The Shifted Librarian -

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* Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Long Live Superpatron!

I've talked about Edward Vielmetti here before, but I never had the right name for him. Now I do. He's Superpatron!

"Superpatron is a weblog for library patrons who love their libraries, who take advantage of everything they have to offer, and are always on the lookout for great ideas that libraries around the world are doing. It's not a library blog in some traditional sense - I'm not a librarian myself. It's some expression of what various Friends of the Library groups do on a local level, except that it's on the net." [Superpatron]

Edward's got some really interesting things planned for this site, so I heartily suggest you subscribe to the RSS feed. If nothing else, it's a chance to hear about online library services from a patron's point of view. Granted, he's pretty technologically advanced, but I think there are more of him than we realize, and he's an enhanced version of where a goodly portion of our patrons may be in five years, especially the younger ones.

I'm also happy to announce that Edward will be the presenter at the next MLS Tech Summit this spring. We haven't finalized a date yet, but I'll announce it as soon as we do. You won't want to miss hearing what he has to say about libraries in person!

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* Friday, December 23, 2005

MLS Libraries Rock!

I love it when I get to go out and do presentations during which I can highlight what my member libraries are doing. I’ve said before that I think 2005 was the year libraries started to “get it” when it comes to using some of these newish online tools to become more efficient, better meet patron needs, and expand their online presence, and I’m happy to say that I include my libraries in that statement. Earlier this year, the regional Illinois Library Systems did a survey of Illinois libraries in which they asked some tech-related questions. Things like do you know what blogs are? RSS? Podcasting? I haven’t seen the survey results yet myself, but I heard anecdotaly that MLS libraries scored the highest on the tech questions, which is why I say my libraries ROCK! Here are some great examples.

  • Brookfield Public Library will be re-joining our SWAN catalog, and theyre using a blog to document the migration for their patrons!
  • Inspired by Josie Parker at Ann Arbor District Library, Megan Heligas – Director of the Flossmoor Public Library – has started a blog called A Minute with Megan in which she is talking directly to and with her patrons. How incredibly awesome is that?! Two posts and she’s already got a comment from a patron!
  • Lansing Public Library is Flickring (new verb) and is partnering with a library in Singapore to offer additional book reviews and reading suggestions their patrons wouldn’t otherwise see.
  • If you can believe this, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (yes, they are one of my member libraries!) is using iPods to disseminate information internally! Here’s info from an email Keith DeWeese sent me with the notice they’ve posted on the intranet:

    “The Knowledge Center has brought iPod technology to the Chicago Fed. It is pleased to announce the opportunity to listen to books and podcasts through the Knowledge Center's own iPod. Call us to request the titles you want to hear. We will load your selection and have it ready for pickup. If you are not familiar with using iPods, Knowledge Center staff will give you a demonstration. Please be aware that due to the two-week borrowing period, your request may be added to a waiting list.

    Some things you should know about the Knowledge Center's iPod:
    Due to copyright restrictions, books cannot be loaded on personal iPods or other players.
    The lists of available titles and some podcast sources are below.
    The Knowledge Center will load your book selection plus all current podcasts.
    Your Bank ID must be presented when you check out the downloaded iPods.
    iPods cannot be sent through pouch or mail; all borrowers must pick them up and return them in person (special arrangements may be made for Midway staff).
    Several pieces of equipment, including a charger, will be included in the kit.
    For personal preference and sanitary reasons, we ask that you use your own headphones.

    Available Book Titles:
    The Art of War by Sun Tzu
    Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
    The World is Flat : A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas L. Friedman
    The Tipping Point : How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
    Blink : The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
    How to Talk to Anyone : Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes

    Podcasts - A Selection from Our Ever-Growing List:
    Best Accounting Practices
    Business Week - Cover Story
    CBS News Podcast - "60 Minutes"
    Marketwatch Morning Stories
    NBC News - "Meet the Press"
    NPR: Motley Fool Profiles
    Wall Street Journal Report
    Washington Week Podcast”

  • How freaking cool is that?!

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my libraries?!

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Morning Conversation with Brent

Brent: You’re always on the computer – you’re addicted to it. What are you doing – are you talking to someone?
Jenny: Yes, I am. And I’m not always on the computer….
Brent: Can I talk to them?
Jenny: Not right now you can’t, no. And I don’t think you’re one to talk, Mr. I’m-Addicted-to-Instant-Messaging.
Brent: I’m not addicted. I just like talking to people.
Jenny: You know, you can talk to them on the phone, too.
Brent: Not to five people at once I can’t.

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BlogBridge Adds Library Feed Suggestions!

BlogBridge is a really interesting idea for an aggregator, a Java-based client that you can run from any computer. They host your subscriptions on their server so you can access them from anywhere. It’s got a lot of potential, and I’m not just saying that because they asked me to put together a starter list of recommendations for library feeds.

Jenny Levine Joins Us as a Topic Expert for Library Blogs

“If you are interested in  libraries or are involved with them, you should definitely check out Jenny's  recommendations….

The list of recommendations come directly from the topic expert, and is first announced in our blog. At the same time they are added to our growing directory (on the left) as well as integrated into the BlogBridge application as part of our 'suggestion' mechanism.” [BlogBridge]

Follow the link to see the list. There are a bajillion and one other library blogs I would recommend, but they wanted a dozenish list of starter feeds for those librarians new to RSS, so I didn’t want to get too specialized. It’s a little heavy on library technology, but I think that’s one thing the biblioblogosphere excels at and I did try not to get all tech-geeky.

I think it’s awesome that an aggregator company wants to include an easy way for folks to find library-related feeds within their product, so big thumbs up to BlogBridge. I’ll be talking about them more in the future, so if you’re looking for a new aggregator, give theirs a whirl!

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* Thursday, December 22, 2005

More Library Bot Chatter

I’ve been meaning to mention that Edward Vielmetti is following up on my post about a library IM bot. Is there something about the water in Ann Arbor that they all just “get” this stuff and are programmers that can make it happen? If you’re interested in the idea, connect with Edward and help, because in the long run, it helps us all....

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Gaming Symposium Blog Is Live

I’m sorry it took so long, but I’ve finally got the blog going for the Gaming, Learning, & Libraries Symposium. RSS feed is here. I’ve posted the presentations, and next week I’ll post the audio (subscribe and get them as podcasts!).  Feel free to leave comments at any time, especially as to the tools you’d like to see us use to continue the conversation. A wiki? A discussion forum? Something else? Join in and let us know!

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* Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Psssst... Hey, SWAN Libraries!

Using Firefox? Add an LCLS Web Catalog Title Search to Your Firefox Search Bar

“I decided I wanted to know how this worked, so today I came up with this:

I created one for LCLS and for MLS (because it was so easy).
This will let you do a title search right from the Firefox search toolbar, instead of having to load the catalog, and do it there.” [Clam Chowder]

I ask you, how cool is that?! Thanks, Chris!

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My Holiday Present from Davey P

Taggytastic – Part 3

“God bless Bryony - she puts up with a lot! Last night she had to put up with me adding a tagging system to our test HIP server (

To be honest, the amount of interest in the subject keyword cloud took me by surprise, and it was fascinating to read all of the other blogs that picked it up.  A number of blogs made the very valid point that it wasn't a true tag cloud - the tags were created using the existing subject keywords and not from tags added by our users.

