Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wish You Were Here!

The summer travel season is just around the corner and that means…

taking our books to exotic, beautiful, relaxing, and/or exciting destinations!

Where do they all go? We'd love to know!

So send us pictures of our books on vacation, and we'll put them on our website for all to enjoy. A Paris guidebook in front of the Eiffel Tower? Einstein on the Beach? Have fun with it.

Then send your digital photos by email to and we'll do the rest. Please make sure to include your name, the title of the book, and the location of the photo. And don't send us anything you wouldn't want us making visible to the world.

Bon voyage!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Personal Book Lists

Every run across a book in our catalog and think: "I'd really like to read that some day, but not right now?" And then you wonder how you will ever remember the title.

Or maybe there's a book that you'd really like to remember to pick up the next time you're at the library, only how will you ever think of it when you're actually here?

Or maybe you're doing some research using our catalog, finding lots of potential books, and wishing you didn't have to write down all the titles and call numbers until you knew which ones you really wanted.

Or maybe you'd just like to keep a list somewhere of the movies you've seen so that you don't accidentally get the same one twice. (You know it happens!)

Our new catalog offers solutions to each of these problems in the guise of "Personal Lists." Here's how it works:

First of all, you need to be logged in. You can find instructions for logging in in my post on online renewals.

Next, you need to find the item you're looking for in our catalog and click through to the main page for that item.

On that page, in about the middle, you'll see a button labeled "Add to this List." (To the left of the button you should see: "Selected List: My Personal List.")

Once you've added an item, the "Add to this List" button will convert to "In this List," so that you will know without even going to your list whether or not a particular item is already on it.

To view your list, you'll need only to click on the (admittedly less than obvious) "Resource Lists" link in the left-hand navigational column:

The next screen will show a list of your "Lists." You should only have one. To see the contents, click the "View" button:

Now that you're viewing your list, you can sort it by various criteria, jump to the details for any item, remove items, get a printer-friendly version, and even generate a bibiliography or citation list. The last tool is a great help to students!

And because your list is stored on the web, you can get to it from any computer with Internet access! Add an item to you list from home, then refer to it while you're at the library. No problem.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Web 2. Overview

I've just finished presenting materials on social bookmarking for a Web 2.0 expo at Wesleyan. A bunch of us were working on a range of technologies. I mention the expo here because all of us have compiled our findings in a blog that makes a very useful resource for introductory information on various Web 2.0 tools. I think that the information could be of broad interest to people who are just learning about Web 2.0 and wondering where they can find out more. In the previous post I discussed the possibility of using Google Docs & Spreadsheets on our public computers. In the future, I'll be writing more for this blog about Web 2.0 tools in the context of our library.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Your Computer in the Cloud

Time was, having a powerful computing environment meant having lots of software on your machine. No longer so. For many basic needs, there are now a host of 'web-based' applications that will do the job, often for free, and sometimes with distinct advantages over their desktop forebears. The implications for our public computer users are profound.

Most people know by now that you can read, write, and store your email on the web. Fewer people realize that there are now similar web counterparts for word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation tools (think PowerPoint). Knowing about these can make life a lot easier, especially since our internet enabled computers don't have office software on them.

So let's say you want to write a paper or a letter on one of our internet machines. You can. Yes, YOU CAN. All you need to do is sign up for Google Docs & Spreadsheets or Zoho Writer. Both are free and both Google and Zoho offer a host of other useful services that you might one day branch out into. For now, though, let's just look at Google Docs.

I'm not going to explain every facet of using Google Docs. The interface is pretty intuitive and there's ample help documentation. If you're on the second floor here you can always ask for help if you need it. What I want to emphasize here is how using Google Docs is especially practical at our library.

Here's a scenario that comes up frequently: You're reading your email on line and someone (maybe you) has sent you a Word .doc as an attachment. You're supposed to open the doc, edit it, and send it back, but our computers don't have Word, so you can't open the file. How can Google Docs help?

When you log in to your Google Docs account you'll see a list of your most recent documents. At the top left of that screen is an option to "Upload" a file:

Click the "Upload" button and you'll see a screen with a number of options. Below the box with the "Upload a File" options you'll find a box labeled "Email-In Your Documents and Files." There, in bold, you'll find a special email address. I've blocked out the specific address in the image below, but you get the idea:

What you need to do is forward the email with the attachment to the address in the box. Google Docs will automatically upload and convert the attachment to a web-editable format.

Now you can make your changes, save, and&hellip: re-attach? Sure, that's one option. Just click on the "Email" button in the upper right.

And then fill out the dialog box. You can opt to paste the text into the body of the email and to cc yourself.

Depending on how you want to use the document, though, you might prefer to add viewers by clicking on the "Share" tab rather than sending an attachment. When you add a viewer/collaborator, you send your addressee a link to the document online. A link won't take up space in your or your addressee's email accounts the way an attachment will. And if you make any changes to the document, the link will always be pointing to the most recent version. You won't need to 'resend' your revisions.

Happy authoring!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Newsletter Links

If you subscribe to any of our new release newsletters, you might have noticed that the "Find-this-book-in-our-catalog" links have not consistently worked as they were meant to of late.

The problem has been remedied so that now you can pop right in to our catalog to find out, for example if the book is available.

Happy browsing!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Regular patrons will probably have noticed that we recently upgraded our catalog. One of the nice things about the upgrade is that you can now view your account and even renew many items right online, 24/7, when it's convenient for you!

You'll find instructions for renewal on the front page of the catalog, but here are a few screenshots to illustrate the process:

  1. Point your browser to our catalog and click on "Login" in the upper right corner of the screen.

  2. Your username is the 14-digit number from the barcode on your library card. Your password is 'patron.' Enter these and click login again.

  3. Your name will now appear in the upper right corner of the screen, just to the left of the "Logout" button.

  4. Your account opens to the "Home" tab. To see your information, click the "My Info" tab.

  5. You should now see a list of all the information relevant to your account. On each line of the "Items Out" list you will see:
    • Due Date
    • Title
    • Call Number
    • Price
    • Checked Out

  6. The "Renew" button is at the far right of each line. You will also find a "Renew All" button at the bottom of the renewal column. While you're there, you'll notice that you can also select a view of your information that is well suited to printing.

  7. If you have outstanding fines, or if any items are on hold, or if you have already reached the renewal limit, you will not be able to renew some or all of your items.

  8. Movies cannot be renewed.

If you run into difficulties of any kind, don't hesitate to call us at 860-669-2342.

Love your library!