29 May 2009

HEARD ON THE LISTS: Are Blogs Replacing Websites?

Barbara Keef [Windham (Maine) Public Library, USA] wrote the following on the LIBREF-L electronic list.
“At a recent local library meeting, the speaker suggested that websites were outdated and being replaced by blogs. The main reason for this change is that ‘People cannot interact and comment on a website. A website simply delivers information. If you are thinking about book groups or any kind of sharing of info, the blog is the way to go. Also in most cases it is much easier to add information to a blog site.’ Are websites being replaced by blogs? Pros? Cons? Comments?”

Scott Peterson responded, “It depends on where you draw the line at; many websites have comments/forums which allow visitors to post their input, such as Slashdot. Effectively these sites have been ‘blogs’ before the term became popular. On the other hand, a blog isn’t the answer to everything, nor does every website need to have a comment section. The assumption is that blogs/comments have the most current or relevant information, but a lot of the time it seems it’s more an endless opinion war. There are times I’d really prefer to read the information from a knowledgeable source than try and draw a consensus from pages of comments.

Dan Lester [Boise, Idaho, USA] had this to say. “Well, first of all, blogs are websites. Yes, they’re ones with particular software for a particular purpose, but that’s true of the website you call your ‘library catalog’ and the website called ‘Amazon’ and the one called ‘Susie’s House’o’porn.’ It isn’t really much different than fiction vs. non-fiction or a zillion other examples. But you’ll find those who think a blog is the way to go. Others prefer ‘forums’ or ‘boards.’ So, the basic question is ‘what is the purpose of what you want to create?’ And, you don’t have to have just one or just the other. Personally, I think you might want a semi-traditional (fixed content, updated as needed) with links to your library catalog website, a blog for what I’d consider to be ‘announcements on which people can comment,’ and perhaps a ‘board or forum’ for discussion on the book-of-the-month. Just look at all the options, join some sites if you’ve not already, and figure out what might be best for your need(s). And whatever the ‘answer’ is today, it may be different in 3 months or 3 years.”

Blogger (Librarian In Black) Sarah Houghton-Jan [San Mateo (California) County Library, USA] commented, “I think what is being targeted here isn’t really blogs vs. websites, but rather making sure that websites are more interactive. My guess is that this is what the speaker was getting at. That indeed is a trend, and an important one for libraries to pay attention to. But you don’t need blogs to make your website interactive. Anything will do it—a discussion board, community calendar, wiki, or just about anything else that allows the public to write content that is posted to your website. Blogs make ‘interactivity’ easy as they have a commenting feature built in. Allowing your website to be a two-way street is essential today. It is what our community expects. If your site is static with just library staff being able to post to it, you will lose a lot of your potential users.

Andrew Heiz [Flushing, New York] added, “As always when a new tool enters the toolbox it is thought that it will replace the entire contents. Web publishers have a new tool that allows a high degree of interactivity and flexibility, the blog. So that blog would be the tool to use if you want the commenting features you mentioned. But it won’t replace every web design tool available to librarians. A library may desire a certain amount of interactivity in their overall web presence. Blogs need a high degree of maintenance to stay current. While it is of little effort to update a web page or a blog, a blog is expected to be updated a minimum of daily and sometimes more frequently than that. A blog or web site is only as useful as the people who feed them. In the end whether you call your site a blog or just a site users will find their way to it if it is the following: current, accurate, easy to navigate, understandable, etc. In a nutshell blogs are not replacing web sites. Take away the personal blogs that are not relevant unless you are related to the blogger, the abandoned blogs, the corporate advertising blogs and I suspect that you’ll find an equal number of useful blogs and web sites.”

How to Succeed by Blogging

Tania P. Bardyn [UCLA, Los Angeles, California] has a very good article in the June 2009 issue of Computers in Libraries—Library Blogs: What’s Most Important for Success Within the Enterprise? (pp. 12-16) She asks if library management should support blogs in the enterprise and answers yes—if adequate software and creative librarians are present.

Five factors influence the implementation and eventual success of library blogs:

1. Develop clear strategies, objectives and plans.

2. Understand the value proposition of a blog. (reducing cost of producing marketing materials, reduction of email spam, more efficient communication, increase in site traffic, for example).

3. Incorporate multiple initiatives in the enterprise.

4. Engage library management in continual improvement of the blog.

5. Invest in IT in the library (by installing appropriate and sufficient technology).

The article and its suggestions are worth a read.

14 May 2009

Key Characteristics of Digital Natives:

Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research reported on his blog, Web Strategist, on a talk at the Corporate Social Networking Conference in Amsterdam. Dr. Urs Gasser of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society spoke on What Companies Should Know About Digital Natives. Gasser coined the term “digital natives.”

