Category Archives: Library Technology

Celebrating Our Failures

Amanda at blogwithoutalibrary.net writes:

This is from a design/marketing/communications company’s website. I love how they’re not afraid to showcase ideas that didn’t fly:

Think of this as the final resting place for ideas that – for one reason or another – lacked sufficient postage. The road to change is littered with them.

You can’t have innovation without failure, right? I’d love to see libraries celebrating their failures more. If you know of a library that does this, let us know in the comments!

Good stuff. And certainly part of a more open, transparent institution. One commenter ponders that it might not work in  public libraries:

While I think this is a lovely idea in theory, I just don’t see libraries doing it. As much as I would love them to! Public libraries are funded with public money so I’m sure they might see this idea of celebrating “failed ideas” as too close to celebrating “public money wasted”. You know what I mean? I’m not agreeing with that rationale, I’m just putting it out there as one possible reason why were not seeing more libraries do this.

Maybe Academic libraries have more latitude with something like this? I work in a public library and don’t pretend to understand how academics work but perhaps there is less need to be wary of being seen to be wasting money in an academic environment (sorry that was an akward sentence!). Just a thought (but like I said, I don’t know much about academic libs so I could be totally off base).

I think public libraries could certainly do this. Think “Anytown Public Library Innovation Labs” or “Cool County Public Library New Ideas Space” that might spend a bit of time experimenting with new services, new formats and new ways of doing what we do. The program might be prefaced with a statement like this:

Anytown PL’s mission is to promote access to information of all kinds, to anticipate the future needs of our patrons for library services and to give access to ideas in various media. This means we must be looking for new ways to serve our patrons. One way we’ll be doing this is devoting a bit of staff time and library resources to experimenting and trying new things. If you’d like to help, let us know. And we’ll let you know what we’re trying, what hasn’t worked, and what new services we’ll be bringing to you from these explorations.

As a APL patron, I might be very interested to check out the space and see what the staff have cooking. This space might be part of the physical library or part of its virtual presence. 

So, celebrating failures in the public library? I think so. What do you think?

Google Friend Connect

Via Brett Kochendorfer

Google Friend Connect lets you grow traffic by easily adding social features to your website. This means means more people engaging more deeply with your website — and with each other. In this video, Google Product Marketing Manager Mendel Chuang gives a short introduction to Google Friend Connect.

Very interesting -especially the bit about ease of sign on via any number of services and adding the Friend Connect to your site takes no programming skills whatsoever. Looks like ratings, friends and comments can easily be integrated. Ways it might affect libraries:

  • Folks will come to expect this type of functionality more and more. Sites that aren’t “friendly” might not be the most popular.
  • Some libraries will experiment with this as an easy to configure “buy it now” (for free) social option for their sites.
  • This could become a popular add on for many Biblioblogs.
  • It certainly positions Google to have even more integration into what we do on the Web.

Take a look at the video. What other uses do you see? What misuses do you see?

How to Drive Traffic to Your Website

Don’t miss this article from Sarah Houghton-Jan and Aaron Schmidt:

http://www.infotoday.com/mls/nov08/Schmidt_Houghton-Jan.shtml

While there are many quick, one-time things you can do to make your content findable, we’ll address those later. First, we have to make sure that there’s a reason to promote your library and its website. If you’re not offering relevant services or interesting content on your site, there’s really nothing to promote.

The most important and effective thing you can do to make your content findable and to draw people back is the most difficult: Make a good website. Creating a website is ridiculously easy, and it takes about 5 minutes to start a blog. Filling such sites with interesting content, however, takes skill, effort, and inspiration. Anyone can hit the “publish” button, but to learn about the interests of your community and to systematically present relevant content takes time. This is what you must do.

One way to approach the issue of content is to use the strengths of your library’s staff. Perhaps you have employees who are passionate about romance novels or get wired about fixing computers. This excitement will show through if you have them talk about their interests online. One great thing about public libraries is that almost anything in the world is within their scope of interest. Highlighting the expertise of individuals in your library not only can produce interesting content, but it can also illuminate the humans in your facility. This helps build relationships, one of the most important things librarians can do to promote themselves. Good content makes your website more findable because the better your content is, the more people will talk about it and link to it. These links are the lifeblood of Google’s PageRank. And you want links. Badly.

I’ll be adding this to course readings!

7 Ways to Think about Info Lit

Kathryn Greenhill reports on Liz Wilkinson, University of Auckland, presenting at the LIANZA 2008 conference:

 I was very impressed with an information literacy package she had helped to design. Te Punga uses online graphic novels and simulations to introduce students to the library catalogue.

I was even more impressed with her philosophy behind the design – and I have tried to capture this in this movie, Information Literacy: Seven ways to think outside the box. She was very gracious about being filmed with no rehearsal time, and I’m very grateful to her and the University Of Auckland for allowing me to use her words and screenshots from Te Punga in the movie.

Here are her main points:

1. Literacy beyond text
2. Student centred, not library centred
3. Outside experts
4. Involve students
5. Use students’ environments
6. Learning by doing
7. Make students feel at home

How are we addressing these important points in our university libraries? I can identify good examples for all 7 above from some of my travels and visits to various university libraries this year. Which ones have you tapped into?

SLA IT Bulletin: Digital Focus: Michael Stephens

The kind folks at SLA IT Bulletin Digital Focus have given me permission to reprint the interview they did with me last summer here at TTW as part of my digital portfolio. I really appreciate it.

Interview with Michael Stephens – Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Dominican University

For those who may be unfamiliar with you or your work, could you provide a professional description of yourself?

I’ve worked in libraries and LIS education for 18 years. My public library career spanned 15 years, and included positions in Audio Visual, Reference,  and Networked Resources. Throughout that time I was using technology and teaching staff and our public to do the same. I saw the advent of our public library’s first Internet connection and jam-packed lecture-style “What is the Internet?” sessions all the way through launching the SJCPL blog in 2003. The opportunity to teach as an adjunct in the Indiana University SLIS program also put me on the path toward the PhD: in 2004, I was awarded an IMLS-funded fellowship to the doctoral program at the University of North Texas’ Interdisciplinary Information Science program. I joined the Dominican GSLIS faculty in the Fall of 2006a and just completed my second year of full time teaching. I love it! 

Running parallel to the professional timeline above is the fact I started my blog Tame the Web on    April 1, 2003. Since then, my blogging life has grown as well. TTW just turned 5 and I’ve been blogging for ALA TechSource since 2005. I also found my way to Flickr, my favorite social site of all, and to LastFM, Facebook, and YouTube. I still use Flickr the most and enjoy the engagement with others in the professions as well as others who share my interests outside of libraries.

I also do a lot of speaking around the US and internationally. It does my heart good to get to present some of my thinking to others and hopefully inspire them. I usually end my talks with something like: “Go forth! Make libraries better!”

I did seven presentations in five Australian cities this spring, sponsored by the library consortium there. It was truly life-changing to travel that far and get to interact with library folk. I learned a lot and also realized we all face many of the same challenges, no matter where we are.

As someone who is involved in library education, how are you helping to develop the next generation of librarians?  What do you believe the future of library education will look like?

One thing that brought me to Dominican was the emphasis on truth and service in the university’s mission and philosophy. I think it fits well with my personal philosophy of teaching. Preparing new graduates to deal with constant change, use emerging technologies to further the mission of their institutions, and meet the needs of library users while never losing sight of our foundational values and principles is very important to me as an LIS educator.

I wrote about this at TTW as part of a meme that asked educators to share what they want for their students. I want my students at Dominican and any of librarians I talk to to realize what great opportunities there are for libraries and librarians in this ever-changing world if we pay attention to these skills:

If we learn to learn, it doesn’t matter that this week’s hot technology is Twitter and next week’s even shinier tool is something else. We can still figure it out, use our foundational knowledge to make sense of it and decide if it works in our situation. I teach blogging in many of my classes but the real skill I want my students to get is that they can master any technology/system I put in front of them or their new employers may put in front of them and make it work. Blogging is just the vehicle, like using any of the tools we cover in tech-based classes. If we look at current job descriptions right now, some employers are asking for experience with  social tools, open source software, and “emerging trends.” If I can give students a learning laboratory or sand box to try some technologies in the context of meeting a library’s mission or designing a new service (complete with planning, implementation and evaluation), then I’m preparing them for what they will encounter in practice.

If we adapt to change, we aren’t thrown every time the world shifts. That’s one of the most important things I think we could do for students in LIS education – show them that everything will change. What we’re doing in now in libraries is similar but still very different than what folks did 50 years ago. Think about the next 50 years. What’s going to happen when models like the Maricopa County “Deweyless” library or user-based tagging in the catalog really go mainstream. Should we still be teaching curriculum from the 80s? The 90s? I think not. So this  one goes double for LIS educators. I need to stay on the curve (hopefully ahead of it) to keep changing course specifics to adapt to each shift we go through.

If we scan the horizon, we’re trendspotting for the future. I am so inspired by the librarians who try new things, who look outside the field and bring things back.  If we become trendspotters, we have a good chance of creating the next big thing.  We might simply ponder, for example, what the popularity of a certain technology might do to library service.  Or what bigger trends will mean to libraries in the next 10-20 years. I watch Apple, Starbucks and Borders right now amongst many others. Couldn’t we have a genius bar in our libraries (I know the library in Delft does!)? Couldn’t we tap into marketing the “third place” the way Starbucks does so well. And isn’t there a place for the new concepts Borders will be offering: digital downloads, media creation, etc.

If we make sure to be curious about the world, it makes all of the above super easy. Ask questions. What are things going the way they are?

If my students leave my classes as curious librarians ready to figure out the next big thing and make it work in their libraries, then I am doing my job.

The future of LIS education? Great question that I often wonder about myself. We go in cycles: an ALA president or two will make it a focus for their year in office and then the next president is on to something else. A library school will make great inroads into a new area of tech (like San Jose State University’s SLIS Island in Second Life) or improved distance education. And along the way we’ll have lots of conversations about the impact of technology on education in general. What does this mean for LIS education in 10 years? Library school needs a shake-up. Let’s do a complete review of curriculum. If we’re starting to rely more on outsourcing, do we need a full semester of AACR2? We should integrate ever-evolving technology into our courses and teach the students how to manage that change

Much of your work is dedicated to the use of technology in libraries.  What influenced your decision to focus on this subject?   Why did you decide to become active in the field?

I’ve always been drawn to technology — all the way back to my first Apple IIc. It excites me to see how technology can help us extend ourselves creatively and socially. I used my first computer to write up my papers at IU and to participate in the not yet online fan communities I belonged to. I mailed things to people then!

The online services and the Internet made this oh so much easier. I vividly remember those early days of discovering what people put up on their first web page. My learning was framed by popular culture: X-Files fan sites, lyrics servers, movie pages, and the more personal pages of those early Web citizens. 

Look at how far we’ve come in a little over 15 years. The opportunity to participate and extend yourself online into a community based on your interests is there for the taking.

What does Library 2.0 mean to you?  In your opinion, will there be a Library 3.0 to follow?

Library 2.0 is a philosophy of library service discussed, dissected and diluted throughout the profession for almost three years. It’s a way of describing a conversation – a very important one that addresses how the physical and virtual space of the library is presented, how policies are created, and how services will be be evaluated and changed according to user participation. The name spoke to me – it worked. I’ve written about it. But it was also just a way to describe the conversation. We’ve come a long way in the discussions. I think the term will describe a moment in time when we realized how quickly the world was changing and libraries needed to repsond. It’s happened before. It will happen again.

I taught a seminar on Library 2.0 this last semester with three components: an exploration of emerging technologies in libraries, a focus on the physical space and library policy, and readings from LIS theorists and Web 2.0 experts. I was pleased to see my students discover Michael Buckland’s manifesto on redesigning library services, the way I did when I was writing my dissertation. What I wanted them to take away was a that “bigger picture” view: it’s not just a blog on the library Web site but capability for collaboration and participation behind it.

I’m sure we’ll see someone somewhere attempt to use Library 3.0 as a means to sell something, get people to a conference or some such. I don’t think it will stick like L2 has. I do agree, however, with Dr. Wendy Schultz, who also wrote a piece for OCLC NextSpace magazine where I wrote about Librarian 2.0 — it will be a progression to a more evolved space fully grounded in the library tradition – “the knowledge spa.”

Some libraries are slow to adopt technological solutions like Web 2.0 software because they question the value its use can contribute to an organization.  What are your thoughts on this? 

I would tell them to look at the library mission and vision statements. Is there a statement about promoting access or offering technologies to meet the changing needs of the user? If so, that’s a perfect reason to explore what 2.0 tool might work well for fulfilling that mission. Blogs work well – and you don’t even have to call them a blog. A blog can become an easy to configure content management system that hosts all of your content. To me, it’s a good fit for many libraries that want to save time with their Web presence. 

Another reason that libraries should be participating is because of the importance of content. In NextSpace, I urged library folk to understand content. “This librarian understands that the future of libraries will be guided by how users access, consume and create content. Content is a conversation as well and librarians should participate. Users will create their own mash ups, remixes and original expressions and should be able to do so at the library or via the library’s resources. This librarian will help users become their own programming director for all of the content available to them.”

Seattle Public Library has a list of  aims to fulfill the library’s mission on the web site. One of them states that the library will provide:

Appropriate technology to extend, expand and enhance services in every neighborhood and ensure that all users have equitable access to information.

That says to me that the library should be striving to offer access to social software as well as use the same tools to put services where the users are working and living online. Some folks may be curious and want to explore YouTube or Facebook, others may want guidance in the form of a library program about the benefits and dangers of the new online world, while some may want to create something new and send it out into the social networks. All of these things should be an option at the library. It pains me to see the other side of the coin: libraries blocking access to social sites for various reasons: perceived lack of bandwidth, inappropriate use of resources, or because it was making teenaged users rowdy/aggressive. See my discussion of such a ban on teenagers in my hometown of Mishawaka, IN at Tame the Web.

 

How do you keep yourself informed about changes in technology and in the information profession?  What resources do you rely on most?

I rely on the web and my RSS feeds for a lot of my keeping up. I monitor a lot of librarian’s blogs because the conversation is so rich and deep as well as many blogs outside our field. Since coming to Dominican I’ve added feeds from higher ed resources as well. I read but not as much as I’d like. Summer 2008 is mine to get caught up with the stack of books I’ve been collecting. 

I also listen to as many folks as I can when I’m travelling to speak or attend a conference. Those conversations – voices from the field – are very important to me because each year the goes by I am another step away from practice. I can’t effectively teach if I don’t understand what it’s like in the trenches. 

I was sad to see Business 2.0 go out as a monthly magazine, but I religiously subscribe to Wired, Fast Company, MIT Tech Review and Entertainment Weekly. Each one of these keeps me informed in different ways.

Will technology ever replace the librarian?  If not, what influence will technology have on the future role of the information professional?

Librarians will never be replaced. The job titles, duties and locales may evolve, but the foundational values and ethics of the profession will stay the same. 

The most wonderful think about emerging technologies is many of them bring the librarian to wherever the user is online. So our humanity can come through – it’s not just a box on the library Web site – it’s a person you are talking to. The library is human is one of my favorite points about the evolving, hyperlinked library. Human conversations and the human touch are valuable assets to libraries.

Just as other professions evolve, so will ours. I’m excited to see libraries in 10-20 years. 

In your opinion, how can today’s librarian contribute to the innovation of the field?  What suggestions would you have for those who are interested in making an impact on the profession?

Today’s librarian in any library setting can contribute in many ways: exploring emerging trends and applying them to libraries is just a beginning. I’d advocate for librarians interested in creating change to find a social network – the Biblioblogosphere, Facebook, etc — and participate. Comment on others work, create posts or content, etc. I’d urge new grads and LIS students to find a mentor who’ll help and encourage. I’d urge librarians and LIS educators to be a mentor in every possible way.

To make this work I’ll address library administrators for just a moment: PLEASE create a climate of innovation, trust and forward-thinking in your libraries so your staff can innovate and try new things. Support and radical trust must come from the top for these things to be successful. You don’t have to know every little thing about technology just let your staff report out as needed, let them prototype and just say “yes.”

Personally, I would suggest to anyone wanting to make an impact on the profession that they do good work, learn from mistakes, play well with others, and report on their successes and failures. Library bloggers are alive and well and there will always be room for another reasoned and pragmatic voice. As for this interview, if it inspires librarians to share their ideas and “pay it forward”, I will be deeply satisfied.

Links:

Michael Buckland: http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Literature/Library/Redesigning/html.html

Wendy Schultz: http://www.oclc.org/nextspace/002/6.htm

Stephens on Librarian 2.0: http://www.oclc.org/nextspace/002/3.htm

Stephens on Mishawaka Library Ban: http://tametheweb.com/?s=Mishawaka

Seattle PL: http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=about_mission

Taming Technolust: Planning in a Hyperlinked World

I am particularly enjoying this slide this morning. :-)

Here are the slides as PDF from the original keynote file.

Links for the presentation today:

Technoplans Vs Technolust at Library Journal 2004

Taming Technolust article at RUSQ: http://www.rusq.org/2008/08/18/taming-technolust/

Links:

ACRL Changing Roles

“Let Go of Control” Cell Phone Sign: http://www.flickr.com/photos/travelinlibrarian/1924719853

Brian Herzog’s Signs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/herzogbr/2437165908

The Cluetrain Manifesto: http://www.cluetrain.com

Emerging Technology Committee @ TTW

Michelle Boule on Beta

Prototyping from Brian Mathews

Transparency: The Open Door Director

Trend Map: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ross/1082392674/

Open Source Software:

Learning 2.0 & Learn & Play @CML

Be Curious

Library Blog: Embedded Training & Video

http://library.sbcc.edu/2008/09/academic_search_premier.html

I caught note of this via Twitter. Thanks Kenley!

Take a look at this post at the Luria Library’s blog. They’ve turned on video comments as well as sharing an embedded slide show that details basic searching of Ebscohost. 

This so ties into my takeaways from spending a day at IDEA2008. So much of what we do in the library world and design world comes down to interaction, extension of human feeling, offering something useful and ease of use. This is a perfect example of those things coming together perfectly.

Privacy or Marketing Data

Privacy or Marketing Data, originally uploaded by JenWaller.

WOW I am enjoying JenWaller’s set of photos from her tour of DOK. So good to see my Shanachie friends in their library showing things off. Jenn writes:

Erik and Jaap explain and demonstrate how the DOK library cards (and their system) operate. Again, similar to CDR, privacy is a little different here. DOK gathers lots of information about their users, and they use that data to make all kinds of decisions about services, programming, marketing, etc. They said they could tell how much cream a user puts in his/her coffee :-)

I later asked about the Dutch laws as they regard police seizure of this kind of information. The laws are similar to U.S. laws — the police need to present a warrant before private data is handed over. DOK thinks about privacy a lot and tries to balance issues of user privacy with issues of how to best serve their users. In this vein, they periodically do “data dumps” of some of the user information. But some of the staff receive daily reports on what their users are doing.

This is a perfect “field trip” for use in classes. Thanks Jen!

http://flickr.com/photos/jenwaller/sets/72157607216582893/