Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Gosh--I haven't blogged since Election Day.  It's been an exciting 6 weeks, both personally and professionally and for our country:  new job, new house, new friends, new President.   Is it January 2oth yet?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Our next President is...

The election is finally here! I hope everyone who can vote will vote.


Friday, October 17, 2008

The Only Joe Who Has a Place in Campaign '08

The only Joe I want to hear about is Senator Joe Biden. I don't want to hear what Joe Six-Pack or Joe the Plumber thinks about. Sarah Palin keeps on talking about "Joe Six-Pack" and John McCain about "Joe the Plumber". Who are these people? What do these labels mean?

To me, these labels just conjure up more labels, such as "redneck" or "white trash". And this is the way to label hard-working folk from middle America or from the rural South? Or, Alaska? Shame on Governor Palin and Senator McCain. From the way they use these "ficitional people" or "charicatures" to talk about Americans, they just serve to incite the people at their rallies to spew even more labels, calling Senator Obama a "terrorist", for example. Really? Is that what a highly intelligent family man and public official is called these days if he is black? Shame on all of you.

When I hear Senator McCain and Governor Palin refer to "Joe Six-Pack" and "Joe the Plumber" during their speeches, they are not referring to the decent, blue collar people from America's Heartland or the conservative "base" of the Republican Party but rather, I think, to all the "racist", "close-minded", "uneducated" people that still exist out there.

That's why the only Joe I want to hear about in this presidential race is Senator Joe Biden--a real American Joe.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Tina Fey for Vice President!

Tina Fey is brilliant! Her humorous interpretation of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin couldn't be more fitting. For "Saturday Night Live", the McCain-Palin ticket provides great comedic material. Not so for Obama and Biden. I mean there is just nothing absurd or ironic about them. We don't want a President and Vice President who is an easy target for the comedians. We'd be better off with an actual comedian who is smart and savvy like Tina Fey than to have someone like Sara Palin who is definitely not ready for prime time!


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Drill Baby, Drill?

On the same day that the Republican faithful were chanting "Drill baby, drill!" during their National Convention, Canadia scientists reported that an ice shelf "the size of Manhattan" has broken away and "adrift in the Arctic Ocean".

Still other conventioneers waved signs saying "Drill Now", while Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska was telling the crowd how great it would be to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to do more oil drilling in her state. Okay, so let's dig up a critical polar bear and caribou habitat -- one that's also important to the native peoples of that area -- so we can have more oil to feed our SUVs and Hummers and off-road vehicles. And then we can have ice shelfs and ice caps drift away and cool off the North Atlantic even more than it is. And then we can have even more devastating effects of global warming, not to mention an even bigger energy crisis.

Now which slogan would you prefer to rally behind: the Republican's "Drill Baby, Drill" or the Democrat's "Yes We Can!"? Which message is going to help our nation?


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Obama Nation--Yes We Are!

80,000 people at Mile High Stadium and 35 million television viewers witnessed history Thursday night as Senator Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech during the Democratic National Convention, a speech made all the more poignant being that it was the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King" iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. Reports the next day indicated that more people watched Obama's groundbreaking speech than did the opening ceremony of the Olympics or the season finale of American Idol. That's a phenomenal achievement in the face of the so-called apathy of our reality-tv-viewing nation. Senator Obama has become a symbol of our hopes and dreams for so many in our country who have been left behind by the self-serving Bush-Cheney franchise.

Seeing history in the making Thursday night could be the ultimate in reality tv. Seeing that men and women of all ethnic backgrounds, religions, and persuasions could come together to show their love of country and concern for our collective future is as inspiring as Obama's speech. Now we all just have to follow through on the promise of that day. Now we all have to make our voices heard by voting on November 4.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Biden and Bagels

On Saturday, we finally found out who Senator Barack Obama's running mate will be: Delaware Senator Joe Biden. I never knew too much about his personal life, but I did like what he had to say during the primary debates. With his solid record of supporting women's rights and the environment, and his long-term leadership with foreign policy, he should make a great vice president.

