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

Hot! Hot! Hot!

So while one of my brothers is enjoying the snow with snowball fights on his lunchtime break in London, everyone at chez Bookgrrl is slowly sizzling in the heat in Ballarat.The weekend was passed by staying close to home as much as possible and only venturing out when necessary and early in the morning to the gym and farmer’s market. Necessary work was done in the morning or late afternoon, with the most onerous task being supplying everyone with cold drinks. Everyone is enjoying the mini pops inthe freezer and watermelon in the fridge.

While I currently have a mountain of books to get through before uni starts, I am always on the look out for something else to read (which is probably why the mountain beside my bed never seems to get smaller). I’m not sure though I’d be reading any of the 10 strangest books in the English Language, but the one on decorating for Goths sounds interesting…

I posted a couple of days ago on children searching on the internet and the need for a child-friendly interface. This article highlights some of the trends and best practices that websites which have been designed for children have in place. It advocates conventional best practices, such as use of bright colours, strong navigation, large and memorable elements a games section and usability testing. It also suggests using animation, sounds, interactivity and Flash- all of which are a strain on bandwidth and if a user is on a slow connection, make it sloooow. And from experience kids are not the most patient of users…

Finally, here are a couple of resolutions we geeks ought to have as part of our list of resolutions. I know it says before 2010- but I think I should be able to push it out to the end of January.

Currently melting in front of the PC, so am adjourning to the fridge and a refreshing gin and tonic glass of water…

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…

Herding Cats

I had been trying to write this post for 3 hours while being inundated with requests to get me dressed, I want a biscuit,I want a nectarine,  and for kisses and cuddles, the last which is very hard to ignore and turn down :). At one stage I had Miss BG is sitting on my knee singing while I typed. I saved it for another day, which is today!

I’ll bet there is a library database for it!– a great clip advertising library databases in a public library. I was involved with databases in a previous position when I worked at the State Library of Victoria,and still have a soft spot for their great, targeted content.

Movie Poster re-designs– a look at 70 years of movie posters and how their design has evolved. Great to look at from a design/readability perspective.

Does the ‘fold’ matter? According to the article, after heaps of user testing, the fold on a web page is not a barrier to information further down the page. People do scroll- apparently…(Yes just a tad sceptical!)

Factors that affect usability– love this article and the resources it leads to. It looks at navigation, content above the fold, accessibility, typography, analytics and errors.

100 essential websites– the Guardian has put a list together of what every geek should be aware. Tres cool!

And it’s official- I am a geek A fellow geek has compiled a series of categories, obsessions, activities, terms, and idols onto a Master Diagram of Geek Culture, of which I can identify all too closely…

Bits and pieces

A workshop on effective web searching and deep web for library staff, most of whom are uber-web searchers anyway. Talk about pressure…Luckily we were able to wow them with a preview of the new Google interface. You can try it out here

Am quite glad this flowchart on becoming a librarian was not available when I was in library school- I think my career path would be quite different. Either that, or I would have had to acquire a lots of cats..

As I’m old enough to know a time before the World Wide Web, this article on the evolution of web design is more of a walk down memory lane.

I just found out the library Christmas lunch has been rescheduled to this Friday- already jampacked with Master BG’s Christmas party at kinder and my little brother’s birthday party in the evening. The rescheduling rigmarole is exactly the same as last year- no sooner would I be able to confirm babysitting arrangements for a day then it would be changed. Not happy Jan, not happy…