Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday (Library Day in the Life, #4)

I always believe that Thursday is the day without end. There is just something about Thursday afternoons that makes it seem eleventy-hundred hours long and you wonder if you could just jump in the TARDIS and get out of the day.

7:45 - Arrive at work. Login. Go drop daughter at camp (she's sleeping over tonight, no afternoon or morning stop tomorrow!) then back to the desk. I start by reviewing emails and compiling my to-do list, mostly on more follow-up work for the Digital Commonwealth.

9:00 - Deal with ecommerce questions about whether a payment went through for a patron or not. We are down a couple staff today so I actually get to pick up the phone and handle calls today. Also tentatively schedule an OverDrive library training for staff and patrons in September. I also finish a catch up post for CPD23.

12:00 - Lunch time! While still at my desk, I do decide to get off the work stuff and continue reading Ghost Story by Jim Butcher. Was glad to grab it from our Digital Catalog!

1:00 - Realizing that my staff person who usually does Digital Catalog support is out on vacation, I open the webmail account and answer questions.

2:30 - Email server goes down. Rebooted. Fifteen minutes later - still not working. The Apocalypse approaches.

3:30 - Apocalypse averted, email is restored! Time to sort through what I missed, which wasn't a lot.

4:00 - Time to log out and head home.

This was a quieter day for sure.

Catching Up on Things (CPD23)

So, even while I am participating in Library Day in the Life, I am still working on CPD23. I seem to be a bit behind on topics, so I thought that I would repeat the wheels too much and give some brief thoughts:

Thing 6: Online Networks

Ah, social networking. It can be a boon or a bane, depending on how you utilize them (or how much you really need a cow for FarmVille).

I do have a LinkedIn account, and it is up to date although somewhat static. I like having a professional presence online. I think that moving professional topics to this blog has increased my awareness about my "online image" and I should explore LinkedIn a bit more to see how it works.

I started my social online networking with MySpace several years ago. It was where I started my personal blog, before finally folding my account and moving to Facebook and my personal Blogger blog. I was very active on Facebook for the last couple of years, however between Twitter and Google+, I am finding that I update less. Both of my blogs feed to Facebook.

Thing 7: Face-to-Face Networks and Professional Organisations

I have been hit and miss with professional organisations through the years. When I was still pursuing my degree, ALA was the mecca of student interest. However the lack of time and finances has left me without ALA membership for most of my professional years.

Currently I do hold memberships in Massachusetts Library Association (MLA), my state library organisation, and in New England Library Association (NELA), which is a multi-state library organisation in the US. I find I get different investments from each: at the state level I find common goals across the Commonwealth and many librarians that I know. The Digital Commonwealth also partnered with the MLA for their conference this spring, which was very successful. With NELA, I find that the continuing education is my biggest draw. I am a member of both the Information Technology section, which has hosted some terrific workshops, and HQ73.6, the GLBT section, which is of professional and personal interest to me.

Thing 8: Google Calendar 

I adore my Google Calendar. Well, I do have more than one (*cough 13 cough*) because I use the color coding to keep track of personal tasks and important work tasks. We use a Calcium calendar at work, however I keep my Google Calendar open all the time in my browser so I will load most of the tasks there also.

Google Calendar has become indispensable to me. The only issue I really have is that I currently do not have continuous access to it (no smartphone) so I also keep a paper agenda in my bag. At least I remember to transfer appointments to Google Calendar. Usually.

I am not sure I would have ever taken up Evernote except for the fact that I have an iPad. At work I have found I prefer to have all my notes in one place and the piles of notepads I have filed makes this treehugger cry. So, when I got my iPad this spring, I was excited to have a portable device I could type notes on that was a lot lighter than my laptop. Except it does not have a native word processor. Of course there is the Notes app or the Apple apps, but who isn't looking for something free? Then I found Evernote.

Evernote, even in its free version, is very robust. I can take notes in various Notebooks (like folders), add tags, and save items from the web. With both the iPad app and a desktop version installed, I have access to those items as long as I have web access. Since I use Chrome as my web browser, there is also an Evernote extension that allows me to clip right from a webpage.

Now, let us see if I can stay caught up!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (Library Day in the Life, #3)

Not that there is much to wait for. It's just another day in the office, right?

