Thursday, March 29, 2007

Public Library Geeks Take Web 2.0 to the Stacks interesting article, relevant today I think.

Beverly Hanly
Email 03.29.07 | 2:00 AM

When the IT director at North Carolina's Charlotte & Mecklenburg County public library began training staff in the latest web technologies, she lured reluctant participants with bribes -- a free MP3 player and the chance to win a laptop.

Six months later, the program they developed is the real prize. Learning 2.0, developed by public services technology director Helene Blowers, has become a surprise grassroots hit, available for free on the web and adopted by dozens of other libraries around the globe.

"The last thing we want is for people to come into our libraries and ask about Flickr or Second Life and be met with a blank look," said Christine MacKensie, director of the Yarra Plenty Regional Library in Melbourne, Australia, which just finished a four-month version of Learning 2.0. "And they certainly won't now."

Google and Microsoft are racing into libraries to digitize the world's books, but the success of Learning 2.0 shows that the human problem of retraining workers is often being tackled from the ground up.

Recognizing that librarians need to know how to participate in the new media mix if libraries are to remain relevant, Blowers challenged her 550 staffers to become more web savvy. Using free web tools, she designed the program and gave staff members three months to do 23 things.

They created blogs and podcasts, tried out Flickr, set up RSS feeds, learned about wikis, uploaded video to YouTube, played with image generators and Rollyo, and explored Technorati, tagging and folksonomies.

"Librarian avatars were popping up all over the blogs," said Blowers.

Although her original goals for Learning 2.0 were touchy-feely "E's" -- exposing staff to new tools, encouraging play, empowering individuals, expanding the knowledge toolbox, eliminating fear -- the effects were both practical and financial.

"We don't have to wait for some training company to come along and say, 'For $20,000 we'll show you how this stuff works,'" said Michael Stephens, who wrote Web 2.0 and Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software. "Helene put it on the web so anyone can use that program."

Libraries all over the world are doing just that -- moving the entire Learning 2.0 program to their own websites. The program has been duplicated by university and community library systems in Sweden, Australia, Canada and Denmark. In the United States, programs are underway in South Carolina, Florida, Maryland and California. Even the Combined Arms Research Library, a military repository, is trying it.

Now Blowers' program is spreading beyond libraries (even virtual ones, like the teen library in Second Life teen library in Second Life): A public relations firm wants to set up a Learning 2.0 program for its staff, and several universities and an elementary school want to use the system to educate teachers, she said.

Michael Casey, division director of technology services for the Gwinnett County Public Library in Georgia, calls this movement Library 2.0.

"For libraries, the service aspect makes it as akin to Business 2.0 as to Web 2.0," said Casey, who writes LibraryCrunch. "The 2.0 technology makes it possible to offer a lot without all the licensing and maintenance. It's all free, it's browser-based -- it's a technician's dream."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

February summary

As you can see I have done quite a bit of reading this month. I have also added some crafts I have been working on, not too many though since I am working on the much bigger project of finishing a wooden dining room set my mother got a Christmas. Needless to say it is a massive job. My quilt I mentioned in an earlier post has come home to me and looks great! I already have another one from my AmeriCorps days ready to send off. Anyway here is the last book from February.

Midnight For Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

It would be very hard to not draw the connections between the plot of this book and Harry Potter. However it was an ok book. Charlie Bone lives with some members of his family and discovers he has a special ability to hear what people are saying when he looks at a picture. He is then sent off to a special school for those endowed like him. A mysterious plot is soon uncovered and Charlie along with his two friends end up solving the problems and saving the day. There are several other books in this series, but I have not gotten to them yet and they are fairly low on my priority list.

Some Lois Lowery books...

The Giver

The Giver tells the tale of a seemingly ideal utopian society. In this society once a year the children have a birthday which is really a ceremony where they move up a level in the society. Jonas is eagerly awaiting this ceremony so he can find out that his future will hold. At the ceremony he is shocked to discover he has been named the Receiver of Memories. Once he begins his training with the previous Receiver he begins to notice things like the color red, which he has never seen before. The revelations of what people have given up for their peaceful society become more clear to Jonas and take him to the point he must do something about it ultimately resulting in his leaving the community.

