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Summer Series

Interested in an Internship at Library of Congress This Summer?

Here's an opportunity for talented college-age students headed for the field of LIS:

This summer the Library of Congress once again is offering special 10-week paid internships to college students. For a stipend of $3,000, the 2011 class of Junior Fellows Summer Interns will work full-time from May 29 through Aug. 3, 2012, with Library specialists and curators to inventory, describe and explore collection holdings and to assist with digital-preservation outreach activities throughout the Library.

In addition to the stipend (paid in bi-weekly segments), interns will be eligible to take part in programs offered at the Library. Applications will be accepted online only at usajobs.gov , keyword: 308129000, from Friday, Jan. 27 through midnight, Monday, Feb. 27. For more details about the program and information on how to apply, visit www.loc.gov/hr/jrfellows/. Questions about the program may be sent to [email protected].

The Library of Congress is an equal-opportunity employer. Women, minorities and persons with disabilities who meet eligibility requirements are strongly encouraged to apply. [ed. note: not positive about transgendered individuals, see previous story on LISNews.]

Back to Basics in Columbus Ohio

Readers of all ages will dig out their red capes at the Whitehall branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library as they dive into adventure during this year's summer reading program, "Be a Hero -- Read."

From easy-to-master magic to teen gaming and turtles, children will find a litany of fun activities to help them get excited about reading.
Just look around the library -- Captain Read is everywhere.

Kris Hickey, the Whitehall branch children's manager, said this year's summer reading program is going back to its roots and focusing solely on reading. "We've just gone back to the literacy part of it," she said, "and this is a very literacy-based program."

No longer can participants earn credit for playing an online activity or attending one of the branch's many programs. What they will get credit for, though, is tackling a good book.

"I think as an organization, we decided literacy is really our main focus," said Hickey. "We look at getting everyone to read, then we work at keeping them focused and interested so they are ready for the next level when school starts."

More from Columbus Local News.

The Desk Setup: A Look At Librarian Computers

The Desk Setup

Like many technologists, I may have had some vague notion that librarians had something to contribute to discussions about information and metadata and standards and access, but my concept of what librarians did and what they knew probably had more to do with stereotypes and anecdote than on an understanding of reality. Which is a shame. Although in the last few years I think we’ve done a really good job of making clearer connections between libraries and technology, I don’t think anyone is surprised when librarians are omitted from discussions about and between prominent technologists, such as the one facilitated by the Setup. (Note: by “librarians” I mean anyone who works in, with, or for libraries. Hat tip to Eli Neiburger for saying what I’d been thinking, only less clearly, for some time before he said those words out loud.)

LISNews Summer Series Book

When the LISNews Summer Series started, it was stated that the essays would be collected in book form. After an interesting variety of technical problems, that has now happened.

The book is available in print form at cost here. While a downloadable version is also available via Lulu, it is priced with purpose. The digital version via Lulu sends a portion of the price back to Erie Looking Productions to put towards equipment repairs & replacement. The preference is to get out in the world the print version that is available at cost as we prefer print holdings.

The text has also been lodged with The Internet Archive and E-LIS.

BookMatch

An Essay of the LISNews Summer Series

Ok, I didn’t plan on writing about BookMatch for LISNews. It isn’t very philosophically inspiring or technically amazing. However, it is a patron pleaser and service that any public library can implement in one form or another and enhances participants “Library Experience.” So, the question I kept asking myself when considering what to write was, “should I present an interesting but quickly forgotten bit of library philosophy or should I explain and walk through a well loved service?” The latter is what I would prefer to read.

BookMatch is the Skokie Public Library bringing readers advisory online.

The Mechanics

BookMatch is put together by using SurveyMonkey, Wikispaces, and a Microsoft Word form. This process is in continuous flux as questions are rewritten, deleted, or added.

SurveyMonkey was used because of familiarity with the product and the ease of customization. More importantly SurveyMonkey provides the option of form logic, which is a pain to code… I hear. The BookMatch survey has nine paths depending on a patron’s answer to questions. For example, “Do you read romances?” The answer yes takes the patron to questions about romance and answering no skips that section. “Do you read fiction only or fiction and nonfiction or nonfiction only?” This question offers three different question paths. Form logic avoids patrons having to answer or even look at questions that do not apply to their reading tastes, essential if you do not want strictly nonfiction readers being faced with questions about Sword and Sorcery tastes.

Once the survey is received, it is transferred to a private wiki hosted by Wikispaces. A link to the survey and the date it was received is added to the Surveys Awaiting Response page. It is then reviewed by around twenty-five reader advisors with wildly divergent reading tastes. Suggested items are added to the discussion area of the wiki. Each suggestion entry has the title of the book, author, call number and a review/summary usually from a professional journal such as Booklist or the Library Journal.

Once the twenty to twenty-five titles have been suggested, the manager of that particular BookMatch adds them to a Microsoft Word form. The form is turned in to a PDF using an open source Word to PDF converter and emailed/mailed/left at a desk for the patron. The link on the wiki is then transferred to the completed area.

Training the reader services staff to work with the wiki and the Microsoft form took a little time. Interestingly enough, suggesting books, the most important and arguably most difficult aspect of working on a BookMatch, caused almost no issues. Suggesting titles has been universally agreed to be fun. An added benefit to using a wiki is that the entire RS staff is now more than proficient in using wikis. This will make implementing other projects that call for online collaboration through wikis easier to implement.

Without advertising, programs such BookMatch would wither on the vine. We used the traditional public library advertising methods. It was announced on the front page of the website and described in the quarterly update. We have placed Moo Cards at the reader services desk with a short description and the URL.

