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Blog posts from December 2008

The Cost of Information Overload

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 30, 2008 - 10:40am

LibraryStuff posted this article last week discussing how information overload is detrimental--apparently really, really detrimental--to productivity in American workplaces. With an estimated cost of 900 billion dollars annually, you might want to try this information overload calculator to reduce stress on your library.

you might want to try thisinformation overload calculator

to reduce stress on your library.

  Read More »

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From ALA TechSource

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 23, 2008 - 10:43am

We're wrapping up our 2008 here at ALA, and as we head into the Holiday, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers for helping to make this a great year for ALA TechSource. It's been a privilege to come on board as your editor and to be able to spend time discussing exciting new developments with you. I'm looking forward to an even better 2009!

As we take our Holiday break, we won't be posting much over the next two weeks, but we we will be back at full speed in early January.

Best wishes from all of us at TechSource. Have a great Holiday!

A Geek's Letter to Santa and a Farewell

Submitted by Michelle Boule on December 22, 2008 - 4:13pm

There are seasons for everything. Seasons of life. Seasons of time. During this time of year, people often think about things for which they are thankful and things that they can give others to make them smile. I am thankful for the opportunity that ALA TechSource has given me. The opportunity to spread my wings, work with some wonderful people, and have fun. Sadly, I believe my season here to be over. There are many new writers in this space and I know their voices will keep me from being missed too much. In parting, I would like to leave you with this post: A Geek's Letter to Santa.

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Technology: The Year in Review

Submitted by Jason Griffey on December 22, 2008 - 10:03am

In the spirit of the bazillion other  year-end lists you will see over the coming weeks, I decided to list my Top 5 Most Influential Technologies of the year. These are the technologies that I think librarians need to be aware of, examine, and find uses for in their library. Not all of these started this year, but 2008 was  the year they broke out and became necessities in many people's lives. Read More »

Cutting Edge IT Security at Utica College

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 18, 2008 - 9:38am

This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses Utica College's new Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), which eventually will serve as a facility for government agences to store and examine extremely sensitive documents in a secure environment.

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Discrimination Against Gamers?

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 17, 2008 - 11:22am

There's been some discussion on the web about whether or not employers should be discriminating against gamers, given some claims that people who use their computers to play games will inevitably do so at the office and thus be less productive employees.

A vigorous discussion on has broken out here.

Is this a vicious stereotype? Is there some truth to it? It seems like there's a lot of mixed messages about gaming going on in our society. I can't say I'm shocked by this, but I'm also saddened given how much librarians have tried to advocate the idea that gaming is a useful educational tool
 that can be used to help children learn and gain valuable problem-solving skills. Read More »

Video Down Under

Submitted by Cindi Trainor on December 17, 2008 - 9:25am

This photo of a patron watching a video in Queensland's Brisbane City Library was taken by Karen Schneider on her recent trip to Australia. Check out her set on flickr for great photos of the automated check-in system, the gaming area, and other fun stuff, like a floating meeting room!


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Library of Congress Releases Report on Flickr Project

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 16, 2008 - 9:34am

Last Thursday, the Library of Congress released a report on their recent Flick pilot project. Jessamyn West at has some great coverage highlighting the key points. Doug Caverly at WebProNews provides some coverage here.



Libraries in Southern California Face Budget Challenges

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 16, 2008 - 9:28am

It's a balmy 5 degrees Fahrenheit today in Chicago (well below zero with the wind chill), so naturally I am thinking about warmer places...Southern California, for instance. Of course, as nice as the weather is in the Golden State, a major budget crisis is threatening to freeze out public services and facilities and creating a major headache for California Libraries.

Last week, I made a brief mention of the budget problems facing the San Diego Public Library.  New director Deborah Barrow inherited a major financial challenge upon taking office. This piece from the San Diego Union Tribune discusses how Barrow had to divert $1.7 million from a library improvement fund to keep seven branch libraries operating.

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Barnacles on the Ship of Librarianship

Submitted by Tom Peters on December 15, 2008 - 10:09am

Every now and then, usually when I have a moment by myself, I think about the state of librarianship.  I ponder the opportunities, the problems, and the progress.  Generally, these periodic, informal "state of librarianship" addresses to myself are optimistic. 

Over the past couple of decades, rather than concentrate on outright threats to librarianship, I have tended to focus on things that are holding librarianship back, or retarding its growth and development.  Questions of momentum, acceleration, and deceleration are much more mundanely interesting than questions about the life and death of a profession.  Although Google is doing some interesting and large-scale things to make information findable and usable, and thus seems like it poses something of a threat to librarians, we really cannot do much about what Google does or plans to do.

By concentrating on the retarding factors, perhaps we can identify tangible problems that we can work to solve.
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The Economic Crisis & Your Library Technology, Part II

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 12, 2008 - 9:48am

One of our readers, a librarian at a parochial school in Topeka, Kansas, writes:

We are losing teachers and staff. It is affecting how much we have to is up at the top, considered a luxury. We are sticking with what we have and not updating unless someone gives or donates specific funds for tech.

No library is safe from the reach of this crisis. While a privately funded school in the heartland struggles to update their technology, the San Diego Public Library was forced to divert $1.7 million from a library improvement fund in order to keep a number of their branches open.

