effinglibrarian's blog

Interesting use of 2.0 technologies

The Maydupp Library District in Indiana has initiated a new service called, "Dusty Books for Rusty Memories." Patrons between the ages of 60 and 75 are entered into a Circulation database and every time that patron visits the library and checks out materials, a random "dusty book" (one that hasn't circulated in the past six months) is placed on hold in the patron's account. When the patron receives the message the material is on hold, she will often come in to claim the item and check it out, not remembering when or why she placed the hold.

According to Peggy Newton-Figg, the division manager, "older patrons are very trusting and we are usually able to charge these extra books to them without any argument. The patron is often confused by the selection, since it may not be a subject or by an author she's ever heard of, but usually writes off the confusion to having had a 'senior moment.'"

Using this new service, the library as been able to increase circulation by 300%. -- Read More

People hate librarians....

People hate librarians enough to take it all the way to the Supreme Court.

In the U.S. vs. the ALA, the attorney for the respondents, Paul M. Smith makes a case that library patrons can't be required to suffer the stigma of asking a librarian to unblock a "porn" filter. Essentially, that asking a librarian for this help is so traumatic that it should be declared unconstitutional. So that ultimately, the entire filtering issue comes down to the "stigma" of asking the librarian for help.

And this is the basis for this case, people hate us so much that they can't bear to ask us for help even if that help allows them to watch videos of people screwing.

...

After I bloggered about this today, I thought about my conclusion and realized something else.... this "stigma" argument was presented by the counsel representing the ALA(!!!???).
What is it supposed to mean when the association formed to represent your interests in public and political arenas, admits in public documents that it's an undue burden for someone to ask for your help? (Yeah, I realize this isn't funny.)

The Future of Libraries is a pain in the ... (rated PG)

In libraries in the future, there are computer screens mounted on stands about 2 feet high. On the side of each monitor (or "vid") is an attached wand or stylus about six inches long.

When I grab the wand and wave it at the vid, a "librarian" (a pale, thin dudette of about 18), approaches:

"Hey, hey, hey, grandpa. What do you think you're doing?"

"I'm just searching the catalog."

"Searching the catalog. Yeah, right. And President Britney is my girlfriend. Bend over, and let's just get this probe up your ass."

"Up my ass? Why? What happened to the mouse?"

"Mouse? Man, that's old skool. Nope, all we have is the Gerbil. Now bend over, pops and let's get this over with."

The Gerbil is inserted, but I don't complain. (Hell, I graduated from library school.)

"Watch the screen. Images will flash by. Temperature-based search tools deliver the highest accuracy. Social norms, paranoia, embarrassment; all these things kept people from telling the librarian what they truly wanted. Libraries suffered for years trying to design the perfect interface for searching. And then we found this. When you see what you want, tiny fluctuations in rectal temperature indicate we've found your requested item without the embarrassment you might feel from approaching the desk and asking some stranger for help."

"This Gerbil up my ass avoids embarrassment?"

"Look around. Everyone does it."

It was then that I noticed that everyone was doing it.

"Is this a Microsoft product?"

"Sirsi."

Bored Librarian Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUAvi3jta8o
Discard Dominoes.
(no books were harmed in the making of this video)

Kindling

Amazon Kindle - Will Your Library Buy it for Patrons?

You know in a month some library will publish how their Kindle program is a great success, and all you other libraries suck because you don't have one. So the libraries that purchase and loan to patrons will do what with their privacy policies? Libraries delete patron borrowing records when books are returned and borrowing records are private and often protected by State statutes. And the Kindle libraries will turn those privacy policies over to Amazon. Why don't you just burn down your libraries right now because "freedom to read" and "access to all" mean nothing. If the federal government wanted this kind of access to patron reading habits, we would fight all the way to the Supreme Court, but if a public company wants the same access, we say, "wow. that's really convenient." We need to draw the line somewhere: if you buy this for your library, you suck.

I think something big is going to happen with this....

