Showing posts from May, 2008

What To Do When You Know You Should Know Something But You Don't

As reference librarians, we are expected by the public to be know it alls. Many patrons ask me questions and they seem surprised when I consult a resource to answer their question. I have also fielded questions over the phone where the patron has said, "If you don't know it off the top of your head, don't bother looking it up--I'm in a hurry." Sometimes this confidence can be a refreshing moment in a day of lost books, damaged books, disputed fines, rowdy patrons, and long lines. At other times, however, it can be a tad disconcerting because sometimes, we haven't got a clue.

Now, the problem isn't always that we don't know anything. Sometimes, the patron is mumbling (or we're hard of hearing.) Sometimes, the patron was sleeping:
"Do you have Raven in the World, by Aldiss Hussey?"
"Do you mean Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley?"

Sometimes, we're wrestling with inadequate technology, like a million dollar …

Portable Apps Experiment in Limbo

My little experiment with the portable apps on a stick didn't work so well in the end. Not only does the network interfere with my ScribeFire application, it also resets the bookmarks, toolbars, and extensions in Firefox when I switch computers. I will need to use a laptop if I want access to my favorite applications, and I want to keep my data with me.

ScribeFire Update

I think that I have ScribeFire working-but it only works at home. Apparently, I can't get it through the network at work. Bummer.

Dealing With Network Lockdown Issues

As many of you know, MPOW has a very active filtering system. They haven't blocked sites totally, but trying to use services like IM, Google services and anything else that's AJAXy can be a real pain in the butt. I find myself instructing patrons and saying things like, "on a regular computer this would work," or, "what you should have seen at this point is...." Needless to say, that gets old. I cannot teach classes where I just show the patrons how to do something--they have to use their imaginations.

Anyway, I'm trying to build a collection of portable apps on a thumb drive that will allow me to show our patrons how to do things without some of the network restrictions on downloads. So far, I have Portable Firefox with The following add-ons: ScribeFire, Zotero, Meebo,, FireShot, a MindMeister shortcut, and the Google Toolbar. I have made my iGoogle page the homepage for this experiment and added gadgets for todo lists, Gmail, Google Reader,…