Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Webware 100

The results of a poll about the best Web 2.0 sites are in and you can see the list at Here is the announcement for the Webware polling:

"We're kicking off the first user-generated Web 2.0 awards program: The Webware 100.

Why? Because there are more new sites and services than any mortal can possibly process, much less evaluate. And because the community of Webware users, in the aggregate, has a very good idea of what works and what's worth your time. This awards program will collate and organize that wisdom."

In the end almost 500,000 votes were cast. A lot!

The ten top vote getters in each category are listed in alpha order. Categories include: Browsing, Communications, Community, Data, Entertainment, Media, Mobile, Productivity and Commerce, Publishing, and Reference.

Certainly worth taking a look at and maybe adding to SLL 2.0 as a link.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus

The most recent post on the Britannica blog (worth pursuing if you haven't) talks about ten ways to test facts. It seems to me that the list would make a wonderful curriculum on the high school level and lower, as well as in the higher ed field.
It was more than a bit scary to read in Debra J. Saunders' column today this quote from Justice Thomas from his concurring opinion in the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case: "'the Constitution does not afford students a right to free speech in public schools.' Thomas cited Justice Hugo Black's dissent in the 1969 Tinker armband decision: 'Taxpayers send children to school on the premise, that at their age[!], they need to learn, not teach.'"
Without double checking the quotes (which may get me in some trouble) I think there is only one response to such Neanderthal thinking.
It seems to me that in this day and age students need to learn AND teach. And teachers need to learn AND teach as well. Certainly the premise which we are currently following in education seems to be heading in this direction. That's not to say that teachers and students don't have different roles in this dynamic but to baldly say students "need to learn, not teach" flies in the face of what is happening in education today. And to base Supreme Court freedom of speech decisions on such a premise is treading on very thin ice indeed.
I really can't believe that the principal and school district prevailed in this case given the fact that whatever the student did was off campus and was only done to attract attention. I definitely think we're going backwards here, folks, and Debra (not known as a raving liberal) seems to agree. At least California provides some protection from such an outcome here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Camels in Kenya!?

Here's another, more serious, video from a site called Rocketboom about a camel-transported book delivery system in Kenya. Camels carry books to remote schools which can't be reached by motor transport.
Also from ALA Direct.

Dexter: The Anti-Librarian

Hilarious! I found this referred on ALA Direct (one of my favorite sources for professional info). Since I already use SpongeBob SquarePants in my orientation for 9th graders I'm going to come up with a way of sharing this video with the kids. I think I'll refer to myself as the "anti-Dexter!"-- at least that's what I hope I am!!??

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How to Add a Label Cloud

I'd seen some "tag clouds" on various blogs and wondered how I could add one to "Continuing Education!" After some searching using the help button on the Blogger edit page I found a site with complete (and fairly complex) instructions. I tried it and it works. Be patient when attempting this edit but the instructions are clear if followed carefully. Instructions are found at Give it a try if you're willing to experiment like I am.
One thing--you do have to have some posts with "labels" already in place to make it work.
While I was at it I deleted my Flickr slide show and replaced it with a Picasa slide show. I have lots more pictures on Picasa and found another widget on Phydeau's blog (see above) which sets up a slide show using Picasa. You'd have thought Google would already have done this and I guess they did but evidently it's not quite as good as this one. Take a look--it's toward the bottom of the page and shows photos I took in 2003 in a trip to South Africa.
I can see how this would be useful on a website as well for a collection of photos of the library, school, etc.
Have fun!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Title change

After giving it some thought I decided to change the title of my log to reflect better what I think I'm trying to do here and be less confusing to those looking for the "School Library Learning 2.0" blog. I love the quote from Eric Hoffer, which appears at the head of chapter 1 in a new book I'm reading, called Homo Zappiens: Growing Up in a Digital Age. The authors are two Dutch gentlemen, one a professor, the other a graduate student at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. In later posts I'll give some insight into what these two see as they investigate those we have come to call digital natives.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

School's out!

