Archive for March, 2008

I was working on a Facebook account for the library for a while before the 23 Thing’s opportunity came up, trying to create a forum for chat and recommendations amongst the patrons themselves, particularly the YA crowd.  However, I have had the worst time getting Facebook to accept the library as a “real name” – every time I tried (even attempting to open a whole new account), it was automatically, and frustratingly, rejected.  I knew it was possible because I had seen several other libraries on Facebook – it’s just a matter a finagling (it finally consented to take a hyphenated version of the library’s name for further consideration). 

I am a little worried about the time factor in keeping up with all of these hyper-interfaced conversations, though, as most days it is all we can fit into a few hours to keep up with the face-to-face exchanges.  Doubtlessly, it’s a completely unfounded concern.  Intended to foster dialogue between patrons themselves, both the Facebook account and the blog (established as an open forum) should be relatively self-sustaining discussion groups.  And as I am finding, it’s not the overwhelming response I ought to concern myself with, but more likely the lack thereof. 

 I do hope that some of these technological things are useful to our patrons, and that some of them may take the space and time to talk to each other, ANDDD hopefully somewhere in the process find a good book or two, which is still what the library is all about to me….

The particular question posed for this assignment was: What do you think of libraries using social networking sites?  I think that nothing will ever displace the satisfaction of picking up a real book made of touchable paper with flippable pages and sitting in a circle with a group of 8 or 10 other women who have read the same book they also hold in their hands, and talking about what happened in the pages, out of the pages, in and to the characters, and in and to us as readers.  Nothing will displace the satisfaction of meeting new people coming in and asking “how do I get a membership?,” or checking out a stack of books to people who can barely wait to get home to crack them open, or sitting in front of the 520s with a little girl who has a newfound fascination with astronomy and wants to know how stars are born.  This is what I find most meaningful. 

So what do I think?  I think “social networking” is a lower form of human interaction.   But, unfortunate as it is, I also think that since social networking has so virally spread, if we as libraries want to best reach our patrons, then, like it or not, we must traipse ourselves to the hyperworld of linked friends, status updates, and the choppy delays of message board conversings….


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My feeds: Pop Goes the Library, NPR for news, Library Stuff, Technorati, and Lifehacker for resources/tech info, Unshelved for a little humor, and the Library of Congress blog because it actually looks interesting…. 

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One of the writing prompts for posting on Thing 7 was “How can libraries use RSS or take advantage of this new technology?”  First given that question, I had no immediate answer, but adding RSS feeds per the exercise, I soon enough stumbled upon an answer in the LIS News – Librarian and Information Science feed in a bold headline proclaiming: Public Libraries Told to Innovate or Die Out.  Hmmm, I guess that seems like a good enough use reason to me….  Suggestions given to the London-based libraries this directive was addressed to included “introducing a web-based lending service with home delivery and striking deals with Starbucks or Costa” and opening during evenings and all weekend.  This struck me as such a peculiarly relevant find considering the Listen Up! Vermont audio book consortium just took effect one week ago tomorrow. 

On a graver note regarding libraries and their use of RSS feed and technology, check out the Annoyed Librarian’s blogpost (http://annoyedlibrarian.blogspot.com/) from Wednesday, March 5.  Particularly interesting in light of London’s dictate to their public libraries and what might now comprise professional activities….

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Of all things technology related, the thing of interest to me this week is the whole notion of time, and the paradox of timesavers becoming timetakers (or is it just that we try to insert that many more “to do’s” into everyday?).  Or is it that our sense of time has warped?  A few more than a hundred years ago, it was nothing for a missive to take weeks to get from sender to recipient – all communication took time, even telegraphed.  Now I have a conniption if it takes ten seconds for the barcode scan to go through checking out books to a patron….sigh. 

 I think also, though, that technologically completed tasks – proper check-offs from the to do list – somehow don’t bear the same sense of accomplishment that the sight of a newly-emptied book cart, or straighted Fiction stacks, or a pile of catalogued and processed books brings to me. 

Is it just me, or does technology not save as much time as we’d hoped it would?  Do emails eat up far more time than intended?  Snags in online projects drag them out far beyond the allotted few minutes?  Do we accomplish more in less, or simply less? 

 This seems like such a downer post – I should have written about something fun, like craigslist or ebay or flickr again…. :0)

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originally uploaded by SebaMaya.

I must say, the Flickr mash-up “Retrievr” is sweeeet! I drew the outline of a house that looked like it came off a 4-yr old’s magnadoodle, and Retrievr came up with all sorts of beautiful photos (only one of which, ironically, was a building – a nice little stone shed – instead giving me many pictures of people, one most notably of a woman picking her nose which showed up several times on several different attempts. It is evident how Retrievr rates my sketching abilities). But isn’t this a great picture? I am inspired – I hope my hound is prepared to pose….. :0)

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old card catalog...

old card catalog…,
originally uploaded by 7-how-7.

Wasn’t the justifying premise for the internet and its use “ease” and “speed”? Information at our disposal, in seconds or microseconds, with a few tappings of some keys? And, true enough, the internet and technology does ease many tasks – I’ve never had the dubious pleasure of filing hundreds of cards a night, or typing 3 or more sets of cards for every acquisition, or attempting to wrangle complex collections into some trackable semblance of order – all thanks to the automation in place before I came to this profession.

But what about the things that are lost? Like cherrywood and the cantankerous/quirky personalities and preferences of each typewriter? The photo of this card catalog is sentimental, bringing to mind paper edges and discovered titles and subjects and books from when I was a kid standing at the card catalog and rummaging through for the curiosity of what I might find. I hated the transition to computer catalogs when I actually had to type in a keyword – I didn’t want to find anything specific, I wanted to see simply what was out there! But with specificities and limiters, the new card catalog demanded I have something particular in mind.

In the blurb tagging this photo, the photographer sentimentalizes a little himself, saying, “Does anyone even remember the dewey decimal system…or dewey himself? This card catalog is purely decorative, all the drawers are locked….” Is he, too, wistful, looking at these remnants of what used to be?

Perhaps, though, I am sentimental because I know only the frustration of the present and technology – how long it takes to upload a single picture from flickr.com to my blog when one small thing goes wrong, or the frustration of a kinesthetic/visual learner flapping back and forth between pages on a computer screen while desperately wanting to lay it all down on paper and spread it out on a desk. If I had the perspective of the fingers once working this card catalog, perhaps my response would be hallelujahing that the thing was finally locked…..

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