Senator Biden also seems like a genuinely nice guy who cares about his friends and family and the people he has served. An example of this could be seen last Friday when journalists were "staking out" his home (his only house) in Delaware, hoping that he'd drop a hint as to whether or not he has been chosen for the VP job. Instead of feeling harassed by these journalists (or shouting "No comment!" to the press like they do on "Law & Order", the senator was congenial to them and even brought them coffee and bagels! (It looked like he went to Einstein Bagels, but I couldn't make out the logo on the boxes). Like a good host, he served his guests (albeit uninvited) a treat. Coffee and bagels! Now that shows class!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008


While "Wanted" didn't really cover new ground, it was a decent film. Once you get past the violence and the cursing, it's a story about your "average joe" wanting more out of life than just his Dilbert-esque life as an accountant. Nagging boss, ugly cubicle, boring work were just too much for Wes, adeptly played by the talented (and gorgeous) James McAvoy. The office scenes were funny and reminiscent of the hilarious "Office Space".  There was even a reference to that comedy's classic red stapler.  


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mama Mia! a Movie with ABBA Music

I went to see "Mama Mia!" with my friend Susan for her birthday. It was a sweet movie, as far as these types of movies go. Like icing on a cake, it was an enjoyable musical treat. I liked hearing the ABBA songbook, seeing the gorgeous Greek isles, and experiencing the joie de vivre of the characters. All the actors played their roles admirably, although I could have done with out Pierce Brosnan's singing.

I got to thinking of "Muriel's Wedding", the 1995 Australian film starring Toni Collette. ABBA's music was central to that delightful film, too.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dark Knight Dilemma

I went to see the latest Batman film, "The Dark Knight", starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger. After the movie, my friends Jen, Cindi, Heather, and I discussed how we liked it. I don't know if I liked it or not, although I told them I thought it was a good film. Now in the light of day, I'm not sure. In one way, it was an exemplary film: cinematography, special effects, story, and acting were all impeccable.

Yet, in another way, I didn't like the movie; it was very draining emotionally and physically. Eerie, too, and not just because we were watching the last cinematic images of the late actor, Heath Ledger. Yes, there was definitely something eerie about the maniacal, hysterical Joker adeptly played by Mr. Ledger. But there is something else. Maybe it's like what my friend Cindi pointed out: there's no "hope" in the story. There's nothing hopeful about humanity left at the end, but only feeble sparks of hope throughout. Whereas in the first film, "Batman Begins" there was a hopefulness that cut through the darkness of Bruce Wayne's and Batman's world. Yet, this film left us with nothing. No wonder why Mr. Ledger was emotionally and physically exhausted after making this film.

With "Batman Begins", we got to experience the mystical quality of the Batman character, and travelled with Bruce Wayne on his spiritual quest, one that sought to bring light back to the dark streets of Gotham. The Bat Signal is that metaphor. We also got to see Christian Bale erase all the other celluloid images of Batman away. He became Bruce Wayne/Batman in that film. Yet, we didn't really get to find out more about Mr. Bale's Bruce Wayne as much in "Dark Knight" as we did in the first film, nor were there as many touches of humor in the sequel (I refer to the humor of humanity as evidenced between Alfred and Wayne/Batman, and not the inhuman sardonic wit of the Joker).

So why was I excited about wanting to see "Batman Begins" right after I stepped out of the movie theater (and later wanting to buy the special edition DVD for my collection), but with "Dark Knight", why do I wish to never see it ever again?



Saturday, July 5, 2008

We've Only Just Begun: Assessing My Library's "23 Things Web 2.0" Exploration Project

I can honestly say that I enjoyed my library's staff development project, "23 Things: to Explore New Technologies, Enhance Individual Skills & Encourage Creative Responses to Community Needs". For nine weeks we blogged, flickr-ed, wiki-ed and played around with Web 2.0 (and Library 2.0) tools and technologies. While I was familiar with most of these concepts, I appreciated having a chance to learn more about the world of Web 2.0 and to get more "hands-on" experience within a structured learning environment. If our administration offered another discovery program like this, I would definitely like the chance to participate.

I love to learn! If it was up to me (and I had unlimited funding), I'd be a perpetual university student. With all the formal schooling I've had (I have two bachelors' degrees and a master's), I should have had a PhD by now. Someday I will get that degree, but for now, I've been taking every advantage my employer has offered to enchance my professional skills: computer classes, supervisory and leadership classes, workshops, etc. Each year, our library even dedicates a whole day for training the entire staff. However, this year we tried something new: we were encouraged to participate in this self-study training program.

I think my favorite exercise was creating this blog. As a writer and journalist, I obviously like to write. And I also like graphic design, so the layout and design aspect of the blog was fun to do. As was our exploration of Flickr and photosharing. Although I had a Flickr account prior to doing this project, I didn't use it much. But now I think I will use it some more. I just returned from an Alaska cruise; therefore, I can upload my vacation photos to my account in order to share them with my friends and family without having to print out all 200+ photos. Maybe I'll even post some of my travel journal on my blog, along with my favorite photographs. I definitely want to continue blogging and keep this blog updated.

