Right now I’m working on a lesson plan…

Right now I’m working on a lesson plan that uses video for instruction–inspired by LOEX.


Social Media Overload, or how my Twitter spilled onto my Google + and contaminated my Facebook

“Your peanut butter Google Plus is in my chocolate Facebook!!!”

If you’re old enough to remember who shot J.R. 1,  you may remember the Reese’s commercial  referenced above.  (TLDR/W: a boy and a girl “meet cute” by accidentally mixing up their chocolate and peanut butter).

I missed the initial Google + hoopla ’cause my back was out.  The “invite only” reminded me a little of Google Wave, not to mention 7th grade gym class (eep). I didn’t want to be left out, even though I wasn’t 100% sure what the “cool kids” were doing.

I use social media to keep up with library and information-related developments.  I’m already having issues with cross-pollination between Twitter and my RSS feeds.  Now Google + is adding a whole new layer of “AAAAGH!” to that.   Maybe if I didn’t have a tendency to add RSS  feeds and librarians like crazy, that wouldn’t be an issue.

I have 2 Facebook accounts (one for work, one for family). I mainly use these  to stay current with Facebook since it is so popular with college students.

I have a Twitter account where I follow 599 people and organizations, about 80% of whom are librarians or other information professionals.  I follow over 100 RSS feeds, about 70% of them library and/or tech-related.  I occasionally visit FriendFeed.  There’s lots of overlap here.  I may just use Google + for library-related stuff, if I continue to use it at all.

If you’re not on Google+ yet but you’re curious, here’s a good blog post about it from Agnostic, Maybe.

1 Spoiler alert: It was Kristen.

Addendum (added July 9):
I should mention that I’ve got 850+ Twitter favorites to plow through. The most I’ve had is 1300…the least was 300. I can’t even load them all onto a single page.
Also, after I wrote this entry, I found a post on “How Google + ends social networking fatigue.”

Librarians and cover letters

A couple of really great posts on writing cover letters for library jobs have surfaced in the blogosphere lately. I don’t have any pearls to add–just that it’s interesting to me, as always, to hear advice from someone on the other side of the application process.  I feel lucky to have an information/library-related job at all, let alone one that I enjoy and where I work with supportive colleagues.   If you’re looking for a library or information-related job, check out LISjobs.com for some great resources and advice.

Attempting Elegance blog: “the torment of terrible cover letters”

Lots of comments here.

And a great blog post response by at Across Divided Networks, especially, “There’s a difference between job duties and job accomplishments.”  Simple  advice that is not often heeded.


LOEX 2011

I was lucky enough to go to the LOEX conference for for instructional librarians in Fort Worth a few weeks ago–yes, this is a belated post.  It was also my first library conference. Due to financial reasons, I haven’t been able to attend a conference until now. To attend this one, I applied for a staff grant and my library also paid part of the cost.


Libraries are not different/special/better than other sources of information such as Wikipedia.
–Before instruction sessions, students sometimes fill out a form that directs them to go to a library resource AND Wikipedia and look for synonyms for their topic, to use as possible keywords.

“Popular vs. scholarly” doesn’t cut it anymore.  Have you taught your students transferable skills, or will they be flummoxed when a database changes its interface completely (ex: Lexis-Nexis).

Library instructors at UT Chattanooga refresh their curriculum every 2 years. (impressive!)

–Most students are not going to have access to expensive databases once they graduate, so they’re likely to return to Google and Wikipedia for information. Therefore, they should be taught how to use these resources in a good way.
Information literacy: ability to obtain  & use information for specific need.  Transliteracy: tools used for this purpose–Print vs. databases vs. Wikipedia, etc.

Slideshare presentation


Quick techniques for instant assessment: minute paper, classroom opinion poll (using PollEverywhere), background knowledge probe, and direct paraphrases.  We also took several polls during the session using PollEverywhere.

Macro-assessment, which demonstrates the accountability of an entire instructional program, and classroom assessment, which takes place during individual sessions.

–The speaker also collected our e-mail addresses and any other questions we had after the presentation, and sent a follow-up email after the conference addressing these questions.

Have students make library orientation videos to demonstrate their understanding of the library’s resources and services.

— This technique can  be used during a 50 minute one shot. The instructor quickly puts students into groups, explains the assignment, and hands each group a Flip camera and a list of 4-5 questions on one area of the library. Students have 20-25 minutes to find the answers to the questions and create a brief orientation video that answers the questions. The speaker had a great Prezi with links to sample videos created by students.

Another idea: Use Windows Movie Maker to create a brief video of some of the library services for students to watch at the beginning of the session.

I really hope I can try both ideas at my library.
LOEX 2012 is in Colombus, Ohio.  Definitely not within driving distance like this one was, but I hope I can go.  Now that I know what I’ve been missing, it’s going to be difficult to keep me away. *grin*

–Getting to see how other people do things. I got lots of great ideas, not only from the sessions, but just from talking to other people.
–Meeting  such a variety of other instruction librarians: veterans, newbies, Boomers,  Millenials and Gen X-ers;  faculty and non-faculty; Canadians, Texans, and other; introverts, extroverts, and  iPad-wielding hipsters.

It made me wish I’d started attending conferences earlier in my career (this was my first, ever).   I’m on a fairly tight budget and up to now I couldn’t understand why so many people would pay hundreds out of their own pockets to attend a conference but now I sort of get it.

Some LOEX tweets are below:

Loex Conference tweets

LOEX tweets

So I finally got an eReader….

Nook e-reader

Nook e-reader

Or is it an e-Reader? Or possibly an e-reader?

