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Overall Review of Library 2.0 and Public Library Websites May 20, 2009

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While it sometimes seems that the library profession has reached its saturation point with regards to discussions of Library 2.0, there are always those libraries that have either not gotten on the bandwagon or who have decided not to participate for whatever reason of their own. In this simple review of four different library websites, there was a large range of involvement in Library 2.0. Some libraries, like CML embrace the Library 2.0 idea, and try to incorporate it in numerous ways, while on the other end, sites like that of the Salt Lake City Library are devoid of any tools designed to promote interactivity.

Having Library 2.0 tools is not always an entirely good thing, their success in enhancing patron’s experience on the website depends on a number of different factors all being in place. Among the most crucial are: how easy a tool is to use, how clear it is why one would want to use it, and how frequently and consistently it is updated. If all of these things are not present, then the library runs the risk of making the user’s experience less pleasant then a straight informational website, without fancy interactive options.

To some degree, all of the libraries that used Library 2.0 tools assume that the reason why their patrons would want to use them was obvious. This may be true when a library uses a new technology to replace an older, less interactive tool, offering the same service in a new venue. For instance, with Chat reference service they may not need to explain why a user would want to ask a question of a librarian, since that is a key aspect of what librarians traditionally do. Similarly, libraries may not need to justify interactive calendars. However, when the calendar or the chat introduce new elements that distinguish them from the traditional, the library has a chance to promote itself and its services by explaining how the new service is better then the older one.

While I found most of the Library 2.0 tools that were used on these sites to be easy to navigate without outside assistance, some of the tools were very difficult to find. If a user can’t easly find the tool, then it doesn’t matter how easy it is to use, because to a large degree it is invisible. Even those tools that were displayed front and center were not always explained as to what they were, which meant they were hiding in plain sight. For instance, if a user doesn’t know what an RSS feed is, that little orange icon doesn’t mean anything.

Perhaps the largest issue with the Library 2.0 tools that are integrated into library websites is how consistent they are updated. As I looked through the various blogs, Podcasts, and MySpace pages from these libraries, I noted that the vast majority had not been updated within the past month, and some had not received new posts in more then a year. Why would users want to go to all the trouble to learn a new technology if they are not going to get anything from it? And how can a library set itself as an information community, when they don’t hold up their side of the bargain to contribute content?

These caveats force me to conclude that if a library can’t commit to following through with Library 2.0 tools by providing customer training, promotion, and consistent updates, that it may be better to just forgo the tools entirely. Having poorly maintained and explained Library 2.0 tools is worse then not having any.


My Library On-line September 10, 2008

Posted by swegene1 in books, Library, Recommendations, Uncategorized.
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Since January, I have been using the online book cataloguing system called Goodreads. It allows me to list all of my books, both for work and for pleasure reading, on different “shelves.” Because the shelves are more like tags, each book can be labeled with more then one, and there is no limit on the number of shelves or books you can have in your goodreads.

Some of the features I particularly like in Goodreads are the unlimited capabilities to add books and shelves (if the book you want to add isn’t in the system, you can add it there, the abilities to share my books with others and see their books (get lots of ideas for what to read next), and the opportunities to connect with other librarians and YS professionals across the city and the country. When I worked at UAPL, they used good reads all the time to provide reader’s advisory, by using the lists created by colleagues.

Here is a sample of the lists I’ve created:

One of picture books on opposites http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/828864?shelf=p-opposites

I’m still creating this one for a class I’m taking: http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/828864?shelf=50-books-for-dickson

Here is a list of books for YA on volunteering: http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/828864?shelf=ya-volunteering

In addition to these lists, I can share books on my blog, with an image of the cover and a link to good reads. One of my favorite board books:
Baby Cakes

One of my favorite YA books:
Life As We Knew It

One of my favorite books of all time:
Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, Book 1)

My Snakes September 9, 2008

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My Snakes

Originally uploaded by swegene1

These are my three snakes–one is shown twice–I made this graphic using one of the image creating tools for CML’s Learn and Play, so I can say Photobucket The two babies are so squirmy, that it is a wonder they stay still long enough to get their photos taken. My three snakes are: A.R. Snakeypants, DeDe Snakeyshorts, and Sneaky Snakeyspots.

Little Angel or Mr Burns September 5, 2008

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Liitle Angel

Originally uploaded by cwegie

This is my cutie little neice, I just love this picture–they titled it little angel, but she actually looks a little devilish–sort of Mr. Burns like from the simpsons “E-xcel-ent”

This is the cool thing about Flikr, I can see the brand new pictures of little baby girl whenever they post them, which had better be often. Isn’t she the cutiest thing ever?

Widget Envy August 30, 2008

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So with CML’s learn and play there are a zillion blogs for me to look at, on one of them I saw this awesome widget that tracked the countries you had been too. The problem was that I don’t remember which one it is! With almost three hundred blogs I will never find it again–so I used google and found a widget that is almost as cool! Here is my map, and I may yet do one for my mother who has been everywhere!
And apparently the widget doesn’t work with wordpress, so here is the link:

Flikr Blogpost August 26, 2008

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summervaca08 062

Originally uploaded by swegene1

At the beginning of August I went on a whirlwind trip to see my family–took a grand total of two days off and spend four days in Utah. This is a picture from the gardens that my mom and I went to visit the Friday I was there. I usually use Photobucket, but since we have been encouraged to use Flikr for CML’s Play and Learn I uploaded them to a brand new Flikr account. I don’t really have work images to upload, since I use a work camera at work and my own camera at home. But I do enjoy taking pictures, more of a point and click, click, click then anything fancy!

Flikr for Work, Photobucket for Play August 26, 2008

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So this week’s challenge is to discover Flikr, which means both setting up an account and learning to navigate the perks. I usually use photobucket I have to say, which I like lots better. I use it to keep my pictures of all my various and assorted pets. It allows very easy display of pictures on bbs services, IM, blogs and so on, much more user friendly for my needs then flikr.

Here are some of my favorite photobucket pictures, which were very easy to put in this post: New snake: Photobucket

Themes in Young Adult Literature May 9, 2008

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For my final exam, we had to identify five major themes in YA literature. This really got me thinking, for a number of reasons. One is that literary elements like themes and style are not particularly interesting to me, so it took some thinking to identify what might be a theme as opposed to any other element of a book. Another element is if there are themes that are unique to YA literature as opposed to works written for other ages? The final issue I had was with identifying works that represented these themes.

Once I started thinking about this, I had a hard time limiting my themes to only five, and an even harder time finding only a few books that could represent the wide varieties of books written within each theme. This was such an interesting question and exercise, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

First of all–the themes that fill teen literature are the themes that are featured in all literature. Second, most works feature more then one, intertwined to illustrate how life is frequently complicated and difficult.

1. Self-Discovery
* This ranges fantasy where the main character discovers they have secret magical powers to teens who discover their own sexuality, and many more.
* Examples:
Criss Cross
Double Helix (Puffin Sleuth Novels) (Family/science search)
Incantation(historical-self discovery)

2. Quest
* Ranging from epic journeys in fantasy and history to realistic fiction tales of road trips and adventure quests to save the world.
* Examples:
Holly Black, Ironside: A Modern Faerie tale (Fantasy quest for answers into the world of Faerie)
Michael Cadnum, Blood Gold (Historical-quest for justice)
Annie Callan, Taf (Realistic, search for missing father)
Julie Chibbaro, Redemption (History search for religious freedom)
3. Survival
* Whether in the wild, a foreign time or land, or in your high school, the struggle to survive is a fundamental theme of YA novels.
* Examples:
Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak (In a modern high school)
Jerry Spinelli, Milkweed: a Novel (In the Warsaw Ghetto)
Peg Kehert, Escaping the Giant Wave (Environmental)
Susan Beth Pfiefer, Life as we Knew It (end of the world)
4. Relationships
*Teen books in all genres involve relationships—whether between teens and their parents, teens and their friends, and teens and their romantic interests.
Entire Gossip Girls series
Melissa Kantor, If I Have a Wicked Step-Mother, Where’s my Prince? (Parents and teens)
5. Isolation v Conformity
* Teens frequently are torn between the desire to be accepted and the need to chart their path. Rebellion against the establishment fit in here, as well as tales of the “popular girls” who exemplify conformity.
* Examples:
Patrick Jones, Nailed (isolation in high school)
Scott Westerfield, Uglies (to conform or resist in a futuristic world)
Karen Cushman, The Loud Silence of Francine Green (historical)
Walter Dean Myesrs, Shooter (school shooting)

