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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Week 3 Blogs and RSS

Blogs. I am really learning to love blogs. I have not had one before this term, although I followed several blogs, they were more personal “find out how my friends are doing in Thailand” kind of blogs, but recently have begun to realize the importance of professional blogs, library blogs. I have found some to be helpful to get ideas, to hear what other librarians are doing, to be challenged and inspired with ideas for my own library – I mean, for the library where I work (I sometimes feel like it is “my” library, which is little and cute and I am the only staff member there, which is really fun and really challenging. I digress.) I have discovered that reading blogs has also made me feel like I am a part of a wonderful community, in this case, library world!

I also think a library blog for the patrons is such a good idea, provided it is written well, actually provides helpful information, and draws the readers to action. A blog that nobody reads is not helpful to anyone, libraries or users.

RSS feeds are a fantastic tool to help minimize time spent filtering through all of those good websites out there. One site that I have followed for some time, Stephen’s Lighthouse, posts  library/tech information – and interesting cultural facts (as of this writing the most recent is an interesting infographic about millennials) fairly regularly. I subscribed to the RSS feed so that I didn’t have to keep looking at the site and could decide if I would or would not read the latest post.

RSS feeds in libraries can also be a great tool for the users to keep up with and manage information coming out of the library, but as I stated in my comment about blogs, they need to have information that the users really want or need to know, not just having RSS feeds for the sake of having them. People don’t want to waste their time on something that is not meaningful, helpful, or just plain interesting to them.

Lesson 3 has been a real eye opener for me. I can see now that I can be far more efficient in my management of “want-to-read stuff” by keeping it all in Google Reader. I subscribe to various blogs via email, but now I see that if I just add the RSS feeds to Google Reader, I can keep it so much more organized and manage my time more efficiently! The constant emails can get a little overwhelming sometimes. Perhaps I am behind the times in figuring this out, but I guess that’s partly why I wanted to take this class! 🙂 I have added a few more RSS feeds to Google Reader, and really haven’t had any trouble. They just all look a little different. Meredith Farka’s blog Information Wants To Be Free gave me a choice as to what reader I wanted to use; Librarian in Black didn’t seem to do that, so I copied the URL and added it myself. CBC’s RSS symbol was blue (silly me, I was looking for orange!) but it was there, and when I clicked on that, then it gave me a myriad of options, such as “Top Stories”, “World”, “Canada”, etc. (This time the symbols were orange, not that it really matters). So I just clicked on the one I wanted to follow.

I think I am going to have fun with all of this!

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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Week 2 Introduction to social software and libraries

This week’s readings created an interesting range of reactions for me. I found the readings fascinating, and a few points really stood out to me. First of all, it’s all about community. Interestingly, that is what libraries are, or at least should be, all about! Community is exciting! Libraries are so much more than “just” repositories of books and information. They are community centres, with free access to information. Libraries, whether they making use of social technologies or not, are hubs for sharing information, and a place where everyone belongs (in theory, anyways), a true hub in the community. It was exciting to read about what libraries can do. Maness lists four points of Library 2.0: “is user-centred, provides a multi-media experience, is socially rich, and is community innovative”. It is apparent, however, that libraries who choose not to implement this criteria into their present and long term plans, will quickly become irrelevant, going down the way in which naysayers have been saying all along, “the library is a thing of the past”. This is overwhelming, and provides an exciting, although daunting challenge for the libraries. O’Reilly and Battle make it seem simple, almost (although they did write their pieces several years ago). They suggest letting people “learn easily from and capitalize on the behavior or knowledge of others, and communicate, collaborate, and build community online”. Absolutely. I believe that we (libraries) can  provide the same library services, but that innovative thinking and new technologies must be used. I loved the idea of streaming story time for preschoolers on miserable January days when so many kids are sick with the flu and need to stay home. What a great example of providing the same service in a different way! Perhaps some systems are already doing this, but I have not seen it in my experience.

Farkas used an interesting term, “bottom-up online communities”. This way of thinking, where the the whole community is able to have a say, to participate, to share knowledge, is I believe critical in attracting those non-users who believe libraries are irrelevant. People want to have a say, they want to read the opinions of others, and they want to interact online with others, being part of a community. On a side note, the library where I work has a wiki used exclusively for staff to share knowledge. Some areas are solely for management to impart information, but in other areas staff are able to edit, make changes, and add information. It is a very handy source to go to when I am looking for information about the library and its collection and I can rely on the expertise of various staff members in different areas. This same idea could apply to online communities of library users, whether on blogs, wikis, Facebook, or Twitter. An interesting example which I recently read about is the Ann Arbor District Library which has a blog as its website, encouraging continuous feedback from its members.

Finally, although I am excited for the future of the library as community, I was left with some concerns. One is for rural library systems who do not have the resources that larger, wealthier libraries have. The cost for staffing alone to implement and effectively manage Web 2.0 technology in libraries could be prohibitive. The very nature of the technology demands that it be ongoing and ever changing. A library with few staff, many of them part-time, will struggle to stay relevant, and may, perhaps, become obsolete. Secondly, are the legal concerns raised by Carson. The implications of libraries not understanding their provincial/federal laws regarding privacy and defamation, for instance, could be significant. The library will have to clearly understand its role as it stands within the law, or the lawsuits or penalties faced could be catastrophic.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Hello!

My name is Susan Letkeman. This is my third semester as a part-time student in the MLIS program. I graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a BA in Elementary Education many moons ago and spent several years in the education field before choosing to pursue a new adventure. I was lucky enough to land a job as a library assistant for the Region of Waterloo Library and from day one I knew that working in a public library was what I wanted to do for the rest of my career. I am currently the Assistant Supervisor of the St. Jacobs Library (part of the Region of Waterloo Library). Stop by and see me if you’re ever a tourist in St. Jacobs!

I am taking this course because I am very intrigued by social media, and in particular its use within libraries. I use some social media personally but am really looking forward to learning so much more  as it pertains to libraries and how I might be able to use it professionally. Looking forward to learning with all of you!

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Uncategorized