Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sound: #27: Creating Your Own Podcast

This post is a challenge exercise - it is not necessary for HCPL staff to complete it for training hours credit.

A brief review

Those of you who completed the first iHCPL program might recall learning about podcasts and adding a chosen podcast to your RSS feeds. For anyone new to the program, a podcast is a syndicated audio broadcast that can be played on any MP3 player (the word comes from combining "iPod" + "broadcast"). When you subscribe to the RSS feed for a podcast, you receive automatic downloads of new content as it is made available online. Podcasts are available on a wide range of topics, just like blogs in audio format. Use Yahoo! Podcasts or Podcast Alley to find podcasts of interest to you. Many libraries are taking advantage of this format to appeal to teens, to tell stories, to promote or archive programs or to give a human voice to book reviews.

Making your own podcast

Like most any other tools, online podcast tools range from the relatively simple to the more advanced, which often require downloading software. So that this exercise is accessible to everyone, whether or not you have a microphone for your computer, we are going to use a service that allows you to record your podcast through the telephone. Gabcast offers up to one hour of recording for each episode (up to 200 MB of space) with a free account. To get started:

  1. Create a new account. Enter your personal e-mail address and password and add your avatar, if you choose. You do not need to enter a web site address. You will receive a confirmation e-mail after registering. Just follow the link and begin.
  2. When you get to your account page, click on "create a channel," then click on "My Channels" to get the number assigned to your channel.
  3. Call the 800 number listed for the US at the right hand side of the page. You will be asked for you channel number and your password number.
  4. Record your podcast! You will have the option to listen to your recording or to publish. When you are ready, select publish.
  5. Return to your online account and select play to listen to your podcast. You can also edit the title and add tags for the episode.

For those of you who would like to explore other podcasting options, take a look at using the Odeo Studio for podcasts or use the podcasting tutorial at Feed for All.

Discovery Exercises

  1. Follow the steps above to create a Gabcast podcast on any topic of your choice.
  2. Write a blog post about the process of creating a podcast. You may choose to post your podcast in your blog.

For HCPL Staff

Have you completed all four posts in this module? Then Submit your Registration of Completion

This post was brought to you by Linda Stevens, Kathy Knox and Mark Haywood.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sound: #26: Making (or listening to) Music Together

Since we learned about the basic 2.0 tools in the original iHCPL program, we can now add to the fun by starting to mix some of them together. This post is about combining social networking and music in a couple of different ways. First, we will take a look at sites that connect people through similar tastes in music and then we will explore sites that connect people making music and allow them to collaborate.

Sharing Musical Tastes

MySpace started as a site to help connect bands with listeners and fans with other fans, but the site grew so huge that the social aspect is now the main draw. Quite a few newer sites are still centered around the music aspect. Mog is a site created specifically to link people together based on the music they like. The "Mog-o-Matic" is a downloadable application for Windows or Mac that tracks what you're listening to on the computer and adds it to your Mog page. Imeem and Project Playlist are other sites that are based around sharing music with friends. Phling! is a service that allows you to access audio from your PC on your mobile phone and share it with friends. Qloud allows you to add a "my music" component to your existing social network account in Facebook or Friendster.

Creating Music Together

There are music sites that allow musicians to play together even if they are miles apart, but we are going to focus on sites for beginners. Splice is a good music creation site to start with, since it is free to join and use and there is nothing to download. Splice lets you upload and record sounds, compose songs, listen to music and much more. Songs are rated and ranked by the site's network of users.

ccMixter is a music remix site based around material licensed under Creative Commons agreements. David Byrne and The Beastie Boys have allowed some of their music to be used on this site. JamStudio is a site set up to create your own songs by choosing from different set up options, which can then be saved and e-mailed to someone for editing. It is billed as "the online music factory."

Discovery Exercises

  1. Take a look around several of the music networking sites and compare notes on what they offer.
  2. Either sign up for an account with one of the sites listed under "Sharing Musical Tastes" or create a song using JamStudio.
  3. Write a blog post about your discoveries.

This post was brought to you by Linda Stevens, Kathy Knox and Mark Haywood

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sound: #25: Am I a music pirate? It's hard to know...

In the last post, we discussed downloading a song to your PC or MP3 player. In this post we will take a look at the legalities surrounding digital music, briefly tour library copyright basics, and copy a music file to CD.

