About Me

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I live on a ranch in West Texas, where my husband, son, and I raise a few cattle. Our only crop is feed for the cows and my husband insists he is a "rancher" rather than a "farmer," although the place we now call home used to be his grandfather's farm. I drive 75 miles to Abilene for my job as a University librarian. I love the job and the drive.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thing 23 - Celebration!

WOW. I had no idea of all the things I would be learning! I've added a lot of new knowledge about what is available on the web and Web 2.0 tools, but I have also added a whole new skill set.

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
My favorite discoveries have been Flickr (although I knew about it, I had never navigated in it), mashups and all the cool online image creation tools, TeacherTube and knowing how to embed videos. Professionally, the most helpful discoveries have been Google Docs, wikis, blogs and how to find relevant ones, and Ning.

How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
No question but that this program has expanded my outlook, afforded me new skills, and built my confidence in meeting the challenges of new technology. I now feel prepared to help move my library forward toward 2.0 or whatever is next. I also feel I can intelligently join into the professional conversation regarding the tension between what our users need and want and what libraries want to be doing.

Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
I am totally surprised at how much I've learned! And I am amazed at the talented people in the world who share their abilities freely on the web, and those that constantly push its limits and force it to evolve.

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
I really liked the format, and I think you have provided links to a variety of information. You might be sure that all the links go where they need to (Furl and Magnolia come to mind. And could you make sure Ning for Teachers is really a Ning?) I especially loved the Common Craft videos!

If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?
Yes, in a heartbeat.

How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities?
23 Things is a door to a million learning opportunities.

Now go and comment on some of the other Players' blogs.
I have, and let me comment to you that I really appreciate Spring Branch ISD opening up this learning opportunity to those of us beyond your doors. It would not otherwise have been possible for me to learn these Things! This is what Web 2.0 sharing is all about: offering your knowledge, your expertise, your time, to all regardless of geography, without a cost barrier, and without prerequisites. Thank you very much!

Thing 22 - Ning

I have a Facebook page but I hardly ever check it, because I haven't had the time to figure out all the bells and whistles so it totally itimidates me. In fact, I didn't join Facebook, I just recieved an email that I had a Facebook page - how does that happen? Anyway, I haven't joined into social networking, but this Ning looks far more civilized.

Ning for Teachers looked more like a blog or a website to me, but I was very impressed with Teacher Librarian Ning. Navigation is intuitive; Ning seems to be very transparent. I like the Group and Forum tabs; joining a group or joining in a discussion would be very easy. I must share Texas School Librarians Ning with my elementary school librarian friend. As of yet, it doesn't have an "elementary school librarian/media specialist" group, so maybe she can start one!

I found a Relevant Libraries/Librarians Ning that really interests me. Their tag line says, "This network was created as a place to explore, discuss, share, collaborate and learn from others about what it takes to remain relevant in the world of academic libraries and librarians." I can see that Nings would be very useful for teachers for student academic projects and for personally keeping up with campus activities or professional discussion. To heck with Facebook, I'm joining the Relevant Librarians!

Thing 21 - Podcasts and Videocasts

Well, I downloaded PhotoStory and enjoyed playing with it. I've made a short podcast about life on our ranch, mainly because the only pictures I have are of cows... :) And I am probably the only person in the universe who doesn't download music, so I have none to add to my podcast because I really didn't feel that any of PhotoStory's music offerings fit my pictures. Also, I don't have a microphone, so I used titles on my pictures rather than narration. For now, this is what you get.

But it is amazing that I can make a video!

Thing 20 - YouTube and TeacherTube

You could spend hours watching videos on YouTube and Teacher Tube. Here is one from YouTube that I would like to share: This Librarian 2.0 Speculates on the Libary 2.0 Debate

I also really enjoyed this video, A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto by Laura Cohen, 2006, but BE WARNED, it includes one topless photo (arty, not distasteful), which is why I didn't embed it. I wondered all the way through how any of the pictures related to the text, and I don't think they do at all - they seem to be from an exotic vacation. I really relate to the text so it's too bad that the one photo will keep it from being shared in a lot of places.

