23 Things Kansas 2010 by the Numbers!


23 Things Kansas 2010 is history.  23 Things Kansas – the blog is open and ready for anyone to use and learn by.   For 23 Things Kansas the numbers tell the story of the program.  We started with the numbers and hit Kansas like a “twister.”  Now you can use the numbers to judge our success.  (We already see it in the work of our learning pioneers.)  Take a gander and add your observations in the comments.

16 Mentors:
Heather Braum, regional library system*
Rebecca Brown, NNLM
Patti Butcher, State Library
LaDonna Clark, regional library system
Eric Gustafson, small public library director
Cindi Hickey, State Library
Brenda Hough, regional library system
Erin Downey Howerton, school liaison for a large, urban public library
David Lee King, digital branch manager for a large, urban public library
Royce Kitts, small public library director
Amanda McConnell, circulation coordinator for a medium sized, urban library
Janelle Mercer, regional library system
Sharon Moreland, regional library system
Chris Rippel, regional library system
Kim Rutter, regional library system
Diana Weaver, director of a small public library

*5 of the 7 regional library systems participated in the development of 23 Things Kansas.

14 Lessons
2 Wrap-up Webinars (44 participants)

584 program registrations

391 registered participant blogs!

106 pioneers completed the program.  Each earned 30 hours of CE credit for a total of 3,180 hours of CE credit awarded by the State Library for 23 Things Kansas.

Plus 3 colorful fLip cameras were awarded from a drawing of a pool of participants who completed the program.

We had fun, we learned and we made new friends along the way!

Week One: Blogging

Welcome to 23 Things! My name is Erin Downey Howerton, and I am excited to introduce everyone to our first activity: blogging. If you get stumped, please click on the “comments” link above to add your question. There might be others with similar problems, and I can answer you publicly in a follow-up comment so all can see & benefit. I am your guide for the week and will do my best to help you succeed!


If you’ve ever kept a diary or a journal, you know the basics of blogging. On a regular basis, you write new entries (we call these posts). Blogging serves much the same purpose as traditional journals, but they go one step further.  Blogs can be a place to reflect and organize your thoughts, and then your thoughts can be amplified by interaction with others via comments on your posts.  It’s a way to start a conversation with people who are interested in the same ideas you are!

Click on the triangle in the middle of the video below to watch a short explanation about blogging from CommonCraft.


Individuals and institutions blog to create a dialogue with their readers. For 23 Things, your blog will be the place where you keep a record of what you’ve experienced during the week. It will also give you a way to communicate with other participants.

Your blog will serve as a springboard into your own personal learning network (PLN), which will last far beyond the time we spend together doing 23 Things.

Blogging Platforms

There are many different platforms to choose from! Shop around and see which site appeals best to you.

SIMPLE and FAST: Try Posterous or Tumblr. These blog platforms are pared down and minimalistic. You can even create a post via email with Posterous! Choose one of these if you want to get off to a quick start.

(Note on Tumblr: You have to go thru a few extra steps to get comments working.  Check it out here.)

FULL-FEATURED and POWERFUL: Try Blogger, WordPress, Edublogs, or TypePad. Blogs created with these platforms are more versatile and can accommodate more customization. They have all the basic features, but also allow advanced users to tinker “under the hood” if that’s important to you. Choose one of these if you’re looking to kick it into high gear!

(Note: If your public library already has a KLOW site (My Kansas Library on the Web) you are using WordPress.  Selecting WordPress would be a good option if you’d like to become more familiar with the interface.)


Want a step-by-step tutorial? Watch this screencast where I walk you through creating a blog in Blogger. You’ll go through a similar experience no matter which platform you select.  (I used www.screencast-o-matic.com to create a quick, free screencast in my browser!)

Follow the next three steps:

1) Pick a platform that you like and create your own blog!

Posterous | Tumblr | Blogger| WordPress | Edublogs | TypePad

Please note: You need to have a separate, unique blog for yourself to use for 23 things.  Please don’t register your library’s blog, or a blog you’re using for some other purpose.  We will be looking at your blogs to see how you’re doing with each thing.

2)  When you are done, click here to register your blog address (URL) with us.

Your weekly blog entries will earn you continuing education credit (for those of you going through the whole program). We encourage you to register even if you are only taking part in selected units – you are part of our community too!

3)  Create your first blog post!

Tell us a little bit about who you are, what library you work for, and why you’re taking part in 23 Things. Since this is an official weekly post (you can write more than once a week if you want), please title it “Week One: Blogging” just like the post you are reading now.

In the following weeks, you will be writing about the other 22 things. Along with the assignments that your mentors will give you, consider the following blogging prompts:

  • What are your feelings (good and bad) concerning the tool of the week?
  • Have you had any breakthroughs? Any failures? What have you learned from them?
  • Create links to resources, other people’s blogs, or other useful sites on the web in order to connect your posts to the wider world (even if you’re only linking back to the 23 Things blog!).
  • Most importantly, visit a few other participants’ blogs and leave comments on their posts so you can start conversations.


What does a successful post look like? There are as many ways to blog as there are blogs themselves. Get a little inspiration from the bloggers below:

Week Two: Online Communities

Welcome to Week Two! We hope all of you enjoyed creating your blogs as much as we have reading them.

If you still haven’t completed the first lesson and set up your blog yet, you’re not too late! Follow the lesson from week 1, set up your blog, register the website address of it, and you’re still going to be fine. We’re all busy, and the great part about 23 Things Kansas is that the “deadlines” are very loose. Don’t forget to check out the blog listing to discover more people’s blogs to read and comment on.

