After completing Dr. Stephens SJSU online course in Fall of 2012, I was inspired to develop a personal blog on library innovations and social media in libraries. In many of our course assignments and projects, we explored and played around with Web 2.0 tools, and using templates developed by Professor Stephens, we trained on how to implement these tools in our libraries and personal lives. We learned how to talk about them with others, from our patrons to our administrators. Blogging about my two loves – social media and libraries – would become a worthwhile cause.
The Social Media Plan
One of my favorite assignments in The Hyperlinked Library was the social media plan. Imagine a strategic plan, marketing plan, bibliography and road map that can be implemented tomorrow, and you have Dr. Stephen’s social media plan. I immediately saw the appropriateness and applicability of the social media plan in developing a professional blog, and approached Dr. Stephens in the Summer of 2013 to be my faculty advisor for an independent study project (LIBR 298) entitled “Library Currents.”
In the planning phase, I determined a general concept for Library Currents (www.librarycurrents.com), which was to create a blog that reviewed social media technologies and included them in a directory that librarians could assess for reference work. But I had to keep my mind open to other avenues of content, if the audience for social media in libraries wasn’t there. My first order of business was to create listening posts using RSS feeds and social network news feeds, such as those found on Facebook and Twitter. I added feeds of authoritative blogs and library-related organizations to not only listen to what they had to say about emerging technologies, but also to converse with them as well.
Listening to the Conversation
In the research phase, I read papers provided by Dr. Stephens on his research in social media and Web 2.0 technologies, while also listening to the RSS and social media feeds that I set up in the planning phase. I followed Pew Internet Research data and reviewed the recent literature both online and in scholarly journals to determine if a library blog focused on social media would have any legs. What I discovered was eye-opening.
I learned that social media doesn’t necessarily stand on its own. In my research, I discovered that social media was intertwined with other types of innovations, such as emerging technologies, augmented reality, and informational trends. With this information, I knew that Library Currents would focus on broader library innovations combined with social media.
The planning and research phases ended with the development of a 7-page social media plan for the Library Currents blog. The final version of the document can be found at: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2EVnCwWuZE5UFB1Z1JoTVo1SGs
Putting the Plan into Action
In my research during the implementation phase, I discovered that WordPress, Drupal and Joomla were the top three open source content management systems (CMS) internationally. I decided to try out and create demos of each CMS, grading them on a 100-point scale in areas such as user experience, functionality, and development capability. WordPress scored the highest among the three CMS platforms, and a clean copy was installed for use as the CMS of Library Currents. A cost analysis was performed in time and finances, which is detailed in the implementation report, found at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2OLXz0nbffdc0dIazRLVGJWM28/
Creating Content and Evaluating the Site
In the final phase of the Library Currents blog project, I created content using the new WordPress interface, and populated the Library 2.0 Directory with web 2.0 and LIS resources. The resources uploaded into the directory would be the subjects covered in my blog postings, making the directory complementary to the blog. For evaluation of the new blog’s design and content, I created a poll using Survey Monkey, and would create more assessments going into 2014. Future posts will discuss results of the surveys and implications for site improvement.
Riding Library Currents into the Future
When I started the Library Currents project, I wondered what the blog development process would look like if I left no stone unturned. I knew that the social media plan would be an excellent way to do this. The plan works into the future five years, and includes personal investment in networking at conferences and other important activities to grow conversation on the website, such as inviting guest bloggers on Library Currents.
When you learn about and apply the concepts of The Hyperlinked Library, you become an advocate. You turn towards many of the key ideas in this philosophy to develop library service, whether the service is in a building or on a blog. The plan I created holds true to the value of The Hyperlinked Library, from creating conversations about the role of innovations in library service, to avoiding technolust by researching software and doing your homework before going out on that limb. And I do get to play around with new technologies and have some fun, too! With the newly launched Library Currents blog, I feel like I can begin my true work in advocating for participatory library culture.
Mickel Paris is a third-year MLIS Graduate student at San Jose State University and dreams of world travel. He is the creator of the Library Currents blog and dabbles in web development and social media strategies for Los Angeles area clients. To keep up with his future posts, you can add him on Twitter @librarycurrents