Sunday, December 31, 2006

333.702 Careers for 2007: Librarians Count!

According to U.S. News and World Report being a Librarian is a top job for 2007. One reference to the list states "...even though anybody can do a Google search, for instance, librarians will be needed more and more to help us navigate all that digital information." The list of 25 careers and the high points (and low points) of each can be found here. More information from the article and other related pieces can be found here.

We still have a ways to go to be the top rated as far as salary or prestige goes, but it is something to be recognized for our contributions to the information age...especially when so many of us still continue to hear (from the uninformed, but none the less, often highly regarded,) remarks such as "Librarians aren't needed" or "everything can be found on the internet so we don't need books or Libraries."

No one ever said it was an easy job. It is good to get some notice however!

Monday, December 18, 2006

973 The American Story

One of Santa's elves dropped off an early Christmas present that I am throughly enjoying during these days away from the normal routine. (Notice I did not say "these lazy, quiet days." Any teen date in December is never a lazy or quiet day!)
I am enjoying The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong 2006 as they say---up close and personal. I have seen this book in bits and pieces and now I have my own copy to devour page by page, trivia tidbit by trivia tidbit, and enchanting drawing by enchanting drawing. Anyone who has known me for longer than 5 minutes usually discovers that anything "history" can catch my attention. I am not always the best student of history (although Younger Daughter would question that description since she has been quizzing me on historical trivia this evening), but I am an eager learner of most things history, particularly having to do with the USA!
From this book, I especially like the unlikely inclusions of such stories as the OK corral gunfight in Tombstone, Az. (I have been to Boot Hill to visit a relative!), the Iditarod sled dog race origin, and even one of the events that probably introduced many of us digital immigrants to our first taste of what was awaiting us down the line---Pac Man!
I have already told Younger Daughter if she is very good, I might lend this book to her to share with her future students. But it will be hard to part with, so I'll probably get her her own copy once she has settled down at a permanent address.
On her own blog, the author shares with anyone who visits a fantastic slideshow displaying artwork that Roger Roth produced for the book. Be sure and click on the images for details. Random House, the publisher, has an activity-filled teacher's guide for using with the various events discussed in the book.
I sure am lucky to know some pretty smart Santa's elves these days. Thanks LP!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

92 Most Influential YOU...and me...him...her

Congratulations to YOU who is reading this post! You are Time's Person of the Year.
Why and how you say? Simply because you ARE reading this post.
According to the magazine's release "the winners this year were anyone using or creating content on the World Wide Web." We are "citizens of the new digital democracy" as the magazine puts it.

You have to admit we do qualify!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

004.67 No Connnection...O My!

It is going on four days since I have not had an Internet connection at home. It is driving me crazy!

I have gone thru the painful process of having my service provider try to analyze the problem from a distance (a really long distance!) Finally, I was returned to local techs who have a series of steps for checking the actual lines and neighborhood routers they must also undergo and because it is the weekend, that process is not a first priority. I get mixed messages about when to call and ask for an update and whether or not to pay attention to automated phone calls that state the system is working.

I am trying to be patient. It is not a “do or die” situation. Yes, I have work I could be doing…my friends often tell me I work too much, so this “break” will please them I’m sure. I am remembering how to use a computer that is not internet-connected. You can do a lot…especially if you remember to download some files stored in email onto a thumb drive before leaving work! I am even writing this posting in a word document and will post it when I grab a few minutes from a wireless connection at my neighborhood’s center.

I have even managed to pay a little more attention to regular household chores like washing, vacuuming, and trashing junk mail. I have taken the dog on more and longer walks. I have gone to bed earlier. Not bad things at all!

But I am so connected, that when I am not connected, I miss out on other things not work related. I bank online and during this time of holiday shopping, I check my account every day. Although I do not embrace online shopping with the same fervor as several of my friends, I do “window-shop” a lot online, checking availability, prices, and ideas. Losing time for that at this time of year, I am even further behind completing my holiday tasks. Even though it is not my favorite method, but as part of managing my finances, I read the newspaper online. I read magazines…check the TV schedule…study recipes…learn…and communicate with long-distant family and friends ONLINE EVERY DAY.

Have you analyzed recently what you rely on from the Internet?

So, as I said…it is going on four days since I have not had an Internet connection at home. It is driving me crazy!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

027.1 Books in Libraries

Anyone who believes the tradition of books and printed materials in libraries is coming to an end has not attended a book fair in an elementary school, visited the nearest bookstore lately, or thumbed thru the stacks and stacks of catalogs full of the latest publications.

I was invited to participate in an area school's night at the bookfair this evening and the library "book" is not dead! There were tables and tables and tables FULL of beautifully illustrated stories, shiny brightly covered information books, piles of paperbacks in every thickness, and even magazine subscription opportunities. And the place was packed. I saw both children and parents with armloads of books patiently waiting their turns at the cash register. I saw eager readers hunkered down in every nook and cranny "test-reading" the latest offerings of many popular authors. The loudest noises in the room were from the children who were begging for just one more title or yelping because they had to choose between this one and that one! It was a beautiful sight.

I maneuvered my way around one of the local bookstores a couple of Saturdays ago and there is no lack of books there either. There were so many to choose from, my head was spinning by the time I found my way back to the door. And book catalogs promoting new titles and re-issues of classic favorites litter the floor of our office. I feel sorry for the mailman and I'm not talking about the fact that it is the season for extra bundles in his bag.

Notice I did not use the term " libraries full of books." I totally recognize that the books in today's libraries are squeezing together to make room for computers, videotapes, recorded books, and all the other forms of information and pleasure reading we can now choose in our libraries. I even realize that some of the printed forms of information that were absolute necessities in the libraries I haunted as a user are no longer needed in the numbers they once were. When was the last time you saw a whole wall of encyclopedias or had to take notes from a magazine someone pulled from a back room? Three cheers for change!

But a bookless library (or worse, a non-existent library)...I don't think so!

Monday, December 4, 2006

650.1 The LibraryThing -- Catalog YOUR Home Library

How long has it been since you have seen the sun over the stacks of books on your bedside table? Do you have more books than cents? Can you make sense out what's falling out the bookcases in your den?

Try using The LibraryThing to help you organize your personal collection. It is a place where all of us can put our books in order AND communicate with others who like to read what we read.

Do they have information on all kinds of books? Just last month, the blog at the site reported:
"Last night LibraryThing hit 8,388,608 books.
That's not books in LibraryThing—which stands at 7,268,540—but books ever in LibraryThing, including ones later deleted and some shadows.
You might not think it, but 8,388,608 is a significant number.
It's half of 224, the largest number you can store in three bytes.
It's also the limit for MySQL's "signed medium integer." It's 111111111111111111111111.
The drawers are full of ones and there ain't no twos."
Your first 200 books are free. After that, there is a small fee involved. Check it out! Remember, you can't read what you can't find!

551.57 Clouds

Unscramble clouds at The Space Place.
Learn what different clouds look like and do puzzles all at the same time.
A fun way to learn some science!
Comes from our friends over at NASA...there are bunches of other things there too!

005.72 Blogging software is not all alike!

This post was originally created Saturday, December 1st. Because of circumstances beyond my control, I will be running parallel blogs from two different sources for the foreseeable future and so I am adding this copy here. I am trying really hard to understand both sources in an attempt to share information with my group. Choose your source, depending on availability!

Although I have been reading blogs for close to three years now, and reading all kinds of blogs, it has been only about a month since I made the decision to actually create one. As with most things in the technology world, there are several levels in blogging programs.

In choosing things in the technology world, for me anyway, it usually means a compromise between what is easiest (or more familiar) and the goal of the project. So in this case of using blogging software, I sacrificed easy and quick in order that the final product be available to the audience for whom it was intended!

Several years ago I moved from one version of a technology to another and survived the transition…I guess! I will with this as well, but it is not near as much fun! It is more like work.
P.S. This version is more like fun!

371.3 Digital Natives and Digitial Immigrants — The Discussion Continues

In my group, we have been talking about being digital immigrants as based on Marc Prensky’s article from 2001. We have embraced all kinds of technology as it has become available and have encouraged others to use the tools in working with students, the digital natives. If you are not familiar with Prensky’s thoughts, please take a few minutes to read his explanation.

Having come to my district in 1979, I have always felt fortunate that “technology” tools were always made available to me. Back then, the fact that I had a direct telephone line into the library put me way ahead of the game. I remember fondly how impressed students and teachers were when I could get the most current, up-to-date answer possible…all because I could dial the reference desk at the public library at a moment’s notice! Then an Apple II arrived the next year and I have never looked back.

It has not been an easy journey for me…technology and I do not instinctively understand each other, but I have had great teachers and several people with very large safety nets who have supported my efforts. I do feel very much like an immigrant, aka a pioneer. I always admired what it took for people to leave what was comfortable and strike out in a direction unknown to them. I try to remember that when I am up against the many roadblocks I find in tackling a new technology…that sense of just keep going, the journey will be worth it. And it has been.
Over at the TechLearning Blog, the writer offers this expansion of the digital native and digital immigrant idea. Analogies being one of my favorite ways of understanding new things, I enjoyed his descriptions. I am proud to be outta Kansas, but fear I am stuck being left-footed (and it has nothing to do with being left-handed!), but dream of being a wanna-be.