NBC Nightly News Discusses Library Use in a Tough Economy

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 11, 2008 - 2:08pm

Last evening's NBC Nightly News included this report on library usage in tough times:

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Gift ideas for the young geek reader

Submitted by Patrick Hogan on December 11, 2008 - 10:41am

You can always tease parents with the adage that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Assuming that ALA TechSource readers may want to share their sci-tech passions with youngsters on their gift list, I'm linking to this list from Booklist Online's free newsletter REaD ALERT: Top Sci-Tech Books for Youth: 2008.


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Watching Movies in the Future

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 10, 2008 - 9:20am

This article from Monday's Wall Street Journal previews the future of movie-watching. As cool as a lot of this stuff sounds, I can't help but think that if these predictions are true, all the time and money libraries are spending to build up their DVD collections could be for naught.

A Helpful Presentation on Web 2.0 for Smaller Libraries

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 9, 2008 - 9:35am

Web 2.0 expert and Library Technology Reports author Sarah Houghton-Jan posted this presentation at her blog Librarian in Black. "Web 2.0 Services for Smaller, Underfunded Libraries" can help librarians use social networking and other web tools to benefit patrons at little or no cost to the library.


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More on Twitter and Reporting the News

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 8, 2008 - 10:45am

Yesterday's New York Times featured this piece, which discussed how newspaper journalists have become avid users of Twitter:

CNN says it wants newspaper feedback as it creates a news wire service to compete with The Associated Press and other services. At a meeting last week, one newspaper staff member offered his advice — and shared the framework of CNN’s plans — in real time on the social messaging Web site Twitter.


CNN, a division of Time Warner, invited several dozen newspaper editors to Atlanta last week for a summit about its forthcoming news wire. Gatherings of journalists aren’t usually off-the-record affairs, but CNN probably didn’t expect each segment of the summit to be shared with the Web. Then again, the increasingly popular Twitter, which allows users to share short messages with others, sometimes acts as a wire service as well. (CNN declined to comment.)


Hat tip to Steven at Library Stuff, who referenced this article yesterday.

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The Economic Crisis & Your Library Technology

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 5, 2008 - 10:23am

We want to know how this crisis is affecting your technology needs. Have you been unable to purchase up-to-date equipment? Are you unable to afford the bandwidth that you need? Have you found a way to stretch your budget that you think others should know about? We want to be your voice. If you have anything you'd like to share, no matter how big or small, please e-mail to share your stories with the world. Read More »

As Print Struggles, Twitter Flourishes

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 4, 2008 - 9:18am

It's no secret that these are tough times for the publishing industry. We've been discussing the precarious position of the publishing industry for some time now, and the current economic crisis certainly isn't making things any easier. Meanwhile, new, mostly free Web 2.0 technology is flourishing, its popularity growing at an astonishing rate.

Stephen's Lighthouse has some fantastic coverage of this dynamic, particularly the contrast between the sharp decline in newspaper sales and the recent explosion in the popularity of twitter and other social networking tools. Read More »

More on the "Wondrous" Library Art

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on December 3, 2008 - 9:19am

Our very own Michael Stephens has some additional information about the fantastic sculpture I wrote about last Wednesday. Check out his post at Tame the Web.

Q: What does it take to create a user-centered website?

Submitted by Cindi Trainor on December 2, 2008 - 9:28am

A: Users! Cliff Landis observes a student volunteer using the Odum Library website.

My library designed and unveiled a new website for fall 2008, and one task we haven't yet attempted is gathering organized feedback through direct observation of students, while they use the site. We'll be conducting user assessments early in 2009, so I was delighted to hear Cliff Landis, Technology Librarian at Georgia's Valdosta State University talk about doing just that at Internet Librarian 2008 in October. During his talk, "Creating the User-Centered Library," Cliff talked about the Odum Library's use of surveys, focus groups, and recorded user observations to gather user feedback that they are using to make improvements to their website. User observations may seem intimidating, but Cliff's assertions that only a few volunteers are needed, only a few questions are necessary, and that it doesn't take a ton of time or planning, have me excited that we're gearing up to do our own.

The Fall 2008 report is available from the library's blog. Read More »

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Planning & Pitfalls: Using Pageflakes for a Public Library Portal

Submitted by Michael Stephens on December 1, 2008 - 10:00am

In one of my major talks - "The Hyperlinked Library" - I use many different examples, and often change them to keep them as current as possible. One example I've used for over a year is the Dublin City Library's creation of a public portal with Pageflakes. While in London for Internet Librarian International, I got to meet up with Edward Byrne, Senior Web Services Librarian , and chat with him about the project.

I use the development of a library portal via a free tool as an example of how libraries can create something useful without 6 months of meetings, decision-making or using a  "home grown" IT solution that only one or two people can configure. Eddie agreed to fill me in on all of the details of Dublin's portal. It makes for a fascinating case study and in terms of timing and coincides with some recent developments that show the importance of caution when using Web 2.0 tools without planning for backups and changes in the tool. Our conversation started in London, wound its way through Facebook, and concluded via email. Read More »

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