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See You Next Year

CIL 2008 is now history.  Plans for next year will soon be underway.  Check the Information Today website for dates and location.  And if you have a speaking proposal, the Call For Papers will be issued in July.  Watch for it.

I hope you enjoyed the conference as much as my colleagues and I have enjoyed bringing it to you on this blog.

Bye for now and see you next time!

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2008 Blog Coordinator

More Great Tools

Steve Cohen can always be counted on to give you a great, humorous, information-packed presentation, and he did not disappoint us.  This year, he focused on RSS.  You can see all his links on his wiki.  He highly recommends Google’s Reader as the best one for RSS, and he’s not alone; it has become the market leader.  Steve says that in these days, we should not be going out to the Web to get content–we should be having it come to us.  And he sets a good example because he has 950 (!!) feeds in his reader.

Steve always furnishes his audiences with a list of his favorite tools, which you can also see on his wiki page (along with links to them).  Thanks, Steve, for your generosity in sharing your expertise with us.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL2008 Blog Coordinator

Libraries as Happiness Engines

Is your library in the happiness business? Liz Lawley, director of the Lab for Social Computing at Rochester Institute of Technology, says that libraries are more than just a place—they act as the emotional centers of their communities and places where people can feel happy. In her keynote address on Wednesday, she stressed the fun and motivational side of games and how libraries can use this to everyone’s advantage. (She looks pretty happy in this pre-presentation photo with Jane Dysart.)

People are really getting interested in functionality and fun – “productive play” is a wonderful term. (Think of the Mary Poppins song where “the task is not a grind.”) Instead of assigning a library research project, make it a game—like “Super Sleuth” Here’s an example of a summer reading program—Get a Clue @ your Library. It’s a powerful motivator that we don’t use often enough, she says.

She described a game called Social Genius that she developed while working at Microsoft. It encourages the recognition of colleagues within an organization—users get points for updating their bios and photos and for the more people they can correctly identify within their organization.

For many people, virtuality is beating reality. People think they’re not good at life, so they escape to gaming and virtual worlds. But, real world colleagues can be online playmates and the online world is becoming connected to the real world. Games can serve as “gateway drugs.” For example, Guitar Hero has encouraged people to learn real guitar (it takes advantage of the longing for the tangible).

“Virtual is not making the tangible go away,” she says, and this is important for libraries. How does your library make people feel happy, playful, and real? Make tangible connections. Make your library a space that connects the virtual and the real.

Liz’s presentation will be linked from her blog within a few days at http://mamamusings.net.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, ITI

Great New Ways to Experience the Library of Congress

 

The Library of Congress has been closed this week, which was surely disappointing to some CIL attendees who would’ve liked to visit. But it was for good reason: The staff there is busy preparing for a major event this Saturday, April 12. That’s the official launch date for the "Library of Congress Experience," an amazing suite of interactive digital displays.

Sure, you could see some of LC’s collections online in the past. But now the staff has digitized much more — including such treasures as the one-of-a-kind Mainz bible and vellum Gutenberg bible. As of the 12th they’ll be online, but also completely available inside LC via cutting-edge touchscreens that let you view page-by-page, zoom in, and learn from added descriptions.

These touchscreens are available for various collections and, as Librarian of Congress James Billington said during today’s special press conference, the Experience will make many "stunning details" accessible "for visitors of all ages and all educational levels."

 Watch for an ITI NewsBreak to be posted next week, with more details and photos!

~Kathy Dempsey

Marketing Library Services editor

Neat and Nifty Tools for Managing Information

I always enjoy the tools and gadget sessions at Internet Librarian and CIL that Barbara Fullerton helps put together.  They are very fast paced and packed full of wonderfully useful information.  At CIL 2008, she teamed up with Roger Skalbeck, a law librarian at Georgetown University Law Library, to put together a review of some great tools for managing information and solving common problems encountered by web users.

Here’s the list of problems.  You can find the solutions and links to them on Roger’s CIL wiki page.  An amplified list of these and related tools is here.

Read an RSS feed without a reader
Get color ideas for a website
Conduct an online demonstration on a remote computer
Make links, RSS  feeds, etc. available to all your web visitors
Manipulate PDF files without Adobe Acrobat
Check the performance of your website if images and Javascript are turned off
Create an RSS feed if a website doesn’t have it
Find which Web 2.0 services people are using
Check DLLs, find what they are for, see if they are a danger to your PC
Install scripts to run WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and similar services
Search a fixed set of websites
Check how your website appears in different browsers  without needing to install them on your PC
Obtain screenshots
Obtain new colors or fonts for a website
Track when web pages are updated
Post to multiple blogs with one tool
Create a quick slideshow
Organize and cite research and create a bibliography for free
Make your own videos and play them on your own media player
Play YouTube videos offline