Finally, I would like to thank the Web 2.0 Exploration Project Team for all the hard work they put into making this a fun and educational project.


Listening on Overdrive

Okay. First things first. I have an iPod Nano. I mostly download music. But last year I downloaded an audio book: "The Golden Compass" by Philip Pullman. Confession: I've never listened to an audio book, not on cassette, CD, or digital medium.

Having thoroughly enjoyed reading Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, of which "The Golden Compass" was the first book, I thought I'd begin my foray into the audiobook world with a title in which I was familiar. Since my library didn't have the audio version of this book at that time (neither on tape, CD, nor through our digital audio collection service, Overdrive), I decided to buy the audio from iTunes. (By the way, we now have the book on audio CD).

When the librarians all attended a training workshop for Overdrive, I found out why "The Golden Compass" wasn't available through that service: there is hardly any children's or young adult titles in the collection. Oh. And you can't use iPods with Overdrive. (Apple Inc. hasn't contracted with them as of this writing). So, as a library patron, why would I want to use this service?

Apparently, a lot of our patrons are enjoying Overdrive. We get a lot of questions about it at the reference desk. Our patrons get to listen to best sellers and popular nonfiction titles for free. While I'm still not big on audiobooks (I've yet to finish listening to "The Golden Compass"), I can appreciate the fact that many "readers" enjoy listening to a good book (and not have to pay upwards of $25 for an audiobook like I did). So I'll give Overdrive another try for my personal edification -- and because it's one of the last assignments for our library's Web 2.0 exploration projects.

Explore. Explore. Explore. Browse. Browse. Browse. Oh what to "read"? Oh wait. Cool. I just found Stephenie Myer's first novel for adults, "The Host". Sounds good to me. Stephenie Meyer is the "hot" young adult author of the best-selling "Twilight" series.

Now I'll listen to an excerpt...

Okay. When I go home I'll download the Overdrive software (easy, because I have a Mac and high-speed internet access) and "check it out" for the 14-day loan period. I do have an MP3 player my friend gave me, so I can listen to it on that device. Thus, I'll give this audiobook stuff another try.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pod People: Communicating with Podcasts

As a fan of science fiction books, movies, and tv shows, you are exposed to new ideas and technologies and fantastical worlds. The creators of these works tend to be some of the first people to incorporate the latest ideas of our own world. So it was not surprising that Ronald D. Moore, the co-creator of the re-imagined "Battlestar Galactica" series on the Sci-Fi Channel, chose to use Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, widgets, and podcasts to enhance the viewing experience of the show's fan base.

Librarians also seem to be willing to experiment with new ideas and technologies. As we've seen with other Web 2.0 tools, podcasting also has useful applications to the library world. Podcasting, like blogging (and like the Internet in general), can have democratizing effects in the public sphere. Unlike traditional mass media -- in the case of podcasting, commercial radio broadcasting would be the comparison -- Web 2.0 tools can be utilized by almost anyone. For example, you don't need a broadcasting license to transmit a podcast. Then why not take advantage of this free medium?

One of the most innovative ways public libraries are using podcasts is for services to teens. Teens are already "plugged in" to their I-Pods and MP3 players, so for those libraries wishing to market their services and programs for young adults, podcasting would be a great communication tool. The Seattle Public Library offers a teens podcast produced and "recorded for teens by teens." Young adult patrons simply subscribe to the podcast via a link to iTunes or RSS on the teen center page of the library's web site to enjoy book reviews, radio theater, and learn about upcoming programs and events at the library.

I think it would be fun for my library to produce a podcast for our teens, too.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

YouTube Can Be a Star!

Who knew it was so easy to get your 15 minutes of fame? With YouTube and other video hosting sites, anyone can be a star. As part of our library's Web 2.o exploration project, we had to take a look around YouTube to see what it's all about and then blog about our experience.

Since I'm already familiar with YouTube, I'll talk about how it can be used as a marketing tool for our library. My Adult Programming Committee and the Community Relations staff came up with the idea of using YouTube to market our 2008 Adult and Children's Summer Reading Program: Whole Wide World @ My Library. We thought a YouTube video could be used as a way to advertise the program. Instead of paying costly television advertising fees, the free video hosting site was a unique way of getting our Public Service Announcement out in the community. A script was written by the Community Relations Manager and the video was directed by our graphic designer.

2008 Summer Reading Program Video


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pandora's Box

Pandora is a Web 2.o "radio". The site takes internet radio to the next level -- you can explore and share music for free. Like satellite radio, you can listen to customized "stations" based on your music preferences; unlike satellite radio, you don't need expensive players or service subscriptions.

The site has well-organized and thoughtfully put together in what the founder calls the "Music Genome Project". Besides offering music to listen to, you can find artists' biographies and photographs of the musicians and the album artwork (I mean CD covers). I explored the rock music offerings and found both newer musicians (my "American Idol" fave David Cook) and established artists (U2, The Beatles).

For my library's Web 2.0 exploration project, we had to study whether or not this 2.0 app would be useful in a library setting. Although I like the site and would use it at home for personal enjoyment, I don't see how Pandora could be used in a library. Other than as a research tool for finding information about the music and artists. But we have reference books that provide more in-depth information. However, I can see where this site could be used in an education setting: a teacher or professor could play songs for a music history class without having to switch CDs or make mix tapes.

Rock on!


A Rainbow or Two From Heaven:

Rembembering Tim Russert (1950 - 2008)

by Donna Marie Smith

A message from God, for a man of God

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

(photos from: NBC)

I was attending the Henry Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, the year Tim Russert took over as anchor of "Meet the Press". The year was 1991. I had hopes of being a music journalist, writing for "Rolling Stone", one of the most influential music, culture, and political magazines of the day. While my path took a different turn, Mr. Russert continued to follow his rainbow to become one of the most objective and honest journalists and political commentators in recent times. Even though I am not a journalist by profession -- I am a public librarian who happens to use her journalism skills at her job -- I can follow Mr. Russert's example. I can continue to be a caring person, a conscientious professional, and a patriotic citizen. Like the double rainbow that was spotted after his memorial service in Washington, D.C., Mr. Russert's spirit of kindness and integrity lives on in his family and in his professional legacy. If only we, too, can aspire to be a rainbow or two from heaven.


Zoho What Fun!

Web-based applications, like Zoho Writer and Google Docs, are being touted as the next big thing in social networking and office productivity. For our Web 2.0 exploration project at our library, we took a look at both of these tools. We even created a document on Zoho Writer

I thought Zoho Writer was easy to use, especially since I have been using Microsoft Word and Correll Word Perfect for about 20 years! However, I got stuck when I tried "publishing" my document to my blog. I kept on getting an error message saying "blog not available".

Eventhough I like to try to figure things out for myself, I finally gave up and consulted my friend. He discovered that Zoho gets hung up on any punctuation or symbols that are in blog titles. I had to take out the comma and ampersand in my title in order for the publish feature to work. Interesting...

These tools can be useful for collaborative projects: for authors co-writing a book, for editors of newspapers and magazines, for employees working on a project together. It's handy if you don't want to fool with sending email attachments or if you have to remember to carry your flash drive with you. As long as these applications remain as safe as possible from hackers (or corporate spies!), then these tools can be a convenient and easy way to share information.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Playing in the wiki sandbox

As part of our Web 2.0 exploration project, our library system set up a "sandbox" for us to play in our library wiki. It was fun! We got to add some entries to this "favorites"-themed wiki. I chose to "play" with the "Favorite Vacation Spot" page and the "Favortie TV Show" page.

My entry for "Favorite Vacation Spot": Alaska!!!

My entry for "Favortite TV Show": I couldn't narrow it down so I picked my current favorites: Battlestar Galactica (new series), Doctor Who (new series), House, Pushing Daisies, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

As I discussed in my previous blog entry, I am wary about using a wiki to disseminate information could be problematic, particularly if the author is unreliable or careless. However, wikis used in this informal manner can be a fun way to share ideas. For example, you can create a wiki for your family and share news and photos, or if you are in a club, you can share information about events and meetings. The possibilities are endless.


Monday, June 16, 2008

On Wikis and Library Services

The concept of wikis is interesting, especially to one who works in library and information services. Knoweledge dissemination is structured and formalized. Collection development librarians purchase materials based on a certain criteria: an author's knowledge, a reputable publisher. A cataloger organizes a book's information in a standardized manner. Journal articles are peer-reviewed. You get the idea. Those of us who love information love to organize it and take control over it! We're knowledge authoritarians!

Library Success: a Best Practices Wiki is an example of presenting knowledge in an informal way, and information listed on a wiki is not necessarily written by an expert. Wiki's are egalitarian. They're collaborative. Is this good?

I think wikis like the one above can be useful in that it is maintained for the most part by a group of professionals. I came across a section of "Library Success" that deals with my area of library services: adult programming. The section included "ideas for adult programming", a list of related blogs and web sites, and links to articles. I even found a reference to a library that had created a database of programs, something I am interested in since I'm collaborating with a colleague to create a programming database as tool for our branch librarians to use in program planning.

So are wikis useful in other instances? The granddaddy of all wikis is the ubiquitous Wikipedia. The jury is still out for me on whether or not this is a reliable source of information. I cringe when students cite "Wikipedia" as a source, especially when they are doing an essay on an easy-to-find subject that can be found in the easy-to-use World Book Encyclopedia.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Web 2.0: It's Many Things to Many People

I have been reading several articles on Web 2.0 and its applications to providing library services known as Library 2.0. One author spoke of some traditional library services as being "icebergs", or roadblocks to providing services to the modern, "plugged in" information seeker. I don't know. Maybe because I think traditional library services still have value in today's society.

In fact, I think that the librarian is still a library's most valuable resource. Despite the "social" nature of Web 2.0/Library 2.0, the face-to-face contact with a "live" person remains important to many people. I can appreciate the Library 2.0 model being important to university students and the younger generations, but there is still a large segment of society (the elderly, but even some people of all ages) which is not comfortable using a computer, never mind working in an on-line environment.

I also read some comments from notable librarians who have blogs dealing with the library profession. In a cover story called "Mattering in the Blogosphere: Observations from the Well-Connected" (American Libraries, March 2007), librarians discuss the "democratizing power of blogs to add fresh viewpoints to the professional dialogue." Perhaps if us librarians continue to explore the possibilities of Library 2.0 in the Web 2.0 environment, we can continue to incorporate such online modalities into library services without losing our "human touch".


Playing Ping Pong with the Technorati

Remember when we were kids and we had a Secret Diary? We carefully recorded our thoughts and dreams, and then hid the diary where our parents, sibling and friends couldn't find it. We might even have had a lock and key!

Now with the world of blogs -- these digital diaries of sorts -- you are sharing your thoughts with the World Wide Web. If you are a blogger, you obviously want others to read your thoughts and ideas. Maybe even market your blog. So one of the first things you can do to get your blog noticed by others is to tag it or have it with blog search tools such as Technorati. You can also make sure people find your most updated posts by pinging them to search engines.

For our library's web 2.0 exploration project, we took a look at Technorati and learned how to tag our blog posts with the site's tags. For this excersie, we searched the tag field to see what blogs we could find about the concept of web 2.0. I found this type of search to be a bit cumbersome. First, I got 35, 289 hits. Second, I noticed in the "related tags" list that there are other tags that were variant spellings of "web 2.o" ("web 2-0" and "web2.o"). Third, not all the "hits" dealt with web 2.0. The first blog I looked at was just an advertisement and not someone's ideas or thoughts about web 2.0.

Overall, as a librarian, I didn't find the use of tags in techorati or del.icio.us or other sites to be useful in finding relevant information. I can't imagine how to find information without using formal knowledge classification systems (Dewey Decimal System, Library of Congress). Even with minor flaws, these systems are more useful to me in that they are based up a standard -- an agreed upon designation -- for any given subject or body of knowledge. It would be like driving without a road map. You might get to your destination, but you might wind up going in circles before you arrive.

However, as an informal method of sharing information, tags and such can be a fun way to drive around the blogosphere, seeing sites and things along the way that you might not have discovered if you had that road map.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Del.icio.us sites to behold

We're continuing to explore the world of Web 2.0 as part of my library's continuing education project. I just created my ourn Del.icio.us account to see what social bookmarking is all about. I downloaded the del.icio.us and tagging tools to my Internet Explorer toolbar. I then tagged several coffee-related web sites in keeping with one of my blog themes.

After exploring the site and seeting up an account, I can think of several ways in which this tool would be useful for librarians. First, del.icio.us can be used for computer and internet instruction classes. The instructor can set up an account and then be able to access the bookmarked sites he might want to use for the class. That way, he won't have to bookmark the sites for each computer/laptop he uses for any demonstrations. He can "transport" his "favorites" from Internet Explorer via a del.icio.us account.

Second, del.icio.us can be used as a reference tool. For example, instead of having to bookmark frequently used websites at each reference station, a del.icio.us account can be set up for all the librarians to share. Likewise, the specialist librarian can set up an account of his own to use at the reference desk or at a training class. Then again, if a library has a web page like ours does -- a "useful weblinks" section organized by subjects -- then that would be a more useful tool for librarians to use.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Future is Ours!

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Please visit http://www.imagechef.com.

Alas, Babylon!

I haven't thought much about my hometown lately. I grew up in North Babylon, New York, a nice community on Long Island.

While searching through WebFeat, a meta-search tool, I came across an article about my hometown: "Babylon's 120th year: fiscal stability, economic progress." (Long Island Business News (Sept. 14, 1992 n37): 19(1). General OneFile). Wow! It's been 20 years since I lived there, and I remember when the town celebrated it's centennial anniversary. I even have a commemorative mug that my mom saved from that time. Without the internet or newspaper databases or tools like WebFeat, we would not be able to easily access newspapers or magazines from other places.


Monday, June 2, 2008

It's a Library Thing

"Library Thing" is a web site that creates a catalog of your books. Sounds like a perfect place for a librarian to visit. This site is similar to "Good Reads", a web site for book lovers that my friends Terry, Amanda, and Aramis told me about last year. Both web sites allow you to keep track of the books you have read, share information about the book with other readers, and explore new books.

I created a Harry Potter "Library Thing" Catalog:

"Only images remind"

Take one: Exploring image generators.

As someone who likes to work with design and color, I find image generators to be an interesting tool for the Web 2.0 generation. Designing layouts for web sites and blog sites are easy to do with these applications. Just cut and paste the code onto your page. How simple compared to the HTML coding I had to learn when I was the webmaster for the library I worked at while getting my master's degree. Kind of like using word processing software versus manual typewriters. Or doing database searching versus using print magazine indexes. Or taking pictures with a digital camera versus a SLR camera. You get the idea.

Take two: Create your own image.

Take three: Have fun!

Make your own movie clapperboard by visiting: http://online-generator.blogspot.com/2006/06/movie-clapper-board-generator.html


At the Jersey Shore!

The Atlantic City Boardwalk. Lucy the Elephant. Sun and sand. Shopping. Fun!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

On RSS, Newsfeeds, Widgets and Other Tech Toys

Continuing with our library system's staff exploration project, we took a look at RSS and how to organize newsfeeds and podcasts in a news aggretator.  We used Bloglines to subscribe to newsfeeds and podcasts.  I subscribed to the following newsfeeds: BBC News, NASA, Entertainment Weekly, and I also subscribed to Mugglecast, a podcast devoted to all things Harry Potter.

Last week, before I even knew about this assignment, I had placed a widget on my blog:  a RSS reader that contained updated news about Senator Barack Obama's primary campaign.  A widget, or desktop widget, is an "applet that gives you access to infomation and frequently used functions such as clocks, calendars, and news aggregators.  (www.wikipedia.com).  I also added a widget with videos of "Battlestar Galactica".  

I have been using other widgets (virtual sticky pads, calendar of moon phases, etc.) as part of my customized Google page at work.  I have also been listening to podcasts on scifi.com to keep up with my favorite shows like the aforementioned "Battlestar Galactica".  My Macintosh computer at home automatically displays the RSS symbol in the address bar if one is present on a particular website.  (Internet Explorer will be adding this capability in its next upgrade). So I have been familiar with these technology tools (tech toys) before we began our "23 Things" Web 2.0 assignment.

As I mentioned in a previous post about using blogs in libraries, I think RSS can also be used to enhance a library's electronic newsletter.  An RSS could be used to inform patrons about library happenings and events.  For example, instead of using our scrolling news link on our web site, a link which points out such information as holiday closings and new branch openings, we can use RSS to provide that type of information directly to a patron.  

Given that I came across quite a few library-related newsfeeds while browsing through Bloglines' RSS list, this technology is obviously being used by librarians to keep up with and share information about the library and information science field.  I subscribed to one of the American Library Association's RSS feeds on Public Programming.  I've already been a subscriber to that section's ListServ, so by subscribing to the RSS, I will be able to get the same information in a more convenient way.  The endless postings on ListServs tend to tie up your email account and is cumbersome to go through, whereas a RSS provides the same information in a more streamlined fashion.

These tech toys can be both useful and fun.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our 2008 American Idol!

David Cook Rocks!
image by dustindonlove

There is Justice in this world. Yes, I know this is a singing contest, but the idea that someone you care about wins something -- in this case his dream to be a rock singer (not to mention a recording contract, a car, publicity, etc.) -- it just gives me a sense of hope.

Although I've been watching "American Idol" for the past few years, other than Chris Daughtry, David Cook was the first contestant that I cared about winning the competition. ("caring" equals "would buy his record", "go to his concert").

