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Sessions I Attended at the 2013 Texas Library Association Conference

Here are the non-general sessions I attended at the 2013 Texas Library Association Conference in Fort Worth.  This also does not include exhibits or social events.  It’s about 19 hours of training.

Wednesday, April 24

Shaping User Web Experience through Usability Research (10-11:30)

Library Customer Service: An Unconference (12-1:50)

Connecting the Caldecott Award Books to the Science TEKS (2-3:20)

Thursday April 25

Survey Tools for Librarians (11-11:50)

Writing Effective Survey Items (1-1:50)

Using Government Information for Genealogical and Historical Research (2-3:50) – PDF

Active Learning Activities for One-Shot Library Instructional Sessions: Lightning Talks (4-4:50) – PDF1, PDF2, PDF3, PDF4

Friday April 26

Converses with Students Webinars (10:50 – 11:10) – PDF, PDF2

Copyright:  Don’t Panic (1-1:50)

Discovering Your Roots with Chris Haley (2-3:20)

The Non-Librrian Supervisor of Library Services: A Self-Study and Exploration of Characteristics (3:30-3:50) – PDF

Saturday April 27

Behind the Scenes at FamilySearch and Genealogical Information Digitization (8-9:50) – PDF

*Embedded Librarianship:  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly! (10-11:50) – PDF

NARA-Fort Worth and the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum: Resources for Libraries (12-1:50)

*This year, for the first time, I also presented at TxLA!  I was one of seven librarians on a panel on embedded librarianship. A PDF of slides from all of our presentations is linked above, but I also placed my presentation in Slideshare:

My Embedded World…or…How I Got Started As a Librarian In Blackboard from CurriculumCollection


Images in Blog Posts

As librarians, we really need to set the standard for using images online, particularly in our public blogs.  I’m all for adding images to every post, but unless YOU created the image, you don’t have permission to use any image you find on the web!  Use Creative Commons Search ( to find images you CAN legally use. is a great tool for properly crediting those images.

Here’s a presentation I did on this very topic for a communications class here at Tarleton State University back on October 30, 2012.  I did almost the same presentation at the Texas Social Media Research Institute’s Social Media Conference a month later.

   Finding and Crediting Copyright-Friendly Images for Presentations and Publications  from CurriculumCollection

You’ll note that the presentation used lots of images with Creative Commons licenses.

Prezi: Flora of Hawai’i

Today Yvonne, one of my fellow librarians, did a presentation for us on Prezi, and we had a lab time to try it out. Here’s something I made (with photos from a recent trip to Hawai’i).

Thing 23: Reflection

What was your favorite or least favorite Thing? What was challenging for you? What did you learn? What new technologies will you use in your library?

My favorite, of course, was LibraryThing, because I’m doing so much with it at work, and because it’s been so rewarding at home.  I also enjoyed playing with different brands (Wetpaint instead of PBworks wikis, Google Reader and Bloglines Beta instead of old Bloglines blog reader) of tools I was already familiar with.

My least favorite tools were Digg and LibWorm, simply because I don’t see a lot of use for them either personally or in my library.  These were both new technologies for me, though, and I enjoyed learning about them.  Fortunately, I didn’t find any of the activities to be too challenging.

Besides those mentioned above, another new thing for me was Google Docs Forms, which I definitely will use, particularly for in-house polling, and nings – although I’m not sure I’ll have much use for the latter. I would like to further explore using instant messaging, podcasts and video tools like YouTube, Animoto and vidcasting in our library, particularly for reference and outreach work and instructional sessions.

Thanks so much to the North Texas 23 leadership team and particularly to Rattlin’ Blogger, my resource person and encourager on that team, for a great experience!

Thing 22: Developing a 23 Things for My Library

Well, actually we’ve already done that, and some of the evidence of it is on other pages in this blog.  I originally set up this blog to draft the information for our own version of 23 Things – which we dubbed DSL, an abbreviation for Discover Support Learn and for our library’s name.  I posted my drafts here for other members of our library’s Technology Task Force to review and comment on before making the posts in our staff blog.

We did things a bit differently from most 23 Things programs.  We decided to just do a few things (blogs, photo sharing, and online image generators) in the fall semester and then a few more (tagging/Delicious/LibraryThing, photo editing, and podcasts/video/YouTube) in the spring semester. The program was completely optional, but we did offer incentives each semester.  They were a surprise since we didn’t know how many people would complete the program and how much the incentives would cost, but we gave out large flash drives in the fall to finishers and an MP3 player to spring finishers.

Out of the then-30 full-timers on staff (five at a remote location that as of this September will be a separate university), all but seven started the fall program, and 21 completed it.  Spring participation was down; I believe because we tried to cram too many activities into the time period.  However, all 12 staff members who attempted the program completed it in the spring

A BIG difference between our program and the typical 23 Things program was that we did NOT require members to set up individual blogs.  We have a number of staff members who weren’t real keen about setting up yet another user name and password, and Blogger allows comments either anonymously or by an entered name.  We made setting up a blog an optional activity under blogging, and instead measured progress by asking people to comment on specific things under the relevant instruction DSL post. If  there was something (such as a creation from an online image generator) that needed to be posted, staff had the option (if they didn’t put it in their own blog and provide a link in the comments) to post it in a sandbox wiki that I also set up.  We kept track of everyone’s progress in our staff wiki.

