Category Archives: Librarian 2.0

Sarah Long’s 100th podcast with Michael Stephens

On May 6th, I presented “The Hyperlinked Library” at North Suburban Library System. After the session, I was invited to record a podcast with Sarah Long, the director of NSLS. We also spoke a bit in interview format for her weekly column in The Daily Herald.


Daily Herald column:

We talked about transparency, what the hyperlinked library could be, and where libraries might be going. Thanks to everyone at NSLS for making it such a special day!

TTW Mailbox: Emerging Technology Committee at Monroe County Library System

Patricia Uttaro, Assistant Director, System Services at the Monroe County Library System in New York, writes:

I’ve been meaning to write to you for awhile to fill you in on activities in the Monroe County Library System since your visit here in 2006.  The system now has an Emerging Technology Committee that just celebrated its first anniversary. At our last meeting, I asked if anyone was ready to drop off the team after a busy year, and the response I got from one and all was “No Way! We’re having way to much fun!”


The ETC has produced three Technology Camps for system staff in the last year that have been extremely well-received. We’ve covered gaming, music and audio book downloading, web-based applications, and social bookmarking so far. Creating and using video in the library is our next topic. The ETC meets monthly in various coffee shops in Monroe County (caffeine boosts the creative process, after all!), but we sometimes move from the coffee shop to places like Radio Shack, Best Buy, the Apple Store and other places where we can discover new toys. The Tech Camps have been so successful that we’ve been requested to produce two Camps for Library Trustees in June.
We also just finished up a training series based on Helene Blowers Learning 2.0 and I can say it was a resounding success. The 8 week series was extremely popular with system staff and resulted in the creation of a network of people who are using various web 2.0 tools and also connected via Meebo, which makes them available to other staff who are interested in learning more about the Learning 2.0 training.
During April & May, the MCLS has produced a Big Read grant program funded partially by the NEA. We chose Fahrenheit 451 for our Big Read, and have incorporated some web 2.0 concepts in the our programming. One that I thought would interest you is a book burning and discussion that will be held in Second Life at MCLS Amphitheater in Cybrary City II. We thought it appropriate that we hold at least one event in SL given the theme and imagery in F451. We’re hoping for a good turnout and a lively discussion.
Patricia – Thanks for the update and information about the ETC. I think you described the workings of a model ETC. I especially appreciated the off-site meetings – we used to do this with our team of internet trainers at SJCPL. It always made the meetings more interesting to get everyone together somewhere different.
Please let us know how the Second Life event went!


Meme: Passion Quilt or What I Want for New Librarians*


I owe Kathryn Greenhill an apology. She tagged me in this meme while I was in Australia and I’ve been catching up ever since we got back.

The meme: Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.

If you’ve heard me speak in the last year or so, you know I always end with three of the statements in the picture. I usually say that “in a nutshell” what I want for my students at Dominican and for any of librarians I talk to is for them to realize what great opportunities there are for libraries and librarians in this ever-changing world:

If we learn to learn, it doesn’t matter that this week’s shiny new tool is Twitter and next week’s even shinier tool is something else. We can still figure it out, use our foundational knowledge to make sense of it and decide if it works in our situation. I teach blogging sure, but the real skill I want my students to get is that they can master any technology/system I put in front of them or their new employers may put in front of them and make it work. Blogging is just the vehicle, like using any of the tools we cover in LIS768.

If we adapt to change, we aren’t thrown every time the world shifts. There’s no knee-jerk  “I don’t need to know anything about that” or  “That doesn’t really have anything to do with me” response. Or some other excuse that essentially means “I can’t think about the future” so I’ll point out some more reasons it just won’t work.  We use point one and dive in and figure it out, and then get ready for the next change.

If we scan the horizon, we’re trendspotting for the future. Pondering, for example, what the popularity of a certain technology might do to library service. Or what bigger trends will mean to libraries in the next 10-20 years. 

