Monday, November 17, 2008

ProQuest widget, yet again


Enter your search terms:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Large, Super-high Resolution Display

From NASA Ames Research Center:

The power to visualize highly complex information in a way that’s easier for the human mind to grasp is taking a giant leap forward with the advent of NASA’s new hyperwall-2 system unveiled today at Ames Research Center.

Developed by scientists and engineers in the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames, the 128-screen hyperwall-2, capable of rendering one quarter billion pixel graphics, is the world’s highest resolution scientific visualization and data exploration environment. The new tool enables scientists to quickly explore datasets that otherwise would take many years to analyze.

For more pictures, see

For more information, follow the link to the related news release.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Libraries Build Communities

This was my second year volunteering with LBC. This time I tried an elementary school. After failing to find the group for Lampson, I got added to the Woodsboro Elementary School’s group. Six of us rode out to the school in a large taxi, and found a school roped off as a hardhat zone and all the classrooms, offices, and library in portables. One portable had running water, but no electricity anywhere else. We mostly did shelfreading by light from windows and doors, some repair and weeding. I got to do animals and vehicles, aviation, and space, so I was quite happy. Finished up in fiction, nice to switch to thicker books. Our school librarian was a gracious and appreciative hostess, even went out to the store for supplies and more cold water when Domino’s gave us pizza and bottles of soda, but no plates, napkins, or cups. Sorry that names have faded from too much input the rest of the conference, but I spent the day with a great group of people and rode in with a caring taxi driver who didn’t leave until we found the library within what looked like abandoned construction. Even with some confusion on how to get the return taxi, the SUV taxis were much better than having small groups of us in buses like last time.

Next time, I’ll be louder about finding my group, and print out directions. Taxis don’t usually go to schools and not all drivers have or use GPS. Our packet had directions from the school to Domino’s, but we got them to (mostly) deliver. This is the third year of LBC and it seems like the logistics keep improving, so thanks to the volunteers that set all this up and got the other volunteers like me on track!

Predictably Irrational - Daniel Ariely

Rather than rehashing, I'll refer the reader to Jami L. Haskell's post in her blog, Librarian Like Me.

The things that really stood out for me were people's reluctance to choose carefully among many choices - they choose the default. How the looks of the scale can influence how people answer questions - visually they interpret the middle of the scale as "normal" even if it isn't (how many times per day do you floss your teeth? 1-10). How we accept physical limitations but expect people to have mental superpowers. To encourage database use, let students know the real cost and that they need to use it or lose it (when the semester or college is over).

Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy

Talked about keeping kids interested in science and engineering in junior high and beyond. In their talk and in this post, it gets shortened to “science” instead of “science, technology, engineering, and math” every time. It turns out that young kids love science, but the interest wanes or goes underground in 5th through 8th grade, especially for girls. Reasons include the wild-haired loner scientist stereotype, kids not seeing the relevance of science to daily life, and subtle messages from parents, teachers, peers and the media about what’s cool or appropriate or normal. The point is that kids already have the interest – adults don’t need to “convert” them, just encourage the interest that’s already there.

It means letting kids see that science is really creative, collaborative, and fun. Sally and Tam wrote books showing a diverse group of real scientists (diverse fields, diverse people) that told about their childhoods or outside interests along with how they do their scientific work. Another point is that junior high girls have a strong interest in having a positive impact on the world, and boys this age respond to this as well.

Their latest book is coming out in the fall, Mission Planet Earth. It draws on research on climate change and Sally’s experience in space and presents the evidence in scientifically accurate and age-appropriate language. To introduce this, they showed images from space, many from Sally’s missions. These included a dramatic view down the eye of a hurricane and a smoke overcast from burning of large sections of Amazon rain forest.

Discussion after the talk included a request for them to write Danny Dunn style books with a female main character (they do nonfiction, but think it’s an excellent idea that should extend to TV, the internet and other media), whether to separate boys and girls in class and lab (good idea for a few years – boys tend to exude confidence and do all the hands-on, while girls tend to hold back and watch. Once the habit’s broken and the kids are in upper grades of high school, don’t need to continue the separation), how they got into science (both had parents who were encouraging. Tam’s were teachers, I think, and Sally’s’ were a political science professor and homemaker who both valued education and encouraged her interests). Their advice to parents was to help kids understand what they’re passionate about and let them explore a variety of books and ideas.

Ergonomics in Libraries

Judy Village, a certified ergonomist discussed designing library spaces and work processes to minimize musculoskeletal injuries. After explaining that an ergonomist is a certified profession in both Canada and the US who studies user needs, “translates” them into language and specifications that architects and building project planners can work with. She presented a lot of examples from circulation – reaching, bending, holding a book between the knees while making room on the shelf for it, etc., and some solutions and redesigns of both work and physical workstations and equipment. She talked about “fit” – making sure things fit people on the ends of the spectrum of reach, height, etc, not the average. One of her slides demonstrated how average-sized people are rare – of all men, about 25 % would be of average height (the middlemost chunk of bell curve), of those a percentage would have average arm length, of the ones with average height and arm length, only a subset would also have average leg length and so on. Another good point was to analyze the task/workstation/equipment for the parts that are essential to fit. She also talked briefly about wayfinding for patrons, observing what people do when confused (try airports and the like), and using standardized terms and color coding, with signs as a last resort.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Virtual Communities and Libraries

Thousands of virtual worlds out there (Association of Virtual Worlds Blue Book lists them), mostly oriented to children and teens. The majority of users are children and teens. One challenge to libraries is that there is a global audience in the virtual world, requiring a different model than our usual orientation to a particular community or institution.

Reference service is popular in Second Life. For assessment, can set up proximity sensors that tell how many avatars come within a defined distance of the sensor.

The virtual world is 3D for people and things, someday have 3D for data. Some beginnings – can fly your avatar through molecules to see their structure. Also fly-thru sculptures where avatars’ motion creates tones and music. I need to find both of these!

ALA Island has events for National Library Week and Banned Books Week. ALA wants to get a regular calendar of events going there. ACRL has a parcel of land, and holds monthly meet and greets. RUSA has programs and discussions on notable books.

Joe Sanchez is a doctoral student working on virtual worlds. He presented the metaverse, consisting of augmented reality (cyborgs – Bluetooth in ear, etc), life logging (Flickr, blogs, twitter, YouTube), Virtual worlds, Mirror worlds (Google Earth, Street view, maps).

Then John Walber’s ”virtual reality check” – asking when is 3D better or necessary when there are good 2D tools for collaboration like Elluminate. Qwaq has Lego-people style avatars, except that if you use a webcam, video of your face shows up, so you don’t have to keystroke your expressions. You can drag and drop any application into Qwaq. Google Sketchup is useful for creating an environment. New Yourk children used Google Sketchup to come up with accessible subway designs and then use avatars to walk through and try them out.

Top Tech Trends

Did an unscientific “poll” from my notes.

Five mentions: Collaboration using Web 2.0 tools, content creation at the library, including rich media production, social software, user to user interactions

Four mentions: Open source software, especially library systems, may have had 4. A couple of panelists said they’d wanted to mention it, but their comments were already said.

Three mentions: The need for bandwidth

Two mentions: Open data – opening the data in the library system to migrate and analyze and providing access to the experimental data upon which scholarly research is based. Sarah’s post on free open content of good quality relates to this as well. Mobile devices, ubiquity, and telepresence

That leaves a bunch of singles: Small publishers driven online by postage increases, Net neutrality, Cloud storage (data storage distributed over many smaller computers), Experimentation, Taking responsibility for your own learning, Archiving of blogs as a future historical source, Sustainability of Web 2.0 (and 1.0) tools – not only archiving, but staff time to develop and maintain, Greening of equipment for web use, Semantic web, Library structure not being innovation-friendly

See also

Sarah's Top Technology Trends - virtual presentation for ALA 2008

LITA Blog's Top Technology Trends category with more presenters' entries and a sound recording of the session.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Social Software Showcase, LITA BIGWIG

The presentations were online at the BIGWIG site Then at the meeting, each presenter gave a quick intro to their topic, after which we (all 95ish of us) gathered round tables or floor space to ask questions of the presenters and discuss the topics with one another. We were encouraged to move around and learn as the spirit moved us. I found it an excellent format – was much more willing to ask basic questions around a table than in a room of 95 people in forward facing chairs.

