Baby, it’s cold outside

Fortunately, I can still bask in the warm glow of the Interweb.  I like it when libraries make information available online; I love it when they do so in a format that regular people can understand.  Some librarians are completely unaware that using the library can be considered a customer experience; what’s more, most librarians eschew the word ‘customer’ when referring to users of the library.  To me, the only difference is that people have already paid for library services, whereas they have a choice of what to buy in a store.

I’ve noticed that library websites tend to resemble old Carnegie library buildings; many of them look a bit dated, there’s too much material in too little space, and it can be quite difficult to find what you want.  In defense of the Carnegie buildings, they possess a bookish atmosphere that can be very welcoming.  For websites, however, the effect is mostly negative.

The trouble seems to be that librarians want library websites to be created in their own bookish image-  organized by some long-dead system of classifying information, with one-click access to a dizzying array of bibliographic information, online databases, and other library bricabac.  Not easy to use at all, if you don’t have your Master’s degree in library science.

In fairness, there should be some continuity between the physical library and it’s website- that’s  natural.  But for library websites, the medium is the message.  It’s our way of staying relevant- and the time has already come that library users are expecting more than we are giving them.

Anyway, what all this was leading to is that I found a library website that impresses me- and right in my neck of the woods:

Best of all, it runs on wordpress, just like my blogola.  Is there anything that can’t be done with open-source software?

*If you guessed ‘open a Microsoft Publisher file’, then you’re right

SHHHHHHHouldn’t we work harder to overcome this cliche?

I like Me & Goji alot, but they’ve crossed the line with their new cereal description:

healthy hoops!

for our new base, we boosted organic O’s of quinoa, spelt and kamut with our raw wheat germ and amaranth blend.

warning: these whole-grain O’s are so crunchy that libraries in 40 states have banned indoor consumption!  watch these life-savers float atop your milk and know that you are throwin’ your body a life line (made of healthy fibers).  O, how [un]sweetened it is!

I love libraries and crunchy cereals- is that so wrong?

I’ll never tire!

March 2004 118 300x224It’s been 16 days since I’ve driven my car. It’s been nice, in spite of the early arrival of winter. For the most part, I’ve walked to work (excepting a single rainy day) or ridden my motorcycle (brrrrrr).

I hope I don’t disappoint anyone, but this wasn’t a wholly conscious effort. My car key went missing on the 1st of November, and I’ve not had the time to replace until today. In the midst of my auto-abstinence, some force of nature decided to remove my driver’s side window, leaving behind a glittering pile of glass cubes. Let’s hope the next window lasts longer than the former…

Fortunately, the irony of the whole situation isn’t lost on me- at a time when gas is approaching 2003-2004 price levels, I’m driving less than ever. Like others, some masochistic part of me actually wants to waste gas just to have the satisfaction of filling it up again for under $2 a gallon.

It also happens to be a time when the company which manufactured my car is begging for it’s existence. On NPR, a commentator I was listening to put it best “The big three have sailed against the winds of change for too long, and it’s finally showing”. Succinct and spot-on in this case, with only a minor extension it could be applied to a number of legacy librarians who see the world in exactly the same way they saw it 20 or 30 years ago, and who flatly refuse to acknowledge that what they learned in library school is often no longer applicable. I understand that change is seldom easy, but American automakers are a gleaming example of sticking to a outdated enterprise. Will librarians who fail to change be on the brink someday? I think part of our complacency is the deep-rooted reverence for the library as a social institution. People who don’t ever set foot in the library will continue to support it because of it’s perceived benefit to the community. But will this idea endure?

Seg me up!

Regular readers know that I’m pretty skeptical of most technology, but I think we’ve really got something in the Segway.  I finally got to take one of these two-wheeled wonders at the St. Louis Science Center, and it was no less than super-villian fun to cruise around and frighten hapless bystanders.

Of course, the Segway’s novelty far outstrips it’s practicality, but that’s hardly sufficient reason to keep you from being object of jealousy & ridicule in your home town by buying one today.

On an equally amusing note, my coworker and I were barred entry to the tunnel that connects the science center with it’s parking lot, so we had the unsavory choice of crossing I-64 on foot or begging a ride from one of the presenters.  Luckily, I wore my begging boots.

Liberry my heart at wounded knee

Yesterday marked the end of my service to the Liberry.  It ended much in the same way it began- with everyone wondering if the new person would know what the hell he was doing.

It’s a strange thing to keep one job through the first half of your 20’s.  Things change rather quickly during those years.  I look different, think differently, and care about different things than I did when I started working at the Liberry, which is how things should be.  But the side-effect of working in one place during a  metamorphosis is the sense that you’ve worked there forever.  It’s been four years- approximately 16% of my life.

Four years of working on Gates computers, unjamming printers, helping the helpless, teaching classes, meeting weird people, and keeping books waaaay longer than is befitting a liberry employee.

Now it’s up to another brave soul to traverse the straits of the Liberrian Sea.  Will he reach the sunny shores of super-librarianship?  Run aground in the shoals of mediocrity?  Be dashed upon the rocky coast of incompetence?

Be misled by a mixed maritime metaphor?!?!?!

Let them eat Flickr pie

The time has finally come for the Liberry to make its Flickr debut:

Setup was a breeze, although I quickly realized that the free account is inadequate for most everything.  I uploaded about 100 pictures with F-spot in Ubuntu (which doesn’t like .tiff files, fyi), and the only difficult part was giving the photos meaningful names and tags.

So far it’s mostly historical pictures, punctuated by a few adverts and artworks around the Liberry.  Despite not having tons of photos, the first batch does have a few lookers, particularly the fire pictures.

I think we’ll want to upgrade to the pro account, which really isn’t too expensive ($25/yr). It allows you to have as many photo sets as you like, no upload cap, etc.  The question is, will anybody look at it?

Next up: Liberry meets youtube!!1!!


I’ve rediscovered something I wrote off a long time ago, and it’s name is LibX. It is a free tool that creates a Firefox/IE toolbar to let users search your library’s catalog. A nice feature, but LibX is even craftier- if you’re browsing books on Amazon, it will automagically create a link (next to the title) to that item in your catalog. The setup takes just a few minutes, gives you control over every option, and even has version management. I’d post a picture of the awesomeness, but WordPress 2.5 still doesn’t let me upload pictures. Curses!

Be that as it may, you can still download my toolbar (for firefox)

It’s no understatement to say that every library in the world should use this.