Home Away From Home – Day 2

Ah, day two and it should have started off better.  Knew I had to leave a bit early from home to drop my son off at his Dad’s new house.  Still trying to figure out best routes to and from his house.  This morning with the hazy fog it didn’t help and I was a few minutes late getting to work.

EntranceFirst one in the office this morning.  Dropped my stuff at my work space and scurried to get to the morning duties (I had switched days with a co-worker).  Unforwarded the helpdesk phone and then proceeded to swap the tapes on both the Horizon and Authority Works servers.

This was to be my IT @ Admin day so I needed to focus on the morning duties and get them out of the way.  Once logged into my Ubuntu and Windows machines I did a quick cursory check of email (no dire messages).  I then proceeded to do the morning duties (just like yesterday).

Once they were out of the way I checked the helpdesk tickets and assigned them accordingly to my co-workers (seems some days I get a lot and others I don’t – it all evens out in the end).  Opened Twirl so I can peruse Twitter (both my personal account – @mlibrarianus and the library’s official account @HoCo_Library).  Then I queued up a Tweet for the library’s account using TweetFunnel.

Our Network Administrator came into the office and had mentioned that we had a power outage (clock in the workroom before ours was behind).   PACs were showing red on PACMON (our own montioring system that our web programmer wrote) but luckily the Day End computer finished running Day End before the power outage (having to run day end in the morning before people start logging into Horizon is not a fun thing to coordinate).

I proceeded to work on the email bouncebacks.  I’m still amazed at how many we get.  Are that many people really changing their email addresses and not updating them with us or what?  Still trying to figure out the best way to ensure our customers get notified without this having to deal with bouncebacks.  It is a labor intensive process that should not be handled by IT.  Haven’t come up with the answer as I know that there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a tweet that made me chuckle.  I don’t normally follow the trends on Twitter but this one caught my eye #verydullbands.  Some were pretty good.  tumour seemed to be on a roll.  Time to head to our Administrative office in the East Columbia Branch and be the IT guru of the day (each of us takes turns spending a day at Admin helping with computer/software related issues that arise).

Home away from homeAfter getting my lunch in the fridge and things settled into the IT cubicle, I logged into the Ubuntu machine we have set aside for us.  Last time I was there I used Good OS – as if Google and Mac had a love child this would be it.  I really liked the operating system and having the Google gadgets.  Alas I was back to our staff desktop version of Ubuntu which is nice too.

Queued up another tweet for the library’s official account (which is approved by our Public Relations dept. and released to the Twitterverse).   Talked to a colleague who had heard I’d been recently to Spain recently and was thinking of going.  So I sent her a link to my photos from Espana on Flickr.

Consulted with fellow IT co-worker about iTouch and our collaborative software, DeskNow.  He had a Blackberry and wasn’t familiar with the iTouch.  Went around the Admin office asking staff if they had an iPhone or iTouch.  Found someone in Public Relations that had an iTouch who was able to help with the question another staff member had asked me.  I won’t mention my extreme jealousy of those with the iPhone or Blackberry (I soooo miss my Blackberry).

Helped another colleague with a PrintNow problem.  Think the delay was due to her Java update message wanting attention.  Once I clicked on that PrintNow printed the screen shot she needed.  Stopped by the cubicle of our Training Coordinator to discuss a request that had come up in my visits to the branches regarding our Staff Intranet.  She was open to the suggestion that the less formal “Lunch and Learns” be part of the training calendar as well as a notice on the Staff Intranet.

ITBack to my cubicle.  Checked on the Merlin site since I was playing admin while Nini Beegan was on vacation.  Cleaned up a bunch of registered users that were clearly spammers.

Consulted with web programmer and network administrator about the best way to get a new image onto our PAC screensavers.  The library’s unofficial (yet very professional and wonderfully talented) photography, Fritzi Newton, had taken shots of each of our 6 branches along with iconic views of our county and mixed them with photos she was able to obtain from Enoch Pratt.  She put these altogether as a screensaver for our public computers.  There was wording on each saying where the photo was taken.  After 2 years of these being out there for the public someone had realized that one of the slides had Maryland misspelled.  Fritzi corrected this and gave us the new image (with correctly spelled state) to use.

