What about Optimism?

So from the title of today’s post, you can probably tell that I’m getting a little frustrated by only hearing about doom and gloom all the time on every issue. It is easy to slip into pessimism about the state of the libraries, the state of the nation and the state of the world. But to me, that is way too much like giving up or giving in. Instead, let’s be optimistic–at least where libraries and librarians are concerned. There are a lot of great things that are happening out there and a lot of ways to turn a lot of glass half-empty scenarios into glass half-full scenarios. And no, I’m not saying to ignore reality, rather I’m saying let’s bend reality into what works for us.

Case 1: Jeff Jarvis’ amazing article Let’s Junk the Myths and Celebrate what We’ve Got.
I love this article. Jarvis could be describing how many librarians feel about the Internet and new technologies, couldn’t he? He completely underscores what I try to get across in this blog: yes there is junk on the Internet, but there is so much potential too.

Case 2: Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere
Everyone just has to get on board with the fact that blogs are not going away anytime soon. In fact, more are coming online every day. So libraries and librarians need to continue to get out in the blogosphere and engage others. It’s not enough to have a website and think that we have a web presence to the extent we need. Nor should marketing only occur through the library’s website–we need to be more than a website to our patrons in order to stay relevant.

Case 3: Library Quote #1 & Library Quote #2
There are two great photographs of pillars inside a library with library quotes on them. How cool an idea is that? The photographer, unfortunately, kept all rights reserved instead of using a Creative Commons License so I did not directly paste them in this blog. I encourage you to check them out though. But if you don’t want to click through, the quotes are as follows:
“A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library” Shelby foote
“I don’t believe that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, and that’s been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians” Gorilla librarian sketch-Monty Python

Always remember, never take yourself or your job too seriously. If we can still have fun, we can stay relevant and be optimistic about our place and task in the grand scheme of society.

As I always leave my students with a final thought for the day, I’ll leave you with one too that will help you keep your optimism. “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” ~Mark Twain

Comments welcome. Stay optimistic and curious and you will be able to find creative ways of doing the work of the library.

A Whole Lot of Fun

Okay, so I’m sorry there haven’t been more posts this week. But, in my defense, I’ve been “oriented” at New Faculty Orientation and now am going to be at an on-campus conference (Back to the Bay) for 2 days. So I’ve not been truly slacking, only out of the office. So for those in my library, I’ve not forgotten about the tech brown bags, just waiting for some schedules to come out before we set the dates and start playing with cool new tools! 

As I was getting up this morning, I thought about what would be a couple of good resources for this Thursday. And I thought, why not have some fun? So I give you two sources, Unshelved and a talk from the SirsiDynixInstitute. 

If you are not familiar with the web comic strip, Unshelved, get ready for a laugh. This is a comic strip that is set in a public library and if you’ve ever worked in a public library you can completely relate. This is just fun and their store is great. I want the shirt that says “Library Schooled.” They are also the people behind Pimp my Bookcart! How can you not like that? So if you are new to the Unshelved universe, read their primer first. Enjoy! Oh, and did I mention you can get the comic strip and news via RSS? Just a thought…

For the second resource today, I give you Stephen Abram’s talk, Twenty five technologies to Watch and How. This is one of the great events that is archived from the SirsiDynix Institute. They are free to watch and listen to. This talk is from January of this year, but is great and I finally got around to listening to it the other day. I listened to the mp3 file, so if someone watches the video, I’d love to hear how it turned out. There is another webinar coming up on September 24th, “Welcome to the profession: Where will you be in 25 years? Is that where you want to be?” which I am totally looking forward to. So pop on by the website, you might just find something useful. Like a webinar a lot, find it fun and useful? Comment to this post to share with everyone else.

Happy Thursday!

Reimagining the Library Visually

Okay, so I’m not good with coming up with post titles, but this is a seriously important post and a seriously fun post. Because, as Niels Bohr supposedly said, “there are some things so serious you have to laugh at them.” I think we have to be able to laugh at ourselves and go out on a limb as we reimagine what the library can become. So I have just two resources today to share that I think are just so fabulously cool and really useful too.

The Conversation Prism is without a doubt one of the coolest graphics I’ve seen. I love the fact that it is on Flickr, is freely available for use under the Creative Commons Attribute License and that people have already commented on it in Flickr. So what is The Conversation Prism? It is a color wheel that breaks up different online social networking and collaboration tools into groups. It is a handy way to see all the ways that we could be communicating, sharing and collaborating with each other online. So how many of these web 2.0 tools are we using in the library? What could we add that would benefit our users? How can we harness the living social network online to keep the library relevant and in the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to searching and using information? What studies have been done on using these different technologies? And, by the way, the graphic prints out fabulously well. You can see it on my office wall if you drop by. Let’s get the library into the center of this conversation–right where we belong!

Since this is about reimagining the library visually, I couldn’t help but put in a plug for Cooliris, Inc. formerly known as PicLens. I love this add-on to my web browser. It works in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari, but alas not for Google Chrome, yet. This add-on allows you to display images as a moving image wall, select an image and blow it up to full screen. It only works on certain sites (like Flickr, deviantART, Amazon, etc.), but when it is enabled-wow! Its interface is reminiscent of the iPhone. It is absolutely beautiful.

So other than it being beautiful, why do I mention Cooliris? Think of the library catalog applications! If your catalog had book covers that displayed along with the books’ records and the website was enabled for Cooliris, your patrons could have a moving wall of book covers that they could quickly scan visually. This would make going through search results very easy, especially if you are more of a visual person and remember book covers better than author names. Not only would it look beautiful, it would be a great browsing technique too, as we are all visual creatures and can form a search image very readily. I used this feature when searching Amazon and it was fantastic. What other ways could we use Cooliris? Is it feasible to use it in the catalog? Well, anything is feasible if we put our minds to it.

So I leave you with the following question: how would you use some of these tools to make your work easier or make the library more central to this new digital world? Don’t be too serious, playing and daydreaming contribute to the great epiphanies and ideas of the world just as much as more serious endeavors. So let’s all figure out together. I’m sure that together, through lots of collaboration, we can harness this cool technology and go from reimagining the library into actually changing the library for the better.