So things will be even quieter than normal here for the next month or so. Between traveling, vacation, and life, there will be few to no posts for a while. Enjoy the time away.
I have a medium-sized, public library that already has a wireless network installed and is looking to purchase either PDAs or Tablet PCs for use within the building to assist patrons. Not for the patrons themselves, but for the staff to use out in the stacks, etc.
Has your library been doing this long enough to provide feedback? I know the PDAs would be easier to carry around, but they'll also be harder to read, especially for web-based resources. What would you do differently with 20/20 hindsight? I've given them the link to Megan Fox's site, but they're also looking for current hardware recommendations, other best practices, and advice from the trenches. TIA!
It's a pretty good list, and it becomes useful for us if we substitute the word "librarian" for "educator" throughout, even for items like #13 about WebCT and Blackboard because you have to understand the distance learning you'll be supporting more and more in the future (speaking from a public librarian perspective).
Of course, for librarians I would make it a top 25 list and add blogs, RSS, IM, wikis, and audio ebooks right from the beginning.
I'd like to see MLS do a series of workshops, either online or f2f, that would help librarians learn all 25 skills. We could even do annual updates.
Steven notes that the University of Illinios, Urbana-Champaign libraries are blogging now – w00t! I gave a presentation about blogging and RSS there earlier this year, so I’m especially pleased to see this. I’m drowning in nostalgia because I was a graduate assistant in the Education and Social Sciences Library, where my focus was on The School Collection.
This is a very intriguing concept, and I see lots of applications of the concept. It would be pretty cool to have librarians reading this type of literature simultaneously and then coming together to discuss, brainstorm, and implement. So many applications – at MLS, I think we could use this within our Zephyr Innovation Program (which I still need to write up here, I know), across the System in general, or even just in Illinois in general? Of course, it’s too late to add anything for this year’s Illinois Library Association conference, but .
I’m especially intrigued by the following excerpt from the OBFLSPEP description linked above:
The main reason I am going this time is because I’ll be co-presenting a session about databases and RSS with John Law from ProQuest. Back in September, I posted about going to the Illinois Library Association conference and giving every database and ILS vendor a handout about RSS. The only two companies to follow up with me after the conference were Innovative and ProQuest. John and Kent Kanipe called me and we talked at length about what they could do with RSS, and they “got it” right away. They’ve been working on it ever since, and you can see the first baby step at http://www.il.proquest.com/proquest/rss/.
The examples are great for illustrating how libraries can make use of such feeds. The only feeds they have running right now are on the Curriculum Match Factor page. It’s a static page of some pre-built, keyword feeds designed for a specific curriculum (in this case, a business one). It’s mostly a proof-of-concept, but again, I think it helps illustrate how this type of service will benefit any type of library.
The good news, and the reason I’m co-presenting with John at the LITA Forum, is that they are working on dynamic keyword feeds, as well. While they probably won’t be ready before the Forum, they’re scheduled for Q4, so I’m pretty excited. This is exactly the kind of thing I want from our vendors, so loud applause for ProQuest!
"A few things I wouldn't want you to miss... our materials blogs at http://aadl.org/catalog/blogs, the new home of the axis blog at http://axis.aadl.org/, and the fact that we offer RSS of checkouts and holds, which local blogger (and member of our tech advisory board) Ed Vielmetti has already used to add a live 'my requests' sidebar to his blog at http://vielmetti.typepad.com/.
Wow, double wow, and triple wow! I also had briefly caught a glimpse of a wiki thing going on, but hadn't had time to investigate it.
You can bet I'll be showing this to Dean and the SWAN folks, along with begging Eli for the scripts that are generating the RSS feeds, as well as the custom Drupal module! The bolded text above is for my emphasis, because I'm going to propose that we offer Drupal hosting for our member libraries (we already host Movable Type blogs for free for any MLS member library) so that SWAN libraries could duplicate this!
And make sure you visit Ed Vielmetti's blog to see the display of the RSS feed of his queue on the right-hand side of this blog. At first it's a tad difficult to spot, but it's under "del.icio.us links" and it shows all of the titles, plus what number he is in the queue (or if it's awaiting pickup), the pickup location, and the date the hold will be canceled. Earlier this year, I wrote that patrons would indeed add this kind of display to their sites if we just let them, so there's your proof. I'm off to get screenshots of this for my presentations, too!
