Category: SJSU LIBR 246 Web 2.0

Using Libros to Find Books

Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, has a You Tube account with a selection of many information literacy videos. “Using Libros to Find Books” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I85Fn3KHoqI&list=UUIfTkQQqpZfWRGoabmwgulw&index=5&feature=plcp) explains how to use the library catalog. The video (3:16) has been viewed 123 times in a little over a year. A brief synopsis describes the content of the video so that the user can determine whether the video will be useful to view. The video starts with a slide that advises the viewer to maximize the browser window for the best viewing and that the video has audio. It is particularly useful to inform the viewer in advance that there is audio because the viewer might be in a situation where it isn’t be a good idea to play sound. The viewer can then mute the sound or use earphones. The video is captioned, and the hearing impaired (or a person who for some reason cannot play the sound) can still benefit from the video. It would be a good idea to include this information on the introductory slide because a viewer might not automatically assume that captions are provided. The video is narrated by the Distance Services Librarian who has a pleasant voice to listen to.

The content of the video includes an explanation of what types of materials are found in the catalog and how to access the catalog. There is a brief tip about using the most important keywords of the topic as search terms, and a search is demonstrated using a hypothetical topic. The librarian explains that there are alternate ways to sort the search results (by date or title), but she doesn’t mention the default sorting criteria (relevance). A very good explanation of the item record is provided which includes mention of publication information (for citation purposes), location / call number / and status (for actually locating an item), and the contents and subject headings (for determining whether the item will meet the patron’s needs). The librarian also explains that clicking on a subject heading will provide a list of similar items. At the end of the video, contact information is provided for further questions. Unfortunately, the audio is cut off mid-sentence at the end.

In general, the video is well done, but it is unfortunately out of date. Since the creation of the video, the appearance of the catalog has completely changed. The video shows the old appearance, and this could disorient novice searchers who expect one thing but encounter another when using the catalog. Unfortunately, in order to change this, the entire video must be redone. While it might be a nuisance to redo the video, other small changes could be made at the same time, such as mentioning at the very beginning that the video is captioned, explaining more completely the sorting options, and preventing the unfortunate cut-off at the end of the video.

Reputation Building in Online Communities

In Characteristics of Successful Online Communities, Andrew Cohen has written some very interesting guidelines for successful online communities. He emphasizes the need to plan for success, make people feel at home, rule with benevolence, encourage personal relationships, and facilitate reputation building. I found reputation building to be the most interesting of all his guidelines. I traditionally think of reputation building as something a company would do, but Cohen is talking about allowing community members to build their reputations within the community. When frequent and high quality participation is acknowledged, not only is the community as a whole bolstered, but individual community members develop and build strong reputations within the community. Cohen suggests several ways to do this. Frequent participation can be rewarded with a virtual ribbon once a community member reaches a threshold. Active participants can be publicly acknowledged by featuring them in a spotlight or by interviewing them. Finally, allowing community members to rate postings and comments rewards quality, and members with high ratings can be given more privileges within the community.

Tagging: Pros and Cons

Folksonomies are created by users trying to identify Web content by assigning their own keywords called tags. There is no hierarchical structure or controlled vocabulary. Folksonomies are created by anyone interested in assigning tags to something online, and collectively all the tags create the folksonomy. Because folksonomies are created by users, the terms assigned as tags are likely to be common parlance and often terms that appear in the actual document. There is, however, a possibility of many different tags describing the same things or a single tag referring to more than one thing, creating problems with precision and recall. Folksonomies and tagging are commonplace in social media applications such as blogs, social bookmarking, Flickr, etc.

Facebook for Social Media Marketing

Nicole Purviance, Marketing and Outreach Specialist for SJSU SLIS, gave a presentation on 3-8-2012 called Social Media Marketing. Ms. Purviance defines social media as inexpensive tools that combine technology with social interaction. Some examples of social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Linked In, You Tube, Pinterest, blogging, and Google+. Facebook by far dominates the list with the most unique visitors and the longest amount of time being spent on the site. Facebook has 734.2 million unique visitors per month, and users spent an average of 405 minutes on Facebook in January 2012. In comparison, Twitter has 144.4 million unique visitors per month, and users spent 21 minutes on Twitter in January 2012. Businesses can take advantage of Facebook’s enormous reach, using it to connect with current and future customers. Some examples of how to use Facebook for marketing include:

  • Ask fans questions,
  • Debut a product launch,
  • Hold contests,
  • Link to an article, and
  • Ask customers how the company is doing.

To effectively use Facebook, it is necessary to encourage interaction and keep conversations going by asking open-ended questions. Best practices include freely sharing resources with followers, creating a consistent look and feel across all social media platforms, and creating a community where users can talk about themselves. It is also important to provide many reasons for fans to return to the site. Social media marketing success can be measured several ways. Exposure can be measured by analyzing the number of visits, views, and fans. Influence can be monitored by keeping track of how users speak about your business. Engagement is revealed by user activity such as posting, tagging, and commenting. Finally, if fans are attending events and doing other suggested activities, it can be concluded that the social media marketing efforts are resulting in customer action. I agree with the many points that Ms. Purviance made in her presentation, but I wish she would have tailored her comments to the use of social media in libraries rather than businesses. Still, her information was all very useful and can be transferred to libraries. In the case of the library where I work, Facebook is most likely the best social media platform to use. It’s an academic library, and upon entering the computer lab, it is very easy to see that there are at least as many students on Facebook (and a few on You Tube) as there are doing homework assignments, suggesting that Facebook is there social media tool of choice.

[Ms. Purviance provided the sources for this data and can be reached at SJSU SLIS for more information.]

Culture of Collaboration

While internal collaboration sounds ideal, it can be difficult to achieve, especially considering traditional work models. Kelly (2009) lists several aspects of a workplace culture that will foster collaboration. The first factor that helps create a collaborative environment is “come and go as you please” schedules. According to Kelly, when management allows alternative schedules, telecommuting, and time off to attend to personal commitments, collaboration, ironically, is likely. Employees will need to use various document creation, planning, communication, and file-sharing tools to accomplish their goals. If there is a culture that encourages the sharing of information, collaboration will be likely. Employees who are connected, technically savvy, early adopters of the latest technology, and open to the possibility of discussing work at any time will be more likely to collaborate. Finally, management that demonstrates by example that they value collaboration will also find that they have a staff that is likely to collaborate.

If these factors encourage collaboration, then it stands to reason that the opposite factors will inhibit collaboration. Expecting employees to not only always be at the office but at their desks does not encourage a collaborative environment. Micromanaging will not lead to cooperation; management must loosen up control if they hope to achieve creative collaboration. Kelly describes “knowledge archipelagos,” islands of information caused by the hoarding of knowledge by individual employees; these archipelagos are the opposite of collaboration. If there is a split in the staff between those who achieve work-life balance by only conducting work during traditional working hours and those who are willing to be constantly available through technology, even during non-work hours, then collaboration will be difficult. Finally, when some or all of the staff is paid an hourly rate (instead of an annual salary), collaboration outside of paid work shifts is unlikely. The availability of collaborative tools such as Google Docs, wikis, or Skype will not create collaboration amongst a staff that is anti-collaboration due to personal or corporate beliefs and practices that stifle it.

Reference

Kelly, W. (2009). Corporate culture, not technology, drives collaboration. Web Worker Daily.

Using Del.icio.us as a Student

I am smack in the middle of creating my e-portfolio for my MLIS degree, and I can see several uses of social bookmarking as a student and while working on an e-portfolio.

I use Del.icio.us to bookmark the the websites my professors recommend, and I add tags that correspond to the course name and number. Early on in a new career, when you don’t have a lot of experience yet, I think it is useful to be able to easily refer to some of the stuff you studied. My problem is that I started using Del.icio.us (does anyone know the reason for the punctuation?) midway through my degree program, so at this point, I have only half of the sites from my coursework bookmarked. I wish I had started using it during my first semester because then I wouldn’t lose the sites pertaining to the subjects I studied at the beginning of the program. Also, as I create my e-portfolio, I find that I am searching for materials to refresh my memory on things like ethics, information-seeking behaviors, and teaching theories. Again, I wish I had bookmarked everything all along rather than starting when I was halfway through.

