CIL2010: SOPAC 2.1

I’m now ready to drool over the new features coming to SOPAC 2.1. John started by telling us what SOPAC was and if any of my reader’s don’t know it’s a social OPAC built using Drupal — and it’s open source so that moves it to the top of my list :) To learn more about SOPAC there are plenty of articles out there and of course a chapter in Library Mashups.


So why do you want SOPAC? John puts it best when he says: “Your web site is great, but when people click on the catalog link, Boom! They’re in the ghetto!” Our websites can be the most gorgeous easy to navigate site on the planet, but then our patrons need to search our catalog and they’re dumped in this horrible mess of a site. So one of the key design directives for SOPAC was that it had to “look good.” Drupal makes that easy because you have access to tons of canned templates and the ability to design your own templates on top of it.

One example of the social capabilities in SOPAC is tagging. Tagging is of course a feature for patrons, but the staff love it too! They’re using it to generate staff favorite lists by tagging things as ‘staff favorite.’ Another staff tag that is used often is ‘better than the book’ to make it clear which DVDs are actually better than the book.

Next there are reviews & ratings like Amazon or other online booksellers. In addition to the community reviews you can get content from Syndetics (a pay service they subscribe to). They even made it so that you can follow the reviews from a specific user – in the case of their library lots of people follow the reader’s advisory librarian’s reviews.

In true social site form, you can create a profile for yourself in the OPAC, complete with avatar and access to content you’ve added to the catalog for editing and deleting. You can also save searches and then subscribe to the RSS feed for that search. In the future they’re going to have a feature where it will automatically place a hold on items that appear in your saved searches!! That is SOOO awesome!!

How then do you connect the website to the physical library? One way they’re doing this is by showing a list of recently returned items on a screen in the library (pulling data from the SOPAC). So you can now see what has been returned recently (that are not on hold for someone else) and ask a librarian for them. This was done because they no longer had room for a ‘returned books’ cart on the library floor. You can also show items that have just been cataloged up on a screen in the library and have it pull data from SOPAC like cover images and show that as well.

One cool feature they are working on is Twitter integration. An example would be tweeting to the catalog to do a search and have the catalog reply with a result. That’s kind of a neat feature that maybe not everyone will use, but it will be used by some, so why not?? Other new features include apps for iPhones and Android that any SOPAC library could configure for their library and make available for download to their patrons.

Totally awesome!!! And of John has just told the audience that Koha 3.2 has a SOPAC connector written – so you can have a completely open source ILS and add on a cool OPAC layer if you’re interested :)

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

CIL2010: Keynote

Lee Raine from the PEW Internet & Life Project was our keynote this morning at Computers in Libraries. He talk was titled ‘Information Fluency: How networked creators have changed the ecology of information and the world of libraries.’

This is going to be a post full of statistics (if previous years are any indication) .. so let’s get down to it.

Keynote at CIL2010

At the dawn of the PEW project in 2000 there was no wifi and broadband was a rare highly expensive thing. Now 62% of those answering the survey have broadband at home and 53% connect to the Internet via wifi. That said 25% of people do not use the Internet. These are older Americans, disabled people and the poorer population. So, digital divide issues are still out there! Time has made a difference and more people are online now than before, but we’re not at 100%.

That said, people who are online are doing a lot!

  • 57% of adults are social networkers (freaking out the kids cause we’re invading their spaces)
  • 37% share photos
  • 30% share personal creations
  • 30% contribute rankings and ratings
  • 28% create tags
  • 26% post comments on sites

(my question – how many of you allow one or more of these actions via your library website or catalog?)

Lee then spoke to us about the new culture of networked creators who

  • have democratized the voices in media
  • challenged traditional media gatekeepers
  • inserted themselves in “expert” affairs
  • enhanced their civic and community roles
    • 37% of internet users contributed to news
    • 20% had contributed to health content
    • 15% have participated in political and civic activities

What are the advantages to this creator role? The new tools are being used as a new way to negotiate friendships, statuses and identity. These people are creating spaces for building social networks among friends and those who share their interests – and these ‘friends’ don’t have to be local people they have met in person. One point that I love (of course) is that they are creating learning opportunities!

Content creation can also be used to solve problems. An example that Lee gave was about a man who had his car bumpers stolen and complained online. A group then formed around this problem and the public searched for this person stealing bumpers and they used online tools to find the man, his family and share the info with authorities. This is just one such example, I have heard about other similar stories. These ‘posses’ can use the wisdom of crowds to share a common purpose and do fact-checking online to solve a problem.

Another such community of content creators is the ‘just in time just like me support group.’ For this type of community, Lee gave us the example of a librarian who had lung cancer and used online support groups to get through it and then developed her own resource to help others like her. These are communities that matter to people because when they have needs they want someone who has been as close to their situation as possible – this is possible because of the nature of the internet – no matter how rare their situation might be.

So what are the implications for libraries? Lee says (and I agree) “You can be a node in people’s social networks as they seek information to help them solve problems and meet their needs.” In addition you can teach new literacies of how to navigate in this new world. Some of these include: screen literacy (symbols and icons and understanding them), navigation literacy (how not to get lost by clicking too many links), skepticism (be aware the knuckleheads can post anything online), the skills for creating content (if you don’t you’re going to be left behind in this new social environment), and the ethics of this new world (librarians are centrally positioned to drive this conversation/literacy).

Great big scary word time … this all all means change. We need to re-vision (a fancy way to say change) our roles in this new world.

And so it turns out I was wrong – not a lot of stats and numbers in this keynote :)

Technorati Tags: ,