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.

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)