Monday, April 28, 2008

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming

So, the last few months my blog has been dedicated to the Slis 544 class I was attending. 12 entries dedicated to the details of class life and minutia. But, All I have to do is write a 6 page paper and I'll be done. Then my blog returns to the details and minutia attending my JOB. Perhaps some Personal lite stuff. I hate boring people with the details of my life. Srsly, all I did last weekend was clean my sty of an apartment. Someone broke into my garage and stole my radial arm saw, just tore it off the bench, good luck pawning that cheap, now broken thing. Idiots, they deserve the lives they wind up with.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Retrospect Part I (slis544#12)

The project I've been working on for my first ever class in the bid for a Master's of Library Science is nearly complete. It's been a learning experience. And that's what I paid for. Building a wiki was a multi-stage process that was fraught with the kind of unknown quantities that drive me absolutely nuts. Even so, there was always a little core deep inside that told me not to worry too hard. I would catch myself tossing and turning, compulsing about some detail or element that needed attention, and I'd have to say to myself "Stop it! Put that DOWN!" much in the way that you would to a toddler that has something in his/her mouth. I have a very active inner child. I have to discipline it sometimes. Last week I caught it stealing money from my purse.

Making the training videos was a challenge but I learned so much about how to stream line the process of editing. I used iShowU and was tweaking the capture settings through the whole process. What I settled on was recording on a high setting and adjusting the point of interest for each step rather than re recording a separate close up. I'm loving Final Cut Pro. This project finally prompted me to add more RAM to my home computer because video is a tall order. So, there you have it. More Retrospect to follow...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Usability Testing (s544 #11)

Here I sit, In the Allen County Public Library's Public Computing Center...On a Sunday. This is not an easy gig. Sundays are notoriously rough. I understand why. If you spend you week working and don't have a computer, sometimes a Sunday is the only time open for computing. This center is open from 12 to 5 pm during the school year. It is always packed on Sundays, with a 25 to 60 minute wait. Tempers flare towards the end of the day amongst late arriving patrons who can't reserve a computer because they are all booked until closing. This makes for drama because these patrons are :
1. Pissed off at you because you are sitting at the desk in the computer center that is full.
2. In a last minute panic.
3. Upset because they see kids playing games on the computers they so desperately need.

This puts staff in a bad place.
1. You have to absorb the anger that is directed at you without taking it personally. You are not intentionally denying them access to a computer. The number of workstations is limited and it is based on a first come, first served basis and library staff do not make any kind of value judgments about what patrons do with their system-alloted 1 hour of computer time.

The pace picks up, I'm up and down the aisles, helping people access their government assistance accounts. I help a middle aged man and then a teen boy set up an Email account. I inform residents of Allen County who wish to use library computers that they are required to have library cards. The time goes quickly most of the time. It grinds to a halt when the room is full and there are six people standing in line, each needing personal attention. Or when a small child starts to cry hysterically. Or when there is a special needs patron who requires all of my attention. Or I look at the clock and calculate that I will be here another 4 hours.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

CML and Helene Blowers (s544 #10)

I recently made a trip to Columbus, Ohio to visit with Helene Blowers.(I'm the ham with the cheesy smile on the left, she's the one humoring me on the right.) The manager of the ACPL's IT department (Sean Robinson) really respects Helene and her philosophies regarding a library's relationship with its community and the form that relationship takes. We were given a tour of the CML's opperations Center and had a chance to chat with her team of smart, talented library professionals. Sean interviewed Helene for a podcast and I was struck by several points she made.

But first, a little backstory. Helene is Director of Digital Strategy for the Columbus Metropolitan Library. She is the creator of Learning 2.0 which is series of self propeled learning modules based loosely around free web-based social networking tools like Flickr, Google, Delicious etc.

The beautiful thing about Helene's strategy is that the benefit is way bigger than the sum of its parts. Getting library employees to label themselves life long learners creates a tech friendly state of mind that is much more important than being able to post pictures on the internet for the world to see. These small steps gang together to make technology less scary or silly to a population that might be reluctant to align themselves with something called "Druple" or "Twitter", but might be less threatened by the surge of technology they will be expected to be familiar with. Anyway I had a lovely time in Columbus and you can see pictures of my visit here.