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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

That Elusive Future - it's still here!

The elusive future of school libraries is not going away. We keep seeing the signs...ebooks, kindles, nooks, learning commons, laptops, wifi, new classification systems, web 2.0 applications, new features on existing applications, etc., etc., etc. It is confusing with so much happening. Yesterday I received a link to this information:

As people rushed to fill their freshly unwrapped e-readers – one of the top-selling gadgets this festive season – the online retailer said sales at its electronic book store quickly overtook orders for physical books. Its own e-reader, the Kindle, is now the most popular gift in Amazon's history.
The full story is at
It makes us wonder what the future holds for school libraries and school librarians...more high school learning commons are appearing over the horizon. So what is the answer, if there is an answer, on the direction we should head in. Here are some thought provoking links to articles - by no means inclusive - on this topic.
An Adminitrators Guide to School Libraries - a good document to have handy as brief but smart guide to school libraries present and possible future.
Facilities of the future. The ideas of Doug Johnson and Rolf Ericson as applied to the future of school libraries and the way people find information.
Research from Library Research Service (LRS). Documents, forms, powerpoint shows, etc. Useful items for different purposes.
A series of New York Times articles on The Future of Reading: The Digital Librarian.
Powerpoint show on future possibel directions for libraries plus related powerpoint shows.
These links underscore some of the changes we face. We are in a state of great change on so many fronts that it seems nearly impossible to keep up with. I would like to hear what others think and feel about this.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MassAnwers will go away on 12/31/2009

Due to budget constraints, MassAnswers will discontinue its service on December 31, 2009.
Worcester Public Library is planning to continue to offer a chat reference using QuestionPoint which is what MassAnswers has been using. We hope that we will get the new chat reference set up in early January 2010. I will send each library a new url as soon as I receive it.
Please prepare to take down any MassAnswers images and links from your library website or web pages by January 1, 2010.
Email me at if you have any questions.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


via Webmonkey by Scott Gilbertson on 12/17/09

OpenID, the single sign-on solution which allows you to use a unified identity across the web, now boasts one billion potential users. Providers like Google, Yahoo and WordPress have adopted the technology, providing nearly everyone on the web with easy access to an OpenID account.

OpenID lets you log in to your favorite website using only your e-mail address or a URL — your blog’s address, a profile page on a social network or your social network username/password. Using one of those identifiers, you can log in to any website or service where OpenID is welcome, saving you the trouble of having to keep track of dozens of account names and passwords. There are also companion technologies that help you automatically fill out a profile and connect you with your friends once you’re logged in to a new social website.

For a long time, OpenID was a fringe technology, and few large players supported it. In January 2008, Yahoo and AOL were the first major destination sites to host OpenID accounts. 2009 has seen everyone from Microsoft to Facebook to the U.S. Government embracing OpenID. In addition to the one billion accounts coming from OpenID providers, the OpenID foundation says that nearly 9 million websites will allow you to login using your OpenID credentials.

The short story is that OpenID is now well established on the web. But the story doesn’t end there.

Sadly, one billion potential users does not one billion users make. Many people with OpenID accounts remain blissfully unaware of OpenID and what it can do for them. OpenID also faces strong competition from proprietary ID solutions like those of Facebook or Twitter.

OpenID interfaces are another problem we’ve covered before — different sites use vastly different sign-in forms which has creates confusion for less-than-savvy web users. Couple that with Facebook’s far simpler Facebook Connect tools and you begin to see why OpenID doesn’t have one billion actual users.

The good news is that the OpenID Foundation and its partners have been working hard to streamline the login process and improve the usability of OpenID on those 9 million sites that accept OpenID.

We’re excited to see that what began as little more than a grassroots effort to solve the problem of remembering too many usernames and passwords, has turned into a massive, web-wide effort to create better, portable identity tools. So even if OpenID hasn’t seen the widespread adoption of other login systems, it certainly set the ball rolling among the web’s social networking technicians.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

World's Healthiest Foods

The holiday season is not the best time to ponder healthy eating.
However, New Year's resolutions are just around the corner. Diet, exercising, and eating well contribute to a healthy life style.The book complements the material on the website with innovative new ways to maximize the nutritional value of the World's Healthiest Foods and minimize preparation time using quick and easy recipes that anyone can make.There is a weekly newsletter on the web that is a reminder that good food can really be delicious.
Here's to a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Trivia and Confusion

Yule was originally the old Norse celebration of the winter solstice and some of the books published today with Yule in the title, such as

"Yule: a celebration of Light and Warmth" by Dorothy Morrison and

"The Fires of Yule" by Montague Whitsel deal with the pagan celebration instead of or in addition to the Christian holiday.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Early Fires and Fire Fighting in Worcester

This month as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragedy in which six Worcester fire fighters died, I‘d like to share a few words on the early history of firefighting in this city.

