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Archive for March, 2009

I just wanted to share a quick thought I had this morning about nooks and crannies.  And, no it was not because I was eating an english muffin with nooks and crannies.  Although I do like them, and probably would have preferred one over my morning oatmeal. 

I started out thinking about how people usually feel comfortable in a bookstore, and often less so in libraries.  Myself, I feel more comfortable in a library, but that’s only because I know I’ll get pulled in by the rows of clearance books and will never leave the bookstore… 

Bookstores, even though they are big and open like libraries, have lots of little nooks and crannies where people can be alone while exploring the books.  In libraries I think there’s often a fear of people doing things they shouldn’t in those little nooks and crannies.  Especially in the teen sections – am I right?

So, I got to thinking.  How do the bookstores get away with it?  It’s simple.  There are always bookstore workers wandering around the building.  They’re there to help and also, in a way, to hinder unwanted behaviors – more reasons why roaming librarians or assistants would be a beautiful thing.   Hold up now, that’s not all.   They also have plenty of security cameras around bookstores, just like any retail space.  And, the customers know it.

I know there are currently libraries that have roaming librarians – two that I know of off hand are Skokie Public Library and Indian Trails Public Library.  They have staff that are scheduled to roam around the library looking for people to help.  Those libraries also have security cameras. Not everywhere like in a retail store, but in tempting locations.

So, you’d think maybe if we put the two together – roaming librarians and security cameras we’d have a winning combination.  Although, I think there is one missing component here – we need our customers to know.  What’s the best way to do that without alienating them or using signs they probably won’t notice?  I don’t know. 

Library 2.0 is really all about changing how we serve our customers.  I know this has been pointed out time and time again.  It’s nothing new, but even though it seems an obvious change all libraries can make it’s not being done enough.  So, I feel it’s worth mentioning again.

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I’m noticing this same problem on some other pages, so I’m wondering…  Did meebo do some kind of update that means I need to grab new code for my widget?  I guess I could just do it, but I’m feeling lazy today, and I liked it the way it was.

Oh meebo, meebo, meebo.  Where, oh where, can you be?

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I’m not a big texter.  I text, but I’d rather call or email.  I get frustrated not being able to have all five fingers on a keyboard typing 100 wpm…  Texting takes too long for me, but I’ll admit it’s still rather convenient sometimes.

Although, it’s not my usual mode of communication I do know there are more and more people graduating from high school every day who use texting to communicate almost exclusively.  I know, because I get texts from them, and well, okay “Pieces of Flair” on Facebook

For these people texting a librarian is a brilliant adaptation to their needs.  After I left my position at the Brookfield Public Library they adopted a utility that allows them to accept text messages at the reference desk.  Unfortunately, since it happened after I had already moved to another library I don’t know exactly how it works, but I tried it and it worked from my end.  If you’re at all curious, go to the website and check it out for yourself.

I was reminded of this twice in the past few days.  Once while talking to a colleague who told me that her high school aged son always responds to her immediately when she texts him.  He won’t answer the phone if she calls, but he automatically answers a text.  The second reminder was an ad for a new product in one of my magazines – can’t remember which one…  I think it was YALSA‘s magazine.

Anyway, this all boils down to a new service offered by Mosio for libraries that are interested in welcoming the texting generation –  Text A Librarian.  This is how it works. I’m not endorsing this particular service, but if you watch the video you can get a good idea of how this works from the librarian’s point of view. 

I think this is ultimately worth considering very seriously as an added patron convenience option at every library.  Let’s face it, texting is big and it’s not going away anytime soon.

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I love telling stories and hearing stories. Who doesn’t? I went to the National Storytelling Festival for the first time last year and loved it! I heard the most amazing storytellers, and learned so much from them. It got me geared up and ready for my own scary stories night at the library for Halloween, which turned out to be a huge success and a blast.

However, as the saying goes ‘practice makes perfect’, and while I don’t think any storyteller can ever be perfect – (the imperfections are part of what makes each storyteller unique and wonderful) – a little practice and observation is good for everyone.

So, if you’re a storyteller or just enjoy hearing stories you should check out this free monthly open-mic night at Dominican University in partnership with Illinois Storytelling Inc. I certainly plan to take part, even if I just feel like sitting back and listening in… I might, at the very least, learn a great new story to share.

 

This following info is from the Illinois Storytelling Inc. calendar online:

 

April 4 – River Forest Open Mic Storytelling

DOMINICAN UNIVERSITY is now sponsoring a ONCE A MONTH open mic event for storytelling. Open Mic Night will be the first Saturday of the month, so mark your calendar and bring your stories. Bring your friends who want to learn how to tell stories. Bring your neighbors who want to hear stories. Eight minutes each.

7:00pm in the Rebecca Crown Room – it’s in the Springer
Suites on the lower level of the Rebecca Crown Library at Dominican University in River Forest.

Park in the west parking lot and go down the ramp; Springer Suites is direcly to the right as you enter.

There is a cafe just outside the room with coffee drinks and sandwiches.

7900 West Division Street
River Forest, IL 60305

View Map

For more information: jdelnegro@dom.edu or megan@meganwells.com

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Although this isn’t library related, I’m sure there are a lot of pet lovers in the library community who will relate, and can appreciate this.

The past few weeks brought back a lot of not so pleasant memories for me. It’s been two years since my wonderful, little old cat Skippy became a victim of the Menufoods pet food recall. She’s been fighting like anything for those two years with only 30% of her kidney function left, and heart problems to boot. The fight is getting tougher.

A couple of weeks ago she ended up in the hospital again with heart failure brought on by the subcutaneous fluids she was receiving to support her kidney function. She’s still fighting.

