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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Image Generation Possibilities



The same photo as a sketch, charcoal sketch with slight color, and charcoal sketch with more color as generated by the Sporkforge.com image generation utilities.

Image Processing Software











I found some image processing software that allows you to generate an image from your photo to either look like a sketch, a charcoal sketch and several other possibilities, including embossing. This photo of my grandson DJ taken with his dad's cell phone to show me his missing teeth is one I tried with the Charcoal sketch software. It gives kind of cool results. You can add color to it if you like. There are several settings you can adjust to give different results. The company is Sporkforge.com, their image generating utilities.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Thing Added

I don't know why I didn't do it sooner, but finally today I added a counter to my blog. After the 23 Things on a Stick program ended of course. I wish I'd done it sooner, but it just didn't occur to me. I was more interested in getting on with the things than designing my blog. It has just sort of evolved as each thing progressed. But it's there now, not that I'm that interested in counting...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Library Art


I bumped into a mosaic program that looked intriguing in the course of the 23 Things on a Stick program and had to try it out. The program is small and fairly simple but I thought the results were like impressionist art. I've seen some quilts and quilting books that use somewhat the same technique.

The mosaics are made of thumbnails I added to my Librarything account. I only added seventeen titles, but used them to create a collection. I then used that collection to make mosaics of some of the covers. A few of the results are in the flip book above.

The program is called Andreamosaic. It's just a small download. Don't forget to grab the manual too if you want to try it out. I didn't download the picture collection, but might go back and get it after finding the results so pleasing. I'd think the more images the better the result.

I have no earthly idea what you'd actually do with the results, but they are a thing of beauty! You really need to view them full screen on your computer to get the best experience of your art.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thing 23 - Celebrate!

Glitter Photos
[Glitterfy.com - *Glitter Photos*]

Thing 22- What did I learn today?

At the moment the last two plus months seem like a blur. I've basically completed the 23 things program and explored so many tools as well as helped others with them. Not to mention reading everyone's blogs. Aside from feeling rushed, it was a very good experience.

The structured program gave me a bit of direction in my explorations of new things and a reason to try them out. I found many tools that were useful and fun and surprisingly easy to use, not to mention free just for signing up. Most of them add some convenience to my use of existing tools. I added to my knowledge of available resources and found some ways to keep up and explore for more that were great. (Think Del.icio.us for one.) Particularly useful and appreciated tools were RSS feeds and Zotero. And the blog reading was time consuming but worthwhile. If everyone keeps up with their blogs and shares what they find and what they need, it will be a wonderful resource for regional planning to give them what they want.

I most enjoyed the photo sharing and graphics tools and know I just scratched the surface of what is available. I sure wish I'd had some of those tools, so easy to use and readily available free, when I was working as a public library director. The possibilities for library promotional use are just endless.

I resolve to continue my explorations, share what I find via my blog, and think of ways I can use them professionally.

What did I learn?

  • It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do these things.
  • It doesn't take as long as you might think.
  • If you don't like it, try something else.
  • We're all learning and we can help each other. All you need to do is ask.
  • Learning can be as fun as you make it.
  • Exploring new tools is a necessary part of this job; don't feel guilty for taking the time to do it!
  • From the great response to the program, the multitypes have found a niche for which there is a demand and should consider doing more of this type of learning program.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thing 20 - Facebook and MySpace

The CommonCraft video "Social Networking in Plain English" very clearly demonstrated how networks get things done and show how people are linked. Finding friends, finding partners, making connections is a function of social networks like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. These connections, which are hidden in the real world, are clearly visible in social networks online.

The Facebook tutorial marked was short and clear. I saw that there were many others so I watched them as well. All short, clear and precise to learn how to use Facebook.

