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Today is day two of Library Day In the Life Round 8.  I started the day with a 3 1/2 hour Reference shift.  Reference shifts are always interesting.  My library is in the major city of the county and is surrounded by rural areas, a major university, a community college, and the state border.  So the questions run the gamut from basic to very scholarly.  In the  history of Olean it was a place where people would over winter before heading out west on the Allegheny river.  Also, it has a lot of oil history and there was mob activity during prohibition; it had the nickname of “Little Chicago” during that time.  Therefore, local history is also the source of many Reference transactions.

I am the director of our Public Computing Center.  We run classes and tutoring sessions.  We don’t have enough room to have a permanent teaching lab with the SMART board, so we have to set the lap up each time there is a class.  Today’s class was Organizing E-mail.  We have honed our skills that we can quickly set up and tear down the lab quickly.

While on the Reference Desk I entered names into the Winter Reading database.  Sign up for the program just started yesterday and we had 19 people signed up as of this morning.  Anyone who turns in a completed Winter Reading BINGO board will receive a prize along with an invitation to the Winter Reading party.  At that party we will have a drawing for a “Cozy Up and Read” basket.  I decided I am going to crochet an infinity scarf to include in the basket.  We are offering patrons a “Free” sticker for one space on the BINGO board if they fill out a short survey on the library.  The survey has questions about various services in the library and should give us some good feedback.

You never know what e-mail is going to bring when you are a librarian.  Today I received an e-mail that stated that I needed to make my reservations at the hotel in Geneva for a conference I have to go to at the end of April.  I start to call the number while I continue to read and there it is… “you will need to make a presentation to the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) program officer and be an available to answer any questions they may have.”  INSTANT HEADACHE.  I felt kind of ambushed.  I know, I have a few months to prepare it, but it still stresses me out.

Another job duty that I inherited is the Brown Bag Book Club.  We meet every 3rd Tuesday of the month to discuss a book.  I had the book list made up from Jan-June.  People have been asking for the July – Dec. list.  I read all the books before I put them on the list, so I was still trying to make decisions on what books I wanted to include.  Finally today, after many inquiries, I decided to just bite the bullet and make the list.

Right before I left, I made a quick visual tutorial for downloading eBooks to the Kindle.  The Kindle is different from other eReaders  and confusion seems to abound.  Hopefully this will make everything clearer.

My director and asst. director convinced me to go to a meeting with them tomorrow morning at System headquarters.  So, I will drive from my house to Olean (about a 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hour commute) to then get in a car and travel another hour or so to Jamestown, go to a meeting, and then travel another hour or so back to Olean.  Should be an interesting day.

Twice a year I participate in the Library Day in the Life Project.  Some years I exclusively use Twitter, but other years (like this one) I also blog and post pictures on Flickr.  The Library Day in the Life Project is designed to let library workers of all kinds share the joy and challenges of working in a library (while still maintaining patron privacy).  By sharing these experiences, I hope that others will have a fuller picture of what it is like to work in a library (it is NOT books and cats all the time).

A typical Monday schedule for me is working 10-6.  On Mondays I work on the Reference Desk from 3-6 which happens to be the busiest time for the Reference Desk and the Public Access Computers.  At our library many students as well as their tutors come to use the library right after school. Sometimes the wait time for our public computers can be up to 45 minutes.  Each patron is allowed 1 hour a day on the public computers and many patrons, not only young adults, choose the 3-6 period to use their 1 hour.

Even though today I felt like I was spinning my wheels, I did get a lot done when I think about it.  I am the director for our Public Computing Center – a BTOP project through an ARRA grant.  Also, at the end of last year we lost our Adult Programming librarian so I have also assumed that role.  On top of that I am the “techie” librarian and maintain all of our social networking sites.  I also am in charge of a nice chunk of the collection, including religion, medical, biography, literature, audiobooks, CDs, and video games. (I also have other Dewey sections such as Library Science, Social Groups, etc.)  I can tell you I am never without something to do.

Today consisted of responding to e-mails, suggesting a potential adult program to my director, updating the electronic sign and all the social media sites with Feburary’s calendar of event, sending out an e-mail blast reminding patrons that the Teen and Adult Winter Reading program started today and to sign up, ordering books and audiobooks, tracking grant related reference questions, working on my plan for the Technology Petting Zoo we are holding on February 25th, and of course my Reference Shift. Most popular category of Reference question right now? Taxes of course!

Since it is 2 in the morning and I have to get up in another 4 hours for work, I will leave it at that for Monday.  I will post later today after I work 9-5 with more details about my day.