I began to feel that tag clouds in OPACs are a true ‘chicken & egg’ scenario — to be able to add that kind of functionality to our live OPAC, I need to be able to prove that it's a valid and worthwhile new feature… but to do that, I need to have already implemented it and to have had a healthy number of tags added by our users.  I think this is backed up by the sheer number of people out there who think it's a "good idea" but who are not in a position to start the ball rolling.  Obviously, it'd be a different story if our OPACs already had tag functionality ‘out of the box’!…

I've still got more work to do with our initial attempt at OPAC tagging — at the moment, all you can do is add tags.  In particular, I don't have a method of selecting a tag and then showing all the items that have been tagged… but I'm hoping that Casey Durfee (Seattle Public Library) will come to my rescue.  Spookily, I woke up this morning wondering how on earth I could hack our HIP server to allow this and then found that Casey had already emailed me to let me know it was possible!…

I guess I've tagged about 150 books so far (mostly those to do with XML and HTML), but what I'd really like to do is throw open the doors and invite anyone who reads this weblog post to jump in and start tagging our catalogue.” [Davey P’s Weblog]

Be sure to read the whole post and then help him out by having some fun tagging a catalog! Thanks, Dave &ndas

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* Monday, December 19, 2005

Continuing Conference Conversations

Next month will mark the four-year anniversary of this blog, and interestingly, the most hotly debated post I’ve written since January 2002 appears to be last week’s rant about ALA presentations and conference registration fees. It really seems to have legs! I got a heads up on the discussion going on over at the ALA Council mailing list, there are (as of this moment) 30 comments on the original post, and Technorati picked up 14 blog posts about it. (If you’re interested in reading through the ALA Council discussion, it starts with message #16675, Rochelle’s post about “honked off presenters,” but you’ll have to scroll down the page and watch for different subject lines. Rochelle gets bonus points for such a great title!)

Overall, I think it’s been a good conversation, but I do want to clarify a few things for the record.

  • Contrary to what some ALA councilors are assuming (apparently they feel free to comment on the situation without reading my original post), I’m not asking ALA/PLA to reimburse me for travel expenses or provide me with an honorarium. I am ONLY asking them to waive the $165 registration fee for a half-day of a conference I am otherwise not attending.
  • My organization, the Metropolitan Library System, does support me in my efforts to do presentations like this one. They are already paying for my airfare, hotel, and meals in order for me to give this presentation, and I just don’t think it’s right that they should have to pay an additional $165 for me to stand up on stage (technically penalizing them for me being a member of ALA). I couldn’t travel as much as I do without their support, so I want to be very clear that no one should fault them in any way. They’ve been very understanding during the last two years as my schedule has taken me away from the office more and more, because they do believe in the educational value of what I do and in the internal value of what I bring back as a result. So say what you want about me, but please don’t question them.
  • A few folks seem to be questioning the abilities of the person that planned the program Michael and I are presenting, and that’s just plain wrong, too. Although I haven’t seen ALA’s/PLA’s checklist, I feel confident she is doing exactly what she is supposed to be doing. We’re three months out from the conference, and she’s checking in with me to resolve various details. In fact, she’s confirming the same details I got in an automatic form letter from PLA itself. When I noticed the registration requirement in her message, I contacted her and explained that I’m not attending the conference itself and that I wasn’t sure I had a line item left for this type of fee. She wasn’t sure how to proceed, and frankly, if there are ALA councilors who didn’t know about this policy, no one can fault her for not knowing. She wouldn’t have the authority to waive the fee anyway, so she did what any reasonable person would do – she asked someone at PLA. Their response (not hers or mine) was that if I wanted to avoid paying the fee, I should wait to become a member of ALA until after the conference in March. So while I have explained here before why I was finally ready to join ALA, the organization itself advised me to wait or pay up. At this point, a lack of time to just fill out the form saved my organization money, and if you think ALA doesn’t have a lot of extra funds to burn, try an Illinois library system sometime. So again, say what you want about me, but please leave my program’s planner out of this.
  • A fair amount of the discussion seems to be about me as an “a-lister” (a term I dislike to begin with) and how I can command attention, speaker fees, etc. I’m not even sure where to start with this one, but how about with a reiteration of the fact that I wrote the original post because I was far more upset that Michael had to pay any money at all out of his own pocket in order to give this presentation. I at least have my organization’s support behind me, but Michael doesn’t. I’ll say it again for anyone that missed this the first time: he’s paying his own way to Boston, his own hotel costs, his own meals, everything, just to be able to stand up on stage that Saturday morning. He’s not attending the conference, and he’s coming directly from the Computers in Libraries conference, where everything WILL be paid for by a commercial company. Michael’s not complaining that the organization he has encouraged all public librarians to join is charging him an additional $65 to stand up on that stage, but I am. It’s not right. Here’s someone who loves libraries so much that he’s going through all of this hassle, while pursuing a PhD in the profession for heaven’s sake, while driving to Chicago one weekend a month to teach at Dominican’s library school, while already doing presentations for peanuts, and he shouldn’t have to pay even more money to do this one thing. I consider Michael to be one of, if not THE, leading library blogger right now, and PLA is lucky to have him, let alone have him paying his own way to get to the presentation in March. It’s absurd that I have to hope my friend is willing to let his ALA membership lapse for two months just to save himself from paying the registration fee out of his own pocket. For me, this isn’t about my status; I take offense at the policy for ANY presenter in this situation, because as Meredith notes, none of us are getting rich as librarians.

    Which brings me to my next point – money. Some folks seem to think that I’m making tons of money off my blog or my presentations or whatever, but I want to set that record straight, too. I feel pretty confident that I make less money at my job than you think I do, but there are other perks (like organizational support) that help make up for it. I’ve been adding things up in my mind, and I’ve made a total of about $200, one free Treo 650, and a few free software programs in four years of maintaining this site, and the $200 and free Treo were from a text ad on my What’s on My Treo 600 page (which I haven’t had time to update in more than a year). I have turned down numerous offers of sponsorship or ad placement over the years on any library-related page of my site because I wanted to be able to say what I want to say without any question of my intent, goals, or motivations. The only real money I’ve been making off this site since fall 2002 when some of my posts appeared on the GoUpstate website is the work I do now for the ALA TechSource Blog. I’ve been completely up front about that, too, and so far I’ve been so busy that I’ve only billed them for one month. And while I’m thrilled to be blogging for ALA and I am most definitely NOT complaining, the paycheck from it isn’t exactly pushing me into a new tax bracket. So while Blake charges me way too little for the resources I take up on the LISHost server, I’ve still paid out more to maintain this site than I’ve made. So don’t think that I spend my nights counting the money under the mattress, because there isn't any.

    In addition, until this last year, I didn’t charge an honorarium for my presentations, period, exclamation point, and end of sentence. If an organization can afford it, I do charge a fee now because MPOW needs to recover costs for what I do and the time I’m not in the office. They set the price, and we’ve used a sliding scale or waived it in some cases, especially for small organizations. I never charge a member library, fellow library system, or Illinois library/organization (although, sometimes they offer it anyway), which is just one of the many ways I believe that I/we “give back” to the library community. I turn down as many invitations as I accept, but never for lack of an honorarium (mostly it’s a lack of time or I’m already booked for that time period). I’m lucky enough to be able to make those kinds of decisions, though, whereas some other valuable voices out there, like Meredith, don’t, and that’s a real shame. If waiving a day of registration fees helps get that person there, I think ALA should do everything in its power to make that happen.