7:45 - Arrive at the office. Quiet since no one is actually in my department yet. Login to applications and go drop my daughter off at camp.

8:30 - Check in with coworker about migration training coming up in August. We are getting ready to train our public libraries in Evergreen.

9:00 - Pull information off the printer about forming non-profits in the Commonwealth. Time to do some research on preparing articles of incorporation! This also reminds me that I have a to-do list from Monday's Digital Commonwealth meeting that I need to enter into my calendar(s). Three of them, this time.

11:15 - My staff person that usually submits the OverDrive orders is heading to Digipalooza this weekend so she wants to finish an order today. Updated my selector lists and created a new fiscal spreadsheet to track invoices between my staff's purchases and the billing manager's invoices. I also needed to update purchases for the consortial account with titles that were purchased by our OverDrive Advantage libraries.

Today marks the two-day Handheld Librarian Conference. I was going to attend this year, at the MA Library System offices, however the schedule did not work. I am going to follow what I can through the Twitter hashtag #hhlib.

1:15 - Selection lists are finally finished. Rush titles were given to coworker for order (we need Jim Butcher and Julia Quinn, dammit!). Back to adding code to the online catalog to get ready for the changes next week.

3:30 - Get reminders about Evergreen circulation training next week, which I will be assisting in. When I was working in the libraries, I did circulation on occasion, but spent most of my time in the backroom cataloging. I have to admit the nice thing about migrating to a new system is that we are all on the same learning curve.

4:00 - Logout and head for home!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday's Gone (aka Library Day in the Life, #2)

Today was a bit calmer than yesterday. I don't feel so frantic about email and my projects actually started to cooperate.

7:45 - Arrive at work with daughter in tow to be dropped off at camp bus stop down the street. Check to see that email backup was completed (success!) and login to applications. For me this includes two instances of III Millennium (one for each region), Outlook, Dreamweaver and my Chrome work browser.

8:10 - Pop out of the office to drop daughter off. Bus is on time!

8:20 - Back at my desk and realized that I have not logged into the helpdesk ticketing program. Login. It fails. Try again. No connection to database. The only way for me to connect is to reboot my laptop, which means logging out of everything I signed into and restarting. I really should remember to open this application first.

8:30 - Continue reading through emails, filing in folders and catching up on Google Reader.

9:15 - Discuss Drupal training session with my manager. We use Drupal for both our public and staff intranet websites, and I am always looking for more experience with it.

9:30 - Send off email to another library that has some catalog code I would like to use.

10:00 - Received email that our Open EPUB titles were available on our OverDrive Digital Catalog. I usually like to test the process so that I am prepared when helpdesk calls come in. Process was simple, although less-familiar computer users may struggle with where to download the file. Discussed with colleague about differences in process and began writing up a website post to announce and explain Open EPUB downloads. This will be cross-posted to the Facebook page.

I have been having issues with placing images in our Drupal nodes (pages) on our website for several weeks. First I discovered the HTML setting was wrong (Filtered versus Full), then I saw that images were not enabled for my content type (Drupal breaks down posts: blog, story, page, etc.) and then I had to play with the links to embed the image on the page. Success!

11:30 - My Open EPUB post is finished, along with the updates for the public about the changes to the placing holds in our catalogs next week.

11:40 - Talk with the project coordinator about the Evergreen Template Toolkit catalog. This is currently under development so we discussed what functionality we think is still missing. Troubleshoot some web page changes with my church's administrative assistant. (Yes, I work on that website too).

12:00 - Lunch time boosted by catching up on Google Reader and Google+. Also more email support for libraries with Nooks not connecting to wireless and staff site logins.

1:15 - Continue exploring edits for our public catalog as we change some of the functionality next week. Also research the procedure for becoming a 501c3 for the Digital Commonwealth.

2:10 - Head to the digital lab to create a new OPAC button and test functionality on our staging setup. More success! We should be good to go on Monday.

3:00 - Log into Content Reserve, the acquisition interface for OverDrive. I select romance, science fiction, fantasy and young adult titles for the collection.

4:00 - Head home!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Another Manic Monday (aka Library Day in the Life, #1)

I decided to take the plunge and participate in Library Day in the Life . This semi-annual event allows librarians and library workers to share their workday in the form of pictures, video, blog entries and tweets. Check out the wiki or follow along with the hashtag #libday7.