If we make sure to be curious about the world, it makes all of the above super easy. My friend John Blyberg turned me on to this idea and I think it’s a perfect fit for my philosophy of teaching.

Finally, please remember to bring your heart with you. Yes, it’s touchy-feely but it’s pretty darn important as we move into a more emotion, experience focused world. Social networks even enable us to extend the heart across cyberspace. What happened to some of us in our careers in library land that we lost sight of the heart?  I think getting to bring your heart to work is one of the reasons many of us got into the profession in the first place, and it hurts my heart when I hear some of the stories I hear about the way we work with each other and with our users. . User-centered planning, engaging, exciting spaces and a chance to share, keep or make a story are all part of the heart of libraries – you know, the library should encourage the heart. David Warlick, who I’ve only met once and who made a big impact on me in that short time, turned me on to this idea. 

If my students leave my classes as curious librarians ready to figure out the next big thing and make it work in their libraries, then I am doing my job.

Kathryn, I hope it’s not too late to add to the meme and to pass it forward.

Please see:

I’ll tag:

*and everyone else in LIS too!

Making a case for Social Networking at Lester PL, A TTW Guest Post by Jeff Dawson

I recently had a Facebook conversation with Jeff Dawson, director of the Lester Public Library in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. I realized in our back and forth that his experience with creating and extending online presense for his library was the makings for a HOT TTW guest post:

For example, the entire town knew I went to PLA (I think I left town as you were coming in… ). We are now running 2 blogs out of LPL, Blogging LPL is sustaining an average of roughly 3,000 hits a month and rising (I know my mom isn’t the only one looking at the blog). Flickr is the BEST marketing tool, I post photos daily and use them in our blogs, the local paper has used some of them, I’ve been interviewed on the radio because of flickr and now run a biweekly column in the Sunday edition of the Manitowoc Herald Times entitled Library News. The TR City Manager has noted the flickr account in his weekly newspaper column and during televised City Council Meetings. Taking those traditional networking tools – radio, television, and newspaper and aiming them at our Internet Networking devices – MySpace, flickr, etc. just sort of happened and is totally cool!

Jeff agreed and sent me this, culled from his talk at PLA:

In Two Rivers I immediately set up Lester Public Library accounts for Flickr, MySpace, Bebo, Twitter, Ning, Facebook and YouTube. I also created a blog – Blogging LPL – for the library, they are free and I took responsibility for managing these online activities. We have a small dedicated staff and I didn’t want to add to their already full plates. I also wanted to brand Lester Public Library, Two Rivers, Wisconsin as quick as possible on these social networks because there are 3 Lester Public Libraries in the state of Wisconsin.

I presented our online existence to the Lester Public Library Board. The responses from the board varied from what a great way to get the library’s message to a new group of potential users and providing a safe place on MySpace – to – how can you validate this as a true library activity and when does it become a waste of your time. By making the board aware of these new services I was helping them understand the importance of these technologies as a marketing tool for our services and collections – not just for teens but for all our users. 

A significant change for Lester Public Library was re-writing our library mission. We moved from a four paragraph mission statement to four words: Read, Discover, Connect, Enrich (Read. Discover new things. Connect ideas and people. Enrich your life and community.). During my presentation of MySpace a board member asked why Lester Public Library is active on these sites, to which the President of the Board responded with – “It meets the requirements of our mission; we are connecting with our users.” 

Make a case for social networking from the library to your administration. Assure them it is not time wasted. From the marketing point of view alone, it is worth it. On our Lester Public Library flickr account we regularly post photos of library and community events. Our City Manager took notice and has mentioned our flickr photos in his weekly newspaper columns and during televised City Council meetings. Because of this exposure, I have been interviewed on local radio and now write a bi-weekly library column for the paper. By using standard networking tools, radio, television, and newspaper, we are directing people to a virtual library experience. 

We can help validate our virtual presence through their online tracking tools. For example, Blogging LPL is sustaining over an incredible 3000 hits a month since starting last June. And our flickr photos have been viewed over 49,400 times since last April (2007). 

