Sunday, October 11, 2009

Journeys End - 23 things done

Well this journey has ended. What an introduction to so many new technologies and ways of communicating for personal use or library use. Although some of the modules have only been done once over lightly I am now aware of the possibilities avail to everyone and much more confident in helping others find their way.

A very worthwhile journey and I have had positive feedback from staff - who have said that although they didn't find the tasks easy at first - they are pleased they persevered.

My personal favourites have been learning about RSS feed - quite a hard one to get to grips with, and although I have set up feeds, I must admit to not checking these regularly.
Other favourites have been: exploring the ebooks sites, Skype and Waxmail (can see possibilities in these), Google docs and Wikis, Google's Picasa(wonderful) and Library thing for future community collaborative initiatives.

Thanks to the NSL suport team for their help in completing this journey

#22 - Libraries and SNS ( social networking sites)

The furore over allowing access to the social networking sites from libraries seems to have died down. 2-3 years ago - with concerns expressed over Internet safety - the call was to filter these sites. I am pleased to see that common sense prevailed. Students are now much more aware of Internet dangers, personal security et al. Parents also seem to to have relaxed -perhaps they have investigated the sites and now guide their children in accessing these sites safely.

I do feel that SNS are only one tool in the library communication suite of options. SNS seems to be mainly used by the younger people and these are the difficult patrons to forge a library link with. So Yes lets get with it and have a presence in these sites. However it seems that maintaining this presence is quite time intensive - this being the case future staff funding for these services should be a priority.

But lets not forget all the other library patrons - the traditional methods of communication are important also. A profile in the local newspaper, school visits, community outreach, signage, events...... are just as valid and probably reach more users than a SNS.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Exercise 17 - Explore 1000 sites!!

Well I came - I saw 1000 entries. I was overwhelmed so didn't conquer - couldn't find anything of interest. Will come back to this.

2 Nights later - have decided to explore Skype and Waxmail.

Skype: I have heard this term for a couple of years and understood it was a cheap way of connecting people via the computers. The site tells me "Free skype to skype calls and low cost calls to phones or mobiles" Just a download away. Skype also offers community forums and I found out that many people are using skype to learn other languages. What a wonderful idea. The best way to learn another language is always to converse so this offers oportunitues to converse for free. I had a read thru the forum guidelines or etiquette. I wonder if most of the participants follow the rules.. Another feature is the Heartbeat. Just a click tells you the status of the Skype connections.
A Library story to tell - A proud Library patron introduced me to his grand-daughter - aged 2years. He hadn't seen her since she was 6 days old as she lives in England. However this little treasure walked out of the immigration at the airport - spottted her grandad and ran and gave him a big kiss. All this because she knew him so well as he spoke with her once a week on Skype. Products like these have made the world so small and the price of communicaton so affordable for everybody if they have access. Is this something we should be offering in our libraries - a community Skype access room. I wonder esp as we have so many people from all over the world in our community.

Waxmail: There were 3 sites that advertise the ability to add voice to your emails. Only Waxmail is still operating. I was drawn to this product as I have elderly parents with arthritis in their hands. The typing of emails takes so long and can be quite frustrating for them. From the site " Waxmail lets you talk instead of type. Your voice messages are attached to Outlook emails as MP3s ready to send to any email address. Recipients do not need Waxmail in order to hear the message. " It is free of charge but an advert tag line is displayed. If wanted you can purchase and this removes the tag line. I will remember this site for future investiagation

ALSO Found Jumpclaimer:
"This website enables a traveller to stick digital pins on a world map. Friends and family can then follow the progress. We do this by accepting a simple SMS containing the nearest town to you. We do some analysis to find the latitude/longitude coordinate of the nearest town with that name using your previous location. This is then plotted on a Google map.Short Message Service (SMS) is the ability to send and receive short alphanumeric messages (maximum 160 characters) to and from mobile telephones. There are lots of features coming, as you can see below. We are working hard to fix a few 'misfeatures' and add some extra groovy stuff. Check back soon when we will hopefully have the subscriptions working! "
However they were experiencing problems with overload. May monitor this one - could be a good tool to track the sons overseas. I had tried Map maker from previous exercises - but just didn't cut the mustard as they say.

Exercise 21 - My space and Facebook

I created a facebook account last year. Haven't used it. Have received invites from OTHERS to also join their facebooks - wouldn't know them from Martha. Social networking I guess is just not my scene. I have since been invited to join my son's facebook - probably because I was always asking where the photos are as he is travelling. I do feel uncomfortable about reading his entries as he probably doesn't want his MUM knowing everything he is up to. At his stage will probably withdraw from his site to respect his personal space. I presume I can withdraw my Friendship!!

Having looked at the 3 sites - Bebo, My space and facebook my impression is it is all about FRIENDS - is the world so obsessed with being friends - sound like teenage angst. Can all this be sustained in the future. So many of the participants are self centred. I noted that Facebook has an age policy of 13 years - so many of our library children are on facebook so there are ways of bypassing the security.
I investigated the Auckland and Rotorua Library Bebo sites. The comments on the Auckland site were all at least 50 days old - Not too current - wondered if they were just doing the 23 things exercises. Rotorua's was more vibrant but I got a sense of the trivial from both sites.

Interestingly when I found the home page for Facebook There is very little information on the page. You have to sign in first. FREE in big letters but you have to give your details first in order to proceed within the site.

Exercise 20 - ebooks - The future of Libraries?

The word free in the English language does not distinguish between free of charge and freedom.
Free of charge means that you don't have to pay for the book you received.
Freedom denotes that you may do as you like with the book you received.
This distinction is immaterial if you just want to read a book privately, but it becomes of utmost importance if you want to work with the book:
you are a teacher and want to use the book in class,
you wrote a thesis about the book and want to distribute the book along with your thesis,
you have a literary web site and want to distribute the book to your audience,
or you are a writer and want to adapt the book for the stage.
If the book you got is just free of charge, you may do none of the above things. You may not even make a copy of the book and give it to your best friend. But if the book you got is free as in freedom you may do anything you like with that book. Clearly free as in freedom beats free of charge.
Fortunately almost all Project Gutenberg ebooks are free of charge and free as in freedom.

I found this a good clear explanation on the Gutenberg site.

I then discovered the Baldwin Online Children's Project. Bringing yesterdays classics to today's children. What a wonderful mission statement. WOW - 540 of the old classics. Yes I found a copy of the Aesops fables - I remember those illustrations and those fables are just as wonderful now as when I first read them. The next title was Andrew Langs - the blue fairy book - I had all these books in my childhood. I note that NSL copy in the Junior stack is missing - just as well there is now an on line copy for free. I used Gizmo's freeware - 100+ places for free books on line. A clear and easy to use list. Great sites to explore.

Execise 19 - Those podcasts

Podcasts - I thought I knew what they were. The word podcast is used to refer to a non-musical audio or video broadcast that is distributed over the Internet. I looked at some of the sites given - Most were of no interest to me. Yahoo audio search is now all full of music. I have used podcasts from our local radio stations - Newstalk and National radio when I know I have missed an interesting discussion, recipe, book review or the last episode of the book reading. I have not subscribed to them as an RSS feed. Probably wouldn't as nothing is that important I feel. I am a person who turns on my mobile when I want to ring out not for others to contact me.

On I did find some interesting Library podcasts. Mostly from University or large American public libraries. The topics covered a wide range of interests - coming events - author talks, how to tutorials. I must admit I found the swirling graphics on the page quite off putting. I think I would prefer watching a video presentation rather than just listening esp on a PC. However I can see possibilities for RSS feeds to just phones or ipods.

I found searching quite frustrating. I chose my genre then tried to narrow the search. Nope - not able to do this. Had to hunt for keywords or by genre.

Couldn't get Podnova to work - unable to download was the message - As I am not willing to load my computer up with unnecessary files I didn't proceed.

Sorry not going to set up another RSS feed as per exercise - not using the Bloglines now for all the other feeds I have subscribed to so unwilling to add more.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Exercise 18 - YouTube

What a wonderful invention this is. Everyone knows about YouTube now, even my elderly father. Most people use it for a comedy fix.
However this weekend I used it for uploads on the Samoa tragedy. Wondering if the actual waves were caught on video - answer is NO. However pictures of the destruction bring home the scale of the tragedy. These videos will be there for all to see for many many years - an archive of a moment in history.

Last year I also used this tool for an unusual library query. A patron came in with a very unusual query. He wanted to know what the flight deck of a certain aircraft looked like. YouTube had a video on that was just what the patron wanted. I have also used the site for how to videos. Knitting stitches, artists singing a particular song....

From another library perspective - yes we should be using this technology on our websites. Library tours, how do use library resources, how to use the OPACs,....... It's uses are seemingly endless - only the will to implement is missing from our library. I did find one video showing the turning of the sod for the new Bhead library.

I will be continuing to use this site for many years.