Thursday, February 4, 2010

Method 12 - Reflection and Evaluation

Exploring some of the applications that I was unfamiliar with was eye-opening and much easier than I somehow expected. Getting the practice of creating a blog and even keeping disciplined to make a number of postings opened my mind to continuing with this in some way. I was very new to Flickr, podcasting, and even chat and instant messaging. Trying these things out was very useful. Being exposed to the ways that you can search these different applications was very valuable.

I have been a Yahoo email user so it was also very helpful for me to get into Google apps and get a feel for the lay of the land in Google. The concept of cloud computing was new to me and now I feel like I have a handle on that.

It was fun and useful to see how other libraries were using wikis and Facebook and some of the other applications. These were inspiring. So much of this would not be all that difficult. Time restraints, I think, and being able to sustain a quality input would be the most difficult aspects to me.

In terms of life long learning goals, I feel that I have taken an important first step in getting more familiar with these applications. I would certainly like to integrate Twitter or Facebook with other areas of interest.

It was most surprising to see how very simple the mechanical aspects of these different applications are. I did not encounter any glitches or problems that would require a lot of trouble shooting. Most of the questions I had could probably be answered by another user. It was eye-opening to again realize just how vast the unlimited storage space on the Internet is. We are so fortunate that at this venture there are no charges for these services. Advertising seems to cover the cost of much of the applications, although I am sure there will be more sites charging for content in the future.

I would definitely participate in a future training program offered. I think it would be valuable to offer a selection of applications that participants could pick and choose from. Those who felt like they were advanced on a particular application could pass on that one. I also would like to see some more advanced exercises for those who have been using an application already.

I did not personally know any other participants in the training at this point which made me reluctant to comment on other blogs. It would be nice if some of the questions would generate more discussion. I think that most are reluctant to comment on other blogs because of the public nature of the comment, not knowing personally the participants, and because of time contraints. Of course, there is nothing to stop me from going back and looking more closely at some of the blogs now.

Kudos and sincere thanks to the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for offering this training!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Method 11 - The wide world of podcasting

Podcasting is another fantastic way of disseminating a wide range of information over the web. It would seem to lend itself to oral histories and author interviews. There are many who would prefer listening to material rather than reading it. Obviously, a big plus to listening to podcasts is that you can take them with you very easily with an MP3 player, Iphone, or other mobile device.

I was impressed by the Librarian Live programs presented by the North Texas Regional Library system and other Texas library consortia. There was a wide range of topics and it is especially nice to hear advice from someone in the nearby area.

Again, if a topic lends itself to this kind of oral treatment, searching for podcasts on a how-to type subject or even by a particular author could yield valuable results. In many instances hearing an author's voice provides a much more intimate and personal venue for becoming familiar with an author. Itunes, of course, are a great way of sampling many different types of music and a whole host of musicians from very amateur to professional in any imaginable style.

Podcasts would be another tool for recording a library program while not having to set up and deal with a camera and the pitfalls that a video might create. Lectures would certainly lend themselves to a podcast treatment.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Method 10 - This Wiki world

Wikis are another wonderful tool available for sharing information that can provide more flexibility than a blog. The wiki lends itself to many contributors. A wiki would be ideal for sharing information gathered by a committee or creating and editing a policy or procedure that many would contribute parts to. Of course, Wikipedia has certainly shown how much information can be contributed. When not all contributors are vetted, a varied range of styles and accuracy can result. Subject guides for a library seem to be a great use of a wiki. Individual subject specialists could contribute material they are expert in. The subject guides could easily link to Internet sites and or even the library's catalog. This ability enhances the usefulness of a static subject guide. Being able to direct a patron to a section of a subject guide would allow the patron to print out only what he or she needs.

It was interesting that all of the subject guides and many other documents are in an outline form. There is a general contents of topics at top and then you can click down to the page that discusses this topic. It would be a nice feature if a gadget could be created to index key words on the pages contained in a particular wiki and you could add a search box to the wiki page.
Most of the library sites restricted access to the discussion section which seems a shame on one hand, but probably the wisest thing to do. It is also a neat feature being able to look back at the history of a page and see who made changes and when they were made. This would be handy in certain instances.

