Category Archives: Library Technology

foursquare @ Darien Library

foursquareCheck-ins, badges, and becoming mayor have nothing to do with libraries and everything to do with the geolocation game foursquare…. well it did until some of the librarians here at Darien began hijacking our own venue (Darien Library).  We began checking in every time we came into work, closely monitoring who among us was crowned Mayor of Darien Library.  Possibly making snide comments to our new ruler – of course in good fun.

Then it dawned on us: Why are we checking in all the time when we could offer up this service to our users?

We began looking a little closer at it, finding out how we could build a whimsical program out of it that, yes, would be a little silly, but also potentially informative and rewarding.  foursquare allows users to add to-do’s to venues for individual use and tips for others who check-in.  What tips could we offer?

To our benefit, our cadre of staff foursquare users represents pretty much every department in the library: User Experience (UX), Teens, Technology, Knowledge and Learning Services (KLS), and Children’s.  Together we thought of 3 to 5 tips we could each offer up from our department.  For example, Teens has video games, UX puts together some great programming, KLS has a fabulous Bloomberg Terminal, and so on.  So when we thought of ideas and potential hurdles we all funneled them into our Google Wave and then filtered the good ideas off to the venue as tips.

We were left wondering about incentives.  foursquare is like twitter was in the beginning, popular for early adopters but seemingly useless for the rest of the population.  We wanted to invite our users to try a new technology, to not worry about the “silliness” of it at the beginning.  To do this we needed our incentive.  Because we can track who becomes Mayor of Darien Library we thought it best to give out a prize:  a fancy tote bag (a $25 value!).  Become Mayor, get a tote bag.  It’s that simple.

We’re going to evaluate this program over a two month period and see how it increases check-ins to our venue.  If we see it’s popular we’re going to think of other incentives we can offer.  If it bombs, hey, that’s ok.  It’s quick to implement and low maintenance – and we tried something new.

This idea was thought up by these fine folks:

  • Alex Hylton, Teen and Technology Services
  • Sarah Ludwig, Teen and Technology Services and Knowledge and Learning Services
  • Gretchen Caserotti, Children’s Services
  • Erica Leone, Reader’s Advisory
  • and myself, Kyle Jones, Knowledge and Learning Services
Kyle Jones, TTW Contributor

Thanks Education Institute! Trends & Tech for Libraries 2010

A big shout out to the libraries in Canada that participated in my Education Institute talk today. I can’t believe how much we covered in one hour. Exploring trends shaping users information experiences and environments always fires me up. The trends I highlighted today include:

  1. Ubiquitous Social Tools
  2. Personal Learning Networks in the Cloud
  3. Spaces with Heart
  4. Immersive Learning & Play
  5. The Changing Path of Content
  6. Location Aware Information Environments
  7. Transliteracy
  8. Integrated Devices & Tablet Mania
  9. Building a Community of Users
  10. Learning & Teaching in Flux

The slides are available here:

Perpetual Beta

Don’t miss this new blog from American Libraries & Jason Griffey: (Hey – is there a feed for this blog available? Am I missing it?)

Jason writes:

This space will be a place where you will be able to find the very edge of new technologies, as well as tips and tricks about how you can do interesting things with existing technologies. I’m going to try and introduce technologies that libraries and librarians should be paying attention to, and at the same time give you tips and tricks to make better use of the technologies that you may already be playing with.

A few examples of the sorts of things that I’ll be covering in this space: How to get any piece of text you want onto your eReader, How to automate delivery of information to your staff and patrons, setting up your own Media Server for your library, and much, much more.

In addition to these sorts of “Lifehacker for Libraries” posts, I’ll also be posting interesting things that I find around the Library and Technology infosphere, and I’ll be producing some video podcasts as well. Expect the first of these very soon, as I am even as I type this on my way to the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show. I’ll be reporting over the next several weeks about my discoveries there, and will include audio and video interviews, demos, and anything else I can think of that might be interesting.

Of course, this brief post sent me over the moon:

Spoke with an unnamed source last night that gave me the following: Tablet is based around a 9.67 inch LCD, not an OLED. Definitely launching early in year, possibly even immediately after January 27th announcement.

Exciting for libraries: deals coming with LOTS of content providers, print content mainly magazines, not newspapers. Start thinking about a “magazine” with embedded video, inline social features, and more.

This will be very interesting to see how a media-rich tablet-embedded magazine will find a place in library service. Remember this?:

Don’t Miss the Tech Set from LITA & Neal Schuman

The Librarian in Black writes:

I’m pleased to announce that my first book, Technology Training in Libraries, is set to be released in March of this year!

This book has been a labor of love for the last year.  In it, I walk you through setting up a technology training program in your library, including basic technology training (both online and face-to-face) and general tech training principles and tips.  I also address creating and training to a set of “technology skills” expectations for staff members.  The bulk of the book walks you through the steps for setting up specific types of technology training: lunchtime brown-bags, 23-things style programs, technology petting zoos, peer training, and train-the-trainer programs.  On the practical side, I cover how to come up with a dollar value for estimating the return on investment for training programs, how to market training, creating a culture of learning, dealing with difficult learning, and measuring success with individuals and the library as a whole.  Finally, I offer a huge list of recommended resources at the end of the book.  At 125 pages, it is a concise how-to manual for successfully setting up specific technology training initiatives in a library.

