Update on ALA’s District Dispatch Podcast

Remember awhile back, when I posted about ALA’s District Dispatch blog? Jenny Levine commented (among others) – which is good, because she “has the power” (said with that superhero echoey effect) to fix that kind of thing.

And she did! today I can successfully listen to and download the audio file manually, and I can also drop the RSS feed into iTunes and automatically download ALA audio goodness to my iPod (which I just did, too).

Thanks, ALA!

How David Makes Videos

From comments on my ALA Midwinter 2007: It Can Be Confusing post, Nancy Dowd asks:

“David, What great quality video – what kind of camera did you use? Any hints on how you posted the video?”

Cool question, and thanks! Here’s what I do:

  • I currently use a Sanyo Xacti HD1A camcorder (here’s a great review of the Xacti). It takes mpeg-4 video and saves it on an SD card, rather than the usual Mini DV cassette.
  • When I shot the video, I did it in little chunks, as I was walking to the session.
  • Next comes downloading the clips to my PC – I can either use the software that came with the Xacti or I can take out the SD card, plug in a USB SD card reader, and upload the clips that way.

Then the real fun begins!

  • I wanted to edit the video in Windows Movie Maker, so I first had to turn the mpeg-4 video files into AVI files. I did this with the MP4Cam2AVI Easy Converter
  • Then, I dropped the files into Windows Movie Maker and edited away.
  • Once I was satisfied with my final movie, I saved the movie as an AVI file
  • Then I opened the AVI file in Quicktime Pro and saved it as a much smaller quicktime formatted movie
  • Finally, I uploaded the movie into my account at blip.tv (and also my youtube account).

And a few video-taking tips, too:

  • Film more footage than you need – good for editing later.
  • Always film a little more before and after each clip – that way you don’t end up clipping off your words (like I do sometimes).
  • Edit your video. Then edit again. Then cut half of that. Web video should be SHORT (mine clocked in at just over 1 minute).

So there you go!

The Next DOPA?

From my comments – “Dopa is reborn as DOPA jr… ” (thanks, Steve!)

From the full article: “Sen. Ted Stevens, R-AK, introduced S.B. 49 at the beginning of the
current legislative session. The bill is reported to have identical
language to DOPA, with one addition. According to a report on ZDNet, Stevens added language that had been
part of a failed communications bill that required all sexually
explicit websites to be labeled as such, or impose prison sentences on
website operators who fail to comply.”

Just an FYI to those who hadn’t heard about it yet…

Inviting Participation, Part 5: Specific Tools – MySpace

This is part 5 of my Inviting Participation in Web 2.0 series of articles.

So far, I’ve introduced both active and passive forms of inviting
participation using web 2.0 tools, and explained how to do both using
blogs. This time, let’s examine MySpace.

MySpace is like a closed web 2.0 free-for-all, complete with blogs,
shared calendars, “friends,” videos and photos that can be commented
on, music (some can be downloaded), customized webpage “skins,” and IM
– and most of this can be searched or browsed. And the kids that
frequent my library absolutely LOVE it. This post will point out ways
to invite participation using MySpace.

First, for active types of invitation
– asking, of course! But one can ask using some cool MySpace-specific tools, like:

  • Event invites: Up at the top of your MySpace user account page is a
    menu bar that includes Events. Events allows you to post your event
    (think cool library event here), including all the juicy details like
    time, location, and event description. The active part comes when you
    send the Event – because that Event is sent to all your MySpace Friends
    (ie., everyone included on your Friends list who hasn’t blocked
    Events). It pays to make a lot of MySpace Friends!
  • Bulletin Board: Bulletins are messages that are sent to all your friends at the same
    time. Think of them as a group email. Yet another tool that allows
    direct communication with everyone on your Friends list.
  • Blog: Blogs show up on your profile page, and other MySpace users can subscribe to them.
  • Invites: Why not invite local MySpace users to be your friend? MySpace
    allows you to search by zip code – go ahead, check it out. How many
    MySpacers can you find in your zip code? There are over 3000 in mine.

Passive types of invitation:

  • Make an attractive MySpace skin. Better yet, allow your teen advisory
    council to make the skin for you. They might take more ownership of the
    page that way (which, in turn, invites them to participate)
  • Allow users to be your Friend without having to take extra steps
    (like knowing your last name). That immediately cuts down on the number
    of friends you’ll get.
  • Allow comments
  • Use MySpace Forums and Groups (think discussion boards, listservs, and chatrooms) to start interesting conversations.
  • Take inviting photos (and repost to Flickr)
  • Take inviting video (and repost that video to YouTube)
  • Include direct links to your catalog to new books, videos, and music at your library.
  • In blogs and something called “Blurbs,” point to things your target
    audience would be interested in
    (and link to those things!).
  • IM – use MySpace IM and also allow anyone to IM you. Also post your AOL IM name on your MySpace page.
  • Share your calendar.

This is certainly not everything you can do using MySpace! Does anyone
have some ideas to add? I’d be interested in hearing them.

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Customer Service When No One is Looking

Just a random thought on customer service. I’m currently reading a book by Jim Palmer (an old friend from my days in Nashville) titled Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God. It’s an interesting book (though I realize not everyone’s cup of tea).

Palmer mentions loving libraries, and then goes on to say this (it’s not really the point of his chapter, but it struck me nonetheless): “Sometimes you see strange things in libraries… there’s the time I saw the librarian at the counter turn away from a departing (and apparently difficult) customer and flip her the bird out of everyone’s view except mine at the water fountain. It made for a strange moment when our eyes met, and it burst my bubble that all librarians are mild-mannered Mother Teresa types whose greatest joy in life is simply helping people find books” (pg. 48).

Besides the goofy giggles I get from the seeing the phrase “flip her the bird” in a Christian non-fiction book (I have a quirky sense of humor), this scenario really did give me pause. Why? Well… think about your library staff for a sec. Are their customer service cups half-empty or half-full? Are they prone to to be reactive or proactive? Do they go the extra mile to help customers find something, or do they say “it’s up on the next floor” and point vaguely to the elevator? Do they “flip her the bird” when no one’s looking (or at least, when they THINK no one’s looking)?


I know some libraries that have mandatory customer service training for all new employees – I think that’s great. Possibly those libraries that do great customer service need to “share the joy” with other libraries?