Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bored with your first life? Try Second Life!

If you, like me, sometimes get bored with your first life let me introduce you to a virtual Second Life where you can create an avatar, attend an exhibit, share your favorite dance moves with other librarians at a live online party, listen to a conference presentation, ask a reference question, or if you are adventurous you can buy Linden dollars and purchase land to build your 'dream space'. All of these activites and more are available at Second Life which has been been described as a "3D virtual digital world imagined and created by its residence".

If you are unsure of what to do when you arrive in Second life you can teleport to Orientation Island and spend some time learning to use the interface and customizing your avatar. Try it, you may be surprised at who or what you bump into in Second Life!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Would ya try a widget?

Widgets (pronounced WIH-jits) are being integrated into web pages and social networking sites at such an alarming rate that 2007 has been referred to as the year of the widget in a Newsweek article (December 22 2006). Richard MacManus, in a similar article refers to widgets as the new black. Widgets, quite simply, are chucks of programming code which can be easily dragged onto a desktop or pasted into a personal web page, where they can be constantly updated with whatever information you want. These mini-applications are also known as modules, gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, mini, flakes and plug-ins.

Many bloggers (Blogger, WordPress) and social network users (FaceBook and MySpace) are now enhancing their blogs, or web space with these easy to use applications. They are relatively easy to download and add to your personal page, because the user does not need to know the mark up language (HTML) or programming language (JavaScript or Flash) used to develop the code. In most instances, the coding is created automatically, and all the user has to do on his/her end is to cut and paste the required information into their blog or web page. For example, widgets included on a personal blog or Facebook page would allow a visitor to listen to a song when the page is loaded; automatically listen to an audio message; view the word of the day (English or Spanish); view photos as a slideshow, check an online calendar, or view the latest weather report.

The usefulness and portability of widgets have not gone unnoticed by online content providers. Web portals like Google and Yahoo! offer customizable pages to their users. Mainstream media houses like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and ESPN have begun allowing users to design the page they see when they log on. Flickr.com, the photo-sharing site, lets its members create a “badge” that they can post on their blogs and personal home pages to let friends know when they’ve uploaded new snapshots.

Where can you find widgets?

Here are links to 2 easily downloadable widgets. To include the coding in your web page or blog, simply follow the instructions for copying and pasting the chunk of code automatically generated.

  1. Word of the day Flash widget http://dictionary.reference.com/help/linking/wordoftheday-simple-widget.html
  2. Worldcat.org Searchbox (Click on link Put WorldCat Search Box on Your Site for directions on generating the html code to include in your blog or website) - http://www.worldcat.org/

Have some fun would ya, try a widget!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

TLC 2.0 Experience - thoughts of a newbie (n00b) or Mission impossible (not)

Whew! So I took up The Learning Challenge (TLC) 2.0 in July 2007 and attempted to complete the 23 web 2.0 things assigned by the TLC 2.0 Task Force at my library, the Alvin Sherman Library. Today, October 31, I am proud to say I did it! I completed my 23 things (and some bonus things along the way). TLC 2.0 is an off-shoot of the Learning 2.0 Program and I encourage all my colleagues to try completing the program.

Having completed the TLC 2.0 challenge, I would like to share with you 6 things I learnt along the way:

  1. I did not have to be a 'techie' or' technologically savvy' to try the web 2.0 tools or to complete the exercises assigned

  2. All of the web 2.0 tools I tried, can be adapted and are currently being used by me at work or at home (my blog, my wiki, my RSS feeds, my own search-engine, my second life, my social network, my photos, my widgets)

  3. Using/playing with the web 2.0 tools was addictive. But, here is the caveat- trying TLC 2.o is all about playing with the new technology and having fun

  4. I have been able to re-establish important ties with my Caribbean colleagues

  5. I am now so knowledgeable about the web 2.0 tools and their use in libraries that I have given a presentation on the topic during a one day symposium hosted by the Libraries at the College of the Bahamas, and believe I can write (at length) about the phenomenon known as Web 2.0

  6. All I need is 15 minutes a day to continue to explore and try out more new web 2.0 applications in cyberspace. My goal is to find another 23 things to play with!!!