See, I have this sense of Justice. I hate when the "underdog" doesn't get treated fairly. Even though the Idol judges praised David C. all along, during the last night of the competition, they blew him off by declaring David Archuleta the champion.
Yet, unlike during past seasons where the viewers voted for the "wrong" person (Taylor Hicks) and the judges picked the "right" one (Chris Daughtry), this year the viewers got it right. David Cook is clearly the better singer. While he may not be as technically precise a singer as David A., he is certainly a more intuitive and emotive singer. Overall, he is the better performer.
So, there is Justice in this world. Now if only Senator Barack Obama wins back the White House in November for the American People, then I'll really have something to write about regarding Justice...

Rock on!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Idol thoughts

"American Idol" is the one reality show I allow myself to watch. In my previous life, I was a music journalist, and it was mandatory to be up on the latest pop fare, as well as the more "serious" rock and alternative music that I covered while living in Athens, Ga., during the heyday of R.E.M. and the B-52's.

I admit that I'm an "Idol" fan. It's musical "brain candy". After watching fabulous but emotionally draining dramas such as "Battlestar Galactica" and "House", not to mention the equally emotionally draining cable news shows detailing the latest casulty in Iraq or the never-ending Democratic Primary, a little brain candy is in order.

Since today is my birthday, as well as the final show of the 2008 "American Idol" season, I get to make a wish:  that David Cook wins the "Idol" competition, and most especially, that he and his family have much health and happiness.

Now, of course I don't know David Cook, but he seems to be a genuinely nice person, who happens to be hip, talented, and smart.  (Can I add that he's cute, and that I wish I had a boyfriend like him?  Or, should I say,  him as a boyfriend?).  Okay.  Okay.  It is my birthday, after all...

After seven seasons, "American Idol" has now become a part of our zeitgeist.   Despite criticism saying that the show has run its course, with all those millions of people watching this tv show, there must be something about it that captures our collective imagination.  Something beyond reality-show voyeurism.  Perhaps it is the good old-fashioned idea of the American Dream, the idea that anything is possible as long as you work hard and follow the Golden Rule.  


Friday, May 16, 2008

It's a High Tech Life

My 21st-century technology:

I adore my I-Pod Nano. I can download songs for a minimal charge. Any song I want (provided it's in the I-Tunes catalog). Current hits and old favorites. I hardly buy CDs anymore, mostly because I have no more storage space, but also because I like the idea of not having to spend $15.00 for a whole CD. Especially if there are only one or two songs from that I like from the CD. I now can spend 99 cents for each of the songs I like.

I like my digital camera. It's light-weight and easy to use. Just download the photos to my computer and print out on photo paper.

I think my Mac is brilliant. It's so intuitive and easy to use. The sleek white acrylic flat screen, wireless keyboard, and egg-shaped wireless mouse exemplifies high-tech design, of a quality suitable for a MOMA exhibit.

My 20th-century technology:

I still have all my records: 33 1/3 LPs and 45s. The album cover art is something that has gone by the wayside with the advent of audio cassettes and CDs. Now, digital music is all about the music. A completely different way of experiencing music. The nostalgia of albums, record stores, and the rock and roll experience is something only Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers can savor as the world goes digital.

I have my dad's camera collection. Old SLR cameras. They're gorgeous examples of mid-century design and how we experienced light and image. I took a photojournalism course in college and remember the detailed process of adjusting F-stops, flashes, and all those rolls of film.

I don't have my electric typewriter or my word processing machine or even my first Apple computer anymore. I first learned to type on a manual typewriter. I even won an award for being the fastest typist in my high school class; although that was not as cool or prestigious as getting a varsity letter jacket for basketball or making the National Honor Society. I don't miss using a typewriter. I sometimes wonder how I made it through two bachelor degrees using such primitive technology. By the time I got my master's in the late 1990s, we had these lovely personal computers, electronic databases, the World Wide Web, and other technologies that 21-century students couldn't imagine being without.

It's a high-tech life now, and the only thing is to enjoy the ride. Or get left behind.


Flickr Fun

Potterpalooza 2007
Potterpalooza 2007,
originally uploaded by nesta2007.
Library staff dressed up as Hogwarts professors and students for the Wellington Branch Library Potterpalooza 2007. This program celebrated the release of the final book of the Harry Potter series. The library staff had as much fun as the teens who came for this magical event.

I uploaded this photo to my Flickr account as part of our library's Web 2.0 exploration project.