Realized I hadn’t really talked to our staff at Admin about the revamping the Staff Intranet.  I had been to all the branches to get feedback so I wondered around the office and talked to different staff.  Along the way I helped with a couple browser settings.  The one feature that I love on our Intranet was one that I pointed out to several folks.  Our web programmer had created a staff directory – the staff search box searches that directory.  So if you don’t know what branch, the phone number, the exact spelling of their email, what title they have, etc you can search for a person (last name or first name or full name) and see all of that plus a picture.  I convinced several people that using the staff directory search was 100 times easier than scrolling through the phone list.  This made me realize that this well used by many but missed by some box needed a more prominent spot on our Intranet.  So I moved that up further on the left hand side along with moving the Quick Links further to the top as well.  These are just temporary stop gaps until we revamp the whole Intranet.

LUNCH!

Assigned to myself and closed helpdesk ticket regarding receiving spam from old email address.  *sigh* The only 100% sure fire way to not receive spam is to not use email.

Played telephone tag with the editor of our reader’s advisory blog, Highly Recommended, regarding a few tweaks and a new idea that had come up in a meeting.  Then I went about interviewing more of the Admin staff about our Intranet and what ideas they might have.

Dealt with calendar settings for two people in Public Relations.  They didn’t have a box checked so the calendar invites were not showing up on their calendars the way they should.

Debunked an Urban Legend that was sent via email to IT.  I love Snopes.com.  I used to hang out on their bulletin board and I do miss the folks from there.

Discussed ideas with the Events & Seminars Manager about the use of voice recorders regarding local authors.  Getting them to read excerpts from their books or interviews with them as part of a podcast.

Answered an email from staff about the spam filtering option setting in our email.  Explained that we use Barracuda, spam filter, on the main email server so there is no need to use the one provided by DeskNow (if you do it actually creates more work).

Decided to make another change to the current Staff Intranet (that was brought up by staff at the branch) and managed to not screw it up.  Deleted code and things still worked properly.  Then I got a little too confident and removed some more – this time I did screw it up.  THANKFULLY, our web programmer who has the patience of a saint with me was able to figure out what I did wrong and fix it.

Way past time for me to go, so I turned off my machine and headed home.  I had to pack and drive to PA that night since I going with my parents the next morning to the hospital.  My Mother was having a biopsy of her lung done.  Here’s hoping it all goes well and the results are good.

A Day in the Life – Take Two

day in the life: and the colored girls sang do...
Image by emdot via Flickr

The 2nd Annual Library Day in the Life started today. Same rules apply – “whether you are a librarian or library worker of any kind, help us share and learn about the joys and challenges of working in a library.” So after a full day of work, walking of the dogs, mowing part of our 2 acres, fixing dinner and cleaning up I finally sat down to watch “The Hunting Party” episode of  season two of Lost while I put my notes into a blog post.

Monday July 27, 2009

Got to work just before 7:30 am to find that I wasn’t the only early bird this morning.  Julian Clark (who is also participating in this via Twitter – @julian2) was in before me and already hard at work.

