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!

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