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All Good Things

August 14th, 2009 Beth Posted in Miscellaneous | 7 Comments »

goodbyeThere is an old English Proverb that states, “All good things must come to an end.” And so it is with Project Play.

The Project Play team met yesterday to discuss the project, where we are, where we’re going, and how we can maintain what we’ve been running since the Fall of 2007. I am sorry to report that we have decided to end the project as of today. It actually wasn’t too difficult of a decision to make, surprisingly enough. It just seems like the momentum has been slowing for some time, and our efforts are being duplicated through other means. We simply can’t justify the time spent on keeping up the blog and doing the monthly Play Dates for the amount of activity those things are generating.

The good news is that the Project Play team will still be blogging in other places, and we’ll focus our energy on providing cool programming at the annual WLA and WAPL conferences. So keep your eye out for us in the future!

The other good news is that we know you’re out there playing more, learning more, and fearing less. Our main goal was accomplished and that was to make technology and cool web tools less threatening and learning about them more fun. We know you’ll continue to explore tools on your own and share what you have learned with others.

Here are some of the places we’ll be blogging, along with other blogs we recommend that will help you keep up with what’s happening on the web:

The Project Play blog will stay up for a while, but won’t be updated any longer. We’ll keep the comments open until Thursday, August 20th, so leave us a farewell message before then. Thanks for playing along! We’ll miss Project Play, but who knows what we’ll come up with in the future?! :)

(image from

Tags: end, farewell, goodbye
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Getting your Groove on

August 6th, 2009 Jean Posted in Weekly Posts | 1 Comment »

I attended Wilsworld last week here in Madison.  One of the highlights of the conference, for me, was hearing Tasha Saecker present Two-Point-O-Pia.  If you haven’t heard Tasha speak yet – I highly recommend her!  You’ll come away with lots of cool sites to check out as well as good ideas for managing your online persona.  Because of attending some of Tasha’s other presentations, I have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and have added many Firefox extensions.

Two-Point-O-Pia was no exception - I took almost five pages of notes during her presentation!  I was going to focus on just one of the many sites that Tasha covered, but decided that I wanted to share more of my five pages of notes with you!  So without further ado – here are three sites to checkout. and – these are both music sites but they behave a little differently.  At Grooveshark, you can play what you want when you want, create playlists, have Grooveshark suggest songs that you might like, and follow the playlists of other members and tweet about what you’re listening to.  At Pandora, which is an Internet radio station, you create your own station based on the kind of music you like.  The difference is that you can’t select the song(s) you want to listen to right now – it’s more of a music exploration site.

Joongel is a metasearch engine that’s really cool! Joongel has several search categories and lists the top 10 sites in each category.  When you conduct a search, you choose a category and get results from all 10 sites.  I’m definitely adding this one to my search bar in Firefox!  Even if I don’t use it very often, I’ve discovered even more new sites to checkout just by looking at their front page!

Okay – four, but the last one really isn’t a separate site.  Feedly is a Firefox add-on that takes your Google Reader and makes it better.  I’ve just installed this add-on so I don’t have a lot of information yet, but so far I like it.  I’ll report more in my next post…

Thanks Tasha!

Tags: add-ons, Firefox, Grooveshark, Pandora
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Gmail Labs

August 2nd, 2009 Joy Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »


If you use Gmail (the free email service provided by Google) you can enhance and improve it by using features offered by Gmail Labs.

In 2002 Google Labs was created as a place where users could try out new enhancements to Google projects.  Then in 2008 Google introduced Gmail Labs as a testing ground for experimental features that aren’t quite ready for prime-time.  It’s a way to let every Gmail user try out new stuff that’s in development, and provide feedback (so you can discuss a feature with other users and the engineer who wrote it) to decide whether the features are good or not.

Popular Labs features might become parts of Gmail, and they’ll eventually retire the ones that don’t get much use.  (Google Labs says features “may change, break or disappear at any time,” so add and enjoy them with that caveat in mind.)

To turn on Gmail Labs…

  1. labs-settingsLog into your Gmail account
  2. Click the link for “Settings”
  3. Click the “Labs” tab
  4. From the list of experimental stuff, click to enable each one you want to try
  5. Click the “Save Changes” button
  6. Enjoy!

Here are some Gmail Labs productivity features to try:

  • Google Docs Gadget: adds a box in the left column to display your Google Docs; shows recent docs, starred docs, and has fast search.
  • Create a Document: quickly create a Google Document from an email conversation or a new blank document.
  • Title Tweaks: changes the order of elements in the browser title bar to make it easier to see if a new message has arrived, even if the tab or window for Gmail is minimized.
  • Forgotten Attachment Detector: prompts you if you mention attaching a file, but forgot to do so.
  • Mark as Read Button: speeds up going through listserv postings.
  • Custom Keyboard Shortcuts: customize standard keyboard shortcuts to save time by not taking your hands off the keyboard to use the mouse.
  • Send & Archive: adds a button to the compose form to send a reply and archive the email conversation in a single action.
  • Superstars: lets you mark messages with additional star, checkmark, and exclamation mark icons.
  • Custom Label Colors: create your own combination of colors for labels.
  • Undo Send: stop messages from being sent for a few seconds after hitting the send button.
  • even more

labs-iconWhen you’ve added a Labs project to your Gmail account, you’ll see a small green flask icon near the settings link.  Any time you want to enable more Labs features or disable ones you’re using, just click the green flask to make your edits.

You might also like to try the Google Labs apps for Google Maps and Search.

Tags: email, Gmail, Google, Labs, productivity
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How to Avoid Cracking Walnuts with Jackhammers

July 29th, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

On Wednesday, July 22nd, Stef Morrill presented “How to Avoid Cracking Walnuts with Jackhammers: Choosing the Right Web 2.0 Tools for the Job.” Take a look at the recording below or visit it on the SCLS blip channel. Good job, Stef! :)

Tags: tools web2.0 walnuts jackhammers
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A quick rave about Google Wave

July 26th, 2009 Stef Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

I’d started hearing a little buzz about Google Wave, which will be released later this year.  I did a little investigation, and am so excited about it, I just had to share!

Right now, I have minimally 11 different places where I share information (email, IM, google docs, google calendar, 2 different shared file areas, my own hard drive, Basecamp, the Project Play Blog (which uses Wordpress), the SCLS blogs (which use Typepad), external wikis (using PBWiki), internal wikis (using MoinMoin), and probably more I’m not thinking of right now). I spend a lot of time thinking about which tool I should be using when.

After seeing Google Wave, I believe that there may be light at the end of this tunnel of tools.

Here’s a few things you can do with it:

  • You can start a “wave” like an email if the person you want to collaborate with isn’t currently in Wave.  If they then appear on Wave and open your wave at the same time you are in Wave, you can begin discussing the information dynamically, like IM. It transmits live while you’re typing (if you want it to) so you aren’t waiting for the other person to finish typing.
  • You can easily add other people to your conversation.  They’ll see the whole conversation and can also “playback” the conversation to know who said what when.
  • You can drag things like pictures directly from your desktop into a wave.
  • You can embed waves in webpages, and content will be dynamically changed.
  • You can take a wave and instantly publish it to a blog (and hopefully other things like wikis).  Not only will it publish to the blog, but you’ll be able to review comments in the original wave and respond to comments from there.
  • You can collaboratively edit waves with multiple people, all at the same time if you want.  You can collaboratively create documents this way, with discussions interspersed with the document.
  • You can organize with shared tags, among other things, so if one person on the team doesn’t use tags, they will still get the benefit of other people’s tagging.

It’s really hard to explain, ’cause I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  But I think this may have HUGE potential to make our use of Web 2.0 tools easier and more efficient.  Keep your ears open to learn more about it as the launch date gets closer!

Wacky Website:  It’s been a while since I’ve included a wacky website in a post, but this one is just especially a-”pee”-aling.  RunPee has one purpose:  to tell you when to make a bathroom run (or popcorn run) during a movie.  It tells you the time, what will happen right before you make your break, how long you’ll have to get back, and what will happen while you’re gone (scrambled, so you don’t get any accidental spoilers).  It doesn’t cover every movie in theaters, but seems to have suggestions for the most popular ones.  My bladder is smiling.

Tags: google runpee wacky
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ALA - Virtually

July 10th, 2009 Jean Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

I’m heading to Chicago tomorrow for a couple of days of exhibits, authors, programs, and lots of

ALA Badge

ALA Badge

librarians at the American Library Association conference.  I love going to ALA  (actually, I love most all conferences) but I know that not everyone can or wants to attend in person.

Going to ALA is expensive and in this era of shrinking budgets, how can you get the most out of ALA without actually attending?  Surprisingly, there are many ways to follow what’s going on at ALA without being there in person.

First, check through your blogs.  Are any of the writers of the library blogs attending ALA?  If so, watch their postings closely for the next few days for updates on programs.  Here’s a list of some bloggers who will be at ALA this year.  If your favorite blogger isn’t on the list, add a link to their blog in the comments so others can check them out.

Second, are you on Twitter?  There are lots of folks twittering at ALA this year.   A few of the people I follow are at ALA and have been twittering already.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. Try a search on twitter for #ala2009 and check out the results from just today!

Thirdly, check out the handouts from programs that interest you.  Many programs will make their handouts available on the ALA site.

Check out the ALA Annual Wiki for lots more information about the conference and enjoy following the ALA conversation.

Special thanks to Rose at SCLS as I borrowed this idea and some of the links from her TechBits posting.

Tags: ALA
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Capture & Edit Screenshots the Easy Way

July 3rd, 2009 Joy Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

You can make a screenshot of any web page by simply typing in front of the URL in your browser’s address bar.

No software to download; no browser plugin required — just add Aviary’s domain name to the address of any web page, and you’re good to go!

For example, if you wanted to use a screenshot of Project Play in your blog or on your website, just enter in the address bar of your web browser.

aviary-editingOnce you press the Enter key, Aviary will pop up the screenshot within its image editor.  From there you can crop & resize the image, and add text & arrows.

Once the screenshot looks the way you want it, you can save & host the image online (just create a free account) or save it on your computer.  Once saved, you’re ready to add it to your website or embed it in a blog post.

Aviary even offers a Firefox addon so you’ll have quick access to this handy image-editing tool.

No tag for this post.
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How to Avoid Cracking Walnuts with Jackhammers

June 30th, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Join us for our next Play Date, “How to Avoid Cracking Walnuts with Jackhammers: Choosing the Right Web 2.0 Tools for the Job,” on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. Here’s the blurb:

You know about all sorts of new web technologies, like blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. etc. etc. You know that these tools can be used to help solve day-to-day problems and to create new services for your patrons. But how do you choose which tools to use for any given project?

Join Stef Morrill and a group of library staff who have implemented successful projects using Web 2.0 technologies to get some insight into this question. Stef will give background information, and library staff will share how they made the right choices to create successful projects.

Sign up now!

Tags: blogs, jackhammers, podcasts, tools, walnuts, web2.0, wikis
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Jobseeking 2.0

June 29th, 2009 Stef Posted in Weekly Posts | 1 Comment »

A couple of weeks ago, NPR ran a story called “Knowing the new rules of recruitment.” I’d encourage you to listen to the whole story , but here’s the quick summary:helpwanted

The ways that companies recruit for jobs and their expectations for applicants are changing. Gone are the days of the paper resume. One executive of an online company was quoted: “If someone sends us a paper resume folded in thirds, stuffed in an envelope, it’s hard to take it seriously.” More employers expect communication via email, resumes submitted electronically, and applicants to have an online presence through blogs and sites like LinkedIn.

Libraries all over the country are assisting unemployed people with new skills to help them find jobs. After hearing this story, I found myself worrying (well, I’m a worry-wart, so any reason to worry is a good one!) and asking myself some questions:

  • Along with typing and how to make a resume in Word, are we teaching fundamental email skills that are second nature now to most of us , like email netiquette?
  • Are we teaching jobseekers how to create an online presence and how to make that presence reflect what they want to convey to employers?
  • Are we teaching the tools for modern jobseekers, like LinkedIn?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do think we need to recognize that “the way we’ve always done it” may not be helping as much as we’d like.

(Photo credit:

Tags: social networking
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Screencasting Play Date

June 25th, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Stef and Beth presented “Creating Online Tutorials with Screencasting” on June 24th. Here’s the recording of the play date and our slides, in case you’re interested!

Thanks to everyone who attended. Remember, if you miss a Play Date, you can check out the archives page to view a recording at your leisure.

Tags: screencasting, tutorials
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A New Way to Communicate

June 17th, 2009 Beth Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

As I was poking around in my Delicious links to find something to post about this week, I came across a tool that I think has a lot of potential for library use. It’s easy to use, attractive, and you don’t even have to log in if you don’t want to. It’s Wallwisher.

wallwisherImagine a wall in your office that you can stick post-it notes on for anything you want to remember. You can move the notes around and group them as you wish. Now imagine that your wall is virtual, and rather than only you or the people entering your office being able to add a note, now anyone can add to your wall from anywhere in the world. AND, they can add images, music, video or pages to their note. That is Wallwisher.

Here are a few ideas for how you could use it:

  • Create your own wall to save reminders or other brief notes for your own eyes only.
  • Create a wall for a group you’re working with, so you can track to dos, accomplishments, or other reminders, and use it to collaborate.
  • Create a topical wall on a current event that includes videos, links, and other data about that subject. Link to it from your web site.

But here’s how I’d really like to use it:

  • Create a wall for your library and ask people to add their feedback, either on a specific service or on the library as a whole.

What a fun way to create a quick, attractive community survey! Sure, it’s not very scientific, but Wallwisher doesn’t make you log in and is fun to play around with. And in the end you have a kind of cool looking wall with opinions from your community posted for all to see.

I created a Project Play wall, so you can play around with adding notes and moving them around on the wall. Go to and see what you think. Be sure to try to include music or a video or link, too! It will be fun to see what gets posted. :)

Tags: collaborate, feedback, notes, reminders, Wallwisher
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Collections and Ravelry

June 12th, 2009 Jean Posted in Weekly Posts | 1 Comment »

It’s been a particularly hectic week for me even though I haven’t had many meetings on my schedule! So, I’ve been procrastinating on my Project Play post this week and keeping my eyes and ears open to ideas on a topic.  I didn’t have any flashes of inspiration or wonderful ideas so I thought I’d share a couple of interesting topics that came across my Google Reader this week.

First, LibraryThing introduced Collections this week.  You may recall (I’ve only told you a few times, right?) that I love LibraryThing and I think I’ll love collections, too.  Many people use LibraryThing to catalog their actual home libraries.  Location tags such as office, den, spare room are often used to describe the location of a book in someone’s home. You can create separate collections for each location!  Some people use LibraryThing to keep track of their Wishlists or their “To Be Read” lists and the new Collections feature make tracking these books easier.

I think that collections will eventually make my tags more meaningful.  For example, if you’re looking at the tags of The Teashop Girls you’ll see tags like 2009, ARC, done, for review, and own.  Do those tags really describe the book? Not really.  One of my main tags is 2009 Book List because of the way I keep track of the books I’ve read.  I’m thinking of creating a collection for this tag and letting my tags be about about the topic of the book.  Fellow LT users, try it out and let me know what you think in the comments!  How else are you or would you use the Collections feature?

On a similar topic, have you heard of Ravelry?  My colleague Shawn is a knitter and introduced me to Ravelry a couple of months ago.  Ravelry is a social networking site designed specifically for knitters, crocheters, and other fiber artists (I’m a crocheter).  Most of the pieces that I make, I give away.  I sometimes remember to take a photo, but not always.  Ravelry gives me a place to keep



track of my crocheting projects - including who they’re for, adding pictures, the pattern, the yarn that I used and more.  Ravelry is like LibraryThing for knitters and crocheters!  How cool is that? Membership is free, but you’ll need to submit a request for an invitation.  That usually only takes a day or so and is well worth the wait.  If you join, look for me (pandalibrarian) or Shawn (zeldagoat).

The reason that I decided to add Ravelry into the mix for this week’s post is because someone else blogged about it this week.  Cool Tools (another of my favorite blogs) posted about Ravelry this week and it stuck with me.

So, that’s what I found interesting this week.  How about you? Anything you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear about it - let me know in the comments!

Tags: Cool Tools, LibraryThing, Ravelry
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The Long & Short of it: TinyURL,, and

June 8th, 2009 Joy Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

Have you ever sent a long link in an email message, only to have it break when sent, causing the recipient to have to cut and paste it back together so it’s clickable?  A number of URL shortener services exist to make lengthy links more shareable, and here are 3 of note:


Use this form to make any long URL tiny using TinyURL:

TinyURL is one of the best-known URL shrinkers.  It’ll let you turn a link like into a compact “alias” that won’t expire or break when you send it in an email message.

Another way to use TinyURL is to turn an unwieldy link into one that’s easier to remember or to jot down.  A good example might be when you’re giving a web site address over the phone, or putting on the screen during a presentation.  I used TinyURL’s new “custom alias” feature to do just that at the WLA Support Staff Section conference: in keeping with WLA’’s “Go Green, Go Online” campaign, instead of providing attendees with a handout of my slides, I instead gave them the URL of where they could find the slides online.  So instead of giving them an un-memorable URL of, I used TinyURL’s custom alias feature to provide it as

You can also add a bookmarklet to your browser’s toolbar to create a TinyURL for the page you’re currently viewing.

With the rise of Twitter, there’s a resurgence of interest  in URL shortening services: when you’re limited to 140 characters per message, you need a URL shortener that smallifies to the max.

Not only does provide the shortest of URL aliases, it also tracks real-time statistics on how many times links are clicked and where users are coming from.  Create a free account to…

  • Track the performance of your links in real time.
  • Access the complete history of your links
  • Store your Twitter account and other preferences

You can also add a bookmarklet to your browser’s toolbar to create a URL for the page you’re currently viewing.

What if you could create a short URL and help a charity at the same time? provides just that: “If you use to make a product recommendation on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else, and people click on and buy what you suggest, we give 55% of any earned referral fees to charity. The other 45% is used to run the service and continue marketing it.”

You can also add a bookmarklet to your browser’s toolbar to create a URL for the page you’re currently viewing.

Tags:,, TinyURL, Twitter
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A “Glee”-ful story

May 29th, 2009 Stef Posted in Weekly Posts | 1 Comment »

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I tivo-ed (is that a word??) the pilot of the new show “Glee.” The show started a couple of minutes later than Tivo expected, so we were thoroughly enjoying their version of “Don’t stop believing” when the episode abruptly ended. The scream of “No!!!” from both of us sent the cat running. How disappointed we were!

But not for long: A little searching around, and we found the pilot on the Fox website, fast forwarded to the end and watched the last two minutes. Ahhh….closure.

We’re not the only ones doing this: A new Nielsen report states that, while “television is still the dominant choice for Americans who watch video,” internet video use is growing strong. Mobile viewing is up 52% in the first quarter of this year from last year.

So, if you haven’t played around with online video since the YouTube lesson in Project Play, give yourself permission to check out some video sites.

  • If you’re looking for TV, you might want to start your exploration at Hulu. Hulu has a lot of full TV episodes, both new and old, along with some movies and TV clips. Click “Browse” to see a list of titles by network or alphabetically. Check out the sites for the varous networks, too. They often have content that they don’t include in Hulu or on other collective sites.
  • If you want to look for a specific show or clip, try Truveo. Truveo searches many different video sites to find the thing you are looking for. You can make a feed from your search, so Truveo can tell you when there is new video content for your search.
  • If you want something more intellectual, check out AcademicEarth, which contains “Thousands of video lectures from the world’s top scholars.” The site includes both individual lectures and entire courses with syllabi and other related resources. The editors of the site have also collected lectures into thematic playlists, like Understanding the Financial Crisis and Taking Risks and Learning from Failure (a perfect tie-in to our Innovation Starts with I program!)

For those of you who are online video junkies, what other sites would you suggest for exploration?

Tags: videos
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Innovation Starts with I

May 22nd, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | 1 Comment »

A HUGE thanks goes out to Helene Blowers for being our Play Date presenter today! If you missed it, never fear - check out the video below or visit it at

Recordings of all of our past Play Dates are available from our Play Dates Archives page. Enjoy!

Tags: change agent, Helene Blowers, innovation, risk
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Creating Online Tutorials with Screencasting

May 22nd, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Join us for our next Play Date on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 1:30 p.m.! Here’s the blurb:

Join Beth and Stef and learn about screencasting: what it is, why you should consider creating some, tools and resources to get you started, along with tips to keep in mind when recording. These brief video tutorials are a fantastic way to empower your customers by providing training on demand in a popular, easily accessible format.

Sign up now!

Tags: screencasting, screencasts, tutorials, videos
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May 18th, 2009 Beth Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

I’m in love. It was quick. It was magical. It was… RoundPic.

I like to add images to my blog posts or web pages to either reinforce graphically something I’m writing about or to just have fun with the topic at hand. If I find something on Flickr or in MS Office, I’m usually limited to an image that has square corners. This can lead to a very “boxy” effect, depending on the rest of your site’s design.

RoundPic allows you to upload an image or supply the URL to an image online, then rounds the corners for you, giving a more sleek look that won’t box you in.

For example, here’s an image from my Flickr account:


Nice photo, but very boxy, no? So I clicked on the Browse button on RoundPic’s homepage, found the image on my computer, and clicked “Round it!”


When you click the Round it! button, you are given several options for further customizing the round corners of your image.


You can round all or just selected corners, change the size of the image and the size of your rounded corner. You can even change the background color of the corner (yes, the heavens just opened up and rained flower petals on you!). This enables you to make the round corners invisible if you’re placing the image on a colored background. You just need the hexcode for the background color of your webpage. (Firefox users can use the ColorZilla extension for help in finding hexcodes on any web page.)

Preview your image until you have it just the way you want it, then download the results. Here’s my bench photo fixed up a couple of different ways:


RoundPic is easy peasy and every webmeister’s dream tool. Think you’ll have a use for it?

Tags: image editors, rounded corners, RoundPic
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LibraryThing for Movies?

May 13th, 2009 Jean Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

Reading Journal

Reading Journal

In 1997, I attended my first Readers Advisory (RA) session at a state conference (Minnesota) and learned the value of keeping a list of books that I’ve read. Since I read a lot and was asked to do a lot of RA in my job, I started a list and haven’t looked back. My first lists were handwritten in a journal. Eventually, I began transferring my written lists into an Excel spreadsheet so I could share them with family and friends. Now, I use LibraryThing exclusively to keep track of my reading lists.

As you may remember, I LOVE LibraryThing (LT). I’ve been a lifetime member for almost three years and have cataloged over 700 books. That’s not really very many compared to some LT users, but I use LT in a very specific way. I mainly keep track of what I’ve read.

The thing is, I love keeping lists of other things, too. When I started my book list, I tried keeping track of the movies I’d seen too (click on the image to see a larger version) - but this didn’t last as long as my book list (now almost

First page

First page

12 years!). I don’t go to as many movies as I used to and I’m not up to date on the new releases so I’ve been looking for a way to keep a list of movies I want to see as well as those I’ve seen. LT for movies would be great, but I don’t think that’s at the top of features that Tim is developing.

Enter Lifehacker… Last week, Lifehacker reviewed a tool that I thought might help - Gurulib. I couldn’t access it at first because of the Lifehacker effect (kind of like the Oprah effect for books) so I read through the comments. One of them struck a chord with me: IMDB (Internet Movie Database) has a MyMovies section.

I’ve used IMDB often as a reference librarian as it has great information on movies, actors, writers, and more. Now that I’m no longer a practicing reference librarian, I’d forgotten about IMDB and haven’t looked at it in a while. I had no idea that it has a way for me to keep a personalized movie list - and it’s free! Even better!



So, I registered for a free account and set up MyMovies. It’s really easy - here are a couple of screenshots showing MyMovies. I’ve only added a few titles so far, but I’m just getting started. In addition to movies, IMDB also has information on TV shows and series. I enjoy watching TV series on DVD when I’m working out on my elliptical -



especially shows that I can’t get without cable or satellite.

Since I’m not a Netflix user, I’m not sure how IMDB MyMovies compares to setting up lists on Netflix. If you’re a Netflix user, let me know what you think in the comments!

Now, I’m off to search IMDB for new movies and then to LINKcat to reserve them. Happy Watching!