And yes, I am a digital immigrant with an accent. I do not “get” the cell phone at all…can’t hear on it, can’t figure out all it’s features, and can’t get it to come on about half the time UNLESS it is hiding in my purse and then it comes on like magic! But o, my gosh, those Blackberries, etc. really intrigue me…I want one! No, it’s not the technology holding me back in this case…I’m too cheap to take that leap!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

920.073 Most Influential Americans

Atlantic Monthly magazine released its list of the 100 most influential Americans last week as part of its 150 years in publication. Ten notable historians were asked for their lists and the information was compiled to to make the final list. President Abraham Lincoln was named the #1 most influential American.The choices included 17 presidents. The first seven on the list were named by all 10 panelists.
And over 30 were writers...let's hear it for the power of the written word (and a nod to the libraries that continue to "house" these valuables in whatever form is necessary or relevant!)
The authors ranged from Melville at spot 100 up to Mark Twain in the 16th spot. In between, you will see the likes of Hemingway, Rachel Carson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Thoreau, James Fenimore Cooper, Steinbeck and Faulkner. Almost one-third of this impressive list of writers influenced the growth and development of this fine place we call home. Now that is something to think about when you remember ALL of the other impressive contributions made in government, science, technology, and education!
Thirty-one of the elite group contributed their thoughts to the magazine throughout the years. Go here see who made literary contributions.
And of course, as any list of this type will do, let the debates begin on who else should have been here or should not have been, as well as the jockeying for position in the list. Is Abe your choice for #1? At this moment, I think I would have to say he is for me. But if you want to challenge the choices with ones of your own, you can submit your choices here.
I see lots of opportunities for writing prompts in class, exercises in pros and cons, and good conversations using supportive details!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

598.47 March of the Penguins

Part of any extended visit home by Younger Daughter is often used for a mini-marathon of movies and this Thanksgiving was no exception, thanks in part to the bargain DVD bins at Target and Wal-Mart on Black Friday. We got some great $3.00 deals.

The most delightful and heart-warming movie was The March of the Penguins, a National Geographic / Warner Independent Pictures c2005 presentation so beautifully narrated by Morgan Freeman. I am in love with emperor penguins and the stark beauty of Antarctica.
If you have not seen this movie, buy, rent, borrow, or even find it on cable TV (I think the Hallmark Channel is currently showing it.) Here is a sample of what you will see. And remember, it was humans who endured the harshness to capture this beautiful story. Here is the director's thoughts on the adventure.

I checked the district catalog and there are several books I will be borrowing for my winter break reading. I want to learn more about these amazing creatures.

If you are working a lesson around any of this, here are some support materials including some more video that you may find useful.

Yes...Happy Feet is on my radar screen for my next big screen experience!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

813.6 It's a Wonderful Life...The Book

There is a children's book based on the story found in the Frank Capra classic. It is titled It's a Wonderful Life for Kids, Too! and was written by one of the child cast members all grown up. Jimmy Hawkins played the youngest son Tommy in the movie and wrote this children's version of the story as a tribute to the movie in honor of its 60th anniversary.
I can't imagine this book replacing the warmth and comfort so many, including me, get annually from the holiday showing of the film. But if this book can give kids who may not be fans (yet!) of the movie some of the same positive feelings about family and community that the movie does, that is a good thing. Hey, it might inspire them to sit down with parents and grandparents and watch the black and white classic.
There are several online reviews and ordering information available.

621.388 To buy or not to buy a new TV

Although I'm not in the market for one at the moment, it became apparent that I really didn't understand all the whoopla about HDTV, digital signal, or even the difference between buying LCD vs. plasma when thinking new TV until this holiday.
My extended family got together mid-month to celebrate a sibling birthday and one of the group gifts was a new flat screen TV. That is what started the discussion about the impending February 2009 date about the TV signal switch from analog to digital. This will be the biggest change in the "science" of television broadcasting since the early 1950's.
No, you don't have to run out and purchase a new set. Those of us with our old trustworthy sets will still be able to tune in. If you use a cable service you should not even notice a change. If you don't, you will have to get a converter box to continue using your old set.
Even when purchasing a new set, read the details carefully. The larger, higher priced models come fully equipped. The smaller flat screen TVs, especially in the 15-30 inch range will need an adapter added later.
So, we have some time to make our decisions, do our reading, and save our pennies before throwing out the old clumsy square black boxes. Here are a couple of websites that will give you some basic information without too much "science" mixed in!
Digital Television Consumer Corner
DTV Transition Q&A
Compare LCD vs. Plasma here.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

371.33 Ready...Set..........Go!

This blog has been two years in the the making of my mind that is! I have wanted to do this for a long time and just would not commit. I have been reading blogs of various kinds for over two years and knew this was something I should practice, not just preach and promote.
I think it more than appropriate that I choose to get this site up and running over the Thanksgiving break as I have been reflecting lately on how thankful I am that I am in a position to know and understand this type of technology and all the other 21st century communication tools I have available to me.
So what should you expect to see here?
1. All kinds of school library related information. My work responsibilities include (but definitely are not limited to) working with educational subscription online resources and promoting their use by k-12 students, teachers, and librarians, locating and sharing appropriate websites for and with that same learning community, keeping up with the latest trends and titles in reading materials for k-12 students, and assisting the district librarians in maintaining their collection records.
2. Almost anything of interest I see out and about the various electronic venues I explore regularly. I am generally interested in many things historical---particularly of the United States, more particularly the State of Texas, and of the Western portion of the country in general. Because I have been dabbling in family genealogy for about five years now, you might run into some interesting finds from those explorations of mine as well.
3. And anything else that just interests me so much I want to share it!