“Talking Walls, Augmented Realities and Children’s Services” at NELA 2011 ITS Spring Event

Last Friday, I had the honor and privilege of co-presenting with my brilliant and amazing colleague Bonnie Roalsen at the 2011 Information Technology Section Spring Event of the New England Library Association.  The topic of the day was “Mobilize your patrons: library services in a hand-held world” and I thought the event was fantastic.  The day provided a terrific overview of various mobile services and some ideas on how libraries can better serve their “hand-held” patrons, including real examples that libraries can implement today. Links to all of the presentations can be found here, and I highly recommend checking them out.

Bonnie and I were part of an afternoon panel and discussion with Brian Herzog, the Swiss Army Librarian, and Christine Drew.  Our presentation was “Talking Walls, Augmented Realities and Children’s Services”, which covered how libraries can use QR codes to extend library services and programs, engage communities, and construct mobile knowledge networks.  We also touched a bit on augmented reality and some cool ways on how it can be implemented into library services.  Check it out below:

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Promoting events with Xtranormal

Ever since I saw my first Xtranormal video I wanted to make one. And I finally did get around to making an Xtranormal video to promote 1book4summer. Check out the final result:

Making videos with Xtranormal is easy.  If you can type, you can do it! It probably took me about two hours to make the video above, and most of that time was spent writing the script! Of course, now that I have made one, it will go much faster the next time. Either you can make one online directly through their website or download Xtranormal State and create the video through this program on your computer. After you register as a new user, you get 300 Xtranormal points that allow you to unlock certain scenes and characters. If I had been willing to purchase more Xtranormal points, I could have unlocked some really fun characters and scenes. However, I think the ones available with the free initial 300 points will serve most users just fine. After I created my little movie on Xtranormal State, I did add a title page and credits to the video using Windows Movie Maker.

Want to make an Xtranormal video but think you will need some help? The Daring Librarian has a great detailed overview on her wiki how to create videos with Xtranormal. Additionally, she has created this sweet At-A-Glance Comic Tutorial!

I had a blast making this video. If you haven’t used Xtranormal before, you should do it. It is a great tool for making videos to promote library events.  I think it would also be an awesome tool to use for a children and/or teen film making program.  What other ways do you think libraries could use Xtranormal?




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1book4summer: read, share, and discover great summer reads!

Today I want to share with you a project that I co-created with my colleagues: 1book4summer! And hopefully I can convince you to get involved!

Looking to take your summer reading program to a new level this year? Do you want to be part of a book group that your users can participate with wherever they are on the planet? Would you like to share your thoughts on great summer reads with others around the world or discover other great reading materials for yourself?

Check out 1book4summer! Inspired by Nancy Pearl’s “One Book” movement and Jeff Howe’s One Book, One Twitter and 1book140 Twitter book groups, 1book4summer is a global summer reading group which will vote to select a book to read this summer and discuss it entirely on Twitter. Additionally, participants will be able to share what they are reading at b3ok2.org through an interactive map with others around the globe and help people discover other great reads by location.

How does 1book4summer work?

The 1book4summer team, consisting of some of the world’s finest librarians and booksellers, has narrowed it down to a shortlist of four novels that are in the running for the inaugural 1book4summer book selection. Voting on Twitter will begin on June 7, 2011 to select the book title. Voting will end on June 21, 2011 at Noon (EST) and the book title will be announced. Then, the real fun begins! Not only will participants be able to read and tweet all summer, but also they will be able to share their favorite titles from around the world at b3ok2.org. And for those avid readers looking for other books to read this summer, they can discover great, new summer reads at b3ok2.org as well.

How can I participant in the book discussion?

When the discussion begins on June 21, it will be done entirely on Twitter. Dedicated hashtags will be used for each chapter. #1b4s_1 will be used for chapter 1, #1b4s_2 will be used for chapter 2, #1b4s_3 will be used for chapter 3, and so on. There is no set schedule and you can read and discuss the book as you’d like. There are no hard or fast rules, but please use the chapter hashtags to avoid any spoilers.

