Saturday, November 29, 2008

Internet Radio - World Culture Live And On Location

As this is Thanksgiving week and I have been away, I don't have the computer access I usually do and therefore am a little short on time. I'd like to make a comparison of traditional vs more social Internet radio, but since I'm in a bit of a rush this week, I will instead quickly share some of my personal experience with the more traditional formats with you in the form of a few web site suggestions.

I've found it to be quite an interesting and rewarding experience to be able to hook into a live radio station on air in a foreign land. Surf Music, Radio Tower, and vTuner are all sites where you can access live broadcasting world-wide. You can do the same at Live 365, however they will charge you a fee. You may have to be patient though and be willing to try several stations before you get one that is working. If you do however, you will be treated to an experience of world culture like never before. Even if you don't understand the language, just to hear the sound of live foreign commentary along with the music is pretty neat. Try it!

Update: I just recieved a suggestion to try a site called Radeo Internet Player. It looks very promising as well. Thanks dp!

Internet Radio - Magnificant Magnatune!

As an avid fan of independent "indie" music, just let me just say that I am really glad to have discovered the likes of Magnatune! Trust me, there is plenty of fabulous music out there which is not available on major commercial record labels nor that can be heard on your most popular radio stations. Magnatune is devoted entirely to the "indie" music industry and carefully hand picks each and everyone of the artists who are signed with them. What this means to their listeners is access to guaranteed good quality music which is unique and almost impossible to find elsewhere. The artists receive 50% of all sales of their music, a great offer, and receive plenty of publicity as Magnatune heavily encourages sharing of all their selections amongst the listening community. All of the music from this site can be downloaded to an ipod or just about any other MP3 device with ease, readily embedded in websites or blog posts, or utilized in podcasts. I can't wait to include some output from these great independent artists in my world music blog!

This site covers a wide range of genres including: classical, electronica, jazz, blues, metal, punk, rock/pop, world, and ambient. My favorite radio feature which they offer is their "genre mixes" which consist of playlists of up to 500 tunes for free listening from the style category of your choice. What a great way to keep abreast of all the latest releases while discovering new music to enjoy. Fortunately, Jennifer pointed out the world music genre mix which proves to be very comprehensive both with respect to styles of music and geographical regions of the world represented. Click on any selection in a playlist and you will be provided with detailed information on the album its from as well as the artist(s) and the style of music they perform.

If you are interested in purchasing or downloading a cd or downloading a selection, you can listen to all of the music for free before you buy. All of their music is very reasonably priced, even including some freebies here and there, and the sound quality of all downloads is excellent. Once you make a purchase, Magnatune will point you in the direction of similar music you might consider for your additional enjoyment.

Added privileges are available for members. For $5.00 per month you have access to 24 hour, unlimited, commercial-free, live audio streaming of the music genre of your choice. For $10.00 per month you can enjoy access to numerous podcasts and create your own personalized radio playlists. The best offer though is the unlimited music downloading privileges for this nominal fee. In my view, Magnatune on the whole is a real bargain whether you are a member or not!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Saving The Best For Last!

I am skipping over Thing #23 at this point, but that is only because of all things we have explored so far, internet radio is my favorite! I thought I would end on the "highest note" possible, from this musician's perspective anyway.

Microblogging In The Library Environment

Of course, there are many types of information that can be communicated quite effectively through microblogging not only with respect to patrons, but library staff as well. In addition to implementing RSS feeds, with this avenue of communication, I could update patron's less formally and more selectively on music cd purchases which I've made for the collection. I really like the fact that you can embed audio into your posts, a feature that would greatly enhance my messages in this particular setting. The library could use this tool to issue updates to both staff and patrons regarding new library services and web site design features. Valuable feed back could then be used to improve upon the original design of such enhancements before they are actually implemented.

Library staff would also benefit from access to this form of communication, amongst themselves, not only from within their own library walls, but also from within the library community at large on a local, national or even world-wide basis. Both information-sharing and problem-solving activities naturally lend themselves to this type of web environment. For example, I can tell you that here in the cataloging department at the BPL, we could sure use all the advice we could get on how to obtain quality service from outsourcing agencies. Hey, what about those reference stumpers? I, myself, am not engaged in public service, but I'm sure my colleagues could use some assistance with those. I could go on and on here, but you get the picture.

Twitter And My Blog - World Music Boston

I can immediately envision this service as an effective aide in soliciting constructive feedback, while my very new blog is in its initial design stages. The more advice I can get, the better. My friends and family have been absolutely great so far in this realm, so why not enhance communications a bit with this nifty little tool. This way I can communicate my progress to the audience I choose and they will know exactly what issues I am currently dealing with. Now, they can provide their input, if they so desire, in a timely manner. No more hassles trying to remember who I should ask for advice or finding the time to communicate with them. All I have to do is post my progress and/or concerns and let all that valuable support come to me automatically on its own. Here is my Twitter account profile which is currently public, but that will soon change.

