Archive for June, 2007

Post Number Four: Library Link of the Day

June 30, 2007

One of the library-world websites that appeals to me is Library Link of the Day.  This site will be familiar to many of you who are web-savvy and/or who have been working in the library world for some years.  It is worth a look for anyone not familiar with it.  Each day the website selects a web page from the internet that contains interesting information related to the library world.  The source may be a journal, like Library Journal, or a newspaper, or a web-based publication, or a library site, or someone`s blog.  Each web page that is chosen becomes that days syndicated piece.  The user may choose to view the link of the day and move on, or subscribe to the website either through an RSS feed or by an email application, both of which are free.

To me, one of the best things about this site is that it introduces the library worker  to  a wider world of digitally based library conversations.   The explanatory matter on the home page makes it clear that this is a prime function of the site.  There is a link within the introductory paragraphs that will bring up a categorized group of library blogs, and often within any given web page that is selected as the Link of the Day there are other links to library blogs with interesting content.  I think this is a fine, creative use of RSS.  For someone who may not know where to start exploring the biblioblogosphere, this site should be recommended.

Another aspect of this site that I admire is that the content is so varied and carefully chosen that it is bound to appeal to  people working  in vastly different areas of the library community and entice them to learn something about areas that may be unfamiliar to them.  The content comes from libraries and publications all over the world.  If one of the most important facets of the internet is the opportunity it provides for growing the individual`s imaginative participation in a wider world, then Library Link of the Day  is another example of how that growth can be made  easily available.

All entries are archived with links on the home page, so that if you are on vacation for a month without internet access (hard to imagine), you can catch up on your LibLinks afterward.  However, one can`t wait too long.   Some of the links in the archive (which goes back over four years) ‘die’ as the source moves on creating new content.  A surprising number of the older links remain active, however, and some of those web pages that do not come up can be brought up with a search of the source website.

The content made available here falls into many categories.  Today`s link (June 30) is focussed squarely on web communications, as Bradley Horowitz (a chief designer for Yahoo) discusses the feasibility of creating a “universal resolver,” a code protocol for identifying every entity one could possibly refer to, without confusion.  Other web pages linked by this website discuss matters as diverse as privacy issues,  social networking and copyright, library practices instruction,  and  digital rights management.  There are personal essays, such as one about the uniquely humane atmosphere of bookish places.  There are stories of people in the library community, such as Jackie, a homeless woman who reads as if her life depends on it.  There are stories of people, such as a digital publisher in Egypt, who are remaking our world and directly affecting our libraries.

Anyone who hasn`t given this site a try is in for a treat.  I would recommend delving into the archived links and looking for stories and ideas that intrigue you.  You will find an occasional  lapsed link, but the hunt will be worth it.

Post Number Three: Blog People?

June 16, 2007

The other day I was perusing David Lee King`s blog and came across his post concerning the recent internet activity of the distinguished librarian and teacher Michael Gorman.  Mr. Gorman had previously expressed views about blogging in a Library Journal article (“Revenge of the Blog People” February 15, 2005) that suggested that the whole enterprise of blogging is not as serious as the enterprise of print publication, and that bloggers generally are not serious readers, writers, or thinkers.  It was, then, deliciously ironic for Mr. King to find that Mr. Gorman was expressing his latest thoughts about the phenomenon of Web 2.0 in the form of a blog post on a blog platform provided by Encyclopedia Britannica.  As David put it: “…its just so hard not to write about this.”

 Michael Gorman`s essay in the Britannica blog (in two parts) is titled: “Web 2.0: The Sleep of Reason.”  Mr. Gorman expresses the view that the culture of print is far more useful than the culture of digital representation because print publication involves a tradition of careful editing and of responsible use of authentic sources, while the nascent digital culture has no such established tradition.  Mr. King (rightly, I think) points out with a dash of glee that Mr. Gorman`s blog post purports to be about Web 2.0, but in fact has nothing to do with it.  Mr. King leaves the impression that Mr. Gorman misses the whole point of Web 2.0 and that, despite his assertion that he is not an “Antidigitalist,” Mr. Gorman is opposing some of the best new things the internet has to offer (e.g. Web 2.0).

I am myself an old fashioned guy, a middle-aged bibliophile with a healthy respect for the traditions of the print culture.  I naturally empathize with Michael Gorman`s apparent unease in the presence of a rapidly changing literate world that is moving inexorably in the digital direction.  I believe, however, that the print culture that Mr. Gorman seems to want to defend really doesn`t require a defence as such.  The culture of the book has a lot of life left in it.

More to the point, the digital means of expression such as the weblog are more like a new toolkit than a different way of approaching the process of writing, editing and publishing.  It may be, as Mr. Gorman believes, that most of what you may read in any given blog is not necessarily well written or well thought out or does not rise above the level of navel-gazing.  Yet I suspect that most readers understand the limitations of the form, as well as its possibilities (e.g. the wealth of associations provided by links).  I also suspect that if we conducted a grand analysis of everything printed since Gutenberg, we would find that the majority of it might fit Mr. Gorman`s definition of junk (whatever that might be).

As I view the literate world, we can be both book people and blog people.  We don`t have time to read everything, but then we never did.

Post Number Two: One I Like

June 3, 2007

My first post was devoted to an examination of my own public library`s website within the context of the library 2.0 model. This time I am pointing out a public library website that I think is particularly successful in concept and design. This is the Skokie Public Library website:

When I look at the home page for this site, three things strike me at once: the clean, uncluttered, inviting look of the overall design; the way the central imagery (the astronaut figure) draws the viewer in to the message about their summer reading program; the way site allows the visitor multiple avenues for searching within a simple frame.

To begin with the design elements, the colored tabs at the top take the visitor to the more popular or obvious categories of library service for advice about what`s new at the library. The sidebar (to the left) provides a nicely organized menu of tabs-within-tabs that allow a more in depth presentation of services.

The central panel (with the astronaut) obviously serves as a kind of changable billboard to promote library programs. Many public library sites don`t have any such changable element in their designs. If you want to connect with the 2.0 generation, I suspect that this site, both tab-organized and malleable, would be one to emulate.

As to the ways in which this site allows a more user-friendly search than most, I would draw the visitor`s attention to the bottom of the home page. There you will see an “automatic site translations” device: a box with five languages represented (Chinese, Greek, Korean, Russian and Spanish). Any visitor to the site may click on any of these language signs and the content of the entire site is then rendered into that language.

Next to the translations device is a little sign that says “visit SkokieNet.” Clicking on that brings up a website,

that is an information network devoted to providing the latest municipal and regional information for the Skokie patron. Partly sponsored and organized by the Skokie Public Library, SkokieNet draws participating organizations from commercial, non-profit, and governmental spheres into a single information site. This site is twelve years old, which suggests to me that Skokie was ahead of the curve in the Ninties. There are still many communities who don`t have a site like this now.

True, this site does not suggest that RSS feeds and DVD downloads from the homepage are around the corner. From a library 2.0 point of view, the Skokie PL site still needs some work. Yet I can`t help feeling that this is a site that reaches out to its patron base in a stylishly effective way, and succeeds in drawing its patrons in to use their library. That is really what it should be all about.