Category Archives: TTW Contributor: Lee Leblanc

Do we really look bored?

katz said it.

“…you can walk up to the bored looking person behind the desk known as the reference librarian and ask for a brief tutorial on how to use the journals…”

Maybe it is time to re-think reference. Katz did say the reference desk has been blown apart and I hear from many librarians he did write the book on Reference.

In this thread, there’s also some very interesting talk about the value of a library/ value of library services to students. The perceptions/ misperceptions are very interesting.

TTW Contributor- Lee LeBlanc

You didn’t hear about it here, right?

You didn't hear about it here

“Ars spoke with Steven Lareau, the IT chair for Clemson’s student advisory council. According to Lareau, Clemson previously “had an awful web-based e-mail system” (SquirrelMail). Lareau says that they compared Microsoft’s Outlook/Exchange combo with Gmail, and Gmail came out on top.”

When I see students frustratingly loose USB drives with their term papers, have to use multiple online systems like BlackBoard or another CMS, and a University email system all which typically do not facilitate communication for group assignments resulting in rounds of emailed documents where there are no IM clients to connect with fellow students in their classes who all use some kind of online presence like MySpace or FaceBook to keep up on their social lives and talk about their classes, I come to completely understand those students’ view of an overly-distant-administrative-technological bureaucracy that seems to clearly not be paying attention to who is really using the technology. Several students where I’m getting my masters have already signed up for Google Apps Team Edition. I don’t doubt the time will be here soon when we have a critical mass of students avoiding closed, stale, clunky, university email and comfortably collaborating online.

TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc

What kinds of conversations can you have?

Some pretty neat ones.

I quickly posted on January 29th, “What are they doing right?” It was about the MCCL homepage. Which led to some lively comments. Some liked it. Some pointed to areas that needed improvement. Lisa, the web designer for the MCCL site responded about the design. Then something neat happened, one of the commentors, Brad, made a mock-up of the site as he saw it. Whether you agree with the new mock-up or the original site the larger point is: you’ve just seen how being transparent, being willing to do work and being willing to share ideas can lead in entirely new directions. Let’s not forget the speed at which this was done. It doesn’t take forever to get feedback on any kind of design you want to implement. Feedback is part of your project, right?

Brad wanted to expand his thoughts. Maybe Lisa will look at those ideas and use some. Maybe she won’t. But, at the very least some fertile web design conversation has happened. Even if only for me. Imagine if this was a larger project. Can we see how allowing people to comment & share generates new and interesting results? Are these lessons we can use within our own libraries? How much untapped talent could we harness by forming collectives for work on databases, OPACs, or websites? Share your work with your colleges. It makes you stronger.

I’m very impressed by both web pages. I’m impressed by everyone who slowed down to think about what they liked or didn’t like about library homepages. Furthermore, I’m impressed by the large amount of talent in the information landscape. Sometimes you can feel like a target, completely overlooked, or entirely mis-understood online, so I thank Brad and Lisa for engaging in a great dialog and helping other professionals think about what works, what doesn’t and why.

Checkout the original and the mock-up.

-TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc.

How many social sites are you using?

Librarians, Library Staff, and Information Professionals:

How many social sites are you using? Take the survey.

The social web browser: Flock is available for Mac, Linux, and Windows. This browser is integrated with a rich feature set. From Blogger to Flickr to Xanga, if you’re using any Social Media sites personally or for work it may be worth your time to check out Flock. The Flock folks have geared this browser towards saving steps and streamlining your online life.

trying flock again

What are they doing right?

What are they doing right? a lot.

1. Use the website as a tool to feature resources and not visually overload the user.

2. Use purposeful design cues to help user navigate the site and not force the user to decipher what is important on the homepage.

3. Use the homepage as a starting point and do not try to put everything on the homepage.

4. Use descriptive bold headings to focus your attention and -not library-ese. Actually, this sums up library-ese.

Part.1: What are some ideas to be looking at?

What are some ideas to be looking at?

Part.1 leads into Part.2 which is coming in a few weeks. Producing a video is not easy (at least for me it wasn’t.) More to come on this “walking the talk” tech thing in Part.2. Right now, we’re just going to talk about ideas. Let’s start with a persona to explore: free and open source software, texting, internet-enabled devices, surprising facts, and strategy. What do we see with all this? Here’s an experimental persona to tie the ideas together. We’re not concerned with what’s possible but with what’s not possible and then how to get there.



…Driving down I-95, Jennimi ticks off the items on her to-do list. Suddenly, Jennimi a regular library user, gets a text message: “Your book is on hold.” Jennimi also notes there is a question: “Will you physically come to the library yourself to get the book”

No leaves her alone.

