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Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Library on Location

Last year a colleague and I took a laptop and some borrowable material out of the library to a couple of places by student cafes to see what kind of interest we'd get. (We originally planned to call the service "Laptop Librarians", but some of our other colleagues have very dodgy minds, so we ended up calling it "Library on Location" instead.) We ran six trial sessions, then Christmas and various other projects intervened, but we eventually wrote up our Library on Location report (pdf, 166kB).

Short version: it was fun, feedback was positive, staffing is not always easy.

We felt it was definitely worth further investigation, so we're now running a second trial with a fixed time and place to see if having a regular service increases usage through familiarity. One of the things we're doing for that is getting our wonderfully cooperative colleagues to collect desk statistics back at our respective home branches to see how statistics "on location" at the same time compare.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Non-English blog roundup

I've always liked learning other languages (three in high school, a couple more at university, two more when I travelled to their respective countries, medieval Danish when I started writing a fantasy book set in medieval Denmark...) and a while ago it occurred to me that not only are there library blogs written in languages other than English, but it'd be nice to make some of what they're saying accessible to the English-speaking world.

I read two posts this morning that inspired me to start today. Note that my grasp of the Scandinavian languages remains patchy, but hopefully my translations aren't too misleading.
  • Daniel Forsman on Betabib (Swedish) reports that "Inspired by Penn State's work I've just built an 'HTML | iGoogle gadget generator' for our direct search function." You can see the resulting widget on the Jönköping Högskolebiblioteket homepage under "Direktsökning" - the dropdown menu allows searching in various databases, and the "+Google" button allows users to add the search to their iGoogle page.
  • Erik Høy on Biblog (Danish) points to Mellop, a website which gives you a free email address that lasts for 15 minutes. Why would you want an email address that you can't use for longer than that? Well, a lot of web services require you to give an email address when registering, which they send your password or confirmation to. Maybe you don't trust them to not keep spamming you, so give them a Mellop temporary address, receive the email with the password/confirmation, and throw away the Mellop address. Warning: if you later forget your password for the web service, you'll have a hard time convincing them to give it to you again now your Mellop email address no longer works.

LibWorld has a great round-up of blogs in various countries, which I'll have to look through properly at some time(s). Does anyone know of any other non-English library blogs I should be following? I can probably get more or less sense out of French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages. I probably couldn't get much out of Korean, but it'd be fun trying.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Playing with Slideshare

I prepared this presentation for an interbranch information librarians meeting this afternoon to update people with how we supported a particularly large library assignment earlier this year. Then I got the urge to play with Slideshare. I probably shouldn't have been surprised with how easy it was...

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Computers in Libraries 2008 (LONG!)

I wasn't at this conference (obviously, for those who know me) but I've been attempting to keep up via blogs and wanted to make some notes for myself about some of the cool things I've been reading. So what follows is a screed of super-brief notes gathered from various people who were there, in many cases blatantly plagiarised sans attribution from their blogs. Sorry about that, folks...

Programme at InfoToday

Keynote - Pew Internet... (powerpoint at Pew Internet)Lee Rainie
  • 60% of teens use the library in 2008 compared to 36% in 2000
  • Lack of awareness is an inhibitor

Fast & Easy Site Tune-Ups
Jeff Wisniewski
  • use code to keep copyright / last-updated dates fresh
  • contact info -> hCards
  • add labels to forms, checkboxes etc for accessibility

Widgets, tools and doodads for library webmasters (presentation at slideshare)
Darlene Fichter, Frank Cervone
User-Generated Content
Roy Tennant
  • more content is better, more access is better
  • plugged Kete
  • WorldCat going social; LoC using Flickr...
  • Are you set up appropriately to meet your goals?
  • user engagement is a good thing

Library Web Presence: Engaging the Audience
lots of people including Ellysa Stern Cahoy
  • widgets!
  • LibGuides subject guides - still need marketing but usage more than doubled in first month
  • Research Jumpstart at Penn for freshman - stripped down to basics
  • faculty and grad students like being able to build their own page with feeds and widgets

Hi Tech & Hi Touch (pdf at the Shifted Librarian)
Jenny Levine
  • Patrons don't care whether they're being reached by high or low technology; they just want high touch. (eg new books list - not just titles and authors, but blurbs and/or covers which give more info)
  • Link to ILL with "We don't own this, but we will get it for you."
  • Idea to present a database of the week via SlideShare
  • MeeboMe widget, email link, library hours etc on the null-search page in the catalogue