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2008 Blog Coordinator

Meet the Editors

The turnout for the Cybertour "Meet the Editors" wasn’t terrific, although the panel was stellar: Barbara Brynko (Information Today), Barbara Quint (Searcher, present by phone), Dick Kaser (Computers in Libraries), Bob Berkman (Information Advisor), Paula Hane (NewsBureau Chief) and me (ONLINE). We each explained what our publications are all about, then got into a discussion with the audience about their needs. Information literacy was a biggie, as was finding the means to pay for premium content databases. Product comparisons are also important to our readers. If you weren’t able to attend the session (or didn’t know it was happening), let us know what you’d like the pubs to be doing by emailing the editors or leaving a blog comment to this post. And we’re always interested in publishing articles written by practitioners, so if you’ve got an idea, let us know about that as well.

 

Marydee Ojala (marydee@xmission.com)

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals

Gaming To Teach Information Literacy

Marsha Spiegelman and Richard Glass at Nassau Community College teamed up to add a gaming component to information literacy courses.  Marsha, an instruction librarian, brings the information aspect to the courses, and Richard, a mathematics and computer science professor, contributed the technology component.  Together, they have created an innovative gaming while learning environment, which is attractive to today’s students, who are active in both social and intellectual spaces (the line between both is rapidly disappearing).

You will find links to some of the games they have used on their CIL Wiki  page and also many other resources (including their presentation slides) on their wiki.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2008 Blog Coordinator

CIL Wiki

Thanks to all who have visited, edited, and joined our CIL 2008 wiki community.  You can link to it here or from the CIL webiste.  It is becoming a very active part of the CIL event.  People are using it to

* ask questions and get answers

* supply more info about their speaking sessions

* show their profiles and confefence shceules so they can provide more info about themselves and connect with others

* list the links they are using in the presentations (thanks so much Roger & Barbara for your tech tools list from session E301, what a whirlwind tour that actually showed how to use the tools, using Camtasia (wave files and Cativate (flash files) from Adobe, amazing)

* aggregate twitter feeds and flickr feeds about the conference

and so much more!  Fantastic, we are growing and learning and using new technologies.  Way to go CIL’ers, walkin’ the talk!

Jane Dysart, Conference Chair, CIL 2008

Picture This

The old adage that a picture is worth 1,000 words has found new applications in information.  Here’s Darlene Fichter speaking to an overflow audience about harnessing new visualization tools.  She noted that Web 2.0 has ushered in the DIY age: anyone can develop an application without needing to know any HTML.  Combining Web 2.0 tools with visualization is very powerful because conveying information visually can open our hearts, minds, and eyes to understanding.  Some examples include:

  • An article from Relevant Magazine dramatically highlights food costs for a family of 4 in various parts of the world.
  • Rice population demographics allows an instant visualization of various population statistics in a way that numbers could never do.
  • A website grapher can show you the structure of your site much better than traditional text-based site maps.
  • Newsmap is a visual depiction of news stories on various subjects allowing users to instantly see what’s important.

Caveat: there is lots of free data available on the web, but manipulating and using it may require significant advanced knowledge.  But new tools are appearing that will help alleviate this problem.  Social sites for manipulating data like Swivel or ManyEyes from IBM’s Alphaworks will allow new kinds of analysis.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today  and CIL 2008 Blog Coordinator

 

The Web 2.0 Face-Off

They called it 2.0 Pecha Kucha—Conversation Face-Off! The program dutifully explained that Pecha Kucha is Japanese for the sound of conversation and represented a fast-paced series of presentations. And the pace was wonderful for the audience—just the stimulation needed at 4 pm after a full day of conferencing. Each of the five panelists had just 6 minutes and 40 seconds with 20 images to express their opinion about a particular 2.0 technology—IM, podcasting, wikis, videocasting, and Facebook. I was truly amazed how much each of them was able to pack into a short, punchy report. Limitations are a good thing.

The common themes were about being where your users are, promotion, teaching, telling stories, inviting content contributions, collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the ease of working with these technologies. Several mentioned Library Success: a best practices wiki for examples (www.libsuccess.org).

The five 2.0 promoters were then followed by Greg Notess representing the voice of the skeptic (with the same time constraint)—and he did an admirable job in standing up to the promoters and raising some frank, realistic questions. “If 2.0 is the solution,” he asked, “what was the problem?” While he acknowledged that these represented wonderful initiatives, he urged us to consider the costs in time and money. Many of these initiatives represent only a tiny percentage of our total library/patron encounters. “Is this just distraction from our real work?” So, the session was fun, enticing, motivating, and realistic—just what we needed.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, ITI