Eine riesige Bibliothek Nerd

Warning- the following post will contain content of a geeky nature…(and apologies for my shocking German)

Google is not the last source of information– a lovely article on how you can’t always get what you want with the search engine to rule ’em all, and in fact the greatest sources of information are right under your nose.

At the moment I am a tad over powerpoint – it’s the whole keyword and catchphrase for me. Whatever happened to sentences, grammar and presentations that meant something afterward?I have come across so many powerpoint presentations that have no value afterward, because what they say is meaningless without the input of the presenter.

I am also over PDF being used as an alternative to a perfectly good html page on websites- PDFs are great for documents but still woefully inaccessible. I am over websites who are clearly designed for a screen resolution over 1024×768 pixels and when I have to amend the screen resolution I can’t read the text.

Yes I’m grouchy geek tonight- I’ve had three hours’ sleep, with no prospect of an early night tonight. See you on the other side…

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Look out weekend, cause here I come

I am looking forward to having yet another reason to go boots shopping– preferably with my favourite stylist and boot fanatic Ms S. Unfortunately it won’t be THIS weekend as it is looking slightly jam-packed.

Apart from the usual rigmarole of gym, swimming for Master BG, and family frivolities I will be:

Dining with my mum’s group as a joint celebration for our birthdays. We will be going to Da Uday, Ballarat’s Indian/Thai/Italian restaurant. I’m thinking this would be great for those who can never decide which cuisine. I have never been, so it will be interesting.*

Maeve MagazineFinally reading Maeve an online magazine which will be launched May 1. I have been following its prgression via Twitter and Facebook and will be really excited to see the results from a wonderful bunch of women!

Attending the Clunes Booktown on Sunday with the kids and Master BG who will be attending in his capacity as uber-librarian. I will attending in my capacity as supportive wife, curious bibliophile and library nerd.

Writing a 1500 page assignment on an heuristic evaluation of a university website for uni. I know that sounds scintillating, but it’s amazing what you can do under pressure and with a steady supply of Tim Tams, nutritious food.

*The menu was extensive and affordable. The wine list was affordable but not extensive. The company was lovely and it was a good night out, but I won’t be going back there in a hurry.

All things must pass

This is a must for all librarians, or bibliophiles everywhere. Take a photo of your bookshelf, email it to the New Yorker and they will tell you what your books say about you. Question- what if you have more than one bookshelf?

I’ve been back at uni for three days, and I haven’t left the state- I love distance education! My bookshelf with my professional reading has been increased by one title, but I still have readings and blogs galore to wade through.

The User Interface as customer service– contextual help is becoming all the more vital when delivering services online, rather than clicking on a help link, then trying to figure out what to ask for, then locating said tip, then returning to where you were, or simplygiving up and going elsewhere.

The Content Creation Iceberg is an interesting concept. While the post is primarily concerned with museums creating content, the whole notion of libraries as content creators rather than content conservators is one which we’re grappling with. In the past creating content simply meant creating a website with links. Now it means creating something which can be commented upon, edited and tagged- basically allowing another avenue to interact with your users. Hopefully our users wish to interact with us!

Speaking of users, there’s an article on how much or how little we know our users. Too often, websites in which I have been involved, have been designed with not the average user who will occasionally use it to complete a specific task, but the super-user (ie library staff) in mind. What has resulted is a big website/portal of links with a limited search capability, which can be easily used by those who access it daily, but for occasional users may present an overwhelming selection, at which point they say- I’ll just google it!

Hmmm, radically changing our site- sounds like a plan…will keep you posted!

Finally, a clip from a Dunedin band Haunted Love. It plays up every stereotype about librarians and it’s a hoot.

Feelin’ Alright

There are some days when you feel overwhelmed- yesterday was one of those days for myself. You can get overwhelmed by anything- children, work, technology and information and the effects of information overload.  A man by the name of Conrad Gessner felt that the modern world was overwhelming people with data and this was harming people’s minds. He died in 1565. His preoccupation with data and information was around the printing press.

Thankfully if you do happen to feel overwhelmed with data, or at least how to search for a needle in a haystack, the State Library of Victoria has developed 21 research guides on locating information on topics such as Adoption and Bushfires in Victoria, through to researching what things cost in the 19th and 20th centuries.

This section of the SLV website is part of the new website which will be launched soon. It reminded me of an article on Everyday Usability, which provided a 14 point checklist to ensure maximum usability. One of the aspects which struck me was

You can nurture your website every day by remembering that you are the host and everyone who arrives wants to know what you have and how it will benefit them.

Updating the website regularly with new links or highlighting resources is a great way of keeping your website fresh, but the constant updating and evaluation is also needed.

A relatively quiet day, just the usual gym, laundry and kinder merry go round. I’ve felt grateful for the lovely late summer day, as the kids are currently playing in the sandpit.