This week you will be led by two mentors, Janelle Mercer and Heather Braum. Janelle is the Assistant Technology Consultant/Trainer at SWKLS and Heather is the Technology Librarian at NEKLS. If you get stuck please leave a comment at the end of this post by pressing the “comment” link at the top of this post.  Please don’t be shy! One of us, another participant, or a mentor will come to your aid as soon as we can.


This week we will focus on Online Communities which have revolutionized how people communicate with one another. Instead of calling all of your friends one-by-one to share some news (remember Telephone Hour in Bye Bye Birdie?) or emailing colleagues one-by-one or on a listserv to ask for help, you can now post a status update and update or ask all of your friends at once. You can share all kinds of information, including links, polls, quizzes, farms, pictures, and videos. There are lots of different Online Communities out there, including Facebook, WebJunction, LinkedIn, Ning, and Classroom 2.0.

The folks at Common Craft have provided a great introduction video to Online Communities and Social Networking, displayed below. It is hosted on YouTube; if you have problems accessing it, please view it directly at the Common Craft Social Networking page.

Helpful Terminology

Facebook Terms List

  • Friending/Connecting/Adding: finding people you want to connect with on your network. You ask to be someone’s friend and that person chooses to accept the request or not.
  • Status Updates: Where you describe what you’re doing, thinking, reading, feeling, or anything else you want to share with your network.
  • Applications: These are from websites outside online communities and add richer experiences to online communities.
  • Networks: different groups you join (towns, interests, schools, employers)
  • Pages: On Facebook, businesses and organizations create a profile & share events and information.
  • News Feed: A listing of your friends information, displayed in a running list. As people update their statuses, play a new game, share new pictures or videos you’ll see that information displayed in your news feed. The information comes to you. You don’t have to go to it.
  • Privacy Settings: The settings and preferences that you configure to determine how much information gets shared with others.
  • Chat/Messages/Comments: The power of online communities comes in the interaction your friends can have with you and your other friends through chatting, messages (like e-mail), and commenting.
  • Wall: The Wall is the center of your profile for adding new things, like photos, videos, notes and other application content. The Publisher at the top of your Wall allows you to update your status and share content through many different kinds of Wall posts. You can also add content to your friends’ Walls by using the Publisher box that appears at the top of their profiles.

Online communities are not without their risks and problems. Privacy is a very real concern to many people as they decide whether or not to join an online community. Facebook, especially, has been in the news lately because of changes in their privacy settings. One of the steps in this week’s lesson is to check out your privacy settings and become aware of what they mean.

Sharing – Productivity – Community

Online Communities help you connect and share with the people in your life, whether they are family, coworkers, or colleagues. Online communities are generally open to everyone and are used for both personal and professional networking. Retired from your library or move away? Through online communities, you can continue to be connected to your colleagues. Also, conference or workshop connections are no longer renewed once or twice a year; locate your conference friends on Facebook and stay in touch throughout the year, even if you’re on opposite sides of the state, the country, or the world.

Online communities also can increase productivity, as people share information, links, and resources. Information is quickly disseminated to you as people connect their online community accounts to their blogs, social bookmarking accounts, and RSS feeds. No longer do you have to search for useful resources. It comes directly to you. You can also ask questions of your online community, and people will respond back with helpful answers. You no longer are an island of one.

As Facebook is one of the largest online communities, we’ll be focusing most of this lesson on Facebook. If you are new to Online Communities, Facebook as a great place to start since it’s so popular and customizable.

Janelle and Heather have provided quick posts about how we each use Facebook. You are welcome to read them if you’d like more ideas/reasons for why we use Facebook. For a little bit more “visual” information on why Facebook, the great folks at Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library have developed a video on Why do Librarians Use Facebook? Thanks David Lee King! Check it out below (it is only hosted on YouTube; let us know in the comments if you can’t view it, and we’ll get creative to help you see it).

Online Communities Choices

What kinds of online community choices are available? Don’t worry, like we have said, you don’t have to belong to all of the Online Communities listed below. It’s all about what is comfortable for you and what you can get out of the communities. Here’s the list of different online communities we recommend you at least be aware of:


  1. Sign up for your Online Community of choice or just use one you already have joined. For those of you new to Online Communities, we again recommend you try Facebook. Here’s a helpful step-by-step guide to setting up your Facebook account the first time. There are more beginning Facebook guides, including instructions for where to update your settings and a brief overview of Friends and Groups. Complete your profile by adding a picture and filling in your profile information. Update February 4: The Facebook Homepage has been redesigned. Here’s an image that is a helpful guide to the changes. Click on the image again to increase the size after bringing it up.
  2. Review the privacy settings on your chosen Online Community and make sure the settings meet what you prefer. Check out this guide to privacy on Facebook.
  3. Find at least two other participants from the 23ThingsKansas community to connect to on your social network who you have not already “friended” on an Online Community. If you don’t know anyone yet, try finding people’s names that are on the Blog Listing.
  4. Explore your online community: write on friends’ walls, share links, update your status, etc.
  5. Write a new blog post on your blog reflecting on what you have learned this week, answering these questions:

    • What Online Community did you choose? What do you like most about it?
    • How have you used this Community? How do you see yourself using it in the future?
    • Can you see your library using this Online Community? How?
    • Add a link to your blog to your Online Community profile so others can find you.