Tags: IMDB, LibraryThing
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Awesome Highlighter

May 8th, 2009 Joy Posted in Weekly Posts | 1 Comment »

Awesome Highlighter logoThe Awesome Highlighter is a free web tool that lets you highlight text on a web page — just as if you used a neon bright pen — and then creates a new link to your highlighted page.  You can then share the link to your customized page with patrons and colleagues, or even link to it from your own web page or blog.  The page is stored on their web server, and you don’t need to know HTML to create your tailor-made page!

To see an example of what it looks like, here’s a page I highlighted to send to a customer who has questions about using OverDrive:

To create your highlighted web page…

  1. Paste the URL of the original page in the box on the Awesome Highlighter website
  2. When the page is displayed there, your mouse pointer will turn into a highlighter pen
  3. Use your mouse to mark any text on the page, and you’ll see that text highlightedhighlighter-colors
  4. Change highlighting colors if you’d like
  5. Add some “sticky notes” to the page if you’d like
  6. Click the “done” button
  7. The new link to your highlighted web page is generated for you, so anyone you share this link with will see your customized version of the page

You can also add the Awesome Highlighter to your web browser by installing either the Firefox add-on or bookmarklet.

If you create a free account, all the pages you’ve highlighted will be listed and available for re-editing any time.

Ya just know this tool is library-friendly, because the Awesome Highlighter’s web page says “Save time for the reader”, which you’ll probably recognize as also being #4 on Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science.

I’ve used this handy tool when answering questions via email or QuestionPoint.  If you use it too, please leave a comment on this blog post.  :-)

Tags: highlighter
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It’s Googlicious!: Google Public Data

May 1st, 2009 Stef Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

Next Thursday, Beth Carpenter and I will be doing a “Googlicious” presentation at the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries (WAPL) conference. Like good little presenters, we met a couple of months ago to figure out what we want to talk about. But Google keeps adding cool new features! And our program gets longer and longer!

One example is Google Public Data: Go to Google. Type in either the words “population” or “unemployment rate” followed by the name of a state or county. You’ll see a result with a little chart at the top. If you click on it, you can add other counties from around the country, and Google will add them to the chart. Here’s a screen shot:

Google Public Data screenshot

It sounds pretty basic, but it’s totally addicting! I just keep making all different graphs. And more data sets will be coming soon.

Consider this a preview of our “Googlicious” session – hope to see some of you there! And when we get to this part, you can chime in with your own experiences, since I know you’ll all run out and try it right now!

Tags: google charts
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Innovation Starts With I

May 1st, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | 1 Comment »

blowersJoin us for our next Play Date on May 22nd at 10 a.m. when the founder of the Learning 2.0 phenomenon (the inspiration for Project Play!), Helene Blowers, will be joining us to present “Innovation Starts with I:”

Innovation has become such a bandied word these days that in some organizations it’s now an expectation for library staff to be innovative from the ground up. So, where does “innovation” really come from? and how do you kickstart something at an organizational level that is, by its very nature, connected to the elusive waves of individual creativity? The answer: Innovation starts with “I.” This session will explore how the I, YOU, WE of organization cultures are involved in responding to the needs and desires to innovate and change.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to learn from a Library Journal Mover & Shaker! Help us spread the word by inviting your colleagues to join us. Sign up today!

Tags: Helene Blowers, innovation
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Get More Out of Firefox

May 1st, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Our very own Joy Schwarz presented “Get More Out of Firefox” on April 28th via GoToWebinar. The recording for this Play Date can be viewed on or below.

And just so ya know, recordings of all of our past Play Dates are linked to from the Play Dates Archives page. Take a look and play more, learn more, and fear less!

Tags: add-ons, browser, extensions, Firefox, productivity, tabbed browsing
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April 23rd, 2009 Jean Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

Last year, I spent 10 days in Ireland with several friends. We all took lots of pictures

Poulnabrone Dolmen

Poulnabrone Dolmen

and promised we’d exchange photos when we got back. We did - to some extent. I use Flickr to store and share my pictures with my family and friends. I’m rather private about posting my photos online and not all of my photos are publicly available. This meant that I needed to invite my travel companions to Flickr so they could view and download my photos - and only one of them took me up on the invitation.

In preparation for getting together after our trip, I burned several CDs with my photos and gave them to my friends. However, my friends didn’t have their photos ready or burned to a CD for me. Thus I missed out on 2/3 of the photos from our trip (I did see most of them, I just don’t have copies).

Cliffs of Mohr

Cliffs of Mohr

After learning about Flickr in Project Play, I thought it would be a great tool for sharing our photos. But not everyone is comfortable using Flickr (or other online photo sharing sites) to share their pictures. Flickr didn’t quite work for our group to share photos because not everyone wanted to sign up to use the service. Recently, a colleague told me about and how her friends had used it to share pictures after a trip and commented on how easy it was. Next time, I’m using for this purpose. Let me explain… is “an easy to use, online collaboration and file sharing service” according to their web site. While I’m focusing on pictures, you can share many other types of files - audio and video files, powerpoint slides, Word documents, and any others you can think of. You create a drop, add your content, add a password (if desired) and share the link with your friends or colleagues. Your drop can consist of one or many files - up to 100 mb for the free account. If you need more space, you can upgrade to 1GB for $10 a year (and there are other options).dropio1

The rest of your group can also add their files or photos to the same drop - they just need to know the password for the drop. No need to sign up for anything. This eliminates the need to copy all the photos to a CD or flash drive, or try to email the photos to each member of your group. Many email programs limit the file size that you can send - so you might have to send lots of email messages to share your photos.

Photo sharing sites are great and I use Flickr a lot and love it. However, if you don’t want to share your all your photos with everyone in the world may be the tool for you. For more detailed instructions, watch the How To video on or check out this post from Online Tech Tips last spring.

I’ve set up a drop for you to try out and have added a few photos of me (aka the PandaLibrarian) and some of Ireland. Feel free to add one of yours or just explore the site. The password is projectplay.


Tags:, file sharing, Flickr, groups
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What Ma.gnolia Taught Me

April 10th, 2009 Joy Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

magnolia A social bookmarking service called Ma.gnolia was in the news recently.  Similar to Delicious (which we covered in Week 8 of Project Play Semester 1) users could store, tag, share, and discover bookmarks.  But the reason it was in the news is a database crash corrupted half a terabyte of data, which meant all Ma.gnolia bookmarks were gone.


I was researching Ma.gnolia by viewing their archived web pages in The Wayback Machine, and I ran across their About page which stated, “And don’t worry about web pages disappearing from your searches or even the web, as we make a saved copy of each page you bookmark where websites allow us to.”


Even though Ma.gnolia offers different ways members can try to reconstruct their accounts, it looks like the options offer slim hope to those who had saved any more than a dozen bookmarks.


Lesson Learned:

Rich Miller said, “It turns out that Ma.gnolia was pretty much a one-man operation, running on two Mac OS X servers and four Mac minis. A clear lesson for users is not to assume that online services have lots of staff, lots of servers and professional backups, and to keep your own copies of your data, especially on free services. ”

So even though Delicious seems robust (it’s owned by Yahoo), the lesson I’ve learned from Ma.gnolia is I’m going to make local backup copies of my Delicious bookmarks — and you can too!

How to Backup Your Delicious Bookmarks:

1. Log in to your Delicious account.
2. Go to Export / Backup Bookmarks.
3. Check the boxes depending on whether you want to include your tags & notes.
4. Click the Export button.


5.    When the dialog box opens, choose Save File, and click the OK button.


6.  Your bookmarks will be saved with a generic filename structure of delicious-YYYYMMDD.htm like this example: “delicious-20090410.htm”.


If you have more than one set of Delicious bookmarks and export them on the same day, you might want to rename the files so you don’t accidentally over-write them.  Here’s how I’ve renamed the backup copies I’ve made so far:

Hopefully Delicious will never suffer the same fate as Ma.gnolia, so I hope I’ll never need to resurrect my bookmarks from backup files.  But if I need to, I’ll be able to import them into  Firefox’s bookmarks, or double-click the file to open it as a web page.

Tags: backups, Delicious, social bookmarking
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A Spaghetti Story

April 3rd, 2009 Stef Posted in Weekly Posts | 3 Comments »

Do you drink milk with spaghetti? My family never did, and I never knew why until a few weeks ago.

It seems that my mom went to her Aunt Marguerite’s house for dinner. Aunt Marguerite was a pretty funny person, and she got my mom laughing so hard that the spaghetti and milk they were eating came out her nose. My mom could never again stand the thought of the two things together. So, as a kid, I had milk with every dinner other than spaghetti, and just thought that no one ever ate milk with spaghetti….now I know better!

Why am I telling you this? Well, after my mom spilled this story, I immediately added it to my account on Geni. If you are interested in genealogy or know anyone who is, go check out Geni. It’s a great example of how Web 2.0 technology can make something like a family tree oh-so-much-better.

You start with a tree, like you might expect. But you can create a profile (almost like a Facebook profile) for each person in your family tree. Here’s the beginnings of my profile page for Aunt Marguerite:


You can add pictures, videos, events, and stories. You can invite other people in your family to join you and add their own memories and information to your tree. You can see a timeline view of your family events….and so much more!

If you want to learn more, check out the short “How to get started” video on YouTube.

Tags: geni genealogy
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Time to Play

March 27th, 2009 Beth Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

We’ve been talking a lot lately about either the philosophy of adopting the tools we’ve been talking about or how to be more productive when using them. Today I want to get back to our roots and focus on the PLAY aspect of Project Play and introduce you to a new, fun tool.

vokiI recently heard about a site that hadn’t hit my radar, so, as usual, I visited the site to poke around, play, and figure out if it’s something I would ever use. The site is called voki and is now one of my new favorites. Voki allows you to create a speaking avatar that you can then embed on your blog, web site or other social media sites. You can even make video ringtones or use it for email messaging.

Pick from a wide cast of characters, add some bling, pick a background (or upload your own), and give it a voice. You can add a recording of your own voice by telephone or through a microphone on your computer, upload a recording, or use the text to speech tool like I did. Text to speech was fun, because I could choose from a variety of accents, voices, and apply a special effect if I wanted to. You get 60 seconds of recording time for your avatar’s speech.

Once you’ve played around and are happy with your avatar, you can save it and get the code to embed it on your sites. You can also create an account for access to additional features. Here’s what I came up with during my play session:

Get a Voki now!

This may seem at first glance like just a silly thing to play around with, but I started getting lots of ideas for how voki could be used in libraries…

  • create an ad to promote your summer library program
  • create a kids site mascot that regularly announces what’s coming up at the library or talks about the latest books
  • create an avatar for your library’s myspace or other social teen connection site
  • teach kids/teens how to use it and have a contest for the best library ad they can come up with
  • teach patrons how to use it and have them record “Why I Love My Library” or their thoughts on some other topical/timely theme

What other ideas can you come up with? Post them and your thoughts about voki in the comments!

Tags: ads, avatar, play, voki
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Upcoming Play Dates - You Won’t Want to Miss ‘Em!

March 26th, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Be sure to save the dates for our next two Play Dates! Join us online via GoToWebinar on April 28th at 1:30 p.m. when our very own Joy Schwarz will present “Get More Out of Firefox:”

Already use Firefox, but want to learn about the features and add-ons that can make your work day more efficient and productive? Don’t use Firefox yet, and wonder why anyone would switch from Internet Explorer?

Join Joy Schwarz of Winnefox Library System to get…
* Tips for tabbed browsing
* A demo of how install and manage add-ons
* Add-ons that fit your workflow, and help get stuff done faster and easier.

Register now!

blowersAnd on May 22nd at 10 a.m. the founder of the Learning 2.0 phenomenon (the inspiration for Project Play!), Helene Blowers, will be joining us to present “Innovation Starts with I:”

Innovation has become such a bandied word these days that in some organizations it’s now an expectation for library staff to be innovative from the ground up. So, where does “innovation” really come from? and how do you kickstart something at an organizational level that is, by its very nature, connected to the elusive waves of individual creativity? The answer: Innovation starts with “I.” This session will explore how the I, YOU, WE of organization cultures are involved in responding to the needs and desires to innovate and change.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to learn from a Library Journal Mover & Shaker! Help us spread the word by inviting your colleagues to join us. Sign up today!

Tags: add-ons, Firefox, Helene Blowers, Learning2.0, tabbed browsing
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Exploring Google Reader

March 26th, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Our very own Jean Anderson presented “Exploring Google Reader” on March 25th via GoToWebinar. The recording for this Play Date can be viewed on or below.

And just so ya know, recordings of all of our past Play Dates are linked to from the Play Dates Archives page. Take a look and play more, learn more, and fear less!

Tags: Google Reader, RSS
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If I Could Save Time in a Bottle…

March 19th, 2009 Jean Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

Where does all the time go? It’s hard to believe it’s almost spring - not that I’m complaining - it just doesn’t seem like enough time has gone by yet. Did I get everything done this past winter that I needed to? No. Do I ever? No - but I usually make some headway on my projects.

Where do you find time? And, no, that isn’t a rhetorical question. I really want to know! This is a question that I am asked frequently and I ask frequently of others - especially those who appear to be super efficient. In terms of my reading list, I’m often asked how I find the time to read all those books. My answer is that I read fast, don’t have kids, and read every chance I get! But that’s my personal life. I’m talking about finding time in my work day.

As I mentioned in my earlier post on Productivity and Web 2.o, I’m on a productivity and efficiency quest this year. A favorite stand by has always been my

RTM for Gmail

RTM for Gmail

To Do list, task list, or project list (or whatever you’d like to call it). I love lists - always have. But it seems that my lists are always getting longer instead of shorter. I’m losing time again!

One thing that you (and I) learned about in Project Play was Remember the Milk (RTM). During Project Play, I created an account and promptly forgot about it. Then I discovered the RTM for Gmail add-on for Firefox. Many of my new tasks are created right from my email. Now, I have an easy way to add those tasks to my to-do list without leaving my email account.

I’m not quite as good at using RTM as Stef is (I do have to have something to aspire to), but I’m getting better at it. I’ve also got RTM loading in my Google Calendar and I just figured out how to get it on my Palm (also one of my goals for this year -using my Palm more efficiently).

RTM for Google Calendar

RTM for Google Calendar

It remains to be seen if having RTM in all these places is a good thing or improves my productivity or efficiency, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress. By the way, I spent at least half an hour going through the RTM help screens to figure out how to access my account on my Palm. After some trial and error, it works! It’s those little bursts of energy that result from accomplishment that keep me going.

On a related topic, someone mentioned to me recently that they hadn’t checked their Bloglines account in a really long time and were afraid to because of the number of posts they’d encounter. One of the beauties of newsreaders is that no one will ever know if you don’t read all those posts! Go ahead and mark them All Read! What a sense of relief to have an empty “in box” of blog postings. Then make a schedule (add it to you RTM task list!) and try and stick to it - just like your email (although I wouldn’t recommend marking your email All Read!)

What productivity tips and tools have you discovered? How do you find time in your day to learn new things? Please share - I’m really interested in the answers!

PS - sorry if you now have that song stuck in your head…

Tags: Bloglines, Remember the Millk
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Customize Firefox to Search Sites You Use Most

March 13th, 2009 Joy Posted in Weekly Posts | 2 Comments »

If part of Web 2.0 is about customizing software to make your life easier, then Firefox add-ons fit the bill.

Firefox search screenshot

If you’re not familiar with add-ons, they’re light-weight software applications you can download to customize your copy of Firefox.  Types of add-ons include Extensions (to modify or add features) and Themes (to change the visual appearance of Firefox. ) Everything you need to know about add-ons is at Mozilla’s Customizing Firefox With Add-ons page.

A category of extension add-ons is Search, which lets you customize the Firefox search box (see screenshot at right.)

If you look in the upper right hand corner of Firefox you’ll see a small G that’s a symbol for Google (the default search in Firefox.)  Click on it, and you’ll see a list of other search engines that are pre-loaded in Firefox.

You can choose from other search engines by clicking on “Manage Search Engines”, and find and install them from there. But what if the search add-on you need isn’t available there or at the Mycroft search engine plugins?

Good news — with the Add to Search Bar add-on you can add the search functionality into Firefox from any web site!

Here’s how:

  1. Go to the add-on’s page at
  2. Click the “Add to Firefox” button
  3. Click the “Install Now” button.
  4. After the installation is complete, you’ll need to close & restart Firefox to start using the new add-on. You can click the “Restart Firefox” box that appears after installation is finished.
  5. Go to a web site with a search box, like The New York Times web site.
  6. Put your mouse pointer in the search box.
  7. Right-click to see the menu, and click “Add to Search Bar”.
  8. You’ll see a small popup window that will let you rename the search engine & customize the icon.  Make any changes, and click the “OK” button.
    Pew search box
  9. Voilà!  You have a quick way to check search the New York Times web site.
  10. Any time you want to switch which search you use, click the icon next to the Firefox search box, and choose the one you want to use.

So far I’ve added a search to Firefox for Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, Google News Archive Search, and (ironically), Firefox Search Add-ons.

If you want to delete or re-arrange the Firefox search engines, you can do that by clicking the icon next to the Firefox search box, and click “Manage Search Engines” on the menu.

Here’s hoping this Firefox add-on helps make your life easier!

Tags: add-ons, Firefox, search
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What are you?

March 9th, 2009 Stef Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

I heard a sentence at a training session a couple of weeks ago that I haven’t been able to get out of my head:

It’s easier to teach the technology than the passion about the organization.

I can’t help thinking about this sentiment in the context of Project Play.

What makes you passionate about your library? Is it the library’s stellar readers advisory? Its commitment as a community center? Its well-developed collection?

Find those passionate pieces. Look at your mission. These are the places you should look when thinking about implementing new technologies: What are you? What is your mission? What makes you great? What can make you even greater?

Look to the people who use these services to give you advice: Would they expect or use or appreciate a blog? Wiki? Twitter feed? Yes, of course you need to reach out beyond your existing audiences. But if you build something great and useful on top of what you already do well, you will do that.

Of course you can implement projects that others have done. But if they are outside of your mission or passion and are just done “to keep up with the Joneses”, they will fail. And you’ll be thinking that this new fangled technology stuff is just a waste of time.

Does this give you the freedom to just walk away from new technology? To not improve services or make them relevant to new users? No, of course not. You still need to be remaking, changing, evolving. You know this fact from collection development. Imagine if you just froze your collection today.  Your patrons would never get past #15 in the Janet Evanovich number series or reach the end of the alphabet with Sue Grafton.  What a crummy collection that would be!

You would never do this with your collection.  And you shouldn’t do it with technology. You can implement the technologies we talk about into your existing services to make them better. You already have the passion, and we hope Project Play will teach you about the technology.

No tag for this post.
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Gaming @ the Library

March 3rd, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Jeannie McBeth of the Oshkosh Public Library presented “Gaming @ the Library: the Whys, Wiis, and Hows Explained” on February 27th via GoToWebinar. The recording for this Play Date can be viewed on

And just so ya know, recordings of all of our past Play Dates are linked to from the Play Dates Archives page. Take a look and play more, learn more, and fear less!

Tags: gaming, Jeannie McBeth, Oshkosh, wii
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Play Date sign up

February 27th, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Our next Play Date is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25th at 10 a.m. online via GoToWebinar. Jean Anderson (SCLS) will be presenting “Exploring Google Reader.” Here’s the description:

During Project Play, we explored RSS and using Bloglines to collect and organize your RSS feeds (Week 3 of Semester 1). If you’re a Gmail or Google Docs user, you probably know about Google Reader. This program will explore all the features of Google Reader including subscribing to and organizing your feeds, sharing items with friends, and tips for using Google Reader (or any newsreader) effectively. If you want to refresh your memory on RSS and Newsreaders, check out the Common Craft video: RSS in Plain English.

If you’d like to attend this Play Date, please register. If you can’t make the Play Date, the recording will be posted after the session here on the blog. “See” you on the 25th!

Tags: Google Reader, RSS
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More with Flickr

February 27th, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Tana Elias from Madison Public Library presented “More with Flickr” on February 17th via GoToWebinar. The recording for this Play Date can be viewed on Tana did a great job, so be sure to take a look. And, just so ya know, recordings of all of our past Play Dates are linked to from the Play Dates Archive page. Check it out!

Tags:, Flickr, Madison, Tana Elias
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The New Media Ecosystem

February 25th, 2009 Beth Posted in Weekly Posts | No Comments »

The title for this post is taken from Lee Rainie’s January 14, 2009 Pew Internet & American Life Project presentation, “How Libraries Can Survive in the New Media Ecosystem.” I stumbled onto his presentation via the George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud podcast in which George Needham and Joan Frye Williams discuss “how libraries can survive.”

This podcast is well worth a listen! Click play below to see what Joan and George had to say about Rainie’s report.

So what does all this have to do with Project Play? It started me thinking about the original goals we set when we started the Project back in September 2007 (and planning for it way before that). Here’s what we wanted to accomplish:

  • expose staff to emerging technologies that they are hearing about and which many of their patrons are already using
  • encourage learning through play (with the focus on ”participation”, not necessarily on doing something ”right”)
  • empower and encourage people to take responsibility for their own lifelong learning
  • expand people’s knowledge and confidence
  • and eliminate fear of the unknown.

I think we’ve done a pretty good job reaching those goals, though each participant’s mileage may vary. Even though Project Play has been a success, I still feel like there’s a long way to go until libraries are where they should be in “the new media ecosystem.”

Here’s a quote from Rainie’s report:

“If you plopped a library down… 30 years from now… there would be cobwebs growing everywhere because people would look at it and wouldn’t think of it as a legitimate institution because it would be so far behind…” ~ Experienced library user

I’m sure none of us want that to happen, but we may be headed that way if we continue to lag behind other sites and services our patrons use elsewhere every day. People expect to interact, participate, collaborate, and communicate with us, just like they can on eBay, Amazon, YouTube, Facebook or a host of other sites. Are we making that possible via the tools we use to provide information to our communities? Are we inviting input or are we afraid of what they’ll say?

We’ve gone from only 46% of adults using the internet in the year 2000 to now 74%; 50% in 2000 owning a cell phone to now 82%; 0% connecting wirelessly to the internet to 62% now (see Rainie’s report). Are we providing resources in a format that can be accessed by a mobile and wireless population?

Rainie also offers several action items in his presentation that I think could be used as a plan for everyone participating in Project Play, as we consider how we can use the emerging technologies and tools we’ll be continuing to playing with:

  • Be findable. Be available - timelines are fading.
  • Think of yourself as a news node for information and interaction.
  • Think of yourself as a social network node for people looking for “friendsters.”
  • Think of yourself as an information hub — an aggregator and a linker to others who have useful, interesting material.
  • Experiment with Web 2.0 applications… Solicit feedback and show you are listening to responses.
  • Offer your good services to help people master new literacies.

Now that we’ve played more, learned more, and (hopefully) are fearing less, I hope we’ll take the next step. It’s a start to explore, but we need to keep moving forward by applying these tools in ways that will encourage our patrons to become engaged with our services.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m not saying to just apply tools for the sake of keeping up. I think they need to be used as solutions to problems, not as tools that become problems because they don’t serve any useful purpose other than making the library look hip. And technology won’t necessarily save you time or be easier to implement than traditional methods. However, many traditional services can be expanded to include new methods of sharing.

I recently found a cool project put together by the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library that I think does a fabulous job of using some of the tools we’ve talked about in Project Play to engage their patrons in a new way. Check out “Making History: Our Inauguration Day Video Diary.” Here’s what they did:

“On Inauguration Day, we set up a video camera in the Library rotunda and asked customers to create 2-5 minute testimonials capturing their immediate thoughts and reactions to the day’s events.

Over a 7-hour period, 55 people recorded their experiences and nearly 100 people have submitted written accounts (and illustrations!) to date. It is our hope that these voices will be of value to future students, teachers, historians and scholars interested in what Topekans had to say about this historic event as it unfolded in front of us.

We also streamed the Inauguration live via CNN/Facebook, which allowed for some random footage of the ceremony as it played out in the Library Rotunda.”

Here’s one of their videos:

What a great way to engage people at the library using some of the tools we’ve played with! And what a fabulous record of a momentous, historical event. I think they’ve done a great job of employing the action items listed by Rainie.

[Beth hopping off soapbox...]

So what about you?! How have you been applying what you’ve learned in Project Play at your library? Have you tried employing any Web 2.0 tools to your services? Do you completely disagree with what I’m posting today? :)  Add your thoughts in the comments!

