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Results 1 - 25 of 117
1. Bright Shiny Things

Being stuck in Novelville and thinking I'll never write another short story again - you know the drill - I visited Aaron Polson's blog yesterday and at the sight of the most wonderful cover of the 'Dead Bait' anthology I had pangs of I-want-to-be-in-an-anthology. Okay, so Dead Souls is launching at FantasyCon this weekend, but I was beyond reason.

Anyhow, this morning I received an email from the aforementioned Mr. Polson, who when he's not warping inspiring children, and writing creepsome stories is also an editor, who informed me (and many others) that the Fifty-Two Stitches anthology is now available to buy. And there I was all woe-is-me only a day before. Check out the Amazon listing and see my bright, shiny name.

11 Comments on Bright Shiny Things, last added: 9/21/2009
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2. Somebody Else Saturday - KV Taylor


Post Subtitle: Where's Wes Craven when you need him?

After a week of 'look at me, look at me', it's time to concentrate on someone else for the weekend. Drum roll please. The victim this week is KV Taylor, you can call her Katey.

I already knew Katey was super cool, not only does she know a heck of a lot about dead composers and dead artists (for which we could point at her and call her a zombie lover, because although they're dead, their souls continue - did someone just vomit at the back), but our Katey also follows the hippest new bands and is a comic book geek.

Cool, hippest - just set me up a room in the geriatric ward.

Anyhow, when she posted a previously published story, Lime Green Closet, on her blog a few days ago, I figured it would be an enjoyable lunch time read. What I didn't expect was to carry it to bed with me. Now I don't mean I lay there looking at the closet worrying about monsters (or white paper in the dark). For one thing I'm a Brit, we don't have closets in our bedrooms. Well most of us don't (we ignore the rich). The one we do have (we call our closet a cloakroom) lives at the bottom of the stairs and was giving me no cause for worry at all.

A pause for you to digest my rambling. Hope the glass from the computer screen didn't scratch your throat.

While fighting insomnia, I began to replay the story as a Twilight Zone episode and thought it would make a good creepy movie. I mean expand on it, and write the screenplay already. Oh right, she's working on a book (The Resurrectionists - of which you can read snippets every Wednesday on her blog), but I'm sure she has time to ring around Hollywood or some cool Japanese studio and get this story made into a movie for me.

And to end the abuse of Katey, she's also a Morrigan Books twice published author. You can find her short stories in the anthologies, Voices and Grants Pass. I'd say go check her out, but most of you know her already.

7 Comments on Somebody Else Saturday - KV Taylor, last added: 7/18/2009
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3. Another yessss!

Gilgamesh Press / Morrigan Books have accepted my story 'When The Cloak Falls' for their anthology, The Age of Blood and Snow.

The anthology is edited by Skadi meic Beorh and is slated for publication around about Christmas time. I know what everyone is getting for Chrismas this year.

Happy, happy, happy. Can't wait to see who else is in the TOC.

11 Comments on Another yessss!, last added: 6/1/2008
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4. The Wolf Dude and I are in envy mode

I'm in a happy, happy mood... I almost have a title for The Poisoned Apple II - Okay, let me rephrase that. I thought I had the perfect title for TPAII but it garnered a raised eyebrow and an 'are you sure', so the brain is still ticking over.

Anyway, I'm browsing the aisles of Asda (large British supermarket known as Walmart in the US) and I come upon the little dude below. I had to have him. He has a strange walk (like me) and a gruff voice (unlike me) and sings rather badly (yep, just like me). I'd like to show him moving and singing on video but a) I can't upload videos to my computer and b) he's a doll, I mean you're not exactly missing out. Anyway, he is now my inspiration for the fearsome Wolfram Lavoisier in the above book. Oh, and the title relates to him and the more I think about it the worse it sounds.



Next we have two fabulous books that arrived in the post this morning from Morrigan Books. I squealed when I saw the parcel and I'm not even in one of them. At this juncture in the post let us take a moment to think of poor old Frog and his Mail Order Bride who are yet to find a home. *Cough Cough* to the people at Hotel Guignol where the story is currently submitted (along with, I imagine, many other Voices rejects). This book contains, among others, a story by the fabulous K.V. Taylor. 'The Mirror' is set in room 105. Katey, I am insanely jealous - the book looks awesome.