Bonus Activities (not required)

  • Explore Mashable’s Facebook Guide to find out more about Facebook.
  • Find a Kansas library (public, school, academic, special) page on Facebook and become a fan. This is a great way to see how libraries are using Facebook to help promote their library.
  • Become a fan of 23ThingsKansas on Facebook and/or join the 23ThingsKansas Ning.
  • Join a Group on Facebook. Kansas Library Association is one group you should be able to find. See this resource for the difference between a Group and a Page.

Additional Resources

Week Three: Online Meetings

Hello 23 Things learners! My name is Brenda Hough and I am going to cover our third activity: online meetings. I worry that my lesson is going to be the “boring” one. We’ve talked about blogging being like a secret diary and Facebook is, of course, a way to do fun things like spy on your high school crush… how can a topic like online meetings compete?? I really do think this is an important technology, however, especially in a state like Kansas (with so many miles from here to there). I am your guide for the week and will do my best to make things interesting and to help you succeed!


Gas prices are high…
people are busier than ever…
and budgets are tighter than ever, too.
What are we to do?
Online meetings to the rescue!

You can sit at a computer in your library or home, put on a headset (they are a combination of headphones and a microphone and can be quite inexpensive), and connect with colleagues virtually anywhere.

This technology is having its greatest impact in the library world in the form of meetings for online learning, frequently referred to as webinars. Rather than driving a couple of hours or flying across the country to attend a presentation, a conference,  or a training session, there are now many opportunities to participate in high-quality online learning sessions.


When things are busy, it is easy to get bogged down in the day to day operations of our own library and to perhaps feel isolated from a larger library community. Being able to connect with others, however, revitalizes us, by providing support and new ideas.

Whether it’s an online meeting with other librarians in your area, a statewide informational session, or a national online conference, there are now more and more online opportunities for sharing ideas with others, which can make us more productive, and can enhance our sense of being part of a larger library community.

Online Meeting Tools

There are many online meeting tools being used today. Check out the list of Software and service providers that is part of this Wikipedia article. Right now, two popular tools being used by libraries in Kansas are OPAL and Wimba. I will talk about them in more depth later in this lesson. You may also have heard of ELMeR, which is a videoconferencing system being used in Kansas. ELMeR videoconferencing is somewhat different than the web conferencing we are talking about in this lesson, but if you want to learn more, there is information online.

If you are simply participating in an online meeting or webinar, then you just need to follow the directions sent to you by the organizer of the session. If you want to organize online meetings or webinars, then you will need to explore the various software options that are available to you — to find the one that suits your needs and is within your budget. This lesson will focus on participating in online meetings or webinars. Selecting software is beyond the scope of the lesson, but there are useful resources online.

Different online meeting or webinar platforms offer different features. Most allow you to see a speaker’s PowerPoint slides. Many allow you to see websites to which the speaker is referring. Text chat is also an important component of many online meeting software tools. Some tools even allow you to use video to see the participants in other places. One of my favorite things about online meetings, however, is the ability to record them so they can be viewed later. Missed a presentation or an online training session you were wanting to attend? No problem! Most likely the presenters were able to record it and will make that recording available.

Let’s explore a few previously recorded sessions now:

  • Infopeople is the training arm of the California State Library. They provide excellent webinars (many of them are free). Browse their list of archived webinars. Select an archived session to view (the George Needham and Joan Frye Williams sessions are some of my personal favorites). Infopeople uses Cisco’s WebEx software to provide webinars.
  • You probably are familiar with SirsiDynix as an automation system vendor, but did you know they also sponsor a series of free webinars? The SirsiDynix Institute webinars are very good. Browse their list of archived webinars. Select an archived session to view (the Stephen Abram’s session from 1/31/2008 on Twenty Five Technologies to Watch and How is very relevant for anyone participating in 23 Things Kansas). 23 Things Kansas mentor David Lee King has been a featured speaker in several of these webinars!
  • BCR is a familiar name to many people working in Kansas libraries. They provide a wide variety of training and services. There is a charge for most of their services, but recently they have started a Free Friday Forum series of webinars. Browse their list of archived sessions. Select one to view (I think Shelly Drumm’s technology sessions are especially good).

Watching archived sessions gives you a feel for the learning potential this technology holds. Participating in a live session provides opportunities for interaction (with other participants and with the speakers), but archived sessions provide time flexibility that is hard to beat.


As stated earlier in this lesson, Wimba and OPAL are two popular online meeting/webinar tools being used in Kansas libraries at this time. If you’ve attended a webinar hosted by the State Library of Kansas, then you most likely have used one of those tools. Every time you sign-up for or are invited to participate in a webinar, the organizer will provide instructions. I would never advocate memorizing how to use one particular tool. Just be flexible and ready to receive the directions that accompany any particular online meeting or webinar.

Last fall, Cindi Hickey from the State Library of Kansas and I facilitated an online creativity group using Wimba. Here’s an abridged version of the email Cindi sent out, promoting the session. I really just want you to note the Wimba instructions.

Brenda Hough will lead our first Kansas Creativity webinar tomorrow at....
You'll find instructions for joining our conversation at the end of this message.
Webinar instructions:
What you will need:
* A headset with microphone (preferred) or speakers and a stand alone microphone
* An Internet connection
To get ready and login
1. Go to http://webj.wimba.com/launcher.cgi?room=ks_adastra
2. Minimize the pop-up box and click on "run the Setup Wizard" in the right hand box to run the Wizard.
3. After you click the "Finished" button, maximize the login pop-up window and you should see
   "ks_adastra" as the room i.d.
4. Enter your name in the "Name box" then click on the orange "Enter" button.
5. It will take a minute or 2 to get into the room and get everything loaded.  When you hear the
   tones, you are ready to go.
6. If you need help:
Please call Cindi Hickey by 12:50 PM at 785-296-2146.

