Monday, September 29, 2008

Final fling!

I didn't sign up for 23 things until right near the end of the registration period as I wasn't sure how relevant it would be and how hard it would be to fit in with other tasks at work. However, now that I've come to the end of the 10 weeks and doing the final exercise I am extremely glad I made the effort to do this course and have found it of enormous value.

'Web 2.0' was one of those phrases that I'd heard bandied about but didn't really know what it was. The nature of the course allowed me to discover even if only briefly, a large number of sites and applications that I had never heard of, let alone looked at. I had a vague idea about Youtube, Facebook etc but didn't know about RSS feeds, podcasts, Rollyo, LibraryThing, image generator etc. I think my favourite things were the ones I thought I would be most likely to use, especially LibraryThing, Rollyo and RSS feeds and Zohowriter.

One thing that struck me as I was doing the exercises and which I've commented on several times in my blogs is the fact that there is so much out there that you can feel swamped and overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you can do, and that the best approach is to take those aspects that are of use to you and make them work for you. I mean, the technology is there to serve you, not to take over your life and mean that you spend hours and hours online. One of the characteristics of nearly all these Web 2.0 applications is the ability to tag things, share them with others, add comments and get into conversations with others and so on. Which means the potential for the whole thing to grow exponentially is huge and makes you tired just thinking about it. Maybe it's a generational thing but I don't care particularly how many other people like the same books or music as me, don't really want to spend hours online reading people's blogs or feel the need to share my thoughts, preferences or photos etc with the rest of the world. But it's nice to know these things are there and how to use them, to make choices about what works for me and how I want to interact online.

We were also asked along the way to consider the possible uses and implications of Web 2.0 for libraries. It seems to me that libraries do need to get on board with these things in order to reach out to our current and potential patrons in a way that is becoming more and more the norm. North Shore Libraries is working towards this by establishing specific web positions which we will need to keep up to date and make the best use of the new applications. If we're going to do it we need to take care and do it properly rather than plunging in before we know what we want and need to do.

Finally I would like to congratulate the North Shore 23 things team on putting this course together and being so helpful and supportive along the way. It has been a lot of fun and really useful, and opened up a new world of possibilities!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Libraries and SNS

There was definitely food for thought in these articles on libraries and social networking sites. The main theme seemed to be that librarians felt the need to have a presence on these sites in order to reach out to patrons (in most cases they were academic librarians talking about students) but weren't sure about the ethics of the whole thing or how to go about it. One comment that was made several times was that if the library put up a page on MySpace or Facebook just to be 'cool' it was pretty much a waste of time, but if they enabled patrons to interact, make suggestions and comments and gain access to resources, it was a valuable communication tool. Library websites also need to become more like Google, Flickr etc and be more particpatory and interactive in the way most Web 2.0 sites are. The most interesting point made in the articles I read was about the advisability of entering into theses sites which could almost be seen as invading the territory of 'young people' (the majority of users being teenagers) and could be regarded as unwelcome. Someone also made the comment that if too many libraries etc from outside the usual peer group got on board with SNS that they might become too mainstream and teenagers would lose interest and find some other way of networking.

So do I think libraries should get involved in SNS? Yes, as they certainly open up a whole new way of communicating with patrons and disseminating information, and contacting people where they are rather than waiting for them to contact the library. However I also agree that we need to do it properly or not at all, and this will take time and thought.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Social networking

Many of the Web 2.0 things we've looked at include the facility to share things with other users, add friends, comment on other people's blogs etc, but these social networking sites are set up with this purpose as their main reason for existence. I had a quick look at Bebo and MySpace and had a bit of a play with Facebook. I actually have a Facebook account and rarely use, so it was interesting to have a look at what was on there. The good thing is that you can add personal friends and also become part of a group - for example I'm part of the Auckland Youth Orchestra group which helps present and past members keep in contact, especially useful for people no longer living in Auckland or indeed NZ. Actually Facebook proved its worth when a friend and I were trying to compile a list of AYO members from the last 10 years for a reunion coming up in October. We were working from concert programmes which had sometimes conflicting spelling of names and were able to use Facebook to identify the correct spelling in a lot of cases, which was a very practical use of the site I hadn't thought of. And yes, there is a North Shore Libraries group! It's actually quite fun seeing who is online out there and discovering people that you know on these sorts of sites.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


