Category Archives: Articles to Note & Use

The User Experience: Resist that Redesign

Aaron Schmidt’s new column at Library Journal offers a twist on convening the “Web Site Redesign Committee” I chaired for 3 years at SJCPL:

Website redesign projects take a long time, often more than a year. During that time, a lack of visible progress can lower staff morale and leave users with a stagnant, unimproved site for months at a time. Likewise, maintaining a current site and building a new one divides efforts. By contrast, small iterative changes can boost staff morale with frequent, demonstrable (if small) victories. Think of it this way: if you make a dozen modest changes—one a month for a year—you could easily end up with a site that’s better by leaps and bounds than what you’d be able to design from scratch in the same interval.

Now think of it from the user’s perspective: imagine getting in your car and finding the steering wheel has been moved to the back seat and over to the opposite side of the car. Moreover, the accelerator and brake pedals have been reversed. You’d certainly be confused, and the car would be difficult to operate, to say the least. Website redesign projects, even if they result in a technically improved website, are likely to affect adversely the heaviest users of your site. Consider the inevitable outcry that follows any change to the Facebook interface. Momentum plays a big part in usability, and people adapt to designs even if they’re less than ideal. Forcing them into an entirely new environment is jarring no matter how friendly the result. Fortunately, small iterative change spreads out the cognitive load required to learn new things on a site.


You 2.0

Avatar Librarian on the cover of SLJDon’t miss Brian Kenney’s new editorial at School Library Journal:

Back when many of us signed up for this librarian gig, we were told that “keeping up” was a vital part of the job. That meant reading publications like SLJ, knowing what was being published in your field, tracking database content, while keeping abreast of your users’ world, whether that was elementary education or pharmacology.

Now it’s all changed. We still need to read our professional publications (in some format or other) and keep current with our users’ lives. But we also need to be active participants in the new Web, with its opportunities for community and collaboration. Today, keeping up can mean something very different, like learning how to fly in Teen Second Life, so you can get to your next author’s visit on time.

Welcome to librarianship in 2007

And don’t even miss the article on Teen Second Life by Kelly Czarnecki and Matt Gullett These will be useful readings in future classes!

Article: Young people don’t like us. Who can blame them?,,1945553,00.html

These kids have been socially conditioned in a universe that runs parallel to the one inhabited by most folks in the media business. They’ve been playing computer games of mind-blowing complexity forever. They’re resourceful, knowledgeable and natural users of computer and communications technology. They’re Digital Natives – accustomed to creating content of their own – and publishing it. (Remember the motto of YouTube: ‘Broadcast yourself!’)

They buy music from the iTunes store – but continue to download tracks illicitly as well. They use BitTorrent to get US editions of Lost. They think ‘Google’ is a synonym for ‘research’ and regard it as quite normal to maintain and read blogs (55 million as of last night), use Skype to talk to their mates and upload photos to Flickr. Some even write entries on Wikipedia. And they know how to use iMovie or Adobe Premiere to edit videos and upload them to YouTube.

Now look round the average British newsroom. How many hacks have a Flickr account or a MySpace profile? How many sub-editors have ever uploaded a video to YouTube? How many editors have used BitTorrent? (How many know what BitTorrent is?)

Disconnects Between Library Culture and Millennial Generation Values

Thought-provoking and insightful article at Educause.

Policy Disconnects
Drawing a clear line between technology and policy can be difficult. For example, how many of the characteristics of current libraries (identified by the list below) are driven purely by technology or by policy? These traits include:

Mainly electronic text-based collections with multimedia content noticeably absent

Constructed for individual use but requires users to learn from experts how to access and use information and services

Library presence usually “outside” the main online place for student activity (MySpace, iTunes, Facebook, the campus portal, or learning management system)

Note that comments are enabled, take a look at those too. It’s very interesting!

A Wider World: Youth, Privacy, and Social Networking Technologies

Via my colleague Jeff up at Traverse Area District Library, comes this article from Tracy Mitrano, Director of IT Policy at Cornell University and the Cornell Director of the EDUCAUSE/Cornell Institute for Computer Policy and Law Program.

There’s a lot here, including:

Quashing technological advances is never the solution. I genuinely enjoy watching my children dive into new technologies such as iPods and online games or my students demonstrating new uses of search tools or network applications. New technologies alarm us for very real reasons but can and must be addressed in ways that do not crush innovation and fun. When use of the Internet led to an explosion in plagiarism, a number of companies turned back to technology to address the problem: Turnitin is a prime example. Notably, policy played a role in that correction too, such as the implied copyright permissions that some schools secured for the use of Turnitin.11 Students’ use of Instant Messenger (IM) during exams to exchange answers, in violation of academic integrity codes, resulted in some institutions prohibiting networking devices during exam periods. In part to avoid these problems, I no longer give in-class exams or generic paper assignments; instead, I require take-home exams e-mailed to me on topics tailored to specific course material. The beauty for me is that the exams are typed, legible, and time-stamped! The advantage to students is that they have time to think through their answers and, because the assignment is tailored to class material, to integrate readings, discussion, and independent thinking.

