Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Unshelved is a daily comic strip that takes a humorous look at daily life in a suburban library. Last week's story line touched on the library-vs.-internet debate and featured a series of exchanges between Dewey (the main character, a kind of hip teen librarian who's also a bit of a slacker) and Merv (a 12-year-old for whom the world revolves around video games and the internet, yet spends a lot of time at the library). In one strip, Merv was extolling all of the stuff that could be found online--podcasts, videos, news and how it was so much more interesting than the novel Dewey was reading. Dewey (who's reasonably tech-savvy himself) wasn't rising to the bait, even when Merv offered, "Want to see hamsters playing bagpipes?"--a poke at some of the zanier videos on YouTube.

You can check out Unshelved at, and sign up for a daily online installment of the comic strip.

This week's story is when the Mallville Library is a designated cooling center during a heatwave, only the library's A/C has quit...I think we've been there ourselves a time or two.

There are published collections of Unshelved, but SPL only owns 2 of them. (Consider for replacement lists, someone??)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The end of the trail...or the beginning

The end of the trail?

It's been a very interesting journey down the 27 Things path. I've accomplished some things that I'd never really given much thought about previously, like creating and maintaining a blog; explored online services that I'd heard about but never investigated, like Bloglines, LibraryThing, and Flickr and checked out others I'd never heard of (Zoho and Rollyo); and in general expanded my knowledge and confidence in using online tools. It's been a fascinating and educational trip.

A few random observations along the way:

I've got several online accounts for various services like Flickr, Zoho, etc., and I suspect I've forgotten the passwords to some of them. Thankfully there's always a "Forgot password?" link.

Some of the online services are interesting but I doubt I'd use much, at least now, like Flickr or Zoho, or are just a cute gadget (Wordle and the map from Big Huge Labs).

Some are useful but I would probably put aside for another time, like Rollyo or LibraryThing.

I need to add more content to my Bloglines account. Right now all I've got is Daily Dilbert and a couple of weather reports. I've located several fantasy & science fiction review sites I would like to include.

Twitter seems pretty ephemeral. For keeping in touch with others, I like Facebook better. I didn't even have a Facebook page until a week ago, and I now have added my three nieces in Pennsylvania as friends and am a fan of SPL.

Downloadable audiobooks: A definite yes!! I'm going to check out downloadable music from SPL as well.

YouTube: Fun to watch, but it has the potential to be a big time-waster. I don't own the necessary camera equipment to record and post videos, and probably wouldn't post them anyway.

Something I still need to figure out is how to upload digital photos from my home computer to this blog or to Facebook. Hey, I'd be content with just transferring them from the computer to a DVD to share with family. The wolf picture is actually from Microsoft clip art's files, as is the image of the knight's helmet on the Facebook badge.

Web 2.0 is all about collaboration and sharing. It's evident in sites like YouTube, Facebook, and You can experience it when online retailers solicit product reviews from customers, movie ratings on Internet Movie Database, book reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and subscriber comments on newspaper and media sites (though sometimes those comments get nasty--I got so fed up with people trashing California on that I now post occasionally in defense of the state). Web 2.0 is interactivity. It used to be that websites used to be "Here's our online presence" with little opportunity for two-way interaction. Now it's "Here's our online presence. Like it? Share it/blog it/tweet it/post it/bookmark it/Facebook it/MySpace it/ it/tell us what you think!"

As for the name "Arizonawolf"'s a mashup of sorts, a combination of a favorite state to visit and a favorite animal. I have a photo of a pair of Mexican gray wolves taken at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, but the wolves kind of blend into their surroundings and I can't yet figure out how to upload it to this blog (I like the clip art photo better anyway). Then I started thinking that wolves are actually collaborative creatures: all members of the pack cooperate in hunting and in raising their cubs. Indeed, the pack's success depends upon that collaboration.

So where to from here?

