Saturday, November 12, 2011

Summing Up my Learning 2.0 Experience

At the very beginning of the semester during the new student orientation, I distinctly remember one of the LIS professors standing up and telling us to prepare to have our minds stretched like they've never been stretched before. Now that I'm nearing the end of my first semester and have reached the conclusion of this Learning 2.0 Activity, I can, in all sincerity, say that my mind has definitely undergone some serious mental gymnastics. Though I am really putting myself out in the open by admitting this, the aspect I was most hesitant and afraid of when beginning this program was learning about all of the information technology and Web 2.0 stuff. Computers knowledge in general has never come easy or naturally to me and I have never been exposed to many of the Web 2.0 tools out here on the internet. I frequently have fallen into that trap of self-fulfilling prophesy where if I think I cannot do something because it seems too hard or unfamiliar, chances are I do not do it. Therefore, if I had to pick one thing that I really took away from this course and Learning 2.0 activity, it was that I persevered and tackled each activity one by one. Some of them came easier than others, but I made it through them all and learned a great deal in the process!

I think some of my favorite activities of Learning 2.0 included learning about how to use and set up a blog, learning about podcasts, discovering what RSS feeds were, and the last activity that involved learning about other web 2.0 tools, such as Google docs. I have actually bookmarked that list of Web 2.0 award winners to check out all of those different applications. One of them I am currently exploring is LibraryThing. Perhaps the most surprising tool that I discovered was delicious. When I set up my delicious account, I honestly didn't think I'd ever use it again. Well, I'm eating my own words for I've used it quite a bit since then! I am sure many of these diverse tools can be very useful in a library setting and I am appreciative that I now know more about them and can explore them further on my own.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Other Web 2.0 Tools

Though I participated in the Lync session about Google Docs, I thought I'd check out some of these Web 2.0 tools anyway. Google really has some amazing applications. I had only heard of Google Docs, but never really bothered using it before. What truly impressed me about Google Docs was the ability to collaborate and edit a document with others. I also decided to set up my own Google Calendar. It is really easy to do and (hopefully) will help me with staying on target with my daily tasks and remind me of events. Google Maps is a tool I use ALL the time...I'm so dreadful with directions. I can definitely see this latter Google tool being useful in a public library setting. I'm sure librarians are asked for directions quite frequently and being able to pull up Google Maps, plug in the data and get directions quickly is just so convenient and time saving.

Just for fun, I also decided to check out some other Web 2.0 apps listed on that Web 2.0 Awards list. I really liked Urbanspoon, which lists and reviews restaurants in your area. I know I will be using it in the future when considering where to go and grab a bite to eat! Pandora also seemed really fun. I was able to listen to my favorite music very easily.

Wufoo seemed really interesting and useful. It allows to to easily and freely create forms and surveys to collect information. This could certainly come in handy for a library if they wish to conduct surveys about their services. LibraryThing also seems as if it would be a very useful tool for both an individual and a library. The one downside to LibraryThing is that there are fees involved. If, for instance, you wanted to create a catalog for your own books at home, the first 200 books would be free, but cataloging any more than that would cost you either $10 a year or $25 for lifetime membership. I definitely don't have anywhere near 200 books in my possession, so I think I'm good for now! As per libraries, LibraryThing offers some really neat extra features to the library's OPAC, such as a virtual library shelf, tagging, recommended reading, reviews, etc. However, these features do apparently come with a price tag.

There were quite a few other Web 2.0 tools I had never heard of that I know I will explore in the future. I am especially keen in looking into the professional networking applications, like LinkedIn. I cannot believe how much is available out there.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Update on delicious

I remember in my post about delicious that I wrote about how did not see myself using delicious all that much in the future. Well, I've actually been using it quite a bit since I wrote that. It has come in handy for a couple of my LIS classes. Just goes to show you should never say never.

Set up Zotero Account (or at least tried to)

So Zotero...not the easiest Web 2.0 I've encountered in Learning 2.0. As I was watching all of the tutorial videos explaining what Zotero is and how you use and manage it, I was so excited about getting started. I thought it sounded like such an amazingly useful tool that allowed you to do so much in addition to just citations. The tutorials made it all seem so easy. Maybe it is because it generally takes me quite awhile to accustom myself to new technologies, but trying to use Zotero and get articles in my library was anything but easy. But I persisted! With a little trial and error, I managed to get the citations for three articles I found on Information Technology and Librarianship in my Zotero library. I had an easier time of it using JSTOR. I first tried another database (Library Literature & Information Science FT) and found a few interesting articles there, but for the life of me could not get the citations into Zotero. Suffice to say, I'm going to need a lot more practice to figure out how to properly use all this application's features. I was just so relieved to get those three citations in!

