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: