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Publishing on Demand April 17, 2013

Posted by flutebrarian in Librarianship, Publishing.
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It’s been quite a while since my last post and for good reason. I’ve entered into the world of self-publishing, or, publish-on-demand.

I am president of our local historical society and as such was looking for a way to share some of the history of our community in a way that wouldn’t 1) break our small and meager bank account, or 2) force us to find a dry place to store 1,000+ copies of something that might not sell very well.

So, as I was browsing the help screens at Amazon.com one day, I stumbled onto a related service called CreateSpace.

I had experience in laying out documents, indexing, and editing and fortunately, we have a top-notch graphics layout person on our board. So I found a suitable manuscript in our archives on the reminiscences of someone who grew up in Alliance, Ohio in the late 1800s and the project began.

CreateSpace has a variety of layouts and options available and templates to use in Microsoft Word. I added several photographs from the historical files to enhance the narration. The process of uploading the correct format of PDF (I didn’t even realize there was more than one!) was the biggest challenge but once that occurred, the rest of the process was easy.

I was able to order a proof copy before unleashing it to the public which really helped to see what the final product would look like. Another great feature was being able to order copies directly from CreateSpace for sale by our organization. We added a link to the CreateSpace store on our website and the title also became available through Amazon.com. This alleviated the need for us to mail copies to remote persons (I hate packaging things for the mail).

We had a big launch party and sold almost all our copies at that event. We have been able to order small shipments since then and sell them before ordering more. It was so much fun, I’ve just finished our second book – this time a local history cookbook. I’m waiting the approval of the project even as I type.

Working for Google (without leaving Ohio) December 19, 2010

Posted by flutebrarian in Librarianship, Web Design.
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For the past 17 months, my real job work week has been reduced from 40 to 30 hours due to State budgetary issues. Many viewed it as a hardship but I viewed it as an opportunity and have enjoyed every minute of it. It was like working for Google, or getting a sabbatical.

Employees at Google are encouraged to take 20% of their work week to work on personal projects. This gives the employee the freedom to explore new territories, technologies, and ideas that will ultimately help Google develop new products and keep the employees from burning out.

Academics have also had sabbaticals available to them for these very same reasons.

However, in the public library field, this is unheard of.

So, with the opportunity to have 20% of my work week free for other pursuits, I took advantage of it to hone my web design skills and officially start a side business – Flutebrarian Web Design, LLC.

I took online courses in MySQL, web form design, PHP, web analytics, and more advanced CSS. The MySQL and PHP are still rather shaky, but I have managed to set up a couple of databases and get coding in place to actually make them work over the web. And one is for my day job (Gift and Memorials database)

After 27 years as a professional librarian, it was definitely time for a sabbatical. I return to my 40-hour work week on Jan. 3 with new and expanded tools in my belt. I guess I’ll have to leave the cat at home, though.

Taking My CSS on the Road September 22, 2008

Posted by flutebrarian in Librarianship, Web Design.
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Friday, I had the opportunity to present a program on CSS at the Eastern Great Lakes Innovative Users Group meeting. We get a lot of clues on how to code a document and code “cookbooks” are great for a quick fix.

But how much do we really know about how the cascade really works? How do we troubleshoot the font that appears to shrink on the screen? What kinds of tools are available for determining inheritance features?

These were the kinds of things that I covered in the presentation “CSS: Beyond the Code.” If you are interested in troubleshooting tools that you can use in Firefox, check out Janet Stewart’s presentation that preceded mine called “The Web Developer’s Best Friend: Firefox Extensions.” I’ve also created a page that includes the links from the presentation in case you’re interested.

Things They Never Taught Me in Library School May 7, 2008

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When I attended library school back in the dark ages of the early 1980s, my instructors always told us that there would be lots of things that we would need to do that they would never teach us. Well, I think I’m in the middle of all that these days!

What I did learn was that part of the mission of the public library was to develop collections and preserve local history for future generations. What I didn’t learn was how to scan photographs, documents, and conduct video interviews of prominent local people. Oh yeah, and then there is post production editing and creation of archival tapes and DVDs. Of course, none of these procedures existed then.

We have started identifying persons to be interviewed and over the past several weeks have conducted three interviews with another one scheduled for next week.  That, as it turns out, is the EASY part!

After taping, we load the tape into Pinnacle software for editing – Since these are oral histories, there’s not much to do to the bulk of the interview. What we do need to do is add chapters, titles, transitions in and transitions out. We check for audio levels so that all the speaking is clear and a consistent volume level.

The next part is to feed the data back to mini DV, creating a master archival copy and to create DVD copies for end users. We label the DVD using a Casio disc writer, capture a shot of the person being interviewed from the video, and then place that in a template I’ve created in Photoshop and Publisher for the cover.

But wait! We’re not done yet!

The file now needs to be converted to streaming media so that we can place it on the web. We have a Helio server so Real Media will be created, but Windows Media will probably also be created. Fortunately, Pinnacle can handle all these formats with ease!

Final steps include creating a timeline, indexing, and *gulp* transcribing. Well, two out of three learned in library school will be useful. Transcription skills, anyone?

IUG Day 2 April 29, 2008

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Yeah, I know. What happened to day 1? We’ve jumped from pre-conference to day 2. Well, day 1 was pretty hectic with the opening session (Larry Irving was terrific), poster sessions, and three terrific afternoon sessions, well, for the most part anyway.

After the sessions, we grabbed an early dinner at the hotel and then on to hear Mark Russell in the aptly named Mark Russell Martini Lounge at the hotel. He came for two weeks and stayed for 20 years! In this year of the presidential election, there is certainly plenty of fodder for political satirists. In other words, he was terrific!

The evening was capped off with the annual Innovative dessert reception. They had wonderful cherry and apple cobblers with a big scoop of ice cream on top. On our way to get a drink, we ran into friends from Buffalo who we haven’t seen in probably 15 years or more. It was good to catch up, but we never made it past the corner of the room the whole evening.

So back to day 2.

I started out with an appointment with a Baker & Taylor representative. We have just started using them as our main jobber and I needed to get more info on how their system worked and how to best work it into our workflow. It’s still a little fuzzy, but I think we’re on the right track.

As expected, Bob Duncan’s program “Webpub.def: the Untold Story” was packed. Luckily the room was changed from the postage stamp-sized room it was originally scheduled to be in. I had never heard him speak but have read his postings on the list for years. He was very thorough and led us step by step through the enigma of the dreaded webpub.def file.

I followed this with the program on editing the webPAC Pro example set. One of my goals this year was to be brave enough to face the arduous task of moving to Pro without making my site lose its clarity and branding to match the rest of our web site. After these two programs, and the prospect of release 2007 FINALLY becoming available, I think I’m ready to start tackling this project.

Eeva and Karen approve of the dinner before them

The day ended with our fifth traditional Ethiopian dinner. Karen J. outdid herself again this year by finding a great restaurant called Dukem. Fortunately, she also knows what all the food is on the menu and we are all too happy to let her take control and do the ordering. And it was great!

A Capital Conference Begins April 27, 2008

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Today was the pre-conference day for the 16th annual Innovative Users Group (IUG) meeting in Washington, DC. I chose to attend the afternoon workshop on WebPAC design and must admit, it was a nice review for someone like me who has been creating web sites for nearly a decade, but I really didn’t learn much of anything new. Innovative’s workshops can be extremely informative or a bit of a let down. ‘Nuf said which this one was.

This is also a bittersweet conference since my good friend and colleague Sue McCann is retiring at the end of June and this will be her last IUG. We’ve been through a lot of discussions and sessions together as our libraries seemed to parallel each other over the past 13 years.

Retirement dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill

To celebrate, a few of us took Sue out to Old Ebbitt Grill tonight. The food was excellent and the atmosphere fun and historic. It was established in 1856 and the lobby features real gas lights.

Tomorrow brings the opening session, programs, exhibits, and of course, Innovative’s dessert reception. Yum!

Open-Schmopen February 11, 2008

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There’s been a lot of talk lately on the OPLINTech list regarding OpenSource (OpenOffice) vs. Microsoft (Office 200x). Should we all abandon Microsoft and only offer the “free” OpenOffice to our staff and patrons? Are we doing our patrons a disservice by not offering the industry standard? Are there enough similarities between MS and OO to make it easy to learn one and then transfer those skills to the other?

