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I will have more to post about ALA in the next few days (weeks, months?) but I thought I would change things up from the previous mad postings of recaps.  For those of you who want some more ALA in the interim I have a copy of my notes from sessions I attended here (ALA 2012 session notes).  I hope to post each session separately in the coming weeks as well as start exploring some of tools and suggested readings mentioned by the speakers.  I will also be posting brief reviews of the ARCs I picked up in the exhibitor hall, so keep your eyes peeled for those.

Now, a break from professional development and on to something interesting.  Despite having lived in Orange County for nearly three years I have kept my Los Angeles Public Library card in good standing, primarily so I could use their e-collection.  I usually use Overdrive to access some audiobooks and books for my Kindle.  Today, however when I went to the LAPL I accidently found myself on the Magic Wall for LAPL’s Axis 360 collection of e-books.   This was very exciting, I had not seen this collection before and I was instantly intrigued and spent my morning break working through the logistics of downloading a book.

The actual download and check out process was not difficult.  It did require reading software called Blio, which I was able to get as an ap on my iphone.  As I waited for the ap to install, I started poking through the Blio page and came across the most exciting looking promotional video for reading software ever.

Seeing the animation, I fully expected some sort of added illustration elements to be added to any of the books with pictures.  Perhaps not full blown movies, but I wanted the characters to say a line or wave if I tapped them with my finger or clicked on them with my mouse.  But this was not to be.  My downloaded Blio came with The legend of Sleepy Hallow and The tale of Peter Rabbit.  Both books were nicely laid out, and in the case of Peter Rabbit illustrated in color. But beyond the animation of a page turning (which occasionally lead to a blank page being displayed) there was no added value in this format over another.  I thought perhaps the default sample books perhaps weren’t as elaborate as another title might be, so I checked out The Superhero Book, imagining if this one did not warrant some explosions, nothing would.  Still, nothing, a nice reproduction of a printed page but nothing to make it an e-book.

One nice added option is you can download a voice to read the book to you ($9.99).  I have not downloaded any of the voices though I did sample each of the offerings.  The options sound very mechanical and not like something I’d want to listen to for the length of an entire book, not to mention something I’d want to give up space on my phone for.  I noted that when I went to look at the voices options it said that “2 of 3 books in your library may be read aloud by Text-to-speech voices.”  All three of the book icons have the green headphone icon on the desktop so I don’t know if the limitation is on the library book because it’s a library book or if it’s the picture book that creates the limitation.

All in all I’m disappointed with the format, I don’t feel like it lives up to it’s “Don’t just read books. Experience them!” tag line.  I looked at the book offerings on their for sale site and the prices are comparable to other e-book sellers.  I am sad that this format won’t work with my current e-reader, I won’t be doing much reading on my phone (it eats through the battery).

On a related note, you may be interested in looking through the Libraries, patrons and e-books report put out by the Pew Research Center.  I wonder how the format war will be affected by patrons like myself who have tried new formats and have found them to fall flat.  I cannot keep a separate e-reader for every  e-book database my library subscribes to (note I own a Kindle and a Nook, though the explanation is longer than I will go into here) though if someone wants to lend me their tablet so I can fully investigate Blio I’ll be happy to return it when I’m done playing.

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Sunday morning, as a friend and I started into the convention center for another day of discovery and professional enrichment, I mentioned that my first choice for the morning was Diving in and learning to swim as a new distance education librarian. Her immediate and, to my ears, strong, response was “but you’re not a distance librarian, are you? Is that what you want to do?”
Her response surprised me in part because I love coming to conferences and attending webinars to be exposed to new things and to get an idea of what others in my field are trying to do. In addition to learning about others’ roles for it’s own sake, I’ve come to be a strong believer in cross training. In school we learn a little about many different aspects of librarianship. While I do not think I would be happy as a full time cataloger, I can appreciate the MARC and RDA rules and guidelines that go into formatting a record. Knowing how a record is compiled makes it easier for me to help patrons at the desk and to find information to fill ILL requests. I can also appreciate some of the limitations it may place on some half baked ideas I may be tempted to suggest in updating the catalog. It’s very easy to section ourselves off into different departments and forget that to our patrons the library is often one entity and they don’t care about a tech services – access services feud.
That said, I would be very interested in being a distance librarian. If anecdotal evidence is to be believed most students will have at least a few online classes by the end of their programs. Also, as a distance student, it is interesting to hear what the librarians think they are providing against my experience of the class. I also did not fail to note that many people seem to fall into their roles based on being the only volunteer or breaking a new path because if a previously side interest.
I have some great ideas from the distance librarianship panel. Unloved the feeling that distance students’ needs should be at the beginning
with the on campus students’, not an afterthought. Some of the ways they adapted existing programs was informative and inspiring (again, I’ll post full notes after the conference is over).
After the morning session, I went to see the posters downstairs and I was amazed at the variety of subjects covered. I felt that all of the subjects I stopped to look at we’re engaging. I was particularly impressed by a partnership in Washington between the public and academic libraries in one county. My coworker and I are constantly trying to encourage our patrons to go to the public library for the high demand ILLs we could not get for them. I liked the idea that the items were sent to the library as a basic hold. I think Orange County may be too big for this to work, but one can dream.
I spent so long looking at posters that I was late to the next session, so instead of going to copyright initiatives on campus (which looked full when I glanced in, so if someone wants to share their notes…) I went to revitalizing the research process. The talk was given by a school librarian and a high school English teacher. While I won’t have to teach research writing anytime soon, they had some great recommendations for free web display and graphic tools that I can’t wait to play with.
My last session was one that I enjoyed, but I wish it was a multi-meeting course than a brief panel. Discovery systems promise and reality was interesting as a survey of different linked databases and catalogs but I felt like there were too many panelists in the room to get a good feel for how each school implemented them. I loved the ideas about making better links for ILL or DDS or find it at x library items, allowing patrons to truly navigate from one interface.
I ended the day meeting up with some people from Rutgers at an alumni function. I loved getting to see fellow students and having faces to put to professors I’d only seen via email or a webcast. I am now the proud owner of some new pens (my orientation pens have been exhausted), an alumni pin for my badge and a magnet for my fridge. All on all a good haul on school swag and it weighs less than my books from the exhibitor floor.
Come back tomorrow for the last day of ALA recap, and please excuse any strange autocorrects in the text. I am posting this from my iPhone and the phone has some strange ideas about what I should be saying. Maybe I can make it a list of library abbreviations do it will stop making ILL into I’LL.