Value

Patrons of all ages love this service. It has been surprising to us how many teens and college age patrons have submitted surveys. Here are a few quotes excerpted from emails sent to Ricki Nordmeyer (the brains behind BookMatch).

“I LOVE my BookMatch list. I used to have a hard time finding books, and it is so helpful.”
“I LOVE LOVE LOVE the BookMatch service. I have found new authors that I probably wouldn't have found.”
“I am a huge fan of the service you provide through BookMatch. Finding a good read has been a challenge for me. I enjoy reading, yet couldn't find the right books for me. While the survey was rather thorough, it was simple to complete.”

An added benefit is that it has made the entire RS department better at their jobs. If a patron comes to the desk and tells me they like Jodi Picoult and Stephanie Meyer (two authors I have never read) I can use previous BookMatches to easily suggest other authors.

So BookMatch is beloved by patrons and makes our RS staff stronger at suggesting books, what is not to love about it?

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Using Splash Pages

An Essay of the LISNews Summer Series

The Library Experience, including events, is gaining in importance as content becomes ubiquitous. Word of mouth and posters in the library will only take us so far, especially for one time event/programs. A little over a year ago I decided to try something new and exciting to advertise programs online at the small Franklin Park Public Library, IL (my employer at the time).

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Libraries and Linux: The Strange Parallels of Stacks and Software

An Essay of the LISNews Summer Series

There are some obvious similarities between the quintessential Linux user and the classical image of the librarian, covering the gamut of good, bad and indifferent. Librarians foster the curiosity and intellectual growth of diverse patrons, connecting them with reliable sources of information and suggesting entertaining books, music and movies. The Linux community encourages users to examine, change, and take the operating system further -- regardless of whether "further" works out as modifying a kernel module or creating a new scalable vector graphic icon set for the desktop.

Linux users, when faced with a question that's been asked millions of times throughout the ages -- one with an easily discovered answer, if the soul asking had only taken a few seconds -- often respond with a resounding "RTFM" (read the f****** manual). Sometimes this response will be shaken up with a stray "Google is your friend." Librarians, by matter of course, prefer to teach a man to fish rather than feed him -- and sometimes patrons, quite capable of fishing when pointed towards the appropriate body of water, would really prefer to be fed their fish, with a couple side dishes, butter, lemon, dessert, and valet parking for good measure. That's when they tend to be greeted with the response, "Look it up." And yes, sometimes this response will be shaken up with a stray "Google is your friend."

By and large, the quintessential Linux user and classical librarian persona are stereotypes. Stereotypes generally have a grain of truth buried in there somewhere. I think what's most awe-inspiring about these two demographics -- similar, yet simultaneously so utterly different -- isn't the kindred philosophies or the occasionally pointed terms used to encourage others to seek answers on their own. It's the shocking way that skills learned in one setting (librarianship, fooling around with Linux in nearly any capacity) are so complementary and transferable.

In its elemental form: These settings are complementary because neither places high value on knowing the answer right from the start -- the value, the knowledge, the ability arises from understanding what question actually needs an answer, and then knowing how to track that answer down.

Think of troubleshooting an error as a reference interview. Think of a reference interview as troubleshooting an error. It works reasonably well both ways.

We've Built a Library -- Now Let's Open It

An Essay of the LISNews Summer Series

I'm a conflicted person, it would seem. I regularly use, and encourage the use of, open source software. In some settings -- public computing, thin client, and cloud environments -- there isn't, in my mind, any closed system that comes close to delivering what an open platform offers.

I believe heartily that open source code benefits both developers and end-users -- in perpetuity. Open source development efforts can (and do) die -- but the application, the code, the vital organs that sustained it during development live on. An abandoned open source software project is much like what the medical profession calls a beating heart cadaver. I learned this from Mary Roach's book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

The fact that I read books about corpses that have more of a life than I do isn't what makes me a conflicted soul. The fact that I read it on my second generation Kindle most certainly does.

Some Considerations When Proposing a Digital Project

An Essay of the LISNews Summer Series

At the Detroit Area Library Network (DALNET), we are often asked by member libraries to help them design digital projects. Everyone may have a different idea of what a digital project is: creating new content, organizing access to existing online content, digitizing existing collections, etc. So, in addtion to consulting with our members, over the years we have created several handouts about things to consider when you are thinking about creating a digital project. Since my last blog article was about the effects of the digital world on library systems I thought in this article I would talk about some of the planning elements that we have suggested to our libraries when they are creating digital content.

1. Scope of the project

I think it is important to start with defining the scope of the project. To define the scope of a project it may be useful to answer these types of questions:

• What is the purpose of the project; why are you creating this new project?

• What material should be included in the proposed digital project? Is the project duplicative of other existing digital material?

• Is the project finite in the scope of materials to be included or will it be an ongoing effort to digitize new materials?

• Who will have access to the project/information created? Will the project only be accessible to internal constituents or will the project be open to anyone online? Check out the Open Content Alliance.

2. Project Costs

Of course you have to think about financing before you get too far involved. Think about who will incur the costs for the project or how will the project costs be paid for? How will the project be maintained or sustained financially? Make sure to consider these costs that may be associated with creating and maintaining the digital project:

• Equipment
• Personnel
• Preservation materials
• Maintenance, hosting, and access of the project
• Legal and/or registration fees

3. Copyright

Libraries know all about copyright, right? Make sure creation of your project does not violate copyright. Consider:

• Who owns copyright of the materials to be included in the digital project?

• What steps may be necessary to acquire permissions for creating digital copies of materials to be included in the digital project?

• What costs may be associated with acquiring copyright permissions?

• Check out: the U.S. Copyright Office, Is It Protected By Copyright? slide rule, and the Section 108 spinner

4. Standards and systems to employ

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