In my opinion, one of the biggest advantages to doing it this way was more interaction between staff; you could easily see what others on staff were doing.  One of my frustrations in North Texas 23 was having to click on individual blogs in the huge list of supposed-participants, only to find that more than half of them did not get past setting up the blog, and half of those that remained did not do anything beyond Flickr mashups.  For those that did complete the program, you often had to wade through a lot of stuff to get to the post on the activity you wanted, depending on how they had their blogs set up.

Another big difference is that we offered a number of Friday two-hour open labs in our instruction classroom, where one or more of us from the Tech Task Force was available to help other staff members with the activities.  We set up every one of the six activities so that all you had to do to get credit for participating was make a relevant comment on the associated blog post, but many staffers wanted to do the optional, more advanced activities (such as set up blogs, Flickr accounts, etc.).  We offered eight such labs in the fall (although only five were attended) and three in the spring.  Tech Task Force members were also available to help other staff one-on-one.  I think a program like this is hard to do completely on your own, particularly with some of our less tech-savvy staff members.

I’m not sure yet what we will be doing in the Fall 2009 semester.  Next Wednesday, August 19, we’ll be showing off the things people did in the Spring 2009 program at our monthly staff training session.  We’re going to get some feedback on what, if anything, people might like to repeat or go more into depth on, or what other 2.0 tools they might want to learn about.  There are a lot of great 23 Things -like programs out there to use for additional ideas:

Thing 21:Podcasts

My biggest barrier to using podcasts is that they are audio only. I’m more of a visual learner so I don’t think I could do what our cataloger does – regularly listen to podcasts while cataloging.  She says, “I think of it as something that I can easily do to keep up with current ideas and events in the library world and beyond. In most cases, it really hasn’t been that necessary to view the video, so just listening has worked out well.”

I have a long commute (40-45 minutes one way) and I love listening to audiobooks, but have found that fiction (and biography, since it tends to be narrative) works better.  I tried listening to some nonfiction informational audiobooks in the car (Stephen Hawking books!) and found I had to concentrate too hard and kept needing to repeat sections, distracting from the driving.

Our reference librarian said, “Let me see the person doing the talking or give me a transcript. Otherwise it becomes background noise and I daydream and lose my place.”  I’m with her, for the most part.  In fact, with the National Library of Medicine’s podcasts, I just went straight to the transcripts.  I can read those a lot faster too, and they have useful links.

But, I think I would enjoy fiction podcasts, assuming I could download the whole book at once.  I just  got an MP3 player but it won’t plug into the USB port on my older computer at home, making downloading difficult.  My assistant listens to Podiobooks and I’ll have to give that site a try.  Apparently the author reads the book there.

The other problem I had with some of the podcasts I tried was that there was nothing up front to tell you how long the podcast was going to be.  The Library of Congress was a notable exception.  I think this is very important information to include.  Not everyone is going to be downloading podcasts and listening to them at their leisure; they may have neither the storage space nor a portable player.

I do think people who prefer an auditory learning style will like podcasts and that the library could use this tool for trainings for those people, as well as for library news.  Our outreach librarian had the following suggestions:

-A podcast on finding a job, plus career resources in the library.

-Podcasts highlighting databases and/or reference tips.

-Librarians could interview faculty members from their liaison areas about challenges students face when searching for research in their subject area.

-Historical information about our university or the local area [this might be good linked to old photos from our online collection]

-Book reviews [I liked Nancy Keane’s Booktalks Quick and Simple podcasts – all of them were exactly one minute long, good audio quality, consistent beginnings (music and Nancy introducing herself) and endings (title, author, publisher and year).  The only improvement I would make – and would do if we embedded book review podcasts into our website or blog – is add a photo of the cover of the book, particularly important in my opinion for children’s picture books.]

-Converting blog entries to audio format for people with visual disabilities.

Our access services librarian said, “I think that the library should try using podcasts to advertise events, or services available. Maybe do a vidcast of the library as a short tour.”  I’m with her on vidcasts/screencasts/webcasts – include those visuals, please!  One of our circulation supervisors suggested using them “to advertise our theme displays, what is available in the different departments, and how to use the library in general.”

Our instructional librarian said one professor here “made a podcast of one of our library sessions she had for a face-to-face class so she could upload it for her online class. In general, the students said they found it useful.”  Other ideas she had were:

– explanations of some “how to” steps: username & passwords, personal accounts in the catalog, etc.  These could make handy “Need Help” buttons on some of our web pages in “point of need” spots.

– If we had presentations by speakers, they could be podcast.

– Not sure how useful podcasts would be really for lengthy instructions (i.e. how to use a database), but they could be useful for a talking through of identifying search terms, search strategies, etc.

– Interesting idea about recording faculty comments . . . maybe they could tidbits like “What I mean by quality sources” and explanations of assignments?

Hmm – this has given me lots of ideas – looks like I’m going to have to explore making a podcast and give that a try!

Thing 20: YouTube

I’m not much of a video watcher, although I have to admit the JK Wedding Dance video on YouTube got a few of its now-over-16-million views from me!

I did some searches on “Texas library” and “academic libraries” and found the following videos:

City of Plano Library Technical Services

new Azle Public Library (my mother-in-law was born in Azle)

Scholarly vs. Popular? – I particularly liked this one because it was cute AND short (34 seconds).

And like many universities, ours has its own channel at YouTube.

Being one of those visual learners, I think videos have all kinds of library applications, particularly when demonstrating how to do something. The shorter the better! I found three YouTube videos, all 15 seconds each or less, demonstrating different types of fore-edge paintings for this post on our library’s public blog.