LOL Second Lifebrarians. Chill.

Ok, there were a whole bunch of people who rallied on my last Second Life post. (which was actually my second Second Life post). They brought some points that I didn’t address in my first or second post but Roy Tennant talked about on his Blog. I’ll address them all here or at least write until I get bored with talking about SL more.

The trolling nature of my previous post. Lol u mad bro? Really? Chill Second Lifebrarians. Seriously. But I will say that interestingly enough I wasn’t trying to troll, but rather just write something entertaining. I do want to point out that it was one of my most read blog posts and explains to me why people like the Annoying Librarian* an Dan Kleinman get so amped about their blogs. I just found that interesting as a passing thought.

What My Previous Post was Actually About
Here is why I have the negativity for SL. My SLIS made me partake in SL after spending tens of thousands of my tuition dollars on their “island.” ALA spent way too much money on SL (my dues). There are STILL libraries spending my tax dollars on Second Life. I’m negative because so much of my money has gone to support a failed endeavor. So basically after spending way too much of my money and forcing me to spend way too much time learning the interface I then had a number of experiences that would have been fine with a simple link in an email, tweet, FB, G+ hangout, or even myspace post. Hell… I would have settled for a flyer with a QR code on it! It would have been a lot cheaper.

The valuable “work” that librarians are doing there.
I don’t know. I haven’t seen any stats on that. My own experiences were disappointing. Anyway, I’m guessing those stats are not kept but I would say that they should be. Maybe I’d be surprised but I doubt it. The stats I have seen for second life overall are dismal at best and grossly inflated at worst. You can see them here.

I’d also like to point out that the examples of valuable work being done on SL were actually excellent examples of valuable things being done in SL, but really not library related at all. Some people built a car, some people made fractal art, etc… (that is very cool but this is a library blog) The things that people used as an example of library related work were also very cool, but again could have been accomplished by about a thousand other mediums with zero learning curve and as such could include hundreds (maybe even thousands) more librarians to really achieve something great. Instead, a few librarians encased themselves in a format that is an exclusive group by its learning curve, overly large necessary computing capacity, internet speeds, technical skills, etc… Well, I’m glad you could afford all that to create an exclusive group of librarians who loved SL before (and after) it was cool. But then again… As sjclarkfl pointed out, I’m the hipster.

The numbers
Linden labs juiced their stats to artificially inflate their numbers to a million active users. This number is world wide and only .002% of the population at their highest estimate of 15 million but the real numbers are actually around 800 thousand when not calculated by linden numbers (who inflated it to one million most recently). Someone made the ridiculous comment that if we’re going by stats then we should close libraries. Clearly this person didn’t see the numbers on libraries or a library’s ebranch. I guarantee that they are above .002% of the population. (hint- its around 60%)

As I said in my previous post, there are people who make their names in convincing other people (and themselves) of innovative library services. These people often talk about the great new things libraries can use. How great this or that new service, program, idea, or QR code is. But once again I’ll say, that part of being innovative is knowing what things need to just be dropped like a bad habit. (drop eBooks, get eReaders).

Better options
You know, I’m all about solutions and Craig Anderson presented what I thought was absolutely a much better option. Why not go were users actually are? There are tons of MUVEs with millions more active users than SL. Craig brought up the idea of a Library in WOW. I fully support this. I think that if we got a couple dozen librarians with Librarian Avatars in WOW or other popular MMORPGs running around and answering questions for folks, advocating for libraries, or even placing holds on physical books out and having them sent to their local libraries through Link+ or WorldCat. I think, then we would really have something.

I will admit that I don’t often participate in MUVEs these days but that is only because I have a hugely addictive personality and way back in the day I spent huge amounts of time gaming and participating in virtual worlds and now I just don’t have the time to give in to that as I did in the past.

*I know its Annoyed Librarian but she’s pretty annoying*

NJLA Preconference Presentation Materials

Here are my materials from the 2012 New Jersey Library Conference Pre-Conference in Atlantic City. I was going to write more about the presentation itself but then I figured you probably should have just gone to if you want it all anyway. Here is the description of the presentation from the Conference Scheduler-

“Join Patrick Sweeney of East Palo Alto California Public Library and the Great Library Roadshow as he presents some of the exciting innovations in librarianship across the country.

