So long and thanks for all the Web2.0 tools… Now bring on Phase 2…

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Eek, what a crazy four and a half months that was! What have I learned so far? Where do I even begin!?!

Suffice to say that at some point the steep learning curve that I expected morphed into a roller-coaster spiral. I’m still kind of reeling, but I’ve certainly learned a lot.

In all honesty I haven’t had a lot of head space free for Web2.0 tools lately, but I think there are tools we’ve looked at that I will come back to when I can find the time. My favourite Web2.0 things from the refresher were Pinterest which I find dangerously addictive, Good Reads and iGoogle (which I was already devoted to and will miss when it is retired).

The biggest web-related revelation for me during this program has been a very unexpected one. I’ve realized how many websites, tools, databases, blogs and the like become extremely difficult to use if you happen to suffer from photophobia. This has prompted me to wonder how many people struggle to access information or library services online due to any kind of health or disability issue, and to ponder what we can do make sure the information and services we provide are as widely accessible as possible. So my own temporary experience of this has subtly altered my understanding of the digital divide.

For me the biggest disappointment of this course was that there was not more interaction between bloggers completing the refresher. I think because there is so much change in our organization at the moment, so much furiously happening, there hasn’t been time for people to devote much time to their Web2.0 explorations or to engaging a great deal with each others blogs. And personally I’m disappointed that I still can’t match up many of my colleagues to their blogs.

All together I still have a lot more to learn about my job, the workplace, the organization and these mysterious but likable people I work with, but still I feel as though my first chapter in this job is drawing to a close, (phew). This final blog post is a marker for me, marking the end of Phase 1: Chaos and Challenging Change. So, I’d like to think tomorrow heralds the start of a new era for me in the workplace – Phase 2: Confidence, Competence and Control. Well, that’s what I’ll aim for anyway…

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Podcasts

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I prefer reading to listening as a way of taking in information. I’m better at staying focused when I’m looking at information, and I like being able to take in the content at my own pace, (and being able to check back, when I forget things, as I often do). I think this is why I’m not a personally a big user of podcasts and audio-books.

One of the advantages of podcasts though is that you can actually hear a person’s voice. This is particularly nice in the case of podcasts that relate to history, such as Bob Chalmer’s podcast about growing up and living in the Moonee Valley area (from the MVCC website).

Remembering Prezi

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Somehow I forgot to post about Prezi, even though I made a prezi many weeks ago, (actually it feels like aeons ago – they’ve been busy weeks). Anyway, I found Prezi generally simple enough to learn (from what I remember), but it is a bit gimmicky.

There is also another reason why I will probably steer clear of Prezi. I’ve been having problems with dealing with anything flashy and flickery on screens lately, which makes me wonder if Prezi might make some people feel pretty ill. I don’t think it is worth it.

Documenting my Google Doc Experience

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Google Docs is extremely useful, particularly if you often need to work at different computers and don’t want to risk forgetting your USB drive somewhere. I’ve used and recommended Google Docs many times before for word processing and spreadsheets, so this time I decided to have a play with something new. First I tried the drawing component, but that was pretty poor, so then I used the forms function, which could be useful. I like that it compiles the answers and statistics, so it could be an alternative to good ol’ Survey Monkey.

Great as their products can be, I do find Google annoying though. For example, I found it frustrating to be prompted to sign up for Google+ while I was experimenting with Google Forms. If I want Google+ I will go googling for Google+. In particular I objected to the 3 step sign-up process for Google+ that they were pushing which culminated in “Be Awesome”. Just annoying, frankly.

Piquing my pinterest

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At work, I believe Pinterest could be a wonderful tool for creating visually appealing Library Lists, (as several libraries are already doing), listing Staff Picks, showcasing Events and Local History photos and the like. I’d love to add a Pin It button to all the PCs at the front desk so that we could compile a board of Library Reader Recommendations as we hear them from our borrowers. We could also create suggestion lists, such as Best Aussie Novels, Great Books for Sporty Kids or Suggested Reads for Hunger Games Fans. It could be fun to pick a different topic each week or month and have all staff contribute to the pin-fest. Also for the reference collection I’d like to compile a board of Top Reference Resources using images to give an idea of what is inside our various reference books, databases and other online resources. As with many of these Web2.0 thingies, I have just two wishes; 1 – to be able to simply connect the tool to catalogue records, and 2 – for many more hours (or at least minutes) in every day.

Having mentioned how useful Pinterest might be, I also have to note that Pinterest is potentially dangerous, particularly at a personal level. So many pretty things to look at and click on; so much time which could be accidentally pinterested away. And Pinterest shows me so many pretty or appealings things I don’t want to want to buy. Pretty as they are, perhaps it is best if I never see them in the first place? Perhaps it would be best if I never log on to pinterest again?

I will hang onto my Pinterest account, because I do find it very handy to be able to pin images from the net onto my categorized boards for future reference, and occassionally it might even be handy for keeping track of work related net research. I will promise myself to keep my browsing sessions short and remind myself that it is good that world is full of pretty things, but that owning them is not so very important.

PS. I’m not going to say much about Juxtapost because I found it boring.

Share ideas with me at Wallwisher

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I’m trying to build my knowledge of how the reference collection at SML is used. In preparation for our big RFID push, I will be weeding out a lot of the tired books from the collection. Plus, I generally want to update and refresh this great section.