Tags: engaging, George and Joan, libraries, media, mobile, Pew, Rainie, sharing, technology
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Productivity and Web 2.0

February 20th, 2009 Jean Posted in Weekly Posts | 1 Comment »

I’ve been reading a lot about productivity and organization lately. It seems like there’s never enough time in the day for everything you have to do – let alone for the things you want to do! How are you supposed to learn and play with these cool new 2.0 tools if you can’t find the time? A couple of books that I’ve been reading on this topic are Getting Things Done by David Allen and Upgrade Your Life by Gina Trapani. I’m sure there are many other productivity books out there – but I’m running out of time!

What does this have to do with web 2.0 tools, you ask? One of my personal goals this year is to learn to use more of the features of programs or equipment that I already have – like my Palm TX, Google Calendar, Firefox, etc. I’m hoping that this will improve my efficiency and productivity – and keep me from trying or buying new things that I find in my RSS feeds every day.

For today’s article, I’m going to focus on Firefox since that’s my default browser. How can your browser help you be more efficient, you ask? Well, by spending oodles of time searching through all the add-ons to find the ones that work for you! Well, not oodles - but if you subscribe to Lifehacker, you’ll find out about the best or newest ones.

How many of you start your day with a cup of coffee? show of hands, please… Thank you - that’s a lot of you! Well, I’m a Diet Coke girl myself, but I do have my morning coffee every day at work. After I turn on my computer, I open my browser and then open several tabs for websites that I use everyday (and often leave open all day) - Meebo, Gmail, LibraryThing, Evanced (our online calendar) and Passpack. Morning Coffee automates this process for me. I click on the coffee cup icon Morning Coffee in my toolbar and five different tabs open up ready for me to log in or sign in. And, since Firefox stores my passwords, I’m a click away from starting my day. (

Now that you’ve heard all about Morning Coffee, I suppose you want to know how to add and install them, too. It’s really easy, I promise! On your Firefox toolbar, go to the Tools tab and then down to Add-ons.

Clicking on Add-ons will open a window that lists the add-ons your currently have installed. To get to the extensions (another word for add-ons), click on Get Extension in the lower right corner. This will open a new tab in your browser for Firefox Add-ons. You can browse through all the add-ons or search for specific ones, like Morning Coffee.

After you find one you like, click on the Add to Firefox button and follow the instructions. You’ll have to restart your browser for new installations to take effect. And, note that some add-ons don’t play well together. Rather than installing a lot of add-ons at once, try adding one a day to make sure everything is working right.

Once you’ve installed the add-ons and restarted your browser, go back to the Tools tab and click on Add-ons. From here, click on the new add-on that you’ve installed and check out the options. For example, with Morning Coffee you’ll want to add links to the websites you want opened every day. You can also disable or uninstall any add-ons that aren’t working or you aren’t using. It’s that easy.

Now to go look for more add-ons…

Tags: add-ons, Firefox, LifeHacker
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Notes From a Twitter Newbie

February 13th, 2009 Joy Posted in Weekly Posts | 1 Comment »

Twitter BirdJust last week I started using Twitter — after participating in the December 2008 Play Date “The Social Library” — so I thought I’d share some of my experiences with you.

As Stef said in her post last week, “Sometimes it may seem that those of us on the Project Play team glide through the Web 2.0 world with no problems…” Well, I can tell you with Twitter I plunged in, floundered, treaded water, and am now enjoying the swim.  :-)  I hope sharing my experiences will encourage you to play more, learn more, and fear less!

What is Twitter?:

If you aren’t already familiar with Twitter from attending our December 2008 Play Date “The Social Library“, here’s the 411.  Twitter is…

  • a free service where you can broadcast very short messages (called “tweets”) — 140 characters maximum — to anyone who’s signed up to receive themTwitter logo
  • considered “micro-blogging”; besides being broadcast, messages also appear on a person’s profile page
  • a web site where you can read the tweets of those whose updates you’re following
  • a social networking service where you can reply and “direct message” those who are in your Twitter network

Why Would You Want to Use Twitter?: 

You might wonder if the status updates you’d provide would interest anyone, or feel cautious about retaining your privacy. So maybe you’d want to try it out by setting up an account for your library, instead of for yourself!  Here are some examples of libraries that are using Twitter to communicate with their customers:

How to Find People on Twitter:

TwitterThe first way I found people on Twitter was to visit the profile of the person who presented “The Social Library” Play Date presentation, Tasha Saecker.  On the panel showing the Twitter users she follows (see an example at right) , I hovered my mouse pointer over each icon, and if I recognized the name of a library notable, I clicked through to see the person’s Twitter profile and updates to see if I wanted to “follow” their updates.

So far, I’m finding that following agencies & publications to get library and technology news updates, like those from ALA, ALA TechSource, Library Journal, PC Magazine, and TechCrunch are working the best for me.  I’m not following so many people that the number of updates is overwhelming, and I’m seeing news updates that are relevant to my job.

Since then, I’ve found Twitter’s search engine handy for finding people with like-minded interests.

How to Use Twitter:

You can see a updates on a Twitter profile page — like the one for Library Journal — just by going to it like you would any web page.

And if you don’t want to set up a Twitter account, you can use your Bloglines or Google Reader account to subscribe to the RSS feed for a Twitter account.TwitterFox screenshot

But if you want to see tweets as frequently as they occur, I can recommend the Firefox add-on called TwitterFox.  I started using it on Monday, and I’m really liking it so far!

It sits in the Firefox status bar at the bottom of the screen, and lets you know when new tweets arrive. You can customize it so each new tweet pops up, or — if that’s too much of a distraction — just have it show the number count of unread tweets.

You can read the tweets right within TwitterFox — you don’t need to go to your Twitter page.  There’s even a small text window where you can update your Twitter status from TwitterFox.

The Rules:

In the words of David Pogue, in Twitter …

There are no rules, or at least none that apply equally well to everyone.

Twitter, in other words, is precisely what you want it to be. It can be a business tool, a teenage time-killer, a research assistant, a news source — whatever.

Your Experience:

If you try out Twitter, please leave a comment here to ask a question or share your experiences!

I’m on Twitter as windyfox, and I’m still learning.  :-)

Remember to play more, learn more, and fear less!

Helpful Resources:

Tags: add-ons, social networking, Twitter
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Traveling down the bumpy implementation road….

February 6th, 2009 Stef Posted in Weekly Posts | 1 Comment »

Sometimes it may seem that those of us on the Project Play team glide through the Web 2.0 world with no problems – every implementation is seamless, every project successful. Yeah, I wish!! :-) Let me tell you a story:

We recently moved to GoToWebinar for our online continuing education programs. It provides videos of the sessions in a well-known format (cool!). We don’t really have a way to stream videos from our web server (not so cool!) So, we turned to the Web 2.0 world for a solution, and found it in A great solution, but the road from “great idea!” to “great service!” was FILLED with potholes!! I won’t go into gory details of all of our problems, but let’s just say that we’d navigate around one pothole just to find another one on the other side. But we got through it, and are now well on our way to “great service!”.

Reflecting on this experience, I wanted to share with you some of the things that got us through. Maybe it’ll help when you hit a bumpy implementation road!

  • Listen and Learn: We couldn’t have started this project if we hadn’t heard that Beth Carpenter was using for a project she was doing. That gave us a great headstart – someone we know and trust had used this service.
  • Google liberally: Especially at the beginning….if you don’t know a term, google it! If you need a basic introduction to the topic, google it! You’ll find enough information to continue down the road.
  • Pool your knowledge: I know some stuff, our CE person Jean knows some stuff, and Mark Ibach (our resident video guy) knows some stuff. Together, we know LOTS of stuff. Pooling our knowledge, we were able to figure things out much more quickly.
  • Ask someone: There is a time to keep looking for answers, and then there is a time to turn to someone who has done it before. We reached that time pretty early in this project. I knew that Beth Carpenter had done some work with before, and we needed some help figuring out a video conversion package to use. We asked Beth, and quickly had a definitive answer.
  • Read the help: There were times when I could not, for the life of me, figure out what to do next. is intuitive, but not THAT intuitive. The help and FAQ was a lifesaver. I couldn’t have continued on without it.
  • Don’t worry about solving problems that don’t need to be solved: I wanted to do something a certain way. I looked in the documentation, googled it, and asked Jean if she knew how to do it. I could have spent the time to figure it out, but it was much quicker and less frustrating to just move on and do it another way. There are often alternatives in the web 2.0 world, and while persevering is important to a point, if you can figure out a detour, don’t be afraid to take it.
  • Don’t give up: We could have easily walked away, given up, decided that we could keep doing things the old way (or not at all!). But we didn’t….and we will now have a great new service for our member libraries.

What tips have you found to help with a bumpy implementation??  Share them with us in the comments!

Tags: videos
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WordPress and

January 28th, 2009 Beth Posted in Weekly Posts | 2 Comments »

Hiya! The Project Play team has decided to liven up the PP blog and use it for more than just posts about the Play Dates, so we’ll be making weekly posts from here on out about more cool 2.0 tools to play with or follow-up info on past topics. I’d like to kick things off by talking about WordPress.

If you can stretch your mind way back to Week 2 of Semester 1, you might recall that was the week we learned about blogging and set up our Project Play blogs in Blogger. WordPress is another free blogging site, similar to Blogger. You can have your blog(s) hosted by them for free or you can download WordPress and install it if you want to run it on your own web server.

Why am I telling you about WordPress if you already have a Blogger blog set up? Because I’m a geek, and I think it’s fun to play around with different tools so I can see which ones I prefer. I like WordPress because it has more themes, more extensions, and is constantly being developed by the online community. AND! They recently added to their arsenal. Need how-to help with getting your WordPress blog started? Take a look at their How To “help and tutorials for beginner and expert alike.”I’m a visual learner, so access to videos on everything from organizing to publishing to set-up to themes and more is fantastic.

Just for fun, take a look at this video on Gravatars -  What are they and why you should get one:

So FWIW, WordPress is a fun blogging tool. Play around with it or stick with Blogger - you’ll find the one that works best for you! Now excuse me, I gotta go make my gravatar…

Tags: Blogger, blogging, gravatar, videos, WordPress,
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Play Date Signup Redux

January 27th, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Our “More with Flickr” Play Date with Tana Elias has been rescheduled to February 17th at 2 p.m. If you hadn’t signed up for the session that was canceled last week, sign up on GoToWebinar now. Here’s the program description as a reminder:

Expand your Flickr knowledge with an overview of Flickr changes in the last year. Learn how to make the most of your library’s Flickr account (or find some compelling reasons to sign up with Flickr) including… customization options, badges, easy photo editing, Flickr time-saving utilities, behind-the-scenes manipulation of dates and viewing permissions, and Flickr’s new video storage.

Discover differences between a free and Pro account, and explore legal ramifications of Flickr for libraries - including questions about photo copyright and photo permissions.

It’s also time to sign up for our regularly scheduled February Play Date, “Gaming @ the Library: The Whys, Wiis, and Hows Explained,” which will be held on February 27th at 10 a.m. Here’s what’s in store for that session:

If you’re unsure of the role gaming has in libraries, or if you want to start new game programs at your library but don’t know how to go about it, attend this session to get answers as well as basic & practical tips.

Jeannie McBeth of Oshkosh Public Library will talk about the gamut of gaming opportunities in libraries–from board games to Wii, and from kids to seniors. Join us to learn about libraries as the setting for gaming, playing, and learning!

You can sign up for this program here.

Both of these Play Dates feature new guest speakers! We’re thankful that Tana and Jeannie were willing to give it a go, and we’re excited about being able to offer the Play Dates via GoToWebinar. GoToWebinar is much more robust than OPAL, so we’ll be able to do more live demos of tools rather than having to be limited to screen shots.

Hope you’ll join us and learn from the expertise of some fantastic Wisconsin librarians!

Tags: Flickr, gaming, GoToWebinar, wii
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Play Date sign up

January 5th, 2009 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Our next Play Date is scheduled for Friday, January 23 at 10 a.m. online in OPAL. The topic will be “More with Flickr,” and we’ll be welcoming Tana Elias from the Madison Public Library as our guest speaker. Here’s the description:

Expand your Flickr knowledge with an overview of Flickr changes in the last year. Learn how to make the most of your library’s Flickr account (or find some compelling reasons to sign up with Flickr) including… customization options, badges, easy photo editing, Flickr time-saving utilities, behind-the-scenes manipulation of dates and viewing permissions, and Flickr’s new video storage.

Discover differences between a free and Pro account, and explore legal ramifications of Flickr for libraries - including questions about photo copyright and photo permissions.

If you’d like to attend this online Play Date please register on the SCLS web site, so we’ll know how many people to expect. If you can’t make the Play Date, the content will be posted here on the blog, so you’ll be able to view it at your leisure.

“See” you there!

Tags: badges, copyright, Flickr, permissions, videos
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Project Play wins Webbies Award!

January 5th, 2009 Beth Posted in Miscellaneous | No Comments »

Webbies logoThis in from Joy Schwarz, Wisconsin Library Association’s Media & Technology Section 2008 Chair:

Congratulations!  It’s my pleasure to inform you that Project Play has won the 2008 Media and Technology Section’s Webbies award in the “Best Reference Web Site” category.

Project Play was nominated for a Webbies award in this category by Mark Arend.

MATS Webbies award winners in all categories will soon be posted on the MATS web site, and
announced on Wisconsin listervs.

Congratulations again, and thank you for your contribution to excellence in Wisconsin web site design!

Thanks, Mark, for the nomination, and thanks to Joy and MATS for the award. Yay Project Play!

Tags: awards, MATS, Webbies Award, WLA
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The Social Library

December 23rd, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | 1 Comment »

Tasha Saecker, director of the Menasha Public Library, presented “The Social Library” on December 19th in OPAL. The recording for this Play Date, including the slides, chat, and audio, can be viewed here. You can also view the slides only on Slideshare.

Tags: Delicious, FriendFeed, library, Menasha Public Library, social, Tasha Saecker, Twitter
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Play Date Sign Up

December 2nd, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Our next Play Date is scheduled for Friday, December 19th at 10 a.m. online in OPAL. The topic will be “The Social Library.” Here’s the description:

Come and play with some of the hot social networking tools, including Twitter, FriendFeed and Delicious. Tasha Saecker, director of the Menasha Public Library, will speak about the impact of having your library involved in the new social web.

If you’d like to attend this online Play Date please register on the SCLS web site, so we’ll know how many people to expect. If you can’t make the Play Date, the content will be posted here on the blog so you’ll be able to go through it at your leisure.

“See” you on the 19th!

Tags: Delicious, FriendFeed, social web, Twitter
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The Wonderful World of Widgets

November 21st, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Beth and Joy presented “The Wonderful World of Widgets” on November 21st in OPAL. The recording for this Play Date, including the slides, chat, and audio, can be viewed here.  Our slides are included below for quick links to the tools we discussed.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to help!

Tags: Google Docs, widgets
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WLA 2K8 presentation

November 6th, 2008 Beth Posted in Presentations | 2 Comments »

Beth, Joy, and Stef made a presentation about Project Play at the Wisconsin Library Association annual conference on Thursday, November 6th in Middleton, Wisconsin. Here’s the program description:

Project Play was a very successful Library 2.0 learning project among three library systems during 2007-08. Learn from the coordinators how it worked, what library workers learned from participating, and how your library can successfully replicate the project.

Thanks to all who attended and participated in the program! For those of you who couldn’t make it, here are our slides:

And, as promised, here are some videos and links to some of the resources we covered in our program (in the order they appeared in our slides).

Learning 2.0
The original program started by Helene Blowers when she was at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. This also led to Learning 2.1 - a continuation of their project.

“Yes, and…” attitude
A post on the Innovative Business blog.

Seth Godin video on curiosity

Creative Commons
Learn about the different Creative Commons licenses.Learning 2.0 Throughout the World
A Google map showing the locations of Learning 2.0 replications across the world. Project Play is included!

Racine Public Library: Adventures in Technology
A Project Play replication.

Common Craft Show
An excellent source of videos that offer “explanations in plain english.” Subscribe to their site in your RSS reader, so you’ll never miss a new video release from them!

Collaboration tool - share documents, messages, to do lists, and writeboards.

Free blogging tool. Can load the open source software on your web server or have them host your site for you.

Google Docs
Project Play used a Google Docs spreadsheet to track participants’ progress.

Google Docs forms
Free and easy way to create your own online registration form; sample form & sample auto-generated spreadsheet.

Google Reader or Bloglines
RSS readers were used to subscribe to participants’ blogs in order to track their progress.

A free podcast tool. Use any phone to call your channel and save a recording.

To collaborate via conference call.

Planners used this free tool to schedule meetings and conference calls.

Café Press
Upload your logo or original artwork and create products you can sell or use as incentives. Check out the Project Play store!

Free logo generators
From Mandarin Design.

Sample tracking spreadsheet
In Google Docs. We would update to reflect each participant’s progress & they could view it to see where they were in the project.

An online password manager. Promote a tool like this early in your program to prevent password overload.

Project Player Testimonials video

OPAL and Play Dates archive
Online meeting room where participants interact via voice-over-IP, text chat, and synchronized browsing.

Additional links of interest

Ten Tips About 23 Things by Helene Blowers
Tips from the originator of the Learning 2.0 program.

Used to create “Questions” slide word cloud in the slide presentation.

Used to create the Einstein image at the end of the slide presentation.

Blogs/sites to subscribe to that will help you stay informed about Web 2.0 and emerging technologies and their impact on libraries:

Questions? Our contact info and IM widgets are on the Contact Us page.

Tags: Basecamp, Cafe Press, Common Craft, Doodle, FreeConference, Gabcast, Google Docs, Helene Blowers, Learning2.0, Passpack, presentation, Racine Public Library, Seth Godin, testimonials, txt2pic, WLA08, Wordle, WordPress, YouTube
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Play Date Sign Up

October 31st, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Our next Play Date is scheduled for Friday, November 21st at 10 a.m. online in OPAL. The topic will be “The Wonderful World of Widgets.” Here’s the description:

Learn how to liven up your web sites and blogs with portable chunks of code called widgets. There are loads of sizes and types, and they are incredibly easy to use. Just copy and paste! Joy Schwarz and Beth Carpenter will show you how to find them and why you should consider using them.

If you’d like to attend the online Play Date please register on the SCLS web site, so we’ll know how many people to expect. If you can’t make it to the Play Date, the content will be posted here on the blog so you’ll be able to go through it at your leisure.

“See” you on the 21st!

Tags: widgets
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Play Date: Gadgets — Cool Toys…and more!

October 24th, 2008 Stef Posted in Play Dates | 1 Comment »

NOTE: This blog post provides an outline of the October 24th Play Date. For more details, please view the recording. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments or contact your system staff. We’ll be happy to help!

Gadgets and transformations

Sometimes, we think of the gadgets around us as just that – gadgets. But these devices are involved in interesting transformations in how we work and play. This Play Date explored some of these transformations, along with a brief introduction to a few gadgets.

The Gadgets

The Play Date focused on 3 gadgets:

  • The “Classic” iPod
  • The iPod Touch
  • The Amazon Kindle

The Transformations

Along with the discussion of each gadget, trends related to that gadget were explored:

The “Classic” iPod: Digital audio
The iPod is just one example of the wide variety of gadgets used to play portable music and other audio. This capability is almost ubiquitous on portable devices – cell phones, Palms, and other devices can all play audio. This trend will have an impact on how libraries develop collections and possibly how we provide reference service.

How to learn more about this trend:

  • Play with OverDrive. Learn what formats are available, how they work, what devices they work with, how to transfer titles to portable devices, etc.
  • Play with podcasts: To get started with podcasts, check out the week from Project Play on the topic. (There’s a great video linked from this site that explains podcasting very well). Think about how you could possibly use podcasts as an information resource.
  • Pay attention to information about digital audio when you hear about it on the news: what does it mean for libraries?

The iPod Touch: Touch screens

The iPod Touch introduced a new way to interact with gadgets. The intuitive touch screen makes it easy to make selections, manipulate pictures, and more. This type of touch interface has spread to other devices. Microsoft has introduced Microsoft Surface, an interactive table top computer. HP has also introduced a touch screen computer designed for the home, called the TouchSmart.

The iPod Touch: Mobile everything

As mobile devices become more connected and have more sophisticated web browsers, they are becoming tools to use for just about everything. As library staff, we need to recognize that the person that appears to be “playing” on their cell phone may be typing a document or doing research on the internet. We need to shift our mindset about gadgets and what people do with them.

Learning more about this trend:

  • Check out David Lee King’s great blog post about our attitude toward gadgets
  • Keep your eyes open for new library services that cater to mobile users and try them out as if you were a patron. Even if it isn’t something that would be helpful to your library, it’s always good to know about the services other libraries are providing.
  • Think about what types of information people who are mobile may want. Could we use the Apple Applications store as a resource or as a place to refer people to?
  • Check out the Library Technology Report “On the Move with the Mobile Web.”

The Amazon Kindle: Content without a computer

In the past (and in many cases in the present!), to get content to a portable device, you would purchase it, download it to your computer, and then transfer the content to the device through a USB connection.

Some mobile devices, like the Kindle and the iPod Touch/iPhone, now give customers the freedom to purchase and download content to the device without needing a computer.

The Amazon Kindle: The mainstreaming of e-content readers

At least 3 or 4 new e-content readers will be on the scene close to the end of 2008, all with unique capabilities:

  • It is rumored that a new Kindle will be released early next year. The biggest changes are in the design: the scroll wheel is replaced with a joystick, and the device has gotten sleeker.
  • Sony has just released the PRS-700, which uses a touch screen for moving from page-to-page and for menu functions. It also has a built-in reading light.
  • The iRex Digital Reader 1000S is a business entry into the e-book market. It’s focus is on documents – editing, saving, reading. It has a larger display than other e-book readers.
  • The Readius, which is not yet launched, is probably the most unique new entry. It is the first e-book reader to use a roll-up screen. The device is extremely small when closed, but still has a good size screen for reading.

Learning more about the Kindle:

  • Check out Amazon’s promotional video for more details on the device.
  • Educate yourself about what formats will work and won’t work on the Kindle. When that first patron asks, “Do you have content for my Kindle?”, you’ll know the answer. (Here’s a hint to get you started: netLibrary and OverDrive titles will NOT work on the Kindle. )
  • Keep an eye on how libraries are using Kindles. Right now, there is a legal question about if libraries can circulate Kindles without violating the Amazon license agreement. Some libraries are already circulating them, anyway. It may be worth thinking about such a service, if it’s something that your patrons would be interested in.

The recording of the October 24th Play Date gives lots more details on these trends and gadgets.


Fun Extra:

If you watch the presentation from the PlayDate, you might notice a Bob Dylan image included on one of the slides. You can make your own fun Bob Dylan message “Subterranean Homesick Blues” style. Watch mine, if you’d like. (As you might notice, it’s actually an advertisement for a “Greatest Hits” album,but it’s still fun!)


Tags: gadgets
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Play Date Sign Up

October 10th, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Our next Play Date is scheduled for Friday, October 24th at 10 a.m. online in OPAL. The topic will be “Tech Gadgets - Cool Toys… and More!” with Stef Morrill, South Central Library System Associate Director. Here’s the description:

Come learn about some cool gadgets and why they are important. Not just cool tech toys, gadgets are indicators of trends that are shaping our media and technology world. Stef Morrill will share information about various gadgets and their impact.

If you’d like to attend the online Play Date please register on the SCLS web site, so we’ll know how many people to expect. If you can’t make it to the Play Date, the content will be posted here on the blog so you’ll be able to go through it at your leisure.

“See” you on the 24th!

Tags: OPAL, password manager, Play Dates, sign up

Tags: gadgets, tech toys, trends
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Play Date: Password Management Made Easy

September 29th, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | 2 Comments »

NOTE: This blog post provides the information included in the Play Date on September 26th. If you missed the Play Date, you can view the recording or read the post below. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments or contact your system staff. We’ll be happy to help!

Password Management Made Easy

Keeping track of all of the user IDs and passwords you end up with when playing with online tools can be taxing, to say the least. But there are free online tools available that can help you not only track this information, but also help you log in to your secure accounts more quickly. Examples include, but aren’t limited to, Passpack, Clipperz, and Passbay.

For this Play Date, we’ll be focusing on Passpack. After playing around with several free tools, I felt Passpack was by far the easiest to use and had the nicest interface. It was also named “The Best Free Software” in February 2008 by PC Magazine, and there’s lots more buzz about it in other news.

