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...