Jason Clark, Head of Digital Access and Web Services, and Timothy Donahue, Instruction Librarian at Montana State University, demonstrated how MSU has created customized omnipresent home pages using iGoogle gadgets.
Building on the fact that most students have gmail accounts, they built or customized about 15 gadgets that deliver bits of library services to students’ iGoogle pages. The gadgets deliver an interactive library map, street view of the library’s location, flickr images, chat, library catalog, and a media hub with videos and tutorials.
Building on the idea that “Discovery happens elsewhere” (Morgan Dempsey), MSU permitted placement of the Google’s familiar logo on the library’s page, which points to the list of available gadgets for students to add to iGoogle. Using the logo adds the cachet of relevance and currenty to the MSU image.
They briefly demonstrated how they created the gadgets by hacking or tweaking existing code, noting that some gadgets can be used as containers into which you can just drop some code (i.e. flash applications), and others need to be customized more heavily.
I found the following ideas interesting, and will take a closer look at how it could be applied at SPL: Databases – one gadget allows students to select from your databases and list only those they want to use; feed aggregator for library blog, new books, new videos, twitter; street views of branches (area around library).
Additional random notes:
Each gadget has a toolbar; if you click on the edit triangle, you can use the options to see the “webmaster” tools. IT can reverse engineer the code. For maps, you need to insert your lat/long.
On iGoogle page, there’s an “add stuff” – to go to the gadget search page – iGoogle for developers.
Google analytics can show which gadgets get the most use (catalog search), if you put a piece of code into each gadget.