Category Archives: TTW Contributor: Kyle Jones

Kyle Jones on WP as LMS: “Open System, Open Learning” WordCamp Chicago

Open System, Open Learning – WordCamp Chicago 2010

View more presentations from Kyle Jones.

I’m pretty darn proud of my former graduate assistant and TTW Contributor Kyle Jones. Take a look at his recent presentation at WordCamp Chicago. I’m also incredibly proud of him because he’s been accepted into the doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin Madison to study LIS and instructional technology. He’s got a great TA position and everything!! With Kyle’s library background from Elmhurst and Dominican, his  excellent coding skills and a focus on instructional design in his coursework, he’s going to be an incredible professor! :-)

Everyone send some warm wishes his way too – he’s getting married this weekend!

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
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Kyle Jones, TTW Contributor
@thecorkboard
thecorkboard.org

Gearing up for New LIS Class Sites

Michael’s EDUCAUSE Learning Initiatives 2010 conference presentation where he discussed “The Hyperlinked Campus” leads nicely into a recent post I made detailing exactly how Michael and I put together his course sites from a technical standpoint.

If you’re looking to break free from the constraints of your learning management systems (LMS), I highly suggest you look into using WordPress MU and BuddyPress for a custom LMS.  See all the details here: http://thecorkboard.org/blog/enhancing-wordpress-as-lms/

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Kyle Jones, TTW Contributor
@thecorkboard
thecorkboard.org

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

Piloting BuddyPress as a LMS

Beginning this Fall semester, Michael Stephens and myself (Kyle Jones) began piloting an open source learning management system (LMS) built on WordPress Multi User (WPMU) and BuddyPress.  This post explains our history with WPMU, the move to BuddyPress, and some of Michael’s initial thoughts on the pilot.

By TTW Contributor Kyle Jones
http://thecorkboard.org
@thecorkboard

Continue reading

Library Job Searching in a Tough Economy

When I read recently that I had been one of 200 potential candidates for an academic library position I came to the sad realization that, yes, this economy was going to affect my job search tremendously.  As a recent graduate from Dominican University’s LIS program, I’ve been on the hunt for a few months and my techniques for searching have changed quite dramatically.  I used to sample a few sites a couple times a week and browse through the listings in ACRL publications, but recently I’ve refined my attack to be much more effective.  I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

You may ask, “why unveil your modus operandi to potential job-seeking competitors?”  Well, we’re all hurting when it comes to job searching.  My father was recently unemployed for nearly a year.  I watched him stress out over personal, financial, and professional concerns as he looked and looked for something new.  Luckily, he was hired by a non-profit company, and, I hope, has let some of those concerns wash away.  I hope that some of these techniques may help you avoid the stress that has affected my father and many like him and help you find that position you so dearly seek like I do.

Please add your techniques or sites in the comments.

Twitter

You may have dismissed Twitter as another social networking fad or annoyance or haven’t looked at Twitter as a job searching tool, but I ask you to reconsider.  There are a few solid Twitterers out there that list new library jobs as tweets:

Facebook

I’m not all that active on Facebook but I did notice that ALA’s JobList was active on this social networking site.  Please leave a comment if you know of any other library job sources on Facebook

Forums

Rachel Singer Gordon has brought us another wonderful library-related project with her LISjobs.com forum.  You can find postings, discussion, and even a good share of encouragement if needed.  Again, if you know of any other library-related job forums please share them in the comments.  And thanks again, Rachel, for your services.

RSS

Using Google Reader combined with an application called EventBox, I’ve been following RSS feeds quite closely.  Of all the “new” tools out there to help find new jobs, RSS is probably the most useful.  Major sites like Educause, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many others provide feeds for certain types of positions, categories, or even search phrases.  I’ve found that some human resources pages of organizations include RSS feeds, but not nearly enough as I’d like.

Tabbed Browsing and Favorites

When all the new tools of the web fail you, go ahead and rest on the tried and true techniques like adding sites as favorites.  For those sites that don’t offer RSS feeds or organizations that I want to make sure I know when jobs have opened up, I favorite their human resources page.  I then put all those favorites in a folder and a couple times a week open those favorites in tabs in Safari (or your browser of choice) and skim the postings.


TTW Contributor: Kyle Jones
http://thecorkboard.org
@thecorkboard

KGB Answers your Text Messages

kgbNo, it’s not the secret service of the Soviet Union – it is, however, the commercialized reference desk.  KGB, or the knowledge generation bureau as they sometimes call themselves, provides a two-way text reference service straight to mobile devices.  Anywhere.  Anytime.

Which begs these questions: What about the reference desk?  Why not ask a librarian?

You’ll never hear me say or read that I think the reference desk is dead – because it’s not.  But I will say that we can see in the KBG that there is a niche for text message information resources and they are filling it.  The question I personally wonder about is how libraries should respond.

KGB has the distinct advantage of being a company with a clear vision to provide this particular type of reference service.  Libraries are obviously multifaceted in the ways they provide information resources and this dilutes, to some extent, the ability to provide a highly used text reference service.

I would venture to guess that the success depends on marketing.  KGB has created a marketing campaign, traveled the country, and has a very clear brand.  If libraries are to create their own “KGB” service it will all come down to how it is pushed to the user and the community the library serves.

So I ask Michael’s fervid readers this:
Should libraries respond to KGB and offer their own text reference services?


TTW Contributor: Kyle Jones
http://kylejones.thecorkboard.org

Fostering Creativity

As a soon-to-be graduate of Dominican’s GSLIS program and in need and want of a new job, I watch the job lists pretty closely.  My interest was piqued quickly as I came across a posting for a “Creativity Library Manager” at the University of Nebrask at Omaha.  Part of the post reads:

This newly created position is responsible for developing and operating a unique, experimental library to support creativity in all fields of endeavor. The successful candidate: will identify and select library materials that inspire new ways of thinking; will assist users with materials and extensive, leading-edge technological resources; will provide outreach and promotional programming…

To me it’s outstanding to see libraries proactively seeking to transform their spaces to stimulate the creative processes of students and users.  I know many libraries are taking into consideration what types of environments kindle the innovative spirit and they, too, like the Univeristy of Nebraska at Omaha should be given credit for recognizing the importance of the library as a creative place.

~TTW Contributor Kyle Jones
kylejones.thecorkboard.org

Thanks and Happy Holidays

Before Michael puts Tame The Web to rest for the holidays I just wanted to say a quick thank you.

You might be asking, “why the thanks?”  Well, to be honest I have to say that spaces like Tame The Web, Twitter, Facebook, and other online networks have connected me with the profession in more ways than I could have ever imagined.  I’ve had some great professional dialogues about the state of librarianship and its future.  I’ve met some wonderful folks and I hope to continue to build these relationships and create even more.  With two classes left at Dominican University’s GSLIS, I’ve started to realize how grateful I am for already having such a wonderful professional network.  So, thank you for the conversation and the professional development.

I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season,
~Kyle Jones~
-TTW Contributor

Rate that library website @ Libsite.org

I’m a big follower of library websites.  They are virtual representations of their physical presence and they also say a lot about a library’s innovation (or lack thereof).  All this summer I investigated different libraries to see what they were doing and how they were designing their online presences as I redesigned the website for my employer, the A.C. Buehler Library at Elmhurst College.  But it would have been great to know that I could have gone straight to one location to look at a plethora of library websites instead of Googling sites I knew of.

Well – that one location is Libsite.org.

Libsite lets users contribute their own site (or even others) for screenshot viewing, rating, and commenting.  So go register your site and get some feedback.  Oh, and while you’re there give this site a good once-over.

~Kyle Jones~
TTW Contributor