Category Archives: TTW Contributor: Mick Jacobsen

ILEAD U: Team Pandora

This is the third installment from the ILEAD U Project.  Click here or on the category hyperlink to read more about it. – Mick Jacobsen

Team Pandora was comprised of three libraries in the Springfield area- the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (Jan Perone), Illinois State Library (Debra Aggertt, Sandra Fritz and Beth Paoli) and University of Illinois Springfield-Brookens Library (Pamela Salela).

After a few meetings a final decision was reached by the group to try to improve services to Illinois State government agencies particularly those that had lost or did not have an agency library.

Team Pandora had a major obstacle to overcome by having to get information through state government’s somewhat limiting restrictions.  With the participation of the University of Illinois Springfield, the major issues of who could pay and order the grant material and possibly host any web products we came up with could be solved.

With Jan’s connections, a survey created by Team Pandora was sent out to a small group of central Illinois librarians and was eventually allowed to be sent to Deb’s connections at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The three libraries came up with resources in their respective libraries that would best suit state employees’ needs.  UIS- Central Illinois Non-Profit Resource Center, ALPL- newspapers& historical resources and ISL- state and federal documents.

The team eventually used the resources purchased through the grant to create a web portal (content management system) and video for the site.  Team Pandora was divided into two sub-committees that worked on the portal called LRISA (Library Resources for Illinois State Agencies) and the other worked on writing, filming and editing a video.

The in-session ILEADU classes assisted in learning about Content Management Products.  It was also essential in learning about the possibilities for video use and the tools needed.

Most members of Team Pandora had little or no experience with any of the technologies used so it is safe to say, the learning curve was great and the information learned was immense.  Technologies learned include Adobe Connect Pro, Survey Monkey, WordPress and Camtasia.

The challenge for the future will be if the site can become a reality.  As mentioned previously, the hurdles placed by State Government can be difficult but we hope to preserver.

TTW Contributor Mick Jacobsen

ILEAD U: Springfield Big Read

Expression logo

This is the second installment from the ILEAD U Project.  Click here or on the category hyperlink to read more about it. – Mick Jacobsen

Team Springfield Big Read includes Amanda Binder and Janelle Gurnsey from University of Illinois Springfield, Brookens Library; Julie Wullner from Lincoln Library, The Public Library of Springfield, Illinois; Amy Ihnen from Chatham Public Library District; and Sarah Garley from Rochester Public Library.  Together we represent four of the 14 partners of The Big Read in Central Illinois.  The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest that promotes literary reading among Americans by having communities read and discuss a single book.  The Big Read in Central Illinois selected Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Big Read Contest

The goal of the Springfield Big Read team was to use participatory technology to engage individuals ages 18-24 in The Big Read in Central Illinois.  We thought that a contest about music, central to the life of one of the main characters in the book, would appeal both to our targeted audience, and to people of all ages.  Under the Influence: Music that Inspires allows people to express how music inspires them through writing, video, audio or artwork.  All entries will be featured and voted on by the public on the contest website:  Winners will be awarded prizes at the kickoff event for The Big Read in Central Illinois on February 15, 2011.

ILEAD U provided us with access to a team of experts and our own personal mentor, Genna Buhr, to support us as we experimented with finding the best technologies to create our project.  We decided to design a website to centralize all activities associated with the contest.  One of the challenges we encountered through this process was choosing a platform that supported all of the elements of the contest, such as the online entry forms and voting and communication tools.  We originally selected Ning as our platform but eventually chose WordPress because it better served our needs.

Join Us!

Under the Influence: Music that Inspires is already helping to build awareness about the upcoming Big Read program:  Since the website was launched in early November, we have been pouring our efforts into promoting the contest.  Team libraries are now lending Flip cameras and will be using iPads purchased through the grant to promote participation in the contest both in our libraries and throughout our communities.  To keep people connected to activity on the website, and informed of deadlines for the contest, we created accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

We are excited for the contest to build momentum over the next few months.  Entries are accepted through January 7, 2011 and you do not need to live in the Springfield area to participate!  If you are interested in promoting the Under the Influence: Music that Inspires Expression Contest at your location feel free to download print materials from our website.

How has music inspired you?

TTW Contributor Mick Jacobsen

ILEAD U Team Lincoln Lawgs: Building Blocks for Illinois Law Students

Who are the Lincoln Lawgers?

Team Lincoln Lawgs – Maribel Nash from Chicago-Kent College of Law, Jamie Sommer & Jessica de Perio Wittman from John Marshall Law School, Patricia Scott from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and Valerie Krasnoff from Northwestern University School of Law, along with supermentor Pat Boze  — began the ILEAD U process by forming a team to collaborate to create an online legal research community specifically for Illinois law students.  In sad news, we learned in July that Valerie had accepted a new position at Northwestern outside of the library and that she would no longer be able to participate in ILEAD U.  The remaining four Chicagoans and Pat soldiered on to make our Lincoln Lawgs dreams come true.

What is Lincoln Lawgs?

