tom's blog

Why I just published a useless book.

I just used Kindle Direct Publishing to learn the steps so I could offer this as a library program, basically:

1. create document in Word
2. add chapter headings and format each chapter with an appropriate heading style
3. have Word build the table of contents based on chapters
4. save as "web page, filtered"
5. create account at Amazon
6. complete KDP account info, including W-9, bank routing and account number, for royalty payments
7. add book, enter book metadata, upload book, create cover, set price and sales countries
8. publish book

The book is called One Million Bananas, and it's just the word banana over and over 1,000,000 times. Which in hindsight is just way too many bananas. But now I can teach others, and that's the real purpose. Unless you buy a copy, or a thousand, then we'll see how I feel.

A Simple QR Code Project for your library

If your library lends eBooks through Overdrive, then this is a simple project you can set up in about a day.

Take a look at this page,

Classic eBooks to Download

(Not just for) Homework Downloads

What if you need to read a book for school, but all the copies are checked out? If it's a "classic work of literature" (meaning "old") book and you have your smart phone, you may be able to download it and read it on your phone right now. The black and white images below are special codes, called QR codes, that link to eBooks you can read on your phone or tablet computer.

But you'll need a few things to use the codes: your phone, the Overdrive Media Console software and a QR code reader.

If you don't already have it, you can download the Overdrive Media Console from here: Overdrive Media Console. Install it on the phone or portable device you'll use to read the eBook.

If you don't have a QR Code reader on your phone, you can download one from the iTunes App Store, Android Market, Windows Marketplace or BlackBerry App World depending on your phone.

Once you install the code reader, you can open the app and use your phone's camera to scan the code for the book you want. And when the book downloads, it will be yours to keep, for free! -- Read More

Facebook Privacy Movie

so I just read the Lifehacker story, "Facebook Is Tracking Your Every Move on the Web; Here’s How to Stop It" and came up with this video. Please laugh.

Facebook Privacy Movie by: tom

Results from the Book a Librarian Survey

Thanks to those who completed the book-a-librarian survey. It wasn't official or anything and didn't affect my job or earn me any financial compensation.

Most of the results appear in this very large image. You'll need to use the zoom feature. And the colors sure are pretty.

But depending on how one answered the questions, a few other questions appeared. So if you look at the results and see that a few questions had many fewer responses, that's because of the branching.

There are 20 sets of responses.

There were also place for comments. And again, depending on previous answers, some of those questions appeared to fewer participants.

In response to Please describe the experience (of participating in a book-a-librarian service), these comments were offered:

It is very convenient and helpful

Our students tell us ahead of time what their project is, so one can prepare for appointment. It saves time for everyone.

We wind up doing a lot of technology coaching, particularly with regards to the library's downloadable collections and transferring items to the patron's gadgets. We have also gotten a handful of interesting reference questions.

Mostly we help patron one-on-one with computer training. It is easier than trying to set up a class where everyone has different agendas for what they want to learn. -- Read More

Please take this survey on micro-instruction in libraries

the survey is finished; thanks for participating.


This is a survey on "book-a-librarian" programs in libraries.
As the name says, this is an appointment based service with a librarian or library associate for personal assistance for a fixed, short time period.

Petition for librarian toy.

This is a petition to request that the Disney Store and The Walt Disney Company create a Vinylmation figure in the Vinylmation Occupations Series that represents Librarians.

Although the series includes a Teacher figure that is designed with an image of books, the figure has an apple for a head. This is not an acceptable substitute for a Librarian figure as librarians rarely receive apples from students.

And a Librarian Vinylmation figure would have glasses. And Mickey's ears would be the perfect place for her curly librarian "hair buns." She could look a little like Zombie School Girl from Urban 7 Series. Although her skin shouldn't be so blue, even if she spends so little time in the sun; pale, maybe, but not blue. But don't forget those hair buns.

What is Vinylmation? It's just a toy. That people collect. They're pretty popular.

see Zombie School Girl figure on this page for reference

January 25, 2011 is Florida Library Snapshot Day

In Florida, we are ready for our own Snapshot Day. Other states have participated and now it's our turn.

"In 2009, almost 89 MILLION people visited Florida's public libraries compared to just over 67 million visits to the major theme parks."

The Florida Library Association is asking all Florida Libraries to collect usage statistics and take photos of what they do on January 25, 2011 (or any day during that week).
How many customers checked out books?
How many students worked on a paper?
What events occurred that day?