Anytime you participate in a webinar, you will receive detailed instructions like that. If you want even more detailed instructions for using Wimba, a participant guide is available. One tip: sign-in to online webinars at least 10 or 15 minutes early so you have time to troubleshoot if needed. Another tip: Just as the best way to troubleshoot a computer is to restart it, the best way to troubleshoot problems with a webinar are to sign out and sign back in. Final tip: Mel Brooks said, “Hope for the best. Expect the worst.” With online meetings and webinars, there are almost always problems (usually minor). Sound issues. Internet troubles. Etc. Being mentally prepared for that somehow makes it a bit less frustrating. And then, when the technology works and you’re able to participate in a great session, it’s all worth it.

You can view an archived Wimba session now:

You can view an archived OPAL session now, but you’re encouraged to attend a live webinar, too. Here’s the schedule of upcoming OPAL events: http://www.opal-online.org/progschrono.htm. Here are tips for first-time OPAL users: http://www.opal-online.org/firsttimetips.htm.

Your assignment this week:

1. View at least one archived webinar. Pick from any of the sources listed in this lesson (Infopeople, SirsiDynix, BCR, Wimba, OPAL).

2. Write a blog post about the webinar you watched. What was it called? Who hosted it? Was it useful information? In your blog post, also include your thoughts about online meetings and webinars in general. What do you think of the potential for this technology over the next 10 years?

3. At some point during the next few months, try to attend a live webinar. Some upcoming webinars that look interesting include: Technology Essentials 2010, How Green is my Library?, or Open Office: What Libraries Need to Know. During the week of April 26-30, we’re going to have wrap-up webinars as part of this project. If you haven’t had a chance to attend a live webinar before then, you’ll have the opportunity that week!

Be patient with yourself. Be patient with the technology.
Your 23 Things Kansas support team is here if you get stuck.
Good luck and have fun!

Week Four: Photo Sharing

Welcome to Week 4 – PhotoSharing! We are Royce Kitts and Patti Butcher. We’re going to have fun this week – we hope you will too! Please ask questions and we’ll do our best to guide you along the way.


Remember photo albums? How your mom kept everything organized – all your school events, family vacations, long-lost relatives? Well, photo-sharing websites do that-and MORE! You can upload pics, tag, organize, and share with just family and friends, or with the world. If you’re older (like Patti) you recall print photos, giant flash bulbs, “instant” cameras, and 16mm film. If you’re younger (like Royce) you are more familiar with digital photos and video, and online sharing.

In this week’s module we are going to focus on Flickr, but the basics of photosharing will be the same regardless of which tool you choose. To get started, click on the triangle in the middle of the video below to watch a short explanation about PhotoSharing from Common Craft.

Sharing/ Productivity/ Community

Individuals and institutions (like libraries!) share their photos for different reasons: to keep family members updated, to encourage interest in their library, so their photos are backed up, or because they enjoy getting comments on their photography.

For 23 Things, your photosharing project provides experience with digital photos, uploading, tagging, organizing – and an opportunity to create an account for your personal use OR an account for your library.

PhotoSharing Tools

All of these products work in much the same way – some offer more tools and options than others. If you already have an account with one of these photosharing sites, feel free to use your existing account for your project.

If you don’t have an account, we recommend Flickr to get started. Royce and Patti use several of these for different purposes. Your cell phone account may already be “connected” to one of these tools; you might check to see what options there are if you have a camera phone. We don’t want this to be too complicated!

Flickrpart of Yahoo! One of the largest and most popular photo sharing sites, you can tag your photos, comment on the photos of others, search by tag or user, create (or use) RSS feeds, download images in multiple sizes, form sets, establish groups for sharing among colleagues, use geotags (location information), and much more. Many other web-based applications have been developed for Flickr.

Picasa – from Google. Upload and manage your photos. Public albums are searchable through Google image searching.

Snapfish – from HP. Photo storage with the ability to organize, edit, and add borders, tints and other creative touches. with the additional ability to create “group rooms” where staff can add photos to one collection.

Shutterfly – In addition to being able to pick up your prints at your local Target, shutterfly offers an online community where you can share your work and see projects created by others as well as a blog full of ideas. Includes a section on digital storytelling. Shutterfly Share offers free webpage space and templates for showing and sharing your photos.

Kodak Gallery – Photo storage with the ability to organize, edit, and add borders, tints and other creative touches.

PhotoBucket – Another free site that includes photo editing, album sharing AND creating your own slide show. PhotoBucket is included in the Additional Tools section below if you want to create a slide show.


1. Watch our slideshow. Then proceed to the Activity of the Week.


Now it’s time to choose your project! Option A or Option B:
Option A.
1. Take a good look around Flickr and find an interesting image that you want to blog about. You can explore Flickr photos, search the tags, view various groups, and more without a Flickr account.

2. Use any keyword(s) (baseball, cats, library cats, library signs, Kansas library, whatever…) to find photos with those tags. When you find an interesting image or group, comment on your experience finding images, using Flickr, and anything else related to the exercise. Upload the image to your blog (be sure to credit the photographer). Don’t forget to include a link to the image in the post.

