live 2When using WorkFlows, you have the option to view an item's Detailed Display. You click on the Detailed Display button at the bottom of the screen. This shows you all sorts of information regarding an item. For some of us, maybe too much information!

However, if your search retrieves only one record, then you will be taken automatically to the Detailed Display. For some of us trying to get used to the initial search screen, this can be a bit daunting.

Not to fear, though. Escaping the grips of the Detailed Display is not a hard thing to do. All you need to do is click on the Return to Search button at the bottom of the screen. This will return you to the familiar search screen.

Now, don't disregard the Detailed Display. It is a great thing! How else will you find out how many people have a hold on a book? Also, viewing the Detailed Display of an item saves that Item ID, which makes certain tasks (such as placing holds on an item or marking an item missing) easier.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Differences Between Old and New (Due Date; Where an Item is Going)

Go Live 2Here is an example of how the holds process can alter the way we have done things in the past (besides the obvious changes of actually doing holds...).

When we are searching the catalog with WorkFlows, you will see that some items are INTRANSIT. This is the new word for "Route". However, you do not see where the item is being sent. In IG or Circle, you could see where the item was going.

This comes in handy when a customer wants an item and there are no available items except for one or more items that say Route (in Circle) or INTRANSIT (in WorkFlows).

Currently, if an item is in "route" or "intransit" back to its owning location, then we could safely assume that the item would be available soon. We could tell the customer to check back in the next day or so.

Also currently, if an item is in "route" towards another location besides the owning location, we could safely assume that the item was NOT going to be available for a while as it was being sent to another location for a customer to check out.

WorkFlows does NOT say where the book is going. It only says INTRANSIT. So are we losing some functionality????

No. We have to back up a bit and realize that our new holds service has a greater impact on our procedures.

If an item is INTRANSIT, then check to see if there are any holds on the book. If the item has a hold placed, then we can assume that the item is intransit to the pickup location. The item will not be available until the customer who has placed the hold on the book has checked it out and then returned it.

If an item is INTRANSIT, and it does NOT have any holds on the book, then you can safely assume that the book is being sent back to its home location.

On top of all of this, you can offer to place a hold on the book for the customer and as soon as that book becomes available (one way or another), they will be notified.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.). All questions and answers will end up on the Holds Discussion page.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Some Differences Between Old and New

Go Live 2With the new ILS comes a new lingo. This lingo will be solidified over the next year, but let me run over some differences between the old and the new systems.

In the old system, you routed items in and out. This was used to move books to other locations to be picked up by customers. This was also used to send items to Tech Services.

You do not route items in or out with the new system. You "put items in transit" or "receive items in transit". Receiving items in transit is easy. You click on...this is a hard one..."Receive Items in Transit" and scan the item ID (barcode). Putting items in transit is a little different. You don't click on "Put Items in Transit". Items are automatically placed in transit as a RESULT of another action.

For example, you place a hold on a book in hand for a customer to be picked up at another location. You then trap that hold. That item is now in transit to the pick up location.

Also, we used to route items to tech services. With the new system, we will basically check out an item to a tech services department. Each department has a "user account" that you check the item out to.

For example, if you work at the Raleigh branch and you are sending a book to Material Services, you would basically check the book out to the RALMATSVS account (don't worry, these accounts names are all listed on the screen).

When Material Services is done with the book, they used to route it back to its home location. In the new system, all they need to do is Discharge the book. Since the book was "checked out" to them, as soon as they discharge the book, it is automatically placed in transit back to the home location.

Someone in Raleigh would then use the Receive Items in Transit tool as soon as that book made it back.

In the old system, we used to withdraw items. With the new system, we will discard. Much like sending the book to tech services, you would "check the book out" to your agencies discard account. For example, if you worked at Levi and you discarded a book, you would use the check out tool to check the book out to LEVDISCARD. The book will then show DISCARD in the catalog and will be shadowed from customers.

