Sunday, October 23, 2005

Digital libraries and the public

On Monday we had a formal "unveiling" of our digital project, which documents local history. We invited the media and anyone interested from the community. The mayor of Terre Haute spoke about the project, as did the president of the university, the dean of the library, and a guest from the Indiana Humanities Council. One of the advantages of being in a smaller town is that the mayor actually has the time to support projects like ours. We had a good turnout (85 people), and two local news stations and local newspapers covered the event. We were featured in the 6:00 news and the morning news for both news stations, and the local paper wrote and article on the project here. This article was the featured article on the front page of the paper the next morning.

Following the announcement of the project, it will be interesting to see how much interest our project draws. The website had many more hits than normal the day of the newspaper article, but by Friday levels had dropped off. However, if we were able to capture the interest of people who can truly benefit from the project, the effort will be worthwhile.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Training sessions

This week I taught my first training session. I was training our project partners on our metadata fields (based on Dublin Core), and on features of the new version of ContentDM. I had lots of levels of experience in the class, from librarians to volunteers, people familiar with the previous version of ContentDM and people who had never used it, and people unfamiliar with PCs all the way to tech-savy web designers. Even with all of these levels, there were only about 10 people in the class. I think the session went well. At least no one fell asleep. I’m looking forward to getting more experience with this type of training and becoming more comfortable explaining concepts to a class. Until this class, I had never talked in front of a group of people for more than 20 minutes. And previously my presentations had all been prepared presentations, while a training session needs to be more spontaneous. In my “previous life,” as a musician, I performed many recitals, and I think that the skills I developed doing this translate nicely into my new profession. Even though I’m not used to talking to a group for very long, I am used to standing in front of an audience and keeping their attention for an entire recital. However, I was always intimidated by the thought of speaking to my audience.

For one of my job interviews this year, I had to give a presentation on what makes a great trainer. Unfortunately at that time I didn’t have any experience with training, and the presentation I put together was purely academic. However, it was a good reason to spend time thinking about this subject. I feel that library school didn’t prepare me for this area. I never had to give a presentation longer than 10 minutes in library school, while in the “real world” librarians must give presentations and present training sessions on a regular basis. I’m looking forward to developing this skill and becoming more comfortable with public speaking.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Digital divide

When I was working at Harvard, the focus of the digital programs was broad subjects, like Latin American pamphlets, women working, and immigration. When I moved to ISU, I was glad to see that their focus was on local history, and they were happy to let the larger institutions handle the big subjects. One of the benefits of my job is traveling to small local libraries, historical societies, and museums, introducing them to our project, and asking them to join. Since I started in this position (not quite 3 months), I've visited four small public libraries, a small academic library, two historical societies, a museum, and an archive. What I've noticed most is that these institutions are struggling to get their daily tasks done, and many times a digital project isn't even in the scope of their budget and resources. However, these institutions have been around as long as ours (if not longer), and they have many historical documents and treasures that would benefit from inclusion in a digital program. Although we've been able to offer the local cultural institutions a place in our project, there are lots and lots of other small cultural institutions that will never be able to initiate a digital program. As digital programs become more complex, is it possible to help our neighbors so that they don't fall behind? As small towns in America slowly fade away, it is important to preserve and document their history.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Streaming media

I've spent hours and hours this week creating a multi media presentation. I thought it should be easy to syncronize a powerpoint presentation to an audio track, but it was more difficult than I thought. The most difficult part was creating and editing an audio file appropriate to import into the presentation. My institution uses Macromedia Breeze which allowed me to syncronize the audio track with the slides, and convert the presentation into flash.

Here's the final result. It's a history of the Indiana State University Libary.

I noticed a LITA blog entry about the same topic (streaming media). Google and Yahoo have started to index streaming media (video) and Truveo has already spent some time on it. Our project at work includes some streaming video, and I hope that we can include more.