I'm Liz, and I'm a librarian (duh)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


In case anyone is interested, I almost made it to November without further mechanical mishap until yesterday, when the brake line in my car sprung a leak. To date, my car is the biggest thing I've ruined in October, so next year I am totally living in a yurt for 31 days. Of course with my luck the yurt will have wireless internet access, so maybe that's not such a good idea. For now, I am hoping that my poor beleaguered husband can fix it in time for me to drive to Canton tomorrow for a meeting. I could try it without the brakes, but I did that last night on my way home from work and it was just a little too much of an adrenaline rush hurtling down 95 at 70 mph in the dark and I'd just as soon not try it again.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Liz 2.0.1

Before I got ready to write this entry I did a little reading online about Library 2.0, because I wanted to get a real definition of what the term means. Probably like everyone else who works as a librarian I get a lot of non-librarian guff from people who think they are funny and say things like, "Librarian, huh? It's all about computers now, soon you'll be out of a job." Har dee har har. It's been ten years now, and that joke is still funny. What I learned from my reading is that Library 2.0 isn't just about technology, it's about the evolution of libraries and how we change in order to stay relevant, which isn't something that just happened with the advent of computers, but has been happening for decades, if not hundreds of years. True, technology means that we change quicker now, but I like the "constant beta" philosophy--try something, and if it doesn't work, or if something better comes along, then nothing is carved in stone and you tweak, or adapt, or totally drop it, whatever. And by the way, as the trucks and trucks of returned books in my department will attest to, books aren't going anywhere either.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Customized Search Engines

Before getting into these 23 things I had never heard of Rollyo or any other customized search engines, although it definitely makes sense. If you can tell a search engine like google to look for whatever you want, you should also be able to limit that search by telling the search engine exactly where you want it to search. I fooled around a little and set up my own Christmas shopping search engine, where I put all the places I usually go to look for books, video games, toys and kids clothes. Truthfully, I don't know how much I'll use it, but some of the preloaded limited searches Rollyo offered looked more promising. For instance, I liked that I could do a focused search in either health or parenting, which are two kinds of searches I do frequently. Of course I have my own favorites sites to search, but some of these were included in Rollyo's search so I didn't have to jump around from site to site if I didn't see what I wanted on the first try (plus I could always add my sites to theirs). Here's my embarrassing admission for the day: I have been pronouncing Rollyo as "rolly-o" in my head, and it became clear when I looked at the site closely that they would have me say it as "roll yo." I know, it's semantics, but "roll yo" sounds a lot less dorky than "rolly-o." 50 Cent knows what I mean.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Finally, Something My iPod is Good For

Actually, this title isn't really fair because I love my iPod and it's really good at the thing I most want it to be good at, which is playing all the music I love. But there was some initial disappointment after finding out that I wouldn't be able to take advantage of the library's free eaudio books. Ah well, the benefits have outweighed the drawbacks all in all. But here's how dumb I am: until I really sort of started looking into podcasts (what they are, how to access them, subscribing, etc.) it never occurred to me that they are really kind of what iPods are made for. I mean I never wondered what the "pod" in iPod stood for, but the penny finally dropped--you know, what makes it different from an mp3 player. It's kind of cool to have a device to watch/listen to for portability's sake. The train has totally gotten me addicted to all these audio gizmos, and I'm willing to try anything, so this is one more way to spend my tedious commute. It'll only become a problem if it starts cutting into my books per week average!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Frustration, or Google Owns Everything

I am not as slick as I thought I was. My superstar status is downgraded to D level. I've come up against my first techno-wall, as I have been trying in vain to get a video from Youtube viewed here in my blog. Woe alas. I thought it'd be a piece of cake since blogger and Youtube are both owned by Google and should be all simpatico but I'm having trouble all the same. *sigh* It's still October... I know there's probably some really easy way to do it and when I finally figure it out I'll be smacking myself in the forehead, but in the meantime, grr.
Youtube is sort of a quintessential time-waster. I can view commercials from the '70s, teasers from bands and TV shows, all of which are entertaining, but for about a week I had an RSS feed on the top 100 or whatever Youtube videos, and they were all either foreign sporting events or porn (occasionally foreign porn). So I unsubscribed to that...
I guess I will take a break from trying to hook up some video clips here and try again in a week or two, on a day when I haven't spent six hours in meetings.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Revvin' Up for a Rant