What exactly are you allowed to do with music you have obtained legally? How do you know you have obtained it legally?

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), you're safe with these sites. They also have a list of rules to follow for legally using music files you find online and explanations of the law. While you would be most safe in following their rules, it is important to note that they represent the record industry, and not everyone agrees with the RIAA. Many, many groups oppose their conclusions and their methods of enforcement in an ongoing debate.

What is DRM?

Tied in with the debate about what should be allowed in sharing music online is the debate about DRM, or digital rights management. If you asked a publisher, they would say that DRM provides technology to ensure that artists and authors are compensated for their work. If you asked someone from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), they would tell you that DRM uses technology to interfere with consumers' lawful use of copyrighted works.

Copyright and Libraries: General Rules

  • With regard to music, follow the RIAA interpretation of the law. Even if you disagree, it is best not to get sued at work.
  • Movies shown to the public in a library have to be licensed for use. Remember to follow the guidelines of the library's public performance license.
  • Copyrighted print works cannot be reproduced in their entirety.
  • Make sure you have permission to use artwork for posters, handouts or bookmarks. Use the library's subscription to the clipart.com database to be sure.
  • When creating online content make sure to have permission to use other people's work and to give credit. Follow the creative commons guidelines.

While we're still using the CD...

Even under RIAA guidelines, you are allowed to burn a copy of legally obtained MP3 files for personal (non-commercial) use. In the exercise below, use the music file you transferred to your MP3 player in the last exercise to burn a copy to CD. If you'd like to use something different, any of the Magnatune music titles in the HCPL Digital Media Catalog can be burned to CD.

Discovery Exercises

  1. Burn a copy of your chosen song to CD using these instructions or the instructions available through Harriet.
  2. Write a blog post discussing how easy or difficult the process was for you. Do you still use CDs?
  3. In the same blog post, discuss your thoughts about sharing music online. Do you think music and musicians benefit more from strict copyright protections online or free and open sharing?

This post was brought to you by Linda Stevens, Kathy Knox and Mark Haywood.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sound: #24: The sound of music!

Welcome to iHCPL: the Next Generation!

This first month we will be exploring the theme of sound through four posts. The first post will take a look at music sites and downloading a song. The second post will cover copyright issues and legally burning to CD. Next will be social networking through music. The final post of the month will be a challenge post to create your own podcast. Although we want to encourage everyone who is interested in podcasting to participate, the final post is entirely optional for training hours credit. If you complete the exercises for the first three posts, you will receive two hours of training credit.

So, let's begin.

No matter what type of music you like, there is bound to be a website available to supply your favorite tunes in an electronic format. Many people have been listening to music this way for years and don't think twice about the process of filling up their MP3 player with soundtracks to accompany their workouts, reading time, or their daily office routine. For others just getting started, it can be difficult to know just where to begin.

Pay to Play

There are numerous sites where you can pay a monthly fee or a fee per song and download legally. Some of the most popular sites are Napster, iTunes, Yahoo!, and Rhapsody. Amazon also has a wide variety of MP3 options and allows purchase of individual songs. These sites safely offer the widest variety of popular music -- for a price.

Free and Legal

What can be more free and legal than the public library? As those of you who participated in the original iHCPL will know, HCPL does offer some music through our downloadable media site. What we offer is limited by what is available for library purchase. Sites like music.download.com offer free MP3 downloads, but they are also limited by legal restrictions. Some musicians, like the band Radiohead, are challenging the music industry by offering their music for download at very little cost.

Radio, Anyone?

Many people prefer to listen to the radio through their computer. You are able to listen to local stations, like KRBE, KUHF, or KILT or use a locator site to find a station anywhere in the world. Other radio sites, like Pandora, are exclusively available online.


  1. Look at the different types of pay sites, comparing features and prices.
  2. Download a song to your computer and transfer it to your branch MP3 player (or your MP3 player) from one of the free sites, which don't require software installation. NOTE: If you are at home, feel free to use whatever service you want.
  3. See if your favorite radio station offers listening through their website.
  4. Discuss your findings in a blog post. You can use your blog from the original iHCPL program or create a new one.

This post was brought to you by Linda Stevens, Kathy Knox and Mark Haywood.