  • Swapped out the backup tapes and exchanged last week’s set for the new set for both the Horizon and the Authority Works servers.
  • Put a new sheet up for the server room temperature sheet (librarian in charge has to record the temp once a day to ensure the servers stay cool)
  • Unforward the helpdesk phone line (gets forward after hours to one of IT’s cell phones)
  • Performed the morning duties for Monday
  • Headed to Staff Lounge to get a mug full of ice for my homemade green tea with lime
  • Settled into my desk – logged into both my Ubuntu and Windows machines
  • Checked voice mail – one call from the Head of Collection Services in response to a question about what we do when titles are no longer available from OverDrive
  • Checked email (both work and Gmail)
  • Checked to see if there any pending helpdesk tickets to assign (luckily there were none)
  • Using Twirl I Twittered about Library Day in the Life (smiled when armylibrarian retweeted my tweet about Library Day in the Life)
  • Sent email (per Central Library Manager’s request) to rest of the Howard County Library signage committee about the cool picture I found of Seattle Public Library’s call no. floor mats
  • Checked Flickr, Facebook and Twitter and rss feeds (social|median and RWW)
  • Dugg a couple of worthy articles
  • Updated Online Request a title for your bookclub form on library’s web site
  • Reviewed Si fStaff Intranet) for submissions that may need to be published  and cleaned up expired announcements
  • Went to our Miller Branch to take the last Library101 photos
  • Got back to Central Library about 15 minutes after we had opened (due to budget restrictions we are now opening at 10 am instead of 9 am) and got one of the few remaining parking spaces (we are loved!)
  • Worked on email bouncebacks notices (always a lot after the weekend) – remove the address from customer’s account, put block on the account asking for an updated email address
  • Responded to email from the Executive Director and CEO about how to get an important presentation to the architects before the 1pm meeting
  • Took call from librarian at the main information desk – problem with receipt printer and trapping hold – conflict between the printer and keyboard
  • Just got back to desk when the fiction desk called with a problem – not sure what happened as they said they couldn’t trap hold but when I was there had no problem (didn’t hear anything more from them about this issue)
  • Queued up several Tweets for the library’s official Twitter account – @HoCo_Library
  • Email to head of collection services about removing titles from catalog that aren’t part of Overdrive anymore.
  • Closed 2 helpdesk tickets regarding customer question and error message with OverDrive – one could have been found by looking through the help section
  • Finally some lunch and my guilty pleasure of playing Bejeweled Blitz on Faceboo
  • Answered IM question from librarian about OpenOffice and adding page numbers.   Found answer by Googling – gee, why didn’t the librarian do that?
  • Wrote another Tweet for the library’s official account
  • Edited and uploaded images I took at Miller Branch for Library101 video project
  • Wrote post for Open Source blog – waiting review
  • Sent email to staff that had pictures taken for library101 w/link to Flickr
  • Resized library101 images and uploaded to facebook
  • Updated email alias and closed helpdesk ticket – didn’t need to update – realized I forgot to update the mailing list (not just the group in Deksnow)
  • Worked on some AOL bounced backs – people forget that they sign up for email notices from the library then they mark us as spam
  • Closed another helpdesk ticket about OverDrive – seems like the problems come in batches
  • Fixed email mailing list so all names display on staff intranet
  • Investigated how we managed to have Maryland spelled incorrectly on one of our PAC screensavers for the last couple of yrs.
  • Surfing web sites to get ideas for navigation for our new staff intranet – using stumbleupon

After 3:30 pm so it’s time to go home.  WHEW, what a day.

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Wannabee

103_0467I wanna be 2.0 Too! Web Services for Underfunded Libraries presented by Sarah Houghton-Jan (Track E101) @ #CIL2009. In these economic times we are all either smaller (downsizing) or underfunded.  So this will be my first attempt at live blogging.

10 Laws using LOLcatz

#1 Talk w/customers (email, IM, VOIP, chat widgets, video chat w/skype, aim, text messaging) no account required, point of service, always have fun with them

chat widgets at null results page – keep the frustration down by offering an option to contact a real person – where do they get the most angry – offer this – email, phone better than nothing at all

text messaging more popular than email

reference services as well as circulation notices via SMS

#2 Interact with Customers

comments on everything, respond like a human being, online book clubs with a mix of staff & customers – conversation, give you their opinions, LibraryThing

Blogs – like Highly Recommended – encourage staff participation – offer template w/tags and categories, welcome feedback/conversation from customers

equal footing – able to talk to them

#3 Be Engaged

EngagedPatrons.org

Events Calendar with online registration

Blogs,

Google Maps

#3 Be Social

interact on their own term – interact w/young crowd, Club Penguin, Tee Bee Dee,

about change, communication, about sharing – keep doing that or you will lose your fans.

pointer back to your web site or resources

advertising extremely cheap – target your town, zip code whatever

$10 = 5,000 facebook flyers

#4 Use Multimedia

photographs, images, podcasts vidcasts, games – photos make it more popular – stimulates interactions – power of imagery

virtual shelf on the flickr account – notes go back to catalog

Design contest for logo of teen program – voting on it using Flickr – used comments section

Exploit image generators

generatorblog.blogspot.com

imagegenerator.org

imagechef.com

freeafterrebate web site – 1 for shipping

#6

Offer treatsies

shiny objects, new stuff, hot stuff – ask them what they want, then find them some

Staff Avatars – answer question, fav. movie, color then posted on site – can you recognize the librarian

My Account text messages “sexy”

#7 Exploit the Fee

tinypic, Google, WordPress, bravenet, onestatfree, statcounter, analytics, sites, webmaster central, gimp, polldaddy, colorblender, yousendit, webmonkey, survey mokeny, zoomerang, openphoto, dzone, imageafter, grogrammableweb, stock.xchng, zamzar

Tap into the Google wonderland

#8 Respect Customers

you never know when you’re lunch

expect the best, not the worst

treat customers with respect, regardless of age of which services they use

let them comment – go in after the fact and edit- policy no curse words but don’t over react. kids are users too

#9 Choices

how to contact you

how you communicate with them

how they find things online

what they find online (content & format)

multiple paths to same content – people think in different ways

Mashups = Choices

Library Elf

Library Look up

LibX Toolbar

Good Catalog = Choices

Aquabrowser

Endeca

LibraryThing for Libraries

VuFind

WorldCat Local

#10 Keep Going

try new things, pushing administrators, rejoice in failures (means you are pushing the boundaries)- we learned what they didn’t want but you will also learn what they do want by trying

we work for Admin but also our users

A Day in the Life III

Beginning to think the titles of these posts are bad movie rejects ;)

Day 3 of week of keeping track of what librarians or library workers do so we can see the diversity of the jobs we do.

Wednesday January 28, 2009

11:15 – arrived at work (late opening because of ice conditions)  after attempting 3 times (4th was the charm) to get up the hill on my road so I could get to work. Main roads fine but side and back roads are still a mess.
11:20 – took call from staff member about computers not recognizing IP address. Network Admin made a change and the Linux computers stole the Windows IP’s – poor Windows didn’t know what to do.
11:30 – logged into email, IM, Staff Intranet, Friendfeed
11:40 – perform morning task such as checking our catalog (login, searching and requesting working), making sure Day End process finished correctly as well as several other processes, checking several server logs, making sure Zserver connects to Marina (our ILL for the state), verify that telephony system is working, etc.
12:02 – another call about the Windows machines not recognizing IP’s
12:10- finally got around to posting my first ditl blog post for Monday – only 2 days behind
12:20 – checked email bouncebacks
12:30 – support services called about building request login (forgot) – found username/password so they could login and take care of requests
12:36 – call from Info staff about unable to connect to Marina ILL – turns out they had old URL bookmarked
12:40 – went back to email bouncebacks
12:50 – staff call helpline when they need a specific person and I wind up having to transfer to their personal line – hate being the IT secretary
12:55 – helped staff member clean (properly) a donated laptop
1:10 – lunch
1:40 – removed someone from email alias
1:41 – read and answered some emails
1:45 – wrote announcement to remind staff of URL change on Marina (statewide ILL system) and notified Sailor so they can change it on their site.
2:12 – worked on CIL09 slides
3:02 – created sign to welcome our new staff member Julian Clark to IT dept.
3:16 – posted 2nd day in the life to blog
3:17 – back to CIL09 slides
3:43 – home to get ready for Lost and hope I don’t fall asleep before 9 pm!

A Day in a Life part deux

Day 2 of week of keeping track of what librarians or library workers do so we can see the diversity of the jobs we do.

Tuesday January 27, 2009

8:00 – finally got to work. Snowing in MD and for some reason took more than double my normal time to get here.

8:15 – after logging into both my Linux and Windows computers, getting my bottomless cup of Diet Coke I logged into email, Facebook, Friendfeed, Meebo, Staff Intranet

8:30 – updated blog post to include tags I had forgotten the other day (self professed tag whore)

8:40 – checked voice mail

8:42 – posted 3 job positions to Staff Intranet and library web site (made mental note that I must get HR trained so they can do this and not me)

9:00 – Talked to boss and hubby to help me sort out feelings, fears, and concerns.

9:45 – helped reference desk with customer who wanted to move all his Comcast email to Verizon

9:52 – help staff with Horizon Wimba issue

10:33 – worked on email bouncebacks

10:45 – helpdesk ticket regarding suspended hold turned out to be a matter of timing customer tried to suspend hold at the same time a copy was checked in for them

11:00 – phone call with staff member about Firefox 3.0 and new staff desktop

11:15 – helpdesk ticket regarding reformatting page on SI (staff Intranet)

11:30 – hooligans threw snowballs at our 2nd story windows (right behind my desk).  Inside joke – our Network Admin every year since he’s been at this location has thrown a snowball at the window.  First couple of times we didn’t catch on that it was him.  Now it’s just tradition and we humor him by accusing hooligans not him.

11:45 – worded email about ILL request for purchase and vendors we saw demoed the other day – Relais, AutoGraphics, OCLC and SirsiDynix.  If I had to pick one right now based on what I saw it would be AutoGraphics even though I went in leaning toward Relais (they just aren’t ready but to be honest none of the solutions were there yet).