Social Bookmarks - Facebook

Have you read the news lately? Here is one bit of interesting news to librarians: in August 2007 14 million people interacted with Facebook applications. So I guess we can now add Facebook to the list of online competitors for library users time along with Google, MySpace, Second Life and other addictive web 2.0-like applications. I recently jumped on the Facebook bandwagon and created a Facebook account so that I could liaise with colleagues, family and friends. Many libraries and librarians are hopping on the same bandwagon and creating Facebook profiles. Read about one academic library experience with Facebook and also 12 ways to use Facebook professionally.


Podcasts have become so popular that in 2005 the New Oxford American Dictionary selected podcast as the 2005 word of the year. Podcasts are downloadable audio files distributed over the Internet. Many libraries are creating podcasts in-house to distribute audio content about events, exhibits, bibliographic instructions, library collections etc. Many podcasts are available through RSS feeds and these can be played using aggregators such as Google Reader or Bloglines and using special software which can be downloaded from the Internet.

Here are some resources to help you get started finding, listening and creating your own podcasts:

Directories for finding podcasts:
Podcast alley
Yahoo Podcasts
Digital Podcast

Tools for creating your own podcasts:

Free software available for listening to your podcasts:
There are other freely available software for listening to podcasts called podcast aggregators. Podcast alley provides links and instructions for downloading these aggregators.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Here are three interesting facts about Libraries which you may not know. Libraries:

  1. have more cardholders than Visa

  2. have more outlets than McDonald's

  3. move more items than FedEx

These, and other fascinating facts are revealed in the documentary Hollywood Librarian: a Look at Librarians through Film. This full length, very entertaining documentary focuses on librarians as they are portrayed in movies -bespectacled, hair piled in the inevitable bun to the top/back of the head and with the imposing 'shushing' finger.

A review of the film and where it is currently being screened is available on its homepage. The trailer is available on You tube. This video is a must have for your library!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Web 2.0 Awards

What is your favorite web 2.0 tool? Check out the 2007 list of Web 2.0 Awards to see if your favorite tool made the list. Over 200 Web 2.0 sites were reviewed and the winners listed in 41 categories. Categories include blog guides, book-marking sites, business, communication, videos, widgets and wikis. My top five are:

1. Lulu can assist in publishing your own book.
2. Create your own social network with Ning.
3. Bar full of booze and no idea what to do with it? Tell the Cocktail Builder what liquor and mixers you have lying around and it will tell you what cocktails you can make!
4.Pandora is described as your "personal DJ" as it allows you to select your favorite song, or artist and plays selections based on your choice.
5.Odeo shares millions of podcasts and MP3s. Users can generate their own podcasts or simply enjoy those of others.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Create collaborative projects using web-based productivity tools

Are you working on a project (document, spreadsheet, conference presentation, workshop) with several colleagues and need online work space to create, edit and complete the project? There are two web-based productivity applications which may help you work on your project: Zoho Writer and Google Docs. Both applications are web 2.0 tools which are available free of charge on the web and which eliminate the need to store documents on your local PC or library server. They are great tools for collaborative work. Zoho Writer has the added functionality of allowing you to post the document you are working on directly to a web page or your blog.

If you are interested in similar web-based productivity tools, here is a short list of tools created by my colleague at ASL: http://writer.zoho.com/public/c6J71Xb9695i0e061reK6S0C0b7V/Web-based-Appplications

Try these tools and let me know what you think.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Working with wikis

A wiki (wiki means “quick” in Hawaiian) is a collaborative website and authoring tool that allows users to easily add, remove and edit content. Wikipedia, a collaborative online encyclopedia, is the largest and perhaps the most popular wiki.

Wikis, like other web 2.0 tools are very easy to set up and many libraries are using wikis to create subject guides, pathfinders, conference sites, procedure manuals etc.

Pbwiki and Wetpaint are software freely available for creating your own wikis.

Here is a link to my wiki and a link to other successful library wikis

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Library Thing

Try cataloging all the books in your personal library online using Library Thing.

Create your own search engine using Rollyo

Are you interested in creating your own search engine to search your favorite online resources? Rollyo may be the tool you need, as it allows you to list the URLs of your favorite sites and create a search engine to search just the sites listed. I used Rollyo to create a search engine which will search the websites of my favorite Caribbean Libraries (see link on navigation bar).

