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September 29, 2005

Take My Desktop - Web 2.0 and Libraries

Richard MacManus, in his Web 2.0 Explorer blog entry titled The Web-based Office Will Have Its Day, talks about the many pluses, and few minuses, of a web-based office platform. He details the issues surrounding the corporate world’s possible slow acceptance of such tools – security being top on that list. But for libraries, the emergence of these web 2.0 applications means a radically altered landscape for service delivery at our OPACs. Suddenly it does not matter if your library does or does not offer word processing, spreadsheets, and other office apps. Now all of these things are available online – for free.

It is now (NOW) possible to offer customers MS Office-like applications without having to purchase and install them locally. This means no more licensing issues, no more last-minute security update patches, no more local troubleshooting for lost files, misbehaving dictionaries, and malicious macro fears. And while these new apps do not yet offer all of the abilities found within Word (they soon will) they do offer sufficient capabilities to satisfy 90% of our customers’ needs.

There are greater possibilities here, as well. With the development of more and more robust web 2.0 applications, the need for locally based software applications is greatly diminished, calling into question the need even for a desktop and the powerful operating system that runs that desktop. Suddenly we face the possibility of running simply a browser to access all of our applications, thereby reducing the hardware requirements of the average computer users – look at this development project out of MIT for the $100 laptop, keeping in mind what was just discussed. Where we used to think in terms of open source applications like Open Office we can now think of connectivity as the key – universal connectivity is now the holy grail for cheap computers and computer applications.

Browser + Web 2.0 Applications + Connectivity = Full-featured OPAC

Read To Me

Riding the podcasting wave, several new services allow blogs (and RSS feeds) to be easily converted to audio -- on-the-fly conversion that requires only a simple mouse-click. One such service, Talkr, has been integrated into this blog (notice the new "Listen to this article" link at the bottom of this post entry). The Talkr service has been available for a while now, and the voice isn't bad -- not what we remember from several years ago when it was like listening to a drunk (yet still smarter than me) Stephen Hawking.

Imagine this same type of service being utilized on your library's home page, within its catalog, and on all of its blogs (your library does have blogs, right?), allowing customers to listen to your latest audio-book reviews, your teen events blog, and "discussions" about your new books -- all fed through the talking service of your choice to your customer's MP3 player or computer desktop.

September 26, 2005

Librarians Without Borders

Outreach. More than simply sending some librarian to the local daycare to read stories, outreach in a Library 2.0 world is far better defined by Librarians Without Borders, a small group based out of Ontario, Canada. This plucky group is trying to create a university library in Angola -- the first in what they hope will be many library creation projects in the third world.

Their mission says: LWB strives to improve access to information resources regardless of language, religion, or geography, by forming partnerships with community organizations in developing regions.

September 23, 2005

Web 2.0 MEME Map and a good link

Tim O'Reilly has posted a map of Web 2.0 on his Flickr account.

Also, take a look at this great post on Web 2.0, metadata, and interfaces. There's a good podcast here, too.

Where's MY OPAC Browser?

I want to sit down at the OPAC (another word that needs updated) and have it remember me, either through a login or other, simple, method. I want my bookmarks, my saved titles, my search history. I want to be able to write reviews and make suggestions, I want to add friends to my social network and let them see my reviews and what I've liked and disliked. I want a built-in, fully customizable aggregator, a to-do list, a place to take notes and save files, and I want access to this from any computer in the world, not just the one at my library. All this exists, of course, in bits and pieces -- all of it through Web 2.0. Look to Netvibes, Flickr, NetFlix, Backpack, and many other Ajax developments.

Is anyone listening?

September 22, 2005

Anonymous Blogging

Library customers may request assistance setting up a blog, and something we need to keep in mind is that some customers may be coming into our libraries because they want access to a third-party's computer for reasons of anonymity. With this in mind, there are two excellent resources available. The first is a new guide put out by Reporters Without Borders on anonymous blogging. The other is put out by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on how to blog safely.

Both guides give simple but thorough instructions on how to setup a blog and how to be anonymous in your actions.

Is New York Times Select Failing?

It's only been four days now since the New York Times began charging for access to its Op-Ed writers, but I've already noticed a trend developing.  Looking at the Most Emailed Articles you will now see very few, if any, Op-Ed writers listed, whereas the Op-Eds used to lead this list, with Dowd, Rich and Friedman being the top most emailed writers.  For a while this morning Dowd's latest column was highly emailed, but at 1PM there are no Op-Eds listed. What does this mean? Perhaps nothing, but if the trend continues and the Times cannot get enough subscribers they'll have to reconsider this strategy -- these are huge names and if the readership levels decrease too much it will dilute the power that these writers command, not to mention the strength of the Times Op-Ed page itself.

September 21, 2005

Search for Videos

One of my favorite sites has a great little piece on Truveo, the newest and perhaps the best video search engine out there. A unique feature of Truveo is how they use "surrounding content" to create metadata on the video feed.

Dr. Laurel Anne Clyde of the University of Iceland

Michael Stephens mentioned yesterday on his website the passing of Dr. Laurel Anne Clyde. I never knew Dr. Clyde but I recently read a very good article by her on corporate (or enterprise) blogging. Dr. Clyde was a very forward thinking individual, and in the world of library science this is a highly needed and valued quality.

If you visit her website you will find a wealth of papers, articles, survey results, course outlines, etc. This brings up an important question: what will become of this site? I'd hate to think that her collection of information would be lost. How we manage the knowledge that people like this collect is becoming and important issue.

September 20, 2005

Basecamp, Backpack, and Ta-da List

From 37Signals comes a trio of organizational masterpieces. All three have free versions. If you are in need of organizaition, project assistance, etc., take a look.

I'm trying Basecamp as a project management assistant in the development of a new library branch -- I'll report on its usefulness soon.

Colorado Library Settles

(AgapePress) - A Christian law firm has settled a dispute with a Colorado library that rejected an application to use a community meeting room.

Earlier this year, Florida-based Liberty Counsel applied to use the community room of the Woodland Park Library near Denver for an informative meeting on the biblical perspective of marriage and homosexuality. The application also explained that the meeting would include prayer and scripture reading.

However, the request was rejected because of a standing policy that says meetings that are religious or political in nature must also present a balanced viewpoint. The library director, says Liberty Counsel, stated that someone who could present an opposing viewpoint on marriage would have to be invited to the meeting.


New York Times Select

The New York Times, my favorite online news source, has now begun charging for its Op-Ed columns and feature writers. This is when it's important to remind our library users that current-day articles are available full-text on ProQuest.

Google WiFi

This could be huge. Google has been quietly building a capability to deliver broad WiFi service and now it looks like they're ready to launch. A Google WiFi FAQ (which now appears down) details some of the new service. What this will mean for libraries is uncertain, but if Google's reach is long it may allow some libraries to cancel plans to install WiFi.

NetVibes Aggregator

Netvibes is a new aggregator / homepage. It offers a slightly different layout than Microsoft's Start, but I'm not sure it's worth moving from one to the other. Take it for a spin.