Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Internet Librarian: Community Embraces Online 11 to 1

The King County Library System in Washington has created a mission to reach every patron, be it in person, away from the building, or online.

This effort revolves around teaching. This was already being accomplished in person and they decided to focus their efforts online. Staff were trained on all key online resources and collections. Hundreds of hours of instructional videos were created and put on YouTube, their eBook videos have been by far the most successful.

They have also created web guides and promoted their services through digital signage and social media promotions.

This mission has focused around education, infusing it into everything they do online. They left us with this message "It's not about what we want, it's about our users."

Internet Librarian: eBooks & the Future of Publishing, Lending, Learning

Stephen Abram from Gale Cengage Learning shared his thoughts on how Gale is moving into the future with eBooks.

The biggest changes in eBooks will revolve around children's books, large type books, and text/reference/nonfiction books. eThey also have to be learning style agnostic, eBooks need to become device agnostic, being able to access any information on any device. eBooks also need to be learning style agnostic, there will be more demands on eBook than were ever made from traditional print books.

Text/Reference/Nonfiction books will see some drastic changes. Social Networking tools will need to be added to take today's students use of collaboration and sharing. The internet is structured around articles and reference and nonfiction eBooks need to take on that structure as well. We do not read a nonfiction or reference book the same way we read fiction, the information must me made findable and instantly available. 

Childrens books have the possibilities to look nothing like a book does today. Why does an eBook have to have pages,? Have the same ending every time? An online platform will offer children to have a reading experience like nothing we know today.

Large print is not only for people with vision issues, kids with ADD have used these books with great results. eReaders have posed challenges for these kids, bright lights that some eReaders give off can be distracting and set off hyper activity. How will these challenges be addressed.

Internet Librarian: UX Tools of the Trade

Amanda Etches-Johnson from the University of Guelph share some tips and tricks for improving your website's User Experience (UX).

  1. Don't Redesign your site.
  2. Mere exposure effect, people like your existing site just because they use it. Instead make small changes like Amazon, they have only made subtle changes that matter.

  3. Write for the web.
  4. People use functional reading when on the web, scanning the page not reading every word. Remove all unnecessary words and keep everything short and sweet.

  5. Navigation.
  6. It's all about placefullness, do you know where you are within the site, what cues are you given. Avoid navigational overload and make sure that the page names match the navigation.

  7. Appearance Matters.
  8. Watch the size and styles of the font, not to big, not to little, just right.

  9. Useability Testing.
  10. Test often and all of the time. Use personas in making design decisions, ask library users and staff to comment on the site, look to analytics for what pages to drop or highlight.

Internet Librarian: E-Collections & E-Devices

Lisa Kurt and Tod Cosgrove from the University of Nevada Reno shared one of the simplest and coolest ideas I've seen, an eReader Bar.

The library put out a collection of eReaders, tablets, and mobile devices for their students to play with. The set up was simple, a counter was outfitted with devices and an informative poster above. This was not a success right out of the gate and they made many changes to get people engaged.

Here are a few tweaks they made to get their students to play with the devices:

  • Standing height counter, they first used a lower table which was not inviting.
  • Don't Stand Guard, don't hover around and scare off potential users.
  • Close to Staff area, while you don't want to guard the table staff need to be close by to answer questions.
  • Great Lighting

Internet Librarian: Developing a Mobile Presence: Mobile Web, Useability, and Devices

Esben Fjord from the Gladsaxe Public Library, Denmark shared how his library uses 30 iPads with staff and customers.

When money was left over in the budget 30 iPads were purchased with little to no plans on how they would be used. Goals were identified on what would be accomplished with this new technology:
Strengthen staff knowledge.
Use a facilitators for interaction in physical space.
Educate patrons.
Become a tech savvy library.
Staff brainstormed different ideas on how these iPads could be used and came up with several ideas:
Playing with Music
3 iPads were loaded with instrument apps to allow patrons to create music and 1 iPad has a music quiz similar to Name that Tune. 
Jane Austin Reading Club
An english language book club for expats, Jane Austin books and study guides were used on iPads that patrons could check out. 
Daily News
Newspaper apps for check out. 
Angry Birds Tournament
Children's program using the Angry Birds app.
The San Jose Public Library has created an augmented reality app. Scan Jose allows you to take a self guided tour of San Jose filled with local history and historic images. This project has been not been smooth and Nate Hill, Web Librarian, shared some tips on how to smooth app development.