I intend to keep up this blog for library-related stuff, and I hope others maintain theirs as well. I'll throw out a few tweets from time to time about some new title or a bit of news from CMS (not in any official capacity, of course!). I'd like to see branches start their own blogs, and perhaps there might be some place on SPL@ where all staff and branch blogs can be brought together in one list.

The end of the trail? Nope. It's just the start.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mango Language Learning

Since I catalog all of the Spanish-language media I've managed to develop enough familiarity with the language that I can read short descriptive passages in Spanish and glean a reasonable idea as to what it means. I can also, with the help of the Spanish language subject heading thesaurus Bilindex, add subject and genre headings to a title--like "peliculas cinematograficas populares" for feature films. My knowledge of Spanish has really been getting a workout recently, as I've tackled some of the Spanish-language books that've been awaiting cataloging here in CMS. So, if I decided to take Mango Language Learning for Spanish, that would be kind of cheating because I already know some of the language.

Instead, I decided to try Japanese. Since my knowledge of Japanese is limited to "konnichiwa" for "hello," "arigato" for "thank you", and the Anglicized forms of anime production companies like Nintendo Kabushiki Kaisha and Shogakkan Purodakushon, I'm starting from scratch.

Mango takes you step-by-step through a basic conversation in a series of slides. Each slide builds upon the previous one, with lots of review ("do you remember how to say...?"), literal English translations, the words in printed Japanese, and cues about using Japanese in formal settings, all accompanied by narration. Mango offers a full 100-lesson course for Japanese, and the first lesson alone was 99 slides. The lessons aren't indexed that I could tell, so if you wanted to review a conversation on ordering a meal at a restaurant, it appears that you'd have to go through each lesson individually to find the one you want. Still, for someone interested in learning a new language and wanting to take it step-by-step, Mango seems a reasonable alternative to other commercial language-learning courses.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Thought I'd take a look at SPL's Facebook page. In order to view the page, one needs to be a member of Facebook, so I created a Facebook account for myself (see the widget in the right hand column). It's listed under my real name, so you can find me on Facebook that way instead of searching for "Arizonawolf".

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An extra 2 weeks

Having an extra two weeks to finish up 27 Things is a welcome reprieve...I spent the last few days of July racing to complete the last items on the list and trying to figure out how I'd fit in a couple of language lessons on Mango.

The extra time enables me to go back and revisit a few things I'd briefly touched on before, like actually listening to the podcasts I'd subscribed to and to add some twitterers to follow on my Twitter account.

Speaking of Twitter, is there a list of SPL twitterers, either individuals or branches?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day in the life...

Almost immediately a couple lines from the Beatles tune start going through my mind...I heard the news today, oh boy...

Several posters have reported some problems with Thingfo (#26) and opted for Librarian Day in the Life instead, so that's what I'm doing. I connected with Day in the Life through Chris Freeman's blog, The Civil Librarian, since he's a participant.

Remember those "Day in the Life" coffee-table-size books? They were a compilation of pictures taken by a whole army of photographers who snapped pictures about a place or event, all on one day. Check out A Day in the Life of California as an example. Day in the Life of a Librarian is similar, except that its done in diary format. There are dozens of contributors in many different types of libraries around the world, all writing about a typical day in their work lives. While the majority of the contributors are professionals or supervisors, there are also quite a few library assistants and library technicians also involved. The main page of Librarian Day in the Life lists contributors by name, job title, and a link to his or her blog. SPL has at least 3 participants, Civil Librarian, BiblioMass, and Annot8ations.

What's also interesting is reading about those who work in smaller library systems who perform both public services and technical services duties over the course of one day. It would, of course, be very easy to spend hours reading each particpant's entries, so I started with picking the entries by a library technician/MLIS graduate (like me) who works in an academic library somewhere in northern Minnesota.

The music in my head returns...

