Tuesday, May 31, 2011

NJ TBBC & RSVP & Thanks

Years ago I attended meetings at what was then the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped so I have been there.  It is nice that there is going to be a tour at the CSS meeting. 

Many years ago I did tell a mom about the library and what it could offer her son.  She was not aware of the library and its services.  She came back later to thank me and let me know the library provided what was needed for her son.

At this point I will be attending the meeting on June 3 (at first I was, and then I wasn't, and then I was, and then I couldn't, and now I can).  I don't usually work on Fridays (I have the perfect part-time job so most of my weekends are long) and now I live close to the TBBC so I don't really have an excuse not to go. 

I would like to thank those who put together this tech challenge.  It was great fun.  Not only did I learn new  2.0 stuff but I was reminded of old 2.0 stuff I had forgotten about.  I have been inspired to explore more on my own.  Google Sites is working out very well for organizing my storytime notes.  Right now I am primarily listing books but will be adding other material as I go through the various boxes in my basement.  I never would have considered using Google Sites if it weren't for the tech challenge. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Web Sites

The web sites listed were all new to me with the exception of Guys Read which I had heard about but never visited, and Pandora which I had tried out years ago (I'm pretty sure that it was part of the first web challenge I took).  I will definitely be bookmarking Guys Read and I just might use Pandora in the future.  Kidopo was my favorite because it had a nice mix of games and other activities.  The celebrity readers on Speakaboos are an interesting assortment of personalities.  (Kevin Bacon reading Arthur Lost and Found is a hoot.)

I have recommended ALSC's Great Web Sites for Kids regularly over the years (see my post for April 19, 2007).  One nice thing is that ALSC has a committee that maintains this site and keeps it current.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Playing Games

I have a short attention span when it comes to learning a computer game.  I want to figure it out quickly and I like having basic instructions easily seen.  In addition, I prefer certain types of games.  I do not want to have to move too quickly though I don't mind time limits.  I also don't have patience with jumping around looking for stuff games.  For far too long I have wasted time on game sites. My early favorite was Popcap though now I spend my time on AOL's games.com.  You do not have to join and can play as a guest, and must do so if under age 13.  I still enjoy a good game of Zuma now and then though I'm basically a mahjong/match 3 person.  The only reason I'm no longer wasting considerable amounts of time at the computer playing games is that my daughter gave me a Nintendo DS Lite for Mother's Day last year so now I waste considerable amounts of time playing games on it instead (no more ads!).

That said, I explored the game sites listed and found things I liked and disliked about all of them.  My favorite was Spot (yes, that's about my speed) and I would love to visit it with my grandson as soon it's safe to let him near the computer keyboard.  The screen was too large for my monitor and I could not see some of the text on top which means I would have to figure out how to change my settings but I'm sure his mom will help me with that.  Some games needed plug-ins, some took forever to load and I'm not fond of game sites that want you to join, especially for kids.  I'm sure most of these are fine but I feel that parents should be aware of what their children join and this is better something done at home.  One site had a "You are a winner!" box that would not go away and I certainly wasn't going to click on it (though I can see a kid doing it.)  I also liked Nick Jr. for even though everything is related to their programs, they do feature several book characters.  By the way, the game "Toot and Puddle Tour the World" goes with this summer's SRP theme.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Started a Google Site

I started a Google Site and after several false starts managed to figure out how to create pages and subpages.  It's called Storytime Notes (not very original but that's what they are).  I've made it public for now.  I actually managed to list a few family story time programs.  I have 20 years worth of notes to go through so it will be some time before this list is complete (I'm guessing another 20 years.)

Which Wiki??

For quite some time I have been thinking about organizing my storytime notes.  I have quite a collection since I've been doing this for over 20 years.  At one point, I had them somewhat organized but no longer since moving.  Items were thrown in bags and boxes and are now stored in the basement. 

As mentioned in an earlier post, I do not care for the PB Works format.  The Wikispaces format looks better from what I can see on their web site.  However, the free version has ads.  So I've decided to give Google Sites a try.  Wish me luck.  Maybe I'll actually have something posted before the end of this tech challenge.


I actually check the CSS Section of the NJLA wiki periodically.  I like to read the meeting minutes to keep informed of CSS programs and concerns.  To be honest I do not particularly care for the wiki format for the NJLA web site.  Finding recent information or specific information is not very quick or direct, particularly if one has to click through several screens or scroll through several files.  By the way, thank you CSS Tech Challenge people for the tip about clicking on Children's Services twice in the Navigator to get the larger view.  That does make it easier to find new information.

Crafts for Storytime Programs

I'm always looking for simple crafts for storytimes.  Over the years I have found that paper bag puppets, paper plate crafts and toilet paper roll crafts are popular and fairly easy to prepare even for large groups. (The trick is to pick patterns that don't have too many pieces.)  Fortunately I learned quickly that toilet paper rolls are not needed.  Just cut a rectangle the same size (some patterns include the rectangle), roll it and tape it together.

I usually search the web for craft ideas by theme.  I have found several interesting crafts over the years.  I try to keep a copy of each craft because web sites come and go.  Simple is the key when looking for crafts for large groups (my summer family storytime program can get quite large) and for preschoolers (to avoid frustration, not just for the kids, but for the adults with them as well).  I save the more complicated crafts for older children.

One of my favorite sources is DLTK's Printable Crafts for Kids which I have been using for years.  I have selected a t-rex to make.  The pattern can be found here.  I like that there is an option for either color or black and white.  For a group I would use the black and white template and copy it on green copy paper or green construction paper.  Before photocopying, I would outline each piece in black marker on the template to make the pieces easier to cut out.  You can see from the photo how I filled in the mouth (there is no way I'm cutting those teeny, tiny teeth!). 

Monday, May 23, 2011


I have a Delicious account from the tech challenge I took in 2007.  I haven't used it in some time so I went back and removed the dead links and added a couple of new ones.  My bookmarks can be found here.  It does come in handy to have work-related bookmarks in one place.  (I just have to remember that they are there instead of searching for the same thing again!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Trailers

I really enjoyed watching the book trailers. I've been meaning to look at some so I'm glad they are part of the tech challenge.  I can see them attracting readers to books they ordinarily would not select - parents as well as children. Our library has 2 copies of the book whose trailer I selected on order. I'm considering posting it on our children's room blog as a "coming attraction." I'll have to do some searching to find some other new titles as well.


Up to now, I've never tried ebooks or audiobooks.  I did give my husband a Kindle for Christmas and he seems to like it very much.  Though audiobooks have been around for a long time, I've never been particularly interested.  I enjoy silence.  Even on a recent drive to Ohio I felt no need to listen to anything.  My GPS talked to me occasionally and that was enough.  So I went to ListenNJ to see what I've been missing.  Alas, there was a waiting list for the ebook titles I was interested in.  I did get on the list for one so I could give it a try.  I moved to the audiobook section and successfully downloaded Jon Stewart's Earth: a Visitor's Guide to the Human Race.  It was very easy installing the necessary software and downloading the book.  Now all I have to do is find the time to listen to it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


CSS's Choice Books covers a wide variety of topics.  I would primarily use these lists for storytime programs and class visits.  I'll be adding the "2nd Grade Visits" list to my file for we have second grade classes visiting the library every spring and fall.  Another use for the lists would be as collection development guides though availability would an issue with the older titles.

A Quick Take on Reading Suggestion Engines

One of the reasons I wanted to take the CSS Tech Challenge was to to find out about new tools available on the web, so I appreciate the link to Joye Valenza's post, "Reading Suggestion Engines: Your Next Read" on School Libray Journal's Neverending Search blog.  I took a very quick look at these sites and the following are my quick impressions.  I plugged in random titles, both children's and adult, and met with varying degrees of success.

BookSeer - fun for a quick look, Amazon suggestions only at this time.

Scholastic's Teacher Book Wizard - a good feature is the ability generate lists of similar titles with the same reading level or to change the reading level.

JacketFlap - I did not have much success using this and did not feel it was worth the time to figure it out.

Yournextread.com - visual book recommendations which will appeal to kids but they also seem to basically come from Amazon.  Oddly I got suggestions for Very Hungry Caterpillar but none for Dinosaurs before Dark.

What Should I Read Next - Quick.  I got a nice long list for Maze of Bones and not just for other titles in the series.  On the other hand when I put in Murder on the Orient Express some strange suggestions came up - Gone with the Wind??

Database of Award Winning Children's Literature - it is easy to set the parameters (genre and gender are particularly helpful) which helps narrow down the list.  Because the books are "award winning" most of the popular titles that kids request will not come up.  However, this is great for parents who want their children to read quality literature.

WhichBook.net - an interesting perspective but not particularly practical for a quick search.

Young Adult Books in Series and Sequels Wiki - a great help.  It seems that everything is a trilogy or quartet now, so it's hard to keep up.

TasteKid - I put in Agatha Christie's Poirot and got some very, very strange suggestions (Siddartha? Chronicles of Narnia? Streetcar Named Desire?).  Twilight generated Chronicles of Narnia (again?), Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Memoirs of a Geisha in addition to other books in the series.

Gnooks - author searches only.  Love the literature map!

Some sites were more useful than others but when it comes to making book suggestions, librarians are much better at it than computers. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More Photos - Redux

Blogger had a major meltdown last week and one of my posts from May 11 is missing.  (Should it return, I will delete this post.)

I tried out Picnik. Adding text to a photo is something I have not done before. I can definitely see using this in the future.

I also uploaded the photos to my Flickr photostream and tagged them. Warning, if you click on my photostream you will see many, many photos of knitting (with some cats and family thrown in). I belong to Ravelry (sort of a Facebook for knitters) and my photos for that site are hosted on Flickr. Gee, I'm such a stereotypical librarian - I have 2 cats and I knit (at least I don't have the bun). I have the Flickr uploader on my desktop which makes it easy to add photos.

Well, I think I have completed the challenges for this week. It's been fun.


Social Cataloging

I've had a Library Thing account since 2007 though I have not been active lately.  I have piles of knitting books to add.  I will probably be close to the limit of 200 once I add them all and will have to consider upgrading my account.  The "social" part of Library Thing that I enjoy most is seeing how many other members own the same books.  One title I have in my library is only owned by one other person, while other titles are owned by over a thousand.  Since my collection is limited to knitting books, I find the varying numbers interesting.  Click here if you don't mind looking at pages of knitting books.

I have used Library Thing at work.  I would add titles of books I have read in storytime to a Library Thing account.  I then added the Library Thing widget to my blog so that parents and others could find out more about the books.  (The library's catalog did not display book covers.)  I have added the widget to this blog to show how easy it is to do - just copy and paste.  [Edited 6/10/11 - I removed the Library Thing widget since the tech challenge is over and the books are not relevant to this blog.]

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I work part-time for the Hamilton Township Public Library in Mercer County.  This morning I managed to take a couple of pictures of the Children's Room before the library opened.  The calm before the storm.  We had two sessions of Toddler Time and two class visits this morning.  While my colleague was doing her Toddler Time programs, I had a grand time reading silly books and telling the story, "The Wonderful Pot," to second graders.  The room was not so tidy when I finished work at 1 p.m.

All set up for Toddler Time - this week the theme is Monkeys!

Uploading the photos was easy and I don't have to remember to change the picture size.  Blogger makes them fit.


I managed to add a background photo to this blog.  It took a couple of tries because I keep forgetting to make my photos smaller before uploading them or sending them.  Some day this concept will stick.  I also did some major cropping.  The photo is literally of my planning notes for this summer's Family Story Time series. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Learning Again - 2.0 Four Years Later

This blog was originally started as part of a Tech Challenge presented by the Central Jersey Regional Library Cooperative a few years ago. Although I have done many of the things listed, there is always something new to learn which is why I decided to take the CSS Tech Challenge. I'm looking forward to exploring what's new in Web 2.0.

I find it interesting how I use 2.0 now compared to how I used it a few years ago. Blogs were a big deal in 2007 but I had thought that perhaps their time had passed. Everyone seems to be micro blogging now. However, I realized that I have 68 subscriptions in my Google Reader so I guess blogging is still a vital part of 2.0. So far I have managed to avoid Twitter but that's because my family does not tweet. We spend our time on Facebook instead. Facebook's appeal is not just the status updates but the wealth of family photos that have been uploaded as well.

Although I have two other blogs, they have been as neglected as this one. I can see the appeal of Twitter and Facebook in that posting is fast and easy. For me, blog posts take more time and effort because they seem more permanent. I will try to be a better blogger and post more often (at least for the next four weeks).