Computers in Libraries Book Club

I’m sure other years when I’ve attended Computers in Libraries conference there was talk of books or books inspired presentations.  How could it not being a library conference?  But for some reason this year I came away with a list of new (well new to me) titles to read.  Some were recommended to me by talking to colleagues (at lunch or right before a session) and some were recommended during presentations.   So I thought I’d pass them along.

Boy have I got a lot of books to read!

Conference Advice from “Grandma Beth”

My mind is still reeling (in a good way) after attending Computers in Libraries 2011.   So I wanted to get down some tips & tricks for conference attending since I’ve been dubbed “Grandma Beth” by a certain person who will remain nameless.  It is a fun, inside joke but I’m embracing it and hopefully I can pass along some wisdom.  To be honest I wish someone had told me some of this all those years ago when I attended my first CIL.  Some of these are especially important for those not staying in a hotel nearby but are commuting each day like I was.

  • Pack light. I didn’t heed my own advice this year.  I swear my backpack was at least 50 lbs.  Bring a netbook, tablet, or iPad instead of a laptop.
  • Bring a small digital point and shoot camera instead of a DSLR body, several lenses and flash.  That alone would have made what I was lugging around a lot less.
  • Charge your smartphone fully before you leave home.
  • Turn your smartphone off if you don’t get service in a certain room or during a certain session.  I found out that my phone was working overtime trying to reach the network and it drained the battery even faster than normal.  Once I learned this and turned my phone off in session where I didn’t have a good signal my phone lasted all day.
  • Bring your USB cord to charge the phone.  There is usually someone who will let you hook up to their laptop to charge your phone.
  • Introduce yourself.  I found that I was horrible and introducing people because I lost track of who knew who from Twitter, Facebook, etc.  To me it just felt like everyone already knew everyone but that wasn’t truly the case.
  • Get on Twitter! Even if you don’t use Twitter the rest of the year make sure you do at conferences.  Follow the main conference account because they will often tweet updates about wifi, room changes, speaker changes and more.
  • Setup a conference account if you are already on Twitter.  Don’t inundate your main stream (especially if people besides library folks follow you) instead tweet from there that they should follow your conference account to learn more about the conference.
  • Setup a search for the conference’s hashtag(s) in Twitter.  Take some time to read what others are tweeting.  You can’t attend every session and this is a great way to get a feel for what you are missing.
  • Get in as much as possible if this is your first time attending a conference but don’t over do it (see two bullet points above).
  • Read the program ahead of time to get an idea of what you think you might like to attend.  But be flexible and allow yourself to change your mind later.
  • Look at who is speaking.  The titles can be catchy and description can be deceiving.  I’ve found that if you know anything about the speaker it can help.
  • Talk to people if you don’t know anything about the speakers.  They can give you a feel for who is good, bad or indifferent.
  • Do Not hesitate to leave if you feel unsure about a session.  Also sit towards the back so it is easier to leave.  You are there to learn, to be inspired, to be provoked not to be bored or hear something that doesn’t pertain to you.
  • Do Not hesitate to leave even if you are sure about a session and it doesn’t turn out to be what you expected.  Slip into the back of another session, visit the exhibits or a cybertour.  Or take the time to let all the other great information you’ve heard process.
  • Lobby-con, bar-con, dinner-con or whatever you want to call it is one of the most important parts of any conference because of the networking that happens outside of the actual sessions.   These groups of like-minded people are invaluable.  You will learn a lot from these networking sessions so don’t hesitate to participate in them.  I can’t stress this one enough.

I’d love to hear from other “grandmas and grandpas” out there to see what other tips or tricks they would recommend.

Beware! Labels Stick

Lunch time means a chance for me to catch up on Facebook friends and play a mindless game of Bejeweled 2 or Globs (which is especially relaxing these days since my focus in on Polaris and coordinating the training involved).  Today I happened upon a post by the Central Library Manager, Nina Krzysko that included a link to a YouTube video.  What an enlightening video.  It really struck a chord in me and I just had to share it.