    While it is indeed an honor to be asked to speak at PLA, I had been trying to limit myself to two presentations per month (a very general guideline since I often go over that), so I would give up my spot in a minute to get someone like Meredith or any number of other new voices up there instead. I think I gave at least 25 presentations this year (which is most likely lowballing it), so for me it’s not about my CV. I’m upset about the policy for all of us, not just me, and I hope ALA seriously reconsiders this one. My suggestion is that if the person isn’t attending the whole conference – if they’re only coming to give the presentation – that their registration fee for that day should be waived, member or not. If nothing else, I’m intrigued by this commenter’s idea to give press passes to bloggers.

I think the best comments so far have come from Karen Schneider when she brought up the issues of how we serve our profession and whether ALA is still relevant to today’s librarians. It would be interesting if there were generational aspects to this as well. All of which would be great discussions to have, and maybe that would be the best thing to come out of all of this. Because as far as I’m concerned, I’ve vented, I’m going to give the talk at PLA unless someone tells me not to (either on their end or on mine), and then I’m going to have to make a decision in April about joining ALA or potentially speaking at one of their conferences again. I'd hate to be faced with that choice (again), because for me, this one issue is separate from how I feel about the rest of ALA, and I'd still like to join.

So thanks to everyone that took the time to read my post and comment, wherever it landed. If you have more to say, too, leave a comment below....

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* Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I want the fantasy programmer that works with me at my fantasy job to think up and implement stuff like this for my libraries. Currently offering a great fantasy salary, so act now!

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Who's the Coolest Library Patron Ever?

For oh-so-many reasons in addition to this one, I vote for Edward Vielmetti, who celebrated his birthday at his local library! Happy belated birthday, Edward!

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I Heart ricklibrarian!

25 things Rick did in just one day as part of his duties as a reference librarian, and what a range. I love posts like this!

A Day in the Life of a Reference Librarian 2005

“As I look back on the list, I see some universal themes recurring: death and taxes and chocolate and the Internet. Tuesday will be much the same but different.” [ricklibrarian]

Of course, what I really love about this list is how technology is in the background and has just become part of the normal routine of his job. Blogging, bookmarking, reading Bloglines, email… all just part of a normal day along with the books, patron questions, tax forms, and photocopier!

Bonus ricklibrarian post: I Learned to Be a Librarian Collecting Baseball Cards

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Why I'm Not Joining ALA Right Now After All

Subtitle: ALA Absurdity Hits a New High (or Is that Low?)

Several months ago, I agreed to be part of a panel at the Public Library Association Conference in Boston in March 2006. Now, I don’t normally get to go to ALA or PLA conferences unless they’re in my backyard and cheap, so I’m spending the last of my out-of-state travel budget for work in order to do this. I plan to do a lot of networking while there, too, which is often the most valuable part of such a large conference anyway. But make no mistake that PLA is not paying me to do this and I’m not even getting reimbursed for it. I do it because I – and luckily the organization I work for – think it’s important to teach libraries about this kind of thing and PLA is a good place to reach a wide audience. My session will take place on Saturday morning, the last day of the conference, in case you’d care to attend.

Actually, I mention that it’s on the last morning of the conference in part because it’s not even a full day. However, I recently received an email from PLA noting that I have to register in order to speak at their conference, and I’m pretty angry about it. I don’t have any money left in my budget to pay a registration fee (for half a day, no less!) for the privilege of accepting an invitation to speak at their conference. So I pursed this with the person who put my program together, and today I was told that I have to pay a full day’s fee if I’m a member of ALA. If I’m not a member of ALA, I get a complimentary day pass instead.

What is wrong with this picture???!!!

But that’s not even the worst of it. My co-presenter, Michael Stephens, is bearing the brunt of this truly idiotic policy. Michael is a long-standing ALA and PLA member who actively encourages librarians to join, and he’s traveling to Boston on his own dime in order to be part of this one presentation. For this loyalty and generosity, he is being punished by having to pay the day fee just to stand up on stage. His only saving grace at this point, if you can even call it that, is that he’s a doctoral student so he will only have to pay $65 to give this presentation (on top of the airfare, meals, and hotel costs he’s already paying out of his own pocket).

I’m so angry about all of this that I’ve had it with our national association’s conferences. I am heeding Jeff Jarvis’ call, “Panelists, Unite!

“We as panelists come as their trained monkeys to give these conference organizers the only damned content they have and they expect us to pay for the bananas? Well, peel this!” [BuzzMachine]

I’m not even asking for the decent swag briefcase made of real fabric or leather that Jeff goes on to request, but I guarantee you this: I will never accept another invitation to speak at an ALA-related conference until they reverse this ludicrous policy of CHARGING THEIR SPEAKERS TO SPEAK. It’s insane, absurd, surreal, and unethical. You don’t have a conference without your speakers. I understand they can’t reimburse speakers for travel expenses, but the very least they can do is comp their speakers’ conference registration fees. And the whole conference, too, not just a day. You either value your own professionals or you don’t, and the current policy tells me you don’t.

So while I had planned to join ALA this week using the money from the ALA TechSource blog, I’ve now been officially told by ALA itself that I should wait until after March if I don’t want to have to pay them to present at their conference. Read that again and weep.

And catch me at PLA if you can, because it may just be the last ALA conference I ever go to.

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* Sunday, December 11, 2005

TMBG Podcast!!

There’s so much I should be and need to be blogging about, but instead, late on a Sunday night, you get notice that They Might Be Giants have started podcasting! (Feed URL) [via]

Come on now… that more than makes up for the lack of other posts, now doesn’t it.

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* Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Gaming Symposium 08: Speakers Panel

Christy Branson, Eli Neiburger, Matt Gullett, Kelly Czarnecki, George Needham

Christy Branson: as an academic, she’s thrilled to see what the publics are doing

Eli: it’s not really if you’re going to do gaming, but when; or are you not going to do them anymore because there’s no millage support; now that we’ve had a conference about this, it’s officially legitimate

Kelly: there’s certainly a community here to help you; want to give you confidence you can do this

George: one of the things Matt said gave him an a-ha moment, that libraries shouldn’t be approaching these organizations as beggars; we have reams of data about our users, and we’re nervous about using it, but we could leverage this in exactly this kind of situation (we have 20,000 patrons within 5 miles of your shop)

Matt: the biggest thing he’s taken away from this is how Les characterized this as the library as a center for technology and innovation; Eli made the point that books are a technology – a good one that’s been around for a very long time – but now we’re talking about a different technology that incorporates a lot of aspects from other items or services we either offer or missed the boat on

Eli: another thing we’ve touched on here and there is that there is an image problem with games, and libraries certainly understand image problems, but every medium has its detractors (I’m sure there’s a Torah scribe out there that is still mad at Gutenberg); the market demands prurient use of the materials, but that doesn’t mean you throw the baby out with the bathwater; the truth is that there are things on our shelves that are FAR WORSE than the worst thing in Grand Theft Auto

George: just wants to reiterate how much this sounds like the arguments about videos in libraries in the 1970s; it’s just another way of conveying information

Kathryn: thinks about the phrase “le livre retard” = “the slow book” from the time of Gutenberg; it was considered to be a ridiculous effort, slowing down progress instead of speeding it up

Kelly: brought up Steven Johnson’s book “Everything Bad is Good for You” and the example of what would have happened if video games had been invented before books

audience member: the media curve for take-home technologies is increasing rapidly; maybe we become multimedia formats (“a box of bits”) to prepare for the next and future formats; George, how do we deal with this?
George: it’s very hard to generalize this; there are some libraries that are far ahead and are setting the standards; “the gap between the person who says ‘I can’t believe you have this’ to the person that says ‘I don’t believe you have this’ is shortening;” Seattle PL as a great example; next we’ll be looking at downloadable video; NetFlix model – the hell with fines… you get 25 items, and you don’t get the 26th until you bring back the 24th (we noted Elmwood Park Public Library is moving towards this! – they got applause!)