He’ll share ideas on topics such as non-traditional library collections, community-oriented programming, team building, and patron-driven local knowledge creation. Employing open-space technology, you’ll then have the opportunity to share your own ideas and gain knowledge from other attendees in a discussion-driven Unconference session.”

Andrew W.K. Party Hard Video.

I took photos of everyone’s notes from the session and made this video from the collective notes for anyone who wasn’t there. I think this is a cool way to farm the collective knowledge and takeaways of the session from the community of participants.

A Ridiculous but Entertaining Hacker Solution to the Porn Problem.

Eric Riley posted this article to the ALA Think Tank group on Facebook. And, if it works, it could be the solution to all of the library’s privacy on the computers problems. No longer requiring computer filters and all that BS. So I’m sure Sarah Houghton would love it. Basically, the solution works like this;

Remove the LCD’s frame, cutting out its polarized film with a utility knife before removing the screen’s film adhesive with a combination of cleaner and paint thinner and reassembling the monitor. Once complete, grab the glasses, cut out the lenses and combine them with the plastic film removed from the monitor before inserting them back into their frames.

After you do all this, you will be left with a computer screen that will look like a white screen to anyone not wearing the customized glasses. In essence our patrons will be able to have complete and total privacy if wanted.

That being said, of course it’s not a perfect solution for a number of reasons, but right off the top of my head I see these;

  • Anyone wearing the glasses anywhere in the library will be able to see what’s on the screen (kids included)
  • You’ll be stuck with a bunch of folks with sunglasses on indoors (which always looks douchie)
  • You’ll have to supply glasses that have been worn (hardly sanitary)
  • The glasses will get stolen (as does everything else)
  • But anyway, it’s a fairly outside the box and entertaining solution and I’m always down for some creative solutions to problems no matter how radical. I love the thought of it, but maybe not in practice.

    Here’s a video if you want to see it yourself

    Could Google+ Ruin Your Online Personal Brand?

    So I got a google+ invite (just bragging)! While I was exploring this new social media and talking to friends and happily putting them all in all of their specifically labeled circles, I started thinking about the amount of metadata that we are creating for each other and about each other. I started thinking about twitter lists, facebook groups, and other classifications in the multitude of social media platforms that we, our company, or our brand, is being put into against our will and without our control.

    I understand that people have had these concerns with FB already because they are already doing some of it in a way. But I think that Google is slightly different because people “like” a company on FB or “friend” me and its pretty much exclusive to FB, whereas people “Google” me to find all of my online persona or a company’s online presence. These groups and pages in FB don’t have an effect on people’s search results for me within FB. But, my friends’ classification of me could have a strong impact on what search terms are used to find me or have a strong impact on my public online identity.

    Here is another difference, I think. FB uses my groups and likes data to send me more specific and better targeted ads and recommendations. I’m the only one who is really affected by this data because I see the ads and recommendations when I’m online. I see the results of people’s classifications of me. And, for the most part, I’m the only one who does. However, Google can more effectively use this “circle” data to influence the search results for me. Results that anyone can see, that influence how people find me, and that the public can associate with my online brand identity.

    This is because these lists and groups generate a massive amount of metadata about our online persona. I originally thought about Google+’s collection of this data specifically because they are in the search, metadata, and ad business. My first thought was how my friends’ classification of me in circles would affect search results for my public online identity (PC Sweeney) that I spent a lot of time constructing. Would it be completely upended because people started putting me in the “douchebag” circle? Would it be possible that whenever someone searched for “assholes” I would rise to the top of the search results because that’s how people had classified me? Or, would I simply continue to be put in the “librarian” circle? Or even… dare I say it? That searches for “awesome” would bring me to the top of Google searches?

    But, ok… Let’s just say that I’m put in the asshole circle, twitter list, and facebook list (because that’s more fun). How will that affect my job search or my career advancement? People potentially could see my online brand through search results, and people’s classification of me that I am branded as an asshole. My boss, or future boss could learn about this and it could ruin my career.

    While, I think this would be mostly funny, I wonder about larger companies that have been branded by these lists such as BP, PG&E or Walmart. How can they control it? I don’t think they can either. They could try to avoid social media all together to try to limit their classifications. But then what about FB Places or Yelp that automatically generated a social media space for that company? Avoiding social media would be wrong too.

