Thursday, October 16, 2008


A lot of what was covered in this program, I was already familiar with to some extent. My favorite segment was, unsurprisingly, the games section. The one I surprisingly didn't quite get was Second Life. It just seemed like a time-waster to me, as I couldn't figure out how to get anyplace interesting/relevant.

Since this program was put in place, I started blogging fairly regularly on the Marysville blog, but I'm not really sure that it's related as I was already familiar w/ blogs.

On a somewhat side note, I just recently joined Facebook. Again, not necessarily as a result of this program, but because I found that several people close to me are on it. Facebook is merely an extension of my off-line life.

I think that the value in this program was thinking of these various Web 2.0 tools as a suite. In other words, putting them together in my mind and thinking of their value in librarianship.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gaming in the library

Games online can be either pure entertainment, or somewhat educational. The ones that are more towards the educational, parentally-approved ones probably tend to be less entertaining, but not necessarily. And even the nominally purely entertaining games teach something. The question is, what? In a library setting, gaming can be a draw for those who wouldn't otherwise be interested in stepping foot in a library, whether it be for a formal gaming program put on by the teen librarian, or just to use the computers to play online, such as what we tried in this week's assignment. On the other hand, it can cause other patrons to get huffy when all of the computers are in use, when they have more "important" things to do on the computer than gaming. I even once read a magazine article to the effect that the reason students these days do so poorly on tests of geographic knowledge is that libraries are putting on fluff gaming programs. Of course, that argument supposes not only that games aren't educational at all, but that the poor, unsuspecting gamers would be in the library studying geography if it weren't for those pesky librarians' gaming programs.

One time I asked my son why he likes his video games so much, and he said that it's better than reading because in a game, he is an integral part of the story. If he wants to putz around in a particular area, he can, and if he wants to drive the story forward and have adventures, he can do that, too.

Then again, libraries have this faith that once we get someone in the door, we can interest them in reading. It would be very nice to see some empirical, even strong anecdotal evidence to that effect, and I haven't yet.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Google Earth vs Google maps

This week I explored Google Earth. I downloaded the (free) program, and used it to see Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Tegucigalpa, Honduras (the Honduran capital), my parent's house in Colorado, and find directions to Neah Bay, WA from my house. Then I compared doing those same activities in the standard Google Maps available from the main Google page, both in the map view and in the satellite view. Both have their advantages and disadvantages:
  • Google Earth gives a smooth "flying movie" look to traveling to a particular spot. It also offers a way to change the point of view. Google Maps is much jerkier, like a series of photographs.
  • Google Earth gives great, building-level detail for Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and links to actual street-level photographs. Cool! Google Maps doesn't give nearly that level of detail and blanks out at a certain point. Neither one gave any detail for Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
  • Both gave good directions from my house to Neah Bay, including the ferry ride, but Google Maps was easier to read by far than Google Earth.
  • Both gave identical satellite photos of my house, late in the day in spring.
  • Google Earth gives users a neat way of labeling personally important locations and sending them to or sharing them with other users.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Second life

Well, I created a Second life account: I'm KathyLynn Heliosense. I created my avatar and poked around a bit, and I guess I don't get it. Um, how am I supposed to find things? Walking around got boring after a while, and flying was faster but still seemed pointless. I've heard about an information island, but didn't know how to even start looking for it. I have seen an archived author interview on Second life, which was interesting. I guess it's great if you know the layout of where things are and can find interesting places quickly. Otherwise, it seems like a time-eater. Why would I spend time there? I didn't figure that out.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Online Applications and Tools

This week's assignment was to explore the available application webtools such as spreadsheets, documents, presentations, calendar, chat, and so forth. The advantage to them is that a) they're free, b) they're online so a person can access their documents, spreadsheets, etc from any web-accessible computer and c) they're shareable so they're ideal for group projects. Recently I did several school visits where I attempted to use a Powerpoint presentation. Unfortunately my version was incompatible with the computers in the schools, so I had to punt. Having my presentation available online would mean that I had both a backup and didn't have to worry about compatibility issues. I can see, however, that whatever computer I used for my presentation would have to access the web.

