Princeton Public Library 2 – Study Tour 2007

After a beautiful lunch of soup and salad, it was back to talking with Janie Hermann, one of the Library Garden bloggers, who is also presenting at CIL 2007. Princeton Library runs a Databytes program, where twice a month, a librarian gives a session on a technology topic. That day, Romina – who coordinated my program, did a comparison between Wikipedia and Britannica, with about a dozen people in attendance. The Databytes program came out of their staff training program. Each librarian had to become expert in one of their database and then train staff in it. After a few months, it was rotated around. The training was done in their Technology Center and they used to get the public wandering in, so they ended up making it available to all. They get about half staff and half public, with the benefit of having staff expertise in the room to help the public when needed.

Princeton is using Flickr for library photos but is careful with what they upload as they don’t have permissions from the public. This is an area which Janie says has generated much discussion in library circles, but no resolution at this stage. Their website design was outsourced and is also hosted externally, although they are hoping to bring it back in house with only the design being outsourced in future.

Their Booklovers Wwiki, using pbwiki will not be repeated, as they will be using features from their Innovative ILS. They used pbwiki as they did not have not the time or the money to use Media Wiki on their own server, which was their preferred option. They experienced some difficulties with pbwiki at the time, as it needed basic coding, not having the WYSIWIG interface that it has now. As a lead up, they did Databytes sessions on wikis and the Book Lovers Wiki. Even with this, most participants in the program emailed their reviews in to the library, where teen volunteers coded and uploaded them. It also lacked relational linking, so they could only post under either author, title, category etc. However, Janie said it was a great experiment which helped develop staff awareness and skills and that will look at using wikis for their staff handbook and reference procedures using their own server and Media Wiki. They are also considering doing a public technology help wiki.

I then spoke with Evan Kimple about their podcasting. They are using a laptop, a standard USB mike and free online service Audacity to create the podcasts and then are using archive.org to host them online. Evan showed me what was involved and it is very straightforward. They are doing podcasts of poets reading their original works and of authors reading selections from their works. They have the blog for these on a hosted Word Press blog, which is where the MP3s are placed and can be subscribed to. They are also podcasting special events, like their upcoming Teen Book Bash. Eventually they would love to podcast their guest speakers, but at the moment, they are time poor and there is also the issue of permissions.

Bob Keith, who is just about to graduate as a MLS, took me through some more techie stuff, in particular how he set up the Library’s OPAC computers so that they can only access the catalogue and related content, not the internet in general. He is using Firefox’s Kiosk mode with a few other enhancements to get the PCs just the way he wants them. As we are having a similar issue now with our new ILS in place at MPOW, it is a solution that I think we can use and he was kind enough to give me all the documentation and files to do so.

To finish, I had the honour of meeting with Library Director and ALA President Leslie Burger, who was generous in allowing me to take up both her valuable time and that of her staff. To Leslie and the staff at Princeton Library, many thanks for sharing your time, your expertise and your insights, they have all been very much appreciated.

Evan