I have to include the ad for Texas History Portal because my library (Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene) has some collections included there.

From TeacherTube, one of my favorites that speaks to the 2.0 future is Did You Know 2.0

Having access to all of these videos will really enhance any presentations and I think people really pay attention to video, so it can be used to illustrate a point or promote discussion.

Thing 19 - Web 2.0 Awards List

First, I had to find out what SEO was: consultants for search engine optimization. OK. The Web 2.0 Awards List was very interesting, and I think this category list will itself be very useful and fun to explore. Of course, many of the tools we have explored in our 23 Things are listed.
I explored Docstoc and at first glance found sample cover letters, curriculum vitae, and application essays that will be very helpful for my neice who plans to apply to law school this fall. Being a government documents librarian, I had to check out the Current Events and the Politics and History sections. The site contains documents written by individuals, businesses, agencies, and other entities, and you can find all sorts of items, both previously published and never published. One of the current features is Sonia Sotomayor's Senate Questionaire. The Education section could be very helpful to teachers. Of course, you can store your own documents there, either publicly or privately.

Since I am interested in creating a wiki for our library, I checked out PBwiki.

Thing 18 - Online Office Tools

I explored Google Docs. This will be so handy for collaborative work at the library and for committee work. I serve on both a Texas TLA committee and a national ALA committee, so of course much of our work has been done by email. Keeping up with everyone's changes is a challenge, but this would make it easy. Collaboration regardless of geography, hurray! Also, this might be a good idea for my subject database list, rather than a wiki, but I will definitely do one or the other so that all of our subject specialist librarians can edit their subject areas.
I uploaded two documents from my home computer (emailed home from the library) that I will now be able to access both places without having to email them back and forth.
I really liked the functionality of Google Docs. You are able to insert comment boxes to draw attention to changes or problem areas, and you can insert flyovers (explanatory text that will appear when you hold the cursor over a link). I think that is so cool! I also like the fact that you can create templates for a spreadsheet so you don't have to keep formatting separate pages. I found the instructions and guides very straightforward and easy to understand. There are so many advantages to using this on any shared project, and your document, spreadsheet, or presentation can actually be published as a webpage when completed. This is a wonderful collaborative tool.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Thing 17 - Rollyo

Rollyo is a great tool for searching the web and ensuring quality results. The video by Bruce Goodner of Spring Branch ISD was a wonderful tutorial for Rollyo. I can see that this would be a very good tool for research projects, especially in middle schools and high schools. Not only is it useful to limit searches to authoritative sites, but the process itself can lead to class discussions about why that is important, critical thinking, and analyzing web results. I made a Rollyo for Library 2.0 because libraries and technology is what 23 Things is all about!

Thing 16 - Wikis

I'm so very glad to learn about wikis. My ALA government documents Round Table (GODORT) uses a wiki but I've never had the confidence to join in. I'm on a committee that has a wiki page and I really did need to figure out how to contribute. Now I know.
I have a current project that can benefit from a wiki. I have developed a subject database list and a wiki would allow each subject specialist librarian to edit their particular subject area. This will save a lot of emails - just like in the Common Craft video. And I believe we will find many more uses for a wiki to communicate among the libary staff.
The example wikis gave me another idea for using a wiki on our webpage for our subject periodical list. It would certainly be easier, and faster, for me to go in and edit the constantly changing periodical list on a wiki rather than having to make a list of changes to send to our webmaster so he can change the periodical subject list webpage in html. I am definitely going to see if I can work this out with him.