Why individual agency accounts? This allows you to easily view all the items that your agency has sent to cataloging, or what items your agency has discarded.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Use Alt-F4 to Close Your WorkFlows Windows

Go Live 2As we have progressed with training, more and more of you are going back to your agency and practicing your WorkFlows skills. You may also realize that when you try to close WorkFlows, it states that a message appears saying their are open wizards that require your attention.

Basically you have to close all the various screens that you have opened throughout your session. And depending on what all you have done, this could take a while.

Not necessarily. Use this keyboard shortcut that I mentioned in a previous post. Press and hold the Alt key on your keyboard. Then repeatedly press the F4 key until all windows are closed. Alt-F4 closes this current window. Pressing it repeatedly closes windows rapidly.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.). All questions and answers will end up on the Holds Discussion page.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Summer/Fall Technical Training Dates Announced

I have added the dates for the late summer/fall technical trainings. Some new classes will be added to the rotation:

  • Wiki Reading and Editing
  • Typing Parts 1,2,3
  • Excel: How to Create Lists
  • Files!
  • Brochures and Pictures (once one class) is split into two separate classes.
I will explain more about these classes in the near future.

Here is the list:

Wiki Reading and Editing

Wednesday, July 18, 9-10:30am

Word: How Do I Format My Document?
Tuesday, July 24, 2-3:30pm

Typing Part 1 of 3
Tuesday, July 31, 9-10:30am

Word: What's Wrong with My Document?
Tuesday, August 7, 9-10:30am

Thursday, August 23, 2-3:30pm

Typing Part 2 of 3
Wednesday, August 29, 9-10:30am

Word: What's Up With Bullets, Numbers, and Tabs?
Thursday, September 13, 2-3:30pm

Wiki Reading and Editing
Thursday, September 27, 2-3:30pm

Typing Part 3 of 3
Tuesday, October 2, 9-10:30am

Files!: How to Open 'Em, Save 'Em, Attach 'Em, Upload 'Em
Wednesday, October 10, 9-10:30am

Word: How Do I Customize a Resume Template?
Thursday, October 18, 2-3:30pm

Excel: How Do I Create Lists?
Thursday, October 25, 9-10:30am

How Do I Make a Brochure (Word and Web)
Thursday, November 8, 9-10:30am
(better if participant has taken Files! or is familiar with working with files)

How Do I Find, Add, Customize Pictures (Word and Web)
Thursday, November 15, 2-3:30pm
(better if participant has taken Files! or is familiar with working with files)

How Do I Create Charts (Excel and Web)
Wednesday, November 28, 9-10:30am
(must have taken Excel Lists or be familiar with Excel)

Wiki Reading/Editing
Wednesday, December 5, 9-10:30am

IM on the Tech Train

UPDATE: Service discontinued. Test failed.

OK, so I'm investigating something here. Bear with me. I don't instant message but I couldn't resist trying something out that may make it easier for some folks to ask questions.

On the sidebar, you see a window that allows you to type whatever. If you have a question (or if you have an answer), then add it here.

You should be able to just click and type. We'll see how this works. If you are getting this through a reader, you have to actually visit this blog to see what I am talking about.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Somebody Call St. Louis. We Need More Rams!

Go Live 2As we have just discovered, some of our computers need more RAM. The size of RAM (and everything else in the computer world) is measured in bytes. The more bytes you have, the better:

1024 bytes equals a kilobyte (KB)
1024 kilobytes equals a megabyte (MB)
1024 megabytes equals a gigabyte (GB)

RAM comes in any number of sizes. Generally around 96 MB, 128 MB, 256 MB, 512 MB, 1024 MB (or 1 GB).

Now that we know about size, let's discuss RAM. What is RAM? RAM is Random Access Memory. OK, so what does that mean? It is called "random" because the memory can be accessed in any order (unlike a tape or CD which requires the computer to physically move some sort of reading device to locate the desired memory).

ILS RAM Kitchen CounterTo paraphrase lifehacker, if your CPU is the cook, and your refrigerator is the hard drive, then RAM would be the kitchen counters. As the cook (CPU) gets stuff out of the fridge (hard drive) in order to cook, he has to place the stuff on the counter (RAM). If you run out of counter space, then you can't get anything else out of the fridge.

