Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Now that we all have some time to catch our breaths

after finishing (almost) all of our term work, take a look at Doris Lessing's acceptance speech,
for the Nobel Prize for literature. I feel like anything I said about it would be rather feeble in comparison to her words themselves, but I'll just say that I thought it brought together a lot of the things we've been discussing all term many of our classes. And forgive me for saying this on a blog devoted to an information technology course, but it underlined for me that the BOOK is still the most useful, portable, accessible way to convey information, especially in areas without electricity. Perhaps instead of one laptop per child, we might want to start with one book per child?

By the way, I actually stumbled on this speech while searching for information about Nicholas Carr's assertion that a second-life avatar consumes as much electricity as the average Brazilian, when you take into account the electricity needed by second-life user PCs, second life servers, and the air conditioners in second-life data centres. Of course, this calculation does not even include the energy needed to manufacture PCs and servers themselves! While energy is required to manufacture and transport books, build libraries, heat and cool them, etc., I think it's worth considering whether more intensive computer use by libraries choosing the "Library 2.0" route is ecologically sustainable.

Two interesting things to think about - the hunger for books and energy-sucking second-life avatars. But now I'm off to bake cookies, and knit myself a new winter hat (better enjoy these cold winters while we have them, after all!).

Friday, November 30, 2007

just in case

I ever get a reference question about the history of the Mason jar, I now know where to go:

Barclay, John C. The Canadian fruit jar report : an illustrated book of all known Canadian fruit jars and produce jars, plus a brief history of the glass works in Canada. Kent Bridge, Ont: J.C. Barclay.

(FYI, this book popped up in the results list for a title search on "History of the Book in Canada." If you ever want it, it's at the ROM Library, where all the fruit-jar enthusiasts hang out.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007


A friend let me know about a tool to test blog readability. I couldn't figure out what the test was based on (sentence length? word choice?) but here's the surprising result!

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Greenstone Software - My Evaluation

My report is addressed to the director of a mid-sized public library system (referred to throughout as “the Library”), which is interested in partnering with community groups to create an online digital library of local history materials such as photographs, posters, pamphlets and maps.

Conclusion and Recommendations: Greenstone digital library software meets the Library’s needs for a low-cost and functional tool for building an online digital library. The software is reputable, stable, customizable and has been used successfully in public-service and educational settings. However, usability, training and support are areas of concern. The next step for the Library should be to implement a pilot project using Greenstone to create a local history collection on a small scale. During the pilot project, library staff should investigate Greenstone’s usability, assess support options and evaluate human resources and training needs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion: ROM Podcasting

If you're interested, check out the Podcast that I prepared while an intern at the Royal Ontario Museum in the Summer of 2006. It was fun and easy to prepare, and made a change from entering metadata about digitized photographs from the ROM collection. There are also several other podcasts from the ROM available through this link, and also through iTunes. Unlike some other museums with more sleek-looking podcasts, the ROM gave its employees free rein to develop, write and film their own shorts on topics that interested them. This means that some of the podcasts are better than others, but always on interesting and often obscure topics.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Miller and Chad's Library 2.0 white paper: My Two Cents' Worth

I was recently asked to review this "white paper" released by Ken Chad and Paul Miller and Talis in November 2005. Here's a summary of my conclusions:

The Library 2.0 concept is still young, and library professionals need to be cautious in implementing Miller and Chad’s vision of a web-driven, information-rich utopia. Their paper provides an accessible overview of the Library 2.0 concept, but fails to provide sufficient evidence to show that a Library 2.0 approach is necessary in an Internet age. Practical and theoretical problems in implementing the approach are also not explored in the Talis white paper. The need to clarify types of libraries and users served by a Library 2.0 approach is but one such example. The work of Hopkins and Leckie and Walt Crawford suggests several further avenues of exploration: the role of library buildings in shaping the library experience, the incursion of private technology companies into public space in Library 2.0 and the use of libraries for purposes other than information-gathering.

I found Walt Crawford's Summary of the Library 2.0 debate very useful for this assignment, as well as the following article, which is a very thorough and interesting study of the users of central reference libraries in Vancouver and Toronto:

Leckie, G. J. & Hopkins, J (2002) The public place of central libraries: findings from Toronto and Vancouver. Library Quarterly 72 (3) 326-72.

I look forward to reading the conclusions of my classmates at FIS regarding the white paper.