Editing and saving to a wiki is a very simple process. The items compiled in a wiki can be easily reformatted and rearranged to a document that is most logical and useful. Expansion of wikis to future topics and additional contents allows a wiki to be a work in progress.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Method 9 - Chat and Instant Messaging

Instant messaging is a very attractive addition to traditional reference services in person or by telephone. As with other Web 2.0 applications, it has the potential to reach a whole new array of users. In some instances it would be useful to be able to type out information to a patron rather than spell it out over the phone.

Using chat was extremely simple. Naomi at TSLACDL responded to questions promptly. In some ways chat provided a level of confidentiality and privacy that in person or a phone call might not provide. Some users might have a greater comfort level with this. Having the Meebo box so easily accessible and right there on the same page as the course information is certainly a big plus.

My library is investigating offering chat and will probably do so in the near future.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Method 8 - Social networking

Social networking sites such as Facebook and My space are lots of fun and allow you to make connections with persons and companies that you might not easily be able to connect with otherwise. For libraries there is much potential to promote the library to a whole range of connections that would not have been reached in any other way. Since social networking is growing in usage daily, it certainly behooves the library to devote some staff and time to marketing the library on a social networking site. As with anything else given a priority, a library should allot time for a staff member to do this on a daily basis.

Privacy on a personal social networking site is a cause for concern and it remains to be seen how much that will impact individuals when they apply for a job or even try to keep other connections. For most individuals, care must be taken not to involve oneself with a site of a political nature or even a controversial social cause. Anyone signing on to a social networking site should be very familiar with the privacy settings available on the site.
Hopefully, these sites can exist and still allow an individual to maintain a level of privacy he or she is comfortable with.

The ability to advertise to individuals with links to certain interests certainly is a huge temptation for companies and indeed a way of saving time and money if a company can determine an individual is most likely to be interested in their product line. Privacy protections should be in place so that individuals can opt out of being mined for this kind of information if they desire.

At present my library is planning to become involved with social networking but is not involved yet. The marketing potential of social networking sites seems unlimited. This alone would make it worth a library's while to invest staff and time toward developing a social networking policy and moving forward on Facebook, My space, and/or Twitter. How the library's online presence will be defined and maintained should be thought out well beforehand.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Method 7 - Tagging, folksonomies & social bookmarking in

Bookmarking in Delicious is a tremendous resource for libraries and individuals. The web has grown exponentially in such a very short time. For individuals one could bookmark items that are specific to one's areas of interest. One could tag reviews of books that sound interesting and return to them. You could also save and tag articles that take more time to read which you would like to return to at a later time. You could also have items appear in your inbox or an RSS feed which are new to the Delicious website. This saves a lot of time and enables one to easily keep abreast of any area of interest.

For a library it would be ideal to have a collection of bookmarks for some of the topics that are constantly being requested: job search resources, local history resources, local government resources, and many others. Some libraries have used tags that parallel the Dewey Decimal system. This seems useful in one sense in organizing information in the same way as books and materials on the shelves are organized. The ability to provide an unlimited number of tags specific to individual sites would seem to be a stronger organizational tool in my mind. I think it would be useful to tag sites in terms of primary and secondary sources just as you would other items. A website from a particular organization would certainly be primary; sites created by individuals may be extremely valuable or may only be marginally valuable. A library could easily tag items of current interest to staff or patrons through Some of these might only need to be retained for a couple of months; others might need to be retained longer or in another set of bookmarks for staff only. Libraries could bookmark games that are deemed appropriate for certain age groups. These could be subdivided as educational with the skills being identified. Libraries could also bookmark tutorials for users of Microsoft Office products or users needing other computer skills that are continually asked about.

It seems that a selection criteria or parameters for adding bookmarks would need to be established for a library. One person could apply the parameters and look to create tags that would be consistent and user-friendly.

The capability to share resources with others makes the value of bookmarking increase substantially. Finding individuals or libraries with similar interests or approaches would save a lot of time when scouring the web for items of personal interest or items of interest to library staff and customers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sample library tour

This video illustrates a library tour of the Rice University Fondren Library. It has received 438 hits and an audience that might not have taken advantage of this, otherwise.