Thursday, November 10, 2011

Learning 2.0

I enjoyed keeping a blog and the opportunity to navigate the web for this project.  Having a blog gives me a sense of pride that I now have more of a web presence than just my facebook page…which, in all honesty, needs updating.  Previously I wanted to try blogging but was always intimidated at the layout of the sites I found, thinking it would be too complicated to learn or by the price that was attached.  I’m glad this was a requirement and allowed me to see how user friendly some of the blog sites actually are.  I might not be saying anything noteworthy but I like having an outlet to use in case I do. 

There was very much an interconnectedness between all the exercises.  For example, starting a blog made me more open to reading other's blogs.  Then exploring RSS feeds provided me a function to organize the blogs I wanted to follow.  Likewise, I realized how convenient Delicious was for organizing sites and articles of interest for me, which led me to give Zotero another chance as a place to store research articles.  These relations between the different exercises allowed me to start examining other sites and technology tools that I come across in a comparable manner.  “Well, this is similar to Wikipedia that I like and use so I might give it a chance,” or “I already use flickr so I don’t think I need another photo sharing site.”  I’ve become more willing and open-minded to try technology I would’ve previously turned my nose up to, but I’m also critical as to how it will assist me and if it’s worth the time.

The real world applicablity was probably the biggest appeal for me.  Many times after discovering a new tool through Learning 2.0, I would then immediately share it with someone else I thought would benefit from it.  Similarly, I found that by reading other's blogs I walked away with something I did not know.  Whether it was a new website to reference, library blog to read, or technique to better utilize the Learning 2.0 tool, I gained something.  Like Library 2.0 that encourages participation and information to flow in every direction, Learning 2.0 follows suit. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Web 2.0

From the Web 2.0 Award nominees I chose care2 to explore.  I was very impressed with this site and the extensive amount of information I could get on a variety of topics.  I liked that it had different causes to learn about and that it provided links to other sites that led me to in-depth articles on the headlines addressed.  I expected that though from a site categorized under philanthropy.  What I was really impressed by and what drew me into the site were the other topics I could explore such as health, spirituality, food, nature, and so on.  I can learn more about causes affecting the world, get a recipe for dinner, and learn how to cure insomnia all in one politically correct site.  They even have a daily deal that you can subscribe too.  What is also noteworthy about this site is that they provides so much information in an organized, nonthreatening manner.  Due to the variety of topics, I did wonder at times if had wandered off of the  care2 site, but the layout was always the same and I would be reminded of the philanthropic core mission of the site when I would see headlines such as “Food Justice and the Occupy Movement” within the food section of the site.

Many of the Google tools I have been using, such as the chrome, blogger, Gmail, reader, and books.  I never took the time to investigate the other tools Google had to offer and was pleasantly surprised by how complex some of them seemed, for instance Code and SketchUp.  I did not download this but I did enjoy looking at the SketchUp gallery pictures.  Most of the tools that would be useful for me I have already been using, but I did find some new ones of interest.  Knol kept me occupied for awhile and it reminded me of Wikipedia with its extensive range of subjects and its ability to have members of the community modify pieces.  I liked that you could read multiple submissions by the same author and that if you searched for one category, subcategories were then easily identified.  Knol could be implemented in a library setting to create a sense of community and discussion on books, authors, and library events.  I find that I usually don’t know what’s going on in terms of pop culture, so I was happy to find Google trends.  This will allow me to stay abreast of current issues in an easy, painless manner.  Being continuously mindful of trends, similar to Google trends, would only benefit a librarian in choosing appropriate materials, especially ones such as music and DVD’s.