I also want to point you to the trackbacks at the bottom of last night's post, because so far others are agreeing with the adjective "perfect" as a description of AADL's site. I especially like how Richard Wallis from Talis' Panlibus blog worded his praise.
"The cross between a traditional library web site, a library blog, and the catalogue interface, produces a whole experience which is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. It's clean simple visual style, coupled with the natural [personal] style of content which naturally emanates from blogging to their customers (as against broadcasting at them), delivers an interface which I think that the citizens of Ann Arbor, Michigan should be delighted to be part of. Using the blog commenting facilities, which their customers certainly are, gives the impression that the library is not only providing a service to, but is also part of the, community.
An ILS vendor other than AADL's praising their web site for its authenticity and functionality? Yeah, blogging totally rocks!
The Librarian in Black points to the Ann Arbor District Library’s redesigned web site, which includes the addition of blogs (including a Director’s Blog!) and RSS feeds. It looks like posts from all of the blogs appear on the home page, with a link back to the rest of that subject’s blog. Looking at the site right now, there are six posts on the home page. Amazingly, five of those posts have patron comments attached to them, and not just a couple of comments either. The count is 17, 6, 18 58, and 19! How many paper comments have your patrons left so far this month? Compare.
The AADL blogs do it all right. The posts are written in the first person and in a conversational tone, with the author’s first name to help stress the people in the library. The staff isn’t afraid to note problems with the new catalog, the web site, or anything else. Full transparency – nice. You can feel the level of trust building online. They respond to every comment that needs it, whether it’s a criticism, question, or suggestion. And some of the comments are fantastic. Users are even helping debug the new catalog. Here’s a sampling:
So let’s recap - what do we see happening here? Community. Transparency. Trust. The human beings in the library (something that’s usually missing from library web sites). Voice. A much more dynamic web site. Their information is appearing on other web sites automatically via the RSS feeds.
Me? I get a new case study and a bunch of new slides for my presentations.
For AADL, “it’s all good.”
Follow-up with even more info.
That’s the biblical Job, not job. Really long time readers will remember my digital travails from 2002, and now it seems my fate is to face a similar situation with DRM (Digital Rights Management). I’ve written about how I can’t watch MovieLink movies on my newish laptop and how Rhapsody is throwing error messages about not being able to “authorize the track to play.” As a quick update, I still can’t watch movies, and the last I heard from the Microsoft technician, my laptop has some kind of memory issue that won’t allow his diagnostic programs to run to give him the information he needs to continue troubleshooting the problem. He pointed me to a few Microsoft Knowledgebase articles that might help me solve the memory problems I’ve never experienced personally and didn’t know I had.
For the moment, the whole thing has become more work than I’m willing to devote to trying to watch a friggin’ movie. I’ll just keep renting DVDs and recording cable movies onto my ReplayTV and then downloading them to my laptop. Chalk another one up for DRM. They’ve managed the rights so well that I can’t duplicate the movie, even if that means I can’t watch it either.
Then last week, I realized it was summer. Know how I realized it was summer? The kids were home and we ended up fighting daily over Rhapsody. Typical conversation:
[Jenny, at work, gets disconnected from Rhapsody when another user logs on; Jenny calls home]
After we kept disconnecting each other over and over, I finally just changed the password, which locked them out. I feel bad for them, though, so I decided to give Yahoo Music a try, especially since I’m sure the kids will be getting real MP3 players soon and this would let them take music with them. So Friday morning, I signed up for an account, downloaded the Yahoo Music Engine, and tried to install it on their computer.
Now, I’ve installed a lot of Windows software in my day, so I feel pretty confident in my ability to double-click on an installation file. However, when I try to install YME, I get three screens into the installer (oh the joy of accepting the license agreement over and over) before I get an error message that says, “The file c:\downloads\ could not be opened.” That happens to be the folder where the file is located, so I find it odd that the installer can’t find the folder it’s located in, let alone the file. I’ve tried rebooting the computer. I’ve tried redownloading the file. I’ve tried lighting a candle and chanting. Nothing seems to get the installer to, you know, install. The computer meets all of the system requirements and then some. So either I’m just not destined to live the happy, DRMed life the entertainment industry waxes on about, or our house is built on an ancient technology burial ground. While I readily admit there is a lot of dead technology in the basement, I’m leaning towards the former.