Although most law school students learn the same things, and encounter the same questions and problems when they enter the legal community for the first time, we realized that there is not much opportunity for Chicago law students to share their experiences. We wondered what we could do to change that, and the result is Lincoln Lawgs.

Lincoln Lawgs is an online community geared to Illinois law students.  The research portions of the site are geared to students working on assignments, either at work or in school, and features scenarios based on actual questions they might be asked to research.  Our tutorials are posted in multiple formats—video, text, links to helpful library resources—so students can learn the information using their preferred method.

Lincoln Lawgs also features virtual meeting spaces (“Cabins”) that students can reserve to hold group meetings online.  We have our “Campfire Chat,” or message boards, where students can post research questions they encounter and start conversations with other law students who perhaps have the same problems.  We have news feeds to popular local and national law blogs, where students can keep up with the latest goings-on through popular legal blogs.

Lincoln Lawgs also includes some fun features to help build our community of local law students.  Anyone can like us on Facebook, where we’ve posted some bonus pictures and discussion from our community.  Community members can even submit research questions to us on Facebook.  We also have Abe’s Photo Album, where you can submit photos of yourself with Abe (statue, bust, impersonator) and be featured on Lincoln Lawgs’ front page!

Why Abe?

Legal research can usually be pretty boring, and we hope that adding a touch of whimsy and kitsch might make Lincoln Lawgs more appealing to law students.  Not that Abe isn’t completely relevant…after all, Abe Lincoln is Illinois’ most famous attorney!

We hope that you take a look at Lincoln Lawgs and let us know what you think!

Introducing ILEAD U

ILEAD UOver the next couple months I will proudly be presenting the ILEAD U (hear I lead you) Class of 2010.

ILEAD U (Illinois Libraries Explore, Apply, and Discover… not sure what the U stands for) is an ongoing program developed by the super-cool Illinois State Library funded by a grant from the Laura Bush Foundation.  Its main stated goal is “To help library staff develop leadership skills necessary to address local community needs (e.g., job creation, education) through innovative applications of participatory technology tools”  Or “create awesome librarians” (my version).  This took place over 3 3 days sessions in lovely Springfield, IL.

Pretty cool, huh?

The participants formed groups (from at least 3 libraries) and applied.  I won’t speak for the teams as I will be putting up posts by each team in the near future.  Suffice to say that they all blew me away with their creativity, work ethic, and embracing of the new, difficult path that I think libraries need to take in order to create thriving communities.

What was looked for in each team member was:

  • “Each ILEADer must be innovative and interested in learning new technologies. A master’s degree in library science is NOT required, nor is expertise in Web technologies.
  • Each ILEADer must be motivated to connect with their user populations in virtual spaces.”

The teams were assigned a mentor to be an outside perspective and help facilitate the process.  Probably the hardest job of all.

I was part of the instructor corp Our job was to come up with a curriculum designed for the needs of the groups.  I taught Intro to Drupal, Screencasting for Beginners, Online Reputation Management, and Thinking Like a Website Architect.  Other classes were on Social Media, Knowing When to Kill Projects, WordPress, an Intro to LAMP, Plinket, Copyright, and many, many more.  The instructor corp was lead by the amazing David Lankes of Syracuse University.

In addition to the instructor corp were a few keynote speakers.  One was Beck Tench (who I had never met nor even heard of before… but do consider bringing her in for whatever she wants to talk about – if only for cool slides) and the always understated Eli Neiburger waxing poetic on How Libraries are Screwed.  And, of course, Lankes keynoted/brought together everything beautifully at will.

A new and interesting group has been invited to the next cohort.  This group is comprised of employees from other state libraries who are considering bringing it back to their states.   If this sounds interesting perhaps it is time to ask the powers that be if your state library could be involved?

I am proud to have been involved in the first year of ILEAD U and am sad that I will not be able to continue – but do want to highly recommend it to all.  This is something practical and awesome that is being created in Libraryland for and with our communities.  This is the future of librarians.

The first post written by one of the groups will be the Lincoln Lawgs…. in a few days.

TTW Contributor: Mick Jacobsen

Webinars and such

Man, webinars, streamed meetings, recorded speeches, etc. are everywhere. Earlier today I stumbled across a twitter hashtag #gwws discussing a seemingly interesting (haven’t had a chance to watch it yet)  presentation on screencasts and staff development. This is directly in my professional interest wheelhouse. I am lucky I noticed the hashtag. What if I hadn’t?

I, on the same hand, recently facilitated the Chicagoland Library Drupal Group.  We had some great content, discussing the soon to come and conquer Drupal 7 and how to allow patrons to make customized database lists using the Flag Module. We streamed and recorded the event (here).  I advertised on the drupal4lib listserv, web4lib, ALA Connect and Twitter.  I am positive I have missed a large portion of the audience that have or will have an interest in learning about these topics. 

I think it is important to put my recorded content in a place where it can easily be found. I also want a place I can easily find content that interests me.  Does this exist?  I don’t think so, at least I have not been able to find it.

