Tag Archive: bell246

This, LIBR 246, was one of the most practical classes I took during my MLIS career.

How has my view of social software changed? I already believed that being involved in social software both personally and professionally is becoming a necessity for success. Before this class, however, my view of social software was a bit more optimistic i.e., “If you build it, they will come.” Totally not true. I’ve becoming more realistic in how I view and use social software or at least, my expectations of it.

The technology I found most useful for my personal use was, hands down, Delicious. Delicious, where have you been all my life? I am a lifelong list-maker and categorizer (is that even a word?). Delicious is a whole new way for me to search the internet and be less of a slave to The Google. Also, I find that I learn interesting things about my friends as I follow their Delicious feeds.

The technology I found most useful for professional use was wikis. I started using wikis before I was even in SLIS, but they are a librarian’s dream (as long as they can be maintained). I envision the term “pathfinder” becoming archaic in the not-too-far future.

My one surprise during the course was that I did not hate Twitter. I have a bit of the “hate something because it is popular” gene in me, so I actually didn’t use Twitter personally until this course. I love it. I think it’s great. I learn about exciting things such as the penguin cam at the academy.

My suggestion for improving the course would be to have more professor involvement. I think it is something that is easily lacking in online courses, and I know it takes extra effort to be more present, but I really would have liked to have heard more from the professor, even if it was in comments on our blogs.

How would I sum up my experience? I think this class was a winner. I learned quite a few things I didn’t know whereas I’ve had a couple of courses where I felt like I came out knowing very little more than I went in with.

I like learning. I like knowing things. I’m a bit sad to say that this is my final piece of schoolwork in the MLIS program. I plan on keeping this blog open and blogging library adventures and tidbits and whatever tickles my fancy LIS-wise. Thank you for reading my homework. Now the real fun begins!


“Do you think libraries need policies regarding the use of social software tools? Why or why not?”

In my second semester of library school, I took a class on Archives and Manuscripts by a professor who will remain nameless. He stressed over and over the importance of having policies, mostly because they tend to save your rear-end when a manager or a possible benefactor try to pressure you to do something. This professor told us that the Patriot Act policy for his archives was, that if federal officers come to the archives demanding items to be turned over, we should fake heart attacks.

There is a part of me that refuses to believe he was completely joking.

While I support flexibility, I think it is very important that libraries have policies to govern the use of social software tools. They don’t need to be anything lengthy nor tedious. I think clearly stating the mission of social networking use for the library is a good start. I think it is important that the policy is clear about how the library’s social networking is to be used because often it’s quite different than how a person uses their personal social networking accounts. Having a policy helps staff be better able to address patron concerns about things like blog posts, tweets, and blog comments.

Greater than its parts

"Best trivia I learned while working on this: 'Man, Farmville is so huge! Do you realize it's the second-biggest browser-based-social-networking-centered farming game in the WORLD?' Then you wait for the listener to do a double-take"

Thank you xkcd for the image AND lovely alt-text

Once upon a time in 1998 there was an 18-year-old young adult and her 17-year-old best friend at college in Los Angeles. The best friend’s mom was fond of reading about what’s popular “on the other side of the pond” and mailed to the girls the first couple of books about a young wizard named Harry Potter. The girls devoured the books. It was all they could talk about.

To each other.

Because no one else around them had read them yet. And the girls were shunned by their peers because they became annoying as they moaned on and on about this Harry Potter fellow.

But then, Harry Potter caught on. And soon there were midnight parties and fanfiction and websites and candy and t-shirts and movies and no longer were the girls solitary dorks but they were only two dorks of a bazillion dorky people who painted lightening bolts on their foreheads and discussed what houses at Hogwarts they would be sorted into.

And now I totally forgot where I was going with this. Oh yeah, community! Community changed everything and made it all moonbeams and lollies and golden snitches.

My story, true as it is, is silly. But let’s trade Harry Potter fans for perhaps an LGBT teen (or even adult!) who doesn’t live in an area where they have physical access to community. Or a person who is restricted to their home for health reasons. Online communities can change, enhance, and maybe even save lives. I know I’m getting a little soap-boxy (Harry Potter does that to me), but I see online communities as an integral part of community services that should be offered by libraries. Not everyone can come to your book club or your Wii Bowling tournament, but they may have something to share with others in the community. Yes, running online communities is time consuming and sometimes tedious and slow to be gratifying; however, I think it’s worth the energy. If I had a choice between looking at a wiki of recipes, edited by library staff, or being able to trade recipes and talk with someone else about recipes, I’d vote for the latter. It’s one thing to give a person a book on being gay or African-American or disabled or Christian or anything else and another to give the opportunity and space for community.

