Week 13: Reflection and Wrap-Up

It is hard to believe that we have reached the end of this class! I have enjoyed it so much, I’m almost feeling nostalgic that it has come to an end. I’ve been taught, challenged, and shown new things in social media that I probably would not have tried on my own. Thanks to Dr. Neal for leading us through this – it was so practical and fun! The things we learned really can be used in the “real library world”.

I started this class thinking that I knew a fair bit about social media. I did know some things, but mainly about a couple of social media sites that I was using for personal use. It has been great to continually be challenged to relate all of our learning in terms of how this can be used in libraries.

What have I learned? I had never written a blog before, so I’ve learned a lot about managing a blog, including adding RSS feeds to it. I’ve learned how to use Google Reader to manage the RSS feeds from all of the sites that I want to follow! I especially appreciated the week we talked about policy. Nobody really wants to talk about policy, although I happen to be one that prefers to work within the framework of a policy. I have realized that  many library systems have implemented social media without determining a social media policy beforehand. I believe doing it this way is an invitation for trouble as people could  take advantage of this situation to use it for their own personal means.

I was very challenged the week we did the mashups. That was very technical for me, and outside of my comfort zone. I did have to ask others for suggestions on how to troubleshoot as I was working on my mashup. The video tutorial was for those working on a PC and as I work on a Mac I I had to figure out my own way. This is not all bad, though, although I think I’d have to do it a few more times to really get comfortable with creating mashups. I do think they are terrific when used well. That certainly added a level of frustration. Google Hangout, while only used once when I was in a group of ten at the beginning of the term, I love! It has been so helpful for our group to meet on Hangout and plan our work without concern about our geographical location. It’s a wonderful tool! Gaming? It’s really not for me. I understand intellectually that it is very popular and many people find it very relaxing and fun, but I am not one of those people. I’m still intrigued, however, by how/if this could be used in libraries successfully. The Cloud is a concept that really amazes me. It was fascinating to consider how libraries could use the cloud to manage their information, in financially viable/wise ways! Of course, I love Facebook and Twitter and really think that those can be used to reach such a large number of our patrons.

Ultimately for libraries, all of this wonderful technology is for naught if it not well thought out, updated regularly, and used to connect with the library users. Social media is all about interacting and sharing, and libraries must realize that they need to take social media seriously, but whatever social media they choose to use, they must use well. And they’d better have that well planned policy before they start! 😉

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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week 12: Virtual Worlds and Online Gaming

This week’s assignment was way out of the box for me. I am not a gamer, nor have I had any interest in online gaming. I understand intellectually that there is a tremendous appeal worldwide for online gaming, but emotionally it has never connected for me.  However, this lesson was good for me because it forced me to do something which I may never had tried on my own.

When considering which game to play (I’ve played none of the ones that Dr. Neal suggested) I thought about World of Warcraft, simply because I know it is so popular. However, I didn’t want to download it to my laptop, so I opted to go with Runescape so that I could play it online in my internet browser without having to download the game.

It was fairly easy to set up an account, and I quickly created an avatar. I was confused, though, with what the game is all about, as there were just some quick little blurbs at the beginning, and then I was thrown into the game! I decided to start walking around and see what I could learn. It was helpful to have some instructions from characters along the way, although honestly, I really didn’t know what was going on. I knew I was in a cave, and by the music playing I could tell I was in some kind of danger, but I wasn’t sure what! A couple of my kids were quite amused at my attempts, but they were helpful in making suggestions. Little did I know that to eliminate the bad guy to save myself, I had to click continuously on him until bar above him was red and he fell over. Another character then congratulated me and told me how well I had done to defeat this guy.  This happened twice, by which point I was anxious to get out of the cave and see what else was going on. Okay, I admit it, I could see how people who know how to maneuver around in these games could get hooked. I did want to see how the story would continue, and I did feel like I was there. So that did give me a tiny insight into how this must be for avid gamers. I got out of the cave and was given instructions by someone (?) on what do next (go up on top of the castle and defend from there). At this point I decided I had spent enough time to say I had begun the gaming experience. Here’s a screenshot of my avatar, a farmer named Chocoana, on the roof of the castle:

At the time that I logged out of Runescape, there were 127,783 players online at that moment, and I suspect the numbers are much higher with other, more popular games. I understand that online gaming is pervasive and definitely a significant part of many people’s lives.