Thing 15 - Libraries 2.0

The video A Vision of Students Today should be a must-see for every educator and school librarian, especially those in higher education. In our University library, we often mull over how to keep/make the library relevant to our students when they (and many faculty) seem to believe that every answer and every research topic is available on the web. Sometimes they are even using electronic library resources but don't recognize that the library is involved in supplying that resource to them. However, in the OCLC Newsletter article, "Web 2.0: Where will it take libraries?," Rick Anderson, University of Nevada, Reno, argues that we should focus our efforts on integrating our library resources into the user's daily environment and on removing any barriers to the needed information. Can we do this without being invisible? Perhaps. In that same newsletter, Dr. Wendy Shultz presents a future where libraries look and act very different but are very vital and relevant.
I appreciate those who are able to have a vision of change. This article by John Blyberg, 11 reasons why Library 2.0 exists and matters, considers the needed changes revolutionary and not just adaptive. Although written in 2006, we are still dealing with the questions he raised. I feel that our profession - both the professions of education and librarianship - are slow in responding to the possibilities that Web 2.0 has opened up. But people everywhere outside these professions are grabbing these possibilities with gusto, as we have learned through these 23 Things. Are we helping to prepare our students to succeed in this fast-paced, sharing, collaborative, super-creative world, or do they feel they have entered the Stone Age when they get an assignment or come to the library? Hurray for those teachers and faculty who are changing their teaching styles, involving their students, and incorporating 2.0 tools. Hurray for those libraries that are embracing physical and virtual change to become user-focused. Hurray, and thank you Spring Branch, for helping us take these small steps forward into the Library 2.0 world! We'll get there. We may not be the engine, but we won't be the caboose, either.

Thing 14 - Technorati

Technorati is interesting. I like the idea of a search engine for blogs, because as was expressed in the video, blogs are the "voice of the people." This is the grassroots. And I increasingly understand the value of popularity, and in the Technorati world, popularity in the case of blogs seems to lend a little more "authority" to them. I did a search for "Library Learning 2.0" in tags (3), blogs (61), and posts (38), which illustrates how tagging affects search results. Each Thing is building my knowledge. I think I might look at the social bookmarking sites a little differently now, because I understand a little more about the value of popularity. This points out that you might want to use some of the "recommended tags" in addition, or especially, if your own tag is a little esoteric. I guess, however, I still value tagging mostly for its search and discovery aspect - tags make information more "findable." I can see that advertisers could take advantage of tags to target ads. Also, it is interesting to me how different sites take advantage of tags - the tags on Delicious definitely help you find information, yet the tags on Flickr did not seem as beneficial to a search. I could not "re-find" the photos I had found before. Perhaps their search engine needs to utilize tags better. Learning, learning - I found Technorati a lot more useful in this Thing than I did when I first encountered it in Thing 9.

Thing 13 - Tagging and Social Bookmarking

This Thing has helped me understand Delicious. I've seen tag clouds on some of the blogs I've visited. As noted in the comments below Thing 13, the link to Furl sends you to Diigo, but the Furl tutorial is still available. I also watched the tutorial on Diigo. I really liked Diigo and I think it would be very useful to be able to highlight relevant parts of information pages, especially to share. I can certainly understand the utility of saving information by bookmarking on the web rather than to a single computer. Professors could use Diigo and save putting materials on reserve or uploading to a utility like Blackboard, I would think. I like the idea of tagging with whatever term is meaningful to you - we know from our OPACs and some databases that controlled vocabulary is a pain. Magnolia is still not available. I wasn't all that impressed by Digg or Reddit; I'm sure it's just me. Social bookmarking and tagging would have value to me in 1)using tags to find similar relevant material (search and discovery); 2) being able to bookmark and store information on the web for access anywhere, anytime (store and organize); 3) being able to share specific webpages and sites by pointing people to my bookmarks (access and sharing). I understand that tagging contributes to popularity, but just to find out what is the most popular ideas or sites on the web right now has little appeal to me. If I had the time, any time, it might be fun to follow NewsVine, Mixx, or even Fark, and I liked Twine a lot. If I could...