12:05 – lunch

12:35 – answer a few emails

12:55 – worked on CIL09 slides

1:10 – posted notice to Staff Intranet and IM-ed staff about leaving machines on so updates can run

1:20 – back to CIL09 slides

3:17 – helped staff member with HCL logos and open office – getting staff to understand the concept of opening documents thru a web product is different than thru directory on hard drive

4:00 – head home to play with doggies in the snow

Customer Service With a Helping of Open Source

The power of the Internet. Typing away in Google docs when Meebo pops up with a message from someone coming in through my blog. The conversation started out with a few questions about what IM client I used and turned out to be a programmer from Grooveshark.  He had read my blog post about the widget and he wanted to resolve my problems with it.

I was utterly blown away.  This is what I call customer service 2.0.  Keeping track of what is said about you on the web and addressing issues right away is fantastic.  Only other company to do that was Napster.  The programmer from Grooveshark explained that they had had some issues when they first went live (boy can I relate to that) and he wanted to know if I had created any other widgets since my first one.  I hadn’t and told him I’d give it a try.

Went on to talk a little bit about open source (they use many open source applications and hope to go with more as their software matures) and my library (which is big on open source).  He liked our web site and was impressed with how fast the pages loaded.  Thanks to our web programmer genius, Danny Bouman.

This is definitely the power of the web being used for good.  Going to go back and make a new widget as Grooveshark is becoming fast my favorite music site.

Discovery and Delivery

This phrase has been bantered about a lot over the last several months at MPOW (always thought that should be MPOE – employment- but far be it from me to break from Internet tradition).  It got me thinking – is that what we really do at the library?  It certainly isn’t the only thing we do (our classes [or programs] as well as outreach via our booktalks, etc are very important) but it is a great deal of what we do.

Does it matter whether we discover an answer from a reference book, database, or web site?   Does it matter whether we deliver that “must watch now” DVD into the hands of an anixous customer, recommend a great fiction book, or find the last copy of “Romeo and Juliet” for a last minute high school student?  More importantly should it?

If the job of a library boils down to discovering things for customers and delivering it to them why should it matter how we discover it or what we deliver?  To me it shouldn’t.  So if we say that it doesn’t matter where we get the answer (assuming that whatever the source is it is reliable) and it doesn’t matter what type of material we delivery to the customer – should it matter how the request for discovery or delivery reaches us?

For some staff it does seem to matter.  In this day and age why would a phone call be seen as having more value than an IM or a hold request through the catalog?  A request is a request no matter what form it takes.  Are they not all ways our customers are asking us to discover and deliver something to them?  What makes you busier – 20 phone calls or a pull list of 150-200 items?  If you have a holds pull lists that ranges 150-200 items why can’t you see that as 150-200 customers asking for help?  If I IM you is that better or worse than a phone call?

What if I walk into your library and ask for “Of Mice and Men” is my request of more value (therefore given more attention) than a request for “Dumb and Dumber” on DVD?  If you asked some staff they might not admit it but they certainly give weight to book type requests vs. audio-visual type requests.  Content is content – it shouldn’t matter what the packaging looks like.  Remember the old adage don’t judge a book by it’s cover….. well it’s about time it’s been updated.   Don’t judge content by it’s packaging.

Black Tie vs. Causal Friday

Thanks to The Travelin’ Librarian I’m going to institute a new Friday ritual. Rants! Heaven knows I have enough of them and after reading his well justified one, I thought I’d pull this draft out, dust it off and publish it.

This has been a pet peeve of mine for some time. When did capitalization and punctuation go out the window? Mind you I’m the first to admit I’m a horrible speller (not great at punctuation either) and they created spell check just for me. But that doesn’t excuse not using capitalization. It really rubs me the wrong way to have colleagues send emails with nothing capitalized. What set me off tonight was searching for contacts in LinkedIn to find several people had not capitalized their own names in their profiles (and one was an Assit. Branch Librarian).

I know that the web is more casual than an English term paper. So is it just laziness or is it the word equivalent of casual Fridays taken to the extreme? I still use capitals and punctuation in my emails, blog and any web writing (e.g. comments) but not in IM or Twitter. I can for some reason let it slide in those two arenas since time is of the essence (especially if you are corresponding with a fast typist).

So am I being hypocritical? If I don’t capitalize in IM/Twitter who am I to throw stones?

/here endth the rant

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