But before you watch this – what would be your first reaction if you saw a man in his early forties, biking around your neighborhood or area where you work every day.  He sometimes wears funny hats or saying on his shirt and he sometimes stops, gets off his bike and waves to the cars that go by.  Bum!  Lunatic.  Or just a harmless guy with nothing but time on his hands?  I’ve heard all of these and more to describe the man in the video.  Now watch the video and tell me what label you would use.  But be careful because those labels stick and are hard to remove.

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Libraries & Transliteracy & Red Shoes

So what exactly do red high heel shoes have to do with transliteracy and libraries?  Well other than they were worn by the lovely Bobbi Newman, Digital Branch Manager of the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries, who presented with a passion about this subject – well nothing I guess.  But they got your attention!

Bobbi Newman, Buffy Hamilton and Matt Hamliton hoped they got everyone’s attention regarding this very important subject of being literate across platforms, across media (hey, even Lee Rainie Monday’s keynote speaker talked about it).  No longer is the library’s role to make sure people can read but that they can use a computer, digital camera, iPad, mp3 player, cell phone, and much, much more.

More and more people are turning to libraries for help in regards to technology and we as librarians and educators need to be ready for this.

My tweets from this great and important session (unfortunately either the wifi gave up or Twhirl did because when Buffy got up to talk about transliteracy in schools I tried switching to tweeting via my mobile phone – no luck.)

Flickr pics from the session.

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CIL 2010 Where Did the Time Go?

Here I am on the last day of #CIL2010 wondering where did the time go?  I’ve managed only one other blog post other than this one, I’ve taken several photos but haven’t finished loading them on my pc let alone editing them and I haven’t even begun to upload them to Flickr or Facebook?  So what the heck have I been doing with all my time?

1.  Commuting.  Getting up at 4;30 or 5:00 so I can hopefully make it there in time for the keynote speakers takes a good chunk out of my day.  Trying to coordinate Marc train and metro schedules so I’m not stuck in VA then figuring out the best time to drive down or back to Northwest Baltimore County has convinced me that I could never work in DC/VA.  3 hours or more to get somewhere, work 8 hours there and then 3 hours back home – how do these people have lives?!

2.  Attending.  Been trying to get in as many sessions in as possible.  For some reason this year it seems like I’ve barely had a time between sessions to pack up my stuff and move to the next session let along blog.  Thankfully I’ve been able to Twitter some of the sessions (wifi has been spotty at best).  Several sessions I was able to Tweet the first speaker but then the wifi craps out so the second or more speakers only got notes taken which I haven’t had time to transfer to this blog.

3.  Networking.  One of the best parts of conferences but somewhat frowned upon by the folks who pay for it , is the networking opportunities that arise.  Be they table-con, lobby-con, exhibit-con, floor-con — all of these are important.  Having a chance to speak the same language with someone in your field, to learn new ideas, to challenge old ones or just simply make a new friend can’t be measured.  Those networks associations can blossom into speaking engagements, contacts, or resources that will help you in your job.  I even stayed late Tuesday night to participate in the T is for Training podcast.  It was a historical episode as it was the longest one we’ve recorded for 90 minutes.

So I’ve been a busy girl just haven’t had a moment to play catch up.  Problem is when I get back to work I’ll have to dive right back into Polaris training – here’s hoping I find a moment here and there to post some more or upload pics.

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CIL 2010 Ninja Style

It’s that time of year again.  The cherry blossoms are out, the boys of summer are playing again and Computers in Libraries comes to Crystal City, VA.  My favorite conference of year and originally I thought I wouldn’t be able to attend.  Last minute I found out I was able to attend.