Despite all of the frustration, I could see how this could definitely be a useful tool for scholars, as well as librarians. I wish I had heard of it before. It could have come in handy during my undergrad years. I honestly feel like I've been living under a rock because all of these Web 2.0 applications are so new and unfamiliar to me. However, I am certainly learning about them now and when I become a librarian, I will be in a better position to teach this and other tools to others so that they may benefit from them. If, for instance I end up as an academic librarian, I can certainly point many college students in the direction of this application with the hopes that it may help in their research and writing.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Delved into Delicious

Well, I decided to check out this thing called Delicious. Never heard of it before (like so many of the other things in this Learning 2.0 activity). Unfortunately the 8-minute Delicious tutorial would not work for me, but I did check out the other two resources. In my case, I found I learned more by just going into Delicious and playing around with it. Thankfully it was very easy to set up and I amazed myself at how quickly I picked up on linking to other sites and tagging them. Usually it takes me FOREVER to learn stuff on my own. The user-friendliness of Delicious is perhaps its most positive attribute. I also liked the simplicity of its layout. Personally, I do not know if this will be a tool I'd use a whole lot. I don't usually bookmark a lot of websites to begin with. But it's nice to know it's there if I need it and it does seem like a slightly more organized way of organizing and managing websites you want to bookmark. It seems to me that this would be more ideal for individual use rather than for library use, but I suppose libraries could find creative ways of using Delicious. It certainly can be a very nifty tool for students doing research, allowing them to keep track of and classify the material they're using.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Some Thoughts on Library 2.0

This week, I decided to check out the activity on Library 2.0. As I was reading through the different perspectives on Library 2.0, I thought about how libraries are far from being static entities. This world is always changing and libraries must change along with it in order to stay relevant and strong. I think that they have been remarkably adaptable in the face of such rapid technological changes. However, with all of the advances and transformations, there is still something about libraries that never changes. I cannot quite put a word to what that "something" is, but there is just a quality that remains there in the face of change and gives libraries that comforting sense of being familiar.

 After reading up a bit on Library 2.0, it is my understanding that this phrase/term essentially refers to making libraries more user-oriented, especially through the use of Web 2.0 technologies. It turns the older library model, which was more of a "one-way street," on its head and allows the patrons and librarians alike to work together and have a say in how the library functions. Moreover, it highlights the fact that libraries are dynamic, growing and more dimensional. As Wendy Schultz so poignantly expresses in 'To a temporary place in time...', "Libraries are not just collections of documents and books, they are conversations, they are convocations of people, ideas and artifacts in dynamic exchange. Libraries are not merely in communities, they are communities..." I think this sense of community and facilitating conversations is important when understanding what a library's mission is. It is so much more than just a building. It is where ideas, history, and people come together to learn and make a difference. 

"Away from the 'Icebergs'" by Rick Anderson was also an interesting perspective on Library 2.0 and brought up a couple of great benefits in using Web 2.0 technologies in the library setting. I certainly do think that in this age of the internet, people certainly do have greater expectations of accessing more and more information. Web 2.0 technologies definitely can help in make access to the overwhelming amount of information out there more feasible and manageable. Additionally, these technologies are useful in reaching out to patrons who may, for whatever reason, be unable to actually go to the library. Nowadays a person can even chat with the librarian without having to physically be in the library. One point Anderson brings up that I still need to really think about is the effect Web 2.0 has on the library's collection. Though I can see how computers and the the Web would have an impact on a library's circulation and the size of its physical collection, I am not so sure I see a library's print collection going away anytime soon. Call me old-fashioned, but I certainly hope it doesn't anyway. Accessing information via the Web is great, and Web 2.0 applications certainly help make that easy, but I do not think it ideal to completely overthrow the concept of a library collection just because Web 2.0 has come along.

It seems both an exciting and hectic time to be a librarian. I am interested to see where libraries are headed and where the conversations on Library 2.0 will go.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Checking out RSS feeds

Before I began this semester, I hadn't the faintest idea what an RSS feed was. Never heard of it before. Not only did this Learning 2.0 activity enlighten me as to what they are, but made me realize that I have been missing out on a really nifty tool. Of the different activities I have explored thus far, I think learning about RSS feeds and setting up my own Google Reader account has been the most useful. I know I'll be checking out all of my subscriptions in Google Reader every day. Even though the activity called for only 10 subscriptions, I think I ended up with something like a little carried away I guess! I know I'll be adding more too. My favorite source for RSS feeds turned out to be Reader's Club. I subscribed to a bunch of book feeds there. Real-Time Search and Technorati were fairly useful. I also subscribed to several newsfeeds pertaining to world and local news, such as BBC News, the Buffalo News, and a news channel back home in Rochester.

What I like most about RSS feeds and Google Reader is that it makes keeping up to date on anything (news, books, music, etc.) so gosh darn easy. I can just scroll through the titles and read what I want. I can make comments, e-mail or even tag what's listed. Moreover, everything is in one place, so I don't have to spent extra time going to individual websites and scouring through them to find what I need. 

I think using this application can be useful in a library setting. I mentioned the Reader's Club where I got feeds on books. That source was from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina where they not only have feeds for books, but also on upcoming events, movies, jobs, and more. It is a great way for patrons to stay informed about what's going on in the library without always having to go to the library's website or the library itself. I also like how Charlotte Mecklenburg Library categorized its RSS feeds, which made it easy to pick what you wanted. At the bottom, it also explained what RSS feeds are, how to get started and what you have to do to subscribe to newsfeeds, which is definitely helpful for a person like me who is such a newbie to all of this!