Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thing 25: It's Thanksgiving, let's eat!

Hi everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving! I have journeyed to Syracuse with my wife Cathy and son Gregory, where my mother-in-law Lola is preparing to fete us all with her usual aplomb! I can't wait.

Looking over the food blogs Jennifer gave us in this Thing is only whetting my apetite. I couldn't resist "What's for Lunch, Honey?" - one of the food blogs in the blog roll "Simply Recipies". Maintained in Weimar Germany by an Indian-born cook and mother, Meeta, it has a very nice look and feel. Here is her take on how to do the Thanksgiving Day feast. As you can see, she does a great job of both dispensing advice for planning and preparation as well as focusing on the food. Very useful!

In a similar vein, Epicurious has a nice page on how to create a heart-healthy Thanksgiving Day feast. Their recipe for Ginger-Pumpkin Souffle really appeals. Too late for me to integrate any of this advice into my Thanksgiving Day this year - but maybe next. At least I now know where to go for the recipes!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thing 24: microblogging

At SLA mid-winter earlier this year, Stephen Abrams put up the view of all the people who were twittering the conference, including him putting up the blog of get the picture. It was very funny, and a good illustration of the power and immediacy (or should I say the power of immediacy...) of microblogging.

How could it benefit our library? Well, we serve a patron base of just over 300 students and faculty - most of whom are taking the same limited number of classes. I wonder if we could somehow facilitate their team-based exercises using twitter. (I wonder if they are doing that already.)

This might be especially useful to our reserves, which are open stack and self serve...and because of our self checkout machine, which does not self check in, they are also non-catalog based regarding checkout (ie, we use a pen and paper). Could we set up a twitter site to help students keep track of what's in and out? It would only work well if everyone who took out a reserve voluntarily opted-in.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thing 23: online music

The Tolkien Ensemble is a group of Danish musicians who came together to try to set the poetry J.R.R. Tolkien created to music - and to try to interpret and express the various moods of Tolkien's works with original music as well.

I was delighted that a search on Seeqpod brought up several of their recordings I was not familiar with, including this musical interpretation of Tom Bombadil's Song. I quickly learned to manipulate the search in Seeqpod to include video as well as audio, but found that loading was slow, at least with my home connection, and it was easier to go to YouTube and view the videos.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thing 22: ...and this is my boy Sherman

I love the wayback machine. First of all, anything that references a cartoon I regularly watched in my youth is cool. Secondly, I have used it many times to discover stuff I remember but can no longer find on the web. However, I confess that I have not spent alot of time examining its other features before today.

So, here's the URL for the first site for Olin College. Olin was only established in 1997 and opened its doors to students in 2001, so I am not surprised the first instance of a website was in July 2000. That is probably just when they were starting to recruit students (notice the picture is a model of a campus - not a campus).

I will definitely spend some more time playing in the music and video collections. Here's a link to a 1986 performance by Camper van Beethoven - the precursor to Cracker. At about the same time as this clip I saw them open an R.E.M. concert in Pittsburgh, so for me this is like taking a journey with Sherman and Mr. Peabody in the Wayback Machine!

Thing 21: E-Books

I decided to indulge a different interest of mine from Tolkien for this thing, and went to the Gutenberg site and searched on Russian Literature. Naturally, the holdings could not reflect the vast dimensions of this topic. However, I did find some things that really interested me. Here is a link to a book about Russian literature published in 1911. Dated, but not if you're interested in the 19th century.

I was able to search easily and quickly, and move about through the hyperlinked references. This is especially useful for the many author references. I can see that there is alot of content in there if I want to go after it.

The library where I work is already pretty oriented to online reading. We are less than a decade old, and have only about 12,000 print volumes. However, we have nearly 3 times that number from ebrary, netlibrary, and specialized to engineering providers such as Knovel.

The access statistics I'm tasked with gathering tend to show the our students make full use of these resources, and definately prefer online serial resources to print - in fact we have jettisoned print wherever we have electronic coverage that we know is stable. Online searching of content for journals is so useful, and specialized indexes such as Web of Science, which allows searchers to rank articles according to number of times cited, facilitate this trend.

In this respect, we are rapidly moving beyond the old model for research.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thing 19: Clip, Clip

Well, I'm keeping with the Tolkien theme I started in the last thing, my review of Perry Bramlett's "I am in Fact a Hobbit" on the BPL Booklist. I logged into my delicious account, and searched "Tolkien". Here is a link to the page I found.

Needless to say, I was intrigued by the site "What Tolkien Officially Said About Elf Sex" (before you get to offended, bear in mind that Tolkien was a socially conservative Catholic academic.) I was intrigued that someone scoured the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit to find Tolkien's official quotes about this subject.

I also found "Write Your Name in Elvish in Ten Minutes" interesting. Unfortunately, I don't think I can share it with you here!

Thing 17.2: Harvesting the Bounty!

Wow, there is lots of great stuff here! I hope that some of you were able to calm your pre-election fears with the statistical analysis available at (I see that at least one person did - fantastic!)

My personal fav among these was the "FreeLanguage" posted by Olga. I used it to take the 10 one-minute language lessons (more like 3 minutes each) in Russian, and brush up on my old college-level Russian. I even learned a thing or two. It was easy and fun (I love that Russian is being taught by a woman with a Scottish accent). And the great thing is that you can do it with any number of other languages, and learn the basics ("Hello", "Goodbye", etc) in a number of different tongues.

I can definately see how that would help in putting an English-challenged patron at ease when they approached me for a reference question. Spaceeba, Olga!

Thing 17: Classrooms without walls

This is an interesting assignment, because at Olin College we are constantly striving for innovation, and there are a number of things going on all the time which by design push the boundaries of the traditional education experience.

Once such thing is called a "co-curricular": this is an un-graded class which students participate in, in order to expand their horizons in some new area. Examples include foreign language tables, Jazz and Blues excursions, an examination of archives and special collections we used to jump-start our own archives with student help, etc.

One that I was involved in last semester, the Blues Co-curricular, included students performing the pieces we listened to in class on their own. I'm not sure how problematic it would have been from a copyright standpoint to try to mount the published pieces either on the web or via a course software system like the one described in this thing, however, I'm sure it would have been no problem to use such a delivery system to record and publish the students own pieces.

The pieces could be combined with links to online content, background, playlists of professional performers and/or venues, etc. Something to consider for next time.

Thing 16: My office is now online!

I can see the usefulness and applicability of this immediately. At Olin College, I am preparing to lead for the 4th year running a project to interview all of the seniors before the graduate. The results are placed in the archives.

I coordinate a number of staff volunteers from across campus to conduct the interviews. Who gets to interview whom is always a bit of a challenge: in the past I have sent out the list of seniors, solicited my interviewers' desires, and then made assignments as best I could.

But let's say that I can place the spreadsheet in Google Docs, and send the link to my team of interviewers. Then they can put in their preferences, discuss them among themselves, and arrive at the optimum interview schedule - saving me alot of trouble.

We have also had requests from our seniors to share and/or see the results, but this becomes a problem because they lose their privileges to log-in to the internal network after they graduate. However, I could use this function to share the results with those of them willing to have their interview so posted.