Arrived late yesterday…luckily my hotel is very close to a few restaurants..sampled my first authentic Austin breakfast burrito and watched the original Ugly Betty (Betty la Fea) before going to bed very early. I’m speaking at a panel workshop on the use of blogs and wikis as conference communications tools this afternoon. I’m really looking forward to it.
A little ATCQ reference…Tim Spalding has just begun talking about some of the social information content within Library Thing…They even make room for user-submitted covers…Tim Spalding’s Author Gallery. All publicly available or permission granted. Spalding views Library Thing as a wikipedia like catalog—all user generated content can be changed by users — and thinks within five years we’ll see an open source catalog alternative to OCLC.
Godmar and Annette have been talking about scalabilty and modularity…Nicole mentioned a book called Design Rules: The Power of Modularity by Brown and Clark..I just used PC’s test edition to have the book held at my library….Lunch time!
IMLS has awarded Annette and Godmar a National Leadership Grant to support the development of LibX over the next two years….They will be making an Edition builder interface so that libraries can build their own editions. Check this…Virginia Tech is still only using IE. Annette & Godmar plan to build a plug-in for IE..They will also be looking at usability with this grant…
Godmar is discussing the functionality of the LibX plugin and OpenURL technology…applause when he dragged the title of an article from a bibiliography on a pdf document to Google Scholar and the window opened up to the new source. Discussing “cues” now…
I’m at our NEASIST program today…SOLD OUT!! Annette Bailey is up now talking about LibX. LibX actually came about when she was interviewing for jobs last year. Bailey wanted to have something cool and useful to wow prospective employers. Annette and Godmar’s initial conversations included the LibX tool’s potential as a “virtual librarian.” She did this for an INTERVIEW…Follow today’s discussion here or on NEASIST’s event blog.
Library Camp East is underway…Lichen is keeping us in the know on her very prettyful blog. I wish I could hear Casey Bisson’s OPAC discussion. He’s my Innovative hero…I know, it’s too early in the week for puns. My consortium upgraded to III’s WebOpac version over the summer and I am on a task force that will recommend improvements to the interface to enhance its function. The OPAC is the public face to the library, not an earth-shattering statement, but sometimes its importance gets passed over in favor of discussions about federated search and hot databases. I’m the lone nondeveloper on the force. I have html and various scripting experience, but it’s not like I play with java/perl on a daily basis. I hope my role will be to keep the OPAC user-centric.
It feels very silly firing off an “I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaack” post, since I’ve been “gone” for a long time and even I managed to forget about the blog I started in earnest last March. But what’s a blog/journal for if you can’t post a mea culpa every now and again? I think I’ll make this my pre-mea culpa. Blog technology is sooo forgiving. I’m writing while on a dinner break and I’ll save you my what-I-did-last-spring/summer rant, except to say I’ve learned to fence and this summer I rediscovered my love for pre-dawn rowing. It is week three into the fall semester, and it’s starting to slow down just a tad. The meetings however, are still coming fast and furiously…that is one thing they DON’T tell you about in L-school. You learn very quickly how much you should/can take on. As they say, what doesn’t kill you…. (more…)
I attended so many stimulating sessions and can say that after a second year of sitting in on one of Karen Fisher’s presentations, I realized that attending an ASIST conference means I can get to hear about her most recent research. This year I attended the “Information Grounds” session. Like many other people there, and like those of you following the conference virtually either through the blog or wiki, we have all been a part of an information ground. Fisher defined an information grounds as a “temporary environment created when people come together for a singular purpose [namely to engage in informal and formal info sharing]“. Fisher identified churches as the most popular settings for information grounds for people in the lower income bracket and the workplace for those in higher income brackets. Think, where else do you spend most of your time? There were several panelists and the results of the studies were reported from research that included baby story-time hours in a large public library system in Canada, a Polish community in Seattle, Hispanic farm workers and college students.
Free webcast on Thursday, November 10th (3-4pm) from the Blended Librarian folks…http://home.learningtimes.net/library. I’ll be tuning in for this.
Before I left for ASIST on that snowy Saturday, I arranged with the Academic Media Services dept to have my workshop digitally recorded for podcasting. Guess what the response was to my request: “How did you hear about podcasting…? (w/o any judgemental inflection)” If that’s the type of response I can continue to expect, I’ll take it…
Virtual reference for videos
and wading through government statistics
(Only 2 out of the 3 scheduled speakers were present…) Listening to contributed paper presentations is an excellent way to get a glimpse at innovations coming down the pike..Ron Brown, doctoral candidate from UNC-Chapel Hill described the GovStat Statistical Information Glossary (SIG) research project. The SIG project is a component of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded GovStat research effort out of the HCI labs at UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Maryland. The project identifies users’ lack of statistical knowledge as a significant barrier finding and evaluating statistical information on the web. The goal of the SIG project is to help users become more familiar with statistical terms WITHOUT “pulling [them] away from their primary information task” ( a la the parent project’s motto: finding what they need and understanding what they find) . The study looked at the effectiveness of offering definitions/explanations of frequently used statistical terms in a variety of formats (text only, animation, and animation and text) to accomodate different learning styles. It also examined the impact (perceived and real) of three distinct levels of interactivity had on user learning rate and satisfaction.
