Monday, December 7, 2009

Thing #21 - Wrapping Up

Guess what? It's the end of the 2009 OCL Web Challenge! In the last ten weeks, you have learned about new technologies that are changing the way people are using the Internet (and libraries).

The great (and sometimes frustrating) thing about the Internet is that it is always changing. Technology companies and bloggers are already working on a definition of what Web 3.0 will be.

The OCL Web Challenge Committee hopes that you enjoyed the Web Challenge and will continue to be a lifelong learner. We are hoping to host an advanced challenge sometime in 2010, too. Thank you for playing!

To complete Thing #21, write one last blog post:

This is your last required blog post, so make it a good one. What was your favorite thing you learned about? Conversely, what did you like least about Web 2.0? What areas of Web 2.0 do you think the library should get more involved in? What Web 2.0 services have you shared with your friends and family?

Advanced Optional Exercise
Look up Web 3.0 and predict what you think it will be.


The drop-dead completion date for the 2009 OCL Web Challenge is December 31 at midnight. You must have completed all 21 Things by that date to be eligible for a prize. You will be hearing from the committee by the middle of December letting you know your progress so far. Good luck and have fun!

Thing #20 - ListenNJ

Digital audio books are similar to the audio books that the library circulates. Instead of picking them up at the library, you can download them on your home computer. Once you have downloaded the audio book it can be listened to on the computer. Some titles can transferred to an MP3 player or burnt onto a CD.

The Ocean County Library offers its customers digital audiobooks through

ListenNJ offers a wide variety of audio books for customers to access from their home computers. Topics include fiction, biographies, business, children’s literature, current events, history, mystery, romance, suspense and more.

To access digital books at
ListenNJ you will need:
* A valid Ocean County Library Card
* Access to the Internet
* OverDrive Audio Book and Windows Media Player 9.0 software (both are free and available to download from ListenNJ)
* An MP3 player (OPTIONAL)

To complete Thing #20, download and listen to a book from ListenNJ. Here's what you need to do:

FIRST: Read Ocean County Library’s instructions for ListenNJ downloading.

You'll need your library card number to use ListenNJ.

If you have an MP3 player already, great. You'll download a book to the player and listen to some of the audio to make sure everything worked. If you don't have a MP3 player or don't want to download a book to your MP3 player, that's okay. Use the instructions above.

Go to ListenNJ and download a book of your choosing onto your computer (use a PC Plus computer at work) and listen to some of the book to make sure everything worked.

Hint: To make it easier to find the downloaded file, download it to the desktop. Once you're done with the exercise, delete the file off the desktop.

Then, write a blog post about your experience. Do you see yourself using this for audiobooks in the future?

Thing #19 - Podcasts

One of the greatest buzzwords in the Web 2.0 world is podcast. But what is a podcast, really?

A podcast is downloadable audio programming that you can listen to on a variety of topics. They are created by your neighbor, your coworker or large media companies like ESPN, CBS and the New York Times. Best of all, the majority of podcasts are free.

When we said that anyone can create a podcast, we mean anyone. All you need is a microphone, a computer and some simple recording software to create a podcast. The number of podcasts grows daily and there are podcasts on virtually every subject. From sports to cooking to gardening to video games, you can probably find a podcast about anything you can imagine.

So how do you listen to a podcast?

The old way to get podcasts was to check the website of your favorite podcast frequently for updates. Once there was an announcement that a new podcast was available, you could then listen from the website or download it to your computer.

Web 2.0 makes listening to podcasts easier. Remember way back to the beginning of the challenge when we talked about RSS feeds? Podcasters now use RSS feeds to distribute their podcasts. People use programs called podcatchers to subscribe to their favorite podcasts. Once they subscribe to a podcast, the podcatcher will automatically download new podcasts for you.

There are a variety of podcatcher programs available. The most popular is Apple’s iTunes. Below is a video that shows how simple it is to maintain your podcast subscriptions with iTunes. Most other podcatchers work similarly.

Doesn’t that look easy?

Once you have downloaded a podcast, you can listen to it on your computer or transfer it to your portable media device, like your iPod, Zune or other mp3 player.

With newer portable media devices like the iPod and Zune having video features and home digital video editing equipment becoming easier and more affordable, some podcasters have stepped up their game and gotten into video podcasting. It works just like regular podcasting, but instead of producing audio they are making video programming, or vodcasting.

To Complete Thing #19, here's what you have to do:
1. Explore a podcasting site like or Odeo. (or iTunes if you have it at home)
2. Search for a podcast on a topic of your choice and listen to it.

3. Write a blog post about your experience. Did you like the podcast you found? Was listening to a podcast easier or harder than you expected?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thing #18 - Delicious

In Thing #17, we talked about tagging. Well, Delicious ( is a site that takes tagging to the next level. Delicious is a social bookmark manager that allows you to bookmark a web page and add tags to categorize your bookmarks. You can use it to store your links, share them with friends, and discover new links and articles.

Many users find that the real power of Delicious is in the social network aspect, which allows you to see how other users have tagged similar links and also discover other websites that may be of interest to you. You can think of it as peering into another user's filing cabinet, but with this powerful bookmarking tool each user's filing cabinet helps to build an expansive knowledge network.

A few examples of how libraries are using Delicious already:
* Toms River Information Services has put together a huge set of helpful resources, and organized it with tags. Make sure to click "all tags" in the right hand column to see all of the tags they've used.
* Check out Stafford Branch's version of The Southern Regional Middle School's
Summer Reading List from a few years ago (much better than a pdf file!)
* The College of New Jersey uses in place of
traditional subject guides and pathfinders to help students find resources (scroll to bottom of page to see cloud)

So what do you have to do?
Go to Explore the links there.

* Click on Fresh Bookmarks to see what's been posted most recently.
* Click on Popular Bookmarks to see what's hot.
* Click on Explore Tags to browse through tags.
OR just try out a search, like travel tips or craft tutorials or recipes.

Then, write a blog post about delicious. Do you think this would be useful? How would you use it at the library or for your personal links?

Thing #17 - Tagging

Tags are another part of this whole Web 2.0 thing, but they are actually very familiar territory for those of us who just so happen to work in libraries. Many sites now allow users to "tag" items, adding descriptive keywords to photos, blog posts, links, videos, and much more. But think about it - couldn't I say the same thing about subject headings in the library catalog? Of course I could! And when you think about tags in that library-oriented way, it makes so much more sense.

When you're looking for a book in the catalog, and you don't know what the title is, a subject keyword search will very often connect you to what you're looking for. Tagging on websites works the same way, with one big exception. Subject headings are determined by library catalogers. In most cases, tags can be added by any user.

We've seen tagging a few times already in this Web Challenge. You can add tags (aka labels) to your blog posts. You can tag books in
LibraryThing. You can tag people in photos you post on Facebook. YouTube videos have tags too - if you go back to that Wedding Dance video we linked to a few posts ago, you don't see tags right away. But if you click on "more info", you'll see that there are tags.

Why are tags useful?

If we go back to that YouTube example, several of the tags included "wedding" "wedding entrance" "creative wedding" "wedding dance ideas" and more. You can click those links and you'll be taken to a YouTube search for those terms. Or, a user who didn't know about that video in the first place may have done a search for "wedding entrance", and the tags on this particular video will help that video turn up in search results.

If my friend Pete posts a photo on Facebook and I'm in the photo, he can tag me in his photo. Then when people go to MY page, they will see a link to Pete's photo when they look for photos of me. (You can turn this feature off if you don't like it!)

Remember the
tagmash in LibraryThing? The user-added tags there helped find books you don't know you're interested in. Or they help you assist the customer who knows they're looking for a book about the black death but can't remember the title.

The thing about tags is that because they are added by users, sometimes they are redundant or too generic. They'd probably annoy a vigilant cataloger. However, because they are so unrestricted, it can help refine searches in a way we haven't seen before.

To complete Thing #17, try out ONE of the following:
1. Go back to
LibraryThing and search for your favorite book. Take a look at the tags. Are there any unexpected tags? Are there any tags you'd add?
2. If you use
Facebook, has a friend tagged you in a photo? Have you tagged someone in a photo you posted?
3. Tag your next blog post. (When you're composing a post, look at the bottom. There's a box called "labels for this post".) What keywords would you use?
4. We used a fun site called
Wordle to create the tag cloud at the top of the post. Visit the site and try creating a Wordle out of a site you like. Or just add in a few of your favorite words and see what happens.

Write a blog post about what you tried. Did you like tagging things? Do you think it's useful or fun? Does it annoy you that it's so freeform?

PS. For those of you with Windows Vista or Windows 7, the Photo Gallery software allows you to tag photos you've taken with your digital camera. Imagine being able to tag all the photos of your family and friends with their names! You'd be able to do a quick search and find all the photos of your brother or sister in one shot.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Break!

The Web Challenge is taking a break for Thanksgiving. Use the time to relax, or catch up!

Next week's things will be posted on Friday, November 27. See you then!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thing #16 - Wikis (part 2)

"Sandbox" is the term that wikis often use to describe the area of the wiki website that should be used for pure play and experimentation. For this discovery and exploration exercise, we’ve set up a whole OCL Web Challenge Wiki for you to play with.

Our wiki is on Google Sites which is a wiki site offering restricted wikis to individuals and businesses. (Restricted means you'll need to log in to edit the wiki.)

To mark your adventure on OCLWebthings wiki site, you will be adding a link to your blog to the page on the OCLwebthing wiki called

1. Go to the
OCL Webthings wiki.
You can get there by going to your email account you used to register your blog with the WebChallenge Committee and opening the email you were sent about the OCL Webthings wiki and Thing #. Click on the invitation link inside the email.

Why you can't just click on the link: Google requires you to be invited to edit a wiki. This keeps the editing rights to only those people the Administrator of the wiki (in this case the Web Challenge committee) wants to have the power to change the wiki. Otherwise it is an open wiki like Wikipedia and the whole world can edit it. That's not a good idea for most wikis that are cooperative efforts within a specific group.

2. So to explore-and-play-with-wikis in this exercise, you are asked to add an entry or two to the Sandbox page on the wiki. The theme of this wiki page is simply “favorites” : favorite books, favorite vacation spots, favorite restaurants, favorite anything. All you need to do is add your favorites under one or more categories. You're also asked to play with the fonts and the formatting features.