    So what is the solution? In the future, starting now, it is going to be more and more important to not be an asshole and more important to just be awesome.

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    Seth Called Us Out On Our Bullshit And Folks Got Mad

    Ok, yeah, I was going to just ignore this whole thing, but then a couple of other blog posts from librarians kinda got to me (Librarians I love and respect BTW). So, I’m going to throw my two cents at this whole debate since just about every other person in the library world has. And, I’m going to say this – Seth is Exactly Right!

    The thing is that librarians are debating about how Seth perceives the library. Some librarians are making this statement;

    “the article reinforces Godin’s belief in the stereotype of librarian as clerk, declaring that films are “a mere sideline that most librarians resented anyway”, exhorting us to stop “defending library as warehouse”, and arguing that”what we don’t need are mere clerks who guard dead paper” – absolutely right Mr. Godin, but then this ceased to define a librarian many, many moons ago.”

    Or this one;

    “Godin then addresses access to information:

    ‘Wikipedia and the huge databanks of information have basically eliminated the library as the best resource for anyone doing amateur research (grade school, middle school, even undergrad). Is there any doubt that online resources will get better and cheaper as the years go by? Kids don’t schlep to the library to use an out of date encyclopedia to do a report on FDR.’

    He’s right, they don’t schlep to the library to use an out-of-date encyclopedia. They schlep to the library to use a current, up-to-date online one, and databases to write that report on FDR. Online encyclopedias and databases that the library pays for.”

    The problem is that the real root of this article, and the aspects these good folks are arguing against, are problems of perception. Of course, we all know that the library isn’t just a “warehouse of books” and we know some folks use our databases, and we all know that kids shouldn’t use Wikipedia. But unfortunately Seth’s statements are exactly what a HUGE percentage of the population believes. This is our fault. This is the brand that generations of librarians have been reinforcing for years. In fact, some of my favorite library marketing has been about the book brand of libraries. Seth is merely calling us out for not doing our jobs to ensure that we are adequately re-branding libraries.

    In this sense I think Godin hit it just right. Seth is pointing out what a library is in the minds of the average public non-user. Maybe that’s what’s ruffling some feathers? Remember that this guy isn’t a librarian at all. He is library user and an advocate for libraries. He is exactly the kind of person who should be telling us what a library is. He is Joe Public and he has very Joe Public perceptions of the library.

    What we need to do is listen to him, listen to what he says a library is, then talk to the public and see what they perceive the library to be. I bet you’ll get a lot of the same answers. I know that I get these answers when I talk to non-library users. When I talk to people who haven’t been to a library for a couple of years, I usually get the response “it’s a shame people don’t need libraries anymore, all the ebooks and Wikipedia have taken its place. I used to love the library when I was kid.”

    So, to all the librarians who are arguing with Seth (who probably won’t read your blog anyway), I’m going to tell you to do something more productive and market your libraries better. Spend some kind of money on library marketing. I mean real marketing that sends the message about what libraries are in the 21st century. Because a lot of us are what Seth says a library should be. We’re already doing a lot of the things he says we should be doing. We just haven’t told anyone yet, and that’s our fault. Thanks for pointing that out Seth, kuddos to you good sir.

    If you want to win some money by doing this marketing and telling folks what a modern library is…

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    Blogged: Libraries and Online Social Capital in a 2.0 World

    While I was playing around with and finding all kinds of library awesomeness, I decided that I would post one of my own. This presentation isn’t finished and I want to write some blog posts to go along with it because I think I might be on to something.

    Yeah, I know there is a large amount of text on this presentation, but that is so that it makes more sense without me speaking. When I finally get the courage to submit this to a conference to present I’m going to remake it without the text.

    This presentation about the concept of Online Social Capital and how libraries need to be thinking about it when they are creating their online profiles. I haven’t read about anyone thinking about online social capital but everyone is kind of dancing around the subject in various ways. I hope that this concept helps to clear up the question of “Why libraries should be involved in online networks.”

    I won’t go into too much detail in this post and I hope that you get the information you need from this presentation, but expect some future blog posts that expand on some of the key concepts here. Let me know what you think.

