Library Cuts Elsewhere: Frederick County

I’ve known that area libraries have been hit as badly as “my” county library system.  Reading about Frederick  County Library’s cuts helps me feel “we’re all in the same boat.” 

I am envious  that they managed without cutting any staff–“only” not filling positions of people who retired or resigned.  Their hours are cut even worse than ours.

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Another path library services should take…

Providing information to people in rural areas, like the InfoLadies.

Thing 22: eBooks

I didn’t know till I’d read this that Project Gutenberg had audiobooks! Apparently, they get volunteers to record themselves reading the out-of-copyright books. There’s an interesting volunteer job/hobby!

I’m  tryingNetLibrary and Overdrive, with my new iPod. Then I’ll know even more about helping customers with them.

I started  Overdrive, but the PC’s protections wouldn’t let me download it to an Info Staff Office computer, so I decided to try NetLibrary.  I must say, they do have favorite authors in the nonfiction, at least in the Religion section. The nonfiction selection’s not huge, but not bad either.

The NetLibrary “one click” is one click to download the audiobook–but then you need to select and download the software for putting it on your PC or audio device. I can see how customers who aren’t net-savvy can get confused and have problems!

The audiobook–I chose one on Asian religions–is downloading as I type this. Download time is estimated at 7 minutes, not bad considering it’s an entire book. While waiting, I looked at the Help section for iPod users. It’s pretty clear, and doesn’t use much geek-speak.

Thing 21: Podcasts

I’m glad the Podcasts page on 23 things brought up Bloglines. I’d forgotten I had that! And it can bring podcasts to me, great!

I didn’t even need a podcast-search engine to find the first podcast source  I wanted: just went to NPR and added Fresh Air to my list of feeds so I can download whichever of those programs I want.

Next I tried Podcast Alley. They came up empty as far as podcasts concering Kage Baker (a recently deceased science fiction author I like) but found Dan Savage right away.  “Domestic Adoption” pulled up three podcasts on adoption; lower podcasts on the results list were sometimes related (foster parenting) sometimes not (domestic oil; pets) and the relevancy ranking algorithm is not very good.

Library-related podcasts? There’s Mugglecast, for Harry Potter fans. And there’s many on graphic novels: the #1 result was by Forbidden Planet, a longstanding science fiction, fantasy, comics & graphic novels bookstore in NYC. I need to download something called a “Podcast Aggregator”–doesn’t make it easy to get to a podcast.  Also, I don’t want to try to download random software onto our library’s computers, assuming our firewalls and other protections would let me.

Let’s see if NPR does podcasts without making you download some kind of mediating software. 

Indeed they do! You only have to click on the podcast title you want…and the ad starts downloading. Only a short one, though, and then I’m right into a review of Lord Peter Wimsey’s stories on public TV. You can easily adjust the volume, and stop and restart the program.

Thing 23: Final Thoughts

Found this website on May 12 on Library 2.0 and what it has accomplished! The author’s answer, in short: a lot of librarians exploring new technology, much of which has yet to trickle up to being implemented in libraries. But it a lot has changed about the way librarians think, learn and even work. So, the revolution is coming.

Oh, and how did I learn about this blog entry? It was on the Delicious.com homepage when I decided to browse my Delicious account that evening.

So, clearly, I’ve learned and adopted several of the 23 things. Some things I can’t quite get the hang of (RSS feeds) or don’t like (creating my own blogroll) but others I adopted like crazy (Goodreads) or plan to explore more (Podcasts).

New things keep coming out, and going away. I wasn’t too surprised to find that several of the 23 Things links had disappeared over the past couple of years–or that it was easy to find substitutes in a quick search.

I’ll definitely keep on learning as we go through Web 3.0 (or are we already there?), Web 4.0 and when we give up on such old-fashioned terms…

Thing 20: YouTube and other video sites

First, full disclosure. I’ve had a YouTube account for nearly two years.  I was introduced to the joys of YouTube through the anime/manga club I used to run–the teens regularly clamored to show fan-made anime music videos at our meetings, and I found several I loved and saved to my favorites.

I’ve seen some things improve over the past couple of years: instead of merely dumping all the videos you like into “favorites,” you can now create “playlists” (a term borrowed from iPod, I’m sure) to separate your favorite videos into categories.

I like the subscription service mainly because I’ve become a devoted fan of The Vlog Brothers, two 30-ish siblings (one of whom is noted YA author John Green) who agreed to send video weblogs (vlogs) back and forth to to each other for a year–and turned it into a forum aimed mainly at teens.  They’re creative, entertaining, and exhort their viewers to think and be creative in a fairly safe yet very teen-cool way.  

The search engine is simplicity itself, and does fairly well on relevance. The “Recommended for You” videos make some sense considering my favorites, and some have become favorites of mine. The only problem I really have with YouTube is that any comments I post to a video still seem to take forever to load, regardless of the time of day I do it, though.

Yahoo’s video site doesn’t seem to be as sophisticated. A few searches turned up a sizable collection of relevant videos, though.  The default is “SafeSearch” for both Yahoo and Google–probably a good marketing and customer-safety decision considering the level of offensiveness that is probably out there on Internet videos.

Thing 19: A Site from the Web 2.0 Awards List

Naturally, I can’t look at just one site. I played a little with Pandora, as I have friends who use it for listening to music. I’m pretty impressed with the obscure musicians they include!

I noticed Craigslist won first prize in the “classifieds” category. I’ve used it a little myself and have helped customers use it. It’s quite user-friendly.

I also checked out the winning genealogy site, My Heritage, but decided not to try it because it asked for my full name and email address and I strive to minimize the number of sites that get that information from me, for security reasons.

So, I settled on the top review site–Yelp!–for my own curiosity and because some customers want information that’s simply not on Washington Consumer Checkbook. Of course I’d give them the caveat that these are opinions, not carefully tested information.

The search engine is easy to use and is accurate–when I put in “Greenbelt” I didn’t get a bunch of places in Bowie or Silver Spring; I got local places. And I could even select from Greenbelt proper and three adjacent towns.  So much easier for targeting areas than Craigslist or Washington Consumer Checkbook!

The “Welcome” screen gives a generous taste of what’s on the site: links to the major categories, the “Best of Yelp” and so on.

The “Events” page is targeted to the metro area (Washington, DC after my Silver Spring search) and has a variety from bars to movies playing  in the area (DC, Arlington, etc.)

The “Talk” section is all over the place as far as content is concerned, with no coherence. It certainly isn’t something I’d use.