The Shifted Librarian -

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* Wednesday, February 28, 2007

For Michael

Nice job, Burbank Public Library!

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U.S. House Bills, the Good and the Bad

Tell your legislators to support Rick Boucher's FAIR USE Act, which helps restore some balance to your digital fair use rights.

Then tell them to stop the insanity and reject Mark Kirk's reintroduced DOPA bill that would prevent users at libraries that accept E-rate funding from accessing social networking sites. (Thanks, Deborah!)

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* Monday, February 26, 2007

Some Great Gaming News

"Scott Rice and Amy Harris from the University of North Carolina Greensboro have graciously made their Information Literacy game available to other libraries for download and adaptation under the Creative Commons licence." [Bibliographic Gaming]

I'll be interested to see if others extend the game further. Nice job, Scott and Amy!

The BG bloggers don't post often, but it's quality stuff when they do. Earlier this month, they linked to a video of "Revolution," a mod for a game called Neverwinter Nights (NWN). It was developed by MIT and the University of Wisconsin - Madison (as those familiar with the field would expect) as a historical simulation of colonial Williamsburg for classroom use.

I've heard Henry Jenkins tell two great stories about use of this simulation and how it resonated with students in an educational way (as opposed to simply a recreational one). Both stories help illustrate the power of simulation in education, and I highly recommend that you read both stories on pages 28-29 from Jenkins' report about participatory culture for the MacArthur Foundation (PDF) if you haven't already read the whole thing, which you should do immediately anyway.

My point in highlighting this story (besides the obvious, here's-a-good-example-of-what-we've-been-talking-about angle) is that the Bibliographic Gaming blog recently found and linked to a video of Revolution. Pick your size to watch at, more in general at It's not the history class you took in middle school, is it? Unfortunately, the group ran out of funding and have since discontinued work on the game, which is a real shame.

And while there is a definite appeal to modding this game to help jumpstart library-related efforts, Dr. Jenkins noted an issue that sadly would cause no end of controversy in our world. Apparently the initial NWN screen displays an image related to witchcraft, so you can imagine the noise from the let's ban Harry Potter pocket of folks.

Bonus image from the Game On: Games in Libraries blog (Thanks, Jami!) - hunting...for information literacy (ha!)

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* Friday, February 23, 2007

It's Going to Be Okay, IT Librarians

Hopefully you've seen Allen County Public Library's funny-but-rings-true video about IT professionals and librarians, but did you know they've added a few more? There's an iACPL 2.0, 3.0 (below), and 4.0 - enjoy. Here's a great explanation for why did this from their Innovation through Technology blog.

I love what ACPL is doing with these, and I'd like to see more libraries humanize themselves online like this. Is that the official "ACPL Dance" in "iACPL 3.0?" Doesn't it seem like a great place to work?

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* Thursday, February 22, 2007

Senator Matt Murphy of Illinois Set to Ban His Own Blog from Libraries?

Senator Matt Murphy from Illinois, the legislator who has introduced the most restrictive ban on social networking sites in the nation, held a very interesting "live chat" online tonight. It took place at 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the comments on his blog at, which is an interesting use of blogging I haven't seen before. There are 69 comments that constitute the discussion, a back-and-forth between Murphy and the commenters.

In the blog post itself, Murphy sounds fairly reasonable and balanced, saying he filed the bill "to raise awareness of the threat predators on these sites pose to our kids" and "to advance a dialogue on how we can minimize this threat." Neither of these reasons really explains why he chose to introduce a full ban on a class of sites he can't even define (nowhere does the legislation explain what is meant by the term), but I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt as I read his responses anyway.

Unfortunately, I got as far as the 12th comment, in which Detective Bob Riordan, who is working with Murphy on this legislation, notes that Blogger is in the list of "top 10 social networking sites."

What site is Murphy's blog on? Blogger. So apparently, Murphy's current bill would ban his own site - where he hosted the "live chat" to discuss banning social networking sites in libraries - from being accessed in libraries, even by adults.

In addition, I got *really* scared by the following statement from the police detective:

"A possible solution to alleviate the problem would be to issue library users a screen name or a PIN number when they initially apply for a library card and monitor the internet content through the predetermined PIN or screen name."

I hope he was failing to articulate a position of filtering based on access level (child versus adult), but that still doesn't justify singling out social networking sites like this and outright banning all children from using them. In fact, I find Murphy's excuse of starting at such a restrictive point in order to "advance a dialogue" troublesome and even irresponsible of an elected official.