I heard the news today, oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire...

or is it

I heard the news today, oh boy
Four thousand books waiting to be shelved


Podcasts are another one of those elements of the online environment that I've never explored or paid much attention to. My brother downloads podcasts to his iPod to listen to when he travels, and he usually goes for the political stuff which I have no interest in.

So following the instructions in #21, I picked a couple of book review podcasts--Nancy Pearl's book reviews and the Dragon Page for fantasy & SF, and posted them to my Bloglines account to listen to at my desk.

I guess this means that I'll have to check my Bloglines account more often than every 3-4 weeks!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Setting up a Twitter account was pretty easy. I didn't add any extras to the account and since I don't send or receive text messages on my cell phone, I skipped that, too.

When I created the account, Twitter asked if I wanted to add my name as a follower of Britney Spears on Twitter....uh, no thanks.

SPL website

Racing to the end....

Right from the main homepage it's clear that the SPL website is a significant improvement over the old legacy site. The colors are attractive--gone is that bland beige-and-burgundy color scheme--and terms like "discover" invite users to do just that.

"Twilight": Entering just that term in the search box will bring up everything in which "Twilight" appears as the title or is in some way associated with a particular title. I did find the Meyers book among the first 20 or so titles that the search query returned. Interestingly, the large print edition appeared first.

Money matters: The economy and the job market are probably the number one concern for everyone right now. Where better to provide a link to financial info than right in the center of the home page?

Health information: A three-click process. Discover -- Knowledge Center -- Health & Wellness. How about more links to Medline or WebMD?

Jobs: A little harder to find; my first search tries ended up as dead ends. I did find it at Community -- Jobs, and discovered that there are a wealth of resources listed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Online video: YouTube & other sites

Our son likes to check out YouTube for clips on shortcuts and cheats for his video games. Usually what he finds are videos with lousy picture quality--like someone had used the video camera feature on a cell phone to take images from a TV set--and a muddled soundtrack. So that's been my experience with YouTube.

There are, of course, countless other sites that provide online video clips. The link below to "The American River: Kayak It" is from, and it appeared, along with the print article, earlier this month. Two of the Bee's reporters took a handheld video camera and filmed some of the sights when floating down the American River from Hazel Avenue to near CSUS. The link is to the entire article, and it includes an 8 1/2 minute video. Enjoy!

PS--When the link was successfully uploaded to this blog on the first try, it was another of those "Hey, it really worked!!" moments.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tagging, authority control, and lycanthropes

Tagging, as we've seen, is a way for users to create or add terms to describe something online, whether it's a photo file on Flickr, blog posts, bookmarks, newspaper stories, or almost anything.

Authority control--where there's a single term (usually from the Library of Congress) that brings together everything on a subject--seems archaic, uncollaborative, even arbitrary, yet it is essential for any large database to function. It's what makes every library catalog (like SPL) searchable.

Take the name Mark Twain. The authority record is "Twain, Mark, 1835-1910". Enter his real name, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, and it will refer you back to the original authority record. So will entering Twain's other pen names, Quintus Curtius Snodgrass, Sieur Louis de Conte, or Jean Francois Alden.

The authority record for Sacramento is Sacramento (Calif.), to differentiate it from Sacramento (N.M.), Sacramento (Pa.), Sacramento (Ky.), or any other Sacramento in the world.

Sometimes, though, authority records from LC are slow to change. The hottest thing in romance novels is the vampire/werewolf/shapeshifter/paranormal genre. There are authority headings for vampires and werewolves, but what if the characters are something other than that? I've come across books with wereleopards and werepanthers--so why no term for lycanthropes in general? "Weres", which change shape according to a lunar or solar cycle aren't the same as shapeshifters, which alter their forms at will. No heading for shapeshifters, either. Not only that, were-whatevers and shapeshifters have been around in folklore and fiction for a very long time. So I suggested the terms "lycanthropes", "lycanthropy", and "shapeshifters" for authorized headings to LC. As far as I know, the terms haven't been adopted yet...and here is a perfect example of how tagging can improve the library catalog.