Miss and Master BG in the sandpit

You can’t always get what you want

To the kids, the PC is what Mum and Dad sit at, or where you can play games, see ‘Foxy’ (the Fantastic Mr Fox trailer) or Doctor Who (am a firm believer of getting ’em when they’re young- speaking as a happily lapsed Catholic).

They’re yet to grasp the myriad of information you can access and search for online, and have no clue about the internet (although Master BG knows the URL of the  ABC kids website off by heart).

It was no surprise then, when I read this article about how children use the Internet to search for information. Just because children grow up with technology unbeknownst to their parents at a similar age does not mean they are instant experts. People can and do spend years searching and refining search strategies and techniques- you may know them as librarians.

In my previous life working in public libraries, I was involved in teaching adults how to use the internet- the classes were always heavily booked. Users of our library still call upon library staff to assist in locating a tricky bit of info they know is out on the interweb, but can;t seem to locate. If adults still find it challenging to construct a search, children whose brains are still developing are even more ill-equipped.

Google does make it easy for children by designing their search interface with a large search box (so children can ask questions), and the use of the Arial font; I still think there is more search engines can do, by answering back with a do you mean…you know like what a librarian would do when asked a question!

As for internet filtering to make it safe for Stephen Conroy children, well that’s another story…

Back in the saddle

Amazing what a break from work, eating and drinking lots, and not going anywhere near a computer for a couple of days can do- put on a couple of pounds, missed the whole drama of the Detroit Bomber, the death of Roland S. Howard, and very nearly the surprise visit of Miss Jenelle!

On the plus side, I read three books, read dozens of kids books to the children, watched The Tudors on DVD and generally spent some quality time with Family Bookgrrl.

Did I get away with my no email, facebook, twitter and blog until today? Well…not exactly. I checked my email after a couple of days, when I got back from my Christmas road trip, my facebook was checked on the 29th, surreptitiously via my mobile, but twitter and my blog remained blissfully untouched!

So back in the blogging saddle…

I like looking at images of cold places on a hot day– it’s my ice cream for the mind. Be careful of the brain freeze though…

I may never become a web designer extraordinaire, but there are a couple of good usability resources listed that are inexpensive and applicable for web content managers here, there, and everywhere.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to clean up my clutter (not looking at anyone…well I wish Mr BG would take the hint) here are some tips on reducing your book collections from authors and a bookseller. Some are decidedly tongue in cheek, but the tip that resonates with me is if you live to be 100, will you read this book again? In our case, it’s not so much the books we have read, but the books we have never read- which are quite a few. Maybe my NY resolution is to read all the books I have brought into the house that I have yet to read- as well as do a book cull *rubs hands with glee*.

And finally 85 reasons to be thankful for librarians– with no 6. Girls with glasses can still rock the “sexy librarian” look 🙂

Santa Claus is coming to Town

After much discussion, it has been decided to leave out some gingerbread and a glass of apple juice for Santa, as this is what Master BG likes and some carrots for the reindeer. (Mental note: may sub the apple juice for some whiskey…)

As a Christmas present to my family and my overloaded brain, I am spending time away from the PC- no emails, facebook, twitter and definitely no blog until my return to work on the 4th January.

As a Christmas present to you my dear readers, (and I think I know every one of you by name), here is some holiday reading. I hope you all have a happy and safe Christmas, read lots, eat lots, drink lots and love lots- which is what I hope to be doing :). If anyone is still wondering what to get bookgrrl for Christmas, I would like David Tennant in my Christmas stocking. Failing that a kiss under the mistletoe is always welcome…

Much of the links involve looking back over the past decade and looking at what will be.

According to Mashable, Marketing in 2010 will be about Data-the article also mentions issues of privacy and the concept of metadata. Actually the world has been becoming about data for a while, especially if you consider a search engine company is about to enter the world of telecommunications, real estate and is sitting on mountains of data, not just the web, but our thoughts, dreams, desires and viewing habits. Speaking of viewing habits, also check out the top trends in Twitter, and Digg.

The 15 Biggest Internet Controversies of the decade– mainly social networking issues (MySpace, Twitter and Facebook), also issues of censorship (China and Amazon’s censorship of gay and lesbian literature), filesharing and net neutrality. I just remember in 2001-2 telling other librarians in a zine about Google when it first cam out. A lot has happened since then.

Another myth busted, namely the 3-clicks rule, which stipulates that any content on a website or intranet should only be three clicks away from a home page. Usability testing by Jared Spool has shown that users don’t mind how many clicks are involved, provided they know they’re on the right path. What is entailed then, is designing navigation that is intuitive and allows users to ‘scent’ the information.

More library blogs– Lisnews published every year a list of 10 library blogs to read each year, here is a retrospective list of the last four years. Some are good, some are not so good…