Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thing 53 : LitLovers - Book Club Ideas

This discovery exercise explores LitLovers, a site for book club ideas. The site is divided into four areas: LitClub, LitCourse, LitBlog, and LitFun. Since I coordinate a science fiction and fantasy bookclub at my library I wanted to see if there were resources we could use.

LitClub - The "Reading Guides," "Most Popular Books," and "Books We Recommend," were geared towards mainstream bookclub titles such as--The Kite Runner, Running with Sissors, and Water for Elephants. I did not see many science fiction or fantasy titles and when I did, they were classic titles like-Dracula, Fahrenheit 451, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Mists of Avalon, and 1984 not the contemporary titles that my club likes to read with the exception of The Time Traveler's Wife, Wicked, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy and that is probably only because it's an Oprah Book Club selection. You could browse by title or author that was available but it didn't give you a search box to just search for a title or author. It does give useful tips for those starting out a book club--Questions for Fiction, Questions for Non-Fiction, Icebreakers, and How to Start and Run a Bookclub. I took a look at Wicked by Gregory Maguire to see what resources were available for the title. The readers guide give a brief overview of the book, a biography about the author, extras from an interview with the author, book reviews, and book discussion questions.

LitCourse - There are 10 courses you can take in the catalog that cover topics such as Literature Matters: Why We Read, How To Read : Finding Meaning, and How To Read : Theme. Each course takes about 15 minutes to complete--just long enough to enjoy while having a snack! There are 5 steps to each course--the lecture (15 slides), reading suggestions, a study guide and a quiz to test yourself. You can get a certificate at the end of the quiz for completing it and scoring yourself. I found this section to be the most useful for my bookclub. I think our group would get a lot out of these courses and appreciate the novels they are reading even more.

LitBlog - Is a discussion of the thoughts of the website authors and the current pulse of many bookclubs and the direction they seem to be taking.

LitFun - Covers tie-in ideas for suggested titles. Top books adapted for film, LitFood with recipes from around the world, and even book clubs for kids.

I would certainly use the LitCourse section the most for my book club but I can certainly recommend it for other book clubs or to patrons who want to get more enjoyment and understanding out of the books they are reading.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thing 52 : Snip it with Clipmarks

This discovery exercise explores Clipmarks, the free online service that allows you to clip the portions of articles on websites and save or share in a variety of ways. The account is free and simple to create. If you have an email address and can make up a password, you're in. First off I added Polyxena as my guide to see what kind of articles she was posting. Then I clicked on the "Help" button to learn how to clip articles. It certainly walked you through step-by-step how to do a clipcast. I added five articles to my clips.

You must be at a computer where you can install web browser toolbars. So this would not be something you could use on a public computer. It would have to be your own. Clipmarks installs an icon on your web browser. Click on the icon and then select the items you want to clip. It includes the website you got it from so you don't have to worry about referencing your source. I made one of them private to test out if it would show up on my clipmarks widget on my blog and in Facebook. It did, so I can assume that marking a clip private just means it won't show up on Clipmarks. It will still be shared on your blog or other places you have installed your feed for it.

I can certainly use it to keep track of news that I might not otherwise bookmark. It is also nice for going back and referenceing exactly what I have read. I'll certainly use Clipmarks for remembering what I have read whereas I'll just keep up with the news streams on Bloglines and Furl to see what's new. I'm sure if I want to remember something from my news feeds I'll have a handy way of doing that now. Thanks Clipmarks!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thing 51: The State of Library 2.0 - Social Networking Comes of Age

Libraries have been using Myspace and Facebook to market programming to teens and adults for a while now. Since we are on our patrons' friends lists they can know about programming they are interested in instantly. Handing out flyers that include these URLs to these sites begins the PR but then it becomes word of mouth as patrons browse each others pages. Ning and Facebook in particular seem to keep librarians in touch with each other and conferences and continuing education.

There have been blogs created for all sorts of things to reach out to patrons and library staff and get their feedback. Everyone uses them--library directors, bookclubs, children's programs, brainstorming resources, you name it. Meebo along with Questionpoint has really put reference librarians right where the students are. When they try it the first time they are overwhelmed with the ease of use. The library in Secondlife is pushing this envelope further with bringing the community to the patron where ever they are.

Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube have been used to good effect for library PR and presence on the web. Wikis have been used as archives and repositories of information that is difficult to find by conventional means. has made library bookmarks of useful sites transportable no matter the computer upgrade and LibraryThing has been used by bookclubs and librarians alike to promote and archive books with a theme.

I've used image generators and wayback machines for student assignments. I've referred patrons to use web based productivity tools as an alternate to software the library didn't have--GoogleDocs, Zoho, Zamzar, and Letterpop to name a few. Since everybody knows me as the gamer librarian for adults, teens think I'm cool enough to ask for help with their Myspace page. If anything, discovering social networking tools have helped me up my credibility with library patrons. And if that happens then they'll come to ask for help about other things--like research papers. ;)

For myself, I wondered if there was a Web 2.0 gizmo that would help something that I've been frustrated over. And I found it--GMeta's recipe card generator. This generator will let you add a recipe to either a 3x5 or 4x6 recipe card--front and back. It will save the file as an adobe document and you can save it either on site or download to your computer. If I print out a recipe from the computer on a regular 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper--I will not use it. So this will certainly keep my recipe box happy.

I see libraries and social networking becoming more and more intermeshed. If the community feels they can communicate directly with the library and have a stake in its development then they will feel more invested in it and feel it is a vital resource.


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