VR for Videos
The video-based virtual reference IS a novel concept. Most of us (librarians and info specialists) are adept at guiding users to those elusive text-based objects (digital and print). With digitally born objects being made available on the web by the minute, it is only a matter of time before we will be asked to help users locate multimedia bits and clips stored in corporate or institutional repositories, major search engines or open access resources like the Open Video Project. Xiagming Mu and Lili Luo’s paper details the system design, testing and pilot user study of the VideoHelp tool. The VideoHelp tool is java based and employs chat, escorted navigation (basically co-browsing), the shared access and control over video files stored in a database.
Chat w/escorted navigation should be familiar from most 24/7 VR products currently available. Here is a jpeg¹ of the VideoHelp screen shot. (A = videoplayer, B= shared browser and C= live chat window). One worrisome note: the tool only searches video files via timestamp. There was a cursory mention of metadata, but it was not clear [to me] that there was other descriptive information attached or mapped to the timestamps. Would this only work for known video file searching? Expanding searching functionality and options should be explored. Mu suggested that a more extensive usability study would be conducted in the future. Interesting and potentially practical tool. Would it play nice with the developing Open Video Toolkit? I wonder if a product like Jybe will eventually have this capability or if a slick Ajax version is in the works.
¹image from 2005 ASIST Proceedings cd. Full papers available in the ASIST 2005 conference proceedings.
Just coming up for a bit of air after 3 solid weeks of back-to-school activities. This is my first full “fall” semester and it has been a doozy. I haven’t done a tally, but I have to believe the early indicators that our new IM service is a big hit. We launched on the first day of classes, sent campus-wide emails the following week, and we’re now receiving several IMs a day. Lot of reserves queries, messages for full-text assistance, longish reference questions and research appointment requests. I have also personally witnessed my share of “hi library” pulse checking IMs.
The new kids are sooooooo plugged in. They come to the library in search of usb ports to download the papers stored on their Ipods. They are sprawled all over the library with their own laptops, wander through the reference collection, and more importantly, ask lots of questions about our services.
The staff here also seems to be keen on IM, which is great. I won’t say we’re fighting over them, but everyone is eager to answer them. We are also dealing with privacy issues (storage, chat cleansing, etc.) and different levels of comfort using IM. I created two FAQ’s–one for patrons and one for us. It’s a process, and all of the anecdotal feedback I am receiving will be very useful for my November talk to public librarians about launching an IM service.
I survived the first session of a two-part workshop on LC subject analysis and headings. I say this very light-heartedly. My first experience working in a library involved migrating a special collection at Harvard from Dewey to LC and automating that collection (using a small commercial ASP) really helped to inform my searching both as a user and a Reference Librarian. It’s turning out to be a very nice refresher (although I can live without knowing what all those OCLC fixed fields do) and the subject analysis part is really cool when I think about navigating through my consortium’s growing catalog. I hope to have some serious searching-within-subject-heading chops when this is over.
Today is a semi pay-it-forward day…It’s 3lOg Day The general plan is to introduce someone else to 5 new or off-the-beaten-path blogs. You tell someone, and so on, and so on… Here’s my kooky, mostly non-LIS related list:
- Birding Babylon – first heard about this New England soldier on the radio. Chronicles his hobby as a birder and observer of natural history while on tour of duty in Iraq. Read it.
- Megnut – Meg Hourihan is certainly not unkown (a co-creator of Blogger), but I found her blog while doing some research for a program. Megnut covers her side hobby as a foody and avid reader of epicurean lit. It’s nice to see someone else who appreciates this genre.
- Chocolate & Zucchini I am a long time lover of all things French, this is another foody blog authored by Clothilde, a software engineer living in Montmartre, one of my favorite parts of of Paris. C&Z also includes enticing photos of culinary delectables and high-end cookery (!)
- etc. You all know Amanda Etches-Johnson from her blogwithoutalibrary blog. I am still trying to teach myself to knit. In the meantime, I’m inspired by all of her crafty powers.
- Tales of whey, get it? Bovine Bugle blog. Stories of cows and a family running an organic dairy farm in Vermont. Doesn’t get more wholesome than this.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…