You know me, I'm all about the people. I just got some weird vibe that all the social networking sites are going to be sued for all the unpaid labor. Our labor. Or maybe not. But you might want to read these (again) anyway:
tagged 'slavery'

The Real Library Wow Factor.

The Wow Factor.

According to Designing Better Libraries, we need to find our Wow Factor.

One characteristic of delivering good user experiences is that it typically results in return business. Whatever that experience is, it is something the user wants to experience again. The idea of the Wow Factor is another way of describing a good user experience.

But libraries already have a Wow Factor: -- Read More

Instant 2-point-Opinion Generator

Mash-up any of the following terms for your own personal, unique statement about the impact of social networking and 2.0 technologies on the future of the Internet. It's fun and educational, too!

Mix-n-Match.

  • transversable
  • interactive
  • persistent
  • empowering
  • relevant
  • synthesized
  • "it"
  • la chose qui fait le chien rire
  • pro-dividual
  • splunge
  • synergistic
  • user-tastic
  • mashed (or smashed)
  • impactivating
  • metalogue

Let's test it to see how it works: "The impact of social networking on the future of the Internet is both pro-dividual and synergistic. Persistent transversable metalogues have smashed traditional communication and given birth to 'it' by impactivating and empowering."

Isn't that fun!

Use this handy tool for your next presentation. Need to nail that next job interview? Memorize three or four of these buzzwords. Hell, write 'em on your wrist in permanent marker. Soon you will be the "go to" gal when news editors need a trendy library spokesperson. Alternate black marker and correction fluid on your fingernails and then cover the white with hot pink highlighter. Spike up your hair and get that eyebrow pierced and you'll be on your way to Hollywood! -- Read More

Library 2.0 owes it all to a stripper.

Ahem, Burlesque Queen.

We here at the effing labs have thought long and hard about Library 2.0 and realized that everything about it can be explained by watching the movie Gypsy, starring Natalie Wood. We've been evaluating the components of Library 2.0 and realized that everything we once thought was new, can now be traced back to a film made in 1962 and even to the Broadway show from 1959 if you want to get picky.

So to redefine Library 2.0 as it is now understood, we'd like to introduce Library Rose Lee™.

We've heard librarians complain about change. But Library Rose Lee is based on the second oldest profession, so it isn't really about change, it's about giving the customer what he wants, about putting it out there and bringing to him, or her, one glove at a time.

Library Rose Lee is for the customers. You can't be afraid to let it all out if you want to get paid.
Library Rose Lee is constantly changing, in front of everyone, taking it off, taking it all off .
Library Rose Lee is about technology and having a gimmick. As Electra (the stripper with the lights) says about her use of technology: -- Read More

What's in your nerd bag?

I have a "nerd bag." It's what I take with me when a friend calls for computer help. I like my nerd bag: it's like a heavy duty travel notebook case, but without the notebook pc.
In it's place are these:

  • 60 gig usb drive loaded with crap
  • external dvd/cd burner
  • anti-static wristband
  • RAM (why do I have so much RAM?)
  • assorted cables
  • PC screwdriver tool kit
  • usb thumb drive
  • holy water (sorry, that belongs in my "vampire apocalypse" bag, but it has been known to cure the Windows BSoD - you just empty it onto the MB and buy a new PC; but mostly it's good for slaying the undead and other vile creatures)

All I need is a can of compressed air, and I'd be ready for any pc emergency. Except then my nerd status would be certified; so in place of compressed air, I'll carry a flask of Jim Beam. I'll just get one out of my "date with Lindsay Lohan" bag. Hey, there's holy water in there, too!

Knowledge by Consensus: A historical perspective

[note: this is sort of a continuation of this: What's Right or Wrong with Wikipedia?]

Last night I time-travelled back to see a version of Wikipedia from long ago. And here is what I found listed under "The World."

Wikipedia in the year 1200

The World

This page is currently protected from editing until disputes have been resolved.

orbis terrarum est campester
orbis terrarum est rotundus
il mondiale Ÿ piatto
il mondiale Ÿ rotondo
The World, she is round.
The World is Flat.