For me it is a labor of love; it is fun, which is translating into fun for the entire community.


An Apology from a School Superintendent

Via Helene Blowers on Flickr:

I’d like to share an email I sent to all of our 18,000-plus employees this morning. Here it is:

Dear CMS Employees:

When you make a mistake, the best thing to do is just admit it. Folks, we blew it, and I apologize. While the decision to start random background checks for current employees was made with the best of intentions – to keep our students and staff safe – we dropped the ball, big time, in terms of communication and execution.

So where do we go from here? If you haven’t filled out the form, throw it away. If you have filled out the form, ask your supervisor to return it to you so you may destroy it. (To safeguard your identity, I suggest you shred it.)

I will share more information on this topic with you at a later time. Right now, I just want you to know how sorry I am that this was handled so badly. Our employees are the lifeblood of this organization. We count on you, every day, to do what’s right for kids. We need to do what’s right for you as well.


Peter C. Gorman

That email was one part of a very painful morning for me. Since coming to CMS, I have worked hard to build rapport with all CMS employees — teachers, administrators, staff, support folks. There are so many people in this district who work hard for our kids every day, and I appreciate all that our employees do.

This district has set ambitious goals. Our success in achieving them depends in large part on the trust and support of our employees. My apology to all of them is heartfelt, and I hope that we can move on from this and continue to work together in an atmosphere of trust and respect to do what’s best for kids.

Congrats Helene Blowers!

Helene Blowers has been named the winner of the 2008 LITA/Library Hi Tech award for Outstanding Communication in Library and Information Technology.  Emerald and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association, sponsor the award.
The award recognizes outstanding achievement in communicating to educate practitioners within the library field in library and information technology.  It consists of $1,000 and a certificate of merit.

Helene Blowers is the Director of Digital Strategy for the Columbus Metropolitan Library in Columbus, Ohio.  Previous to her current position, she served as the Public Services Technology Director for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (PLCMC), in Charlotte, NC.  She provided leadership for many award winning library services including, and  But perhaps the best known of her many accomplishments was her role as the architect and developer of  “Learning 2.0: 23 Things”, an online discovery program designed to encourage library staff to explore new technologies.  The application is remarkable for the innovative approach it employs but also for its profound impact on the world of technology training for library staff.  To date, over 200 libraries have created and delivered their own versions, including a number of libraries outside the United States.  Learning 2.0 opens up the world of Web 2.0 to new participants, inviting personal initiative and encouraging experimentation.  All the blog posts and podcasts that were created for the program have been licensed for re-use under Creative Commons, allowing libraries everywhere to create their own Learning 2.0 programs.

Rapidly disseminating information you find interesting?

you too could share

Note: we also get the results from the social media survey. Open all the links at once: -thanks

Sharing PDFs

At times, I want to share parts of an article (like with you.) So I tested an online tool to extract an abstract from the article I just read. Here’s that abstract:

…The main hypothesis we examine is whether heavier users of IT are more productive, and if heavier users of IT are indeed more productive, how does this increase in productivity manifest itself? Our results suggest that, controlling for other factors, the size of an individual’s internal email network is more highly correlated with revenues generated by that individual than age, experience or education. … Additionally, even after accounting for the individual’s number of unique contacts within the firm, the social network measure of “betweenness” is also highly correlated with revenues. We attribute the strength of these results to the fine grain detail of the data on this form of task-based white collar work.”

and rather than force you to load Adobe Acrobat Reader I can re-direct you to another tool. allows me to quickly let you load a presentation on the paper above. If you ever sent anyone a large PDF they will thank you for using this. Here’s that presentation.

Another way I collect information is to save the slides or pages I specifically want. In a 78-page PDF it’s doubtful I want all 78-pages. Sometimes I actually like to hand colleagues a hard copy of a specific section. Trolling through the PDF to print only the pages I want is time consuming. Nor do I want my colleagues to have to find the pages I want them to see if I email it. I just hack the PDF down. Using this app you can modify your PDF for sharing. Takes seconds. Saves time.