Well, school is out as of yesterday and I am immediately looking forward to summer activities. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get AquaBrowser installed before the end of school (problems on both sides) but it shouldn't be too long. I'm really looking forward to sharing it with everyone when it's up and running.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A new award made possible by technology

Recently on the LM_NET list serve there has been a sharing of members' greatest accomplishments of the past year. I really couldn't think of much (well. of course, starting this little project would certainly count!) but then I thought of something which would be useful for this blog as well as for the list serve.
This year, for the first time, we were able to find out the senior who had checked the greatest number of books out their four years of high school. Follett's most recent upgrade of its Circ Plus software give us the whole list of what students have ever checked out. Now, of course, there has been some controversy about whether this is a good thing or not. But I decided I could use it to good purpose and so I did.
One girl, graduating tomorrow, was by far the most prolific library user during her high school years. I was able to present her with a nice certificate proclaiming her as the winner of the "Redwood Reads! Award," along with a gift card for $25.00 to a local book store. I'm the advisor to the Redwood Honor Society so I was able to make the presentation at our end-of-year senior honors banquet. The girl was so gracious and the crowd was so pleased that I'm sure it will become annual event!
I have to admit that reading promotion is not my strongest suit as an LMT and I'm always trying to figure out ways to get better at that part of my job. This seems to be one.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Khaled Hosseini at Book Expo

While perusing the NY Times Book Review online I ran across this video of Khaled Hosseini at the Book Expo. He is interviewed about hit to best-selling books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. He reads from his most recent book about the friendship between two women of very different backgrounds in Afghanistan. I will put the link in the 856 field of the MARC record for his current book when I catalog it. I try to add such links to records whenever I run across tem since it's so easy. Want to find out how? Just ask!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Technology--can't live with it, can't live without it!

I got remote access to my web catalog back today after a short hiatus when my IT guru, Becky, who I couldn't live without, was able to convince the district-level folks they need to open a port on the server so that users could see the catalog.
One of the issues we all face as we improve access to resources which are more and more digital is that we are part of a larger community and that most of us don't control every aspect of our environments as much we think we'd like to. In fact, I'm very happy leaving the technical side of things to those whose job it is to handle it.
This just hearkens back to the time when we initially set up the web OPAC and had the same issues about remote access. Many schools/school districts don't allow remote access to their OPACs for various reasons centering around security and hacking threats. There is evidently a real concern that people outside the system can bypass the security firewalls by accessing our OPACs. As I said I don't know enough about security to be able to say whether this concern is well-founded but I do trust those who say it can be a problem. In any case I'm glad to work for a district which values my professional judgment about such matters and is willing to make the system work for our libraries.
I'm sure I've mentioned AquaBrowser on this blog before. I'm hoping soon to be able to share this new interface with everyone. The same issue which arose with the web OPAC was also holding up the deployment of AB so I think we'll see some progress soon.

Friday, June 1, 2007

InfoLitLibrarian recently announced the development of a new undergraduate research custom search engine (CSE) for her students and is asking for contributions. In my response to her I explained that I had set up several CSEs for my students and staff and explained that they were much more specific than hers. I think it would be a huge task to come up with general research CSE since it would have to cover everything in the universe (like a library!). I much prefer the approach I have taken with CSEs linked to specific searches.
She also states in her post that she specifically excluded Wikipedia from her CSE. In most cases I haven't done that because I'm a Wikipedia user and advocate and believe, at least on the secondary level, that it is, like any other encyclopedia, a starting place for research.
I recently read a couple classes worth of papers written by tenth graders in response to their reading 1984 by Orwell. Their task in the paper was to find similarities between the themes of the novel and current events. Topics they chose to write about: the PATRIOT ACT, the uses of propaganda, torture, the right to privacy, etc. were fairly obvious but some really ran with the project and produced original and interesting papers. One thing I was impressed by was the references which they used. Although many did use Wikipedia, they also had many other references to articles from the libraries subscription databases, as well as things they had found on other online sites. Most included at least a book or two! I think kids do get the notion, if we tell them, that such tools as Wikipedia are useful in certain ways but not in others. Even at the college level, I have to ask: Is it right to encourage kids to "lie" about their use of "forbidden" resources like encyclopedias, Wiki or other? I'd much rather know a student is finding information someplace and posting it in their list of "Works Consulted" than the intellectual dishonesty exhibited when teachers and professors forbid students to even consult such tools.
If anybody else out there is developing CSEs I'd love to start setting up a little index to them so we are not, once again, having to "re-invent the wheel."
BTW, I just found a CSE directory which I will explore and report on later.