Yum!!! - On-Line Recipes

I love sauces because there are so many easy ones to make and you can use the same one on a variety of foods. Make a sizable batch of just one and you have the makings for many meals to come. Spicy Peanut Sauce is one of my absolute favorites and frequently occupies a space in my refrigerator. Spicy Peanut Soup with Chicken is a variation of the standard African dish, Peanut Stew. Of course, you can adjust both these recipes to your taste if you don't like it too hot.

When it comes to dining out, I am a true foodie at heart. Unfortunately, frequenting too many gourmet restaurants can get to be a bit expensive pretty quickly. The site for Bon appetit cooking magazine is where I go to satisfy my foodie cravings as well as my budget! And where do I go when I need a break from all that delicious but rich fare? I head for the South Beach Diet site, as well as, for "skinny" recipes that don't taste like it. Amanda reminded me about the housekeeping magazines and those neat little recipe booklets that are often displayed in the check-out aisle at the supermarket. As all of us are frequently strapped for time, glancing at these for recipe suggestions makes for good use of it while you're having to stand in line anyway.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Live Music Archive - World Music (?)

I was really anxious to search this archive for world music concerts given in the Boston area. It was hoped that I would be provided with some real gems to post in my blog, however, I was ultimately rather disappointed with my search results. It appears that there is but a limited amount of concert material with respect to this genre and that locating it is quite a chore. While keyword searching is available, it isn't very effective. This is due largely to the fact that while there may be descriptive terms provided for some entries, it is an optional feature and therefore not included in all of them. It would be extremely beneficial if they could categorize their entries by genre. Happily though, all is not lost and I did manage to find these nice samplings of world fusion by famed Arabic artist Ostad Manoochehr Sadeghi and his Ostad Manoochehr Sadeghi Ensemble. Perhaps, with a little further digging and quite a lot of patience, I will be able to locate at least some valuable material for my readers. I would also point out that over-all musically, this site has great content, in spite of its searching limitations. I fully intend to visit on occasion with respect to all types of music, just for my own listening pleasure.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The "Way Back" BPL Home Page

Here is the original Boston Public Library home page (1996). I agree with Jennifer. How scant and drab it is! Well, I'm glad to say that we have come quite a long way since then. I do hope, however, to see some more of this great Web 2.0 technology we've all been exploring through our coursework incorporated into it real soon.

The On-Line Public Library

As I was contemplating just what a library of the future might be like, I was reminded of a television/radio museum library which I visited a number of years ago in NYC. It was very entertaining. You looked up various show titles in their main catalog and ordered them from the reference desk. When it came time to view or listen to your selections, you sat down in a private booth complete with you own a-v console and enjoyed the entertainment to your hearts content. I just remember how comfortable and secluded I felt, even though there were a number of other patrons in the room, of whose presence I became aware only through the occasionally audible sounds of their laughter. What a cool place!

The listening booth idea kind of stuck with me and has become the focal point of my library vision. I see a main reading room furnished with not tables and chairs, but rather a series of personal sound-proof listening booths, each equipped with a a media console and comfortable seating for up to two or three persons to accommodate limited sharing of those library materials in non-print formats. There patrons could access the main catalog and instantly download e-books, audiobooks, videos, music, and more. They might enjoy their selections on the premises, depending on the situation, or take them home on their portable media devices. There would be previews available of all items in the catalog to aid patrons in their search for appropriate materials. Printed books would still comprise a part of the library collection but be fewer in number than their electronic counterparts.

In such a high-tech atmosphere, I could see the reference service evolving as well. I envision more on-line chat type of interaction between the librarian and the patron, who could be located at a computer terminal either at a remote location within the library building or outside entirely. With less need for storage space for print media, future library facilities would likely either be smaller or made to accommodate increased exhibition or programming space.

Overdrive and E-Books

We offer Overdrive to our patrons here at the BPL. I really like the fact that they offer not only e-books, but also audiobooks, music,videos, games, and inter-active media all from one convenient service. I chose to examine this service more closely through exploration of their collection of e-books. Their catalog was easy enough to browse by broad subject category. An addition however, if one wanted simply to browse popular or new titles, there were separate sections of the catalog for the top 100 most viewed titles, items most recently returned, and recently purchased titles. It is interesting to note here, that upon perusal of the recently returned list, I discovered that the public's preferred format of choice with respect to the non-print book formats, was by far the audiobook. I must say that I, myself, know quite a few individuals who habitually listen to audiobooks while driving in their car. I liked the fact that most entries in the Overdrive catalog provided the user with a summary of the book, as well as excerpts of text and item reviews. Patrons can also locate Overdive titles via our main library catalog and once downloaded they can be read on the computer or handheld devices. An improvement that I would like to see with respect to this service is an increase in its e-book holdings, both with respect to the depth of the collection and as well as its currency.