Thing 12 - Commenting to create community

When I resumed work on my 23 Things today, I was surprised to find that I had a comment on one of yesterday's posts. It was a note that acknowledged my work and encouraged me to continue, encouragement that was very much appreciated since the deadline is looming ominously. Personal experience that commenting builds community and is essential feedback to a blogger. Points that especially struck me in the readings for Thing 12 include the fact that most writers want to be read, so recieving a comment serves as acknowledgement or validation, or at the very least, notice. Leaving a comment can give someone that same acknowledgement and notice, and further, is as much a sharing responsibility for the reader as writing was to the original poster. Also, I agree that it is important to acknowledge comments that you receive - a response lets the commentor know his note was received, read, and valued. Posting in a blog is about sharing what you know or feel, and the interaction of comments and responses furthers the sharing, communication, and dialogue, like a conversation. Now I view comments as contributions, so I will resolve to make mine more than "hey that's great." Comments encourage community because they can serve as an introduction and encourage a visit to the commentor's place.
I've left comments on five other Library2Play blogs. I'll get to the outside blogs later. Believe me, after this Thing, I will be posting comments to the blogs I follow.

Thing 11 - LibraryThing

Super easy! I created an account and added 5 books to _my_ library in about a minute. I think each search for my book records took less than 2 seconds. I checked out the groups and there are several that I could join: Medieval Europe; Historical fiction; Crime, Thriller and Mystery; and Poetry Fool. I have several friends with huge book collections that NEED LibraryThing and now that I know how it works, I'll be leading them to it. This is THE thing for booklovers and reading lovers. And I can see small libraries using it also, in fact, our local zoo was looking for a way to organize their small collection - perhaps they could use this.

Thing 10 - Online Image creators

Oh, my this has been really fun! I can't wait to tell my friend Marty about the Scrapbook and Photocard templates on Custom Sign Generator as well as the other fun tools there. This is a site that I will use often on a personal basis, and we could find some really fun ways to promote our library resources and ourselves with these tools. It's similar to Big Huge Labs which I fell in love with in Thing 6. I really like Image Chef as well. This is great for eye-grabbing poster messages, and I loved the bumper sticker maker. My favorite fun image creation (at least today) was this picture created in Dumpr and I found a really fun cartoon of a librarian in Comic Strip Generator. Check it out here and make one of your own. I did!
I look forward to playing more with beautiful word clouds in Wordle - it is really cool!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thing 9 - Finding useful blogs

Well, finding useful blog feeds is an interesting enterprise, as I found in Thing 8. Google Blog Search seemed to work the best for me, not only perhaps because Google offers so much familiarity in its interface, but also because I found the most helpful and interesting results through Google Blog Search. Here I found the Free Range Librarian (a very good site, I thought) and the Librarian Avenger (interesting attitude). This is also the only search tool that gave me Learn-gasm, which had a list of the 100 best blogs for librarians, a very helpful site.
I did not like Bloglines very much, but here I found the Renegade Librarian, but its posts were from 2006. Since the default search is to find posts rather than feeds, you must remember to change the search parameters or it is really confusing. The same is true for Technorati, but its interface was so much easier and more intuitive in reminding you to search blogs rather than posts. Here I found Tame the Web, which I also thought was a very good blog. I liked Topix, and got excellent results with it for news feeds.
Edublog's award winners was a good exercise in experiencing different blog styles. Some use really long posts, some are organized very well, and some are full of ads. Looking at each of the "best" for libraries was time consuming and not that helpful since I really only liked one of them, Hey Jude. Syndic8 totally confused me and I did not like it at all.
I used the same search terms in all of these tools, and it is interesting that I got such a wide variety of results, and a different set of blog results from each one. I still believe I got the most relevant results, the blogs that I would choose to form my Circle of the Wise, from Google's Blog Search.