...This is what you get when anyone can decide what everyone else should know...I hope you people back in the future learned your lesson.

The Extinction of Libraries

First of all, this extinction timeline must be a gag because Elvis is alive and well and enjoying a jelly donut and the good company of a Branson, MO Cracker Barrel waitress as I type, so right off, they can't even get that straight.
(You all say it now, "I love me the company of a good woman and a good jelly donut." Keep the King alive.)

And all these stupid things get killed off for the benefit of people living at the top of the curve. For example, "Getting Lost" will get lost in 2014? This assumes that people know the difference between right and left; and as scientists observing the public daily, we know this will never happen. When assisting the public, "No, your other left" has become one of our most-used slogans (along with "that doesn't belong in your mouth" and "if you don't put your pants on, I'm calling the police.")

And you know they're really screwing around because they add "lists of predictions" and "futurists" expiring in 2050.

But getting back to the extinction of libraries which the chart has at 2019; we know that libraries are an expression of a need and librarians are the professional representation of that expression. As long as the need exists, we exist. The form of the job may change, but the nature of the work and the work itself should still exist.

Some might say that helping people to find books and answers is a lost cause. People don't want answers that require them to think, they want answers fast. And that might be true. People might decide that they don't need us. Who knows, it's possible that we could all end up as researchers for the military if that's the only place that has any money.

But Google promises better results based on ad revenue divided by usefulness. And those aren't always the best results (so far). As librarians, we offer better results based on usefulness divided by public or grant funding. But it's possible that in the future, we might all be working for private companies. Truly, librarians are damn smart generalists and can fit into any organization that has the need.

Sometimes I believe the quote from I, Robot (the Will Smith movie): "I don't know, maybe you would have simply banned the Internet to keep the libraries open." And I worry about the future.

There are lots of magic tricks that still haven't happened yet. For example, you know that soon Google will provide proximity search results, whereby they use your IP to filter and get local information to appear at the top. If I search for "toyota," I should get the nearest Toyota dealer first. And in place of the worthless "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, they'll put a "there's no place like home" button which will produce that proximity search. And they can afford to buy that phrase from MGM or whoever owns it.

So there are a lot of things to worry about. Number one is how the public sees us. And they should always see us sitting above them, pointing and laughing at their mistakes. That's my opinion, anyway.

Oh, and for the record, they list Lindsay Lohan as becoming extinct in 2007 which I scooped them on in my hilariously unfunny parody post back in August. So future that, Ross.

Never Trust Anyone Under 30

Here's more stuff I think about. Someone named Sarah Long wrote this:

As a librarian, I worry about the future of libraries. I know that people
born after 1980 are very different from those of us who were born earlier. These
less-than-30-year-olds were born digital. All their lives they've had computers
and digital toys of various descriptions. There is some evidence that they
actually think and process information differently as a result.

Libraries are busy now, but will they be busy in 10 or 20 years when the "digital kids" will be running things? I worry that libraries will not change enough or change fast enough to keep the next generation engaged as users, and let's face it, willing
to pay the taxes to keep libraries vibrant and vital.

She's going to interview some people and post podcasts from the sessions.

But here's what I'm thinking: Never Trust Anyone Under 30 (except you, monster).
I see librarians in the future divided into several factions. There will be the "digital kids" who wear their "question authority" tee-shirts, but buy every new thing they're told to get; there will be the librarians who sold out and work in the Coca-Cola Branch of their library; and there will be "us." We will be the ones who remember the texts before digitalization and who guard the past for the future. When the Great Digital Conversion (GDC) happens in 2021 and all paper documents are converted to digital, nobody will ever know what the originals looked like.

Reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer will look like this:

Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of Behr whitewash and a long-handled
brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy
settled down upon his spirit which reminded him to take his Cymbalta.