3. Next go to the party plans section of the wiki and add an item. Make sure to include your blog url so we'll know you've been there. Remember, if you have questions, or need a little help, email us at

4. Create a post in your blog about the experience. Here's a question you might want to blog about: What are the potential uses of a wiki for work?

Thing #15 - Wikis (part 1)

"Wiki, Wiki" in Hawaiian means quickly. A wiki allows you to work with others to write and organize information. Everyone can be both writer and editor. For your introduction to wikis watch the video from Common Craft below for a really simple explanation:

Wikipedia, the online open-community encyclopedia, is the largest and perhaps the most well known of these knowledge sharing tools. The use and popularity of wikis in businesses, libraries and in online communities is expanding rapidly. Did you know NJLA is now using a Wiki for their website?

Some of the benefits that make wikis so attractive are:
  • multiple people can add, edit or delete content

  • you can keep track of who is editing what

  • earlier versions of a page can be viewed and reinstated when needed

  • no technical background is needed
As the use of wikis has grown over the last few years, libraries all over the country have begun to use them to collaborate and to share knowledge. Among their applications: subject guide wikis, book review wikis, ALA conference wikis, and even library best practices wikis.

Take a look at some of these wikis:

Did you find anything useful? Did you find anything you didn't like?

Next, visit Ocean County Library's article on Wikipedia. Most people never notice the Discussion and History tabs at the top of each Wikipedia article. They give you important clues on the article's accuracy and currency. Clicking on the Discussion tab in the OCL article, you'll read that Wikipedia made OCL give permission before we could repeat material from our website in the Wikipedia article. Wikipedia really hates copying from other websites without permission.

Click on the history tab on top of the OCL article to see a list of every change made to the article's words or images. Any guesses on what edits were from OCL staff? One staff member changed the description of Sparks from a pink dragon to a magenta dragon, then another staff member added a citation to prove the change correct!

Share some of your thoughts on wikis on your Web Challenge blog.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thing #14 - Picnik

What is Picnik?
Picnik is another online application or program. It's free photo editing software. Instead of installing it onto your computer, it runs right out of your internet browser. You don't have to download or install anything, and it works on any computer. It's easy to use and a whole lot of fun.

What can I do with Picnik?

Picnik packs a lot of punch into its online software. With their Basic Editing tools, you can crop, resize, rotate, or adjust the colors or contrast of your photos. They also have a section of "creative effects" which allows you to add all sorts of artsy effects to your photos. You can darken the corners, make it look like a 1960s photo, boost the colors, turn it into a sketch or heat map, invert the colors, turn the whole photo one color.

Picnik also lets you add text, frames, or clipart (Picnik calls them "stickers") to your photos. They are always adding new seasonal stickers, so for Thanksgiving, you can add turkeys and cornucopias to your photos. Yes, it can be silly or overly artsy, but you could also use it to make a digital e-card to send to family and friends. Or use it to make a quick flyer for an upcoming program at the library.

Picnik lets you open photos that are saved on your computer, or from a website URL that you put in. Picnik is also partnered with Yahoo, so you can use Picnik to do a Yahoo image search and then edit a photo - all within the same window.

You do not have to have an account to use Picnik. However, with a free account, you can link your Picnik account to your Facebook, flickr, MySpace, or Twitter account. This lets you post photos to those sites, or edit photos that you've already posted on those sites. You also have the option of paying for a Premium account. Some of the features (creative effects or off-season clipart, for example) are only available to those who have paid for premium accounts.

Picnik allows you to save your edited photo to your computer, email it to your friends, or print it using your printer.

To complete Thing #14, here's what you have to do:
Visit and click "Get started".

There are a few demo photos on their main page that you can play around with. You can also try out uploading one of your own photos. Write a blog post about Picnik. Do you think you'd use this at your library? Could you imagine using it to help customers?

Bonus: post your creation on your blog!

Thing #13 - Google Docs

What is Google Docs?
Google Docs (or Documents) is FREE online software for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, much like Microsoft Office (aka Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). And did we mention our favorite part? It’s free!

What can I do with Google Docs?
To put it simply, a whole lot! You can use it to create new documents, spreadsheets or presentations. You can access your files from any computer with an internet connection, and your files are securely stored in Google’s online file storage system – no disks needed! You can also open existing Word or Excel documents using Google Docs to edit or print them. (This can be quite handy if you are working on a computer that doesn’t have Microsoft Office.)

But one of the most innovative and exciting things about Google Docs is the ability to share your documents and collaborate with others. Any time you create a document or spreadsheet with Google Docs, you have the option to share it with someone, just by putting in their email address. They can then view, edit, and collaborate on the same document you just created – without sending pesky email attachments back and forth.

This can be helpful in many ways – working on a project or report with a coworker, sharing gift lists with family, helping a friend edit a paper for school, and really, any way you can imagine.

Most of the Web Challenge was created with Google Docs. One committee member could draft the text of a Thing and everyone could comment and make changes. We're using a Google Doc spreadsheet to track your progress, too.
And because Google Docs are part of Google, you already have an account just by having a Gmail address.

Here's a great video made by the people at Google describing why you should use online software:

You can also check out the Google Docs Tour.

So what are you going to do this week?
We will be sharing a Google Document with all of you for this week's exercise. You should see an email (in your Gmail inbox) from the Web Challenge inviting you to view the document we have shared with you. To view it, just click the link in the email.


Go to
Google Docs and log in with your Gmail username and password. You will be taken to your Google Docs inbox, which looks a lot like your Gmail inbox. You should see a document called "2009 Web Challenge Favorites".
To open it, just click on it as if you were opening on email.

Once you have opened the spreadsheet, add your name and answer to our question. Then save and close the document. You'll be able to see what other Web Challenge players have added.

Then, write a blog post about Google Docs. How would you use the collaborative features at your branch for a project? Is there a project that you're currently working on where Google Docs could help or save time?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thing #12 - Twitter

The Common Craft video on Twitter.

Twitter is one of the fastest growing sites on the web, and it's also one of the hardest sites to explain. Why is it so hard to explain? Well, this is largely due to the fact that people are using Twitter in so many different ways. You can't really boil Twitter down to one short statement. But we're going to try!

(For those of you on Facebook, Twitter is almost exactly the same as your status updates.)

At its heart, Twitter is like a blog with very, very short posts. It's sometimes called "microblogging" because each post can only have up to 140 characters. If you think about it, that's not very much. Some of the folks who don't like Twitter complain that, like texting, Twitter is dumbing down how we use the Internet by forcing us to be TOO concise. However, if you look at it, there are some very interesting ways people and companies are using Twitter.

When you sign up for Twitter, you can add your own posts, just like on your blog. On Twitter, these are called "tweets". Much like with Facebook, you can "follow" other people. When you log in, you'll be seeing the most recent "tweets" posted by the people you are following. Some people don't post much, but merely use Twitter to follow others. In fact, a Twitter feed works just like an RSS feed - you can subscribe to one in Google Reader just like any other RSS feed. This means you don't even have to join Twitter to get the benefits.

Okay, so how ARE people using Twitter?

* Posting useless facts about their day ("I just had a burrito for lunch." "This weather is making me cranky." "I can't wait to go to happy hour tonight!")

* Linking to an article, a video, or even something they want to buy online (Did you see the video of that
Wedding Entrance Dance that was eventually parodied on The Office? Guess what - it originally gained popularity because people were Twittering about it for DAYS and it literally exploded in popularity to the point of being featured in People Magazine, and then The Office.)

* Breaking news (You can follow CNN, The New York Times, and other major news outlets, where they post short blurbs about breaking news stories.)

* Emergencies (When everyone was afraid that the 6 year old boy was flying over Colorado in a homemade balloon? Everyone from regular folks like you and me to major news organizations were posting updates and their feelings on Twitter. When the plane crashed on the Hudson in January, eyewitnesses posted photos and observations as it happened, way before those pictures and observations were on news sites like CNN, the radio or TV news stations.)

* Space Missions (NASA won blogging awards in 2008 when it created a Twitter feed for their Mars Phoenix Lander, which posted observations as if the robotic interplanetary explorer was writing them itself, all the way up until the end of the 152 day mission.)

* Protests and Politics (in the 2008 Presidential campaign, candidates used Twitter for publicity, news reports, and polling. And on the other side of the coin, regular people are gaining voices in protests around the world. When authorities in Iran blocked Facebook, text messaging, YouTube, and the BBC during the contested election earlier this year, they overlooked Twitter, and it became a connection for Iranian citizens to the outside world - and to each other.)

* Finding and posting jobs (Companies and recruiters are now posting job openings on Twitter, and in a way, by finding the job on Twitter, you're showing them that you already have a basic understanding of new web tools. Think about it!)

* Being a fan of your favorite sports teams (You can subscribe to news feeds from ESPN, local sports stations like SNY, radio hosts from WFAN, sideline reporters who update during the games... and surprisingly enough, the NFL has had to issue new rules that prevent players from tweeting during games.)

A Few Important Twitter Terms

your individual posts on Twitter.
Following: like friending on Facebook, when you "follow" people, you see their updates on your homepage. (You don't have to follow everyone who follows you! But you certainly can.)
RT: This is short for "re-tweet", and it is sort of like forwarding in email. When you RT something, you're re-posting something a friend of yours already posted.
Replying/@someone: In addition to writing your own messages, you can reply to someone else's message. This shows up with an @ symbol before their Twitter name, and then shows up in their feeds so they can see it.
Here's another more detailed glossary of Twitter terms.)

Other Twitter Extras:

* You can post to Twitter from the web... but you can also set it up so you can send a text message from your phone directly to Twitter.
* Fancier phones like iPhones and Blackberries have Twitter applications, too.
* If you use Facebook, you can configure Twitter to post your status updates for you.
* You can add a little box to the sidebar of your blog that shows your most recent Twitter posts.

To complete Thing #12, here's what you have to do:
  1. Go to and click Sign Up Now! You'll then be prompted to put in your name, a username, a password, and your email address. It doesn't have to match your blog address or include your real-life name if you don't want it to.

  2. Once your account is all set up, follow the OCL Web Challenge Twitter feed. If you go to, just click Follow under the OCL logo. We'll follow you back!

  3. Post an update or two.
  4. Blog about your experience!

Feel free to follow more people on Twitter! Here are some of our suggestions:

OCL's own Nancy Marino:
The Asbury Park Press:
CNN Breaking News:
Library Journal:
School Library Journal:


Try out this list of the
50 Most Popular Celebrities on Twitter. Check out Lance Armstrong, George Lucas, Shaquille O'Neill, Britney Spears, or William Shatner.

WeFollow is another way to find new people to follow on Twitter. It's a directory of topics and people that are popular right now (this minute!) on Twitter (including more celebrities, musicians, bloggers, etc!).

PS. Here are a few helpful links related to job searching on Twitter. These may come in handy as we are so often helping customers with job searches lately...

The LIST: Companies Recruiting on Twitter (compiled by Susan Strayer, a well-known author on the topic of careers and job searching)

Feeds for Job Openings, Job Postings, and Job Leads around the world (there are a TON here, but if you scroll down to the list for the U.S., there's a lot of good stuff.)

Tweet My Jobs! is a site that compiles Twitter job postings into an easily searchable interface that looks a lot like more well-known job sites like Indeed. It organizes them by industry so it's easier to browse.

Thing #11 - Facebook

Week 5 is all about Social Networking. But why is social networking a part of this challenge?
First, check out this Common Craft video about social networking.

What is Facebook?
Facebook is considered by many to be the frontrunner (at least this week!) in the Social Networking scene. It started out as a site just for college students, but is now open to anyone, and chances are, you know more than a few people who are on Facebook, even if you aren't. There are all kinds of terms that have become commonplace thanks to Facebook - friending someone, writing on their wall, poking them, tagging people in your photos...

Basically, with Facebook, you create a profile page that can include information about you, what schools you went to, where you work (or none of that! It's up to you how much or how little you share). You can adjust the settings so that everyone can see this information, or only those you have designated as your friends. You can search for your real-life friends by their name, a school or workplace, or their email address.

Facebook allows you to share little updates about your life ("status updates"), which also show up in your friends' news feeds. (A news feed is a page you can view to see the most recent updates from all of your friends.)

To get started thinking about Facebook, take a look at these articles and lists.

Newbie's Guide to Facebook: CNET
This article gives you a pretty good description of what Facebook is and why you might want to use it.

Facebook Principles
These are Facebook's stated principles, and it will give you a better idea of what you can do with Facebook, as well as Facebook's own ideas about the freedom of information posted on the site.

How to Use Facebook: 5 Tips for Better Social Networking

Okay, so you're using Facebook. How can you get the most out of it? This article helps you get started.

Save Face on Facebook: Facebook Etiquette
How can you avoid being that annoying friend on Facebook? Here are some tips.

10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know
Facebook is all about sharing details of your life and connecting with others... this article will help you understand some of the important privacy settings to keep your information safe.

What do you think?
We're not requiring people to join Facebook for this part of the challenge. Instead, write a blog post about Facebook. Are you on Facebook? Why or why not? How do you think Facebook is changing how people interact with each other? What's your take on the privacy issues that surround Facebook?

Bonus for those who are on Facebook: Become a fan of the Ocean County Library. (Not required!)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Catch up Week - October 26 - October 30

There are no new things for the Challenge this week.  This is a chance to catch up and a chance for new players to join in the fun. 

If you are already caught up and can't stand not learning something new for a week, here are some suggestions:

Visiting the Microsoft support site and learning just a little something about Microsoft's Office 2007 (coming soon to OCL). (20 to 30 minute online course)

Learning about Gale Virtual Reference Library from the Branch Managers Challenge (yes, the Branch Managers have an ongoing Technology challenge of their own)

These two suggestions are completely optional, don't count for the challenge and are only for those who want to give them a try.

The next challenges will be posted October 30 for the week of November 2 - 6 so relax, catch up if you need to and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thing #10 - NetLibrary ebooks

There are free ebooks all over the Internet. Examples include Project Gutenberg and the classics available from the University of Virginia. Websites like these are great for out of copyright classics. There are many ebook websites including and where you can download new ebooks from bestsellers to textbooks for a fee. NetLibrary offers access to both out of copyright and new ebooks that are free to library customers who sign up for an account with their library cards from subscribing libraries. While NetLibrary offers audiobooks for downloading to libraries, the subscription that Ocean County Library gets through an arrangement with the NJ State Library only includes ebooks.

The new copyrighted titles available in NetLibrary depend on what each library choses so just as different libraries have different collections on their shelves, the NetLibrary collection from the State Library is different from a collection chosen by a library elsewhere. This collection tends to be heavy with business and computer titles.

Unlike the other electronic subscription databases, customers (and you) have to be inside a OCL location to sign up for an account. Once you have a free account you can use it anywhere but the first time you have to be inside one of our buildings using one of our computers (not a laptop using our wireless connection).

NetLibrary QuickStart Guide 


1. Go to our list of subscription databases about Books and Reading. Click on NetLibrary and sign up for a NetLibrary account. Remember you have to be inside a library building when signing up.

2. Find a book inside NetLibrary either through browsing or a keyword search. Learn how to move around the chapters and pages. Don't know what to search for? Try a basic search term like BUSINESS or COMPUTERS.

3. Blog about NetLibrary. Was it easy to use? Could you show a customer how to use it?

Optional Advanced Exercises:

1. For a different ebook experience, explore the classic reference books on including Respectfully Quoted, a great quotation book that was created by the Library of Congress. Even though this book was published in 1989, as a US government produced title it is free of copyright restrictions.

2. Visit Project Gutenberg and download a book to your computer. You can search for specific titles in a variety of ways or just browse the Top 100 Ebooks downloaded recently. If you're interested, you can subscribe to an RSS feed that will keep you informed as titles are added. Project Gutenberg has public domain audiobooks and digital sheetmusic, too. Hint: it is easy to find a downloaded file if you download it to the computer desktop but when you've completed this optional exercise, please delete the book from the computer. Too many unnecessary files on the desktop can slow a computer.

Thing #9 - WorldCat

WorldCat lets you search the collections of libraries both locally and thousands more around the world. WorldCat doesn't include every library but it is the largest collection of searchable titles in the world.

Items in WorldCat include

* Books
* Music CDs
* DVDs/videos
* article citations - sometimes with links to full text
* documents and photos of local or historic significance
* digital versions of rare items

WorldCat is a version of what our Interlibrary Loan department uses to find what libraries own items so the items can be requested for our customers.Resources:

About WorldCatWorldCat help and FAQs

WorldCat Advanced Search screen

1. Take a look around WorldCat and search a recent book title. Click on the title for more detailed information and in the Enter location box put in your home zipcode and click go. What's the closest library that owns the title?
2. Click on the different tabs on the screen for a individual title such as Details and Subjects to find what information is hiding under those tabs.
3. Go to the advanced search screen and play around with some searches, then blog about WorldCat. Do you think WorldCat will help you and your customers with the form below?

Optional Advanced Exercise:
1. Use the Ocean County Library catalog and search any New Jersey or Ocean County history topic. Pick a book with an old publication date (the older the better). Now search that title at WorldCat. See how many libraries are listed in WorldCat as owning that book. Can you find a title where OCL is one of 500 or less libraries that own it in the world? Or just search the Pauline Miller title, Ocean County: Four Centuries in the Making to see who owns a copy of our local history.

Thing #8 - a thing about LibraryThing

Are you a booklover? Do you enjoy finding lost and forgotten gems to read? Would you like an easy way to keep track of what you've read or want to read? Or, would you like a way of finding books by what they're about in a way that a standard library catalog just can't? Then LibraryThing may be just the tool for you.

What is Librarything? LibraryThing is an easy to use book catalog created by people in classic Web 2.0 fashion. LibraryThing also connects you with people who read the same things.

Add a book to your catalog by just entering the title and doing a little clicking. The LibraryThing tour explains the details. Then you add your own subjects or tags to organize your titles. The tags can be whatever you want: "Want to read", "Bookclub", "Recommend to grandchildren", "Books for Class" as well as more familiar subject heading like "Science", "Mystery", "Nonfiction" or "Cookbooks." Connecting with other users through your similar reading tastes is easy. LibraryThing tells you how many other LibraryThing users have your books. There are lots of other ways to use LibraryThing, too.

Libraries have started using LibraryThing. Small libraries are using LibraryThing to catalog their collections. Libraries are using the LibraryThing widget on their web pages to recommend books and list new titles. There is even a LibraryThing for Libraries available that works inside library catalogs, too.

So why not join the fun and create your own library online? With over 680,000 registered users and over 44 million cataloged books in LibraryThing as of September 2009, you're bound to discover something new.

Discovery Resources:

* About LibraryThing

* Library Thing tour

To complete this challenge:

1. Take the Library Thing tour around LibraryThing and then create an account. It is one of the easiest and quickest accounts to sign up for. You don't even have to give them an email. (Giving them your email is recommended because if you ever do forget your password, then they can help).

2. Add a least 5 books to your library. You find a title, click add to your library, then type in your subjects (called tags in LibraryThing) and save. Separate different tags with commas.

3. Go to the Search page on LibraryThing and do a Tag Mash search. A tag mash is when you search two subjects like sailing and mystery together (called a mashup). LibraryThing finds books with both subjects or as Librarything calls them: tags.

Tags assigned by LibraryThing users aren't as formal as Library of Congress headings but they often include topics in books that the LC headings ignore. So you can find really interesting connections and ideas on what to read next. This is great place to find that book a customer sort of remembers that had a detective who was a librarian! When you enter the terms in the Tags search box, separate the terms with commas: librarian, detective.

If you really want to learn everything about TagMash searching in LibraryThing there is a detailed help page but if you remember to separate search terms with a comma you should do fine. If you decide to try Library Thing's other search features, there is detailed help page for that, too.

Sample Tagmash search:

Some results from the librarian, detective TagMash

 4. Blog about your use of LibraryThing AND link to your LibraryThing catalog on your blog. How popular were your books? Did you find any discussions about your favorites?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thing # 7 - Beyond Google

Now that you’ve learned about some of Google’s other features, it is time to look beyond Google to other search engines. Some of the more interesting types are clustering search engines that organize your results in categories, specialized search engines that concentrate on specific topics, and social search engines that take user generated content to rank results.

To complete this challenge, you’ll visit two search engines, explore a bit and blog about each. When you explore, look for whatever help the website is offering to new users. It may be the example page offered by Wolfram/Alpha or FAQs or even a short video. Then try a few practice searches. In your blog posts, describe your experience and how or whether you’d use it in the future.

Here are some suggestions to try.

Clustering Search Engine

Carrot2 organizes your search results into topics. So if you search “Java,” the results will be grouped into sites about Java, the computer program, Java, the island and Java, a nickname for coffee. This might be one of the most useful non-Google search engines.

Social Search Engine

Worio adds sites to your Google results that you might miss with your regular keyword search. Look on the right hand side of your results for the Worio suggestions. Worio looks at sites you click on and sites you tag to make better guesses on what you’d be interested in. You don’t have to create an account but for the full Worio Social Search engine experience, a free account is needed. You can share your Worio with friends.

Specializied Search Engine

Wolfram/Alpha searches through the web and databases to answer mathematical and statistical questions. To get started with Wolfram/Alpha, go to its example page: and pick something that looks interesting.

A new Google Competitor

Bing is the new general search engine owned by Microsoft. Bing is promoted as being especially good for shopping, images, news, videos and travel information.
A very interesting site called Bing vs. Google runs your search against Google and Bing and displays the results side by side.

Here's a screen shot from Bing vs. Google where the search was Ocean County Library.


If none of the mentioned search engines look interesting to you or if you want to see more possibilities, go to the notes on the "Emerging Search Technologies Workshop" on OceanNet’s Reference Page for many more suggestions.

You only have to write a blog post for each of the two search engines you explored to complete this challenge.

Thing #6 - Google Advanced Searching

Even when you think you know how to search Google, there is more to know.

Limiting by broad domains
Domains are just broad categories of websites. What a website address ends in (.com, .edu, .org, .mil) tells you whether it is a commercial or educational or organization or military domain. Using the domain codes in google with the "site:" command you can can limit your results to a specific category of domains. (site:edu, site:gov, site:org, site:mil, etc.) or to specific sites: OR

This is a great way to get rid of commercial sites. Limiting to specific websites is very helpful when a site doesn’t have a search engine or the search engine isn’t very good. (It is always a good idea to use Google to search the State of New Jersey website. Just include along with your search terms.)

Limit your results to specific file types
Need to create a powerpoint on a topic? See what others have done by limiting your results to Powerpoint presentations.
To find powerpoint presentations, add filetype:ppt to your searches
To find Adobe pdf documents, add filetype:pdf to your searches

Practice Exercises:

Search a major disease like diabetes or arthritis or influenza in Google. Then add site:gov to the search. Compare results.
Try adding site:edu instead of site:gov to get results from college and university sites instead of government sites.

Use Google to search just within the NJ state website
Either command "" or "" will work.

Try these sample searches:

underground railroad

nj town names

Compare results with using the search feature on the NJ State website. Does Google with a site limit or the regular NJ state website search get better results? Did you find the 15 page pdf guide to NJ and the Underground Railroad or the great database for local NJ town names (Lacey & Forked River)?

If you’re looking for even more search options in Google, there is a quick guide at Google.

To complete this challenge, try the above sample searches and play around a bit with the advanced search features and blog about your results. If you use something you learned to help a customer that would be a great thing to blog about.

Thing #5 - Google Power User

As internet users we have a tendency to use Google routinely multiple times a day. Chances are that most of us are only using a part of what Google offers. Google is changing almost daily from adding small refinements to adding whole new services. One part of becoming a Google Power User is keeping up with Google. Another part of becoming a Google Power User is knowing where to go to find what is already available and how to use it.

For a quick introduction to Google’s extras, please read David Pogue's recent article from the NY Times: Geniuses at Play, on the Job How many Google features, services or tips mentioned in the article were new to you? To begin the challenge start by clicking About Google on the Google homepage.

Notice everything from the stories behind the Google Logos, to the Google Blog and a must for any aspiring Google Power User, Google Labs is linked here. Google calls Google Labs its technology playground where they try out new ideas.
Be sure to read about all the projects still in the Labs (even on the 2nd page!) and check out the links for the Google Labs alumni on the left of the page.

Books are available in Google Book Search fulltext, selections or snippet view (a few sentences before and after your search term) depending on the copyright restrictions. Use Google Book Search to get so much more out of your book collection than the subject headings in the catalog can possibly give.

To complete this Challenge, try out something from David Pogue’s article or from Google Labs and blog about what you learned.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thing #4 - RSS

The above video does a pretty great job of explaining what RSS is and what it can do for you. For this thing, we’re going to be using Google Reader, just like the guy in the video. (You won’t have to sign up for a new account with a different service!)

If you want some more info on RSS and Google Reader before getting to the tasks, here are a few things for you.
So, what are you going to do this week?
  1. go to Google Reader and sign in with your gmail credentials

  2. read the Welcome to Google Reader info that appears on your screen, it looks like this

  3. subscribe to a couple of feeds *

    Google Reader makes subscribing simple. I can click on the Add Supscription button and type in and immediately the headlines and news stories form ESPN are pulled into my reader. Sometimes, Google Reader won’t know quite what I mean. If I type the web address in the subscription box (e.g. it will pull something it thinks is right and ask me to confirm. Also, if the site has more than one feed (e.g. I will be faced with a list of choices.

    Alternatively I can grab a feed while visiting a site and add it to google reader. While on a site with a feed my web browser indicates one is available by turning the RSS icon orange [screen cap]. Clicking on that icon will takes me to the feed page. I then copy the address, go to google reader and paste the address into the add subscription box.

  4. write a blog post about your thoughts on RSS and/or Google Reader

* Feeds you might choose from:
OCL Connections

OCL Calendar of Events
Neil Gaiman's Journal
Meg Cabot's Diary
Give Em What They Want
at Early Word

Thing #3 - Web 2.0 Awards

So we've mentioned Web 2.0 a few times already in the challenge. You might be thinking to yourself, what exactly is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is the current trend in computer/internet technology that allows the user to create, share and distribute content to others. So what does that mean? Let's say you have a Facebook picture and you posted pictures from your vacation to your profile, allowing your friends and family to see what you did. That's an example of using Web 2.0.

Or you found a video that someone posted on YouTube of their pets doing something cute. That's another example of Web 2.0.

SEOMoz puts out their annual Web 2.0 Awards, which lists the top new online services ranging from genealogy resources to travel websites to even music and television. Here's a sampling of some of the award winners:
  • Hairmixer- A website where users can upload images of their face so they can experiment with their hairstyle without having to go to the barber/salon.
  • Yelp- A local guide where you can comment and review everything in your neighborhood, including what restaurants to go to or avoid, where the best laundromats are and what the best places to visit on your vacation.
  • BBC iPlayer- Have you ever wished you could watch some of the popular British sitcoms and dramas? BBC iPlayer is an online service that lets you watch all your favorite British television programs for free over your computer!
Your thing for this week is to explore the Web 2.0 Awards list and make a blog post about your experience using two services/sites you found out about.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thing 2 and Registering

So the Challenge team can share your progress and read your comments on the ongoing challenge, you need to have a blog.  For this year's challenge, you must have a blog created at (a Google service)

Set up your own blog on  and write your first post.

To add posts, edit or change the set-up of your blog go to

Please be sure to write down your login and password so you will be able to get back in.

To view your blog:
Your blog address is http://(xxxx)
 (xxxx)=the unique identifier you entered in Step 2.

Be sure to also write down your blog address. For example, this blog is

If you run into problems or would like more information about blogs and using Blogger here are some discovery resources you can use:
Bloggers Quick tutorial

IMPORTANT NOTE: How you choose to identify yourself on your blog is your choice. You can blog under a screen name, anonymously, or as yourself. However, in order to qualify for the staff prize drawings, you will need to register by emailing us at

To register your blog, you must send an email to with your blog’s URL. We will then add your blog to our blogroll that you see on the sidebar of this blog so everyone can see what progress you are making. This is an easy step and absolutely essential if you'd like to win a prize. (Because we're little rascals, we're keeping the prize under wraps, for now!)

Once you have sent an email to telling the Challenge team your Gmail address and your blog address you have officially completed the first two things in the OCL Web Challenge 2009!

Thing 1 Gmail Account

The first thing of the Challenge is easy.  You need to get a Gmail email account.  No other email account can be used in the Challenge. That includes your regular work email account.  You'll need a Gmail account later in the Challenge when you are introduced to other Google products and features.

Go to It's a popular, free email service with a lot of storage capabilities provided by Google.  Click on create an account. Follow the instructions and you'll have a new email account in no time.

Be sure to check out the tips provided by Gmail.  The address is

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Welcome to the  2009 Ocean County Library Web Challege. This educational journey will teach new technological tools. Last year, over 140 people finished our inaugral web challenge. The finishers each one a Sansa MP3 player. One overall winner won a Nintendo Wii.  Again, this year, there will be prizes for you to win.

Want to take the OCL webchallenge and learn to use new Web tools?   Are you interested in keeping up with technology trends?   Here is a chance to explore and expand your knowlege of the Internet and Web 2.0. You can learn on your own.

FAQ's or Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible?
Any OCL library staff member, who either didn't start the web challenge or who didn't finish.

If I started last the challenge, but didn't finish, am I still eligible to play?
Yes, we'd love for you to take and finish the challenge. However, if you already won a MP3 Player, don't fret..... we have planned a web challenge for you for later in the year.

What if I've already done some of these things?
That's great--- You are part way there! We are sure that you will find new things to learn and enjoy.

How do I get started?
Thing 1---The first thing you'll need to do is get a Gmail Account.  Here's how. First  visit :

What's in it for me?
In addtition to acquiring a healthy dose of professional development, everyone who completes the 23 things will win a prize.

What does the time line look like?
The web challenge will begin the week of September 28, 2009 and will conclude December 31st, 2009.

What's next?

Thing 2