Thursday, January 15, 2015

I Should Have Known

This morning I had a GoToTraining even scheduled - it's been on the calendar for about a month. As part of my effort to encourage use of the Discover IT search tool, I'm going to show how different settings can lead to widely differing search results. There are 3 of these sessions coming up, one each month. Then we'll move on to a session showing how libraries can actually customize their profile to get the results they think will be best for their patrons. I've been trying this out, using different terms and profiles, to get really comfortable with all the options. I've used GoToMeeting quite a bit, scheduling some new director training sessions, so didn't think this would be too different. I even created a few polls to go along, and had 10 people registered. People started arriving - 6 showed up - but there was no audio! I checked to make sure my microphone was correct (it was) and the Help menu didn't give any ideas. We even ended and restarted, just as a last resort. After 20 minutes I decided to reschedule and work on it without the pressure of having people waiting. The group was very agreeable. Checking settings in the scheduling section I came across audio settings - I had no idea! Don't know how I missed them when creating the event, and changing things now didn't help the already-set meeting. But it looks like future events will be better. But I'll be testing it ahead of time anyway! I've added an extra event, and 3 of this morning's folks have already registered. So it will be OK, but I still think I should have somehow known to check everything one more time.

Friday, January 9, 2015


CES - the Consumer Electronics Show - has always been a fascinating event, although I don't expect to ever attend. I started paying attention when even MSNBC started covering it on their financial programs. If 20,000 librarians in Las Vegas (ALA, 2014) can be fun how great would 160,000+ geeks (CES, 2014) be? I have to think it would just be wild! So many cool products are demonstrated, although I suspect not many ever become mainstream. Still, it's a good place to see the way research is headed and get an idea of what new developments might be coming along in the future. See what you think. What product would you be most likely to buy? Best of CES

Thursday, January 8, 2015

So many gadgets

I've mentioned the TPZ ("Technology Petting Zoo") sets we have, as a resource for showing librarians around the state various gadgets. Mine consists of an iPad, Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy, Kindle Fire and Dell Venue. In addition I have my own Kindle Fire HD and Asus Transformer. Having so many gadgets is a challenge, requiring different accounts and passwords to keep track of. The iPad stands alone, of course. Since I don't have any other Apple devices that had to have a completely new and unique account. For the others, I was able to set things up with my Gmail account, and the Kindles work with my Amazon account so they seem a little bit easier to manage. So what do I use most? So far it seems to be the Kindle - it's a nice size, not too heavy to carry and accesses just about everything I need (especially anything I had from Amazon in the cloud). My personal Fire HD developed a display issue so I haven't been using that one nearly as much (still trying to figure out the problem and how to deal with it). I've taken the Galaxy on a road trip and used it for Skype in the hotel, that worked nicely too - I like the larger (10") display. When attending ALA I chose the iPad because it's smaller (I have the mini version) and found it very convenient - it seems to connect to wifi very easily. On a recent vacation I took the Dell tablet because it has a keyboard and I expected to be accessing email. Trying to type anything substantial without a keyboard is just torture! Sadly, both Gmail and Hotmail proved to be extra security conscious and put several obstacles in the way, so accessing email turned out to be impossible when overseas (happily, Facebook was much more agreeable and I was still able to let people know where we were). I try to use all the gadgets for a variety of tasks just so I can be familiar with each. I've got MtLib2Go on all, assorted web pages bookmarked, and a few library apps on them too. It's been a learning experience to figure out the different navigation styles (especially with the Dell Windows 8!) but at least I'll be able to help others when they have a question about a gadget.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

Once again I feel the need to start a post with the "can't believe it's been so long" apology. Each year I begin with great intentions which seem to fall apart pretty quickly. Perhaps there is something to be said for consistency? Since the last post, I attended ALA - overwhelming even when not combined with the Las Vegas environment (which included 108-degree temps one day, when the monorail stopped running and I needed to walk back to the hotel - I was sure I'd just dry up on the sidewalk and disappear!). Interesting sessions and author speeches, some fun meet-ups with friends made for a good experience. Will I go again? I think the regional, smaller conferences have more to offer so I'll focus on those. In the fall I presented a session on Strategic Planning at the ASLD/PLD conference. I had just completed a planning exercise with Belgrade Community Library that went so well we wanted to share. It outlines a streamlined process for smaller libraries that can make it easier for them to achieve useful results without the overwhelming time and effort investment that is often a deterrent to even beginning the process. I'd like to submit this as a proposal to other conferences in the future (MPLA, ARSL, PNLA). The State Library has developed a pilot program for GoToMeeting, giving an account to every public library in the state. We're curious to see how it gets used and hope to be able to continue it in future years. I spent October setting up accounts, and we've been offering trainings for people to become familiar with the software. Jo flick and I will present a session at MLA in April to help promote it as well as get ideas on usage. Next month is the Offline conference in Billings. Always a fun time. My big project now is promoting the DiscoverIT search tool, showing public libraries how it can be customized to be more useful to their patrons. Three online training sessions are set for this winter, demonstrating its use and showing options, then I'll move on to the actual customization process in later training. We've been promoting this for quite some time but still don't see everyone using it to the fullest. I probably should schedule reminders on my calendar to encourage more posting - that might be helpful!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Read for summer!