Yes gets a google map mash-up that overlays the library collection with a location map. She can not only drive to the library but walk right to where books are placed on hold. Storing that information while down shifting gears, Jennimi gets off the highway and decides to get that book -and maybe others. At the library, Jennimi snaps, with her iPhone, a picture of the section of books she wants to read about further.

Since the library has a wireless network, the image posts seamlessly to her flickr account. A friend sees this and comments on her flickr page: “Hey I posted a review & my notes into the library’s OPAC. Great book! Also get American Born Chinese.” All possible because the patron side can be tagged, wiki-ed.

OH NO! Jennimi gets slightly lost in the stacks! So rather than getting frustrated by walking all the way down stairs, she remembers the OPAC has IM. In a few lines of an IM chat, Jennimi gets directions to the section and is lost no more. Additionally, since Jennimi opted-in to the ILS system and allowed an API to aggregate selected information behaviors, she gets sent an email asking:

–found what you need?
–want more information sources on your subject?
–would you like to get news about upcoming Library talks by professional authors?
Jennimi definitely feels technology aided her learning today in a completely untethered way. She completely felt like the library helped guide her information experience. Having a good feeling about the library and how wonderfully integrated the services are in her life, Jennimi voted Yes! on proposition 121 to increase library funding for technology.


Breaking down this persona, here’s just some segments built in but not technically explicit.

How can we combine the best of what’s free and open? How can we leverage many libraries’ buying power? What about consortium that address different library needs rather than consortium based on geography? Can you imagine forming a consortium to get done something specific like a new open source ILS ? Liblime is paying attention to this. Could larger, more massive library vendors take note? Among the innovations LibLime are at work on:
IM in the catalog
Using APIs (If you’ve heard Michael talk, you know he talks about this being a big & rising trend.)
Flexible, fast implementation of technology services via partnerships
(note: I don’t work for Liblime but I like what they do.)


Are you txting?
Watch texting rise this year as a powerful communication method. Check out Michael’s pic about txting from Mall of America. Around the world: rice farmers in the Philippines get information from a text center. Texts are an easy way to do a soft-push, opt-in, specific focus of information. We’ll see txting rise a service for various organizations. Could you text your library hours when they change on holidays? Could you text users the morning books are due, before they leave their house? Could you announce special events via a txt’d url? Are you using Elf?


What device will become “the device” our users prefer?
Could it be the iPhone? Paper-thin laptops? Devices that project a air-light-display? One thing is absolutely sure: computing/information technology moves towards ubiquity. Which may bring to out into the open things that we didn’t want to see but need to change.


Would it be a big surprise to learn that most students believe that technology improves their learning ? This could be true for all types of library users. How will we stumble on & put to use the emerging technologies and social networks that will hook students/parents/users? “…as students become more and more connected to each other through various online mediums, they’re also becoming more untethered, with laptops and smart phones keeping them physically apart. As a result, the “emerging Web 2.0 paradigm” of “immerse environments” and dynamic information promise (or threaten?) to upend traditional pedagogues and even the way students learn, the authors conclude.


Do most >insert your kind of user here< have a strategy for managing their information information? Should they have to manage information? If you had to teach students how to manage large, interconnected sets of information so that precision and recall were augmented, what personal strategies would you share?
–a system of personal appointment planning?
–a way to organize files, paper and electronic?
–a personal metadata system for naming files?
–an information processing system
–project management processes?
Could you teach a student/researcher/patron project management in tiny pieces by using what they are searching for rather than formal instructional classes not tied to their interests?


Using information-enabled devices will give us access to more powerful information systems. Our information seeking behaviors will come to be shaped not only by the information we seek but the devices (hardware and software), and access channels (internet, txt), that we seek information through. The computer will only be one of these devices. The OPAC will only be one way to interact with our users. Open source software will become ripe and blossom. The website as a wayfinding point for services, information, or experiences is just starting to be tapped. Making our systems a forgiving-process, a guiding-process, a helping-process, an interactive-process, an organizing process, and a fun-process creates unique experiences for our users.


This is the information-experience economy. Telecommuters could live anywhere they want. Most live in large cities. Why? Because they (on average) use technology to increase their social interaction. Most aren’t recluses living on top of a mountain (while I realize that does not sound bad to some of us -perhaps all of us at some point). Think about the different ways you may increase your socializing: via phone calls, txting, flickring , tagging, emailing… How do we first say yes and then figure out how to do all this? Practice. Lots of practice. Lots of play. Go get into your sandbox. Have fun today. If play wasn’t so important, we wouldn’t be playing around with new technologies as “adults.”

NOTE: Jennimi would never get lost -anywhere.

Continue reading Part.1: What are some ideas to be looking at?