In keeping with the current economic environment, I downloaded the electronic version of Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach. One can never get enough information as to how to make the most of their income, especially at a time like this!!!! The text was legible enough as far as the single page view was concerned, but when I switched to the double-paged format, I found it to be a bit blurry. Since this was my preferred method of viewing the text, it really detracted from the over-all quality of my reading experience. Aside from the clearer text, I didn't find the single-paged format to be anymore enjoyable to use, as the page breaks were in odd places from one screen to the next which I found distracting. The viewing screen could be much easier to navigate, if its interface were more user-friendly. There are adequate instructions on the help page, but who wants to be inconvenienced by having to constantly flip back and forth between it and the viewing page in order to figure out how the system works. Some of the reader's more advantageous features include, annotated bookmarking capability, a table of contents appropriately linked to sections of text for navigational purposes, a personal holdings library which can be organized by user-generated categories, and system compatibility that allows for the transfer of one's entire personal library from one computer to another with ease.

At this point I, myself, would much rather stick with the printed page. For me the good-old book is easier to read and much more comfortable and convenient to use, as I can take it with me almost anywhere. Besides, who wants to be stuck sitting in front of the computer when you could be curled up on the sofa with a good read! Perhaps, I should try experiencing this same format again, once it is downloaded on a portable handheld device.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hello! Hello! - IM Chat

I was lucky enough to catch Jennifer online this morning for a little online conversation! It was fun, but took a little getting used to. I don't do IM as a rule or text messaging on my cell phone either. However, this definitely is a skill which I would like to improve at. With a little more practice, I think I can get pretty comfortable typing in the same manner in which I speak. I'm not the greatest at spelling though. I don't know how that happened because my mother was a champion at it. I mean literally- she won quite a few spelling bees in her day! So, I guess I'll just have to be careful at choosing which words I use as I continue to hone my skills at this rather interesting form of communication. My question to Jennifer was whether or not she thought I would be able to finish my assignments during the last week of this course. I am going to visit my family (yeah!) for Thanksgiving and will be away for most of that week. So, if you happen to be reading this post and are in the same boat as I am, you can rest assured knowing that she purposely plans to make those last three "things" simple and sweet. It's nice to know our coach is thinking of our best interests during this fun but busy time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Clip! Clip! Clipmarks!

I'm sure glad that I discovered and signed up with with Clipmarks. What I like best about this service is the elements of efficiency and ease it brings to personal computer file storage and social web communications. It's fun and easy to use and saves loads of personal time.

All you need to do is download the required software, find some material of interest, and clip away to your heart's content! There are various clipping options as far as text is concerned, such as full article (ex. Top 10 Ways To Promote Your Blog ), sections of text (ex. 11 Tips for Getting Your Comments Noticed on a Popular Blog), or sentences or phrases only (ex. 10 Ways to Hurt Your Blog’s Brand by Commenting on Other Blogs). You can also clip videos, images, podcasts, or anything else you desire. Once you have produced a clipping, you can save, print, or email it. You can even post it directly to your blog. As with other Web 2.0-oriented sites, Clipmarks encourages a community of sharing among all its members with respect to their findings on the web.

As you've probably already concluded, my topic of choice is promoting the personal blog. I am in the process of starting a blog of my own about the world music scene in Boston. Now my personal files of blogging information will be much easier to read and access. No more wading through repetitive or irrelevant wordage, just to find the information I need. My fellow blogging friends, with whom I share tips, will be happier also as recipients of my more relevant and concise email messages. Furthermore, as a member of Clipmarks, I too will be the recipient of blogging tips in a more concise format as I view the clippings of others.

As far as the library website goes, Clipmarks could be a great tool for building an online vertical file of miscellanea on any topic. I'm talking scrapbook style. Think of all the wonderful elements it could include from the web like videos, podcasts, newspaper and magazine articles, digital images and more. Right now at the BPL we are digitizing all kinds of extremely rare and valuable items. What wonderful history-oriented files we could put together with samples of this imagery.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bookmarks - Ma.gnolia

As a selector of world music sound recordings for the BPL's A-V collection, I am always looking for sites which clue me in on bestsellers. I didn't handle the Latin music last year as it was considered to be a separate category of its own, however, this year it has become a part of the world music category. Happily, I have now located two new promising sites, and, which should help me keep abreast of the latest hits in this very popular genre, compliments of Ma.gnolia.

My Wiki - BPL Catalogers

Communication can be a bit of an issue at times in the cataloging department here at the BPL. There are so many departmental procedures and cataloging decisions involved within our daily working environment, that sometimes we catalogers do not receive all of the information that we should. It is my hope that a wiki such as BPL Catalogers could provide at least a partial solution to the problem. This wiki is designed as a platform for enabling catalogers to keep abreast of local practices and procedures, pose questions and share answers with others, stay informed of new developments in the cataloging and related library fields, and yes of course, to provide each other with a little fun and lightheartedness now and then. There are no "official" members as of yet, as this is still a wiki proposal at this point.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bounty Harvesting - AquaBrowser

This catalog searching interface definitely possesses many great advantages with respect to convenience, thoroughness, and user-friendliness. The patron simply starts from the opening screen by typing in a single search query which yields results gathered from all of the library's resources at once. In addition to the usual library formats, this includes local databases, websites, library documents (such as recommended reading lists), journals, subscription databases and any other type of resource within the entire collection. Not only is the user saved the inconvenience of having to research multiple databases separately, but also afforded ready access to a variety of information resources which they may not have thought of otherwise, if left to their own devices. In addition, the typical catalog query allows for searching beyond standard bibliographic data to include tables of contents, summaries, reviews, article texts, fiction profiles, and more.

Another leading-edge feature of this interface, is its advanced system of cross-referencing designed as an aid to facilitate subject searching. Once the patron enters their own initial choice of subject search terms, AquaBrowser actually guides them to the most appropriate terms to use. The way this simple process works is through the use of a "word cloud" on the left-hand side of the catalog screen which directs the user to additional subject terms which may be used in order to enhance their initial search results. Not only is the user provided with suggested similar or related terms but also foreign language equivalents, spelling variations, and terms which compensate for spelling errors or typos which may be present in the original search entry. The catalog's database of cross-referenced subject terms is constantly enhanced through periodic downloading of user tags from LibraryThing as well as those contributed by library staff and the general public. With all of these browsing aids readily available at their fingertips, it's as if each patron at the catalog had their own personal library coach on hand ensuring the success of their search.

The search results themselves can be narrowed to a very high degree of specificity. This is accomplished within the "refine panel" on the right-hand side of the screen. Here, results are broken down into such categories as format, language, reading level, author, subject, series, geographical location, year of publication, and genre. Additional categories are provided for fiction works including time frame, character, character traits, setting, and location. Although the individual titles within the search results are ranked by relevance which is extremely helpful, I did not get the same sense of catalog functionality with respect to over-all hierarchical subject heading organization. I discovered that if I wanted to explore a general topic more specifically, I could do so with relative ease only if I knew which areas of the subject I was interested in beforehand. I like a nice neat hierarchical listing of Library of Congress subject headings and their more specific subdivisions available for my perusal in those instances where I want to do some informal exploring of a topic from a more in depth perspective. This is an important feature that is definitely missing here.

There are some additional special features which deserve mention here. Both library staff and patrons can contribute a personal review on any item in the library. Additionally, patrons can construct their own reading lists which can be shared with other members of the public. There is even instant public access to purchasing information with respect to many items in the library's collection, as AquaBrowser offers linking capability between catalog records and websites such as or those belonging to local bookstores.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On-Line Learning - Boosting Circulation

As a selector of world music cds for purchase at the BPL, I am always seeking methods to encourage public interest in this genre. I see potential in a program like iTunesU. Upon a quick scan of their offerings in this area, I discovered lectures and podcasts not only on world music but culture and geography as well. If we could promote learning in these subject areas by making such resources available as downloads to our patrons, there is good reason to believe that exposure to such information would spark further interest in our recorded world music collection. As an added feature, I could see the inclusion of relevant playlists made-up of titles within our collection, complete with sound byte samples of each, linked in some way to a specfic lecture or podcast. Thus the listener's attention would be directed towards our collection of world music cds. We now offer OverDrive to our patrons, so why not add educational selections such as these to our audio database. Of course, this type of program could work with respect to other areas of our A-V collection as well.

Monday, November 10, 2008

On-Line Learning For Library Patrons

On-line learning for our patrons not only provides them with easily assessable learning content, which is available literaly at their fingertips, but also an educational environment which allows for open avenues of personal feedback and a sense of community among learners. Here are some examples of library programs or activites that could be adapted to this kind of format.

