The Shifted Librarian -

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* Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"You" Are Not Students

Chris Harris makes the excellent point that Time Magazine's selection of "you" (us, we, me, them) as their "Person of the Year" excludes our nation's teachers and students.

Time Didn't Mean "Me"

"When it comes to 'me' as a professional, the place where I spend the majority of my waking hours is rather not 'we.' Or, perhaps it is a bit too 'we' - but the 'we' that schools have created to mean 'us in the corner twiddling our thumbs and pretending that the Internet doesn’t exist.' See, for me, Facebook is forbidden. Second Life is shut down. Amazon reviews are avoided. Podcasts are against policy. Blogs are…well…banned just might not be strong enough of a word. The word that springs to mind is demonized. So how, then, could Time possibly have meant 'me' when they named 'you' as the person of the year?" [Infomancy]

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Five Things You May Not Know about Me

Thanks to Liz Lawley and Amy Kearns for tagging me!

  1. When I was four years old, my family lived in Athens (Greece, not Georgia) for a year. My Dad was there as a Fulbright Scholar, so the whole family went with. I have vague memories of going to preschool while there, and I was fluent enough in Greek that I was the translator between my parents and the landlord. Unfortunately, I didn't keep speaking Greek, so I forgot it. When I was 13, my Dad had a similar opportunity in Portugal, so my family lived there for three months (and spent another three months traveling to and fro). I learned some Portugese while there, but unfortunately forgot it.
  2. Even though I am softspoken in general, I actually have an excuse because I have a paralyzed vocal cord. Happened about sixteen years ago, no one knows why. That's why if you book me to speak at an event, I will be very demanding about requiring a microphone.
  3. When I was in 5th grade, I won an award from my classmates for telling the most stories about my brother. In the years since, I have accumulated even more stories about him, and I am happy to tell them at the drop of a hat.
  4. In 1980, my grandmother took me to see the Village People and Gloria Gaynor in concert. Somewhere I still have the program, even though it became a day of disillusionment for me when I later found out they had lip-synched during the entire show. I was devastated.
  5. I played the flute in grade school, even making it to first chair at one point. I'm sure you saw this coming - I stopped playing and promptly forgot how.

My turn to tag -
Ross Day (or here if he prefers), Chad Haefele, Chris Harris, Rick Roche, Kelli Staley - you're it!

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* Tuesday, December 26, 2006

You're A Mean One, Mr. Grump

Although he's had several good posts this year, Andrew Pace sneaks in a great entry for "post of the year" just under the wire. Be sure to read the whole thing.

The Grump Who Stole Libraries

"And the Grump, with his eyes crossed in self-righteous glow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: 'How could it be so?
'It came without Java! It came without stats!
'It came without perl scripts, and searches with splats!'
And he puzzled through breaktime, 'til his puzzler was sore,
Then the Grump thought of something he hadn't before!
'Maybe libraries don't come from a computer store.
'Maybe libraries...perhaps...mean a little bit more.' " [Hectic Pace]

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* Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Social Life of Libraries

In an email exchange, Jane McGonigal pointed me to Hot Books, an open spaces game created by Nick Reid and played at New York Public Library last September as part of the Come Out & Play Festival. Ignore the first sentence, as we all know it's not true, and wrap your mind around the concept.

"Libraries are dying spaces. Hot Books is a game designed to bring life back into libraries by forcing players to explore, discover and share the deserted and unexplored spaces that make up a library.

Hot Books is a game where players 'attach' books to each other. The game play of Hot Books takes place over the internet. Each player starts by creating a profile for himself. Other players then attach book titles to that profile and gain a point. If a player wants to detach a book from his profile, he has to go to the library and find a specific word in that book, which allows him to detach the book. Once the player detaches the book, he can attach it to any other player.

The game augments the library into a social space –where books are re-imagined into social markers that creates a new experience of exploring a library.

Hot Books bridges a physical library with an internet social network, and the result is a game that brings a library to life while at the same time is non-disruptive, and in fact invisible, to the already fragile library environment."