I work for a library consortium in Massachusetts. As the head of Access Services, a department of three people, I work on the public catalogs, OverDrive digital catalog, reference databases, digital repository, and our websites (public and staff intranet) and Facebook page.

I had been off last week on vacation, which in central MA with temperatures in the 90s meant trying to hide in the coolest spot of my house (it was the basement, and laundry got done!). I am also one of those people who tends to check work email if I am gone from the office for a period of time, so I was already prepared for the news that our academic libraries migration had been delayed from our projected July launch. My consortia is moving over to Evergreen, and with 150+ libraries to move, our split of academics from public libraries during migration is just not as advantageous as we believed.

So, arriving at work at 8AM I spoke quickly with my manager about the revised plan, but my morning was taken up by a meeting of the Digital Commonwealth. Being the first meeting of the new fiscal year, we had new Board members to introduce and review our mission and goals with along with project statuses to update. This year I am also serving as President. It is the first time I am leading a committee, much less one that has an impact in such a large way on digitization and access in the Commonwealth. While there is a lot of work to be done, I am really excited for the projects we have for the next fiscal year.

It was after 12:30 by the time the meeting was over. I spent the next hour cleaning up the emails that had gathered in my inbox over the previous week. There was a lot of hitting the delete button. I am signed up for mailing lists throughout the state and many of the emails do not need my personal attention. I did have reviews to approve through our LibraryThing for Libraries installation on the catalog, plus some requests for staff accounts on our intranet site. I checked in with both of my staff to follow up on projects: we had one new library add a digital collection to our repository, Digital Treasures. We are also getting ready to add Open EPUB to our OverDrive digital catalog.

The rest of my afternoon was spent doing webpage edits in the catalog, updating migration news and tips, along with working on our testing server for workarounds to link to the Massachusetts Virtual Catalog. Our system currently has three catalogs: one for each region and one to let people request from the opposite region. We are shutting down the Union Catalog next week so that cross-region transactions can clear before migrating the data. Once we come up on Evergreen, it will be one system - one catalog. Huzzah!

With kids in camp, my day ends at 4PM during the summer. I made a quick to-do list for Tuesday (more web edits, meeting follow ups, collection development for OverDrive) and was out the door. Not a bad day's work after a week's vacation!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. - Peter Drucker

I seem to have fallen a bit behind with my CPD23 posts, although in a way this lateness is timed perfectly. Last week was Thing 5: Reflective Practice. In many ways, I do this on a regular basis on my personal blog. I will ruminate on the things I pursue, whether in reading or knitting, gardening or parenting. In the midst of writing I can catch the tail of thoughts that never presented themselves when I was in the thick of action, but the reflective writing brought them to the surface.

Work is a bit different, whereas my network has been preparing for a migration to a new ILS the last year. We hit bumps along the way, as can happen, but we keep going. Sometimes this process happens so fast, you wonder if you have time to reflect and discover answers to questions or problem-solve in the most efficient way. When you have a timetable in place and a hundred-and-a-half libraries to take care of, sometimes all you can do is keep doing. Whether it turns out as effective as can be may only be discovered down the road.

In regards to CPD23, it made me take a look at how I blog and whether I wanted to keep my professional and personal "identities" more separated. I think there is reason for it, even if it seems to split me apart at times. As I explored the different blogs that others have created or continued for this program, I realize I am not the only one to wonder about that. Many seem inclined to keep there professional blog "untainted", although there are definite exceptions.

My personal brand is one that seems pretty entrenched online now, although I think I am still building the professional side of it. I know that social awareness is important to me, as Twitter and now Google+ have become a daily part of my online tasks. The information and networking from these services is instrumental in gathering more information outside my own little microcosm. This is bolstered by RSS feeds on various topics.

As I continue to explore what is available to me on a professional level (Thing 6 & 7 bring online and in-person social networks) I want to broaden my reflection time, both for my own awareness and to hopefully supplement some of the training I do. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

CPD23: Thing 4 Deja Vu (RSS Feeds and Pushnote)

This post continues the review of the "Social Awareness" Things that CPD23 asked about this week. In my previous post, I discussed Twitter and how much an integral part of my social and professional networking and news base it has become. Along those lines, Google+ is becoming interesting, although off to a slow start with expectations of integration to already established platforms. I discussed this new social tool last week on the blog, and you can find my Google+ profile if you want to add me or have me add you to a Circle.