Bibliographic Research - At the BPL this kind of activity is generally handled through prearranged student group tours.This is a topic so rich in content that it would be better presented in mini- course form. Of course, there would be some users who would want a shorter more introductory presentation which could be available as a video on our web site. The online course content could be provided by a single librarian or a group of such instructors giving a virtual tour of the library and its resources. Supplementary lectures could be added throughout the presentation in those instances where a more in depth explanation of the proper use of a particular resource tool would be required. Opportunities for questions and feedback could be provided for between students, teachers, and library instructors, as well as homework assignments to facilitate hands on learning. An assessment should be conducted at the end of the course in order to determine how well the students learned the material as well as how effectively it was presented. This on-line program could also be offered in various alternative versions tailored to a learning group's particular age level or subject interests.
Catalog Searching - There are of course help screens available throughout our catalog, but I'm not sure how effective they are. We could offer an on-line course structured similarly to the one above, except the virtual tour would be about the most effective ways to search the on-line catalog. We could also have a shorter, introductory version of this course available for users on the welcome screen of the catalog itself and on our web site as well.
ESL Programs - Our literacy program here at the BPL is currently centered around individual tutoring sessions and conversation groups for interested patrons. Just think of how much more effective and available it would be if students had access to an on-line course instead. Individual lessons could be structured so that one could view them and complete the homework assignments at their own pace. The completed assignments (both written and oral) could be submitted to the instructor via email, podcasting, etc. who would then monitor progress and offer feedback to individual students through these same channels. I learned about how to provide a sense of community among learners through introduction to a software called Blackboard Community System. Conducting conversation groups in an easily assessable videoconferencing format would increase attendance and create a real sense of connection amongst the ESL students from all over the Boston area. Additional avenues of communication could also be provided for and encouraged between all students in our Web 2.0 style ESL program in order to further facilitate this sense of community which I think would be so supportive in a learning environment of this nature.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

GoogleDocs Slideshow

I just love love love world music! Here is my very brief presentation on Turkish musicans.

GoogleDocs - Spreadsheet Templates

Here is a sample of the type of budgeting info. which would be useful to me in my work with the music cd selection committee at my library. I could envision breaking this info down further into countries and the individual titles purchased with respect to each. In addition, some circulation figures would really enhance the picture.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Can't Find That Special Gift? - SmugMug, Threadless, Spoonflower

I chose to explore Spoonflower, SmugMug, and Threadless in search of gift-giving ideas. I could say that actually all three of these sites had potential in this regard, but each did not peaked my interest to the same level.

My definite favorite is SmugMug, mainly because of the degree and ease of customization offered within their product line. We've all run up against the difficult situation of not being able to think of just what to get that "someone" on our list. The safest bet, in my opinion, is to go with the truly personalized touch. I think that the gift of an ordinary object of everyday use, such as a mouse pad or keyring, embossed with a photo of personal interest to it's recipient, makes a great offering to just about anyone! Every time they go to use it, they will be met with a pleasant memory. Although this company has some nice options to choose from in this product category, I would like to see SmugMug expand upon their offerings even further. There are endless possibilities as far as useful products that would adapt well to this kind of personalization. Other than that, I think they have a great little practical idea here and with a larger and larger selection of products to choose from, their business should increase accordingly. Other features which lured me as a buyer to this site included attractive photo displays throughout, a well-organized user interface which could be navigated with ease, many useful and informative help options, and an attractive line of photo albums and other display tools which could be considered as additional gift-giving options.

Threadless caught my eye as a possibility because of the uniqueness of their designs and slogans. People like T-shirts that are whimsical, creative, and/or artfully decorated. This company has a good business structure in that they solicit a wide array of artists and the general public, as well, for their design ideas, whether it be artwork or slogans. By casting a wide net such as this, they can continue to come up with very creative and unique products to spark the public's interest. They even have a section of their site devoted to designs by "elite artists" if one wants to be a little more selective in their shopping. A print gallery is also available, but I didn't see anything that fit my tastes, at this point. The site itself is well arranged and searchable by style, availability, size, and price. Product imaging is also well done and includes adequate viewing angles of each design. If you are hesitant about whether or not a particular design would be well recieved by the gift recipient, you can check out the public's opinion about it through their ratings and comments. On a final note, I wish they had a wider selection of fabric colors to choose from. As a highly specialized outfit, they could definitely use more customization in this area.

Uniqueness is an important factor with respect to any T-shirt that I would by for myself or someone else. Therefore, I have added Threadless to my list of "Favorites" as far as shopping sites go. I would add however, that in order for me to actually make a purchase here, a design or slogan would really have to "catch my eye". On the other hand, if I should choose to go the fully personalized route with PhotoSmug, definitley a surer bet, I am certain that I could come up with an appropriate photo choice that would allow me to successfully create a T-shirt design to my liking.