I registered for Facebook, looked for friends to add, and invited them to "friend" me. (I chose several of the 23 things participants from my region.) I completed a profile (rounding up a picture wasn't easy), joined a 23 things group (mostly southern MN people), and was able to write on a wall there. I will check occasionally in the next week to see what transpires. I found many library patrons from the public library in my hometown, but most of them were children when I knew them. They are now young adults and scattered widely about the world.

I also explored MySpace, but didn't join. I mean, how many of these things can you handle without sucking up all your time? But I might go back later just to see how many connections it would find if I did.

Personally, I like the businesslike, no frills, approach of LinkedIn for professional contacts. People can find you (and I have - when seeking hard to find material so I can ask the author - with very favorable results) and if you want to, you can keep in contact via e-mail, or IM, or other means without all the extra kind of social page upkeep. Call it networking without the social component. The author of the article "Twelve ways to use Facebook Professionally" said that she by adding these people (from LinkedIn) to Facebook feels more connected to them without having to actively maintain a conversation via email and can look for business opportunities out of shared interests. I suppose there is something to that but it's mostly in your perception.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thing 21- Other Social Networks


View my page on 23 Things on a Stick

I joined the 23 Things on a stick Ning. Wouldn't you know I just got the text for my badge and didn't really get to much else and the site was down for maintenance. I waited a while and tried again, but finally gave up. I'll just have to go back later. Other networks I joined or have belonged to for a while are Webjunction andFlixter (joined recently after reading about it in D-Block's blog.)

I will have to go back to the Ning and participate. I did upload my avatar as I didn't have a photo available and I got the badge text (which I edited so it wasn't such a huge black bar) and put it in this post.

I looked at Gather, Webjunction(just because I hadn't been there recently), Bakespace and a number of the other sites.

I read with interest the article at Webjunction on building a social networking environment at the library. I agree with his summary: "The library is already a community space. Let's make the social web a new meeting room. We already interact in person. Let's begin interacting online."

Getting there starts with learning about these things.

Thing 19 - Podcasts

I had listened to podcasts before. I used to get notified by e-mail of one produced at St. Cloud State University. (Aside, I wonder what happened to that? I don't get notices anymore.)

I listened to the Minitex podcast of an interview with Tom Shaughnessy. His thoughts on the Google digitization projects were very interesting and, of course, made perfect common sense. Why should each library warehouse and convert the same materials when it can be done once? Certainly copies of the books should be in number of places for safety's sake, but do we really all need to keep them?

I also liked his idea about libraries as it meshes with mine. Libraries should be education agencies for lifelong learning. You can build your own curriculum, take as long as you like to learn, and there is no cost to you. The sky is the limit for what you can learn. Tom asks "Have we lost that?" We need to get back to that if we have. This 23 things project is proof that there is a need for self-directed learning by the huge response we got to it.

Tom may need to check out the definition of "retirement"; I think he believes it's a synonym for "job change".

I looked at the directories of podcasts. Podcast.net did a lot of spinning before it loaded but I like the various ways it could be searched and it was neat and easy to navigate. They were all pretty easy to navigate actually. Yahoo assumed that you were there to look while the others had lists to navigate. Some required that you download something while other did not(probably because I already had at some point in time). I added a technology one to my RSS feed just to try it out after I listened to one. It wasn't great, but I can always dump it and look for another. If I find a good one, I will share it.

I looked at Gcast. It's done by the Garageband.com people. I listened to a podcast by Bill Frist about the Child Survival Act. It's easy to add these however you want to get them. If it's as easy to make ( and they claim even your Grandma could do it) it might be interesting to do. It would require more planning than I have time to give it right now, but I plan to go back to try it later when I am not alone in the office responsible for getting the phone.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Thing 18 - YouTube

I chose this video on the subject of copyright to share. At a copyright workshop several years ago, Ruth Dukelow from the Michigan Library Consortium gave us the background on the changes in the copyright act which prolonged the length of time things can be copyrighted for. A chief culprit was the Disney Company whose big moneymaker Mickey Mouse was nearing the end of copyright. They didn't want their cash cow to go into the public domain and so we all pay the consequences.

