Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thing #23: Wrap-Up

This phase of Web 2.0 learning comes to a close, but it has opened many doors to further exploration. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of computer use. However, my journey through 23 Things has forced me to acknowledge that Web 2.0 technology (and beyond) is here to stay. It is therefore to my benefit, both professionally and personally, to be aware of it and to have some semblance of knowledge about it. Technorati,, podcasts, blogs, RSS, tags, wikis... these are terms that I see out there on the Internet each day. 23 Things has given me definitions of these web tools and practical experience in their use. I also appreciated that this exercise was self-paced and would welcome an opportunity to participate in other discovery programs like this one.

As for Library 2.0 and its influence upon the future for libraries, the look of libraries is certain to change. However, I am optimistic that some kind of "balance" can be achieved between "old ways" and "new ways" as libraries move forward in this Web 2.0+ information age. Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, summed up my feelings nicely by saying:

“At a time when one might think that public libraries are becoming obsolete, the Maryland library community is using innovative technologies and research to target community needs to make libraries even more relevant to the 21st Century library user, and that’s something that we all can be proud of." (News Release, March 27, 2006)

Thing #22: Downloadable Audio Books

I spent a large amount of time on this "Thing." Quite a lot of time was spent exploring Maryland's Digital eLibrary Consortium (OverDrive), since this is one of HCL's primary electronic resources. I learned that in addition to digital audiobooks, OverDrive also makes available Adobe eBooks and downloadable video. Curious as to what kinds of items were available, I searched "general fiction" and found 1,820 items: some in Adobe eBook format only, others as audio books only and some in both formats. I also discovered "waiting lists" for some items.

I then visited Project Gutenberg. Wow... quite a site. An inventory of over 22,000 items. I was definitely able to find more variety here.... found several items for "Emily Dickinson," while I found none for her in OverDrive. Some of the features in Project Gutenberg that I like quite a bit:
  • Larger inventory
  • No waiting
  • RSS feed of recently published or updated books (nightly update)
  • Online Reader
The Online Reader feature is especially attractive - - no need to open a document in Adobe Reader. Rather, the print version of a title comes right up, with bookmark capability. I did read a bit of Jane Eyre while exploring this feature!

OverDrive and Project Gutenberg are amazing resources for audio books. Burn to CD capability, as well as the download to MP3 player option, bring audio books to an increasingly larger audience.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thing #21: Podcasts

I have virtually no experience with this medium, so once again, this tutorial was quite informative.

I visited the "MERLIN podcasting learning link" and found the Kankakee Public Library site. They provided a concise definition of a "podcast": "
The term comes from combining “iPod” and “broadcast.” An easy way to understand it is audio on demand.... Audio content delivered via RSS." I see that libraries use podcasts to bring story times and in-house events to their customers surfing from home, which obviously can be tremendously beneficial to those unable to attend such library programs in person.

I explored two podcast directories: Yahoo! Podcasts and I liked the look of Yahoo! Podcasts' home page and was particularly intrigued by their "What We Like This Week - New and Noteworthy" podcasts that the Yahoo! staff members themselves found interesting. I also enjoyed their "What Other People Like" section, as well as the "Popular Tags" group... all right there on the main page. I did attempt to subscribe to a podcast using this directory but was a bit annoyed that I apparently needed to load the Yahoo! Music Engine plug-in before I could capture the podcast. It would not allow me to "just listen" either. I elected to move on to's home page is clean and easy to navigate. I selected Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac podcast and quite easily subscribed to it via the RSS link that was right there on the page. (My Bloglines feeds list continues to grow!) I was able to listen to the podcast very easily via Player in Mozilla Firefox. Because of the user-friendliness of, I would be happy to use it again in the future.

Interestingly, there is a banner that runs across the home page of Yahoo! Podcasts. It reads:

"Yahoo! apologizes deeply, but we will be closing down the Podcasts site on 10/31/07."

Monday, October 8, 2007

Thing #20: YouTube

I must be one of the few people in Howard County who has spent less than ten minutes, grand total since its inception, on YouTube. Every once in awhile, my son will alert me to something he deems worthy of me taking the time to watch.

When I read YouTube's answer to "What is YouTube?", the circus actually came to my mind. It was like listening to the ringmaster announce the show: "Watch millions of videos," "Share favorites with friends and family," "Connect with other users who share your interests," "Upload your videos to a worldwide audience." All of these functions are technological wonders. However, I do feel as though some users cross the line of good taste. Also, as the parent of an Internet-savvy teen, YouTube's easy accessibility makes my job of policing my child's Internet use just that much more of a challenge.

From a library perspective, it might be quite interesting to incorporate a YouTube-like component to library web sites. Imagine with the click of one button, a video pops up, and you are taken on a librarian-guided virtual tour of your local library. This has no doubt already been done, somewhere.

It is obvious as to why YouTube is so popular, as it taps into the voyeuristic side of our characters. In search of a video that was not "sordid or scandalous," I searched the category "library." Well, I found sordid and scandalous there, as well. However, I also found Nancy Nerenberg's "CLA Library Cheer:

Thing #19: Web 2.0 Awards List

I selected the category "Events" from the Award Categories and explored the #1 pick: "Upcoming." Upcoming is a Yahoo! web tool that enables users to track what cultural, etc., events are taking place/upcoming in any given area, worldwide. I love that I can create my own "watchlist," can search the "most popular events (worldwide)," via venue or event name, and I can add events that may not be on the site. I actually searched a venue where I will be attending an event later this month and discovered that my event was not there. I therefore added it to the site. Upcoming automatically generated a map/driving directions and added this to my post. Pretty amazing.

This type of tool would be a great way to organize library event information. Customers could generate their own personalized "watchlists."

Thing #18: Online Productivity Tools

Wow.... add this to my list of things that I knew nothing about. Web-based applications? No need to be concerned about having desktop-based software? Amazing. I explored both Zoho Writer and Google Docs & Spreadsheets with absolute wonder. Zoho Writer captivated me a bit more than Google's offering, as I enjoyed Zoho Writer's "options" and "template library." There was something very familiar in the way that Zoho Writer "felt," not unlike Microsoft Office.

I do wonder what online productivity tools will mean for Microsoft Office's future. With a nod to Thing #15, would Mr. Anderson consider Microsoft Office an "iceberg?"

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Thing #17: Maryland Libraries Sandbox

Navigated through all of the Discovery Resources, accessed the Maryland Libraries Sandbox, created a login for myself and added my blog to the HCL roster on the Favorite Blogs page. Read a few of the wikis that folks created and posted for fun.... I enjoyed reading them but don't quite feel the need to create one of my own! However, I am glad that I now know how to create a wiki. Perhaps someday, I will revisit the wiki world and create my own....