Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thing 23: Summary

First off, I am frightfully ashamed that a program that was designed to take 9 weeks took me nearly two and a half years to complete!  However, I have worked in three different libraries during that time, completed many other trainings, and gathered enough CEUs to renew my librarian's certificate last June, so I guess I can claim to have been a bit busy.  Really though, it's just been difficult to concentrate on this.  When I'm on the desk I do my best to help customers and give them my full attention, and when I'm off the desk I tend to weed, keep up the new books collections, do displays, and other, more physically active library maintenance types of projects.  Despite all that, it has really been worthwhile overall, and I will try to answer the summary questions as best I can:

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

I am very glad to have learned how easy it is to set up a blog, and to now have insight into how many of the blogs I look at are made.  Although I haven't used it much since completing thing 5, I also like the possibilities of Flickr.  Some of the news feed services I learned about, like bloglines and RSS feeds, could be very useful for me to keep up on professional issues. 

How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

It has made me aware that I really do need to think in terms of lifelong learning.  The many dead links I encountered along the way make it clear that even in the relatively short time since this program was conceived, a lot has changed, and it will keep changing at a dizzying pace.  No one can keep up with every development in technology, but I could try a lot harder to keep abreast of key innovations. 

Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

I didn't expect for it to take so long, and analyzing why it has has given me some insights into my work habits and ways that I might improve them. 

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

It might be helpful to organize small groups to work on something like this with a timeline.  Say, do three things and meet up in two weeks to discuss and share findings.  Even if there weren't time to meet in person, maybe an online discussion group with deadlines that break the project down into smaller pieces might help people like me keep to a more consistent schedule.  I also then wouldn't feel guilty about devoting time to something like this when there are other things that need to be done in the library because it would be an assignment that needed to be completed and that others were aware of.  When I'm off the desk I always feel like it looks like I'm not working if I spend much time at a PC, and having assigned deadlines, etc. woul make me feel less like I should squeeze this in at home or at some other time.

If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you again chose to participate?

Yes, definitely!

How would you describe your learning experience in a few words or a few sentences, so we can share our successes and promote this program?

I think that most librarians today are fairly technologically literate and are aware of the need to keep up on emerging technologies.  Knowing that and actually taking action to do that are two different things, though.  A program like 23 Things creates a space in the work week for devoting time to keeping up on technology, and constitutes an acknowledgment by administration that this is a vital and important part of our jobs.

Thing 22: Learn About Audiobooks

Since doing the e-book training and actually looking into it on my own even before that, I am quite familiar with Overdrive and how to download ebooks.  Getting an audiobook from Overdrive onto my iPod was a little trickier, but I have done it, and am looking forward to using this alternative to books on cd since my car cd player is cranky at best!  Project Gutenberg is something I've know about forever it seems, but I did not realize that they offered audio books as well as print.  I am intrigued by the possibility of becoming a volunteer reader through their partnership with Librivox, and plan to look into that further.  The World eBook Fair was a little more confusing, and after examining their site I'm still not quite sure whether I understand what they are offering:  are their titles all public domain ones or are they offering  a very inexpensive way to access more recent titles?  Charging a yearly fee, rather than a per-book cost is an attractive idea, but its attractiveness would depend a lot on a person's interests and how well their selection could meet them. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thing 21: Podcasts

So, Podcasts . . . This is another case where my procrastination on finishing 23 Things has tripped me up a bit.  Only, of the three recommended podcast directories still seems to be functional, but every podcast I tried to access was quite out of date.  So, I think that podcasting may have faded a bit as an interest for people since 23 Things was conceived.  I had listened to podcasts before, mostly downloaded via iTunes, but have never been really into them, because I don't generally enjoy talk radio and found a lot of them too chatty and amateurishly produced.  Nonetheless, I wanted to try to fulfill the assignment to add a podcast feed to my bloglines account, so went to National Public Radio's website to see what they have available.  Fresh Air is a show I've always enjoyed on NPR, but rarely am listening to the radio at the right time to hear it, so decided that would be a good one.  Adding it to my bloglines account was a simple matter of cutting and pasting the feed URL.  Here is a screenshot of my bloglines dashboard, to show the Fresh Air podcast has been added (upper left corner).

Going back to bloglines, which I hadn't used in quite awhile until trying to complete Thing 21, reminded me that there is a lot of good stuff here that I would otherwise miss, so I will try to remember to check it more often from now on!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thing 20: YouTube

Thing 20 is kind of a freebie for me, because I am well-acquainted with YouTube already. I don't see many downsides to YouTube. It's fun, and often informative, and provides a pretty good platform for people to get their quirky, interesting stuff out there. Until recently, I had mostly only been familiar with YouTube as a place to view funny videos friends sent me, but since my ten-year-old son started playing guitar I have learned that there is quite a bit more to it than that. He does actually take guitar lessons in person, but thanks to YouTube, he's been able to get video instructions on how to play many songs on his guitar. It's really a great resource.

Similarly, I could see a great potential for libaries to use YouTube to teach customers how to use some of our more complicated services like e-books. It is often very difficult for people to wade through a lot of printed instructions when dealing with a new technology, and I think that video instructions, with screen shots, etc. might prove very helpful.

Below I've embedded a video recently sent to me by a fellow librarian friend in upstate New York, but which features librarians from nearby Virginia. YouTube in particular, and the internet in general, can make the world seem very small indeed!