Try Rollyo and start rolling out your own search engines!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Web 2.0, Library 2.0, Librarian 2.0

On October 11, I gave a keynote speech on the topic Web 2.0, Library 2.0, Librarian 2.0: Are you on board? at a one day symposium hosted by the Libraries and Instructional Media Services (LIMS) at the College of The Bahamas. Here are links to the presentation:

Main PowerPoint presentation
Handout 1 - selected slides from the main presentation
Handout 2 - list of free web 2.0 resources available on the Internet


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Finding your favorite book using WorldCat.org

One of my favorite web 2.0 tools is worldcat.org. WorldCat.org lets you search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world. I am proud to say that I contributed to this collaborative effort as a cataloger by creating original bibliographic records and adding these to the WorldCat database.

You can search for popular books, music CDs and videos—all of the physical items you're used to checking out from a library. You can also discover digital content, such as downloadable audiobooks, online article citations with links to their full text, as well as primary research materials, such as documents and photos of local or historic significance.

Once you search WorldCat.org and locate the item you want, you will be taken directly to the OPAC of the library nearest you to see if the item is available.

What is really great, is the ability to add table of contents, reviews, ratings, summaries and notes to the record of your favorite book, video, CD, or audiobook.

Have fun searching! I added a link (on the navigation bar on the right). Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

RSS feed available

Today I was able to add an RSS feed to my blog (see feed icon on right). For the uninitiated, an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, as the name suggests, is a format used to syndicate content on the web. If you subscribe to an RSS feed using an RSS reader (such as Bloglines, Google Reader, or Rojo), you can, in one sitting, view new posts on my blog, or view content from all the blogs, websites, discussion lists you currently subscribe to. This is very useful if you, like me ,want/need to keep up to date with all the news in the library world.

RSS feeds are very popular, and is an example of one of the many web 2.0 tools available free of charge. Many libraries are using these feeds to syndicate content such as TOC, news alerts, new acquisitions, programs and events to their users. If you want to learn more about RSS feeds and how it can be used to improve services in libraries here is a link to a presentation by Meredith Farkas and Paul Pivas titled Free your content! RSS for Librarians. Look at it and I can guarantee that you would want to start creating RSS feeds right away!

If you want help in finding feeds such as news, blogs and podcasts Feedster is the search tool to help you. You can also visit my blogline account to view what feeds I subscribe to.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Other Caribbean Librarians are blogging!

I discovered recently that other Caribbean Librarians have created blogs and are updating these blogs frequently. Check out the two blogs I discovered by two colleagues who I know quite well. Let me know if there are more to add to my blog roll:

Caribbean Librarian

Thursday, September 20, 2007

How to get a book publish - 10 steps

Following the recent publication of the book titled Caribbean Libraries in the 21st Century: Changes, Challenges and Choices which I co-edited with my colleague Shamin Renwick, I have been receiving queries on how to get a book published. Here is a summary of the 10 steps to getting published:

1. Start with an idea. Write about:
- what you are passionate about
- work experience
- original research

2. Start by publishing electronically: Social networks (Facebook, Myspace, Ning), Blogs, Wikis, Discussion Lists- AutoCat, RefCat.

3. Find co-author/s (if work is collaborative).

4. Do your research on what has been published on your chosen topic.

5a. Find a publisher who has shown interest in your subject/topic area (self publishing is the newest effort in this direction http://www.lulu.com/
5b.Write a proposal following (strictly) publishers guidelines.

6. Read (and re-read) legal agreements before signing.

7. Start writing
-- Set deadlines/Write a little everyday
--Proofread (you, colleagues, family)

8. Submit manuscript to publisher.

9. Edit galley/return to publisher (x times). Contact Endorsers to write blurbs, reviews.

10. Book published (reap fame & fortune ???). Be involved in promotion & marketing (book launches, book discussions, conferences, library associations mailing lists, blogs, other media).

Here is a link to additional resources (print & online) on publishing.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Link to workshop on Caribbean Digital Libraries

I hope you have noticed that I have added a few new categories to the blog. These are:

Blogroll - links to library blogs
Careers & Professional Development - links to conferences, workshops etc.
My favorite web links
Questions & Answers- my attempt to answer questions you have posted on the blog

Please feel free to submit links which you would like to be added to any of the categories mentioned above. Or you could suggest new categories to add. I must confess that most of the web links listed, I found by accident while browsing the web.