The folks over at infodoodads turn you on to some pretty cool stuff too. Laurie did this presentation. Then put it online. Pretty slick. Here’s the link to Issuu and the presentation:

A lot of my tricks I’ve picked up from other bloggers but most recently I’m thankful to (I would have called it friedveggies since I’m one of those veg-heads.)

I also bookmark like mad. Do you get regular links via your delicious account? “What’s that!?! Not another thing to check,” you say. Settle down now; it’s just links. If you’re in my network I can add you every time I bookmark something I think you would like. You can practice reciprocity by sharing with me. Here’s how to do it:

|links for you| –look for this up near the top of your delicious page.

then add me formally to your delicious network by searching for iblee or simply typing the tag:
(I chose Lauren as an example because she shared a cool article on Buddhism with me.)

Social Media
A few weeks back we looked at the question, “How many Social Media Sites do you use online?” Of course, right away I was asked to define it. I’m not big on giving definitive definitions for things I didn’t create. (Not that I’ve created anything worth talking about or defining!) So, yeah, I googled it. I liked Robert Scoble’s take: Social Media. A large part of this media revolves around participation. Yes, participation is in decline in some ways. Read Bowling Alone yet? Even if the author’s premise and research is sloppy (as some have called it) it’s still worth thinking about. When was the last time you got together for dinner with friends? How regularly is it? Do you schedule this time? How social are you offline?

“How many Social Media Sites do you use online?” results:
1-3 sites 40.0%
4-7 sites 51.0%
8+ sites 9.0%

Some responses:
Primary interplay revolves around my typepad blog (, facebook account, sites, and google reader feeds/sharing

Although I’m an Early Adopter (MOOS since 1995, LiveJournal since 2000, my offline life is too full for too much time spent online

I have my own blog, I blog for the library, I have a facebook account, a flickr account, i occasional login to, I belong to three wikis including the Peace Corps Wiki

LJ, diaryland, flickr, twitter, ravelry, librarything, facebook, myspace,

Don’t Forget

oh! and don’t forget to share your feeds :)
Feel free to share where you go for info and how you share it with your friends (those online ones too.) You will most likely expose someone to a tool, trick or source they didn’t know about.

Hmm, maybe I should have titled this post: “Sharing is caring?”

TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc

What is today’s mystery word?

andLinux and Windows XP

We’re not going to geek out here but we need to talk about:
–Virtualizing XP,
–Restorable/Disposable Computing,
Read on and discover today’s mystery word. Spolier alert: this is a choose-your-own mystery word adventure.

Here we beg the document engineering question. Do most people need all the features that Microsoft Word offers? Most users think they need to “buy” software to be able to effectively design their documents. This is highly unlikely. We know most patrons do not know about free or open source software. Most people would be fine typing their paper in something as simple as Notepad or a free Word Processor like AbiWord. AbiWord has most of the features you need. If our patrons truly need to do advance document engineering, Word may or may not be the best candidate.

As for writing the paper, could we suggest to our users that 2-steps make a better writing process? First: pure, simple, hacking, away at the keyboard to produce their work of literary greatness. In Microsoft Word, there are far too many distractions to take you away from the task of writing. I’m sure you’ve played the Font Game, (Hmmmm, Times New Roman is starting to look dated…What about Verdana? Oh too modern). Possibly you have tweaked and re-tweaked your headers, footers and page numbering too? I usually do this when my forehead starts bleeding from trying to think of that elusive word while re-writing and re-writing and re-writing. Or maybe that’s just me.

Next, the intrepid writer can port their new literary work to a piece of software that will allow them to create a document with formal page margins, headers and footers, a cover page, image, sections, and tables. (Most email systems can be thought of as the first step in document creation too. Unless you’re constantly checking your email.) Users also seem to not know that you don’t need MS Office. Those patrons, unless doing very serious document formatting, can use a free word processing software to engineer the final copy.