The other book is How to Make Monsters by Gary McMahon. A collection of 14 short stories - and kudos to Mr. McMahon, for whom among us doesn't want a collection of their stories in print.




And here we have the cool Wolf Dude and the spines of the books - because I love spines of books and I'm loving my Wolf Dude.


19 Comments on The Wolf Dude and I are in envy mode, last added: 9/29/2008
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5. The Anthology That Wouldn't Die

It's beginning to feel like TOC week - apologies for one Table of Contents following another, but this one was far too cool to ignore. The TOC for Dead Souls has been announced and it features two Scousers (aka people from Liverpool) - that is me and Mr. Ramsey Campbell.

Okay can someone please pick me up off the floor.

Now, Mr. Campbell doesn't realise it but I think I may have been in his head for some time. Apparently his novel The Face That Must Die features a main character called Cathy Gardner who just so happens to live in Liverpool. Someone (an Editor about ten years back) told me that not only does the character live in Liverpool but in the same suburb as me. I've checked that bit out on the internet (will you just buy the book already) and that part seems to be a no (apparently she lives in Cantril Farm, I don't), though he has written stories based in my suburb (concealed for fear of fans stalking my home - ahem!).


Anyway, here's the TOC (in alphabetical order):

Elizabeth Barrette - Goldenthread
Ramsey Campbell - The Dead Must Die
Stephanie Campisi - The Ringing Sound of Death on the Water Tank
Michael Colangelo - Poseidon’s Claw
Brendan Connell - Black Tiger
Tom English - Dry Places
Paul Finch - June
Catherine J. Gardner - When the Cloak Falls
Ken Goldman - Mercy Hathaway is a Witch
Robert Holt - In the Name
Robert Hood - Sandcrawlers
Sharon Irwin - Begin with Water
Carole Johnstone - The Blind Man
Christopher Johnstone - The Unbedreamed
Lisa Kessler - Immortal Beloved
Lisa Kessler - Subito, Piano
Rebecca Lloyd - Contaminator
Anna M. Lowther - The Price of Peace
Gary McMahon - A Shade of Yellow
Bernie Mojzes - The Collector
T. A. Moore - Genus Loci
Reece Notley - Tatsu
James R. Stratton - Your Duty to your Lord
Michael Stone - The Migrant
Simon Strantzas - More to Learn
Ben Thomas - The Pagans
Bill Ward - When they Come to Murder Me
Kaaron Warren - The Blue Stream
Ron Yungul - The Lords of Chickamauga

14 Comments on The Anthology That Wouldn't Die, last added: 11/3/2008
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6. Dead Souls





The anthology 'Dead Souls', containing my story 'When the Cloak Falls', is now available to pre-order from Morrigan Books.

Peter Stubbe, a 16th century German man who was known as the Werewolf of Bedburg, is the inspiration behind When the Cloak Falls with dashes of red added to spin it into a dark fairy tale.




Bernie Mojzes - The Collector
T. A. Moore - Licwiglunga
Carole Johnstone - The Blind Man
Tom English - Dry Places
Sharon Irwin - Begin with Water
Robert Holt - In the Name
William Ward - When they Come to Murder Me
Chris Johnstone - The Unbedreamed
Elizabeth Barrette - Goldenthread
Catherine J. Gardner - When the Cloak Falls
Anna M. Lowther - The Price of Peace
James R. Stratton - Your Duty to your Lord
Kenneth C. Goldman - Mercy Hathaway is a Witch
Lisa Kessler - Immortal Beloved
Lisa Kessler - Subito Piano
Michael Stone - The Migrant
Robert Hood - Sandcrawlers
Reece Notley - Tatsu
L. J. Hayward - Wayang Kulit
Rebecca Lloyd - Contaminator
Ramsey Campbell - The Dead Must Die
Stephanie Campisi - The Ringing Sound of Death on the Water Tank
Paul Finch - June
Gary McMahon - A Shade of Yellow
Kaaron Warren - The Blue Stream


And don't forget, you can also pre-order Grants Pass. And here's a hint to wet your appetite (or not if you're a vegetarian), one of the Grants Pass authors is the victim of tomorrow's Somebody Else Saturday.