Kathryn: thinks policy-making is a methodology for anxiety avoidance – we create policies to avoid dealing with issues that cause anxiety, when we need to really examine if we should just figure out a how to make it work

audience member: it didn’t work with movies to say people will come in for DVDs and take books, too; can’t hang your hat on loss leaders; now is the time to have the dialogue, and this argument needs to have validity on its own
Eli: most of the library leadership in this country have a book fetish, and you have to pander to that to get the money; this isn’t a loss leader; eventually, these book people will be dead

audience member: every boy has discovered Runescape, and now Omaha PL is looking at doing multi-location Runescape tournaments; does anyone have success stories with this kind of thing?
Eli: he did think about using their LAN for this type of multi-place gaming, but there was no payoff for them; would love to see leagues formed at the national level and winners from each library competing

audience member: has anyone tried contracting with Apple for a group license
Eli: likes this as a future model, but the publishers are holding all the cards
George: it’s very difficult to do anything with Apple because they don’t do group purchase contracts; Random House is going to offer payment by page; it’s our job to make quality convenient, because otherwise Bruce Newell is right that convenient trumps quality
Kathryn: applies to academic libraries, too

audience member: when we think about creating a game for teaching information competencies, we’re realizing that if we don’t contribute to these kids environments and learning, then we won’t be relevant; digital divides, what does information literacy really mean? (can you find a resource, can you evaluate it becomes can you collaborate in a group environment?); we need to be very explicit and demanding with our vendors, and we’re the ones that need to say that they are doing it wrong; these kids can do World of Warcraft but not our vendors’ products, and that’s a problem
Eli: Constance talked about the literacy scare… maybe the interfaces just stink; maybe it’s not the user that’s broken

audience member: we focus on the materials aspect of it, but the social aspect of making a truly all-ages family event has a very high value; saw this in Eli’s presentation; it’s an opportunity for the public libraries, at least – an ideological shine of being a safe and enjoyable place;  but we have to make sure we’re doing these things; what can we use to do this? libraries are still meeting places despite all of the coffeehouses, bookstores, etc., some of whom never check out books; when she asked them why they come there, it’s because of the technology… too many distractions at home, so they come to the library; how do we retain that gathering place, because that may be what partially saves us
George: what you’re saying is very accurate; it hurts me to say that we’re not going to survive on information; with Random House driving down the price of bits of information, he’s really wondering what a public or even academic library’s role is going to be long-term in this kind of a situation; but there aren’t a lot of places people can just “go” with no commercial expectation and you can just “be yourself;” the idea of library as gathering place has resonance
Eli: we’d better be the best “third place” in the community, and our non-commercial nature gives us an advantage (and publicly-owned) – in fact, this might be the only edge we have left; it might be ironic that we push all of these services to users at home, but what they really want is to come to us!

audience member: trying to shift their services (… will there be a model for delivering gaming to patrons offsite?
Eli: it’s already started at, but a lot of the game publishers are big enough that this has already happened in games; download games yourself before they’re even released (become playable on a specific date); that train has left the station

audience member: the other great thing about the library as a “third place” is its neutrality; eg Christmas… wants to get away from all of the commercialization of it, so goes to the library where they don’t have anything about it; question about other countries and how does this translate there? are we behind them?
Eli: the American public library is a pretty unique institution
George: the U.S. is way behind in how it uses technology, especially cellphone tech; you can’t say anyone is ahead or behind on the web because it’s pretty much the same thing; if you think WE have a book fetish, try other countries!
Eli and George noted how mobile technology is prevalent in the developed AND developing world
George: it’s not so much rich and poor anymore as urban vs. rural

audience member: not just urban vs. rural, but also rich vs. poor; showed article about a CPL branch that is packed because the library has internet access on computers; it’s a disservice to say either/or; it’s not video games OR books; we shouldn’t make it oppositional because that makes it harder to go to your board and make the argument
George: quoted Walt Crawford that we don’t live in an “either or” world; it’s going to be different from community to community; we have to get away from the idea that we’re media OR books
Eli: it’s not so much that the book will die out, but that the idea that the ideal of the book as the best format will die out; your grandchildren will still know books and enjoy them, but it may not be the only place you go anymore to get information; the 8–track went by the wayside, but vinyl found its niche
George: the 8–track is gone, but music is still around; it’s the content that’s important; content, not containers

Kathryn: where would you like to see the kinds of conversations and the things you’ve seen here go? what would you like to see happen to support you?
audience member: thinks we need more authoritative reviews of games; everyone needs to know there are good and valid educational aspects of these games
Eli: is an excellent resource that has reviews of the reviews; however, educational games don’t sell newspapers, so the controversial content is what gets the notice
audience member: from an academic library, would like to know more about how to use this in an academic setting
audience member: would be useful to have some kind of a toolkit or guide… talking points
George: hates to say this, but bibliographies; can’t give them to the 10–year old, but you can give them to the 50–year old
audience member: much of the discussion was broader than just gaming in libraries, but also what libraries are about… was a good place to start the discussion; would like to see some of these discussions happen online on OPAL, repeatedly
audience member: doesn’t see an immediate application for gaming in academic libraries, but certainly from a pure nerd perspective, there’s the potential to create games for librarians by librarians; can we create an infrastructure to do this? seems like there was a spark to start this today, so can we collaborate on this?
Chad: as an interim resource for this, join Beth’s libgaming mailing list
audience member: the way we train librarians has to change; she just graduated recently, and she was completely unprepared for this symposium; most graduates are clueless, so thinks we need to demand library schools need to change; get to YALSA!

Christy: likes how Matt is getting the students to build their own games; it’s great that librarians are building content for them, but wouldn’t it be great if the kids learned the content enough to build the games themselves
George: this is one of the places where it makes sense to hire people who know how to do this and not shoehorn librarians
audience member: Constance recommended Filament Games as a company for this

Kathryn wrapped it up, and we’re done!

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Gaming Symposium 07: Beth Gallaway

What Libraries Can Do for Gamers (Other than Programming & Collections)

7 things you can do starting tomorrow to make your library more welcoming to gamers:
– use games to do readers advisory
– be a strategy guide
– embrace your inner technogeek
– be flexible
– plan change
– immerse yourself in pop culture, especially video game culture (gains you street cred with this generation)
– try some games!

