Wednesday, November 21, 2007

There is an interesting group on flickr that is collecting Library Signage. (btw, we need to compile a list of often used library words that word processing programs think are spelled wrong - to get started: browsable, findability, signage...). Look through some of them and wonder if your local retail establishment would hang them. We have a tendency to TALK IN ALL CAPS, use strong words like NEVER, NOT, and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES. We like to underline things and use red - the quintessential color of "thou shalt not."

For example, in my library we had many DO NOT RESHELVE (also considered misspelled) signs. Now here is a sign with a purpose - we want to count what was used, we want to put it back where it goes, and we don't want to burden you, our lovely patron, with the task. But, "DO NOT RESHELVE" is the best way we could find to say that??

Where are our please and thank you and this is your collection not mine. Do we sometimes act as if it is our collection and that patrons are "messing it up"? I can admit to feeling this way sometimes. What would happen if we flipped this idea on its head? The collection belongs to the patrons - we are only stewards of it and our stewardship should never restrict or encumber the use of the information.

Please allow us to reshelve your journals

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posted by Paige Lucas-Stannard at 6:37 AM | 0 comments
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
/pout

I have been wracking my brain trying to get my css flyout rollover menus to work on my library's website in IE. The rollovers technically worked but they flickered when you rolled over different links on a submenu. It was nauseating. Now I'm unfortunately used to coding beautifully and then spending triple the time to make it work in IE (/bangs head against wall). This time, however, after hours of fighting bill gates - the problem had something to do with my inclusion of snapshots on the page. Remove the snapshots script - site worked fine. shucks.

I'm going to submit a message to snapshots to see if they have heard of this problem and I will work on a new css method for my navigation that will allow snapshots - but until then I had to remove it. :(

Ahhhh, my dream of everyone using standards compliant browsers. Dad! Get Firefox please!

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posted by Paige Lucas-Stannard at 12:05 PM | 0 comments
My library will be implementing LibGuides over the next few months and I will chart our progress here. I will have to explain why we chose LibGuides and our goals for the guides at a later date. What I want to talk about now is branding.

LibGuides does a great job of letting a library brand their page. Of course, LibGuides is set up on this premise were they are providing libraries a service that the libraries use to serve their patrons. I think that database vendors could take a lesson from them. Often on commercial or society database products the ability to place the library brand on the page is non-existent or very small. I repeatedly hear librarians clamor for more branding. This isn't just a quest for information dominance (ok, maybe a little) but the problem of "everything is free on the Internet" is easy to propogate in this way. If a patron find an article through Google Scholar, clicks, and voila - instant article! They have no way of knowing that there is a cost associated with the product as well as hours of licensing negotiation on their behalf. Now I realize that the publishers have a brand they want to get out there too - however, the libraries are sometimes their only advocates when funding time comes, not the end-user.

Regardless, I'm impressed so far with how much I can make my LibGuides page feel like my library website. Hopefully this translates into value-added by the library. In the future as we try to be "where the patrons are" more and become ubiquitous the problem arises: how to be valuable when you are (rightfully) invisible.

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posted by Paige Lucas-Stannard at 7:29 AM | 1 comments
Monday, November 19, 2007
Have you ever had the "database" argument with a fellow library co-worker? You know the one where you want to put Science Direct on the database links and they say "but that is a collection of ejournals, not a database!"?

I was heartened to find I'm not the only one beating my head against this brick wall from time to time Library 2.0: An Academic's perspective had a wonderful story about her fight to put Google Scholar on the proxy list at her school. One of the arguments here was that Google Scholar was a "search engine" and not a database.

Really??

So what is a database? Google (gasp! she used Google!) has a varied list of definitions for the word database. I like the simplicity of WordNet's definition: An organized body of information. Simple. All encompassing. By this definition my bookshelf is a database. hmmm.

Ok, let's try again. Alt web's definition is : A computerized collection of information. Ok, so my bookshelf is not a database. But my email inbox is?

Ok, one more time.
The Wildlife Society remote sensing working group defines a database as: Relational data structure used to store, query, and retrieve information. Ah, much more technical. A computer scientist would like the definition. Here we have another piece of the equation - store? query? retrieve? Suddenly this organized body of information has meaning.

I guess my working definition of a database would be: a computerized collection of information that is organized in a way that bring meaning to the collection and is able to be manipulated for use.

Working in different libraries I have seen many unsaid definitions of database in action:
  • A database is something subscribed not free
  • A database has vocabulary control
  • A database has bibliographic records
  • etc.

All of these seem to me to be attempts for libraries to control the data and information. To put reins on it and keep it in check. Are we afraid if we "let" them use a "non-librarian approved" database that they won't respect us in the morning?

I guess it comes down to what a library feels its mission is. Is your mission to teach and proscribe that information must come from these sources? Only your sources are accurate and right and we will snub our noses at those unwashed masses of other sources. Or, is your mission to help people find and use information. period. People - in all their messy preferences and quirks. Information - in all its messy and unorganized and uncontrolled beauty. And bring the two together - wherever, whenever.

If our patrons want to use google scholar or science direct or whatever - what do we gain by scolding them? Obsolescence.

I think we fear obsolescence and that in our fear we are realizing just that. If they use google scholar - what will our jobs be? I say, don't worry! They don't use google scholar well, trust me. They need help and guidance and alternatives at their fingertips when they grow tired of trudging through. And a librarian will be there to pick up the pieces.

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posted by Paige Lucas-Stannard at 7:22 AM | 0 comments
Sunday, November 11, 2007

LOGO2.0 part I and II
Originally uploaded by Stabilo Boss

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posted by Paige Lucas-Stannard at 11:09 PM | 0 comments
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