Can’t afford a new book? Get it for FREE at the library!

Just wanted to link to this fantastic video posted by the Free Range Librarian on the power of libraries in a poor economy.

Go us!


Course Wrap-up

I really enjoyed all of the learning that I participated in this semester as part of LIS768. While I was familiar with many of the technology tools we used in this class, it was good to look at them anew from the perspective of the library and its users. The collaborative nature of the class, both through our discussions and in our blogging really helped to clarify issues from many points on the technology spectrum.

I think a lot of the learning we had in this class was about pushing people’s boundaries. Does this mean that every library should be Deweyless or have interactive areas like the Augmented Library? Not necessarily. But every library can take steps towards a greater level of user-centered design. Maybe a teen librarian puts up a MySpace page instead of banning MySpace. Maybe instead of banning cell phones, we text users when their books are due. There are a lot of baby steps between Library 1.0 and Library 2.0. Each library has the responsibility to determine where they and their users need to be at this moment, and be ready to re-evaluate those ideas on a regular basis.

I took this class because I became excited about the Web 2.0 technologies that I learned about in LIS753. I’m a person who loves technology and enjoys using it, especially in creative ways. However, I gained from this class not more fun tech tricks, but a better understanding of where libraries should be going, regardless of the technology they use to get there.

I hope to maintain this blog (though I said that at the end of 753) and hope to keep tabs with all of you on how we can continue to grow in this process. Thanks for all your thoughts, ideas and reality checks.

Paper Abstract

In the history of libraries, never before has there been such a demand to create library services for teens. And never before has it been so challenging to reach and attract young people as it is today. The Millennials, as this generation is called are a “cohort of young adults who have grown up with personal computers, cell phones and the internet and are now taking their place in a world where the only constant is rapid change” (Pew Research Center). Trying to reach out to this generation with the same-old library service of top-down policies and red tape will drive them away.

Instead, it’s time to embrace the teachings of Library 2.0 and remake the library for all users, especially young people. According to Sarah Houghton-Jan, “Library 2.0 simply means making your library’s space (virtual and physical) more interactive, collaborative, and driven by community needs” (Houghton-Jan). In order to create library 2.0 for young people, we need to find a way to make the library more interactive, so it will be attractive to teens. Next, we need to figure out how to collaborate with our teen users to keep them coming back. Lastly, we need to determine what teens really need from the library in order to make an impact in their lives and transform teens from problem patrons to lifelong library lovers. By using a variety of sources including experts in the field of teen services, ways to make the library more interactive, collaborative and focused on user needs will be explored.

Group Project: Research @ Your Library

This is my part of our group project. The objective was to create a series of videos to take junior high students through the research process, from start to finish. Each of the videos was created using a different technique. I used a video game called The Sims 2 to create video clips, which I then cut together using Windows Movie Maker.  This technique is called machinima.

Overall, it was moderately easy to create the video clips, but I am familiar with the game and I researched techniques for creating videos on several sites, especially britannica dreams, a site dedicated to making machinima movies. Using Windows Movie Maker to edit my video was very straightforward. Unfortunately, I had to make a lot of cuts in WMM because of the way The Sims 2 creates movie clips. All these cuts made my movie very “complicated” which meant it couldn’t be saved as a .wmv in my version of WMM. Because I saved my movie as an .avi, it was too large to load onto Youtube in one piece.

As far as the “group” project is concerned, because we each made separate videos, the main collaborative element was deciding on the topic, splitting up information to be covered, and brainstorming techniques for video making. We tried keeping each other informed of our progress on Twitter, but the limit of 140 characters made in-depth discussion difficult. We ended up doing a lot of the final preparation over e-mail.