The book is the 6th in a 10-book series called The Tech Set, a joint LITA & Neal-Schuman project edited by Ellyssa Kroski.  The entire series is  meant to be a series of practical how-to guides on specific technology services in libraries.  Other topics include next-gen catalogs, microblogging, mobile technology, gaming, unconferences, and more.  The set boasts some great names: Cliff Landis, Connie Crosby, Jason Griffey, Robin Hastings, Steve Lawson, Sean Robinson, Lauren Pressley, Kelly Czarnecki, and Marshall Breeding.

For more information, you can see my book’s pre-pub website (which offers a peek inside the book) and for a complete list of the Tech Set titles, see the site for the entire Tech Set series.

Elyssa asked me to take a look at the set and consider an endorsement. I read multiple chapters from each work – and Sean Robinson’s excellent tome on video making for libraries in its entirety and was very pleased. Pleased enough to endorse the set. I was especially taken with Jason Griffey’s work on mobile library services and mobile technology and Sarah’s take on a subject near and dear to my heart tech training. Here’s what I submitted to Neal Schuman:

For those curious about next gen library catalogs or wondering if the library should be on Twitter, the Tech Set offers ten volumes of current thinking and best practice for a wide range of  library-related tech trends. Editor Elyssa Kroski has assembled a who’s who of notable experts on these timely topics – including outstanding entries such as Jason Griffey on mobile technologies, Cliff Landis on utilizing social networking and Sarah Houghton-Jan on effective technology training. The titles are well-researched, clearly explained by a cadre of library technologists, offering tips and tricks for diving into blogging, gaming, video production, and  more. This set will be a useful addition to any librarian’s toolkit for  planning for emerging technologies.

These up-to-date  volumes will surely find a welcome spot in my teaching and will probably serve as textbooks for many technology-related LIS courses. Congrats to all involved!

View it any way you’d like…

Via all sorts of wonderful bloggers comes this video prototyping the future of Sports Illustrated. Karl Fisch had this to say:

More evidence that the way we interact with “text” is changing. To combine and paraphrase something I’ve heard David Warlick say more than once with something Jason Ohler says:

We need to stop paper training our students. We should spend less time training our students how to use paper, and more time helping them use digital tools to interact in meaningful and productive ways with the media forms of the day.

Also reminds me of this post:

Note that this is additive – no one is suggesting that words don’t matter, that what we traditionally think of as “writing” is no longer important, but that the very nature of composition is more complex now, and that our instruction, our pedagogy, our learning spaces need to reflect that.

. . . Writing (composing) is no longer exclusively a solitary activity. And we need to expand our definition of composition beyond only text and beyond only a specific medium (book, research paper, academic journal).

“Text” is changing. Is your classroom?

I would add: Text is changing. Is your library?

This speaks to me on so many levels. Core curriculum in LIS will shift to more of an emphasis on media creation and consumption as well as classification in a time when the new issue of Time may be delivered wirelessly to the device of the moment. I’m reminded of something my colleague Warren Cheetham said in Australia about new formats and new media: “Staff are wondering: where does the barcode go??”

I have no idea what will happen. Watch the Apple tablet hype machine in the next few months and monitor the endless supply of new stories about the death of old meadia – if the rumours are true, the video above could be closer to fact than to fiction.

However will we catalog and barcode that?

In Support and Extension of “An Unformed Thought” by Mick Jacobsen

In Mick Jacobsen’s post, “An Unformed Thought,” in which he discussed the possibility of libraries acting as a hub for information technology needs such as website design and hosting, he hit on a core value of librarianship – community building.  As we strive to build library spaces that are usable and promote interaction and collaboration, we naturally try to enhance interpersonal connections and create conversations that connect our patrons either to us or other users.  And the conversation in the past couple of years has advanced this thought into our online spaces but with a reliance on preexisting technologies like social networks.  Mick, and I in response to Mick, are wondering what more we can do as librarians to advance these online connections.  What web services can we offer as libraries, as hubs of the community, to better carve out community space and information services?  It’s a change in thought from reactive online community building to the proactive.

Clearly there is a reliance on technology with this conversation.  I’d like, however, to hold off on this until a bit later.

Our core values in librarianship revolve around providing information services and we do that quite well.  Cecily Walker comments on Mick’s post:

While we may know a great deal about the organization of information and how that relates to information architecture, and while we understand user behaviour and user needs, the fact remains that web development isn’t really a core competency that is stressed in most LIS curricula at this moment.

Cecily points out that we already have the skill sets in place, sans web development, and as I interpret it we’re some of the most qualified professionals to enact such proactive web initiatives.  I’ve stated in conversations that, yes, I do believe that web development does need to become a core competency in LIS education, but just because it has yet to become so does not mean that we don’t have LIS professionals or students willing to take up the mantle or teach their professional colleagues what it takes.  If anything, librarianship is a teaching mob – a scan of Twitter conversations, LIS blog posts, and e-mail lists shows how much we like to teach what we know and share our ideas.

There is a concern that becoming an online community organizer or website developer adds yet another hat onto our heads to wear everyday.  This is true from a certain perspective.  Speaking from my own, the roles I am handed and those that I volunteer for are always of a hybrid nature.  Refusing the hard and fast allows me to think collaboratively, work uniquely, and experience more in my career.

Reflect on your collective arsenal of skill sets.  If you and your library choose to create and host community websites, and Mick and I so hope you do, take stock of what your staff can and cannot do.  Be honest with yourselves about what you feel can be accomplished and supported without denying the opportunity to learn more.  As with any project, assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of hosting community websites.

Mick and I understand that offering professional grade web development services will, for nearly all libraries, be unattainable.  Creating web applications, iPhone and Android apps, and mesmerizingly beautiful community websites is not what we’re after.  And if he and I are honest with ourselves we would state that this train of thought about hosting for the community is in reaction to the current state of the Web.  We both recognize that (and here comes the technology…) content management systems like Drupal and WordPress now offer easy, secure, and pleasing ways to create quick and usable websites.  Hosting, as well, takes little to no knowledge to create subdomains and register new domains with intuitive web-based dashboards and panels at a low cost for initiatives we’re talking about.

As a profession we have most, some have all, of the skill sets in place to successfully serve our communities, the organizations within, and their information needs in new and unique ways.  We hope you see this opportunity in the same light we do.

TTW Contributor: Kyle Jones
@thecorkboard / thecorkboard

GenX is Making Real Change

A new survey from Forester finds that Gen X info workers are leading the charge for innovation and change with collaborative technology.

This summary is fascinating, especially as I comb through 400 responses from Learning 2.0 participants in Australia. Some respondents actually echo these findings: younger people on staff could use the tools but older staff could make the connections.

A favorite argument among those who talk about the gap between Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y is that the youngest demographic is more adept with technology. According to the survey results, that’s just not true.

Gen X employees contribute to discussion forums and social networks just as much as their Gen Y counterparts. The use of blogs and wikis was either equal or different by just a couple percentage points.

But the most significant difference was not in usage stats. It was how effective employees are at getting new software to be accepted. 22% of Gen X said they felt they have the “clout in their organization” necessary to introduce new technology, while only 13% of those under 29 said the same.

Even if Gen Y was significantly better at using social software, it wouldn’t matter at this point. Obviously younger employees will increase their stature within organizations as the years pass. But the idea of Millennials at the vanguard of innovation in the enterprise is a myth.

Emerging Leaders Group Creates ALA Connect Screencasts!

I am totally knocked out by the excellent work ALA Emerging Leaders Team I did on creating screencasts to highlight all the wonderful features of ALAConnect. As Web Advisory Committee chair, I became the group mentor but my schedule and duties didn’t allow much mentoring – but I knew they were in good hands with ALA ITTS staff who offered support and guidance throughout the project. So please allow me to send them a public “WOOOHOO” on a job well done!

Take a look at the screencasts. You’ll find a promo video, a video highlighting how to integrate Connect with the social tools you currently use, ways to monitor other groups, and much, much more.

This one is a fave:

To all involved – great work! TAKE A BOW.

To folks who haven’t checked out Connect yet, please use these screencasts as a way to get started. You won’t be sorry.

Takin’ It to the Streets

dcpltweetDon’t miss this post by Aaron Schmidt:

On Wednesday afternoons during the Summer outside of the MLK Jr. Memorial Library in Washington DC you will find a table full of friendly librarians talking to the passersby. The librarians also bring out an assortment of library materials to illustrate what’s available in the library. It is a great program and I’d like to see it go even further.

Take a look at the images Aaron shares, highlighting some recent tweet conversations that are perfect examples of the possibilities of engaging with users via Twitter.

The Tech Static

techstaticSad news, Rachel Singer Gordon’s Tech Static is calling it quits.  Tech Static is/was an outstanding resource for reviews of technology books.  Anybody who has collected Dewey 000s knows just how difficult it is to find credible, reliable, and well written reviews of computer books. This is especially true for those who collect that area but do not have a formal background in technology, like me.

I am also disappointed that we let the Tech Static die. Not enough people stepped up when Rachel asked for help. Perhaps you were like me and  had it on your to do list but never actually got around to it (kicking myself). Maybe you did not even know about the Tech Static. Whatever the reason, we failed and have cost librarianship a valuable resource.

I do know that come Monday I will be discussing the Tech Static with my superiors and asking them if we could pledge a small amount per a year.  I hope you will do the same.  Perhaps we can revive this experiment; librarian reviewing books for librarians managed by a librarian.

TTW Contributor
Mick Jacobsen