I tried re-downloading the file for a sixth time and putting it in a different location. Now when I run the file, I get a new error message saying, “The file c:\documents and settings\HP Authorized Custom\Desktop\ could not be opened.” This sounds suspiciously like the error messages I was getting on my laptop, about how the DRM files couldn’t find themselves in order to manage the digital rights. So I did what any poor, confused soul would do in my place – I looked for tech support help on the Yahoo Music site. None to be found for my particular problem, because this is yet another one of those things that only happens to me. So I ended up sending them a message detailing my issue.
Two days later, I received a reply that explained how to log in and download the installation file. No acknowledgment what-so-ever that the installation file was the problem. So I sent a reply, asking for help with the issue I had actually asked about. It’s already been 24 hours with no reply (yes, I know I’m getting impatient) so I don’t think I’ll have another chance to ask a question and get a response before my 7–day trial expires. You know which 7–day trial that is, right? The one where I don’t get to access the content for the 7 days!
So the kids and I have gone back to our old deal that I get Rhapsody during the day, and they get it at night until I get this issue resolved or give up on it (which I expect will be sometime tonight). We’ll see how long it lasts this time. I’m not optimistic. In the meantime, I await my day in front of Congress to tell my tale of DRM woe when the entertainment industry next tries to ram through broadcast flag-like legislation.
Oh, and I checked with Rhapsody. Unfortunately (and short-sightedly), they don’t offer family plans or even a discount for a second account. For shame.
Check this out - on the MLS home page right now, items are displaying that were posted by six different authors, three of whom never added new content to the old SLS site because we used to hand-code HTML and FTP the pages. If you look at the first page of "older" posts, you pick up two more such authors. All because we've moved to a blogish content management system that anyone on staff can use to update the site. Our home page is more dynamic than ever, and we're able to toss a wider net of information across our site.
Our Executive Director, Alice Calabrese, is even getting into the swing of things and posting new items! (Go Alice!)
I heart blogging! :-)
I’m going to have to contact these folks and ask if they’re willing to work with libraries. I mean, don’t you think Easy Reader would want to work with libraries?!
We got a nice blurb in School Library Journal about the gaming grant we submitted last month. It's much appreciated but for the record, I'm not a board member of YALSA. I hope it's still legal for me to advocate libraries offer gaming for young adults. ;-)
Last month, I wrote about the positive shift I’ve seen at OCLC and how they’re looking outwards in order to become part of the bigger online world. I’ve been hesitant to post about an opposite case, in part out of hope the company would change its mind, but since Beatrice mentions it, here goes.
I am greatly disappointed in Library Journal. I had heard they were taking one big step forward by implementing blogs and RSS feeds in a redesigned web site, but unfortunately it turns out they’re taking two even bigger steps backwards. I can [not happily] live with the fact that you have to endure popup ads when you visit their site, but in a move so confounding my jaw is still on the floor, they’ve moved their current and archived articles behind a paywall. So a lot of the really great, progressive articles, from the last year in particular, are now gone from the web. The oh-so-timely-and-conversation-starting Meet the Gamers article? Goodbye. Michael’s and Aaron’s IM article? Sayonara. Michael’s article discussing tech planning and techno-lust? Lights out. Stephen Abram’s Born with the Chip article? Won’t see you later, alligator.
So what exactly were the folks at Reed thinking when they made this decision? Obviously they’re hoping to sell more magazine subscriptions, but at what cost? They might gain a few circulation statistics, but here’s what they’re losing in return. Of the big three “commercial,” general, library journal publishers, LJ was the only one that put its content out there for free. The overwhelming majority of Information Today’s and ALA’s magazine content is closed off, which left the entire playing field to LJ. And what a field it was! They got all the link love and blog buzz from the online world. All of it, because we could link to their articles and discuss them. Beyond that, the whole world could read their articles and point to them and discuss them. Just check out this search for proof.
