EB: The end product was rolled out to all branch libraries in January 2008, and can be deemed a success in that it successfully meets the need to provide a single point of access to diverse resources for our users, and it does so in a time- and labor-saving fashion. Cost can be calculated in terms of staff time only (which after the initial delivery can be calculated in terms of minutes rather than hours per week), as there is no other financial outlay involved. Intervention by IT staff is no longer required, the Libraries Web Unit being able to manage the desktop centrally and apply edits and new content as and when required. Indeed the solution has proved a joy to work with, often the type of content that can be presented being limited only by one’s imagination.
MS: And what about the pitfalls. I don’t want to paint to perfect of a picture about this or any of the social tools.
EB: The only real downside raised its ugly head in November 2008, when Pageflakes became inaccessible on all our public access Internet PCs from around the 6th November. Efforts to contact Pageflakes over the following week met with no response and no improvement; however a mail sent on Friday 14th on foot of enquiries carried out via Facebook (hurrah for Facebook!) may have been what triggered Pageflakes re-appearance later that day, albeit in a buggy fashion. At this point it is too early to say if the situation is going to stabilize. Pending the situation stabilizing and a satisfactory response from Pageflakes, we have replaced the Pageflakes page with a Netvibes-based equivalent. Insofar as can be ascertained, the problem arose as a consequence of a dispute between two ISPs, namely Sprint and Cogent, where Sprint ‘depeered’ Cogent, this having a knock-on effect on sites hosted on one or other ISP and Internet users. My understanding is that Pageflakes is hosted on Sprint. So depending on your own particular ISP, or rather on how the web is weaved, you may, or may not, have been able to access Pageflakes in recent weeks!