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Day 2 of ALA had some great presentations.  I was only able to attend two morning sessions before I had to leave for a wedding but I was happy with both sessions I sat through.

I attended the Grown ups just want to have fun! panel on play programming for college students.  I was surprised at some of the suggestions.  I feel particularly drawn to the idea of a scavenger hunt to highlight important parts of the library or to do the History Mystery game (I will link to the slides after the conference).  I downloaded the SCVNGR ap to do the ALA play scavenger hunt and I do not have strong feelings for it yet since there was only one clue up yesterday that I could find.  Perhaps there’s going to be one clue or task a day?  I think I’d have to have a couple on a given day to keep interested.  Does this ap do anything if a hunt is not planned?  It seems to have a check in and a few other options but nothing that is getting me too excited yet, maybe after I play with it for a little while.

My first choice for the second session was crowded and I was not getting inspired by the discussion so I left and I’m so glad I found my way into Addressing Global Diversity: meeting the needs of international students in Academic Libraries.  I thought all of the speakers had great things to say about tailoring their existing programming to meet the needs of international students.  I particularly liked the recommendation to get some idea of how these students would view the library in their home country so you can highlight the differences in ways that will help them understand how to navigate libraries in the US.  I also liked the reminder to not use jargon in encounters with international students (though I think that adding in some jargon with explanations gradually will help them in the long run, but that’s a stance I have on any encounters with patrons).  I appreciated the tip on asking the students where they would think to look for library program offerings, since it may not match up with where the staff think students would look for help.

All of the information in these sessions will help me when I find my first librarian position.  I hope to contact some of the education and outreach librarians when I return to work on Tuesday to see if they’d like a copy of my notes for the gaming session and to offer myself up as free labor for implementing some of them.  I need to find a way to be in more than one place at once since I’m sorry I missed I can do it by myself, The e-book elephant in the room, and Linked data & next generation catalogs.  If anyone went to one of these sessions would you share your notes?  I would be happy to reciprocate if you want notes from either of the two sessions above.

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This post was originally going to be about my continuing indecision about the wonderful offerings at the ALA convention this weekend.  I spent some time with the scheduler and I have been able to narrow the entire program down to a few offerings in each time slot and I will decide the day of which I will ultimately attend.  I’m playing around with different options for this blog and thought I might try embedding a pdf instead of sending a link to the schedule or transfering it as text.

Et voila, I’ve managed to embed the pdf!

The reason I make mention of embedding this pdf is I had some difficulty in finding a way to do this in WordPress.com.  When you use Google to search for “embed pdf in WordPress” you are taken to a wonderful page full of plugins for WordPress.org.  If you open the link you will notice that both of the WordPress sites look remarkably alike, with the same branding and the same basic layout.  So I assumed that the plugins page was compatible with WordPress.com.

I downloaded an embedding plugin with high ratings and looked at the instructions on how to install my plugin.  The instructions seemed straight-forward until I came back to my blog dashboard and could not find a “plugins” directory.  So I went to search in some different tabs, with now luck.  I tried Google again, this time trying “how to install a plugin in WordPress and saw a few snarky answers about how everyone should know how to use a FTP transfer program.