Photos will show on Flickr at floridalibrarysnapshotday. Don't be jealous if you see a lot of people in the photos wearing shorts in January.

Libraries + RFID + Augmented Reality = ?

Okay, so Apple has a patent on blah-dee-blah and the next-gen-iProducts will have an RFID chip onboard, but what could this mean for libraries?

I'm not familiar with what you can do with RFID, but I was wondering if there would be an app that would be called a Dewey Killer.

I mean, if you could find the books with your phone, why would you need to catalog the books? If each thing could broadcast its location, then is there any need for authority? The books could be anywhere and still be findable.

So you hold your phone up in the library and your reality app shows you the floorplan.
Some other app filled with ISBNs or titles accesses the catalog.
Then what?
Is there a database of RFID transponder signals? What is the range of the phone's antenna?
Would the phone scan the shelves of books and pinpoint the location of the title? Assuming anyone still wants printed books in 2011.

Maybe you know the answer:
Libraries + RFID + Augmented Reality = ?

Because I'm hoping it's multiple choice so I can pick "C." When in doubt, I always pick C.

Where is our TV show?

I don't watch a lot of TV. Or maybe I should say that I don't watch a lot of non-Jersey-Shore-based TV.

But sometimes while I'm going round the globe of 400 available channels I see a bit of the reality show, Pawn Stars. And apart from being initially slightly disappointed at the premise because I'd misread the title, I was surprised by much research the guys do looking up the values of old coins and stuff.

So I went to and sent them a suggestion to create a reality show about librarians. Yeah, I know that you can't have a crew filming everyone in the public library who might feel their privacy is being invaded, but maybe they can hire a few librarians and open a "library" in a strip mall and see what happens.... a strip mall with a bar/lounge and a bail bondsman and a pain management clinic. I'd watch that.

You know, since I already work there. So what's a good title?

Lying Librarians and Honest Journalism.

The south Florida paper, the Sun Sentinel has a problem with public libraries.

"Some day in the future, boys and girls might read on their electronic devices about cavernous, well-air-conditioned, book-loaning storehouses from the past. They were called libraries.
Book reading devices such as the handheld iPad, the Amazon Kindle, or even a computer laptop, allow readers to download free library books without ever setting foot in a library."

So here is a newspaper, itself an industry on the brink of extinction, bitterly distracting its few final readers from that fact by attacking the local libraries as dinosaurs. Libraries, I should say, account for many of the print editions that the newspaper is still able to sell. Our library probably receives 40 copies of the daily Sun Sentinel. And yet you need to go down 27 paragraphs to get to this:

"The past five years in Palm Beach County have seen staggering growth: Circulation is up 36 percent, visitors 50 percent, and computer users 83 percent, according to the system's statistics."

You can almost hear the "wink, wink" that piggybacks onto the words, "according to the system's statistics," like libraries are making this stuff up. Thanks for the support.

Really, what does it cost to read an ebook, I mean a bestseller?

The Kindle is a minimum $139, but for that price you need a place with wifi to download a book. Add 3G for another $50 to truly be independent. -- Read More

Is this what a librarian does?

Is this a positive or negative library transaction? Does something like this spread goodwill or is it just wasting time? What do you think the patron/customer thought about it?

Here is a recent chat transcript. Names have been changed, etc...

Question: How are you doing today?

[You have been connected to Tom.]
Tom: Hello, welcome to the library. I am Tom and I will be assisting you today. Please wait a moment while I consider your question...

Tom: ...after considering your question, I believe that I am okay.

Tom: do you have a reference question I can help with?

Patron: we had to do this for an assignment

Patron: ask you a question, lol

Patron: just thought id see how your day was going

Tom: what if I told you that I was a sophisticated AI program designed to answer these questions?

Patron: Well im pretty sure an AI wouldnt know how to respond to that question

Tom: I said I was sophisticated.

Patron: Touché

Patron: well thanks tom, have a good one = )

Tom: I hope your session went as well as you expected. thanks for stopping by

How do you answer questions like these non-reference questions? Do men and women answer these potentially personal questions differently? I'll admit, I wasn't sure where this might go when it started.

I like to think of it as putting the "fun" back in libraryfunship. (I can't believe I really typed that. Pretend you didn't see that. And I was doing so well up to this point.)

How many browsers?

I'm learning about facilitating training in an online classroom and right now I need to test some tools in the Adobe Connect training room.. so I logged in with Internet Explorer as the trainer (host), and since I don't have a second computer available right now, I signed in as a student with Firefox on the same computer. But now I need a third "person" in the room so I installed Opera and signed into the room.

I did this mainly so I can see that I clearly have 3 different "people" (IE, Firefox, Opera) to work with in the same classroom.

I know lots of people use 2 browsers, but do you regularly use 3? 4? more? ...I guess if you are the webmaster, you probably run a few to test your site...

QR Codes in Practice

I just noticed that the LISWire features this story:
QR Codes and More Featured in Reference Renaissance 2010 Program. We just started using a QR Code on our monthly computer class calendar.

I don't know everything about them, like just how small a QR Code can be and still function, but the one I have works fine.

The code is on the back of our monthly computer class calendar where the class descriptions reside, so if you get the image in your camera, the application should take you to our web page for all of our computer training throughout our library system. I think it's pretty cool.

I'm waiting for a confused patron to ask me what "those dots are for" and if he connects them, will he see a picture of a sailboat.

Here is what the code looks like on the document: link.

Not recommended: The Girl who something something Fire.

I plodded patiently through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because I wanted to give a dead man an even break. But now I'm in the first third of the second part of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, and that is enough.

I suspected during The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that in spite of Larsson's Men Who Hate Women theme, that the novel was little more than a middle-aged man's wet dream. Our hero, Mikael Blomkvist, seems to sleep with every woman he meets. Because Larsson's women are in control of their bodies and their bodies can't resist 40-somethingish Blomkvist.

The author has created women who are independent, yet compelled to jump into bed with our protagonist because sex with him is "uncomplicated."

I stopped reading when a couple of women slept together and the narrator had to explain it to us. Why does the narrator need to explain why two women are in bed? They like each other. There's no reason to say, "Chloe had her first lesbian experience when she was eighteen and never looked back or regretted not being with a man." There is only one reason to say that, well two, one is to show your readers that you, the author, are cool with lesbians, that you understand them, that you are a hip dude; and the other, is to justify why a woman wouldn't fall right into bed with your hero, Blomkvist. -- Read More

new Facebook group: Library Layoffs

Library Layoffs on Facebook:
"To show support for those laid off or to post your story or to network and find where the jobs are right now."

I'm currently the sole member, so I'm a little lonely. Please join. I made a mix tape if you want to hear some music when you get there. You like Styx?

No, seriously, I don't know if there's a need for this, but we're seeing layoffs in nearby cities and counties, so I made the group. But groups are only as good as the people who join, so think about it. Thanks.

How many times will you replace items that get ripped off?

We let patrons use headphones and we provide privacy screens and sometimes these things go missing. We also let the patrons use scissors, staplers, calculators, and magnifiers, and they sometimes *forget* to return them.

Maybe they think these things are Free. Maybe because we don't put price tags on these things, they think they can take them home. Like the books and DVDs that they forget to check out on their library cards.

Are there things, conveniences, that you don't provide because they get stolen? Are there things you used to give out, but don't anymore because you're tired of replacing them?

We give away our pencils, staples, tape, paper clips, and we expect to replace these, but we don't expect to lose the pencil cups, staplers, tape dispensers or paper clip holders.

Maybe we should put prices on everything. Not that this would deter theft, but it might make the librarians fight to get the calculator back if it had a $2.00 sticker on it.

How to get your name in the paper.

First. Be clever. But more importantly, be clever in a way that the reporter wants. How do you know what she wants? You don't. So be clever, and lucky, and maybe you'll get your name in the paper.

Back in May, I saw that USA Today had a request for story ideas called "status envy" on how people can post more interesting items on their Facebook and Twitter pages. I emailed this:

When you leave people out of the loop by posting, "now that's what I'm talking about" without letting us know what the hell you're talking about.
Or using microblog slang that I don't understand; or just posting, "watching House." Although "watching White House" might be interesting; or "watching Obama in White House from crawlspace in ceiling" would be really interesting.

and later that day, I had this message from their reporter:

Hello, thanks for message! I'm the reporter working on the Status Envy story and would like to use some of this - can I call you to confirm it's from you and get your details (age, occupation, town you live in, etc.)? If so, please call or email me your contact number.
Thanks much!

I didn't believe she was an actual reporter; but phone calls are cheap, so I called her back. Now, here comes the interesting part:

She asked me how old I was, and when I told her just how ancient, she followed with, "Oh, then you're new to all this social networking stuff?" -- Read More

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