For some reason I thought this exercise might be problematic which is why I did #20 first. However, I found it to be quite straightforward. I searched Yahoo audio search to begin with but didn't find anything that interested me, so tried I searched for book reviews and came up with podcasts from KUOW public radio for Nancy Pearl's book reviews. According to Wikipedia, 'KUOW-FM (94.9 FM broadcasting) is a National Public Radio affiliate radio station in Seattle, Washington. It is the second most listened to radio station in the Seattle-Tacoma market [1] and the most listened to news radio station in the state. It is a service of the University of Washington.' From here I went into the KUOW website, clicked on the RSS link for Nancy Pearl's podcasts, copied the URL and pasted it into my bloglines account. I was then able to add it to the feeds I already had listed. Nancy Pearl is a well known American librarian who featured in The Hollywood librarian, a film about librarians in the US which was shown in a special screening at AUT last month. Podcasts are another way of disseminating information over as wide an area as possible, particularly stuff in the public domain, and allows Nancy Pearl herself to publicise books, reading and libraries and be right up in the forefront technology wise as well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I searched for e-books on the Project Gutenberg site. It seemed quite straightforward to search for specific titles, eg A tale of two cities, or for an author like Charles Dickens, and there were options for more advanced searching as well to allow you to narrow down your searches. There seemed to be titles in both e-book and audio book format. The e-book references that I looked at came with this proviso: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. I don't know what NZ law has to say about this area, but I imagine the situation for things like Dickens would be the same (ie it wouldn't be copyrighted in NZ). I also discovered that there was some sheet music available as e-books which was quite exciting! The same note regarding copyright law appeared on these e-books. There are other sites around where you can get sheet music for free, and it's also possible to get music on a disc, for example the entire Haydn string quartets. You pay about US$20 for the disc and can then print as many copies as you like. Anyhow, the public domain e-books are a marvellous resource and a way of disseminating knowledge to as wide an audience as possible.


This was a fun exercise. I found 2 videos which were of particular interest to me. One I sort of knew was likely to be on YouTube, which was an excerpt from the Auckland Symphony Orchestra's Last night of the Proms concert in June, featuring accordionist Tracey Collins. I belong to this orchestra and there had been talk at rehearsal about this video clip. The other one was the New Zealand Friendly Orchestra which had its debut performance at St Matthews in the city last month. This orchestra is mostly made up of professional musicians (many from the Auckland Philharmonia) who are playing instruments other than their main one, the criteria being that you've had less than 2 lessons or haven't picked it up for many years (tuba players on violin, cellists playing viola, violists on flute and trumpet etc). The results were hilarious - I went to the concert and laughed my head off.

The site seems quite user friendly and works in similar ways to other Web 2.0 applications, in the way that you can tag things and share them with others, add comments etc. I have often been sent links to things on YouTube by friends but never really had a look at the site myself so it was interesting to have a play and see what it all looked like. Like some of the other Web 2.0 things we've looked at like Delicious and LibraryThing, libraries can get on board with YouTube and promote themselves (witness a couple of clips done by Birkenhead Library) and become part of the online community.

Monday, September 15, 2008


For this exercise I looked at a site called StumbleUpon, which was placed second in the Bookmarking category behind Delicious. Basically what you do is select topics that you're interested in, hit the Stumble button and it brings up websites that fit the topics you've chosen. You can then give the sites the thumbs up or thumbs down depending on whether you liked it or not, share the page with friends, see what other people have enjoyed etc. I put a selection of topics and had a few goes to see what it came up with, and out of about six 'stumbles' I got perhaps 4 quite interesting sites and 2 I didn't like or think were relevant. It's quite a neat idea as it brings up one site at a time, rather than a search engine where you get pages of hits to trawl through. However I don't think it's particularly effective for searching given that you let someone else choose for you in a sense, but quite good perhaps to find unexpected things and also of course to be able to share your discoveries with other people. I don't think it would be very useful in a library context though!

Friday, September 12, 2008


Zoho Writer seems to me to be a really useful too to know about. I had no idea there were applications like this out there. I had a play around creating documents and it seemed to work pretty much in the same way that your normal Word application does. I managed to add an image simply by copying and pasting from one on one of my blog posts. I guess the idea of things like Zoho is that don't need to have Word installed on your computer to be able to create and use documents, all you need is internet access. Of course the real advantage (which I haven't test but which I gather some of my colleagues doing this exercise have) is the ability to share documents with others and give them access to be able to edit and make comments etc. Also you can get access to your documents from any computer, again simply by having internet access.