And WorkFlows is a big huge piece of pig that takes up a lot of counter space (and takes a while to get out of the fridge).

And some of our counters are smaller than others. So how do you find out how much RAM you have?

ILS RAMWhen looking at the desktop, you can right-click on My Computer (a couple staff computers could right-click. Others I tested could not). Then click on Properties. Towards the bottom-right of your window, you will see the amount of RAM (measured in KB). The picture hear shows my computer which has about 256 MB RAM.

So how do you get more RAM?

You can see the instructions from the same lifehacker post I linked to before. You open the computer and slap on a RAM stick. Getting those sticks is the first, crucial next step.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Go Live Reference Wiki Additions

Go Live 2The Go Live Reference Training wiki has a couple of new additions. First, I have added some practice questions that Philip in Cordova created. This is a great way to reinforce the contents of the training.

Next, I have added a page that lists all of the questions that come up during training that we are not able to answer. When the answer is found, we will post it there.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Monday, April 30, 2007

A Case for a Wiki

The slew of e-mails today regarding Section 8 applications got me thinking. Would it not be easier for all of us to keep track of something like this via the MPLICWiki rather than email? If you are helping a customer now, and they are wondering where they can pick up an application, you have to scan your Inbox to see what the latest word is for a specific branch (do they or do they not have applications available).

The wiki version would have a page that lists all of the branches with a note indicating whether or not they have section 8 applications...or if their air conditioner is broken...or if their typewriter is broken...or whatever special news that branch may have.

Whenever the status changes (the branch runs out of applications; the branch received a new batch of applications; the typewriter now works, etc.), someone from that branch could edit the page to notate that change (instead of sending or in addition to sending the email). The entire system would have immediate, quick access to all the special notes for all locations.

However, MPLIC is not quite ready for this yet. Currently, just about all staff are trained on the use of email. If a message needs to be sent to the system, just about anyone can do that now via email. As easy as editing a wiki can be, if we do not have the staff to make the immediate changes when necessary, then your product loses validity fairly quickly.

One of the trainings I will offer in the fall is a Wiki Editing training. This will hopefully be the first step towards building a comfort level with the MPLICWiki so that we may utilize it more in the future.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Content for MPLIC Tech Train Wiki

I recently added some instructions to the MPLIC Tech Train wiki regarding creating and sorting lists with Excel. Many of you have come to me over the years for assistance in using Excel to do just this. Here you will find answers to common tasks such as resizing, inserting, deleting columns and rows, sorting data, formatting text, etc.

Also you will find information on wrapping text (if you've used Excel before, you know that text will keep going and going unless you tell it to wrap or do something crazy like put your text in two different cells giving the impression that the text wraps to the next line...)

If you are wanting to use Excel for a list, then check here. You can also call me and I will help. Additionally, I will be adding this class to the rotation of the successful one hour classes (mainly on Word) that I offered last year. But first, we need to get past this ILS training...

Over the past few weeks, I have also added this content to the wiki:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Great Description of Aggregators/RSS Readers

See this video below from Common Craft about aggregators/rss readers. For those of you already using a reader, then you can't see the video from your reader. You can click here to see it, although since you are already using a reader so you don't have to be convinced to use one... but I like the style of this video and you may too.

There are two types of Internet users, those that use RSS and those that don't. This video is for the people who could save time using RSS, but don't know where to start.

What is the Difference Between a Blog and a Wiki?

Here is a frequent question I receive when I talk about wikis and blogs:

"What is the Difference Between a Blog and a Wiki?".

The obvious place to start is defining each:

Here is Wikipedia's definition of blog and wiki.

In short, a blog is a "website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in reverse chronological order".

A wiki is "a website that allows visitors to add, remove, edit, and change content...and allows for linking among any number of pages".

