Tag Archives: online library catalog

Try One New Thing – Our 1st Anniversary Post

As we finish out June, we are also finishing up the first year of Learning for Life Online. For anyone who’s been reading along since the beginning: thank you. I’m going to work hard to make the second year of LLO as fun and fascinating as the first.

For our 50th post, I’d like to challenge you to choose one of the tools or services we’ve looked this past year and sign up for it or try it out. Pick something that intrigued you but you never got around to it, or something that looked ridiculous and you want to see if you were just missing something. Doesn’t matter how big or small a thing it is – just do it. Review the basics of playing with a new online tool or playing with a new gadget and remember to have fun!

Try One New Thing and play around with it for the month of July. As you try it, comment on this post with your experience or thoughts, and any suggestions you have for using it.

Rather than make you go back through the past year to look for your one new thing, here’s a quick reference list:

It takes time to make a social tool a part of your life, including your life online. Whatever you choose to do, give it to the end of July and then see what you think of it. Let us know here if your opinion has changed, and how.

Thank you all again for following along, and enjoy your One New Thing! See you in July…

Finding Jobs & Careers Online

While we’re on the topic of finding things online, let’s look at some of the better job and career resources out there. From mechanic to teacher to nurse’s aid to architect, there are employment resources and job finding sites for every career.

What Are They?

Job listing/career sites tend to fall into three categories:

  • Job ads sites just have job listings – an online classifieds section.
  • Career resources may have some job listings, but they’re mostly there to help you with the skills of finding a job: writing resumes & cover letters, interviewing, networking and more.
  • Combination sites have lots of job listings and some skill-building resources, especially resume and cover letter tips.

Each type of site is useful, depending on where you are in your career and what your needs are right now.

Job Ads Sites

These online classifieds will give you tons of possible opportunities…and that’s it.

  • Craigslist.org – one of the most well-known places to find local job listings. There’s a special Craigslist for cities around the world, such as boston.craigslist.org. You can also find volunteer opportunities, internships and other non-primary employment listings.
  • Online newspapers – Most major newspapers have an online version and they still have their job classifieds.
  • Simply Hired – a new database of job listings, they also have average salary and job trend information.
  • Indeed.com looks and works like Google search, extremely simple to use and to save search alerts to be sent to your email.
  • USAJobs.gov is the official US government site for Federal jobs and employment information.
  • You can also look for job listings from organizations and associations. LISjobs is a national library job listing site; HCareers (Hospitality Works) covers any hotel or hospitality field, including cruise ships and resorts.
  • Different kinds of careers and fields have their own sites, like CoolWorks.com (“Jobs in Great Places”). Use a search engine to find sites for the jobs you’re looking for.

Combination Sites

Each of these sites has job listings, but they also have many articles on writing resumes and cover letters, interviewing dos and don’ts,

Career Resources

  • LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. It’s one way you can develop the connections you need to get recommendations and find jobs using those personal links.
  • About.com Job Search offers articles and resources for every part of the job search, from listings to acceptance letters.
  • Your local public library has many books, DVDs and online resources available to help you in your job search, and they may offer resume writing and interviewing workshops.
  • One of those resources may be Career Transitions, a career resources database that uses Indeed.com to find job listings as well. If your library has Career Transitions, definitely check out the Interview Simulator, where you answer questions and get feedback about your answers.

For Employers

If you’re not looking to find a new job, but to hire folks into your jobs, nearly every single one of these resources has something for you. Check out the listings sites for tips on getting good applicants using their site, and the career resources sites for thoughts on retaining good employees.

Help & Resources

The Only Constant is Change

We’ll be taking a short break from ebooks this week to talk about one of the skills necessary for living life online: being comfortable with change.

“Nothing but change endures.” Whether we know this quote from Heraclitus or Isaac Asimov, it still rings true…and nowhere more so than online. Everything we’ve seen about online life so far – the flexibility, the social nature, the connection to technology, the possibility for innovation – are things that encourage change, and occasionally require it. Even more than with cars or electronics, the internet makes rapid and continuous change not only possible, but relatively easy to do.

For those of us used to a world made of bricks and mortar, this kind of change can be surprising and uncomfortable. When you visit a store every day, you don’t expect to walk up one morning to a completely different storefront with doors in new places, a new way of ordering, changed packaging, and brand-new (and maybe younger and faster) employees. You walk in the door and realize you don’t know where anything is, don’t know where to find what you want or how to even begin looking for it, and you feel that the staff don’t understand why you’re confused. In these brick and mortar stores, you can usually see the changes as they happen: the scaffolding and construction, the “big change coming” signs, employees saying goodbye to their regulars before they leave.

And yet, that’s precisely what it can feel like to have an online service you use all the time change its website overnight. You wake up one morning and everything you finally have gotten comfortable with has changed….again. It can be frustrating, can make you feel like you don’t know how this stuff works after all, can cause you to throw up your hands and walk away from the machine.

Don’t.

Don’t walk away, and don’t give up.

Take a deep breath, remember that you do know what you’re doing, and go back to basics. In our very first post on Learning for Life Online, we talked about playing with new online tools. These same skills are what will help you now.

  • Read the screen and see if the site has a link to a list or a video about “What’s new!, or maybe a new help section to walk you through the changes.
  • Once you’ve found that list of what’s new, push the button and watch the video or click on the link to the new features list. Then, try out one new thing at a time and see how it works.
  • Take your time and don’t be afraid. Yes, things have changed, but rarely does a website or service change absolutely everything all at once. You’ll recognize what’s familiar from the previous version and can focus on how it works differently now.
  • And a new one: don’t panic. It took you time to learn the old features, and it’ll take some time to learn the new ones, but probably not as much time as you think it will. All those changes will probably make the site easier to use and help you do what you want to do, so give them a chance.

Also, don’t believe the myth that the “younger kids who’ve been doing this forever” are any more comfortable with change than you are. They aren’t, and every time a service they use and have customized to be just the way they want it to be changes, they complain and get frustrated just as much as the rest of us. And then, like the rest of us, they get used to the changes and keep on going.

So, why have we taken time to talk about being comfortable with change this week? Because several major websites/services have announced updates and new features in the past two weeks that will have an effect on millions of people.

Facebook changes a little, then a lot

In late September of 2011, Facebook users woke up to yet another series of changes: their Most Recent feed choice was replaced by a Top Stories feed that missed half of what they wanted to see, their lists of friends and acquaintances were different, the login and stuff on the left side of the screen had moved around again, and there were different choices and settings that needed to be updated. That morning, most Facebook posts seemed to be about how much they hated the new look and feel, but that anger died down by mid-day and now, two weeks later, it’s all but gone. (For some history, the same thing happened in 2009.)

What many Facebook users didn’t realize is that these changes were the first step towards a much, much larger change, coming later in October. You can watch the full announcement and demonstration of the new Facebook Timeline, but in short, it’s a visual way to display all of your posts, photos & videos, apps, and anything else you want to share on Facebook. You can customize the look and there are new features that let you “curate the story of your life.” Mashable.com has several articles summing up the little changes and the big ones to come.

Amazon Kindle ebooks finally available through your local library

Ever since public libraries began to offer downloadable ebooks through their online branches, users have been asking, “…but can I get some books for my Kindle?” For a very long time, the answer was No, but last week, that changed. Now, Amazon Kindle users can check out library ebooks if their local library uses the Overdrive ebook and digital audiobook service. Once you find a book in your library’s ebook collection (check out the Boston Public Library’s for example), you check it out using that system and then seamless move over to your Kindle account to download it. This is a huge change because now the millions of Kindle ebook users can now check out library books. Awesome.

Boston Public Library’s online catalog gets personalized

Earlier in 2011, the Boston Public Library got a new online catalog, and overall the response has been really positive. Just today, the company who manages that online catalog updated the page you see when you first log in, to make it easier to see the important information (what’s checked out & when it’s due) and recommendations and ratings made by the people you follow. Check out this short video about all the changes to the online catalog for more information.

Summing Up

One of the greatest strengths of life online is that it’s easy to update and improve on the services and tools that we use there. However, this means that those services and tools will change, and we must change with them….or find new tools. Change isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard or scary or frustrating. We can learn to roll with changes and maybe find that the new, improved thing is actually better. But you’ll never know if you don’t give it a chance.

Help & Resources

The Social Library Catalog

Learning for Life Online tool #4:
The social Boston Public Library catalog

As more and more people join social networks like Facebook and buy from online retail stores like Amazon, they have come to expect the same kinds of features in all of their online services. Most recently, library catalogs have started to offer useful social features like ratings, comments, sharing, lists and following.

What Is It?

Early in 2011, the Boston Public Library launched its new library catalog. In addition to all the things we expect from a library catalog – good search results, information on where to find items, account information and item renewals – the new catalog offers fantastic interactive features.

How Is It Useful?

Search. The first and best feature of the new catalog is its keyword search and ranked search results, and you don’t need to sign up to use it. Just like Google, this search uses the popularity of items (based on number of copies and number of holds) to give you the most likely results to your search. Searching on “The Help” will take you straight to all the copies of the book; a search for “Harry Potter movies” will get you all of the library’s DVDs of the films, as well as additional items.

Lists. Taking a cue from Amazon, the new catalog makes it extremely easy to create lists and share them online. Anyone can create a list about any topic and include current items in the catalog, items not yet in the catalog (found on Amazon) and related websites. If you have a passion for anything – science, history, painting, carpentry, computers, childcare, baking, health, crafts or travel – you can make a list to help others learn more about it.

Tags. Tags are words and phrases you can add to an item to describe it and make it easier to find. Any user can add tags that describe the genre, tone or theme of a book, movie or album, and any user can search for other items with that tag to find more things to watch, read and listen to.

Sharing. You can share interesting books, movies, CDs and lists straight from the catalog to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and dozens of other sites. Just click on the sharing icons on any item or list to share that information through nearly any social tool you already use. You don’t need to copy and paste anything to share – you do it all right from the catalog.

Following. If you notice that other users often comment with interesting reviews of items or create awesome lists, you can choose to Follow those users just by clicking a button. Don’t worry – it’s nothing creepy. Following just means that you’ll get recommendations for things to read, watch and listen to based on the items that these other users thought were awesome. Better still, the new BPL catalog is linked to other library catalogs across the US and Canada, so you might be following someone from Ottawa, Seattle or New York!

Try It Out

Visit the Boston Public Library catalog and try a few searches. Type keywords into the search bar at the top right corner and see what you get. Use power searches to find very specific things: “Children Chinese DVDs” will show you everything the Boston Public Library owns, not just individual DVD titles. Use the drop-down menu next to the search bar to find Authors, Titles, Subjects, Tags or Lists on topics you’re interested in.

If you have a Boston Public Library card, register with the new catalog by typing in your card number and four-digit PIN. Registering will let you request items to be held for you and allow you to add content like comments and tags, rate items and create lists. Sign up, choose your own username (so you don’t have to type in your library card number any more) and make sure to enter your correct birthdate so you have access to all of the site’s features.

During the Learning for Life Online program, we’ll often create lists of items related to online tools and skills and share them through the blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed. Use these lists to find all sorts of useful books and sites for living life online.

Help & Resources