–OR– the more fun option

Option B.
1. Create a Free Account in Flickr (note that Flickr is now part of Yahoo! If you have a Yahoo! account for email or MyYahoo!, log in with that).
2. Then use a digital camera to capture a few pictures of something in your library, or begin to create a “virtual” library tour.
3. Upload these to your new Flickr account and tag at least one of the images with 23 Things Kansas. Be sure to mark the photo public.
4. Add one or more of your images to your blog. You can add the image in one of two ways:

Flickr‘s blogging tool (need a Flickr account to see the button) lets you click the Blog This button (right above the picture) and add any public photo on Flickr to your blog. Be sure to give credit to the photographer, if it is not your photo.   *Flickr Blogging FAQ*

Watch HeatherBraum walk you through how to set up this handy little tool on Flickr:

For blogger blogs http://www.screencast.com/users/hbraum/folders/Jing/media/8c2ae685-2960-4bb4-89e5-8dfbcea2bdfc

WordPress blog – Use the Upload/Insert tool above the Tool Bar, choose the Image icon (square in a square), and follow the steps to locate the file on your computer and insert the image into your post.

5. Once you have the photo uploaded and tagged, create a post in your blog about your photo and Flickr experience. Will you use Flickr for the library or media center, for your personal photos, or in another way?

Spend some time exploring the site and have some Flickr photo fun. Check out the Flickr App Garden. If you’re interested in looking at some other photo hosting and sharing sites, check out the EXAMPLE links below.

Keep in mind that when posting identifiable photos of other people (especially minors) get the person’s permission before posting their photo in a publicly accessible place like Flickr. Never upload pictures to your Flickr account that weren’t taken by you (unless you have the photographer’s consent) and always give credit when you include photos taken by someone else in your blog.


Photo Editing Tools


Photo Shop



Other Tools


Animoto – create your own slide show from photos, add text and music, remix, and post.

Creative Commons – Images on Flickr

Flickr Badges


SLK Photos (Flickr)

NEKLS Photos (Flickr)

Tonganoxie Public Library Festival of Trees (Flickr)

Library of Congress (Flickr)

In September, the Brooklyn Museum hosted Common Ground 2009: A Flickr Meetup with NYPL and the Brooklyn Museum

Week Five: RSS and Feed Readers


You’ve heard of RSS.

You’ve seen those small orange icons on web sites.

You’ve heard co-workers and acquaintances swear by it, but still have no idea what RSS is.

Well, you’re not alone.

RSS is not only revolutionizing the way news and content creators share information, but it is swiftly changing the way everyday users consume information.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is written in XML that works behind the scenes for sharing web content. It allows users to view updated web content with a “reader” (also called an aggregator), without visiting every web site looking for the new content. The RSS reader checks Web sites to which you have subscribed, and then displays new or updated content in your reader.

RSS feed readers come in four basic forms.

  1. Web-based sites (Bloglines or Google Reader).
  2. Delivered to your email inbox (With email software such as Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, or through Web sites like Feed My Inbox.)
  3. Built into Web browsers (Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer)
  4. As standalone programs downloaded to your computer (SharpReader or RSSOwl)

This module teaches Bloglines at http://www.bloglines.com/, Google Reader at http://tinyurl.com/yfnrwmu and Feed My Inbox at http://www.feedmyinbox.com/ .

Sharing and Productivity

RSS feed saves your time:

  • In keeping up with the news by collecting headlines for you to scan, with links to the full articles.
  • Broadcasting to others headlines of articles you post on your Web sites or blogs.

RSS in plain English (3:45 minutes) is an amusing explanation of the value of RSS feeds.

Tools for your consideration

Google Reader
Feed My Inbox
These aggregators maintains RSS feeds on Web sites. Since it is a Web site, it is available from any computer attached to the Web. They do not clutter your email inbox with RSS feeds. Feed My Inbox is a Web site that delivers up to five RSS feeds to your email inbox. Delivering feeds to your inbox is advantage to people who forget to check Bloglines for long periods and, when they remember to check, find hundreds or thousands of feeds to scroll through.
Both have searchable databases of thousands of RSS feeds. This makes finding feeds easy. For example, searching Bloglines for “librarians” retrieves a list of 213 RSS feeds for librarians. From this list, it is easy to subscribe RSS feeds to you can read through Bloglines or Google Reader. Feed My Inbox does not have a searchable database. Instead give “Feed my inbox” a URL, i.e., Web address, to a Web site. Feed My Inbox finds all RSS feeds associated with the Web site and lists them so you can choose which ones you want to subscribe to. For example, give Feed My Inbox “http://www.dilbert.com/” and it displays two RSS feeds: “Dilbert Daily Strip” and “Dilbert.com Blog”. Click the check box(es) beside the RSS feed(s) you want and click “Confirm.” “Feed by inbox” sends a confirmation email requiring your response to subscribe to the feed.
Use Web-based aggregators to subscribe to RSS feeds you want to browse once a week, once a month, or whenever you have time. Use Feed My Inbox for up to five RSS feeds you definitely want to see when it is posted on your favorite Web sites.

Tool instructions

Written directions

  • Using Bloglines is an illustrated guide: sign-up, subscribing to feeds of various sorts.
  • Using Bloglines Tutorial gives step-by-step instructions: creating an account, logging in, finding RSS feeds, adding feeds, uploading an OPML file to Bloglines.

Google reader

Written documents

Feed My Inbox

  • Verbal explanation of “Feed My Inbox”
  • Feed My Inbox Bookmarklet” demonstrating a bookmarklet which speeds the process of creating RSS feeds with Feed My Inbox. Bookmarklets are buttons you can add to your bookmarks toolbar. Bookmarklets can do really cool things.