I just read an interesting blog post called “Using Del.icio.us to Create an Easy, Always Updated Online Portfolio” by Michele Martin. She suggests using Del.icio.us to create an online portfolio that is easy to update. A couple of days ago, I read an announcement that SJSU will be changing its learning management system (LMS). Again. It was changed right before I started the SLIS program, again when I was partway through the program, and now it will be changed again right after I finish the program. At this point, I’m just going to assume that it will be changed again and again and again. That begs the question: what happens to my e-portfolio every time SJSU changes the LMS? It looks like it might be a good idea to look for a new home for my e-portfolio (rather than keeping it on an LMS). I’m not sure at this point how often I would want to update my e-portfolio, but I will be looking into the possibility of using Del.icio.us.

It’s all about the wall!

I have been wondering if the academic library I work at should have a Facebook page. We currently have zero input on our website, but with LibGuides we have been able to create some content. Patrons view the guides, but no one has commented on them, so we still don’t have an interactive web presence. The students in our computer lab are always on Facebook, and it seems like a good idea to go where our patrons are.

Davis Library at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has a Facebook page. The page is used to advertise sales and trainings, ask patrons for their preferences, make announcements that the online resources are temporarily unavailable, etc. While these posts are not drawing a lot of comments, I get the idea that the library wants to have a popular Facebook page. It even states on the information page: “We’re experimenting with this Facebook page. What would you use it for? What resources would be useful to have here?” It is a good idea to get student input on the potential uses for the Facebook page; however, the question asking students for input is not posted on the wall, therefore making it unlikely that the students will post answers. There are 1,259 people who like this page, 22 are talking about it, and 1,085 “were here.” Students are looking at the page, but there is very little activity on the wall.

The Wellesley College Library also has a Facebook page, and it is even less alive than the Davis Library page. Only 629 people like it, 7 are talking about it, and 54 “were here.” The wall is used to advertise library activities, but there is no evidence of interaction on the wall.

Hennepin County Library has a Facebook page with 6,305 people who like it and 112 people talking about it. The posts on the wall are a combination of library announcements and patron comments. For example, a patron asks a question about the garden on the roof, and a library employee gave a detailed answer about sustainability. Also, a patron wrote a very positive comment thanking the library for Freegal. This library has a much more active and therefore effective page than both Davis Library and the Wellesley College Library.

It’s not clear why one library Facebook page is more successful than another. Of these three libraries, it is the public library that is most successful, and that surprises me. College students love Facebook, so why aren’t the academic library Facebook pages more successful? I wonder if college students have so many Facebook friends to keep up with that they don’t have much time or desire to keep up with a library Facebook page. Or could it be that the Hennepin County Library has promoted their Facebook page more effectively?

Ultimately, the wall is the essence of a successful page because that’s where interaction takes place. Regardless of how many people like your page, if the wall is dead, then the entire Facebook page is dead.

Lovin’ me some LibGuides!

I love LibGuides! I have created several for the academic  library I work in, and while I am still learning all the possibilities, it is quite easy to jump right in and get started. This is probably the key to their success: you don’t need any sophisticated programming or design skills to create a good solid guide. The hardest part about LibGuides is figuring out how to pronounce LibGuides (to resolve this dilemma, I propose the name be changed to ‘BraryGuides).

At the college where I work, the library currently has no control or influence over our own website. We are lucky to at least have a link on the site to our LibGuides. Despite our lack of control over our own website, we have been able to create online content for and about our library using LibGuides. For example, I created a guide called Zollinger Library, and on this guide, we can put information about the library and our services, and this can be updated in a flash. We have been able to gain some control over the online presence of our library.

Not all libraries have the kind of road blocks we have when it comes to their websites, but the ease of creating LibGuides opens up the possibility of creating online content to everyone on the staff, regardless of their technical knowledge. Library employees can create guides about any area of expertise, interest, or passion. It is possible to respond quite quickly to patrons’ needs and interests. I recently learned that an American Studies class had an upcoming assignment to give an oral presentation about the Civil War in the southwest. I immediately began working on a LibGuide and accompanying book display to suggest and promote the resources that could be used for the assignment.

