The Fall 2008 edition of the Weinberg Memorial Library Information Update Newsletter is now out. Included are articles on the LibQUAL+TM assessment survey; news from Special Collections; the Letters to Sala Exhibit; the upcoming Abraham Lincoln Exhibit; updates on the Patriot Act and other related legislation; and news about the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and Assistive Technology. The Information Update is published twice a year at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semester. A paper copy can be picked up at the Library Reference or Circulation Desks; an online copy along with past issues can be accessed from the Library homepage or by linking to http://academic.scranton.edu/department/wml/newsletter.html.
By now, I think we have all had exposure to the “new Facebook.” For those readers who don’t know what that refers to, it is basically a complete redesign of the social networking site Facebook, which the developers have been working on for some time now. Since 2004 when Facebook was first launched and created, the design of the site has remained the same, where a person’s personal profile is viewable on one single page, and links to get to other parts of the site were in familiar and convenient places on that page. But Facebook has been expanding to include new features, like “pages” (i.e. pages devoted to people, places and things, which users can become “fans” of — see our Library page for an example: The University of Scranton Weinberg Memorial Library ), and interactive applications (widgets or add-ons to your profile, created by 3rd parties, that allow for more ways to interact). The Facebook design crew felt the structure of the site could be improved to handle all of these new features, and so they redesigned the whole site, and made the switch from “old” to “new” voluntary for the past month and a half or so.
Until late last week, when the option to revert back to the old Facebook was taken away from users… (See this article by Michael Liedtke of the Associated Press for more details on this.)
And the reaction has been pretty strong! Three out of 5 stories on my newsfeed these days are of my friends joining groups like “6,600,000,000 Against the New Facebook!” and “Petition against the ‘New Facebook.'” And here I am… not minding the new design at all, and in fact digging it for various reasons. It makes a gal feel as if she didn’t get the memo that said to dislike the new Facebook with a passion, when everyone she knows is having such a strong negative reaction to this change, and she is not.
And so, for your reading and discussing pleasure, here are my top 5 reasons for liking the new Facebook:
1. Home Tabs:
I like these tabs on my “Home” page because they organize all of the information about my friends that I care about. The 2 tabs I use most often are “Status Updates” and “Photos.” I have heard criticisms that this new accessible layout increases the opportunity for people to “Facebook stalk” their friends. But answer me this: When you sign into Facebook, other than updating your friends on what’s new with you, isn’t your next interest, well, finding out what’s new with them? I mean, come on, if someone is your friend on Facebook, I’d like to hope they aren’t gonna “Facebook stalk” you — and hey, if you think they are, then you can change your privacy settings regarding what gets published in newsfeeds about you. These tabs mean less pages to load, in order to see what people have updated about themselves. Which is one of the reasons I sign into Facebook in the first place. So, I like ’em.
2. Profile Tabs:
This is possibly my favorite change. You can’t tell me that, in the old Facebook, you didn’t find it annoying that it took so long for most people’s profiles to load with 50 applications attached to each one. The single-page-per-profile layout of the old Facebook was so cumbersome and slow, I love that the Facebook designers have now tucked most of our crazy applications behind a tab called “Boxes,” making the load time for profiles a lot shorter. I also think it’s neat that “Info” is clustered under one tab as well — let’s face it, sometimes we are interested in seeing where our friends work and what movies they have listed, and sometimes we’re not. When we’re not, we’re usually more interested in seeing who’s posted on their Wall lately — or, to make that sound less “Facebook stalkerish,” what sorts of social interactions they’ve been engaging in recently. And there is nothing wrong with this, as far as I’m concerned. The site is designed for us to interact — I’m not gonna pretend that’s not why I use it. Along these lines, on the old Facebook my click pattern was to click on a person’s name to get to their profile, and then speed-scroll down to their Wall. In the new Facebook, all that clicking, and loading, and waiting, and scrolling is eliminated. I like it.
3. Photo Tab:
And scrolling down on the same page you find:
I think the new photo tab is brilliant in its simplicity… Now, ALL of my photos are in one place. I don’t have to click one link to see tagged photos of me (first screen shot above), and another link to view the albums I have created (second screen shot above). When you click on a person’s Photo tab, all of their photos are on the same page, in one place. You also have a convenient button to “Create a Photo Album” right on your own Photo tab. All of this just makes more sense to me.
I like that the new Facebook has buttons all over the place for you to immediately make changes to the content on your profile and on your newsfeeds. Note in particular the “Settings” button I circled in the above screenshot (right side). I admit I didn’t like the default settings for my “Wall” tab, since it was publishing stories about every little thing I did on any of my applications… So I just clicked on the convenient “Settings” button and made it so the only stories that get published on my page are for status updates or posts from my friends to my Wall. You can do this for your general newsfeed (on your “Home” page) as well. I can also change my profile picture really easily using the “Change Picture” button (see upper left corner of screenshot) which has a picture of a little pencil next to it… You will find these little pencils everywhere, and they are Edit functions, there to make it easy for you to change the content of your page. Very convenient and considerate of Facebook, if you ask me…
5. Accessibility of Applications:
Finally, I like what Facebook did with my applications. I can now access them very easily from my “Home” page, in the upper right-hand corner of the page, which is where the above screenshot comes from. Note especially the “more” button, which will expand the box to list every single application you have. You can also drag applications from below the “more” boundary so that your most often used applications are always visible. I also love that there is yet another “Edit” button right there next to the apps, which means I can go in and purge my Facebook account of unused or unwanted apps, just one accessible click away. “Edit” will also take me to the page where I can change settings for individual apps, so I stop getting emails every single time someone interacts with one of my applications, etc. This is very convenient and helpful, to me.
And so, there you have it. Perhaps my clicking patterns and behavior on Facebook are different than yours… and if that’s the case, maybe these changes I have listed don’t affect your use of the site at all. If so, I would love to hear some feedback from you avid Facebook users out there, as to why the new layout DOESN’T work for you. Because honestly, I see nothing wrong, and lots right with it… But I am open and very interested in the other point of view, since I want to understand where all the resistance to the new design is coming from.
(Now, if only Facebook would fix the chat function so that it works more consistently and wasn’t so glitchy, I’d be even happier!)
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series is now available in the Weinberg Memorial Library, in the Ed Lab (3rd floor). Special thanks to our Cataloging and Acquisitions staff, who got the books in and on the shelves so quickly! Students have already checked out two of the books in the series, but Breaking Dawn and New Moon are still available – for now. You can see whether or not they’ve been snapped up and checked out by searching our Library catalog at http://wml.scranton.edu/search.
If you haven’t yet heard about the Twilight series, you can read about the phenomenon in a Washington Post article here.
Word on the street is that Stephenie Meyer is the new J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series). What’s the word on campus? Does Twilight live up to the hype?
The buzz in the tech world this week is all about Chrome, Google’s new browser. The browser industry has long been dominated by Internet Explorer (with bits of the market being taken up by Firefox, Safari, and Opera), but rumor has it that Google’s new product might take over.
I’m downloading Chrome as I type – I’m anxious to see if it can win my heart from Firefox. It will also be interesting to see if, when, and how Chrome might start to infiltrate The University of Scranton — where the preferred browser is currently Internet Explorer. If you spot any Chrome users on campus, let us know!
The Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award encourages library users to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college, or university librarians. The awards program will demonstrate how librarians are improving the lives of the people in their communities.
Up to ten winners will be selected annually and will receive a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and $500 travel stipend to attend an awards reception in New York hosted by The New York Times at TheTimesCenter on December 9, 2008. In addition, a plaque will be given to each award winner’s library.
The award is administered by the American Library Association with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and The New York Times.
Who Can Nominate a Librarian
Nominators of public librarians must be public library users.
Nominators of librarians in college, community college or university libraries must be users of those libraries, e.g. students, faculty, or staff members.
Who Can Be Nominated
Each nominee must be a librarian with a master’s degree from a program accredited by the ALA in library and information studies or a master’s degree with a specialty in school library media from an educational unit accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. Nominees must be currently working in the United States in a public library, a library at an accredited two- or four-year college or university or at an accredited K-12 school.
Timeline for Nominations
Nominations for public libraries are open and must be completed by October 1, 2008. Nominations for college, community college, or university librarian and school library media specialists open September 2 and must be completed by October 15, 2008.
I’m somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to reading, that is to say, I prefer paper and ink over plastic and electrons. However, I’m always open-minded and willing to try new things; so, a couple years back, I decided to read Aristophanes’s The Clouds entirely on my desktop computer. Sadly, I couldn’t make it all the way through and eventually ended up taking the book out of the library.
However, I did learn something from my experience, namely that it is possible to read large amounts of text entirely online. Personally, I read online all the time, but usually in the form of newspaper/journal articles and other short passages, though occasionally I have pulled-up a couple chapters from a book, in order to get by for the time being.
So if you left your book on the bus, or the library doesn’t have it (highly unlikely), or your shipment hasn’t come in from Amazon yet and you need to have a chapter read by tomorrow, then I suggest giving some of the following resources a try. Keep in mind, you don’t need an iPhone or iTablet to read most eBooks, usually you can open them up right from your desktop/laptop, or even on most SmartPhones and PDAs.
Here are the top 5 FREE eBook sites, in my humble opinion:
1.) The Online Books Page – An Index of eTexts brought to us free of charge by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.
2.) Project Gutenberg – There are over 25,000 free books in the Project Gutenberg Online Book Catalog. A grand total of over 100,000 titles are available at Project Gutenberg Partners, Affiliates and Resources.
3.) Bookyards.com – Bookyards has a total of 16,045 books, 41,384 external web links, 4,197 news & blogs links, 384 videos, 32,787 Ebook links and access to hundreds of online libraries (800,000 Ebooks) for your reading pleasure.
4.) JustFreeBooks – This website is actually a specialized search engine (similar to Google, except only searches eBook sites). Use the search box to find exactly what you are looking for.
5.) MemoWare.com – Contains over 18,000 “premium” titles. I can’t vouch for exactly what they mean by premium titles, but there are some excellent Literature selections and even some Reference texts.
This afternoon I received an IM while signed into our IM Reference Service. (BTW our screen name is uofsrefdesk, so add us to your buddy list!) A student wanted to know the Java City Hours of Operation. When I realized these aren’t posted anywhere prominent on our website, I decided this needed to be rectified. And so, here they are:
It seems to me Java City has zeroed in on all of the important parts of the week when that delicious java is essential to the hard-working (possibly sleep-deprived) student. So next time you’re in the Library ready to get started on your latest assignment, grab your beverage of choice* from Java City and make yourself at home. Java City is located in the Pro Deo Room, aka the 24-hour room, which is to your right when you walk into the library from the Monroe side of the building.
*Java City also has an array of smoothie options — and I know from personal experience that they really hit the spot!
One of the unique programs that the Weinberg Memorial Library offers is the Schemel Forum, a series of lectures and courses that are open to members of the Scranton community. The idea is that people from all different generations can continue their educations by discussing new ideas together.
There are several different courses being offered this Fall (see the full offerings on the Schemel Forum website) – the one I’m participating in is The American Presidency, taught by Morey Myers. We just had the first of five sessions this evening on the third floor of the Library, and the room was PACKED – Morey’s reputation preceded him!
Our focus tonight was on the role of the President of the United States, as defined in the Constitution in Article II and Amendments XII and XXV. A lot of good questions came up — what exactly is executive power and how far does it extend? Can a legal case be made that John McCain, who was born in the Canal Zone, is not eligible to be President? Could (and should) the Electoral College system be eliminated in favor of direct election by the people? I also learned a few new tidbits of American history: I never knew that Benjamin Franklin was actually the President of Pennsylvania, or that George Washington has been called the father of the modern expense account. I had never even heard of Peyton Randolph before tonight!
The best part of the evening, though, was just being in a room with so many interesting people from the community. The participants included 11 doctors, 6 lawyers, and the CFO of the new Scranton medical school – and I also spotted interim CAS Dean Paul Fahey. I’m looking forward to meeting more of my fellow students in the next sessions.
Next Wednesday, we’ll be discussing the Federalist Papers. Care to read along?
An Update from Michael Knies, Special Collections Librarian:
Letters to Sala: A Young Woman’s Life in Nazi Labor Camps is a striking exhibition reproducing the letters, postcards, photographs, and personal documents that Sala Garncarz managed to save during five brutal years in Nazi work camps during World War II. Curated by Jill Vexler and co-sponsored by the Weinberg Memorial Library and the Holocaust Education Resource Center, this unique exhibition will be on view in the Heritage Room at The University of Scranton from September 1 through October 28, 2008. Charles Kratz, Dean of the Library & Information Fluency noted, “This traveling exhibition continues our commitment to commemorating the Holocaust through special programming in conjunction with the Holocaust Education Resource Center.”
A reception, featuring a talk by Sala’s daughter, Ann Kirschner, will be held on Sunday, September 14 from 1-4 p.m. Kirschner is the author of Sala’s Gift: My Mother’s Holocaust Story, which tells the story of her mother’s World War II experience.
This traveling exhibition was inspired by Letters to Sala: A Young Woman’s Life in Nazi Labor Camps, presented at The New York Public Library from March 7 to June 17, 2006. Support for this exhibition has been provided by the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the Berg Foundation, Trudy and Robert Gottesman, the French Children of the Holocaust Foundation and Nancy Schwartz Sternoff, Dobkin Family Foundation. Unless otherwise indicated, the letters, photographs, and documents in the exhibition are drawn from the Sala Garncarz Kirschner Collection, donated by the Kirschner family in April 2005, to the Dorot Jewish Division of The New York Public Library.
Traveling Exhibition Curator: Jill Vexler, Ph.D.
Traveling Exhibition Design: Monk Design, New York
For those that don’t know it yet, the Library will be open tomorrow, Labor Day, from 12 noon until 11:30pm.
Since this holiday weekend fell at the end of your first week of classes, we figured most of you would be staying in the area rather than taking trips home — and who wouldn’t with an amazing Italian food festival* occurring right in your backyard?
But after a long weekend of feasting Italian-style, the Library will be open and at your service, if you feel inclined to start tackling that first big research assignment your professors inevitably assigned or alluded to last week in class… You know you wanna. *wink*
And a happy and safe holiday weekend, from the Library to you!
*I am of course referring to La Festa Italiana, the ever-popular and famous annual celebration of Italian food and culture, occurring all weekend in Courthouse Square (the block made up of Linden St., Adams Ave., Spruce St. and N. Washington Ave.) here in Scranton. Visit La Festa Italiana for details.