    *I am a little frustrated with figuring out how to get the pictures in the presentation to load. Right now there are photos that say that Quicktime and a Decompressor are needed to view the photos. If someone knows how to get that to work I’m all ears.

    Death to the Library Card!

    I’m wondering if libraries should stop using library cards. I have quite a few reservations about the use of library cards and whether or not they actually solve all the problems that everyone says that they do. From my understanding (and I could be wrong) we only use library cards as a method of access to our patron’s accounts and as verification that they have an account and/or are authorized to use that account. They are simply a way for patrons to access their records, place holds, track checkouts, and it’s a way for staff to do pretty much the same thing. Am I missing something else that’s dramatically important?

    There are so many problems with this whole process that really drive me crazy. Some examples are;

  • • Patrons forget to bring their card
    • Printing library cards is expensive
    • Creating a library card takes up staff time
    • The account (usually some number) is assigned to the patron via the card
    • They take up space in the library
    • They take up space in the patron’s wallet
    • Don’t we already have to carry around enough cards?
    • The assumption that the user is the owner of the card or has permission to use it all
  • But, I have a solution to this whole problem. What if we allowed patrons to create their accounts online via our websites? I imagine that this would be done much the same way that you sign up for a Facebook or other online account. These accounts would be user-generated with a username and password that the patrons created themselves. The patron would enter all of their own information and save staff the time of boring data entry. This way, they could remember their username and password and use this when they check-out materials at the self-check machines. They could sign-in to our websites with this information and place items on hold, pay their fines, renew items, etc… Patrons wouldn’t have to carry around extra cards or have to remember long meaningless strings of numbers that we assign them. Nor would we have to worry about lost or stolen cards.

    But how would we know they aren’t creating fake accounts? To this, I also have a solution. When a patron created their accounts online with their personal information and the username and password they want, they would be prompted to visit the library with the proof of address and ID to verify and activate their accounts. When they came to the library they would sign-in and a librarian would verify all of their information and they would have full access to the system.

    Or if you want to speed up the process, the patron could enter their credit card information as a way to verify their account. The benefit here would also be that when the patron has late or printing fees it would be automatically deducted from their accounts. This would eliminate the added aggravation of large overdue accounts and lesson our reliance on debt collection agencies or possibly even (eventually) print management software.

    From then on, when they sign-in to a computer in the library, renew a book, or check-out materials, they would be using the username and password that they created. The patron could easily manage their own account online and update addresses, emails, phone numbers, and all of the other important aspects of online libraries that I talked about earlier. No more cards!

    However, as I was catching up on my listserv I noticed that there already was a similar discussion about library cards and a couple of points were brought up in their defense. I will see if I can answer each of them thoroughly.

    Cards teach responsibility:
    I have heard the argument that library cards teach patrons and especially children an important lesson in responsibility. However, I would say that learning and memorizing user names and passwords in this digital age is just as important of a responsibility. Banking is done online, shopping, and many businesses are managed online or use passwords and usernames for many of their day-to-day activities. I have about 23 passwords that I have to know and I use about a dozen of them everyday.

    Forgotten passwords:
    But what do we do if a patron forgets their password? I imagine it would work the same that it does for forgotten email account passwords.

    Hackers or identity thieves:
    The user can come to the library and show us their ID to access their account and we can fix the problem the same way we do with stolen library cards. Also, I really love how much librarians are convinced that the greatest possible thing someone can steal is a library card and there are probably millions of people desperately trying to get one of these magnificent pieces of plastic! We just can’t imagine someone not wanting to steal something so great as a library card. Or maybe we just really wish it were true. Either way, I always wonder if there is such a huge demand for black market library cards that it justifies out level of concern? I hope so…

    Don’t know how to use a computer:
    This is really the big issue. And one I really get. So I would say that for those folks who don’t know how to use a computer, the library card application would be a great way for them to learn. At the very least we can fill out the online form for them and give them their username and password. So maybe this isn’t as big of a concern as I first thought.

    I would love to hear anyone else’s thoughts about library cards. Maybe I’m missing something really important? If I am, let me know.

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    If you find better websites or use getclicky please email or comment and let me know how you use it. And, as always, comment, criticize, and don’t forget to subscribe.