This is CIL’s 25th anniversary – so what do you get a conference on it’s silver anniversary?  Well, sorry Jane and Rebecca that I didn’t pick you up something but I got myself a gorgeous silver cuff bracelet right before attending.  But I digress.  I love how some things never change – like Lew Rainie of Pew Research Center’s Internet American Life Project was this morning’s keynote speaker.  Another familiar face was Sarah Houghton-Jan, she  along with Amanda Etches-Johnson and John Blyberg presented a great session on Tips for Fast Tech Project Implementation.  They had a hashtag, #CILninjas and encouraged the audience to tweet while the stream was posted live on a screen in the room.  I loved seeing others notes (and to be honest a bit of narcissism too when I saw my tweets up there) which included notes, retweets (fun to see my retweets show up from friends who weren’t attending or who were in another session) and questions for the panel.

Check out the hashtags for some great tips – I know I’ll be taking a lot of their ninja style back with me to work.

My notes that didn’t make it onto Twitter.

Flickr pics from Ninja talk.

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You Can’t Get Something For Nothing

IKEA International Group
Image via Wikipedia

Call me gullible!  I just fell for one of the oldest tricks in the books.  Someone I know and respect sent me an invite to get a free $1,000 gift card from IKEA just by becoming their fan on Facebook.  Ah, if it were only that simple.  I should have known better but seeing a trusted friend’s name blurred my vision I guess.

So I went over to Facebook – became a fan then started following the rules for getting the gift card.  I should have bulked when it said you had to invite ALL of your friends or you might not qualify.  But no I blindly went ahead and sent an invite to all my friends.  The next step is what really brought it home to me that this wasn’t going to work – when you click on the register part you think all you have to do is enter your email address so they can notify you about the gift card – NOT!  Once you enter your email address you then have to select 2 offers from sites such as Netflix or VideoProfessor or others offered via GiftDepotDirect.com.   Then you are expected to take a survey that wants a lot more information than I am willing to give out.  I was ticked off because I had been duped.

I went back to the Facebook fan site and tried to leave a comment shaming Ikea for going this route.  Interestingly enough it would not allow me to make a comment.  The box appeared and I could type but when I hit enter the whole page refreshed and did post my comment.

Only thing that has made me feel better is knowing I wasn’t the only person sucked into this.  Several of my friends got suckered by this as well.

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Lost In Migration

I was going to say that I’ve been MIA but felt that would be disrespectful of the real MIA‘s from our military and others around the world.  So I thought a nod to the Scarlet Johansson-Bill Murray movie was a better title.

Life has gotten in the way of my blog.  Once things settle back down I will hopefully resume a more regular schedule.  So what’s keeping me so busy?  One word – Polaris!  We are in the midst of migrating from our current Sirsi-Dynix ILS (Horizon) to Polaris.  I’ve been given a great opportunity to coordinate all the training for over 240 FT and PT plus all the on-call staff.  This means fitting all these people into 3 rounds of training in less than two months.  This comes at one of the busiest times of the year for our library – just before Summer Reader!  Children’s staff will be book promoting in the schools, then sign up of kids and summer reader begins about a month before we go live.  I have to thank everyone who has been so flexible and understanding – we have a great library staff.

I’m enjoying the challenge and it wouldn’t be possible without Rachel Rappaport’s guidance.  She is our training coordinator but she is about to have her hands really full with her latest project – a baby boy (she is due the end of this month)!  Congrats ahead of time to Rachel and Jonathan – don’t worry about us just enjoy your new bundle of joy.

So if nothing new is posted here for awhile you’ll understand why.  I will be attending Computers in Libraries 2010 this year and I will be blogging from there but after that it will be back to all Polaris all the time.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

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Use Me, Abuse Me, Make Me Test Your Web Site

Day 4 of Library Day in the Life project

Not the best day of the week – I woke up at 2am with a nose that suddenly turned into a faucet.  Not a dripping one but one that was on full force.  So not to wake hubby I took my tissue box and myself nose into the computer room.  Blow, blow, wipe, blow, wipe…..went on for about an hour.  I have no idea what caused that.  Finally took some allergy medicine but by then my nose was as red as poor ol’ Rudolph.