How can I share some of my favorite summer reads with everyone and find other great summer reads?

In addition to interacting with other 1book4summer participants through Twitter, visit b3ok2.org to share your favorite summer reads and discover other great books by location through an interactive map.

Join the team!

Come join in on the fun this summer! Follow @1book4summer for updates and #1b4s for the discussion. Visit b3ok2.org to share your favorite summer reads or to discover something new.  Become a fan of 1book4summer through our Facebook Page. Questions? Feel free to contact us through Twitter or e-mail us at 1book4summer at gmail dot com.

1book4summer logo designed by Jane Bleakley

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Buh bye library card, hello smartphone? (or, how NFC might replace everything in your wallet)

Maybe it won't matter if patrons forget their library card at home...as long as they remember their smartphone!

Have you heard of NFC? And no, I don’t mean the National Football Conference.  I am talking about Near field communication.  The Google Wallet FAQ (more on Google Wallet in a second) defines NFC as “a wireless technology that enables data transmission between two objects when they are brought within a few inches of each other. Smartphones enabled with NFC technology can exchange data with other NFC enabled devices or read information from smart tags embedded in posters, stickers, and other products.”  NFC is a subset of RFID, but NFC only works between objects no more than 4 inches from each other and it is used when security is needed. Smartphones enabled with NFC are already being used in Japan and Korea by people to purchase subway tickets, check in for flights, and get snacks from vending machines. It is starting to look like NFC might actually take off in the United States now as well.  Why? Well, not only are more and more NFC smartphones being released all the time (even the next iPhone may have it…stay tuned), but also Google introduced Google Wallet late last week.

Google Wallet is “an Android app that makes your phone your wallet. It stores virtual versions of your existing plastic cards on your phone. Simply tap your phone to pay and redeem offers using near field communication, or NFC.” And this is more than just another way for people to buy stuff.  Google Wallet “will be able to do more than a regular wallet ever could, like storing thousands of payment cards and Google Offers but without the bulk. Eventually your loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, even your keys will be seamlessly synced to your Google Wallet. And every offer and loyalty point will be redeemed automatically with a single tap via NFC.”  With partners like Citi, Sprint, and MasterCard, and merchants like Subway, Macy’s, and Walgreens signed on to participate, it does look like Google Wallet (and/or future competitor apps) is destined to replace our old physical wallet. “Whoa, not so fast Ryan! Are you crazy!? What about security? This NFC replacing your wallet is crazy talk!” Maybe not. A four digit PIN is required to use Google Wallet, and if a user’s phone is stolen, a PIN is needed to access a user’s financial data on a separate, secure chip…if that chip is physically tampered with, it self-destructs.  Compare that to a credit card…if my wallet is stolen, there is no PIN or self-destruct to protect my money! And, as Google points out, ten years ago, 70% of all individuals were afraid to buy stuff online, and now, over 70% of all individuals access their credit card information online.

No self-destruct built into this card if it gets stolen.

Libraries should definitely be paying attention to apps like Google Wallet that utilize NFC technology.  Before long, many of our patrons may begin to abandon their wallets for their NFC enabled smartphones and expect to be able to use them at libraries like they can at the Walgreens or Subway across the street.  Hopefully, their libraries will be “yes” libraries that allow their users to store their library card in their smartphone wallet.  Libraries already have some experience with apps like Key Ring that allow smartphone users to store a virtual library card on their smartphone.  The good news about apps like Google Wallet (that use NFC) is that patron’s information will be much more secure and there is less of a chance of someone fraudulently using a patron’s library card compared to an app like Key Ring.  And there are some potentially cool uses for NFC in libraries beyond replacing library cards.   For example, perhaps patrons could tap a kiosk in the library with their smartphone to receive book recommendations based on their interests? Or maybe patrons could use their smartphone to quickly and easily check out books? What do you think? What is your opinion of NFC? What do you think of Google Wallet? When will we be seeing the use of NFC technology within libraries? How do you think it will be used in libraries?

Photo credits: Tom Purves and liewcf

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The Extra 2% (or what libraries can learn from the Tampa Bay Rays)

Picture courtesy Barnes & Noble

The Tampa Bay Rays were once the worst franchise in baseball.  They always finished last in their division, the AL East, very few fans would come to their games, and they didn’t make a lot of money.  They were the joke of baseball.  To make matters worse, any chance of becoming a winner and turning around their sorry franchise was next to impossible because they played in the same division as the two most powerful teams in baseball, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.  How do you compete against two teams that have some of the most loyal and rabid fans in all of baseball? How do you compete against two teams that generate nearly double and triple the money that you do? How do you compete against two teams that can afford to pay two underachieving pitchers $16.5 million per year and still have a boatload of money to go out and acquire any other player (or players) they desire? Easy, through effective leadership that was willing to analyze every aspect of the team’s operations and bring Wall Street strategies to the organization.  It is all covered in The Extra 2%. If you love baseball and business, The Extra 2% is a great read. Even if you aren’t interested, here are some points I took from the book that we all can apply to our libraries:

1) You need the right leader in place (with the right leadership style):

The first owner of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays was Vince Naimoli.  Naimoli was an extremely successful businessman and instrumental in bringing baseball to St. Petersburg, Florida. According to the book, he was known as a fixer, one of those guys that acquired failing businesses, turning them around during their time of crisis, and selling them for a nice profit. He did this by using a very coercive leadership style.  As you might remember from this post, coercive leadership is great during emergencies and when organizations are falling apart, but it isn’t an effective leadership style long-term.  When Stuart Sternberg bought the team, he put effective leaders in place, such as manager Joe Maddon, guys that knew the right kind of leadership styles to use and when to use them.

2) For that extra edge, wipe out your weaknesses:

When you have so many factors stacked against you, if you become at least average in your weak areas, you can gain that extra 2% edge that might make the difference between success and failure.  This is what the Tampa Bay Rays believe.  They do this across many areas, whether they are using the most cutting-edge statistical analysis to evaluate players, bringing in sports psychologists to work with players, or spending time doing drills on how to improve bad base running.  Many of these areas the Rays focus on are areas that other teams in baseball ignore.

3) If you use creative marketing, they will come:

One of the first things that Steinberg’s leadership team did was drop the “Devil” from the “Tampa Bay Devil Rays” to become the “Tampa Bay Rays”, complete with new colors and uniforms.  This was a great move as this allowed the organization a fresh start and a way to distance themselves from Naimoli’s Devil Rays.  The Rays’ also started to schedule big-name performers for postgame concerts in order to attract more fans to games.  Inspired by the popularity of SNL’s “More Cowbell” skit featuring Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken, Steinberg had the idea during the Rays’ 2009 postseason run to distribute cowbells at games. They completely caught on and became synonymous with the Rays.  Other quirky and creative ideas the Rays introduced to bring in fans included “Senior Prom of Senior Citizens” night and a “Friday Nightclub” complete with postgame dance music and indoor fireworks!

I really could relate to the Tampa Bay Rays as I read this book.  After all, they are facing some fierce competition, kind of like libraries! What do you think? Are there some other lessons we can learn from baseball’s worst to first franchise?

Photo credit: rzrxtion

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Seth Godin’s thoughts on the future of augmented reality in libraries

When does augmented reality (AR) move from cutting edge to commonplace? When and how will we see it in libraries?And what does Seth Godin think about the future of augmented reality in libraries? The last question I definitely can’t answer (we will just have to wait for Seth to blog about it I guess), but let me take a shot at the first two.

As cool and exciting as I think AR is, it is important to point out some of the hurdles that need to be addressed before AR can be a regular part of our everyday lives:

1) People need to be educated about AR: Most people don’t know what augmented reality is. But with companies like Nintendo, Microsoft, PepsiCo, and eBay starting to utilize AR, this will most definitely be changing soon.