They interact with the peers across the globe, they are “always” online (by age 20, kids will have spent 20,000 hours online), extensive disclosure of personal data, a culture of sharing, they are creators not passive users, they often ‘graze’ the headlines and don’t often read the full article, they often experience work with community builders, and are responsive to intrinsic motizations, they learn through browsing and may not be able to identify qualified and expert sources (“If it’s online, it must be true!”)

URL: http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/05/14/what-companies-should-know-about-digital-natives

13 May 2009

Two Blogs to Help You

Just a quick note on two blogs I just came across.

Designing Better Libraries: "Exploring the application of design innovation and new media to create better libraries and user experiences." With this cast of contributors it has to be great: Steven Bell [Temple University] Brian Mathews [Georgia Tech University], John Shank [Pennsylvania State University], Jill Stover [Virginia Commonwealth University] Jeff Trzeciak [Mc Master University] and Michael Giralo [Princeton University].
URL: http://dbl.lishost.org/

For My Information: I couldn't find out the author, he/she writes "This blog helps me keep a record of the tools I use to teach my patrons - lawyers, legal assistants and other legal professionals - about the sites, sources and techniques used to conduct research...'for my information.'" Lot of good links here.
URL: http://resevoir.wordpress.com/

Good Stuff from Nicole Engard

Nicole Engard [Open Source Evangelist, LibLime, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] has two wonderful resources for librarians.

One is talia679's Feeds on Bloglines. Look at her list of library-related blogs in the following categories. You are sure to find several of interest to you. Business, Cataloging & Metadata, Conferences, Digital Libraries, Education, Gadgets, Law & Law Library, LIS, LIS Associations, LIS Career, LIS Fun, LIS News, Mac, Medical LIS, Open Source, Search Engines, Second Life Library, Tech News & Tips, Web 2.0 Misc., and Web Design

The other is What I Learned Today. She describes it as “Web 2.0 and programming tips from a library technology enthusiast, … covers blogs, RSS, wikis and more as they relate to libraries.”

talia679's Feeds: http://www.bloglines.com/public/talia679
What I Learned Today: http://www.web2learning.net/

12 May 2009

There’s a New Library Journal in Town

The first two issues of Collaborative Librarianship are available online. It looks to fill an overlooked niche in the library management field. From the site: “Now more than ever, libraries exist and thrive through collaboration and partnerships. Building on an impressive history of collaborative library experience, Collaborative Librarianship will add to the professional literature a wide scope of thought and writing that is: creative, evaluative, and scholarly.”

The journal is sponsored by the Colorado Academic Library Consortium, the Colorado Library Consortium, the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, Regis University, and the University of Denver. The editor is Ivan Gaetz [Dean of Libraries, Regis University, Denver, Colorado] and the editorial board includes, among others: Stephen Abram [SirsiDynix, Toronto, Ontario, Canada], Camila Alire [President Elect, American Library Association, Sedalia, Colorado], Christie Brandau [Kansas State Librarian, Topeka], and Jesús Lau [President-Elect, Mexican Library Association Universidad Veracruzana, Veracruz, Mexico].

If you register at the home page, you will receive the Table of Contents of each new issue by email. There is also an RSS feed.

Welcome, Collaborative Librarianship!

URL: http://www.collaborativelibrarianship.org/index.php/jocl

The Library Rebooted--Lessons for Library Leaders

Scott Corwin, Elisabeth Hartley, and Harry Hawkes of Booz & Company in New York have written very thoughtful article on the new library in the Google age. It appears in strategy+business, a publication of Booz. You have to register to read it, but it is free.

The best part are the seven imperatives for library leadership:

1. “Rethink the operating model. Many of the old assumptions about running a library—that the measure of a library’s quality is the size of its book collection, that there’s value in keeping even infrequently loaned books on the shelves, that library staffing questions shouldn’t be questioned—are outmoded and need to be set aside.”

2. “Understand and respond to user needs. Libraries have only the most general information about their users—how many of them there are, what they do when they are at the library, and what they borrow.” “Libraries should develop advanced capabilities to build aggregated profiles of users….”

3. “Embrace the concept of continuous innovation. …approach the innovation challenge with an entrepreneurial mind-set: test measure, refine.”

4. “Forge a digital identity. …some experimentation is in order.”

5. Connect with stakeholders in ways pure Internet companies cannot. …take advantage of [the libraries’] local strength and on the research library side share their service-oriented expertise in new ways and through new channels.”

6. “Expand the metrics. As they refine their mission, libraries will also have to change how they measure success. …online-specific metrics will have to be added.”

7. “Be courageous. The library’s underlying promise hasn’t changed…but the environment in which libraries operate has certainly shifted, and the challenge for those running them is to figure out the evolutionary path they should follow. There is no one answer…nothing at all is written in stone.”

