Monday, October 29, 2007

Digital Ethnography

This video was brought to my attention by American Libraries Digital edition.

The blog posting is "A Vision of Students Today" and was developed for an Introduction to Cultural Anthropology class at Kansas State University. The website says that it was the product of "a working group of Kansas State University students and faculty dedicated to exploring and extending the possibilities of digital ethnography."
The instructor, Professor Michael Wesch, told the students: "the basic idea is to create a 3 minute video highlighting the most important characteristics of students today - how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime."
The neat thing is that the students developed the "script" using online tools and then did the actual filming in a 75-minute class period. Might be a model for something similar at any level. And it would be fun (and instructive) to see what kids say and show about their learning methods and styles.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

AASL Reno, Part II

After a fairly long morning the conference began with a surprise at the First Timers Orientation. The first two hundred in line were provided with a free box lunch. It came in handy because, although I had a fairly late breakfast, I knew it would be a late dinner as well. The session was sponsored by Abdo Press, a children's imprint, and included tips from various members of the AASL Board and committees. They were all very good ant timely but I think the best one was "Wear comfortable shoes." This proved to be very true when the Exploratorium opened after the lunch and later after the exhibit hall opening following the keynote speaker. The picture shows folks waiting (productively) for the general session to begin.

The keynoter, as I mentioned in my previous post was Dan Pink, and even though I had listened to him on a DVD I purchased for the library, he was even better in person. Dan believes, and backs it up with evidence, that the world of work is changing and the best metaphor to explain the change is the right-brain/left-brain model. Because we are losing routine tasks to outsourcing and off-shoring (Asia), our ever-expanding need for novel consumer goods (Abundance), and the growth of automated processes (Automation) the skills and processes of the right-brain are becoming more important than the skills and processes mediated by the left-brain. Our educational institutions have traditionally emphasized left-brain (logical, analytical, sequential) skills to the neglect of right-brain (empathetic, integral, holistic) skills. Dan believes that since those skills tend to be ones which cannot be outsourced, provide the designs needed to continue producing novel and interesting goods and processes, and are not susceptible to automation, those are the skills which we should be developing in our students. He quoted approvingly an administrator from a school district in New Jersey who said: "We should be educating students for their future, and not our past."

Following the keynote address the attendees got the first copies of the new "Standards for the 21st Century Learner" which will replace the current Information Power standards adopted almost ten years ago. These new standards, which provide a framework for library media teaching and learning, will be discussed and implemented over the next months and years.

The exhibit hall opening was at 5:30 following the general session and Dan Pink was available to sign his book so I had him sign the copy I brought to the students and staff of Redwood High School. I visited the exhibits until almost 7:30 talking to folks who might be willing to exhibit next summer at the IASL Conference in Berkeley and I also talked with the vendor of a library automation program I had not heard of called Atriuum.

Tomorrow should also prove to be a long and productive day of concurrent sessions and exhibit visits.

AASL Conference in Reno, Part I

I'm sitting in my room at the Silver Legacy after breakfast as I type this post.
I arrived yesterday on the California Zephyr from Martinez. It was a very pleasant trip across California and I found I could actually enjoy the scenery as we headed up and across the Sierra Nevada which is a lot harder to do when you're driving.
On the train were two colleagues from San Mateo, Kris Cannon, the retired LMT from Mills High School and Judy Moomaugh, the county library coordinator. We had a great time sharing recent experiences and ideas which made the trip go all the more quickly.
The Conference officially starts today with a First Timers Orientation at 12:30 which I'll attend. There is a shuttle to the Convention Center which is about 3.5 miles south of downtown where we're staying. Later today I'll hear the conference keynoter, Dan Pink, the author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. That is also the book which all conference attendees are supposed to have read. I actually cheated by watching a video presentation which Pink recorded last year just to get his basic ideas down. But I do have the book with me and will take notes and report back in a future post.
Also this afternoon I plan on checking in on the Exploratorium, an exhibit of "learning stations that exemplify best practices in school librarianship." And the exhibit hall will open this evening. It's the location where I'll be spending a lot of time over the next few days talking to vendors and picking free goodies.
I'm heading off now and will probably sign on again this evening with and update.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ebooks: How to Get to Them, How to Use Them

As the information world becomes more and more digitized, having the right tools to access the rich resources out there in cyberspace becomes more and more important.

One of the more exciting trends for libraries is the digitization of books, which is proceeding, thanks to Google and other vendors and libraries, at a tremendous pace. Many of those which are available up to now are books which are out of copyright and are available as pdf or html versions online. But many more newer books which are in copyright are becoming accessible now as well--usually for a fee for individual titles or through a subscription database.

How has the Bessie Chin Library kept pace with this trend in publishing? The library has access to thousands of electronic books (ebooks) via its subscription databases. These include Gale’s Virtual Reference Library (28 titles like West’s Encyclopedia of American Law), the Oxford Reference Online Premium collection (236 titles like The Oxford Companion to the Photograph and The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature), QuestiaSchool (more than 30,000 books on all subjects, as well as journal and magazine articles).

Many more individual books have been cataloged and are accessible through the library OPAC (online catalog). When you see a link to ELEC. ACCESS in the catalog record you can click on the link to retrieve the electronic version of that title. You and your family can use these resources by going to the library’s home page <> and logging in to the appropriate database or clicking on the “Catalog Home Access” link.

More ebooks are available to Marin County residents through MARINet, which makes ebooks available through its online catalog. A list of ebook collections available from MARINet is found on their Reference Databases page. <>

These are full-text, full-image books in different formats, including pdf and MP3, without a limit on how much you can read, annotate, etc. Usually there is a limited time period during which you can access the books (14 days is typical). MARINet has subscriptions to books from the Digital Library Consortium, NetLibrary, Safari Tech Books and the Virtual Reference Library.

Outside of library portals finding full-text books online can be challenging. A recent posting on the Resource Shelf suggests knowing about and using more than one online book service. A person looking for full-text books has plenty to choose from. Just as you wouldn’t rely on only one web search engine for every search (would you?), try some different tools for finding books online.

Here are some examples.

· Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book” and MSN’s Live Book Search are two to consider. Often the a preview (the ability to “search inside”) is available on one service but not the other. Like other services, books that offer 100% of their content online (primarily titles where the copyright has expired, e.g. Baseball Notes for Coaches and Players, published in 1916) can often be downloaded as PDF files at no charge. <>

· <>

· The Online Books Page is the place to begin for freely accessible full-text books online. There is a new listings page with hundreds of books listed weekly (including Gutenberg and Google Library Program titles) which you can subscribe to by RSS feed. <>

· Ebrary offers over 20,000 NEW full text books for free (pay only to print or copy, about twenty-five cents). <>

· The World Public Library offers more than 500,000 full text titles. <>

· The International Children’s Digital Library is a great site to find titles from across the globe written for children of all ages. <>

· The British Library provides a service called Turning the Pages which has digitized versions of interesting historical texts and uses the most recent technology to make them fun to read. <>

· A number of full text collections are available from The Internet Archive.

· NetLibrary is a service that many public libraries offer at no charge, without having to visit the library. <>

· Finally, the Digital Book Index lists over 137,000 online books with nearly 100,000 available free. <>

As we continue with the project of completely digitizing the world I hope we won’t lose contact with the printed word. Printed books do have their advantages. And the printed book is still one of the greatest inventions of all time. For an interesting comparison of the two formats check out a blog entry by the digital book publisher, Phil Davis.