TechSource Post: Fun with photos at library events

From photo booths to scavenger hunts, flickr is a great place to find ideas for using your digital camera at library events. Read more at the TechSource blog.

Yes, this photo is a gimme, but I love it! :)

We are nothing without each other


Book Titles
Originally uploaded by London Public Library

I’ve been working today on a TechSource post about creative ways to use a digital camera in a library and have been wowed and awed by all the great programming that is being documented by libraries on flickr. There’s the usual–storytime, gaming events, Meet-the-Authors. My favorite so far is an event held by the London, Ontario Public Library: “Human Book.” Community members from all walks of life volunteered to spend a few hours at the library posing as “human books,” meeting with interested “readers” and telling their life stories. Regardless of how many books we circulate, articles we download, what matters most (IMNSHO) is the impact that we have on each other. Fabulously done, London PL.

Photo Basics: a la Mode

Cross-posted at ALA TechSource blog as Take Pictures, Tell Stories Part Three.

Modern digital cameras, whether small hand-held models or digital SLRs, often have more modes and options than the average picture-taker needs, but knowing a bit about how modes work can improve photos.

As explained in the previous post, three measurements work together to ensure a properly-exposed photo: ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Most cameras have various modes that enable photographers to give weight to either shutter speed or aperture, while allowing the camera to dictate the other measurements. If you aren’t yet comfortable experimenting with aperture or shutter speed, you can try using some of the automatic modes. Ever wonder what those little icons on the settings dial mean?

Below is an explanation of typical camera modes:

  • Auto or Program – these fully-automatic modes allow the camera to set the shutter speed and aperture based on the light measured by the built-in light meter. Fully-automatic mode typically also uses the on-board flash when there is not enough ambient light for an exposure. You might have to rely on this mode during library events if you are in a dimly-lit room or if you are unsure whether you can get away with turning off the flash. Newer Fuji point-and-shoot cameras have an automatic mode that will take two exposures–one with flash and one without.
  • Portrait (head and shoulders icon) – this mode is best used when taking close-up photos of an individual. Portrait modes typically default to wide apertures so that the subject is isolated from the background. Many small digital cameras have face-detection technology and will adjust the focus and exposure to give faces priority. Some cameras can even detect cat and dog faces.
  • Landscape (often a mountain icon) – use this mode to take photos outdoors or of an entire room, where the entire scene is the star of the show, rather than one person or object. Landscape mode usually defaults to a narrow aperture so that more of the photo is in focus, from foreground to background.
  • Macro (usually a flower icon) – this mode is used for taking extreme closeups, particularly of small objects like flowers or insects. Some digital SLRs have a macro setting, but hard-core macro photographers tend to use special lenses as well.
  • Sports mode (a running person icon) – this mode defaults to a low ISO and fast shutter speed and is best used to capture action, as at sporting events or of small children.
  • Night modes -the camera to the right also has two night modes that would assist in taking photos in low light. A night portrait mode is useful when taking photos of individuals in front of a sunset: the camera exposes for the sunset, then uses a brief flash to shed light on the people in the frame.

Using portrait mode when taking photos of only one or two people, but switching to Auto or Landscape mode when shooting an entire room full of people may result in a better end product. The biggest secret in digital photography? Take as many photos as is required to get the shot that you like best.

Partially-automatic modes offer some control for the photographer. With aperture priority, the photographer sets the desired aperture, and the camera sets the shutter speed needed for a good exposure. Speed Priority or Time Value mode lets the photographer set the desired shutter speed, and the camera sets the aperture needed for a good exposure. Many digital cameras also have a fully-manual mode, but for point-and-shoot cameras, what “fully manual” means can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Typically, the camera’s built-in light meter will provide visual feedback as to whether the dialed-in setting will result in a proper exposure.

Up next: Fun with photos at library events

Photo courtesy Cats-eye-view; CC:by-nd

Reflecting on Committees


3D Bar Graph Meeting

Originally uploaded by lumaxart

I’ve had the privilege (no, really) over the past couple of years to serve my profession and professional association as a committee chair, committee member, and task force member. ALA Committees could use a lot more sunshine than just this blog post, and I encourage other committee members across the organization to write and share your experiences.

LITA’s Top Technology Trends is often said to be the organization’s flagship brand. As an attendee, I had no idea how it worked. Turns out it works in a way similar to other committees and interest groups who put together programming for ALA conferences. For this purpose, it functions very smoothly: there is a group of folks who decide together via various online meetings and email threads who to ask to speak and how to share the session. Top Tech has been known for pushing the envelope, trying different technologies to bring in remote speakers and audience commentary and to push out audio and video. When we have failed, we have been criticized, but we have learned from our mistakes and tried something different the next time. I look forward to being off this committee so that I can actually listen to what is being said!

Technology lessons learned:

  1. Live blogging via CoverItLive is pretty effective for sharing content and for soliciting comments and questions from those in the room and those reading or watching online. It feels redundant at the time if there are media streams, but it’s easier to refer back to and serves as a backup archive in the case where media is not saved—like this year. :(
  2. Ustream.tv is invaluable, but we have to remember to record what we’re streaming.
  3. The most effective use of the projector and screen is a rotating slideshow listing speakers’ and committee members’ names as well as the URL for the live blog, media streams and the hashtag. This helps people who drop in after the session has started.
  4. Twitter is a great tool for learning what’s not going well and for addressing it on the spot. The audio stream was great, but remote listeners were asking for video. I asked over twitter if someone in the room could stream video; two people volunteered and voila, our remote listeners could also watch (Thank you Maurice York and John Blyberg!). Several listeners kept asking who was speaking; I wrote a note to the moderator to ask the speakers to say his or her name when speaking. People observed that this year’s panel comprised all academic librarians. This was not our original intent at all, but this result has made us glad that there will be a TTT panel at this year’s PLA conference.
  5. Twitter, as mainstream as it’s become, is still not for everyone, and, as such, projecting tweets or a chat session still gets mixed reviews.
  6. General lessons learned:

  7. Good leadership is key; delegation is keyer. Just like at work, one person can’t do it all, and everyone has a contribution to make. It’s up to the chair to figure out what that is and to harness it for the good of the committee’s work and for that person as an individual.
  8. It’s ok to fail, but you’ll get criticized for it. Just keep swimming. Reminds me of an email signature I saw this week, quoting Dr. Seuss: “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” [Even better: acknowledge and learn from your mistakes!]
  9. In-person business meetings at conferences could be much improved and might be completely unneeded in many cases. Particularly for LITA, all meetings should offer remote participation opportunities. Skype in members who can’t attend; create a live blog and hash tag to push out content and pull in comments; set up a free ustream account to stream out audio or video and provide a chat room.
  10. ALA Connect is a great communication tool, but it requires setup of communities and friends. The latter could be made easier by adding a tool that checks one’s email contacts for matches.
  11. Show up; speak up; get put to work!
  12. Have you served on association committees? What has your experience been?

    image cc:by-sa lumaxart

TechSource Post on DrupalCamp09


the instigators

Originally uploaded by cindiann

I have a new post at ALA TechSource about my trip at the end of February to Darien Library:

Drupal is hard. It has its own vocabulary. Its potential is so wide open that it is literally possible to do nearly anything with it, and while this idea is greatly liberating, it is also sort of paralyzing: Where do I start? What modules do I need? What can I DO with this thing?

But the way I see it, the fact that Drupal has a steep learning curve is no excuse. There’s no question that Drupal has a steep learning curve, or that it can be messy and complex to implement, but its potential is too great for libraries to ignore. There is also no question that we can do it.

Read the entire post.

ALA TechSource Post: Virtual Participation at Midwinter

I have a new post on the TechSource blog about my recent experience in Denver:

    The TopTech Round Table has been written up very well by Library Journal bloggers Josh Hadro (Part 1  and Part 2) and Roy Tennant (also a TopTech Trendster) and at the AL inside scoop; I won’t recap here. During the weeks leading up to the conference, several TTT committee members tested the live blogging freely available from coveritlive, its twitter integration, media uploading, simple reader polls, and comment moderation. The session’s hashtag, #ttt09 was also aggregated into the LITA & BIGWIG Friendfeed room. We were nothing if not prepared. The final stroke of luck was the unwavering wireless connectivity in the room; without it, there is no way that we would have been able to upload photos and stream live video of the session.

Read more

Random thoughts on the library’s role in the Information R/evolution

The newest video from Michael Wensch’s Digital Ethnography @ Kansas State project is titled Information R/evolution. It picks up where the first video that we watched, “The Machine is Us/ing Us,” left off. Go ahead and watch it; I’ll wait:

There is so much to love about this video, not least of which that it begins in a library and is seemingly pro-librarian: “Managing information IS managing categories; it requires experts.” Then the fun begins… “[W]e must rethink information” and “Yahoo, faced with with possibility that they could organize things with no physical restraints, added the shelf back.”

Fast forward through the concepts teased out in David Weinburger’s excellent Everything is Miscellaneous. Are we as human beings beginning to be able to think about information without the shelf? I think of it as a vast, jumbled pile (sorry, but I do) at which we aim different lenses in an effort to tease out just the right piece of information.

Another idea that hit me full in the face from this video was the idea that there are 5 trillion words on today’s web, which is about 15 years old, a microsecond on the timeline of human history. Information generated by humans is generated at an astonishing and increasing rate. It is already, as Wensch points out, hard to find the right bit. It will not get any easier. If classification systems are no longer important–”there is no shelf”–what is a library’s role here? I would argue that libraries are more important than ever here, and that our role MUST continue to be to teach users to sift good information from the bad by being deft searchers and critical thinkers, but also to create environments in which users of information can connect with each other as well as information they need and create themselves. John Blyberg said in a recent interview [Quicktime] that the library of his dreams is “a place where, [from] the moment you walk in, you’re being engaged by your surroundings, by the people, by your fellow patrons,” and upon leaving, it is still “present in your life,” on any devices used to locate and utilize information: phones, PDAs, computers, TVs, DVRs. I agree wholeheartedly and hope that librarians continue to set aside our pride and get out there and become engaging.

Wensch points to Wikipedia as an example of the idea that “together, we create more information than the experts.” Well, yeah. Debates about the scholarly (or not) usefulness and applicability of Wikipedia aside, this, too has implications for librarians and for users of information alike.

A note on the videos themselves: the method of delivery–YouTube–is very Web 2.0, but the medium of the message itself, which is largely text, is distinctly 1.0. We listen to soothing music and watch animations, but what we are doing is *reading* *static* *text,* a very “1.0″ activity, if I may assert as much. It is very interesting that Wensch chose to deliver his message in the form of animated text, often in the context of the websites about which he speaks, rather than or in addition to having a spoken narrative. To me, this underscores the continued and perhaps increasing importance, particularly in higher education, of critical thinking skills, information evaluation skills and traditional literacy skills. Well done.