However, back to RSS Feeds and Pushnote.

RSS Feeds:

I started using RSS Feeds as different widgets on my iGoogle home page for my browser about three years ago. I had various tabs for the subjects I was following: libraries, book writers and bloggers, gardening, etc. however each widget took up a lot of screen space and I realized I had several tabs to slog through each day. Then I was told about Google Reader, which I still use.

My Google Reader this morning, after initial clean out.

My Google Reader extension in my toolbar.

Google Reader aggregates all subscribed feeds into one location. You can also set up folders by topic to help manage your subscriptions. Since I use Chrome as my browser, I have added an extension that gives me the number of unread posts at Reader throughout the day. I try to skim through first thing in the morning, will star the ones I want to go back for a thorough read or to comment on, then can clear it out by marking the rest as read. Of course, there is always a possibility of missing something along the way.

I try to do a periodic resort and unsubscribe from ones I know I am not really reading on a regular basis. I acquired a book blogger bundle through Stacked and now the participant bundle through CPD23. I opted for the single feed of posts at this point, however it is possible I will grab the individual blog bundle so I can weed out the ones I do and do not want to follow. With over 600 participants, that would be a time-consuming project for another day!


I have been reading the posts so far on Pushnote and took a look at the site. While I can understand the benefits this would have to someone who may not have such a service currently, I believe I have two or three other services that already do the job for me.

My Chrome extensions, including Save in Delicious (Tag),
Clip to Evernote (elephant), and Google Plus One Button (+1).

In my toolbar I have a few extensions that I use in Chrome, including Save in Delicious, Clip to Evernote and  the new Plus One (+1) button for Google. All three of these work to save webpages and other items of interest for me, either for my own consumption (in the case of Evernote), or that can be accessed publicly through Delicious or my Google Profile. I try not to be indiscriminate about what I post, but highlight things of interest to me and to those I know. Of course, the topics are far-flung from librarianship to gardening to chicken ordinances to ebooks, but still shared for the public.

There are many established social web tools that can be utilized at different levels: personal, professional, privately or publicly. As social interaction becomes as important as productivity online, I think that we will see more and more applications and services developed that recreate the wheel of social networking, while hoping to be "the one".

Friday, July 8, 2011

CPD23 Thing 4: Twitter

Back into CPD23 this week with Thing 4: Current awareness. This has participants looking at social tools that can assist keeping up with the happenings of the library and information science world. It is three tools actually: Twitter, RSS feeds and Pushnote. There is enough to talk about (at least for the first two) that I am going to break this up into multiple posts.


If you haven't figured out by now, I am on Twitter! You can find me at @booksNyarn. I would consider this account to be "profersonal". I originally created it over two years ago (on May 15, 2009 in fact) just for personal reasons and fun, but of course fell immediately in with a crowd of librarians who I count as my closest friends. I was also following knitters, librarians, gardeners, green activists. I rarely talked about work, I used a few different comic avatars, and used only my handle up until a little over a year ago.

This year has brought a lot more discussion: with librarians, with Library Journal, with upheavals in the digital world with ebooks. I have become more vocal for and about my profession and now put my face and my name on my account. As I began book reviewing at my other blog, I grew to know more book bloggers, reviewers and publishers too.

Over the last year I have begun to also tweet from various conferences and seminars that I have attended. Try to find out if the program you are attending has a hashtag! If not, create one. I have almost always found at least one other person tweeting at the program, which gives additional notes and perspectives, and I usually end up with comments, questions and other librarians to follow. You can also archive tweets with a particular hashtag over at TwapperKeeper.

Managing it has gotten to be a bit more unwieldy. I know I do not keep track of my timeline the way that I used to a couple of years ago. However, following over 900 people and organizations and having over 700 followers, I am not going to be able to keep up with it as much as I would like. This is why I started using Tweetdeck.