Murphy doesn't respond much in the comments, probably because this was a poor format for a chat and it must have been difficult to keep up with the flow. I look forward to hearing how he more clearly and directly responds to the many concerns expressed in the thread. I am particularly anxious to see how he amends his legislation in light of them, especially given that if his current bill is passed, any similar chats he holds in the future would discriminate against school and library users.

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Library Ninja, Defender of Books

Some of Steven Reed's students at Wilmington High School created a fun ad for the library:

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* Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Things I've Learned from ALA 2.0 Lately

But far and away, my favorite ALA 2.0 habit right now is the Emerging Leaders wiki. While the program had a controversial start, I can't say enough good things about the participants, many of whom I got to meet at Midwinter. They give me great hope for the future of ALA, and not just because they've gone to town using the wiki and other collaborative tools.

There are 49 registered users on the wiki, and almost all of them have added brief biographies about themselves to get to know each other. Many have even included pictures on their user pages. Many projects have contributions from their team members. These future leaders are posting meeting notes, sharing documents, posting timelines and bibliographies, talking with each other, and more, all on the wiki. It's instructional - and fun - to watch.

Again, my 80s bias will show when I point to my favorite self-named team (other than my team - go HHers!), the Librarians of Unusual Skills group, otherwise known as L.O.U.S.s.

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* Thursday, February 8, 2007

Gaming and Libraries Symposium: Call for Presenters

I just realized I never posted the Call for Presenters for the 2007 ALA TechSource Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium, so let's rectify that right now. We're accepting proposals through March 1, 2007, so you've got plenty of time to submit!

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* Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Think "Library 2.0" As You Watch this

What would you add to help your colleagues understand this is also "Library 2.0?" (Thanks, Dan!)

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* Tuesday, February 6, 2007

More than Just DDR for Fines

There was an interesting discussion in the comments on my post about DDR for fines, during which I promised to post a few links for those interested in reading more about gaming and education and gaming and libraries. I highly recommend reading these in order to understand why this is a legitimate service for libraries and how DDR for fines is just one small step into a new world of connection, literacies, and learning.

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* Monday, February 5, 2007

Public Libraries and Adapting to the Change to Virtual Community

These are some notes for my discussion with Springfield Public Library, but I'm posting them here because I think they're applicable to any public library.

A lot of folks have linked to Are Librarians Totally Obsolete? 33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important, but I want to highlight a few of its specific points because they nicely illustrate much of the Library 2.0 discussion. Please be sure to read the whole thing article on DegreeTutor, though. Any italics below are my emphasis, not the original author's.

These are our talking points for tonight, as they should be at your public library, too.

"17. Physical libraries can adapt to cultural change.
...Washington State University director of libraries Virginia Steel, for example, is a proponent of maximizing the social and interactive nature of physical library space. Group study, art exhibits, food and coffee - talking, not whispering; this is the new library. It's not obsolete, it's just changing.

19. The internet isn’t DIY.

...The internet is intensely social and interactive, and has created communities of users that are often remarkably as tight-knit as they are large. The internet is serving as a tool for humans to fulfill their natural community building instincts – sharing, interacting and doing business.

The online economy is driven in large part by the web 2.0 philosophy of human interaction, peer review and the democratization of knowledge and analysis....

Interestingly, the role of the moderator very much parallels the role of the librarian: to safeguard an environment in which knowledge can be accessed and ideas can be shared.

20. Wisdom of crowds is untrustworthy, because of the tipping point. is extremely important that libraries remain alive and well, as a counterpoint to the fragile populism of the web.

22. Unlike moderators, librarians must straddle the line between libraries and the internet.

Media literacy, although an extremely important asset for scholars and researchers, is far from universal. Who is going to teach media literacy? Many argue that librarians are the best fit to educate people about the web.

33. Old books are valuable.

But if the evolution of libraries grows to become an interactive meeting place for cultural events and the exchange of ideas, the preservation and exhibition of archival literary relics could be yet another facet to their importance (and, yes, intrigue). Indeed, old books are not only monetarily valuable, but they are part of cultural, historical memory that mustn’t be lost to digitization.


...Libraries can adapt to social and technological changes, but they can’t be replaced. While libraries are distinct from the internet, librarians are the most suited professionals to guide scholars and citizens toward a better understanding of how to find valuable information online. Indeed, a lot of information is online. But a lot is still on paper. Instead of regarding libraries as obsolete, state and federal governments should increase funding for improved staffing and technology. Rather than lope blindly through the digital age, guided only by the corporate interests of web economics, society should foster a culture of guides and guideposts. Today, more than ever, libraries and librarians are extremely important for the preservation and improvement of our culture."

I would also like to point you towards my notes about Howard Rheingold's presentation about libraries teaching our children how to be good citizens.