Did all the normal morning stuff to get ready and out the door.

Get to the library.  Checked in with Foursquare, yep still the Mayor of Central :)

Unlocked the office door and did my morning routine of swapping out the tapes for Horizon and Authority Works and unforwarding the phone.

Caffeine was a must today.  Went down to the vending machine in the staff lounge (on the hopes they had filled it) only to find they had not.  So over to the expensive vending machines in the lobby.

Back upstairs with 2 Diet Cokes to fortify me I booted up my Ubuntu and Windows machines.  Fired up Tweetdeck, Thunderbird and Firefox on the Ubuntu machine and Horizon on the Windows machines.

Moved a bunch of photos I had taken over to my Dropbox account.  Love me some Dropbox!

Noticed that one staff member had found the new staff Intranet and had registered for an account there.  She had recently left so I deleted her account on the new Intranet which wasn’t really up and working yet.

Decided to tackle my Inbox a bit.  Noticed I had an email that I remember entering as a helpdesk ticket.  It drove me  nuts – I couldn’t find the helpdesk ticket and I didn’t want to delete the email until I knew it was recorded somewhere.  Finally figured out that I hadn’t use the subject line I thought I had – deleted email (along with a bunch of others).  I tend to use my Inbox as my to-do list.

Sent two emails to OverDrive support regarding two helpdesk tickets that had been assigned to me.  I still find this such bad customer service – customer has problem – has to fill out form on OverDrive site – which then gets sent to someone here in MD – then they forward onto us – then staff here enter into helpdesk – I then get it assigned to me – I contact OverDrive – they write back – I write customer – usually problem is solved.  But the path it takes and the time it takes is just so wasteful.  I must admit their support team is pretty helpful but still this path is not the best way to serve our customers.

Logged into my blog and wrote post for yesterday’s fun filled day.

Our network admin came and showed me one of our old colleague’s, Mike Ricksecker, latest endeavor – Ghosts of Maryland.   He was so sweet – he named each of the IT members in his acknowledgement section.  Gotta buy me a copy and visit all the cool sites he documented.

Sadly removed my old boss’ photo from our Intranet and put it in the “Gone but Not Forgotten” section of our gallery.

Edited more of the photos I had taken with Julian in regards to the scan feature on the copiers.

Took a call from our PR dept. regarding a change on the web site.  Made the necessary change.  While on the phone we also established that I would be listed as the donor of my services so I would actually appear as a donor on the web site. I’m being auctioned off (silently at our fundraiser Evening in the Stacks) as a social web/Intranet consultant.  Hope someone takes me up on the offer and raises money for the library.

Our ILL dept. submitted a helpdesk ticket regarding an system error when trying to print the pick list in Marina.  Did a little digging and called Enoch Pratt since they are the first point of contact.

Ah the first usability test of the day – drove to our East Columbia branch.  Went very well.

Quickly grabbed some lunch.

Then downstairs to Customer Service for the second test of the day.  Again good feedback.

Came back upstairs and made a few tweaks to the new Intranet.

Then we drove over to our Miller branch for the third test of the day.  She was a ringer – got everything right off the bat and quick too!

Came back to Central.  Responded to a customer via email about their OverDrive problem.

Called Pratt again and got some more information about the problem with printing and ILL.  They will have to contact SirsiDynix.

Linked new blogger to the Contributors page on our blog, Highly Recommended.

Answered a staff member’s question about screen savers.

Started to make some changes to the MAILL (Maryland InterLibrary Loan) web site.

Played telephone tag with our HR dept. all day – tried one more time, she is now it.  (every time she called me I was on the phone – every time I called her she had stepped out of her office – maybe tomorrow?)

Home to crash – I NEED SLEEP!

