I need feedback for grad school project

At midnight tonight I’m turning in a website I developed for my information architecture class (I’m working on my library science masters at Indiana University).

If any of you wonderful folks would be willing to give it a look and leave me some critical review, that’d be wonderful.

This project is for a rural county public library in southern Indiana (pop. 32,000). I wanted to create a site that put a face on the services and products offered by the library in a way that will interact with the public (though I’m still working on comments). Here’s the test site…

Madison-Jefferson County Public Library

I have a series of questions I’m trying to find answers to. Pick one to answer or pick many. Any feedback is welcome. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Page Layout

Are the pages consistent, is it easy to read?

Organization & Sequence

Is the content well-organized? Can you sense a logic in the order and presentation? Are you finding what you expect to find in various parts of the site?

Navigation Links

Are you finding your way around easily enough? Are you getting lost anywhere?

Overall Evaluation

What are their overall impressions? What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the pages? Do you find the site interesting or boring?

Any thoughts at all are welcome

Posted in Grad-School

I'm teaching a class on blogging

I’m showing the class how I post in my personal blog. Basically it’s as simple as typing in a title as I did above and then typing in some content.

Posted in Library

Of hams, mascots and National Children's Book Week

For those who don’t already know it, I am admittedly a ham. As a result, the library where I work has successfully conned me into being Cat in the Hat on at least three occasions and next Tuesday evening I will be Froggy.

Why? Because next week is National Children’s Book Week. Do we need any other excuse? Not when you get dozen of kids excited about coming to the library. It may not be easy being green, but it’s a good color that matches my beard (not that they’ll see me in the costume), so yes, I’ll be a 6-foot frog.

What scares me however is that I am now a marked man.

Recently the powers in our library, the good folks they are, decided we now have a library mascot—a bee. They also plan to make a bee costume complete with yellow and black fuzzy material and a bee’s head made out of a huge gourd.

During a meeting, a staffer asked who would wear said costume. My director immediately stated my name before anyone else could volunteer… or before I could back out of it.

I have teasingly argued against using a bee. “Do we really want a mascot that chases after Winnie the Pooh?” But no such luck.

Actually, it should work out fine. Playing off the word “buzz” in a library is pretty good.

Finally, I present to you, courtesy of the Children’s Book Council, a Children’s Book Week suprise

P.S. One of these days I’ll get back to regular blogging. I’m in over my head with a grad class project.

Posted in Library

Other people's stories

Every once in a while, the journalistic bug hits and I can’t resist telling someone else’s great story. I can’t tell it as good as them and if they ever get blogs, I’ll link to their version of the story.

First a library story….

A library will soon be getting an email that their book will be missing for a few weeks.

An interlibrary loan librarian I know was trying to get a book cart full of ILL books on an elevator that wasn’t quite level with the floor. A couple of books flew off the cart and yes, a small paperback slid down the crack between the floor and the elevator. It will remain at the bottom of the elevator shaft until the inspector makes his monthly call.

The best ILL story I had heard prior to that was of a book left on the shores of the Ohio River after a picnic. It rained and they forgot the book in the rush to pack. They reported that it had washed away.

A tornado story…

A friend of ours has an uncle who was an insurance inspector. During the tornado spree of 1974, which hit our county pretty darn hard, his company received a call from a homeowner making a claim.

He visited the home expecting to see the devastation he had seen elsewhere in his rounds. The homes on either side were destroyed, but this home looked fine.

He met with the homeowners and told them he needed to do a walk around and then he would talk with them. He then looked around the home and everything seemed fine. The electric worked, the water worked, the dishes were in the cabinets unharmed. The walls seemed fine, the roof was intact.

He came back to the homeowners and said he looked throughout the home and that not even the dishes broke. He asked why they had called the insurance company.

The husband told our friend’s uncle that he had not visited the basement. The uncle nodded his head expecting maybe some foundation damage he had not noticed. However, he was floored when they opened the door and walked down the stairs. In the basement was an entirely intact combine. Yes, a combine.

This was in a neighborhood. The nearest farm was miles away and yes, the home seemed to be in good shape. The only thing they can figure is that when the tornado came through, it lifted the house off the foundation, inserted said combine and laid the house back on the foundation.

Our friend did not know how they managed to get the combine out of the basement.

Posted in Library

A new bibliophile enters the world

A hearty congratulations to my friend Greg and his wife Ann who welcomed their newborn Jackson Brooks to the world on Sunday.

Greg is a fellow Madisonian, blogger (OpenStacks.net) and librarian so this news ranks front page coverage in my opinion.

So Greg, will your library and info sciences blog have a list of recommended books for fathers to read their kids? Think about it, as a librarian, blogger and father, the sky’s the limit!

Update: Wow! Another bibliokid! Blake, the great guy who runs LISNews and LISHost is also a new father—Welcome Kelly!!

Both bloggers have been regulars on my blogroll for quite a while, congrats guys!