Tweetdeck is a third party Twitter application that allows the user to have multiple Twitter columns on their computer screen at the same time. You can also have multiple Twitter accounts, along with Facebook, Buzz, MySpace, etc. Being able to run multiple columns is a boon, especially since they can be created on lists or on search terms. Above I have my general timeline, then my Librarians list, plus the hashtag for #cpd23. I have a few other columns to help track mentions of me and direct messages. I used to run the desktop application, but with Chrome having an in-browser app, I have moved it there and just run it in a tab along with the other dozen I have open at an given time. Tweetdeck was bought by Twitter in May 2011. So far we haven't seen any real changes, and I am holding out hope that it will stay active and supported.

Twitter is a social tool I use every day, both professionally and personally. I interact with many more librarians and other people from across the US and the world than I ever would have in my own little corner of Massachusetts. It has broadened my network and become the place where I can get the news faster than the television or radio. I really cannot picture my online experience now without it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Google+: A Work in Progress

Google has announced its own social-networking service in the form of Google + (or, Google Plus as I seem to keep wanting to type it). Google introduces it this way:
Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools.
In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.
We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software.
We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests.
While making an obvious crack at Facebook:’s online services turn friendship into fast food—wrapping everyone in “friend” paper—and sharing really suffers...
I was one of the lucky few who knew someone who knew someone and got my invite in the system before it was shut down yesterday. (Or is it back up? I am getting conflicting reports.) Many people I have added to my Circles were recommended through my Google contacts. However, there are quite a few that while I can add them to a Circle, because they have not been issued an invite yet, they can only get notification of your shared items by email. That makes me less inclined to share as much with some Circles because I do not want to be one of those people filling up others' inboxes!  I have gotten more mixed information on how people were getting invites: some say they got them by being added to a Circle, others said they had to issue an invite to people whether they had been added to a Circle or not.

Some of the things I like about it thus far, balanced against what I do not like/think needs some more work:

The Google Profile has been updated to fit in with Google+. It gives a cleaner interface (in my opinion) with easily navigable tabs.  There seems to be pretty clear information on what tabs are actually viewable to the public: it states on my Buzz tab that it is only visible to me. I do not like that unlike the actual Buzz page, I only see my items. Also, I wish that they would expand the links sidebar out so that the full link would show, as opposed to being cut off, and that the navigation tabs could be reordered. I think people would be more interested in landing on my About tab first, not my Posts, especially if they are not in a Circle that can see what is there.

You can not only edit the information on your profile piece by piece, but it will tell you exactly who can see it, and how you can change it. Similar to Facebook, especially with that Custom choice, but a welcome one. You don't have to hunt through click after click to figure out your privacy settings for your Google+ profile.

The main page of Google+ has some good and some needs work. Your stream is all the posts by people you follow, and you can filter it by the Circles you have created. Since I am not sure about sharing other people's information I am showing my Family Circle, which only has one person without an invite (Sorry, soon I promise!). Sparks seem similar to Alerts. I created a Spark on "ebooks" and found that the results are almost identical to the ones I receive in Reader.

When you post something in Google+ (called sharing) you have the options of making it public or limiting it to various Circles or Extended Circles, which I presume are the Circles of those you have in your Circles (anyone visualizing covered wagons yet?). People can comment, but there is no way to thread replies; comments are linear to the post. You also cannot feed Twitter or other services in like with Buzz, at least not that I can figure out. I am hoping this is something they plan to bring in. I would like to see some more integration and cohesion with what they already offer. If this is going to end up replacing Buzz, I don't want to lose services I already have.

I will admit first that I am thoroughly under the thumb of our Google overlords, using a lot of its various applications every day. I use Google Buzz, Reader, along with Twitter, a lot more than I do Facebook. However, I cannot really see this replacing Facebook for a couple of reasons.

  • Facebook lets you in from anywhere, with any email address. All of the people I have added to Google+ have had to already have a Google Profile. Can I see everyone drinking the Google Kool-Aid? No.
I can see people trying this out and enjoying the ability to have a smaller network than may currently exist on Facebook. I am not going to add all my high school and college friends into a Circle, that is for sure. I can see using it to connect with and follow colleagues in professional Circles, and, if Buzz folds into it, as my online social-sharing feed.  However, Google is going to have to act fast by allowing invites to go back out, and integrate some of the services people are already looking for with online social networking, or this may go the way of Google Wave. 

Are you one of the chosen few? Are you still waiting? What do you think?