Recently I was lucky enough to be re-gifted a black and white Nook for Christmas. Despite my interest in shiny new things, I had put off getting one for some time.

a) I’m  frugal

b) I could always read e-books on my iPod Touch,

c) I’m concerned about e-books and the digital divide.

d) Past experiences trying to read e-books  on a computer screen had not impressed me.

e) I hated the idea of possibly not being able to control access to e-books I’d purchased. I’d heard about Amazon deleting illegal copies of 1984 (of all things) from Kindles .  When you buy a print book, it’s yours and that’s the end of it.

One month later…

The good. So far, I like the Nook.  I can definitely see the appeal of getting a book delivered to you instantly.

It uses e-ink and is backlit, so there’s no eye strain.

You can read library books on it, if you have online access to a library with Overdrive.

The bad. It doesn’t have 3G–not a big deal. A bigger deal? I can’t download free e-books from the Project Gutenberg site. I can do this with my iPod Touch, if I use the Kindle app.

The ugly. Unfortunately for me, the closest library with Overdrive is 70 miles away, and requires a resident library card for access. (OK, OK, so that’s really not the Nook’s fault). Even with this access, I’d have to download Overdrive’s software on my computer, find a book that wasn’t checked out, download it to my computer, and *then* transfer it to my device.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Augmented reality & libraries

A screenshot of across air, an augmented reality app for iPhone and iPod Touch. This screen is showing nearby foursquare venues.

Augmented reality is a computerized layer that can give you more information about objects in real life.  Libraries are beginning to explore some of its uses.

Get different pieces of information, depending on your location.   Find out if printers or copiers are nearby.
Discovery/browsing. Browse The Great Gatsby and be directed to a different floor with movie or audio book versions .
Event reminders. Walk by  a meeting room and be reminded about the guest speaker who will be  there tomorrow, and directed to a link with more information.

Not everyone has mobile devices that will work with augmented reality applications. AR apps are not in wide use yet–it may be another few years before they’re so common that patrons will wonder, “Hey, where’s the library’s AR stuff?”

Experimenting with acrossair.
Since I have an iPod Touch,  not a smart phone, there are only a few AR applications that I can use.   One of them is acrossair, an “augmented browser” for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.  You can search nearby tweets, Youtube videos, Wikipedia entries, photos, and more.

Once you find a video, tweet, or what-have-you, you can bookmark, Facebook, tweet or email it to someone.
You can also map the approximate location from where it was taken, get directions to this location and share the location via Twitter, Facebook, or email.
For example:
Let’s say I want to find out if anyone nearby has made a YouTube video.
I click on the YouTube icon and get a map with red pins.  Each pin symbolizes a YouTube video made within a 5, 10, 15, 20 or 50 mile radius, depending on my settings.

map of YouTube videos near me

Clicking on a pin takes me to the YouTube video:
YouTube video found using acrossair

This is where it gets a little weird. For each video, I can map where the user was when he/she made them,and even get directions to the (approximate) location in different “layers”, such as map or satellite.

Why would I want to do this, exactly? I noticed none of my YouTube videos came up, and I’m not sure why.  Not that I’m complaining.

Summary of acrossair:

Pros: Fun, and a novelty.
Cost: Free.
Cons: The interface is a bit crowded. Other people’s information can be shared in ways they don’t know about and/or haven’t explicitly authorized.
Application to libraries: Reputation management.  This is a quick, visual way to find out who in your area is tweeting about or taking pictures of the library.

Related resources:

“How Stuff Works: Augmented Reality.” http://computer.howstuffworks.com/augmented-reality.htm
“Augmented reality and libraries: 8bitlibrary.com.” http://blog.8bitlibrary.com/2010/04/16/augmented-reality-and-libraries/
“Augmented reality using a webcam and a flash.” http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flash/articles/augmented_reality.html
“AR Toolkit.” http://www.hitl.washington.edu/artoolkit/

Fun with QR codes

I know that lots of librarians–and libraries–have jumped on board with QR codes, and so to them this post may be old hat.

I am not one of those librarians.  To me QR codes are still shiny and new.

What are they?
QR stands for Quick Response. I knew QR codes had originated in Japan–what I hadn’t realized was that they’ve been around since the 1990s, according to the manufacturer.    Using them requires a smartphone [edit: or a mobile phone with a camera] and a QR code-scanning app.  When you scan the QR code, it can send you text or push you  to a predetermined URL.   QR codes can be either in print or online.

Library uses
So how does this help libraries, you may well wonder.  Ideas can include using QR codes on promotional posters, maps and book shelves.  Beyond that, QR codes can also be put on instructional handouts–to offer students links to additional resources or to add your contact information to their phones.

Google’s QR code creator, Goo.gl
On Wednesday morning,  one of my colleagues  showed us how to create a QR code from a URL using Google’s QR code tool Goo.gl.  Here’s a quick primer:

  • Copy the desired URL from the web page.
  • Type Goo.gl into Google
  • Paste the URL into the box and click on “Shorten.”
  • Copy and paste your new code into the URL box and add “.qr” (minus the quotation marks) at the end.  Click on Enter. 

Voila! You have a QR code.

Generating your own QR code:
There are 2 ways (that I know of) to generate your own QR code.

  • Use  Goo.gl  to shorten a URL to a website and add “.qr” to the end of it.
  • Use a service such as  Kaywa QR code generator to generate a  QR code for SMS, text, a phone number or a URL.  I’ve tried several services in attempts to make a QR code  for text information, and so far this is the only one that works for me. 

The picture above is a screen shot from my iPod Touch.  After I scan the QR code I’ve just generated, Kaywa gives me the option to text the information (in this case, the name & URL of this blog).

I don’t think QR codes are going to overtake most libraries anytime soon, but in the meantime they’re certainly fun to play with!

Related resources: