The Shifted Librarian -

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* Friday, May 27, 2005

Taking the Heat

So Brent’s all angry at me now. When I first scheduled the gaming sessions, we talked about him coming with me for the day, but I hadn’t mentioned it since then, just in case. He’s referred to it a couple of times, asking when it was coming up, but I always just responded with a vague “soon.” This week I found out he had an English test that day, so I didn’t mention it at all. You can imagine how upset he was when he found out where I had been all day. It didn’t help that he watched me upload the pictures to Flickr, either.

He first noticed the case for AADL’s DVD sitting on the kitchen table, so I explained to him how they held the tournaments at their library every weekend during the “season.” His immediate response, of course, was, “Can I go?” Even when I noted it was six hours away (taking into account construction traffic), he still wanted to go. I told him how staff from their library came to my office to teach other librarians in Illinois how to do these tournaments themselves, and he thought that was very cool. He also rationalized the whole thing by saying that I probably didn’t take him because I was too scared I’d lose to him (no doubt he would have won every tournament!). He’s excited about the idea of going to the library to watch and play against his friends.

You know, normally I talk about shifting library services to where our users our, rather than forcing them to come to us. However, gaming is a great example of the reverse, and it definitely works for bringing in young boys.

Interestingly, during our conversation, my Treo was sitting on the table in front of us. When Brent realized it was there, he said, “Put on some music, dawg.” He very much thinks of my phone as an MP3 player. Of course the rest of the night, all I heard about was how big I owe him for not taking him to the gaming workshops….

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NEASIST Podcasts Now Available

If you are subscribed to the NEASIST blog with a podcast-capable aggregator, you already have the MP3s on your hard drive, but for everyone else, the files are now available at the following links:

Megan’s Talk (22.8 MB, 1:06:10 minutes)

My Talk (20.6 MB, 59:54 minutes)

Michael’s Talk (18.2 MB, 52.50 minutes)

Panel Discussion and Questions (12.1 MB, 35:08 minutes)

There’s also a repost that pulls together all of the Powerpoint presentations, so you can follow along if you’re at a computer. I haven’t listened to them yet, but I’m not sure my podcast will work very well without viewing the slides because I use so many screenshots to illustrate my points.

Thanks to the NEASIST crew for all of their hard work on this and to my co-presenters for making it such an interesting day!

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Gaming Photos Up on Flickr

I just finished posting on Flickr a set of pictures from today’s gaming in libraries workshops. If you weren’t able to attend, you really missed a great session!

BTW, I tagged them all “gaminginlibraries” in case anyone else wants to play along, too. Or maybe we should start a group?

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* Thursday, May 26, 2005

Gaming @ Your Library Sessions Blogged!

Today's Tech Summits on gaming in libraries were fan-tast-ic! I couldn't have asked for better presenters, as expressed by the participants themselves who noted on the evaluations how enthusiastic and knowledgeable Eli and Erin were (are!). Everyone learned a lot, and the actual game play was a BIG hit.

Several people told me that they hadn't expected to enjoy themselves so much, and that you truly don't understand gaming until you experience it yourself. You haven't lived until you've seen a roomful of librarians competing against each other in Mario Kart and DDR! In fact, several people stayed after the second session ended just to keep playing (and I think Dan B. probably stopped to purchase a PlayStation and DDR package on his way home!). We even had a few extra minutes to let some of our staff play, including our executive director, Alice Calabrese!

I've already got two applications for our grant on my desk, and I suspect we'll get more than 16 libraries that want to participate based purely on the level of enthusiasm in each session. Our plan is to draw names out of a hat in order to be fair if that does indeed happen.

I'll post the application to the MLS web site tomorrow for those MLS libraries that weren't able to attend. Eli is going to send me a copy of their presentation, which I'll also post to our site. Oh, and I'll have a copy of AADL's DVD to circulate to those libraries that would like to borrow it.

So without further ado, here are my combined notes from the presentations. Unfortunately, they really don't give you the full flavor of Eli's and Erin's wit and wisdom, but they do illustrate just how great AADL's program is! (If you're reading this in your aggregator, you'll need to click through to the full post - sorry.) Sorry about the length of this post, but MT won't display the extended entry, so I'm forced to put it all in the body in order to get the text to display at all.

95% of teenage boys play video games (!!!!!!!!!!)

not a big market for book rental; libraries missed the boat on video game rentals, which is why it's such a huge commercial market now

this is what kids today think of first when they think of “content”

current YALSA strategic plan includes language about supporting emerging technologies

Erin: don’t have to be a gamer to facilitate this; can advocate for what teens want and need from us without judgement

Department of Labor study: determined that the average teen spends 7 minutes a day reading content in their hands (3–1/2 hours per month!) or not on the internet

Eli: don’t want them to grow up to be taxpayers based on 7 minutes a day

it's difficult to just circulate titles; teens are trading games with each other, which is competition for you

“The Bun” - our image problem; even the Jedi librarian had a bun!
— just circulating titles or putting up a kiosk of sample games gives you what Toys ‘R Us already does, except they don’t hassle you and limit how long you can play

AADL did tournaments to try and create a community

tournaments give kids something they can’t do at home

first choice you have to make is to pick your game; ideally one that can be used with multiple audiences

their DDR tournaments are 50% girls, but Mario Kart is only about 5%

they did monthly events on Saturdays: single player race, single player battle, co-op team race
— each event has four winners that go to the final championship, where there are 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place winners
— also had a wildcard tournament for eight spots in the championship round
— difficult organization of the tournament, but the kids understand it innately

multiple rounds and events meant a kid wasn’t knocked out for the whole day for one loss

if/when they have to start turning kids away, non-card holders will be first, which will be even more incentive for kids who are residents to get cards

grand prize was an iPod
— jaws dropped when this was announced

arranged tournaments by grade, not age

they broadcast the championship tournament live on cable access
— had 60 kids at the big Sunday tournament; two birthday parties even came
— big niche for younger kids
— AADL was a little unprepared for the chaos with the younger set

gave the kids who were in the DVD a copy

the kids really get into this, so the AXIS blog gives them an outlet for their mania

they suggest using consoles instead of computers because you can spend as much on one computer as on a multiple console setup

the big key to the setup is to have a completed game saved - you'll need to get that from one of the kids; nothing makes you look more rinky-dink than having only the basic cars, paths, etc.

if you can't afford the larger setup or if you want to test the waters first, you can have kids bring in their own dance pads for DDR
— DDR Max is the favorite among teens; teens won’t see DDR Extreme as being fair because it evens out the competition and lets novices beat experts

ideally you want a ceiling-mounted projector for DDR so that heads don’t chop off the view and you don't have to dance around the projector (literally!)

for the tournaments, they’re not doing pre-registration for now; that will change when they have to start turning people away

AADL will release the new version of their software as open source this summer after they revamp it; a library could use an Excel spreadsheet if they had to

in DDR, participants get two dances; for Mario Kart, they get three or four races
— combine scores to see who moves on

DDR requires you to provide a lot of drinking water!

then come single elimination rounds; head-to-head DDR

need 2 people minimum to run a tournament – an emcee and a scorekeeper

for the focus groups, let the kids bring in their own games and talk about what the second season should be like; AADL let the kids play for two hours, talked to them for a half-hour and got good feedback; 20–22 kids showed up!

flourescent lights say “school” so turn them OFF!

for the next season of DDR, AADL is planning an extra camera with a fish-eye lens to focus on their feet

do a season, not just an event; it becomes more valuable to the kids; not just “an afternoon at the library”

schedule heavily during kids breaks, have lots of open play time; the kids love it and the parents love it even more!

next season, every weekend will be a tournament weekend at AADL, with all three groups each weekend: adults/families on Friday nights, teens on Saturdays, and younger kids on Sundays

really only need two pads for a DDR tournament; you might want to have two separate tournaments with different levels of difficult (beginner and expert) so that novices aren't competing against experts

AADL did a Mario Kart tournament during their staff in-service day that helped get buy-in
— started the tournament by having the director and 3 managers play with the game on the big screen
- this helped the staff understand the program, and they were able to talk to patrons about it when asked

when you promote it, you can’t just use traditional places like newspapers
— AADL uses telephone pole posters, which is a huge communication medium for these kids
— post about it on the game’s fan sites; AADL got 5 or 6 participants just from one posting on a DDR fan site, all of whom had never been in the library before

kids looked at the library differently
the library didn’t have to force their information on them
the kids are using the library more
parents are happy that the kids are not passive in the library anymore

Eli: this isn’t intended to be a loss leader; this is a core service, but it’s also the easiest way to show you have value to an audience that doesn’t feel that way; these are your future taxpayers!

tournaments are to video games what storytimes are to picture books; anyone can check out a picture book, but we still do storytime

it really helps to get your library as a focus in their hearts and minds; shows you “get it”; really gets the boys in the door

Eli: “if you hand them a bibliography, you’re through”; do a commercial instead; hand out flyers instead

only 17% of the games sold are M, 51% were E; realize that only a few bad apples get all the press, but that there really are a lot of great games out there

AADL did an “adult DDR” night for 20–somethings on a Friday night; this is a tough group to market to, so they try position themselves as a “pre-bar” activity

call it a “family” tournament and the teens will stay away in droves, but families will come (that way the teens won't dominate games against younger kids or adults) ;-)

saw a steady 40% growth rate throughout the season, from tournament to tournament; word-of-mouth spread via the kids themselves; some kids even called friends from the tournaments to tell them they *had* to come see what was going on!

kids continually want the stakes raised, so “seasons” are best ("just like on reality TV shows, except AADL didn't do a clip show one week before the final event")

program school breaks intensively; AADL did 4 tournaments in 5 days – 2 open plays, a DDR tourney, and a Mario tourney

during open play, the kids will even organize their own tournaments and will do their own color commentary (the color commentary on the DVD is priceless!)

25–30% of the kids coming to the tournaments have never been to the library before, even in the AADL community that has a 70% cardholder rate

AADL plans to add enhanced services for cardholders, like letting them track their stats online!

by doing a tourney at “the neutral zone”, an independent teen center outside of the library, they reached a whole new audience, some of whom started coming to the library for the tournaments

the idea of holding “seasons” is not different from what we’re already doing - storytimes already run in 8–week sessions

during school breaks, AADL schedules tournaments during the day, rather than at night

median age of participants is probably 15

they’ll have 20–25 kids pacing outside waiting to get in, trying to bribe them to open the doors early

they're doing a pre-season exhibition tournament before season 2 starts!

every round will be televised live in season 2

they're going to add Super Smash Brothers and Madden 2005 “2–minute drill” events, as well as Monkey Ball and some others

every championship round will be a different, unannounced game, often ones that you can’t fit a whole tournament around

AADL is working on promoting tournaments at pre-shows in movie theaters (that’s where your audience is, and they’re paying more attention to that than to TV ads)

they're also adding “Clans” in season 2 because the kids wanted to do this – letting them form 4–person clans, but when they win an event individually, they also earn points for their clan
— the final tournament will include a round for the 4 best clans to compete for something like 4 iPod Shuffles; kids get to create their own icons, they’ll have clan chat rooms, etc.

tournaments have run about an hour; did 4 1-hour tourneys a day in season 1, will do 5 in season 2

some of the biggest demand now is for adult Mario Kart tournaments, especially for college kids and 30–year olds

at one point, they had a prize for the person that brought the most new people the next day

AADL doesn’t limit gaming on their internet stations at all; lots of kids are playing Runescape

small libraries could each buy two stations and then several libraries could combine their equipment for regional tournaments

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* Sunday, May 22, 2005

Debunking the MPAA

BitTorrent Facilitating Illegal File Swapping of Star Wars On Day of Opening

“Statement by MPAA President Dan Glickman

Washington, D.C. - - Responding to news reports today that BitTorrent is already facilitating the illegal file sharing of the final Star Wars episode, Revenge of the Sith which opens in theaters today, Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) President and CEO Dan Glickman made the following statement:

‘There is no better example of how theft dims the magic of the movies for everyone than this report today regarding BitTorrent providing users with illegal copies of Revenge of the Sith. The unfortunate fact is this type of theft happens on a regular basis on peer to peer networks all over the world.

Fans have been lined up for days to see Revenge of the Sith. To preserve the quality of movies for fans like these and so many others, we must stop these Internet thieves from illegally trading valuable copyrighted materials on-line.

If piracy and those who profit from it are allowed to flourish, they will erode an engine of economic growth and job creation; undermine legitimate businesses that strive to unite technology and content in innovative and legal ways and limit quality and consumer choice.’…

‘My message to illegal file swappers everywhere is plain and simple: You are stealing, it is wrong and you are not anonymous,’ said Glickman. ‘In short, you can click, but you can't hide. There are lots of ways to legally download our products through companies like CinemaNow, Movielink, Ruckus and others.’ ” [MPAA Press Release in Word document format only, via the Interesting People mailing list]

This statement would indeed be alarming, if it wasn’t for the fact that the original copy leaked onto BitTorrent was stolen by someone associated with the film and if “Revenge of the Sith” hadn’t made $50 million the first day alone. Glickman shoots himself in the foot by noting that the movie was pirated and yet “fans have been lined up for days to see” it. He wants to have his cake (fans lined up everywhere!) and eat it, too (but piracy “will erode an engine of economic growth and job creation”).

Explain to me again why Congress listens to him? Oh yeah - the money.

Hopefully they’ll cry wolf one too many times, and they and their record profits will be seen for what they really are – a successful business that needs no further legislation from our government. The legal business models Glickman refers are indeed working and with time, they will grow into a thriving business if they stop concentrating on disabling customer playback devices with overly-restrictive DRM and concentrate instead on producing a good product. Just like every other business out there.

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* Thursday, May 19, 2005

MovieLink Update

The movie I downloaded from MovieLink and tried to watch on my laptop expired without me ever watching it because Microsoft still hasn’t been able to figure out why the digital rights management software won’t authenticate the movie playback software. The MS support rep is still working with me via email, but I think he’s stumped and can’t reproduce the problem in order to try troubleshooting it.

I know the movie expired because in the middle of writing an email message, a small window popped up in the lower right-hand corner of my screen and told me so. I will say that this is a nice feature of MovieLink’s software (even though it’s the only feature I’ve been able to actually see), because it also informed me that it had removed the file in order to free up space on my hard drive (735MB to be exact). That was nice of them (and I’m not being facetious), but I wish I’d been able to watch it first.

One of the stories I missed posting about last month was the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeal’s ruling that the FCC did not have the authority to require manufacturers of television sets to embed copy protection controls into TVs in order to let the entertainment industry decide what you can and can’t do with what you watch. See Ernest Miller’s post for more details and reactions.

I bring this up now, only because the MPAA is attempting to bribe Congress into passing legislation that would give the FCC this authority since they couldn’t win their case in the courts (again, see Ernest Miller’s post on this draft legislation). So when it comes time to let my legislators know that I am tracking their votes on this bill and why I want them to vote against it, you can be sure I’m going to tell them this story.

Because the entertainment industry shouldn’t be allowed to dictate laws for something they can’t even guarantee will work on an average laptop like mine. Until then, get your hands off my hard drive, my television, and every digital thing else.

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To Tide Us Over until Friday Night

Especially for Kate and Clare, I give you Grocery Store Wars, a grate parody!  ;-)

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* Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Learn All about Flickr

NEASIST attendees from this month’s cool apps session, as well as anyone else interested in Flickr, will enjoy the The Great Flickr Tools Collection. Found via the tag for, of course.

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* Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Cool, Shifted SCSU Services

Rebecca Hedreen is doing lots of very cool things in her users' worlds, not just within the four walls of her building. For starters, her Frequently Answered Questions blog is intended specifically to help distance education students at Southern Connecticut State University (which, of course, gives her an automatic feed for syndication). On that blog, a post from last month notes some of the ways you can ask a question, one of which - Chatango - I was unfamiliar with.

"Please note that I also have new icons for my online status for chat and IM. Generally, if I'm ‘online’ for all of them, I'm likely to be in my office--so I'm likely to be available by phone and email at that time, too.

Please try the various services out--Skype may be of particular interest to our international contingent. If you download the software (and sign up for an account) you can call just about anywhere in the world to another Skype user for free--and to regular phones for a discounted rate. All you need is a broadband connection and a microphone on your computer (not an insignificant requirement).

The chat service ( requires no downloads or registration, only Macromedia Flash Player. If I'm not online, you can leave me a message (please include your email!) and I will get it as soon as I login.

The two IM services, MSN Messenger and AIM, do require registration, but they both have web interfaces, so you don't have to download the software. If you are not using them from home, please check the regulations at your workplace, school, or library. Many places still discourage the use of chat and/or IM and I don't want to get anyone in trouble! You may want to point out the number of libraries that are now using IM for Virtual Reference, if you want to try and get policies changed." [Frequently Answered Questions]

I love the idea of offering Skype, Flash-based chat, and IM options to cover the broad spectrum of online – especially distant – users. Hopefully Rebecca will provide more details, and maybe even a review, of Chatango for use within libraries. She’s embedded other cool things on the blog, too, like a link to Subscribe by email with rssfwd for those users that don’t have aggregators. I love this page, too!