And of course I had to add the obligatory cat picture:

So, I can finally speak openly about the grant I have been working on.  Anyone who knows me personally knows that I have been a bit stressed lately.  Well, up until last week I knew we had federal stimulus money (ARRA) money that was suppose to be coming to our library, but NYS had not yet released it. (Part of the whole budget fiasco.)   I couldn’t really say anything to anyone until the money was officially released.  Of course, while I was on vacation in NYC last week, I got the notification that the money was being released.

Here are some of the details of the grant (taken word for word from the NYS Library page):

The New York State Library, a unit of the Office of Cultural Education within the New York State Education Department, has received a federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) award in the Public Computer Center category as part of Round One funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  Federal stimulus funding of $9,521,150 and $5,418,370 in matching funds will be used to create public access computer centers in 30 public libraries and 5 E-mobile computer training units. This project will enable public libraries to extend hours, upgrade connectivity, add more than 800 new public computer workstations, and provide access to 24/7 job search resources in 41 economically distressed upstate New York counties. More than 6 million New York residents will be served through this initiative.

BTOP Public Computer Center Criteria and Project Goals:

  • Increase  public access to high speed broadband services in high-need communities
  • Serve vulnerable populations (unemployed, underemployed or other vulnerable populations: non-English speakers, seniors, disabled, etc.)
  • Provide technical support and other resources to support job search and career advancement through community anchor institutions such as libraries
  • Advance the use of E-services for training, employment, digital literacy, and education
  • Stimulate employment and provide job opportunities

Award Period: February 1, 2010 – January 31, 2013

Scope of the Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary Project:

  • Public access computer and teleconferencing centers with high speed broadband services will be created in 30 libraries in economically distressed communities
  • Five E-mobile computing training units with high speed broadband services will be deployed in rural locations and underserved communities
  • The E-mobile and public access computer centers will provide 24/7 online access to job search resources as well as federal, state, and local E-government resources
  • Services will be freely available to six million residents in 41 New York State upstate counties

So, we will be receiving approximately $250,000 in ARRA funds.  With these funds (and our match of $162,000 of in-kind) we will be purchasing laptops, a few desktops, and videoconferencing equipment (plus materials and software, etc).  We will provide classes and tutoring.  In order to do all this we will also be creating some more work for people (see my previous post about  needing a librarian).  We will also be creating a plan to try and sustain this program after the end of the grant.

So, that is what has been making my head swim a bit lately.  I literally received an e-mail today that said “the White House liason wants to know…”  So much for the stereotype of the quiet librarian reading books and “shh”ing people.  So, wish me luck and I will keep you updated!

(Oh, I almost forgot – while doing this I am also setting up a brand new video gaming collection for the library.  We are the first ones in our system  to do this, so I am doing it all from scratch!  How do I get myself in to these things???)

On May 7, 2010 at the Ramada Hotel & Conference Center in Amherst, NY, WNYLRC held a conference called “Gadgets and Gear: A Tech Gathering.”  Presentations were given by Meredith Farkas, Head of Instructional Initiatives at Norwich University, VT and Sue Polanka, Head of Reference and Instruction at Wright State University Libraries, OH.  In addition to the two speakers, there were demonstrations of various mobile devices that would be useful for libraries (including an iPad!!!)  I have to say, after seeing all the eReaders demonstrated, I personally do not feel the need to have one (other than the iPad, but that is not strictly an eReader).  I feel that there is too many problems with DRM at this time to make it worth while to have one.  Also, and this may be the gadget geek in me, I would want something that did more than just had eBooks on it.  I was prepared to be wowed by the Nook – something I had always thought I would want, but even that turned out to be a bit of a let down.

Meredith Farkas’ presentation was entitled “The Library in Your Pocket: Mobile Trends for Libraries.”  A link to materials she used in the presentation can be found at She told the audience that she was pragmatic about emerging technologies, she had a father who was an early adapter of technologies and she remembers being able to play with them once he no longer used them (which was usually in a couple of months).

  • 4.1 billion text messages are sent every day
  • By 2020 – mobile devices will be the way people primarily access the web
  • 94% of students send and receive text messages
  • Big trends is apps for smartphones – the apps need to be built for every different OS on mobile phones (e.g. an iPhone app, a Droid app, a Blackberry app)
  • HTML5 is still under consideration by the W3C.  HTML5 will be able to run an application regardless of the OS and without plugins.  It will make Flash obsolete (Flash is a closed system).
  • Google Voice built its website using HTML5
  • Mobile social software apps are the most popular apps.
  • 2D codes are a “new” trend.  The most popular is the QR code seen throughout Europe and Asia.  It is not as popular yet in the US.
  • Microsoft has it’s own 2D code known as Microsoft Tag.
  • QR codes are being used by cultural institutions to provide more information on displays/exhibits.
  • Google is promoting QR codes heavily with it “favorite places“.
  • Kaywa, i-nigma, and beetagg work well as readers
  • RFID and mobile phones is a trend that is not here yet, but something to think about.  Used phone as credit card, library card, etc.
  • Layar and Acrossair are browsers that are used with augmented reality apps.
  • Google Goggles is an augmented reality that works only with Droid phones.
  • TAT augmented ID not available yet, but something to think about.
  • Media literacy is knowing what to share online and what not to post.  Privacy issues and making sure you don’t put your foot in your mouth (by posting on Twitter how much your job sucks, stc.)
  • You need to go back frequently and check your privacy settings, esp on Facebook.  Facebook is one of the biggest offenders on privacy right now.
  • Information literacy now includes the social web.  Teach people how to find out where the data comes from that they are seeing on these social sites and how do they know it is reliable.
  • When looking at your library’s mobile needs, assess your users.  How do they access the web?
  • You can use Twitter for proactive reference help.
  • When designing a mobile site for the library – ask yourself what services would your users want to use on their mobile devices?  (Most will not want to do in depth database research on a mobile device.)
  • Also determine what services you can make available on a mobile site?  Are you going to make a separate mobile version of your site (makes most sense) or are you going to just have mobile devices just use a different style sheet?
  • Detection algorithm – you can set up your site to detect how users are accessing it.  It will redirect to the mobile version of the site for mobile users.  You can find these algorithms online and just plug in your library website’s info.

A Good Mobile User’s Site

  • Break the information into tasks (hours, directions, find books)
  • Most important content should be at the top
  • Minimize the need to scroll
  • Icon with text links are ideal
  • Shorten text to the minimal amount needed
  • Minimize the need to type

Included in a good library mobile website

  • Catalog search
  • Databases (IF they are optimized for mobile devices)
  • Circ info (due dates, holds, etc)
  • Reference info
  • Hours

You need to make things task specific.  Most people do not visit the FAQs on websites.

  • There are mobile site generators on the web that can “mobify” your site.  A good one is “Mobile Site Generator” from the UNC libraries.
  • Another set of tools you want to become familiar with when creating mobile content are emulators/simulators.  These will show you how mobile sites will look on different devices.  There is a list of emulators/simulators on Meredith’s page from this conference.
  • Some libraries are making library apps for mobile phones.  If you want to do this, do it in addition to your mobile website, not instead of it.
  • SirsiDynix has an app for the iPhone called BookMyne.  WorldCat has a mobile app called Boopsie.
  • Library Anywhere from LibraryThing creates a mobile app for your library at a relatively low cost.
  • Overdrive also has a mobile interface (which uses a QR code to download to your mobile device!)
  • One of the easiest ways to make your special collections (photos) available as a mobile application is to add them to Flickr.
  • Location Aware Technologies can help patrons find a book in the library.  (e.g. Smart Library at Oulu University in Finland, Mobile Oxford Portal, and Durham (UK) Technology-Enhanced Campus)
  • QR Codes in the stacks could take patrons to a mobile version of the catalog.
  • QR codes at the front door of the library could send patrons to the mobile site.
  • Augmented Reality in the library could show subjects available on a particular shelf.
  • Text messaging button in the catalog that could send call number and title to a patron’s phone.
  • Anything with a RSS feed can be converted into a text message.  Patrons could receive updated info from blog posts, etc as a text message (opt in).
  • Mosio’s Text a Librarian software can be used for SMS reference as well as some other services (see Meredith’s post for this presentation).
  • Screencasts should be used for instructional videos.  (List on screencasting software can be found here.)
  • Podcast ideas – research tips, library instruction, book reviews, programs.
  • Could make handouts with QR codes on them that could take people to more information than can be fit on the sheet.
  • QR codes in the stacks could link patrons to subject guides relevant to that stack.

Sue Polanka was the second speaker.  She has a blog called “No Shelf Required” and has a book coming out this summer bu the same name.  She discussed eBooks and eReaders and what their future is within the library community.  The name of her presentation was “eBook Devices & Libraries.”

