Category Archives: social networking

Stump the Librarian

Last Thursday’s SacLib Facebook post invited readers to mention the last three books they enjoyed, and librarians would recommend titles for them to read next. The first time we did this was in Fall of 2011, and 24 people posted – we thought that was a fabulous response rate. On Thursday, there were well over 100 posts, and many comments that the librarians’ suggestions were “right on target.” It’s obvious that our readers love to talk about what they’re reading, and i’m happy that our staff was able to make relevant recommendations.

This success makes me think this might make a good assignment for my Reference students. If they could do something like that on the LIBT or City College Facebook page, this would give them a fun way to put into practice the lesson on Reader’s Advisory. If we can’t use the school’s Facebook page, we could do something like that on the discussion board for that week. The more I think about it, the more I like it!


Polling Your Public

I’ve been responsible for two twitterstreams this week: @saclib_central for my library, and @saclib for the library system. It’s hard enough keeping up with one account; two almost did me in. But thinking about bargaining agreement impasses and the declining role of traditional librarianship in public libraries led me to ask a question of the twitterverse: What’s important to YOU about the library? How can libraries truly demonstrate their value to their communities?

Back came the responses: Go where people gather: out in the community. Attend events, set up a booth at the State Fair, advocate for remote and in-house services. Become more visible. Tell people face-to-face about our services and programs. Offer value-added services such as classes, workshops and programs.

It used to be that everyone knew the value of libraries and felt guilty if they didn’t use the materials and services libraries provide. People used to find out about programs because they used the library regularly in person. Today, many take advantage of other online and remote sources and services, and are less likely to drop in. That means we do need to take our message into the market, so to speak. That also means that people who do not visit the library don’t know about the way we have kept up with the digital times, and are stunned to find out how our materials and services have changed.

The observations from our twitter followers are telling. They are telling us we’ve got to change, too, and not sit on our swivel chairs and bemoan the backwardness of the government agencies that control our budgets, and the ignorance of our patrons, who support us with their tax dollars. Whose fault is it that they are ignorant? What are we going to do about it?

Dear Yahoo, Please find Delicious a good home!

Like many others, I was dismayed to hear the rumors that Yahoo may stop supporting Delicious. (12/17/2010)  It took me SO LONG to convince my co-workers to utilize our Delicous bookmarks as a teaching tool and an online resource for patrons who attend our outreach and programming events, and now that we’re on a roll, there’s a roadblock.

What we’ve been doing is tagging the web sites we mention in our computer classes, class visits, and outreach efforts so that those who attend can easily find the list in one place afterwards.  I figure it’s a public service – we’ve represented them as reliable web sites and recommended them to our public.  We bookmark the appropriate set for each class, and publish the links when we visit community organizations.  For example,  here’s the set recently used for our “Dig it: gardening on the Internet” computer class.

I sure hope someone steps up to continue the service and keeps it free!

Geolocation Games

At Internet Librarian this year, InfoToday mounted a couple of geolocation games. They invited attendees to check in with FourSquare, and also to log the QR codes scattered about the conference signboards to become eligible for prizes like an iPod Touch. 

Most cell phones today have the ability to “know” where they are, and to interact with those places and nearby objects. Some librarians are putting this to use by setting up their libraries as a “venue” in FourSquare, leaving “tips” for those who check in there , and offering prizes to those who check in often enough to become “mayors” of their library.

My library hasn’t gone that far yet, but I can see it happening within the next year.  It would be fun to create a geocache or some kind of recognition for “mayors” of the Central Library.  I promised Boss I’d work on the geocache with a colleague after the first of the year.

RefRen: Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha has become a standard feature of conferences.  It is a way for many presenters to share ideas and projects in one conference session without having to prepare a full-blown presentation.  Each presenter has 20 slides, which are advanced automatically every 20 seconds – so the entire presentation takes about 3 1/2 minutes.  Following are a couple of Pecha Kucha presentations I thought might be do-able at SPL:
Paraprofessionals in reference
Emily Chan, University Of the Pacific
Data show 3/4 of questions asked by patrons are fielded by paraprofessional staff.  To streamline, they put training materials on a wiki platform: materials are  freely accessible, archivable, web 2.0.   Assignments collated, available in multiple formats (video, docs).  Confidence scale is measured at beginning of training and at points throughout on survey monkey; there was an 84% confidence increase (sample size=2).  Challenges: the training is asynchronous; time-intensive; self-directed; there is a learning curve; requires staff buy-in. Recommendations: identify learning outcomes from the beginning; be strategic in terms of reference service; address staff and student perceptions as they vary from librarian perceptions.

