Blending Libraries and IT Organizations

There will be an interesting discussion later this week on Blending Libraries and IT Organizations:

As technology and data become increasingly intertwined, many small liberal-arts colleges are combining their IT organizations and libraries to better serve students and faculty members. Xavier University, in Cincinnati, has embraced that model wholeheartedly (The Chronicle, January 18). It is constructing a new building to house the new organization, has scrapped the position of chief librarian, and has reduced the number of books in its library. Xavier is determined to make the new organization work, but some colleges have seen such mergers collapse because of cultural clashes between librarians and technology workers. Will more colleges adopt a blended organization? What are the keys to a successful marriage between the units? How do the roles of librarians and technology workers change?

I haven’t read the article yet – but I will before the 31st (which is when the chat will begin). This sounds like an interesting talk – although I’m not sure what they mean by “blending” IT & Library orgs – which is why I have to read the article :)

First Skype Call

Today I had my first Skype call/interview. It was an interesting experience. It was for a podcast that will appear on Talking with Talis once I’ve started my new job. One big tip – find a place without distractions or dogs!! My house has an open floor plan and it’s freezing out today so my pups were indoors and decided to play with each other while I was on the call (something they almost never do).

As for Skype – what a great tool! You can use it to voice or text chat. You can also use it for playing games (like on Meebo) and other things I haven’t figured out yet :) It’s free to download and install – so you have nothing to lose by trying it out.

If you’re interested my Skype username is the same as all my others “nengard”

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Rabbit-Ear Users Don’t Know The End (of Analog TV) Is Near

This from a post on the NY Times Bits blog:

In less than 14 months, any traditional television set still connected to its antenna will receive nothing but static, as the broadcasting industry cuts over completely to its new digital frequencies.

A recent poll by the marketing arm of the cable industry shows that most people still have no clue this is going to happen.

In a telephone survey in November of 1,017 people, only 48 percent said they had heard about the switch to digital television. And only 17 percent correctly identified 2009 as the year that analog television will be cut off. (The survey had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.)

Did you know this? I didn’t! Not that it really bothers me – I’m all digital at home (DVR included) – but this may be a shock to people like Dan and others I know who don’t have digital cable.

Code4Lib Journal

The first issue of the Code4Lib Journal has been released and the TOC looks pretty enticing – now I just have to find time to read some of these articles.

Thankful Anytime

While Thanksgiving has passed, I can be thankful anytime and I want to repeat Michael’s thanks to LISNews & Blake Carver.

I’m also thankful for LISNews and the hosting services that Blake Carver provides. He puts up with the mountains of spam comments TTW gets as well as all my strange requests. If you are thankful for the sites and services Blake provides also, head on over to:

to make a donation of any size to the efforts of the LISNews folks!

Blake provides an awesome service and is always responsive – something rare among the world of web hosts! While I don’t use his web hosting services (I didn’t know about them when I started this blog), I do use his services for other hosting needs and he’s awesome! Thanks Blake!

EverNote for Free! (1 day only)

I mentioned when I started my new job that EverNote is an essential tool. Well I just found out via LifeHacker that you can get the $50 version of EverNote for free for today only.

Don’t miss this offer – unless you care about the limitations:

Please note that the software you download and install during
the Giveaway period comes with the following important limitations:
1) No free technical support
2) No free upgrades to future versions
3) Strictly non-commercial usage

Everything is Miscellaneous

This is not a review – so much as it is a review of points that have stuck with me from my reading of Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger. I’m not done yet – but I can’t hold it in anymore – and my husband is tired of listening to me rant about library-type stuff :)

Point one: Allowing users to write reviews:

When I was at the NFAIS Humanities Roundtable, I faced this very question. “Why would we want to let amateurs write reviews?” and “Publishers will pull their content if we let them do that!” It was for this reason that I found page 59 so funny!

[Greg] Hark remarks. “Publishers said you’re allowing users to say that they hate a book.” The response from Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, as Hart recalls it, was: “It will sell more books…just not ones customers don’t like.”

