At the Ref Desk (5/22/18): Got an IM request explaining in great detail (several sentences in fact) what kind of article the person was looking for. Only thing missing -- the topic. Oh well... [more...]
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Current Cites for March 2011

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 3/31/11 (4:09pm)

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Current Cites for March 2011 is out! You can find the issue here...

I wrote about two articles, first about a Library 2.0 postmortem written by Walt Crawford, and second, about an excellent study of library databases evaluated for accessibility which concluded, to universal embarrassment, "no database included in the study was rated as largely accessible".

Reference Fail

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 11/24/10 (9:31am)

Library-Journal-logoLibrary Journal's got an article getting a lot of attention by Jean Costello with the provocative title, "Why I Don't Use Libraries for Reference Anymore".

Current Cites for October 2010

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 11/7/10 (3:49pm)

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Current Cites for October 2010 is out! You can find the issue here...

Screencast on Using Drupal Mentioned in Code4Lib Journal

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 9/13/10 (7:37pm)

This is nice. The screencast I put together on creating a database listing using Drupal is mentioned in a Code4Lib article:

Code4lib Journal

"Creating a Library Database Search using Drupal"

When Florida Gulf Coast University Library was faced with having to replace its database locator, they needed to find a low-cost, non-staff intensive replacement for their 350 plus databases search tool. This article details the development of a library database locator, based on the methods described in Leo Klein’s “Creating a Library Database Page using Drupal” online presentation. The article describes how the library used Drupal along with several modules, such as CCK, Views, and FCKeditor. It also discusses various Drupal search modules that were evaluated during the process.

[h/t M. Weaver]

Hub of Communication

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 7/24/10 (2:15pm)

Pretty accurate description of a librarians' activities at the reference desk from last month's Computers in Libraries:

...With a telephone receiver wedged between your shoulder and your ear, you are waiting patiently while the patron on the other end expresses his information need: "I am looking for a book; it is blue ..." Beep, beep -- a tone alerts you to the presence of a second caller. Just then, ding -- a little yellow envelope appears in the lower-right corner of your computer--a decade earlier, a voice would have kindly reminded you that, "you've got mail." Ding -- a new window pops into existence; an instant message. Amid all of this confusion, a patron walks up to the desk, crosses her arms, and taps her foot impatiently. You smile and hold up your index finder -- the universal signal for "one moment please." Ding -- something is flashing in the toolbar: your text messaging service. In a desperate attempt at triage, you are clicking away feverishly, minimizing and shuffling windows, each containing a separate application. Oh, and don't forget about your library's Facebook and Twitter accounts ... [Johnson, Benjamin E., "Google Voice", Computers in Libraries, (30, 5): June 2010]

Current Cites for June 2010

Submitted by Leo Klein on Mon, 7/5/10 (2:50pm)

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Current Cites for June 2010 is out! You can find the issue here...

Current Cites for May 2010

Submitted by Leo Klein on Fri, 5/28/10 (6:08pm)

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Current Cites for May 2010 is out! You can find the issue here...

Is Steve Jobs a Role Model for Librarians?

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 5/1/10 (8:08pm)

steve-jobs-ipad-apple-ap.jpg I'm hijacking the title of an editorial in the latest issue of Journal of Academic Librarianship because I believe it illustrates a problem rather than a solution to our approach as librarians to technology.

In the piece, the author describes two approaches to meeting user needs:

...[To] wait for someone to tell you what they want (which assumes they know their needs and the solution possibilities clearly) or to know your customer and the solution possibilities well enough to provide a useful solution that would likely never have occurred to them.

So which, according to the author, should we pick? Why the latter, of course, which the author calls "opportunity-driven" and characteristic of Steve Jobs:

As trained information specialists who are also dealing daily, upfront and personal, with the changing information environment, I believe we are particularly well positioned to develop the insights and perspectives that allow us to see opportunities and possibilities that are not as clear or as obvious to our patrons.

The obvious, almost classic problem with this approach is that it moves the focus from our users to ourselves and while that might make for applause lines at library confabs where we're basically talking to ourselves, it risks ending up with solutions more suited (surprise, surprise) to our own needs rather than to those of our poor 'benighted' users.

The fact is, the library doesn't exist in a vacuum. Sure, we're in the information business but so are a lot of others. When our users come to us, they don't want a "19th-century library" as the author jokes. They want everything online and easy to find -- just like they've come to expect on every other site that seeks to attract their business.

To do this, we don't have to reinvent the experience. We don't need Steve Jobs even if we could afford him. All we need is to do our homework, to keep the focus always on our users, seeing what they prefer and how they prefer to work, melding our own wares to their requirements. Our users have already told us what they want. It's in the usage statistics of the most popular websites. Now all we need are librarians smart enough and sharp enough to listen to what they're saying.

Institution: 

Current Cites for April 2010

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 4/20/10 (12:26pm)

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Current Cites for April 2010 is out! You can find the issue here...

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