  • Layar was used as their augmented reality browser.
  • Use storyboards to show how the app will be used.
  • Be short & descriptive with labels.
  • Think about where your user is, in the car, pushing a stroller.
  • Give the project some structure, this will support the project when unexpected changes occur.
  • Tell a Story.
Joel Shields, Systems Librarian at the Washington Research Library Consortium, shared how he helped in creating a mobile app for 8 academic and research libraries. The app has a mobile catalog, shows ill items on order, allows to access requested articles, and more. He gave several tips on how to look at mobile design:
  • Brevity is the soul of mobile design.
  • Don't over do it.
  • Make it a personal device.
  • It's OK to leave things out.
  • Make it look good.
  • Plan for the future.
  • Advertise.
  • Track Useage.
Joel also made the text of his presentation available to everyone to read.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Internet Librarian: Mobile Landscape, Cool Tools, & the Future

Jeff Wisniewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh, shared a few cool tools for mobile in the library.

Many sites are redesigning their site work seamlessly on mobile platforms, laptops, and desktop computers, look to the subtle changes at Amazon and the BBC. This allows for the swiping action needed to navigate on a tablet or smartphone.

Many smartphones now have location triggered alerts. This allows you to set a reminder when you are near a particular location. "Remind me to return my books when I'm near the library." The new iPhone 4S has Siri and Android has had Trigger for quite some time.

Wifi Joiner is an app for Android devices that allows you to scan a QR code to join a wireless network, no set up, no entering passwords, easy peasy.

Idea Flight is an app that allows you to share a presentation between 15 iPads. This would be a great solution for Library Board meetings and for staff/customer training.

Mobjectify shows you a mock up of mobile sites on multiple platforms. You no longer have to track down every type of mobile device to see if your mobile site will work.

Internet Librarian: QR Codes in Action

QR (Quick Response) Codes are being used everywhere these days, and in this presentation three academic libraries share how they are transforming their stacks with these tiny squares.

At the Montana State University library they are placing QR Codes on end stack signs that give sections of the Library of Congress Classifictaion system to help their students browse the stacks more efficiently. MSU also created an RSS feed accessible by QR Code to alert students to information about construction on campus.

Possible Application: a fridge magnet with a QR Code and the library logo, the code will direct users to Evanced & what's going on today. Customers can just scan the code when leaving their house to see if any library programs are going on.

At the University of California Irvine they created an online guide to explain how to use QR Codes. Also UC Irvine are attaching QR Codes in the stacks to notify students that there is online access for the journal they are looking for. San Diego Mesa College are placing bookmarks in the stacks to point out online reference books in the subject area.

Possible Application: QR Codes on the periodical boxes to link directly to the electronic copy in Gale General One File. The Gale databases will allow us to link directly to a single publication and authenticate without having to go through multiple login screens. Or we can link to the Gale AccessMyLibrary app for iPhone and Android users.

The University of Saskatchewan are using QR Codes for virtual campus tours. This would be a great use for large scale exhibits where we could have audio/video files accessible by smartphones and other mobile devices.

QR Codes also have fun applications, used in treasure hunts, and put on bracelets. These would be great activities for the library's Middle School and High School audience.

Internet Librarian: Opening Keynote

Where do I start? This opening keynote was inspiring and full of knowledge that makes me want to jump up from my seat right now and lead our library into the future. I was amazed that most of the key points in John Seely Brown's speech (JSB) speak directly to what we at Gail Borden Public Library are accomplishing in Studio 270.

The future will revolve around Entrepreneurial Learners, people who are constantly learning, tinkering, and playing to adapt to the continual changing environment. In the past our infastructure was relatively  stable, an individual would learn a skill and have 20 to 30 years to emplement that knowledge. Today things change at a brisker clip, our technology is changing about every 5 years and that gap is getting smaller and smaller.  

To become  Entrepreneurial Learners we need to acquire new dispositions:
Curiosity: pulling information on demand
Questing: seeking, uncovering, and probing
Connecting: to information, concepts, and groups
These new approaches revolve around learning, thinking, and acting.

"We participate therefore we are." Collaboration is everything, understanding is a social context. People are collaborating both in person and online; blogs, Facebook, and twitter are increasing our social circle and increasing collaboration. Andrew Sullivan from Atlantic Monthly has described blogging as joint context creation. 

Context is now fluid. Compare the differences between the Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia, they both have facts but where Encyclopedia Britannica is about content, Wikipedia is about context. This small differerence require new reading practices, make users evaluate the information, cultivates inquisitiveness, and also introduces an inside view to schollary practices. While we may frown on Wikipedia's use of everyone and anyone as an author but today it's just what we need. Timeliness has grown in imortance over authority.  

Look to the collectives for  Entrepreneurial Learners. Online collectives, Yahoo groups, Google groups, and online forums, focus on participating over belonging, have no demands on the users, cater to the individual's interest, and learning happens all of the time.

