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.