Lastly, I want to make a quick mention of Spoonflower. Imagine, custom designing your very own fabric! It just adds a whole new dimension of creativity and personalization to handmade gifts. What a promising business venture with respect to the crafting community. I thought I 'd keep this company in mind if I ever had the time and desire to make my own gift creations. Gift certificates are available, so maybe I could purchase one of those for that special friend who just happens to be into crafting. They seem to provide a lot of support and help on their site- a particularily good feature as the whole design process appears to be just a bit complex.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

AmericanTowns - Event Listing

Here's what looks to be like quite an interesting little concert by the group Di Bostoner Klezmer, right in my own library's auditorium. I wish I had more free time to attend events such as these! I had quite a time trying to post the event though. The site kept bouncing me out of my login and once I finally did get into the posting page, my first attempt did not go through. I kept at it however, and after trying on three different occasions, finally met with success. Since I haven't yet had enough exposure to this site, I wouldn't assume that posting difficulties are a regular occurrence with respect to AmericanTowns. Let's hope not anyway!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

AmericanTowns - Post Halloween Spooks!

O.K., it's past Halloween at this point, so I needed to get a little bit creative in my search strategy. I think that mean old Grinch, of Dr. Seuss fame, was pretty scary myself! Here's a little musical holiday family fun to get you in the mood for Christmas, at the end of the month.

So far, we've covered quite a number of resources that provide valuable comprehensive information to users with respect to all the great assets that their local town or community has to offer, amongst other useful local info. I think that the public really benefits from having access to a comprehensive listing of links to community-oriented sites such as these at their finger tips. Maybe we could expand upon the section of our BPL web site already devoted to such local information by adding some of the links discovered through our coursework here. Just a thought!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

LibraryThing - Columbo (Scary Enough For Me!)

O.K., I admit it. I am not into scary literature at all, but I do enjoy a good murder mystery every once and awhile. I found the Columbo episodes on television entertaining, so I thought it might be fun and interesting to experience a book version of this series. Obviously, the most endearing facet of this character is his quirky, humorous personality.

I joined up with LibraryThing to see if it would aid me in achieving my goal to read more books on spirituality. The most attractive features that this social network has to offer me are: formats for personalized lists of books I wish to read, access to reviews (both by professionals and other network members), and membership opportunities in discussion groups of readers with interests similar to mine. With a list of yet unread books to serve as a constant reminder for me to keep-up on my reading and access to the opinions of others as to the usefulness of various titles, I should be able to stay on track, while making my reading selections more efficiently.

I think this type of networking tool speaks extremely well for itself as an asset to any library catalog and could be further applied equally well in this setting with respect to non-book formats also! Some quick examples are Peerflix for DVD movies and for music cds and videos. Of course, further research would be required in order to determine the best candidates for integration with the standard library catalog.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Podcasts - World Music And Beyond...

My initial reaction to all of the subject availability in existence with respect to the world of podcasting, is one of both overwhelment at the thought of trying to comprehend it all and yet excitement and delicious anticipation at the idea of sampling as much of this rich web-related audio content as I can realistically consume! Some of the subject areas which I have discovered through my podcasting exploits, so far, include: library industry news, world/local news and news analysis, arts, entertainment, personal finance, national/global economy, sports, research, religion, politics, general opinion, literature, health, gardening, food, business, feature stories, and the list goes on and on. There's even a podcast entitled "Anything You Wanted To Know Forum" which answers questions on well yes ... anything!

In searching for a podcast of personal interest, I decided to go with my passion- world music. Even though I was dealing with a specific subject focus this time, I still experienced similar feelings of overwhelment and yet enthusiasm as I perused the podcast offerings. Just to give you an idea of the variety of types of world music podcasts which are currently active, I present you with the highlights of what I found: current trends, concerts, featured artists, interviews, local club reviews, geographically/ethnically specific programming, radio shows, indie /avant-garde music, meditation/relaxation music, and world culture. I picked-up on NPR's The World's Global Hit Podcast.

As far as the actual search itself was concerned, I found to be quite helpful in the area of world music. I quickly retrieved a very comprehensive hitlist with entries that contained good content descriptions, reviews, the ability to create playlists, and instant subscription access. I think that access to some music podcasts on our library web site would be an attractive feature for our patrons and would encourage the use of our recorded music collection considerably.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

YouTube - Library Orientation Tour

This video tour of an academic library was created as an orientation tool for new students.