My exploration of Rebecca’s work all started, though, with a link to her Library’s page describing Search Plugins and Scripts for the Firefox Browser, where you’ll find what are quickly becoming standard FF search plugins for the catalog and their journal locator. However, she’s also playing around with xISBN GreaseMonkey scripts, and she’s included GM extensions for WorldCat and and her catalog from Amazon! I definitely need some time to further explore this whole concept, but here’s how Rebecca describes it on her Library’s plugin page:

“These scripts create icons next to the titles of books on linking to the CONSULS catalog or the OCLC WorldCat ‘Find in your Library’ database. GreaseMonkey is a Firefox Extension that runs scripts to cause changes in the appearance and/or actions of a web page. Not all web pages will run these scripts.”

Last week, knowledge god Gary Price took some time to light my bulb regarding the NeedleSearch toolbar, a service that makes it stupidly easy to create your own toolbar for your library’s catalog, no programming required! He first wrote this up all the way back in 2003, and it’s still a good read. Highly recommended.

With all of this innovation coming on the Mozilla/Firefox side, you have to wonder how far libraries could take all of this. I want to push a lot of this with our SWAN catalog and create various plugins and toolbars, highlight them all on a single page, and let SWAN members either point to it or copy the code onto their own sites. Rich Allen sent me a link to NOBLE's Firefox Tips and Tricks, which comes close to this. It even mentions Smart Keywords, including how to use this with EBSCO. My only quibble is that all of this is hidden from their home page.

Let power users be power users they way they want to be, not by forcing them to use our advanced search screens! All I need are a few more hours in each day….

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* Monday, May 16, 2005

Grant Us Some Gaming!

Inspired by the successes of Santa Monica PL and, of course, the Ann Arbor District Library, MLS is collaborating with the Thomas Ford Memorial Library (one of our members) to submit a LSTA grant to bring gaming to our libraries. Aaron and I have been talking through the idea since the current round of grants was first announced, and now we’re moving on putting together the pieces. We both believe strongly in gaming as a draw for t(w)eens in libraries, and we both recognize the impact gaming is beginning to have on our culture and society, which truly is only just beginning. Plus, the introduction to gaming culture should help librarians better understand patrons from this type of group and where they’re coming from.

Our plan is to submit a grant to put together a gaming “package,” much like the one Erin Helmrich and Eli Neiburger are going to show off at our May 26 Tech Summit (just 3 seats left!), except that ours will be a traveling road show. We want to get a number of MLS libraries to commit to the idea of gaming tournaments using the traveling road show. MLS will coordinate scheduling the equipment and can house it when not in use, but participating libraries would hold their own tournaments in their own buildings for their own patrons. The winner from each library would then go on to a championship tournament with bigger prizes at stake. The whole thing would be ongoing, with the championship possibly being an annual event. Imagine being crowned master chief of Chicago’s south and west suburbs! (Not that we’ll be using Halo as one of the games, but you get the idea….)

Since we’re just starting to put together the details, we have some questions we’d like to ask of those libraries that are already doing gaming tournaments. Of course, we plan to corner Erin and Eli when they’re here in two weeks, but for others, we’d really appreciate your feedback. Our inclination is to get [what will then be] new XBOX 360s for the coolness and current factors, which means we’re dependent on the games initially available for the system. We’re debating if we need to also get a second, more established platform, and which games would be the biggest hits with kids without setting off alarms for parents. (At home, we’re pretty strict about what Brent can and can’t play, so I’m very sensitive to this issue in a library setting.)

I guess our big question is if you could dream big, what would you dream? And if you’re at a MLS library, do you want to participate in the grant? We’ll be discussing this in more detail with MLS attendees after each session on the 26th, but feel free to contact me or Aaron with questions or responses! And watch Aaron’s blog, because he’ll be posting more on this topic.

Update: Here's Aaron's first post about the grant, in which he explains the significance of the XBOX 360.

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* Sunday, May 15, 2005

Unorthodox Teaching Aid

Blogpoly: From Monopoly to Blogpoly

“It is just a game. It is fun to use the board to lay out the Blogosphere Ecosystem. It helps me to think and learn about blogging culture by transforming the original game into this version. I had to think about which company and enterprise to choose and set up first on the board. The space is limited, so I picked well known names in blogging industry. Besides the private properties, there are two public utilities--the water works and the electric company. Then I thought of ‘Wikipedia’ and ‘Creative Commons’, and then a few more, making ‘criminal’ into ‘spammer’, ‘free parking’ into ‘free hosting’. ‘Chance’ and ‘community chest’ become ‘comment’ and ‘trackback’. Fun -- yes? There is not much difference for me transforming the game than writing a poem, using similes, metaphors and symbols.” [littleoslo, via Boing Boing]

screenshot from the game board

This is a nice, visual representation of bloggy and social sites/services. It could serve as an interesting conversation piece in training classes, especially tech CE events.