I signed up for and I’m looking forward to watching Jacob play SWOR on Monday night. This is a whole new world for me!

So what about libraries? Our library already has a successful games night, but for traditional board games. I think the reason for this success is not the games in and of themselves, although they are lots of fun, but because those nights are all about community, and playing and interacting together. It make sense to have online gaming at the library, although Dr. Neal’s point about this being a better forum for gamers to meet, not necessarily play, probably has some validity to it. I like the idea of the arcade nights at the Ann Arbor District Library. Most importantly for libraries, though, is that however we use gaming, whether it is “serious”, or whether we offer gaming on library computers, or create comfortable spaces for gamers to use, we must always remember our purpose. We are providing information, a community space, a place to learn and grow together, and gaming, if used in such a way that it meets the needs of the users, can be used successfully.

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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week 11: The Mobile Web

This proved to be an interesting exercise! Thanks to the tips from Sarah F. on Lynne B.’s blog, I was able to post a podcast on my blog about the mobile web.
Click the play button below to listen to my podcast.

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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week 10 Cloud Computing

There seems to be a trend for most of my posts this semester. I was using the technology being introduced, and didn’t even know what I was using! This week is no different. While I’d heard the term “cloud computing”, I didn’t really know what it meant. For me, it was some sort of fuzzy idea that my documents would be stored “out there” and that I could retrieve them from any device. True, but so much more. I am an avid Facebook user, and it never crossed my mind that this was cloud computing. I was aware that whatever I post there doesn’t really belong to me anymore – hence my hesitation to post some of my better pictures – as I don’t want Facebook to own them. I’ve also been using Google Docs for group projects. This feels like a lifesaver because it allows us to work together and view the same document without having to be in the same geographical area.

I really liked  Kelly’s quote where, he says the “Internet has already become “one machine” and our devices are windows into it.” This word picture really clarifies the essence of how the cloud concept works.

At first glance it seems like cloud computing is a fantastic concept. Why wouldn’t we embrace it? Why would anyone not want to be able access their documents, photos, music, or anything else from any device, anywhere? As usual, there are privacy issues which should be considered. Who owns the material? Can security be breached? Who is actually taking care of my very important documents and photos?

How can (perhaps “should” is better word here?) libraries take advantage of this technology? Traditionally, libraries have spent large portions of their budget to maintain their individual systems, which largely remained in-house. I love the idea that libraries could share information in the cloud, where a community shares and expounds on the latest relevant technologies, news and information. Similar in theory to Facebook, where users share information and interact with other community members, libraries could do the same, saving on costs for software maintenance and hosting, as stated by Jordan in his article. I really liked Jordan’s phrase “Web-scale cooperative library management services”, because that is what it is! It’s big, it’s cooperative, and it’s all about managing and disseminating information widely and efficiently. I do have some concerns that many libraries will not want to be a part of cloud computing. There will be fears of privacy, and of who will actually own the material, and of what would happen if there were a breakdown of the company hosting the cloud, and of generally going in a new direction where some libraries have not been before.

In his article, Marshall uses the phrase “library software as service”. This struck me as the way in which libraries can view this. Cloud computing, when used and managed properly, can help libraries improve their service to the public, which is the bottom line. Are libraries providing the best possible service to their users? By reducing time and money spent on in-house IS management systems, and by increasing the speed in which information can be updated, used, and disseminated, service can be greatly enhanced. It will, however, take time for some libraries to catch on to this.

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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week 9 Bookmarking, Tagging, and Folksonomies

After reading this week’s lesson, I decided to sign up for LibraryThing. I’ll talk about that a little further down. I have little to no experience with tagging, other than what I learned in LIS9006 Online Searching, where we used CiteULike. This was, however, quite academic and perhaps in my case a little less useful for my everyday life. I had previously heard the term folksonomies, but didn’t really know what it meant. It makes such sense, though – “folk” (which to me feels like comfortable and ordinary, just how most of us probably are) and “taxonomy” (classification). While I have not read the book The Wisdom of Crowds, I am quite intrigued by the concept. Is the wisdom of many better than the wisdom of a few “experts”? In some situations, perhaps not, but I do think with folksonomies it makes sense. Why not classify items it ways that are culturally meaningful and relevant to those who need and use the classification systems?

The idea of tagging isn’t new – that was a new thought for me. I did not realize, as Diane pointed out in her blog, that folk-based taxonomies have been around for many years in different disciplines, such as anthropology and biology. And here I thought this was all new in Web 2.0.