Beth’s Blog –

using games for readers advisory:
instead of:
– what authors do you like to read?
– what are the last 3 books you read and enjoyed?
– what did you like about them?
– what movies, TV shows, games do you like?

gives you a better sense of what they like, gives you street cred, validates their choices
works in the reverse, too – if you’re wondering what games to try, ask yourself what you read; eg, if you like romances, you might like “The Sims”

if the patron likes MMORPG/role playing games (Ultima, EverQuest, Runescape), suggest:
– epic fantasy
– historical
– war
– Arthurian legend
– fractured fairy tales

historical simulation games (Civ, Caesar, Age of Empires, Oregon Trail), suggest:
– biographies
– historical fiction
– mythology (fantasy?)

sports games (Madden Football, NBA Street), suggest:
– Into Thin Air
– adventure
– biographies
– statistics?

strategy & puzzle games (Myst, Tetris, Bejeweled, Carmen San Diego), suggest:
– mysteries
– thrillers
– true crime?
– puzzle books
– travel

first person shooters (Doom, Quake, Halo), suggest:
– military fiction
– horror
– apocalyptic fiction
– science fiction

simulations (The Sims, The Urbz), suggest:
– sociology
– dysfunction
– relationships
– romance
– architecture

Japanese/manga tie-in (Katamari, Final Fantasy, DragonBall Z, Pokemon, DDR?), suggest:
– manga
– Japanese culture
– graphic novels
– drawing books
– anime films (if they’re reading the subtitles, is it still reading? heck yes! Beth counted this for her last summer reading program!)

superhero games (Spider Man, Fantastic Four, City of Heroes), suggest:
– comic books
– graphic novels
– biographies
– mythology

has a slide of 10 young adult novels with gaming plots!
don’t forget about nonfiction (Gamers by Shanna Compton and other titles)
has a great list of gaming magazines
lists some books for librarians to read

be a strategy guide
– don’t be a level boss
– show, don’t tell
– make it interactive (ask a lot of questions and ask them what’s going on; put your hands behind your back and let them drive)
– get them started (help them and then give them your IM screen name for follow-up)
– have a free-for-all (let them try something, like finding resources, and then regroup and debrief, which lets you step in as the strategy guide)
– ask for a demo of expertise (Julie’s – Columbus Public Library – teen computer program about the kids training patrons and providing support on the public workstations; frees up the staff to answer reference questions)
– be open-minded

embrace your inner technogeek
– upgrade
– get an IM screen name
– you can’t break it
– pilot projects
– read tech news

be flexible
– change the space; let them control the environment with furniture that works in multiple ways
– flexible furnishings (gives examples)
– say yes
– go meta
– customize (blogs, RSS feeds, library toolbars)

beth asked eli how many blogs his library has, and eli responded, “I can’t really say because it’s difficult to say where one ends and another begins!”

plan change
– sticky content
  – web (blogs – game recommendation of the week as an idea)
  – facility
– accept change
– plan

immerse yourself in pop culture
– know what’s hot/what’s not
– pop goes the library
– know about crossovers, especially video game culture (shows some great links you can follow up on)

Simmons has an online class – Video Games and Libraries – will start in January 2006 (

what services from games can libraries adopt?
– 24/7 access
– free services = chat, music, articles, movies, games
– home delivery/online content delivery
– social bookmarking or tagging; within the library catalog
– nonjudgement from librarians
– avatars/immersive library tutorials
– customizable/modifiable
– food; we eat at our computers!
– programs of interest to gamers

audience question: recommendation for a LAN party
Eli: BZ Flag, a multiplayer tank game

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Gaming Symposium 06: Matt Gullett and Kelly Czarnecki

Fostering a Culture: Gaming in the Library

Matt and Kelly are from the Bloomington Public Library here in Illinois

Purposeful programming:
– what do teens represent in the life-cycle of a library patron?
– builds on the holistic approach to serving lifelong learning (ie developmental assets)
– fits into an overall strategy of technology programming
– maintains purpose, space & value in the minds of our public

BPL does Game Fests – started with Battlefield 1942 (with violence toned down), Mario Kart Double Dash, Sims 2, DDR Extreme
been doing this quarterly for about a year
also have board games and show a movie during Game Fests
serve water, not soda!

started with “ya got game” – high school boys laughed at the slogan, so they changed it to “Game Fest”

community support & promotion:
– game stores
– Acme Comics
– marketing at the schools
– FlatCon —
– DDRfreak –
– grants and alternative support//funding

had a kid drive from 2–1/2 hours away just to play DDR at BPL
EB Games donated strategy guides

show anime movies during Game Fests

have a “Next Generation Computer Club” – they’re a Project Next Generation site, which means they’ve received computer lab equipment for kids to use for creating content

their outreach includes the “Students Involved with Technology Conference” –
kids make mini-movies that are shown at the theaters – B-N Film Fest –

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Gaming Symposium 05: Christy Branston

Recommended James Gee’s book “What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy”
if you replace the term “video game” with “learning object,” teachers would be all over this
games develop problem solving skills

Christy is the government information librarian at the University of Waterloo

Took the Arts303 class: Gaming, Simulation, & Learning
– games – building the foundation
– scenarios: creating compelling content
– strategy: team, process, and community

sees narratives as the place where gaming comes in

used Bloom & Angelo
– Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
– Angelo’s Teacher’s Dozen

group looking at real “Canadian mysteries” as a video game – Redpath Mystery
used open source “Blender” software; took advantage of the community that had built up around the software

Rezlife in Second Life
housing & residence people for incoming students who hadn’t arrived yet

N.E.D. used VirtuaTools to teach students and graduates proper networking skills (“networking etiquette dummy”)
a choose-your-own-adventure type of game, so your choices affect whether or not you get the job

Christy worked with the Galapagos Sandbox
player can actually manipulate things like food, rain, etc. to view how that affects the evolution of birds
best part is that there are archives of all of the data that you can go back and review

Game-based Learning & Library Instruction
– is it effective? historically, no
– educational games vs commercial games
– evidenced-based librarianship (have to think of this as peripheral learning, not quiz the user on the answer we want them to know)
– experiment on staff!

have to be aware of different learning styles

purposefully left out the word “module” and called it a course and they learn lessons; within lessons, there are topics, and within topics there are tasks
– understanding government
– statistics & data
– legal resources
– best govinfo practices (references & local)

wanted to allow playing the game by teams and individually; the team idea worked well because the peer pressure made sure they played the game
interestingly, the people that are winning are the ones on teams
tried to add humor throughout to see if players actually read the text, including some Easter eggs that are useful at the end for bonus points
include a link to current standings

areas for improvement:
– learn from the video game; need instant feedback
– teach to the level of the learner

next steps:
– generally, the aim of an educational game is to provide students with challenges related to the main task…” (Kiili, 15)
– …where we fit in…where we CAN fit in; can’t force this on people – have to wait until they have a need

put out a call for others that want to work on gaming in instructional learning to collaborate and make it open source – contact Christy!

audience question: how did you get the statistics you use in the standings? (UCLA – has 29 CMSes!)
Christy: her co-op student tabulated results; game responses were emailed to someone who tracked them; approached the cms people first, but it’s for “strictly academic” learning right now

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* Monday, December 5, 2005


A Picture Share!, originally uploaded by The Shifted Librarian.