PC Magazine recently had an article on  “The Best Office Alternatives” which outlined many of these concepts. Statistical facts from the print version of the article (Nov. 26, 2007) were missing from the online version, unfortunately.  If I remember correctly, the percentage of computer users without an office suite on their computers is up from several years ago while the percentage of users using Microsoft Office has decreased.

Is this because MS Office is too expensive? Too many features for the average user so they are relying on built-in programs like WordPad? And what of training issues? Whatever the case, we need to consider OUR users when we decide on the programs and services we offer.

eBay, iPods and Blogging for Beginners January 27, 2008

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Yesterday, we hosted a day of eBay training for beginners. We had never offered anything like this before, and brought in a certified eBay trainer to lead the sessions. We had a large turnout, which alerted me that we had found a definite interest in the community.

Tomorrow, we are offering a program on the basics of iPods, iTunes and music on the Internet. Interest has been high for this program (offered by my husband and for the Mu Phi Epsilon Alliance Alumni Chapter) so hopefully we’ll get a good turnout for this program as well.

I’ve also been working on a hands-on program for Thursday on Blogging for Beginners. I found a good tutorial at Mahalo that will work well with the group. It’s the first time I’ll be teaching a class like this and I’m not familiar with Blogger, so it should be interesting to say the least!

Here’s to surviving the week 🙂

Digging My Roots November 19, 2007

Posted by flutebrarian in Genealogy, Librarianship.
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For the past few days, I have been in Salt Lake City, Utah. The view from the hotel is beautiful with the sun coming up over the somewhat snow-covered mountains to the east. Even though it is almost Thanksgiving, the temperatures beg for a lightweight jacket or sweater – not the earmuffs, gloves, and winter coat that I brought with me! But I’m not complaining.

And of course, what does someone with family research on their mind do in SLC? That’s right – spend hours in the Family History Library.

This magnificent facility was crawling with people. I could tell I was headed in the right direction as I got off the train at Temple Square – I simply followed the little old ladies dragging their small suitcases full of their genealogical research!

Once inside, there  were volunteers and professional genealogists throughout the 5-floor facility to help with every aspect of your search from starting from scratch to finding the right index, to locating the microfilm or book needed to printing out your results. There were no lines to access a computer or a film reader and the printing software worked like a charm. I’m just glad I don’t have to maintain that many computers at my library.

My main goal was to get John/Johann/Johannes/Jean ROLL onto a boat and off of it in America. I *think* I’ve done that. I had previously narrowed the arrival down to the 1830s. “Ooh, not a good time period for finding results,” one of the staff members mentioned. But with a couple of indexes to peruse, I located a family of 12 bound for New York City from Le Havre, France on the ship France. They arrived on 9 July 1832. Looks promising, but we are still cross referencing and checking to verify this is the correct family unit.

Training Adventures September 4, 2007

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Every once in awhile, I get the opportunity to attend training sessions to learn how to do some cool web and/or work related things that others in the profession already know how to do. I relish these opportunities, not just to learn a new skill, but to meet others who are either in my shoes or a couple steps ahead of me.

Last week, I took a short drive from home to a beginner’s session on MySQL. After the four hours, I left still a bit in the dark, but at least got to see what the program is about and how the pieces fit together. More practice is definitely needed to get a firm grasp on the subject.

Today, I arrived in the San Francisco area to attend an intensive 2-day session on load tables – those beastly things that allow you to either streamline your workflow, or totally destroy everything if you’re not careful. Time to take an extra dose of Gingko!

But before the training can begin, it was like the Twilight Zone getting from the airport to the opposite side of the Bay. I used the same shuttle service that I have used for years but this time, my driver reminded me of Jim Ignatowski from Taxi – very unkempt, shirt unbuttoned, hair frizzed out beyond beyond. I wasn’t too sure about getting in the van alone with him, but the ride went off without a hitch and I was delivered to my hotel safe and sound. I guess you can’t judge a driver by his appearance…