She made about three trips to hang out on the porch this morning before I had to go in to work. She just wanted to enjoy the morning sun and fresh air. She’s that kind of cat. And, she’s super cute. Here’s a pic of her on one of the many camping trips we’ve taken with her since she became sick.

Skippy in the woods at Roche-A-Cri State Park in Wisconsin.

Skippy in the woods at Roche-A-Cri State Park in Wisconsin.

Here’s to you Skippy the cat!! You’re the best cat in the whole, wide world!

I know there were a lot of cats out there who weren’t as fortunate as Skippy cat, and my sincerest sympathies go out to their owners. I saw many of them in the veterinary hospital waiting room every day that we went to visit Miss Skippy while she was herself fighting for life.

I’m very thankful that we were so lucky, but I also wish it had never happened. I learned a lot about the pet food industry the hard way, and I hope people will start putting more thought into what they feed their pets. I know I do.

For Skippy all it took was one week off her usual prescription diet food eating Iams select bites, and it changed everything for her and for me.

Today I came across a great article about what ingredients to look for in pet food on the SoulMates Animal Care Weblog. You can read it here.

There is great power in knowledge, and even greater power in knowing how to use it.

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Check out the Camping Club page for UPDATE 2009. We have decided on our destinations for this summer. If you’re interested in meeting up for coffee/tea/hot cocoa or marshmallows leave a comment or send me an email.

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I was back on my Flickr page the other day and was reminded of the group I started on there while I was taking that wonderful Library 2.0 class with Michael Stephens. I was really interested to see how people around the world are pulling the ideas of Library 2.0 into their physical library spaces. I started the group Show us your Library 2.0! in the hopes that other people would be interested and willing to share the way they were putting their ideas to work. Today the group now has 137 active members that have posted 430 images showing off the ways libraries around the world are putting the tenets of Library 2.0 into action. It’s a great place for inspiration and ideas. Here is a sample of one of my favorites.

We will post it to the library Flickr account...

Now for a little hypnotism… You are feeling relaxed and are reading only my words… You are ready to join a new group on Flickr. Go here and join this group now. Rejoice in sharing your Library 2.0 with the world. You are now rejuvenated and ready to face the world, but first you are going to submit a photo to show off your library 2.0 to the rest of the group!

Show us your Library 2.0! profile pic P.S. Extra points for anyone who can name the location of the profile pic from the Flickr group. This is what it looks like.

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Okay, I just love The Onion and I think I may love H.P. Lovecraft just as much, so I was “rolling on the floor” when I read this article over a yummy Reese’s brownie at Rockwell’s Grill this past weekend. (They are the best brownies in the whole wide world!) So, when I stumbled across it again online I just had to share… (And yes, I think it does qualify for things that make me go “hmmm…” at the library – Lovecraft often makes me go “hmmm…” at the library or at home or while camping – pretty much always.)

“Lovecraftian School Board Member Wants Madness Added To Curriculum”

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I think this is great news! I know the research has shown over and over again all the benefits of gaming in a learning environment, but mostly that’s been associated with high schools, junior highs, and elementary schools. Over the last several years I’ve noticed universities here and there trying on the idea of gaming. A lot of university libraries are creating flash games to teach information literacy skills to incoming freshman. I think that’s great! A fun way to learn about how to use the resources in the library so doing your homework, hopefully, becomes a little less daunting.

However, what I find even more exciting are libraries that are hosting social gaming nights. A good example right here in Illinois is at Western Illinois University. It’s held once a month and is called simply Game Nite. They have games of all types available from the most basic board games, even card games like Magic: The Gathering, to Wii and Xbox gaming. It’s open to the public, and they call it brainy. I love it! They also have games students can check out.. ..can I go back to undergrad now? I could have saved hundreds of dollars on games if my library did that. I’m now sending positive currents of encouragement and thankfulness to the wonderful folks at the Western Illinois University Libraries for doing this. Follow the link to Game Nite to get more info.

Does anyone know of more fantastic gaming programs taking place at universities elsewhere in the country?

If you happen to be reading this and are a mover and/or shaker in the university gaming world you should think about contributing to a new book. The Library Games blog posted an announcement looking for people to write chapters in a new book coming out from ACRL with the working title: Casebook on Gaming in Academic Libraries. Check out the links if you’re interested in finding out more.

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And, no, that doesn’t mean we will spend all day scratching ourselves…

scratchday2 Scratch Day is on May 16, 2009 – follow the link above to find more info. It doesn’t say, but I think this is the first of its kind. If there are any librarians out there who have considered trying something like this I think this is a perfect opportunity to see what your community’s reaction would be.

Scratch is that great free program from MIT that allows anyone to create their own computer games and animations. It’s so easy even kids are using it. I know there are several libraries in the Chicago area that teach classes on how it works to get them started. There are even gaming days where everyone can come in and play the games they made! I was hoping to get something like that started when I was at Indian Trails Public Library, but I wasn’t there long enough. In respect to offering workshops in a library setting I like that the kids can not only create games but tell their own stories through animations they can make themselves.

There is also a program called Alice that I’ve played around with. I can’t say one is easier than the other, but they do work a little differently. There is a version of Alice called Storytelling Alice that I think might be good for the younger set, but I have yet to try it out on anyone but myself.

In any case, I think kids around the world would love to be introduced to the wonders of Scratch on May 16, 2009. So, if you’ve been thinking about it go ahead and do it. If nothing else you can bring some kids in to the library and let them play the Scratch games other people have created available on the Scratch home page. That’s plenty of fun on its own!

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