Written directions

Action Activities Do one on the following activities.

Activity #1 (Receiving RSS feeds)

  1. Decide which RSS feed method you want to try.
  2. Follow the videos and read the written documents to subscribe to 2 RSS feeds.
  3. Post on your 23 Things Blog a paragraph explaining how you chose a RSS feed reader and listing the feeds you subscribed to.

Activity #2 (Telling others how to get the RSS feeds from your Web site that has an RSS feed link.)

  1. If your Web site or blog has an RSS feed link on the home page, create a bookmark with instructions telling patrons how to use Bloglines, Google Reader or Feed My Inbox to subscribe to the RSS feed.
  2. Pass the bookmark out to your patrons.
  3. Post on your 23 Things Blog the instructions on the bookmark.

Activity #3 (Putting a FeedMyInbox form on your Web site for people to receive feeds by email.)

  1. If your Web site or blog has an RSS feed link on the home page, right click that link and left click “Copy link.”
  2. Go to http://www.feedmyinbox.com/feeds/formCode/
  3. Paste the copied link into the box and click “submit.”
  4. Highlight and copy the code.
  5. Paste the code on the side bar of your Web site or blog. This displays a form. People type in their email address and receive your RSS feeds in their email.
  6. Tell people about it on your blog.
  7. Post the story on your 23 Things Kansas blog.

Week Six: Tagging and Social Bookmarking

Welcome to Week 6 – Tagging and Social Bookmarking. This week’s thing is presented by Rebecca Brown, liaison for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine at KU Med Center, and Amanda McConnell, Circulation Coordinator at the Lawrence Public Library. We hope you enjoy our thing! Please ask questions and we’ll do our best to help you along the way.

Click here for the 23 Things Kansas Guide to Delicious (PDF will open). This guide will give you all the instructions you need to complete the activities of the week.

Introduction – This week we are going to concentrate on social bookmarking, tagging and a popular social bookmarking site called Delicious.  Bookmarking on your computer or adding sites to a list of “favorites” to access again later, is not new.  Social bookmarking, stores your bookmarks online, allowing you to have access to your bookmarks from any computer with Internet access.

Tagging is an informal method of organization. A tag is a keyword, and tagging is the process of assigning a keyword to online content such as web pages, images, and blogs, etc. Unlike library cataloging, which follows a strict set of guidelines (ex. Library of Congress Subject Headings), tagging is non-hierarchical, unstructured and free form. It allows users to create connections between resources anyway they want.  You can quickly search your bookmarks using keywords that you assign.

View a 3 minute and 22 second video created by Common Craft, that gives a visual, easy to understand (and funny) explanation of social bookmarking.


Sharing and Discovery– In addition to the timesaving and convenience of an online bookmark manager, social bookmarking really shines when it comes to sharing and discovery. I refer to social bookmarking as bookmarking for the greater good.  I share, you discover. You share, I discover.  It can become a powerful research tool as you find new resources, popular resources, and people who may be interested in similar topics.  Click here to see a list of schools and libraries that use Delicious.

When I first heard the term social bookmarking a number of years ago, the use of the word social made me a little nervous.  I wondered if I was going to have to talk to strangers or mingle.  No, there is none of that with social bookmarking, and you don’t have to be social if you don’t want to.  If you choose to do so, you can make the bookmarks that you save on Delicious, viewable by the world. So, when I save a bookmark with the tag low_literacy, Delicious will show me how many other Delicious users have bookmarked the same site with the tag low_literacy Here’s an example of being social in Delicious.

I discovered that being social could be a very valuable thing. In a sense, I do mingle with others, but in a solitary way. I refer to it as guided discovery. Instead of clicking on links willy nilly, I am clicking on links bookmarked by people who have the same interests as me (indicated by the tags they have used; low_literacy in this case). When you click on the number in the little blue box next to the site you bookmarked, a door is opened where you just might discover resources that you were unaware of. Watch a short video about sharing and discovery.

Collaboration—Many libraries use a social bookmarking tool as a central place to gather and organize information at the Reference Desk.  Here’s an example from my library.  Another library application would be my use of delicious as the library liaison to the department of Health Policy at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Click here to view the account and subject guide for that department.

Privacy—Sharing is great, but not always desired.  For your personal, non-work related bookmarks, Delicious gives you the option to make them private. Here’s an example of using the Privacy setting.

Another option is to have both a work and a personal account.  If you are signed into your personal account and you find a site that you feel would be good for the library account, you can use the Send option to send the site to the library account. Here’s an example of sending a bookmark. As long as you know the Delicious username, you can send a site to anyone (even if you don’t know them personally). Now, I realize that last sentence might send up some red flags, but I found this to be harmless. If you send someone a site, it will arrive in their Inbox, and the user has the option of saving it (with their own choice of tags) or deleting it.

Tools for your consideration

Delicious, formerly know as del.icio.us, has been on the scene since 2003.  However, it is not the only social bookmarking utility in use.  Browse these sites for other examples of social bookmarking at work:

Diigo—Diigo (dee-go) is similar to Delicious in many ways.  One of the special features of Diigo is it’s capability to easily highlight, annotate, and add sticky notes to sites that you bookmark.  Check out how Bob Martin, Technical Trainer with the University of Missouri puts Diigo to use. On the first page you see his list of resources and use of tags.  Click on “Annotated” to see one way you may highlight a particular aspect of a resource.  Then click on one of the other tabs – networks, groups, and profile to get a quick tour of Diigo and how it can be utilized.  This 6 minute video provides a good introduction to using Diigo.