Passpack Basics

(Rather than duplicate a lot of the screenshots from my presentation in this blog post, I’ll rely on you to either view the OPAL recording or try it out yourself.)

Here’s some basic info about Passpack:

  • you can save up to 100 passwords for free (you can pay for more)
  • store any account information you like — registration numbers, notes, Frequent Flyer miles, passwords, whatever you want to keep private, but NOT financial data!
  • you can access your account any time, any place, from any computer connected to the Internet OR use their desktop or offline version, so you can access your data without the Internet
  • there is no software to install — it’s all web-based
  • Passpack is secure and cannot read your private data
  • you can import, export, and backup your passwords
  • you can create disposable logins to use when traveling and/or logging in on public or shared computers

Signing Up

To set up a Passpack account, go to and click on the red Sign Up badge in the upper right corner. Passpack offers several options for creating your user ID:

Follow the instructions for your choice of the above options to create your account. You’ll create a Packing Key the first time you log in, which is what will keep your passwords secret.

Getting Started - The Home Page

Once you’re logged in, the Home page will display by default (but you can change this later). This gives you information about your account, like how many entries you have saved, if you have confirmed your email address, and what features you have enabled. Help videos and a FAQ link are also included.


To access your passwords or to begin adding passwords, click on the Passwords tab.

Saving Passwords

Saving passwords couldn’t be easier. Just click on the + Add New button! or “Click to add a password.”  A form will open for you to fill in, asking for:

entry detail

  • Title (used to alpha list your accounts, for example: Flickr, United, Wordpress, etc.)
  • User ID (your username for the site you’re saving)
  • Email (the email address associated with that site)
  • Password (the password for that site - Passpack will generate secure passwords for you!)
  • Link (the URL for that site)
  • Tags (keywords you want to use to access this site)
  • Notes (any additional info about this login you would like saved with it)

Click OK to add your new password. When you’ve added a new password, a red Save All button will appear. This is a handy reminder to you to save your info before walking away from your computer.

You can also import passwords already saved in another program. They must be either comma or tab delimited values or in one of the formats included on the Import Passwords page in Passpack. And if you’d like to save your passwords outside of Passpack, too, you can export them to comma or tab separated values or a printable HTML table. You can also backup your data to your computer, so that you can restore from a backup if you ever need to.

The Passwords Page

Your passwords will be listed alphabetically by entry title on the Passwords page, but if you like to access your info in different ways, you can do that, too. You can search your passwords by keyword in the search box at the upper left on the Passwords page. You can also find your passwords by tags or include them in a list of your favorites for quick access.

password window

The GO column provides a quick link to the URL you included for each entry.

tag cloudENTRY TITLE is what you named each account you saved. I usually make my entry title the name of the site I want to access. This is what you would click on to edit or delete an entry.

The ICONS show you what information you saved in each entry: username, email, password, URL,tags, and notes. You can tell Passpack not to show the icons in the settings if they aren’t helpful to you.

The TAGS column shows you which tags you associated with each entry. You can also find a tag cloud of all your entries to the right of this info on the Passwords page, and you can use the cloud to navigate through your entries. Great for quick access to similar sites!

The FAVORITES & SECURITY column tells you if an entry has been saved as a favorite. You can save the sites you access most often as a favorite by clicking on the star in this column. You can then tell Passpack to only open your favorites upon logging in or simply click on the favorites star to the right to supply your favorites list.

I keep all of my logins at maximum security, but you can change their security level if you so choose by clicking on the lock in this column.

Changing Some Settings

Once you’ve set up your account, there are some settings I would recommend you take care of before saving your passwords. You can access your account settings by clicking on the Settings link in the upper right portion of the window. This is where you would change your user ID, Pass, Packing Key, or even delete your account. But let’s start with Preferences.

Packing and Saving

Tell Passpack how long you want your account to remain open if left inactive. For example, if you are using Passpack but then walk away from your computer, how long would you want your account to remain open and visible before locking up?

You can also set Passpack to automatically save any changes you’ve made when it locks up, rather than having to save things manually.

Startup Options

Tell Passpack what page you would like to go to when you sign in. Home is the default, but I prefer going right to my Passwords to save time.

Select an option for what Passpack should do next. I recommend “Unpack everything - then turn on 1 Click Login.”

Now let’s change one Security option under Welcome Message.

Setting a personal welcome message will help protect you from phishing attacks. Tell Passpack YES, you want it to show the screen with 8 boxes during sign in (this may be set already as the default). You can also tell Passpack to remember you on this computer, but only do that if your computer isn’t shared with someone else.


Once Passpack’s auto-login feature is activated, you’ll be able to click a Passpack It! button in your browser to login to any site you’ve saved a password for. This feature will save you loads of time logging into secure sites. If you haven’t changed your settings to have Auto-login turned on at start up, here’s how to activate it:

  1. Click on the down arrow by Auto-login in the upper right portion of the window.
  2. Click on “Turn it on” if it says “1 Click Login is off.”
  3. Click on the down arrow by Auto-login again.
  4. Click on “Install your button” to add the Passpack It! button to your browser.
  5. You will either be able to drag the button to your links toolbar or add it to your favorites, depending on which browser you are using.

NOTE: To use your Passpack It! button, you will need to be logged in to Passpack already. It’s easy to keep Passpack open, while navigating to other sites in another tab in your browser.

Lock it up! or Logout

If you’re walking away from your computer for a time, you will want to use the Lock it up! button in the upper right corner of the window. This will lock your account, but keeps Passpack open so you can login quickly when you return.

If you’re done using Passpack, be sure to Logout with the link in the upper left corner of the window.

More Information

Passpack is constantly developing their product, so some of the screenshots in my OPAL slides and this post may become quickly outdated. Their site includes lots of good info and help videos (though I wish the videos were larger and moved more slowly), so be sure to explore that for more information. There’s even a blog where you can keep up on their latest developments. If you have additional questions about the info shared above, please post them in the comments or contact me.

Fun Extra

I’ve been missing the fun extras we used to include in Semester 1 and 2, so I’m reinstating them! Try out for some fun image generating. Upload your own photograph or choose from their huge list of templates. Here’s my attempt:

Einstein on Project Play

Later ‘gaters!

Tags: Clipperz, Einstein, login, Passbay, Passpack, password manager, tags, txt2pic
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Play Date Sign Up

September 12th, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Our next Play Date is scheduled for Friday, September 26th at 10 a.m. online in OPAL. The topic will be “Password Management Made Easy.” Here’s the description:

Which email address did I register with at Google Docs? Did I use the same login and password for pbwiki? I can’t remember my username for YouTube! Arg! If this sounds like you, sign up for this Play Date. Learn how to solve all of your online account woes with Passpack, a secure, online password manager you can access from any web computer. If you use a different password manager you’d like to recommend, be ready to share the details with other Project Players. See you on OPAL!

If you’d like to attend the online Play Date please register on the SCLS web site, so we’ll know how many people to expect. If you can’t make it to the Play Date, the content will be posted here on the blog so you’ll be able to go through it at your leisure.

“See” you on the 26th!

Tags: password manager
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Play Date: More on LibraryThing

August 22nd, 2008 Jean Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

This blog post is a follow-up to the Play Date on August 22nd. If you missed the play date, you can view the complete recording. Note that portions of the program visited LibraryThing while I was logged in. If you’re viewing the recording, portions may not be visible because of this. In addition to the recording, I created a powerpoint presentation with screenshots of all the features discussed during the play date.

This play date expands on information presented during Week 7 of Project Play, Semester 1. If you’re not already familiar with LibraryThing, you can get up to speed by doing the exercises published there.

If you have any questions along the way, be sure to contact us – we’re happy to help!

The Play Date covered the following areas of LibraryThing: Member Home Pages, Editing Your Tags, Early Reviewer Program, and LibraryThing Local.

Member Home Pages

Until recently, when you signed into LibraryThing, you were sent automatically to your personal library. This was fine - but not very dynamic. On June 21, LibraryThing debuted Member Home Pages and Tim Spalding, LT founder and developer, posted about this new feature on the LT blog.

Since June, there have been a few upgrades to the Member Home Pages. Now, you can customize your page by choosing and customizing the elements that you want to see. Here’s the beginning of my LT home page:



Editing your tags

Editing your tags is much easier! The Tag View was announced on April 29, 2008. If you click on the Tags tab, you’ll get a list of all your tags in alphabetical order (or you can change to frequency, if you wish). I like the alphabetical list as it makes my typos or other mistakes readily apparent. I can see if I’ve misspelled a word or used YA Fiction instead of YA or Audio book instead of audiobook. This allows you to have consistency in your tags. Editing a tag is as easy as using your mouse to select a tag. Edit and Tag page are the two options that appear. Click on edit to bring up a window and make your changes - be sure to choose save when you’re done. Clicking on Tag page takes you to a page with more information about that tag. Here are some of my tags:


There’s also a power edit option when working on your catalog. Use this feature if you want to remove or add tags in batches. This is under Your Library Tab. There are also many options for how your library appears to you and others. Play around with the styles to come up with one that works for you. I have one that I use for printing - with no covers and just the basic information.

Early Reviewer Program

This is a really exciting program - and very popular! You sign up for the Early Reviewer program, agree to write a review of a book, and you might get an advance copy for free from the publisher. Publishers have often given away advance copies of their books - you may have picked up some at a conference like ALA or PLA. It’s always fun to get these before they’re in the book store. How this works is this: publishers let LT know what books they have available and then LT matches the books to LT Early Reviewer member libraries based on a very secret algorithm. Much more discussion of this can be found in the Early Reviewer Group. Having lots of books and reviews in your library increase your chances of getting an ER book (I’ve gotten four, so far).

You also need to write a review of the book you receive in order to continue to be eligible to receive future books. Here’s how: from your home page - or your library, choose the book you want to write a review of and click on the pencil icon to edit the record. When the record comes up, look for the “Your Review” (see below for an example) section and write your review. There’s also a place for comments and private comments farther down on the screen.



LibraryThing Local

LibraryThing Local is another relatively new feature of LT. It appeared in March of this year and now has well over 33,000 venues - that’s in 5 months! And, 22,310 of those are libraries! Read the blog posting from March of this year just three days after LT Local debuted to see how LT Local took off.

Check to see if your library is there - and then look to see who added it. Was it you or someone who works at your library? Probably not, chances are it was a patron who uses LibraryThing and wanted to be sure their library was included. This is a place to add events for your library - you do have to be a LT member to add venues and events. What a great way to promote events to fellow book and library lovers!


More information

LibraryThing is always coming up with new features. One way to keep up with all the new things is to subscribe to one or both of their blogs. Alternatively, check out the Announcement and From the Blogs sections on your home page.

A couple of additional LibraryThing features of interest: Google Books in LibraryThing and A Million Free Covers from LibraryThing.

If you have any questions about LibraryThing, add a comment to this post or contact me – I’m happy to help!

Tags: LibraryThing, tags
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Play Date Sign Up

August 6th, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

 Our next Play Date is scheduled for Friday, August 22nd at 10 a.m. online in OPAL. The topic will be “More on LibraryThing.” Here’s the description:

You learned about the basics of LibraryThing in Project Play. Join the Pandalibrarian (aka Jean Anderson) to learn more about LibraryThing, including editing your tags, writing reviews, receiving advance copies of books, LibraryThing Local, and much more!

Since this is a continuation of an earlier topic, be sure to do Week 7 of Semester 1 so you’re up to speed on the topic before the OPAL session. If you’d like to attend the online Play Date please register on the SCLS web site, so we’ll know how many people to expect. If you can’t make it to the Play Date, the content will be posted here on the blog so you’ll be able to go through it at your leisure.

“See” you on the 22nd!

Tags: LibraryThing
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Play Date: More on Google Apps

July 25th, 2008 Stef Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

This blog post is a follow-up to the Play Date on July 25th. If you missed the play date, you can view the complete recording.

This play date expands on information presented during Week 2 of Project Play Semester 2. If you’re not already familiar with Google Apps, you can first get up to speed by doing the exercises published there.

If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us – we’re happy to help!

The play date covered three areas: iGoogle, Google Calendar, and three Google Docs tips and tricks.

You know the classic, clean Google search screen? Well, you can replace it with a customized Google start page called iGoogle. Here is a picture of my iGoogle page:


You can change the look of the page (new headers, new colors) by choosing a new “theme.”

Then you can add “Google gadgets” to your iGoogle page. These are small applications that present information or interact with websites. Some examples include:

  • Updated headlines from CNN or other news sources.
  • Customized information based on your location (movie times, weather, etc.).
  • Customized information from your accounts in different services (Google calendar, Gmail, Remember the milk, etc.).
  • Driving directions, dictionary searches,and other information through gadgets that interact with web pages.

Some libraries have created iGoogle gadgets for searching their online catalogs. Other libraries have made gadgets with lists of their databases, books of the day, and more. Search the word “library” in the iGoogle Gadget Directory for more examples.

If you have a Google Account, you already have an iGoogle page! To get started, check out the getting started information provided by Google.

Google Calendar
Google Calendar, as you might guess, is a Google app that lets you keep calendars of events. Some of the nifty features of Google Calendar are:

  • You can choose to keep your calendar private, but you can choose to share it with select people. Or, if you’d like, you can share your calendar with the whole world.
  • You can add public calendars to your calendar. Some public calendars are created by Google (US Holidays, for example). Other calendars are made public by individuals or organizations.
  • You can view as many calendars as you’d like on one interface. Here’s an example of my calendar with four calendars included:


As you can see, each calendar is color-coded to make it easy to distinguish one calendar from another.

Some libraries have created Google Calendars for their public events. These calendars can then be used in two ways:

  • Patrons with Google Calendar can add the library’s public calendar to their Google calendar. In the picture above, I’ve added the Carlstadt, N.J. teen calendar to my Google Calendar (it’s the blue one with tye-dying).
  • You can embed the same calendar into your library’s website. Check out the Carlstadt, N.J. teen page for an example. When the calendar is updated in Google, it’ll also be updated on the website.

To get started with Google Calendar, see Google’s Get Started help topic.

Google Docs tips and tricks

Here’s a couple of new and interesting things in Google Docs:

  • Google recently added more support for PDFs to Google Docs. It’s now possible to import a PDF file into Google Docs, which can be handy if you want to share PDFs with multiple people. Google also supports exporting anything in Google Docs as a PDF, which can be a handy way to create a PDF file.
  • When I did the first Google Docs Project Play lesson, I didn’t think the formatting was easy enough for more complex documents like resumes. But a new feature, templates, make these sorts of documents easy to create. Similar to Word and Excel templates, the Google Doc templates format documents for you. All you have to do is complete the content. Go to the Google Docs Templates page to see what’s available.
  • Did you know that you can create forms that can be completed online using Google Docs? It’s pretty amazing! Using Google Spreadsheets, you create the form. The link for the form can be emailed or shared, or the entire form can be embedded into a webpage. When people complete the form, responses go directly into a Google spreadsheet. No fuss, no muss! This video from May 2008 can get you started. However, some of the features have changed since then, so you might want to search in the Google Docs Help Center for more information.

More information

You can keep up with changes in Google Docs by subscribing The Official Google Docs Blog and The Official Google Blog.

If you use iGoogle, there is a nifty Google Tip of the Day gadget that will help you learn more.

If you have questions about Google Docs, add a comment to this post or contact me – I’m happy to help!

Tags: Google apps, Google Docs
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Play Date Sign Up

July 11th, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

Our next Play Date is scheduled for Friday, July 25th at 10 a.m. online in OPAL. The topic will be “More on Google Apps.” Since this is a continuation of an earlier topic, be sure to do Week 2 of Semester 2 so you’re up to speed on the topic before the OPAL session. If you’d like to attend the online Play Date please register on the SCLS web site, so we’ll know how many people to expect. If you can’t make it to the Play Date, the content will be posted here on the blog so you’ll be able to go through it at your leisure.

“See” you on the 25th!

Tags: Google apps
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Play Date: Do More With

June 30th, 2008 Joy Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

This blog post is a follow-up to our first Play Date, which was held online in OPAL on June 27, 2008.

The subject of this Play Date is a continuation of a topic we covered in Week 8 of Project Play Semester 1. If you’re not already familiar with, you can first get up to speed by doing the exercises published there.

Note: We had technical difficulties recording the OPAL session so we don’t have an MP3 file of what was said during the hour, but you can view the session’s PowerPoint slides at

If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us — we’re happy to help!

Bookmarks: Adding Notes

Whenever you set a bookmark, you can use its Notes field to add a description (“free”), a reminder (“Use this at the next committee meeting”), important highlights (“This article covers…”), etc. There’s a maximum of 255 characters (including spaces) in the Notes field, which equals about 50 words.

creating a note in a bookmark

Bookmarks: Privatizing

If you want to save a bookmark, but don’t want to share it, you can enable the Privatize feature. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click on Settings
  2. Click on Private Saving
  3. Click in checkbox
  4. Click the Change Setting button

set up privatization

Now you’re set up to set private bookmarks; when bookmarking a page, click the Do Not Share box.

Any privatized bookmarks will be visible only to you, while you’re logged in to your account.

how to privatize a bookmark

Tags: Rename

After you’ve added bookmarks to your account, you might notice you’ve created tags that are near-duplicates of each other, like “library” and “libraries”. Use the Rename function, and every bookmark with the old tag will be changed to the new tag.

how to rename tags

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of your tag list or tag cloud
  2. Click on Rename
  3. Choose a tag, and type in a new tag name
  4. Click the Replace Tags button

how to rename tags

Tags: Bundle

Bundles are a way to arrange your tags into groups. For example, if you have the tags “training”, “workshops”, and “courses”, you can group these together into a bundle called “CE”. A good example of bundled tags is

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of your tag list or tag cloud
  2. Click on Bundle Tags
  3. To create a new bundle, type the name of the bundle and click Create
  4. Entering tags you want in the bundle by clicking on the tag cloud, or by typing tags directly into the text box
  5. Click the Save Changes button

how to bundle tags

Tags with a red highlight are in the current bundle; tags with a red outline are in a different bundle; and tags with no highlight are unbundled.

Social Aspects: Sharing Your Bookmarks

Use the “for:” tag to share a bookmark with another user, or share bookmarks among your multiple accounts.

For example, tag a bookmark with the “for:winniefox” tag if you want to share it with me, or “for:owlsbeth” if you want to share it with Beth Carpenter. The person with whom you’re sharing a bookmark with will see it in their “Links For You” page. The link to it, at the top of any page on, becomes bold when you receive a new bookmark, so you’ll know to check your links when you get a new one. Your “Links For You” page is not visible to other users. It can be fun to send & receive bookmarks!

Get details at

Social Aspects: Subscribe to Others’ Bookmarks

There are 2 ways to do this:

1. Use your newsreader (like Google Reader or Bloglines) to subscribe to the RSS feed for a tag (like or someone’s bookmarks (like

2. Use the Subscription function to keep track of your favorite tags. After you add a tag to your subscriptions, watches for everyone’s bookmarks saved with that tag, and delivers them to your subscriptions page.

Research Aspects

Using to research a topic is one way to get up to speed on a topic, and find out what’s popular (at least among users). You can subscribe to the RSS feed of any tag to keep up on what’s new.

Explore even more things you can do with

Use these resources to continue your exploration of

I hope this Play Date gives you lots of ideas for ways you can do more with!

If you have questions about, add a comment to this post or contact me — I’m happy to help!

Tags: Delicious, RSS, social bookmarking, tagclouds, tags
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Play Date Sign Up

June 18th, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | No Comments »

We’re ramping up to start Project Play again, with our first Play Date scheduled for Friday, June 27th at 10 a.m. online in OPAL. The topic will be “More about” Since this is a continuation of an earlier topic, be sure to do Week 8 of Semester 1 so you’re up to speed on the topic before the OPAL session. If you’d like to attend the online Play Date please register on the SCLS web site, so we’ll know how many people to expect. If you can’t make it to the Play Date, the content will be posted here on the blog so you’ll be able to go through it at your leisure.

“See” you on the 27th!

Tags: Delicious
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We’re not dead yet

April 25th, 2008 Beth Posted in Play Dates | 4 Comments »

Thanks to everyone who responded to the evaluation survey of Semester 2! (If you’d like to see the results, here they are.) The Project Play team has been thinking about ways to continue the Project, and according to the survey results, 94% of you hope we’ll continue, too. So we met today to discuss some ideas, and we came up with a plan.

We are going to post a new topic to the blog every 2nd Friday of the month June through December, 2008, and February through May, 2009. You’ll have a couple of weeks to play with the tools, then w We’ll have “Play Dates” online in OPAL on the 4th Friday of those months the month June through December 2008 and February through May 2009, during which we will further discuss the tools a new topic or more advanced features of an old topic and have time for you to ask questions. We’ll post the Play Date content on the blog on the same day as the OPAL session for those of you who can’t attend. For those of you needing contact hours for certification, you’ll be able to earn credit for the Play Dates, but not for doing the blog exercises on your own.

This summer’s topics will be as follows:

  • June: PassPack online password manager more on
  • July: more on more on Google apps: Gmail, Sites, Calendar
  • August: more on Google apps: Gmail, Sites, Calendar more on LibraryThing

We will no longer track your progress or supply incentives, so it’s time to take responsibility for your own life-long learning. We know you can do it! :) You’re off to such a great start with Semester 1 and/or 2 under your belts, so keep on playing more, learning more, and fearing less!

We’ll post more details here as they develop, so stay tuned.

Tags: blog, contact hours, Delicious, Google, incentives, password manager, survey
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Weeks 11-12: Semester 2

March 24th, 2008 Beth Posted in Semester 2 | 4 Comments »

clapping handsThese hands are clapping for YOU! Congratulations on making it to the final weeks of 2nd semester of Project Play! We can hardly believe the Project is coming to an end. Thanks so much for participating and playing along with us!

You’ll have the next two weeks to finish up all of the Semester 2 exercises. Your posts to your blog should be completed by 8 a.m. on Monday, April 7, 2008 to be eligible for any incentives and drawings. We’ll take it easy on you this week, so you’ll have time to catch up if you got behind.

Be sure to listen to our closing podcast (or read the Weeks 11-12: Semester 2 podcast transcript) and take a look at the info below. If you have questions about anything, be sure to contact us - we’re happy to help!

Reasonable Expectations

What were our hopes for Project Play? That the participants would learn:

  • playing with new tools doesn’t have to scary
  • the more you play, the more you learn
  • with all of the new tools available, collaboration has never been easier
  • users’ expectations of how they want to interact with libraries have changed
  • there is no such thing as a dumb question.

With those points in mind, here are some expectations for what we hope you’ll do with what you’ve learned throughout Project Play.

First and foremost… Know that it’s okay not to use every new tool out there!

You don’t have to love every tool we have presented, but we hope you’ll be open to new things because you have taken the time to explore and perhaps leave your comfort zone behind from time to time. Your use of Web 2.0 tools should be based on the right tool filling a need, not “Oh, this is so cool! I’m going to come up with an idea for how to use it just because I think it’s slicker than snot!”

You’ll need to make some choices about what tools to use (see “What to Use and When” below), but essential to choosing is continuing to play. Playing with new tools creates an awareness of what’s out there, so that when a problem arises you might know of a tool that could help fix it or if a chance to collaborate presents itself, you’ll know what tools are available to help make that collaboration happen.

Secondly, you can’t ignore Web 2.0, because it’s not going away.

People’s expectations of what they want to get out of their online experience have changed, and we need to be willing to explore and be curious about ways to improve their experience with us or get left in the dust. Providing ways for your community to communicate their wants and needs with you is essential, and Web 2.0 provides plenty of ways to allow and encourage interaction.

Many of the tools we explored provide ways to put your library’s presence and content out where people are on the web. Don’t assume people will just find your library’s website. Get out there where people are and start some conversations.

And lastly, do the best you can!

Adopting even one new tool can go a long way in changing your community’s perception of your library. Start small and think big!

Adopting and encouraging change at your library comes down to a “yes, and…” attitude.