9 Comments on Dead Souls, last added: 7/19/2009
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7. Fantasy Sports and Real Information Literacy

Check out Paul Waelchli’s article in the January 2008 issue of C&RL News in which he expands on his blog posts about information literacy and fantasy football.

Librarians’ Sport of Choice: Teaching Information Literacy through Fantasy Football

“Librarians want students to effectively identify and evaluate information and make decisions based upon what they discover. These are just some of the skills that an information literate student successfully applies. These are the same skills that more than 19 million people use on a daily or weekly basis playing fantasy sports.1 As the NFL football season comes to a close, millions of Americans, some as young as 12 years old, have spent the past few months connected to information literacy. They just don’t know it.

The challenge for librarians is to connect fantasy sports skills to information literacy and create building blocks for academic applications of the same concepts. One library, University of Dubuque, did just this by teaching fantasy football research to incoming student athletes. Through the lesson, students engaged in discussions of creditability, validity, timeliness, and search strategies to find and evaluate fantasy football information….

The high level of player investment creates educational opportunities for librarians. According to a 2006 study by the Fantasy Sports Association, a large number of college students play fantasy sports. Librarians can build upon the information literacy skills that students are already unconsciously using through fantasy sports play. The successful fantasy sport player consistently applies four of the five ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards (2000)….

At the end of the sessions, the students completed a short evaluation that assessed both criteria for evaluating sources and library perceptions. More than 80 percent of students were able to describe two of three appropriate source evaluation criteria and more than 60 percent provided all three. The students were asked to describe what research meant to them before the session and responses included, ‘headaches,’ ‘work I didn’t want to do,’ and ’school work.’ The responses to the same question after the sessions showed a dramatic change in perspective and included, ‘making sure one is getting accurate information,’ ‘comparing and knowing where I’m getting my information,” and “fun work.” While the ‘fun work’ might be a stretch when homework is involved, it does show a change in perspective and awareness about research. One student first said that before the session, research meant ’school,’ but afterwards he responded, ‘everything.’

In addition to the change in perception of research, the student athletes were asked about their perception of librarians. Prior to the fantasy football orientation session, the students had a 66 percent ‘very positive’ impression of librarians. After the session, the students “very positive” perception was more than 90 percent. While these results are not scientific and large enough to generalize, they show a distinct change in students’ impressions of libraries and their own abilities. One student stated, ‘I made the fantasy football connection to looking up school stuff quick, it worked well.’ “

And if you haven’t seen it, Paul’s chart illustrating which of the ACRL Information Literacy Standard are involved in playing Final Fantasy, Halo, and Madden (football) is also well worth your time.

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8. More Undead Ends




Undead Dead End

Originally uploaded by herzogbr

In response to my post about IM widgets at dead ends, Brian Herzog offers a great example of using a greasemonkey script to provide an email door out of the “no search results” page of his catalog. Since his library doesn’t offer IM reference, this is the next best thing to inserting a librarian back into the search process.

Because greasemonkey only works with Firefox, users of other browsers won’t see the form, but that’s why there’s an email address at the top. Could this be used with databases, as well? Probably only if the vendor lets you customize the code on that page.

Hardy programmer types with full access to the backend of their catalog could add an HTML form to level the playing field in that respect.

Or, vendors could provide this type of functionality as part of the default system and the library could just specify where the email should go on a settings screen. There could also be a box to embed code for instant messaging widgets for libraries that offer IM help.

Brian is making the script freely available here.

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9. Win a Wii and Thank Blake, All at the Same Time

If you’re a regular online, you probably know or know of Blake Carver. Even if you’ve never met him, you know his work. He’s been running and maintaining the incredible LISNews hub since 1999. This contribution alone is why many of us admire him for his dedication and vision.