Don’t crush the innovation or the fun!

Mitrano sums up the article, that includes a look at Facebook, “poking” and teen use of social sites, with the words she shared with her son — it’s advice we could all use as we look at Second Life, other new social networks and whatever the newer technologies will be:

The night before my son Nikko went off to camp, I told him to keep three principles in mind: maintain personal safety; explore all the opportunities the camp had to offer; and remember the golden rule—treat others how you want to be treated. I know that criminals exist, sometimes even in the midst of our most trusted acquaintances. But I pray that I have nurtured my children’s instincts sufficiently that they know whom to trust and how to react to actual threats. By the same token, I hope I have given them the developmental means to engage new worlds, both physical and virtual, with courage and excitement.

Articles of Note

Here’s a clearinghouse entry of a couple of articles you may want to add to your reading pile:

Heard people banter about AJAX and how a lot of Web 2.0 apps are using it? A great post by Jesse James Garrett is here:

And what of Folksonomies and Metadata? Checkout “Metadata for the Masses” by Peter Merholz at

Pondering the future of the Audio/Visual department?

Marcia Bates on Information Science

We were assigned a wonderful article for SLIS 6000 by Marcia Bates called “Mining the Substrate of Information Science,” in which she discusses the underlying functions of the discipline. here are my thoughts, as posted to our class board:

?Currently,? Bates writes, ?the wheel is being reinvented everyday on the information superhighway? because of digital information and the leaps and bounds of IT. Bates states that IS folks have been bypassed and we have all the expertise. When you want something done right pertaining to information, get a librarian to do it! I appreciated that sentiment.

When Bates mentions we need to make ourselves know or ?be washed away in the flood? I was reminded that many of the biggest innovations in the Web world were done NOT by LIS folk but by the Amazon people or the Google guys. Where have all the librarians been? Sadly, I think many have been trying to catch up. The wave/flood is a swift current!

Representing information..creating databases and catalogs. Librarians figuring out how to represent a patron?s question. These passages were wonderful!

I also agree that we do not need to be subject specialists but specialists in the information world. To a further degree I would make this claim for librarians and ?techiness.? Every librarian does not have to be a total IT whiz, but a strong foundation of tech-literacy is a good thing to stand on.

Recorded information. The universe of recorded information. How people use it. If we design ANYTHING in a library setting from web pages to instructional classes on how to use the web, we are looking at how our users seek, retrieve and use information. We also try to stay aware of new methods of transfer and retrieval. IM is one that many folks are starting to discuss in LIS settings. RSS (?Rich Site summary?) is another. No matter what vehicle, bates states that ?we always follow the information.?

Finally ? it was refreshing to read Bates? passage about humor in the IS world. I would not survive in a stuffy room of hunched, sneering scientists!! (I also heard that Llewellyn C. Puppybreath III gave an exciting speech at ALA in Orlando but I missed it!)

Develop an Organizational Content Strategy Now

Steven points to this article about blogs in corporations and it’s a good one:

He urges us to apply it to library blog environments. I agree. Note:

“10. Develop an organizational content strategy now

Email, blogs, wikis, Web, voice mail, faxes, newsletters, advertising, PR. No wonder it is so hard for organizations to speak with the consistent voice that is so critical for branding. An organizational content strategy can ensure consistency, vibrancy and value for employees, customers, suppliers and others.”

WOW! Does your library blog exsist in its own vacuum? It shouldn’t. Library Web sites, blogs, fliers, cards, letterhead, everything should carry the same message and same voice. Guidelines for writing for the Web will help your blogging staff to be consistent and still satisfy their creative urges. I love Joe’s posts at the SJCPL Lifeline… He has his own voice but still maintains the goals of the Web site and out marketing plan.

Taming the Public Computer in Miami

I grabbed this from LISNews (I think) days ago and forgot to post it:

I work the reference desk and I know what it’s like when all of your terminals are full. I’ve seen arguments, scary situations and downright nastiness over access to the Internet. I’m all about access but as the article states it needs to be fair access… not the same folks for 8 hours everyday.

What I wrestle with is the game players and chatters who tie up machines when other folks may want to research reports or personal matters. I know it’s none of my business, but sometimes I feel 5 people having 2 hours each of Yahoo! Games is a waste or resources…