Back to LibraryThing. I decided to try that site as I have heard people talk about it and have seen it used in my church library, but I hadn’t actually used it myself. It has been very helpful for the volunteers there to keep track of, categorize, and tag the entire collection of this little library. Since I do love to read but I am not good at remembering what “good” books I’ve read, with a few exceptions, I thought it might be a handy way for me to keep track of what I’ve read, what I’ve liked, and perhaps get new ideas of what I might like to read based on other readers’ tags. Sign-up was extremely easy. A name and an email address was all I needed and I was good to go.  I started with one of my all time favourite John Grisham novels, The Firm. It was easy to find and there was even an image of the cover. I then added three tags: Grisham, lawyer, loved it! Further down there was a tag cloud and I saw that lawyer and Grisham were fairly prominent, but “loved it” didn’t show up as a popular tag. That’s okay, I thought, as it is my own personal tag. Rather folksy and comfortable, I thought. Interestingly, it then showed me other members who had recently tagged the same book, a clear invitation to browse their virtual bookshelves as they may have similar reading tastes to mine. I clicked on one, just to see, Robin13, and discovered that she too, became a member today, is a MLIS student, and tagged several Grisham books. It seemed that with every click, I could go further in, see all of that user’s tags and clouds, including author tags, and so much more! Diane was right to warn that this site could become addictive! I can see how I have just begun to scratch the surface!! <rubs hands together in anticipation>. I quickly tagged two other books, Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, a gripping read which I still think about a lot. This book I tagged: Alzheimer’s and early onset. Right away I could see that there were other tags and suggestions of books that I might want to read on the same topic. Lastly, for today, I added Brian Goldman’s The Night Shift and tagged it: ER, doctors, true stories. As with the other two books, there are a myriad of directions I could go within LibraryThing just by clicking on other links, reviews, tags, etc. Try it – but beware, you might get hooked! I think I am.

I think it would be really great for more libraries to use allow this type of tagging and reviewing in their OPACs, but it has to be user friendly. I took a quick peek at Oakville Public Library’s OPAC and I really liked how the tags were easy to see and would clearly lead a reader into all kinds of discoveries based on other’s tags and reviews. How appropriate this is, I believe for libraries, to allow for the interaction of the larger group within itself to engage its community and promote the collection.That sounds a bit like a recurring theme throughout our lessons this semester: public, collective thinking and interaction, using social software to connect us all!

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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week 8 Microblogging

This lesson was so practical and hands-on for me. Aren’t they all? 🙂 However, I knew beforehand that while I have had a Twitter account for a few months, I have not been using it effectively. Oh, and as an aside, I didn’t realize that I was microblogging every time I post a status on Facebook. It does make sense, once you think about the word – micro (small) and blogging.

I didn’t understand how to use hashtags, although I knew the term and knew it something about categorizing words and/or ideas. Sounds rather like something a librarian would like! Once I read more in depth about them, I learned that it is really quite simple and effective! I really liked the article from the New Yorker magazine,  linked from the Twitter hashtag info page. I love the author’s muttered-into-a-handkerchief usage. I really didn’t know the subtleties of Twitter usage. I’m quite excited about this! I am beginning to understand why Twitter appears to be so popular. Although, as Diane Neal pointed out in her blog, there are reportedly only 5% of US Internet users using Twitter an any given day. This data is from August 2011, so it is possible the statistics may be changing. It still does seem like a low number. I’d love to do a little poll of our LIS 9763 class. If you are an avid Twitter user, meaning accessing Twitter most days, would you mind leaving a little comment below? Are we at the 5% mark, just in our little class of 20 or so people? I have posted very few tweets, although I do count myself in the 5% that check it every day. There are a few things that I follow that I really don’t want to miss. I am a news junkie, so I follow local and international news outlets as well as some library related groups. In addition, my son’s Grade 6 teacher tweets every day about homework and class expectations so I need to keep up with that to know what’s going on.