Enjoy my videos and the other videos from my group. We’re on YouTube, and each video is a response to the next. You can also check out their blogs: Parry with Part II , Aleks with Part III, and Ana with Part IV

Part 1

Part 2

Information literacy on the interwebs

Many of us are familiar with fun library promotion videos, like Common Misconceptions about the Library, and the Library Rap. However, since I’ve been spending a lot of time making an instructional video for students using the library, I thought I’d look to see if there were other videos designed for user instruction on the web.

Turns out, there’s a ton of great videos that cover a variety of topics. Most of them appear to be produced by Academic libraries for use by college students.

Starting from the beginning, Harper College Library offers a humorous tour in their video, while William College Library uses their video as a setup for a library scavenger hunt.

There are some good videos about evaluating web resources, using boolean operators, or the hilarious Databases! which appears to be a student project and features one super-smooth Guybrarian.

UCLA has done a series of instructional videos called LITEbites(Lite stands for Library Instruction To Everyone) Many of the videos are parodies of films or TV shows , such as Dude, Where’s My Book on using the Catalog and Nightmare on Term Paper Eve about keeping track of your sources.

At first, I had a hard time finding videos for k-12 kids, but when I headed over to Teachertube, I found more. It was more difficult to browse these videos, because unlike Youtube, there are no recommended videos in the sidebar. I found a library orientation video from a high school that contained LOTS of rules, and a slightly nausea-inducing video about how to find books for elementary students.

It seems that our group project may be a welcome addition to the library instruction offerings. Does anyone know other good user instruction videos? Especially ones for kids?

Author Blogs

When I first got a feedreader (see previous post on the word aggregator to know why I choose feedreader) I added lots and lots of blogs to the reader. I checked it ALL THE TIME. Then life caught up to me, and I had to drop some of the blogs that didn’t hold my interest. Some of those that I kept ended up being blogs from Young Adult authors.

My favorite YA author of all time is Tamora Pierce (yes, she beats Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling. I may like some of their books a little better, but Tammy herself is just awesome, AND she writes awesome books… so there you are. Tammy calls her blog “Dare to be Stupid.” She talks about the reason she chose to name her blog after a Weird Al song in her first post. Recently, she asked her fans for help. She was working on a short story and couldn’t remember details about a particular character. She had her answer in less than four hours.

Scott Westerfeld is the author of Uglies, Peeps and the Midnighters books. His blog is fun and random. Recently he posted pictures of fans in costume as characters from his books. Not only that, but Scott is always on the pulse of what is happening in the YA author blogosphere.

For example, Lauren Myracle recently dared several YA authors to face their biggest fears, then blog about it. There were great posts from Shannon Hale (Newbery Honor winning author of Princess Academy) , Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries) and Libba Bray (author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy). More authors to add to my feedreader! Yeah!

Except then I might have too many again… We’ll see.

What’s the point of all this nonsense?

  1. Well, we ARE librarians and part of what we do is books.
  2. Plus it’s a fun way to tap into the writing process and what goes on in our favorite author’s heads.
  3. It helps make authors real to the readers, including the teens in our library
  4. You can get access to cool information that teens will want to know about their favorite books/authors.

If you want to see if your favorite YA author has a blog, try YA Author Cafe. Of course, lots of children’s and adult fiction writers also have blogs. You can add some of those too. Consider having the link to the author’s blog in your information about the next book club selection. Any other ways people are using author’s websites or blogs in libraries?

The new Library brand: ukuleles

This has nothing to do with Library 2.0, but it’s awesome.

Fans of Unshelved may have already seen this:

At Forbes Library in MA, Circulating Ukulele Is a Hit

Awesome! Just Awesome!

Creativity for Sale?

A co-worker and I were preparing for the new session of storytimes coming up. She mentioned that she had been looking on the Internet for a while for a flannelboard pattern where kids add feathers to a turkey’s tail. Turns out, we already had just such a flannelboard made from a pattern from a book. My co-worker commented that it was “exactly what she was looking for” and was frustrated by trying to find similar materials on the Internet.