I want to know which titles are being used either by library visitors or by staff. Are there books you turn to regularly? Are there items which I will never be forgiven for weeding? Or perhaps there is a title you used to love, but which could really use an update? Are there collection gaps you’ve noticed? And what else could be done to make this area of the library more inviting, more useful and easier to use?

I’m gradually building a lot of my own ideas on all of this, but I’d love to find out what other staff at SML think of the collection and how you think it could be made even better.

To capture everyone’s ideas I’ve created an ideas wall at WallWisher. I hope that you will share your knowledge, experience and ideas with me there. Thank you!

Wallwisher.com :: Share your ideas about the reference collection at SML.

On minutes and meetings, both real and imagined…

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Minutes.io strikes me as an extremely handy tool for quickly capturing the minutes of meetings, and for being able to easily send them out to everyone who needs them. As an added bonus, the layout and design of the site is not only intuitive, it is also elegant. I don’t think this online tool should be used to record minutes of meetings dealing with sensitive or confidential information, but where this is not an issue I would favour using minutes.io at meetings very regularly.

Minutes from an imaginary meeting

Minutes.io minimizes the time the minute taker needs to spend jotting down notes during a meeting, allowing more participation, and it saves time on needing to retype notes later. Perhaps best of all, I suspect this tool would allow minutes to be distributed soon after meetings occur, rather than days or weeks later when the minute taker has finally found the time.

I just wish that minute.io also had an agenda generating function. This would make agenda creation and sending super simple, plus the agenda could pre-populate the appropriate fields in the minutes for the related meeting. That would save even more time. Maybe in their next upgrade… Anyway, for now I certainly intend to use minutes.io anytime I’m designated to be minute taker.

iGoogling

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I have been using iGoogle for many years. I use it in place of a feed reader and as a way to make my bookmarks portable. Sometimes I will log in at work, or on a public PC when I’m on the run, and it is also my homepage on my home computer.

I have several tabs, including one for “Library Stuff” which is mostly feeds from a variety of library blogs, (Swiss Army Librarian is my favourite, particularly the Reference Question of the Week). While the feeds aren’t always up to date, I still prefer using iGoogle to check my blog feeds rather than Google Reader, because I prefer the layout, as well as the convenience of having all my stuff together.

I find iGoogle an extremely useful organisational tool for keeping track of all my feeds, bookmarks and gadgets. Plus the Leunig theme I’ve applied to my iGoogle page makes me smile.

A rather rambling post about phones, codes and nerds

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Technically my mobile phone counts as a “smart phone” because it can do a whole lot of smart things, like accessing the internet, maps, apps and email. But unlike an iPhone, my old Nokia does these things very, very slowly, so I tend to only use the smart functions when I really need to. Usually this is when I get myself lost and need a map.

Given that my smart phone is not the quickest, I was pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy it was to find a free QR reader app, download it, install it successfully and put it to work. Even my slow old Nokia was able to quickly scan a code and open the link. I might actually use this function from now on.

As for where they could be usefully employed at the library, for now I think they will be best employed on posters or other materials aimed at teenagers and the tech-savvy, (the people with the right phones/devices and the know-how to use them). For Information Services they could perhaps be employed as a way to get people to the online databases page, or to specific databases, (eg. have a shelf-talker or poster near the medical encyclopedias with a QR code that links to a page of medical and health databases). They would also work well as part of a library treasure hunt (each QR code would link to a question, the answer of which would provide a clue to finding another QR code… perhaps with little prizes along the way to keep people interested). A trivia-treasure hunt could be a fun way to encourage exploration of the reference section and show off some of the gems in the collection which might be used more if more people knew they were there, (admittedly, a trivia-hunt through a reference collection may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but hey, I’m a nerd and I’m proud of it… and other nerds are one of the groups that we should be encouraging to engage with the library more often and in new ways. Nerds are amongst our natural allies and advocates…)

Anyway, the possibilities for using QR codes are almost endless; they could be used to promote events, story-times, competitions, blogs and any page of the library website, or the library’s social media pages. In the coming weeks we could use QR codes on posters or flyers in the library to link to information about RFID (ie. explaining what RFID is, how and when it is being implemented, and what the benefits will be).

Also, as I’m someone who is navigationally challenged, I think QR codes like this one could be usefully added to all of our flyers:

Library location map

Finally, I think I should end this post by apologizing to my long-suffering mobile phone. It does in fact have a strength (literally) that many other smart phones lack. It has been dropped on concrete from height several times (at tram stops, usually) and still continues to work. I’d like to see your fancy high-end smart phones do that!

Musing on online museums…

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I found Intel’s Museum of Me underwhelming. Yes, it is impressive technology, and looks rather spiffy, but I found “my gallery” a bit superficial and pointless, (hopefully this is not just a reflection of me!)

I preferred the Google Art Project from which I could pretend to be strolling around highfaluting art galleries of the world while in fact I was avoiding a very cold and wet Melbourne afternoon by huddling at my computer. I loved exploring the various collections, and being able to curate my own galleries of favourites. The main fault I found (other than the galleries being a bit glitchy) was that despite the thousands of images I wanted even more. Yes, technology has made me greedy and impatient. I want it all, and I want it now! But I still love the old-school information technologies too, as you can see from my gallery of books in art.