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Wikipedia Update

Just for the record, violet/riga did finally respond to my question about the WorldCat link for The Da Vinci Code. Apparently Liz Lawley’s follow-up question on violet/riga’s page got more attention, so thanks, Liz!

Comments on the previous post noted the existing method for linking to books via ISBN (thanks, Richard!), and that’s a valid point. The WorldCat link is included on that Book Sources page, along with other ways to find the title in libraries, so it still serves as a good example of what I was saying in my presentation. violet/riga eventually found that, too, which makes more sense than her original notation.

Case closed.

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* Thursday, May 12, 2005

THE Search Box

Polishing the Turd: the Dangers of Redesigning the OPAC

"I'll skip over the part about our website (we're able to fix that pretty easily) and write about what they recommended for the catalog. The first screen they gave us was a redesigned search form. An interesting dialogue came out of that:

Usability Expert: Ok, so this is the search form...
Librarian(s): So... is this the simple search form or the advanced search?
Usability Expert: This is the search form." [Dilettante's Ball, via Caveat Lector]

I just had to post that exchange, because it was so perfectly illustrative of the difference between libraries and the outside world.

The post is about a usability study the library had done on its OPAC by an outside usability expert. I've been dreaming about doing this, too, even going so far as to call the folks at 37 Signals to find out how much they would charge for something like this. I want them to create the perfect interfaces for a catalog, a subscription database, and federated searching. I'd like to get a gander at their AJAX and non-AJAX attempts at all of this and then implement what we can. Of course, I haven't really mentioned this to the SWAN folks yet.... ;-)

Unfortunately, when I called, the person I reached was out-of-town, and when he called me back, I was out-of-town. Things have been so busy at work that I haven't had time to pursue this any further, but this post, plus the Amazon-Google-search conversation on WEB4LIB this week (it starts here but takes on a life of its own and changes subject lines a couple of times), have piqued my interest again.

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* Tuesday, May 10, 2005

But that Would Have Killed the Music Industry, Right?


“ ‘We propose to acquire the rights to digitally duplicate and store THE BEST of every record company's difficult-to-move Quality Catalog Items [Q.C.I.], store them in a central processing location, and have them accessible by phone or cable TV, directly patchable into the user's home taping appliances, with the option of direct digital-to-digital transfer to F-1….

All accounting for royalty payments, billing to the customer, etc. would be automatic, built into the initial software for the system.

The consumer has the option of subscribing to one or more Interest Categories, charged at a monthly rate, without regard for the quantity of music he or she decides to tape.’

-- Frank Zappa invents Rhapsody, Napster in 1983” [Good Morning Silicon Valley, via Shawn]

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Catch Gaming Fever

JFYI, we’re down to the 10 final openings for this month’s Tech Summit on gaming with Erin Helmrich and Eli Neiburger from the Ann Arbor District Library. If you’re in Michigan or thereabouts, you can also catch them this Thursday (May 12) at AADL giving a longer version of the show they’ll be doing at MLS (scroll about halfway down the page).

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DIY E-scan

Fellows and More

“Today, we had a conference call for all the speakers for PLA's preconference ‘Creating a Library Sales Force: It's Easier Than You Think!’ My presentation at that event is going to focus on how to do an e-scan for your own institution. Details to follow.” [It’s All Good]

Drat – I’ll be at the ADL Gamers Conference so I won’t be able to attend this session. I’m going to go out on a limb here – without even knowing any further details than what’s in the brief description of the session - and recommend this session, especially to my member libraries.

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Blogs on The Daily Show!

Hurry and turn on The Daily Show – Jon Stewart is talking about the 24–hour news channels covering blogs! Catch the repeat tonight and tomorrow.  :-)

“By reading the blogs on TV, the 24–hour news networks have combined the visual pizazz of a text file with the deep insight of a 90–second cable segment.”

“When I want hard-hitting news, I turn to CNN. Who turns to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.”

“Kudos to MSNBC for using the power of blogs to finally give voice to the already voiced.”

And now Rob Cordory is covering blogs! “That no-talent hack Rob Cordory is on TV talking about us….”

