Friday, April 27, 2012

ALLA Poster Session

Yesterday I attended my first Alabama Library Association Convention.  This was a great experience for both my co-worker and me.  We presented a poster titled “Taking the Distance Out of Distance Education.”  This was my first poster session, and was a great learning experience.  I had an opportunity to meet a lot of new people who work in different capacities in libraries all over the state, and some out of state.  Making connections in the library world is key at this point in my career, and helps open up contacts and career opportunities for when I complete my MLIS degree.      
We came up with the idea of what to do our poster on based on our current jobs as well as being distance education students.  I am the Circulation Supervisor at a Library, and my co-worker Lexie is in charge of Interlibrary Loan and Serials.  We are at a small academic branch campus for Troy University.  Our university offers many online degrees and has campuses across the country.  We not only work with distance education students each day, but we also are distance education students.  We thought it would be helpful to give a brief history of distance education to show people just how much distance education revolutionized.  We also included a section on helpful tools for students to use for both personal use and for collaborating with other class members on projects.  I have included a link to our poster, so I hope everyone enjoys checking it out!      

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Distance Education Tools

Distance Education is a vital part of how students are educated today and it is expected to continue and grow in the future.  Education and technology are quickly evolving and changing every day, so it is helpful to learn about current and upcoming technologies that can help the distance learner. 
In the past, I have taken distance education classes, and they have all been taught a number of different ways, through live television courses, interactive conferencing, and online.  I have most enjoyed the classes I am currently enrolled in at the University of Southern Mississippi. The classes are online, but different from what I have always known as 'online' classes.  In the past, online classes meant that the teacher posted all of the course information and objectives on blackboard, gave students assignments, and posted specific due dates for turning in materials.  The current online classes I am enrolled in are real time chat classes.  This gives the instructors and students a set class time each week for lectures and questions.  Outside of these classes, there are several tools that can be utilized by students for collaboration with other students, or just as helpful aids to work on assignments. 
Social Networking Sites:
       Twitter – Personal and marketing opportunities
       MySpace – personal networking
       Google+ - personal and professional networking
       Live Journal – personal networking
       Skype – Video conferencing
       You Tube – video distribution
       Voice Thread – cloud based media presentations
       iTunes – music and podcasts
       Audacity – audio editor and recorder
       Prezi – cloud based media presentations
       Oovoo – video conferencing
Blogs/RSS Feeds:
       Google Reader – RSS feed
       My Yahoo! – customizable webpage
       WordPress – Blog publisher
       Blogger – Blog publisher
       Tumblr – Blog publisher
Content Management Sites
       Drupal – Note organization
       Dingo – Bookmarking Website
       Zotero – Citation manager
       EasyBib – Citation manager
       PBWorks – Wiki publisher
       Read It Later – Bookmarking tool
       Dropbox – Cloud storage
       Google Docs – Cloud storage
       Pinterest – Virtual pinboard

Alabama Library Association Convention

The Alabama Library Association is holding its annual convention this week, April 24-27, in Hoover, AL.  I am very excited about this conference this year, because it will be my first time attending.  My co-worker and I submitted a proposal for a poster session and were accepted.  We will be attending the conference April 26th to present our poster.  We chose the topic of distance education because it is something that continues to rapidly change, and is also something we are both involved with in school.
This year’s theme is Alabama Libraries: ALLAccess, and is being held at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, AL.  Featured speakers at this year’s convention include Janis Ian and Ridley Pearson.  There is also an Author Awards Luncheon that honors Alabama authors and their accomplishments. 
This year’s honorees include: Condoleezza Rice for Extraordinary, Ordinary People;   Sonny Brewer for The Widow and the Tree; Deborah Wiles for Countdown; Watt Key for Dirt Road Home. 
During the convention, there will be several different programs and presentations for attendees as well as a variety of vendors and new products to check out.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Databases are a great source for finding electronic resources on almost any subject area.  The two most common types of databases are bibliographic and full-text.  Bibliographic databases contain citations, abstracts, or document summaries that are searchable by keywords, author, title, or subject.  Full-text databases contain full articles from a selection of journal titles.  Databases usually offer several different methods of searching, for example, a basic search or advanced search where limiters can be set to find more accurate information. 
One of the most popular types of databases searches is Boolean searching.  This method allows the search to be very specific and include or eliminate specific search terms.  The Boolean operators used for searching are: AND, OR, NOT.  AND is used to combine and limit search terms, the results from this type of search should contain all search terms.  OR is used to broaden a search and retrieve more information.  NOT is used to exclude specific terms, which eliminates any items found including that specific term. 
For more information on databases and Boolean searching check out the two links below:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