Blogs and wikis share some common traits:

  • They are both websites.
  • They are both user-generated (the content of blogs and wikis is created by the actual people who use the blogs or wikis.)
  • They both allow users to comment on the content.
What are wikis better at than blogs:
What are blogs better at than wikis:
  • Blogs are better at quickly sharing new information.
  • Blogs are better at starting and maintaining a dialog between the publisher and reader.
What are some common misconceptions about wikis:
  • A wiki is limited as an encyclopedia-type tool. Not true. Because Wikipedia is so entrenched as the shining example of what a wiki is, many people make the assumption that you can only use a wiki to create some sort of list of definitions. A new wiki is a blank slate.
  • Anyone in the world can edit every wiki. Not true. You can password protect your wiki so that only select people can add, edit, change the content.
  • Once content is changed, it is lost forever, making it susceptible to intentional or unintentional loss of information. Not true. Every rendition of a wiki page is saved. If something happens, simply change back to any past version of the page.
What are some common misconceptions about blogs:
  • A blog is just a diary. Not true. While online journals and early blogging seemed to focus more on diary-type writing, today's blogs are more varied. Blogs can focus on politics, food, travelling, technology tips, whatever.
  • Only one person can author a blog. Not true. You can set it up so that as many people can publish information on a blog. Readers will be notified who authored each post.
Or, to sum it all up, as the blog Common Craft states in it's post "Introduction to Stocks and Flows: Weblogs, Wikis, and RSS", a blog is a flow of information. A wiki is a place to stock information.

Or look at it another way. In a workplace setting, a blog replaces the bulletin board. A wiki replaces the binder-manuals.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How to Open Files

Files GibberishA couple staff have contacted me lately because they were having difficulty opening customer files. The cause of the problem was due to the fact that they were trying to use Word to open the file. And the type of file format that the customer wanted to view was not a Word document. They ended up getting gibberish like you see to the right.

Have you ever gotten that before? Basically, Word has no idea how to read the file, but he will try anyway. Much like if I tried to read a language I did not know or if I tried to explain abstract art. I'll give it a try, but you probably won't get anything useful.

So how do you know what program you are supposed to use? Just let the computer choose. Follow these instructions in this past MPLIC Tech Train blog post that explains how you use the Address Bar in Internet Explorer to view files on a customer's disk or flash drive. If you access the file directly, the computer will automatically use the best program to view the file.

In one instance, the customer wanted to view a PDF (or .pdf) file format. A PDF can only be displayed by a PDF reader, such as Adobe Reader. Click here for more information on PDFs.

In the other instance, the customer wanted to view a picture (generally a J-Peg aka .jpg file format, although many more image file formats exist).

FilesMicrosoft Word can only properly display certain types of file formats, mainly .doc files (document files).

There are many file formats out there. File format extensions can be found at the end of the file name. For example:

Healthy Websites.doc
Form 1040.pdf
Grand Canyon.jpg

For all you file format nuts out there, you can see this ENTIRE LIST OF ALL FILE TYPES...crazy.

See Also:

Search for the Format You Want

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Go Live Circulation and Reference Training Dates

Go Live 2The Go Live Reference Training dates and the Go Live Circulation Training dates have been added to the sidebar. You can also access these dates, times, and more details from the ILS blog (Circulation and Reference).

Brainstorming with the StratPlan!

By now, many of you have probably participated in a strategic planning brainstorming session. See the "We'd Be a Better Library If..." article on page 2 of the April 2007 StaffWise for further information on this process.

Since we are trying to gather ideas from as many forums as possible, why not gather ideas here as well? So, if you would like to pass on an idea, just add a comment to this post (anonymous if you so choose).

You can also contribute by sending an email to Damone or by speaking up during one of the many brainstorming sessions we are conducting.

So, we'd be a better library if...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hidden "Shadowed" Titles in the New Public Catalog

Go Live 2The online catalog on the EPS will not display "shadowed" records. In other words, titles will not display if they are missing, assumed lost, discarded, etc. This will remove any possibility that someone will request, place a hold, or even ask about any of these titles.