In 2002, Blake started LISHost, an affordable website hosting service for libraries and libraries. On the very rare occasion the LISHost server goes down, you can tell something’s amiss because half the known LIS world must house their sites there. I do, as does Michael Stephens, and we can both tell you from first-hand experience that Blake does a superhuman job of maintaining the server (especially security) and providing technical support.

I can’t think of a time when Blake hasn’t responded immediately when there was a problem, when he said no to a request to add software just for me, or when he didn’t come up with a creative solution to a problem no one else would have wanted to deal with. And for all of his hard work (truly, the man must not sleep), he charges next to nothing for the services you get.

Win a Wii! So to thank him for all of his efforts, both on our behalf and for the profession, Michael and I are raffling off a Nintendo Wii to help show our appreciation in the form of a fundraiser. Please note that neither LISHost nor LISNews is in financial trouble, and this is not a call to “save” them. This is simply a way for us to acknowledge Blake’s efforts and thank him for everything he does.

So here’s how it works. Everyone who donates $10 or more to LISHost by 11:59 p.m. on March 14, 2008, will be eligible to win the Wii. We’ll pull a name out of the digital hat, so-to-speak, and send you the Wii if you’re the lucky winner. To enter/donate, click on the button below. Your donation is your entry, as we’ll have a full list of names from Paypal.

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10. Syracuse Library Game Lab Gets Funding from Gaylord

Shout out to Gaylordg for helping get this project off the ground.

Professor receives grant to bring gaming to libraries, other campuses

“[Scott] Nicholson, an associate professor in the School of Information Studies, recently received a $5,000 grant from Gaylord Brothers, a library supply company located in Syracuse, to begin building a portable library game lab. Money from the grant will specifically go toward purchasing projectors, consoles, screens, accessories and games, Nicholson said.

‘This was a great way for Gaylord to support Syracuse University, the community and gaming libraries in general,; said Henry Orr, director of business development at Gaylord. He also noted that the credit for the grant should go to Gaylord’s President and CEO Guy Marhewka….

Nicholson’s goal is to explore the implications of offering gaming as a library service. Additionally, he hopes to study the entire gaming experience and how gaming will change the attitudes of students toward the library.

‘Gaming activities are like the new coffee shop in Bird Library; it’s not about the coffee so much as the social atmosphere it creates,’ Nicholson said….

‘Gaming is currently the wild, wild west of libraries,’ Orr said….

The Library Game Lab project will occur in three main phases, depending on the availability of outside funding. Nicholson has been working on the first phase of the project for the past year, working with students to survey libraries and how they view gaming….

The project’s current phase, to create a portable library game lab, will be followed by the next phase, to increase awareness about the project.

‘With this project, I will travel to library conferences and expose librarians to the spectrum of games, talk about what types of games are best for certain demographic groups with libraries and collect more data about what is happening,’ Nicholson said.

The third and final phase of the project will be to set up research projects, which will explore how the different types of games relate to different types of people.

‘This will be the ongoing life of the lab - to analyze new games and game types, to recommend the best games for different goals and demographic groups and to work with industry to help them create gaming experiences more suited for a library/school setting,’ Nicholson said.

Nicholson said as soon as he is able to secure more funding to build the program, he hopes to start aggressively drawing in students to help with the project. So far he has relied heavily on volunteers to help with research and promoting the program. In addition, Nicholson is teaching a graduate-level iSchool class in May on gaming in libraries, and it has already received considerable student interest.

There has been both support and criticism from the Syracuse community at large regarding the Library Game Lab, but Nicholson said the key is getting people to understand that this is not about ‘first person shooters,’ but rather about ‘understanding how gaming works as a service and how libraries and schools can be engaged.’ ” [The Daily Orange]

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11. Lots of Happenings in LibraryLand

Superpatron Ed Vielmetti is speculating that Ann Arbor District Library might be getting ready to connect Twitter and the Library. Not that I’m putting any pressure on AADL, but if anyone was going to do it, I’d expect it to be them.