And now all of that love and buzz is gone, along with any future pagerank from Google et. al. Flipped off like a light switch. Because, let’s face it – every librarian on earth either has a print subscription to LJ or access to a database that indexes it, not to mention interlibrary loan and photocopy services. Heck, Beatrice even notes the citation in her post, knowing full well that any librarian worth any salt can get a copy of it. However, at my office, I’m not even on the route list for LJ, so while we do have a subscription, the only time I read it is when someone points me to the online version. I could probably dig out the information to log in to the web site in the future, but why bother when I can’t share it with anybody else anyway? Basically, LJ keeps my organization’s subscription but loses me as a reader.
So who is this really going to affect? Not librarians overall. All they’ve succeeded in doing is putting a nuisance barrier that’s just a big enough nuisance in the way of the people who can already read it. This just means non-librarians can’t access all of this great content and us bloggers won’t be linking to them anymore. I hope that whoever made this decision starts watching their referrer logs to see just how much traffic drops off as a result.
Even worse, they recently implemented the Tech Blog with some great contributors. It’s out there for everyone to read, not just subscribers, but when I first heard about the project, I had assumed that the bloggers would be able to point to and discuss new articles from the magazine. I thought LJ was also going to try to corner the “conversation” market of online libraryland with comments, trackbacks, and lively discussion. Now, what would be the point? There’s no circle of discussion to start.
I think it’s unfortunate that at a time when our profession is striving to make headway with the open access movement (and when some of us are pushing libraries to join the larger online conversation), one of our most forward-looking professional journals chooses to close the door on content. I’m sure they’ll continue to publish interesting and valuable content - I just won’t know about it, which in turn means I won’t be able to blog about it. To some degree, it’s my loss. To a larger degree, LJ just lost everything it had built up over the past several years, making their’s the bigger loss. I really hope they reconsider this decision, for both our sakes.
Disclaimer: I’ve written several “Product Pipeline” columns for Library Journal, and I was named a 2003 Mover & Shaker (luckily, that link still works). I really like LJ and I think they do great work; I’m just sorely disappointed in this decision, which I think is short-sighted.
I wrote this post over the weekend, and I am most happy to report that LJ is indeed changing this horrible situation. I decided to still go ahead and publish the full post for those companies/organizations that might be contemplating such a move, because I think it would be a bad one. You want to participate in the online conversation, not remove yourself from it. (That goes for libraries, too, but that’s a separate post for another day .)
Word has it that the paywall will be coming down in the next two or three weeks, so now I can also publicly applaud LJ for recognizing the problem so quickly and taking steps to resolve it. Like ALA’s decision to redo their site after the last disastrous fiasco, this says good things about the willingness of those involved to admit a mistake and rectify it. Maybe LJ is going to corner that market after all .
The hills are alive with the posts of Stephen Abram!
"Welcome to Stephen's Lighthouse where I'll muse about things library and librarianesque.
Highly recommended reading (RSS feed here). Why? Because Stephen will be using his blog to explore "the really big picture" in that [excellent] way that only Stephen can.
"I like to consider the big picture - the really big picture. These technolgies are not just about serving up our reference services virtually. They're about putting the librarian back into the virtual space! Think about it. We are rapidly moving to the time (if some libraries are not already there) where the vast majority of our interactions with our users will be virtual - website hits, patron driven ILL, remote database searching and on and on. Loads of this happens with very little (or no) interaction with the humans in the library - librarians, information professionals and library workers - that improve the service. While our virtual services deliver information quickly, they don't improve the quality of the question which has been reference librarians' stock in trade for more than a century. If we want to improve, remain and stay relevant, we have to discover the virtual reference modalities that work. That requires a lot of experiemnentation, sharing and cooperation. It's an exciting field right now as technology moves into the user space more and more."
Actually, you can get a free basic membership in the online game Second Life if you sign up through July 13, because the game is celebrating its second anniversary. It does require a download and a broadband connection, but it runs on Windows or Mac machines. Also, you have to be age 18 or older to join.
"...you will need to enter a credit card to register, but it won't be billed during the free trial unless you select a membership option OTHER than 'Basic.' " [Game On: Games in Libraries]
I wrote about this game in my notes from the Games, Learning, and Society Conference when I heard developer Cory Ondrejka talk about Second Life and User Creation. Fascinating stuff, and you can view it first-hand with the free account.