That does not take away the reality that a customer may remember that we had a title that has since gone missing. WorkFlows (our staff catalog interface) will show these titles when you perform a keyword search.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Google Maps (My Maps), or All About Google Maps (Part Two)

Google Maps just released a new service called My Maps. Here you can create your own map with your own marked destinations.

For an example, see this map I made of all MPLIC locations. You can add text, lines, images, and videos as well.

All About Google Maps (Part One)

Google Maps 1Google Maps is a great tool to use when helping our customers find other locations or services. For one, you have the basic services of finding any location or directions to locations.

But you also have the ability to Search Nearby for any location you find. For example, a customer asks where the nearest Notary can be found. Rather than scanning the yellow pages for anything that may be near your branch, just type the address of your branch. When Google Maps finds your branch, you will see a link that says Search Nearby. Click on it and type Notary and a list of notaries appears arranged by proximity.

Also, you can use the search to find answers to obscure questions as well. For example, I was recently helping a customer who was looking for a hair braiding place on Summer. He did not know the name or where on Summer it was located. He had searched the Yellow Pages and did not find it. He was scanning the Cole's "criss-cross" directory for every location on Summer to no avail.

I went to Google Maps and performed a search "hair braiding summer memphis tn". Several locations appeared on the sidebar with their locations pinpointed on the map. Only one was on Summer.

"Would that by Mame Hair Braiding?" I asked. He jumped up and said "YES!". I gave him the address and phone number. He had been looking for this place for about 30 minutes. Google Maps found it is less than 30 seconds.

For details on how Google Maps works, see their Help page.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

LEAP Survey and Library Programs with Computers

You recently received an e-mail from some of the current LEAP participants requesting information about your skills for programming. You may be thinking that you do not have any skills that anyone would want to know about. Let me share some ideas about computer classes that could be fun for some folks.

Currently, our computer classes focus on tasks such as mousing, web searching, sending/receiving e-mail (very basic stuff). Would it not be great to also offer classes such as How to Buy and Sell on Ebay? Or How to Share and Edit Photos Online?

I can probably develop these classes, but having never sold anything on Ebay, I may not be the right one to present it. Have you sold anything on Ebay? Would you like to show others how it is done?

Are you an expert at other specific computer topics such as MySpace, Blogger, or Flickr?

When completing this survey, keep in mind that these skills are popular right now and could probably draw a good crowd. On top of it all, it would be a lot of fun.

What Good is the Alt Key, Anyway?

What good is the Alt key on your keyboard? Combine Alt with other keys and it creates a wonderful thing: efficiency.

  • Press and hold Alt along with the underlined letters on the Menu Bar to access tools without using the mouse.
  • Press and hold Alt while repeatedly pressing the Tab key will toggle through all open windows.
  • Press Alt and F4 at the same time to close the current window. If you have a bunch of windows, press and hold Alt while pressing F4 repeatedly and all windows will close quickly.
  • Press Alt along with certain numeric codes to insert various symbols ranging from currency symbols to letters with accents. Follow this link for further information.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Send Your E-Mail Messages to "Purgatory" Before You Send Them Straight to... the Deleted Items Folder

Someone recently shared with me a tip on managing your Outlook email account. This person has set up a sort-of "purgatory" email folder for those messages that they want to delete but are not too sure if they will need them or not.

Generally, time will be the decider as to whether or not you need a message. If a month goes by and you have not needed the message, you can probably chunk it.

The staff member then can Empty their Deleted Items folder without losing the "purgatory" email items (now located in a separate folder).

This system does two things:

  • It rids their Inbox of unwanted messages.
  • It allows them to empty their Deleted Items folder more frequently, thereby giving them more space on the Exchange server.
For more information, see these MPLIC Tech Train Wiki entries:

MPLIC Tech Train...Wikified

I have been busy lately producing a new "product" that will bring our technical training documents to the next level. Rather than having various handouts uploaded to the intranet in either Word or PDF format, I have been converting these documents into wiki format. Click here to see the MPLIC Tech Train... Wikified.

Doing this will give everyone one central place to look for technical advice specially geared towards the Memphis Public Library & Information Center.