A whole different take on gaming and libraries. Imagine if libraries ran this kind of game or came up with their own open space games.

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* Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Healthy Brains @ Your Library

Short Mental Workouts May Slow Decline of Aging Minds, Study Finds

"Ten sessions of exercises to boost reasoning skills, memory and mental processing speed staved off mental decline in middle-aged and elderly people in the first definitive study to show that honing intellectual skills can bolster the mind in the same way that physical exercise protects and strengthens the body.

Experts said the federally funded study is a call to action for anyone who has ever worried about developing Alzheimer's, dementia and similar disorders. Americans spend billions of dollars each year on their physical well-being, but there are no comparable efforts to keep people mentally agile and strong.

If anything, the study suggests, there is a bigger payoff to mental exercise, because the brief training sessions seemed to confer enormous benefits as many as five years later. That would be as if someone went to the gym Monday through Friday for the first two weeks of the new year, did no exercise for five years, and still saw significant physical benefits in 2012....

Sally Shumaker, a professor of public health science at Wake Forest University in North Carolina who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, said it pointed the way to a future in which mental training is made widely available.

'I can imagine a situation in which facilities are available in community centers and libraries and aging centers, where people can play some games that are specifically designed to improve cognitive ability,' she said. 'People are fearful of cognitive decline, and the idea that a small and simple intervention can have an impact is pretty compelling.' " [The Washington Post, via Smart Mobs, via Mary Ghikas]

Great timing on this study, as I wrote an essay for the January issue of "American Libraries" about gaming and libraries and how it's not just for teens.

Besides the obvious implications for video games like Brain Age and Big Brain Academy, it's great to see recognition from the outside world that libraries could play this type of role and provide this type of service.

Talk about continuous lifelong learning...maybe we have a whole new selling point for bibliographic instruction and teaching information literacy if we just repackage it correctly! Learn how to use your library as health benefit!

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* Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Your ALA President Elect Has a Second Life

Loriene Roy, ALA President Elect and Second Lifer!
This year, we have our first blogging ALA President in Leslie Burger. When Loriene Roy takes office in June 2007, I believe we'll have our first ALA President with an avatar in Second Life. In SL, she is Mukwa Dibou!

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* Monday, December 18, 2006

A Day of Planning

I'll be in the Web Planning Retreat all day today (in case you try to call me at work and I don't answer). You can find all of the document we have on the Web Planning wiki, and Teresa Koltzenburg has been gracious enough to agree to take meeting notes that will appear there as well.

If you haven't looked at the usability assessment report, it's good reading. There's the whole report, the condensed version, and more. Accessibility advocates will be happy to hear that UserWorks tested the site for accessibility issues and that in general the issue will be a focus in the process.

Staff consensus for favorite comment has to be this one:

"/Section=long-urls&suck=yes (Yes, this is an exact quote.)" (p.12 of the full report)

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* Sunday, December 17, 2006

Time's Person of the Year? You.

"...It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes....

And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you."


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The Ethical Challenge of Living the Digital Life

I've settled into a routine during my commute in which I listen to music and read on the train and then watch video on the bus. The music is from my existing collection or it's new music I've purchased from online sites like AllofMP3.

As I've noted in the past, the video part is a little more difficult. Or at least, it's more difficult for me to legally watch video because my iPod doesn't want to work with the iTunes store. So I have taken to ripping the DVDs I get through the mail in order to watch them on the bus. I don't share the resulting file with anyone, I don't upload it anywhere, and I delete it once I've finished watching it, but technically I'm breaking the law because I'm circumventing the copyright protection on the disc. Personally, I think it's a bad law, and on the scales of justice I liken it to jaywalking rather than murder.

I'm not the only one grappling with this dilemma. Eric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune is asking questions about copying and copyright in regards to libraries and his readers are responding.

I think it's pretty obvious I'm in the "no" camp of responses on his post. Join in the discussion and let Eric know what you think. I think the big takeaway from the discussion is confirmation that in this day and age, corporations lobbying for their own interests have weighted copyright law against the public interest to the point where if public libraries didn't already exist, it would be impossible to even imagine starting them.