The rain appears to have (mostly) ended, temperatures are closer to normal and libraries have kicked off their summer reading programs - that means it must be summer! This winter brought back memories of years past, when things were typically more severe - we've been spoiled by recent milder times. But there was still some traveling, including a fun week in western Montana with my colleague where we ended up staying in Missoula while a blizzard raged outside. But the hotel internet was great, and we could still get a lot of work done. Offline conference in February, Federation meetings, new director trainings - all great opportunities to network and meet up with folks I haven't had a chance to work with before this. The annual MLA conference in April was a new experience for me as a state library representative instead of a public library employee. Next year I hope to be able to present a session or two. More fun: a complete set of new gadgets for our TPZ collections! I spent the week setting up the iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Tab3, Kindle Fire, Google Nexus and my own personal Asus Transformer; an additional Dell tablet will also be added later.Since I'll be heading off to the ALA conference next week this will be a good time to choose one to take along. TPZs won't be loaned out to libraries as in the past, now they are designed just for the consultants to become familiar with the various devices out there so we can help others. Suddenly there are more learning opportunities too: MOOCs to keep me occupied this summer! "The Future of Librarianship" seems like an obvious topic I need to be following, and I'm looking forward to attending this course with David Lankes. I also signed up for a course on copyright, something I've always wanted to know more about. It's a class designed for teachers and librarians so should have useful information. Before that, however, is the ALA conference. Several sessions I'm interested in have handouts available; I need to get those downloaded to whatever device I'm taking so I'll be prepared! I've never attended ALA, and suspect this will be completely overwhelming, but I'm looking forward to the experience(and Las Vegas with 20,000 librarians is sure to be fun!).

Monday, January 6, 2014

Gadgets Galore!

The State Library has a collection of Technology Petting Zoos (TPZs), created as part of the BTOP (Broadband Technology Opportunities) Program, which allowed libraries to experience all sorts of new gadgets and devices without having to actually purchase them. This was great when the ebook and tablet revolution exploded - we all needed a chance to try downloading to a variety of devices, as each seemed to have its own little quirks, and every patron seemed to choose a different one! Nooks, Kindles, iPads and iPods - the list goes on. Over time (less than 3 years if you think about it) technology has changed enough to make some of the earlier devices obsolete (first generation iPad, I'm thinking of you) and the software and process of downloading a little less difficult. I recently tried to download a new app on the iPad in my TPZ, only to get a message that it needed to be upgraded. Going through the process (which involves an iTunes account, something I needed to create since I didn't have any account information from the previous user) I got the message that my device was up to date - but not enough, apparently. This has led to a complete reconsideration of the TPZs and what they should contain. Last week I pulled out all the devices to see exactly what I had: 2 Sony ereaders, an iPad and iPod (with keyboard!), an older Kindle (but not the original - this wants to think it has wi-fi), 2 Google iRiver devices (something I admit I'd never heard of!), a Nook color tablet, a Sansa SanDisk MP3 player and another device for low-vision users HumanWare Victor Reader - a digital talking book reader according to the website). Trying out the Kindle reminded me of the frustrations early users ran across - it found the wi-fi network but trying to navigate to enter the password was an ordeal, and it wouldn't connect. The bottom line from this exercise: not much is really useful. The question is what should we have? If our goal is to help users (librarians and their patrons) become familiar with downloading e-books and audiobooks, the list of compatible devices (from OverDrive, what most patrons would be using) is still fairly extensive - we can't possibly have all of them. But as patrons become more familiar with all this technology, maybe we don't really need to have a collection; we just need to be able to help them with their own device. Even OverDrive has developed a program where libraries can check out devices to patrons to try out the procedure, and all information is deleted from the device when returned. I'm going to try out the Nook Color now - that seems to be the most up-to-date gadget in my kit. I bet it still involves creating some sort of account!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

Here's to great things in the coming months! No, I don't have a clue as to what might come along but the wide-open possibilities are always exciting, like getting in a car with a full gas tank on the open road with no destination in mind. Maybe that's why I enjoy traveling - even if there is an end-point to a trip, the unknown is always out there and anything can happen. I'm avoiding resolutions; instead I'll consider options and goals (which can be similar: I can resolve to post more here, or set a goal of more posts each month - the result would be the same). One goal will be to increase my involvement in various library associations, specifically MLA and MPLA - I have more time and flexibility and miss the interaction with those governing boards. This might be the time to get back to them. Attending more regional and national conferences is another goal, especially ALA now that I've joined! PLA is every other year, so that could be an option 2 years from now - it seems a bit soon to get to that one in March this year. Computers in Libraries, Internet Librarian - more possibilities! Becoming more familiar with all the issues facing Montana libraries is another goal. Trustees, directors, forming library districts are all topics I haven't had much experience with up to now and have been working on learning about them so I can be a resource. There is so much information available! I'm at least becoming familiar with where to find answers, even if I don't yet have it all stored for instant recall. Visiting all the libraries in my federations and geographic area is another goal for the year, one that will be great fun (and goes along with my travel interest!). I can't wait to get started.