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The Soundtrack of Your Life

I Can't Live Without My Darling iPod

“As I write this, I am listening to one of my many mood-sensitive playlists from the iPod library on my computer. I'm not one of the hip, trendy twenty- (or even thirty-) somethings you see gyrating wildly in the TV ads; I am a busy 43-year-old stay-at-home mother of three active boys. I am not alone in my obsession. Everywhere you look you will find us, "soccer moms" ferrying our kids to sports practices and games and whiling away the long hours of waiting by eagerly comparing accessories and trading songs with other baby-boomer moms. Even Radio Shack has picked up on the trend—it now advertises iPods for ‘moms and grads.’ Not moms and dads, mind you, moms and grads….

With a light thumb spin, I can transport myself back to any age or stage of life. I revel in some of these memories and cringe at others. I see who I was and who I am now—and how I haven't changed so much. I once heard that when women hit their 40s, they find themselves re-evaluating their pasts and speculating on their futures, redefining themselves at that critical juncture midway through their lives. That's been true for me. My playlist has kicked open a big, padlocked door and helped me connect with a part of myself I feared was gone. Now I know that although I am a reasonably mature adult, inside me lives the free-spirited, carefree college girl I once was.

Like that carefree college girl, I get a kick out of creating playlists for my friends. I include all their favorite songs and give them titles like ‘Kelly Rocks!’ and ‘Samantha Rocks!’ and we all have a good laugh. Then we all go take care of our families and attend to other grown-up matters with a song in our hearts and a secret smile on our lips. My kids love the iPod, too; not only have I introduced them to some of the great music of my youth (and before), I've learned to appreciate some of theirs as well. They create playlists and burn them onto CDs for the car, and we groove and sing and talk about things both trivial and profound while we drive.” [Newsweek]

So what are you doing to help the iPod-owning*-soccer-moms in your community? Are you thinking that far ahead? As a profession, we’d better start figuring out how to circulate digital music files to patron players.

* Not just the iPod owners, but MP3 player owners

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* Monday, May 9, 2005

FireFox Search Your Catalog

Since the comments feed for my blog is totally separate from the main RSS feeds, I wanted to highlight the great resources that came out of the Native Firefox Search of Your Library's Catalog! post. This is a relatively easy feature to offer your patrons, especially if you’re a Sirsi or Innovative library.

Update: O’Reilly’s WindowsDevCenter also has an excerpt from the book Windows XP Hacks that also explains how to make a Firefox search plugin.

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"Library Link Isn't a Good Way Forward"

Funny Foxtrot comic strip today about Wikipedia. [via my good friend Deanna]

Not so funny story about Wikipedia: for last week’s NEASIST presentation, I illustrated some ways WorldCat could be integrated into various online, non-library resources, one of which was Wikipedia. As an example, I edited the entry for The Da Vinci Code and under External Links, I added “Find libraries near you that own The Da Vinci Code” (snapshot).

Seventeen minutes later (that’s 1–7 minutes later), Violetriga removed my link, citing the very vague reason “ ‘find a library’ link isn’t a good way forward.”

WTF? Needless to say, I was beyond irked. It’s one thing to remove the link; it’s another to say it isn’t “a good way forward.” It isn’t a good way forward for whom? To where? And why not? I needed answers. So I found Violetriga’s user page on Wikipedia and left the most innocuous comment I was able to bring myself to type (version 34): “I added the link to find ‘The Da Vinci Code’ in libraries, and I’m just hoping for a more detailed explanation for why you removed it. TIA.”

I waited 17 minutes, then 18, 20, 30, 60, and then it turned into days. Violetriga answered other people’s questions, but not mine. To this day, she still hasn’t answered it. Which is probably for the best, because when I showed all of this at the NEASIST event, there was a room full of pretty ticked off librarians, all angry at one Violetriga. Even though she does good work for Wikipedia, I guess we’ll never know why the library link isn’t a good way forward. Not so funny.

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* Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Native Firefox Search of Your Library's Catalog!

Wow, very cool! John Wohlers from Waubonsee Community College’s Todd Library wrote to tell me about a cool new feature they’ve implemented.

“We have added a plugin for Firefox to our website that allows the user to perform keyword searches on our catalog from within Firefox's search tool.

To see it in action, visit and click the link located below the large photo.”

Click away and work it will if you are (of course) surfing using Firefox. Very, very cool!

It’s a Sirsi catalog, so I wonder if John would be willing to share how they did this so my home library can add it?! Will it work with Innovative catalogs?