  • eReaders can fulfill ILL requests quickly.  If there is something a library does not have that can be purchased through an eBook provider, the patron does not have to wait.  The cost may be cheaper than ILL fees.
  • eReaders can help in demand driven purchasing of materials.  Patrons could be allowed to take out an eReader and purchase one title on the library’s account.  The eReader would then be a collection of patron picked titles.
  • eReaders go to consumers directly for purchases.  Libraries are trying to squeeze in the middle of this business model.
  • Overdrive, EBL, and NetLibrary are the most friendly (compatible) companies when selecting materials to be lent out for eReaders.
  • EBL’s content is available to 24 different eBook readers.  It uses Adobe Digital Editions as it’s basis.
  • There are about 99 different eReaders out there and the number is growing.

What makes eBooks incompatible on some readers?

  • DRM
  • Software places limits
  • Excludes printing, sharing, and downloading
  • There is a built in safety net for publishers.

The standard is EPUB.  It is an open standard – a file extension on an XML file.  Sony & iPad have adopted EPUB as their standard.  The trouble is that DRM can still be added at the end of the file.

Trends for 2010 for eReaders/eBooks

  • Brutal competition among eReaders
  • Competition between do everything devices and dedicated readers
  • Increase in eBook sales
  • Increase in eReader sales (due to prices coming down)
  • Rise in self publishing
  • Experimentation

Sue thinks that the future of eBooks is going to be in the computing cloud.  The book would be available to be read on all of the patrons different mobile devices and would be bookmarked as to where they left off.

Google Editions, Blio, Ibis, Copia, and Kobo are the new eBook readers.  (Not all are physical devices. Incidentally, I received an e-mail about the Kobo eReader being available while I was at the conference.)

It was a very informative conference.  I was sad I did not win any of the gadget raffles.  I also found out I suffer from Technolust (Meredith’s word) for the iPad.  I still think I am going to hold out for the next iteration of it though.  (Maybe it will have a camera by then!)  I am definitely looking forward to trading my Blackberry (which has served me well) in for a Droid so I can play with some of these augmented reality apps and other mobile apps that my library might be able to use.  I wonder if I can write it off as a business expense on my taxes?????

Today I attended a webinar entitled “Technology Trends in Libraries: Tools, Skills, Staffing, Training”.  It was billed as part of the “Library Futures: Staying Ahead of the Curve Series” presented by Eric Lease Morgan and Marshall Breeding.  This webinar was offered through the College of DuPage.  I found the webinar to be very disappointing, much of the material presented was at least 6 months old.  Some I had already had experience with in library school (I graduated in May of 2008).  That being said, here our my notes from this webinar and from tweets from some of the other participants.

  • The newest trends in library services have more of an intense focus on the end user.
  • Students were interviewed and asked what they liked about Google, they stated that Google was the first thing that popped into their heads, it was usually contained in the toolbar, and it automatically fixes spelling.
  • They also admitted that Google can be a bit overwhelming with all the results and that the results are not always the most reliable sources.
  • Students were then asked about library catalogs and databases.  They feel that library catalogs and databases were the polar opposite of Google.  They are hard to use and there are too many options.  They did not like the concept of using controlled vocabulary.
  • The students did admit that they liked the content found in the databases and usually received a higher grade on papers written with database sources rather than Google sources.
  • It seemed to be a consensus that a combination of the two – Google for general info and then going to the databases for reliable info.
  • They also stated that they wished library databases worked like Google.
  • Libraries today have many competitors like Amazon, Google, Wikipedia, and
  • Libraries should strive to have a single point of entry to all the content & services of the library.
  • Question is – how do we get past a catalog that just addresses physical things in our library and not digital content also?
  • Federated searches have not worked out well.
  • Web scale search is the up and coming way to search.  Search not only the metadata, but the full text as well (SOPAC2).
  • Check out Phoenix Public Library and Queens Public Library for examples.
  • We also need to start thinking about our library interfaces on mobile devices.
  • A way to describe length of electronic text (like we describe physical books by page count) is with word counts.
  • Open Source Software should be seen as free as in liberty, not free as in gratis.
  • Open Source Software is about as free in price as a free kitten.
  • Open Source Software doesn’t work unless there is community.
  • Community builds tweaks into the software.
  • Databases stink when it comes to a search – you want an indexer.
  • Open Source Software does have support – increasingly companies provide support for OSS (e.g. LibLime for KOHA).
  • We need to have people who have expertise in computers on staff in our libraries.
  • Learn Swish-e – Windows/Unix based indexing program (others suggested Lucene, Solr, Backlight, & VuFind).
  • Explore making XML files.

There is a major question of how to preserve born digital content.

  • Digital content is fragile
  • Bit rot – digital corruption
  • Continuous cycles of formats
  • How do we migrate this?  Media/format/standards?
  • Who is going to keep these files forever?  Partnerships?
  • How are we going to compensate for bit rot?

As I said previously, not much new, but it is good to keep all these ideas in mind.

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