#98 Library Thing

If you haven’t come across Library Thing, you should have a look.

It can be used for pleasure, browsing and review purposes. It can also be used as a tool, as books are catalogued on the site. For sure, mostly by amateurs and using Library of Congress cataloguing, but still worth investigating.

You could also use it to network with like minded book lovers, or other professionals.

The site tour is here.

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#97 Free Software

Cost of software is often cited as a reason for not getting involved in the creation of electronic materials for pupils and other members of staff in schools. Time and training are other reasons, but those are different issues.

With the advent of open source software, there is a plethora of free software out there, and some of it just as good as the more expensive commercial products. The range is so large, it’s difficult to pick out examples.

My own favourites are audacity (sound), paint.net (images), Open Office (Office Suite), MWSnap 3 (Screen Capture), WordPress (Blogging), and Wetpaint (Wikis).

Loads more recommended here, alongside their commercial cousins.

#95 Theme Days

I have mixed feelings about theme days. I find large corporate ones like World Book Day to be a waste of everyone’s time. The ¬£1 vouchers can be seen fluttering about in the corridors and playgrounds for weeks after the event.

On the other hand, a local or regional one can be quite effective if the librarian’s heart is in it, or if the librarian is working in collaboration with teaching staff. You tend to get a better quality of attention from pupils during class time, particularly if they feel they’re getting a ‘free lunch’ and ‘this isn’t really work’.

It’s useful to keep an eye on other school events also. If you’re going to have a visit from a footballer or a chef, there’ll be requests immediately before and/or after the visit for books and information.

I personally created theme days centred round football, chess, poetry, (various) authors, exploration, history and motor sport, of the ones I remember. They varied from non-events to several hits, i.e. pupils who developed, and retained, an interest in the subject.

I remember an event during my own schooldays (1970s, <sigh> ) where I borrowed a poetry book on a recommendation (Dylan Thomas). I still love poetry and seek out new themes and poets from time to time. So it can work!

This article is aimed at school wind-down activities, but has some very interesting ideas.

#94 Flickr

Flickr is well known to most, it’s one of the better photo storage and sharing sites.

It has some very nifty features including the ability to create custom goods from your photos (promotion), create quality photo books and upload video clips.

One of the little touches is the ability to add notes to photos. These are not the same as tags, but are ‘hotspots’ on the photo itself which give you information when you run your cursor over them. Sounds dull, but have a look at this labelled photo. If you imagine parts of a book, parts of a web address, parts of your library etc, you might begin to see the potential for this tool.

#93 Facebook

I’ve been on Facebook for a while, but haven’t really done much with it apart from keep in touch with a few friends I contact in other ways anyway.

However, the software has a lot of potential to network, and it may take over from mailing lists and newsgroups eventually. There are some relevant librarian groups, like the ones below.

Library 2.0 Interest Group

Libraries & Librarians

Libraries Using Facebook Pages

#88 Mapping & Labelling

There are thousands of useful web 2.0 tools out there, but some deserve special mention. One of those is Mapwing.

Mapwing lets you take a photo, or series of photos, and attach labels to them to create a one stop guide, or add photos to a ‘map’ to create a virtual guide. This can be used for activities as diverse as explaining the parts of a book, to showing where things are held in your library.

You could also try photo stitching software to create a 360 degree view of your premises, for a nice visual touch.

#83 Video Tutorials

Video Tutorials

Let’s be honest, pupils (or staff for that matter) don’t like big, hefty manuals or instruction sheets. They like to see lots of pictures and step by step instructions.

Or even better, a visual video guide. These are incredibly easy to create with free software such as Cam Studio. The software comes with its own detailed manual. Get access to a headphone/microphone headset, and you’re off.

For examples of library catalogue guides created with this software, see the Perth College website; click on the list items under short tutorials.