Delicious 1, local internet service provider 0

Delicious (#13) is another step I'd skipped earlier, and now that we're coming down to the end of the 27 Things trail I went back and visited the site. I'm not a big user of bookmarks, so I didn't set up an account, but something on the homepage of the ISP we use at home pointed out one of the big advantages of Delicious: the ability to store all of your bookmarks in one location that can be accessed from any computer.

There's a link on our ISP's homepage promoting a new and improved homepage with expanded features...but with one caveat: all of the bookmarks would need to be updated and saved. What if you have 50 or 100 (or more) bookmarks? Do you really want to update each one individually and save them in a new file, just because you're upgrading to an improved homepage? Wouldn't it make more sense to store all those bookmarks on an independent site so that you don't have to go through all of that each time you change your homepage or internet browser? And that you could keep all of the bookmarks you use for work and the bookmarks for your home computer together?

Score: Delicious 1, local ISP 0.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Technorati--a detour

I'm jumping back to #14, Technorati, which I'd skipped. In following the discovery exercise about searching "Learning 2.0" in Technorati (the search works much better if you enclose the term in quotations) I happened to hit on a blog called "Heyjude," which seemed to relate to libraries and learning 2.0. Following that link took me to another intriguing blog, "Information Literacy Meets Library 2.0". I'm going to have to get back to Technorati and save reading the "Information Literacy" blog for later, but for anyone interested, here's the link:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No, this isn't about kayaking the sport (though I'm sure that the site gets a lot of false hits from individuals looking for information on the sport)., one of the finalists for the Web 2.0 awards, is a travel site.

With family on the East Coast, we fly cross-country once every year or so. Having had a bad experience with Expedia, we usually go directly to the airline's website to purchase tickets. Now we use is a travel information clearinghouse, not a ticket seller. You use the site to research what travel options are available for the trip you want to take, and then the site refers you to either the carrier's website or to Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, etc., to purchase tickets. A few months ago, I used to research flight information for a round trip from Sacramento to Philadelphia. I entered the dates for travel, preferred departure times, number of travelers, and so on, and did the rest. I was offered an extensive list of itineraries on 6 or 7 different airlines that fly from here to Philly, sorted by price. In 2008 our family flew American Airlines from Sacramento to Philadelphia, and then returned to Sacramento from Norfolk, VA, connecting both ways through Dallas. I had thought to take the same flight on American to Philly and back, but showed a redeye flight from Sacramento to Philadelphia via Houston on Continental for a significantly lower price (the other choice was an early morning flight on Delta, via Atlanta). Based on price and arrival time, Continental was the best choice, and provided a link directly to the airline to buy tickets directly from the carrier. is a winner! Check it out when you're planning your next trip.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Zoho is one of those sites that would really take quite a bit of time to explore properly, which I haven't been able to do since my internet connection at home has been out for the past week (bad DSL gateway). Others have commented on Zoho's features and functionality, so I won't try to duplicate what's already been written. I am intrigued by the idea of an online office productivity suite that is essentially free for the individual user--which would give Microsoft Office some serious competition.

One downside, though: if you aren't connected online, you have no access to Zoho. And if I'd had some documents on Zoho I needed to work on, not having internet access at home for the past week I'd have been out of luck.

The business major in me wondered, what is Zoho's business model? Here's this great set of free online productivity tools, but what's underwriting the cost of programming, maintaining servers, security, etc.? That's not cheap. Zoho does offer a business version for $50 per person per year, but that seems inadequate to cover the expenses. I dug a little further and found that Zoho is funded by the profits of AdventNet, a smallish privately-held software firm in Pleasanton. So far, OK, but AdventNet isn't a major player in the high-tech field, and what happens if the cost of running Zoho starts to exceed AdventNet's profits? Would it be sold off to one of the bigger tech firms, or would AdventNet start cutting back on software development or start charging license fees? Given today's economy, one never knows...