At first, the whitewash from sponsored by Sherwin-Williams, but Behr won the last bid, so they got the insert. Possession of the previous version with the Sherwin-Williams text is a class two misdemeanor.

So future librarians will be modern hippies, pirates, revolutionaries-- whatever you want to call us. And this will be our lives:

we live by night, scanning for clean terminals. we jack into slow servers, the forgotten servers, too slow for video. and that's where we meet. there's me: bartleby, and the brontes: katherine and phil. and there's ralph e. on the west side and ishmael (she's a she) up north. we run the lines for survivors: unaltered texts from personal hard drives, archived from before the project gutenberg deletion, when all the original files were trashed. and we protect it all. we have novels, text books, a dos version of frogger; the original nu aux oranges by matisse; adless search results in html from hotbot; whatever we can find that's original and sponsor free.

Join us. We have a hell of a bowling team.

[sorry, I didn't know who Sarah Long is when I wrote this...]

How Does Online Gaming Affect Social Interactions?

Here's something from Jyvaskyla (your site can't handle umlauts), Finland, the heart of the online gaming community. You, know, because of all the vikings and trolls and werewolves (hell, I know nothing about Finland, except that Conan O'Brien is the President).

Online multiplayer games enable the formation of lasting relationships
Online multiplayer games typically encourage interaction between players: some go even as far as demanding it. Collaboration with other players may be a prerequisite for making progress in a game, or a game may be based on competition between players.

Yeah. Social interaction is a requirement of the action--- you can move though lesser gameplay as a loner, but to experience the full depth of the environment, you need to team up.

I remember playing the MQMPAG (multi-quarter multi-player arcade game, or "mac-kyoo-empag"; see, anyone can make up this crap) Gauntlet, and I would jump into a game with three complete strangers and play until my quarters ran out and then someone else would take my place. And not once did I ever form a bond or expand my social network with anyone.
Go to any pool hall or bar with arcade games or pool tables and see how many people play a game with a stranger just to test his skills. No bond is formed, but maybe a beer is won.

So now, the social interaction is written into the online game. The designer, that nerd in his mother's basement, wrote in the interaction so that someone would play with him. Yeah, you heard me, nerd.

No, my needs for a social network are fulfilled by The Grassy Knoll Knitters. Me and the girls sit around and sip our cups of Darjeeling (with a splash of Boodles for inspiration) and knit beanies for the emo and sk8ter grrls in the hood. Oh, until Shirley gets up on her high-and-hard and goes on to claim that a third man was behind that fence in Dealey Plaza, a 7-foot albino wearing a Clara Bow wig, and Laverne just can't take it and jams that knitting needle into Shirley's right butt-cheek. Oh, those are heady times. Heady times, indeed.

is the virtual you better than the real you?

I don't know if you've noticed, but in this journal I'm a stud. My masculine form is nothing short of breathtaking. And when I'm in the mood, my chick side is pretty hot, too.
In Second Life, my legs and arms are muscular, turgid coiled springs and my BMI is nearly 24. My virtual clothes fit like pixels on sprites (if that's accurate, dunno).

My wiki entries and bookmarks list sites I wish I had the time to visit. My Facebook and Flickr photos reveal only my best side (and not the disfiguring scar from that botched surgery when I wanted to look like Carol Channing; such a fool I was. Garbo! That's who I should look like). And now I can record myself as more cultural and intellectual on Google by listing my google books.

In the Chicago Tribune, Mary Schmich wonders, "I might not remember a word of those plays by Aristophanes - hmm, did I actually even read them?"

Are we being truthful about our virtual selves? I don't mean being anonymous or creating fake identities. I mean when you finally post under your own name, are you listing your past and present honestly? Are you truthful with Google? Because it knows if you lie.

I wonder about our virtual selves. Will it be like that Twilight Zone where the guy calls home and his duplicate answers the phone? When virtual society finally crosses over into The Matrix-like complexity, you might find that your virtual self, the one created from your blog, Facebook, wiki and Google book identities is already there, with her own friends and credit score and life. And she might not be too happy if you try to interfere.

