Desk Set

If you like movies and libraries, I’ve got a recommendation for you. Desk Set (1957) is a comedy, starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, set in the reference library at a television network. Hepburn is the head librarian and Tracy is a man hired by the company to install the “electronic brain” aka very large computer in the reference department. The librarians fear that with the installation of this new bit of technology, they will all soon be out of a job. Faced with this possibility, Hepburn sets out to prove that no computer can ever match the abilities of the human mind. You can find this film and many others here in Snell Library.

Swap Tree

In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to post something I learned about recently that’s meant to be environmentally conscious.  Yesterday, a friend told me about, a site where you can exchange products you have (like books, cds, and dvds) for others that you want.  It’s a massive trading website where you just have to pay shipping and handling costs.  While I’m a hoarder who likes holding on to things, I certainly appreciate SwapTree’s message of re-usability and bartering!  My friend also told me that for every trade made today, SwapTree will donate $1 to the Sierra Club.  (Though I couldn’t find anything corroborating that on their website.) I also think that taste is such a funny and personal issue, that it would be interesting to see what people are looking for (or looking to unload.)  It seems like their could be some airing of dirty laundry-from my cursory survey it seems like people are looking to pick up much ‘hipper’ items (and trade away Chicken Soup for the Soul and Kenny G!) Has anyone tried this before?  What do you think?

Teaching with Technology

On April 29th I will be making a poster presentation on Teaching with Video: Preproduction planning and Post Production resources for YouTube presentations. My coworkers Thomas and Andrew will be leading the afternoon breakout sessions. Here is the website to learn more about the conference. This will be held on campus at the Curry Center and Attendance is free for Northeastern attendees. If you are interested just register to attend. a-Twitter about Second Life? Or something?

So I recently returned from a conference called Computers in Libraries 2008. It was way more interesting than it sounds! 🙂 Lots of librarians around the country (and the world) are talking about finding ways to use so-called Web 2.0 technologies in their libraries. There were sessions about Facebook, blogging, wikis, etc. I went to a couple of particularly interesting sessions — interesting in that they dealt with technologies that I personally haven’t used very much, but that are growing in popularity. These include the sites Twitter (which I’ve never tried) and (which I have), and the virtual world of Second Life (never been there either). In case anyone is not familiar with one or more of these, let me briefly explain them. Twitter lets you post very brief responses to “what are you doing now?” and follow other people’s responses to the same question. It’s been referred to as “micro-blogging.” is a social bookmarking site — you can save websites you like, tag them with descriptions, access them from anywhere (unlike bookmarks in your web browser) and share them with others. And Second Life is a virtual world in which you can create an avatar and simulate real-world activities, such as shopping, building things, attending concerts or lectures, and meeting people from around the world. The conference session on Twitter and failed to convince me about the former, but had some good ideas for using the latter in the library, especially in reference and instruction. The session on Second Life showed a few interesting examples but mainly served to point out that there’s not a huge demand for library services in Second Life because not that many people use Second Life itself, at least not yet. So, I’m curious about others’ usage of these three items. The only one I’ve tried at all, as I said, is Do you use it, and for what? How about Twitter? What’s so great about it? How about Second Life? Can you see a role for any of these in the library, or for educational purposes in general? I’d be very interested to know about others’ experiences with these technologies.