Random alchemy update

It’s been a busy, exciting week. Here are a few of the many things going on in the alchemy lab.

We’ve Got Widgets

Ryan gave a brief training this morning on the widgets our IT department has developed. Good stuff. I’m now on a mission to discover if anybody’s created anything like Book Burro for A/V formats, and, if not, can IT build us one…


Under the heading of “still somewhat secretive,” we’ve figured out a cool way to use Twitter that will work for our library, and yours truly is trying to coordinate the training / implementation effort. What’s really great about this is the sheer number of volunteers, and the sheer range of staff it covers (older, younger, timid, more adventurous, etc.). 2.0 technologies are becoming, for lack of a better word, ecumenical around here. It’s a lovely thing.

23 Things

The Allegheny County version of a 23 Things learning program has made all kinds of progress since last I brought it up. We have four technology playgrounds scheduled, one in each region except Central (more on this in a bit). Staff who attend will get a chance to play with Flip cameras and other geegaws, and learn about blogging and other social tools, as an appetite-whetter for the program itself, which will start near the end of April. Team Celery Stick (don’t ask) is meeting next week to keep the momentum going.

CLP Technology Playground

A cross-departmental group, which includes Ryan, Irene and me, has been planning a technology event for the public, scheduled for 4/25/09. We’ve reached the point where we know what activites we’re going to have, and how to staff them; what resources we want to show off; and what sorts of prizes/incentives we’d like to offer for participants. Now we’re working with Communication and Creative Services to create publicity and day-of props/handouts. My role in this phase has been creating draft copy, and Kaarin and I worked on revisions this afternoon.

Database stuff

This past week I accepted the role of chair on the EREC committee, which is responsible for recommending the purchase of electronic resources at the county level. The group is utterly fabulous, full of good ideas and wisdom/experience, and based on our meeting yesterday, I think 2009 will be a good year, despite challenges.

The state of subscription databases in a Google age is an interesting one. The committee has an opportunity to try some new things this year, and maybe take some risks (? – we can start small!). The outgoing chair, Ann, has given me a checklist of things to think about and work on, so I’ll be spending a lot of time on that in days–and entries–to come.


Nothing like some old-school library work to ground you after all the meetings and the planning! I’m almost done with the LC circulating collection, weeding primarily for duplicates and poor condition, but I’ve also got some notes and lists on things we could use. I’m also moving some things from circ to reference. Dewey and reference collections to follow later this year…

When Technology Fails

Our computer network (internet, ILS and all) was down between noon and 3 p.m. today. Some patrons were unhappy and left, but there were plenty of other folks who stayed behind to read, study, and use non-computer resources. Customer Service was able to use offline functions to check out patrons’ materials, and it was actually kind of fun, in a creative way, to see exactly what sort of work could be accomplished without the Almighty Internet. Good practice for the zombie apocalypse, too.

A Touch of Sentiment

In a recent post on the experience economy, David Lee King provides notes on a presentation by Jane McGonigal. I’ll reproduce the money quote here:

Four key principles of happiness:

satisfying work to do
experience of being good at something
time spent with people we like
chance to be a part of something bigger

That’s the perfect description of a normal day around here, from my perspective. Of course, that condition begs the question, what do you do with your good fortune?

That’s one for pondering over a leisurely weekend. Next week, more alchemical whimsy, workload depending…

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  1. February 20, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I’m the author of Book Burro. What are you looking for in a book burro for A/V?

  2. February 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Hi Jesse – here’s what I’m imagining:

    You’re looking at IMDB, NetFlix, Amazon, anywhere you shop for movies. You find something cool that you want to watch. If your library (or one of your libraries – LoC, public, university, etc.) has it, there’s an icon and a link to the catalog.

    Do-able? Or am I not articulating it clearly enough? I’m really great at the “vision thing,” but I don’t always understand exactly how things work.

  3. March 1, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Do-able. I have code in there but commented out for supporting Music/Movies.

    The main reason is that I didn’t want to annoy users. When I see a single ISBN on a page I know they are looking at a book. Movies/Music are a little harder to do because while we do have UPCs, most people don’t use them when referring to them. I didn’t want to make guesses and annoy users (as I didn’t have the time to make sure I’m not being over eager with detecting a movie/music).

    I’m starting to have more time to dedicate to book burro (and userscripts.org), so I will try to think about this again.

  4. March 3, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I hear you – movies and music ARE harder – we library folk were thinking the OCLC number would be a good one to use, but then that would only cover items owned by a library somewhere, and listed in WorldCat – of course, for library world, that would be what we’d want to achieve!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, commenting, and pondering over this! I really want to be able to develop and learn technologies that are going to help people find stuff they want.

  5. Beth said,

    April 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Just saw Team Celery Stick…we gotta get uniforms.

  6. LAV said,

    April 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    And cool flair for our lanyards!

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