URL: http://www.strategy-business.com/media/file/sb54_09108.pdf

08 May 2009

"I Love My Library" says band Lunch Money

Tony Tallent [Boulder (Colorado) Public Library], posted the lyrics to I Love My Library by the South Carolina band, Lunch Money. Here they are:

I Love My Library
I’m going to the library…to see my librarian…who’ll send me home with 60 things…as if I could carry them (I’ll bring my red wagon)…Passing out the picture books like my granny hands out food…”Leggi, leggi, take all of these…And you might like this one too”…and my brain’s getting fat on stories and facts…and it feels like love…All the librarians…they say come follow me…They’re looking straight at me….They take me seriously….and all the things that I’d never have picked….become my new favorites…I show them to my friends at school…and they get addicted too (to Nancy Drew)…I feel so understood when a story’s this good…Oh, it feels like love…All the things that I could ever wonder about are waiting here for me…All the places I could ever wander to…I have a ticket for free…and guess who tossed me the keys?…Books about boys and girls and magic worlds…Heroic dogs, a toad, a frog…Sleuthing teens and big machines…Hippo friends and astronauts…Freight trains and snowy days…Wind-up mice and caps for sale…Lightning and wild things…I love my library.


Lunch Money: http://www.lunchmoneymusic.com/
Tallent’s post: http://yestoknow.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/lunch-money-loves-libraries/

07 May 2009

Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies Report Available Free

An ACRL report, Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies at Ohio University, by Char Booth, is available as a free download. If you're in an academic setting, this could be very enlightening. You can also purchase it in softcover for US$46 at http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=2704

Download at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/publications/digital/

Considerations for a New or Re-designed Library Space

Jody H. Kelley of McKenna Long and Aldridge LLP, Los Angeles, California asked the members of the Private Law Libraries Section of the American Association of Law Libraries for suggestions for her new library space. The following are in no order (except for #1).

1. LIGHTING! The #1 suggestion was about lighting. Besides the universal wish for windows, I was also counseled to make sure I see the lighting plan before the space is built. You would think designers know that lighting is important in a library, but that appears to be an erroneous assumption.
2. Adequate staff/workroom space.
3. Comfortable chairs. One librarian suggested that I have a Partner sit in a chair for 15 minutes before buying them!
4. Waist-high countertops or pull-out shelves so library users can easily look through an index or do some quick research. I must say, this is high on my list.
5. Public access computer, training computer, sufficient outlets and data ports for laptops.
6. Ventilation! Control over heat and air.
6. Central library, in an open environment. Not shelves scattered around the firm.

06 May 2009

ALL CAPS or Upper and Lower?

the post just before this one, I put the title in upper and lower case instead of ALL CAPS like I've been doing. This is because Walt Crawford asked me to "stop shouting" with ALL CAPS.

Now, I'd like you to let me know if you like this change or want me to go back to ALL CAPS. Vote by sending me a comment on the blog.

Continuing Education Opportunity

My friend Larry Cooperman is teaching a month-long course, Managing the One-Person Library, at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts in July. It is only US$250 ($200 for Simmons library school alumni), which is a great price for this much continuing education. I am very happy that Larry is taking up the OPL workshop mantle from me, now that I’ve retired.

Larry is the library director at the Orlando, Florida campus of Everglades University, a four-year college providing baccalaureate degrees in construction management, aviation management, alternative medicine, and business administration. He is a 2002 graduate of Simmons and was library director at ITT Technical Institute (Jacksonville, FL) and media specialist at Seminole High School, Sanford, FL. He has presented a half-day workshop, IT Resources on the Internet for Librarians, at various locations; he also writes book reviews for School Library Journal, Reference & User Services Quarterly, and College & Research Libraries News.

Here is the course description from the Simmons Continuing Education website.

“Solo librarians will learn how to effectively and efficiently manage a one-person library of numerous types (e.g., academic, public, school) by learning operational, organizational, and marketing skills to ensure that their library grows, thrives and becomes an integral part of their school and their community. Solo library managers will also learn networking and professional development skills to enhance their experience and maintain their connections to the library community. Format will be weekly modules of reading assignments and written projects, with instructor assessment and student-instructor feedback and class participation. Students will be expected to actively participate in online discussions as an important complement to their written class work.

"Not all librarians work in groups; many work as a manager or director of one library, whether it be a small public library, rural library, or academic library. The work is challenging, yet very rewarding. These libraries may serve different patrons and have different operational and organizational methods, but there are many methods and operations that are similar to these libraries. This four week course will cover how to successfully manage a one-person library to serve patrons effectively and efficiently. Through discussion and exercises, attendees will learn and understand how to improve their library management."