I started thinking abou this when I came across an article last week about Twitter, which still hadn't developed any kind of dependable revenue stream to fund its operations. (And of course now I don't remember where I saw the article!). So here's a related article, printed last year, from Wired:

If the link doesn't work, try entering "twitter business model wired" in Yahoo search.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Downloadable Audiobooks

Thought I'd spring ahead to #22 and download an audiobook to my MP3. I chose the new service we're testing, MyiLibrary, and picked Ruth Rendell's End in Tears. My wife and I listened to several chapters while we drove back to Sacramento after dropping our son off at Scout camp (near Cazadero, in Sonoma County). It's nice not having to mess with CDs or shoving audiobook cases under the car seat so that they don't warp in the heat. Have to figure out, though, why my MP3 (Sansa SanDisk) recorded all of the chapters in reverse order...

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I was really impressed with the library best practices wiki. It's a true treasurehouse of library how-tos, information, links, and resouces. Just the list of library schools in the US, Canada, and elsewhere--with links to every school and a comment on its ALA accreditation status--is reason enough to bookmark this site. Drexel's Sacramento MLIS program isn't yet listed, but it can be accessed through the Drexel Philadelphia link.

I confess that I was somewhat disappointed in the Sacramento wiki. The information seemed kind of scattershot and there were rather large gaps in content. Interestingly, some of the geographic information about the city itself was arranged by city council district--not the way I'd organize it, since district lines are redrawn following every census. I was gratified to see that under places to eat Poor Red's in El Dorado was at the top of the list. (Some hazy details are coming back to me now...a couple of visits in my post-college days...a dimly-lit bar with a row of seats along one side, murals on the wall, always crowded and waiting an hour outside in a winter freeze to get in...tasty ribs in a small dining room in the back...and those killer Golden Cadillacs...)

Library 2.0, 2009: San Jose Way

I was asked if the Ironwood Branch (Richmond PL, BC) was continuing to keep on the cutting edge of library innovation. Admittedly, I haven't checked into what's been going on with Ironwood; I do remember all of the publicity and enthusiasm that Ironwood generated in the library community when it opened more than 10 years ago.

San Jose PL has also created a customer-centered service philosophy that has been extremely successful. More than 15 million items circulate at SJPL annually, and at least one branch (Santa Teresa) has a circulation in excess of 1.2 million per year.

Check out the San Jose Way at:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Library 2.0, circa 1998: Ironwood Branch

Rick Anderson's essay got me to thinking about one of the first times I encountered a radical shift in the way libraries did business. It was an SPL training day in 1998, and one of the workshops was presented by one of the heads of the Richmond PL, in suburban Vancouver, BC, regarding their brand-new Ironwood Branch, which had become internationally famous overnight as a model of the "library of the future." The 12,000 square foot branch occupied an upper story in a neighborhood shopping center and had been designed to bring the library's collection to the patrons. Materials were displayed face out for immediate visibility, there was an entire room devoted to public-access computers (a novel concept in the late 1990's), and self-check machines handled over 90% of the astonishing 750,000 annual circulation. At the time, SPL's busiest branch circulated 1/2 of that.

A year or so later, I attended similar workshop at the 2000 PLA conference in Charlotte, NC. And I walked away from it, asking myself, "Why can't we do that??"

By this time I was enrolled in library school at San Jose State, and in my studies I encountered such radical thinkers as Charlie Robinson and Jean-Berry Molz of Baltimore County PL, whose "Show 'em what you've got" theory of library management was a revolutionary concept in its day, widely criticized yet successfully adapted by Brooklyn PL in the 1980's. I also picked up the book Why We Buy, by Paco Underhill, whose studies of customer behavior in retail environments really got me thinking about how to market the library's collection. No longer was it sufficient for patrons to come to the library and shuffle down endless rows of 84-inch shelving, past thousands of books placed spine out so that they all blurred together in a mind-numbing haze. We had to change. We had to bring the collection to the customer.