This clever but rather long video uses clips within copyright to make a point. Watching it is kind of choppy, but someone put a lot of time into making it.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thing 17 - ELM Productivity Tools

If interlibrary loan staff thought that ELM was going to endanger their jobs, this picture of Roxanne of the Arrowhead Library System staff behind a new bigger cart of materials (right) because the old smaller cart (left) wouldn't hold everything, shows they were mistaken. And this is only the stuff delivered by the courier from Minitex. The ALS van stuff comes in later in the day.

The ELM databases have periodical articles, citation information, newspapers, and more. One I use on a daily basis is the OCLC Firstsearch database for verification of citation information sent by member school, special and academic libraries.

I know that many of the schools don't take the time to search these databases as I often find materials that they are asking for in them. We've had workshops in the past as well as webinars offered through Minitex, pushed the availability in our newsletter, and yet I think that many teachers and librarians don't think to use them. The ones who do love them and do call for help if they are having difficulty with them. I've even had teachers not allow students to use the materials in the databases because they consider them resources found on the Internet and inferior to print materials. Go figure!

NetLibrary is sometimes the only way some titles are available for some of the more specialized requests in health sciences. It is inconvenient that you must visit a public library to sign up for an account in order to use the resource even if you have a library card. And the page to sign up for an account is mobile...it doesn't seem to stay in the same place and depending on how you access the Netlibrary page, it might not be there at all. Definitely a hindrance for the average user. Make it difficult enough and they won't be back. Even the librarians have trouble finding it sometimes.

That said, there are many features and ways to search these resources. You just have to be smart about what it is you are looking for in order to know what databases to search. Each database offers different resources which some users don't seem to fathom. You do have to have some technological savvy to be able to use the RSS feed feature that is part of this thing. It all depends on how you are accessing the databases and what kind of set up your ISP uses. This can be enough to defeat anyone without a lot of time to figure it out. I used a different topic to follow for a request I was working on and having difficulty finding much about. It will help me monitor when something else becomes available.

Thing 16 - Student 2.0 Tools (RPC & AC)

Both the Research Project Calculator and the Assignment Calculator are designed to help students manage the time they have to effectively use it and finish their assignments on schedule.

There are lots of print outs to help them and their teachers get this accomplished. Two of the handouts are particularly useful for students even if they don't use the calculator as designed. These would help them focus on what they are to do and how to go about it. They are: The research process: questions and answers and What's my angle? Generating topics and research questions. These should get them organized and help move them along. The printable material under brainstorming would also help them find a topic that interests them which always makes the project more fun.

The Assignment Calculator does much the same thing, but assumes some familiarity with the process. There are lots of links to online helpful sites to get them going based on the subject area assigned.

The trick with both of these would be to introduce them to the students and get them to use them. Great tools that need to be introduced to students and probably show them how to be used to be effective.

They would be great assets to a self-directed learning project too.

Thing 15 - Gaming


I read most of the linked material on this thing. I was already familiar with the Pew study. I watch for those as they are released as they contain a lot of information that is useful for library planning. While I had intended to explore Second Life, having recently read about a place there devoted to autistic users that sounded interesting, I decided instead to explore Puzzle Pirates. I created my character and quickly completed bilging and not as quickly, learning to carpent. I was all thumbs when carpenting. I kept mixing up my mouse buttons. I went from learning to neophyte status in both. I loved the graphics and there were over four thousand people playing when I was there. It's mind-boggling, more than the population of my hometown. I was a little apprehensive about playing after reading 23 Cats blog where she had to walk the plank, but I ran into some very helpful people who helped me know what to do, not that I talked to any of them as I was pressed for time. Bilging reminded me somewhat of Tetris, and carpenting was a familiar variation as well. I think that it would be a fun pursuit on a snowbound day.