Roving reference

Sarah Davidson (UC Merced)
Has never staffed a ref desk with librarians; students who need reference assistance make appointments, or use 24/7 chat.
The university tried roving reference because they were receiving conflicting info: stats show few questions asked, but also felt there was a need for reference assistance.  By instituting roving reference, they hoped to increase visibility. For 20 hrs/week staff wore red shirts with the infirmation “i” on the back; when not roving, would staff desk.  The service was publicized by student assistants already working in the library who had strong customer service skills; by table tents, signage, promotional video on web site; campus newspaper. Staff used a debrief form for stats: length, types of questions.  Roving averaged 2.7 q/hr and each question took less than 1 minute. Common questions involved printing issues, or finding a known item.  Challenges: marketing, approachability, and proactive vs patron privacy.  Overall: number and type of questions do not warrant a libn at the ref desk.  Recommencation: start small, evaluate from outset; give some thought to advertising and branding.

Chat/text ref
Ahniwa Ferrari
paid/free options; new: quora, hunch, own vs cooperative; several ways, one way.  AskHoratio: phone, email virtual study room: google tools; social tools – create as many access points as you can so you can reach as many as possible; nice thing about using all google tools is that you can use them all in one spot w/ gmail account; Google has ways to tag questions; google voice: can see transcripts; can push to ref desk or mobile phone. Google Talk allows librarian with a cell phone to rove. Elluminate: everyone can get a free room (3 users) video upload, chat, whiteboard, application sharing, transcripts; Facebook: too many users for lib to ignore; twitter: not as many as FB, goes mobile easily even on dumb phones.  Free is good; but need staff time for training; cooperation is great.

Danger ref libn! Danger! Admin Approaching!

Get your admin involved; they need to know what the front line does, help you secure new resources to make public service more efficient; teachable moments – let your admin see you houre using new tools to promote outreach that dont cost a lot of money.  Builds relationship and understanding each other on personal and professional levels..  thin opportunity.

Radical patron
Jean Costello
Current public library funding models are unsustainable. Staff are bogged down with the basics, creating and recreating the same wheels.  Public libraries don’t have staff or funding to hire or be top notch librarians and top notch IT professionals. One solution might be to create a national public library corporation like NPR or PBS funded by public donations and  fed support what do you get? We could leverage IT, generic content development; we should retain personal service, local content development.

Helping teachers overcome resistance to e-content
Student ideas:
explain what a pdf is
conduct reality check with faculty and students in the classroom at the same time? students are informed, just not using trad sources
EBSCO effective in providing access to 1000s of subscriptions
Do reality check about the next environment you’re going to

More About Wave

I’m feeling a little better about Wave, now that I’ve been trying things for the past week. There’s a problem with lag, and many of the folks in the waves I’m following are not online when I am, so I have yet to see any real-time chat going on. I think, too, that a lot of folks jumped in like me, and now that they’ve looked around a bit, they’ve jumped out again.

I’ve created and participated in polls, and I added my location to an embedded map. I’ve uploaded a photo and a document, but the only way to collaborate on editing a document is to have its text as a blip on the wave. An uploaded document can only be shared by viewers downloading it, so – no real time collaboration.

So – is it useful? Probably, when the lag issue is resolved. Others are saying that G-mail integration would improve it, as well as some way to follow the threads as participants add comments. I would love to have work time and interested colleagues to experiment with it some more, but for right now, my learning is confined to after-hours at home.  There is also little documentation, but that is changing, and I’m adding some how-to links to my Delicious as I come across them.

I have some invitations – anyone want to play?


I received an invitation to Google Wave this morning. I’m frustrated that IE required a Chrome plugin and I can’t install it due to lockdown, nor does it work with Firefox Portable or Google Portable (no Flash).  Which means I’m up until ungodly hours at home working on the laptop.

I only know one other person with Wave – any of my colleagues out there Waving? I’m tired of having a conversation with myself.  It actually looks like it has some potential for meetings and collaborative projects, and I need someone to play with.