George Needham vs. Kathryn Deiss. 'nuff said :)

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Gaming Symposium 04: Walt Scacchi

Opportunities for Game Culture and Technology in Public Libraries

– games as immersive, experiential literary form – game play as emergent narrative
– gaming as rapidly growing global industry
– modding and making games as practice-based learning and career development
– games as new media and cultural form
– game culture as social movement

walt mentions web 3.0! (third place) has more than 80,000 channels right now

20,000 open source collaborators, which averages out to 2 per project
law of averages means there’s a core group of people driving and networking these projects
a small number of people can connect a large community (eg Kevin Bacon)

making games as career develoment – unreal tournament


Kinetic City as a standard for science standards – oriented only to 12–year olds
cost $2 million to build!

unfortunately, I missed the rest of Walt’s talk, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find more blogger notes about it at

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Gaming Symposium 03: Constance Steinkuehler

The Gaming Generation & Libraries: Intersections

defined Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs)
– highly graphical 2– or 3–d videogames
– online social interaction
– persistent virtual worlds
– real-time, perpetually accessible
– loosely structured by open-ended (fantasy) narratives, but…
– players free to do as they please
– “Escapist fantasy” yet emergent “social realism” (Kolbert 2001)

people end up spending a lot of time in these games worrying about things like crime, families, etc.

spotlighted Lineage II
showed her character, which is not a Barbie
military strategist; 2–6 weeks to plan a siege!
showed a clip of a siege

audience question: what happens in a game like this when you die?
Constance: it’s not permanent death; I’ll die 12 times, but I’ll lose a little “experience” (which is like losing work and time)
highest level character is 72

audience question: is there an overlap to playing multiple games?
Constance: they’re time-intensive, so overall, not more than one or two at a time

showed Everquest money for sale on ebay 
77th largest economy in the real world w/GNP between Russia and Bulgaria; platinum piece trades higher than both Yen & Lira

intellectually rich environments
– collaborative groups that look like “cross-functional teams” by Glenn M. Parker; starts to look like fast capitalism
– constellation of literacy practices (“the literacy scare” out in the media) – have to define reading in the first place! showed a “constellation of literacy practices” just from Lineage (just dealing with print, reading and writing)

in-game talk
example: afk g2g too ef ot regen no poms; necessary when you’re dealing with 58 players
if you do the functional linguistic analysis that acknowledges the intact activity structure, coordinates the other participants who remain, and displays community standing as “beta vet”

— missed a bit while we looked for Michael’s suddenly missing Airport Express!!!! — anybody seen it?!

talked about massive sites that fans maintain (similar to Wikipedia)
Constance is looking at scientific inquiry in fan forums
personal gameblogs are very popular, documenting all of the escapades you go on
fan fiction
– showed a couple of great examples from kids (middle schoolers); the writing is part and parcel of game play

MMOGaming isn’t replacing literacy activities. It is a literacy activity.
if you compare the writing to NCTE standards, it’s not bad; same for technology standards
these literacy practicies exceed national reading, writing, & technology standards! (10th graders)

so what’s up the media scare?
– fear of technology
– fear of youth culture (while they claim kids aren’t reading and writing, they’re really more concerned with WHAT they’re reading and writing)

systems of reciprocal apprenticeship
– orientation to goal
– practice —> feedback
– focuses learner’s attention
– practice —> feedback

mentor actually teaches, without waiting for the apprentice to get an 85% or better on the quiz
master elf’s actions tied to a particular set of values, a particular view of the world
peers are enculturating each other into the world!

so what’s of value?
what is she overtly or tacitly trying to teach me?
you can see the signals in the transcript
– procedural dexterity
– mentorship
– (virtual) material is mithrill and it’s good
– membership
– equal distribution of opportunity * (not equal distribution of outcomes, but opportunities)

ethos of meritocracy
– used example of MadamSin transcript; she owned 4 of 6 castles in Lineage I, and two years later, she’s still well-known, part of the lore (in real life, she was an illegal immigrant welder, and yet she is a powerful leader online)
made the comparison of high schools – what if kids had had these virtual places to be something other than themselves?
– participatory culture
– awareness of different ‘games’
– primacy of the subjective (being the hero of your own story; McLuhan: searching not for goals but for roles, a striving for an identity that eludes”

videogames are a push technology
as gaming enters the home, computers go along with that
not just hardware, but norms as well; participatory culture

why should libraries care about videogames?
– intellectually rich environments
– collaborative
– sites for literacy practices (compare to libraries – how similar, how different?)
– enculturation into practices & perspectives (cultural shift towards participatory consumption and then sharing it with their social network)


“social mod” – put aside their fighting to “farm the farmers” to get rid of the people making money off them; the company that made the game had NO idea this was going on!

showed a mod (built for fun) downloaded more than 1400 times
average download for academic papers is 1.8
– user identified a problem, built the mod, had conversations with other mods, and now he no longer plays – gaming becomes modding)
– they’ve started recording movies of gameplay of World of Warcraft
– “beer for my horses” movie – 164,000 downloads of just this one movie (923 a day!)

— found the missing Airport YAY! wireless network is back up! —

idea of third place
– video games are third place for today’s youth
– they build social networks here
– they bridge networks here

audience question: is there the possibility for mutiny in Lineage?
Constance: ohhhhhh, yes

next Games, Learning, & Society conference will be June 15–16, 2006

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Gaming Symposium 02: Steve Jones

The Gaming Landscape: College Students, Gaming & Learning

spent a lot of time gaming on Plato, very little time spent on it learning

Pew’s funding runs out at the end of this month?!

Background for The Gaming Landscape study:
– paper survey distributed in 2002 to students at 27 higher ed. institutions in U.S.
– 1,162 surveys returned
– online survey randomly distributed among college students at 25 U.S. higher ed.
– observations and interviews conducted at 10 universities

3 categories of games that are not mutually exclusive:
– video games (those requiring consoles and tv sets)
– computer games (that require a PC)
– online games (those that require an internet connection, typically for multiplayer interaction)

what we know:
– 70% of students surveyed reported playing games “at least once in a while” (surprised at the low number)
– 65% of students reported being “regular” or “occasional” game players
– all of those surveyed reported to have played a video, computer or online game at one time or another – THIS NEVER HAPPENS IN THEIR SURVEYS!! tells us something about the integration of games in these kids’ lives

of the 27% of college students who said they do not occasionally or regularly play video, computer, or internet games at all the primary reasons for not playing:
– 20% cited “lack of interest”
– 13% cited “waste of time”

what was interesting is that to them, pulling out your cell phone and playing a game while waiting for a friend didn’t constitute “gaming” for them
only 2% cited a lack of electronic gaming resources (speaks to the issue of access to games for this generation)
– only .5% cited unfamiliarity with games (don’t even know what to do with this number because their margin of error is 3%)

more women than men reported playing computer and online games (60% women to 40% men)
gaming is pretty ubiquitous across racial groups
computer games held a slight edge in popularity (71%); then video games (59%); then online games (56%) – makes sense because of the proliferation of computers
computer games also have an edge over video games and onlien games in time used
daily, twice as many college students play an online (14%) or a computer game (13%) as play a video game (6%)
nearly half (45%) of college students reported going online to play a game (as the sole reason for going online)

69% were exposed to video games in elementary school! online games come as they get older; jr. high/high school and college, move to online and computer games

one of the ways kids move through the types of games and what they play, it’s a deliberate setting for activities
– if I’m home and I’m bored, I’ll play video games
– if I’m online and doing something else, I’ll play an online game
– if I’m waiting for someone, I’ll play on my gameboy or PDA
==> so gaming is becoming slotted into particular activities; understanding this is going to be an interesting effort for libraries to understand when we’re slotted; to do particular things at particular times

when do they play?
– 41% of college student gamers reported playing mainly after 9pm
– I missed the other two statistics

where do they play?
– 31% at parent’s home
– 27% friend’s home
– 23% dorm room
– 2% at the library

in what ways, as children grow, are they still acclimated to libraries?

does gaming impact their academic lives? – got contradictory answers
– 66% said gaming had no influence on their academic performance
– however on another question, 48% agreed that gaming keeps them from studying “some” or “a lot”
– 9% said their main motivation for playing games was to avoid studying

– 69% said they’d never used a video, computer, or internet gaming in the classroom for educational purposes; which means 31% have! (glass half full?)
– 31% admitted playing games that were not part of the instructional activities during class

they want realistic graphics, excitement, interactivity in games
in video games, racing games are far and away the most popular, followed by role-playing/adventure and then arcade games
card games were the predominant interest of both computer and online gamers

– the most important trend spotted is the integration of gaming into other activities (“multitasking”)
– take time between classes to play a game
– play a game while visiting with friends or instant messaging (other things might be going on in the room, too; it’s not a pure behavior)
– play games as a brief distraction from writing papers or doing other work
– play games when “bored” (regardless of setting)

the younger the student, the more likely they are to play games
they also did a survey of college faculty (when will there be enough faculty that are gamers?)
at what point will there be a “verge” of opportunities for gaming in the classroom?
thinks this divide will maintain itself for a little while longer (among teachers and librarians – in terms of meeting a diverse range of patrons)

is there a gaming divide?
– higher family incomes correlated to a higher likelihood of gaming; everyone experienced it, but the likelihood of frequency goes up with income
– bur race does not seem to be a factor in gaming
– has to do with some of the same digital divide issues (access to technology, resources, etc.)