A reminder about the "C's" that Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 foster:

  • Community

  • Conversation

  • Commons

  • Collaboration

Some role models:

The glue that holds a lot of the online pieces together is blogging plus "Really Simple Syndication" (RSS). Some examples:

Three important things to discuss about your online services:

  • Community - is it just you online or are you having conversations with your users?

  • Conversations - is your website a one-way street or are you having conversations with your users online?

  • Expertise/guidance - are you providing librarian expertise on your website, or does someone have to come in the building or call/email you to get guidance from a librarian?

Are you taking advantage of new (and often free) tools for libraries like blogging, RSS, wikis, instant messaging, gaming, etc. to foster the "C's?" If not, how can you get started?

  • Start an internal emerging technologies group to study which new technologies might be useful for your Library

  • Think about implementing something like the 23 Things/Learning 2.0 program from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County for your staff

  • Blogging + RSS - start a blog for the "what's new" section of your website and then display the headlines on lots of different websites using RSS

  • Create zones in the physical library for different types of users

Addendum: Read about the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media, Learning, & Education initiative, especially their report Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century and ask yourself if/where libraries fit into this model and how.

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SirsiDynix Institute: Gaming in the Library

It's taken a year to finally nail down a date, but I am happy to announce that I will be presenting a SirsiDynix Institute about Gaming in the Library on March 13, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. CST.

"Much is happening in the world of gaming right now, and it's not just a lot of teenage boys sitting in the basement staring at a screen for hours on end. No, gaming has tremendous potential for libraries to reach out to new users, offer new services, and help complement efforts in community-building, information literacy, and other areas. - Don't know much about gaming but you want to know how it can benefit libraries? - Not sure what kinds of services your library could offer (especially on a limited budget)? - Are you an avid gamer who would like to offer services but you need help convincing others? - Just want to hear what other libraries are doing? We'll cover all of these topics and more in just one hour. Get the scoop that helps you clarify your thinking about gaming and libraries."

Register here!

If you haven't been taking advantage of the SirsiDynix Institutes to help yourself stay current, check out the archive and add upcoming programs to your calendar. You can't beat the price (free), the location (wherever you are), and the topics.

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* Sunday, February 4, 2007

MacArthur's "Video Games and Learning" Panel

Do Video Games Help Kids Learn?

"The MacArthur Foundation is hosting a panel discussion on the use of video games for learning on February 8, from 5:30-8:00 p.m., at Chicago’s Newberry Library. Please join us if you are available. It is the first in a series of regional public programs on the topic of digital media and learning. These public programs are designed to showcase the work of grantees who are part of MacArthur’s digital media and learning initiative. One aspect of the initiative is to look at how social institutions, such as libraries and schools, are changing as a result of digital media. Please be sure to rsvp. A short reception will follow the event.

If you are not in Chicago, but are interested in hearing the public program, you can visit the MacArthur website or the digital learning initiative’s website on February 9th for a webcast of the event."

I'll be there, so catch me and say hi if you're going.

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* Saturday, February 3, 2007


The Right Way to Respond to Parody

"Last weekend, Darren Barefoot posted Get a First Life, a hysterical parody of virtual world Second Life's website. The creators of Second Life responded with a letter that is so right-thinking and clever that it would horrify the over-reaching copyright and trademark holders whose missives litter the archives of

Instead of a cease-and-desist letter, Linden Labs sent a proceed-and-permit letter.

This letter is exactly what we would hope companies might do when faced with a parody. Not only does it acknowledge that the site is a fair use, it also provides an explicit license for trademark. Kudos to Linden Labs, and shame on the rights holders who claim that they have to go after anyone who makes any use of their copyrights or trademarks." [EFF Deep Links]

More from Darren here.

Nice job, Linden - it's good to see a company with some sense (common and humor).

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* Friday, February 2, 2007

Des Plaines Public Library

Further ahead then they think.

DPPL Vision Statement

DPPL Goals

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* Thursday, February 1, 2007

Erik and Jaap: Coming to America

At the wonderful Internet Librarian International conference in London last October, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by and hanging out a little with Erik and Jaap from Holland. These guys are fun, smart, fun, creative, fun, interesting, and fun.

This intrepid duo is shooting a documentary about innovative library services, particularly surrounding gaming in libraries, and next week they are coming to Chicago to see how we do these things here.

So if you are in the Chicago area and are up for a blogger dinner (Friday, February 9?) and/or if you work at an area library that you believe offers innovative services that the boys should see, leave a comment on this post or email me and we'll see what we can arrange.

Oh, and this will be a two-way exchange, as these gentlemen from the cutting edge Delft Public Library will share information about their own innovative programs, too.

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