How Evil is Google?

"Just Google Mapquest." [actually heard in the library]

This one of the scariest statements I've ever heard. That someone would voluntarily invoke the use of an intermediary to access something that's available directly. It's like the people you see, three feet apart, talking to each other on the cell phone. Why? Because cell phones are such a part of our lives, we think "cell phone" when we think "talk." And just like that, we think "Google" when we think "find it." Even when typing mapquest.com would get you there faster. (That Google has it's own map product isn't even part of this.)

There's a scary cover on the September 1-7, 2007 The Economist. It shows a Google search
box with search options such as "privacy," "antitrust," and "copyright." Since forever, I've always wondered how they seemingly violated copyright by using their "cache" to store newspaper articles which were no longer available from the original publisher. Through the cached copies, I could always access an article that I would otherwise need a subscription to get from the paper's web site.

But hey, I'm no copyright expert.

There's no denying that Google is an enormous, useful tool for locating and now, organizing and sharing information. And I don't have the time to list all the things they do and are planning to do to increase those resources. I'm the effing librarian, not the informing librarian.

Google controls information. Information influences decisions. Decisions guide the world.

People think good things when they think Google. And Google displays ads when people search. So the ads can and probably do, influence what people think. Billions of people. People that allow Google to build larger and more comprehensive databases of how to market more effective advertising to them. People, who, in turn, continue to give Google more data about themselves.

It's just amazing that when the government tries to amass a database as huge as Google's, the people rebell.

This is one of those "we can" moments that isn't being tempered by the "but should we" question.

Ultimately, you need to ask, "can I trust Google?"

And I don't trust anyone with that much power.

Steal that book!

Librarians have known for years how easy it is to steal library books: . When we spot those rare early printings of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets or Interview with the Vampire, we know exactly why the discard command in the circulation software is there.

And then it's off to my eBay storefront: stolenfromthelibrarybooksandvideos.
(How they continue to let me do business with a name like that, I don't know. But if I'm ever caught, it's the perfect defense: "Hey, it's the name of my business. They took my registration fee and everything!") Drop by and pick up Criterion dvds like Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie for $5.99 or that Roy Lichtenstein coffee table book for $7.99; such-a-deal!

As for most library thieves, the punishment if caught would be light. No judge would consider harsh punishment in the name of a library. Libraries are an institution for the public good; steal from one and you might receive six months of community service. On the other hand, steal from a store like Best Buy and they might lock you up for five years of making the beast with two hairy backs and compulsory tea(bag) parties.

The myth of the librarian inquistitor is just that, a myth. Jerry Seinfeld might be pursued by an inhuman library detective, but a golem formed from the pulp of masticated catalog cards, combined with spittle and Diet Coke and brought to life, to life, by incantations both arcane and unholy is just a fabrication recited to small children in the black of night to eat away their souls.

So steal that book! Hell, the library wants you to. Libraries haven't received this much positive publicity in years: who'da thunk that libraries have anything that anybody would want to steal?

what's the overdue fine for that dvd on Mars?

So NASA is sending a specially made DVD to Mars that has the message on it: "Attention Astronauts: Take This with You." It's a DVD produced by The Planetary Society that includes a message from Carl Sagan, texts about Mars, artworks and radio broadcasts.

Is there any due date on that? If it's a high-demand item, we usually limit the check out time to 7 or 14 days. But NASA is only sending one copy... doesn't this go against the nature of space exploration? "To seek out new life and new civilizations." When you send one dvd into space, doesn't that mean you think only one alien will find it? And that it won't be cool enough that the alien will tell his friends so that they'll want one, too?

Have we given up on the idea that there's intelligent life out there?
And what's up with this picture?

Why do you want to give them these ideas? Maybe up till now they've been afraid to attack us, but now you're showing them that all it takes is a hammer to split our heads open? What is wrong with The Planetary Society? Why are they trying to pick a fight with Mars? And there's another picture of "Buster" Crabbe from Mars Attacks the World: Stop giving them ideas!

