Monica3800’s Weblog

This blog is tracking my Library 2.0 journey.

Archive for October, 2007

The value of gaming

Disco Fever in L2 ClassLast week in class we played games as has well documented in the biblioblogosphere. I observed DDR, Guitar Hero, Second Life and Brain Age. I even participated in Brain Age and Second Life. The night demonstrated some of the concepts from Squire and Steinkuehler’s Meet the Gamers article that I found most compelling, exciting and heartening both as a future librarian and as a new parent.

Squire and Steinkuehler credit gaming culture with developing skills in players such as focusing on “expertise rather than status”, “negotiat[ing] multiple, competing information spaces that span different media”, and providing “access to social networks” leading to “access to both collective information and collective intelligence”. I could see these concepts mostly in Second Life. Second Life was the most complex of the games we explored in class and it opens up worlds of opportunity to players. DDR and Guitar Hero were fun and required some risk taking (the risk of looking silly can sometimes be the biggest one!) that Levine outlined (in Library Technology Reports in Sept/Oct 2006) as key to the gaming culture.

I love giving kids a chance to gain confidence through games that entail risk taking and trial and error. I never truly understood the importance of learning from and not fearing my mistakes until I was well out of college. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve totally learned that yet. I think it’s a huge accomplishment if we can teach our kids not to get bogged down by the culture of perfect that dominates our world.

Right now I’m watching my young son try to figure out how to crawl through trial and error and lots of risk taking (cringe…) Every day is a game for him and he exudes adventure and possibility. I saw some of that during our gaming night. Keeping us all connected with that part of ourselves is so important. So, now I go back to worrying about the dog tearing up the house, paying the mortgage and how much gray I have in my hair. My son has given me a much better sense of the importance of fun, games and living in the moment. Our class gave me a chance to test that out in a different environment!


Human tetris

An idea for our next class game night.

Cabinets of Curiosity

I missed class last week due to a business trip to San Francisco. I had a little fun time and visited the SF Museum of Modern Art (great place!) I saw a Joseph Cornell exhibit entitled Navigating the Imagination. Cornell’s art consists largely of boxes and collages in which he displays found objects (he also did experimental film making among other things). Some of his works are cabinets of curiosity which were popular in the Renaissance for organizing objects whose connections are not always obvious. The items are generally interesting to the cabinet maker and the cabinet maker is responsible for defining the meaning of the connections. It occurred to me that social networking via MySpace, Ning, Library Thing, etc is a modern day application of cabinets of curiosity. I guess it’s up to us how we use social networking to define the connections between ideas, people, etc that we find interesting.

Library My Space pages

I reviewed the following four library MySpace pages: Ball State University, New Orleans Public Library, Univ. of Alabama at Tuscaloosa MLIS progam, and Thomas Ford Library in Western Springs, IL. I found them through a combo of searching and linking between one another.

I thought the University of Alabama page was the most useful because it was to a targeted audience that is probably pretty receptive (MLIS students!) NOPL also had some really good information, but the page was a little hard to read. Ball State used their’s primarily to highlight resources available to students and did it in an engaging way with good titles and fun posts to show the usefulness of resources like the LitFinder database. The Thomas Ford library page was directed at teens and hadn’t been updated in awhile. Maybe I’m just old, but that one just had way too much going on.

Much like other web resources, MySpace pages seem to be as worthwhile as the time spent keeping them current and interesting. So much is dependent on the community/audience you’re serving as well. Using MySpace is another way to connect, so I think it’s a good use of time. My one caveat would be: if the page isn’t being updated anymore, take it down or it makes your library look less relevant, not more so.


I created a profile on Ning and joined the L2 group. Joining the group made me thing about the social networking in plain English demo we viewed for last week’s class and I really was struck by the value of this forum on Ning. The video emphasized how social networks in the real world are hidden, whereas those on social networking sites are easy to see. They likened the connections to a map. It didn’t take me long to find resources for L2 forum members looking for jobs, resume builders, etc.

I’m still slightly overwhelmed by the networking aspect of the site. I spent quite a bit of time orienting myself to the site, reading about the group and reading the archives. It takes work to maintain a presence on one of these sites. More and more, though , the value of the human connections not bound by geography are clear. I can get input from a variety of people in a variety of settings and areas about any L2 topic. What a great way to open up my world view and think about things differently.

IM Reference at SJCPL

I’m here in San Francisco for work and thought I might hook up with the Marin County Free Library. Sadly, I found out that there IM reference service has been suspended. It’s too bad to see such a service discontinued. I decided to contact St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend. Even though this was Michael’s former stomping grounds, I thought it wasn’t exactly cheating. I contacted the librarian on a Saturday afternoon and received a response within a minute and we chatted for about 15 minutes.

 SJCPL has been offering the service for nearly 3 years. The librarians like the service a great deal as it’s another way to reach out to the community. The patrons like the service, however the librarian I chatted with has some concern that the service might not be marketed as well as it could be. The patrons who do use it, use it a lot, but probably not enough of them know about it. I asked about teen usage and the librarian confirmed that mostly teens use it. I also asked if maybe it brought more teens into the library. That doesn’t seem to be the case, however, as most questions are addressed within the chat session. Monthly stats and transcripts are kept for evaluation purposes. There is no specific evaluation of the quality of the interaction with the patron. My thought was that it may be difficult to get IMers to stick around for an evaluation because of the nature of the interaction they’re looking for.  Additionally, the librarian pointed out that because they use a free cross platform IM application, even if the service was not used much, they’d keep it.

I did check out the library’s website and really liked their instructions for using the service. I also thought the hompage was clear that they offered the service, but if people aren’t going to the website, they could be missing out.  

I think IM reference is a great tool for libraries to use. I do see how it can be difficult to maintain especially if librarians aren’t excited about it. It was really nice to learn about this from someone who clearly enjoyed it and recognized it’s value to reaching out to the community. Kudos, SJCPL!  And finally, “hi” to Michael from SJCPL…

DDC or bust?

How ironic it is that my mind is a jumble as I consider all of the classification possibilities we have before us? I feel as though I should be having orderly thoughts about the order of things, yet no one answer comes to mind. I fully admit that I have no real attachment to Dewey. I don’t find it overly user friendly and it doesn’t speak to me as a patron. As a future librarian, I hope, as Buckland stated “to provide convenient access to materials that people want to see where they want to see them”. So what’s a girl to do?

I think I can’t come up with an absolute because there isn’t just one. Bottomline: we must respond to our users’ needs in organizing our collections and providing access. Schneider highlights Maricopa’s use of BISAC and Phoenix’s use of BISAC enhanced MARC records. Maricopa was able to be bold because they had a clean slate with which to work. Phoenix was bold in their own way by implementing use of the more”user-centric” BISAC codes overlaid onto existing records. Both libraries are embracing the philosophies of Library 2.0 as they engage patrons for rich user experiences and as their catalogs harness the collective intelligence of their patrons, the bookstore industry, and yes, even Dewey himself. We have to keep learning from our past as we move into the future.