Innovation Starts with "I" (Slides at LibraryBytes)
Helene Blowers and Tony Tallent
  • Creativity is thinking up new things; innovation is doing new things.
  • involves creativity, strategy, implementation, profitability
  • Don't ask for permission - ask for support!
  • Sell your vision multiple ways - on paper, face-to-face, presentation. Tell a story about how it could change life for a user.
  • "book bundles" that they bind up with yarn, ready for patron to "grab and go"

Innovative Marketing Using Web 2.0. (Slides at Digitisation 101)
Helene Blowers and Michael Porter
  • library brand is books and community - not logo
  • consumers impact the branding - let them promote you
  • use web 2.0 to tell stories
  • make the branding portable
  • Hennepin their community to submit a photo of reading Harry Potter to the website and Flickr

Mashups for Non-Techies: Yahoo! Pipes (powerpoint, links, more at CIL2008 wiki
Jody Fagan
  • no programming involved - just plug in information

Keynote: Innovative & Inspiring
Delft guys Erik Boekesteijn, Jaap van de Geer, and Geert van den Boogaard
  • made documentary re libraries, travelling around US
  • video they made available here
  • "The book is one of the best technologies ever invented, but it is a technology."

Transparency, Planning & Change: See-Through Libraries (pdf at Tame the Web)
Michael Casey and Michael Stephens
  • Don't ask staff for input if you're not going to use it.

Drupal in Libraries slidecast at OEDB
Ellyssa Kroski
  • Ann Arbor District Library has module to integrate OPAC into website - new website gave 40% increase in traffic
  • also used in classes, for intranets, for planning, workshop sign-ups...
  • being used to empower staff to be able to contribute content to the website directly without the filter of a webmaster
  • library specific modules eg MARC and Z39.50
  • many conferences, resources, mailing lists etc for support

Libraries A-Twitter & Using (Dutch writeup here)
lots of people including Michael Sauers
  • Systems are using twitter for event publicity and reference
  • used to create on the fly pathfinders, catalogue in-house and web resources and other uses - bookmarks here

Facebook Apps & Libraries' Friendly Future (slideshare)
Laurie Bridges and Cliff Landis
  • sticky site: average user spends 20 minutes on the site
  • library apps exist but little used because not social
  • people WANT to interact, but they can't find out how on a library site
  • It is never a mistake to give users more options.
  • *you* initiating friending with students or patrons can make you seem like Uncle Creepy, so it's best to let them initiate it.

Harnessing New Data Visualization Tools (slides at slideshare)
Darlene Fichter
  • data is free but in a raw state that is not yet usable by most people

Catalog Effectiveness: Google Analytics & OPAC 2.0
Rebekah Kilzer, Cathy Weng and Jia Mi
  • use of Google Analytics to understand how its OPAC is used

From Woepac to Wowpac (writeup in Dutch)
lots of people including Karen G. Schneider
    (Me: I love this title)
  • Interoperability is essential: like using APIs
  • Blyberg: The fact that we can't put together a quality OPAC isn't because it's hard to do, but rather that it is systemic and representative of the greater libraryworld problems
  • blogger: Putting a pretty face on a lousy ILS doesn’t get us where our patrons need us to be.

IM service, making it successful (writeup in Dutch)
Super Searcher
Mary Ellen Bates
Libraries as Laboratories for Innovation
Matt Gullett and Greg Schwartz
  • Need: Talent; Time and space; Support from admin
  • Play background music to help control volume in area

Leading Technology in Libraries
Gina Millsap and David Lee King
  • Library Director 2.0 - less hierarchy, involve all staff
  • Library Director 2.1 - customer service is job #1; do pilot projects; treat staff as customers
  • Job descriptions for all staff now say they will participate in the digital branch through blogging (NB based on talking to staff)

Pecha Kucha (podcasting powerpoint at Openstacks | IM slides at slideshare)
6 people with 6min40s to talk each
  • blogger: What if we were all challenged to do a high quality presentation in 6 minutes?
  • IM: 75% of online teens use to communicate; get happy with Meebo widgets for point-of-need help
  • podcasting: audience growing
  • wikis: like barnraising. Easy creation and *searchability*.
  • videocasting: use your users to staff your videos
  • facebook: "Myspace might kill you, but Facebook won't." Facebook highlights the user.
  • sceptic: If 2.0 is the solution, what was the problem?

Keynote: libraries as happiness engines (writeup in Dutch
Liz Lawley
  • happiness: satisfying work, experience of being good at something, time spent with people we like, chance to be part of something bigger
  • concept of "productive play"
  • games include collecting, points, feedback, exchanges, customization - can we build these into learning tasks?
  • Seriosity game to reduce emails sent

Technology Training for Library Staff: Creativity Works (pdf at Librarian in Black)
Sarah Houghton-Jan, Maurice and Annette
  • why train? confidence, saves money, serves users better, etc.
  • work with staff to brainstorm, plan
  • task-based
  • incentives
  • technology competencies and training material
  • Technology Petting Zoo project

Tech Tools for Effectively Managing Information (list at cil2008 wiki)
Roger Skalbeck and Barbara Fullerton

    Learning From Gaming
    Chad Boeninger
    • borrow ideas from successful social sites
    • how can we encourage more exploration in libraries?

