Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things 4, 5 and 6, Flickr

I must confess that, when I went to flickr for the fist time, I wasn't terribly impressed. I thought to myself "What's the big deal?" Loading pictures into a website is nothing new. People have been doing it since graphic user interfaces allowed them (or required them) to. Then I started to play with mash ups and image generators and I understood that flickr is more than simply putting images on the we for others to see. It is so easy to manipulate images and create new things with them that, by the time I was done with this steps, I was left wanting more. I used the tools provided by flickr to create the motivational poster and the trading card shown at the right.
I think libraries can use this tool both as a learning activity and as a promotional device. Libraries can use flickr to show users how to manipulate images and inspire those inclined to the visual arts to create projects of their own. This way, libraries can connect artists or aspiring artists with the capabilities of the web.
Additionally, I believe this tool can work wonders for libraries as a promotional tool. Libraries can build photo-blogs promoting library activities, not just by posting pictures of the activities but also mashing the pictures with information useful for those who want to attend the activities, like weather and traffic conditions, links to personnel in charge of the activity so questions about the activity can be asked in real time, etc.
'Til next time,dudes!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thing 3: RSS feeds

Like many other aspects of Web 2.0 I have not explored, I have never set an RSS account before. I must agree with my fellow blogger Taryn that it was very easy to do. Now I can get notified when my favorite blogs and web sites post new content, without having to actually visit the sites I am interested in.
In addition to setting up RSS feeds for some of the bloggers in my class, I added one for Unshelved, the library comic strip. I am sure that, If you are a librarian, or aspiring to become one, you already know about Unshelved, but if you haven't heard of them before, I highly recommended, specially if you want to be a public librarian.
Another library-related item I added to my aggregator is the What I Learned Today blog. This blog combines library, open source and Web 2.0 topics. It is extremely interesting and I predict I will be seeing a lot of stuff related to the topics in this blog in this and other library classes.
'Til next time, dudes (and dudettes)!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thing 2: Library 2.0

After watching Abrams video and reading Blyberg's blog, it is very apparent to me that the advent of the Internet and, specially, the evolution that gave rise to Web 2.0 has had a visible impact on libraries and will continue to pose challenges for libraries and information providers as new technologies develop and come to public acceptance.
The changes that this phenomenon has brought to the libraries is most apparent in the library's current layout. Before the Internet became widely accepted and used by the public, libraries didn't have computer labs, only the bigger library systems had media centers, and electronic information retrieval, like internet access in the library, or electronic journal searching and browsing was a reserved domain of librarians. Nowadays, even the smallest branches offer some form of internet access for their patrons, and said patrons can perform information searches electronically, both on the Web and internal library resources, with little or no interference or help from the information professional.
I believe that the patrons' ability to use electronic information retrieval systems (computers and the Internet, Library's OPAC) has changed dramatically the relationship that the patron and the librarian used to enjoy. I am not trying to romanticize the library of old, but the transformation of the relationship between library user and librarian seems to have evolved in the same way that, for example, grocery shopping has. Allow me to elaborate:
In the days of the front counter, Mom and Pop grocery stores, a person would come to the counter, state his/her need to the shopkeeper, and the shopkeeper would locate the item in question. Nowadays, with the creation of supermarkets and the self-service concept of selling groceries, a shopper has free access to the items available for sale, requests help in a need-to-know basis and, in many stores, a shopper does not even have to have help paying for and bagging groceries. If correctly planned, a shopper can do his or her entire shopping done without ever encountering an employee.
Libraries are following a very similar storyline as Mom and Pop store-Supermarket's. A library patron can satisfy his/her whole information needs without ever requestiong help or even encountering a librarian/employee, thanks to automation, user friendly OPAC's and unrestricted access to books and materials. Librarian's assistance to patrons has moved out of the normal operations and has become a series of sporadic events, relegating his/her knowledge to internal operations of the library.
These are changes that have already occured in our libraries, but I believe the most important chance that will occur with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies will redefine libraries, from information access points into the broader realm of the social services. These technological advances have created a new class of "information poor" people. People who do not have enough resources to have a computer, or do not have the necesssary skills to retrieve adequate information from one, rely on libraries to have their information needs met. Just like the Department of Human Services and Federal and State health programs attempt to meet the needs of those economically poor, libraries currently supply the needs of those who do not have the resources to find needed information. Information poverty is no more different than economic poverty, and, in many instances, they are closely related. Among the many changes that libraries will experience, Web 2.0 will trasform libraries into a form of social service, providing not only necessary information, but also tools for those who can't afford them.
'Til next time, dudes!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My First Post

Hello everyone!
I would like to use this first post to tell you a little bit about myself and my thoughts about creating my first blog.
My name is Sergio Lopez, but most people know me as Serge. I was born in Mexico City, where I spent most of my childhood. In my early teen years I moved to the United States and relocated in Salem, Oregon. I worked and went to school there before moving to nearby Portland for my college studies. I got my bachelor's degree in General Science and moved to Norman, Oklahoma, seeking a degree in Nursing. Unfortunately, everyone and their dog wanted to become nurses at the time, and couldn't get into Nursing School, so I started looking for alternatives.
Before moving to Norman, I had worked as a bilingual clerk for the Multnomah County Library System in Portland, and I loved my job. That was probably the first job I truly enjoyed (my past work experience would read like a "dirty jobs" anthology script). Therefore, I decided that, instead of getting a second bachelors in nursing, I would get my masters in Library Science. After all, academically, it was the logical thing to do, moving on from a bachelor's to a master's.
Currently I study full time and work full time as an administration assistant (formal term for "office lackey") at the reimbursement department at a mental health facility here in Norman.
Whenever I am not working or doing school assignments, I ride my bicycle (both out of joy and necessity), I play chess every once in a while, read and listen to music, I collect vinyl (mainly classical, blues and jazz), and, apparently, I also blog.
Creating my first blog was, for the most part, easy. The difficulties came when I had to load the avatar into my page. It simply could not be done. It is not a problem, though. Personally, I don't like the look that that yahoo avatar gives me. Makes me look like an overgrown, weirdly shaped baby.
So, here is my first post. In upcoming posts, I will blog about my experiences following the 23-things-on-a-stick, out of which this is part 1.
'Til next time, dudes!