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Why DRM Sucks (Redux)

I've been seeing more ads for MovieLink so when I was traveling last month, I decided to take them up on their offer to purchase my first movie from them for $.90. At the time, it seemed like a good deal for an interesting service. I was flying in and out of Minneapolis on the same day, so why not spend the time on the plane watching a cheap an inexpensive movie. So the night before the flight, I browsed their site and found one I wanted to watch, created an account with them, gave them my credit card number, downloaded their software, and downloaded the movie. When all was said and done, I opened the “MovieLink Manager” software and saw the movie waiting for me. Happy camper that I was, I shut down my laptop and went to sleep.

Cut to the airport, I’m on the plane and approved portable electronic devices can now be used. I whip out the laptop and bring up MovieLink to watch my movie. Except that I get an error message that my software has not been authorized for the proper security rights and needs to be upgraded. It will now connect to the internet, and this may take a few moments. But of course, I’m 30,000 feet up in the air with no internet, so now I can’t watch my movie. Bah humbug. So I figure that for whatever reason, the software didn’t authorize properly last night, even though it said it did. It lied. I’ll just have to authorize it when I’m online before the presentation, and then I’ll watch it on the flight home.

Yeah, right.

I tried to authorize it during the day, but it kept trying to connect to their server for authorization and ending with an error message that it couldn’t authorize my software. Double bah humbug. So now I don’t get to watch the movie on the way home, either. And with MovieLink, you only get 30 days to watch the movie, and once you start watching it, you only have 24 hours to finish it. Then it goes bye-bye.

So I get home and the next day I use their online chat to talk to technical support. The rep was incredibly nice and empathetic, but no matter what we tried we couldn’t get it working. Mainly because we couldn’t find a folder called “DRM” that was supposed to be on my hard drive. My contact information was taken, and it was promised a rep would get back to me for more detailed support.

And sure enough, someone did contact me via email. We tried some further troubleshooting (including updating Windows Media Player), but still no go. Simultaneously, the MovieLink folks emailed Microsoft about my problems, and a Microsoft engineer began working with me. I can’t stress enough how nice and patient these folks have been, but three days before my movie is set to expire, there’s still no resolution to my problem. The Microsoft guy sent me some instructions that finally made the DRM folder on my hard drive visible, and now he’s looking at a screenshot I sent him to determine what to try next. The MovieLink guy offered to refund my money for the movie, but if I accept that, I can’t take advantage of the $.90 offer again, even though I technically never did in the first place (sue me, I can be cheap). So the movie sits on my laptop, waiting for their server and my laptop’s software to say I can watch it. I think it’s going to die before I get to watch it.

So I’ve got two tech support people helping to figure this out, a movie that I paid for that’s about to expire, and an even greater skepticism of DRM than I had before, especially in a library setting. Triple bah humbug.

But you know that’s not the end of the story, right? I downloaded the new version of Rhapsody, which is really nice. It’s a Flash app now, which means more functionality. I really like it, but every time I open the app, I get an error message that says my Windows DRM software has been corrupted so Rhapsody can’t play the track. Not that I’ve asked it to play a track, mind you. And I can stream music just fine, although I haven’t tried burning anything yet. I assume that if I was to try the new “pay as you go” plan to put whatever music I want on my MP3 player, it would fail miserably.

My laptop is officially crippled through no fault of my own, and let’s not forget that this is a relatively new laptop. I think I’m even up-to-date on OS patches. How must the average user feel going through all of this? Why does average user have to go through this? All I wanted to do was watch a movie and listen to some music! Quadruple bah humbug.

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* Tuesday, May 3, 2005

NEASIST Day Has Begun!

My panel day with Megan Fox and Michael Stephens is starting. We’re going to talk about all kinds of new web tools (blogs, RSS, wikis, IM, bookmarklets, Flickr, and oh-so-much-more), so it should be exciting. The NEASIST folks are recording it for future podcast – w00t!

I’m on Trillian right now, even if my status doesn’t show it, so feel free to IM us a question (I am: AIM - cybrarygal; MSN -; Yahoo - jennamomster).

NEASIST Flickr photos –
NEASIST blog –

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* Sunday, May 1, 2005

Congratulations Anne Craig, New Illinois State Librarian

Well, not totally new since she was appointed a week ago, but congratulations are due nonetheless! Illinois has been without a state librarian for four months, so it was with great excitement we finally learned that Anne Craig is now heading the Illinois State Library. I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working with Anne on several projects over the last few years, so I couldn’t be happier to hear this news!

Congratulations, Anne!

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