Posted in Library

“Knowledge for Sale: Why American libraries are in trouble”

The July/August issue of Utne magazine features an article by “street librarian” Chris Dodge entitled “Knowledge for sale: Why American libraries are in trouble.”

If you want to know what the left thinks about libraries, I consider this a must read article. Knowledge for Sale (also Monastic Librarians). From an academic standpoint, there’s not a ton of depth, but it’s very interesting nonetheless.

He hit on some interesting issues, some of which I struggle with myself at my library—specifically issues on purchasing and cataloging. I agree with him on both issues. Here are his thoughts and my thoughts…

On purchasing…

If we continue to move toward the demand-model of material selection and/or outsourse the selection process, Dodge argues the collections will become skewed to the popular and mass appeal. As a result, we ignore the minority communities or minority interests. I wholeheartedly agree, though I think people have come to expect the demand model from libraries.

At our library I do some AV purchasing and subscribed to the Film Movement series from Recorded Books. I like it because we now have same access to award-winning films in little ol’ Madison as the hot shots in New York and LA. It’s a total of 12 DVDs a year, not a large number considering I order at least 180 DVDs a year.

While a number of people have told me they liked the series, one person wrote in our annual survey (paraphased) “stop buying all that foreign junk.” After some thought I concluded the problem wasn’t one of an an imbalanced collection, but rather all the popular titles I’ve purchased are constantly in circulation so you have to show up at exactly the right time (or put them on hold) to snag them. As a result, the collection certainly looks skewed to the obtuse. I think I’ll create a paper catalog of DVD titles as people rarely bother to search the catalog to see if we have a title.

On Cataloging…

Dodge also wrote how our standardized catalog systems are unintuitive, severely hampering access to materials.

Having taken “bibliographic access and control” I certainly understand the need for standardization. Obviously, a catalog without controlled vocabulary and name/subject authority is obviously chaos.

However, I’d definitely consider myself a Sandynista. Dodge wrote about the work of Hennepin County (minn.) cataloger Sandy Berman who, through extensive bibliographic record notes and alternative titles and subjects, created a catalog that was very user friendly. Unfortunately, in the name of standardization, the library system reversed his work after he retired. I think that’s a sickening shame.

We have a generally easy to use online catalog (Sirsi iBistro), but it is severely lacking in that is has no capabilities to share sees/see alsos. Thus the only way to get around this is to do a Berman-style bibliographic record. (although it’d obviously be better for Sirsi and other search engines to get their act together).

Similarly, authors have to be types in “last name, first name” yet there are no obvious “tips” on the page to tell anyone that. A person can go away thinking we have absolutely no books on a topic of interest.

Similarly, our library is now in the process of starting a second digital library. On the first I argued we needed alternative catagories as noone will type in dwellings when they are searching for photos of “Madison homes.” I was overruled by a very experienced and very wise cataloger who stressed we needed to stick with standards. I am grateful to her as starting off on the right foot and doing the project “right” has helped us get a federal grant to do a second digital library.

This new project is one of the first in the Indiana Digital Library project that aims to create digital projects that can be shared so they can be “harvested” by search engines. Standardization is a must for this to work, yet the problem of “will a person search using LC subject terms?” still exists.

A number of us agreed at a workshop sponsored by the Indiana State Library that we needed to include alternative subjects in addition to official “LC” subject terms.

This whole debate obviously opens a whole can of worms, but I think it’s one that needs to be opened. Fried worms anyone?

Here are two links…

The Lemen Collection

This is the first digital library the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library did. I was in charge of the tech side of the project, scanning and customizing the web templates to fit our desires.

Open Stacks #1

This is the first podcast of Open Stacks by my friend Greg Schwartz. His premiere episode delves deeply into Adam Mathes’ paper on folksonomies. If you’re interested in cataloging I think you’d find the podcast (an mp3 audio file) to be fascinating.

Posted in Library

Otter, take 2

I must admit, I really enjoy otters. When I visit the zoo, otters are by and far the most enjoyable animals to observe. The Cinci Zoo has a decent-sized pond habitat for the otters. The one side is a glass wall that allows you to look underwater while they swim around. They also reintroduced the river otter to Jefferson County a couple years ago up at the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge.

So when, maybe six months ago, I saw a kids magazine go across the circ desk with otters on them, the silly pun “otter you be reading?” popped into my head.

Now in SLIS528 Collection Development and Management, I have to create a fictional library. I decided to have an otter as the library mascot and put the drawing on the letterhead.

Our most recent assignment is an intellectual freedom statement along with procedures for dealing with book challenges. The creature is also on my “materials reconsideration form.” Who knows, either the otter will help defuse an argument over a book (ahh…isn’t he cute?) or the person will find the drawing so darn silly that they’ll try to take my head off as well as trying to take the book out of the collection.

My first draft, a couple entries below, looks more like a bear than an otter, so here is my second draft of the drawing…

Posted in Library

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