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White Houses of Wilde Lake

Day 3 of Library Day in the Life

I got to work plenty early so I decided to swing by Wilde Lake to see if I could snap a few shots.  The white houses along the lake front caught my eye and I liked their reflection.  I try to participate in Momentile each day so this was my ‘Tile of the day yesterday.  After about 15 mins. I was sufficiently frozen so I hopped back in my car and drive down the street to the library.

Realized when I pulled into the parking lot that Wilde Lake was a venue in Foursquare so I cheated a little and checked in (well I had been there – have the photographic proof).  I waited until I got in the building to check in as the Mayor of Howard County Central Library.

Unlocked the elevator and office door.  Unforwarded the helpdesk phone and swapped out the tapes on both the Horizon and Authority Work servers.

Gave into the Diet Coke addiction once again but alas the staff lounge soda machine was out.  So I had to run back upstairs and get my keys so I could unlock the front grate and get some from the vending machine in the lobby.

Back to my desk – booted up both my Ubuntu and Windows machines.  Per usual opened Tweetdeck, Thunderbird and Firefox on the Ubuntu machine.  Checked our helpdesk tickets on the Staff Intranet and assigned it to one of my co-workers.

Had realized on the drive in this morning that our interim boss wasn’t part of the IT alias so I made sure to add her to it so she could be on top of things.

Checked my Gmail and approved a comment for my blog so while I was in there I blogged about Tuesday.

Noticed that my Windows machine needed a java update so I let that run.

Registered for a Zemanta account and updated my preferences on my blog.  I really have to thank John LeMasney for introducing me to Zemanta.  I love how it finds Creative Commons only images so I can put them in my blog.  I go back and comment on that person’s Flickr account thanking them for using creative commons license and letting them know I used their image for a blog post.

Got a call on the helpdesk line that one of the new info desk computers wasn’t working.  It was flashing red instead of having a solid green light.  Wasn’t booting up to the desktop.  Don’t know why it was doing this because when I went out there I turned it off – counted to 10 turned it back on and it booted up fine.  Guess we’ll have to keep an eye on it.

Edited and uploaded the above picture to Momentile.

Had a short but interesting conversation via Twitter with @librarianbyday and @GMLGeek about using Foursquare in libraries.  I had sent info about Foursquare to our PR dept as well as the Teen Programmer (thought it could be a fun tool to use with Summer Reader at some point).

Checked in my overdue (*bad library worker*) items via Horizon.  Checked out reserve that had come in for me via Marina (our statewide ILL system).

Ran an errand (the bank) across the street and of course checked in via Foursquare.

Updated the usability testing sheets to reflect the changes I had made at the end of the previous day to our new Staff Intranet.

Worked with @Julian2 capturing photos of the scan feature on our new copiers.  We are putting together instructions for staff/customers.

Started editing the photos I took of the copier.

Observed the first usability test of the day.  As always such an interesting process – everyone is so different.  However, we are getting a sense that 90% of the site is spot-on just need to tweak the remaining 10%.

Got an IM from staff member in Admin asking if our network admin was in the UK (he does have family there).  No, he was standing right behind me.  Got 2 phone calls from other staff asking about our network admin.  Turned out his old Facebook account had someone gotten reactivated (not by him) and someone was scamming people with this old scam.   Posted information including the video to front page of our Staff Intranet, as well as, my Facebook page and on Twitter just to let people know that this wasn’t our co-worker scamming folks.

Gobbled down a quick lunch before our first IT meeting with our new interim boss.

IT meeting – went over a few loose ends from our old boss, she had plenty of questions regarding projects we were working on and we each brought her up to date on the projects.

Got a call from HR to update Intranet and web site to reflect old boss’s position being vacant.

Off to our Glenwood branch to do the second usability test of the day.  Our web programmer and I sat down afterwards and discussed what changes we thought might need to be made, how we should move forward considering his work schedule.

Went home but stopped by Food Lion (again checked in with Foursquare) to pick up some nuts for my husband (one of his favorite snacks).  Picked up an extra jar as a small thank you to our web programmer for all his help on the Intranet (and for putting up with me in general).

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