Last month, my brother gave me the heads up on the new Danger Mouse DVD, which I, of course, had to then have. So I ordered it from Amazon and waited for it to arrive. And waited. And waited. And waited. After a couple of weeks, I decided to contact Amazon about it, so I started digging through the “where’s my stuff” screens to find a phone number to call. Eventually, I got to a screen that had a button on the right-hand side that said “telephone help” or something like that. I clicked on that button and a small window popped up. It asked for my phone number and for when I wanted them to call me. I gave them my number and chose the “right now” option.
Sure enough, my phone immediately started ringing! I was put into their automated voice tree and was able to get to a human being to resolve the problem. It was very slick, and I’m curious how they run this. Of course, now I can’t find that screen to take a screenshot or point you to it, but it was very easy and efficient. It’s just the kind of thing I’d love to see from a library, both on its on web site and embedded in others’ sites (local government pages, school pages, etc.).
So I guess next time you order from Amazon, look for that button somewhere in the “where’s my account” or “contact us” pages before your order arrives. It’s pretty damn cool.
Oh, and Amazon did eventually send out a replacement package for the lost one, so I can indeed confirm that Danger Mouse is the greatest, he’s fantastic, and wherever there is danger he’ll be there.
I’ll reiterate that I love the ELF and use it myself, but how pathetic do our catalogs/services have to be that a company in Canada is continuing to get press for a service we should be providing? I know a lot of libraries are already doing this, but look at that list in Zorn’s post. One of those listed is the Riverside Public Library, a member of my System’s consortial catalog (SWAN), which is also listed on the ELF site because I added it myself as a patron last year. It is sad beyond belief that Riverside and other SWAN libraries have to resort to promoting the ELF for email alerts because there are some SWAN members that don’t want to deal with email bounces. And it’s just plain sad that they have to resort to promoting the ELF for RSS feeds because it has taken Innovative so long to add them (still waiting for the release .).
This is basic customer service 101 that we’re failing, so I’ll once again beg SWAN libraries to add this functionality, and I’ll keep waiting for RSS feeds, and ELF will keep getting good press.
On a completely off-topic tangent, I also followed Zorn’s link for the Nickel-and-Dime Scandal in Ohio. I really loved the use of Google for sarcasm:
Which just goes to show that it’s not true that everybody uses Google .
Michael points to Meredith's latest valuable addition to online libraryland, Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. Back in May, Michael and I talked with someone from ALA about the need for something like this, so it's great to see Meredith forging ahead with this. I think the potential for this resource is huge, so I'm going to try to add some content over the next couple of weeks, including (of course) a section on audio ebooks. ;)
I'm also going to highlight this site to the MLS management team, because we've been discussing the need for technology education for trustees. We hold quarterly "tech summits" (that anyone can come to) in order to highlight new trends and technologies, but trustees rarely attend (although, I'm happy to say we had a very enthusiastic one at the gaming summit!). So we're percolating the idea of doing something similar specifically for trustees but holding them regionally at member libraries. The topics would be very basic themes (what is IM, what is MP3, etc.), but it would give them a foundation for discussing the topics with their directors and staffs.
It would be great if we could pool some knowledge, tips, and even materials via this wiki. As I said in a previous post, wikis are what you make them, so I hope we make this one valuable. Oh, and don't forget to check out Meredith's own best practices for wikis, which I've added to the best practices wiki, because you can just do that with wikis. ;)
Thanks for "just doing it," Meredith!
Emphasis above is mine in order to point out that even if your library can’t afford the subscription fees for the big, commercial audio ebook vendors, you can still circulate audio ebooks .
And how easy is it now to just subscribe to the podcast to get new releases?!
John Hubbard appears to have started LISWiki as a gathering spot for the library community. I experimented with a wiki on TSL last year, but it ended up being spammed to death (literally). I’ve been meaning to try again in order to start tracking some of the “shifted” things libraries are doing, in particular audio ebooks. I know there are libraries that think they can’t do this-techie-thing or that-techie-thing because of their size and/or budget, when the truth is that there are other libraries of their size and/or with their budget that are doing these things. So I’ve wanted to try the wiki thing again in order to help libraries find others like themselves to help each other or share ideas, best practices, etc.
Rather than try to manage something like this on my own again, I’ve added an Audio ebooks section to the LISWiki and quickly threw up a couple of examples. If your library is circulating Audible, OverDrive, or netLibrary/Recorded Books titles, please add your information on that page. My hope is that small public libraries or medium-sized academic libraries will be able to find each other this way to pool information to enhance or even start new services. Wikis are what you make them, so let’s make this one valuable.
