Welcome to iHCPL. This site was created as an adjunct to Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies and reward them for doing 23 Things. In addition to our staff, we would like to encourage our customers to explore these same technologies. The program is adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Week 10: #23 Is this really the end? Or just the beginning...

Please click here if you are unable to view the video.

Wow! Congratulations!! You've reached the 23rd thing. Be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for completing the program. Just one last discovery post.

For your last and final exercise for this program please reflect on your learning journey and post a few thoughts. Here are some questions to prompt you if you're drawing a blank.

  • What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

  • How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

  • Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

  • What ideas do you have for using these technologies at Harris County Public Library?

  • What else do you want to learn about? What other web 2.0 applications are you interested in?
We are most interested in hearing from customers who participated in this learning experience. If you would post a comment to this post with your thoughts on the program, we would find it most helpful. Thank you.

iStar would like to thank everyone who helped put together the iHCPL program and everyone who participated. Stay tuned...there's more to come!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Week 9: #22 Downloadable Media

Now it's time to take a look around OverDrive and downloadable content.

Downloadable eAudio, music, e-books and video are provided by a company called OverDrive and made available after being purchased by the library. There is no need to set up a separate login and password for this service. You simply use your library card at the HCPL digital media site. You will have to perform a one time download of software for the type of item you are interested in. eAudio, music and video use the OverDrive Media Console. Adobe Reader and Mobipocket Reader are the two different types of e-book software.

For this discovery exercise, you merely need to familiarize yourself a bit with the structure of HCPL's digital media site and get an idea of the types of titles you can find here. Take a look around and locate a few titles of interest to mention in your blog post.

Some sites offer audiobook downloading for free, like LibriVox. Other sites, like Wowio, offer free e-books. Take a look at these sites and compare them to what is offered by the library.

Discovery Resources:

Digital Media Guided Tour - Tutorial that offers step-by-step instructions for checking out and downloading digital media.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Visit HCPL's digital site and explore the different types of materials available.
  2. Create a blog post about your findings. Did you locate a title that you might want to check out? Were there any differences between the library site and the free sites?

Try downloading a title from the library's collection. You don't have to have a portable player, you can also listen/read/watch on a computer. (optional)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Week 9: #21 Podcasts, Smodcasts!

The word podcast is used to refer to a non-musical audio or video broadcast that is distributed over the Internet. What differentiates a podcast from regular streaming audio or video is that the delivery method for podcasts is often done automatically through RSS.

In 2005, "podcast" was named the "word of the year" by New Oxford American Dictionary and with the growth of podcasting it's easy to see why.

Podcasts take many forms, from short 1-10 minute commentaries to much longer in person interviews or panel group discussions. There's a podcast out there for just about every interest area and the best part about this technology is that you don't have to have an iPod or MP3 player to access them. Since podcasts use the MP3 file format, a popular compressed format for audio files, you really just need a PC (or portable device) with headphones or a speaker.

iTunes, the free downloadable application created by Apple, is the directory finding service most associated with podcasts, but if you don't have iTunes installed there are still plenty of options.

For this discovery exercise participants are asked to take a look at some popular podcast directory tools. Do some exploring on your own and locate a podcast that is of interest to you. Once found, you can easily pull the RSS feed into your Bloglines account as well, so that when new casts become available you'll be automatically notified of their existence.

Discovery Resources:

  • Wikipedia explains the history of the podcast.
  • There are many, many podcast directories and finding tools out there. Here are just three of the more popular ones that, unlike iTunes, don't require a software download: Podcast.net, Podcastalley.com, and Yahoo podcasts.

What? You want to learn how to be a podcaster too? (Optional resources for those who want to learn to create podcasts)

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Take a look at one or two of the podcast directories listed and see if you can find a podcast that interests you. See if you can find some interesting library related podcasts here like book review podcasts or library news.
  2. Add the RSS feed for a podcast to your Bloglines account.
  3. Create a blog post about your discovery process. Did you find anything useful here?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Week 9: #20 Discover YouTube and other video sharing sites

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here.

Within the past couple of years online video hosting sites have exploded, allowing users to easily upload and share videos on the web. Among all the players in this area, YouTube is currently top dog, allowing users not only to upload their own video content easily, but also embed clips into their own sites easily. With this year's presidential debates, YouTube has even managed to affect the political process.