What to use and when

We know that even “starting small” can seem overwhelming: how do you even begin to implement any of these tools? Well, here’s one process you can consider:

  1. Identify the need and possible solutions: It’s important to know what you’re trying to do before you begin. Are you trying to solve a problem? Improve customer service? Make more efficient use of staff time?
    Once you know what you’re trying to fix, then figure out what tool is the best for the job. Sometimes the choices can seem overwhelming, but try to focus on the tools that might best serve the needs of your customers & that fit with your library’s mission.
  2. Educate: Your project won’t get off the ground without buy-in from the staff you’re working with. And, to buy-in, they have to understand it! So, take the time to educate them about the problem and the tool you’re going to use.
  3. Plan: Once you have other staff convinced, you’ll need them to help plan the project. Think about how you will support and sustain the project (both financially and with staff time), how you’ll promote the project, and how you’ll evaluate it.
  4. Launch: Wasn’t that easy?? Your project is now up-and-running! Congratulations! But wait: there are a couple more steps left.
  5. Promote: You planned for it in Step 3 — now you should do it! Promote this new project to the people who might use it! Make sure to consider if they’ll need training and what benefit the project gives to them. When promoting your project, focus on what they can do with it or what the benefits are instead of focusing on the tool itself.
  6. Evaluate: It’d be great if every project worked like a charm. But they don’t. Projects fail. In Step 3, you’ll need to decide how you are going to determine success or failure. You’ll need to figure out how you’re going to get feedback from the users, and use that feedback to tweak the project (or start over with a new project!).

Continue to play

Just because Project Play is ending doesn’t mean you need to stop playing and learning — you’ve got the tools now, so you can take charge of your learning path!

Web 2.0 applications continue to develop, so if you make a commitment to keep current you’ll know about new technologies as they emerge, so you can evaluate them for potential use at your library.

Newsfeeds: Keeping up doesn’t mean a huge investment of time if you use a newsreader like Bloglines to subscribe to library blogs and podcasts. Here are some library blogs we recommend:

Play with new Web 2.0 applications; see if you can carve out 15 minutes a day to play. :-) Here are two good sources to new apps and tools:

  • Check out eHub for news of useful Web 2.0 tools and mashups
  • Visit Go2Web20 and click on any icon to explore new Web 2.0 tools, with an eye towards their potential use in your library

Blog: Now that’s you’ve started the habit of both keeping up and sharing with others what you’ve learned, continue writing at your blog to share new discoveries you’ve made.

Conferences: If you’re able to attend the WLA conference and/or WAPL conference, they both offer presentations on tech topics. (We’ll soon email you details about the Project Play get-together that’s planned for the WAPL 2008 conference in Stevens Point).

Webinars: You don’t need to travel in order to see a presentation by a speaker; you can participate for free from your computer! Most webinars combine slides & demos with audio, to replicate as closely as possible the in-person experience. Besides offering a current schedule of upcoming presentations, each of these services offer archived presentations you may view at any time:

And it’s good to keep an eye on what the folks at the Pew Research Center report on “the numbers, facts, and trends that shape your world.”


View this video in which Seth Godin explores the topic of curiosity.

Write a post in your blog about your impressions of what Godin commented on in the video. Are you a curious person? If not, what can you do to encourage curiosity in yourself and others? How does curiosity apply to what we’ve been doing in Project Play? Write about your final impressions of Project Play and what you’ll do to continue playing in the future.

Fun Extras

We couldn’t resist including additional tools that we like but didn’t have time to cover. Take a look when you have a minute or two and play at will!

Netvibes provides a personalized start page for your browser. A variety of widgets allow you to pull in your favorite feeds, personal accounts, weather reports, and more into a single place which saves you time in the long run.

Google Sites is Google’s version of a wiki. Easy to use, and if you’re a Google product fan, why not?

Clippl asks you to “join the mobile video revolution.” A clippl is a short video recording that you upload to the site to let your friends and family know what you’re doing at any given point in time. You can upload videos recorded with a camcorder, cell phone, webcam, or just about anything else.

Widgetbox allows you to make cool web site widgets for just about anything you can imagine.

Tags: Bloglines, Clippl, Google, netvibes, Pew, SirsiDynix Institute, webinars, Widgetbox, wrapup
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Week 10: Semester 2

March 17th, 2008 Beth Posted in Semester 2 | 5 Comments »


This week’s topic is mashups. We’ll learn what they are, take a look at some cool examples, share ideas about how libraries might use them, and find out how to create them.

Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Week 10: Semester 2 podcast transcript) and then read the info below. If you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us - we’re happy to help!

What is a mashup?

The term mashup originally referred to the practice in the music industry of creating a new song by mixing two or more already existing pieces. In technology terms, a mashup is a web application that combines information from more than one source into a single, new tool.

For a bit more info, view What Is a Mashup? from ZDNet.

As is mentioned in the ZDNet video above, mashups are the “fastest growing application ecosystem in the world today,” and you don’t need to be a programmer to be able to create them. The most popular services for people experimenting with mashups are Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Flickr, Google, Yahoo, and YouTube.

Top Mashup Tags from ProgrammableWeb:

Top Mashup Tags

Mashup Examples

  • You already encountered a Flickr mashup in Semester 1 of Project Play! It’s called Spell with Flickr and was included in fd’s flickr toys, which includes many other Flickr mashups for your entertainment.
  • HousingMaps is powered by craigslist and Google Maps and enables people to find housing for rent, sale, or sublet.
  • Daily Mashup pulls together the day’s popular photos, links, and news items.
  • Netvibes is an aggregator that mashes together information from a variety of sources of your choice. Pull in weather, web searches, news feeds, Flickr photos, to do lists, and more from your own online accounts or generic sources. Similar to iGoogle which allows you to do similar things with even more access to customizable widgets.
  • EveryBlock Chicago compiles news sources, public records, and other local sites, so Chicago residents can track what’s happening in their neighborhood.
  • Meebo Map shows where IMs have been sent or received over the past 15 minutes worldwide.
  • Newsmap is an application that “visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator.”
  • PlaceOpedia connects Wikipedia articles with their locations.
  • Zip Code Census Dashboard uses United States Census information to share demographic info by zip code. Great way to learn about your community!

Library Mashup Examples

  • Go-go Google Gadget was created by John Blyberg for the Ann Arbor District Library. It brings together data from their online catalog and Google widgets for iGoogle.
  • Hot Titles Carousel is provided by the Cambridge Libraries & Galleries in Ontario, Canada. The Carousel brings together data about most popular books with book covers and links to their online catalog. Great visual presentation!
  • LibraryThing for Libraries brings LibraryThing and library online catalogs together. Search any one of the catalogs in the Libraries Using LibraryThing list and find the full record of an item (try a mainstream title for the best results). On the full record you’ll see book recommendations, a tag cloud, and reviews integrated with the catalog from the LibraryThing database.
  • MeL Delivery Locations uses Google Maps to share the delivery locations of the Michigan Library Consortium member libraries. I created something similar mapping OWLS member library locations.
  • Libraries 411 is a public library directory. Don’t see your library on the map? Read Secure Access for Public Libraries to find out how to get yours added.
  • Barns of Winnebago County is a mashup created by one of our very own Winnefox Project Play-ers, Keetra Baker! It’s a nice complement to the digital collection of the same name available here.
  • Learning 2.0 Throughout the World shows a map of libraries who have participated in the Learning 2.0 program created by Helene Blowers at PLCMC. Project Play is on it - can you find us?

How To Make a Mashup

There are generally three ways to create a mashup:

  1. Point and click - This method is used when the site you’re visiting offers an “add an app” kind of link where you can select a widget to include on a page. iGoogle’s widgets and Facebook apps are good examples.
  2. Clone - Yahoo! Pipes is an example. View Learn How to Build a Pipe in Just a Few Minutes for more information on using Yahoo! Pipes. Microsoft Popfly is another example, and you can view some video demos about it (after installing their video viewing software, Silverlight). Dapper is another option.
  3. APIs (application programming interfaces) - Google, Amazon,, Flickr, LibraryThing, and YouTube all offer APIs, but this method requires a bit more web savvy to create a mashup.

More Information

Visit ProgrammableWeb for more examples of mashups, along with loads of other info about what’s happening with mashups these days.

If you’d like more information about creating mashups, visit ProgrammableWeb’s How To Make Your Own Web Mashup.

And, if you have an hour to spare sometime, you might want to view the SirsiDynix Institute’s archived presentation, “Mashups: A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That” for a well-rounded review of mashups in general.


Add your library’s location to the Project Play sandbox map on If your library has already been added by someone else, feel free to add your favorite restaurant, park, theater, etc. instead. You will need to use the username and password sent to you in this week’s email to sign in to add your location to the map. View a brief screencast to see how to use mapbuilder. Be sure to login before you try to add your information to the map and select the Sandbox map to edit! (Note: Mapbuilder can be difficult to view in 600×800 resolution. You may want to change your screen resolution to one step higher for a better experience. Ask your system contact for info on how to do this if you need help.)

The map is a sandbox area, but please be kind and do not delete what other players have entered. My hope is that in the end we’ll have a map of all of our players’ location and/or favorite places.

Write about your impressions of mashups in your blog. Do you have any creative ideas for something you could create for your library?

The map will also be posted here and will be updated daily (but not on weekends), so you can view the changes as Project Players add locations to it. I will not be posting the map here for viewing - locations are being deleted as other players log in to add their own, so the result isn’t representative of what everyone has actually tried to post. We’ll use mapbuilder as a sandbox rather than a living map instead.

Fun extra

Social Signal cartoon

Cartoon by Rob Cottingham at Social Signal.

Explore the MashupAwards Winners and see if you find a favorite. Mine are Logobama and flickr fight.

Tags: API, census, craigslist, Dapper, Flickr, Google, mapbuilder, maps, mashups, Meebo, netvibes, Popfly, ProgrammableWeb, Social Signal, Yahoo! Pipes, zip code
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Week 9: Semester 2

March 10th, 2008 Joy Posted in Semester 2 | 4 Comments »

This week you’ll learn about YouTube. Please read the info below, and if you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us — we’re happy to help!

What is YouTube?

YouTube is a popular video hosting & sharing service that was founded in 2005, and was bought by Google in 2006. YouTube lets people view videos, and allows registered users to upload videos. In addition to hosting videos, YouTube lets users rate videos and add comments, turning it into a social networking service.

There are other places to find videos on the internet, but YouTube has become the most popular central location to find videos.

To watch a YouTube video you don’t need to install special software, figure out your bandwidth setting, or sign up for an account. You don’t even have to visit the YouTube web site to view a video. Videos are easily embedded in blog postings or on web pages — like those Common Craft videos we’ve provided here in the Project Play blog!

When you explore YouTube it’s possible to find comedy, cute pets, music videos, notices of videos that have been removed due to copyright infringement, and people making fools of themselves. There’s everything from 1960’s TV commercials, to library dominoes, to the most annoying dog in the world.

In a January 2008 Pew Internet Project data memo Lee Rainie reports, “The audience for YouTube and other internet video sites has risen sharply the past year. Nearly half of online adults now say they have visited such sites.”

How are people using YouTube?

Besides watching and uploading videos, YouTube provides social networking features for those who set up a free account. These features include the ability to…

  • create a profile, like this one for Allen County Public Library
  • customize your profile with favorites, playlists, and subscriptions to channels & tags
  • upload & tag your videos
  • “friend” other YouTube users
  • send messages, and even broadcast messages to all your YouTube friends
  • rate and add comments to videos

How can libraries use YouTube for marketing?

Here are some great examples of creative ways libraries are using YouTube:

How can library staff use YouTube as a reference tool?

Have you ever needed to help a student find a famous speech or a news clip? You can find videos of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, the first moon landing, and John F. Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you” speech from his 1961 inaugural address.

How can I create a video to share on YouTube?

You’ll first need a device that can capture digital movies. This could be a camcorder, a digital camera, and even a cell phone that has this capability. YouTube accepts a wide range of video file formats such as .WMV, .AVI, .MOV, and .MPG. You’ll then copy the movie to your computer and upload it to YouTube; or you could edit it with software like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie (for Macs) to add titles or special effects before uploading it. For details, visit YouTube’s help center and Video Toolbox. This 3 minute video explains it all (and is especially funny if you’ve seen an episode of the 1983-1995 Bob Ross “The Joy of Painting” TV show.)

If you complete all the assignments in Semester 2, your name will be entered into each library system’s drawing for a chance to win a Project Play incentive: a Flip Video Camera!

Another way is to create a screencast using Screencast-O-Matic (which you learned about in Week 8), then export it as Quicktime video in .MOV format (watch this screencast to find out how), which you can then upload to YouTube.

How else can I get a video onto YouTube for our library?

Consider setting up a YouTube contest! Here are some examples:

There’s even an entire section of YouTube just for Contests.


Watch some of the library videos linked to above, or use this link to find other videos tagged “libraries”.
Explore YouTube to find a video on any topic that interests you.
Create a blog post about your experience:
a. Write about what you liked or disliked about YouTube.
b. Add a link to a video, or embed a video in your blog post.
c. Write your thoughts about libraries’ uses of YouTube.

Not sure how to embed a video in a blog posting? I used Screencast-O-Matic (the very cool tool you learned about last week) to create a 1-minute screencast that shows how to do it.

Optional assignment:

1. Sign up for your own YouTube account at (Good news for those of you with too many usernames & passwords already -– if you have a Google account, you can use your existing Gmail address to create a YouTube logon.) Create some playlists, “favorite” some videos, subscribe to some tags, explore & have fun!

2. If you have access to a device that can capture digital movies, create your own YouTube account at and upload a video clip. If you feel so inclined, link to or embed your video in this week’s posting on your blog.

Fun Extra:
Enjoy some of my favorite book/library/literary YouTube videos:

Tags: Flip video, Pew, screencasts, social networking, tagging, videos, YouTube
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Week 8: Semester 2

March 3rd, 2008 Stef Posted in Semester 2 | 4 Comments »

This week is all about screencasts. A screencast is a movie of what’s on a computer screen. You can also think of it as a lot of screenshots all stuck together, sometimes with audio descriptions of what’s happening.

The term “screencast” is a pretty new word. It was coined on November 17, 2004 by Jon Udell, who chose it from names submitted for a contest (you can read the details in his blog posting for November 17, 2004 – funny to think that we could be talking about “screedios” instead of “screencasts” this week!)

Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Week 8: Semester 2 podcast transcript) and then read the info below. If you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us – we’re happy to help!

How are people using screencasts?

People are using screencasts for many different things, including:

  • Product demonstrations/reviews: What a great way to sell software! Show people how the software works while talking about how great it is. Or make your own review of a product by talking about the things you love and hate and showing them at the same time! Here’s an example that demonstrates CuePrompter.
  • How-tos: Use a screencast to show people how to do something on the computer step-by-step. Here’s an example that shows How to Create a GMail account.
  • Recording a presentation: Since screencasting captures the screen and audio, capture your PowerPoint (or Google Apps presentation) along with your comments. Here’s an example of a presentation about Treasure Hunts.
  • Animated whiteboard: Using something as simple as paint, draw something to share. Here’s my happy example.

How can libraries use screencasts?

Well, I’m sure the list above has given you some ideas about how libraries could use screencasts, but here are a few thoughts:

  • Quick tutorials about how to do a specific thing in a database, online catalog, or library website.
  • Product “demonstrations” of different databases — why would patrons use it? What’s available in that database?
  • Step-by-step “how tos” for common questions patrons ask about software they’re using in the library, like Word or Excel.
  • Recordings of sessions staff present about applications, searching, etc.

…and here are a couple of examples:

  • Central Michigan University uses screencasts to explain their Off-Campus Library Services. See the section on “Choosing a database” under “Journals” for a good example.
  • University of Calgary: Library Connection has a mix of screencasts and other types of online tutorials. The “Authenticating for remote database access” is an example of their screencasts.

You can find more examples at the Online Tutorials page of the Library Success Wiki.

How do you create a screencast?

In the olden days when the term “screencasting” was new, there only used to be a couple of tools available for this purpose, and they were quite expensive. But now, there are many tools for creating screencasts, including a few free tools you can try.

Two of these tools require you to install software on your computer. You don’t need them for this lesson, but they might be something you’ll want to explore if you want to create screencasts that require editing:

  • Jing: This project from TechSmith (the company that makes Camtasia, a well-established screencasting product) is free right now, but the project will “eventually turn into something else” — I’m guessing that’s a paid service. Jing lets you create and upload to email, blogs, etc.
  • This service is also a community. When you upload your screencasts to their server, you agree to share them with the world. You can also save your screencasts to your computer and upload them somewhere else.

There is one tool, Screencast-o-Matic, which is free and doesn’t require a download. It doesn’t let you edit your screencast, but it’s a quick and easy way to try out screencasting. You’ll have a chance to play with it in the optional assignment for this week’s lesson.

Be sure to plan out what you want to say before you start. Making a script of what you are going to show and say is a good idea. It’ll make your recording go more smoothly and professionally.


Check out some of the screencasts in the examples above. Think about how you might use screencasting in your library, and write about it on your blog.

Optional assignment:

Try making a simple screencast with Screencast-O-Matic.

Screencast-O-Matic is pretty easy to use, but you can watch their How to create a screencast screencast for step-by-step instructions before you get started if you want. Here’s an outline of the steps you would do:

1. Figure out what you’re going to do in your screencast. Open the applications you want to use.
2. Go to Screencast-O-Matic.
3. Click the “Create” button. It will verify your Java version, and then give you a button to click to get started.
4. Create your screencast. Watch the How to create a screencast screencast for step-by-step instructions, if you need them.
5. Upload the screencast. You can create an account, or, if you prefer, you can use the account information that was included in the email reminder for this lesson.
6. Put a link to your new screencast in a posting on your Project Play blog.

Fun Extra: WikiHow

Are you looking for a diversion to pass the last month of this long winter? How about making a fire breathing dragon cake? Or make your family feel like they’re on a Caribbean cruise by making them a towel monkey? WikiHow is a site where you can learn how to do all sorts of things from other people…and if you know how to do something, you can contribute your knowledge, too! (Aren’t wikis just great?)

Tags:, jing, screencastomatic, screencasts, wikihow
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Week 7: Semester 2

February 25th, 2008 Beth Posted in Semester 2 | No Comments »

Catch up Week!

Welcome to Week 7! There aren’t any formal exercises this week, as we’d like you to have a bit of time to catch your breath and catch up on anything you haven’t had time to do in the project so far.

If you’re struggling with a lesson or just have a question, please be sure to contact us. We want to help!

Tags: catchup
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Week 6: Semester 2

February 18th, 2008 Beth Posted in Semester 2 | 6 Comments »


This week you’ll learn about podcasts – what they are, how to find podcasts to match your interests, and how libraries are using them.

Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Week 6: Semester 2 podcast transcript) and then read the info below. If you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us – we’re happy to help!

What is a podcast?

“Podcasting is a simple means of distributing audio content over the Internet, taking advantage of the power of RSS. Content consumers (end-users) can subscribe to a feed of a producer’s audio content and receive automatic downloads of new content as it is made available online.” (from Podcasting: Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki) The term “podcast” was formed from the words “iPod” and “broadcast,” but you don’t need an iPod to listen to a podcast – any computer or MP3 player will do.

Watch this Common Craft video, “Podcasting in Plain English:”

According to a recent report on eMarketer, it’s estimated the total US podcast audience reached 18.5 million in 2007, and by the year 2009 that number will double.


If that’s the case, libraries might want to think about ways they can use this fast-growing medium to connect with their patrons!

How to find & subscribe to podcasts

There are some easy ways to find podcasts, one of which is simply to check out your favorite web sites to see if they have podcasts available. But you can also check the following sites that gather podcasts by topic or genre, so you can easily find podcasts that match your interests.

In case you don’t run across these in your searching, here are some podcasts directed toward library staff which you might find interesting:

Once you find a podcast to which you’d like to subscribe, just look for a “subscribe” button or link. Copy the feed URL into Bloglines or Google Reader like you did when subscribing to other RSS feeds in Semester 1 of Project Play and you’re good to go. (If you didn’t participate in Semester 1 of Project Play, you might want to take a look at Week 3: Semester 1’s exercises on RSS & subscribing to feeds.) If you’re an iTunes user, simply click on the “subscribe” button and you’re all set. You’ll see the podcast added to the Podcasts section of your iTunes.

How libraries are using podcasts

Many libraries have started using podcasts to syndicate their programming or to share other info like book or movie reviews. Here are my favorite examples:

For more examples, visit Podcasting – Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki.

I found numerous examples of libraries providing audio and video online, but then didn’t provide a way to subscribe to regular offerings via RSS. New York Public Library’s Webcasts, Audio and Video is one example where there is fantastic programming available, but no way to subscribe (as far as I could see). It’s a great start, but they aren’t taking advantage of the push technology available with RSS, and that’s the most important component of podcasting, IMHO.

There’s really no end to how you could use podcasts in a library. How about a 1 minute booktalk every day (or week)? Record a book discussion and post it online for people who want to participate, but couldn’t make the meeting (and pair it with a blog, so that participants can carry on the discussion in another format). Author visits, guest speakers, tour of the library with an embedded PDF map of the building, staff training sessions, original stories for kids… whew! Podcasts provide a great way to be creative at your library.

Some libraries are even setting up podcasting rooms that provide equipment and training for patrons to create their own podcasts at the library. What a great idea!

How to create podcasts

Creating podcasts can be as easy as calling an 800 number and recording your podcast via the phone. This is how the Project Play team has been creating our podcasts each week. We’ve been using a service called Gabcast which is free and very easy to use. Visit our Gabcast channel and listen to all of the Project Play podcasts or subscribe to get them delivered to you each week.

If you want to do something a little fancier and add music or other sound effects, there’s a bit more involved. That’s beyond the scope of this post, but if you want more info you can visit CNET’s Create Your Own Podcast tutorial. It gives a good, basic intro to what’s required and the steps involved.

When creating your own podcasts, copyright issues need to be considered. You can’t read books for a storytime podcast if the book isn’t in the public domain or if you haven’t received permission from the publisher to do so. You can’t mix in music that isn’t in the public domain either. The good news is that there are sites like CCMixter and Podsafe Music Network that provide music you can use in your podcasts.


OPTION 1: Subscribe to a podcast in your RSS reader.

  • Use one of the podcast directories included above to find a podcast to which you’d like to subscribe.
  • When you find a podcast click on the RSS icon or “Subscribe” button for it and copy the feed URL.
  • Open your Bloglines or Google Reader and click on “Add” or “Add Subscription.”
  • Paste the feed URL you copied into the “blog or feed URL” or “add subscription” box and click “subscribe” or “add.” (Bloglines users will need to click on one more “subscribe” button to complete the process.)

Note to participants who didn’t do Semester 1: If you aren’t familiar with Bloglines or Google Reader, you can either do Week 3: Semester 1’s exercises to learn about them or choose Option 2 below.

Write a post on your blog about your impressions of podcasts and the ways libraries are using them.


OPTION 2: Create a podcast using Gabcast.

  • Write a brief script for your podcast. It can be as simple as “Hello from a Project Player”, or a brief booktalk, or your child singing their favorite song, or whatever you like.
  • Call Gabcast’s toll free #: 1-800-749-0632. (Note: If you hear a busy signal, it probably means the toll free number is blocked by your library’s phone system; try calling from a cell phone or your home phone instead.)
  • Follow the instructions given to you by Gabcast. The channel number and password were sent to you in this week’s email message.
  • After you have recorded your episode, you’ll be able to listen to it, publish it (for the world), or delete it and try again – just follow the instructions given to you by Gabcast.

You’ll be able to listen to your podcast and the podcasts of other Project Players at the Project Player channel on Gabcast. This part is not required, but if you would like to add a title, description, and tags for your podcast, follow these steps:

  1. Login to Gabcast with the username and password supplied by your system staff.
  2. Click on “Manage Episodes.”
  3. Click on “Published Episodes” on the right.
  4. Figure out which episode is yours.
  5. Click on the tag icon under your episode and enter title and description. Click SUBMIT button when finished.
  6. Logout when you’re done!

Again, this isn’t required, but if you’d like to embed your Gabcast podcast in your Project Play blog, here’s how:

  1. Follow steps #1-4 above.
  2. Click on “Player HTML”. (When you hover your mouse over this, you’ll see “Player HTML to embed/link your Gabcast episode right into your blog”).
  3. This will open a small popup window. At the top of the window you’ll see “Embedded episode player”, so click the “Highlight Text” button, and then press the Ctrl & C keys to copy the code.
  4. In a separate browser tab or browser window, log in to your Blogger account.
  5. In your Blogger Dashboard, click “Layout”.
  6. On the “Add and Arrange Page Elements” page, click “Add a Page Element”.
  7. In the “Choose a New Page Element” popup window, next to “HTML/JavaScript” click the blue “Add to Blog” button.
  8. Click your mouse cursor in the “Content” area of the window, and paste the Gabcast code in by pressing the Ctrl & V keys, then click the orange “Save Changes” button.
  9. View your blog to make sure your podcast is showing up on your blog the way you want it. Note: the title & description you gave to your podcast will show up on your blog.
  10. Log out of Gabcast when you’re done.