    Gaming for Adults
    Martin House and Mark Engelbrecht
    • promoting in community worked better than on web
    • Users who have experienced the gaming events tend to gravitate toward the staff who run the gaming events afterwards when they are in the library for another need or reason.
    • The attendees come to the library more after the gaming events. They also use reference materials as their primary activity in coming to the library.

    Online Outreach for Libraries: Successful Digital Marketing (pdf at Librarian in Black)
    Sarah Houghton-Jan
    • place teasers where the users are; bring them to the library
    • list and links at the Utopian Library
    • from the floor: Sending people to a poorly designed website is worse than not being there at all.

    Findability: Information Not Location (powerpoint at rss4lib | writeup in Dutch)
    Mike Creech and Ken Varnum at U Michigan
    • multiple websites for multiple branches - rationalising content and form
    • focus groups, online survey, and one-question survey randomly on pages: either "What did you come to this page to do?" or "Why do you come to the library's website?" Conversations with stakeholders, used Google Analytics
    • MTagger on all pages including catalogue - after 1 month 1000 tags by 300 taggers
    • anything searchable is an RSS feed. open APIs]
    • now choosing open-source search tool and CMS

    Greg Notess
    • most people don't click things at top so integrating image results etc into main search results
    • Google Scholar: added elsevier titles, most frequent authors list.
    • Zero Phrase Search: Google change - they’re working on changing results - sometimes it will say No results found and will just search for the phrase without quotes - sometimes it won’t tell you no results found.

    What’s Hot in RSS & Social Software (links on speaker's wiki | writeup in Dutch)
    Steven Cohen

      Eric Atkinson
      • implementing Kete at Orange County Library System

      The New Generation of Library Interfaces
      Marshall Breeding
      • You want to make it so easy that users aren’t thinking about the interface but rather are thinking about the content.
      • enriched content
      • Can the library community bear the cost of this new OPAC? Can we afford to not do it or do it so slowly that we become irrelevant?

      Going Local in the Library: Web 2.0, Library 2.0, Local 2.0
      Charles Lyons
      • Wikinorthia library-created local wiki (Meredith Farkas' idea to create a university wiki, where the library could gather information from all different groups on campus to create a truly helpful resource for new students)

      Virtual Reference: Endless Possibilites
      Dan Sich and Derik Badman
      Collaborating with YouTubers to Enhance Library Instruction
      • involving students a good idea

      InfoTubey Awards

      Wednesday, 2 April 2008

      5 thoughts on blog statistics

      I haven't yet worried about stats for this blog, but for our (academic) library blog I keep a fairly close eye on what websites/websearches our readers are coming from and what they're doing once they get here.

      My favourite tool for blog statistics is - it gives you huge detail on the latest 500 hits for free, and it's invisible. A few random things I've discovered as a result:
      1. A google search for the name of our blog, or for the name of our library plus the word 'blog', brings us up at the top of the results - and people are finding us that way.
      2. A really effective way to get hits is to post information on the blog on how to research the first assignment of the first year of university for a class of 700 students, and get the lecturer to put the link up on Blackboard for them. We were getting well over 100 hits a day while that assignment ran - in the high two-digit figures of distinct visitors - about 10 times as many people as usual. And a month after the assignment was due, we're still getting people coming from that link.
      3. Another good way to get hits is to give a tutorial, then post a summary of the tutorial afterwards, and send the link out to them. Okay, if all this did was get hits it'd be worthless - might as well just send them the summary directly - but some of the people do browse around some of the other categories, and may even return another day...
      4. Our statistics are slowly growing. We usually get 10+ hits a day now, even though I've weeded out as many library staff as I can identify as staff, when it used to be less than 10 a day even including staff. Sometimes it's even 10+ people a day....
      5. The stats showed that someone had put a perfectly reasonable search term into the blog search box. I looked to see what results they'd have got and discovered it was just a dead end "0 results" results page, which didn't seem very helpful, especially since I knew there was bound to be information about the topic somewhere on the main library website. So I wrote a hopeful email to our wonderful IT people, who wonderfully obliged me with this modification (note the "library website" link automatically brings up results for whatever search the user tried on the blog. AskLive is our virtual reference, now running on a Meebo chatroom).