Do some searching around YouTube yourself and see what the site has to offer. You'll find everything from piano playing cats and dancing comedians to a librarian career video from 1946 and many, many music videos. Of course, like any free site you'll also find a lot of stuff not worth watching too. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't explore and see for yourself what the site has to offer.

When creating a video to post on YouTube, music and images do need to have copyright clearance or be licensed under creative commons. YouTube has a contract with Warner Music that allows users to play Warner (including Atlantic, Asylum, Elektra and Rhino) songs in their videos.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Explore YouTube and find a video worth noting as an entry in your blog.

  2. Create a blog post about your experience. What did you like or dislike about the site and why did you choose the video that you did? Can you see any features or components of the site that might be interesting if they were applied to library websites?

Try placing the video inside your blog using the copy and past code for the "Embeddable Player." Note: you'll need to use Blogger's Edit HTML tab when pasting this code. (optional)

Other popular video hosting sites:

NOTE: Videos, like music downloads, are bandwidth hogs. It is recommended that you complete this exercise during light internet usage times.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Week 8: #19 Web-based Apps: They're not just for desktops

The availability and use of online productivity web-based applications (think word processing & spreadsheets) has exploded over the past two years and with good reason! These powerful applications provide users with the ability to create and share documents over the internet without the need of installed desktop applications. Some experts speculate that this emerging trend may mean the death of Microsoft Office and other software-based productivity tools, while others think web-based applications have their place, but not in the office. But, no matter which side of the office suite platform you side with, on this both sides seem to agree; web-based apps have their place.

One large benefit to web-based applications is that they eliminate the need to worry about different software versions or file types as you e-mail documents or move from PC to PC. Another bonus is that they easily accommodate collaboration by allowing multiple users to edit the same file (with versioning) and provide users the ability to easily save and convert documents as multiple file types (including HTML and pdf). And, you can even use many of these tools, such as Zoho Writer and Google Docs to author and publish posts to your blog. It's this type of integration with other web 2.0 tools that also makes web-based apps so appealing.

For this discovery exercise, participants are asked to take a look at a web-based word processing tool called Zoho Writer, create a simple document and then document your discoveries in your blog. If you're up to the challenge, you might even export your document as an HTML file or publish it through Zoho to your blog.

With Zoho and other web-based applications, the possibilities are endless.

Discovery Resources:

A short list of web-based productivity applications put together by Helene Blowers in Zoho Writer and exported as HTML.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Create a free account for yourself in Zoho Writer.
  2. Explore the site and create a few test documents.
  3. Try out Zoho Writer's features and create a blog post about your discoveries.

If you're up for the challenge, try using Zoho's "publish" options to post to your blog. (optional)

BTW: Here's a document put together by Helene Blowers listing beneficial features of Zoho.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Week 8: #18 Social Networking: Making friends in the comfort of your own home

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here.

Social networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, and Ning, are changing the human fabric of the Internet. With these services, anyone with access to the Internet can create their own pages and profiles, including personal information, photos and videos. Often the services that host the social networking sites provide several different ways for people to communicate with one another, including blogging and instant messaging features.

People can use these social networking sites to connect with someone halfway around the world or with someone in their own city who shares common interests. Many of the social networking sites have their own theme or personality that initially attracts visitors to join the community. MySpace is a popular social hub, Facebook was created for college students and still has that feel, Yahoo users can log in to Yahoo!360, LinkedIn is aimed at professionals and Xanga is a haven for bloggers. These are just a few of the general social networking sites out there.

Other online communities have grown out of special interest groups. Do you have a flair for decorating? Join the "Rate My Space" group on the HGTV site. Have a thing for opera? Here's the site for you. Maybe you're more interested in NASCAR? Try Infield Parking. Devoted pet owners can even create profiles for their dogs and cats at their own friend making sites. No matter what your interests are, there's probably a social networking site out there for you and others like you.

Remember the lessons learned in Week Four when using social networking sites.

Social Networking Sites listed above:

MySpace - http://www.myspace.com/

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/

Ning - http://www.ning.com/

Yahoo!360 - http://360.yahoo.com/

LinkedIn - http://www.linkedin.com/

Xanga - http://www.xanga.com/

Rate My Space - http://ratemyspace.hgtv.com

MyOpera - http://my.opera.com

Infield Parking - www.infieldparking.com

Dogster, Catster - www.dogster.com , www.catster.com

Discovery Resources

  • Watch this video -- Social Networking in Plain English
  • Take the Facebook tour
  • Newsweek article on the growth of Facebook
  • MySpace safety tips

Discovery Exercise

  1. Take a look around several of the social networking sites and make note of your likes and dislikes.
  2. Post your thoughts about social networking in a blog post. Were there any particular sites that appealed to you?

Create an account for yourself with the social networking site of your choice. (optional)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Week 7: #17 Blog About Technology

For this thing, simply blog about anything technology related. Yes, it can be anything that relates to technology! You just need to share a few thoughts.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Week 7: #16 So what's in a wiki?

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here.

A wiki is a collaborative website and authoring tool that allows users to easily add, remove and edit content. Wikipedia, the online open-community encyclopedia, is the largest and perhaps the most well known of these knowledge sharing tools. With the benefits that wikis provide the use and popularity of these tools is exploding.

Some of the benefits that make wikis so attractive are:

  • Anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content.
  • Tracking tools within wikis allow you to easily keep up with what has been changed and by whom.
  • Earlier versions of a page can be viewed and reinstated when needed.
  • Users do not need to know HTML in order to apply styles to text or add and edit content. In most cases simple syntax structure is used.

As the use of wikis has grown over the last few years, libraries all over the country have begun to use them to collaborate and share knowledge. Among their applications are pathfinder or subject guide wikis, book review wikis, ALA conference wikis and even library best practices wikis.

Discovery Resources:

  • Wiki, wiki, wiki - from PLCMC's Core Competency blog
  • Beginner's look at Wikis from Meredith Farkas
  • What is a wiki? - Library Success wiki presentation
  • Using wikis to create online communities

Discovery Exercise:

For this discovery exercise, you are asked to take a look at some library wikis and blog about your finding. Here's a few examples to get you started:

  • iHCPL Sandbox wiki
  • SJCPL Subject Guides - a pathfinder wiki developed by the St. Joseph County Public Library system
  • Book Lovers Wiki - developed by the Princeton Public Library
  • Library Success: a best practices wiki
  • ALA 2007 Annual Conference wiki - an example of a wiki created to support a specific event
  1. Access the iHCPL wiki and create a login account for yourself. [The Wiki Password is hcpl].
  2. Either add your blog to the favorite blogs page on the iHCPL wiki or add a favorite or two to other pages on the wiki.
  3. Now that you are more familiar with wikis, create a blog post about your findings. What did you find interesting? What types of applications within libraries might work well with a wiki?

So, what's in a wiki? Find out by doing some exploring on your own.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Week 6: #15 On Library 2.0 & Web 2.0

Library 2.0 is the term used to describe a new set of concepts for developing and delivering library services. The name, as you may guess, is an extension of Web 2.0 and shares many of its same philosophies and concepts, including harnessing the user in both design and implementation of services, embracing constant change as a development cycle over the traditional notion of upgrades, and reworking library services to meet the users in their space, as opposed to ours (libraries).

Many have argued that the notion of Library 2.0 is more than just a term used to describe concepts that merely revolve around the use of technology; it is also a term that can be used to describe both physical and mindset changes that are occurring within libraries to make our spaces and services more user-centric and inviting. Others within the profession have asserted that libraries have always been 2.0: collaborative, customer friendly and welcoming. But no matter which side of the debate proponents fall, both sides agree that the libraries of tomorrow, even five or ten years from now, will look substantially different from libraries today.

Discovery Resources:

OCLC Next Space Newsletter -- Web 2.0: Where will the next generation of the web take libraries?

Five Perspectives:

Wikipedia - Article on Library 2.0 with great references

A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Read two or three of the perspectives on Library 2.0 from the list above.
  2. Create a blog post about your thoughts on any one of these. Library 2.0 - it's many things to many people. What does it mean to you?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Week 6: #14 Getting not-so-technical with Technorati

So now that you've been blogging for a while, you might be wondering just how big the blogosphere is. Well, according to Technorati, the leading search tool and authority for blogs, the number of blogs increases by 175,000 each day with over 95.8 million blogs currently being tracked by the site.

Yes, these numbers are astounding, but as you've already seen for yourselves, blogging is so easy that these publishing tools are being taken advantage of by almost every industry, including libraries.

So how does a person get their blog listed as part of the blogosphere and how can you tag your posts with keywords to make them more accessible through a Technorati search? The answer to the first question is that your blog is probably already being captured by Technorati due to the fact that you're already using Blogger, the most popular blogging tool. But if you want to join the party and have your blog officially listed on Technorati and also take advantage of the watchlist and other features, you'll need to claim your blog yourself. As for tagging posts with Technorati tags? This is easy, too. All you need to do is add a little bit of HTML code to the bottom of your post and Technorati will pick up these tags when it spiders (or web crawls) your site.

There are a lot of features available through Technorati, including different ways to search for blogs. You can search for keywords in blog posts, search for entire blog posts that have been tagged with a certain keyword, or search for blogs that have been registered and tagged as whole blogs about a certain subject (like photography or libraries).

Discovery Resources:

Tools - Widgets and other Technorati tools
Technorati Popular features

Discovery Exercises:

  1. Take a look at Technorati and try doing an advanced search by typing "Learning 2.0" as a keyword search in Blog posts, in tags and in the Blog Directory. Are the results different?
  2. Explore popular blogs, searches and videos. Is anything interesting or surprising in your results?
  3. Create a blog post about your discoveries on this site.

If you're up for a challenge, learn how to tag your posts with Technorati tags so they can join tag searches. Create a post about something. It can be anything you want and add the HTML code to the bottom to tag it as "iHCPL." You might also want to consider claiming your blog and creating a watchlist. NOTE: when adding HTML code, you'll want to make sure you're in Blogger's Edit HTML window. (optional)

Week 6: #13 Tagging makes the web 2.0 world go round

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here.

Tagging is an open and informal method of categorizing that allows users to associate keywords with online content (webpages, pictures & posts). Unlike library subject cataloging, which follows a strict set of guidelines (i.e. Library of Congress subject headings), tagging is completely unstructured and freeform, allowing users to create connections between data anyway they want.

In the past few weeks, we've already explored a few sites - Flickr and LibraryThing to name two - that allow users to take advantage of tagging and in week 3 many even used a common tag (iHCPL) to create an association between photos that we individually uploaded. This week, in addition to exploring Technorati tagging, we want to also take a look at a popular social bookmarking site called Del.icio.us (typed in as http://del.icio.us/ ).

Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking manager which allows you to bookmark a web page and add tags to categorize your bookmarks.

Many users find that the real power of Del.icio.us is in the social network aspect, which allows you to see how other users have tagged similar links and also discover other websites that may be of interest to you. You can think of it as peering into another user's filing cabinet, but with this powerful bookmarking tool each user's filing cabinet helps to build an expansive knowledge network.

For this discovery exercise, you are asked to take a look at Del.icio.us and learn about this popular bookmarking tool.

HCPL has a Del.icio.us account for reference resources here.

Discovery Resources:

Discovery Exercise:

  1. View Social Bookmarking in Plain English or How to Explain Del.icio.us to Your Parents to get a good overview of its features.
  2. Take a look around Del.icio.us using the iHCPL account that was created for this exercise. Note: In this account you will find lots of resources that have been highlighted or used throughout the course of the Learning 2.0 program.
  3. Explore the site options and try clicking on a bookmark that has also been bookmarked by a lot of other users. Can you see the comments they added about this bookmark or the tags that they used to categorize this reference?
  4. Create a blog post about your experience and thoughts about this tool. Can you see the potential of this tool for research assistance? Or just as an easy way to create bookmarks that can be accessed anywhere?

Create your own Del.icio.us account. (optional)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Week 5: #12 The "Library" Elf will remind you!

Okay, let's all admit it -- even library employees sometimes forget to turn in their borrowed items on time!

The Elf will help take care of that problem by reminding you when items are due, when holds are ready and about to expire and will give you a list of everything you have checked out. Alas, it won't check under the seats of your car to find that missing DVD.

HCPL does provide a reminder service for library cardholders. If you are having trouble receiving notices, want to keep track of multiple library cards, or if you would prefer RSS or text messages, the Elf is the tool for you.

Discovery Resources:
Demo of Library Elf
FAQ of Library Elf

Discovery Exercise:

Register your library card (or cards) with Library Elf and track your items and requests. Post on your blog what you think about this service.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Week 5: #11 A Thing about Library Thing

Are you a book lover or cataloger at heart? Or do you enjoy finding lost or forgotten gems on the shelf to read? Then LibraryThing may be just the tool for you! Developed for book lovers, this online tool not only allows you to easily create an online account and catalog of your own, it also connects you to other people who have similar libraries and reading tastes.

Add a book to your catalog just by entering the title -- it's so easy you don't even need to be a cataloger to do it -- or connect with other readers through your similar reading tastes. There are lots of ways to use Library Thing. You can view your books on a virtual shelf, add a widget to display titles that are in your catalog or install a search box on your blog.

So, why not join the ranks and create your own library online? With over 240,000 members (BTW: LibraryThing has a group forum for librarians and over 16 million cataloged books) you're bound to discover something new.

LibraryThing is not the only personal cataloging application out there. You might also try All Consuming (not only catalog books, but music, movies and even meals!) or Goodreads.

Discovery Resources:

About LibraryThing

Tour LibraryThing

Blogging LibraryThing

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Take a look around LibraryThing and create an account.
  2. Add at least 5 books to your library.
  3. Blog about your findings and be sure to link to your LibraryThing catalog.

Put a Librarything widget on your blog. (optional)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Week 5: #10 Play around with Image Generators

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here.

Generators? No, I'm not talking about those gas powered back-up things. The generators I'm talking about allow you to easily manipulate image and graphics to create fun images like these:

One of the discovery resources for this "thing" guides you through building an avatar. Safety is a major point for avatars, but it's also a great way to express yourself and your interests without showing an actual picture of yourself.

For this discovery exercise, please just have fun. Find a few interesting image or text generators to play around with and write a post in your blog about one of your favorites and display the result. Often adding the image you mocked up to your blog is as simple as copying and posting code that the page provides. If not, you may just need to right click on the image and then save it to your hard drive before using Blogger's image button to add it to your post.

If you're having difficulty getting your image added to a post in your blog, ask a co-worker for help.

Discovery Resources:

FDToys - try the magazine and movie poster cover generators!
Avatars from Yahoo!
Customize comic strips.
Choose from a variety of image generators.

Discovery Exercise:
  1. Play around with some image generators and find one that you like.

  2. Post the result of your discovery process in your blog. Note: Be sure to include a link to the image generator itself, so other participants can discover it too.

Take some time and have fun with this exercise. And remember to be tasteful, too.

Subscribe to the Generator blog, each post delivering an interesting new Image Generator.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Week 4: #9 Finding Feeds

Now that you have a newsreader (your Bloglines account), you can begin adding other newsfeeds that interest you. There are several ways you can locate newsfeeds:

  • When visiting your favorite websites -- look for newsfeed icons that indicate the website provides it. Often a feed icon will be displayed somewhere in the navigation bar of the site.
  • Use Bloglines search tool -- Bloglines' search tool lets you search for newsfeeds, posts, citations and the web. Use the "Search for Feeds" option to locate RSS feeds you might find interesting.
  • Other search tools that can help you find feeds: Feedster (one of the largest collections of news, blogs and podcasts), Topix (news and media outlet feeds), Syndic8 (open directory of feeds submitted by users) and Technorati (a popular blog finding tool).

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Explore a few of the search tools located above that can help you locate newsfeeds.
  2. Create a blog post about the experience. Don't know what to blog about? Here are some questions to get you started...Which method of finding feeds was the easiest for you to use? Which search tool was the easiest to use and which the most confusing? What kind of useful feeds did you find in your travels? Or what kind of unusual ones did you find? What other tools or ways did you find to locate newsfeeds?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Week 4: #8 Make life "really simple" with RSS and a newsreader

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here.

You've heard of RSS? You've seen those small, funny tags on websites? You have no idea what it really is?

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication" and is a file format for delivering regularly updated information over the web.

Think of RSS as the ultimate web filter for news and events. Many users (yes, RSS is still just catching on) go from website to website reading the latest news, information or blog posts from their favorite writers. RSS allows you to choose which of these you want sent to a central location. It's like having virtual newspapers sent to your virtual door. You stop at one location, one that you've created, and read the latest from all of your favorite places.

You could use RSS to get the latest headlines from CNN, have Netflix update you automatically with new movies coming your way, or to keep up with your best friend's blog entries.

This week’s discovery exercises focus on learning about RSS news feeds and setting up a Bloglines account (a free online newsreader) for yourself to bring your feeds together.

Discovery Resources:

  • RSS feed tutorial video from CNET.
  • Using Bloglines tutorial -- follow steps 1-3 to set up your Bloglines account. Steps 4-9 are optional and cover subscribing to different types of feeds (photos, podcasts, etc.)
  • YouTube video from Helene Blowers on adding RSS feeds.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Follow the discovery resources above to learn more about RSS and newsreaders.
  2. Create a free online Bloglines account for yourself and to at least ten newsfeeds through your reader. See the tutorial from the discovery resources, steps 1-3 for instructions.
  3. Create a post in your blog about this exercise.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Week 3: #7 Photo Editing Tools

Very few of us are able to take a perfect picture, whether it is of a library Harry Potter party or your annual family reunion. Now there are a variety of free online photo editing tools available to crop and lighten and resize digital photos (some will even add special effects!).

Or create a lolcat (or dog) like the one on the right.

Discovery Resources:
  • Pixer - Very easy to use online photo editor.
  • Snipshot - A bit more sophisticated, but still easy to use.
  • Picnik - Requires registration, but will work with your Flickr account.

Discovery Exercise:

Edit a photo using one of the tools listed above and post it to your blog.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Week 3: #6 More Flickr Fun

Like many web 2.0 sites, Flickr has encouraged others to build their own online applications using images found on the site. Through the use of APIs (application programming interfaces), many people have created third party tools and mashups that use Flickr images. Here are just a few samples...

  • Trippermap - allows you to graph a trip on a map with tagged photos.
  • Colorpicker - lets you find public photos in Flickr that match a specific color.
  • Trip planner - lets you build a travel itinerary and photo site.

Discover more Flickr mashups, webapps, and tools.

Discovery Exercise:

As each of us becomes more comfortable with using Flickr, we can make better use of it for our photos. Your discovery exercise for this "thing" is to:

  1. Explore some of the fun Flickr mashups and 3rd party tools that are out there. (You are not limited to the three listed above.)
  2. Create a blog post about one that intrigues you.

One of the most popular tools is FDToys trading card maker. You can create your own trading card, just like these librarians did.

So, have some fun discovering and exploring some neat little apps.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Week 3: #5 Discover Flickr

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here.

Library Pirates
Originally uploaded by lcaroleb
Photo sharing websites have been around since the 90s, but it took a site called Flickr to catapult the idea of "sharing" into a full blown online community. Within the past year, Flickr has become the fastest growing photo sharing site on the web and is known as one of the first websites to use keyword "tags" to create associations and connections between photos and users of the site.

Discovery Resources

Discovery Exercises

The library uses Flickr for our branch photos. Flickr is also great for sharing personal photos with family and friends. This exercise should get you started:

  • Create a free account in Flickr and upload a photo into your Flickr account, then post it to your blog. Make sure to tag any photos want to share for use in this exercise with "iHCPL2" and mark them public.

Be careful when titling or describing photos on Flickr, don't use real names or personal information or make them viewable only to family and friends.

Here are specific instructions on how to post a picture from Flickr on your blog.
- Log into Blogger
- Log into Flickr
- Find the photo you uploaded
- Get to the page where you can edit the picture (there are options just above the picture)
- Click Blog This
- If you don't have a blog connection, it will walk you through setting one up
- Now, go back to your photo, click Blog This again
- Select your blog name
- Enter the title & text for your post (if any) - remember the picture will post automatically
- Click Post Entry

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Week 2: #4 Online Safety and Sharing

Participating in online communities and sharing requires understanding different expectations about privacy and safety. If you write a blog post about "The Most Humiliating Experience of my Life," please be aware that you are sharing this story with anyone who has an Internet connection. You must also be careful with sharing photos and personal or financial information.

Some things to think about when creating content and using online services include:

  • Am I sharing appropriate details about my work or personal life?
  • Do I have permission to post someone else's photo?
  • Am I sharing financial information with an unprotected source?
  • Is the person I'm communicating with who I think they are?

