Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Drupal - The next BIG thing!

So what is Drupal, you say? Drupal is an open source content management platform powering millions of websites and applications. It’s built, used, and supported by an active and diverse community of people around the world. In "non-geek speak" that means - "it's a tool that we use to build websites"!

Last week I attended a class in Front End Development of Drupal as well as Capital Camp DC, which was a conference with about 275+ techies who learned all things Drupal!

3 things I learned:
- Drupal has some of the coolest websites out there and it's fairly simple to use. Here are some of the sites across the world, including many of our government websites: http://drupal.org/success-stories | http://www.whitehouse.gov | http://www.capitalcamp.org
- The White House uses the American public to help with its site as "contributors"! It's about "open-government" and Drupal is an "open-source" product where everyone contributes to the product.
- Because Drupal has a large community of contributing developers, the content continues to get robust with each module. Anytime the module needs to be fixed, many developers help to fix it so that it will work for everyone. A great example of how everyone contributes to the success of the product. It doesn't belong to any one person, it belongs to all of us.

1 thing I squared away:
- Drupal is the way to go for a Content Management Systems. I've always been kind of scared of open-source because you have to rely on documentation from other developers. But after attending the conference, I realized that everyone is willing to help. It's not about one person, it's about the overall success of Drupal. I connected with a few people and all of them are ready to dive in and help me to make it happen. Yay!!

Things I need to work on:
- Getting Drupal 7 installed and working on our server. I currently have Drupal 6 running on our server, but it's always been something that I struggled figuring out. Turns out that's what they fixed in 7 so now the new version is easy, peazy! Or so, that's what it looks like. They demo'd putting a site up for a Book store in 20 minutes with images, a checkout and navigation.

I can do this, I really can do this! :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

ALA New Orleans

ALA 2011, held in New Orleans, Louisiana, was a pretty exciting event in my career as a librarian. Not only did I get to eat some really amazing food (I see that food seems to be a popular topic when it comes to discussing this year's ALA), but I got to meet smart, funny, interesting, innovative library people from all around the world. By "library people", I mean people who work for libraries, sell things to libraries, design things for libraries, or just plain love libraries. Not everyone there was a librarian, but everyone had something to share about the libraries of the future. Because I haven't totally had enough time to process my experience in a full write-up, I'll just dish out some quick observations:
  • I met Nancy Pearl!!! Nancy Pearl, people!!! She's like the rockstar of library world!!! I met her first at her book signing, though sadly I did not win her autographed copy of Book Lust to Go. I met her a second time when she facilitated the session I attended called "Libraries and Bookstores: Strange Bedfellows" where library and bookstore leaders discussed joint partnerships in several communities that have benefited both industries.
  • Librarians can go anywhere and do anything! I met a lot of really great librarians who work in some truly unexpected places; from a librarian who worked for Sears.com (her job was to make up those handy dandy categories that you use for finding items when you're shopping online) to a Canadian librarian who traveled around with rural Native tribes studying how local library services are utilized by tribal populations. There really are opportunities for librarians in every industry.
  • It's true, I do not like crawfish.
  • Library technology is a very exciting industry, similar in many ways to designing things for space or time travel. The technology, the machinery, and the innovation that takes place make our jobs easier and sleeker, but also helps us to remain relevant in people's daily lives by addressing their technological and social needs. From book vending machines (think Redbox with books) to mobile access libraries to machines that turn pages for you to chairs that look like they are straight out of the Death Star, library technology is full of the wild and wonderful. Even my husband was amazed by some of the high-tech stuff when he was wandering around the exhibit hall on his own.
  • Bourbon Street smells terrible, but not terrible enough to keep the crowds away.
  • How many times have patrons made comments about how difficult it is to find things because we don't organize our shelves like Barnes & Noble? There is a new way of cataloging called the C3 system that combines the best of bookstore classification systems with a more updated version of call numbers that make it faster and easier for patrons and staff to find items on their shelves. The Markham Public Library in Canada has debuted the system to great success and the patrons seem happy too. Hearing about innovations like these definitely makes you stop to think about how many systems are being used today that are really obsolete.
  • The social media wave is definitely washing over libraries everywhere. Most of the Q & A sessions were conducted via Twitter!! Librarians discussed the pros and cons of staff marketing via Facebook and MySpace. Sessions presenters always included links to where to where they could be found online. The conversations almost always continued after every session, not only in the rooms or in the hallways, but online! Everyone was tweeting! The ALA tag #ALA11 was even briefly trending on Twitter. That's what happens when you put 11,000 librarians in a building together and let them use smart phones!
  • Food will never taste as good again...
I did and saw (and ate) so much, that this little synopsis barely does my experiences justice, but I can definitely say that being in the company of so many enthusiastic and innovative library people makes me very optimistic and excited for the future of our profession. I would like to thank everyone in the Allegany County Library System who made it possible for me to have this opportunity including the administration and my coworkers and substitutes who covered my shifts, as well as Western Maryland Regional Library for funding staff development opportunities like this one. If any of you ever get the chance, it truly is something worth experiencing.