Rather than sign up for something new, I decided to further explore Twitter and begin to use it more actively, rather than continue to be a passive observer. I will still keep my tweets to a library or technology-related nature, as I know if I start a personal Twitter account “for fun” I will get lost in it. Time is already at a premium at this point in my life. I decided to do a search for #library and found an huge number of great library-related sites. Or are they called accounts? I chose a few to follow, a range of library related sites to keep me informed and, dare I say, entertained? I will do the same with technology themes as well, but for now, I have added the following:

  • School library Journal @sljournal
  • Sarah Houghton @TheLib (librarian in black)
  • RUSA (ALA) @ala_rusa
  • Nancy Pearl @Nancy_Pearl
  • Anne Marie Aikens @femwriter (manages media/communications at Toronto Public Library)
  • OLA Staff @ONLibraryAssoc
  • JobList Library Jobs @ALA_JobLIST (I am curious to see what the job descriptions entail – perhaps it will help guide me in my choices of classes in this programs. As a part-time student, I will be at Western for quite some time)
  • Edmonton Public Library @EPLdotCA
  • The London Library @theLondonLib (as in, London, England. I love to hear about international libraries and news. I am one of those people who wants to visit the local library wherever I am. Can we say #worldlibrariesfieldtrip?)

I’d be curious to hear what YOU are following in library world.

In considering microblogging for libraries, I have come to the conclusion that this is something worth exploring. David Kelly’s article  was enlightening and states the value of different types of tweets for libraries. I really like the idea of not only promoting events (creatively, too!), but also promoting the collection. Why not promote something, say a book about a movie or an event? Some people may not have even thought about the library to supplement their information/entertainment needs. Of great importance, I believe, is the interaction between a library and its followers. Of course, this takes time and effort from cash and time strapped libraries.

I do think that libraries may need to find a balance between Facebook and Twitter use, although with an app such as TweetDeck you can send your tweet directly to Facebook. Libraries need to consider if they want this content to be the same or not. As always, no matter what we do in libraries, we always need to consider the following: Who are we currently reaching? Who do we want to reach? What do we want to say? Finally, How are we going to say it?

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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized


Week 7 Social Networking

As usual, I found this week’s readings very interesting and so relevant to what I am thinking about in libraries in the “real world”. As noted in this week’s lesson, over 90% of Canadian women online have a Facebook profile and almost 80% of Canadian men do too. I found this report for Parliament quite interesting (although the government doesn’t seem to be using social media to its full advantage like I think it could), and one that libraries should consider when deciding if it is worth the time and effort to create and maintain vibrant social media spaces.

I was initially unsure about which “new” social network I should join. I use several already. These include:

  • Facebook – personal
  • LinkedIn – professional
  • Google+ – I don’t post updates on here – yet – but I really like Google Hangout and use it quite often now with family far away as well with my group for our 9763 group project.
  • Twitter – only to tweet items of a professional library and/or technology nature. I don’t use it for personal/friends as I don’t think I would use it enough due to lack of time at this point in my life (school, work, husband/kids, personal and professional volunteer commitments) and I think that a little used profile is worse than no profile at all. I’m sure the day will come when I will use this more for personal/fun use.
  • Pinterest – I’ve just joined this one since starting this class. I’ll admit it – I joined it and have done nothing more to it. I just heard so much about it that I felt I should  join, if nothing else to be able to understand what other people are talking about. Small as this might seem, I thought if Pinterest is the “next big thing”, then I as a librarian-to-be better be in the know. I can see how this site could take up quite a lot of time. I do have some concerns with the copyright issues and will be watching this closely.

That’s it. I know there are lot more, but each one adds more time to an already full day of time management! Since our assignment was to join something new, I decided to go for something that I think about every day – Library 2.0! I didn’t know about this one before this week’s readings, but I am intrigued by it. I signed up and filled out a fair bit of information (I assume they want to verify that I am who I say I am) and am now waiting to be accepted by the site administrators. It seems somewhat exclusive,  but I suppose this is to maintain the professional library nature of the site. I spent some time looking at what I could without being an approved member yet. It looks quite interesting, with different forums and groups (I want to join the public library group), news, notices for international conferences, and more. I saw a description for the BIBLIOTIC IV Congress, Access of Information Management and Research” in Bogotá, Colombia, an event I doubt I would have heard about anywhere else. I have family in Bogotá and have been there many times, and am always looking for an excuse to go. Time will tell if this site proves to be useful to me professionally, but I’m looking forward to exploring it more.

In order for libraries to “effectively hold their place in the larger conversation that we’re having with each other online” (Neal, 2012), I think one of the most important things for a library is to know and understand its audience. Who is it trying to reach? How is its community using social media? What does it hope to accomplish by establishing a social media presence? The answers to these questions, in addition to creating an effective social media policy, will begin to answer the question of how to be effective in our online conversations.

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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized