Furling Comments!

I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep track of posts where I comment, but that don’t quite fit in here (not that I have figured out what fits in here yet.) A few minutes ago, I realized this is a great use for my Furl archive! I have a new category called “Commenting.” Of course, now I find myself wondering how I can integrate my Furl archive with this blog, without trying the sidebar thing, which messed up my blog last time I tried to use it.
You can probably tell it’s spring break.

Edited to add: I have not started rating anything, so everything is currently rated at 3.

Working on It

I’m still working on customizing the site.  WP gets more and more frustrating to customize with each “improvement.”  That’s why things are weird around here right now.

Better Searching, sans Google

Tips for improving search techniques from Steven Cohen at Library Stuff:

  1. Make online searching MANDATORY in library school. Make it a core course. I agree 100% with this. I took Internet Reference (which is required in the school library program) and had some exposure to online searching in regular reference. Yes, I think both should be required.
  2. Keep up with search engine news and how to use these tools to their maximum capabilities. Yes, this should be considered part of every librarian/researcher’s professional duty.
  3. Library school professors: Put a glass jar on your desk. Every time you say, “Google it”, put a dime in the jar (the same should go for your students) and take out an ad in Yahoo or Ask with the money collected over the course of the semester. Better yet, donate it to LII (although I don’t think that they can take private donations – Karen?). I detest both meanings of the phrase “Google it” on principle. As a response to a question, it’s rude. A better response would be “Where do you think you could find the answer to that question?” (In the context of library school.) As a throwaway comment about finding out more about a subject, it’s lazy. Which is part of Cohen’s original point, if I am reading correctly.(However, when I compare Ask or Yahoo’s search capabilities with Google’s, they come up wanting every time. (I went back and read all of my evaluations from my Internet Reference course just to be sure.) In Internet Reference class, we were essentially forbidden to use Google, which I fully support. However, it was often frustrating to pick at the other search engines, especially Ask, for a long time, when the site I was searching for would come up first in Google with the exact same search terms. I also found that the other engines were more likely to return other search engine result pages and keyword spam pages, something that seems to be a waste of time. That kind of thing is the reason I stopped even trying to use Ask Jeeves. It’s one thing to forego Google when there are better tools for the question, but quite another to forego Google just to forego Google. )
  4. Reference desk managers: Do the jar thing too, but buy your staff a book on how to search with the money collected. Either that or hire Gary Price to come to your library and teach search. Or, donate it to LII (Again, Karen?). A book would become useless very quickly (perhaps he was being ironic here), but a seminar would be a great idea.
  5. Do not make Google the default page at your reference workstations. If you are going to do this, at least use the advanced page. Shouldn’t the library’s databases be the default page?
  6. Needs assessment time. What’s more important: Working on that library MySpace account, posting pictures of your book collection on Flickr, or brushing up on your searching skills? Prioritize. This point seemed unneccessary. I would venture a guess that the people who are savvy enough to use flickr and myspace are already fairly accomplished Internet searches. However, this is just a guess and I could be wrong.
  7. Understand the invisible web and how it exists. Know about subject-specific engines and directories. Know the best person, home, and e-mail look-up tools. Agree. In fact, take the time to write up evaluations of different search tools (perhaps for a library wiki on effective searching- which could then be the default home page mentioned in point 5– or just for your own reference.)
  8. Use your reference book collection. Not all answers are found in the glorified results of a word or phrase search on ANY engine. But doesn’t the internets have everything?
  9. Don’t enable. Not only should we teach better searching skills to our colleagues and users, we should practice what we preach. Don’t have a Google search box on your library web page or blog. Don’t have canned Google searches on your web page or blog that lead to atrocious results. Interesting. I don’t usually follow links to other people’s search engine results anyway. I do my own search if I’m that interested.
  10. Don’t forget the importance of using the fee-based databases that your library (check that, your patrons) pays for. Remember that “free is as free does.” Perhaps the most important point of all. (And don’t forget, you pay for those databases, too.)

At first, I thought was going to disagree with many of these, but on a more careful reading, I realized I agreed with everything except for minor points on 4 and 6.I wanted to read the comments to see if my points have been duplicated (as I’m sure they have), but was unable to access them. Speaking of comments, I have enabled unregistered commenting (I hope) and hope not to be spammed out of my mind as a result.

Will the new generation save ALA?

…the thoughts are broken…: Will the new generation save ALA?

“The younguns can keep talking as if it is a generational thing and they will lose key allies, while the old guard can keep saying it’s a generational thing and just lose us all.”

Very good points made here. I’m older than this “younger generation,” as are many of the students in my program. I’m the oldest of the ones I associate with, though. My friends don’t get all caught up in the young librarian thing, though… they just do what they need to do. Our student organization has been very active in arranging seminars, panels, and presentations on what it takes to get a job… and if something doesn’t work for them, they move on. That might be the healthiest way to deal with things. If the ALA is not working for some people, maybe it’s time to move on. If enough people move on, maybe it will be a wakeup call. I don’t want the ALA to become irrelevant, but if it doesn’t play a role in the life of new librarians, it will.
The web is great for organizing, but it’s also too good for dwelling. How much of what is going on in the biblioblogosphere is healthy and useful and how much of it is an echo chamber that just makes people more and more upset?

Auction

Our graduate student group is holding an auction fundraiser to raise money to send students to various library conferences. There are some very cool items up for bidding. Some of the items can be mailed to you, while others are specific to central Missouri.

Check it out!

LISRadio

This week’s First Tuesday on LISRadio is really interesting. Dr. Seavey interviews Allan Kleiman, who travels around the country visiting libraries to talk about library service to older adults. You can find it here. I was on phones tonight, so I jotted down some notes while I was listening.

A question I wrote down was: “What are people doing now, pre-retirement, that libraries could do for them?” What needs will retired people have that libraries can fill? One obvious thing was family history/ memoir seminars. A lot of libraries are into geneaology, but this would be a more personal type of workshop. I recently lost my aunt, who was kind of the family historian. Imagine how such a workshop would have met her needs. Heck, she probably could have taught the thing!
Mr. Kleiman also talked about the needs of homeless and the poor, too. It was a really interesting show.

Meta

Again with the metablogging.  Word Press just refused to recognize my password.  I upgraded, and voila, there it was again.

Sometimes, notepad and FTP just seem like such attractive options for updating.