“Once upon a time I built a ‘superpatronbot‘ that searched the AADL catalog via a Jabber bot - quite reasonably you could build one of these upon Twitter’s direct message listings. Useful? Perhaps, especially if I could link a Twitter account to my library card and then be able to twitter

d aadl reserve anatomy of a murder dvd

and have it do a hold on it for me (or return some disambiguator if there were multiple choices).”

You can find the new, announcements Twitter feed for AADL at http://twitter.com/aadl.

If you want to ask AADL staff what they’re up to these days, head to the Library Camp taking place there on March 20. It’s free to attend, and the discussions are sure to fire up your brain.

I won’t be able to attend because I will be kicking off the day at the SOLINET/OCLC CAPCON event Changing the Way Libraries Do Business: Meeting the Challenges of the Web 2.0 World in Arlington, Virginia. I’ll be giving an overview of 2.0, but I’m really looking forward to hearing the other speakers for the day - Kate Sheehan, Jamie Coniglio, Jennifer Howell, and Karen Calhoun. You can still register, and you attend, please be sure to say hi.

If you can’t make either of these great events, you can try for Library Camp Kansas the day before, on March 19, another unconference that promises some great discussions.

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12. What Do Games Have to Do with Literacy?

I’ve been telling everyone who will listen about Paul Waelchli’s work mapping the ACRL Information Literacy Standards to skills used to play popular videogames. I’ve been waiting for someone to do the same thing for school libraries, and now we have our first step towards that goal because Brian Mayer has mapped New York State’s education standards to some modern board games.

Gaming, School Libraries and the Curriculum

“Games engage students with authentic leisure experiences while reinforcing a variety of social, literary and curricular skills. When an educational concept is introduced and reinforced during a game, it is internalized as part of an enjoyable experience and further utilized as one aspect of a strategy to attain success.

Games also carry other benefits. They help students connect and build social skills, working as part of a team or negotiating the most advantageous situation for themselves. It also provides an opportunity for students to to explore a host of life skills not inherent in the curriculum , but important for success. Some of these include: micro-managing resources and options; actively re-evaluating, re-prioritizing and re-adjusting goals based on uncertain and shifting situations; determining acceptable losses in an effort to obtain an end goal; and employing analytical and critical skills to more authentic social experiences.

Here is a list of NYS standards currently supported by a well established school game library:

NYS Social Studies Standards:

  • Standard 3: Geography Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live—local, national, and global—including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth’s surface.
  • Standard 4: Economics Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of how the United States and other societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, how major decision-making units function in the U.S. and other national economies, and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and non-market mechanisms.

Several more are listed in the post, so please click through to see just how good a fit this can be.

If you still question whether there are literacies (especially information-related ones) involved in playing videogames, ask yourself if those same things happen around playing board games. If your answer is that yes, they do, what then is the difference between learning those skills through board games and learning them through videogames? Brian’s work helps illustrate the similarities but even more importantly, it shows how easily a school library could start out with the familiar world of board games as a way to implement gaming services and engage students more interactively in learning information literacy skills. Thanks, Brian!

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13. Mutating Libraries

Slate has an interesting slideshow with the slightly misleading title Borrowed Time: How Do You Build a Public Library in the Age of Google. I say misleading, only because the author literally means “build,” as in physical building. It doesn’t take into account staff or any web-based services at all, so why even mention Google? Even though it’s an incomplete picture, I found the last slide especially interesting.

“Ross Dawson, a business consultant who tracks different customs, devices, and institutions on what he calls an Extinction Timeline, predicts that libraries will disappear in 2019. He’s probably right as far as the function of the library as a civic monument, or as a public repository for books, is concerned. On the other hand, in its mutating role as urban hangout, meeting place, and arbiter of information, the public library seems far from spent. This has less to do with the digital world—or the digital word—than with the age-old need for human contact.”

I missed Dawson’s original post about the extinction timeline last year, so it was news to me that libraries will disappear in just 11 years. I tend to agree more with the Slate author because for me, libraries are about a lot more than just books or study carrels. That’s why I think there’s room for things like gaming in today’s library. (Thanks, Dad!)

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14. Happy Easter!!!

Happy, Happy, Happy Easter - and yes, I have already had too much chocolate. I'm kind of procrastinating at the moment. And later I'll not only be procrastinating but sweating. I am going to face an old, old fear... Wait for it...

The evil that is The Wizard of Oz! Cue clip:




The film creeps me out and I don't know why. So now that I am old and brave, well older and a little bit braver, I am going to tackle it. Next up The Omen!!!

Been a bad week, been a good week.

First the bad, my zombie story for the 'Bits of the Dead' anthology was rejected (and I have a feeling if I submit again, come the zombie invasion, the editor is going to post a McDonald's sign above my house). Now the good, or almost good... Morrigan Books are, I quote 'seriously considering' my story 'When the Cloak Falls' for The Age of Blood and Snow anthology. Of course that is by no means an acceptance, or even a hint of one, but at least they didn't change their address, phone number and go into hiding.

Okay, must go now, more Easter Eggs to hunt for... Read the rest of this post

7 Comments on Happy Easter!!!, last added: 3/26/2008
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15. I Want

I received a “mysterious” email today, which led me to the official website (nothing there yet), and then to Amazon to get details. They had a great trailer for the game, but I was surprised to find that you can only “share” their video links via email to one person. Go figure. So then I went to YouTube, where I found several trailers, all of which I could embed here if I wanted to.

Talk about narrative in games. I’m a puzzle gamer, so this is now at the top of my list. Even if you’re not, though, it’s worth it to watch the trailer, as it’s more interesting than many Hollywood movie trailers.

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16. Viewing the ALA Universe

I ran into a frustrating issue at work last week. To try to help solve it, I created the ALA Universe in order to help staff track some of what’s going on internally. I had just received an invite to the beta of Netvibes Ginger, the new version that lets you create a public page anyone can view, so I decided to test it by creating this resource. I sent an email about it to all staff and encouraged them to sign up for their own accounts if they want to also track their unit’s blogs, wikis, etc. Then they could add the feed for new documents added to our internal knowledge management system. We’ll see if anyone finds it useful, but I’ve already gotten a few comments from staff who think it will be valuable to them.

ALA Universe

I could have used SuperGlu instead, the way I did two years ago for the La Grange Park Public Library proof-of-concept, but I wanted a scannable view, rather than a river of news. Michael Stephens has posted about Netvibes several times with other examples that might give you ideas for how you could use the site. Ginger should go live for everyone in a couple of weeks.

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17. More Gaming in the Library

Putting for Dollars: Library Raises More than $10,000 with Golf Fundraiser

“Winter winds and swirling snow failed to dampen the enthusiasm that greeted the inaugural miniature golf championship held at the Southworth Library on Dartmouth Street on Sunday afternoon.

‘We were a bit worried when we saw the snow, but we had a great turnout in spite of the weather,’ said Dolly Sharek, treasurer of the library foundation. ‘We had 274 golfers sign up, and we raised just over $10,000.’

As attendance reached its peak at around 2 p.m., all of the 100 putters borrowed for the occasion were in use on the 18-hole course that wound its way around the stacks on both floors, and a line had formed at the registration table.

Golfers of all ages were challenged by the unique aspect of the library course, which explored all corners of the building with a 10th hole that teed off on the second floor and finished on the first.

Some of those taking on the newly installed circuit were evidently more practiced than others.

The seventh hole brought library trustee Paul Pereira to his knees — and it was not to line up a putt. He was trying to retrieve his ball from beneath one of the stacks.” [SouthCoastToday.com]

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18. Browsing the Virtual New Bookshelf

Allen County Public Library has a cool way to browse its “new books” section online. Superpatron Ed Vielmetti first coded a “wall of books” a couple of years ago, and Mike Cunningham wrote a book cover browser for the 2006 Talis Mashing up the Library Contest, but this is the first public library implementation I’ve seen of something like this.

