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Monthly Archives: March 2012

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