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A Productive Day

Yesterday I attended vendor demonstrations on a new library searching platform for our network. This type of software would sit on top of our regular online catalog and make it easier for library users to find what they need. The idea is to make the experience more Google like with faceted searching and “did you mean” assistance and word clouds. It also capitalizes on people’s familiarity with Amazon and Library Thing and has the ability for library patrons to enter reviews and tags as well use a “book bag” for their selections.

There are philosophical questions that go along with this, of course. Are we “dumbing down” the experience for library users? Or are we trying to reach them at their comfort level? I’m not sure but I do know that anything that makes it easier for people to find what they want is something I support.

I also know that a day full of demos is great for knitting.

first_lady_sock

When I got there in the morning I had just picked up the gusset stitches. By the end of the 3rd demo I had finished the sock. Now that’s productivity.

This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. People, young people are comfortable with computers and the internet. I imagine a program like that would be well received. Do you know we can check books out ourselves in the library now. No need for human interaction and 10 people can be leaving at the same time. It’s rather cool.

  2. What happened tocard catalogs?? Is the Dewey Decimal System gone?? Am I showing my age – because I understand those things still and I’m not sure I could work the library without them!! More importantly – lovely sock!

  3. Lovely sock. Any time you get to knit and work is a good day at work.
    As for the library, anything that makes the library more user friendly is good. So many different people use the library and it really is important that they continue to come and enjoy it. In my town in the past there has been talk of closing the library and in my mind that is wrong.

  4. I don’t think making finding books easier is dumbing down the experience at all! I’m pretty fortunate to have a relatively “cutting edge” library system here (Hennepin County).

  5. Although I used traditional card catalogs as a child and young adult, I find the computer card catalog most helpful. There’s no more lifting out of heavy bottom drawers, and paging through the cards. The computer system is so quick, and capable of telling me if my desired book is available on the shelf at any branch.

    My analogy compares the traditional card drawer to double points, and the computer system to either two circs or magic loop. Either the traditional or the newer way works, but the new is so much faster and streamlined.

  6. Lovely sock… and I am with you on the ‘dumbing down’ thing. Dan and I had a great discussion the other day on whether or not America’s children were being ‘dumbed down’ by lacking personal responsibility. I.e. we have overscheduled kids where nothing is ever “their fault” (ask anyone who is a teacher— complaints about teachers are up 200 fold over 5 years ago) and they don’t know how to constructively occupy their own free time. Are we making them adults who won’t be able to entertain themselves?

    I remember being taught the card catalog as a child. I also remember when the computers came to the library… and we were taught to use those as well. But, the most important thing I was taught at the library was how to ask for help. Help by getting a book recommendation, help using the computer, etc. As long as a computer never replaces a good librarian, I am all for whatever software will help people navigate the library. is there an option to not use that software if people don’t like it?

  7. I’m for anything that makes the library more accessible (and yes, I learned the card catalog system decades ago). We live in a community with many non-US citizens, some visitors to the local Univ., some have come for work or family. They all seem to understand the computer, so why not help them access the library where they can continue to find resources for broadening their language skills and perceptions of the US.

    PS I am crazy for your shower curtain. Really glad to hear it has been around for a while so I won’t be tempted to go look for one.

  8. Impressive productivity!
    Although I feel great nostalgia for old fashioned paper card catalogues, I love being able to log on to my local library’s system from home and see if what i want is in, or put a hold on it from a bunch of linked libraries if it’s not. Fabulous.

  9. Nice! I love time to knit. I’ve been getting plenty of time to knit in doctor’s offices having scheduled a bijillion yearly checkups over the last two weeks….hehe.

  10. Oy. Library demos can be deadly. Glad to hear yours was good. We had one yesterday that went from 11:30 – 1:30 and didn’t include lunch. Our concentration may have ebbed as we got hungrier. I did get a lot of work done on Bruce’s scarf though so that’s a good thing.

  11. Great sock!

    I completely agree that the public libraries should provide as much accessibility as possible! There’s no need for elitism when it comes to opening minds.

  12. Dumbing down?? no, it doesn’t seem like that to me, but rather it seems like the new program will encourage people to use the library more (assuming that they can figure out the system easier).

    Our area is the same as Margene’s, in that we do all our own look-up and check out and never speak to the library staff unless we need help. It’s a bit strange (since I come from the generation that had those cards in the pockets at the front of the book, and the librarian would stamp the date on the card that it was due back (yeah.. I know, I surely date myself)

  13. Which vendors did you look at? Was TLC one of them? Great socks! I still have trouble with the picot thing….keeps going crooked. Any suggestions for the visually challenged?

  14. Great sock! My feeling is, anything that makes it easier to get young people reading ia a move in the right direction!

  15. I wish the searches would enable you to select more filters. I find it completely frustrating that I can’t filter out certain material types. I can select a single specific media type, but not exclude. Also, it would be nice to filter for age – children’s, juvenile, adult. I guess I would like to search for materials like I search for items on ebay.
    Pretty sock!

  16. At our library, anyway, one still needs to know Dewey at least somewhat in order to retrieve the book from the stacks. I wish our online catalog were a bit more sophisticated — it can take a while to winnow out the books on a certain topic. Part of that is there are so many errors made when classifying books before printing!