I, too, find that it can be difficult to find planning materials for storytime on the Internet. Of course, there are no end to storytime websites, including Bayviews, The Best Kids Book Site, and the newest offering from Hennepin County: ELSIE.

But storytimes are about more than books. They may also include rhymes, songs, fingerplays, flannelboards, crafts, games and music. These elements can be harder to find online. Finding flannelboards and crafts that are of high quality can be even harder. Because the truth remains that it can be hard to make money from your ideas when you make them freely available on the web, but people are generally reluctant to pay for web content. The best way to get credit (and benefit financially) from your ideas is to put them in a book. However, I never think to look for rhymes or flannelboards in books anymore.

I do use DLTK for crafts and the occasional flannelboard, and I have found some rhymes on The Best Kids Book Site, but I wonder if other have any good ideas for flannelboards, rhymes or crafts.

This also brings up a bit of the arguement about creative commons and copyright. If a person has a talent, they deserve to be recognized for that talent and, in many cases, compensated.  My talent as a singer is a commodity. I choose to donate my talent or use it in return for compensation. It seems however that there is a stigma in the library world against those who expect to be compensated for their abilities.

I am, of course, a fan of the creative commons and of the open source movement. But sometimes I pause before I put my ideas up on a listserv, thinking “what if I put these ideas into a book and made some money off of them instead of just giving them away?” Is there still a market for books containing storytime ideas? Should these ideas be freely available on the internet, even if it affects the quality of ideas available? What do people think?

Context Book: Everything Bad is Good for You

Is it just me, or is everything making us dumber. Whether it’s reality TV or Google or video games, it’s clear from the vast majority of voices in print and on the internet that popular culture is making us dumber.

Or is it?

Not according to Steven Johnson in his book Everything Bad is Good for You. Here are a few of Johnson’s main points:

  1. Reading is only seen as the paragon of free-time applications because it came first. Not to say that Johnson is anti-book. He wrote one, so that alone should say something. Reading is extremely important for developing and honing mental skills like imagination and books, according to the author, “remain the most powerful vehicle for conveying complicated information.”
  2. Other forms of popular culture such as video games, television and the Internet are becoming increasingly complex and are “honing different mental skills that are just as important as the ones exercised by reading books.”
  3. By examining data on IQ scores collected by James Flynn, we can see that we appear to be getting smarter in ways that can not be attributed to improvement in education or lifestyle. Johnson posits that the reason for the change is the growing complexity of popular culter.

My favorite part of the book focuses on video games; those oft-maligned experiences of cultural degradation. Games may seem like playtime, but most of today’s video games require serious WORK. For example, I play the online game Runescape. I was told that while the game gets better after you become a member, you should work on leveling up before you join. Okay, I thought, Easy enough. So I took my little avatar and started killing stuff, first chickens, then cows, then baddies like trolls and orcs. And you know what: it got boring! And I was only at level 30. The recommended level for a member is 60+!

But every other kid that walks into my library has spent hours and hours killing trolls to level up their combat skills and more hours perfecting a skill (mine was mining) that will provide them with money. Why do we do all this? For the eventual reward. The little box that pops up telling you that you gained a smithing level is worth everything in the world. Those rewards are what keep players playing the game even when it seems monotonous.

And the most important thing for our brains is what happens while we’re playing the game and killing all those cows. It’s a process that Johnson calls probing and telescoping. First, a gamer has to figure out what s/he needs to do. To do that, we test theories and hypothesis. This is what Johnson calls probing.

What happens when you click on the brown cow? You kill it.

What happens when you click on the black cow? You get milk.

What happens when you click on the milkmaid? Nothing…

At the same time, a player is trying to reach an ultimate goal. In a game like Zelda, that might be beating the game. In an open-ended game like Runescape, it might be leveling up or getting a certain amount of gold. In order to reach that goal, you must accomplish many other smaller goals. This part is called telescoping.

