17 December 2010

I meant to

"I meant to."  Those three simple little words, that one phrase seems to have taken up a lot of my mind this year.

"I meant to do more blogging," "I meant to call you," I meant to hang out with you," "I meant to do that project," and on and on.  I keep using it.  And you know what?  I'm tired of it.  I'm tired of saying "I meant to" and I'm tired of things getting set by the wayside for whatever reason.

My goal for next you and beyond is to stop using that phrase so much.  To stop settings things down and looking back a week later and say "well I meant to do that."  Instead I'm just going to go ahead and do them.  I'm going to finally finish some of the things I set out to do.  And I'm going to bury "I meant to" in a deep hole in the middle of the desert.

28 July 2010

Still alive and kicking....

So it's been about 4 months since I last posted and I honestly didn't mean for it to be that long, which of course means that I have a backlog of posts to do.

So what have I been up to these past 4 months?  Well...I've been doing a bit to stay busy:
  • Attended and presented at Computers in Libraries
  • Attended and presented at American Library Association (ALA)
  • Promoted to Assistant Professor at MPOW (no we don't have tenure as librarians, but we do go through a promotion process of sorts and have academic ranks)
  • A change in job title, yes again...we dropped the "Learning Commons" from my title and I'm now just "Emerging Technologies & Services/Interlibrary Loan Librarian"
  • Been working on a mobile page for MPOW and am almost ready to launch it
  • Launched a text messaging service for MPOW
  • Using Google Forms for a whole bunch of stuff 
  • Put together a Georgia Interlibrary Loan Unconference.
And...I'm sure there were other things that will come to me later, but those are the major ones I think.  I'll be putting together posts about most of them, so hope you stick around and enjoy.

    06 April 2010

    Computers in Libraries--I'll be there will you?

    I am once again making the journey to Computers In Libraries 2010, which is just next week.

    And as an added bonus this year I'll be doing a CyberTour down in the Exhibit hall on Wed. 4/14 at 12:30-12:45, Top 10 Free Alternatives.  I'll be presenting on free webbased technologies.

    I'll also be blogging again this year (as much as possible at least) so that you can follow from afar if you so desire.

    If you'd like to meet up send me a message or leave one in the comments below.

    31 March 2010

    Facebook and the (dis)illusion of privacy

    There was a time back when Facebook first began that people hyped what it offered over MySpace.  It was a cleaner looking profile, less spam accounts,  and more importantly there was greater control over who could view what...in other words privacy.  Over the last year or so Facebook seems to have forgotten about privacy.  They seem to have forgotten that privacy still matters to a lot of people and that they don't want the entire world to know everything about them.

    Last year there was the brouhaha over the major changes that Facebook made to its privacy policy. And while some of the concerns didn't come to pass (such as the terms of service agreement  stating that Facebook would forever own your content [ Facebook's response]) other changes did.

    While the focus seemed to be giving users more control over what they shared these controls were more hidden and made it easier to miss something and inadvertently share something with the wrong audience.  Such as this college professor.  Take a look at this post from the Electronic Frontier Foundation where they discuss the good, bad, and ugly of the new privacy terms.  Take a close look at what they say about the privacy settings...and how its more difficult to limit who has access.  While you do have more control over some settings it's an illusion in others.  Look at this quote from them:
    Our conclusion? These new "privacy" changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data.
    Facebook wants us to share more information, more than we may want to be comfortable with.  Especially in relation to what some "pre-approved" 3rd party websites and applications can do.  For example, if one of your friends accesses or uses their application then that company has access to your information.  Who are these applications/websites?  Don't know, Facebook hasn't released that information to the public yet.

    Now some people are probably wondering what's the big deal?  Take a look at your friend list. Our differences define our friendships just as much as what we share in common.  Do you really share everything with all of your Facebook friends? I kinda of doubt it. Then why would you want some company or application to know stuff about you!? You should have the choice to let them get that information.

    The biggest problem with these changes is that Facebook is making them the default setting. You have to opt-out of it or hunt through settings to change. This is not how privacy works. The default should be for people to opt-in to sharing more information with companies. People don't join Facebook to connect with products and placement ads, they join to connect with people! If Facebook gives out our information to any company that gives them money, then Facebook is no better than a telemarketer in my opinion, acting as a broker for our personal data. Facebook's motto seems to have become "We're evil, we don't care, deal with it."