Library 2.0

There seemed to be some key, integral characteristics of Library 2.0 that were repeated throughout the Web 2.0 profiles and in Wikipedia.  One being that it requires, encourages, and thrives off of user participation.  Another is that to make Library 2.0 successful you need to meet the user where they are, whether that be virtually such as with Instant Messaging or in terms of the user’s technology skills.  Overall, Library 2.0 shows faith in the library customer base.  Instead of trying to mold the customer to what the library wants to deliver the library is molding and changing to give the customer what they want.  By making the user a “participant, co-creator, builder, and consultant,” Library 2.0 is telling the user that, “Yes, we have faith in what you are doing to find information and we want to hear what you have to say.”  For many professions and professionals this can be scary.  Do my degree, knowledge, and training not mean anything?  But, the adaptation of what librarians have been originally been trained to do to the evolving needs of the user is a true testament of the professionalism of the field.  Letting and welcoming users to tag, review, comment, etc. gives up some of the librarian’s control over this area, but as John J. Reimer writes it can help to produce better metadata.  A similar idea is voiced by Michael Stephens when he writes that “the future of libraries will be guided by how users access, consume and create content.”  The loss of control in these areas may be scary but it is necessary for the continuing of the profession.  If we are not using tools such as Library 2.0 to listen to the user and give them a voice, there will be no users.  Instead of librarians throwing their hands up in the air and saying that they cannot compete with technology and the constant evolution of information, Library 2.0 is a form of embracing it and going in the same direction as the user as they find new ways to utilize information.  It takes information retrieval to the next level, and as Wikipedia states, works to change the previous one-way flow, from library to user to be released in every direction (library to user, user to library, library to library, and user to user).  That community of equals sharing information is what Library 2.0 is about.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Zotero was easier to learn how to use than I anticipated, mostly due to the tutorials posted on the site.  I was completely impressed with everything that Zotero is capable of.  It can even cite and create a bibliography!  I was doubtful if it would easily do everything it claimed…I thought there was going to be a roadblock that I would never master, but there wasn’t (knock on wood).  My library,, is basic but I just wanted to test the different types of documents I could store to get familiar with the site.  I went to Amazon and picked a book I want to read and was pleasantly surprised to see that the book tag showed up in my address box for me to click.  Likewise, when I tested Zotero at the New York Times website and with electronic journals from UB libraries.  I did run into some problems with articles through Wilson Web.  I would get a known translator issue and haven’t figured out how to troubleshoot that, but it seems minor compared to everything else Zotero is capable of.  I practiced using it in a word document to cite and that went smoothly as well.  Overall, I am pleased with what I’ve experienced on the site so far.  I think it will help immensely with the storing and organizing of research documents that I had previously stored on flash drives.  I plan to strictly use this site for research and academics and keep other sites like Delicious for articles of interest. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tag It!!

At first I wasn’t sure if I would like Delicious or if it would be something that I would really use.  The Delicious tutorial  was helpful to understand Delicious and gave me some ideas on how to maximize my use of the site.  I started out saving some articles I liked, using it to then see who else liked them and what links they had.  By doing that I was able to start to follow some accounts that had multiple links I liked.  As I began accumulating more links, I started to categorize the topics of interests in stacks.  This is the biggest pull of delicious for me.  Coming across information daily that I want to save, I know I don’t always have best system for saving articles and websites I like.  Additionally, if I’m finding information at different computers I can’t always save it on the computer so I often print things off, which don’t always get organized efficiently, or save them in email.  Delicious can now allow me to have favorite articles and sites in one place and managed.  Creating the stacks gave me multiple ideas on how I could best utilize the Delicious site for my personal use and others.  I am constantly sharing websites and articles with my colleagues but usually that is done through email.  Creating Delicious accounts would allow all of us to save our favorites and to  organize them appropriately.  That then allows us to access the information when we need it.  So often I come across a site that would be useful, but I don’t need it at that moment.  By organizing information in the stacks, I will be able to easily access that information when I have the need for it. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

RSS feeds

I quickly went from ignorance to infatuation with RSS readers once I began to use them.  As someone who feels a sense of security having everything in one place, I love that RSS feeders do exactly that.  All my favorite sites and news can be accessed in one convenient location.  Even better, everything is archived so if I don’t read it today I know it will be easy to find tomorrow.  After getting over the few bumps in the road as I navigated readers and the feeds, I quickly subscribed to numerous feeds filling up my reader.  Mainly, I went to my favorite sites and blogs I was interested in and subscribed to their RSS feed.  Now I actually know what that orange square stands for and don’t have to subscribe via email for all their latest news.  RSS feeders offer simplicity; everything is in one place and you can get the headlines and latest news without a lot of extra.  This may not appeal to everyone but it is ideal for me.  I often stay away from certain sites because they appear too busy and I don’t want to be bombarded or distracted with nonsense information.  Other times, it’s just difficult to remember every site I’m interested in and want to check daily. It is worrisome as to how this new virtual toy will affect my daily productivity as I see that I can get distracted for hours reading all the information on my reader and/or just searching for new feeds to add to it, but overall the benefits seem to outweigh the cons.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wonderful World of Wiki's