We are shifting from knowledge gathers to makers. This all revolves around the concept of remix, which at it's essence is taking old content and giving it new meaning, new context.  The world is in constant change, we need to regrind our conceptual lenses to understand the new context. Only through play can we set up our new lenses. "Play is the progenitors of culture and innovation" -John Huizinga

There are three different componets to the Entrepreneurial Learners; knowing, making, and playing. This will allow a new kind of deep tinkering that allows for play and change. Through play we allow ourselves to fail and then get it right. Play will be the new arena for learning.

Librarians are more important than ever, we can make the shift quickly and bring everyone along. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Internet Librarian: Learning is not Training

Training does not mean that the topic was learned. We must change our current training practices to encourage learning.

Bobbi Newman, learning Consultant
7 Training Tips
1. Know Your Stuff
It is important to review your materials before every training session because some one will always ask you a question that can through you for a loop.
2. Make a Connection
Know why the people your training are there, this allows you to adjust your presentation on the fly and know who might need more help.
3. Tell Them Why
Have an emotional story to tell, this will connect your participants to your topic.
4. Set Boundaries
Are there prerequisites for your training? Let the participants know when they are behaving poorly.
5. Admit Defeat. Temporarily
If you don't know it, find out the answer later.
6. Listen
Listen to your audience and adjust to what is needed.
7. Rewards
People love rewards.

Polly-Alida Farrington, PA Farrington Associates
Making Learning Stick
1. What's in it for Them?
Everyone needs to embrace change.
2. Basic Needs
Snacks, coffee, potty breaks.
3. Have Fun
4. Eliminate Stress
It's ok to try, it's ok to fail.
5. Encourage Play
"We are not running a nuclear power plant, it's ok to push the buttons."
6. Safety Nets
Provide handouts to those who need them.
7. 'Canoe Time'
Time for everyone to take a minute and talk to each other.
8. Participation
9. Mix it Up
Lots of opportunities to change things up and create learning opportunities.
10. I forgot what 10 was for.
11. Small Steps
What can you do differently?
12. Culture of Learning
It has to be in everyone's job description.
13. Find your Wings
Learning is an opportunity for everyone to find their own wings.

Emily Clasper, System Operation & Training Manager, Suffolk Cooperative Library System
Emily created a training system based on fun with game show based video games and videos. This would be a great way to have staff more involved with our virtual services and website content.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Internet Librarian: Creating Partnerships That Engage Your Community

Samuel Davis, Applications Solution Architect, Columbus Metropolitan Library

Columbus Neighborhoods is a joint program between the Columbus Public Library and WOSU, the local public broadcasting tv & radio stations. Together they are collecting stories and information about Columbus and have brought them together on the Columbus Neighborhoods website and special productions on WOSU.

The partnership was brought about because the library had the local history resources and infrastructure for long term sustainability of the information gathered and WOSU had the production capabilities and funding for the project.

Stories were collected about Columbus' bicentennial, a website was created, and the public was invited to fill in information. The program has been successful and well received by the public.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Augmented Realities and Libraries

Sarah Houghton-Jan, Digital Futures Manager, San Jose Public Library

"Cyberspace has leaked into the real world. What was inside the box... is outside." - Vernor Vinge

Augmented Reality is an overlay of information on vision. Taking digital points of data and applying to life in real ways. The simplest form of augmented reality are QR codes. When used with a smartphone that is equipped with a QR code reader these 2 dimensional barcodes can share links, text, and other information.

For more robust versions of augmented reality you will need a mobile device with GPS/Cell ID, Camera, & Accelerometer. This will allow for apps to know where you are and show you the correct data. Take a look at the app SnapShop, this app allows you to shop for furniture and home goods then through your mobile device show you how it will look in your own home. Also the app Wikitude will link you to information from Wikipedia and other online sources to show you information about what is near by. These apps bring digital information into your physical space.

Augmented Reality apps are not only for consumer good but also can have great possibilities for historical data. Universities are using augmented reality apps to show new and visiting students the historical points of interest on campus. The San Jose Public Library is also creating a historical walking tour, combining historical photos and information with their current physical spaces.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Internet Librarian: Fail Camp

Librarians share only when we succeed not when we fail. We like to reinvent the wheel but we can learn from failure. Librarians shared their failed projects a what they learned from it.

A Canadian IM service decided to as VoIP to their service to a video component. Using Skype they had very few successful interactions,this was due to many factors that included the patron's lack of the proper technology, librarians comfort level with face to face video, and the fact that Skype was blocked form many schools and businesses.

A University experimented with providing reference services in Second Life. In the end the it was a question of time spent, quality of the questions being asked, and they never really knew whose students they we helping.

After sharing from the audience it was decided to create a wiki for Library Fail. Visit it now at

Internet Librarian: Innovation, iPhones, & Paging

John Blyberg, Assistant Director for Innovation and UX, Darien Library

When the Darien Library moved into a new building the Reference staff noticed a dip the amount of questions they were getting and the type of questions being asked. To mange this new workload the reference desks were reduced in size from a multiple librarian fortress of a desk to a single person desk. This single librarian also began roving in the stacks.

