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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RSS is Dead, Long Live RSS?

Matrice de services autour du RSS
Image by loic_hay via Flickr

I have to admit that my jury is still out on RSS.  I understand it, have taught classes about it and have used several different readers over the years.  So I found it interesting that @lrainie retweeted 2 blog articles about RSS today.

First one, The Top 5 Reasons RSS Readers Went Wrong, pointed out very good reasons that RSS exerpience just isn’t what it should be.  I completely agreed with #2 & #5 – “One of the things I like about shared links in Twitter & Facebook is that I can start or read a conversation about the story and otherwise give feedback (i.e. “like” or retweet) to the publisher of the news as part of the experience.” – “The process of adding feeds still takes too many steps. If I see your Twitter profile and think you’re worth following, I click the “follow” button and I’m done.”  I’m not thinking that Twitter is the answer for everything but they do make it easy to “subscribe” and share.

The second article, If You Think RSS is Dead Then That’s Your Loss and It’s a Big One,  of course takes the other side of things.  My feelings is that Marshall is entitled to his opinion as much as Dare and Sam are entitled to theirs.

My jury is still out.  I use Google Reader and have quite a few feeds but to be honest I barely read them anymore.  I pay attention to my Twitter stream and Friendfeed.  I follow people like @lrainie, @Mashable, @rww, and @Jeremiah Owyang that give me perspective on the social web and the Internet in general.  I follow people like @MLx, @baldgeekinmd, @msauers, @libraryman, @lorireed, @pollyalida and others that keep me up on my profession (Libraries & Training).  I follow people like @nengard, @ranginui, @wizzyrea, @Miromurr, @gmcharlt, @magnusenger, @nirak and more that keep me up on things going on in the Open Source community.

I don’t know if RSS is dead but for me the social web and looking to people I know and/or trust (compare to some news agency) is MY way of keeping on top of things.

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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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Why Is This Even a Question?

What is a Browser?

I have the utmost respect for LibrarianbyDay but I’m going to have to disagree (again) with her latest blog post.   She commented on this video too and feels that the average Joe doesn’t necessarily need to know what a browser is.  Personally I think that is root of most computer problems – people (average Joe or not) don’t know ENOUGH about the machines they use.

Computers are pretty much a part of all of our lives.  We use them at work, at home and they are in almost everything from our cars to our electronic equipment.  I feel that people DO need to know not only what things are called but how to use them properly.  I’m not saying we all need to be programmer and start writing code but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have some computer competencies.

It is important to call things by the right name.  If I call it a whatizt but it is actually a howzer you won’t understand what I’m talking about, you won’t be able to help me and I’ll just get frustrated.   As someone who has to troubleshoot computer problems (which can often be user problems) nothing is more frustrating to both the user and me then when we can’t communicate.  Some might say “but you are speaking techie” – no, I am not.  I am known for using plain English but I will call things what they are (often followed by a short description or analogy so non-techies get it).

So let’s not perpuate this culture of not knowing what a browser or an operating system or anything else to do with these machines that are such a part of our lives.  Let’s educate people in at least the basics of computer literacy.  As a trainer I try to pass along nuggets every time I teach a class regardless of the main content.  If they are using computers in the class I’m going to be sure they know the browser we use is Firefox, that tab browsing is fantastic way to make your life easier (CtrlT), keyboard commands, etc.  I don’t think it is expecting too much of people that work with computers daily to know not only the correct words but some basic literacy when it comes to computers.

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Best in Show – Best on the Web

aaronAnother day, another attempt at live blogging at CIL2009. Probably spending my day in Track C.

The Best of the Web – Aaron Schmidt.

Aaron had us introduce ourselves to someone next to us and talk about what we like on the web.

Firefox – cool another fan. Greasemonkey fan as well, smart keywords, better Gmail

Google Reader – Helvetireader

Book City Jackets – brown wrappers – cool idea for display perhaps for banned book week?

Wikimedia commons – sister site of wikipedia

Flickr image search – creative commons – pictobrowser gives you code to include a slide show on a web page

Skitch – screenshot tool – annotate them – upload to Flickr from Skitch

Jing – only Mac or Windows (their loss no one smart enough or good enough to program it for LInux)

Screentoaster – completely web based

Vimeo – artier than Youtube, clean – free or pro accounts – customize how they are embedded

PostRiank – library’s blog feed address and will tell you which posts are more popular than others (must do this for our blogs at work) – helps you gear content to your audience

copypastecharacter.com – if you don’t know code you can copy and paste it into your web site or blog. I’d prefer that you learn the code but okay.