I want to buy a better sword so,

I need more money so,

I need to sell better things so,

I need to increase my crafting ability so,

I need to craft leather gloves so,

I need a needle and some tanned leather so,

I need to give some hides and gold to the tanner so,

I need to get some hides so,

I need to kill a cow

Now, you say, that’s nice and all, but when will you need to kill cows, buy swords, or make leather gloves in the real world. Well, it’s not about the cows. According to Johnson, “the collateral learning of the experience offers a far more profound reward: the ability to probe and telescope in difficult and ever-changing situations.”

So video games aren’t just helping us learn, they’re helping us become life-long learners and problem solvers. And as I’ve said many times before, the kid who saves the world probably won’t remember when the Battle of Hastings was, but s/he’ll know how and where to find the information s/he needs.

Johnson goes on to discuss how television (even reality TV) increases our emotional intelligence and how the internet increases social connections.

What’s the connection to libraries? If pop culture is making people smarter, then it’s not just fluff to offer DVD’s and computers at libraries: it’s essential. Maybe we should start circulating video games, too! (Sit down, AL.) Sorry for the long post, everyone but I hope it was interesting (if not entertaining!)

All quotations taken from:

Johnson, Steven. Everything Bad is Good for You. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005.

Nerdfighters FTW!

Think back to when you were in high school. Did you know a nerd? Were you friends with a nerd? Maybe you even were a nerd… I know I was. And if you were a nerd in high school, you know that being a nerd can be a pretty lonely thing. Sure there are groups of nerds, like band nerds, chess nerds and computer club nerds, but if you’re a anime nerd, or a science fiction nerd, it could be really hard to connect to other who share your passions…

Until now!

John Green, author of YA novels like Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns, teamed up with his brother Hank to start a Web 2.0 project where they created daily alternating vlog (video blog) posts. They called their project Brotherhood 2.0 and vlogged about their lives and their work. Hank is a expert on green technologies and writes about them on his blog Ecogeek. He also writes songs. Here’s an example of their early work:

About halfway through the project, Hank wrote a little song about the last Harry Potter book, which was getting ready to come out that week.

The video was featured on YouTube’s front page and the popularity of the already popular group exploded.

The result: Nerdfighters

So, why should we care? Well, below is my well reasoned (?) argument. Links abound, and most of them are to B 2.0 videos. They’re mostly to explain the odd references. Click if you wish.

Why Brotherhood 2.0/Nerdfighters is important for future librarians:

1) Understanding the power of Web 2.0 and social networking.
John and Hank Green have taking their random musings and turned them into an internet sensation. Now, of course, that’s partially because they’re made of awesome, but also because they were not afraid to put themselves out there. Since the end of the official Brotherhood 2.0 project, they have created their own social network using Ning, as well as maintaining profiles on YouTube and Facebook. Are most librarians as awesomely jokes as Hank and John Green? Probably not, and we won’t be pwning Oprah anytime soon, but we can still increase our visibility by increasing our web presence. To understand just what Brotherhood 2.0 has done for John, take a look at his most recent vlog post.

2) Understanding our users.
The vlogbrothers YouTube Channel has 45,473 subscribers and the Nerdfighters Ning has 14,499 members. Sure, some of those people are authors, librarians and Hank and John’s friends and family. But most of those people are teens and young adults who self-identify as nerds and like things like fantasy, science fiction, Harry Potter and Twilight. “We’re Nerdfighters: We fight against suck….we fight awesome We fight using our brains, our hearts, our calculators and our trombones.”
Ladies and Gentlemen: These people are library users, or they should be.

I’m not saying that you need to go to YouTube and watch all 361 videos or carve your own DFTBA jack-o-lantern (DFTBA stands for Don’t Forget To Be Awesome). but watching a few of the B2 Must See Videos or looking around at the Ning might help librarians understand their teen users (although librarians who like to ban social networking sites should not be told about

Until next time, Best Wishes!

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