Librarians were given portable phones and net books to rove with but the net books were bulky to use in the stacks. To fix this the Darien Library enabled librarians to login with their staff logins to the OPACs stations in the stacks. This allowed librarians access to all the resources they need to help patrons while away from the desk.

But the Reference desk is left alone and patrons are still visiting it as a service point. To still allow the librarian to leave the desk Darien put touch screen monitors on a swivel arm, when the librarian leaves the desk he/she will turn the monitor away from the desk and enable their touch for assistance program. A large button will appear on the screen that sys "Touch here for Assistance". When the patron touches the button messages are sent to librarian's computers, iPads, iPhones, and also iPod Touches. When a librarian accepts a service request the patron and all other librarian are notified that help is on the way.

This software works with the Growl client that works on PCs and Apple iPad/iPhone OS., a notification router, was used to create this, but Darien will make this open source for other libraries to use.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Internet Librarian: Managing Your Library's Online Presence

Jennifer Koerber, Web Services Librarian, Boston Public Library

We are little pieces everywhere, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a webpage. How can we be everywhere and let users know we are still the library. That can be achieved with consistency between the online sites. Consistency with logos, language, tags, and look & feel can let the patron know they are interacting with the library.

A style guide can be a great tool to keep language, color, and fonts similar on blogs, Facebook, ect.

Colleen Brazil, Content Access Manager, Sno-Isle Libraries

When the Sno-Isle libraries started using Overdrive for offering eBooks for patrons they believed that they didn't need any additional customer support, they were wrong. While Overdrive provides a great product for our patrons to download eBooks there is this barrier of DRM (Digital Rights Management). To understand this barrier see the comic The Brads: Why DRM Doesn't work .

To combat this they created a form for patron complaints was created for librarians to get some critical information that patrons weren't volunteering with their initial email, like what kind of operating system or device they were using. The form system also allowed the library system to tract the problems to verify that problems were being addressed, think IT trouble ticket system. This has eased the frustrations of both librarians and patrons.

Internet Librarian: Foursquare, Location-Based Social Networks& Library Apps

Jason Clark, Head, Web Services, Montana State University Libraries

Location is the next big thing, and it's showing up all over the web and on mobile devices. In the past content was king but it has switched to where now context is king. Every thing is is about location, "about half of the queries on google have a geographic component."

Libraries are making use of location with bringing together maps and location. Montana State University has used Google Maps to show the location of their research materials used in graduate thesis. North Carolina University has a mobile walking tour called Wolf Walk. san Jose Public Library has a grant to create an augmented reality mobile app that works as a historical walking tour of San Jose.

Joe Murphy, Science Librarian, Yale University

Location based social networking has really taken off with Foursquare. There are many players in the location game but Foursquare has really risen to the top.

Foursquare and other location based social networks have turned location into a game. With a mobile device users can "check in" to locations, with check-ins you can earn points, badges, and mayorships. Foursquare mayors are a way to identify some our super users, and locations can encourage those users to contiue to check-in and compete for mayorships by offering prizes.

Right now Foursquare is in the forefront of location, with 3 million users, but watch out for Facebook. Earlier this year Facebook launched Places, a function where users can check in themselves and other Facebook users into a location.

Location based services rare an engagement point, where we ware not only sharing what we do, but where we are. Customers are already engaging the library with location based social media, but how is the library going to respond back.

Internet Librarian: Information Architecture& Navigation

Jenny Emanuel, Web Services Librarian, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

What is Information Architecture?
"The art and science of shaping information products and experience to support usability and fundability."

Why is it important?
You can't have a site that meets the needs of all users with out structure,it keeps stuff useable and findable and it keeps the site flexible and scalable.

The top 10 things you can do to improve your website
1. Homepages
Homepages help identify the site and establish the brand of the library. They also can set the tone and reflect the personality of the library.

2. Pathway pages
They are gateway pages to secondary content and are great for category of stuff you can't put on the homepage.

3. Finding stuff
There should be five ways to finding anything in the site, but remember tyat the ease of finding them is better than multiple ways of finding.

4. URLs
Keep them short and simple, but in many content management systems URLs can not always be chosen.

5. Folders
Use them sparingly.

6. Scrolling
Jenny suggested that you shouldn't have pages long enough to need scrolling on home pages or pathway pages, but other studies show that people have no problem scrolling for short distances.

7. Writing for the web
People read in an "F" pattern across the page, but the most important thing is to break up the text in to chunks and when applicable use bullet points.

8. Page creep
Don't allow similar pages to be written, create one good page instead.

9. Tutorial and guides
Pick one name to define tutorial, and one place to house them.

10. Accessibility
Remember to make to pages accessible to everyone.