Why it's called Zoho and what that means however I have no idea!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rollyo is another of the applications we've looked at in this course which really appeals to me and which I can see having great practical applications. It was also very easy to sign up and create search rolls. I created 2, both work related. One is called Library Suppliers and in it I listed about 7 or 8 library suppliers which I use everyday when searching for books we want to purchase for the library. I did a few searches to see what would come up, and decided to delete from the list as it seemed to pull up a vast number of hits which aren't necessarily relevant. In the process of doing this I also learnt how easy it is to add and delete URLs from the search roll list. The advantage of Rollyo is being able to search across multiple sites simultaneously, in the same way as we can search a number of remote databases at the same time when looking for bib records to import. I'm not sure how reliable the information you get back is (I mean, are you really getting what you expect?) but it is certainly worth a try and very interesting to see what you find.

Here's the link to my Library Suppliers search roll:
LibraryThing is very very cool, I think it's wonderful. As promised, it was ridiculously easy to sign up and begin creating your library. I think this appeals to the part of me that loves lists and catalogues and organising things. I have a lot of books at home and this would be the perfect way to catalogue them, organise them and keep the list up to date. In the past I've had a written list of the books I own, as I would sometimes want to find a particular book and couldn't remember if I still had it (boxes in cupboards etc). This can be unwieldy though, especially if you want to remove anything from the list. LibraryThing gives me the perfect way of keeping an up to date list which I can easily add to or delete from as required. You can also get lovely cover pictures which I rather like! Some of the things we've looked at in this course have been interesting to find out about but not things I think I would use. LibraryThing definitely appeals and I would use it with great enjoyment. It's also very interesting to see how many other people have your books in their library and what their views are.

Here's the link to my library:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This is one of the image generators I had a play with, and above is an image I downloaded and added some text to. The hardest bit was trying to think of something witty to say - I think I pretty well failed miserably but still, at least it's relevant and I learned how to use the image generator, download the image to my desktop and then add the image to my blog. There seem to be a whole host of image and text generators out there. All I did was Google 'image generators' and there were pages and pages of them. It's a fun thing and I guess helps you to flossy up your blog or web page but again, could become a great time waster!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This was really fun. It is quite neat to join this group and know that all the other members are my colleagues from around North Shore Libraries. I enjoyed adding comments to the favourites lists and reading what other people had written. And yes, it was incredibly easy! I can see this tool being used by all sorts of groups of like-minded people to share their interests and passions.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I think libraries can make good use of wikis to further enhance their services to patrons and as a different and extra way of organising information and resources. Wikis like subject and resource guides are a good way of grouping things and allowing many people to have input into the way things are organised and what works best for the people who use the library. They can also allow more visibility for the library's resources such as e-resources and databases which can be hidden in a website or catalogue. I particularly like the Book lovers wiki which allows people to share their experiences of books and add reviews and it's good to get people actively involved in their library.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The results of searching blog posts, tags or for entire blogs are quite different, although they can also delivery some of the same results depending on the content of the blog and how they've been tagged. For example, there were some blogs which turned up in the search for blog posts and tags. It seems to me that searching for tags or entire blogs might turn up more useful results if you want something specific, but if you want to do as wide a search as possible searching the blog posts might be the way to go. It's interesting seeing what is popular too as a way perhaps of getting into a bunch of blogs without having to do too much searching.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I have already learnt a lot from doing the Web 2.0 course. Some of the things we've looked at so far I hadn't even heard of, let alone explored or used in any meaningful way. The articles by librarians on the future of libraries in the Web 2.0 environment emphasised the need for libraries to get on board with these technologies and use them to enhance our services to patrons. Some libraries are already doing this, as examples of the use of mash ups and accounts show. There is an online community which people are involved with for many aspects of their social and working lives, where sites are user-friendly, interactive and collaborative in a way they weren't previously - surfing the web is no longer enough on its own. It also made me realise the growing need at North Shore Libraries for staff dedicated to working in this area, web librarians and so on, positions which are currently being considered.
I found exploring this site very interesting, and can see why some public libraries in the US are using it as a way of promoting their resources and services to a wider audience, particularly an audience which is used to using the web in this way. I like concept of sharing ideas and resources with others and being able to give and receive help in this way. Of course you still need to use your own judgement to decide whether any of the information found in this way is reliable, but it can certainly lead you through to all sorts of places you might not otherwise come across. A lot of the tags used seem (from my reasonably brief searches) to be useful and show that a lot of people are probably going to categorise things in the same way. Although this doesn't mean we no longer need library catalogues with standardised subject access!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