And the crowd goes wild…

Image from Epic Win.

I have a little game I play that I call “Ask the Facebook Oracle.” I play this game when I am undecided on some non-life-threatening issue. For example, I’ll post, “What should I have for dinner?” as my Facebook status. A few of the people that see this status are most likely to be ones that I’ve shared a meal with and may be familiar with what I like and not like, and may make some great suggestions. There’s always a comedian, naming foods that I’m allergic to or don’t like (thanks, mom), but in general, it’s proved to be a pretty fun and low-effort way to make (or narrow down) decisions.

This week: What do you think of the move away from the wisdom of the expert and towards the wisdom of crowds? What are the pros and cons of tagging in library catalogs? Why do you think so few libraries are allowing patrons to add to library wikis?

No single person can think of everything nor know everything. I certainly can’t. I think the move away from the wisdom of the expert towards the wisdom of crowds can be beneficial for all parties when implemented in certain ways. I’ll still depend on experts for certain things such as medical or legal advice, of course, but I don’t think it’s necessary to go with the wisdom of experts in all subjects. We just need to be thoughtful about when and how we employ the wisdom of crowds. It works great for things like the Penny Jar Example (third paragraph down) and not so great when it comes to ethics and morals (see: Nazi Germany).

I think the pros vastly outweigh the cons of tagging in library catalogs. It’s highly unlikely that the majority of library users are going to be familiar with the controlled vocabulary used in cataloging items. Allowing tags, especially user-generated tags, is going to make things more findable for more people and really, that’s what we’re going for. Yes, it will take some human-power and precautionary measures against trolls and spammers for user-generated tagging to not turn into a circus, but I think it’s worth it.

I speculate that few libraries allow patrons to edit library wikis for different reasons. It takes human-power (which many libraries don’t have to spare) to ensure against malicious content. Only allowing staff to edit the wikis is a way to circumvent such occurrences. I also think that, with some librarians, there’s a bit of fear and a bit of selfishness going on. Fear of a lack of recognition, fear of loss of ownership, fear of being one-upped. I know it’s an elephant in the room, but sometimes the humanness and personalities of people gets in the way of their effectiveness. I’m not saying that this is happening in all libraries, I’m just saying that it seems possible.

Allow me to start by offering a link to my delicious bookmarks.

The three items I bookmarked have quite different numbers of persons who have also bookmarked the sites:
Libraries and crowdsourcing: 3 people
Top 15 Most Popular Social Bookmarking Websites: 398 people
Tag Galaxy: 8727 people!

The three most common tags used for the delicious Tag Galaxy bookmark are “flickr,” “visualization,” and “photography.” I used “flickr” and “photography,” among others. I clicked on “visualization” and found a very cool site that has 4 tools that help you visualize Twitter networks.

Going back to my list, I clicked on the most library-esque link I had and found that one of the other 2 people that bookmarked it seems to also be in library school (though, not at SJSU). Her bookmarks had a wealth of information relevant to what I’m studying. Though this way of browsing the web is limiting, I think it’s brilliant. This has inspired me to create an account for my nonprofit.

This exercise has created a whole new world for me. I imagine that I will lose myself in the depths of delicious when the semester is over.

Online Meetings

What technologies do you find most promising in facilitating internal collaboration and why?

Online meeting technologies such as Elluminate, Cisco’s WebEx and Citrix’s GoToMeeting allow real-time sharing of files, presentations, and desktops of participants, thereby allowing to teach concepts from your computer and allow it to broadcast to the group. Elluminate will require the user showing their desktop time to allow other users to configure their screens, in order to view the entire desktop.

In GoToMeeting, the user allows a member to come into their computer (such as you would see an IT person do) virtually and play around with programs. This is mostly utilized in situations where a computer program or database instruction is not understood. In this way, the moderator is able to physically show the audience what to do, rather than continue to explain concepts they might not understand. There are also platforms for seminars, GoToWebinar and for trainings, GoToTrainings.

Here are some videos to explain more about the Citrix product line:
and help for those seeking employment:
Citrix Careers

Elluminate is a fantastic program for online education. It allows for the uploading of Powerpoint presentations, the ability to ask questions in order, and to use a microphone to hear each other’s voice. The chat box can become quite busy with comments and is the most difficult for new instructors to follow. Elluminate also allows presenters to share their webcams as they present. There is a whiteboard for brainstorming and the ability to get real-time feedback from polls.

Video tutorial for using Elluminate successfully:

Participant Orientation to Elluminate Live! (2)

WebEx is to the corporate world what Elluminate is to academia. WebEx can be used for meetings and conferencing, but also for trainings, webinars, and customer support as well. Where Elluminate allows multiple people to be “Moderators” at one time, presentation control can be passed from one person to another in WebEx. As with Elluminate, sessions can be recorded for later viewing and reviewing.

Tag! You’re It!

Image from Unshelved

Homework Prompt: What are some of the weaknesses of tagging for making content more findable?

No, seriously: I did a semester of Cataloging and Classification and then a semester of ADVANCED Cataloging and Classification for this?! I have yet to get into tagging things. I think tagging can be really great for some things, especially images. Tagging uses the vernacular and you don’t need to go through all this just to change words and conform to a standard. But that’s the downside, too. What happens when terms change? Do people go through and re-tag everything on the internet that has been tagged already? Improbable. Perhaps even impossible.

Another weakness is British English spelling vs. American English spelling. Will my search for “humor” get me returns of things tagged “humour?” Unlikely (WordPress doesn’t even recognize the latter spelling). When I search for items by their tag, what I will get are the most popular (read: most viewed and most likely tagged) items. Nothing about the quality of the items is represented by the fact that they are tagged or not. Also, they may not be the most appropriate items, they just so happen to be the ones that people have taken the few seconds to tag. And of course, there’s the problem with a lack of controlled vocabulary which means that for the most part, I’ll only find things that are tagged using the same terms as my search terms and not necessarily things that are tagged using different words for the same item. Musicals vs. Showtunes vs. Broadway_musical vs. Musical_theatre vs. Musical_theater vs. Musical_comedy vs. Rock_opera vs. makeitstopalready! As I mentioned, tags can be very useful. I just wouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket. Unless everyone tagging everything happens to be a librarian. Hey, I’m biased!

The University of Southern California is very well known for its athletic department and the hefty price tag of tuition. When I tell people I did my undergraduate courses at USC, they don’t ask what I studied. Instead they ask, “Did you go to the football games?” and “Whoa, how much money did that set you back?” I chose to do my library marketing critique on USC because I see these things as interesting obstacles for the libraries to overcome. As we will see, it is quite the challenge.

USC makes use of three social networking platforms:
Libwire, the USC Libraries Blog

Libwire has at least two blog postings per week; however, some of these posts show up in my RSS reader repeated two to four times. Many of these posts are about what is going on at the libraries: talks, changed hours, special collections, upcoming classes, etc. Sometimes there will be a blog post about something new and exciting that the library is doing, such as this post on the library’s new presence on Blackboard.

One very interesting thing USC Libraries are doing with their RSS feed is a series they call, “Inside the USC Libraries” where they take turns exploring one of the many subject libraries and/or special collections that are on campus. The one on the Music Library is especially intriguing, as it discusses the importance of physical holdings in a music library versus digital holdings that are taking over many of the other libraries.

A very clever thing that USC Libraries are doing with their RSS feed is something they call, “Twitter Tuesdays.” “Twitter Tuesday is a weekly feature that looks back at the USC Libraries’ conversations in the Twitterverse.” As you can see here, it is not simply a listing of USC Libraries tweets and @ mentions, but before the displayed conversations, the person (or persons) who write the blog give some sort of context for the Tweets. This is very helpful for those who don’t want to click around and try to follow strings of conversation as well as for people who don’t follow @USCLibraries on Twitter, but want to access the information. Twitter Tuesdays is a recap of things of note, not a list of all Tweets and ReTweets.

USCLibraries is fairly active on Twitter. The Twitter Tuesdays mentioned above wouldn’t be possible if staff weren’t so responsive on Twitter. I’m surprised that there are under 1,800 followers on Twitter, given that the undergraduate population is around 13,000 students. Then again, that seems to be quite a bit as USC Libraries only has a small box with the Twitter feed on the library website, a page which one needs to search for intentionally on the usc.edu homepage. USC Libraries are also interactive with ReTweeting, not just sending out Tweets that link back to USC, but there are some ReTweets via @ALALibrary and @NatGeoSociety.

While USC Libraries seem to be doing good things with their Libwire blog and @USCLibraries on Twitter, they are coming up quite short on Facebook. There are only 127 people who “Like” USC Libraries and though they have their wall open for people to post, there are no posts by anyone except for USC Libraries. Many of the things posted on the Facebook are images and facts (e.g. “This day in history) that have been culled from one of USC Libraries archival collections. There are no attempts at interaction, no open questions posted to their fan base, and it seems as though there are one to two postings per day. To their defense, it looks as though there was no staff member or members responsible for the Facebook upkeep. There is a large void between April 2010 and August 2010. Perhaps they feel the summer school students and graduate students are uninterested? I’m sure they would get a lot more “Likes” on Facebook if there were a link from the library webpage; however, there are only links to the blog RSS feed and the Twitter feed. The Facebook seems like it is picking up steam, but it is definitely a work in progress.

I used Social Mention with the terms USC Libraries, USCLibraries (no space), and USC librar* (wildcard). The majority of returns on my queries have a neutral tone but then again, a majority of the returns on my queries are from USC Libraries themselves. As for their branding efforts, it’s very hard to separate USC the libraries from USC the school/athletic powerhouse. While I know firsthand the rich amount of resources to be found in the libraries, I think their online social networking outreach does not accurately represent all of the amazing things that are available.

If the library were to hire me as their social media marketing consultant, I would have a number of suggestions. First of all, it’s all about visibility. There need to be more links to the Twitter and Facebook. I would recommend having some specific people (perhaps even budgeting for a couple full-time staff members) assigned to handle posting to the social media and having a schedule that represents the minimum amount of posts per medium per week. I would have these same people start doing outreach. Start finding current students and alumni and suggest they “Like” USC Libraries on Facebook or that they follow the Twitter feed. I also have some suggestions for content. Though I really like some of what USC Libraries are doing, such as Twitter Tuesday, I find a lot of the postings to be conservative to the point of being uninteresting. I don’t think that transparency is appropriate for this type of library, but they have a wealth of creativity in their student body. If there are student organizations on social media, start looking at what they are doing and Repost or ReTweet with added links to how these things can connect to what is available from USC Libraries. Don’t just interact with people who mention USC Libraries first. Be more proactive. Also, use social media to receive feedback on collections and services. Post surveys and ask open questions. A majority of USC Libraries’ posts/Tweets are unidirectional and I believe they would only benefit from becoming more multi-directional as well as showing how multifaceted the USC Library services and collections truly are.

Should libraries be building a presence and offering services through online social networking sites? Yes! That is, if they want to stay relevant to the communities they’re supposed to be serving. I’m mainly referring to public libraries here, though, high school and middle school libraries could also greatly benefit from jumping on the social media train. I’ve heard places complain that they don’t have the staffing for it, and that excuse says to me that they don’t realize it is a necessity.

That video blows my mind every time I watch it.

I want to stress that it is important for libraries to not just choose one social networking site and run with it. Sure, I like Facebook. You like Facebook. What about MySpace? Rebecca Tolley-Stokes tells us “the more affluent you are, the more likely you are to frequent Facebook.” Isn’t it interesting that many libraries seem to have Facebook pages over MySpace pages? I can tell just by clicking around, and Tolley-Stokes’ article supports this idea as well. And if we follow the trend examined by Pew Internet, many young adults and teens, as of a year ago, still have and maintain MySpace profiles. Not so many teens did the Twitter at that time, though.

Are we as librarians leaving out a large chunk of our patrons simply because we are more comfortable with certain platforms? It sure seems like it. Social media needs to be done thoroughly, consistently, and whole-heartedly. Yes, it’s work. But hey, being a librarian is a job (as well as a state of mind, for some of us).

Many thanks to Kyle Cox for introducing me to the Tolley-Stokes article!

Yes. I went there.

I like Twitter. I think my like of Twitter is proportionate to how busy I am. Twitter allows me to feel connected little bits at a time and it expects very little from me. I can receive and not need to give. I can come and go as I please. I can spread the wealth or stop the insanity, as it were. With the combination of Twitter, RSS, and Facebook, I can basically craft my entire world of information intake and relationship interactions in a way that caters to my interests only. I can create my own personal bubble filled with only things and people I like. How amazing!

Also, how terrifying, narrow, harmful, and boring. Twitter, et al. can be so useful but it can also cut us off from experiences outside of LIS (or insert your interest here). In LIS, we do a lot of preaching to the choir, the choir consisting of other LIS professionals and library fanboys/fangirls. We read the blogs of other LIS professionals and ReTweet their Tweets to our followers who are, again, other LIS professionals and it becomes this closed circle of really well-informed LIS professionals. But what about things that LIS professionals can learn from psychologists or teachers or Starbucks? Your argument is “Yes, see, you posted a link on what librarians can learn from Starbucks and it’s on a librarian blog!” So? So this means that we can have one person scoping out the rest of the world and then bringing it back to us and spoon-feeding it to us through our aggregators? Sure, if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t want to think for himself, rock on.

Don’t get me wrong. I subscribe and follow to tons of feeds/streams by people in the LIS world. I need to in order to not be left behind. But I also try to branch out and read about other things that I can perhaps incorporate into my profession and avoid getting caught in a self-serving loop, which I think is a really important thing to do.