National Library Week

This week, April 8 – 14, is National Library Week!  This year’s theme is You Belong @ Your Library.  This is a national observance, usually held during the second full week of April, sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA).  National Library Week is a way to celebrate and promote both libraries and librarians that open their doors to help patrons of all walks of life every day. 

Special events are setup at libraries across the country throughout this week as well as online.  This year National Library Workers Day is Tuesday, April 10, National Bookmobile Day is Wednesday, April 11, and Support Teen Literature Day is Thursday, April 12.  ALA’s website offers additional information, links, and pictures of events going on across the country this week.  They also offer different literature and promotional tools that can be used at your library.   

At the library where I work, we do monthly display cases for different events.  Here is a picture of the one we created for National Library Week.


Finding and Creating a Wiki

Websites of all types are available for starting a wiki, many are free.  Here are a few websites that are useful for creating wikis:  PBworks, wikispaces, and wikispot.    Depending on the size and usage, upgrades are available that charge a small amount for housing information.  Getting started is easy; first you just have to pick out a host website.  Once you find a host website that works best for your Wiki you will need to come up with a name and URL. 
Setting up the wiki is a step by step process, and there can be a bit of a learning curve for first time users, and for learning how to do specific tasks, like adding files and screenshots.   All wikis are different so take the time to learn the different areas and then consider offering a training class to others in the office so that everyone understands and knows what their part is in contributing or editing information.
Once your wiki has the basics setup, you can either make it public or limit it to those you choose to grant access too.  Everyone who is given access also has a setting given by the administrator as to whether they can only read the documents, or if they have editing capabilities.  All of these permissions are granted by the administrator and can be changed at any time.  At our library we grant administrative access to all librarians and staff so that they can add and change any documents necessary.  Student assistants only have a certain section that they can access, and this section is available for them to be able to read and write in for logging activities and shelf reading assignments. 
Overall, wikis are an easy tool to setup and utilize for everyday tasks and document handling.  Below is a screenshot of my libraries homepage for the student assistant wiki.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I am going to start out this post by telling everyone a little bit about Wikis and why I think they are important tool that many businesses should use.
First of all, let me define what a wiki is:  Wikis are websites that allow users to add, modify, or delete content from a web browser.  Wikis are great tools that allow for collaboration and may be useful for many things.  Wikis are used to house important documents that need to be accessible for many people or training devices for new employees.  Wikis are created through on a website that utilizes a type of wiki software.  They are useful for producing and saving documents that are accessible to the public or made private for a specific group of people.
I currently work at a library where we have implemented a wiki for both staff collaboration and for training purposed.  It was created so that there was a general space that all workers could access to read policies and procedures.  Once we found out that that was successful for saving and editing policies and procedures, I then took one section of it that I use as a training manual.  New staff and student workers have access to this section in order to learn about different procedures, or as a fall back guide for finding information. 
This Wiki is a great tool that offers many features and opportunities.  Setting up a wiki is easy; getting others to use it can be somewhat more difficult.  We found that everyone supported the idea at our library in the beginning, but once the application was produced, it took a while to get everyone on board and using it.  Now that the wiki has been created and operational, many staff and student workers have embraced it and use it on a daily basis for logging shelf reading sections and other work expectations.  Wikis offer endless possibilities; in my next blog, I will give some examples of wiki websites and explain more on how to start your own wiki.