Also, since everything is in wiki format, you can utilize the wiki search tool to find the information you need quickly.

Finally, as the technical world keeps changing rapidly around us, and as we continually find better ways to work with our existing tools, the wiki format will allow for us to share, change and evolve quickly as well.

This is still a work in progress (and will continually be a work in progress), but I have completed enough for us to go ahead and share.

If you would like to suggest an addition to this wiki, let me know.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

ANSWER: What Would You Do? (Broken A: Drive)

OK, I got two answers regarding the last What Would You Do?. Both of these answers are different from what I did, but they both would have worked (sort of). Nonetheless, Mary from Children's and Laura from Bartlett are winners of booklights, which they will be receiving shortly.

Basically, our dilemma involved moving a document from one computer to another without the capability to save the file to anything (something that is necessary to send an attachment or upload to a website).

Mary suggested just copying and pasting the document into an email text box (rather than worrying about attachments). The customer could then send the message to themselves and open the document on another computer. Then they could copy and paste that into Word.

This does work, but doing so would probably strip the document of any special formatting features. However, it works. Mary gets a booklight.

And, yes Mary, having Flash Drives at all public service desks would be sweet.

Laura from Bartlett suggested just saving the document to the My Documents folder on the computer. You would not even need to move the file to another computer because then, the customer would have been able to upload the document.

Well, this does work if you are on a computer that happens to allow you to save to the My Documents folder. Also, as Laura points out, finding the My Documents folder can be quite a task. That is why I have pretty much ruled out the possibility of using the My Documents folder. However, if you know how to do it and it works, then awesome. Laura gets a booklight. Laura also suggested the Mary-technique of copying and pasting into an email message.

What I did in this situation now seems like technology overkill, but I was able to move the customer's document from one computer to another without losing any special formatting.

First, we created a Google Docs and Spreadsheets account. If a customer has an existing email, this takes about 2 minutes. We then pasted the Word document into Google Docs. Then we accessed the customers new Google Docs account from another computer. Then, Google Docs has the option to Save as a Word document (again, we do not lose any special formatting). We were then able to upload the document. We did it in a flash.

Of course, this was a fairly savvy teen who was able to go through this process easily. I may not take all customers on this journey. Of course, what is easier, pushing a customer through Google Docs or having them re-format their document?

This brings up another idea, but I'll save it for the next blog post. This one is too long as it is.

Monday, March 26, 2007

What Would You Do? (Broken A: Drive)

Here is the current installment of What Would You Do?. The first installment garnered two responses. Let's see if we can get a larger response this go around. This is a good one. One that will force you to use your Sherlock Holmes skills.

This situation occurred yesterday when I was working my Sunday Service. A student had typed a lengthy report on one of our computers. She needed to upload the report to her school's website.

Much like sending an attachment, in order to upload the report, the document has to be saved somewhere (My Documents, Floppy Disk, Flash Drive, etc.). (See this past post for more information on saving/uploading documents).

However, customers cannot save documents to our computers due to security settings. And this particular computer's A:Drive was busted. And we did not have a flash drive.

How would we upload this document? Or, how would we move this document to another computer with a working A:Drive?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Subscribing to Search Results with the New EPS

Go Live 2Customers will be able to "subscribe" to a search with the new EPS public catalog. How would they be able to do this? More and more people are utilizing web feed subscriptions as a way to handle information. You use an aggregator to subscribe to a web feed and you would then be notified whenever new content is added.

So basically, whenever you perform a search with our catalog, you can subscribe to the results. You would then be notified whenever a new item was added the the catalog that now appears in that search.

For example, a Civil War buff would subscribe to a search for "Civil War". Whenever a new item was added to the collection that included the phrase "civil war", the customer would be notified via their aggregator.

For more information on web feeds, see the previous articles I have written on that subject.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Monday, March 19, 2007

What Would You Do? Answer

When confronted with a pop-up window of unknown origins, it is best to close the window by pressing the Alt key on the keyboard in conjunction with the F4 key on the keyboard. Alt-F4 will close the current window.