Citeulike—This tool is a hybrid between social bookmarking and a bibliographic manager (like Zotero, EndNote, or Reference Manager).  Its primary use is to tag and organize scholarly papers.  Use the search box on Citeulike’s main page to find users who have bookmarked papers on a topic of interest to you.

Stumbleupon— On the lighter side of things, stumbleupon is a great find for discovering sometimes random resources.  Visit Stumbleupon, select a category that interests you, and then “Start Stumbling”.  Each time you click on the Stumble! Button in the top left corner, you’ll “see” a new website someone has shared.

BlinkList— Blinklist describes itself as “like itunes for web pages.”  Visit the Blinklist website to see another utility that allows you to save and organize the web pages that you want to find again.

Tool Instructions

Click here for the 23 Things Kansas Guide to Delicious (PDF will open). This guide will give you all the instructions you need to complete the activities of the week.

Activity of the Week

  • If you don’t already have a Delicious account, consider opening one (optional)
  • After registering for an account, upload the bookmarks from your browser (optional)
  • Tag a site for yourself and send it to me too, using my username, rbrown3, in the Send area.  (see Send instructions in guide)
  • Make a bundle (see Tag Bundles in guide)
  • If you don’t want to open a delicious account, search for resources in delicious using keywords of your choosing.  See if you can discover some new or interesting resources.
  • Post a comment on your blog about your Delicious experience. Share your Delicious username if you would like.  Share how you see it fitting into your work and personal life.

Week Seven: Microblogging

Welcome to Week Seven of 23 Things Kansas! Time sure is flying by. If you find yourself behind in the lessons don’t stress. You have plenty of time to catch up and complete the lessons as you can. Microblogging — with mostly a focus on Twitter — is on the plate for this week; Heather Braum and Janelle Mercer will be your guides for the week.


Microblogging is a type of blogging, with posts normally very short or limited. Twitter is the most popular tool, with a posting limitation of 140 characters or less.

Here’s what the folks at Common Craft have to say about Twitter in Plain English:

(video hosted on YouTube). Visit Common Craft to watch the video there.

Twitter started as a way for people to post “what you’re doing”. But it’s now being used for much much more, including sharing articles and resources; following real-time events and conferences; connecting with librarians and friends; sharing and viewing pictures; following the news, weather, and road conditions; talking to companies; and answering reference questions.

Many people worldwide became aware of Twitter last summer, as protests over the Iran election results occurred, and the Internet became the only way for news to reach the world in most cases. While these events were going on, Clay Shirky was speaking at a TED event at the U.S. State Department on How Social Media Can Make History. I highly recommend you watch his speech, as it illustrates the power of social media around the world.

To help you become more comfortable with Twitter, here are a few terms to be familiar with:

  • Tweet: a posting on Twitter.
  • Twitter handle: your screenname/username on Twitter.
  • Reply: “@23thingsks hello….” sending a public message to another Twitter user or responding to another user’s Tweet.
  • RT @23thingsks: This is a retweet, a reposting of someone else’s Tweet.
  • DM: Direct Message, a private message to another Twitter user.
  • Timeline: The stream of Twitter posts by those you follow.
  • Followers: Those following you on Twitter.
  • Following: Those you follow on Twitter.
  • #23thingsks: Example of a hashtag, the # sign followed by a word or phrase; it’s a way to categorize tweets, especially among users following the same event.

Sharing and Productivity

Twitter and other microblogging tools are the ultimate sharing tools. Share your information about your day, notes from a conference or meeting you’re at, links to articles you’ve read, news events, and other information. As you follow people, you’ll get information shared with you. This increase of information sharing leads to increased productivity. People always ask, how do you find time to keep up with Twitter and other tools? My response is that these tools make me more productive. Because of the network I’ve built on Twitter, lots of information comes to me, information I never would have time to look for, but did need.  Also, I’ll ask questions on Twitter and people respond with helpful answers and solutions.

This network of people is a community. Many of the people I follow on Twitter are librarians, educators, and technology leaders from around the world. I never would have a chance to speak to, listen to, or talk to many of these people in person, but with Twitter, I can do this; and many times these people will talk back! I get to see what people like Tim O’Reilly, Buffy Hamilton, Joyce Valenza, and the folks at Mashable are reading and saying, thanks to what they share on Twitter. Furthermore, I connect with a lot of librarians around the world, and learn from them. Many I’ve met in real life, but many I have not met in real life; yet, because we share the same profession and interests of librarianship, we are able to connect and learn together. Many people call this community of Twitter followers a professional learning community (PLC) or professional learning network (PLN). See this handout (PDF) for a deeper look into what PLNs are, if you’re interested.

Sidenote: People often wonder how you can manage to not struggle with information overload, especially with a network like Twitter. My advice is to let go of being able to read everything and keep up with everything; take in what you can and leave the rest. If something is important enough, plenty people on your network will post it and you’ll see it. Once you take this plan of attack, you won’t feel quite so overwhelmed.