This is in no way meant to alarm anyone! Please just take a minute to look at a couple of resources that will make you feel more comfortable writing posts for your blog that you feel confident in sharing.

Discovery Resources:

  • Think! Before You Post - with illuminating video.
  • Guide to online privacy put together by the Center for Democracy & Technology.
  • Free Range Librarian's ideas on blogging and work.
  • Internet safety for everyone by HCPL.

Discovery Exercise:

  • Create a blog post discussing your thoughts on online safety and privacy. How comfortable are you sharing online?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Week 2: #3 Grab Yourself a Blog in 3 Steps

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here.

Now that you understand how this program will work, it's time to set up your very own personal blog to begin recording your thoughts, discoveries and exercises. For this program, we recommend that you use Blogger *, a popular free online blog hosting service that is extremely easy to use.

Creating a blog using Blogger takes just three steps:

  1. Create an account.
  2. Name your blog.
  3. Select your template.

Once you've created your blog here are two important things to know:

  • To add posts: The maintenance interface that you will use to add posts, edit or change the set-up of your blog is accessed online at http://www.blogger.com/ . Be sure to write down your login and password.
  • To view your blog: Your blog address is http://xxxx.blogspot.com/ , (xxxx)=the unique identifier you entered in Step 2. Be sure to also write down your blog address.

If you run into problems or would like more information about blogs and using Blogger here are some discovery resources you can use:

OK --- Now, it's your turn...

Discovery Exercise:

Each day is a new learning experience! Use the first post in your new blog to explore what is your own individual learning style.

  1. Setup a blog for yourself using Blogger.
  2. Add a test post or two. Use one of your posts to write about which learning habits from the tutorial are easiest for you, which are hardest and why.
  3. If you wish, add your blog to the list of participants.
  4. Have fun!!!

* Use of Blogger is only a recommendation. If there is another blog hosting site that you are more comfortable with, please feel free to use it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Week 1: #2 Lifelong Learning - Motivate Yourself

Among libraries, lifelong learning is one of those core values we shelve our books by.

So, it makes sense that before we embark on this new online learning and discovery journey that we should take a few minutes to view this motivational slide show.

This short presentation will give you some tools to help you get moving and organized.

Discovery Exercise:

If you aren't able to view the slide show, click here.

For the first exercise, view this tutorial and write down which learning habits are easiest for you and which are hardest. Make a contract with yourself about your learning habits. You will use your personal blog (which you will set up next) to post your thoughts about lifelong learning.

Have fun! If you haven't jumped on board yet, it's never too late to become a lifelong learner.

Next Week: Creating your blog so you can begin tracking your journey.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Week 1: #1 Discovery has never been so much fun...

Welcome to iHCPL's learning program and blog. Chances are if you've found your way here you're interested in learning about and playing around (yes, playing is allowed in libraries) with some new Web 2.0 tools that will help you expand your information literacy toolbox.

iHCPL is an online learning program that encourages our customers to learn more about emerging technologies on the web that are changing the way people, society and libraries access information and communicate with each other. Our staff began this program three weeks ago and this blog is an adjunct to their program.

Over the course of the next nine weeks, this website will highlight different discovery exercises to help you become familiar with blogging, RSS news feeds, tagging, wikis, podcasting, online applications, and video and image hosting sites.

To familiarize yourself with this project, be sure to read our About page. The FAQs should answer most of your questions about this program.

So, fasten your seat belts, grab your mouse and get ready for a discovery adventure...and remember, its OK to play in the library and have fun!

Stay tuned for the next item up for discovery...or better yet, subscribe to the RSS feed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Coming October 1...

If you aren't able to view the embedded video, click here. Note that the video is referring to the start date of the staff program and labs for staff.

On October 1, the iHCPL: A Learning Experience for Our Customers adventure begins. More of the tools we use in our jobs and personal lives are web based. Be prepared, learn about these new tools with iHCPL. Each week, for nine weeks, you'll learn about web 2.0 technologies through fun, self-paced, online exercises. Join our staff, who began their journey on September 10, in learning about these new tools.

Monday, September 17, 2007

List of Participants

Are you participating? We invite you to comment on this post and list your blog as a participant. To list yourself, click Post a Comment and enter the link to your blog. The link is the web address, for example, the address for iHCPL: A Learning Experience for Our Customers is http://ihcpl2.blogspot.com.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The 23 Things

Listed below are 23 Things (or small exercises) that you can do on the web to explore and expand your knowledge of the Internet and Web 2.0. Staff are encouraged to complete all 23 items on this list by December 14th in order to receive 10 hours of training credit.