(Thanks to Joy for writing up those instructions for us! :) )

Remember to write a post on your blog about your impressions of podcasts and how libraries are using them.

Fun Extra

While The Onion’s humor isn’t for everyone, it is definitely one of my favorite podcasts and usually gets a laugh out of me if not even a snort once in a while. How can you resist headlines like, “New Video Game Tied To Rash of Head Explosions,” “Nation Demands Easier Instructions,” and “U.S. Department of Over-Analysis Issues Rambling, Inconclusive Report”? :) If you’d like to subscribe to their podcast and get your daily dose of humor, here’s the feed:

Tags: blog, Bloglines, copyright, feeds, Gabcast, Google Reader, iPod, iTunes, MP3, podcasting, podcasts, RSS, The Onion
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Week 5: Semester 2

February 11th, 2008 Joy Posted in Semester 2 | No Comments »

Social Networking

This week you’ll learn about social networking tools, with a focus on MySpace and Facebook.

Please read the info below; if you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us — we’re happy to help!

What is social networking?

Sit back and watch this 2-minute video that explains what social networks are and how they work:

A social networking service focuses on building an online community of people who share interests and activities. Most social networking services are web-based, and provide a variety of ways for community members to interact via chat, IM, email, blogging, discussion groups, etc. Members create profiles that include personal interests & photos, exchange private or public messages, and join groups.

What do people do on social networks?

  • Create a profile: you can share as much info or as little info as you’d like, within your comfort level
  • Communicate: you can blog on your page, send bulletins, post photos, and more
  • Interact: you can “friend” other members and build a network of friends who can stay in touch via the social network; some social networks offer a “feed” that updates you on what your friends have updated on their pages.

There are lots of social networking sites out there; here’s a chart showing the notable ones. That aside, for this week we’ll just focus on the two “500-pound gorillas” of social networking, MySpace and Facebook.


As of January 2008, MySpace is the 3rd most popular U.S. web site. MySpace attracts 300,000 new registrations per day, and has more than 110 million monthly active users around the world.

Originally MySpace was for people 18 and older and all data was public. Over time, the age limit dropped to 16, and later to 14. The youngest users are given the option to make their profiles visible only to people they’ve friended, and their profiles don’t appear in search results.

Users may post personal profiles including photos, videos, and lists of favorite books & movies. They can email, post bulletins, and chat with their MySpace friends.


Facebook is the second-most popular social networking site. As of January 2008, Facebook has more than 62 million active users worldwide. It attracts one quarter of a million new accounts per month, and receives over 65 billion page views per month.

The name Facebook refers to the paper facebooks provided by some colleges, which depict members of the campus community as a way to get to know students & faculty.

When Facebook launched in 2004, only people at Harvard University could sign up for an account; within a few months it opened up to other colleges, then to high schools, and now anyone 13 or older with a valid email address may create a Facebook profile. At present, people using Facebook are mostly college and post-college; more than half of Facebook members are out of school. The fastest growing Facebook demographic is 25 years old and older.

Originally Facebook didn’t allow institutions to create Facebook accounts, but in November 2007 they opened up the ability to create business and institutional profiles. Now you can create a profile for your library so you can interact with other members of Facebook, they can become your library’s “fans”, and you can create updates that feed into the newsfeed your friends will see on their own profile page.

In May 2007 the “Facebook Platform” was created, which allows third-party developers to create applications that work within Facebook. Two library-specific apps are:

  • Facebook Librarian provides links to a range of resources that include WorldCat & Google Scholar, plus an “Ask a Librarian” link
  • WorldCat provides a search box so anyone can search the database right from your page

A big difference between Facebook and MySpace is… to view a Facebook profile, you must have a Facebook account. This makes Facebook a private social network; MySpace is a public social network. You can see just as far as a public search listing into a person’s profile before logging in to Facebook.

Why would a library be interested in creating a social networking presence?

Even though social networking services were set up with the individual in mind, libraries are creating a presence in both MySpace and Facebook…

  • To be where millions of people are hanging out
  • To reach a community of potential library customers
  • To use it as a forum to announce the library’s events and services
  • To communicate informally in an approachable, friendly, and fun way

Meredith Farkas writes, “I think there is a big difference between ‘being where our patrons are’ and ‘being USEFUL to our patrons where they are.’” In that spirit, instead of simply creating a MySpace or Facebook page with your library’s photo & hours, consider “surfacing” your library’s services right there: try including your library’s MeeboMe widget to make it easy for people to ask questions or give feedback, or try embedding a search box that goes right into your library’s catalog.

But are social networks the right place for libraries?

There’s been debate in the library community about whether social networks are the right place for libraries to be.

  • Pro: librarians need to go where people are, to be there at the point of need.
  • Con: libraries are unwelcome guests in social networks, and it’s wrong for us to try to create a presence there.

For a good overview of the pro’s and con’s, read Libraries in Social Networking Software.

What’s your opinion?

As an alternative to a library presence in a social network, individual librarians can create their own MySpace and Facebook pages so they can network with others. Judi Sohn’s 12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally has some helpful tips for doing just that.

Great places to find other library folk with which to network are these Facebook Groups:

Examples of ways libraries are using MySpace and Facebook

Note: when visiting these web sites you might want to use Firefox with the Adblock Plus add-on; I think you’ll enjoy MySpace more without all the advertisements!

Note: if you don’t have a Facebook account view my Flickr slideshow of screenshots of 7 libraries’ Facebook pages.


Don’t worry – I won’t make you create a MySpace or Facebook account for yourself or for your library. I know it wouldn’t be practical or desirable for everyone or for every library!

So instead of creating stuff this week, your assignment is…

1. Visit any 3 library MySpace pages I linked to above.
2. Note the ways libraries are “surfacing” library services.
3. Reflect on the place of libraries in social networking.
4. Post your thoughts about why or why not you would want to create a MySpace page for your library.

If your library already has a MySpace or Facebook page, also consider using your blog to share any tips & advice you might have, and offer an assessment of your library’s foray into social networking.

Optional Assignments:

A. Open an account for either you or your library at MySpace or Facebook.

1. Take the MySpace Tour.
2. Go to MySpace to register and set up your page.
3. On your blog write about your experiences and post a link to your MySpace page.

1. Watch this 2-minute video to get details on registering for an account.
2. Go to Facebook to register & set up a profile for you or for your library.
3. On your blog write about your experiences and post a link to your Facebook page.

B. Already have a MySpace account? Send a friend request to Winnie Fox and/or AskAway, and I’ll add you to our friends. :-)

C. Already have a Facebook account? Start a game of Scrabulous (it’s just like Scrabble) with me, or become a fan of AskAway.

And then write on your blog about your MySpace and/or Facebook adventures.

Fun extras:

If you don’t want to use a photo of yourself on a social networking service, try creating an avatar to represent yourself instead! Try the Simpsomaker, the South Park Create-a-Character, or use the Yahoo avatar-generating tools. Here’s the image I created that I use on my Facebook and AIM account:
Simpsons avatar

And if you don’t want to create a Facebook account but love playing Scrabble, I found out you can play it outside of Facebook too at If you don’t want to create an account to play online, use one of the free account passwords available at to try it out.

Tags: Facebook, MySpace, social networking
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Week 4: Semester 2

February 4th, 2008 Stef Posted in Semester 2 | 1 Comment »

Catch up Week!

Welcome to Week 4! There aren’t any formal exercises this week, as we’d like you to have a bit of time to catch your breath and catch up on anything you haven’t had time to do in the project so far.

If you’re struggling with a lesson or just have a question, please be sure to contact us. We want to help!

Tags: catchup
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Week 3: Semester 2

January 28th, 2008 Stef Posted in Semester 2 | 9 Comments »

This week, you’ll learn about some cool tools to manage tasks, reminders, and to-do lists. I’ll tell you a little bit about two tools – Remember The Milk and Jott – and give you a chance to play with them in the assignments.In this week’s reminder email, there are some passwords and other information you’ll need to complete this lesson. You might want to dig up the email right now, if you don’t have it handy!

Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Week 3: Semester 2 podcast transcript) and then read the info below. If you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us —we’re happy to help!

Remember the Milk
Remember the Milk has the features of a traditional to-do list. You can set up multiple lists, sort tasks, set due dates, set priorities, and add notes. You can print a weekly planner of tasks. But what makes Remember the Milk so nifty is its “Web 2.0”-ness:

  • Share lists and tasks: If you’re working with a group of people who are all Remember The Milk users, you can share a list and all update it together. You can send tasks to other people (a great way to get rid of the things you really don’t want to do!!)
  • Publish lists: …or if you’d like other people who aren’t Remember the Milk users to see a list, you can publish it, and it will be automatically updated when the list changes.
  • Tag your tasks: Not only can you divide tasks by lists, you can also tag them to further categorize them. A tag cloud appears to show you which tags have the most tasks.
  • Get reminders by email, IM, or text message: No matter what you use to communicate online, you can get task reminders via your preferred method.
  • Interact with other web services: Remember the Milk interfaces with many, many other web services. You can see your tasks in Google Calendar, Gmail, or iGoogle. You can set up locations for your tasks and plan the best route via Google Maps.
  • Access with your mobile device: Remember the Milk has special versions for Windows Mobile, iPhone, iPod Touch, and other mobile devices (like phones and PDAs).
  • Import tasks through email: Your Remember the Milk account has a unique email address. You can email a task to it with the list you want the task to appear on as the subject, and it will automatically appear in your task list.
  • The flexibility and features of Remember the Milk let you use it in a way that makes sense for you and fits into your current routine.

Jott has a very simple purpose: you call a phone number, speak a message, and the message is converted to text and sent somewhere. It’s the “sent somewhere” part where things get interesting…

Using Jott, you can send a message to:

  • Your own email address: Let’s say you’re walking down the street, and remember something you have to do that’s important. Call Jott and it will send a message to your email so you don’t lose the thought.
  • Someone else’s email address: You can add as many contacts as you would like, so you can Jott friends, family, and co-workers.
  • Groups: You can send a Jott to a bunch of people at one time.
  • Your blog: Yep, that’s right. You can Jott your blog. You can talk on your phone and your speech will be converted to text and displayed on your blog. You can see how this worked for me here.
  • Google Calendar: You can send events right to your calendar from your phone.
  • Remember the Milk: What? That’s right!! You can send a task to Remember the Milk right from your phone. (and, if you don’t believe it, you’ll have a chance to try it as an optional assignment in just a minute!!)

So, while the concept is simple, what you can do with it is far from it. Jott is yet another illustration of how these productivity tools can actually make you MORE productive by interacting with other services you use, making it easier to keep everything in one place and to keep organized!

Required assignments:

1.Add a task to the Project Play sandbox list at Remember The Milk by sending an email.

  • Start by beginning a new email message in your usual email application.
  • Make the “To” for the email the address included in the email you received from your library system’s Project Play coordinator.
  • Make the subject “Project Play sandbox” (without the quotes)
  • In the body of the message, put your name or pseudonym and a task. It can be a Project Play-related task, a silly task, or anything you’d like.
  • A few seconds after you’ve sent the email, check the list at Remember the Milk to see if your task is there.

2. Blog about Remember the Milk and Jott – would they be helpful for you? What do you think about the interaction between these tools (and others that you’ve learned about)?

Optional assignments:

1. Edit the task you’ve added to the Project Play sandbox list at Remember The Milk.Change the priority, add a due date, or add some notes.

Here’s how:

a. Log in to Remember the Milk using the username & password that was in the email you received from your library system’s Project Play coordinator.

b. To get started, click on “Tasks” at the top of the screen.

c. Click on your task in the list, and then click on what you’d like to do in the right-hand pane.

d. Once you’re done, visit the published list to see how it’s changed.

2. Use your phone to add a task to our Project Play sandbox list in Remember the Milk using Jott! (mind-bending, isn’t it??).

Here’s how:

The first thing you’ll need to do is associate your phone number with the Project Play Jott account:

a. Log into the Jott website using the information included in the email you received from your library system’s Project Play coordinator.

b. Click “Settings” up in the top right corner.

c. Click “My Phones” in the left-hand frame.

d. Type your phone number in the box at the top right, and click “Add Number”.

Now you can add your item to the Remember the Milk list in just a couple of steps:

a. Call the Jott phone number: 866-JOTT-123.

b. When it asks who you would like to Jott, say “Remember the Milk”.

c. Say what task you would like to show up on the list.

d. After a few minutes, check the list at Remember the Milk to see if your task appears.

Fun extra: 43 Things

Whether you want to write a book, be happy, or travel the world, you’re not alone. Want proof? Check out 43 things, a site where you can make lists of your goals, share them with others, and find people with similar goals. The 43 Things Zeitgeist Goals is a fun place to get started. It shows you most popular goals, new goals, and more.

Tags: 43 Things, Jott, productivity, Remember the Millk, to-do
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Week 2: Semester 2

January 21st, 2008 Joy Posted in Semester 2 | 6 Comments »

Google Docs… rocks!

This week you’ll learn about online document sharing with Google Docs.

Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Week 2 Podcast transcript PDF) and then read the info below. If you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us; we’re happy to help!

Note: the server where our podcasts are recorded & stored is was offline as of from 9:45am - 1pm CST 22 Jan 2008; if you’re unable to listen to the podcast, please read the transcript instead.

What is Google Docs?
Google Docs is a free online suite of tools similar to ones offered in Microsoft Office, including…

  • a word processor (like Microsoft Word)
  • a spreadsheet (like Microsoft Excel)
  • presentation software (like Microsoft PowerPoint)

Before the Presentation tool was added, Google Docs was called “Google Docs and Spreadsheets”, and was affectionately known as “Google Dachshund Spreadsheets”.
Google Dachsund Spreadsheets

How does it work?

Take a look at this 3-minute video for a quick overview of how Google Docs works:

[If you have trouble viewing this video at YouTube, try the video hosted at Common Craft's web site: instead.]

Why would I want to use Google Docs?

1. Anywhere editing

  • You can edit documents from any computer that has an internet connection & a web browser; both Firefox and Internet Explorer work equally well in Google Docs.
  • Edit using an interface that’s similar to Microsoft Office software, with familiar features like spell check & word count.
  • Don’t have Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint on your home computer? No worries—just use Google Docs instead.
  • Create your document at work in Microsoft Office & import it into Google Docs, then add more ideas from home or a conference.
  • You’ll never again need to copy a file to a portable flash drive or email it to yourself to continue working on it elsewhere.

2. Collaboration

  • Invite colleagues and co-workers to proof-read your work & add their suggestions, without having to merge their feedback into the final version.
  • Allow everyone on your committee to co-edit a document.
  • Avoid being “locked out” of a shared file if a colleague leaves a Microsoft Office document open on his/her computer.
  • If you and another collaborator are editing the same document at the same time, a box at the bottom left of the screen will appear, telling you the name of the collaborator(s) you’re working alongside.
  • If multiple people are editing or viewing the same spreadsheet at the same time, the Discuss tab will open and you’ll see the names of those people listed. From here, you can chat with these people about changes being made to the spreadsheet, or anything else!
  • Review changes made by whom & when, and (if necessary) roll back to any earlier version.

3. Self-publish

  • Publish your writing & presentations on the web, allowing a wide audience access to your work.
  • Once you click the “Publish” button, your document has its own URL to which you can link.
  • Avoid sending humungous 10MB PowerPoint presentations as email attachments; send a link to your online presentation instead.

4. Backups

  • You needn’t worry about losing your work if your computer’s hard drive fails; saved documents are stored on Google’s servers. Google says, “While we can’t give you exact figures, please be assured that we back up data almost as often as you can change it.”
  • A document is automagically saved multiple times while you’re editing it. Even if you’re interrupted or your web browser crashes while working on a document, when you return to the document you’ll find it the same as you left it.

5. Misteaks Mistakes happen

  • If you’ve copied & pasted a formula into a spreadsheet and later realized there’s a mistake in the calculations, you’ll appreciate being able to review a document’s revisions to find where the error was made and correct it.
  • You can even compare different versions of edits!

You can take documents created in Microsoft Office and import them into Google Docs.
And then you can export a document back into Microsoft Office, or in PDF or plain text format.
Or you can create your document from scratch in Google Docs.

Ways libraries & librarians are using Google Docs:

  • Offer it at public-access Internet workstations for patrons to use:
    Google Docs is offered as a Microsoft Office alternative at the Monterey (CA) Public Library. Here’s what they say on their web page: “Library computers do not have word processing or spreadsheet software, and you cannot access Library disk drives. However, you can read, create, edit, and email word processing documents using Google Docs & Spreadsheet, and download your documents later on another computer Microsoft Word and other popular formats.”
  • Publish a library operations manual easily:
    Mt. Mercy College Library (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) published their Interlibrary Loan Manual for student workers.
  • Project Play Progress Spreadsheets:
    You might not have realized it, but you use Google Docs every time you check the Progress Spreadsheet used by OWLS, SCLS and WLS!


1. Log in to Google Docs and edit either the existing text document, spreadsheet, or slideshow.
a. Go to Google Docs at
b. Log in using the special Project Play Google account username & password, which was emailed to you by your Project Play coordinator.
c. Add your name & jot a note on the “Welcome to Google Docs!” text document, add an item to the “Garden Budget” spreadsheet, and/or add a slide to the “Project Play Slideshow”.
d. Click the Revisions tab to see what changes have been made, and compare some versions of the document.
e. When you’re finished, click the “Sign out” link.

2. Write in your blog about your experience trying Google Docs — how you think it could be useful in libraries and/or in your life.

Optional assignments:

1. Create or import your own text document, spreadsheet or presentation at Google Docs.
a. Go to Google Docs at
b. If you don’t already have a Google or Gmail account, create one by clicking on the big blue “Get Started” button. Note: provide an active email address from which you can reply so you can activate your account. (Help creating an account is available at
c. Create a new document.

2. Invite other Project Play participants and/or your system’s Project Play coordinator to edit your document, or link to it from your blog post so others may view it.

3. Experiment with a document by exporting it, printing it, saving it as a slideshow presentation, embedding a slideshow in your blog post, etc.

3. Keep up to date on Google Docs enhancements by subscribing to the RSS feed for The Official Google Docs blog.

Fun extra:

Play the spreadsheet-based Flash game called Excit. The goal of the game is to exit the level you’re on (the game’s name is a play on the words “Excel” and “exit”). Each level is a number of walls arranged in different patterns with a clearly marked exit cell, as well as other objects that your cursor can interact with. Use your keyboard’s arrow keys to move the cursor up, down, left or right. Your cursor will continue in a direction until it hits an object that stops it, or continues off the screen; if it goes off the screen you start over at that level. Each time you complete a level you get a password—you can return to the game and be back at the same level.

Tags: collaboration, Google Docs, slideshow, spreadsheet, word processing
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Week 1: Semester 2

January 14th, 2008 Stef Posted in Semester 2 | 22 Comments »

Welcome to the 2nd semester of Project Play!

We’re starting this semester off with instant messaging, or IM, as it’s also known.

Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Semester 2, Week 1 Podcast transcript) and then read the info below. If you have any questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us ; we’re happy to help!

Put simply, IM is a way for people to communicate online in real-time. In other words, I type something to you. You see it and type something back. We can talk privately or we can join a group of other people, and all talk together.

Sounds simple enough, right? But how do you actually do this? Well, that’s what this week of Project Play is all about.

There are 4 steps to getting started with IM.

You don’t have to do all these steps to complete this week’s lesson, but please read them all and then check out the assignments.

Let me reiterate that—you don’t have to do all these steps to complete this week’s lesson. It’s just to give you an understanding of the process.

Step 1. Decide what service(s) you want to use for IM.

There are four primary providers of IM:

AIM (from AOL)
• Google Talk
MSN Messenger
• Yahoo! Messenger

Right now, you can only IM people who use the same service you do. So, if I’m using AOL’s instant messaging service, called AIM, then I can only talk to other AIM users. Same thing is true for the rest of the services.

Luckily for libraries thinking about providing IM reference, there is software that allows you to log into all of these services at one time. That way, people using any of the IM services can chat with you. Two examples of this software are Trillian and Meebo.

Step 2. Decide if you want to download software or not.

Most of these services have two versions: one that is web-based (so you don’t download and install software), and one that requires software installed onto your computer.

The web-based version may not have some advanced functionality that the installed version has, but it’s more secure and easier to use. When you’re just starting with IM, we recommend the web-based version. Here are the URLS for the web-based versions:

Remember Meebo and Trillian that I mentioned above? Well, Meebo is a web-based product, while Trillian is a piece of software you download and install. So, if you’re interested in trying one of these products, we’d recommend Meebo (and there’s another reason why you’ll find out about in a minute!)

Step 3. Create an account or screen name with the service(s) of your choice.

The process to create an account varies, depending on the service you choose, but you typically have to pick a screen name (which is what you’ll be called in the IM world), a password, answer a few questions, and agree to the terms of service. You can create an account by visiting any of the links in Step 2 above.

Step 4. Login to the service, and you’re ready to go!

Once you’ve created an account, you should be able to login to the service you’ve chosen.
What you can do with IM depends on what software and service you’re using, but there are a couple of standard things in all services, like:

  1. A buddy list: Your buddy list is where you keep the list of people you talk to on IM. You have to know someone’s account or screen name to add them to your buddy list. Once you have that information, there should be an icon at the top of the buddy list (usually with a plus sign on it) to easily add buddies.Once you’ve added someone to your buddy list, you can start a conversation with them by double-clicking on them in the buddy list.
  2. A status indicator: Because IM is real-time communication, it’s important to let people know if you’re available or not. If you aren’t logged into the service, then you won’t appear to be available. But, once you’ve logged in, you will appear to be available unless you say otherwise. The status indicator lets you say that you’re not available or in a meeting or busy or whatever you would like to say.

One last thing about Meebo
There is one last thing I want to tell you about Meebo—it has a really cool feature called the Meebo Me widget. Here’s what it looks like:

If you have a Meebo account, Meebo will make this little widget for you. You can then put the widget on any web page or blog. The especially cool thing is that anyone can IM you through your widget. They don’t need to have an IM account on any service!! This is a great feature thing for libraries with IM reference services. You can put this on any page on your website, and anyone can contact you.

Check out how David Lee King is using the Meebo Me widget in his library’s catalog.

Be sure to read the blog post’s comments for lots of other great ideas on how to use Meebo Me and IM.

Required Assignments:

1. Try IMing someone.

a. You can use the MeeboMe widget above to IM me (Stef at SCLS), or
b. Try the other MeeboMe widgets at our contacts page to IM Beth at OWLS, Joy at WLS, and Jean at SCLS, or
c. Try some from the “Libraries Using MeeboMe for Embedded Chat” at the Library Success Wiki.
(P.S. – This is a great place to find more information on how libraries are using IM —scroll down to the “Specific Blog Posts/Articles to check out” section.)

2. Write in your blog about your experience trying IM, and how you think IM could be useful in libraries or in general.

Optional Assignments:

1. Create an account or screen name for yourself for one or more of the IM services. Once you’ve done that, add one of the Project Play team to your buddy list. (NOTE: If you’re in Winnefox, AOL’s AIM Pro is recommended as the de facto system-wide standard. For SCLS and OWLS, you can create any an account with any service.)

2. Create a Meebo account for yourself, and a MeeboMe widget. Once you log into Meebo, you’ll see a “meebo me” link right at the top to get you started.

Fun Extra:

Hey PP BFFs!
IM is not an AFZ, so CTO, ICYC: List of Chat Acronyms
[JSYK, not all of the acronyms on this list are completely clean, so IMS if anything is offensive!]
MHOTY for joining us in Semester 2!! There will be some PANS, and, hopefully, some GOL, too.

Tags: AIM, chat, Gtalk, IM, instant messaging, Meebo, MSN, Trillian, Yahoo
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Welcome to Semester 2

January 9th, 2008 Beth Posted in Semester 2 | 4 Comments »

Welcome to the 2nd semester of Project Play! If you played along with us last Fall, you already have your blog ready to go for the next round. If you’re new to Project Play, you’ll need to complete Week 1 and Week 2 of 1st Semester, so you can register a blog and pseudonym with your system contact. We’ll officially start up Semester 2 on January 14th.