In 1675 the Reverend Increase Mather wrote, “’All the houses of Quonsuckamuck were burned to the ground” by native Americans fighting on the side of the great Wampanoag chief, King Philip. Fortunately, all the inhabitants of the infant settlement had long since fled, and there was no loss of life. Eventually, Quinsigamond ( a less distasteful and more common rendering of Worcester’s original name),was resettled and rebuilt. Worcester’s first catastrophic fire was far from its last, however. Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries fire posed a continuous threat. Worcester appointed fire wardens to patrol the streets and assigned others to inspect potentially defective chimneys. The Worcester Fire Society, a private organization, was founded in 1793 , ostensibly to fight fires, although the social advantages of membership were much enjoyed by the many prominent residents who belonged. Money was allotted for the purchase of a fire engine in 1793, but it was not until 1835 that a publicly-funded full-time fire department was first established in Worcester, with nine engineers, three assistants, six hand engines and one hook and ladder truck. “This was fine equipment for a town of only 6,600 inhabitants” a nineteenth century commentator wrote. They would be needed. According to historian William Lincoln, there were 17 “disastrous” fires between 1836 and 1858, among them the School Street fire which is portrayed in a dramatic engraving available through Digital Treasures. On June 14th 1854, fire struck what was then Worcester’s most important factory complex, the Merrifield Building on Union Street. No lives were lost and construction on a new building commenced the next day. However, financial losses totaled a staggering half million dollars and 1,000 employees (out of a city-wide work force of approximately 10,000) were left without work. By that time, according to writer H.R Williamson, the”Worcester firemen had ceased to be a volunteer militia, and had become a standing army.”

The information above has been extracted from a rich body of material, including standard histories of Worcester by William Lincoln and Margaret Erskine, fire department annual reports, and delightful work entitled Fire Service of Worcester, published in 1887, which contains many illustrations in pen and ink of 19th century fire engines, fire houses, hoses, pumps, uniforms, and other items. All of these materials, while non circulating, are available for perusal at the Worcester Public Library.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The other side of MySpace: Media-based Marketing

Recently I presented the Worcester Public Library MySpace page in a CMRLS workshop dedicated to social networking. I found, in preparing for the workshop, that MySpace is a great way of reaching out to a generation saturated with media, and an unexpected way to train our minds to think outside the book. When we are already providing outreach, entertaining toddlers in storytime and performing over-the-top services for those in our communities who are in need...we need to stop complaining that no one appreciates what we do, and go advocate for ourselves! This is where MySpace can be one of the tools to ease our pain.

How many of you are drowning in flyers? Is this the most effective way to reach our patrons? With Myspace, you can post the exact same flyer where the patrons are: on the Internet. In order to advocate for the heavy use WPL gets, I have posted photographs of the long lines at the Circulation desk and added articles about the value of the library to our blog. Much like a web site, I have an RSS feed (see blog "Getting Your Tech On") to the EventKeeper list that continually updates our calendar of events.

There is plenty of room to incude our contact information, hours and mission statement. We are also using this virtual "real estate" to promote our databases, text reference service, Wi-Fi, new books, and of course programming for our blessed teen population.

We are doing this with design, we are doing this with pictures, slideshows, with video, with links, share clouds, apps, and widgets.

Tomorrow, I will be attending Basic Audio Production with Rick Levine. We will be integrating podcasting in the near future.

The thing about advocating for the library...for *our* libraries, is that no one will do it for you. We need to go forth and advocate! We need to use any tool, any media necessary. We need to look at ourselves in the mirror and say, "You go grrl!"

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

There are a number of web 2.0 applications that are becoming common in educational settings. Blogs and wikis are becoming relativley commonplace and at my high school we have collaborated with teachers and students to have some classes create wikis for their reports and they have used other applications such as wordle and animoto to enliven their reports. The following link will open to a very interesting and elcectic list of wikis being used by educators. Take a look!
The following links are for new applications that educators might use.
Maybe some of these can be of use in your wikis or blogs. The students will love them!

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