Books We Added to the Catalog Yesterday
Allen County Public Library Wall of New Books

Personally, I’d prefer to go straight to the catalog record when I click on a cover, but this is a great way to translate some of the warm fuzzies surrounding physical books in our buildings to our online catalogs. As someone who never goes to my home library for new books because they are embargoed from checkout for a week (even when I am holding them in my hand), this would be a far easier way for me to browse new books remotely without having to strain my eyes reading through three hundred lines of text. As a user (not a librarian), I’d also love to see the summary of the book appear in a mouseover and have this list broken out by genre. If my library offered these things and threw in NetFlix-style delivery, they’d have a devoted follower for life.

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19. Text Live Homework Help


McCracken County Public Library: Text Live Homework Help
Originally uploaded by The Shifted Librarian

Brilliant marketing idea from the McCracken County Public Library

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20. Tag Clouds Aren’t Just for Folksonomies Anymore

At various times during the last year, I’ve heard a librarian here and there say that tags and tag clouds are a passing fad, something our patrons don’t even know about let alone use, and useless compared to structured search.

However, thinking that tags are only about classification (good or bad) is missing the forest for the trees. Tag clouds can also be useful as navigation tools and for pattern recognition. Which is the name of Jason Griffey’s blog and must be why Jason helps prove this point.

2008 State of the Union as Tag Cloud

“Last year’s 2007 State of the Union Tag Cloud was such a hit, I decided to follow up again this year. A few major differences: Congress is mentioned a lot more this year, while health and oil don’t show up at all. This year’s address looks more active…instead of ‘fight’ we get ‘fighting.’ ” [Pattern Recognition]

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21. Undeadening the Dead Ends

We know that enterprising libraries such as The University of Calgary, McMaster University, Topeka Shawnee County Public Library, and Baylor University have implemented MeeboMe widgets at the dead ends of their catalogs. I’m wondering if any libraries have gone further to add this type of functionality to the “sorry, no search results” pages in the databases they pay for or on the 404 error pages on their websites, blogs, etc.?

The latter could be under our control (for many libraries, not all), but is there even a vendor out there that lets libraries customize the dead end messages? If you know of one, please let me know in the comments!

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22. Gaming Super Tuesday

  • Primary Game: Candidates as Consoles
    “As pundits ponder the resurgence of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, here’s a handy high-tech guide to the three Democratic frontrunners. Because as it happens, they’re best understood in relation to the top three video game consoles.” Click through to find out why Barack Obama is the Nintendo Wii, Hillary Clinton is the Microsoft Xbox 360, and John Edwards is the Playstation 3. [GigaOM, via Game Politics]
  • The 2008 Presidential Primary Candidates as D&D Characters
    “To help me decide I’ve translated each candidate into a D&D character. If you had to pick one based on the D&D attributes assigned, who would you select?” [Rhapsody Radish]
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23. Dance Your Fines Away

Last year, I noted a librarian who waives the fines of patrons who play DDR against her. This year, the Wadleigh Memorial Library makes it an official part of its Patron Appreciation Day.

Library Patrons Try to Dance Away Late Fees at Video Game Competition

“Library users with unpaid fines had a chance to redeem themselves Thursday during the annual Patron Appreciation Day at the Wadleigh Memorial Library.

Instead of a scolding when they arrived, delinquent patrons were received like party guests.

Patrons were invited to make good on unpaid fines by donating canned and packaged foods for the local soup kitchen or by entering a dance competition, ‘Dance Dance Revolution.’

To sweeten the pot, during most of the day the library served coffee, bagels, pastries and ice cream, donated by area businesses….

The teen and preteen girls who showed up to play Dance Dance included 18-year-old Missy Hutchins, who owed $5 in fines, and Elicia Vallier, 12, and Maria Romanenko, 11, who had no debts to pay.

Hutchins, who has been playing the video dance game for four years, including several as part of DDR club at Milford High School, won her round against Spofford and happily reported to the front desk with a coupon she used to pay off her $5 obligation.

The other girls took second turns competing against the librarian, just for fun.