For example, on Friday, I discovered a website with information on a workshop on Caribbean Digital Libraries hosted jointly by The National Library and Information System Authority, NALIS (Trinidad and Tobago) and UNESCO which was held on July 10-13, 2007. The workshop homepage is quite detailed and includes an overview of digital initiatives in the Caribbean , brief bios and pictures of the presenters and a link to download individual presentations. Kudos to the organizers of this event!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Top 25 Librarian bloggers

Another interesting way of learning about emerging technologies and the current trends in the library world is to read blogs devoted to libraries. Here is a link to the Online Education Database (OEDb) survey on the top blogs authored by librarians:
Top 25 Librarian Bloggers

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Advice on keeping up with the emerging technologies

We all know that the emerging technologies are great to work with, and we all know of the benefits for librarians and patrons alike. But the questions to address are: How do we start using these technologies, how do we keep up with all the changes and where do we find the time to keep up given our busy schedules?

Here is my answer:
•make a personal commitment to learn about the new technologies and stay true to it.
•take advantage of the continuing education opportunities, many of them free and available on the web (in my next post I will provide links to these resources).
•network with colleagues as they are the ones who are aware of what is available.
•my best advice is this - Take the Learning 2.0 Challenge.

The Learning 2.0 Challenge is an online self-discovery program that encourages the exploration of Web 2.0 tools and new technologies, specifically 23 Things (such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, Flickr, RSS feeds, Second Life etc.).

Many libraries have adopted the program. In fact it is one of the featured talking points at ALA and other conferences. I am currently registered for this program at my library and it has given me the opportunity to create this blog as one of the first exercise. I am endorsing this program. All librarians should try to complete it and library administrators should sanction it. Our university librarian here at ASL has given his endorsement and all staff (professional and paraprofessional are encouraged to take part in the program). There are prizes and other incentives which make participation exciting.

If you wish, I can work with you at your library (or connect you with colleagues who can help you) to kick off and complete the program. You can take the challenge individually or as a group.

Try Library 2.0 challenge it is the first step to keeping up with the changes in technology!!!

Link to the original Learning 2.0 Program: http://plcmclearning.blogspot.com/

Link to our version here at ASL: http://marps.library.nova.edu/tlc/

Using Flickr to capture/recapture memories in photos

mona chapel porch
Originally uploaded by nicholaslaughlin
This is a photo I obtained from Flickr (photo sharing website). It bought back memories of my postgraduate years at UWI Mona, Jamaica. Flickr is a great site for posting photos of your library, or sharing your favorite photos with friends and family.

Try opening an account at: http://flickr.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Positive responses to blog & response to query on free web resources

Thank you all for the responses to the blog. They have all been positive. I will do my best to post to the blog as often as I can.

I had one question from a a colleague on access to free websites with journal articles and other resources.

My response to his query (if you know of additional websites please post a comment and include the URL):

Google scholar
Project Muse
Internet Archive

Monday, September 10, 2007

A special welcome to my Caribbean colleagues

Hello there!!

I am so pleased that you have taken time out from what is undoubtedly a very busy work schedule to read my blog. For the uninitiated, a blog is a web log which provides commentary or news on any subject of choice (food, politics, libraries, books, movies).
Most bloggers use blogs as a personal online diary. I created this blog to: reconnect with my colleagues; provide links to resources which I believe may be of value to you; and to provide a 'space' to record your thoughts.

Read more about blogs at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog
You can use these two software (free shareware) Blogger and WordPress to create your own blog: https://www.blogger.com/start
Try it, it is very easy. I created this blog using Blogger in 3 steps and it took less than 10 minutes.

Use the comment link below to send me a quick comment as soon as you read this post and let me know what information you would like me to share with you using my blog.

Friday, August 31, 2007

All things Trini

Today, August 31st, is Independence day in my native country Trindad and Tobago (Trini to de bone, I always quip). So this is a great opportunity to post links to my favorite sites on Trinidad and Tobago. It is also a fun way of letting the world know that the island exists and what it is famous (or infamous for).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Links to 5 of my favorite things

  1. vufind - Example of a web 2.0 enabled library OPAC http://www.vufind.org/
  2. SirsiDynix archive of past presentations on Web 2.0 technology http://www.sirsidynixinstitute.com/archive.php
  3. Webcasts on the future of cataloging http://www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/meetings/webcasts-july9.html
  4. Creating your library Online with Library Thing http://www.librarything.com/
  5. Documenting one's life thru photos http://www.flickr.com/

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My first post

Finally, a tool which I can use to connect/network with friends, family and colleagues. Stay tuned!!!