Juvenile Urban Literature May 5, 2008

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While there is a substantial body of literature for young adults and adults relating to life in the inner city, there are relatively less materials written for a younger audience. Partially this is because some of the language and situations popular in the works written in the genre are considered inappropriate for children. Perhaps there is a sad truth in this, that the real life experiences of children in the inner-city and the poorest areas contain sexuality, language, and violence that is generally considered inappropriate in literature for their ages. Regardless, there are some works that attempt to convey an image of the inner-city life for children. It may be a cleaned up world, slightly foreign to children there, but it does address some of the issues and themes they face. The Dream BearerWalter Dean Myers is a very popular author of YA literature featuring the gritty reality of the inner city. In The Dream Bearer, Myers writes for a younger audience, but includes many of the same themes. Young David lives in the inner city, his father has serious mental health issues, and his older brother has started getting involved in drugs. For this summer, David faces these issues through the stories he hears from a strange homeless man Moses Littlejohn about dreams. The issues that David faces are typical of those of many children his age, and the account is written without graphic language or explicit violence, making this appropriate for 5-6 graders.

All of the Above Shelley Pearsall’s All of the Above also features inner city children who experience typical struggles with poverty and their families. This book is set in Cleveland, in economically challenged middle school. This is not a book about the teacher who saves the day with his commitment to the children, rather it is about a regular teacher and regular students who do something amazing. The teacher proposes the project to create a tetrahedron out of frustration with his job, never thinking anyone will actually take him up on it. The students come for a variety of reasons: one wants to go to college, one comes so he wont fail, another has no where else to go, and another couple come to impress the ladies. But this unlikely group creates something amazing, in a truly inspiring tale, most of all because it is based on a true story. An inspiring tale, appropriate to 4th graders and up, though perhaps as a read-aloud.

Chess Rumble G Neri’s Chess Rumble is a great book, not so much because of its originality, as because of its execution. The story is about an inner-city boy who is in trouble at school, and who finds a way to channel his anger and learn decision making skills through playing chess with an older mentor. Not anything earth shattering, but the text is easy to read, poetic, and realistic without being vulgar. AND it has some stunning illustrations that add to the ease of understanding the text and the message. Plus it is at a reading level and topic that would appeal to boys from 3rd grade through high school.

To see some more that I recommend in this area, visit my goodreads.com site to view my bibliography.

Rhyme Time! May 4, 2008

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This week we will be introducing rhymes to work on phonological awareness. We will be using five sets of stamps with images of 3-4 rhyming words, such as Cat, Rat, Hat, and Bat. Children can stamp them on papers printed with each set of words on them and then discuss what the words have in common, as well as work on letter and print awareness.

Rhyming is a phonological skill that can be introduced at a very young age, as the rhythm of the text appeals to infants. Toddlers can recognize patterns and relationships between words and sounds. Pre-scholars can began to distinguish the distinct phonemes and the relationship with letters and text. Rhymes are also a way of expanding vocabulary.

One of my favorite parts of rhyming is that it is just fun! Books with rhymes are frequently humorous, and are some of children’s favorite books. Certainly poetry with rhyme is the first type of poetry most children read. So, I’ve got to read lots of fun books with rhymes and display some of my favorites.