Renne Library (Montana State University)

Even though they used a series of stills instead of actual live footage, I think that they get their message across very effectively, as the presentation is both clear and informative. I also appreciate their thoroughness in communicating not only where students can find various types of information and services, but also where all the various seating areas in the library are located and the type of study environment offered by each.

I think that we could definitely use a video of this nature on our web site. Many of the patrons I encounter at the Info Desk seem so overwhelmed by the size and complexity of the central library. If they could have access to this type of an introduction to our facilities before they come in the door, just think of how much more manageable and enjoyable their library experience would be! This type of communication would also be useful as a library promotion tool, informing the public of just all we have to offer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yelp User Photos - Now You See It, Now You Don't

I've been wanting to enjoy a meal up in the Rainbow Room in New York City for quite some time, but have never gotten around to it. I know that the food is pricey, but always figured it would be well worth it just to be able to enjoy a spectacular view while dining. So, I decided to see what pictures were available on this subject and discovered to my surprise that a table does not necessarily guarantee one a view. Notice the obstructions present in the windows of the dining area pictured above. The photo below was also taken at the Rainbow Room, but the question is "From where"? Thus armed with this helpful information, I now know that I need to investigate the situation further before eating there in order the find out if there are indeed actually any tables available in the restaurant that offer an unobstructed view of the city skyline.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Photobucket - The Joys Of Petsitting


Need I say more? I also petsit for two beautiful cats each of whom, you'll just have to trust me on this one, makes an awesome picture!

Photos - Sharing Online

My favorite places to vacation are those locales which offer warmth, ready access to the ocean, and plenty of sunshine. As a result, I have become an avid snorkeler and over the years have developed a strong desire to pursue a hobby in underwater photography. Just look at this exquisite coral! With so many pictures readily available for me to sample, I now have a great source of inspiration to spur me on into making my dream a reality. These photo sharing sites with their useful indexing techniques provide a convenient avenue for me to find numerous snorkeling photos easily. I also get the benefit of viewing personal photos by everyday people whom I can relate to. I see their successful snapshots and think to myself, "Yeah, I think I can do this too!"
As far as the library patrons are concerned, I think one good use of this type of online service might be in the area of travel- always of popular interest. On our library web site we could include a section on "Places To Visit" with links from the various locales to a photo album or group on the web put together by BPL staff. We could even get the patrons involved by encouraging them to contribute their best photos and/or comments on their experiences visiting these places. I know already myself, after viewing all of those magnificant snorkeling photos, how one could easily get inspired to visit numerous new travel destinations!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Setting Goals - 43 Things

The online to-do-list tools seem like a great idea, but my PDA works just fine for me and I am already quite familiar with finding efficient ways to get things done via advice from Internet web sites. The accomplishment of personal goals however, is definitely an area of my life which could see improvement. The idea of actually writing my goals down and sharing them with others seems like a promising venture. So, I've decided to try it for awhile and see what happens.

The 101 Things To Do In 1001 Days Project is one web site which is designed to assist one in reaching their goals. Their approach is particularly helpful for those who are seeking to "find themselves" at some stage of their life and need a considerable amount of assistance in doing so. At the onset, they ask the user to answer a set of probing philosophical questions designed for this purpose, most of which I have already answered for myself. Another drawback, for me personally, was the sense of overwhelment that washed over me as I tried to comprehend actually attempting to purposefully accomplish that many goals, no matter how much time I gave myself to do so! Hence, I opted to sign-up with 43 Things. The features offered here which I think will most help me to accomplish my goals include a personal profile page for listing goals and keeping track of progress made, availability of advice from others with similar goals, shared personal stories of successes and setbacks from fellow members, inspirational ideas for additional goal setting which are even searchable by subject, and a true sense of comradery and encouragement amongst the membership. There's even a membership section for providing advice to others as to how to keep this project from becoming a distraction rather than asset in your life.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

RSS - New Aquisitions

I am really delighted to see that libraries are already using this feature to keep patrons informed of new additions to their collections. As a team selector of music cds for the BPL, I have always wished that we had some way of keeping our users up-to-date and well aware of our new purchases. So, when I came upon the MIT catalog and saw what they were offering in the way of just such a service, I promptly subscribed to their RSS feed for newly purchased music cds. Even though I can't check them out myself, I now have the opportunity to experience this service through the eyes of a patron via Google Reader!