On a side note, Andy Rooney clearly doesn't live the digital life, let alone understand it.

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* Thursday, December 14, 2006

Reason #374 Why I Love My Job

At the ALA Midwinter conference in Seattle next month, American Libraries (ye olde magazine celebrating her 100th birthday and getting a face lift next month) and ALA TechSource (ye young home of Library Technology Reports, Smart Libraries Newsletter, and the TS Blog), will be sharing Booth 1713 on the exhibit floor.

Why do I tell you this? Because we're going to have Dance Dance Revolution in da house booth! Come one, come all, and take a break from the grind of the rest of the exhibit floor and dance your cares away. Dance against your friends, your enemies, or ALA staff (I'm shooting for a "beat Keith's score" contest). And I'll be in the booth whenver I'm free, so we can talk about gaming or anything else all you want to chat on.

Oh, and we'll be doing this again at ALA Annual in D.C. in June. ;-)

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* Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Truthiness Reigns

"Truthiness" is Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year

"First the American Dialect Society picked 'truthiness' as the Word of the Year for 2005 and now voters who took part in an online poll for Merriam-Webster have also picked Stephen Colbert's favorite word as Word of the Year for 2006...." [TV Squad]

He's even modified the MW Dictionary itself - check it out - with a tongue-in-cheek plea to viewers to not add the page to library copies.

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From my morning mailbox:


This is an invitation to join Superpatron - The Friends of the library Network, a FeedBurner Network coordinated by me, Edward Vielmetti (

FeedBurner has launched a new service to give its publishers the ability to organize themselves into networks, groups of folks who publish similar content and want band together to leverage the power of many to cross-promote their content and get more attention.

Superpatron - The Friends of the Library Network is a network comprised of feeds with content similar to mine. By accepting my invitation, you'll be associated with this network and will have access to some promotional tools to help us increase traffic and "discoverability" using network badges, chicklets and BuzzBoost, which promotes the top posts from the feeds in our network."

My favorite part is when I went to accept the invitation, instead of calling my unique ID number a "code" or "pin" or some other obscure label, it read "Golden Ticket."

Unfortunately, the screen wanted me to add the ALA L2 podcast feed I created last summer, and it was a single radio button so I couldn't say no. I'll have to see if I can fix that later. I hate to create a new feed URL for The Shifted Librarian, because I don't want to confuse folks.

Now I'm contemplating if ALA can use FeedBurner to create a network of our feeds that we can then use to show our own ads on? I'll have to investigate this further. Actually, we already have some software that could potentially do this in-house and we've started talking about it, but it would also be interesting to organize a network of library blogs in a national marketing campaign.

I have to tell you that I was inspired talking to Ed Vielmetti this week. We came up with a couple of very interesting ideas to pursue just over dinner Monday night.

Have you talked to some patrons lately?

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Jessamyn Is a Librarian

How Matt Haughey Beat Google

"Just as importantly, Jessamyn is a librarian. I can't overstate how much a site that's about providing information benefits from the presence of a librarian, someome who's an expert at retrieving and disseminating information." [Anil Dash]

Thanks for being such a great ambassador, Jessamyn.

We can't say it enough, can we? So hear you go again - Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Librarian.

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* Sunday, December 10, 2006

ALA Discussions

One of the reasons I feel lucky to be working at ALA right now is that there are some pretty big discussions happening, both internally and externally. Today I am in Washington D.C. for ALA President Leslie Burger's National Library Agenda summit. Folks here will be discussing a coordinated, national strategy for talking about libraries with legislators, community members, etc. I'll be posting notes from the meeting, which starts tonight and runs all day tomorrow. I think I'll probably put the notes on the NLA wiki, and the tag for the event is nla2006.

