All posts by Lee LeBlanc

Care to tell us why you’re a librarian?


Take the short answer survey. It’s merely three questions.

Also, do you as new librarian, (or new information professional), care to say why you got into the profession when parts of the world see libraries and librarians as relics from an era-gone-by?

You probably have meme-fatigued. That “geez, this question is turning up everywhere!” It’s a good one though. We can strengthen our resolve on what we believe by answering questions like this. How so? 1) Sharpen our own minds about what is important to us. 2) Strengthen solid ideas about our chosen profession by sharing our best thoughts. Mr. Shaw said this quite succinctly.

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.—George Bernard Shaw

If you can’t wait a few weeks for the responses to collect, feel free to comment here or put yours up on your blog. Jump to the survey now. We accept all forms of entry: Haiku, riddle, 140-character entry and so on…

TTW Contributor- Lee LeBlanc

Ever had to buy ridiculously priced text books?

CK12 Text Books

Assuming they acquire attractive data sources, CK-12’s next challenge will be spreading the word. The education system is not quick to adopt new technologies. I think that finding teachers able to use Internet-born text books will be their biggest challenge. They will have to communicate outside the tech channels that will give them initial buzz.

While the focus is K-12, I have firsthand experience at the beginning of every semester helping college students find their text books. We rarely have them. Way too expensive. Of course there are students who are just trying to avoid paying for those text books but there is another type of student. I’ve known students who struggle to pay for their text books. College text book costs are rising ever higher. Could there be a more cost effective way?

Maybe publishers are slow to offer electronic texts because they think students will just beat any DRM the publisher can install. I know students know who scan their entire text books. One student buys one of the Xnumber of required books and then they all trade scans. (Yes, I know what your thinking about the legality of that action). But, what if publishers offered electronic versions at lower costs than the outrageous prices on the 52nd edition of Introduction to Human Sexuality? Research in other areas like MP3 sales and pay-per-articles prove that people will pay a fair amount for reasonably priced products. But is twice the rate of inflation fair? (Here’s the report via I wonder about the hidden cost this drive for profit Capitalism extracts from all of us -mostly unknowingly.

It’s like going to Canada for prescription drugs: go overseas and you can get your text books for half the cost. Boo that. If there are any (LIS) students/Professors out there want to share thoughts on text book costs -feel free. Just be careful for a backlash if you feel those prices are justified.

TTW Contributor- Lee LeBlanc

Why bother with Twitter?

Michael, who teams blogs over at, turned in a blazing time of 14 seconds for finding that reference article. (There was also a respectable 20 seconding showing which was faster than me). I then “cyber stalked” Mike over on Flickr :) Next we had a few exchanges that led to the conversation on microblogging. I hear a lot of: “….[groans]…not another 2.0 thingy!’ Michael didn’t do that mind you. Yet, what could that reaction be about?

Lee: ive found microblogging is best, at least 2 me, when im txting out doing somthin. i txt an update 2 my friends. i txt my brother regularly. &i kno my brother txts with his wife all the time -she’s in the Philippines right now. add my disjointed twitter vignettes to this & then I also interact with those folks. but twitter could work for library microblogging too. how? make the jump here or read on.

Mike: Hmmmm. Definitely worth thinking about. I suppose I do a version of microblogging–I e-mail myself reminders from my cell phone, everything from grocery list items to book authors/titles to movies someone tells me about. It could all very well be twittered.

“How do I experiment with new stuff’?
And yes, I wrote that like I would on my cell phone for the most part. I take certain liberties when I text. Using Twitter is a way of thinking about technology -for me. “How do I experiment with new stuff’?” Experimenting with new technologies to see how I can connect to more people in my life -rather than looking at what it will do for me alone helps me move my mind in directions it would not normally go. It’s funny how many of my friends microblog (SMS-ing me all the time) and don’t realize it. So, a lot of times you’ll see a question turn up in Twitter that I asked my friends. Feel free to answer. I try to be somewhat inspiration like, “So, wut up RockStar! Tell me how you did/how ya do this weekend.” Friends who don’t really email me, or maintain an online presence of any kind, or generally don’t email that much, text me back! alot!

So, I use txting to stay in touch with certain friends and family (and patrons?) who text AND then share a bit of my txting with the Twitter community -shall the two ever meet? Maybe. Maybe not. So, I’ve connected two different sets of folks through Twitter. What’s the lesson? Different strokes, different folks. Like Lauren, I also see Twitter as bridging the Internet & phone (not everyone has an 16gb iPhone :). Lauren goes on to list bunches of other great reasons about what Twitter can become for you if you let it.