We’re looking forward to playing more, learning more, and fearing less with you in 2008! :)

Tags: blog
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Weeks 10-12: Semester 1

November 19th, 2007 Beth Posted in Semester 1 | 18 Comments »

Applause, applause!

These hands are clapping for YOU! Congratulations on making it to the final weeks of Project Play! While we have some closing thoughts included below, we’re going to take it easy on you for the next few weeks and give you some time to catch up and finish up your PP stuff.

Be sure to listen to our closing podcast (or read the Weeks 10-12 podcast transcript (PDF)) and take a look at the video and info below. If you have any questions about anything , be sure to contact us - we’re happy to help!

Wrapping Up

In Week 1 we started things off by having you watch a video about Web 2.0. The video’s creator, Michael Wesch, recently created another video entitled Information R/evolution. Play the video below to see his latest installment.

The world is changing! And it’s changing fast. We need to be willing to take a look at what we’re doing and re-frame things in light of what’s happening around us. Will every tool we’ve shared with you be something you want to use at your library? No. But we hope you’ll be more willing to play with new tools when you discover them and more open to how they might help your library solve a problem.

We also hope that you’ll use at least one new tool to invite your patrons to share their thoughts about your library. People expect to be able to participate when they visit online services. By providing opportunities for patrons to interact with our services, to let us know what they think, we show them that we value them and want to provide the best service possible. Take a look at David Lee King’s post, Valuing Users by Allowing Comments. He does a great job of talking about why inviting participation is so important.

Besides using these tools to communicate with your community, you might consider using them to find out what your community is saying about you. Your patrons might be blogging about their library experiences, and it is important for you to know what they’re saying. Do a Google or Technorati search once in a while to get a reading on what people think about what you’re offering and how your services are being received. And then take it a step further - if you find something, add a comment to the post! It shows that you’re out there and willing to start a conversation.

Our Favorite Blog Posts

We have enjoyed reading your blogs and appreciate the thought and time you put into creating your posts. We thought we’d share a few of our favorite posts from Semester 1 with you.

bottom shelf:

“Whew! I did it. I have created my blogline and have 12 newsfeeds. They are all related to libraries, news, word of the day and knitting. You now have a good idea of who I am. I am finding these assignments a little challenging, but that is good for all of us. Right? I am learning new things and taking some giant steps into a new world.”

Librarians Just Want to Have Fun:

“Okay, I figured out to connect with Flickr and it’s cool! I see lots of ways that it would be fun to utilize both a blog and Flickr for library promotion and interaction with patrons. I just got a call from the Green Bay Press Gazette and they are doing an article about our wine event. They wanted some pictures (which I eventually found on my computer) but wouldn’t it have been cool if I had an organized group of Friends’ pictures & their activities on Flickr? I think I see all the possibilities of getting better organized!”

Not your mama’s Librarian:

“I’d like to have a feedback “thingy” on a library blog so that patrons can comment on what they read. It’s pretty poor customer service if you don’t know what your patron needs - and feedback is a good way of finding out what’s on their mind. It drives me absolutely NUTS when businesses pay no attention to what their client wants or needs - having more feedback on blogs would be a great way for libraries and companies to improve services. Just my not-so-humble two cents…”


“For libraries, the use of Flickr is less reminiscence than it is promotion and creating a sense of shared community, the idea that the library belongs to all of us and we want the user to feel part of it rather than a passive customer. We can let people know what’s going on at our library and try to put photos out there that make them feel excited about what they can do there.”

Alias Muskrat Hurl:

Blogging is as blogging does
It keeps us from our jobs because
Once started it is hard to stop;

Yet that’s not all that blogging does
It keeps our minds creative thus
Improves performance on the job!

Tiny Tips for Library Fun:

“I think that tagging is the wave of the future and social bookmarking is part of the new way kids coming up are learning to work together. It can only get better. That’s part of why Project Play is so important. We need to understand younger customers so we can continue to serve them and remain relevant. I love the edgy gestalt going on right now in libraries …
I have one bottom line in my life - libraries are one of the most important social, literary and educational institutions in America and I want them to continue for years, and decades and centuries and millenia beyond my short career. If we stand still, we die. So onward”

Project Play SCLS:

“It’s exciting to me that in this web 2.0 world that we live in, anybody can make their opinions known and everybody can read them. Now I’m not suggesting that I have the most important things to say, but it’s exciting that I can say them at all.”

Jaime’s Playing with 2.0:

“LibraryThing, how I love thee…

Let me count the ways…

you are so easy to use
i add books in a snap
no more pen and paper
jotting titles on scraps
i can send out my list
at the end of the year
of books i enjoyed
to those i hold dear”

Jim Learns:

“Eureka! Wednesday a library customer asked if we “had a list” of volunteers to help catalogue a small collection. I was able to suggest LibraryThing to the customer. Knowledge is out most important product!”

Maria en espiral:

“On a related personal connection…my doctor ordered a cardiac stress test for me, which I just found out is positive, so I’ll be seeing a cardiologist on Monday. I search online for a cardiac RSS and found one that looks very informative. I not only subscribed to it, but after I registered on the site, I started a journal on the site as well.
Now see what y’all have started! :) Muchas gracias, Maria”

The Bookrat:

“Wikis are like a lot of the other tools we’ve been exploring this semester in that they require a high degree of trust. You have to trust those who choose to interact with your wiki or blog or those who tag. Moving away from an authoritative model — where such things as “authority control” are considered good — to a wide-open, highly subjective model is frightening to some and exhilarating for others. And where you land on that continuum between fright and euphoria probably depends on how much you trust the public and how much you believe in the wisdom of the crowd.”


The Last Assignment

Your last assignment for Semester 1 of Project Play is to reflect on your experience with the Project so far. Have you started using any of the tools we shared, personally or at your library? What was your favorite week and why? Do you think you’ll continue with the 2nd semester? Let us know what you thought about the process and how it has (or hasn’t) affected you.

Fun Extras

We couldn’t resist including additional tools that we like but didn’t have time to cover. Take a look when you have a minute or two and play at will!

“Email your messages, files and polls in seconds to query your friends and get the results and comments aggregated automatically for you!”

I can has cheezburger
A blog of LOLcats (or, basically a bunch of pictures of cats with funny captions)

Western Springs History
Not a tool, but an interesting use of a blog from the Thomas Ford Memorial Library. They’ve posted historical pictures of houses to a blog and given people the ability to comment on the pictures. Thomas Ford Memorial Library also has created a newspaper obituary index with a blog.

Tags: lolcats, relaytor, Thomas Ford Memorial Library, Western Springs History, wrapup
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Week 9: Semester 1

November 12th, 2007 Beth Posted in Semester 1 | 2 Comments »

The Wonderful World of Wikis

This week we’ll learn about:

  • wikis
  • Wikipedia
  • how libraries are using wikis
  • free wiki tools

Listen to the Week 9 podcast (or read the Week 9 Podcast Transcript PDF) and read the content below. If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us. We’re happy to help!

All About Wikis

Wikis use software that allows multiple people to easily edit, create, link and collaborate on shared web pages with little or no web-coding know-how. They get their name from the Hawaiian word WikiWiki, which means quick. They were named this way, because they make collaborating on a web site very quick and easy.

Take a look at the following video to get an idea of how wikis work:

Wikis vs. Blogs
Wikis differ from blogs in the following ways:

  • Blogs are organized in reverse chronological order, while wikis can be arranged however you like with links between pages building the structure.
  • Wikis are more fluid than blogs - pages can easily be added and developed without the constraints of a “post.”
  • Blogs are good for disseminating information and/or starting a dialogue, while wikis are better for collaborative documentation or guide building that works toward a common goal.

Wikis and blogs are alike in the following ways:

  • Both have commenting features built into them.
  • Both can be used and developed collaboratively by many people.
  • Both provide RSS (you can subscribe to most wikis, just as you would a blog - look for the orange RSS icon)

So, when is it good to use a wiki? Read When To Use a Wiki for some good tips


Wikipedia is the most well-known wiki on the planet and is essentially a free encyclopedia on the web that anyone can edit. As of September 2007, Wikipedia had approximately 8.29 million articles in 253 languages! You can learn more about Wikipedia by reading the page about the wiki (which includes information about the accuracy of the information provided on the site) and by exploring what’s available by searching for things in which you’re interested.

How Libraries Are Using Wikis

Libraries have really jumped on the wiki bandwagon! At the very least, a wiki could be used to build a library web site. The following examples will show you other ways libraries are using wikis.

Would wikis help solve a problem at your library? I hope the examples above provided a good range of ideas for you to explore.

Free Wiki Tools

There are some fantastic, free wiki tools out there if you’re interested in playing around with this kind of application.

  • pbwiki (free, hosted service, extremely easy to use, and highly recommended!)
  • MediaWiki (open source software that can be loaded on your own web server)
  • PmWiki (open source software that can be loaded on your own web server - wiki looks more like a web site)

You can use WikiMatrix to compare the features of different wiki applications to find the best one for your situation. You might also want to read pbwiki’s Best Practices for Creating a Collaborative Wiki to ensure the success of your wiki as you get started.


  1. Search Wikipedia for an entry on your community.
  2. If you find an entry for your community, check the External Links section (usually at the bottom of the page) to see if there is a link to your library.
  3. If there is no link to your library web site, add one. See instructions below for instructions on how to add links to Wikipedia.
  4. Write a post in your blog about your impressions of this week’s exercises and any thoughts you have on how you or your library could (or could not) use a wiki.


  1. Go to the Project Play sandbox wiki and log in. (The password was sent to you in this week’s email message.)
  2. Select a category in which you want to contribute something - click on the EDIT button to edit the page.
  3. Add something to the wiki and feel free to play around with all of the editing options available in our pbwiki.
  4. Write a post in your blog about your impressions of this week’s exercises and any thoughts you have on how you or your library could (or could not) use a wiki.


Do both of the above assignments if you’re up to it! :)

Adding Links to Wikipedia

To edit a Wikipedia page, simply click on the “edit this page” tab at the top. You’ll be taken to a new page that allows you to edit the content of the page. Each wiki requires a certain syntax to be used in order for links, bullets, etc. to appear properly. When adding links to Wikipedia, use the following format:

*[http://URLforTheLibraryGoesHere LinkTitle]


*[ Project Play]

The asterisk creates a bullet to include your link in a list format. If you’re adding a link that isn’t included in a list, like within a paragraph, just leave off the asterisk. The link title is made up of the words you want people to click on for the link to your site.

Fun Extra

Our fun extra for this week is Wikipedia’s Department of Fun. The stuff listed there is “dedicated to providing Wikipedians with things to make them stay at Wikipedia, indirectly improving the encyclopedia.” The “Wikitainment” available includes contests, games, humor, songs, trivia, and lots more. Or check out WikipediaVision and map the locations of recent Wikipedia editors all over the world. Explore, play, and become a Wikipediholic!

Tags: collaboration, pbwiki, sandbox, Wikipedia, wikis
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Week 8: Semester 1

November 5th, 2007 Joy Posted in Semester 1 | 2 Comments »

This week you’ll learn about tagging and the social bookmarking web site called (it’s pronounced just like the word “delicious”).

Listen to our podcast for this week (or read the transcript) and then read the content below. If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us — we’re happy to help!


Tagging is a new form of classification used in many Web 2.0 apps, including some you’ve already learned about in previous weeks — blogs, LibraryThing, and Flickr.

You can think of tags as informal labels, used to help organize a collection of resources or to find a specific resource again. When tagging, you can use words, acronyms, numbers, asterisks, or whatever makes sense to you. Tagging gives you the power to tailor and give organizational value to your own online experience, and contribute to the online experience of others.

The concept of tagging may cause discomfort to library staff! Rather than a cataloger assigning Library of Congress or Sears subject headings to a web site, individuals assign subjective, unstructured & free-form keywords and/or phrases. There is no controlled vocabulary or synonym control, and there are no hierarchical relationships in tagging.

In the words of Ellyssa Kroski, “The wisdom of crowds, the hive mind, and the collective intelligence are doing what heretofore only expert catalogers, information architects and website authors have done.”

tag cloudA “tag cloud” is a visual representation of tags used on a specific site or page. In most tag clouds, the more frequently used tags are depicted in a larger font, while also displayed in alphabetical order. Selecting a single tag within a tag cloud will generally lead to a collection of items that are associated with that tag.

The best way to understand a tag cloud is to see one! Here are a couple of examples:

  • The US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud
    This interesting site uses tag clouds to represent words used in presidential speeches. Along with big font meaning more mentions, there is also a difference in color to represent when a particular word reached its peak usage in history (so you can see terrorists and Iraq are not only used a lot, but also a recent addition to the presidential speech vocabulary). Use the slider above the cloud to see older speeches.

Some libraries are opening their online catalogs, allowing customers to add user-friendly tags to library item records. Melissa L. Rethlefsen says this new trend, “… help[s] librarians bridge the gap between the library’s need to offer authoritative, well-organized information and their patrons’ web experience.” One library offering this feature is the Ann Arbor District Library. In the right-hand column of the catalog’s main screen are dynamically-generated lists of the Top 10 Tags, 10 Most Recent Tags, 10 Random Tags; here’s one example of a record that’s been tagged “time travel”.

To understand what is, first enjoy this 3-minute video, “Social Bookmarking in Plain English”: is a social bookmarking website, which means it’s designed to allow you to store, create and share bookmarks online. It makes your bookmarks personal, portable & sharable. It’s a collection of favorites – yours, mine and everyone else’s.

Each bookmark contains a link, an optional description, and a set of tags. You can assign as many tags to a bookmark as you like, and easily rename or delete them later.

You can even subscribe to the newsfeed for someone’s bookmarks, or just items that have been tagged with a certain keyword; you can see examples of both of these at in the folder marked “”.

Here are examples of some ways you can use

Research – Use to keep track of all the materials you find online. Joy is doing just that for a course she’s teaching; you can peek at her bookmarks here:

Wishlist – Instead of creating an Amazon wishlist, use the tag “wishlist” for the items you’d like to receive, and then share your wishlist by giving a link to

Cookbook – When you find a great recipe on a website, save it to Tag it with the recipe’s ingredients, method or style of cooking (grill, Chinese, etc.) and when you need ideas for what to make for dinner, you can use your bookmarks to find those recipes you saved.

Collaboration – Friends, coworkers, and other groups can use a shared account, special tag, or their networks to collect and organize bookmarks that are relevant and useful to the entire group. As an example, here’s the bookmarks that I & three colleagues used as a workspace to collaborate on a WAPL 2007 conference program; we tagged items with asterisks to indicate which ones each person felt were most important to cover during the presentation, and it worked really slick. :-)

Here are examples of ways libraries are using for their patrons:
• Seminole County Library
• Menasha Public Library Recommended Websites (note the “bundling” of tags by topic)
• San Mateo Public Library (tags are bundled together by Dewey Decimal number)
• Nashville Public Library Teen Web Links (note the use of a tag cloud)

Tagging your blog postings
So, at the beginning of this lesson, we mentioned that blogs use tags. You can use tags for your blog postings on Blogger, if you’d like. In Blogger, they call tags “labels”.

When you’re adding a new post, just add some subject words (separated by commas) to the labels box at the bottom of the post. It’s that easy! You’ll see the labels appear at the bottom of the post.

If you’d like to add tags (aka labels) to posts you’ve already written, it’s easy to do that, too:
1. After you’ve logged into Blogger, click “Posts” to manage your posts.
2. Click “Edit” next to any post you want to add labels to.
3. Add your labels.
4. Click “Publish Posts”
Not so bad, right?

You can also display your labels in the sidebar of your blog, so people can click on a label and see all of the posts with that label. You do this with Blogger’s “Layout” feature. If you’ve already added a blogroll or picture or other things to your blog, you know how to do this already. Just choose to add “Labels”. If you haven’t done this before, and you’re interested in doing it, check out the step-by-step instructions from Blogger.


1. Write a post in your blog about this week’s lesson and add some tags/labels to the post. Some questions to consider: How can libraries harness the “massive amounts of participation” in tools like Where else could libraries use tags? Is the concept of tagging, with its uncontrolled vocabulary, unsettling to you?

2. Explore Search for something you’re interested in. Try clicking on different things in an entry to see what happens (What happens when you click on the title of the bookmarked page? How about the tags? How about the “saved by xxx people” link?)

Optional assignments:

1. Set up your own account and share its URL on your blog. has a How do I get started? page to get you started!

2. Choose someone’s account in who is linking to things you particularly like, and subscribe to their RSS feed in your Bloglines account. (HINT: Once you get to their page, look for the orange RSS icon at the bottom of the page!). If you can’t find someone’s account to subscribe to, try Libraryman.

Tags: Delicious, feeds, RSS, social bookmarking, tagclouds, tagging, tags
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Week 7: Semester 1

October 29th, 2007 Nichole Posted in Semester 1 | 2 Comments »


This week you’ll learn about phenomenal LibraryThing!

Listen to this week’s podcast (or read the Week 7 Podcast Transcript PDF) and read the content below. If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us. We’re happy to help!

What is LibraryThing?

LibraryThing is a wildly popular web site for creating and sharing personal library catalogs and book lists. Created by programmer Tim Spalding and supported by librarian Abby Blachly and a crack team of techies, LibraryThing has become the premier social book site on the web. Its users are called “Thingamabrarians.”

Here’s how it works. You can sign up and sign in in one step by providing a username and password (LibraryThing takes privacy very seriously, so they don’t ask for any personal info). You may add up to 200 books for free, or pay for an unlimited yearly or lifetime membership.

When you add a book to your LibraryThing account, the book is automatically cataloged by importing data from libraries and booksellers. Six stores and over 80 libraries supply basic book information. If you can’t find the correct book, you can add it manually.

So far, so good, right? Well, there’s much more! After you catalog your books, you can tag them. (Stef and Joy will get into tagging in more depth next week, but for now, just consider a tag a simple label you can make up.) You can add cover art. You can write reviews. You can add a LibraryThing badge or a “random book widget” to your blog’s sidebar. You can compare your library with other people’s collections and comment on the profiles of your LibraryThing “soulmates.”

Explore LibraryThing

As you can see, LibraryThing has the potential to be the ultimate readers’ advisory tool. They make it even easier with their “Suggester” feature. The Suggester provides book recommendations based on users’ catalogs with similar books. Conversely, the “Unsuggester” lists books it thinks you won’t like, and is good for more than a few laughs!

The Suggester works by leveraging the massive amount of Thingamabrarians’ participation to find truly smart recommendations. Unlike, which just looks at what you’ve recently bought (which can include random gifts that skew your results), LibraryThing uses the richer data gleaned from comparing users’ whole libraries.

LibraryThing also makes it easy to see book data from several book-swapping web sites such as BookMooch, What’s On My Bookshelf, and Bookins.

Finally, LibraryThing loves libraries and works with them on exciting projects such as “LibraryThing for Libraries” (LTFL). LTFL is a way for libraries to integrate LibraryThing tags and recommendations into their catalogs. See it in action at any of these libraries and check it out for yourself! (Some books won’t have the extra LTFL data - if all else fails, search Danbury PL’s catalog for Harry Potter and scroll down. :)

Related sites

There are a few other social book sites out there which deserve mention.

Shelfari allows people to catalog their books, and puts more emphasis on the social aspects of interacting with other members. goodreads is another, reviewed briefly at infodoodads. Finally, Revish has the added feature of a reading journal that you can use to keep track of what you’ve read.

Assignment and Tasks

  1. Create a LibraryThing account and add at least 5 books. (Speed tip: when adding books, try scanning the publisher’s barcode with a regular circ scanner wand - it worked like a charm when I tried it.)
  2. Write a blog post that:
    a. links to your LibraryThing account
    b. reflects on a couple strengths and weaknesses of LT
    c. lists a book you have or like, and a book that the Suggester (or Unsuggester!) recommends.

Fun extra: FOR DUMMIES book cover generator

Since this is a bookish week, we thought you’d enjoy this one: supply your own title & cover info, and the Dummiez Book Cover Maker 2007 will generate a “For Dummies” book cover image. They say you can even buy your image as a fridge magnet!

Tags: book cover generator, booklists, catalogs, LibraryThing, readers advisory, reviews, social cataloging, social networking, Suggestor, tags, UnSuggestor
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Week 6: Semester 1

October 22nd, 2007 Beth Posted in Semester 1 | 18 Comments »

Image Sharing & Editing

Digital cameras have changed how we take and store our photos. They also have made it possible to share our photos in amazing new ways. Sharing images in the Web 2.0 world provides another way to express yourself, to share your view of the world with others, and to “discuss” or inspire discussion in a visual way rather than in the textual ways we’ve explored thus far. This week, you’ll learn about:

  • Flickr
  • free online image editing tools
  • some issues to consider before sharing images online

Listen to our next podcast (or read the Week 6 Podcast Transcript PDF) and read the content below. If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us. We’re happy to help!

About Sharing Images Online

All About Flickr

Flickr is just one of many image sharing sites available these days, but by far the most popular. Learn about Flickr by watching the video below from U Tech Tips:

You can explore more of Flickr’s features with the following resources:


Flickr users assign tags to their photos to make them easier to find later. Learn more about tags and look at Flickr’s most popular tags to get an idea of what people are using. Flickr also allows geotagging, which places your photos on a map. If you’re curious about geotagging, check out their video on the topic. (If tags seem a little foreign to you right now, don’t worry. We’ll be covering tags and folksonomies in more depth during Week 8 of Project Play.)


Flickr has a commenting feature much like blogs. Learn more about comments on Flickr.


The video above talked about groups a bit. Groups are a great way to collaborate on a specific theme, topic, event or place, and after all, Web 2.0 is all about collaboration, right? Learn more about groups at the Flickr FAQ.


You can search Flickr by tag or by full text keyword. I’d like you to take a minute to explore what people have shared via Flickr. Go to Search for some of the following and see what you find:

  • Wisconsin
  • the name of your community
  • your favorite place
  • your favorite pastime
  • Nancy Pearl

Libraries on Flickr

Explore the following library examples on Flickr:

There are also some library groups in Flickr:

Do the examples above give you any ideas on how you or your library might use Flickr?

Flickr Toys

One of the best things about Flickr is that a bunch of cool toys have been created to interact with the site. Take a look at fd’s flickr toys to see what fun you can have with your Flickr images. My personal favorites are Captioner and Magazine Cover. Spell with Flickr was mentioned in the video above and is definitely fun to try out. Here’s my attempt:

Other Photo Sharing Sites

While Flickr is the most popular, it’s certainly not the only option. Here are some others for your consideration:

Copyright & Photo Posting Etiquette

There are some things to consider when posting identifiable photos of other people, especially minors, in a publicly accessible place like Flickr:

  • Consider getting the person’s permission before posting their photo, and if the person is a minor, consider getting their parent’s permission before posting.
  • Don’t post people’s full names with the photo - consider using only first names or simply a description, such as, “winner of our iPod giveaway” or “our teen advisory group.”
  • Meet with your library’s or municipality’s attorney to create a policy on how your library will handle sharing photos - will permission from parents be required before posting pictures of minors? will photos of minors be shared at all? will names be included with photos or not? It’s best to create a policy that reflects the values of your community.
  • Never upload pictures that weren’t taken by you unless you have the photographer’s consent.
  • Always give credit when you include photos taken by someone else - this is especially true when you are linking to someone else’s photo in your blog.

In addition to the etiquette tips included above, you should be aware of copyright issues relating to online images:

  • “In most parts of the world, including the U.S., Canada, EU countries, and Japan, you are automatically granted copyrights to your photos” (from Flickr’s FAQ).
  • Some people choose to use a Creative Commons license for their images as an alternative to full blown copyright. You can select from about six default licenses to find one that best suits your needs.
  • When exploring Flickr or other online image sites, look for the copyright info for each photo so you know if you can use the image and how. On Flickr, copyright info is included in the right hand column under “Additional Information.”

Online Image Editors

NOTE: This section is optional! Those of you with digital cameras will definitely want to take a look.