So, might as well create it, right?  I have made a page on the Library Success Wiki as a home for these webinars, streamed meetings, recorded speeches and the like, titled Webinars and such.  I imagine I don’t have to describe why a wiki is a good idea for this.

Please add links to the wiki and spread the word.

TTW Contributor: Mick Jacobsen

Chicagoland Drupal Group

For those that are interested the Chicagoland Drupal Group (which I happen to run) is streaming their  meeting this coming Monday 9:30-12:00 central at

The scheduled presentations are:

  • But, I don’t WANT to read the whole manual: Continuing-Ed Opportunities with Drupal by Gwyneth Stupar, Reference and Web Services Librarian at the Northbrook Public Library and Matthew Lechleider Drupal community organizer.
  • Getting Evanced to Play Nice with Drupal – a Huge Step in the Right Direction by me.

If you happen to be in the Chicago area the group is meeting at the beautiful Glen Ellyn Public Library.   This program is free as in beer… no beer will be served, maybe coffee.

TTW Contributor: Mick Jacobsen

Core of CMS

I have been trying to figure out how to best describe the awesomeness that is content management systems to an audience whose technological knowledge will range from using email/Word to a little more advanced.  By the way, I have less than an hour to do so.

Instead of bemoaning my fate I am looking at this as an opportunity. I get to think about the “elevator speech” for content management systems.

After much thought I identified the two most important aspects, content types and permission levels.  These two aspects of CMSs are counter intuitive to organizations and individuals used to traditional websites.

Content Types
Separate the content from the presentation and let the content creators create the content. Content can be a blog entry, an image, a page, an advertisement for an event, a description of a database, a video, a link to a helpful website, anything really. The type of content doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that the content is easy to put on the website for the content creator.

For example, I want my youth librarians to be able to add upcoming programs. The “youth program” content type will need to display the title of the program, a description, an image to draw the eye, the date, time, the age group the program is intended for, and how to sign up.
For the sake of uniformity, I want:

  • the title to be in the Arial font, grey, and to be defined as a header
  • the image to float to the right of the description and be sized to 75px by 75px
  • the description to also be in Arial, colored black, and the font to be sized to .9em, and be below the title
  • the date to be formatted to short hand (01/30/10) and be bold as will be the time
  • the age group to be in bold
  • the youth program to automatically be placed in the youth programs list (sorted by date), be put on a calendar of events, and move to a place of high contact as the program’s date comes closer

An example of  a content type,  input form on the left, output on the right.

To ask a non web designer to try to figure out the necessary HTML/CSS or follow lengthy step-by-step instructions to keep this uniform format is crazy and a complete waste of time on many levels.  To have a single person format and position all the content is also wasteful.  Any CMS designer will be able to make what I described happen fairly easily.

Permission Levels

The idea of permission levels takes some time to understand for those used to one or two people being the funnel to getting content on a website, but should never be overlooked or underestimated.  Permission levels allows assigning particular users differing abilities.

For example, a youth librarian may be assigned the permission level/role “youth” and be able to add content such as youth programs, blog entries to the Youth Services Blog, databases to the youth research area, images to youth photo gallery, and administer comments on the youth blog.  An anonymous user could be allowed to add certain types of content (pending approval or not), comment without permission, or anything else.   The admin roll would be able to do everything.  The best CMSs allow the creation of roles to suit any organization’s needs.

The ability to think in terms of permission levels is hugely important.  It also completely revolutionizes websites which are meant to have community generated content, be that community: library employees, patrons in a town, or interested parties all over the world.

How are you selling content management systems?  If you are not using a CMS, why not?

Mick Jacobsen – TTW Contributor

An Intriguing Discussion

I highly recommend everybody taking a look at an intriguing, impromptu, and important discussion on the future of librarianship being had at Toby Greenwalt’s  theanalogdivide by some of the finest minds in the field.  It all began when Seth Godin wrote a few paragraphs about what libraries/librarians should be doing to remain viable -which some librarians  took exception to it on Twitter and elsewhere.  Be sure to check out the comments by Kate Sheehan, Bobbi Newman, and even a response by Seth Godin himself!

Mick Jacobsen – TTW Contributor


I recently produced a screencast on a popular reader’s advisory tool we use at mpow. I want to bring the tool to the attention of those that do not normally follow book reviews such as Library Journal’s Booksmack because of the use of participatory technologies. I have seen it written that IT/Technology is reference, I think we need to extend this to RA.

BookMatch: An RA Innovation via Screencast
“In an illuminating screencast created especially for BookSmack!, popular services manager Ricki Nordmeyer and adult services librarian Mick Jacobsen explain the Skokie Public Library’s new BookMatch program. This patron pleaser takes the reader’s advisory questionnaire into the 21st century with SurveyMonkey, form logic, and a wiki. Watch and learn!”

For those of you are interested in learning more about BookMatch please see a post I wrote about it for LISNew’s Summer series in August.

TTW Contributor
Mick Jacobsen