RSS and newsfeeds

The thing that impresses me most about searching these sites is the wealth of information out there, and the need for some discretion when viewing information and considering reliable sources. I thought was pretty good for finding news items that are more likely to be from reasonably reliable sources such as newspapers and other media outlets. Searching for feeds could be useful for business or leisure purposes. For example, using Technorati I searched using the keywords 'viola' and 'violists' (in my other life when not being Shopping Woman I am a very keen amateur violist) and found a number of interesting links, including one mentioning the Arizona Viola Society on a blog called 'Major League Jerk : the daily ramblings of men with no professional experience and even less social tact'! The Arizona Viola Society apparently played the national anthem before a football game. I guess it shows as well that you need to be pretty specific with your searching and spend time evaluating results to really make the best use of these tools. Although Bloglines was the most comprehensive in terms of finding all sorts of feeds and citations I found the others mentioned here easier to use with more meaningful results.
The exercise about RSS and newsfeeds has been very interesting and really opened my eyes to some of the possibilities out there in the world of Web 2.0. I've got a couple of RSS feeds for work at the moment, the eLGAR blog posts and the 'Unshelved' cartoons (which are a bit of light relief each day, and often right on the money about librarians and the work we do). However, registering on Bloglines and signing up for various newsfeeds was something completely new to me. It really was very easy to add the sites I wanted just by typing in the URL and clicking the subscribe button. I can see that this could have great benefit for me in my job as I could get useful and up to date stories about publishing, book reviews, what's popular etc, and also news stories about things of relevance such as Booker prize winners, the latest Harry Potter releases and so on. However, again I think you need to make this technology work for you because it seems to me there is the potential to either waste a lot of time or be completely overwhelmed with the volume of information you're receiving. I think it's good to consider how these things can be used most effectively which will often just be trial and error, working out what you want and need and how to use it well.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Online shopping is a great thing isn't it? I find something almost magical about ordering and paying for something online and then having it turn up in the post. Sites such as Amazon as well as the online auction sites though can be dangerously addictive and you do have to have some self-discipline because it's all so easy. Amazon for example is forever tempting you with recommendations based on things you've already bought from them, and once you've got an account set up it is very quick and easy to order from them. The ease of use of the site is very important when doing shopping online. Some sites will let you purchase without having to create an account (which makes life a lot easier if you're unlikely to use it again) while others insist on you creating an account even for minor one-off purchases. Also I have found some sites (especially American ones) won't ship to New Zealand, as though we aren't part of the known world, too far away and too small to be worth it. Still, there's usually someone out there who will sell you what you want and ship it to you. But do we really do our shopping on the internet? It reminds me of a radio programme I heard by British comedian Mark Steel about Leonardo da Vinci. He was talking about the so-called marvels of modern technology, with people saying 'we can do our shopping on the internet now!'. His response was no, you contact the shop via the internet and then they send round a bloke in a van - just like the 1850s when the grocer would send a lad on a bike, except there was less chance then of him saying ' sorry, I can't fill your order, my notebook's crashed'.

This has turned into a bit of a rave but then I am Shopping Woman aren't I, and in my travels I've learnt a bit about shopping online!
One of the mashups on Flickr that interested me was Montagr, which uses photos on Flickr to create mosaics. You can type in a word, for example 'flower' and Flickr will show a photo of a flower and then proceed to create a montage replica of this photo from other photos of flowers in the Flickr collection. You can then click on each individual photo as well. The idea of creating these mosaics is creative and imaginative and can be beautiful. I can't see any terribly practical application for it apart from creating amazing images, but perhaps that is a sufficient end in itself. Anyhow it shows that people out there are coming up with new ways of using technology all the time.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I had a lot of fun doing this exercise and found some beautiful photos from places I'd been to when I visited Europe in 2006. I had never used Flickr before but think it is way cool! There seem to be a number of ways of exploring the site (I used the map of the world where you could search by location or tags). What a great idea for people to be able to share their photos with others. I can also see that I could waste hours playing on sites like this!

Schloß Esterhazy & Haydn Geburtshaus

This is the concert hall in the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt in Austria, where Haydn worked and where his music was performed. I was lucky enough to visit Austria in 2006 on a tour mainly around the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, but including a number of other composers (Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner etc), one of whom was Haydn. We spent a morning at Eisenstadt and visited this wondeful palace. Haydn is one of my favourite composers and it was an amazing experience being in this place where he lived and worked.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thanks everyone for your supportive comments! It's great to feel part of a team doing this. By the time I've done my 23rd 'thing' I won't know myself. And I didn't know I was a genius! (love the check your progress link).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My first blog post!

This is my first post on a blog, as part of a learning exercise called '23 things', the object of which is to learn more about Web 2.0. I realise how far behind I am with lots of these things, and as I don't want to get left too far behind I thought I should make the effort and do this course. A friend of mine has already completed '23 things' and had a lot of fun in the process, so it's obviously a valuable thing to do.