If you have a digital camera, you might be interested to know that you don’t necessarily need to invest in expensive software to create neat effects with your digital photos. Flickr and most of the other sites included above offer some basic photo editing, but there are also a variety of free online editors to explore. Here’s a short list:

  • flauntR
    Get images directly from Flickr or your computer, then create cool effects with the click of a button. Requires creating a username and password, but the service is free.
  • Phixr
    Phixr requires you to create a username and password, but is free to use. You can crop, rotate, resize, fix red eye, create a border, round corners, add text, and add other effects. Allows exporting to Flickr!
  • Snipshot
    Open a picture from your computer, then resize, crop, enhance, adjust lighting, or change to grayscale. All available without logging in. Very easy to use and allows exporting to Flickr.
  • ResizR
    Limits your editing to resizing and rotating images. Supports JPG file format only. Great if you only need to resize something to post on your web site!


Find an image in Flickr you would like to blog about. Link to the image from your blog post, or, if you create a Flickr account, use Flickr’s blogging tool to add the image to your post. You can also choose to use Blogger’s photo upload tool to include your own photo in your blog. Be sure to include in your blog post your thoughts about Flickr and its application in your personal or professional life. Possible questions to answer in your post: What kinds of things are happening at your library that could be shared on Flickr? What are barriers that would prevent you or your library from using Flickr? What is your favorite feature in Flickr? What do you dislike about Flickr?


Create a free Flickr account (see MediaMazine’s easy instructions) and upload your own digital photos to your account. Tag at least one of your images “projectplay” (no spaces) and make it public. Use Flickr’s blogging tool to add the image to your post. You can also choose to use Blogger’s photo upload tool to include your photo in your blog. Be sure to include in your blog post your thoughts about Flickr and its application in your personal or professional life. Possible questions to answer in your post: What kinds of things are happening at your library that could be shared on Flickr? What are barriers that would prevent you or your library from using Flickr? What is your favorite feature in Flickr? What do you dislike about Flickr?

Extra: pikipimp & JibJab

pikipimp help you pimp your pik! Upload a photo or specify a URL where your photo resides on the web, then add blings, text, glitter, or animation. Here’s a sample:

Another fun way to play with images is to upload a photo to JibJab’s Starring You! feature. Upload photos to create your “heads,” then add them to a selection of dance routines for a good laugh. You can use “Public Heads” to create new videos if you don’t have images of your own to upload.

If you use pikipimp or JibJab to create some fun photos and videos, be sure to post or link to them in your Project Play blog!

Tags: comments, copyright, Flickr, image editors, images, JibJab, mashups, pictures, pikipimp, social networking, tags
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Week 5: Semester 1

October 15th, 2007 Beth Posted in Semester 1 | 3 Comments »

Welcome to Week 5 of Project Play! There aren’t any formal exercises this week, as we’d like you to have a bit of time to catch your breath and catch up on anything you haven’t had time to do in the project so far.

We’ll be gathering at the WLA conference this week in Green Bay. Join us on Wednesday, October 17th, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (or any time in between!) at TitleTown Brewing Company (very close to the hotel). We hope we’ll see you there!

Tags: play, WLA
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Week 4: Semester 1

October 8th, 2007 Stef Posted in Semester 1 | 12 Comments »

Feedback Thingies

This week, you’ll learn about how to get feedback from your community, an important part of Library 2.0.

You’ll learn:

  • Why it’s important to get feedback from your community
  • How to use blog comments to get feedback
  • How to get feedback using an online survey tool called SurveyMonkey

Listen to this week’s podcast and read the content below. If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us. We’re happy to help! Listen to the podcast by clicking on the play button below or read the Project Play Week 4 podcast transcript (pdf).

Comments on blogs

One way to get feedback is to allow (and encourage!) comments on your blog.

I’d like you to read David Lee King’s blog posting “Inviting Participation, Part 4: Specific Tools Blogs

(This is part 4 of a series, so he’ll mention things from earlier posts…but don’t worry about it. You should be able to follow what he’s saying without reading the earlier posts.)

So, actively asking people to participate is a great way to start a conversation on a blog.

Some other tips:

  • Write in a conversational way: Try to write like you’re talking with someone. Avoid being stilted or stuffy in your tone. It’ll keep people from responding.
  • Respond to people’s comments: If you want your blog to be a conversation, you need to keep talking! If someone comments on your blog, make an effort to respond to them if the comment warrants response.

You can practice these “inviting conversation” skills in your Project Play blog (in fact, that will be one of your assignments this week!)

By default, your Project Play blog allows for comments, but only if people have signed into Blogger. If you’d like to encourage easier participation, you can change it to allow anyone to comment.

You can also set the comments to be moderated, meaning that comments will only appear on your blog if you approve them. Moderating is a way to stop any inappropriate or spam comments, so I’d encourage you to consider turning on comment moderation.

Here are step-by-step instructions for changing your blog comment settings:

  1. Sign into Blogger.
  2. In the “Manage Your Blogs” area, click “Settings”.
  3. Click the “Comments” link in the bar below the tabs.
  4. Change the “Who can comment?” question to allow everyone to comment, if you’d like.
  5. Change “Enable comment moderation?” to “Yes” if you’d like to moderate comments.Provide an email address if you’d like to receive an email when there is a comment to moderate. Otherwise, you can go into Blogger and moderate comments there.You can find more details about comment moderation here: “How do I moderate comments on my blog?”
  6. Click “Save Settings”

Online surveys

If you want to get more organized and specific feedback, using an online survey could be the ticket. It’s a great way to get feedback on all sorts of topics – customer satisfaction, collection development priorities, programming ideas, etc. etc. etc.

Keep in mind, though, that how you advertise surveys really makes a difference in who responds. If you only put bookmarks in the library, guess what? You’ll only get library users to respond! If you put an ad in the local paper, you’ll get a wider audience. If you only have the survey online, guess what? You’ll only get people who use a computer! You may want to create a print copy of your survey, too.

SurveyMonkey is a great tool for making surveys. It’s easy to use, and it’s free for small surveys (10 questions or less and less than 100 responses). If you want to do a bigger survey, it’s only $19.95 per month, and you aren’t locked into any longer than a month. The paid version also allows you to print a PDF version of your survey, which is an easy way to have paper copies available.

To get started with SurveyMonkey, check out their tutorials. You will need to create an account, but you only need to provide a username, password, and email.


Part 1: If you haven’t already, change your blogger settings if you’d like to allow anyone to comment or to moderate comments. (See the step-by-step instructions in the reading above).

Part 2: Post to your blog about this week’s topic. Some ideas: How could you use these feedback thingies for your library? What would you like to learn about them? What barriers do you see to doing this?

End your post with an active invitation for other Project Play participants to comment on your posting.

Part 3: Check out some of the other participant’s blogs. Comment on at least 2 posts from 2 separate blogs.

Bonus Assignment:

Use SurveyMonkey to create an online suggestion box. Ask for at least the suggester’s name and email address (and make them optional) and the suggestion (and make that mandatory). You can get started using SurveyMonkey’s “tutorials”. Link to your survey from your blog.

In case you want to try this, but don’t have the time to review the tutorials, or if you get stuck, there are Step-by-Step instructions at the end of this lesson!

Extras: The Automatic Flatterer and Sloganizer

You’ve made it through 4 weeks! You deserve some praise!
The Automatic Flatterer can give you that, and all you have to do is enter your name! (You will have to let it praise you a few times to get out of the site….don’t be alarmed… deserve it!)

…and after all that praise, I bet you’re feeling like you can take on the world! Use the Sloganizer to find the perfect slogan whatever your cause. Enter whatever you’d like and hit “Sloganize!”—It’ll do the rest!

Step-by-step instructions for creating an online suggestion box with SurveyMonkeyStep 1: Create an account with SurveyMonkey
a. Click “Join Now for Free!”
b. Complete the form and submit it.Step 2: Create a new survey
a. Click on “Create Survey”
b. Enter a title for the survey, and click “Create Survey”Step 3: Add questions
a. Click “Add Question Here” button
b. Choose your question type from the pull-down (Your name and email questions should be “Single Textbox”. Your suggestion question should be “Comment/Essay Box”.)
c. Enter the Question Text (or what you want them to see next to the box).
d. Check “Require Answer to Question” if you want the question to be required.
e. Click “Save Changes”
f. Repeat for all questions.

Step 4: Get the link for collecting responses
a. Click the “collect responses” tab at the top of the survey.
b. Since you want a link for your webpage, don’t worry about changing anything on the first screen.
c. Click “Next Step”
d. Copy the link in the “Sending Survey Link in an Email” section. (It might seem like you should take the “Placing Survey Link on a Webpage” link, but your blog doesn’t need all the extra code in that part.)
(Tip: You can use CTRL+C to copy the link)
e. The top of this page urges you to review the collector’s setting and restrictions before sending out the link. Feel free to take a look at these. If you were doing this for real, you would want to check these setting before sending out the survey. For playing, the defaults are fine.

Step 5: Put the link on your blog
a. While editing a post, highlight the word or words you’d like to be the link.
b. Click the link button (it’s between the font color and the left-align buttons right above where you are typing).
c. You’ll be asked to enter the URL. Paste the survey link here. (Tip: You can use CTRL+V to paste in this box)

Step 6: Check out your results
SurveyMonkey doesn’t send you an email when people complete a survey. You have to go to their site to see responses. To see them, just click “Analyze Results” while in your survey.

If you’d like to see a completed example, here’s my Online suggestion box example

Tags: Automatic Flatterer, comments, feedback, Sloganizer, suggestion box, SurveyMonkey, surveys
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Week 3: Semester 1

October 1st, 2007 Joy Posted in Semester 1 | 16 Comments »

RSS and Newsreaders

Last week you started your own blog. This week you’ll learn about the RSS feeds that are automagically created by your blog & other blogs, as well as by other types of content.

You’ll learn:

  • What RSS is and why you might want to use it
  • How to use a newsreader to subscribe to RSS feeds
  • How to know when an RSS feed is available

Listen to our third podcast and read the content below. If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us. We’re happy to help! Listen to the podcast by clicking on the play button below or read the Project Play Week 3 Podcast Transcript (pdf).

What is RSS?

The initials RSS stand for “Really Simple Syndication”. RSS is a format for syndicating & publishing content online through newsfeeds. An RSS feed is updated as soon as the original content is updated.

RSS is revolutionizing the way content creators share information, and changing the way people consume information. It’s an efficient (and free) way to stay informed on topics that interest you.

Enjoy this video which explains RSS in Plain English (note: Google Reader is shown instead of Bloglines, but you’ll get the gist):

What’s a newsreader, and why do I want one?

A newsreader is software that lets you subscribe to and read RSS feeds. With RSS feeds & a newsreader:

  • Updates come to you, instead of you seeking them
  • You tailor the news to fit your needs
  • News is gathered in one place
  • You can review lots of content in a short time
  • It’s easy to scan headlines & read posts

How do I find library newsfeeds to which I can subscribe?

We’ve set up for you a core collection of library feeds at You can preview them & choose the ones to which you’d like to subscribe.

But wait – there’s more! You can find RSS feeds at lots of web content besides blogs:

RSS buttonsA good way to tell if web content has an RSS feed is when you see a small (often orange) RSS icon on a page or in your web browser’s address bar (see some examples). Some web pages even have a “subscribe with Bloglines” button!

What other ways can I use RSS feeds?

You can display RSS feeds on your blog or web page to provide content that’s automatically & frequently updated. These feeds can be from one of your library’s blogs, or from an outside source like newspaper headlines. Or they could be tags used to collect & update content on a subject guide web page.

Some free RSS display generators you can try include Feed to JavaScript, Feed Digest, RSS Mixer, and RSS-to-Javascript.

Here are examples of some of the ways libraries are re-purposing RSS feeds on their web sites:

  • Denver Public Library There’s a live news feed on the right-hand side of the page; feeds are from Reuters, NY Times and other news sources
  • Homer Township Public Library District (uses Feed2JavaScript) The library’s home page displays the headlines of library blogs & news sources in the center column. Sources of the newsfeeds are Library News & Announcements, the Director’s Blog, Teen Events, and local news via Google News
  • MIT Libraries This page uses the RSS feed generated by the library’s list to populate their Virtual Reference Collection

Find more ideas for using newsfeeds at the RSS4Lib blog.


You’re going to set up a free Bloglines account and subscribe to at least 10 newsfeeds.


1. Register for a free account at Bloglines.
—This Bloglines Tutorial walks you through how to set up a Bloglines account & subscribe to newsfeeds. Follow Steps 1 to 3 to set up your Bloglines account (steps 4 through 9 are optional because they cover how to subscribe to different types of feeds).
—If you prefer, watch this video that demonstrates the steps.

2. Subscribe to at least 10 newsfeeds. Here are some for starters:
—Project Play participant blogs
—Preview & choose from a core collection of library-related blogs we’ve put together for you at the ProjectPlay blogroll
—Pick from a collection of library blogs at the Blogging Libraries Wiki
—Find more than just library blogs:

3. Create a post on your blog about this assignment. Ideas for what you can write about: What do you like or about RSS feeds and aggregators? How do you think you might be able to use this in your work or personal life?
Optional: If you’re up for it, in your blog posting provide a link to the address of your public Bloglines account; details are at

Optional task for those who already use Bloglines:

Extra: Cute Overload

Every week on PP2.0 we give you a little extra something fun; this week it’s Cute Overload!

Winner of the Webby’s 2007 People’s Voice Award and the 2007 Bloggies award for Best American Weblog, Cute Overload is guaranteed to give you a daily dose (or overdose) of “prosh” critters, from aardvarks to zebra finches. News flash: Cute Overload now proven beneficial to your health!

“A thing, accompanied by a smaller version of that thing, is always cute” and “You’re cute if your furniture doubles as a meal’ are just two of Cute Overload “35 Rules of Cuteness”.

Subscribe to the Cute Overload RSS newsfeed using this URL:

Tags: Bloglines, Cute Overload, feeds, Google Reader, newsreaders, RSS
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Week 2: Semester 1

September 26th, 2007 admin Posted in Semester 1 | 31 Comments »

Getting Started

This week, you get to dig in and create your own blog! You’ll learn:

  • what a blog is
  • why libraries (and individuals!) write blogs
  • how to create your own blog

Listen to our second podcast and read the content below. If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us. We’re happy to help!

Listen to the podcast by clicking on the play button below or read the Week 2 Podcast Transcript (pdf).

What is a blog?

Grab yourself a fresh cup of coffee/tea or a Coke, and enjoy this 3-minute video about blogs:

Grab yourself a fresh cup of coffee/tea or a Coke, and enjoy these brief introductory articles about blogs:

  • Wordpress Introduction to Blogging: What is a blog? (stop when you get to the header “The Blog Content.”)
  • Academic Blogging: Anatomy of a Blog (read sections 2.1 through 2.5.) (updated 30 Nov 2007)

Explore some library blogs

So, why would a library blog?

Darlene Fichter explains at Information Today: Why and How to Use Blogs to Promote Your Library’s Services. Here’s what she says a blog can do for your library:

  • promote library events
  • list new arrivals of books, movies, music, etc.
  • review books
  • provide important community news (about elections, community events, services, etc.)
  • reach a new audience of web-savvy patrons

WebJunction’s article Blogs for Libraries is a fantastic case for libraries using blogs.

Take a moment to explore some of these library blogs (some may be familiar to you!):

  • Feel-good Librarian - “the true stories of one small middle-aged Reference librarian, sheltered safely somewhere in a Midwestern public library”
  • Library Garden - a group blog from several NJ librarians
  • MADreads - Madison Public Library’s book review blog
  • The Shifted Librarian - Jenny Levine and cool technologies for libraries
  • Tame the Web - Michael Stephens’ blog about libraries and technology

If you like, go to the Blogging Libraries Wiki for dozens more.


You’re going to use a blog as an online journal for your PP2.0 experience. Each week, we’ll ask you to post your homework on your blog. (That’s how we’ll track your progress, too.)

You can sign up with your real name, or use a pseudonym. You may decide to retire your PP2.0 blog after the project is over, or you might like blogging so much you’ll keep it up - which would be awesome!


  1. Register for a blog at Blogger and write your first post.
  2. Go to this online form and register your blog so the PP2.0 coordinators can track your progress.

Help with Blogger

These are instructions for setting up a blog at Blogger. If you are comfortable using another blogging service, or your library is providing you with a blog, please feel free to use it instead (though the PP2.0 coordinators may not be able to answer all your questions about blog services other than Blogger). One thing we do ask is that the blog you use has an RSS feed - most do by default.

  1. Go to Blogger and follow the “Create a blog in 3 easy steps” instructions.
  2. Step 1: Create a free Google account if you don’t have one already (because Google owns Blogger).
  3. Step 2: Name your blog and give it a URL.
  4. Step 3: Choose a template.
  5. Write a blog post. Type a title and some text in the body, and click “Publish.”
  6. Look at your blog - click “View Blog.”
  7. Bookmark your blog and the Blogger start page.
  8. Log out and log back in again just for practice.

Fun Extra: Lifehacker

Every week on PP2.0 we want to give you a little extra something fun. Let’s talk about Lifehacker!

Lifehacker is a blog of tips and tricks “for streamlining your life with computers (and sometimes without).” “Hack” comes from “hacker,” and in this sense means a faster, better way to get something done. From the Lifehacker FAQ:

A hacker believes that information-sharing is a powerful positive good, and that it is a hacker’s duty to share her expertise - so we will.

Recent fun posts from Lifehacker include Top 100 Productivity Enhancing Foods and Tips for Killer Presentations.

Tags: blog, Blogger, blogging, LifeHacker
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Week 1: Semester 1

September 26th, 2007 admin Posted in Semester 1 | 13 Comments »

Getting Started

Listen to our first podcast (by clicking on the play button below), familiarize yourself with this wiki, and read/watch the content below. If you have questions about anything along the way, be sure to contact us. We’re happy to help!

What is Web 2.0?

You’ve probably heard a lot of hype about Web 2.0 already, but if you don’t know much about it the following video will give you a good idea of where we started and where we are today. It moves pretty quickly, but that’s life these days, no?

(The above video is by mwesch on YouTube)

So, as you can see from watching the video, we have moved from linear, one-way information providing to an interactive, participatory climate where people want and expect to be invited to communicate their thoughts and needs regarding our services.

Predictors of Web 2.0

So how can you tell if you’re using a Web 2.0 site vs. any other site on the Internet? There are a few predictors you can spot that will give you an indication. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Registration:
    Web 2.0 sites invite you to create your own account. If you are a registered user, you receive special features or capabilities that help you create a unique user experience.
  2. FAQs/”Learn More”:
    Providing enough information for you to know whether or not you want to register at a site is another Web 2.0 predictor. These sites want you to learn more about what they offer and make it easy to do so.
  3. Tour:
    Tours are the Web 2.0 way to make it easy for people to decide if the site is worth creating an account at. Some tours are static pages with images and text and some are videos that demonstrate how the site’s features work.
  4. Terms:
    Whether it’s privacy statements or terms of use for the site, these features are common predictors of Web 2.0.
  5. A way to do something:
    Web 2.0 gives you a way to do something on their site. With Doodle, it’s the ability to create a poll that anyone you share it with can respond to. Other sites allow you to create music lists, family trees or other information that you can then share with others.
  6. An invitation to add your comments and/or questions:
    Inviting participation is universal to Web 2.0 sites. Communication, input, and discussion are a hallmark and essential to 2.0 success.

Once you become more familiar with these features, you’ll see that Web 2.0 sites really aren’t that different from each other. Look for the commonalities, and there will be less to fear as you encounter new tools.

Why Web 2.0?

The Pew Internet & American Life Project does a lot of research about how Americans are using Web 2.0 and other technologies. If you haven’t checked out their reports, we’d encourage you to do so. In fact, we’ll point you to reports on specific topics as we address them in the coming weeks.

But there are a couple of themes about Web 2.0 that you’ll see throughout their reports and other research:

1. It’s not just for kids

While more young adult internet users may be adopting Web 2.0 technologies, it isn’t just kids using these technologies. Here’s a couple of examples:

  • The majority of adult internet users in the U.S. report watching or downloading some type of online video content and 19% do so in a typical day. [Online Videos Go Mainstream]
  • In a 2004 study of instant messaging (IM), 53 million American adults regularly used IM programs. (And that was 3 years ago! Imagine how many more there are today!) [How Americans Use IM]

2. It’s not just for fun

You might think that most people are using these Web 2.0 technologies for fun or personal stuff – Chatting with friends, reading blogs about their hobbies, or watching silly things (like the Kitty Cat Dance) on YouTube.

And you would be right. Most people are spending SOME of their time that way. But you know what? People are doing research and learning, too:

  • The Pew study about video found that 37% of adult internet users have watched news video, and 22% have watched educational video.
  • A recent study from the National School Boards Association found that 60% of students use these tools to discuss education-related topics. The majority of school districts have figured this out, and now use some sort of social tool to communicate with students, parents, and the community.

Where do you fit?

Another great study by the Pew group is called “A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users” (whew! What a mouthful!). The title’s complicated, but the findings are pretty easy to understand. They surveyed a bunch of Americans to find out how they used different technology. They discovered that there are 10 unique groups:

Elite Tech Users (31% of American adults):

  • Omnivores (8%)
    They have the most information gadgets and services, which they use voraciously to participate in cyberspace and express themselves online and do a range of Web 2.0 activities such as blogging or managing their own Web pages.
  • Connectors (7%)
    Between feature-packed cell phones and frequent online use, they connect to people and manage digital content using ICTs - all with high levels of satisfaction about how ICTs let them work with community groups and pursue hobbies.
  • Lackluster Veterans (8%)
    They are frequent users of the internet and less avid about cell phones. They are not thrilled with ICT-enabled connectivity.
  • Productivity Enhancers (8%)
    They have strongly positive views about how technology lets them keep up with others, do their jobs, and learn new things.

Middle-of-the-road Tech Users (20% of American adults):

  • Mobile Centrics (10%)
    They fully embrace the functionality of their cell phones. They use the internet, but not often, and like how ICTs connect them to others.
  • Connected But Hassled (10%)
    They have invested in a lot of technology, but they find the connectivity intrusive and information something of a burden.

Few Tech Assets (49% of American adults):

  • Inexperienced Experimenters (10%)
    They occasionally take advantage of interactivity, but if they had more experience, they might do more with ICTs.
  • Light But Satisfied (15%)
    They have some technology, but it does not play a central role in their daily lives. They are satisfied with what ICTs do for them.
  • Indifferents (11%)
    Despite having either cell phones or online access, these users use ICTs only intermittently and find connectivity annoying.
  • Off the Network (15%)
    Those with neither cell phones nor internet connectivity tend to be older adults who are content with old media.

It’s interesting to think about this table from a public library perspective. Public library patrons come from all 10 of these groups. You don’t have to be a Omnivore to help them, but you do need to be able to communicate with all of them. You need to be able to understand what their information needs are, and how to help them (which is what we’ve always been about, right?).

It might be helpful to know where you fit in this table. Now is the time to find out!

So, are you an Omnivore? Connected but Hassled? Something else?

Does this change your perception of yourself? Does it change how you look at other groups or at the technologies?

To share, you’ll have to enter a name, but it doesn’t have to be a real name. You can enter whatever you’d like. Then choose your category.

Visit this same link to see the results from all the Project Play participants!

David Lee King, a library guy who thinks and writes about technology a lot, gives us another way to look at ourselves:

Think of this as a pond, with the middle being traditional library services, and the circles out from the center being ripples in the pond. The further from the center, the more “Library 2.0″. If you’d like, you can read a more complete description from David Lee King.

Where do you see yourself in this “pond”? Are you vaguely aware of Library 2.0 technologies, but not sure what they are or how they work? Or are you ready to experiment and are looking for ideas of how to use them in your library? Or are you in the more traditional center, and not even sure these technologies are worthwhile?

Well, no matter what, you’re in the right place! Project Play will help you with all these questions.

Lifelong Learning

Project Play isn’t just about learning about Web 2.0 and how to apply it to your library. It’s also about encouraging you to be brave about exploring new technologies and to recognize the importance of lifelong learning and how it can help you adapt more easily to change.

Exploration requires a spirit of curiosity, open-mindedness, and playfulness. Lifelong learning requires the same spirit, but also a commitment to being personally responsible for your own education. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know, just be brave enough to play and find out more.

Take some time to read the articles and visit the site listed below. They will hopefully help you think about your own attitude, why exploring is important, and how you can approach your own development as a person and a library professional.

Congratulations on signing up for Project Play and completing Week One. And remember: Play more. Learn more. Fear less!

Tags: Doodle, Pew, web2.0
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