    The most important thing is that people read books. If making it easier for them to see that a particular book does exist somewhere in that big building, perhaps more people will *go* to the library and along the way end up with more books than just that one particular book?

    We’ve started getting books through Link+, which has a splendid selection of graduate level math and physics texts.

    What is that sock yarn? Lovely!

  17. You have to love a full day of listening when you can incorporate knitting into it! I think that people have become so comfortable with google and the way things work online, and from personal experience, I find the search mechanisms at the public library kind of scary. I think if you can make it something they are comfortable with, whether from familiarity or look, I think you’re meeting the needs of your consumers.

  18. I love it when work gives you knitting opportunities.

    I don’t think it’s an intrinsically bad thing to provide library customers with an easier/clearer/more streamlined way to find what they need. I’d like to think that I’m pretty computer savvy (what, with working in IT and all,) but I’ve seen some library search programs that are nearly impossible to navigate. Anything that makes reading more accessible gets a thumbs up from me.

    Though, I must say that I miss the serendipity of looking through the card catalogs and coming across random and interesting things. šŸ™‚

  19. Recently I started reading the help forums of, ahem, a certain large ISP and cable provider because they changed their webmail and the new one su… is all nice and shiny with right-click menus and bells and whistles but without some of the basic stuff the old one had. The idea on Comc… er, this company’s side seems to be that if only users weren’t so stupid they would learn to love the new thing already because, hey, look, right-click menus! All of which is to say: if users can’t use your software you don’t need smarter users, you need smarter software. Software that any fool can use? Is way smarter than whoever implemented the new webmail system at my ISP.

    Ahem. (straightens collar) Sorry about that. Can you tell I’ve worked in GUI design during my checkered career? Nice sock. Nice bathroom, too. I think I have that identical sink. The old one, not the new one.

  20. Good lookin’ sock!

    I think it’s both. It’s a shame to see the card catalogs go, but it is good to see libraries moving forward with the times. Ease of use should help get people into the libraries, which is important. Although, I will always love Mr. Dewey and his system.

  21. That is so NOT dumbing down the experience. My brain is a “nurse” brain and while it thinks like a nurse very well, it is not a “librarian” brain and doesn’t function that way at all

    Annnnd I am one of those people who goes into the library and sorta half remembers something about a book I thought I might want to read – not enough information for the librarian to help me, but possibly a stream of conciousness search would do the trick. (This would be the equivalent of you telling me that you “used to take a little red pill – no maybe it was more orange than red….)

    ANYthing that gets books into the hands of readers is a good thing.

  22. I started a long-winded response to today’s post. You’ve hit a nerve of mine. I pull out my soapbox when the dumbing down of the general public is discussed. But I decided to delete my rant and comment on how lovely your socks are. Truly.

  23. I’m going to laugh if you’re talking about AquaBrowser.

    The library I work at just added AquaBrowser on top of our Voyager system. On the one hand, it’s GREAT for people who are afraid of catalogs, and the facets are lovely! On the other hand – giving an academic library a catalog designed for a public library where you have to go old school on searches (i.e. title:gone with the wind instead of typing gone with the wind into the title box)…not so awesome.

  24. I hear that google’s search algorhythm is top-notch, so it’s not a bad platform to base it on. Maybe you could also have an icon that tells users how the library works… how things are organized? Did you get a general library user to try it out? I spent a very frustrating couple of hours “testing” something that in the end I never got in on …grrr grrr grrr… bottom line: I am a proficient computer user who had multitudes of problems and never got to see the data they wanted me to test, so how on earth would a “general user” get there?

  25. I want an agree button for your comments.

    Yes, it’s a beautiful sock.
    Yes, it’s great to have knitting time at work.
    Yes, it’s good to increase accessibility
    Yes, it’s not dumbing down.

  26. Yea for getting to knit while working! I’ll agree with everyone else about increasing accessibility. One thing I don’t like, though, is when the library changes the computers around and doesn’t post signs on them. One branch I visit had computers that were card catalogs and the next time I was there it looked like they were for Internet service one had to sign up for. There were no signs posted so I walked around until I found a computer that looked familiar (card catalog). Maybe I’m just getting old…

  27. Any thing that makes it easier for library patrons to find stuff is not dumbing down, it is called better access. Writing an intuitive interface like that takes lots of smarts (I know I couldn’t do it and I had a computer programming minor in undergrad school). The whole point of automation is universal access to all parts of the item and anything that promotes that is good. I would have gotten one of those if my system had had more money. Alas, I’ve retired and they have even less money now than when I worked there.(Alastair wasn’t one of the presenters, was he? Love his accent *sigh*)

    Nice sock too.

  28. that’s not “dumbing down”, that is getting the info to where it’s needed. good on you! (great sock! got mate?) šŸ˜‰

  29. just for the record …
    YEAH FOR THE LIBRARY !!!!
    I love the library ,and we should do the best we can to have everyone love the library !

  30. Our library recently implemented that sort of “feel.” I don’t really are for it. There was something so solid and finite from the old catalog. With the new word cloud searches it leaves me wondering if I haven’t entered the wrong information. Which of course couldn’t possibly be the problem. šŸ˜‰

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