Thing 8 - RSS feeds

I really liked the video explaining RSS in Plain English. I have often wondered about RSS, but I was afraid that I would be inundated with posts. It seems that email is so time-consuming sometimes, that I thought if I added RSS feeds, I would never get anything done. I am delighted to find out how RSS simplifies things and saves time by eliminating visits to individual web blogs and sites. In fact, I now appreciate RSS since it will allow me to keep up with current trends from sites I would want to visit if I had the time. Recently, ALA adopted a collaborative workplace/social network site where Round Tables and Divisions can post their goings on, but again, I thought, who has time to check every website and wiki from groups they belong to? RSS will enable me to keep up with my committee responsibilities by pushing updates out to me, and help me keep up with changes that effect my work in government documents by pushing new information out to me. I've selected Google Reader, and added 5 feeds: the Federal Depository Library program: information which daily affects my job; Free gov info: a blog that will keep me current on the latest issues in government information land; the ALA gov docs Round Table network: to keep me current on issues important to government documents librarians and keep me updated on my committee work; a blog on library technology, LibrarianInBlack: very interesting!; and a fun blog: the Unshelved comic strip. I shall be a very current and updated librarian!

Thing 7 - Google tools

Oh, my goodness, I never realized how many cool tools Google has to offer. It's not just your mother's search engine! I've created an alert for news regarding "government transparency." As a government documents librarian, I am keenly aware of and interested in free public access to government created information, and actions taken to hide, or at least, not disseminate information that we citizens should have a right to see (of course, I am not talking about information that would affect national security).
I am also thrilled to use Google calendar - this will eliminate the problem of having something written on my calendar at work but not at home. My family and colleagues will be so happy that I won't be forgetting my schedule anymore (or at least I won't have an excuse!) I certainly wish I had known about Google Docs earlier in the summer, when I was working on a database list and emailing my word document back and forth from home to work and vice versa! Now I will be able to work on a project anywhere, and get feed back from my colleagues during the process. This is awesome!
I really enjoyed customizing an iGoogle homepage. I was aware of Google Scholar, but this gave me a chance to really check it out.
I will be checking out the other cool things that Google has to offer!

Thing 6 - Mashups

It amazes me how people have come up with so many of these mashups and wonderful things to do. I loved the Big Huge Labs site. I especially liked the Mosaic Maker and the Trading Card apps. I will be returning to explore more of these fun things, and I have made note of so many possibilities for using pictures in instruction and promotional materials, as well as personal applications like calendars and mosaics. These toys are awesome! Here's a trading card for our ranch.

Thing 5 - Flickr

I love Flickr! What an amazing place to share pictures. You could spend hours and hours looking at things here. It must take some time to figure out the navigation, because it has been hard for me to re-find some of the pictures that I have found so interesting, even though I noted what tag labels they carried, and in some cases, the names of the photographers. But, practice makes perfect, as they say, so this is definitely a site that I will use again and again.

I have heard of the Creative Commons licensing, but it is very nice to know that we can use these pictures - now I am no longer limited to ClipArt!

This picture by Eneas touched me as an illustration of the fact that we are more same than different. The caption is "Close your eyes, open your heart" - isn't it wonderful!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back at it!

Wow, what a summer! I always think there will be more time, but there never is. I've been to ALA, TLA, and doing work for the United Way. Well, I guess I work better under pressure, so it's time to buckle down for the rest of the Things!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Well, my confidence suffered a little with the avatar problem. I had tried to use the Picture gadget, but kept getting the message that my URL was invalid. Finally, I downloaded my avatar to my computer and then added it as a picture. Whew! Now I'm ready for some more Things!

Monday, June 22, 2009

23 Things: Thing 3

Ok, I give up. I cannot get my avatar to show. I had fun creating her. I've gone to export in Yahoo avatars, and I've copied the HTML code into the HTML/Java gadget in my blog, but all that shows is a little box with an x in it. Someone please help! I've looked at the Dashboard to try to get a clue, but I can't figure it out. I guess I'll try to continue without her.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

23 Things: Thing 2

The 7 1/2 habits were more approachable than I expected; not to say "simpler," but rather that I could relate them to myself more easily than I expected. The one habit I must work on is having the confidence in myself that I am competent enough to learn these new technology things. I've set up a blog! Hurray! And now it's out there for everyone to see...that's when the confidence tends to diminish.

The major thought I have about life-long learning was emphasized by the last "habit" - play. To me it means "be curious." Take the time to follow your curiosity. Time, of course, being one of the challenges, but just imagine, where that curiosity could take me.