This was in response to Amazon allowing users to review books in their store – and it’s perfect! My answer at the conference was another question. What’s to stop a professional reviewer from saying they hate the book? The fact of the matter is that the average reader cares more about what other readers think than what professional book reviewers think – at least I do!

Point two: Library catalog limitations:

Weinberger points out (on page 119) that when looking at a record in a library card catalog:

Generally you will not find how well the book sold, if it’s been banned in any countries, a list of the books it cites, the college the author attended, what the reviewers said about it, the full index from the back of the book, or how many times it’s been checked out of the library…

Now, while we aren’t using cards to store our data anymore (well most of us aren’t) we’re still following the same rules – and more importantly, we’re still thinking about how much time it would take for us to add that extra metadata.

This is the beauty of LibraryThing’s new Common Knowledge – while it doesn’t have all of these things it does have some and they’re adding new fields all of the time! I love it! One day I spent hours just filling in all of the info I could find on my favorite authors – not a great use of time – but so useful to someone searching for that book!

Point three: Knowledge is social:

Starting on page 144, Weinberger discusses our education system here in the U.S. and how we’re taught to work in silos. Students are made to sit and take tests to measure what they’ve learned:

The implicit lesson is unmistakable: Knowing is something done by individuals. It is something that happens inside your brain. The mark of knowing is being able to fill in a paper with the right answers. Knowledge could not get any less social. In fact, in those circumstances when knowledge is social we call it cheating.

When I was in college, I lived with my husband (boyfriend at that time) and we took many of the same classes – since we had the same degree. We would sit and do our homework together and yes, come up with the same answers. Most of the professors were okay with this as long as we could fill out those test papers on our own come exam time – all except one – but we won’t go there. Now, Weinberger guarantees that students are on IM, chatting while doing homework – which probably ends up with the same result – shared knowledge. This – in my eyes – is the way of the world! You learn so much more by sharing with others than you do sitting alone at your desk. This is part of the reason why I started this blog – I wanted to share what I was learning so that others could learn too.

Two more quotes from Weinberger in this section that made me interrupt my husband as he tried to read his book last night …

Memorizing facts is often now a skill more relevant to quiz shows than to life … One thing is for sure: When our kids become teachers, they’re not going to be administering tests to students sitting in a neat grid of separated desks with the shades down.

So true!! And:

One of the lessons of Wikipedia is that conversation improves expertise by exposing weaknesses, introducing new viewpoints, and pushing ideas into accessible form.

Long story short – knowledge should be shared! And in doing so learning will be more valuable.

More points to come:

I’m only 1/2 way through with the book – and I’m sure I’ll have more to share with you as I finish – if you haven’t read the book – I highly recommend it just based on the first 150 pages and the conversations that I’ve seen spring up from it!


I bookmarked this resource ages ago – but apparently it was only recently released:

The first official alpha version of Google’s OCRopus scanning software for Linux was released yesterday. OCRopus is built on top of HP’s venerable open-source Tesseract optical character recognition (OCR) engine and is distributed under the Apache License 2.0.

OCRopus uses Tesseract for character recognition but has its own layout analysis system that is optimized for accuracy.

OCRopus sounds like an interesting tool – but probably doesn’t come close to a tool like FineReader – which is the most awesomest OCR package I’ve ever used!

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Library Tech Support Hub?

Via LibVive:

Public libraries are the natural venue for tech support problems to get fixed. Libraries care about people’s access to information, right? How about if we tack on an extra $1 to the cost of every new computer — and then fund libraries to stay open some extra hours in the evening (or on the weekend) so that people can bring their computers to be attended to?

A very interesting idea from Phil Shapiro at PC World.

CMS Presentation

Last night I gave a talk on the value of the content management system (CMS) at the Princeton Public Library. Most of it was live demos of Drupal, Joomla and the Jenkins Law Library intranet (a homegrown CMS), but I also had a few intro slides that are now on my Publications & Presentations page