Category Archives: LIS Weblogs Rule!

TTW Reading List: Library Blogging

 

As TTW readers may know, I write a lot about the power and potential of blogging in our profession. My dissertation “Modeling the Role of Blogging in Librarianship” examined the motivations of early adopting bibliobloggers while my work with ALA Library Technology reports offered the hows and whys for blogging libraries. I recently got a review copy of Library Blogging by Karen Coombs and Jason Griffey. I must say it fits the bill as a perfect “How to” guide for librarians  from two practitioners and bloggers that’s up to date and pretty darn inclusive.

The opening chapters give the lay of the blogging land and highlight what libraries have done with blogs. It’s a good overview and is rather timely with the examples shared. Because technology, including blog software and CMSs, moves so fast, it’s hard to capture anything in book form that seems current. The companion Web site helps this by including fresh new examples. WordPress.com is explored at length (great for my purposes). I did find the coverage of Movable Type to be surprising, but maybe libraries are still using the platform?

After a detailed section exploring blog software and RSS at a most granular level, the final chapters of the book are the most important to me: what are the implications and uses for blogging?The authors offer some wonderful “thinking out loud” pieces to ponder. What does it mean to participate in “blog culture.” How do we follow the Blogger’s Code of Conduct? What policies and procedures enable successful blogs?

The last chapter is called “Future Possibilities.” The authors explore what we might do with free software such as WordPress? In my mind, there’s no limit where our imaginations might take us with some of these tools. Coombs and Griffey key in on this with brief explorations and thoughts of newer blogging tools beyond just library examples to the realm of archives, collections and community.

If you are starting a blogging project in your library or teaching blogging, I’d recommend this one for sure as an up to date choice. I’ll be using it as a classroom resource in my teaching.

For more, visit http://libraryblogging.com/ and add the feed to keep up with additions to the examples used in the book.

Disclaimer: The authors used a snazzy screenshot of TTW visiting Australia in the book! :-)

From the Director’s Desk

http://plainfieldlibrarydirector.blogspot.com/

The Parking Question

The parking question arises quickly when talking to those who live in the downtown area or who frequent downtown businesses. It comes in several variations:

  • Is the Library going to build a parking deck?
  • Is the Village going to build a parking deck?
  • Couldn’t the Library put in underground parking?
  • Can the Library buy (insert property name/address here) to build more parking?
  • Can the Village buy (insert property name/address here) to build more parking?

Now, I cannot speak for the Village beyond reporting what was said at the Site Feasibility Committee meetings. Those meeting notes are linked on this page, so it’s not a secret. Both Library and Village representatives indicated that they cannot commit to funding a parking deck at this time.

All plans to date do include additional parking to meet zoning requirements of the Village. The Village of Plainfield is working with the Library to ensure that shared parking makes the most effective use of the property owned by each.

The bottom line is that decks and underground parking are EXPENSIVE! More than 10 times the cost per space than at-grade parking. That is a hefty investment for any government entity, but particularly for the Library, which only receives 2.4% of the average homeowner’s property tax.

With cost as the biggest concern of the Telephone Town Hall meeting participants, the Library’s Board of Trustees is committed to a no-frills plan of solid construction that will meet the district’s needs into the next decade, without overburdening the taxpayers today. So far, a parking deck does not fit that commitment.

 

Excellent example of transparency in action as well as a well-written director’s blog.

Blogging Director: Julie Milavec

http://plainfieldlibrarydirector.blogspot.com/

Another nice example of blogging library directors. Take a look, and don’t miss How many square feet does it take to make a functional public restroom which ends with this:

The draft of the building program will be posted here as it nears completion. In the meantime, you can help by submitting your idea here: http://plainfield.lib.il.us/contact/index.asp or jotting it down on a suggestion box slip at the library! It’s your library, so let us know what you want. What spaces/features would make your library experience better?

“Write for the person on the other side of the monitor.”

Nice piece at CopyBlogger called “I Don’t Care About You” at http://www.copyblogger.com/who-cares/

There ate insights here for those who write blog posts for their libraries and all of us who blog. Good stuff.

Egotistical Marketing

We’re an egotistical bunch, aren’t we?

We love to talk about ourselves. We want to tell people how wonderful we are and blather on about how much they need us.

We ramble uselessly about our innovative products and excellent services. We’re all about us.

Want a tip? They don’t care about us.

They care about themselves.

Let’s Talk About You

For content to be effective, it has to be about “you” (as in them), not “we” (as in your company). Most businesses get this wrong, and every sentence (or almost) begins with “we.”

“We do this. We offer that. We, we, we…” all the way home.

Touting your own qualities and greatness has its place, but it can also be a huge mistake.

Want to avoid it?

Flip that attitude 180 degrees. Direct all your attention at the prospect.

What’s the number one rule of engaging people in conversation?

Don’t talk at them; talk about them. People love to discuss themselves. They love hearing about themselves even more. They want to feel as if someone cares… someone who’s listening to and acknowledging them.

People want to hear you hearing them.

What’s Up at Franklin Park Public Library

I’m always happy to hear from former students. I just got a nice email from Mick Jacobsen. TTW readers may remember him from his info about LibGuides. He’s moved on to some cool stuff:

Our first gaming event is taking place later today (spearheaded by me).  We have a Wii and PS2 for DDR.  So far nearly 50 kids of signed up, luckily we also have lots of board games so no riots.  We will have an adult gaming event in the near future and I am working with the senior centers to bring the Wii to them.

The website is rolling along.  I added a new rating system to our blogs, 1-10 stars.  I am hoping it will bring more interaction and ownership of the website to the patrons.  http://www.franklinparklibrary.org

I created a Summer Reading Blog http://www.franklinparklibrary.org/index.php?q=blog/12.   The patrons can submit books using a form I built which emails me the submission and permission to post it on our blog.  I also check out our hand written entries and contact individuals with interesting, different reviews of items.  All the patrons seem pleased to see their reviews of items on the website (especially the elderly who normally don’t look at computers).  Our comments on these items are also stronger than the average blog entry.  I am wondering if I should continue the blog past the Summer Reading and make it just a patron recommendation blog.  I am not sure if the authorship would be there, but it would be a fun experiment. 

I had an article written about one of my projects in the local newspaper.  I am using Google maps to “map” Franklin Park.  I created an image and description Historical map and a modern Places of Note map.  I am in the midst of working on a map of all the road construction taking place in Franklin Park.   I embed the maps on our website and try to get  people involved.  

http://www.franklinparklibrary.org/index.php?q=node/292 for the Places of Note map
http://www.franklinparklibrary.org/index.php?q=node/291 of the Historical map

I am in the midst of a “Splash Page” experiment.  I know many are anti splash pages, but I think they could really work for public libraries and I am conducting a study to see if my hypothesis is correct.  It is not pure science, but does lead to some great conclusions.  

So I emailed Mick and asked if I could publish his update on TTW and would he answer this question:

What’s helped you be most successful with these projects?

His response says a lot about organizational culture, that important sense of play, self-motivation and the wealth of info available online:

In no particular order:

1.  An innate desire to try new things (why else go in to Library Science but to try new cool stuff).

2.  Complete confidence that I have the support from my management (top to bottom) to try new things.  How many libraries would let a new graduate (graduated in January) the freedom that I am given?  I got to redesign, reorganize, rethink an entire website in Drupal and much, much more (I have not told you about very important but not sexy stuff I have implemented e.g. email notices for nearly overdue items, pc reservation, print release, etc.).  Most of the time they have no idea what I am doing, simply trusting that I am doing something beneficial for the library.  It has become a sort of joke, “What have you added this week, haha.”  And I say, well this cool thing called LibX or rating stars or a suggestion form or a summer reading blog or an online sign up for programs, or Google translate, etc.  

3.  The willingness to fail in trying new things (these projects are not necessarily successes as of yet…).  And many grand ideas have failed and been buried, but not forgotten.  

4.  The joy in reading blog after blog ferreting out great info and trying to turn them to library uses.  

5.  Making the time to research, play with, and eventually (or not) implement new ideas.  

6.  Being able to enthusiastically bounce crazy ideas of coworkers without having them get annoyed.   

7.  Not being bogged down by bureaucracy.  

Announcing All Together Now: Learning 2.0

Brian Kenney writes:

Have you heard of 23 Things, the self-guided program for learning about 2.0 web technology? It was developed by Helene Blowers a couple of years ago at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and since then has been adopted across the country by public and school libraries, districts, and even entire states. It consists of a number of “things,” or small exercises, that you do online to expand your knowledge of the 2.0 web and social networking, from blogs and podcasts to wikis and Twitter.

For a while now (and prodded by our Technology Editor, Kathy Ishizuka) I’ve realized it would be a great idea if all of us here at SLJ went through a “23 Things” like experience. After all, we are always writing about different 2.0 applications, shouldn’t we experience them as well? Walk the walk, talk the talk, and all of that…So I resolved that we’d do it this summer.

Then I got to thinking: if we’re going to do it, why not open it up and invite everyone to join us?

So that’s what we are going to do. But Iwe’re not going it alone; we’ve asked 2.0 guru, Dominican faculty member, and season trainer Michael Stephens to join us for the ride. Beginning Monday, July 21, Michael will author a blog here on SLJ.com that will lead us through the different exercises, offer guidance, answer questions, and even provide a little hand-holding. We’re calling it “All Together Now: A 2.0 Learning Experience.”

There’s no need to sign up–just show up. Again, we’ll begin on July 21 and wrap things up in early September. 

Dear Fiona (if that IS your name)

Hi Michael,We just posted an article, “100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites You’ve Never Heard Of”  (No link love here – MS) I thought I’d bring it to your attention in case you think your readers would find it interesting. Either way, thanks for your time!

Fiona King

 

Dear Fiona – So glad I heard from you yet again, because I had saved a link to Stephen Francouer’s post “On Not Being Scammed:”

http://www.teachinglibrarian.org/weblog/2008/07/on-not-being-scammed.html

I hope Stephen doesn’t mind me shamelessly quoting his whole post – I just can’t help myself:

In the past month, I’ve received a couple of emails from “Fiona King” asking me to write about some library-related content on two different web sites that both focus on distance ed. I didn’t pay much attention to those email messages, the like of which I mostly receive from vendors hoping that I’ll mention their product on my blog (which, by the way, I never do).

I noticed that a few bloggers, though, had decided to post links to the blog posts that Fiona had suggested. Wondering who was behind the distance ed sites where those blog posts resided, I did a little investigating and discovered:

  • neither site has any sort of “about us” or “who we are” content (first red flag)
  • each site had a different person who registered it (learned this by doing a whois lookup)
  • after googling the two people who registered the sites, learned that they are in business together and hope to get “fabulously rich” through SEO efforts and viral marketing of their blog network
  • after searching the web for info on “Fiona King,” I came to the conclusion that she is the creation of the two bottomfeeders who created the distance ed sites

Although the content that “Fiona” asks us to link to is somewhat interesting, the methods that are being used to get us to link to it and the ulterior motives of the folks behind these emails is troubling at best. I have no interest in linking to their content just to help them “monetize” blogs under their control. They’ll have to find other ways to make money not involving me.

I had always felt a little weird about your emails before and now I know why. Please do not send me links again.

Sincerely,

Michael

 

Thanks Stephen for the insight into this “troubling” practice.

SJCPL Blog Patron Posts

http://www.libraryforlife.org/blogs/lifeline/?p=5181

An inspired way to invite participation in the library blog! The folks at SJCPL are featuring library patron John D. Smith sharing how he uses the library. I heard that this will be the first of an ongoing series. Think about it: John tells family and friends he’s posted on the library blog and they take a look, etc. This could lead to more participation and maybe even folks asking to do guest posts!

Well done SJCPL!

The Reference Blog: Evidence for Success

Stephen Francouer writes about the usefulness of his library’s Reference Blog:

I am really pleased with the way that our library’s reference blog,Reference at Newman Library, has continued to thrive after being launched four years ago. We’ve now posted over 1300 messages (and hundreds of comments, too); our weekly average is about a dozen posts.

When we started the blog, it was intended to do away with the informal and haphazard systems we had to notify each other at the desk of technical problems and to alert each other to new resources and tools. We had been using:

  • notes taped to the desk
  • a printed reference manual in a 3-ring binder, which is now replaced by our password-protected reference wiki (screenshots)
  • emails on internal listservs
  • word-of-mouth (i.e., tell the person coming on after you at the desk what to watch out for)

With the blog, we made all that great content easy to publish, easy to share, and easy to find again later. Since most of my colleagues don’t like using feed readers to keep up with RSS feeds, I set up a system to forward every post to them via email as soon as the posts are published.

 

I’m pleased to see a discussion of this type of anecdotal evidence/support for using blogs and CMSs to improve productivity. This should definetely be part of the evaluation process. A click through reveals a survey on the blog itself: Where do you primarily read this blog’s posts? I agree with Stephen and the results of this small survey of the blog’s users – getting library on oard with RSS aggregators is an important and logical next step.