Ugh, I have actually been dreading blogging about this, because I know I sound like lead grouch-keteer under normal circumstances, but there's no avoiding it. This is October, known to many as breast cancer awareness month or Hispanic heritage month or even just the 31-days-of-Halloween month, all of which are good things. But for me, October is the month where, year in and year out, one or more of my various and sundry pieces of technology craps out on me. This year is no exception, as my computer crashed on October 7 and I have spent the last two weeks trying to recover all the things I lost. The good news is, I haven't lost anything tremendously important except hours of my life sitting trying to figure out where things might be hidden. Last October my cell phone died--just died, no new batteries or anything, which meant I lost pretty much every phone number I need. Two years ago in October of 2005 I really lucked out, as I got a new computer from Gateway which had all kinds of problems and required no fewer than 3 angry phone calls to their customer service department (this actually ended up getting me a free flash drive for my troubles, so that wasn't too bad). The reason I got the new computer that year was because I got an iPod nano for my birthday, which didn't work with my old computer's Windows 98. That nano was returned less than a month after I got it (also in October) because it wouldn't hold a charge. That very same month, my work computer contracted some virus which resulted in my having to get a replacement computer there, too. So I am basically the angel of death to anything with a plug. My only consolation is that we are almost to the end of the month, when it will be safe for me to watch TV again.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I don't mean to brag, but I am a superstar. This weekend I downloaded one of the library's audiobooks and it was totally easy. This saga goes back, golly, over a year now, to when we had a meeting here at work about the ebooks and were given a "tutorial" about how to instruct patrons in how to download and listen/read. At that meeting I took about 2 pages of notes, including instructions on how to register your device/reader, blah blah blah. I came down to my office from the meeting, thinking everything was fresh in my mind so I should be able to do everything easy peasy, but NO! When push came to download shove I was unable to get my computer to download the file--this may have been because I was doing the download inside the library, but staff computers are not subject to the same restrictions as the public computers (i.e. deep freeze therefore nothing gets saved on the hard drive, ever), so I never figured out what the matter was. Of course, I never really pursued it either, because I have an iPod and can't download any of our ebooks to it anyway, so the whole exercise was sort of academic.
So, flash forward to yesterday, when I had a few minutes to spare and was online at home and thought I would give it another go, since it is part of our 2.0 training. At the very least I could blog about how traumatic an experience it was. But it was delightfully trauma-free--I did have to get myself a new account, since the one I set up all those months before was no longer valid (or else I forgot my username and password, either way), but once I did that it was smooth sailing. My best guess is that in the intervening year they maybe streamlined the process, or else I got smarter. I was even able to listen to a little bit of it already.
One thing I noticed as I was looking for something to download was that they don't appear to be getting much use. Almost all the titles I browsed were available for download, but I will go on record as saying that I don't know what the use statistics are and that I have no empirical evidence to back up this statement, just what I saw on this particular day. And the pickin's were slim, but you can't have everything. I was able to borrow part three of a trilogy, where we own the first two books on CD but don't own the 3rd one on audio at all, so all's well that ends well. And god knows I see enough people on the train plugged into to one or more devices, so it's not that people are technophobes. Maybe they are (shudder) buying their audiobooks? I wonder what it's like to have disposable income...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I don't feel the Flickr

It's becoming apparent to me that by the time these 23 things are accomplished I will have 23 new accounts I have to keep track of usernames and passwords for...not so psyched about that. After having introduced myself to flickr (I am proud to say, before beginning the 23 things), I think it's a little less useful to me than some of the other technologies/applications. Maybe it's just because I am not really a photographer--I take lots of pictures, but usually they're all of my daughter with or without various other family members thrown in. In other words, not exactly Photography Today material. And, because my daughter is the subject of so many of the pics I don't feel comfortable posting all the pictures publicly, so I have all sorts of layers of privacy so no one can see them except the people I allow in. So for my purposes, flickr doesn't do much differently for me than, say, costco.com, which is where I have been storing and sharing all my online photos. Okay, I know, that pretty much outs me as the sad example of lameness that I am. But I never claimed to be cool in any way, so this is just proof. Anyway, flickr also seems to assume that I am doing all sorts of editing to my photos before I post them, which is just not the case because, well, see above.
I have done a little exploring of some of the flickr mashups, which I will admit are kind of fun, but in a sort of I'm-sure-I-can-find-something-else-to-do-for-five-minutes, non-essential kind of way. It was interesting to see how many different representations of the letters "L" and "I" flickr could come up with when I went on a "spelling with flickr" site and asked it to spell "Liz the Librarian," for instance. But you know, jeez.
I guess my main appreciation of flickr is for seeing what great photographers other people are. A few weeks ago I saw some fantastic photos people had posted of Oktoberfest in Munich, and I guess it could be a way to see people's travel photos without the boring commentary. Maybe a more charitable way to say it would be, good for armchair travelers!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Librarian Thing