2) AR experiences still aren’t easy to create: Apps aren’t easy to build.  You need to have some programming skills.  However, projects like Georgia Tech’s Argon are starting to change this.  But even after this hurdle is tackled, there is one still big issue that will need to be addressed…

3) AR experiences aren’t yet completely engaging: With the notable exception of the Nintendo 3DS AR games, I haven’t had a particularly engaging experience with AR yet, especially on my smartphone.  I have played around with Layer and Google Googles, for example, but they were a little clunky and these apps did not compel me to want to use them again after my initial experiences. And is it possible to have a truly engaging and enriching AR experience using my smartphone, or is an accessory like AR glasses needed before augmented reality really takes off? Maybe AR glasses will become an essential accessory for our smartphones and they will connect with it to assist with providing engaging AR experiences. Or maybe the rise of the Tablet PC is what it will take for AR to engage users.

AR in Libraries

So when is augmented reality coming to a library near you? Well, if you live close to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, possibly by the end of this year. If you haven’t already seen this video yet, check out their ShelvAR app:

After watching a video like this, you can truly start to see the potential of AR in libraries.  By utilizing AR markers like Dr. Brinkman and his team have done with the books in the video, instead of indicating whether a book was shelved incorrectly, let’s say that same AR marker on that book triggered a video on your smartphone of a staff member (or maybe even Nancy Pearl) giving a review of the book (as suggested in this School Library Journal article on augmented reality).  Or maybe instead you get a video or list on your phone of other similar books you may enjoy reading with a map to their location within the library (or a link to the ebook).

After seeing a little bit of what is already possible with AR and thinking about how it could be applied to libraries, it is pretty easy to come up with ideas on how we could best use AR in the library environment.  The iLearn Technology site has a nice post here that provides some ideas.  And these are just a starting point.  Really, I see AR having practical and meaningful application to most areas of library service. Don’t you think that there is a place for AR applications in the areas of readers’ advisory, collection development, programming, and reference? Where do you see AR being used in your library? When do you think it will become mainstream?

Below are a couple of websites you might want to follow to stay current with the latest news and trends in augmented reality.  If you know of other good ones, please share them!

Augmented Planet

Augmented Times

Games Alfresco


Photo credit: nilsmengedoht


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Augmented Reality (AR) Week 2011!

Well, it isn’t really Augmented Reality Week, but it should be.  Starting this Tuesday, the second annual Augmented Reality Event (ARE 2011) will kick off in Santa Clara, CA.  I wish I was able to attend, but alas, I am not.  However, I am going to dedicate my posts this week to the topic of augmented reality and how we might be using this technology in libraries very soon.

Augmented reality has been on my mind because my library is adding the Nintendo 3DS to our collection (I guess this is our way of celebrating AR Week), and it is an amazing device.  I had heard a lot of buzz about this device and its new augmented reality video games, but I didn’t think it would be as cool as it is.  Video gaming is just getting better and better.  First the Nintendo Wii introduced motion control gaming, then Microsoft kicked it up a notch with the Kinect, and now we have 3D and augmented reality gaming with the Nintendo 3DS. Check out the video below to give you an idea of what the experience is like (is a dragon really coming out of that table!?), even though the video really doesn’t do the experience justice:

I think we can agree that augmented reality is pretty cool.  But perhaps you are wondering, “How exactly does this technology apply to libraries?” And maybe you still aren’t very clear on what augmented reality truly means.  Let’s take a look at the basics of augmented reality (which is known as AR for short).

What is augmented reality (AR)?

Let’s say you are a vegetarian on vacation in Costa Rica.  Looking over the menu that is completely in Spanish, you realize that you really should have been paying more attention in high school Spanish class!  But then you remember you have the Word Lens app on your iPhone.  You point your iPhone camera on the menu and within seconds, you can see the menu in English.  Now you won’t have to rely on your limited Spanish food vocabulary and just settle for french fries after all!  This, my friends, is augmented reality.

I think the clearest definition of AR I have found was provided by Meredith Farkas.  On her American Libraries Technology In Practice blog , she defines AR as “superimposing content (data, 3D images, photographs, etc.) over what you’re looking at. Unlike virtual reality, which displays a virtual environment, you see the real world with augmented reality—but with computer-generated content layered on top.” Augmented reality has been around for a long time (for example, that yellow line on the TV screen that marks how far down the field an American football team needs to go to get a first down has been around since 1998), but now the conditions are perfect for the technology to take off in a big way.  Why? Because of my favorite device, the smartphone of course!

As explained in this Technology Review article , today’s smartphones have powerful CPUs, graphics processing units, advanced phone cameras, amazing screen resolutions, and the necessary components (accelerometers, gyroscopes, and compasses) for detecting their locations and orientations.  In addition, wireless data networks are becoming faster and available across the country.  All of this makes AR apps like Word Lens, Google Googles, Layer, and  junaio possible today.  With the amazing smartphone, by the end of the year over half of all cell phone owners in this country will have the tool they need to enhance their lives through augmented reality right in their pocket.

According to the May/June 2010 issue of Technology Review, Word Lens on an iPhone 4 can redraw Spanish to English (or English to Spanish) up to 10 times per second!

How can we use augmented realities in libraries? Will patrons be able to use an AR app on their smartphones to find the gardening section in the library, or even to get recommendations for new books they might enjoy reading? On Thursday, we’ll take a look on how libraries might be utilizing augmented reality in the near future and a few of the challenges that have to be addressed before AR can go from cutting edge to commonplace.

Photo credit: Robin M. Ashford

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Help, there’s a flood in the library! Leadership styles for every situation

What is your leadership style? Maybe you are a coercive, “my way or the highway” type of leader, or perhaps you are more of an authoritative leader, enthusiastic with a very clear vision of what you want your organization to accomplish.  Or maybe you have no idea what type of leader you are! That’s okay, because we are going to take a look at six different leadership styles, and talk about why you might want to consider utilizing all six leadership styles at some point depending on the situation.

In March of 2000, “Leadership That Gets Results” by Daniel Goleman was published in the Harvard Business Review.  In this article, Goleman identified six leadership styles, situations where they proved to be effective, and their overall impact on the climate of an organization. Here are the six styles and an idea of what they are in a nutshell:

1) Coercive style: My way or the highway! Listen to what I say and do it!

2) Authoritative style: I am excited and pumped up! Here is my vision of what we are going to do.  Am I being clear? Great, here’s the goal.  You have the freedom to do what you need to do to get us there…let’s just get it done!

3) Affiliative style: Let’s talk.  How are things going? We really need to go out to lunch this week.  What a great accomplishment…let’s get a cake and celebrate!

4) Democratic style: Here is the problem.  How do you guys think we should solve it? Let’s meet about this until we come to a consensus.

5) Pacesetting style: I am the best and the brightest.  You need to keep up and do things as well as I do.  Not getting it? *Sigh* Here, let me take it over.

6) Coaching style: Let’s work closely together to develop your skills and abilities.  Don’t worry about failing at that task, as you will learn from it and I will guide you to do better next time.

Any idea what the best leadership style might be according to Goleman? Well, four of the styles have a positive impact on an organization’s climate: authoritative, affiliative, democratic, and coaching.  The authoritative style is the most strongly positive.  As I am sure your probably guessed, the coercive and pacesetting styles have a negative impact. So, we should all adopt authoritative styles and our libraries will run extremely efficiently, right? As Lee Corso might say, “Not so fast my friends!”

According to Goleman, the most effective leaders combine two or more of the positive impact leadership styles, as each style has weaknesses.  For example, the affiliative style is great for motivating people in stressful situations, but it is ineffective in that it often gives individuals the impression that they can get away with average and even poor performance. And in certain situations, those negative impact leadership styles might be extremely effective.  For example, if you are experiencing an emergency at your library, like a flood in your Children’s department (of this I can speak from experience), the coercive style is the only way to go.

