MARS Panel on Smart Technologies

This morning I was on a panel of librarians talking about ‘Smart Reference Technologies for Tough Times.’ I get to go last, so that means I will be writing about the previous speakers before giving my talk about Ubuntu and OpenOffice.

First up was Chad Boeninger. Chad talked us about giving our work a voice. Chad works with 1800 undergrads and 90 full-time grad students — when he first started doing what he does he had a full head of hair. Chad read a paragraph from Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. In this paragraph it talks about sending emails versus blog posts – when you write an email you only share with one (or a select few) person – but if you put your answers to your questions on the web, then you have the ability to reach more people, your answers have a longer shelf life and you become a resource to many.

The fact is that it is easier to cancel a subscription than it is to re-hire a business librarian – the real power in our libraries are the people. An example Chad gave us was a reference question he got about using Netflix. Instead of replying via chat or email he did a short video and post it to his blog so that he can point the person there and so that others can learn from it – this also means that he has provided a more valuable answer than just telling someone what to do. When looking at the stats for the views to his video, he found that after the students’ projects were due, people were still watching so it’s most likely not his students – instead it’s others on the web. To share this video, Chad also used versus YouTube. He showed us some pretty awesome stats and features of Blip that I didn’t know about – something I might have to consider for my next set of screencasts. The stats provided by a tool like Blip allow you to measure your success and show your value to others.

The other cool feature of Blip is that you can use it to distribute your videos to other outlets with one upload – I’m so switching right now!! :)

Don’t like the idea of doing a video? You don’t have to – in some cases, Chad just writes a blog post and can point people to that. Why? Because he had 2 students ask him the same question and so he figured there would be more. By writing his blog post he made it so that when students go to Google to search for the topic they find his blog post as the second hit!! They recognize the URL and the name associated with the blog and know they have found a trusted resource. Coming back to shelf life, with all of the social sharing tools out there links to your posts or videos are spread wider than you’d ever imagine because people share the link on Facebook and Twitter.

You don’t have to be perfect either, the idea is to be yourself and provide valuable resources to your patrons.

All this costs very little. Chad uses a Flip camera ($129) to record himself – some of you might even have a web cam in your computer already that you can use. He then uses free software to merge the video of himself with the screencast part of things. In the end it takes him a lot less time to do the video than it would to try and explain where people need to click in writing.

Next up Diane Kresh. Her talk was titled ‘Arlington 2.0.’ She works in Arlington County which is the smallest self governing municipality in the US. Even with that her audience is highly educated and very multi-lingual. Because she is competing for funding with other pubic services like police and fire it’s hard to convince people that the library is important. So this means that the librarians need to connect with the users where they are.

They decided to host ‘Camp Tech’ where they (the librarians) learned about various web technologies. They had camp counselors and activities and projects that had to be completed. It’s kind of like 23 Things, but done in a shorter time period with experts around to help you. They learned about wikis, IM, photo and video sharing and social networking sites. Because of this training, they were able to start a virtual reference desk using IM and logged into all of the accounts using Trillian 3.0. To make this work, they have a designated machine at the desk for IM only and then the staff watches that (it makes a noise when a message comes through).

The chat service was for the adults, but the area they put the most attention was on the teens. They created a teen portal and they use that as their blog. They post events, videos, polls and book lists on this site. While they have the blog as the center of their teen portal, they do use blogs in other ways throughout the library. Why blogs? Cause they’re free, easy to update, you can tag the entries, it’s searchable, users can bookmark and subscribe to it, you can embed video and the teens can comment – and comments lead to conversations!

In addition to librarians creating content, they allow the student volunteers to record videos of book talks and create lots of other content for the site – that way it’s teens talking to teens. They also use this content to hook back into other services like Facebook and YouTube to reach users where they are. This content sharing is then self-referencing so all these pages link back to the library site.

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What I Learned at ALA MW

LibLime at ALA

Now listen closely – this is the key to ALA Midwinter – there is more freebies than you’ll know what to do with :)

I saw librarians being weighed down with so many bags, posters, goodies, books, and more it was insane! At the LibLime booth the freebie was a ‡ bag and when we ran out you would have thought that it was the end of the world. If you were one of those people who wanted a bag, but didn’t get one, you can get one at our CafePress store.

Laptop Stickers

As for me, I got some neat laptop stickers and way too many free books :) I just couldn’t pass them up – how do you miss out on free books? I can’t wait to read all of these new (to me) authors. I’m actually excited about ALA Annual cause I can’t imagine how many more books I can get there :) hehe

Anyway, if you go to ALA, make sure you walk the entire exhibit floor – you never know what you’re going to get!!

For those who wanted an insightful, what I learned post from me about ALA Midwinter – remember that I spent almost all of my time on the exhibit floor this year – so that’s about all I can share with you :)

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Come see me at ALA Midwinter

On Weds I fly to Denver for my first ALA Midwinter. I will be in the LibLime booth #722 for most of the time, plus I’ll be speaking in the booth and outside of the booth. Here’s my schedule:

SATURDAY, January 24th

  • 10:30- 12:00 NOON
    Sheraton Hotel, Gold
    Serials Management in Koha’s open-source library software.
    Presenter: Nicole C. Engard, Open Source Evangelist LibLime

    The presentation will help you understand what open source is all about and show you how the Koha open-source automation system cannot only handle your serials in the library catalog, but provide better services to your patrons.

    ALA Midwinter program sponsored by the ALA ALCTS Continuing Resources Section College and Research Libraries Interest Group. (E-Journals All Around: in the Catalog, the Knowledgebase, and the Web)

  • 1:30 – 3:30 PM
    Crowne Plaza Hotel
    Room: Altitude
    KUDOS (KOHA Users and Developers of Open Source) Meeting

    NOTE: This is for users of Koha only. Libraries who are interested in Koha, but have not yet signed a contract with a support provider or implemented Koha on their own, should attend the Koha Interest Group Meeting– see below.

  • 3:30 – 5:30 PM
    Crowne Plaza Hotel
    Room: Altitude
    Koha Interest Group Meeting

SUNDAY, January 25th

  • 3:00 PM – Open-Source Technical Services Tools
    LibLime Booth #722
    Presenter: Nicole C. Engard, Open Source Evangelist LibLime

MONDAY, January 26th

  • 9:30 AM – Koha ZOOM Staff Client Demo
    LibLime Booth #722
    Presenter: Nicole C. Engard, Open Source Evangelist LibLime

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ALA Recommends IE?

I just read my latest issue of American Libraries Online Direct and found out that the ALA MidWinter Meeting Itinerary Planner and Messaging System is now up and ready for use. Only one problem … apparently this site is best viewed in Internet Explorer.

ALA Best with IE

No librarians that I know use Internet Explorer … not unless they’re forced to by their IT staff … so why the heck isn’t this page optimized for Firefox?? Come on people!! Did we learn nothing from the huge security warning we got last week about Internet Explorer? It’s time to make the switch!!

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