    Yes, the web is making the world more social and its easier to find things out about people, but YOU get to choose what you want to share. You are allowed to make the decision to post stupid comments on Twitter or upload embarrassing pictures to Flickr. You control what goes out there.

    Am I going to delete my Facebook profile right now? No...not just yet.  But I am placing Facebook on warning.  They need to understand that they don't get to dictate privacy...the users do.

    For more information on other lapses in privacy/security:
    E-mail addresses made public for 30 minutes
    Anger towards changes

    Settings to check:
    here and here

    19 March 2010

    Libraries facing closings and budget cuts...again

    I'm going to try to be as non-political as I can with this post...

    As many of you have seen or heard, libraries are once again faced with cut backs and closures.  Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library is forced to cut $2 million dollars which will close 12 branches and lay off 148 people, with the possibility of having their budget cut in half next year(article link.)  And they aren't the only ones.  NJ Public Libraries are also having trouble.  And others are suffering as well.

    Now I'm not going to argue that libraries are the be all end all, nor am I going to get into the argument over what libraries should and shouldn't be but they are important for many people. They are a way of accessing computers, the internet, finding jobs, keeping in touch, learning, a place out of the cold and rain, and more for so many.

    Yes, budgets need to be tightened.  Could libraries do without some of the funding they get.  Likely they could cut in some places.  But should they and education be one of the first areas politicians go too to "trim the fat?"  No, it shouldn't be. 

    The first places that should be cut politicians need to look at themselves.  Start cutting your salaries, your extra expenses, start staying at the cheap hotels and fly coach.  I'm not saying that this would save the state or city from going into debt, but it would be nice if they led the way in cuts and set an example.

    When libraries have to cut their budgets it is devastating for them to be able to catch up again, even after money comes back.  At MPOW our book budget was cut 10 or more years ago.  We're still playing catch up even now with new money.  It's not a criticism or a blame game, its just a fact.  When libraries have money cut it means branches and staff close, books and other materials can't be ordered and shared, equipment fails, and programing is cut.  Even when money comes back it takes a while to makeup for lost time.

    You don't have to agree with me on where budget cuts come from or how to go about saving libraries.  But please do help save them.  Libraries are important to a community, whether they be public, school, academic, or other.  They deserve to live.

    Ebooks and Interlibrary Loan

    At my current job I'm in charge of the Interlibrary Loan Department and I got to thinking (and yes this is dangerous) ...if we can deliver articles electronically and almost instantly, why not books?  I know not everything is digitized yet or have ebooks companions, but there is a good bit out there.  What if we worked with the vendors to create a collection of ebooks that libraries could have access too and we could "borrow" books for our patrons?  

    How cool would that be???  We could change the shape of research and provide almost instant access to materials our patrons need.  Clearly all titles wouldn't be able to be borrowed this way, but I think it would put a good dent in what a lot of libraries are looking for.  And it would allow us to provide faster and better access to our patrons.  Yes they would have to read the book on the computer screen or an ebook reader, but for some of them having instant access will mean a lot more to their research.

    How would this work you ask?  My idea in simple terms would be that libraries would have access to a rather large collection of ebooks.  They select the title they need and the system would generate an access link, unique to each request of course.  They would send the link to the patron explaining how the process worked and that the link would expire after a certain time period, say three weeks to a month.

    The bigger problem would be pricing.  Vendors of course would want to make money off of this and libraries would want something affordable.  So perhaps a compromise could be reached.  They could charge say $4 to $5 dollars for access to the book or they could charge based upon access to the collection, such as 100-200 books a year would cost $300.

    Now you ask why would the vendor want to go with this?  Well I think in the long term they could actually make money off of it.  There could be a clause that after borrowing the same book 3 times the library either has to purchase the book or find other means of getting the material.  It sounds harsh, but the vendor needs something out of this arrangement.  It would also allow them to partner up with a wider range of libraries if the collection was diverse enough.  Public Libraries, Special Libraries, heck even School Libraries could join in, because the collection would be diverse enough to appeal to them.  They wouldn't be purchasing access to a collection that might only have one or two books that appeal to their users, but be able to purchase single access use of a book that would otherwise take a while to acquire (if it all.) 