Today’sMeet – create temporary online space – discuss things – had the front row setup a room and login pretty simple

screenshot-2

Doodle

Let me Google that for you

Color lovers!! YES one of my favorites.

TagCrowd – enter URL or block of text and pulls out the tags for you or you can use Wordle

Qapture – real time capture of what is going on in Twitter mentioned this morning at the keynote

Twitter – power of searching on twitter pulled Aaron in – Tweetdeck select who you want to display helps you filter out unwanted tweets

VYEW – online web conferencing tool

http://bacoliciou.us – run a web page through and puts a piece of bacon on it – friend sees web page w/bacon

Thematic theme for WordPress – easy to modify cheap way to improve library web site

Ted talks (or videos) – expensive conference but they bring the interesting people together

Google Voice – for voice mail – get voice mail transcribed so you can read it

Google Forms – create a form

Netnewswire – for Macs only Rss reader

What is Prezi? – not intuitive – neat looking presentations – bit of a learning curve by invite only right now

280Slides – online presentation maker – make, save and share

Lovely Charts – register and make org charts, network diagrams, flow charts

Typetester – enter sample text – css params in the middle and will see 3 different fonts – then copy CSS and paste it

must use the right tool for the job – and library is the place to find them

Community Partnerships – We Are All In This Together

103_0474Building Community Partnerships: 25 ideas in 40 minutes given by Kathy Dempsey, Editor of Marketing Library Services Newsletter. 2nd live blog attempt so pardon the spelling and grammatical errors.

what makes sense for public may not make sense for government, special – pick what will work for your particular library needs

don’t rely on just money alone – trade for inkind services

join local chamber of commerce, lion’s club, make contact – someone who knows you is less likely to slash your budget

partner with grocery stores – story times love it – book drops – open small branches in the grocery store – not an extra trip to go to the library – they need food

annual book sale at local mall – empty stores gave them spaces for the books

mall was happy because it brought more shoppers in

find groups that are in similar situation – other groups – historical society – what you do someone else is doing it – partner instead of compete

are you targeting support staff? assist to dean? when they need info for bosses they come to you and have some influence with those hire up – same with county commissioners – they are looking to do better work for their bosses

trade deals with small business – local flower shop in kind donations – flowers w/publicity – it is small but building a relationship with another person and business

IT experts – they are busy – want to run ideas or bounce off ideas – or maybe trade some services for personal or library’s needs – do work for you exchange research for them

college professors – even if not academic library – assign class projects that are work for the library – need a new logo – or branding campaign, – helps the teachers as well – helps them not give the same thing year after year – gives the student a real world assignment

scout troups – boy/girls – work to do for badges, build bookshelves, garden, physical tasks that could become an assignment for a group like that – takes heat off troup leader to come up with it all

form alliances with video game stores – grab teens, see what you can trade – give kids credit or coupons – for X number of books they read in Summer Reading Game, gives you more street cred, gaming club at schools – partner with the ones already in the schools – helps both you and the other gaming club to not be afraid you are working togethr ( you may have more space – meeting rooms)

trade training with other trainers – in between conferences do something more local – don’t over look your local experts – anyone who has skills that your staff or customers want – trade inkind – don’t be afraid to ask to trade services

meetings with liaisons w/government officials – get to know the staff members – gives you and in for the legislators – they will ask their aide , put a human face on the library a lot of what partnerships are about

AARP need a lot of information – go to trusted sources – become a trusted source – let local AARP to have meetings in libraries – get on their agenda to help promote yourselves, they think of other groups first – get in there and make sure they think of libraries as well

Choose your influencers – your message will get spread easier

have conversation with them – ask them first

Senior Citizen centers ask them for something in return – volunteers, to do storytimes, help other people, do inventory, writing grant applications

Getting involved w/local politics and staff members – as regular citizen join political action groups, even just the city planners, they have a lot to say about your budget – get to know you as a real person not just a building – never under estimate the power of personal relationships

offering research services to government officials – roads, new intersections – if you know what is going on in the community – offer your services for traffic accidents stats for ___ to help you write your plan

Make alliance with everyone in the community – want to join and do something that matters – don’t always have thousands of dollars but even just 10 will help, sponsor trees (like the angel trees at Christmas) – spell it out for them make it easier

birthday party – book plate – donated then story time around that story – got to feel special – for just $10 that would live in the library for the future