Now we're taking the library's resources into realms that Robinson & Molz probably never dreamed of: Library Facebook and MySpace pages, RSS feeds, lists of hot titles e-mailed to patrons, downloadable audio and video, place-it-yourself holds, and so on. For me, though, Library 2.0 started on that training day in October, 1998, and the "library of the future."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rollyo -- Part 2

Here's a Rollyo for searching Nintendo games. I've included a few general review sites (such as AllGame and CNet) and commercial sites (such as Nintendo and GamePro). You can look up both Wii and DS games.

Rollyo -- Part 2

Monday, June 1, 2009


I'm something of a weather and climate fan, and like to learn about the unusual stuff in weather history. Did you know that in October, 1921 an F-2 tornado sliced through midtown Sacramento? That it's gone below zero in Florida? Or the near-hurricane that hit Long Beach in 1939, and that Yuma, Arizona, is the tropical storm capital of the western US, having been struck several times, most recently in 1997?
So I pulled together a selection of commercial (,, etc.) and government research (Desert Research Institute, NOAA, etc.) sites to look up weather forecasts, climate trivia, severe storms, and even the present conditions where my brother works (the Air Products corporate headquarters in Trexlertown, PA).

I can easily envision Rollyo as a quick and easy search tool for online ready reference on just about any subject. I plan on revisiting Rollyo to create a search for senior housing options in Sacramento, as well as another to review Nintendo DS games (maybe then I can figure out what my next step is in "Hotel Dusk: Room 215" for the DS!)


Powered by Rollyo

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Getting started with LibraryThing is very easy--within 5 minutes I'd created an account and was adding books to my library. There's far more that can be done with LibraryThing than what I'd accomplish in my brief first visit. This is a great site to catalog, review, and share information about books. For the bibliophile it would be worth paying the fee for the expanded service, as a free account limits you to a maximum of 200 books.

It did take 4 tries to produce a display of the 8 titles I added. The cover images are small, so click on each cover image for additional details.

I was interested in seeing how it would handle an older, out-of-print title, so I started with my set of the Time Master fantasy trilogy by Louise Cooper--an excellent fantasy series, but regrettably out of print for over 20 years. LT handled the details well, though it missed on the Library of Congress classification on at least one of the titles in the series.

Would LT replace standard library cataloging? No. In fact it relies upon LC to provide much of its data, just as thousands of libraries in the US and around the world rely upon LC's cataloging data and standards. LT can't supply consistent subject and genre headings or provide details as to publication history, previous editions under differing titles, tables of contents, etc., which can be found in SPL's catalog. Still, LT is an excellent resource for organizing one's own home library.

A brief LibraryThing bookshelf

Friday, May 22, 2009

Arizona Wordle

A Wordle image of various places in Arizona our family has visited over the years.

As far as creating the image, Wordle was fairly easy--enter some text and the program will create the layout for you. However, while you can tinker with the colors and font (which will change the layout) you can't edit the words once the image has been created. You have to go back to the start and enter the text again.

Copying the image to the blog was also tricky and as you can see I ended up with the entire window, not just the image. Any suggestions on how to copy the picture so that the window frame doesn't appear?

Not sure what I'd use Wordle for, but it's a fun little free application. Anyone more interested in graphic or web design might find this more useful.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Not necessarily the latest gadget

After poking around on Flickr and breezing through mashups, I've paused for a few days on the 27 Things trail (lest anyone think old wolfie has wandered off into the woods somewhere). So for the next couple of posts I thought I'd offer a few observations on online stuff and technology in general.

My dad is one of the so-called "Greatest Generation"--grew up in the Depression, served in World War II, and started a family in the middle years of the Baby Boom. That's also the generation for which the digital world has come late into their lives, if at all. For my dad, who's a widower in his 80's, high tech is a CD player or the remote for the cable TV. He probably has a general idea of what the Internet is, but very little concept of what can be found online. When we were planning to fly to Pennsylvania to attend my neice's graduation from Kutztown University, I offered to buy airline tickets online--and he seemed surprised that it was possible to do that.

I've tried to introduce him to a few modern conveniences, such as a cordless phone with an answering machine and a simple cell phone for emergency use in the car, but he's never gotten the hang of how to use either one. I swear he still has an old 1960's black dial phone somewhere in the house. On the other hand, does he need computers and a lot of high-tech gadgets? No. He's perfectly content to do without, and that's just fine.

So I thought about technology in our family's life and quickly realized that we might be considered a bit behind the times ourselves.

We have home computers, of course (3, in fact), but only upgraded from a dialup connection to a basic broadband service a year ago. One of our computers is an IBM PC with Windows 3.1, a first-generation Intel 486 chip, and a hard drive that has only 1/3 of the capacity of our 12-year-old son's 512Mb MP3 player. But when we bought the IBM in the early 90's it was state-of-the-art.

We don't own a Blackberry or an iPhone and don't send text messages on our cell phones (we get charged for every message). Our son is angling for an iPhone...but that ain't gonna happen, kiddo.

I still check out audiobooks on cassette because my car--a trusty 17-year-old Corolla--only has a cassette player. On the other hand, our van has a multi-disk CD changer and a plug for an MP3.

I've never bought music online for my MP3.

We've never e-mailed digital pictures (hey, at least give us credit for at least downloading them to the computer!!). In fact, we often use a 35mm camera that takes great photos. Flickr, however, offered some really interesting possibilities for uploading and sharing photos. And (see the post below) our pictures are a whole lot more interesting than someone in the grocery store with the package of beef tongue!!

For a long time I've kind of felt that I didn't always need to have the latest-and-greatest electronic gadget, like skipping the 60Gb iPod in favor of a 4Gb Sansa SanDisk. However, in my somewhat short journey down the 27 Things trail, I've already discovered that there are a wealth of online possibilities out there, and that perhaps it's time to expand my horizons.

Maybe it's time to forget about books on cassette and download them to my MP3. Wonder if I can find a portable audio player that can be connected to an MP3 so I can take it in the car...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I've spent some time in the past couple of days exploring Flickr. There are all kinds of possibilities for searching, posting, tagging, and commenting photos that others have posted or which one can upload to the site. I really feel that I only scratched the surface of what Flickr offers.

In the fairly brief time I spent with Flickr, including finding the kayaking picture (below) and posting it here, I observed a few things:

1. It's better to search by tags than by full text. When I entered the terms "lake", "tahoe", and "kayaking", I retrieved over 1600 hits in a full-text search; when I used those terms as tags, Flickr retrieved a fraction of that number, which was a lot more manageable.

2. Sometimes I pulled up images that at first completely baffled me as to how they matched my search parameters. "Lake Tahoe kayaking" actually retrieved several photos of young women in a grocery store, including one shot of a woman at the meat counter holding up a package of beef tongue (I'm not kidding!!!) "Lake Tahoe kayaking"?? Huh?? How about "Weird stuff I found at the grocery store"? In exploring further, I discovered that these photos were part of a larger collection, all submitted by the same person, of a vacation to Lake Tahoe, which at one point included some time spent in a kayak. The entire set of pictures included "kayaking" as a tag, so consequently the beef tongue photo ended up as a search result.

3. There are a whole lot of mediocre vacation photos on Flickr.

4. Sometimes tags are misspelled. I found a couple dozen photos tagged as "Laketahoe".

5. The ability to search by a geographic location is a very useful feature. I looked up the tag "Kings Beach", a town on Tahoe's north shore where we've owned a timeshare for many years and spend a week there nearly every summer. This led to a whole assortment of photos taken a different times of the year, and some of them were remarkably beautiful.

I've never used or searched Flickr before, so this phase of 27 Things was a real discovery. I'll definitely come back to the site.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cool--it really worked!

I think that for most of us there comes a moment when we suddenly realize that something new we've attempted really achieves the hoped-for result: the "Cool--it really worked!" moment. We strike out in a new direction, often with only vague and sketchy instructions, going strictly on one's instincts, and hoping (though not necessarily expecting) that we'd accomplish what we set out to do, especially on the first try. And when things do pan out, we stare at the result as if trying to convince ourselves that it really did work.

That's what happened here.


Kind of like my navigating the winding back roads of eastern Berks County, Pennsylvania, last week, hoping to get from Hunsecker's Grove County Park to the Premise Made ice cream store on Highway 222, in the rain, without a GPS or a local map...sometimes you've just got to guess at where the road goes.

Kayaking on Tahoe

Lake Tahoe
Originally uploaded by Sean Munson
My first attempt at copying a photo from Flickr to my blog....

I picked this because it combines a favorite sport (kayaking) with a favorite vacation place (Lake Tahoe).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

On Bloglines...

Setting up a Bloglines account was remarkably easy. Once the account was established, Bloglines offered a selection of popular feeds from which I could choose. And the first one I picked was one at the top of the popularity list: Daily Dilbert.

Not wanting to overload myself with a lot of online news and information to sort through on a daily basis, I decided to limit my subscriptions to just a handful of message feeds. I quickly discovered that it was easiest to go through my Bloglines account and enter the URL of a site I wanted to subscribe to. When I went to a news site first (like and clicked on the RSS link, I'd get a response that I was subscribed to the RSS feed...but I'd always wonder how if I hadn't entered any e-mail or Bloglines account information.

As I was creating my Bloglines account, I started thinking about my existing electronic subscriptions that are already delivered to my SPL e-mail account. I'm a subscriber and occasional contributor to the Autocat online discussion list (a worldwide discussion list focusing on cataloging and technical services matters); I receive a daily newsletter from Shelf Awareness (books, publishing, marketing, and libraries); the library comic strip Unshelved; and monthly updates from a couple publishers of fantasy and science fiction. So the question arose: how is what I'm already receiving in my daily e-mail all that different from Bloglines?

The places I've been...

I saw this on several other SPL staffers' blogs, and thought it kind of cool. Rather like those sticker maps of the US and Canada that you sometimes see on the backs of RVs that tell what states you've been in.

Some of the states I haven't been in for many years. That strip of states from Wyoming to Ohio, for example, was from a couple of cross-country trips to visit relatives taken before I was 9 years old. I decided to include Texas, even though the only places I've been in that state have been the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston airports. With family members in Pennsylvania and Virginia whom we visit every year or two, we're back and forth between the East and West Coasts rather frequently with plane changes somewhere in between (but anywhere except Chicago O'Hare!!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Out of the office...

Lest anyone think I've just created this blog and then abandoned it...I'm heading out on a redeye flight to Philadelphia tonight. My niece is graduating from Kutztown University this weekend, so I'm staying with my brother in a little town outside of Allentown, PA for the next few days.

See you all next Wednesday!
First post...somehow always the most difficult. Large blank white space staring at me ("Write something!!")...Shouldn't be too hard, as I've written enough papers for my MLS.

One of the first discovery exercises in 27 Things is to reflect on which of the 7 1/2 steps would be the most challenging. Before creating this blog, I skimmed through several others which fellow SPL staff have created, and I noted that one person had said that "Play" would be the hardest step, and I'd have to agree. For me, it's a matter of finding time to play. Sometimes I look around the house and see things that need doing--the dishwasher needs to be emptied, the cats need food and water, getting after the kids to do homework or pick up toys, dirty clothes, etc. etc. You get the picture. Maybe I just need to set aside a little time for some personal R&R, even if it means a few laps in our backyard pool at midnight.

On to my next task: creating the layout for this blog.