As you can see, their RSS subscription page for new acquisitions is all nicely broken down by subject category to accommodate individual user's interests. Another feature of their's which I really like is the added option of recieving updates by email for those who do not have or wish to use RSS feed readers. I would really like to see this service offered at the BPL. Imagine how much better our patrons would be served if all of our new titles of interest came to them automatically in a nice neat little list, available by the simple click of a mouse! They would also be constantly reminded of all the wonderful materials we have to offer and thus further encouraged to borrow them more often. I would also like to see, as an added feature, links from each title to reviews and in the case of a-v materials sound or video clips as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Craigslist Ad - Check Out This Concert!

I've posted this ad in support of an exceptional artist by the name of Pius Cheung who will be appearing at the Boston Pulic Library on 10/25. If you can make this event, you will be in for a wonderful treat, I assure you!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's Classified - Craigslist vs

I discovered that getting somewhat of an actual feel for these two sites worked better for me when I took a more general approach to this assignment, hence, here are some of my first impressions. I liked the format of Craigslist much better from an organizational standpoint. One can readily find their main search categories as they are all conveniently listed on a single page. I had no trouble finding a successful starting point for a search, no matter what I was looking for., on the other hand, was a bit confusing and not nearly so straight forward. I found myself often rather guessing in which section I should start. Once I located a general category for my search, however, I discovered that both sites had their stronger and weaker points as far as a further breakdown into subcategories was concerned. For example, within the personal ad category, Craigslist offers more subcategories of specific types of relationships, but as far as searching for concerts in the Boston area is concerned you will find it much easier to specify your search by music genre in Both sites offer keyword searching, but an added feature which includes, at least in some of their listings, is that of tags which are extremely useful when keywords don't get the job done.

As far as the variety of listings is concerned, I would give the edge to Craigslist but that may be due, in part, to the fact that one can get a pretty clear idea of all that they have to offer via a quick scan of their homepage- not so, with respect to The latter however, provides more in depth coverage of topics within each category. Aside from listings, articles on appropriate subjects and other types of pertinent information are also included as useful supplements.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reviews/Ratings - Yelp

I love world music and so its no surprise that this passion of mine carries over to ethnic cuisine as well. One of my favorite spots for Indian food is the Bombay Club in Harvard Square (See my review on Yelp).

I think that rating/review options for library patrons would be a great added feature to any library web site. It would be most useful if a patron could look up a title and see what others had to say about it, complete with its average ranking among those who had commented on it. At the Boston Public Library, patron suggestions are a huge factor in determining which materials we are to purchase for our collections. Such suggestions would be more helpful to the selector if they were accompanied by a short personal review.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ratings/Reviews - QVC

I make some of my purchases via the TV home shopping channels. One in particular that I use is QVC which deals in quite a wide range of products. These folks can be quite good at times in convincing you that you really "can't live without" certain of their offerings! I have a particular weakness when it comes to those products that will save me time or make my life easier in some fashion or other. Therefore, I try not to buy anything without first checking out the customer reviews/ratings on their web site, which are made available for all merchandise which they sell. There have been quite a few instances when I have been thankfully detered away from making what would have probably been an unwise purchase, thanks to the advice of my fellow QVC consumers. (See my review for Spray-N-Grow micronutrient, posted by swati on 10/12/08)

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I'm going to be on vacation for awhile, so I will resume actvity when I reutrn.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Social Networking - A Library 2.0 Community

As I am currently involved in material selection for my institution, I see this particular social networking opportunity as a basic resource of new and improved ways for me to accurately ascertain our patrons preferences in this area. I am in the process of designing my own personal blog in hopes of reaching the Boston community and informing them of the many and varied titles which are available in our world music cd collection for their listening pleasure. To date, through this site, I have subscribed to Pro Blogger a neat little resource for blog design tips. In addition, there is ample opportunity here for interaction with my colleagues. Not only will I benefit from their ideas on ways to effectively use Web 2.0 technology within the library setting, but to also from their feedback with respect to some of mine. In my opinion, this site is a comprehensive and extremely valuable resource on this topic.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Social Networking - Meetup Groups

This summer, I joined the Boston World Music Meetup Group . Meetup groups are a very popular form of social networking and are centered around interests in just about any topic imaginable. So far, members of this group have been invited to little gatherings at concerts or in smaller more intimate settings, such as nightclubs, with the basic purpose of, you guessed it, hearing new, very cool, and interesting world music by Boston artists. The additional benefits to me personally, aside from keeping up with the local performance scene, are hearing about other's listening experiences, their suggestions for new music to purchase, and opinions about what they like or not with respect to the various genres of world music. Of course, just the socializing itself is rewarding as you connect with those who share the same passion as yours. Because I am part of the selection team for world music compact discs at my library, the exposure to personal opinion gained through this social networking experience is of great value to me in this endeavor.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Just Getting Started!

Testing, testing ...
This initial post is just to see that I have everything in working order.