Friday, September 26, 2008

Week 5, Thing 12

#12 Roll your own search engine

Do you have a group of websites that are your favorites? Or a set of online resources that are similar that you frequently use to answer homework or reference questions? Well Rollyo may be the tool for you. Rollyo allows you to create your own search tool for the just the websites you know and trust.

Take a look at some of these search rolls that have already been created:

Try a search for broad terms like "homework” or “history” to see results listed from multiple sites.

One of our own Geeks has a post on her blog, OPL’S PSA: Omaha Library’s Passably Sane Assistant on Rollyo

Discovery Exercise:
1. Explore Rollyo and create an account for yourself.

2. Create a search roll for any subject you like.

3. Create a post in your blog about your experience and link to your search roll. Can you see a potential use for tools like this?

OPTIONAL: Add your search roll to your blog using the "Create a Searchbox" tool.

Rollyo - You just never know when this little tool might come in handy.

Week 5, Thing 11

#11 A thing about LibraryThing

Are you book lover or cataloger at heart? Or do you enjoy finding lost and forgotten gems on the shelf to read? Then LibraryThing may be just the tool for you. Developed for booklovers, this online tool not only allows you to easily create an online catalog of your own it also connects you to other people who have similar libraries and reading tastes. Add a book to your catalog by just entering the title -- It’s so easy that you don’t even need MARC record training to do it – or connect with other users through your similar reading tastes. There are lots of ways to use LibraryThing. You can even view your books on a virtual shelf, add a widget to display titles that are in your catalog or install a LT Search box on your blog.

So why not join the ranks and create your own library online. With over 65,000 registered (BTW: LibraryThing also has group forum for librarian users) and over 4.7 million cataloged books, you're bound to discover something new.

A recent development for LibraryThing is LibraryThing for Libraries. This adds some of the Web 2.0 aspects of LibraryThing to the library catalog – it brings in LibraryThing’s users’ tags (edited to exclude things like beach read), word clouds, ratings & reviews. Danbury Public Library was the first libraries to use LibraryThing for Libraries.

Discovery Resources:

Discovery Exercise:

1. Take a look around LibraryThing and create an account.

2. Add a least 5 books to your library.

3. Blog about your findings and be sure to link to your LibraryThing catalog.

Continue to Week 5, Thing 12

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Week 5, Thing 10

#10 Play around with Image Generators

Generators? No, not those gas powered back-up things. These generators allow you to easily manipulate image and graphics to create fun images like those shown here (and which you've seen in earlier posts too).

For this discovery exercise, just have fun. Find a few fun image or text generators to play around with and write a post in your blog about one of your favorites and display the result. Often adding the image you mocked up to your blog is as simple as copying and pasting code that the page provides. If not, you may just need to right click on the image and then save it to your hard drive before using Blogger’s image button to add it to your post (which is what I did for this post). If you’re having difficulty getting your image added to a post in your blog, ask a co-worker for help. In looking at several staff blogs, it’s easy to see that we have lots of people in the system who have figured out how easy it is to add images to their blogs.
Discovery Resources:
  • The Generator Blog (this has tons of generators, scroll through the list on the left side)
  • Letter James (this has some generators in things like e-Cards and it is mainly free)
  • FD Toys (this is the same as the Flickr mashups from Week 3)
  • Wordle (this takes text from a link and makes an image – thanks to Nikki for suggesting this one earlier)

Also try searching for online generators, text generators or image generators!

Discovery Exercise:

1. Play around with some image generators and find one that you like.

2. Post the result of your discovery process in your blog. Note: Be sure to include a link to the image generator itself, so other participants can discover it too.

So take some time and have fun with this exercise. And remember to be tasteful too!

* Images created with Birthday Cake and Classic Car Grill Sign found on The Generator Blog

Continue to Week 5, Thing 11

Monday, September 22, 2008

Week 4, Thing 9

#9 Finding Feeds

Now that you have a newsreader (your Bloglines account), you can begin adding other newsfeeds that interest you. There are several ways you can locate newsfeeds:

  • When visiting your favorite websites -- look for news feed icons that indicate the website provides it. Often a feed icon will be displayed somewhere in the navigation bar of the site. (Here's an image that contains a sampling of several feed icons).
  • Use Blogline's Search tool - Bloglines search tool lets you search for news feeds in addition to posts, citations and the web. Use the Search for Feeds option to locate RSS feeds you might be interested in.

