Library 2.0: Setting up the New Stuff

Next I heard David Lee King talk about Library 2.0 “Setting up the New Stuff”. While I obviously have a feel for some of the basic technologies that David went over, I’m still glad that I attended this event so that I can share what I learned with you all.

David broke the talk into 3 parts. Part 1 – He answered some questions.

Why?

Just cause we can isn’t a good enough reason (but it is a good reason in my opinion to play and experiment – if it’s free and easy – why not?). We need to think about how these tools will meet the changing customer needs (Like Lee said in the keynote – web users want to participate on our library websites – they want our sites to act like the rest of the web), how it will help us stay culturally relevant and how we’ll keep our digital spaces up to date.

What?

There are lots of options out there to choose from – once again think before jumping. Use your library’s mission to help you pick tools that will help you meet those goals. Think about what you want the end result to be – do you want a place to share library news and have users comment? Then a blog might be your answer. David asked how many people had a comment box in their library – and only 2 hands were raised – but he made a good point, don’t you think users would be more likely to leave a comment via a web form than that box sitting at the circ desk??

Who?

Specifically – who does the work? Both staff and patrons can do the work. Staff members should be chosen because of an interest in the topic – not because of the department they work in. Patrons can help by commenting, adding to wiki pages, and creating groups with a vested interest in the library and the library site.

How?

Always remember to include administrators and managers – you’re going to need them (you never know when you might need to request to equipment). Consider how much staff time you’re going to need – not just to start using the new tool – but to keep it going. Last and most importantly, ask yourselves – do we have willing participants, and if not, can we make them?

When?

To quote David “Like, yesterday”. A lot of these tools have simple install files or sign up pages, it takes nearly no time at all – remember the Web 2.0 video (The Machine in Using Us)? Well, towards the end of that they create a blog in less than 10 seconds. That said, it does depend on whether you want to start big or small – if you want to use the predefined settings and templates or create your own.

So – that doesn’t sound too scary does it?? Next David moved on to Part 2: Content, Container and Customer.

David asked us who had taken a writing for the web class – and not many people raised their hands – which is okay because it’s not just about writing anymore – it’s about video, voice, and so much more. You have to remember to keep a conversational tone when creating content for the web – this is a hard thing for some librarians because they were taught to be professional and proper at all times – well, that just ain’t so anymore :) Once you get the hang of it it really does make it more fun to create for the web. He also showed us a few library blogs started in 2005 that haven’t been posted on in as much time – you have to create often – if you can’t don’t try. If you think it looks unprofessional to write in a conversational tone, just imagine what it looks like to have a page that says “The newest news from our library” that was last updated in January of 2005.

Like I’m about to do with this summary – David says we don’t have to write for just one place – we can re-use content all over. I post these summaries to at least 3 (sometimes 4) blogs. David uses blip.tv to upload his videos because they have a service that lets him send his content to a bunch of other places as well. How does this apply to your library? At Internet Librarian last year I attended a session on RSS & JavaScript. The gist was that you don’t need to know how to code to get an RSS feed to print on your web page – you can use a blog and copy a bit of JavaScript and you’re set. This is one of those ways where you care publishing in 2 places. You can write to the blog, but others can read the content on your library website, pathfinder, or links page.

I mentioned the inviting participation series of posts a while back – what a great time to bring them back to the forefront. There are 2 ways of inviting participation. One is passive and that is to write compelling content and allow comments. There is also an active way (that sounds like a great idea). On David’s library’s blog (Papercuts) they write a weekly post they ask a question (What’s your favorite book? Who’s your favorite author? etc) and that makes people feel like their participation is appreciated. This goes for both staff and patrons!

Next the container. Like I said before, do you want your page to use the default template or a fancy-schmancy one? This doesn’t just go for you blog either – MySpace and other social networking sites offer you different design options. My recommendation is to play first and design later – make sure it’s going to stick before you spend too much time on it.

Last (but not least in my book) the customers. One of the ways that social networking is “social” is that most of these tools have a friends or contacts list. These don’t have to be your “real” friends, they can be your customers/patrons – by adding them as your friends they can easily subscribe to your content on Flickr, MySpace, etc etc. Allow your patrons to comment – this can’t be stressed too much!! Our customers can also be creators, let them participate and let them contribute – it’s what they want.

The last part was a list of the specifics for those I’ll point you to Michael Sauers’ summary (he was sitting next to me) – he did a great job of listing all of the specifics you’ll have to think about – since it looks like I’ve rambled on enough already!!

[update] See David’s Slides [/update]

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The Long Tail

I’m currently reading The Long Tail (I know I’m behind the times) and loving it. I want to share a few things I read this morning on the way to work (for those who haven’t read the book yet).

The first was on page 64. Anderson is talking about how we can all be producers now – how computer games are coming with the tools to create your own movies:

However, once you know what’s behind the curtain, you begin to realize that it could be you. It is when the tools of production are transparent that we are inspired to create. When people understand how great work is made, they’re more likely to want to do it themselves.