Previously to this Learning 2.0 activity, I was only familiar with Wikipedia. I always knew to be slightly wary of the information on the site because I understand the idea of the community and that anyone could submit information whether or not it was truthful. That scared me, along with college professor always mentioning that it was not a reference source, but I still found myself frequenting it often if I wanted in-depth information on something without having to search through multiple sites for it. For example, if I was looking up an author’s background/bio or information on a band and their discography. It probably doesn’t hurt that it’s usually the first or second site listed when you Google search most things. I knew that the information could be wrong but never experience that so I always returned. Recently, I came across an adult education Wikipedia while searching something for work and realized that there was more to wikis that what I was familiar with. Similarly, we had the chance to explore a library dedicated one for this exercise,, and I love how both of these allow people in the same field to share resources, professional development, and general management ideas. Of course, the reader will have to think critically of anything they come across, but overall it offers a great venue to share and explore suggestions with people in the same field that you otherwise would never come into contact with.

I thought the Grand Rapids Public Library did an excellent job on their wiki, It offers a ton of good information for any patron or curious reader. I liked how I could go to one genre of a book and find multiple suggestions for future reading. I think this is an ideal way to utilize wiki’s in the library setting, particularly for younger clientele. Teens might be a tough audience to get reading, utilizing the library, and/or talking about what they’ve been reading but having a wiki were they can make suggestions might encourage them. Likewise, providing it for busy adults might encourage them to pick up a book that they read a review about on the wiki that interested them. I do think that offering it up to your library patrons will require close monitoring by the library staff to ensure correct information, but overall it seems to allow more accessibility to ideas and information about books that would benefit the public.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Libraries as a Community

YouTube is familiar to me as Google.  In fact, due to its immense popularity, I feel that like Google it also has the tendency to take the form of a verb; just Google it, just YouTube it.  Shamefully, I mostly use YouTube to find music, which is probably the equivalent to typing a web address into the Google finder box to get to a website.  Other than that I’ve never really gotten into YouTube, so I decided to explore Vimeo for this task.  I was pleasantly surprised by the videos I accessed on the site and liked how it was set up.  Unfortunately, Vimeo doesn’t seem to have the extensive range of videos that YouTube offers, but I liked the grassroots, independent feel of the site and their videos.  I did not find many videos on their site pertaining to libraries, but I did discover Book Aid International that used Vimeo to spread the word about their cause.  The video below shows a library in Mathare North, Africa.  One of the pivotal points of the video is how the library creates a sense of community.  There is tribalism everywhere in that region except in the library, which illustrates the magnitude of strength a library holds in that society, and any society for that matter. 

Mathare North Community Library from Book Aid International on Vimeo.

The Mathare North video depicting such a simplistic library is interesting to compare to the video on “Libraries of the Future” that I discovered on YouTube.  This video discusses many of the issues concerning libraries at the moment and many of the questions people have about where libraries are going.  Even though this video is focused on a futuristic library, one that by nature will be much more technologically advanced than the African based one above, they both stress the core of the library being a community.

With the common thread of community illustrated in both videos, any library can utilize that same idea on their website.  Showcasing how a library creates a sense of community will only allow more people to see what the library has to offer and will feel that much more welcomed to frequent it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