Thing 14 - LibraryThing

Well, this one was really cool. After doing the retroconversion of over 100,000 library items with cataloging tools provided in various library software and OCLC, some of them not really easy to use, adding books with LibraryThing was as simple as falling off a log--maybe easier. I added fifteen items just to see how easy it really was. Nice that you can add tags to enable finding them that way too.

There is really a lot of stuff at LibraryThing, book discussions, groups, and more. Since some of the books I added were J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, there were lots of others who had them. I used the widget to put a selection on my blog, but it would be a great tool for libraries to use to put a special collection on their web page. It will be interesting to see how this site develops if they really are interested in cooperation with libraries.

I can see using it to make available the small collection of materials that NCLC has available for use by member libraries and putting it on our web page so members would know about them.

Thing 13 - Online Productivity Tools

As it happens, having recently gotten a new laptop for work, I had just set up my homepage to have handy those things I use frequently or like to have at my fingertips. I used Google and my home page has these things on it (with more to come as I have room to spare): notes (like stickies), cat of the day, T olkien quote, Ebay search box, Betty Crocker recipe of the day, Wii news, Gmail, Dell support, online English grammar, news, gmail tools, word of the day, google calendar, google map search, babblefish translator, lyrics search, youtube videos, tetris, google search, weather, wikipedia search, dictionary/thesaurus, and still have lots of room for more. The widget supply seems unending.

I investigated Pageflakes and my Yahoo in addition to Google and they look just as easy and similar. I chose Google because Dell had made it easy for me to customize and their link were already in place, besides having accounts with them already meant no new passwords to create and remember.

The lists of other tools available had lots that I had already looked at or bumped into, but have more to investigate. One tool I have used quite a bit is tiny url. This has made it easier to refer long web addresses when doing reference work for others so they can see the results for themselves.

Remember the Milk and some of the other list applications look interesting, but you'd have to have almost a constant ability to contact it to be really useful. Seems like it might be kind of labor intensive to me. I think I will stick with my handy "filing cabinet"(pants pocket) where I put the notes of what I need to remember and then pull them out at night before they hit the hamper. It's worked pretty well for as long as I've worked in libraries and I am accustomed to using it. And, you don't lose access in power outages.

Backpack looks like a great management tool for group projects and includes a calendar feature. It might have worked well for something like planning the 23 things project, or when working on selecting an automation system with the ability to share documents and input with others in your group.

Going to have to come back to these tools and investigate more possibilities to add to my homepage.

Thing 12 - I Don't Diggit

I looked at Digg, Reddit, Newsvine and Mixx. I frankly found the stuff at most of these what I would rate as lowest common denominator pop culture junk. Maybe I just looked at a bad time. I did find that I like the layout of the Newsvine page, kind of neat and like MSN's page. For content topic, I guess I would have to go with Mixx. I did join and recommend a story but found it had already been recommended and had 28 votes. The choice of topics at Mixx seemed to be more in tune to what I look for than some of the other sites. It's plainly laid out, but clearly divided by category topic and best of all uses fairly large print.

I can see how these sites might drive reference requests at the library. Things do seem to come to the top about which you might not know a lot and would be seeking additional information. Kind of like the trivia requests that come in via phone to settle a bar bet, if you've ever had those. Seeing how many votes a story has might be a way of deciding whether or not there is enough interest in a topic to add a book about the subject to your collection as well, even though it wouldn't necessarily be your patrons who are the respondents.

I also signed up for StumbleUpon which seems to let you be a little more specific in defining your interests. That one lets you click the stumble tab and brings up something you might like and so far based on my input hasn't been wrong yet. It's brought me some humorous pix of cats, a diagram of a cat brain (fun) and clear instructions for creating a self-watering device for the garden, among other things. So far it's been entertaining and instructive. I think I am going to continue to enjoy that. I chose it mostly because that is how I have often found nifty stuff, I've just "stumbled upon" it.