While Anderson is using movies, music and writing as his examples – what about programming? That’s what I first thought of. That sense of “I did that” when you look at a working application you’ve developed for your library. Plus, if we share our code (open source) people are more likely to see that they too can do what we’ve done. There is a fear of programming – and I guess computers (a little bit still) that people might get over if they had the opportunity to learn a bit of programming and then see the code behind our great works. Now that I understand what the symbols mean and the syntax is I can look at other’s code and say – “OH! That’s how it’s done” and I can duplicate it. So for me (and probably for other programmers) open source is part of that Long Tail – and it’s a way for people without massive skills to still produce great works.

Next up – blogging.

I know a librarian (no names) who doesn’t find blogs as useful as I do. We constantly “discuss” the value of blogs. I’ve also had a lawyer ask me about authority when it comes to blogs. My answer was that I’m not looking at blogs for authority necessarily – I’m not using them for research I’m using them for enrichment – for learning about what’s going on out in the library world and then doing my own research to further my knowledge. Anderson says (pg 69):

Wikipedia should be the first source of information, not the last. It should be a site for information exploration, not the definitive source of facts. The same is true for blogs, no single one of which is authoritative. Blogs are the Long Tail, and it is always a mistake to generalize about the quality or nature of content in the Long Tail – it is, by definition, variable and diverse. But collectively blogs are proving more than equal to mainstream media. You just need to read more than one of them before making up your own mind.

That’s a much better way of making the same argument I was trying to make ;)

Lastly, Anderson quotes Paul Graham (pg 70) who says:

Google doesn’t try to force things to happen their way. They try to figure out what’s going to happen, and arrange to be standing there when it does.

Libraries should think more like this :) Not that we’re forcing things to happen our way – but I also don’t think most of us are thinking to far into the future either. We all know that we’re going to have to let go of some of the control on our sites if we’re going to keep people visiting – I know I’ve had to let go a lot over the last 3 years – allowing anyone on the staff to make changes to the website without going through me first. While this has made my work life easier, it was a hard thing to let go of. And there are many similar situations that we’re going to be facing in our libraries and on our websites. Users want to participate and collaborate – that’s a big part of the Long Tail and we’re going to have to let go at some time.

Just my 2 cents after reading those few pages. Great book for anyone who hasn’t read it yet – I was a bit worried about it being too much about economics – but it’s very practical and easy to follow.

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Inviting Participation

David Lee King has a great post (a series to follow) on Inviting Participation in Web 2.0.

I've attended and/or read this past year, the presenters/writers have been saying that Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 are all about starting conversations, building community, and telling our stories. But the writer/presenter tends to skip over what I think is the most important part – they never explain how to do it. Instead, they continue on with the next Powerpoint slide or paragraph…

So David is going to tell us how! But it’s not as simple reading what he has to say – he’s asking us to participate – will you participate? I will!

Keep an eye on David’s blog for the next post in the series.

Making Time for Web 2.0

David Lee King has a great post about Making Time for Web 2.0. He has broken out his tips into 2 groups – one for admins & one for staff (but I think everyone should read both parts – it’s not that long after all).

One of the excuses that David (and all of us) hears from staff is:

“We don’t have enough staff to do these new things.” When I hear this excuse (because that’s really what it is), I think back to the NEKLS Technology Day I attended. I was on a discussion panel with a librarian at a small library. She is the ONLY staff member at her library, and yet she has time for a library blog and console gaming nights.

If a one-librarian library can do these things, then you can, too. Sometimes it’s not really a staffing change that’s needed; instead, a mental change, or a change in focus, is what’s needed.

That’s the whole point – a mental change is needed! Librarians need to realize the wealth of information out there – and it can be found simply by taking 20 minutes out of your day to read through the librar* blogs that are out there.

I have posted this post from David on our Intranet – I hope you all do the same for your staffs!

Getting angry

I have been trying to buy my textbooks for classes for the last 3 weeks, but Drexel does not make it easy – in fact they make it down-right difficult. First of all they “require” you to buy your books from their bookstore – how? Well you search for your class and section (using the most idiotic interface ever) and then you see the required texts – but you don’t see all of the info you need. You see the last name of the author and an abbreviated title. No edition, No ISBN, nothing that will make it easy to find the book elsewhere.

So I search the library to see what books they have for those classes – I find the ISBNs and email the professors to find out what the right ISBN is. One professor replies within minutes the others I wait for – finally I get an answer from another professor (still no word from the last – and I got a read-receipt for the email I sent). Now I have 2 definite ISBNs and 1 possible ISBN. I search online – I do Ebay, Amazon, ABE, Half, and BigWords. One of the books I need is supposed to have a CD with it – none of the above-mentioned sites says that there is a CD with it. The book in question is listed for $190 at the school bookstore and $60 on ABE – where would you buy it???