Here’s the “converting a MS Office 2007 document” part for our user who gets home and can’t open the latest greatest file from Microsoft. For 2007, Microsoft changed file formats. Documents get an x tacked on now -actually it’s Microsoft’s version of XML. You get a strange look when you tell people they don’t need to buy the newest edition of Microsoft Office 2007 to open any of the new Office file formats. If they have a version of Office from 97-2003, there are no worries. They usually don’t believe me so I give them the quote below and this link in an email:

By installing the Compatibility Pack in addition to Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003, you will be able to open, edit, and save files using the file formats new to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007…

Also, it’s not a bad idea to inform your users to keep a copy of, say, their resume as a plain text file. Again, locking your most precious documents up in proprietary formats is not the wisest move.
What if you can’t afford to buy the newest software that will open those MS file formats? That’s speaking from experience. I’m sure you don’t do that. Also, it’s far less likely over time and multiple saves, that a simple text file will become corrupted. Again, the idea is to separate content from presentation while not getting crazy with it. Obviously your PowerPoint presentation should not be separated into images and a text file. Or should it? As long as you have an internet connection you’d have your presentation with Slidy. Some folks also use

–Virtualize XP
Getting used to playing with Microsoft Virtual PC will do two things for you. (Sorry, I know I am ignoring Macs here; forgive me.)
1. If you learn how to do a Microsoft Windows XP installation you will feel more empowered over your technology and will help yourself demystify some of what IT actually does. How so you say? The great thing about working on a virtual machine, as opposed to your own actual PC, is that you can break it with no care -recklessly. You just delete the virtual drive and start over.
2. Having a Virtual Machine on your own PC allows you to:
a.) test software you think you may need,
b.) test software patrons want you to install
c.) keep your PC “clean and secure” by not accelerating rot on windows. There are few others you can use like VMware but you have to use their virtual machine player and are limited to the VM builds they offer -unless you have the workstation edition to create your own virtual machines.

–Restorable/Disposable Computing
Imagine having disposable XP computing instances? Each time you reboot you have a new Windows installation. There are several programs you can use to secure your personal computer or the work computers you oversee. Microsoft SteadyState is not bad. Returnnil gives you controls to return your system to a pristine state. There are others and it can get quite costly. The free stuff holds its own though. Why would you do this? Public computers should be for public use. These kinds of controls give a user complete access to their PC. Maybe they need to install some software to do their taxes. Let them. Then reboot the computer and it’s back to your baseline image.

Finally, you’ve heard of Linux but don’t want to go through the trouble of installing it. With andLinux you can explore Linux and use thousands of Linux applications -from within Windows XP. Get a taste of Linux without getting all geeked out.

I guess we did just geek out. I’m choosing stenographic as my mystery word for today.

TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc

Do you face Resistance?


Have you ever walked into a door you thought was open? I can’t tell you how many screen doors I’ve walked through living in Florida. Ever wonder what the heck you are running into where you work? Ever thought about what Resistance is? Ever felt like there was a force preventing you from moving in a direction you want to go? Do libraries have a special kind of Resistance?

Creativity can be described as the right kind of Resistance: a tensioned state that doesn’t suppress your ability to think or act and on the other end isn’t vapidly easy. Creative tension is a state where you re-mix tools, abilities, skills, and solutions in new ways. Resistance fears this state. It doesn’t want you to know this. Knowing what kind of Resistance you face, naming the nameless, allows you to re-claim energy and re-direct it.

I also feel talking openly about failures will create a culture of (knowledgeable) risk takers. Success and failure are far more intimate friends than they let on. Sure: out on the playground they look like enemies. Always one Winner and one Loser right? Yet for how long do successes last? How fast have you recovered from some failure? Some say contentment is the highest goal. That’s awfully philosophical for a Monday -but I am a closet existentialist.

Check the book out:

TTW Contributor- Lee LeBlanc