Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Avatars are a fun way to personalize your postings on blogs, wikis and the like without having to come up with a reasonably good photo of yourself.

While some of my colleagues at Offline accused me of multiple personality disorder for having so many avatars, I do like to play around with them and change them to meet my mood.

My favorite avatar at the moment is the South Park character I created:

This is a librarian with an attitude. I like her because she sums up my perspective after working with E-Rate for so long. Send her to DC and she'll clean up the program.

You can create your own South Park character at South Park Studios

Try it, it's fun!

I've also created a Simpsons character.

You can blame Stephen Abrams for these creative wastes of time.

One thing about these is they're created in Flash so the avatar is not readily downloaded. I got around this by taking a screenshot - clicking the Print Screen or PrtSc key. This takes an image of the entire screen. You can then paste the entire screen image into a graphics program like MS Paint and crop it to get just the avatar. I'd save it as a JPEG file.

Finally, there are Yahoo avatars. You need to have a Yahoo account to create these. But there are lots of different outfits, hairstyles, backgrounds, pets, etc. This is one I created for winter - taking my penguin for a walk. You can use these all over the Yahoo site as well as export them to your web page or blog and/or download for use on other sites that use images.

The only one that I won't share is my Second Life avatar because I hate that one. As vain as it might be, it's the reason I won't bother with Second Life. I think my South Park avatar needs to go in there and get things in order before I'll spend any time there.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Offline Web Tools Presentation

Consider your needs and look for tools to best meet those needs.

Need #1 - for people to know that your library exists and can access some basic information via the web, e.g., hours, location, contact information.

Tool #1 - Web Page. For an easy way to create and update web pages try Google Page Creator. Go to Google Labs and select Google Page Creator from left hand column. Note, you'll need a Gmail account.

Examples of Montana libraries using Google Page Creator:
Need #2 - for people to be kept informed about what's going on at the library - events, new books, policy changes, etc.

Tools #2 - Web Page - good for occasional changes and updates.
Blogs - can be updated easily and frequently. Free blog software includes - Blogger and Wordpress

Examples of general info library blogs:
Need #3 - share information and expertise, e.g., staff updates, readers' advisory, community information.

Tools #3 - Blogs if you expect limited number to actively post and participate. Comments are open to all.
Wikis - if you want and expect wide and on-going participation. Free wiki software includes - Wetpaint and PBwiki.

Examples of Montana library information blogs:
Examples of Library Readers’ Advisory Blogs and Wikis:
Need #4 - promote special events and services, e.g., Teen Read Week, highlighting an author or genre.

Tools #4 - any or all of the above tools and Protopage. Protopage is a free tool which enables you to bring together web content in all kinds of formats - audio, video, RSS feeds, photos, web page content, etc. using customizable widgets.