Palm Beach County Reads "Memory Keeper's Daughter"

For the past 6 weeks, all of Palm Beach County read Kim Edward's best-selling novel, 'The Memory Keeper's Daughter", for the 2008 Read Together, One Book One Community campaign. Our library sponsored book discussions and programs on Down Syndrome.  These programs were well-attended, and the book was checked out by eager participants of this event.

Last night was the campaign finale at the Harriet Himmel Theatre, City Place, West Palm Beach. The evening featured a performance by Palm Beach Dramaworks, which provided a moving re-enactment of the story.  This dramatic performance captured the book's essence much better than Lifetime Channel's made-for-tv fare which starred Dermot Mulroney and Emily Watson.

Following the performance, author Kim Edwards spoke about the book and how she researched her background material.  She also spoke about the process of writing.  Ms. Edwards gave the audience a sense of what she, as a writer, tries to accomplish when telling a story.  As Nadine Gordimer said, " A writer is committed to trying to make sense of life.  It's a search." (www.theatlantic.com/unbound/interviews/ba2000-02-09.htm).

In all, it was an enjoyable evening celebrating literacy and reading.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On Blogs and Public Libraries

Library blogs potentially have many applications, but primarily they can be used to inform your patrons about your services. A blog can be an extension of a library's web presence, that is, its web site.

As the adult programming coordinator for my library system, I can use a programming blog as a marketing tool. I can let patrons know about upcoming events, perhaps providing some more details than I can offer through our web site or print articles and announcements.

After the event, patrons can post comments about their experience. While we get feedback about the program by handing out evaluation forms, patrons might also want to share what they learned at a workshop, for example, by posting comments on the programming blog.

A programming blog might also be used for our book discussion series or our adult summer reading program. The interactive nature of a blog makes it conducive to talking about ideas, about literature, about life.

Ultimately, blogs are just one of the many tools librarians can use to communicate with their community.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

On Clutter, Politics, and American Idol

Last night, our library hosted a seminar on how to conquer clutter. We had a good turn-out; 57 clutterers came to find out how to get rid of the clutter in their lives. What we learned was not how to organize our clutter, but why we clutter in the first place. Emotions, sentimentality, fear are among some of the reasons why we clutter. We also learned that there are three clutter types: The Collector, the Accumulator, and the Concealer.

I was thinking about my own clutter. My clutter type is Collector. I have book collections, record collections, vintage purse collections, china collections, sci-fi collections. However, I'm organized and good at displaying these collections. So no worries there.

I'm not thinking about this clutter, though, I'm thinking about the "clutter" in my mind. We don't often think about what clutters up our mind: what to wear to work tomorrow, will the price of gas go up today, will my cat let me sleep this morning, will the Democrats finally choose a nominee for the presidential election, who will win "American Idol", will another one of our soldiers die in Iraq, who will be revealed as the 12th Cylon on "Battlestar Galactica", will I get all my work done today, and which coffee blend will I brew today?

Did you ever stop and count how many questions we ask ourselves each day? Probably not. And it doesn't matter how many. Just that we have to make decisions, think about serious problems, or uncover fun secrets. What matters, though, is that we discover who we are. We ask these questions, big and small, of ourselves each day to learn what we want out of life, what we expect of ourselves.

Sometimes we can't answer a lot of the questions we ask ourselves, some we can or have to decipher: I'm going to wear jeans and a cute top with the "perfect" accessories tomorrow. I filled up my gas tank the other day, so I don't have to worry what the price of gas is tomorrow. I can only hope my cat will let me sleep past 6:00 a.m. this morning. There is a chance the Democratic candidate issue will be resolved by the next primary on May 20th. We won't know until two more weeks who will be the next "American Idol" will, but I hope it is rocker cutie David Cook. Unfortunately, another soldier will most likely die in Iraq today. I'll just have to keep watching "Battlestar Galactica" until the story unfolds and "reveals all" as the show's writers promise. I won't get all my work done today, but I'll do my best while I am working. And Peet's Decaf Coffee is on the menu today.

That's a lot of stuff cluttering my mind in one day. A lot for anyone to think about. So, like our material possessions, we have to de-clutter or thoughts.

We learned about the "7 1/2 Habits of Highly Successful Life-Long Learners" during our library system's Web 2.0 Exploration project, part of which is this blog, and one of those habits is: "Accept responsibility for your own learning." I have been trying to learn ways to de-clutter my mind, such as by practicing yoga and by following the wisdom of my friends and family. I have been making progress, little by little, but it's all a part of my personal journey.