– Visualization
– Interaction
– Collaboration
– Immersion
What might it look like?

teaching higher math seemed to make more sense in something like the Cave, which costs $500,000–$1 million for 10’ x 10’; it IS networked, though, so can share environments!
Immersadesk – Lincoln School in Oak Park?!
GeoWall, AutoStereo & Beyond – walls of displays
example of taking you back to the Harlem Renaissance, gain insight into the music and the literature
does information in these types of environments have to hew to some standard of accuracy?
– the accuracy school says if we’re going to recreate Harlem, it must be exact
– the educational school says I don’t want the building where they really were because going from the Apollo to the Cotton Club will be too far for them to traverse
==> when these two groups get together, it’s explosive!

are these fiction or nonfiction environments? do we have standards by which to judge? important for libraries to consider if we’re going to create virtual worlds

– global high-speed networks will have an impact on gaming (there are everquest users from around the world)
– culture and language (bartering, negotiating); might see cross-cultural game trainers emerge
– public support

audience question: have they ever asked how many people are playing board games?
Steve: we did in the second round, but we don’t have that data yet; they didn’t get many responses, possibly because the perception was that the survey was about electronic gaming

audience question: are they looking at data from forums
Steve: no, but others are

audience question: if we integrate the gaming more fully, do librarians become the introducers? we already have a 10–week computer club for middle school kids who don’t even have email accounts
Steve: groups, probably peer-led, are a good option, so keep doing that; when they take the immersadesk to schools, it’s the first time the kids see it, but they “get” it right away

audience question: given the number of hours people play games, do you envision or have there been any studies done correlating gaming and sustained reading?
Steve: I”m not aware of any, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some out there; some studies have shown a weak correlation between gaming and literacy, but it’s a chicken-and-egg proposition, so it’s difficult to tell

audience question: you’ve noted the interstitial use of gaming, which seems at odds with the dashboard theories in the last session
Steve: noted the book “The Second Self;” children are oriented towards mastery of the world around them, so mastery of something like a gameboy is an important state; later in life, that mastery becomes less important, at which point socializing becomes a bit more of an issue; some will always spend an inordinate amount of time gaming

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Gaming Symposium 01 - Les Gasser

Les gave the first keynote speech of the symposium: New Landscapes for Libraries
Les teaches a LIS course: Game Culture and Technology

courses in GSLIS and across the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign to use gaming and new media

3 models

“A Box of Books” (“The B Model”)
– an information repository

the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but they do
libraries shouldn’t be flying, but they are; how do we keep a library afloat
where did the initial incentive for libraries come from and how do we keep that going?

Digital Transformations:
ebooks – since the platforms haven’t worked well, people have repurposed them for gaming
epaper – flexible; “readius” device that takes epaper and scrolls it; digital paper that is downloadable (may see this first with restaurant menus)
– will start to emulate the books we now love

Transaction Costs:

Ronald Coase argued in 1937
– if TCs are high, it pays to hire employees (organization) vs. contracting out jobs (market)
– arrangements of transaction costs shape social organization

Extrapolate that to Information Transaction Costs

= each has a cost… each contributes to the cost of other activities

in the year 500, what it cost to copy information (monks writing) vs. now
as a general trend the cost of all of those information transactions is going down, to below zero in some cases
= actually goes negative in some cases, so you make money by copying information (Google as the example)

flickr (where many of the pictures in this presentation came from)
copyright conflict
flame wars
open source

BoB Libraries???

near-zero or below-zero Tcs drive consumers away from libraries
– movie attendance
– radio listenership
– television viewing

increasing pressure to profit from every customer “touch” (lending transaction)
– disintermediation of libraries

increase circulation via CRM
maintain symbolic status quo of mission

hooking them with something else and then pushing the book on them maintains the symbolic status quo

but libraries should maintain the stewardship of resources
paperbacks (preservation)
A/V & media
console games
= same debate

can libraries benefit from this new landscape?

What’s in a Library? (“The K Model”)
Willam Learned: Library as community intelligence center
university of the people
informed citizenry/availability of public knowledge

critical role of innovation for society:
assimilating the new
visiting the cutting edge
migrating new knowledge/experience into practice (e.g. readers’ advisory services)

World Bank Study: 2–5% of the population will become entrepeneurs, will become producers instead of consumers

Library as venue of community & cultural innovation
a place where society innovates

(Aaron comments that I probably love all this because of my interest in participatory culture. He’s right!)

can view games as a ubiquitous reflection of emerging culture
foundation of cultural mythology and transmission

example of Les’ son and Harry Potter
there’s not just “one” Harry Potter – there’s the movie version, the game version, the cover of the books version
the ways we transmit culture are happening through the games, which means we have to build a relationship between games and libraries

woman that studied apprenticeship in African tribal cultures
==> defined learning as “gaining membership in community (of practice)”
can’t learn if you don’t participate in the community
so if libraries are stirring up society in good ways, leading innovation, etc., then we have to think of libraries as fostering participation in communities

however, there are some issues with that:

the world of gaming is primarily one of open systems
– practices, environment are constantly changing (unlike the cycle of new editions of books)
– player directed content is important; narratives emerge from the actions of players
– emergent experience; you don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens
– unplanned interactions
– cultural conflict (Grand Theft Auto)
– can involve external worlds (your cellphone, GPS, play the game outside in the place – not a fixed, indoor location)

libraries depend on the stability of structure, content, and meaning; on control over quality (who assures the quality of information)
but that’s not easy to control in a world of openness
stewardship of enduring resources of culture; what’s enduring of this constantly changing melting pot?

The Primer: Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age
how do we use the library to open the world of The Primer?