    Yes it would be a lot of work, but I think it would be beneficial to everyone.

    So what do y'all think?  Anyone interested in helping me explore this?  Any vendors out there that would be interested in trying out this partnership?

    11 March 2010

    Alternatives to the PDF form

    The other day I was looking at a library's website and noticed that they still use PDF forms for various needs.  And it kinda stunned me, because I'm so used to having things delivered by e-mail.  And no I'm not criticizing the library for using these, it maybe all they can do with their current system.

    But I started thinking...what are some options?  What could be used so that you didn't have to fill in PDF's by hand or try type everything in that one small line in a fillable form (y'all know what I'm talking about)?  What could you do to help process information faster?  Or tabulate data?

    And it came to me in a flash.  And I gotta admit...I really didn't want to write about it because I wanted to save this for something else.  But I realized ideas deserve to be shared (and heck someone else is probably already doing this...)  But the idea...use Google Documents.  It has a handy built in option for doing forms.

    There are a variety of reasons for this, such as:
    1. It's free.  You definitely can't beat that price.
    2. It's easy to set up and doesn't require someone that can program.
    3. It's easily customizable from picking drop down menus to how the background looks.  It's also relatively easy to go back in and add new features.
    4. It makes statistics keeping a breeze.  No more trying to sort and tabulate by hand.  All of the forms are dumped into a Google Spreadsheet that can be exported as needed, sorted for specific needs. 
    5. You have access to the data anywhere.  So if you're at conference and have a few minutes you could start working on filling requests or processing data.
    6. It's easy to move and share the data that you have. 
    7. No more worries about deciphering handwriting!
    8. Saves trees
    Are there security concerns for doing this option?  Sure, there is for anything.  You would be trusting Google with your data.  It's happened before where Google has accidentally made some documents that were private, public (this has only happened once to my knowledge.)   If someone hacks your Gmail account the information could be compromised.  And these sound like really scary things, because they are.  But there are concerns with any option that you choose.  You have to balance what you think will work best for you.  Perhaps PDF forms will still be a good option.  Perhaps something else will be. 

    But the thing to remember is that you have some options.

    04 February 2010

    What would Jim Henson do

    A while back I was having one of those days at work where the papers sitting in front of me and the code wasn't making sense, and I needed to do something outside my to do list. So I looked for inspiration online and I found some with Jim Henson.

    Many people recognize Jim Henson as the creator of the Muppets and the gang at Sesame Street, but how many know of the innovations he wrought in storytelling, in puppetry, in educating and entertainment?  He wasn't content to let the status quo influence and dictate what he did.  He created puppets that had genuine facial expressions and had life to them.  He changed how puppets interacted with the camera and the stage.  According to Muppet Wiki:
    The second innovation was to get rid of the stage that all puppets on TV hid behind, just as they did in conventional theater. He wisely realized that the TV screen itself is the stage. Freeing the puppets from the constrictions of the past, Henson found that the characters were able to move around their environment in a much more imaginative and exciting way. 
    Can you imagine Sesame Street if the characters sat behind an artificial stage?  It would have been boring!  They wouldn't have last long if it were like the old "Punch and Judy show."  Instead lasting characters were created that interact with us today.  Where would the world be without Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Big Bird and the others?  I can't really say for sure, but I would imagine it would be a whole lot quieter in children's entrainment and education.

    And I began to wonder...what more would he have accomplished if he hadn't died so young?  What new heights and innovations would we have seen in the puppetry world?  While his children and his group are still active Jim Henson was...well unique.  Time magazine had him on one of their top 100 lists and had this quote:

    Joan Ganz Cooney, who created the show, once remarked that the group involved with it had a collective genius but that Henson was the only individual genius. "He was our era's Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, W.C. Fields and Marx Brothers," Cooney said, "and indeed he drew from all of them to create a new art form that influenced popular culture around the world." 