05 May 2009


Kathryn Greenhill [Emerging Technologies Specialist, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia] has written wonderful piece on 21 reasons why learning about emerging technologies is part of every librarian’s job. She writes, “This list is designed to provide context and motivation for library workers to find time in their day for their own learning – either as part of a formal workplace learning programme or as self-directed professional development.”

1. Performing core business better: Our core business is linking information and people. There are new and better ways to do this and we need to know how.

2. Increased productivity: [Our work] can be made easier using emerging technologies, but you need to know how to use them.

3. Gaining international perspective: Your network of professional contacts does not have to be restricted to your own country. New tools make “communities of interest” easier to form.

4. Finding out what other libraries are doing: Printed journals and conferences are no longer the best way to find out about the successes and failures in other libraries. With blogs, wikis, podcasts--all harnessed into your aggregator via a subject search, you can keep up and have an avenue to discuss these things with professional colleagues.

5. Understanding all formats of information: Users will ask us about these information sources. Are we serving them well if we say “sorry I only know about information in some formats?”

6. Trend watching: Tools are constantly evolving and changing. What starts as a seemingly pointless diversion can become a potent information source when it reaches critical mass or people discover a new use for it. (eg. twitter). We need to be there watching this and understanding it.

7. Repurposing our traditional skills: Tagging, metadata, data-mining, indexing - new technologies need our skills.

8. Understanding technical background when dealing with vendors: If we don’t know what can be done, for free, using new tools, then library software vendors can continue to sell us “solutions” that are inflexible and costly.

9. Being prepared for when a tool moves out of early adoption phase: What a few early adopters are using now, others will use in 18 months time. If we learn about them in their early phase, we will have a good understanding how to use them when our users expect our services to incorporate these.

10. Understanding the redefinition of our core business: The definitions of some core concerns of librarianship are being re-negotiated - copyright, plagiarism, scholarship, authority, privacy and recreation. We need to be in among the conversations on sites where this is happening.

11. Managing our tech-savvy workers: We need young, tech-savvy, passionate, clever library staff to deal with the changes, and we need to know enough to manage these people and get the best out of their new skills.

12. No-one else knows your users as well as you do: Many new web tools are very simple to use and learn. A thorough knowledge or your clients – their needs, preferences and ability tends is not easily learned. Nobody but you will be able to assess how these new tools can serve your clients – but you need to know what the tools can do and how they work to do this.

13. Fun: If staff are given permission to have fun and be creative as they learn in a supportive environment, it can lift workplace morale.

14. Providing better service to our clients: If we know how, we can offer better service to our users, where they are and using their preferred tools. (e.g., SMS output of item location records to their mobile device via Bluetooth)

15. So we can tell the IT department what we want: If we feel overwhelmed by web-based technologies that are now only available in beta, imagine how it feels if your job has been to set up software, protect a network and standardise operating environments.

16. Our professional users are required to keep up: In academic and special libraries, our users are required by our organization to keep up to date with technology in their fields. To support them, we need to know what that is.

17. Many user interfaces have become “pseudo-standards:” The tools we will use from now on aren’t old standards like AACR2 and LCSH. The best tool for the job shifts and changes daily with our users’ needs. We need to learn general flexibility and skills to adapt to this.

18. Can’t predict the future–-so experimentation is insurance: Without crystal balls, we don’t know for sure what will be widely used. We need to try and assess many services to find what works for our users.

19. Crowds are fickle: Good quality tools with easy user interfaces may not be favoured over early established tools with a critical mass of users…and the crowd may switch. This happened when a mass of people migrated from bloglines to Google reader as their preferred aggregator. Today’s unused startup may be the Next Big Thing.

20. Collaborate better: Libraries have a culture of sharing resources and ideas with each other. Emerging technologies enhance this.

21. Experimenting increases skills: When Windows was first released, it came packaged with a game of Solitaire. People needed to learn how to use the mouse interface and to put in several hours of repetitive movements to get good at it. Solitaire turned out to be the fastest, most efficient way to educate the workforce. Some seemingly pointless sites teach us new interfaces.

Download the paper from http://librariansmatter.com/blog/2009/05/05/why-learning-about-emerging-technologies-is-part-of-every-librarians-job-educause-australasia-2009-presentation/

01 May 2009


To get an idea what a person in a wheelchair really needs in accessibility, read the review of the Boston Public Library on The Traveling Wheelchair blog. There are also short reviews of nine other Boston-area libraries on the blog.

Librarian Jessamyn West wrote about it on her blog, Librarian.net, “gives you a really good idea of not just what accessibility means from a legal perspective, but how it’s perceived from a wheelchair user perspective.”

BPL review: http://thetravelingwheelchair.com/the-boston-public-library/
West’s post: http://www.librarian.net/stax/2802/how-accessible-is-your-library/