First of all, I would like to say how proud I am of myself for figuring out how to link my LibraryThing library to this blog! For probably everyone else in the world, that's no big deal, but I'm choosing to view it as a personal triumph. What can I say, it's been a rough couple of weeks and I am taking my ego boosts where I can get them.

Professionally, I don't know how I feel about LibraryThing. My library is fairly large, and the best way I can figure to use it would be for genre lists or something, or maybe some "Youth Services Librarians recommend..." sort of thing, but the fact that it links to Amazon and not our library catalog is more than a little problematic. Personally, I kind of like the chance to see what other people, not necessarily my friends, are reading, but I am not prepared to pay for my account and I am totally going to run out of free space way before I enter all the books I've read. And I am not usually into joining groups/posting to bulletin boards but I did see a few groups of interest, at least to lurk if not to post. One thing I have noticed, though, is that in order to get suggestions that are really to my taste I really have to enter a wide range of books--so far, I have only entered things that I have read recently or am currently reading, which is only 16 books, and I am getting some pretty random suggestions. I'll have to go back a little further and add some of my favorites. But you know, bottom line, I like to read and to hear what others are reading, particularly books for adults which I don't always have time for, so purely from an entertainment point of view it's pretty cool.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Faces" on Facebook

What a funny thing--I joined Facebook for pretty much one reason only: to communicate with my cousin Paul who moved to Italy over the summer. I mean, he is family but I wasn't about to call overseas to have a two minute conversation with him. When I asked my uncle what the best way was to get in touch with Paul, he told me that there were pictures posted on Facebook. He then proceeded to gripe about why did it have to be Facebook, he couldn't get in to see the pictures without joining up, why wasn't kodakgallery good enough, and what about email...whatever. My uncle is another story entirely. So anyway, I just joined so I could say hi and wish Paul a happy birthday, and the next thing I know, some people I knew from high school and college and various jobs were contacting me, trying to be my friend. My cousin Dominic's ex-wife contacted me; my senior prom date poked me just this weekend (ooo-er, as Georgia Nicholson would say)! So my point is, despite thinking that I was too old and married and busy to have any use for a social networking site, I have been pleasantly surprised. Also, once you have your little core group of people on there, it's kind of easier to post something on there and know that everyone will see it, instead of worrying that I missed emailing something to one individual or another. Plus, no spam!
Here is the thing, though--half the people on Facebook don't use their real pictures, they use avatars or some other picture that they feel represents them, and many of the people I went to school with are married with different last names (interestingly, my prom date changed his FIRST name, but then he found me), so finding the person you are looking for is sometimes a challenge, especially if you are not sure where in the world people are living, etc.
Anyhoo--mission accomplished, I found Paul, he takes fantastic photos of Bologna and makes me jealous, and I know more about him now than when he was living in CT, so it's a bonus all around.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Feeding the Reader

So I was a little leery of setting up my RSS feed reader--not because of anything technological, but because I didn't think there'd be anything I'd want all the updates on. What you need to know about me is, I have basically no free time. I have times throughout the day when I am not really doing much, but those times are usually spent in a car or a train going back and forth to work, or totally vegged out after I have finished with the whole dinner/bath/stories/toothbrushing fandango every night. If I am lucky, I'll manage 30 minutes of some sort of exercise, but lately I've been just trying to get a little sleep. What I am usually not doing is poking around on the internet looking for news or anything else. I do need to know whether Britney is or is not in possession of her kids from time to time, but that's all.

But then I had sort of an epiphany--I don't live in the town where I work, and I don't always have time to read the paper. Voila--something to read in my downtime, and I can keep up with all the local news. And then, should I want to find out if Paris really goes to Africa or if Nicole legitimizes her baby, I can always subscribe to people.com too. Hooray!