Clicking on Cancel or even the X button would install the product that would introduce all sorts of problems to your computer.

Wikipedia has a nice article with links to other reviews of this type of "product".

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What Would You Do?

If you saw this message appear on your computer screen, what would you do? Place a comment with your answer.

What to do if you don't want to register for a certain website

Have you ever needed to read an article on a website (say a newspaper website) only to find out that you have to register? This registration is usually free but time consuming. And when you need to access the article to answer a customer's question, time is of the essence!

Well, a website called Bug Me Not: Bypass Compulsory Registration allows you to enter a web address of a site that is requiring registration, and it gives you a list of usernames and passwords that people have created, along with a success rate. Warning, some of these usernames and passwords are not very nice, but it gets the job done in a pinch.

Now, another option is this. We could bypass this site and create our own log ins for the sites we visit most (nytimes, commercialappeal, etc.). In fact, I am sure some of us have already created usernames and passwords for these sites. If so, send me an email and I will compile a list that we can all use.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Customer Account Capabilities with new EPS

Go Live 2Customer will be able to manage their accounts in various ways with the new EPS. They will be able to:

  • View their items they have checked out.
  • Renew those items, if they can.
  • View the items they have on hold.
  • View their position in the hold queue for each item.
  • Cancel any holds.
  • Suspend any holds.
  • View fees (and on down the line, possibly pay fees)
If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

EPS/Rooms Revisited

Go Live 2Our EPS will also utlitize a product called Rooms. The ILS blog had a good post explaining the Rooms concept. Here are some excerpts:

...Each of these Rooms features content selected and organized by library and content professionals at SirsiDynix...

EPS Rooms
...Even more significantly for MPLIC, however, we are acquiring the Rooms Builder, a Web-based tool that will allow our library staff to edit the "starter" Rooms, adding and subtracting sites and other content, as well as to create new Rooms, all without requiring knowledge of HTML.

So this will give the customer a portal to content on the Web that has been categorized and evaluated by MPLIC and SirsiDynix staff. We have certainly done that already, but this is taking it to another level. It is making it easier for the customer to find the information they need.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please let me know (email, phone, comments, wiki discussion page, etc.).

Teen Tech Camp Movie Maker Training

I have been busy lately working on a Movie Maker training for the Teen Tech Camp Team. This year, just like last, the teens will be tasked with creating a small movie about the library. They will be armed with a laptop, a Labtec Webcam, and Movie Maker software (a free Microsoft program).

Each member of the Teen Tech Camp Team will participate in a Movie Maker training so that they can assist the teens throughout the week. I have spent some time with the software so that I can conduct this training, but if you have experience with Movie Maker software and know of any tricks, please pass them on.

Here is a link to the training document I have created.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Librarians vs. The Terminator

The embedded movie below started out as a project of a Director of Technology for a High School.

Here is a list of sources.

So, does this make you want to hang it up and buy a ranch in Wyoming? Or perhaps The Terminator or The Matrix were not too far off?

But what role do libraries (and librarians) play in this current and future scenario?

Jakob Nielsen, the "king of web usability", recently wrote about lifelong computer skills. Basically, he says that schools should move away from teaching applications [ex. Word, Excel] directly and move towards teaching broader concepts, because today's applications will be completely different than tomorrow's.

I disagree and think Mr. Nielsen was trying to prove a point, but, as Techdirt states, the way to learn a concept is to see it in action. The only way to see it in action is to know the applications.

Nielsen then moves on to the part I agree with. He lists a number of concepts that should be taught, the first three of which librarians can have great impact.

  • Search Strategies
  • Information Credibility
  • Information Overload
So what role do libraries (and librarians) play in this current and future scenario?

We can continue providing access to the computer applications (Web, Word, Excel, etc.). We can help them with common stumbling blocks that occur with these applications. We can steer customers to better search queries and more reliable sources. And we can help make sense of all this information.

If librarians cannot do this, the world will certainly be taken over by computers. We don't want that, do we?