All Ears

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring podcasts as a Learning 2.0 activity.  Embarrassing my generation, I have to admit that I’ve never used podcasts before.  I’ve been aware of them for years now and thought maybe I was missing out, but never listened to one.  I think I stayed away from them for fear it would be another entertainment/technology time-waster that I didn’t need and/or that they would take longer to download than my patience would be able to handle.  Plus, I figured anything they offered I could find in another form; magazine, paper, radio, television, newspaper, etc.  I was completely premature with that assumption.  The same is offered, but now I can access NPR news/ book reviews and New York Times book reviews that I would usually read online with so much more added to them.  Instead of just having a book review, the author might on discussing the themes in his/her book and telling of their real-life inspiration.  Podcasts will also give me the opportunity to explore topics that don’t appeal to me enough to read about but I would be open to listening about them.  As someone with many interests, I love that there’s a podcast for every topic and cannot wait to explore iTunes U fully!  Already, the topics in my podcast library range from book reviews, news shows, Zen/Buddhism, real food, advice, comedy, and so on.  I’ve even realized that some websites that I wish I had time to check out more regularly have podcasts which will make it so much easier for me to stay current.  My favorite podcast so far is TEDTalks.  Contrary to my previous beliefs, podcasts actually are not a time-waster but a time-saver.  Once they’re synced to my iPod, I’m able to listen to the news, book review, latest TED talk, etc. at my convenience while doing another activity such as driving or working out.  To my greatest pleasure though, they download quite fast.

Monday, September 19, 2011

175 years: Then and Now

Exploring Flickr was fun and relatively easy for me.  I think that’s mainly because I’ve used Snapfish and Facebook before to share pictures so I was familiar with the methods.  For my Photostream, I wanted to try to tell a story as much as an inexperienced photographer as myself could.  Since my office is at the Central Library and I have worked in that building for approximately a year and a half now, I’ve witnessed how funding cuts have affected the library.  In the beginning, there was a lot of talk and plans to close the second floor and then slowly I saw and heard of more and more people being laid off.  The closing of the second floor was scheduled to be finalized in the beginning of this year, but was not actually completed until this past month. Books were moved first into the closed stacks, and then eventually all the computers were relocated and the patrons had to find a new place in the library to work.  Some of the pictures show the now deserted second floor that once housed computers, rows of books, and groupings of people, from the job-seekers to teenager gamers.  Other pictures are of the signs telling the public that the section is now off-limits or promoting the library’s annual fundraiser that is planned to be held on the second floor in November. 

Along the stone walkway outside the library, there is a trio of decal images adverstising unique exhibits and information regarding the library.  This is a prime location and ideal place to show the people of Buffalo what’s happening at the library.  They have the “Lafayette Square: Then and Now” collection advertised, along with marketing for the Buffalo News sponsored Bucks for Books campaign ( and notice that the library has been serving Buffalo and Erie County for 175 years. 

I don’t think funding should be cut so severely from the library system and I was very disappointed when library hours were reduced and changes were launched, but I do understand that on some level the library system is shifting and becoming more and more technologically based and modifications need to be made. A defense made for the closing part of the library was because more and more information, book-reading, music, etc. is done electronically, so there is not a need to cover the costs for managing that area.  It saddens me that library hours are being shortened and the space is limited so people who don’t have book and/or computer resources at home will have a harder time gaining access to these.  With unemployment and illiteracy rates high, it seems that the community needs a place that they can obtain knowledge and information for free.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Seven and a Half Habits of Learning

As a former student of Adult Education, I am not new to term a lifelong learner that was used in the tutorial.  I particularly liked the part where it talked about successful lifelong learners and their beliefs that attitude was everything and that statements begin with “I will…,”  “I can…,” and “I do…”  I completely agree with this, and as important to lifelong learner it is it is also pertinent to all aspects of life.  Another aspect of the video that I think is worth mentioning is that it recognized that it’s never too soon or too late for learning.  I’ve always tried to follow this guiding rule and not let the fact that even if I’m coming into something later or more inexperienced than my counterparts prevent me from trying.  Likewise, as this slide acknowledged, learning can occur in many different environments; formal, informal, and non-formal.  Often, it’s the learning that transpires in an informal setting that allows for the most growth.  You just have to be open to it and be willing to reflect on the situation or experience at hand to truly benefit from the learning experience. 
As for the 7 ½ habits, the one that is most meaningful to me is number three, “view problems as challenges”.  I think this is an important habit in learning and life.  Problems are inevitable and it’s what we do with them or don’t do that shapes us as a person.  Working through problems in an academic or personal setting allows for growth in your character and increased knowledge.
One of the things I took away from the learning contract portion of the tutorial is to take an honest assessment of any obstacles that may impact your learning.  Being an adult with multiple responsibilities, I think this is of utmost importance so I can prepare myself for any hindrances before they may arise.  I can also modify my life somewhat throughout my learning venture to minimize the foreseeable obstacles as much as possible