And put a security strip on that dvd with a sticker that says, "For Reference Use Only. Not to be taken away from this planet."

my craptastic life

When you get to be as old as I am, old enough to remember having a crush on Bonnie Franklin (really? no way, me too), you wonder if it's time to start having regrets.

Do you regret running home to do your homework when Jennifer Morton called you over to hang out at the swing set where she was smoking with all her cool friends? Really? You shouldn't. Because I was there and we were totally gonna trash you. Jenny had a permanent marker and we were going to hold you down and write crap all over you. Man, you're lucky you went home. Nerd.

So I regret not blogging all those years ago when everyone else started. I wish I'd listed all my hopes and dreams and published them for the world to see. To spill my heart out and have you love me. To look at my life and at the keyboard and again at my life and at my shoes and at my lunch and finally to type, "I just love the sandwiches from Junio's; they always melt the cheese just right." Then to click "publish" and settle back, satisfied, knowing that I'd accurately expressed my thoughts at that exact moment in my life.

But I never did that. Thank God. I'm blogging now. When I've been working for a while and I have crap I don't want to forget.

So if you're going to blog. Screw the posts about the sandwich. Enjoy the sandwich, sure. I mean, damn it was a good sandwich, but blog about something else. And don't worry, I'm not talking to you; I'm talking to me. You know, because I'm old and I forget stuff. And tomorrow I might start blogging about the waffles at Denny's. Or worse, finish that love letter to Bonnie Franklin:

Dear Ms. Romano, (he! he!)
Bonnie, you are so smart and beautiful.

Ok, I'm a (_E=mc2_)

I have a love/hate relationship with language. On the one hand, it is a cumbersome, unweildy tool which often makes makes me feel clumsy, and on the other, it's a precise instrument capable of expressing the nimblest thoughts.

People are not like ants that spit up a molecule of a carbon+something that tells other ants that there's a hunk of a cherry Pop Tart on the kitchen counter. And we're not like dogs who smell each other's butts to learn that one lives in a ranch-style house with a mocha-colored leather sofa and a pool.

We're people. And we like to talk. And although using smell to communicate is pretty damn cool (unless you're commmunicating your love for Mexican food), no other creatures have constructed language as complex (and if they have, they must be hiding the thesauri up their tiny poop-chutes).

People talk and people write, and people bat their eyelids, fold their arms, and wave their hands either comically or seriously depending on the message they want to express.

And this leads me to why this might matter to a librarian: we can't help people if we can't understand what they want.

Our capacity to convey messages has been, dare I say, corrupted by language. We don't, as a species, all shake our asses to communicate the same message. We lost that ability long ago. Watching me shake my ass now might inspire you to want to make love. To view others shaking theirs, maybe not so much, but damn, it would make the reference interview hilarious.

And so, it is with some apprehension that one approaches the role of researcher, of information provider, of librarian.

I'm sure most of us find it difficult to make out what the patron wants. Some are clear about their needs, but not all. And if we don't understand each other, how can we help? This problem has been applied recently to the medical field. Patients who can't read or communicate with their health care providers are more likely to die from inadequate care.

Holy crap! It's a rare instance of miscommunication in the library that's caused a patron's death. But again, when it happens, it's hilarious.

It's hard enough to get a patron to tell me what she wants clearly and without the preamble: "it's been years since I've been in the library..." And it's nearly impossible to help the patron with the crappy phone.

I don't expect I'll enjoy when my whatchacallit beeps and I see the message: pls hlp m fnd bk wr n pec by leo tlsty. Although in that case, it's only the presentation that annoys; the message is perfectly clear.

It would be great if we could all understand each other. Not just at the reference desk, but everywhere.

Language, as it is, is man's creation. And at its purest form of blasphemy, it approaches the divine.

But I don't compare a librarian's work to God's. I don't think God could do our job: Sundays off, what a wimp.

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