Tools for your consideration

  • Twitter: the most popular microblogging tool.
  • Plurk: another microblogging tool. Many educators in Kansas and around the world use this tool. It works much like Twitter, with a few differences; 23 Things Kansas participant Janet Reynolds is a great Plurk user to learn from.
  • Friendfeed: an aggregator of many online sites, including Delicious, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr; but you can follow other Friendfeed users, to see all online activity in one place.
  • Tumblr: some people are using this as a blog site; but Tumblr is also considered a microblogging tool.
  • Posterous: some people are using this as a blog site; but Posterous is also considered a microblogging tool.
  • Google Buzz: this is the newest microblogging tool, released in the last two weeks by Google. The jury is still out on Buzz, and while you definitely can use it, I highly recommend you take a look at these two articles on privacy and Buzz; both include instructions on how to turn off Buzz. Unlike the previously mentioned tools that have privacy settings that are built-in and easy to find, Buzz is not quite so simple. Maybe Google will get better about its deployment and settings, but I am wary of Buzz at this time.

Tool Instructions and Activity

  1. Sign up for one of the tools listed above; for those of you new to Microblogging, I recommend Twitter since it is so widely used.
  2. Choose to make your account public or private as part of the signup process. Making your account private means people have to ask to follow you before they can see your tweets.
  3. Find people to follow on Twitter. Here are some people to follow, to get you started:
  4. Leave your Twitter (or tool of choice) screenname in the comments area below so others can find you. Make sure you leave your screenname and the site you’re using.
  5. Start posting on Twitter (or your tool of choice) and interacting with other users. The power of Twitter (and other networks) comes in the back-and-forth conversations you can have.
  6. On your blog for the week, answer the following questions:
    1. What do you think about using one of these microblogging tools?
    2. Did you find it easy to find people to follow, especially after a list of examples was given?
    3. Who are three people or organizations you starting following this week and why did you follow them? Have you found their posts helpful?
    4. What kinds of uses do you see you might have for microblogging? Have you already found some uses for it?
  7. Bonus Activity: Use the hashtag #23thingsks on some of your tweets this week. They will then appear in the sidebar of the 23 Things Kansas blog, as well as here. Note: only tweets from public Twitter accounts will show up here.

Further Resources

Week Eight: Cloud Computing

Welcome to Cloud Computing! My name is Diana Weaver and I am your guide this week along with Erin Downey Howerton. Being somewhat of a nature girl, I’ve found that cloud computing is a topic that lends itself well to nature metaphors (and bad puns – so, I’m apologizing in advance). For example, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.” We could also say, “Technology is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.” Cloud computing has many formations (I warned you about the bad puns) and is always evolving and changing. But there are some basic similarities and constants that you will learn to recognize as you become more familiar with various tools.


This week’s topic is almost as wide as the horizon, but I will try to condense the information. Cloud computing is a concept. Think of “cloud” as a metaphor for the Internet. “Computing” is, of course, what we do with our computers. So, cloud computing is doing what we usually do with our computers – only we do it over the Internet. When you are cloud computing, instead of using the machine on your desk or in your lap, you’re using remote (non-local) computers for computing. Even though you are using a computer to access information or perform tasks, if you are “in the cloud” you are actually tapping into shared resources (like programs and applications) via the Internet.

There are thousands of examples of ways we use cloud computing, all the way from online shopping to social networking to storing business data. It gives us great opportunities to share documents and projects in a single space. It allows, and encourages, co-creating and collaboration on projects no matter where the participants might be – in the same building or miles apart.

Another silver lining of cloud computing is lower costs because expensive software does not have to be purchased for each individual machine; instead, similar software can be used through the Internet. I have listed some examples below. Cloud computing also reduces the need for expensive hardware, like local servers. This video from Common Craft explains cloud computing advantages for businesses.

The article and videos in Cloud Computing Hunt will also help clear things a bit. Don’t miss the video clip embedded in the article. It shows a CNN interview of the article’s author and has a good discussion of some of the security issues involved with cloud computing. Security concerns and the possibility of limited access or data loss are things we should keep on our radar when we are computing in the clouds. We should also always keep in mind the rule of LOCKSS (Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe).

Sharing and Productivity

Once you’re familiar with what cloud computing is, you will probably realize that you’ve already done some computing business there. If you’ve bought something from Amazon or eBay, you’ve been shopping in the cloud. As a participant in 23 Things Kansas, you’ve had your head in the clouds since January! All of these technologies – blogs, online communities, online meetings, photo sharing, RSS feeds, tagging, and microblogging – take place in the cloud. The server that hosts all our KLOW websites is now in the cloud, making it safer from malicious hackers. Online banking is another example. See if you can think of more.

Tools for your consideration

Here are some alternative software tools that are available free on the Internet. Most have tutorials, FAQs, or videos that explain how they work. This is just a very brief list – if you know of others, share your favorites in the comment section of this post.

Keep in mind that one of the most valuable and important things about cloud computing are the many opportunities for collaboration with other users. The tools listed above can all be used to share ideas and collaborate on projects. A very useful example is Google docs. Common Craft has a great video that explains how this works.

Tool Instructions and Activity

Okay, so the whole idea of this week’s lesson is to experience collaborating in the cloud with others on a single project. Here are some suggestions. Once you choose a project, invite at least ONE new 23 things friend and at least ONE current work/school colleague to use a tool with you. If you need a list of email addresses for Kansas Librarians, try the Kansas Library Directory. Or, better yet, just go to the 23 Things blog roll and post a comment to someone’s blog. Ask them to join you in your project.

Remember Emerson, technology “is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.” For most cloud computing collaboration tools, the “always the same” are:

  • one person will need to sign up, usually by setting up a login and password
  • that person will need to share by inviting others (sometimes done by managing settings or defining permissions)
  • the invitees will need to accept the invitation

Have fun creating something together and then share your experience through your blog.