LibGuides has hit on a winning combination of ease and usefulness, and it’s no wonder they are so popular.

Successful Library Blogs

Using Google Reader as my aggregator, I have been keeping up with the following blogs:

  • In the Library with the Lead Pipe
  • The Librarian’s Commute
  • The Distant Librarian
  • Librarian by Day
  • David Lee King
  • Librarian.net
  • Tame the Web
  • Librarian in Black

When comparing blogs, a main difference I see is posting length. Some of the bloggers create quite lengthy posts, namely In the Library with the Lead Pipe. This blog contains essay-length posts that are well-written and well-researched with proper citations. In the case of such lengthy posts, I can recognize the value of thoroughly exploring a subject. I found, however, that I never made it to the end of a post, no matter how interesting the subject was, because I was constantly interrupted. If I were to continue to follow this blog, I would have to make sure that I dedicated a interruption-free time slot to read it.

Other bloggers have shorter posts, such as Librarian’s Commute, The Distant Librarian, and David Lee King. Too short was occasionally a problem when the brevity was a result of not giving any examples to demonstrate the points being made. Also, the extremely short postings were so short that they didn’t catch my interest. The blog I am most likely to continue to read is David Lee King. His posts left me wanting a little more, but in a good way: long enough to catch my interest but short enough not to bore me. Lesson to be learned here: find that sweet spot when it comes to length.

I enjoy the various titles given to the blogs, and I found it ironic that the cleverest, catchiest title (In the Library with the Lead Pipe) belongs to the blog with the serious and well-researched essay-length posts. Not what I would have expected from the title. Instead, I had imagined a humorous blog with comic strips. Whether or not this is a problem depends on the pickiness of the reader.

I was interested in librarian.net by Jessamyn West. Her bio says that she works in a rural Vermont library which promised to be very interesting to me since I work in a remote region. Her latest post advertises an online conference called Big Talk for Small Libraries, which could be very interesting for me to attend. I may continue to follow librarian.net due the similarity in our work situations.

I attended a conference back in my first semester of library school, and Sarah Houghton was a speaker. For this reason, I was interested in following Librarian in Black. I love her blurb “Amazingly informed & therefore properly opinionated,” and I found that she has a casual tone. I’m not sure that this blog matches my interests, however, since I currently work at an academic library. If I decide to switch to public libraries, this may be a good blog to follow.

Tame the Web is written by Michael Stephens, and new professor in the SJSU SLIS program. I want to like this blog. I can appreciate that a lot of effort has gone into its layout and appearance. The layout and appearance, however, are very distracting for me. I have no sense of what this blog focuses on because I am still trying to figure out what all the various widgets are. The features distract me from the message. In this case, I can read this blog through a reader rather than going to the blog itself, but then I miss out on things like photos, blurbs, graphics, colors, etc. that are visually appealing. Again, I like just enough but not too much. Call me Goldilocks.

A library blog will be successful (at attracting me anyway) if it is compelling but not boring, focused but not scattered, visually appealing but not busy, casual but well-edited, and relevant to my interests. I think these are characteristics that will appeal to many people.

Just Say No

 

With the constant stream of input from the various social media sources, information overload is definitely a possibility. It can be avoided by being selective and setting some limits. If you are experiencing overload, start by reviewing all the different accounts, sources, and streams you are signed up for. Ruthlessly cut all the feeds that aren’t worth your time. If you don’t truly enjoy it, cut! If it’s not truly useful, cut! Sign up for only high quality sources of information. Only check your reader once a day. Perhaps give yourself a limit of two sources of input in each category: current events, work, family, education, and leisure pursuits/entertainment. Prevent yourself from signing up for a new stream without taking your name off another stream first. Create time periods during which you will be unplugged, and observe them. Use the sleep settings feature in Twitter to reduce the number of hours per day that you will receive notifications. Tweet less yourself. Most of these suggestions are behavioral. Only pay attention to the stuff that is truly important to you. Know your limits and observe them.