I explored Google Docs and Both offer the standard suite of applications: documents, spreadsheets, and "slide" presentations. Since I had a recently created presentation, I wondered if I could transfer it to either of these. Google docs was disappointing in that I couldn't upload my presentation directly. I also couldn't copy slides and paste them into my Google presentation. It didn't recognize my .tif files when I tried to insert a picture, but it did recognise the .jpg file. It also didn't like the fact that one picture I tried to insert was big. What Google did offer was basic presentation tools, which it did well. offers a wider array of applications in addition to the standard suite, such as document management services, invoice tools (5 invoices for free), chat, wiki, webconferencing, and a database creation tool ($25 for 5 users). Obviously, they charge for some of these additional cool tools whereas Google docs was all free. When I tried out the presentation application, I was able to upload my file, but only after I changed the file format out of Windows Vista. It also had problems with pictures.

Both of these applications are wonderful ideas in the library setting where many of our patrons don't have access to their own computers. They will be able to save their stuff without having to buy or deal with disks or thumb drives. The downside is that they may not know about them, or have problems uploading pre-existing documents to the sites.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Search Engines: comparison

This assignment really reminded me of a class assignment in the Information School. At least I don't have to write a 5-page paper on it! I was especially interested in the 2 meta search engines of and, as I didn't have as much experience with them as with the other search engines. I searched for my name in both as the test. I had(somewhat) recently searched on my name in Google, and since I've graduated last year, it pulled up fewer results by far.

My results for the 2 meta search engines? I much prefer to Both sites pulled up 3 pages of results, and both sites listed which search engines they retrieved the links from. Both sites gave many more results than Google did alone.

But in spite of boasting that it gives "intelligent" results, it gave links that only seemed to have "Kathy" in them as well as links that had "Smargiassi" in them. Even when I tried to force it to have an "AND" in the search so it would pull up only those sites with both terms, it appeared to use the "OR" boolean search. That was very annoying. on the other hand, gave 3 pages of relevant results. It even pulled up a site,, that had posted a literature pathfinder that I developed as a student. I didn't know that they had that document, but at least they cited me as its author. I was very pleased with the results it came up with. My only caveat is that dogpile is slower than mamma, but it isn't slow enough to be annoying and not worth the better results.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I started off this exploration of podcasts by going to Podcast Alley. When I 1st decided on a particular podcast to try out, it took me to a place where I could download a podcast feed, which seems to be like an RSS feed for audio. Since I don't have an MP3 player, and don't plan on downloading enough podcasts for me to need a program to manage them all, I went on without downloading a program. I still hadn't listened to one from this exploration, though.

Then I found that I could copy a link to a podcasting site from my Google reader. Cool! I found one that sounded library-related, loaded it into my reader, and found that all it really was, was a blog. Delete.

The next one I found ended up being really interesting. It was an audiobook about a time-traveling librarian being published in serial form by Podiobooks. I could listen to it straight through my reader, and actually sounded interesting enough that if I did have an MP3 player, I would be interested in downloading it on a regular basis to listen to where ever I happened to be.

Finally, I found a library in Sunnyvale, CA that does podcasts of many of its programs, including a puppet performance of "Peter and the wolf", several business research programs, and a bi-lingual Russian/English storytime. I could listen to the straight audio podcasts from the Reader itself, but they also offered videos, where I had to click through to the site to get. From there I could also access an audio-only version.

If Sno-Isle were to think about doing regular podcasts of its programs, we would need to invest in recording equipment, and librarians in the system would need to be willing to get, setup, and run the equipment for the programs they wanted to post. Considering the resistance to mere blogging in our branch alone, I would anticipate even more resistance to this extra effort. If someone wanted to champion an effort in this area, they should investigate how much traffic a site such as Sunnyvale's gets. I know that we already do podcasts of children's librarians reading picture books, and if we already get lots of traffic it would be a good place to gradually expand our offerings to events.