    And so I wonder...how can I be more like Jim Henson?  How can I see the library in a new way to introduce new services to my users?  So I'm going to use Jim Henson as my inspiration for the year and see what new services I can come up with, what perceptions I can break.  Perhaps I'll introduce puppets into my information sessions. 

    LibraryRoutes project

    So there's been a meme going around for a while to talk about how you got into libraries. Well, I posted about it way back here in Aug. 2008. But, I've decided to copy and paste it below so that I can update it (wow are some of my sentence structures weird or what??) so that y'all can see how I've progressed and what not.

    So how did I get here? I guess it was fate or destiny or the fact that I liked to read that led me to coming into libraries (and yes it is a cliche and yep it did still take a while.) My first real experience with a librarian was in High School.  I started spending spare time in the library and reading pretty much every book that I could get ahold of...and one of the librarians noticed that I kept coming in.  And that's when she started recommending books to me. She even brought books in for me that she thought I'd like that her husband was no longer interested in! So that kinda of stuck in my mind when I started looking for work study when I went to college and I applied to work at the campus library and got in.

    I worked in Circulation and learned the in's and out's of access services pretty well. I was able to help with shifting, shelving, and just about anything that came across the Circulation desk. I remember my first year there pretty well, mostly because I was made to clean toner bottles. Not sure why, but that was something they made all freshman did (mostly for torture I think). But I stuck with it and I switched to working weekends and getting some extra hours outside of work study money. I struck up a friendship with the student that was my boss and learned even more about libraries (he eventually went to library school.) When he graduated I got to train the person that was my boss on the weekend and we ended up becoming pretty good friends (I was in his wedding a couple of years ago.) We supervised the student assistants on weekends, wrote their evaluations, and made sure basic tasks and duties got done, and that the building was opened and closed on time. And when he graduated I took on that job for the last semester.

    I was art education in undergraduate and had a bad teaching experience so decided to go to grad school in Art History. But it never sat right. Even when I was at the college's main library I would want to show their staff and student's how to treat your patrons, providing a comfortable atmosphere, and providing excellent service (I never did, but I wanted too). A professor even asked why didn't I go into it. So I left after a year, without the degree and went to work at the library at Johns Hopkins University in a staff position.

    Although my position was a bit odd, I had a boss tell me all jobs in the library were boring, I worked with a great group of people and met really cool librarians. I worked the evening/weekend shift and in stacks/building maintenance. During these hours I really had a chance to work with students and help them find materials. I got to find out what librarians really did and how tech services worked. I knew that I wanted to stay in libraries, but the questions was where? I had great ideas on how to improve services, but sadly I wasn't really listened to at Hopkins for various reasons, but mostly because I wasn't in a position of power in my department.  I decided that if I wanted to be able to really make changes, I needed to go back to school and get my MLIS.  And my friend from undergrad (the one whose wedding I was in) had just finished his MLIS at University of South Carolina and he spoke highly of the program.

    So I left Hopkins, moved back to SC and attended University of South Carolina via Distane Education. I met some great people, had some interesting professors (that's another post in it's entirety!) and finished my MLIS in one year (yes one year I know its unusual to some folks.) During that time span I worked at a two libraries PT and gained experience working on the reference desk at one of them.  I decided I wanted to stay in public services and began looking for work before I graduated.  I had a few interviews and landed the position of Interlibrary Loan/Circulation Services Librarian at my current place of work a couple of weeks before I graduated.

    As I wrote about previously I switched positions last summer and...well my time here has been interesting and I've learned more about myself and what I'd really like to do as a librarian.  I've enjoyed the ride and don't regret a moment of it (most days :).

    26 January 2010

    New layout!

    If you click through you'll notice that I've chosen a new template design for the blog, courtesy of Deluxe Templates  I still have some tweaking to do (such as on the pages up at the top) to get everything to display the way I want it too.  The RSS feed should still be the same and I've also adjusted something that I missed the first time in Blogger settings.

    Leave some feedback and let me know what you think!


    19 January 2010

    Changes be coming this way...

    You'll notice that my blog roll is currently empty. Well it wasn't on purpose, but it serves a purpose. I've had the same template design since I started the blog and although I've added widgets over on the side I haven't changed the design much.