– could be a space of extended placeness (virtual spaces)
– multi-modal inter-acting webs of services
– immersive, persistent (web 2.0!!!!!)
– social, collective
– game models as metaphors

showed Guild Wars Information Environment
“dashboard” of information
showed same thing from World of Warcraft
can buy your own island in Second Life and leave information there

faculty at U of I bought an island in Second Life and they’re keeping information there and meeting there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

showed video of a large, immersive “book” where the person moves their hand and the pages change (too cool!) – VR goggles
“the cave;” hand-controlled joystick that lets you walk into the book!!!
“a mobile information service” – readers’ advisory
literally walking over the page of a book
find a printing press, can make letters move onto the printing press
move into a painting of The Last Supper

an immersive, virtual environment with few clues for navigation

Gaming and Libraries: I model

– virtual place extensions (library services in other places)
– immersion in experience
– new venues for services
– competition, chance, simulation, vertigo (4 types/aspects of games) – are these things libraries need to think about exploring to let people experience innovation?

how do we create these new venues to exploit these new transaction costs?

mentions Apolyton University for Civ III

advocates getting away from thinking about libraries in any kind of a traditional way
promoting knowledge, access to knowledge, citizen participation – anywhere we don’t normally think to go

audience question: the expense of creating games like “the cave”
Les: around 400 “caves” and they’re not cheap; certainly a factor for why we can’t just jump into this
what could be interesting would be game mods; exploiting communities of modders to create the kind of things we want to create

audience question: are there studies that show our imagination changes in these immersive environments
Les: used the song “California Dreaming” as an analogy; he used to be able to imagine his own vision of the song, but now he just gets the music video
possibility for exploration and discovery; ways to trigger creativity

audience question: World Bank study about entrepeneurship – are gamers becoming producers?
Les: p2p file sharing studies show that very few people actual upload files, but a large number download; statistics are roughly the same for game mod producers versus consumers; crosses more than just the World Bank study

audience question: if looking for parallels to immersion model, as a musicologist, he was part of a trend where they got the original instruments and immersed themselves into the period; similar parallel – has really reshaped their thought to what went on during that time; but by revisiting the past, it’s a wonderful learning environment
Les: traveling in time to become part of a community; see for bringing back nostalgic games, TCM for old movies that no one may want to watch anymore – same thing

audience question: mentioned looking at museum game metaphors, what kinds of services would you like to see libraries provide for academics like yourself?
Les: will have to think on that

audience question: we do gaming at my library, and bridging the gap between haves and have-nots seems to be a big piece of this; all types come together for the gaming, though, and become a community; do you agree this might be a new role for libraries? a melting pot with gaming as a catalyst?
Les: certainly – we’ve seen this in the past with immigrants; for whatever reason (risk aversion, economics, etc.), libraries need to make this accessibility happen

audience question: Arizona state university is trying to innovate in this area, exploring gaming – trying to build a game to teach information literacies; want their catalog and databases to be more immersive and look more like gaming; how do we begin to put these ideas into actions? what kind of skills should we be looking for in IT people, recent graduates, etc.?
Les: it’s a constant struggle at the U of I library school because most students come in with wonderful experiences of the library and they look to understand how to duplicate that; teach me the way it’s done so I can do what I saw and loved; so people trying to prepare students for 20 years down the road is difficult; how do we envision the future and discover what skills will be needed? they teach general concepts (metadata, etc.), but we don’t think far enough ahead; need to have a lot more conversations

audience question: would avatars be useful in library tutorials? interested in the dashboard concept. do you feel that the complexity of the dashboard is what people find engaging?
Les: what you saw doesn’t come with the game – it’s complexity you build while playing; you can make it less or more complex, which is how people play the game
followup: could we have some chatter like that and have learning happen?
Les: might think of games and learning as “math blaster” (high uptake and then abandoned by games); simulation (flight simulator, stocks, etc.) where intent is to learn; both of these are explicit learning, but the third model is implicit – need information navigation skills, and tons of other skills, so you have to learn that from other people to play; better think about your theory of learning so you know what you’re going to build – is learning a side effect?

audience question: I’m a programmer by accident and a librarian by profession; writing a game is not easy, so it’s no accident that only 2% generate all of this information that the rest of the world consumes; if you look at the library historically, 500 years ago we cataloged information that the world is flat, so it seems like libraries should be immersed in gaming; now realizes that it’s not wrong to collect bad information
Les: “Science and Action” book opens with 3 vignettes; Tracy Kidder’s “Soul of a New Machine” – the place to live is when information is a mess, that’s where innovation happens

audience question: was thinking of a model for the library as an IT center for the village/city
Les: yes, many people have been thinking along those lines; we buy proprietary games for circulation, but not free software; wouldn’t it be great to be able to try out software from the library; when I’m interested in a new idea, I go to the library and check out books AND software; why don’t we do this? we don’t think of software as an information resource we catalog, and we don’t have the culture, means, or resources (or even skills), but it’s another possible avenue; some corporate libraries do this, but it’s a matter of thinking openly about resources you bring in; do this with game mods?

Kathryn: director of the LBJ library said we can’t predict the future, but we can shape the narrative; could these immersive experiences do that?

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* Friday, December 2, 2005

Gaming in Libraries Symposium Pre-Notes

A few last minute details before the Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium officially starts on Monday. First of all, to the 131 of you coming, you ROCK! I can’t wait to meet each and every one of you, so please say hi.

Some organizational details:

  • Sunday night, we’re going to have an unofficial meetup at the Wyndham Hotel’s bar around 7:00 p.m. (map). Anyone and everyone is invited to come sit and chat about all things gaming, all things libraries, and all things in general. Consider this your invite.
  • Let’s decide now on tags for blog posts, Flickr pictures, bookmarks, etc. I’m proposing GaminginLibraries2005, but I’m open to suggestions. Leave ‘em in the comments.
  • My advice for attendees is to wear casual clothing and comfortable shoes. During lunches and for two hours on Monday night, we’re going to be gaming, gaming, gaming. At the very least we’ll have Mario Kart, Dance Dance Revolution, and Donkey Konga, so be prepared!
  • We weren’t able to find a way to record video from the sessions, but I do plan to try to record the audio for later podcasting. If you have any candles handy, Sunday night or Monday morning would be a good time to light them and say a few hopeful words. I’m much more confident that we’ll be posting the presentations on the GLLS website next week. I heard from a lot of people who really wanted to be there but couldn’t for various reasons, and I just want you to know we’re going to do our best to make as much of the material as possible availabe to you.
  • There is one internet port in the room, but I’m bringing a wireless access point, so hopefully we’ll be able to light up the whole room. Another candle would be appropriate for this exercise. Unfortunately, we won’t be broadcasting live, but if we get this working, I’ll try to be on IM and email during the day so that anyone with questions can ask them. Send me your stuff and I’ll see what I can do.
  • Other people you might want to meet while there include Michael “My Library Is Gaming and Wiki-ing!” Stephens, Aaron “I Do Such Cool Stuff on My Library’s Website” Schmidt, Kelli “Hey, We Do Some Pretty Cool Stuff on My Library’s Website, too!” Staley, Chad “Accidental Techie, All-around Nerd, and Most Excellent Blogger” HaefeleChris “I’m Going Ahead with Systemwide Gaming” DeWeese,  Mindy “We Have an Online Game for Our High School Students” Null, and many more (not to mention all of our wonderful speakers!). Take advantage of all of the brainpower that will be in this room and spend some time talking to your peers, your fellow gamers, your fellow librarians!
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SJCPL Goes Wiki Wild

SJCPL Subject Guide WIKI Goes Live Today! Check It Out!

Our Reference Librarians and Web Developer are hard at work on this new project! And let me be the first to say they are making great strides to move SJCPL toward Library 2.0! What you'll find is librarian created subject pages in the grand tradition of Kansas City PL via a Mediawiki installation. All of the staff have been trained and are creating pages in their areas of interest and expertise. It gets me going!

Our library users will be able to get logins and post under the TALK tabs. Let the conversations begin!” [Tame the Web]

This gets me going, too, and I can’t wait to see what happens here. I’m going to channel Michael and say HOT X 3! Major congrats to SJCPL for moving forward so boldly – nicely done!

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Defining Users

Merriam-Webster is picking up on the value of collaborating with users. Check out their Open Dictionary, a “a live, day-by-day chronicle of neologisms based completely on contributions from our users.” View entries most recently added, alphabetically, or by category. [via Slashdot]

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