The following Monday, December 18, I'll be at the all-day Web Planning Retreat in Chicago. The results of the usability study done on the ALA website are back, and you can view the PDF here. This document will be discussed at the meeting on the 18th, but the focus will be on how the ideal ALA site would look and function. It won't be "what can we change about the current site to make it better," but rather how do we provide the best site possible.

If I could change any one thing about the web planning retreat, it would be to make the group more diverse and include a wider range of member representatives, but I am heartened that the discussions will be open and transparent. There is already a wiki where anyone can contribute or ask questions, as well as a blog. I'm counting on all of you to continue providing feedback as the discussions move forward.

Finally, we had a very interesting meeting internally last week where the division heads and other interested parties spent a couple of hours discussing two reports, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century and Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation.

I have notes from that meeting, which I will be posting soon. Luckily this wasn't a one-shot meeting, but will be an ongoing conversation that I'll keep you updated on.


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* Friday, December 8, 2006

ALA Roundup

A few cool things that have gone out the door at work lately. I can't take credit for any of these - I'm just excited about them.

One thing I can take some credit for is the "hold the date" announcement for the 2007 ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium to be held in the Chicago area July 22-24. We'll post as soon as registration is open, as I know we have folks chomping at the bit to sign up. I can't even tell you how big this is going to be, but trust me - you don't want to miss it. More details soon!

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* Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Fun with My LTR Cover

fun with my LTR cover, originally uploaded by The Shifted Librarian.

As you can tell, I've been having a lot of fun with Flickr lately (the ALA Staff Account, making making Moo cards, and now making Zazzle stamps of my LTR cover).

This isn't purely for my own fun, though. ALA Publishing is having its own fun with Flickr, and you're going to be seeing some cool promotional items coming from us soon! :-)

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* Monday, December 4, 2006

Congratulations to Casey Bisson & Plymouth State University!

Making Libraries Relevant in an Internet-Based Society : PSU’s Casey Bisson wins Mellon Award for innovative search software for libraries

"Casey Bisson, information architect for Plymouth State University’s Lamson Library, has received the prestigious Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration for his ground-breaking software application known as WPopac. The WPopac software will revolutionize the online search process by allowing titles and descriptions of library holdings to be found on the Internet.

The award was presented at a ceremony hosted by the Mellon Foundation on Monday, Dec. 4 at the fall meeting of the Coalition for Networked Information, in Washington, D.C. Bisson’s project was selected as one of only 10 recipients out of several hundred nominees for 2006, the first year the MATC awards have been granted. The decision was made by an all-star panel that included Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and Mitchell Baker, CEO of the Mozilla Foundation.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports the thoughtful application of information technology to a wide range of scholarly purposes, including developing digital technologies to enhance research, teaching, and online and distance learning, and new technical approaches to archiving text and multimedia materials.

Christopher Mackie, program officer for the Mellon Foundation’s Research in Information Technology section, was pleased with how well WPopac fits the foundation’s criteria.

'The award committee was particularly excited by the way WPopac makes library patrons more active participants in their library experience,' Mackie said. 'By allowing patrons to add information to library records online, the software allows the community to work together to make their library resources more informative and more valuable. When you couple this with the reduced costs of access that WPopac permits, and the enthusiasm with which it has been received by librarians and patrons alike, the committee judged the project to have a truly revolutionary potential.'...

Dwight Fischer, director of information technology at PSU, called Bisson’s work an appropriate centerpiece for the university’s transformed academic library. “Over the past year, Lamson Library has implemented what is known as a Learning Commons,” Fischer explained. 'This joint effort between library and IT professionals brings more technologies, online research materials, academic tutoring, writing and reading services to a central location in the library. Library faculty and staff members work side-by-side with IT professionals, forming a collaborative team that better reflects the needs of today’s students. Casey’s project will help build more bridges to more information for more people. We’re very proud of him.' "

Emphasis above is mine, because it's exactly why I was so excited when Casey first showed me WPopac. This project is usually at or near the top of my list when I show creative, innovative thinking (and implementation!) in libraries.

I couldn't be more thrilled about this news - congratulations to Casey and a big thank you to PSU for supporting his work.

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