    Week 1: Introduction (Official start: September 10)
  1. Read this blog & find out about the program.
  2. Read this entry and then view the motivational slide show to discover a few pointers on how to nurture your own learning process.

  3. Week 2: Blogging
  4. Set up your own blog, add your first post, & register for the program.
  5. Get tips for navigating safely online.

  6. Week 3: Photos & Images
  7. Explore Flickr and learn about this popular image hosting site.
  8. Have some Flickr fun and discover some Flickr mashups & 3rd party sites.
  9. Learn about online photo editing tools to improve your pictures.

  10. Week 4: RSS & Newsreaders
  11. Learn about RSS feeds and setup your own Bloglines newsreader account.
  12. Locate a few blogs and/or news feeds to add to your newsreader account.

  13. Week 5: Play Week
  14. Play around with an online image generator.
  15. Take a look at LibraryThing and catalog some of your favorite books.
  16. Sign up for Library Elf and get account updates by email, RSS, or text message.

  17. Week 6: Tagging, Folksonomies & Technorati
  18. Learn about tagging and discover Del.icio.us (a social bookmaking site)
  19. Explore Technorati and learn how tags work with blog posts.
  20. Read a few perspectives on Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and the future of libraries and blog your thoughts.

  21. Week 7: Wikis
  22. Learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that libraries are using them.
  23. Create a blog post about anything technology related that interests you this week.

  24. Week 8: Online Applications & Tools
  25. Explore Social Networking.
  26. Take a look at some online productivity (word processing, spreadsheet) tools.

  27. Week 9: Podcasts, Video & Downloadable Media
  28. Discover YouTube and a few sites that allow users to upload and share videos.
  29. Discover some useful search tools for locating podcasts.
  30. Take a look at the titles available on Overdrive and learn how to download video.

  31. Week 10: Summary
  32. Summarize your thoughts about this program on your blog. Discuss how library 2.0 and web 2.0 can best be implemented at HCPL.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does this online learning program work?
    This is a self-discovery program which encourages customers to take control of their own learning and to utilize their lifelong learning skills through exploration and PLAY. Customers are encouraged to share their discoveries, techniques and "how to's" through their blogs.

  • How long is the program?
    The program kicks off October 1, three weeks after staff has begun their iHCPL journey. The program has nine weeks of activities that you can do at your own pace.

  • How do I track my progress for each of the 23 Things?
    We encourage you to start a blog as part of the program to track your progress. Enter the name of your blog and address in the comments section of the Participants post.

  • I've seen the list of 23 Things on the website, but how do I know what to do with them?
    Each week, two or three posts will be added to the iHCPL blog with details about the discovery exercises for that week. The reason for this staggered approach is to allow participants the ability to focus each week on a different area without feeling overwhelmed.

  • Can I work ahead through the list of items on my own?
    Yes, of course. You are encouraged to self-direct your discovery process, especially by working ahead on your own!! However, if you do work ahead on some items, be sure to check back on the exercise details for each item once they are posted.

  • What if I need help - who can I call?
    Our staff is participating in the iHCPL program. We encourage you to talk with them about it. Do keep in mind that this is a voluntary program for our staff.
Don't find your question answered here? Then enter it is as comment below.

About the iHCPL Program

This blog has been set-up as part of Harris County Public Library's iHCPL project to encourage our customers to experiment and learn about the new and emerging technologies that are reshaping the context of information on the Internet today. The objectives of this program are to:

  • Encourage exploration of Web 2.0 and new technologies by HCPL customers.
  • Provide customers with new tools (that are freely available on the Internet).
  • Demystify these new technologies.
The iHCPL program has been adapted by a committee from the Learning 2.0 program, designed the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. The program is loosely based upon Stephen Abram's article, 43 Things I (or You) Might Want to Do this Year (Information Outlook - Feb 2006) and the website 43Things.

The design of this online program was completely built on Web 2.0 technologies that are freely available on the Internet. These sites include: Blogger, Flickr, Odeo, YouTube, PBWiki & Bloglines.