“How does your library experiment with new stuff’?”
What makes the new technologies, social apps, and whatever else seem pointless really lies in how we view those tools. What if we evaluate things not for ourselves but for others? (I’m planting a seed here for my future post on what we need in the library to be personally successful & it has very little to do with technology). Unless I’m meditating, I don’t like to stare at a blank wall -even then I sometimes debate myself over this wall gazing. Yet if we turn around from what were used to looking at, there could entire field of opportunities worth checking out. Maybe we need to think about how patrons use Twitter to really find the gold? Do you know any of your patrons using Twitter? Above all else, play. I’m going back to my corner to stare at my wall for a bit but I’ll meet you on playground for a game of Tag.

TTW Contributor- Lee LeBlanc

Can you find this article?

More than a desk

Actually, it’s just a tease while I hammer out the rest of the multimedia portion for the Reference Desk post. Pulling all this multimedia together takes time. There’s even an article about it here. “In spite of the time, frustration, and lack of support, creating the screencast was a good idea. I’m glad I did it. But in the future, I’ll also be more cautious about judging others’ use of media—because it is harder than it looks.” But, can you find the article the screenshot above comes from? We should probably measure your attempt in seconds. Honor system here. Ready…Set…Answer.

TTW Contributor- Lee LeBlanc

Do we really look bored?

katz said it.

“…you can walk up to the bored looking person behind the desk known as the reference librarian and ask for a brief tutorial on how to use the journals…”

Maybe it is time to re-think reference. Katz did say the reference desk has been blown apart and I hear from many librarians he did write the book on Reference.

In this thread, there’s also some very interesting talk about the value of a library/ value of library services to students. The perceptions/ misperceptions are very interesting.

TTW Contributor- Lee LeBlanc

You didn’t hear about it here, right?

You didn't hear about it here

“Ars spoke with Steven Lareau, the IT chair for Clemson’s student advisory council. According to Lareau, Clemson previously “had an awful web-based e-mail system” (SquirrelMail). Lareau says that they compared Microsoft’s Outlook/Exchange combo with Gmail, and Gmail came out on top.”

When I see students frustratingly loose USB drives with their term papers, have to use multiple online systems like BlackBoard or another CMS, and a University email system all which typically do not facilitate communication for group assignments resulting in rounds of emailed documents where there are no IM clients to connect with fellow students in their classes who all use some kind of online presence like MySpace or FaceBook to keep up on their social lives and talk about their classes, I come to completely understand those students’ view of an overly-distant-administrative-technological bureaucracy that seems to clearly not be paying attention to who is really using the technology. Several students where I’m getting my masters have already signed up for Google Apps Team Edition. I don’t doubt the time will be here soon when we have a critical mass of students avoiding closed, stale, clunky, university email and comfortably collaborating online.

TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc

What kinds of conversations can you have?

Some pretty neat ones.

I quickly posted on January 29th, “What are they doing right?” It was about the MCCL homepage. Which led to some lively comments. Some liked it. Some pointed to areas that needed improvement. Lisa, the web designer for the MCCL site responded about the design. Then something neat happened, one of the commentors, Brad, made a mock-up of the site as he saw it. Whether you agree with the new mock-up or the original site the larger point is: you’ve just seen how being transparent, being willing to do work and being willing to share ideas can lead in entirely new directions. Let’s not forget the speed at which this was done. It doesn’t take forever to get feedback on any kind of design you want to implement. Feedback is part of your project, right?

Brad wanted to expand his thoughts. Maybe Lisa will look at those ideas and use some. Maybe she won’t. But, at the very least some fertile web design conversation has happened. Even if only for me. Imagine if this was a larger project. Can we see how allowing people to comment & share generates new and interesting results? Are these lessons we can use within our own libraries? How much untapped talent could we harness by forming collectives for work on databases, OPACs, or websites? Share your work with your colleges. It makes you stronger.

I’m very impressed by both web pages. I’m impressed by everyone who slowed down to think about what they liked or didn’t like about library homepages. Furthermore, I’m impressed by the large amount of talent in the information landscape. Sometimes you can feel like a target, completely overlooked, or entirely mis-understood online, so I thank Brad and Lisa for engaging in a great dialog and helping other professionals think about what works, what doesn’t and why.

Checkout the original and the mock-up.

-TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc.

How many social sites are you using?

Librarians, Library Staff, and Information Professionals:

How many social sites are you using? Take the survey.

The social web browser: Flock is available for Mac, Linux, and Windows. This browser is integrated with a rich feature set. From Blogger to Flickr to Xanga, if you’re using any Social Media sites personally or for work it may be worth your time to check out Flock. The Flock folks have geared this browser towards saving steps and streamlining your online life.

trying flock again

What are they doing right?

What are they doing right? a lot.

1. Use the website as a tool to feature resources and not visually overload the user.

2. Use purposeful design cues to help user navigate the site and not force the user to decipher what is important on the homepage.

3. Use the homepage as a starting point and do not try to put everything on the homepage.

4. Use descriptive bold headings to focus your attention and -not library-ese. Actually, this sums up library-ese.