Sharing new ideas, resources, knowledge and technology to keep abreast of new development in reference service field

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Learning Languages Online

The Worcester Public Library staff, along with the staff of the Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester, are considering two online world language programs to offer to patrons interested in learning or improving a second language whether it be a foreign language or English.

I spent a little time trying both Mango and Tell Me More through our trial subcriptions and my thoughts are below.

Regarding Mango:
· The ESL programs are designed for learners with a specific native language – there is no general ESL.
· The grammatical explanations appear to be inserted irregularly and are quite technical.
· Both the German and Spanish language programs (the two world languages I tried as I have some knowledge of both) introduced the informal “you” in the second lesson, in the context of first meetings. They did identify this as Informal/Friendly Conversation, but my understanding is that there is no such thing as an informal conversation in German and Spanish speaking countries when you are merely acquainted unless you are talking to a child or an animal. This seems to be a true flaw. It may be interesting to note that in the Spanish-to -English lesson, formal address was maintained in the Friendly Conversation.
· The slides seemed slow to load.
· The optional repetition and color-coded breakdown of phrases is useful.

Regarding Tell Me More:
· Much more content, and greater depth unless Mango only allowed access to partial
· More interactive with greater variety of learning activities.
· Multiple language choices for the portal.
· General ESL.

If I was interested in learning or practicing another language, I would choose Tell Me More. Who is our audience? What role do we want this program to fill?

Are you familiar with Tell Me More or Mango? If you are interested, go to their websites and learn a little more about these products: and Please feel free to share your thoughts about these products. We would be especially interested to hear from any libraries that have offered this service to their patrons.


At the Worcester Public Library we've started using Bookletters as a tool for Readers Advisory services as well as marketing purposes. Posted on the library homepage,, you'll find a widget with thumbnail covers of new titles that patrons can click on to link directly to our catalog, where they can find out more information on that title and place requests. You'll also find links for our YA librarian's top picks for teens, Most Requested Titles and signups for email newsletters.

From the Bookletters website:

More than an e-newsletter service or Web content enhancement source, BookLetters is your marketing partner. BookLetters gives you a comprehensive set of tools and thousands of pages of content on books, authors and films so that every branch or department can promote its collection and programs on the Web or through subscription e-newsletters...with BookLetters, you can add your message to Web pages embellished with BookLetters content and customize the pages with your own information. The core of the BookLetters content is our 4 million book database that generates book detail pages that include brief annotations and jacket covers. This core content is enhanced with a continual flow of exclusive BookPage reviews, author biographies, topical editorial clips, seasonal book promotions, book discussion guides, DVD streaming video previews, audiobook narration clips, sound clips, look inside feature and even podcasts.

Creating targeted custom lists is easy - just enter up to 20 ISBNs for each list, view, and publish. Patrons (and staff) can sign up to receive monthly newsletters on new audiobooks, books on the air or children's picture books among others. Annotations and images of book covers are provided by Bookletters editors and reviewers. Bookletters also lets you track how many subscribers you have for each booklist. If any of you have tried the Bookletters product, we'd be interested in hearing about what you've created, and your patrons response. Do you use the provided annotations, or do you prefer your own reviews? Have you used Bookletters to produce a library newsletter?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kia Ora!

"Now you know how to greet people in Maori!"

Every time you go to, you learn a way to greet people in a different language. This is only one of the ways the site is engaging. Flickr is a web presence that uses the Creative Commons method of copyrighting for their "P2P" (peer to peer) sharing of photographs and other images.

Copyright law has been nebulous and ever-changing when it comes to the Internet, and particularly when it comes to digital images. For example, if you are browsing Google Images, and find a picture you like, you can click on the image and go to the website where the image was posted. Unfortunately, an overwhelming number of websites do not include copyright information for their pictures. So what's a girl to do?

On sites like Flickr, that use Creative Commons, the copyright is transparent.

These are the stipulations one of the artists placed for one of the photos in my Favorites folder:

"You are free:
  • to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to Remix — to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
  • Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
  • Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
    Share Alike. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one. "

So, the copyright rules are crystal clear.

Why don't you try it out yourself? You can checkout all of the photos and images you can use for your own purposes! Go to:

I would love to introduce you guys to the site. You are welcome to send me a note with your name and e-mail, and I can give you permission to look at all of the favorite photos I have amassed over the years! You can contact me at

I hope you have fun. Happy Picture Surfing!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Voting Reference: learn about the upcoming election

A few nonpartisan sources to learn about the candidates and ballot questions:

CMRLS Regional Reference Center, Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Sq, Worcester MA 01608