Goleman explains how Joe Torre combined the affiliative and authoritative leadership styles to become one of baseball's great managers.

I highly recommend reading Goleman’s complete article here.  In addition to providing detailed explanations on the six leadership styles discussed above, he also writes about how you can go about expanding your leadership style repertoire.

Photo credits: doverlibrarians and mrjerz

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Library programming ideas: don’t ignore the obvious!

When it comes to library programming, many public libraries tend to do the same kinds of things.  Most libraries do storytimes, host book groups, and invite in authors.  Several others do additional programming like host gaming tournaments, teach computer classes, and help people learn job search skills.  These programs are a very important part of what we do, whether we are teaching children early literacy skills or helping the unemployed with their job search when they have no place else to turn.  These are all excellent programs, but they aren’t necessarily the most creative, innovative, and fun programs out there.  If we are going to truly make the library the third place in our communities, the community gathering place between home and work/school, we have to create some programs that are going to generate some buzz in our communities.  But how do we come up with cool and clever programming ideas?

Storytimes have been around for a long time. They still totally rule, but what else can we be doing?

Well, for starters, how about seeing what is hot on Twitter, turning on the television, or reading the newspaper (if you really want to go old school)?  Sometimes the coolest programming ideas are the most obvious ones.  For example, check out the event that the Niagara Falls (Ontario) Public Library held very, very early on Friday, April 29, 2011…a Royal Wedding viewing party!

Here is the report that Andrew Porteus of the Niagara Falls Public Library gave of the event on PubLib:

“We had 47 participants – one took a taxi from a nearby town & arrived at 3 a.m. (doors opened at 4:30) – she sat in the nearby doughnut shop, and met a lady who had taken the last bus & had arrived just after midnight. Talk about dedication!  It was very festive – lots of comments on the processions, but turned really quiet during the service. The local cable company was there, the TV station from Hamilton stayed all morning & broadcast at various times with interviews & comments. The papers were there also. We received a tremendous amount of good publicity from this.”

Sure, there were some costs involved in organizing this program, but any library could have held a Royal Wedding event like this.  And the idea for a program like this was totally obvious!  What completely obvious yet cool and buzzworthy programs have you had at your library?



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David Rothman’s “Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto”

When I first started thinking about launching this blog, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.  I definitely wanted to write about leadership, I definitely wanted to write about mobile technology, and I definitely wanted to write about my “brand” of librarianship.  But what exactly was this brand called? 21st Century Librarianship? No, that didn’t sound quite right.  Progressive Librarianship? No, sounded way too political, and besides, I didn’t want to accidentally get associated with an insurance company.  And as much as I love Flo, I didn’t really think being associated with her would do me any favors either.

Sure, she can save you money on car insurance, but can she teach a senior how use a Kindle like I can?

Later, after much thought, I finally figured it out…Common Sense Librarianship! Perfect! And then, much to my delight, I discovered David Rothman’s “Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto”! If you haven’t checked it out yet, you absolutely must!  To quickly summarize, Rothman writes that information professionals and their institutions should adapt to the changing world of information (that is caused by technology) or perish.  Information professionals should be flexible, creative, and passionate about solving problems. Libraries should measure user needs whenever possible and keep these needs the number one priority above all else.  Barriers between users and information should be removed, and information should be delivered to users as clearly and concisely as possible.

What do I take from Rothman’s “Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto”? We need to adapt not only to thrive, but to survive.  We need to be open to new ideas and be completely flexible when approaching problems.  We need to make sure customer service is a top priority.  We need to eliminate library jargon like “periodicals” and “OPAC” and “neutrino displacement grid” (that last one might not exactly be library jargon, but even I get confused by library jargon myself sometimes!) and deliver information to users wherever they are, at any time of day, on their device of choice.

See, all common sense, right? So what do you think? Is Rothman‘s “Common Sense Librarianship: An Ordered List Manifesto” something you can get behind?

Photo credit: Rob Speed

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