‘Video games are things kids like to do, and we thought this would bring them in to the library,’ Spofford said before the dance contest began. ‘If they have fines, they don’t come in. We don’t want them to be afraid to come in.’ ” [Nashua Telegraph, via joystiq, thanks James!]

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24. Help a Researcher Study Media Literacy

If you can help with the following request, please contact Sarah directly. Thanks!

“I am curious if anyone knows of research (informal and formal) going on with undergraduates and media literacy. I’d like to hear about projects that look at usability and interface design and also any projects that measure visual or media literacy competencies. If you know of any relevant projects, contact Sarah Bordac, Instruction & Outreach Librarian @ Brown University and LIS doctoral student at Simmons College.”

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25. Caching in on Gaming in Libraries

One of my favorite things about going to conferences is getting to meet and talk with people I normally wouldn’t get to know. I had another such experience at Midwinter when I met Leslie Morgan, First Year Experience/Education Librarian with the University of Notre Dame’s Libraries. Last year, she received the Outstanding New Librarian Award for the State of Indiana because she is an avid supporter of information literacy and diversity programs issues in academic librarianship. She is also very active promoting literacy in the community where she lives.

I met her at Midwinter because Leslie is the chair of the Research to Practice Literacy Discussion Group that hosted a panel presentation about gaming and literacy by Scott Nicholson, Julie Scordato, and myself, along with discussion from the standing room only participants. I was unfamiliar with Notre Dame’s efforts around gaming, so my ears perked up when she began talking about what the librarians there have been doing around gaming.

My favorite initiative is a program they created for first year students. Called Caching in at the Libraries, this program played on the popular hobby geocaching in an attempt to help incoming students learn more about the various libraries and services on campus.

“225 First Year Students signed up to play the game which consisted of finding 17 hidden ‘caches’ throughout Hesburgh and the branch libraries. 40 students ended up finding at least some of the caches, and 26 students were able to find all of the hidden caches. 10 of these students won iPod Shuffles, and the others won the ND ‘Shirt’.

Though the turnout for the game was not as large as we had hoped, the students who participated were very enthusiastic about it. Many of them have commented on how fun it was, and how much they enjoyed visiting all the libraries. One participant volunteered this comment: ‘I know I’ve been on campus for only 3 weeks but I probably would’ve never found out about those libraries. They are very valuable and interesting. If I had to give any evaluation of the program, I’d say continue it. Very rewarding.’ Plans are in the works to survey participants to find out ways to improve the program for next year.” [IRIS Department Newsletter

Caching in at the University of Notre Dame Libraries

I think 225 participants is a darn good turnout for a first attempt, but their efforts didn’t stop there. In addition, the librarians hosted their first gaming night last December as an outreach activity for students.

“This year IRIS, with financial support from User Services and The First Year of Studies, hosted their first ever Game Night on December 12th and 13th - the official “reading days” before finals begin. The events took place in the library lounge and
featured coffee, cocoa, hot tea, a host of snacks, and several lo-tech games. Game Night is our effort to help relieve some of the stress of studying for finals, and it is loosely modeled on a program that has been hosted at St. Mary’s for the last few years.

No official count was taken, but somewhere between 300 and 600 students flocked to the library lounge to graze and game their troubles away. Games included Twister, Clue, Monopoly, Connect 4, Operation, Play-doh, various card games, and several coloring books and crayons. What games do students like to play? Operation and coloring were by far the most popular activities. Perhaps we had an abundance of pre-med and art students on hand!

Student’s reactions to Game Night were overwhelmingly positive. Roughly 60 students completed comment cards, and according to their responses they truly appreciated the food. Many suggested that we try to provide healthier snack alternatives such as fruit and milk. Many students liked coloring best, and one student suggested that we provide more hot guys! We’re not sure if that is in our budget, but we do hope to host Game Night during future finals weeks, and we welcome suggestions for easy and fun activities.” [IRIS Department Newsletter]

Now I’m very interested to track ND’s efforts, as it’s great to have more data from successful gaming initiatives, especially when they’re creative ideas.

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