Anyway, I’m waiting to hear back from some sellers about the CD, all the while getting more and more frustrated that this information was not made clear in the first place!!

[update] Just got an email back from the instructor – CD is not necessary – so I’m off to buy my books. Saving myself over $100 by not shopping in the bookstore! [/update]

Library 2.0

What a great article by Michael Casey and Laura Savastinuk! Found on LibraryJournal.com, Library 2.0 offers up a great definition of Library 2.0:

The heart of Library 2.0 is user-centered change. It is a model for library service that encourages constant and purposeful change, inviting user participation in the creation of both the physical and the virtual services they want, supported by consistently evaluating services. It also attempts to reach new users and better serve current ones through improved customer-driven offerings. Each component by itself is a step toward better serving our users; however, it is through the combined implementation of all of these that we can reach Library 2.0.

I want to go check out the libraries that are mentioned in this article to see what they are doing – but I also want to point out that they’re (almost) all Public libraries.

While you all know I’m supporter of Library 2.0 & new technologies in libraries – I sometimes wonder if our audience (lawyers) will ever want to participate in the creation of “both the physical and the virtual services” in the library. See with lawyers time is money – and I know that I don’t want to pay my lawyer extra because he was playing with the library catalog. I’ve been wrestling with this for a little while now – especially since we’ve been trying to implement new features in the catalog & on our website – will it matter if I add commenting to our blog? Will we get comments? Are our users rating books using the new rating system? Someone at my library (and I can’t remember who) made a good point – a treatise book is a treatise book – there’s not much else to it than that.

Anyway, this is a great article! And I’ll keep pushing for change – even if our patrons aren’t ready for it – who knows – maybe I’m wrong.

All Day Event

So this morning I got into work to find that I couldn’t open any of the files on our Intranet! Uh Oh!! The problem is that I get to work at 7:30am and the IT staff doesn’t arrive until 9am or later. So I twiddled my thumbs and read some blog posts. Turns out that one of the hard drives died – on our NEW server!! Anyway, when I left work the machine was still dead.

But the day wasn’t all bad. I spent the rest of the day in the Alliance Library System Online Innovation Institute Library 2.0 Extravaganza! Michael Stephens gave 4 great webinars on new technologies and how libraries can take advantage of them. I had to go in and out of the room, but we have 10 people from area libraries come and watch the webinar with us – so that was great!

I will put a link up to the presentations and podcasts once they’re available.

Library 2.0 Extravaganza

From OPAL-Online:

Thursday, June 15, 2006: Alliance Library System Online Innovation Institute Library 2.0 Extravaganza!

Speaker: Michael Stephens, Writer/Trainer/Teacher/Creator of the Tame the Web Blog

This special event is sponsored by the Alliance Online Innovation Institute.

Cost:
Free for all Alliance Library System members; $25.00 for all other registrants. When you sign up you will be given the opportunity to select a payment option. Create an account to register online at the CLeO online registration service.

Please Note: Each of the four sessions in this one-day institute will last approximately one hour. The entire institute will be repeated on Friday, June 16, 2006. You may participate either in the OPAL room of the Alliance Innovation Institute or in the Alliance Second Life Library 2.0 through the virtual reality site Second Life.

9:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 8:30 a.m. Central, 7:30 a.m. Mountain, 6:30 a.m. Pacific and Second Life, and 1:30 p.m. GMT:
WEBLOGS & LIBRARIES: An in-depth look at the Biblioblogosphere — all things blogs, libraries and librarians. We’ll discuss best practices and lessons learned to make your library blog the most dynamic area of your web site!

11:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 10:00 a.m. Central, 9:00 a.m. Mountain, 8:00 a.m. Pacific and Second Life, and 3:00 p.m. GMT:
INSTANT MESSAGING: DO YOU IM? How are libraries and librarians using Instant Messaging? This session explores a grass roots effort by many libraries to meet users where they interact online. We’ll explore best practices and implementation strategies.

12:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 11:30 a.m. Central, 10:30 a.m. Mountain, 9:30 a.m. Pacific and Second Life, and 4:30 p.m. GMT:
SOCIAL SOFTWARE: A SURVEY OF WEB 2.0. Librarians are finding their users are interacting online is social spaces and sites: creating content, collaborating, and building communities? What are some of the thriving social sites? How can we participate in sites like MySpace and Facebook?

2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1:00 p.m. Central, noon Mountain, 11:00 a.m. Pacific and Second Life, and 6:00 p.m. GMT:
CREATING STAFF BUY IN FOR NEW TECHNOLOGIES: No matter what Web 2.0 technology you start with, a key element is staff buy in. We’ll present Ten Tips for Staff Buy in and offer takeaways to get the ball rolling.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Lori Bell, Director of Innovation at the Alliance Library System.