    So over the next couple of weeks I'm working on picking out a new template. I'll likely have to write it from scratch so I'm really hoping it won't mess up the RSS feed (it shouldn't since I'm not moving it to a different site) and doesn't create any troubles with reading my posts. So I look forward to debuting it in a couple weeks.

    Second change...as some of y'all know I really like using free software (see my presentations at: http://www.slideshare.net/ashuping) and I really want to get better about reviewing them and building a semi-usable list that people can refer too. So instead of writing the reviews here I'm going to have a second blog just for reviews. I'm working on getting that set up and will let y'all know when its up and going.

    So those are all of the changes at the moment.

    09 January 2010

    New job...from July 2009

    So as I mentioned a couple of posts back in July 2009 I started a new position at MPOW as Learning Commons/Emerging Technologies/Interlibrary Loan Librarian plus my continued duties as reference/instruction/liaison/tech type person. This new position came as a result of a series of events of people leaving and people requesting changes (including myself) and other events going on.

    I can't (and won't) post a lot of the reasons why the change needed to happen, but I was glad for it. I've been in public services every where I've worked and in Access Services in all of my library jobs. During my career I'd come to be enthralled with new areas of the library and was ready for a change and a chance to show what I could do in these other areas. And I'm grateful that MPOW has allowed me to pursue some of these opportunities that I'd been...encouraging them to explore for the last few years. Now I get to take the lead on projects and its actually part of my job which makes it easier to sell.

    And yes it is a lot to my name and their are days where I want to pull my hair out and yell "I can't do it all!!!" But its not out of frustration, its more out of the sheer number of ideas that enter my head and get jotted down somewhere or told to colleagues in an effort to help make their lives easier or complete projects that they've been talking about for a while. I have so many ideas that I want to explore, because I want to help transform MPOW into the next century.

    And while I'm playing catchup with Emerging Technologies compared to other places, I'm watching for that next tool that will take us beyond. And while we won't have the traditional Learning Commons, I want to redefine how some people view it. I want to find what will make it work for MPOW, my patrons and not everyone elses. I want to challenge myself to not think of things in their traditional means in any area. With ILL I want to look at what can be done to make it easier for patrons to get materials and make it easier on staff not having to deal with outdated and useless technology.

    I plan on blogging about some of what I'm looking at and doing during this year. So stay tuned!

    01 January 2010

    My presentations for the year

    This was a good year for presentations for me. I'm getting more comfortable giving presentations and I gave three this year, two in a one month time span which was a bit difficult along with everything else I had going on at that time. But it was great experience and allowed me to stretch myself.

    BIGGER 2009
    This was a rather interesting presentation for me for a variety of different reasons. In 2008 a colleague and I had done a library 2.0 project at our POW and we submitted to various conferences in the hopes of presenting and BIGGER accepted.
    • The topic of the conference, Information Literacy, wasn't what we had built our project around but at the same time it fit into the theme
    • 1st collaborative presentation. Although I gave it alone my colleague and I figured out a blue print to what we wanted to discuss
    • 1st presentation I've done where the slides are mostly pictures instead of text. This was something new I had seen and I really liked the idea of using less text and this presentation really fit that type of style
    Another thing that was different were some comments I received after the presentation. People were surprised that I discussed what didn't work with the project and I was surprised by that.

    GA COMO 2009
    Last year at GA COMO I discussed different types of free software and this was a continuation of that presentation where I discussed how to choose, how to find, and places to download free software.

    Access Services Conference
    This was a fun conference to attend and present at. Its the 1st year this conference was held and I was excited to be a part of the program planning committee (and no I didn't pick my own presentation!) The conference was strictly Access Services folks from across the country and it was great to be able to learn and share with folks in this area.

    My presentation was on Library 2.0 tools that I had tried out with my department and some tips and tricks to look for when starting.

    One of the big things I took away from doing these 3 presentations was being willing to talk about what didn't work. Going in I didn't want folks to think that everything was always sunshine and buttercups and that things always worked the way you wanted them too. Cause man did some stuff fail absolutely miserably that I tried out. So I talked about it. I thinks its important to share not only your successes but your failures as well.