Gathering Blue

This is the story of Kira, a young girl who has a deformity and becomes orphaned at a young age. Some members of this harsh community want her to be put out for the beasts, so the matter goes before the council. Kira's skill as a weaver is used to save her and he begins working for the council on a ceremonial robe. Kira leans many skills for her craft but is never able to find the color blue to complete the robe. As she lives and works for the council she begins to see their oppression and control over the few artists that they have living there. In the end Kira make the decision that she can make a difference and bring change to the society.


Messenger is the book which brings the other two together. Matt who helped Kira lives in a community where those turned out from other communities go to live. It is a friendly happy place where people help each other. Kira's father has become like a father to Matt and has taught him to be a more thoughtful person. The leader of this community is Jonas. When bad starts to take over in this community and forest begins to close in, members of the community begin to call for the borders to be closed claiming the cant handle more people. Matt sees the need to bring Kira home to her father and sets off on a journey to get her. He is dealing with his new found ability to heal but does not yet know what he is supposed to do with it. This book is an interesting conclusion to the set of three.

Some Eoin Colfer books...

Half-Moon Investigations

Half-Moon Investigations reminded me of the old black and white investigator movies. 12 year old Fletcher Moon aka Half-Moon has always wanted to be a detective and has finally earned his detectives badge, his price for investigating is usually chocolate. However his first real case come along when April pays him to find a missing lock of hair from a rock star. April is accusing the Sharky's, all of whom are known criminals. The investigation begins to go bad and soon Fletcher is being accused of burning down a playhouse. Fletcher is forced to go into hiding with the Sharky family and work with Red to try and clear both their names. Its is a funny and fast paced story that I would like to see more of.

Atremis Fowl The Lost Colony

The Lost Colony continues the adventures of Artemis fowl and Holly Short. Holly has been working as a private investigator since leaving the LEPrecon. Soon however a situation arises that calls her and her partner, Mulch Diggums, back into service for The People. It seems the tunnel that keeps the demons living on a different plane is deteriorating, Artemis and and mysterious girl seem to be showing up whenever there is a demon appearance. Artemis and Holly are soon working together to find out who the girl is and why the demons are being pulled back into their time. This is adventure brings back all the familiar characters and is one that keeps moving, it does not disappoint.

Some Meg Cabot books...

Valentine Princess

Wow what a book, Princess Mia is finally growing up. This book deals with more mature issues and is showing the content growing with the readers. The big news at the end of the book is shocking but good to see. I don't want to give too much away but Mia and Michael will make some drama. It ends in a way that made me happy and hopefully Meg Cabot will stick to this story line and not try and just make it all better in the next book. Sometimes things don't work out like you expect but something better may be around the corner. I have been reading the series over the last year and my interest has been piqued again.

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either

This book continues the adventures of former teen pop star Heather Wells, assistant dorm I mean resident hall advisor. Once again there has been murder in the dorm and its up to Heather to figure out if its that crazy frat, another resident or what who killed this popular cheerleader and left her head to boil in a pot on the stove. Heather has no intention of getting involved the investigation this time but between avoiding her boy band ex-boyfriend and his upcoming marriage, dealing with the return of her imprisoned dad and trying to get the attention of her house mate, Heather has her hands full. This was a great continuation of the character and I look forward to the third book in the trilogy.

Missing You

This book was the final of five in the 1-800-where-r-you series. Jess is a psychic since being struck by lighting, she has the ability to find missing people by looking at their pictures and dreaming about them. This book beings a few years after we left off. A war began and Jess began working full time to help the government find terrorists, including spending a year in Afghanistan. When Jess came home she was "broken" she lost her ability, lost her boyfriend and moved to New York with her best friend. The night terrors have finally slowed down and Jess is settling into her life when who shows up at her door...Rob and he needs her help. Jess ends up helping him, breaks up an illegal underage interstate porn ring, outsmarts the mob and finally heals herself and her wounds from the war. The story end in a good way and gives the series the ending it deserved.