About this time I decided to go look through WordPress.com tutorials to see if I could find anything.  The tutorials were very basic and not what I was looking for.  I tried searching the WordPress.com site and still did not pull up anything particularly useful.  Finally I went back to Google again and searched for (using good searching techniques instead of winging it) “embed a pdf in WordPress.com blog” and was taken to this site which directed me to Scribd.    Scribd is easy to use thus far and seems easy to navigate.  I’m sure there are more elegant ways to embed pdfs but I don’t want to switch to WordPress.org just yet, though it’s tempting to be able to tinker with the coding.

My trials in embedding my schedule into my blog helped to remind me part of why I’m so excited about ALA this weekend, I want to learn new things and, after finding difficulties in the existing search field help others navigate them by drawing on my own experiences.   I’m sure to veteran bloggers this seems like a laughably easy problem, but it still took nearly 20 minutes of searching to accomplish something simple.  I need to constantly remind myself of how much I know and how difficult things can be the first time.  I will be sure to remember this feeling when I’m helping users navigate the e-linker or the course reserves page next quarter.  See you in Anaheim!

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I’m looking forward to this Friday, it’s my first ALA conference and I can’t wait to attend some of the great discussions, socials and poster sessions that I’ve seen advertised on the ALA website and several of the blogs I follow.  I’m having some difficulty deciding between some of the wonderful offerings in the program but I hope to have a everything narrowed down to a few options by the end of tomorrow.

I know that I am going to the NMRT Mentoring Social (I have a mentor, how exciting is that!  My faculty adviser is wonderful but having someone at the conference to ask questions of and get advice from is very exciting).  I also want to go to the ACRL 101 session Saturday morning and the Rutgers reception on Sunday night.  Does anyone have a suggestion for something that’s too good to miss that I should set in stone as my schedule shapes up?

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With some help from Generation Why Librarian, we are now ready to study you like a bug collect responses from any and all MLIS students who would like filling out the survey.

Survey link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9KXNMF5

There is a brief description of the poster plans in the first question of the survey, but here’s a recap in case you want to skim this post rather than opening  links wily-nilly.  We’re looking at the problem solving techniques and methods used by online MLIS students to collaborate on classwork in groups.  We’re going to take the answers and make a poster to be presented at the SLA annual conference in Chicago in July.

Both of us have completed the Human Subjects Certification Program that Rutgers requires of us. I must say that completing the certification was informative as there was a lot of ground covered.  It makes me feel like a mad scientist to have to be certified to use HUMAN TEST SUBJECTS.  This sounds much cooler than just saying I’m sending out a survey.  I think I need new business cards for SLA that emphasize my new certified status.  Either that or I need my old UCLA department of anthropology t-shirt.  On the front it said “UCLA Department of Anthropology” and on the back it said “We are watching you.”  I will post a picture if I can find it but I think that shirt’s long gone.  😦

Thank you in advance to anyone who fills out our survey.  Please contact me with any questions or feedback, this is the first survey I’ve drafted that wasn’t for a specific class so I am sure there is room for improvement.  And to my Twitter followers, I apologize in advance, you’re going to see this link in my Twitter feed more than once.

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I recently attended a wonderful talk by Mary Ellen Bates on Speaking to be Heard.  I apologize for not having a direct link to the slides she used but I could not find them on her website yet, though there is a lot of very interesting information to look through if you have the time to take a look.

At the beginning of this semester I decided to start taking a look at professional development opportunities and to begin bringing my online presence and resume in line with some of what I was seeing in librarian position postings.  Part of this endeavor has been looking at a lot of job hunting articles and attending workshops at conferences aimed at moving up when I finish my degree next year.  I’ve been to several elevator pitch workshops and the concept of having a good sales pitch is useful, but it comes off as a sales pitch.

Rather than having a 3 minute pitch, you should be working on a compelling hook that encourages your listener to ask you more.  While you’ll have several scenarios planned for different environments the one I created for this workshop was “I help you get materials that University Library does not have.”  It sounds much flashier than “I work in inter-library loan,” huh?  And you’re less likely to slip into ILL.  It’s still a sales pitch but it is a sales pitch that makes what you are saying more interesting and palatable to the person you’re speaking to.  The other part of the pitch is to try to create a statement that makes you seem useful to the user.  The other person is more interested in what you can do for them than the details of how you get there.

Another portion of the presentation was on the ways to solicit feedback from users.  The biggest suggestion was to put feedback options where the user was most likely to feel frustrated.  The example given in the presentation was to put forms on the card catalog since that is something many users would have difficulty navigating.  Now you would put the forms by the computer or perhaps have a widget on the homepage for users to click on.  By asking for feedback at a point of frustration the user is likely to remember in great detail what the problem is and how it occurred.   If you are able to successfully fix or eliminate the problem now means that when the user returns they are fans of the library, not just because they can get what they want but because you responded to their frustration.

Last but not least, I heard the entirety of the Brand 1985 quote: “Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine – too cheap to meter.  It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient.”  Strange how it sounds less like a liberate information rallying cry and more like information has its own plans and strategies.

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