Other Search tools that can help you find feeds:

  • - This search tool allows you to locate recent newsfeed items based upon keyword or phrase searching. The tool focuses specifically on news and media outlet RSS feeds for information, not weblogs.
  • - Syndic8 is an open directory of RSS feeds that contains thousands of RSS feeds that users have submitted.
  • Technorati - Technorati is a popular blog finding tool that lets you search for blogs. Since RSS feeds are inherent to all blogging tools, Technorati Blog Search can help you find RSS feeds for topic specific blogs you may be interested in. Additional Resource: Technorati Tutorial on finding and adding your blog

Discovery Exercise:
Explore some of the search tools noted above that can help you locate some news feeds.

Create a blog post about your experience. Don't know what to blog about? Here some questions to think about ...

Which method of finding feeds did you find easiest to use?
Which Search tool was the easiest for you?
Which was more confusing?
What kind of useful feeds did you find in your travels?
Or what kind of unusual ones did you find?
What other tools or ways did you find to locate newsfeeds?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Week 4, Thing 8

#8 Make life "really simple" with RSS & a newsreader

You’ve heard of RSS? You’ve seen those small funny tags on websites? You’ve heard co-workers and acquaintances swear by it, but still have no idea what RSS is? That’s okay. According to a 2006 survey you’re still in the majority. Now if you Google RSS Feeds you will get over 756,000,000 hits. In the information world, RSS has not only revolutionized the way news, media and content creators share information, but it has also changed the way everyday users are consuming information.

RSS, according to one definition, stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is a file format for delivering regularly updated information over the web. You can check out a Wikipedia article or there is website Some of you may also have taken Michael Sauers’s (from the Nebraska Library Commission) workshops on RSS feeds. The NLC has some additional information on RSS with links to more pages explaining this tool.

Have you ever wondered how would you keep up with a blog? Let’s skip the question of why you would – but if you were interested in a blog or a website that was updated at various intervals, you would have to visit every day or every few days, just to keep up! Think about the websites and news information sources you visit every day. It takes time to visit those sites and scour the ad-filled and image-heavy pages for just the text you want to read, doesn’t it? Now imagine if you could visit all those information sources and web pages in just one place and all at the same time … without being bombarded with advertisingwithout having to search for new information on the page you’d already seen or read beforeand without having to consume a lot of time visiting each site individually. Would that be valuable to you? Well, it’s available now through a newsreader and RSS.

This week’s discovery exercises focus on learning about RSS news feeds and setting up a Bloglines account (a free online newsreader) for yourself to bring your feeds together. If you prefer you can set up an account with Google Reader or Newsgator but the information provided here is for setting up a Bloglines account. You can always follow directions on the other sites if you prefer. If you want one less username/password combo to remember Google Reader as you can use the same combo that you used to set up your blog.

Discovery Resources:
  • Feed Me: A gentle introduction to Internet feeds - a tutorial from Palinet, a library cooperative. Some information may have changed since this tutorial was created.
  • Using Bloglines Tutorial (how to keep up with dozens of blogs everyday) – This online tutorial walks you through how to setup a Bloglines account and add newsfeeds. Follow Steps 1 to 3 to set up your Bloglines account. (Steps 4 – 9 are optional and cover how to subscribe to different types of feeds (podcasts, Flickr albums, etc.)). Again, some information may have changed since this blog post/tutorial was created.
  • RSS in Plain English: A simple and user friendly overview of RSS created by Commoncraft Video on Youtube.
  • Adding RSS Feeds to Bloglines - A short YouTube video created by Helene Blowers showing how to add feeds in Bloglines.
  • Additional Bloglines news feed subscription information (screenshot image)
  • Your co-workers - tap into their knowledge or work through your discovery process together. Several OPL staff have already attended Michael Sauer’s workshops on RSS as noted earlier - seek them out and ask them to show what they know.

    Discovery Exercise:

1. Follow the discovery resources above to learn more about RSS and newsreaders.

2. Create a free online Bloglines account for yourself and subscribe to at least 10 feeds to your reader. See Using Bloglines Tutorial steps 1-3 for instructions.

Try adding a few other types of feeds from various library related or other sources (you may like to select a couple from the list below)


  • Subscribe to several of your co-workers' feeds. This is as easy as typing the blog URL into the subscribe field in Bloglines. Or go to your friends' blogs, click on the 'subscribe' or 'atom' button at the bottom of the page. Try it, it's easy!
  • You can subscribe to blogs in Blogger. Sign in to your Blogger account – this will take you to your dashboard or click on your profile on your blog – scroll down and see the reading list? Here you can add the blogs of your co-workers. Open up O! What a Geek in a separate screen and choose which blogs you want to follow (you can also hide your reading list from others if you wish).

3. Create a post in your blog about this exercise.

Don’t know what to blog about? Think about these questions:

  • What do you like about RSS and newsreaders?
  • How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your work or personal life?
  • How can libraries use RSS or take advantage of this new technology?

PS: Once you tackle this discovery exercise, you've tackled the most difficult one of the whole 23. :)

Continue on to week 4, thing 9

O What a Geek Wordle (Week 5, Thing 10)

O What a Geek Wordle done with the O What a Geek Blog.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Week 3 Technology

# 7 Blog about technology
“Library 2.0…it’s not primarily about machines and software: it’s about using the best tools and ideas to provide the best possible service to our users”
[from a presentation by Marylaine Block for the British Columbia Library Association, April 19, 2007]

The Learning 2.0 program is all about teaching you how to use web 2.0 tools, and some of these tools you may find useful to help deliver services in the library.

For Exercise #7, simply blog about anything technology related.Yes, it can be anything that relates to technology! You just need to share a few thoughts.

Perhaps you might like to talk about 'Creating Content' , or a technology you now rely on to perform everyday tasks.Try for at least 100-150 words.

We have all come along way using technology in a very short time. Can you remember learning to use a computer and a mouse (!!!), and having to send an email instead of faxing a memo? Imagine now having to cope without these technologies. Think about what happens when the Internet goes down .

You can also take a look at your co-workers blogs – Look at the Geek Blogs on the right side of the O! What a Geek Blog. See what others are experimenting with and writing about. Try making a comment on someone's blog.

Week 3 More Flickr

#6 More Flickr fun
Like many web 2.0 sites, Flickr has encouraged other people to build their own online applications using images found on the site.Through the use of APIs (application programming interfaces), many people have created third party tools and mashups* that use Flickr images.Here is just a sampling of a few …

  • Mappr - allows you to take Flickr images and paste them on a map
  • Flickr Color Pickr - lets you find public photos in Flickr that match a specific color.
  • Montagr – create a photo mosaic from photos found on Flickr.

Discover more mashups, web apps, and Flickr tools. An interesting site showcasing mashups is the Mash Up Awards .

Discovery Exercise:

Your discovery exercises for this “thing” are to:

  1. Explore some of the fun Flickr mashups and 3rd party tools that are out there.
  2. Create a blog post about one that intrigues you.
  • Suggested tools to use are FD ToysTrading Card Maker.
  • And there’s a ton of librarians out there that have created their own Librarian Trading Card.
  • So have some fun discovering and exploring some neat little apps.And if you're up to the challenge while you’re at it, why not create a trading card of your own. :)

* Mashup Note: Wikipedia offers some great articles that explain mashups. Basically they are hybrid web applications that take features from one application (like Flickr) and mash it up with another (like a map). In this example, you get Mappr (

Continue on to Week 3, Thing 7

The image above was created by txt2pics

Week 3 Flickr

#5 Discovering Flckr
Photo sharing websites have been around since the 90s, but it took a small startup site called Flickr to catapult the idea of “sharing” into a full blown online community. Within the past couple of years, Flickr has become the fastest growing photo sharing site on the web and is known as one of the first websites to use keyword “tags” to create associations and connections between photos and users of the site.For this discovery exercise, you are asked to take a good look at Flickr and discover what this site has to offer. Find out how tags work, what groups are, and all the neat things that people and other libraries are using Flickr for.

So go ahead, explore the site and have some Flickr photo fun. If you want to learn more you can check out the Wikipedia entry on Flickr & and if you're interested in looking at some photo hosting sites, see this Wired story (note, some links in the Wired article do not work anymore).

Discovery Resources:

Discovery Exercise:

In this discovery exercise, you have two options…

1 . Take a good look around Flickr and discover an interesting image that you want to blog about. Be sure to include either a link to the image or, if you create a Flickr account, you can use Flickr's blogging tool to add the image in your post.


2. If you have access to a digital camera you might like to upload a picture to Flickr.
i) To upload a photo, first save your photo to your computer (or USB).
ii) Go to the flickr website at
iii) Sign in
iv) Click on upload photos.
v) Click on browse and locate where you have saved your photo (you can upload more than one photo at once).
vi) You can add tags describing your photo at the bottom of the page. Tag at least one of the images “Owhatageek” and mark it public.
vii) Click upload to complete the process.
viii) Then create a post in your blog about your photo and experience. Be sure to include the image in your post. Once you have a Flickr account, you have two options for doing this: through Flickr's blogging tool or using Blogger's photo upload feature.

For more exploration:

PS: A quick word about photo posting etiquette
When posting identifiable photos of other people (especially minors) is it advisable to get the person's permission before posting their photo in a publicly accessible place like Flickr.

Never upload pictures that weren't taken by you (unless you have the photographer's consent) and always give credit when you include photos taken by someone else in your blog.

Don't forget to label this post on your blog #5 Flickr and talk about what you have learned doing this activity.

Continue on to Week 3, thing 6

The web 2.0 button at the top comes from txt2pics

Friday, September 5, 2008

Week 2

#3 Get blogging in 3 steps

Now that you’ve done some exploring in Learning 2.0 and understand how this program will work, it’s time to setup your very own personal blog to begin recording your thoughts, discoveries and exercises in. For this program, it is recommended that you use Blogger*, a popular free online blog hosting service that is extremely easy to use.

Creating a blog using Blogger takes just three steps:

  1. Create an account (view screenshot)
  2. Name your blog (view screenshot)
  3. Select your template. (view screenshot)

Once you’ve created your blog here are two important things to know:

  • To add posts: The maintenance interface that you will use to add posts, edit or change the step-up your blog is accessed online at Be sure to write down your login and password.
  • To view your blog: Your blog address is http://(xxxx), (xxxx)=the unique identifier you entered in Step 2. Be sure to also write down your blog address.

If you run into problems or would like more information about blogs and using Blogger here are some discovery resources you can use:

OK -- Now, it’s your turn...

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Setup a blog for yourself through Blogger. Note: If you already have a blog, please consider setting up a new one just for the Learning 2.0 program. The process is even easier if you already have a blog.
  2. Add a test post or two. Note: Use one of your test posts to create an entry about what lifelong learning means to you and what you expect to get from this program.
  3. Have fun!!!!

IMPORTANT NOTE: How you choose to identify yourself on your blog is your choice. You can blog under a screen name, anonymously, or as yourself. However, in order to qualify for the prizes and CE Credit you’ll have to let at least the O! What a Geek team know who you are.

* Use of Blogger is only a recommendation. If there is another blog hosting site that you are more comfortable with, please feel free to use it.

A couple of useful Tips!

  • You can use any email address to set up a Blog in Blogger.It is not necessary to set up a Gmail account to create a Blog. You can use your staff email, even if you have a Gmail account.
  • Write down the details from your 'Create Account' or print out the page.This may help you to remember your login and password.

#4 Register your Blog with the O! What a Geek Team

When registering your Blog:

  • Cut and paste the url (address), of the blog YOU have created (this can be found in the address bar on the page from which you are viewing your blog), into an email message to the O! What a Geek Team
  • As you address each exercise please make this the title of your post. eg. #4 Register your Blog. Don't forget to talk about what you did in Week 1 so we can credit you for all 4 things so far!

  • Once you have registered your Blog it will be listed on Geek Blogs. Check out other Geek Blogs as to see what others are doing, gain inspiration and provide support via the comments section in the individual blogs.

Tracking your progress

First, you’ll need to register your blog after you create it in Week 2 for Things 3 & 4. (By the end of week 2 you'll have done 4 things with only 19 left to go!)

Second, you need to email the O! What a Geek Team with your name, the name and URL of your blog.

Once you start your blog you'll write a post at least each week covering the things learned that week (if you'd rather write a post for each thing that is okay too). A post should be at least 100 words. It should be more than: I completed this assignment. Try to put some thought into it. Did you like the things? What did you discover? Did you learn anything new? Was it FUN? And say why or why not. These are just ideas to get you started.

Your blog will have an RSS feed and the Think Tank O! What a Geek Team will be subscribed to your blog (so you know someone is reading) and we'll check off your progress

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

CE Credits

As an added bonus, staff members who complete all 23 things will earn 15 (fifteen) CE credit hours through the Nebraska Library Commission.

And what is even better, you have to do nothing more. Once you're registered, we'll be keep track of your progress. So we'll email Laura Johnson at the Commission to let her know who gets the credits. How is that for easy?

So if having fun, learning some new things and winning a prize aren't enough incentive for you -- how about earning those CE credits?

There will be no partial credits awarded. Credit will only be awarded if you complete all 23 things.