Thanks for setting this up, John!
Oops - didn't realize I hadn't posted my notes from Stephen Abrams' presentation at MLS last month. Unfortunately, they really don't reflect the full range of what he discussed because I got caught up listening to him. I've just uploaded his presentation as a PDF over on the MLS web site, too.
Addendum: I also forgot to mention that the podcast didn't work. We ran out of time to try and set up something more professional, but in the end Stephen wore a microphone attached to my Archos MP3 player and unfortunately it experienced a hard drive error at some point, so we lost the audio. I do believe it was a full moon that night....
This is the first year book circulation has gone down since we first started collecting data in 1919
Light is a good metaphor for what we’re trying to do
Showed the Googlezon EPIC video; then showed how parts of it are already happening
Highlighted Sharon Terry’s story: http://arl.cni.org/sparc/meetings/ala05mw
Talked about search engine optimization and getting libraries to the top using code and technology (blogs, etc.)
Google now has a vice president of library markets – they’re targeting us!
will use Google Wallet to do micropayments for articles in Google Scholar; at $.50 an article, users won’t go to the library for the free version
need to position ourselves correctly if we’re going to compete with Google Scholar
aimed at 15–19–year olds because they haven’t decided yet
Google Print already has 250,000 books with an imprint date of ten years or less – how does that compare to your library?
public libraries don’t show up in Google Local because we don’t buy ads; you can manually add yourself, though, so do it!
“Is Google that 5 inch wave? ” (that became a tsunami) – we can see this and we need to change our services and adapt in order to stay relevant
“librarians love to study things to death, but we forget that our objective is not death”
if you count up all of the budgets of public libraries in the U.S., we’re bigger than Google – we’re just using it poorly
people learn by reading AND discussing
need to engage our communities with information
we’re not in the information delivery business – think of bank tellers who were in the business of delivering dollars
losing “viewing their eyes” in the virtual world (can't see facial expressions)
libraries can be “bricks, clicks, and tricks”
talks about “circles of trust!” (yay!)
only 20% of users are text-based learners, which is what librarians are
if you know libraries are social institutions, these social networking sites (especially the ones that use folksonomies) become very important to us and the way we build our web sites
(note: several people said “wow” out loud during the session)
“intuitive is something you learn” – have to excise “intuitive” from our language
have to think about the density of information and how we present it
Google answers as many questions in one day as every library everywhere answers in four years
we’re good at the “how” and “why” questions
so what do we do? we reinvent the librarian
says 1/3–1/2 of all reference questions coming into TFML are via IM — Aaron, is that right?!
“it’s almost unethical now to not have an IM service” because of the people it serves (physically handicapped, learners, etc.)
have to push librarians back into the virtual space
we have wonderful people to help people inside the building, but we don’t on the web site where 90% of our use is happening
know your market; Normative Data Project — http://www.librarynormativedata.info/
the market has moved on us, so data from 3 years ago or longer is useless; the NDP is constantly gathering data
highlighted the University of Toronto’s “smart card” with a chip and how it helps with ADA issues
idea: if you have a library card, you’re allowed to come in and podcast whatever you want
mentioned portable storage and carrying around apps and data with you
Five user spaces: learning, research, entertainment, workplace, and NEIGHBORHOOD
“libraries are the light at the beginning of the tunnel” (because that’s where you want the light to be)
it’s an exploration space, not a collection space
Stephen has collected thousands of stories about what people really want to feel in the library; he’s putting them in a database using the software that predicted 9/11 in order to find out what people want us to give them
interesting idea to have patrons purchase their books through the library; we catalog it and pay the OCLC fee, etc. when the patron is done with it, they bring the book to the library and we add it to the collection => a user-driven collection
Spreading the meme:
Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Librarian
Chicago Sun-Times article
What Is a Shifted Librarian?
A Shifted Reading List
Presentations and Articles
Ye Olde Shifted Librarian Moblog!
AIM Me at cybrarygal
Linked In Jenny
What's on My Treo 600
Library Services on the Treo 600
Life in the Treo Lane
On Being the Digital Job
Radio 101 Docs
My Past Life
Librarians' Site du Jour (the original library blog!)
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