Reporters – they need happy stories – ESPECIALLY NOW – local reporters know you are available not just your press releases – need a quick last min. picture – senior at computer, kid happy w/book, it fills space and put some happiness into the news, offer to write columns about what is going on at the library – you can do research for them too (reporter on deadline – fact checking)

causal advisory boards – get buy ins, best way to make programs/classes instead of guessing is talk to them – never any reason to guess – ask them – don’t make it a formal advisory board – drop ins – you want us to do something for you – what is it? what are the best hours, what interests you? then let them go out into the community they (libraries) are here to serve us – feel ownership and personal relationship with you – parent story time adv. board – what time is best? what craft? do you want to be parental advisor for story time – doesn’t have to be staff time let them work with you (may know other parents and draw in others) building advocates and saving money on glue!

SOCIAL NETWORKS – David Lee King’s blog post – who should you friend and why should you friend others than just other libraries – how to friend people on Facebook – don’t just toss it out there – give them a reason to join you – have a reason to have a page

Parents – are partners – not just sit here for an hour after school – tell them what you have and what the library can be to them as a family or to their children – education

tell as many people the most basic things – what you think they already know – they have no idea

building alliances with k-12 – talk to school teachers, what are the kids working on, what are their plans for the fall- what can we do to help them? conversation – more recognition, align w/education – makes a difference. Howard County Library is considered part of the education budget because our Executive Director and CEO Valerie J. Gross firmly believes that what we do is education and just as important as what the schools do. By aligning ourselves with the schools we have a different budget and more respect in the community.

Consultants – reciprocal relationships where you work for each other – they need information

Approach people – don’t ask like your asking for a favor – we are as valuable as any business out there – start with someone you know or comfortable with – if you know someone from other events start there – role play with colleagues to get comfortable – have a starting line in mind – be the human face of the library – spoof official sponsorships everyone has an “official sponsor” these days – talk to people all the time – on trains, in lines – have some documented facts in your back pocket – use the facts that have already been gathered for you – start at the end and build backwards – what do you want the outcome to be.

Tips for Those Going Through an ILS Migration

I suddenly feel lighter than I have in weeks. All thanks to Debra Denault of Liblime for coming to Howard County Library and helping those of us involved in our migration from SirsiDynix‘s Horizon to Koha to get a grasp on things.

This is not the first migration I’ve been a part of but certainly this one was a lot different. Last time we basically changed from one product offered by a vendor to another product. This time we were going with an open source ILS and support would come from many places (our data migration company – Liblime and the whole Koha community). I often wasn’t sure if I should submit something to the community, chat with the developers in IRC or just what was my first step. I was not only learning how Koha worked (I am creating content for the testing or discovery phase as well as helping with creating the training for staff) but I was learning a completely different way of getting answers or help.

Change can be scary for most folks but I’ve often found it interesting. Change gives me something new to focus on, play with, explore. This time, however, I’ll have to admit that I was a bit scared. This time it was a little bit out of my comfort zone. At one point this week I Twittered that I knew there was a lesson in here somewhere for me to learn but it wasn’t revealing itself to me just yet.

But that has all changed. Something clicked. Something stopped being scary. Something lightened my load. I think it was having someone, Debra, who knew the product inside and out be here to walk us through things. Debra’s calm nature (although she swears there is a Type A personality underneath), her depth of knowledge, her ability to get answers immediately from folks at Liblime was the perfect mix to calm nerves, soothe the worried SysAdmin in all of us.

Debra along with Darrell Ulm of Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library, another Koha library, helped me not only get my head around things but helped me put things in perspective.

So I’d like to pass along to you some tips for getting through a migration:

  • “That’s a bug!” is a good thing. Both Debra and my boss, Amy De Groff, have helped me to see this one. At first I felt like “Oh great, another problem.” But now I can see what they see “Oh great, we can fix it!” Lesson being that the first step to fixing any problem is recognizing what it is. Once you can do that fixing is easy.
  • Collaboration eases any burden. Many of the things we had grown to expect from previous software weren’t part of Koha. Nice thing is since it is open source anyone can contribute to the success of Koha. Better yet, find another library (or 2) that want the same functionality as you and share the cost. Collaborating not only is a great way to give back to the community (as well as have another set of eyes give you a different perspective) but it eases the burden of cost.
  • Ask, don’t assume. We all know the old adage “Don’t assume because you make an ass out of U and Me”. Ask about everything, don’t assume you know the answer or that someone will think you silly for asking. Nothing is too small or too large. If we hadn’t asked some of the questions we did we may have never figured out some of our problems were caused by us.
  • Take your time. An old boss of mine used to drill into our heads “With accuracy, comes speed”. That is true with migrating as well. Don’t hesitate to say this is going too fast. Don’t hesitate to say you want to do it right and being rushed only stresses everyone. Stressed staff make more mistakes. By stepping back and examining things we slowed down and we now feel when we roll this out it will be a really great product instead of something we just rushed out. This will be a ILS system we can be proud of.
  • Reach out. Whether you have the benefit of the open source community or a list of other libraries using your vendor – reach out to them. This one didn’t come easy to me at first. I’ve exchanged several emails with the aforementioned Darrell Ulm. He has pointed out somethings. All the experts in the world are great but talking to someone who uses the product is invaluable. He also reminded me of the next tip.
  • Stay calm. This wasn’t always easy but Darrell was right, panic never helps anything. He shared that he had his share of panic about his migration and it actually set him back at times. He said that Liblime pulled through their migration quite well. Staying calm helps to keep things in perspective. So if you need help, follow my next tip.
  • Step back every so often. I found myself getting so wrapped up in Koha that I couldn’t focus on much else. I was coming home exhausted, going to bed early and arriving the next morning no more rested than I had been the night before. I insisted one night that my husband and I turn off the tv, unplug the computer and sit outside in front of a roaring fire in our chimenea. It recharged my batteries and gave me a clear head to face things the next day. Do what you need to do to step back and recharge.

So if you are going through a migration, I hope my tips have helped. I’d love to hear some more tips that helped or are helping you to get through.

Open Mouth, Insert Both Feet

*sigh*  I should have known it wasn’t going to be a good day.  Both dogs (Lab mix and English Springer Spaniel) slept with me last night but due to windows being opened decided to alert me every 2 hours that something was in our yard.  God knows if there really was anything out there other than our usual visitors (deer).  But my sleep circle was off to say the least.

I seem to be on a roll today.  I’ve managed to open mouth insert foot at least 3 times this morning.  Twice on the web and once in person (although that one was a setup by my boss who was laughing the whole time).  That maybe a new record.

I’ve prided myself, up until now, on keeping snarky/opinionated comments out of social networking feeds.  For several reasons – a) my feeds are subscribed to by more than just family or friends but many co-workers and fellow library people and b) the old adage still holds true … “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.  Obviously I didn’t follow directions well today.

I made the terrible mistake of commenting on something from our staff Intranet.  It was my opinion but since it wasn’t worded in the best manner it should have stayed inside my head where it would have done no harm.  Instead I vocalized to the social networking community.  I thought I was being smart by not posting it to Twitter but to FriendFeed instead.  Something told me that I should haven’t posted it but I thought “Pshaw, no one will read this on FriendFeed so I’m safe.”  FAIL!

I completely forgot that not only Twitter but FriendFeed as well feeds into my Facebook account.  Lo and behold the comment that I didn’t want known was read by the person I didn’t want to read it because they are a friend on Facebook.   How’d did I find this out?  That person graciously sent me a humorous comment on my status.  Talk about 20 shades of red.

So what did I learn?  Don’t post snarky/opinionated comments to your social networking sites?  No, I knew not to do that but instead I learned that if I don’t have anything nice to say that it belongs inside my head not out on the web.

So since I publicly made a comment I figured the best way to apologize is to also do it publicly and ironically through social networking sites.  My blog feeds into Twitter, FriendFeed and my Facebook account.  So hopefully the gracious person with a great sense of humor will read my most sincere apology and know that I learned a big lesson today.  I can’t thank them enough for not calling me out but instead using humor to diffuse what could have been a nasty situation if they had chosen that route.  They took the high road where I did not.  I am humbled by their choice and will apply it to all my future Tweets/Feeds/Posts.

You Give Librarian a Bad Name

*shudder*  Stumbled upon this after reading on the BBC News about the Norwegian’s knighting a penguin – SIR Nils Olav if you please (yeah, we Linux folks love anything to do with penguins).

I dislike the word/title/name Librarian being used to describe that creep (not the penguin but the pedophile).  What he was doing demeans, disgraces the noble profession and I don’t like him being called a “librarian” even if the word was in quotes.  Think I’ll stick with my penguin stories.