I concentrated on APIs and Zotero. I finally got it on my own missing link – where the code sits. Another participant explained the two choices, 1 – the code is on the server and queries the source of the data when called upon, 2 – it uses JavaScript in the browser and the browser itself runs the API. Rest of the discussion was on uses and examples. Zotero is intended to keep your whole research process together. You can gather notes, screenshots, annotated articles, citations in one place. It’s free and you download a client to your computer. They’re working on a web version that will sync with your client, and the next step after that is collaborative space. This has been very popular in the fields of history and political science. Lorena O’English also talked about Connotea and CiteULike – there’s a comparison in her recorded presentation.

I believe this is a Marriott issue, but wireless was not extended to participants in the rooms in either session I attended there – even the presenters had to negotiate for connections. The Hilton got it set up for Top Tech Trends. I hope next year that the organizers (I know, along with all the complexity they already deal with) read the hotels with meeting the riot act about wireless for conference attendees, not just the ones staying at that hotel. It’s no longer a perk – it’s how we work.

UToronto E-Resource Feed to Blackboard

Poster Session "Matching courses to resources: integrating discipline-specific Library resources in Blackboard courses." Here’s the abstract:

The University of Toronto Libraries faced a daunting challenge this year -- thousands of new Blackboard courses coming online, and ZERO Library presence in the Blackboard LMS environment.
With a small grant from the University, Library staff built a structural framework using RSS feeds, that would automatically feed existing discipline-specific resource lists and essential library services, into appropriate Blackboard courses. For those courses where the auto-generated resources were inappropriate, Library staff built an online "fix-it" tool.
The fix-it tool enabled librarians to both modify the feeds AND see how the rendered web results would look in Blackboard, without first having to seek course access from individual instructors. The rendered pages of Library resources are automatically integrated in Blackboard through a building block, which was also developed as part of the project. Rendered pages can easily be repurposed for other course management systems or standalone web pages, making this a secure, flexible and scalable model.

Rita Vine and Sian Miekle answered questions at the poster. The system handles e-resources of any kind. While the intent is to feed into Blackboard, the system was designed to feed to any web page. As Sian was explaining all this, Michael Brewer form University of Arizona, Tucson described how they’re using an information literacy question base in Blackboard to administer an IL pretest. The results go to both the course instructor and the library. This allows the librarian and course instructor to prioritize the information literacy instruction for each class.

Project MUSE

Project MUSE did a major website design. Goes live in August, 2008. Features include LCSH linking, getting the citation from the article view, various ways to cross-link among records, RSS feeds, ability to save links to online tools such as Connotea,, Facebook, etc., snippets that show the context of the search term. A link to find related articles from an article will be in the next release.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Jing is a very simple screen capture for still images and on-screen action. It’s from TechSmith, the makers of Snagit and Camtasia. The difference (besides being very simple and non-customizable) is that it connects you to for hosting your captures and they will host Flash. For me, the easy hosting is the big deal – not a lot of steps between capture and saving on You can also save to a file or copy to the clipboard. I’m finding it a lot easier to use on Vista than Snagit, which has some issues with my accessibility settings.

When opened, it sits at the top of your screen (the yellow “half-sun”) ready to take a screenshot any time. (this was actually done with MS Snipping tool – it won’t capture itself)

OOpps no picture, all heckins breaking loose in thecomputer...

For library purposes, it’s a quick and easy way to save and store screen images or video that can be included in Library Guides or sent to a student in an e-mail. It may be an option for students authoring course assignments.

I’m sure it won’t be free forever – TechSmith is trying it out to see what customers want and how it fits in their business model.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

IUG Tuesday

Encore plus “Classic” WebPAC Pro – they complement each other. Encore is for exploring and focusing on the fly, Classic is for when you know what you want or are a power user who plans and pre-limits searches. Beautiful dropdown on MSU library home page:

Keyword – Beta Search

Keyword – Classic



Publication Title

Reserve Course

Reserve Instructor

Keep accessible documentation of circ parameters and tables, when, what changed, why, who changed it. Sounds like it could live in a staff wiki.

Singe Signon – we could do it. If not, can go with LDAP so we at least go with same username / password as the rest, even if it keeps bugging for login.

Blackboard Building Block – WOOHOO! Go into course reserves by course. No reauthenticating there (unless linking out to a database, no EZProxy). Would still sit out in regular course reserves, though.

Offline circ for no connection to server.

From the wonderful folks at Virginia Tech who brought us LibX, MAJAX! Screenscrapes MARC records in WebPAC and lets you reformat display in Harvard citation style (will program others if you request) and show real-time status info. Works in any web page in the same domain as your Millennium. May not do it for LibGuides – our is a redirect. Google Book Classes – fancy linking from WebPAC to whatever Google Books has.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

IUG Monday

The land of yes and yes but later.
Holds on bibs/items on order and in processing.
How to e-mail/text notices and still have your auditable paper trail.
OPAC usability. Instead of expecting patrons to sort out ILL, reserve, getting from another library within the system, use "get here," "get in 1-2 days," get in 23 weeks" - focuses on what the patron cares about, not our system of getting it to them.
Possible fixes for the vanishing Claims Returned (which is doing what it's supposed to, but not what we want).
We can TURN OFF the annoying auto-OR in the WebOPAC!! YAAYYY!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The ProQuest widget, again

Searches on "alces alces"

Enter your search terms:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Podcasting, results already!

Here's the podcast from yesterday's class at Middletown Library Service Center. The big deal is that the technology came together. The content is unplanned, unscripted and a bit rough in delivery, and now I can do more polished ones when needed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Still the future of...

Still the future of the library. We're looking at facilitating discovery, not so much selecting part of facilitating [poor audio]. listen

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Back to that few(?)...

Back to that few(?) study, generation wide, 18 to 35 year olds are actually using libraries more than any of the previous generations, they talked about how libraries congress put images on Flickr because they didn't know what they were and they were hoping that the rest of the world could help identify them, Harvard, New Mass and Hurst are moving to open house publishing of research, wondering about what's new about high user expectations sounds like old news, I think more of the people, it's becoming more of an expectation and less [...] I think that should happen but it will never happen there, especially becoming more of an expectational in advance, there is also a break down of the distinction between information and communication and libraries and up in the business of both, one participant mentioned that all this is wicked exciting. listen

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This is MERCOMP. This...

This is MERCOMP. This is on the future of the library, workshop by Brandeis University a group of people from there. There point was that is not about the books. A 2005 OCLC survey on perceptions of library people, thinks it's about the book or may actually did word counts of the people responses information was what came through loud and clear. The few internet study, that the internet is not the first choice for information eve4nm over people you know and prairie dogging your listen

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This is about NERCOMP....

This is about NERCOMP. This is from Julie Kaye Little's Workshop on Podcasting. Earlier, she gave us some examples, she described what the Podcast is. Gave us some certain [Unclear Speech, Please Listen] Podcasting. The main thing the groups got was all this things that are on the edge [...]. listen

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Get to Course Reserves Quickly?

A test to see how a durable link into our electronic course reserves works from elsewhere on the web. Go to Hagrid's course.
And one of Professor Engel's (without e-reserves) to test getting into one course of many taught by one professor.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tag Clouds as Text Analysis Tool

From the Shifted Librarian, a fascinating alternative use of tag clouds. Jason Griffey made tag clouds of the State of the Union speeches from this year and last and posted them on his Pattern Recognition blog.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

ProQuest Search Widget

More widgetology! We can put ProQuest search boxes on web pages without doing a lot of programming.


Enter your search terms:

This one is limited to full text and ABI/Inform, Hoover's, the Wall Street Journal, and the ProQuest Business Module. That may be too restrictive for real life, but makes a reasonable demo.

Thanks to Jenny, the Shifted Librarian, for her more detailed post.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Multipoint and 3D Tracking with Off the Shelf Hardware

From the Shifted Librarian, a link to Johnny Chung Lee 's projects based on the Wii game equipment - The Coolest Training Lab Ever. Be sure to follow the link to his website so you can also see the collaborative projected screen demo and the 3D head tracking. This is what our students will start to see in their games in the next few years.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

This is a post done...

This is a post done from a cell phone to a service named Jott into a blog, this is a test. listen

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